Anywhere Killer (n.): hypothetical weapons system using an arbitrarily-targetable wormhole generator to deliver ordnance – or convenient non-ordnance, such as stellar cores – to any target location in the galaxy whose coordinates are known or can be inferred, bypassing all defense systems in the intervening space-time.
Naturally, as a strategic first-strike weapon nonpareil, the development, deployment, and/or use of this technology has been banned by every respectable galactic polity.
Naturally, every respectable galactic polity has a research team or twelve squirreled away in secret working on it.
May their theoretical and practical difficulties long continue.
– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary
(Yes, this is the local version of Schlock Mercenary’s “Long Gun” – since people kept asking me about such a thing in the ‘verse.
And to clarify further: those research teams may not know it yet, but those theoretical difficulties are actually, genuinely insurmountable. The only way to inflate a distant wormhole end at a targeted location is the ER=EPR method used by stargates, and so Anywhere Killers are impossible.)
“Unlike chemodrugs, the problem with cutting nanodrugs is that everyone knows what a nanite suspension is supposed to look like. It’s quite distinctive. So unless you’re willing to go the costly route of cutting your nanodrugs with other, slightly less expensive nanodrugs carefully tested for interactions, people cutting nanodrugs for quick coin will use whatever nanites they can find lying around. If the customer’s really lucky, that means a veinful of unprogrammed medichines. Not so lucky, and whatever not-for-internal-use swarm they just injected will send their immune system into overdrive and they’ll be in acute septicemic shock within a couple of seconds. Needless to say, it’s a one-time-and-run crime — yes, question at the back?”
“And if they’re unlucky?”
“Unlucky? You’ll know what that means when you see someone who’s snorted a snootful of factory-reject garden paste, or cleaning dust, or something else that’ll actually operate in vivo. Being used as still-living constructor raws starts out at messy and ends with grotesque. No pictures – you’ll know it when you see it, and that’s soon enough.”
– training lecture,
Exopharma Exclusion Agency,
(Yes, this is so very real-life-writes-the-plot, but as with that age-old piece about transportation security, what can you do…)
From: Ektalis Munisinios (Second Undersecretary, Ministry of State and Outlands)
To: Cerea Oliviscios (Their Divine Majesties’ Ambassador to the Viridian States)
Security: DIPLOMATIC BLUE
Subject: Formal reprimand
We have this day received a missive from the State Department of your country of residence calling for your formal reprimand over certain impolitic remarks, to wit, “We are sure the people of the Viridian States must be inspired to great confidence by their governance’s ability to find people who will obey any order, especially in these troubled times.”
Herewith is that reprimand:
Next time, be sure the galactic press has been invited to the party, not just the locals. Makes it harder to cover up.
Drinks at the Mustelid are on me next time you make it back to the capital.
CAPITOL, YANOK ARCHIPELAGO, TORKATAN CONGERIES – Protests were reported today outside the Imperial embassy here in Capitol Drift over the recent death of a citizen of the Congeries during a tour of the Core worlds.
Ra Adom Underhull was struck and killed by an groundcraft on Ellisar (Imperial Core) late last year, one of only fourteen vehicular incidents reported in the Empire in 7204.
Her case has attracted some controversy both within and without Imperial space, since as a member of the pro-public-privacy group Behind the Veil, Underhull was wearing full-coverage clothing patterned with adversarial images designed specifically to impair the operation of commonly-used sensor algorithms, and had placed the Universal issued her at entry into a sealed embag. (This latter practice was one which had already led to several warnings from the Constabulary.)
A statement issued at the time by Silverwing Motors, ICC, the designers of the groundcraft in question, offered their condolences to Underhull’s family, but, while noting that the vehicle had detected her and begun obstacle-avoidance routines shortly before the collision, stated that they could not reasonably be expected to build systems secure against deliberate and technically sophisticated attempts to sabotage their operation.
The Constabulary coroner concurred with this, and returned a verdict of death by misadventure secondary to traumatic amentia, or as it is unfortunately also known, “death by stupidity”.
It is this verdict that forms the root of the controversy, with opinions varying from those prevalent in certain outworlds that one should be protected fully even from the consequences of one’s own actions, or that this once again highlights the intrinsic dangers of automation, to the common opinion among Imperials that one cannot in all reason possibly expect to be kept safe when engaging in acts of profound unwisdom, such as deliberately blinding safety systems or taking an evening stroll through a minefield.
Consensus on these matters remains as unlikely to be reached as ever.
– the Imperial Infoclast
ka idaseir qané trasunael xasessqár!: “bugger1 the seers!”; common expletive phrase, originating in Jussovy, used to respond to statements of poor odds, predictions of failure or certain death, claims that something is a doomed venture, a suicide mission, impossible, etc., indicating the speaker’s determination to go through with it anyway and trust their qalasír to carry the day.
Curiously enough, this often works.
- This is, of course, an idiomatic translation.
A more literal translation would be “may the seers engage in low-quality/unsatisfactory sex!”
“If we live not another day
Say this over our pyre
That we died like Legion hainadar
With our faces to the fire.
“But once we live tomorrow
In a body free of pain
Then bring us ale and whiskey
Until we die again!”
– regimental song of the 22nd “Alatian Highlanders” Legion
In which there is an apocalypse.
- Man, that’s a lot of chains.
- Well, you’re an unlikely flaming chap. But I guess if there are ice giants, there should be fire giants.
- Thor, you’ve been hanging out with Tony Snark too much.
- Oh, you shouldn’t have said that. Keep your special hat secret.
- We approve this music choice.
- Well, Asgard’s standards in gatekeepers have gone all to hell.
- …even by ontotech standards, Mjolnir is hax.
- Don’t think their standards in Viking-inspiring women are doing so well, either.
- Oh, Loki. Evidently you gave up completely on subtlety and subtlety-adjacent things when you kinged yourself.
- Awwww. But you two were so cute! And no Jane means no more Darcy, Best Intern Ever!
- Well, isn’t that… Strange.
- Implication: Asgard also has wizards. Of course, Earth also had wizards all along.
- Loki is having a really bad day.
- And Odin seems to be enjoying his retirement.
- Well, this introduction is going well.
- Mew-mew! Noooo!
- Hm. Bifrost is also a place. Interesting. And one you can be thrown out of mid-transit.
- Well, shit. We’ve seen those guys fight, and so… implications unpleasant.
- Is that… a planet-sized landfill? With wormholes dropping garbage out of the sky? But… but… (economists have meltdown)
- (I mean, I suppose it could be natural, but there had to be something better to use it for.)
- Guessing these folks got landfilled too, at some point.
- A very drunk Asgardian?
- Not bad “going through them” for someone that drunk. “Blowing through them”, one might say.
- And so passes the last of the Warriors Three. (Hm. I wonder where Sif is right now.)
- Ah. So, they have a sideline in slave gladiators. Delightful planet, this Sakaar.
- (Oh, right, where the paper people come from.)
- Of course Loki would turn up there.
- This one is laid back for a gladiator. Insert obligatory stoned pun here.
- One might think slaughtering the entirety of Asgard’s military forces would be something of a self-own for the new queen…
- (And this is why historical revisionism is problematic.)
- …oh. A giant army of the mostly dead. And giant wolf!
- (Awww, puppy.)
- The hammer is his… hammer. Yep. Just his hammer.
- Okay, so if there was this elite force of women warriors, what was that whole deal back in Thor about Sif being one?
- Tough crowd.
- Oh, that’s where you ended up.
- Not sure he likes that name.
- Like he said, god of thunder…
- …puny god of thunder. And Loki gloats, of course…
- …or not. Someone’s feeling their elemental associations today.
- Es. 10 says Heimdall is running the resista —
- — thank you.
- Evidently extended runtime is good for Hulk. And he’s got himself a life now.
- And a robust sense of humor. And, ooh, a statue.
- Ah, Heimdall has an exit. Guess when you can see everything in the universe, you pick up on all the back doors.
- Nice escape. Well, right up until the Quinjet got Hulked, and the Hulk got dehulked.
- Man, how bad must two years worth of Hulk-hangover be.
- “Melt-stick,” seriously?
- The Valkyrie rode pegasai. Okay, let’s revise the mythologae recreation list.
- “You’ve been on a planet before.” Heh.
- And soon it will be three.
- Well, except for Hulkfest Carnivale whatever-local-year-this-is.
- Worst impromptu name ever.
- The “Devil’s Anus”? Apt. And dreadfully entendric.
- You have a terrible job, Grand Master’s chief minion.
- That is a terrible strategy, but that’s a really nice ship.
- That, on the other hand, was a very nice strategy. If a mite dickish.
- …something about a black light…
- That would be a fairly odd thing to have a doctorate in.
- Maybe not a gun, but it’ll do.
- Awwww, puppy.
- One would think they’d have better methods of interrogation on Asgard, but maybe Hela gets her kicks this way.
- A very convenient wormhole, indeed.
- And Thor teaches us all how to do provoke and confront.
- DON’T SHOOT THE — well, okay, guess you have to.
- Well, that wasn’t the plan.
- Just you and your undead slaves, eh, Hela?
- Welp, Loki and an opportunity to be theatrical. Should’ve called it.
- Big-ass lightning bolts speak louder than words.
- This is the best fightin’ music ever.
- Alas, poor Fenris. You deserved a better mistress.
- (But, hell, no-one else even wounded the Hulk. Ever.)
- Even unavoidable sacrifices suck.
- And Skurge of Asgard, at the last, dies well.
- Bloody hell. He wasn’t kidding about being mountain-sized.
- The audience also hates this prophecy. Civilizations should not fall. That is literally the opposite of the proper course of events.
- Hulk is disappoint. Biggest challenge yet.
- Korg, your timing is just the worst.
- Well, won’t Earth be surprised to receive a sudden shipful of Asgardians? (Especially those Asatru whose worldview wasn’t already beaten all to hell in the last few years.)
- …assuming that leaves anyone alive, that is.
- And what’s about to couldn’t happen to a nicer planetary slavemaster.