Dead Orbit

WANTED

ADVENTURERS, BOUNTY-HUNTERS, AND SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE

In recent months, at least one starship of scavver low-lives have been picking the bones of our deceased brethren rightly and properly committed to the Deep, walking bright on the dead orbit, and stealing genes, grave-goods, and the memorials set out for them.

We offer the sum of 50,000 exval for these grave-robbers, dead or captured;

the sum of 100,000 exval if, in addition, the stolen grave-goods and memorials are recovered;

the sum of 250,000 exval if, in addition, these are returned to our brethren, and they in turn are returned to their proper drift.

APPLY FOR DETAILS

Fraternal Society of Gentlesoph Spacers
above Spacer’s Hiring Hall, Solid Street, Startown

– bulletin posted at the starport,
Thurid (Sarkandine Wall)

Question: Dark Stuff

In recent questions:

What’s the status of dark matter/energy in the setting?

Munson sez: ‘There ain’t no such thing. Somebody just needs to correct their math, is all.’

The honest answer is “I haven’t established that yet”…

…but here’s some bullshit I just made up that should not be considered official canon:

If the in-‘verse theory of information physics (and its non-local hidden variable implications) is true, then the universe has a lot of metadata to keep track of. (Traditionally described as kept “Elsewhere”.) The more interesting interactions happen in any given location, the more metadata is generated.

Let us now handwave some sort of information-energy equivalence, or at least that information has its own effect on the space-time metric. (In honor of the original author who came up with this one, we can call it Pratchett’s L-Space Hypothesis.)

Conclusion: dark matter is actually all the universe’s metadata distorting space-time from its secret lair. It tends to halo around galaxies because that’s where all the interesting stuff happens.

(Let the weeping of the physicists now commence.)

((For those who don’t mind a particularly silly universe – and this one is definitely not canon – we could also postulate that dark energy, which has the opposite – universe-expanding – effect, is produced by ignorance; or, I suppose, technically, computational operations which could have happened but didn’t produce it as a byproduct. So study hard, folks, and keep thinking — or the universe will explode!))

Máquina de Carne

The infamous tragalrás athánar (“meat machine”) – by whichever regional designation it is known1 – is both a awful and an excellent weapon. On the former point, certainly, it is crudely designed, generations obsolete, dumb, inelegant, and a wide assortment of other things which tend to give professional Imperial weapons designers fits of the vapors.

On the latter, however, it is durable, reliable even under the most stressful conditions, adequately lethal against soft targets, simple enough for even low-tech cottage industry to manufacture, and adaptable via an assortment of relatively simple kluges. It is these latter qualities that have made it the favored personal weapon of paramilitaries, asymmetrists, and criminal gangs the Worlds over.

Tracing its mixed heritage back to a variety of pre-gauss automatic rifles, the contemporary Meat Machine inherits a centuries-long evolution of design features chosen for maximal simplicity. The basic systems of the MM are an open-bolt design, using a spring-loaded magazine to push cartridges into the breech, where a gas piston advances them to firing position in the chamber when the trigger is pulled. It lacks any ejection mechanism; the cartridges are caseless, cast from a foamed propellant/oxidizer mixture – enabling it to operate in vacuum, in exotic atmospheres, or even submerged – beneath the bullet. This propellant is ignited by a mechanically or piezoelectrically generated spark. Residue build-up is generally loosened by the action and purged by the next shot, but does require periodic barrel cleaning.

Its design is very simple for ease of manufacturing or repair, using a wide variety of materials. In the most basic designs, the receiver is typically stamped (or occasionally machined) out of a single steel billet, whose scraps are used to construct the entirely mechanical action, mounted on or in a plastic or scrap wood frame. This makes it trivial to construct for most fabrication facilities, and simple even for pre-fabber cottage industry to turn out workable examples. Common dry lubricants – even animal grease – complete the assembly.

Performance varies widely depending on the quality of the assembly and the components of the foamed propellant, from barely adequate to sufficient to penetrate most civilian and low-grade military armor – proof that while the industry as a whole may have moved on to mass drivers, old chemical propellants still have some use. In addition, the flexibility of the weapon where propellants are concerned make it easy to avoid traces that show up on commonly-used sensors, including that of high-energy powercells.

In short: it’s a piece of junk that has its uses, and one not to be surprised by the wrong end of.


1. Common examples include “Meat Machine”, the name given to it by Resolutionist Faction ironmongers; the Nal Kalak Type 43, as it is known to one of its official manufacturers; RUSTY LEMON, the cryptonym assigned by Imperial State Security; the “Sewerslum Special”, a nickname from League of Meridian law enforcement; and “the ablative meat-stick”, as it’s known in the mercenary trade.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: Demév

demév: (from old Cestian deméthír, “wizard”) skilled practitioner, professional, one of notable expertise in a given area.

Casual descriptions of such expertise can be given using tra- compounds; however, various formalizations of these exist both general, such as alathdemév (loremaster), eléfdemév (obligator, “oath-master”), haindemév (warmaster), and mahademév (craftsmaster); and specific to individual professions.

Examples of this latter include alételídemév (pilot, “master of winds”); brandemév (blacksmith, “iron-master”), a specialty of nistrademév (smith, “forge-master”); riandemév (blademaster, meaning by extension a master of the martial arts); sashírdemév (fashionista, “master of glamor”) and leirdaërdemév (manipulator/intriguer/diplomat, “master of mist-games”).

Ear-Worm

Item: In fresh cognitive threats this month, the Bureau of Internal Memetic Defense reports that the popular song “And A Plan I Found Atemporal” is the first known example of a memetic resource-hijacking, rather than a simple memetic resource-consumer. Sufferers from the Plan-Atemporal hijack find themselves coining additional lyrics to the song, which through a simple transform demonstrate themselves to be computations of further digits of π, which continue until the sufferer is sufficiently distracted to take the Plan-Atemporal hijack out of short- and medium-term memory.

There appears to be no method in the Plan-Atemporal hijack to read out the end result of the computation – and, for that matter, we already have more digits of π than this method can plausibly generate – but it seems clear that someone’s experimenting.

More information as we have it.

– Cognitive Threats Monthly (Sunarast 2960)

Cultural Crossovers #21: Captain Marvel

As before.

  • Someone with blue blood? Finally! How natural!
  • The Kree homeworld, eh? Thought they were blue-skinned, too.
  • Well, that’s an interesting approach to warrior philosophy.
  • Oh, that kind of Supreme Intelligence.
  • Ah, shapeshifting infiltrators.
  • We do have to wonder about what is going on with the Skrulls, given that what we know so far about the Kree suggests that they are kinda dicks.
  • Empowering implant, or restraining bolt?
  • So, some of them are blue-skinned. Hm. Eumelanin-deficient subspecies. Seems oddly familiar.
  • Impressive shapeshifting. Terrible authentication codes.
  • See what I mean? Terrible authentication codes.
  • …wait, you’re a Terran?
  • No, the audience is at least as confused.
  • Interesting form of memory extraction.
  • Yeah, that’s pretty much the first thing they teach you to watch in espatier school.
  • Although they really should cover how not to make re-entry, too. That said, it takes one hell of a personal force-field not to have left a rather bigger crater than that.
  • Well, your night report is gonna be interesting.
  • Nice technical education, too.
  • Well, hello, young-looking Coulson and primordial Fury.
  • I love a subtle undercover mission.
  • Wait, so did you go back to not acronymizing yourselves at some point?
  • “Not on the periodic table?” Seriously?
  • Someone’s memory blocking techniques need work. See, this is why you don’t use that as a substitute for memory erasure, and preferably filling in the gaps.
  • Are you wondering yet where your stock of Terran lore comes from? I presume they didn’t cover that in Kree school?
  • You’re gonna have a very confusing family.
  • Aw, they’re bonding.
  • Nice kitty. Nice, not at all suspicious, kitty.
  • So, a Kree researcher building something on Earth. I wonder what the Kree is for “stone knives and bearskins”.
  • Oh, my. Now that’s an interesting picture, isn’t it?
  • See, cold, rational judgment at this point would also conclude that that guy’s lying like a weasel.
  • Always that good, huh, Coulson.
  • Ah, Ronan. Just popping in to remind us of the dick factor.
  • Always good to have a memory cascade in a box lying around.
  • With just a little deception, then.
  • That was actually an astonishingly nice landing.
  • Oh, of course it is. Who else would it be?
  • Wait. All you need to do to get your ridiculous quantities of mojo is blow up a drive core near yourself? Shit, we’d be blowing them up every week. (Insert chorus of “That’s Not How Any Of This Works.”)
  • Yeah, that sounds like the Accusers. Based on the example we’ve seen, anyway.
  • Kid, we like you. You’ve got a good future.
  • Ah, yes, the curse of the shapeshifter. Taking requests.
  • Always secure your cat before leaving the atmosphere.
  • Hello, spaceship. Miracle you didn’t run into anything up there.
  • Oh, that explains it. It’s that “core”… wait, is that where that’s supposed to be right now? Guess Howard Stark was behind that project at some level?
  • Awww.
  • That’s a cute name for brainwashing.
  • Hard to fight inside someone else’s virtuality.
  • Now that, on the other hand…
  • …especially since that is a restraining bolt…
  • …and the “Supreme Intelligence” appears to lack quite a lot by way of actual supremacy.
  • Well, that’s one way to encase an Infinity Stone. Damn lucky you didn’t accidentally a flerken’ god, though.
  • Yes, very good kitty.
  • Not so good kitty. Unless…
  • …damn, he’s good at that.
  • Nice flying!
  • Who needs a plane when you have incredible cosmic power, right?
  • Also: evidently the (yellow) mind stone in the scepter empowers people with blue-themed mojo, while the (blue) space stone empowers people with yellow-themed mojo. Does that seem right to you?
  • They’re not ballistic warheads if they have engines, guys. Sorry, but no.
  • And they’re severely outmatched. May I suggest the tactical maneuver known as Running The Fuck Away While You Still Have Ships Left?
  • “Or not.”
  • And that would be why Fury never tells the eye story.
  • So, one reversed-order pager incluing.
  • Ah, yes, the so-briefly “Protector Initiative”. Ha!
  • …meanwhile, back in the aftermath, and y’all really should have seen her coming.

Lumenna-Súnáris System (12): Andrár

So, having completed all ten planets of Lumenna in this series, we now move to its companion star’s nine, once again, beginning with the innermost:

I/1. Andrár

Class: Eurymic
Orbit (period): 0.08 au (6.198 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.06
Radius: 2,850 miles
Mass: 2.51 * 1024 kg
Density: 4.88 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.81 g

Axial tilt: 1.2°
Rotation period: 6.198 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 687 K
Surface temperature (avg., sunside):  824 K
Surface temperature (avg., nightside):  69 K

Atmosphere: None.
Hydrographic coverage: 0%

Satellites: 2 moonlets.

The innermost planet of Súnáris, tide-locked Andrár was a twin of Eurymir in all but name; a tide-locked rockball of brightest day and blackest night; if anything, even more sun-scraping than Eurymir.

Its colonization, however, followed a markedly different pattern. Rather than an experimental or resource world, Andrár came under serious consideration in the era in which laser sails and early fusion drives were competing as possible propulsion systems for the first interstellar starships. Andrár, thus, was developed as a power plant and interstellar laser system.

Much of the surface of Andrár, in the modern era, is oddly smoothed by years of autoindustrialism – on sunside, the planet is practically plated pole to pole with layers of solar panels and thermal generators, whose cold radiators likewise cover much of the nightside, broken only by the rectennas beaming power to the planetary ring statite (and other nearby habitats), and the huge laser arrays dangling upwell therefrom.

While not used for the colonization ships the designers had in mind (Kasjan Lyris’s fusion drive having won the battle to power the Deep Star vessels), Andrár’s lasers did sterling work propelling starwisp probes to nearby systems in preparation for the colonization efforts, and served as interstellar communication lasers during the days of the Thirteen Colonies. While the renaissance promised by the Laserider Network never came about, due to the discovery of a workable FTL system, the Andrár Beam Station continues to power starwisps on their way through the Thirteen Colonies, and supply various other initiatives in the home system, such as comet melting and zone refining, that need all the laser.

(Computation of exactly how much energy you can extract from the sunlight falling on half the surface of a world 0.06 au from a K2V, plus the above temperature difference, is left as an exercise for the calculation-loving reader. For everyone else, trust me, it’s a fuckjoule.)