“Having adjudged those persons here present to constitute a riotous assembly within the meaning of the Act thereupon, and by that Mandate which I hold and which I serve, I charge and command ye all, in the Voice of Their Divine Majesties, immediately to lay down arms and submit yourselves in peace to the Constabulary, that fair judgement may be laid upon ye, or else by your actions renounce any rights and claims in citizen-shareholdership and declare yourselves subject to such pains and penalties as the law does prescribe for the common enemies of sophontkind.”
shrieker: (also ping-pedo) a single-shot directional EM pulse generator mounted in a capsule suitable for mass driver deployment.
It is a truism of tactics that active sensors, while much more effective than passive sensors, can rarely be used since they are even more effective at disclosing the user’s position to other vessels. The shrieker represents a compromise with this truism; given effective localization and a little mathematics, there is no necessity for the sensor emitter and the sensor receiver to be in the same location. Thus, it provides the means to implement this by emitting the radar/lidar pulse from a point distant from the launching vessel.
The shrieker is far from a perfect solution. It provides partial information on the location of its launcher, especially if the pre-pulse run is short, or the opposition’s sensors are sufficiently sensitive to pick up Doppler distortion in the emitted pulse; and deployments are limited inasmuch as, although directional, a shrieker can only be used in situations in which its pulse will not illuminate the launching vessel or other friendlies to the passive sensors of the opposition. Nonetheless, the additional information provided by even limited active sensor capability can make all the difference in a tactical situation.
– Blackjacket’s Dictionary
(Obvious idea is obvious.)
walkplate (n.): A walkway for magnetic boots (q.v.). Since starship hulls in the modern era are manufactured from a variety of light composites very few of which are significantly ferromagnetic, such walkplates are necessary to enable crewers on EVA to remain attached to the ship.
While early examples of walkplates were simply bolted to the hull, recent designs – preferring to maintain clean lines for the sake of elegance – embed a thin mesh of iron-alloy within the outermost layers of the hull structure, sufficient to be gripped by heel and toe electromagnets. Embedded v-tag transmitters and/or hull markings provide guidance as to which parts of the hull can safely be walked upon.
– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary
PROCEDURES IN THE EVENT OF IRREVERSIBLE CONTAMINATION
In the event of irreversible contamination by biological or nanotechnological plagues, and standard quarantine responses are deemed insufficient, either (a) as declared by consensus of the Flight Commander, Environmental Systems Engineer, and Flight Surgeon, or (b) as imposed by order of a duly authorized representative of the Emergency Management Authority, the following actions are to be undertaken:
- The Flight Commander is authorized to maintain order aboard by any means necessary, including the use of lethal force in such circumstances where it would not otherwise be permissible.
- All airlocks and spacetight doors providing sophont access to the exterior of the vessel are to be placed in the closed and sealed state; their local control systems rendered inert by null-flashing; and secured in the sealed state by welding or other permanent closure.
- All other apertures, of whatever purpose, providing access to the exterior of the vessel are to be placed in the closed and sealed state; their local control systems rendered inert by null-flashing; and secured in the sealed state by welding or other permanent closure. This is to include all apertures used for the jettisoning of waste, and all radiator systems in which coolant is exposed directly to space, without exception.
- The Flight Commander shall designate the most appropriate compartment within the vessel for the temporary storage of such waste material as can no longer be jettisoned and for known-contaminated material that cannot be properly disposed of, including corpses.
- Once a stable orbit which does not take the vessel into the local forbidden zone of planets, moons, habitats, or other bodies (see Quarantine) has been established, the flight control systems of the vessel, including local drive controllers, are to be shut down and rendered inert by null-flashing.
- All running lights of the vessel are to be configured to display the “death ship” pattern, as prescribed by the Imperial Navigation Act: a 2p period of yellow-quarantine alternating with a 1p period of crimson-caution.
- An EM beacon is to be configured on the local-distress channel, broadcasting the following repeating message: ALERT CASE ICHOR I SAY AGAIN ALERT CASE ICHOR. VESSEL [registered name] IS UNDER SEQUESTRATION. DO NOT APPROACH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. IGNORE ALL CONTRADICTORY TRANSMISSIONS. MESSAGE REPEATS.
- If the vessel possesses a point-defense system, this system is to be configured to fire upon any other vessel attempting to dock with or otherwise close to within the forbidden quarantine zone (see Quarantine) of the irreversibly contaminated vessel, other than a vessel whose transponder is signed with the Emergency Management Authority private key.
- At the Flight Commander’s discretion, euthanatoics may be issued to passengers and crew.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS A VESSEL MARKED BY THE PREVIOUSLY SPECIFIED SIGNALS TO BE APPROACHED BY ANY OTHER VESSEL OTHER THAN IN RESPECT OF SPECIFIC ORDERS ISSUED BY THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY.
Any vessel which
- docks with; or
- takes aboard passengers, cargo, flotsam, jetsam, or debris from; or
- enters any emissions plume, from any source whatsoever, of;
an irreversibly contaminated vessel shall itself be deemed irreversible contaminated, and all the foregoing procedures and warnings shall apply to it in like wise.
IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC ORDERS ISSUED BY THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY, ANY IRREVERSIBLY CONTAMINATED VESSEL SHALL BECOME SUBJECT TO ARBITRARY DESTRUCTION BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES NO FEWER THAN 72 HOURS POST-DETECTION, PROVIDED THAT SAID LOCAL AUTHORITIES COMMAND MEANS TO DO SO IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CAUTERY PROTOCOL, LATEST ISSUED REVISION, ENSURING THE SAFE DISPOSAL AND NON-DISPERSAL OF CONTAMINANTS.
Just to clarify the capabilities of those mass drivers, and note, this is back-envelope work.
So, we’re going to stick a big dumb projectile in the breech. By big, dumb projectile we mean a 2400 mm k-slug of soft iron (iron being cheap as dirt, and really, what it’s made of doesn’t matter all that much in this application), and we’ll call it a 2400 mm diameter cylinder, 4800 mm long. That’s 22 m3 of iron, massing 173 metric tons.
If we crank a Leviathan primary up to full power, we’re going to be sticking about 10.1 exawatts (usable) in the flash accumulators; that’ll accelerate that projectile at around 1.1 million gravities for close to a second, meaning it leaves the muzzle with a velocity of 0.036 c, i.e., in the low-relativistic regime. Impact energy delivered to the target is on the order of 2.4 gigatons.
This, needless to say, is way too much boom for almost all practical applications, and no-one routinely stocks that kind of k-slug or runs their mass drivers at that power level, not least because it’s gonna take enough time for the shipboard powerplant to put ten exawatt-seconds in the flash accumulators that you sure aren’t going to be able to fire one of those shots every second, or anything close enough to it to avoid being a big, fat, wallowing target. There are uses for Mighty Glaciers and uses for Glass Cannons, but there’s no use at all for something that’s both.
But if you happened to be interested in what the hardware could deliver if you wanted to comically overkill something with no means whatsoever of fighting back, there are your numbers.
“The best approach to peacekeeping is the sophont-friendly one.
“This is standard doctrine. Most sophonts resent being policed by machines – unfeeling, uncaring, unstoppable. They can’t be negotiated with; can’t empathize; can’t offer even a moment of understanding. A mailed fist without a velvet glove. Thus, our peacekeeping brigades, providing the essential sophont touch.
“This doctrine is supported by every memetic and sociodynamic study that has been done on the topic. The Empire knows this: it produced most of them. Don’t ever think that they don’t know this.
“They just don’t care.
“Should you find yourself cross-assigned with the Imperial Navy on one of their rare peacekeeping operations, you will find that the opinion of their hainadar is that all the peacekeeping in the world isn’t worth one drop of indigo, white, or any other color of blood, and that the people being peacekept stopped deserving such consideration at the moment when they started being people who needed to be peacekept. They keep the peace from high orbit, with surveillance dust and KEWs and standard-issue war drones cruising through the streets with smart hunter micromissiles. Zero risk.
“If it takes a little longer, costs a little more in blood and treasure on the other side… well, it’s all going on their account in the end, isn’t it? Just as it would in their domestic law. No friend ever did an Imperial a favor without being repaid in full, so goes the saying, but on such a secondment, never forget that it goes both ways, to the last duodecimal.”
– excerpt from a lecture given by General Toris Politeran
at the Echelonic Battle Scholium,
Sentrivass (Moerid Nest)
Okay. I regret having to do this, because by and large I enjoy engaging with my readers and satisfying their curiosity, but —
I am, as of now, declaring a complete, conclusive, and perpetual moratorium on all “gotcha” questions. (I am not providing a definition, because definitions can be gamed; if you think it’s one, it probably is.) This is because endless nitpicking of edge cases in legal, ethical, and social systems are – whether or not it’s intentional – turning my openness into an Internet comments section on a political web site, and are about as enjoyable to engage with as an Internet comments section on a political web site. This is, obviously, rather toxic to my creativity, mood, and digestion, even leaving aside that most readers, I believe, would rather that I wrote new stuff rather than reciting Space Libertarianism 101.
Other questions – even on legal and ethical issues – continue to be welcome, but you may feel free to assume that in this particular area, if an outcome seems Obviously Bloody Stupid, that it doesn’t work that way in the absence of citeable canon evidence that it does without needing me to explain to you exactly how.
That is all, and this change in policy is not up for debate.