Trope-a-Day: Bazaar of the Bizarre

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Floating Markets, mostly, especially those where a relativist clipper or lugger turns up. Agglomerate enough free traders together, and you get a market where you can find anything, or if not anything, someone who probably can tell you where to find anything. Including most of the things you might expect to find at thieves’ markets, smugglers’ markets, and goblin markets, not to mention those peculiar markets you only visit in your dreams.

Some other well-known markets can be like this: Glorious Acquisition Plaza on Baranithil Station, the Gyre of Commerce in Mer Covales, Seranth, and the Little Market in Calmiríë itself come the closest. But still – for the most bizarre in your bazaar, head to the floating markets.

Trope-a-Day: Proud Merchant Race Guy

Proud Merchant Race Guy: This and the next couple of tropes are difficult, because, well, it’s just not all that hatty a universe.  The Imperials are notorious for their pro-commerce attitudes (see: Blue and Orange Morality) and – especially on Seranth (Imperial Core), one of the Worlds’ largest tradeworlds (see Merchant City, but if you stick to the flying cities, basically it’s like an entire planet of Wall Street/The City/Hong Kong/Singapore) you can walk along the plutarch-crowded Exchange and reasonably consider the Seranthines to be, although of multiple species, a kind of Proud Merchant Race – but even there, they need people to run the restaurants and keep the cities flying and generally provide all the other aspects of society. Of the Empire’s species, well, the eldrae plutarchs can be very mercantile without too much trouble, and the ciseflish, even more so. All the money may flow through Seranth, but an awful lot of it flows to Ólish.

There a number of other species who are known for being very mercantile – the d!grith, for example, have a much larger merchant fleet and trade volume than one might expect from the other statistics of the 22 planet D!grith Association, the codramaju are also vigorous traders even beyond the Worlds (having a speed/mass advantage in their lighthuggers, due to their innate radiation resistance), and of course, in the Rim Free Zone, absolutely everything is for sale.  But it’s not like any of them don’t require enough non-merchants around to keep the hat from fitting all that tightly, either.

Trope-a-Day: Merchant City

Merchant City: Mer Covales, the capital of Seranth (which is not, however, the throneworld), itself located at the junction of the Lethíäza Trade Spine and the Mercantile Corridor, the two biggest and oldest trade routes in the Associated Worlds.

Imagine, if you will, New York City, Hong Kong, and Singapore glommed together into one giant mass of wealth and commerce. Then scale up what you’re imagining until the buildings look like Coruscant’s giant arcology-towers, remake it out of the costliest materials you can imagine, divide it into three concentric layers stacked one above the other, make the whole thing fly, and dangle it off the end of an orbital elevator.

That’s Mer Covales, a giant, hovering testament to wonders, riches, mystery, risk, vice, luxury, splendor, and the ability of wealth to be as potent a force in reshaping the universe as any of the other four, if not more so. If you can’t buy it there, not only does it not exist, but there’s literally no-one you can pay to make it exist.

Trope-a-Day: Capital City

Capital City: Of the Associated Worlds as a whole, that would be the Conclave Drift, the giant habitat in which the Conclave of Galactic Polities is situated.  It’s also a major commercial and cultural hub, it being – due to the room it sets aside for every polity in the Accord to build its own little mini-city – one of the few places you can find everyone together, and its markets are one of the few places in the Worlds where you can rely on finding just about everything that it’s legal to buy anywhere.  (The Empire had this in mind, of course, when they donated one of their star systems to build the thing in.)  It is slightly subverted inasmuch as not all that much freight gets transshipped through it; it would be rather out of the way.  But a surprisingly high percentage of the actual deals get made here.

Other candidates for major commercial centers would be Mer Covales, on Seranth (Imperial Core), which houses several major commercial exchanges and which does play host to a great deal of manufacturing and transshipping; and the worlds of the Free Eilish Confederacy, whose policies of neutrality and openness make it a favorite spot for business – and also a favorite spot for back-door politics and for galactic intelligence agencies to host their away games.  Neither of those, of course, are political capitals of anything.

Of the Empire, that would be Calmirie (“center of order”), which is both the political capital of the Empire, and a significant commercial (somewhat overtaken by Mer Covales) and cultural (somewhat overtaken by Delphys (Imperial Core)) center.  It plays it essentially straight.

Welcome Aboard

“Your attention please, gentlesophs and adjuncts, and on behalf of Captain Corrével and the remainder of the crew, welcome aboard the IS Elegant Locus, operating Interstar flight 963 from Mer Dinévál Countermass Station, Seranth, to Star City Highport, Clajdíä.  I am Galry Inurian-ith-Inuriannon, your purser for this flight.”

“At this time, all passengers and freight have been boarded, and the airlock doors have been closed.  We have been given a departure window commencing in one hour, at which time the holds will be sealed for the duration of transit.  If you have special cargo or steerage-class passengers you wish to check upon, please do so at this time.”

“When our departure is announced, please return to the ship’s lounge until we clear the station.  Since we will be in microgravity immediately after departure and for the rest of the voyage, please ensure that all of your luggage and personal chattels are properly stowed and liquid containers sealed previous to this time.  Emesis containers are located in the pocket of each lounge seat, and microgravity adaptation syndrome drugs are available on request from the lounge stewards or other crew members.  For those passengers who are not spacer-certified, Interstar is pleased to offer a complimentary basic class in microgravity navigation and other tasks in the ship’s gymnasium immediately after departure.  Our time of transit to Clajdíä will be approximately eight days.”

“At this time, the Shipboard Information Service has been enabled.  Details of the costs for dedicated tight-beam or tangle transmissions are available on the ship’s intranet, as are charges for processor rental.  Batched data transfer and access to the ship’s extensive library and cache are available at no charge.”

“Under the Imperial Navigation Act, we are required to familiarize you with certain emergency procedures.  In a loss-of-pressure emergency in any compartment of the ship, this alarm will sound — and the ship’s lightning will switch to high-contrast blue.  The spacetight doors will immediately seal off each compartment.  If you are in a compartment designated as a pressure shelter at this time, identifiable by the green and blue bands painted at the top of the bulkheads, please remain where you are until otherwise instructed.”

“If you are in a compartment that is not a pressure shelter, or if you are in a pressure shelter and this alarm sounds — accompanied by strobing high-contrast blue lighting, indicating a local loss of pressure, you should immediately locate the nearest individual rescue ball.  These are located behind the emergency panels in each compartment, marked in hazard yellow.  Simply pull the panel from the wall, and remove the rescue ball.  Unfold it, place it on the floor, sit on it, and pull the red handle at the sides of the ball up simultaneously and over your head until they meet, at which point the sides of the ball will catalytically seal together and the ball will inflate.  In the event that the automatic sealer fails, remove any foreign objects from the area where the edges of the ball meet, and press the edges together manually until a proper seal is formed.  There is no need to rush; explosive decompression is exceedingly rare, and carelessness in this task is a greater risk than delay.”

“Each rescue ball contains a self-repair pack, essential medical supplies, and an intercom system to allow communication with crew and with passengers in other balls. It also contains an automatically activated rescue transponder that will report your location and status to the crew.  The rescue ball’s internal air supply will last for a minimum of one hour; if you will be required to remain for longer periods of time, the crew will connect your rescue ball to the ship’s backup oxygen supply.”

“In the event of a local loss of pressure, sealing capsules may be released into the compartment’s air to plug the leak.  While the sealant gel is unpleasant to the touch should you come into contact with it, it is non-toxic and designed to bond only to hull metals.”

“Should a fire occur in any compartment, the following alarm will sound — along with red, flashing alert signs.  You should leave the compartment immediately, following the bulkhead track lighting to the nearest spacetight door.  If a fire is of magnitude sufficient to trigger the alarm, you should not attempt to fight the fire; the fire will be extinguished when the compartment is vented to space.  Do not stop to collect your belongings or other items.  While every attempt will be made to provide reasonable escape time, the spacetight doors will seal as rapidly as is necessary to secure the safety of the ship, and the compartment vented to space to extinguish the fire.  If you are unable to escape the compartment before the spacetight doors seal, make use of a rescue ball in a location as distant from the fire as possible.”

“In the event of any other survivable emergency situation, please report to a pressure shelter compartment as soon as possible, and comply with all directions given by the ship’s crew.  If you are trapped or otherwise unable to reach a pressure shelter compartment, please contact us using the emergency channel on any ship intercom.”

“If you have any questions about the flight at any time, please don’t hesitate to ask any of our cabin stewards.  Thank you, and again, on behalf of Captain Corréval and the crew, please enjoy your voyage with Interstar.”

The Golden Rule

As Sev Lan Astrin hurried through the bustling Exchange to his meeting in Gilea & Company’s Golden Tower, the starscrapers of Mer Covales, jeweled and gilded, gleamed in the golden light of Galaion, and reflected back the lights of bright hololiths and scurrying flitters alike in a million multicolored shards.

It was, he thought, arrogant in the special way only the public works of the advanced, extremely wealthy, and utterly lacking in humility could be. “Look upon our works, ye mighty,” it said, “and know that we did all of this for a mere 3.6%, and can do it all again any time we please.”

That the Seranthines had hung their capital thousands of feet above the world’s pristine gray-green forests upon the diamond string of an orbital elevator was just gilding the lily. Or, rather, studding the gilded lily with gemstones and applying unnecessarily intricate iridium detailing.

It all grated on Sev Lan’s nerves, but he did his best to swallow his irritation. CFOs needing a 3×1212 esteyn line of credit in a hurry couldn’t afford to have fine sensibilities.