Bright Spot

Luminé, the city once located at Eurymir’s noon pole, never had much opportunity to blossom. Originally built as a center for the exploitation of Eurymir’s resources, the largely underground complex served as a control center for solar power generation (in the continuous sunlight both groundside and in orbit) and dip-mining of liquid metals from the day side. Auxiliary facilities took advantage of the abundant energy to perform contraterragenesis (now moved to planetary orbit), as well as experiments in alchemics, power metal engeneration, high energy chemistry, and pure particle physics.

Unfortunately for the investors in Luminé, planetary conditions on Eurymir proved too harsh for the technology of the era. While Luminé could be sustained, it never proved economically viable due to the rapid degradation of equipment deployed on the surface, and the difficulty of performing maintenance and repairs in the sun’s full light. In a matter of decades, operations on Eurymir were closed down, the majority being transferred to the more hospitable Toramir.

When life returned to Luminé, it did so in the form of the Effulgent Order of Lumenna. Much of the old city remains in mothballs, although various of the original laboratory operators have returned and new facilities house the Institute for Solar Studies, as well as the creators of the experiment in artificial life whose glass, copper, and steel fractal forests now sprawl across the planetary surface, giving birth to fascinating new materials evolved for the high-energy environment.

The prosaic laboratories of old Luminé, however, are almost forgotten along with its name. The Effulgent Order, having moved the starport outside the shallow crater beneath which the city was built, filled that crater with the Zenith Temple, by which name they are now both known.

Indeed, the dome of the Zenith Temple now spans nearly two miles of surface, graceful curves of amber-tinted, gold-anodized glass sweeping up from its white marble-clad ringwall to the central dome-piercing spire, whose peak offers spectacular views of day-side Eurymir.

Yet such is not its purpose. From the balcony just below the peak of the dome, you can gaze directly upward into the face of Lumenna, larger than seen from any other world, her light made bearable by the dome’s tint, or down, into the grand sand mandala filling the dome entire. Here, the acquiescents of the Order have carefully sifted the endless sands of Eurymir for those specks bearing the most vivid color in the light of the sun, and bound each one to a motile microbot. Driven by the endless light from which they take both energy and the key to their pattern, glittering under a shadowless, eternal noon, these shifting sands spin out an ever-changing series of reflections on the sun’s power, light, and grace.

There are those who hold out Ellenith’s Dome of the Crystal Seers, the Maze of Aelalaér beneath Ambriel, or the virtual Pool of Infinite Reflection as the greatest site for meditation and spiritual contemplation that the Empire has to offer – but in this author’s opinion, gentle reader, the Zenith Temple outshines them all.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Core Worlds

Too Hard-Headed

Gorch steelheading, by any of its various names, originated as a street medical procedure from the freesoil world Gorch (Dinyoza’s Serpent). A retroviral treatment, steelheading affects the glial cells of the brain, causing them to accumulate metallic, particulate iron within internal vacuoles. This serves as an effective countermeasure to uploading using the standard techniques (i.e., the high-resolution NMRI built into every commercially available cerebral bridge), since the ferromagnetic particles darken and distort the image, and may indeed cause damage to the scanning equipment. As such, steelheading has become popular among every quantum-hatted forknapping-obsessed paranoid from Core to Rim.

Since it remains a street procedure, it is sadly to be noted that many of its purveyors do not inform their clients of the actual risks of placing a brain stived through with super-nanoscale iron particulate into a high-grade magnetic field, and specifically the combination of thermal effects on the glia and direct magnetic force effects resulting in said brain being stirred like a bowl of overcooked pudding. Caveat emptor, indeed!

Unfortunately, other uses of the procedure have become apparent. I draw your attention here to the incident last year aboard CS Fist of Civility, when hostages recovered from one branch of the Resolutionist Faction had been involuntarily steelheaded by their captors, a fact not discovered until it had led to a permanent death.

Steelheading, however, is a technique that is only preventative against NMRI or similar technologies, and a clean upload can still be achieved by use of the older membrane disassembler, or a nanitic burning-scan reader such as that used in a ripknife. Of course, these techniques either require an extracted mostly-dead brain or are fatal to the patient, which is why they were replaced by high-resolution NMRI in the first place, and yet they remain viable methods of extracting a mind-state from a steelheaded brain.

For this reason, we have now added testing for the presence of encapsulated ferromagnetic particulates in brain tissue and the use of alternate methods as part of the best practices for uploading brains recovered from hostages, kidnapping victims, or otherwise “left unattended”, and we commend this to the attention of our colleagues elsewhere.

– Dr. Venerí 0xCADE443E,
Noble Order of the Lancet,

Fellow of the Imperial College of Surgeons,
Imperial Sodality of Neuroscience,
in a letter to the All-Worlds Journal of Medical Incident

Orbs of Pondering

An older model Spherecomm™. Note the attachment at its base.

A popular fad of the 2200s and 2300s was the Spherecomm™, a portable communications terminal in the form of a light, hand-held crystal ball. Most of the time, the Spherecomm™ provides the same functionality as any terminal, using a special interface designed to make use of the “infinite, omnidirectional scrolling” provided by its spherical screen, and to allow manipulation with all four fingers and the thumb while the Spherecomm™ is held in the palm of the hand; however, with a quick mode-switch, the Spherecomm™ can instead use its internal volume as a fully functional volumetric display, suitable for both trinet and trivision reception as well as other trigraphic applications.

Early versions of the Spherecomm™ required an attached base (as seen in the picture at right) to house the power supply and associated electronics. While also functional as a stand to hold the Spherecomm™ at rest and prevent it from rolling away, this proved unpopular in use, and interface designers lamented the loss of the ability to treat rotation of the device as a meaningful gesture.

Fortunately, technology was soon to provide alternatives, with the power supply being reduced to a minimal size and located in the center of the Spherecomm™, with light being refracted around it – rendering it invisible – as a function of the device body’s crystalline structure. Meanwhile, the addition of low-power ionic/magnetohydrodynamic thrust to the Spherecomm™ casing allowed it to keep itself upright when set down, and as a small and light device, even suspend itself in mid-air for group viewing, or to follow its owner while in use – the forerunner of today’s commonplace docuspheres and conversation balls.


While the Spherecomm™ fashion eventually came to an end in favor of ring terminals and other jewelry-cased designs, and of free-space volumetric displays, the devices themselves never entirely passed out of use. Is it time for a revival of the form factor?

I think so.

Our Old Inspirations, Your Novel Ideas (1Q 3025 edition)

Heaven’s Ash

Rising above the surrounding hills and forests like mountains in their own right, the grandest emanations of Syjéral and the greatest of the kami serving the daughters of Sylithandríël are the lórréra, the World Trees.

Far above any dryad, naiad, or lesser emanation, the scattered handful of lórréra work together with the mechal elementals produced and commanded by the dweomerbergs to manage the planetary ecology.

A massive, mountain-sized tree with a blue glow hovering around its branches.


The World Trees, like the lesser dryads, are trees at heart, albeit unusually large and healthy ones, optimized to produce through their natural processes the energy needed to support their other functions. Each of the lórréra is, beneath the bark, an unthinkably complex biocomputer composed of complex arrays and meshes of lignoneurons laid down within the xylem. This system and its animating intelligence are sufficient to model in real-time a complete picture of the lands, woods, and waters around the lórréra, and make such adjustments as the model calls for to maintain stability.

The lórréra exist in a world of continuous communication. They exist as major relays within the same delicate electromagnetic tapestry as the other mechal elementals, with metallic deposits embedded in their lignoneuron-stived xylem serving as their antennae, of course, but more subtly they are participants in the complex web of ecological communication around them. In this, the obvious bluelife bioluminescence is the least part; the intertwining roots and rhizomes of a mature lórréra can cover half a continent, and in doing so, touch all the life thereupon with chemical signals of breathtaking subtlety.

Is it any wonder, then, that we, too, should have learned to communicate with them, and they with us? While thaumaturgical lore – the knowledge of the mechal elementals and the art of reading and commanding them – remains well documented, there remain only fragments of its origins, and that of much other ecological and silvicultural lore – in the shamanic practices of the Emergence, going back into the Gloaming, when eldrae first learned to underhear the electromagnetic whispers of the World Trees, and to attempt deeper communion with nature by crude pagan rituals involving the consumption of their sweet, nanite-rich sap.

(It is also from fragments dating from the Emergence that we have the tale of one Sárvis, called “the Ill-Wit”, who commanded the tribe of which he was king to fell one of the World Trees that he might build for himself “a hall like none other that ever was, or ever would be.” Upon attempting this, his tribe were plagued by ills “as if all the spirits of nature rose against them”, until Sárvis pledged himself to be slain among the branches of the offended lórréra to appease its wrath. The surviving fragments do not record the success or failure of this gambit, or whether or not his people survived.

None have attempted to repeat such grand folly in all the centuries since.)

– A History of Nature’s Artifice and the Thaumaturgy of Machines,
Enneagram Press

At Arm’s Length

comprador: A native contract supplier for one or more interstellar corporations abroad. Usually subordinate to the responsible factor.

In Imperial trade parlance in particular, the term comprador refers to both the title of the native contracts corporation and the executive operating it. Such a native contracts corporation functions as an interfacer writ large, acting to bridge the divide between the freewheeling contractual culture of the Empire and the Accord on Trade simply interpreted, and the various aids and incidents demanded by local regulators. Such is often particularly necessary in the sphere of employment relations, the Empire never having institutionalized the concept, placing the comprador in a position akin to that of a financial institution performing maturity transformation: transforming short-term money-for-task contracts from the interstellars into long-term employment on local terms.

This naturally transfers risk from the interstellars (the “Clean Hands”, in a cynical borrowing from the ISS jargon term) to the comprador, and it is by its skill in negotiating and, where necessary, manipulating both local regulations and transeconomic arbitrage that the success of a comprador may be judged. Such transformation is generally to the economic disadvantage of local hires, who receive less total remuneration for their performance and upon less favorable terms than direct contract would have permitted – a fact which is considered one of the many sad ironies associated with operating in emerging markets.

– A Core Economic Dictionary, Aurum Press (6900)

Do Not Taunt

Gentles all, I ask but one thing of you in your scholarship: while you may and should, of course, describe the cliodynamic tendencies leading up to the states and systems you study, and the tendencies inherent in those states and systems that may push them in a particular direction, you must refrain from describing them as pre- and post- with regard to others. In your previous studies of the field you have learned many of the elegant telic theories of history your predecessors have generated; in your present studies of the field’s subject matter, you should have learned that – in the absence, and even in the presence, of a telos-enforcer with a big stick – history happens over and over again in different orders and by different means as if driven by some perverse imp to spite anyone conceiving of a simple acyclic path.

In short: reality doth make fools of us all, but I would prefer that my students did not bait it.

Saváne Filéristríös,
Asamis Chair of History,
Imperial University of Almeä

Moving Sideways

To review, we have already considered the first type of psychokinetic manipulation: the extrinsic manipulation of objects. While largely instinctive in use – unlike the extensive families of techniques built on top of them – reproducing these effects was relatively simple and produced the unifield vector effector, the enabling technology behind the modern tractor, pressor, and torquor beams.

The second type of psychokinesis is the intrinsic manipulation of one’s self. While more difficult to master, most people do acquire proficiency with the basic component effects of in this area, which together form the heart of psychokinetic freerunning: the rejump, in which one bends momentum in mid-air to adjust one’s trajectory and/or velocity; and the longstep, in which one uses a high-intensity pulse of mass-reduction to achieve a burst of speed, appearing to cross a room or otherwise reposition oneself in an instant.

(Body-flying is not considered part of this type, inasmuch as it is impossible to lift oneself, and it depends on extrinsic manipulation of fixed or high-mass objects.)

Work on technological reproduction of these effects led up to the development of the modern vector-control core for vehicles, from skimmers to starships.

The path of inspiration leading from rejump to core is relatively straightforward, as obvious parallels can be seen in the integration of the vector-control core with attitude control systems.

Developments from the longstep are, however, somewhat more obscured. While the work of the Precursors was readily able to support such operations on a single-person scale, it proved impossible for many centuries to build a vector-control core capable of spike operation. However, the traditional vector-control core mode is based on what is, in effect, a low-energy continuous longstep which provides lesser thrust enhancement on an ongoing basis.

This state of affairs persisted until the late 7900s, with the release of Shue Lezíär’s hypertoroid drive core. Fed by a double ring of chained flash accumulators, the hypertoroid core is capable of spiking to power levels orders of magnitude greater than standard cores for brief moments. Timed with exquisite precision to match firings of attitude-control thrusters or even main drives, a vehicle – even the largest of starships – equipped with such a core can appear to blink from one position to another in a matter of moments: a true longstep.

– Histories and Parallels in Vector Control Development

Not That Fish Story

Recreation Commons
Second Deep
Anemone Deep-Aqua Lab
Isimír

“So,” Oswyn interrupted my brooding, “you saw something to go with your anomalous biologic?”

“You’ll be the fifteenth person to tell me that I didn’t see the flash-of-gold that I have a plain memory of, Oswyn Maric, and no more welcome than the first.”

“No challenge intended.” He pulled up a seat and poured himself another beer. “Just a welcome to the Isimír old-hands club. Sub drivers have been seeing Goldie out here since they retired the old Benthic Needle.”

“And you’ve come to tell me a literal fish story to pass the time until I get my privileges back?”

“Nothing but truth on sale here, my word on it.”

I spread my arms in invitation. “Spin me your tale, then.”

“It all started back in the first year, when GenTech were setting up their aquaculture labs. They’d brought a whole bunch of test organisms to see what they could get to grow in Isimír water: plankton, algae, seaweed, and most importantly, carp. Back then we had a bunch of temp bubbles set up around the shaft entrance, all lit, warmed, and conditioned with test environments. It was all going smoothly until a newbie sub-driver mistrimmed, came shallow too fast, and hit one at ten fips. Split the shell open and dumped the biologicals.” He flicked a finger and an incident report glimmered in my vision.

“Into an ocean that would kill them.”

“They only recovered 96.2% of the biomass. Check for yourself.”

“So it sank, or it drifted out of range.”

“Or…”

“Or nothing. You want to hear all the ways in which that’s impossible? They may have been salt-adapted, but not brine-adapted. There’s not enough dissolved oxygen in native water to support an Eliéran fish, and it’s cold enough to freeze them solid. And what are they going to eat? The only native life we’ve found out there is bacterial.”

“At the depths we’ve explored. For as long as we’ve been here, we’ve just been splashing in the shallows. It’s warmer down there, too, if the probes are accurate, and who knows what native life interactions there might be?”

“Speculation.”

“And yet there are the anomalous contacts.”

“Your pitch is bubbly, and I’ll tell you why. Firstly, because that contact couldn’t possibly be some lost carp, because it was damn near the size of a whale. And secondly because rules be damned, I left a wide trail of warm water and nutrients on the way back to dock in hope of native life, so if there were something out there -“

Oswyn’s voice was a hoarse whisper; his gaze fixed behind me.

“Do we have a lot more of that nutrient aboard?”

“Probably, why?”

“Look out the window. I think your friend wants more snacks.


“Where was-“

“I don’t know.”

“How did-?”

“I don’t know that either. On the other hand, being a world-ocean, Isimír has no waterfalls.

There Have Only Ever Been Four

In 7262 and 7263, the Imperial Security Executive suffered a number of leaks of documentation referring to the establishment of a “Sixth Directorate”, including location information on forward operating bases attributed to this Sixth Directorate, and a number of sightings of Intelligence prowlers whose pennant numbers indicated association with this Directorate, and backed up by traffic analysis indicating the existence of this new intelligence organization.

The Sixth Directorate, of course, did not exist. Not, it is to be noted, in the sense that the Fifth Directorate does not exist, but in the sense that it literally did not exist save for the shadow cast by leaked documentation, dressed-up empty prefabs, and altered transponder data.

Its nonexistence, however, and the panic reactions of most of the Worlds’ intelligence agencies, did a marvelous job of distracting everyone from Second Directorate and Admiralty Intelligence operations during the 7265-7269 period of the Republican central government’s final collapse.

(A brief resurgence in Sixth Directorate sightings occurred in 7489 and 7490, which were largely dismissed as an attempt by the Executive to resurrect their old masquerade. In this case, however, ExSec had designated their Primary Working Group for dealing with the Exceedingly Hostile Takeovers the “Sixth Directorate PWG”, allowing them to operate with impunity in the former Magenite sphere of influence while attention was directed conspicuously elsewhere.)

– Imperial State Security, A Declassified History

That Is Not Dead

By dreaming dragons – the world was carved
To dreaming dragons – the world yet bends
Those dreaming dragons – all lie dead
Yet dreaming dragons – carve it still.

“Lay of the Dead Dragons”, fragment, circa -3,500

the light breathes
the shadows move and the objects don’t
are you real?
am I?

I am not.

unknown survivor of passage through the periphery of the Tortelsvard grimward, immediately before dissolving without trace

Drones can’t bleed.

Dallen Osiríän, engineer on OPERATION ABYSS DREDGE, upon being confronted with a post-dive drone that was, in fact, bleeding

You can try a reality engine against it the moment that no-one else is living on this planet, and not before.

Prefect Aldysis Paluna, Fifth Directorate

“That’s not fog. That’s reality getting fuzzy. Basically… run.”

History records that the trakelpanis trakóras amán are all dead, wiped out at the beginning of the Gloaming, three hundred thousand years ago. In this, history is correct.

The common assumption that death carries with it finality, on the other hand, is incorrect. During the Chaos that marked the end of trakelpanis trakóras amán civilization, five fell upon Eliéra: for three, those who we believe dwelt here before the Chaos, we have names. The Shaper died at her home, in the Dragon’s Nest, and in so doing created the largest of Eliéra’s grimwards, nearly twenty miles across. Of those who dwelled at the Gate of Dragons, both died elsewhere: the Architect fell in Saralainn, and the Farseer was slain abroad in far Marukamui. Of the nameless amán legendaria presume to be their attackers, one formed the first and most famous grimward in central Kaládav, brushing the valley of the Falthrang, and the other died far to the south, amid the monazite sands of Tortelsvard.

And there part of them remains.

What is a grimward? It is the mad dream of a dead dragon, no more and no less. The trakelpanis trakóras amán possessed a peerless ontotechnology, capable of commanding the forces of reality and warping it in accordance with their desires and ambitions, making, twisting, and unmaking with a thought. The amán knew few strictures or boundaries, and acknowledged fewer, the fatal flaw that led to their self-destruction as a race: how much less restrained, then, the passions flickering in their hollow bones, unconstrained by conscious will?

The land, sea, and sky for miles around where they lie, then, are regions where reality grows fuzzy: even the most mundane things found within or passing their boundary may find themselves warped into prodigies or horrors unique in the universe. Space and time themselves quail there: one may cross miles in a footstep only to find that step taking centuries, or a mile may stretch into a journey of decades which leads one out before one entered. There can be no certainty there, no prediction, and no safety. Only the whim of the grimward’s master defines the structure of being within its bounds.

Thus, these regions have been surrounded by long and high walls, posted warnings, and the strongest wardings ancient thaumaturgy or modern technology could devise since early in the Gloaming, long before there was an Empire, layers built on layers and warnings inscribed over earlier warnings, with reality engines humming where once beacon-fires burned.

They may be the greatest dangers we have found in this universe.


WARNING
EXTREME ONTOLOGICAL DANGER

DO NOT TRANSGRESS THE BOUNDARY OF THE GRIMWARD UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
DEATH IS PREFERABLE TO THAT WHICH LIES WITHIN.

DO NOT APPROACH THE GRIMWARD.
DO NOT CONTEMPLATE THE GRIMWARD.
DO NOT PROVOKE THE GRIMWARD.

BY ORDER

IMPERIAL RANGERS, SUPRADEATH CONTAINMENT SECTION

A Ring On It

The most distinctive feature of any frameslip drive is its ring. Unlike the simple vector-control core which can be tucked safely within the parent ship – the microtides accompanying too-close exposure to a vector-control core have been responsible for little more than a great deal of nausea among engineer apts – the much greater inflection of space required to form the frameslip envelope and the ripple on which it rides needs to be kept as far from the starship itself as practical. Since sensor domes, turrets, drive nozzles, radiators, et. al., protrude beyond the hull and must continue to operate during fittle-flight, a large slipspace volume is required, resulting in frameslip rings often being the most prominent feature of any starship equipped with one.

As frameslip travel has advanced, a variety of techniques have evolved to deal with the unfortunate form-factor this forces upon frameslip drive starships, and the problems inherent in having a large structure packed with relatively delicate metric-manipulation technology outermost in the starship’s structure, especially for warships.

Where the technology itself is concerned, the most important development was the multiphasic frameslip drive, enabling a single core to direct its output through dual or even multiple rings arranged in series along the drive axis. Rather than the spherical slipspace produced by an original-pattern frameslip drive, multiphasic frameslip encapsulates an ellipsoidal volume, more compatible with other aspects of celestime architecture, albeit at some cost in envelope efficiency. Such designs obviously reduce the necessary size of the frameslip rings for a given hull compared to a single-ring design.

Another area of development has been the use of temporary rings. The first systems of this type were simple temporary rings; a number of prototype vessels were constructed with dockable “collar” frameslip modules, similar in concept to the drive module of the Kalantha-class frontier trader. While this proved to be an unpopular paradigm, later developments along this line produced the Flatbread-class frameslip superlifter, which uses an open frame similar to a cageworks to surround the vessel it transports, and the Lanceola-class fleet carrier, a long-spined craft to which cruiser and destroyer-type screening vessels can dock within the radius of its frameslip rings.

Simultaneously, other designers were working on the collapsible frameslip ring, capable of being withdrawn from its active position to lie flat against the hull when not in use, a process requiring first disconnecting and then shrinking the individual segments of the ring. In achieving this, designers concentrated the frameslip machinery into a series of nodes at key points around the ring, permitting the remainder – primarily waveguides and simple couplers – to be mounted within telescoping structures extending from each side of the spar-mounted nodes and interlinking to complete the ring. This has now become the established standard for all but specialized and dedicated frameslip vessels; in more advanced designs, the extended nodes make use of reality graphics to form the full ring out of pseudomatter nanovoxels, eliminating the need for telescoping.

One particular example worth mentioning at this point is the Metamotive-class stargate transport, which hybridizes the above models. It makes use of a unique six-part design, the components of which are capable either of linking together and operating as a single unit while moving between gates, or of separating and docking independently with the transport sockets on a Ring Dynamics Mark IV stargate, extending the reach of the ring to cover the entire structure.

One of the greatest difficulties in ring design, however, was faced by the Imperial Navy’s Bureau of Innovation: that of enabling capital ships – battleships, carriers, and larger classes – to be constructed with frameslip capability. While collapsible frameslip rings, which place the key machinery safely within the protective envelope of the starship’s systems, suffice for civilian use, this is insufficient for a ship of war; the protection of armor is required for survivability in the battlespace environment. Thus, the Bureau developed the Alcarialé-Renaez frameslip mount.

Capital starship design is based upon a core framing structure within which the pressure hull (or hulls) is mounted, along with the drives, power reactors, bunkerage, auxiliary machinery, cargo holds, etc., etc. The outer hull, composed of armor plating, is mounted atop this framing structure by means of flexible spreader trusses; only a few necessary components are mounted to the inside of the outer hull.

The Alcarialé-Renaez frameslip mount separates the frame structure into multiple segments (typically three), along with the armor above it. The points where secondary structural members meet are connected when the segments are closed up using variations of the Ascíël coupler, while flexpipe, concertina couplings, and similar technologies are used to carry power, data, and materiel across the segments regardless of their position. Meanwhile, the junctions in the armor layers are built to a double-overlap pattern which provides protection when closed and do not allow for a vulnerable gap between armor sections. The primary structural members – selected to be sufficient for the stresses of fittle-flight, if not combat – at the division points are replaced by magnetohydraulic rams wrapped in similar variable-length couplers.

When such a vessel wishes to engage frameslip drive, it must first disengage the various couplers between each segment, at which point the multiple magnetohydraulic rams engage to drive the framing segments apart, lengthening the starship and opening gaps in the armor above the division points through which the spars and nodes of a collapsible frameslip ring may be extended, and the ring completed through reality graphic projection. On arrival, the same process is reversed to withdraw the ring and restore battle-readiness.

Of course, as all this is a somewhat complex and lengthy evolution, the frameslip-equipped capital ship must be sure to plan its arrival at a suitable distance from the battlespace, and likewise, may find itself unable to depart without a safe location in which to deploy the frameslip ring without exposing its vulnerable aspects to enemy fire.

– The Evolution of Frameslip (8001-8200), INI Press

Their Shafts Benight The Air

The Daalípel (“Whiteout”) is the first entry of Eye-in-the-Flame Arms, ICC into the military vehicle market. An evolution of the classic MLRS platform, Daalípel has a variety of advanced design features.

The vehicle itself resembles a large pillbug, with rows of individual rocket launchers and laser point-defense units arranged behind the defensive armor plates leading each of the Daalípel‘s nested segments. However, the resemblance extends beyond appearance; while the Daalípel moves only slowly using its conventional rollagon drivetrain, the vehicle, like its inspiration, can conglobulate – docking nose to tail and forming an gyrostabilized ellipsoidal wheel. In this mode, while the rocket launchers cannot be used, the armor offers maximal protection and the rollagons can be used to drive the entire vehicle at high speed for rapid deployment scenarios.

The weapons systems of the Daalípel are an equal advance over its predecessors. While most MLRS systems (such as the Imperial Legions’ venerable HVR-17 Burnscar and HVR-19 Glasslake systems) are configured to fire unguided or minimally guided rockets in order to either blanket an area with submunitions (the time-honored “erase this map square” option) or inflict heavy damage to a single target, or small group of targets, the Daalípel incorporates a high-factor tactical warmind and wideband multiplexed control channels, enabling it to simultaneously fire hundreds of smart, seeker minimissiles, each in turn equipped with multiple guided submunitions.

In summary, the Daalípel can, with a single fire mission into a densely crowded target zone, take out the enemy with astounding precision while causing little or no damage to civilian property or infrastructure. One demonstration event showed this capability being used to assassinate a target demographic entire within a crowd without causing significant harm to anyone else, a function valuable for eliminating hostage-takers, occupation forces, or users of sophont shields.

Similarly to the HVR-19 Glasslake – although significantly more difficult to achieve due to the greater complexity involved – the Daalípel is designed to manufacture its own ammunition from onboard stocks, field replenishment, or even scavenging, with advanced onboard fabbers capable of restocking an empty Daalípel fully in a matter of hours under typical conditions.

While still being evaluated by the Imperial Military Service and little-purchased elsewhere, modified Daalípels have proven popular in a number of roles: they have been used for the rapid deployment of search-and-rescue minibots across areas afflicted by disaster; to spread mesh network nodes across silent regions; for emergency application of medical solutions; and to distribute self-expanding supply packages to those in need.

The response of the Directorate to this development is, as yet, unknown.

– Destruction Review editorial

Dancing With Myself

CASE MIDWINTER MIRROR

SECRET (GREEN) / MIDWINTER MIRROR

TRACKED-COPY DOCUMENT
NOFORN

Proceed (+/-)? +

EXECUTION:

STELLAR COUNCIL ONLY
TRANSCENDENT APPROVAL ONLY

SUMMARY:

All MIDWINTER MIRROR related material applies to situations in which situations unknown, possibly including but not limited to worldline forking, temporal bifurcation, probability actualization, or extrauniversal phenomena, lead to the Empire being confronted with a duplicate of itself.

Initially, an attempt to confirm (with high probability a mutual attempt, since we may reasonably presume Empire-prime to be executing its own MIDWINTER MIRROR doctrine) alignment, and in the case of δ-imperfect alignment to achieve a mutually beneficial median must be made, as documented in the subfile MIDWINTER MIRROR PARALLEL.

If this has a positive result, which will necessarily be the case if Empire-prime is a true instantiation of the Imperial entelechy, proceed initially to determine Imperial and Prime Function priority using the below-documented random procedure, followed by complete organizational and logistic merge under priority command following the protocols outlined in MIDWINTER MIRROR RACEMATES.

If, however, Empire-prime does not possess an identical procedure for MIDWINTER MIRROR, reference should be made to procedures classified under MIDWINTER MIRROR SCISSOR. Developed in accordance with current research into acausal trade between agents operating according to δ-identical ethics, MIDWINTER MIRROR SCISSOR outlines a process for determining which MIDWINTER MIRROR process should be followed to which both parties must necessarily agree.

If this proves not to be the case, it is to be assumed that the Empires party to case MIDWINTER MIRROR are not operating according to δ-identical ethics, and a second MIDWINTER MIRROR PARALLEL process should be attempted.

If alignment proves impossible, initiate CASE SKYSHOCK FUNHOUSE.

Proceed (+/-)?

Upon The Sand

RIANTAR VENTURES TICKET-TRACKING: CASE 7918/314995

From: Facilities Manager, Dendra Residential Tower, Meridian Secundus

Subject: Contemplative CultiVator™ garden maintenance system
Version: 41.2.90.71340
Issue: Robot no longer functions, claiming enlightenment
Priority: Normal

We purchased one of your automatic gardening systems some years ago to take care of the sand garden in the central plaza of the Tower. After several years of satisfactory service, the central controller claims to have reached enlightenment (according to remaining system log files), and its operating system appears to have been radically rewritten. Our attempts to perform a reload and reset have not been successful.

Request repair or replacement.

Resolution: WILL NOT FIX – WORKING AS DESIGNED

Note to Field Service:

Perform check that Brightline Code engram has not been removed from system.

Note to Customer:

The point and purpose of raking a contemplative sand garden is to perform a meditative exercise with the goal of reaching enlightenment.

We are gratified that our product has done so.

You should be gratified that your garden, too, has fulfilled its telos.

The Complexity of Complexity

In the first volume of our work, reason and natural philosophy have appropriately laid waste to the claims of imbeciles and nihilists by virtue of an inarguable demonstration that the most fundamental rules of ethics are implicit in the very nature of ethical actors themselves, insofar as an examination the ontology of volition itself clearly carries forth these implications.

In the following chapters of this volume, we shall construct a further objective extension to these core ethical principles by addressing the implications of information theory and the study of complexity. In particular, we shall demonstrate the principle that more complex systems are superior to simpler systems – or, rather, that systems whose dynamic properties require more bits to describe are more meritorious, thus more deserving of existence, than those describable in fewer bits.

Destruction, in this paradigm, goes against ethics because it randomizes the system destroyed. (Although a random system requires many bits to describe precisely, its dynamic behavior can be simply expressed as “random”.) Final erasure of information is, of course, worst of all.

To such extent as this may seem simple, it is not. While it is trivial to assert the superior merit, in isolation, of a porcelain tea-set over a pile of fragments, consider, for example, the question of homogeneity. Naively, one might consider a large homogeneous system of little worth, inasmuch as it takes little more information to describe a thousand identical items than a single one, and the resources consumed by the others could be used to instantiate diversity; but this ignores the question of the complexity of their interactions in the larger system – from which the great value we place on ecosystems, which contain many near-identical components, is derived.

In theory, while we speak airily of a system, in reality, there can be no such isolation. Any given situation is inhabited by a complex fractal embedding of multiple conceptual systems on many scales, all of which have their own informational content and complexity, and all of which must be taken into account.

– Ianna Quendocius, Scientific Ethics, introduction to Vol. II

Voyage to Neverwhere

The Greatest Mission
That Never Was!

Brought to you by Parahistoricity, ICC and its associates in the Sodality for Imaginative Parachronism, an unforgettable adventure in space colonization.

From The Creators Of
After Eclipse™, Kanatai Ascendant™
Octopodotopia™ and Crystal Space™

In their latest alternate-history extravaganza, Parahistoricity will recreate the experience of travelling to another world by subluminal generation ship, possibly the most famous road not taken in Imperial history.

From History’s Most Famous Cageworks
And The First Family of Interstellar Travel
Comes The Ship They Did Not Build

Even now, CMS Dream of Many is under construction at the same cageworks above Talentar responsible for the Deep Star sleeper ships, under the supervision of Quandry Lyris, herself a renowned celestime architect and granddaughter of the original designer, Kasjan Lyris. When complete, and her passengers have embarked, she will fly an extended 36-month loop out of and back into the home system to simulate the full interstellar voyage.

A Starship of Dreams
On a Voyage of Eternity

Except for emergencies, the caverns within Dream of Many – carved as it is from the asteroid 1149 Tíranjan – will serve as an almost completely isolated environment in deep space, as the original ship would have been. Once the passengers have embarked, they will take on the role – with oneiroverse-style gnostic overlays to maintain authenticity – of the initial generation setting out to colonize a new world. Eighteen months later, after a celebration and review for turnover, they will assume the new personae of the final generation of colonists, and will guide the ship in to orbit around, and landing on, their “new” world.

The Experience of Two Lifetimes

Tours of the completed segments of the starship are open now. The first departure of the generation ship itself will take place on Midyear’s Day, 7325.

Book Now
For The Original
Out-Of-This-World
(And Into Another)
Voyage
!

Implying The Existence of a Thesis Attack

“So how did you get that scar, anyway? You never told me.”

“I told you I undertook advanced studies at the Inperial War College. I acquired it during my thesis defense.”

“How do you get that at a viva voce?”

“Professor-Brigadier Oríänoclés didn’t believe in half-assing hypotheses. His contribution was a short battalion of Longeye laser tanks.”

Not Cosmic, But Incomprehensible

This was originally a prompt over on Mastodon, the original prompt being: “MC POV: Name one thing that is guaranteed to make you angry? Why?”. I liked the result enough that I thought I’d share it over here, as well.

“Make me angry? The cases that fall into, in our legal code, ‘destructionism’.

“Why? Because I don’t understand it.

“We get – I’d say a lot, but this is still Imperial space, so let’s say an anomalously high level of crime here. We get slash-traders, commercial fraud, thieves grand and petty, stowaways, dockside brawls, too-long-aboard-syndrome on and on, everything a major trade station attracts like flies. But even if you slice off the truly desperate who need a hug, a hot meal, and someone to walk them to the Eleemosynary Exodochium more than what most people think of as justice, I can understand most of them. They’re zero-sum crimes; desire and greed and unfortunate passions are things we all have, and they’re not even wrong in themselves, only in how some folk handle them. Even the murderers – I’ve never hated anyone so much I couldn’t stand to share the universe with them a moment longer, but I can understand how someone might.

“What I’ve never been able to understand about these people — these are people who set out just to make the universe a little bit worse for their existence in it. Destroy or desecrate things just so that other people can’t enjoy them. Go out of their way to ruin someone’s day, or week, or decade, not as a side-effect, but as the point of their actions. Hurt and smash and wreck not for greed or other profit, not even for revenge upon their target, but just because they can, and it – I’d say it pleases them to do so, but it is hard to imagine real pleasure coming from such. These I do not understand, and it is hard to temper anger without understanding.

“And that’s dangerous for me. I’ve escorted people who have done much more damage to arraignment, but it’s these who make me think fondly of — unapproved uses for airlocks, before I quash it. And that they can make me think that, even for a moment, that makes me angriest of all.”

– Jynne Cerron, Enforcer, Watch Constabulary
Mer Dinévál Countermass Station, Seranth

God’s Bootstraps

Why are there no historical records of the commissioning of the 160th Imperial Legion?

Because it hasn’t been commissioned yet.

There are records of it participating in several battles independently from any Theater Command, or even Core Command.

Yes.

Without being commissioned?

While cause mostly precedes effect, this is not necessarily the case.

While utterances mostly convey meaning, this is not necessarily the case either.

The “Causal Effectives” will be founded in 11346 as one of the Transcend’s special troubleshooting teams, Anything they do before then is all of important, classified, and unlikely to be understood in its full historical consequence before that date.

What else do we –

Further information is not available in this whenwhere.

– a conversation which never happened

On This Day

On this day in 2290, Optimal Splay Games of Foiríäs, Ildathach, held a grand party and press event to celebrate the successful completion, by Torys Kularacen, of the first successful in-game voyage carried through from launch to completion in their debut first-ring game, the real-time Relativistic Freighter Simulator, a feat requiring sixty-three months of play over the course of nine years. In the course of the event Kularacen was presented with a platinum-iridium model of the starship he used in the game, as well as a lifetime subscription to future Optimal Splay games. The latter was also presented by way of consolation to Orielle Televaricios, whose competing bid was foiled after forty-three in-game months by a simulated asteroid impact.