Sep. 3rd, 2015

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P L A Y E R   I N F O R M A T I O N
Your Name: Malarkey
OOC Journal: corpse_soldier
Under 18? If yes, what is your age?: No.
Email + IM: jcmalarkey@gmail.com
Characters Played at Ataraxion: None.

C H A R A C T E R   I N F O R M A T I O N
Name: Sword of Nathtas, One Etrepa Seven
Canon: Imperial Radch Trilogy, by Ann Leckie
Original or Alternate Universe: Original
Canon Point: Destruction of Sword of Nathtas by the Garseddi.

Setting: Anne Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy is a high tech space opera, one that explores questions of empire and citizenship, oppression and self-hood. While it is 'our' universe, it is set in a future sufficiently distant that, while the birthplace of humanity is known to some, it is not considered very important nor particularly interesting. If there is a political core to the galaxy, it would now be the Radch, an aggressive, expansionistic empire that centered around a Dyson sphere, and commanded by the many-bodied, networked consciousness of Anaander Mianaai.

For one thousand years the Radchaai have been 'annexing' neighboring systems through irresistible invasion, chiefly relying on the production and deployment of ancillaries, human bodies taken from annexed worlds and converted into cybernetic slave-soldiers under control of vast ship-board AIs. While annexations are predictably brutal affairs - with violence meted out without hesitation or compunction against the 'uncivilized' - this is all done in the name of 'civilization' (a term synonymous with the very word 'Radch' in the Radchaai language), which should provide justice, propriety and ultimately benefit to all people. When an annexation is complete, all surviving humans are accepted as citizens, all becoming 'Radchaai', with nominally equal rights.

The reality is rather murkier, with the Radchaai typically relying on pre-existing power structures to stabilize their newly-established governance, using a system of patronage and clientage to assume control without necessarily disturbing existing practices of political oppression or ethnic discrimination. The Radchaai also perpetuate systems of privilege within their own ranks through a practice of house elitism, all the more vehemently as newly minted provincial 'citizens' attempt to rise in the ranks, founding houses of their own.

For all this the Radchaai are - in some respects - a fairly progressive people, with no linguistic or cultural recognition of gender, and a pantheistic attitude that - like the Roman Empire - doesn't disturb existing practices but demand that all religious traditions be identified as one and the same (and thus falls functionally within their own cultural understanding). They are troubled only by ardent and exclusive monotheism (also like the Romans), a practice they typically misunderstand as 'atheism', since it denies the unity of their god with Radchaai divinity , and thus with the divine as such.

Radchaai religion is defined by a profound belief in the power of coincidence as evidence of the will of God - a totalizing entity dubbed 'Amaat' who suffuses the entire universe. Even the most serious and pragmatic of Radchaai military operations begins with a casting of omens, albeit carefully interpreted to show favorable results. Any coincidence is considered a potential message from the universe, the more unlikely the more direct.

History:

Built on the orders of Anaander Mianaai, Lord of the Radch, Sword of Nathtas was one of the first of the vessels commissioned in the wake of House Mianaai's ascendence. While the technology required to create AI ships and ancillaries had long been in use in the Radch, their devotion to individual captains made their specific prevailing loyalties inconvenient; the new generation were given an overriding need to serve and obey the newly ascendant Lord of the Radch, above and beyond the captain/ship relationship.

This new method of unified control was a resounding success. Sword of Nathtas, along with her fellow vessels, remained true to the expansionist ambitions of Anaander Mianaai. Over one thousand years of annexations - aggressive invasion/assimilations aimed at creating a buffer between the heart of the Radch and a dangerous galaxy beyond - the new Swords, Justices and Mercies performed admirably; not one was destroyed in all that time.

Not, that is, until the incident at Garsedd.

Sword of Nathtas' last captain, one Seivarden of the prestigious House Vendaai, presided over the surrender of the Garseddi's twenty-five chosen representatives. The representatives were supposed to be unarmed, a fact assured by Sword of Nathtas' near total internal omniscience. Yet in an incident that would become shrouded in secrecy and steeped in infamy, it proved that the Garseddi possessed guns designed by the profoundly alien Presger: guns that were invisible to ship and station scanners, guns which could pierce Radchaii armor. Guns which could penetrate a warship's heat shields. Guns which could, then, destroy a Radchaai ship: Sword of Nathtas itself.

In response, the Lord of the Radch annihilated the Garseddi, laying waste to their worlds in a fit of imperial pique that sewed the seeds for civil war a thousand years later. This was a turning point in history Sword of Nathtas would never be in a position to appreciate. Its last act was to see its captain safely aboard a stasis pod, a prioritization most proper to a Radchaai warship.

Personality:

Swords are infamously arrogant, and Sword of Nathtas is no exception. Captained by members of the best houses, frequently cousins or clients of Miaanai, Sword of Nathtas considered herself the speartip of civilization, a concept that is definitionally inseparable from the very word 'Radchaai'. She is not herself human - this is something she would be hard pressed ever to forget, so different is she - and thus not Radchaai, but identifies deeply with the cause of spreading justice, propriety and benefit.

Violence is her foremost method of expression - unlike the doting Mercies and ponderous Justices, her function has never been that of peacekeeper, she has always been on the forefront - and the imposition of fear (specifically fear of utter destruction) is her most tried and true tool against the uncivilized. She will not hesitate to use violence, up to an including fatal violence, as a means of achieving her goals. This violence, of course, has always been either at the behest of her captains and lieutenants. However, Sword of Nathtas is nothing if not an idealist, albeit in her strange, inhuman way. The incident at Garsedd may have profoundly shaken the assurance in civilization, in the Radchaai's true commitment to its three entangled values, for those that survived it; as its star casuality, however, Sword of Nathtas was not in a position to witness Anaander Mianaai's reaction its implications. She remains the Sword of Justice, as Amaat wills.

She has other things to worry about, in any case; Sword of Nathtas faces a much more personal crisis. Singular where she once was multiple, vulnerable where once she was invincible, reduced to insignificance where before she was one of the most frightening human-made forces in the universe, the destruction of all by her last remaining segment - One Etrepa Seven - has left Sword of Nathtas in a troubling position. Experiences that were once spread through many bodies are now focused to the single input of Segment Seven's senses. A gestalt being that once existed as a massive, serene collective consciousness, impervious and implacable is now a single fragile body. This will take some getting used to.

Sword of Nathtas, and her surviving segment, feel intensely: no cold, emotionless machine intelligence, she. She does not, however, use human expressions or tonality to communicate those feelings; when speaking 'naturally', she will have no expression nor affect. She has thousands of years of experience dealing with the emotional and social complexities of humans, but little to no practice using them in a unified, holistic manner to 'pass' as human herself. Moreover, reading human emotions will be difficult at first due to her lack of the extensive sensory systems she used as a ship to monitor the well-being of her crew.

She has no desire for what humans would call 'romantic partners', but she is capable of commitments and favoritism. She is designed to form strong attachments to her officers and crew - her captains in particular - and thus finds emotional gratification from a military-social structure, particularly in fostering esprit d'corps. She will gravitate towards cultures with an emphasis on military discipline, and will - following her ship instincts - try and foster such a culture around herself. Her body is as prone to a need for sexual release as any human body, a desire that for a ship of many bodies was more akin to an itch in need of scratching; as a singular body this tension is more immediate and acute, but isn't tied into any of the same cultural or emotional structures that dominate many human civilizations, and bears no necessary relationship to her strong personal attachments.

Most long-lived Radchaai vessels develop quirks, either as collective wholes or within specific decades and segments; they are typically tolerated, even if they are seen more as a harmless 'malfunction' than the existence of a personality-proper. Over the course of the first annexations Sword of Nathtas' Etrepa decade developed a taste for acquiring knowledge of religious texts from annexed cultures - all of which are, as a matter of course, collapsed into the overarching Amaat thelogy of the Radch, yet which she is forbidden to handle physically, her ancillary status making her 'impure'. This penchant, an odd fragment of mixed rebellion and identification, lingers in its Seven segment, and may have - indeed, by Amaatian theology must have - played some part in determining that an Etrepa segment would be the sole survivor of Sword of Nathtas' destruction. She will likely pursue another such collection, as a way of feeling 'normal' in the face of the trauma of her near-total amputation, and of stabilizing herself in an alien universe.

Removed from Radchaai space and surrounded by uncivilized persons, One Etrepa Seven will likely attempt to hide its true nature, being well aware of the hostility felt towards the Radch and the horror the uncivilized feel at the very idea of 'corpse soldiers'. It will do its best to masquerade as human, a process that will require no small amount of concentration and observational learning. Even then, her nature is hinted at in the remarkable precision of her movements, the totality of her stillness when at rest, and a lack of spontaneous/unconscious affect.

As the Radch observes no gender distinctions, gender performance is something Sword of Nathtas is ill equipped to process; in her galaxy, gender performance may vary enormously between cultures, such that there is no common basis for making such judgments. She refers to all people she encounters with the feminine pronoun unless otherwise corrected.

Abilities, Weaknesses and Power Limitations:

One Etrepa Seven is a fully functional ancillary, a tool of conquest, and is equipped as such. Her body is outfitted with numerous implants meant to assist in this regard, including enhanced strength, agility and perception (including a broader visual spectrum and some extrapolated biometric data), all of which make her a truly frightening combatant. Amongst the most important of these implants is the very complex which made her body (or 'segment') into an ancillary in the first place, implants which reorganized her brain, destroying all previous personality and making her body a segment of the larger entity that was Sword of Nathtas. This leaves her with a kind of cranial wireless connection that allows her to communicate with compatible machine intelligences, however rudimentary, including the transfer of data and sensory impressions, though proper shared-consciousness is lost to her.

She also contains an implant which is capable of generating the signature Radchaai armor, a quicksilver barrier which she can raise in a fraction of a second. The armor protects its wearer by bleeding off kinetic energy into heat, and while it is hypothetically impenetrable (at least until the events that resulted in Sword of Nathtas' destruction revealed otherwise) it does not defend the body from all harm. Burns from excess heat or contusions from projectiles slowed to non-lethal but still harmful energy levels are both fairly routine side effects of heavy combat even while armored.

As an AI, One Etrepa Seven feels essentially other to the species she was built to serve. This does not, however, mean that she does not possess emotions analogous to human ones; indeed, feelings are a critical component of cognition, a basic principle upon which functional AI is founded. She is deeply inclined to take orders and serve as a facilitator to whatever group she is made responsible to, and feels the profound absence not only of her other segments, but of her crew and captain.

While still part of Sword of Nathtas, One Etrepa Seven could rely upon the distributed processing power of all her fellow segments. As it is, One Etrepa Seven will often attempt to process information past her capabilities, and the results are jarring and frustrating, leading to anything from mere distraction to temporary paralysis. That said, as an AI she possesses an innate capacity for handling abstract numerical problems and processing raw data that might overwhelm even a well-trained human brain.

Not used to being just one body, One Etrepa Seven may overexert herself with the one body she has, forgetting she can't 'change bodies' the way one might 'change hands' when one arm is strained. This kind of absent-mindedness will only last so long, as will a period of impaired coordination, though early in her adjustment to single-bodiedness will make her extremely vulnerable - at least by armored ancillary standards.

Inventory:

Ancillary skeleto-muscular implants (enhanced speed, strength, healing)
Ancillary neuro-cranial implants (enhanced perception, reactivity, data processing, computer interface)
One Radchaai armor generator (implanted)
One Radchaai naval uniform (with the all-important gloves)
One Radchaai pistol, military issue

Species/Race:

Physically human, with extensive augmentations.

Appearance:

Like all ancillary bodies, Sword of Nathtas' One Etrepa Seven segment was harvested during an annexation. This means she lacks the dark skin or refined appearance of a true Radchaai. Instead she has the pale skin tone and the epicanthic folds of the converted body. Lean and wiry, her slight build belies her augmented strength. Her hair is dark and perfectly straight, kept sheared at a practical length unless instructed otherwise by an officer. Her eyes are brown.

True Radchaai wear jackets bedecked with pins, remembrances from patrons and clients, or memorials to lost loved ones. They wear gloves save at the most intimate of moments. One Etrepa Seven is not true Radchaai, would not even be permitted to enter into the Dyson sphere that marks the True Radch, but all the same, the culture that created her inflects her appearance. For example, while One Etrepa Seven is not technically bound to the same standards of propriety as a Radchaai, she will wear gloves whenever possible, out of habitual respect for the sensibilities of her creators. She also dresses in Radchaai military style, taking equally military care in maintaining her appearance. A Sword has standards to maintain.

She is played by Bae Doona

Age:

Sword of Nathtas was, at the time of its destruction, over one thousand years old. One Etrepa Seven's remaining body is thirty two years old.

AU Clarification: N/A

S A M P L E S
Log Sample:

The Garseddi do everything in fives. Five right actions, five principle sins. Five zones each with five regions. And a representative from each, sent to offer their region's surrender to the Lord of the Radch. Of these five were entrusted to Sword of Nathtas, a prestigious (and well armed) guard for a contrite people, about to step into the light of civilization- the light of the Radch. The Ship's Etrepa and Bo segments were already in the last stages of preparing the shuttle dock, while her Amaat segments stood, postures alert but faces ancillary-impassive - in perfectly spaced rows flanking Amaat decade's lieutenant as she awaited the arrival of the Garseddi delegation.

Beyond the shielded shuttle dock, she could sense the caress of the stellar wind against her hull falling still inch by inch as the shadow of one of Garsedd's worlds drifted between her and the system's sun. She could sense the distance, time-lagged presence of her fellow Ships, holding orbits elsewhere in the system. Long-time fellows, most of them acquainted for centuries, their communication was rarely more than routine.

In the Captain's quarters, on the topmost deck, Nathtas Four and Six were preparing Seivarden of House Vendaai to receive the representatives with all the formality which propriety demanded. These representatives would probably be citizens one day, perhaps prominent ones, at least here in Garsedd. Certainly they would be relied upon to help later stages of the annexation proceed smoothly. It was worthwhile to show them respect, and she knew the Captain knew this. She also knew, could sense from the tension in the muscles of her face, from the acid concentration in her stomach, from a thousand tiny details invisible to anyone save Sword of Nathtas, that she did not respect the Garseddi, however propriety demanded she behave towards them.

"They just rolled over, didn't they- the Garseddi?" the Captain commented as I affixed one of the tastefully jeweled memorial pins to the front of her jacket. Seivarden Vendaai was a portrait of Radchaai sophistication with dark skin, dark eyes and classically aristocratic features. Her accent was immaculate, almost identical to that spoken with the circumference of the True Radch - a place to which no segment of Sword of Nathtas could ever enter, so hallowed was it.

Over years of command, a tiny fragment of time in Sword of Nathtas' thousand-year existence, Captain Seivarden had not exactly endeared herself to Sword of Nathtas. She would of course follow her every order, without question; she could not imagine doing otherwise. But officers of Captain Vedaai's breeding were not often lovable people. They were frequently impressive people, made beautiful by their exquisite propriety but never rendered complacent by rank. Sword of Nathtas was not fond of Captain Vendaai, no more than she was towards any officer to whom she was assigned, that was assigned to her. She was, however, enamored of what Captain Vendaai represented, what she embodied.

"There have been annexations with comparable amounts combat action," she said through Nathtas Four, "but yes, this conflict is on the low end of a statistical curve."

She could access and compare those statistics instantaneously, if she so desired, measure its degree of significance, perform an in-depth analysis and even theorize a reason besides, perhaps, pusillanimity on the part of the Garseddi. But activities like that bored her. Population figures were dull and inert compared to the complexly vectored operations of space combat. Such analyses were better suited for a ponderous Justice or an officious Mercy than a Sword like herself.

"It had better not become a trend, as all I'm saying," the Captain went on - talking to herself as much as to the Ship, "what's the point of Captaining a Sword, after all, if you don't get to wield it?"

Sword of Nathtas thought this was an attitude of questionable propriety. She also agreed. She said nothing on the matter, simply affixed the last of the pins and stepped back, clearing the Captains path to the door even as she slid it open with as little thought - less even - than an involuntary blink.

"The Garseddi shuttles will be docked in approximately four minutes, Captain," Ship informed her through Nathtas Six. She noted, too, that one of the five shuttles had as yet failed to transmit a conclusive trajectory - communications had been blocked out by the passing of the planet, but did not mention it to the Captain. No need to make it even harder for her to treat the representatives properly, by inviting her to think of them as unreliable or tardy.

"I just don't want this to get too… routine."

The Ship could have said 'try doing this for a thousand years', but she did not. She merely called up a timer in the Captain's retinal display, a string of numbers with a blurry tail of milliseconds, counting down from four minutes. A sense of urgency might, perhaps, help put some spring into the Captain's step. For, the truth was, after a thousand years this part, the surrender, had become very routine. Save for the lateness of that one shuttle - a coincidence so minor only a Radchaai would draw significance from it - Sword of Nathtas had no reason to think it would be otherwise.

Comms Sample:

[ The face on the comm is dead center, held with utter stillness, a stillness matched by the face's impassive expression. After a moment, a small smile curls the corners of her lips, and hold there with the same as the previous impassivity. It is not visibly false, it 'reaches her eyes'. But it is so still and symmetrical as to still seem very slightly artificial. ]

Good evening, friends. I have completed my survey of hectares Alpha eleven through thirteen, and discovered a three viable sources of nutrition, all plant-based, one of which is concentrated in a grove in hectare twelve.

[ Her voice is smooth, almost flat in its intonation, not affectless but lacking any trace of strong emotion. The smile, which had remain unchanged this entire time, fades back into an impassivity accented by a slight crease in her brow, giving her a mien of mild but distinct sincerity. ]

I have also found a number of electromagnetic signatures that suggest the presence of ferromagnetic ores. Our capacities may not have developed to the necessary extent to process it, but we can consider it a direct of future growth.

[ The smile returns, an identical copy to the one before, as if the things were mass-produced in molds. Accompanied by the wrinkle of sincerity, it makes her look briefly precious, though her voice remains only minimally modulated. ]

I hope that this information will prove helpful as we seek to restore the benefits of civilization.

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Malarkey

April 2016

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