You’ve Got To Read This

basilisk hack: (from the mythical petrifying serpent); a class of cognoweapon capable of being introduced through normal sensory channels which attack metalogical defects in sensory input processing or cognition, causing various cognitive dysfunctions, neural storms, seizures, and in advanced cases, coma.  Most publicly known families of basilisk hack are automatically filtered by modern security metacortex extensions.

YGBM hack: (“you’ve got to believe me”); a more advanced class of cognoweapon based on basilisk hack (q.v.) principles, in which the basic hack serves as a channel to introduce a memetic payload without it passing through normal cognitive/memetic processing, thus causing instant belief and/or conversion.  This is largely a theoretical class due to the difficulty of passing a memetic payload through limited sensory bandwidth and the nature of available cognitive exploits, but certain simple examples are known to exist, including the Andreth-Calcië emotropic symphonies, the Citizen Nondescript bioshell series, the Out-Of-Mind visual textures, and the Must-Have-It Box.

YGHM hack: (“you’ve got to have me”); a specific YGBM hack (q.v.) variant focused on inducing desire, or simple lust.  While no target-specific forms are known to exist live, one subset of the Andreth-Calcië emotropic symphonies is known to induce these mental states in a generalized sense.  (Legal warning: effective-fidelity recordings of these qualify as a Class I Coercive Substance and, as such, non-consensual exposure to such is a serious crime under Imperial law.)

yaghem: (slang); a person whose sexuality presentation and/or seduction techniques possess all the subtlety of a YGHM hack (q.v.), albeit without the effectiveness.  Considered derogatory.

– excerpted from Cognitive Threats Monthly: Special Introductory Issue

Trope-a-Day: Human Resources

Human Resources: In space, where roughly 3/5ths of everyone lives, no-one wastes precious water, carbon, and complex organic compounds; therefore, yes, bodies are hereby committed to the recycling tanks.  Of course, the bodies have to have died naturally first, which should make it marginally less creepy.

There used to be organ donation, too, but these days they just clone spare organs on-demand.

Paging Narcissus

self.fork: {self, muse, adjuncts.primary[]} target: {self.shells[local & mine].default}

The instances looked at each other.  One smiled, and glanced away; the other tucked an errant curl of hair back into place.

“Are you flirting with yourself?”

A matched pair of embarrassed looks greeted that question.

“Don’t worry; everybody does it the first time.”

Trope-a-Day: Bullet Time

Bullet Time: Given the speed of electrophotonic hardware, it would be possible for most cybershells and many bioshells up to the current Imperial neural standard to do live-action Bullet Time, at least with current Earth guns.

Of course, in their own place and time, the bullets are a lot faster than they used to be… but it’s still useful, because there are plenty of people around who aren’t.

Putting the Tramp in Trader

“It’s a steel box.”

“It’s a fully functional – well, mostly functional, but all primary systems are functional – Hariven-class free trader.  Just what you want when you’re starting out in this business.”

“It’s a steel box with a plasma torch welded on the back.”

“And a generous cargo capacity for its displacement, regenerative life support, ah – adequate crew quarters and food vats, and docking room for a single surface-orbit shuttle.”

“And it’s –”

“– a steel box, yes.  If you wanted to pay for stylish, would you be shopping for starships in a wreckyard?”

“Show me the contract again.”

– overheard in Kathar orbit, Cilmínár system

Trope-a-Day: Bullet Proof Vest

Bullet Proof Vest: Mostly averted against bullets – most modern personal weapons put enough kick behind their projectiles that you want hardshell armor with kinetic barriers (see: Armor is Useless, Powered Armor) to save you from those, which is why even the Constabulary uses the equivalent of regular legionary armor just in case.  The equivalents, “scale jackets”, and other clothing made from the same materials – usually pharmed spider-silk and related composites – do exist to help deal with shrapnel, knives, needlers, and other lesser hazards.

Liberty’s Praxis

“Freedom is sanity; sanity is freedom. They are natural co-dependents. One cannot exist without the other.”

“Consider, first, the Precursors. The ancient lin-aman were exemplars of whim untamed by reason; self-interest without enlightenment; a void of talcoríëf. And without rationality to guide them, they were slaves to their passions, to their instincts, and for all their powers and the glories of their civilization, they warred themselves into extinction.”

“And consider, second, the people of the outworlds, the dwellers in korasmóníë. What sanity can they have? Being owned, being ruled, being put up to vote – being subject to any master distorts the perspective. Those who are told what to think never learn how; those who are required to obey learn to never ask why; those who are shielded from consequences cannot understand causes. The servile can never see clearly enough to reach talcoríëf.”

“To this second necessity, we have the Contract and the Charter to keep us free; to the first, the Collegium exists to keep us fit for its exercise.”

– Academician Selidië Ciellë, founder of the Eupraxic Collegium

And Yet They Move

That there is Order within the Celestial Vault, and Law that governs their Motions, cannot be denied by any Natural Philosopher.  We of the Celestial Circle have long used and imitated the orderly motions of this most Perfect of Clocks in the tracking of the march of the Cycles and the Seasons, of the turning of the Years, of the coming of Deep Winter, and the accurate recording of Time.

But while we can watch the skies and map the motions of the Wandering Stars, as yet we understand little of their true nature; as within our own order the dispute between those who favor the Centrism of Ilani Corrével, who argues for Eliéra’s place at the Center of the Celestial Vault, since the new lenses of Recent Years have shown us the ever-changing-and-repeating, yet always-circular faces of the Wandering Stars that show these to be Spheres, yet we know Eliéra Herself to be Flat, as the Shadow-watcher showed in the Age of Wood; and the Solarism of Arventel Kalyn, who observes the Companions of the Sun, and their never-departing from His side, as the Faint Wanderers that accompany some of the Wandering Stars, and argues that their Rotation could be as that of the Far Wanderers, were the Fixed Realm to instead Rotate between them and the other Wandering Stars; now thrown into new Confusion by Calria Lirendocius’s discovery of new Companions which accompany the Shining One and accompany Him as the Companions of the Sun do the Light-Giver, in Accordance with Neither.

And yet this day I may add only More Confusion to our understanding of the Skies, for since Observations began at the Starspike, it has been recorded that when the Shining One is square to the Light-Giver, red Alqerach shall be seen centered in Taran’s Loop by a Watcher stationed at the Eye.  Colleagues, be it known that over the centuries of our Watching, Alqerach is there No Longer; and others of the Fixed Stars too show this Drift, but in ways that Differ, and so cannot be Explained by the movement of Our World, or by the Fixed Stars as a Single Vault or Sphere.  I enclose Copies of our Observations at the Starspike for your Attention.

Colleagues, the Fixed Stars move!

– ancient records recently recovered at the Starspike

Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying a Damned Inconvenience

“What d’you mean, why the delay?  Oh, you’ve not been to Phílae before, I suppose.”

The pilot gestured through the window at the white-blue marbled planet below them. The hypercane sprawled across the ocean’s surface for over two thousand miles, an ugly whorl of cloud mottled at its outer edges with the lesser swirls of mere hurricanes spun off by the intense core surrounding the primary eyewall, where clouds humped miles into the stratosphere.

That’s why we can’t land; the eye’s only ninety miles or so from Phílae City right now.  And the last reports said they had continuous lightning, horizontal rain, wind speeds nearing five-hundred and a hundred-twenty-foot storm surge.  You don’t want me to take a pinnace down into the middle of that –”

“Oh, no, they’re fine – this happens every year.  Most of the city’s underwater, and the topside part will have closed its shells and gone deep to ride it out.  But it’ll be about thirty, forty hours before the storm’s clear of the city, so we might as well get comfortable — No, not a chance. Even if I was crazy enough to thread the eye – which I’m not – they’re not going to come back up just so we can dock.”

Coming Soon, To an Orbit Near You

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Trope-a-Day: Brown Note

Brown Note: Basilisk fractals, and their audible, etc., equivalents, which is to say, various forms of sensory input that can take advantage of cognitive bugs to actually crash your mind – and, at least theoretically, can implant thought-virus programming, although that capability’s never yet been seen in the wild.  Most modern (artificial or modified) cognitive architectures include protection against known basilisk hacks, but known is, regrettably, often less than all.  And baselines are still vulnerable, as are people who don’t keep up to date with Cognitive Threats Monthly.  Apply your service packs, kids!

Doing it with a thought-virus that is implanted into the mind using regular educational axiom feeds or other mind-editing tech is too trivial to even mention.

Trope-a-Day: Brought Down to Normal

Brought Down to Normal: Hard to play straight, insofar as superpowered is the new normal (see Everyone Is A Super), and no-one takes to being crippled terribly well.

Also notably subverted when someone gets a clever idea and assembles the equipment necessary to jam all communications, decohere tangle, and otherwise brute-force detach someone from the Transcend, inasmuch as the essential difference between a collective consciousness and a hive mind is that in the former the whole depends on the parts, not the other way around – and what you now have on your hands is someone with a very nasty headache, a serious attitude problem, and virtually all of their ability to ruin your day absolutely intact.

Yes, Even That

“My people take it as a point of pride that we can write a note to cover anything, anything at all, that a customer brings to us; and so far, we always have.”

“We almost failed once, being asked to handle liability for a project whose design included ‘a dynamically stabilized array of microsingularities’ – but design problems took that out of the running before we’d finished trying to arrange cover.  And if they brought that same request back to us today, we could write it.  No question.”

– Lantris Andiné-ith-Andiné, COO, Consolidated Mutual Mitigation and Surety

The Lost Sophont Office (1)

Bonded Storage, Landfall Downport, Viëlle

The battered cryotube stood in the middle of the warehouse office, and steamed slowly.

“So, what do we know?”

“It came in on the IV Mekahaktakt Mktik out of the Kaylin Cache route; they offloaded a large batch here.  The rest all processed successfully, so the line office didn’t hold the ship – and in any case, the immediate-destination tag was correct.”

“Trouble is, that’s all we’ve got.  See here,” he tapped his slate, “the transponder memory’s almost completely scrambled, even the write-only log.  Or deliberately randomized, of course.  I sent an inspection swarm in to look through the effects, and there’s no identity papers among them, just some pictures.  I forwarded them to the Mekahaktakt and to ports along its route, but… no positive responses.”

“Any luck on tracing the actual ‘tube?”

“I sent a query out for the physical serial, but there’re no recent records of it.  And it’s a Fourvanes 220 – it’s an obsolete piece of junk, but they made millions of them.  They’re in use and in junkyards all over the hinterworlds.  It could have had fifty owners since the last one of record, if that’s even the original serial.”

His companion nodded. “Well, unless you’ve got any other ideas we can execute on in what’s left of our 72-hour hold, I think we’re going to have to –”

“Wake him up and ask him?”

“Wake him up and ask him.  You get on to the steerage terminal and get a cryorevive and quarantine team down here; I’ll call Borders and Volumes.”