More of a Primand, Really

(Yes, this is so very real-life-writes-the-plot, but as with that age-old piece about transportation security, what can you do…)

From: Ektalis Munisinios (Second Undersecretary, Ministry of State and Outlands)
To: Cerea Oliviscios (Their Divine Majesties’ Ambassador to the Viridian States)
Security: DIPLOMATIC BLUE
Subject: Formal reprimand

We have this day received a missive from the State Department of your country of residence calling for your formal reprimand over certain impolitic remarks, to wit, “We are sure the people of the Viridian States must be inspired to great confidence by their governance’s ability to find people who will obey any order, especially in these troubled times.”

Herewith is that reprimand:

Next time, be sure the galactic press has been invited to the party, not just the locals. Makes it harder to cover up.

Drinks at the Mustelid are on me next time you make it back to the capital.

– Ektalis

Self-Dying

CAPITOL, YANOK ARCHIPELAGO, TORKATAN CONGERIES – Protests were reported today outside the Imperial embassy here in Capitol Drift over the recent death of a citizen of the Congeries during a tour of the Core worlds.

Ra Adom Underhull was struck and killed by an groundcraft on Ellisar (Imperial Core) late last year, one of only fourteen vehicular incidents reported in the Empire in 7204.

Her case has attracted some controversy both within and without Imperial space, since as a member of the pro-public-privacy group Behind the Veil, Underhull was wearing full-coverage clothing patterned with adversarial images designed specifically to impair the operation of commonly-used sensor algorithms, and had placed the Universal issued her at entry into a sealed embag. (This latter practice was one which had already led to several warnings from the Constabulary.)

A statement issued at the time by Silverwing Motors, ICC, the designers of the groundcraft in question, offered their condolences to Underhull’s family, but, while noting that the vehicle had detected her and begun obstacle-avoidance routines shortly before the collision, stated that they could not reasonably be expected to build systems secure against deliberate and technically sophisticated attempts to sabotage their operation.

The Constabulary coroner concurred with this, and returned a verdict of death by misadventure secondary to traumatic amentia, or as it is unfortunately also known, “death by stupidity”.

It is this verdict that forms the root of the controversy, with opinions varying from those prevalent in certain outworlds that one should be protected fully even from the consequences of one’s own actions, or that this once again highlights the intrinsic dangers of automation, to the common opinion among Imperials that one cannot in all reason possibly expect to be kept safe when engaging in acts of profound unwisdom, such as deliberately blinding safety systems or taking an evening stroll through a minefield.

Consensus on these matters remains as unlikely to be reached as ever.

– the Imperial Infoclast

Eldraeic Phrase of the Day: Never Tell Me The Odds

ka idaseir qané trasunael xasessqár!: “bugger1 the seers!”; common expletive phrase, originating in Jussovy, used to respond to statements of poor odds, predictions of failure or certain death, claims that something is a doomed venture, a suicide mission, impossible, etc., indicating the speaker’s determination to go through with it anyway and trust their qalasír to carry the day.

Curiously enough, this often works.


  1. This is, of course, an idiomatic translation.

    A more literal translation would be “may the seers engage in low-quality/unsatisfactory sex!”

Cultural Crossovers #17: Thor: Ragnarok

In which there is an apocalypse.

  • Man, that’s a lot of chains.
  • Well, you’re an unlikely flaming chap. But I guess if there are ice giants, there should be fire giants.
  • Thor, you’ve been hanging out with Tony Snark too much.
  • Oh, you shouldn’t have said that. Keep your special hat secret.
  • We approve this music choice.
  • Well, Asgard’s standards in gatekeepers have gone all to hell.
  • …even by ontotech standards, Mjolnir is hax.
  • Don’t think their standards in Viking-inspiring women are doing so well, either.
  • Oh, Loki. Evidently you gave up completely on subtlety and subtlety-adjacent things when you kinged yourself.
  • Awwww. But you two were so cute! And no Jane means no more Darcy, Best Intern Ever!
  • Well, isn’t that… Strange.
  • Implication: Asgard also has wizards. Of course, Earth also had wizards all along.
  • Loki is having a really bad day.
  • And Odin seems to be enjoying his retirement.
  • Well, this introduction is going well.
  • Mew-mew! Noooo!
  • Hm. Bifrost is also a place. Interesting. And one you can be thrown out of mid-transit.
  • Well, shit. We’ve seen those guys fight, and so… implications unpleasant.
  • Is that… a planet-sized landfill? With wormholes dropping garbage out of the sky? But… but… (economists have meltdown)
  • (I mean, I suppose it could be natural, but there had to be something better to use it for.)
  • Guessing these folks got landfilled too, at some point.
  • A very drunk Asgardian?
  • Not bad “going through them” for someone that drunk. “Blowing through them”, one might say.
  • And so passes the last of the Warriors Three. (Hm. I wonder where Sif is right now.)
  • Ah. So, they have a sideline in slave gladiators. Delightful planet, this Sakaar.
  • (Oh, right, where the paper people come from.)
  • Of course Loki would turn up there.
  • This one is laid back for a gladiator. Insert obligatory stoned pun here.
  • One might think slaughtering the entirety of Asgard’s military forces would be something of a self-own for the new queen…
  • (And this is why historical revisionism is problematic.)
  • …oh. A giant army of the mostly dead. And giant wolf!
  • (Awww, puppy.)
  • The hammer is his… hammer. Yep. Just his hammer.
  • Okay, so if there was this elite force of women warriors, what was that whole deal back in Thor about Sif being one?
  • Tough crowd.
  • Oh, that’s where you ended up.
  • Not sure he likes that name.
  • Like he said, god of thunder…
  • puny god of thunder. And Loki gloats, of course…
  • …or not. Someone’s feeling their elemental associations today.
  • Es. 10 says Heimdall is running the resista —
  • — thank you.
  • Evidently extended runtime is good for Hulk. And he’s got himself a life now.
  • And a robust sense of humor. And, ooh, a statue.
  • Ah, Heimdall has an exit. Guess when you can see everything in the universe, you pick up on all the back doors.
  • Nice escape. Well, right up until the Quinjet got Hulked, and the Hulk got dehulked.
  • Man, how bad must two years worth of Hulk-hangover be.
  • “Melt-stick,” seriously?
  • The Valkyrie rode pegasai. Okay, let’s revise the mythologae recreation list.
  • “You’ve been on a planet before.” Heh.
  • And soon it will be three.
  • Well, except for Hulkfest Carnivale whatever-local-year-this-is.
  • Worst impromptu name ever.
  • The “Devil’s Anus”? Apt. And dreadfully entendric.
  • You have a terrible job, Grand Master’s chief minion.
  • That is a terrible strategy, but that’s a really nice ship.
  • That, on the other hand, was a very nice strategy. If a mite dickish.
  • …something about a black light…
  • That would be a fairly odd thing to have a doctorate in.
  • Maybe not a gun, but it’ll do.
  • Awwww, puppy.
  • One would think they’d have better methods of interrogation on Asgard, but maybe Hela gets her kicks this way.
  • A very convenient wormhole, indeed.
  • And Thor teaches us all how to do provoke and confront.
  • DON’T SHOOT THE — well, okay, guess you have to.
  • Well, that wasn’t the plan.
  • Just you and your undead slaves, eh, Hela?
  • Welp, Loki and an opportunity to be theatrical. Should’ve called it.
  • Big-ass lightning bolts speak louder than words.
  • This is the best fightin’ music ever.
  • Alas, poor Fenris. You deserved a better mistress.
  • (But, hell, no-one else even wounded the Hulk. Ever.)
  • Even unavoidable sacrifices suck.
  • And Skurge of Asgard, at the last, dies well.
  • Bloody hell. He wasn’t kidding about being mountain-sized.
  • The audience also hates this prophecy. Civilizations should not fall. That is literally the opposite of the proper course of events.
  • Hulk is disappoint. Biggest challenge yet.
  • Korg, your timing is just the worst.
  • Well, won’t Earth be surprised to receive a sudden shipful of Asgardians? (Especially those Asatru whose worldview wasn’t already beaten all to hell in the last few years.)
  • …assuming that leaves anyone alive, that is.
  • And what’s about to couldn’t happen to a nicer planetary slavemaster.

Outsize

“Finally, let us turn to the biggest megaships of them all, the fleet carriers. Including them in this work is a choice which I expect to be somewhat controversial – many would argue that a fleet carrier is a formation, not a vessel – but with respect to those readers who may hold that position, since the Imperial Navy treats fleet carriers as a single vessel for asset accounting and command designation purposes, so in turn shall I.

“Let us begin with a look at the history of the type. Fleet carriers were not known before the Exterminomachy (5782-5901). While before that time lighthuggers had met with occasional hostility, they had proven more than capable of defending themselves against local system defense forces, in particular with the Perreinar Wheel1 – and in those cases where they were not, it was because they had encountered a Power not readily opposed by pure military force. This changed with the arrival of the skrandar berserker probes, whose numbers and willingness to embrace suicide tactics made them a serious threat to even well-defended vessels, and eliminating breeding site for which required the transport of full task forces to their host systems.

“The first fleet carriers, then, were improvisations; lighthuggers pressed into service under the right of angary. Stripped down by removing all cargo capacity, much crew space, and all other less-than-essential facilities, and enhancing their fuel capacity with multiple drop tanks, it became possible to clamp a small number of light units – overstocked with fuel and supplies – to the spine of such a vessel, and have it haul them slowly and painfully to a target system.

“Such crude improvisations were fraught with problems, from wear and tear on ships and crew during the slow transit, to the risk of interception before the transported units could free themselves from the carrier – both due to the inefficiency of the mechanical clamps, and the need to cut clamps frozen in transit or actual hard welds used where clamps would not suffice, to even entire vessels lost from the carrier in transit. (The last of these to be recovered, CS Bloodwashed3, was salvaged with all hands in 6722.)

“Fortunately, by the third year of the Exterminomachy, new designs were emerging from the cageworks at Ashen Planitia and Armory. The second-generation fleet carriers were custom-built starships, or rather, the specialized elements (the “propulsion head” and “collier module”) were, since the second generation eschewed the rigid designs of the first in exchange for dispersed tensegrity structures.

“In effect, the starships transported by the fleet carrier, along with the specialized elements, formed the floating compression struts of the overall structure, while being linked by braided cables (derived from orbital elevator technology) into a unified structure. The majority of the propulsive thrust is provided by the dedicated propulsion heads, while specialized fleet mediator software enables the use of the drives of the various carried ships to balance the structure and correct attitude. Meanwhile, supplies carried in the collier modules, distributed by rigged flexpipe and by cable-crawling logistics robots, eliminated the need to overload any individual ship with supplies, and indeed enabled the transportation of greater volumes of fuel and replenishment. Moreover, such fleet carriers could separate instantly if intercepted by simply blowing the explosive cable-couplers and engaging their drives independently, the dispersed tensegrity structure providing adequate safety separation for this.

“Such dispersed-design fleet carriers served with distinction throughout the remainder of the Exterminomachy, and have remained a key element of IN subluminal doctrine since. While there exist a third generation of fleet carrier designs, these merely reflect the evolution in technological reliability that allows the physical cables of the second generation to be replaced with vector-control tractor-pressor beams, and does not reflect any change in fundamental design or doctrine.

“As ad hoc structures, of course, it would be incorrect to say that fleet carriers have classes, in the strictest sense. However, the individual propulsion heads and collier modules, the former full starships in themselves, do. Thus, we shall begin our examination of fleet carriers with a look at the most common propulsion head in Imperial service, the Legends-class…”

– Megaships of the Imperium, Lorvis Maric, pub. 7290


  1. Perreinar2 Wheel: a fight-and-flight maneuver in which a lighthugger puts its stern towards the battle and engages its interstellar drive, thus retreating from the engagement while simultaneously treating the enemy to the close-range efflux of a pion drive – a situation which is very rarely survivable for anything larger than a baryon.
  2. From the eponymous horse archers who had perfected the “Perreinar shot” centuries before.
  3. Lost in the wreck of CS Cúlíän Daphnotarthius, which suffered a structural collapse of the spine while outward bound to IGS 31238 in the second year of the war.

Social Diseases

cognitive osmosis: The process, according to rumor, by which farspeech or other telepathic or techlepathic contact, especially the forms based in the exchange of neural gestalts, with the stupid causes one, oneself, to become less intelligent.

(Curiously, none of these stories ever suggests that this process makes the stupid themselves more intelligent.)

While having no basis whatsoever in sophontology, noetics, cerebroergetics, neuroscience, or indeed anything else but the unpleasant psychic odor of ill-formed thoughtforms, it remains an occasional phobia, a common urban legend, and a popular insult among everyone who has ever felt the urge to demand to know why they are surrounded by these incompetent fools.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary