Ecumenopolis

The Empire has no true ecumenopolis within its borders. As those who are prone to wryly comment on such things might say: The many do not exist; the few lack the ecumene; and the one lacks the polis.

The few, of course, are those beehive colonies occupying the biggest asteroids and smallest moons in Imperial space – such as 1 Andír, once the largest asteroid among the e’Luminiarien, then home to the first of the habitats of the growing belter culture, and now cored and hollowed, tunneled, reformed, and chambered, remade in its entirety into Andir Drift, a single labyrinthine city of 79 million embodied souls, nearly 600 miles across – if you don’t include the largest set of radiator vanes ever constructed, which almost double that figure. Impressive, certainly, but an ecumene? Perhaps not.

And then there is Qechra.

Qechra, which is the Transcend’s forge world.

Qechra, where synapse moons and unity spires are born.

Qechra, which while it can spare some capacity now and again to make Ring Dynamics some stargate hulls, or run off some high-density computronium for Bright Shadow, belongs to Mahánárel and Medáríäh from crust to core, in heart and soul.

From the smelters and reactors buried down deep in the fringes of the Mohorovicic, to the webs of automated assemblers, processors, and stranger machinery still in its middle crust, opened to the sky where repurposed oceans thunder through its cooling gorges and blast skyward in a furnace-draught of steam; through all the tangled webs of coolant pipes honeycombing the world, leading out to the outermost branches of sky towers where massive ontotechnological entropy pumps shower hot neutrinos into the depths of space; in the endless assembly caverns and above the crystalline peaks of processor mountains; in all of these, this world belongs to the Forger and the All-Abundant.

Only in the factory-cathedrals of the surface is there any place for sophonts of lesser order than such Powers, those few who serve and command the machinery below, and the pilgrims who come to wonder at this technarch’s heaven.

But Qechra is not their polis, not a friendly home like the hexterranes of Coricál. Qechra is the Transcend’s potency made manifest. It shrugs off lesser powers than its own without a thought.

– Other Wonders of the Galaxy, Ademone Kirvin-ith-Kirvin

Darkness Within (4): Air!

MET 184-17-12

Air!

Delicious air!

…well, no, not delicious air, but I get ahead of myself. I made accessing the for’ard mess my third priority after rigging the air feed for the pod, rigging the k-blanket, and pulling the hardware, because rebuilding these scraps into an airlock-style depressurizer will go a lot more smoothly without suit gloves on, even skinsuit gloves.

Here’s how you build an airlock out of a rescue ball. First, pull out your pocket laser cutter, and chop it in half. (Try not to cringe too much at the thought of cutting one of your vacuum-tight spaces apart, despite the fact that if you’re even contemplating this crazy plan you must be almost out of things that’ll hold air in the first place.) Make sure the entrance flap is in the middle of one of the halves. Stash the other half for later.

Then you need a tube of bioglue, or whatever vacuum-safe glue you have handy, preferably of the kind that sticks to itself, too, as well as metal because you want a good, thick bead of the stuff all around the spacetight door you’re using as the other end of your airlock that you’re going to push the cut edge of the ball down into. Once that sets, slather another layer on top of that, because you need to be damn sure the bond will hold pressure. You now have a door with a bag on it.

Check your work.

Climb into the bag, and seal the flap of the rescue ball. Check that it’s sealed properly. Now check your work again.

Offer up your most profound and fervent prayers to Mahánárel and Athnéël, who between them look after engineers, gamblers, and the poor bastards who have to be both at the same time.

Then open the spacetight door, and hang onto the wall while you do, because air will be coming out in a hurry, and the wire-and-tape-job you just rigged will be under enough stress inflating with a bang without you falling ass-over on it, too.

Now step inside, and close the spacetight door again. Feel greatly relieved that this insane plan worked at all and that you didn’t manage to vent all that precious oxygen overboard. You may permit yourself a caper or two.

Suffice it to say: it worked. Once. I don’t feel confident enough in its reliability to use it more than once, so unless the situation changes, I’ll be staying in here until this air fouls; the air that escaped into the ball is going to have to be written off, but that’s better than all of it.

As far as the local situation goes: the mess is surprisingly orderly; the stowages mostly held. Some floaters to clean up, but not too many. The food situation may be a little better than I thought, but that’ll have to wait on inventory.The telltale on the emergency hatchway down-deck confirms there’s no air below me in the server room.

Finally, I must now formally log confirmation of the temporary deaths of Lieutenant Leresif Inachios, Sailing Master, and Sublieutenant Alwyn Lelad, Power/Thermal Engineer, present in the for’ard mess deck at the time of the recorded impacts, who both appear to have been killed instantly by massive kinetic trauma. As is standard protocol, I have removed and taken possession of the vector stacks and command keys of each officer, and recorded this in the flight systems log.

(I also took possession of Leresif’s locket. He’d never forgive himself if he lost that.)

The Word of the Flame (2/9)

The following, as is the preceding one and will be the other seven entries in the series, are extracts from the Word of the Flame, the record of the seeress Merriéle’s visions that is also the primary text of the Church of the Flame, the mainstream eldraeic religion.

More specifically, this series will contain all 51 verses of the book of Principles, which enumerate the principles of each of the eikones in the form of each’s foremost principle as they would have it expressed under Heaven, although naturally each eikone’s own book examines the fullness of the principle they represent from many more angles and in much more detail.  Nonetheless, the three verses of the Triarchs and the 48 verses of their Divine Ministers are second only to the book of Truths in Flamic moral teaching.

Knowledge is its own justification.
To learn it is good; to discover it is better;
To record it, imperishable, is best of all.
This is the command of Aláthiël
Through whom all things are known.

The stars hold wisdom beyond their light.
The deepest study reveals truth beyond truth,
The blossoming tree revealed in the acorn.
This is the command of Aéren
Who sees through every surface.

Your words are your thoughts, given form;
Your thoughts are echoes of your heart’s truth.
Therefore shape them well, with harmony.
This is the command of Atheléä
Whose songs resound in every voice.

Do not rely on chance; it will betray you.
Neither fight it; you will lose more than you gain.
Trust only that chance is.
This is the command of Athnéël
Whose presence is ever unlooked-for.

The eternal may persist forever;
Those which are ephemeral must end.
That which must end should end well.
This is the command of Pétamárdis
Who sees all endings made anew.

The world is clay, unshaped, awaiting the fire;
The world is metal, unshaped, awaiting the forge.
By your hands must all things be completed.
This is the command of Mahánárel
Who first wrought shape from chaos.

– the Word of the Flame, Principles 4-9