1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 08

1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 08

Chapter 4

Regensburg, Bavaria

“I’m telling you, Tom, we’ve created a monster.” Rita Simpson set down her cup and made a face. “What I wouldn’t do for a cup of real coffee.”

Across the table in their small kitchen, her husband leaned back in his chair and regarded his wife with a calm, level gaze. “I’m trying to figure out how ‘we’ comes into this. I’m not the one who took Ursula Gerisch under his wing — and I’m certainly not the one who sent her up to Grantville to discuss religion with Veleda Riddle.”

He took a sip from his own cup. “I agree the coffee sucks. Which is not surprising since it’s not exactly coffee to begin with.”

Rita glared at him from beneath lowered brows. “It’s your fucking church, that’s why it’s ‘we.'”

Tom nodded. “Indeed, I am a member of the Episcopal Church — but I remind you that its official name is the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. United States of America, please note. Not Europe. As churches in the here and now go, it’s something of a waif. There were never very many Episcopalians in Grantville to begin with and my father and I only added two more to the number.”

He took another sip from the cup. “Technically, my mother’s a Unitarian, not an Episcopalian, although back up-time she probably spent more time at Dad’s church than her own — and now that’s she’s down-time she won’t go near anything that might even vaguely resemble a Unitarian congregation on account of. Well. You know. Best case scenario, she’d wind up associated with Polish Socinians — to whom she’s actually rather partial but given the current war with Poland and the fact that she’s an admiral’s wife it’s a tricky political situation. Worst case scenario she gets burned at the stake somewhere, which happened pretty often to the founders of Unitarianism in this the not-altogether-enlightened Early Modern Era.”

Rita frowned. “Really? Unitarians got burned at the stake? For Chrissake, they’re about as milk toast as any religion gets.”

“True — by the standards of the late twentieth century. But not today’s.” He shook his head. “History was never your strong suit, love.”

“That’s ’cause it’s boring.”

“How unfortunate for you, then, that you wound up living in a history book.” That came accompanied by a big grin.

Her returning smile was sour, sour. “Very funny. What’s your point?”

“Theologically speaking, Unitarianism can be traced all the way back to the apostolic age right after Jesus’ death. Arius was one of the founders — depending on how you look at it — and Arianism was probably the first of the great heresies. There’ve been oodles of people burned at the stake ever since if they get associated with it. The burning parties are pretty ecumenical, too. So far as I know, Luther never set a torch to a pile of kindling himself with a Unitarian perched on it, but he denounced Unitarian ideas as being responsible for the rise of Islam — ”


“Oh, yeah. There’s a reason — bunch of ’em, actually — that I’m not a Lutheran. But moving right along, Calvin — that would be the Calvin, the one they named Calvinism after — had Michael Servetus burned at the stake in Geneva back in the middle of the last century. Not to be outdone, the Catholics had him burned in effigy a short time afterward.”

He drained the cup, made a face, and set it down on the table. “Stuff really is crappy. Anyway, to get back to where we started, the long and the short of it is that being an American Episcopalian these days means having to deal with the Anglican Church — and given the awkward relations the USE has with England, that means in practice dickering with Archbishop Laud since he’s now in exile and is at least willing to talk to us.”

“Like I said!” Rita’s tone was triumphant. “It’s your church.”

“Formally speaking, yes. But I’m what you might call my father’s brand of Episcopalian. Sophisticated, progressive — at least on social issues; you don’t want to get my dad started on economics — and, most of all, relaxed on the subject of religion in general. Veleda Riddle, on the other hand — that would be the woman that you told Ursula she ought to talk to — is what my mother calls a Samurai Episcopalian.”

Rita frowned. “Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?”

“I think so — but Veleda Riddle does not. And therein lies the source of your current unease. Because Ursula — who is your protégé, I remind you, not mine — has returned from Grantville filled with the fanatical zeal of the convert.”

“Who ever heard of a fanatic Episcopalian? And what would you call that, anyway? High church holy rolling?”

They heard the door to their apartment opening. They kept it unlocked because, first, the door had no lock; second, because Tom kept procrastinating about getting a workman to install one; and, finally, because the story of what had happened to the Bavarian soldiers who got slaughtered while breaking into Tom and Rita’s apartment in Ingolstadt was by now very widespread. The odds that anyone would try to steal anything from them were so low that they didn’t really need a lock anyway.

Julie Sims came into the kitchen, with her daughter Alexi in tow. “You wouldn’t believe what Ursula’s up to now,” she said. Her expression was a peculiar mix of amusement and something very close to horror.

“Don’t tell me,” said Rita.

“Of course I’m going to tell you. It’s your fault in the first place.”

“Told ya,” said Tom.


Elsewhere in Regensburg, the same Ursula Gerisch that Tom, Rita and Julie had been discussing was creating a different sort of ruckus. This one, of what might be called a technical-military nature, not a theological one.

“Stefano doesn’t like the new bomb pots. He says they’re too heavy.”

Bonnie Weaver squinted at Ursula, her expression one of unalloyed suspicion. “You can’t be that naïve, Ursula.” A spiteful part of Bonnie’s soul was tempted to add given your own history but that would just be cruel. Unfair, too. Whether the stories that Ursula had been not much better than a prostitute when Rita rescued her were true or not, it was indubitably true that since that rescue Ursula had led a life that was completely untainted by carnal excess. Religious excess, yes; whoring, no.

Ursula frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, come on! What Stefano really cares about is that he wants Mary Tanner Barancek to stay on as his so-called ‘co-pilot’ –”

“She is capable of piloting their airship. Pretty well. I’ve seen her myself.”

“Fine.” Bonnie waved a rather plump hand. “Doesn’t matter how good she is as a co-pilot. The Powers-That-Be have decreed that any member of an airship crew has to be able to double in every capacity. That means bomb-handlers have to be able to fly the ship, in a pinch — and pilots and co-pilots have to be able to heave bombs overboard. However much those bombs weigh.”

Ursula looked a bit sulky. “Those new bombs are heavy.”


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48 Responses to 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 08

  1. VernonNemitz says:

    Last I heard Julie Sims was in Scotland. Seems I’ve missed a relevant story or two, if she is now in Regensburg.

    • dave o says:

      Julie and her husband had to leave Scotland after the last book. He’s a cavalry officer in the army again.

    • sensei says:

      At the very end of Snippet 2, it says that Stearns’ Third Division now has Alex McKay’s calvary unit attached to it, and that Alex had recovered from the wound he incurred in Scotland in time to participate in the prior year’s Polish campaign.

    • Stewart says:

      and shouldn’t that be Julie MacKay now ?? Hmmmm ?

  2. dave o says:

    It will be interesting to find out what a fanatic Episcopalian is fanatic about.

    • Andy says:

      To me, church politics is the least interesting topic in books by Eric Flint and/or David Weber…

      And this topic is coming back again and again…

    • Tweeky says:

      I’m trying to imagine a fanatic anglican but my imagination is failing me;-).

      • Bret Hooper says:

        Tom’s discussion was pretty accurate, except for one fact which has always been omitted in 163x: Mary is said to be a Unitarian, but in 1961 the American Unitarian Association merged with the Universalist Church of America to form the Unitarian Universalist Association, so for the last 39 years before the RoF, Mary had been a UU.

  3. cka2nd says:

    I imagine that it takes a certain degree of fanaticism to be a missionary, and Anglicanism is famous for its missionaries and missionary societies.

    • Matthew says:

      If you go to Northeast India, the various tribes and such used to be non Hindu fetishists/animists…. but exposure to Americans during WW2 due to the fighting in Burma opened them up to missionary activity.

      So now you can go to Nagaland and places that were headhunters 60 years ago have become fierce baptists/methodists/Anglicans/Episcopalians…. i.e. whatever American church group got there first.

  4. Positroll says:

    “but he denounced Unitarian ideas as being responsible for the rise of Islam”
    Well, responsible is a bit hard, but do modern Episcopalians really doubt that the differences between the (greek) orthodox church and Arminianism was one major weakening factor (besides Justinian severely overextending by trying to get back Italy Spain; climate change; diseases / plague; constant war with Persia) of the Eastern Roman Empire?

    It also seems to me (but I’m surely no expert on this question) that due to this infighting Mohammed completely misunderstood the relatively minor relevance of the whole question for the concept of what Christianity is, thus being led to believe that he might have the recipe to reunite both sites of (eastern) Christianity by adding his own prophecy … ?

    in other words: Christianity is really about Christ’s message and lots less about his nature (fully or partly god or human). Early Christianity fought mostly about Q2, while too often ignoring Q1 (love your enemies!), which led Mohammed to a Prophecy that mostly consists of rules even more specific than the ones in the Old Testament. Never mind that Jesus had been working to make those specific rules more “humane” by referring to basic principles instead (love God, love your neighbor; the Sabbath is made for humans, not the other way round). Mohammed could thus only be rejected by Christians and never really understand why …

    Of course, from the point of view of the losers in the inner-Christian civil war, the Arminians, being second class citizens in the Muslim umma seemed a better deal (at least short term) than being burned at the stake by the orthodox Empire, which is why especially Egypt didn’t put up much fight against the Arab invaders, from what I have read so far …

    • dave o says:

      So far as I am aware, the Arminian Faith was dead in the Eastern Empire. I imagine the the rivalry with Persia had a lot more to do with the failure of the Empire than any disputes about theology, But I’ll check google on the arminians

      • dave o says:

        Back again. Well I was wrong. The Monophysites were as much Arrian as anything else, and they were persecuted by the Emperors. But the endless wars between the Empire and Persia were still what made the rise of Islam possible.

        BTW Arrianism is not the same as Arminianism which a relatively recent belief, Dutch in origin. How similar, I leave to Christians to say.

        • Positroll says:

          Eh, my bad. typed too fast. I meant the followers of Arianus (including Monophysites) as discussed in the snippet, not the Dutch faction …

        • Bjorn Hasseler says:

          Not remotely similar. Arminians are explicitly Trinitarian and originate in the late 1500s/early 1600s as a reaction to Dutch Calvinism.

        • John Cowan says:

          No connection between Arians and Arminians at all (or Arians and Aryans, either). The last Arians were the Goths. Arians held that Jesus was a created being, which aligns them with Socinians/Unitarians. This makes them heretics to all four branches of Christianity: Catholic (including the Protestant offshoots), Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian Church of the East.

          It’s the Oriental Orthodox who were called monophysites by the other branches, because they supposedly believed that Jesus was mixed human and divine. They themselves, however, take the miaphysite position that his humanity and divinity were fused together without mixture but also without separation. The Catholic/Orthodox position is that Jesus was entirely human and entirely divine at the same time.

          In short, the whole dispute is much like the American right vs. left dispute: each attributes to the other a soulless caricature of their true positions, and as proof, points to the rare fanatics who actually do hold those caricatured positions as if they represented the mainstream.

          (I’m a heathen who was married to a freethinker by a Socinian, and I’m interested in theology as part of my general interest in everything full of complicated details.)

          • Bret Hooper says:

            @John Cowan: The way the Arians became heretics is that just prior to the convocation at which they were so declared, they were about equal in numbers with the Trinitarians, so to assure their victory at said convocation, the Trinitarians exterminated as many Arians as they could find, making it clear to the remaining Arians that they had better get out of town, and not show up at the convocation.

    • Jeff Ehlers says:

      Arianism, not Arminianism. The latter was the result of a Dutch theologian named Joseph Arminius.

      Also, it sounds like you’re confusing Arianism and Monophysitism here, since Monophysitism was strong in the southern Levant areas such as Egypt (and presumably Syria/Palestine and other such areas which also went over to Islam fairly quickly), whereas Arianism was based more in Europe. It was also suppressed around the 7th century, and only resurfaced after the Protestant Reformation.

      Frankly, it’s extremely doubtful that the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire had anything at all to do with the differences between Greek Orthodoxy and Arianism, considering that the Eastern Roman Empire (aka Byzantine Empire) hung on until after 1450 AD, when it was finally conquered by the Ottomans. Justinian’s attempt to reconquer the western portions of the Roman Empire caused Greco-Roman civilization to splinter and probably resulted in the conditions which allowed the rapid spread of Islam, but the Byzantine Empire lasted close to a thousand years after that, and was quite strong for most of that time.

      The one thing, more than any other, which sounded the eventual death knell of the Byzantine Empire was the sack of Constantinople in 1204 (caused by political infighting when someone hijacked the Fourth Crusade), which caused such a decline that it could not effectively resist the Ottoman conquests later on.

      • Positroll says:

        1) my mistake , see above – 2 minutes late … :(
        2) I seem to remember that monophysites are a subgroup of the Arianus inspired family of faiths. Do I need to check on Wikipedia?

        3) Fun fact: most Germanic tribes (especially the Visigoths and the Langobards) also took on variants of the Arian faith. Which is why they stayed separated from their roman subject. The exception: The Francs – which is why they became the most successful successor state of the Western Roman Empire – leading in the end to Carolus Magnus becoming Emperor of Rome in 800 which led in turn to the HRE that Stearns and GARS destroy …

        • AJNolte says:

          Actually monophysites were just about the theological opposite of Arians. Arius taught that Christ was not divine, but rather a created being higher than the angels and lower than God. Eutichius, the teacher responsible for monophysitism, taught that Christ’s human and divine natures were not distinct and separate but one and united.

          As a side note: “apostolic age” should read “patristic age”, as there’s no evidence for anything like Unitarianism before Arius.

          • Positroll says:

            So basically they both disagreed with the orthodox mainstream about the same question, just that one of the was to “the far left” and the other one “to the far right” of the question?

            • Bjorn Hasseler says:

              As long as one acknowledges that “left” and “right” have absolutely nothing to do with modern politics.

              While the Goths became Arian later on, Arianism’s heyday was in the 300s. But at the Council of Nicea in 325, it turned out that “Arian” covered three separate position, the largest of which turned out to actually be in agreement with the Trinitarians. Following the Council of Nicea, the more extreme Arians refused to accept the decision and proceeded to get Athanasius, one of the leading Trinitarian spokesmen, exiled five times. In the mid-300s, the Cappadocians (Basil of Caesarea, his brother Gregory of Nyssa, their older sister Macrina, and their friend Gregory of Nazianzus) clarified the linguistic differences between the Greek-speaking East and Latin-speaking West.

              The next big council was at Constantinople in 381. It clarified the findings of Nicea, which resulted in the Nicene Creed. Meanwhile a new position had been proposed, that Christ had a divine soul in a human body, becoming a “third thing”. This view-Apollinarianism-was rejected.

              The equal and opposite view to Apollinarianism was Nestorianism, which held that Christ had a fully divine person and a fully human person that weren’t connected at all. This was rejected by councils at Ephesus in 431 and Chalcedon in 451, but the Church of the East continued to hold to it. And they did extensive missionary work even further east.

              Then Eutychianism proposed that Christ’s human nature was analagous to a drop of water in the ocean that was the divine nature. This was also rejected at Chalcedon in 451. Monophysitism or miaphysitism rejected the definition of Chalcedon and proposed that Christ has a single nature, united in the soul. Monophysitism rejected Eutychianism, but Chalcedonians consider the two to be different flavors of the same problem.

      • Positroll says:

        That’s why I said Eastern Roman Empire, not Byzantine Empire. The Eastern Rome under Justinian (with most of Italy accepting the Emperor in Byzantium as their overload, at least in theory), was completely different animal than the Byzantine Empire reduced to the Balkans and Anatolia. Basically Eastern Rome lost its most economically progressive and rich areas (Egypt and Syria) and was able to keep the areas that produced good soldiers. That let them live for another few centuries, but the origin of their doom was earlier …
        (and of course the Turks most likely never become Muslim and try to conquer Anatolia if politically Islam stays limited to the Arab peninsula …)

        • Jeff Ehlers says:

          The Islamic conquests of those portions of the Eastern Roman Empire was around 650 CE. The Byzantine Empire lasted until around 1450 CE. 800 years is more than a few centuries by any reasonable measure.

          Furthermore, the Eastern Roman Empire was centered on Constantinople ever since the division of the Roman Empire by Diocletian. Losing some of its outlying provinces, even prosperous ones, wouldn’t have made it substantially different. As a case in point, Constantinople became the wealthiest city in Europe by around 1100 CE.

          Also, the Eastern Roman Empire was first referred to as the Byzantine Empire more than a hundred years after its final conquest. I’m pretty sure they would have continued to call themselves the Roman Empire all along.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “Justinian’s attempt to reconquer the western portions of the Roman Empire caused Greco-Roman civilization to splinter and probably resulted in the conditions which allowed the rapid spread of Islam”

        OTOH it resulted in the Bishop of Rome (who would become a Constantinople’s appointee for centuries to come) acquiring the honorific “papas”, which will later became the Pope. ;)

        “sack of Constantinople in 1204 (caused by political infighting when someone hijacked the Fourth Crusade)”

        Not “someone” but Venice and (to a lesser extend) the Curia of Rome.

        P.S. Which still don’t explain Luther’s point about “causing the islam” though.

    • Bjorn Hasseler says:

      Actually Christianity is about both your Q1 and Q2 questions: Q1 People can live up to the moral teachings only in Christ and Q2 Who does Christ have to be in order to save?

  5. AJNolte says:

    Luther had a philosophical point in linking Unitarianism and Islam, since Islam certainly is Unitarian. The main theological split between Christianity and Islam is really focused on the trinity. Historically, of course, he’s totally wrong; there’s no link between the Arians–closest thing to Unitarianism you get at the time–and Islam. Interestingly, Chesterton makes the same point about the philosophical links between Unitarianism and Islam several centuries later.

  6. Anonymouse says:

    Just a reminder to the readers:
    Engineering posts, not religious posts, get the most comments.
    So let’s address the important question here: how do we make lighter pots or are there any alternative materials for the pots ?

    • Doug Lampert says:

      One assumes the pots are already as light as can be managed while still having the desired payload and containment/shrapnel. They’re being carried by airships, so light is (very) good. Every ounce you could have saved but didn’t is that much less fuel or fewer bombs.

      One solution to the “copilot isn’t strong enough to lift this” would be to put the pots hanging in netting outside the gondola, open the net, the pot drops without anyone on board needing to lift a heavy bomb. This has significant advantages if you want to dump your load RIGHT NOW for some reason (and there are multiple things that could go wrong and make a fast dump desirable). Easier dropping mechanisms also makes it easier to dump multiple bombs at once or in a very short time.

      I’d work on the release mechanism, not the payload weight, come up with a lighter bomb case and whoever’s designing these things will simply go to a bigger bomb.

    • Johnny says:

      Drop bombs through murder holes instead of heaving them over the side. Far more reasonable and allows for much heavier bombs.

      • Positroll says:

        maybe in rows hold by metal sticks or even ropes gong through a ring at the top of the bomb? You withdraw the stick or cut the rope and a row of bombs drops ?

        • Johnny says:

          Very nice!
          With access to some machining you could probably set up a line of hooks or hoops hanging from a track. Crank a lever to move the hooks forward, and rig it so there is a mechanical catch that releases the hook as the bomb is directly over the murder hole. The hooks/hoops could be re useable, as in they release the bomb, or sacrificial, as in the track releases the bomb and hook together.

          You could have the bottom of the bombs hang about 2′ from the floor so there is room for a 1′ toe kick at the murder hole for safety. Set up the track so it comes over a small table with bombs ready to connect. Roll or slide a bomb into position, hook it on the track, crank it forward. One crew member to crank, one to roll bombs forward on the loading table, one to hook up bombs on the table, probably an observer as well.

          Now we have big, rapid-release bombs that only require sliding or rolling and strength to crank instead of to heave over a railing.


  7. Johnny says:

    *hanging from a circular track. Hooks go from loading table to drop point and then back around for re-loading.

  8. Positroll says:

    what’s the policy on fan fic on this page? I’m asking because
    (1) I was bored this afternoon waiting for some plumbers and wrote a short story wrt European sports (1800 words) … First part below … I think after some quick editing by a native speaker it could fit on Baens ebook page as a very short story to celebrate the current Olympics (else, Gazette?)
    (2) During some rainy sunday evenings I started, just for fun, writing some stuff in the jao-verse. Just to fill some holes. Now I am almost done and closing in on 80.ooo words. No typo. Any idea what I should do with that? Small sample included below too …

    • Positroll says:

      Not invented here
      By Positroll

      Magdeburg, March 1636, an early Monday morning
      Gustavus II Adolphus, Emperor of the United States of Europe, High King of the Union of Kalmar and King of Sweden, was bored. It wasn’t that he didn’t have enough to do, with the ongoing war in Poland and the upcoming campaign against Bavaria – it was just that the kind of things he got to do since he had been hit over the head hard with a lance by a Polish hussar were all of the boring, paper-shuffling and talking kind of sort. Important stuff, true, but boring. No more cavalry charges for him. No hunting on horseback. No training with his sword. Not fits of pique that allowed him to smash furniture into small pieces …
      There were the Arts. The one or other opera he could watch. But that all lacked real drama. Sure, there were campaigns to plan – but he had good commanders and didn’t want to micromanage them from Magdeburg.
      One potential safety valve might be watching live sports. As he was currently explaining to Oberst (Colonel) Richard Gruber, who was in charge of the department of the war ministry that made sure that the armed forces were well fed, clothed and stayed in good physical health, which included all kind of sports practiced by the armed forces.
      The list of possible spectator sports that he had heard until now didn’t impress him, though.
      First options to come to mind was soccer. Arguably a very German sport (even though originally invented in England). Good for endurance thanks to lots of running. But it was dominated by the Committees of Correspondence, which didn’t do at all for this purpose. Also, one goal in 90 minutes – could it get more boring than that?
      Second option: Baseball. But while playing it might be fun (no chance with his doctors) Gustav Adolph equated watching baseball to watching paint dry. It was all about statistics. And way too American.
      Same problem with number three, American football. From a military point of view, the perfect training to fight in platoons. But apart from that fundamental Americanness of the Game you would need to field small armies of men the size of Major Simpson to play it right. Such men – blacksmiths and stevedores, maybe? – were rare and he needed them right where they were – or in the real army.
      Someone had even proposed golf. Again, something he might try doing when the doctors allowed him to, but watching it took up way too much time.
      Basketball? Had its allure, but whenever you touched someone, it was a foul. That didn’t do. Also, way too American.
      “So you see my problem, Colonel Gruber?”
      “I think so, your Majesty. You are looking for an interesting spectator team sport. With lots of action, bodily contact and a clear scoring system. If possible invented in Scandinavia or Germany, or at least a neutral country. And if it teaches skills that can be used for military purposes, it would be perfect. “
      “Exactly. I expect you back here next Monday, same time.”
      Colonel Gruber took first his leave, then the next train to Grantville to have a look at library and to talk to the PE teachers.

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      I’ve passed the question onto Eric.

    • Walt Boyes says:

      We would prefer that you not post “fanfic” here. We have kept control of the Ring of Fire Universe by asking that if you want to write fiction, that you post it in the 1632 Slush conference on Baen’s Bar. You will get critiqued, and if it is good enough to be published in the Grantville Gazette or in an anthology, you will get paid.

      Walt Boyes, editor
      The Grantville Gazette

      • Positroll says:

        Thanks- I remember dimly trying to register there once a couple years ago but it somehow didn’t work out. I guess I can try again …

        DRAK – WRT the Jao piece (once finished over the weekend), is there an email I could send it to, in case s.o. is interested in it? If not, I’ll just use it to entertain myself … ;)

        • Positroll says:

          Buuwaaa …. *sniff* Now I posted it over on the Baen page and was told I am not allowed to play with Erics toys (aka Gustav Adolph and Admiral Simpson. Life is unfair … :( *sniff*

  9. Positroll says:

    Home fleet home
    by Positroll

    That was when the door chime sounded. When Wrot checked, it was Captain Miller, the new commander of Caitlin Kralik’s bodyguard detail, and Tamt, Caitlins personal bodyguard.
    He let them in, signing amused astonishment. “You are leaving Director Kralik unsupervised?”
    Captain Miller smiled. “She and her husband decided they wanted to take their honeymoon now, before they are sent who-knows-where again. Somehow, Lieutenant General Kralik thought that having bodyguards present for that would somehow ruin the whole experience. So he rented the most remote American governed Pacific Island he could find, had Governor Aille put an armed ship on automatic over-watch from a distance, took a heavy sniper gun with him and promised any and all who disturbed them within a week a horrible death. I don’t think that includes Governor Aille or President Stockwell, but it should keep the paparazzi at bay.”
    While Miller was evidently in the best of moods, Tant seemed to take the whole thing with lots less amusement. Like Wrot, she could only try to understand how humans felt about mating, but the two species behaved very different in this regard. And she clearly missed Caitlin, her first friend in a very long time.
    “So what brings you to my office?”
    “Well, Tant and I were discussing what you told me about Hemm being located on a green moon, without any oceans. It seems to me that your kochan mates have to miss the ocean a lot, even if they have nice pools.”
    “True. We have good pools and even a few lakes for swimming, but while the salts we added are fine, it’s not the same. The biggest lack is waves. Outside the water, things just not smell right without the breaking of the waves, and inside things don’t feel right.” He shrugged. “Which is why we tend to visit the main Wathnak world and its oceans as often as possible.”
    “That’s what I thought. Come on, follow us. We got to show you something. Won’t take long.” Both Miller and Tant looked – well, exited, but also a little mischievous.
    “I am really busy.”
    “Come on. You won’t regret it. I promise.”
    Wrot sighed. He knew Miller well enough by now that nothing but a direct order could get her to let go of this idea – and she wasn’t in his chain of command. Which meant he would have to bother Aille about it. And truth to tell, he needed a change of scenery. So he followed the two to their maglev car.
    After they left the base, it took them maybe 20 minutes driving inland until Tant stopped their vehicle behind a huge oval building in the midst of what was clearly a midsized population center. Evidently both still wanted to preserve the surprise, as they took a small side entrance guarded by one of Millers troopers, without any signs to divine the function of the building.
    He didn’t have to go in far before his senses told him something impossible. The ocean was 50 miles that way – and still he could smell the salts and hear the waves just in front of him. Miller opened a door and waved him through. At that point he didn’t care about questions of precedence. He almost raced out of the door to find himself on a terrace overlooking the ocean. Well, overlooking what seemed at first glance to be the ocean. At second glance it became evident that he was inside a domed building that was designed and painted to resemble part of the ocean and a beach covered in sand, with lines of boulders separating the beach into three areas. So much he could understand. In fact, there were a few such places on Hemm to help his kochan mates relax and one similar mating pool. What those places missed however was the most glaring feature of this place: big waves were rolling onto the beach, filling the air with the right amount of little droplets.
    He looked at Tant, then Miller. “How do they do that?” he asked. Miller shrugged. “Ollnat, of course.” She twinked. “Let me show you.” They re-entered the hidden passageway they had come in through, and Miller led them towards the “ocean” side of the building. There, he could see first a bunch of machines with hydraulic pistons. Those pistons led to a series of six metal plates in three separate boxes that were fixed along their long side to the bottom and attached to one other plate with rubber connectors. Then the pistons moved all at once, pushing the upper part of the plates forward – and creating a wave. A small one at first, that got bigger as it approached the beach. Then another similar wave. Then a bigger one. Then a real big one. Then again two small ones … and so on … Then the rhythm changed, and the right-most plate on the right side started, then the next one joining in, one after that other until it reached the left-most plate on the left – and created a wave that run crosswise to the beach. And again the size of the waves changed …
    Wrot was entranced. It was so simple – and still produced so graceful a result. After a while, a chime sounded and after a last big wave the pistons stopped. “Why did they stop?”
    “Making the waves requires a lot of energy and puts a lot of wear and tear on the machinery, which costs a lot of money. Also, for humans, who aren’t that great swimmers, navigating the waves is fun but tiring. So they make waves for 10 minutes, then have a quiet period for 20 minutes. Then the whole thing repeats itself.”
    Wrot shook himself. “I will try the waves myself during the next period. Then you will put me in contact with the company producing these things.”
    “Their CEO is already waiting for us in the restaurant area. I transmitted to him the plans of some of your existing relaxation areas and they have prepared guides for installing their machines. I told him Terra Taif would buy them as a present for Hemm. They also have made a plan for a similar but bigger machine to put in the middle of one of your small lakes. But you would have to produce that under license locally.
    If you want really big waves in big pools, you need elevated reservoirs to quickly flush one side of the pool with lots of water, after first lowering the overall level a little with pumps to avoid too much flooding.” She looked at Wrot and hesitated for a moment, not sure whether there could be such a thing as too much flooding for a Jao. Then she pressed on:
    “Usually you recover most of the water in a return canal. That’s easiest if you shape the whole thing like an Omega. Anyways, BuShips is considering whether they can add this or similar technology – like accordion mechanisms or blowing pressurized air on one side of a pool – to at least one pool in the bigger ships … ”

    • cka2nd says:

      Could be a very profitable export item for Terra Taif.

      • Positroll says:

        Nah, not really. The basic tech is very simple, easily copied and afaics can be reproduced using already existing parts. Any competent Jao tech should be able to duplicate it. And given that the Bavarian King Ludwig II (he of Neuschwanstein Castle fame) had his engineers construe an electric wave making machine in the 19th century, patent law won’t help either, even if the Jao were to recognize it …
        If anything, you could make money via a kind of consulting firm that teaches Jao how to best adapt the tech to local conditions …

  10. cka2nd says:

    If any of you are interested in the role that Monophysitism and its suppression by the Orthodox Church played in the relative ease with which Islam took over Egypt and the Levant from the Eastern Roman Empire, your really must read the Belisaius series plotted by David Drake and written by Eric Flint. The authors also discuss how Emperor Justinian’s draining and destructive attempts to re-conquer the lands of the former western empire, and the enormous resources spent on building churches, eased the path of the Bubonic Plague, named the Plague of Justinian at the time, and constrained how the empire could respond to it.

    You should also read the Belisaius series because it is just all kinds of fun.

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