Ian  S.  Bott

Writer and artist


Animastin A drug which permanently erases recent memories, from months to years back depending on dose. It is extremely dangerous to use and indiscriminate in its effects. Side effects can include impairment of mental functions, sensory loss, partial paralysis, and a range of mental illnesses.
Barza Old Magentin word for town.

Beam weapon The most common weapon, scalable from hand-held to large ship- or ground-mounted installations. Produces a tightly-focused beam of charged particles.

Book of Enemies The Firenzi assassin's handbook. It contains intelligence on major players, along with technical, psychological, and philosophical guidance on how to conduct assassination operations within the Firenzi rules of engagement.

Book of Unity The most important Vantist holy book. It espouses the unity of all things in the universe.

Braz Old Magentin word for city.

Butterflies, Palace of The Imperial palace at Henriss Garden.

Cendithor Skamensis military outpost near the border with Firenzi territory.

Chensing Northern province in the continent of Traplinki on Magentis.

Chevinta Freeworld renowned as a seat of learning.

Chirple Language invented by Brandt, consisting of musical tones and irregularities in rhythmic patterns. Designed to allow information to be masked by suitable kinds of music. Syntax and vocabulary largely tailored to conveying concepts of military and undercover intelligence and strategy.

Cleansing An extreme form of military action against a civilian population, cleansing involves systematically obliterating all evidence of civilization from the face of a planet. Usually enacted with the fleet of Sword-class battleships, which can destroy all notable centers of habitation on a moderately-populated planet in the space of a day.

Comms Colloquial term for communications between remote units - ships or planets. See Exnet.

Cravel Braz Birth place and final resting place of Empress Florence Skamensis.

Cutler Drift Outlying concentration of Skamensis worlds near the Firenzi border.

Derrin Major industrial world in Skamensis space.
Eloon The planet on the outskirts of Firenzi space where Shayla was born. Cleansed by Imperial forces.

Exnet Data network spanning the inhabited planets. Uses transdimensional technology similar to the hopper drive, but freed of the need to achieve perfect alignment between dimensional folds, comms relays can transmit tens of light years with millisecond response times.
Ferret Everyday name for a rapid transit system used to convey passengers and small loads around building complexes and large ships. Consists of fleets of spherical capsules running through a network of tubes between designated pickup and drop-off points.

Festival of Fountains A major festival held every ten years at Henriss Garden.

Firenzi The second most powerful of the six Grand Families, after the Skamensis Imperium. Shayla grew up in the Firenzi family, but was in fact half Skamensis. Until his assassination, the patriarch, Josef Firenzi, was a well-liked ruler and lifelong friend of Emperor Julian Skamensis.

Fishlander Insulting name for anyone from the northern coastal provinces of Traplinki.

Freeworld One of the independent worlds, not under the control of a Grand Family. Freeworlds are established by treaty, and usually have an Imperial charter establishing them as centers of excellence for academics, artists, or artisans. The Families are prepared to honor the Freeworlds' independent status in return for the strictly impartial value that these worlds bring to all of humanity.
Grand Family One of the six ancient lineages that rule about half of the inhabited planets of human civilization.
Hawflun Small town on the edge of the Solven Plateau. Location of the Hawflun Temple, a major site of pilgrimage, and irredeemably corrupt.

Henriss Garden The largest city in the continent of Traplinki on Magentis. Population 73 million. Location of the Imperial Palace of Butterflies.

Hoklok Large predatory flightless bird. Adults stand about three feet tall. They hunt in packs, with keen vision and hearing, and possess razor sharp beaks and claws.

Hopper drive Primary starship drive, works by translating a segment of space to an adjacent higher-dimensional fold. The technology is limited by the need to ensure every patch of space at either end of the hop is perfectly aligned. This limits the range of each hop, and also limits the ability to hop in the gravity field of a large body. In practical terms, individual hop range is measured in hundreds of miles. However, high quality drives can hop anything up to a million times a second, giving effective speeds thousands of times the speed of light.

Horliath Expanse of forest and shallow waterways near the western end of the continent of Traplinki on Magentis.
Implacable Class of heavy cruiser. Though only a quarter the size of the imposing Swords, the Implacables are really the workhorses of the Imperial navy.

Implants A highly-guarded Firenzi secret, and the key to Shayla's disguise when working undercover. Subcutaneous implants are a genetically-engineered fungus that invades the skin and taps into the nervous system. Once the wearer has learned how to control the implants, they become an extension of the body and perform a similar function to chromatophores in cuttlefish and octopi. They allow the wearer to adjust superficial appearance, such as facial contours, skin and hair color.

(the) Insurrection Organization opposed to any form of aristocracy and hereditary rule, especially the rule of the Grand Families. Prepared to use indiscriminate terrorist tactics to achieve their goals.
Jemiyal Mining colony in Firenzi space. Built on and in a moon 10 miles in diameter, Jemiyal has secret fortifications built amongst the industrial mining works.
Kallis Poor farming world in Skamensis space near Tinturn.

Knife Dance See Shohan Calinda.
Magentis Home world of the Skamensis Imperial family. The planet sits at the center of the most fiercely guarded volume of space known to humanity. No craft, other than Imperial warships, ever fly in and land directly on the planet. All cargo is opened off-planet. All visitors are processed through orbiting reception bases before landing. This is the ring of security that Shayla has to evade.

Magister Title used in Imperial service as a mark of respect for someone senior in rank to oneself.

Magister Summis Title used in Imperial service for the most senior staff, and by senior staff addressing members of the Imperial family with whom they are familiar.

Master of Circuses A senior Imperial official responsible for managing the public face of the Imperium.

Mikhael Avantis Prophet and founder of the Vantist movement.

Monsk Freeworld renowned for the production of exquisite textiles, rugs, and tapestries.

Mosaic Palace Imperial palace at Prandis Braz, renowned for mosaics on the floors of the main corridors and state rooms.
Nacrolin One of the most feared poisons in the assassins' armory. Death comes slowly, anything from an hour to several days depending on the dose. Induces partial paralysis and excruciating pain. Kills by gradual dissolution of the central nervous system. No antidote.

Needle gun Shayla's favored weapon and extremely rare outside of assassin's circles. Consists of a high-velocity airgun, accurate over a range of tens of yards, and a multi-function magazine of needles tipped with a variety of drugs and poisons.

Nicodyne Potent stimulant. Used carefully, it can keep a person awake and alert for days at a time, but the energy debt will need to be recouped eventually.

Nose A Firenzi tracking device. The detector covers the eyes of the tracker and is often disguised as a sun visor. It emits microwave pulses and detects scattered radiation to analyse chemical properties, and can be tuned to highlight the presence of specific compounds. The system usually depends on tagging the target with a known chemical tracer, which can then be followed anything up to a few hours later.
Offworld (also Outworld) Any planet away from a major centre of civilization. Generally used as a derogatory term for an out-of-the-way backwater.
Passkey Electronic implant about the size of a grain of rice. Contains personal identification codes and security protocols encrypted with biometric information. Automatically scanned at checkpoints and in high security areas to confirm a person's identity.

Pillars of Duty The second holy book of the Vantist religion. It sets out codes of conduct for a moral life, based around the observance of charity, humility, thanksgiving, compassion, and atonement.

Plasma cannon A powerful weapon mounted by large warships and some ground installations. The cannon produces a directed blast of ionized plasma.

Ploorbellin Home world of the Firenzi Grand Family. Also Shayla's adopted home after the destruction of Eloon.

Prandis Braz Capital city of Magentis.

Prandiski One of two major continents on Magentis. See also Traplinki.

Pulse bomb Electromagnetic disruption pulse, not materially destructive but lethal to organisms and electronics.

Punishment stall A form of punishment popular on Imperial worlds, similar in principle to the stocks and pillories of medieval times except this is the high-tech version. A coin-operated device directly stimulates nerves to induce pain.

Quark bomb An explosive device several orders of magnitude more powerful than atomic fission or fusion. When successfully assembled and detonated, a quark bomb can vaporize a mountain, and its radiation can sterilize a large portion of a planet. In practice, it is so touchy that it's almost impossible to assemble successfully, let alone deploy under battle conditions. It is therefore of no practical use as a weapon, but it remains a potent psychological threat.
Scriven A derogatory form of address for someone of greatly inferior rank. Equivalent to addressing someone as "serf" or "slave".

Shal-heil Desert wind that runs through Prandis Braz most summer evenings. Also used in colloquial Prandiski as an insulting comparison denoting someone or something of little use.

Shield Electromagnetic defense against charged particle weapons such as beams and plasma cannons. Ineffective against physical weapons such as projectiles.

Shimmerblade Knife with a crystalline edge or tip that vibrates at high frequency. Can cut effortlessly through practically any material.

Shohan Calinda A martial discipline involving training through a series of dance-like routines colloquially known as the Knife Dance. Some highly stylized, some acrobatic, the routines collectively strengthen poise, balance, and spatial awareness. The discipline holds a mystique far in excess of its true martial effectiveness because of the highly secretive cult surrounding it.

Sho Min Barza Major Imperial stronghold in the continent of Traplinki on Magentis.

Skamensis The family name ruling Imperial family.

Skerrin Brethwyn A small village in the mountains on the southern border of Chensing.

Solven Barza A city on the edge of Horliath.

Solven Plateau Tract of upland wilderness between Horliath and Chensing province.

Spycam Device about the size of a raisin that can transmit sound and a wide angle field of view back to a monitoring station.

Starhopper Type of ship used for interstellar travel.

Stoon Barza Birthplace of Brynwyn bin Covin.

Sword Class of battleship possessed by the Imperial navy. The defining weapon of the Sword-class is its outsized plasma cannon, capable of leveling an entire city in one blast.
Tinturn Planet in Skamensis space where Shayla boarded Chantry Bay.

Toomin Barza Capital city of Chensing province.

Torremis Capital city of Eloon before being Cleansed.

Traplinki One of two major continents on Magentis. See also Prandiski.

Trown Plains Accord A treaty between the Grand Families, which governs allegiance to the ruling Imperial family, and codes of conduct for warfare and treatment of citizens.

Truthsense A discipline of observation of body language, intonation, and subliminal expressions that allows one to discern truth from falsehood. Gifted exponents can discern truth with near certainty, and can often tell which thread of a statement is false, allowing them to deduce the truth hidden behind the lie. Such expertise is rare. The skill is subtle and difficult to master.

Trylex A drug that removes all voluntary motor control and renders a person powerless to resist external suggestion. A person under the influence of trylex can be instructed to perform physical actions, but cannot exert fine motor control such as speech. Any attempt by the victim to exert voluntary control results in blinding headaches.
Vantism Mystical religion. Belief in the unity of all life, meditation, and strict observance of duty.
Wasanni Major river that runs for nearly fifteen hundred miles through the centre of Horliath. Emerges to the sea at Henriss Garden.