Colonies in the First Terran Empire

Colonies were a constant power struggle between Colonial Regulation (ColReg) and the Bureaucratic Corps (BuCorps). In the long run, BuCorps won nearly every time.

ColReg was responsible, from the very first Imperial colony, for planetary government as well as interplanetary regulation. A Colonial Administrator was appointed by ColReg, with due allowance for the wishes of the colonists. Administrator was a management position, and he/she set up what sub-levels of government were needed.

Colonists trained in bureaucracy usually managed to get positions in the Colonial Administration -- and thus the groundwork was was laid for BuCorps' eventual victory.

When the Colony paid off its original debt -- which could be as quickly as five or ten years -- it lost Colonial status and became officially an Imperial world in good standing. At that point, ColReg's involvement was over, and the Colonial Administration passed under the control of BuCorps.

And then, quickly or slowly, Planetary Administration came to resemble all other Planetary Administrations . . . for Administration was what BuCorps did best. There was an Administrator (or Governor, Supervisor, President, or any of a number of other titles), whose responsibility was to see that all ran smoothly within the context of the Imperial Galaxy. There was an entire hierarchy of Directors, Sub-Directors, Chiefs, Managers, Officers, Associates, Deputy Associates, Assistant Deputy Associates, and all the other trappings of BuCorps.

The truth is, only BuCorps itself knew how individual planets were run. BuCorps administration, Galactic or planetary, was an intricate web that could be strong as steel, choking as quicksand, or tenuous as air -- all at the same time.

One thing was always true, however -- essential services always functioned. Comm systems worked, food was supplied, and the trains always ran on time.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The Santamas Story

(from A Child's Book of Stories by Kinson Tomas, Credix Publishing, TE 306)

Now in those days a decree went forth from the Emperor Augustus, that all the Galaxy should be taxed, and a census taken of all inhabitants. This was the census taken while Quirinius was Duke of Credix. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to their own planet and city.

And a man named Josef, along with his spouse Mary, left the planet Nazareth, and went to the city David on the planet Bedlam, to be counted with his own Idara. And Mary was at that time heavy with child.

And in the whole city of David, none of the inns had rooms available. So Josef and Mary went to the zoo, and Mary had her child among the animals. She wrapped him in the animals’ blankets, and laid him in a manger to sleep.

Now in that system there were asteroid miners, keeping watch over their claims. And on their holoscreens appeared a messenger from the Lord Kaal, and they were frightened. But the messenger said, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, for today in the city of David there has been born a Santa, who is the Claus. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in blankets and laying in a manger.”

So the miners made their way straight to Bedlam, and landed at the spaceport in David, went to the zoo, and saw the baby as he lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them, and all who heard wondered at the things that were told to them by the miners.

Now after the baby had been born, magi from Borshall arrived on Bedlam, saying, “Where is he who has been born Santa? For we followed his star and have come to bring him gifts.”

When Grinch Herod the Planetary Governor heard this, he was troubled. Gathering together the police, he asked them where the Santa had been born. He called the magi to him and determined from them the exact time that the star had appeared. And he sent them forth on Bedlam and said, “Go and search for the child, and when you have found him, bring him to me, so that I may give him gifts also.” But he was secretly jealous, and meant to harm the child.

After hearing the Grinch they went on their way, and followed the star, which led them to the place where the baby lay. And they presented the baby with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream, the magi left for Borshall without returning to Herod.

Hearing of Herod’s jealousy, Josef and Mary took the boy back to Nazareth, where they lived in peace. They named the boy Kris.

Now, Josef was a carpenter, and as Kris grew, he learned his father’s trade. Soon he started making toys, and giving them to poor children. After many years, as his skill increased, Kris’s fame spread throughout the Province, and beyond.

When Herod heard of Kris, his jealousy became worse. He sent his agents to Nazareth, to hunt down Kris and his family. But some of the animals in the zoo, remembering Kris’ birth, heard of Herod’s plan. Eight of the reindeer broke loose, and flew to Nazareth to warn Kris.

Kris, warned by the reindeer, gathered his family and his toys, and hitched a sleigh to the reindeer. Together, they all flew to a small, frozen planetoid far above the North Pole of the Galaxy. There, Kris set up a toy factory, aided by the alien inhabitants, called Elves. He leaves his home only once each year, on his birthday, when he and the reindeer travel around the Galaxy, bringing gifts to good little girls and boys. The Galaxy over, he is known as Santa Claus; and the day of his birth is celebrated as Santamas.

And as for Grinch Herod, there came a time when he learned the true meaning of Santamas…but that is another story.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

(picture from www.falalalala.com)

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Empress Laura Carroll

Empress TE 360-375
Birthdate: 5 March TE 334
Birthplace: Terra
Date of Death: 22 Feb TE 375

Laura Carroll was conceived in vitro and born in 334 when her mother, Anna Leonov, was only eight years old. This was done by order of her grandfather, Emperor Alex Leonov, in order to boost morale with both troops and the Civil Service by producing an Imperial Heir for the very popular Bob Carroll.

Laura was raised by Bob Carroll and Betty Sanceau; her relationship to Anna was more that of sisters than daughter-and-mother. Laura was a shy and laconic child who spent hours wrapped up in her studies. She spent much of her time alone, and stayed aloof during family conferences and planning sessions.

Laura was 7 when Jef took the Throne; all evidence indicates that she was more comfortable with her uncle than with anyone else in the Palace. For the few years of Jef's reign, Laura was significantly more outgoing, and was even observed to laugh occasionally. When Jef died and Anna took the Throne, Laura became more withdrawn.

Laura's position as Heir was confirmed by the Imperial Council in the Succession Act of TE 348, the year after Anna took the Throne. However, a sizable minority coalition favored Anna's sister Dana.

In 350, Laura was espoused to Joe McCaffrey, a Terran Council member from Borshall. By all accounts, it was a union of love. McCaffrey was jovial and outgoing, and to outward appearances the couple had little in common and spent little time together. Nonetheless, there was a strong bond between them, a bond that deepened with the birth of their daughter Virginia in 351.

Anna suffered a long period of illness and physical decline, beginning about TE 352 and continuing to the end of her life. During this period, Laura stayed with Anna constantly, and a strong bond grew up between the two women. Although Laura was reticent and subdued, she developed a rapport with her mother and was able to assist Anna ably. When Anna died in July 360, Laura succeeded to the Throne with no dissent.

One of Laura's first actions was the appointment of her aunt, Dana Leonov, to the High Court. Dana was a firm supporter of the Carroll agenda, and under her influence the High Court supported Laura's every move.

With the economy in a boom phase and approximately 50 new habitable worlds being added each year, Laura was able to complete Anna's reforms by completely eliminating taxation in the Empire and democratizing the government.

The start of Laura's reign marks the traditional beginning of "The High Days of the Empire," a 50-year period in which the power and culture of the Empire were at a peak.

The war with the Patalanian Union continued throughout Laura's reign. In 361, at the Battle of Karphos, Imperial forces were roundly defeated by the Union. For the rest of Laura's reign, the war was a long series of Imperial defeats and retreats.

Laura stayed strong and in command until her last day. On 22 February 375, just days before her 41st birthday, she donned the Memory Crown for her daily impression, and died of massive cerebral hemorrhage. Although a search was made for assassins, it is generally accepted that Laura's death was natural.

Laura was succeeded by her daughter, Virginia Carroll.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The Story of Unde Nes (Part 2)

When Un de Nes awoke, she saw a gleaming female figure seated near her; the figure was aglow with the radiance of the sky, and she lowered her eyes at the sight. She put her hand on Sheltin kar-Nemeph, who awoke also.

For a moment the female seemed to fade and grow transparent, till she was nothing more than a glitter of starlight upon ice; then she reappeared, her image stronger than ever.

"Who has called Naervara back from her path? I was almost gone, seeking a better way."

Unde Nes found her voice. "I called you, Star-Maiden, though I was not aware of what I did."

"You. I have been aware of you, Unde Nes." She faded again, then came back. "You are known to me. But why do I linger, when my time has come, to move on?"

"Move on?"

"The Elder Gods pass on, Unde Nes. We have found a different way, mayhap a better place, and though none ever return, we think we know the way."

Sheltin kar-Nemeph, with the light of the Lady reflecting from her wide eyes, said, "Before you go, could you aid us?"

"Long have I worried about this place and these concerns, and I am weary. Will you not let me lay down this world and move on?" Naervara closed her eyes, and when she reopened them, they burnt with green starfire. "What will you have of me, Sheltin kar-Nemeph?"

"We have no food, no shelter, and we are pursued by the agents of the Gergathan. Sooner or later they will find us, and then we will be examined, tortured, and killed. Can you do nothing to help us?"

"My power in this universe wanes. Call me not back from the brink."

"While starlight remains," Unde Nes said, "your power is here, Goddess."

"You are kind, but unknowing. Still, I do not wish to carry regret with me, and you hvae come to this end partly from worship of me." The Goddess closed her eyes and sighed. "I will tell the Hlutr of the Scattered Worlds where you are, and they will send to your aid one of the Karessai Helyarren Teshra, the Galactic Riders. The stars will guide him and he will pluck you from the Kras Tentreb Nlan and take you back to the Scattered Worlds. Come, I will show you where to wait."

The wind was cold, and it seemed to tear the life from Unde Nes. She and Sheltin kar-Nemeph huddled together, and long they listened as Naervara spoke of the glories of the stars she had seen. Unde Nes, listening to the Goddess, felt as though she herself had taken flight and was between the stars in space, not in a physical body but merely a phantom of starlight.

Finally, a tiny craft appeared near them, and came swooping to a powered landing; upon its skin it bore the markings of the Free Peoples of the Scattered Worlds as well as the crest of the Iaranor; and an Iaranori Galactic Rider came out to help them.

"Hurry," the Iaranor told them, "For we are being tracked by great ships that will be here in seconds."

"Go." Unde Nes turned back to Naervara, and the Goddess smiled. "Go, Sheltin kar-Nemeph, and tell them what happened; tell them that we gained a tiny foothold, for a brief moment, on Verkorra. Tell them that we must never rest until the whole world is free once again. Tell them, Sheltin kar-Nemeph. And go with my love."

"What of you?"

Unde Nes held her limbs toward Naervara. "If the Goddess would have me, I would accompany her to the better place."

Naervara nodded. "Go, Sheltin kar-Nemeph, and bear the tale. And tell your fellows that although Naervara departs, her blessings stay with them."

Then the first of the large ships of the Gergathan appeared, flying over the Great Glacier, and the Iaranor Rider's small craft sprang up into space, and was gone. Several of the larger ships flew after it, but Unde Nes knew that they would escape -- for no ship of the Enemy could ever match that of a Galactic Rider bound for the Scattered Worlds.

Then Unde Nes turned back to Naervara, and took her hand. And now it was not her form, but the world around her that seemed to fade into a starlight dream, and before her she perceived a path opening up. Together, Unde Nes and Naervara took a step upon that path.

And so passed Unde Nes out of the Grand Scheme, the first creature of the Scattered Worlds to follow the Elder Gods into the Beyond.

As for Sheltin kar-Nemeph, she carried the tale home to the Scattered Worlds, and it was told in full before the Karessai Helyarren Corageshra. But the Iaranori Rider had seen naught of Naervara, and so the story remained a tale only.

Sheltin kar-Nemeph became an esteemed Galactic Rider, and when her time came she retired to Nephestal, where she sat for long hours before the Cathedral of Worlds, staring in the direction of Rept Kretzlab and wondering.

Here ends the story of Unde Nes.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers
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The Story of Unde Nes (Part 1)

The tale is told in the Scattered Worlds of the Daamin Unde Nes, who was not like others of her race. Unde Nes from a very early age loved the stars, and often would sit up late at night watching and charting them. In particular her fascination was stirred by the Rept Kretzlab, the Gap of Remembrance which split cosmic dust clouds and allowed a glimpse of the Core, and she longed for the lost homestars of her people.

In the time before Avethell rose, when she was still young as the Daamin reckon age, Unde Nes met one of the Galactic Riders on Nephestal. This Rider was of the race of the Bittalanen, a people who ruled briefly and came to maturity rapidly. Unde Nes became friends with this Rider, Sheltin kar-Nemeph, and together the two set off into the heavens to roam the Scattered Worlds. Many wonders they saw, and many tales are told of their adventures, but these are not part of their true story.

In these times some hint of the might of Avethell was heard, but the Gergathan had not yet come to fear the name of Aemallana, and there was more commerce between the Scattered and Gathered Worlds. At last the minds and eyes of Unde Nes and Sheltin kar-Nemeph turned toward the Core, and Unde Nes longed to see the close-gathered starry skies of Verkorra. So together they flew into Rept Kretzlab, and past the Curtain of the Hlutr, and so they came into the Gathered Worlds.

Upon several worlds they landed, and learned much . . . and rumor of their presence traveled far, even to Messilinia. And as the Gergathan was always on the lookout for those who dwelt in the Scattered Worlds, that it might pry from them the secrets of the Free Peoples, so it commanded that they be made to find their way to Verkorra, where some of its ships waited in ambush.

So came Unde Nes and Sheltin kar-Nemeph at last to Verkorra, and Unde Nes was eager for sight of her race's homeworld. But as the two made orbit, the ships of the Gergathan fell upon them and Sheltin kar-Nemeph was hard put to save the tiny craft from capture. The Rider, however, was one of the most skilled, and now her skill showed itself -- she brought the vessel to a safe landing in a snowy field at the foot of the Mountains of Kras Tenterb Nlan, the Great Glacier. The night sky was bright with the radiance of countless stars, stars of all colors Unde Nes had ever seen, and her emotions were lifted by the sight.

"We are dead, Unde Nes," said Sheltin kar-Nemeph, "for the ships that attacked us are surely those of the Enemy, and they have followed us down."

"Then let us flee, for now that I have reached this world I do not wish to give it up so easily." So they fled toward the mountains, as the Gergathan's ships settled to the ground nearby.

Then did Unde Nes face the Gergathan's vessels, and she composed her mind to peace, and she whispered prayer to Hesket, which in Coruman is the Hemmin Hesketen, a song older than the Pyslistroph (blessed be!). And Unde Nes' eyes brightened, and in their red depths appeared a tiny spark of icy blue. Then there sprang up a snowstorm, and under its cover Unde Nes and Sheltin kar-Nemeph were able to reach the mountains.

They climbed rapidly, and soon came to a cave in the mountainside; through cold and darkness they followed the cave's twisting passages until they were both very hungry, and each knew she could go no further. At last Unde Nes sat down and sighed.

"I can go no further, Sheltin kar-Nemeph," she said. "Calling the storm drained me of energy, and I cannot take another step in this cold and dark."

Now Sheltin kar-Nemeph, who was more rested, reached out to her friend. "If I may touch you, Unde Nes, then I shall carry you."

Unde Nes nodded, and thus it was that a lesser creature touched one of the Daamin and earned respect, not punishment. And in gratitude, it is said, those descendants of the Bittlanen who remain in the Scattered Worlds are ever exempt from the prohibition on touching the Daamin.

Sheltin kar-Nemeph carried Unde Nes, and her burden was not as heavy as she had anticipated. And as they stumbled on through the dark, Unde Nes laid her head against Sheltin kar-Nemeph's body, and cried out in weariness and hunger, calling upon Naervara and asking for one more sight of the stars before death or capture.

Then Sheltin kar-Nemeph became aware of a glimmer in the darkness, and she made for it. Soon she came to a large cave atop the Great Glacier, a cave whose roof was crystal-clear ice; and beyond the roof was the brilliance of Naervara's endless stars, filling the whole cave with cold white light. Verkorra's small moon was visible as a pale shadow against the brilliance of the stars, and nowhere were the ships of the Gergathan to be seen.

Then Sheltin kar-Nemeph put down her friend, and she curled up next to her, and the two of them slept.

(Next week: part two)

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Maerdik is one of the few Gathered Worlds which has any commerce with the Scattered Worlds.

Maerdik is the playground of Delger. Delger's creations abound there, Talebba constructs that supervise the channeling of the populace. For Maerdik is primarily a port of entry and departure, a controlled gateway through the Curtain of the Hlutr.

As recently as 100,000 BCE, Maerdik was a much busier world of two-way interaction, when the Core's power had been broken. When the Gergathan was still fighting to regain power in the vicinity of Messilinia, the Galactic Riders were paying regular visits to Maerdik, and there was a vital, thriving culture composed of a melange of all the peoples that had been left there two million years earlier in the fall of Malreppidar.

Gradually, over a thousand years or more, Kaylpeskrit expanded, and finally Maerdik felt first the rumor, then the breath, and finally the full smashing power of the Gergathan. And with Maerdik's fall, the Curtain of the Hlutr was re-established to warn Scattered Worlds vessels away from Kaylpeskrit.

Still there is an underground on Maerdik. The Galactic Riders may have given up on the world, but the Council of Free Peoples never did. Now Maerdik is a vulgar ruin compared to its former self, a planet dominated by Delger's agents and by the transient population of soldiers and servants who pass through its cities -- but even yet there is some small hope, and both the name of Aemallana and the knowledge of the Scattered Worlds are kept holy in the ruins by beings of peace.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Top Ten Reasons We Love Brin & Catherine

Valentine Day TE 183: As everyone in the Empire knows, Mesayyid Brin Lütken and Catherine Leonov celebrate their 25th Anniversary today. For the occasion, we here at Stars of the Galaxy put our heads together and came up with the following list of The Top Ten Reasons We Love Brin & Catherine.

10. 1300 colonized worlds in the Empire as of this year...and 1200 of them have some public feature named for Brin or Catherine.

9. Brin Bonuses got us through the Slump of 172.

8. We get to spend every April wondering if Catherine is pregnant again.

7. Who else would have brought justice the murderers of Cambolinee?

6. Giving us all something interesting to watch during Vernon Castiligoni's speeches.

5. Five children so far, and maybe more to come, ensuring that gossip columnists will never be out of a job.

4. Never a dull moment in the Patrik Lütken/Kristen Kristeller on-again-off-again romance.

3. Is Darryl Lütken the cutest baby ever, or what?

2. Those commemorative wedding plates and holo-displays appreciate in value every year.

1. On their Silver Anniversary, they're still the Galaxy's storybook couple.


copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The Imperial colony of Javal (founded TE 94/2247 CE) was a marginal world, its economy sustained largely by tourism and mineral production.

After the fall of the First Empire, society on Javal quickly regressed to a pre-industrial level.

In 3187 CE, a group of ideological outcasts from the Deletian Monarchy settled on Javal. Calling themselves "Klavvin," (a word of uncertain origin), they conducted a systematic absorption of the natives, which was complete by c. 3800 CE.

In 3524 CE, the Klavvin signed a trade treaty with the Tr#skan Trade Union, and by 3700 CE the island of Traskas was a Level One Tr#skan Trade Base, with a state-of-the-art spaceport in Teklenn Valley.

In 4635 CE, following the destruction of BDA Tr#ska, approximately 20,000 Tr#skan refugees landed on Javal and took up residence on Traskas Isle. Relations between the Tr#skans and the Klavvin became strained.

With the failure of Relay Delta (4723 CE), the Tr#skans became increasingly isolated from the rest of the Galaxy. Finally, in 4864 CE the Klavvin invaded Traskas and enslaved the Tr#skans. With a combination of drugs and hypnosis, the Tr#skans were reduced to a slave-labor caste.

This situation continued until 4951 CE, when a delegation of Knights Economic led an assault against Javal and succeeded in freeing the Tr#skan slaves.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Psi and Psi-Like Abilities

Mundane: A person without psionic abilities beyond erratic, rudimentary telepathy or precognition.

Fey: One with psionic abilities that are measurable, reliable, and genetically inheritable.


Absolute Direction: Unerring directional sense, manifested as a homing instinct, or as a sense of framework (i.e. always knowing the way North).

Agstone (sometimes "Hagstone"): Complex machinery, usually resembling polished stone, which amplifies natural psi abilities.

Astral Projection: Ability to project a visible or invisible body across distance. The original body is usually comatose during an astral projection.

Augmentation: Ability to increase the effect of other psi powers.

Bilocation Ability to be in two or more places at the same time.

Clairvoyance: The ability to sense present events, regardless of distance, size, or intervening barriers. Gross clairvoyance deals with the macroscopic world and is limited in resolution; micro-clairvoyance has nearly unlimited resolution. The verb "behold" is usually used to distinguish clairvoyance from mundane senses.

Forever Dream: An alternate state of consciousness in which the Daamin live most of their lives. Characterized by nonlinear causality.

Inner Voice: Form of mental communication used by the Hlutr.

Kedankat: Lorecanist mental state akin to the Forever Dream of the Daamin.

Linguistic Sense: Possibly a type of telepathy, which allows one to communicate easily, even with unfamiliar languages.

Location Sense: A form of clairvoyance that manifests as a tracking ability, enabling one to sense the location of an object, person, etc.

Pattern Formation: Ability to recognize/impose patterns on chaotic data/events. A Pattern Former is excellent, for example, at finding paths through labyrinths, trackless forests, etc.

Personality Projection: Ability to project portions of one's personality (i.e. moods, emotions, etc.) onto inanimate objects or places, so that others who contact them will feel the same.

Postcognition: Ability to sense events of the past. A form of clairvoyance.

Precognition: Ability to sense events before they occur.

Psiamine First of a class of drugs known as "telepathic dampers." Psiamine and its derivatives are primarily used in infancy and adolescence to dampen psi powers so as to protect Fey children from inadvertently harming themselves or others in exercising their abilities.

Psi-Block: A simple machine which serves to block psi influences. In the First Empire and much of the Interregnum, psi-block technology is in its infancy and effectiveness is low.

Psychokinesis ("pk"): Ability to influence matter by means other than physical contact. Gross psychokinesis deals with the macroscopic world and is nearly unlimited in power; micro-psychokinesis has sharp distance, mass, and force limits.

Psychometry: Ability to read the history of an object by physical contact.

Psychon: Hypothetical tachyon exchange particle for psi. Psychons are influenced by large, complex molecules (i.e. proteins and protein analogs).

Pyrokinesis: Ability to produce fire.

Song of the Hlutr: The total concert of Hlutr communication in the Inner Voice.

Stasis Formation: Ability to create a zone of stasis, in which time passes at a different rate than outside the zone.

Telepathic Projection: Ability to impose thoughts & feelings on others.

Telepathinet: A network of telepaths.

Telepathy: The ability to directly communicate mind-to-mind; also can include the ability to sense, read, or influence the thoughts of another. The drug psiamine is one of a class of drugs called telepathic dampers; they can deaden a telepath's sensitivity and are often used in raising young telepaths.

Teleportation: Rare psionic ability to move from one point to another in negligible time, without crossing intervening distance. "Zap" is slang for "teleport."

Temporal telepathic Resonance: Ability to link to similar minds in the past or future.

Watchers (of the Stones): Cadre of telepathic-sensitive volunteers on Nephestal, who attempt to divine meaning from the music of the Singing Stones.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Nobedila is one of the Scattered Worlds, notable for its population of sapient rock formations, an offshoot of Talebba lifeforms. Nobedila has an atmosphere of almost pure nitrogen and argon, and is absolutely devoid of biological life. Nevertheless, it supports a thriving (if extremely slow-paced) culture and a varied silicon-based ecosystem.

The dominant lifeform on Nobedila is the craton, a stable and long-lived formation of subcontinent size. Cratons swim on the denser mantle, taking millions of years to move any appreciable distance across the planet. Cratons generally communicate with one another via seismic waves propagated through the mantle and core of Nobedila. Craton communication has been likened to the song of whales, but of course the timeframe is hundreds of thousands of times slower.

The inhabitants of Nobedila also communicate with the rest of the Scattered Worlds through a form of telepathy. They are best able to communicate with other long-lived lifeforms such as the Hlutr. One craton of Nobedila, an individual colloquially known as "Grandpa Basalt," allowed a portion of itself to be moved to the Secluded Realm, where it serves as a platform for th Eldest Hlut.

Nobedila is one of the few inhabited worlds in the Galaxy to have no native Hlutr population.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The New Renaissance

The New Renaissance was the period of the Interregnum, roughly 7540 CE - c. 10,600 CE, which witnessed the rebirth of dynamic, growing civilization in the Galaxy.

ABOVE: The Milky Way in 7500 CE

The Inngebauer Dynasty

In 7540 CE (5387 CI), disgusted with the Purchik Dynasty, the Credixian Reichstaag chose Josef Inngebauer as Imperator. Josef was the son of Stevn Inngebauer, an obscure Credixian Noble, and Meria Kerteza, heiress to the monarchial throne of Vetret. Josef's older brother reigned as King Denal of Vetret until 7540 CE; Josef I inherited the throne of Vetret and brought Vetret under the rule of the Imperium.

Josef was a dynamic, expansionist ruler; during the year he reigned, Credix conquered vast territories around Vetret and began looking beyond its borders for the first time in a millennium.

Josef's daughters reigned as Antonia XIII (7541 - 7574 CE) [5388 - 5421 CI], and continued her father's work. She reigned for 33 years and had three co-Imperators: her sister Marcia X (7546 - 7551) [5393 - 5398 CI], her lover Augusta XI (7545 CE) [5392 CI], and Augusta's daughter Nina VI (7545 - 7583 CE) [5392 - 5430 CI].

Prior to the reign of the Inngebauers, Credix had virtually no foreign policy. Perhaps because of Josef's childhood in the courts of Vetret, he was deeply aware that there were other powers in the Galaxy, somewhere far beyond the unorganized territories taht surrounded the Imperium. He was determined to bring Credix into contact with those powers; Antonia XIII and her successor Imeprators carried out his dream.

Under Antonia XIII, Credix signed a treaty with the Independent Traders, giving the Traders diplomatic immunity in Credix space, and allowing them to make full use of Credixian repair facilities and trade companies.

ABOVE: The Milky Way in 7600 CE

Teleskany-Credix Cultural Exchange

About 7650 CE, the Adelhardts of Teleskany allied themselves with New Sardinia and Borshall through a series of diplomatic marriages. Working through the Independent Traders, the Adelhardt Family entered into an alliance with the Credixian Imperium, assuring peace and mutual co-operation between Credix and Teleskany/Borshall/New Sardinia.

Jontan Adelhardt was sent to Credix and married Imperator Augusta XII (7650 - 7679 CE) [5497 - 5526 CI]. Their son became Imperator Mark XVII (7679 - 7740 CE )[5526 - 5587 CI].

The political agreement was little more than symbolic -- the two realms were on opposite sides of the Galaxy, and neither had the inclination to aid in wars that far away. But the real significance of the agreement was social. For the first time since the First Empire's fall, there was massive cross-cultural exchange between two of the Galaxy's major power groups, and exchange largely facilitated by the Independent Traders. The agreement also showed other powers an alternative to war -- an example of peaceful co-operation.

ABOVE: The Milky Way in 7700 CE

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Dance for the Ivory Madonna Soundtrack

What’s All This, Then?

When I started working on Dance for the Ivory Madonna, I put together a tape of songs that I found inspirational, relevant, or just plain evocative. Through the planning and writing processes, these songs were constantly with me -- playing in the car during commuting time, in the background when I was writing, and in my head all the time.

In some of these songs you may recognize the genesis of some ideas, characters, and situations from Dance for the Ivory Madonna. Sometimes the inspiration is direct and obvious; in other cases the song bears little resemblance to what ultimately wound up in the book.

In these notes, I figured I would try to explain how some of the songs relate to the book, along with some reflections on the songs themselves.

Master Jack (Four Jacks and a Jill; from Four Jacks and a Jill)

This song was an obvious precursor of Penylle’s relationship with Jack/Marc Hoister.

Four Jacks and a Jill were a South African folk/pop group of the 1960s. Looking back on it, this song is a pretty courageous attack on apartheid and a social system that used the educational system and restrictions on travel to keep citizens -- particularly young people --ignorant of the rest of the world.

Wrapped Around Your Finger (The Police; from Synchronicity)

Another version of the Marc-Penylle relationship.

Rubenesque (The Duras Sisters; from Rubenesque)

I wasn’t exposed to the Duras Sisters until half the book was written. It’s a pity that I didn’t know about Rubenesque when I was sketching out Miranda’s character. Oh, well, at least I found it in time to include it in the official soundtrack.

Your Move (Yes; from The Yes Album)

This one helped me to get a handle on the relationship between a Nexus operative and his/her boss -- in this case, I see Miranda as the White Queen and Damien saying “Move me onto any black square.”

Of course, such a relationship can become damaging -- unless the boss is wise enough to force her operative to fly on his own.

Games Without Frontiers (Peter Gabriel; from Peter Gabriel)

In this song I see the Nexus watching the U.N. and other governmental bodies, and becoming increasingly disgusted with the way nations play pointless, meaningless games with one another.

Games Without Frontiers probably got me looking into Medecins sans Frontieres, and so was at least a partial inspiration for Jamiar Heavitree.

The Logical Song (Supertramp; from Morning in America)

Here I see Damien’s dilemma…and the solution. As the book begins, Damien (like the singer) is waiting for someone to tell him “who he is.” And (as Miranda knows full well) any true answer to that question can only come from Damien himself.

The Piper (Abba; from Super Trouper)

This is how Marc Hoister’s preaching -- enhanced by Penylle -- affected the population.

And it’s a “dancing” tie-in. I don’t know, perhaps this song gave me the notion of “dancing” for the Ivory Madonna.

La Cage Aux Folles (from La Cage Aux Folles)

This song captures some of the outrageous feel I wanted for the Maris Institute.

The Time Warp (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

In the book, this became the Hyperspace Jig. I still like the original better.

The particular version I used is an extended and enhanced dance mix from Europe. I like to think that this is the version that played at the Institute on Friday nights…

You Don’t Believe (The Alan Parsons Project; from Eye in the Sky)

Another dimension of the relationship between Penylle and Marc Hoister.

I always mis-hear the fourth line as “Well it’s my need, but always your connection,” which seems to connote a junkie/supplier dynamic. It’s that, I think, that informed Marc’s supplying of prolactin -- combined with a synthetic opiate -- to Penylle.

Undun (The Who; from Greatest Hits)

To me, this song is all about Marc gloating over mistakes that Miranda has made. I picture the tone as gleeful as Marc anticipates Miranda’s fall and ultimate destruction.

After the Gold Rush (Neil Young; from Decade)

The first verse inspired InfoPol’s raid on the Institute.

In the second verse I see Penylle’s reaction to being told about Marc’s treachery.

The third verse, of course, is the source for Jack/Marc’s mercy dream at the end of the book. I think this is probably the root of the entire “migration to Mars” theme.

Hallelujah Chorus (Händel; from Messiah)

This played, endlessly repeating, during the hours I was writing the “Dagon’s House” scene. It’s a wonder my housemates didn’t strangle me. The whole Hallelujah Chorus element came from Darkover Grand Council, where the whole convention gathers around the pool on Saturday night to sing the Chorus.

Blood Makes Noise (Suzanne Vega; from 99.9 F°)

I think Suzanne Vega’s jagged, brutal song perfectly captures the anxiety that gripped a world which had seen plague after cruel plague sweep through defenseless populations. “The thickening of fear” is such a marvelous phrase for a constant doom that hung over the world, just as the threat of thermonuclear war was a constant doom hanging over the world in which Miranda grew up.

Part of the Plan (Dan Fogelberg; from Greatest Hits)

Miranda’s plans, Marc Hoister’s plans, the plans of the AIs -- Damien and Penylle are parts of the plan, but whose?

Cobwebs and Dust (Gordon Lightfoot; from If You Could Read My Mind)

Originally, I included this song in the hope that it would help me get a handle on WWH, especially in the scene where Damien and Penylle go to ask his help. Well, it didn’t turn out to be very much of a direct inspiration -- but I think some of the otherworldly tone crept into what I actually wrote.

Oh, and I do know that this song was the reason that WWH had settled on an island…

We Didn’t Start the Fire (Billy Joel; from Storm Front)

This song, as a reflection of the history of the Baby Boom generation, belonged here. It obviously informed a lot of my thinking about the Boomers as a superogranism.

And, of course, finally deciphering the line “children of thalidomide” was what gave me the idea of having Penylle’s mutation spring from the drug miruvorane…

Blinded by the Light (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band; from The Roaring Silence)

The line is “revved up like a deuce,” and it is a clear reference to the famous “little deuce coupe.”

I don’t know why people hate this song so much. Not only is it full of enough evocative names and images to inspire a whole shelf of books, but Manfred Mann’s orchestrated version is so superior, dramatically and in every other way, to Springsteen’s sleepy, mumbled variation, it's just not funny.

This song, more than any other, influenced Dance for the Ivory Madonna. In fact, this song informs just about every chapter of the book.

In particular, in the entire song I see the framework of the Terrad meta-program: that moment when Penylle and Damien brought all of cyberspace to a halt and changed the course of worlds ("With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round; with this very unpleasin’ sneezin’ and wheezin’ the calliope crashed to the ground.”)

You’ll find much more of the song, though, in the book.

There are the Nexus codenames: Silicon Sister, Go-Kart Mozart, Lil’ Hurly-Burly. There are capsule characterizations: Marc Hoister is “some brimstone-baritone, anti-cyclone Rolling Stone preacher from the East” and Penylle is “some silicon(e) sister with her manager mister.”

While I didn’t deliberately try to match events of the book to images from the song, there are echoes all over the place. I’m sure that the police helicopter in Kampala bears some relationship to the line “Little Hurly-Burly came by in his curly-whirly and asked me if I needed a ride.” Likewise, “Indians in the summer” relates to the Navajo homeland and the Dekoa flu outbreak.

Besides all this, the surreal images of the song certainly got me thinking about the different ways that the AIs thought and communicated.

This was another song that I played constantly over and over while I was writing the last chapters of the book.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Imperial Lifestations

In TE 62 the Imperial Department of Technology, under a mandate from the Imperial Council, began an ambitious program of placing and servicing automated rescue stations throughout the Galaxy where they would be convenient to primary traffic lanes.

Each Lifestation contained life-support equipment & supplies, communications, medical equipment, and basic repair parts.

By TE 300, there were millions of Lifestations throughout the Galaxy, with at least a dozen orbiting within each settled planetary system.

Lifestations were largely autonomous and self-repairing, and many of them remained in service for thousands of years after the fall of the Empire.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Prehistory of the Pylistroph

About 2.4 billion years ago, the Galactic Core was home to the Seven Races. The Daamin, Hchevidiire, and Evallan joined each other in a mutual trade/exploration society. They discovered the Kareffi, Talebba, and Hlutr, and settled altogether about twenty worlds.

Meanwhile, the Coruma had gained atomic power and ramship-drive, and settled about six colony worlds. While these worlds were fighting bitter colonial wars, Daamin and Hchevidiire landing parties set down on two Coruma worlds.

A Coruman named Dettalean Gankeh created the most awesome war-machine ever built, a vast amalgamation of advanced computer circuits and living minds, controlling the whole military force of the Coruman race. This war machine, created with the aid of Den and the blessing of Ka, became the Gergathan. Soon, it absorbed the personality of Dettalean Gankeh, and then it started its long war against life itself.

The Seven Races held conclave and made peace in the threat of the Gergathan. Many Corumans, fearing their own creation, joined the alliance. That long war continued for 1,500 years until one Coruman -- Dirunde Forriva -- became the main agent of the Seven Races.

Dirunde Forriva, accompanied by his spouse, travelled to Messilinia and stood in Geva Ganloohen, the Place of Despair, before the Gergathan itself. Forriva carried one of the Singing Stones, to serve as a focus for all the life-energy of the galaxy -- the only weapon capable of destroying the Gergathan. The Gergathan offered Forriva and his friend ultimate power, but they triumphed, and the blow was delivered. Yet at the last instant Forriva, pitying the war-machine and loathe to lose all its sophisticated circuitry, blunted his blow. The Gergathan was all but destroyed, yet still its empty circuits remained, and undetected sparks of life remained. This attack against the Gergathan was later called "Forriva's Strike."

In the war, Messilinia was all but destroyed in nuclear holocaust. The Daamin, Hechevidiire, and Evellan accepted Coruma survivors on all their worlds, and even settled some new planets (notably Maela Gres).

During the next thousand years, the planets of the Seven Races were fairly autonomous. Ramships were replaced by the slower light-sail vehicles, and physical contact between planets grew less frequent. Some telepathic contact was maintained. Daamin breeding experiments resulted in the Coruma becoming more peaceful. The Seven Races settled down to simple, non-technocratic lifestyles in a loose association of worlds.

Then, on Maela Gres, a descendant of Dirunde Forriva named Gaban Taroman conceived the idea of bringing all the Seven Races together under one benevolent government. Taroman found the ideal agent for his dream on Messilinia -- the dead-but-salvagable circuits of the Gergathan. So he went there, and raised the useful parts of the Gergathan, and proclaimed the Pylistroph....

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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State vs Church in the Jaret Dynasty

In the Credixian Imperium, the reign of the Jaret Dynasty (2189-2837 CI) witnessed an eight-century power struggle between the Sisterhood of Meletia and the Richstaag (dominated by the Kala Phenkae).

After Imperators Mark III and Gordon V became increasingly supportive of the Reichstaag, the Sisterhood arranged the assassination of the next Imperator, Antonia VI. The Reichstaag was forced to accept Elenor IV, High Priestess of Meletia, as her successor to the Crown.

Power remained in the Sisterhood's hands for over a century. When Imperator Mark IV accepted a Kala Phenkae-approved mate, their daughter Augusta was killed. The only remaining viable candidate for the Crown was High Priestess Nina -- she became Nina IV in 2413 CI.

In 2575 CI, the Kala Phenkae seized the chance to advance their own interests by poisoning pro-Sisterhood Daniel, heir to Imperator Daniel IV. Daniel IV's successor, Marcia III, proved to just as pro-Sisterhood as her brother, so in 2581 the Kala Phenkae arranged for Marcia to be poisoned and their own Anna I became Imperator, in place of Marcia's son who was still a minor.

The next few Imperators were Kala Phenkae sympathizers until 2653 CI, when Philip VII died -- perhaps murdered. Philip's son Stephen was still a minor, so the Crown passed to Augusta, daughter of Aurick (Daniel IV's grandson) and Marcia, High Priestess of Meletia (herself great-great-granddaughter of Marcia II). Augusta, ruling as Augusta VII, was sympathetic to the Sisterhood.

The conflict finally ended in 2837 CI with the death of Imperator Elenor V. Prime Minister Fredric LaVerne was voted Imperator as Fredric V; from High Priestess Marcia Jaret he forced the concession of the Pragmatic Sanction of 2838, which ruled that no Priestess or High Priestess of Meletia could ever again occupy the Throne.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers
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Mars 2068

(from My Favorite Martians by Jacob Matthews, Alee Publishing, 2068)

Sagan Station, in northern Xanthe, is the oldest continuous settlement on Mars. Primarily a research base, the station is built to support a crew of 150. In recent decades that population has fallen to a scant three dozen dedicated scientists and their families. Largely abandoned by its sponsor, the North American government, Sagan Station is currently supported by the other settlements on Mars. Among Martian teenagers, an overnight visit to Sagan Station is considered something of a rite of passage.

Harmonious City in the Heavens is located on the Martian equator in Meridian. A bustling city of over twenty thousand, Harm City (as it is locally known) is legally part of Outer China and was primarily settled by transportees from all over the Three Chinas. In theory, travel to Harm City is restricted; in practice, the restriction is enforced only on off-planet vessels. Native Martians visit freely, and some have even settled in the city. Both the European Union and Umoja maintain embassies in Harm City. Harm City dedicated its twelfth dome, another agricultural dome, in 2064. With the resultant increase in rice production, Harm City has started exporting rice to other Martian settlements.

Gagarin Town in the north of Hellas is a European city of about eight thousand. Until completion of the Deimos Automated Factory Platform in 2036, Gagarin Town was the manufacturing center of Mars. After the arrival of the fusion drive in 2042, Gagarin Town underwent a renaissance fueled by tourism, primarily from Earth. La Maison Rouge, widely acknowledged to be the best restaurant on Mars, usually has a waiting list tendays long.

The Cities of the Valley, the four largest cities on Mars, are located along the Valles Marineris. In order from east to west, they are: Bagunda, Axum, Kilwa, and Bunyoro. Settled from Africa and politically part of Umoja, these four cities and their associated minor settlements house the majority of the Martian population. Each was a relatively small village until 2042, when the discovery of the fusion drive made emigration to Mars much more economical. In the past 24 years, the Cities of the Valley have expanded tremendously: they are now home to over 150,000 people (a population that is rising steadily). Lavish use of fusion power revolutionized construction on Mars. Instead of the domes and caverns of other cities, the Cities of the Valley are relatively open: strong nanofilm barriers across large sections of the Mariner Valley contain atmosphere and heat and provide effective radiation shielding. A network of high-speed trains connects all four cities in the Valley.

The University of Axum is the nexus of an academic and research community on the cutting edge of high-energy physics, nanomanufacturing, and biotech. The Bunyoro Symphony regularly tours across Mars.

New Athens Located in Tharsis and founded by the legendary Miranda Maris, New Athens is permanent home to 200-250 artists, entertainers, and intellectuals, and temporary home to hundreds more. It is the entertainment capital of Mars, and a popular site for tourists. Entirely contained within one domed crater, New Athens' terraced balconies and constantly-changing holograms are familiar throughout the Solar System. Regular shuttle service to Bagunda, Harm City, and Gagarin Town links New Athens to the rest of Mars.

Politically, New Athens is a free city under Nexus administration. As such, it is often the site of interplanetary and international conferences.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The Eldest Hlut

(aka The Venerable, The Eldest of All)

The Eldest Hlut broke soil on Paka Tel three billion years ago, before the Pylistroph. She was created by the Hlutr Elders as a new type of Hlut, with a vastly-exapnded lifespan and the promise to right the wrongs that they had witnessed.

During the Pylistroph, it was the Eldest Hlut (still a sapling) who argued for the Hlutr to send their spores into the Scattered Worlds, thus paving the way for the arrival of life.

With the birth of Mertorthar, the Eldest Hlut was one of the driving forces behind the Flight of the Daamin and Schism of the Hlutr. She accompanied the refugees, and established Her home in the Secluded Realm.

In the Secluded Realm the Eldest Hlut resides on an island-continent which is largely dominated by Her substance. She has countless trunks and offshoots all over the island, and the many other plants and Hlutr which occupy the island are, to some degree, part of Her as well.

Her island also contains a cemetery where honored heroes of the Scattered Worlds are buried, so that their substance becomes part of Her. In this way She is able to absorb their memories and their wisdom.

The Eldest Hlut bears within Herself one of the Singing Stones.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

Find out more in The Leaves of October

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The Secluded Realm

The Secluded Realm is a Dyson Sphere around a G3 star somewhere in the Scattered Worlds. The exact location is a secret to all but the Wisest of the Daamin and various Galactic Riders. Access is available only through special shuttles from Nephestal, which run on an irregular schedule. The population of the Secluded Realm is conjectured to be about 10 billion beings, representing all races in the Scattered Worlds.

According to ancient proverb, Nephestal is the center of the Scattered Worlds -- and the Secluded Realm is their hidden heart. Here, memory rules and the ways of the Pylistroph are adhered to. The people of the Scattered Worlds visit and are welcome, but while the Daamin and Nephestal look to the future, the Secluded Realm as a rule looks to the past.

The Secluded Realm was by the Eldest Hlut and Her allies after the Flight of the Daamin c. 1.2 billion years ago. The Realm is generally an anarchy, tightly constrained by tradition and custom. The Eldest Hlut usually speaks for the Secluded Realm, but She consults with many trusted advisers both within and without the Realm.

The Eldest Hlut resides on an island-continent which is largely dominated by Her substance. She has countless trunks and offshoots all over the island, and the many other plants and Hlutr which occupy the island are, to some degree, part of Her as well. Her island also contains a cemetery where honored heroes of the Scattered Worlds are buried, so that their atoms become part of Her.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The Year 2036

It was the year that Comet IRAS32-Barrie shone so bright and so far across February skies that it put the full moon to shame. It was the most exciting election year in United States history, as incumbent Kaitlin Taft and challenger Chrystal Gilliatt-Moore deadlocked in the Electoral College, throwing the election into the House of Representatives. After eight months of public hearings, partisan infighting, sexual scandal, and the highest TV ratings ever recorded, the House awarded the Presidency to Jeff Boardmann, Ohio’s junior Senator. Both Taft and Gilliatt-Moore vanished from public life; it was rumored in the Washington Post that they were married in Vermont and moved to Alaska to set up a lesbian commune for disenchanted former-politicos.

It was the year of the Agbeko, an African dance that swept the world, boosted by candidate Gilliatt-Moore’s impromptu demonstration on the New Oprah Show. It was the year that Krasnoyarsk and Altaysk won their independence, the Social Security System finally collapsed, and a genetically-enhanced chimp named Toto finished fifth in the National Spelling Bee.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Idara Adelhardt

The Adelhardt ancestors appear to have been minor nobles of Carinthia, or perhaps southern Bavaria, in the thirteenth century CE. By the fifteenth century, this family had become associated with the House of Habsburg.

Adelhardt ancestors served the Habsburgs until World War I -- at that time one Adelhardt ancestor was sneaked out of Austria, along with his family; he changed the family name to "Adelhardt" and took up residence in the United States.

Derek David Adelhardt, Sr. (1928 - 1953 CE) managed, by investing in the stock market, to build up a respectable fortune. When he died in a minor war in Korea, he passed this fortune on to his son, Derek David Adelhardt, Jr., and his daughter, Marie Adelhardt. Marie proved a financial genius. She managed to keep the family fortune intact through the economic chaos of the 1970's, and invested heavily in the fledgling computer industry of the 1980's. Her nephew, Roger Adelhardt, Sr. (1978 - 2023 CE), was one of the founding members of the Nexus. Unlike most other Nexus operatives, Roger Adelhardt used his own name rather than a pseudonym.

Roger Adelhardt, Jr. (2003 - 2082 CE) continued his father's Nexus work, and in the climatic events of 2042 he had a seat on the Terran Council.

Lewis Adelhardt (2031 - 2082 CE) was a delegate to the Terran Council; he also invested a large amount of the family fortune in the Leikeis Colony. This investment returned many times over during the following decades, as well as guaranteeing Idara Adelhardt control of at least part of Leikeis.

Lewis' son Gerald Adelhardt (2063 - 2144 CE) founded the planet Dunsinane for his family and built Castle Adelhardt. Since then, one member of the Family has been Dunsinane's Planetary Administrator, inevitably titled "Thane of Cawdor." Meanwhile, Gerald's sister Sayyid Frieda Adelhardt (2066 - 2152 CE) distinguished herself as Ambassador from Terra to Leikeis, and later the first Exchequer of Leikeis.

By the time the Empire was founded in 2153 CE, Idara Adelhardt was an integral part of the ruling nobility.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The Migration of the Daamin

The Maak'datq Song Cycle, the epic of the Daamin race, is of great antiquity; the first books dating back to the time of the Pyslistroph ove a billion years ago. In form, the Maak'datq is as much dance and gesture as song; a full, nuanced translation is inherently impossible.

The entire Maak'datq Cycle takes nearly a full Nephestalan year to perform/recite/experience. The Maak'datq does not have performers or an audience -- all are participants, and much of the "action" takes place in the mysterious, incomprehensible state of the Daamin Forever Dreams.

The following is an attempt to render a passage from the fourth section, "The Migration of the Daamin."

Long before your mothers were pups, in the time before time, the Elders of the Daamin were moved to absent themselves from their long contemplation, and bestir themselves about the worlds. These were the days of the waning of the Pylistroph (blessed be!), when the power of the Gergathan was growing beyond all limit, and all the races of the Pylistroph were falling under its dominion.

Of this decline, and of the End of the Pylistroph, more is told in other songs. In time, the Elders of the Daamin were convinced that they could not fight the Gergathan. The Daamin themselves were few, less than eighty billions on all the Gathered Worlds -- and of these, fewer than twenty billions owed allegiance to the Council of Elders. The legions of the Gergathan numbered in the hundreds of trillions.

Ashli Sicne was then Senior of the Elders, and long she consulted with those of the Hlutr who were not under the Gergathan's sway. Now for many millions of years the Hlutr had been spreading through the vastness of the Scattered Worlds, spreading with the Pylistroph's Seed Vessels. The Eldest Hlut counseled Ashli Sicne to take her people into the Scattered Worlds, where in endless free spaces the Gergathan would not be able to find them.

Some there were who would have the Daamin stay and fight, using the Singing Stones. Then it was that the fastness of the Talebba fell, and the Lens was broken and its Stone destroyed...hand after this, Ashli Sicne ruled that the Daamin would move to the Scattered Worlds.

Now there began a great war, as the Gergathan sought to prevent their leaving and to seize the rest of the Singing Stones. And the Daamin fought valiantly, seeking time to complete construction of a starfleet that would carry them. Bitter was that war, with Daamin fighting Daamin and Hlut battling Hlut. Time and again Ashli Sicne used the Singing Stones as a weapon of defense -- but in fear of losing them she did not try to attack the Gergathan directly. Of this war, many other songs of heroism and of defeat are sung.

Now there were two Daamin of the same mother, who could trace their ancestry back to the legendary seer Crettim Bruv. They were called Tiochi Bruv and Mamlen Bruv, and both were explorers. Both had spent a lifetime flying around the Scattered Worlds and cataloging their wonders; both were at ease with the vast emptiness of the Scattered Worlds. Ashli Sicne brought them to her, and long they debated on the world that would be the new home of the Daamin.

Tiochi Bruv knew of a world which he called Riplistan: a peaceful world long-beloved of the Hlutr, a world as blue and beautiful as any of the Gathered Worlds. Riplistan swung in a lonely orbit tens of parsecs from the nearest inhabited worlds, just a few dozen parsecs from the boundary of the Core.

Almost Ashli Sicne was moved to accept Riplistan as the new home. Then Mamlen Bruv spoke, telling of another world, a young world with a single white sun, in a cluster of many such suns. She called this planet Nephestal, and she pointed out that many worlds surrounded Nephestal would serve to house the rest of the Daamin.

At this Ashli Sicne made her decision. But then Tiochi Bruv conceived of a marvelous scheme, and when he presented it Ashli Sicne was happy, and she agreed. And so all plans were made.

Two expeditions set out, then: Tiochi Bruv and several ships to Riplistan, and Mamlen Bruv alone to Nephestal. Both were secretly followed by the Gergathan's minions. Tiochi Bruv's expedition landed, and upon the forested plains of Riplistan they began to construct a city. Memlen Bruv circled Nephestal for a time, then set off in complicated runs about the other planets in the region.

Now the fleet of the Daamin was almost complete, ships of every type that had ever been seen. In addition to the Daamin who wished to go, the ships carried millions of uprooted Hlutr who were against the Gergathan, up to the Eldest Hlut Herself. And Ashli Sicne took a desperate step: by armed, swift couriers she dispatched two of the Singing Stones: one to Riplistan, and the other to Nephestal.

The Gergathan above all was loath to allow the Singing Stones to escape the Gathered Worlds. Its legions raced after the two Stones, sufficient forces in each case to annihilate the planets upon which the Stones came to rest.

Now Tiochi Bruv, and Mamlen Bruv his sibling, brought forth the power of the Stones they had been given. From the Gathered Worlds Tiochi Bruv summoned a waiting military fleet of the Daamin. Through the Stone, half a million ships were drawn across kiloparsecs in an instant. For the fleet carried a Stone as well, and Tiochi Bruv, in concert with all the Scattered Worlds Hlutr, was able to draw that Stone and all around it to his own Stone.

The Gergathan's attacking ships fell in minutes to the the superior numbers of the Daamin. Now another, much more powerful Navy set forth from Messilinia under the command of Arivaan, chief among the deputies of the Gergathan. Arivaan flew her ships directly toward Riplistan, and it seemed that the Daamin defenders of that world would surely fall.

Now Ashli Sicne took her chance, and in every direction flew the escaping ships of the Daamin, leaving the Gathered Worlds behind forever. But behind stayed Ashli Sicne, the Eldest Hlut, and all the remaining Singing Stones. And in the Gathered Worlds, the Gergathan redoubled efforts to seize the homeworld of the Daamin, for now it seemed that all of the Singing Stones could be taken.

Memlen Bruv then used her Stone, and drew to Nephestal the fleet from Riplistan, and Ashli Sicne, and the Eldest Hlut, and all the other Singing Stones. The strain was far too much, and in an unnatural wind the Singing Stone of Mamlen Bruv melted and dissolved into a handful of starlight that faded away on interstellar winds.

Now the Eldest Hlut took up the Stone that time immemorial had belonged to the Hlutr. With it, and with all the other Stones and the Song of the Free Hlutr, the Eldest Hlut let forth a powerful song, and let fall a screen around the Core which is called the Curtain of the Hlutr, containing within it all the thoughts and evil promptings of the Gergathan. In ages since it came to pass that the Gergathan learned songs and ways around the Curtain; but in its early time it was invulnerable.

Without guidance, faced with a suddenly-empty world, many of Arivaan's troops deserted, and nothing is known of them. Arivaan herself led her Navy to Nephestal, but by then the massed warships of the Daamin were waiting -- a force that had held off all of the Gergathan's legions in the Gathered Worlds -- reinforced by the protective song of all the Scattered Worlds Hlutr. Arivaan, unable to summon help through the Curtain, was soon defeated.

The strains of rapport through the Stones killed Ashli Sicne that day; she did not survive passage to Nephestal. Tiochi Bruv and Mamlen Bruv entered the Council of Elders; but their bouts with the Stones had touched their reason and detached them from time, and ever after they lived in dreams beyond the Forever Dreams. And the Eldest Hlut, with the Stone of the Hlutr, settled on an unknown world, where it is said that She lives on to this day, living so slowly that the lives of red stars are as seasons to Her.

And the Daamin were faced with the problem of making a home of Nepehestal, and in the lonely, empty spaces of the Scattered Worlds.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The Idara

Idara (plural, Idara):

The word translates as “tribe,” “division,” or even “team.”

The Idara were originally a mix of geographical and adminsitrative divisions in the Nexus hierarchy. The names of the Idara were derived from the codenames of first-generation Nexus administrators (i.e LA.Verne → LaVerne, Ellen-n-Dan → Ellenndan → Elendan). By the second/third generations, Nexus members were usually sponsored by, or closely affiliated with, the existing Idara. (This affiliation, similar to adoption, was signified by adding the Idara name with the honorific “kwa” i.e. Tadj Kimmitt kwa Ellenndan.)

Originally, the individual Idara had georgraphical or administrative specialties, i.e. Schmidt in Finance, Chlad in international politics, or LaVerne in western Mexamerica. In time, these specialties faded as each Idara broadened its focus. By the late 2060s, as the Idara were becoming more aware of the need to broaden, promising cadets were sought after by particular Idara, and by the early 2100s there was even a system of recruitment and trading similar to present-day professional sports teams.

By the early 2100s, in most of Nexus space, the Idara functioned as de facto governments, usually under the Umoja model -- i.e. ordinary citizens would contract with a given Idara for services and such.

When the Terran Empire was founded in 2153, the Idara moved naturally into the role of the Nobility.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Song of the Last Iaranori

Space is wide
And long have I ridden
The paths of the Scattered Worlds
Have seen with pride
Sights long forbidden
The Golden Throne and more.

I have trod
The soil of Kree
And sacred Avethell
Felt the sod
Of Kao Li
And seen the stars from Dorasc.

But now I feel
Deep in my joints
A longing for my home
My ship's keel
Soon will point
To fair Ismallia.

I have found
No world as fair
As that which birthed my race
Homeward bound
Give up all care
So I long to be.

I am old
And I have fought
The fight to save our worlds
Have been bold
And e'er my thought
Dwells on Ismallia.

I soon will go
To that bless'd land
There to age and die
At last to know
The ocean's sand
And Ismall's azure sky.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Michael Jackson in a Science Fiction Novel?

1992: Miranda Maris and Rose Cetaire, founders of the Cetaire-Maris fashion empire, are approached by Latrisha Paige, agent for an unnamed performer who wants them to design some costumes for his next show:

Paige said, “I won’t keep you in suspense. My client is Washington Westwood Hohokus.”

A joke, Miranda thought. WWH, the self-proclaimed “King of Pop,” wasn’t merely a “star”… he was a music industry demigod. His Chiller had been the world’s best-selling album for ten years now. Paige might just as well have claimed that her client was the Archangel Gabriel, or Vishnu, or Mickey Mouse.

But Paige was still smiling, and Rose took it in stride, and slowly Miranda realized that it was not a joke; instead, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And nothing, nothing, could keep them from accepting the offer.


A month later, a spacious private jet flew Rose and Miranda to California, a limousine drove them from the airport to a secluded country estate, and Latrisha Paige escorted them to a study/drawing room and into the Presence.

Despite Miranda’s knowledge that he was her own age, she had expected WWH to be a child, a pretty teenybopper, androgynous and anorexic — instead, she found a mature young man, graceful and slender but with a dancer’s muscles moving beneath leotards and a white silk robe. He bowed over her hand, and Rose’s, kissing the air a centimeter above her skin. “I’m very pleased to meet both of you. Welcome to my home.” His voice was gentle, and carried with it the barest whisper of song, as if an unseen and almost-imperceptible phantom choir followed him around.

He nodded to Paige, who discreetly withdrew. “Please, make yourselves comfortable.”

2042: Miranda's grandson Damien brings his fiancee, Penylle, to visit his grandfather, WWH:

He eases the door open, and together they step into the heart of Oz.

The chamber is round and fully ten meters across. The domed ceiling is a stylized sky, with golden suns and cotton clouds. Dark figures stand in shadowed alcoves around the perimeter; a waist-high rail of polished mahogany forms a three-meter circle in the room’s center.

Damien leads the way to the railing; it encircles a pit which overlooks the room below. This chamber, about four meters below, looks like a hospital operating theater. White-coated medical personnel, oblivious to those above, tend an assortment of consoles and instruments. The focal point of all this attention, in the center of the room, is a translucent sarcophagus; inside it, a human figure is just barely discernible.

“Damien!” The voice comes from behind them; Damien and Penylle turn to see a figure step out of its alcove. It is WWH, but WWH from the past: a slender, androgynous youngster, wearing the archaic red zippered jacket from his Tough videos. “It’s so good to see you.”

One by one around the room, the other alcoves brighten and their occupants step forth: a baker’s dozen of WWH’s, ranging in age from the ten-year-old star of the H5 to the wizened, stooped master entertainer who had given Oz to the world.

Penylle looks from one to the other in bewilderment, then whispers, “Robots.”

A middle-aged WWH in a fairly conservative business suit takes her hand and bows over it. “Animatrons, we call them here, lovely lady. Damien, will you introduce us?”

Read more in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers

copyright (c) 2002, Don Sakers

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