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Types of spaceship in the Cortii

Types of spaceship in the Cortii

So what types of spaceship are there in the Cortii?

Actually, there are quite a few types of spaceship maintained by a Base. While the Cortii are primarily infiltration and shock troops, most Bases maintain a sizeable fleet, for defence and to service their contracts.

Canta Class

The most common type is the Canta class. As their hull title suggests, they’re rated for five occupants and carry deepspace drives as well as in-system and atmosphere options. They’re heavily armed by humanoid standards for their size, and it shows in the living spaces: there’s a pilot’s cabin with space for a pilot and a co-pilot, five bunks, and a med-bay that’s essentially a sixth bunk with a lot of med-tech built in. Aside from that, at the further end of the bunk corridor, there’s a cross-section that leads to the sanitary unit (be flexible) on one side and the airlock on the other. On the aft wall, there’s a pair of holosuits for training and entertainment. Because the Canta class is rated for atmosphere, it’s a fairly basic delta-shape.

Fighter class

After the Canta class, there are two single-occupant hulls that serve very different purposes. One, the smallest of the Cortiian fleet, is really a cockpit on a whole lot of armament and a massive in-system drive. This is the fastest of the Cortiian ships, and because of its size, unless its drives are running full-bore, it doesn’t show up very well on most types of scanner even if it is being actively hunted. It is not deep-space capable, although it is just about atmosphere-capable. They can’t take a lot of damage, but because they’re almost impossible to pinpoint on weapons targeting and can out-accelerate most tracking estimates, it takes a lucky shot to damage one.

Scout class

The other single-occupancy hull type in the Cortii is known as a scout, and it does exactly what it says on the packet. It’s based on the same hull as the fighter, but with about a quarter of the armament and a deepspace drive and a lot of stealth tech instead. It also offers an extended cockpit that allows for a bunk unit and very basic sanitation behind the pilot and surveillance area. Because there’s a whole lot of active and passive jamming systems bolted onto a hull that’s close to impossible to catch on a scanner in the first place, these are the ship of choice when a Base needs eyes on something and doesn’t want anyone else to know about it. They have basic armament, but the main idea with this ship class is not to get caught in the first place.

Cortia class

These are the Cortiian equivalent of a battle platform, at about a quarter the size of the FPA equivalent. As the name suggests, they’re intended for a Cortia-unit, but can be handled short-term by as little as a single Canta. They are only borderline atmosphere-capable (as in, you’ll probably survive re-entry with a good pilot, but getting off again might be dicey), and can be configured differently for different missions. They’re designed to operate independently for extended periods of time, and can carry twenty fighters in their bays if need be. Because they’re capable of taking out anything up to and including a planet, they tend to induce anything from extreme respect to outright panic.


There are some, but they’re the Cortiian-manufactured equivalent of load-haulers anywhere, and are mostly drives. If they’re going anywhere where they might conceivably run into danger, they’re escorted. The Cortii use an instantaneous transport system under treaty from the species that invented it, unlike most of humanoid space, so unless there’s some actual reason to send items via a shorthauler, by and large they’re sent through that system.

Accidents, unfriendly fire, and escape pods

….Cortiian ships do have them. All except for the fighter class, which simply doesn’t have space aboard and which requires a spacesuit to pilot, the bunks serve as the escape pods. They’re built as self-contained cryo units, and if jettisoned, will seal and put their occupant into deep-sleep. There’s enough of a drive to get them away from an exploding hull, and enough of a sensor array to look for breathable atmosphere. However, as they only broadcast to Cortiian receivers, and tend to explode if tampered with, getting picked up in one relies on a Cortiian ship being the in right place with its scanners turned up to full gain.

The fruitcake at the centre of the Galaxy

The fruitcake at the centre of the Galaxy

Fruitcake at the centre of the galaxy?

I stumbled across a Guardian article recently on astronomers’ research into amino acids in interstellar space – yeah, I know, sounds pretty dry even for a sci-fi writer. However, my persistence was rewarded when I got a bit further in and got to the wonderful line ‘…they failed to find evidence for amino acids, they did find a substance called ethyl formate, the chemical responsible for the flavour of raspberries. …it also smells of rum.

So, while astronomers still haven’t found evidence of sentient life on other worlds, there may well be fruitcake. After that, there is no form of sci-fi that can be considered too weird.

For me, that was one of those moments of sitting and chortling at my screen and realising that no, you really can’t make this shit up. A flash-fic about the fruitcake at the centre of the galaxy was a bit too far out even for me, but if you feel inspired, go for it and please drop me a link in the comments. Somewhere, the ghost of Douglas Adams is having a field day with that one.

“Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.” ~Sir Arthur Eddington (probably)

There is of course an argument to be made (right, yes, my characters make it too) that the first reaction of any sentient species to humanity on Earth would be GTFO, and that’s why the hunt for other lifeforms in the galaxy has so far met with such a complete no-show. That, or possibly they’re all busy filling up on fruitcake.

Etymology Excavation: Judas goat

Etymology Excavation: Judas goat

What is a ‘Judas goat’?

Originally, a Judas goat refers to a goat trained to make its way into a herd of beasts marked for slaughter, so that they will follow it into the slaughterhouse. The Judas goat itself is then spared from slaughter so it can do the same thing again. (Wikipedia)

The animal in question varies, but the reference is to the figure Judas Iscariot in the Christian Bible, who betrayed Jesus’s identity and ultimately led to his execution. The details of the story vary widely, but the use of the term ‘Judas’ for a traitor has been in use since the C15th (Etymonline.com).

Some examples of Judas goat used figuratively:

  • ‘He’s a Judas goat. He led the whole army into a trap.’
  • ‘That girl’s a Judas goat. Any stupid decision she makes, the entire squad follows.’

It can be used figuratively for a person being used to bait a trap, or for any figure leading others to disaster. All you really need, in terms of world-building, is a rumoured or actual figure who through design or stupidity, caused a disaster. It doesn’t need a lot of build-up (ancient scroll, anyone?) and can be used for local colour in a range of situations.

What is etymology, and why are you excavating it?

Etymology is like the archeology of a language (definition: the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history).

Character interview: Cristina Batista

Character interview: Cristina Batista

Interview with Cristina Batista

Sitting on a nice secluded end of a breakwater with a good view of the harbour

J C Steel: There are times I miss sunshine, wind, and palm trees.

Cristina Batista: I didn’t want to move to Europe in my teens, and having seen it, I still don’t want to move there.

JCS: Your family was originally from Spain. Which area?

CB: My father was from Cáceres, in Extremadura. I have no idea where my mother was from, she left after I was born.

JCS: And your father moved you all onto a yacht and sailed for the Caribbean. What was growing up on a yacht like?

CB: …when it’s how you grow up, and you have known nothing different, growing up on a yacht is very normal. I played in the harbour with the children from other boats, when there were any; I learnt to row and sail; I learnt to shop in the open markets, and how to tie up a dinghy so I didn’t end up swimming after it. I explored around the anchorages, I snorkelled. You must have been asked this one often enough.

JCS: Very, very often. Now I’m asking you. How about schooling?

CB: We had a basic set of material from a correspondence course. It wasn’t designed for complex thinkers, but it provided the basics.

JCS: Yeah, amen on the last part. Where did you spend most of your time?

CB: Mostly between Grenada and Martinique. We visited St. Eustatius once.

JCS: Do they still keep an elephant at Pitons?

CB: I think so. I haven’t been there in a few years. Papá liked the less touristy areas. Union Island was one of his favourites.

JCS: Least favourite aspect of living on a yacht?

CB: Water runs. For something that empties so quickly, it takes an amazing number of jerry-cans to fill a water tank.

JCS: Any opinions of living in a house?

CB: I have hardly lived in a house. Let’s say…they don’t move, and if you open the windows there are bugs everywhere.

JCS: You have Spanish citizenship. How do you respond if someone asks you where you come from?

CB: I tell them I spent most of my life in the Caribbean. My nationality is never very relevant to my life until I need to pass Customs.

JCS: Most people don’t believe in vampires. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing, from your perspective?

CB: I find that the facts remain the facts no matter your beliefs. It makes my job a little easier, in some ways. Vampires have a vested interest in human ignorance, so populated areas can provide good cover under the right circumstances.

JCS: Is it true that vampires can be driven away with a cross?

CB: No. Or any other type of religious symbol, either, unless you sharpen it.

JCS: Where do you think that belief originated from?

CB: I’ve noticed that people believe a lot of strange things when it comes to religion. Personally I prefer stakes and fighting knives if I need to kill a vampire.

A different look at organised religion

A different look at organised religion

Organised religion = mass obsessive compulsive disorder?

It’s not a very popular opinion, granted. However, the similarities between certain practices and outcomes of organised religion and OCD keep hitting me.

Let’s jot down a definition of obsessive compulsive disorder, for those who have never experienced it or met someone with it. Per Psychology Today: “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations (obsessions) and engage in behaviors or mental acts in response to these thoughts or obsessions.”

Now let’s take a real-life example of religion in action.

I went to the grocery store this weekend, and got to the checkout. I was paying my bill, and noticed a gentleman standing about a metre off the far end of the checkout belt – about four metres away from me. For a few seconds, as I paid my bill, I thought he was just standing there chatting on a phone headset, and I just happened to be in his line of sight.

As my card was processing, I looked at him again. He was still staring at me, and muttering something along the lines of “There’s no room, I can’t come in.” I realised at this point that there was no very small phone headset I’d missed because it was the end of a long day: he wasn’t putting his groceries on the belt because that would have entailed approaching a woman. Goodness knows how he gets groceries under normal circumstances; my local Safeway’s checkout attendants are predominantly female.

So let’s look at that definition of OCD again. Anxiety disorder, in which the sufferer engages in acts that, to those who don’t share in their obsessions, appear to be irrational or even harmful. This man, due to his belief that approaching 50% of the human population is either forbidden or actively harmful to his chances of a pleasant afterlife, take your pick, was apparently unable to place his groceries on a checkout belt until all female presences had cleared the area. Sure enough, when I looked back from the exit, there he was, paying for his groceries (and still staring at me).

If you want another example, let’s take a look at the Catholic practice of self-flagellation. “Flagellation is the beating or whipping of the skin, most often on the back, and often drawing blood, as a bodily penance to show remorse for sin.” By and large, self-flagellation is practised by the extremely devout: the late Pope John Paul II, for example. (For a more pop-culture reference, see Opus Dei, most recently documented in the Da Vinci Code.) The practice is based in the belief that this life is simply a preparation for death and eternal life thereafter; suffer in this life, stock up brownie points for the next.

Now, I agree completely that some things that Catholicism defines as sins, let’s say murder, are pretty drastic. Some remorse is undoubtedly in order. However, do please raise your hand at this point if you’re aware of any cold cases pointing to the last Pope as a serial killer.

See again that definition of OCD. Because some individuals on the fundamentalist end of Catholicism believe that suffering now will give them a pleasant eternity after they die, they engage in acts that are actively self-harming, not merely offensive to those around them like my friend from the grocery store.

Someone’s going to say that socially-accepted misogyny and self-harm aren’t all there is to organised religion. I agree. I’ve known some exemplary folk who were very devout in one religion or another. My point is that the underlying practices overlap remarkably with a well-documented anxiety disorder. They’re, at root, a defence against fear.

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