Yeah, Maybe Not That Short

Academician Sesca Galith stepped up behind the podium, and tapped it gently to begin. The audience quieted rapidly as she held up a wickedly-pointed poniard, of oddly-textured metal, with lights gleaming white and amber in its hilt, whose image was repeated on the displayed behind her.

“Presenting, gentlesophs, the latest in field interrogation technology from Eye-in-the-Flame’s cognitive weaponry division. This little tool is our ripknife, a guaranteed instrumentality for extracting information when it is both necessary and urgent. Using a nanitic burning-scan reader, when emplaced in the cerebral cavity of a target via some vulnerable aperture or thinness, the ripknife creates a high-resolution destructive scan of the neural network of their brain’s essential regions, then uploads it via your tactical mesh network to your battlespace command center. There, static mind-state analysis or fork interrogation using our patented NEUROLAUNDRY ™ software will lay your target’s secrets bare within minutes, and relay useful information back to you over the mesh. There is no better way to ensure field data acquisition proceeds rapidly enough to keep you inside the opposition’s command-and-control loop –”

A grizzled kaeth in the audience coughed. “Doc, we’re all just simple mercenaries here. Give us the short version?”

“Find someone knowledgeable on the other side, then stick it through the eye socket and wait until the light turns blue. Ignore the dripping. Then you know what they know. Knew.”


Trope-a-Day: Clone Army

Clone Army: Just… don’t.

In its simplest form, where you’re just using cloning technology to replicate military-grade bodies as quickly as you can, it may be valuable. It won’t help you with absolute growth rates, since the expensive part is growing the minds to put in the bodies which is much harder to rush, but if you have noetic backup technology at least you can get your casualties back into the field faster.

If you are actually attempting to run what is functionally a non-divergent fork army, however, this will fail dramatically as soon as anyone notices – because, gee, do you think having your entire army react in the same way to every situation and stimulus might just open up a few security holes?

If you’re really lucky, this won’t get everyone killed.



Why are they always ravens?

I have met lots of dar-vorac in civilian life, and while they’re strange in the usual ways that uplifts are strange, dar-bandal possibly somewhat excepted, and they’re mostly cheerful, well-adjusted people. No death fixations or suchlike abound, unless you count their taste in restaurants. Oh, slevanka, please let it not be the eyeballs.

But in the Legions, if your battle goes sideways hard enough that you need to send for a necromancer – sorry, battlefield nonfunctional/deathected asset repurposing specialist – then eleven times out of twelve you’ll see a raven flying in. Accompanied by the rising, swirling, drone-spewed mist of nanites that’s going to chew its way into the plentiful corpses, biophage the spare parts, and use the resulting energy to make the rest shamble their way towards the enemy and pull the trigger from time to time before being shot to sufficient pieces. Well enough to serve as a distraction or cover your retreat, anyway.

You just have to hope the enemy finds it as creepifying as we do.

Or, at least, as nauseating.


The Blood-Brain Barrier

From: Alvis Antarianus, Expansion Renewal Union
To: Heriath Calliste, Inevitable Justice Foundation
Subject: Re: Cleaning up the Union once and for all

Look, your proposed operation is well designed. I’ll give it that. But there’s no chance whatsoever that it’ll pass the Senate. Galactic Relations or State Security’d kill it in a heartbeat even if Military Affairs were to let it pass, which they won’t.

Even if you can persuade all the right people that it’s a worthy cause, preemptive occupations are a dead letter for a reason, and it’s not just a few faded scrolls at State & Outlands with a peace addiction. Academician Doctor Excellence Selidië Cíëlle killed them the moment she figured out how to meme-map a mind-state and back-port alterations to the original living brain. She gave us desire control, meme rehab, psychedesign, and the Guardians of Our Harmony, but she shot the knees out from under the belligerati doing it.

People can tell themselves that they won’t crack under torture, even when it’s a nerve stapler or a death cube. They can tell themselves that they can resist any bribe, withstand any temptation, not succumb to any cunning memetic campaign, and intimidate or plain murder any of their neighbors who do. There’s even some damn fools who convince themselves they have the mental integrity to shrug off a YGBM.

But no-one, no-one, can resist psychedesign applied directly to their brain, and everyone out there knows that.

The Conclave of Clionomy have run the vectors on this. Our reputation for ethical stringency keeps people calm and trusting, under normal circumstances. But take a voluntary trip down into the tar-pit, and you’re going to get rumors and propaganda flying about how we’re mass-reprocessing people into good little libertist meme-bots, or weaponizing infectious nanotech that rewrites the loyalty circuits of people’s brains, or some such bitswarf, and if their projections are right, that has a high probability of taking us to CASE SKYSHOCK RED and a hard civilization kill event within two years, five at the outside.

You know they’d be lies, and I know they’d be lies, but try to imagine just how terrifying literally changing someone’s mind would be to a paranoid peon with a poor grasp of consensuality.

Maybe you could try pitching it to the waserai ambassador?

– Alvis


Trope-a-Day: Blade Below the Shoulder

Blade Below the Shoulder: Some types I and II exist; the former because a strap-on “weapon pod” is a standard accessory for quick-draw weapons, some of which might as well be blades, and the latter because – well, while they’re as impractical as concealed weapons as any other cybernetic implant, X-rays being a thing, and probably not the most useful thing you could stash inside your arm anyway, some people have funny tastes and like the notion of weapons attached to them.

Type III is certainly possible, but it not being considered an idiotic self-handicap probably isn’t. That discourages people.

Trope-a-Day: Biological Weapons Solve Everything

So, um, first some words of apology for the last week’s silence (due to feeling sicker than a dog, mostly, along with various other impedimenta that made it hard to write), especially to those new patrons who must surely be wondering what they signed up in time for…


But anyway – I’m back on stream, and new content should be with you very shortly, starting with this!

Biological Weapons Solve Everything: Well, not everything, but they do solve certain highly specific problems – ironically enough, usually those scenarios in which the answer is not, in fact, killing everything.

But if you want to paralyze the enemy’s army by inducing several million cases of hemophilia, just to take the military option off the table for a while so that affairs can be resolved via some better method, or just slow things down generally with the highly contagious common cold from hell, or degrade infrastructure with a handy mycoid that feeds on asphalt, or target a virus against one highly specific genetically-identified individual or group…

Subtle, highly specific tools. That’s what bioweapons and their nanoweapon cousins are good for.

(You’ve got to be bloody sure about the anti-mutation and limited-propagation safeguards you build in, though.)

Trope-a-Day: Crush. Kill. Destroy!

Crush. Kill. Destroy!: Oh, come now. Being constructed by a literate and, dare I say it, sesquipedalian people, Imperial deathbots don’t just wander about yelling “Crush! Kill! Destroy!”, or even “Exterminate!”. Why would they, when they could just as easily be programmed to deliver positive, uplifting messages, like: EMBRACE LIBERTY OR YOU WILL BE ERADICATED. Or MISSION: THE DESTRUCTION OF ANY AND ALL GALIAN SLAVERS. PROBABILITY OF MISSION HINDRANCE: ZERO PERCENT. Or even just that they love the smell of plasma in the morning…

(So, yeah, basically, keep your imagination tuned about halfway between Mister Gutsy and Liberty Prime. But unironically.)