Faceless Eye: Citizen Oversight, the unified office of collecting publicly available data so that what government the Empire has can make sensible decisions (and which, incidentally, pays for itself by selling the statistical information, and collations, and indeed access to the raw feeds – for assorted uses, sousveillance included – it produces on the open market) uses as its logo, of course, the all-seeing eye.
There are many creation myths.
The Pancreator, Great Architect, crafting the universe out of nothingness. The worlds born in the passion of Elif and Lithrás at the beginning of time, or stolen from the jewel-box of Eternity, or forged from chaos by the Mad Gods of the Beginning, or captured in the war of the Six Elemental Dragons on Chaos and Night, or thought into being by our own Lady Creatrix, Aldéré, Divine Ignition.
Or, if you are of a more scientific turn of mind, emerging from the detonation of the primordial monad in its embedding non-spatial plenum.
And yet, none of these creators are emulated, or the focus of our beliefs, save only for the Divine Ignition – and even then, not for what is surely either the cause or consequence of her madness.
For the universe is broken from its beginnings, and we have no praise for a creator who would abandon – or worse, deliberately craft – such a flawed creation.
Listen closely, my cousins, and you will hear the long low moan of the universe dying, its life running out. The endless decay of energy states until the final nullity. The rot that takes our works and nature’s alike, if not tended. Disease wracks us, disaster dogs us. Trees rot, beasts die. Mountains crumble. Rivers turn to dust and ash. Cities and civilizations fall. And within, all the little entropies; destruction and chaotism, slaving and default, leeching and disharmony, every way in which we betray ourselves – things undone, things done poorly, brass for gold, ash-crystal for fireglass, the inner voice that tempts and excuses us when we permit ourselves to do less, to demand less, to be less…
Yes, we are immortal – we and a few others of the sophont species – but even we are doomed, if not by mere chance and imperfection then by the slow fall deathward in time, as the turning planets slow and stop, the stars cool and die, and all that is collapses into the cold void when all energy, all life, all meaning is at last depleted.
This we must know.
And yet, my cousins, the universe is also wondrous. In the despite of this fall into decay, it brings forth wonders in their hundreds and thousands. From the elegant structures of atomic nuclei to the graceful curve of the galactic arm; from the symmetry of the tiniest snowflake to the mightiest mountain range; the manifold symmetries of crystals; even the twin worlds of Isshára-Léstára.
And from all of this, life; warm oxygen-breathing life and cold methane-breathing life, and life breathing ammonia and sulphide and halogens, and hydrogen-breathing flyers swimming through gas giants; forests of blue and green and purple and midnight black under cool red suns; coral growing in lovely fractal patterns beneath the sea and forming hovering islands in hydrogen skies; worlds of earth and sky and water; life blooming blue, red, and purple beneath the ice of cold, outer worlds; dolphins leaping in the sun-struck sea, wolves racing the forest twilight, and the cry of the hunting wyvern in the mountains.
And us. Eldrae and galari and myneni; kaeth and esseli and selyéva and qucequql; and all the other sophont species. Emerged from the miracle of self-organizing matter, capable of looking back, and seeing all this, and turning to strive for more. Thinking and learning and building new wonders; cities, libraries, and roads spanning the world; carved mountains and gardened forests; the gleaming caverns of Azikhan and the coral-and-crystal domes of undersea cities; artificial islands and districts in orbit; and reaching beyond, first to Seléne’s silver dust and the cold red acridity of Talentar, and then to a hundred new worlds under new suns.
Bringing life, order, and complexity to places where they had never been; making minds blossom in metal brought to life, and raising the bandal and other species to full sophonce, spawning artificial ecologies, mechanical across the hot inner worlds and digital across star-spanning networks, and stranger ecologies of information in libraries, memeweaves, and markets.
Making the pieces of this broken universe into something worthy.
This is the nature of existence, my cousins: the dichotomy between the universe as it is, broken, decaying, doomed; and as it should be, as it can be made. The Darkness, and the Flame that burns against it. This is the choice we are given when we come to be:
To accede to the nature of things as they are; to accept the deathward slide, take what we can in the course of the plunge, and slink away from the ruins;
Or to strive ever to hold back the Darkness and stoke the Flame; to build the universe and ourselves ever closer to their proper perfection.
Anything that is broken can be repaired.
The Faceless: Lots of people who, for one reason or another, need to go around all day wearing environmental/vacuum suits for one reason or another. (Although facial-expression v-tags are quite common to reduce the effect of appearing to have no expression.)
Also, more than a few infomorphs who are not only faceless, but also bodiless. Although keeping communicating in this way, special circumstances aside, betrays either an appalling lack of grasp on biosapience psychology, or else just plain rudeness.
Eye Beams: Averted. There are very few sensors which can double as or co-locate with weapons systems, and even where those are in use, effectively disabling your sensors while you fire is, ah, not survival-oriented behavior.
The following is an extract from the Word of the Flame, the record of the series of dream-visions the seeress Merriéle experienced on the side of the mountain Tirias Calémon in the year 1,199 pre-Imperial. The contents of these visions formed the basis of the mainstream Eldraeic religion.
This particular excerpt are the fifteen verses of the book of Truths, which – while elaborated on in other works – form the core of her religion’s ethos. Essentially, these are the equivalent of the “Ten Commandments”, or other similar precepts.
In dreams I walked
The streets of the Twilight City
Under the sky lit with starlight,
Amid the buildings wrought from words,
And the towers woven of song.
There Elmiríën spoke to me
Patterner, Bringer of Order.
In the light of the Flame,
That burns at the Heart of Creation,
He revealed these truths to me.
Aldéré, Enkindler, Divine Ignition,
From base matter She made you,
But in your hearts set this Fire,
That you might know yourselves,
And your will might shape the world.
All that live partake of the Flame,
In the heights as in the depths.
The candle that glimmers in the darkness,
The suns that illuminate the world,
Each burns with its own light.
The Fire burns in the Heart,
Through choice its blaze is stoked.
Can a fire burn without fuel?
When one man takes another’s will;
By this the Flame is quenched.
This is the first Darkness.
Vile and accursed are they
Who would command another’s soul.
They shall know death beyond this world,
The Twilight City denied them.
As fire lives in a lantern,
The Flame dwells in the flesh.
Can light shine without its vessel?
To wound the vessel is to mar the light;
To destroy the vessel to extinguish it.
This is the second Darkness.
Those who bring the swords against another
Without right or provocation
Damn themselves in Saravóné’s sight
Her fires shall rise against them.
All the works of your hands:
Stone and metal, wood and water, fire and wind.
All that your will creates.
These things are forged in your Flame;
That which you create is yours.
This is the third Darkness.
Those who take what is another’s
Lay hands upon his soul.
The Flame they steal shall burn them;
No fires shall warm their hearts.
To give your word is to give your Flame.
Two fires commingled burn brighter still;
The hoarded flame can only dwindle.
A promise kept gives light forever;
The heart of the faithless is ashes and dust.
In the light of the Flame truth is revealed;
All things are seen as they are.
To deceive yourself chokes off your Flame.
To deceive another casts you both in Shadow.
Beware, lest Darkness find a dwelling there.
Light burns away the Darkness;
Shadow cannot stand against Flame.
Blessed are those who stand and do not falter
Against those who walk in Shadow.
Dúréníän accepts them as his own.
A man is judged by his creations alone:
All your works partake of your Flame;
By them shall its worth be known.
Above all, create yourself;
The well-tended Flame burns brightest.
Let all your works be wise,
For knowledge is the light of the Flame;
Let all your works be beautiful,
For beauty is its warmth;
Thus is your Heaven built.
– The Word of the Flame, Truths 1-15,
as dictated by the seeress Merriéle,
Chosen of Elmiríën and Namer of Eikones
Exposition Beam: What mnemonesis (see Neural Imprinting) is for, although it’s much more commonly used for imparting knowledge in the data and skillset sense than imprinting knowledge in the history/backstory sense. Nonetheless, it can be done, and as such, tends to be done, at least sometimes – despite the awkwardness that imprinting that sort of information this way tends to come with lots of context and emotional sidebands that you might not want, because copying historical memories this way (rather than distilling them down into a matrix of facts first) means that the recipient remembers them as if they happened to him.
(Abuses of this phenomenon are also well known, and fairly unsubtle. See Mind Rape.)
Neural Imprinting: Ubiquitous, although it’s called “gnostic overlay” and “mnemonesis”. And while it is the standard educational technique (starting prenatally, with the axiom feed), it’s only the first step. After all, being able to download huge chunks of skillset into a chap’s brain is easy; successful integration and synthesis to make said skills your own is hard, and then practice, practice, practice!
Of course, in terms of pure fact-memory, being able to recall just about anything known by remembering it certainly helps. Assuming you have the intelligence and intellectual skills to do anything with the data, which is the hard part there.
Mind Rape: See, in essence, And I Must Scream. The penalties are commensurate.
(Note, though, that this doesn’t apply to the standard means of extracting information from unwilling minds among technological sophisticates (Mind Probe); namely, pulling a copy of the mind-state vector – which is about as painful as getting an MRI, because that’s essentially what it is, which is to say, not at all – and then extracting any data you need from it by static analysis. Invasion of privacy, yes, but any side-effects are purely psychosomatic.
That this is possible, incidentally, tells you everything you need to know about the sadistic bastards who use perverted sophotech for regular-style torture-interrogations.)
These are some short vignettes “by” members of the various Eldraeic darëssef – not castes, not since very early pre-Imperial days, since one can move freely between them and, indeed, maintain a place in multiple darëssef simultaneously, but rather, groups of social-role archetypes with their own sets of philosophies, customs, protocols, and so forth – on what it means to be one of that darëssef, from their point of view.
These are the acquiescents (priests and other god-touched, which these days means people working directly for the weakly godlike superintelligence behind the curtain); the aesthants (artists of one kind or another); the executors (planners, managers, supervisors, and bureaucrats); the hearthmistresses (those who maintain, which covers people as disparate as housewives, doctors, farmers, sysadmins, and valets); the plutarchs (merchants, bankers, and businessmen); the runér (wielders of the Imperial Mandate; governors); the sentinels (the military, law enforcement, emergency response, paramedics, etc.).; and the technarchs (thinkers and builders).
(While there are also the serviles, the unskilled labor darëssef is obsolete in the modern era, and even before that was the case, no-one would have bothered to ask them anything, anyway.)
Acquiescent: The Bridges
We are those who stand between Light and Darkness, and bring fire to the Darkness on behalf of the Light.
We are those who stand at the gates of the Twilight City, and hold them open for the thunders of gods and the whispers of men.
We are those who learn the concepts of, not from, the eikones; who take it upon ourselves to embody, as best we can, the perfected ideals they are, that men may have a light to strive for, and the universe be set right, in the despite of the great Flaw, the Darkness-behind-Darkness, which is entropy.
Thus we are named acquiescent, for alone among our kind, our valxíjir is not an expression of self, but of that concept which we serve and reify.
– Alwyn Muetry of Elmiríën,
Philosopher-Priestess of the Fane of Orderly Blossoming
Aesthant: Beauty Is Truth
The soul of the Empire is in our keeping.
For beauty is our calling, and beauty is the language of the soul. Beauty inspires, uplifts, and enlightens. It comforts the sore at heart, and gives ease to the weary. As the word of Lanáraé proclaims, beauty, like love, calls the divine fire, the lincál, down to earth. With it, we dwell in a civilization of enlightened souls; without it, in mere hovels of scurrying beasts.
And so we must shape all things accordingly. The pure artists among us strive with song and sculpture, with book and game, with edifice and performance, to show the world what it could be. Others work elsewhere, with technarchs and plutarchs to make elegance walk alongside functionality; with runér and hearthmistresses to build shining cities where no shadows fall; even with sentinels, as they strive to preserve and restore beauty in the wake of ruin. So shall we work, until all the world reflects this harmony, and neither ugliness nor darkness lies in wait to cast gloom upon the heart and shadow the soul of its beholders.
Thus is our Heaven built.
– Kynar Cendriane,
Lyceum of the Frozen Flame
Executor: The Middlemen
It’s all in our name: we execute. All our counterparts have grand plans. The aesthants create, the technarchs invent, the plutarchs deal, the runér govern – and we take care of the details. We run the branches and the Initiatives day to day. We make the schedules, and lay out the critical paths, and keep the books, and write the contracts. We supervise and coordinate, evaluate and analyze, mediate and facilitate. We remove the obstacles and provide the necessities to allow those we work with to focus on their intent alone. We enable every great work to be done.
Ours are lives of estxíjir, the outward focus, but no less pleasing to us. The machine of the world cannot run itself. It turns upon a million, million cogs, and of all of them, we are the greatest. Do you imagine there is no satisfaction to be found in that?
– Medora Allatrian-ith-Alclair,
certified commercial obligator
Hearthmistress: The Answer to Decay
Slice by slice, Entropy eats the world. That is the truth of the Flaw.
We fight it most directly. That is the truth of the hearthmistress.
All the daressëf fight it in their own way, it is true. The aesthants set beauty against it; the plutarchs challenge it with wealth; the technarchs strive with truth and tools; and the sentinels turn it against itself. But in a million million tiny drops, in dirt and rust and error, in disease and decay and disorder, in rot and ruin, the Flaw undermines the grandest of plans and the greatest of dreams.
To that, we are the answer. We maintain. We keep the homes and tend the forests; we heal the sick and console the reft; we oil the machines and operate the ‘weaves; we cleanse the blight and repair the faults; we see that lights shine and water flows, that food reaches the table and garbage the fires; and in all ways uphold the necessities that empower our fellows to do their work.
To all these matters, we attend, for the mightiest of machines turns upon its smallest gears. Thus, we are the bearers of the world, and to all that it requires, we must and shall be sufficient.
– Irys Vidumarvis,
First Chatelaine of the Seat of Storms
Plutarch: Stokers of the Engine
It is widely said that wealth is energy. I can’t begin to count the metaphors that hinge on that analogy. “Lifeblood of the Empire.” “Any coin that burns.” And insofar as all our economies are indeed powered by its flow, they aren’t all that far off the mark. But wealth is a superior principle in many ways. Wealth never decays. No-one ever heard of “waste wealth”. It circulates, turns a thousand cogs as it passes, and is never diminished. Wealth has no thermodynamic law of decay. Better yet, it multiplies.
Look down there at the Exchange. People come here to trade from all over the Worlds, from Eö to K!rrr!t!llr, and a good half of them are damn fools who think they’re playing a zero-sum game of extracting wealth from greater fools, as if gambling were all we do. They’ll file trades for a thousand years and never know what it is to be a plutarch…
We make wealth. Look around you. Aesthants dream, technarchs invent, and the other darëssef play their parts – and without us, their works would be futile. We move their goods and supply their needs with our markets – and with every trade, wealth grows. We concentrate a thousand thousand rivulets of capital into a river mighty enough to turn the machines of industry – and wealth grows faster. We find those sparks that have potential, and feed them with those markets and that capital until they blossom into roaring furnaces, radiating prosperity like heat around them. Behind all these dreams that you see made real stand the plutarchs who kindled them.
And always got 12%.
– Idris Cheraelar,
Vice President of Commercial Banking (Seranth),
Gilea & Company ICC
Runér: The Wielders of the Mandate
Our name is a word that is hard to translate into other languages. Most misgloss it as “noble”, seeing in us the closest thing to their own rulers that the Empire has, but that would more accurately be a gloss for korásan, “forceful one”, those who governed in the ancient kingdoms, before the Empire. Before civilization.
It comes from the name of an eikone. Not from that of Nimithil, our special patron, but from Rúnel, eikone of harmony, etiquette, and civilization, and so a better way to translate it would be “harmonizer”, or “coordinator”, perhaps. Unlike the korásan of old, we are not set over people and wealth; we are set among them. And while – as the korásan claimed to be – we are charged to defend, to enable, and to preserve, neither our station nor our law empowers us to command the least of those we are set among, nor seize a single gram or cycle to meet our necessities.
We do not enforce. We do not dictate. The Right of Domain declares every man sovereign over him and his, and we – first among all others, more than any others – must respect that.
While the public infrastructure falls within our dominate, words are our best tools. With eloquence and persuasion, with promise and contract and oath, with example and suggestion and well-timed whispers in the right ears, we move the world.
But first, we follow where it leads.
– Olbria Amanyr,
cisatar of Iniscail
Sentinel: Those Who Defend
Despite our towering Galactic reputation as armed-to-the-teeth, prickly maniacs, we’re really a dreadfully soft people.
We live in Utopia. We have no war, no crime. No disease, barely any injury, and certainly no death that can’t be easily reversed. Thanks to the autofac, we’ve never known poverty, and we live on worlds where no-one for generations ever has. In societies where, by the Contract and the Code and the tireless efforts of archai like Unification, we can always trust, people always care, and happy endings always happen for good people, which is to say, everyone. We go through our lives without experiencing more than the briefest moments of the mildest pain, or even inconvenience, and few but the eldest of us remember the true taste of suffering, or injustice, or fear, or loss.
And we, the sentinels, are those who must keep it that way.
The hainadar watch the borders against attacks from without, from the savages and deimands and governments and death-worshippers tolerated by the outer world, and watch within them for the madness-spawned malice of the rare, hidden Defaulter.
The seredar guard us from accident, from injury, and from plague.
The dulasefdar watch and guard against the Chaos, entropy and its spawn, chance disaster and decay, the malice of what the acquiescents would call the Universal Flaw.
And so we serve our Utopia by renouncing it. That the Empire may enjoy its serenity, we shape ourselves into the weapons it needs. With extensive training, of course, but much more with deliberate exposure to the truths of fire, and blood, and pain, and the never-forgettable knowledge of what the real default state of the world is when the Darkness isn’t watched, and guarded, and fought. And finally, with death, proving at the last that we can set aside immortality for duty.
Is it worth it? Look out there. Take an hour or two to watch what we guard. What price would not be?
– Minaj Ancalyx,
District-Captain of Lower Iselyain,
Technarch: For Science!
“Knowledge is its own justification,” so the Fellowship says.
Of course, knowledge has lots of other justifications. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is wisdom. Knowledge is civilization. If you like having fire and tamed lightning and the dance of atoms at your fingertips, thank a technarch. If you get an answer when you ask how, or why, or why not, thank a technarch. And since it is it’s finitely but most significantly preferable to reside in a comfortable habitat set among the stars, with the wisdom of millennia and the goods of a thousand worlds to hand, rather than eating in the woods, shitting in the woods, sleeping in the woods, living and dying in the same damn woods, thank a technarch for that, too.
But none of that is the spirit of technarchy. None of those are why we’re the explorers, the scientists, the tool-makers, the builders. Nice spin-offs to have, certainly, but leave those to the plutarchs and their executors to pick up.
There’s a shining truth out there. There are answers to every question, the plans for this magnificent machine-organism-ecology that is the universe and everything – and everyone! – within it; how every cog turns upon every other, and how to bend them to your will – reality, to be commanded, must be understood – to bring whatever you can conceive of into existence. And we have to have those answers. We have to know. We have to understand. We cannot abide ignorance of our own mechanisms. That’s what makes a technarch, and that’s why we do what we do and are what we are.
Hand me that iridyne key, would you? No, the left-handed one…
– Cirys Lochran,
Union of Circumstellar Artifice
 This is only a feminine form because “hearthmaster” is somewhat dysphonious and suggests the wrong ideas to the listening Earthling. They come in all genders, indistinctively.
 While not translating well into English, a rough approximation of the meaning would be “uniqueness/excellence/will to power/forcible impression of self onto the universe”.
Mind Probe: Available in a couple of forms; the alethiometer, a highly sophisticated lie detector which works by dynamic mind-state analysis, and the more advanced form, which is obtaining a static copy of the mind-state (via Brain Uploading, which fortunately is possible non-destructively these days) and dissecting it for whatever information you need. Since this latter is being done on a separate non-running copy of the target’s mind, it has the advantage (for them) of not causing hallucinations, pain, or brain damage, but also the disadvantage (for them) of being entirely irresistible by anything they can do.
Explosive Overclocking: Played straight with nanotech devices, including both assemblers and nanocomputers (which make up a large number of the processors out there). One of the chief limitations on nanotech devices is the problem of heat dissipation from such tiny machines, and the limitations on the ways there are to work around it, like reversible computing.
But this being the case, you can sometimes get more temporary performance out of your nanostuff by disabling the thermal protection limiter or skip-cycling some of the thermal waits, and other such dubious techniques – assuming that the extra heat is survivable (don’t try this trick with in-body nano), and that it doesn’t explode – because, yes, this heat buildup is often quite literally explosive – before you get what you want out of it.
In any case, unless it saved an awfully significant amount of stuff or people, expect people to call you an idiot afterwards. Maybe even if it did.
But in general, things have documented never-exceed limits for a reason, and since the Imperials are in the habit of trusting people not to be idiots, the never-exceed limits are the real never-exceed limits. As we said under Instant Cooldown, stay under the red line.
(Especially, I hasten to add, if you’re using any of those nifty brain modifications, neural implants, or autonomic-systems-under-conscious-control features to overclock your body. Yes, maxing out the adrenal ramp on a standard baseline can let you throw a car. It will also, at the same time, let you break a couple of bones and tear gods only know how many muscle fibers and ligaments doing it. So unless it’s an emergency, pay attention to what the warning systems are saying, people.)
((While I personally don’t think it should, the highly specific way in which one can bugger the circuitry of an off-the-shelf powercell, causing the superconducting loops to stop superconducting and the whole thing therefore to turn into a small but effective grenade, may also count. Seeing as the equivalent from the Vorkosigan ‘verse is listed, belike.))
Instant Cooldown: No, no, no. Thermodynamics does not work that way, and even with thermal superconductors, neutrino pumps, and black holes, thermodynamics still doesn’t work that way. Stay out of the red zone.
(Also, bearing in mind the proclivities of the manufacturers of much of this equipment, the red line on the dial is where it will explode, not 10% before where it will explode on the assumption that many of the operators will be gung-ho idiots. Yes, there’s a safety margin to cover manufacturing variances, and suchlike. There is not one to protect you from yourself, as lying to you for your own good is not in their paradigm, belike.)
Explosive Instrumentation: Oh, good grief, no. All control panels, computer equipment, etc., is low power circuitry separated by multiple isolators, relays, and other such devices from anything high power, and amply supplied with surge suppressors, circuit breakers, hard fuses, and so forth. Even if they’re the ones in the engineering section, rather than on The Bridge.
Equipment is expensive. The people who use (or in the case of infomorphs, live in) the equipment are even more expensive. Any engineer who forgets this and even begins to think of contemplating running high-power circuitry directly through the controls would be immediately fired, disbarred, sued, and quite possibly shot.
Explosions In Space: Are bright, spherical (definitely lacking planar shockwaves), non-persistent (no flames, because no air), and move along the trajectory of whatever just exploded. Also, silent – any explosion you hear in space has been simulated for you by your ship’s user interface (see: Space Is Noisy).
Space is Noisy: Averted, naturally – there’s no air in space, ergo no sound; the only way to communicate out there without some sort of communication system is writing, mime or pressing-together of helmets, etc., etc.
(It’s worth noting, of course, that this doesn’t apply inside starships, because all that machinery makes noise, and with no large spaces to dissipate in, it could get very loud and echo-y. The cork bricks in the machinery spaces and the thick shag-pile carpeting really are quite essential components, hearing-protection-wise.)
Somewhat subverted in well-designed ships, at least on the bridge, CIC, and other command spaces, in which auralization equipment is used to simulate stock sounds of passing ships, explosions, swirly thing alerts, etc., etc. as part of a good user interface design. (After all, we have at least five sensory channels, so in as data-rich an environment as that, it would be less than smart to not make use of them; such environments also, for example, use smell as a channel to convey gestalt damage-control information.) Of course, this equipment is subject to breakdown, doesn’t exist anywhere outside the command spaces (so a space battle will indeed be silent for those not in them, at least until your ship gets hit), and so on and so forth.
Expendable Clone: Not clones, no, both because clones are their own people, and because the number of suicide missions in which you’d be better off sending a cloned meathat rather than, say, instantiating your forked mind-state in the MB-77 “Glorious Song of Bloody Slaughter”-class heavy-duty war mechanical are very small indeed.
Expendable forks, on the other hand, yes – some may get to merge back with their original post-mission, if their vector stack can be recovered, but most of the rest just get to know that while they die, they will also live on. Curiously to some, that often seems to be enough, but then, the originals all live in a culture that believes in pattern identity theory – and, of course, know how important the mission is to, well, them. Or may be the kind of idiot-savant forks described back in Me’s A Crowd.
Decerebrate clones, or in more modern times, organ-level clones, on the other hand, are not people by virtue of being mindless, and may be freely expended for, say, organ harvesting. Or, indeed – among the more decadent set – steak.
“A war either is legitimate and justified by the Contract, by the Charter, by the codes of the sentinel, by the writ of Dúréníän, and under the imperishable eyes of Heaven, or it is not.”
“A legitimate war is one whose goals are in accordance with ethics and the Imperial purpose. Such wars may be fought for the defense of the Empire and its citizen-shareholders, for the defense of the Empire’s protectorates and allies, for the defense of Imperial trade, for the suppression of rebellion or the destruction of other forces inimical to civilization, and for the expansion of the Empire’s benign influence into uncivilized regions.”
“Only the anathematic may be destroyed entirely, root and branch, twig and leaf; for any war save seredhain alone, the Warmain’s aim must be peace, order, and liberty, not destruction. When a war is didactic, or surgical, the destruction of the supplies, soldiers, and fortifications of the enemy is permissible, but every effort should be made instead to seize them and carry them off, and the persons and goods uninvolved in the war must remain inviolate so far as it is possible.”
“When a war is of annexation, battle plans must be laid with the intent to capture one’s objectives and make them one’s own, rather than to destroy them. Cities, once occupied, become one’s own and should be treated as one’s home. People, once conquered, are to be shown the hospitality of one’s own cousins. The soldiers of an enemy deemed worthy of annexation are to be respected as comrades to be.”
“A mass that expands without adding to itself becomes brittle, and is easily shattered and swept aside. So also an Empire that expands by destruction, leaving ruin in its wake. Only by preservation and incorporation, in adding the wisdom and strength of one’s enemies to one’s own, can an Empire grow and remain strong. The Warmain who wins a thousand battles and leaves none alive betrays the Empire and weakens his legions. The Warmain whose enemies surrender before a battle is fought is worthy of the highest praise.”
“The legionary excellence cannot conduct a war that is not legitimate, whether as Warmain or as Legionary, in the battle or in the train, at vanguard or in the rear, and retain his excellence. Let the legions commanded to engage in such wars refuse their service to the Warmain who demands it. Let the legionaries ordered into such battles overthrow their commanders and bring them to judgment. Let all legionaries excellence remember that the first duty is to the Empire, and not to the war.”
– The Imperishable Axioms of the Legionary Excellence
Me’s A Crowd: This sort of thing works a lot better when all the copies know that they’re going to either merge back together, or sync, in the future, so that technically everyone has experienced everything and no-one got stuck with nothing but the chores. (Your copy, after all, is you, and is otherwise likely to suggest that you stay home and work while he goes out to play.)
Or, at the very least, if the copies you make for the tedious mundane work aren’t full forks but rather idiot-savant non-sophont copies based on trimmed forks grafted onto an AI logos-replacement, which therefore don’t chafe at being your minions by virtue of not being the free-willed you.
Or, of course, if you’re a Self-Fusion, but then technically there’s only one of you even if you are in many bodies, so that really doesn’t count.
Evolutionary Levels: Subverted, inasmuch as Eldrae anthalis and Eldrae kirsunar (which could be read as direct parallels to Homo superior and Homo summus) aren’t markers of more advanced evolution, but markers of increasing degrees of highly sophisticated engineering. And engineering for specific desirable traits, at that.