Naming Convention

BEING A SUMMARY OF PRODUCTION
AT STARFLIGHT SHIPYARDS, SELÉNE, CAGEWORKS TWO
FOR FIRST QUARTER, 7399

IS Lunar Loom
Custom design (orbital elevator constructor).
Worlds’ Rim Development, ICC; paid in full.

IS Alkahest of Conflict
Harbinger-class diplomatic cruiser
Galactic Arbitrations, ICC; paid in full.

IS The Sun’s Brilliance Scatters All Shadows
False Dawn-class orbital mirror tender
Sahal & Moons Orbital Light and Power, ICC; 12% advanced, mortgage on delivery.

CMS Rosy Conodont
Erlenmyer-class chemical tanker
Biolith Chemical Products, ICC; paid in full.

IS Authentic Communicative Ecstasy
Starwing-class courier, with aftermarket high-intensity communications laser (customer provision)
Private sale; paid in full.

CS Sufficiency
Apocalypse-class battleship
Imperial Navy, per construction contract 7930-02.

IS Only Hard On The Outside
Adze-class orbital construction platform
Homesteads, ICC; six-year payment plan, first due on delivery.

CMS Content Available In Your Area
Shadowcat-class blockade runner
Private sale, paid in full.

CS State Sensor-Ship
Brazen-class recon destroyer
Imperial Navy, per construction contract 7930-02.

CSS Neutrino Simulator
Peregrine-class scout
Imperial Exploratory Service, per construction contract 7930-01.

CMS Performative Optimism
Profit-class free trader
Private sale; 12% advanced, mortgage on delivery.

CSS Celeritous Sciencier
Breadboard-class space research platform, no outfitting.
Starleaper Initiative; payment on delivery.

CMS Perambulatory Debauch
Pleasurable Company-class liner
Centralia Line, ICC; 12% advanced; mortgage on delivery.

IS Seismic Dissection
Skoufer-class smeltership
Celestial Mining, ICC; paid in full.

IS Premonitions of Debris
Brutal-class cruiser
By commission for Galek’s Gutrippers; 12% advanced, mortgage on delivery.

CMS Insufficiently Hyped
Kalantha-class frontier trader
Private sale, payment on delivery.

CSS Algorithmic Beatitude
Merí-class executive yacht, without life support or internal fixtures
Transcendent commission; deliver to Qerach for final fitting-out.

CMS Peripatetic Pilgrim
Flatfoot-class short-range passenger transport
Cilmínar Orbital Charterships; 12% advanced, mortgage on delivery.

IS Bright Aphelion
Icebox-class shardcruiser
Anniax Deep Black Development, ICC; 12% advanced, mortgage on delivery.

CMS Generous Selfishness
Boxcar-class modular trader
Deliver to market.

CMS Truth and Value
Procurer-class freighter,
Deliver to market.

IS Chariot of a Lesser Sun
Sparklebug-class power freighter
Homesteads, ICC; six-year payment plan, first due on delivery.

CMS Bandwidth Advantage
Wain-class megafreighter
Unnecessaries, ICC, under standing construction contract.

All The Best Wenches Have One

Inspiration obvious.
If you haven’t already, go read
Girl Genius.

wrenchhammer: the largest size of wrench, suitable for leaning on, requiring a backsling to carry, and used for such tasks as unbolting the lids of reactor cores, dogging down the doors of pressure chambers, or tightening the bolts securing the drive chain of an elevator that runs all the way through the planet.

Its soubriquet comes from the blunt and spiked faces added on either side of the wrench socket, suiting it admirably to belaboring particularly heavy machinery or doing the needful should one encounter any of the various beasties lurking in the deep tunnels of the Eliéran crust.

Rumors of a militarized version of the wrenchhammer (the “warwrench”) designed for the Imperial Legions’ combat engineers are just that – rumors, based on rookie pranks and the occasional mock-up hanging on mess walls. Not that the standard model hasn’t cracked a few heads from time to time.

– engineering_jargon.text

Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (12)

Atrocity (Falish Traverse): A former garden world orbiting a yellow-orange sun, Atrocity – or as it was formerly known, Telchese (Falish Traverse) was a colony world of the link!n-Rechesh. It had the unfortunate distinction of being located along the primary route into the Gardens of Rechesh volume when the Theomachy of Galia declared its holy war of expansion.

When the Galian fleet arrived, conflict was immediate. After the destruction of the small guard fleet and making planetfall, disgusted by the alien nature (see the Abomination of Hexapodia) and matriarchal customs of the link!n-Rechesh, the gall!r immediately turned their weapons on the populace, committing a brutal massacre near the occupation landing zone, and rapidly expanding this violence across all settled areas, with the Galian forces driving the natives into the wilds. Driven by insane religious zeal, the Galian commander embarked upon a campaign of genocide; when his ground forces proved insufficient to achieve this, he withdrew to orbit and performed a saturation bombardment of the surface with crude, dirty nucleonic weapons, sterilizing the majority of the planet and killing nearly 900 million link!n-Rechesh, along with many of his own ground forces. The planet remains uninhabitable to this day.

As news of the slaughter spread through the recently-opened Falish Traverse, the Galian fleet responsible was destroyed by an ad-hoc alliance of nearby polities and an Imperial Navy task force, which went on to establish the ongoing policy of containment and military limitation regarding the Theomachy, and to compel the Galians to cede the Gal-nachra (Falish Traverse) system in its entirety to the link!n-Rechesh; it was renamed in the local language as the Reparation (Falish Traverse) system.

Worthiness

Credit ratings are best thought of as a measure of risk: if I lend money to, or invest money in, this person, or this corporation, or this security, how likely am I to get my money back? This is essentially the same as the trivial assessments we make every day: the staid, millennium-old commercial bank in the center of town inspires no concerns in anyone, whereas the scruffy floater hanging out in startown might as well be a walking junk bond. Credit ratings merely formalize this.

Most relevant to Imperial investors, credit ratings are assigned to any entity of market relevance and any security listed on an Imperial exchange by one of a number of market rating agencies, such as Cheraelar & Orthodox (a joint venture between Gilea & Company and the Calmiríë Securities Exchange), Adichi Reliability, or Rational Risk Ratings. Such ratings are typically published covering short-term (12 year), medium-term (144 year) and long-term (576 year) periods.

The basic categories used for these ratings were set by Cheraelar & Orthodox, as one of the earliest rating agencies, and others have stuck to their format, although providing their own detailed write-ups and occasionally extending the format into other areas.

Super-Prime (AAA)

The six grades of super-prime are assigned to those entities or securities in which the ratings agency has confidence that there is no probability of obligor default whatsoever. Such a rating is extremely rare, requiring starcorporate status and/or a personal guarantee1 from Gilea & Company or another bank of equivalent stature2, along with domicile in a legal regime which permits appropriate guarantees to be made.

In the corporate realm, the Big 26 and five other Imperial corporations hold a AAA rating, along with fourteen foreign-domiciled corporations. Imperial gilts are the only sovereign security to be thus rated.

Prime (AA)

The twelve grades of prime are assigned to those entities or securities in which the ratings agency estimates the probability of obligor default as less than 0.083% during the rating period at the high end, and 0.166% at the low end. These are considered high-grade investments, suitable for long-term holds.

Sub-Prime / Sovereign-Impaired (A)

The twelve grades of sub-prime are assigned to those entities or securities in which the ratings agency estimates the probability of obligor default as greater than the 0.166% required to qualify as prime, but less than the 1% which would relegate them to the speculative class.

So-called “sovereign-impaired” entities or securities are those whose governing legal regime does not meet Alpha Concord Free Economic Zone Standard 23.1 where foreclosure is concerned, impairing legal recovery in the event of default. Such entities or securities cannot be classified higher than sub-prime, even if in other ways they would meet the standards for prime or even super-prime rating; naturally, the majority of sovereign debt and other sovereign-issued securities are considered sovereign-impaired.

Speculative (S)

The twelve grades of speculative are assigned to those entities or securities in which the ratings agency estimates the probability of obligor default as no more than 1% during the rating period at the high end, and less than 12% at the low end. While not a high rating in terms of risk, the majority of entities or securities rated S are new business startups, engaged in inherently risky ventures, or simply lack the financial history upon which a more favorable rating could be based; as such, they also tend to offer substantially higher returns than less risky investments.

S-rated entities and securities offer a great many opportunities to the attentive investor who can safely bear the risk of such investments, and to whom they are typically directed.

Junk (no letter code)

The twelve grades of junk are assigned to those entities or securities to which the ratings agency estimates a probability of obligor default exceeding 12% during the rating period. While not in default, and potentially on the road to recovery, the risk is significant and only experienced investors should consider them. In the bottom half of the category, sometimes referred to as “sub-junk”, such entities or securities are considered in collapse, “on the road to default”, and are best left to the vultures.

Defaulter (D)

The rated entity or security is in default, and no longer eligible for exchange trading. At this level, acquiring such securities is only useful as a basis for legal foreclosure, as a basis for hostile foreclosure, or as toilet paper.

– excerpted from “So, You Have Lazy Money?”,
Auric Productions Press


1. And at this level, that means the Old Lady personally signed off on it.

2. There are no recognized banks of equivalent stature, but it could happen.

Writer Crisis

Well, our server just died today. This is a mite awkward for us here, gentle readers, since if it doesn’t work, our network doesn’t work, and if our network doesn’t work, neither of us – writing, software developing, any kind of freelancing – can do any of our work work that pays the bills.

One hates to bleg, even if it is ethical, but needs must when the power company breaks your stuff, and so:

Please help, and if you can’t donate, please reshare. We don’t need very much to get back up and running, so even the tiniest bit helps.

Heavy Cavalry Redux

“Drive me closer! I want to hit them with my sword!”

no-one with a tank, ever

This is a recreation/reformulation/retcon of the original description of the Empire’s heavy cavalry legions, in light of both criticism received – and assistance to resolve it – and rethinking of my own. It should be considered as a replacement for the original post here, et. seq.

Let us proceed.


Making up the remaining one of every sixteen legions (i.e., one per three light cavalry or heavy infantry, and one per nine light infantry), we have the heavy cavalry. Direct-fire death on very large treads, which is to say, main battle tanks. The biggest of all the big sticks. Putting the “brute” into “brute force”.

For additional flexibility, the majority of Imperial MBTs are built off a common base platform, with a selection of swappable modules to provide specific functionality for specific cases. (Unlike many modular vehicle systems in this ‘verse, however, these aren’t hot-swappable; the need to remove and replace and integrate large and complex chunks of armor plate, etc., when doing it means that this requires some pretty major machine-shop type facilities. It’s not something you can do in the field, and indeed something only seen at the most well-developed remote operating bases.) Due to these functionality differences, MBTs are usually classified by the module.

So first we’ll talk about the capabilities of the base platform, and then we’ll talk about some of the more commonly seen modules:


Base Platform

The base platform of the Imperial MBT is a low-slung vehicle with all-around glacis design, designed to minimize its target profile and give it a low center of gravity. In dimensions, it is approximately 12 m (39 ft) long, 4 m (13 ft) wide, and 3 m (10 ft) high; its total mass (varying, of course, by module), however, is of the order of 60 short tons, due to the extensive use of lightweight composites.

8 m of the length and 3.5 m of the width at the front is the module socket; height of modules varies, but none take it much above the basic 3 m height. At the rear of the platform, an externally-opening compartment can be used to hold resupply, infantry needing transport, or a “hot soup” fuel pod to increase vehicle endurance.

Armament

The armament of the base platform (effectively the secondary weapons systems common to all tank classes) is fitted in four altazimuth ball mounts, located on either side of the vehicle, towards the front and rear.

These mounts’ field of fire extends 180 degrees vertically, and approximately 160 degrees horizontally at zero vertical, i.e., limited only by the occlusion of that side’s other mount. In effect, they maintain full coverage to the side, front, and rear of the tank, with only a small gap in coverage to the front for the rear mounts, and to the rear for the front mounts.

The front mounts include coaxial ortillery target designators and heavy (72 mm) mass drivers/micromissile launchers; the rear mounts only include medium (36 mm) mass drivers.

(While the latter do spend much of their time firing forward and to the flank, their special purpose in being mounted where they are is to give you something to pop the drone lining up to shoot you in the ass with so you don’t have to stop engaging your main target while you do it. In their battlefield environment, micro-AKVs are cheap and plentiful, so this happens a lot. If you had to slew the main gun around every time, you’d be taking your eye off the ball way too much – even if you could get it to reliably track something that small and fast-moving.)

See also Point Defense, below.

Armor

The armor of Imperial MBTs is relatively standard for Imperial armored units; there’s just a lot of it. The core structural frame is honeycomb-patterned diamondoid composite, covered with multiple slabs of interlinked refractory cerametal (i.e., a ceramic-metal composite formulated for both great physical strength and resistance to heat), electrical and thermal superconductor meshes, more cerametal, reactive-armor sections, and an outer anti-energetic ablative coating to sprayed on top of it all. Additional side plating shields the rollagons. A nanopaste-based self-healing system runs through channels in the armor, keeping damage patched up in the field.

The survivability specifications on all this armor is that the vehicle should be able to survive a near-miss with a tactical-range nuclear weapon or equivalent orbital kinetic strike.

Command and Control

An Imperial MBT nominally crews three: semi-specialized commander, driver, and gunner positions; in practice, this is rendered a mite fuzzy inasmuch as they’re both ably assisted by the vehicle’s internal synnoetic (i.e., designed to function integrated with another sophont mind) AI, and linked to each other by internal conflux hardware (i.e., functioning as a loose, mesh-topology temporary group mind for maximal efficiency, enabling coordination and multitasking by splitting off semi-autonomous agents).

Primary control is routed through the AI and direct neural links – the vehicle seats are virtuality chairs, connecting to the crew’s implanted laser-ports – but auxiliary/backup manual controls are also available.

Core sensors and communications include all the standard options: radio and whisker laser communications, access to the OTP-encrypted tactical mesh, threat identification systems, teamware and C3I systems integration, thermal imaging, remote sensor access, and all-around local sensors including pulsed-usage radar and lidar, T-ray high frequency snoopers, ground-penetrating radar, target-painter detection – and, of course, plain old electronic visual and sound transmission, since the interior of the MBT is fully sealed and includes no direct visual paths.

The MBT also includes a battle computer capable of functioning as a major node in the tactical mesh, and a full ECM suite.

Drones

As with all other units of the Imperial Legions, the heavy cavalry too has its drone accompaniments, with each MBT having a pair of WMH-12 Skyorca drones attached to it for close air support, along with a pair of heavy ground drones matching its own tactical function.

Internal Environment

To the delight of those legionaries who like a little comfort in their soldiering, the internal spaces of an Imperial MBT are a comfortable – albeit confined – shirt-sleeve environment. (Climate control, leather seats, the works…)

This is partially because given the expense of building one of these anyway, throwing in a few civilized comforts is barely a blip on the budget, and partially because – well, anything that successfully penetrates the armor tends to leave the crew as a hundred-yard-long red/blue/silver-white/etc. smear on the ground behind the exit hole anyway, so there’s no point in having them sit around in full combat armor. A padded jacket and helmet are sufficient to prevent accidents from concussion and rough terrain.

The interior is also a fully sealed and controlled life support environment for NBCN protection and exotic atmosphere/vacuum use. This also renders all tanks amphibious tanks by default: once you’ve covered all the various atmospheric compositions and pressures you might need to operate in and discarded thereby air-breathing engines and other systems, you’ve built a vehicle that can shrug off submergence, too.You could drive a modern Imperial MBT from continent to continent across the ocean floor, given a case of rat bars and a good reason to try it.

Point Defense

The MBT is equipped, as all else is, with a military-grade kinetic barrier system.

For active point defense, the base platform is equipped with a mix of mini-autocannons (in altazimuth ball mounts) and laser emitters, laid out to ensure all-around coverage, and capable of independently and automatically targeting all incoming fire and close-in soft units, subject to target identification and prioritization routines set by the crew.

Power

It seems a little inappropriate to say that the MBT is also powered by a micro-fission “hot soup” reactor, inasmuch as, well, it ain’t that micro. It is “mini”, perhaps, compared to standard-sized fission reactors, but it’s as large as the thorium molten-salt kind gets. The bigger ones all tend to be the safer “pebble-bed” design.

Naturally, this is buffered through a large set of superconducting-loop accumulators to handle immediate power draws and provide backup power in the event that you lose the power reactor – enough to make a fighting withdraw, anyway, although not enough to continue an engagement with.

Propulsion

The Imperial MBT moves on neither wheels nor treads; rather, it sits atop eight semi-squishy rollagons, near-spheres of a “smart fluid” rotated electromagnetically from within the sealed main hull, enabling it to move with equal facility in any direction, at speeds of up to 150 mph on a good, flat roadbed. Note that this is not a drivetrain developed specifically for military purposes: modern civilian ground-cars use similar technology.

The propulsion system also has considerable electromagnetic control over the shape of the rollagons; while they don’t have them normally, if you need spiked wheels or some other shape-variation to cross some tricky terrain, it can provide them on demand; if need be, they can even form “paddle-propellers” for amphibious operation.

A limited vector-control/impeller system permits the tank to apply vertical thrust to itself; this is used primarily downwards on light-gravity worlds to keep ground pressure high enough for the rollagons to be effective, occasionally upwards to reduce ground pressure where the ground is soft, and even more occasionally to lessen the severity of falls, ground collapses, or deliberate drops from low-flying transport aircraft.

(It would theoretically be possible, on light-gravity worlds, to use it to make “skips” over obstacles or other short vertical jumps, but this is generally considered an excellent way to become skeet.)

Stealth and Masquerade

The Imperial MBT, much like the heavy infantry, supports only the most basic chameleonic coating and signature reduction features; the nature of the battlefield environment of the time is such that any heavy unit has a signature (in terms of heat, reactor neutrinos, and the EM pulse accompanying weapons firing) that can’t be baffled worth a damn. As such, designers concentrated on designing a vehicle that could “tank” (sic) incoming fire in the process of executing shock and awesome.

It should however be noted that this does not preclude the use of external decoys, or the use of signature modification systems to confuse terminal guidance of incoming weapons, or indeed to masquerade as something else — but these systems have to work with the platform’s high signature, not try to conceal it.


Module: Tactical Assault Tank (HV-10 Basher-class)

As close as it comes to a “standard” MBT design, the HV-10 Basher-class module loadout is similar to the V40 Ralihú IFV, scaled up; the Basher-class comes with a turreted super-heavy (144 mm) mass driver, but substitutes a bilateral quadbarrels with limited independent training for the Ralihú’s single coaxial quadbarrel.

(The heavy mass driver is also designed to function as a heavy micromissile launcher, if required, and as such is entirely capable of delivering large-diameter canister shot for anti-infantry work.)


Module: Long-Range Assault Tank (HV-12 Stormfall-class; also HV-12i Longeye-class)

The HV-12 Stormfall-class LRAT module is equipped with a turreted super-heavy (144 mm) mass driver intended to be capable of long-range indirect as well as direct fire, but substitutes the quadbarrels for bilateral “pop-out” missile pods, each capable of doing a simultaneous launch of up to 16 minimissiles, reloadable with a short cycle time from internal magazines. Just perfect for those days when you want to fight in the shade.

By changing the minimissile loadout of the Stormfall, it can also serve as an active air-defense platform.

Rarely seen is the HV-12i Longeye variant, which trades in both super-heavy mass driver and missile pods for a graser installation, suitable for direct fire only but capable of punching out even more heavily protected targets. Also, notably, the Longeye graser is often capable of penetrating the atmosphere and reaching targets in low planetary orbit.


Module: Drone Tank (HVC-14h Thunderbolt-class; also HVC-14l Stinger-class)

A drone tank, in legionary parlance, is the land-based miniature equivalent of an aircraft carrier. The HVC-14h Thunderbolt module contains nanoslurry and miniature drone components, which it uses to construct and deploy ad-hoc micro-AKVs to suit the requirements of the current battlespace, launching them into action as a centrally coordinated wing, for defense, reconnaissance, attack, or other functions.

(Or, to put it another way, it’s a self-propelled field factory that spews out custom drones and minimissiles on demand, simplifying your logistics and multiplying your options.)

The HVC-14l Stinger functions similarly, but substitutes swarm hives for the micro-AKV factory, and is thus able to saturate the local battlespace with microbot/nanobot swarms, be they the standard eyeballs, shrikes, gremlins, or balefire, or more specialized models.


Module: Tactical Arsonier (HV-10a Flammifer-class)

Used for cleaning up or eliminating nanoswarms (highly vulnerable to thermal overloading), area denial, reducing bunkers and dug-outs, and spreading pure terror, the Flammifer-class replaces the heavy mass driver of the Basher-class with a scaled-up nuclear-thermal flamer, while retaining the quadbarrels as-is.


Module: Command Tank (HV-10c Strategos-class)

The Strategos-class is a specialized vehicle for coordinating tank-squadron activities and close air support. The Strategos module doesn’t add any weapons systems; rather, it adds two more crew positions for squadron command, a specialized tactical/logistics C3I AI, and a nodal communications suite and its antennae.

A pair or triplet of Strategoi are usually assigned to a tank squadron made up of other classes for command/control functions.


Module: Pummel (HV-11 Pugnacious-class)

The pummel tank is a highly specialized variant, designed to rip apart buildings and fortifications. It carries sappers in its rear compartment, and is equipped with specialized demolitions equipment up front.


Module: Wrecker (HV-10w Trison-class)

Another highly specialized variant, the HW-10W Trison and other wreckers are logistics units, used to recover wrecked tanks and other heavy equipment off the battlefield for repair or for scrap.


Transportation

The Flapjack-class cavalry dropship was made specifically for this; apart from that, they mostly drive to wherever they’re needed, because only the biggest transport aircraft can carry them in useful numbers.

Although Most Designs Are Poly

Ascíël coupler: the standard design, in modular habitat and starship architecture, for the coupler that binds adjacent modules into a single unit.

For such semi-permanent connections on a large scale, simple docking adapters are obviously unsuitable; tidal forces and other stresses common in large structures may cause a simple docking adapter to be stressed sufficiently to separate over time, and starship-level thrust applied to a modular design would cause near-immediate failure.

A variety of designs (often based on existing railroad couplers) were tried to prevent this while also avoiding the expense, wasted time, and potential damage involved in bolting or welding additional reinforcement onto the modules, with varying degrees of success, eventually converging on the modern Ascíël coupler.

The Ascíël coupler, as defined in IOSS 64212, makes use of the IUSI androgynous docking adapter (as defined in IOSS 52114) to achieve initial connection. (As such, it too comes in the three there-defined standard sizes.)

Once hard dock has been achieved, the surrounding coupler engages a nested pair of counterrotating helical screws, which intertwine from each side of the coupler to form a solid bond between the modules. Once the screws have advanced to the fully engaged position, twelve locking rods (six per screw, three being managed by each coupler) are electromagnetically released and are forced by springs into their extended position through holes in the screws, preventing them from rotating and thus from working loose over time.

When fully engaged, an Ascíël coupler has an effective strength equivalent to that of the surrounding module hull.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary