Trope-a-Day: Mechanical Monster

Mechanical Monster: Ooh, fun-sized mobile agony and death dispensers?

Well, of course. Given the eldraeic low population growth rate and taste for automation, the mechanical monster has been a staple of, ah, “military and security applications” ever since they could build a decent steam engine to power them and a tiny Stannic cogitator brain to run them.

Trope-a-Day: Mechanical Lifeforms

Mechanical Lifeforms: Arguably, digisapiences, although if we’re being picky, they’re information lifeforms that, from time to time, may choose to inhabit mechanical bodies.  Also certain worlds which have been given over to experiments in mechanical ecology, with basic mechanical elements handed a number of simple forms, limited intelligence, and the power to redesign (and randomly “mutate”, within parameters) themselves.  Also also, most classes of von Neumann probe, not least the linelayers that expand the wormhole network.

And if we’re allowing nanocyborgs like Alternity’s mechalus into this category, having merged with machines – heritable nanotechnology – at one point in their history, then by the same criterion, we need to include essentially every Imperial citizen-shareholder.

Crass Commercialism

As it’s nearing the end of the month, that time at which Patreon charges people’s cards, today I deem an excellent day to thank my Patreon patrons for their contributions to my writing time and funds. Thank you, gentlesophs, most kindly; your generosity is most appreciated.

Of course, while I’m doing that, it’s also a good time for me to suggest to everyone else that if you enjoyed it, tip the writer! Apart from ensuring a continuing flow of writings around here and letting you feel good about yourself, it also comes with perks, including but not limited to complimentary copies of e-book collections (one of which is upcoming), and the ability to ask background questions to be answered in the monthly FAQ!

(Speaking of which, eligible folks, if you haven’t got your question(s) in yet for January, now would be a good time!)

Master of the House

She slipped quietly into the busy room through the servitor passage, anonymous in the grey and dark crimson livery of the House staff, and placed the goblet of wine on the arm of the throne at the speaker’s right hand. Not waiting for acknowledgement, she turned to leave, and had made it halfway back to the door before realizing that the court had fallen silent – and that her feet no longer touched the ground.

“My lord genarch? Have –”

“A moment, if you will.” He raised the goblet to his lips, and sipped delicately at the contents.

“Bloodroot… and salts of viridine,” he said, amused. “Quite delightful.”

With a casual twist of the fingers, he spun her in the air to face him.

“Surprised? I am a Sargas, my dear. And I suppose as a guildswoman in good standing, you won’t be inclined to tell me who paid for this attempt?”

The mask of the servitor fell away, and the assassin, resigned, looked out of her eyes. “No, my lord genarch. We kill for the contract; we die for the contract.”

“No matter. Tell my cousin that next time he wishes to attempt a bid for the genarchy, he should not suggest using the 548. I forgive and applaud ambition in the family. I am somewhat less tolerant of wasting fine wine in the process.” Another idle gesture lowered her once more to the floor. “And now you may go. Depart in peace, Uldar of the Lakhasskúël.”

Epistolary Experiment (19/30)

EMERGENCY ALERT

FLASH FLASH FLASH FLASH FLASH

VNS Social Harmony destroyed in antimatter explosion, cause unknown. Admiral Tarqar and his command staff lost. All Guardian Fleet units go to Case Black. Message repeats. VNS Social Harmony destroyed in antimatter explosion, cause unknown. Admiral Tarqar and his command staff lost. All Guardian Fleet units go to Case Black.

– Republic broadcast, received at Tarqil (Crimson Expanse)


FROM: TASK FORCE C-117 (CS THANEBLADE)
TO: CINCCORE; FIELD FLEET COREWARD COMMAND (CS UNCONQUERABLE SELF)

*** ROUTINE
*** EYES ONLY FERVENT SPAN
*** SITREP

INFORMATIONAL:

1. SITUATION NOMINAL CONTINUES. NO HOSTILE CONTACTS.

2. AUTHENTICATION WILDCAT PAWN INCARNADINE ASH MAGMA SLIVER / 0x11EA49BD629A1132

VADM. EXPRY VALIN-ITH-VALADINE


“An announcement from the Admiralty today confirmed that the Republic fleet operating in the spinward regions of the Associated Worlds has been successfully pushed back behind the Borderline, with the exception of a small number of reinforced logistics bases in the territorial space of the People’s State of Bantral, currently under investment and reduction by League of Meridian, Nal Kalak, and Santry Technate forces.

“In light of this and the recent destruction by person or persons unknown of the Republic command base, VNS Social Harmony, this state of affairs is expected to continue for some time, and civilian affairs should soon return to status quo ante bellum in the affected areas. Discussions have already begun in the Conclave with regard to reconstruction and future security measures to be taken to prevent any recurrence of this invasion.

“However, all is not yet peaceful in the Worlds. The Nsang First Interactivity and the Quave Republic remain at heightened states of alert, the Qiraf Assembly Navy has been left in disarray, and the Imperial Capital Fleet is moving to address opportunistic Iltine aggression in the Saragós System. Further questions are being raised in the Conclave with regard to the gunnery accident that caused severe damage to the protected planet Ekritat (Uulder Shore).”

“And what of the Republic task force that has, for the moment, disappeared to coreward, accompanied by the Republic’s contribution to the Leviathan Consciousness picket fleet? While their intentions are as yet unknown, they seem unlikely to preserve the peace of the coreward quadrant. The Coreward Fleet has pickets and patrols out searching for them, but so far, with no success.”

“This is Wynerva Peressin, Telememe News, reporting from CS Unconquerable Self.”


FILISSIN, ÓDELN – A cease-fire and staged withdrawal of Republic forces from the system was announced early this morning in Filissin, provisional capital of the Ódeln Temporary Tyrancy. The announcement was received quietly by the local populace, wearied by the ongoing conflict between the forces occupying their world, and even by those making up the Temporary Tyrancy resistance forces. A more enthusiastic reception was given by the local Interstellar Interceders FK cadre, which has been allied with the resistance forces since the aftermath of the invasion.

Sources close to the Tyrancy leadership expressed wary relief at the news, while expressing concern over the fragility of the agreement and the damage done to their world. A particular cause of concern is the as-yet unresolved status of Republic sympathizers and kalatri native to Ódeln, who have been interned by the Tyrancy for their own protection. There is a great deal of anger on Ódeln today, and the future stability of the world will be a difficult balancing act to sustain.”

– the Accord Journal


FROM: TASK FORCE C-270 (CS MINAE)
TO: CINCCORE; FIELD FLEET COREWARD COMMAND (CS UNCONQUERABLE SELF)

*** WILDFIRE WILDFIRE WILDFIRE
*** EYES ONLY FERVENT SPAN

CONTACT REPORT:

1. THREE HOSTILE MILITARY VESSELS, PROFILED AS APPROXIMATE VONIENSAN REPUBLIC MINQAKA-CLASS FRIGATE, DETECTED ENTERING FIOR SYSTEM VIA RIMWARD GATE.

2. AS PER STANDING ORDERS, MAINTAINING RANGE AND MONITORING ACTIVITIES.

3. CURRENT ACTIVITY PROFILE SUGGESTS SYSTEM SCOUTING MISSION.

4. MORE FOLLOWS.

5. AUTHENTICATION: LIVER BOLD EAGLE FETCH PEACOCK BLUE / 0x9112EA88116E2164

CMDR. DAEL SALLIVANTAR

Trope-a-Day: Mechanical Horse

Mechanical Horse: While recognizing the general principle of the occasional usefulness of walkers, the Imperials generally prefer mechanical spiders, or at least hexapods.  Extra stability is always nice.

(They’re also not generally used for military applications [but see also Spider Tank].  The legs, and the joints in particular, are just too vulnerable.)

Trope-a-Day: Spider Tank

Spider Tank: The classic eight-legged war walker is mostly averted these days, thanks to vector control and modern power reactors letting you build hovering tanks, with rather lower maintenance requirements and fewer vulnerable joints, but it was quite the staple back in the day.  (Not to replace regular tanks, which had large maintenance and vulnerability advantages where the terrain suited them, I hasten to add, but to operate in places where regular tanks couldn’t go.)

And their smaller cousins are still around, as fighting drones, which usually come in swarms of little spidery drones, all fully equipped for wall-climbing, cable-spinning, and duct-navigating.