Worldbuilding for Blackguards and Plaster Saints

Over 1k words of long rambly scifi worldbuilding bits… and Kipling. Who says my Muses don’t know how to throw a good party? *grin*

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy how’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;

— Rudyard Kipling, Tommy, “Barrack Room Ballads”, 1892.

So I was thinking of a way to file the serial numbers off of Imaginary Gate Team 5 (mostly because I wasn’t sure if it could be done) and this is what I came up with. It doesn’t match as well as intended, but now what my Muses have a’hold of it, they’re refusing to let go. The title is a working ‘verse title, which I am rather fond of, but may change as I am pretty sure I’m not allowed to make off with Kipling quotes. ^_~

Yes, well, on with it then…

Basic premise: Modern day, a giant spaceship roughly the size of Australia shows up in far orbit bringing news of an approaching interstellar war. In forty years the current battleground will have shifted to include the Sol system. The ship offers protection for the system if Earth is willing to join in the interstellar defense. The Earth has one year to respond the unusual terms of the agreement.

What terms? (you ask)

Habited planets desiring protection are required to donate ten percent of their population to the war effort. This is ten percent in fifty mile radius chunks, so it’s not like some jerk can just suggest they donate a third world country or two (which is suggested anyways because there’s always one jerk out there just waiting for the chance). Neither the initial ‘donated’ population, nor their offspring will be returned to Earth before the war is over. As the conflict is expected to last at least another thousand years, going home again is a moot point (as the two populations then would have nothing in common).

The donation of planetary population is voluntary; Earth has the choice to refuse. The ship sends down little tagging podstations which implant transponders into those who volunteer. On the given date and time folks with the implant will be transported up to the ships via teleporter.

The catch is that if less than fifty percent of the required donation step up, the ship will just leave. If more that fifty percent (but not one hundred) join up… the ship will choose at random the remaining population needed, within the fifty miles radius of the incomplete pods. Evacuation of these circles will simply shift the requirement to the circle in which the people moved. So there is still some gerrymandering to come.

‘Donations’ must be in good health (although some problems can be treated by the ship and are not considered disqualifying), younger than thirty-five years and older than five. Gender, race, education, none of that matters, all the ship cares about is that they are good stock to build from. Preferably an even gender split, but the ship has facilities to create its own test-tube kids so it’s not overly worried.

The ship will be leaving the system the day after the deadline. In return for the donations, the ship will provide a copy of all it’s accumulated knowledge as well as nanoseeding the asteroid belt, which will begin construction of Earth’s own defense fleet as well as another massive harvester ship. It will also provide them with intrasystem ships and instructions for how best to assimilate the new knowledge into the population. i.e. Powerleveling on a planetary scale.

[insert a years worth of socio-political chaos here]

So the ship ends up with about eighty-five percent and after a last warning during the final week, it starts picking up random people.

6.6 billion people currently = 660 million people on the ship

And lo, this feels familiar, so someone has already done this I’m sure, but as my Muses are strange I’m working on it anyways. Because if no two people tell the Arthurian Legend the same way, I think I have some leeway with interstellar wars. ^_~ *grin*

Anywho, so a whoooooole bunch of people in stasis with only a few thousand awake. These are the ones who fit a certain psychological profile that the ship finds most useful. i.e. Those folks who are least likely to flip out. Ship then explains all about harvester ships, the interstellar war, the fact that the ships are a small part of a multi-species conglomerate and that some of them will be allowed to return home to fight on Earth’s ships once the war hits their system.

The harvester is actually not intending to keep the newcomers onboard permanently, as it is moving to another system to repeat the harvesting process. As they go through the basic acclimation and education programs they will be transported to other ships across the galaxy. Depending on talent and inclination, folks are split out into different jobs and different levels of alien interaction.

The ships were actually built by a race long dead, and are functional AIs. They can build other ships and do many of the repairs themselves, but are inherently committed to fighting the great war and thus have chosen to stay even when their original ‘parents’ have died off. There is lots and lots of advanced tech sitting around, some the ship knows about and some it’s scavenged and has no idea how it works. Sort of like a floating garage sale. It’s constantly sifting through the debris of past and present civilizations, trying to absorb as much information as it can.

The other side of the interstellar war is (sadly) the other half of the dead race. They are mostly interested in keeping the ships from interfering in primitive cultures. Those cultures that Side B determines have been ‘corrupted’ by Side A are ‘reset’ to point zero. (Which means wiping out all traces of civilization but leaving the people intact. Instant Dark Ages sort of thing.) Logically it means that if the ship had bypassed Earth that Earth never would have been in danger, but isn’t quite true. Side B is given to resetting cultures ‘just in case’ and Side A is now on a mission to powerlevel the entire universe (without really caring overly much about what happens to the planets after the war has moved on).

So Side A isn’t all that Good(tm) and Side B isn’t all that Bad(tm), which leaves our intrepid heroes a little annoyed with the whole darned thing.

Now, assuming this fun setup, we have several time periods and places to play. We’ve got the year of chaos, the thirty-nine years between the ship and the war (both on the planet and on the ship) and the war itself, and then the planet after the war (which is, what a hundred years or so?)

Assuming that the plucky humans can’t affect the overall outcome of the war, one does feel inclined to give them a chance to say ‘leave us the hell alone’ and kick out both sides. Which would lead to the formation of a third front… except that this has happened before (as humans aren’t the only plucky species) and that means there are other fiefdoms out there in the wake of the war.

So, erm, make that a third age? (Pre-War, War, Post-War)

I do so love my insane little plotbunnies.

*wanders off to work out more of the ‘And Stars Will Burn’ endless war-type storyline*

Okay, amusing side note. The war can be boiled down to: Side A = Open Source, Side B = Prime Directive. So now I have visions of Penguins going to war with Starfleet and I am amused. ^_^

Math bits:

Earth total landmass: 148,939,063.133 sq km
square km to square miles x 0.3861
57,505,372.27 sq miles (maybe)
With one transponder-bot every 50 miles = 1,150,107.44 bots
660,000,000 people = 573.91 per bot avg (give or take)

Now then, 660 million people in storage pods =
Pod length 2m x 660 mil = 132,000,000,000 cm = 1,320,000 km
Pod width 1m x 660 mil = 66,000,000,000 cm = 660,000 km
Pod height 1m x 660 mil = 66,000,000,000 cm = 660,000 km

1,320,000 x 660,000 x 660,000 just for the storage pods is… erm, large. A little too large actually, assuming a ship with interior space roughly the size of Australia (which is a lot of assuming, so sue me. *grin*) 7,617,930 sq km

So what say we take that transporter tech and use it to put them in storage buffers, eh?

*wanders off again*


Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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