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

The Naming of Everything

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant;
if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be thought remains unthought;
if what must be thought is not thought, then what must be done remains undone;
if this remains undone, apprehension of truth and beauty will deteriorate;
if apprehension goes astray, the people will act poorly in helpless confusion.

Hence there must be neither arbitrariness or ambiguity in what is said.
This matters above everything.

Aurí Péng, philosopher of Ochale, quoted in the charter of the Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology

Author’s note: This is inspired/based on a quotation from K’ung-fu-tzu, on the Rectification of Names (see The Analects of Confucius, book 13, verse 3, for the original), modified in accordance with the then state of Imperial philosophy. I think it fits quite well.

Fact Checking

From the Truth and Reason/So Or No?/Extranet Claims memeweave:

Claim:

The popular extranet site Caliéne Sargas Facts published the following fact:

In 7240, Admiral Caliéne Sargas of the Imperial Navy was awarded 1.8 billion quidpro in a defamation suit against the Ionazere Tribune. The Tribune had alleged in a 7239 Gradakhmath article that the Admiral had shown mercy during the reduction of asymmetrist bases in the belts of Refugium (Madel Cauldron).

Rating:

True.

Contemporary news articles from Ionazere (Cariane Deep) record the lawsuit and its outcome. Furthermore, even a brief examination of the remains left over from the Battle of Honne Gap, carried out from minimum safe distance, clarifies that the reduction was carried out with the Admiral’s customary efficiency, lethality, and attention to detail. Published tactical records, additionally, clearly show no evidence for survivors and no plausible mechanism for the possibility of survivors.

While Caliéne Sargas Facts is not known, in general, to be a reliable source of factual information, in the case of this particular claim they do appear to be accurate.

Empire Tips: January/February 2023

Ithával excellence tip:

“Pretentious” is the whip wielded by insipid souls against the ambitious. Treat it with appropriate contempt.


Kubé Salvarin legal tip:

He who guards a thing, guarants a thing.


Azuma Morotai family tip:

Devotion does not come from blood, but from the heart.


Olbria Amanyr courtesy tip:

Humility is a shameful admission in the low, and a nauseating affectation in the high. Eschew it.


Gilea Cheraelar lifestyle tip:

The best things in life are expensive. That’s what value means.


Olbria Amanyr pride tip:

Only the inferior must prove their superiority.


Arlannath ethics tip:

Ill means poison all good ends.


Vinaz Oricalcios health tip:

If someone doesn’t want to live forever, find out why they don’t want to live now.


Arlannath lifestyle tip:

You, and only you, are responsible for yourself.


Alwyn Muetry theology tip:

Seek not answers from the gods; ask them only for the right questions.


Arlannath philosophy tip:

Seeking the truth is a simple matter compared to accepting it, once found.


Olbria Amanyr ethics tip:

A gentleman’s promise is a gentleman’s debt.


Imperial surrender tip:

EMBRACE LIBERTY OR YOU WILL BE ERADICATED.


Kynthia Andracanth courtesy tip:

In his own hall, there is every man a sovereign.


Valentia Amanyr ethics tip:

None may perform by another an act which he may not perform himself.


Azuma Morotai social tip:

Fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.


Lord Blackfall plotting tip:

Explain your victory only once it has been achieved.


Isif Alclair preparedness tip:

Train as if you’re in command. You never know when you might be.


Orimúr Falsazik engineering tip:

If a solution’s side-effects make things worse, it never was a solution.


Gilea Cheraelar economics tip:

One should weep to hear the poor rail against greed, for it is as if the starving blamed hunger for their plight.


Azuma Morotai courtesy tip:

When one wolf seeks to challenge a rival, they bow.


Vinaz Oricalcios health tip:

Wounds to the body heal faster than wounds to the spirit.


Gilea Cheraelar economics tip:

That which has no price has no value.


daráv xíjirár; jaqef vigínár

(“A sophont chooses; a servile complies.”)

– traditional wisdom


Elyse Phylarius conflict tip:

We best destroy our enemies when we make them our friends.


Alphas Amanyr ambition tip:

Do not quail, nor turn away, nor shun risk, nor hide behind the mask of cautious counsel, for fortune favors the bold.


Sung Iliastren rationality tip:

You are the slave of the thoughts that you refuse to think.


Overheard From Another Universe courtesy/survival tip:

Don’t go visiting other folks’ intentions. Don’t ever.


Niomé Sargas dating tip:

Mortal peril may make for a fun date, but always let your companion know in advance so they can dress accordingly.

(Shoes that are both fashionable and perilous take time to arrange.)


Irilenne Naratyr fashion tip:

A sharp appearance may cut deeper than the sharpest of swords.


Elyse Phylarius negotiation tip:

She who speaks with anger makes her anger heard, but her words forgotten.


Octíëve Súrnedal documentation tip:

Write it, or you’re going to the special hell.


Marú Liuvis temporal mechanics tip:

Time travel can’t solve any problem that it hasn’t already solved.


Galatia Allatrian conflict tip:

If a situation requires violence, it can only require violence of an appropriate severity.

If it does not, it befits you as a daryteir to remain courteous, kind, gentle, generous, honest, and clement until the killing begins.

Even afterwards, if you can manage it.


Gilea Cheraelar economics tip:

Cultures that develop elaborate philosophies about their lack of need for wealth are compensating for something.

Usually poverty.


Alphas Amanyr greatness tip:

Look upon my Works, ye Mighty, and surpass them!

February’s Randoming

Here as a partial apology for a slow COVID-caused month is a collection of random things of a snippet-like nature I have said over the past couple of months in places other than this blog. Enjoy them, such as they are!


On attempting a rapid “unsafe start” of a fusion torch drive:

The result of most attempts at an unsafe start is melting assorted things in the engine room and/or the containment vessel, and having to pay very large fines and the costs of having a HAZMAT team get your wreck into a safe condition to drag to the wreckyard. It’s sort of like putting a bunch of monkeys in charge of starting up one of our CVNs; they can very easily wreck a very expensive boat, but you’re not going to need to replace Norfolk any time soon.

So, for example, you accidentally screw up by bypassing the proper automatic sequencing and collapse the mag-bottle for the nozzle. The energy that was in the mag-bottle gets fed back into the containment power circuit. Alarms sound, breakers trip – the really big ones that use explosive charges to separate the closers – and a whole bunch of machinery in Drive Power One through Three, including the buffering accumulators, turns into molten slag as there’s a real intense local thunderstorm. The spikes that make it through the breakers, because you’re a civilian ship, cause some random electrical failures and trip the main bus off the line in self-protection.

You, sitting in the maneuvering room, get to watch your console light up and then black out as the corresponding machinery stops existing, the emergency fire procedures dump liquid nitrogen into, then vent, the Drive Power spaces, and the master alarm signal adopts a particularly dramatic tone. Then the lights go out, and you’re left sitting there in the bloody glow of catastrophe from your console and emergency bug-lights.

You have a few seconds to contemplate your poor life choices before the Flight Commander comes down there and introduces your brains to a BIG GODDAMN WRENCH.


“All I’m saying is that pansexuality is a very large claim to make in a universe with as many sophont species as this one.”


“We’re shipping forty million tons of individually-packaged spider-silk personal refreshment wipes twelve-hundred light years?”

“Do you want the detailed answer, or just a comment on the absurdity of the universe?”

“The details, please.”

“It’s hard to keep them wiping their asses with sand when they’re sitting on a fortune in spice.”


For reference, my notes on the Transcend’s position at any given time read as follows:

“[continuing to win its game of full-contact solitaire Calvinball with the universe]

insert ‘all according to keikaku’ meme here.”


When complaining about the “you must be smarter than this stick to ride the Empire” immigration rule:

“We have empirical evidence that those who do not pass these specific tests are dangerous to themselves and others in our environment.”

“Yeah? Show us this evidence!”

passes over data rod full of watchvid

“This… this is the last three seasons of Too Dumb To Live, Too Unlucky To Die!?”

“Empirical. Evidence.”


I’m sorry, but around here we only do consensualist agoric-annealing group-mind transghiblian art-deco ecotopic benevolently-hegemonic technothearchy with elvish characteristics.


“Where the fuck did all these dragons come from!?”

“As per chapter nine of the manual, dragons are a normal side-effect of a kami-based ecopoesis system.”


“She’s a bit of an alkahestic.”

“You mean an alcoholic?”

“Not unless alcoholics like dissolving things more than anyone ever should, no.”


“We do not negotiate with terrorists.”

“And yet you are here talking to us.”

“Did I mention that I am officially classified as an Ambassador of Mass Destruction?”


From an extranet compilation of Calíëne Sargas Facts:

“Calíëne Sargas does NOT possess the Eye of Balor, and as such is unable to vaporize enemy vessels simply by glaring at them. This ability has only been confirmed to affect officers ranked lower than Commander (O-6) or equivalent grade.”


Also, in defined terminology, once naval types produce something larger than a superdreadnought (bearing in mind that a hyperdreadnought is fundamentally based on a superdreadnought hull profile), they are formally typed as BM (“warmoon”) and BP (“dirigible battle planet”).

(The latter is currently a hypothetical category. Should it stop being, or a stage be skipped – well, no-one actually knows what the next type up would be, but it probably won’t be “Death Star”.


And for those curious as to Imperial titles of nobility – more specifically, runér titles – the planetary ones are rather too long a list to get into for the moment, insofar as they’re a tangled mass drawn from a large number of cultures maintaining their own systems welded into a single Table of Ranks.

On the other hand, the interstellar titles are nice and simple, being a creation postdating the Consolidation and thus a simple hierarchy. So, from the bottom up, we have:

  • Ecumenarchs, holders of the Imperial Mandate over a given planet, dwarf planet, or large moon, of constituent world membership class, including its associated local orbital habitats. Captain-governors of relativistic city-ships are also ranked as ecumenarchs.
  • Starkeepers, holders of the Mandate over a given star system, along with all its inhabited planets, other bodies, and drift-habitats.
  • Sectarchs, holders of the Mandate over groups of high-population or otherwise important worlds, requiring more attention than would be practical for the attached constellarch, such as the Galari Trinary. Note that there is no regionality named a “sector”; the title comes directly from the root.
  • Constellarchs, holders of the Mandate over all Imperial worlds within a particular constellation.
  • Great Lords of the Sextants (after the Spice Way Program is placed into effect), holders of the Mandate over all constellations attached to a particular Far Star Station. There are not necessarily six of them; the title is a recreated historical holdover.

Other interstellar runér titles include Marchwarden, a title used for the holder of the mandate for a remote ecumenical colony or Imperial Exclave, not yet suited for full constituent status, but which for whatever reason requires a full runér rather than a Ministry of Colonization-assigned rector; and Castellan, assigned to the attached civilian governance of a military or scientific outpost beyond the borders of the Empire.

Peerless (2)

Far different from Loral Torateir is the second acclaimed as peerless among warriors. Born in a small village in the north of Fúmókorá, the northernmost of the six primary islands of Kanatai, Kadí:ú of House Shótará – or, to give his name in the traditional manner of Kanatai, Shótará Kadí:ú – was a lordling of the House, which at the time of his childhood was a allied family to House Amilá, whose genarch in turn was one of the warlords contending to rule all Kanatai, having already established rule over the northern two-thirds of the island.

In his youth, Shótará Kadí:ú was educated as a gentleman of Kanatai and as befitted an aspirant heir to the Shótará. However, it is recorded that he proved a trial to his father and genarch both with his determination to master the arts of the blade over and above any other skill, and spent much time avoiding his other studies in favor of spending time in training with the ashigaru and shikari of the House, and in sparring with any visiting swordsmen who might have anything to teach him. It was at this time that men first began calling him Kadí:ú the Duelist.

The path of his life was set, however, at a contest held to honor the visit of the House’s Amilá allies. It is recorded in the annals of the House that Kadí:ú returned early and unexpectedly from transacting family business in Kyo Shimana to find the contest beginning, and so competed wearing the dusty ashigaru armor he had worn for the road. It was after defeating all challengers before their eyes and all the worlds’ that the Shótará acknowledged Kadí:ú’s true calling, and that his genarch presented him with the weapon – already an heirloom of House Shótará, although little before recorded – that was to define much of his later career, the Sword That Cuts All Without Distinction.

In the hands of a lesser man, the Sword might have – and did – defined its wielder by the slaughter they could so easily inflict. In those of Shótará Kadí:ú, however, the Sword served a different purpose. While he bore the naked blade of the Sword¹ with him all his days, he made use of it on only a few occasions throughout his life.

For Kadí:ú was a man dedicated to the art of the blade, rather than the thrill of battle. As such, he declined to use the Sword in duel or war, believing that its use made for no true challenge of skill, and while honor-bound to use no lesser blade, he rose to this challenge by becoming the greatest single-blade combatant in the history of Kanatai.

In this way he fought with the smaller blade alone even as his name grew, from Kadí:ú the Duelist to Kadí:ú of the One-Hundred and Forty-Four Duels², and as he was named a general in the service of the Amilá warlord, and as that warlord’s realm spread by his efforts across Fúmókorá, and across Airíshú, and the isles around. Such was his reputation that many of his later battles were resolved by challenges, rather than meleé, and such were his honor and his gentlemanly ways that many of those who surrendered to him in his master’s name found themselves becoming his strongest supporters, and attaching themselves to his legend.

Said legend, alas, was cut short when Kadí:ú crossed paths with a legend to be, Morotai Marála, later acknowledged as the greatest master of the two-sword style. A friendly spar between the two ended in tragedy when a dyanail practice blade shattered during their bout and a long shard struck Kadí:ú in the eye, to fatal effect.

It is a matter of record that after Kadí:ú’s death and without the weight of his name, the Amilá proto-empire collapsed. However, while it took centuries, the line of Shótará Kadí:ú rose in prominence to become the first of those to stand second to the apex in the newly-unified Kanatai Imperial Shogunate.

– Legends of the Time-Before


1. The Sword That Cuts All Without Distinction was, naturally, unamenable to being sheathed. When not being worn or hung from its unique stand, wielders of the Sword would often simply drive the blade into a convenient boulder or even the ground, into which it would promptly sink up to its guard. Despite this, it could be drawn forth as easily as if it merely rested within water.

2. This epithet reflects only the lethal duels of his career; counting the others, Kadí:ú fought several thousand over the course of his life.

Mortal Delights

The latest of the unique experiences to make a splash on the Summerion culinary scene is Mortal Delights (135° Cordané Circle). Owned and operated by a mysterious chef going only by the attributive name, “Shikairá”, Mortal Delights offers the unique opportunity to experience lethal cuisine.

This need not be a terminal experience. Shikairá has taken advantage of the disposable demishell technology pioneered by Synthetic Extras, ICC of Mirrortown to render dying for one’s dinner both safe and economical.

The process begins when you make a reservation, and submit with it a copy of your bio-profile. (This isn’t strictly necessary, but most diners prefer not to have the experience inside a generic blank, especially when dining in company. Mortal Delights then grows one of their custom demishells – designed for enhanced perception of taste, smell, and texture, along with resilience, and a minimally traumatic death experience – to match your profile.

The experience, contrariwise, begins with your arrival at the restaurant. If you arrive by physical travel, temporary storage of your usual body – and equivalent nutrition – is provided courtesy of their on-site body hotel. Alternatively, you can mindcast directly to the restaurant. In either case, you’ll reinstantiate into the demishell and be ushered to your table.

Dining itself always begins with a tasting platter, a collection of samplers of various foods from across the taste spectrum, to allow you to first acclimatize to the demishell’s enhanced senses, and then to cleanse your palate before moving on to the main event.

And what an event it is! While some standbys are always available, Mortal Delights has fortnightly specialty experiences covering many of the Empire’s most dangerous cuisines: live cheese from Tortelys, the entémaerth of Kanatai prepared without the removal of the poison glands, a plethora of fungal dishes, stone-wine tastings, “hot” nuclear gastronomy, reflexively-digestive cultures, and a variety of exocuisines ordinarily considered indigestible. Pick your poison, as they say.

After dinner, you may yourself – should you survive for the moment – transfer your mind-state back to your usual body; if not, this will be taken care of by the staff. Either way, you’ll return home remembering the experience – no pun intended – of a lifetime!

– from Delphys, Planet of Myriad Delights,
(pub. Delphys Resplendent Awareness Circle)

Empire Tips: December 2022

For those who can’t follow @empiretips@social.arkane-systems.net on Mastodon, or who prefer their helpful space elf life advice in larger lumps, here’s this month’s monthly digest post.


Imperial lifestyle tip:

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you’ll be alive.


Saravóné integrity tip:

Even if? Let justice be done especially if the heavens fall. Any heaven built on corruption is no true heaven.


Imperial civics tip:

If you would have a better world, pick up a hammer.


Kanáralath debate tip:

A sword is not an argument.


Cordelia Vintar-ith-Vidutar exploration tip:

When you detect a new civilization, call down and introduce yourself. No-one likes a creeper.


dar-bandal ethics tip:

A pup’s ball is the pup’s; a pup’s teeth are the pack’s.


Istar Sargas resource-management tip:

A dagger in the night is worth sur-dodeciad swords at dawn.


Ianthe Claves technepraxic tip:

The problems of knowledge will not be solved by ignorance.


Bertil Rúädha business tip:

To better compete, cooperate; to better cooperate, compete.


Alphas Amanyr management tip:

Trust your people. If you need to stand over them or bind their hands with rules, you shouldn’t have appointed them in the first place.


Galatia Allatrian social tip:

Courtesy is a man’s obligation; friendship, his gift.


Jynne Cerron safety tip:

Where arms may not be borne, there it is well to bear arms.


Valentia Amanyr lifestyle tip:

To be honored, behave with honor. To be respected, be respectable. To earn credit, pay your debts. This is the thing and the whole of the thing.


Lauré Muetry-ith-Mirari aesthetics tip:

The purpose of art is to uplift, inspire, and enlighten. Never subvert. Only supervert.


Olbria Amanyr character tip:

Noble blood is born from ancestry; noble souls are born from right action.


Fellowship of Natural Philosophy research tip:

Knowledge is its own justification.


Octíëve Súrnedal networking tip:

It’s always the Endpoint Location Protocol. Even when it isn’t. Even when it can’t possibly be. It’s ELP.


Lyris Belacquan transparency tip:

Dark deeds flourish in darkness; what cannot be done in the light ought not be done at all.


Traest Sargas tactical tip:

Treasure an enemy who seeks to die in the service of his cause; for you and he have the same objective.


Olbria Amanyr leadership tip:

If authority must be exerted by force, it is already lost.


Esseldár progress tip:

The old ways are best, except when the new way is better.


Cinníäs lifestyle tip:

No intemperance is greater than lack.


Eight Bloody Sages exploration tip:

Don’t fear the unknown. Make sure the unknown fears you.


Galatia Allatrian Darkest Night tip:

A gift is an appreciation of the recipient’s worth. Appraise your people highly today.


Valentia Amanyr ethics tip:

Where the law fails, honor must make good.


Alphas Amanyr career tip:

Pride is not a weakness. Ambition is not a failing. The stars are yours if you have but the will to grasp them.


Alwyn Muetry theology tip:

A god is a verb; an idea potent enough to reshape the world simply by existing.

Behold the faces of the gods that you refuse to name.


dar-bandal self-defense tip:

Tear at the throat, and be done.


Cordelia Vintar-ith-Vidutar exploration tip:

Death is not the next great adventure, nor is it an undiscovered country. Rather, it is the end to all possibility of adventures and discoveries.

Don’t go in without backup. Or until you’ve made a backup.


Xian Anandonos-ith-Anaxios strategy tip:

The ignorant fight to win; the enlightened win before they fight.


(And if you have forgotten, the quick guide to who all these folks are is found here.)

Going Viral

Memeweave: Threats and Other Dangers/Microbiologics/Other/Open Access
Classification: WHITE (General Access)
Encryption: None
Distribution: Everywhere (Bulk)
As received at: SystemArchiveHub-00 at Víëlle (Imperial Core)
Language: Eldraeic->Universal Syntax
From: 
Interstellar Immunity (Trailing Central Division)

This is a CASE CHYLE declaration for the Hope Nebula, Lisune Pass, and Sullen Wildlands constellations.

Gentlesophs,

To recap, this division dispatched a task group of hospital ships to several worlds in the Hope Nebula, Lisune Pass, and Sullen Wildlands constellations in response to a number of requests for assistance stemming from an epidemic outbreak of a non-specific microbial infection provisionally typed as Xhelageneae paracoccus aminophilus.

Reports received from our senior medical staff aboard IS Bradycardia, flagship of the task group, indicate that the infection shows the distinctive markers of genetic engineering. It is not a registered engineered organism or based on known industrial prototypes. However, it is the product of a relatively advanced biotechnology.

Note that we do not believe that this modified Paracoccus is intended as a bioweapon or ecoweapon; its symptoms are merely those of a mild pneumonic infection (although infection is systemic), accompanied by severe loss of energy.

However, it is notable that the Paracoccus possesses a lengthy strand of purely non-coding genetic information in addition to the functional plasmid, a strand which is notable for undergoing substantial directed mutation (accompanied by high restriction enzyme and ligase activity) in the period between replications. We have concluded that this strand represents the working data for a DNA-based computer; informatic study of this strand’s sequence suggests that it is a digital representation of encrypted data.

While full analysis and simulation studies are yet to be completed, we believe that this anomalous Paracoccus strain represents an attempt to use an epidemic disease as a massively parallel processing system for cryptographic purposes.

It will of course be necessary for the designers of this disease to collect the output data when the underlying process has run its course. Since the processing is stochastic, our current model assumes that it will be necessary for successful bacteria to engage in rapid replication (possibly accompanied by enhanced virulence) and generation of a unique protein marker – possibly an artificial symptom – likely to appear in the medical literature to enable recovery of a sample containing the successful bacterium’s sub-strain. These may in themselves constitute a hazard to private and public health.

As such, we recommend that all medical facilities within the Hope Nebula, Lisune Pass, and Sullen Wildlands constellations contact their Interstellar Immunity representative with details of any unusual symptomology or unique protein markers appearing in patients admitted with X. paracoccus aminophilus infection; and that all the above medical facilities perform security reviews of all staff in a position to obtain, purloin, or analyze fluid or tissue samples from any such patient.

(While this last is not within our ongoing medical remit, we strongly urge all intelligence and security authorities to cooperation in this in the strongest possible terms. We ourselves will be communicating all relevant data current and future to the Biologics TAG, to Imperial ExSec, and to the medical and security attachés of every Conclave delegation.)

Further information will be made available as it is confirmed.

For the Foundation,

Dr. AATAACAGGAGA, DM, ExB, ExMB, FICS.

Filk: Beyond the Stars and Far Away

(ttto: O’er the Hills and Far Away)

The generals ask if we will go
To test our strength against the foe
And make the host barbarian pay
Beyond the stars and far away

Chorus
Beyond the stars and worlds away
In Fringe, in March, or off in Ley
The throne commands and we obey
Beyond the stars and far away.

When duty calls us we must go
For sentinels ’tis ever so
A legion life the coin we pay
Beyond the stars and far away

(Chorus)

So to the transport we shall come
Our eagles burnished as the sun
She lifts, and we are on our way
Beyond the stars and far away

(Chorus)

Then we shall fight with beam and shell
Until the field resembles Hell
But for the Empress we shall stay
Beyond the stars and far away

(Chorus)

When Darkness lies upon the land
We will not hold or stay our hand
But fight to bring the break of day
Beyond the stars and far away

(Chorus)

If we should fall on foreign shore
As legion brothers have before
Then drink, and let the trumpets bray
Beyond the stars and far away

(Chorus)

But courage, lads, that’s not today
While conquering colors we display
We’ll live to fight another day
Beyond the stars and far away

(Chorus)

– legionary marching song

Peerless (1)

In all of legend and the Time Before, only two warriors are acclaimed as peerless, those whose renown alone carried such force of authority that none would dare stand against them.

Of first note among these was the Sky-Born Loral Torateir of Telírvess, daughter of Marlais Torateir of the Drake-Bone Blade, shield-maiden, shield-biter and blade-licker to the hearth of Cloudpeak’s jarls, the Grimward-Kissed, eldest of the thirty-six Sky-Born Lighning-Blades, the Wolf-Spirit Maiden-o’-the-Pack, captain of the Blood-Blued Wave, crowned with braids of crimson and gold, who in youth sailed and raided with the Fangs of the Storm, who, having earned her name, carved her legend in blood across the islands of the North, and whose bones, and dust, and name lie forever beneath the mount upon which her name was earned.

Fell-handed, tall and grim of mien, she came to the Stairs of Arkuel’s Watch as the ant-men of the southern green-lands descended, and in that narrow place did slay and slay again, step by step, pace by pace along the winding stair. By their hundreds they came upon her, and they died. In hundreds more they held their ranks against her, and they died. The last hundreds fled from her, terrible in aspect, with armor drenched and hair thick with the blood of their fellows, and they too died, slain as they fled wailing, until the last, in their terror, hurled themselves from the cliffs of the Watch.

And from that day, it was said that none would face the Sky-Born Loral Torateir, now known as the Blood-Washed, such was the fear her name alone inspired.

– Legends of the Time-Before

Origins

A DOUBLE ANCESTRY:
MAPPING ELDRAEIC GREENLIFE GENETIC ANCESTRY
FROM PRIMORDIAL PSEUDOELDRAE ARCHAEA

CORDANE RÚÄDHA
Academy of Genomic Archaeology
Fíä Eredhech, High Daëntry, Llorallin

<CYAN GLISSANDO IN B FLAT>
Information-Bearing Molecular Mechanics Lab,
Self-Replicating Carbonics Interest Group,
Well Elíeran, Adírdis, Tessil (Galari Trinary)

KÍRA HORÚKAMÍ
Underside Institute of Genetic Studies
Isonímé, Kyo Kanatai, Kanatai

TALISA MUETRY
Center for Holistic Bioinformatics,
Foiríäs, Ildathach

WITH THANKS TO

ALDIS ESTANTEL
Office of Biological Preservation,
Imperial Genome Repository
&
CHEN TSURILEN
Imperial Grand Survey

Abstract:

The eldraeic genome is both a mosaic and a palimpsest with respect to its evolutionary and engineered history. Based on a phylogenetic analysis of the DNA sequence alignments found in the approximately 76% of the eldraeic genome shared with Pseudoeldrae archaea, encompassing both genes and intergenic regions, we have been able to construct a map of the greenlife segment of eldraeic genetic ancestry.

We conclude that the eldraeic genome is derived from the intermingling of two groups of Pseudoeldrae archaea, which while having considerable genetic overlap nonetheless possessed sufficient group divergence for sub-species classification. One of these groups is typified by specimens recovered in or near the Precursor site found in the Dragon’s Nest range of Greater Cestia, for which we suggest the taxonomical name P. archaea amanhadír; the other is typified by specimens recovered in or near the upper Unsea and lower Sweetshallow and the Dragon Gate Precursor site, for which we suggest the taxonomical name P. archaea aecalhaër. In both cases, these specimens date to the primordial period of approximately -360,000; later specimens show evidence of ongoing interbreeding or the potential use of artificial methods of gene transfer.

Furthermore, we have been able to trace the development of a variety of genes in the eldraeic genome from these primordial subspecies through to E. alathis. Of greatest interest are a number of genes whose development can be traced specifically to one or the other subspecies. Most prominent among these are the melanocortin receptor allele responsible for the distinctive skin and hair coloration of the Daën-lin and other lumeneldrae ethnies, present solely in the primordial P. archaea amanhadír; and the now-ubiquitous EPAS1 low-oxygen adaptation allele present solely in P. archaea aecalhaër. The rare epicanthic fold alleles found in some ethnies tracing their ultimate ancestry to the Ochale or Kanatai regions also appear to be specifically derived from P. archaea aecalhaér.

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