Dealing With A Purely Theoretical Dilemma

So, Charles Stross posted this particular “what if” on his blog today-

“Welcome to the galactic federation, humans! All our riches and elite super-science will be yours—immortality, faster than light travel, the tools to build AIs, cures for all your illnesses and a working theory of economics that abolishes poverty and war and provides as much wealth as anybody wants—just so long as you sign this simple easy agreement and consent to make one minor cognitive tweak so that you don’t mistakenly destabilize the false vacuum and destroy the universe.”

“Um. Wossat, then?”

“We need you to become a group mind. Studies show that in all identified previous cosmoi, individualist tool-using sophonts with access to these technologies harboured splinter groups so deranged that they collapsed the vacuum energy. There are no known exceptions to this rule: apparently telling you collectively not to do something just makes it inevitable. Unless you Borgify first—become a group mind, render your individual mental boundaries permeable to one another, and allow any other human complete access to your thoughts and memories. Group minds generally stick to the terms and conditions voluntarily.”

“Uh, let me get back to you on that. What happens if we say ‘no’?”

“Then, regrettably, you will discover that you have asked a question to which you really did not want to learn the answer.”

So, which leads to the question of what happens if somebody tried to make the same veiled threat/offer to the five races of Equestria. For all the races in the Equestriaverse, the answer would be varying degrees (and outgoing fire) of NO.

For Equestrians, a hive mind of this sort is so many different violations of the Covenant that it isn’t funny.  It’s the reason why there’s a Covenant in the first place.  Why the rules of the Covenant are so highly enforced.  They would fight, and possibly lose, but they would make sure that their opponents had the scars of their conflict.

To the Griffin Moot, they’re individuals, damn proud of it, and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Their minds are their own, and they want to keep them that way.

For the Senate and Minotaur Republic?  This is like suggesting that the Nazis had a perfect idea with the Holocaust to Israel Jews.  The Black Beast was a nightmare that they still suffer from to this day.  This lack of cognitive volition?  They’d fight, and if they couldn’t win, they’d drag as many of their enemies down with them as they could.

For the Zebra Kingdoms, the temptation would be there…as long as they (“they” being “whichever noble thinks they’re on top”) are the head of the hive.  But, of course, they couldn’t let somebody unworthy (i.e. their opponents) have access to the same.

For the Changelings, there isn’t any real difference.  Well, except that the Empresses would have to cooperate, and they would…as long as one Empress was in charge.

Just Another Day On PX-3391

Signifer Heavy Bull grunted and really wished his suit of powered armor allowed him to scratch the back of his head.  “How bad is it?” he asked, letting his head turn slightly to keep looking around.  He was surrounded by a full squad of the Eleventh Legion-eighteen legionaries, an Optio who was his second in command, and about twenty drones to provide fire support.  But, anybody that was a veteran of PX-3391, which was to say anybody that survived more than a day, you took nothing for granted.

Optio Long Haul waved his grav gun vaguely eastward.  “Fourth squad got hit hard by swarmers, took out their drones, then the beetles came up and hit them with heavy weapons.  Command thinks there’s a nymph close to here, providing coordination.”

“Get out the seismic sensors, and push them hard,” Heavy Bull ordered.  “I want some better warning if we have tunnelers nearby.”

“Yes, sir,” Long Haul nodded and stumped off towards the legionnaire that was running the sensor deck.

Heavy Bull pulled up a holographic map in his suit visor and tapped out commands in the air.  His squad was holding this particular portion of the line, waiting as support came up to push further towards the nearest Changeling hive.  Over six thousand Senate and Minotaur Republic citizens were being held as food for the larders of this local Changeling queen and just dropping a huge rock on the hive wasn’t an option.  The Republic was going to get it’s citizens back-either alive or as cortical stacks-and the Queen was going to have a very momentary regret for why you didn’t do this kind of thing.

The suit comm beeped and Heavy Bull brought up the connection.  “Sensors in place, sir” Long Haul noted.  “We’re clear as far as we can tell.”

Heavy Bull came up to firing line and found his position.  The rest of the squad and the drones came into place, and he queued up firing lane assignments on his implants.

Just another day on PX-3391.

Ships Of The RESF-Colony Ships

The RESF maintains and operates the various colony ships that establish new colonies for ponies.  Needless to say, they are very valuable ships that are almost always escorted by destroyers or cruisers, and often are escorted by whole fleets of warships.  For the most part, the RESF has used the same hulls for the colonization mission for the last four hundred years, and the only difference between older and newer hulls is the internal fittings.

Commander Hurricane-class Exploration Ship

When the Starswirl and Daring Dos leave to explore and discover new worlds, what comes next is the Commander Hurricane-class ships.  Roughly heavy-cruiser sized, the class is built around two large shuttle and isolation bays for exploration parties.  Capable of landing a whole three hundred being exploration base in a single lift of cargo and personnel shuttles, the Commander Hurricane-class will spend months over a new world, exploring and discovering everything that can be found out about the new world.

In the event of disaster, the class is well equipped for emergencies.  This includes very extensive medical laboratories, enough blank cybershells to pull the cortical stacks of every member of an exploration party and give them a body, and enough firepower to cauterize a dangerous biological effect on a planet.  Commander Hurricane-class ships also have a small staff of ponies from the Ministry of Ghosts, in case they run into something that could be that kind of threat to ponies.

Princess Platinum-class Orbital Foundry Ship

Built in the days when the first and most vital piece of orbital infrastructure was an orbital elevator, the Princess Platinum-class might not carry the weaving array for an orbital elevator cable, but it has everything else you might need.  Fitted with AI-driven drone miners, nano-machine smelters and fabricators, and shuttles to carry the finished products to a new colony or build the stations needed for a newly established colony.

Well guarded by it’s naval escort, a Princess Platinum-class ship is one of the most wanted ships by pirates.  While it might not have military fabrication templates for weapons, it has the templates to make everything else, and that includes spare parts for ships.

Chancellor Puddinghead-class Colonization Ship

This massive ship not only carries over 10,000 beings in cryosleep, it also carries everything a colony would need to be established that a Princess Platinum can’t manufacture.  The most distinctive feature of this huge ship is the Party Cannon-a massive spinal grav driver that fires a colonization seed onto a location on a world.  When the seed hits, the internal fabricators and nano-machines start to scavenge everything in the local area to build pre-fabricated buildings and structures needed for a new colony.  Everything from houses to factories to roads to sewers, a Chancellor Puddinghead-class ship can launch ten seeds before it needs reloading.  Every new city has a random fractal generator to ensure that each city is just different enough that it’s not a repeat of another early city somewhere else.

Also, everything is covered in frosting.  Real, honest-to-Faust edible sugar frosting.  And, there’s a one chance out of fifteen that all the buildings would be filled with chocolate fudge.  It’s not quite as bad as everything looking like a police box from 1963, but the engineers are so very confused as to why this happens.

Trope A Day-Nano-machines

Nano-machines-Equestria was swarming with nano-machines in one form or another, and acted as the point of interface between magic and ponies. When this was discovered, soon after the Great Shift, there were a lot of questions asked, and very few of them were answered. Eventually, everybody was able to create nano-machines of their own…but was never quite as good as the swarming hordes of invisible nano-machines around them.   Only unicorns and alicorns were able to consciously access and control these nano-machines, while the other races used them instinctively.  Even this level of control is highly restricted, with very few ponies being able to go beyond a few simple “tricks”. Trying to hack the nano-machines is very difficult to impossible, and Very Bad Things happen to ponies that try.

To this day, the nano-machine technology that makes magic possible seems to follow ponies (and everybody else) everywhere, or is there already. It is definitely a Precursor technology (the very existence of the nano-machines violates several laws of thermodynamics and at least one law of causality), and it is one of the biggest question marks about the existence of the Precursors.  Research on them is very tricky-they have very effective self destruct mechanisms and are almost impossible to contain.

(And, this is even cannon!)

Trope A Day-Space Marine

Space Marine-Oddly averted by the Royal Equestrian Space Forces, mostly because they never really saw the need for such a force.  If they need ground troops, they get them from the Royal Equestrian Ground Forces, usually in the form of a Reaction Battalion on a Bright Bulb-class GFSS (Ground Forces Support Ship).  After the Horizon War, the RESF and the REGF began to work out force sizes for ships, with a proposal for company-sized units aboard cruisers, reinforced-company sized units on battlecruisers, and battalion-sized units of infantry on capital ships.

Embraced with glee by the Imperial Griffin Marine Corps, whom will fight with anyone over the title of “The Emperor’s Finest“.  The IGMC can get away with having their crews on Imperial Griffin Space Navy ships by the simple fact that a Marine is replacing an equivalent naval rating, as well as providing ground force support.  Since every single Marine wears a suit of powered battle armor and is backed up by a veritable swarm of drones, orbital fire support, and the other Marines to their flanks, this makes an IGMC Marine (NEVER call an IGMC Marine a “soldier” unless you want to get punched) a dangerous foe indeed.

The Senate and Minotaur Republic Forces doesn’t recognize any difference between a spacer or a soldier.  Basic training is infantry training, every soldier in the SMRF from new recruit to Dux is required to demonstrate basic infantry proficiency at least yearly, and every single soldier in the SMRF legions has an infantry rifle somewhere handy.  While they do have specialist ground and boarding soldiers in powered armor for those missions that require it, the SMRF doctrine of “every soldier is an infantry soldier” has served it well on a number of occasions.

The Zebra Kingdoms espatiers are in the mold of the IGMC, but like a lot of things in the Kingdoms they have to contend with issues of too few bodies for too many missions.  Especially if Capital has to act against one of the larger noble houses, careful alliances are needed to generate the number of troops needed to bring down a noble house.

Trope A Day-Bright Castle

Bright Castle-The Royal Compound of Canterlot is the very Platonic ideal of the concept.  Nearly two thousand acres of carefully preserved city, including the Castle of the Two Sisters itself.  Getting a house in the Royal Compound is a sign of serious pull and/or need (it’s amazing how many Important Ponies try to get the smallest house in the Compound because it’s important, but a maid with a guard husband and two foals somehow gets it first…).  All of the massive amount of high technology are very well concealed and well hidden, with the exception of AIs in various cybershells and the very covertly hidden security systems.

Ships Of The RESF-Battleships, Dreadnoughts, And Super-dreadnoughts

To the RESF, a “capital ship” is any warship that mounts a stellar convertor as a weapon, regardless of size.  The sheer size and mass of the mounting, however, restricted deployment of stellar convertors to battleship-and-heavier hull sizes.  For the RESF, the capital ship was a hull in search of a mission, lacking military territorial ambitions that were common in the Griffin Moot or a need to deal with Changeling Empresses that the Senate and Minotaur Republic had to do on a regular basis.  The only class that saw major deployments prior to the Horizon War was the Princess Luna-class fast battleship, which had a specific role of hunting down hostile battle-cruisers and bringing them to battle.

After the Horizon War, the need for both capital ships and more aggressive deployments became obvious.  Heavier weapons, especially the direct “slam” firepower of larger aperture buster launchers would also be needed, reflecting the tentative design and improvement in the various classes of ships.  With the Princess Sunset Shimmer-class beginning to replace the Princess Luna-class, the first keels being laid down for the Prince Shining Armor-class, and a rumored replacement for the Princess Celestia-class, the capital ship may be seeing a renaissance of development.

(Note-Equestrian ships of capital ship weight are called “Alicorns”-ships, and are named after famous Alicorn ponies in Equestrian history.  The initial class names for these ships  came from the Equestrian history, the Diarchy, and later alicorns that has Ascended.)

Princess Cadence-class Battleship

The first of the true capital ships of the RESF, the Princess Cadence class masses 55,000 tons and is 320 meters long, with heavy weapons to match.  Armed with six 12cm buster launchers and a stellar convertor in the bow, eight 10cm buster launchers on the hull, and six plasma torpedo launchers; the class is armored by the standards of most battleships, but it carries a much heavier point defense system than ships of its weight class.  Deployment of this class was relatively rare, as many of the missions that it performed prior to the Horizon War were handled by the Princess Luna-class Fast Battleship.  During the Horizon War, it formed the core of many task groups, serving as the major warship for most engagements during the war.

The class may see an end, as the RESF is applying lessons from the Horizon War to a new class of battleships, tentatively named the Prince Shining Armor-class.  This class would mount heavier broadside buster launchers and more passive defenses than the Princess Cadence-class.

Princess Twilight Sparkle-class Fleet Drone Tender

Massing at 57,000 tons and 320 meters in length, the Princess Twilight Sparkle class is essentially a Princess Cadence with the broadside buster launchers and plasma torpedoes removed to mount launch bays for thirty-six Spike-class ACVs.  The class is mostly seen in fleets with other ships, rarely deployed independently because of the lack of secondary weapons.  The class may continue in service, as the role it fulfills is handled very well by the ships currently in service.  Rumors, however, exist of development of a larger FDT ship carrying forty-eight ACVs after the various battles of the Horizon War.

Princess Luna-class Fast Battleship

This class of ship was built for the very specialized mission of running down battle-cruisers and forcing them into battle, in addition to providing a dangerous “fast attack” wing for fleet operations.  To this end, the 320 meter long ship has an acceleration profile equal to the Rarity-class battle-cruiser in a hull massing 60,000 tons.  The ship carries six 12 cm buster launchers and a stellar converter in the bow, eight 10cm buster launchers on the hull, and six plasma torpedo launchers for its weapons.  Armored in highly expensive composite armors and shielded as well as any other battleship, the Princess Luna mounts point defense that would be considered standard for the much larger Princess Celestia-class dreadnought.  Prior to the Horizon War, these ships would operate in small Task Groups of two to four ships, with lighter vessels in proportion providing support and assistance.

One long-standing tradition is that all the Princess Luna-class ships have their nanopaint set in a default black/dark purple color scheme, with ships operating with the Princess Luna assuming the same coloration.  The class served through the Horizon War, and is seeing replacement with the Princess Sunset Shimmer-class fast battleship, which has the same acceleration profile with a heavier weapons fit.

Princess Sunset Shimmer-class Fast Battleship

Massing at 70,000 tons and 330 meters long, the Princess Sunset Shimmer-class mounts a much heavier weapons fit in the form of six 14cm buster launchers and a stellar converter in the bow, eight 12cm buster launchers on the hull, and six heavy plasma torpedo launchers.  With the first few ships built in the early days of the Horizon War, they were deployed mostly for anti-piracy missions.   The ship maintains the same design profile as the Princess Luna-class fast battleship, with Rairty-class accelerations and designed to run down and engage hostile battle-cruisers in combat.

Like the Princess Luna-class, the ship maintains its nanopaint in red and gold, with ships operating with the class changing their color scheme to the same red and gold pattern.

Princess Celestia-class Dreadnought

At 85,000 tons and 350 meters long, the Princess Celestia-class is the last “pure” warship class of the RESF.  Armed with six 16cm buster launchers and a stellar convertor in the bow, twelve 12cm buster launchers on the hull, six plasma torpedo launchers, and a point defense array that is immune to ranged weapon attacks short of another dreadnought; the Princess Celestia class would only see “show the flag” duties prior to the Horizon War.  During the war, Princess Celestia-class ships would be the core of the fleet formations, surrounded by a veritable swarm of lighter warships.  The four major fleet actions of the Horizon War would see these ships in battle, and the loss of any of these ships would be major in many respects.

Post-War, the RESF is building more ships, both to replace the destroyed ships in the war and to ensure larger fleet formations.  Rumors abound of a replacement dreadnought class (tentatively named the Princess Flurry Heart-class) that would mount the same bow buster launcher array but heavier shields and 14cm buster launchers on the hull.

Queen Majesty-class Super Dreadnought

The largest single warship of the entire RESF, the Queen Majesty masses at 100,000 tons, 400 meters long, and has a “jack of all trades” design.  Mounting eight 18cm buster launchers and a stellar convertor in the bow, the ship carries the single largest mobile buster launcher system used by the RESF.  Broadside weapons include twelve 14cm buster launchers and sufficient facilities to carry and tend eighteen Spike­-class ACVs.  The ship also carries eight plasma torpedo launchers, and point defense that can protect itself against a squadron of cruisers.  The class also carries flag facilities sufficient to support a major fleet.

The ship only fought one battle in the Horizon War, and mostly operated as a defensive deterrent around major Equestiran worlds.  The RESF is building more ships, but at the rate of two a year.  Debate about the future of this class is also tied into the possibility of a replacement class for this ship.