Surprise

PALAXIAS (IMPERIAL CORE) – In the weeks following the suicidal asymmetrist attack on the Numeropolis Drift mathematics research station in the Athra (Ringstars) System – which punctured the habitat hull causing thirty-seven temporary deaths and the permanent deaths of two visiting fellows from the Sseydri Gerontocracy – denials of responsibility have continued to pour in from rogue groups and even a few polities across the Associated Worlds.

These denials have garnered little attention from either the Ministry of State and Outlands or the Admiralty. However, action has been taken on the matter, as a cruiser task group of the Sixth Capital Flotilla, assigned to respond, set sail today from Prime Base, Palaxias. When asked if any details would be made available at this time, the commander of task group GRUMPY TIERCEL, Vice Admiral Nimil Sargas, stated “I’m afraid that our destination and mission orders must remain confidential for the moment. We wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.”

 

Revelations

GLASSY DRIFT, ONDRAMEIR (BANNERS) – Responding to condemnations from the government of the United Viridian States and the Worlds United on Matters of Scientific Concern regarding their publication to the open extranet of nearly one petabyte of confidential scientific data originating within the States’ Secretariat for Military Affairs, the Council for the Promotion of Scientific Irresponsibility today issued a statement reading, in its entirety, as follows:

“Oops.”

On being pressed for further comment on the leak itself, Grand Provocateur Iroth Paluna said, “I cannot possibly comment on anything which – while we obviously encourage similar activities, and consider it very well done – no-one to whose local instance I have posed the question has any current knowledge of.”

The Grand Provocateur refrained from giving any further details of her inquiry.

 

Cuisine

“The only well-known foodstuff to come out of the Hope Hegemony is a salty but otherwise tasteless algal nutrient sludge grown in massive, floating offshore farms.

“That citizens of the Hegemony at home universally praise the efficiency and nutritive value of this sludge – while former citizens of the Hegemony abroad tend to rapidly double their mass from eating literally every other available foodstuff to excess – is a one-act summation, dissection, and condemnation of Hegemonic cultural values.

“And a warning that you, if you are unlucky enough to have business there, should always be the one to buy lunch.”

– Vhúfkarr Rúägh, Around the Worlds in Dodeciad Dinners

 

Integrity

TURECH (CYAN STARFIRES) – Panic, uncertainty, and rioting gripped the capital of the Ossoric Nomarchy today after the announcement from the Extranet Security department of Bright Shadow, ICC, that it intended to revoke the certificate authority status of, and thereby all user and device certificates issued by, the Ossoric Data Vizjery. This action comes in response to the reports, issued five hours ago, that the Data Vizjery had retained private-key information for the certificates it issued for monitoring and “national security” purposes.

Rosith 0xEED4221A, Chief Security Officer at Bright Shadow, stated “We regret the necessity of this action, but we have a duty to consider the integrity of the overall extranet security infrastructure. An ISOP certificate is a promise of security, issued over our word. By violating their contractual obligations as a certificate authority, the Data Vizjery has broken that promise to all their customers and those who interacted with them across the extranet – and so has broken our word. And no-one can be permitted to do that without consequence.”

In response to further questioning, ve added that the absolute guarantees expected of a certificate authority were long-standing corporate policy and spelled out explicitly in the CA contract, and further cited the 58th century case of the Isliar Primacy as evidence that the Vizjery could not avoid being aware of the nature of their actions and the consequences of their revelation.

A subsequent announcement from Bright Shadow informing those domiciled in the Nomarchy that the constellation CA would be permitting individual user and device recertification at cost-of-supply, as a temporary emergency measure, and advising the Nomarchy not to interfere with residents seeking such certificates, did little to stem the uncertainty following this decision. Ossoric indices fell an average of 12,432 points on local markets before trading was suspended.

Healthy Exercise

“It’s absolutely true that among certain rock-rat tribes in the outer regions, getting blind drunk and running stark naked through hard vacuum in honor of their culture-hero is a prominent local sport, wager, and test of endurance.

“Of course, it’s also true that isolation-madness, poorly-tuned life support neural syndrome, and taking all the drugs when stationside are the most prominent local medical conditions…”

Portal-class Mobile Highport

“Expecting guests with nowhere for them to park? Embarrassing when you’re a host. Expensive when you’re a business. Excruciating when you’re a planet.

“Fortunately, as long as you’ve got a scrap of bare rock to set a shuttle down upon, we have the answer. Hire one of our Portal-class mobile highports today, offering luxurious docking, interface, transshipment, space-traffic control and chandlery services, and see your problem solved… instantly1!

“1. Transit time constraints notwithstanding. Extra fees may apply for emerging markets or regions currently engaged in conflict or piracy.”

– from an Ellore Modular Industries, ICC, interactive advertisement

The Portal-class mobile highport is exactly what its name implies: a complete orbital starport, custom-designed to operate efficiently in conjunction with only very limited downport facilities (or even nothing but airports available), designed to be movable between planets and systems as demand requires.

The Portal is built on a conventional frame: a cylindrical hull with rounded ends, sporting a pair of counter-rotating gravity wheels near its midsection. As can be expected from an Ellore product, it is largely modular: its permanent features are limited to the gravity wheels (containing parks, hydroponics, and living quarters), an axial utility core containing engineering and command elements, a large toroidal fuel tank assembly wrapped around the core, and small craft docking facilities at each end of the cylinder, one dedicated to interface vehicles and the other to orbital traffic. Working squadrons of Nelyn-class cutters, Lowari-class shuttles and Maw-class fuel skimmers accompany the highport.

The remainder of its volume is devoted to the modular segments, six of which connect in each section, terminating at the transpod shafts running along the outside of the fuel tank assembly. Various different combinations of modules, along with appropriate operating crew, can be installed as part of the lease to meet individual customer requirements: cageworks, cargo storage space, chandleries, internal berthing volume, large-vessel docking arms, passenger services – including concessions, hotels, lounges, and other amenities – and even defensive systems.

The Portal itself has no integral drive systems; it relies on an accompanying Hane-class superlifter (whose docking clamps surround the interface vehicle bay) for propulsion.

Ellore maintains a small fleet of Portals for lease, chiefly by worlds expecting a short-term increase in traffic (whether one-off, or regular, but insufficient to justify maintaining a largely idle permanent port) due to social events, harvest times or other seasonal traffic bursts, new discoveries susceptible to exploitation, disaster relief (for which the Imperial Emergency Management Authority and a number of eleemosynary organizations keep Portals on retainer), nth-wave colonization, and so forth. A few are also kept under contract to the Imperial Exploratory Service, which may be offered on long-term lease to particularly promising newly contacted worlds likely to generate substantial interstellar traffic over relatively short periods of time.

Eponym

chrune (n.): A type of galactic politician named after Sen Melk Chrune (6012-6319), the League of Meridian Senate’s unsurpassed master of peculation and bribery. Often accused but never indicted despite the sheer flagrancy of his behavior, Chrune died in office1 at the age of 307.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary


1. And in his office. Malicious gossip – which is naturally widely believed despite the lack of substantiation – holds that he suffocated when his life-support equipment was damaged during a campaign orgy.