Transfragging

Transfragging is the use of a weaponized translocation device to destroy a target, most commonly by interpenetration (i.e., translocating an object to within another, preexisting, object), but the term is also used to refer to simply using the translocator to transmit bombs or other weapons to within a given target.

Since all known or even theoretically possible translocation devices either make use of wormholes or similar metric warps, or alternatively obey the principle of equivalent spatial exchange, and in both cases require a cooperative receiver, transfragging is for all intents and purposes not possible.

Don’t spread it about, though. Belief in the possibility keeps lots of weapons designers in unhealthy places from working on anything that might actually be dangerous.

– Once Again I Have Been Thwarted: Hopeless Ambitions for Budding Evil Geniuses, Bad Stuff Press (8135)

Not-Earth

(Note: this is not canon. But every time someone wants to know when the humans are going to turn up and acquire some suitably starring role in the narrative, it gets a little closer to being canon, y’know?

…assuming I do not just go ahead and canonize the notion that in this universe, Pseudoeldrae archaea was literally the only member of The Genus Otherwise Known As Homo and all greenlife originates from the homeworld of Equus amica. I am, after all, one of those temperamental artistes.)

ORIGIN ASTROCOORD // FARHORIZ // CSS BEYOND THE PALE
CONTACT MORBID CONTACT MORBID

This is a KALPA NIGHTFALL ALERT, profiled as POSSIBLE LOW ENERGY (GWYATH 7-) SOFT CIV-KILL EVENT. Patterned electromagnetic emissions placing system on evaluation schedule ceased at ~-140 years mission inbound time.

Event coordinates are approximately 230 light-orbits from proposed SPICE WAY site TRANSVEIL, star system designated IGS 170-4138294. System primary is G2V-class dwarf, sustaining a system of eight planets, the four outer being gas or ice giants. Of note, the sixth planet in the system maintains an unusually prominent ring system. Of the four lithic worlds in the system, the fourth is a eutalentic-class with potential and the second and third both sialhain-type glass-garden worlds, dry and wet respectively.

Third planet is classified as ANOMALOUS due to rare double-planet formation; unusually high level of hydrocarbons and C/HC/HCO-breakdown products in atmosphere (determined by remote spectrographic analysis); unusually high level of residual radioactivity; ring of metallic debris in planetary orbit; detection of metallic debris/potential structures on airless secondary body. This planet is designated as most probable source of prior patterned electromagnetic emissions.

No attempts to contact the far horizon probe were made. Contact signals were transmitted on all designated frequences to no response. No biosignatures or technosignatures were detected by passive sensing or active scanning.

Recommendation: promote to EYEBALL and CORTÈGE PILLAGER for further study, routine priority. In absence of remnant biosignatures or technosignatures, no further action required. Mission continues.

ENDS.

High-Trust Society

CALMIRÍË, ELIÉRA – The cancellation of next year’s expected state visit of President Ostrid Nallen of the United Viridian States was announced today by Subrector Quíëlle Oliviscios of the Office of Foreign Wanderers, stating only that the cancellation had come at the request of the States after the Empire had regrettably been unable to fulfil all the necessary requests of the States regarding President Nallen’s visit.

The documentation provided to the OFW by the States, however, included a lengthy list of security requirements, including but not limited to exclusive use of the Ilinth Altaport during his visit, along with closure of other starports, skyways, and highways near his entourage’s transit routes, similarly exclusive use or restrictions on simultaneous public use of visited facilities including restaurants, hotels, and even potentially-used hospitals, and, of course, special police powers to be provided to the providers this ostentatious security perimeter. Obviously, as ultra vires powers outwith the scope of the Charter, such requirements are impossible to fulfil.

Asked for comment, sources close to the rector of the OFW reminded this publication of the famous statement made by Alphas I Amanyr, “The gates of my House shall be open to all.”1, and of the long-standing custom of the Imperial family of not placing boundaries between themselves and their people, adding that inasmuch as Alphas and his successors deemed both it appropriate and themselves sufficiently secure in walking the streets of their capital accompanied only by a few discreet Imperial Guardsmen, it would do little for the repute of the Viridianite presidency in the eyes of the citizen-shareholders to refuse to appear without a small army insulating them from any contact with the world.


  1. The Imperial Palace has, in addition to the Supreme Portal, nine gates, all of which have only ever been closed – even in time of war – as part of a scheduled test by the Office of the Palace to make sure that they can close. (It means very little to leave open a gate which cannot close, after all.)

Purity Of Essence

Among the artifacts first discovered in the lower levels of the Iniscail excavation were the sophotechnological artifacts now known as purity-of-heart switches. These devices resemble the hexagonal touch-plate switch used by the Precursors in several of their sites, but are in actuality complex systems capable of remote neural scanning and analysis.

The term “purity-of-heart switch” was derived from a translation of Precursor glyphs accompanying descriptions of the item found in the area of the Iniscail site identified as “the Instrumentery”. However, as with all translations from the Precursor, this is at best an combination of these linguistic best-fits in uncertain relation.

After a degree of spiritual experimentation, it was determined that a more accurate translation would be “purity of intent” or perhaps “singularity of will”. The purity-of-heart switch is a quantifier of qalasír; a device that detects one’s mental focus upon a single task or topic. Installed in control mirrors and security gates in sensitive areas of Precursor facilities, the purity-of-heart switch served to deny access to these to individuals distracted, or otherwise not adequately focused upon the tasks they were to perform.

Moral perfection, sadly, neither required nor detected.

– Simples of Complexity: Precursor Commonplaces

Today’s Quotations

We are, undeniably, tool-using creatures. Eldrae sómintár. More, we are undeniably creative creatures, builders and makers – eldrae mahavár – who build in order to have tools, and have tools in order to build. An endless cycle of creation. Observe, too, the lesser Flames: the problem-solving ingenuity of the bandal, the hunting tools fashioned by the vorac, the multifold creations of the cúlno.

Creation, then, is the nature of the Flame.

Is it not then clear that both the tools of creation and the fruits of creation, to such poor extent as they may be distinguished, are necessary parts of the inviolable self? These are the means by which it acts upon the world. One who does not control these means is reduced to the level of the naked savage, less than the lowest of animals, denied the ability to express or to better their inner nature.

Beware, O students mine, of he would would take, control, or deny you means, for in this way he would make himself your master…

Nephrite, student of the philosopher Sardonyx

Governance is, fundamentally and always, a technocratic art. The questions of how to deal with a recession, or a pandemic, how to manage the infrastructure of a city, how to regulate the value of a currency, how to keep the peace – these are no more matters of choice than the structure of an aqueduct, the foundations of a highway, the cure for the bloody flux, or the value of pi. They are technical problems with technical solutions, even when the solutions are known poorly, or not known at all. Even ethics – for those who do not confuse it with morality, into which realm we may not trespass – is a scientific field whose implementation is a technocratic matter, not subject to popular preference.

The wise man does not seek the agreement of his neighbors before shuttering his house against the storm; the doctor does not consult onlookers before cleaning a wound; the good man does not ensure the victim was well-thought-of before saving a life; and nor then ought we to require such before executing the duties of our offices in accordance with our merits.

This is the fundamental flaw of democracy: it trades away competence – and, indeed, reality – for a fool’s pleasant illusion of control. And, of course, for someone to blame when it turns out that you needed competence after all.

Sardal Amanyr-ith-Amaranyr, Minister President of the Council of Ministers, 1651-1739

The Spice Way

In the year 8054, a forward-thinking Initiative of Ring Dynamics, ICC, evaluating the expansion program for the stargate plexus based on the recent advent of the frameslip drive, a free-flight capable FTL technology which would allow the positioning of stargates with speeds and at distances previously unattainable, made a proposal to the Directorate named after the historic trade route.

That proposal was for a new backbone for the stargate plexus which would cover the entire galaxy, if thinly – rather than expanding by constellations, using the new frameslip drive to build braided “thread” routes out along each galactic arm, connected by initially single – but ultimately multiple – crossing spines. In this way, distant civilizations would be placed a position in which contact could be made relatively simply – each could join the transportation and communications network simply by reaching the local “thread”, and become part of the larger galactic community. New local networks of constellations and cross-links would spin out from such contacts, which would serve as seed crystals for further development.

This was that proposal:

[a map of the routes involved in the Spice Way Program]

Notes:

  1. The Imperial Way and Lethíäza Trade Spine are, of course, expansions of the existing named routes you will see on previous maps of the Worlds.
  2. The “stations” to be seen on this map, with the notable exception of “Imperial Center”, marking the current center of the Worlds, were to be large regional hub space stations on a similar pattern to the Conclave Drift – providing seeds for local development, and somewhere for the network to broadcast its existence to anyone who happened to be in the vicinity.
  3. All those station names starting with “Cal”? Well, apart from that particle (meaning, approximately, “center”), they’re all named after large, bright stars in that region of space – those being obvious local landmarks around which to place your localized nexus.
  4. As may have been mentioned before, the Greater and Lesser Ancíël Whirls are the Magellanic Clouds (to which the Elsewhere Society has long since dispatched stargates). The Metan Ring is the Andromeda Galaxy, in our Earthling parlance, and the Milky Pool, of course, is Triangulum.

Recommendation: Starmoth

In this episode of “the author recommends other less known universes”, I’d like to point up CMDR Isilanka’s Starmoth setting as worthy of the attention and interest of Eldraeverse readers. From its own introduction page, it is described as:

Once upon a time, humankind thought it was on the doorstep of the stars. Then, the thermo-industrial age came to a brutal collapse as the ravages of the anthropocene took old. For five hundred years the world ignored what lay beyond the atmosphere. For three hundred years reigned the Low Age. And then we turned to the stars again.

Starmoth is a post-apocalyptic, post-capitalistic, interstellar setting where semi-realistic spacecraft coexist with unknowable alien ruins, open-source FTL devices and colourful, vibrant societies. It is meant to be a tribute to science fiction focusing on a sense of wonder, as well as evoking nostalgia for a time that could have been.

For myself, I should like to point up some fascinating worldbuilding in social and exosocial areas in particular, which will definitely repay the attentive reader. I look forward with great interest to seeing how it continues to develop.

A book of short stories from this universe is available (name your own price) here; and the main website for the Starmoth universe is here.

Friendly Stab

“I noticed the knife the first day we were assigned to work with the Spireguard. It was easy to notice: everyone knows what a hanrian looks like, and there aren’t many who carry around multiple fighting knives. But even among those who did, this one was always set off to the side, away from the others. It’s a very distinctive knife; two opposed blades on the same hilt. One’s got a deep hooked notch near the tip, and serrations along the back of the blade. The other’s a fat spike with a triangular cross-section, and grooves wrapped around it; not along the length of the blade, as fullers would be, but circles wrapping around it.

“But not one ever used in the fight, that I could see, and when we were figuring each other out, asking questions about each others’ kit, and sharing war stories, that one knife never came up.

“So a couple of weeks into the fighting, I asked the question. And that night, I learned that it was called a ‘dignity knife’, and not something considered a matter for polite conversation.

“Eventually, I learned what requisition forms called it, which was ‘BS-11 Biological Security Knife, Block II’. One end is a pithing knife, which – while familiar to us now – was quite the shock to learn about in those days; the other, though? The fat blade was stuffed with incendiary explosive and lenses, those grooves, to focus the force of the blast. Per the manufacturer, that was ‘biotech security’, making sure no corpses were left behind for enemy intelligence to plunder for biotechnological secrets.

“Unofficially? The Legions had a unique interpretation of “no-one gets left behind”. For me, unnerving will always be defined by fighting alongside allies who carried special knives to kill their own wounded, then incinerate the bodies wherever they fell.”

– MSgt. Anvis Ankarian, 14th Drop Shock Echelon,
Memories of the Mnekkej Campaign

Beneath Their Wings

the Empire’s Shadow: the common and collective name for a group of organizations on the interstellar scene in the Associated Worlds, loosely defined as those organizations which are not in and of themselves arms of Imperial policy, but which take immoderate advantage of their chosen work not being illegal by Imperial standards, and the general reluctance of most polities to provoke the friendly neighborhood dragon. (Also known as “the Empress’s skirts”, presumably a metonym for what they are hiding behind.)

Among the most well-known of these are the Agalmic Information Foundation (freedom of information), the Astrapostale (mail delivery… everywhere), Celeritous Exit (snakeheading), the Council for the Promotion of Scientific Irresponsibility (freedom of research), the Eldinimieuthunumis (that fun which is oft called vice), the Freedom’s Seed COG (exporting revolution), the Holy Order of Deoclasts (antimissionaries), the Inevitable Justice Foundation (prosecuting crimes against sophoncy), the Last Gleam Preservers (saving souls), the Means of Defense COG (the right and means to bear arms), Miscegenation Nation (supporting interspecies and other unconventional relationships), the Secret-Keepers (cryptography, cryp, and data havens), the Technic Imperative (access to tools and concepts), the rare filibustering TTGs, and some indeed would argue much of the Starfall Arc Free Merchant Confraternity (smuggling).

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Force Not Required

“Always remember: memetics is no more and no less than the science of ideas. Applied memetics, therefore, is no more and no less than advanced persuasion. Memetics cannot impose ways of thought. Memetics alone cannot correct biases, or determine truth, or override the will. And no memetic technology can force someone to believe anything.”

– The Iron Rule of Memetics, Acad. Lí Amarens

“Holy fire-spitting crapsticks, is there anything these morons won’t believe?”

– Alseyn’s Corollary

Time Travelers Strictly Crypto

PROTOCOL OROELLE BLUESHIFT FRATERNAL

UNCLASSIFIED (INFRARED)

FOR PUBLIC RELEASE

SUMMARY:

A protocol to verify the identify and whenwhere of purported time-travelers from future dates, claiming to be about Imperial business.

PROCEDURE:

  1. Secure from the purported time-traveler his Oroelle-block verification code and its random reference number, along with the precise time and date at which they retrieved their verification code from the Temporal Routing Vault. If the time-traveler cannot provide these, it is to be assumed that the time-traveler’s identity is false.
  2. Ensure that no verification code presently exists in the Temporal Routing Vault matching the random reference number provided.
  3. Within the quantum security mesh-encapsulated cryptoblock provided by the Temporal Routing Vault, generate a new Oroelle-block continuously mutating code-engine using any ISE-P93 compliant source of genuine noise available to you, attach the random reference number to it, and escrow it therein, coded appropriately for release to the time-traveler’s purported identity and affiliation.
  4. Using the resulting cryptoblock, execute the code-engine’s inverse trapdoor function on the Oroelle-block verification code. If the code was indeed read from the code-engine at the specified time and date, this procedure should recreate the initial seed information provided by the generator and the cryptoblock will indicate its validity. Having done so, the cryptoblock will decline to match any further verification codes. Should validation fail, the cryptoblock will continue to test matches.
  5. If the code seed properly validates, the time traveler is to be considered legitimate. Report their presence to the Slipshank PWG and extend appropriate cooperation at your discretion.

Since the information needed to generate and/or validate the Oroelle-block verification code does not exist until after the code has been presented and is retained in non-observable storage (i.e., storage which self-destructs upon observation without revealing its contents) until the time for its release, assuming indicated security procedures are followed, the OROELLE BLUESHIFT FRATERNAL procedure is considered to offer limited causal proof of a time traveler’s bona fides, with regard to identity and whenwhere of origin.

OROELLE BLUESHIFT FRATERNAL should not be considered proof against Transcendent-equivalent attack.

Squishy

COLLAPSITER (THRESHER MAELSTROM)

Special weapons package THRESHER MAELSTROM, or the collapsiter warhead, is a kugelblitz-based delivery system suitable for deployment from a large-bore heavy mass driver. Put simply, the principle of the collapsiter is the activation upon detonation of a spherical array of annihilation-pumped lasers focused on a single point, raising the mass-energy density of that point to such a degree that a black hole is formed, one which rapidly adds the remaining mass of the warhead to itself. The layout and activation of the array is computed to impart considerable angular momentum to the resulting hole.

The destructive effect of the collapsiter warhead comes primarily not from direct interaction, but rather from the shredding effect of the intense tidal forces exerted by the nascent hole upon objects in its vicinity. Conveniently, these are aligned perpendicular to the controllable rotation axis of the hole, making the collapsiter one of the few coplanar weapons systems in the armamentarium, if one discounts the secondary destructive effect of the eventual quantum evaporation of the kugelblitz and the return of the invested energy in the form of an intense particle radiation burst.

Collapsiter warheads, as relatively contained gravitic weapons capable of remote deployment, are also of particular note for their ability to disrupt and destroy via sharp inflection the controlled space-time distortions used in wormhole-based systems and other metric engineering technologies.

High-yield collapsiter warheads are considered Tier II prohibited weapons under the Ley Accords. However, in practice, the largest barrier to wider collapsiter deployment – bearing in mind the Ley Accords prohibition is on use rather than manufacture or deployment – is the outrageously high insurance rate charged by tort carriers for guaranteeing stargate leases for or in any polity known to deploy collapsiter-based weapons systems. As a corporation dependent upon metric engineering technologies and inasmuch as collapsiter warheads are one of the few weapons systems considered good candidates to overcome the vector-lock armoring of the stargates themselves, Ring Dynamics considers collapsiter deployment in or near systems they serve to warrant a highest-risk assessment.

– A Brief Guide to Special Weapons Packages, IN Press

Author on Authority

This is a little meta to begin with, but please do indulge me, for we will get there. It all started this morning when I happened to read this little piece of not-even-wrongitude:

Authority by consent is no authority at all, like I say. Unless you can force people to listen to you, they won’t obey commands unless they agree with them. And if they won’t obey commands unless they agree with them, you’re ultimately not leading anything, you’re a mouthpiece spouting what they want to hear.

Hold onto your togas, kids, we’re off to Rome, and we’re going to learn exactly what authority is by examining auctoritas. Your free clue is that it is precisely not what the above quotation claims it to be.

(Obviously, the Romans did have the concept of forcing people to listen to you and do what they’re told. That one wasn’t auctoritas, though. That was imperium, which is where the strapping lads [the lictors] with the bundle of sticks and an axe – yes, that one – would proceed to do the needful unto anyone who didn’t get with your program. This equipment and the chaps carrying it were a warning – who you were not, for the most part, allowed to go without – to everyone that you were allowed to deal out corporal and capital punishment.)

Auctoritas, from whence our authority (and also, point of curiosity, “author”) had approximately buggerall to do with the ability to force people to listen and obey, because the whole point of having auctoritas is that you don’t need to.

Let me quote Bret Devereaux’s excellent blog here:

Roman political speech, meanwhile, is full of words to express authority without violence. Most obviously is the word auctoritas, from which we get authority. J.E. Lendon (in Empire of Honor: The Art of Government in the Roman World (1997)), expresses the complex interaction whereby the past performance of virtus (‘strength, worth, bravery, excellence, skill, capacity,’ which might be military, but it might also by virtus demonstrated in civilian fields like speaking, writing, court-room excellence, etc) produced honor which in turn invested an individual with dignitas (‘worth, merit’), a legitimate claim to certain forms of deferential behavior from others (including peers; two individuals both with dignitas might owe mutual deference to each other). Such an individual, when acting or especially speaking was said to have gravitas (‘weight’), an effort by the Romans to describe the feeling of emotional pressure that the dignitas of such a person demanded; a person speaking who had dignitas must be listened to seriously and respected, even if disagreed with in the end. An individual with tremendous honor might be described as having a super-charged dignitas such that not merely was some polite but serious deference, but active compliance, such was the force of their considerable honor; this was called auctoritas. As documented by Carlin Barton (in Roman Honor: Fire in the Bones (2001)), the Romans felt these weights keenly and have a robust language describing the emotional impact such feelings had.

Note that there is no necessary violence here. These things cannot be enforced through violence, they are emotional responses that the Romans report having (because their culture has conditioned them to have them) in the presence of individuals with dignitas. And such dignitas might also not be connected to violence. Cicero clearly at points in his career commanded such deference and he was at best an indifferent soldier. Instead, it was his excellence in speaking and his clear service to the Republic that commanded such respect. Other individuals might command particular auctoritas because of their role as priests, their reputation for piety or wisdom, or their history of service to the community. And of course beyond that were bonds of family, religion, social group, and so on.

In ‘verse terms, now, while the correspondences aren’t absolutely perfect, what we are talking about is korás (“coercion”), the power to make people do what you want by threatening them (or more directly), versus argyr (“worth, merit”), and in the specific case of governance coronargyr (“sovereign’s merit”), that authority sufficient to lead the people to confer upon one the Imperial Mandate, that contract which gives one the power to rule.

(Most governances do try to make use of the latter as well as the former, even though/when the latter is the ultimate basis of their power, inasmuch as it’s very hard to have enough jackboots to keep everyone’s face stomped forever, and so not having to trot them out all the time is most convenient.)

The Empire, of course, is an extreme case of ruling, insofar as it is possible, only by coronargyr and banishing korás to solely those few responsive purposes laid out in the Fundamental Contract, on which it has no monopoly. This is something of a necessity when your citizens are (a) functionally unintimidatable, and (b) respect little except competence/virtue/excellence/awesomeness, which they respect greatly. You can’t drive people (i.e., what that initial quote thinks “leading” is) like that with any hope of long-term success; only lead them, and that by being so bloody good at it that people want to follow you.

Start thinking that they should follow you because of who you are, not what you can do, and you’ll swiftly find yourself here.

So, to sum up the thesis of this post:

  • A Society of Consent, like the Empire but also like any other number of actual-anarchist societies, does not have korás / coercion.
  • What it does have is argyr, or auctoritas. In fact, it has a lot of it, probably more than societies that are able to take the quick shortcut of substituting the former for the latter when it gets difficult.
  • Many of the most terribad arguments against consensual societies are assuming that opposing/eliminating the former necessarily means opposing/eliminating the latter, which it doesn’t. A gun is not an argument, but an argument isn’t a gun, either.

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

PREVIOUSLY

Ledger Embiggening, this is the captain of the armed vessel currently on intercept with you. As you have noticed, we have our weapons locked on you. Your options are these: cut your engines immediately, heave to, and permit us to board and claim whatever passengers and items of cargo we wish… or don’t, and we’ll slag your drive, then take your ship by force and have them anyway. You have until I get tired of waiting to decide. Over.”

“Unknown armed vessel, this is Ledger Embiggening. All our off-site backups are up-to-date and we have enabled our proximity-triggered spite charge, as required by the terms of our charter insurance carrier. I am legally required to advise you not to approach within 10,000 miles of this vessel under any circumstances. Your move. Ledger Embiggening, clear.”

PRESENT DAY

“And that’s how I lost this leg,” the former pirate slurred. “Also one kidney, three-quarters of my liver, both spleens, fifteen feet of assorted intestine, and a not inconsiderable portion of brain tissue.”

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

And next in our review of less conventional starship types, we come to that odd duck, the aerospace cruiser. (And many of these remarks, naturally, also apply to its larger cousin, the aerospace carrier.)

Ever since the early Imperial Navy absorbed the old air forces into its Close Orbit and Atmospheric Command (CLATMOCOM, under the Second Space Lord), these specialized classes and their equally specialist crewers have existed in something of a limbo, engaging in practices often deemed unnatural among decent, right-thinking spacers. Such as, if I may write in hushed tones for a moment, streamlining.

In short, while normally one can rely on a comfortable dichotomy between airships – which stay down in the nice, warm, notably present air – and starships – which avoid atmosphere in the much the same way that a thirsty Leirite avoids water – the aerospace cruiser defies this. While even the interface vehicles that bridge these two realms tend to minimize their time spent in the inconvenient middle, it spends all its operational time in a realm too low for low orbit and too high for upper atmosphere, being beholden to neither.

This requires a large number of rather unsettling compromises. Let’s begin our examination with the fundamental reason why: the entire purpose of an aerospace cruiser is to provide a secure base from which atmospheric combat vehicles can sortie, and in order to let them be competitive ACVs, it is necessary not to weigh them down with large extra drive mechanisms just to enable them to get to and from the mama bird. Thus, said mothership must not operate merely in low orbit, but dipping well into the atmosphere – into the lower mesophere – at typical altitudes for lithic worlds no more than 65 to 80 km (211,000 – 264,000′) above the surface. Such altitudes are already painfully difficult to reach for dedicated air vehicles, but manageable with relatively small auxiliary aerospikes.

And yet, the implications! A non-interface starship at this altitude suffers from high levels of atmospheric drag, enough to rip any normal starship’s – one not designed for atmospheric entry – structure apart, and thus, aerospace cruisers must share the great attention to streamlining and the heavier structure required by interface vehicles, but to an even greater extent, since the aerospace cruiser must not only penetrate the entry interface, but hang in it while launching and receiving aircraft from its vomitories.

(This in turn involves various trade-offs in other starship systems, like radiators, which must be accommodated behind streamlined panels while still functioning effectively; the point-defense laser grid must be tuned to atmospheric frequencies despite the effects on performance – and aerospace cruisers are well within the practical offensive range of ground-based aircraft and anti-aircraft systems; the engines must not choke when run in atmosphere; and so forth.)

The next issue, fortunately, partly cancels out this one. While an aerospace cruiser sustaining (via continuous burn; copious fuel supplies and an oiler or two to restock them are also essentials for space-to-atmo operations) orbit at 72 km would have to deal with an arbitrarily long period of fending off the atmosphere at 8 km/sec, consider that the period of such an orbit is a little under 1.5 hours, meaning that an aerospace cruiser maintaining its “natural” orbital velocity will pass very rapidly over the battlespace and out of air range; and pilots in general, it should be said, are notably unappreciative when their mothership leaves them behind.

To avoid this, aerospace cruisers are required to operate in forced orbits, maintaining station above a particular location. This requires, of course, even more copious supplies of fuel and multiplies the required continuous – and for those not familiar with the concept, continuous here means if the drive ever stops, you fall right out of the sky and die – station-keeping burn considerably, but at least it spares you quite so much brutalization by the atmosphere and makes launching and receiving aircraft practical, not just theoretically possible.

So before we continue and look at specific types, let’s raise a glass to these low-flying, fuel-gulping, plasma-shocking, sky-hanging abominations of nature, and all that sail in them! We don’t look down on you – except literally – but we wouldn’t have your jobs for a Service pension and a nice retirement moon.

– the Big Boys’ Book of Boom

Bottled Sunlight

Announcing

from Extropa Energy, ICC

Stars as a Service™

Available now throughout the Imperial Core and Fringe, with planned expansions into selected areas of the Worlds, Extropa Energy wishes to announce the availability of its Stars as a Service™ range of remote energy supply options. Using Extropa’s newly established fleet of mobile energy generation stations, each equipped with more than dodecen industrial-grade fusion reactors, Stars as a Service™ is able to deliver a reliable, continuous microwave or laser power beam into a compatible receiver anywhere in the system, both to stations and to beam-operated vehicles. Beamed power can even be transferred to planetside facilities with the lease or purchase of suitable relay satellites.

Power beams can be delivered in capacities ranging from megawatt through gigawatt, terawatt, and exawatt, according to your local requirements. While standard beams are delivered from shared reactor facilities according to a fixed schedule (due to the exigencies of light-lag) and with necessary occlusion windows dictated by the movement of celestial bodies, special extra-cost arrangements can be made, including reserved reactor instances, dynamic control of power delivery via tangle channel, and the lease of relay satellites to eliminate or minimize occlusion blackouts.

Need more energy?

Contact your Extropa Energy Stars as a Service™ representative today!

Wibbly-Wobbly

gravity tremble: The variations in experienced gravity found aboard starships making use of the thrust gravity provided by nuclear pulse drives, or other discontinuous-thrust drives. Essentially, the gravity tremble refers to that portion of the thrust variation not damped out by the thrust transfer framework, leading to a predictable variation in experienced gravity around its nominal value, from the jarring on-off transitions of the earliest undamped concussion drives to the smooth and gentle oscillation (resembling a phugoid cycle) of modern fusion-pulse sail drives.

The term is also used to refer to the distinctive gait seen in long-term pulse-drive starship crewers (or, more accurately, crewers of those starships in which the pulse rate is relatively fast). With experience in maneuvering under trembling gravity, such crewers develop the habit of attuning their stride interval to the tremble frequency, pushing off and up with the drop and descending with the rise, thus gaining the most advantage from the momentarily lighter gravity.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary