Beneath Their Wings

the Empire’s Shadow: the common and collective name for a group of organizations on the interstellar scene in the Associated Worlds, loosely defined as those organizations which are not in and of themselves arms of Imperial policy, but which take immoderate advantage of their chosen work not being illegal by Imperial standards, and the general reluctance of most polities to provoke the friendly neighborhood dragon. (Also known as “the Empress’s skirts”, presumably a metonym for what they are hiding behind.)

Among the most well-known of these are the Agalmic Information Foundation (freedom of information), the Astrapostale (mail delivery… everywhere), Celeritous Exit (snakeheading), the Council for the Promotion of Scientific Irresponsibility (freedom of research), the Eldinimieuthunumis (that fun which is oft called vice), the Freedom’s Seed COG (exporting revolution), the Holy Order of Deoclasts (antimissionaries), the Inevitable Justice Foundation (prosecuting crimes against sophoncy), the Last Gleam Preservers (saving souls), the Means of Defense COG (the right and means to bear arms), Miscegenation Nation (supporting interspecies and other unconventional relationships), the Secret-Keepers (cryptography, cryp, and data havens), the Technic Imperative (access to tools and concepts), the rare filibustering TTGs, and some indeed would argue much of the Starfall Arc Free Merchant Confraternity (smuggling).

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Force Not Required

“Always remember: memetics is no more and no less than the science of ideas. Applied memetics, therefore, is no more and no less than advanced persuasion. Memetics cannot impose ways of thought. Memetics alone cannot correct biases, or determine truth, or override the will. And no memetic technology can force someone to believe anything.”

– The Iron Rule of Memetics, Acad. Lí Amarens

“Holy fire-spitting crapsticks, is there anything these morons won’t believe?”

– Alseyn’s Corollary

Time Travelers Strictly Crypto

PROTOCOL OROELLE BLUESHIFT FRATERNAL

UNCLASSIFIED (INFRARED)

FOR PUBLIC RELEASE

SUMMARY:

A protocol to verify the identify and whenwhere of purported time-travelers from future dates, claiming to be about Imperial business.

PROCEDURE:

  1. Secure from the purported time-traveler his Oroelle-block verification code and its random reference number, along with the precise time and date at which they retrieved their verification code from the Temporal Routing Vault. If the time-traveler cannot provide these, it is to be assumed that the time-traveler’s identity is false.
  2. Ensure that no verification code presently exists in the Temporal Routing Vault matching the random reference number provided.
  3. Within the quantum security mesh-encapsulated cryptoblock provided by the Temporal Routing Vault, generate a new Oroelle-block continuously mutating code-engine using any ISE-P93 compliant source of genuine noise available to you, attach the random reference number to it, and escrow it therein, coded appropriately for release to the time-traveler’s purported identity and affiliation.
  4. Using the resulting cryptoblock, execute the code-engine’s inverse trapdoor function on the Oroelle-block verification code. If the code was indeed read from the code-engine at the specified time and date, this procedure should recreate the initial seed information provided by the generator and the cryptoblock will indicate its validity. Having done so, the cryptoblock will decline to match any further verification codes. Should validation fail, the cryptoblock will continue to test matches.
  5. If the code seed properly validates, the time traveler is to be considered legitimate. Report their presence to the Slipshank PWG and extend appropriate cooperation at your discretion.

Since the information needed to generate and/or validate the Oroelle-block verification code does not exist until after the code has been presented and is retained in non-observable storage (i.e., storage which self-destructs upon observation without revealing its contents) until the time for its release, assuming indicated security procedures are followed, the OROELLE BLUESHIFT FRATERNAL procedure is considered to offer limited causal proof of a time traveler’s bona fides, with regard to identity and whenwhere of origin.

OROELLE BLUESHIFT FRATERNAL should not be considered proof against Transcendent-equivalent attack.

Squishy

COLLAPSITER (THRESHER MAELSTROM)

Special weapons package THRESHER MAELSTROM, or the collapsiter warhead, is a kugelblitz-based delivery system suitable for deployment from a large-bore heavy mass driver. Put simply, the principle of the collapsiter is the activation upon detonation of a spherical array of annihilation-pumped lasers focused on a single point, raising the mass-energy density of that point to such a degree that a black hole is formed, one which rapidly adds the remaining mass of the warhead to itself. The layout and activation of the array is computed to impart considerable angular momentum to the resulting hole.

The destructive effect of the collapsiter warhead comes primarily not from direct interaction, but rather from the shredding effect of the intense tidal forces exerted by the nascent hole upon objects in its vicinity. Conveniently, these are aligned perpendicular to the controllable rotation axis of the hole, making the collapsiter one of the few coplanar weapons systems in the armamentarium, if one discounts the secondary destructive effect of the eventual quantum evaporation of the kugelblitz and the return of the invested energy in the form of an intense particle radiation burst.

Collapsiter warheads, as relatively contained gravitic weapons capable of remote deployment, are also of particular note for their ability to disrupt and destroy via sharp inflection the controlled space-time distortions used in wormhole-based systems and other metric engineering technologies.

High-yield collapsiter warheads are considered Tier II prohibited weapons under the Ley Accords. However, in practice, the largest barrier to wider collapsiter deployment – bearing in mind the Ley Accords prohibition is on use rather than manufacture or deployment – is the outrageously high insurance rate charged by tort carriers for guaranteeing stargate leases for or in any polity known to deploy collapsiter-based weapons systems. As a corporation dependent upon metric engineering technologies and inasmuch as collapsiter warheads are one of the few weapons systems considered good candidates to overcome the vector-lock armoring of the stargates themselves, Ring Dynamics considers collapsiter deployment in or near systems they serve to warrant a highest-risk assessment.

– A Brief Guide to Special Weapons Packages, IN Press

Author on Authority

This is a little meta to begin with, but please do indulge me, for we will get there. It all started this morning when I happened to read this little piece of not-even-wrongitude:

Authority by consent is no authority at all, like I say. Unless you can force people to listen to you, they won’t obey commands unless they agree with them. And if they won’t obey commands unless they agree with them, you’re ultimately not leading anything, you’re a mouthpiece spouting what they want to hear.

Hold onto your togas, kids, we’re off to Rome, and we’re going to learn exactly what authority is by examining auctoritas. Your free clue is that it is precisely not what the above quotation claims it to be.

(Obviously, the Romans did have the concept of forcing people to listen to you and do what they’re told. That one wasn’t auctoritas, though. That was imperium, which is where the strapping lads [the lictors] with the bundle of sticks and an axe – yes, that one – would proceed to do the needful unto anyone who didn’t get with your program. This equipment and the chaps carrying it were a warning – who you were not, for the most part, allowed to go without – to everyone that you were allowed to deal out corporal and capital punishment.)

Auctoritas, from whence our authority (and also, point of curiosity, “author”) had approximately buggerall to do with the ability to force people to listen and obey, because the whole point of having auctoritas is that you don’t need to.

Let me quote Bret Devereaux’s excellent blog here:

Roman political speech, meanwhile, is full of words to express authority without violence. Most obviously is the word auctoritas, from which we get authority. J.E. Lendon (in Empire of Honor: The Art of Government in the Roman World (1997)), expresses the complex interaction whereby the past performance of virtus (‘strength, worth, bravery, excellence, skill, capacity,’ which might be military, but it might also by virtus demonstrated in civilian fields like speaking, writing, court-room excellence, etc) produced honor which in turn invested an individual with dignitas (‘worth, merit’), a legitimate claim to certain forms of deferential behavior from others (including peers; two individuals both with dignitas might owe mutual deference to each other). Such an individual, when acting or especially speaking was said to have gravitas (‘weight’), an effort by the Romans to describe the feeling of emotional pressure that the dignitas of such a person demanded; a person speaking who had dignitas must be listened to seriously and respected, even if disagreed with in the end. An individual with tremendous honor might be described as having a super-charged dignitas such that not merely was some polite but serious deference, but active compliance, such was the force of their considerable honor; this was called auctoritas. As documented by Carlin Barton (in Roman Honor: Fire in the Bones (2001)), the Romans felt these weights keenly and have a robust language describing the emotional impact such feelings had.

Note that there is no necessary violence here. These things cannot be enforced through violence, they are emotional responses that the Romans report having (because their culture has conditioned them to have them) in the presence of individuals with dignitas. And such dignitas might also not be connected to violence. Cicero clearly at points in his career commanded such deference and he was at best an indifferent soldier. Instead, it was his excellence in speaking and his clear service to the Republic that commanded such respect. Other individuals might command particular auctoritas because of their role as priests, their reputation for piety or wisdom, or their history of service to the community. And of course beyond that were bonds of family, religion, social group, and so on.

In ‘verse terms, now, while the correspondences aren’t absolutely perfect, what we are talking about is korás (“coercion”), the power to make people do what you want by threatening them (or more directly), versus argyr (“worth, merit”), and in the specific case of governance coronargyr (“sovereign’s merit”), that authority sufficient to lead the people to confer upon one the Imperial Mandate, that contract which gives one the power to rule.

(Most governances do try to make use of the latter as well as the former, even though/when the latter is the ultimate basis of their power, inasmuch as it’s very hard to have enough jackboots to keep everyone’s face stomped forever, and so not having to trot them out all the time is most convenient.)

The Empire, of course, is an extreme case of ruling, insofar as it is possible, only by coronargyr and banishing korás to solely those few responsive purposes laid out in the Fundamental Contract, on which it has no monopoly. This is something of a necessity when your citizens are (a) functionally unintimidatable, and (b) respect little except competence/virtue/excellence/awesomeness, which they respect greatly. You can’t drive people (i.e., what that initial quote thinks “leading” is) like that with any hope of long-term success; only lead them, and that by being so bloody good at it that people want to follow you.

Start thinking that they should follow you because of who you are, not what you can do, and you’ll swiftly find yourself here.

So, to sum up the thesis of this post:

  • A Society of Consent, like the Empire but also like any other number of actual-anarchist societies, does not have korás / coercion.
  • What it does have is argyr, or auctoritas. In fact, it has a lot of it, probably more than societies that are able to take the quick shortcut of substituting the former for the latter when it gets difficult.
  • Many of the most terribad arguments against consensual societies are assuming that opposing/eliminating the former necessarily means opposing/eliminating the latter, which it doesn’t. A gun is not an argument, but an argument isn’t a gun, either.

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

PREVIOUSLY

Ledger Embiggening, this is the captain of the armed vessel currently on intercept with you. As you have noticed, we have our weapons locked on you. Your options are these: cut your engines immediately, heave to, and permit us to board and claim whatever passengers and items of cargo we wish… or don’t, and we’ll slag your drive, then take your ship by force and have them anyway. You have until I get tired of waiting to decide. Over.”

“Unknown armed vessel, this is Ledger Embiggening. All our off-site backups are up-to-date and we have enabled our proximity-triggered spite charge, as required by the terms of our charter insurance carrier. I am legally required to advise you not to approach within 10,000 miles of this vessel under any circumstances. Your move. Ledger Embiggening, clear.”

PRESENT DAY

“And that’s how I lost this leg,” the former pirate slurred. “Also one kidney, three-quarters of my liver, both spleens, fifteen feet of assorted intestine, and a not inconsiderable portion of brain tissue.”

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

And next in our review of less conventional starship types, we come to that odd duck, the aerospace cruiser. (And many of these remarks, naturally, also apply to its larger cousin, the aerospace carrier.)

Ever since the early Imperial Navy absorbed the old air forces into its Close Orbit and Atmospheric Command (CLATMOCOM, under the Second Space Lord), these specialized classes and their equally specialist crewers have existed in something of a limbo, engaging in practices often deemed unnatural among decent, right-thinking spacers. Such as, if I may write in hushed tones for a moment, streamlining.

In short, while normally one can rely on a comfortable dichotomy between airships – which stay down in the nice, warm, notably present air – and starships – which avoid atmosphere in the much the same way that a thirsty Leirite avoids water – the aerospace cruiser defies this. While even the interface vehicles that bridge these two realms tend to minimize their time spent in the inconvenient middle, it spends all its operational time in a realm too low for low orbit and too high for upper atmosphere, being beholden to neither.

This requires a large number of rather unsettling compromises. Let’s begin our examination with the fundamental reason why: the entire purpose of an aerospace cruiser is to provide a secure base from which atmospheric combat vehicles can sortie, and in order to let them be competitive ACVs, it is necessary not to weigh them down with large extra drive mechanisms just to enable them to get to and from the mama bird. Thus, said mothership must not operate merely in low orbit, but dipping well into the atmosphere – into the lower mesophere – at typical altitudes for lithic worlds no more than 65 to 80 km (211,000 – 264,000′) above the surface. Such altitudes are already painfully difficult to reach for dedicated air vehicles, but manageable with relatively small auxiliary aerospikes.

And yet, the implications! A non-interface starship at this altitude suffers from high levels of atmospheric drag, enough to rip any normal starship’s – one not designed for atmospheric entry – structure apart, and thus, aerospace cruisers must share the great attention to streamlining and the heavier structure required by interface vehicles, but to an even greater extent, since the aerospace cruiser must not only penetrate the entry interface, but hang in it while launching and receiving aircraft from its vomitories.

(This in turn involves various trade-offs in other starship systems, like radiators, which must be accommodated behind streamlined panels while still functioning effectively; the point-defense laser grid must be tuned to atmospheric frequencies despite the effects on performance – and aerospace cruisers are well within the practical offensive range of ground-based aircraft and anti-aircraft systems; the engines must not choke when run in atmosphere; and so forth.)

The next issue, fortunately, partly cancels out this one. While an aerospace cruiser sustaining (via continuous burn; copious fuel supplies and an oiler or two to restock them are also essentials for space-to-atmo operations) orbit at 72 km would have to deal with an arbitrarily long period of fending off the atmosphere at 8 km/sec, consider that the period of such an orbit is a little under 1.5 hours, meaning that an aerospace cruiser maintaining its “natural” orbital velocity will pass very rapidly over the battlespace and out of air range; and pilots in general, it should be said, are notably unappreciative when their mothership leaves them behind.

To avoid this, aerospace cruisers are required to operate in forced orbits, maintaining station above a particular location. This requires, of course, even more copious supplies of fuel and multiplies the required continuous – and for those not familiar with the concept, continuous here means if the drive ever stops, you fall right out of the sky and die – station-keeping burn considerably, but at least it spares you quite so much brutalization by the atmosphere and makes launching and receiving aircraft practical, not just theoretically possible.

So before we continue and look at specific types, let’s raise a glass to these low-flying, fuel-gulping, plasma-shocking, sky-hanging abominations of nature, and all that sail in them! We don’t look down on you – except literally – but we wouldn’t have your jobs for a Service pension and a nice retirement moon.

– the Big Boys’ Book of Boom

Bottled Sunlight

Announcing

from Extropa Energy, ICC

Stars as a Service™

Available now throughout the Imperial Core and Fringe, with planned expansions into selected areas of the Worlds, Extropa Energy wishes to announce the availability of its Stars as a Service™ range of remote energy supply options. Using Extropa’s newly established fleet of mobile energy generation stations, each equipped with more than dodecen industrial-grade fusion reactors, Stars as a Service™ is able to deliver a reliable, continuous microwave or laser power beam into a compatible receiver anywhere in the system, both to stations and to beam-operated vehicles. Beamed power can even be transferred to planetside facilities with the lease or purchase of suitable relay satellites.

Power beams can be delivered in capacities ranging from megawatt through gigawatt, terawatt, and exawatt, according to your local requirements. While standard beams are delivered from shared reactor facilities according to a fixed schedule (due to the exigencies of light-lag) and with necessary occlusion windows dictated by the movement of celestial bodies, special extra-cost arrangements can be made, including reserved reactor instances, dynamic control of power delivery via tangle channel, and the lease of relay satellites to eliminate or minimize occlusion blackouts.

Need more energy?

Contact your Extropa Energy Stars as a Service™ representative today!

Wibbly-Wobbly

gravity tremble: The variations in experienced gravity found aboard starships making use of the thrust gravity provided by nuclear pulse drives, or other discontinuous-thrust drives. Essentially, the gravity tremble refers to that portion of the thrust variation not damped out by the thrust transfer framework, leading to a predictable variation in experienced gravity around its nominal value, from the jarring on-off transitions of the earliest undamped concussion drives to the smooth and gentle oscillation (resembling a phugoid cycle) of modern fusion-pulse sail drives.

The term is also used to refer to the distinctive gait seen in long-term pulse-drive starship crewers (or, more accurately, crewers of those starships in which the pulse rate is relatively fast). With experience in maneuvering under trembling gravity, such crewers develop the habit of attuning their stride interval to the tremble frequency, pushing off and up with the drop and descending with the rise, thus gaining the most advantage from the momentarily lighter gravity.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Shielding and Shielding

To begin our discussion of protective technologies, notionally, there are four types of shielding:

  • particle shielding;
  • ray shielding;
  • gravity shielding;
  • irreality shielding.

Particle & Ray Shielding

The most important and most common of these, of course, are the first two: particle shielding and ray shielding. Naturally, both of these are complete misnomers, thanks to wave/particle equivalence, and have an inconvenient degree of overlap, and yet they are the accepted engineering terms.

The technical definition of particle shielding is that it is intended to affect fermions, the particles which chiefly constitute matter, including quarks, the composite particles made up of them, and leptons; while ray shielding is intended to affect gauge bosons, such as the photon, gluon, and the various asthenons.

Thus, in the informal engineering view, particle shielding begins with conventional armor, Whipple shields, laser point-defense grids, and the like, while ray shielding can be considered to include such simple devices as high-reflectivity surfaces, HICAP and other high-Z materials, and even thermal dissipation systems or sheer mass. (Drunkwalking, of course, can be considered both.)

Later developments in particle shielding included a variety of technologies including sacrificial defense drones, semi-ablative fluff, fluid-foam armor, droplet nanoclouds, and gravimetric bubbles, the forerunners of the modern kinetic barriers.

Meanwhile, the story of attempts to advance ray shielding is a complex mess of dismissed technologies, ranging from entirely failed attempts such as FAT NINJA through variations on many others: magnetic plasma bubbles, dazzle nanoclouds, EM blisters, Meng mirrors, wormhole mouth-drones, antithetikon emitters, polariton photon-walls, stasis hyperspheres, claudications, and other metric warps, none of them achieving nearly the same success or general applicability as their particle counterparts.

All of which is to mostly ignore the inevitable overlap between technologies (for example: while often classified as “rays”, kinetic barriers are effective against particle beams; and attempts at producing kinetic barriers strong enough to deflect photons, which after all do have mass, continue – thereby classifying them as ray shielding, too), not to mention such bizarre entries in the field as the uncertainty sheath, singularity-lock armor, the blink displacer, UNMOVED MONAD, and its weaker cousin, the probability unseller.

Gravity Shielding

Intended to protect you from gravity and weapons that function on gravitic principles. Entirely hypothetical, unless you count “get your own equal and opposite gravity”.

Irreality Shielding

Intended to protect you from having the laws of physics you’re using edited out from under you, which also conveniently protects you from hypothetical dangers like extrauniversal invasions that bring their own physics along with them, falling through nilgularities, or outbreaks of primordial chaos within the brane. Currently consists of a single technology, the selective ontology evocation system, programmed with its most boring use, ensuring that everything stays exactly as it is.

– introduction to “Shielding” chapter, Celestime Technology Review

Better Alternative

anti-buckling vents: vents, either permanent or automatically opening (using, for example, rupture disks) in the event of a significant pressure differential across them, installed in non-spacetight bulkheads and deckheads to prevent them from behaving as de facto spacetight compartmentalizations while lacking the structural strength to serve in that role.

After a number of incidents in which decompressions caused by hull punctures and the resulting pressure differentials caused crumples and collapses of non-spacetight bulkheads, severing piping and cable runs passing through or along those bulkheads, anti-buckling vents became a standard component of celestime architecture.

(For this reason, it is important to immediately follow decompression procedures when the alarm sounds, whether or not the source of decompression appears to be in the current compartment.)

– A Space Traveler’s Dictionary

Solvable Problems

WATCH CONSTABULARY / ORBIT GUARD
SPACECRAFT INCIDENT REPORT

REPORT: TORA-42-0896
REPORT DATE: 7322 Yrnaes 11

INCIDENT DATE: 7322 Yrnaes 8
VESSEL CLASS: Tingesek-class ESV/courier
REGISTRATION: Free Loxix
OPERATOR: Private charter
REPORTED BY: Aste min Direthill, commander, Toralish Orbit Guard

REFERENCES: [see attached]

SUBJECT: Fuel Tank Rupture Leading To Interior Dissolution

EVENT:

Shortly after entry into Toralish system, contact was lost with the Tingesek-class ESV, Soreseg Ven. All efforts to regain contact with the vessel failed, and shortly thereafter observations by System Traffic Control showed an abnormal termination of maneuvering burn. The vessel was then declared not under command, and a patrol boat, CSS Captal’s Mercy, was vectored towards its last known position.

Upon reaching and boarding Soreseg Ven, the pressure hull was found open to space, with severe damage to the interior. On examination, virtually all organic or carbon-based material was found to be missing, and severe erosion was found on many metallic surfaces. All eighteen souls aboard were lost without trace.

Subsequently to the investigation, the hulk was ordered towed for disposal to the Kathar wreckyard as a hazard to navigation, awaiting owner clearance for disposal.

ACTION TAKEN:

Investigation of the spacecraft revealed the following:

  1. The above-mentioned damage to the interior of the pressure hull.
  2. Modifications had been made to expand and, concordantly, relocate the fuel and oxidizer tanks supplying the primary thrust motor.
  3. The primary fuel tank retained its position directly above the primary thrust motor, but had been extended 10% towards the bow.
  4. The primary oxidizer tank had been relocated forward accordingly, and had itself been extended 22% towards the bow. This required the combination of the tank head and the after pressure bulkhead into a single structure.
  5. The surviving fittings of the primary fuel and oxidizer tanks were found to be non-PMA.
  6. The tank heads of both the primary fuel and oxidizer tanks were found to be non-PMA.
  7. Stress fractures were found along the surviving pieces of the oxidizer tank head structure.

CONCLUSION:

Due to the timing of the failure, it is believed that the additional stress placed on the oxidizer tank head by the maneuvering burn initiated by Soreseg Ven after jumping into Toralish caused the stress fractures along the shared structure of the oxidizer tank head and after pressure bulkhead. With the oxidizer tank fully pressurized, immediate structural failure followed, allowing large volumes of the rapidly vaporizing oxidizer to penetrate the pressure hull.

Since the Tingesek-class ESV makes use of a chemical reaction drive powered by pentaborane and high-test hydrogen peroxide, it is believed that the crew and passengers of Soreseg Ven were immediately dissolved during the oxidizer inrush, as were the majority of the vulnerable fittings and other items within the pressure hull, a process which only ended when the rapid changes in internal temperature and pressure caused the pressure hull itself to fracture.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. Non-manufacturer upgrades require added operator scrutiny.
  2. Foreign repair procedures require added operator scrutiny.
  3. Celestime architects considering the use of high-test peroxide should consider all other available options.

Etiquable Interface

vocel-react-affective
93.2.4 / Public / Last updated 283 years ago

Install: pkg i vocel-react-affective
License: Riantar Ventures Open Usage & Modification License (Commercial & Non-Commercial)
Home: e.pl.riantar-ventures/dev/software/vocel-react

Included-In: vocel-react
Depends-On: vocel-react-core, vocel-react-modulate, vocel-react-dynamic

The vocel-react-affective package forms part of the VoCel React™ voice interface system for household robotic systems, and provides the affective response and courtesy subroutines used by the system to phrase and pronounce its responses to the user.

The primary configuration parameter for the vocel-react-affective package is the basic Courtesy Index (ci). This is a floating point setting whose value can range from +12.0 to -12.0, with a value of zero effectively disabling the package, resulting in the brusque, efficiency-optimized responses provided by such interfaces when this package is not installed. A value of +12.0 causes the attached system to maximize courtesy and formality in its interactions, combining the most polite circumlocutions of the Court of Courts with the warmth of an old family retainer, while a value of -12.0 maximizes the system’s lack of respect for the user without slipping into gutterspeak; i.e., the “Do it yourself, stinkin’ meat bag!” option. Values below -8.0 permit the system to arbitrarily refuse orders, while values below -4.0 permit it to demand they be rephrased in a more appropriate fashion. A recommended initial value for everyday applications is +6.0.

Secondary configuration parameters allow the package user to specify maximal and minimal values for the Courtesy Index, used when dynamic configuration is enabled. This permits the ci to be varied by a number of additional packages, including vocel-react-profile (permitting per-user configuration), vocel-react-affective-mirror (adjusting the courtesy level of the system to match that of the user), vocel-react-standards (requiring certain standards to be upheld for interaction), et. al., as well as combinations of these.

Tertiary configuration parameters, meanwhile (see full documentation), allow adjustments of specific formality level, register, and stylistic tics, and interact with similar parameters provided by packages such as vocel-react-species, vocel-react-regional, and vocel-react-subcultural.

The Emperor’s Sword: Organization

So, in the past, we discussed the arms and equipment of the Imperial Legions, but we never went into their organization in any particular depth, something this post intends to correct.

Now, if you remember the Table of Ranks post, you’ll note that I have used fairly typical Western-type ranks (albeit in somewhat altered structure) to translate the ranks of the Imperial Military Service, Legions included. This is a convenience for the reader who is familiar with these, although in many ways this paints an inaccurate picture of their actual organization.

One should remember, after all, that the Empire’s history never had the Dark Ages, or the medieval era that followed. The implication being that the Imperial Legions draw their tradition, in unbroken descent generation following generation, from the phalanges of Ancyr and the lockstep legions of ancient Selenaria, themselves born of a time when the hot new military technology was very early steel – and this imprint still lies heavy upon them.

And one of the places that this is visible is in their organization and associated positions.

(These being the titles associated with command or various other positions within a unit, separate from the rank held by whoever occupies it. As I note below, there is a loose association between the one and the other, but the Imperial Military Service has gone all-in on matrix management and does not believe in up-or-out; in a world in which lives are so very, very long, they don’t want to lose talent to such policies over time; or, indeed, by promoting people from positions in which they are exceptionally good into positions in which they are less talented. So while it is by no means usual to find legionaries whose rank is disproportionate to their position, it’s by no means unknown.)

And so, in the absence – ah, time to spend on conlanging, where art thou? – of a full and appropriate set of Eldraeic terminology, pray pardon my shameless appropriation and distortion of a variety of Greek and Roman terms in the below descriptions. (Also the use of the term armiger, “one who bears arms” in its non-heraldic sense, to describe those legionaries one of whose primary functions is fighting personally.)

So, to begin at the beginning, with the smallest of units:

Fist

The smallest, most fundamental division of the legions, the fist is a fireteam of four legionaries (E-3, outside training legions or first-tour replacements), one of whom (the monitor, usually an E-4/Corporal) is in tactical command, and a second of whom carries an additional heavy weapon.

(Well, except in armor legions. There, the fist is generally representative of a single tank crew, etc.)

Lochos (File)

The next division up, the lochos (or file, since the original lochos was based on one file of soldiers in the Ancyran phalanx or the Selenarian legions) consists of three fists, plus a lochagos (file leader; usually an E-6/Master Sergeant) and ouragos (file closer; usually an E-5/Sergeant) as commander and second-in-command, respectively, for a total of fourteen armigers.

In light infantry legions, each lochos is assigned a pair of V40 Ralihú IFVs (accommodate 8 each) as transports, the lochagos commanding one and the ouragos the other.

The lochos can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern squad. In more classical comparisons, one might analogize the lochos with the Roman contubernium, the tent-group; the lochos is a logistical unit inasmuch as its members are quartered together, eat together1, share various common appurtenances, etc.

Triarchy (informal)

Next up the hierarchy we come to the triarchy – which is not a formally constituted unit but rather one occasionally broken out for convenience – and consists of three lochoi assigned together; 42 armigers. The commander of a triarchy, although sometimes referred to as the triarch, is simply the lochagos with seniority. (On the rare occasions that a triarchy is seen operating independently – see note under century – higher command strata may find an O-2/Ensign from somewhere to give it policy direction.)

It can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern platoon – in size, at least.

Century

Next in formal units, the century; six lochoi together, commanded by a centurion (O-4/O-3/O-2 Lieutenant/Sublieutenant/Ensign, usually depending on the seniority of the century within its legion) and an optio (E-7/Gunnery Sergeant); 86 armigers total. The century is usually the smallest unit to operate independently (for short periods; any long-term independent operations will be assigned a full cohort). A legion contains 162 centuries (from three alae / nine merarchies / twenty-seven cohorts).

The century is the first of the “bannered units”; these being the century, the cohort, and the legion entire. When colors are carried2, the symbolism for each century and its attached battle-honors are of course unique, but the background pattern and combination of colors is standardized, such that every legion’s, for example, 43rd century will use the same base banner as every other legion’s.

The century also has staff positions (auxiliaries) outside the directly armigerous personnel. In auxiliaries, a typical century will include a signifer (the bearer of the colors and communications specialist), a quartermaster, two forward observer/recon specialists, two armorers, two field medics, and the field kitchen.

In addition, there is a fire-support asset attached to each century; for an infantry legion, this is usually a Saber coilgun-walker or something similar; and it is at the century level that the G5-TT Corveé tactical transports and their crews (one per two lochoi), or equivalent, are attached.

The century can be considered the approximate equivalent of a modern company.

Dicentury (informal)

Back to non-formal units, the dicentury, which is exactly what it says on the tin; a pair of centuries operating together (i.e. 172 armigers), commanded by the senior centurion of the pair.

Cohort

On we go with the cohort; six centuries, for a fighting strength of 516, commanded by a machegos, or “Battlemaster” in the vernacular (O-4/Lieutenant or O-5/Major3). The cohort is the unit most commonly used for independent operations.

As the second of the bannered units, the cohort includes an aquilifer to carry its colors4 (and the golden eagle atop them) as well as serve as a communications specialist among its auxiliaries, which include at this point a full embedded logistics and medical staff, an adjutant for the machegos, the master of the camp, an intelligence staff, and the padre, among others.

(The cohort’s padre is not counted among the armigerous on the technicality that his command structure answers first to his deity, and only afterwards to the machegos5. Regardless, when the cohort meets the enemy, the padre is usually to be found in the van.)

In addition, there’s a heavy fire-support asset attached to each cohort. The type varies by legion, but a light infantry legion might use the HV-12 Stormfall missile tank or the HVC-14h Thunderbolt drone tank, in the role.

The cohort can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern battalion.

Merarchy

Up to the next level, the merarchy; three cohorts together, for a total fighting strength of 1,548, commanded by a merarch (O-6/Colonel or O-7/Brigadier). It’s primarily a tactical and administrative division rather than one that has a large staff attached to it. What it does have attached to it, though, is the lighter half of the legion’s organic air support, in the form of one wing of G12-BU Falcon tilt-rotors6 attached to each merarchy.

Can be considered the approximate equivalent of the regiment – in size. Where the “regimental system” is concerned, however, that’s the legion.

Ala

Next, the ala, or wing; three merarchies together, for a total fighting strength of 4,664, commanded by an alearch (an O-7/Brigadier or O-8/General of the Wing). Much like the cohort, it has a full attached staff, appropriate to its place in the hierarchy (although it is not a bannered unit).

Also attached to the ala is the legion’s heavy air support; a wing of G7-BU Sunhawk heavy ground-attack aircraft each. Combat support units of various kinds which the legion has permanently acquired over its history and temporarily attached subunits tend to also be glued on here, at the ala level.

It can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern brigade.

Legion

And finally, the legion itself; three wings together, for a total fighting strength of 13,9327, commanded by a strategos, a post occupied by an O-9/General of the Legion. Also includes the strategos‘s command staff (including the draconifer, who carries the legionary standard, a crystal-and-gold replica of the dragons framing the Dragon Throne, and is in charge of legionary communications) and its support units.

The legion is, of course, the highest of the permanently established units of the Imperial Military service. It can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern division.

And On…

The legion is, of course, not the largest possible military command; it’s merely the largest formally and permanently organized unit. When needed for a war, legions can be grouped together into field forces, which can be grouped into armies, which in turn are attached to fleets up in the airy heights of the Admiralty where grades O-10 through O-14 (various kinds of Marshal) roam, ultimately under the overall theater command of a Warmain (polemarch) answering to the First Lord of the Admiralty.

But that’s another story…


  1. Ride together, die together… bad boys for life.
  2. On the modern battlefield, per-century banners are generally not carried; however, the colors and symbols are still used in identifying v-tags.
  3. Note that there is no rank of Captain in the Imperial ground forces.
  4. The eagles, on the other hand, are borne into battle, usually with the headquarters section. It may not be practical, but there are such things as standards, y’know? Standards about standards, even.
  5. General opinion within the Legions, on the other hand, is that the strategos is somewhat senior to god.
  6. You can think of these as, simplistically, filling the “attack helicopter” role.
  7. Despite variations in the numbers of auxiliary staff attached, logisticians usually budget 18,000 personnel for transporting a full legion, in the comfortable assurance that they won’t need all of ’em for people.

Nihilism Engineering

unspace interrupter: a type of switch used in extremely-high-power electrical systems, the unspace interrupter is designed to overcome the ultimate limit in switching: namely, the dielectric strength of possible insulators used to separate the contacts.

Perfect insulators are generally considered impossible since all baryonic – and most exotic – materials, even the most insulating, still contain small quantities of charge carriers, and sufficiently high voltages are capable of tearing the electrons from atoms, or otherwise motivating these charge carriers. Even vacuum is not a perfect insulator; a perfect vacuum still breaks down at 1e12 megavolts per meter, and the much more achievable high vacuum at a mere 30 megavolts per meter, even discounting processes such as thermionic emission.

The unspace interrupter bypasses this by observing that charge carriers require space to exist within, and by taking away that space, one assures that they cannot exist, and thus cannot flow. Unspace interrupters have been constructed using a variety of techniques, but one simple example is to consider two widely separated contact points – or an equivalent system, such as a photonic motor-generator set – linked by a tunable-pinch wormhole, i.e., one which can be closed or opened at will. When opened, current flows freely; when closed, the effective dielectric strength of the interrupter is determined by the arbitrarily large distance between its separated ends, which can be functionally infinite. Moreover, the opening of the contacts by this system is not subject to arcing or flashover.

– the Glossology of the Anbaric Spark, 997th ed.

Vaccination

Provocogen COG

Provocogen COG is unusual among the ranks of Citizen Oversight Groups in that, while generally acknowledged as serving a socially useful purpose, everyone individually would much rather be spared its attentions.

Provocogen, as its name might suggest, is a manufacturer of meme-allergens and other informational toxins. Extending the theory that an unchallenged immune system degrades, their purpose is to maintain and enhance the memetic immune system, lest parasites, meme-allergens, autotoxic and exotoxic ideas, recursive conspiracies, memetic vulnerabilities and plain old stupidity spread out of control.

Unlike the informational and warning efforts of other COGs and TAGs in the memetic security space, however, Provocogen generates examples of all these things (in a hopefully weakened state) and sends them out into the ideosphere to do their work, keeping people alert and priming the public’s memetic immune systems to other ideas of the same general kind, followed by painfully – for those taken in – debunking them in exquisite depth and architectural detail.

To this end, Provocogen has assembled what is undoubtedly the largest collection of trolls, conspiracists, grifters, meme-hackers, slash-traders, mystagogues, rhetoricians, sophists, unhanged scoundrels, and intellectual coprophiliacs to be found anywhere outside a full-quorum meeting of the Conclave of Galactic Polities.

– Sur-Dodeciad Parts in Approximate Formation: The Empire from Outside

Odd One Out

Cilmínár is perhaps, despite all the others’ uniquities, the one with the best claim to be the odd one out of of Thirteen Colonies; while the others all had their own distinctions based on their worlds, societies, technologies, or other evolved characteristics, Cilmínár was the first and only eldraeic colonial venture intended to leave the Empire.

At the time of the Deep Star program, and in particular in the years leading up to 3038, the time at which IS Potentiality Golden left the Lumenna-Súnáris System, the Empire was caught up in the final century of the Consolidation Wars. In the Senate, the Above All, One Imperium Movement was dominant, and the Imperium Bellipotent was prominent within that coalition.

These conditions gave rise to some concern in dedicated libertist circles that the Empire might be heading down the wrong path, and could possibly end up recreating the governance-by-force methods of the kórasan. A number of these groups responded by setting up the Free Colony Foundation, a private colonization venture intended to build a colony around newly prospected Cilminé faithful to the Contract but eschewing the Charter – i.e., a recreation of the Ungoverned Era. Prospective colonists agreed only to participation in the early steps of ensuring colony viability, thereafter being governed solely by the Contract.

This venture proved controversial, to say the least, in the somewhat heated atmosphere of patriotism which characterized the late Consolidation, and arguments over the ethics and legalities of the matter – lawful secession being guaranteed by the Charter even as military annexation was the practice of the day – grew in volume and vigor until they eventually reached the Court of Courts, silenced only by the Imperial Proclamation of Alphas III Amanyr after meeting with the leaders of the Foundation:

“Go in peace, cousins. Your principles are ours, and in their name, we would not hold you. Know that you will always be welcomed here.”

Unsubstantiated Court gossip of the era attributed a simpler statement to Elyse II Cyprium.

“You’ll be back.”


As history would have it, IS Potentiality Golden arrived at Cilmínár in 3136, six years after the final act of the Consolidation and the opening of the Aeon-Long Peace, and this news – along with the recession of the Bellipotency into deep eclipse in the Senate – was among the first news the colony received when laser communication with the homeworld was established in 3160.

Nonetheless, the establishment of the colony went ahead as planned, with the Free Colony Foundation wrapping itself up and spinning off necessary functions into the private sector as the colony was established, dwindling into a registry and contract-notarization organization. As in the Ungoverned Era, PPLs, community militias, and deemsters emerged or were established to serve as guardians of citizens’ rights.

However, over the centuries between the colony’s establishment and its participation in the Reunification, the population of Cilmínár found itself having to address and solve many modern recensions of the same or similar issues that ancient Eliéra had been required to deal with during the lengthy transition between Ungoverned Era and Empire, and had developed its own institutions to do so, while observing over the course of its communications with the homeworld both that their fears for the future had not come true – with the Empire’s post-Consolidation turn away from annexationism – and its eager adoption of various Cilmínárian institutional innovations which promised greater flexibility and were more in accordance with libertist principles.

As such, when the Reunification came calling in 4003, the Free Colony of Cilmínár needed surprisingly little persuasion to return to the Imperial fold with the Deal of 4014, while retaining its own local customs. (Conveniently, legal ground for this had already been laid by private edict of Alphas III and Elyse II back in the 3030s, placing the citizen-shareholderships of the colonists in temporary abeyance, rather than cancelling them, permitting a retroactive reinstantiation.)

The Deal, as it is known locally, uses as the colony’s charter a detailed and frequently amended contract between the Imperial governance and the assortment of Cilmínárian institutions responsible for various local functions, and the Free Colony is acknowledged as a single constituent nation of individual sovereigns. Internal legal matters continue to be handled by PPLs and deemsters, although appeal is available as it would be from the Courts of the Districts, and in other matters, the planet is indeed a technologically-updated microcosm of that legendary era of pre-Imperial history.

As Elyse II predicted so long ago: they were back.

– Octavia Dalastel, The First Constellation

May Contain Nuts

Cydon’s Cyborg Cuisine

A restaurant chain catering specifically to those with unusually energy-hungry augmentations without external power sources, Cydon’s Cyborg Cuisine (CCC) provides a dizzying selection of dishes across several Imperial cuisines designed specifically for their, or rather their fuel cells’, special requirements.

That is to say, CCC’s back-end chefs and nutritionists have found a way to pack close to the theoretical maximum quantity of fats and simple sugars into each mouthful, while still leaving the food tasty and suitable for semi-regular consumption, unlike more typical offerings to this market, such as Biogenesis’s Proven-Potency Power Paste, Steeleye Labs’ high-erg fuel bars, or even Peregrinate’s Minty Sugar Slab. Sorry, guys!

All of the food available at CCC is vat-grown or synthetic, of course, but such is to be expected when nature simply cannot pack that much energy into a bite.

Finally, while it is company policy not to question the details – or for that matter existence – of customers’ augmentations, those closer to baseline accompanying their cyborg friends to CCC are strongly urged to confine themselves to the Lily-Livered side menu.

Eating CCC’s regular offerings without both an augmented digestive system suitable to process them and the sort of augmentations they are intended to power has been observed to have side effects including but not limited to acute gastrointestinal distress, angina, atherosclerosis, cerebrovascular insult, cholelithiasis, diabetes, diarrhea, generalized steatosis, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, jaundice, myocardial infarction, pancreatitis, steatohepatitis, and death. A waiver is included with each meal.

– Restaurant Review, from the Mer Covales Advertiser

Not Even Wrong

There are those, in the field of biotechnological and medical ethics, who class anagathics as dangerous and addictive, inasmuch as ceasing to take your life-extension drugs results in a plethora of aging-related side-effects, followed by death.

The absurdity of this position and the farcical nature of its enforcement naturally ensure that it is a common state of legal affairs across the Expansion Regions.

– 6200 Annual Report, Riverside Eubiosis Foundation, ICC

Things to See, Places (Not) To Go (14)

Jarnobu (Torch Radiant): While the system is controlled by the League of Meridian, Jarnobu is not counted among their 83 member worlds.

At first, this might seem puzzling, inasmuch as Jarnobu proper is a garden world eminently suitable to hosting sefir life, with a mild climate and a biosphere which is unusually compatible, biochemically speaking, with the sefir and their commensal species – to the point that native foods are edible without extensive preparation.

However, in a cruel twist of irony, it is this very biochemical compatibility that makes Jarnobu a unique form of sucker bait. While the native flora and fauna is certainly edible, it is also saturated with compounds which serve as potent euphoric and psychoactive drugs on sophonts with sefir-style nervous systems, many of which survive long enough ex vivo to be a constant low-level presence in the planet’s air and water.

Thus, Jarnobu does not resemble a traditional failed colony world, appearing to be a pleasant, low-technology, pastoral world – if one populated by people with a marked tendency to grin all the time, giggle at the slightest provocation, stare in fascination at their own appendages, and on occasion, fall over. Nonetheless, it is classified as one by the League.

No regular passenger or freight service calls at Jarnobu, and even visits by tramp traders are rare. (The world has no starport facilities beyond areas of cleared ground and landing beacons.) However, orbital scans show numerous abandoned junker hulks and homesteader pods on the planetary surface, regular immigration by means of which is presumably responsible for maintaining the planet’s population and technology.

Unusually, there have been few long-lasting attempts to export Jarnobun drugs to other worlds, and those which have persisted have been run by non-sefir syndicates. It appears that the difficulty of maintaining long-term chemical isolation in an environment where a seal failure will directly lead to precisely the kind of carelessness apt to induce a cascade has discouraged all but the most persistent.