the Empire’s Shadow: the common and collective name for a group of organizations on the interstellar scene in the Associated Worlds, loosely defined as those organizations which are not in and of themselves arms of Imperial policy, but which take immoderate advantage of their chosen work not being illegal by Imperial standards, and the general reluctance of most polities to provoke the friendly neighborhood dragon. (Also known as “the Empress’s skirts”, presumably a metonym for what they are hiding behind.)
Among the most well-known of these are the Agalmic Information Foundation (freedom of information), the Astrapostale (mail delivery… everywhere), Celeritous Exit (snakeheading), the Council for the Promotion of Scientific Irresponsibility (freedom of research), the Eldinimieuthunumis (that fun which is oft called vice), the Freedom’s Seed COG (exporting revolution), the Holy Order of Deoclasts (antimissionaries), the Inevitable Justice Foundation (prosecuting crimes against sophoncy), the Last Gleam Preservers (saving souls), the Means of Defense COG (the right and means to bear arms), Miscegenation Nation (supporting interspecies and other unconventional relationships), the Secret-Keepers (cryptography, cryp, and data havens), the Technic Imperative (access to tools and concepts), the rare filibustering TTGs, and some indeed would argue much of the Starfall Arc Free Merchant Confraternity (smuggling).
First there was the Adaptech Adventurer’s Pistol, and that was bad for those us who believe in trying to exert some sort of control over the proliferation of arms in our countries. Usually you can try and regulate the ammunition, or the fuel, or the high-density energy cells too, for the ones that inevitably slip past you — except when a corporation which happens to be located in a polity notorious for its refusal to cooperate with anyone’s reasonable measures along these lines starts marketing a gun that feeds on sunlight and can make bullets out of air.
But that was an issue for ten years ago.
And then it got worse when Adaptech invented a newer and better model of the Adventurer’s Pistol, and followed the Empire’s intellectual property law and tradition by dumping the conceptual seed for the old one into the public knowledge pool, so that any idiot with an unfiltered extranet connection and an unchained nanoforge can run off as many copies as they want, no charge.
But that was an issue for two years ago.
Today’s issue is that, courtesy of the Means of Defense COG and the Agalmic Praxis Foundation, there’s now a free-to-use-and-modify seed out there for a version of the Adventurer’s Pistol that’s self-replicating, able to construct nanoseeds which – supplied with simple power sources and raw materials – will grow more pistols, which in turn can grow more, and more, and more.
What does border security mean when to smuggle a million copies, you only have to smuggle one?
Our anarchists, lunatics and terrorists thank you for your support.
– #4, “The Top 10 Denounceable Exports: How the Empire’s Annoyed Us This Year”, Independenf Worlds Router