Trope-a-Day: Space Station

Space Station: Lots of them, as residence, lab, factory, outpost, city, farm, cageworks, starport, skymall, border station, and just about everything else you can think of by way of uses.  After all, in the modern day, three out of every five Imperial residents lives in space, not planetside.

The gamut runs from the venerable Oculus Station, a by-modern-standards tiny Skylab/ISS style tin-can habitat – large by the launching standards of early space programs, but then, they were using Orion launchers – preserved as a museum, to the Conclave Drift, which at 36 miles long, eight in diameter, and nearly 10 billion tons gross mass is not the largest ever constructed any more, but by population, diversity and reputation (as the seat of the closest approximation to galactic government and an awful lot of its business) is the unchallenged queen of the orbital habitat community.

Trope-a-Day: Coolest Club Ever

Coolest Club Ever: The best known (and with, therefore, the largest Wannabe Line in the Empire) is the Aleph, on Baranithil Station; the most popular would be the Polythalience, on the Conclave Drift; the most exclusive would be the Floating Meme – wherever it turns up next; and the most infamous would have to be the Transition, on Nepscia (see: Wretched Hive).

Trope-a-Day: City of Spies

City of Spies: Many spies, of course, hang around Nepscia (Galith Waste) and its red market, both because many secrets find their way there, and because a city with no rules (see: Wretched Hive) makes an excellent place to play intelligence agencies’ rougher away games.  Likewise, the Conclave Drift contains a lot of spies, simply because it’s where everyone is, and where a lot of top-level diplomacy and politicking goes on, with the obvious concomitant to it.

Nonetheless, the true City of Spies remains Eilan (Eilish Expanse), the capital world of the Free Eilish Confederacy, a doggedly neutral power friendly to the world, conveniently central for most of the Great Powers while not being – unlike the Conclave Drift – too convenient for any one of them in particular, and as such, the absolute favorite location for people’s intelligence away games.  Absolutely crawling with agents for absolutely everyone.  They don’t quite have carpooling for the tails, but it’s certainly not unheard of for two tails on the same agent to end up having to shamefacedly exchange name, address, and insurance information after a flitter collision…

Trope-a-Day: Capital City

Capital City: Of the Associated Worlds as a whole, that would be the Conclave Drift, the giant habitat in which the Conclave of Galactic Polities is situated.  It’s also a major commercial and cultural hub, it being – due to the room it sets aside for every polity in the Accord to build its own little mini-city – one of the few places you can find everyone together, and its markets are one of the few places in the Worlds where you can rely on finding just about everything that it’s legal to buy anywhere.  (The Empire had this in mind, of course, when they donated one of their star systems to build the thing in.)  It is slightly subverted inasmuch as not all that much freight gets transshipped through it; it would be rather out of the way.  But a surprisingly high percentage of the actual deals get made here.

Other candidates for major commercial centers would be Mer Covales, on Seranth (Imperial Core), which houses several major commercial exchanges and which does play host to a great deal of manufacturing and transshipping; and the worlds of the Free Eilish Confederacy, whose policies of neutrality and openness make it a favorite spot for business – and also a favorite spot for back-door politics and for galactic intelligence agencies to host their away games.  Neither of those, of course, are political capitals of anything.

Of the Empire, that would be Calmirie (“center of order”), which is both the political capital of the Empire, and a significant commercial (somewhat overtaken by Mer Covales) and cultural (somewhat overtaken by Delphys (Imperial Core)) center.  It plays it essentially straight.

Subtext

“Well, firstly, we’re a civilization of dozens of different species with hundreds of races and clades each.  Given the sheer number of shapes we come in, why would you possibly assume that we’d be invested in your morphological bigotries?”

You’re idiots.

“And even if we were inclined to be, it would have to be a more significant one than hue – even if cross-linked with historical accident.”

You’re petty idiots.

“And even if you had a good reason to refuse to ever deal with these so-called inferior people, that’s what you’d do; refuse to deal with them, build fences, live separately.  Not go out of your way to be appallingly unpleasant for no adequately defined reason.”

You’re malicious petty idiots.

“And you don’t have one, because even if you were right, game theory tells us that defaulting to cooperation is always superior in the indefinite-iterated game, and the law of comparative advantage tells us that you’re better off doing so even if you’re better at every single thing ever.”

You’re self-defeating malicious petty idiots.

“And frankly, you’re not right, because in the light of all this, your self-described intellectual and cultural superiority isn’t looking so good, either.”

You’re hypocritical self-defeating malicious petty idiots.

“So I don’t really think there’s a terribly good basis for an alliance of mutual interest here, I’m afraid.”

Your mothers.

– overheard and underheard in the Crescent Bar, Conclave Drift

Trope-a-Day: Big Dumb Object

Big Dumb Object: Oh, plenty.  Leaving aside those belonging to elder races – and thus little known due to the ability to enforce the Do Not Taunt rule – the Empire has a partially completed Dyson Sphere in the works at Corícal Ailek (it’s where the Transcend keeps its brain; and it’s the swarm kind, not the shell kind) and another at Esilmúr (a primary antimatter production facility; the solar-wind-inflated-bubble kind), and the Photonic Network has at least one under construction somewhere in its interior.  Then there are assorted Stellar Husbandry Arrays floating over Imperial stars and keeping them running nice and smoothly and for rather longer, in theory, than they otherwise would.

Some spacedocks/construction slips probably qualify in the minor leagues due to the sheer size of a fleet carrier/grapeship megafreighter, as does the Conclave Drift drift-habitat that houses the Conclave of Galactic Polities, and I suspect that the manufacturer would strongly contend that the Ring Dynamics, ICC Interstellar Stargate (Mark III), a.k.a. the big framework/space station/support machine that wormhole ends get wrapped in, absolutely counts for these purposes.

And there’s more…

Always The Gap

“Welcome to the 60° Line.  This station is Lip Shuttleport.  This is an express Stem train, terminating at Docks and Locks, calling at Outer Interchange, Centerpoint, Underwater, Inner Interchange, Conclave Mall Axial, Hydrogen Habitats, Station Control, Manufacturing Hive, and Reactor.  Please note that stations between Station Control and Reactor are accessible to authorized personnel only.  Docks and Locks is our last station stop.  Passengers, please mind the gap.  Mind the gap.  The next station is Outer Interchange.  Change there for League of Meridian, Silicate Tree, and D!grith Association Enclaves, First Distributed Cryptobank, Ellore Modular Industries, the Nebula Club, Rithka Arcology, meridian transfers and local routes.  Please stand clear of the closing doors.”

– maglev announcement, Conclave Drift