The TGG Multiverse - Facts and Tales of the Multiverse

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The TGG Multiverse - Facts and Tales of the Multiverse

Post by Steve »

This thread will serve for two purposes. A) Contributors like myself and Marina will post things like fleet lists, equipment, and other "fluff" that gives a bigger understanding of things. B) Whenever a TGG writer has the impulse to do something quick that sheds light on a previously unseen part of the Multiverse, whether it be an event that we've not shown before or simply a setting that has gone ignored, we will post it here.

So check up on the thread once and a while.

To start off, this was a little something I did that would, otherwise, have been a part of a trilogy of BTech-centric TGG stories about the Multiverse, and its effects, from an Inner Sphere POV.

Southwest Spacelines Flight 110129, Rasalhague Orbit
Free Republic of Rasalhague
Universe Designate MWB-32
18 February 2151 AST
7 July 3050 ISC

Anders Dahlbeck had been the owner of a moderately successful retailer in a small town not far from Reykjavik. "Had" was the key word because he no longer had it; he had sold it and most of his family's property to get enough tickets for his immediate family on the packed ships fleeing Rasalhague through the IU gates.
It had been three days since the Clan forces jumped in system, and there were yet four before they arrived in orbit. The KungsArmee was on the highest of alerts and the Elected Prince was promising the "stiffest resistance" to the powerful conquerers that were cutting their way toward the heart of the Inner Sphere.

But none of the promises in the world were stopping the people of Rasalhague from boarding every available ship in a desperate bid to escape. The price of tickets on spaceliners had skyrocketed and even cargo ships were being used by clever, and unscrupulous, merchants to give room to the thousands of despairing Rasalhaguans seeking to escape the Clans.
Little news had come of those worlds that had already fallen to the Clan juggernaught, and this served to only stoke the public furor and terror with no facts to restrain the terrified imaginations of the besieged Rasalhaguans. Mischief-makers and doomsayers proclaimed that the Clans were not Human, or were of other universes, and some crackpots even proclaimed them to be allied to the extrauniversal "Alliance of Democratic Nations", or that the Alliance had merely been a charade to test the Inner Sphere's defenses and spirit before the invasion began. As it had for centuries, fear and ignorance had robbed human beings of their innate ability to reason and reduced them to gibbering maniacs and terrified fools, running about proclaiming the End of All Things.
By varying reports the Clans feasted on human flesh, sought human sacrifices to dark gods, took slaves or simply engaged in mass slaughter - sometimes both. The news waves filled with stories of horrific rituals with the hearts of men and women being ripped out, the mass slaughtering of children in bonfires, or the lining up of innocent girls for the Clan warriors to rape at leisure. Every atrocity story once used to demonize Asians - and the Draconis Combine - was now turned onto the Clans and magnified. "Space Mongols" was the half-sarcastic name some had given to the Clans merely on the legends of their inhuman brutality. They were, after all, the Other. The Unknown. The Mysterious Force that had burst out from the uncivilized Beyond in the Periphery to bring fire and death to the peoples of the civilized Inner Sphere. The Clans were the Mongol Hordes of the 31st Century, the Tartars from the Abyss, and now they were heading straight for Rasalhague.

Anders Dahlbeck had not heard many of these stories, nor did he place complete stock in those he had heard, for while he was not wholly wise he was neither wholly foolish. But like any loving husband and father, Anders was unwilling to risk his family to the slightest chance of cruelty and barbarity. So he had uprooted his wife Stella, his sons Harald (12) and Georg (8), and his daughter Agnes (15) and, with only the clothes on their backs and the handful in their bags, fled his family's home of centuries to escape the threat that the Clans might have posed to them.
He had given his wife the aisle seat and his children the seats between them, keeping the cramped window seat for himself. Unlike old airliners the "window seat" did not face an actual window, but a long display screen that was configured to show the space on the other side of the hull as if it were a window, the screen itself stretching across the length of the second class compartment (coach had been entirely booked) and allowing everyone to look "outside" at the black void, broken up only by the light of Rasalhague, their home, below, and the dozens of ships milling about.

Coming into view, for they had not turned toward it yet, was the newest addition to the Rasalhaguan night sky; the Interuniversal Jump Gate Assembly. Opened just over a year prior, the Assembly was a long block, still growing in fact as new gates were added and more structure placed to accomodate them, twenty kilometers thick and wide to allow for twin gates beside each other on each face, and at the completed "top" and along intervals in the gates were the visible signs of the powerful matter/anti-matter reactors that powered the gates. Two faces of the Assembly's block-shape were devoted to departure gates, two for arrival, and Anders and his family were looking at an arrival face as their liner moved into position to join a departure line.
This, then, is the marvel that opened up the other universes to the entirety of creation. Anders and his family looked upon the technological marvel, more magic to them than science, and soon every Rasalhaguan was looking at the great construct as none of those on the flight had ever seen it so close, and so clear, before.
Two of the gates suddenly fired up. They were circles themselves, rings built into the faces of the Assembly at the opening of a cone, and bright blue energy flared brilliantly in them for about five seconds before it moved inward, coming together at the center and coalescing into a brilliant shimmer of green and gold and light blue light, the event horizon of a wormhole that pierced the very fabric of their universe. A ripple came from the center as the shimmer stabilized and the event horizon settled.

About ten seconds after this display of technological magic, disruptions appeared in the surfaces of the gates. Vessels began to emerge, thin and sleek ships more like the spaceliner than the ovoid or aerodynamic DropShips most common to MWB-32, each with engine nacelles built into their frames upon the sides.
And then the first large ship appeared, a distinct melon shape to it's hull with turrets along the top and bottom hulls, and beside it in another gate was an even more impressive ship. It was the largest so far, more of a block shape than anything, with two large engine nacelles on the sides attached by thick and armored pylons. The upper deck of the ship was smaller than the others with visible openings upon them.
Even from the distance, the large characters emblazoned on the large ship's hull were clear. The torch-and-stars insignia of the Alliance of Democratic Nations, under which was located the ship's hull designation: CVF-1.
Anders' children joined the other Rasalhaguans, adult and child alike, in staring at this simply stupendous thing, a ship unlike any seen in the Inner Sphere for centuries. It was lostech, like a relic of the Star League.

A voice came over the intercom in English, which only Anders understood. "Ladies and gentlemen, just for your information, we have been informed that those ships that just came out are a part of the Allied Nations 8th Fleet. That huge ship you see is a carrier with over two hundred space fighters on board, and she's called the Enterprise. They're here to stop the Clans."
A cheer arose from the assembled, and Anders joined it.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by lord Martiya »

So, this is the beginning of how the Clans were smacked by the Alliance. A good story.
Now, I have a question about a thing I just read in The Decision: what universe's are on IUCEC's blacklist apart the Gateverse? Maybe one of them is in the middle of a civil war on galactic scale and one side possess destroyers able to molt planetary crusts in a matter of a few hours and moon-sized ray gun able to blow up planets with one hit...
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Post by fgalkin »

lord Martiya wrote:So, this is the beginning of how the Clans were smacked by the Alliance. A good story.
Now, I have a question about a thing I just read in The Decision: what universe's are on IUCEC's blacklist apart the Gateverse? Maybe one of them is in the middle of a civil war on galactic scale and one side possess destroyers able to molt planetary crusts in a matter of a few hours and moon-sized ray gun able to blow up planets with one hit...
Or maybe you're wanking again. SW is not in TGG, nor will it be included in the foreseeable future. Get over it.

Have a very nice day.
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Post by lord Martiya »

I'm a crazy wanker, I know, and maybe I'll ask this title to Mr.Wong, but I'll prefer an answer from the TGG writers. Are you one of them?
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Post by fgalkin »

lord Martiya wrote:I'm a crazy wanker, I know, and maybe I'll ask this title to Mr.Wong, but I'll prefer an answer from the TGG writers. Are you one of them?
As a matter of fact, yes I am. I'm working on on my first entry to TGG for my new power for NaNoWriMo, even. And before that, I contributed to "55 Days" and participated in planning chats. My power in the old TGG STGOD was Slavia.

Have a very nice day.
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Post by lord Martiya »

Well, excuse me for my attitude.
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Post by Steve »

Fima, be nice. Or no vodka for you. :P
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Timeline of the history of the Taloran Species:

5,300 BE (Before Eibermon) / 30,500 BCE approx: Early Taloran Bronze Age begins; Small villages begin to amalgate into larger nations and cities.

2,260 BE / 20,826 BCE: Now Middle Bronze Age, early "Oriental Despotate" Kingdoms, use of Chariot and bronze armour in combat, first true writing in cuneiform tablet style - Recorded history begins.

1,375 BE / 18,000 BCE approx: Late Bronze Age begins, use of papyrus-equivlants for writing, use of Rostok and Effavsur cavalry in warfare, mounted, instead of pulling chariots, advanced bureaucratic structure for large Empires.

594 BE / 15,500 BCE approx: Early Iron Age begins, primitive iron weaponry which slowly improves, armour still primarily bronze, cavalry still without stirrups; Scythes added to chariots to keep them effective in limited roles in combat, but infantry becomes increasingly effective in combat and the chariot and cavalry have secondary if non-existant roles. Currency is invented.

125 BE / 14,000 BCE approx: Rise of the Quesadi City-States, invention of real paper, flowering of philosophical thought, drama, comedy, democratic principles, armies based on vouluntary service of small landowners, rise of the merchant middle-class, etc.

1 AE (Age of Eibermon) / 13,597 BCE: Birth of the Prophet Eibermon, founder of the religion of Farzianism. (Monotheistic religion teaching a cosmic and philosophical dualism; Similiarities exist to Terran Zoroastrianism.)

He would live for 702 years, and by his death would have Proselytes in the Quesadi Mountains (A region near, but not directly related to the city-states) and throughout the Rift Valley of Grenya Colenta, and will have written the Holy Books of that faith.

Following his death, his followers would spread his faith throughout the Quesadi Mountains and the Rift Valley, and then in later years certain revolutions of the world would bring it to the foremost place as a world religion in Taloran history, and finally virtually the only religion, and the State Religion of the Taloran Star Empire.

219 AE / 12,895 BCE: Death of the Prophet Eibermon.

808 AE / 11,013 BCE: Birth of Moloyr, son of Vistar and Inarai, Great King of Trilune, King of Rasilan, "The Tyrant". During the 279 years he lived, he would conquer not less than three huge despotates, every one the larger than the lands of his father, and the many smaller Kingdoms and Principalities of the Ta'ert Valley, and his only defeats would come at the hands of those that the adherents of Farzianism now consider sacred or near-so.

820 AE / 10,976 BCE: Birth of Valera, daughter of Qua'rin and Yasmini, known as "Valera of the Ta'ert" in her lifetime, now called The Sword of Justice by the adherents of Farzianism. Victor over Moloyr in the great Wars of the Ta'ert, as they are called, which intermingle into Moloyr's march of conquest and those of Valera's daughters in one glorious string of victory, her refusal to take the crown of Great Queen over the lands she won from Moloyr and unified against him, and then her final journey - Which she never returned from, and of which no body was found - Gave her a mythical status, which elevated her eventually to the level of the Champion of Farzbardor, The Lord Justice, taken into heaven without dying to lead the hosts of Good in the eternal cosmic battle against Evil.

1 AV (Ascension of Valera) / 10,734 BCE: The Crown of Great Queen "Of Grenya Colenta" is claimed by In'ghara, third daughter of Valera of the Ta'ert. The claim of ruling the entire continent is far from true; Two great Kingdoms remain unconquered: Dalamar to the South, Nylem to the North, and the Quesadi city-states are likewise independent. However, the vast majority of it is under her control, and that is enough for the title to be had.

12 AV / 10,694 BCE: The Kingdoms of Midela Colenta and Lelola Colenta are considered established by Valera's older daughters, Fileya and Taradrua, so that the three historical Kingdoms of Talora exist - An incredible length of time, but considering the great length of the Taloran lifespan, not longer than the claims that have been sometimes made for the continuous dynasty of Japan, or that of the Persian Empire lasting until Reza Pahlavi was overthrown. - And the blood of Valera reigned on all three continents of Talora Prime.

92 – 1,092 AV / 10,400 - 7,200 BCE: The Golden Age of the Three Kingdoms. Second great flourishing of art and science, but limited to refining what as already occured in the Quesadi city-states. Quesadi city-states, not overstrained by attempts at empire-building, do not stagnate or collapse. Massive population boom throughout Talora; Population reaches a later-estimated two billion worldwide by the end of this period before leveling off at the maximum such a pre-industrial society can really support.

Iron-working becomes commonplace and iron armour is fully incorporated into the militaries of the Three Kingdoms, Quesadi city-states, and remaining Despotates, for all troops and in certain cases animals. Pike formations generally give way in this period to men armed with shield and short-sword or shield and spear depending on nation.

1,092 AV / 7,200 BCE approx: Invention of the Stirrup. Problem of fitting Rostok and Effavsur with stirrups finally solved by nomads on Midela Colenta; Resulting raids and attacks nearly lead to the downfall of the Midelan Kingdom, and naval barbarian raiders from the Honaki islands eventually carry the technology to Grenya, where it is used to great advantage by the heavy armoured Rostok cavalry of Dalamar against the Kingdom of Grenya Colenta.

1,463 – 2,213 AV / 6,000 - 3,600 BCE: Decline of the Three Kingdoms. Invention of the stirrup and other improvements in military technology that they have not kept up with, combined with further expanding populations of surrounding states, decaying militaries and undefendable coastlines lead to a situation where eventually the Three Kingdoms come under barbarian attack on a massive scale and are greatly reduced in territory.

Year after year the situation worsens, yet the kingdoms are held together by armies marching out to fight and, despite defeats, never really being destroyed; Barbarians are hired to replace soldiers that are no longer available, and the defense goes on, territories being eaten away. Lelola Colenta and Grenya Colenta both suffer total collapses of their Kingdoms while Midela Colenta sees the heirs of Fileya reduced to their capitol city and nothing more.

Finally, the situation is such that the Kingdom of Grenya Colenta falls entirely; The heir, Princess Saverana, reached the Quesadi city-states with some nobles and retainers and a remnant army force of 14,000 on a march of thousands of miles across terrain long-overrun or revolted, and appealed for help, offering titles and land to restore her throne. Her long road to that success sees the army dwindle to a few thousand, before she succeeds in retaking Valeria with the aide of mercenaries. Around this time gunpowder first sees military use.

Ultimately, many people of the Quesadi city-states desired to support her effort effort, for they desired new lands, and had begun Empire-building in these times as they had not before; But the adventurers that rallied to the Princess Saverana put limitations on her rule, even over the lowliest peasant instead of over merely great nobles, and so was born the first constitutional monarchy, for those adventurers of the Quesadi, with their ordered cavalry, matched by new formations of Pike and crossbow which could meet the charge of the enemy's, conquered, and restored her to the throne of her ancestors after many trials, dangers, and adventures.

So in the year 2,210 AV or 3,608 BCE Great Queen Saverana I was on the throne of Grenya Colenta, and that nation restored, if in its most marginal form, though her heirs would later lose the capital again and be for some time mere dukes before full recovery began; these campaigns saw some of the first uses of gunpowder.

2,225 to 3,278 AV / 3,600 BCE to 200 CE: The Resurgence of the Three Kingdoms. This is perhaps a misnomer for this era, for many times the Kingdoms were actually in decline, here, and then again in resurgence; But in general they expanded, towards their old and great borders, and did not decline, in this period.

The introduction of gunpowder saved the Kingdom of Midela Colenta, and though the earliest grenades and vase-cannon might have more of an effect in scaring the enemy than in doing much hurt, they helped the battered nation win victories; And then gunpowder let the siege become a rapid thing, against high walls. The handgonne further improved matters, as generally being better than the crossbow, and gradually replaced it.

At the same time, the Quesadi city-states were overtaxed by their own efforts at empire-building in the period of collapse, which marked their own resurgence in the Farzian era after a long senescence since their pre-Farzian glory; And the decline of their culture encourages their offshoots, principally in the Kingdom of Grenya Colenta, to push forward with a vigorous new effort of learning and thought: So begins the Ta'ertan Reinassance, which quickly spreads to the other Kingdoms and even the Quesadi city-states themselves, still powerful even in their decay, since all have the foundation for it.

Over the next centuries this reinassance continues, advancing science, philosophy and culture forward towards an Age of Reason. Military technology evolves first to Pike and Arquebus supported by Cuirassier and Hussar, and then to the Musket, as for a remaining few centuries Talora hovers in the 'Georgian' era, on the edge of the Industrial revolution, technology well refined, but the critical combination of events required to create that explosion of industry not having been reached yet.

3,278 – 3,472 AV / 200 - 820 CE: Taloran Industrial Revolution. This is the period that it roughly took humanity from 1750 to 2100 to get to in. Also in this period, the Kingdom of Grenya Colenta comes to the fore, unifying Grenya Colenta and conquering many islands and the independent territories on Midela Colenta and Lelola Colenta. In 811 CE the Atomic Bomb was tested by Grenya Colenta, and 24 human years later the constitution of the Taloran Imperial Confederacy was promulgated by Mikela I.

1 IY (Imperial Year) / 844 CE: Foundation of the Empire and use of new dating system by Mikela I, which was considered quite arrogant at the time.

1 – 206 IY / 844 – 1500 CE: Consolidation of the Empire. Dalamar annexed as an Imperial Province, New Territories colonized on Midela Colenta by the Empress in person, creation of the Imperial Guard by Mikela II, parthenogenic daughter of Mikela I and one of her several wives, and the great Dalamarian communitarian revolt which led to the extermination of their Royal Family and the integration of Dalamar. Rasilan was also forced into integration by this war, and most of the minor independent states followed suit.

1,366 AV - 213 IY / 820 - 1525 CE: Taloran Solar System colonization. During this period in time the Taloran Empire was limited to one solar system, and colonised it actively, building huge orbital habitats many kilometers long similiar to "O'Neil Cylenders" in orbit of Talora Prime and at other locations in the system, in addition to large colonies on other uninhabitable planets in the system and establishing extensive mining outposts and extra-planetary industry, and settling Talora Secundus. Militant traditions were turned into ones that lusted for exploration, and got it, in taming the solar system and then sending out generational worldships (for the long life of a Taloran the trip seemed far more tolerable) to settle or conquer other systems. Some of these conquests involved genuine combat but rarely did the homeworlds hear of it; this was the age of peace. However, their technology developed slowly and they stagnated as a species.

213 – 240 IY / 1525 – 1614 CE: The Great Outspreading, the period of Slower-Than-Light cryo and world ships colonizing nearby systems in the wake of the great wars and upheavals of the age of Mikela the Elder and Younger.

258 IY / 1672 CE: Development of primitive Heim Theory type Gravito-Magnetic drives which allow a maximum speed of around 51.4c to be obtained and very efficient sublight acceleration potentials with reactionless drives. Faster-than-light colonization commences, along with the first of the “Colony Wars” to reintegrate the nearest sublight colonies that rebelled. Not all such colonies will be found, and many more ships were in travel to further destinations where they would found strong states, however, which would not be subdued for centuries.

260 IY / 1679 CE: Contact with the Jikar and the start of the Sixty Years’ War, a series of protracted skirmishes which ultimately lead to the Talorans building up the superiour and overwhelming strength which fully conquers the Jikar, aided in no small part by the development of jump-drives in 258 IY.

316 IY/ 1858 CE: Conclusion of the Sixty Years’ War and founding of the Worlds of the Concordat to attempt to integrate the Jikar.

319 IY / 1870 CE: The War of the Quadruple Entente. Lasting precisely a Taloran year, this short and intense conflict sees the extermination of the World of the Concordat and the retaliatory destruction of two of the homeworlds of the four species fighting the Taloran Empire that inadvertently results in their extirpation.

331 – 341 IY / 1909 - 1942 CE: Major colony wars against a series of highly populous colonies united in a Confederation begin; the Taloran Empire is totally victorious. Most of the worlds are given in Appanage to various Archduchesses save the Dalamarian worlds, which are reintegrated with the Province.

343 IY / 1946 CE: Contact with the Ulankrish, the first species with which the Talorans met and have ultimately not absorbed into the Empire; others on the coreward boundary of the state were to ultimately follow. The Ulankrish would for a long time serve as opponents to the Empire but gradually they would be out-built and out-expanded by the spinward reaching Taloran Empire and fall into obscurity as a lower second-rank power.
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2007-11-19 07:11pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

The Taloran Star Empire:

The Taloran Star Empire consists of approximately 85,000 nominally habitable planets, 70,000 of which are regularly inhabited and the other 15,000 or so are uninhabited or inhabited by limited scientific parties only.

It is a feudal confederacy ruled by an Empress, the head of the Grenyan Branch of the Valerian Dynasty, who serves as the direct descendent of In’ghara, first Great Queen or Maharanidhirani of Grenya Colenta. Mikela I (note that ordinals are continued over from Grenya Colenta to the Empire) founded the Empire in approximately 844 CE by using nuclear and economic blackmail and diplomacy, along with several carefully prepared marriage alliances, and military alliances with smaller states, to force the union of Lelola Colenta, Midela Colenta, and about twenty-six smaller states and city-states into an Imperial Confederacy which she and her successor Mikela II gradually compelled the rest of Talora Prime to join. Between the two rulers, Talora Prime was governed for 722 human years and the whole Empire nearly became an autocracy. However, Mikela III and Mikela IV and several following rulers were weak, and the character of a feudal confederacy was reasserted by the Convocate.

The Imperial power is restrained in most areas by the Convocate of Nobles and the Chamber of Deputies. In two areas it remains absolute, however: The declaration of war and making of peace (and by extension the issue of letters of Marque and Reprisal), and the concluding of treaties with foreign powers and appointment of diplomats, consuls and Ambassadors thereof. The Empress’ veto can only be overridden by the Convocate at 60% and the Chamber of Deputies at 70%, or the Convocate alone voting 66.6% + 1 to override. The Convocate, however, retains the right to determine levels of taxation for their own individual demesnes, save for the tithe (8% in this case) to the Farzian Orders, which is eternally fixed. The Convocate as a whole votes on Imperial internal taxation; the Empress can however control the taxation of the Imperial demesne, which is more than 50% of the Empire, and all tariffs and excise duties, the collection of flotsam and jetsam and salvage of wrecks and lost treasures and artifacts, and in this fashion maintain the Imperial apparatus to some extent even against the full opposition of the Convocate to internal (usually sales tax) taxation. Despite not holding property outside of the state, 1,200 Farzian priests are in the Convocate as well as around 3,000 nobles, and 800 representatives-for-life representing various alien species, Republican Protectorates, and Free Cities who represent the approximately 3,823 first-order subdivisions of the Empire.

The Chamber of Deputies has 250,000 members. Of these, around 40,000 are appointed, ten per government, by the constituent states of the Empire. Another 70,000 are popularly elected at the rate of about one per 300 million Imperial subjects, all held within the same territorial divisions so that overrepresentation for small states is notable. 20,000 are lesser-order priests, and of the remainder, 56,000 or so are life appointments of the Parlements of Justice, the other recognized religions of the Empire, and the major trading houses. The remaining 64,000 represent trade guilds, unions, and the Empire’s veteran’s association.

The government, consisting of the Ergacatum or High Chancellor and the sixteen traditional ministries (Army, Starfleet (previously navy), Fortress Command, Aerospace Corps, Foreign Ministry, Agriculture, Industry, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Queen’s Cup-Bearer, Grand Sheriff, Justice, Surgeon General, Religious Affairs, Exchequer, Master of Horse, and Master of the Queen’s Household) to which has been added the Ministry for the Imperial Demesne, the Ministry of the Coast Guard (wet-navies and small patrol/rescue craft in interplanetary and deep space), Ministry of Colonization, Ministry of Alien Affairs, Ministry of Advanced Technologies, and the Ministry of Trade. All ministers serve at the pleasure of the Empress.

The population of the Empire includes 15.7 trillion Talorans as of the 610 IY census, 2.1 trillion Jikar (hexapedal sentient coyotes more or less), 3 trillion of other subject species with full rights, plus ~300 billion of species which proved unable to integrate and are held on internal reservations, 300 billion of the recently integrated Ilas species, and 155 billion of the recently integrated Human species, for a total population of 21.6 trillions. As a population breakdown, the Imperial Demesne has the bulk of the population: 39.75% of the Talorans reside in the territories of Grenya Colenta; 90% of the Jikari within the Jikari Autonomous Republic, 5% of the Jikari and 1% of the Talorans in the Worlds of the Concordat, and a cumulative 6.2% of Talorans in Dalamar Province and the New Territories region of Talora Prime, along with the reservation aliens, and about 10% of the free aliens excluding the Ilas and Humans (which are entirely autonomous or under their own nobles); so that in all 9.9 trillions of 21.6 trillions are directly ruled by the Empress, or 46% of the population. Collectively the Imperial Demesne is more heavily industrial than the rest of the Empire, and so while only 46% of the population is directly under the Empress in her various capacities, she commands 52% of Taloran industry in her space. Conversely, however, finance is more concentrated in the Quesadi City States, and only 44% of the Imperial GDP is within the directly-ruled Imperial territories.

The territories of the Imperial Demesne consist of Grenya Colenta, the primary matrilineal inheritance of the Empress in the largest bulk; of the Jikari Autonomous Republic, fiercely loyal to the Empress—it has no representation on the Convocate, is directed by a directly-appointed Imperial Viceroy, and maintains total autonomy--and the Worlds of the Convocate, mixed Taloran-Jikari population and an administration over the remnant survivors of two species of the Quadruple Entente, equally loyal; and of the less loyal and more fractuous Dalamar Province, comprising the old Kingdom of Dalamar and ethnically Dalamarian extra-solar old STL colonies, along with a significant chunk of Talora Secundus; and the New Territories, consisting of a multi-ethnic region of Midela Colenta which, being a vast expanse of desert, had never been properly held by that Kingdom, and was annexed by Mikela I for a vast irrigation project which led to the cultivation of the New Territories and their settlement from all the Empire; their adjunct, the Great Reef of the south, stripped from Lelola and Midela in the same terms due to their alleged mistreatment of the natives, and governed by the same ministry as the New Territories, without any extraterritorial possessions, and whose administration is closely aligned with that of Dalamar Province, including a joint military.

The Big Three are the largest feudatories of the Empress: Lelola Colenta, Midela Colenta, and the King of Kings of Rasilan. By far the largest of these is Lelola Colenta, with 11% of the Imperial population and 12% of Imperial industry. Midela Colenta follows with 8.05% of the Imperial population and 9% of industry; and Rasilan is a distant third with 5% of the Imperial population and 4% of industry. In all these three states have 25% of industry, 23% of the economy, and 24% of the population of the Empire. The rest of the Empire can be divided with the Quesadi City-States (of which there are around 400) boasting collectively 5% of the population and 8% of the economy, the other minor noble territories of Talora Prime and the Outer System Principalities to the number of around 650 independent polities with their in- and out-system holdings claiming 8% of the population and 6.5% of economy. Independent alien noble feudatories and autonomous republics claim another 11.5% of the population comprising of about 700 noble feudatories and 400 autonomous republics with 8% of the economy, and the remaining 1,600 sovereign nobles hold only less than 6% of the population of the Empire with a mere 1.5% of the economy, or an average of 802 million subjects per “Spacelord”: The reason is that these are the border-marches, minor unclaimed territories, and boundary zones of the Empire between the larger polities, and many face frequent threats. The planets range in population from a few tens of thousands to hundreds of millions; all are fresh worlds, usually independently colonized, either by rich families or by simple settlers who later petitioned for their own state and had a noblewoman granted rule and representation over them after accepting their charter of freedoms, making many of these worlds by far the more constitutional of the Empire. This area is very lightly economically developed and consists mostly of freehold farms and small cities.
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2007-11-24 08:30pm, edited 4 times in total.
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How it came to pass.

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Humanity had been spreading into the stars for some five centuries before the Taloran conquest. Most of the time they had not possessed any sort of FTL drive. Instead this interesting species had vigorously colonized nearby systems using STL systems in the broad period of 2150 - 2400, and then using Heim field drives, once their recovery from the "great horrors" of the 21st and early 22nd centuries had largely been completed. A range of habitable and uninhabitable nearby solar systems had been colonized and extensive infrastructure built up out of the home solar system. In these original systems the human population had expanded extensively in a short period of time. At home, however, a world beset by a declining population where the best and brightest left of space, continuing danger of plagues and wracked by internal violence (including the plagues which swept the globe in the 21st century due to a combination of bioware and economic collapse from peak oil), strange weather patterns and rising sea levels from the continued effects of global warming, saw a definite decline, while the Heim drives made reaching orbit easier and safer and encouraged further flight, and development of orbital industry, along with much expanded colonization.

The nature of Heim drives requiring continuous acceleration to reach their maximum speed of around 53c from a starting point of 1c after transition meant that the early Terran ships, with very slow gravitic drives and poor acceleration, could still easily take a year to get to Alpha Centauri, though the theoretical time was less than 8 days. This gradually improved, but the Colonies proved to distant for the moment to be governed directly, and were all more or less independent, while the drives themselves did aide in more rapid colonization of further systems, meaning that human's outspread happened all the more quickly, still without centralization.

In 2594 an FTL drive of the K-F type was developed and perfected by humanity, capable of a jump every 120 hours or so by charging, up to a distance of 30 lightyears. This made travel time to Alpha Centauri instantaneous, and to further destinations, at an average of one lightyear every four hours. Though researched and produced in Earth orbit with the resources of Earth supporting it, the human colonies which had been established in centuries past using slowships took advantage of it much more quickly. Earth never had a chance to establish control over them, the government at the time—weak and ineffectual—refusing to bother with the money to do so. Before long the colonies were legally independent and united in a federation that was rapidly expanding to additional planets. The human race was split in two. This situation is hardly unfamiliar in Taloran history, but our government retained a decisive military advantage which allowed for the secessionist colonies to be quickly suppressed and brought into the fold.

As a result of this, the standing Terran government of the times, a United States-Chinese CoDominion which largely oppressed and dominated the rest of the world, undertook a cautious approach, reflecting its own weakness, funding its own extensive colony system on a national level and also with the subordinate nations of the Earth, tightly bound to the component governments of the Terran "EarthGov". This resulted in a race for colonies as the colonists themselves spread out to try and establish their own networks of subordinate colonies to maintain their own growth and strength against what was clear a Terran effort to surround and overwhelm them, forcing them back into unity with the CoDominion. At the same time, extremely wide-scale expansion of Sol-system industry was commenced, and the first space elevators were constructed to support large-scale human industrial activities in orbit to actually enrich the surface materially.

Ultimately the perceived "expansionism" of the colonies trigged fears among the “native terrans” as they began to call themselves—their movement was formalized as the United Terran Homeland Party. Though the majority of the population was not behind this movement there was still a considerable minority favouring a Terra-first policy and the concept of a distinct Earth-based ethnic identity, transcending old boundaries and old political divisions which still held much influence in the Earth government. Because these organizations were disorganized and anti-government nationalist organizations, and the left essentially totally discredited, the Native-Terran movement gained a sufficient plurality to take control of the government in the 2670 elections.

Power was then cemented by a mass propaganda movement based on “blood and soil” which succeeded in integrating the left through promises of extensive social programmes combined with environmentalism, turning Earth into a garden planet of holistic cities supported by mass orbital industry. In the 2674 elections the movement cemented control over the government in what turned out to be the third decisive demonstration of the dangers of democracy in human history (the first being the rise of Hitler during the 1930s in the old country of Germany, and the second the Cultural Revolution of Maoist China).

This movement had its purpose in funding an immense series of changes to the human lifestyle, including the movement of industry in orbit, the cleansing and purification of the Earth—turning into an idealized utopia—and doing it all on the backs of orbital industrial and orbital labour. The extensive colonies which had been established in artificial habitats in orbit, in the asteroid belt, and in Mars orbit—along with lesser colonies on the Moon and Mars and in the outer system—all soon found themselves under stiff government control which destroyed their traditional liberties and forced their economic output to be returned to Earth. This was combined with the beginning of the creation of a modern military, supposedly to defend Earth from the degenerate outworlders. Their free spirit, combined with booming population growth compared to the decline on Earth, and need for extensive industrial investment to support it, caused immediate hardship and bitterness.

During the 2678 elections the solar system colonies and the nationalist parties combined into a loose alliance intended to contest the elections on the basis of “regional rights”, IE, devolution of power back to the traditional nations and the extraplanetary colonies. Widespread voter fraud was claimed by the coalition during their electoral defeat. The government retaliated by its claiming that the movement intended to begin an armed revolt. Security measures were instituted, freedom of the press and of assembly were suspended, and paramilitary terror cadres began operations. Operations only intensified on word from Colonial Confederacy that they had contacted an alien race. The Isla, as they were called, were trading partners of our nation at that time. They have since been incorporated into the Empire.

This news caused panic in the leadership UTHP. Immediate efforts to defend Earth from the perceived alien threat forced additional economic hardship and drove people into the hands of a rebel movement which was now genuinely forming in response to the Terror. The 2682 elections were suspended due to the “state of emergency”; by this time our intelligence services had already begun data-gathering operations on Earth, and the Ergacatum gave authorization in the name of Her Serene Majesty to begin providing funds, weapons, and intelligence to the rebel movements in the Sol System so as to destabilize the government and interfere with the military buildup. These operations commended in spring of the terran year 2683.

A revolt soon developed which threatened to shake the foundations of terran unity. Within two years much of the less inhabited of Earth was under rebel control, leaving the government with the highly populated industrial centers which suffered from food shortages as a result. Colonies repeatedly revolted and had to be retaken at great cost; this ultimately led to the nuclear destruction of an orbital Side with the death of more than forty-one million people in 2686 as an act of terror to force the system colonies to surrender. Instead it merely prompted them to appeal to the Colonial Confederacy to intervene militarily.

This turned out to be a strategic mistake. The UTHP immediately made a series of key concessions toward “autonomy” toward the surface movements, which were regarded as merely deluded rather than inferior and degenerate. This served to split the moderates from the more conservative and reactionary elements on the surface and violence there halted. A popular mobilization of surface society was successfully completed and the Colonial Confederacy's military efforts to secur the Sol System colonies were defeated. Ironically this guaranteed widespread monarchist restorations after our conquest, as in many areas restoration movements were the only ones which continued active armed resistance on the surface, gaining them automatic favour with Her Serene Majesty's Government.

Indications were received by the Naval General Staff that the UTHP was directing the Terran navy to undertake a series of genocide operations against the colonies not considered economically important to Terran prosperity and further military operations against the Colonial Confederacy. Hundreds of millions of lives were at stake. The Admiral of the Green, Her Ladyship Elaesa Countess Ythingol, was dispatched with sixty-one of the Wall to intervene on the behalf of the colonies.

The Admiral of the Green arrived to find that the destruction of habitats around two Sides had already been completed with considerable loss of life; the Side at L3 was now the target and our fleet immediately moved to interpose itself between the colonies and the Terran forces. This action caused considerable surprise at the Terran forces held off for several days, during which their leadership attempted to convince Her Ladyship to stand down. When this failed the massed Terran fleet was ordered to attack.

The Terran ships were woefully outmatched but carried home the attack with great elan. Their fleet was completely broken with the loss of three of the Wall to our forces, though our fighters were badly mauled during the pursuit of the broken remnants. The Countess' signal “it has been a hot afternoon, but we are done with our work” upon the victory was immortalized in the popular culture of the day. In that one “hot” afternoon the Terran fleet had been effectively entirely destroyed. The planetary defences instituted during the remilitarization were not finished to the point where they could provide a chance to hold off any landing forces, and many sites had been sabotaged or even captured by guerrillas.

On 3 January 2687 by the Terran calendar the surrender of the UTHP was accepted. Marine forces were deployed to hold certain critical areas while Her Ladyship encouraged the guerrilla forces still in the field to take over regional administration. This was subsequently affirmed as the correct strategy by our government. In regards to the colonies which had been saved from destruction, an edict was promulgated by Her Serene Majesty granting them full internal autonomy and self-government. On the surface, however, the UTHP hardcore supporters began a vigorous insurrection to drive our forces out.

This movement was suppressed with the use of special security measures and poison gas, though on seven different occasions there were general engagements in the streets of major cities. These measures had, however, secured the cities in eight months and the countryside was already in the hands of the autonomous guerrilla movements. After the successful suppression of the urban revolts, on 4 October, the “Proclaimation of General Restoration” was read. This reinstated all claims by monarchies and noble families to territory to which they had legitimate right, pursuant to confirmation of those claims by the Taloran Bureau of Titulary and the swearing of an oath of personal fealty to Her Serene Majesty according to feudal law, and guaranteed the autonomy of their realms save for the traditional feudal obligations as established by their own relevant traditions.

This proclaimation prompted the second insurrection. Certain areas, believing that old monarchies would be reinstated which had traditionally been loathed or around which a cult of force of arms in their overthrow had developed, fought bitterly. In Paris alone 40,000 humans were killed in street fighting, along with six hundred Taloran troops. The situation continued through 2688 and was only resolved by a proclaimation dated 19 April 2689 of the Terran calendar which allowed autonomous Republican forms of government according to tradition over certain troublesome areas. The resistance gradually died out from this point and by the end of 2690 peace had been effectively established throughout the whole Sol System.

The Colonial Confederacy maintained its independence for another twenty-eight years with little difficulty. In 2698, however, the Isla were annexed by Her Serene Majesty's government. This removed the major trading partner for the Colonial Confederacy and as per the policy of Imperial Preference which was currently in force at the time (later free-trade elements came to power in the Imperial government, in Saverana II's reign), trade with the Colonial Confederacy was severely limited, that limit expanding to the Isla. This resulted in a major economic contraction in the Confederacy, prompting a series of secessionist and revolutionary movements on a variety of planets within it. Several new colonies nearly collapsed and had to be saved by the humanitarian efforts of the Taloran armed services.

These secessionist and revolutionary movements proved very unstable and there were repeated attacks on Taloran shipping, particularly after our humanitarian interventions. Due to these attacks it was decided that the situation inside the Colonial Confederacy had to be dealt with decisively. On 2 June of 2726 a general invasion by two fleets with one hundred and thirty of the Wall was launched. Resistance collapsed immediately with a few minor exceptions in the secessionist and revolutionary areas but proved very stiff where the central government authority still ran, considering the vast disparity in forces and technology. It required a twenty-five day campaign to completely subdue the Colonial Confederacy.

Learning the lessons of the Terran conquest of 2687 – 2730 immediate and full internal autonomy and self-government was granted to all the colonies. This largely eliminated any effort toward developing a unified resistance movement, and the disunited movements which did continue to fight were entirely suppressed by 2734. This brought to a close the independent period of human history and the beginning of the period of their integration into the greater Taloran Star Empire.
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2007-11-24 08:30pm, edited 3 times in total.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

The procession weaved through the streets of Valeria, the capital city of the Taloran Star Empire, situated on the northern end of the Quesadi coast in a temperate—but wet and chilly—climate. The seas and the sky were an off-color gray, only the green stars at this time of the year to illuminate the sky. The procession marched to the beat of the advancing Guard band which led the way; they played an altogether very solemn processional. A detachment of the Imperial Guards followed. They were escorting an open-topped carriage which drew considerable attention from the enthusiastic spectators.

Nobody rode in the carriage. Instead it contained a single item, barely visible. A sword, in the scabbard. The sword of In'ghara, the symbol of the Grenyan branch of the House of Valera (properly, the House of Ta'ert, though not in popular perception). This item, the symbol of the founding of their country, still extant as a sacred heirloom, was even a reminder of religious obligation: After all, had it not been the sword which struck the first blow upon Moloyr, the warning bell of the loyal daughter where her mother would one day conquer over the evil, the incarnation of the Persecutor? It was all that and more, the glorious symbol of In'ghara's heirs of their right to preside over Taloran race and of their ability to defend the Farzian faith.

The flags followed, both the national standard and the royal and Imperial ones. This was to indicate the traditional precedence that the Sword held as the supreme symbol of all unified aspects of the Taloran people. It was the only object which could demand such precedence over the flag, and it bestowed a similar right upon the one who wore it (symbolically or literally), as the ruler of the Empire and Defender of the Faith, the heir of In'ghara. For the moment the sword was held only by itself. Indeed, in handling, two Farzian priests had to be in contact with it at all times, save only for a High Priest, who had the right to touch it only as part of the ceremony which came now.

The Empress had died, long live the Empress! It was a ceremony which had been seen many times before in Taloran history, but this was the first in nearly a Taloran century, and the Crown Princesses' mother had actually predeceased her, the cost of her life in an obscure accident in a rather minor war a decade prior when the current Crown Princess was quite young. She was, in fact, in Taloran years only eleven; that made her thirty-six in human reckoning, well above the age of majority (which in Taloran years was six, human, around nineteen).

Now the Crown Princess—her name was Saverana, only the second to bear that name in the line, and the first was perhaps one of her most illustrious ancestors—was riding behind the sword and the flags and with the High Priest. On her return from the Imperial Temple of Justice, she would ride on a Rostok, at the head of the column with the sword girt at her side. By Taloran standards that distant figure was short, the greatness of the finely spun light green ceremonial robes, inset with rubies, almost burying her. They covered her up and largely obscured the old-style steel armour which was beneath them. In that, the great regnal robes covering such militant garbs, the symbols of tradition, of the great age and regality of the dynasty with its military bearing, were thus symbolically combined.

The crowds watched Saverana pass, and she regarded them as she had been trained. There was a sort of quivering in her gut at the moment at the prospect of what was happening, the role for which her mother Princess Sikala should have undergone first. But her mother was dead, before she had even really known her, and she had been raised up in the palace by her aged grandmother who was also now dead. Her last words to Saverana had been at once chilling and encouraging: “I am passing on, my Granddaughter, but four thousand years of history are looking down upon you. What you do now may draw you accolades, and it may draw you hatred. But the judgement upon your life will only be rendered by those, and He, who watch above. Do not let them down.”

On the return, barring any unforseen mishap that her nervousness compelled her to think about, those crowds would be expected to bow low in honour of their Empress. For now they did not, but instead halfway gawked and halfway stared on in silence and awe at her passage. Her regard for them was precise. She swept her eyes back and forth, never moving them but instead moving her head in only small motions, remaining otherwise absolutely still. By the time they had reached the Temple her body was sore from the level of discipline and control that formal posture required, but she was prepared enough to handle it for the return journey as well.

The situation around the Temple was interesting to say the least. After Saverana came the assembled nobility of the realm. They were ranked according to their feudal titles and blood stature. That meant that the Great Queens of Lelola and Midela came first, of course, riding on Rostoks in glittering silvered armour which was now a pure formality, armed only with swords. The reins of the Rostok were inset in jewels and the pommels of the saddles with great diamonds, the bits of gold. In varying degrees after that came the nobility of the realm. There were even some aliens among them, who had a feudal right to attend the ceremony and had chosen to do so.

They rode their own distinctive native mounts, and the quality of the adornments that the Emperor of Mexico had upon his person and his armoured steed were much remarked upon. The bird-feather cape of the King of Hawaii, who was admittedly trailing among the rulers of that feudatory rank, likewise brought murmurs. It was generally regarded that the style of the other alien nobles did not match that of the brilliance of the Taloran feudal ladies and lords. Most of these families maintained a single such suit of armour just for coronations and maintained it in excellent condition at considerable expense for centuries, or longer.

Following them came the priests and priestesses of the Farzian faith. They rode on Yatila, in castles upon their backs made of the finest wood and adorned with gems and silver and embossed in gold. Acolytes led the Yatila, two for each. One guided the animal, the other advanced before him swinging a censer and chanting. The Farzian priests on the tops sat solemnly in crimson robes embroided with gold-mesh calligraphic inscriptions.

Behind the priests came the merchant nobility, riding—but only riding effavsur. They carried ceremonial hammers as signs of commerce, made of gold or silver or both and studded with gems. They did not have militant garb but rather fine robes of the highest quality, somewhat, and only somewhat, more subdued than the Princess Imperial's. Beyond them in turn walked the burgeoisie, the voting professors, and the representatives of the guilds and unions in the costumes of their occupations. Beyond them in turn, the elected Deputies in solemn and formal black.

As all of these attending dignitaries were carefully seated within the Temple according to rank, title, status, blood, and so on, all of the various conditions, the foreign diplomats were also seated in the section reserved for them, with great care to insure that they were led in at the appropriate times for emissaries of monarchs of the various ranks, or for a republic, the rank accorded it by the diplomatic arrangements. The interior of the Temple was a vast dome, the supporting pillars of the finest white marble and the interior of the dome consisting of alternating strips of plate gold and silver, with bands of black marble between them. The seating was in a semicircle with the podium facing it, and staggered by rank.

It took nearly an hour to finish the seating in the appropriate precedence, with each person being announced in turn should their dignities demand it, and ushers there to assist the armoured figures of the nobility in sitting in their awkward ceremonial armour, and in standing up again, or kneeling. At last the crimson-robbed High Priest, an elderly man, ascended the podium. “Let us pray,” he spoke, his voice carried perfectly in the chamber and of a sonorious quality.

He waited three minutes while the assembled assumed postures of respect, and then began to speak with his hands and eyes raised to the heavens, toward the brilliance of the center of the dome in practice. “Oh Lord of Justice, Creator of every good and righteous thing which resides in the universe, we come to you in prayer, humble and awed at your power and your mercy, that you have given to us angels for our protection, and your words for our salvation.

“We have done our best to strive to meet the demands of your word, Oh Lord. We have made the abulations of forgiveness for our sins, and we have committed our time to the cultivation of Good. What faults we have made are the responsibility of our weakness to the temptation of the Deceiver and for which we may only come before you, prostrate, awed in your power and blessed and redeemed by the mercy of your Justice.

“You sent to us the Prophet, and it was the Prophet who redeemed the Sword. As the Prophet saved, so doth the Sword defend! We stand in wonderment at the glory of your divine wisdom, Oh Lord, of the gracious and hallowed redemption which you have given to us, and through it given us the means to protect our meager faith in your creation. All hope springs from thine lips, Oh Lord, and we are glad for the chance to avail ourselves of it, as the traveler in the desert turns to the water of life.

“Today, in your Presence, we are gathered to witness the consecration of the Heir of the Sword. As we owe the everlasting salvation of the faith to her, so our mortal allegiance is to the fruit of her body. Whereas our hearts and souls are eternally given up to you, Oh Lord, in praise and everlasting devotion--so do we turn over our bodies to the command of the heir of the Sword, that our mortal lives might be a pale and shaded mirror of the glory of the Kingdom which is eternal, onto which we may pray to you for the grace that shall allow us to someday follow the Sword as your servants in the last battle, that which shall spread the goodness of your creation to the whole universe for-ever and ever and ever.”

The priest lowered his hands and eyes. “Let those gathered rise.” He spoke, and slowly the attending multitudes of the representatives of the two bodies of the government in all their myriad divisions did so. He waited for a moment, and then continued. “Let the Sword come forward, and let the heir follow the Sword and be received.”

An emerald green, gold-threaded carpet upon which the sword would advance and then the heir would advance also was unrolled by several handpicked attendants wearing traditional ceremonial dress, starting from a tunnel under the seats, in their centre, and working down toward the podium. As it was completely unrolled a drum roll began, long and solemn.

At the start of the drum roll came four acolytes out from that tunnel. They were carrying a wooden table covered in a felt cushion upon which rested the sheathed sword of In'ghara. It could be seen closely now. It was an old weapon, so very old, plain and simple and unadorned. All the preservation efforts of millennia had not prevented, nor fully reversed, some damage from corrosion and rust, but it was mostly intact, and safe to be used for the two ceremonies which it was called for, those being this—the coronation—and during a formal declaration of War before the Concovate of Nobles.

The sword's approach was attended by that glorious and solemn roll of the drums, unceasing and steady in power through the chamber. It continued right up until the arrival of the sword before the podium. There, the drums cut off and the table was slowly lowed to the ground. At that moment the thump of the wooden legs of the table could actually be heard around the chamber, for such was the solemn and holy silence that prevailed. The acolytes stepped away to either side and out of sight.

Trumpeteers now formed up with their long brassy horns along that splendid carpet, forming a wall around it with their horns crossing and raised high. They began to play, an absolutely splendid and very powerful fanfare. As they played, Saverana advanced. She was alone, wearing that splendid ceremonial robe and her armour under it—with no sword—and her hair pulled back firmly by a golden ring but without any adornment upon the head, though she would wear a helmet when she rode on the procession back to the palace.

She advanced at a swift but steady martial gate under the arc of trumpets which went over her, as they played their clarion fanfare. Arriving before the table and the podium that was in turn behind it, the fanfare reached its peak and then died down. As it did the trumpeteers turned and marched away to kneel toward the podium in ranks along the sides of the lower chamber. Saverana then in turn also knelt before the sword and the podium.

Once more the High Priest began to speak. “Princess Saverana of Ta'ert, daughter of Sikala. The sword of your ancestress and of the Daughter of the Sword of the Lord Justice is before you. It is your's by right of blood yet with it comes terrible responsibility. These responsibilities are not to me, nor to any other mortal. They are responsibilities to the Lord of Justice and to Him alone. I ask you with that understanding to come forth, to take this podium from me—to advance into your place as I descend into mine—and to speak the oath of your family which is issued forth only to the Divine and to no other, for it is upon those words that the right to the sword is upheld. Rise, Princess, and speak to your God.”

“I hear your words, Priest of the Faith of my Ancestors. I now, of my own free will, declare my intent: I shall rise and offer forth the oath to He who is my only Lord, both here and in the hereafter, the eternal Lord of Justice.” Saverana finished speaking, gaining a certain sort of courage as she did, and rose. She began to walk up onto the podium to the right side, as the High Priest descended from the right in perfect synchrony, standing in the place where she had knelt just moments before and looking up toward her.

Mouth dry, Saverana nonetheless forced herself to speak these sacred words which she had memorised and which, as she spoke, gradually became easier for her. “With the ranks of the nation in witness, Oh Lord, I come before thee.” She raised up her hands, looking skyward, now. “I raise my hands to thee, I turn up my eyes to thee. I face thee alone, but face thee as the most humble of thine servants, in knowledge of the burden of my blood and birth. I was put into the mortal realm in a lineage that you have blessed, Oh Lord, and I know the price of this blessing—I pray to thee that you shall keep it in my mind forever.

“I offer to you, Oh Lord, this Oath and Prayer. Give me your strength, Oh Lord, to uphold your laws, and punish me should I violate them. Give me your strength, Oh Lord, to extend the realm of your faith and to redeem souls; do not bless me with prosperity if I slack in these efforts. Give me your wisdom, Oh Lord, to be just and judicious in my course of action for the nation and for the faith. Do not let my gaze turn aside from the interests of your people, Oh Lord, and if it does, turn upon it the lash of righteousness and put me back upon the straight course. Let me defend with honour the rights of my vassals, and should I violate them, let your wrath fall upon me, Oh Lord. Keep me, Oh Lord, in your protection; but should I ever harm your church by malice or inaction, let this protection fall away. And when the faithful come before me in dispute, Oh Lord, let me turn mine eyes to the heavens and appeal to you for the foresight to resolve it, rather than sin in the giving out of justice, and thereby suffer your Just wrath.

“Oh Lord, these things do I pray, that I swear now to uphold them and beg to you that I be punished by your wrath should I fail to do so. Thereby, I appeal to you, let the dynasty of your Sword be upheld by my faith, or saved by my penitence, that the blood of the Sword shall be upheld till the end of the universe as the mortal example of your immortal and boundless grace. These things do I swear.”

Saverana lowered her arms and lowered her eyes. The high priest before her looked into her eyes solemnly for a moment, and then turned and addressed the assembled. “We are all witnesses to the Lady's proclaimation of the Oath to our Lord, the Lord of Justice. She has given forth her life in servitude to God, and thus shall it be that she shalt be girt with the Sword of In'ghara, the Sword which struck the Tyrant, and through it she shall receive our mortal obedience and adulation until the Lord sees fit to call her to the eternal Halls of Justice. This I proclaim as the necessity of the laws of the Kingdom and above all a just and righteous thing before the Lord.”

He picked up the sword, and began to walk around to the right, holding it in its scabbard, reverently in his old hands. Only two people could handle the blade alone, but only one of them could draw it. The High Priest moved between the podium and Saverana, who thrust her arms out, spreading the great robes of state clear of her armoured personage. And then, kneeling before her, the High Priest slowly affixed the scabbard to her belt, and then rose and retreated to the left side, bowing every other step. He reached the spot before the empty table and then prostrated himself there and began to pray.

With that signal the entire multitude within the temple reacted. The merchant lords and the deputies and the burgeoisie and the representatives of the guilds; all of these people knelt upon one knee, bowed forward reverently. The priests prostrated themselves and began to pray, a formulaic prayer in the old tongue which the High Priest had started which called down blessings upon the monarch. And then the ranks of the nobility stood, and drew their swords, thrust them up to the sky, and spoke as one:

“Hail! Hail! To the Empress we Hail! To the Great Queen, we Hail! The defender of the Farzian faith, to her we Hail! To the heir of the Sword, we Hail! Our swords are pledged to your service, and our loyalty and the loyalty of our heirs to you always. We hereby swear before the Lord to draw up from the scabbards our swords, unto the death, at your command, and we pray to the Lord that should they ever be drawn against you that our punishment shall be everlasting. To the Empress Saverana, so do we Hail!”

Solemnly, Saverana reached down and put her hand firmly upon the hilt of the Sword of In'ghara, and then she drew it forth, grasping the hilt in two hands and holding it up, the blade facing the semicircle of the seating and held rigidly up along her midsection. It was raised, and lowered, once. “I acknowledge your salute, my faithful vassals. Your pledge is taken; may we forever uphold our honour by fighting always as comrades—and with your pledge received, let not the Sword of In'ghara be drawn forth again 'till the Lord deems it necessary that I call for your swords in War.”

She sheathed the Sword of In'ghara and only after she did that were the swords of her vassals sheathed and did they begin to sit. Next Saverana turned to the prostrate, chanting priests. “Let your words for me cease!” Saverana declared, her voice carrying the necessary power for that line only by the giddiness at the sight of those drawn blades that was restrained in turn only by iron control. “I need not your blessings, for the Lord of Justice shall either bless me when I have upheld his word within this universe, or shall throw me down if I do not. Thus let your words cease, and arise, and go forth and do the Lord's work, for that is how your faith to me is confirmed!”

As the priests became silent, and rose once again, including the old High Priest before her, she turned her attention to the merchant nobles and the commons. “You have bent your knee to me, and your loyalty has been observed and recorded both by eye and by the eye of the Lord. Rise, and know that by the Grace of the Lord shall I forever strive to uphold and defend the freedoms which are your ancient right.”

The Empress Saverana turned and descended from the right side of the podium, and as she did the Royal Processional was struck up, the power of the drums and the clarion of the trumpets resounding through the chamber as she walked down the green, gold-fringed carpet, this time with the sword. At the last moment four specially chosen trumpeteers peeled off with her, and as she left the chamber, and only then, to the High Priest turn to dismiss the assembled.

Saverana went with those four trumpeteers—they were all female, and in fact acolytes, and had been selected for their ability to play and ride at the same time—who symbolically represented Taliya and Valera's three daughters, her escort on the field of battle, as now those four would escort Saverana and play her fanfare as she returned to the Palace. They arrived at the Temple annex where the Rostok were waiting. The trumpeteers exchanged their long trumpets for the short cavalry model and attendants, bowing ostentatiously, placed a golden war-helm upon Saverana, plumed with effavsur feathers, and secured it. The trumpeteers wore the silvered helmets of the Imperial Guard on that occasion, and in fact there was a Guard officer who was there to administer the oath of the Guard to them to bind them for the duration of the procession.

Several of the Imperial stable attendants helped Saverana up into the saddle, adjusting her robes for a suitable position as she rode on a rostok, and the trumpeteers were soon also ready. She sat out, with them following, and they returned to the processional route, the trumpets sounding a fanfare at a set distance. As they did, a full division of the Imperial Guard fell in behind them, this time, with their pennons fluttering in the breeze. All of them wore traditional armour and were armed as lancers, with their mounted band in the lead--albeit immediately behind the flags--playing the Royal Processional as they rode their rostok in formation behind the Empress and the Four.

As the trumpets sounded their fanfare the crowds along the streets fell to their knees at the approach of the Empress, and remained that way—and it was truly awe-inspiring, as the crowd knelt as one—until the Imperial Guard's mounted band passed playing the Royal Processional, which was the signal that they might rise. Behind the glittering pennons of the Imperial Guard division, then, came the varied ranks of the procession in order, as they arrived, with the sole addition of the High Priest who had rode in the carriage with the Princess Imperial on the way to the Temple, and now instead rode on a Yatila of his own at the head of the Priests.

The procession threaded its way through the canyon that the streets made between the high buildings toward the Palace, and beyond it in turn came a parade, with more popular forms of patriotic music and a military parade. Thus ended the coronation ceremonies of the Empress Saverana, heir of In'ghara and of the Sword, the second to bear that name.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Taloran Dating System:

The Taloran Year is approximately 3.2 Terran years long; it is divided into four seasons and each season is divided into four seventy-three day months (the Taloran day is approximately two minutes longer than the Terran day). Each month is divided into fourteen five-day weeks, four of which are working days and one is a rest day; there are also three feast-days of the Farzian religion in each month which are accounted separately from the weeks and have specific names, falling between the assigned weeks of that month. For government purposes, however, the days of the month are simply numbered 1 through 73. Days are divided into sixteen hours; each hour is divided into 100 minutes, and each minute into sixty-four seconds.

The names of the months are as follows:

Spring Months:
Summer Months:
Autumn Months:
Winter Months:

Some broad introductory notes:

The institutions of Talora are ancient constructs. For the most part they have developed through custom and through a long history of compromise in the competing elements of society. There is no formal codified constitution as such though there are a series of agreements, essentially treaties, which bind the operation of the State.

It first must be understood that the Taloran government consists of three principle divisions. The Empress or, as a literal translation would provide, "The Sovereign who commands the obedience of the Sovereigns over Kings," is explicitly the head of the government and executes all the national functions, but does not, in fact, directly administer that much Taloran territory; the governments of Lelola Colenta and Midela Colenta have vast autonomy and maintain their own standing armies and navies to defend it.

Within each of the directly sovereign entities, however, there are a variety of lesser entities--these are the various noble fiefdoms of the Three Sisters, as the monarchs of the continents are generally referred to. What should be remembered is that the Three Sisters do not govern all the Taloran nobility; they hold feudal priviliges over many in their roles as Great Queens, but many nobles, particularly from the Great Rift and Ring of Kavarae, hold their fiefs directly to the Great Queen of Grenya Colenta as Empress, as to many of the Border Marchionesses who have been established in their interstellar territories along the flanking "March" of Taloran expansionary efforts (which are mainly directed spinward). Several of the major planets have also petitioned, and successfully gotten, status as Grand Duchies; these are also administered seperately.

In all the Taloran Star Empire consists of nearly four thousand independent political entities united under the Imperial government; the Grenyan, Lelolan, and Midelan regimes each has about a thousand political subdivisions as well, creating a dizzying array of governments with a wide range of autonomy. Rationalization of the legal code was a necessary part of the development of a modern state but in politics there is little rationality to the political organization of the Empire.

One important matter to remember is that not all off the political divisions are headed by a noble; some of the states, particularly of alien worlds (viz. Terra) are republics operating under charter from the Empress. Still others have a long tradition of democracy which is sustained under effective autonomy--and this includes the famed Quesadi city states, including Qusadia, the shining metropolis of the Empire to this day in comparison with gloomy Valeria to the north which is the political capital and residence of the Empress. Certain political entities functioning as oligarchies of nobles who govern an area jointly also exist.

The issue is further clouded by the status of certain individuals who are elevated to noble titles without directly controlling territory. These individuals, "Nobles of the Exchequer" in colloquial, are actually often military commanders of commoner status elevated to the peerage by the Empress in reward for their services though some bureaucrats have attained such titles before; they are all distinct from the nobility--the hereditary patricians, properly--of the various republics which have them.

And at last there are the Farzian Orders. The orders control great tracts of land; the amount is greater in most of the nations than on Grenya Colenta, where Saverana I began a tradition of tight control of the hunger for land of the Temple Orders. On average throughout the Empire, however, about 15% of the land surface of any given world is owned by the Temples. Many of the Orders for historical reasons have positions in the Imperial parliament as part of the Second Estate, and their number of votes is increased by their territory.

The various election laws of the Empire have been clarified through the commencement of a generalized system of limited universal suffrage to the Third Estate. However, to maintain the priviliages of various groups as opposed to the individual, parliamentary seats at both the level of the parliaments of the Kingdoms of the Three Sisters and the Imperial Parliament have been granted to specific institutions, such as universities, labor unions, trade guilds, businesses, certain special interest groups, and others. This distorts the nature of the parliament to some degree.

Nationalism does not as such exist except a broad sense of pan-Taloran unity which is not really developed; most people identify with their immediate feudal sovereign or else the government of one of the Sisters first before the Empire as a whole; though personal allegiance to the Empress through a series of loyalty oaths, and the intense and serious nature by which such oaths are regarded, maintains what the Habsburgs would refer to as Kaisertreu--the ultimate loyalty of the whole of society, collectively, to the Imperial person.

Because of the variations in laws throughout the Empire and the long traditions that certain areas have in everything from language to the method of voting, relocation between sectors of the Empire permanently is sometimes difficult. A person, representing themselves before the government, who was born in Quesadia but lives in Valeria, can come and go as she pleases but when brought before court or in census reports would be stated to be "A citizen of Quesadia residing in the Capital," unless she were to specifically file a request for her place of residency and formal identification to be changed to a direct Imperial Subject in the capital.

This has discouraged the development of large-scale social services by the government due to the fact that the autonomous regions with control over those programmes would have to arrange for their own citizens in other areas to receive care (though, conversely, the judicial system often favours external residents since in a conflict between the law of two autonomous states the case is automatically transferred to the Imperial courts). Therefore the Temple Orders are the functional social services of the Empire. Due to the Farzian emphasis on the exercise of Good in society discrimination as such does not exist in the provision of these services; preaching, however, is another matter entirely. The wealthy can avoid it with private health services not dedicated to the Temples; but the Temples have a reputation for excellence, with the majority of priests and priestesses actually being trained doctors or nurses, since the Taloran equivalent of a seminary requires that in addition to theological training that the aspirant priest/ess learn a useful skill.

The one great unifying factor of Taloran society is the All-Imperial Military, which recruits from all sectors and nations; though the independant forces of the various feudal territories remain, the All-Imperial Military services to combine subjects from every corner of the nation and teach them to act in unity for a common cause.

Language reforms have also improved the general unity of Taloran society by creating a single universal language for the affairs of the All-Imperial Government, but the majority of Talorans are bi- or tri-lingual as a matter of course due to differing native languages which they have been trained to read. In'ghara's old unified Seal Script remains in use on formal government occasions and by the priesthood, and the fact that the oldest of the sacred texts were traditionally written in it, and in general the shared faith of the population, provides further glue for the feudal bonds of the State.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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Taloran Society

Taloran family.

The first issue in considering Taloran society should be to investigate the structure of the Taloran family unit. This is not a particularly easy task, as wide variation is possible and even likely. The specific Taloran family structure has much greater variation than in most human societies, primarily due to religious sanction. It should be noted that Taloran religion plays an immensely important role in the Taloran family structure, by sanctioning such unions are as permissable.

The Farzian religion regards marriage as a holy ritual which makes permissable sexual relations between individuals under specified terms. It is not necessarily permanent, though usually is or becomes so. Contracts, sanctified by priests, rather last for a fixed duration of time and then may be renewed; a permanent contract is generally encouraged, at least after the first renewal (though in more conservative areas immediately—this practice has become rare, however), and is considered binding. The contract, once made, cannot be broken; the Farzian religion does not sanction divorce, nor is it socially legal. Instead the government has largely focused on instruction which encourages couples to progressively extend the duration of their marriage contracts. In this fashion, save in areas which for cultural reasons have resisted this education, the rate of violation of Farzian marriage contracts is quite low.

Marriages are conceived of as being between individuals; they are not specifically monogamous, with both polygyny and polyandry being technically legal. Polyamorous relationships are, however, strictly forbidden: Permissable sex is between two people, even if one person is in a permissable relationship with several. Homosexual pair couplings, by long tradition in the lands of the Three Sisters, are sanctioned (per the belief that the Sword of the Lord Justice was fundamentally legitimate in her love for Taliya—though some argue this is an innovation from true Farzianism, but so is the whole concept of the Sword of the Lord Justice as well). Due to the lack of clarity in the exact head or font of the relationship in such a circumstance homosexual relations are generally limited to single pair couplings. Among the nobility, however, there is long custom for the openly homosexual to take a spouse of the opposite sex as a matter of duty in reproducing children; the farzian religious authorities typically permitted this with special dispensation.

Generally polyandry is limited to the noblewomen of the high classes on the three continents who desire to insure that they will have heirs, making sure that the potential infertility of their mate will not be an issue, and of course for purposes of political alliance. In the Ring Islands of Kavarae and the southern Rift sub-continent, it is unheard of, and in these areas, uninfluenced by the rest of Talora until the Taloran industrial age, polygyny is in fact still relatively common for men of wealth and stature.

Despite the relative confusion of Taloran familial custom the family structure remains strong. This is certainly due to the practice of maintaining very large extended families, with up to seven generations often living under one roof. A myriad of cousins, second-cousins, in-laws, nephews, nieces, older and younger siblings, uncles and aunts and grandparents, greater parents, and so on, are all commonplace for the Taloran household; house construction reflects this, being usually a central octagonal section with a variety of shared resources and facilities in it with wings radiating out from it which contain individual branches of the family. Mutually supporting family in this fashion is quite resilient, and the Talorans seem to handle it better than the sometimes suffocating atmosphere that this can present in human families; though certainly the numbers in one household rarely exceed 50, if that, and are usually around 20.

Control of a family generally falls to the eldest life-bonded couple, or to the survivor thereof if one has died. Women have a considerable degree of power, particularly old women, in dominating the family structure, and arranging matches, though in the later case that power has largely broken down; marriages are rarely arranged among the Talorans save in the noble and patrician classes in these days and are instead based on love, though family influence remains much stronger than in most human societies, and in the upper classes it remains absolute.

The making of life is a very sacred duty toward good, along with the proper raising of children. The Farzian religion emphasizes modesty, stoicism, familial loyalty, general moderation in all aspects of behaviour, and the sanctity of oaths. These values are ideally instilled in children from a young age, with the public schooling system being operated as a compromise entity between the particular autonomous state entities and the religious orders, emphasizing simultaneous religious instruction with indoctrination in feudal loyalty and loyalty to the overarching Imperial House, with the person of the Empress representing directly the State as a whole, being a necessary part of the education regardless of the particular state. The curriculum of the alien nations of the Empire is less standardized. Physical education focuses primarily around youth scout movements. Science education is the purview of the local governments with Imperial advisory bodies recommending the curriculum and focuses heavily on the physical sciences; social sciences are a fuzzy line between the religious orders and the local governments, which have a wide latitude over other areas of the curriculum. Schooling in the Taloran system is generally more advanced and extremely rigorous, allowing students to immediately specialize on entering collegiate institutions; most human students have to have taken a heavy AP course-load to fit in well at a Taloran institution. Family is considered highly important in maintaining the proper moral rectitude of children and essentially all juvenile delinquency is ignored by the law on the assumption that families will deal with it internally.

There are several methods of dealing with unwanted children in Taloran society. It is important to note that abortion is completely and entirely prohibited upon pain of death; instead a series of three alternative options exist for dealing with unwanted children: The first being the extended family, which usually raises the children of young females who do not have their own financial resources yet anyway; the Taloran legal structure has no child protective services or family law structure to speak of, as the matrilineal influence on the legal code means that children are always considered to be their mother's, without question; therefore the choice of the mother in the disposition of her child is in the forefront and usually this results in children being raised by the extended family if the mother is incapable of doing so herself. Alternatively she may give the child to the religious orders. They run extensive adoptive services throughout the Empire which rapidly match children to families—the goal, however, is to do so as quickly as possible.

Generally if a child is not matched to a family by the time he/she is one Taloran year (3.2 human) old, they go to the third option—the religious creches of the orders, which raise unwanted children to adulthood and provide for their collegiate education. These children receive excellent care and are educated through a carefully regimented boarding school system which generally raises functionally adults, if ones that are emotionally distant and cliqueish to other foundling children. A great number of the high potentates of the Farzian faith and most military officers who are not noble-born are raised in the creches, which are famous for indoctrinating a very stern loyalty toward the Empress. They, lacking a family, consider the creche system in moral terms to be their family and lavish attention on it accordingly as part of their religious duty toward family.

An important note is that children with psychic talents are generally taken into the orders during their secondary public education to be given particularly intense education at special schools, emphasizing their moral duty to control their abilities and to avoid the violation of the private minds of others, and also to remove the temptation of their use as security personnel from the hands of the government; the Farzian religion traditionally protects individual rights as being their best security against a general government effort to exert dominance over the orders, which has been attempted in the past.

Many families have traditional occupations which are still maintained from generation to generation; the term military family, or some other sort of occupation, here has real meaning, though of course there would be many members of the family in question not involved in the traditional business. This is encouraged by the broad family structure, which generally provides much more easily the resources required to maintain a specific industry in the family, and provides for training of apprentices by many different individuals with that skill who live in close proximity. This has helped to maintain the continued existence of trade guilds in Taloran society.

Taloran Socio-Economic considerations.

The differing economy of the Taloran Star Empire in some ways affects its society. In the first part, there is very little regulatory appartus over Taloran businsses. Though the business tax rate is fairly high (and the same for income and sales taxes)--in comparison to other states of the nature of the Talorans (it is exceptionally low compared with many welfare states, the combined tax rate falling at about 10% for individuals and 15% for businesses), there is, however, no land-tax, a legacy of noble interests, nor any inheiritance tax. The lack of regulation of businesses, however, completely compensates for this; without any regulations to meet, businsses are free to use their profits after taxes as they see fit, rather than meeting costly upgrades to bring corporation operations up to government standards. Contrarily, workers secure their rights through collective bargaining. Labour unions are an accepted fact of Taloran life and even have representation in Parliament; trade guilds and engineering brotherhoods fill out the ranks of the societies of workers with collective bargaining power, and also have parliamentary representation in some cases. Contracts, binding under law, are enforced by the judicial system if absolutely necessary but otherwise are a matter for the businesses and labour interests to hash out on their own.

One of the most important aspects of the Taloran economy is the fact that private debt is very limited in scope. This is due to the policy of the Farzian religious orders to offer zero-interest loans. These loans are funded through church tithing revenues and are offered to individuals only, not to businesses, leaving a healthy sector for large-scale loans to businesses in the Taloran economy which pay at interest, and therefore maintaining an extensive if elite and business-oriented banking system, usually run by the traditional banking families of the patrician class. The zero-interest loans available to all but the most dissolute Talorans (who must necessarily therefore turn to the equivalent of loan-sharks and pawn shops unless they can reform their credit in the eyes of the church) allow for investment into family businesses, the maintainance of family farms, sending children to universities, and other actions which maintain a healthy small business sector in the Taloran economy, preserve family farms, and keep rates of collegiate attendance high.

This has a countervailing interest, however. The religious orders would lose money if there was currency debasement in the economy. To prevent this, the religious orders have used their political clout to maintain first a gold standard in currency and then a latinum standard, making the currency very stable but also causing certain problems for the lower classes which the church must itself alleviate; ironically, the practice of making zero-interest loans, which drove the continuance of a stable currency, simultaneously made the maintenance of a metallic standard much more viable in the Taloran economy and it generally has minimal effects among the lower classes while maintaining the traditional advantages for business. A huge variety of coins are minted by various organizations in Talora, and most are accepted as legal tender in at least a swathe of regions, but the main Imperial currency is preferred for international transactions due to ease of recognition.

The lack of much consumer debt is further reflected in the teachings of Farzianism on modesty in behaviour, which creates severe social stigmas against ostentatious spending. Since the Church offers loans at rates which nobody else can match—their goal is to break even eventually, nothing more, after all—they are able to provide much disincentive toward the development of high consumer debt. Because of this, Taloran money handling is highly archaic and most financial transactions are handled in coins of copper, nickel, silver, gold, or for the very high denominations, pressed latinum itself as legal tender worth its established weight. Because of this, Talorans in general place a much higher value on tangible assets than other space-fairing societies, and land ownership in particular, due to this fact and also due to its status as generally an indicator of nobility, is very highly regarded.

Taloran Class Structure.

Taloran has a highly class-stratified society. The highest rank is of course the line of the Three Sisters, the descendants of Valera, who form the Imperial family and the cadet branches of Lelola and Midela Colenta's reigning Great Queens. Traditionally mainly intermarrying with each other and with, outside of their lines and their cadet lines in turn, the very highest of the other Royal families, they form the rarefied atmosphere of Taloran society. The All-Highest Empress is someone who most Taloran commoners do not even dare to look at in person. Pictures of the reigning Empress are placed in businesses, usually over a doorway so that all the patrons must walk beneath the feet of the All-Highest, symbolically. During news broadcasts showing footage of the Empress, most people rise to their feet, the same for listening to broadcast announcements of the Empress.

Historically Taloran society had the “95 degrees of obesience”, a strict code governing every possible combination of feudal rank and the appropriate posture and gestures to make around someone of that rank and particular class. These forms have, however, streadily broken down. Generally it is now considered acceptable to simply address someone by the honourific suited to their title and nothing more is required, though a polite bow from the waist toward hereditary nobles is considered good courtesy. Hundreds of words which once finely delineated every aspect of power in Taloran society have generally fallen out of use; in part this is due to the influence of the autonomous republics and in other ways it is because of the All-Imperial pretensions of the monarchy desiring to improve general loyalty to the centre and the resulting influence that has in the media.

Of the rest of the noble class—who generally refer to themselves as Citizens rather than Subjects and consider the Empress to only be the Highest Among Equals of the Convocate of Nobles—there are infinite gradations depending on culture and history and the title and land held which cannot be easily gone into; though among the interactions of the Taloran upper classes it is a fact that small gestures, particularly movement of the ears, conveys a great deal on the status and attitude of people interacting which a non-Taloran would find impossible to replicate or even understand and which elegantly add a great tenor to their words; to a lesser degree and with usually more exagerrated gestures this is true of all the classes of Taloran society.

Among the nobles honour is held as a fine-tuned weapon, and duels, often to the death, are not infrequent. Assassination is held in contempt but remains quite common for a modern society, and life as a noble is scarcely lacking in peril. Usually about one assassination takes place per Taloran year; most of these, however, are by anarchists and other political agents rather than those who have declared kanly, who handle things primarily by duels to avoid universal public shaming and exile. Beyond this, status within noble society, beyond inheirited title, depends highly on military service, and the pressures on members of the nobility to enter the military are simply immense.

Next is the Patrician class, which consists of the families of old hereditary wealth. These families are considered nobles, but of a different gradation; it is not, however, a morganatic marriage if a member of the Patrician class marries into a Noble family, so that there is a very considerable degree of intermarriage here. Commonly this class is a legacy of the oligarchic republics but their origins are often more complex.

Adepts of the religious orders are, despite their usual commoner status, accorded high respect, which varies with their own rank—which can include extensive temporal power—and can bring the obesience of nobles when of the highest positions and greatest power.

Commoners may be further divided between those in the professional guilds and brotherhoods, who are generally of a higher order, and include the legal profession and most intellectuals; those of the military, who are held in a slightly higher esteem than the professional occupations, those of the “new rich”, who are grudgingly accepted into high society but with whom marriage by nobles is generally forbidden (the customs are usually less strict with patricians), and then the commoners, divided between union labourers in the factories and those who own their own businesses or farms; the later is again in slightly higher esteem. The landless poor who are without union jobs are held in the lowest esteem in society and can treated quite arrogantly—only, however, if they have the stigma of being passed up for military service. The declaration that one is a veteran, even of the lowest rank, commands instant respect in Taloran society.

Generally, save for the very highest ranks, class interactions are fairly accepted, as long as they are couched in the appropriate terms of respect. Furthermore, between employers and employees, particularly in the families which have a long service to a particular noble, a great deal of familiarity can be expected. Professionals, likewise, feel little hesitation in criticizing an act of someone of higher class—as long as it is done with tactful words, and on a subject of which their expertise is pre-established. In that case the nobility for its part is raised not to regard it as a slight, and generally matters of honour are much more fought between nobles, regardless.

In the Quesadi City-States and other traditional autonomous republics, much of this class stratification is broken down into Patricians, Religious Adepts, and Commoners, and all call each other “Citizen”; this practice has to some extent served to dilute class distinctions elsewhere, especially since Quesadia is the principle cultural capital of the modern Empire, but they remain very much in force, and these local regions where camraderie and the idea of citizenship are the norm are more the rarity than not.

Taloran Collegiate Education.

Taloran universities offer degrees in 1 year, 2 year, and 3 year categories; these are of course Taloran years, so 1 year = 3.2 human years and a 1-year degree is therefore comparable to a human 4-year degree, as the course of study is more rigorous and more preparation is made during mandatory secondary education. A 2 year degree is somewhat between a Masters' and Ph.D. By human standards; a 3 year degree is higher, having no direct comparison, and is, for instance, what is required for a Taloran medical doctor.

There are a variety of Taloran universities. 1-year schools offering specialist training are scattered around through rural areas and minor cities—these are run by the local states; most of the rest provide full 3-year educations and are divided into Seminaries, State institutions, and Private institutions. Certain 4-year specialist degrees are also available, usually in very narrow and highly complex fields. There is a further division in the later two categories into what would roughly be called Universities and Polytechnic Institutes.

In general, Taloran Seminaries teach a combined course in theology and a suitable profession, since the Farzian faith requires that priests have a useful skill with which to minister to the people; most graduate as doctors (the rigor of the doctoring program in addition to theological study generally mandates a four-year course of study for Seminary medical doctors, sometimes five years if they proceed to neuroscience and other such fields) or nurses and other such specializations.

In Universities there is a programme of the classics which is pursued, including the study of Seal Script and a systematic understanding of philosophy, logic, history, and both native and foreign cultures. Linguistics, both in theory and in the study of various languages, is also highly important. Even the largest Taloran universities do not have more than sixteen specific liberal arts majors; the fields are very broad for 1-year degrees and more higher level specializations are added. Dissertations for philosophy majors remain the most rigorous by far. Most universities only have the traditional ten degrees in the liberal arts: Philosophy (including Logic), History, Linguistics, Taloran Culture, Xenoculture, Classics, Oratory and Writing, Music, High Art, and Performing Art, with specializations for higher level degrees.

Polytechnic Institutes conversely focus on the sciences, and feature a myriad of scientific disciples from the 1 – 3 year levels with advanced research opportunities equivicating to higher levels of study, heavy on dissertations and theoretical research, extensive theoretical research indeed being funded heavily by the government. A heavy focus is on producing scientists particularly strong in energy physics and materials science fields due to the demands of military research, though other fields are never neglected. For the most part Polytechnic Institutes operate without any interference, save the State's nudging toward military applications, though occasionally genetics research prompts complaints from the religious orders.

Social sciences are studied at both Universities and Polytechnic Institutes, and there is a great competition for their students between the two. Generally the more rigorous social sciences, with a heavy emphasis on those using game theory, cybernetics, and econometrics, are more apt to be taught at the Polytechnic institutes, whereas the less rigorous fields are more supported by Universities, though this is, in some cases, a stereotype, and the strength of many traditional universities in Logic allows for excellent doctoral research and students coming out of them, mainly in fields related to game theory.

Universities in general are heavily political institutions. The majority of the oldest private universities and polytechnics are non-profit corporate bodies which exist for their own sake. The majority of these in turn have seats in Parliament; in this way, foreign and even alien students have some right of influence in the Taloran government because they vote in the student body elections, which carry some weight—as the student body has very powerful representation to the college and its government has real power—toward the election of an institution's parliamentary representation, though the faculty has about equal power in this regard, the balance left to the staff. Debate on campuses can be raccous and freewheeling, and partisans for various sides of an issue are often known to riot, taking to each other with cudgels in the streets of university districts. This behaviour is somewhat less common in the polytechnic institutes. Professors engaging in similar disputes is also not unheard of.

For that, however, Taloran institutes of higher education have many more pure research positions, and many of these in turn are reserved mainly for the shunting off of lunatics who cannot be easily fired but are unsuitable for teaching; this means that the teachers are of the highest quality, and the most unstable and bizarre elements in the Taloran universities are pushed off to research posts where they are free to produce an infinite number of papers which are usually ignored by all. Those these create sinecures and creates waste, it improves the quality of the education experience.

Most poor students and foreign students stay in common dorms, which generally hold eight students to a suite in four bedrooms, with two bathrooms and a shared kitchen and common area. Wealthier students generally rent combined apartments built by enterprising landowners near the schools, or alternatively stay at the infamous Dueling Society Houses.

Dueling societies have been compared to fraternities and sororities on Earth; this is an entirely false comparison. Whether they are better or worse, however, depends entirely on one's point of view. Dueling societies, universally either all-male or all-female, are groups of people, almost always of the noble or patrician class (the lengths that wealthy commoners have gone to get into these houses are sometimes legendary, but they usually end up with quite unpleasant fates) and usually dissolute children who are not expected to inheirit. Whereas a human fraternity at a college is devoted primarily to pranks, pursuit of the opposite sex, a malicious gossip culture, and alcohol-fueled violence, a Taloran dueling society is devoted mostly to alcohol-fueled orgiastic homosexual sex and violent and pointless dueling regimens which see the members of the various Dueling Societies quite literally dueling each other for honour, status, and precedent in the gossip circles for their skill.

Physical beauty would be a paramount among the terran sorority girl; pity her, then, to find herself among young Taloran noblewomen, who gleefully neglect their studies in favour of the bloodiest form of dueling they can manage without constant violent challenges to the death: The tradition of the dueling houses to maintain a manner of fighting reminiscent of their vague Germanic collegiate equivalents, in which both opponents stand firm and strike at each other's faces with real blades, inflicting bloody cut after bloody cut on each other until one or the other yields. It is easy to tell someone who has attended a Taloran university at a dueling society; he or she likely has a face covered in proud scars which tell of her nominal exploits during her college years. Sometimes these constant “flower duels” escalate into serious bloodshed: Every few years there is a sore loser or another who, despite the best efforts of the dueling competitions to keep fatal challenges from being issued, goes ahead and makes such a challenge anyone, and someone dies by the sword.

Most serious nobles at the university disdain these dumping grounds for dissolute youth of wealth; they instead rent apartments for themselves, and usually take along a maid servant to maintain their quarters whilst pursuing their studies in solitary comfort. The particularly wealthy hire a recent graduate as a tutor as well, usually on a live-in basis. Commoners of wealth have, to varying degrees, attempted to found their own institutions on campus; the constant hostility of the dueling societies generally causes these to founder. Professional groups, or regional groups, are much more successful. Campuses are usually kept orderly by groups of army veterans who have received scholarships as part of their mustering-out and take it upon themselves by tradition to patrol the campus with heavy steel flashlights which double as clubs; usually only these soldiers can control the more erratic escapades of the dueling societies, since respect for the military arms is typically drilled into even the most worthless fops of the upper class.

Taloran schools have a (taloran) monthly study term; each of these is about the equivalent of 7 - 8 human weeks long and is followed by a break of roughly three human weeks before the next term. Sixteen such terms are required to graduate and thus a total of around 32 – 48 classes, depending on the intensity of the classes, which usually varies in about that range. It's generally so traditional to blow the first term in partying and excess as an example of being away from one's family and then settle down to being diligent for the remaining 15 of one's degree, such that schools never impose academic probation for poor performance in the first term.

Polytechnics generally retain a high number of their graduates for their research operations, and to a lesser degree universities. Loyalty to one's school is univeral in Taloran society and usually extends into cliques for literally centuries to come based on what school someone graduated from, in continuing the strong tradition of corporatism in Taloran sociey.

Social etiquette.

Talorans are, firstly, a rather quiet people, who rely much more on subtle bodily cues, particularly from the movement of the ears. Therefore the first perception one gets of Talorans is a rather dignified one: They are a proud, silent people, tall and graceful, who do not speak unless they need to. With tonal control over their voices they are much more easily able to convey messages without raising their voices—particular tones are given to words which have particular emotional connotations, and so the words themselves are at once given emphasis in a tonal language and simultaneously made ominous or pleasing.

For all that Talorans themselves at first seem quiet, their public places are a melange of sound. Due to the great dexterity of the Taloran body, as a genetic trait, they take easily to dancing, and the impromptu dance show in the street by a lower-class girl looking for cash is seen as amusing and never a distraction; announcements blare continuously from loudspeakers and usually music as well. Their cities contain a particular sort of chaotic energy, and even in the deepest warrens of the streets of the downtown districts of cities, light is provided for and the interaction of people is constant.

This interaction has certain particular laws to it. Prices, due to the continuance of the use of coinage, are often flexible in Taloran businesses, and a bit of haggling is to be expected before a purchase, as a formality if nothing else. The nature of this haggling—which seems nearly like a fight between a shopkeeper and a labourer—can change to quite obseqious when a noblewoman deigns to shop for herself, the owner appealing to Farzbardor for justice by a starving family at the offers of the Great Feudal Lady.

On entering someone's home it is considered apppropriate to remove one's shoes in the vestibule provided for this, and also the doffing of the coat if it is worn due to the climatic circumstances. Out of moderation, strong drink is rarely offered to guests, but a hot spice broth or other such beverage usually is, and it is considered impolite to refuse it. At meals the eldest is always served first, even if there is nobility present: For even a noble is expected to respect the aged. Seating is accomplished, however, according to social class; and by age only in distinctions within a single social class. After a meal—during which small-talk is acceptable but nothing more--guests usually remain to talk about events seriously; children will not be permitted during this period of socialization after the meal, though one of the oldest who has a skill in musical instruments sometimes places a soft and impromptu tune in the background.

In public it is important to give way before those of a higher class, usually with a respectful “Ma'am” or “M'lady,” the same is true of uniformed troops—indeed, soldiers often can hitch-hike their way from place to place, as people willingly accept a uniformed soldier into their car even when they are highly mistrustful of strangers. This custom of hospitality toward those in the military is reciprocated; one's comrades deal harshly with someone who takes advantage of it to commit a crime, usually before law enforcement can respond.

Professors and other academics are usually addressed as “Honourable Intellectual,” or “Honourable Teacher,” with the informality common in modern human institutions being quite unheardof at their Taloran equivalents, between teachers and students; students of the same major, however, often refer to each other as “comrades” as do military personnel, regardless of social rank. Those studying different subjects are usually treated according to the usual differential courtesy of classes, which is actually in that case a sign of slight contempt and pride in one's own chosen field.

At a perceived offense, Talorans are quick to apologize, and expect quick apologies in return for one that they perceive. Insulting people intentionally in public is considered exceptionally rare, as legalized dueling can lead to such incidents escalating rapidly. Taloran politeness is thus very prominent, though stems less from the natural inclinations of the people than, in fact, their shared prickliness over the subject, and it is advised that one can never go wrong with excessive politeness in the Taloran Empire and it may indeed even be adviseable.

Personal hygiene is also considered very important, and bathing is absolutely vital, though Talorans tend to prefer to accentuate their natural bodily scent rather than mask it; as they consider a healthy such scent to be a sign of a well-maintained body. Because of the importance that Talorans place in appearance on the flashiness of the hair and eyes and the scent of an individual, many humans traveling into Taloran-inhabited territory have found it useful to dye their hair, wear coloured contacts, and apply suitable musks and scents as Talorans would find attractive. This is, however, scarcely expected of such individuals.

Most of all it is considered the highest sort of offense not to give aide to someone who calls out for it; depending on circumstance this can even lead to criminal charges. Crime is kept low in Taloran cities due to the universal response to blatant crime, which sees a group of people instantly converging on the cries for help, when in earshot, armed with everything they can procure. Conversely, crying out for assistance falsely is considered the grossest abuse of trust.

Law and Society.

One would be very much mistaken to believe that the Established religion has a great sway over the Taloran legal code. It does not. The most obvious reason is that, of course, the religion is established and has real political power. This coincidentally transforms Farzianism from a political issue into a political organization, which means that the other organizations of the Taloran body politic regard it often as an opponent, particularly those which are provincial in nature, since the Farzian religion supports universalism as a matter of course. This has led to considerable opposition, particularly from the nobility, toward the expansion of religious law into society.

Because of this, other than issues on which the Church is prepared to spend extensive political capital to force the matter—as in the case of abortion (which was supported by the monarchy, anyway, over demographic issues)—there are rarely laws which directly reflect the beliefs of the Farzian faith. There is no legislated form of marriage whatsoever, leaving marriage a spiritual issue with the Church, and the same is true about most family law, essentially meaning that in legal terms marriage and family are issues strictly voluntary, entered into before the church: As far as the state is concerned, the only law regarding family is that, universally, the mother is considered the legal custodian of all minor children born of her own body until adulthood, and the courts only become involved over issues of step-children and adopted children. A particular process for removing children from the custody of a deranged mother is followed in which the courts first issue an appeal to the family for responsibility and failing that rule the child into the temporary custody of the religious authorities for a proper family to be found; though this is virtually unheard of.

There is very little effort to create laws in the government at the level of the feudatories or the Imperial parliament due to the generally feeling that Farzian values are universal, and due to the existing establishment of the Church. Rather, the nobility often defends things ranging from pornography to prostitution on the grounds of traditional freedom, to which “censorship and restriction of liberty are entirely odious”, and all of the various guilds defend their vested intersts tooth-and-nail and usually cooperate in doing so; for instance, the publishing guilds come to the defense of the writers of erotic literature and so on.

Therefore there is little legislation against so-called moral crimes in Taloran society, which are instead dealt with usually through religious and social stigmas, since of course the Farzian temples provide an important social element, and society has a degree of acceptable norms, with popular opinion and gossip turning against someone who violates them—openly. Discrete violations are almost always ignored, and accusations against people who behave in bizarre and immoral fashions can usually be sated in the public's eye with a duel—the threat of dueling makes such accusations very, very rare, and the press is much more polite and restrained in Taloran society because of it (to be replaced with conversations in little beverage-shops, which are usually very raccuous places of intense intellectual debate littered with anonymous broadsides).

In some sense, save on a few fundamental issues—abortion being almost the only one of note—Taloran society therefore appears, in law, entirely libertarian. In social practice this is not the case, and there are countless established social conventions which must be navigated, but the home is considered sacrosanct from the state and what goes on there is not a matter for public debate. It is important to note that the Talorans regard property rights much more highly than humans, and the sort of routine search warrant-based violations of human property on the slightest pretext would meet with gunfire on Talora Prime, and usually be applauded. Likewise, eminent domain and other forms of the requisitioning of property are entirely illegal, and Talorans frequently refer to themselves as being much more free than the people of democracies because of the fundamental protection of property rights—almost to a ridiculous extent—which their society enshrines. This has carried over to morality, and so what stays on private land is almost never a public issue, though of course the tendency of families to be very extended mitigates this in turn to some extent.

The one other area of occasional debate is genetic engineering. The Farzian orders oppose this, though to only limited success. It is universally acknowledged, even by the orders, that genetic corrective therapy is acceptable. Reproductive genetics are, though they are not directly supported by the Church, not directly opposed either, on the grounds that the creation of sentient life is not an evil act, though generally the use of genetic reproductive therapy remains a somewhat thorny issue on the feeling of “playing god”, but it is available in a myriad of forms for anyone with enough money. However, physical enhancement modifications are a serious issue for the religious orders and have been vigorously opposed, though the Imperial family simply went ahead and created a cadre of genetically engineered guard troops anyway, a fact which has been mostly smoothed over by later Empresses and the backlash against led to tight controls on the process of enhancement. Cybernetics is generally preferred throughout as being more morally acceptable; progress in genetic research, particularly theoretical, is rarely seriously interrupted by the efforts of the Orders.

Beyond this, if one looks hard enough or is discrete enough, Taloran law generally makes permissable whatever may be desired, though social conventions force many people to engage in a degree of secrecy around their behaviour. Public modesty is certainly important, and the immodest dress and outright, outrageous, flaunting behaviour of hedonists is unseen; but since an accusation of an illegitimate relationship can bring out a challenge to a duel, even social ostracization rarely results from a myriad of activities, and regardless, freedom of thought is sternly maintained.

The university system does a great deal toward aiding this, considering that it has parliamentary representation, and academic papers are entirely uncensored, unless produced by someone under a military contract to begin with. The press, again, has no restraints save for the fear of a challenge to a duel being levied against the editor by the outraged victim of a particular story. Entertainment channels generally have little restraint, though impassioned letter-writing campaigns curb any particularly egregious excesses. And of course, where nothing else suffices, the Taloran people are quite tolerant of public speakers in public places, even if they are usually ignored. In this way the offhandedly neigh-theocratic Farzian establishment proves itself not to have substantial teeth as a practical matter on the street.

One way in which Farzianism does retain a great deal of influence, and simultaneously reduces the government burden, is through their assumption of the roles of charity in society so completely. In addition to the creches for unwanted children, the Farzian religious orders, as noted, also run many universities, polytechnics, and of course all seminaries; they furthermore provide zero-interest loans to individuals, but in addition to all that, they also offer outright charitable contributions of food, and money if necessary, to the destitute, based on their own standards of means testing and qualification, which are entirely lacking in religious limitations: Farzians believe it an inherently good act to help others regardless of their own religious beliefs.

Farzian orders, because of the prevalence of doctors and nurses in the religious orders, usually control a huge number of hospitals and convalescent wards and so on; old-age homes are essentially non-existant on account of the staying power of the extended family to support the elderly. All of these facilities are free to everyone. Certain private for-profit hospitals offer treatment to the wealthy which is nominally better, though the Farzian hospitals and clinics take pride in their efficiency and care for patients. Some medical and charitable organizations for the poor exist outside of the Farzian orders on account of more agnostic nobles or wealthy individuals bequeathing their wealthy to establish such foundations for assorted personal reasons, providing a-religious alternatives, though the Farzian charitable system remains dominant.

Support for the poor from the Farzian orders usually combines work-study with the availability of low-cost housing, and the provision of food. Money is given only after more rigorous means-testing, and in all cases the continuance of support is provided only on careful investigation from the Farzian orders that the people in question are not behaving in a criminal fashion and are making serious efforts to improve their lot; due to the somewhat poorer reputation that the charitable organizations outside the orders have they're actually more stringent in this regard to keep their image up.

In this way the religious orders have much more control in Taloran society over the provision of social welfare, but far less over social and personal expression, than in most human societies.

Taloran Living Situations.

The common image of the great multi-generational farmhouse providing the labour for a huge area farmed by electrically charged tractors on a local reactor plant is not atypical; family farms controlling a few hundred acres remain very common throughout the Taloran Star Empire, thanks to the extensive agricultural subsidies toward the yeomanry, though as a matter of fact the great Noble Estates of thousands of acres which are planted and harvested with the help of migrant labour are just as common, if not moreso, and have certain advantages.

The fact of the matter is however that the majority of Talorans are in fact urban dwellers. Beyond the small towns, which usually have a conglomerate of many small shops serving the needs of the residents, beyond the specific colonies of the various guilds and the Invalides of the soldiers, even beyond the great company towns of the huge armour factories, there are of course the cities which hold, even when the other smaller towns are subtracted from the total, a definite majority of the overall Taloran population throughout the Empire, and on most settled worlds, which only the newest having mainly rural or small-town populations.

These cities are built vertically on an immense scale, leaving the majority of Taloran worlds prestine. The average Taloran urban area contains not less than 12,000 people to the square kilometer of surface, in gigantic towers which rise at the least hundreds and sometimes thousands of stories into the sky. For living space these are usually subdivided into condominions which have extensive garden space on the outer-faces of the usually multifaceted and terraced buildings. For light industry (as opposed to the great company towns of the heavy industrial sectors) these also suffice, and it can be incorporated nearly anywhere, with the buildings built to easily handle the weight of machinery and dampen the noise, and huge indoor malls with great halls and whole internal amusement parks and open spaces. Elevators are nearly as important as people movers as the transit tubes between buildings and the elevated urban railroads are.

Gardens in the cities are designed to maximize the light reaching them, so that the permitted heights of the towers is reduced toward the gardens, making the valleys which they essentially are between the great buildings less severe. In the garden districts, open-air markets and many small little single or two-story shops are permitted, allowing for an alternative to the internal spaces which would otherwise rule the life of the average individual. Those who have the wealth for their own home on property usually rely on mass transit; there is, however, a fair number of ground-effect vehicles in operation at any one time on many underground and multilevel elevated roadways stacked ontop of each other, since the cities are considered unsafe places for proper aerial transportation.

People identify strongly with a particular burough of a city and are likely to be proud of it, and city politics are certainly the most intense and fractuous of those in Talora, with people taking a much greater interests in the needs and interests of their city than anything else, since those governments are the ones which affect them most. Largely, Taloran cities are kept successfully clean, and the garden areas are self-policing, but the lower-level streets between the huge towers are usually the site of the most danger, with improvised structures or facilities built into the sides of the towers being the homes of most illegal activities, “in the shadow” as residents say (of the grand towers), where the effective red-light districts are. A Taloran city-dweller is certain to be knowledgeable of all of this and navigate the dizzying, tightly-pressed around of towers interconnected by transit tubes and elevated stations with comparative ease. In this way, too, Taloran cities minimize their footprint on the land around them and urban sprawl is all but nonexistant.

General Social Outlook.

Taloran society in general has an optimistic perspective, with an outlook which is vaguely progressive, in the sense that it believes that the future will be better. Talorans are inclined to be confident of their future prospects, for the most part, and regard the system as offering real improvement for their futures and their lives: Many, even most, do not, however, equate improvement with economic improvement, but rather with improvement in social status, though the two are to some degree intertwined, and at other times not. Because of this, military careers are much more socially acceptable and popular, as offering instant improvements in one's status in general.

Univeralism is mainly religious and/or related to loyalty to the Empress, i.e., those who are kaisertreu, and many regional and parochial attitudes those still predominant, though they to some extent break down in the colonies just to be replaced with similar attitudes based on the circumstance and location, purpose, and etc, of that particular colony.

Aliens are generally treated well as Taloran subjects though this is variable based on popular perception of a particular alien race; the majority of humans being monotheists has made them fairly easily accepted by Talorans, and so they are judged more as individuals than stereotypicalized.

Taloran society, coming from a tradition of history progressing toward a distinct end (the final battle of Good and Evil), therefore has emphasis on build-up, preparation, and long term improvement, making the Talorans people who are simultaneously very patient and very dogged in the general image of their day-to-day activities.

Miscellaneous points of interest.

In Taloran romantic relationships it's customary for the parties to initially exchange letters; asking someone out directly is considered uncouth. A date is set via exchange of letters, and generally, gifts are exchanged by both parties--which is not to say that things are exactly even, as it's considered appropriate to match every gift which is given with one of your own, of about the same value, so instead of simply alternating in paying for things, Taloran couples will frequently engage in the process of matching each other with gifts on a matter of course, and it is one of the few areas at which really extravagant behaviour is commonplace, mostly because everything ends up doubled.

Public bath-houses remain fairly common, and unisex; they are often open to the public for free, due to the belief that regular bathing is a very important sanitary consideration. Steam baths, usually though not always (in the Intu'in culture in particular) followed by a rinse in cold water, are certainly the universal standard.

The carrying of weapons in public is universally commonplace and sees no particular legal or social stigmas, though they are generally removed on entering a temple.

Art is predominated by artists, musicians, sculptors, etc, on retainer to the powerful nobles or more especially the Church, and so remains highly traditional. Architecture also rarely sees design innovation for beauty, though is scarcely utilitarian: Instead a vaguely neoclassical school predominates, neoclassical in the Taloran sense, which seems to terran eyes to be a syncretic mix of Near Eastern styles in general.

Crime and punishment.

The Talorans believe in the power of public spectacle in ways that modern humanity is most inclined to dismiss. Furthermore, they have a society which is based much more around honour than most human societies; therefore they regard the most suitable punishment possible for any crime to be humiliation, with the secondary punishment being fines. Misdemeanors are usually punished by fines, and gross misdemeanors by a combination of fines and being forced to stand on a busy street corner in a containment field for several hours, or for several hours over a period of several days, wearing an humiliating sign. In most cases the nobility is able to appeal to traditional priviliages to avoid humiliation and just pay extensive fines, though these are usually higher than for commoners.

For felonies a wide variety of punishments are available. Low-level felonies are usually punished by time in the stocks or a caning, along with fines, depending on the type. More serious felonies can result in much heavier fines which can cripple someone financially who is wealthy, or in a very severe 'whipping through the town' which can sometimes be fatal (this is especially common for kidnappers of children). For Imperial crimes of a lesser sort, internal exile to an inhospital colony world is common, and provincial governments commonly put repeat armed robbers and other people of that sort on chain gangs. Actual prison sentences essentially do not exist. A top level of crimes are punished by various kinds of execution; nobles are universally punished by decapacitation or firing squad, commoners are more commonly hung. Lese Majeste, Treason, and other “crimes against the dignity and person of the Empress” can be punished by death-via-exposure, though this is rarely carried out.

The punishment of crimes is something treated as public spectacle, in which it is encourged that people watch and gain a salutory lesson from the example of the convicted. Criminals are universally socially unpopular, Talorans lacking entirely the idea of the “rebel with a cause” as such, and their punishment is considered just, and a public amusement.

Personal defense against threats to both body and property is universally legal and accepted. The process for determining whether or not violent force was justified is simple and people rarely get in legal trouble for defending themselves.

The nature of the jury system and the appointment of magistrates varies with a great deal of combinations throughout the various Taloran polities, though in the Quesadi states and for Imperial crimes a trial by a jury of one's peers (literally—commoners by commoners, nobles by nobles) is sanctioned. Some Quesadi states retain the practice of a majority vote in a large jury of a hundred or more deciding the case. Universally the Taloran legal system is much simpler, and defending one's self in court is not foolhardy as it would be here.
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The Duchess of Zeon
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Major Cultures of Talora Prime:

Valeria: With a population of several hundred million, the massive Imperial Capital has its own unique melange or, in the terms of the 20th century Earth, "BBC Culture" which is nominally the Imperial standard but has little to do with it. It adheres the most closely to the detailing posts listed out above.

Quesadi City States: This is a rough term for the geographic from the south of Valeria and down the coast along the western side of the Quesadi Mountains. It has the most of the old pagan influences in a gently philosophical way and is probably the least religious area of the Empire. If not under the suzerain of the All-Highest, having sustained their freedom against Grenyan Dynasty, sometimes aiding them and sometimes fighting them, until the end, most would be disestablished religiously.

Quesadia is the grandest of the cities and has the richest cultural legacy, the Taloran Athens, but the cities of Fjalia and Girt are also prominent culturally. Generally the Quesadi are the Talorans who can be most understood by democratic humans, behaving in the least like Burghers of the Free Cities of the old Holy Roman Empire, and much like the old democrats of Athens; they are universally considered by other Talorans to be unreliable and flighty people, given to excess and usually parodied as excessively enjoying homosexual behaviour and generally being licentious.

Most of these parodies are not true, though the people of the Quesadi city-states are much more free-thinkers than elsewhere, much more political, and generally in a positive light seen as energetic. They certainly are in business, and they dominating the banking industry and most upper-level management in the Empire, with the old Patrician families of the more conservative families in particular controlling the largest of the banking cartels.

The Imperial Lands: Stretching from the Great Ina river in the north to Dalamar in the south and including the Ta'ert valley are the Imperial lands, also including the island of Rasilan. These are the traditional lands of the Empire of In'ghara and her heirs, and they are the lands most closely in tune with the Imperial stereotype of the militaristic landed junker, ironically in contrast to the view of the Empire usually put out from the capital itself, but common enough among aliens. These are the "Taloran Prussians", in short, though in fact the hearty landed farmers of much of the area are stubborn in defense of their property as well and are just as solid as the yeomanry of Britain. Rasilan, though being included here, has always been continuously independent of Grenya Colenta; it is simply the similarity of their cultures which merits inclusion. The Retgariu Dynasty, the native rulers and descendants of Moloyr's Marshal Retgari, have more assiduously developed a naval power and thassalocracy, ruling both Rasilan and the coastal plain of Grenya Colenta in that area, but their basically similar outlook to the Imperial crownlands can still not be ignored.

Quesadi Mountains and the Divide Desert: The home of Farzianism, these are the most extremely conservative religiously areas of the planet, though the desert is lightly inhabited, and the mountains scarcely more, being terraced extensively for their limited farming value. Thus ironically the most traditionally tolerant and fanatical parts of the Taloran peoples reside right next to each other, usually no end for trouble; the "Desert yokel" helplessly wandering around a Quesadi city and making a buffoon of himself is a popular stereotype there, but as a truth, though they may be socially backward, they are an exceptionally honourable people who are lavishly generous to guests.

Northern Lands: Never fully subdued until the industrial age these are the lands of the stern northern barbarians who often threatened and sometimes overran much of the Imperial lands, making the modern culture of both some of a melange between the two. The Northern Lands are less obedient of Imperial authority and so the communitarian heresies are somewhat more popular here; generally however the Northerners have a rather bland reputation, as farmers like the Imperial landed, but without their militancy, which is scarcely true, even though it is a common belief: They have a long tradition of excellent regiments. The people here are, as a more positive note, less likely to be bound to their careers and fairly aggressive about improving themselves.

Intu'in: The Intu'in subtropical areas, the bedrock of Valera's support in the revolt against Moloyr and the home of the Ras'merin Kingdom who's ruler married In'ghara at the start of the Grenyan dynasty, are considered to be nearly as licentious as the Quesadi City-States, though with a firmer moral grounding in general, views that are often contradictory. Their cuisine is popular throughout the Empire and the biggest problem with the region was that its often unusual social views (including matrilineal descent/inheiritance which is now universally common) that have led to it being the birthplace of several communitarian movements. The people of this region are considered particularly beautiful by Taloran standards.

Dalamar: Some of the darkest skinned Talorans live here--which isn't saying much, as Talorans genetically don't have nearly the pigment range of humans. Their skin is noted for a sort of darkly green cast which would be highly sick-looking in humans but is normal for them. They also have a higher incident of blonde hair than other Talorans, and are often derisively called "whiteheads" because of it, since colorful hair is considered particularly attractive among Talorans, often moreso than body shape persay. It is, however, sometimes said that Taliya's family was actually Dalamarian exiles to Trilune before she came into the service of Moloyr, and some agnostic historians have suggested her defection to Valera's cause was actually carefully planned to disrupt Moloyr's invasion of Dalamar, though this seems dubious considering that at least several generations of her family had been loyal to Trilune.

Dalamar is very rich in mineral wealth and the stereotype of people from the region are Union Miners, who are more at home underground than on the surface; Dalamarians, regardless of actual skill, are highly sought for preparing underground tunnels for civil defense infrastructure on other planets and the emplacement of industry within them. They are said to drink to excess and be prone to wild fighting, without being much good soldiers, though as usual with such things, though the stereotype has some hints of truth in it due to history of the province (the legacy of the Kings of Dalamar in the field of war was quite poor), it has settled down to being both nicely Farzian and also a quite normal and stable part of the Empire, with its inhabitants stretching out to be part of the colonists for nearly every planet of the Empire which has been colonized.

Lelola Colenta:

The Leluno Mountains: This area is the most trusted bedrock of the Lelolan branch of the Dynasty, ruled as an Archduchy by a cadet branch thereof. It was the area first conquered by the Lelolan branch, and is solidly Farzian and adheres to the idea of society which In'ghara imparted into her people. It includes the highest mountains on Talora Prime, and the most severe. The people of the mountains have a reputation as excellent mountaineers and as quite tolerant, though by general inclination they are conservative among themselves. As with most of the areas under the Lelolan or Midelan branches, the locals are generally thought more loyal to the Great Queen of their lands than the All-Highest. Natives to this area are incredibly adapted to a general lack of oxygen, though there is a stereotype of drug use to counteract its effects, but the practice is actually rare and most of the stimulants not actually addictive.

The Central River Valleys: Lelola Colenta is divided between the eastern and western plateaus and the central lowlands which include two vast rivers flowing across the whole continent from the great uplift of the Leluno Mountains in the north. This area was naturally what the Lelolan branch invaded next after consolidating its control in the mountains, and for the following thousands of (human) years the dynasty successively conquered the valleys and the land between them, lost them to barbarian invasions from either of the plateaus and retreated back to is impregnable mountain fastness, and then recovered, and issued forth to overcome the barbarians who had in the meanwhile gone to fighting among themselves, a process which happened dozens of times over in the history of Lelola Colenta.

Because of this the population is a mix between the original inhabitants, who are generally stereotyped as simple-minded peasants dominated by a rather autocratic nobility, and the warrior caste of the half-civilized and usually halfbred descendants of the invading barbarian tribes from either side, who, when decimated by their tribal enemies and overcome by the resurgent armies of the Lelolan branch, tended to end up with land grants like a thematic system in the two valleys to hold them against their still-uncivilized cousins. In this way the central area of Lelola Colenta has a reputation as being the most class-conscious location on Talora, which carries over to its people in every corner of the modern Empire, and having nearly a caste-structure in their culture.

The Genesis Forest: This is a translation of the Taloran name; the western uplift, where it is now understood that the Taloran species evolved. It has actually gone through several periods of forestation and deforestation and it's believed that the Taloran species may have evolved to what it is during a period when the forests were disappearing. The people here are, despite being nominally the progenitors of the whole species or because of it, are actually considered to be some of the most noble of Talora and not primitive at all, though many traditional customs persist, and they have a reputation as great fighters and having the slimmest bodies and generally being the best dancers. The area pays a high traditional virtue on one's navigation skills and has yielded many pathfinder regiments.

The Jeradi Jungles are actually more a temperate rainforest, following a rather common fact that many areas in Taloran history are rather misnamed from what is correct, the most egregious being the Great Rift Reef, due to historical errors in knowledge entering the common language eradicatably. The people of these jungles, essentially barbarian tribes before the Lelolans overran them, due to their different circumstances adopted different styles of fighting and modes of behaviour; they are more reticient than other Talorans and less fixated on open declarations of honour, and because of this have a reputation as cowards, backstabbers, and thieves, though they are in much demand as assassins, often regardless of actual skill. To overcome this stereotype, many work hard, particularly in technical fields and the church, which they have higher than average representation in.

Midela Colenta:

Northern Peninsula and the Honaki Islands:

The powerbase of the often maritime-oriented Midelan branch of the dynasties of the heirs of Valera, the northern peninsula, already having a thriving city-culture, was overrun in ten years of campaigning during the expeditions of Valera's daughters, and entirely remade in the image of the Ta'ert as Gaul was remade Roman. In some ways it is more like the Ta'ert these days than the actual Ta'ert is, which has long ceased to be the power-base of the Grenyan branch, since the days of In'ghara herself as a matter of fact.

With them are the Honaki Islands, which due to the prevailing winds and currents are the best way to reach both Midela and Lelola Colenta by sea; because of this the Midelan Dynasty always tried to maintain its wealth even when it controlled little of the continent by maintaining a powerful navy which could smash the forces of the Quesadi City-States and dominate the trade routes through the Honaki Islands. Since they have a long legacy of bearing the fortresses and garrisons of Midela, the Honaki islands are quite similar to the northern peninsula though with more of a nautical bent to their outlook, which remains heavily based on the products of the sea for survival and thus permeates their culture; a disproportionate number now live in space and serve in the navy.

Northern Midela remains one of the more conservative areas of the continent as it was the least threatened by barbarians due to its advantageous geographic position and shape; the people there are the stereotype of claiming that they are the only true holders of Taloran culture while others, from Grenya Colenta, have a tendency to laugh at this. They are, nonetheless, a very proud people with a military legacy as good fortress troops who are stoic under sieges, and universally are considered calm deliberators, and good politicians under an Imperial government--good, meaning reliable, as opposed to demagogues and other firebrands.

Western forests: Only truly fully tropical area of Talora Prime, the western forces of Midela Colenta have a legacy of oppression in the rather savage late-period conquest carried out by the Midelan dynasty; this shattered their traditional clan-structure based culture and left them fall back on the Church missionaries to restore them. However, at the same time, immense progress was being made in Taloran society, and the people of the western forests succeeded in simultaneously building up a religious identity and one as full participants in the modern technological society. Though the forests now remain, they are mostly preserves, and the population of this area is predominantly urban.

Southwestern plains: Largely independent of the rest of Taloran culture until the age of exploration and conquest, the area has a reputation for holding the remnants of its local paganism and simultaneously being rather rural, in contrast to the western forests to its immediate north. Though cultural clashes with the people of Grenya Colenta and the northern areas and Lelola Colenta are all quite common, and there remains some real tension, they actually integrate quite well into broader society, and the people of this region have also gone on to be involved extensively in colonization, in no part due to the fact that the birth rates remain the highest here of any region on Talora Prime.

Fertile Valley: This area is actually a recent development in Taloran history, as the eastern desert of Midela Colenta; however, the great potential water resources in the area were tapped, with height-differential lakes along the coast being created (due to below-sealevel areas inland of the coastal uplift), and extensive artificial rivers created from great mountain reservoirs. It was settled by people of every ethnic group and culture of Talora, and the people here are generally regarded to have a great work-ethic, to be largely unpretentious (unlike the other "homogenous" BBC culture of the capital, which is highly pretentious), friendly, and commonsense/folksky, though also rather religious. Ironically this also comes with it a general trend toward more progressive politics, and extensive interest, due to the history of the area, in terraforming projects on other worlds, to which the population here--growing at the second-highest rate on Talora Prime--exports many people. The traditional desert inhabitants are essentially gone after the completion of the project, though remnants of their nomadic culture remain on the fringes.

Nukiloy Mountains: Barbarian tribes with a fierce disposition as warriors who often threatened the Midelan dynasty in the north are the reputation of the people who reside here. For once, it's most true; the people still cling fiercely to their old virtues, though these days they are exceptionally loyal to the dynasty. Still, the area is somewhat undeveloped (defying expectations that it would develop much more rapidly), and soldiering is a prime profession. Outsiders are regarded with more suspicion here than elsewhere on Talora Prime, as a general rule.

Periphery of Talora Prime:

The Great Reef: This is actually a huge subcontinent, indeed, many argue that it is a full-fledged fourth continent to Talora Prime, being of immense territorial expanse and certainly far beyond the size of any island. Very rugged territory, the initial Taloran explorers to reach here in the very beginnings of the Taloran industrial age believed, due to geological theories of the time, that it had actually been formed by coral buildup over millions of years, and so it was name The Great Reef. This was later proven false, but not before the name had stuck.

The cultures of this continent were totally alien to the Talorans of the age, arriving as they were in wooden-hulled, iron-armoured hybrid sail and steam frigates. Knowing only the working of copper and the beginnings of tin- and bronze-working, they were totally unprepared for rifled musketry and steel bayonets, let alone the shock of the charge of the rostok, which had never before been introduced to this distant land; nevermind, above all that, Yatila carrying primitive breech-loading cannon instead of war towers in that modern age.

They collapsed at the first onset, their cities were taken, and the sub-continent was chopped up, divided between the Midelan and Lelolan governments. They worked aggressively to annihilate the cultures there, engaging in forced conversions to turn the people away from the barbaric and bloodthirsty gods they had previously worshipped, and generally created the foundations for industry and modern society there. They would have been successful, if the Empress on the unification of the Taloran peoples had not stripped these colonies from her fellow Great Queens and made them an Imperial region; there, more tolerant methods were applied, and some legacy of the old cultures survive, including the fact that in many areas a patriarchal system and inheiritance remains more commonplace in the remote vales, though the cities are quite modern to Taloran sensibilities. The Church has more influence here than elsewhere to keep an eye on the populace out of old tradition, though this is still very light; the sub-continent generally seems abandoned, and with a more hopeless air, since it has seen a huge diaspora to the outer worlds, where the most optimistic and fully Taloran of its people have ended up going.

The Ring of Kavarae: Named after its discover, a Lelolan Marchioness, this is an archipelago of islands that is all that remains of a huge impact crater more than a billion years old; it has formed a ring with a center island, with many points of erosion to let the sea in, but still huge islands, which are highly populated. Far enough off the coast of Lelola for contact to be rare but close enough that iron-working was developed here, it became a notorious haven for piratical clans which were suppressed over a period of centuries. Still under the authority of the Great Queen of Lelola Colenta, the islands have a reputation for producing many great naval officers, including the noted ancestors of the space-living Countess of Kriesdihl, who was victorious in the war over the Quadruple Entente.

Ghastan Island: To the southeast of Grenya Colenta, it was colonized by the Grenyan line of the dynasty, which preferred indirect rule and which ultimately succeeded in largely civilizing the primitive populace to a standard not dissimilar from the people of the main Imperial lands, though their customs are considered somewhat backward, the women have a reputation as slatterns, and patrilineal inheiritance still persists in some isolated areas here as well.

Ytalla Island and the World-Ocean Islands: Vast strings of volcanic hot-spot Islands, like the Hawaiian chains, stud the world-ocean on the far side of Talora Prime from the tight conglomerate of the three main continents and attendant island-chains and two major sub-continents. Finally reaching the centre of the ocean is a huge, weaving line, an immense rise in the oceanic shelf, where two oceanic plates collide with each other. The volcanic forces here have raised a series of volcanic chains stringing the northern polar continent to the southern. And in the middle of these, somewhat to the south, is the most distant of the Taloran continental landmasses. Ytalla island broke off first from the super-continent which had existed early in the life of Talora Prime, a much younger planet than Earth, and rammed its way north through the boundary between the two oceanic plates, an initial separation from the great southern polar continent which soon followed it, ahead of the rest of the breakup.

This creates the unique position of a continent separate from the rest of Taloran evolution for so long that its major life-forms, almost all reptilian, all have six limbs instead of four; and these colonized the volcanic islands surrounding it. The continent, or sub-continent, of Ytalla, 98% of the landmass of Australia in size by comparison, has been torn and shattered, leaving bits of itself as other islands of much greater geologic age to the south, and stretched so that the north of the island resembles a claw with two massive fjords hundreds of kilometers deep running between vast mountain chains. It is here that the most remote and bizarre of Taloran civilizations developed, primitive seafairers who hardily colonized these islands.

They maintain today the most of their old, pre-Farzian traditions, on account of their ferocious resistance to the Rasilani and Lelolan colonizers who fought over them. Protective of their homes, their skill in fighting bizarre and poisonous beasts make them prized hunt-masters throughout the Empire, and the colonial system of government remains largely intact because of a lack of interest of all involved to change it. Their approach to the Farzian religion continues to be a distinctly missionary one, most similar to the south-sea islands of Earth and their reaction to Christianity, and the islands themselves, a strange, temperate-rainforest paradise like New Zealand, are prized as the sites of numerous retreats of the wealthy nobility, where they can pit themselves against the most dangerous fauna of Talora Prime.

Northern and Southern Ice-Continents: Talora has Antarctica equivalents at both poles; they include many islands and peninsulas, and some areas of land, which are about as mild as southern Patagonia, the Falklands, or South Georgia island, however, and therefore were colonized by the united Empire after many forays during the period of continued war. The people here are thought of as hardy, and loyal to the All-Imperial dynasty, but very stoic, as befitting their climate, and boring, with a reputation, also, for insanity, which is mostly related to the immense privations of the continents during the extreme cold; alcholism is also a problem, though one that has been mostly alleviated in the modern dome cities which now cover these continents on every area not buried under massive ice-sheets and provide food and the working of minerals as professions for the colonists, along with the comforts of more tolerant latitudes.

The Space Cultures:

Because of the Taloran habits of providing autonomous colonial regions to a particular area of territory on the surface of the planet, most of the preceding cultures are extended into space in a great many different areas, and so the cultural identity of most space inhabitants is basically similiar to one of the cultural groupings listed above. The exceptions are within the Talora Prime system itself, the pre-FTL colonies, and the Concordat, which will be covered below, along with some regional stereotypes for the other areas.

Orbital Habitats:

During the long period before the discovery of FTL drive many orbital habitats, essentially large steel cylinders in space spinning to provide artificial gravity like Gerard O'Neil's designs in the 20th century of Terra, were built in orbit of Talora Prime--thousands of them, in fact, with a population in the billions. These artificial worlds, the home of the spacenoids for lack of a better term, have peculiar habits and their own distinct culture, which is much more technocratic than the norm of Taloran society, and has an almost hyperactive obsession with cleanliness, though bathing rituals themselves are less formalized and focused on relaxation here.

They are also generally considered to be, contrarily, those who uphold Farzian virtues in practice the most, being immensely modest and used to privation and resource-management due to the limited atmospheric and environmental resources of the colonies (though mineral resources from asteroid mining are vast). So though a bland people, they are nonetheless quite often praised and seen as an example of Taloran adaptability.

Outer mining colonies:

The outer mining colonies, the actual place in which the Countess of Kriesdale was born, are places which have a reputation for being fairly low on the scale and impoverished; though the mining itself is a lucrative activitiy, little of the money got out to these distant outposts in the days before FTL Drive, and things were only just improving, for even the nobility, with the effects of the buildups of the Jikar War, when the War of the Quadruple Entente set things back considerably. The area has a reputation of being quite immoral, and the residents as being ranging from eccentric to simply insane. There have been several revolts in it, though these largely ceased after the Countess of Kriesdihl got into the navy and instituted recruiting reforms which allowed many children of the outer colonies to join up, and to this day it has developed in itself a strong and unfailing reputation as an area of great officers for the Starforces and the Fortress Troops, who are resourceful, cunning, and brilliantly adapted for space-living.

Talora Secundus: This immense desert planet is different from dune primarily in that its two dune seas are separate from each other, and it has major mountain ranges and uninhabitable plateaus, and expanses of scrubland. The seas are Endorheic in nature, deep and old bodies of water, and their shores and the mountains, along with a few Oasis, provide the main areas of habitation. The Kingdom of Rhistahl claimed much of the surface initially and managed to hold it, forming one of their few sizeable off-world possessions, where they have been improving the liveability of the plateaus and drying to induce more rainfall. The rest of the planet is split between a few small enclaves of other nations, and the bulk of the remainder, in the hands of the Imperial possession of Dalamar Province. The planet, with its high mountains and vast, wasted deserts, breeds a puritan severity usually not seen in Taloran society.

The Distant Realms: So coined in early space exploration, this is a reference to those who inhabit the planets in direct orbit of the third star of the Talora system, rather than the double-star at the centre of the system. Here there is one planet which could have been habitable, had it not suffered a massive impact which still causes very severe volcanism. This planet, with a population now of some millions in reinforced and sealed colonies, is reaching a point where it is starting to become habitable, and is the "last frontier of the home system", while numerous spill-over artificial habitations and mining colonies surround it, taking advantage of the resources of the asteroids and planets of the third star as well, which collectively make the Talora system vast and suitable to serve as the heart of an immense interstellar Empire.

Pre-FTL colonized worlds:

These worlds were colonized by world ships and cryogenic sleeper ships before the development of FTL drive. There are several dozen, and each has a dinstinct culture, sometimes drastically so, sometimes a "neo" version of the cultural region of Talora Prime from which the colonists originated. These areas heavily industrialized as they developed, having to be self-sufficient, but their industry languished when reintegrated into the Empire for the reason that goods were available cheaper from elsewhere, and because of paranoia over breakaway movements, since most were reincorporated by force; therefore this area is essentially the Taloran rustbelt. Saverana II's predecessor and grandmother had made it one of her main goals to restore hope and prosperity to these long-languishing planets, and her efforts were beginning to show real fruit upon her death, but they still have a generally poor reputation in the Empire.

The World of the Concordat: Joint Taloran/Jikar settlement, the Talorans here have a reputation as having developed some of the aggression of the Jikar, and also being a general melange of all the other cultures of the Empire, which has led to them being regarded as one step above aliens themselves, something which they are often proud of; though they are just as loyal to the Empire as any other, that said, their differences have of late by accentuated by their own will in the distinctiveness of their multiracial society living amongst the Jikar.


Inner or Core worlds: Unlike the pre-FTL colonies these, though they share traits of heavy industry with them, are prosperous worlds, usually autonomous under their own Archduke or Archduchess, and have great power and political influence. The great shipyards of the Empire have been built up here to reduce dependence on one system as part of the lessons learned in the War of the Quadruple Entente, and they are considered the coruscating gems in the crown of the All-Highest.

The March Lands: The March are the lands which border on areas where the Empire is not directly focusing its colonial energies, and to fend off alien threats there are highly militarized and exceptionally fortified--armies with states attached rather than the other way around. The Border Marchionesses are all soldiers first, and combat is not uncommon here, though never spreads beyond it; the Marches have a great deal of pride in preventing enemies during the occasional general conflicts the Empire fights here from reaching the core until the fleet can be mustered and concentrated to counterattack.

Inner Colonies: This region are the more developed colonies, though distinct from the core, and hence seen as rather bland places, where the cultures of Talora Prime predominant, with little identity of their own distinct from the homeland, unlike the more developed Core worlds.

Outer Colonies: Adventure! Danger! Opportunity! The wild west of the Taloran Star Empire, in short, though most people who move to its worlds have to expect privation for some decades or longer as infrastructure is built up. Cultural distinctions remain, but a shared bravura at being part of the frontier movement of the Taloran species unites even those of the most different cultures with a certain sort of justified pride. Colonies must be largely self-sufficient and may only be visited by a trading merchant once every year, or even less often. Farming is the predominant occupation, and frequently on a subsistence basis, the inhabitants gambling on the long term, where they will become prosperous and developed enough to export and grow wealthy ultimately, and in the meantime survive on their own sweat, with first pick of the finest lands, unlike in the interior worlds where the nobility largely dominates such lands, and rents them out to tenant farmers in the old feudal custom.
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2007-11-19 07:23pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Duchess of Zeon
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The Heirs of the Sword and the Nobility of the Convocate:

-- All the following are the ranks of the nobility which hold the right to sit at the Imperial Convocate, that is, who hold their titles directly below the Empress.

The All-Highest Empress: The literal translation of the title of the Taloran Empress, called Her Serene Majesty, is "Great Master of the Kings of Kings", in the neutral masculine. Its closest equivalent in any human language is Maharajadhiraja Bahadur, which translates into English as Master of Kings of Kings of the Highest Rank, but this rank was used to elevate the grandiosity of lesser rulers in India and never was associated with such stature as the Imperial Taloran Throne. The Maharanidhirani Bahadur, in the feminine and using the Hindi for convenience, is the Font of All Honour in the Empire and the supreme guardian of the Unitary Farzian Temple Sects, or simply Farzian Church. In referring to the Imperial Throne the proper reference is "The Sword" rather than the throne, as the only symbol of the Grenyan Branch of the dynasty by custom is the Sword of In'ghara. The Imperial title may be held only by women of the primary Grenyan line, i.e., direct female line descendants of In'ghara, save in the case of the extinction of that line.

Maharajadhirajas: "Great Queens" in normal English parlance, though actually Masters of Kings of Kings in the literal neutral masculine rendering, this title is held by only the Three Lines of Valera, the descendants of In'ghara, Taradrua, and Fileya. In'ghara's line, though the youngest, has the precedence due to their holding the heartland of Moloyr's old Empire and having defeated the other two branches early in the history of the dynasty, and because they are long regarded as having been chosen by God as the foremost, during In'ghara's famous single-combat with Moloyr. Taradrua's line as the oldest has the next precedence, and her heirs rule the bulk of Lelola Colenta. Fileya's branch is the least in precedence, known as the Midelan branch, and rules the bulk of Midela Colenta. All three of these titles hold with them countless secondary territories, plus rights of reversion over many territories held in appanage. Addressed as "Your August Majesty". They hold countless off-world colonies which are usually ruled by lesser nobility who do not hold seats in the Convocate. Many of the huge orbital colonies with populations of millions are parts of these Empires within the Empire.

Kings of Kings: This title is currently held only by the King of Kings (or Queen of Kings, depending on the ruler) of the island of Rasilan. This line claims a mixed line descent from General Retgari, the commander of Moloyr's Right Flank who came to a compact with In'ghara, and in the secret histories was claimed to be her lover. He holds countless off-world colonies which are usually ruled by lesser nobility who do not hold seats in the Convocate. Many of the huge orbital colonies with populations of millions are also parts of this realm. Technically this title also belongs to the Grenyan branch six times over, the Lelolan branch three times over, and the Midelan branch twice over, but these conquests are typically referred to only under the title of "Queen of" in the titulary of the Three Sisters. Technically the rulers of the old Empire of Dalamar should also be entitled this method of address, but the last heirs of the Great Kings of Dalamar were killed in a communitarian uprising--Dalamar was an old hotbed of such sentiment--which was suppressed by the Second Empress, after of which Dalamar was made into the only Imperial Province on the surface of the planet, which is usually given in appanage. Addressed as "Your Majesty".

Archduchesses: This title in the Taloran tradition refers to one of the senior princesses of the Valerian Dynasty. As the Three Sisters can only be female, the title is only given to women in the dynasty within several orders of the line of succession and the heads of major cadet branches. However, thirty-seven of the very largest Taloran colony worlds directly chartered by the Empress or STL-established colonies which had independent governments, and were conquered in later wars, and declared Imperial property, are rated as Imperial Provinces which are given in appanage to the heads of the cadet branches and certain of the sisters of the old Empresses. The Viceroy of Dalamar--always a female of the dynasty--also receives the title of Archduchess and the right to sit in the Convocate even if not formally granted the province in appanage. Because this title can only be bestowed on females of the Valerian Dynasty, when associated with an Imperial Province given in appanage it is actually accorded higher status than that of a King or Queen. Addressed as "Your Serene Grace".

Queens and Kings: There are ten reigning Queens and six reigning Kings on the surface of the planet. All six of the reigning Kings and one of the Queens are from Kingdoms in Kavarae's Ring, the Great Rift Reef, and Ghastan Island, the "barbaricum" which was culturally discontinuous from the three main continents. The other nine Queens are distributed around the three continents, eight of them of distinct families, while the Queen of Filidmarn on Grenya Colenta is a title held by one of the cadet branches of the Grenyan Line of the Dynasty. There are also about twenty-six alien rulers accorded this rank. This is the same rank accorded the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India, the Emperor of Germany, the Tsar of Russia, the Emperor of Japan, the French Emperor, the Mexican Emperor, etc, on occupied Earth, so it is the highest rank of the nobility to which any alien has been accorded. Addressed as "Your Royal Highness". The Taloran Royals hold countless off-world colonies which are usually ruled by lesser nobility who do not hold seats in the Convocate; several alien rulers also hold off-homeworld colonies in the same fashion. Only a few orbital colonies are held by the Royalty, as they were so expensive to establish that only the largest states could manage to build them enmasse.

Grand Dukes and Duchesses: There are several "Grand Duchies" on the surface of Talora Prime. The rank is also accorded to several foreign monarchs who are nominally Kings or Queens but not considered important enough to be bestowed higher dignities, for instance, the King of Romania on Earth. Seventeen of the old STL colonies which had native dynasts had those dynasts given this rank, also. Addressed as "Your August Grace". The surface Grand Duchies each have several off-world colonies administered under the prerogatives of the Grand Dukes.

Princes and Princesses: Primarily encompassing several mountain states on all three continents and several of the states of the old In'tuitan Confederacy, Sovereign Princes and Princesses are the rulers of those states, and the titles are very diverse in origin. They are addressed as "Your Highness". The surface Principalities often each have several off-world colonies administered under the prerogatives of the Princes, though this is not always the case. This is the highest "Victory Title" which may be given to a victorious General and his/her heirs, usually along with a small appanage including the battlefield where the victory was won.

Dukes and Duchesses: Numerous states on the surface never subsumed before the final settlements, or those wrested away from the Lelolan and Midelan branches in their defeats, along with the rulers of a variety of important but less developed major colony worlds, and several of the settled interior sectors of mid-range and minor colony worlds. Several of the homeworld Duchies have a couple of offworld colony-planets. This is the second highest "Victory Title" which may be given to a victorious General and his/her heirs, usually along with a small appanage including the battlefield where the victory was won.

Doges: Elected rulers of the Quesadi City States may sit in the Convocate with dignities comparable to a Duke, as long as they are of the finest Patrician clans of their respective cities. The Imperial-appointed Lord Protectors of the alien subject nations which have strong Republican traditions also receive this dignity, including the provincial organization of the old separatist Human Colonial Confederacy; Republican governments which have refused a Lord Protector do not have representation in the Convocate in any form, though they receive the same Imperial Protections. Several of the homeworld city-states have a couple of offworld colony-planets, the exception being Quesadia, which has nearly a hundred, making it the most powerful non-monarchial entity in the Empire. This range of titles is the lowest in precedence of the noble titles of the Convocate which holds any colony planets as direct parts of the title.

Count Palatine: This title is the rough best translation of the title given to rulers holding the vast and lightly settled stretches of exterior worlds of the Empire, organized into Lesser Provinces, who therefore essentially serve as provincial governors. In all cases these provinces are held in appanage.

Markgraf: This title is given explicitly to those who have been given Hereditary Governorship of a border region of the Empire, usually minor Counts and Barons or even Baronets of particular distinction. These March-Counts are responsible for the security of up to 150 minor colony worlds on the border, all heavily fortified and with a free population of armed soldiers organized into Thematic Corps, local governorates on the planets which are based around the size of population necessary to field a Light Infantry Corps for defence of the planet. The Markgraf has control of all the defensive platforms in the area and is responsible for their maintenance, and is given subsidies to maintain a small defensive fleet, while simultaneously the whole region is usually exempt from taxation to encourage economic development despite the considerable threats of the frontier. Even when the frontier moves on, all the priviliges of the March-County remain intact except exemption from taxation and the fleet subsidy, though all the citizenry retains their privilages forever.

Counts and Countesses: A variety of minor territories which were not gobbled up, or the rulers and chieftans of many nominal places on the planet, including the very high regions of the highlands, which were not brought under control until the Imperial era, hold this title in a sovereign fashion. The rulers of the Arctic Colonies also hold this title in appanage from the Empress. Several planets or small collections of minor planets (never more than seven) are also ruled by Counts, as are several of the independent orbital colonies and the mining bases of the outer system, such as Kriesland, the outer moons of one of the gas giants of the Talora Prime system which was ruled by the famous Admiral of that line. Count is the lowest of the three titles which may be awarded as a "Victory title" along with an appanage of the field of the victory and its surrounding lands.

Note: All lesser titles, and a number of individuals holding titles similar to those above, except held to another feudal lord, usually one of the other Great Queens, instead of the Empress herself, do not come with the right to sit at the Convocate.


The three Lords Spiritual of the Farzian Faith, one for each of the great dynastic branches, of course sit in the Convocate, forming the triumvirate which heads the Church overall. Below them but still in the Convocate are the Heads of each of the Service Orders and the Priestly Sects (Nine and Fourteen, respectively, in number), along with the Archpriests (the heads of the regional Archparchies of the Farzian Church, both on-planet and off-planet), the later numbering about 138 in all, can also sit in the Convocate.

Taloran Marriage Laws:

To the Talorans marriage is a "sacred contract" under the Farzian religion. This view of marriage as essentially being an agreement which is sanctified by Farzbardor and which takes the forms of a legal contract makes it very distinct from modern human ideals of marriage and generally different from them altogether.

Marriage is seen as legitimatizing all sexual relations and therefore as a necessity for them, regardless of whether or not children are possible as the result of natural relations between the couple. In all cases marriage is a contract between two people; it is possible for someone to have multiple marriages legally, under certain strict and complex conditions, but under no condition does this make legitimate sexual relations between multiple members of the marriage, either simultaneously or serially. This is considered a very serious religious offence.

Because of the nature of marriage as a sacred contract, however, it is by no means always an eternal institution. Rather the duration of the contract can be specified, allowing for what may be termed temporary marriages. Temporary marriages may, however, only be undertaken by someone who is not presently in another marriage, unless they receive permission from their spouse(s) and are the head of the household or seniormost in emanation. These concepts will be touched on shortly.

Emanation: Emanation is the concept of the "emanation of purity" from the blood of Valera down to the lesser classes of society. It is exceptionally important to understanding how the Talorans organize their society and define their relations with each other.

Emanation essentially defines marriageable status among all people, and the concept is not limited to the nobility. By the system of emanation, it is possible, through many generations, for the "blood purity" of a line to improved such that after nine generations the descendant of a commoner could sit on the throne of In'ghara, but only through the male side, as, of course, the female descent must be absolutely pure.

The level of perfect equality is the Empress, Great Queens, King of Kings, and the Archduchesses, in the sense of the German as direct heirs to the Empress and Great Queens, is established. The Kings and Grand Dukes are "less preferable", but the marriages still result in legitimate offspring, essentially, meaning that the Kings and Grand Dukes are of the second level of emanation. Younger children of those of high rank, unless Archduchesses or given a high title as a courtesy or otherwise, may however marry based on their courtesy title. What this means is that if the family of the King of Kings of Rasilan were utterly decimated, for example, a younger daughter who holds the courtesy title of a Princess would retain a legally contracted marriage to a Duchess even though under normal circumstances they could marry only Kings/Grand Dukes. This holds true for all lesser ranks as well.

The third level of emanation are the Princesses and Duchesses, who may marry up to the second level or down to the fourth, which comprises Count Palatines and Markgrafs. They may in turn marry down to the fifth, Countesses and Baronesses, who in turn may marry down to the sixth emanation, Baronets and hereditary Knights and the Patricians of the republican cities, who may marry to the seventh emanation, the gentry and the life-knights. It is important to note that the children of commoners who were commissioned as military officers are automatically considered to be part of the gentry, as are military officers themselves. The eighth emanation is of course that of commoners, applied to everyone not on the lists above.

Victory titles muddy the waters. Victory titles come in two forms, hereditary and non-hereditary, both conferred by the Empress, but non-hereditary victory titles still confer an improved status on the children of the recipient--namely, as the highest rank of nobility that the Empress does not deign to confer, that of Baron. The victory titles themselves are those of Count, Markgraf, Duke, and Prince. In each case if hereditary the title is, of course, passed on by the laws of success of the patent establishing the title. However, at the most, the children may be raised three emanations. So a commoner who became an officer and ended up winning a victory title as a Princess would have children who would be of Princely rank, but they could only marry laterally for three generations (Six emanations - three emanations = three generations).

Obviously, of course, that means that a commoner raised to a Countess would not have to worry about this for her children; nor would the Duchess of Medina, previously a Marchioness, only one emanation lower, be concerned for it, for example. But it's intended to allow for a dilution of the coarseness of the blood before the children move to high ranks.

Nonetheless, in all respects otherwise they are fully equal to the others of that title; which means social mobility can actually be fairly high, if you are able.

The Rich are usually able to buy their way into Patrician families, also, which means a very wealth noveau-rich commoner can secure a position about the same as a Baronet simply for cash.

But that is about as far as money can take you. Ignoring the fact that the heads of the major city-states can be elected to life terms to positions which have similar precedence to Dukes. But, of course, not the same marriageable status.

If a family dies out, however, its property may be dispossessed. At which point a jump in emanations is possible, as the estate associated with the title might be sold. Not to anyone, however; generally two emanations lower at most. So that one may rise two emanations by wealth, or three by victory, but never faster. A commoner can therefore at best buy an estate associated with a Baronial title and therefore become a Baroness.

Obviously the level of complexity this entails in determining family trees can now imagined. Especially since the whole system isn't matrilineal, so in some regions it is possible to inheirit through the male line. For instance, much of Ghastan island. In some extremely cases the system is entirely inverted as a legacy of the distant, non-central-culture regions.

Though those are about as rare as Matrilineal systems are on Earth. Among other things, it's one of the prime ways to create weird situations where a noblewoman marries a nobleman from one of those regions; sons will inheirit one title and daughters the other.

The issue of contracting multiple marriages makes things more difficult. Because the marriage is contracted between two people, and relations outside of that contract are forbidden, a second marriage is, as noted, regarded as a second contract, which legitimizes the relationship with the third spouse. However, the practice of marrying multiple spouses is strictly controlled through the concept of the head of a household. The head of the household in the Taloran sense is the oldest relative of the inheirited line--therefore, usually the oldest female, but in certain inheiritances simply the oldest person or in some lines and regions, the oldest male.

Only the head of a household--regardless of status--can contract multiple marriages. In the case where two heads of households are united in the same marriage, multiple marriages are only possible to be contracted if one of them is of higher emanation, and then only by that one of the two partners who is of higher emanation.

In all cases marriage contracts are irrespective of gender. Where two females marry, the eldest child in most of the marriages receives both inheiritances. With multiple marriages contracted by one individual the eldest child from the first marriage is always the primary heir, and all children from the first marriage stand precedence (unless the title is restricted to a specific sex) over those of the second marriage and so on. This can be reversed in certain culture regions; if two males marry in most, however, the general result is that their children (adopted, or through genetic engineering, which for purposes of generating life is accepted by the Talorans as legitimate) are actually considered like further line descendants of their mothers.

With marriages of limited duration, children conceived during that duration of marriage are considered fully legitimate; responsibility for raising the children is split between the parents according to the contract. Illegitimate children, conversely, are always raised by the mother though in some cases depending on circumstance the father may nonetheless be held financially liable, but this is generally only the case with rape or those underage (marriage may be contracted only by those 5 Taloran years or older [16 human] with those aged 5 only able to contract with others of age 5; those age 6 and above [19.2 human years] may contract with anyone. Statuatory rape laws only apply in relations between someone younger than 5 with someone older than 5).

As a final note, the marriage contract does not dissolve with death, though the necessity of receiving permission before contracting a second marriage, or needing to be the head of a household, are no longer required. If a couple was married "for eternity" and one of them perished, a second marriage could be contracted under the same terms legitimatelly, unless the deceased had multiple contracted marriages, at which case the individual now freed from that contract may only marry up to a period specified "for life", meaning that the marriage is not valid in the afterlife so that the structure of the old family may be preserved for all time. In any case it is considered a matter of course that all contractual obligations are rendered null and void by the descent of one soul into punishment and the slave-armies of the Deceiver; but as this is unknowable in life, there is not a mechanism for the dissolution of marriage in life save by the expiration of the contract, unless the contract was entered into under false pretenses. This allows a very limited mechanism for the end of irredeemable marriages via a religious determination of deception in the arrangement of the marriage on the part of one spouse or the other.

In practice, the rate of dissolution in Taloran society is therefore a mere 3%, in comparison with some human societies where the rate is 66%. One should not regard this as evidence of many unhappy couples, for the practice of temporary marriages means that couples can live with each other for very extended periods of time, and marriage contracts can be renewed so that, if the relationship ends, it can be allowed to lapse naturally. With much longer marriages, unhappiness may lead to a second marriage on the part of one spouse while the other two remain together, perhaps as friends or simply cooperating in the household, if they can come to such a mutual arrangement. And, of course, there is more emphasis put on stability in Taloran society, maintaining families for child-rearing, and accepting non-ideal situations: The marriage contracts themselves, after all, represent that marriage is a method through which inheiritance is determined, bloodlines are kept pure, emanations are preserved, alliances cemented, the status of children is determined and their security is provided for, and even at the lowest levels of society, mutual security is provided by the union of two individuals and therefore two of the great extended families which are so important to Talorans are bonded to be mutually supporting of each other. Love is only but one of many reasons for the contract to be arranged, and is de-emphasized very much in comparison with modern human marriages.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Taloran shipbuilding technology:

The Taloran Star Empire uses two forms of FTL drives; the first is called the Dristania drive, after the chief of its development team, Dristania Eruloh, and is essentially a K-F type drive, albeit far more sophisticated than those used by the Inner Sphere. The power problems in charging directly from a ship's reactors have been solved, and the drives can therefore be reliably charged in the space of one and a third Taloran hours, or about 120 Terran minutes and 7 seconds, due to the use of superconducting vacuum capacitors for power storage rather than batteries. With the typical maximum jump range being 30 Terran lightyears as per normal K-F drives, this yields an average maximum cruising speed of 15 lightyears an hour, the same as the other high-end ships of the multiverse. The Taloran advantage is the fact that every single military combat ship in the entire fleet down to 20,000 tonne picket boats are capable of this speed, allowing an immense strategic advantage in the uniform operational capability of their fleet over strategic distances.

Normally, however, cruising safety mandates a charging time of about 135 minutes and 10 seconds (one and a half Taloran hours) to prevent the overstress of the capacitors. Taloran military vessels over 20,000 metric tonnes, however, have an advantage in their immense size, allowing them to simply mount additional battery banks. These, though they must be charged much more slowly than the main drive capacitors, can store a charge for months or years, and therefore have their utility in providing a backup jump for the ships. This allows Taloran military vessels to make two K-F jumps of 30 lightyears duration as fast as their computers can make the necessary calculations, making the drives a reasonable tactical weapon insomuch as a jump into a trap is not fatal for a fleet because they can use their reserve batteries to make a second jump immediately to escape. Picket Boats are small, 20,000 - 25,000 metric tonne craft which consists almost entirely of sensors and batteries, which are intended to allow them to make up to three reserve jumps, allowing them be highly effective in scouting for the fleet.

Normal merchant ship drives are capable of charging safely in 120 hours, but save on the immense protective systems and extremely expensive capacitors of military vessels. Fast freighters and starliners, however, have put the expense into these systems, giving them identical performance to military vessels. Non-combatant fleet and Imperial couriers have similar immense battery packs as the Pickets do. These allow the ships to almost instantaneously traverse a distance of up to 120 lightyears, even with all calculation times, frequently less than half of a human hour. However, they are no "faster" than any other advanced ship with the drive, as it would still take them on the order of 360 hours to recharge all of the batteries, which could not be done at all while charging the capacitors for further jumps. Therefore on very long duration missions these extremely expensive and truculent vessels serve to only slash about five and a half Terran hours off the length of the trip.

However, the Imperial government has to a certain extent mitigated this by the systems of relay stations it has in developed territories. For extremely urgent documents which cannot be broadcast over normal coms (which are slower in the TSE than the Alliance, which with its interuniversal-radio technology has almost instantaneous communications throughout its territories), but which need an almost comparable speed, couriers can traverse a distance of 120 lightyears in mere minutes, dock with a relay station, transfer the documents physically to another courier, and that courier can then undock and proceed forward again. These extremely cramped vessels have no cargo carrying capabilities; the requirement of continuous transfers means than individual traveling in this method cannot sleep during the whole of the journey, and there are no real facilities other than chairs and a simple toilet, with ration packs for food. Therefore, they are rarely used for any purpose other than the transfer of physical documents.

Gunboats in the 3,000 - 20,000 tonne range are capable of slower charging between jumps than large ships, but can still do it. Extended range versions with more space for improved performance are common; 3,000 tonnes is the absolute minimum size for a vessel able to effectively charge its own Dristania drive, generally speaking. Large starfighters, however, are capable of two to three jumps using extremely sophisticated and highly expensive battery packs. These battery packs, of which many per starfighter (interceptors and torpedo bombers exclusively, space superiourity fighters are to small and do not mount jumpdrives at all) are stored on carriers, are mounted so that on landing on the carrier, the drained battery pack can be quickly removed and replaced with one fully charged onboard the ship. These starfighters do not have the power to charge Dristania drives whatsoever, but in this fashion can make effective combat jumps.

As a final note, to combat the deletrious effects of the Dristania/K-F drive effects on sentient individuals, drugs mitigating them are universally pumped into the atmosphere of the vessel. This allows normal function, and restful activities such as sleep, to continue during the much more frequent jumps that Taloran ships are capable of.

The last component of Taloran FTL systems, however, is an entirely different drive. Universally mounted on fast freighters and starliners (which are all usually designed to be used as armed merchant cruisers in wartime, anyway) as well as all military vessels, down to and including starfighters, the drives are called Trivaht Drives after the inventor, who famously worked out the initial theories for a system of gravito-magnetic conference similar to Terran Heim Theory which allows for artificial gravity as a source of mobility (the drive impellers of Taloran ships, called "military impellers" on warships), as an inertial compensator in ships, allowing tremendous acceleration, and, most importantly, "stretching" the speed of light through a system of dimensional submergence to allow realspace speeds up to 53.4c, or, in ST-3 terms, around Warp 3.5.

These drives can be operated continuously, and due to the immense gyro-stabilizers and continuous placement calculations possible in the huge Taloran computers, Dristania drive field initialization can happen at speed, allowing a ship traveling at up to 53.4c to make a jump safely. This means that a slight speed advantage can be gained on long journeys by keeping continuously at maximum Trivaht speed during recharging periods. The initialization of the "cruising impellers", as the Trivaht mechanism gravito-magnetic FTL (as opposed to simple acceleration) systems are called, results in the immediate transference of the ship's effective forward momentum to 1c. Acceleration to 53.4c, however, happens normally over a scale similar to that of 0c to 1c (never quite reaching the end) with normal acceleration (simply multiplied to the factor of the new "absolute maximum" speed limit of the universe), using the military impellers.

Therefore the ship's acceleration capability does matter in how fast it can obtain a speed of about 53.399999c; viz, a ship with an acceleration of 2,450 gravities like the Kalammi-class battlecruisers would take as long from drive initialization to reach 53.3999c under cruising impellers as it would to reach .999c under military impellers alone. Disengaging the Trivaht cruising impellers without deaccelerating results in a transference of energy into lower-order dimensions and immediate reversion to sublight speeds. At first this was considered irrelevant but after contact with the CON-5 universe it was found out that this energy is dumped into hyperspace, making the location of a ship doing an emergency drop to sublight speed easily detectable by vessels operating in a hyperspace regime.

The physical structure of the ships themselves is usually built of a Titanium-stability metal alloy, utilizing high-end metals from islands of stability in the periodic table of elements alloyed with titanium to give them the necessary tensile strength for use as structural elements, while providing the immense density required to resist the stupendous forces of extreme accelerations. Massively multiply redundant Inertial compensators and strengthening fields complete the resistance of the hull. Ships utilize extensive internal subdivision throughout for further protection. A military vessel will have innumerable transverse and longitudinal bulkheads and several major fore-and-aft bulkheads completely bisecting the ship with meters and meters thick walls of armour-grade structural material and innumerable sealed off compartmentalized sections within these space-tight regions which are further sealed against vacuum and able to function despite damage. The number of passages through these areas are very limited, and the armour doors automatically close on combat, making escape from one's assigned sector impossible, guarateeing death for those inside if hit, but also guaranteeing the total integrity of the ship.

Freighters, in general, are of course much less subdivided, and most have a very small habitation area attached to huge open spaces, at any rate. Other than fast freighters and starliners, which much more resemble military vessels, typical freighters come in several classes. The most common are Containerized Vessels, ranging from 8 megatonnes to 64 megatonnes in empty mass. These are an immense spine along which numerous containers--large storage units of about 100,000 tonnes apiece which can be attached to surface-to-orbit elevators--can be affixed by the dozens or hundreds. These can be towed like barges by tractor-tugs in system, and frequently are filled with smaller containers in turn for redistribution. Smaller trading freighters which travel infrequently between smaller worlds have actual cargo holds and generally range from 2 megatonnes to 6 megatonnes, though on routes where sufficiently unusual, non-containerized cargoes exist, larger vessels do operate in this format, in very limited numbers.

Colonization ships resemble container vessels except with special habitation sectors for the colonists added. The final component of the Taloran merchant fleet is therefore in the huge bulk freighters which carry things like grain and ores between systems. These in many cases on short-distance routes between two systems lack a jump drive and simply use Trivaht impellers to make the journey in a few months for added monetary savings. They can haul well in excess of 100 megatonnes of raw goods in their largest incarnations, and some of them are full factory ships which do onboard processing while moving from mine to mine in different systems, dropping off the refined product for industrial use at their final destination.

Reactors are of the Solid-State Fusion type, using metallic hydrogen as fuel, which is mined from gas giants in immense floating installations. These derive energy yields very similar to those of anti-matter with fewer risks, though the fuel is highly volatile. Universally the reactors power all ship systems through electricity, using massive superconducting cables relayed through standard busbar assemblies with heavily distributed backups. A large number of reactors is normally provided on military and high-end civilian ships. Backup fission reactors which can operate for years on end without refueling are always included, and this has led to survivors of FTL drive failures surviving for dozens of Taloran years through fission-powered recycling and environmental systems in deep space until their emergency signals led to their ultimate rescue.

Taloran Military Technology:

Starting first with the extension from the shipping technology lists above, the most obviously covered aspect is that, though simple alloy variations of the standard structural materials are used as armour, there are additional layers or sandwiches. The first of these in the typical armour pattern are high-end ceramics for dealing with thermal energy. The second is usually a lead layer surrounding the whole hull and in all the major bulkheads which serves to absorb radiation from atomic strikes. Backing for the main armour includes an enormous amount of high-end organic compressor substances (basically high-end rubbers) to further absorb the shock of the blows. Through this layer, frequently, coolant feeds are run to further dissipate thermal energy in the armour after impacts, to prevent a weakening of the armour through its heating when it it has been designed, and installed for, function in the extreme cold of deep space exposure.

Outside of this armour sandwich are metallic hydrogen tanks. Rarely connected to the internal metallic hydrogen tanks of the ships, and which must use temporary connector feeds to refuel them, these tanks serve to extend the range of the ships, but also, while in combat, as ERA (explosive-reactive armour), as Metallic Hydrogen, an extremely unstable degenerate matter, reacts violently to abrupt energy transfer and penetration of its storage spaces. This allows the first hit in a particular area, almost regardless of its power, to be effectively dissipated by the ERA without damaging the ship's hull or compromising the integrity of the armoured "sandwich" below. Reactor spaces are usually surrounded by their metallic hydrogen tanks and then massive armoured sandwiches like the outer hull below them. In this way, the reactors are preserved by the destruction of the ERA even at the expense of nearby areas of the ship. The immense central keel is so thick as to preclude its destruction in almost any circumstances, and broken but intact keel segments usually survive even the most dramatic of explosions with survivors inside their internal spaces, though such detonations are themselves very rare; the ships, when destroyed, are usually simply blasted into non-functionality and still remain largely externally intact in form. To complete the armour scheme, extensive void spaces are provided between two layers of the armour "sandwich" and behind both the layers to maximize the protective capacity, and further explaining the comparatively low empty mass of the Taloran ships.

Energy shielding is of a static-projector type, providing direct kinetic resistance to fixed maximum levels which, if exceeded, can physically destroy the generators through feedback. The shields are interlocking and overlapping from each projector, and the projectors are trainable so that the shields can generally speaking be focused entirely to one side of the hull, or to cover a single area. Recharging rates are quite distinct from the absolute maximum absorbable impact within a particular period of time, allowing sustained firing to wear down on the shields faster than they can be recharged. Temporary failures by extremely powerful impacts or multiple impacts on a single projector's field coverage area can allow penetration long before the shields have actually collapsed.

Particle cannons are the universal main starship combat weapon. They operate in the normal fashion, with barrels in the case of the 1.5 GT particle cannons being 100 meters in length. The mounts are designed to allow immense recoil, with the guns in fact recoiling right up to the back of the turret, and sometimes several meters beyond it through "recoiling holes" in the back of the turret which are opened for engagements. The energy absorbed in slowing the barrel is dumped into organic supercoolants which are simply vapourized by the amounts of energy involved and explosively vent through vents for this purpose at the tops of the turrets, creating spectacular vertical plasma eruptions when the guns fire.

The energy comes from huge capacitor banks mounted inside the turrets. These are charged from the reactors over a period of time, which, for the biggest guns, is 12 - 15 seconds. Since capacitors do not deliver all of their power instantaneously, contrary to popular misconception, but instead follow simply a sharp curve, in the meantime, an explosively pumped flux compression generator (EPFCG) is loaded into the barrel through the breach automatically, and the breach-block is sealed. The EPFCG uses a chemical explosive charge, or in this case usually metallic hydrogen, to distort magnetic fields charged into the device, releasing them instantly and simultaneously with immense force. The EPFCG is charged from the capacitors, and then detonated, releasing the energy for the cannon in total, simultaneously, providing all the energy necessary for the small particle chain to be accelerated to velocities only slightly less than c. The remnants of the EPFCG, which can be used only once, are then ejected from the barrel after the gun has recoiled and, on the barrel returning to position, is automatically reloaded, while the coolant tanks for the cannon's recoil suppressors are recharged. The force of the explosion which triggered the EPFCG is vented through a smaller underslung barrel to the main particle cannon's barrel, creating another colourful blast which follows shortly after the main blast during the recoil phase and is directed outwards, like the flash of a chemical gun firing.

The guns are capable of firing in a scattergun fashion by varying the gravitic acceleration fields in the barrel as it is fired, essentially flinging the particles out in multiple slightly off-angle directions through the barrel, built out for this purpose. This considerably reduces the range and energy, and is highly inefficient, but allows the guns to have some chance of clearing starfighters at close range; smaller mounts are more often used in this way. In all cases, the nature of the gun's firing creates barrel lining wear, and like traditional weapons, after several incidents of sustained firing it is often necessary to re-line the barrels for continued safe operation.

Powerguns, used for direct-fire ground weaponry and light guns on Starships, are essentially cartridge-based plasma weapons with very short range but much more rapid fire potential, relying on gravitic containment and stabilization for their fire, which still has a considerably limited range, making them impractical for any sort of long-range engagement and suitable only for short-range action. Long-barreled powerguns for maximum range with higher acceleration are usually used as anti-fighter weapons on capital ships with a typical yield of between 250kT to 300kT per shot, firing 2 - 3 times per second, more of which is in the form of kinetic energy rather than thermal. Short-barreled, broader powerguns have a broader range of effects and are used on ground attack aerospace gunboats and on hovertanks; the maximum yield of these weapons is usually at most 10kT and is highly directed against the target, creating minimum collateral effects if any at all, and simply melting the ground around the target or if they fall short.

Short-range anti-missile missiles and torpedoes use metallic hydrogen explosive rocketry stages initiated by a minute amount of anti-matter. Standard torpedo tactics involving increasing the range by launching in the midst of a sharp turn-away, in short a sort of acceleration-based "slingshot" for the torpedo on launch. Even with this considered torpedo attacks are always conducted under 25,000km in distance, though if the destroyers can close to this range they can be exceptionally devastating. VLR missiles and Assault missiles use full-sized gravitic impellers. Warheads are usually anti-matter initiated fusion, though the most powerful are pure anti-matter, the torpedoes, which also must be fueled before firing for safety reasons, and are kept "dry", making the torpedo launching process rather cumbersome. Bolters are straightforward starfighter and light ship weapons.

Generally, gravitic accelerators are used for all personal weapons, except for some which still rely on chemical force; the "railgun assault rifle" is the standard weapon of the Taloran Army; Hovertanks are nuclear powered ground-effect vehicles which rely on immense, super-rotating under-vehicle fans protected by armoured skirts, rather than more expensive and energy intensive gravitic generators, which are, however, installed on the massive "hover battleships" which can be deployed from orbit as command and control, anti-starship, and heavy direct fire assets to support landed armies. Shield projectors on mobile hover-mounts are a universal feature of the armies, making them almost impossible to destroy from orbit, especially when supported by anti-starship torpedoes carried on mobile launchers.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

(This is a short-story in five parts, and this is the first part.)

The alien was a graceful creature, standing some six and a half feet tall. Gender was at first indistinct, even with the long, royal blue hair that hung down to her thighs in a long, serried cascade of locks. The intensity of her red eyes was indistinct—for she was female, even though immensely skinny and narrow in form, like an unnatural statue, some sort of totem. That long face had harsh lines to it, when viewed with the human eye, pale skin tinged green that seemed very sickly.

Talorans were vaguely human, but that was all that could be said. If anything their looks were more alien when placed upon a generally human shape and gifted with generally human characteristics than if they had been entirely alien in appearance and custom. The last piece—the high-set long ears, which, tapered, could pivot in any direction to focus in sound—completed the sculpture. They were elves, perhaps, to the human eye, but of the hideous and deadly type. One is not, after all, supposed to find the fae kind, or graceful, in Irish myth. They are dangerous creatures.

So humanity had misjudged the Talorans. They had misjudged their own fantasies of elves for a long time, too. Now the Talorans were the masters of humanity, and those who were brought before the graceful but inhuman creature were their mere suppliants. Two short Taloran males, built like Mexican welterweights, and dressed in the uniforms of the personal guard of Her Royal Highness the Fourth Heir of the Great Kingdom of Midela Colenta and Archduchess of Ghwalik, the graceful alien who's presence fully occupied the room in the Tower of London which had been prepared for the strange little ceremony, were the guards of the proceedings.

The Duke of Northumberland was an old man, who had traveled here cautiously on word of the customs of the conquerors, and being satisfied that he might be given a fair hearing, advanced his request with a judicious determination. The King was secure on the throne, after all, and he was to old of a man to contemplate resistance against a regime which had merely rid them of fascists in the first place, no matter how alien it was. So the new regime was to be tolerated...

...And perhaps in this case it would even prove a good thing. Not even the United Terran Homeland Party had really been able to restore the spirit of Earth, which had scarcely been regained in the Crusades of the 21st Century, and then lost again as the best and brightest of humanity had traveled to the colonies of the solar system first, and then to other solar systems beyond them. Until the same old diseases had flared up, never entirely destroyed, and Earth had decayed once more. Decayed until, like after the Second Era of Crusades, patchwork had come along, glue had been poured in the cracks, and civilization had sputtered along for a while longer.

The past centuries had seen crisis after crisis, internal strife, lunacy overtaking the masses, the fall of nations and their unification with others, just to split in spurts of violent, often fascistic nationalism. Fifteen hundred years of the neigh-unending forward progress of Christian Europe had been replaced by four hundred years of unending chaos and cyclical spasms of violence and repression, madness and war, achievement and social depravity. So the Talorans had come, and a few years of violence had finally brought a peace, and perhaps, even a restoration of the old order.

The details of that were still being hammered out. But Ythelia the Archduchess of Ghwalik was the overall administration of the far-flung territories of the King until Parliamentary government was restored under what the press—still free, per British custom, which she had duly sustained—was calling the 'autocratic constitution'. They were, however, all bite and no bark. It was simply British Law as of 1900, with a few detailing changes. Old, but not particularly autocratic.

So the Duke of Northumberland had advanced a request to the Archduchess of Ghwalik, and it had been received with full courtesy. The reply had been hand-written; it was carefully sounded out, for the Duke's request was quite contrary to anything she had seen to that point, and seemed a bit mad. A few more letters, however, proved his sanity, and gradually the reasons for the request were unveiled. The Archduchess refused to act upon it unilaterally. It was, after all, going to be a direct contravention of official Imperial policy if it was going to be enacted.

A policy intended to keep the locals happy, as it was. Very ironic, that, nevermind the higher cultural goals that it had. So the Duke, in the end, agreed to come to London and participate in the only sort of arrangement for the completion of his goal which might stand Taloran legal rigor. A trial before the Archduchess under her feudal priviliges, combined with assorted sections of military law still effective on the surface of the Earth.

The defence in this case rested to a Barrister, a noted politician of the Green Alliance Party which had supported the United Terran Homeland Party as one of its legal supporting parties in the old regime. It was an environmentalist association which had been coopted to support the UTHP in exchange for a certain developmental programme to create a “garden earth” supported by off-world industry, and the population concentrated into massive iso-cities which had minimum footprint on the surface of the planet and to the ecology.

Those cities, to be built in a dreary fascist style and supported by the orbital industry, had never come to pass. Instead they were just relics, in a few places, the clearing had become for their construction but nothing more. The GAP was now out of power and always would be. This would Michael Keeling's last hurrah as a politician. He was going to try to save the symbol of what the philosophy of the GAP stood for, and in doing so lay down some hope for a future when tolerance might return, when the aliens had been forced, or persuaded, to leave, when old men like the Duke of Northumberland would be cast aside once more and forced to conform to the Ideal World which had nearly been created.

He didn't know if he could succeed or not. But the aliens themselves were ruled by a matriarchy; the woman he would present the case to was still a woman, even if an alien one and a noble. Would they not understand? Would they not see the purpose in the statue? Surely they must. The power of the belief in the true sanctity of the world, in the belief in the unity of all humanity as part of the wider pan-spirit of the Earth, would prevail even as these Talorans, ultimately, must have the same latent ability in their belief in their own world—which, had he not heard, was a veritable paradise? So he would try his best.

The Duke of Northumberland would try his best, as well. He had hope for the future of Britain and the Commonwealth which would now be linked to it through the reign of King Charles V. Of the continuance of British culture and traditions and their revival under the old system which had originally fostered them. He was going to take the first step in that direction, even as an old man, and even if he had to do the labor himself. The symbols of the old, which even the fascists, thanks to their political allies, had not touched, would be torn down, smashed outright, and replaced with the glories of British history once more. The next generation would grow up free of the poison which had led them to swear allegiance to the Sword of the Heirs of In'ghara, to the alien Empress, in the first place. That would be the last duty of his life.

The proceedings of this strange hearing were about to begin. The Duke gathered his robes about himself, and at the call of a page, a young Taloran lady, really, he entered peacefully and presented himself before the Archduchess, the fourth in line to the throne of the Great Queen of Midela Colenta, of the blood of the Three Sisters, the heirs of Valera in general of whom the line of In'ghara was that which ruled the whole of the Taloran Star Empire.

The current reigning Empress, a distant cousin of this cold-eyed representative, was called Intalasha III. And through her representative, on this day, the Duke of Northumberland would find out if she was an oppressor of humanity, or the Cyrus that God had sent to free Jerusalem from the Babylonian Captivity.

It was a curious hearing, laden with symbol while, at the same time, seeming almost ludicrous in that it consumed the time of so many important people. Yet it wasn't ludicrous; on a fundamental level, it really was the trial which would decide the fate of the whole history of the British people. Whether they would be sustained forever, until the stars were also dim, or else whether the tenuous pieces of the past would not recover, and instead die, and a lazy, dependent people of servants to the Talorans would go on, faceless, nameless, without memory, for all time.

The Duke of Northumberland had armed himself well with the tools of rhetoric and oratory. They were the only weapons available to the Briton in this fight. But he had inner hope; the aliens still had the same old feudal customs which had once held together British society. Could not the sense of loyalty those bonds held in human custom be awakened within them? He would try his best, even as Michael Keeling tried to guaranteed that these tattered remnants, too, would also fall.

The petition, which the Archduchess of Ghwalik had deigned to hear, was the request of the Duke of Northumberland as a vassal of the Sword of In'ghara, the Taloran Empress, to be allowed to take armed men sworn to his service, and demolish the four statues in the Peace Square in London, to replace them with the three statues, of Napier, of Havelock, and of King George IV, which had been removed and replaced with the tributes to modern degeneracy that he wished to demolish, and which now languished in his own collection, sold off six generations before and bought by a loving and loyal member of his family for preservation, the statues which he had seen as a young boy and which had excited his love for the history of his people which sustained him to his old age, through all of the worst times.

And, of course, to do two more things. To raise a statue to the last of the great British heroes, at the edge of the dark times—to put, in what would be again the empty fourth plinth, a statue of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill. There were no great human artists of the human figure left. So he would have to trust in anthropomorphic tendencies of the artists of the Talorans themselves; thus the appeal further asked that the Empress provide coin for the statue to be erected and handle, through the appropriate bureaus, the solicitation of an artist, and that in all registers the name formally be changed back to Trafalgar Square.

That was the appeal which the vassal made to his alien Lord; and today the Archduchess of Ghwalik as her representative would decide if it did or did not have merit.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

(This is a short-story in five parts, and this is the second part.)

The Archduchess Ghwalik took up the shepherd's crock and slammed its butt down upon the floor several times, and then moved to sit. “This hearing is commenced,” she spoke in the elegant, fluted tones informed by her alien accent, sitting straight and firm in the chair as she looked to the suppliant and the defender, to the men-at-arms and the recorder, with her aides beside. “You may sit.”

His Grace the Duke of Northumberland remained standing until the order was given, respecting the court. The others bowed as they were required to, even Michael Keeling, for an experienced barrister, even a Green fanatic, knew how to play right to a court. The young page moved to take up her place alongside Her Royal Highness the Archduchess.

She took an old looking parchment, wrapped up and sealed in wax, and broke the seal, unrolling it, and began to read in a sonorous tone which surely required much training to master.

“It is the appeal of His Grace the Duke of Northumberland to Her Serene Majesty the Empress of all the Talorans, highest of the Three Sisters and direct heir of In'ghara, bearer of the sword of In'ghara, descendant of Valera and protector of the faith of Eibermon and the worship of the Lord Justice, she who commands the allegiance of Queens who rule over other Queens, that she take certain measures to preserve the customs of Her Britannic subjects which were of late generally suppressed by the Terran regime of the humans, and its prior regimes in turn.

“His Grace the Duke of Northumberland does hereby contend that though Her Serene Majesty has graciously acted with great mercy toward the people of Earth and of the Britannic nations in particular, her mercy has manifested an unusual misfortune, that the various tributes of the old order, which has suppressed and harmed the British people and done personal harm to the family and privilages of His Grace the Duke of Northumberland and his sovereign ordained under God, Charles V Windsor most grievously, are preserved by its all-encompassing nature, while the symbols of British pride and cultural custom have been removed, and now hide in cellars lest they be destroyed by the hands of the old regime.

“This considered, His Grace the Duke of Northumberland has issued an appeal to redress a grievance against his rights, in the interest of his Sovereign, who is currently indisposed—before the All-Highest Empress who is Sovereign over him in turn, that an exception should be made in the interest of furthering the preservation and general restoration of British customs and British Liberties.

“In light of this, His Grace the Duke of Northumberland henceforth requests that such a sum may be supplied by Her Serene Majesty to commission the sculpture of a man, this man being The Right Honourable Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD; this being the last great hero of British manhood who may warrant general public approbation, having preserved this country, its monarch and its liberties, through many great trials of war and peace, and that Her Serene Majesty provide for the publication of the notice of request for this commission throughout her realms. That, secondly, the emergency laws of the Taloran commission over the Britannic nations be modified, such that on the square of Trafalgar in the Free City of London the demolition of four statues by His Grace the Duke of Northumberland's armed men may take place, and that three statues previously on that spot which His Grace has in his possession be raised in their stead, with the fourth replaced by the new statue to be commissioned.”

Her Royal Highness the Archduchess looked up from the paper, and cleared her throat. “I am the Commissioner for the Commonwealth under His Majesty King Charles V Windsor. I represent Her Serene Majesty in these lands, and my authority over this case is binding. So let it be written.”

A pause, as she sat the paper down and considered the thoughts with which she would continue the introduction. It did not take long, and the pause was mostly dramatic, for she was a skilled orator herself.

“This is a very unusual case, Lord Algernon. It is not unheard for Her Serene Majesty to grant money to impoverished nobles to reestablish themselves; but you are not impoverished; and we pride ourselves in our tolerance of the customs and traditions of the peoples who have been brought under our reign upon the plain of war. That is why your Parliament is being reinstated, with the ancient customary law of your people which is nonetheless so very liberal in comparison to our own; and why also all the old administrative divisions have been swept away in favour of the traditional ones, and your feudal rights restored.

“Why, then, do you ask us to ignore this salutory custom, and to undertake in allowing you to wantonly destroy the cultural legacy of your people, which in various forms has—as I understand the brief submitted by Mister Keeling—stood for many centuries in this place? That is a question which, I know, this hearing must divine in answering, itself, but it is certainly the foremost.

“Stranger still,” and now she cast a neutral glance to Keeling, “is the fact that someone has undertaken to stand in defense against this appeal. That is certainly legitimate; but it is very rare. Normally the appeals of the nobility are not contested unless involving criminal pursuits against each other. However, I acknowledge that in some way by attempting to use feudal privilage for an act of cultural destruction that the Duke of Northumberland certainly has brought up a case which allows legitimate challenge. So we proceed in the fashion of an antagonistic hearing, the legal qualities of which, both you gentlemen should be well familiar if you stand prepared before this hearing.

“That considered, I ask Lord Algernon to now present his opening arguments, and then Mister Keeling to present his counterargument.”

Mister Keeling chose then to rose, and bow toward Her Royal Highness. “Your Highness, forgive this interruption, but I would first lodge a formal challenge to the court that His Grace the Duke of Northumberland does not have the right to appeal to Her Serene Majesty, being separated from her by one degree of vassalage which he has ignored in this appeal, and not availed firstly to his cause.”

The Archduchess nodded, accepting the appeal for the moment, and then: “Lord Algernon, how do you reply?”

“It is the feudal custom of the Britannic peoples that all land is ultimately held in common by oaths to the supreme Sovereign, which in this case is Her Serene Majesty; she is but exercising her own privilages to hear this case, according to our own traditions.”

The Archduchess nodded and pushed through some papers, discretely referencing a computer terminal as she did so. The process did not take more than a minute or two before she straightened and her attention returned to the court. “The objection is dismissed. It is indeed under Britannic feudal custom the right of Her Serene Majesty to directly hear this case if she so chooses, and as her power is devolved to my person by sealed writ I undertaken to proceed with the hearing.” She then turned and whispered something to her page in Taloran.

The young page, smiling pleasantly, went to His Grace Lord Algernon the Duke of Northumberland and bowed slightly. “The Presider of the hearing bids Your Grace rise and face the court and deliver such summary of your case as you would make.”

With the aide of a cane the Duke of Northumberland brought himself to his feet and moved forward toward the grand desk behind which Her Royal Highness the Archduchess of Ghwalik presided. He shuffled forward slowly toward that desk and then paused. Resting slightly against his cane so that he could gesture freely, he began to address the court with those weapons of classical rhetoric which he had long itched for the chance to employ.

“Your Royal Highness the Presider and the officers of the court, I thank you for the opportunity this day to demonstrate the soundness of the cause which I have undertaken, and which involves,” for here he remembered that he must keep firm the fact that it was an injury to him as much his nation, and not shirk from admitting it, for this appeal was grounded in his personal privilage and thus modesty would not behoove him in winning the case, “a great extent of damage done to my line and to that of my sovereign.

“Your Royal Highness, it is a sad fact that the modern Briton is decayed from his sturdy ancestors, who for many years were renowned for their valour and for the jealous preservation of their traditional liberties, and throughout the whole world were once declared to be those who 'teach grosser men how to war'. Their feats of arms derived not from any great military excellence, but rather from a stiffness of spirit which allowed our ancestors to unflinchingly face any opponent, to never turn their backs on the field, and to always stand their ground, even to the bitter end. This is part of the legacy of British culture and custom, which was decayed thoroughly and continued to die right up until the moment you Talorans arrived and put end to the farce of our world government and restored our traditional laws and customs by decree.

“This has been a great boon, and provides a great hope to me for the position of my house and the revival of loyalty in my sovereign the King and that the love of country may grow anew in the breasts of the younger generations to come. Yet I do not feel it is enough. I am deeply worried for my country, which has suffered so many grevious harms to its spirit that it scarcely continues to exist beyond its name.

“For many centuries this slow process of erosion has taken place, in the manner which great nations fall over long periods: Through enervation, and defeat, and civil strife, which feeds more enervation. We began this sad process a long time ago after nearly a millennia, by our calendar, of glory. It is in these periods of enervation that the current statues on Tralfagar Square were erected. They show precisely the values of an enervated society: A pregnant disabled woman bereft of limbs, and nude, is the first of these statues, proclaiming the triumph of passive motherhood over the stern and stoic virtues of our ancestors. The second shows a child from the Mesopotamia country of Iraq with a permanently scarred face, missing her eyes, and declares 'never war again'; the third shows the personification of the Mother Earth cowering before the industrial Titan of space, and the fourth is an abstract work representing mass democracy, of millions of people melting together into one.

“These reflect the degeneration of society, firstly, the negation of the virtues of war and the upholding of the sad consequences which it reaps as being also greater than such virtue as might come from confronting evil, secondly, the rejection of technology thirdly, and the totalitarian conceptualization of mass democracy as ending the distinctiveness of individuals, fourthly. All of these ideas are directly antiethical to British traditions of liberty and firmness, to our culture and our customs and our laws. They are based on the rights of the individual, on a stoic disposition throughout live, on a love for one's King and country, for hearth and home, and for a stout defense thereof from the prying hands of others, be they enemies foreign or abroad. All of these things are our noble traditions which you say you wish to restore, and yet these statues, representing their antithesis, stand.

“Thus it is the plea of an old man, Your Royal Highness, that he be permitted to in fact aide in your restoration of British Liberty, by this simple act of tearing down these statues which are antiethical to that Liberty, and erecting those which I preserved, of our great heroes of the past—of His Majesty King George the Fourth of Sir Henry Havelock, and of Sir Charles Napier—and restoring them to their rightful place.

“It is a plea which also consists, it is true, of a request for money and publicity I could gain myself; but there is a reason for that, Your Royal Highness. I desire to see from..” And here his voice nearly broke as he acknowledged the fact: “I desire to see from my liege, Her Serene Majesty, from the All-Highest of the Empire, a resolute stance toward the restoration of the old ways and manners of my people, toward a benevolent and flexible attitude which shall allow, in years to come, the Briton to declare that he is indeed the freest of all humanity, and perhaps of all Her Serene Majesty's subjects, for his traditional rights are preserved, and if we do not have a sovereign nation, then, surely, we have the privilage to look out over the land and call it our own, or my own, should I own some piece of a shire; and to stand and be judged before a court of our peers; to bear arms, and to employ them in the defense of our homes and livlihoods, and to speak without ever fearing reprisal: And in this way shall the Briton be known to be free again. I desire, therefore, a request of Her Serene Majesty, that she demonstrate her benevolent commitment to that cause by the gift of the fourth statue of Tralfagar Square, the stature of the aforementioned Sir Winston Spencer Churchill.

“And the legitimacy and the right of my request before this hearing, I shall now demonstrate. I cede the floor.”

The Archduchess of Ghwalik nodded imperceptibly. “Thank you for your opening arguments, Lord Algernon,” she said, and then looked to her page and spoke softly; again the young woman went forward.

“Mister Keeling? If you will come before the presider and present the opening of your counterargument to the hearing?” The young girl asked softly, smiling as she had before, as the Barrister smiled a winning smile back and rose and approached the court. The Duke of Northumberland was a stirring speaker, but he spoke in mindless primitive muck, of values which no civilized race would uphold.

The problem was that there was a real chance that the Talorans didn't count as a civilized race, and this he would have to test, and appeal to every biological instinct of their own to win, carefully and delicately, in a symbolic case which was, nonetheless, more important any other case he had ever defended before a court or tribunal.

“Your Royal Highness, I have taken it upon myself to defend the unique cultural development of the British nation—which His Grace actually intends to tear down, rather than to somehow restore. This is a task which to me is certainly one of personal interest, for I have fought long and hard to preserve everything which is loved about Britain, and true British Liberty: A spirit of tolerance and openness to all.

“You Talorans must certainly understand the grave difficulties in balancing the multiethnical interests of a species with many distinct and unique varieties, as you have succeeded in doing, and also the rights of other species as well. In Britain we have done this through a great spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness which began at the very time that His Grace claims that the degeneration of British society began. That is simply false, and I am able to prove it.

“I furthermore am prepared to prove that the actual nature of those statues is to properly reflect British sentiment—our love for those who overcome adversity and bring new live into the world, our revulsion with war and violence, our belief in the importance of helping the Mother Earth recover from industry—as your own world maintains many green spaces which would have been chewed under by the industrial lords of Earth—and our believe in democracy uniting all peoples, no matter who different, which is in fact liberating, and not crushing, and a true measure of the equality and rights of all the peoples of humanity, and of all sentient races.

“To these sentiments I appeal, Your Royal Highness. Your species has, by biological fortune, been spared many of the divisive issues of humanity, of our race and sex imbalances which have led to oppression and war. But I hope that simply because of your fortune that the monuments to our own long and hard struggles to eradicate these efforts, to create a true British Liberty, can be preserved, and thus that our integration into the Taloran Empire will make us lose none of our inclusiveness and love of democracy and peace which have previously typified the true and enlightened British people.

“This is what I am prepared to demonstrate, and in demonstrating it I am confident that the weight of the case rests with my defense: That I can and will show that not only does His Grace not have legal standing for his appealing, but he has no moral or cultural grounds for his claims, either. Thank you, Your Royal Highness, and I shall now cede the floor.”
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

(This is a short-story in five parts, and this is the third part.)

Again the Shepherd's crock was slammed down to the floor in a steady pulse, the claimant and the defender sitting, waiting, as the trial proper began.

“His Grace the Duke of Northumberland shall rise and present to the court the justification for his appeal, in the customary manner,” the Archduchess Gwalik declared, and whispering to her page again, sent the youthful Taloran girl to ceremonially summon the Lord Algernon.

“Your Grace's presence is requested before the Lady of the Court,” she said modestly, bowing and waiting for Lord Algernon to rise.

It was a fond interplay between the two as Lord Algernon rose and smiled to the woman, so alien and yet so fundamentally polite in her approach and mannerism, courtly, in a way that the people of his world no longer were. It was a nice gift, altogether, for an old man.

“Your Royal Highness,” he began, standing before her with a straight back, yet hands lightly opened, a suppliant before a great and mighty power to which he was loyal, and a suppliant before nothing else, he began. The evidence for the case was not to be any sort of demonstration of statistics. It was, in the classical format, the power of the rhetoric of the arguments, a case to be decided on strength of oratory.

“Tell thy Empress: Deliver us from Babylon! In the name of God, the Almighty, the Lord of the Universe, the One God who spoke to Zarathrustra and Eibermon as he did to Abraham—Deliver us from Babylon! Jerusalem is in bondage, Highness; her people strain to be freed!”

At once Lord Algernon held the attention of the court. His argument was totally unexpected, and yet entirely powerful. The allegory was not lost on the Archduchess Gwalik, either. She leaned slightly forward, her ears attentive, fully aware of the religious allusions at which Keeling could not help but cringe.

The Lord Algernon stood before the court, balding, lightly bearded, his hair gray, his clothes black and fine, complete to the tailcoat, the picture of an ancient gentleman. Buckled at his side—for he had understood fully that no Taloran noble would ever been seen in public without such an archaic symbol of chivalry—was a family sword, and for his age he nonetheless bore the weight well.

He stood, firm upon the ground, his hands an articulate accompaniment to his words, as he laid out for this little court in the Tower, the argument that was to be the purpose of his life. The future of his nation hung in the balance, here, of his legacy and his history and of all that it meant to be English. Therefore, he would on this day give his utmost, and determination echoed in the fibre of his body.

The young Page watched, eagle-eyes fixed in upon the Lord Algernon, not once deviating from watching, observing, fascinated as though entranced or even something more. He had an audience, to be sure; but he must reach it or his argument would nonetheless perish, and with it, England.

“This nation was once Jerusalem. The shining city, blessed by God, raised out of the azure main, given to power over the world. It was so blessed because of the great attributes of her people, constant in every circumstance. There is no other way to believe that the blessing of God would shine down upon one country, save that they were entirely worthy of it.

“We have lost this blessing, of course. We are no longer worthy. Jerusalem has gone to her Babylonian Captivity. I ask that the people of Jerusalem be allowed back to the city of their ancestors—by which I mean the customs, the social organization, the bedrock mores and traditions of the great English nation.

“I am simply asking nothing less, and nothing more, than that my country be allowed to make an effort to restore our favour in the eyes of God. I am asking, Your Royal Highness, that all our traditions be restored. Those things which made us good and just and moral be given back to us.

“That, then, is the underlying firmament of the argument which I am presenting to you. Ultimately, I am asking the All-Highest Empress to give back to the English people what makes them English.

“I chose, therefore, to make my case on the basis of the most grave offence against the dignity of our nation, on the monument to the destruction of our values. Trafalgar Square was the place of our old glories. Now it is a miserable ruin, a monument to the depravity of those who ended our greatness through their own lack of willingness to sacrifice. Let me tell you why it is important.

“In the year eighteen hundred and five of the Gregorian count, a mighty force was gathering on the European continent to invade these fair islands. It was under the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, raised from the minor Corsican nobility by the French revolution to, with his 'whiff of grapeshot', master of France by the sword. He desired to master also Europe, and for this purpose with his ally the King of Spain mustered a combined fleet of thirty-three ships of the line. Off Cape Trafalgar, upon the coast of Spain, our own fleet of twenty-seven of the line encountered the Franco-Spanish fleet in the month of November, on the fifth day of that month. Our fleet was commanded by the great Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, who had already given an eye and a leg in the service of his country.

“His plan was brilliant in its simplicity. Rather than form the ships up in the line, he ordered his own vessels, in two groups, to run straight into the Franco-Spanish line, to brave their fire, to close to point-blank range, and then cut the fleet in three. The van would have to double back to engage, and in the meanwhile he would have the advantage over the centre and the trail of their column. He set this plan in motion with a simple order: 'England expects that every man will do his duty.'

“Nelson's last order to the fleet was: 'Engage the enemy more closely.'” Their full attention was on him now, when he began the sentence like that. “He was killed in action that day. Once alongside the enemy ships, the ropes secured for boarding, the guns firing through the wooden hulls with such power as to send great splinters tearing through the decks and impaling men, there was nothing more for the commanding officers to do than to inspire their men. So he and his flagship's Captain strolled the decks, telling stories to each other, until a sniper struck a fatal blow to the great Admiral.

“He was never defeated in his whole life, and he was not defeated at Trafalgar, either. The whole of the Franco-Spanish fleet was wiped out, with perhaps half a dozen of their ships escaping, and not the loss of a single English liner. This victory, therefore, exemplified the whole of the greatness of the English nation in her prime. Steadfast, calm, resolute, courageous, all of it combining to bring about a glorious victory, indeed. He was suitably honoured, and that, of course, meant Trafalgar Square, and Nelson's Column at its centre—the last part of the Square, to hoary for even the most debased ancestors of the noble English of those times to dare defame.

“Gradually to the four plinths followed other greats. A favoured monarch of the other, who stood for English tradition, and our victors of India: Napier, victor at Sindh and over the Sikhs, the man who brought life to the Indian women, in saving them by his strong stance from the pernicious influence of the suttee--the burning of widows alive. Havelock, who tirelessly fought unto his own death from sickness against the Sepoys in their mutiny against our rule, a great battle to preserve our Empire and save the Anglo-Indian population from massacre at the hands of the Sepoys, who ignored the laws of war. Those were the men who occupied the first three plinths.

“The last plinth was never filled. Almost two centuries have the square was first founded, a great effort was made to find a suitable statue for it. But the times had changed. In the past fifty years before that, the gut had been sapped from us. That is where, ultimately, it came to be that the statue of a nude pregnant disabled woman came to occupy a space of honour alongside these heroes and greats of our nation.

“Your Royal Highness, we had lost what made us great. I will not presume to say precisely how, for who can undertake to name the point at which a nation's morale was broken? Through four long centuries were managed to struggle on, like Rome in her fall, cycling through efforts to recover our greatness, and the depths of despair and depravity between them into which we plunged. Untouched due to fortunate happenstance by the great flu-plagues of the twenty-first century of the Gregorian Count, we recovered briefly, and plunged all the deeper. Those we had imparted with our culture on foreign shores returned when our numbers dwindled, when we no longer cared enough to even reproduce, to give life to another generation; they sustained us, reinvigorated us, and allowed us to press on.

“Yet through it all the rot was there. The statue had been raised to be temporary in the fourth plinth. It stayed, and it stayed a symbol of the rot in our hearts. Even as we reached for the stars, our hearts had grown empty and dead. We were no longer believers in who we were. We had no stomach for the way of our ancestors. There was no hope for our future, and we thrashed about as in a miasma of nihilistic despair.

“That was precisely what we were in. We have stopped being English; we do not have any connections to our ancestors any longer. They have been stripped from us, our pride sundered. We fought on by ideologies, competing with each other, and these have sustained us for a while. But at last we failed under the great press of the ideology of human unity. No nations, just people.

“It is a sinister thing to forget the customs and traditions of a nation. They are what give each generation the hope, and impart to them the duty, of producing another generation and passing on to it the torch of life. We no longer hold this desire, and there is no legacy of it in the unity of humanity. Only the grand promise of perfect equality among all humanity, which as a practical matter has proven to give rise only to more brazen ideologies, and with them, constant political turmoil. It was, of course, that political turmoil which gave rise to the promise of the United Terran Homeland Party, to try and create a nationalism based on love of the soil of the whole Earth.

“You cannot create nationalism! It is not something which springs forth fully grown. It is the development of the history of a people. When one tries to imitate this one has succeeded in only creating a pernicious ideology. Something which to legitimize itself must turn on those outside its borders, even as it holds those borders as religiously sacrosanct. This, then, was the final death of the old order. For thousands of years tradition ruled in the hearts of all peoples, and when it was removed we were gifted with centuries of tumult.

“I have a duty to my people. Her Serene Majesty also has a duty to the English people; if she is to hold feudatory rights over the English, then she must permit them their customs and traditions. All of philosophical and religious understanding here agrees. The right of a ruler depends on the quality of their rule. You have thrown out the madmen, and so you have gained the right to rule. Would you squander it, now? I think you wise enough to avoid that.

“We have been placed under the lords of evil. You now have the chance to liberate us from them. Our traditions are repressed, and supplanted by base accusations at our history and every encouragement toward licentiousness and self-indulgence. Foremost in representation of this are the statues at Trafalgar Square.

“They took down the heroes! They replaced them with nobodies; and in doing so they gave us the statement that all of the virtues of the English which made us great were evil and false, as those virtues would have proven lethal to their ideologies and must have been ground up and annihilated to make those ideologies succeed in enslaving us. And they were ground up and annihilated. We were taught systematically to hate our past, that whatever we desired was acceptable, that we should never think of a higher cause than our own self-indulgence.

“This success of their's has left us in bondage. Our children no longer know their heritage. They no longer think it a proud thing to be English. Only among a few old men, already eccentrics in centuries past, is the true legacy held.” His look was full of expressive emotion, now: “Do not let us die out, Your Royal Highness. You hold the power to point the way forward for the English people—to say, 'yes we shall not act against your customs, but we shall also remove those prior impositions which have acted against your customs'. To restore to us our traditions.

“We have nothing left except for this hope. Our ability to save ourselves has been lost. There must be some sort of outside push, a directive to set us back on a course to recovering the lost traditions of our ancestors. Such a thing can only come from you. We need, in the name of Her Serene Majesty, the act which will prove to our people that the old ways still hold legitimacy, and indeed, they hold our only hope for a future. This is about declaring that the traditions of the English people are worth maintaining.

“It is my right to demand the preservation of these traditions which legitimize my status as the Duke of Northumberland from Her Serene Majesty. Without these traditions, Your Royal Highness, monarchy in this country has no purpose save as a foreign imposition. To restore to the nobility of England all our ancient power, is useless without also restoring the traditions which brought greatness to us, moderation to our deliberations, and a stern and steadfast bearing which allowed us to look out for the best interests of our people rather than our own wealth and indulgence.

“I would, therefore, make with my armed men for Trafalgar Square, and demolish that which has been imposed upon the English nation. This is a simple act of preservation for the English nation. We must show that the sacred cows of the ideologies that oppressed us can be smashed, can be destroyed, that our chains can be, in symbol, broken—and therefore, broken in reality. I would demonstrate this to the whole of the English people, and that is my goal in asking for the demolition of the statues.

“It is my right because it is my duty, Your Royal Highness. That simple, and that complex. You have restored to me the ancient powers of my line. Now I must use them to insure that the people of the nation are preserved from the evils which have, in the interregnum of those powers, oppressed them thoroughly, sapping their strength, their moral courage, their creativity, and all of the virtues for which they were once famous. Insomuch as you desire to make the English nobility noble once again, to restore to us all the privilages and all the duties of our class, you cannot ignore this request, because if I am not allowed to execute it, you simply make a hollow farce of our traditions, and place us over the people without restoring the bedrock of the reasons why we should be there in the first place—the customs and traditions and the history which made the English great, and to the nobility, impressed upon them the sense of duty necessary to be worthy of their place and position.

“We are your people as much as every other people over which the All-Highest Empress rules. That is why, then, I ask of Her Serene Majesty to provide for us in the restoration of our traditions, and the raising up those who deserve admiration. The coin asked of Her Serene Majesty is small, but the purpose is great. It is nothing less than an affirmation by our new rulers of the legitimacy of our heritage, and therefore, of our rights as Her Serene Majesty's vassals to retain our traditions and our heritage; to be, in short, English, rather than simply another oppressed people yearning for freedom, a situation which makes recourse to pernicious ideologies so easy.

“You cannot rule us without these traditions. You don't have the right, unless you give us back the heritage which made us great under such a system in days past. This is your test, the test of your people—if you have been ordained over us, as I hope is the case—or if you have simply gained us by main force. You must make the choice. You cannot deny us our heritage if you mean to rule us, for all the moral government to which you ascribe would thereupon be rendered hypocritical.

“Your Royal Highness, you must take this stance. You must stand up before the people of England and tell them that under Taloran Law they shall again be English. And it is my duty as an English Lord to insure that this is done. This, I say, is the best way to go about it. So let us not tarry long, and let the people lose any more hope. Let us stand together and say what must be said, and do what must be done. Let us say that the ideologies of old are disgraced, and the heritage of further ages past is restored. And let us prove it, through this act of the restoration of the symbols of the pride of my people. If it offends some, so be it. That is a small price to pay for the future of a whole people.

“If you are to rule us, then rule us well. Give us back our meaning. Give us back our pride. Give us back our history. Give us back our Jerusalem.” He fell silent, the main course of his appeal concluded in those last and powerfully soft sentences. The court fell to silence, the Talorans studiously emotionless.

Now it would be the turn of Michael Keeling to rebut his argument, and then put forward his own argument as to why the legacy of the past centuries ought be preserved, and history moved past.

As Lord Algernon sat, he saw to his curiousity that the Page seemed to be vaguely smiling.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Deo Gracia

(An unrelated short-story.)

The rain was falling rather heavily as the Qrakh clansmen struggled up the slope toward their opponents, the greatly outnumbered Sylarsh. A horde of arrows and sling-stones rained down against the Qrakh shield-wall through the driving rain, but as the direction of the wind blew back toward the Sylarsh the missiles were of minimal effect to the scale-mail and studded leather armour and great round shields of the Qrakh clan.

The moment they struggled to the top of the slope which overlooked the Farniak as it flowed down toward the Taliya Sea, their five thousands of warriors would overwhelm the three-thousand of Sylarsh, and the power of the enemy clan would be broken once and for all now that they had foolishly committed to a pitched battle so soon after their great losses at Ralseen Bridge to the Ygarians. Nobody in the Qrakh ranks really considered that there would be any problem with this scenario.

Up on the slope, a very short, almost mannishly short, woman sat on a Rostok armoured for war. Her hair was seaweed green and tied up in a bun; her ears were focused attentively upon the Qrakh struggling up the slope. It was sight not unlike those she had seen countless times before, up to and including the Battle of Ergash when she had caught her enemies in a geographic funnel with a scratch force and chopped thoroughly up, allowing that selfsame force to escape and her hopes to survive.

She was heavily armoured in cast iron plate, and her expression matched the cold iron of her dress, helmet tucked under one arm. The Qrakh were firing some arrows up the slope thanks to the wind being in their favour, but they weren't really a danger, not by her experience of battle, anyway.

There were a few around her, old men and her mother's Grand Sheriff, the lady who had taught her everything she knew of war since she was just a small infant, and the regency council was alienating the people of Valeria to the point that she had been thrown out at the tender age of five, and fought the battle of Ergash not long after, a strapling youth scarcely capable of conscious discourse and of course entirely inexperienced in command.

Well, ten years later she was down to three hundred cavaliers, eight hundred footmen, and three guns. The former were drawn up on the reverse slope, and to this, she smiled grimly. It would be quite the surprise for the clans, where the terrain for the raising of Rostok and the ability to bear their cost was quite rare.

If the Qrakh struggling up that slope had known who was waiting for them, they might have taken a second thought to the attack. But even the sight of a few great chieftans on rostok was not completely unheard of in the far north, and it was ignored. The Heirs of Valera had a mystical status among the northern tribes, freshly imprinted with faith in the Lord Farzbardor, and pagan ways fresh in their memory.

The Great Queen of Grenya Colenta, however, was more of an idea than a reality. The Empire had been gone for some time. All that was left was the city. And then, in Saverana's youth, even the city was gone. She was crowned as a child, her mother killed in one of the futile efforts to regain territory, an only child raised from youth to govern a city and its surroundings, the fading memory of when the dynasties of the Three Sisters might claim to rule half of the known world. Now not a single territory upon Grenya Colenta was ruled by the heirs of Valera.

“It is strange, that we are finally brought to the point of being mercenaries,” sighed one of the old men.

“Only that we might hire mercenaries, Lord Kavlan,” Saverana replied with a cool laugh. “The Sylarsh shall pay us mightily, seeing as their numbers are so weak but their occupation is mostly robber-barons for the river traffic. And after today.. Well, they are not going to argue about my terms any longer.”

“It still burns.”

A soft snort. “Would you rather have me, Lord Kavlan, go to exile with the Lelolan or the Midelan branch? To abandon the territory of In'ghara and seek refuge with our lesser sisters who were placed over their territories by her grace? To see the heritage of the Sword which struck the first blow upon Moloyr lost forever? Nay! I shall fight firm on this ground until I am either laid in it, and report my failure to the great ancestor in person in the halls of the dead; or else I have won back my city and my ancestral lands.

“There is no dishonour in war for one's Kingdom, if one stands firm. And we have been doing that for a long time, now.”

Saverana turned toward the chieftan of the Sylarsh and changed from the high court language, impenetrable to any northern barbarian, and adressed him in his own tongue, as she had learned in her fighting exile. “Withdraw whenever you wish. My men are ready to counterattack.”

She wiped the rain from her brow, affixed her helmet, and, maintaining her Royal dignity, did not bother with any more words to her nominal employer as she led her small party down to where the heavily armoured rostok lancers were waiting, every one of them of the unreconciled nobility of the Empire, many her relatives, and prepared to adhere to her cause to the bitter end.

There was not a long wait. The Qrakh reached the top of the slope and set their shield wall against that off their mortal blood-enemies in this writ-large version of the constant clan warfare of the northern ranges. The Sylarsh, for their part promptly retreated...

...And the Qrakh were confronted with the sight of three hundred rostok armoured for war, drawn up in battle formation with pennons fluttering from their long lances, and three strange contraptions, like bronze flower vases, affixed sturdily with many ropes to wooden sledges upon the ground before them, manned by a few nimble gunners, protecting the flame upon their linstocks with their bodies.

Saverana slammed down the visor to her helmet. “Fire the guns!”

With a huge, devilish roar, the three cannon barked as the linstocks were brought to the primed chambers, a spit of fire and spark rushing out of both barrel and touch-hole, and three tin bolts were sent flying up the reverse slope and into the locked ranks of the Qrakh shield wall. Massive amounts of acrid black smoke plumed over the field from where the cannon had fired, obscuring the lancers for a moment.

“Lances ready!”

They couched their lances for the charge, and Saverana looked to her young page, a girl born on the trail, who held a trumpet ready. “Blow the charge,” she commanded gently.

The clarion notes struck out, and then through the smoke burst three hundred rostok, solid armour and solid armoured Talorans upon them, charging straight in upon the five thousand Qrakh who reeled, disordered far behind the power of the guns, never having before encountered cannon before.

One single thin line, but a thin line of solid iron and muscle and steel-tipped farash wood lances, eighteen feet long, pennons twirled by the air of the charge and the feet of the great war beasts hammering down in rhythmic thuds upon the damp earth.

The distance was not great, and the collision happened in the tattered area of the Qrakh lines, where they had no resistance to the impetuous of the charge and were still in fear of the thundering devil-guns which had spewed forth fire like the gates of Hell. The lance did the real work, though, smashing through rank after rank of the Qrakh and scattering those to the rear, who had no desire to taste the lances of Saverana's cavaliers.

Yashara, the Grand Sheriff, took the right wing, and Saverana the left of honour. They split and wheeled to either side, ignoring the Qrakh before them in full flight down the hill to crash into the two intact flanks. They had killed few of the enemy; perhaps equal to their own number only; the clash had lasted minutes, and it had been completely decisive. Now, though, the enemy tried to rally.

With their lances shattered the cavaliers availed of their hammers of war. The old sword of In'ghara upon Saverana's back was, of course, more a symbol than a weapon now, and a sturdy war hammer with a handle forged the same as the head, of heavy iron cast in one piece, the handgrip of wood and leather and hewed just for her own grip. No strength of arm was required here, except that which the usual rigor of training required. With a practiced ease, the handle—almost three feet long—was raised up and the whole hammer swung down with great momentum and force into the first of the Qrakh footmen which she encountered, as if in some deadly game of polo.

Even though he wore a helmet of iron, the blunt spike of the war hammer pierced straight through it and delivered an immediately fatal hole to his head, bashing the helmet right through and sending his body tumbling off to the side, a neat square smashed out of his skull and the bone forced down and into his brain, a hideous cry leaving the anonymous man's lips as she had heard so many times before.

Soon there were so many others to kill, slamming through them with the hammer and crushing them under the feet of the rostok, hot in the press the Queen leading as she always had, knowing that her purpose now was as a symbol for her desperate cavaliers, the last living member of the line of In'ghara, right out in the front and fighting as her ancestors had, in courage and with skill, not stinting in the vicious blows she dealt out with her war hammer, dealing fatal trauma to the internal organs of countless a soul, male and female, young and old, casting them down with mighty chivalrous blows. Saverana, the warlord, stripped of every pretence, and retaining her crown only by the strength of her body, and the magnetism of her presence on the field.

At the sight of all this, the Sylarsh rallied and attacked the Qrakh left wing. That was intentional, for the right was to come under the attack of her foot, drawn up as pikemen, trilling pipes guiding them out of the woods lower down the slope to where they formed up and attacked, lean and tough veterans all, charging uphill to deliver a vicious blow of steel to the Qrakh in good order, shattering their shield wall.

Though still outnumbering their foes, the Qrakh had soon had enough of this terrific slaughter, as exhausted as the already were from the push uphill. They spilled away to two sides, and Saverana's foot advanced until they could see their lonely Sovereign leading half her cavaliers toward them, alive and well and the banner of the Empire having caught up with her.

Saverana did not pursue. She had not been paid to strike down the fleeing in battle; if they threatened her current employers in the future, well, that was the problem of the Sylarsh and not her own. The morality of her fight? That would be judged by the Lord Farzbardor himself, and no other.

The greedy Quesadi burghers were waiting for her, contrasting greatly to their reputation as fine fighting men in line as pike. These, though, the rich upper class of the Quesadi city-states, just brought forth contempt for Saverana. But she buried it; the Quesadi had fought on the side of her ancestors, and that they disdained monarchs and fought as mercenaries was not her's to judge.

Saverana sat cold and grim, as the money she had exacted from the Sylarsh for her services, and others, and indeed, all of the crown jewels of the Empire and every other relic which had been preserved was brought forward and placed before the Quesadi officials.

They then proceeded to count all of the jewels and the fine gold and silver and the coin, to their satisfaction, and Saverana sat out quietly in the open, doing nothing, and enduring that indignity as the heirlooms of her family fell into the hands of the Quesadian burghers before her eyes, by her own command, for the sake of a half-hope.

“You know what I want,” Saverana said when that sad spectacle was done and finished before her. The burghers, all of the greatest and most democratic of the cities, Quesadia, at least, had the decency to stand before her.

They produced a list. “You want a fleet, Your Majestie, of many fine galleys and ships of large berthern finely crewed, and six thousand and five hundred beside of mercenary pike, and a thousand sappers with axe and grenade, and six great bombards with the trained men to work them, with victuals for eight months, a hundred thousand quivers of arrows, thirty-five tonnes of powder, ten thousand shovels, five hundred wagons, and seven hundred yards of heavy chain, such as for a harbour boom—and the service all the armed men and ships for one year.”

“That is correct.”

“Fourteen thousand talents of silver, Your Majestie, shall gain for you that force for the course of a whole year,” the burgher replied. “Four thousand talents must be presented now, and ten thousand in one year, or else when you have taken the city, for everyone knows what your intent is, we do warn you.”

“But I am the first to hire the mercenaries of your city, yes?” Saverana almost snapped. “We shall not have any contractual retreats here, hmm?”

“That I assure you is so. None thought that you could afford it... And, if I must say, Your Majestie, the value of what you have given us here is only three thousand and eight hundred talents of silver. We cannot sign the contract unless you present us the rest of the cost.”

Saverana sat in silence, with bloody thoughts of murder in her blood-red eyes, so perfect for rage, like the right eye of her glorious ancestor had been given to her twice.

At last, she turned and clapped her hands. Her page approached, the girl young, and still somewhat shaken from the bloody battle along the Farniak. She leaned in, and whispered to the girl's ear:

“Bring the Crown; the Imperial Crown, which In'ghara took from the dead body of Moloyr for her mother, and placed on her own head when the Great Ancestor declined it.”

Eyes wide, the girl raced to her task.

When she returned, she was followed by Lord Kavlan and the Grand Sheriff, desperate looks on their faces, pleading, at the shame and the indignity of what Saverana planned to do.

The page gingerly handed the crown over to Saverana, and then fled lest the wrath of the cavaliers fall upon her.

Saverana, herself, stood, and advanced to the wooden table which held much of the treasures which had been presented, placed over a blanket on the ground. And on this thick table she set down the crown.

“How much do you access it worth?”

The Burghers were for once speechless. “The Crown of Moloyr, Majestie?”

“Nay! The metals in it; for it is of solid gold; and the gems upon it, the many fine opals and sapphires and rubies and the Great Diamond of the Despot of Gharadai. What are their failures? Tell me that and not the value of the crown.”

The burghers conferred for many minutes; perhaps a third of an hour, and Saverana stood there coldly the whole while, silent, inscrutable even to her closest friends and to her mentor, who watched with shock at what was happening. To sell a crown is to sell a kingdom, is it not? they all thought, shaken by their mercenary act, and now to the point of believing their Sovereign mad at the lengths she was willing to go, to drive her own honour into the dust for the sake of the city of Valeria.

The Burghers returned their opening: “Your Majestie, the components of the crowning, ignoring their worth as a whole, would be worth perhaps three hundred talents of silver.”

“Very well.”

“You.. You would give us the crown, then, to seal the contract?”

“Nay.” In one swift, almost angry motion, Saverana drew the sword of In'ghara from the scabbard across her back. It had patches of rust upon it, due to its great age and despite the care always lavished on it to preserve it. But its steel was steel good and thick, and not given to be brittle, and it struck well and true when it was called, now, to do damage to the mortal world for the last time that it would ever be so called.

Saverana struck the crown of Moloyr clean in two with the first blow, soft gold sundered by stern iron. And then she struck again, and again, and again, as Lord Kavlan watched in silent shock and the Grand Sheriff openly wept. The former did not understand; the later did, and that was why she wept, at the great courage and honour of the act, until she had sliced the crown into twenty-three pieces, and the jewels had been shaken loose and rolled upon the table.

“There are your three hundred talents,” Saverana spoke sternly as she held the sword in two hands before her, reverently. “Now give me your contract to sign, and I shall sign as the Great Queen of Grenya Colenta; for I have no need of a crown to proclaim me such, as the Sword of In'ghara shall suffice, and in the future the heirs I will bear of my body, who shall rule over my domains in Valeria, shall be girt with this sword, and its iron will master the gold of the crown of every other monarch by the Lord's Grace.”
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

(ed. -- a trasam is a Taloran traditional measurement approximating 208 meters.)

Oh, Valeria! How far the splendid city has fallen!

What if I told you that the city of my ancestors had walls of two hundred and fourty trasam? What if I told you that these walls were fourty of your feet high? That they were but the exterior walls of a city also defended by an interior wall sixty feet high, a half-trasam back from the exterior walls? Would this impress you? But it is scarcely all; for beyond the city there were the Long Walls, fourty-seven trasam long from the western edge of the city to the port of Tyfalaris, a trasam apart and with a grand road between them on which six Yatila could walk abrest, which could be used with rollers to transport heavy blocks of granite from ships in the harbour to the city itself, in addition for the regular transport. That these walls were fourty feet high, and had a tower placed every tenth of a trasam that was twenty feet above the walls?

What if I told you that the walls of Tyfalaris were themselves were fifty-five trasam long, and two walls of a trasam each provided cover for the dockyard district right down to the sea towers, each of which was eighty feet in height and a hundred in diameter? That, on every side, these walls were built to a height of fourty feet, save along the docks where they were thirty feet; and that, additionally, two walls of twelve and a half trasam and twelve trasam respectively, also of thirty feet, protected the spits which defined the mouth of the harbour, and on each of these was a fortress built with walls sixty feet in height, ramparts extending right to the sea, and established for a garrison of a thousand men?

Along the splendid inner walls of Valeria there were built buildings, which would reach three or four stories above the walls themselves, of which the inner walls were twenty yards thick, and the outer walls, fifteen, their sides built at a slope of 85 degrees. A road twenty feet wide ran along the inner wall at its top; and all the buildings, facing the outside side, were strongly built with windows shuttered by iron by law, so that they might be used defensively? And on the outer walls, every twenty yards, a tower fifteen feet above the height of the wall. Every trasam along the walls, also, there was a cross-wall thirty feet high, which was the only communication with the outer walls save the gates, and divided the space between the walls into more than two hundred kill-boxes, which even if breached would be surrounded on every side by massed archery fire.

There were sixteen fortresses along the walls, one at the center of each of the sides, and one at the midway point in each direction toward the corners. One of these fortresses guarded the place where the Long Walls met the main walls, the other three largest guarded the main gates, and the remaining twelve provided secondary gates, with each of these fortresses containing a garrison of one to two thousand soldiers. The fortifications continued inside the city, however, where the Blue Palace of In'ghara stood in its all its splendour: The exterior walls, fourty feet high with twenty foot towers. The interior walls: seventy feet high with towers of twenty feet as well. Four gates, one facing each of the major throughfares, and each guarded by double towers a hundred feet high, with a similar such tower at each corner. This structure was called the Blue Palace because the walls were covered entirely in tiles of an azure colour, contrasting marvelously with the towers at the gates, which were faced in red sandstone, and the gates, embossed in copper.

These walls altogether were not less than twenty-five trasam in circumference—the interior walls alone! The exterior walls were thirty-tree trasam in circumference, and so the Blue Palace was larger than even the Red Fort of Agra as it was built by your Ackbar the Great. And within those walls, let us linger at the culture at the culture of the place. There were the five interior palaces, at which the Great Queen of Grenya resided in the central and largest, the Opal Palace, named after its reception room which had a ceiling lined with milky white opals (the walls were gold, to better reflect the light of a few lamps to great brilliance). There was a temple before each one of the entrances, and dominating it, so that visitors might put themselves right with the Lord Justice before approaching the presence of the Heir of the Sword of God. These temples were covered through and through with massy silver and had domes covered in gold leaf; they had fine white marble in the interior, and fountains hewed of crystal for the suppliants to ritually bath before they approached confession.

The whole of this conurbation, of Valeria and Tyfalaris, along with the people who lived along the Long Walls and the shores of the harbour, where the rich maintained many fine villas with priceless artworks and wonderful planned gardens, maintained a population of more than two and a half millions of people, and was underpopulated for the size that the walls enclosed, being as it was a great commercial center and administrative complex and so unusually wealthy for a city, and space was thought to be therefore a valuable item in and of itself. It was generously provided with gardens, and with a hundred and fifty great temples for all the Estates to the Lord of Justice; and there were thirty monasteries besides for the Orders of the Temples, and beyond this in turn, was the great Parliament, facing toward the east and the territories of the nobles, where they would come once every year to meet and make their appeals before the Great Queen who held them all in thrall.

Well provided with six grand theaters seating fifteen thousand each, a racing course capable of seating two hundred and fifty thousand, and an amphitheatre capable of seating one hundred and twenty thousand, all of them of marble-sheathed granite, the city was supplied with water by a series of eight aquaducts, four subterranean and four elevated, and masonry pipes supplied the whole city with water and also served for the emptying of effluents into the ocean beyond the bay. The city boasted fifty public baths, each of which was worked as finely as a palace, with many pleasing statues of marble and copper to relaxer the eye of the bather. Under the city were cisterns which could provide the population with fresh water, it was said, for two Taloran years, should all the aquaducts be poisoned or blocked, and food was stored for an equal length of time, and distributed regularly to the poor for free as fresh food was brought in to replace it in the storehouses, lest any spoil.

From the roofs of the palaces and the temples and the villas of the wealthy it was said the sun was reflected back with equal intensity, so that the city gleamed like a great torch on the horizon from the moment of the first crack of dawn until the last flicker of light in the evening—because those roofs were covered entirely by gold leaf and massy silver. Even the chimneys of the great houses were decorated with ceramics, and at the circular intersections of all the major streets there were the equestrian statues of one hero or another, one famous Great Queen of the past, and the central Grand Course, the square street around the Blue Palace which connected the four main thoroughfares of the city, was lined with lifesize statues of Yatila with armed men on their backs blowing celebratory trumpets, all of them facing toward the palace, and the statues of bronze.

I would tell you all of this, and it would be true. That is the city of In'ghara, beautiful and splendid Valeria, Valeria, the capital of more than two hundred millions at the height of its glory, of an Empire spanning Grenya Colenta. It was the Imperial City, the centre of our civilization and our nation, and even Quesadia paled in comparison to it in those days--a city which was finer and larger, I am told, than even Imperial Chang'an of your Tang Dynasty, which fell short of Valeria by some five hundred thousands of souls, and further still in splendour.

But Gold does not long Rule. Valeria, over the centuries, fell into waste and despair. The statues were melted down and the metal used for weapons; the massy silver and the gold leaf was removed and used for coin. People chipped the tiles from the walls of the Blue Palace and used them in their homes. The villas of the rich sold their treasures lest they fall into bankruptcy, and the government no longer had the money to maintain the walls. They fell into disrepair, as a riot of buildings were built atop them; then they fell into more disrepair as those structures were abandoned and rotted themselves and caused damage to the walls on which they were built.

Plagues came and many areas of the city were left empty, or as graveyards. The grand apartments crumbled away, and the roads were in despair. Even the temples were eventually robbed for their treasures by desperate rulers, who were punished duly for their transgressions against the Lord.

Despite all this, no barbarian army nor the army of any rival state had ever pierced the walls of Valeria, and they were regarded as something of awe, an almost religious status accorded to the impregnable fortifications of the city. Even greatly decayed, these walls could scarcely be breached.

The city ultimately came to such a low that it held less than two hundred thousand people, with perhaps another hundred thousand within the rest of the walls. This was the native population; there were beside fifty thousand foreigners, and the garrison of the King of Fyli who had, of late, taken the city by strategem in the minority of Saverana I, so not even then had the walls been tested.

But in the ten years since the taking of Valeria by the King of Fyli a great event had happened—the siege of Rustava, where the soldiers of Quesadia had demolished the walls of their rival with a battery of siege bombards, firing 200lb iron balls. In this way they had reduced the city in fifteen days. At once the Quesadians had commissioned even greater bombards, and these weapons excited much interest in the warring Kingdoms which had replaced the Empire.

Saverana, in her long exile, was not ossified by the now cowed and subdued old nobility of the city; only her loyal exiles, who regarded her as their last hope. She was her own woman, raised hard on the campaign trail by old soldiers, fighting for her life, in the front rank, every time. She understood the nature of war, and the cannons had excited her great interest—so a large portion of the sum which forced her to chop up the crown of Moloyr was actually spent in the obtaining of the cannon and a vast supply of powder for them. They were even large bombards, of stave and hoop design of iron, and firing iron balls of 330lbs, and she would have six.

It was with this six bombards that she intended to undertake the siege of an impregnable city, who's garrison outnumbered her small army.

But first she would have to take the seacoast forts which guarded the approaches to the harbour. These fortifications the King of Fyli, judging the greatest threat was from the sea when none would dare directly assault the city's great walls, had invested in repairing, and in mounting in each one two cannon-royal and twelve culverins; for without a line to the sea, her force could surely not survive. And it was to this doubtful task that fourty-eight galleys of war and twenty-four cargo ships of more than five hundred tonnes burden sailed, and a meager force of less than ten thousand cavaliers and men-at-arms, besides eight hundred archers collected from among the tribes of the north at the last moment.

And so it was that Saverana prepared to make war over the corpse of her family's glory.

The Strength of the Forces of Saverana I at the Siege of Valeria:

48 light galleys of ~250 tonnes, carrying each 350 oarsmen (slaves), 80 officers and seamen and gunners, and about 165 armed men; altogether 96 "vase" cannon of bronze or brass firing tin bolts and 8,000 armed men with axe, pike, bill, and bow who may also fight ashore. The rowing slaves may bear a pavise ashore, and a store of twelve thousand has been provided for this purpose.

24 ships of 500 - 700 tonnes burden, carrying:

500 fully armoured lancers mounted upon rostok-of-war, also armoured.

6,500 Quesadian Pike.

1,000 Grenadiers with axe and shield.

1,000 Pike loyal to the Queen.

800 archers of the long bow of foot.

~200 - 250 youths armed with slings.

3 "vase" cannon

2 sakers on sledges

4 trebuchets


6 wrought-iron 330pdr bombards.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Taloran Biology:

The first thing that must be made clear is that Talorans are not humans; they are incapable of reproducing with humans, and they are not very much in possession of any aspects of human biology. They are close to us, per the stellar seeding theory, at about the level of simple bacterium only. We share, therefore, about 60% of our genes with a Taloran, but these are the parts of the genetic code which matter the least. Taloran evolution has proceeded differently than our's, and their appearance is only the result of convergent evolution.

In broad terms, Talorans are Therapsids, and more specifically cynodonts. This is inexact; in more recent studies Talorans are no longer called pseudo-mammals before but pseudo-therapsids. They exhibit a broad number of similarities with these largely mammalian species of the Permian which nonetheless have crucial distinctions to mammals, and it is wrong to precisely call the Talorans mammals as such. They are, however, a highly evolved development of their world's equivalent to cynodonts, only, and to understand why we must look at the development of the world of Talora Prime.

Talora Prime as a planet is only 2.75 billion years old, or about 2 billion years younger than the Earth. It stabilized more rapidly and saw the more rapid development of an oxygen atmosphere. The planet was precociously lucky in terms of impacts; in the past 1 billion years it has had only two impacts large enough to cause mass extinction events, and one of them did so only over about half the globe, preserving the hexapedal reptilianoid lifeforms of Ytalla Island intact with their own distinct biosphere.

Because of this, the evolution of the Taloran species happened with fewer bends and twists, a more direct progression from the early seeded bacteria from the stars which are now believed responsible for most life in all universes at the ultimate core of things. Therapsids as an evolutionary development never saw competition from dinosaurs, and their development in general into more thoroughly mammalian-like forms was compressed and direct.

In this sense, it has been said that the Taloran species is more "primitive" than humans. It is correct if your perspective is such as to assume that the less complex evolutionary path taken, that the fewer winnowing processes, have created a somewhat less perfectly arranged species, which has developed more brute-force evolutionary adaptations than we have and which in some respects has retained some less evolved aspects. However, species are not "primitive" but rather unsuccessful or successful, and the current spread of the Talorans across 65,000 star systems may be sufficient to say that their development was successful in adapting them for life and survival in general.

The crucial differences resulting from these considerations are numerous. For starters, only a few Talora Prime species have live-birth like the Talorans do; this was a very recent evolutionary development of their primate-like branch of the species on Lelola Colenta, and the native fauna of the other two main continents did not replicate it, still laying eggs like monotremes. Being part of a very small number of placental species on Talora Prime makes the Talorans particularly distinctive, and means that few solid adaptations toward maximizing the body shape of Taloran females for live-birth have been made. As a result, Taloran females still have very narrow hips indistinguishable from those of Taloran males, and child-birth is extremely long, difficult, and before the development of modern medicine, quite hazardous.

The result has been the adaptation, conferred on females but largely cross-applicable to Taloran males, that Talorans simply do not go into shock, regardless of the severity of their injuries; or, to put it another way, "they do, but by that point they've already been reduced to the size and consistency of a McDonalds hamburger", which is only a minor exaggeration. This brute force approach to safe child-bearing is relatively functional, if extremely arduous; even the most fecund of Taloran females rarely have more than six children throughout a fertile period in their livespans of several centuries; ten or eleven is the highest number recorded, and twin births in which both survive are almost incomprehensibly rare. Most of these problems have been mitigated by the development of modern technology, and for those with money, use of artificial womb is very normal and accepted, without stigma.

Beyond a slightly different arrangement of the internal organs (slightly different placement of the heart, shifted location of the intestines v. the stomach, and more centrally located kidneys), it should be noted that Talorans are particularly vulnerable to high-altitude hypoxia, and cannot climb to significant distances without supplement oxygen. Denver would be considered extreme altitude for Talorans, and the prospect of a metropolis at that altitude, indeed, brought them more incredulity about the human species than anything else.

Their sexual reproductive nature is also quite different. They share the trait of innumerable 'less advanced' species but of few Mammals that the female is physically larger in all respects. Average heights for Taloran females are 5'10" to 6'6" with heights of 6'8" or 6'10" not uncommon, whereas the males are generally speaking on a range of 5'3" to 5'10". There are fewer hormonal-based behavioural differences between the sexes, and it is in fact a lack of sex hormones which produces behaviour most like human females in Talorans, as in the case of the old practice of creating dhrina or eunuchs, who without the limiting aspect of male sex hormones would develop to female heights and fineness.

The muscles of the Talorans, being more tightly corded, lend them a lean aspect throughout. Males are, pound for pound, stronger than females, but the height and long reach of Taloran females rendered this a moot point for the most part, which became more obvious in warfare in which one's reach with a melee weapon was a critical component, for here females had the advantage. Fat deposits are denser and due to higher metabolism rates tend to develop less, which always made the Talorans, during the extremely long winters of Talora Prime's long orbital period, absolutely dependent on hunting.

This led to one of the most interesting adaptations of the modern Taloran species. Due to the narrow birth canal, the brains of Taloran children are very underdeveloped at birth. They are, however, fully developed small people, capable of aggressively climbing and running within a few days, and other activities more common among the likes of fauns and foals than human babies. They are, however, completely dumb animals; their rapid development of intelligence only begins at the age of 2 Taloran years (6.4 human) at the earliest and is finished by 3 or 3 and a half at the latest. This requires enormous amounts of protein which the always more meat-laden Taloran diet could successfully provide to children, and they are much better at digesting and handling the consequent animal fat than humans, meaning heart disease is thoroughly the species an inconsequential issue.

This does however alter the role of females; instead of caring for the children in a fixed location they had to actively herd their children, which tended to make it impractical to have more than one small child at a time, and also meant that child-rearing for Taloran females is an incredibly active period filled with exertion. This further heightened the tendency of Taloran females to assume a more active role in their society, and necessitated large family groups to keep children safe. Beyond that, the mental development of the children happening at a late stage makes them more abjectly dependent on large groups. Talorans, mentally, can be driven insane simply by being alone for long enough. They need large groups to feel stable, happy, and safe, and so large, extended family residences of 20 - 50 individuals of all ages are, throughout the species, the universal norm of things.

As a further mental extension of this development, the Taloran "fight or flight" instinct is highly predicated on the number of Talorans around in the vicinity. Being reinforced by Lelola Colenta possessing numerous predators which could be taken by a group of early Talorans but which could easily kill a single Taloran, the tendency to run and hide by single Talorans when confronted with violence is universal. When in groups, however, they are at their most ferocious when fighting. Effective training strategies among Talorans in the military therefore revolve around incoulating the recruit with the idea that they are part of a multi-billion strong body throughout the galaxy which is continuously supporting their activities, even when they are entirely alone, and no Taloran combat vehicles have a single person in the crew; even the lightest starfighters have at least two crewers. Disciplined and regimented into groups where their sameness and order compounds itself, their effectiveness is still redoubled, and the tendency of human soldiers to not shoot at the enemy or otherwise hesitate in action is much reduced among Talorans when they are massed in large groups, even without further training.

As an aside to these details, one of the results is that violent crime by singular Talorans is unheard of, and universally considered to be the result of criminal insanity of an incurable sort. Violent criminal gangs are the universal norm of Taloran violent crime, and comprise at least 99% of violent criminal incidents throughout the Empire. Making a spectacle of punishment is more effective for Talorans because of this than with humans. Taloran dueling, furthermore, features the supporters of the duelists on both sides and numerous seconds and thereby mentally reinforcements the combatants into fighting, though even then a settlement on the field is invariably vastly more common than a fight to the bitter end.

Returning to sexual matters, the dimorphism of the species, other than in the height/muscle contrast of females and males, is very slight. Both rely on the hair and eyes of the other as the main sexual displays, which are as with most Taloran species exceptionally colourful, and the hair is always worn long to make the best of it. Only very slight facial differences in terms of the faces of males being somewhat more angular add to the differentiation, and in terms of facial hair some of the males can at most grow a light goatee with much time and effort; for the vast majority of males even that is impossible. Because of this, bisexuality is much more common among Talorans on very strong biological grounds; there is very little short of the actual primary sexual characteristics by which the responses of either sex to the other can be told apart from their opposites, which helps in no small part on leaving homosexuality uncommented upon.

In terms of the actual arrangement of the sexual organs there are some differences between Talorans and humans; these are sufficient to increase the risk in Taloran females of bladder infections and other infections of the uretha, as it is placed in the inverse position, closer to the anus, than the vaginal canal, the reverse of the case in females. The potential equivalent to the prostate is unnecessary in the reproduction arrangement of Taloran males and absent; several areas of pubic cartrilege are also absent in Talorans, which tends to mean that though the two species have the same basic anatomical shapes (though the Taloran male's sexual organ is carried sheathed and the testicles more recessed), the actual sexual positions between the two species which are more comfortable would be quite different. The actual sexual act is a compatible one between Talorans and humans even though unquestionably infertile, but as a practical point the couples would have some experimenting to do on what proved to be comfortable for both of them. One developmental factor of this placement is that the womb is closer to the surface, resulting in more graphic expansion of a Taloran female's belly for pregnancy, but also none of the dehabilitating effects on the bladder and so on, and the lack of pubic cartiledge allows for less likelihood of tearing during the process of childbearing, somewhat compensating for the pain and difficulty of the process generally.

In terms of overall qualities beyond these, the species is certainly even more highly specialized in quality rather than quantity of children than humans, due to the difficulty of birth and investment in the children's development (especially in educational stages, which must be extremely intensive). Once cause, or consequent result of this, is extreme lifespans, on the order of 500 - 600 human years normally without modern medicine, but with modern medicine, easily reaching up to a current record of 870 years equivalent, and genetic developments similar to those which have greatly expanded the lives of humans offer the prospect of pushing the Taloran potential lifespan beyond the millennium mark. This tends to create a risk-adverse, patient species.

As the penultimate detail that must be covered, Talorans make few facial expressions. They are incapable of some; and simply do not make the others normally. Instead they rely on an enormously complex number of expressions capable of being made by their prehensile ears. These ears, which extend 4 - 6 inches above the top of the head from a normal affixed position, do not resemble elf ears whatsoever except in placement, and instead are more like half-width bat ears, tapering down to a fine point and generally more narrow throughout, very thin and with a pronounced hearing cone, bereft of hair and rubbery in the qualities of their thin skin. They are fully prehensile, and can pivot back and away from a loud noise which would otherwise easily deafen them, considering their very sensitive and acute hearing.

These ear-gestures comprise almost all Taloran body language, and actual languages for people unable to speak can be made out of them, including an old Taloran version of sign-language which was done entirely with ears. This makes, to humans, Talorans seem extremely reserved, expressionless, and stoic, when they are in fact much more animated, if only the human perspective could understand the movements of their ears, which can shift positions, bend forward or back, flatten against the head, and so on.

As a last detail, Talorans have six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, a natural development for them in the number of digits, which tends to render their hands more broad than human hands, and confers some advantages in fine manipulation; the sixth finger is normal and fully usable for them, unlike those humans with a rare mutation which have one.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Taloran Military Organization and Culture:

The Taloran Empire has a quite unfamiliar military culture to the modern human military officer, and with good reason. Their idea of service being more perfectly feudal, and their idea of government less ideological, soldiering is simply an inevitable necessity to the peasant so conscripted, and a sacred duty to the officer.

The first thing of note is that there is no reserve status for officers. Officers, when commissioned, are commissioned to "half pay". They are permanently on active duty, but simply not posted to any assignment and given half their normal pay if they were, accruing seniority at half the rate of assigned officers. This makes it easy, in particular, for females to raise children, and for a huge cadre of officers to be available on short notice for combat, all trained, but most in civilian careers as half-paid personnel who can be instantly recalled as needed. Taloran military careers are extremely long, and long periods on half-pay or asking for such status is not considered detrimental.

Officers in general receive more consideration than in modern Terran armies; from the academy forward, they are provided with at least one, and in later stages, easily up to 5 - 10 personal servants to remove all concerns except the military science from their purview when they are on an assigned station. Quarters and provisions for officers are almost universally better, and their expectations in the service are the maintenance of their assigned tasks, without the strictly controlled leave or living arrangements of the enlisted ranks. In exchange, the officer is not seen as a practitioner of a businesslike operation, but a scientist and artist of the old sort, an educated intellectual and historian, who at the same time must be unflinchingly willing to die in battle without a second thought and put oneself in a position of continuous and extreme, even suicidal danger. The large number of officers is not due only to the custom of half-pay, but also due to the expectation of heavy casualties in the commissioned ranks in combat, particularly in the Army and Marines.

The military is broken down into five combat arms, though not all are present in all national service armies; only definitely in the Imperial armed forces, which consist of a Fortress Command of 20 billion active-duty personnel without reserves, a Starfleet of 18 billion active-duty personnel with 9 billion reserves (including the Marines), an Army of 11.5 billion active-duty personnel and 12 billion reserves, a Coast Guard (also in charge of surface naval craft as well as space-fairing patrol) of 10 billion personnel and 3 billion reserves, and Starfighter Corps of 8 billion personnel and 2 billion reserves. The semi-militarized Imperial Customs Patrol has 5 billion active and reserve agents combined and its own armed anti-smuggling craft and search and seizure teams.

The militaries of the Imperial Demesne add to these figures. The Royal Grenyan Army boasts 10 billion active-duty personnel and 15 billion reservists; the Jikari Army, 12 billion active-duty and 18 billion reservists (the most highly militarized segment of the entire Empire), the Dalamarian & New Territories Army, 2 billion active-duty personnel and 2 billion reservists, and some hundreds of millions in the Worlds of the Concordat. Smaller naval forces are part of each military organization, as well as their own fortress commands, starfighter corps, and coast guards, with navies containing marine contingents. Collectively the Empire has around 150 billion active-duty military personnel in all services and 120 billion reservists, plus 5 billion personnel in the Imperial Customs Patrol, out of a current estimated population of around 23 trillions (considering expansion since the last census). It is important to note that the huge Fortress Command has personnel who live in regular homes and never deploy from their assigned bases, being attached to fix installations, by the billions, meaning that the social dislocation is even less than it might seem, with, collectively, a very small percentage of the population in military service at any one time, though another 200 billion or so individuals have military training and are in the local militia cadres; this does mean, however, that in general only 1 out of 45 people in the Empire has ever received any military training or experience, which is a sharp contrast to the idea of the Taloran Star Empire as a heavily militarized state.

The basic structure of the military is the Imperial armed forces, active-duty, and their reserves. Then, the militaries of the various feudatory entities of the Empire, all 3,800 of which have militaries ranging from the 80 armed guards of a tiny principality for ceremonial and patrol duties, up to the vast forces of Lelola and Midela Colenta and Rasilan, which could likely defeat many regional powers of the rest of the multiverse entirely through the efforts of any one of those states. Their reserves exist in turn, and then behind them are the territorial militias organized under their cognizance to provide the last trained manpower cadres, those being entirely for the Army, whereas the other services only utilize reserves, and the strength of their secondary, internal state forces, as they require more specialized training for their personnel.

In terms of recruitment, the system is a quota-based draft in which each village, based on the census, is required to render up a certain number of youths each year for military service. They are then required to service for eight years in active duty and, if their service maintains a reserve, eight years in the reserves. This is not dissimilar to the 19th century Russian system, levy by village, and creates a semi-professional conscript force heavily augmented by innumerable volunteers who receive special privileges, including automatic rank as an officer if one is a college graduate who enlists voluntarily. The Starfleet has its own, somewhat independent system, called the conscription maritime, in which all civilian sailors must mandatorily serve two (taloran) years of naval service at randomly selected periods by the Starfleet.

The technological aspects of the military rely heavily on flash-learning and on neural interfaces which allow for intuitive, direct mental control of complex machinery. Pharmacological warfare is employed throughout, which extensive performance-enhancing drugs being freely issued to military personnel in combat circumstances. Though this technology aides in making up for the general untrained nature of the average soldiers (as does a very large number of specialist, highly trained Warrant Officers), the Taloran military generally relies on rote memorization training and enormous numbers of personnel to make up for its deficiencies; ships actually go on deployment with crews that are twice the size they are needed even for full combat in wartime or when on hazardous deployment (for example a battlecruiser can operate in combat with a crew of 15,000, but ships with 30,000 to a warzone); the extra personnel serve as replacements for casualties, to maintain the ship operational during sustained engagements or operations when not even drugs can keep the crew functional long enough, and as overwhelming manual damage control parties to smother damaged sectors in hands and guarantee tight, quick, and effective repairs.

Army doctrine revolves around disciplined assaults with masses, frontal assaults pitting strength against strength with overwhelming nuclear preparatory bombardment and an emphasis entirely on the extreme rapidity of overwhelming attack tempo to get inside of the enemy's decision-making cycle and paralyze them, not through misdirection or manoeuvre, but through the simple speed and ferocity of the attack. Naval doctrine takes a much more conservative approach, with quick and overwhelming initial assaults, to be sure, but follows them with a much slower and more cautious attrition-based approach once an initial advantage has been gained.

With unit organization being predominantly regional in basis, divisional and brigade ties are extremely strong, and the mess of a brigade is a bond between junior officers which is not forgotten, decades or centuries later. Considerable amounts of attention on lavished on ceremony and tradition, and the military has a certain degree of amateur flair from the eccentricity of the officers which is allowed to flourish. As a final aside, the advance in neural interfaces and instantaneous communication has actually allowed officers to assume a more direct control over the field of battle than in 20th and 21st century Terran history, and front positions are generally preferred, again leading to rather high casualties in the officers' ranks during heavy combat.
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Post by Vehrec »

There seems to be an awful lot around about the Talorans and ADN, but almost nothing about the Hapsburg star empire. Any chance this thread will shine some light on them?

And as an aside, how would you treat the HALO series if it was the next one bolted onto the multiverse? The humans seem to be some sort of benign military junta, but the Covenant are a genocidal alien military suicide cult. *tries not to fanboy about this, tries very hard*
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

A few notes on the Jikari:

It is certainly worthwhile here to turn our attention to the more than two trillion Jikari who, in their autonomous republic, owe personal loyalty directly to the Empress outside of the Imperial structure, and whose great mass constitutes the largest alien species in the Empire, and one whose fanaticism in their respect for the Empress tends to make them famed as Imperial shock troops.

The Jikari are more normal pseudo-mammalforms, though hexapedal in nature. With one set of limbs which can be used for running or manipulation, the Jikari, ranging from seven to eight and a half feet and always three hundred pounds or more, were utterly formidable opponents in the sixty years war (180 human years) before the Taloran development of Jump-drive finally allowed their decisive strategic defeat.

At this juncture, a subversive element in their culture, which was highly clan based and functioned on Republican sentiments not dissimilar to the Icelandic Althing which were heavily clan-and-tribal based, a sort of pack republic, which held that the Talorans represented with Farzianism the final Prophet predicted in their own largely universal monotheistic religion, took over the direction of the government and, closely aided by the Talorans, arranged the suppression of the remaining polytheists of their homeworlds, which had previously been tolerated.

In this, the idea that Eibermon was the prophet was made clear by the Farzian priests, and the idea of a fulfilled prophecy was taken very seriously by the Jikar, who came to revere the All-Highest Empress as the heir of the Sword of God, as their sort of spiritual and universal Pack Mother, and the Imperial expansion as a fulfillment of their own prophetic visions. This cemented an immense bond of loyalty to the Jikar who were very wisely allowed, in turn, to have total autonomy over their own affairs, eschewing even incorporation into the Empire formally in exchange for an Imperial Viceroy personally appointed by the Empress and serving at Her whim.

The Jikar developed and spread with the Empire, and are one of the fastest growing segments of the Imperial population in the present. They are indeed much preferred as shock troops, with their own units regularly augmenting the Imperial army, and many serving in the Imperial army, in special heavy power armour units which take advantage of their immense size, and augment it with four-armed and bigger still versions of 'Clan Elemental armour, with far more sophisticated technology. These troops in particular are one of the reasons for the decisive ascendancy of the Empress, and Jikari loyalty is one of the bulwarks of the current power of the Grenyan line. Though they are generally to large to use Taloran starfighters (the Starfighter corps, among the Taloran military branches, is unique in that it is almost exclusively male in the actual combat arms, as Taloran males are so much better suited to handle high-g forces than the females, who otherwise tend to be on a more equal basis in combat arms, and a majority in the Fortress Command and Starfleet, less so the ground forces), they do have their own navy consisting of older ships of the Imperial fleet and some independent designs, which functions as part of the Imperial Starfleet reserves effectively; their army and navy both are the strongest in the Imperial Demesne save that of Grenya itself.

Generally speaking the Jikari now worship in their own variant Order of Farzianism, with numerous racial and traditional differences, but considered by the Farzians an actual part of the religion, in the most part; not dissimilar from Chinese Catholic Orthodoxy and the main Catholic religion in the HRE, perhaps, by way of comparison. Particularly in the Worlds of the Concordat, the planets founded to hold joint Taloran-Jikari colonies to represent the coming together of the two species, Jikari-Taloran settlements and an intertwining of culture is the norm. There is a trope here of the Taloran girl raised in a mostly Jikari village, violent and irrascible and a bit of a loner, but ultimately deeply, exceptionally loyal at heart, which tends itself to represent Taloran opinions of the Jikar, who in no small sense are "the Empress' Own Gurkhas".
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.
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