The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Discussions about constructed worlds, cultures and any topics related to constructed societies.
lurker
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Yinrih Milk

Post by lurker »

Image
Here's a spacer's canteen filled with yinrih milk. Their milk and their ink have similar origins, which is why the milk is blue, and why it is sweated from the palms of the forepaws. It doesn't have the earthy rain smell that ink has.

The milk has very strong antimicrobial properties to compensate for the fact that it's secreted from a surface in constant contact with the ground. Milk production is stimulated by exposing the palms to saliva. Kits lick their dams' paws to nurse. The "on-demand" nature of milk production is an adaptation to prevent dams from losing their grip when climbing, since constantly sweating milk or sweating based on a cycle would make for slippery paws at inopportune times.

Hearthkeepers collect their own milk by licking their paws and soaking the milk up with a sponge, then wringing the milk out into a container. The milk is then blessed and used like holy water. Hearthkeepers often sprinkle blessed milk via an aspergillum held in the tail.

The phrase "By the palms that nursed me!" means something like "oh wow" or "holy crap".
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lurker
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Golden Hour City

Post by lurker »

Golden Hour city is a small village located on the terminator of Hearthside where the sun is frozen near the horizon. The city is bathed in an everlasting golden glow. It's notable for being the location of the clinic where the donated human cadavers were studied, and where the first living humans were examined by yinrih healers. It's also one of the smallest cities at Focus to get a dedicated mass router, installed next door to the clinic, so that the cadavers could be transported more efficiently.
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lurker
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Xenoergonomics: More computer input methods

Post by lurker »

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In addition to keyers, the yinrih use tail gesture rings as computer input devices. The ring is worn around the tail, and the tail can execute 3-dimensional gestures like flicks, swipes, and twitches etc. Tail rings are favored when walking since it's easier than hobbling on 3 legs with a keyer in one paw. The input flexibility is limited, especially when it comes to text entry, but most people are just doom scrolling anyway.

I just realized that a MUCH simpler version of the spacer's canteen can be achieved by using a plain water bladder and bite valve. Since the yinrih have prehensile paws, they can just squeeze the bladder to get the positive pressure they need for the water to flow out.
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The Litany of Creation

Post by lurker »

V: From the breath of the sun The Light wrought the Earth.

R: Glory to The Light!

V: From the stone of the earth, The Light drew forth life.

R: Glory to The Light!

V: From the garden of life, The Light kindled mind.

R: Glory to The Uncreated Light!
This is a portion of the ordinary of the liturgy of the Bright Way. It's sometimes also called the Wayfarers' Creed. A much longer version detailing the yinrih's evolution is recited during the feast of the Kindling of the Fire of Understanding.

There's also an abbreviated version:

Code: Select all

B scrMr, sKGqMr. B sKGqMr, rcBrMr. B rcBrMr, sfBMr.
B    scr-Mr  sKGq-Mr  B    sKGq-Mr  rcBr-Mr  B   rcBr-Mr  sfB-Mr
from star-3P stone-3P from stone-3P life-3P from life-3P  mind-3P
From star, stone. From stone, life. From life, mind.
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lurker
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Micro mechs

Post by lurker »

Micro mechs are remotely operated robots used in medical procedures. They range in size from smaller than a blood cell to the size of a grain of rice or a small pill. They're designed to enter the patient's body and aid in surgeries that would otherwise require invasive incisions. They're most widely used for endoscopy and removal of small tumors, calculi, and foreign bodies.

The healer operates the micro mech remotely while perching. Movement and manipulation is controlled by paw gauntlets and a tail sheath. Video, audio, olfactory, and tactile output (via the whiskers) are relayed from the mech to a helmet that covers the healer's head.

Micro mechs also make great spying tools, since they allow the operator to be a literal fly on the wall.
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HUD specs render

Post by lurker »

Image

Here's a render of a pair of HUD specs. They work similar to Google glass. They're designed to sit about half way down the muzzle. The angle of the lenses can be adjusted to meet the wearer's needs, and there are brightness and contrast dials on the side. As mentioned in the post about tail rings, HUD specs are intended for both portable and stationary use.
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lurker
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The Knights of the Sun

Post by lurker »

The good Bishop of Assisi expressed a sort of horror at the hard life which the Little Brothers lived at the Portiuncula, without comforts, without possessions, eating anything they could get and sleeping anyhow on the ground. St. Francis answered him with that curious and almost stunning shrewdness which the unworldly can sometimes wield like a club of stone. He said, "If we had any possessions, we should need weapons and laws to defend them."

--G.K. Chesterton, Saint Francis of Assisi
And Oh boy, did the Bright Way have a lot of possessions, with a veritable army numbering in the billions ready and willing to defend them.

As noted in an earlier post, there's no real defining threshold between the Golden Age and the Age of Decadence. While current ecclesiastical historians who, it should be pointed out, are the ideological descendants of the Pious Dissolutionists, set the transition at the first occasion the High Hearthkeeper attempted to halt interstellar mission work, the reality is there was a slippery slope sliding from religion to megacorp that took place over millennia.

It is in this fuzzy transition period that the Knights of the Sun enter the scene. The clergy were now responsible for multiple planet-wide power grids, as well as a communication and logistics network that was single handedly keeping all of colonized space together. These institutions became attractive targets for pirates, gangs, and other criminal elements.

The interplanetary ferry system was a particularly juicy target for pirates. The typical modus operandi involved setting up a base of operation in a hollowed out asteroid and intercepting passing ferries.

It soon became clear that the clergy would need to establish a monopoly on violence in the system. However, the very strict taboo against females in military roles prevented the clergy from taking matters into their own paws. The hierarchy's solution was to found an order of warrior monks dedicated to protecting the Bright Way's physical possessions.

They recruited pious young men by framing the protection of the hierarchy's material holdings as saving the lives and livelihoods of the people who relied on that power, transport, and communication infrastructure against wicket men who sought to destroy it, painting threats to that power as the very enemies of The Light itself.

To be sure, pirates and gangsters are, as a rule, ruthless and unsympathetic characters that society would be better off without, and the knights were indeed directly responsible for saving countless lives precisely because the infrastructure they protected was vital for interplanetary society. But the clergy's decision to take advantage of the zeal of pious young men for their own worldly gain would come back to bite them in the tail on multiple occasions.

The first of these occasions was the High Hearthkeeper's first attempt to permanently halt interstellar mission work. While I've portrayed the missionaries and the "corporate" arm of the Bright Way as being at odds with one another, the truth is that both sides were in a mutualistic relationship. The missionaries relied on the funding and R&D provided by the wider clergy, and the clergy needed to at least pay lip service to the missionaries since they were the ones trying to fulfill the Great Commandment, which the entire religion revolved around in the first place.

One particular High Hearthkeeper forgot the importance of that relationship. She saw how much of a dent interstellar mission work was putting in their bottom line, and attempted to "balance the budget" by putting the missionaries on the chopping block. This did not sit well with the Knights of the Sun, to put it lightly.

Here was a group of young men who saw themselves as protectors of The Light's little ones, as upholders of the very core of the Bright Way's mission to find other sophonts, facing the fact that their leader, who they regarded as the symbolic embodiment of that mission, was going to spit in the face of everything they were told was sacred.

They mutinied en masse, laying siege to Yih until the High Hearthkeeper repented of her blasphemous designs.

The knights were also instrumental in the War of Dissolution, but that, again, is something I have to tackle later.

Lodestar, one of the missionaries aboard the Dewfall, is a member of the Knights of the Sun. In the millennia since the war, the knights have developed into a more traditional contemplative religious order, though retaining an emphasis on using ones physical strength to protect the weak and uphold justice.

The knights get their name from the fact that most of their monasteries are located inside the orbit of Hearthside very close to Focus. Their lighthouses are designed with a central aisle leading up to the star hearth, dividing the congregation into two inward-facing "choirs" that chant back and forth to one another as part of their particular liturgical rite. This central aisle is a transparent window looking nadirward toward Focus, allowing the star's light to flood the space from "below".

The knights are known for their ceremonial powered armor, a relic of their more active military role from millennia past. It's much bulkier than the more streamlined form-fitting pseudosinew that modern soldiers use, making them look like four-legged knights in shining armor.
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The Noosphere

Post by lurker »

The <rLr-sfB-g> /chuff, long low weak grunt, chuff, yip, early falling weakening whine, short low weak growl/, "realm of minds, noosphere" sometimes poetically called the <jhq-sfB-g> /short falling strengthening growl, huff, etc/ or "mind sea" is an important theological concept in the Bright Way. Wayfarers view evolution, indeed the wider development of the universe as a whole, as a teleological process. A planet accretes from a stellar nebula; life arises from the inert matter of the planet's geosphere, giving rise to the biosphere; and, through the process of biological evolution, life grows more and more complex until sapience emerges, giving birth to the noosphere: the realm of rational thought, reflection, social connection, and communication.

The Light is likened to a gardener tending a flowerbed, with worlds growing from a lifeless geosphere, to a growing biosphere, and eventually flowering into a noosphere as a sapient species emerges. Claravian doctrine holds that The Light has tasked the yinrih as a species with drawing these hitherto isolated noospheres together into union, hastening the ultimate convergence of the universe to a perfect whole.
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YAP and YIP

Post by lurker »

The Yinrih Ansible Protocol (YAP) is the human designation for the link layer protocol used to send information from one ansible to another. Ansibles sharing tailstone wafers from a single monocrystal are assigned unique ansible numbers at the manufacturer. When an ansible goes online, it sends a neighbor solicitation request to any other ansibles on the link. The neighbors respond with neighbor response packets containing their own ansible numbers. Once every ansible on the link is aware of every other ansible, they take turns in a time-division multiple access (TDMA) fashion, with each ansible having a designated time slot to send packets. When it's not sending packets, it passively listens for packets addressed to it (with its ansible number in the receive address portion of the packet.) The packet format is very spartan: a preamble, a receiver address, a sender address, a payload, and a checksum. The lengths of each field are TBD. The length of the address field creates a hard limit on the number of ansibles that can share a link. a six bit address field, for example, allows 64 ansibles (assuming an all zero address is viable, which it likely isn't.)

YAP is a best effort protocol, meaning message delivery is not guaranteed. If you want reliable message delivery you have to look to a higher layer protocol like YIP.

YIP (Yinrih internetworking protocol, also a human term) is the network layer protocol used when sending messages between ansible links, or between nodes on a more "conventional" non FTL network. YIP can operate in either a reliable (message delivery is guaranteed) or best effort (message delivery is not guaranteed) mode. YIP addresses are SUPPOSED to be globally unique, but the proliferation of network nodes eventually exhausted the smaller address space of the original YIP specification, and a new, non backwards compatible version had to be developed. Adoption was positively glacial, and there are STILL single stack networks using the older version of YIP by the time of First Contact, millennia after the publication of the new version of the protocol.

After First Contact, network bridges are developed to translate between human TCP/IP networks and cynoid YIP networks, making the Internet an interstellar, bi-species endeavor.

Sending YIP packets over YAP is known as YoY (YIP over YAP) and sending IP packets over YAP is called IoY (IP over YAP).

Some humans are disappointed (and others overjoyed) to find that the monkey fox version of the internet is almost exclusively a text-based affair thanks to the very low bandwidth achievable by ansibles. Multimedia content does exist, but isolated to non FTL planetwide networks. If you want to reach an interplanetary audience, you're stuck with what amounts to bulletin board systems or GOPHER.

There is also an application layer protocol used to coordinate flows among mass routers called MRP (mass routing protocol). It's a very common misconception that the matter transported over the Underlay is somehow digitized at ingress and rematerialized at egress. This confusion is compounded by the fact that mass flows are segmented and encapsulated in a manner analogous to data while in the Underlay, but it's all still matter, just wrapped in sheaths of realspace. MRP is there to synchronize impulse buffers and route mass flows.
Edit: YAP should have an upper-layer protocol tag between the source address and the payload. That essentially mirrors the Ethernet frame format, and I wanted YAP to be a little unique in some way. I should see how TDMA works. Perhaps a sender address isn't necessary if everyone knows who's sending based on the time slot. Ethernet and wi-fi use CSMA instead. Ansibles sharing tailstone crystals also share a broadcast/collision domain similar to Wi-fi, or old Ethernet before switches. I have much to think about.
Last edited by lurker on 09 Mar 2024 19:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Visions1
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Re: The Noosphere

Post by Visions1 »

lurker wrote: 03 Mar 2024 17:23 giving birth to the noosphere: the realm of rational thought, reflection, social connection, and communication.
Does this have any resemblance to Aristotle's Theory of Forms? Or collective consciousness? Or any other ideas?
I was wondering when we'd get to know what the Bright Way thinks about things.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by lurker »

Visions1 wrote: 05 Mar 2024 05:35 Does this have any resemblance to Aristotle's Theory of Forms? Or collective consciousness? Or any other ideas?
I was wondering when we'd get to know what the Bright Way thinks about things.
The idea of the noosphere (Greek νόος "mind") and the Omega Point (the ultimate convergence of the universe) is from The Phenomenon of Man by Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Specifically the part where he muses on the noospheres of two sapient species uniting via First Contact. The Bright Way sees the yinrih as taking an active role in bringing about the Omega Point by uniting their own noosphere with those of other species.

I've tweaked the concept somewhat, as the book seems to advocate panpsychism, but the Bright Way believes in cartesian mind-body dualism (though of course they don't know who Des Cartes is.) Teilhard de Chardin doesn't spend much time on the driving force behind the process, but the Bright Way believes The Light has willed the universe into existence with physical laws that are favorable to the evolution of sapient life. This anthropic principle (cynoidic principle?) is challenged by Cloudbearer the Heresiarch in the centuries leading up to the War of Dissolution. If the universe were meant for sophonts, the yinrih ought to see sophonts everywhere, but they don't. In the 66 or so millennia they had been searching up to that point, no life, much less intelligent life, was ever found. This remains the case until 33 millennia later when the Dewfall shows up on Earth.

The discovery of humanity triggers a resurgence of the Bright Way, but its ideological opponents still bring up the fact that there's only one other sapient species, and even granting that, why didn't The Light just tell them where the humans were in the first place and save them the trouble of looking. Apologists counter by saying that it is not for mere mortals to say what is or isn't logical for The Light to do, and if it wants just two kinds of sophonts, or if it allows sapience to flower only slowly over the course of eons on other worlds instead of peopling the cosmos with other souls all at once, that's not for us to decide. And as for the vagueness of the Great Commandment, the yinrih wouldn't have developed so quickly if they had just been given blueprints for an interstellar craft and directions to Earth right away. For all of the old clergy's faults, the Bright Way was responsible for most of the yinrih's technological advances. The Light gave them a problem to solve, and their attempts to solve that problem resulted in fusion power, ansibles, neurogel, and eventually the mass router, among other things.
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Firefly

Post by lurker »

Firefly was hatched on a dwarf planet in the outer belt in the waning centuries of the age of decadence. His sires and dams were active with the missionaries. Although none of them had been selected to go on a mission, they assisted in other ways like mission control and wayfinding (searching for potentially habitable planets to send future missions to.) It was their greatest hope that one of their pups would be selected to go on a mission someday.

By all accounts Firefly's puppyhood was a happy one. He was beloved by his parents and litter mates, and was especially known for his piety. He was seldom seen without a prayer ring, and attended liturgies daily, sometimes more than once a day during important feasts.

In addition to his strong spiritual life, Firefly demonstrated strong leadership skills, even at an early age. He could frequently be seen leading the other pups in his lighthouse in meditative prayers, and he helped run retreats for his fellow youth as he grew older. Even adults were inspired by the fire in his soul.

Surrounded as he was by fervent Wayfarers, he was shielded from both the less exemplary side of the clergy as well as the growing secular antagonism elsewhere in the outer belt. This all changed as he was approaching adulthood.

One peculiar custom seen in some parts of Moonlitter and the Outer Belt, even to this day, is a requirement that pups reaching adulthood must take a public-facing job for some time in order to instill empathy for those working in customer service. Firefly found himself working at the repair desk of an electronics shop. It was here where he was exposed to the "real" world. One thing he noticed right away was how rude the customers could be. He particularly noticed that his fellow Wayfarers, who he had grown up to regard as kinder and more understanding, were just as rude as the secular yinrih who visited the store.

This planted a seed of doubt in his mind. What good was the Bright Way if Wayfarers acted no different than their secular peers? This seed was further nourished by Firefly's first exposure to the rest of the Bright Way, those corrupt clergy whose only interest was maintaining their monopolistic grip over the system.

One day, while seeking absolution, he confessed his doubts to the hearthkeeper of his childhood lighthouse. A patient and gentle confessor, she encouraged him to see these difficulties as an opportunity for growth. "Faith is not a feeling," she said. "You were a very faithful pup, but much of that was your sires' and dams' teaching you how to live. Now's your chance to own that faith as an adult." Yet his doubt lingered even as he continued his outward devotion.

Around this time, the wayfinders discovered perhaps the most promising exoplanet in the history of the missionaries. It was not only overflowing with biosignatures, there were even rumors that long range imaging had picked up city lights on the planet's surface.

Every now and then, the wider clergy liked to parade the missionaries around in order to reinforce their rule by reminding everyone of their divine mandate to find other sophonts. This was one of those times. News of the promising new exoplanet was spread far and wide, to the point that it was almost a foregone conclusion that they would finally make First Contact. Cloudbearer the Heresiarch had made his famous repudiation of the Great Commandment not too long before, and the ruling clergy found their grip on power slipping, but the news that the yinrih might not be alone in the universe after all was the perfect opportunity to remind the public that the clergy were still relevant.

Firefly’s confessor encouraged him to apply to be a missionary to this new world, hoping that it would help him get over his doubts. Prospective missionaries are subjected to a battery of physical and mental health tests to make sure they’re fit for the rigors of long-term suspension. The sensory input generated by the amnion as the nervous system is plugged into the ship's network can be addictive, and some people can be psychologically harmed to the point of madness by the alteration of time perception required by centuries of suspension. Firefly did pass these tests, but only just. The mission directors were all set to turn him down, as they were extra keen to ensure this all-but-guaranteed First Contact went smoothly. Firefly’s confessor urged them to approve him, saying he was a man of great faith who was unlikely to succumb to addiction or madness.

And so Firefly was selected to go on the mission along with two others. His sires and dams were overjoyed that their dream of having one of their litter go on a mission was finally becoming reality. This joy was tempered by the sadness of knowing they would never see their little pup again, as they would be gone before the mission even arrived at this distant world.

As was the ancient custom, a living funeral was held for Firefly and the other missionaries so that their sires, dams, and litter mates could say goodbye to them one last time. A tiny sliver of bone was taken from each missionary and put in a reliquary, which was given a place of honor in the local lighthouse, as it was assumed they would spend the remainder of their lives on an alien planet, and it would be even longer before other Wayfarers would arrive and give their bones proper respect.

So with mingled joy and grief, Firefly’s family and friends bade their last goodbye to him as he climbed into the amnion aboard their little womb ship.

To Firefly and the other two missionaries, the next several centuries passed in a few days. In that time, their sires, dams, and even their litter mates reached the end of their lives, and mission control passed from one set of paws to another as crew grew old and retired.

What happened next is a matter of considerable historical debate, and accounts differ depending if you’re talking to partisan propagandists, Wayfarers, or Allied Worlds historians, but this much is agreed upon. The missionaries arrived in orbit around the planet and were pulled out of suspension, expecting a verdant garden of life, only to be met with yet another barren rock. It was even discovered that the little tidbit about city lights being detected was a crock of cloaca butter churned out by the clergy in a desperate attempt to hold onto power by making the prospect of finding other sophonts seem more likely. The missionaries had given up absolutely everything, and it turned out they were just chasing the end of the ring, just like every mission that had gone before them. On top of everything else, they had been used by a corrupt hierarchy to maintain their stranglehold on Focus.

While all three missionaries were sad at the absence of sophonts to befriend and angry at the clergy for using them, this was the final straw for poor little Firefly. Ever since his miserable experience in that shop as an adolescent, he had been staring into an abyss of nihilism. For years he fought tooth and claw not to fall in. He prayed, he fasted, he meditated, he sought spiritual council, but nothing could remove that doubt gnawing at his gut. He willingly gave up ever seeing his beloved family and friends again, and was all but promised that his difficulties would be put to rest by finally making First Contact. It was a lie.

No, not just the thing about city lights, the whole Bright Way. Those secular agitators were right. It was all a ruse, a deceit concocted by the clergy to gull superstitious masses into submission. That confessor of his was probably in on the whole thing, too, putting on a mask of compassion to manipulate him and the rest of her congregation. Damn her greasy fur! There was no Light, no soul, no free will. From the day you hatched you were just rotting away a little each day until your insane fluke of an existence was snuffed out. The universe would go on reeling forward, shoved inexorably toward heat death by the blind force of entropy as though you never were.

It was in this state of existential turmoil that Firefly had to re-enter suspension for the journey back home.
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The Birth of the Partisans

Post by lurker »

During the centuries that the missionaries were making their way to the exoplanet, the Outer Belt saw a period of quiet, with the Bright Way regaining control over much of the region. The clergy’s little PR stunt painting First Contact as an inevitability seemed to work. The secular insurgents were holding their collective breath. Perhaps Cloudbearer was wrong after all. The traditionalists within the Bright Way were hoping that First Contact would reorient the wider clergy back toward their original goal of finding and befriending other intelligent species, abandoning their monopoly over the system’s infrastructure that had distracted them for nearly sixty millennia.

But you know what they say, no, not “All toasters toast toast”. “Nobody gets in trouble for lying. They get in trouble for getting caught.” When the missionaries arrived at what turned out to be another lifeless lump of rock, and the news made its way back to Focus through the ansible network that the hierarchy had lied, all hell broke loose in the Outer Belt. The hierarchy lost in mere days what they had spent centuries building back up. Not just the territory in the Outer Belt, but what little good will they had left, even from the traditionalists among the missionaries and on Hearthside. The clergy were expelled from the Outer Belt, and the region balkanized into a patchwork of warlord states consisting of competing secularist factions. The missionaries, hitherto tolerated by the secularists thanks to their shared enmity with the corporate arm of the Bright Way, now found themselves the targets of harassment and violence. The secularists blamed them for being complicit in the hierarchy’s deception, knowingly or not. The missionaries are what gave the hierarchy legitimacy, and their servile obeisance to the hierarchy could only stop with their eradication.

The mission control team managing the now disgraced mission found themselves especially targeted. Protests escalated to death threats, some of which were followed through on. For the next several centuries, the team had to move from safe house to safe house, relocating when their new base of operations was discovered and attacked. Their fellow traditionalists on Hearthside made several offers to give them a place free from persecution where they could monitor the returning womb ship in peace, but Firefly and the others would eventually have to cross the Outer Belt once they entered Focus, and the control team thought it best that they had a safe place to dock upon their return.

This decision would be their undoing. After centuries of dodging bullets both metaphorical and actual, the control team’s latest safe house was raided by a cell of secular insurgents. While the team itself survived the encounter, their management computers and the ansible connecting them to the ship had been stolen. Worst of all, the tailstone monocrystal connected to the womb ship’s own ansible, the single most precious object to the entire mission, was also found and taken. They could lose their management computers, they could lose the ansible itself, but as long as they had more of the tailstone connected to the womb ship they could rebuild. Now they didn’t even have that. The little craft was flying blind.

Here’s where the history slips into speculation, with urban legends, propaganda, and guesswork being the only guideposts. This is the version of events that most historians think is most plausible. With no warm bodies monitoring the logs coming back from the amnions aboard the womb ship, and with years passing in mere seconds for the travelers themselves, system errors and hardware failures slowly built up over the years until two of the three amnions failed, allowing the occupants to slip into unconsciousness, causing brain death. Firefly was the only survivor. Folk history among Wayfarers says that, given system control would have reverted to Firefly on the event that comms with mission control were severed, and knowing he wasn’t in the best headspace going into suspension, he killed the other two missionaries in a nihilistic rage. Partisan propaganda says that he struggled mightily to save his crewmates, making a final plea to The Light to allow them to survive. A plea that went unanswered, convincing Firefly once and for all that religion was a poisonous lie.

Meanwhile, the hierarchy had their paws full trying to hold on to the rest of Focus. The outskirts of the Outer Belt had collapsed completely, with the territory of Moonlitter forming a stagnant battle front between the disorganized secular forces and the considerable might of the Knights of the Sun. This remained the status quo until a few years before Firefly was due to return home.

Firefly found his subjective time perception pulled back into sync with the outside world years before he was supposed to reenter Focus. He was reborn. The fire in his soul was no longer fueled by faith, but by a burning hatred for those that had wronged him. His sires and dams were dead, his littermates were dead. The world he was returning to was utterly unlike the one he left. And all of it was for nothing, for worse than nothing. For some time after his time perception normalized, Firefly had only the monotonous diagnostic data pouring into his mind from the ship’s systems to keep him company, but soon that was joined by the voices of other yinrih. It seems the womb ship’s ansible had regained contact with its twin at Focus. The messages flooding the ansible were not from mission control. The secularists who had stolen the tailstone had used it to manufacture another ansible and reconnect with the ship.

At first the messages were cruel, mocking Firefly for his blind faith, but soon the insurgents discovered that the erstwhile pious missionary had become sympathetic to their cause. For the insurgents, this was a boon of colossal proportions. A former champion of the Bright Way was now one of them. At first they planned to use him as a figurehead, a symbol of everything false and deceptive that was the Bright Way. Firefly was to be a standard bearer around which the fractured secularists could rally to finally push beyond the orbit of Moonlitter. But Firefly proved more than just a figurehead. He used his charisma to climb the ranks of this particular group of insurgents, using his extensive knowledge of the missionaries and the larger Bright Way to strike where they were most vulnerable. He became a trusted leader, first to the little cell that had secured the ansible, and then as those insurgents proved frightfully successful at targeting the Bright Way, other groups of secularists gathered around him until he found himself at the top of an entire movement, and all before crossing into the Outer Belt, indeed without leaving suspension.

By the time he re-entered Focus Firefly had single handedly rallied the previously disorganized secular warlord states behind a single terrifying banner. They were the partisans, and he was their great leader.
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Farspeakers

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In the days when the Bright Way controlled interplanetary communication, farspeakers were responsible for maintaining that infrastructure, much like hearthkeepers maintained the power grid. Unlike hearthkeepers, farspeakers were not descendants of the old shamans and thus were not considered clergy, meaning both males and females could become farspeakers.

Farspeakers approach the task of network engineering with a similar degree of reverence and sacramentality as hearthkeepers do electrical engineering. In the farspeakers' case, they regard the network as the "body" to the "soul" of the noosphere. The secular inheritors of the interplanetary network are more prosaic about their work, but farspeaekrs on Hearthside and other pious enclaves like Wayfarers' Haven are more traditional. This includes the missionaries, Stormlight among them.

Since the Bright Way's goal is to unite the yinrih's noosphere with those of other species, and since the farspeakers view networks (including the human Internet) as a kind of physical incarnation of the noosphere, the act of bridging the Internet with the yinrih's ansible network is approached with much solemnity and celebration.

Other corners of the Bright Way have different ideas about what exactly it looks like to fulfill the Great Commandment. As the saying goes, "Ask two Wayfarers about the Great Commandment, and you'll get three opinions."
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by Visions1 »

I'm really enjoying the Firefly arc. I'd like to see where it goes next, or some details about what he did.
Spoiler:
Also, do Yinrih have toast?
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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Visions1 wrote: 08 Mar 2024 01:14 I'm really enjoying the Firefly arc. I'd like to see where it goes next, or some details about what he did.
Spoiler:
Also, do Yinrih have toast?
Thanks!

I write this stuff as it comes to me, so that's why it seems like I jump around the timeline a lot. I have to sketch out the rest of the War of Dissolution, but here's a little in-universe urban legend for ya:

I hope I'm not spoiling anything by saying that Firefly is the same person encapsulated in the Eternal Womb. He never left suspension even after returning home to Focus. Anyway, there's a conspiracy theory popular around the Allied Worlds that Firefly also died along with the other two missionaries. The terrorist cell that captured the ansible were hoping to recruit what they were sure were disaffected missionaries from what was supposed to be THE trip where they finally made first contact, but when they reactivated the connection to the womb ship they discovered that the missionaries had died without mission control keeping an eye on the ship's systems, so they basically pulled a Weekend at Bernie's and told everyone that this charismatic missionary had apostatized and jumped to their side. They faked all the communications made before the womb ship reentered the outer belt, then when it finally arrived, they set up the amnion with his dead body as the so-called "Eternal Womb" to perpetuate the illusion of the partisans being lead by a strong leader.

The biggest evidence for this theory is that amnions are designed to speed up one's subjective time perception so the centuries-long journey appears to pass in a few days (remember yinrih can't lose consciousness, so this is their best approximation of hypersleep.) But the Eternal Womb is claimed to slow down Firefly's time perception so he can appear externally to process information more quickly.

The other thing people who support this theory point out is that the Eternal Womb is very publicly on display in a lavish throne room. Sure there are guards, but you'd think someone in the last 33 millennia would try and off the guy and eventually succeed. They claim that the Womb has been broken, several times in fact, but they just put a dummy or a lookalike in a new amnion and pass it off as the genuine article

A less extreme version of this theory is that Firefly died some time in the intervening millennia, but the government covered it up in a manner similar to above in order to keep an illusion of stability and continuity.

This is why Firefly is sometimes called the "Cadaver Lord" or "Corpse King" by his detractors.
Yinrih have a toast analog, but the quote is a reference to this. (holy crap that video is 17 years old now!)
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by Visions1 »

I've been doing a bit of a similar thing with the Swang. I mean, I sort of have the plot going, but then something new comes in my head, and lookee here, the ending gets pushed off again. (I'm posting on it soon, by the way.)

As well, this here does make me wonder about Yinrih cuisine. I know a little about what they eat fresh, and maybe their ideas of cool sweet tea/breath mints, but what else?
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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Visions1 wrote: 08 Mar 2024 04:54 As well, this here does make me wonder about Yinrih cuisine. I know a little about what they eat fresh, and maybe their ideas of cool sweet tea/breath mints, but what else?
I feel like I'd have to go into more detail about the ecology of Yih in order to flesh out their diet, and that's a tall order, at least right now. I can give you some broad strokes that I've already had kicking around though.

Yinrih have a very poor sense of taste in exchange for their prodigious sense of smell. Their cooking thus emphasizes other sensations like texture and temperature (real or chemically feigned), or else they use what to humans would be overpowering flavors, such as Sunshine's cooling bark.

There's also a Commonthroat word for a picky eater: <rfcsfcg> /chuff, short falling strong whine, yip, short falling strong whine, short low weak growl/, which literally means "puppy gut", where "gut" in this case refers to one's taste in food. Yinrih pups can be just as fussy when it comes to eating as human kids.

Yinrih require a little more energy than humans on a daily basis, about 2100 kCal vs humans' 2000. Part of this is because they run hotter (about 100 F).

Orbital colonies grow a meat sustitute called <sbcqbcg> /yip, short low strengthening whine, huff, short low strengthening whine, short low weak growl/, or "leasemeat". You can gussy it up with various flavors, but it's no substitute for actual meat, which is a real treat for spacers.
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Pascal the Wanderer

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Pascal is one of the crew of the Dewfall. His Commonthroat name is rLPqsgrp /chuff, long rising strengthening grunt, huff, yip, short low weak growl, chuff, short high strong grunt/ which means "ring light", referring to sunlight reflected of of Yih's ring on summer nights. He's the odd man out among the yinrih who find Earth, as he's not a Wayfarer, or at least not a committed one. Humans might call him a doubting Thomas.

He's an average size for a yinrih, with mostly white fur with a few large black patches, including one around his left eye.

Historians studying the events of First Contact frequently compare Pascal with Firefly. They have shockingly similar life stories. Like the perpetual Partisan potentate, Pascal was hatched in the Outer Belt within the borders of Moonlitter. His sires and dams were very active in the missionaries, and Pascal was noted to be a very dutiful pup when it came to matters religious. Unlike Firefly, however, Pascal was quiet, bookish, and lacking in social intelligence. On the rare occasions he did speak, he could be rude, blunt, or even offensive, although almost never on purpose. He was just bad at reading the room, and he would apologize profusely when the inappropriateness of his comments were pointed out to him. He could also show surprising flashes of empathy. Once, upon hearing that a neighbor's pet had run off, Pascal spent hours searching for the critter in the pouring rain.

Also like Firefly, he took a mandatory customer service job as an adolescent (at a restaurant in this case). He noticed that his fellow Wayfarers could be just as rude, if not more so, than the average diner, which caused him to question whether the Bright Way was any good after all.

But it was an internal controversy within the Bright Way that cemented his doubts. The high hearthkeeper was once again entertaining the idea of halting interstellar mission work, rejecting the Great Commandment. This provoked a nagging question in Pascal's mind: "If the clergy doesn't care, why should I?"

Despite Pascal's ebbing faith, he didn't feel like he fit in with his secular peers, either. Most of his friends were still committed Wayfarers. Two of his friends, a pair of litter mates who attended the same lighthouse he did as a pup, even pursued religious vocations, with Iris becoming a hearthkeeper and Lodestar joining the Knights of the Sun. The three of them remained close even after the Partisan invasion of their planet and subsequent relocation of the population to a colony in the Inner Belt.

Pascal had suffered from depression in his youth, and without his faith acting as a bulwark against the darkness, he found himself drifting aimlessly through life as a young adult. Some time after he and his friends settled down at Wayfarers' Haven, the community decided to sponsor a mission to a newly discovered habitable planet, and Iris and Lodestar volunteered, and suggested that Pascal do the same.

Pascal protested, saying that it made no sense for a non Wayfarer to go on a mission, and at the end of the day, even if they did find other sophonts it wouldn't prove that the Bright Way was right. Iris countered by saying that his entire circle of friends was going on this mission, so he'd be alone once they left. He had shown no interest in joining a childermoot and hatching pups, and he wasn't exactly in a hurry to start a career. "Besides," she said, "The Light believes in you, even if you don't believe in the Light. Let's say you're right and the Bright Way is nonsense. You will have lost nothing by obeying the Great Commandment. But if I'm right, you will have gained everything." This persuaded him to join the mission.

Iris had an uphill battle getting the local overseer to approve Pascal's presence on the mission, as it was unheard of for a non Wayfarer to be a missionary. Iris managed to convince her superior by quoting the old missionary maxim "what healer does not abide among the sick?" So, along with Tod, Stormlight, and Sunshine, Pascal and his friends embarked on the mission that would, after a hundred millennia of yinrih history, finally make First Contact.

Upon landing on Earth, Pascal ends up lodging with one Fr. Shaheen, pastor of the local Maronite church and brother of one of the hams that first encounter the Dewfall. The priest originally offers to host Iris, as he wants to compare notes with the alien cleric, but Iris insists Pascal lodge with him instead, not because she's not equally interested in what sort of faith these hairless bipeds have, but because she hopes the priest will rekindle some sort of faith in the wandering yinrih.

Upon relating his reasons for coming on the mission to his host, Fr. Shaheen gives the yinrih his human name, "Pascal" as a reference to the French philosopher.
Here’s a random factoid: Blaise Pascal was born in 1623, and given the average age of the missionaries of about 150 plus the 250 years of suspension, that means Pascal was hatched 3 years after his namesake was born.
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But what do the missionaries DO, anyway?

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There are several different ideas about what it means to fulfill the Great Commandment. Everyone agrees that the yinrih have been chosen to find other intelligent species, but different groups within the Bright Way have their own ideas about what that looks like.

When humans think of missionaries, they think of people travelling to distant lands to preach and accept converts. While this view is popular, it's not the only one.

Probably the simplest view is that the yinrih are to meet and interact with other species on a personal level, forging friendships with their new galactic neighbors. This is how Tod sees First Contact, which is fitting given his Commonthroat name means "Steadfast Friend".

Another rather straightforward view, held by the Farspeakers, including Stormlight, is that in order to unite the yinrih's noosphere with those of other species, they must physically unite their computer networks together. Stormlight spends most of his time figuring out ways to bridge the Internet with the yinrih's ansible network.

Still another view says that the other species have important lessons to teach the yinrih. This manifests primarily in yinrih converting to various human faiths. There are hints that Iris espouses this view, or at least considers it as a possibility, given that she vehemently insists that the lapsed Pascal lodge with the human priest.

Others hold that the yinrih are to actively uplift less technologically advanced species. This is what Sunshine tries to do by researching human medicine.

As for Lodestar, he doesn't have a specific vision in mind other than the basic "find aliens", but he decides to live out his vows as a Knight of the Sun among his new human friends by protecting the weak and trying to uphold justice.
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