Trope-a-Day: Mecha Mooks

Mecha Mooks: Oh, indeed.  These are the actual AI fighting robots (“autonomous mechagrunts”) which occupy the spot in the military food chain between the Attack Drones and the actual people in the command chain.  They also do the majority of the fighting, the eldrae with their long lives and slow population growth having a very good idea as to the place of their precious, irreplaceable, valuable selves in mass warfare: namely at the back, cheating.

In their case, however, neither fragile nor graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.  They’ve learned how to cheat really well.

But How Many Divisions Has He Got?

“My dear ephemerals, in observing your broadcasts (while I appreciate your martial enthusiasm) I really must question some of your underlying assumptions, both practical and theological.  Over the course of my fifteen hundred years, I’ve killed more gods than you chaps claim to have.  If yours really is on your side, then tell Him to trot along out here and get on with it; it’s nearly ship’s lunchtime.”

“But if He doesn’t feel like fighting today, we’ll still accept your unconditional surrender.  Otherwise, my fleet attacks at planet dawn, capital time.”

– High Admiral Lucian Antarianus-ith-Avaranaith, public broadcast before the Bombardment of Firital

Steganography (1/2)

Mind-state transmission received; 3.263564 exp 16 octets validated.
Body reconstruction data [archive pointer].
Accoutrement construction data [catalog pointer], [catalog pointer], [archive pointer].
Augmented reality object code received; 2.465542 exp 10 octets validated.

Scan for hostile code complete; none found.
Identity confirmed: Acté Cyprium-ith-Réyne [UCID and mindprint match].


With a gurgle of suspension fluids and a blast of drying air, the body pod finished draining down, split, and opened.  The young woman stepped out of the pod, and stretched satisfyingly, curling long toes into the carpet.  A rainbow of color rippled under her skin, chromatophores rippling through their wake-up sequence.

Moving over to the shelf, her hair already whispering around her shoulders, coiling itself into complex curls, she unscrewed the leftmost container’s cap, poured the thick nanopaste within out onto the floor, and dipped a toe into the puddle.  She shivered slightly as the nanites made their ascent, the silvery fluid spinning itself into a shimmering gown around her.  A flip of her now fully self-styled hair out of the garment’s way, and a little shimmy to settle the fabric, and she was dressed.

“Dress: a little bit more provocative, if you please. I am one of those decadent Imperials, and I’d hate to disappoint all those expectations.”

While the dress busied itself adjusting its lines in all the right places, she slipped the copper-jade necklace-replica she’d brought around her neck.  Then, reaching into her personal thought-space, she produced, reified, and settled atop her head the augmentality illusion of a halo of fire, flames dancing and throwing off sparks among her blonde curls.

Well, she subvocalized, how do I look?

You are the very epitome, my lady, her muse wryly replied, of the young, rich, and lovely fluff that attend all of Saven Jerrad’s best parties.  I believe you will not-blend-in quite splendidly.

Trope-a-Day: Attack Drone

Attack Drone: Hell, yes!  From personal protection drones, through the combat drones that make up the larger part of pretty much any fireteam (half-a-dozen slaved to each mechagrunt), through the wingdrones accompanying aerospace fighters, to the Imperial Navy’s AKV-drones, the Imperial military (and mercenaries, and law enforcement, and private security) does love its drones.

Now, some might say that being AI controlled, these aren’t drones, these are Mecha Mooks.  Well, no, those are one step up the chain.  Those are the autonomous mechagrunts and AKVs that the drones are slaved to, and which in turn answer to the actual people in the command chain.  This isn’t mere force multiplication, this is force raising-to-the-power-of!

And that has been the name of the game ever since they were big, lumbering, steam-powered things with Stannic cogitator brains.

Trope-a-Day: Asteroid Thicket

Asteroid Thicket: Averted.  Space does not work that way.  Any time you see asteroids that close together, it’s because someone’s moved them there for a purpose – which means, if you try flying through them, your biggest concern is not hitting them, it’s local traffic control wanting to know what the hell you think you’re doing and ordering you back into the raicve lane.

Brand Maintenance

TANEV (QUAVE REPUBLIC) – The government today refused the extradition of Ferlyn Kazesh, the Crescent Bioproducts executive responsible for the Taniris chemical disaster, to the Empire.

[The disaster at Taniris earlier this year was the result of a faulty control computer in the Crescent Bioproducts factory outside Taniris City misrouting chemical flows in a manner leading to an explosion, which subsequently led to the venting into the local atmosphere of 300 tons of toxic intermediate products, including nanomotile catalysts.  Despite a rapid response from both local emergency services and specialist hazmat teams provided by Biolith Chemical Products, ICC, the owner of Crescent Bioproducts, this venting led to over 4,000 direct fatalities, and over 100,000 injuries with potential long-term consequences.]

In giving his judgment against extradition, Enforcer Parlaq of the Republic Court denied both the validity of the application, since the offences committed by Kazesh were committed entirely within the Quave Republic and therefore were subject to its sole jurisdiction, and cited the Quave Republic’s long-standing opposition to the death penalty.  Kazesh’s sentence of 85 years imprisonment under the Quave law of willful negligence therefore stands.

The Imperial ambassador to Quave, Sir Valeth Anandonos-ith-Anaxios, commenting, said “We regret the decision of the Republic government today to refuse the extradition of Citizen Kazesh.  While we respect the sovereign right of the Republic to exercise its jurisdiction in this matter, we believe that in this specific case we may have been able to better able to address the wider interests at stake while still ensuring that justice is done for the dead and injured citizens of the Republic.”

Anonymous sources close to the ambassador offered the following clarifying statement: “The records are clear, both those of your government’s investigation and those of Biolith when they got through investigating what the raicvef their subsidiary had been up to.  Kazesh killed those thousands of people just as surely as if he’d murdered them himself, by ignoring maintenance procedures, bypassing safety measures, and falsifying the plant records to let him embezzle the difference.  While we respect your legal system, that’s not willful negligence under Imperial law.  That’s something much worse.”

“Set aside the justice of it for a moment, although 85 years is a penny-ante punishment for anyone with either immortality.  We have to protect our brand.  The Empire’s thought of as a premium citizenship because we always clean up our own mess.  And we’ve got five trillion citizen-shareholders with investments all over – many of whom are themselves all over – the Associated Worlds.  None of them deserve to be – and none of them ought to be – associated with that shit-fucker.”

“So if you guys don’t want to do it, let me assure you that my government will take it as a personal favor if you can find a political way to send him back to us and let us shoot the bastard for you.”

No Fate But What We Built

Thread 47.1008.183647.221 did not have a narrative thread of consciousness. It was a mere expediter, unconsciously sapient, originating from the point within the Transcend’s functional soup where certain collected data matched a template laid down by higher level routines – familiar to its constituents as aspects of the eikones Laryssan and Éléia-Líëran, fate and love. But while it lacked consciousness, it did have purpose, and began to run.

The first thing it did, after reviewing its source data, was to plant a request in the local weather control system…

She paused, coming up the escalator from the Sky Valley mag-lev station and out from beneath the rainbow light of its vaulted ceiling, caught by the beauty of the sunset beyond the Quinjano dome; high cirrus illuminated red and yellow from the light of the setting sun below and a few faint stars, the stark shadowed landscape with wind whipping red dust from off the cliffs and rising river mists into fractal patterns.

Raising a hand to halt her luggage at the landing, she reached into her pocket for her camera.

Observing the success of its first gambit, 47.1007.183647.221 reached out to a nearby soul-shard, and inserted an impulse.

He paused, leaving the western locks. Esklav. Yes, a good hot cup of esklav would be just the thing.  Turning, he strode into the mag-lev station tunnel and down the stairs, almost running over the woman paused on the landing, looking at the sky.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Expry Calaris-ith-Calir, and I’ll just get out of your way…”

“Octë Muetry-ith-Galry, and it’s – wait, have I not seen you before? On Baranithil Station, perhaps? About six months ago?”

“I was there then, yes, a contract for Prosperity Nexus.  Hm – ith-Galry? We spoke a few times on the Helix Exchange, I think.”

“A few times, yes.” She smiled. “I used to enjoy our conversations. Would you have time for another one – over esklav, perhaps?”

“I had the same thought myself.” He grinned back. “And was already heading that way.  Would you care to join me?”

Turning, they walked off together down the mezzanine, her luggage trundling after them.

The initial conditions of its creation satisfied, 47.1008.183647.221 dropped back into dormancy.  Had it a consciousness, it would undoubtedly have felt a sense of satisfaction at the missed connection repaired; as it was, it merely updated the higher routines on its success, and saved state against it being needed again.

Meanwhile, another tuple matched in the Transcendent soup, and thread 47. 1008.183647.222 began to run…