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):

7. THE EXECUTOR
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.

8. THE LOVERS
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.

9. LIBERTY
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.

10. THE SENTINEL
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.

11. THE CLANK
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.

12. THE LIBRARIAN
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