Trope-a-Day: Police Brutality

Police Brutality: Usually averted, day to day, as the Watch Constabulary is very well trained, highly disciplined, and – as the instrument of force that is legally permitted to apply it, law for the enforcement of – rigorously monitored and audited to make sure that it’s doing it properly.  Especially where the rights of the accused-and-therefore-not-yet-determined-to-be-guilty are concerned.

Played straight in a lethal, although not any other, sense inasmuch as the Empire, in general, maintains a very broad right of self- and other- and property defense where the regular citizen-shareholders are concerned – which is to say, there isn’t a reasonable force doctrine and you can shoot at criminals to protect any of those – and while the police are somewhat more restricted in that they’re obliged to try and arrest you, they aren’t actually any more restricted than regular citizen-shareholders where preventing crimes in progress are concerned if you are unwilling to be arrested.  Criminals caught by the Constabulary in the commission of a crime are advised to surrender immediately, for this reason.

Subverted where riots, occupations, and suchlike are concerned, inasmuch as Imperial law classifies these sorts of things as “insurrection”, and while the police won’t be brutal, that’s because insurrection is a military matter – and the situation will therefore be handled by people for whom “arrest” is outside their job description.

Trope-a-Day: Poke in the Third Eye

(While I’m posting – I’m going to be on holiday for the coming week or so, and specifically in transit for most of tomorrow, so posting here will be somewhat irregular. There will be things posted over the next week, for certain – never did quite figure out that “time off” thing – but expect the usual schedule to be scrambled all to heck and back.

See y’all later!)

Poke in the Third Eye: Given how telepathy works (i.e., WiFi), a simple set of radio jamming equipment set to the appropriate frequencies will do just fine.

Colder Than Space




Proceed (+/-)? +


[SSP image eluded from file]

ICE BLUESHIFT agents are specially developed units of the Fifth Directorate intended for deployment under exigent circumstances requiring extremal action.

An ICE BLUESHIFT agent is the product of extensive, specialized ethical training and testing, coupled with the focused pseudosociopathy induced by a [REDACTED] “SubHe” implant. The function of this implant is to disable the sympathetic faculties of the mind, while permitting the empathetic faculties to operate nominally. This strips the unit of all default-valued social restraints or ascriptions of value to other entities or entity-sets (although permitting the retention of specifically instanced ascriptions). This does not, however, impair the capacity for social operations. An enabled ICE BLUESHIFT agent remains fully capable of interpreting and reading social cues and performing associated social functions.

Thus, while retaining full sophont-interactive capability and the capacity for loyalty and other targeted attachments, an ICE BLUESHIFT agent is capable of whatever extremal actions are required for the completion of their assigned mission.

(It should be noted that, unlike crude forms of memetic pseudosociopathy used by various other agencies (see: REFULGENT LIAR; CINNAMON PONIARD; ICEBERG QUEEN), an ICE BLUESHIFT agent is not susceptible to malicious/sadistic deviance. To derive satisfaction from such requires an operative sympathetic faculty.)

A secondary function of the implants of ICE BLUESHIFT agents is automated psychedesign, performing self-justification narrative editing at the point at which the agent is disabled. This prevents mental stress and consequent breakdown of the agents upon the restoration of their sympathetic faculties.

The deployment of ICE BLUESHIFT agents requires the explicit authorization of the Imperial Security Executive.


Communicating ANY PART of this NTK-A document to ANY SOPHONT other than those with preexisting ISE internal systems clearance, INCLUDING ITS EXISTENCE, is considered an alpha-level security breach and will be met with the most severe sanctions available, up to and including permanent erasure.

Proceed (+/-)?

Trope-a-Day: Poisoned Weapons

Poisoned Weapons: See Combat Pragmatist – the eldrae would, once again, like to point out that being honorable should not correlate strongly with being an idiot.  Nor should being an idealist mean that you are obliged to give up all the efficacious advantages.  As the book says: if you have to fight, you’re fighting for something worth fighting for; and serving that purpose well means not conceding the advantage and using all the means you have available to win.

Ballistic Brew

Ballistic Brewery, ICC to Hanth & Mallon Restaurants (Pádíäz System), ICC, greetings.

Valmiríän Oricalcios,

Thank you for your interest in our selection of fine beers for the discerning spacer palate.

To be sure that we can satisfy your requirements, let me explain to you how the Ballistic Beer process works. The initial stages of brewing are carried out in our own facilities, in your case at Gallítra Station in the Pádíäz-Solar L4 point. We take grain from the skyfarms surrounding our station, malt, kiln, mash, and sparge it. We then copper and boil the resulting wort with the unique combinations of hops, sugars, and herbs that give each of our beers their unique flavor.

When we receive your order, the selected wort is transferred to one of our Puncheon-class fermenter-tankers, along with the appropriate yeast culture, and the Puncheon is dispatched to you. The transfer orbit of the Puncheon is carefully computed to allow for the necessary weeks or months of fermentation and conditioning under thrust gravity, in order to reach you at the moment of peak flavor. Once the beer is finally racked, wood conditioning or other late-stage refinements can be imparted in the Puncheon’s final tank.

When the Puncheon reaches your station, you offload the beer by fluid transfer, either directly into your own cask tanks or for local bottling or kegging (facilities and resale licenses for either of these can be leased from us). The yeast residue remaining in the fermenter can be returned to us with the Puncheon, or retained for local use for a nominal fee. We request that you refuel the Puncheon for its return voyage as part of your payment schedule.

(Note: All of our beers are naturally carbonic. As such, you should be prepared to accept the listed associated CO2 release into your local life-support capacity. We also recommend that they be served only in non-microgravity areas and that drinkers remain in these areas for the stated effervescence interval to prevent discomfort.)

Available for immediate shipment, in the Pádíäz System, are our Callaneth’s Finest, Starlight Irdesh, Miról Lambic, Three-Axis Pale Ale, Red Rocket Red, Singularity Stout, and Oúrghaz’s Heavy, each available in 25-barrel, 50-barrel, 100-barrel, and 300-barrel shipments. We will, of course, be happy to produce any of our other beers for you given sufficient lead time.

I have enclosed for your further information more details of our beers, along with full details of technical requirements and other necessities, and payment information for a variety of order sizes and schedules.

On behalf of all of us here at the Ballistic Brewery, we hope to be able to offer you a drink soon!

Talan Kellis, Brewmaster’s Second,

for and on behalf of

Ballistic Brewery, ICC

Trope-a-Day: Point Defenseless

Point Defenseless: Utterly averted.  The automated point-defense systems – usually plasma lasers or other Energy Weapons, for their speed and reaction time, gridded across the hull – will rip to pieces just about anything that gets within their range in an colorful orgy of photonic destruction, unless it’s extremely fast, capable of turning on a dime, and very smart about doing both.  (This is another reason why meat-piloted Space Fighters don’t exist, since AKVs can at least try to be competitive in this close-combat environment.)  Even then, defeating them is a matter of wearing them down (until heat buildup, primarily, lessens their efficacy) and swamping them with sheer volume of incoming fire.

Starship Scuffles: Location, Location, Location…

So, while it now seems to have disappeared from the Internet, my article on Non-Standard Starship Scuffles appears to have come in for some little criticism:

First, for having FTL in it; and

Second, for assuming that space battles will take place in open space, the commenter apparently not seeing any reason why they would ever take place except right next to whatever strategic nexus point they’re fighting over.

To a degree, on both points, I’m inclined to question the reading that gave rise to those comments because on the first, well, while there is mention of FTL communications with observation platforms to improve one’s longscan for tactical advantage, the ships themselves don’t – can’t – move at FTL speeds, and indeed, the entire rest of the article would be exactly the same if there were no such thing as a tangle channel.

On the latter, though, I first note this:

Reaching the inner engagement envelope implies either that one party is attacking or defending a specific fixed installation (such as a planetary orbit, drift-habitat, or stargate), or that both parties have chosen engagement. It is relatively rare for such battles to take place in open space otherwise, since in the absence of clear acceleration superiority, it is usually easy for the weaker party to disengage before entering their opponent’s inner engagement envelope. The only way to guarantee that an opponent will stand and fight is to attack a strategic nexus that they must retain control over.

…but let’s ignore that for a moment. Here’s why starship battles, whenever possible, are conducted in open space despite this, and why the inconclusive engagement-avoidance-and-retreat is also more common than the aforementioned at-nexus-point battle.

Because in space, a weapon once fired continues on until it hits something. Hopefully that’s its target. If it isn’t its target. hopefully it’s a clean-up fluffship, or something big and ugly enough not to care (like the star), or some Oort cloud object no-one cares about.

But the bigger the solid angle subtended by an object from the point of view of the fighting starships, obviously, the greater the chance that it’s going to be shot right in the face by misses, not to mention ricochets and debris. And the closer you are to an object, the greater the solid angle it subtends, by the inexorable laws of geometry.

This is why the defender has a strong preference for going out to meet the attacker, because letting what you are trying to defend get all shot up as a side effect of the process of defending it generally makes defending it in the first place somewhat moot.

This is also why many attackers have a preference for luring the defender out to meet them: because firstly, Omnicidal Maniacs aside, you may want to capture some of those defensible assets reasonably intact and avoid any unnecessary effusion of blood; and secondly, because being casual about smacking relatively fragile civilian habitats and inhabited planets in the backdrop with starship-class weapons is the sort of thing that leads to bad press, unwanted reputations, and awkward interviews in front of war crimes tribunals.

All of which is to say: naval strategists have a term for admirals who plan their defensive engagements at point-blank range rather than maintaining a healthy strategic depth. That term is idiot.