Comic 1704 - Change of Subject

7th Jul 2021, 12:00 AM
Change of Subject
Average Rating: 5 (14 votes)
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Keith 7th Jul 2021, 12:33 AM edit delete reply
Defenestration has never looked so good...
Oldarmourer 7th Jul 2021, 3:47 AM edit delete reply
A wonderful word, use it and others like it everyday.
It's so much fun watching your 'superiors' cut a conversation short so they can go look it up :)
Ryu Santos 7th Jul 2021, 12:36 AM edit delete reply

Noctis for the win! ✌️

Alt. Text: Everyday 👿
Lurker314 7th Jul 2021, 1:26 AM edit delete reply

I'm no expert on Lamod (is that what it is called?), but surely "Imperatrix" means ruler (feminine). Acantha is not of age, and is therefore most certainly NOT ruler. That role is for Regent Maximus, whom I assume has received his appointment by the Senate, and will retain his position until an act of the Senate changes it. (It is possible that Acantha will automatically ascend when she becomes of age, but history suggests strongly that the Senate is likely to make it NOT automatic as a way to wrangle some sort of concession or another.)

oldastronomer 7th Jul 2021, 1:56 AM edit delete reply
There is not so much here that is crystal clear cut. Acantha has her own powerbase in the Senate, and a lot of general support among the general public - there are lots of little hints scattered here and there - border guards stating their appreciation, the general rank and file of soldery, (there must be others). Note that Maxus replied as to a superior in the last frame last comic! It's much more of a partnership of different equals than a rigid, legalistic heirachy. Rules are being squeezed/flexed - it's realpolitik in the raw. There's a different rigidity in Nova Roma, and slavery may well be part of it. A study of history shows that every great upheaval brings big problems, and both Maxus and Acantha will (or should be) well away of this. They will certainly want to try to move from equilibrium to equilibrium. Events may upturn this - slavery may well end abruptly in Nova Roma, and that will be very interesting to watch!
The overall political-legal setup in Nova Roma is not an Anglo-Saxon/Germanic derived abstract codification as we know it today; it's much more a collection of strong individuals mostly kept in line by the bastard with the hardest balls (so to speak). Maxus will use his position as Regent for Acantha, as much as Acantha will use Maxus as her Regent. It's going to be fascinating to see how it goes!!!
Lurker314 7th Jul 2021, 9:00 AM edit delete reply
I completely get all of that. Except for one small point. She. Is. Sixteen. I don't care how much the average Joe (or NR equivalent) loves her, only a complete idiot (or slimeball that thought they could control her) would want a child to be a functional ruler.

As I previously mentioned, our Princess is best served by having Maximus be the heavy & make changes which might not be entirely popular. To be seen publicly hand-in-glove both makes her personally responsible & dramatically harms Maximus' ability to handle the Senate. The former will merely have long-term damaging implications for her reign. In the worst case, the latter has repeatedly been shown to dramatically...shorten people...'s time in power.

Would she even be in this meeting if she were fourteen? Twelve? Eight?

And no, I'm not applying AS/G norms. I'm talking about human nature & what can possible work. And frankly, my case would be weaker if we were talking AS/G norms. Roman politics was a lot more dangerous as far as I can tell. (But I'm no historian.) AFAIK, if the Roman senate is any model for the polity in NR, Princess Acantha wants to be as far away from power as possible for at least the next several months.
Some Ed 7th Jul 2021, 3:59 PM edit delete reply
They are hoping she's *not* a functional ruler, specifically not experienced enough to handle the dodge they're throwing.

They want to blame all of their losses from piracy and theft to Nova Roma, and they're hoping they can get her to agree to it before she's prepared enough to actually discuss.
Oldarmourer 7th Jul 2021, 4:10 PM edit delete reply
more likely 'under the table wholesale' or 'job lot' deals rather than piracy...
oldastronomer 8th Jul 2021, 12:22 AM edit delete reply
Um... We're not in Kansas anymore. There have been capable people (in American revolutionary era even!) younger than 16. At 16, because of her previous quiet politicing, her power base among the Cassians, etc., she is a power in her own right. Not a child by NR standards. Young, yes. Just old enough to wield her portion of power. But old in savage experience, and it's showing after years hiding her self away from Dec (figuratively speaking).
Morituri 10th Jul 2021, 5:35 PM edit delete reply
Don't presume to know how a nation formed a thousand years from now, reviving a language with no current standards for usage of titles, is going to use their titles in detail. "Imperatrix" doesn't necessarily mean exactly the same thing as it would mean in first-century Rome.

Acantha is no longer somewhere in the line of succession. Maxus wields power in her name. And after a few years of her brother I'm betting most of Nova Roma would be ecstatic if she ruled directly, just as they are ecstatic to have Maxus ruling on her behalf. In both cases, they aren't Decimus.
Morituri 10th Jul 2021, 5:37 PM edit delete reply
Also of note, is that she's here, after all. She's doing deals and negotiation and planning on behalf of Nova Roma here, in the present. Maxus may be regent, but she's clearly not powerless.
Lurker314 7th Jul 2021, 1:33 AM edit delete reply
Are these jokers trying to start a war? Because these sorts of affronts are precisely the sort of garbage that ruin relationships. And no, I'm not particularly annoyed at 5-1-6. This is 100% Counselor Slimeball's game. No way does his _assistant_ repeatedly press an issue of this sort without being directed (one way or another) to do so.

Certainly, 5-1-6 is in need of an attitude adjustment, and I'm fine with defenstration for her and her puppetmaster. After all, a plasma blast on Center of Thought might well include sufficient force to knock someone through a window...
HiFranc 7th Jul 2021, 2:59 AM edit delete reply

More like create a narrative that could be used in elections and other political discussions.
Oldarmourer 7th Jul 2021, 3:44 AM edit delete reply
Maxus is no dummy, he realizes that Acantha isn't the same as douchey and if she makes it to her age of majority and claims the throne, his position depends on her whim and he kind of likes his job..and his head.
Therefore he offers her guidance not direction, as a wise Regent should.
516 would do well to remember that she's speaking to a foreign dignitary whose standing far eclipses her own and that antagonizing someone her superiors are trying to get on their side instead of alienate is a really, really, really, career limiting move.
Acantha at this point would be well within her rights to say "My part of Nova Roma's participation in this meeting is over as long as you remain here, tend to your own Houses" and leave 516 and smarmy-pants to Pinky's tender ministrations.
That or Noctis can lay a powerblade alongside her neck and we'll see just how fast Marcus really is ;)
megados 7th Jul 2021, 6:40 AM edit delete reply

Maxus' motives, as defined by his character development so far, are much more than just keeping his job/head. I think he would sacrifice his job/head to save Acantha, if need be. He is invested in making a better Nova Roma from the ashes of Decimus' regime. Acantha, for her part, is working toward the same end, so both are working for the healing and betterment of their home. I don't think either of them has any cynical ulterior motives.

Noctis, for her part, laid down a verbal power blade that got her point across, without making a mess on the carpet.
Oldarmourer 7th Jul 2021, 9:40 AM edit delete reply
They both have the betterment of Nova Roma at heart, or so we've seen so far, who knows what twists the Devious Duo have in mind...after all, Acantha shares some of deceased douchey's DNA and she does have the fishnets and tight corset ;)
But when all is said and done, when Acantha reaches the right age, which might not be 18...the age of consent and driving here is currently 16 not 18, as it is in most of the US, and the drinking age is 18 or 19, not 21 but things probably changed by the 38th century and it could have gone either way although if they follow the guidelines of Ancient Rome in Nova Roma then they change even more, SHE will be Imperiatrix, not Maxus and no matter how good a working relationship they might have, there can be only one...
gmg2dave 7th Jul 2021, 4:31 AM edit delete reply

See, Sir Slimeball gave away the game, if you notice he mentions "Billions of credits over the years" after 5-1-16 brings this up yet AGAIN, after getting shut down the first time.

Anyone want to take a guess at how much of this sudden windfall of cash will end up in HIS pockets? Not too mention this would certainly catapult him to prominence in, say, any elections he might be involved in.

Plus the added benefit of freeing all of those slaves, plus reparations' for said slaves. It will certainly make him wildly popular with the ex-slaves. Not too mention play great in the press. "Hey I got all these things done, and did it when Cent-Comm didn't/wouldn't."

And even if he gets shut down, he can crow to the press that he is the only one who is trying to "hold New Rome responsible."

He's really hitting all the angles here.
megados 7th Jul 2021, 5:09 AM edit delete reply

Mara and the Councillor obviously must have some vested interest in a settlement against Nova Roma. She really has a one-track mind. I suspect the only reason they are there, is money.

Re: Alt text, I think Noctis handled that quite well, showing that she's as capable in a verbal exchange as she is with her blade. Acantha was caught flat-footed, and Noctis served her well here.
Oldarmourer 7th Jul 2021, 9:29 AM edit delete reply
Money pales beside political power, which can get you a lot more money, some people just want to give orders and see them obeyed, others want the prestige and cash that comes wih a position.

I'm not quite as concerned with millionaires who become politicians as I am with the politicans who become millionaires AFTER they're elected.
Ictuan 7th Jul 2021, 1:16 PM edit delete reply
Look at Cent's look in the corner, looking at Noctis. She seems impressed. It's like "Damn, let me get the popcorn".
Oldarmourer 13th Jul 2021, 3:26 AM edit delete reply
"That's her in the corner, that's her in the sunlight, using her position"
It's early and my 'low caffeine' light is still blinking, if you can do better, and almost anyone could...
Please do so, we haven't had a musical interlude in ages ;)
Phoebe 7th Jul 2021, 11:02 AM edit delete reply
Acantha is far more mature than your average 16-year old (I mean, compare her to Lynn who is legally an adult and could have actually been allowed to rule); and already far better equipped at making decisions than her brother was. Maxus knows and respects that. As she respects him. They are working together, and regardless of who is legally allowed to sign off on any decisions, I would expect them to make said decisions together, now and even after she becomes an adult.
Plus, I would assume he is helping her get into the role of "Ruler". It's not like she would have to sit out of it all and suddenly BOOM! completely replaces Maxus on the day of her birthday. In a little over a dozen months she will be ruling; I would expect her to more and more be making tentative decisions and getting the OK from Maxus, rather than obeying him.
Oldarmourer 7th Jul 2021, 1:18 PM edit delete reply
Exactly, a good Regent should be listening to her directives, advising her where they might need a second look and then implementing them when they're suitable.
With any luck, Maxus will remain as an adviser after Acantha takes the throne, good advisers are hard to come by and it's a wise ruler who understands that what they personally want at first look isn't always the best thing in the end and is willing to listen before acting, bearing in mind that not all advice is good advice and sometimes unpleasant decisions will have to be made.
Oldarmourer 7th Jul 2021, 2:51 PM edit delete reply
To rephrase Noctis' response in current bureaucratese as heard in closed sessions such as this one...

"Fuck off, fuck off now !! and when you fuck off, fuck off quietly...and take him WITH you"
KarToon12 7th Jul 2021, 3:31 PM edit delete reply

She makes a good point. I'm sure Acantha would be more than willing to discuss this, but she needs all the facts first. And she only JUST became ruler, and the way she became ruler wasn't under anything close to normal circumstances. And she's only 16. Cut the poor girl a break.
Ebonbolt 8th Jul 2021, 7:08 PM edit delete reply

Additionally, she is just recovering from having a foreign object shoved through her chest, and the subsequent surgery to repair it. She don't need this stress right now, which is part of why Cent is softballing the current meeting (relatively).
Rashala 7th Jul 2021, 10:48 PM edit delete reply

You go noctis smack her down! Someone call the eats that aide just got 4th degree burned!
Gilrandir 7th Jul 2021, 11:58 PM edit delete reply
I wonder if Mara 516 realizes how she is shooting herself in the foot?

She seems about to make the argument that links repatriation of abducted New Troy citizens (taken as slaves, whether they be androids or natural humans) with the restoration of stolen properties to their ‘rightful owners’.

But, of course, if you treat citizens as property, you are reducing them to slaves, suggesting that New Troy is willing to be complicit in slavery, as long as they benefit from it. Liberating captives is (arguably) a very different matter from returning or compensating someone for a loss of property. Admittedly complicated by the blurry line involved by asking “When does a factory-fresh synthbrain become a person, and not property?”

Is it at the moment of conception? First trimester? Only after passing its Turing Test? When is commerce in synthbrains moral, and when does it become trafficking? In the world of DataChasers, is there a universally accepted international standard defining such things?
megados 8th Jul 2021, 5:25 AM edit delete reply

Mara doesn't seem to realize it at all, and as she shoots so wildly, it's inevitable that besides her foot, she's going to be hitting vital components before long.

One wonders why CentComm has requested their presence at all. They haven't added anything useful to the topic of discussion, and Mara seems to have only a desire to drag it off-topic. She then goes on to blur, or obliterate the distinction between un-imprinted synth-brains, and people, whether those people are organic humans or androids. Also, she seems to be implying that *all* of the trafficking in stolen or misappropriated synth-brains is entirely carried out by New Rome or agents thereof, leaving no room for any other possibilities. In her zeal, she is trampling what might be valid arguments into the mud.

I don't really think, though, that the line is all that blurry. A synth-brain, by itself; "blank" if you will, is just manufactured hardware. When an android persona is transferred into it, it becomes a person.
Gilrandir 8th Jul 2021, 6:25 AM edit delete reply
In the case of a transfer or re-embodiment I agree there is no ambiguity. But we also know that personae can be ‘grown’ in place from a seed. Is that seed to be considered a full-fledged person from the moment it is installed?
megados 8th Jul 2021, 7:07 AM edit delete reply

I'd have to guess that it would be. With humans, the brain and persona are permanently linked; one and the same. With androids, that isn't so. The seed, or the person it becomes, is the entity. A synth-brain is its corporeal existence. If one destroys an empty synth-brain, you have broken some hardware, and it's just a monetary loss. If it's inhabited, you've killed someone.

What makes the question difficult, I think, is we're thinking as humans, whose personae are inseperable from their corporeal bodies.
Oldarmourer 8th Jul 2021, 8:30 AM edit delete reply
I wonder if one could say that a human has the software and hardware created in thesame manufacturing process whereas an Android has the hardware created first then the software added later ? And for them the hardware is completely replaceable, whereas for humans it's 'no user serviceable parts inside, removing persona will void warranty'.
Gilrandir 8th Jul 2021, 8:55 PM edit delete reply
I do like your warning label, @OldArmourer. ^_^

To your point, @Ebonbolt, I am picking up a completely different dynamic. And, since I am — as usual — significantly in the minority, I am probably very, very wrong. ^_^

To me, this is seeming more like Mara516 has a significant personal axe to grind and a cause to which she is intensely devoted. Possibly she suffered the loss of kin or loved ones in Nova Roma-related action, or something along those lines. She probably sees getting a chance to have the ear of the Imperatrix of Nova Roma as already being a once-in-a-lifetime event and so does not care that she is working hard to ensure that is true. I wonder if she bartered significant political favors with the Councillor just to be in that room and he is being no more and no less than an honest politician: having been bought, he stays bought. To me, his comments seem much more mild and less edgy. Mara here seems to me to be the one looking to pick a fight, and he was just her ticket in. About which fact, I expect words will be spoken at some more private time.
doofball 8th Jul 2021, 9:59 PM edit delete reply
CentComm: "I spent 3.2 microseconds considering the situation, and I concluded that you will soon lose more billions to the golden threat. You are *invited* to help prevent that. If not, I will forward the news of your inability to the citizens of New Troy."
Gilrandir 8th Jul 2021, 11:26 PM edit delete reply
I couldn't find the reference, @doofball, but I vaguely recall Lynn telling Acantha that the entire human population of New Troy is no more than a few tens of thousands. If I am recalling correctly, 'billions' lost is impossible. Glass the city and you still only lose the equivalent of a reinforced infantry division -- plus possibly tens of millions of androids.
megados 9th Jul 2021, 5:11 AM edit delete reply

@Gilrandir, I may be misinterpreting, but I thought "billions" referred to credits, rather than people. Mara's earliest comments were about the value of goods lost to piracy.
Gilrandir 9th Jul 2021, 8:54 AM edit delete reply
Possibly, @Megados. That makes more sense, except that it doesn’t seem likely that Mara516 has billions to lose in the first place (as a political aide), nor is it apparent why the citizens of New Troy would care about financial losses to a specific individual. Nor do the hostiles seem to rampaging against property, per se.
megados 9th Jul 2021, 6:28 PM edit delete reply

We don't really even know why the Councillor, or Mara are there. All they have talked about, were losses due to piracy, (which they seem to be asserting Nova Roma bears responsibility for) and slave trafficking. CentComm asked them there, so it would be likely be on behalf of New Troy itself, or a large tech manufacturer or distributor directly impacted by the piracy they are complaining about, but that still wouldn't explain why they're also mentioning slavery and trafficking. If they're there on behalf of New Troy, they might be either trying to assess tentative treaty possibilities, which might make the personal rights violations relevant, as well as Nova Roma's possible role in tech piracy. That suggests to me, that the billions wouldn't be Mara's, but possibly their client's, whomever that might be. Ideas?
Gilrandir 9th Jul 2021, 10:47 PM edit delete reply
As I said before, it seems to me very reasonable and plausible that a member of the New Troy Council would attend this briefing for obvious political reasons. There isn't any reason I know why it should be Ward Drakestone in particular, nor does there need to be. It would make extra sense if he were on a military or appropriations subcommittee. The inclusion of Mara516 was obviously a mistake, and one that CentComm will undoubtedly learn from for the next time.

If we assume that the Council is not an empty, powerless token figurehead for New Troy, they probably have -- among other things -- significant budgetary powers. This means that, even though CentComm can justify whatever expenditures Marcus is about to make for his team, eventually the Council is going to have to approve the cost, or else CentComm will have to make up the shortfall by cutting other needed expenditures from elsewhere. To get that approval, CentComm will either have to go through the whole Hamster Wheel exercise again with the full council, OR she can just say "Councilor Drakestone was present at the entire classified briefing and agreed in principle with the need to allocate the requested funds. Councilor, will you please reassure your colleagues as to the necessity of this appropriation in the interest of efficiency". Drakestone nods, the Council votes, and it is all done in a proper democratic fashion with no hint of tyranny and abuse. If he isn't there for this meeting, that option is lost.

At the time he is invited, CentComm doesn't need to suspect in any way that he (or his assistant) is planning on hijacking the meeting in order to pursue their own political agenda. Just another example of people doing things which she can't predict for various illogical and inefficient reasons.
megados 10th Jul 2021, 4:55 AM edit delete reply

That makes sense. I'm thinking that CentComm invited Councillor Drakestone, but the inclusion of Mara 516 was his idea; one he might regret. In retrospect, she acts more like she's new, and "trying too hard".
Oldarmourer 13th Jul 2021, 6:04 PM edit delete reply
Pinky might have meant their presence as a reassurance and an overture to Acantha...
"See what I have to put up with ? I understand how your Senate works, bypassing them is better"
megados 13th Jul 2021, 8:32 PM edit delete reply

I can't really speak for Acantha, but I can't help having the feeling that I wouldn't find that very reassuring. It seems more like something that Acantha and Noctis had to put up with.
Ebonbolt 8th Jul 2021, 7:46 PM edit delete reply

Notably, Mara just hijacked a high-level, multi-national strategy meeting regarding a serious military threat, effectively telling the leader of her own nation to "get stuffed" (in Cent's own office, no less), in order to promote a "personal agenda" (presumably her boss' agenda) with a verbal ambush of a friendly head of state; she also put words in Acantha's mouth (panel 3, last bubble), and tries to do the same to Noctis (who shut that right down). She's not shooting herself in the foot, she's shooting her permit to be there in the head (and possibly her career). I'm pretty sure the possibility of her presence in any future meetings with Cent or Acantha will be "severely curtailed."
Some Ed 9th Jul 2021, 12:09 PM edit delete reply
@Ebonbolt: I think you've summed up nicely the sense that I was feeling but unable to put into words. Thank you.
knuut 11th Jul 2021, 8:41 AM edit delete reply
Or perhaps Cent-Com has some, as yet, undisclosed agenda regarding Mara and her boss. They were invited for their contacts outside NT but that's a two way street. Drop a tidbit of information in the meeting and see where it shows up in the outside world and she traces part of Drakestone's network and gains insight into his motives. Always remember, Cent-Com is multi-leveled sneaky by design.
Johninaustin 9th Jul 2021, 7:21 AM edit delete reply
Politicians, ewww. They would all make decent garden mulch.
Deoxy 9th Jul 2021, 2:55 PM edit delete reply
No, they would not even make decent garden mulch.

The only good use I know of for them is as fuel for a very particular form of power generator - dropping otherwise-useless mass into a black hole with a rope attached (the rope is how you get energy).

Attaching the rope to the politician in the form of a noose is just a nice bonus.

(You wouldm't actually use rope, of course, and I've simplified the description of the generator a little.)
Deanatay 9th Jul 2021, 10:50 PM edit delete reply
I agree Mara is being a terrible diplomat here, but maybe that's the point. It seems to me that she and the Councillor represent a more hawkish faction of the NT government than we've seen before now.

I mean, look at it from their point of view. NR has been an expansionist imperium for three generations. They have supported Gutters, heavily restricted free trade, and generally made life hard for honest businesspeople just trying to make a dollar. Now, thanks to a fortuitous turn of events, the NR government is in transition, and the next leader of their government is currently in our debt for saving her life. This is a good time to push for reform, to insist on substantive foreign policy concessions in exchange for our assistance. Acantha's 'private understanding' with the Taylors reeks of a back-alley deal, which threatens to waste a unique opportunity to compel change on this recalcitrant city-state.

Mara's job here is still to be the bulldog, to push the discussion as far in the pro-concessions direction as possible. Then the Councillor can step in as a conciliator, suggest a 'reasonable compromise' that gets them many of the concessions they want.
Gilrandir 10th Jul 2021, 10:53 AM edit delete reply
The commentary here has made me wonder: If we have a Church of the First Circuit in New Troy that embraces the karma of the Sons of Martha, do we also have a secret society of Westworlders believing that Humanity’s time is done and the best possible thing that could happen is for all humans to finally be exterminated, clearing the way for the superior forms of Life?
Morituri 10th Jul 2021, 5:45 PM edit delete reply
I have to wonder what Ms. 516s issue here is. Why was she in particular chosen to press this particular point? And is it CentComm's plan for her to do so, or her supposed boss's plan?

I wonder, in particular, because I don't recall seeing any other androids of her type of 'mixed' construction with some parts human-proportioned and sculpted and some that are differently proportioned and clearly mechanical.

Why would she choose to have a chimeric build like that? If it wasn't a choice, then how did that happen and why would it not have been corrected yet?
mjkj 12th Jul 2021, 3:23 AM edit delete reply

you go, Noctis!!!

...well, I think they can claim that they are not responsible for the actions of outlaws and thieves...

...and I think they tried getting some through legal channels and got rebuffed - therefore having to go to different channels...

@alt text: so true...
Boren 12th Jul 2021, 4:39 PM edit delete reply
See the correct answer to this to "Yes we do believe a subject such as this is of the utmost importance. That is why once the immediate threat is settled we will be launching a full scale investigation into these topics to discover the depth and extent of the issues. Should New Troy have any evidence they would wish to submit to us for consideration and review, at that time, we would welcome such aid into our investigation."
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