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Brain Ships[]

Brain Ships, which Lezarouth derisively calls “b-with-b,” or “box-with-a-brain,” are the standard vessel for trave between worlds, or, betweening. They represent the most highly sophisticated development of the lifetech industry.


The main structure of a brain ship is, as Lezarouth terms it, a great steel box, often split into decks and rooms. Some have an oblong shape for aerodynamics, many are quite boxy. Military ships often have a “keel,” a steel pillar that runs the length of the ship, and projects forward in a spike that is used for ramming maneuvers. The brain is typically located in the aft of the vessel, wrapped about the keel. Any organ necessary for sustain the brain are before it, or, alternatively, wrapped about the forward part of the keel.

Gravity is simulated by the mind-moving of a bed of lifetech yeast under the lower deck. A different strain of yeast, growing on the jambs of access ports, creats a mind-stilled barrier that restrains vapors, but allows people to pass outside with use of a small force. It is important to grab hold of the handles on either side of the port, as, once the barrier is pierced, the air will push like a strong wind, and can blow a man helplessly out into the void.


Travel between worlds is the main function of the brain of a brain ship. By enormous concentration and energy, the brain creates a wave in the void that brings the ship, in the matter of days, distances that even light cannot travel in a year. The effect was termed an Alcubierre Wave back before the Cataclysm, when it was created by machine. Once the wave has begun, the ship, and those within it, can see nothing of the void around. It cannot change course, nor stop, until it has reached the place it set out for. Indeed, the brain goes into a dead sleep immediately upon raising the wave, so great is the energy expended.

Betweening is not without hazards. If there is an error in the raising of the wave, say, if the brain is jarred in the process, the wave may overtake the vessel, crushing it.

At the appointed time the wave deteriorates, and the crew set about figuring out where they are. If the brain is in good health, and the pathfinder done careful math, and the charts were accurate, the ship should arrive within 20-60mlml of the destination world. If not, the ship may be hundreds or thousands of mehlmaul away, or even, in the case of a dropped digit in the pathfinder’s calculations, light-years away. Raising a second wave and betweening again is difficult and dangerous for most brains, unless substantial stores of water and nutrients are available. A starving brain forced to raise a wave is likely to make the problem worse, if it does not crush the ship. Even if there is food for the brain, the pathfinder must recalculate, this time with less idea precise knowledge of where he is. Crews that find themselves ten thousand mehlmaul away will likely come by mind-pull, though they may be months at it, but those left deep in the void are likely to chance a second wave. Mind-pull is very weak in the void, and neither brain nor crew are likely to have the stores needed to survive the years such a journey would require.


An entirely separate brain lobe from the portion that raises the betweening wave. Mind-pull works upon the natural attraction between objects. Its force is thus variable depending on the closeness of worlds and suns. Thus, a ship moves fastest in orbit, and slows as it gets further into the void. The increasing power of mind-pull is not without an upper limit, however. Large worlds can, if approached carelessly, overpower the mind-pull.

Mind-pull is the same force that is used in most flying craft. The considerable appetite of flying craft should give one a sense of the enormous energies required by betweening, since a brain-ship that has no strength for betweening can still mind-pull for a long time.

Due to the difficulties of air and wind and the heat of air-return, many vessels never land, but those that do require only a bullet shape and foils to hold it steady.


Brains typically have a sensitive patch of skin on one side, and the chart room is located directly adjoining this. A brass cage called a stirrup is set over the sensitive patch. This cage is set with a number of dials and gears, so that the pathfinder may dial four fourteen-digit numbers, and move a set of levers that press on the patch. This sets the course. Then a series of lock-outs must be opened, and a crank turned to generate an electric stimulation which triggers the brain to raise the wave. The electric stimulation does not itself power the wave, it only excites the brain to act. This requirement prevents even a defective brain from accidentally raising a wave. There is, of course, folklore about such happenings, but no confirmed stories.

Helming the mind-pull involves a much simpler stirrup. Six analogue levers control yaw (left-right turn), pitch (up-down turn), roll (around lateral axis), slide (side-to-side movement), rise (up and down movement), and pull (forward and back movement). These six levers can be controled either from the chart room (for use in setting course), or from a conning tower by long rods (for use in fine maneuvering).

Care and Feeding[]

The brain has a rudimentary digestive system. It is fed a prodigious quantities of sugar and a proprietary "nutrient solution" that is made by the lifetech industry. Though it is called a "mouth," there is no chewing or even swallowing action. The food is simply poured in. Wastes, crystalized salts and some sludge, are manually ejected. Some brains are more subject to illness than others, and so tales are legion of people lost forever from riding with a diseased brain. Commercial liners make big production of ensuring passengers of the health of their ships.


[Full Article: Firearms of the Latter Days]

Gun-ports may be sealed by the same yeast used around access ports. Other ships have the guns in the void, and the gun-crew must don void-skins or else work in rubber suits at the end of access tunnels. This has the effect of slowing their work and increasing reload time, but some feel that the mind-still compromises the speed of the projectiles, a critical issue give the speeds and distances of travel. Also, onboard guns, while ejecting most of their smoke when fired, quickly foul the air, and even if crews wear breathers, the ship itself can asphyxiate on the smoke. A variety of plantlife can minimize this danger, and the gun-deck can be separated from the breating space of the ship, but many military choose exterior guns.

The living guns, which reload themselves, had not been invented in Lezarouth’s lifetime.

Lifetech Ships[]

All ships are lifetech ships, of course, but the term typically refers to vehicles that are mostly or entirely living. This is a varied class, extending from those that are little more than a Brain Ship with a chitin shell to those that are independent, void-faring creatures. The brains of lifetech ships are always similar to Brain Ship brains, although some have a rudimentary forebrain, and many have sight lobes as well.


Turtles function very much like Brain Ships. One principle difference is the capacity of the turtle to heal injury. This is not so great an advantage as it may initially appear, since a crack in chitin can take half a sœyœr [21 Earth days] or more to heal, and the procedures to stabilize it can be more costly than welding steel.


Some ships sport what appear to be enormous wings which are called "petals" but are actually leaves. When close enough to a sun the ship spreads its petals and makes its own food. Blossoms need enormous quantities of water, and still need nutrient solutions, but rarely need barrels of sugar. "Blossom" can be an epithet applied to all manner of ships, from turtles to wild beasts.


A beast is a ship that has some rudimentary awareness. Typically these are eyes, which allow it to self-steer to a rudimentary degree. Beasts directed to mind-pull toward a world will instinctively make the necessary minor corrections needed for world motion. They steer around obstacles, assume orbits, and avoid getting caught in gravity wells. Many have stirrups like brain ships, and respond to them like a well-trained horse. Others have a neural chord that can attach to a pilot's graft, allowing direct nerve control. The pilot is also able to see through the beast's eyes. Some even have a little mind awareness that they use to better track their surroundings. A very rare few can mind-touch, and connect to the pilot without a graft. The difficulty with such ships is ensuring that the ship only mind-touches with the correct people. Some have access codes. Some can only transfer control at the instigation of someone who has control, with the obvious problem that if all control-holders should die, the ship cannot be controlled. Usually there is a back-up solution, involving extended contact.

Many beasts also have a more advanced digestion, and are able to eat ordinary foods. Those that are not blossoms typically eat "sweet feed," a mixture of whole grains and syrup. Blossoms typically eat a much smaller quantity of "fat feed," a mixture of whole grains and suet.

Wild Beasts[]

The existance of Wild Beasts seems unlikely. Given the enormous resources necessary to plan and develop a ship, the possibility of a rogue developer creating something of such complexity and minimal utility seems remote at best. But the legends are so numerous one cannot dismiss them entirely. Wild Beasts are intelligent ships that admit people if they will, and take them where they will. In some stories, the ships are malicious, carrying the foolish to their doom. In others, they are befriended by heroes and serve them faithfully. Wild Beasts are faster, stronger, and far more agile than any other. Needless to say, Wild Beasts have no control mechanism, though they always communicate by mind-touch.

Speculation of reproducing colonies of Wild Beasts can be dismissed, however.


Finding a path between worlds is a complicated and exacting procedure. The pathfinder relies heavily on carefully constructed charts of nearby worlds, but that is only the beginning of his job. Worlds circle their suns, the galaxy turns and expands, and nothing is where it was an hour ago, let alone last year. It is not an exaggeration to say the fate of everyone on board is in the pathfinder's hands, and a mathematical error could be fatal. Most commercial vessels employ two or three pathfinders, who each independently calculate the path, and if they do not all agree, they must all recalculate. Better a two-hour delay before betweening than a two month journey after.

It is possible to pathfind without charts. Charts of today's quality could not be made until someone had first gone to the other world and found exactly what was there. But pathfinding without charts requires extremely precise measurements, that must be corrected extensively--after all, the star in the sky is not where it appears, but where it will appear after some decades of expanding at thousands of miles an hour. Such an effort is usually only attempted after teams of astronomers have amassed years of data.