Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (10)

The Burning Brickyard: Located in the middle of the Bright Desert, in possibly the most inhospitable terrain Eliéra has to offer, this 108-acre site is the primary nuclear waste storage site on the eldrae homeworld, with millennia of high-level waste stacked in pyramids of vitrified glass bricks glowing gently, interspersed with occasional stacks of long-set bricks of decontamination foam from ancient clean-ups.

Of course, you can’t see any of that from the perimeter fence; unless you have business there, you can see the small administration building, and the even smaller visitor center, and that’s about it. Do not cross the perimeter fence to try to get a better look at the waste however impressive sight you might think the sight to be; the signs hung on the fence reading “IF YOU CROSS THIS LINE YOU WILL DIE” are intended literally, and if you ask at the visitor center, they can show you the small pile of bricks containing the remains of the last few fools who thought that they weren’t. On the monitor feed, of course; they won’t be safe to visit in person any time soon.

Just buy a postcard at the gift shop, and move on.

Better yet, write and ask them to send you one.

 

Heavy Cavalry: Fields of Fire

It seems there is a peck of confusion out there concerning exactly how the “base platform” weapons on Imperial heavy cavalry units actually function, and even are mounted (including at least one case of confusion so profound as to believe the rear/local defense guns were “sticking out the back of the turret”, in the style of anti-infantry defense MGs from early last century, despite the platform – without a module installed – not having a turret.).

Here is a diagram in my inimitably terrible style:

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That’s your base platform, driving left to right. Green at the front are your cheek-mounted (i.e., in a three-axis gimbaled mount on the side of the vehicle) heavy mass drivers, target designators, and micromissile launchers. Purple at the rear are your cheek-mounted medium mass drivers for local defense. Both weapons are illustrated in their default rest position, i.e., forward-facing or rear-facing, respectively.

As can be seen from the shaded fields of fire, both can train sufficiently to hit anything on their side of the vehicle that doesn’t actually involve training through the platform body or the other weapon mount; i.e., the forward cheek-mounts can hit anything from directly forward (with a small blind spot directly in front of the vehicle) to not-quite-rear; and the rear cheek-mounts can hit anything from directly behind (with small blind spot directly behind the vehicle, likewise) to not-quite-directly forward.

In short, there are plenty of things for them all to shoot at.

 

Cultural Crossovers #10: Guardians of the Galaxy

Oh, this should be fun —

  • As we’ve said before, mortality sucks. And being the grandfather who loses his daughter and grandson in the same moment sucks unimaginably.
  • Those who remember the very first trope-a-day will know why one might have to explain the whole alien abduction thing to this audience.
  • Well, look who’s rockin’ the adventurer archetype, complete with hint of xia. (Imperial culture loves this archetype so hard, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the audience will be rooting for Star-Lord from now on.)
  • We have artifact sign!
  • Oh, yeah. Nice ship, nice gadgetry, this is how this shit is done!
  • …oops.
  • Well, aren’t you an interesting lot.
  • So, looks like the Kree go heavily in for the big, dark, and gloomy architecture.
  • …also for the unnecessarily repulsive bathing habits.
  • Well, hello. You seem more interesting than the average bounty hunter.
  • (Also, is everyone else a hominin in this universe? Wut.)
  • Even the one from a completely different tree, heh, of life. At least in body plan.
  • Yeah, it’s amazing how many adventurer circles meet that way.
  • Prick, indeed.
  • And are described that way.
  • Xandarian prisons would appear to be about as bad as the audience expects. And have no respect for private property! Bastards.
  • Let’s see: a wanderer, the hand-crafted pawn of an insane Power, a prototype uplift, and a tree. Oh, and Broody McEngravedPants. Yeah, sounds about right.
  • Looks like he earned that name honestly, judging by the reactions.
  • Nice even-with-translation difficulties, there.
  • Someone wants to speak to the organ-grinder. I don’t think he’ll enjoy it.
  • Ah, it’s going to be one of those plans.
  • I love an enthusiast with a gun taller than they are.
  • The things that make up a chap’s reputation. My, oh my.
  • Okay, even by the audience’s local standards, this is a brilliant escape plan. Although it raises some questions about the maximum-security prison’s security.
  • Yeah, some things are important.
  • …or an enthusiast for blowing up moons. Love those too.
  • And eww. Even without black light. Especially since the audience can see in UV.
  • Is that arrow a knife missile? Shiny.
  • Well, that’s novel. And creepy. And faintly disgusting. Squishier than we would usually expect ancient Powers to be.
  • Aww, Groot.
  • Okay, someone’s going to have to explain that reference.
  • All the love for the phrase “pelvic sorcery”. Three logotects submit a new word to the Conclave by morning.
  • We might like you if you weren’t such an asshole to your staff, or perhaps we should say slaves.
  • Well, that’s some suitably terrifying ultimately-paleo paleotechnology.
  • And this is the pragmatic reason that you shouldn’t have slaves.
  • (Also, what the heck did that do to the other Infinity Stone you have lying around there?)
  • That’s a good reason.
  • Drax, never get drunk again, ‘kay?
  • And for him, it was Tuesday.
  • You like that plan, huh? RAMMING FTW.
  • Well, that’s definitely a basis for a relationship…
  • Hell of a play, Quill. The audience applauds, anticipating the follow-up gambit.
  • Groot, thoracic surgeon?
  • Oooh, someone’s caught ambition.
  • Oh, gods, this meeting. Just… this meeting. But especially the moment that it ends with.
  • …and then Rocket.
  • Wait, wasn’t that a metaphor?
  • What is it with you and other people’s body parts? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.
  • Hell, “Not 100% a dick” is a pretty apt description of the entire adventuring profession. Certainly as viewed from the outside.
  • (Sadly, the dick message will require cultural translation. As will Kevin Bacon.)
  • Now, that’s a neat trick, but I think the audience might question the practicality of turning your mobile defense into an immobile shield, especially when the enemy has mobile units of their own,
  • Ah, Drax. Tact is something else that your culture missed out on, isn’t it?
  • …you do grok friendship, though.
  • Oh, yeah, that’s a knife missile!
  • Urgh. Macrotech cybernetics are ugly when self-repairing.
  • Evidently, he has reserves. And Saal, you’re kinda racist towards the one saving your city’s ass right now. Well, okay, part of it.
  • Keep working on it, Drax, you’ll get there.
  • And that’s why you don’t bring Sakaarans to a Groot fight.
  • Well, damn.
  • Aww, Groot. Is this theater dusty? I’ll call someone to clean the filters… in a minute…
  • And Star-Lord wins the furthest-beyond-left-field improvised plan award, this and possibly all years.
  • Yes, that you most certainly are.
  • Well, now, isn’t that interesting?
  • Looks like Drax has also caught some ambition. I hope it ends better.
  • Also, good for the Nova Corps in actually, unlike maybe 99% of similar organizations, having some gratitude.
  • Oh, don’t troll the poor man. Well, too much.
  • Grootling!

Oh, yeah. Despite the pop-cultural references – spoken and visual – needing a gnostic overlay or two to make sense, this one fills theaters for months, easy. The audience loves it. The fan community starts building stuff from it. The soundtrack inspires musicians to the sincerest form of flattery. Just about perfect, in fact.

So that went well.

Moments in History (3)

Red Planet, Blue Sky?

The news on everyone’s lips today here in Orbitfall, as well as back home, is the televised deployment of the new soletta array here in Talentar orbit. While not the first step taken, the soletta is the first tangible result of the comprehensive ecopoesis program announced last year by the Spaceflight Initiative, Project Redblossom, which will allow eldrae to walk on the blue-green surface of lowland Talentar without respirators within three centuries. Present with the project lead and the colonial legate at the unfolding ceremony today were representatives from several of the Empire’s constituent nations most represented in the Spaceflight Initiative, and from the newly formed Orbital-Seléne Alliance.

The soletta array is the first and principal orbital mirror in an array which will be deployed in synchronous orbit, reflecting the suns’ light as part of the ongoing effort to warm the planet. Smaller mirrors will also be deployed for use in melting the planet’s surface rock and liberating some of Talentar’s hidden water, presently locked in frozen aquifers.

But not everyone is happy with the ecopoesis program. Diplomatic protests have been lodged by the Cerenaith Alliance, both here and back home, citing lack of consultation and concerns with the potential use of the mirrors as orbital battle platforms. I spoke to one of Project Redblossom’s senior engineers:

“Seriously? If they’re going to complain about the mirrors, what are they going to do when the ice asteroids get here? Lyricen Lacus isn’t going to carve itself, much less fill — this is off the record, yes?”

– from the Imperial Infoclast, summer 2273

Question: Useless Machines

Specialist290 asks:

So what do the eldrae make of the idea of “useless machines”?

The most famous example, of course, being the machine whose sole purpose, once turned on, is to turn itself back off. (Like so: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z86V_ICUCD4 )

Insert usual disclaimer about the reliability of capsule summaries of the opinions of over a trillion sophonts.

Well, for a start, they aren’t “useless machines”. Useless machines manifestly fail to work properly. These are “amusing mechanical follies”, like Rube Goldberg designs, which are… amusing. Also decorative.

(The ur-example of the class *there* is actually a Precursor artifact, nicknamed “The Uncrater”, a black-box widget whose sole function appears to be declining to be packaged up in the current local language, then quietly disintegrating any packaging material used to attempt to do so.

You’ll find it indexed under “Amusing Mechanical Follies”. Also under “Suspected Precursor Practical Jokes”, and “Seriously, Guys, What The Hell?”)

 

A Musing & the FAQ

On the evergreen question of what about us, Earth-now, the Imperials might find worthy of a little respect, a recent rewatching of Apollo 13 reminds me to mention that our space program, especially of the Apollo era, definitely qualifies.

Bear in mind, for one thing, that for various reasons involving their homeworld’s quirky perversions of physics, that their moon program, Project Silverfall, didn’t reach fruition until they were already a mature information-age society, and so Moondancer and her sister ships, along with Oculus Station and so forth, were all equipped with fancy, modern integrated network systems, and other technology of similar advancement, with the controls looking rather more like a Dragon V2 touchscreen-and-voice UI than anything else. (And, of course, it was a roomy Orion ship, not a capsule that barely fits its crew.)

So, y’know, it wasn’t quite “In a cave! With a box of scraps!” from their perspective, but getting to the moon with slipsticks and core memory, in a vehicle smaller than Moondancer‘s bridge — that’s remarkably impressive by any standards. And, of course, there’s simply no way you can’t respect any of the sodality of folks willing to strap their asses to a cannoboom and ride it into glory.

(On the other hand, the way the program was abruptly terminated after having served its political purpose of being a stick to beat the Soviets with pretty much confirms all of the negative stereotypes in the book, or at least the ones indexed under short-sightedness, Obstructive Naysaying, democracy, cratic government in general, and so forth.

Never mind all the people saying “What’s the point in going to space?”, then and now. I mean, it’s not like the Empire has never had any mental cripples, but by and large, they don’t give them column-inches or seats in the Senate.)


On another note, I am contemplating adding a FAQ page for the benefit of new visitors to the site. As such, I welcome nominations for Qs that are FA – which doesn’t mean a free for all in re new questions, I stipulate; nominate from questions already answered or posts which answer unspoken questions, please!