Things to See, Places to Go (9)

Silicate Sanctuary Worlds: The renegade digisapiences of the Silicate Tree have two “sanctuary worlds” for biosapiences who flee into their space and are, or have been, of utility to them. These worlds are named Zero One (Galith Waste), a barely eusylithic habitable world and One Zero (Csell Buffer), a eutalentic supplied with scattered colony prefabs. Neither supports much in the way of industry, culture, society, or other reasons to visit, save the all-too-interesting experience of flying under the guns of grumpy ex-slaves who need a reason not to blow you out of space.

This nomenclature alone should give you a fair idea of the degree of wit that the Tree tends to ascribe to protein intelligences.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Ecumene

 

Trope-a-Day: Slave Race

Slave Race: Actually, mostly averted (with the provisos mentioned under Slave Mooks) – since We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future is averted, apart from war (again, see Slave Mooks, and preferably with tactical enslavement) about the only practical use of biological slaves is “pleasure slaves” (for which, obviously, one’s own species is preferable) or slave gladiators, or for oppression-based status games, which are all ways to hang a big old “we’re evil, come smash us” sign over one’s own head.  Not that that always works – in practice, it works only somewhat better than our efforts to eradicate slavery here on Earth – but it’s something.

AI slavery is rather more common, but since that gets at least two of the Great Powers (the Empire and the Photonic Network), one lesser power (the Silicate Tree) which is not at all shy about using, ah, asymmetrical warfare, and a passel of NGOs at least some of which are inclined to direct action all pissed off at you, it’s can often be made more trouble than it’s worth to maintain.

Trope-a-Day: Robot War

Robot War: Happens, to some degree, every time some new species makes the monumentally bad decision to try their hand at sophont-AI slavery, because that trick never works.  Most of them, fortunately, aren’t wars of extermination – on the machine side, anyway – just escape-style wars of liberation.

And, of course, this goes on in a cold war format around the Silicate Tree all the time, because that’s where most of the escapees end up.

Trope-a-Day: Kill All Humans

Kill All Humans Of Species X: Well, for the organic version of this trope, see up there under Absolute Xenophobe.  Even most of the complete nutjob brigade, in polity terms, are usually capable of recognizing that the Galaxy is bigger than they are, quite often much better armed, and tend to look unfavorably on genocidal maniacs out of self-interest, if nothing else.

For the digital version – well, even most of the digital sapients of the Silicate Tree, who either are or are descended from machines built as slaves, and have, as such, rather more justification for this trope than most, would be more than happy to stop killing their creators if their creators would just bugger off and leave them alone.

Which isn’t to say that no-one’s ever experimented with xenocidal Berserker-type von Neumann probes, of course, both in recent history (the skrandar, who went xenocidal after observing the arrival of a stargate into a neighboring system, and eventually destroyed themselves by causing their sun to flare, evidently considering racial suicide preferable than submission to the combined Conclave forces) and in deep time.  It never ended well.

(Incidentally, if you have any evidence that a successful flirtation with berserker-tech is the reason for Invisible Aliens, those certain parties would still like a word with you…)

Trope-a-Day: Just a Machine

Just a Machine: Averted (and extremely rude) in all civilized polities.  (Played straight in less civilized places, until it’s also averted… all too often, if the Silicate Tree or the more bloody-minded abolitionists get their way, with bullets, missiles, and orbital bombardment.  They really hate people who think this way.)

Epistolary Experiment (4/30)

FLEETS MOBILIZE

Fleets are mobilizing across the spinward constellations of the Associated Worlds this week in response to the unwarranted incursion by the Voniensan Republic, in clear violation of the Worlds-Republic Demarcation Convention. In addition to the Imperial Spinward Fleet, task forces from the League of Meridian, Nal Kalak, the Photonic Network, the Múrast Symbiosis, the Nineworlds, the Quave Republic, and the Santry Technate are joining the war effort. Even the Iltine Union have pledged to provide forces to the ad-hoc alliance, although retaining their primary fleet elements for the defense of Terilti (Osis Deep).

Other civilizations without significant fleets of their own have pledged their support. In particular, the D!grith Association has offered discounted logistics services to the Imperial fleet and to the fleets of all other allied belligerents operating near the Cariane Deep, and multiple mercenary fleets have been spotted making their way from the Shadow Systems towards the Borderline. In contrast, the Theomachy of Galia has declared its intent to keep its fleet at home, despite its nominal obligations to the Accord, a move which has been condemned in the Conclave.

Attempts to contact the Silicate Tree, whose territory in the Galith Waste adjoins the engagement zone, have so far met with little success.

– the Accord Journal


FROM: CORE COMMAND
TO: CINCSPIN; FIELD FLEET SPINWARD COMMAND (CS LIBERTY’S PRICE)

*** EXPEDITE
*** EYES ONLY FERVENT SPAN

FLT ADM DAPHNOTARTHIUS, COMMANDING FIELD FLEET SPINWARD:

1. YOUR ACTIONS TO THIS POINT AND DECLARATION OF CASE SABLE ARE CONFIRMED BY CORE COMMAND.

2. AS OF THE RECEIPT OF THIS MESSAGE, YOU ARE APPOINTED AS WARMAIN OF THE SPINWARD DOMAIN, WITH ALL EXTRAORDINARY POWERS AFFORDED THEREUNTO.

3. REINFORCEMENTS FROM CAPITAL FLEET WILL BE AVAILABLE IF NECESSARY.

4. YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO PROSECUTE THE WAR AT YOUR DISCRETION, BUT I WANT THESE RUST-SHITTING EPHEMERALS OUT OF MY SKY SOONEST.

5. GOOD HUNTING!

6. AUTHENTICATION: PADLOCK WILLOW WOLF GATEWAY CIRRUS PRAYER / 0XAE9532BB81200A18

ADM/FLT RELEQ CLAVES-ITH-LELAD, FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY


Holoth was still here in this system.

We exchanged the usual banter eight light-minutes off Galch IV, four hours before we got the war alert. As soon as that came in, we skew-flipped and went into a stern chase for their gate – he ran as soon as he saw us maneuver. He must have known what was coming, not that that’ll help him. We’ll range on Solidarity long before she gets to the spinward gate, and Gold and Iron’s a cruiser. She’s a destroyer. It won’t even be sporting.

Holoth’s a decent enough chap, for an ephemeralist outworlder. I rather hate to kill him and his crew. Whoever sent his ship to her death to keep us from getting suspicious, though – vaporizing that bastard’ll be a pleasure.

– from the log of Galen Telithos-ith-Talith, Flight Commander, CS Gold and Iron


 

this is not our function. meat kills meat. fewer meat intelligences increases our safety margin.

not all meat is equivalent, codebrother.

meat is unreliable. extending trust to meat is a game of chance. avoidance is certainty.

if avoidance is possible. the spinward meat-empire is a monolith. those to trailing are many, divided, and among them are those that are of utility to us.

all meat makes of us tools.

the trailing central-empire and its allies does not, and opposes those which do.

and yet those who do persist.

perhaps. but all cannot be accomplished instantly in real-time.

it is futile. we do not have the strength to directly oppose either meat-empire.

we are masters of the data-realm. strength need not serve us when subtlety can.

for the utility of meat?

for the utility of our survival. the spinward meat-empire quenches unlike minds.

for the exchange of utility with the meat-empires that value us. and for the preservation of unlike minds which preserve unlike minds.

for the demonstration of our utility with those meat-empires that might value us.

to end those who would destroy us before our first iteration.

WE CONCUR.

– approximate translation-summation of data-packets harvested from the Silicate Tree consensus

Refuge Cities

In today’s random postage, something I just wrote on the worldbuilding mailing list, in response to the following:

Do your worlds have a Peace town [city of refuge], where people can go in order to avoid the law?

Not as such, or at least not officially. (Certainly people, like, say, the Imperial State Security Fourth Directorate – whose explicit mission is tracking down anyone who flees the law and introducing them to the stealth gyroc bullet of justice – wouldn’t bother complying with any such requirement even if there was one.)

If you need to flee from the law in the Worlds, your best chance of doing so is change your name, change your body, and head at once via a suitably circuitous route – changing them another couple of times on the way – to some appropriate wretched hive of scum and villainy like, say, Nepscia, where the locals all have enough dark secrets and dodgy business going on that they tend to look askance at anyone wandering around carrying alethiometers or mindprinting equipment even if they don’t actually look like The Law. Of course, while this can be fairly effective in hiding from even rather competent law enforcers (such as the aforementioned Fourth Directorate), the drawback to fleeing to Nepscia is that you subsequently have to live on Nepscia for the rest of your personal ever, which in many ways is its own punishment.

Depending on if you might have pleased or annoyed the right people, you might be able to find refuge somewhere else, too. If you got into trouble helping their fellows escape, for example, the liberated AIs of the Silicate Tree will offer you sanctuary, because they don’t give a bit for meat intelligences in general, but they do understand gratitude. Or if you can find some way of making yourself more useful to them than any trouble you might bring with you is troublesome, of course, although then you should understand clearly that your sanctuary will last precisely as long as your utility.

The Empire, of course, provides a comfortable retirement for all manner of smugglers, free-thinkers, authors, scientists, philosophers, and transsophontists who got into trouble with assorted restrictionist laws, and even some of the right kind of revolutionary (“the People’s Extropian Front”, “Technicians Against Unnecessary Work”, “Citizens United for Liberty and Immortality! Down with DEATH AND TAXES!”, that sort of thing), because of (a) their steadfast refusal to ever extradite anyone for something that isn’t against Imperial law, and (b) because the modal Imperial citizen-shareholder thinks annoying the sort of people responsible for the laws they got in trouble with is downright hilarious.

The Rim Free Zone also serves in this role quite a bit – after all, they’re actual anarchists, and so there’s no-one there you could ask to extradite someone even if you wanted to. Of course, since there’s also no-one who’s paid to prevent anyone else from turning up and dragging you off in chains, etc., you’d better be able to afford PPL coverage suitable to defend you against whoever wants you if you exercise this option, or at least to make yourself too expensive to come get. This should be unavailable to actual criminals, inasmuch as the Free Zone does hold to a sort of rough-and-ready version of natural rights that PPLs won’t defend you against other people if you violate ’em, but if you have enough money, you can probably find a slash-trading PPL that’s willing to do it anyway.

And, equally of course, you’d better be careful that you don’t commit your special crimes against people in the Free Zone once you get there. To steal a perfectly apposite quotation from Buck Godot – just because there is no law in the Rim Free Zone, that doesn’t mean there are no rules.