by Max Barry

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The Infinite Empire of
Father Knows Best State

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The Imperial Exploration Corps

Imperial Exploration Corps:

The Imperial Exploration Corps is an organization which is meant to explore the cosmos, but also to act as emissaries of Cybusian culture in newly conquered and yet to be conquered worlds. Exploration Corps members consist of scientists, engineers, and scholars of all sorts, as well as press detachments, Mercerist missionaries, and artists of all kinds. Upon control over a world being consolidated, the more academic portions of the fleet begin exploring and cataloging local flora and fauna, social customs, folklore, and all sorts of other things, while artists record the world, and then set about creating art which depicts the Empire in a positive light; paintings, sculptures, propaganda posters, and more. Architects and engineers begin to reshape the cities into the Cybusian model, creating Communal Palaces, vast monuments, Mercerist temples, and more, as soldiers create bases and fortifications. The world is uplifted technologically, any interesting native developments cataloged for further analysis and possible integration into the Imperial model.
While all this is happening, the reporters act as war correspondents during the conquest, recording footage to send back to Imperial news agencies to be put into newsreels and propaganda films; then they begin performing PR, helping to nudge culture closer to the Imperial model. Missionaries begin promoting the word of Mercerism, while special trains, airships, planes, buses, and trucks full of propaganda begin traversing the world, showing off Imperial technological superiority and promoting Imperial culture, fashion, music, literature, and Mercerism.
Nobles often act as officers with the Exploration Corps, using their charisma and charm to help win over the population and act as a temporary representative of Imperial authority until a legitimate civilian government is established and a Didact is elected. The Corps has it’s own vessels, beautiful Art Deco vessels replete with sensors and labs, as well as press detachments and theaters. The Corps maintains close ties with the Followers of The Apocalypse, with whom they work closely; The Arcadian Academy of Sciences, which provides many of the scientists on expeditions; and The Order of The Raven, which supplies many of their theologians and priests, their intense belief offset by the Followers and the more tolerant members of the Pan-Mercerist Movement. It is not uncommon for Imperial celebrities and cultural figures such as Vera Keyes, Edward Mordrake, Anna Lesvoa, Delilah Kaldwin, Natalia Usher, or even Dana Mercer to accompany an expedition after a world has been pacified, and to observe the world, make works of art, give speeches, performances, or exhibitions, and promote Imperial culture. Imperial Consulate members may also tour a new world.

The Exploration Corps operates two vessels, each with a distinct mission, the Nautilus Class Exploratory Vessel, and the Diplomat Class Cultural Vessel.

Nautilus Class Exploratory Vessel
Length: 3,000 meters
Armament: 150 missile pods, 100 Hardlight Cannons.

A vessel operated primarily by the Imperial Exploration Corps, the Nautilus Class Explorator Vessel represents the more academic side of the organization. At 3,000 meters long, the Nautilus is a large vessel, full of thousands of labs, intended to combine many different smaller scientific vessels into a single vessel capable of preforming all of their jobs and more.
It is lightly armed, with only 150 missile pods and 100 Hardlight Cannons, intended to destroy debris which cannot be redirected with the vessel's tractor beams, or destroy jettisoned labs or specimens. The Nautilus is unique in that it’s interior is not only modular, but that the laboratories directly against the hull can be sealed off (all labs can be sealed off and sterilized with intense radiation, cryogenic compounds, or incineration) and, uniquely, be jettisoned into space to be destroyed by the ship's weapons.* The Nautilus holds thousands of labs, most of them modular and capable of being modified for almost anything required by the countless scientists working aboard the vessel; from conducting autopsies of native fauna, to preforming chemical analysis of specimens.
Despite the seeming focus of the vessel on what some call ‘hard science’, many other specialists are aboard each Nautilus, from psychologists, linguists, archeologists, anthropologists, and sociologists interested in analyzing native cultures and behavior, to philologists and folklorists studying written and oral works, along with historians reconstructing the history of a world. Each Nautilus has an extraordinarily vast array of specialists; from chemists to anthropologists, from historians to epidemiologists, from geneticists to structural engineers, each helping to paint a better picture of a world and its inhabitants if there are any. It is not uncommon for a Nautilus to remain ‘on station’ on a world for years at a time, before being replaced by teams of other experts who take over and allow the vessel to continue to explore. This makes exploration slow but thorough. The Nautilus also has a small cadre of diplomats aboard to make first contact with civilizations, as well as a moderately sized Marine detachment to escort scientists and engage hostile natives or megafauna, if need be.
The Nautilus mounts thousands of sensors of all types, in every spectrum, both passive and active, most of them with very long ranges; it can also launch and recover probes from Jaunt space. The vessel maintains two large transparisteel observation domes on both the top and bottom of the vessel, an expansive library, an onboard botanical garden, and several lecture halls and demonstration areas so that one publicly may display one’s work or findings to one’s colleges and any visitors. The Nautilus is protected by no less than four shield generators, to compensate for it’s rather meager 6 feet of ACE and ERA armor layers. Finally, there are several hanger bays which hold up to three hundred small craft, most often the survey model of the Corvid shuttle, there are also several Corvus fighters for escort purposes.
While primarily operated by the Imperial Exploration Corps, the Imperial Center for Disease Control operates three such vessels, the Pastuer, the Hestis, and the Koenig, while Torchwood’s Section Three operates an undisclosed number of such vessels, rumored to be modified with stealth features and used for clandestine and illicit testing.

*This was implemented after two earlier models of exploratory vessels were lost to Drakul and Redlight infestations; the labs could be locked down, but the Drakul nonetheless broke out from the labs, while the Redlight simply penetrated the wall and continued to spread.

Diplomat Class Cultural Vessel:
Length: 3,000 meters

The less scientific sister ship of the Nautilus Class Exploration Ship, the Diplomat Class Cultural Vessel is a vessel meant to reflect the other role of the Imperial Exploration Corps; converting natives and promoting Cybusian culture on worlds newly incorporated into the Empire.
To this end, the Diplomat is well equipped. It’s interior is full of printing presses, an onboard newspaper, radio station, television studios, and a newsroom. It’s publicly accessible halls are glittering displays of Imperial architecture, Art Deco and Streamline Moderne on full display, the halls lined with reproductions of famed works of art from Cybusian artists. The vast library of the vessel doubles as a museum, housing relics and examples of artifacts and other exhibits from all eras of the Empire’s history. There is a vast Communal Palace, freely accessible to the public, onboard, as well as a vast and beautiful Mercerist temple, where theologians, missionaries, and priests work to spread the word of Mercer. Some vessels even have stores aboard. Vast lecture halls are used for lectures and demonstrations of the superiority of Imperial technology, while theaters, cinemas, and a concert hall are used to display Cybusian culture. Restaurants serve Imperial cuisine, and loudspeakers play music by Imperial artists, as Banshees and Bansheik demonstrate their supernatural abilities.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. After landing and inviting locals to tour the vessel, hordes of public speakers and propagandists pour out to travel the globe and distribute pamphlets and books, and give speeches from specially modified vans, trucks, trains, aircraft, and even ships and airships, which act as miniature versions of the Diplomat. The press corps of the Diplomat report on the newly incorporated world, and if there was one, cover it's conquest, to be made into newsreels for display at Imperial cinemas, while architects and engineers begin to gradually draft plans for new Cybusian-style cities, often incorporating elements of native architecture or culture as well. Propaganda films are shown for free, as meetings are organized to promote Mercerism and the development of local chapters of organizations such as the Order of The Raven and The Followers of The Apocalypse.
The very hull of the Diplomat also serves as a propaganda tool; beautiful and Art Deco in design, the hull is decorated with icons, engravings, and statues, no two ships the same. True to their name, Diplomat class vessels are unarmed, but are equipped with five shield generators and 6 feet of ACE and ERA armor under their hull decorations. Diplomats, like their sister ships, remain on station until their job is complete, which can take years.