Medina completed yet another wonder in 375AD.
I was still building military units and some settlers in the other cities, and for an optimal game, now would have been the time to attack someone. The rest of the unlcaimed land consisted only of coastal tundra locations, so taking over either Alex or Cathy and later signing an alliance with the other one would have been the best plan here for a fast finish. However, the variant rules did not allow that, and that was fine with me: I was tired of warfare for different reasons and wanted to have a peaceful builder's game instead. So I continued to build settlers and filled the rest of my lands peacefully, and planned for a space launch later on.
Around 500AD, relations with Alex moved into the Safe Zone.
Friendly relations meant he would never attack me, which was how I intended it to be. Relations with Cathy moved into the Safe Zone as well a short time later. That didn't mean my military was useless, though: There was another juicy barbarian city I was able to take over.
As much as it pained me to do, I followed my usual research path of going for Liberalism next. No tech trading allowed meant I wouldn't be able to trade for all the techs I missed on the way, but signing a permanent alliance later would result in exactly the same result. I hadn't thought I would be able to discover Liberalism first competing against AI teams with joint research, but apparently they neglected Education and Liberalism again as they so often do, and I managed to get the free tech from Liberalism in 1200AD. Here's my empire at that time:
I took Nationalism as my free tech, as I wanted to build the Taj Mahal for the golden age, and Nationalism does get prioritized by the AIs quite often. Note how I had built and whipped universities almost everywhere already, and was now building Oxford University in Medina.
Another reason for grabbing Nationalism of course was that I was now able to sign defensive pacts. You need a defensive pact (or a mutual war) for at least 40 turns before you will be able to sign a permanent alliance, so signing the pact as soon as possible looked like a great idea to me.
Unfortunately, this resulted in a rep hit with Alex, as he wasn't too happy about the fact that I signed such a pact with one of his rivals. Relations dropped to pleased again, but now I wasn't afraid of him anymore - although he had several techs I lacked, thanks to my depth-first research.
I had met the other missing team in 1090AD, consisting of Napoleon, Bismarck, Gandhi and Roosevelt. Nappy's role in that team seemed to be that of the bully, and he found a willing victim in me.
Take everything you want from me, as long as you leave me alone! Thank you. And thank you Sirian that the "no tech trading" option was switched on, so that nobody could extort any techs from me.