Trope-a-Day: Bullet Proof Vest

Bullet Proof Vest: Mostly averted against bullets – most modern personal weapons put enough kick behind their projectiles that you want hardshell armor with kinetic barriers (see: Armor is Useless, Powered Armor) to save you from those, which is why even the Constabulary uses the equivalent of regular legionary armor just in case.  The equivalents, “scale jackets”, and other clothing made from the same materials – usually pharmed spider-silk and related composites – do exist to help deal with shrapnel, knives, needlers, and other lesser hazards.

Trope-a-Day: Big Brother Is Watching

Big Brother Is Watching: And his name, in the Empire, is Citizen Oversight.

Subverted, rather, inasmuch as it’s not principally a law enforcement instrumentality.  It, and its extensive surveillance/geolocation/other-sensory grid, drones, etc. – in public spaces only, and privately-owned-but-open-to-the-public don’t count (i.e., those places where, by law and custom, you have no expectation of privacy) – and its data mining/correlation application exist primarily to provide the raw data feed that gets broken down into the statistical information that even a government as minimal as the Empire’s needs to keep things running efficiently.  (Indeed, Citizen Oversight is not part of the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity with the other law enforcement/security instrumentalities; it’s under the Ministry of the Empire, instead, which mostly handles civic infrastructure functions and includes the Protectorate of Balance, Externality, and the Commons.)

They do, however, have non-sophont AI monitors watching the raw feed which will drop a line to the Watch Constabulary if they see a need for police or paramedics, or to the Emergency Management Authority, or to the people responsible for doing maintenance on public property, and so on and so forth.

Subverted doubly inasmuch as this is by no means a private government grid; under the Transparency Act – and because it helps to pay for it – it’s available for use by any member of the public who wants it, from advertisers, journalists, sousveillants and bloggers to the old lady down the street, with the commensurate uses they find for it in play.

It is to be noted that this isn’t supposed to be dystopian, nor would the notion that it might be even occur to anyone there – despite the fact that I, for one, wouldn’t trust any Earth government with even a fraction of this kind of panopticon.  In a culture that is both vastly more freewheeling than ours in most ways (and strongly maintains the notion in etiquette of not interfering in that which is not your proper concern) and which supports a much smaller and less intrusive government… well, the locals like the notion that ambulances will be dispatched to accidents before they’re done happening, that the police will always be called as soon as possible, that problems are reported instantly, that all the advertising they see is relevant to their interests, etc.


The smell was a warning, hot, organic and yeasty like fresh-baked bread, with an underlying tang of metal, blowing across my chemosensors as I crashed into the apartment; the characteristic effusions of an active nanosystem.  It was a useful warning, since this amateur nanohacker had ignored the procotols and the caution-warning channel was silent but for the emergency-in-progress tags I and building management had posted manually.

But it was also a redundant warning.  The bloom was already macroscopic, gaping gaps showing in the ceiling and wall paneling where nanites had harvested them for materials.  I punched through the hole-riddled remnant of the wall that separated the atrium from the apartment’s main room, spraying around me with abandon the chemical nanobinder semi-affectionately known as ‘phlegm’, and brought myself up short.  The center of the floor had collapsed into the utility space, and the remnants of a chair and a table that had probably once contained lab equipment had now mostly deliquesced into the domed pseudopuddle below.  All that remained of the chair’s occupant were the hard-to-digest fragments of a carbon-reinforced skeleton, still gleaming with the rainbow colors of machine-phase nano.  This was clearly the center of the outbreak.

A vector stack was still pinging from one side of the puddle, though, so I selected a justheart from my panniers and lofted it as close as I could to the stack’s location.  It shattered on impact, the liquid nitrogen pouring out already boiling and freezing the puddle medium.  Good.  Citizen Idiot should be back in time to to face the foot-high stack of lawsuits this venture had already bought him.

Spraying more phlegm, targeted now to coat and seal off the pseudopuddle, I moved in to sample and contain…

Trope-a-Day: Powered Armor

Powered Armor: In multiple kinds.  Regular legionary armor (also used by the Watch Constabulary, and indeed similar suits without the militarization are used in the civilian construction and other hazardous-environment industries) provides only moderate power-assist, but does come with kinetic barriers, self-contained environmental support/NNBC protection, medical and tactical computer support, and limited vector-control flight ability.  (Although those limited assists do still let you wuxia it up with the best of them… only with overpowered guns.)

The full combat exoskeleton of a heavy legionary is a walking tank with interchangeable heavy weapon packs that turns it Up To Eleven, letting its wearer punch out small buildings, throw respectably-sized vehicles, dance a merry jig amid venting fusion plasma, and toss around nuclear grenades at close range.  (And yes, they have civilian versions, too.  They’re used for things like cleaning up melted-down reactor cores from the inside, while they’re still hot.)

Both of them include substantial mesh-networked combat drone control capability.

Trope-a-Day: Cultured Warrior

Cultured Warrior: A very important aspect of training and institutional culture, not just for the Imperial Military Service, but for the entire sentinel darëssef, which includes the police, emergency services, paramedics, etc.  The argument runs, essentially, that it has dangerous and unpleasant side effects to have people running around trained to fight who know nothing else but fighting, be it fighting wars, fighting crime, fighting disease, or fighting entropy, and are thus disconnected from the finer things in life and the gentler, civilized virtues.

Thus, in addition to everything else, sentinel training (including even the seriously harsh kind used by the Imperial Legions) works hard to cultivate a taste for high culture and an appreciation for the finer things in life as a contrast to and counterpart for the gritty side of life.  In action, the institutions of the darëssef, from the IMS, the ISS, the Watch Constabulary, etc., on down have traditions to encourage this, including specific cultural leave in which their membership is encouraged to immerse themselves in this side of life on the institutional dime, in the interest of keeping them collectively healthy, functional, and complete.

Even many mercenary outfits do this, on the grounds that a sane mercenary is a more profitable mercenary.

For This, I Joined The Orbit Guard?

From the logs of the CS Proximate Valiance, assigned to the Mírlan system:

At Courtly falling 17 standard, CS Proximate Valiance, having recently departed the refueling facilities of the gas giant Cálmíeré, received a distress call from the vicinity of Chanith, the 87th moon of the said gas giant.  This distress call, while itself incoherent, carried a valid suit subcarrier stamp for the IS Respondent Avaricious, a private yacht registered with the Mírlan Starport Authority.  Upon establishing that it possessed the greatest reserve Δv of the available ships in the vicinity of the moon, CS Proximate Valiance vectored to intercept and provide assistance.

Upon arrival in the vicinity of Chanith some 3.5 hours later, no extravehicular personnel were located, and transmission of the distress call had ceased.  However, the IS Respondent Avaricious was located, making thrust away from Chanith on an approximate minimum delta transfer vector for Woven Night Station, a corporate/residential drift-habitat registered to Anja Microtechnics, ICC.  Upon being hailed, IS Respondent Avaricious denied being in present distress, but complied with instructions to heave to and be boarded.

On further investigation, the crew of the Respondent (enumeration appended) proved to be students apprenticing at Microtechnics, who had leased the Respondent for an impromptu low-gravity skiing expedition to Chanith, making use of a convenient slope, slipspray application, and solid-fuel thruster packs in order to pull off the “round-the-world jump”.  One member of the group, Citizen Philas Seleyev-ith-Selvia, it appears, had spiked his suit water supply with some home-made distillates of rather dubious composition, and as a consequence of the resulting inebriation had attempted to make the jump using two thruster packs.  The resulting excess thrust, despite a late attempt to dump one of the thruster packs during his jump, led to him inadvertently exceeding Chanith escape velocity when he bounced off the ground at the bottom of the slope and drifting off into space in a deadman’s tumble.  It was during this drift that the incoherent distress call picked up by the Proximate Valiance was transmitted, although he was thereafter recovered by the rest of his party in their own ship.

Citations (enumeration appended) have been issued for misuse of the distress frequency, failure to properly terminate a distress situation, leaving the scene of a distress situation under power, gross incompetence in command of a space vessel, and littering (the Respondent failed to collect the discarded thruster pack).

A routine medical check was performed on Citizen Seleyev-ith-Selvia.  Having been picked up by the Respondent before his suit oxygen was exhausted, it would appear that he has suffered no additional brain damage or other injury from the incident.