Trope-a-Day: Command Roster

(With many thanks to Atomic Rocket and Raymond McVay of Blue Max Studios, whose Mission Control Model I drew upon heavily for inspiration while working out this alternate-style command structure.)

Command Roster: The command roster of an Imperial starship, civilian or military, looks something like this – with variations, as specialized ships require:

(Above this entire structure, potentially, a Mission Commander (Admiral, Commodore, etc.), in charge of a task force of multiple ships.)

Flight Commander: The overall director of the operation, the big boss. In charge of everything.

  1. Flight Executive (Exec)
    In charge of supervising all exterior and interior communications (the bridge between the ship’s Shipboard Information System, the ship’s crew, other ships, and the other departments; the equivalent of a Naval vessel’s executive officer, without their administrative role, which is the responsibility of the Flight Administrator. Since there is only one Flight Commander per ship, the officers in the role of Exec serve as officer of the deck when the FC is not present; other posts tend to have a first, second, and third occupying them.

    1. Spacecraft Communications (Comms)
      Communicator between the spacecraft and other ships or stations; also in charge of tangle communications and cryptography.
    2. Docks and Locks (Locks)
      On ships large enough to have other vessels docking to them and thus requiring the eponymous department, in charge of docking cradles, airlocks, shuttle bays, and the associated requirements in terms of atmosphere management and body shops. If the ship has no dedicated Small Craft Operations officer, also looks after what small craft there are, if any – i.e., carried cutters.
    3. Small Craft Operations (Air)
      On carriers (or megafreighters using the LASH model), in charge of carried interceptors, lighters, and other small craft and their operations.
  2. Flight Director (Flight)
    In overall charge of navigating the ship and engaging in flight operations as the FC and/or exec direct.

    1. Pilot/Sailing Master (Helm)
      Actively pilots the spacecraft, performing maneuvers and managing the attitude control systems.
    2. Astrogation and Guidance (Guidance)
      Navigates the spacecraft, operates the flight computers – and monitors their continued correct operation – and inertial/star tracking platforms, maintains position records, plots courses and orbits, and so forth.
    3. Relativistics (Time)
      Manages the ship’s timebase and maintains the systems that properly compensate for relativistic variation, including maintaining lock on the empire time/wall-clock time differential and other reference frame corrections.
    4. Sensor Operations (Sensory)
      In charge of all non-navigational sensors (and non-navigational uses of the navigational sensors), and maintaining the current picture of near space; this requires considerable creative interpolation to overcome light-lag, which is Sensory’s job.
    5. Tactical/Payload Operations (Guns – even on non-military vessels)
      On military vessels, in charge of weapons and firing them at the enemy; and defenses and using them against incoming fire. On all vessels, in charge of operating any and all modules plugged into the ship and any “active cargo” being carried.
    6. Data Operations (Data)
      In charge of setting up whatever programs or other complex computations the rest of the bridge officers need, ad hoc, critical path management, resource allocation, the ship’s library, etc.
  3. Flight Engineer (Chief)
    In overall charge of all engineering systems.

    1. Propulsion Engineer (Drive)
      In charge of the entire spacecraft propulsion system, from propellant to nacelle, including navigation hardware. Also responsible for tracking remaining Δv capacity.
    2. Power Engineer (Power)
      Responsible for power plant, power plant fuel supply, electrical systems, other power systems, and also monitoring internally-generated radiation if relevant.
    3. Thermal Engineer (Heat)
      In charge of all thermal control systems, including but not limited to heat sinks, radiators, heat pumps, and other thermal transfer systems.
    4. Data Systems Engineer (Comps)
      In charge of the ship’s primary data systems, including the Shipboard Information Service.
    5. Mechanical Arms and Non-Sophont Crew Engineer (Mechs)
      Responsible for the maintenance of all the ship’s robotic arms, robots, cyberswarms, and associated systems.
    6. Sensory and Guidance Systems Engineer (Systems)
      Responsible for all the sensory and guidance systems hardware; flight computers, laser grid, telescopes, radar, star-tracking platform, etc., etc.
    7. Environmental Engineer (Life)
      In overall charge of all life-support systems.

      1. Closed-Ecology Life Support Systems Manager
        Responsible for the environmental systems; heat, air, water, recycling, and the ongoing provision of same.
      2. Galley Manager
        Responsible for the carniculture vats, hydroponic systems, and other on-board food production equipment, as well as the galleys and other means of cooking it, and the slop chest.
    8. Auxiliary Systems Engineer (Aux)
      Responsible for maintenance and upkeep of all other ship’s systems, and general maintenance and stores, including the ship’s locker.
  4. Flight Administrator (Admin)
    In charge of all administrative details, ship’s paperwork, and discipline among the other departments.

    1. Cargomaster (Cargo)
      In charge of loading and unloading cargo; also in charge of ensuring that the cargo is stored in a proper balanced manner, center-of-mass-and-moment-of-inertia-wise.
    2. Purser
      In charge of self-mobile cargo; i.e., passengers and all their foibles.
    3. Flight Surgeon (Doc)
      Medical officer. In charge of dealing with disease, injury, ship’s cleanliness, and environmental radiation.

The usual bridge crew/command conference, in which the posts are filled for each watch, consists of the Captain/Flight Commander, the Flight Executive and his immediate subordinates, the Flight Director and his immediate subordinates, the Flight Engineer, and the Flight Administrator.

Lesser positions may be merged, either with each other or their superior position, on smaller ships.  Minimum crew size for anything above a small craft is four; one Captain/Flight Commander, three Flight Directors (one per watch, assuming necessary sleep patterns; only one digisapient FD would be permissible, for example) – if maintenance and operational requirements can be met.

Full Hab (2)

Here’s the next six cards (previous):

The executor sits behind his desk, a rack of scrolls at his left hand and a mechanical calculator to his right.  He holds a stylus and wears AR glasses.  Before him stand two messengers, one arriving, the other departing.  In the background, thousands of tiny cogs turn in perfect synchrony.

Tangled in silk sheets, dusted with blue petals, hair rumpled, the blissful lovers lie in each other’s arms.  Flowering vines climb the pillars which frame the scene, illuminated by the pale light of a rising moon.

A pair of wanderers walk fearlessly arm-in-arm, eyes raised and proud, towards a distant hill from whose stony summit rises a blue-silver flame.  One bears a hammer and purse of gold with them, and the other a drinking-horn and bowl of ripe fruit.  Carelessly trampled beneath their feet are a pair of broken swords, and in the sky above them, a pure white lowari (a four-winged aviform of Eliéra, similar to the Earth albatross) soars, wings fully extended.

His back turned, the sentinel wears a guard’s uniform and carries sword and gun.  He stands in a steel-bound stone gateway, a fierce wardog at his side, and permits none to pass him.  Beyond the gate, barbarians, wild beasts and tempests ravage the land.

A hundred tons of steel and brass, belching steam, tears blocks of stone from the earth, shapes them, and assembles them into the road on which it stands.  Amidst the machine, its operator guides it with the lightest touch of her hands on its levers; the pressure of a fingertip controlling far greater forces.

The androgynous librarian, standing before shelves of books and racks of scrolls, wears soft gray scholar’s robes and a porcelain mask concealing both face and expression.  With a feathered quill tucked behind one ear, the librarian offers tome, key, and recording tablet to all who approach.

Little Darknesses

While it is true that the Church of Celestial Harmony has no named adversary, no personification of evil, or rather – bearing in mind that neither are any of the eikones personifications, strictly speaking, of good – of negatively aligned concepts, it nonetheless maintains a fundamental opposition of cosmic principles.  There is the Flame, the positive cosmic principle of volition, creation, excellence, and energy; and there is the Darkness, its opposite.  Neither is the former personified as a whole; the eikones are considered shards seen through a prism, individual colors derived from the pure light of the Flame.  The latter, however, while not personified, is strongly identified with things considered manifestations of the universe’s negative principle, which Church doctrine refers to as the Universal Flaw – Void, Chaos, and Entropy.

Entropy exists in opposition, in the Church’s cosmology, to all the eikones, but most specifically such eikones as Entélith, eikone of death and endings; Éadínah, eikone of night and darkness; Olísmé, eikone of grief and loss; and Pétamárdis, eikone of necessary rot and decay.  These stand in particular opposition to Entropy, given Olísmé’s role as the consoler of the pantheon, and that both Entélith and Pétamárdis represent different aspects of that destruction which must lead to new creation.  Entélith presides over rebirth and major transitions, while Pétamárdis rules the ephemeral cycle, presiding over reuse, recycling, and repair, along with consumption as food or fuel, and ecological cycles of death and birth.  Entropy, by contrast, is the force of absolute destruction that leads to nothing new; waste – and waste heat – dissipation, and unbeing.

Of course, it is quite possible to engage in religious devotion to an abstract principle rather than an eikone (and indeed, where they sprang up, these cults have usually refrained from creating personifications of Entropy), and Entropy-cults by various names (Nightbringers, Children of the Void, the Breakers, the Cult of Finality, the Chaos-Spawned, etc., etc.) have not been unknown in eldraeic history, drawing principally from the discontent, unfulfilled or bitter among the “failed” – those unable to meet the standards demanded by society and eikones alike – and the unsated power-hungry, and from the dissonant, who found purpose and justification therein.

In the early days of the Empire, these cults often ran afoul of the secular authorities, since the activities in which they engaged as part of their devotions led them into conflict with secular law and the Fundamental Contract.  They were also widely persecuted by the templars of the Church (in particular those sponsored by the orders of Entélith and Pétamárdis) as promoters of Darkness, and this was done with the consent and assistance of the secular authorities, who took the legal view that such groups, engaged in activities intended to serve or unleash the cosmic principle of destruction, were eo ipso also engaged in conspiracies to commit crimes of entropism.

(It is entirely possible, indeed likely, that many non-cultists who engaged in activities deemed entropic – serial murderers, book-burners, rioters, vandals, and others – from entirely non-philosophical motives were caught up in the templar actions; since doctrine held that serious or chronic engagement in such activities was a sign of anathematic entropic deformation of the soul, willing or unwilling, this was not considered a significant problem by those authorities of the time who considered it.)

Likewise, the Church engaged in several military actions against entropism abroad, when they found it.  Societies which sacked cities, burned libraries, destroyed artworks for vengeance or for the value of their materials, ravaged lands and populations – all could be, and many were, deemed anathematic and made the target of a holy war.  These Marches of Purity, independent from any secular military actions, performed many punitive raids on such societies, and destroyed no few root and branch, while nonetheless taking great care to preserve their knowledge and artifacts.

While in the modern day such templar persecution and such Marches have not existed for millennia, nevertheless some Entropy-cults (and individual devotees) continue to crop up.  Even in a near-post-scarcity, sanity-guaranteed, libertist utopia, there are some very few people who can still be discontent with their lot – and are all the more so because everyone around them is satisfied with and fulfilled by their lives.  Fortunately, in the current age of ubiquitous law enforcement almost none are able to commit crimes in the name of their beliefs, and the remainder finds the unofficial persecution from their peers onerous; few will deal with, or associate with, an admitted or apparent entropist.  Some seek rectification through psychedesign and others choose to flee the Empire for more tolerant polities, but few remain for long.

– A History of Counterflamic Belief, Introduction

Trope-a-Day: Combat Referee

Combat Referee: The Presidium of the Conclave of Galactic Polities, who like galactic stability, but know that they can’t – even on those occasions when they all agree – eliminate all the wars within their ambit.  They can, on the other hand, keep wars relatively small and prevent anyone from going “too far” by enforcing the Laws and Customs of War with a ready and a heavy hand.

Trope-a-Day: Color-Coded Patrician

Color-Coded Patrician: Played straight with the uniform colors for each of the Ministries, the Senate, and the Curia, along with all of the runér; of course, there are no sumptuary laws rendering those colors off-limits for anyone else, but you can usually tell on any formal occasion by looking for people wearing the right kind of formal dress, then divide them up by the colors.

All Debts Must Be Paid

Baríël Andracanth-ith-Brianth to Ven Mak Lochh, greetings.

I checked into your son’s case, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s as I thought. There’s no “slavery” involved. He signed up to a debt indenture.

Which is to say, to cover the details so far as my inquisitive could root them out, he developed a taste for the high life, and blew through his traveling funds in a matter of weeks. Then he took out a line of credit, and went through most of that, then invested the rest in high-risk stocks, lost it, took out another to cover the fees and margin calls, went high-stakes gambling with the rest, and lost that, too. At which point Baranithil Mutual filed suit over nonrepayment of those credit lines.

He settled by offering them an indenture. I presume because he didn’t have the money, and didn’t think you’d send him the money; or maybe he thought that you could get him out of it. Anyway, I’ve seen the contract and the signing record, and it’s all perfectly legal.

He may not be enjoying his new career as a fungus-farm mucker-drone, but whatever he may tell you, it’s not like he’s being worked to death, or beaten, or some such. He’s just doing crappy sub-robot work because he’s frankly unqualified to do anything else. He’s not even being denied access to communications, as you know, and speaking of that, you should probably tell him to lay off the goldbricking and trying to run out, because if he keeps running up nonperformance and skip-trace fees at his current rate, he’s going to be stuck down there a lot longer than 126 months.

Or you could contact Baranithil Mutual and pay them the Es. 103,680 to buy out his contract. For myself, though, I suggest you leave the young idiot where he is. What sort of damn fool doesn’t know not to run up bad debts on Seranth?

– Baríël

An Unexpected Honor

The Office of the President of the Senate of the Empire of the Star, great and glorious beyond all greatness and glory, to Citizen-Shareholder Horulgavis Lariantinos-ith-Larios, greetings.

In the names of the Imperial Couple, the Senate, the Curia, and the Citizen-Shareholders of this Empire, in accordance with the duly executed procedures for the selection of the Senators of the Chamber of the People in Section VII, Article V of the Charter of the Empire, and under the authority of the Responsibility of Politics established in Section III, Article V of the Charter of the Empire, you are hereby summoned to serve in the Office of Senator for the 1,336th Century for the six year term commencing with the Senate’s 5,980th annual opening.

Commensurately, you are hereby requested and required to present yourself at the Office of the President of the Senate at the Great Hall of the Senate no later than one month before the Opening Session of 5980, or within six months following the dispatch of this writ, for formal induction into this Office.

Given under our hand and seal this day, 5979 Dalethmot 1,

Calcíë Videssos-ith-Videssos
Procurator of Sortition

for and on behalf of

Ches Andracanth-ith-Cyranth
President of the Senate

Trope-a-Day: Color-Coded For Your Convenience

Color-Coded For Your Convenience: Played straight in all the usual locations: indicator lights, transit routes, components and tool-heads, plugs and sockets, signs, departments on uniforms, logos, etc., etc.  Made more complicated, though, by the local spectrum including two ultraviolets (no, that plain white cloak is not plain white) and an infrared as visible colors; visitors with greater than merely human or lesser spectral bandwidth are still, however, lucky that the number of species that can eyeball the difference between true green and blue-and-yellow-mixed is small, otherwise this would get Very Difficult Indeed.

Trope-a-Day: Colony Drop

Colony Drop: One of the standard military tactics for softening up a planet, but also one that is horribly, horribly illegal (in the Ley Accords/Laws and Customs of War sense of Do This And We Kill You) if done with large rocks, or lots of rocks, on any world with an ecosystem.  Once again, ecosystems are expensive.

(This doesn’t stop a lot of people from using it in the Mutually Assured Destruction sense with relativistic k-kill vehicles, on the fairly reasonable grounds that the already dead don’t have to worry about interstellar law.)

D is for Digisapience

D is for Digisapience
a thinking machine.
A mind forged from metal
with light-woven dreams.

E is for Exoself
your thoughts in the air.
Working your will
even while you’re not there.

F is for Forking
making many from one.
On days when we’re busy
it helps get things done.

Money in Politics

AMERI/EÄVALLE – The sextennial auction to determine the new Aurarch of Eävalle concluded today, with the obligators of the Ministry of the Nations formally accepting the 1.33 trillion Eävalle méril (17.3 trillion esteyn) bid of Larquen Archés-ith-Aic for the position.  A plutarch, former CFO of Eävalle Estate Development, and a lifelong adherent of the Alliance for Balance, Citizen-Shareholder Archés-ith-Aic promises “a continuation of sound administration in accordance with the long-standing principles of Alphasian libertist governance”.

As is customary, the other five candidates bidding in the auction will be contributing the full sum of their losing bids, some 4.85 trillion méril (58.2 trillion esteyn) in total, to the Eävalle public treasury.

– from the Objective Eye newswire

Trope-a-Day: The Laws and Customs of War

The Laws and Customs of War: There are several sets of these, locally; the Empire has its Imperial Rules of War, and so forth, but the ones people mean in the general case are those contained in the Ley Accords, which might be considered the Associated Worlds’ closest approach to something like the Geneva Conventions.

They come in effectively two parts: Chapter I, and Chapters II-XVI.  The former covers “Instruments of Regrettable Necessity”, and nobody screws around with Chapter I, because what it means are the big ones – star-killers, planet-killers, ecocidal weapons, uncontrolled self-replicators, persistent information or memetic weapons, berserker probes, that sort of thing.  Weapons prone to affect people well beyond the battlefield, replicate and spread out of control, stay virulent through deep time, or destroy garden worlds and their information-rich ecosystems.  Start deploying these, and the penalty clause attached is “every other signatory will drop everything to wipe out your polity – albeit not necessarily its population – right now”.

Of course, what we consider weapons of mass destruction are fair game, and you can throw around all the tactical nukes, non-persistent chemical and bioweapons, incendiaries, non-persistent info- and memetic weapons and nanoweapons you can carry with merry abandon.

Chapters II-XVI are the Conventions of Civilized Warfare, which cover the usual things – no indiscriminate planet bombardment without inviting a surrender first, no orbital bombardment or demonstration strikes on civilian areas without a military purpose, no using those permitted weapons of mass destruction near civilian areas without a military purpose, no using infoweapons that would corrupt noetic backups (causing Final Death), no mistreating of prisoners (including various kinds of mind-probe as well as torture and the usual indignities), no terrorism, hostage-taking or asymmetric attacks on civilians, using civilians as shields is forbidden, uniforms to be worn, honorable surrenders are to be accepted, quarter to be given, private property to be respected (no foraging or pillaging of civilian volumes), and a baseline standard for treatment of POWs (including communication of capture and subsequent communication with home via the Accord) and civilians in occupied areas, and so forth.

Notable differences from our laws of war include:

  • There is no requirement for a declaration of war; attacking is sufficient.  Nor do they forbid an aggressive war, as long as the Conventions of Civilized Warfare are followed.
  • Parole is permitted.  (In some cases, this has led to odd wars in which taking the enemy prisoner was prioritized over killing the enemy, because a parolee could not return to the war, whereas a reinstantiation of a dead soldier could be back at the front very quickly.)
  • Spies, assassins, and saboteurs attacking governmental, military, or militarily useful targets are considered legitimate tools of warfare and are protected by the Accords.  The fuzziness between some sabotage and terrorism has, of course, given space-lawyers a peck of trouble in the past.
  • Mercenaries and privateers are also considered lawful combatants; mercenaries in particular are permitted to exercise their parole option almost immediately as long as they do not return to either side of the war in question.
  • Medical personnel are protected by the Accords and may not be attacked (but see Combat Medic); but chaplains are not, which may have something to do with the Empire’s two war gods and their enthusiastic templars.  Or the kaeth.  Or… well, several others.
  • No types of weapons are specifically forbidden other than those covered in Chapter I and the situational limits on WMD use in the Conventions, i.e, fire, poison, blinding lasers, explosive shells, bioweapons, devouring nanoswarms… all allowed.  As they say, war’s not supposed to be humane, dead is dead, and no-one’s doing anyone any favors by prolonging it by fighting with one hand tied behind their back.
  • Prisoners may not be compelled to labor, even in non-military roles (the Empire hates slavery, and insisted on this clause), although they may be asked to volunteer to do so.

Also, while the Ley Accords are, like the Geneva Conventions, a reciprocal treaty – well, technically, Chapters II-XVI are a reciprocal treaty; Chapter I is applied ecumenically – this is done much more in practice with the Ley Accords.  Signatories are under no obligation to respect the Accords vis-à-vis non-signatories who don’t respect them (many do, though, at least until the other party openly defects); and if it can be demonstrated that a signatory is not respecting them (by a tribunal appointed by three nations including the offended-against party), penalties can vary from reparations and individual-level trials for war crimes to the execution of the complete political authority and military forces, in kind as well as in personnel, responsible for the breach of the Conventions.  All signatories are required to provide such military forces as are necessary to enforce such penalties.

Trope-a-Day: Combat Medic

Combat Medic: Played straight.  While in theory, under the Ley Accords and the Imperial Rules of War, medical personnel are hands-off noncombatants, in practice, the majority of warfare is against non-signatories to the Accords, or irregular forces (including pirates, terrorists, and other scum) who just don’t care about them.  Thus, combat medics once again become a damn good idea, and on the rare occasions when you’re fighting someone who is actually playing by the rules, you can dismount the modular weapons and respray their Power Armor in a nice shade of noncombatant colors.

Just In Case

“Here’s what I need redacted: I made arrangements, yesterday, to have a copy of my mind-state archived at Site Hácek.  I need to not remember doing that, and I need to not remember needing to not remember doing that.  My husband and I staged an argument last night; use that as my reason to have come here and had redactions done.  Also, I need a subconscious compulsion implanted to make an extranet search for vacuum-fluffed meringue recipes at least once a week from now on.  And all of that, as I said, under guaranteed-amnesic protocols so there’s neither record nor memory of me doing it.  Clear?”

– forgotten in a mnemonic therapist’s

Trope-a-Day: Final Death/Deader than Dead

Final Death/Deader than Dead: Very much to be avoided.

Fortunately, rather hard to inflict.  Sure, you can kill the body (corpicide) readily enough, with enough bullets or other regular weapons – get both hearts, or shred the brain, or pulverize the whole thing.  But then the fun begins.  First you need to get the vector stack where the immediate backup of their mind-state is stored (and hope that it didn’t come with an emergency bug-out transmitter, or it’s already too late).  In a biological body, it’s somewhere near the base of the brain, but close enough to the surface to pull quickly in an emergency – in humanoids, the back of the neck is usual.  Cut below it and yank.  Then you’ve got to destroy that, which may itself require some exotic methods, since they’re designed to survive very large explosions up close, but is still possible.

So far, though, all you’ve done is given them some amnesia (unless they’re a Fusion or a synched cikrieth set of full-fidelity forks, in which case you need to go hunt down all their other instances, too.  Actually, you probably want to go assassinate their utility forks anyway, on general principle), because they have a backup.  In the absence of bug-out devices, it’s probably a few hours, maybe a day or two old, but at some point – quite likely right now, if they were on-line when you killed them – their incarnation insurer is going to stick said backup in a new body, and then they’ll be alive again.

So you have to crack their incarnation insurer’s security, physically or virtually, to destroy the backup copy of their mind-state.  Actually, you’re going to have to do that quite a lot, since given the business that they’re in, incarnation insurers generally keep at least triple-triple redundant copies of people’s backups, including keeping older copies, and do so in physically isolated – scattered across multiple star systems – and heavily network-secured locations just to be sure.

But if you can manage that trick, you’re good.  As long as they don’t have any backup backup copies stored in data havens, entrusted to friends, secured in hidden Oort bunkers on long-term proceed-unless-canceled wake-and-restore programs…

(And that’s even before we get to those strange folks who open-source themselves.)

Yes, permadeath is hard to arrange.

(This, incidentally, is another reason why the penalty for cognicide is so high – given all of this, in most cases it’s impossible to do without serious forward planning and therefore lots and lots of cold-blooded premeditation.)

The Seal of Quality


Iníön Adae-ith-Alleia, of Gles Iselyain


The Five Fires Bakery, of Gles Iselyain


the Edifacient Sodality of Bakers and Pastrywrights


The Use of Materials of Low and Insufficient Quality
The Use of Equipment in Unfitting Condition
Careless Praxis Likely to Create Flaws and Introduce Contaminants




721 Calenmot 12


Lorcis Adae-ith-Adae
Teäle Selequelios-ith-Idolos
Eyes of the Sodality


Avanthe Peressin-ith-Peressin
Auditors of Operational Excellence

Isath Leiraval-ith-Lindríä
Board of Merchane Propriety

Trope-a-Day: Cold Sleep Cold Future

Cold Sleep Cold Future: Averted.  The thing about widespread immortality is that even the first-generation cryonauts, the people frozen en masse after fatal accidents from about, oh, a week or two after someone figured out this whole thing might be possible, walked out of the revival vat and into the embrace of old friends.  Future-shocked as hell, I grant you, but not exactly “cold future”.

The Iron Concord

Galek –

Your sept-boss says that you’re tired of fighting in other people’s companies and want to start your own, and told me to give you some advice.  About damn time.  Anyway, here’s what you need to know – and these aren’t rules, so don’t think they’re written down anywhere.  The Iron Concord isn’t a set of official rules you can game, it’s a set of unofficial rules that can get a real army chasing you if you come too close to the edges, so be warned.

If you want to do merc work anywhere in the Worlds as a “bonded” mercenary, most polities you can base in want you to have a merc license, under some name or other, which costs money and usually comes with some pain-in-the-kveth rules and inspections and other crap.  The Empire doesn’t, it just treats you like any other business, but if you want to be considered bonded, you’ve got to buy insurance from some outfit, and they’ll want to inspect you.  You can avoid the whole mess if you base out of somewhere like the Rim Free Zone without hiring a bond-board or, Venirek burn you, Nepscia, but then you’re an unbonded merc, and you don’t get any of the little courtesies they save for real mercs, like not shooting you out of hand.  Even if they don’t do that, if you’re bonded, you can get paroled and move along if you’ve got a repatriation ticket, but they don’t trust unbondeds to play by the rules.

And speaking of those, don’t ever forget that war has rules, even for mercs.  If you even think about breaking the Ley Accords where anyone can see – and someone can always see – they will hunt you down and kill you.  And if you get any psych cases on board, I suggest you take ’em somewhere discreet and introduce ’em to a bullet before they get someone looking to do it to you. Being in the killing business is no good reason to go around giving people excuses to take it personally.

Most of your employers will have their own rules they want you to fight by – some of them are fair enough, others’ll get you killed.  That’s up to you, and you can usually get away with playing fast and loose with those without anything worse than losing your contract, but read ’em carefully before you start, ‘kay?  Or get a good broker.

Ultimate Argument’s the big rakhan in that business.  You can work for ’em or not – if you do, you’ll never be short of business, mind, they’ve got contracts and to spare, but some potential employers don’t like ’em much.  Too corporate for their taste, and an Imperial starcorp to boot.  Just don’t try playing both sides of the field – the Concord is not fond of mercs who try and hide their ownership or their contract history, and while most won’t work for an employer who turns on his mercs, if you lie about that, all bets are off.  Too much bad history for it to be otherwise.

Anyway, there’s plenty of work around; everyone hires mercs.  Governments, corporations, colonies, shipping lines, interest branches, they all hire, and they’re all pretty safe, and play by the rules.  Then there’s privateering, which can be a good way to make money if you can get a letter of marque from a respectable polity.  (Be careful if you can only get one from one of the more roguish nations – some navies see those as little more than a confession to piracy – and don’t bother with one from any of the people who’ll sell you one in the Free Zone.  They’re just more of the kveth-lakh slash-traders peddle to gullible outies.)  Rebellions are a bit more risky, but they’re not so bad by the time they’ve graduated to actual civil wars.

Filibusters too, sometimes, but rebellions, terrorists, black cartels – they’re all hiring, but they don’t play by the rules, they want you not to play by the rules, and so the people fighting them don’t either.  However well it pays — and if they don’t kill you to save money — dead sophs can’t live to spend, and it’s hard to enjoy it on the run, too.  Leave that for the unbondeds.

Here’s the top two rules.  First, stay bought.  No-one expects you to die for hire, but they do expect you to fight for the contract that brought you.  Break it, however hard the fight or however good the money, and no-one’ll hire you again.  Worse, some’ll try to kill you just on general principle.  Everyone hates a defaulter.

Even more importantly, remember you’re paid to make war.  Don’t ever try making it without being paid, or worse, try to get paid for not making it.  The one unbreakable rule of the Concord is that we fight for money, not for loot, not for conquest, and not for extortion.  We have a place in the galaxy because our employers find us useful.  Mercs who turn pirate, conqueror, or blackmailer stop being useful, and shortly afterwards, stop being.

Don’t get anything shot off you’ll miss, boy.  Your mother still has that kalsheklik flame cannon on her wall, and I like my face.

– mor-Lissek Wrokk