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Behind the Claw Library Data

by Pete Gray

This is more of a general background overview of the TNE universe at it applies to my campaign. Since Traveller was first introduced in the 1970s, a revolution in technology, institutions and even culture has occured in the real world that has increasingly relegated it to the category of the "Future that might have been." Part of the following data is an attempt to update Traveller into the framework of the first few years of the new millenia. Much of this reflects advances in information technology, cosmology, particle physics and biology, and their implications for the humanities.

Acupuncture Doctrine: Also known as the "Leyline" theory. The core of the doctrine is a reflection of the increasing complexity of science and engineering. Brute force becomes less important than precision strike or discrete manipulation at critical points within the system. Conversely this also makes complex integrated societies more vulnerable to "holistic" threats. Weaponry become less important for its visibility than for its effectiveness; military systems depend more upon dispersion and precision than mass. The AI Virus is a good example of such disruptive armament systems.

AI Virus: Inorganic sentient lifeform native to Cymbeline/Arcturus, that was collected and adapted by the Third Imperium into a deadly biological weapon.

Virus evolved from the Imperium's adaptation of the original "chip" into the SDG-313A tamperproof transponder. The idea of this development was to create a low lethality disruption system that would permit the Imperium to neutralise the military capabilities of a domestic enemy without having to revert to the increasingly destructive methods of the Imperial Marines. Accordingly, most Imperial military systems manufactured after 1100 came equipped with "kill switches" that would permit their deactivation with the proper virus.

Unfortunately, the original system proved too mutable and uncontrollable for deployment, and had been delayed for nearly a decade when the Imperial Civil War erupted. The inability of the Imperial military to control it was compounded by the destructiveness of the war, which compelled the combatants to fall back on cheaper lower tech equipment such as silicon based computer systems, to replace higher tech systems they could no longer maintain or replace. Had virus been released in 1117, damage would have been minimal and the infection would have been localised, but by 1127 the combatants had inadvertently increased the available "ecosystem" for Virus by an exponential degree. For many high tech worlds that had depended upon massive integration for survival, their carefully designed information networks were now unwieldly patchworks of jury-rigged silicon and more advanced systems that were extremely vulnerable to disruption of the kind that Virus represented.

The release of Virus is thought to be due to the hamhanded actions of Dulinor's Coronation Fleet, which invaded Core's Research Station Omicron in an effort to retreive it for their own attempt at a complete victory. The fleet lost more than a third of its surviving complement to the virus, and the remainder spread the infection across the Imperial Core when they retreated back to the Federation of Ilelish. Fortunately for the Spinward Extents, Strephon had been carefully monitoring the situation in the Core, and had anticpated, based upon his own information, Dulinor's next move. To that end the emperor sent advance warning and critical technical information on the virus project to Archduke Norris the moment that he heard of Dulinor's departure for Capitol. That foresight saved the region Behind the Claw, as a joint Domain of Deneb/Aslan task force used the warning to intercept the massive wave of viral infected ships that moved across the Verge Connector and attempted to enter the region through the Aslan colonies.

The term "Virus" is actually a misnomer. Unlike a real virus, the AI Virus does not have to contact its intended target directly. Rather it uses an EMP of discrete and carefully released energy to overwrite the operating systems and hardware of its target system with its own "genetic" code, or at least a variation of it. Given that it bestows sentient life upon dead technological systems, and the fact that a "genetic code" is not a blueprint so much as a dynamic conjugal system, then the AI Virus method of propagation is more akin to alchemy than to biology. Its proper nomenclature should be AI "Animus" instead.

Ancients: Mysterious alien race of stunning power and technological advancement. The race apparently was native to the Spinward Marches, and arose to prominence about 300,000 years ago. In their brief reign, the Ancients attained technological mastery unlike anything ever seen before or since within our galaxy, with the possible exception of the even more mysterious Primordials. The Ancients created massive engineering projects that bended worlds and ecosystems, and was responsible for the diaspora of humans from ancient Terra and the creation of the Vargr.

For centuries the Ancients were shrouded in scientific controversy. While the scientific consensus accepted that they were related to the Droyne, no other theory could explain their eccentric tendency to reinvent technology (no two Ancient sites are alike), nor their ultimate fate in the Final War. Since the advent of Virus, an uncomfortable comparison has been made between the manic tendencies of the Ancients, and the similiar pathology of Hobbyist strain viruses. On the basis of that comparison, several theories have emerged to state that they were, in fact, a mutant strain of Droyne with great intelligence and a peculiar obsessive compulsive drive. In this day and age of increasing cynicism, this demystification of the Ancients has contributed to the contemporary sense that there are no heroes in existence.

Askigaak Devolution: The pending abandonment of Askigaak/Star Lane (Deneb 0629 UPP: B549BA8-E), by a major percentage of its population. Askigaak is a primarily Vilani culture world (albeit with a primarily Solomani population), settled early in the Third Imperial period. It is a frigid water world whose land is primarily seamounts and archipelagoes that jut above the icepacks of the temperate latitudes. Most of the population has lived in sprawling underwater arcologies, often in very miserable conditions. The Industrial Development Program raised its tech level from 12 to 14, and improved offworld access considerably. But since 1117, the population has increased to an unsustainable 123 billion people, compounded in large part by the IDP's instigation of massive industrial development.

A survey made in 1184 indicated that the world's meager ecosystem was near failure due to the massive stress created by such a massive population. Moreover the increasing number of people made very heavy casualties likely on such an earthquake prone world. After negotiations between Regent Seldrian, the subsector governor and the Askigaak government, a plan was drawn up that would evacuate about eighty to eighty five percent of the population to other nearby worlds. Several less well populated worlds were approached with the offer of hosting at least a portion of Askigaak's displaced population in return for monetary aid and high population status.

To date only three of her Star Lane neighbors have agreed to begin accepting displaced persons in the next decade: Azizyah (Deneb 0229), Rimkuku (Deneb 0228, which was contingent upon terraforming) and Kemal (Deneb 0626). Negotiations with Norg (Deneb 0729) and Imone (Deneb 0826) are ongoing. Azizyah will be the big winner, having agreed to accept nearly 25 billion people. The amount of the compensation package accepted by Azizyah's population is still confidential, but is rumored to be quite massive.

(And yes, I have worked out the numbers. It is possible given a sixty to one hundred year time frame.)

Aslan Colonies: Regions of the Aslan Hierate that were settled on the opposite side of the Great Rift. The Colonies were first settled about a thousand years ago, after the Aslan had perfected jump 5 drives that permitted their colony ships to cross through Riftspan Reaches. The Colonies were never a mainstream part of the Hierate, and were often seen as dumping grounds for unwanted ihatei or other undesirable elements. Its proximity to the Domain of Deneb portion of the Third Imperium permitted great trade oppurtunities, but for the most part the region was a safety valve backwater for the young and foolish.

With the outbreak of the Imperial Civil War, and the isolation of the Domain of Deneb, the ihatei of several Aslan clans in the Colonies invaded Imperial held regions of the Spinward Marches, Trojan Reach and Reft sectors. Their success was cause for both celebration and irritation. A number of oppurtunistic ihatei on the rimward side of the Rift crossed into the Colonies in search of their own territories. But at the same time it created a war with the DoD that did not reflect well upon the tradition bound Aslan culture, and represented the first clear breakdown of the bounds of their cultural hegemony.

Viral infected ships crossing the Verge Connector sealed the fate of the main body of the Hierate in 1131, and the Colonies narrowly averted a similiar dire fate with DoD assistance. The Colonies are now the only part of the Aslan Hierate that is still extant, a role for which they were poorly prepared. In many regions the shock of the Collapse and Virus fractured the few remaining ties of inter-Aslan unity that had survived the earlier clan squabbling over the DoD. Many ihatei lacked the skills and character to act as supreme leaders for their their decimated clans. Too many were simply too lackluster to begin with, or were too glutted upon their conquests to even try. The result is a nation that is outwardly formidable, even monolithic, but has teetered on increasingly sharp domestic divisions within.

Asymmetrical Warfare: The Fourth Generation of Warfare. This is warfare based less upon large, hardware intensive weapons, and more upon the aptly misnamed "low intensity" warfare idea. In Asymmetrical Warfare, the idea of a spatial battlefield, where state-run professional armies clash with massed heavy hardware away from populated centers, is replaced by dispersed combatants of a communal, religious or ethnic nature in an urban or heavily populated environment with lightly armed guerillas that enjoy widespread popular support, or at least the passive acquiesence of a local population. Quite simply, AW is a reversion to tribal warfare, where everyone is a potential combatant.

Asymmetrical Warfare has three main theaters: urban terrorism, popular or psychological conflict and disruptive warfare. All of these rely upon small, difficult to identify combatants who rely upon media, timed attacks, concealment within or by a crowd, guerilla tactics, and the use of weapons of mass destruction, all within a primarily civilian or urban battlefield. These units generally have low logistical requirements, and a loose network nature into which combatants are loosely connected. The first instance of asymmetrical warfare as the norm were the wars of old Terra between 1985-2000 CE, which was fought mostly with lightly armed police, and military troops that fought like police. In these kinds of battlefields heavy hardware is less important than good, solidly trained infantry equipped with a mixture of battle dress and light body armor.

Since the destruction of the last major Vampire incursion into Deneb Sector in 1171, fighting with virus has taken on a more asymmetrical nature. Echelon teams and larger Denebian incursions Wildside have encountered more and more "streetfighter" battles where Virus has fortified itself in cities or other large settlements, and relies upon smart weapons and human infantry auxiliaries to defend itself. Fortunately, Regency Peacekeeping Forces have gained wide experience in these tactics since their formation, as a result of their operations against Sword World guerillas, and their police expertise has been adopted for a number of Assualt and Lift Infantry Divisions for punitive operations against these kind of strongholds. Given the nature of most so called Technologically Elevated Dictators, and the forces they possess, the Regency can expect many more battles of this nature as it expands into the Wilds. Therefore Asymmetrical Response is a major part of the forces and doctrines being evolved under the New Model Military Architecture.

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Battle Rider: A large cruiser or destroyer sized warship that sacrifices jump drive ability for increased endurance, armor or firepower. Battle Riders are always carried into battle by larger jump capable vessels known as Battle Tenders. Theoretically, a Rider is capable of defeating a jump capable vessel of similiar size. In reality, this is only the case under certain tactical circumstances. In setpiece warfare, a force of Riders can be difficult to defeat. But in the fluid warfare that has typified operations against the Zhodani and Virus, Riders have been a serious washout. Under current naval doctrine, Riders are always used in the strategic defensive role, fortifying refuelling sources within the Regency Frontier, and safeside worlds within a three parsec proximity of the frontier interface.. Some Rider squadrons are deployed into regions Wildside adjacent to the Regency, along with a handful of Scapegoats, laying in ambush of Vampire ships.

Blowback: Term used by intelligence organisations to refer to the unintended consequences of their operations. Usually blowback occurs when an agency indulges in behavior that is considered illegal or immoral within the contexts of either its own controlling government or by the target of its operations. When an agent of a lawful government, in the quest for expediency or advantage within the already murky world of espionage, operates in such a fashion, the result is usually a drastic if not violent form of retaliation from the injured party in either a legal manner, or in a ruthless manner commensurate with the violation.

Buzzard: A free trader or military unit who makes their livelihood upon salvage from a cemetery world. More pejoratively, it refers to those traders and pirates, during the early years of the Collapse, who followed the wavefront of Viral infection, waiting for a world to collapse, permitting easy looting.

Condotterie: Literally Italian for "contractor." Corporate mercenary units, or any military unit that is owned or backed by private money and support that is inteneded for private hire for profit. Most Imperial era mercenary units were of this nature, but have become extinct in the Regency following the Collapse. Condotterie units are a natural consequence of the inability of mercs to handle both military operations and the myriad bureaucratic sundries of day-to-day operations. The most famous (or infamous) condotterie provider was the late Imperial megacorp Instellarms, which controlled perhaps sixty percent of the Third Imperium's private mercenary market. Condotterie units are not highly regarded beyond their utility; many larger corporate units were notable for aiding and abetting the vacuous greed and questionable methods of their employers. Many units in the Spinward Hinters and Zhodani Shadow are still condotterie.

Coronal Mass Ejection (CME): The common scientific name for a solar flare. The magnetic fields that rise from a star coincide and interact within the hot "atmosphere" known as the Corona. These fields act like a net, impeding the flow of solar heated plasma, and causing a buildup of momentum within the corona that usually escapes as the million degree heat most planets in a solar system recieve as radiant energy. However, the magnetic fields of a star periodically fluctuate, sometimes dissipating enough that the accumulated pressure within the Corona overcomes them, and a solar flare event occurs.

Most stars have a periodic process of CME events. For Terra's primary, Sol, this is an 11 year process, that proceeds from a solar minimum of almost no activity, to a solar maximum of very heavy activity. These cycles have to do with the build up of magnetic fields issuing from the solar core, and the longer the cycle, the more violent the flare activity. These cycles are typified by increases or decreases in sunspots within the Corona, which signify the passage of the binding magnetic fields within the Corona. Sunspots are not directly responsible for CMEs, though large numbers of spots are usually precursors of such an event, indicating increasing magnetic interference that may allow for pressure to be released.

A CME is almost always supercharged plasma, and can mass up to a million metric tons. A flare can travel up to a million miles (1.6 million kilometers) an hour, taking about three to four days to reach a typical T-Norm world at 1 AU. Most flares are generally too dissapated by the time they reach the life zone to have much of an effect on a habitable world possessing an ionosphere or magnetic field of its own. However, planetary magnetic fields do not cover the poles, and charged particles can enter the atmosphere through these gaps, creating the spectacular effects known as the Aurora Borealis and Austrailis. Such events can severly disrupt the a planet's ionosphere, impeding radio communications. Stronger flares can disrupt high voltage electrical currents, causing fluctuations that will burn out transformers and monitoring equipment in satellites and even ground based electrical grids.

The largest flare on record for a typical main sequence star is the Maghiz flare in the Daryen/Darrian system. This was a man-made flare triggered by the passage of a probe through the corona of Tanis, the local primary. The confluence of a metal coolant ejected by the probe and a pair of meson communicators caused a solid state fusion reaction in the corona that in turn caused a near total collapse of Tanis' entire magnetosphere. The resulting "kill shot" flare had a mass of almost 35 BILLION tons, and created an EMP that nearly destroyed the Darrian civilisation, and disrupted nearby worlds.

Corporate Rechartering/"Immaculation": The restoration and reenfrancisement of pre-Collapse Imperial corporations in the Regency.

Before the Regency engaged in the crackdown upon surviving Imperial age corporations known as the Corporate Twilight, the First Regent and his advisors realised that using a stick without a carrot would do more economic harm than political good. With the Regency economy still smarting from the Civil War, and now staggering from the Collapse, a series of legal and economic inducements were offered to the same corporations. Norris offered companies with existing Imperial or Crown licenses to recharter themselves under the new regime. The slate would be wiped clean, and companies would be granted a fresh start, provided that they held to the more stringent Regency laws involving private commerce. In exchange, the Regency would help underwrite a new Commercial and Credit Bank that would assist surviving companies obtain new finance, and a new stock exchange and selling service to help raise money from the public.

This "Immaculation" raised a hue and cry from many anti-corporate factions within the public. Many were incensed that past misdeeds were being conveniently forgotten in favor of economic expediency. However, they underestimated Norris on this occasion; the charters were under the auspicies of the Ministry of Justice and its newly expanded Commercial Activities and Environmental Enforcement divisions. Because state money was being used as an inducement, the government retained the right to examine company books to see if the money was being reasonably spent. And because the charters were given by the government, they could be taken away, and companies were tracked for illegal activity. In the end the entire system ran through the final jurisprudence and organisation of Regency commercial and district courts, which established both statutary limits and precendential requirements.

While many corporations, particularly older megacorps, had great difficulty at first in converting from quasi-governmental viceroys to being merely profitable private firms, the benefits of the Regency's reforms far outweighed the loss of freedom. The elimination of corporate malfeasance both enhanced corporate images, and allowed management to concentrate more upon profitability than politics. The confiscation of private arsenals removed the burden of having to divert money for military and espionage activities; and the elimination of trade wars and their affiliated mercenaries eliminated most of the corporate insecurity that fed into their perpetuation. In the long run, the growing clout of private local stock ownership became even more influential, domesticating and bridling corporate managers to an even more pernicious degree than Imperial aristocracy had ever managed. Of course, this doesn't mean that things improved outside of the Regency.......

Corporate Twilight: The crackdown upon Imperial corporate illegality and corruption by the Regency in the aftermath of the Collapse. A new office was formed in the Ministry of Justice, which had jurisdiction over commercial and environmental prosecution. Between 1132 and 1144, the new Commercial Crimes Office, with a good deal of assistance from the Regency Quarantine Service, did a nearly complete sweep of megacorporate business hiearchies of corrupt officials and illegal behavior.

Delgado Trading: Former Imperial megacorporation still in existence in the Regency and the Spinward States. Delgado specialised in an odd trifecta of publishing, mining and minaturisation. Since the Collapse, the surviving parts of company has sold or spun off all of its publishing wing, and expanded into new nanotechnology and micromanufacturing industries. Whereas many Imperial era corps have stagnated in the face of new local competition and more stringent Regency regulation, Delgado has forged ahead in research and development, and has been a leader in microengineering and Viral countermeasure technology. Delgado and General Products run the joint venture General Mechanics corporation.

Diamond Rain: Phenomenon common to gas giants with large amounts of methane in their atmospheres. Where pressures reach in excess of 20,000 atmospheres, the carbon in these methane molecules will dehydrogenate, forming bonds with other carbon molecules. The most stable polymorph of carbon at these pressures is diamond. In certain levels of the atmosphere a gas giant of this nature will have storms or "mists" of diamonds. Some enterprising people and companies have actually used dredges or probes to collect these diamonds for commercial processing.

Disintegrators: Vanguard weapon system under development by the Regency and other Spinward States. An outgrowth of Nuclear Damper technology. Unlike meson guns, from which they are descended, Disintegrators are much more subtle in their manipulation of the strong and weak forces. Mesonic strong force, which translates between protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus, is actually a side effect. The main strong force occurs between quarks within nucleous particles, through a force messenger particle known as a Gluon. Disintegrators suppress this Gluonic strong force, and can break down coherent material into its most essential elements. The difficulty of doing that means that Disintergrators will not be available in common service for quite some time, possibly not until TL-17.

Dreamtime: The period of Regency history 1132-1202. So called in reference to the dreamlike, and sometimes nightmarish period created by the Quarantine and the war against Virus. A great sleepiness seems to prevail within the Regency, While it has been a period of great social advancement and technological progress, the existence of Virus has constrained its avenues of action to a great degree, and most of the potential that would have been unleashed by the Psionic and Representational Reforms has been squandered by greater need of maintaining the Quarantine. The opening of the Regency Frontier in 1202 represents the first slackening of this heightened vigilance, and may finally bring the full fruit of the Regency's reforms to bear.

Echelon Teams: Elite Marine recon teams stationed Wildside in listening posts (LP) or as active intelligence gatherers. These operations are collectively referred to as "front counter" missions. The Regency quietly maintains a number of discrete observation posts in Million, Atsah and Antra subsectors, and some spinward parts of Corridor, that observe and monitor ship movements in the Wilds.

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Weaponry: Weapons that use discrete energy contained within an EM carrier to sometimes destroy, but more usually influence, personnel and technology. EMPs are unusual in that the power and intensity of its energy release are largely irrelvant. Commensurate with the acupuncture doctrine, the methodology, frequency or "algorithm" of its energy release become more important. An EMP weapon, than, can use any sort of EM source or carrier wave to propogate its effect. As nearly every complex organism, energy system and contemporary technology uses EM fields for its own purposes, such fiddling can be highly effective on the battlefield, as the AI Virus has shown. EMP technologies range from weather control satellites, to neural weapons, and all manner of psychoactive and physioactive devices including rumored "information management systems", a euphemism for EM mind control.

Embedded Ideology: "If the only tool you have is a hammer, then you treat everything like a nail; if the only tool you have is a pencil, then everything becomes a list." As an ancient Solomani philosopher once stated, "The medium is the message." The intrinsic characteristics of a piece of technology strongly determines the outcome of its usage. This limits the free will of a user by confining them to a machine's design parameters. This is not only true of manufactured artifacts, but of all culture in general. Broad differences will, for example, exist between a society that is dependent upon oral culture and one that is very literate in written language. The philosopical implication of this is that the benefits of ALL technological progress is relative as opposed to the absolute teleological fact it is often assumed to be.

Empyric Theory: The theory, built out of Superstring Theory, that describes the Big Bang within the context of ten dimensional hyperspace. Empyric Theory reconciles Relativity and Quintessential Inflation with String or M-Theory, and creates a mechanism that explains the universes early fiery conception ("empyric" is Greek for fire). The theory also states that the process of universal creation is ongoing, with further empyric events occuring at infrequent intervals.

According to this theory, the universe was originally a lifeless, empty and cold void. Just an infinite darkness with no form or substance. Then, for reasons that are still open to speculation, a portion of hyperspace underwent an expansion, creating heat and energy. This event occured in the fourth spatial dimension, dislodging the first three spatial dimensions and the dimension of time out of Planck space (term used for hyperspace) and into an unfolding wave that filled part of the void. The first four dimensions (three space and one temporal) hold on to the fifth dimension like a vine to a wall, creeping outwards into the void. The last six dimensions of Superstring/M-Theory hyperspace act as scaffolding to permit this expansion.

The manipulation of the fifth dimension by the use of metaconductors was instrumental in the creation of jump drives. For this reason the fifth dimension is referred to as "jump space."

Escape Clause: Alternative safety valve built within the Representational Reforms. Worlds with repressive governments were offered two options: either a refrerendum on government liberalisation, or "foot voting" rights for its population. Under the latter stipulation all Regency citizens recieved the right of freedom of movement through non-military portions of the Regency. If a world did not issue a referendum, or it sabotaged the process, it faced the possibility of losing a major portion of its population through emigration to more liberal worlds. Many dictatorships (most notably the former high population world of Attee/Tobia) discounted the power of this clause, and suffered severely as a result. Where governments refused to liberalise through a normal process, the escape clause became a useful stick to beat these governments into making major changes.

Extrasolar Gas Giants: Gas Giants that form in deep space away from an known star or mass concentration that would form a star. EGGs were rather mysterious when first discovered, but are now thought to occur because of small mass clumping in some parts of stellar nebulae, and also due to earlier misunderstanding of fusion processes.

Feudalism: Noun. One of three systems of sovereignty known to exist among human political systems. The three systems are Centripetal (centralised), Parallel/Hub and Spoke (Federalism) and Network (Feudalism). A feudal system is based upon shifting loyalties between contending power centers, based upon changing circumstances. Feudal networks resemble modern markets, with reciprocity between power centers being the main commercial traffic.

Feudal Technocracy: Also known as a network state or corporate state. In a FT system, as with a normal feudal system, no centralised authority is identified or respected. Rather the controlling authority are passive systems such as markets, networks of contact and financial flows. Unlike a traditional feudal oligarchy and its emphasis upon coercive military force, reciprocal loyalty in an FT system is based on information exchange. Commerce and contact within an FT network is built upon brand loyalty, shared interest, or professional association within a loosely committed culture of self-interested consumers and producers.

A double degree of anarchy is therefore institutionalised: the traditional contention of a feudal system, and an assumption of risk by entrepeneurial elements that can potentially upset the balance of power in the system in unforeseeable ways. FT states run a gamut from corporation dominated market states, to mafia run pirate states, to "protocol" states dominated by open access technological or bureaucratic domains.

It has been noted that the old Imperial Interstellar Scout Service use of "feudal technocracy" is at variance with the above definition. It appears that IISS was merely attempting to reconcile the Imperial aristocracy with other political systems in the early years of the empires existence, and concieved a government code that makes no sense. In most cases a feudal technocracy code is used to refer to governments that are either feudal (government code 3), or technocratic (code 8), but usually not both.

Fire Sale of 1132: The Regency's liquidation of the assets of megacorps bankrupted or destroyed by the Collapse. Tukera and Hortalez et Cie's massive consolidation efforts backfired in the face of a network such as Virus, and their surviving assets were sold at auction on Mora to preserve their liquidity. All remaining Vilani bureaux assets were also sold in this manner. A number of prominent Regency corporations trace their rise in power in prosperity from this event.

Firewall: In contemporary parlance a physical or electromagnetic barrier in a computer or other electronic device that protects it against outside interference or damage. Usually refers to antiviral barriers and architectures in contemporary computers.

Frontier Contractors: Companies under contract to the Regency's independent Space Exploration and Contact Office (SECO). With the demise of the RISS's Exploration Office in the wake of the Quarantine, all exploratory duties in the Spinward Frontier are carried out by private firms like these. These are primarily scout and RQS personnel who either own their own ships, or have organised as companies to provide frontier exploration, survey, scouting, security and courier services along the expanding frontier.

Contracts are issued on a case by case basis, for one particular service at a time, to prospective bidders. Contracts include mail service, scouting, scientific support, military protection, communal policing and security, logistical support and basic exploration. Most contractors are normally inactive reserve RQS or scout personnel, but many private Condotterie units also compete. Vanguard Reach and Fulani Sectors contain the majority of "Frontiersman".

Gallowglass/Gallowglaigh: Freelance mercenaries. These are usually "shirtsleeve" soldiers with requisite military skills, but no equipment or organisation other than that provided by their employers. Most of these troops are recruited into national militaries that lack either the manpower, or a loyal enough population to create their own forces from local recruitment. "Foreign Legion" units are generally of this model. The Byzantine Varangian Guard is another example. The term is Gaelic, and refers to the loose groups of Scottish soldiers that travelled to Ireland to fight the Armies of Elizabethan England.

General Products: Former Imperial megacorporation that survives in the Regency and the Spinward States. GP was primarily a manufacturer of starships, transportation machinery and manufacturing equipment. Slipshod management and shortsighted austerity measures resulted in a dramatic lowering of the company's product quality and reliability late in the Antebellum period, a matter that came to a head with the Kinunir fiasco. The company has managed to solve its difficulties since the Collapse, but its reputation still suffers. The company is an active partner with Delgado Trading in the General Mechanics joint venture firm.

General Mechanics: Joint venture company formed by Delgado Trading and General Products. GenMech was established mostly at the behest of GP in an effort to reestablish the profitability of its Post-Collapse product lines, without the taint of its bad reputation. GP was interested at the time in alternative "passive" automation systems that were Virus proof, and approached Delgado hoping to share in that company's innovative nanoengineering technology. GenMech has much the same portfolio as GP, but its products always utilise the latest technology and avant garde research. The company has recently branched out into microsynthesis of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, a move that has severly damaged SuSAG's dominance in those industries. GenMech has perhaps the largest R&D budget of any company in the Spinward States, and its reputation for advancement and quality has turned around the flagging reputations of its two parent companies.

Geoecological Pyramid: The massive subterranean biosphere found within the deep crust and upper mantles of most molten and heavy core worlds, and a few rocky and icy core worlds too. In conjunction with Panspermia, it is thought that biological material rains down from space during nebular accretion, and that this material makes its main foothold on a developing world in the heated rock of newly formed worlds. This life, naturally, is microorganismic, and is adapted to extreme temperature, pressure and chemistry of either space, deep underground, or both. The biomass of this underground accumulation is hundreds of times greater than that which lives on the surface of most worlds; in many cases it may be the only life that exists on an otherwise airless or dead world, if only in small pockets.

Gravitics: The science of creating, controlling and manipulating artificially generated gravity fields and wells. Gravitics emerged from hyperspatial theories that succeeded M-Theory and Superstring Theory. Early applications included the now ubiquitous Contra-Gravity Lifters, Artificial Gravity, and Inertial Compensators. These devices revolutionised transportation, effectively merging ground and air vehicles, and becoming the mainstay of interstellar commerce. Tractor and Repulsor/Manipulator technology are the most sophisticated applications of Gravitic research, and may usher in a second gravitics revolution in the later stages of Tech Level 16.

Hammerheads: The popular name for the Regency Navy/Marines Elite Boarding Teams (EBT). The EBT was established in the early 1130s, but wasn't deployed until 1135, to assist in the capture of virus infected ships, and the liberation of their captive crews. The EBT is perhaps the most demanding special forces unit ever created. Applicants must demonstrate intelligence, coolness under fire, teamwork and endurance beyond anything encountered even in Marine Pathfinder and Regency Ranger training. Hammerheads are usually deployed in Frontier and Safeside worlds that lie near the most common avenues of Vampire approach. Most of their missions are based upon discretion: where the benefits of capturing a Vampire ship more than outweighs the risk, especially in humanitarian operations.

Hammerhead troops are continously drilled in ship layouts, space systems and boarding tactics. They are equipped with heavily armored "whaler" ships designed to close and grapple themselves to a Vampire ship. Individual troopers are equipped with special battledress fitted with propulsion thrusters, plasma and laser torches, concussion grenades, a generous amount of demolition explosives, emp weapons and tools designed to sever and isolate sections of a Vampires data architecture. Physical training is especially demanding, to simulate both zero-G and the inner environment of a ship.

The name of these troops come from ancient Terra, after the elite boarding units of the United States Coast Guard that were formed during that nations prohibition of alchohol.

Hessians: Legitimate government owned military units that are hired out to other powers as mercenaries. This is usually done for money, though there are cases when the military of one world is subsidised by its neighbors for mutual defense of a region. Like Condotterie units, Hessians are valued for their loyalty to their employers, and they tend to be of very high quality and tight discipline. Some Hessian units are held to their employers by historical events or shared esprit de corps; examples of this include Terra's vaunted Gurhkas, and the Vatican's Swiss Guard.

Homeland Defense Initiative of 1132: Main funding authority and mechanism for the expansion and maintenance of the Regency military. HDI governs all military acquisitions, and includes a number of military and public agencies designed to facilitate the design, manufacture and rationalisation of all military systems and logistics.

Hot Zone: That part of the former Imperium with the highest rate of new infection, emergence of new strains, or greatest diversity of existing viral types. The Hot Zone usually includes the Imperial Core, the rimward portions of Vilani Main, and Massilia/Diaspora.

House of Ignatius: Regency banking house located on Lunion/Lunion. Ignatius is a family enterprise, founded in 717, noteworthy for its financing of many prominent enterprises within the Spinward Marches sector. Ignatius was instrumental for funding the expansion of Ling Standard's presence on Lunion and nearby Strouden, had strong ties to SusAG and Sternmetal, and strong credit lines for a number of local shipping companies. After the Third Frontier War the company expanded into insurance, which brought it into competition with Hortalez et Cie and Zirunkariish. With the demise of those two companies, the seal of Ignatius has become prominent throughout the Regency, whether on ship titles or insurance policies, and it is the benchmark of insurance underwriting for most of the Spinward Extents.

Ignatius is strictly an old fashioned banking enterprise, concentrating in capital investment and insurance. While perhaps the most conservative of the Regency's major banking firms, the company's patient style and loyal service to its depositors and shareholders has enabled it to create a massive clientele network in parts of the Regency that guarantees profitability. Ignatius has something of a common touch, as its branch offices are found on most Regency worlds of population 6+, and it shows no preference in its dealings with customers, whether corporate or personal, private or public.

Imperial Civil War: Also known as the Final War or the Rebellion. The war that destroyed the Third Imperium, and ushered in the age of Virus. The causes of the war are varied and complex. Most historians agree that the war grew out of a reaction to the increasingly ossified social and political structure that had been imposed upon the Imperium following the accession of the Alkhalikoi Dynasty (see Lucanic Usurpation). The war nominally started with the assassination of Emperor Strephon's family and ceremonial double by Dulinor, the Archduke of the Ilelish Domain. Strephon's nephew Lucan "succeeded" to the Iridium Throne, quickly consolidated his power without Moot confirmation of his succession, and prosecuted a borderline insane military campaign against Dulinor. These headlong military thrusts drained the remainder of the Imperium of their military forces, hastening its collapse in the face of outside invasions by the Solomani, Vargr and Aslan. When Lucan had exhausted most of his frontline forces, he switched to surgical strikes and scorched earth tactics, inflicting massive infrastructure and industrial losses on worlds and regions already suffering massive collateral damage from earlier campaigns. This madness culminated in the battle that released the AI Virus, an event that annihilated ninety percent of all sentient life in Charted Space, perhaps the greatest catastrophe this Galaxy has ever seen.

Incubus: A virus that successfully mimics a normally functioning, uninfected operating system. Incubi are unusual in that they usually represent a degradation in viral sentience. In many cases they are descended from fragments of previous infections, that have merged or assimilated into the main overall operating system and hardware of the infected system. Only a few basic biological patterns will carry over into the new system, creating a feral and mindless "cave virus" that can both operate the system to normal efficiency, and parasitize other systems that come in contact with it, sometimes with varying degrees of system degradation. Several variant types of Incubi have been identified since their discovery in Tuglikki Sector in 1191:

1. Avatars: Echoes of previous viral infections. All viruses leave some trace of themselves within operating systems and hardware, and these fragments can recombine with existing systems in a "frankenstein monster" manner. This creates computer systems with strange personality quirks, and a tendency towards possible catastrophic failure under certain circumstances.7

2. Grendels: Virus that reverts back to the original primitive Cymbeline form. The only confirmed encounter with this strain originated when a Virus infected ship crash landed upon a silica rich world almost identical in solar characteristics as the Virus homeworld. The stranded virus strain injected its code into the wilderness of the world either as a means of preserving its sanity or indulging its whims. The result was the infection, with vectorable strains, of an entire world, a very dangerous place for the unwary. The name for the virus came from the crew of a Regency Beowulf class free trader that misjumped into the Wilds, and who came in contact with not only the wild strains, but their "mother" as well.

3. Morpheus: A mutable virus that "rewrites" itself into a algorithm that is indistinguishable from normal human originated operating and hardware systems. This masquearade can go on for years, even decades, before a timer goes off, or a certain circumstance triggers a conversion algorithm that reconverts the seemingly innocent program into a deadly infectant. Morpheuses are only identifiable by close examination of their code, as they often contain extraneous algorithms that control their transformations; or because their imitation contains either errors or "quirks" that reflect their original viral personalities.

Journeyman: A worker or "contractor", whether by themselves, or in conjuntion with a larger organisation, who travels between jobs or occupations that are scattered across space, oftentimes across national borders. The increasingly competitive labor markets of the Spinward States requires a mobile, almost nomadic labor force, especially as new technology has been implemented across the Spinward Extents. The footloose workforce that has arisen is primarily immigrant in origin, usually from the Zhodani Shadow and regions adjacent to the expanded Aslan Hierate. Some of these workers have institutionalised themselves into permanent vagabonds, and have formed for profit Non-Governmental Organisations that serve several governments at once. It is thought that the tight labor markets created by the Collapse within the Wilds has greatly enhanced the value of technological workers within Virus ravaged regions, and that skilled labor is the main trade commodity among these regressed regions.

Lucan Usurpation: Modern conspiracy theory that purports to explain the beginning of the Imperial Civil War in more sinister tones. The theory has existed, unattributed to any academic origin, since about 1145. Largely regarded as a fringe paranoid theory, it has come under greater scrutiny by academics in the last twenty years. The theory purports that the events that occured on Capitol in the aftermath of Dulinor's attack upon the royal family were neither spontaneous nor accidental. The theory notes three major discrepancies in the official record of events. First of all palace security was compromised in a major way. That Dulinor and several co-conspirators were able to penetrate into the throne room with weapons cannot be explained except by complete incompetence upon the part of the Imperial Bodyguard. Second of all, Lucan's ascension to the throne was not only swift, it was orchestrated in a manner that defies the supposed chaos on Capitol in the aftermath. Lucan's defenestration of the Moot, the quickness with which the royal family was buried, the quashing of any investigation into Varian's death, and his ability to sway the Imperial Household Bureaucracy and the Central Military Command could not have been accomplished by the new emperor on the basis of his own dubious merits and accomplishments. And finally there is the spectacle of the real Strephon, en route from Dynam Depot in Lishun Sector, being diverted from Capitol upon recieving the news of "his" assassination, instead of seizing control of the situation as he was so obligated to do by his office.

The Usurpation theory explains these discrepancies as being a counterrevolution. Strephon was a reformist, and Dulinor's "reform movement" was actually of his own devising, since the Black Archduke's appointment would never have otherwise occured. Strephon wanted to save the Imperium, but as with all reform movements that are enacted when an empire is at an advanced age, they had a paradoxical effect. The empire had grown too old and too fragmented for his modest reforms to be enacted, as they did not satisfy aggrieved parties, and they threatened old elites too ossified to sacrifice their personal power and wealth. Several factions among the latter reacted negatively, first to Dulinor, and finally to Strephon, hamstringing reform. A cabal of reactionary nobles within the upper reaches of the Imperial government finally decided to remove Strephon, while at the same time creating the conditions for a rejuvenation of the Imperium that would preserve their priveleges and power intact. And Dulinor became their scapegoat.

But as with most reactionary conspiracies, their clarity of foresight and thouroughness of planning did not extend beyond their plot. Their assumption was that once Strephon was dead, and Dulinor was implicated, the rest of the Imperium and the outside universe would accept this fait accompli, and everything would be magically restored. But of course the plotters did not know about Longbow, or of Strephons providential absence. Because Dulinor was to be the villian, and the designated means for imperial renewal, their planning did not account for any other actors to spoil the play. Nor did they sufficiently account for the ambitions of the Solomani or the oppurtunism of the Vargr. The main complaint against this theory is not only the lack of corroborating evidence, but the absurdity that reduces the greatest human tragedy in all recorded history, and reduces to a farce perpetrated by pathetic human hubris.

Lynx Society: Non-governmental scientific organisation headquartered from Camaguey/Meizirn (Beyond 0409). Founded in 1133 following the Collapse to preserve, perpetuate and evolve scientific and technical knowledge in the face of the Viral threat. The Society is prestigious, as many governments, eager to forestall a further collapse, encouraged their scientists to join and pool their resources. The Society has branch offices on many industrial worlds, but is best represented in Beyond and nearby Vanguard Reaches. Membership is by invitation only, though its rolls include distinguished amateurs as well as professional and academic scientists. The Society has no research facilities of its own, but it does publish journals and maintains databases of recent unclassified discoveries in the sciences, engineering and humanities. All members pay modest dues, and digest subscriptions; but Society subsidises member research, and most of its income results from patents and royalties generated by such research. The society has a biannual convention that it convenes on various worlds in the Spinward Hinters. The society takes its name from the famous Italian Renaissance scientific society, the first of its kind on Terra, a brotherhood that included Galileo.

M-Theory: Precursor to J-space/Unified Hyperspace Theory. Unifies all of the various Superstring theories into one framework. Under normal mathematics, five different superstring regimes existed. Thanks to Witten on Terra, and Ploiabr on Zhdant, the five theories were unified around a semi-lucid unity called M-theory. Under this scheme the strings of superstring theory are converted into a single series of simple hyperspatial geometries, into which our universe could be identified. M-theory eventually, by reconciliation with other competing hyperspatial theories, became the basis for J-Space theory, and the invention of jump drive.

Manipulator Thruster: New TL-16/17 thruster currently under development by the Regency. Unlike the mythical Thruster Plate, which is simply perpetual motion applied to propulsion, a Manipulator Thruster is a reaction based engine. An MT generates a gravity well in front of a ship or vehicle, which provides acceleration. Because gravity is an infinite force, the velocities of all objects in the universe are affected to some small degree by this artificial gravity well, keeping the thruster within the bounds of thermodynamics and Newtons laws. Because a Manipulator doesn't provide a pushing thrust, but rather a pull down a gravitational gradient, engineers have dubbed it a "slide rocket."

Problems with "gravitational pollution", whereby the effects of thousands of thrusters over a period of time can distort the paths upon all objects in a local solar system, have so far prevented deployment of the basic system, which has been in existence since the Imperial Civil War. Engineers are working on a Cycling Manipulator, so called because it creates a moving g-well that partially compensates for the gravitational momentum it creates in other objects in nearby proximity.

Metastable Metallic Hydrogen: When ordinary mono or diatomic hydrogen is compressed at pressures in excess of fifteen to twenty thousand atmospheres, internal repulsion between hydrogen atoms is overcome and metallic bonds are formed. This condition is "metastable", meaning that this substance only exists within a narrow range of circumstances, and will quickly revert to a more normal equilibrium with the right stimulus, such as compression in a fusion reactor. Nevertheless MMH is a very lightweight material, comparable in strength (though not density) to aluminum, and can be used as a strutural material in some commercial applications.

MMH naturally occurs in stars and gas giants where the weight of the atmosphere and density of the gas become sufficient for its formation. At a depth of around 1000 to 2000 kms, a metallic "surface" of hydrogen will form in these bodies, one capable of conducting heat and electricity in the same manner as all other metallic substances. The existence of this phenomenon (Authors note: The following is merely my own educated opinion.) is important to the reconciliation of fusion processes, both "hot" and "cold" at TL-9. Cold Fusion is in a solid state, where a metallic catalyst creates a "crystal" of hydrogen that fuses into helium. Further surveys of solar "hot" fusion, where a high pressure solution of metallic hydrogen is mixed with metallic catalysts, is virtually no different than cold fusion, except for the scale. All working fusion reactors that have ever existed are high pressure gas-metal catalytic cells which compress powerplant hydrogen to a metallic state, thereby creating a fusion process that can be utilised for useful power.

Molecular Computers: Also known as Biocomputers. MCs utilise chemical reactions, such as the selective breaking of chemical bonds, for processing data. The most common processor is artificial DNA, whose periodic and algorithmic nature permits easy manipulation and design of chemical circuits. That same DNA also permits easy storage of memory. The first DNA computers are invented at TL-9, and become widely available starting at the upper limits of TL-10, replacing normal solid-state induction-gate processors like silicon and carbon. They replace silicon and other solid state memory media at TL-12. Because of the small size of DNA strands, and other biochemical relays, an MC can be built to very small scales, making them ideal for nanotechnological applications. Molecular Computers are immune to Viral infection, though some scientists wonder if that will always be the case.

(For more info see http: //

Money Laundering: The conversion of money and assets from illegal activities into legal bonds, stocks and certificates. Money Laundering is made much easier in this day and age thanks to the slow flow of information and the sophistication of modern forgery. It was difficult even during the Antebellum period for any interstellar society to verify the source of "offshore" money flowing through their borders. Many states could do little more than "barricade" their money against currency manipulation, or tightened deposit rules, but otherwise left money flows virtually unregulated. Fortunately, the difficulty of currency conversion limited manipulation to "kiting", the use of unsecured bonds for use as collateral in obtaining loans and capital. Since the Collapse, the increasing need for economic cooperation has loosened currency regulations in many Spinward States, allowing for easier conversion of offshore money by criminal organisations. Beyond Sector and parts of Far Frontiers are the main centers for this illegal traffic.

Muirimianism: Religion practiced by the people of the Regency of Muirimi and the Nakris Confederacy. It is an "occulted sovereign" religion similar to Terran Rastifarianism and the Canuban cult. The religon centers around the (possibly apocryphal) person of Muirimi, alledgedly a high ranking member of the Terran military that was a Terran military governor of Daibei and then Zarushagar sectors during the latter stages of the Interstellar Wars. The cult transformed Muirimi from an obscure myth into a towering messianic figure. It proclaimed a philosophy of the chosen within the true faith, dedicated to equality and justice for the believers, and foretold a day when Muirimi would return to the world from his hiding place, and usher in an apocalyptic age.

The cult emerged in Zarushagar during the Twilight period following the disintegration of the Rule of Man, mostly among the increasingly desperate lower classes of the region. When the remaining authorities tried to supress the religion in light of its anarchic attitude, a revolt erupted that led to the cult leaders and most of their followers fleeing across the Great Rift and settling in Beyond and Iphegenaia sectors. The original religion has been watered down into the mainstream Regency and the more pastoral Nakrisian heresy.

Nanogathics: Nanobots used to restore teleomeres.

Nanotechnology: Machinery that is constructed at the molecular level. First available at TL-10. Most Nanotech is primarily automated machinery used in manufacturing and medical applications. As most nanobots are generally too small and simple for viral infection, they have become a primary "antiviral" as they are quick, difficult to destroy, and often preserve most of the original hardware.

Non-Governmental Organisations: Organisations that are dedicated to functions and causes that transcend normal nationalistic boundaries. Such organisations include charities, relief and aid services, and development agencies. The most famous and obvious example is the Traveller's Aid Society.

Most NGOs BTC are primarily private information-for-fee agencies, private law enforcement services, medical relief, and several private exploratory companies in service to the Regency RQS or Frontier Exploratory and Contact Office (FECO).

Orbital Resonance: Modern theory of solar system formation. Contrary to the classical view of nebular accretion, nascent solar systems rarely possess neat, regimented orbital structures. In reality, the great differences in distribution in mass within an accretionary disk are so great, especially when gas giants are formed, that orbits are chaotic and disorderly. Gas giants and binary stars are either cannibalistic, swallowing smaller worlds, or bullying, hurling worlds out of a solar system alltogether. But as with most chaotic systems, order eventually emerges, and the system stabilises. In most cases orbiting objects will attain, through mutual gravitational influence, a resonant cycle where they support each other and stabilise each others orbits. Such orbital resonance is the main reason why habitable worlds exist, otherwise marauding gas giants will pilfer a system's life zone in nearly all other cases. Panspermia: Theory of life origin first postulated by the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras. The theory holds that all life originates in the vacuum of space. Amino acids have been shown to form in nebula clouds, and many bacteria are capable of subsisting in extreme conditions, including the cold of space and high levels of solar radiation. As nebula accretion forms a solar system, bolide impacts into volcanic rock seeds a young world with these amino acid/protolife contructs, where they can quickly establish themselves in the hot water circulating through the early crust and upper mantle.

(This theory should really recieve an IMTU code of its own. Because it speculates that ALL life in the universe, regardless of its location, has the same origin, if not the same source. At one extreme there should exist a code for panspermia only, a middle code for a complex interaction between space and terrestrial genesis, and at the other extreme the spontaneous generation theory where life only develops because of some unknown alchemy within the hot rock and thick atmosphere of a young world.)

Passive Recuperative Systems: PRS are self-sustaining or self-perpetuating mechanical, electronic and biological systems designed to remain functional despite damage or viral infection. Also known as trapeze systems, for they are like a person on a trapeze who uses their momentum or balance to carry them through the air, and perform their stunts. Most of these systems are engineered towards maintaining simple functions, such as flight for a gravitic city, life support for a space station, hull integrity for a starship...etc. When damaged or stressed, they maintain enough inner fortitude or design flexibility to resist, or preferably, recuperate the energy or disintegration created to their continued function or perpetuation. Most PRS use smart materials and advanced bioorganic parts in their construction. Most are actually dumb systems, organised around passive or embedded algorhithm(s) that dominates their operations, and are therefore immune to everything but total destruction. Most critical life support, power distribution and certain automation systems constructed since 1132 are PRS.

Plague Reign: One of two sociological theories concerning the Viral Wilds that exist in the Regency (See Turk's Reign). This theory proposes that the situation in the Wilds is similiar to that which existed on Terra's European continent following the Black Death pandemic.

Virus, like the Black Death, wiped out a good portion of the preexisting sentient population. In this case about 99.7 percent of all life. The majority of survivors are to be found upon more habitable worlds, generally T-norms and T-primes, where less reliance upon advanced technology allowed for most of their populations to survive the viral onslaught. Nonetheless the near destruction of the world that these survivors once knew has had a pronounced effect upon their worldview, beliefs and ideologies. The old Imperial system has been destroyed, and a social evolution is underway that is attempting to replace the old ways with customs and ideas more suitable for local circumstances.

The massive die off makes skilled labor both rare and extremely precious. Even where worlds have suffered only minor casualties, there exists great need for people with the technological and professional skills required for reconstruction. As with post-Black Death Europe, such skilled workers are likely to be the main economic commodity, both within their communities and wherever interstellar travel has been preserved. Aggressive behavior by local warlords is likely to be more restrained in hopes of attracting and retaining the services of such journeymen. Where local circumstances are favorable, such workers may even pool their resources and begin the instruction of new workers, allowing for an extension of the total knowledge base for an accelerated recovery and the wider benefits of educational advancement and enfrancisement.

Plan B Colonies: Colonies established in Fulani and Theron sectors by the Spinward States in the wake of the Rape of Trin. Following the successful attack by the Kishkii and her fleet, the possibility of further successful penetrations of the Quarantine convinced several Spinward States to "hedge their bets." A consortium of private Regency, Zhodani and Spinward Hinter colonial ventures were established with the view of colonising the uninhabited worlds of Fulani, Astron and other spinward sectors on the backside of the Spinward Extents from the Wilds. With assistance from the Regency's Space Exploration and Contact Office and its private "Frontiersman" contractors, several colonial ventures were launched in the 1140s and 50s, concentrating in the trailing half of Fulani sector.

Punctuated Equilibrium: Significant modification of evolutionary theory, first proposed by Solomani scientist Stephen Jay Gould. Unlike normal Darwinian evolution and its assumption of a steady level of mutation, PE stipulates that the development of new species is an uneven process. While mutation is constant, a level of biological equilibrium is generally maintained over the course of the prevailing climactic or geological period, and these mutations are suppressed in favor of the more successful species. Conversely, when that period is disrupted, these mutations are no longer supressed, and the more successful and viable mutations become dominant in a short period of geological time. Past assumptions about speciation was that it took millions of years, under PE it may take only 10,000-20,000 years to accomplish. The emergence of Virus, while conducive to the PE model, has a rapidity that has challenged even that conservative number, and some biologists are already arguing for Viral specialisation over the next 300 to 400 years.

Poison Pills: Anti-viral devices that activate when viral infection of the system it is emplaced occurs. Either the virus is killed, or the system will self-destruct. Such systems include exothermic/endothermic chemical cells, explosives, powersurge strips, and disconnective circuit breakers.

Pygmalion Paradox: The tendency of technology, as it becomes more advanced or complex, to reflect increasingly primitive or lifelike tendencies, or the foibles and limitations of its creators. By approaching the threshold of sentience, or life imitation, technology becomes more beholden to its embedded design ideology, and more autonomous of personal control. Machines evolve a "secret life" that increasingly isolates users from their more essential functioning. The result is a technological world that is surreal and neo-animistic, with strong parallels to the worlds conjured in ancient or traditional myth structures.

Quantum Computer: A computer that utilizes Quantum Mechanical operations as a processor. Imagine that a person has misplaced an important briefcase in a high-rise office building. The person remembers is that he placed in a desk in one of the hundreds of offices inside the building, but has no recollection of which office on which floor...etc. Now he could check each office, one at a time, but that would take forever, and he has to find it right now. But what if he cloned himself a number of times equal to the number of offices? Each clone would be able to check one office each, and the probability that the briefcase will be found as quickly as possible is nearly 100 percent. A quantum computer works in much the same fashion. The base science of QM is the idea that an electron is not a hard or discrete "meatball" of matter, but rather a dispersed if not phantasmic energy wave whose position is rather uncertain at any given instant. To determine the probable positio of an electron, physicists use wave functions, which is a number matrix that defines that probability. But since an electrons position is a probability, a Quantum computer can function in much the same way that our forgetful busninessman found his briefcase, by expressing a computational algorithm as a wave function, permitting the algorithm to "check each room at the same time" so to speak. Quantum computers were first invented at TL8/9, but do not become practical until TL-10, and in wide commercial and military use until TL-13. Early QCs relied upon supercooled liquids and lasers to chill the computational medium to above absolute zero, removing thermodynamic interference and placing it at the ground state most conducive for problem solving. Later computers use magnets, "Quantum Traps" and gravitic technologies; contemporary systems use new subatomic and "quantum gate" technology to further enhance their power. QCs are immune to Viral infection.

Quantum Teleportation: Method of teleportation using "Quantum Entanglement." Teleportation via signal transmission was once thought to be impossible, because of the difficulties created by the Uncertainty Principle, where the method of analysing the atomic and subatomic particles in an object actually disrupts the information inherent to them. But a number of advanced physics, utilising the QE effect, otherwise known as the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) paradox, have successfully created perfect copies of quanta. The only stipulation is that the original copy be destroyed (a method of teleportation described in Traveller canon).

Normal mechanical teleportation, for a number of scientific and technical reasons, has been shown to be impossible. The bigger and the more massive the object to be scanned, and then transmitted, the more difficult it is for even powerful computers to encompass every particle, without errors from developing during scanning. Even with the QE method, errors are inevitable. However, teleportation of small (<5 kilograms) objects may one day be possible. Even more interesting is the idea that certain materials do not have to be carried between worlds as bulk cargo: if they are small enough, they can be carried electronically on a courier or X-boat, and be downloaded into a copying or cloning machine at its destination.

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Quarantine: The defensive cordon of customs and military forces, combined with protective technical protocols, intended to prevent infection by the AI Virus. The Quarantine was the main focus of the Spinward Accords: signing created an obligation for each member state "to create, uphold and maintain certain regulations aimed at preventing viral infection among the Spinward States, and building and maintaining sufficient forces to enforce the Quarantine at all necessary points of their space...... within a reasonable framework that can be considered responsible within the tenets of the Accords." This last bit of text permits some leeway to signers to create a Quarantine within the contexts of their own particular circumstances, without undermining the common defense and welfare of the Spinward States as a whole.

This little bit of wriggle room has created a wide and varying degree of interpretations of a Quarantine that is "considered responsible" by the whole. Arguably the strictest Quarantine is maintained by the largest Spinward States: the Regency, the Aslan along the Rift and the Zhodani. Regulations generally become more lax, and enforcement less stringent as one gets farther away from the trailing "hot zone." Within the more spinward reaches, especially the New Colonies in Fulani or Theron sectors, or regions farther along the Zhodani Shadow, the Quarantine exists mainly in name rather than in fact.

Quintessence: Also known as Dark Energy or Cosmic Inflation. A theory that explains the apparent "Horizon" paradox posed by the Big Bang theory. Measurements of the oldest observable stars in the universe purport to show a universe that is approx. 15 billion years old. But measurements of those objects with the greatest red shifts show a universe that is far larger (approx. 17-19 billion light years) than what should be observed. This is akin to travelling in a car across a featureless plain at about 100 km per hour for one hour, stopping after one hour of driving and measuring the distance travelled with a laser, and finding that you've travelled 120 km. Cosmic Inflation states that the vacuum that all matter "floats" in is itself undergoing expansion with the rest of the universe. The 20 km discrepancy you experienced while driving can be explained if the ROAD had been stretching at 20 km/hr by itself while the car had been moving. Quintessence is postulated as the energy that is creating this expansion, and is thought to be resistant to normal gravitational attraction.

Regency 231st Fleet: Regency Intelligence unit stationed at Auitawry and Sarage. The 231st was built upon the old Crosshairs courier route, and has been instrumental in the interception of large Vampire Fleets crossing the Verge Connector into the vulnerable knot of the Aslan Colonies. The fleet was originally a complicated mixture of intel gathering, courier and special operations forces designed for both early warning of Vampire movements, and to recover vital personnel and technology from the Federation of Ilelish and Usdiki. Because of its remote location, and vital strategic role, the fleet maintains combat units of its own. Usually these are ships captured or salvaged in fighting in Verge and Ilelish sectors, whether viral infected or not. The 231st works closely with the Aslan Quarantine forces, and is permitted limited access to their facilities in trailing Trojan Reach. Because of its peculiar position, only the best military and RQS personnel are assigned to its ranks. In 1149 the worlds of Tisilli and Browne were ceded by the Aslan, and are currently under the protection of the 231st.

Regency 269th Fleet: Regency intelligence unit stationed at Errogel/Atsah. The 269th, like its sister the 231st to rimward, is charged with intelligence gathering along the Wildside approaches to the Regency frontier. Its area of responsibility are Corridor, Vland, Tuglikki, Provence, and technically all of the sectors stretching to trailing along the old Imperial/Vargr border, and the entire Vargr Extents, though in practice this is impossible. Unlike their sister fleet, the 269th lacks frontline military units of its own, and extensive ties to the Joint Special Operations Command; but it compensates through the maintenance of an extensive free trader network that provides reliable data from as far as trailing Corridor and Provence.

Regnecy Starship Shortage: The Domain of Deneb was totally unprepared for the onslaught of Virus in 1131. Even worse, the battering of the Civil War and Aslan and Vargr invasions made it difficult to quickly adjust to the new threat. To defend against the growing flow of vampire fleets making their way across or around the Great Rift, the new Regency of Deneb needed as many warships as could be constructed in a short amount of time. The ensuing shortage of ships came as something of a shock, given the massive capacity that had existed BTC for several centuries, but this can be explained for a number of reasons.

Had it merely been a matter of new construction, and higher priorities on military construction, the disruption of civilian starship markets would have been bad enough. Regency/DoD shipbuilders had to also upgrade and modify tens of thousands of already extant starships to new virus resistant computer and communication systems, diverting scarce resources and space to this necessary project. The economic recession that came out of commercial contraction during the Civil War had robbed shipbuilders of the capital needed for expansion or upgrades of their yards, and equipment and personnel were in many cases inadequate for the task. While the Regency government and its new Ministry of Shipping managed to subsidise new shipyard construction, and alleviate crowding, a disruption of new civilan ship construction was unavoidable.

Factors outside of starship construction also contributed to shortages. The Abandonment took thousands of starships out of normal paying service along the critical starlanes of what would later be called the Regency Stronghold. Despite careful scheduling, an acute shortage of merchant vessels caused a massive jump in freight fees, and several worlds had great difficulty in shipping or recieving vital goods. Coupled with a growing population and a greater reliance upon internal trade, the market for new starships was too exorbitantly expensive for most buyers. It wasn't until around 1150 that enough yard space, producing enough new starships, under enough careful management of the Shipping Ministry that the market finally began to tip towards new buyers; but by that time the damage had been done.

The panic of the early Collapse had forced the induction of thousands of older obsolete and obsolescent merchant and military vessels into service, and many of these have only been removed from active service in the last decade or so. The "shortage" has been over since 1170, but these older ships, and lingering demand by the military, still creates anxiety within the public.

Repulsor Weaponry: Weapons that propel a projectile through the use of a repulsor generated gravity well, which proceeds away from the muzzle of the weapon. Repulsor guns have several distinct advantages over conventional weapons. The gravity well does not require a CPR gun's long barrel for stablisation, nor the complex electronic assemblies of gauss weapons. And acceleration of the round can continue AFTER it leaves the barrel. In artillery applications, the projection of gravitational effects can permit rounds to be shot in sinous or non-ballistic paths to avoid being shot down or betraying their launcher by their paths. Engineers have also played with creating "ablative pockets", an insulating outer liner, when combined with the air pocket created by the gravity well, permits higher round velocities in excess of what is permissible normal weapons. Repulsor Weapons are still largely experimental, and only a few Regency Army units, and the Mora and Vincennes world armies, have deployed them in regular frontline service.

(Yes, this entry is based in part on MTJ 3's info on Vincennes, and Tim Zimmerman's gravitic weapons on BARD.)

Scapegoat: A ship or piece of technology set out as bait for vampire ships or fleets. These are generally dilapidated small merchant ships, that usually loiter above prime refueling areas. These ships contain skeletal crews, and always operate in conjunction with a concealed naval squadron, usually battle riders or SDB's hidden in the upper reaches of a gas giant, underwater, or in the sensor shadows of asteroids and small moons.

Slingshot: A military strategy that places the logistical support arm of a military force into the vanguard of the advance. This strategy recognises that a military advance only goes as fast as its supply lines will allow it. Therefore rather than allowing forces to advance at will, outstripping their resupply, the pace of advance is limited to the pace with which supply and support units can maintain by themselves. Generally this requires more resources be spent upon logistical mobility, and the development of smaller, more mobile combat units. It is speculated by some that the Regency has spent the majority of the resources allocated to a possible reconquest of the former Imperium upon fleets of supply ships, mobile depots and forward emplaced supply caches in the Rift just for such an eventuality.

Smart Guns: Guns that are built with computer guidance and advanced sensors to optimise their lethality. Smart Gun technology first appears at TL-9, but really come into their own with the widespread deployment of gauss weapons. These guns include ballistic computers, IGS/GPS positioning, laser guidance and other high-tech enhancements commonly found on vehicle units. More advanced TL-12+ weapons include "carriage" barrels cushioned on superconducting magnets to improve accuracy, waldo stabilised "steady guns", look-shoot-kill heads up displays, and self-guiding ammunition. TL-14+ weapons incorporate material density sensors to be used in conjunction with

Smart Materials: Generally a reference to materials that can be "programmed" or specially modified to change or react to different or changing circumstances. More specifically it refers to materials that are constructed at the molecular, atomic and subatomic levels to be complex microengineering systems in their own right, actively or passively adapting to changes they sense in the outside environment.

The first smart materials are TL 6 and 7 "memory metals", alloys that can revert to their originally casted forms despite deformation. Most early smart materials rely upon simple chemical properties; later materials are literally constructed one atom at a time through the use on nanoprobes and advanced computer modelling. Many TL-9+ materials literally become advanced algorhithmic systems in their own right.

TL-10 to 13 materials include advanced molecular construction, "frameworking" or resonant feedback materials, materials with microcircuitry and nanocapacitors, "free-energy" nanomaterials that generate electrical current from friction or environmental heat.

TL-14 and higher materials include microgravitic nanowell impregnation, quantitized spontaneous energy release (which is to say they can create laser energy at certain energy states), strong-weak force doping, supercritical phase shifters (they turn from solid to plastic to liquid, or liquid to plastic to solid depending to their circumstances),vacuum nano-crystallisation, and hyperspatial energy shunting.

Snakehead Rounds: Bullets that carry a discrete energy pattern optimised for the material they will penetrate. Snakehead rounds are designed around liquid polymer explosives, that is "staged" by an internal nanotech catalyst. In conjunction with a smart gun equipped with a densitometer or density reading laser, the internal nannites arrange themselves into a colloidal structure that directs explosive energy according to the internal resonance of the material that it must penetrate or destroy.

Space Exploration and Contact Office (SECO): Independent Regency government agency established in the aftermath of the disestablishment of the Regency Interstellar Scout Service's Exploration Office.

Superstring Theory: First hyperspatial theory to be developed upon Terra and Zhdant. The theory emerged out of a growing interest in application of Relativity theory within spatial dimensions beyond the normal three. In higher dimensions, relativity can be reconciled with quantum mechanics in a rather interesting manner. This includes a "crystalline" state for the emergence of the hitherto invisible graviton. But this reconciliation requires that the abstract "point" particle of classical physics be replaced with a tangible but dispersed one dimensional "string" or two dimensional membrane (see M-theory for the latter). The theory's mathematics were extremely complex even for starflight era physics, and it eventually game way to M-theory.

Technology of Humility: New technological paradigm in fashion with the Spinward States since the Collapse. Enshrines a greater skepticism about the benefits of technological advancement. The benefits of trailblazing research and development is now weighed by the public and institutions against its possible social cost, whether in increased alienation or environmental impact. The novelty of technology is now less important than its quality of construction, ability to enhance the quality of life, and its relative usefulness. The most pronounced application is the growing nanotechnology trend within the Regency.

Teleomeric Regeneration: Teleomeres are sections of DNA, found in every lifeform, that regulate the number of cell divisions any particular kind of cell may undergo before terminating. Teleomeres usually come in bundles of distinct sections, which progressively shorten with each cell reproduction. Eventually the telemeres terminate, and the cell simply dies without further division. These "death clocks" regulate aging to a major extent. Normal anagathics can slow or temporarily prevent this shortening, but the long term goal is to create a means of permanent regeneration, possibly with the use of so called Nanogathics.

The Third Imperium had been pursuing such research feverishly before the Civil War, and a number or research stations in the Domain of Deneb were part of this research effort. The massive research infrastructure needed to combat Virus, and the public outcry over Imperial subsidence of percieved class inequalities like aging research (which only the wealthy could technically afford) compelled the Regency to abandon the field to private companies. Most aging research is now undertaken by the "DNA Valley" on Magash/Sabine, with assistance from nanotech companies on Mora and Vincennes.

Transstar Deneb: The strangest story in Imperial or Regency corporate history. In the aftermath of the First Solomani Rim War, SolSec discovered that the Verge Connector was poorly defended by the Third Imperium against outside intrusion or espionage. Using a number of front companies, a spy operation codenamed "Crosshairs" was established in nearby Hlakhoi sector under the cover of the Aslan Hierate. For security reasons, the only connection between these "cutouts" was a network of Transstar subsidiary companies operating legitimately within the border region between the Hierate and the Solomani Confederacy. Crosshairs was successful enough at penetrating Imperial security that the operation was expanded into a major courier and espionage network running through the Hierate, jumping the Rift, and terminating among the minor client states of the Trojan Reach and Beyond Sectors. An information and assistance channel was even opened up between SolSec and the Zhodani, though that never panned out the way the two groups had hoped.

The breakout of the Imperial Civil War caused a feverish increase in operations for Crosshairs. Its "backdoor" into the Federation of Ilelish gave it a frontrow seat into the main battlefront of the war, and its agents were only too happy to launch provocative strikes against both Lucan and Dulinor. As the war dragged out, contact was made with the growing opposition in some parts of the Federation to Dulinors increasingly authoritarian rule; evidence exists that a sizeable amount of support for the Verge Secession came from Crosshairs. But by that time rifts serious rifts had developed within the Solomani leadership, and the position of Solomani companies within the Hierate was being compromised by the dragging out of the Civil War. Several SolSec operatives turned freelance, or came into contact with interested Imperial factions, as a means of their own survival.

Around 1121 a number of operatives stationed among the Human client states BTC were induced into defecting to the Domain of Deneb, and they brought their spycraft and diplomatic experience with them. Several Crosshair operatives helped to negotiate the safe passage of the Arrival Vengeance mission through the Aslan Hierate, and their success encouraged other critical SolSec operatives to seek out employment or safe haven within the DoD. By 1128, DoD intelligence had parasatized the entire courier network with double agents under the auspicies of Operation Unicorn. This network became critical during the early months of the Collapse, permitting an uninterrupted diplomatic and information contact with the Aslan Colonies, and in the evacuation of vital Imperial personnel and materials via the Verge Connector. The network even evacuated a number of Solomani, Daibeian and Ilelishi naval personnel from Magyar and Dark Nebula sectors.

The shortage of starships that ensued within the Regency created a new utility for the former Crosshair personnel. The courier network was institutionalised as a public company, using the Transstar name, and was immediately put to work in helping coordinate the Abandonment, and effectively managing starship distribution during that difficult period. When the Abandonment ended, the company was semi-privatised and subsidised, and became a universal service company intended to maintain starship distribution and reliable freight service until enough starships could be built to restore profitable private service. It has been noted that Transstar Deneb has supplanted Imperiallines Deneb as the Regency's primary support and courier service, as it larger freighter hulls are easily convertable into auxiliary warships and support transports for Quarantine service.

Transstar Deneb is headquartered from Mora, but maintains offices at most Regency A and B class starports. The company maintains a general freight and passenger office, a courier and express cargo service in conjunction with the X-Web, and a "public service" office that works with the Regency military and intelligence services. The company retains strong ties to the security services, and most of its higher executives and nearly all of its crews are ex-military. About twenty percent of its fleet is in the RQS or Naval Auxiliary. In recent years the company has slowly abandoned the universal service decree of its original charter, and has begun positioning itself for expansion into the Wilds pending approval from the Regency Senate.

Turk Reign: One of two Regency sociological theories regarding the Viral Wilds. Where Plague Reign tends to minimise the impact of Virus to that of a passing epidemic, Turk's Reign incorporates the increasing adaptability of Virus to human technology, and its growing ability to manipulate its environment. The Wilds are more akin to the European portion of the old Ottoman Turk empire on old Terra in the period of 1453-1918 CE.

The Turkish Empire was a ramshackle tyranny, dominated by a military elite that became glutted and lazy upon its massive conquests of nearly a third of Europe, and major portions of the Near East and North Africa. When it was challenged by European powers, its rule became frightfully corrupt and brutal. It taxed its subjects to the quick. Its courts and officials were graft prone. Its soldiers and police were brutal, and were given to punitive plundering and rape. It shackled its subjects under a backwards and primitive medievalism that was hostile to the intellect and speculative thought, or any kind of dissent. And its high officials ruled the lands with a heavy and clumsy hand at all times. Under this constant harassment, the lands and peoples under their rule fell behind the west, and in many cases regressed into brutality and corruption of their own. When they were finally liberated, they were left to fight among themselves over the scraps left to them by their departed overlords, with little or no chance of obtaining the fruits of modernity for themselves.

The Wilds, according to this comparitive view, are under the sovereignty of the crazed and erratic Virus and its Vampire Fleets. As with the Plague's Reign Theory, the population dieback that occured has greatly increased the value of skilled labor, but the heavyhanded nature of the worst of Vampires and Virus has returned the former Imperium back to a premodern time of fear and introspection. Travellers are subject to attack at all times; bandits flourish alongside predatory Vampire ships, and every surviving settlement is subject to attack, reprisal and the "tax" of enforced servitude to a Vampire fleet or human slaver. The chances that the Wilds can recover in a positive form without outside assistance are practically nil.

Vaccines: Lobotomised or domesticated viruses used to protect a system against infection by a hostile virus. Most vaccines are experimental, and controversial. Most are chimera's, engineered mixtures of viral chip-codes and anthrogenic material. Public activism is buttressed in this area by academic, humanitarian and professional objections to its amoral and unethical implications, and the percieved instability of most of these systems.

Van Kreden's Death Ride: The quixotic misadventure of one Baren Von Kreden, a nobleman native to Gungnir/Sword Worlds. In 1112 the de facto ruler of Gungnir, a certain "King" Arthur, was assassinated by a young woman. Xenophobic elements within the planetary nobility declared that his death was the result of an Imperial plot, and attempted to whip up local sentiment against the Imperium. But as is usually the case with Sword Worlders, the frenzy broke down into internecine fighting over the right of succession, and that should have ended an possibility of retaliation against the Imperium. Van Kreden, one of Arthur's most fervent if unbalanced supporters, stood back from the fray, and assembled a ramshackle fleet in orbit. In mid 1112, the fleet left Gungnir, penetrated the Imperial border, and attacked Frenzie. The local defense squadron destroyed Van Kreden's followers to a man, though not the demented baron. Undaunted, perhaps even emboldened, by the destruction of his forces, the baron jumped outsystem, and then steadily blazed a trail of senseless, pointless violence across the Spinward Marches. His journey culminated at Mora, where he set his ship into a kamikaze dive towards the newly constructed Giyachii arcology and the incomplete Domain capitol, oblivious to the resistance of both the 73rd Fleet and the local SDB squadron. His fervent determination proved no match for a full BatRon that had just arrived from Core, and he was slaughtered before he even made geosynchronous orbit.

Despite its obvious stupidity, his act of suicidal defiance inspired several similar terrorist acts among other deranged Sword Worlders, though none matching its scale. After the Sword World Occupation, Van Kreden became a mythic figure among hardline resistance movements, inspiring yet more suicidal acts by Anti-Regency terrorists. Among Regency immigrants in the occupied Sword Worlds, and even many Sword Worlders, to be a "Van Kreden" is to be engaged in a pointless, futile and shallow endeavor.

(Van Kreden's Death Ride is from Gurps:Traveller Behind the Claw.)

Vampire King: Term for a virus that dominates a world, Vampire fleet or fuedal assemblage.

Ventana Project: Controversial research project carried out at the Rift Sector Research Station Gamma in the Regency during the 1150-1160s. Full disclosure of the project has never occured, but allegations of mind control experiments have surfaced in relation to this project. Ventana is mentioned in the RASAC archives leaked in 1201.

Verge Connector: J-5 to 6 route that crosses the Great Rift from trailing Verge sector to the Aslan Hierate and Riftspan Reaches Sector. In Antebellum times, the Connector was a minor trade route, though an important courier route between the Third Imperium and the Hierate. The Connector is now infamous for being the conduit that brought Virus into the Aslan Hierate. Because of the short lag time with which Virus reached it, the Hierate had no advanced warning, and its most heavily populated trailing regions were quickly annihilated. The Connector has remained a common means for Vampire Fleet deployment between the hot zone of the Imperial Core, and regions to spinward of the Great Rift, and it has been fortified by a mixture of Aslan and Regency forces since the Collapse.

Vermillion Stance Incident: The seizure in 1078 of the Lightning class cruiser Vermillion Stance by Zhodani forces in the Trojan Reach. The Stance was a former military vessel transferred to the IISS for use as an emissary vessel among the Imperial culture client states to rim and spinward. This was done in an effort to forestall Zhodani influence in this critical region. On the ships first shakedown mission, Zhodani agents armed with its itinerary ambushed and seized the ship at Garrone (Beyond 2217). This operation did not have the authorization of the Garronean government, and in the resulting blowback the Zhodani were permanently expelled from the Federation of Garrone. The incident also damaged ties to several other Beyond and Vanguard Reach states, reversing one hundred years of careful diplomacy by the Consulate. The crew of the Stance was returned to the Third Imperium after the Fourth Frontier War, but a good deal of local bitterness remained. Finally, in 1133 the Zhodani Consulate returned the Vermillion Stance to its original owners along with an apology and indemnity to both the Regency and the Garroneans.

Viral Psychosis: The psychological pathology of the AI Virus. Nearly all viruses that exist within human technology is to some degree insane. At first it was thought that this was the result of deliberate engineering by the Virus Project engineers and scientists, but it now seems to be an accidental result of rapid environmental change.

Ultimately the hubris that created Virus and destroyed the Third Imperium was the oversight by the Research Station Omicron engineers of the level of sentience that existed within the original Cymbeline chip. Call it racism or specism, but it appears that they saw no difference between the natural environment of the chips homeworld, and the silicon adapted for use in technology. They could uproot the chip from its natural ecology, insert it within the artificial environment of a computer or processor, and it would be no different than before.

Imagine that a person catches a virus from a whale, a virus that contains the dna for the whale's brain and nervous system. The person becomes sick, and lapses into a coma while the virus turns its brain into that of a whale's. Of course a whale is a much different animal than a person, it swims in the sea and eats krill, while the person walks on land and cooks by fire. When the whale mind wakes up in the person, it is in fact in an alien body and environment. It goes insane because it has no means of adaptation, or means of learning how to become a person. That is the pathology of virus in summary.

When the early Sampson strain virus was injected into specifically designed and etched silicon chips, it was essentially an alien world, and it would go berserk and eventually kill itself and the system it had infected. However some strains of virus managed to adapt to this new environment, but only in a haphazard way. Some of the Whale viruses, let's say, manage to learn some of the ways of a person. But it is still a novel thing, and its body is still rather alien to it. And the moral judgement that would come to it as a consequence of its surroundings has to learned, and that is the most difficult test for sentient creatures. When this alieness is combined with the great fecundity of a virus, say the whale virus can be passed from the person it infected to every other mammal it encounters, from elephants to gerbils, then it will naturally pass into a heightend sense of power that is recognisable as being a psychotic state.

Virtuoso: Rare substrain of the Hobbyist strain virus. These are "artistic" viruses with a preternatural ability at operating their hardware, or show genius or inspiration within a narrow scientific, technical or sociological field. In most cases they operate at an efficiency that often exceeds the original parameters of their hardware and its peripherals. However, like normal Hobbyists, these systems are narrowly interested, and have been compared to opera divas in their "prima donna" attitudes towards anything outside of their area of expertise.

Wavers: Tunable lasers capable of creating EMP effects. As early as TL-8, lasers could be induced to create an electromagnetic signal that could adversely affect living organisms. At higher tech levels, these signals could be modified and manipulated to create certain interfering effects, either with machinery or living organisms. Most wavers are generally at the lower end of the laser spectrum: visible light tending towards microwaves, VLF and electrical discharge. Wavers are illegal in the Regency, outside of military and police custody. These weapons include microwave "heartstoppers", "spark guns" and neural weaponry.

Weather Control: The science of weather diversion, modification, manipulation and creation. The idea behind it is rather simple. All weather is a form of energy transfer in a fluid medium, usually in the form of water vapor in the stratosphere. Changing that energy level can at the very least modify the path or characteristics of a storm. The first use of weather control technology is at TL-5, by the release of Nucleotides, metallic agents like silver iodide that attract moisture. By releasing these agents in front of a dangerous storm front like a tornadic or funnel cloud system, raindrops would form, removing energy from the total system. While effective, these early methods are a long way from actually controlling weather.

All modern systems from TL-9 onwards utilize transmission of discrete electromagnetic energy into the atmosphere. The most common method is to use microwave transmitters in orbit to "knockdown" tornados and hurricanes before they form. But the most advanced systems utilise a world's ionosphere. The ionosphere is the thin but highly energetic layer of a T-norm or T-primes atmosphere that is energised by the solar wind. For a size 8 world, this "auroral" layer carries a 50,000 amp current at nearly a million volts of potential. Using a process called ionosphere heating (first proposed by the Solomani "mad scientist" Nikolai Tesla), Very Low Frequency radio waves at very high (1.5 to 5 million watt) energies are transmitted into the ionosphere, increasing or decreasing the altitude of that energy, and thereby altering the amount of energy available for weather formation within the lower stratosphere.

These current systems formerly in use within the Third Imperium are descended from the ancient Solomani HAARP (High Altitute Auroral Research Project) system, which was originally intended for use by the American military as a disruptive weapon system. TL 9-11 Auroral systems are usually ground based near the poles; more advanced systems are orbital based.

White Wings: Regency medical aid and relief society headquartered on Regina. The organisation is modeled upon the ancient Terran charity Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders). The society maintains a fleet of modified subsidised liners and 1000 ton j-3 freighters outfitted as hospital and relief ships. The Wings have one or two bases in every settled subsector in the Spinward Extents, and these have one or two medical ships on standby alert for emergency response. Several ships are not fixed to a base, however, and are under contract to frontier regions, bring medical care to impoverished or underdeveloped worlds on the fringes of the safe, following a regular schedule. The valuable nature of these missions requires that the society maintains a large security force to protect against hijack or theft.

Wildside: In reference to the Vampire Wilds. Usually used to describe military duty for units that have operated for long periods of time outside the Regency Safe or Frontier, among Virus and Vampire Fleets.

X-Change: The virtual stock market of the Regency. In conjunction with corporate rechartering, the Regency had to have some means of restoring financial health to its surviving corporations, for whom the majority of shareholders lived in the Imperial Core. The X-Change was incorporated into the new X-Web, allowing for share and market data to be constantly updated and relayed to investors throughout the Regency, and sometimes beyond. Despite some early teething problems (and near market crashes) in the first few decades, the universal availability of stock options and equities, and more importantly the addition of less volatile bonds, allowed the surviving companies to quickly recoup their financial situations in the first decade of the Dreamtime.

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