I thought I had posted my helmsman/hyperspace headcanon which I have used in The Exigencies of the Service and Engine Song, but I can’t find it so maybe I didn’t. Anyway, here it is, with the caveat that it’s kinda cribbed from Cherryh’s Alliance-Union-Compact ‘verse.
- Helmsmen are not actually capable of propelling a starship faster than the speed of light using only their minds. That would be silly.
- Hyperdrive works like this: when you are sufficiently out of a gravity well, you activate your hyperdrive vanes (external antenna things, honestly kind of vulnerable which is why they’re retractable) and go into a subuniverse where distances are shorter so you can effectively cross a certain distance faster than light could.
- Within this subuniverse, due to the wonky geometries, sensors don’t work effectively so you can’t do navigation except via dead reckoning. This means that nearly every species known simply points their ship at a known star position and hits “go” and unless your navigator is particularly incompetent you’ll hit that star’s gravity well.
- You re-emerge into normal space as soon as you hit a star’s gravity well (well outside the star’s actual atmosphere, thankfully). There are also non-star masses in deep space where smugglers like to use for meetings. Black holes are also viable targets, but are rather dangerous neighborhoods to hang out in.
- You re-emerge into space going very fast (though not above 0.1c, and therefore not meaningfully relativistic). A very convenient method of braking is simply to activate your hyperspace vanes again; you’ll go into hyperspace, get thrown out immediately, and bleed off velocity as you do. Repeat as necessary until your crew is vomiting all over your control panels or you have decelerated to a safe speed.
- Since humans and other non-troll species can’t change speed or course in hyperspace, lest they get lost, it’s very easy to tell where they’ll come out based on their vector when they went in.
- The thing helmsmen do for trolls is they can use their psionics and the brain-ship interface to sense their surroundings and manipulate the vane settings. This lets them change course safely, as well as get better performance out of their hyperdrive.
- Since the entire ship is at the mercy of the helmsman during flight, it is wise to ensure you can trust the troll you wire into your starship. Traditionally, HIC’s navy accomplished this via brainwashing and torture, but other methods are possible.
- Even troll sensory psionics are limited by lightspeed, so in normal space, radar and lidar are supplemented with “longscan”, which is basically systematized hunches about what ships are doing. Helmsmen typically also make excellent longscan enhancers.
Anyway, that’s what I came up with, because I like kitbashing interesting starship operation procedures. I hope this is useful to something.
One complication in creating troll versions of human stories is how difficult the hemospectrum makes any kind of ‘lost heir’/disguised as peasant/disguised as nobility storyline.
Like, say Troll Star Wars (setting aside how difficult it would be to get that whole “rebelling against oppressive empire” thing in a permissible form). We also run into the whole “no such thing as parents” issue, but supposing we’re dealing with that somehow – what blood color are Vader, Luke, and Leia? I think they all need to be the same? (Because moirallegiance can do siblings, but not long-lost siblings.) Leia is a convincing aristocrat, so she’s blue/highblood (or convincingly disguised as it?). Does that leave Luke a highblood living as a peasant? Anakin as a highblood living as a SLAVE? There wouldn’t be any question of whether Rey is heir to something or came out of nothing – it would be clear from her blood whether she was “meant” for more or is achieving more.
…I think the Skywalkers are purplebloods, in this Troll Star Wars. When they crack, they crack hard.
…I’ve started trying to outline Troll Star Wars in my head. Help.
Han is… brown or yellow, maybe. Lando is green but has passed as higher. Obi-Wan is blue. Qui-Gon is… green, maybe. A male jade? Padme is blue. Leave all the aliens actual aliens?
Palpatine presents himself as indigo, but he’s corrupted himself so thoroughly with Sith techniques his blood is unidentifiable.
Teal. Padme is teal, stretch out the prequel trilogy timeline, and instead of childbirth Anakin is going to lose her to lifespan difference. Palpatine says Sith arts can make blood color irrelevant.
–That’s how they get away with having a rebellion against an empire – Sith have tainted, distorted blood, stormtroopers are engineered mutants. Lowbloods can be heroes in a rebellion because they’re rebelling against Offenses To The Hemospectrum. That, and it’s a galaxy with no Empress. It is vaguely implied that there can only be one Empress, and she is in a different galaxy.
Stretch out the gap between prequels and original trilogy, too, so having maybe-descendants isn’t completely absurd. Luke and Leia have the same blood color and sign as Anakin.
Oh my god, what if astromech droids are mobile encapsulated helmsmen? That might be too horrific, not sure I want to go there.
((I kind of want u to go there))
You’re in luck. Most droids are just robots, but those with personalities are troll brains in robot bodies – which has the side effect of giving them pretty much indefinite lifespans. So astromechs are also detachable power sources… Threepio was probably a bit further up the spectrum, hmm. He was another slave, maybe teal or cerulean (because Hutts take slaves without regard to the hemospectrum, horrors!), who was fatally injured. Anakin built him a droid body and saved his life, sort of, but couldn’t save his memory.
And Shmi was Anakin’s moirail, of course.
Sollux gets flashbacks when you ask him about helmstechy stuff so it’s up to me to explain.
Here’s a handy-dandy diagram of all the ports and what bioware goes in them for y’all with some translations done by yours truly.
If y’all can’t read my handwriting, here’s the rundown:
1. Flesh anchors. Those go on the legs too, and are the primary reason a helmsman can’t move.
2. Sensory feeders work by interfacing directly with a helmsman’s brain, really fuck with their perceptions and shit; they’re why, psychologically, the helmsman is the ship. They see through the cameras. They feel the ship damage. Etcetera.
3. The life support system, self explanatory. Remove a helmsman improperly from this and they die of internal bleeding within three hours. This was what we really struggled with when we un-converted Captor.
4. Now here’s the meat of the matter: The power siphons are why the helmsman can’t just blast their way out of the block. Like the sensory feeders, the power siphons interface directly with the helmsman’s nervous system, and will knock the helmsman unconscious if they try to force more energy through the siphons than they can take. Which is impossible for anyone but a grade A psionic like Sollux. There’s no metal involved, it’s all nervous tissue.
5. To make matters even more complicated, spinal anchors act as grounding wires so even if a helmsman could produce as much energy as Captor, it would still be dissipated. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever seen the spinal anchors on the Cascade.
tl;dr Sollux was locked down by the horrifying miracle of genetic engineering known as the ship’s nervous system.
Sailershanty: Alien cities amirite
Lizardlicks: very right
Lizardlicks: like how does Sollux’s hive cluster even work, that’s what I want to know
Sailershanty: I honestly think it’s a house tube with no elevators and only psions can get in because they have to fly up to their hive segment
Sailershanty:There is one metal rung ladder up the side of the building for brave idiots.
Lizardlicks: oooh I like that
Lizardlicks: so what if basically a whole bunch of lowbloods with psiionics band together out of the caverns for protection
Lizardlicks: clustering up out of instinct because if there’s a lot of you it’s harder to pick any one off
Sailershanty: Thats going into bos immediately
Sailershanty: I fucking love band of brothers shit
Sailershanty: Imagine one hivecluster is one group, and they all just get together sometimes or sleep on one another’s floor or cupe or w/e
Sailershanty: Sollux going down to the third floor for breakfast
Lizardlicks: Aradia is weird and parked her butt in the middle of no where (also a defensive tactic since highbloods seem to stick with being near water)
Sailershanty: Johnzu from floor twelve knocking on the window with some usbs in his hand
Sailershanty: Imagine if someone fucked up and the power goes out for the whole cluster and they just panic and all go out and fly around it to find the problem
Lizardlicks: maybe they have a back up generator that some of them can power
Lizardlicks: (it normally takes two ro three but sollux can do it by himself and also he needs the electricity for his computers, so evenutally they just move it to his hive)
Sailershanty: Early helm training, he’ll maybe it’s mandatory to go power the generator, just push and push until the bar hits green
Sailershanty: Im laughing so hard about someone moving shit around in solluxs hive to get him to shut up because he won’t stop screaming at his code
Sailershanty: Okay imagine being a tiny psion out in the city, you went for spare parts or to do a job or visit someone but whoops they got culled, now you’re out here alone and too exhausted from the flight to go home. Your options are the subway, walking, or finding a hotel block for the night, but all these options could get you snagged up or killed or maimed because alternia is scary and youre a resource. What if there’s like a community or forum so you can find other psions to group with temporarily
Lizardlicks: I can def see that being a thing
Lizardlicks: you have to be super careful though, because people will make dummy accounts to catch the unwary
Sailershanty: There’s groups of people as admins who look into every single user to make sure they’re legit. The worst days are when someone makes a bot to make accounts.
Lizardlicks: that gets the IP an insta ban, but there are always Ip routing sites
This is silly and probably off in some ways but here’s some headcanons /rushes off to corner
The Main 3
- Section 1 controls the other sections; near the cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Cerebellum dictates movement, psionic cortex signals for release of energy (as well as constricting/opening the psionic channels)
- ‘Psionic bladder’ of sorts; contains necessary chemical reactions to culminate in the psychic/electricshock and other psionic phenomena. The ‘battery’. Rubbery hydrophobic membrane prevents accidental electrocution. Nested in intestines for optimal nutrient absorption.
- Psionic channels are insulated, filled with conductinve fluid. They are manipulated by the psionic cortex to allow power to flow through without damage to the rest of the body.
- Skin is this to house this setup (which is otherwise troll)
- There are psionic channels to the legs *used for levitation* but the buildup in the eyes and hands are stronger/used more often offensively
- The eyes are reinforced to handle optic blasts, but are susceptable to ‘burning out’ more than other body parts (ex. sollux bleeding from the eyes when pushing too far) This hasn’t been bred out of the genepool as in some circles, loss of eyesight is proof of merit/ expected- to quote canon, “how a prophet earns his stripes”. ie; the eyes are first to go
- A psion’s ears catch the frequencies of A the dead, or B the doomed. Ghosts canonically exist, and are quite vocal (as seen with aradia). Hearing the dead is fairly common in lower blood castes, while the doomed are set up by the game to ‘haunt’ a select few (both of which have been ochre; perhaps the psionic as well). Upon training one’s psionics to a high enough caliber, the game’s code gives them prospitian-esque ‘visions’. This could damage the recipient on a localized scale, requiring a lot of energy to process. After sweeps in the game, mituna reached this point (sollux did not due to the shorter duration of post-scratch SGRUB)
- Psions require a lot of energy, but can store it in the psionic bladder short-term; they have excellent metabolism as well
Not complete by any means, but some of my ideas about helmstech. Ship info is funnelled into and interpreted by the nervous system, psii power is syphoned out through the “Direct Cerebral Access” channels.
EDIT: The bits “Removed for direct access to nerve tissue” are meant to represent where the skin has been removed: muscles and bone (and more importantly, nerves) are still in there. I realize this wasn’t too clear.
Troll tech is schizo tech.
Troll technology is primarily organic, because they’re a symbiotic species. (The whole thing with the lusii. The Mother Grub and the drones are the same species as the trolls, the lusii are not.) So they naturally go for creating things that are based on biotechnology.
Their computers are based on live creatures: grubs, bees, the truly daring have termites. Their armor is patterned after the drones, built in sets of plates, rather than suits. Their weaponry evolved from mimicking successful predators around Alternia. Their factories tend to be literally alive and the processing of resources is done using creatures who digest the various raw materials and basically poop out the desired components when they’re done with them. Their ships are sentient and alive. Ships are built around Helmsmen and Navigators, who are basically Psionics strong enough to power the ship and Psychics powerful enough to control and pilot the ship, respectively.
Space stations are literally giant bug-like creatures bred specially for their vast, hollow innards that can house several ships inside them, and that are controlled by trolls with the ability to commune with them.
Everything has a pulse. Everything oozes and twitches and bleeds.
Everything is alive.
For trolls, “dead” technology is about as creepy as to humans, their schizo tech.