Space Western: While, not being historically connected to Earth culture, many of the traditional trappings of the Western are absent, the attitude persists throughout much of the Expansion Regions, where central authorities are distant and frontier colonies fairly rugged by necessity, and even in the outback regions of colony worlds closer to the Core.
Order in Council,
64th Meeting of the Stellar Council, 4941.
We deem it regrettable that the once-proud name of the Valonar Interactate, once associated with the highest ideals of liberty and technological progress and a beacon for civilization in the Expansion Regions, has now become a byword for the fall into barbarism. They have chosen to renounce enlightened libertism and abandon their own creation, selling their own freedoms in exchange for the oppressive perversion of mass-minded sédármódan egalitarianism.
Respecting their right to choose, We will not forbid them their own chosen damnation.
Notwithstanding this, the planetary Interactate now wages war on its in-system colonies, seeking to subject them – will they, nil they – to the same system it has chosen for itself.
As of this day, acting on behalf of the now-exiled people of the outer Valonar colonies whose petitions for relief and desire to elect Imperial membership have been relayed to Us, We request and require all instrumentalities of Our government to take any steps necessary to protect and, if necessary, liberate these colonies, hereafter designated the Lis Core Exclave, and to bring them into Our Care;
And to that end, We appoint Tricíël Amanyr-ith-Amaranyr, Magnate, as Our legate to establish Imperial governance within the Exclave, in accordance with its customary forms, and Admiral Stane Rysar-ith-Rysakar, Capital Fleet Heavy Flotilla, as Warmain of the Lis Corridor;
And we request and require them to proceed without delay to the Lis Core Exclave, there to take possession of said realm in Our Name and end all conflict therein.
Given under Our Hand and Seal this day, 18th Telenith, 4941.
Admiral of the Fleet Erraine Tsurilen Inachios, OP, O. Vic.,
First Lord of the Admiralty
Protector of the Starways
Warden of the Charted Void
Warlord of the Empire
for and on behalf of
Linariel Andracanth Falranna
by right of Coronargyr and Chartered Mandate
Empress of the Eldrae
Chief Executive Officer of the Imperium Incorporate
First of the Free
Defender of the Star’s Flame
Heart of the Realm
Sovereign Lady of the Heights and Depths
Dyarch of the Infinite
“Context is important.”
“Take, for example, this syringe. From an objective perspective, it contains a small quantity of greyish fluid, a suspension of nanoviruses and proto-cytomachines in impure saline. Not the most commonplace of objects, but hardly a rarity, either.”
“A pharmacist, however, would recognize it as an alpha-baseline corpus-editor, which while delightfully sophisticated in its own way, is a simple proteus treatment; one which you could well purchase on the open market for a few selenis, were it not that our desire that neither the newly born nor the newly immigrated should walk around crippled in mind and body ensures that every medical facility from the homeworld to the Exclaves has gallons of the stuff on hand.”
“And off in the more backward parts of the Expansion Regions, those in a position to know would recognize it as an object of great value indeed; an object of delight and terror and desire and horror, to be bought with the wealth of nations, fought over, warred over, controlled, proscribed, smuggled, praised, condemned, and worshipped. Out there it makes heroes, villains, supermen, devils, and gods.”
“To reiterate, then, an object’s context is important. Especially when you find yourself with a few displacement-tons of them on an unfamiliar world, and a pressing need for hold-space.”
To begin at the beginning, the galaxy in which we dwell, the Starfall Arc, is a barred spiral galaxy, possessing four major spiral arms, and attended by a number of satellite galaxies, most prominent among which are the Greater and Lesser Ancíël Whirls. These arms, from innermost to outermost, are Arilíäza, Vierníäza, Lethíäza (with its outer spur Sulíäza), and Dúraníäza. The Associated Worlds are to be found near the outer edge of the Lethíäza arm.
The most important part of the Starfall Arc for us, as sophonts, is the middle third, encompassing Vierníäza, Lethíäza, and Sulíäza; those stars further from the galactic core than one-third of the galaxy’s radius, the Inner Third Ring, and so far enough away to avoid the high radiation, prevalence of supernovae, and other hazards of the core, and yet still close enough to for carbon and heavier elements to be prevalent in quantities sufficient to support the evolution of life. The pulsar Tehelmír, the galactographic reference point closest to the center of the Associated Worlds, sits almost precisely in the center of this third, close to the galactic plane.
The Associated Worlds themselves make up a small fraction of one piece of this described life-friendly region. In theory, the Associated Worlds are composed of six nested spherical regions similar to a palel-fruit, from innermost to outermost:
The Imperial Core, the heartland of the Empire, containing the eldrae homeworld, the Thirteen Colonies, and other tightly-linked purely Imperial worlds;
The Imperial Fringe, a half-dozen highly Imperialized – but not exclusively Imperial – constellations close to the Imperial Core;
The Associated Worlds, the majority of the developed constellations of the Worlds, and what might be considered “civilized space”;
The Expansion Regions, the areas of the Periphery near the developed Worlds, currently targeted for colonization or other development by various polities of the Worlds, but not yet “fully civilized”. The busy transitional zone between the worlds, and;
The Periphery, the furthest reaches of the stargate plexus, containing few if any colonies, and still being fully mapped and explored by the Grand Survey and other astrographic organizations.
The Outback, that area of space which, while unconnected to the stargate plexus, has still been reached by lighthuggers or starwisp probes, manned or unmanned, and so known to the Worlds in some terms not purely astronomical. Everything beyond the Outback, space which has never been visited and is known only by astronomy, is simply the Beyond.
This simple theoretical picture, of course, is a nonsense. The boundaries of the stargate plexus sprawl thousands of light years wide, and the galactic disk is not so thick; and colonization has not proceeded equally in all directions, but has proceeded more vigorously to coreward than to rimward. Thus, the true shape of the Worlds resembles more a flattened egg, its point towards the galactic core; and to acme and nadir, the Expansion Regions are thin and the Periphery nonexistent, squeezed out by the edge of the useful galaxy.
Also, along its spinward edge, the stargate plexus of the Associated Worlds has intermingled, along a line three constellations in size, with that of the Voniensa Republic, another galactic civilization of nearly equal scope, again flattening the spinward side of the Worlds. The area of the Expansion Regions closest to the Republic, the Crimson Expanse, Csell Buffer, and Vanguard Reaches, is informally known as the Seam. The Expansion Regions and Periphery are thin here to spinward, as there has been little expansion of the plexus in areas which would be actively contested by the Republic.
And finally, as you might expect, these terms are themselves broadly disputed. Few outside the Empire use the terms Imperial Core or Imperial Fringe, preferring not to escalate any polity of the Worlds above the others, galactographically speaking, or at least choosing their own to so escalate. The term Associated Worlds, therefore, commonly refers to all of the developed systems within the Expansion Regions, including both the Core and the Fringe. The use of the term Expansion Regions, too, is often controversial in its application to any given constellation both by Peripherals who dislike creeping colonization, and by those worlds which wish to consider themselves part of the metropolitan, and thus developed, Worlds.
Also unmentioned is the so-called Inner Periphery. While the web of constellations incorporates many of the stars technically within the outer boundary of the stargate plexus, many remain unconnected, and accessible only by lighthugger. While most of these have been visited, at least by unmanned probes, they are not considered part of their containing galactic region, due to their inaccessibility, forming a backwater region intermingled with the heart of civilized space.
Having defined these principal astrographic divisions of the space we inhabit, we can now discuss the economic, cultural, and less formal divisions of the Worlds.
SYSADMINS WANTED, INFOMORPHS PREFERRED – Site systems administrators wanted to manage long-range extranet relay stations in the Expansion Regions. Infomorphs preferred, cybershells and bioshells accepted but must provide own IMS44 hab module and breathing gases if necessary. Companions accommodated at own expense. Skills required: IIP, extranet interchange routing, cloud servers, auton agent management, local-space mesh, including wireless EM and whisker-laser, metashl scripting, tangle, blacknet protocols, and interchange perimeter security (min. 6 wall-clock years live experience). Psych requirement: no to minimal negative isolation response. 2-year contract, pays 24k over standard for hardship/hazard, full backup cover and personal bandwidth allowance. Contact Litheia Elethandrion, Sophont Contracting, Outer Ring Netweavers, ICC.
Omnicidal Maniac: Fortunately, very, very rare, and generally outnumbered by everyone else. The best-known canonical example is the seed AI of the Charnel Cluster, discovered by a scouting lugger, which upon activation set about destroying all life within the said cluster – leading to a half-dozen systems of fragmented habitats and planets covered in decaying – but sterile – organic slush that used to be the systems’ sophonts, animals, plants, bacteria, viruses, and everything else that might even begin to qualify as living. Fortunately, at this point, the perversion broke down before it could carry on with the rest of the galaxy.
In current time, the Charnel Cluster worlds have been bypassed by the stargate plexus (they’re to be found roughly in the mid-Expansion Regions, in zone terms) and are flagged on charts and by buoys as quarantined; while the Charnel perversion appears to be dead, no-one particularly wants to take a chance on that.