Regarding the Archon Faiths

Religion in Imperial Archon culture belongs to elite societies who are expressly forbidden from preaching or active recruitment. Temple schools teach specialized martial arts in conjunction with their particular belief systems. These specialties are in high demand by the Imperial military. Each society – or temple – has varying degrees of public presence and may provide services openly or discreetly for civilians on Archon space.

All of these orders are technically pantheistic, but focus on a single deity/concept/aspect in the cosmology. The most widely known base temples are parenthetically listed for each.

Order of Aur [Temple of Mercy, Central Ryzaa]

Aur is described by Shandrians and most aligned adherents of all temples as a genderless being who ignited the spark of consciousness in living creatures. Note that Ryzaans have a tendency to describe Aur in the masculine because the entity can enhance or terminate life, but not create it. Aur’s temple produces doctors, philosophers, poets, and sex workers – sometimes a monk may be all these things – but behind the curtains, the Temple of Mercy turns out most impressive assassins. Civilians find them a bit creepy at worst, charming providers of sought after services at best. The Temple of Mercy in Ryzaa is an expansive compound featuring a hospice, full hospital, and orphanages. The other Orders however, find Aur’s adherents fall on some spectrum between suspicious and threatening. Even if their personal value is known, they are not fully trusted except by other Merciful. Sometimes not even then.

Aur’s colors [both in terms of the “spheres” – talents of Ma’at Shi training** – and the colors used in symbolic clothing, banners, etc] are primarily grey, silver, and black. They identify strongly with the genadri. Although meat is not forbidden from their diets, they tend to pray – with gratitude to the lost consciousness of the creature – before consuming it. Aur monks may take vows of silence, simplicity, or celibacy during periods of contemplation/concentration/education. Even without such vows, they are rarely ostentatious. They are universally sterilized.

The leadership of the Temple is surrounded in mystery. This obfuscation extends to active, committed monks who may belong to the hierarchy themselves. The head of the current Ryzaan Temple – who is not considered the head of the Aur society – is a former member of the Queen’s Guard, named Kfarne, although only other monks refer to him by his proper title “Archmagus”.

Order of Leviathan [Temple of the Raging Waters, North Coastal Eshandiir]

Leviathan, often referred by hardcore traditionalists in terms of old Shandrian characters “Leh” or “Lay”, “Va” “Tein” or “Tau’N”, is described as a shape shifting hermaphrodite from the formation of the universe, born when the first water particle hit the first spark of fire. They are considered the spirit of volcanic activity, storms, and the natural reuse of matter.

Monks of Leviathan are trained in a number of fine creative arts in addition to swimming, aquatic sports, and combat. Their upper hierarchy within Eshandiir is female or intersex, usually members of a few particular families for several centuries. They pick a [usually] male monk as a figurehead, the Khia, from military monks they send out into the universe as journeymen. The current Khia during Sol’s storyline is a multiple combat veteran known publicly as Rhzyr.

The colors** of Leviathan are blue, black, green, and yellow, although “overtraining” in some spheres may result in expulsion. Readers will learn more about this in future volumes. Leviathan’s adherents [monks, priests, and soldiers alike] are frequently flashy in appearance in spite tithing a substantial percentage of any earnings to their home Temple and or directly to the aid of agriculture or aquaculture on their home world/station. Vows of silence or conversationally reserved behavior are ordinary in Leviathan adherents outside the military. They are encouraged and permitted to have ordinary romantic or sexual lives outside whatever the Temple demands of them, although career military members of the Order are sterilized.

Order of Maalek [Temple of the Sun, South Eshandiir, considered a historic site and long out of use by civilians; Hall of Light, Mantzaar, a tourist destination but also active temple]

The legend of Maalek [Mai’al ek in historic Shandrian runes] is central to ancient kaffir mythology. Maalek was the prince of light, the essence of star matter, a personification of atomic energy. He became infatuated with the fertility of a being called Saada [Sai’Ah Da] and begat numerous children upon her without her consent through various forms of trickery. In the process, these intrusions also begat horrible blights and tumors upon Saada. Leviathan, seeing their long-time friend dying in misery, rose up and tore Maalek to pieces, killing all but nine of his offspring and saving Saada. Saada still mourned Maalek in spite his abuses, so she begged Leviathan to gather the pieces and return them. Leviathan agreed as long as she would not bring Maalek back to life and brought back twelve. She kept one, gave two to Leviathan for safe keeping, and embedded the others in the surviving children. A longer version of the story claims Leviathan ate their fragments, but the one Saada kept became Aur, who taught the children when Saada passed away. These were the first kaffir, by some reckonings, or the first ideal forms of all sentient beings by others.

The Order of Maalek is split into several subgroups, the precise number unknown. Most recognized by the other orders or acknowledged by particularly educated civilian are the Hands of the Sun and the Mouths of the Sun. The Hearts are a fearsome rumor to most, cross trained by all three orders and sometimes considered a branch of the Order of Aur moreso than Maalek. Most of the Hearts and all the Eyes were apparently wiped out around the Triotine Genocide [the last surviving members having been Ruhn]. The Prayer of Eyes is a pre-combat toast to Saada and beyond that, little is remembered or described.

Sun leadership is likewise convoluted. The religious head of all practitioners of Sun arts resides within the Theocracy of Mantzaar on Archos. The Theocracy is pacifistic by nature, receiving the protection of the Archon Empire through a complicated treaty; while the rich Mantzaari farm land and expansive coastal resorts offer obvious benefits to Imperial citizens, the nation’s relaxed drug laws allow for large scale farming and production of a key ingredient to Archon military combat pharmaceuticals. It is considered taboo to speak of this in mixed company on either side of the border, even if one should figure it out. A further obscure arrangement exists between the highest rungs of the Archon military and the Mantzaari Sun Temple priests, visible only to the outside as an annual “peace meeting” lasting several days, wherein the Queen herself and or one or two Haarnsvaar attend a ritual in the Sun Temple. This is barely spoken of even with the Orders of Maalek or members of the Imperial Guild.

The combat heads of Sun Orders seem to undergo frequent rotation in the years following the Belt Wars. By Sol’s time, leadership of any given sub-order is intentionally obscured from non-members and even low-level adherents. This is presumably an act of self-preservation as Queen Marsura’s distaste for the Theocracy and the occult in general is widely known among Archon military brass.

Maalek’s colors** are red, yellow, and black, but sub orders may train in any and all other colors save blue and grey. While Mantzaari members of the Sun orders are usually simple living, thoughtful-speaking, submissive, and gentle tempered, military members and the priesthood are frequently flashy, eccentric, and lascivious. Worldly pleasures and the privilege of power are enjoyed often to the point of abuse. While Sun priests and career military Sun members are required to be sterilized, several are known to have produced families through loopholes and trickery.

Maalek’s Orders are renowned for their acceptance and encouragement of all genders/sexes and races/species, although the upper echelons are predominantly male or gold kaffa.

**FOOTNOTE

The Spheres are

Silver: Atmosphere. Basic: how to move in low gravity. Median: how to adjust oneself in a deep pressure situation; fight in low or zero gravity. High: How to survive for a long period, or kill in/with those situations.

Grey: Life saving. Basic: Adjusting blood presssure/flow sans outside force or materials; EMS operations. Median: Keeping a companion alive for several hours. High: Quick termination of life. Grey is also the use of manipulative speech. * High Grey is considered a forbidden art. *

Green: Connection. Transference. Basic: Pass on a little so an entity can move further/survive longer. Median: Survival in combat. Requires a balance of emotion and pulse rarely found. High: Overtake the opponent with feeling, transformation, and or growth. Terrifying and bad form.

Yellow: Pressure/restriction. Basic: Suppress or retain air in lungs to survive in space or water. Median: Express same outside the body to change perceptive effects. High: Crush everyone in the room. Similar to silver but a lot more personal. Silver change the room, Yellow sucks their lungs out.

Orange/Red: Change gaseous states. Ignition. Basic: ignite or extinguish small flames. Median: Fight fire with fire. Capable of putting out gas or engine fires. Highly useful. High: People explode. Nobody likes you.

Blue: Liquid specialty; master fluids in and outside the body. Basic: Great swimmer. Median: Breathe underwater for long periods; fight underwater or in space for a time without equipment. High: Drown a room full of people on dry land.

Black: Killing arts. Basic: use force to knock an opponent down without any physical contact. Median: Use force to throw several opponents into other opponents without eye contact. Charge a specialized weapon to kill multiple opponents in a row. High: Cause opponents to kill one another while walking away unharmed. *All Black is considered a forbidden art*

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New work, next book, and another story elsewhere

It’s been a while. 2014 got a little too chaotic and troublesome and I ended up hiding out in Iceland at the start of 2015. Seemed like a fantastic opportunity to research relations between their native alfen and the kaffar.

I ruled that there’s more than natural beauty and a love of dairy products in common between Icelandic and Archon elves, but you’ll just have to wait to learn more.

The most important news is probably that book two will be split into two separate volumes, “Above the Sun” as originally planned, following Sol’s father, Shaan and other members of the group[s] to which he’s aligned, and “Out of the Trench”, following Sol and the group he selects to refine his training. To some extent, both books will tell the same tale from different perspectives: things come to a head between the Archon and Ilu empires as twisted power plays threaten both sides from within.

Unfortunately, the previously mentioned “troubles” that ended 2014 have led to a push back on the release date for both books. We will however have Tribes related artwork and more at Sakura Con and Cherry City Comic Con. [run by this page for more info]

On the sort of up side, I have a short, odd little story [“Low Hanging Fruit”] in this anthology by Gamin Publications. I can speak for the brilliance of many of the other authors, as I have done live readings with several, and guarantee the volume will be worth it.

Thanks for checking in. :)

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I’d like to say something really insightful or productive, or even give a firm print date for “Above the Sun”, but I keep scrapping cover art and well… uh… we’re off to the Strait tomorrow. See some of you there?

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Arthropod Power: A Joint Effort?

We here at the Archon Embassy, in particular the 7th Tribe Representatives, would like to declare our solidarity with John & Mary’s Insect Army

Bacon stands up for the Insect Army

To learn more and see why the Genadri and I may feel this is important, please kindly head to the blog of John Scalzi and read: Join the Insect Army

Cheers!

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From the frozen wastes of Ruahanu

Returned not too long ago from a reading at the lovely Jade Lounge in Portland OR (the reading series is known as “The Hour That Stretches”, check it out if you find yourself in the area on the first Tuesday of any given month). It is a freezing icy waste here in Olympia WA!

You can check out the story Koi read at Hour #8 here: Mortality (short story)

A quick note: This story is written from the points of view of two scouts of the Kourhonoi Holy Armed Forces. These are humans from a society that sees the kaffir and especially haki as degenerates. When “the slums” are brought up, they are referring to grim, often walled-off neighborhoods wherein kaffir dwell as second-class citizens. “Kav” is a word from the Ravasich language which refers to a destructive forest spirit; English speakers may equate it with “goblin”.

We apologize for the format but our pdf conversion remains kaput. Your helpful suggestions are not and we are not interested. THANK YOU!

*Parthenos would like everyone to know he thinks the title of this post is in poor taste.

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The Ranks and Roles of Star Assault

At the moment this one’s pretty basic. Information will be added by request!

In ascending order of pay scale and training levels, Star Assault’s “tracks”** are:

Enlisted paratrooper
Technician
Retriever (note: Retriever pay is held in trust during term of service)
Quartermaster (note: a knight who becomes a Quartermaster is paid as a Sentinel)
Unknighted Officer/Squire
Knighted Officer up to Major
Sentinel and Commander (A captain with a sentinel or wing command position makes more than a major who lacks such roles)
Knighted Command (Colonel, Brigadier)
Holy Command (Imperial Guild, Haarnsvaar; while near the top of command for the Archon Military, the Haarnsvaar technically make less than enlisted paratroopers in terms of a personal stipend, but their room and board is covered for life in the Imperial Palace, and they are exempt from airline/starline fees if seats are available; they have eminent quartering privileges as well, although are rarely known to abuse said)

this is also a fairly accurate order for authority, although the power of any given Sentinel and Commander aboard a Kimetj vessel is dependent on location and situation based on his specific role.

Enlisted positions (paratroopers and technicians) follow a ranking system similar to that of the US Air Force. Specialized training is rarely sacrificed on Airmen. Exceptionally skilled or intelligent ones are usually pulled into knight training if they agree with the initiation process (note: a young man who is found particularly attractive by a knight may be initiated solely for this reason and such unfortunate souls are referred to by a plethora of grim and insulting nicknames). The best hope for an enlisted technician is to be good enough at his job and unoffensive enough to be placed into a position of Sentinelship; thus he makes a high pay rate while having largely bypassed the most dangerous jobs. Keep in mind, the “less” dangerous jobs may include standing near a fusion reactor*** or cleaning some part of a pulse cannon during active combat.

***When ships need protein feedings, it is the job of knights-in-training or retrievers to cut and sort the meat; technicians do not feed the ship.

The path of knighthood uses the following system of honorifics:
Astrum (Squire)
Solarum (Lieutenant; a Squire who has seen combat)
Novus (Captain, a true Knight)
Master Novus (Major)
Grand Novus (Colonel)
Haaje-Novum (Holy Knight, outside SA rank but not above SA respect)*
Novus Ultima/Haaje-Kalean (Brigadier General; extremely rare in contemporary usage; the Haarnsvaar Commander, if he was Haarkijietj, is also to be referred to as Haaja-Kalean or Ultima, however Brin was only ever a Marine and a Guildsman and is resentfully only ever referred to as “Commander Brin”)

*Haarnsvaar, the Queen’s personal guard, trained by the Imperial Guild, are considered the highest level of knights (Haaje-novum) but not all Haarnsvaar are obviously Star Assault alumni, and not all Haaje-novum are Haarnsvaar. Some convolutions of hierarchy have historically occurred when a non-SA man is the Supreme Commander; religiously speaking, Brin falls below the Brigadier and the Khia – highest degree combat priest – of Leviathan in relative respect/power. If the current Soul of Aur – invariably an active or former SA officer – is a Haarnsvaar he technically has more control over Star Assault than the Commander if the Queen’s not watching. Unfortunately, the Soul has not made himself publicly known in some time, and only high level members of Aur can identify him (via his bioluminescent tattoos).

Sentinel and Wing Command positions are awarded by seniority, skill, and merit; the jobs can be applied for but applicants will often sit for a long period unselected while acquiring the necessary experience to perform in that position. Arguably, the “easiest” Sentinel position to learn is that of the hive; an aptitude for paperwork, strong organizational skills, and a love of bugs are the primary requirements. Medical positions are usually the most complicated, requiring training in appropriate schools as well as field experience. Wing Command requires at least emergency medical training on top of a minimum rank of captain, a certain number of years as a pilot, and an equivalent of priesthood degree in any of the three main combative temples.

What is a Retriever and How Does One Get That Job? Retriever is a role that may be assigned at any time by the Major Prime, Disciplinary Sentinel, Colonel, Brigadier, or Haarnsvaar. Retrievers take a mandatory vow of isolation and silence and are trained and assigned to the task of removing sensitive or classified materials or persons from the aftermath of combat. They usually serve less than two years but often become “casualties of clearance” and the money held in trust is turned over to the will entity they selected at sentencing.

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Holiday note and Release Update

Happy Harbor Festival or whatever it is you non-Archons celebrate! Parthenos here with the less-regular-than-I’d-prefer regular update!

First off, I’d like to apologize for the delay on “Above the Sun”; Koi had to move (the workshop and office) across town in the middle of other major events and is only now getting back to projects. We all became “elves on the shelves”, as it were.

We’re pretty excited for the Roman New Year though as it will not only bring “Above the Sun” to press finally, but Koi and some other folks will be bringing “Honor and Sacrifice” to life as a podcast reading. I’m fine with Koi doing my voice, but Jady and Wyvern wanted some gent by the dubious name of “Tom Hiddleston” and got a firm “no”. Apparently Earthly financial institutions are still not accepting Universal Credits. Our bosses say “we cannot excuse an invasion of that two bit backwater meat bar just for the sake of your performance standards”. Don’t blame me; I’m just quoting. Wanna go to war with us? We only have two tiny invasion cruisers…

[Jady interjects the fact that those cruisers ONLY have six guns each! JUST SIX! You can TOTALLY TAKE US!]

Anyway, Koi wanted to share some holiday joy with everyone; it’s a bit old and it’s all guys from the 89th (boy does that need to change; I think the only comic appearances I’ve had I’m getting scrubbed for lice… heeeeeeeeeeeey…)

Holiday Special Comic Part 1

Holiday Special Comic Part 2

Peace for all … except the saurtzek! See you all in 2014!

[opinions expressed by Major P may not reflect opinions of other SA or Catalyst Studios staff]

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Return of the Rain

Sorry for the lack of updates; Koi is working on a gallery show at the moment.

October will see us at the Zompire festival in Portland OR (first weekend, Clinton Street theater) and Mourning Market in Seattle (Oct 13). November, Koi will be reading at the Jade Lounge, Portland OR (unreleased material!) on November 5th, then will appear in the vendor hall at Orycon 35 (11/8-11/10, with Sigh Co/Arkham Bazaar). Print editions of “Honor & Sacrifice” will be available at the reading and at Orycon, but probably not before then (you can still order them – or the Kindle version – from Amazon.com)

Relevant links:

Zompire, The Undead Film Festival
Mourning Market
Orycon 35
Tribes of Heaven, “Honor & Sacrifice” on Amazon

Check in for more announcements next week.

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Necronomicon and on and on

Well, Providence, here we come.

It took me two days, not counting the 12 ragey hours with Photoshop, to build this flier. My general inclination is to just say, “This is a book about angry space elves on drugs, with guns, and bugs, and there are spaceships, and people explode. You should buy it.”

But this blurb by Ed Morris is pretty fantastic. Tzjdt!

I suck mad balls at these things

Promotional flier.

See everyone in Providence.

Probably be loading some new – really awesome! – fan and concept art to the gallery soon. With some exciting news accompanying that at some point. And things. A’ight, come at me with your tentacles, brah!

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New Gallery Art!

For those unaware, we have a fan art section here on the Tribes website… someone finally sent something in specifically for it! YAY!

And it’s our (literally?) star-crossed colonels, so don’t mind if I sit here and SQUEE for a bit.

Ferrox and Kiertus

You Look Like Trouble

Look at all those details… including the terrapod! We love you, N23!

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