Revolutionary

blacklight (n.): an external window in a large space habitat, looking out into space (see: the black). The word was deliberately coined in opposition to skylight, since due to the operation of spin gravity, the majority of blacklights are in the floor.

It is considered both polite and practical to throw a rug over the blacklights when flatlanders come to call.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

(Well, no-one’s going to call an UV light a blacklight when they can see UV natively, are they?)

It’s Just Business

The Data Acquisition Echelon aren’t the enemy. They’re the opposition. Ignorance is the enemy.

Agent-Expediter Fors Raikav, Second Directorate

Grand Game Accords: A rumored covert agreement between many of the Worlds’ more gentlesophly intelligence agencies and data brokers reflecting the spirits of rivalry and partnership whose balance changes from moment to moment as the board develops. It provides for limited field cooperation and permits their agents, if compromised in the act of espionage, to surrender to each other with an assurance of good treatment, including during limited interrogations and memory redaction, and regular exchanges of captured operatives.

After all, we all spy on each other in the interest of galactic peace, or at least galactic stability. No-one gains anything from making it personal.

– Rilial’s Informal Dictionary of Intelligence and Security Terminology

Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (11)

Ulijen (Cordai Gap): Honestly, if I have to tell you it’s a bad idea to visit a planet that looks like someone took a bite out of a giant apple, you probably aren’t able to read this book anyway.

Ulijen is the infamous site of the eponymous Ulijen Disaster, in which an ill-advised attempt to tap power from the system’s primary using a wormhole resulted in the planet being bathed in heart-of-a-star conditions for long enough to vaporize a substantial chunk of its mass: the resulting crater covers a quarter of the planet’s surface area, and the rest of the planet is not a habitable world any more, either.

But that all happened long ago (circa -1,000), you say?

Well, there are three very good reasons not to go that still apply:

One, it’s astonishingly radioactive. Being effectively dunked in a stellar core causes a lot of neutron activation, and while to my knowledge no-one’s actually computed how much shielding you need to visit a planet that glows from orbit 8,000 years later, it’s certainly more than you have.

Two, to call it tectonically unstable would be to call Leytra (Ringstars) ‘bright’. When you vape that much mass off a planet, it tends to collapse back into a proper sphere under its own gravity. This is not an easy, short, or comfortable-to-be-around process.

Three: you want to go there to salvage paleotech, don’t you? Of course you do; that’s why anyone goes to a fossil world. But even if it wasn’t all vaporized in the disaster, you’re then going to try and sell someone a power generation system with a known history of destroying civilizations.

The likely consequences of this are best appreciated by reading my companion book, 1,769 Sophs Who Were Airlocked, And Why They Had It Coming: A Cynic’s Study Of Consequences (Bad Stuff Press, 7920).

Boom Tomorrow?

HÍÄSTRE, INTAIS (LEY NEBULA) – The small letal colony in the Chiaras (Beratnas Cluster) system broadcast an appeal today for aid, after local astronomers confirmed that the orbit of the comet IGS 31278493 would intersect with the orbit of Chiaras in three months time. While impact cannot be confirmed due to the increasing outgassing of the comet as it approaches perihelion, neither can it be ruled out. No assistance can be expected from the greater Inial Consulate, with which the Chiaras colony had severed formal ties, and no response has yet been made by any of the regional powers.

While no statement has been issued, public eyes report that the Imperial Rimward Fleet’s Task Group 149, currently on patrol in the Stritta (Vertyl Gyre) system, altered course at approximately the same time as the broadcast could have reached them, light-lag permitting, although their intentions remain unknown at this time.

(Amendment: the Accord Journal has, however, received a joint statement of protest from the Seventeen World Empire and the Vile-Born Imperium concerning the Empire of the Star’s monopoly on the adjective Imperial in this story and such publications as ours. We thank them for their attention to the most important details, although our editorial policy remains unchanged.)

The Right To Bear Arms

“If you need a good cadre job done fast, the Gun Captains are who you want to hire. They have an office in Plenary, a couple of blocks north of the Battlespire, or if you’re not welcome on Vordon, you can lug it all the way out to Hantol System in the Free Verge and call on them at home on Guntown Drift.

“Yes, that Guntown Drift. Don’t listen to the scaremongers; all the fresh puppets, clankie or squishie, were certified mindless before import. And we’re reasonably sure that any battle-trophies being worn about the place were legitimate spoils before they were turned into zek-meat.

“The locals may be the product of an AI revolt, but not the implacable-hostility-to-biosapiences kind. dilReigar Weapons screwed up their sophonce inhibitors by the numbers, but all they got were, heh, smart guns, that didn’t want to walk fresh milmeat through basic competence for free. So offer some quality pay. Trust me, they’re worth it.

“Oh, and look them in the sights, not the barrel, and definitely not the puppet’s eyes. That’s just respectful.”

The More Things Change…

Security: RING DYNAMICS INTERNAL / MULBERRY WISDOM
From: Adari Lyranthar, Directorate Coordinator
To: Future Directions Team
Date: 17 Yrnaes 8001, Midmorn falling 5
Subject: All Fittled Up

Well, gentlesophs, courtesy of the our new friends, the Starleaper Initiative, and the chaps from Metric Engineering, we now have a fittler making a test run.

It’s going to take a little while before my aunt finishes fully evaluating the consequences and implications, not to mention singing the full-length lament to not thinking of that herself, but so we can get started thinking about specific applications, I have some preliminaries to give out.

First, the frameslip drive – to give it it’s proper name – is never going to be a general tool. It’s big, clunky, energy-hungry, and temperamental. To ward off the first response, yes, this a prototype, but no, these are not qualities attached to it being a prototype: most of them aren’t even in the engineering, they’re down in the physics of the thing.

Big and clunky: the core’s not so bad, even if it is bigger than a vector-control core for the same ship and we might even manage some integration there.

The problem is that you can’t fittle without at least one – and possibly more, depending upon configuration – frameslip ring surrounding the ship at a healthy distance, such that you can warp space without turning anyone aboard into rad-seared spaghetti. Essentially, they’re going to dominate the design of anything we put a frameslip into.

Also, they have to go outside everything, including the radiators – at least when they’re retracted, but if you do that, that’s going to up your required heatsink mass.

Energy-hungry: Numbers are attached. Suffice it to say that Extropa are going to sell a lot of antimatter.

Temperamental: You will be delighted to know that causality still holds and the Fifth Directorate will not be coming to wipe our brains before we accidentally an exadeathcrime.

On the other hand, this means that all the fun of universe-enforced causality protection is also the case with the frameslip, although we believe the software should shut it down safely on warning.

It also, which has been extensively tested with pre-prototype models, interacts badly with itself and with stargates. The use of a stargate in the same system as, or whose wormhole track passes near, a frameslip drive tends to cause a bubble collapse, although fortunately not a catastrophic one for the wormhole.

The conclusion I draw from this is that our main business is not obsolete: it appears to be impractical to operate frameslip drives within an extensive, well-trafficked stargate plexus, or indeed in large volume along similar routes. Even more importantly, it appears that the use of frameslip drive is, and in the absence of another high-level breakthrough should continue to be, more expensive in capital, energy, necessary training, and starship design constraints than the use of stargates even at our current rates.

What then of the frameslip? Well, I see two obvious markets. One is the Exploratory Service, who can obviously make use of the frameslip for both far horizon probes, and for new classes of scoutship intended to precede stargate deployment rather than follow it. (Marwyn, can you throw together some scratch designs?) The other is relativist trading vessels working both in the Inner Periphery and the Outback, since the frameslip should be more cost-effective per light-orbit, even without journey time differential taken into effect, than current-generation lighthugger drives.

I’m sure we can come up with more applications if we put our heads together, so see what you can come up with. We’ll have a brainstorming meeting tomorrow at Courtly rising 12.

Adari


Security: RING DYNAMICS INTERNAL / MULBERRY WISDOM
From: Adari Lyranthar, Directorate Coordinator
To: Future Directions Team
Date: 17 Yrnaes 8001, Waterclock rising 12
Subject: REDIRECT EVERYTHING (was Re: All Fittled Up)

New, direct from the test team:

The optimists were right. Since the frameslip just warps space, and thus creates no discontinuities in its operation, unlike gating, it can transport entangled half-objects and it can transport stargate half-pairs.

We’ll have to replace the linelayer fleet to take advantage of it, but the entire Expansion Timetable just got squished. We’ll still have the meeting with whatever you’ve got so far at a later date, but as of right now, our main priority is drawing up projections on what this does to our plexus growth scenarios given different investment options and other presentations to take to the investors. Attached simulation space in six.

Anyone who can stick around tonight to help, please do. We’ve just been handed the opportunity to become the galaxy’s common carrier in a golden chalice, and if we pull this off, in under a century we’ll all have maharargyr, glory, and nice shiny exponents on our net worths!

Adari

Meteorology

“Good morning, Talentar, and welcome to the second day of Severe Weather Disposal Week! The ecopoesis operations team tell us they’ve got a lot of moist air to dump, so the theme for the day is wet, wet, wet!

“Up in the northern highlands, expect torrential rainfall in the vicinity of the Antíval Basin. Flood defenses around the basin rim will be operating and the flood barrier at the northern end of the Antíva Canal will be closed until flash runoff from the storms has been dealt with. In related news, three spillways have been opened in readiness at the Ontaron Cut Dam, and both dwellers along and users of the southern Antíva Canal should be prepared for high water levels and flow rates from the Dam as far south as the Isifer Bay Wetland Dispersal Structure.

“Residents in the Five Valles and in particular in the vicinity of Quinjano should be prepared for severe fog and high water levels in the Fivefold River as cold spillover descends into the valles. Visibility is expected to be negligible in the region, and highway/skyway oversight has issued a safety advisory recommending curtailment of all non-automatic flight in the region, as well as manual driving on the TI-1, TI-3, and all TV routes. Also, put on your cold suits outside even if you’re not going up on the Altiplanum; the chilling effect will be harsh.

“An unscheduled hailstorm and associated mudslide have forced temporary closure of two lanes of the TV-5, 870 miles south of the polar ice mines. Repairs are already in progress, but traffic should avoid the area until a further announcement is made.

“Finally, in unplanned weather, a localized dust storm blowing down into Kirinal Planum has closed the westbound carriageway of the TI-2 with a sanddrift. Normal service should be resumed within an hour, but for the moment westbound traffic is at a standstill, and eastbound traffic delayed as people slow to see this piece of classic weather. Folks, keep driving, please! You can replay it later at your leisure. Also due to this storm, travelers in the region between Suléyn Dome and Marusí Vallis as far south as Meltwater should check their vehicles or breather masks are rated for level three dust and fines.

“That’s all today from us. Thank you for listening to Talentar Imminence, and here are a few words from our sponsors…”