Sep 2, 2022
This episode carries content warnings for violence, displacement, insects, and a brief description of a corpse.
The Divine Fealty knew what they had seen instantly, identifying it in something before or beyond language. Appropriate, since the Twilight Mirage, once its home, had always been more than just a simple place or a proper noun. It did not matter if their elect, Veronique, could understand what they’d seen in this way, only that she would support Fealty in what must be done. And so, an escape. And so, a kingdom among debris. And so, a kidnapping. And so, a confrontation between Divines. Now wounded, the two Anchors float back in the direction they came from, drawing ever closer to the purple dot in the distance.
This week on Friends at the Table: The Road to PALISADE: HOUNDs Pt. 2
The Divine Principality: Stitched together thousands of years ago from the remains of the Divine Free States and the Principality of Kesh, it is largest empire in the history of the MIlky Way Galaxy. Even now, divided against itself, any subdivision of its arms stretches further than any kingdom or confederation ever has before. An utter failure.
Stel Kesh: Among the oldest operating powers in the stars. Devoted to the Past even though they’ve long lost control of the Divine who shares its name. Snobbish historians, ineffective parliamentarians, and stubborn reactionaries. Kesh is generally aligned with the Curtain of Divinity.
Stel Nideo: WIth origins in the long lost Twilight Mirage, Stel Nideo are architects of our current era, dread controllers of the Present. Along with shaping mass media, popular culture, and educational standards, they now operate both Received and Progressive Asterism, the former run by the corrupt Cycle and the latter by the grotesque puppet of the lost prophet Gur Sevraq. These priests, pop idols, and patriotic poster children are largely aligned with the Curtain of Divinity.
Stel Orion: For hundreds of thousands of years, Stel Orion—under countless names and forms—has repeated a cycle of exploitation and revolution. Competing spirits of individualism and camaraderie ebb and flow, but industry remains. Is it any wonder that it remains associated with the raw breadth of Space itself? Currently, Orion is at war with itself, with countless small factions not only differing in position on the larger civil war in the Principality, but also on many additional issues like wealth, religion, and culture.
Stel Columnar: Famously “courted” by the growing Principality many generations ago, this nation of humanoid synthetics traded freedom for the prestige and security of the Principality. They hid behind imperial walls and pursued the Future, pushing boundaries not only in technology, but in art, commerce, and war. I suppose I can call them cousins, but not with much fondness. Today, they share righteous screeds and fight for the return of something like democracy as part of the Pact of Necessary Venture. What a comedy.
Stel Apostolos: An ancient people, ever obsessed with external conquest and internal freedom, and utterly uninterested in understanding their own contradictions. They are dedicated to the pursuit of forward Motion, and I suppose I can respect such bullheaded devotion. It is, at the very least, not boring. They are the meat and muscle of the Pact of Necessary Venture.
The Curtain of Divinity: For generations, the Curtain of Divinity operated in the shadows of the Principality, partly as intelligence agency, partly as shadow government. Now they have been dragged into the daylight, and serve as one of the two ruling factions of the whole Principality. Though there are some divisions along questions of secularity, humanism, and cultural taste, in general, leaders of the Curtain are conservative, traditionalist, and nationalistic. They seek the reunification of all five Stels and the permanence of the Divine Principality.
Led, in public at least, by Cynosure Whitestar-Kesh, the Peaceful Princept. In fact, the Curtain has five divisions, each led by a ruthless individual known only by a codename: Silk (diplomacy), Damask (research & inquisition), Lace (military), Linen (economics), and Gabardine (espionage and collaboration).
The Pact of Necessary Venture: As their (current) name suggests, the Pact began as a cooperative exploratory committee founded in the late 14th Century of the Perfect Millennium. They sought new territory to conquer, breaking an old taboo in the process, and inviting destruction and fracture. Which is appropriate, as their vision for the future is one where each Stel is granted more autonomy and independence—some even claim that they would see the Principality utterly destroyed and replaced by a loose affiliation of free states.
Despite this, the Pact are no radicals: While they want more independence from the Principality, they have little interest in shaking up the internal power structures of the Stels themselves. After all, their founders were all Elects, and though only two remain (Gallica, elect of the Divine Present, and Rye, elect of the divine Space), they are led by Dahlia, who serves as both Apokine and Glorious Princept.
Millennium Break: Terrorists, thieves, and revolutionaries. Founded on the moon of Partizan in 1423-1424 PM. A wrench in the wheel, a fly in the ointment. Critical in pushing the Principality into chaos. Now spreading dissidence through the galaxy. Their manifesto, such as it is, is thus:
We will help those displaced by the war. We will claim supplies only when it adds losses to the ledgers of the unjust. Free and fair elections will be held every two years. Burn thrones, build tables. When we provide for ourselves, we can provide for others. We will not turn our back on allies in need. If we must play their game, make sure to bloody their noses. When we reach the edge, we will Leap. Look sick as shit.
The words of children.
Veronique (she/they): Elect of Fealty. A loyalist. A protector. A runner, in a previous life.
Fealty (any, they/them): A Curtain Divine of glittering chrome and sculpture.
Cynosure Whitestar-Kesh (he/him): “The Peaceful Princept,” supposed leader of the Curtain of Divinity. Growing, ever so slowly, into the title.
Pressure Cove (they/them): Captain of the Fox in the Snow and leader of a group infatuated with Fealty and their promised way of life.
Gucci Garantine (she/her): Once, when she operated the revolutionary group HORIZON, true heir of the Rapid Evening, she called herself Saint Dawn. Now she simply calls herself one of the MIllennium Break’s commanders, albeit through gritted teeth.
Conviction (she/her) & Amaryllis (they/them): Conviction is among the proudest of all Kesh Divines, a caped, golden, horse-knight who speaks with absolute confidence. Their elect, Amaryllis, spent years in the shadow of Veronique, their junior in all things. Until now, of course.
Fortitude (it/its) & Acacia (they/them): A Divine from an era before my own, and in that way at least, a curiosity. It spreads its strength across many military units. As always, its need for an Elect is a disappointment.
The Skarnoc Debris Fields: The remnants of a battle from the era before the Twilight Mirage, where the Rapid Evening fought and lost the Divine Nobility. Besides the normal ship debris, the field has gathered strange crystalline spires.
A Dash of Purple: Fealty, of course, knew what it was at once. How could they not?
Hollows & Hallows: Mechanized military vessels, often in humanoid shape. The latter are enhanced by the touch of a Divine.
The Perennial Wave: Perennial is something like a god, or at least I think she imagines she is. Her wave is her arrogant whim, made manifest. Functionally infinite nano-particles, spread throughout the galaxy, hampering all technology except (curiously) Divines.
Kalmeria Particle: A so-called miracle of modern science, providing those that master it power akin to what was wielded before the Perennial Wave. Like most miracles, there is an explanation, but most people have neither the knowledge of nor interest in what it really is or where it came from. Some know that it is named for the rogue engineer Kal’Mera Broun, but few know that it is the result not only of their research into the divine Asepsis, but also the particular consequences of Millennium Break’s battle with Motion and her siphoning of so-called “Autonomy Itself.”
Hosted by Austin Walker (@austin_walker)
Produced by Ali Acampora (@ali_west)
Music by Jack de Quidt (available on bandcamp)
Text by Austin Walker
Cover Art by Craig Sheldon (@shoddyrobot)