Friday, 2 January 2015

Command Structure of Aa+t

(This post makes use of letters and sounds that cannot currently be described with the technology available to Blogger. Available figures have been used as stop-gaps. For reference '+' is the lower case version of '@'. Scrap is working on the technology to communicate this to you more fully.)

The Ark-Eater Prime eats Arks and has the right of first consumption of any religious relic found on Aa+t, this right supersedes even the Navarch itself, the only circumstance in which it does not exercise ultimate sovereignty.

The Ark-Eater commands the Grist-Things, specialist officers with particular duties, and the Fistulix, through the First Fistulix.

The Fistulix command the Mid-Ship Souls and they command the Basic Souls.

The correct form of command is that any direct order from superior to immediate inferior, that is, from First Fistulix to Second Fistulix, or from Ocular to Ocular Gap, is given with the Prefix 'Mister', and then the Title of that post. This is done regardless of the gender shape or form of anyone involved. In the case of the relationship between a Grist-Thing and their immediate inferior this may be shortened to the second part of the title, but the prefix of 'Mister' may not be ignored. So the Bonesman may refer to their Mate as 'Mister Mate' or the Quibbler to their Regrettable as 'Mister Regrettable', but never simply 'Mate' or 'Regrettable'.

The Navarch need only extend this privilege to the Ark-Eater Prime "Mister Ark-Eater" or "Mister Prime" are both acceptable, but will often pay the Grist-Things the respect of using their title as well i.e. "Neatly done Mister Visceral".

Nevertheless the Navarch communicates mainly with the Ark-Eater Prime and its Murder Man, it is rare for other members of the crew to receive a direct order from it, although it has the right of Full Command of Aa+t.

Personal names are used only in cases of unusual closeness or assumed failure. To hear you name spoken by a Superior means either that they are very happy or very upset. If this is done in public then it is almost always a reprimand.

The First Fistulix has a superior position to, though not technical command over, the Grist-Things. Any order given must be given "with civility", that is, phrased as a request and with the correct title used in full, along with prefix. i.e. "Mister Bonesman would you kindly flense me a bucket of clavicles."

This is extended even to the Grist-Things Mate, who are considered to be extensions of the Grist-Things position.

When an order 'leaps the chain', and is given directly to an inferior two or more positions down then the prefix of 'Mister' need not be used. Only the basic title, or, in the case of basic Souls, simply 'You' or 'That'.

This can lead to complex situations if the number of Bonesmans Mates, or Eradicators Mates is massively expanded, (not an unusual occurrence in cases of Moon Ape invasion or damage to the wheel) then the First Fistulix will address a members of this sometimes huge mob of uncertain Souls 'with civility' - "Mister Mate would you kindly suppress those Apes by force", whist addressing the Third Fistulix, someone who would usually outrank by far a Basic Soul, with near contempt: "Dammn you Fistulix, slaver those groins!"

Likewise, a Grist-Thing formally outranks any Fistulix other than First, but any orders must be phrased 'with civility' in the same manner.

There can be brutal arguments between the Grist-Things mates and mid-ranking Fistulix over precedence and authority. Though technically the Grist-Things Mate does have the advantage so long as their orders are phrased correctly. Even the Regrettable Quibbler may order a Fistulix, though they would be unwise to try.

Basic Souls are made up if three ranks. The first and lowest is the 'Rational Soul', so named because they are used as rations by the rest of the crew. This encompasses 90% of the population of Aa+t in most circumstances.

Above them are the 'Hungry Souls', these are formerly Rational Souls who have feasted upon their own kind. This marks them out as potential recruits into the command structure of Aa+t.

Above the Rational Souls are Old Souls. This includes any individual who has sailed with the Navarch on multiple journeys, yet has not been promoted. An unusual position indeed. While Hungry Souls and Rational Souls are made up of the basic population of Aa+t, the Old Soul can be almost any kind of Soul at all. They are extremely evil.

Most Old Souls hunger for promotion, either to Mid-Ship Souls or A Grist-Things Mate. If they fail to be promoted over several trips they are commonly referred to as 'an Old Old Soul'. There are some very old old souls who are actually happy in their position and have sailed with Aa+t longer than some members of the crew, they are a source of strange tales and disturbing wisdom.

There exist also Centrifugal Souls. They occupy an unusual position, not only physically, but also within the command structure of Aa+t. They consist of any individual who has found their way to the weightless centre of Aa+t and hangs there suspended yet alive. By the custom of Aa+t, these creatures exist outside the hierarchy, meaning they can neither command, nor be commanded. Therefore they cannot be Rational Souls, therefore they cannot be eaten.

No member of the crew of Aa+t may forcibly remove any Centrifugal Soul from their strange position, they may only request, 'with all due respect and observance of form' that they come down. Though once they do come down they can then be considered Rational Souls and eaten.

Most Centrifugal Souls simply starve to death.

Though all Grist-Things technically occupy the same rank, in reality there is an informal order of precedence.

The Murder Man is usually ranked first amongst them. In cases of the death or demotion of the Ark-Eater Prime, they are usually replaced by either the First Fistulix or the Murder Man. For this reason there is a constant rivalry between them.

The Murder Man is in primary charge of the Navarchs supply of 'rations', which brings them into direct contact with the Navarch itself. Often they become extremely skilled at Navigation although, obviously, nowhere near as effective as the Navarch. They will usually hide these skills well, if they are seen to be too able or to know too much, they may be rationalised, yet, if Aa+t is in danger and the Navarch requests assistance, to make anything less than a total effort would have disastrous implications. The position is a complex one.

The Bonesemans chief responsibility is providing bones for the wheel, a vital task. Since the Navarch may request almost any kind of bone and in any numbers, this is a difficult position to fill and is one of the most common vehicles of promotion in Aa+t. If the Navarch orders 'one hundred skulls for the wheel', the Bonseman must hurry and recruit mates from the ships souls to complete the order.

Skill in retrieving bones can provide ready advancement into the rank of Bonesmans Mate, especially smaller and more unusual bones that are difficult to retrieve by brute force. A salamanders cochlear bone, for instance.

The Visceral is in charge of feeding the crew. An uninteresting position unless Aa+t should start to run low on souls, in which case the Visceral has charge of deciding which members of the crew are eaten and in in which order. A rank which grows in powerful the longer the journey goes on.

The Ape Eradicator is in charge of defending Aa+t from infestations and 'minor' attacks from the hull. Most commonly infestations of Moon-Apes who climb in through the stern and steal Souls. Though they can also be employed against any other threat which rides the hull of Aa+t.

Like the Bonesman the Ape-Eradicator may recruit as many Mates as are required to fulfil their duties, sometimes a very large number indeed, depending on the number of Apes. This makes the position another excellent vehicle for promotion, one of the few which does not necessarily require consumption of Souls.

The Ape Eradicator and its Mates are one of the few ranks expected to go outside onto the hull of Aa+t, leading to dangerous levels of total insanity. "As mad as the Eradicators Mate" is a common phrase.

The worst circumstance any Ape Eradicator can conceive is if Apes should enter Aa+t from the prow, in full view of the Navarch.

The Navarch is quite capable of defending itself, but the presence of Apes at the prow and not just the stern indicates a very large infestation indeed, one that should never have been allowed to grow as large as it has. In this case the Ape-Eradicator is almost always  be demoted or 'Rationalised'.

(Defending Aa+t from interdiction is the responsibility of the crew and 'all souls that can be compelled'.)

The Ocular has charge of maintaining awareness of the inside of Aa+t, usually reporting directly to the Ark-Eater Prime. The Ocular Gap is often projected or launched into the centre of Aa+t in order to get a better view. Though often tied to a long rope or some other device by which they may be retrieved, this does technically make them a Centrifugal Soul, at least while they retain their position. For this reason, they may refuse to come down if they wish, though the consequences can be dire.

The Quibbler queries orders, plans and processes and keeps a ships long, as well as a record of everything inside Aa+t that is not souls. It is not known for whom the Quibbler keeps its records, its certainly not the Navarch, although the Navarch does acknowledge the quibblers rank and role and if a Quibbler is killed the Navarch itself will interrupt the chain of command to appoint a new one in a private talk.

The Quibblers position involves keeping track of threats not only from inside or outside Aa+t, but from dangerous treasons in the crew itself. Most murders and assassinations are considered a reasonable and normal part of the process of commanding Aa+t, unless they occur with too great a frequency, but anything that could threaten the position of the Navarch (unthinkable) or endanger the journey itself might be considered a 'meaningful treason' and lead to a drum-head trial before the Navarch itself at which the Quibbler will give evidence and act as prosecution.

The Quibblers job also involves it keeping track of what would commonly be considered 'treasures' recovered from Aa+t. These are of little interest to the Crew, but often form the basis of plots by Rational Souls to take Aa+t by force.

The Regrettable Quibblers or 'Regretables' act as agents for the Quibbbler. This is another excellent vehicle for promotion inside Aa+t, as, loathed as much as the Quibbler themselves, but lacking the direct protection of their rank they often die in 'accidents' or 'dissapear'.


  1. I love it when a setting/story emerges from something parallel. Like how you can sometimes get a lot of knowledge about a setting by reading only its random tables, there's a lot here that's evocative that's not explicit.

    Also, fuck those moon apes.

  2. This is like Spelljammer: the Gormenghast edition. Delightful.

    (Which is in no way meant to diminish the tremendous original creativity shown here, of course)