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Gryphon

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Reply with quote  #31 
Yeah, I like the idea that belief and arousal are linked in Kraliens; after all, it works for Terrans. Here's a way Heretics could persist - secret Kralien Heretic "love nest" colonies in the far corners of Kralien space. Many Kralien transport/tribute collection vessels are also secret hotbeds of heretic dissent (and breeding) since the link between status and sexual arousal depends upon belief - just because a Mother can't dissent with her male to his face doesn't mean that she intellectually agrees with him, and if she doesn't, she never gets "in the mood" or comes in heat. This is traumatic for all involved, so Heretic Mothers of deep conviction who cannot embrace the Faith despite their best efforts and have run out of medical excuses seek to clandestinely find Heretic males through manipulating the crew transfer bureaucracy. There is an Underground Railroad of sorts within the Kralien Empire dedicated to getting Heretic Mothers transferred to secretly self-identified Kralien Heretic Priests' warships or onto tribute collection transports on routes that include stopovers on planets that harbor Heretic colonies. Heretics, who believe that they have no right to tribute from other species, need to trade to support their colonies, and herein lies the real danger for them.

A Heretic Mother is viewed by a Faithful Priest as merely misguided (as well as a source of shame within his breeding group that must be concealed from other males to prevent loss of status,) but openly Heretical males are considered a threat to the very purity of the species. Meanwhile, the Kralien theocracy officially denies the existence, or even the possibility of the existence, of such a thing as a legendary "Heretic Colony" and attributes such rumors to the godless propaganda of jealous, lesser enemy species. The leaders of the Kralien Faithful therefore go absolutely, genocidally, but as secretly as possible, full-nuke bonkers whenever they discover a population of breeding Heretics, which makes knowledge of the Kralien Heretic "problem" and the locations of such colonies very valuable diplomatic information of the sort a Skaraan or other unscrupulous independent trader might just be willing to sell to an Ambassador of another species who desperately needs to distract a Kralien fleet.

But does the Ambassador even believe in the existence of such colonies? If her own agents are capable of confirming the intel, is it ethical to trade the lives of the Heretics for the lives of her own citizens, or are there better uses for this information? Are there enough hidden Heretic Priests quietly in command of Kralien warships to form a Heretic Fleet and make it worthwhile to draft an alliance with the Heretic colonies, since the Faithful leadership can hardly officially object to an alliance with a group that doesn't officially exist, can it? Does the existence of such colonies, and the possibility it implies of Kralien Heretic Priests in command of warships, mean that the Kralien Empire is in a permanent state of low-intensity civil war that has been concealed from outsiders lest they detect the species' shameful weakness and lack of faith?

Is the secret fear of the Faithful theocracy that the existence of the Heretics is the very reason the Gods have not found the Kraliens worthy of assuming their rightful place as the Galaxy's overlords? Did the Gods err in raising up the Kraliens, or are Kraliens simply too weak and faithless to live up to Their intentions? With such worries, no wonder Kralien males have shorter lifespans.


Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #32 
Those are pretty cool ideas, Gryphon. Maybe there is room on the timeline for an occasional Kralien civil war to flare up, at least locally.

The obvious solution for a Heretic colony is to join the USFP. A some point on the timeline a planet full of Kralien Heretics should spring up right in the middle of USFP space. Its existence would not, could not, be kept secret for very long. After that moment the Kralien religious leaders would be pissed at the USFP 24/7. The Faithful leaders would be constantly scheming to wipe out that Heretic planet, even in peacetime, even when the Kraliens and USFP are allied. The Heretics would use that diversion to help mask the existence of their other colonies. The TSN would have a fleet dedicated to defending the Heretic Kralien planet - - - an extremely undesirable post for most starship officers.

Of course with modern technology it should be possible for Kraliens to have test tube babies. This would lead to the possibility of Heretic parents raising faithful children on the Heretic Colony. Then things would really get interesting!

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Gryphon

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Reply with quote  #33 
Nice, Mike, really nice, because the Kralien Faithful ultimately cannot recognize the legitimacy of any USFP claim to space, particularly one that denies the Faithful their sacred duty to purge the Heretics from existence. Any of their "alliances" with the USFP - especially after the revelation of a Heretic world in USFP space - would only ever really be ploys to probe for TSN weaknesses and scout out avenues of attack. Post-revelation USFP diplomats would, of course, be aware of the full depth of this compulsion and exploit this lever on the Kralien theocracy for Terran advantage by appearing to appease or not see through the Faithful  while actually encouraging or even enabling the Heretics to smuggle themselves back into the hierarchy of the Faithful, ostensibly to rescue their fellows still trapped in the theocracy, but really to keep the theocracy paranoid and off-balance.

Heretic-born Faithful present a problem for everyone, including themselves. Their very existence disproves the central tenet of the Faith, so the pure-line Kralien Faithful can never embrace them even if they try to return to the fold of the theocracy, while their Heretic parents cannot control them as they come of age and grow to hate the Terran Usurpers who claim to protect but really herd, dominate, confine and shame their parents like idiot pets. These caught-between Radical Kraliens become infused with a righteous indignation that rockets them to premature male molting and a sexual frustration which drives them to murder their own family groups and break away. If allowed to mature, they usually go on planetary rampages or form aggressive interstellar terrorist cels to prove that they are the "more Faithful than the Faithful" and the true heirs of the Gods because they have been tested by impiety and risen above it, but their own radical orthodoxy (even by Kralien standards) guarantees that they can ally with no one else.

The TSN sure doesn't want them inside USFP space but needs to preserve the Heretic colony as the trump card to regulate Kralien behavior even though it occasionally coughs out these little balls of suicidally hormonal, murderous Kralien Radicals. An entire carrier group within the TSN/TSMC is tasked with the unenviable job of "Bug Hunting," that is, tracking down and eliminating the Radical Kraliens before they can reach Terran-inhabited colony worlds.

Too dark?
Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #34 
It's not too dark, Gryphon, but it is too broad.  It's possible to believe that you have a god-given right to have X but at the same time accept that you don't have X. I believe a lot of citizens in the former Soviet Union were in a similar predicament, clinging to their local religions and languages in spite of Moscow's best efforts. Yet they mostly just sat there, seething, and the USSR lasted a long time without a civil war. So I believe there will be Heretic-born Faithful who can fit in with both Heretic and USFP society.

Nevertheless you have described the origin story for an awesome supervillain. All it takes in one Dark Faithful to trigger a disaster on the Heretic Colony that could shake the USFP to its core.

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Gryphon

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Reply with quote  #35 
Yeah, ok, a supervillain leaders' rise/backstory. There would only be room for one Radical Heretic Arch-Priest at a time and the rest would be tinder unwittingly waiting for the spark of the charismatic who can unite them. Until such a one arises to give them direction, they lie in the colony as disgruntled malcontents who cannot clearly define what it is that is wrong with their world, but once they hear it articulated, that vague discontent converts into focused hormonal rage and suddenly, Houston, we have a problem. They then strike out as a Radical force against the nearest target of opportunity, seek the embrace of the theocracy, are rejected, and become frustrated, hardened horrors at that point. The question is frequency - one in ten hatchlings, one on 10,000, or one in 10 million? Scattered single supervillains or predictable waves of Radicals?
Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #36 
The colony's main growth would come from Kralien refugees because the test tube babies will be somewhat rare.

Keep in mind that even the Heretics believe that the gods existed, and most of them practice the non-political parts of the Kralien religion. They accept the traditions for food preparation, hygiene, burial, etc. as habits for a healthy lifestyle.

If they are healthy, even Heretics wish their faith was stronger so they could experience sexual arousal. Those Heretics who do elect to have test tube babies will actually hope their children grow up to be Faithful. If a Heretic family has a Faithful child they will employ a reverse Underground Railroad to smuggle the child back to Kralien space where he/she has a chance to live out a happy life. They would arrive in Kralien space as young adults with fake identities. The high priests might hate them but the high priests are not all powerful*. In fact the Kralien Defense Fleet prizes a Faithful child who has returned to the fold with inside knowledge of the USFP**.

Thus a Dark Faithful child would be the product of unusual circumstances: parents who went to the trouble to produce a test tube baby but then died or perhaps became abusive before the child reached adolescence. The Dark Faithful would grow up confused about his/her identity, with an every growing sense that he she should own the galaxy, and a swelling hatred for his/her TSN protectors.


* TSN intelligence knows there are some Heretics who live side-by-side with Faithful because some Kralien captains will not respond to religious taunts.

** This opens a channel for the TSN to sneak a spy into the Kralien fleet. They could train a USFP born Heretic as a spy and slip him/her through the reverse Underground Railroad. To make this work, USFP scientists must develop a way for the spy to pass the infamous "sexual arousal test" that is administered at random moments on the reverse Underground Railroad. A deep-cover Kralien spy could be a lot of fun for LARPing.

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Gryphon

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Reply with quote  #37 
Wow, that's solid, Mike, thanks! At the time of the Unukalhai Uprising, does a Heretic Colony exist in USFP space? If so, do the Faithful know about it yet?
Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #38 
If the Heretic Colony in USFP space (it needs a name) exists at the start of the Unukalhai Uprising, then it would be logical for its existence to be revealed sometime during the uprising. Its location is probably not within Rebel space, but Rebel TSN officers would know about it. They might leak the information to the Kraliens to get them angry with the USFP, or they might leak it to the press to get the USFP's citizens angry at their own government.

Or perhaps the first Dark Faithful arises during the Unukalhai Uprising, and he/she contacts the Kralien government . . .? From the USFP's perspective that would be very unfortunate timing!

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Gryphon

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Reply with quote  #39 
USFP researchers, working with the Heretic population to map the Kralien genome and isolate the coding for the recessive Heretical traits, developes an artificial hormone that mimics Kralien Faithful arousal secretion and is contained in a subdermal injector concealed under one of a Heretic spy's carapace plates. By triggering the injection, a Heretic can temporarily experience arousal on demand, but at some later price like withdrawal shakes or temporary narcolepsy or miscarriage of the brood.

How close to Unakalhai should the Heretic Colony world be?
Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #40 
The Heretic Colony should be in USFP space, not Rebel space, but close enough to Unakalhai that it presents problems/opportunities for both sides to exploit.
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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #41 
Thread bump for those who are coming to Artemis Armada in makeup.
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