Trope-a-Day: Space Police

Space Police: There isn’t any overall police service for the Associated Worlds – the closest thing is probably Conclave Security, which does answer directly to the Conclave of Galactic Polities, but whose jurisdiction is limited to just the Conclave Drift itself and its containing star system, and possibly the Operatives of the Presidium, who wield this kind of authority as one-off special agents.

In practice, every polity polices its own space, colonies, and the routes in between.  The Great Powers often augment this with various roving fleets, asserting universal jurisdiction over assorted free-space crimes (piracy and such, usually), providing a kind of rough-and-ready frontier law and order. The loose structure of the Accord on Uniform Security provides for limited extradition and limited cooperation between polities (and Warden-Bastion PPLs), provided that hostilities aren’t, that everyone agrees that whatever happened was in fact some sort of crime, and that everyone’s having a reasonably nice day.

Within polities, of course, situations and law enforcement structures vary.  The Empire, for example, doesn’t have a specific organization devoted to policing space.  In planetary orbit, or among clusters of drifts, the Watch Constabulary has the same jurisdiction it does planetside or within habitats, and in Imperial in-system space, the same as its rangers do in the wilderness – the specialized divisions which operate “outside” are called the Orbit Guard and the Stellar Guard, but functionally, they do not differ from the norm.  Major crimes in in-system space are handled by the Imperial Navy, but that’s functionally no different from the way that the Imperial Military Service planetside has generally been called upon to address riot, insurrection, and brigandage.

(In deep space, law enforcement is also provided by specialist units of the IN, simply because they’re the ones who can get there – and it’s outside all traditional borders anyway. And, of course, this excludes all private-conlegial/PPL bodies…)

Trope-a-Day: Realpolitik

Realpolitik: The Ministry of State and Outlands would love to be able to pursue such interests as the Empire has (which generally excludes its private interests, who tend to pursue their own foreign policies) with this much ideology-free pragmatism, but since the Empire is a strongly ideological libertist-technepraxic state, they have more often to confront the reality that they’re working for a governance, on behalf of a people – and drawn from that same people – who find some polities out there just too disgusting to deal with.

Played rather straighter with the Presidium of the Conclave of Galactic Polities, which is much more pragmatic – despite the ideological slants of its members – in the interest of preserving the stability of the Associated Worlds and the approximate neutrality of its institutions.

Trope-a-Day: Pretext for War

Pretext for War: Unfortunately, played straight more often than not in these decadent modern times when one is at least nominally supposed to try to solve ones’ differences via the Conclave of Galactic Polities, or the Galactic Trade Association, or some such.  The Imperial Ministry of State and Outlands, among others, feels a certain nostalgia for the good old days when would-be galactic warlords and interstellar imperialists would just come right out and announce that they were starting a War for Killing Those People and Taking Their Stuff, since at least it was honest and no-one had to pretend to take obvious bullshit seriously in the name of interstellar amity.

(I take this moment to note, relevantly, that bearing in mind the pointlessness of resource wars as mentioned back in No Blood For Phlebotinium and the impractical difficulty of interstellar invasions of anything but less developed colonies, most wars are fundamentally for reasons ideological, reasons prejudicial, or the interpolity equivalent of “Your Mom”.)

Trope-a-Day: Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering

Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Conclave of Galactic Polities, and how.

Its Presidium, now, they can sometimes be useful. Its organizations, they can get things done in their areas of expertise, for the most part. But the main body? Embodies We ARE Struggling Together to the point that it makes the United Nations look useful and competent.

Just as planned.

Trope-a-Day: NGO Superpower

NGO Superpower: Actually, yes.  Quite a lot, especially given the sheer range of government sizes out there, and the sizes therefore of the organizations that some of the real behemoths can host.

For a start and most prominently, most of the “Big 26” starcorporations at least have the financial resources to stand in the same rank as many large governments (and often have extensive conlegial and/or extraterritorial holdings), and above the small ones.  Special note here goes to Gilea & Company, ICC, the banking starcorp which routinely makes large sovereign loans out of its private assets and treats polities no differently from any other customers – and when Gilea & Co., who stand behind or advise, in one way or another, an appallingly large percentage of the galactic economy, sneezes, entire economies catch the plague and die;

Ring Dynamics, ICC, which owns and leases most of the galaxy’s interstellar transportation network;

And Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC, which provides security services, military contracting, and mercenary brokerage, and if it cared to gather all of the forces beholden to it in one place, could make a respectable showing against most Great Power fleets, and unquestionably defeat lesser polities on its own.  (It doesn’t; its owners aren’t interested in assuming the responsibilities of sovereignty, and agree with the unspoken “Iron Concord” among the Powers that mercenaries should be paid to make war, not paid not to make war.  But it is happy to rent its mercenaries to other starcorps in need of a forceful solution to Static defaulters or expropriators, pour décourager les autres.)

(While no individual runs it or controls it to any significant extent, the collective intelligence of the Seranth Exchange has similar potency when it comes to the way that shifts in its market can affect things out and about in the Worlds.)

The others are less obviously potent, but smart polities understand that it’s a bad idea to make an enemy of say, StellEx (if you want your logistics to keep moving), Bright Shadow (who sold you your Internet), Telememe (who publish the news that the newscorps read), Traders in Ideation (unless you love getting FRM errors), Riverside Eubiosis and Crystal Flame (since your citizens may not appreciate a renewed outbreak of mortality), etc., etc.  Even much smaller starcorps than the 26 are accustomed to negotiating terms with local governments on a much more even footing than one might expect.

There are also, of course, a number of “non-politan”, unaligned seed AIs, who despite being singleton intelligences have all the production capacity and coordination ability of a (usually minor) polity.

A number of non-profit groups, mostly a mix of “direct action charities” and more self-interested “information brokers” – some of both of which are functionally privately run intelligence agencies – are in approximately the same league as some of the smaller starcorps – they have to walk a bit cautiously around (which by no means means “avoiding conflict with”) the Powers and the larger polities, but on those occasions when they think it will help – which, in fairness, they usually don’t, because it rarely does – they can slap a few smaller polities and single-system nations around a bit.  And a lot of them are more than happy to hire UARC or other merc outfits for this purpose, when necessary, although the latter especially prefer manipulation and memetic subversion than getting into out-and-out conflict.

And out in the Expansion Regions and other more shadowy corners of the worlds, some less scrupulous large mercenary organizations and the odd criminal syndicate can exert a lot of influence over local politics, more than enough to hold their own against the local polities.

Oddly enough, averted where most terrorist organizations are concerned.  Mostly because unlike most of the above, by definition the terrorist organizations go too far – which is unfortunate for them when the opposition tends to be people like the Imperial Navy, whose Combat Pragmatism and notions of cost-effectiveness are such that, for example, if told that the terrorist leader is hiding in an impenetrable range of cave-ridden mountains, will reply “okay, fine, we’ll just bombard them from orbit until the sonofabitch has to learn to breathe lava”.  And if it’s something less terrain-y – well, the Laws and Customs of War are very clear on this: voluntarily standing in the crowd the enemy is hiding in, once you’ve been warned, is giving aid and comfort to the enemy and the ensuing predictable consequences are entirely your own fault.

Subverted a little with the Conclave of Galactic Polities, even with the tremendous law enforcement powers and independence of the Operatives of its Presidium, mostly because it works very much for the highly select list of Great Powers making up said Presidium.

Epistolary Experiment (7/30)

“What did you do?

“You must have done something, Presiding Minister. You’re the ones provoking the Republic at every opportunity. You’re the ones researching everything they fear, pushing out beyond their space! And now Republic ships are attacking our border worlds and we are made to pay your butcher’s bill.”

“So we have a right to know: what did you do?”

– records of the Conclave of Galactic Polities

From: Calis Corith (Presiding Minister)
To: Imperial Security Executive

[enc: Conclave records]

The deshnik has at least part of a point. From the pattern of the attack, it would appear that the Republic push into the Reaches was a diversionary attack to let them slip something past us in the Expanses. The Qirafian delegates are talking about attacks in the vicinity of Loranzer System. That suggests they’re pushing corewards rather than inwards.

Do you chaps have any operations in the region or other insights to offer?










From: Imogen Andracanth, VP Research
To: Imperial Naval Intelligence

Let’s talk, shall we?

– from the Ring Dynamics corporate e-mail archive




Trope-a-Day: Combat Referee

Combat Referee: The Presidium of the Conclave of Galactic Polities, who like galactic stability, but know that they can’t – even on those occasions when they all agree – eliminate all the wars within their ambit.  They can, on the other hand, keep wars relatively small and prevent anyone from going “too far” by enforcing the Laws and Customs of War with a ready and a heavy hand.

The Burning of Litash (5)

“These images are taken from the records provided by the command vessel of the fleet that carried out ‘Operation Ruby Gauntlet Sable’, the Unyielding Order…”

The ravaged planet hung in the center of the Conclave amphitheater, surface black and charred save for its fiery disfigurement; a crater over a thousand miles wide, filled with a sea of magma welling up through the world’s cracked crust, belching steam into the wracked air at its edge where it intersected the former coast.  Newborn volcanoes shouldered their way into the sky at its fringes and along radiating cracks, as the world heaved in the orogenic aftershocks of the detonation.

“These are simply the primary effects of the strangelet bomb deployed by the Empire’s task force.  The detonation set the atmosphere of the planet ablaze.  Firestorms driven by the pressure wave swept around the world, incinerating not merely everyone who escaped the initial blast, but the entire planetary ecology.  The direct radiation and particle showers produced by the bomb have rendered much of the planet radioactive.  That alone will render Litash unhabitable for a thousand years.”


“Ah, ni Korat, sit down.  I’m surprised you wanted to be seen meeting at a time like this.”

“We’re already so close to you in the public eye, it’ll hardly matter.  And all of us are nervous right now – everyone’s counting on me to find out what’s going on.”


“Technically, this is not a violation of the Accords as written.  Litash was not a signatory to any of the Accords, nor has there been any specific prohibition on the use of strangelet weapons.  Litash was a world which supported piracy, slavetaking, and other crimes against Accord members; a general threat to all the Worlds.  None of us here would quibble with the right of any Accord member to destroy the Litashian fleet with no quarter given, nor to prosecute general warfare against the Litashian government.  But this!  This is the destruction of an entire world, its entire population, its entire ecology.  This cannot be tolerated by the galactic community, surely.  If a smaller polity of the Accord had done this, it would be subject to the most severe censure, and it must therefore be so even if one of the Powers.”


“They’re really out for blood.  All your old enemies and half the neutrals are salivating over the chance to stick the knife into one of the Presidium powers.”

“I should certainly hope they are.”


“The Qiraf Assembly concurs with the League of Meridian.  While not a technical violation of the Accords, this attack violates their spirit in every way possible.  We condemn the actions of the Empire in destroying Litash-world in the strongest possible terms, and call for them to provide surety that they will never again use weapons of this nature!”


“We’ve always been your allies, and now we’re going to be caught in the backlash of this. All your allies are going to be caught in it.  Dammit, Calis, what are you going to do?

“We have it in hand.  Trust me on this.”


“This was an act of barbarism, of madness!  We cannot permit this to happen again!  The Calyet Guard demands that this assembly condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms, and we urge the other Presidium powers to take action immediately to prevent these madmen from repeating it!”


“But what are you going to –“


“The Presiding Minister for the Empire, Calis Corith-ith-Corith, now has the floor.”

“Gentlesophs of the Conclave, honorable representatives, at this time I would introduce Ambassador Extraordinary Cyprium-ith-Aelies, who speaks on our behalf.”

“Presiding Ministers, Representatives of the Conclave, on behalf of the Empire, I stand before you today to speak on the matter of the destruction, the burning – as the media is calling it – of Litash.  Let me first be clear on one point: we maintain absolutely that the destruction of the Litashian fleet, as active agents in piracy, slavetaking, and other crimes against sophoncy, was within our sovereign rights, as it would have been within those of any Accord member.  Moreover, we further maintain that the destruction of not merely the Litashian government, but also of the Litashian population, was justified as active supporters of these agents.  I remind you that the Litashian economy was principally driven by support for the criminal activities of its so-called fleet.”

“This being said, however, we acknowledge the legitimate concerns of the representatives here gathered where the excessive destructive power – unanticipated even by our own forces, as the bridge transcript records of the Unyielding Order show – of the strangelet bomb is concerned.  We do not desire any further destruction of worlds or ecologies to take place, at our hands, or indeed at any others’.”

“Therefore, the Empire moves that the Ley Accords be amended to include strangelet bombs, star- and planet-targeted respectively, as Tier I and Tier II prohibited instruments under Chapter I; and moves further that the protections and prohibitions of Chapter I be extended to all worlds and systems, not merely those actively claimed by Accord signatories.”

With that, the entire amphitheater erupted in general tumult, all but a few chagrined faces among the crowd – some of the former condemners prominent among them.


“You devious –“

“Would we ever have got those amendments passed if we’d proposed them cold? As it stands, the pirates are eliminated and the ambitions of a few dozen rogue states against their neighbors and Peripheral non-signatories will be neutered for the next century or two, all at the cost of one ecopoesed ecology duplicated elsewhere. All for the good of the Worlds, wouldn’t you say?”

Very, Very Small States

“The Microstatic Commission is the Impies’ bad joke at the expense of the rest of us.  You don’t really think they care about thousands of tiny freeholds, do you?  It’s just another means they use to defeat anyone’s attempt to build real institutions and real stability in the Worlds, in the same way as they use the bully pulpit of their Presidium seat to defeat any attempts to give the Conclave some teeth.”

“They encumber the Accord with hundreds, at least, of insignificant delegations – and at the same time, by forcing their recognition and permitting them to equip themselves with military-grade weaponry, they hamstring any actual polity’s attempt to deal with separatist movements, money laundering, tax havens, smuggling, data havens, citizenships-of-convenience, and the other various violations of sophont rights that come along with permitting this promiscuous multiplication of sovereignties by anyone who can get a ship out beyond claimed volumes!”

– Ambassador Sev Mal Criol, League of Meridian

“The Imperials certainly do have their own reasons for propping up the Microstatic Commission and thereby all we free drifts and small freesoil worlds.  I’ve never believed otherwise – for myself, I think they do find us useful in their ideological competition with the centralizing factions in the Accord – and I doubt very much any of my colleagues are naïve enough to do so either.  But they don’t require that we agree with them, vote with them, fight with them, or trade with them – or, indeed, apparently do anything but exist – in exchange for lending the weight of their credence to our sovereignty, and so we don’t really care what those reasons are.”

“As long as they don’t change, anyway.  But for centuries past and for now, it’s helped keep us free and independent of the polities we abandoned and old-school imperialists like Sev Mal’s League, and that’s good enough for me.”

– Ambassador Restal ni Korat an Aiym, Autarchic Habitat of Koesnrat (pop. 47)

“Well, of course we have our own reasons, but they’re hardly as cynical as even Ambassador ni Korat an Aiym implies.  Just because it is a matter of ideology doesn’t mean that it’s not sincere – and I will ask you the same question I would ask any of the challengers of the Microstatic Commission’s members’ rights.  How many does it take to be considered sovereign?  A hundred, a thousand, a million?  A billion?  Why not a trillion, while we’re setting thresholds, and throw quite a few of the loudest complainers out of the Accord?”

“We maintain that this number is one – as our own constitutional arrangements would imply to anyone who studied them – because no larger kind of sovereignty existed until this one, and that one, and those other ones, came together to make them with their own powers.  And should some thousands, or some hundreds, or some tens, or even one alone choose to exercise it themselves, we’ll support them in that.  As a matter of principle.”

– Presiding Minister Calis Corith-ith-Corith, Empire of the Star

“All of these are true.”

– ‘Victoria Diarch’, pseudonymous extranet pundit

Apotheosis As Usual

”There have been many questions raised in this body and elsewhere, since our Reorganization, concerning the new status of the Empire and of our new Transcend. Some of them have come attached to transparently political proposals – to the discomfiture of our true hive-mind members, such as our honorable friends representing the vlcefc, hjera, and cusaron – to refashion the political arrangements of the Accord. It is not our intention to address these proposals here and now, or where and ever. We remain, and shall remain, a founder of the Accord and seated upon the Presidium.”

”In clarification of some salient points, however, the Transcend and the Empire are not coextensive. Not every Imperial citizen-shareholder is one of the Transcendi. For this reason sufficiently, the Empire is maintained as a polity distinct from and a superset of the Transcend.”

”Nor is the Transcend a hive mind in the traditional sense. We remain individuals, though united on some mental strata. While the consensus of the Transcend does now perform much of our group planning, our government will remain the instrumentality through which it is executed.”

”And certainly, we could devise some method of prioritization and resource allocation operating through the Transcend, which knows all of our requirements and desires, but – especially now that it allows us to share information most effectively – there is no need to when our internal market already performs these tasks with a theoretical efficiency equal to the best possible planning routine, with far less waste of centralizing bandwidth and cycles involved.”

”Which is to say, sophonts of the Accord, that our operations, as they interface with yours, continue as before; that all treaties and contracts will be honored; that your investments continue to be safe and profitable; and that Imperial space remains, as ever, open for commerce and pleasure.”

– Calis Corith-ith-Corith, Presiding Minister for the Empire,
excerpt of a speech to the Conclave of Galactic Polities

Trope-a-Day: Cultural Posturing

Cultural Posturing: All the Great Powers of the Worlds are prone to this – with varying degrees of justification (see, for example, Can’t Argue With Elves, when their sensibilities are particularly offended, and remember that these are the people who consider pride a virtue) – and have been since before your ancestors first oozed out of your homeworld’s primordial slime, so there!  (Also, specifically, the variant that runs, approximately, SOMEONE IS WRONG IN THE GALAXY.)

(In fact, it’s probably a substantial amount of the dialog at the Conclave of Galactic Polities, on a good day, and much of the rest is trying to shame people into doing things based on their Cultural Posturing.)

On the Drift

The Conclave Drift. The jewel at the heart of the Associated Worlds, it is the heart of the Accord community; the seat of the Conclave of Galactic Polities, the most comprehensive center of interpolity diplomacy in the Worlds; an unofficial cultural, commercial and financial capital for hundreds of species and star nations; and the most tightly packed polyspecific community anywhere in the known galaxy.

Located very close to the center of the Worlds – just one gate away from Eliera, Palaxias and Cinnaré by arterial – in the Accordance system, the Conclave Drift is also at the heart of Imperial space. While system security is provided by detached units of the Imperial Capital Fleet under Conclave authority, the system is legally neutral territory open to the passage of all; the diplomatic vessels of even the Empire’s avowed enemies are permitted free passage to Accordance, in peace or war.

(The Drift owes its location to the willingness of the Empire both to provide an otherwise empty – except for a few support facilities – star system to house it, to accept the principle of free passage to and from the Drift, and to defray by far the largest part of the construction expenses and operational overhead. Much of this, in practice, was paid for by private interests which foresaw the advantages of such a hub, and indeed, the Empire’s commerce has reaped considerable benefits from playing host to the Conclave and its hangers-on.)

The Drift itself orbits 52 million miles from the hot, white star Accordance. It is the largest drift-habitat ever constructed (excluding the hexterranes at Corícal Ailék) at 36 miles long, a gleaming, fluted flame lily against the void of space.

The stem of the lily hosts the drift’s microgravity infrastructure, a short mile-long stalk.  Most visitors to the Drift will dock here, at the far end of the Stem, and take a transport pod to their intended destination.

Abutting the utilitarian Stem is the Conclave Mall, a wide habitat ring clad in shimmering gold cerametal plating.  It contains the heart of the Drift’s official functions; the offices of the various organizations attached to the Conclave, embassies and offices from the various polities represented in it, offices of the largest starcorporations, and a few restaurants, shopping districts and private residences for the Worlds’ elite.  While most of the Mall is maintained as a compromise mid-range oxygen-breather environment, of note are the Alternate Environment Sectors between the 40 and 160 meridia, for the use of species preferring ammonia, halogen, methane, sulphide, or hydrogen environments.  The spin gravity is maintained at a third of standard (“just enough to keep your feet on the floor”), in deference to the aquatic and aerial members of the Conclave, and the simulated day-night cycle matches Imperial Standard Time.

But with a few exceptions (such as the Crescent Bar – one of the galaxy’s largest hotels, with an open-air bar which crosses the entire width of the Mall, which most of the unofficial business of the Worlds passes through at some time or other, and which still maintains a welcoming atmosphere, an excellent cuisine, and an unmatched drink selection – opposite the Conclave Chambers at the 180 meridian), the businesslike and relatively ascetic environs of the Mall are not the reason why travelers for pleasure should visit the Drift.  The excitement happens in the Petals.

The “flower” of the Drift, the Petals, curves outwards in a single sculpted megastructure 32 miles from the ring of the Mall to its open end, its polished silver cerametal coating gleaming white in the light of Accordance.  While the structure of the Petals itself contains transport systems and other low-level infrastructure, within it is the true bustling city of the drift, the Enclaves. Every polity associated with the Conclave is permitted to claim an region within the Petals, which it may then develop as it sees fit; a bustling throng of miniature cities in myriad architectural styles and environments, home to nearly 20 million embodied sophonts.  The Enclaves never sleep – following an early-established custom, there is no alternation of day and night in the Petals – and at any time of the cycle, business is done, entertainments are to be found, meals to be had, and there is always something to do.

While there are tens of thousands of places to visit in the Petals, here are some of our particular favorites…

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Conclave Drift

Scavengers, Ye Be Warned


With the voice and under the authority of the Galactic Volumetric Registry of the Conclave of Galactic Polities, this buoy issues the following warning:

The designated volume, including the englobed moon and its satellites, is a SECURED AREA by order of the Presidium of the Conclave. This volume MAY NOT BE APPROACHED for any reason.

This moon contains the remnant of a Class Three Perversion, including autonomous defensive technologies and other operational mechanisms, nanoviruses, infectious memes, certainty-level persuasive communicators, puppet ecologies, archives which must be presumed to contain resurrection seeds, and unknown other existential risks.  These dangers have not been disarmed, suppressed, or fully contained.

ACCEPT NO COMMUNICATION REQUESTS originating from within the englobed volume.  Memetic and information warfare systems are not known to be entirely inactive.

If any communication requests are received from the englobed volume, or other activity is noted within it, you must depart IMMEDIATELY, and report this activity to the Conclave Commission on Latent Threats WITHOUT DELAY.  A renascence of a perversion of this class poses a most serious and imminent threat to all local space and extranet-local systems.

Further, the englobement systems surrounding this volume are equipped for containment of remaining unidentified threats and the prevention of access. Any vessel approaching within 250,000 miles of the englobement grid, or attempting to communicate through the englobement grid, or attempting to actively scan through the englobement grid, will be fired upon without further warning.  Your presence has already been reported to higher authority, and escaping after transgressing the englobement grid will therefore not preserve you.

Naval vessels should note that this area has been deemed a black-level existential threat zone by the Presidium of the Conclave. This englobement grid does not respond to standard Accord command or diagnostic sequences. Interaction should not be attempted without explicit authorization and clearance from the Commission on Latent Threats.


No further warnings will be given.

Trope-a-Day (R): The Alliance

The Alliance: The Conclave of Galactic Polities.  Which sounds like it runs the Galaxy, actually in theory runs the relatively small chunk of the Galaxy called the Associated Worlds, and in actual practice does so slightly less well than the United Nations runs Earth.  But it is spectacularly less pretentious about it, which helps, as does the fact that at least four of the five star nations powerful enough to get a seat on the Presidium agree on – if nothing else – that while they like its authority kept solid enough to make communications, trade, IP law, borders, and the conventions of civilized warfare work, they also like it kept tenuous enough so as not to significantly interfere with their arguably sacred sovereign right to do whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they feel like doing it, as long as it doesn’t totally screw up the interstellar status quo.