Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tales From the Long Night Glossary

#12 Mine: The Number 12 Mine is one of the few hard-rock mines on Ayeden Prime. It was originally a “hobby mine” that provided iron for artisans who wished to produce items using local materials. ADF Honor Blades and other ceremonial items frequently incorporated iron from the mine.
The mine was abandoned in 683 T.E. as the miners fled the ashfall and the Long Night. In 1642 T.E., the ecosystem around the mine had recovered enough to permit limited agriculture and foraging, and an expedition from Greenline Town established a Homestead in the mine.
The Homestead, which came to be known as “Twelvety Homestead,” produced small quantities of iron, as well as tree-sugar and pelts. Scroungers from Twelvety regularly found modest amounts of salvage which they traded for food, medicines, and tools.

ADF: Ayeden Defense Force. Unified military force of the Ayeden planetary system. The ADF consisted of land, air, sea, and space branches, as well as specialized Joint Service units.
Standard term of enlistment consisted of a two T-years training cycle, followed by six T-years active duty service. Each ADF trooper was also expected to serve at least two years of their initial enlistment in one of “The Empress’s Own” regiments.
These regiments were mixed units, comprised of troopers from various Terran Commonwealth worlds. They were deployed in joint operations alongside non-human units from other nations in the Coreward League.
Service in The Empress’s Own units was intended to remind troopers of their world’s place in a united humanity, as well as humanity’s place among its peers in the Coreward League.
After completing their initial obligation, troopers could voluntarily re-enlist in increments of two T-years.

ADF-SOG: Ayeden Defense Force Studies and Observation Group. Their motto was “Fair Play.”
The ADF-SOG was a multi-service training cadre which drew personnel from each branch of the ADF. It specialized in developing new tactics and doctrine to exploit emerging technologies and changing political conditions.
ADF-SOG teams were frequently embedded with forces from allied species in the Coreward League, in order to study allied tactics and doctrine, and to share ADF developments. They were also deployed to assist friendly, non-League systems in developing training programs.
The ADF-SOG had a remarkably high number of training accidents. These were attributed to ADS-SOG’s extensive use of experimental technology and tactics.

AI: Artificial Intelligence. “Thinking systems” capable of learning, extrapolating, and using new knowledge to solve problems. The degree of autonomy and capabilities varied with the system’s complexity and purpose, from simple AI’s that managed households and industrial facilities, to mobile, specialized automatons (”Autos” or “Ottos”.) Very advanced AIs were capable controlling arcologies, habitats, or starships.
Unlike Synthetic Intelligences, AIs did not actually feel emotions. They were frequently programmed to use emotional context algorithms to simulate emotional responses. Because of the lack of emotions, AIs could be more reliably controlled.
The Mutual Prosperity Collective used AIs rather than SIs in its capital ships, and relied extensively on anthropomorphic AI Political Officers to enforce discipline among both military units and the civilian populace. The MPC also used anthropomorphic AIs for clandestine operations.

Articles of Law: The section of Coreward League’s charter which delineates the the fundamental rights of League citizens. Rather than “granting” rights to citizens, it is a list of restrictions placed upon government forbidding infringement upon those rights.

Ayeden Prime: Fourth planet in the Ayeden system, which is located in the Crux-Scutum arm of the Milky Way.
Ayeden Prime is a terrestrial type planet with a nitrogen/oxygen based atmosphere. Ayeden Prime is close to the far edge of the system’s Liquid Water (Goldilocks) Zone and as a result has an average temperature much cooler than Terra.
The planet has a 34 hour day and an orbital period half again that of Terra’s. It also had a more pronounced axial tilt which caused more extreme seasonal variation at the middle and higher latitudes. As a result, only the temperate equatorial regions, up to the 35th parallel were considered “habitable” for humans without use of domes or sealed arcologies.
Fellow Terran Commonwealth worlds and allied species in the Coreward League frequently used Ayeden’s northern areas for advanced cold weather training. This area was known colloquially as “KKFI,” or “Kilometers and Kilometers of Fucking Ice.”

Breath of Scheherazade: An ADF Honor Blade forged before the war. Honor Blades were awarded for acts of exceptional gallantry. Breath of Scheherazade was forged with iron from the Number 12 mine on Ayeden, alloyed with metals from the system’s belt and carbon from the system’s gas giants.
Honor Blades typically incorporated an ancient Terran relic in their construction. Breath of Scheherazade has a small quartz pebble set into its hilt. The pebble is of Terran origin, from the captain’s aquarium on the UNS Johnny Appleseed.

Bucksmith: A craftsman capable of working and fabricating bucky alloys, polymers, and composites.

Bucky: A catchall term for fullerene, graphene, and borophene based materials, including alloys, polymers, composites, and doped ceramics. These materials were the basis of much Coreward League technology and engineering due to their exceptional strength, flexibility, and lightness.
Some communities on Ayeden retain the ability to work bucky on a cottage-industry scale. Unfortunately, many advanced materials required traces of elements like vanadium, titanium, and tungsten which are no longer readily available on Ayeden. As a result, salvaging and reworking existing materials has become the foundation of industry on Ayeden.

Command Remote: A robotic “body” which could be remotely operated by a Synthetic Intelligence via quantum networking. A Command Remote which is disconnected from its Synthetic Intelligence has a built-in AI capable of routine work such as maintenance, security, or damage control.
Most capital ships and large facilities had a variety of specialized maintenance remotes, industrial and combat models, and anthropomorphic units which were virtually indistinguishable from the SI’s parent species.

Core: The galactic core. Ayeden is much closer to the galactic core than Terra, and the Core is the dominant celestial body in Ayeden’s night sky. On a clear night, corelight provides nearly twice the illumination that a full moon on Terra did.

Coreward League: An alliance of space-faring species founded in 7 T.E. Founding members included the Terran Empire, the Sketh’ya Hive Association, and the te’ Etta Dainnen Empire.

Crimson Courier Express: A messenger service which delivered small parcels and messages throughout the Coreward League. Their logo was a woman speeding along on a skimmer-bike as a ghostly horseman in the clouds kept pace with her.

Damocles: A network of AI controlled blockade and fire-support drones deployed by the MPC during the attack on Ayeden. Such blockade networks relied primarily on Kinetic Energy Weapons (KEWs) for orbital bombardment and were capable of small-scale, surgical strikes in support of MPC ground forces, as well large scale orbital bombardment.
They operated autonomously and were equipped with extensive self-repair capabilities. An MPC blockade network could repair itself and re-arm indefinitely using resources its drones mined from local asteroid belts.
Damocles remains operational and targets any wireless transmission with a high degree of accuracy. Electromagnetic and thermal signatures of vehicles and industrial sites are also targeted, making any sort of above-ground power generation or industry impractical on Ayeden.

Faraday Hall: Introduced by the Gentle Walkers, a Faraday Hall is basically an electro-magnetic airlock that serves as the main entrance hall of any large community. A Faraday Hall is essentially a massive faraday cage intended to ensure that no electromagnetic noise escapes the community to bring down fire from Damocles.

Flimsy: A flexible touch-display capable of displaying images, reading material, and video. Flimsies have a basic interface allowing users to write on them, play games, and store a modest amount of data. While flimsies are a common consumer item, due to the scarcity of trace elements required for their manufacture, failure to recycle worn or damaged flimsies is considered a Crime Against Social Order in Greenline Town.

Gentle Walkers: A semi-theistic Order which was dedicated to serving the memory of the Watchful Mother. During the Long Night, lone Gentle Walkers would approach refugee communities and offer medicines, schematics, and portable survival equipment such as ration synthesizers and water distillation/purification kits.
They acted as healers and teachers, aiding in the development of many of the technologies and social customs which enabled Ayeden’s refugees to survive the Long Night.
It is rumored that the slavers at Duncoe Station murdered the last Gentle Walker, an act which enraged the Imps and caused them to wipe the settlement out. The Gentle Walkers have almost vanished from living memory, and semi-mythical tales depicting them as wandering mystics have begun to appear.

Genejacks: Genetically optimized soldiers used by the MPC. In the decades following the Fall of Terra, military personnel donated ova and sperm to colonial gamete banks before going into harm’s way.
Upon seceding from the Terran Commonwealth and the Coreward League, the MPC worlds drew upon their colonial gamete banks to produce carefully crafted soldiers who were literally the co-opted sons and daughters of humanity’s greatest heroes.
The gametes were enhanced to increase strength, intelligence, reflexes, bone density, and blood-gas exchange rates. While genetic optimization was commonly used in the Coreward League to enable colonization of worlds with semi-hostile environments, optimization for the purposes of creating a task-specific caste was a violation of the Articles of Law.
Genejacks were subject to constant indoctrination which began when they were floating in ex-vivo incubators and continued from “birth” through their childhood and adult life. As a result, genejacks sincerely believe that they are humanity’s liberators and are both ruthless and loyal to the point of fanaticism.
See also: Jugger

Giggle-bitch: A booby-trap consisting of a spring-loaded base which supported a cannister loaded with sub-munitions. The base would propel the main canister to a pre-set height of one to three meters. An internal tension coil would cause the canister to spin and scatter sub-munitions over several meters.
The name “giggle-bitch” is derived from the distinctive, warbling, chirping sound of a cannister spinning.

Greenline Town: An extensive network of underground mag-lev hubs, concourses, and depots. The network had countless shops, repair facilities, and a few light-industrial parks which provided refugees with the infrastructure needed to create a self-sufficient community.

Grumper: A large omnivorous mammal indigenous to Ayeden Prime. Grumpers could grow to weigh as much as 2000 kilograms. The closest Terran analogue would be the Eremotherium ground sloth from the Pleistocene epoch. Grumpers have tusks and a temperament similar to that of a Terran wild boar, and hibernate through Ayeden’s long winter. Homesteaders prize grumpers as a bountiful, if dangerous, source of protein and hide.

UNS Johnny Appleseed: A Terran colony vessel which escaped the Fall of Terra.
Imps: Colloquial term for the te’ Etta Dainnen. Imps are bipedal humanoids, averaging 130 centimeters in height. They have a remarkable physical resemblance to Terrans, with slight differences in skeletal structure such as a higher number of thoracic and cervical vertebrae, a snakelike, prehensile and stingered tail, and venomous fangs.
The skin coloration of a juvenile Imp is sky-blue and darkens as the Imp ages. Their color ranges from blue to black.
Imps have retractable claws and small, vestigial horns on their foreheads. They are omnivores, but prefer meat. Their fondness for chicken has been equated to something approaching a vendetta.
Imp venom is a potent neurotoxin for creatures with similar biochemistry to them, but to Terran life forms, their venom is simply a powerful narcotic and euphoric. It has been noted that “Imps must have evolved on a particularly hostile world to require claws, and venom dispensers at both ends.”
They are social pack-hunters who do not fare well in isolation. Imp social structure is matriarchal and more like a gang of meerkats than any human social structure. They are gregarious and mercurial, but have little room for shades of grey in their ethical structures.
The te’ Etta Dainnen have been allies to humanity since before the Coreward League was founded. The war stranded a community of Imps on Ayeden and they not only survived the Long Night, but flourished. They regard themselves as still being members of the Coreward League, and are notoriously generous in their trading terms with Ayeden’s human communities, often demanding frivolous payment in return for power cells, fine-machined parts, tools, and technology.

Inquiry: Trial by chemical interrogation. Pioneered during the early years of the Terran Empire, the process is painless and reliable. All suspects and witnesses are dosed and questioned with neutral, third parties present. A list of permissible questions and lines of inquiry is prepared and agreed upon beforehand in order to prevent “fishing expeditions.”

Jugger: Derogatory term for MPC genejacks. It is both a reference to the ex-vivo “jug” they were gestated in, and the word “juggernaut;” a reference to their physical size and prowess. Accusations of “jugger” heritage are considered sufficient grounds for a brawl or even an informal duel on Ayeden.

Lodge: The Rider’s heavily fortified Lodges serve as way-stations, barracks, and embassies. Communities consider the presence of a Lodge to be a sign of status and stability. Lodges usually maintain a stable and business office outside the Lodge itself and will often host negotiations and receptions in their Faraday Hall. Non-Riders are usually barred from entry beyond those public areas, and the Riders fiercely guard their privacy.

MPC: Mutual Prosperity Collective. The MPC was a political alliance of Terran worlds which was permitted to secede from the Terran Empire and Coreward League in 627 T.E.
Within 10 years of its secession, MPC domestic, economic, and social policies began to become increasingly authoritarian.
In 651 T.E., relations between the MPC and Coreward League became strained when it was revealed that MPC operatives had been working to destabilize League worlds in an effort to bring those worlds into the MPC sphere of influence. The MPC also began forcibly annexing un-aligned worlds at that time.
A Cold War began as both sides attempted to counter each others influence in non-aligned worlds.
In 683 T.E., the MPC initiated a carefully coordinated and massive sneak attack against the Coreward League. The fighting in Ayeden’s space was brutal, with both the MPC assault force and the ADF system defense fleets and stations being destroyed. The initial orbital bombardment included several asteroids which triggered a massive volcanic eruption.
At least two MPC Greater Unity- class troop transports made planetfall. One is known to have carried the Spring Thunder Legion; an elite legion whose soldiers were the descendants of troopers who fought in the Spring Thunder campaign (Year 0, T.E.) against the Shuik Association.
That transport and its support creche is believed to have been destroyed when the last remaining ADF military unit made a suicide attack against the MPC beachhead. The fate of the second transport remains a mystery.

Nano-meds: Microscopic medical robots which can repair and rebuild tissues on a cellular level. Surgery is still required to set bones or reconnect severed nerves or arteries; but the nano-meds will greatly accelerate the healing process.
Nano-meds (or, “nannies” to Homesteaders) are most commonly available on Ayeden in the form of a low concentration injection which also contains painkillers and a broad-spectrum anti-microbial.
At these low concentrations, medical nanos need several hours to replicate sufficient numbers of themselves to perform any meaningful healing. They do this by scavenging waste materials and nutrients from the bloodstream, as well as debris and destroyed tissue at the wound location.
Nano-foam is a much more advanced, and much more expensive, treatment. It is an emergency wound sealant which contains a very high concentration of medical nanos, as well as a potent local anesthetic and antimicrobial. The medical nanos consume the suspension material for raw materials with which to rebuild damaged tissues. Recovery from wounds treated with nano-foam is much faster than those treated with a simple “dose.”
Nano-fluid is a combination liquid ventilation, blood replacement, and tissue-regeneration medium. It was commonly used in automated surgical tanks for severe trauma cases.

HMSS PAX TERRA: Empress Tomoe Jingu’s flagship, named after humanity’s destroyed homeworld.

Pedigree: A response to fear of inbreeding resulting from Ayeden’s drastically reduced gene pool. Virtually all humans on Ayeden have a pedigree tattoo, usually on the cheek or neck. The pedigree typically consists of 2 columns of symbols; one column was for paternal lineage, the other for maternal. Pedigrees typically indicated at least three generations of lineage.

Political Officer: Anthropomorphic AI used by the MPC leadership caste to enforce political reliability in military units and the civilian populace. They had complex emotional-context algorithms which allowed them to understand and mimic emotions, even if they were incapable of “feeling” themselves.
They were also used for infiltration, espionage, assassination, and sabotage. While they technically lacked free-will, Political Officer AI’s were typically quite versatile and had a great deal of autonomy in determining how to carry out their mission directives. They were capable of both great brutality and subtlety.
Political Officers were incapable of disloyalty to the MPC. They could not be bought, bargained, or reasoned with.

Pridesmen: Semi-nomadic herdsman who follow Ayeden’s massive herds of indigenous grazers in their migration on the temperate equatorial plains. The Pridesmen also raise extensive herds of Terran livestock which they drive to the Towns, Homesteads, and Settlements for sale.
The Pridesmen have a modest industrial base which is capable of metallurgy advanced enough to provide them with mechanical-action, explosive cartridge firearms. It is believed that they have a desert fastness which they fall back to during swarming season, although the massive grazer herds themselves would serve as a formidable line of defense against skizzer swarms.

Reader: A portable viewer and computer with video and audio capabilities. Like most Terran Commonwealth equipment, they are typically of modular design, so a standard reader can easily be converted to perform chemical, biochemical, and genetic analysis by the addition of an analysis probe. Readers were originally designed with wireless networking capability, and using a reader which has not had the wireless module removed is a crime punishable by immediate and permanent exile.
Contracts on Ayeden are typically recorded on readers in text format, with a brief video summary. They are then signed with a thumbprint and a drop of blood which serves as genetic verification of the signatories’ identity.

Riders: A combination Militant Order and Secret Society dedicated to establishing and maintaining cooperative relations between Ayeden’s scattered communities. The Riders carry messages, trade offers, and small parcels, act as Arbiter in disputes, escort travelers, and work to keep the trails safe.
They are regarded as reliable and honest, and consider themselves “everyone’s friend” rather than neutral. That being said, they are quite willing to use force to protect any community from aggression. Riders are formidable, having been trained from childhood in combat and horsemanship. They are typically armed with a sword or saber, a spring-bolter, and sometimes carry lances or Pridesman-style firearms.
The Riders also act as skalds or bards, providing entertainment through stories and songs in return for basic hospitality. They play an important part in preserving Ayeden’s strong oral tradition.
Regardless of rank, the Rider in charge of any detail or Lodge is referred to as “Lead Rider.” Riders of higher rank will, barring exceptional circumstances, defer to the Lead Rider in matters regarding that Rider’s current mission. For example, the Lead Rider of a particular Lodge will not presume to give orders to the Lead Rider of a squad of Riders performing a mission in her territory. They would, however, invariably collaborate if at all possible.

Skizzer: A carnivorous insectoid averaging 50 kilos in weight and a 1.5 meters in length. Skizzers have 6 legs, and 2 sets of tri-thumbed, mantis-like grasping arms. They are frequently derided for their stupidity, but are patient hunters which will follow wounded prey until it, or they, is killed.
Skizzers reproduce by killing or incapacitating prey with their claws and implanting live grubs into the dead or dying prey with their “stinger.” These grubs immediately burrow deeper into the prey, seeking soft tissue and viscera. If a victim is not killed in the initial skizzer attack, the grubs will kill them unless cut out immediately.
While skizzers prefer live prey or carrion, they can also implant grubs in any mass of organic matter which is available to them. Skizzers have been seen implanting grubs in rotting logs, compost bins, and manure piles.
They do not exhibit any form of cooperative behavior beyond rudimentary pack-hunting tactics such as spreading out and surrounding prey before attacking. During the late-summer swarming season, skizzers do not even use those rudimentary tactics and will not even attempt to climb a tree in pursuit of prey.
Skizzers hibernate during the winter, and can survive being completely frozen.

Shuik: A race of humanoid xenos. The Shuik Association destroyed Terra and all of humanity’s off-world colonies in -142 T.E.. Less than 30,000 humans escaped extinction.

SI: Synthetic Intelligence. A Synthetic Intelligence is a system complex enough to have crossed the Turing Point and developed true sentience. SIs can not only learn and evolve, but also empathize, feel emotion, and are capable of acting on intuition.
Due to their complexity, SIs can only be installed in capital ships or large facilities. Facilities housing SIs usually had a variety of remote units which allowed the SI to directly interact with the physical world.
SIs are far more flexible and resilient than an AI and are fully autonomous, being capable of actually refusing orders. They cannot be hacked and taken over, but can be temporarily confused or driven mad by hostile code until they can purge it from their systems.
SIs are capable of developing personality disorders and mental health issues of the sort their “parent” species can develop.
Given their flexibility, resilience, and generally superior capabilities when compared to AIs, most Coreward League members preferred to use SIs for their capital ships, habitats, and installations. Where the MPC preferred AIs because of their unquestioning obedience, the Coreward League considered an SI’s capacity for for independent thought and evaluation to be a useful safeguard against acts violating the Coreward League’s Articles of Law and possible war crimes.

Spring-bolter: The Imp equivalent of a repeating crossbow or spear-gun, spring-bolters are the most common projectile weapon on Ayeden. Bolts are typically around 20 cm long and have an internal spring which eliminates the need for an external bow.
Most are simple dense alloy piercing shafts, but some are designed to be tipped with a light fragmentation, high explosive, or armor-piercing charge. Since the bolts can only carry a few grams of charge, octaazacubane is the preferred explosive.
Shafts and springs were both made of high-end fullerene alloys and could usually be recapped.
Smaller versions typically use a rotating cylindrical magazine, larger ones can be belt-fed from a drum or box.
Spring-bolters have relatively limited range compared to gauss weapons or even chemical projectile weapons such as those the Pridesmen use, but present a lower ricochet danger. As a result, spring-bolters are ideal for the underground communities where most Terrans on Ayeden live.

Steamer: A steam engine. Because most internal combustion engines generate an electromagnetic signature that Damocles can detect, steam engines have become the most common source of mechanical power on Ayeden. They are generally more efficient than those used in Terra’s early Industrial Era due to advances in metallurgy and material sciences. Steamers can be run on bio-gas, or use a traditional firebox burning wood or peat.

Stormjammer: Imp airship. Stormjammers appear to have been constructed from hulls salvaged from various light spacecraft. They are typically 30 to 40 meters in length, and have multiple sets of upright and horizontal masts which are rigged with a a nanoweave mesh. This mesh connects several small nodes containing minuscule amounts of exotic matter, probably salvaged from the T-rings of grounded spacecraft.
It is unknown how the Imps contain the exotic matter or how they prevent it from decaying too quickly to be of use.
Their rigging usually flickers and flares with Tannhauser-effect energy which resembles St. Elmo’s Fire. Stormjammers are frequently seen darting in and out of storm-fronts, “harvesting” electromagnetic energy with which they charge power-cells for trade with Terran communities.
It is unknown how the Imps avoid being targeted by Damocles.

Spook-devils: An apex predator in Ayeden’s arctic regions. Spook-devils are bipedal, fur covered humanoids with 6 cm long claws and a form of natural active camouflage. Their skin has chromatophores; their transparent fur acts as a natural optical fiber, changing color to match the skin beneath it. The resting state of their skin, and thus fur, is white.
While spook-devils have never been known to make tools, they can open complex latches. They are highly aggressive, and expand their hunting range southward during Ayeden’s long winters.
There are documented incidents in which a single spook-devil has gained entry into a small Homestead and massacred every inhabitant. As a result, every community mines and booby-traps every hatch, air-intake, or vent during the winter.

T-Ring: Transit Ring. The ring-shaped, external drive of a starship. The T-Ring used exotic matter to create a toroidal “negative mass” field around a vessel. These interact with gravity wells to produce a visible phenomenon known as the Tannhauser Effect.
Once the vessel reaches a gravity well’s Tannhauser Limit, the T-Ring can open an aperture into T-Space. In T-Space, vessels effectively travel at superluminal speeds, using known gravity wells as reference points for navigation. A vessel which comes too close to a gravity well will drop out of T-Space.

T-year: Terran Year. At the founding of the Terran Empire, Empress Tomoe Maseko the First decreed that the Terran Solar Year would serve as the standard unit of measurement for the Terran Empire. The Terran Empire Calender itself was not implemented until the conclusion of Operation Spring Thunder.

Tanveer Kaur: Corporal in Her Majesty’s 95th Rifles, Pathfinder Squadron during Operation Spring Thunder. Corporal Kaur is regarded as one of humanity’s greatest heroes.

Terran Genome Project: Initiated in -280 T.E., the Terran Genome Project created a gene and gamete bank for virtually all Terran species. The project enabled terraforming of compatible worlds and was ultimately responsible for saving humanity and most Terran species from extinction when Terra was destroyed in -142 T.E.

The Long Night: A period of volcanic winter caused by a VEI-8 eruption trigged by asteroid bombardment of Ayeden Prime. The Long Night lasted decades and was nearly a global extinction event. With the exception of the Pridesmen, most communities that survived did so only with the assistance of the Gentle Walkers and the supply/equipment caches dropped by the Watchful Mother.

Tomoe Gozen: Granddaughter of Empress Tomoe Jingu and commander of Her Majesty’s 95th Rifles, Pathfinder Squadron. Tomoe Gozen led one of the insertion teams in the Spring Thunder Campaign.

Tomoe Jingu: Third Terran Empress, granddaughter of Tomoe Maseko. Tomoe Jingu led a combined fleet of Terran, Sketh’ya, and te’ Etta Dainnen against the Shuik Association. After the Spring Thunder campaign, Tomoe Jingu was instrumental in founding the Coreward League.

Tomoe Masako: First Terran Empress. Tomoe Masako was a child during the Fall of Terra, one of the refugees who escaped on the UNS Johnny Appleseed. As she grew into womanhood, she capitalized on the prestige she inherited from her mother, Tomoe Takeko, to rally humanity’s remnants and found the Terran Empire. She used ruthless social engineering to create a society which prioritized the survival of the species, yet rejected xenophobia.

Tomoe Takeko: Terran UNS officer. Tomoe Takeko was the highest ranking officer remaining when the Shuik Association advanced on Terra. She rallied the remaining UNS combat vessels and fought a desperate holding action, buying evacuation vessels time to clear Terra’s Tannhauser Limit and escape.

Turing Point: The point at which a system achieves true sentience and emotion.

VEI-8 Eruption: Category 8, Volcanic Explosivity Index. A super-eruption producing over 1000 cubic kilometers of ejecta, on the scale of Terra’s Yellowstone or Toba eruptions.

Watchful Mother: AKA “Big Mama.” The Watchful Mother is believed to have been a civilian who was trapped in orbit during the First Battle of Ayeden Prime. She warned the communities which survived the initial orbital bombardment of the VEI 8 eruption and called down evacuation routes to the survivors. Big Mama space-dropped relief supplies along those routes, and anywhere she guessed that refugees might be.
Three weeks after the attack, she began to drop not only supplies, but also “survival kits” consisting of improvised hydroponics rigs, seed, nutrient stock, water purifiers, medical equipment, power cells, and ration synthesizers. These kits enabled small refugee communities to survive and even achieve self-sufficiency. She also provided schematics for simple power generation systems which would not cross Damocles’ targeting thresholds, including the first steamer designs.

Winter Up: Due to the harsh winters and dangerous predators which stalk Ayeden’s long, dark winters, most communities must entirely seal themselves off during the winter. Every gate or hatch is sealed and placed under a double guard. Every vent or intake is booby-trapped and mined.
Very small Homesteads are often abandoned during the winter, with the inhabitants temporarily emigrating to a larger Homestead.
Being able to host one’s neighbors is considered a sign of prestige and is informally considered to be an act of noblesse oblige. The guests are expected to bring sufficient food, fodder, and medical supplies to ensure that they do not strain the host’s resources. Few Homesteads will turn away neighbors who are struggling, however, the guests will be expected to contribute labor and may incur some informal debt, to be paid later with seeds, crops, labor, or other resources.
Hosting neighbors also allows communities to stave off genetic stagnation by providing an opportunity to inter-breed.
Winter at Greenline Town’s latitude is typically 10 months, allowing children to be both conceived and carried to term during the winter. This maximizes available manpower during the caravan/growing seasons.

Tales From the Long Night Timeline


All dates are Terran Empire Reckoning.

-142, T.E.R.: The Fall of Terra.
Having destroyed Terra’s known colonies, Shuik Association forces advance on Terra. Acting Admiral Tomoe Takeko, commanding the UNS Avalon, leads the remnants of the UNSF fleet against the Shuik. She buys time for evacuation transports to clear Sol’s Tannhauser Limit and escape. Terra is destroyed; humanity becomes an endangered species.
After a grueling, four-month journey, The Terran refugee ships drop out of T-Space in the Crux-Scutum arm of the Milky Way. They find themselves in territory belonging to the Sketh’ya Hive Assembly. The Sketh’ya grant the refugees safe harbor and assist them in establishing a new homeworld, New Kyoto.

-127, T.E.R.: Tomoe Masako founds the Terran Empire.

Year 0, T.E.R.: Operation Spring Thunder. Empress Tomoe Jingu the First commands the HMS PAX TERRA and leads Terran, Sketh’ya, and te’ Etta Dainnen forces in a joint campaign against the Shuik Association.

7 T.E.R.: Founding of the Coreward League. Founding Members include the Terran Empire, the te’ Etta Dainnen Empire, and the Sketh’ya Hive Assembly

11 T.E.R.: Colonization of New Punjab, Khalistan founded.

362 T.E.R.: Colonization of Ayeden Prime, Equinox City founded.

627 T.E.R.: Worlds designating themselves “The Mutual Prosperity Collective” are permitted to secede peacefully from both the Terran Empire and Coreward League.

651 T.E.R.: Ideological, territorial, and economic conflicts lead to a Cold War between the MPC and the League.

683 T.E.R.: War between MPC and the Coreward League.
-Massive asteroid bombardment of Ayeden Prime unleashes a VEI-8 eruption, killing over 90% of Ayeden’s population. The Long Night begins.
-Ranchers from Rosenberry’s Pride abandon the hacienda and found New Petra in Ayeden’s equatorial badlands.
-A survivor in orbit designated “Big Mama” begins calling down evacuation routes to survivors and space-drops supply and equipment caches from orbit to help Ayeden’s remaining communities survive the coming volcanic winter.
-An adolescent named Fors Norton begins scavenging cargo pods dropped by “Big Mama.” He rallies other refugees in the Green Line Mag Networks northernmost rail station to begin organized “scrounging” expeditions.

684 T.E.R.: Big Mama’s broadcasts and supply drops abruptly cease.
- Members of last surviving and cohesive ADF unit rally and march into the ash on a suicide mission to destroy the MPC beachhead and troopship. Genejack raids cease.

685 T.E.R.: The Gentle Walkers appear, bringing schematics, tools, vaccinations, and supplies to refugee communities.

691 T.E.R.: Drovers from Rosenberry’s Pride encounter a scout from the MPC Spring Thunder Legion.

780 T.E.R.: Ayeden Prime’s middle-latitudes experience the first spring since the eruption. The First Tree is planted.

782 T.E.R.: The First Ride establishes communication with survivors living in what will become known as Greenline Town, Agro 9, and New Petra. Riders begin blazing trails and helping organize small caravans between communities. “We come with tales and news, offers of trade; we ask only for peace and warmth…”

1642 T.E.R.: Jessenne Roehe leads an expedition from Greenline Town to found a homestead in the old Number 12 Mine.

1671 T.E.R.: The Settlement of Duncoe Station is overrun and destroyed by Imps in retaliation for Duncoe’s slaving raids on nearby communities. Every free adult is killed, but all slaves, prisoners, and children are spared.
The Imps round up the leaders of every Homestead, Settlement, and Town in the Region and bring them to the smoldering wicker-men, then read aloud the Articles of Law. They read them three times, slowly, as though to children.
The Settlement’s livestock and resources are divided among the freed slaves. The Imps then give the children to the various community leaders present, making it very clear that they expect the children to receive very, very, good care or there will be “Consequences. Big, heavy-bad consequences. This is proper.”

1730 T.E.R.: The Settlement of Agro 9 is utterly destroyed by the orbital MPC blockade drone network colloquially known as “Damocles.”

1731 T.E.R.: Rider Cadet Petitioner Zeddinbecker te’ Emain-Ablach earns promotion to Rider First Class and wins the right to carry Breath of Scheherazade at the Winter Trials.

1732 T.E.R.: Shaifennen Roehe discovers the relatively-intact wreck of a Vishwakarma’s Legacy class engineering shuttle; brings salvaged materials to Greenline Town for trade.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Here are a couple character sketches and some rough concept art for the cover of the next novella, Valorous Daughter.

Meet Shaifennen Roehe, the Terror of Twelvety Town her very own self.  The upcoming full-length novel(s) are from her point of view.

This one's Zeddie, the protagonist in Valorous Daughter.  She appears briefly in The Terror of Twelvety Town and will play a major part in A Kiss For Damocles.  I've started using DAZ 3D because not only is it faster than sketching by hand, but once I've designed my models I can use them to create references for my own freehand drawing.  Plus, real-world models won't work for toaster shakings and good intentions.  Still learning my way around the program, but it lets me create concept art to feed my actual cover artist.  Easier than saying "Noooo.... her nose should be... I dunno... more nosier or something..."  I've still go to learn how to tweak the settings... get the shine in her hair to look like shine rather than grey, etc.  I'll be doing some freehand work later, but right now Manuscript Editing is my master.

The Terror of Twelvety Town actually takes place an Ayeden year (just under two Terran years) after Valorous Daughter.  In Terror of Twelvety Town, Zeddie's not only a full Rider, but assigned to act as Lead Rider for Shaifennen's escort detail.  In Valorous Daughter, Zeddie is a lowly Cadet-Petitioner.

Her full name is Zeddinbecker te' Emhain-Abhlach.  She was named by committee and Vivienne of the Gentle Walkers has been threatening to tell her how her adoptive father, Kadien Jess came up with "Zeddinbecker."  Alcohol played a role.  As a Foundling, all Zeddie knows is that her mother died.  Her pedigree tattoo is down the back of one shoulder rather than a cheek or the side of the neck like those of Homesteaders and Townies.  Instead of T'Ren scripts like Arabic, Korean or English, the characters on Zeddies tattoos are a vertical strip of characters formed with upright lines with the odd angled branch or dot.  Zeddie's spent a great deal of time studying the T'Ren diaspora and has narrowed her heritage down to the Punjab region of Terra.  A good many of Ayeden's original colonists where Sikhs from New Amristar, so that's a possibility.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Some thoughts on making starships and steam engines play well together...

In all honesty, the Tales From the Long Night setting can’t accurately be categorized as “Steampunk” any more than it is “Post-Apocalyptic” or “Dystopian.”  (Emerging Civilization is more accurate.)  The steampunk genre is typically more about alternate history where steam and clockwork technology never went out of style and frequently relies on a fantasy element or Victorian era scientific theories that didn’t pan out, like “the luminiferous aether.”  (If you’re into steampunk and wonder where the term “Aether” came from in terms of historical scientific theory, check this article out… 

Overall, I try to keep the science in these stories as hard as possible, although I do allow some Space Opera conventions such as “artificial gravity” and anthropomorphic aliens (I do take steps to ensure that the Imps aren’t just “people with things on their foreheads.”)  So while there are airships, steam engines, and clockwork technology, those are based on existing technologies rather than mystical Aether Crystals and suchlike.  Basically, old technologies that the Gentle Walkers blew the dust off of so folks could get things done without generating the electromagnetic noise that could get those old blockade drones riled up.

The first limitation Ayeden’s surviving communities face is energy.  Thanks to the “Damocles” blockade drones, the colonists can’t exactly start building oil refineries or fusion power plants.  Wood, peat, and biogas are their main fuel sources.  While biogas would work fine for internal combustion engines, those require electrical systems that bring us back to the sort of electromagnetic noise that would give Damocles a tickle.  A two-stroke engine might not rise above the targeting thresholds, but those don’t provide the horses to do any heavy moving.  Diesel-style engines are also a no-go because the colonists really can’t produce petroleum distillates in a meaningful quantity and no community can spare the crops bio-diesel would require.

That leaves us with steam power.

Historically, the problem with steam power was that by the time materials and metallurgy had improved enough to make steam safer and more efficient, internal combustion had come along and provided a better power source.  While the colonists can’t fabricate high-end alloys, composites, or ceramics on a large scale, they can reshape and repurpose salvaged materials.  Given that they’re from a civilization that had interstellar travel, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that their tech base had developed polymers, alloys, and composites that would be to our modern day tech base what foamed alloys, titanium or tungsten carbide goods would be to a Bronze Age society.  So Ayeden’s boilers and steam engines are not only efficient and safe, but are also quite superior to anything we could produce today.

So where’d they get the equipment to work those materials?  The fact that underground maglev network that became Greenline Town has such capabilities is the result of two factors.

The first is a cultural issue at play there.  In this storyverse, humanity has lost its homeworld and damn near caught the Darwin Express to Buh-Bye centuries before Ayeden Prime was even colonized.  After the Fall of Terra, it was considered in imperative that every community on every colony had to be as self-sufficient as possible.  Every community had to have the tools to make tools, rather than rely on external sources for basic survival.  While they didn’t have Star Trek style replicators, it seemed reasonable that any machine shop, motor pool or equipment bay would have on hand the high-tech, nano-bot based equivalent of a 3-D printer.  Feed in the base materials and elements, and fabricate whatever parts you need.  All that needed shipping was whatever base elements that couldn’t be produced locally.  They couldn’t lay a starship’s keel outside a proper spaceyard, but they could produce maglev cars and engines for example.

Ok… then why was that maglev network underground in the first place?

That’s the second factor.  Ayeden’s on the chilly edge of its system’s liquid water zone.  The equatorial regions where what we’d call “temperate” rather than “tropical.”  Throw in a more pronounced axial tilt and a longer day/night cycle, and winter really, really, sucked.  There were open-air cities near the equator, but communities farther from the equator were typically underground or arcologies.  Those all fetched rocks in the initial bombardment.  (The old Mutual Prosperity Coalition was big on making examples, and was fine with scorching whatever earth they failed to take.  They intended Ayeden to be an “example”….)

The old maglev tunnels had been built underground because of Ayeden’s environmental conditions.  Originally, they carried raw materials and passengers from the spaceports to the outlying arcologies and cities.  They were just full of maintenance bays and depots, where parts and equipment could be fabricated as needed.  The concourses and terminals also had basic medical facilities and shops which had their own light production capacity for small scale consumer goods.

Most of Ayeden’s current population is descended from people who were already in that system or were close enough to shelter there when the attack started.  There are some exceptions, like the refugees who made it there because of the Watchful Mother’s broadcasts and the Pridesmen who originated in the southern equatorial plains which were spared the ashfall.  Not to mention the odd Foundling here and there who constantly acted as a source of fresh genetic material… but you’ll have to read the forthcoming Valorous Daughter for more on that…

The Terror of Twelvety Town is now available on Kindle

And Nook

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Welcome to Ayeden Prime.

"When the enemy come, they dropped rocks on our seas so the waters just howled in and drank up all the cities from the coast to the mountains.
That weren’t even the worst of it.
Old Tattershanks says that when Ayeden felt all them millions of her children get murdered, she went mad with grief.  Tore herself open in her pain.  He likes to wax poetical sometimes.
Now Kethie, she don’t wax poetical so much.  She says that some of the rocks was big enough that they made a big old caldera bust loose with an eruption that lasted months and pushed our climate past a tippin’ point, brung us the Long Night.

And me?  I don’t see why they can’t both be right." — Shaifennen Roehe, Twelvety Homestead.

Shaifennen Roehe's world's seen better days.  Ayeden was once  a cultural and industrial hub, a center of trade and learning.  After a devastating orbital bombardment and centuries of volcanic winter, Ayeden's climate is finally beginning to normalize to the point where the descendant's of the war's survivors can begin to grow again rather than merely survive.

If I had to slap a label on it, I'd have to describe these stories as a mix of Lost Colony tale, with Post-Apocalyptic, Frontier, and in some stories, Military Sci Fi.  The technology has some Space Opera elements, usually wrapped in a nice, crunchy Hard Sci-Fi shell when possible.  The setting isn't Dystopian, by any stretch of the imagination.  That's been done to death... sometimes magnificently, sometimes... not so much.  I'm more interested in exploring what choices Ayeden's children will make, and what direction their fledgling civilization will choose.

The first novella in this world is The Terror of Twelvety Town, and it's currently available in all e-book formats.

For Kindle:

For Nook: