Trope-a-Day: Do Not Adjust Your Set

Do Not Adjust Your Set: The obvious canonical example is the Emergency Notification System, run jointly by the Watch Constabulary and Emergency Management Authority, which can send out a signal across the IIP mesh network preempting every device to deliver an emergency notification. Subverted inasmuch as it can be overridden freely at the receiving end, on the grounds that if there’s a gorram emergency going on, people might need to use those devices.

(There is also is counterpart, the Emergency Monitoring System. Separate from the basic functionality in which devices that perceive an emergency happening locally will report it of their own volition, the EMS permits a code to be sent out instructing all devices within a specific area to activate all their sensors and report what they perceive to the WC/EMA. Again, this is optional functionality – no-one has to participate for obvious privacy and property reasons – but rather depends on the authorities being trustworthy and individuals being mutually responsible citizens…)

Delta

Sixty-two thousand feet above the surface of Eliéra, Gaëlenén’s Cup coasted slowly in its perpetual circuit, seven of her eight fission-driven pusher fans only ticking over, yet still able to drive her through the air at a relaxed 480 knots. The Emergency Management Authority’s superwing was a massive delta of titanium composite, five-decked and fully 600′ from one of her wingtip vertical stabilizers to the other; her underside studded with the blisters of pod launchers, and the closed doors to the flight gantries from which she could dispatch, at need, her multiple wings of reconnaissance drones, rescue and clean-up craft, intervention vehicles, and heavy field constructors.

Today, though, Cup was not alone in the sky. A K-50C Roustabout paralleled her course only two hundred feet above, auxiliary thrusters battling the wake turbulence, such that it could keep station above and in front of the open dorsal hatch of Cup’s silent engine. The Roustabout had its rear hatch fully open, exposing the cavernous length of its fuselage, and its cargo crane extended, lowering lines down to where Cup’s aircraftsmen waited to catch them with rocket grapples, and hook them onto the pellet containment of the engine’s dedicated reactor. A second containment module, pregnant with fresh thorium and borate, waited inside the Roustabout.

Emergencies, after all, wait for no soph, and take no account of the necessities of maintenance or refueling.

And so Cup had never landed in her eighteen-year service life. And with proper care and attention, she never would.

 

Trope-a-Day: The Ark

The Ark: One of the projects of the Emergency Management Authority/Fifth Directorate are the “Civilization-Backup Ships”, ark vessels hidden in deep space with as close to a complete backup of civilization as can be managed – the notion being that in the event of an extant existential threat large enough to threaten the survival of civilization entire (what’s called in the jargon a hard civilization kill event), they’ll come online under CASE NIGHTFALL ASUNDER, get the hell out of Dodge, and reboot it somewhere else.

Trope-a-Day: Apocalyptic Logistics

Apocalyptic Logistics: Enabled, to some degree, by the way in which the Imperial Emergency Management Authority is staffed by ever Crazy Prepared-type that the Imperial Service has available. (Manufacturing is made somewhat easier by cornucopias, but they too depend on central nanoslurry supplies and energy supplies, so it’s not like they’re a panacea in this department.) But the EMA is notorious for its Crisis Citadels, entire mountains and asteroids stuffed with emergency supplies of all kinds, and their smaller local counterparts, and their deployable disaster pods – and even for sponsoring the engineering of things like home-growable pharm plants. Oh, and emergency command centers build aboard giant flying-wing aircraft that never land to ensure that ground-based disasters can’t take them out. Which are themselves redundant. (In full accordance with the traditions of the Imperial governance – it may not do much, by design, but those things it does do it does very well indeed.)

As a side note, it also helps that Flamic doctrine takes its negentropy seriously, and as such the faithful are expected to be as well prepared for emergencies as, say, the Mormons, with some extra emphasis on rebuilding.

…civilization may one day fall, but the forces of entropy are going to have to work for anything much more than a stumble.

Trope-a-Day: Red Alert

Red Alert: In the Imperial Navy, played with realism (also with the Most Annoying Sound, inasmuch as the alert klaxon is custom-designed to irritate the nerves of every possible sophont listening, simultaneously):

“General quarters!  General quarters!  Set condition one throughout the ship!  This Is Not A Drill!

The Admiralty, Core Command and the Theater Commands in particular, prefers to use Defcon Five as its system, as do the Imperial Emergency Management Authority for states of civil emergency, and the Imperial Security Executive for local security warnings (a.k.a. our “terror alerts” and their “recommended paranoia levels”).

Military installations, the Constabulary, the EMA, hospitals, etc., do often have a bunch of color-coded response codes (“alerts” and “conditions”) to instruct everyone exactly which immediate situation they ought to be responding to, however, so the “emergency squad scramble” aspect of this trope is played straight.

Trope-a-Day: Elaborate Underground Base

Elaborate Underground Base: The Imperial Military Service (various, with special props going to the Imperial Navy’s hollow hangar moon at Palaxias IIb), the Imperial Emergency Management Authority’s Crisis Citadels, more than a few data havens, the original location of Argyran Depository, the Nightfall Complexes (retreats for city populations in the event of nuclear war, asteroid impact, etc.), and oh, yes, all the entire cities built down there by people who just found that they liked it…

Trope-a-Day: Defcon Five

Defcon Five: Three of these systems, actually.  The Admiralty has its “strategic condition” levels, in both global and theater senses, ranging from Six (“all is peaceful, quiet, tranquil, and frankly boring”) to One (“full-blown war, or, if this is the global level, galactic armageddon”).

Likewise, the Emergency Management Authority has its “civil emergency states” on a matching scale, where Six is “everything’s working just like it should, no trouble”, and One is “did anyone get the number of that asteroid?”; and the Imperial Security Executive has its “exceptional security alertness” scale, colloquially known as the “recommended paranoia level”, which runs Blue, White, Amber, Red, Violet, Black, where Blue is “nothing to see here” and Black is “total shitstorm, kill anything vaguely suspicious on sight, apologize later”.

Trope-a-Day: Big Brother Is Watching

Big Brother Is Watching: And his name, in the Empire, is Citizen Oversight.

Subverted, rather, inasmuch as it’s not principally a law enforcement instrumentality.  It, and its extensive surveillance/geolocation/other-sensory grid, drones, etc. – in public spaces only, and privately-owned-but-open-to-the-public don’t count (i.e., those places where, by law and custom, you have no expectation of privacy) – and its data mining/correlation application exist primarily to provide the raw data feed that gets broken down into the statistical information that even a government as minimal as the Empire’s needs to keep things running efficiently.  (Indeed, Citizen Oversight is not part of the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity with the other law enforcement/security instrumentalities; it’s under the Ministry of the Empire, instead, which mostly handles civic infrastructure functions and includes the Protectorate of Balance, Externality, and the Commons.)

They do, however, have non-sophont AI monitors watching the raw feed which will drop a line to the Watch Constabulary if they see a need for police or paramedics, or to the Emergency Management Authority, or to the people responsible for doing maintenance on public property, and so on and so forth.

Subverted doubly inasmuch as this is by no means a private government grid; under the Transparency Act – and because it helps to pay for it – it’s available for use by any member of the public who wants it, from advertisers, journalists, sousveillants and bloggers to the old lady down the street, with the commensurate uses they find for it in play.

It is to be noted that this isn’t supposed to be dystopian, nor would the notion that it might be even occur to anyone there – despite the fact that I, for one, wouldn’t trust any Earth government with even a fraction of this kind of panopticon.  In a culture that is both vastly more freewheeling than ours in most ways (and strongly maintains the notion in etiquette of not interfering in that which is not your proper concern) and which supports a much smaller and less intrusive government… well, the locals like the notion that ambulances will be dispatched to accidents before they’re done happening, that the police will always be called as soon as possible, that problems are reported instantly, that all the advertising they see is relevant to their interests, etc.

In Time of Emergency, The Rules Suspend The Rules

Under section 31(c) of the Imperial Emergency Management Act (Revised), 4111, in fulfillment of the Charter mandate to promote the common and mutual defense of civilization from cataclysms of nature, and exercising by herein-authorized proxy the Responsibility of Eminent Domain;

When a Class II or higher emergency has been declared by the Imperial Emergency Management Authority, or when an emergency is in progress and the Emergency Communications System is off-line;

And in the absence of duly Mandate-authorized authority, including all officers of the Ministry of Harmonic Observance;

In such situations as it shall be necessary to prevent further harm to life or property, or to perform essential works of infrastructure reconstruction, citizen-shareholders shall be authorized to enter unattended commercial (retail or storage) property, containing construction materials or repair supplies, within the zone of the Emergency in an orderly manner, and appropriate therefrom such goods as are necessary for the prevention of harm or performance of essential works, as stated.  Such appropriations shall be recorded at the site from which they were made, and the owners of said property may claim due recompense at the market price for such appropriations from the Imperial Emergency Management Authority.

Citizen-shareholders are reminded that the appropriation of any goods not required to prevent harm to life or property or to perform essential works of infrastructure reconstruction, to fail to properly record all such appropriations, or to cause any unnecessary property damage, or to leave property vulnerable to further damage, in the course of such appropriation is forbidden under section 31(c) of the aforementioned Act, and shall constitute the crime of looting.  In times of Class II or higher emergency, looters are considered enemies of the public safety, and are to be shot on sight; citizen-shareholders are further reminded that the law enforcement duty is the responsibility of every citizen-shareholder, especially in emergency situations.

It should also be noted that the privilege of appropriation conferred by section 31(c) is intended to cover emergencies of unusual duration, and that the responsible citizen-shareholder should not consider it a substitute for individual crisis readiness, as delineated on pp. 432-440.  Remember, a prepared Empire is a safe Empire!

– Codex of Civic Services and Citizen Responsibilities, 117th edition