Eight Hells (2/4?)

This is Task Force Fourteen, as it steams at a leisurely twenty-two knots steadily east along the rocky southern shore of Míhayll Island, the southernmost in its archipelago. It had passed the entrance to the Míhayll Shallows yesterday at dusk, the shoal offering a back door to Lothell Bay for those with sufficiently shallow drafts, but not even a destroyer would attempt that passage. TF14 had sighted a few fishermen among the shoals, but if they had been sighted in return – a virtual certainty – it would not matter. Their targets had no option but to break out of the bay, which short of charging directly into the teeth of TG Northern, meant transiting the Adessír Straits; if the fishermen reported their passage to the Alliance command, it would make little difference.

The interception, if it happened – the course and speed of TF14 had been selected to intercept the Alliance ships at the mouth of the Straits, if they were indeed attempting a dawn transit – would be a close-quarters knife-fight. The sharp mountain spine running down Míhayll’s length was an effective barrier to both gunfire and radar, and so they would not know of its success until they were almost upon the enemy.

Meanwhile, the wind blew steadily against them, as it had all night. Vicious gusts out of the north-west carried storm clouds down out of Lothell, bringing with them lines of squalls, flat and heavy rain, and a steady swell that was imparting to the ships of TF14 a miserable corkscrewing motion. The only virtue to be found in the weather – and the worse storms further north – was that it would keep Alliance air cover grounded, and make it virtually impossible for Antinomos to fly off or recover aircraft. Or such was the Admiralty’s contention, although the empty skies above them were some confirmation.

The fast battleship Skybreaker, Vice-Admiral Ardelli’s flagship, trails the midpoint of the center line of the formation, following the wake of Invincible, her elder sister, their silhouettes obscured against the storm by the entangling shapes of their dazzle paintwork. Fast battleship is an unconventional designation for the Imperial Navy, but one earned by their unusual construction; rather than heavy naval steel, their citadel armor was wrought from spinmetal, a composite material harvested from deposits left behind by feral silverlife. Absurdly light and strong – albeit in short supply, uncastable, and extremely difficult to work – the spinmetal citadels of the Invincible-class battleships left them vulnerable to only the heaviest fire, while allowing them to outrun most cruisers with ease.

(A framed letter, presented to the ship by the naval architect behind the project, hung in the captain’s day cabin of Invincible; a purloined copy of a reprimand addressed to a junior Alliance intelligence analyst informing them in no uncertain terms that no-one, not even an Empire recently come into possession of the deposits of the Ossirvel Distributary, would expend the wealth necessary to use such a rare and costly material as warship armor.)

Ahead and behind them as they proceeded in line ahead, their escorting cruisers Seabreeze and Waterspout; refits of the older Tempest-class, now fat with air defenses, but still mounting a respectable main armament of a half-dozen 6″ guns.

And around them, the destroyers. Eight of them, all of the Ulricik Bancrach-class, the Hungry Wolves: Gray. Grinning. Pouncing. Leaping. Ravening. Swift. Unseen. Grizzled.

Almost hidden as they crashed through the swell, water sloshing over their bows – while relatively new, the wetness of the class in heavy weather was well-known – the destroyers flanked the main line four and four to port and starboard, the first pair preceding the others and the last trailing. Most visible was Ravening Wolf, on Skybreaker‘s port bow, flying the white pennant of Commodore Chiomé, commander of the destroyer screen.

The voice of a loudspeaker making a long-expected call cut through the quiet of Skybreaker‘s bridge.

“Radar-bridge. Radar-bridge. Contacts, repeat contacts, appearing through ground clutter, bearing oh-eight-four.”

“Signal to all ships: clear for action. Hoist the battle ensign.”

The Vigilant

The Watch Constabulary, on the whole, does not think of itself as a police force.

But that’s not a problem, because no-one else thinks of them as one either.

While their watchmen, constables, and inspectors are trained for situations in which the application of force may be necessary, these are not their business¹, and nor is this the primary thrust of their training. Indeed, these skills are almost never, if ever, used; the bread and butter of the constabulary day consists of giving directions, rescuing kittens from trees, reporting issues local maintenance might have missed, returning lost children and dogs, offering a listening ear and a helping hand, arbitrating minor neighborhood disputes, and aiding the aged and infirm on such rare occasions as they can find any. Notable, too, is the incorporation of the Disaster Instant Response teams, the Quenchers, and Gaëlenén’s Scalpel into the Watch Constabulary’s structure as specialists, and the extensive cross-training of all constabulary personnel in the basics of disaster response and paramedicine.

To some extent, this nature is both cause and consequence of the Empire’s implausibly² low crime rate. For the greater part, however, it is merely a matter of ideology. While a society built around the principles of consent and obligation may occasionally find it both necessary and ethically permissible to make use of responsive force – or even preemptive responsive force – it would be nothing short of reprehensible and indeed outright counterproductive to embody this necessity in those charged to preserve the public safety and harmony.

– Ten Thousand Parts in Approximate Formation: The Empire from Outside

  1. As previously mentioned, the Empire elects to separate the traditional police functions of patrol, investigation (see Office of Investigation and Pursuit) and force-application in exceptional circumstances (which, on the rare occasions it is required, is the province of the local military garrison), insofar as the skills and traits required for each function are highly divergent and rarely overlap.
  2. Statistical information on this was rejected by the Conclave Commission on Uniform Security on several occasions, until the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity invited the Commission to observe their operations up close. Current thinking, depending on the inclinations of the observer, attributes it to a combination of radical freedom, radical abundance, liberal use of meme rehab, and a steadfast commitment – contra the majority of polities – to deporting all their incorrigibles.

Iterating the Eschaton

From the introduction to Godwatcher’s Journal, Spring 8072 edition:

The cold red deserts of Meridia IV, Imperial reserve world, are no more.

Now there is only the Transcend’s latest experimental station: the Meridia IV Center for the Advancement of Ecological Amiability.

It is, or should be, no surprise to those who trace the consequences of Transcendent imperatives that such a thing should come to exist. It may, however, surprise those unfamiliar with the scale of divine works that the chosen means of fulfilling such imperatives would remake a world from core to sky.

Under the direction of the Symbiarch, axis submind and exarch of Sylithandríël, the forges and cathedral manufactories of Qerach have brought into being an array of interlocking linear arcologies, godwalls which, delivered by superlifter and skycrane, now divide the surface of Meridia IV, mountain, plain, and ocean, into twenty isolated biomes, unique habitats within which the Symbiarch has total control over the atmohydrospheric environment.

Within the godwalls themselves, the vertices of this shining icosahedron, loreworks and laboratories abound, a domain shared between the Symbiarch’s minor exarchs and the Initiatives whose scientists and engineers – called from the teeming worldlets around Eshtaréä and from all across the Empire – labor on their fraction of the task of wisdom’s perspective.

Every world spins in pain.

This is a consequence of that one inescapable truth: the universe is a broken place.

In this place, at this time, the Transcend attempts the repair of that small piece of it that is not only suffering, but the necessity of suffering: that aspect of cosmic entropy that gives rise to parasitism and predation, that compels life to enslave, exploit, and destroy life for its own continuance.

In the experimental biomes of Meridia IV, beginning with ecosystem samples taken from Eliéra, Revallá, Kythera, Víëlle, and Golden Groves, Sylithandríël’s exarch and its Initiatives devise means by which nature as it is may be brought into accord with the Viridian Dream: a world without suffering, unnecessary decay, or untimely death, flourishing in a perpetual harmony of at worst, costless commensalism; at best, joyful mutualism.

Until the day when the worlds from which they were taken, and all worlds, may likewise be perfected.

Thus it shall rebuke all those who look upon the imperfect world and say: it must be so.

Let all your works be wise,
For knowledge is the light of the Flame;
Let all your works be beautiful,
For beauty is its warmth;
Thus is your Heaven built.

– The Word of the Flame, Truths:15

Aperture Linguistics

(Originally titled Eldraeic Word of the Day: asírdaëlíthal, but come on…)

asíran: power; note: not coercive power, the power of compulsion, which is korás. Rather, the ability and means to act upon the elements of the world towards a defined end. (See also the kinds of power, here.)

daëlin: probability, chance.

asírdaël: (from asíran + daëlin) opportunity; that is to say, a possibility (probability) which exists because of one’s possession of the power (agency) to take advantage of that possibility; that which can be realized through action.

íthal: object, thing.

asírdaëlíthal: (from asírdael + íthal) an opportunity-object; an item created for no reason other than that one possessed the power to create it. The end product of such philosophies as “because it’s there“, “we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”, and “we do what we can, because we must”. Existence/possibility as imperative.

Bottling Up

The Sunstone is just what it appears to be – a star in a bottle.

That is to say, what it appears to be to the normal senses is an almost weightless crystalline sphere, roughly a foot across, shedding light and warmth all around it. A close inspection of the Sunstone, necessarily through darkened lenses, reveals whorls of flame shifting endlessly across its surface in patterns of light and dark spots, broken only by fiery prominences erupting from the surface and falling back once again. In short, a perfect model, one might think, of a sun.

Closer inspection, on the other hand, reveals that the Sunstone is a sun-in-a-bottle in the precise sense that a ship-in-a-bottle is not. Its crystalline surface is free of any of the discontinuities characterizing baryonic matter, because its surface is merely the topological defect bounding the dimensionally transcendent cystal universe within – a vast, encapsulated volume containing a true star as its sole inhabitant. The effects of the mass of the star does not cross this superficies into our parent universe, leaving the Sunstone almost weightless. Nor do the majority of the photons emitted by the star, deflected at right-angles to reality by some arcane means to fuel the mechanics of the axiomantic warp, with the convenient side-effect of making it possible to approach and manipulate the Sunstone with some degree of safety.

What is its purpose? Well, aside from its roles as experiment, proof-of-concept, and asírdaëlíthal for the gentlesophs of the Irreality Vault, I expect the principle role of the Sunstone will be to prove to exoarchaeologists of the future, gentle reader, that we have now equaled the Precursors in our ability to confuse, bemuse, and amuse.

– editorial, issue 394, “Scientific Progress Says What?

Eight Hells (1/4?)

Vice-Admiral Ardelli, TDMS Skybreaker, commanding TF 14. Battleship CAS Antithemis, carrier CAS Antinomos, escorting destroyers, reported moving out Lothell Bay steaming ESE. Suspect attempting transit Adessír Straits tomorrow at local dawn. Heavy weather over Lothell Is. makes it unlikely fly off air cover. All measures intercept and destroy. 1SL, Calmiríë.