The Order of Defenders

A reader pointed out on this Discord that this

(go read it there)

has a vaguely eldraeic flavor.

Which it does. Not something a direct analog to which would exist *there* , mind you, inasmuch as defending yourself and civilization is something written right into the Imperial Charter, Section III, Article V: “Responsibilities of the Citizen-Shareholder”1. But the underlying sentiment, that certainly does.

(And the technarchs have their equivalent of the Ritual of the Iron Ring, too, as do many others. One of these days, I should trot out, for example, the plutarch version.

No-one has forgotten or denigrated the memetic power of ceremony in this ‘verse. What else, indeed, is the Logarchy of Protocol, Ritual, and Symbology for, or the entire profession of symposiarchs?)

And if you were wondering if the lay orders of Barrascán have appropriate ceremonial along these lines, well yes, they do.


  1. Well, that, and you aren’t going to find anyone prepared to tolerate being described as “the weak”.

Lumenna-Súnáris System (10): Iälessá

(I’d been meaning to get back to this series for quite some time, but never quite managed it. Until now, seeing as a generous reader on the Discord offered to make me a delta-v map for the System, which rather spurred me on to resume the project.)


I/9. Iälessá

Class: Alessán
Orbit (period): 23.17 au (40,737 T-days/111.529 T-years)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.01 (however, orbital inclination is 22° from the ecliptic)
Radius: 16,833 miles
Mass: 1.194 x 1026 kg
Density: 1.44 g/cm3
Cloud-top gravity: 1.11 g

Axial tilt: 27.1°
Rotation period: 2.13 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K

Satellites: 7 close moonlets, ring. 5 major moons. 4 eccentric moons.

A swirled marble of blues pale and dark, Iälessá is the inner of Lumenna’s twin ice giants. Its somewhat unusual coloration is believed to be the result of a combination of factors: its ammonia-rich atmosphere, the unusually high quantity of silicate dust in that same atmosphere (believed to be a product of whatever primordial event was responsible for the unusual inclination of its orbit), the primitive microbial life dwelling in its upper layers, and the unusual states of matter found near its core.

A small number of aerostats dwell in the upper atmosphere of Iälessá, primarily concerning themselves with research into the history and lifeforms of the planet, and its small gas-mining industry. The civilian population outside the major moons primarily dwells here, and across its various moonlets. Outside the Iälessá sub-system itself, though, its libration points with Lumenna contain a large number of polises and other processing facilities, taking advantage of the low-temperature environment.

Meanwhile, the sub-system itself, inasmuch as it consists of a relatively small ice giant with a system of large moons, presents the unusual sight of an astronomical arrangement firmly in gravity’s grip, as everything is tide-locked to everything else!

I/9/a. Saeríändrá

Class: Thiorastan (high-silicate)
Orbit (period): 134,664 miles (0.921 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.01
Radius: 786 miles
Mass: 4.055 x 1022 kg
Density: 4.798 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.17 g

Axial tilt: 4.2°
Rotation period: 0.921 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 65 K

Atmosphere: Thin (0.1 atm), primarily sulphurous, with heavy ash clouds.
Hydrographic coverage: 0% (other than short-lived cooling glass lakes)

Saeríändrá, the innermost major moon of Iälessá, is an anomalous thiorastan-class moon in many ways, primarily because of the high percentage of silicon and silicate compounds in its makeup, similar to that of its parent planet. It is also anomalously warm, due to the high degree of tidal flexing caused by its proximity to Iälessá, along with frequent close passed by the moonlets with which it is in resonance and its peripatetic moonmoons.

This tidal flexing also drives a highly active geology, including many large volcanoes. It is primarily this volcanic activity that provides Saeríändrá with its thin atmosphere and the thick high-altitude ash clouds which retain the moon’s heat, although the moon’s mass is entirely insufficient to retain its atmosphere, leaving a long pseudo-cometary tail trailing it in its orbit.

CAUTION: Travelers to or near Saeríändrá should be advised that near-Saeríändrá space to trailing of the moon is rich in particulate manner which may score hulls and damage delicate equipment. Avoidance of this zone is recommended.

Saeríändrá’s volcanoes are rare examples of vitreovolcanism, due to its silicon-rich crust; the lava they spew onto the moon’s surface takes the form of a variety of silicate glasses. Ongoing volcanic activity over millennia has resculpted the majority of Saeríändrá’s surface into layers of sculpted glass, from the milky mountains, ancient frozen eruptions etched by wind-driven ash, to the lowland glasslakes, swirled in many colors from impurities within, where glass lava has settled to its natural level before freezing in place.

Saeríändrá is a provider of fissionables to Cinquané and other parts of the outer system, via the Empire Nucleonics, ICC mining station in the north extracting thorium and uranium salts from the brown-green glasslakes of the area. Habitation is concentrated in the southern hemisphere, which houses a large number of thriving galari colonies, along with the famed Crystal Lake Dome resort.

I/9/b. Cinquané Avincta

Class: Eugalínic
Orbit (period): 185,163 miles (1.49 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.12
Radius: 1,227 miles
Mass: 1.123 x 1023 kg
Density: 3.47 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.2 g

Axial tilt: 3.1°
Rotation period: 1.49 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 37 K

Atmosphere: None.
Hydrographic coverage: 0%

A moon trapped in the quiescent phase of the galínic cycle by its lower mass and lack of atmospheric retention, Cinquané Avincta is a frozen world, its surfaces dominated by ice, carbon dunes, hydrocarbon tars, and tholins. As its slightly higher density indicates, pockets of heavier elements are present within its mass, and as such, it serves principally as a mining colony of the Cinquané Commonwealth, of which it is a territorial annex.

However, its surface is also heavily and repeatedly cracked by the high tidal forces to which it is subjected, and thus riven with mazes of chasms and other similar formations. As such, it has a thriving secondary tourist industry in extreme sports, including vacuum spelunking, bridge diving, and high-velocity flight in and among the narrows.

(Let us skip discretely past the tertiary industry of scavenging the remains of extreme sportssophs from the bottom of said chasms.)

I/9/c. Cinquané

Class: Galínilacustric
Orbit (period): 235,662 miles (2.13 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.09
Radius: 2,850 miles
Mass: 1.248 x 1024 kg
Density: 3.09 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.4 g

Axial tilt: 5.4°
Rotation period: 2.13 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 58 K

Atmosphere: 2.16 atm; primarily nitrogen-methane.
Hydrographic coverage: 70% (primarily ethane, with misc. hydrocarbon admixture)

Galíné may be the archetypal example of the galínic planetary classes, but Cinquané was the first. A world of ice, carbon dunes, and ethane oceans lapping at tholin beaches, all beneath a smoggy red-orange methane sky, Cinquané began as a roughneck industrial colony producing hydrocarbon-based products for the ecopoesis of Talentar and space industry elsewhere in the system, and grew from those roots into the homeworld of the modern Cinquané Commonwealth, the largest and most prosperous polity of the outer system, however Inlétanós’s Ring Imperium might contest the claim. Over three billion cold-loving sophs dwell in the domes scattered across Cinquané’s dusty plains and shores, along with the open ciseflish settlements, the largest being the planetary capital, Yíhanad, and the jack city of Newfalls.

Both Biolith Chemical Produces, ICC, and Industrial Liquids, ICC, maintain large extraction and bactry facilities here, clustered around the industrial cities along the shore of the southern polar ocean.

Other notable planetographic features include the Hump, the permanent 330′ high tide beneath the noon pole (here defined as the planetward synchronous pole, rather than the sunward one).

I/9/d. Cinquané Tevinté

Class: Eugalínic
Orbit (period): 370,326 miles (4.10 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.07
Radius: 1,663 miles
Mass: 2.126 x 1023 kg
Density: 2.65 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.2 g

Axial tilt: 1.3°
Rotation period: 4.10 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 35 K

Atmosphere: None.
Hydrographic coverage: 0%

Similar in most ways to Cinquané Avincta, but lacking the heavier elements, Cinquané Tevinté is also a territorial annex of the Cinquané Commonwealth, serving as a de facto suburb colony for those preferring greater privacy.

One pseudo-island (i.e., area of raised ground within a tar lake) on Cinquané Tevinté holds a mothballed manufacturing facility, that in which Ring Dynamics, ICC produced the first stargate hulls before the construction of the modern standardized weylforge, and another holds a naval depot for the IN’s outer-system picket.

I/9/e. Alétel

Class:
Orbit (period): 420,825 miles (5.07 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.13
Radius: 2,336 miles
Mass: 5.154 x 103 kg
Density: 2.32 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.24 g

Axial tilt: 4.6°
Rotation period: 5.07 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 52 K

Atmosphere: 0.16 atm; nitrogen-methane.
Hydrographic coverage: 0%

Another otherwise undistinguished iceball, the moon is perhaps most famous for housing Uncertainty Dome, Bright Shadow, ICC’s chief domestic tanglebit manufacturing facility, and, historically, for the Alétel Equatorial Collider.

Ringing the moon’s equator, the Equatorial Collider, at 14,675 miles in circumference, was the largest particle accelerator ever constructed until the much later advent of the Déirae Collider, and enabled new and profound discoveries in high-energy physics.

Eldraeic Word(s) of the Day: Words Which Cut

rian: sword; blade used in war.

teirian: (from teir “honor” + rian) The “honorable sword”, the longer first-sword of the eldraeic Two Swords, wielded in the swordsman’s main hand. A traditionally-made teirian is an elongated S-curve five to six feet in length, of which two feet are the hilt, enabling it to be wielded either single-handed (in conjunction with the hanrian) with a lengthy reach, or double-handed with a wide grip. Both the lower edge and the pointward two-thirds of the upper edge are sharpened, as is the acute point, although the teirian is primarily a slashing weapon.

hanrian: (from hanel “useful” + rian) The “useful sword”, the shorter second-sword of the eldraeic Two Swords, wielded in the swordsman’s off-hand for parrying and secondary attacks. 18″ to 22″ long, with a heavy straight blade and a tapered point designed for thrusting attacks, it also serves legionaries as a multiple-purpose blade for non-combat functions.

Heaven Upbears

The skimmer sang with many voices.

The high stress tremolo of the variform hull, shifting through a thousand combinations a second to stabilize the skimmer’s flight path as it spiked the atmosphere; the low bass throb of the ram drive, pulsed magnetohydrodynamic vortices that could be felt in the skimmer’s structural bones; and mid-range, the pervasive thrum of laboring machinery, turbopumps and heat exchangers striving to keep mollysieves clear and gas flowing, punctuated by the periodic rattle of black diamond crystals being dumped from the bypasses.

And Inlétanós itself provided the accompaniment, percussion felt more than heard, as miles-long lightning bolts flashed cloud-to-cloud, sparks against the murk.

Marise 0x43B2AAC9 grinned to herself. For once, the chorus had an audience capable of appreciating it. While tiresome haggling over incarnation coverage kept most of her skimmer fleet in the hands of dumb automation, even those tight-wires couldn’t keep her off the survey flights.

And so here she was, a firefly flitting in between the pillars of the darkling sky, city-sized towers of cooling hydrogen among the bluish methane haze passing in an instant; wisps of cloud rising from the yellowish-orange whorls below, here ammonia, there longer-chain hydrocarbons, churned by the boiling gas-ocean below; here and there, even, broad dark flakes of dense, tarry organics, born aloft by chance, floated in the wind.

She side-slipped the skimmer to avoid one such, dipping one swept-forward wing into humped cumuli streaked with organic compounds that sent data crackling from the wing-tip sensors, feeling drag and gravity clutching at her frail ship. The hull keened in compensation. Pressure differential warnings flashed from that wing’s throat as changing gas composition threw off the processors. Then she was through, flashing wing-over-wing past and over, into the lazy updraft of a dying boil – enough to bear the skimmer, tanks and recorders filled, upwards in lazy spirals to the waiting tender.

Our codeline was made
To dance with clouds; gravity
Our fickle lover.

Entirely the Wrong Level

“Look, if your reaction to a sophont doing psychotically bad things is focused on the instrumentality they used, rather than why on you have a culture prone to psychopathogeny, you are wrong on a level that… well, starshit, you don’t need me to explain it; you need a metaphysicist.”

Sen. Olynthé Amanyr, 1,688th century,
demonstrating the problem with Imperials
appearing on Meridianite chat shows

(Loosely inspired by this and that, et. al.)

The Other Dismal Science

“Good morning, ye earnest seekers of wisdom. I am Reader Olíäth Rian, and I am your primary instructor for this class. Welcome to EX0487, Introduction to the Exosophontology of Mass Coercion. For our foreign students who are now looking confused, you may have seen this class listed under ‘political science’, and you may be in the right place. I shall return to that in a moment.

“It is, I believe, customary at this point to emphasize both that I, and my colleagues, will do everything we can to help you become your absolute best and master the material contained within this course, and yet that should you fail to do so, we will nonetheless crush your hopes mercilessly in the best interests of this institution’s reputation and that of its successful graduates. Since this is a second-level course, however, let us take that as read.

“Before we begin, there is often some confusion concerning precisely what this course is among those, shall we say, less familiar with the local organization of knowledge. Here’s what this class is not: if you want to learn how to run governances, administration is the purview of the Thousand Wisdoms Academy, civil engineering is held in the Cog, the law is on its own subcampus, and so on, and so on. If you’re here to talk, everything from negotiation to manipulation and sophont relations is taught in the applied memetics building; back out the front door, turn left, you can’t miss it — they make sure of that in a first-semester class project every year. And the Imperial War College isn’t on this planet. Meanwhile, if you want to serve your fellow soph, we have an entire business school devoted to that.”

“What it is is a detailed sophontological and sociomemetic study of the techniques used to induce in large populations – from the obvious primal fear, envy, self-righteousness, mistrust, and suchlike to the more philosophically advanced – a belief in self-appointed authorities and their ethical exemptionalism. Or, as one of last year’s outworld students put it rather pithily, ‘how to make people sell themselves into serfdom and pay for the privilege’.

“Now, let me address those few of our students who are – there are always a few – looking at turning our lessons here around into their very own dictator-in-a-box kit. Look to your left. Look to your right. Look to the docuspheres which are even now streaming this lecture to our off-campus students and everyone auditing the class over the extranet. Consider how hopelessly outnumbered you are by the people who are about to learn all the same tricks as you. Good luck. You’re going to need it.

“And finally, before we get started, there is an academic certamen component to this course, so would those students, foreign or otherwise, who have some political theory to defend already go ahead and light up… Now that’s not all of you. Don’t be shy now – you knew when you applied that we treat argument as a blood sport hereabouts.”

– Reader Olíäth Rian welcomes the class of 7240

Intellectual Property

“You don’t need a license for patent S/03218B915. If you’d looked it up, you’d have seen that – it was granted to Cognitech and Biogenesis back in the 2300s. Five-thousand years in the public domain, more or less.”

“So what is it, and why are you killing people over it?”

“‘A Method and System for Artificially Stimulating the Growth of Mature Synaptic Function in the Biosapient Brain While Preventing Logos Iteration’.”

“…which is?”

“How you grow a working brain without a mind in it, and without accidentally getting a mind in it, when the brain requires stimulus and interaction with the world in order to structure itself properly. Very complex, very technical – or it was back in the 2300s – still quite expensive, and ethically critical, of course.”

“I don’t get it.”

“There are two ways to grow a working bioshell. One of them is described in patent number S/03218B915. The other one is to grow yourself a regular kid, let ’em walk and talk and run and jump and play when you aren’t putting them through hard conditioning routines until the crucial brain structures have been laid down. Or grab one off the street, but the customers like their meat fresh.

“Then you hit ’em with enough catacinin or other selective synapse-buggerer to turn their cortex into neuron soup and sell the result as a cheap blank. Usually without a label describing how your low, low prices are the product of murderous industrialized paediculture.”

– an eigeninterview from the Expansion Regions