You’ll Want Us High and Clear

ICED FIRE-CLASS ANTIMATTER TRANSPORT

Operated by: Extropa Energy, ICC
Type: Antimatter Transport
Construction: Islien Yards, ICC

Length: 1,600 km (overall)
Beam: 3,200 km
Dry mass: 39,200 tons (not including cryocels)

Gravity-well capable: No; not even low-orbit capable.
Atmosphere capable: No.

Personnel: 31

  • Flight Commander
  • 3 x Flight Executive/Administrator
  • 3 x Flight Director
  • 3 x Flight Engineer
  • 3 x Propulsion Engineer
  • 3 x Cargomaster
  • 3 x general technicians
  • 2 x riggers/EVA specialists
  • Thinker-class AI

Drives:

  •  3 x Nucleodyne Thrust Applications 1×1 “Sunheart V” fusion torch

Propellant: Deuterium/helium-3 blend
Cruising (sustainable) thrust: 3.5 standard gravities (3.3 Earth G) at nominal load
Maximum velocity: 0.3 c unloaded, 0.1 c loaded (based on particle shielding)

Drones:

  • 3 x general-purpose maintenance drones
  • 3 x tether-climbing rigger drones

Sensors:

  • 1 x standard navigational sensor suite, Islien Yards

Other Systems:

  • 2 x Islien Yards boosted commercial kinetic barrier system
  • Biogenesis Technologies Mark VII regenerative life support
  • 2 x Bright Shadow EC-780 information furnace data system
  • Islien Yards custom dual vector-control core and associated technologies
  • Systemic Integrated Technologies dual-mode radiator system

Small craft:

  • 1 x Élyn-class microcutter
  • 1 x Adhaïc-class workpod

The standard vehicle for ferrying antimatter from the Cirys bubble at Esilmúr to its various places of use, the Iced Fire-class is a starship designed around one core principle, commonly adhered to when dealing with antimatter:

Don’t get any on you.

The core hull itself is much smaller than the dimensions above suggest; a blunted cylinder a mere 252 m in length, including bunkerage. This houses the entire livable volume of the starship, including a dock for the Élyn-class microcutter at the bow, and a bay housing for the workpod. Rather than the typical stern mounting, the three Sunheart V fusion torches are located in nacelles set off from the hull on radiator pylons amidships, located 120 degrees apart; these nacelles are fully vectorable for maximum maneuverability.

The stern of the core hull instead contains the attachment points and winches for a 1,600 km tether, at whose fully extended end is in turn attached the spinhub. This is a simple unit containing monitoring equipment and a centrifugal ring, to which in turn are mounted eight further attachment points and associated tethers, terminating in heavy couplings. It is to these couplings that antimatter cryocels are mounted during loading, and dismounted upon arrival. In flight, the action of the centrifugal ring maintains appropriate safe distance between the core hull and the cryocels, and between the cryocels themselves, while also ensuring that jettisoned cryocels will move away from the main body of the starship in the event of containment failure.

 

Moon Mining

The largest 3He producer in the System, prior to the opening of the Melíeréan gas mines by Extropa Energy, was undoubtedly White Plains Regolithics, ICCa joint venture between Arctorr Heavy Industries, ICC, Empire Nucleonics, ICC, and members of the Seléne Commercial Habitation Consortium.

Of course, they did not just mine 3He. The Selénian regolith contains all manner of volatiles, and what is still in high demand everywhere around Seléne and its orbital space? Volatiles. No plutarch worth his metal was going to cede that market entirely to the ice barons of Evershade and the Macroscian Arky. Selling these volatiles to Selénian domes, in addition to delivering mass shipments of partially processed regoslag to the local Atalant Materials, ICC, branches, wildcat smelters, and glassboard fabbers alike were more than enough to assure WPR of profitability even before delivering its intended primary product to Empire Nucleonics customers.

Another key to the profitability of White Plains Regolithics was its use of early autoindustrialism. While not yet fully self-replicating, WPR made use of robotic mobile industrial nodes, controlled at the policy level but not directly teleoperated by a minimal staff of supervisors and field service engineers based in the corporate offices at Silverfall City.

Upon entering a region – guided by equally autonomous resource-scouting microbots – these nodes would manufacture from resources in situ the basic infrastructure needed to exploit that region: a power and communications grid based on solar-to-microwave towers, a transportation framework back to the central WPR facility at Silverfall City, and a sufficient quantity of resource-harvesting robots (most commonly the precursors of today’s ubiquitous foot-long swarmdozers) to deliver the harvested resources back to an in-situ constructed pre-processing node, and thence onwards.

While the mobile industrial node and mobile robots would move onward in an ever-growing swarm to harvest new regions when their task was complete, rather than attempting to relocate or recycle the associated fixed power, communications, and transportation facilities, WPR policy was to leave this infrastructure in situ and sell it, at a discounted rate, to up-and-coming Selénian business concerns. This policy birthed the White Plains Industrial Zone, a sprawling, thriving industrial region spread across the depleted regolith of the southern White Plains – and, not coincidentally, cultivated many new customers for WPR’s, and its parent companies’, services.

– from a student essay on early industrial ecology

 

 

 

Trope-a-Day: Mega Corp

Mega Corp: Oh, quite a few.  (Well, bearing in mind the cultural, demographic, and technological differences that mean that while an Earthly multinational might hit millions of employees, its Imperial counterpart probably has a couple of dozen executives, a large computronium core, and millions of jobs being done by subcontractors, sub-sub-contractors, etc., or “on-bounty”.)

The canonical list in the Empire and nearby, the “Big 26” starcorporations, are usually given as:

All Good Things, ICC – retailing

Artifice Armaments, ICC – firearms, heavy weapons, military vehicles, and defense technologies

Atalant Materials, ICC – mining, refining, and nanoslurry production

Biogenesis Technologies, ICC – neogenic organisms, biotech products and bioshells

Biolith Chemical Products, ICC – bactries and organochemicals

Bright Shadow, ICC – computers (including expert systems and thinkers), telecommunications equipment, and infotech

Cognitech, ICC – cognitive science, psychedesign, nootropics, and sophotechnology

Consolidated Mutual Mitigation and Surety, ICC – insurance underwriting and ancillary legal services

Crystal Flame, ICC – immortality (noetic backup archiving and insurance)

Databeat, ICC – major cycle brokerage and information furnace rental org

Ecogenetics, ICC – ecopoesis, living systems, environmental services, and bio-architecture

Enjoyment Unbounded, ICC – entertainment and luxury goods

Experia, ICC – entertainment and media (watchvid, InVid, slinky, and virtuality)

Extropa Energy, ICC – energy production and distribution, antimatter production, and fuels

Gilea and Company, ICC – banking, investments, and futures markets

Llyn Standard Manufacturing, ICC – cornucopias and industrial-scale production

Prosperity Nexus, ICC – investment, fund management, and commercial banking

Ring Dynamics, ICC – stargates (construction, maintenance and leasing)

Riverside Eubiosis Foundation, ICC – pharmaceuticals and health and medical services

Service Gate, ICC – contract matching and labor allocation

Stellar Express, ICC – delivery services, interstellar logistics, supply chains, and shipping

Systemic Integrated Technologies, ICC – robotics, automation, and infrastructure technology

Telememe, ICC – news, statistics, demographics, data mining and information research

Traders in Ideation, ICC – information brokerage, rights management services and data warehousing

Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC – security services, military contracting, and mercenary brokerage

Vermilion Harvest, ICC – agriculture, silviculture, carniculture, and bioproducts

…but there are several others that compete close to these leagues – exactly which are named depends on who precisely you’re talking to.

Given the nature of the setting, of course, the traditional unremittingly negative portrayal of business in fiction is utterly averted, and the Big 26 receive the respect they deserve as the mighty prosperity-generating engines that they are.  But then, in their home markets, the free market actually is a free market, so they never had the opportunity to discover corrupt business strategies of monopoly, rent-seeking, and regulating the competition out of business, even if they didn’t tend to be run by people who are every bit as ideological as everyone else in the vicinity.

(Well, not that this opinion is shared by everyone.  Gilea & Co. and UARC, in particular, tend to attract some opprobrium elsewhere in the Associated Worlds, particularly in places that don’t appreciate the absolute sacredness of contract in Imperial ethics, Gilea & Co.’s policy of not recognizing any special difference between “states” and its regular commercial customers, and – especially – its willingness to pursue “asset realization” after a sovereign default with however many of UARC’s finest mercs it takes to impress upon the customer that when they do the job, they always get paid.  But that’s not the mainstream opinion at home.)

As a side note, while it is by no means a conventional corporation, the Imperial Charter makes use of much of the traditional structure of a joint-stock corporation in the Imperial government, such as it is – its citizens, for example, are citizen-shareholders in the technical lingo, and the traditional style of the Imperial Couple includes “Chief Executive Officers of the Imperium Incorporate” – so you could make a convincing argument that the Empire is, in quite a few senses, the biggest Mega Corp of them all.

Sometimes The Ground Gives You Lemons, Too

Pig Ion, all docks at Javerna Orbital are currently occupied.  Please re-route to Javerna Down.  Coordinates follow.  Javerna Local, over.”

“Negative, Javerna Local, check our cargo manifest.  We can hold or go to Orbital, but our cargo is not to enter planetary gravity wells.  Pig Ion, over.”

Pig Ion, what sort of ‘power plant components’ can’t go planetside?  Javerna Local, over.”

“Holes.  Pig Ion, over.”

Pig Ion, what?  Javerna Local, over.”

“Holes, Javerna Local.  Holes, comma, quantum black, comma, encapsulated, Extropa Energy contraterragenesis core type three.  Eight hundred thousand tons of hungry nothing that you shouldn’t introduce to a planet you might want later.  Pig Ion, over.”

“Aaahh… wait thirty, Pig Ion, we’ll see what we can find for you.  Javerna Local, clear.”

– overheard on local space-control channel, Javerna (Idrine Margin)