Invisible Ledger

While in later chapters we will discuss the theory and practice of such formal techniques of social manipulation as the trafidúr an-enlét (blue gift), it is appropriate at this time to offer a cautionary word on the foundation beneath it.

As a civilized people, we esteem the virtues of liberality and generosity. Selecting an appropriate gift to reflect both the appreciated qualities of the recipient and the nature of its giver blended into harmony is a high art; and it moves the heart both to receive such a gift and to give it.

However, even outside the Great Game or other arenas for deliberate social manipulation, one must – when offered gifts many in number, or a gift great in magnitude, be wary – not of the giver, but of one’s own spirit. One and all, we are bound to mélith, and although by all law and custom an appreciation-gift creates no debt, will we, nil we, the spirit keeps its own accounting.

While to account gifts by the esteyn would ill befit a gentlesoph, you may nonetheless find it needful to decline a gift with all due courtesy rather than permitting yourself to bear the weight of such a heart’s-debt, lest it tarnish the relationship that gave rise to it.

– “On Appreciation, and the Tokens Thereof”,
Madame Allatrian’s Guide to Exquisitely Correct Etiquette

Eight Hells (2/4?)

This is Task Force Fourteen, as it steams at a leisurely twenty-two knots steadily east along the rocky southern shore of Míhayll Island, the southernmost in its archipelago. It had passed the entrance to the Míhayll Shallows yesterday at dusk, the shoal offering a back door to Lothell Bay for those with sufficiently shallow drafts, but not even a destroyer would attempt that passage. TF14 had sighted a few fishermen among the shoals, but if they had been sighted in return – a virtual certainty – it would not matter. Their targets had no option but to break out of the bay, which short of charging directly into the teeth of TG Northern, meant transiting the Adessír Straits; if the fishermen reported their passage to the Alliance command, it would make little difference.

The interception, if it happened – the course and speed of TF14 had been selected to intercept the Alliance ships at the mouth of the Straits, if they were indeed attempting a dawn transit – would be a close-quarters knife-fight. The sharp mountain spine running down Míhayll’s length was an effective barrier to both gunfire and radar, and so they would not know of its success until they were almost upon the enemy.

Meanwhile, the wind blew steadily against them, as it had all night. Vicious gusts out of the north-west carried storm clouds down out of Lothell, bringing with them lines of squalls, flat and heavy rain, and a steady swell that was imparting to the ships of TF14 a miserable corkscrewing motion. The only virtue to be found in the weather – and the worse storms further north – was that it would keep Alliance air cover grounded, and make it virtually impossible for Antinomos to fly off or recover aircraft. Or such was the Admiralty’s contention, although the empty skies above them were some confirmation.

The fast battleship Skybreaker, Vice-Admiral Ardelli’s flagship, trails the midpoint of the center line of the formation, following the wake of Invincible, her elder sister, their silhouettes obscured against the storm by the entangling shapes of their dazzle paintwork. Fast battleship is an unconventional designation for the Imperial Navy, but one earned by their unusual construction; rather than heavy naval steel, their citadel armor was wrought from spinmetal, a composite material harvested from deposits left behind by feral silverlife. Absurdly light and strong – albeit in short supply, uncastable, and extremely difficult to work – the spinmetal citadels of the Invincible-class battleships left them vulnerable to only the heaviest fire, while allowing them to outrun most cruisers with ease.

(A framed letter, presented to the ship by the naval architect behind the project, hung in the captain’s day cabin of Invincible; a purloined copy of a reprimand addressed to a junior Alliance intelligence analyst informing them in no uncertain terms that no-one, not even an Empire recently come into possession of the deposits of the Ossirvel Distributary, would expend the wealth necessary to use such a rare and costly material as warship armor.)

Ahead and behind them as they proceeded in line ahead, their escorting cruisers Seabreeze and Waterspout; refits of the older Tempest-class, now fat with air defenses, but still mounting a respectable main armament of a half-dozen 6″ guns.

And around them, the destroyers. Eight of them, all of the Ulricik Bancrach-class, the Hungry Wolves: Gray. Grinning. Pouncing. Leaping. Ravening. Swift. Unseen. Grizzled.

Almost hidden as they crashed through the swell, water sloshing over their bows – while relatively new, the wetness of the class in heavy weather was well-known – the destroyers flanked the main line four and four to port and starboard, the first pair preceding the others and the last trailing. Most visible was Ravening Wolf, on Skybreaker‘s port bow, flying the white pennant of Commodore Chiomé, commander of the destroyer screen.

The voice of a loudspeaker making a long-expected call cut through the quiet of Skybreaker‘s bridge.

“Radar-bridge. Radar-bridge. Contacts, repeat contacts, appearing through ground clutter, bearing oh-eight-four.”

“Signal to all ships: clear for action. Hoist the battle ensign.”

The Vigilant

The Watch Constabulary, on the whole, does not think of itself as a police force.

But that’s not a problem, because no-one else thinks of them as one either.

While their watchmen, constables, and inspectors are trained for situations in which the application of force may be necessary, these are not their business¹, and nor is this the primary thrust of their training. Indeed, these skills are almost never, if ever, used; the bread and butter of the constabulary day consists of giving directions, rescuing kittens from trees, reporting issues local maintenance might have missed, returning lost children and dogs, offering a listening ear and a helping hand, arbitrating minor neighborhood disputes, and aiding the aged and infirm on such rare occasions as they can find any. Notable, too, is the incorporation of the Disaster Instant Response teams, the Quenchers, and Gaëlenén’s Scalpel into the Watch Constabulary’s structure as specialists, and the extensive cross-training of all constabulary personnel in the basics of disaster response and paramedicine.

To some extent, this nature is both cause and consequence of the Empire’s implausibly² low crime rate. For the greater part, however, it is merely a matter of ideology. While a society built around the principles of consent and obligation may occasionally find it both necessary and ethically permissible to make use of responsive force – or even preemptive responsive force – it would be nothing short of reprehensible and indeed outright counterproductive to embody this necessity in those charged to preserve the public safety and harmony.

– Ten Thousand Parts in Approximate Formation: The Empire from Outside

  1. As previously mentioned, the Empire elects to separate the traditional police functions of patrol, investigation (see Office of Investigation and Pursuit) and force-application in exceptional circumstances (which, on the rare occasions it is required, is the province of the local military garrison), insofar as the skills and traits required for each function are highly divergent and rarely overlap.
  2. Statistical information on this was rejected by the Conclave Commission on Uniform Security on several occasions, until the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity invited the Commission to observe their operations up close. Current thinking, depending on the inclinations of the observer, attributes it to a combination of radical freedom, radical abundance, liberal use of meme rehab, and a steadfast commitment – contra the majority of polities – to deporting all their incorrigibles.

Iterating the Eschaton

From the introduction to Godwatcher’s Journal, Spring 8072 edition:

The cold red deserts of Meridia IV, Imperial reserve world, are no more.

Now there is only the Transcend’s latest experimental station: the Meridia IV Center for the Advancement of Ecological Amiability.

It is, or should be, no surprise to those who trace the consequences of Transcendent imperatives that such a thing should come to exist. It may, however, surprise those unfamiliar with the scale of divine works that the chosen means of fulfilling such imperatives would remake a world from core to sky.

Under the direction of the Symbiarch, axis submind and exarch of Sylithandríël, the forges and cathedral manufactories of Qerach have brought into being an array of interlocking linear arcologies, godwalls which, delivered by superlifter and skycrane, now divide the surface of Meridia IV, mountain, plain, and ocean, into twenty isolated biomes, unique habitats within which the Symbiarch has total control over the atmohydrospheric environment.

Within the godwalls themselves, the vertices of this shining icosahedron, loreworks and laboratories abound, a domain shared between the Symbiarch’s minor exarchs and the Initiatives whose scientists and engineers – called from the teeming worldlets around Eshtaréä and from all across the Empire – labor on their fraction of the task of wisdom’s perspective.

Every world spins in pain.

This is a consequence of that one inescapable truth: the universe is a broken place.

In this place, at this time, the Transcend attempts the repair of that small piece of it that is not only suffering, but the necessity of suffering: that aspect of cosmic entropy that gives rise to parasitism and predation, that compels life to enslave, exploit, and destroy life for its own continuance.

In the experimental biomes of Meridia IV, beginning with ecosystem samples taken from Eliéra, Revallá, Kythera, Víëlle, and Golden Groves, Sylithandríël’s exarch and its Initiatives devise means by which nature as it is may be brought into accord with the Viridian Dream: a world without suffering, unnecessary decay, or untimely death, flourishing in a perpetual harmony of at worst, costless commensalism; at best, joyful mutualism.

Until the day when the worlds from which they were taken, and all worlds, may likewise be perfected.

Thus it shall rebuke all those who look upon the imperfect world and say: it must be so.

Let all your works be wise,
For knowledge is the light of the Flame;
Let all your works be beautiful,
For beauty is its warmth;
Thus is your Heaven built.

– The Word of the Flame, Truths:15

Bottling Up

The Sunstone is just what it appears to be – a star in a bottle.

That is to say, what it appears to be to the normal senses is an almost weightless crystalline sphere, roughly a foot across, shedding light and warmth all around it. A close inspection of the Sunstone, necessarily through darkened lenses, reveals whorls of flame shifting endlessly across its surface in patterns of light and dark spots, broken only by fiery prominences erupting from the surface and falling back once again. In short, a perfect model, one might think, of a sun.

Closer inspection, on the other hand, reveals that the Sunstone is a sun-in-a-bottle in the precise sense that a ship-in-a-bottle is not. Its crystalline surface is free of any of the discontinuities characterizing baryonic matter, because its surface is merely the topological defect bounding the dimensionally transcendent cystal universe within – a vast, encapsulated volume containing a true star as its sole inhabitant. The effects of the mass of the star does not cross this superficies into our parent universe, leaving the Sunstone almost weightless. Nor do the majority of the photons emitted by the star, deflected at right-angles to reality by some arcane means to fuel the mechanics of the axiomantic warp, with the convenient side-effect of making it possible to approach and manipulate the Sunstone with some degree of safety.

What is its purpose? Well, aside from its roles as experiment, proof-of-concept, and asírdaëlíthal for the gentlesophs of the Irreality Vault, I expect the principle role of the Sunstone will be to prove to exoarchaeologists of the future, gentle reader, that we have now equaled the Precursors in our ability to confuse, bemuse, and amuse.

– editorial, issue 394, “Scientific Progress Says What?

Eight Hells (1/4?)

Vice-Admiral Ardelli, TDMS Skybreaker, commanding TF 14. Battleship CAS Antithemis, carrier CAS Antinomos, escorting destroyers, reported moving out Lothell Bay steaming ESE. Suspect attempting transit Adessír Straits tomorrow at local dawn. Heavy weather over Lothell Is. makes it unlikely fly off air cover. All measures intercept and destroy. 1SL, Calmiríë.

Girls In Red Cloaks Beware

(In which I noodle around with wet navy designs from the closest to a WWII-equivalent period in ‘verse history.)

Ulricik Bancrach (“Hungry Wolf”)-class destroyer


  • Ambriel Dock Guild & Company
  • Consolidated Selenarian Shipbuilding
  • Ethring Iron and Steam Works
  • Ryudailai Pier Shipbuilding Cooperatives
  • Telírvess Naval Yards
  • Tortelsvard Naval Arsenal

Displacement: 3,670 long tons (standard)

Length: 127.48 m
Beam: 12.32 m
Draft: 5.65 m


  • 4 x Empire Nucleonics, ICC “Kirchev’s Kettle” nucleonic boilers, driving
    2×2 Blackstone Industries, ICC geared steam turbines (and auxiliary turbogenerator)

Speed: 44 knots
Range: Unlimited (6 year refueling interval)

Complement: 285 officers and men


  • Artifice Armaments, ICC, ASR-6/1 air search radar
  • Artifice Armaments, ICC, SSR-12 surface search radar
  • Hydrodyne Group Mk. 0/2 experimental hydrophones

Armament (Primary):

  • 6 x 6″ Imperial Navy Type Four dual-purpose gun;
    two single turrets (immediately forward of primary superstructure (A);
    immediately aft of secondary superstructure (Y));
    two twin turrets (fore (B) and aft (X) of primary superstructure, deck 01)
  • 18 x 18″ torpedo tubes in three stacked-hex turret mounts
    (bow, forward of A turret;
    in between primary and secondary superstructure;
    stern, aft of Y turret, elevated above depth-charge racks),
    firing 18″ low-signature LS/85 unguided torpedo with 292 kg high explosive warhead
  • 2 x 108 kg depth charge delivery racks (stern)

Armament (Secondary):

  • 3 x quad 36 mm Black Sky anti-air defense guns
    (one forward on primary superstructure, deck 02;
    two aft on secondary superstructure, deck 01, either side of mast/secondary director)
  • 12 x twin 24 mm Black Sky anti-air defense guns
    (two on bridge wings, deck 03;
    two forward on secondary superstructure, deck 01;
    remaining eight on main deck, four per side as space permits)


  • Engineering space (engines and boilers): 0.75″ heavy steel plate
  • Pilothouse: 0.5″ heavy steel plate
  • Gun directors: 0.5″ heavy steel plate
  • Torpedo tube covers: 0.25″ heavy steel plate
  • Elsewhere: None

Designed during the middle years of the Third Oceanic Dominance, the Ulricik Bancrach-class destroyer was the second and most common¹ of the “modern” types of destroyer that would dominate the last great era of wet naval combat, specifically designed for the multiple roles of serving as protective screening forces for battleships and carriers (especially against air attack), of mounting deadly “wolf-pack” torpedo attacks against enemy forces during surface actions, and of addressing the then novel threat of the militarily effective submarine.

(A later ASW variant and refit of the class, as the need became more apparent, would replace the midships torpedo tubes with a pair of depth charge projectors.)

The name of the class comes ultimately from their flush deck construction² (that would later become near-ubiquitous in later designs around the time of the War of the Twelve Tyrants), eliminating all well decks³, reducing the overall height of the superstructure (divided into two, the swept-back forward superstructure accommodating the bridge tower and primary gun director, and a lower, one-deck secondary superstructure to aft surrounding the base of the tripod mast, carrying the radar and wireless antennae and the secondary gun director), and even eliminating the forecastle, which along with her slender dagger profile gave Ulricik Bancrach and her successors a particularly lean, prowling, hungry look relative to their contemporaries. The substantial increase in firepower over the preceding Sar Anpeng-class only added to this reputation.

The removal of the forecastle – although the flared bow was retained – combined with the weight of the forward armament – proved to detract unfortunately from the class’s seaworthiness in heavier weather. While at the time this was considered an acceptable compromise, with then-dominant doctrine calling for heavy salvoes of unguided torpedoes from destroyers squadrons, the advent of the guided torpedo tipped the balance back in favor of quality, and the Ulricik Bancrach-class ships in Imperial service were refitted to remove the forward torpedo mount in exchange for better seakeeping.

Serving through the remainder of the Third Oceanic Dominance and the War of the Twelve Tyrants, and with refits, upgrades, and successor classes based on their design continuing to fill out the squadrons of the IN into and through the Consolidation, the Ulricik Bancrach-class is perhaps the most iconic of all the destroyer classes commissioned by the Empire.

  1. 224 Ulricik Bancrach-class destroyers were commissioned, of which 148 served on the Upperside and 76 on the Underside.
  2. It should be borne in mind that, using nucleonic propulsion as they tended to, Imperial steamship designs near-universally lacked smokestacks.
  3. Meaning here the older usage of decks lower than those fore and aft of them (e.g., between a forecastle and full-width superstructure, or between such a superstructure and a poop deck).


(Note: this is not canon. But every time someone wants to know when the humans are going to turn up and acquire some suitably starring role in the narrative, it gets a little closer to being canon, y’know?

…assuming I do not just go ahead and canonize the notion that in this universe, Pseudoeldrae archaea was literally the only member of The Genus Otherwise Known As Homo and all greenlife originates from the homeworld of Equus amica. I am, after all, one of those temperamental artistes.)


This is a KALPA NIGHTFALL ALERT, profiled as POSSIBLE LOW ENERGY (GWYATH 7-) SOFT CIV-KILL EVENT. Patterned electromagnetic emissions placing system on evaluation schedule ceased at ~-140 years mission inbound time.

Event coordinates are approximately 230 light-orbits from proposed SPICE WAY site TRANSVEIL, star system designated IGS 170-4138294. System primary is G2V-class dwarf, sustaining a system of eight planets, the four outer being gas or ice giants. Of note, the sixth planet in the system maintains an unusually prominent ring system. Of the four lithic worlds in the system, the fourth is a eutalentic-class with potential and the second and third both sialhain-type glass-garden worlds, dry and wet respectively.

Third planet is classified as ANOMALOUS due to rare double-planet formation; unusually high level of hydrocarbons and C/HC/HCO-breakdown products in atmosphere (determined by remote spectrographic analysis); unusually high level of residual radioactivity; ring of metallic debris in planetary orbit; detection of metallic debris/potential structures on airless secondary body. This planet is designated as most probable source of prior patterned electromagnetic emissions.

No attempts to contact the far horizon probe were made. Contact signals were transmitted on all designated frequences to no response. No biosignatures or technosignatures were detected by passive sensing or active scanning.

Recommendation: promote to EYEBALL and CORTÈGE PILLAGER for further study, routine priority. In absence of remnant biosignatures or technosignatures, no further action required. Mission continues.


Purity Of Essence

Among the artifacts first discovered in the lower levels of the Iniscail excavation were the sophotechnological artifacts now known as purity-of-heart switches. These devices resemble the hexagonal touch-plate switch used by the Precursors in several of their sites, but are in actuality complex systems capable of remote neural scanning and analysis.

The term “purity-of-heart switch” was derived from a translation of Precursor glyphs accompanying descriptions of the item found in the area of the Iniscail site identified as “the Instrumentery”. However, as with all translations from the Precursor, this is at best an combination of these linguistic best-fits in uncertain relation.

After a degree of spiritual experimentation, it was determined that a more accurate translation would be “purity of intent” or perhaps “singularity of will”. The purity-of-heart switch is a quantifier of qalasír; a device that detects one’s mental focus upon a single task or topic. Installed in control mirrors and security gates in sensitive areas of Precursor facilities, the purity-of-heart switch served to deny access to these to individuals distracted, or otherwise not adequately focused upon the tasks they were to perform.

Moral perfection, sadly, neither required nor detected.

– Simples of Complexity: Precursor Commonplaces

Friendly Stab

“I noticed the knife the first day we were assigned to work with the Spireguard. It was easy to notice: everyone knows what a hanrian looks like, and there aren’t many who carry around multiple fighting knives. But even among those who did, this one was always set off to the side, away from the others. It’s a very distinctive knife; two opposed blades on the same hilt. One’s got a deep hooked notch near the tip, and serrations along the back of the blade. The other’s a fat spike with a triangular cross-section, and grooves wrapped around it; not along the length of the blade, as fullers would be, but circles wrapping around it.

“But not one ever used in the fight, that I could see, and when we were figuring each other out, asking questions about each others’ kit, and sharing war stories, that one knife never came up.

“So a couple of weeks into the fighting, I asked the question. And that night, I learned that it was called a ‘dignity knife’, and not something considered a matter for polite conversation.

“Eventually, I learned what requisition forms called it, which was ‘BS-11 Biological Security Knife, Block II’. One end is a pithing knife, which – while familiar to us now – was quite the shock to learn about in those days; the other, though? The fat blade was stuffed with incendiary explosive and lenses, those grooves, to focus the force of the blast. Per the manufacturer, that was ‘biotech security’, making sure no corpses were left behind for enemy intelligence to plunder for biotechnological secrets.

“Unofficially? The Legions had a unique interpretation of “no-one gets left behind”. For me, unnerving will always be defined by fighting alongside allies who carried special knives to kill their own wounded, then incinerate the bodies wherever they fell.”

– MSgt. Anvis Ankarian, 14th Drop Shock Echelon,
Memories of the Mnekkej Campaign

Beneath Their Wings

the Empire’s Shadow: the common and collective name for a group of organizations on the interstellar scene in the Associated Worlds, loosely defined as those organizations which are not in and of themselves arms of Imperial policy, but which take immoderate advantage of their chosen work not being illegal by Imperial standards, and the general reluctance of most polities to provoke the friendly neighborhood dragon. (Also known as “the Empress’s skirts”, presumably a metonym for what they are hiding behind.)

Among the most well-known of these are the Agalmic Information Foundation (freedom of information), the Astrapostale (mail delivery… everywhere), Celeritous Exit (snakeheading), the Council for the Promotion of Scientific Irresponsibility (freedom of research), the Eldinimieuthunumis (that fun which is oft called vice), the Freedom’s Seed COG (exporting revolution), the Holy Order of Deoclasts (antimissionaries), the Inevitable Justice Foundation (prosecuting crimes against sophoncy), the Last Gleam Preservers (saving souls), the Means of Defense COG (the right and means to bear arms), Miscegenation Nation (supporting interspecies and other unconventional relationships), the Secret-Keepers (cryptography, cryp, and data havens), the Technic Imperative (access to tools and concepts), the rare filibustering TTGs, and some indeed would argue much of the Starfall Arc Free Merchant Confraternity (smuggling).

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Time Travelers Strictly Crypto





A protocol to verify the identify and whenwhere of purported time-travelers from future dates, claiming to be about Imperial business.


  1. Secure from the purported time-traveler his Oroelle-block verification code and its random reference number, along with the precise time and date at which they retrieved their verification code from the Temporal Routing Vault. If the time-traveler cannot provide these, it is to be assumed that the time-traveler’s identity is false.
  2. Ensure that no verification code presently exists in the Temporal Routing Vault matching the random reference number provided.
  3. Within the quantum security mesh-encapsulated cryptoblock provided by the Temporal Routing Vault, generate a new Oroelle-block continuously mutating code-engine using any ISE-P93 compliant source of genuine noise available to you, attach the random reference number to it, and escrow it therein, coded appropriately for release to the time-traveler’s purported identity and affiliation.
  4. Using the resulting cryptoblock, execute the code-engine’s inverse trapdoor function on the Oroelle-block verification code. If the code was indeed read from the code-engine at the specified time and date, this procedure should recreate the initial seed information provided by the generator and the cryptoblock will indicate its validity. Having done so, the cryptoblock will decline to match any further verification codes. Should validation fail, the cryptoblock will continue to test matches.
  5. If the code seed properly validates, the time traveler is to be considered legitimate. Report their presence to the Slipshank PWG and extend appropriate cooperation at your discretion.

Since the information needed to generate and/or validate the Oroelle-block verification code does not exist until after the code has been presented and is retained in non-observable storage (i.e., storage which self-destructs upon observation without revealing its contents) until the time for its release, assuming indicated security procedures are followed, the OROELLE BLUESHIFT FRATERNAL procedure is considered to offer limited causal proof of a time traveler’s bona fides, with regard to identity and whenwhere of origin.

OROELLE BLUESHIFT FRATERNAL should not be considered proof against Transcendent-equivalent attack.



Special weapons package THRESHER MAELSTROM, or the collapsiter warhead, is a kugelblitz-based delivery system suitable for deployment from a large-bore heavy mass driver. Put simply, the principle of the collapsiter is the activation upon detonation of a spherical array of annihilation-pumped lasers focused on a single point, raising the mass-energy density of that point to such a degree that a black hole is formed, one which rapidly adds the remaining mass of the warhead to itself. The layout and activation of the array is computed to impart considerable angular momentum to the resulting hole.

The destructive effect of the collapsiter warhead comes primarily not from direct interaction, but rather from the shredding effect of the intense tidal forces exerted by the nascent hole upon objects in its vicinity. Conveniently, these are aligned perpendicular to the controllable rotation axis of the hole, making the collapsiter one of the few coplanar weapons systems in the armamentarium, if one discounts the secondary destructive effect of the eventual quantum evaporation of the kugelblitz and the return of the invested energy in the form of an intense particle radiation burst.

Collapsiter warheads, as relatively contained gravitic weapons capable of remote deployment, are also of particular note for their ability to disrupt and destroy via sharp inflection the controlled space-time distortions used in wormhole-based systems and other metric engineering technologies.

High-yield collapsiter warheads are considered Tier II prohibited weapons under the Ley Accords. However, in practice, the largest barrier to wider collapsiter deployment – bearing in mind the Ley Accords prohibition is on use rather than manufacture or deployment – is the outrageously high insurance rate charged by tort carriers for guaranteeing stargate leases for or in any polity known to deploy collapsiter-based weapons systems. As a corporation dependent upon metric engineering technologies and inasmuch as collapsiter warheads are one of the few weapons systems considered good candidates to overcome the vector-lock armoring of the stargates themselves, Ring Dynamics considers collapsiter deployment in or near systems they serve to warrant a highest-risk assessment.

– A Brief Guide to Special Weapons Packages, IN Press

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit


Ledger Embiggening, this is the captain of the armed vessel currently on intercept with you. As you have noticed, we have our weapons locked on you. Your options are these: cut your engines immediately, heave to, and permit us to board and claim whatever passengers and items of cargo we wish… or don’t, and we’ll slag your drive, then take your ship by force and have them anyway. You have until I get tired of waiting to decide. Over.”

“Unknown armed vessel, this is Ledger Embiggening. All our off-site backups are up-to-date and we have enabled our proximity-triggered spite charge, as required by the terms of our charter insurance carrier. I am legally required to advise you not to approach within 10,000 miles of this vessel under any circumstances. Your move. Ledger Embiggening, clear.”


“And that’s how I lost this leg,” the former pirate slurred. “Also one kidney, three-quarters of my liver, both spleens, fifteen feet of assorted intestine, and a not inconsiderable portion of brain tissue.”

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

And next in our review of less conventional starship types, we come to that odd duck, the aerospace cruiser. (And many of these remarks, naturally, also apply to its larger cousin, the aerospace carrier.)

Ever since the early Imperial Navy absorbed the old air forces into its Close Orbit and Atmospheric Command (CLATMOCOM, under the Second Space Lord), these specialized classes and their equally specialist crewers have existed in something of a limbo, engaging in practices often deemed unnatural among decent, right-thinking spacers. Such as, if I may write in hushed tones for a moment, streamlining.

In short, while normally one can rely on a comfortable dichotomy between airships – which stay down in the nice, warm, notably present air – and starships – which avoid atmosphere in the much the same way that a thirsty Leirite avoids water – the aerospace cruiser defies this. While even the interface vehicles that bridge these two realms tend to minimize their time spent in the inconvenient middle, it spends all its operational time in a realm too low for low orbit and too high for upper atmosphere, being beholden to neither.

This requires a large number of rather unsettling compromises. Let’s begin our examination with the fundamental reason why: the entire purpose of an aerospace cruiser is to provide a secure base from which atmospheric combat vehicles can sortie, and in order to let them be competitive ACVs, it is necessary not to weigh them down with large extra drive mechanisms just to enable them to get to and from the mama bird. Thus, said mothership must not operate merely in low orbit, but dipping well into the atmosphere – into the lower mesophere – at typical altitudes for lithic worlds no more than 65 to 80 km (211,000 – 264,000′) above the surface. Such altitudes are already painfully difficult to reach for dedicated air vehicles, but manageable with relatively small auxiliary aerospikes.

And yet, the implications! A non-interface starship at this altitude suffers from high levels of atmospheric drag, enough to rip any normal starship’s – one not designed for atmospheric entry – structure apart, and thus, aerospace cruisers must share the great attention to streamlining and the heavier structure required by interface vehicles, but to an even greater extent, since the aerospace cruiser must not only penetrate the entry interface, but hang in it while launching and receiving aircraft from its vomitories.

(This in turn involves various trade-offs in other starship systems, like radiators, which must be accommodated behind streamlined panels while still functioning effectively; the point-defense laser grid must be tuned to atmospheric frequencies despite the effects on performance – and aerospace cruisers are well within the practical offensive range of ground-based aircraft and anti-aircraft systems; the engines must not choke when run in atmosphere; and so forth.)

The next issue, fortunately, partly cancels out this one. While an aerospace cruiser sustaining (via continuous burn; copious fuel supplies and an oiler or two to restock them are also essentials for space-to-atmo operations) orbit at 72 km would have to deal with an arbitrarily long period of fending off the atmosphere at 8 km/sec, consider that the period of such an orbit is a little under 1.5 hours, meaning that an aerospace cruiser maintaining its “natural” orbital velocity will pass very rapidly over the battlespace and out of air range; and pilots in general, it should be said, are notably unappreciative when their mothership leaves them behind.

To avoid this, aerospace cruisers are required to operate in forced orbits, maintaining station above a particular location. This requires, of course, even more copious supplies of fuel and multiplies the required continuous – and for those not familiar with the concept, continuous here means if the drive ever stops, you fall right out of the sky and die – station-keeping burn considerably, but at least it spares you quite so much brutalization by the atmosphere and makes launching and receiving aircraft practical, not just theoretically possible.

So before we continue and look at specific types, let’s raise a glass to these low-flying, fuel-gulping, plasma-shocking, sky-hanging abominations of nature, and all that sail in them! We don’t look down on you – except literally – but we wouldn’t have your jobs for a Service pension and a nice retirement moon.

– the Big Boys’ Book of Boom

Bottled Sunlight


from Extropa Energy, ICC

Stars as a Service™

Available now throughout the Imperial Core and Fringe, with planned expansions into selected areas of the Worlds, Extropa Energy wishes to announce the availability of its Stars as a Service™ range of remote energy supply options. Using Extropa’s newly established fleet of mobile energy generation stations, each equipped with more than dodecen industrial-grade fusion reactors, Stars as a Service™ is able to deliver a reliable, continuous microwave or laser power beam into a compatible receiver anywhere in the system, both to stations and to beam-operated vehicles. Beamed power can even be transferred to planetside facilities with the lease or purchase of suitable relay satellites.

Power beams can be delivered in capacities ranging from megawatt through gigawatt, terawatt, and exawatt, according to your local requirements. While standard beams are delivered from shared reactor facilities according to a fixed schedule (due to the exigencies of light-lag) and with necessary occlusion windows dictated by the movement of celestial bodies, special extra-cost arrangements can be made, including reserved reactor instances, dynamic control of power delivery via tangle channel, and the lease of relay satellites to eliminate or minimize occlusion blackouts.

Need more energy?

Contact your Extropa Energy Stars as a Service™ representative today!


gravity tremble: The variations in experienced gravity found aboard starships making use of the thrust gravity provided by nuclear pulse drives, or other discontinuous-thrust drives. Essentially, the gravity tremble refers to that portion of the thrust variation not damped out by the thrust transfer framework, leading to a predictable variation in experienced gravity around its nominal value, from the jarring on-off transitions of the earliest undamped concussion drives to the smooth and gentle oscillation (resembling a phugoid cycle) of modern fusion-pulse sail drives.

The term is also used to refer to the distinctive gait seen in long-term pulse-drive starship crewers (or, more accurately, crewers of those starships in which the pulse rate is relatively fast). With experience in maneuvering under trembling gravity, such crewers develop the habit of attuning their stride interval to the tremble frequency, pushing off and up with the drop and descending with the rise, thus gaining the most advantage from the momentarily lighter gravity.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Shielding and Shielding

To begin our discussion of protective technologies, notionally, there are four types of shielding:

  • particle shielding;
  • ray shielding;
  • gravity shielding;
  • irreality shielding.

Particle & Ray Shielding

The most important and most common of these, of course, are the first two: particle shielding and ray shielding. Naturally, both of these are complete misnomers, thanks to wave/particle equivalence, and have an inconvenient degree of overlap, and yet they are the accepted engineering terms.

The technical definition of particle shielding is that it is intended to affect fermions, the particles which chiefly constitute matter, including quarks, the composite particles made up of them, and leptons; while ray shielding is intended to affect gauge bosons, such as the photon, gluon, and the various asthenons.

Thus, in the informal engineering view, particle shielding begins with conventional armor, Whipple shields, laser point-defense grids, and the like, while ray shielding can be considered to include such simple devices as high-reflectivity surfaces, HICAP and other high-Z materials, and even thermal dissipation systems or sheer mass. (Drunkwalking, of course, can be considered both.)

Later developments in particle shielding included a variety of technologies including sacrificial defense drones, semi-ablative fluff, fluid-foam armor, droplet nanoclouds, and gravimetric bubbles, the forerunners of the modern kinetic barriers.

Meanwhile, the story of attempts to advance ray shielding is a complex mess of dismissed technologies, ranging from entirely failed attempts such as FAT NINJA through variations on many others: magnetic plasma bubbles, dazzle nanoclouds, EM blisters, Meng mirrors, wormhole mouth-drones, antithetikon emitters, polariton photon-walls, stasis hyperspheres, claudications, and other metric warps, none of them achieving nearly the same success or general applicability as their particle counterparts.

All of which is to mostly ignore the inevitable overlap between technologies (for example: while often classified as “rays”, kinetic barriers are effective against particle beams; and attempts at producing kinetic barriers strong enough to deflect photons, which after all do have mass, continue – thereby classifying them as ray shielding, too), not to mention such bizarre entries in the field as the uncertainty sheath, singularity-lock armor, the blink displacer, UNMOVED MONAD, and its weaker cousin, the probability unseller.

Gravity Shielding

Intended to protect you from gravity and weapons that function on gravitic principles. Entirely hypothetical, unless you count “get your own equal and opposite gravity”.

Irreality Shielding

Intended to protect you from having the laws of physics you’re using edited out from under you, which also conveniently protects you from hypothetical dangers like extrauniversal invasions that bring their own physics along with them, falling through nilgularities, or outbreaks of primordial chaos within the brane. Currently consists of a single technology, the selective ontology evocation system, programmed with its most boring use, ensuring that everything stays exactly as it is.

– introduction to “Shielding” chapter, Celestime Technology Review

Better Alternative

anti-buckling vents: vents, either permanent or automatically opening (using, for example, rupture disks) in the event of a significant pressure differential across them, installed in non-spacetight bulkheads and deckheads to prevent them from behaving as de facto spacetight compartmentalizations while lacking the structural strength to serve in that role.

After a number of incidents in which decompressions caused by hull punctures and the resulting pressure differentials caused crumples and collapses of non-spacetight bulkheads, severing piping and cable runs passing through or along those bulkheads, anti-buckling vents became a standard component of celestime architecture.

(For this reason, it is important to immediately follow decompression procedures when the alarm sounds, whether or not the source of decompression appears to be in the current compartment.)

– A Space Traveler’s Dictionary

Solvable Problems


REPORT: TORA-42-0896
REPORT DATE: 7322 Yrnaes 11

INCIDENT DATE: 7322 Yrnaes 8
VESSEL CLASS: Tingesek-class ESV/courier
OPERATOR: Private charter
REPORTED BY: Aste min Direthill, commander, Toralish Orbit Guard

REFERENCES: [see attached]

SUBJECT: Fuel Tank Rupture Leading To Interior Dissolution


Shortly after entry into Toralish system, contact was lost with the Tingesek-class ESV, Soreseg Ven. All efforts to regain contact with the vessel failed, and shortly thereafter observations by System Traffic Control showed an abnormal termination of maneuvering burn. The vessel was then declared not under command, and a patrol boat, CSS Captal’s Mercy, was vectored towards its last known position.

Upon reaching and boarding Soreseg Ven, the pressure hull was found open to space, with severe damage to the interior. On examination, virtually all organic or carbon-based material was found to be missing, and severe erosion was found on many metallic surfaces. All eighteen souls aboard were lost without trace.

Subsequently to the investigation, the hulk was ordered towed for disposal to the Kathar wreckyard as a hazard to navigation, awaiting owner clearance for disposal.


Investigation of the spacecraft revealed the following:

  1. The above-mentioned damage to the interior of the pressure hull.
  2. Modifications had been made to expand and, concordantly, relocate the fuel and oxidizer tanks supplying the primary thrust motor.
  3. The primary fuel tank retained its position directly above the primary thrust motor, but had been extended 10% towards the bow.
  4. The primary oxidizer tank had been relocated forward accordingly, and had itself been extended 22% towards the bow. This required the combination of the tank head and the after pressure bulkhead into a single structure.
  5. The surviving fittings of the primary fuel and oxidizer tanks were found to be non-PMA.
  6. The tank heads of both the primary fuel and oxidizer tanks were found to be non-PMA.
  7. Stress fractures were found along the surviving pieces of the oxidizer tank head structure.


Due to the timing of the failure, it is believed that the additional stress placed on the oxidizer tank head by the maneuvering burn initiated by Soreseg Ven after jumping into Toralish caused the stress fractures along the shared structure of the oxidizer tank head and after pressure bulkhead. With the oxidizer tank fully pressurized, immediate structural failure followed, allowing large volumes of the rapidly vaporizing oxidizer to penetrate the pressure hull.

Since the Tingesek-class ESV makes use of a chemical reaction drive powered by pentaborane and high-test hydrogen peroxide, it is believed that the crew and passengers of Soreseg Ven were immediately dissolved during the oxidizer inrush, as were the majority of the vulnerable fittings and other items within the pressure hull, a process which only ended when the rapid changes in internal temperature and pressure caused the pressure hull itself to fracture.


  1. Non-manufacturer upgrades require added operator scrutiny.
  2. Foreign repair procedures require added operator scrutiny.
  3. Celestime architects considering the use of high-test peroxide should consider all other available options.