Mar 10, 2023
This episode carries content warnings for ecological disaster, bodily transformation, and death.
5,000 years ago, the Divine Principality sprouted, and immediately began to grow in size and power. Founded on the world of Palisade, at the edge of the Twilight Mirage, the Principality spread across the stars and leaving its roots behind and forgetting their “homeworld” as it was lapped by the colorful clouds of the false nebula. New Divines were born. Old Divines were resurrected. Rivals were conquered or courted. Soon, the only enemy remaining were the Branched, a post-human society from the Golden Branch, whose influence and control spread to the oldest homes of some Principality states.
Ten years ago, Dahlia, the Glorious Princept (born to Kesh, then kidnapped by Nideo, then rescued and raised into adulthood by Apostolos), declared themself leader of both Stel Kesh and Apostolos alongside a stunning revelation of the Principality’s crimes against Apostolos. Kesh called these claims an Apostolosian ploy for power, and elected a minor noble, Cynosure Whitstar-Kesh as their champion, the Peaceful Princept.
Five years ago, on the world of Partizan, open skirmishing between Apostolos and Kesh developed into a galaxy-wide civil war. On one side, the Curtain of Divinity, an ancient intelligence organization aligned with Stels Kesh and Nideo. On the other, Stels Columnar and Apostolos were put under the control of the Pact of Necessary Venture. Stel Orion itself fell into countless smaller internally and internecine conflicts. And between them all, Millennium Break formed—one hope for real change and resistance.
Three years ago, outgunned and outclassed by their rivals, the Curtain rebranded as the Bilateral Intercession and began to search for a way to turn the tide in their war. At just the right time, they found it: Palisade. Their ancient staging ground, and perhaps, a way back into the Twilight Mirage, a system that moves out of time, and which holds power beyond compare…
Now, the Bilats have taken Palisade and have begun searching for their way to exploit both the planet and its proximity to the Mirage. But resistance groups across Palisade have been joined by Millennium Break and others committed to stopping the Principality in all its forms. And they begin to act today,
This week on PALISADE: Into the World Pt. 1
Pick a point on the globe, yes, the picture's the same
The Divine Principality: The largest empire in the Milky Way Galaxy, spanning multiple arms and billions of stars. Comprised of five somewhat-autonomous sub-states, the Stels. Currently, the Principality is engaged in wars both external and internal, the prior with their neighbors, the Branched, and the latter a civil war between the competing factions and pretenders to the Princept’s throne.
The Branched: A post-human society of beings who have transformed their bodies into forms terrifying and spectacular and free—only to have the threat of war force them to rebuild themselves as soldiers first and foremost. After centuries of fighting a purely defensive war, the Branched have now begun to strike into the Principality’s territory.
Bilateral Intercession: One of two factions vying for leadership of the Principality, comprised by Stels Kesh and Nideo, and lead by the so-called Peaceful Princept, Cynosure Whitestar-Kesh (he/him), who took control of the faction from the Curtain, a secretive intelligence organization with roots in Kesh’s ancient spy operations. The “Bilats” are a conservative and reactionary force, aiming to return the Principality to its roots both literally and figuratively. After a long campaign against the Pact of Free States, they managed to take control of Palisade.
Stel Kesh: The oldest established power in the galaxy, built around a stuffy (and secretive) aristocracy. They are tied to the Past. History, knowledge, stubbornness.
Stel Nideo: Created the largest faith in the empire, and used that influence to shape (and surveil) mass culture. They are tied to the Present. Faith, coercion, stability.
The Pact of Free States: One of the two factions vying for leadership of the Principality, a joint operation by Stels Columnar and Apostolos. Led in name by the Glorious Princept, Dahlia (they/them), but operated in day-to-day matters by members of the original Pact of Necessary Venture, including Rye (he/him) and Gallica (she/her). Though they are reformist in some ways, their primary goal is greater autonomy for each Stel, freedom from the legal restraints, taxes, and oversights demanded by the Principality, with additional deregulation to follow downstream.
Stel Columnar: A reformist democracy, made up largely of synthetics on the cutting edge of technology, art, politics, and war. They are tied to the Future. Innovation, style, cowardice.
Stel Apostolos: A dynamic and diverse military powerhouse, whose dedication to self-expression is eclipsed only by their dedication to violence. They are tied to Motion. Speed, change, violence.
The Frontier Syndicate: A powerful conglomerate with a broad purview, including technology, heavy industry, entertainment, telecommunications, and transportation. Led by Exenceaster March (he/him), the Syndicate betrayed the Pact of Free States and joined the Bilats in order to be part of their colonization efforts on Palisade.
Stel Orion: An industrial giant that controls more literal space than any other Stel, yet is also the most fragmented, now facing regular internal strife between various corporate powers. Orion is currently the only Stel not involved directly in the galactic civil war, and thus free to operate across every star system. They are tied to Space. Wealth, labor, expansion.
Millennium Break: Dissidents, idealogues, rebels, and mercenaries who launched a revolution from Partizan, moon of Girandole. Today, they agree on much, and most of all, this: It is time for a new Millennium.
The New Asterism: What was once a schism between Received and Progressive Asterism has now been healed by the false prophet Gur Sevraq (he/they), or at least someone in his name and face. The New Asterism claims that to be a citizen of the Principality is to have an obligation to "better the world," in the sense that one invests in property or in the way that a settler “rehabilitates” or “improves” the places they claim by violence.
The Twill: Though many groups have lived on the world of Palisade over the years, the Twill can trace their time on the world back the furthest. Though a first glance appraisal might make one think that their defining trait is the moss that covers much of their bodies and allows them to live on sunlight and water alone, in fact their most unshakable cultural trait is a practice of collaboration, aid, and acceptance. When groups like Advent, Kesh, the New Earth Hegemony, and the Divine Principality left Palisade behind, they often left behind the disaffected or unwanted. It was often, if not always, the Twill who helped these people find sustainable lives on the world, either by blending with the group over generations or through open exchange of goods and information.
The Devotees: A church from the Twilight Mirage that is committed to the worship of the divine Devotion, which they sometimes refer to as Fervor. Common practices include the regular checking of one’s pulse and multi-day group picnic outings.
Kalvin Brnine (they/them): Captain of the Blue Channel, former weapons technician and de facto leader of the Society of Banners and Bright Returns. Apostolosian born, Orion trained, committed to Millennium Break.
Thisbe (she/her): A large, humanoid labor robot whose design is based on the ancient Hypha people. Unearthed by farmers and traded between mercenary units, she eventually wound up working for the Society of Banners and Bright Returns and moved on to work with Millennium Break.
The Figure in Bismuth (he/they): Once, the Figure was an ordinary, conservative history teacher who was fatally wounded in a conflict on Partizan. After being resurrected by the Witch in Glass, they have become a supernaturally gifted ace pilot. On loan to Millennium Break.
Phrygian (they/them): A Branched researcher who arrived on Partizan to investigate something called the True Divine. After being captured by the Pact, they were eventually freed by Millennium Break, which they joined up with.
Coriolis Sunset (she/her): Devotee of Devotion and native of the Twilight Mirage, Cori seeks to defend the weak and spread the word of her blessed Divine.
Gucci Garantine (she/her): A defector from Stel Kesh, who used the remaining wealth and power of House Brightline to help found Millennium Break. Currently a key member of the resistance efforts on Palisade, and the commander of Millennium Break forces there.
Baldwin Home a.k.a Black Screen (he/him): A member of the Shale Belt's anti-Principality revolutionary group, the Concrete Front, which operates from the caves of Sinder Karst. Baldwin operates a pirate broadcast station under the psuedonym "BlackScreen," fitting since when his broadcasts take over an affected device, they not only blank out the screen, but render it impossibly black... (No direct mention. Intro Narrator)
The Diadem: A wide and deep scar dug into Palisade’s equator by the early Divine Principality. It promised to be a vast arcology that people could live and work in. Instead, it simply ruined the world.
The Shale Belt: A low, resource-filled mountain range in the north-central of Palisade. Home to the Concretists and their revolutionary Concrete Front, a secular and technologically-minded group with roots in the Twilight Mirage. They take their names from favorite artistic works and have blended their bodies with a special concrete (and some respiratory cybernetics) that aids in their breathing.
Greenfield: A central territory on Palisade taken over by the Frontier Syndicate. Previously, the fields and streams of this area were home to the Twill.
The Fundament: In the depths of the world, further on even than the Diadem… there is the Fundament.
The Afflictions: A group of “monstrous” beings that haunt the dark corners of Palisade.
BAC Plough: Forged by the Blessed Armory of the Divine Consecration, the humanoid Plough has a statuesque build that it uses to wield heavy weapons, like a bulldozer-sized claw-scoop or a Heavy Arbalest designed to launch roped harpoons. The Plough’s primary purpose is to be Nideo’s frontline unit, but it is as valuable after a fight as it is in one. It is used in the destruction and replacement of “old” or “neglected” locations with new Nideo bases and settlements, and as such serves a propagandistic function by demonstrating that “soldier” and “settler” are two sides of the same coin.
EF Hauberk: Created by House Evenfall Altarworks, the Haubark is capable of deadly, unpredictable, and striking acts of violence. It is beyond “lanky,” with upper and torso extended, with extra joints and top-flight tensors for added flexibility. Its lower half, though, is an extremely thick tire, allowing it for rapid ingress and egress. It is both covered in and wields restraining chains infused with the nullifying magic used by Kesh, and is able to pin its foes down before finishing them off. Tier III. Approach: Mundane.
LMG Gueridon: Designed by the Lone Marble Group for use by Exanceaster March’s personal security operations, the Gueridon is a modern siege tower. It walks on four, elegant table-like legs, is protected by an Arcane energy dome above, and is operated from within a vast, circular a carriage compartment, with enchanted portholes that enhance the hand-held weapons of anyone firing from inside out. Also carries an infantry deployment pod. Tier II. Approach: Arcane
Chariot Mk. 2: Coriolis' Altar, commonly used among the Devotees. A humanoid mech with an angular frame, pointed shoulders and three rotating halos. The head is covered in eyes, and its body has purple lights running along it in the shape of a circulatory system. A cape hangs over the right arm of the mech and can be cast off when it begins combat. Approach: Divine
The Devil's Two Front Teeth: The Figure in Bismuth's Altar. A tall, angular machine whose posture is hunched down as if it is always ready to pounce. It was originally built without heatsinnks or vents, so the first time the Figure piloted this mech heat and energy exploded out of the frame and left the frame covered in pockmarks and jagged cavities. The most noticeable of these is a chunk missing from its "chin", giving it the appearance of a humanoid body missing its lower jaw with only two long, crooked teeth left in its mouth. As it flashes in and out of the battlefield, the heat and energy that escapes through these gashes sounds like a wailing wind. Tier III. Approach: Profane
Mow (he/him): A recovered Zenith-A Project Eudaimonia prototype model, further upgraded with Altar-class technology. The build of a gorilla, quadrupedal & topheavy, a saddle horn-like addition on the back, battered but lovingly maintained. Newly painted. Tier III. Approach: Mundane
The Blue Channel:The Blue Channel: Kalvin Brnine's corvette-class carrier. Upgraded with Kalmeria-era technology to enhance its basic functionality, along with other quality-of-life features. Tier V. Approach: Mundane.
Okay, so more or less, it breaks down like this: There are five “approaches” to how Kalmeria is used. What’s Kalmeria? Well, the Kalmeria Revolution kind of bumped up everyone's power level and brought us back to the things were (supposedly) back in the Miraculous Millennium, before the Perennial Wave. “Hey, that’s not an answer to what Kalmeria is,” you might say? And to that, I say, shut up, no one really knows how it works. But here’s how people make it work (all approach names and sketches tentative):
The Null Approach, also called the Mundane Approach uses Kalmeria and the Perennial Wave’s natural technological negation attributes to basically nullify and reduce magical effects. Kesh is really keen on this, and so are a lot of us in Millennium Break. A lot of our blue collar folks, especially, like in the Oxblood Clan and Company of the Spade. Kesh weapons and Altars enhanced by the Mundane Approach seem to dampen the sound and light around them, swallowing the impact of incoming blows.
The Arcane Approach blends Kalmeria with some of the older sources of power we’ve had for a while like our Chorus Bond, a Twilight Mirage resource called “Q-Glass,” Hyphan strati tech, or the Memoria which Columnar stole from us. In brief, it's very "device" oriented: For us, that means lots of staves, orbs, cybertomes, alchemical potions—classic conduits of power, yeah? For Columnar and the Frontier Syndicate, they often use independently moving, choreographed lots of bits, funnels, and drones—all of which produce with strange visual phenomena, like eye floaters and optical auras.
The Divine Approach uses Kalmeria as a medium for calling on the power of a Divine directly and immediately. Whether that’s from Nideo and the other Stels or from the Divines of the Mirage, it seems very paternalistic, but that’s just my view. It really just escalates the familiar way Divines blessed Hallows, extending it to their pilots. You know: Glowing skin; fiery auras. Living wings. Both on the pilot & the mech. Nideo stuff looks statuesque and angelic. Mirage Divines are less humanoid by default, and seem to be more insectoid than normal. You can tell the difference between Nideo Divine magic and the Mirage’s use because the former always smells—units report a near endless list odors associated with Nidean Altars, including ash, incense, sugar, mint, sulfur.
The Profane Approach uses Kalmeria in a way similar to Motion did—which frankly, I don’t love— to even more easily create things out of the raw Perennial Wave: Gaseous particles cohering and then solidifying into forms. Damaged armor bursts into liquid, then gets reformed on the simple frame. Melee weapons change shape and dimension as needed. Ranged weapons need no ammo, as it’s generated by the Demiurge Engine. Used by lead companies of Stel Orion, who were allowed to salvage parts of Motion from the salvage field above Partizan since they weren't directly involved in our fight there. But also used by the Crown of Glass, whose witch has a direct relationship with Perennial. When Orion Altars are on the field, you might find yourself tasting blood or berries or something even stranger.
Finally, the Elemental Approach brings together Kalmeria and the capabilities of the Branched to blend the outside world with the inside person. For the Branched themselves, this has brought them in closer conscious/experiential contact with both nature and society—those that choose to tap into Kalmeria find that they literally feel the world more. The Apostolosians, meanwhile, have performed some truly dark research on the Branched, and have used the results to reshape themselves and their war machines directly—in some way, becoming more like their hated enemies the Branched, though they haven’t seemed to notice. The result is that they adopt parts of the environment as expressions of themselves in both their altars and their bodies: Summoning shields of ice, firing lightning or fire from their limbs, turning their flesh to stone, even calling storms into clear days—and when they do, nearby people ungrounded physical sensations: a finger down their back, an itch they cannot scratch, or something stuck in their eye.
Hosted by Austin Walker (@austin_walker)
Featuring Janine Hawkins (@bleatingheart) Sylvi Bullet (@sylvibullet), Ali Acampora (@ali_west), Art Martinez-Tebbel (@atebbel), Jack de Quidt (@notquitereal), Keith J Carberry (@keithjcarberry) and Andrew Lee Swan (@swandre3000)
Produced by Ali Acampora
Music by Jack de Quidt (available on bandcamp)
Text by Austin Walker
Cover Art by by aurahack (aurahack.jp)
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