Dan Melson: March 2018 Archives

These ranks have the same sort of legal status that NCOs and Warrant Officers have in the US Army - their commissions are delegated, given by more senior ranks within the Imperial Military.

Delegated Commissions are important within the military of a given star system. Depending upon the importance of the system, one rank or another of delegated commission is generally the most senior officer in the system, and any one of them might be the senior officer on duty in the event of an attack. Since attacks in the age of Vector Drive are brutally intense and can destroy planets or other important installations in seconds, they have to be on top of the situation at all times. A few of the most important systems may have more senior officers assigned, and a few of the least populated systems may have someone still in the sergeant grades for a system commander, but in the vast majority of systems, the senior military officer is in the Ensign, Lieutenant, or Captain grades.

The vast majority of these officers are in Tactical Space or Strategic Space units, because it's a spaceborne assault and defense that decides the outcome of the vast majority of all battles. Most Planetary Surface units are assigned a space within a larger type of unit subordinate to a Tactical Space or Strategic Space commanding officer. Delegated Commissions in Planetary Surface units are rare, and turnover is comparatively low.

Ensign candidate wears a white square on a black tab. These officers are in training for their new roles in these leadership echelons. They shadow a Planetary Surface, Tactical Space, or Strategic Space Officer within these ranks, who is charged with instructing them in the practicalities of what they need to know. An Ensign Candidate is heavily tested before being allowed to progress. They are technically in the line of command, but are often intentionally bypassed by senior officers in that line of command. This is the only command grade Delegated Commission that does not go with a specific command assignment.

Staff Ensign white square on white is a staff grade, out of the line of command.

Ensign green square and is the executive/operations officer of a Brigade of three groups in Planetary Surface forces

Brigade Ensign red square commands a brigade in Planetary Surface, usually a mixture totaling around twelve cubes (appx 2.5 million) combat troops in Tactical or Strategic Space

First Staff Ensign quartered white square on white is a staff rank

Master Ensign gold square executive/operations in a Division of five Brigades in Planetary Surface

Division Ensign blue square Commanding officer of a Division in Planetary Surface, or roughly a fourth of combat troops in the space branches (12,960,000) In terms of precedence, this officer ranks with but after an active Primus; officers above this rank have precedence over a Primus although outside of combat they must still accept instructions from whomever the civil government may be, even a Primus.

Lieutenant wears 2 purple squares in planetary surface, is the executive/operations officer of a Field Division of four Divisions

Field Lieutenant wears 2 green squares and commands a Field Division, or roughly four fourths in the space branches (51,840,000)

Staff lieutenant 2 white squares on white is a staff rank

first lieutenant 2 red squares executive/operations in a Corps of three Field Divisions.

corps lieutenant 2 Gold Squares Commands a Corps, or roughly twelve fourths of troops (155,520,000) Over time, corps have evolved to being one of the most important levels of command and operation. This is almost always the ultimate rank for any pure Planetary Surface officer.

master lieutenant 2 blue squares, executive/operations officer in a Field Corps of five Corps

Field Captain 3 purple squares and commands roughly a fifth of troops (777,600,000) In terms of precedence, this rank is equal to but after an active Secundus. Officers above this rank precede a Secundus.

Captain 3 green squares Operations/executive of an Army of four Field Corps

army captain 3 red squares commands roughly four fifths of combat troops (3,110,400,000)

staff captain 3 white squares on white is a staff grade

first captain 3 gold squares operations/executive of a Field Army of three Armies

master captain 3 blue squares commander of a Field Army of roughly twelve fifths of combat troops (9,331,200,000) plus staff. Over time, this rank has become somewhat romanticized in the way that captains of independently operating capital ships have in our culture, as this person is generally the most senior commander in one of the Empire's most mature systems, and has to be extraordinarily sharp in the event of a threat to their system. If they fail, the repercussions are generally widespread. The Empire is always looking for sharp master captains; it seems the supply never equals the demand because the good ones get promoted to higher command. This is also the highest grade NOT subject to involuntary recall, and therefore it is more socially acceptable for master captains not to apply for higher ranks or to decline promotions beyond this point.

The Common Ranks

What our military calls 'enlisted' or 'non-commissioned officers' are called common ranks in the Empire. The etymology for the three brackets is analogous to our words for 'private' 'corporal' and 'sergeant', so that is the translation. Each of the three brackets has various grades or ranks within it, graduated by color of the insignia

Privates wear a single disc or 'pip' of rank, 2 isixths (a little under an inch) in diameter. As with all ranks, they are backed in black epaulets for line troops, in white epaulets for staff troops. There are explicit staff grades scattered throughout the rank structure, out of the line of command regardless of seniority. The Empire does things in this manner to require senior personnel to fill staff grades on their way up the ladder, and as one preventative measure to keep staff from taking over the organization - staff that want a promotion have to earn their way through several command grades to reach the next staff level. In general, the hardest promotions to get are the ones from staff grade to command. All line of command ranks are explicitly attached to specific line of command assignments. In Planetary Surface, you're not a team private unless you're in charge of a team of eight - you revert to Senior Private or Trained Private as appropriate. Everybody starts as a Trained Private - there are no officer candidate schools as we use the term. Nobody is put in command of troops without having been one of those troops, at least briefly.

Trained Privates wear a Black pip
Senior Privates wear a purple pip. In Planetary Surface, they are the second and third in command of a team of eight. In Tactical and Strategic Space, there are too many possible assignments to mention.
Team Privates wear a green pip. In Planetary Surface, they are in command of a team of 8, making them roughly equivalent to a US Army Sergeant or Staff Sergeant. All future assignments and grade equivalents are for Planetary Surface Troops, as space forbids description of the possibilities in Tactical or Strategic Space
Squad Privates wear a red pip. Command a squad of four teams, making them roughly equivalent to a 2nd Lieutenant.
Section Privates wear a gold pip, and command a section of three squads, making them roughly equal to a 1st Lieutenant
Staff Privates wear a white pip. The rank is between Section and Platoon Private, but out of the line of command. A Staff Private commands no one. An order given by a Staff Private has no legal authority except what is given to it by troops in the line of command.
Platoon Privates wear a blue pip, and command a platoon of four sections, making them roughly equal to a US Army major (400 combat troops). (Platoons are also the smallest unit with attached staff)

Corporals wear two discs or pips of rank

Troop Corporals wear purple pips, and command a troop of three platoons. Roughly equivalent to a lieutenant colonel (1200 combat troops)
Staff Corporals wear white pips and are staff
Executive Corporals wear green pips, and are generally executive or operations officers for a company (it's the same job)
Company Corporals wear red pips, and command companies of three troops (3600 combat troops). Roughly equivalent to a full colonel or brigadier
First Staff Corporals wear quartered white pips, and are staff
First Corporals wear gold pips, and are executive or operations officers for a squadron
Squadron Corporals wear blue pips, and are commanders of a squadron of four companies (14400 combat troops), making them equivalent to a major general

Sergeants wear three discs or pips of rank.

Sergeant wears three gray pips, and is executive/operations of a battalion
Battalion Sergeant wears three purple pips, and is commander of a battalion of three companies (43,200 combat troops)
Staff Sergeant wears three white pips, and is a staff grade
First Sergeant wears three green pips and is exeutive/operations of a regiment
Regiment Sergeant wears three red pips, and is commander of a regiment of five battalions (216,000 combat troops)
Master Sergeant wears three gold pips, and is executive/operations of a group of four battalions
Group Sergeant wears three blue pips, and is commander of a group, consisting of four battalions (864,000 combat troops)

Above Group Sergeant, the System Officer grades start, about which more in the next article. Guardian Class, the very largest class of military capital ship is commanded by a Group Sergeant, meaning that everything above this point in the Tactical and Strategic Space branches are fleet commanders. It is worth mentioning that the Guardian class of ships are damned few in terms of numbers as compared to all other classes, and pretty much always serve as the flagship for a significantly larger unit of troops.

At this point, the working title is "Facts of Empire", but I'm working on a better one

Ilras, quit trying to squirt your sister with ketchup. The inverse square law is on her side.

But mom! I'm just trying to teach her defense! Meanwhile, baby Imtara giggled in delight at frustrating her brother's dastardly plan.
Dear, even if she was asleep, she'd have plenty of time to wake up and divert the stream. She's well past that drill. All you're doing is giving the dogs a mess to clean up.
Ilras didn't realize it, but his sister had ally. Esteban, the oldest at six Imperial years of age (just over 4 Earth), scooped together a good-sized dollop with matris, stealthed it with a buffer of matra and brun, and flung it at his younger brother. I usually expected better from Esteban, but under the circumstances, I let it slide.
Splat! It caught Ilras right on his jawline. No fair! Ilras cried indignantly, then had the awareness to look bashful when I gave him the mental equivalent of a cocked eyebrow. Ilras wasn't ready for the drills Esteban was doing yet, and Esteban had just made use of that fact to slip a counter-attack his brother wasn't ready for under his defenses. Given the impetus of an older brother who wasn't above using his advantages, I suspected Ilras would learn quickly.
Meanwhile, Mischief, our English Cream longhair miniature dachshund, gave a plaintive whine that she'd been deprived of her snack, most of which was now plastered across Ilras' face, and looked expectantly at Esteban for a replacement. Her name really was doubly appropriate; we ended up calling her Miss Chief about half the time. How she knew Esteban was responsible for her deprivation, I don't know, but no replacement was forthcoming. Scarecrow, our chocolate and tan shorthair male, gave a muted but pre-emptory bark informing us he wanted ketchup, too. We were at the table; we studiously ignored them.

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Of course, Mama heard me crying. She'd be summoned as if by cosmic reflex by any of her children crying. The back light came on, "M'IJA!" she exclaimed joyfully, hugging me in her bathrobe, her golden cocker Candy dancing around her heels. It was all I could do to not allow her to touch Aurora accidentally. "Don't do that to me! They told me you were dead! I kept trying your cell phone, but you didn't have it with you!" Papi's old black lab Riley started doing his wiggle dance for me. I reached over to pet him, briefly, before I got up.

There was never a doubt I would tell Mama and Papi the truth. "Mama, it's a long story, and it's going to be hard to believe. Right now, I need some rest. It's been two days since I really slept, and a lot has happened. When I wake up, I promise I'll tell you everything." Papi was following her out, the happiest man on the planet at this moment. "Of course, m'ija. You can have your old room. Let me take that." He started to take the sweatshirt wrapping Aurora. I hugged him with one arm, as carefully as I had Mama.

I dodged his grab, went into the house, through the family room, and started up the stairs to my old room. Riley followed me. "Uh, Papi, not a good idea. Let me hold onto it; I understand how to handle it safely. It is dangerous if you don't know how. Just make sure to keep visitors and young ones out of the room while I sleep." Never knew when family might drop by.

"M'ija, are you in some kind of trouble? Do you need a lawyer?" As I said, they'll never stop thinking of me as their baby.

"I don't think so Papi. I haven't done anything wrong. I will tell you the whole story when I wake up, but I am too tired and strung out now to deal with the questions you will have. If things are the way I think, it's mostly good things I'll be telling you." Realizing that ScOsh's allies might arrive any time, "If someone comes looking for me or a man named Osh or ScOsh, they need to talk to me. Let them in, please, and come get me. They will help me tell you what's happened." If there were any stons left on Earth, my parents couldn't protect me and trying would only get them hurt. But if ScOsh's allies arrived, I didn't want them leaving without the full story and I still wanted to go if I could.

"You were crying, m'ija. Are you hurt?" Mama and Papi had followed me up the stairs, plainly wanting to hear more. I opened the door to my old room - it was a guest bedroom now, and paused in the doorway.
I was still crying, but they weren't going to mention that. "Really Papi, I'm fine. A very good man died doing something important and I liked him a lot, but physically I'm fine. I will tell you the whole story when I wake up. I really need some time, okay?" I was pleading for special dispensation from the head of the family.

I didn't ask for favors much, so he decided to grant it. "Okay, m'ija. Just let us know if there's anything we can do."

"Just give me some time, for now. I probably need to cry some more, then I need some sleep, and maybe more crying later, but I'll tell you what happened, I promise." And with that, I closed the door. I dropped Aurora on the floor of the closet along with my other stuff, and closed the closet door. I pulled the nightstand over to block the door, just to keep my nieces and nephews from accidentally doing something fatal if they came around before I could wake up, curled up on the bed, and quietly cried myself to sleep.


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