Trope-a-Day: Ambadassador

Ambadassador: Enough bits of the galaxy, especially out in the Expansion Regions and Periphery, still play rough enough that… well, there’s a reason that they give many ambassadors a cruiser-class vessel (see: Standard Sci Fi Fleet) for their personal transport and in some cases embassy.  Having to fight your way out-system is hardly standard procedure, but it’s not unknown, either.

(The kaeth had always had ambassadors like this on their home planet, given their donning of something at least close to the Proud Warrior Race hat; unsurprisingly, the IDC recruits more than a few of them for exactly this purpose.)

It also plays well with their occasional deliberate venturing into Ass in Ambassador.

it’s a big stick

Gal-sabra (Falish Traverse) System
Peremptory-class diplomatic cruiser, CSS Occasionally Transigent

Lei’hudal, vizjeri,” Ambassador Cíën Lochran addressed her visitors, “be welcome here. May I offer you some refreshment after your flight? Something to eat, perhaps?”

“No, thank you. Time is pressing: let us get down to business. You said that you had received a communique from the Spire?”

“Very well. Indeed, I have received such a communique. Their Divine Majesties instruct me to inform you that the Empire, as a polity, takes no position on the current or future activities of the Theomachy of Galia.”

The Galian delegation looked at each other.

“No position?”

“Quite so.”

“We find that rather hard to believe. The Empire will make no response to anything we –”

“That is not quite what I said.”

“May I ask you to clarify, then, this lack of position?”

“With your permission to be undiplomatically explicit?”

“If necessary.”

“Their Divine Majesties do not believe that it is their place, nor yet the place of their Ministries, to dictate to sovereign realms or sovereign individuals what they may or may not do. We exercise no force majeure veto; we set no rules upon the non-consenting. You may do as you will and as you must without our constraint.” She leaned back comfortably, and continued. “Of course, in response to your actions, we reserve the right to also do as we will, and as we must, possibly with a fleet task group or two – but that should be by no means interpreted as a threat, since we have demanded of you, and will demand of you, nothing. It is merely the inevitable unwinding of certain branches of the causal graph.”

Going To War With The Army You Have

Self-quoted from a G+ discussion in which the following Rumsfeldian aphorism came up:

You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want.

It is a truth I think greatly underappreciated (especially by politicians, alas) that unless you have paid the ridiculous-even-by-the-standards-of-US-defense-budgets amount of money necessary to have a genuinely omnicompetent army, then it would behove you to go to war in a manner befitting the capabilities of the army (or space navy) you have. Otherwise bad things will ensue… as we have seen a lot in reality, including thanks to Mr. Rumsfeld drawing exactly the wrong conclusion from his above-quoted aphorism.

(In the Eldraeverse, for example, the Imperial Military Service is a finely optimized instrument for patrolling, raiding in force, special operations, and glassing things from orbit. It is, consequentially, pretty much pessimal for tasks like “occupation”, and/or “nation-building”, and if the Minister President asks for that sort of thing, it’s the job of the First Lord of the Admiralty to look him in the eye and say “no can do, sir, unless you give us the budget and the time to develop doctrine and new units for the job”.

…this does occasionally result in more glassing of things from orbit than might be ideally required, but, y’know, it’s a resource-constrained universe and it’s not like they weren’t quite clear up front as to what the steps of this dance were, belike.

Although it is occasionally convenient that the chaps over at State & Outlands can point at the IMS and say, “Well, obviously we’re not out to conquer anybody; just look at our force mix. We couldn’t if we wanted to1.”

1. Spoiler alert: they could, but it would be expensive, inconvenient, and inelegant, thus unthinkable unless really provoked. Glossing over this sort of subtlety is what they pay the diplomats for.

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”.)

Epistolary Experiment (28/30)

Republic-Worlds Peace Conference
Synchel ab Kamisir Negotation Center
Eilan (Crimson Expanse)

“You’re stalling.”

This statement from Elyse Phylarius, the senior Imperial representative at the conference, fell flatly across the conference table.

“I’m sure we don’t know what you -”

“Of course you do not, gentlesophs,” she continued. “You would have no reason to stall for time to allow your deep-penetration fleet to reach its objective, naturally. But you also might have no knowledge of the current status of that fleet, given the, ah, difficulties the Silicate Tree has been introducing into your communications recently. Permit me to enlighten you on that point.”

She reached into her briefcase, and tossed an object onto the table with a metallic clank. The kalatri representatives stared at it in silence.

The object had once been a brass plaque, now charred, space-burnt, and warped by intense heat, but despite its battered surface, the bold characters could still be made out:

VNS President Siroshin

“This arrived earlier today by fast courier from the Core. Your deep-penetration fleet, I regret to say, no longer exists. You’ll want to provenance that, of course, and no doubt consult with your goverment. Shall we reconvene in, let us say, two hours?”

“They’re lying. They’ve got to be lying.”

“Then how did they get Siroshin‘s commissioning plaque? Which is genuine. The embedded codes check out. The trace alloys check out.” Admiral Tarvil glared at the younger kalatri. “Your supposed covert operation has failed just as badly as the rest of this war.”

“They could have faked it! If they could get an agent aboard Social Harmony, they could have stolen the details of the security codes. And even if Siroshin has been destroyed, that doesn’t mean the fleet is lost. We need to give them time to complete their mission and report.”


“May I remind you, Admiral –”

“You. May. Not. When we go back into conference, Commander, I will attempt to salvage what I can from this debacle you and the rest of the Propulsion Group have dragged the Republic into. And then, we are going to have an in-depth discussion concerning exactly how many starships were destroyed and how many of my people you got killed on your idiot crusade.”

– Republic discussions at peace conference,
Second Directorate transcript

“These talks are a waste of time. We’ve got them against the wall, now. We should press our advantage! Their forces defending their side of the Borderline are weakened, demoralized! An advance, now, could take three sectors before they respond – or, hells’ favor, we could punch right through and knock out Vonis Prime!”

“The Conclave agrees!” a second voice spoke up. The Qirafian who had been sent to represent the other polities of the Worlds pushed his way to the front of the crowd. “A return to status quo ante is not acceptable to us. We require victory!”

“And there,” Elyse replied wearily, “speaks the voice of innumeracy. The Republic is eight thousand systems. We are hundreds. Even if we could take it, we could never hold it, and the Empire does not pursue wars that it can’t win, however winnable the battles look.”

“And as for the Conclave,” she continued, turning to the Qirafi deshnik, “do you have new promises with you of starships, logistics trains, occupation troops? If the Conclave wishes a full military invasion of the Republic, the Conclave needs to put its military forces where its warmongering mouth is. Our existing allies in this affair have already indicated to us that they aren’t interested in sticking any parts of themselves into that meat-grinder.”

“We could still punch out Vonis Prime!”

“Yes, we probably could do that. If we did, clionomic projections suggest that, as a tightly-controlled centralizing governance, Republic space would collapse into an extended period of anarchy, and I don’t mean ‘like us’, or even ‘like the Rim Free Zone’. I mean 8,000 worlds of chaos and warwilds. The collapse of infrastructure. Entire fleets turning to piracy. A complete bloody catastrophe, in short, and one that going to come boiling out across the Borderline and ruin all our tomorrows.”

“You didn’t object to that when it was the People’s State collapsing!”

“And if the Republic was a handful of worlds and notoriously worse as a governance than a complete absence of one ever could be, we wouldn’t object to it collapsing either. But it isn’t. In any case, gentlesophs, I strongly suggest that you take what you can get – and what we think we can get is a general return to status quo ante bellum, reparations for the damage, and half a constellation, twenty-six systems, chopped out of Vonis 31 – and be satisfied, because the only thing that could possibly be worse for us than losing this war is winning the damned thing.”

– Associated Worlds discussion at peace conference,
legate’s personal transcript

From: Elyse Phylarius
To: Ministry of State and Outlands, Republic Affairs Committee
Subject: Conference status

We got lucky this time: our allies came through for us, and with their help I was able to talk the Conclave representatives out of doing anything stupid and beat down the factions. But it was a close-run thing – we’ve got to find some way to cool things down or accelerate the timetable, or else ICE SHADOW and our hopes for inducing a peaceful fragmentation may not survive another incident.


Trope-a-Day: Language of Truth

Language of Truth: There is no first-class language of truth (that is more or less impossible), but Eldraeic was custom-designed to make speaking logical fallacies – by a variety of logics – bad mathematical statements, woeful imprecision, etc., etc., as difficult as possible if not downright ungrammatical, especially when spoken in formal registers.

While this does, as intended, make life more difficult for amateur liars, the general feeling is that even when professional liars (diplomats, say; see Will Not Tell A Lie) are called for, they really ought to be above that sort of cheap fast-talking anyway.

Trope-a-Day: Will Not Tell A Lie

Will Not Tell A Lie: Not strictly played straight with the Imperials, but mostly played straight.  They are very averse to lying, for reasons of honor/integrity, for reasons of ethics/religion (remember the appropriate verse of Elmiríën’s Truths?), for legal reasons based off of those (“falsification of information” is a public crime, and fraud, false claims, etc., are much more wide-ranging), and because as such a self-evidently superior and strong crowd, it really ought to be beneath them.  Thus, whenever they can possibly get away with it, they play it straight.

And on such occasions as it is required (“necessary lies”, permitted to certain difficult professions and certain difficult circumstances), they much prefer to mislead – or better, let you mislead yourself – obfuscate, omit, exaggerate, imply, circumlocute, equivocate and filibuster their way to victory by, ah, carefully positioning the truth rather than actually lie (and certainly won’t ever break their word to do it).  Their reputation for Will Not Tell A Lie is very useful, after all, and worth preserving.