Sunday April 21, 2002
Book 2: The Teraport Wars — The Teraport Wars
Note: More than a few readers are still wondering why Breya has killed so many F'Sherl-Ganni by blowing up their buuthandi. The confusion arises from the popular (and rather absurd) image of a Dyson Sphere as something that provides lots of flat surface to live on. That's a silly image. Everything on the inside would fall into the central star, and everything on the outside would be cold and breathless, since there's too little solar gravity at that distance to hold down a proper atmosphere.

A buuthandi is like a balloon around a star, with space-stations dangling inward. In essence it's a solar sail in which the solar wind is precisely balanced with ballast. Breya's assault destroyed defensive facilities, and 'popped' the balloon, cutting it into segments. All of the habitat areas are intact, however, and only a very, very few F'Sherl-Ganni are dead (Vice-Lord Grak't'b'd'fwee having joined their fallen ranks recently). These habitats have dumped ballast and are sailing AWAY from the certain doom presented by falling into the central star, powered by giant sections of sail.

For an idea of the size of these sections of sail material, consider roadmaps. Start with one on which 1 centimeter equals 10 kilometers (a fairly common scale for useful maps). A map of your city and the surrounding countryside will fold up nicely in your hand. Now consider one where 10 kilometers equals 10 kilometers... to map your city on this, you'd need a piece of paper the size of your city.

Now consider one where, for some odd reason, you need even more detail. Like, you need 10,000 kilometers of map to represent a single kilometer of city streets. On this map you'll have mucking great avenues that represent cracks in the pavement. You could print a map like this for every city on Earth on a single, severed section of buuthandi sail material, and have room left over to gift-wrap Jupiter in enough layers that the recipient would have no idea what he was being given.

"Hmmm... it's really heavy. I give up, what did you get me?"


Narrator: Aboard the U.N.S. Destroyer 'Athens,' Admiral Breya embarks on the third phase of her liberation fleet's assault on the Gatekeeper Dyson sphere.
Haban II: Breya, your uniform is ready.
Breya: Uniform?! What's wrong with what I'm wearing?
Haban II: Nothing, really. But this uniform is a suit of low-profile armor, and allows us to conceal much more weaponry about your person.
Breya: So you trust this Vice-Lord Grak't'b'd'fwee as much as I do?
Haban II: When accepting a surrender in the field, it pays to dress for treachery.
Narrator: A bit later. . .
Grak't'b'd'fwee: Your attack was unprovoked and vicious, Admiral. The Galactic Community will not stand for this!
Breya: Vice-Lord, I'd like to take a moment to remind you that you're here to surrender, not posture.
Grak't'b'd'fwee: What are the terms of this surrender, Admiral?
Breya: It's unconditional. Now let's get on with it. More signing, less whining.
Breya: And could you please take a moment to switch the font you're speaking in? The narrator tells me that readers are complaining.
Grak't'b'd'fwee: Fine. Is this easier on your weak, human eyes?
Narrator: Oooh, insulting the readers. . . You're not going to last long around here, I'll wager.
Breya: Thank you, Vice-Lord. Now, on to business. We are here to liberate illegally taken prisoners, and examine illegal technology. Any attempt to hamper our efforts will be severely punished.
Grak't'b'd'fwee: We have no prisoners here, Admiral. You're wasting your time.
Breya: By all means, let us stop wasting time.
SFX: Twitch
F'sherl diplomat: Oh, those prisoners.
Narrator: There may be a treaty violation in here somewhere, but I'm not going to go looking for it.