A Rake by Starlight

A Rake by Starlight - Enter
A Rake by Starlight - Chapter 28
WHEREIN the Crew puts Two and Two Together, and the Sum is Expensive

An unusual gathering of firepower convinces Fyis that someone decided to get a drink at the wrong bar.

Wedged between the borders of the Alliance of Free Worlds and the Empire of the Radiant Throne is a cluster of planetary systems that, while comparatively small in size, represent the third largest power in known space. This power is not military, but economic: and that power rivals, perhaps even exceeds, anything either superpower can bring to bear.

The Free Trade Baronies are, essentially, corporations that grew so large that their infrastructures encompassed worlds, then solar systems. In time the logistics involved in supporting these corporate monstrosities grew so complex that...

Historically speaking, the Empire of the Radiant Throne is a relatively new phenomenon: it is only a few centuries old. In that time, however, it has grown quickly and aggressively, far more quickly than the AFW, and is now the second largest government in known space, consisting of at least 50,000 worlds and still expanding.

The Empire of the Radiant Throne (or simply the “Radiant Throne,” or “The Throne” as it is known among its member worlds) is a theocracy. The state religion appears to be an offshoot of an obscure Christian sect that was originally known as the Cult of the Mind...

The AFW was created shortly after the conclusion of the Psi Wars. Its purpose was simple: to provide for the military defense of member worlds and systems. Since that time its purpose has expanded somewhat, and its size dwarfs all other governing bodies in known space. The AFW is comprised of more than 75,000 habitable star systems: it’s closest competitor, the Empire of the Radiant Throne, is only two thirds that size.

In 1867 HTD (Historical Terran Dating), Terran physicist James Clerk Maxwell articulated a thought experiment that described a whimsical method of violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In this thought experiment, an imaginary container was divided into two parts by an insulated wall. In the wall was a door that could be opened and closed by a “finite being.” This “finite being” would only allow “hot” (fast) molecules to pass through the door to one side of the wall, and would only allow “cold” (slow) molecules to pass through the door to the other side of the wall. The end result...

A superluminal drive, rather than a subluminal engine, is the technology that allows modern spacecraft to move at speeds significantly beyond the speed of light.

Unlike subluminal drives, which come in forms and encompass a wide range of approaches to providing propulsion at sublight speeds, there is only one technology capable of “breaking the light barrier:” the Artificial Tachyon Induction Field, produced by an Artificial Tachyon Induction Drive, or ATID.