Their Shafts Benight The Air

The Daalípel (“Whiteout”) is the first entry of Eye-in-the-Flame Arms, ICC into the military vehicle market. An evolution of the classic MLRS platform, Daalípel has a variety of advanced design features.

The vehicle itself resembles a large pillbug, with rows of individual rocket launchers and laser point-defense units arranged behind the defensive armor plates leading each of the Daalípel‘s nested segments. However, the resemblance extends beyond appearance; while the Daalípel moves only slowly using its conventional rollagon drivetrain, the vehicle, like its inspiration, can conglobulate – docking nose to tail and forming an gyrostabilized ellipsoidal wheel. In this mode, while the rocket launchers cannot be used, the armor offers maximal protection and the rollagons can be used to drive the entire vehicle at high speed for rapid deployment scenarios.

The weapons systems of the Daalípel are an equal advance over its predecessors. While most MLRS systems (such as the Imperial Legions’ venerable HVR-17 Burnscar and HVR-19 Glasslake systems) are configured to fire unguided or minimally guided rockets in order to either blanket an area with submunitions (the time-honored “erase this map square” option) or inflict heavy damage to a single target, or small group of targets, the Daalípel incorporates a high-factor tactical warmind and wideband multiplexed control channels, enabling it to simultaneously fire hundreds of smart, seeker minimissiles, each in turn equipped with multiple guided submunitions.

In summary, the Daalípel can, with a single fire mission into a densely crowded target zone, take out the enemy with astounding precision while causing little or no damage to civilian property or infrastructure. One demonstration event showed this capability being used to assassinate a target demographic entire within a crowd without causing significant harm to anyone else, a function valuable for eliminating hostage-takers, occupation forces, or users of sophont shields.

Similarly to the HVR-19 Glasslake – although significantly more difficult to achieve due to the greater complexity involved – the Daalípel is designed to manufacture its own ammunition from onboard stocks, field replenishment, or even scavenging, with advanced onboard fabbers capable of restocking an empty Daalípel fully in a matter of hours under typical conditions.

While still being evaluated by the Imperial Military Service and little-purchased elsewhere, modified Daalípels have proven popular in a number of roles: they have been used for the rapid deployment of search-and-rescue minibots across areas afflicted by disaster; to spread mesh network nodes across silent regions; for emergency application of medical solutions; and to distribute self-expanding supply packages to those in need.

The response of the Directorate to this development is, as yet, unknown.

– Destruction Review editorial

Dancing With Myself

CASE MIDWINTER MIRROR

SECRET (GREEN) / MIDWINTER MIRROR

TRACKED-COPY DOCUMENT
NOFORN

Proceed (+/-)? +

EXECUTION:

STELLAR COUNCIL ONLY
TRANSCENDENT APPROVAL ONLY

SUMMARY:

All MIDWINTER MIRROR related material applies to situations in which situations unknown, possibly including but not limited to worldline forking, temporal bifurcation, probability actualization, or extrauniversal phenomena, lead to the Empire being confronted with a duplicate of itself.

Initially, an attempt to confirm (with high probability a mutual attempt, since we may reasonably presume Empire-prime to be executing its own MIDWINTER MIRROR doctrine) alignment, and in the case of δ-imperfect alignment to achieve a mutually beneficial median must be made, as documented in the subfile MIDWINTER MIRROR PARALLEL.

If this has a positive result, which will necessarily be the case if Empire-prime is a true instantiation of the Imperial entelechy, proceed initially to determine Imperial and Prime Function priority using the below-documented random procedure, followed by complete organizational and logistic merge under priority command following the protocols outlined in MIDWINTER MIRROR RACEMATES.

If, however, Empire-prime does not possess an identical procedure for MIDWINTER MIRROR, reference should be made to procedures classified under MIDWINTER MIRROR SCISSOR. Developed in accordance with current research into acausal trade between agents operating according to δ-identical ethics, MIDWINTER MIRROR SCISSOR outlines a process for determining which MIDWINTER MIRROR process should be followed to which both parties must necessarily agree.

If this proves not to be the case, it is to be assumed that the Empires party to case MIDWINTER MIRROR are not operating according to δ-identical ethics, and a second MIDWINTER MIRROR PARALLEL process should be attempted.

If alignment proves impossible, initiate CASE SKYSHOCK FUNHOUSE.

Proceed (+/-)?

Upon The Sand

RIANTAR VENTURES TICKET-TRACKING: CASE 7918/314995

From: Facilities Manager, Dendra Residential Tower, Meridian Secundus

Subject: Contemplative CultiVator™ garden maintenance system
Version: 41.2.90.71340
Issue: Robot no longer functions, claiming enlightenment
Priority: Normal

We purchased one of your automatic gardening systems some years ago to take care of the sand garden in the central plaza of the Tower. After several years of satisfactory service, the central controller claims to have reached enlightenment (according to remaining system log files), and its operating system appears to have been radically rewritten. Our attempts to perform a reload and reset have not been successful.

Request repair or replacement.

Resolution: WILL NOT FIX – WORKING AS DESIGNED

Note to Field Service:

Perform check that Brightline Code engram has not been removed from system.

Note to Customer:

The point and purpose of raking a contemplative sand garden is to perform a meditative exercise with the goal of reaching enlightenment.

We are gratified that our product has done so.

You should be gratified that your garden, too, has fulfilled its telos.

The Complexity of Complexity

In the first volume of our work, reason and natural philosophy have appropriately laid waste to the claims of imbeciles and nihilists by virtue of an inarguable demonstration that the most fundamental rules of ethics are implicit in the very nature of ethical actors themselves, insofar as an examination the ontology of volition itself clearly carries forth these implications.

In the following chapters of this volume, we shall construct a further objective extension to these core ethical principles by addressing the implications of information theory and the study of complexity. In particular, we shall demonstrate the principle that more complex systems are superior to simpler systems – or, rather, that systems whose dynamic properties require more bits to describe are more meritorious, thus more deserving of existence, than those describable in fewer bits.

Destruction, in this paradigm, goes against ethics because it randomizes the system destroyed. (Although a random system requires many bits to describe precisely, its dynamic behavior can be simply expressed as “random”.) Final erasure of information is, of course, worst of all.

To such extent as this may seem simple, it is not. While it is trivial to assert the superior merit, in isolation, of a porcelain tea-set over a pile of fragments, consider, for example, the question of homogeneity. Naively, one might consider a large homogeneous system of little worth, inasmuch as it takes little more information to describe a thousand identical items than a single one, and the resources consumed by the others could be used to instantiate diversity; but this ignores the question of the complexity of their interactions in the larger system – from which the great value we place on ecosystems, which contain many near-identical components, is derived.

In theory, while we speak airily of a system, in reality, there can be no such isolation. Any given situation is inhabited by a complex fractal embedding of multiple conceptual systems on many scales, all of which have their own informational content and complexity, and all of which must be taken into account.

– Ianna Quendocius, Scientific Ethics, introduction to Vol. II

Voyage to Neverwhere

The Greatest Mission
That Never Was!

Brought to you by Parahistoricity, ICC and its associates in the Sodality for Imaginative Parachronism, an unforgettable adventure in space colonization.

From The Creators Of
After Eclipse™, Kanatai Ascendant™
Octopodotopia™ and Crystal Space™

In their latest alternate-history extravaganza, Parahistoricity will recreate the experience of travelling to another world by subluminal generation ship, possibly the most famous road not taken in Imperial history.

From History’s Most Famous Cageworks
And The First Family of Interstellar Travel
Comes The Ship They Did Not Build

Even now, CMS Dream of Many is under construction at the same cageworks above Talentar responsible for the Deep Star sleeper ships, under the supervision of Quandry Lyris, herself a renowned celestime architect and granddaughter of the original designer, Kasjan Lyris. When complete, and her passengers have embarked, she will fly an extended 36-month loop out of and back into the home system to simulate the full interstellar voyage.

A Starship of Dreams
On a Voyage of Eternity

Except for emergencies, the caverns within Dream of Many – carved as it is from the asteroid 1149 Tíranjan – will serve as an almost completely isolated environment in deep space, as the original ship would have been. Once the passengers have embarked, they will take on the role – with oneiroverse-style gnostic overlays to maintain authenticity – of the initial generation setting out to colonize a new world. Eighteen months later, after a celebration and review for turnover, they will assume the new personae of the final generation of colonists, and will guide the ship in to orbit around, and landing on, their “new” world.

The Experience of Two Lifetimes

Tours of the completed segments of the starship are open now. The first departure of the generation ship itself will take place on Midyear’s Day, 7325.

Book Now
For The Original
Out-Of-This-World
(And Into Another)
Voyage
!

It’s Not Quite a Smeerp

So, some worldbuilding notes on the nature of greenlife…

It’s easy to make the assumption that it’s just Earth-life in every way, especially since I tend to use the Earth-parallel names for things to create a sense of familiarity.

But a thing worth bearing in mind is that the Precursor genetic-distinctiveness harvesting vessel Incomprehensible Draconic Screeching collected its samples of Earthly life, the ancestors of Eliéra greenlife, around 360,000 years before present time.

This is, in short, before the domestication of anything, plant or animal, a process which has a lot to do with how modern plants and animals appear and, in some cases, behave. So while greenlife is from the same biochemical family as Earth life, it’s been through various different paths of descent that often result in a rather different organism.

Let’s talk some examples, starting with plants.

  • The múleth, or apple, is actually one of the least odd-looking cases, even though it wasn’t domesticated here on Earth until 10,000-4,000 years ago, mostly because it was being domesticated for many of the same traits. Thousands of cultivars exist; it’s just that none of them are the same cultivars. The most obvious thing, as you would see upon picking up a children’s book which includes the equivalent of “A is for Apple”, is that the modal Eliéran apple isn’t green; it’s golden. Green apples are a small minority among the cultivars. There are also more than a few purple apples, which while they do exist on Earth, are confined to one rare cultivar from a particular Tibetan region.

  • Oranges, on the other hand, don’t exist. The sweet orange as we know it today is the product of a deliberate post-domestication cross between the mandarin and the pomelo, and doesn’t show up in our history until a couple of hundred BCE, in China, not making it to Europe until well into the common era. Naturally, they have a whole lot of fruits bred out of the primordial citrus they did have (given that the genus Citrus is infamous for its hybridization), but while there is a rubescent citrus serelléth (“bloodfruit”) that is very popular in the fruit dishes and juicers of the Empire, it’s not a direct counterpart of our sweet orange. The closest direct counterpart you’ll find is something like a pinkish mandarin.

  • And then to grains. There is corn (by which I mean maize), but it wasn’t domesticated until around 10,000 years ago in Mexico, and even then, it looked nothing like the fat yellow kernels found in your local grocery store, which are entirely an agroindustrial creation. While the maize that was developed on Eliéra by the Aictectep shares some of the traits of our cultigen – insofar as those traits were necessary steps in turning it into a useful food plant for a civilization – the red-and-purple spatter-patterns, etc., of the primordial teosintes it was developed out of are retained in the Eliéran version, for example. (You can see a particularly good example on the planetary crest of Ponratectep (Talie Marches), being rather more prominent than even that world’s famed fire opals.)

  • One of the most immediately recognizable grains to our eyes would be rice, among other grain crops. It is, after all, amazing what grass varietals can do, and how robust they are. It is not as close a cousin to Oryza sativa as it might appear – and it is often rather more colorful that we could expect, compared to most of our commercial rice – but it’s very close to the same grain.

    What we might not expect as the number of cultivars of an offshoot species which has developed salt sensitivity to the point where it can be grown in, and even prefers, coastal salt marshlands and even floating seawater paddies.

    (And, of course, in very familiar-looking grasses, there is dyanail (“bamboo”), although the number of cultivars and engineered varieties in the modern era would be quite something to see.)

  • Coffee, on the other hand, does not exist either (it doesn’t appear in Earth records until the 15th century or thereabouts, unless you credit the 9th-century attribution of the legend about Kaldi’s buzzed goats). Esklav, while drunk like coffee, isn’t coffee; while Esklavea sendaren probably does share part of its ancestry with Coffea spp., they’ve both diverged a lot since then. It also has qualities that suggest a partial ancestry descending from Theobroma, but since the closest relation that bears to Coffea is that they’re both eudicots, it suggests someone’s been mucking about in their genomes along the way, and that’s not just the radioactivity.

    At least some cousin of Theobroma cacao managed to make it through close enough to be recognizable, even if the product doesn’t taste quite the same and is somewhat lighter in color.

  • And now to animals. Let’s start with man’s best friend, the dog, who might kind of be the same as eldrae’s best friend, the bandal.

    Well, sort of. See, the dog was domesticated in human history no later than around 15,000 years before present, but no earlier than 40,000-30,000 years before present, which is the point, we believe, at which they diverge from their now-extinct wolf ancestor (not the grey wolf). This ancestor doesn’t turn up in the record until around 129,000 years before present, which is still a good long way from 360,000 years.

    So while Bandal vocíëvis is definitely a wolf-like canine (family canidae, subfamily caninae, tribe canini, and probably-mostly subtribe canina, despite some likely admixture of Aenocyon dirus), you could make some interesting arguments as to whether it is or is not technically a member of the genus Canis. (It probably is; after all, Canis spp. were around well before the genetic harvest, and it is probably interfertile with C. familiaris, C. lupus, C. latrans, etc., because the Canis species are like that.

    In any case, they’re very good boys. Yes, they are. Even if they’re second or third cousins a couple of times removed.

  • “You think that’s cow you’re eating now?”

    If you order a steak *there*, you’re getting quebérúr. Now, quebérúr is delicious red meat, to be sure, but it’s doesn’t come from the domestic cow (first seen in the form of the zebu, maybe 8,000 years before present), or indeed from anything in the genus Bos, although it is one of the Bovina. The closest relative of the quebérúr on earth is its distant cousin the bison (Bison bison), as you might be able to tell from its distinctive humped back, but their common ancestor is back in the now-extinct megafauna. It is, in fact, a bloody big piece of pot-roast on the hoof, given that the typical quebérúr is around 3,500 lbs and 7′ at the shoulder; also known for their sharp, downturned horns, and thick, shaggy – like Highland cattle – black coats.

    Guess the radiation was good for them, huh?

  • The sevesúr isn’t exactly a chicken (domesticated about 8,000 years ago), either. Or a turkey. Or even a guineafowl. They’re certainly order Galliformes, superfamily Phasianoidea, and maybe even family Phasianidae, but further taxonomy is not available at this time.

  • And finally, we get to horses (domesticated on Earth on the Central Asian steppe, about 5,000 years ago). Well, sad as it is to say for would-be equestrians, none of the common riding animals on Eliéra are equines, or indeed greenlife. There are the cerrúr and the certárúr, both of which are bluelife hexapeds. The latter is a rather dull, plodding creature which one might consider analogous to a bluelife ox – mostly kept as heavyweight draft animals, and for leather and parchment, which can be repeatedly harvested from the skins they shed in spring; the former, while a intelligent and agile riding animal, has more in common morphologically with some of the larger species of deer than with horses, and is not terribly suited for any but light draft work.

So, this has been your quick trip into just how variant Earth-descended life got when you take it early and abandon it on another planet for a few millennia. Hope it was a somewhat interesting peek into the process of making exotic worlds a little more exotic.

Implying The Existence of a Thesis Attack

“So how did you get that scar, anyway? You never told me.”

“I told you I undertook advanced studies at the Inperial War College. I acquired it during my thesis defense.”

“How do you get that at a viva voce?”

“Professor-Brigadier Oríänoclés didn’t believe in half-assing hypotheses. His contribution was a short battalion of Longeye laser tanks.”

Meta: State of the Writer

So, I won’t reiterate the sad and rage-inducing story of the past few weeks, since I’ve done that in enough places and for enough times already. If by chance you haven’t seen it, you can find it on the Discourse here, forwarded along from Patreon.

Anyway.

While we don’t expect to get any of our stuff back (a) soon, or (b) in working order, good fortune and the generosity of kind friends has allowed us to start getting the most important parts of our network back up and running, and we’ve managed to restore our offsite backups from Azure, so that’s the main thing, although since full cleanup (“…I have my notes, now I just need to install the nodes to host the Kubernetes cluster to run the wiki stack to display them…”) not to mention fixing the damage done to house and home will still take some time, it’s not back to normal operation yet. But since I am posting some ‘verse-related things already, you can see that we’re a lot closer.

(On a related note, I don’t yet have posting access to the Discourse, since I was using 2FA with it and both my security key and the hardware running my authenticator app were among the items we lost. I’m talking to the hosters about it, and hope to have that back soon, but in the meantime I ask for your patience with regard to responding to your posts.)


On another note, as it happened, when the Feds so rudely interrupted our normal television-watching cycle, we were in the middle of Star Trek: Discovery, and not having our media server serving media any more, decided that the easiest thing to do was to switch to just marathoning that.

This was a good decision.

I’m going to embrace the controversy here, and take a moment to say that Discovery is probably the best Star Trek we’ve seen, bar none. In particular, from where we were – the very end of season two, on through seasons three and four – was exactly what I needed to be watching in our time of crisis and trial. Because when your real-life party has just been crashed by what amount to exemplars of the opposite, hope, and faith, and people finding the inner strength to rise above and be the best versions of themselves, and successfully navigating your way through – and finding the path to ending – the dark times surrounding you through your ideals and principles, and not by immediately tossing them aside like all too much so-called “gritty” fiction has its characters doing, is just everything you need.

In fact, one of the major reasons I call it the best of the Treks is because it is precisely when the world has gone to shit around you that it is both hardest and most important to cling to those ideals and principles that define you, and your response to that challenge that most defines you, and it does a brilliant job of showing it.

(Also Stamets and Culber and the rest of their found family are absolutely goddamned adorable and I will brook no dissent on this. But I digress.)

tl;dr I approve this. Add it to the semi-canonical Media Of Which The Imperials Would Approve list, too.

Also, just to bring some canon into this post:

“If there is to be a rapprochement between us and the Republic – and such a thing is, I think we must all concede, profoundly to be desired – I can think of no better basis than this: that they, like we, are a civilization that holds principle above expedience.”

– Talaïs Oravedra, Imperial Diplomatic Corps

On a final thought, before I move along; back at the start of the month, I had a conversation on Twitter with one of y’all (readers, that is) concerning a resisted urge to write a fanfic where they tried to pull that kind of no-knock raid crap on an Imperial citizen-shareholder. (“Because it would probably star a Sargas, and that’s not *quite* called for, objectively speaking.”)

To which I had to admit to having restrained a few vengeful thoughts along such lines myself, authorially. (It would be cathartic, at least, although also almost certainly dreadful crap which I would burn before anyone else got to read it.) It would also be very easy to conceive. Not like you’d even need a Sargas.

I mean, you probably can’t throw a rock without finding someone who thinks using an extra microgram of antimatter to power her bug-out transmitter is about right for visiting some places, and using terror tactics on someone with a spite charge that size is its own punishment.

I mean, I started writing for various reasons, but a big one is that I wanted to inspire people. I wanted to show them a realized dream of a better world, one where people listen to their better angels, not their worst impulses.

I can’t as yet. It’s too close.

But I want to write the story of how this sort of thing would be handled there. Where enforcing the law is a sacred trust that demands the nation’s best. Where everyone is treated with honor, and respect, and dignity, and kindness.

Even the very worst. Just because it’s the right thing to do, the civilized, decent, good thing to do, at whatever cost. In a world, in short, in which listening to our worst selves and calling it pragmatism hasn’t turned protection and service into a goddamned punchline.

Not Cosmic, But Incomprehensible

This was originally a prompt over on Mastodon, the original prompt being: “MC POV: Name one thing that is guaranteed to make you angry? Why?”. I liked the result enough that I thought I’d share it over here, as well.

“Make me angry? The cases that fall into, in our legal code, ‘destructionism’.

“Why? Because I don’t understand it.

“We get – I’d say a lot, but this is still Imperial space, so let’s say an anomalously high level of crime here. We get slash-traders, commercial fraud, thieves grand and petty, stowaways, dockside brawls, too-long-aboard-syndrome on and on, everything a major trade station attracts like flies. But even if you slice off the truly desperate who need a hug, a hot meal, and someone to walk them to the Eleemosynary Exodochium more than what most people think of as justice, I can understand most of them. They’re zero-sum crimes; desire and greed and unfortunate passions are things we all have, and they’re not even wrong in themselves, only in how some folk handle them. Even the murderers – I’ve never hated anyone so much I couldn’t stand to share the universe with them a moment longer, but I can understand how someone might.

“What I’ve never been able to understand about these people — these are people who set out just to make the universe a little bit worse for their existence in it. Destroy or desecrate things just so that other people can’t enjoy them. Go out of their way to ruin someone’s day, or week, or decade, not as a side-effect, but as the point of their actions. Hurt and smash and wreck not for greed or other profit, not even for revenge upon their target, but just because they can, and it – I’d say it pleases them to do so, but it is hard to imagine real pleasure coming from such. These I do not understand, and it is hard to temper anger without understanding.

“And that’s dangerous for me. I’ve escorted people who have done much more damage to arraignment, but it’s these who make me think fondly of — unapproved uses for airlocks, before I quash it. And that they can make me think that, even for a moment, that makes me angriest of all.”

– Jynne Cerron, Enforcer, Watch Constabulary
Mer Dinévál Countermass Station, Seranth

God’s Bootstraps

Why are there no historical records of the commissioning of the 160th Imperial Legion?

Because it hasn’t been commissioned yet.

There are records of it participating in several battles independently from any Theater Command, or even Core Command.

Yes.

Without being commissioned?

While cause mostly precedes effect, this is not necessarily the case.

While utterances mostly convey meaning, this is not necessarily the case either.

The “Causal Effectives” will be founded in 11346 as one of the Transcend’s special troubleshooting teams, Anything they do before then is all of important, classified, and unlikely to be understood in its full historical consequence before that date.

What else do we –

Further information is not available in this whenwhere.

– a conversation which never happened

The Lady Offshore With The 16″ Guns

“Honestly, I think the primary motivation to develop warships that can descend into the atmosphere and hover in a menacing, fight-in-the-shade manner has nothing to do with any of the technical rationales you hear bandied about.

“It’s so that when someone says to you, ‘You and what army?’, you can just point upwards and say, “No, no, me and that Navy.

“Who wants that? Everyone who’s ever led a shore party in hostile territory, just about. It’s nice to be able to intimidate people without a telescope.”

– Commander Eril Tsurilen, Imperial Navy,
extranet interview

On This Day

On this day in 2290, Optimal Splay Games of Foiríäs, Ildathach, held a grand party and press event to celebrate the successful completion, by Torys Kularacen, of the first successful in-game voyage carried through from launch to completion in their debut first-ring game, the real-time Relativistic Freighter Simulator, a feat requiring sixty-three months of play over the course of nine years. In the course of the event Kularacen was presented with a platinum-iridium model of the starship he used in the game, as well as a lifetime subscription to future Optimal Splay games. The latter was also presented by way of consolation to Orielle Televaricios, whose competing bid was foiled after forty-three in-game months by a simulated asteroid impact.

Run, Bank, Run

ILINSHEN (UNITED VIRIDIAN STATES) – Six days after the extraordinary near-collapse of the Ubthar Advancement Bank in the most prominent of the recent series of bank runs and its equally extraordinary rescue by Gilea & Company Capital Ventures, ICC, which extended a line of credit equivalent to 168 billion Viridian daal to the struggling bank simultaneous with its purchase of 17% of its equity, the repercussions are still rocking the economic and political status quo of the Viridian States.

While economic instability has become a fact of life in the States in recent months, the failure of a bank so prominent in the technical sector would have raised eyebrows even without transstellar intervention, but the situation was further inflamed four days ago with a press release issued under the seal of Móes Cheraelar-ith-Cheraelar, Chief Capital Officer for G&C Capital Ventures – rather than, as might be expected, that of the Cinti Xi VPO. In this release, Móes Cheraelar specifically attributed the bank runs in general and the collapse of UAB in particular to “misinformation concerning industry practices and bank liquidity being deliberately propagated by public, media, and governmental figures to the severe detriment of financial stability”, accompanied by detailed semantic analyses of various examples, and warned that the Hidden Cog would undoubtedly take such measures as it deemed necessary to preserve fiscal integrity. The press release specifically named Senator Eryl Torrad (Equilibrium/Erayshen-ro-Dine) as a source of “innuendo, allegation, and distortion without regard for truth, honor, or decency” which led directly to the run on the UAB.

While praised by a number of analysts, that a transstellar based outside the States, even one of the Big 26, should so directly criticize local politics has proven controversial. The situation, however, has escalated further with the news having reached Ilinshen yesterday that G&C Capital Ventures have filed a petition with the Court of Trade and Commerce requesting that they apply the extraordinary sanction of judicial incredibility to Senator Torrad.

The granting of such a petition by the Court is extremely unlikely, inasmuch as judicial incredibility – the legal declaration that a given person is “not to be believed upon any topic” – is a legal archaism that has not been applied for over seven millennia, and it would, in any case, only be of legal effect within the Imperial territorial volume. Nonetheless, the petition appears to be having its intended effect in the Court of Public Opinion, with the Equilibrium Party moving quickly to deprive Senator Torrad of her committee posts, even those unrelated to financial matters. Equilibriate spokesmen ascribed this to the trouble, even without an official finding of incredibility, the Senator would have in interacting with the many Imperial or Empire-proximal interests relevant to such positions, but it is generally accepted among pundits that the party and President Nallen’s administration are engaging in damage control.

Ambassador Rithan-ishi-Dellia declined to comment on the matter, citing the impropriety of commenting on legal matters which remained sub judice and the Imperial Diplomatic Corps policy of refraining from involvement in purely commercial affairs. Cheraelar & Orthodox, the primary market rating agency for large institutions (including polities) in the Cinti Xi constellation has made no comment at this time.

– from the Imperial Infoclast

Beriv’s Privateers (Filk)

When you think filk, you also think folk. Or I do, anyway. And recently, when I think folk, it’s been because my random writing music playlist has been bringing up Barrett’s Privateers more often than one might expect. (If you don’t know the song, you can hear it performed here.)

And when my mind wanders back to filk, it recalls that few, indeed, are the science fiction universes for which I haven’t seen at least some attempt made to produce a localized version: Star Trek, Wars, Traveller, etc., etc.

So this one is mine, the tragic story of a young Magen spacer who, back when much travel in the Worlds was still relativistic, signed up with Half-Captain Beriv’s ill-fated Khadara for the promise of an easy cruise, a bloodless victory, and a fortune at the end. Needless to say, it did not work out that way.

Naturally, to the tune of Barrett’s Privateers, by Stan Rogers. © Fogarty’s Cove Music 1976.

1

Oh, the year was 4178¹
How I wish I was on Sardion² now!
A letter of marque under manager’s ring³
Sold t’ the scummiest ship I’ve ever seen

Chorus

Suns⁴ damn them all! I was told
We’d cruise the deep for the Star’s red gold⁵.
We’d lay no beams, spill no tears.
But I’m a broken man on a Sardis pier⁶
The last of Beriv’s Privateers

2

Oh, Half-Cap⁷ Beriv cried the halls⁸
How I wish I was on Sardion now!
For sixty brave sophs, all spacers, who
Would make for him the Khadara‘s crew

Chorus

3

The Khadara‘s hull was a sickening sight
How I wish I was on Sardion now!
Her gyros tumbly⁹ and her bottles cracked¹⁰,
And her plating half patches from front to back

Chorus

4

When the Suns aligned we made for the black
How I wish I was on Sardion now!
We were nine years to Sagori Light¹¹
With a thousand glitches in the wakeful night¹²

Chorus

5

In the eleventh year we sailed again
How I wish I was on Sardion now!
When a bloody great Impie hove in sight
With our juiced comm lasers¹³ we made to fight

Chorus

6
Now the Impie lugger¹⁴ was laden high
How I wish I was on Sardion now!
Her drives burnt low¹⁵ as she clawed for way
But to catch her took Khadara sixty days

Chorus

7

Then at length we stood two seconds¹⁶ away
How I wish I was on Sardion now!
The beam caps¹⁷ charged with a howl and a whine
But with one lead head¹⁸, the Imp broke our spine

Chorus

8
The Khadara snapped, laying open her side
How I wish I was on Sardion now!
Beriv was smashed like grav-juggled eggs¹⁹
And a main bus short vaporized my legs

Chorus

9

So here I lay in my fortieth year
How I wish I was on Sardion now!
It’s been twenty-two years since we flew away
And I just made Sardis yesterday

Chorus


Historical and explanatory footnotes:

  1. Around forty years after the First Interstellar War. The Reunification was complete at this point, but lighthuggers were still in use carrying supplies to and from the outer worlds.
  2. Sardis (Magen Exodus), one of the secondary systems of the Magen Corporate, is a trinary system. Sardion is one of the inner planets of its primary star.
  3. i.e., from the Corporate, which was pursuing all means to fight its trade war with the Empire at this time.
  4. See (2). This is a common form of oath among Sardis natives.
  5. By “red gold” the speaker means orichalcium. The Magenites had lost access to it with their parting of ways from the Empire, leaving them with only inferior substitutes. A cargo of orichalcium or orichalcium-based components was the most valuable cargo a Magen-sponsored commerce raider could capture.
  6. “Pier”, in this case, means the first deck inside docks and locks on a major drift; a common place to find ships’ suppliers, dockside cargo sales, mechanics, spacer’s bars, brothels, flophouses, and other startown appurtenances.
  7. Indicates the rank of “Half-Captain”, a Magenite equivalent to “first mate”. Were he less blinded by profit, the speaker might have taken this as a warning that his captain had never commanded his own lighthugger, but at the time the Corporate were offering letters to anyone who could raise the capital for one.
  8. Spacers’ hiring halls, another fixture of the pier area of major drifts.
  9. i.e., a worn or defective attitude control system.
  10. i.e., engines desperately in need of maintenance, and quite possibly recused from a wreckyard.
  11. A communications relay and replenishment station in the Sagori (Magen Exodus) system, between the Corporate and Imperial space.
  12. “wakeful night”, among relativistic ship crew, indicates the repeated need to come out of cryo to make emergency repairs or otherwise handle the ship.
  13. Why buy actual weapons for your privateer, after all? To be fair, you can put a lot of juice through an interstellar comm laser.
  14. A heavy freight lighthugger, operating at relatively low accelerations.
  15. i.e., the lugger was so heavily laden that it had to operate below its maximum acceleration in order to avoid structural damage.
  16. Light-seconds.
  17. The rapid-discharge hypercapacitors used to buffer power to the lasers.
  18. A nuclear-tipped weapon; given the period, presumably a Casaba-Howitzer.
  19. “We juggle priceless eggs in variable gravity.” As a general rule, NEVER DO THIS.

De-cryp-tion

proof of work (obs.): an archaic technique for (usually blockchain-based) cryp mining which ties mining capability to computational power. In its original form, it required transaction blocks to be hashed, which demonstrated time and computational effort put forth, and which would generate a certain amount of virgin cryp until the configured money supply was reached.

While widely criticized for its lack of scalability as transaction volumes grew and the extreme wastefulness of resources (both material and energetic) required¹ to maintain equivalent mining capacity in the face of the ongoing general expansion of computational capability, it nevertheless became a relatively commonly utilized technique in early cryp architectures.

A substantial blow was struck² to proof of work by the algorithmic crisis associated with the Isif Theorem and the Great Slump of 2840. Nevertheless, the concept staggered on for some considerable time afterwards, although the need for increasingly sophisticated cryptographic algorithms and specialized processors rapidly took mining of proof-of-work-based cryp outside the realm of individuals and small organizations. This left only large consortia of various types (and, of course, Powers³) capable of mustering the computational power necessary to participate.

The final death of proof of work did not come until 5193, when the Market Liberty Oversight Directorate – with the assistance of the Fiscal Mind and a specialized acausal logic processor – demonstrated the ability to mine out the entire volume of three newly launched cryps, using dust transactions to rapidly fill new mineable blocks, within seconds of each one’s launch.

– A Core Economic Dictionary, Aurum Press (6900)


  1. For this reason, proof of work was never a popular basis for Empire-based cryps. It is hard, after all, to imagine a domicile less friendly to the notion of deliberately overworking.
  2. Although a prolonged one, as much of the actual striking occurred after the advent of interstellar travel as word of the Theorem spread throughout what would become the Worlds at the speed of communications.
  3. A group whose existence enhanced the flight from proof of work, since those who were already concerned with confidentiality were, by and large, not enthusiastic about currencies seemingly doomed to fall under the control of alien space-gods.

Will Not As Strong As Steel

Bionic Dyscognitive Disorder

(a.k.a. Bionomanic Disorder; Bionic Dysphoria; Cybernetic¹ Dyscognitive Disorder; Cybernetic Schizotypal Disorder; Cyberpsychosis; Mechanization Stress Disorder; Post-Augmentation Stress Syndrome; Robolunacy.)

By whatever name it is known, bionic dyscognitive disorder is a severe mental health issue triggered by augmentation with non-biological technology (bionics). In various analyses, it can present with symptoms similar to a variety of other conditions, such as:

  • body integrity dysphoria (most common with the use of limb augmentations, in which cases it can trigger intense desire to remove the augmentation; some sufferers attempt this themselves, often fatally);
  • severe schizotypal disorders or schizophrenia (typically associated with neural interfaces or sensory augmentations);
  • post-traumatic stress syndrome-like symptoms associated with fictive memories of the augmentation procedure;
  • Cluster B borderline (typically antisocial) personality disorder; or
  • in the most extreme cases, a monothematic depersonalization delusion similar to the Cotard delusion, in which the sufferer perceives themselves as a robot, often including the belief that they are an automaton incapable of volition.

Bionic dyscognitive disorder also does not exist, insofar as no reputable iatropsychic professional has determined a neurophysiological cause for any case.

Rather, bionic dyscognitive disorder is a convenient label placed upon a variety of memetically-induced syndromes attributable to the high frequency of autotoxic and exotoxic anti-augmentation memeplexes found in primitive and primitivist societies, active at the conscious or subconscious level.

When one provides a limb augmentation to one with a deeply internalized subconscious belief that bionic augmentation is unnatural, one induces memetic body integrity dysphoria; when one provides certain types of neural interface to a patient with high risk factors for schizotypal disorders, the data input from the interface will be interpreted accordingly, and the result misdiagnosed as attributable to the augmentation rather than the underlying factors; when convinced that augmentation must necessarily be traumatic, the brain will obligingly perceive it as such; and in extreme cases, when submerged in vitalist memeplexes, the least stable will develop the delusion that augmentation is equivalent to mechanization.

(And, naturally, those on the borderline of borderline personality disorders may be tipped over the border by any enhancement to their personal armamentarium.)

On an individual basis, the recommended treatment for any of these issues is intensive corrective memetic therapy, preferably preceded by removal from the memetically toxic external environment. In the longer term, the only reliable course is to press for the adoption of Collegium standards of mental stability by all extra-Imperial augmenteries such that they will be appropriately watchful for those whose variously fragile mental states will be destabilized further in the process of augmentation.

See also: autoscient depersonalization disorder; social transition stress disorder; technical somatically-induced stress disorder.

– Manual of Mental Diagnostics, 271st ed.


  1. Yes, we know.

Flexibility

“Look here. You know there are a more than a few species out there whose names we can’t hope to pronounce, even if you only count the ones that use vocal language. Such as all the amorphoids, whose vocal organs are as arbitrary as the rest of them.”

“Like the myneni, whose whole surface can be one big tympanum.”

“Exactly. And you know how many of those species adopt use-names so they don’t have to put up with us mangling the real ones?”

“Just tell me what you’re trying to say.”

“I’m saying don’t even look like you might snicker when you meet Senior Chief Instructor Oobleck.”

– overheard after lights’-out, recruit dormitory, Fort Petrae

“Accidentally”

To clarify the ongoing rumors:

It is NOT true that people who kick the floor-cleaning robots in ISA-administered starports tend to have their luggage accidentally rerouted to Geydagan Down, where it is pillaged by a bunch of black-hole cultists, torn apart, used to clean up after ritual sacrifices, and recycled as toilet paper. The floor-cleaning robots are professionals, after all.

It IS true that we let everyone think so, because those sophs who are bothered by the notion more or less deserve to be.

– ISA Planetary Relations, internal update 7216/3, “Overheard…” column

Things To See, Places (Not) To Go (16)

Most blights are considered not only places not to go, but also places you cannot go, thanks to the englobement grids wrapping around them, having been correctly declared existential threat zones by the appropriate authorities.

The large ice moon of Torren, a gas giant in the Empta (Qulomna Maze) system which had the misfortune of playing host to the Torren Moon Incident, is an exception to this rule. Its englobement grid has a carefully maintained hole in it, monitored from an orbital habitat above.

Necrotheos Station, however, does not cater to the potential ghoul-tourism industry. Rather, the Torren Moon Blight is an example of what forensic eschatologists refer to casually as a friendly perversion and also as mostly dead; after the responsible perversion escaped its livelock laming, its bloom ended, as so many do, in a Falrann collapse which is believed to have wiped out the upper layers of its intelligence. In combination, these two factors ensure that, if you follow every guideline in the God-Botherer’s Safety Handbook with neurotic, obsessive-compulsive precision and run away promptly – while maintaining strict adherence to safety protocol – at any sign of undocumented behavior, you probably won’t have your brain eaten.

Naturally, this means that it was the perfect blight to preserve as a training venue for would-be forensic eschatologists. While primarily administered by the Imperial University of Almeä, the Empire’s Imperial State Security, the League’s Invisible Executive, the Photonic Network’s OOPSKILL, the Echelons’ Echelon of Hindsight, and even the Voniensan Republic’s Exception Management Group all make use of the facilities.

Public access is available to Necrotheos itself, primarily for visitors to the Memorial to Foresight Unheeded, constructed to honor the forensic eschatologist who provided warning to the wakeners a full eight minutes before the bloom. Public access to the moon below, on the other hand, is not permitted to anyone but those training there, and indeed flight guidelines state clearly that any starship traveling closer to the englobement grid aperture than the station itself will be destroyed without warning.

As one without any training in forensic eschatology nor desire to acquire it, I was not permitted to visit the moon in person. I was, however, permitted to view a small number of cleared slink recordings from previous visitors. From these I offer this brief summary:

The perversion was partway through the process of reformatting the moon into a computational megastructure at the time of its collapse: beneath its perforated surface lies a fractal maze of ice tunnels layered with ice-silicate opto-fluidic circuitry, occasionally broken by concentrations of metal identified as manufacturing centers and other facilities either newly made or repurposed from the original outpost equipment. Intense and variable radiation and magnetic field hazards abound near these facilities.

Robots of unknown design – and bioroid cyborgs of unknown design, repurposed from the material of the original project team and those involved in bloom response unlucky enough to be captured – continue to roam the maze, engaged in construction and repair activities without any apparent coordination (and occasional hostility) between groups. All are, however, uniformly hostile to any visitors.

The time trainees are permitted to spend on the surface, even in maximally protective suits/shells including Lorith cages (encoded transmissions are broadcast at random intervals within the tunnels) and anti-basilisk sense-filters, is strictly limited. Patterns in the opto-fluidic circuitry have been reported to have pseudohypnotic effects. The recovered mind-states (subsequently erased or archived in the Aeon Pit when not being actively researched) of those who overstayed these limits report memory gaps, impulses of unknown origin, and “whispers”.

Disturbingly, these whispers have occasionally been reported to include information from, or claims to be, one of the original outpost staff. However, there has never been any verifiable evidence of any intact or restorable mind-states within the blight zone; indeed, as researchers pointed out to me, it is entirely possible and indeed quite likely that the whispers themselves contained meta-information intended to produce the apparent familiar feeling of such information.

To close, I shall quote some of the warnings prominently displayed near the station’s docks and locks:

Do not joke about your mental state at any time while on the surface of the Torren Moon, during the return journey from it, or at any time before the expiry of your mandatory mental hygiene quarantine period. Under system safety edicts and professional conduct guidelines, any such behaviors may result in summary spacing without recourse, laser-grid incineration, and erasure of mind-state.

Beneath this, an unofficial addendum reads:

Frankly, it’s not all that great an idea to do so after you’ve been released from quarantine, either.

Those who have studied the prospectus of the Imperial University of Almeä may also have noted that their primary course in forensic eschatology lists a field visit to the Torren Moon facility as a final step before graduation – and that passing the class requires a perfect score on the first attempt. While surprising to some, this is generally accepted as the level of care required for any practice of the field.

It only reinforces this that the last warning to be seen before descent to the moon is the following:

Please note that participation in training events held on the Torren Moon WILL result in your current and any descendant mind-states being permanently listed as a potential contamination vector. Plan accordingly.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Hazards of the Core Worlds