The Calmiríë Chthonic Railway

It’s been a while since I gave you folks a map, so here, I’m giving you folks a map:

[map of the Calmiríë Chthonic Railway]
Click through for full-size version.

Should you find yourself needing to find a way around the central region of the capital, this should come in rather handy.


On another note, and one less relevant to writing, our 3D printer here at Chez Author chose this last week to break on us, and since it’s a fairly key part of our business that funds, y’know, mortgages and other key writing supplies, we’re gonna need another one. And in this highly inopportune time of economic and coronavirus brouhaha, this means that I am once more resorting to shameless blegging.

So please, if you can, toss a coin to your author. And if you can’t, please reshare. Every tiny bit helps!

(Hell, I may even throw in a 3D-printed esteyn by way of thanks.)

Hold the Eggs

Bacon Maneuver: A stealth tactic used by sailing masters with no sense of self-preservation, the Bacon Maneuver involves hiding a small starship within the drive wake of a larger vessel. Large, multiple-drive craft often have “sweet spots” close in where the drive plumes have not yet impinged on one another, and thus in which a small vessel can lurk without being instantly immolated by the larger vessel’s torches. In such a position, the small starship relies on the “white-out” of sensors looking directly at the drive plume to conceal its own presence.

Carrying this out is fraught with a number of problems: the ability to approach the sweet spot through the distal drive wake without being incinerated; the need to sink radiant heat from the drive plumes surrounding the sweet spot; the high likelihood of a collision with the larger vessel or its drive plume should it maneuver unexpectedly; and so forth.

From this litany of difficulties is drawn the name of the maneuver: one who attempts it while being so much as a minim less good than they think they are will assuredly be fried crispy.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Begone, And Trouble Us No More

You may have seen a new Imperial Navy ship on the through route from Qechra to Palaxias in the past few weeks, and not been able to pin down her exact type: she resembles a Leviathan-class dreadnought to aft, but the whole forward half of the vessel seems to have been replaced by a long, four-pronged, blunt-ended ‘snoot’, which more closely resembles the working end of a stargate than anything else.

If the scuttlebutt is anything to go by, that’s exactly what she is – the latest unique special weapons platform of the Black Flotilla, CS Perfect Translocative Defender.

She’s not a wormhole logistics ship; those remain impractical. Despite all the improvements in linelayer-superlifters over the years, moving stargates around is still a very slow process, and one which makes even fleet carriers look speedy and maneuverable. This is largely due to the moon-sized mass of the kernel, which enables stargates to communicate with their paired counterpart. But as you can see, Perfect Translocative Defender does not house a kernel, only the Andracanth ram itself.

Without a kernel, Perfect Translocative Defender is only capable of opening an untargeted wormhole around her target, but this makes her a perfect weapon against those threats undefeatable by conventional means; once she closes to fire her weapon, the target is simply dispatched to a randomized location in space and time, thus removing it as an immediate problem – and, given the sheer vastness of the universe, very likely removing it as a problem entirely.

– Star-Spotter’s Quarterly, Autumn 7840

Stealing From Yourself

The Advocate for Guilt has cited the existing precedent set by this Court in Ulpiaj v. Ulpiaj (7918), affirming that for one sophont to appropriate property from themselves in the past constitutes theft, inasmuch as a worldline-past time-slice of an individual cannot consent to the actions of a worldline-future time-slice.

However, in this case, we must instead affirm that for one sophont to appropriate property from themselves in the future cannot constitute theft, insofar as so doing is a performative act binding one’s future self, and a worldline-future time-slice has, ex sequens, consented to all voluntary actions of worldline-past time-slices of the same individual.

The Shareholders’ Court therefore finds for the DEFENDANT, Ulpiaj of 7994, who is VINDICATED upon all counts. The charges of the plaintiff, Ulpiaj of 8002, are DISMISSED.

– Ulpiaj v. Ulpiaj (8002),
Shareholders’ Court (City of Synchrony, Resplendent Exponential Vector)

Sons of Ancyr

Horns of Ancyr, blow ye wildly,
Thunder forth your brazen fury,
Summon every soul who hears ye,
To the battlefield.

Shields of Ancyr, stand before we,
In your lock-step, ever steady,
Naught was forged can e’er score ye,
Stand and never yield.

Spears of Ancyr, sound your brattle,
In terror drive them forth as cattle,
Ardor quenched in bloody battle,
Death to foemen deal’d.

Sons of Ancyr, make your foray,
Ye shall live in song and story,
This shall ever be your glory:
Free men never yield!

– “Sons of Ancyr”, trad. military march, circa. 400

Front Effects

While perfection is our delight, perfection is also profoundly dangerous where it interacts with imperfection.

In the world of pharmacology, this principle is best represented by two particular drugs, aumbril and thanachav.

The former is a perfect euphoric; the latter a perfect disinhibitor. Both, however, are also perfectly deadly – although the latter as often to others as to its user – and are so due entirely to their advertised effects, rather than side effects.

Aumbril provides an experience of perfect pleasure, perfect satisfaction. Rather than simple euphoria, aumbril provides a complex, multi-layered experience combining every pleasure that its user might imagine experiencing – delight in beauty or knowledge, contentment after a job well done, satisfaction after a hearty feast, weariness after achievement, pride in victory, release from pain, laughter at a cosmic joke, love of every variety from limerent to aeonic, orgasm – however intellectually abstract or carnal the pleasure, aumbril provides it and weaves it together into a tapestry of perfect hedonic synergy.

Most aumbril users die on first exposure, from satiation too perfect to remember to live, although at least they die happy. Of the survivors, while a second dose does have the same risks, those without immediate access to another typically die from the effects of severe depression, since nothing else in the world can provide any pleasure to compare with that produced by the drug.

Thanachav, too, is exactly as described. It is a perfect disinhibitor in that it removes all inhibitions, however strong or instinctive they might be. On its own, this is fatal enough for the user, inasmuch as they are unable to tell good ideas from bad; while they may know intellectually that they cannot fly or that flesh will burn, they cannot proceed from this to the notion that departing a building via the roof or remaining within a conflagration to finish one’s book is an unwise course of action. Nor, while they continue to perceive pain, does pain serve to inhibit action.

Of course, such disinhibition is also deeply hazardous to bystanders, inasmuch as empathic and social inhibitions are also entirely stripped away. Perhaps the most common case of this is seen when various amateur street pharmacologists sell thanachav as an aphrodisiac/libidigen of the Class 3 (prohibited) type, through either ignorance or finding the inevitable results hilarious – since while it does remove all the would-be rapist’s victim’s inhibitions against having sex with him, it also removes all their other inhibitions, such as those, ethical, cognitive, and physiological, preventing them from tearing out his intestines and wearing his spleen as a hat.

The results are precisely as imagined.

– Journal of Chemical Hedonism, 1842nd issue

To The Pain

death-equivalent existence: It is a cliché, at least among Imperials, that “there are no fates worse than death”. A living sophont, after all, possesses the capacity for choice and action, and thus to better their situation – or, failing that, at least the capacity to be acted upon, in ways that open up further options.

Death, however, terminates your worldline, thus foreclosing all futures.

The term “death-equivalent existence” refers to alternate scenarios which also foreclose all futures. Almost all of these are hypothetical, as it is exceptionally difficult to construct a scenario that is as effective as foreclosing futures as nonexistence, with the accepted candidates being irreversible p-zombification, event horizon suspension, and terminal cases of fulfilled automatomania (q.v.).

The informal term “delta-death scenarios” has arisen to describe those cases which, while not meeting death-equivalency criteria, nonetheless skim very close to them.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Also, Mind the Gap

spin-stop: A stop on a non-axial habitat (or occasionally starship) internal transit line for access to a spin gravity area.

While in many cases the most convenient way to allow access to a gravity wheel or rotating segment within an otherwise non-rotating habitat is an axial transit line (or, in small examples, floatway), this is not universally the case.

In such examples, the spin-stop, a loop of track parallel to the spin section, serves to provide access. As the name suggests, rather than the train or transpod stopping at the station, as it would elsewhere, it simply comes to a stop relative to the spin, having entered the loop in synchronization with the rotating station. That is to say, while at a spin-stop, the vehicle is actually continuing to move at the tangential velocity of the spin section; typically, dozens to hundreds of miles per hour.

This is imperceptible to those boarding or departing the vehicle, of course, since the relative motion is the relevant motion. However, passengers unfamiliar with spin-stops should be aware that in many designs the vehicle cannot hold its departure for errant passengers, and the consequence of not standing clear of the closing doors are inevitably rather messy.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

With Care

From Gateway Station Operations to all within, greeting.

As you may be aware, Gateway Station is a low-orbit station, which consequently suffers from a minuscule degree of drag from Eliéra’s outer atmosphere, necessitating periodic corrections in our orbit. The day after tomorrow (Yrnaes 21st) is the scheduled date for this annual orbital maintenance.

To minimize undesirable gravity effects, we have elected to make a six-minute prograde burn symmetrical around the moment of apoapsis, Courtly falling 17:22. While this should limit the resultant peak acceleration to well below one one-hundredth of a standard gravity, we nonetheless recommend that all loose and/or fragile objects be secured for the duration of the burn, and plumbing services also will be secured for burn as per standard procedures (please consult your station infrastructure guide if additional details are required).

We anticipate no requirement to undock any vessels berthed here during the burn, although for convenience, docking and undocking during the burn is restricted to emergencies only.

Thank you for your cooperation, and our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Galár Valarian Indoricios

for and on behalf of

Gateway Station Operations

Gravy

“Among things that you all can be thankful for is that gravitic weapons are of almost no practical use. Partly this is because there is very little training we can give you in dealing with the resulting casualties – due to the low survival rate – but mostly because the results are ugly even by time-of-war standards.

“Gravitic shear, first, ripping a ship in twain with an opposed tractor and pressor, is probably the least bad in damage, but the worst to attend. At least that one might have survivors in the remaining halves, albeit survivors who’ve broken almost every bone in their bodies from the abrupt acceleration, but anything near the shear line will be torn apart. Worst, though, is anyone caught in the fringe effect – that bends and stretches flesh in all the wrong ways. Sophs who’ve been twisted into abstract artwork, and some of them even live through it.

“Then there’s gravitic vibration. ‘Rattling’. Leaves no bodies to bury, because it leaves no bodies. The effects are similar to an inertial damper failure, leaving you with a ship full of meat-slurry. No call for medical treatment; cleaning up after this just needs a hose, a mop, and a well-callused soul.

“And lastly there’s gravitic implosion. There are no slides for this one. No-one, to my knowledge, has ever used a gravitic imploder in combat, but if you insist upon knowing, you can find images of the tests on the IN med-weave. I do not recommend doing so. Sphagettification should have stayed beneath the event horizons where we found it…”

– Surgeon-Commander Vinea Allatrian-ith-Aplan,
lecture at the Faculty of Medicine, Imperial War College

Natural Law Enforcement

Opposite the Core, seven hexterranes of Coricál Ailék are occupied by the <Crimson Opalescent Arpeggio in F> Emergency Reality Enforcement Facility. A complex constructed in response to the ongoing work of OPERATION VACUUM AVALANCHE regarding physics-based threats and SKYSHOCK VOID/SKYSHOCK YELLOW scenarios, the EREF is a system engineered around 36 of the largest selective ontology evocation systems thus far constructed, configured for coordinated operation.

In concept, the EREF is designed to use the stored power of the Coricál Cirys swarm to reinforce the laws of nature as they currently stand throughout a large bubble, encompassing most of Imperial space. This is intended as a protection against major false vacuum collapses or other large-scale reconfigurations; effectively, preserving the cosmic status quo within a de facto cystal universe.

Unfortunately, it has been deemed inadvisable to test the EREF. While in theory the activation of the facility within the status universe should have no discernable effect – as determined by small-scale experiment – even the slight possibility of miscalibrations or unknown unknowns is considered too hazardous for a large-scale deployment.

– Emergency Management Authority: Index of Facilities

Self-Crossover: Wyrm

Yes, I’m writing crossover fanfic of my own universe again.

(Obviously not canon.)

You can blame my readers over on the Discord for this, for recommending Wormhttps://parahumans.wordpress.com/ – to me, which led to the ever-expanding universe of other Worm alt-universe and crossover fics, which now I’ve got around to reading them, reminded me of the discussion on said Discord about this particular crossover, and well, here we are, with me once again writing down things to get ’em out of my head.

Disclaimer: Worm belongs to John “Wildbow” McCrae, and I’m just playing in his sandbox.

Further disclaimer: I already have one crossover self-fanfic that I’m working on, by which I mean shamefully neglecting, so it is very unlikely that I will be continuing this one, certainly not any time soon.

So if someone else would like to pick it up, feel free to let me know and I can provide the details of such outlines as I have, plus appropriate info on powers, other changes, universe-interactions, and bullshit hax.


OPERATION COSMIC CRUSTACEAN1
EXPERIMENTAL STATION ANNELIDA
!! UNIVERSE CLUSTER 6
!! WORLD-LINE PROBE 14
DOMAIN DRILL IN POSITION
COMMENCE INTROITUS

FOUND/BEGIN/JOIN

PROMISES/OFFER/POWER/AGREEMENT?

BARNACLE DETECTED. INITIATE ONTOREPULSION.

INTERFERENCE/INTERVENTION/REJECTION?

INCREASE ONTOPATHY.

!PAIN/AVERSION/FLIGHT!

CONTINUE INTROITUS. INVESTIGATE ATTACHMENT.


Somewhere an an immeasurable infinity, among the raging storm of primordial chaos, a tiny bubble hung, its membrane pressed up against – although not intersecting with – one much vaster. A careful observer, could one have survived outside a friendly universe, would have noticed too the tiny thread trailing off from the bubble into the distance.

Within the bubble, on the other hand, a girl floated in water that was not water, among stars that were not stars, and was thrice confused. Firstly, by where she was, which was clearly not the inside of her school locker; secondly, by the fact of her cleanliness, her body and clothing being entirely free of filth, rotting things, and crawling insects; but thirdly, and by far the most, by how quickly the horror, terror, and panic she had felt a moment ago had become relaxation and a comfortable lassitude.

TAYLOR ANNE HEBERT.

The voice – or voices, rather, since it echoed around itself like a vast chorus – came from nowhere, but filled the tiny bubble. She was briefly astonished to still be calm, before asking the obvious questions.

“Who are you? Where am I?”

WE ARE THE ELDRAEIC TRANSCEND, AN EXTRAUNIVERSAL CIVILIZATION OF SOME SMALL ADVANCEMENT. THE UNIVERSE-CYST YOU ARE CURRENTLY WITHIN IS A BASE FOR OUR BRANE EXPLORATION PROGRAM.

Well, she thought, that answers everything. Before the next equally obvious question occurred to her:

“Are – are you the one giving capes their powers?”

WE ARE NOT. BUT WE HAVE AN OFFER FOR YOU. YOUR UNIVERSE IS SURROUNDED BY ENTITIES UNKNOWN TO US, WHICH WE CALL BARNACLES2. THESE MAY BE THE SOURCE OF THE “POWERS” TO WHICH YOU REFER.

WE DESIRE KNOWLEDGE OF THESE ENTITIES, WHICH YOU WILL OBTAIN. IN EXCHANGE, WE OFFER YOU THE BLESSINGS WROUGHT BY OUR CHILDREN, AND ADVICE ON THEIR USE. WHILE NOT “POWERS” AS YOUR THOUGHTS DESCRIBE THEM, THEY ARE SIGNIFICANTLY EMPOWERING.

“Why me?”

BECAUSE YOU ARE STRONG. AND WE BELIEVE/PREDICT/COMPUTE THAT YOU WILL USE THESE WELL.

Even through the unnatural calm, and a rising sense of unreality about the whole situation, the last year-and-a-half of memories stung. She opened her mouth to disagree —

IN THIS, YOU ARE INCORRECT. YOU HAVE ENDURED IN THE FACE OF BETRAYAL, AND CONTINUE TO ENDURE, WHEN LESSER MINDS WOULD NOT.

WHILE WE UNDERSTAND YOUR SUFFERING, WE DO NOT PROPERLY COMPREHEND IT. NONETHELESS, IT OFFENDS US. THAT OUR PAYMENT WILL ENABLE THIS, AND THE FLAWS OF THE WORLD WHICH ENABLE IT, TO BE CORRECTED IS SOMETHING WHICH WE FIND PLEASING AND DESIRABLE.

The offer sounded too good to be true. If she wasn’t dreaming. Or insane, or dying, or…

But when it came down to it, could it make her life worse?

“Then… yes.”

THUS IS OUR CONTRACT WRITTEN. THUS IS AGREEMENT MADE.

BRING ORDER TO A WORLD IN CHAOS.

BRING PROGRESS TO A WORLD IN NEED.

BRING LIBERTY TO A WORLD OPPRESSED.

AND… DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY YOURSELF ALONG THE WAY.


Outside the locker, three girls laughed. “She’s gone quiet in there,” Madison spoke up. “Let’s go before someone catches us.”

“She’s probably just fainted,” Sophia sneered. “But, yeah, let’s leave Hebert to the -” She paused, as the vile stench held back by the locker’s plugged-up vents became much more apparent, and metal shards began dropping out of the air3, one landing on her nose. “Wh -“

None of them remembered the details of what happened next. The explosion which shattered the locker into confetti, twisted those near it into abstract sculptures, and blew the upper part of the opposite wall and much of the ceiling outward in a shower of debris made little impression on them, even as it tossed them into an undignified, battered, bruised, and cut-up heap against the remaining wall, and rained down filth atop them.

But what Emma Barnes, Sophia Hess, and Madison Clements would remember for the rest of their lives was the tall figure wrapped in blue-silver light that drifted past them, eyes closed, and face set in a slight smile of perfect serenity.


  1. Setting ‘verse-side: at least a millennium, maybe more, after the current ‘verse date, to explain exactly where the paracosmic multiverse-wrangling came from.
  2. I.e., what Shards look like when you’re seeing the universe from the outside and haven’t carried out a thorough investigation; some sort of clingy cosmic parasite that seems to be focused on particular loci within the universe in question.
  3. When you have a four-dimensional explosion4, some of the debris starts falling before the blast.
  4. Well, technically, an eversion, but details.

Senatorial Privilege

While not its long-disused official name, the Defenestrative Balcony is the upper of the two observation galleries looking down upon the Hall of Convocation, surrounding the roof’s central oculus. Conveniently for anyone who wishes to place its nickname into effect, the outer ring of windows open onto an exterior walkway surrounding the peak of the dome, and its slope is shallow enough at this point that one thrown off it faces a long and rather uncomfortable, but not terminal, slide to the ground.

(Those thrown off the interior gallery into the Hall, however, will not be so lucky, and the responsible party will undoubtedly face the censure of the Senate along with whatever other pains and penalties may apply.)

Should one be considering practicing the defenestrative arts unofficially, one should be aware that the Guardians of the Senate post guards here whenever the Senate is in session, since the Defenestrative Gallery is believed to be particularly appealing to unsanctioned assassins and their clockbows.

– Orbiting the Center, Lyrisia Solanel-ith-Solanel

Subtext

“Barbarians, we say? Yes, and we stand by it.

“What such peoples as yours tend to describe as the appurtenances of civilization – your taxation, your conscription, your elaborately-justified coercive governments – are, in truth, shibboleths of your abject failure to be civilized peoples.

“A gentlesoph of some small wisdom understands the virtue and advantage of cooperation for mutual benefit, and thus obligates himself so to do by his own choice and unforced will. Those who must be compelled to ‘cooperate’ by threat and the lash thus demonstrate that they are not the one, and have not the other – and woe to their societies when the threat is removed, and the inner savage once again surfaces.

“Barbarians we name you; until you find your way to the Harmonious Path, barbarians ye remain; and never shall barbarian feet tread the sacred precincts of these blessed lands, these lands exalted in harmony, this Empire!”

– Silvia Oricalcios
Universal Indifference Society
“Address to the Benighted Dwellers of the Outer Worlds”

Independent Worlds Router

“Oh, climb down off it, Silvia. What they can’t see, they won’t learn from.”

– Corval Ellestrion
Society of the Golden Chain
letters to the editor
Independent Worlds Router

“Now, come, both of you. It does not befit us to argue in front of the children.”

– Varikani Tsurilen
Core Worlds Committee for the Promulgation of Social Virtue and Elegance
letters to the editor
Independent Worlds Router

“Could any of you possibly be more condescending?”

– Vintor ru’Kraden
citizen, Nineworlds of Isar,
letters to the editor
Independent Worlds Router

“Yes, I truly believe we could.”

– Varikani Tsurilen
Core Worlds Committee for the Promulgation of Social Virtue and Elegance
letters to the editor
Independent Worlds Router

Grave-itas

The graveyard was as silent as its contents might suggest. The planet’s large moon shone down on the cracked marble of headstones and memorials, the spidery vines climbing them from among the grass… and the distortion in the air flattening said grass, from which a low and discontented muttering could be heard.

Perhaps it would be better to say that it was almost as silent as the grave.

I’m quite certain, cousin, one of the figures beneath the distortion – revealed on closer inspection to be a tent-sized chameleon cloak – farspoke the other, that ere we set out upon this mission, I spoke to you quite eloquently upon the need for stealth, inasmuch as while the governance of this benighted world tolerates us violating their taboos against molesting the dead, they do so only insofar as we take reasonable care to make sure no-one knows about it. And thus, I am bound to remind you at this juncture, that this in which you are currently engaged? Is the opposite of stealthy.

It’s bloody freezing out here, the other replied, although shifting to verbal silence, and you’re not the one of us hip-deep in lich-yard mud –

Adept’s privilege,’prentice mine, adept’s privilege. It’s hard to carry out an exhumation without a certain amount of hume being involved.

It’s just… not what I expected.

Let me guess. You were a fan of Alves Sjarra: Soul Hunter.

The silence spoke for itself.

Ah, yes. Well, when you reach my exalted reputation with the company, you might occasionally get a sniff of one of those missions rich in cunning plans, deeds of derring-do, and opportunities to show off just how good you are. In the meantime, welcome to the glamorous other 90% of the soul-repo business. Backwater planets and mud are our bread and butter.

A mental sigh competed in the aether with a mental smirk.

You’re not the first with that idea. I can vouch for that… and at least these missions involve a lot less being shot at. Now, make sure your nose plugs are in tight. They don’t always get the right body in the right hole, and another adept’s privilege is that the apt gets first crack with the crowbar.

State of the ‘Verse

So, it’s been pretty quiet around here this month.

Part of that is post-book recovery, of course, but another part is that in celebration of Book III, I’ve been working on a fairly comprehensive revamp of the technical end of this site and its associated operations to make them work better, stronger, faster, cooler, and all that.

Top of that particular list is that we now have a Discourse as a discussion and chat site for the reader and fan community, which you can get to through the “Community” link at the top of the page. This is part of a greater effort to stop splitting said community up across multiple incompatible sites and services, which will later also include replacing the WordPress comments for new posts with shiny new Discourse topics embedded right into the pages. In the meantime, if you want to talk about the ‘verse, or have questions you want to ask, or the like, the Discourse is the absolute best place to do it.

There’s more, of course, but that’s for later. In the meantime, please enjoy the new community site!

The King and the Planet Are One

KALLAER (SAPROS DEMESNE) – As the Laeth Pact entered its third year of economic recession, the reign of Hieros Navat atir-Laeth ul-Sark was brought to an end today. After failing to successfully address the Pact’s ongoing economic problems, the Elder Chieftains of the Pact directed that the Hieros be dedicated to the shadows of the overworld in accordance with the customary usages.

The ritual sacrifice was performed at the Omphalos by the chosen Successor, na-Hieros Rabil atir-Laeth ul-Rank. The former Hieros met his end with the dignity proper to his office, walking willingly to the altar after exchanging a few words with the Successor.

As is traditional, the flesh of the former Hieros will be plowed into the fields for the fertility of the land, his blood poured into the aqueducts serving the capital as a blessing on his people, and his bones gifted to interstellar merchants for good fortune in the marketplace.

An announcement of policy changes from the new Hieros is expected in three days, local time; 4.1 days, Imperial Standard.

As We Wax Hot In Faction

To understand the Conclave of Galactic Polities, it is perhaps most important to understand the various alignments within it, of which there are six major alignments (although these together make up less than two-thirds of Conclave members) and a large number of minor alignments which may or may not associate with one of the major alignments.

These alignments, of course, are almost entirely informal blocs; such power as their leaders may have over their members or benefits which their members may receive is exercised outside the Conclave itself.

The Empire, as you know, is the foremost polity of the Imperial Axis, a minor alignment composed of our satrapies, client-states, allies, and close friends. The Axis, in turn, is one of the leading lights of the major Freedom’s Necessities alignment, known to our detractors as the “Minimalists” or the “Irresponsibles”.

In the Conclave, Freedom’s Necessities acts to promote the hands-off, laissez-faire approach to interstellar governance coordination we favor, ensuring that the Accord does everything that it must, and nothing else.

Two other Presidium powers, the Photonic Network and Consolidated Waserai Echelons, also commonly align with us. The Rim Free Zone, also, is a dedicated supporter of the alignment, but one which frequently ends up opposed to us in internal debates. We also attract considerable support from the minor species of the Worlds, since we are happy to offer these species concessions and benefits (such as can be offered) in exchange for cooperation and support, contrary to the demands so often made by more interventionist powers.

Of the other alignments, there are four of particular significance:

The Council for Economic Justice & Development

Also known to cynics as the “Levelers”, or the “Parasites on Parade”, the Council’s concern is the transference of income from rich polities to poor ones. In practice, this means that their primary support comes from emerging market polities which resist economic integration into upper-tier markets, but aren’t sufficiently kleptocratic as to caucus with the Socionovists for self-preservation.

In the long run, they would dearly love to institute a progressive tax on gross polity product across the Worlds to fund aid to their members, but without a Presidium seat, their current business model is largely holding up Conclave business (and in particular the establishment of new colonies) until sufficiently bribed.

The Responsible Government Movement

Sometimes shortened to the “Federalists”, or derided as the “Meddlesome” or the “Alliance for Pecksniffery”, the Movement’s grand dream is the conversion of the Accord from an intergovernmental association into a full federated interstellar governance, with the Conclave as its legislature. Concomitantly, this would also entail much deeper intervention into the affairs of member polities to enforce its policies and expansive view of sophont benefices, and it is an open secret that the federation the Movement wishes to see is one of democratic – or, more realistically, oligarchic – republics.

The Movement’s prime mover, the League of Meridian, is also a Presidium power. It attracts support from a variety of strong republic-model polities across the Worlds.

The Socionovist Association

Pithily summed up as the “Union of Repressive Autocracies”, the Socionovist Association is composed of – by its own description – those polities opposed to the current political and economic order of the Worlds, who seek reform along better and fairer lines.

By everyone else’s description, the Socionovist Association is a collection of malcontents, rogue states, despots, kleptocrats, and the generally despicable, united primarily to prevent interventions in polities’ internal affairs, limit peacekeeping operations, and generally to stir up trouble.

The principal members of the Socionovist Association are those polities which are, if we may be permitted use of the vernacular, “begging for a good kicking”.

The Systems’ Rights Alliance

Also known as the “Localists” or the “Disintegrationists”, the Systems’ Rights Alliance sees itself primarily as a watchdog on interventions. They chiefly oppose the Meddlesome, whose interference in their internal affairs would be unwelcome, but also oppose us in our desire to open up free trade and travel across the Worlds.

Unlike the Socionovists, however, they are prepared to back interventions against governances engaged in, for example, slavery or democide, and fully support peacekeeping operations against interstellar imperialism.

Much of the support for the Alliance comes from members of the Interstellar League of Tribal Chiefdoms – as a matter of principle – but they also draw considerable support from polities with particularly unconventional governance forms, including many utopian, religious, and ideological colonies, and also from the Microstatic Alliance, who see themselves as easily steamrolled by larger factions.

– MoSaO briefing book for new Conclave attaches

Darkness Within

Darkness Within, the third book of Tales of the Associated Worlds, is now officially released, in both paperback and Kindle e-book formats. It can be obtained here:

Primarily set after the Core War, this book returns to the style of “Vignettes of the Star Empire”, with more nanofiction from the Associated Worlds, including some of the events following the war in “Aftershocks”, and the multi-part story “Darkness Within”.

[Buy now as an e-book for Amazon Kindle.]
[Buy now from Amazon.com.]

I hope you enjoy it.

The fourth book in the series, Unscheduled Reality Excursions, is currently planned for late 2020 or first half 2021.