May 2018 Archives

These are the highest echelon of officers within the Imperial military. The biggest distinction is that they are specifically trained and expected to make decisions regarding the destruction of planets and major habitats, and whether it's an intelligent or beneficial thing to be doing under the circumstances. Once again, staff ranks are not in the chain of command.

Colonel Candidate insignia: white star on black background. This is the only rank in the commissioned range that is in chain of command but does not have a specific command assignment. This is a trainee rank, assigned to a more senior commander.

Colonel insignia:purple star generally the operations or executive officer of an army group

group colonel insignia:green star commander of an army group of 60^6 combat troops plus support elements, In terms of precedence, the rank is equal to but after a civilian Tertius; all higher ranks have precedence over a Tertius

staff colonel insignia:white star on white This is a staff rank

first colonel insignia:red star on black background. Generally the operations/executive officer of an Alliance of three army groups

Alliance colonel insignia:gold star Commanding officer of an Alliance 3 * 60^6 combat troops plus support elements

Master colonel insignia:blue star Operations/executive officer of a System of 4 Alliances

System commander insignia:2 purple stars Commander of a System of 12*60^6 combat troops plus support elements. At this grade, the command pyramid becomes steeper. Generally, from this point upwards, an officer is promoted into command, and then when they are believed to be ready for the next grade, given an in-grade assignment as executive/operations officer of the next command echelon up, commanding several officers theoretically equal in rank to them.

Staff commander insignia:2 white stars on white is a staff assignment

Commander insignia:2 green stars Commander of a System Group of 5 systems, or 60^7 combat troops plus staff elements. In terms of precedence, this grade is equal to but after a civilian Quartius

Tour Commander insignia: 2 red stars Commander of a Tour of three System groups, or 3*60^7 combat troops plus support elements

First commander insignia:2 gold stars Commander of a Tour Group of four Tours, or 12*60^7 combat troops

Strategist commander insignia:2 segmented white stars on white This is the last and highest ranking staff assignment possible

Sector Commander insignia:2 blue stars commands a Sector of five Tour Groups, or 60^8 combat troops. In terms of precedence, ranks with but after a civilian Quintus.

General insignia:3 gray stars commands a Sector Group of three Sectors, or 3* 60^8 combat troops

First General insignia:3 purple stars commands a Subprefect of four Sector Groups, 12*60^8 combat troops

Prefect General insignia: 3 green stars Commands a Prefect of Five Subprefects, or 60^9. In terms of precedence, ranks with but after a civil Sixtus

Group General insignia:3 red stars Commands a Prefect Group of three Prefects, or 3*60^9 combat troops

Master General insignia:3 gold stars Commands a Subquadrant of four Prefect Groups, or 12*60^9 combat troops.

Quadrant General insignia:3 blue stars Commands a Quadrant of five Subquadrants, or 60^10 combat troops. Ranks with but after a Civilian Septimus

FInally, we get into what the Empire considers Flag Grades, officers important enough to have an influence upon the entire military of the Empire. They ranks still go with specific command assignments, but the number of combat troops actually commanded can vary significantly. These ranks are:

Commodore insignia:White triangle on black

Senior Commodore insignia: purple triangle

First Commodore insignia: green triangle, commanding roughly 60^11 combat troops, ranking with but after a civilian Octus

Admiral red triangle

Senior Admiral gold triangle

Supervisor blue triangle The Seniormost military officer in the Empire. Ranks with but after a civilian Nonus

The beginning of this book is more than mildly confusing, even contradictory in places, but it does manage to introduce the story and the setting without a massive infodump. There are a lot of plot threads left hanging, or begun and simply left, but I don't consider that necessarily a bad thing. Real life is messy like that, and there are sequels.

The characters mostly do what they do for reasons that make sense to the characters. There are really only two minor characters who seem to have their actions dictated by 'my character card says I'm evil.' There are a few character actions that don't make sense, but they are mostly ignorable.
The story is a little light on over-arching plot - it seems to be in the nature of a prequel, developing characters for later use. This is the main reason I'm giving it a seven out of ten rating, instead of a higher one. By Amazon standards, a four star book. The fact it took me a couple of weeks to finish is not a reflection of the story, but rather my limited free time.

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It was a World Tree.

Not the entire world of Migurd, but there was a gigantic tree connecting the surface far below us to the entrance to Aescalon. It might as well have been a World Tree, as bent and gnarled as any jeebroak on the windswept Plains of Judgment on Nexus, but still challenging most mountain spires for height. The tree was massive, far bigger than the aperture we'd just transited, even at its crown at least twenty times the height of a man in thickness. It was drenched in mud and soil and pebbles and rocks of all sizes, anywhere there was anything resembling a horizontal surface, and the course of a river ran downwards from here, perhaps all the way to the surface two ithirds beneath us. The riverbed was largely dry at the moment, but I had no doubts that it could become a raging cataract on almost no notice. Everywhere, lesser trees rose from its rough, almost corrugated bark; bushes and lesser plants down to mosses and lichens clung where-ever there might be moisture. Pools formed where the bark and the dirt or mud allowed. Loose rocks and gemstones lay where they had been swept by the latest flood. Birds and small animals went about their business, unperturbed by our passing. The air was alive with the sounds of alpine forest, birdsong, the buzzing of insects, and the occasional chittering of rodents.

As we exited the transition zone and real gravity returned, I re-activated my cart's anti-gravity. It was returned to normal function, but I took just enough weight off the wheels to minimize the effort I needed to pull the cart. Haraldsson might be oblivious to the fact that my cart was now much easier to pull; but he'd have to take notice if the wheels stopped turning. I wanted to blend in as much as possible for now.
"There are often storms here around Ygg," he said, playing the role of tour guide "We've gotten lucky today. There are usually clouds, and sometimes the wind gets so fierce you have to hang on for your life. Occasionally, even Ygg must break in the face of the storms. Every year, someone gets blown to their deaths when the place they chose breaks off."

But the storms that tested Ygg, also fed it. Everywhere the vegetation was the verdant green of well-watered plant life, except where riots of colorful flowers in every possible combination obscured that green covering. I wondered that the toxic stew of metals and other elements and the compounds they could form hadn't poisoned everything from here to the plains far below, but evidently Ygg and its inhabitants had been here for a long time. They had quite likely evolved to incorporate the witches' brew into their biochemistry, which explained why the animals I saw were completely unconcerned about our presence.
As a purple squirrel-like rodent popped up and chittered at us, its fur tinted by permanganate, Jarl Haraldsson confirmed my hypothesis. "Don't eat any of the plants or creatures of Ygg. Even if they look edible, they're poisonous. Nobody knows why. We can share rations with you if you require." He was solicitous with a purpose - he wanted my knowledge of how to handle the diligar, or as much of it as he could use.

I could have told him why the life here was poisonous, but he wouldn't have understood. "I accept, and will share in my turn if the journey has not ruined my food," I told him.

There was a wide road along the great trunk, down the tree by the circuitous route offered by the tree. Now that we'd walked a little way, I'd had a chance to observe that there was a mountain beneath us, the detritus of all that had been swept off Ygg built up on the plain. Periodic glimpses informed me that a town or city covered most of that mountain. I didn't know if Ygg itself was the first of its kind, or if it had periodically toppled and been replaced. Perhaps as we descended, I'd discover that Ygg was several trees twined together. I was actually getting curious. As noted, this place broke all the rules we thought we knew.

One conclusion that I found strongly supported by evidence: however aged and enormous, Ygg was vibrantly alive, and being nourished by the strange energy that I'd noticed in the waters of Aescalon, which tickled half my operant senses with its seemingly boundless energy. It was therefore plausible that Ygg had been here a long time, possibly even geological time, constantly replenished by the power it was being fed. Ygg may have been ancient, but it was green and growing, verdantly alive and healthy.


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