‘Live free or die’ is a statement of ideals and preferences. It is not, and never will be, the policy of this corporation.Esémélí Estantel,
syndic of the Riverside Eubiosis Foundation,
in a Corporate Conflux debate over the marketing of life-extension technologies,
beyond the Consensual Cultural Region
(Still working on actual posts, but here, have a snippet…)
“One perpetual confusion among external Empire-watchers is the confusion between the Ministries of Throne and State and the Shadow Ministries – for example, between the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity, which is a duly empowered governance instrumentality and enforcer of rights and obligations both fundamental and civil, and the Ministry of Exquisition, which is a private Empire-wide circle of branches self-tasked with the promotion of fabulosity, and whose closest approach to governmental power is its chief executive’s entreé to the Court of Courts.
“It is this latter that gives rise to this designation: the leading figure of a Shadow Ministry is afforded the title of Minister as a praetorian courtesy rank along with their entreé; from this, the designation of such courtier-led associations individually as Ministries and collectively as the Shadow Ministries is a simple matter of back-formation and custom.
“Since everyone moving in such circles as are likely to bring them into contact with the Shadow Ministries or the Court of Courts are comfortably aware of this distinction, it is unlikely that any clarifying changes will be made; one should consult the latest edition of the Registry of the Imperial Service (available for reference at any Imperial Services office or directly from the Ministry of Civic Information1) to determine which type of Ministry you are dealing with.”
– Ten Thousand Parts in Approximate Formation: The Empire from Outside
1. A Ministry of State, underneath the Ministry of the Empire, a Ministry of the Throne.
Epistolary Experiment 10/30
From: Surana Irithyl-ith-Issarthyl, Office of Military Procurement
To: Isvieve Dalael, Terrible Aspect Station, Resplendent Exponential Vector
Subject: Re: Boson “laser”
Thank you most kindly for your offer, but considering the thus-far limited nature of the conflict, the Imperial Navy is not in the market for experimental superweapons at this time. Nonetheless, we wish you good fortune and progress in your ongoing researches, and would be very interested to hear of any further progress you make in this direction, as well as in any experimental field-testing you see fit to perform.
for and on behalf of
Office of Military Procurement
<nym1>: I had tea with my cousin today.
<nym1>: We had a most interesting discussion. He pointed out that while on the Republican fleet’s direct path coreward once they pass through the Qiraf Assembly is merely a collection of small ecumenical colonies and single-system polities, immediately spinward of that are our old friends, the People’s State of Bantral.
<nym3>: Thank you for the primer in galactography.
<nym1>: I have a point. And that point is that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain if the Vonnies, should, say, happen to take a more spinward route.
<nym2>: It’s not like I’d miss the Bants, but what exactly do we have to gain?
<nym1>: They’re one of the few polities that offends us as much as it offends them. If anyone in the galaxy deserves a turn or two of social rectification at the hands of our favorite backward-facing hierarchists, it’s the Bants. And –
<nym3>: And then we have another bunch of backward-facing hierarchists to deal with. No sale.
<nym2>: Well, we can’t let them keep it!
<nym1>: We won’t, and we don’t have to. What do you think’s going to happen when they’re driven off? They’re not going to have time to pick up after themselves. So the Republic will have righteously decimated the People’s State’s government for us, and leaving a pile of cornucopias – restricted crippleware cornucopias, true – and other hardware in the hands of the poor starving bastards underneath. You think maybe they can do something with that? You think maybe we can?
<nym4>: You devious sod.
<nym1>: And there’s a bloody pustule on the Worlds at least lanced, if not cleaned up. Something we can’t do for ourselves without breaking the Conclave consensus in ways we can’t get away with yet.
<nym2> Now this I like. Affirm.
<nym4> How do you suggest we divert them?
<nym2> We could deploy Field Fleet Coreward task forces out of Criath System to cover the rest of the Qiraf coreward border. We only need enough to make it a hard crust. Bantral’s got barely any fleet to speak of, and it’ll be easy to make sure they won’t invite us in, even if there was much chance of that anyway. They’ll take the bait.
<nym4> That would work. Although the Assembly will be very unhappy if they ever find out we’re not defending them.
<nym3> Damn all we can do to defend them anyway. The spinward forces aren’t going to catch up with anything but the trailing elements at best speed, once they wait for reinforcements. Keeping them from crossing back through Qiraf’s the best we can do.
<nym4>: Still. They mustn’t find out.
<nym1>: No-one should find out about this any time soon.
<nym2>: Agreed. Do we have consensus on the notion?
<nym3>: We’re all bloody mad… Affirm.
<nym4>: Affirm. Well, then. I’ll bring it up at the next meeting of the Privy Council. I shall trust you gentlesophs to bring your branch-support to the table.
– from a Shadow Ministries blacknet
“Ironblood, Ironblood, this is Shiny Hat. Sitrep. Over.”
“Shiny Hat, this is Iron –“
HIT THE DECK, BOYS! BREAKFAST’S COMING!
“kzzzzzztx Hat. Say again, Shiny Hat, that was loud. Over.”
“Sitrep, Ironblood. Did you find our lost boys? Over.”
“That’s affirmative, Shiny Hat. Egg was cracked, two yolks scrambled. Third one -“
Get me someone to kill! Get me everyone to kill!
“– we’ve got Hammer Six, Shiny Hat, but he’s been hitting the brain-juice pretty hard. Over.”
“Combat-ready, Ironblood? Over.”
“Hell, yes, Shiny Hat, almost as enthusiastic as me! Over.”
“Then take him along, proceed to hill 41, and clean out the opposition on the way. Shiny Hat, clear.”
– from the combat logs of coordinator SHINY HAT, at the assault on Vontok II
Stranger Than Fiction
Heard of the temísi? The arthál? How about the zal!en?
Well, if you had been part of the gaming set between ten and twenty years ago, you did, since these three fictional species made up most of the protagonists of An Ending Not In Fire, the blockbuster virtuality game (and novel, InVid, watchvid, and slinky) franchise from Mirajdíä Studios (Delphys), with its overarching story of love and politics and betrayal and existential threats set in the Greater Ancíël Whirl.
And you’d have heard of them again last week if you read Galactic Demographics Quarterly, since all three of them just turned up in the Empire’s latest statistical update.
This is not merely a repeat of the story some of you may recall seeing a few years ago that Metabiologics, the specialist bioshell manufacturer, had started producing bioshells matching the physical forms of these species for the enjoyment of fans; that was merely another piece of strangeness from our primary source for strangeness, and not something that would appear in the demographics.
Now, however, funded by the “eccentric” quadrillionaire Meris Vinithos-ith-Vinithinios, a consortium of biotechnology companies has produced viable – fully capable of independent life and self-perpetuation – neogen species designed to match those in the game from which they originated. Millions of sophonts have chosen to adopt these species as their own, and had it formally recognized by their government. And more, I am informed that Vinithos-ith-Vinithinios’s consortium has acquired the colonization rights to three ecopoesable planets in the Banners constellation, and arranged to have these recognized as the adopted homeworlds of these fictional species, with representation both in the Shadow Ministries’ Convention of Species and as Imperial member polities using their fictional government, barely modified!
If you aren’t terrified yet, you should be. Here we have the absolute cutting edge of biotechnology, a degree of manipulating nature that should be treated with the utmost respect, being used to… what? Turn playing storyteller into playing god? A man with enough money to wave aside the problems of any dozen backward planets you care to name spends it on realizing an elaborate fantasy. Millions of people abandon their homes, their roots, their own species to live their lives play-acting cultures that some writers made up whole-cloth, and to raise their children in the same fake bodies and rootless environment.
And their government, finding a new low point in its well-known distaste for responsibility, not only doesn’t see fit to raise any questions or take any actions to stop all this, but cheerfully accepts these… defictionalizations as new member species and nations without so much as a sideways look. One might have hoped that one of the Great Powers of the Worlds, one that sits on the Presidium of the Conclave, even, might act with a little more gravitas and respect for the essence of our galaxy’s natural species, but no.
This is how the wealthy and powerful among people and nations act today. It’s no wonder the galaxy’s in a hell of a state.
– Independent Worlds Router, anonymously filed article
“They may have picked an unconventional way to go about it, but our new temísi and arthál and zal!en citizen-shareholders are going about building something; worlds, lives, cultures. That’s their free choice and something laudable, not blameworthy. If you want someone to blame for the state of the galaxy, try the narrow-minded microcephaloids like whoever submitted that article to the Router. And yes, that is the official position of this government.”
– Esmérel Amanyr-ith-Loriane, Imperial Palace press secretary