All That Makes Gold Does Not Glitter

“Me?  I’m a logotect.  I make words – well, there’s lots of kinds of us, some specializing in ordinary words, some in jargon, or in seals, or in meaningful names, or whatever.  Technically, I’m a euphemigen.  I’m the opposite of a normal eonymic; I make words that sound unlike the thing they name.”

“Some that you’ve heard of?  Spend any time in finance?  I’m most well-known for the division names I cooked up for Asymptotic Alpha, a couple of hundred years back: Suprapolitan Facilities, Sovereign Liability Management, Legislative Combinatorics, and Indirect Freight Services.  Not my best work, but they’ve become quite popular in the industry.”

“Well, some offworld investors get quite skittish when things are called what they actually are.  My terms sound so much nicer – or easier to just quietly slide past and collect your dividends – in the annual reports than ‘company habs, tax avoidance, regulatory manipulation, and smuggling’ would be.”

“So, what do you do?”

Trope-a-Day: Everything is an iPod in the Future

Everything Is An iPod In The Future: “Right now, being cutting-edge is all about plain black and white (maybe pastel colors if you’re lucky), translucent plastic, smoothed edges, screens that slide and flip out, touch screens, unobtrusive buttons, minimalist advertising and displays, lights that come out of nowhere and catchy little chimes when the devices start up. […] Interfaces are designed to be soothing, easy to use and colorful, and if intelligent they’ll probably be annoyingly helpful.”

Well, it’s one element in the aesthetic, sure.  But see under Crystal Spires and Togas and Raygun Gothic for more.

More Reactions

(to these events…)

“By vote of three to one, the Photonic Network abstaining, the Presidium of the Conclave finds no justification in the any of the Accords to disbar any species from signatory status or from signatory-member status on the basis of its origin.  By vote of three to zero, the Photonic Network and League of Meridian abstaining, the Presidium of the Conclave finds that homeworld status under the Common Volumetric Accord is properly granted to the first colonies of the temísi, arthál, and zal!en under the nomadic-species precedent set by the róthich in in re Rothichican.  And neither the Presidium nor the Conclave as a body has any further comment on this affair.  Please refer your questions to individual legations.  Thank you.”

– Peliakos Amvarixin ve-Sintich, spokesman for the Conclave

“‘Playing god?’ is it?  ‘Fake bodies and rootless environment’?  Oh-ho!  I scent the stink of Never Last, Parents for Natural Children, or some others of that baseline-uber-alles, rah-rah crowd upon that so-innocent article sent anonymously to the Router.  All they need is to mention impurifying their essence and we’d have the whole set.  Unless that’s what they meant by that ‘natural species’ emphasis which – speaking as one of the enthusiastically Reengineered Esseli Biosystem – they can shove right up their excretory vacuoles.”

“The soph’s an idiot.  Makes no sense at all.  Fictional government — all governments are fictional until you implement them, and with people like the Iltines and the Galians and the Vonnies out there, they can hardly do worse.  And as for culture, these new species may not have much self-generated culture now, but that’s a problem that will solve itself in just a few decades or centuries spent living.”

“I’d offer to grow him a new exocortex, but this much stupid’s got to be contagious.”

– GTTAAACATATGGAGGCCATACGA, letter to the Accord Journal

“It’s certainly not what we expected when we sold the rights to ith-Vinithinios.  And for myself – when we first heard about it, I thought it was the weirdest damned thing.  Just a game setting, you know, no more than that.  I and my design team just made them and their cultures and all the rest of it up for the sake of the story we wanted to tell.  It never crossed my mind – never crossed any of our minds – that people might actually want to live there.”

“Now?  Well, no offense intended to those involved, but it still seems a little weird.  But mostly, I think we’re proud of having invented peoples, places and cultures that they wanted to make real.  And I very much look forward to seeing what they do with them.”

– Camdal Essenye-ith-Haranye, lead designer, Mirajdíä Studios

“Oh, great.  Nice for them.  But how are we supposed to play the games now?”

– overheard in a skymall, at Asché (Lilium Drifts)

Trope-a-Day: Raygun Gothic

Raygun Gothic: The other major influence on the Empire’s aesthetics (albeit adapted to much newer technologies and materials than would be usual), along with Crystal Spires and Togas and – to a lesser extent – Everything Is An iPod In The Future. This one is notably major because for a variety of reasons – some of which involve obvious worldbuilding features and others of which would, if described, sound like a The Reason You Suck speech – its host culture never lost the optimism and essential idea that there’s a big bright beautiful Tomorrow just around the corner, courtesy of Science!  (Capital and exclamation point definitely included.) Particularly since they actually did keep arriving.

(This is also why the second movement of their national anthem is just like Make Way For Tomorrow, Today, sung without a single trace of irony.)

Trope-a-Day: Crystal Spires and Togas

Crystal Spires and Togas: Well, the Imperials have the crystal spires down.  Although, a little unusually, this wasn’t the follow-on from the “big, shiny, and sciency!” period (that is happening simultaneously) – it’s just that the saerymaharvéi silverlife, descendants of Precursor materials-processing nanites, left the surface of Eliera scattered with giant readily-accessible lumps of crystal right from day one.  The school of architecture stuck, intermingled with art deco, the closely related Gernsback style, a soupçon of (often literally) organic designs, and highly polished steampunk/clockpunk/electropunk in-your-face mechanism, even when it’s really ultratech with “holographic” interfaces.  With big chrome fins.

Note: this is not a Gilded Age.  That’s hammered gold, you philistine.

There are not, however, togas.  Also, the technology isn’t all that so-subtle-it-can’t-be-seen; sleek and shiny it may be, but it’s almost as obvious as in Steampunk.  Imperials like their tech.

See also: Everything Is An iPod In The Future.

Trope-a-Day Note

Just to warn y’all, things are going to look a little off in the trope-a-day world for a while, because while the next trope up technically is The Beautiful People, it happens to be sitting on top of a dependency chain 24 tropes deep.

So we’re going to be rather spectacularly out of alphabetical order for most of the month of April, okay?


Stranger Than Fiction

Heard of the temísi?  The arthál?  How about the zal!en?

Well, if you had been part of the gaming set between ten and twenty years ago, you did, since these three fictional species made up most of the protagonists of An Ending Not In Fire, the blockbuster virtuality game (and novel, InVid, watchvid, and slinky) franchise from Mirajdíä Studios (Delphys), with its overarching story of love and politics and betrayal and existential threats set in the Greater Ancíël Whirl.

And you’d have heard of them again last week if you read Galactic Demographics Quarterly, since all three of them just turned up in the Empire’s latest statistical update.

This is not merely a repeat of the story some of you may recall seeing a few years ago that Metabiologics, the specialist bioshell manufacturer, had started producing bioshells matching the physical forms of these species for the enjoyment of fans; that was merely another piece of strangeness from our primary source for strangeness, and not something that would appear in the demographics.

Now, however, funded by the “eccentric” quadrillionaire Meris Vinithos-ith-Vinithinios, a consortium of biotechnology companies has produced viable – fully capable of independent life and self-perpetuation – neogen species designed to match those in the game from which they originated.  Millions of sophonts have chosen to adopt these species as their own, and had it formally recognized by their government.  And more, I am informed that Vinithos-ith-Vinithinios’s consortium has acquired the colonization rights to three ecopoesable planets in the Banners constellation, and arranged to have these recognized as the adopted homeworlds of these fictional species, with representation both in the Shadow Ministries’ Convention of Species and as Imperial member polities using their fictional government, barely modified!

If you aren’t terrified yet, you should be.  Here we have the absolute cutting edge of biotechnology, a degree of manipulating nature that should be treated with the utmost respect, being used to… what?  Turn playing storyteller into playing god?  A man with enough money to wave aside the problems of any dozen backward planets you care to name spends it on realizing an elaborate fantasy.  Millions of people abandon their homes, their roots, their own species to live their lives play-acting cultures that some writers made up whole-cloth, and to raise their children in the same fake bodies and rootless environment.

And their government, finding a new low point in its well-known distaste for responsibility, not only doesn’t see fit to raise any questions or take any actions to stop all this, but cheerfully accepts these… defictionalizations as new member species and nations without so much as a sideways look.  One might have hoped that one of the Great Powers of the Worlds, one that sits on the Presidium of the Conclave, even, might act with a little more gravitas and respect for the essence of our galaxy’s natural species, but no.

This is how the wealthy and powerful among people and nations act today.  It’s no wonder the galaxy’s in a hell of a state.

– Independent Worlds Router, anonymously filed article

“They may have picked an unconventional way to go about it, but our new temísi and arthál and zal!en citizen-shareholders are going about building something; worlds, lives, cultures.  That’s their free choice and something laudable, not blameworthy.  If you want someone to blame for the state of the galaxy, try the narrow-minded microcephaloids like whoever submitted that article to the Router.  And yes, that is the official position of this government.”

– Esmérel Amanyr-ith-Loriane, Imperial Palace press secretary

Meditations on the Aspects of Self (1/3)

The self is not one; the self is many.
Aspects within aspects, three and three.

The first triad is that of the body;
Flesh, machine and software in union.

First the flesh, container and interface.
Genes shaped by generations, remade by design;
A vessel crafted to serve the mind.

Next the machine, device and instrument.
Within or without, nanocyte or nanoforge;
Through our tools is our will expressed.

Through software is that will made many;
Agent and partial, fork and derivative.
To master this aspect is to become a verb.

Trope-a-Day: The Battlestar

The Battlestar: Several battlecruiser classes (see: Standard Sci-Fi Fleet) act as this sort of ship-of-the-wall/carrier hybrid, especially the ones specialized to go out on roving missions rather than hang around as fleet screening elements/participate in major actions.  Because specialized ships are almost always more efficient, except when your task force is too small to specialize ’em.  (Pure carriers are usually larger, in the same hull class as dreadnoughts or superdreadnoughts.)

Of course, what they carry are purely robotic AKVs, not manned space fighters, so they may not qualify as The Battlestar on that technicality after all.

There are also the giant lighthugger behemoths, the fleet carriers, whose job is to have an entire fleet of multiple squadrons, possibly including regular AKV-carriers, clamped on to them for near-c transport between star systems.  Since they are decently heavily armed against the possibility that – despite striving to avoid it – they may need to defend themselves while disembarking or embarking their fleet, they’re closer to the feel of the trope.  But much, much BIGGER.

Mind the Self-Loading Cargo

All Hands:

As per the ship’s itinerary, we will be arriving at Thetra (Banners) highport in three cycles, ship time. As is the usual procedure, I’ll require completed pre-arrival checklists, chandlers’ requisitions, and codicils from each department by the wineful hour tomorrow.

The following special instructions apply:

1. If the complaints I’ve been getting are anything to go by, the ship’s locker is running low on a variety of non-spec stores. The ship’s discretionary budget’s looking good this quarter, so, deck department, while you’re doing your inventories, make out your wish lists.

2. This is our first call at an outworld this trip, and we’ll be taking on passengers. Now, for those of you on your first trip, this means we’re going to be carrying lots of people who aren’t spacers or spacer-modified, and who are used to the idea of artificial gravity whenever they go offworld, and who certainly aren’t used to people using a half-dozen different verticals in the same place.

This means, yes, lots of freefall sickness. So break out the emesis bags and multispecies microgravity-adaptation pills, people, they’re going to need them.

And I don’t want to have to detail people to clean it out of the atmosphere processors, am I clear?

3. Likewise, break out the catchpoles, and make sure we have enough. If past voyages are anything to go by, we’re going to spend the first few days hauling lots of people down out of mid-air. And keep them with you – none of the other passengers are paying to watch the ongoing flailing while you go get the ’pole.

4. If you haven’t used them recently, go see the Master-at-Arms for a refresher on your multispecies child-restraint techniques. Kids love microgravity, and are not good at keeping it to the rec deck. And since the passengers aren’t paying for free-fall pranks, either, that means you’re going to have to.

And Crewman mor-Venek? Do remember that electrolasers are not an approved child-restraint technique anywhere off Paltraeth. Legal had to pay out enough compensation last time.

5. I’ll be in my office for the whole of the highsun hour today if any additional concerns arise that require my attention.

It’s only a short layover this time, but let’s make it a smooth one!

– Iallis Steamweaver-ith-Ilithos, purser

Trope-a-Day: Standard Sci-Fi Fleet

Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Well, most of these classes exist – although it is particularly important to realize that the Empire alone fields literally thousands of specialized class vessels that don’t fit neatly into any of these categories, and that to a certain extent, trying to shove everyone’s ship designs into the approximate same paradigm is an exercise in futility…

Ignoring the permanent city-ships, and starting with the military classes, we have, first, the regular fighting-ship classes.  These begin with the frigate and destroyer (including the latter’s stealthy recon variant), small and fast ships used in “wolf-packs” for scouting, escorts, and screening elements, but which don’t themselves have the resilience or firepower to stand up in the wall of battle.

The middleweight combatants, and the most maneuverable/versatile, are the cruisers and battlecruisers, which also serve as screening elements for heavier ships, but are more often seen as the standard patrol and task-force element, often operating in flotillas (a cruiser wing with a battlecruiser or two thrown in for stiffening) or even independently (especially the battlecruisers).  And since this type of operation (power projection, anti-piracy patrol, general keeping the peace of the spacelanes) is the bread-and-butter of the Powers and their naval forces, most navies, the IN included, field more cruisers and battlecruisers than just about any other type of starship.

These are also classes that come with a large number of variants.  Most recognized among the cruiser classes are the assault cruiser (optimized for planetary assaults, i.e., heavy on the ship’s troops and capable of launching drop shuttles and drop pods into atmosphere; some of these are aerospace cruisers, which air fighters can sortie from before there’s an orbithead established); the diplomatic cruiser (a big stick to transport the softly-speaking); the point-defense cruiser (the one type of cruiser you might see in the wall, designed specifically to augment the point-defense of other ships); and the interdictor cruiser (specializing in the volume-security mission, which is to say, to chase down, capture and board other starships).  The primary battlecruiser variants are the command battlecruiser (optimized to carry the admiral commanding a CC/BC task force) and the carrier-battlecruiser (which carries AKVs – see below – as well as its internal armament; this is the type of BC usually found operating alone, due to its significantly enhanced operational envelope and capabilities).

Then we come to the actual ships of the wall, battleships, carriers, and dreadnoughts.  The battleships are the mainstays of the wall, large and slow vessels mounting heavy, long-range firepower for fleet engagements; and the carriers, even larger vessels, carrying an extensive complement of AKVs (autonomous kill vehicles, the missile/attack-drone fighter-interceptor hybrids described under Space Fighter, to swarm and destroy enemy starships at sub-“knife fight” range – i.e., hopefully inside the minimum effective range of their point defenses).  The dreadnoughts are effectively “super-battleships” built on carrier hulls, used in relatively small numbers to stiffen the wall.

Superdreadnoughts are either dreadnought-class vessels built on even larger hull frames, or regular dreadnoughts with only battleship armament, using the extra internal volume to hold specialized systems; common examples are the command superdreadnought which houses the admiral in charge of a large task force or fleet; the information-warfare superdreadnought; the loadout-heavy mauler superdreadnought, the anti-RKV superdreadnought, etc., etc.

At the top end of the regular classes, we have the hyperdreadnought – taking the design principles of the superdreadnought classes even further – of which the Empire fields three, each unique within its class; Invictus, Imperiatrix, and God of War.  In order, they are the home of Admiralty Grand Fleet Operations, the Imperial Couple’s personal flagship, and the literal embodiment of the archai/eikone of war.  Any one of them turning up on the battlefield would have implications that, by and large, no-one wants to think about thinking about.

Less regular military classes include the starfighter, a frigate-sized mini-carrier with four to eight AKVs clamped to its outer hull, used primarily for covert operations and commerce raiding; the fleet carrier, a giant (and not itself offensively armed) lighthugger starship on the lugger model (see below) whose purpose is to ferry naval task forces to systems not connected to the stargate plexus; the fluffships – whose design is implicit in their name – that police systems for debris, ricochets, and misses after battles; and the relativistic kill vehicles for practicing MAD on an interstellar scale with giant lighthugger missiles capable of shattering planets, given a good run-up.

Among civilian ships, there are also various recognizable classes of starship for different purposes:

For freight transport, for example, one can recognize both the immense grapeships (from the appearance of the external cargo pods) or megahaulers, which transport vast amounts of containerized cargo along the largest and most dependable trade routes, and their smaller cousins the haulers, smaller freighters which handle more volatile but still regular traffic everywhere, and are willing to handle breakbulk as well as containerized cargo, and of course the volatiles-hauling tankers; and finally, picking up irregular and speculative trade and filling in the gaps, the thousand different classes of free traders (and their somewhat more combative overlapping variants beloved of smugglers and irregular commerce-raiding privateers, the blockade runner and corsair.)  For routine transportation of volatiles, ore, and other such bulk and fungible cargo, fully automated slowhaulers often take up the task.

For passenger transport, likewise, we begin with the luxurious highliners and liners – analogous to the megahaulers and haulers in size and usage upon routes, and their express cousins the fastliners.  And then, for those travelling off the regular routes or seeking a more unique experience, a great many free traders are just as happy to carry passengers as they are to carry anything else.  Of course, the relatively wealthy and privacy-desiring have the option to travel in their private yachts, as ever, and at the other end of the scale, steerage-class transport is available to the relatively indigent on any number of iceliners, ships – often used as colonization transports – designed for the specialized task of transporting bodies in cryostasis or nanostasis, and minds recorded on data substrate.

In more specialized uses, dedicated classes abound: when messengers, mail, and packets need to get there really fast, within the stargate plexus at least, engine-heavy couriers are on the job; wrecks, debris, and flotsam are salvaged by debris recovery vehicles; hospital ships provide medical services (and reinstantiation services) to military fleets and disaster or epidemic-struck regions; logistics ships provide repair and construction services wherever they’re needed; oilers and tenders provide fuel, supplies, and other necessities to other starships; science, research, and exploration are done in the ubiquitous, customizable service/operations vehicles; smelterships render down asteroids into usable metal and other elements; and tugs and their larger cousins, the antimatter-torch equipped superlifters, move ships, modules, materiel – and in the case of the latter, entire habitats, asteroids, and even small moons – to where they’re needed to be…

…and if we’re willing to classify flying cities that are as much drift-habitats as starships, then we must include the civilization-backup ships, preserving archives, museums, and mind-states in the far reaches, ready to flee news of existential disasters; All Good Things, ICC, spreading the good word of commerce to underdeveloped regions with its skymalls; the empire ships, massive floating conferences/exhibitions/showpieces/parties flying endless loops around the Imperial Core and its many distant exclaves keeping population, culture, and knowledge well-distributed; and the embassy ships, similar exhibitions paying diplomatic calls on foreign polities and recently contacted worlds, bringing religiosity to the fuzzy-wuzzies and suchlike.

For local transport, small craft abound.  For freight, lighters scurry about transporting cargo ship-to-ship, ship-to-station, and ship-to-ground; for passengers, pinnaces provide the same service, and in moving about between local stations or habitats in a cluster, the automated commutersphere provides rapid transport. Skydivers skim gas giants for fuel; maintenance and construction are carried out by the ubiquitous workpod; and other myriad local functions are served by the flexible, customizable cutter.

All of these, of course, exist within the framework of the stargate plexus.  Outside that, a different type of ship entirely is required – lighthuggers need much more powerful engines (antimatter torch drives, for the most part) to reach the high fractions of c that make interstellar travel practical, sophisticated particle shielding to survive it, etc., etc.  Let us leave aside for the moment the shardcruisers (not true lighthuggers, but hybrid ships built to service outposts in the outer cometary cloud of star systems, whose longest-range examples fade into slow, short-range luggers); and also the starwisps, ultra-light – a matter of pounds – light-sail vessels propelled by lasers at their point of origin, carrying information, tangle, or the smallest probes across interstellar space.

These then divide into clippers – high-acceleration, relatively low-mass vessels carrying premium cargo and passengers at the highest possible speeds, including, in the limiting case, the private staryachts of the very wealthiest; and luggers, their relatively low-acceleration higher mass vessels carrying passengers and freight in larger quantity.  Specialized classes of lugger include the shiphauler (designed to transport docked starships rather than cargo directly; the military fleet carrier is an example of this type); the seedship (carrying ecopoesis packages and a startup colony); and the linelayer (transporting one half of a stargate pair to its destination system).

Anvils Should Be Warm (2/2)

The recruits shivered in the cold wind and ankle-deep slush, a ragged sextet of double lines stretching across the Agoge landing field, gazing around them in puzzlement at the empty, frozen wastes stretching to the moon’s horizon in every direction in the dim and ruddy light of distant Arvael and the stormy face of Bastion overhead.

The crack of an activated address system drew their attention, as one, to a single legionary standing by the gate.

”Good day, recruits. I am Marshal mor-Issek Kalvanek, commandant of this facility. Welcome to Agoge, our little training moon.”

”I do not, however, welcome you to the Imperial Legions. Yes, you have been accepted as recruits to the Legions. I’m sure you have all bragged to your friends and families about your new status. That stops now. Disabuse yourself of any such notions that you might have. Legionary is a title that comes at a steep price.”

”Those legionaries in front of you are the Sergeant-Instructors in charge of each section. Their job is to smelt, refine and hammer you, our civilian raw material, into something worthy of the Legions. This training will not be easy. It will, indeed, be the most strenuous period of your lives, however long they extend, and however many wars we send you to. It was designed that way.”

”Those of you who survive to the halfway point of the training you are about to enter into will have earned the right to call yourselves legionary-apprentices. I use the term ’survive’ advisedly; while it is rare for any recruit to graduate without having died at least once, over half of you will wash out or walk out – and I remind you, you are free to leave at any time – before that point is reached. Until then, consider the term ’legionary’ a forbidden word.”

”I have seen some of you looking around you at the landscape. Fort Petrae is 64 miles from here. Before you graduate, you will be required to circumnavigate this moon under full combat conditions to return here, but for today, a nice easy run to your quarters. I will be running with you, and as would be my custom had it ever happened, anyone who beats my time to the Fort will receive a three-day pass for their first weekend off duty.”

”Sergeant-Instructors, take charge of your sections. Begin the Anvil!”

Trope-a-Day: Space Fighter

Space Fighter: Averted.  Due to fairly inexorable laws of physics, ships that don’t have to contain meat and meat-support systems always outperform ships that do – which means the classic notion of a space fighter inevitably loses to the autonomous kill vehicle (AKV), which combines a cross between a missile and an attack drone with an AI – naturally-evolved brains also aren’t good at handling three-dimensional, relativistically-distorted combat environments in which microseconds count.  Further kicking the trope in the teeth, they don’t look anything like space fighters – rather than an aerodynamic form-factor, except in very specialized aerospace machines with air-to-orbit capabilities – they’re unstreamlined roughly-tetrahedral machines with thruster clusters at each vertex for maximal maneuverability.

There are military starship classes called, as a set, starfighters, but they’re nothing like space fighters.  Rather, they’re a tiny, sub-frigate-sized class of carrier, hosting four to eight of the above-mentioned AKVs clamped on to their outer hull – and after they get the AKVs to the fight, they hang back as a mobile command post, their own fitting being close to purely defensive. And they’re mostly used by the Shadow Fleet, scouting units, commerce raiders, and mercenaries – never on the wall of battle.

What the Ship is This?


We were interested to see that a number of “corvette” – i.e. sub-frigate – classes of warship have emerged since our last edition, especially since the role of the frigate is already extremely limited, due to the limitations of its available mass and volume on its capacities, to wolf-pack deployments for light anti-piracy control, scouting, minor system pickets, and civilian system-security functions.

On examining the three primary examples of corvette-class vessels seen in use, the Vanknir-class from Nal Kalak State Arms (we admire, incidentally, the gall of the Orsten System Navy in officially designating essentially unmodified Vanknirs as “system defense frigates”), the Auberwuth­-class from Eilish Star Armories, and the General Svanek-class from the Empire’s own Islien Yards/Artifice Armaments, several key differences from frigate-class vessels, and ones which render them even more impractical as ships of war, are apparent.

Specifically, the defining characteristics of these sub-frigate ships are a particularly light armament (one barely sufficient for civilian system-security functions, if that), a greater emphasis on armor and shielding (although the kinetic barriers and hull armor mounted by any corvette-class vessel would be inadequate against even lightly armed warships firing for effect), and an emphasis on technological simplicity, focusing upon ease of field repair in the absence of equivalent-technology infrastructure, often by the replacement of modular components.  This is to say that the corvette appears to be designed for ease of maintenance in the low-technology field first, survivability – such as is possible at this scale – second, and warfighting ability third.

In the light of these unusual features, and of its emergence after the case of Sarine v. Galactic Volumetric Registry, the true purpose of the corvette becomes clear.  They are a political ship class, not a military one.  In other words, they are not intended to put up a practical system defense; rather, they are intended to permit a single-system polity which does not wish to bear the expense of a viable star nation’s naval establishment to claim system sovereignty – by virtue of policing their own space – using a few corvettes at a fraction of the expense of actual warships.

Certainly, in the event of any serious territorial incursion, these ships could do little more than fire off a few warning shots for the honor of the flag and surrender immediately thereafter, but this may be sufficient to establish their intent to assert system sovereignty in the eyes of the legal authorities.

(The name of the Islien Yards/Artifice Armaments General Svanek-class may also suggest the correctness of this analysis, the historical General Svanek Arctorran being known primarily for presiding over two surrenders in the War of Banners without any decisive battle preceding.)

We await the first legal decisions on this point with considerable interest.

– Naval Starships of the Associated Worlds, INI Press, Palaxias, 421st ed.

Anvils Should Be Warm (1/2)

Welcome to Palaxias System, home port for the Capital Fleet and the Home Fleet, and indeed for the Imperial Navy in general.

Astrographically, Palaxias is not a significant system; its sun, Arvael – named after Eliéra’s largest raptor – is a minor red dwarf star, its sole asset is its proximity to both the Empire’s throneworld and the seat of the Conclave, but this has been enough to raise it to galactic prominence, or at least notoriety among those who have no business there, and so are not permitted within the system.

Its six gas-giant planets are given over entirely to the business of the Empire’s fleet.  Local patrols and the system’s extensive grid of defense platforms are controlled from the moons of the outermost gas giant, Fortress.  The fleet is built, for the most part, in the shipyards and forges of Armory and its moons, and semi-autonomous swarm squadrons breed in the depths of its well.  Endless skydiver flights skim the atmosphere of Bunker for deuterium, helium-3, and metastable metallic hydrogen, and orbiting cryocels the size of moonlets stockpile antimatter shipped up from downwell or in from Esílmur.  And thousands upon thousands of pods, packages, containers, warehouses, and powered-down vessels of the Reserve surround the logistics base at Depot with a set of metallic rings.

(Officially, of course, nothing at all happens around epistellar Battlefield with its perpetual storms, sun-stoked, huge and fierce even by gas giant standards.)

But the heart of the system is its second world, Bastion, a bloated giant that had just missed fusion ignition, or rather its four moons.  Palaxias itself – Prime Base – a rocky moon hollowed out into the endless docks, autofacs, offices, barracks, laboratories, and other necessities of hosting the two largest IN fleets.  The nameless tiny moon-turned-habitat, bristling with communications arrays, which housed Core Command, seat of the Admiralty.  Frozen, ammoniac Quarters, offering places to take short leaves and quarters for families and contractors, a tiny domed outpost of civilian civility in an otherwise militarized system.

And Agoge, the fourth moon, whose close-in orbit to Bastion warmed it barely enough to allow open water and breathable air; a garden world but certainly not a garden spot.  Agoge was not a primarily Naval world.  Agoge was Legion territory…

The Education Proper to a Lady

Vivíré Calaris-ith-Calcithien, Breysvard Young Ladies’ Academy, to Jynel Cerron-ith-Cerron, greetings.

Citizen-Intendant Cerron-ith-Cerron,

Thank you for your enquiry, received this Calenmot 11 instant.  I am delighted that you are considering the Breysvard Young Ladies’ Academy for your further education, and am confident, based on the information included with your enquiry, that I would be able to offer you a place here.

Located in the heights of the Skyraker Mountains, Breysvard Young Ladies’ Academy offers a unique and isolated learning environment.  We have, I may say, a deserved reputation for educating the daughters of the Great Houses, earned over four millennia of upholding the Academy’s traditions, and properly reflected in our many highly successful alumnae.

All of our students leave fully educated in all the fields tradition holds as vital for the ambitious woman setting out to make her mark in the world, including recognized first-ring certification in logic, mathematics, business, finance, the domestic arts, engineering, ethics and civics, fine arts, history, literature, natural philosophy, and the martial arts, in addition to our traditional emphasis on the gentle arts of the meressif appropriate for those who expect to walk among the Names, Numbers and Novas, as so many of our graduates go on to do; etiquette and protocol of the Empire and Associated Worlds, formal presentation, grace, and elegance.  As the motto of the academy, Alath ap Aelva, suggests, we believe that both wisdom and beauty are necessary for a complete sophont, and we take no half-measures in the development of either.

Of course, selections may be made within these general areas, and additional courses may be added, as you wish, to customize your studies based on your future plans or interests.

As you indicated that you would be planning to begin your studies in the coming year, it may interest you to know that visiting masters for your year would include Rúhkef Haghárr, former chef de cuisine at the acclaimed High Orbit restaurant; mor-Tanak Estirek, a Blooded Gunmaster who previously served with the 11th Legion; Academician <Cobalt Quartet in C>, who holds the Chair of Pure Ontology at the University of Almeä; and Cessír Claves-ith-Estenv, who is both a former principal designer at Aelaviel High Fashion and the Octarthius Professor of Megastructural Engineering at the University of Calmirie, and will be teaching in both areas of expertise during her time with us.

I also saw from your enquiry that you are contemplating an initial career in law enforcement and/or security services.  Breysvard Young Ladies’ Academy is one of a very few select institutions with the capability to offer education in the use of combat exoskeletons and other heavy weapons systems as part of our martial arts course.

I have enclosed further information on the Academy and the courses we offer with this letter, and hope that we may look forward to seeing you in the coming year.

Vivíré Calaris-ith-Calcithien,
dominie, Breysvard Young Ladies’ Academy

Trope-a-Day: Battle Aura

Battle Aura: Not really a battle aura – since it’s hardly restricted to military situations (see: Mundane Utility), but those implanted effectors used for mechanical psychokinesis do, under the right circumstances, bleed off excess energy in the form of photons, in turn in the form of nice light shows.

Which can be both convenient and inconvenient (needing to keep that energy somewhere else when sneaking, for example), and which quite a few people learn to trigger even when they’re not about to lay some psychokinesis on something, just to show off.  Or intimidate.