Super[pos|st]ition

Jinmi Quantakill (4972-5001): A massively-parallel killer native to the tholisarn homeworld, Dasarn (Secor Spire), in 5001 the sophont later known as Jinmi Quantakill took remote control of a drone ore freighter approaching Dasarn, overrode its navigational safeties, and commanded it to accelerate at full thrust into the surface of the planet – specifically, to his own location in the city of Askaran. The ore freighter struck the city with the force of a 31 megaton bomb, levelling the city and severely damaging its outlying suburbs, causing over seven million deaths and nearly three million other casualties.

Their real name is unknown (“Jinmi Quantakill” being a name attributed to them by the local press), many records and all chance of identifying them having been lost in the destruction of Askaran. Their motives, too, are unclear, being reconstructed from fragments recovered from surviving data storage near the fringe of the blast. While these fragments (diaries, literature consumption and other media, purchase records, and so forth) suggested a deep-seated fascination with death from an early age, and while some further derangement can be inferred from their final entry, “I will at last [feel like|become] a god”, little more is known.

What has survived, however, is a single extended, euphoric text on the subject of physics. While the scientific understanding of the tholisarn was at the time limited, their grasp of quantum mechanics was both sufficient to give rise to the many-worlds hypothesis, and yet insufficient to dismiss it; and while some have found the futility of choice implicit in the playing out of all outcomes a cause for despair, in Quantakill it became a source of delight, a freedom from all constraint. Why, they evidently reasoned, when all choices are made, should they not be the one to indulge their desires, and another suffer from their restraint? From the ecstasy of relief made evident in this raving, it was a short step from this realization to carrying forth his plan.

Historical effects of the strange case of Jinmi Quantakill include several modifications to common tachydidactic physics courses, the still-extant tholisarn law banning the operation of drone freighters without a sophont aboard capable of overriding the automated systems, the foundation of the “Lowbone” political faction favoring enforced public ignorance in the Tholisarn Domain, and a short-lived attempt to ban the amateur practice of metaphysics.

– Worlds of Infamy, Bad Stuff Press, 6005

Unforeseen Incentives

TEYARK (IRIS DRIFT) – Protests continued today outside the Teyark Sector Criminal Court (League of Meridian), where the murder trial of Sang dir na Versu eht Reahn, a free trader from Oderahn (Torgu Wilds), part of the Rim Free Zone, is entering its sixth day. na Versu, master of the Cryptographic Barquentine, is alleged to have ordered the spacing of a group of stowaways discovered aboard during passage through the Teyark System’s asteroid belt; forensic examination of the bodies, later recovered by belt miners at a nearby minesite, demonstrated that they could only have been jettisoned from the Barquentine.

Today was dominated by testimony given by a variety of trade organizations with regard to common practices and laws prevalent in the Expansion Regions. Most controversial was the testimony of Ethly min Rathill, representing the Starfall Arc Free Merchant Confraternity, who after delivering a strong condemnation of the acts of na Versu et. al. as repugnant to civilization and a violation of all the codes of merchancy, went on to anger the court and the angry crowd alike by delivering a blazing indictment of League law, which requires starships found to be carrying stowaways to return them to their port of origin at the owner’s expense. This, testified min Rathill, provided an obvious economic incentive for the desperate, ethically challenged, or both, to jettison stowaways before making orbit and delete all reference to them from the running log, and thus while na Versu must be held responsible for his actions, the League government must also be condemned for providing him with the motive.

The court ordered this latter portion of min Rathill’s remarks stricken from the record. min Rathill, meanwhile, was escorted from the court and to the Teyark Starport by the League Gendarmerie, there boarding the CMS Delightful Abeyance for immediate return to Seranth (Imperial Core).

 

The Sapphire Coloratura: Revealed!

Inspired by a passing comment on the Eldraeverse Discord, we now present a galari starship, the Sapphire Coloratura-class polis yacht; the favored interplanetary and interstellar transport of all sophont rocks of wealth and taste.

SAPPHIRE COLORATURA-CLASS POLIS YACHT

Operated by: Galari groups requiring luxurious private transit.
Type: Executive polis yacht.
Construction: Barycenter Yards, Galáré System

Length: 96 m (not including spinnaker)
Beam: 12 m (not including radiators)

Gravity-well capable: No.
Atmosphere-capable: No.

Personnel: None required (craft is self-sophont). Can carry an effectively arbitrary number of infomorph passengers.

Main Drive: Custom “dangle drive”; inertially-confined fusion pellets are detonated behind a leading spinnaker, the resulting thrust being transferred to the starship via a tether.
Maneuvering Drive: High-thrust ACS powered by direct venting of fusion plasma from power reactors; auxiliary cold-gas thrusters.
Propellant: Deuterium/helium-3 blend (pelletized aboard for main drive).
Cruising (sustainable) thrust: 7.2 standard gravities
Peak (unsustainable) thrust: 7.5 standard gravities
Maximum velocity: 0.12 c (based on particle shielding)

Drones:

4 x galari body-crystals; since the galari are ergovores, any galari passenger or AI system may use these for EVA purposes.

Sensors:

1 x standard navigational sensor suite, Barycenter Yards
1 x lidar grid and high-sensitivity communications laser grid, Barycenter Yards

Weapons:

Laser point-defense grid.

Other Systems:

  • Cilmínár Spaceworks navigational kinetic barrier system
  • 4 x Bright Shadow secondary flight control systems
  • Kaloré Gravity Products type 1MP vector-control core
  • Systemic Integrated Technologies flux-pinned superthermal radiator system

Small craft:

5 x minipoleis (no independent drive systems; local accumulators only)

DESIGN

The Sapphire Coloratura was intended to be a shining jewel in the crown of galari starship design, so it is perhaps fitting that it indeed resembles a shining jewel, the translucent crystal of its main body throwing sparkles of rainbow light everywhere when it chooses to fly close to stars, or when it is illuminated by the fiery blasts of its main drive.

The main body of the ship is similar to, in many ways, the galari themselves; a sixteen-faceted crystal, with eight long facets facing forward to the bow tip, and short, blunter facets facing aft towards the mechanical section, a gleaming metal cylinder with a rounded-off end taking up the remaining two-thirds of the starship’s length.

To proceed from fore to aft, the bow tip of the ship is capped with metal, housing the core mechanisms of the dangle drive; the sail deployment system, tether terminus, pellet launcher, and ignition lasers.

From our Earth perspective, this drive is very similar to the Medusa-type Orion; thrust is delivered to the starship via a 216 m diameter spinnaker “sail” on a tether ahead of the craft. Rather than dedicated pulse units, the drive projects pelletized D-3He charges ahead of the craft to the focal point of the spinnaker, where inertially-confined fusion is initiated by the ignition lasers, reflected to surround the pellet by the inner surface of the spinnaker. The resulting nuclear-pulse detonation accelerates the craft, smoothed out by the stroke cycle of the tether (see above link).

The main crystal body of the craft is essentially a solid-state piece – save for cooling labyrinths and the axial passage required by the drive – of galari thought-crystal: a substrate which holds the ship’s own intelligence, those of all passengers and any crew needed, along with whatever virtual realms, simulation spaces, or other computational matrices they may require. As such, there is little that can be described by way of an internal layout; most polis-yachts are unique in this respect.

The “waist” – broadest point – of the body is girdled by a machinery ring, containing within it the four fusion power reactors (multiple small reactors were preferred for extra redundancy by the designer) with the associated ACS, and at points between them, the backup flight control systems, navigational sensor suite, and other small auxiliary machinery.

At the aftmost point of the main body, where the blunter end of the crystal joins the mechanical section, eight crystal spikes project, symmetrically, from the point of junction. These are left hollow by the manufacturer and equipped with tip airlocks to provide a small amount of volume for cargo space and aftermarket customization; if non-ergovore passengers are expected, two of these are typically converted into quarters and life-support. A central chamber where the spikes meet serves as a body and robot hotel.

Entering the mechanical section, an accessible chamber at the forward end of the cylinder provides accommodation for the vector-control core and larger auxiliary machinery, including the thermal control system. The remainder of the section is entirely made up of bunkerage for the reactors and main drive.

The galari have never, it should be noted, shied away from making maximal use of vector control technology. This is particularly notable in the Sapphire Coloratura‘s design in two areas:

First, its radiators, which cloak the center of the mechanical section with a divided cylinder of gridwork, individual carbon-foam emitting elements held together and in place away from the hull by vector-magnetic couples, linked back to the ship itself only by the ribbons of thermal superconductor transmitting waste heat to them; and

Second, by the minipoleis that the Coloratura uses as small craft. Resembling nothing so much as miniature duplicates of the starship’s main body, these auxiliary blocks of thought-crystal are held in place orbiting the main body of the ship – often in complex patterns, even under full acceleration – connected only by vector-magnetic couples and whisker-laser communication.

That is pure ostentation.

 

The World is a Mess, and I Just Need To Rule It

I ran across this excerpt of a post on one of the Fimfiction blogs I follow this morning, and while I’m using it out of context and off-topic – it’s actually talking about the Lex Luthor of DC’s Earth-3, the morally inverted one, in the context of their own work – it works perfectly to explain the Vinav Amaranyr phenomenon, for those of you who were around in 2012, and for those of you who weren’t, why the Fourth Directorate keeps a weather eye on the philanthropic just in case:

Imagine a philanthropist.

He started as an inventor, one who managed to hang onto his own patents. In time, his intelligence created one of the most successful corporations in the world — one which truly tries to do good, although it’s gotten large enough that he has trouble keeping an eye on the whole thing. He still spends time in the lab. Until recently, he was working on clean energy sources. […]

He tries to do good. He has more money than he will ever need, at least for the needs of one man. He donates to charities. Sometimes he gives directly to the recipients because he’s learned that charities can take more than operating costs. He brings forth his clean energy and runs directly into the thorns of the coal lobby, gets told he’s only trying to deprive people of their livelihood. When he points out that he offered retraining and employment, they say he’s destroying a culture. His attempts to distribute medicine are fought by insurance companies. Famine relief shipments get stolen by terrorists, and the army marches on the hunger of someone else’s stomach.

He knows he can help the world — if only the world would let him. But he’s getting frustrated. No matter how good his actions are, how much he’s truly trying to help, there’s always something in the way. He wishes there was something else he could do. Focusing his efforts on a single city, creating a model for others… even that creates trouble. There’s a new personality in the media, one who seemingly only exists to berate him. A so-called reporter who invents his own facts and preaches them to an unquestioning audience while his glasses steam with rage.

…okay. So you’re an Imperial, and you want to help the galaxy. You’re a philanthropist, and genuinely want to help all the suffering sophs who aren’t lucky enough to live in a functional near-utopia.

And you’re stymied in all these ways. This happens almost every time you do something, to the point that you, ridiculously, have to spend more time fighting pointless obstacles and generalized stupidity than you do on solving the actual, underlying problems.

And all the while there’s that little voice in the back of your head whispering, saying “You’re a gorram postsophont. Eldrae kirsunar. These… people… can only stop you by your consent, your willingness to accept their petty, nonsensical rules. You can make things better and all you have to do is sweep aside these trivial little problems. Dammit, man, you’re a god among insects!”

And then one morning you wake up to realize you’ve become the villain of the piece, if the Fourth Directorate hasn’t delivered the most serious censure to you yet.

There are those who go Renegade because of dark-side ambition or greed, or some obscure philosophical commitment to something like Dark Kantianism or the Balanced-Universe Heresy.

But they’re a bunch of pikers compared to the ones powered by compassion.