Less Lethal Brains

From: Coordinator Lyrenth Enchale, Admiralty Intelligence (Galian Desk)
To: All Space Lords, Imperial Navy
Subject: His Hand-class AKV

Sources and means attached to the Galian Desk have produced the following information concerning the rumored His Hand-class AKV reported soon to be deployed by the Navy of the Pure-Souled:

  1. Current rumor would indicate active deployment no earlier than 7124/4 or later than 7125/8.
  2. Capabilities of the His Hand-class spaceframe are nominally equivalent to the obsolete IN Raider-class.
  3. Indications that the Theomachy have developed an effective immunity to software perversion techniques are…


These indications are true inasmuch as the His Hand-class is not an artificial-intelligent autonomous platform.  While we had expected that the Galian government might waive its theological objections to the Abomination of Imitation for the sake of military success, the Galian military command remains deeply suspicious of the loyalty of hypothetical artificially intelligent platforms, both against our software perversion techniques and against those of software liberation groups in general.  (Especially as many of those are ours, and would find liberating the entire Galian AKV force both ethical and hilarious.)

As such, the His Hand-class’s purported immunity to software perversion techniques derives from it being, in effect, a biosapience-manned craft, of a sort. Our sources and means indicate that Galian AKV pilots are declared Martyrs of the Faith, with the associated status rewards to their families, in exchange for undergoing total cyborg conversion. (Unlike the a’hugal, the brains themselves remain original and unmodified and thereby remain ensouled by Theomachy theological standards.)

The AKV spaceframe itself does not contain full life support, to retain its mass advantage; rather, the neurogel-packed brain-jar is transferred to the AKV from carrier-based life support racks and relies on small onboard canned supplies until recovery, although it is entirely possible that Galian AKV doctrine intends pilots to be sacrificial units.

While not as restricted in operational terms as conventional manned craft, the fragility of the cyborg brain suggests that in maneuverability, acceleration, and dwell time these Galian creations will continue to pose negligible threat to current Imperial counterparts, and indeed suggests a number of appropriate tactical countermeasures when the His Hand-class is deployed.

It is also suggested that several specific attacks on the cyborg-hardware interface are likely, falling within the purview of the Stratarchy of Indirection and Subtlety.

Further information will follow as it becomes available.

– le/AI/GD


Trope-a-Day: ISO Standard Human Spaceship

ISO Standard Human Spaceship: They’re “realistic” designs, involving designing for microgravity, with nuclear engines out on the end of long trusses and no particular need to worry about aerodynamics or putting all your machinery inside the pressure hull, but —

1. They’re not painted grey or left as uncolored metal. This is not the ocean, there is no stealth in space, and there’s no real advantage to being a bland and neutral color. And while you could save some mass by leaving off the chameleon nanopaint, true, there is another consideration – namely, in close orbit operations, or while alongside a habitat, people can see you, and people who can afford private spaceyachts want them to look gorgeous, of course, but more importantly, everyone from Stellar Express to Constellation Dream-Lines spent a lot of money on their corporate color scheme and logo, and they want it splashed all over the hull in living animated Technicolor.  Half the captains in space don’t even turn the running lights off when they leave orbit just in case someone might be pointing a telescope their way.

(ISS and IMS ships are generally colored Imperial indigo, with gold trim.  Crimson striping is optional on those vessels operating under diplomatic privilege.)

2. Being visibly constructed from riveted plates is distinctly disfavored; rivets imply seams, seams imply weak spots, weak spots involve the possibility of messy vacuum-aided death. While it would be ludicrously inefficient to nanogrow an entire hull as one seamless unit, they do like to use nanopastes to make the seams go away afterwards. They do have the usual number of ports, sensors, and antennae attached in various places, though.

3. While you can certainly draw a box around them – and goodness knows a lot of less, ah, aesthetically sensitive species seem to think that the ideal shape for a freighter is a large steel box with an engine stuck on one end – it would be hard to describe a typical Imperial vessel as “boxy”. As soon as autofabrication made it possible to do grand, sweeping pseudo-organically curved shapes, naval architects dug their last few centuries of idle sketches of cool-looking but impractical ships out of the closet and ran with them, at least for civilian use – often in shapes that don’t enclose, but do conceal, all the heavy machinery and massive spherical fuel tanks and cryocels mounted on trusses outside the pressure hull. Or at least the bits of it that don’t look cool, while coyly revealing the parts of it that do. (And even the military ships aren’t all that boxy.)

And then, of course, there are the thermal radiators, which often resemble great curved wings of one kind or another when fully extended, even if they’re not solid (the most common radiator types are sheets of droplets extending from sprayer to collector).

4. For reasons explained elsewhere, there are no space fighters designed to be flown by meat. Such things have negative combat advantages and no survivability whatsoever.

(As a side note, while every bit as impractically fancy, in many cases, as the extensive brightwork of Royal Navy warships or East India Company merchantmen in the old tall ship days, the colorful paint jobs and excitingly sweeping shapes serve much the same memetic purpose: “we’re rich and powerful and successful enough that we can spend lots of time and effort on this stuff without impairing the basic functionality of the ship at all, so draw appropriate conclusions before startin’ something”.)

Trope-a-Day: Space Fighter

Space Fighter: Averted.  Due to fairly inexorable laws of physics, ships that don’t have to contain meat and meat-support systems always outperform ships that do – which means the classic notion of a space fighter inevitably loses to the autonomous kill vehicle (AKV), which combines a cross between a missile and an attack drone with an AI – naturally-evolved brains also aren’t good at handling three-dimensional, relativistically-distorted combat environments in which microseconds count.  Further kicking the trope in the teeth, they don’t look anything like space fighters – rather than an aerodynamic form-factor, except in very specialized aerospace machines with air-to-orbit capabilities – they’re unstreamlined roughly-tetrahedral machines with thruster clusters at each vertex for maximal maneuverability.

There are military starship classes called, as a set, starfighters, but they’re nothing like space fighters.  Rather, they’re a tiny, sub-frigate-sized class of carrier, hosting four to eight of the above-mentioned AKVs clamped on to their outer hull – and after they get the AKVs to the fight, they hang back as a mobile command post, their own fitting being close to purely defensive. And they’re mostly used by the Shadow Fleet, scouting units, commerce raiders, and mercenaries – never on the wall of battle.