Do Not Taunt

Gentles all, I ask but one thing of you in your scholarship: while you may and should, of course, describe the cliodynamic tendencies leading up to the states and systems you study, and the tendencies inherent in those states and systems that may push them in a particular direction, you must refrain from describing them as pre- and post- with regard to others. In your previous studies of the field you have learned many of the elegant telic theories of history your predecessors have generated; in your present studies of the field’s subject matter, you should have learned that – in the absence, and even in the presence, of a telos-enforcer with a big stick – history happens over and over again in different orders and by different means as if driven by some perverse imp to spite anyone conceiving of a simple acyclic path.

In short: reality doth make fools of us all, but I would prefer that my students did not bait it.

Saváne Filéristríös,
Asamis Chair of History,
Imperial University of Almeä


This is, the operator thinks, possibly the worst day to hear the stolid parping of the some-moron-thinks-he’s-a-train alarm.

A glance at the monitor pointed to by the sensor indicator told the story. Courtesy of the motion-and-presence trackers, it played back the moment at which the aforementioned moron had forced open one of the doors of his stopped train –

the Midmorn-18 eastbound express, Clifftop line, reflex filled in, currently holding for 22 minutes awaiting a pause in Inclinator emergency traffic –

– dropped to the trackbed, and jogged off down the tunnel towards Upslope station.

The operator glances at his board, and the covered, key-locked switch labeled ETHICAL STRICTURE. A timer below it, freshly reset, counts down by pulses from seventy-two, a mechanism implemented to ensure that no changes could be made without mindful forethought. At its normal setting, OPTIMAX, traction power would automatically have been cut to the section in which the not-train was detected, and security robobulls automatically dispatched to drag the hapless wight in question to an uncomfortable interview with security and a lengthy repayment of his fellow passengers’ inconvenience.

But today…



STATUS: Impact of not-under-command bulk freighter TDMMS Pelagic Pedestrian on foreshore defenses sector 112 has caused failure of sea wall and protective kinetic barriers in that sector. Minor flooding, since secured, has occurred in Ironclad Docks District to +18 in over datum. Estimated time to repair (including salvage of freighter): 18 hours +/- 6 from mark.

FORECAST: Arrival of storm producing sea state HIGH with wave height estimated at 402 in over datum at event locus predicted at estimated time 4 hours +/- 1 from mark. Consequences predicted include total flooding of Ironclad Docks District. Severe infrastructure damage. Mass casualty event.

IMPERATIVE: I am requisitioning all available transportation to evacuate Ironside Docks District. Clear all non-evacuation traffic from Inclinator. Trains engaged in evacuation activities are granted priority over all other traffic. All currently-unassigned consist elements capable of passenger transport are preempted for evacuation traffic. Otherwise proceed in accordance with established emergency protocol.

To secure transportation under current, predicted, and undetermined conditions, adopt ethical strictures GRANITE EXIGENT.


…the key was turned two steps beyond that, and the computerized systems instructed to maintain traction power and transit come hell or literal high water. Or, indeed, the presence of any obstruction in the tunnels not sufficient to impede the passage of a train.

Which meant, the operator’s thoughts continued even as the security monitor flashed white and dimmed and the alarm self-silenced, that one stumble into the maglev coils or a slip sufficient to contact the traction power bus-bar would be regrettably, inevitably, lethal.

“Note to Track Maintenance,” the operator murmurs into his command headset, grimacing at the monitor that now showed only a shadow on the bed of the twilit tunnel. “We have rat chow in the tunnel between Upslope and Seawatch, section four. Once the isohaz clears down, send a recovery team to pick up the marble and hose off the trackbed. Operations, clear.”

Moving Sideways

To review, we have already considered the first type of psychokinetic manipulation: the extrinsic manipulation of objects. While largely instinctive in use – unlike the extensive families of techniques built on top of them – reproducing these effects was relatively simple and produced the unifield vector effector, the enabling technology behind the modern tractor, pressor, and torquor beams.

The second type of psychokinesis is the intrinsic manipulation of one’s self. While more difficult to master, most people do acquire proficiency with the basic component effects of in this area, which together form the heart of psychokinetic freerunning: the rejump, in which one bends momentum in mid-air to adjust one’s trajectory and/or velocity; and the longstep, in which one uses a high-intensity pulse of mass-reduction to achieve a burst of speed, appearing to cross a room or otherwise reposition oneself in an instant.

(Body-flying is not considered part of this type, inasmuch as it is impossible to lift oneself, and it depends on extrinsic manipulation of fixed or high-mass objects.)

Work on technological reproduction of these effects led up to the development of the modern vector-control core for vehicles, from skimmers to starships.

The path of inspiration leading from rejump to core is relatively straightforward, as obvious parallels can be seen in the integration of the vector-control core with attitude control systems.

Developments from the longstep are, however, somewhat more obscured. While the work of the Precursors was readily able to support such operations on a single-person scale, it proved impossible for many centuries to build a vector-control core capable of spike operation. However, the traditional vector-control core mode is based on what is, in effect, a low-energy continuous longstep which provides lesser thrust enhancement on an ongoing basis.

This state of affairs persisted until the late 7900s, with the release of Shue Lezíär’s hypertoroid drive core. Fed by a double ring of chained flash accumulators, the hypertoroid core is capable of spiking to power levels orders of magnitude greater than standard cores for brief moments. Timed with exquisite precision to match firings of attitude-control thrusters or even main drives, a vehicle – even the largest of starships – equipped with such a core can appear to blink from one position to another in a matter of moments: a true longstep.

– Histories and Parallels in Vector Control Development