Comic 1706 - Filler still working on sets and actors

21st Jul 2021, 12:00 AM
Average Rating: 5 (8 votes)

Author Notes:

Centcomm 21st Jul 2021, 12:00 AM edit delete
In the mean time enjoy these Iray pics of Samata... Also we have a discord link... WOO! Sooo enoy!
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Ryu Santos 21st Jul 2021, 12:19 AM edit delete reply

Don't forget the lights and camera.
megados 21st Jul 2021, 4:51 AM edit delete reply

She's looking good, @Centcomm! Nice work!

Thanks for the Discord channel! :)
mjkj 21st Jul 2021, 6:41 AM edit delete reply

Nice look for Samantha...
Oldarmourer 21st Jul 2021, 1:19 PM edit delete reply
Verra nice, verra nice indeed...
Oldarmourer 21st Jul 2021, 1:32 PM edit delete reply

Apparently my ISP is really slow at refreshing their DNS, and I did a 'dnsflush' as soon as I saw that possibility mentioned on the CF forums.
It seems to be working today.
Oldarmourer 21st Jul 2021, 1:33 PM edit delete reply

Still not crazy about the I-Ray look but she does seem to take the 'killer doll' look to heart ;)
navegar 21st Jul 2021, 8:05 PM edit delete reply
Gilrandir 21st Jul 2021, 10:22 PM edit delete reply
Here is another warning that inspiration strikes me occasionally, and when it does the only safe thing to do is stop reading. Immediately. You have been warned.

You may imagine this as sung by a chorus of Nova Roma troops during the reign of Princeps Decimus to the tune of ”A Girl Worth Fighting For”. Hope it entertains and/or amuses.

To be born inside the walls of Nova Roma
Isn’t like life in the wastes of Oklahoma
We have pride in our traditions that aren’t easy to ignore
What we don’t have:
A Prince worth fighting for!
That’s what we need,
A Prince worth fighting for.

Our legions once were proud and strong,
All worthy sons of Mars.
Now most Praetorian recruits
Were once locked behind bars.
They couldn’t care less ‘bout safe streets
Or secure borders.
They barely know to follow orders.
(Thugs and cowards, mmh.)

We were proud to wear Valerius’ armor,
But with Decimus, I’d rather be a farmer.
If we muster out, there is no doubt
They’ll hang us by the score.
What do we want?
A Prince worth fighting for!

The Prince will smile and play you false,
Pretending to be kind,
Until his pride and arrogance
Makes all his plans unwind.
A uniform you thought made you
A social pillar,
Just makes you into one more killer. Huh.

While we once were proud of service to our nation,
Now we’re just part of a brutal occupation.
Marching in the streets the catcalls just get harder to ignore
What do we want?
A Prince worth fighting for!
Wish that we had
A Prince worth fighting for!
A Prince worth fighting -
megados 22nd Jul 2021, 5:07 AM edit delete reply

Once again, this is great! Well done!

*takes Gilrandir to one side and quietly says* "In your intro, you have him as 'Princeps' Decimus".
Gilrandir 22nd Jul 2021, 5:15 AM edit delete reply
That is correct. The creative team addressed the multi-leveled value of the title “Princeps” at some point. Prince Decimus was Princeps of the city-state of Nova Roma as a whole, even while Kali (and later Tennyo) was Princeps of the Cassians. And there are (presumably) others who might be styled “Princeps” of this or that sub-group. My understanding is that “Princeps” is to “Prince” in this case as “Nova Roma” is to “New Rome”.
megados 22nd Jul 2021, 6:02 AM edit delete reply

Interesting; I had not known any of that. My understanding was that the Princeps title was unique to the Cassians. Also, I thought that as Noctis is Princeps, Tennyo is "acting Princeps" while Noctis is away.
Gilrandir 22nd Jul 2021, 8:05 AM edit delete reply
This is true. Obviously had a ‘Senior Moment’, there. I did not mean to deny Noctis her title. Sorry, Noctis.
Gilrandir 22nd Jul 2021, 8:17 AM edit delete reply
Interesting thought: when all the dust is settled and things calm down and time is available, will Noctis be ‘reprogrammed’ for loyalty to the House of Livius, rather than the Throne of Nova Roma? Is that something done for every Cassian Princeps, or was Kali just special that way — and if so, why?

If reprogramming were a requirement of the post, would Noctis turn down the promotion, rather than submit to the process?
robnot 22nd Jul 2021, 8:32 AM edit delete reply
Kali was special that way... she was reprogramed to "protect" Acantha ,, from dickmus,, and if failing, end him..
megados 22nd Jul 2021, 9:07 AM edit delete reply

Didn't Valerius himself have a hand in Kali's programming? Specifically, (if memory serves) for instance didn't he add the Liberatum protocol, that freed her to act if Decimus' "crossed the line"? Beyond that, I don't think we know anything about Kali's initial setup and programming, or whether the loyalty heirarchy settings were initially set that way, or modified later.

Either way, that suggests that it should be possible.

While thinking about that, it occurs to me that it probably wouldn't be necessary, because she seems to already have an inherent loyalty to Acantha herself, as evidenced (at least to me) by her forming her plan to get Acantha seated on the throne. Also, some of her comments at even the suggestion of harming Acantha, made known that it would bring instantaneous, and "ruinous" results.
Deanatay 22nd Jul 2021, 9:45 AM edit delete reply
The Liberatum Protocol was indeed added by Valerius, which implies that the inhibitors can be hot-modded (or warm-modded, at least, I don't recall if Kali had to go unconscious for the procedure or not).

The question would be, why do so? I disagree that Noctis has an 'inherent' loyalty to Acantha - her fealty to Acantha and Maximus was a choice, given by her freely, not compelled by any subroutine. To Acantha, that would be far more valuable and trustworthy than any hard-coded protocol.
megados 22nd Jul 2021, 10:10 AM edit delete reply

". . . her fealty to Acantha and Maximus was a choice, given by her freely, not compelled by any subroutine. To Acantha, that would be far more valuable and trustworthy than any hard-coded protocol."

I think that's right, and I agree. That is her inherent loyalty. Her own feelings guide her here. She doesn't need any adjustment, as far as I can tell. The only change I could envision, would be for the inhibitor to allow for it. The reason I say that, is because Noctis had to get Decimus' to give her the command to execute her plan. That got it past the inhibitor.
Oldarmourer 22nd Jul 2021, 12:20 PM edit delete reply
Does she even get a say in the matter ?
megados 22nd Jul 2021, 1:46 PM edit delete reply

Technically, they wouldn't have to give her one. I think Acantha would give her the option, but I think she trusts Noctis to be loyal.

After thinking about it, if reprogramming were a requirement, Noctis could make a good case for it being unnecessary, and barring that, I think the reprogramming would likely just be an inhibitor adjustment, so I'm guessing Noctis would likely accept.
Gilrandir 22nd Jul 2021, 11:27 PM edit delete reply
As I recall we were told several things about Kali, but there were still some things left unexplained. Kali (originally Parvati) was a Cassian who served Valerius Livius and the House of Livius while Valerius occupied the Throne of Nova Roma. We were told (in the comments, not the comics themselves) that Kali’s inhibitor was not programmed in the standard way. Supposedly all other Cassians were programmed for loyalty to the Throne of Nova Roma, while Kali was programmed for loyalty to the House of Livius. Since at no point in the story prior to Kali’s demise have these two roles ever been held by different people, the distinction is a subtle one.

What we don’t know is for what reason Kali’s inhibitor was configured differently. We don’t know if it was commonplace for the leading family to have a ‘personal Cassian’, or if something extraordinary happened to create this circumstance that was unique to Kali (or Parvati).

We do know that, for reasons explained in the comic, Valerius — with Parvati’s consent — was able to further modify Parvati’s inhibitor with the Libertatem protocol. We don’t know if this was the point where her primary allegiance was also adjusted, or if that happened earlier. We also don’t know whether Libertatem was the reason Parvati became Kali, or if that happened later. (Perhaps in response to her first experiences in being ordered to commit atrocities by Decimus after he became Head of House Livius.)

Since we don’t know if personal Cassians are traditional and customary for House Livius, we don’t know if Acantha will receive one. If she does receive one, we don’t know if it is necessarily the Cassian Princeps. And, in either case, we don’t know if that role is filled by reprogramming an existing Cassian, or building a new one ‘from scratch’. It seems possible that, if personal Cassians are the norm, Noctis would be offered the role and, given my often flawed reading of her character, would probably decline, preferring to be loyal to the Throne rather than the House of Livius — even though I believe she has significant personal respect and affection for Acantha.

But those are all just my recollections, guesses, and opinions.
megados 23rd Jul 2021, 7:00 AM edit delete reply

There's a lot there, and I mostly agree. Two things stand out to me. One is, (and I could be misinterpreting) that it appears that Kali had already transitioned from Parvati before her inhibitor adjustment that added the Liberatum protocol. The sequence is here. Valerius calls her Kali.

The other is more a question. Given that Noctis seems to have an affection and preference for Acantha, why do you feel Noctis would decline the position if it entailed inhibitor modification to that end?

*edit: Could it be possible that Kali was renamed by someone as simply a personal preference?
Gilrandir 23rd Jul 2021, 7:38 AM edit delete reply
@megados, good catch. He does call her Kali there, even though wardrobe, demeanor etc., seem more Parvati-like.

My answer is that, in my opinion, much of Noctis’ self-identity and her justification for the things she and her sisters have done is tied up in the ideal of service to Nova Roma. I think Decimus is still too near and too severe an example of the dangers an unrestrained cult of personality poses, compared to a more abstract and depersonalized cause. And I think, no matter how well she regards Acantha, she would not choose sentiment over duty to all of Roma’s citizens. It would be like a career cop leaving the force to take a private bodyguard and head of security position for a wealthy employer — many do, and there is nothing wrong with that choice. I just don’t think that Noctis would go that route.
megados 23rd Jul 2021, 10:59 AM edit delete reply

That is pretty well reasoned and plausible. Noctis' stoic nature doesn't help when it comes to predicting what she might do. Certainly everything the Cassians do is "for King and Country". Exactly how they determine what is good for Nova Roma isn't always clear. Abstraction is perfectly suited to service to a despotic ruler because it allows for the precise kind of action taken against Decimus. Conversely, Noctis believes that Acantha would be a much better ruler for Nova Roma. There are those who remain loyalists to the previous regime, and pose a threat to the new, sort-of fragile, heirarchy. If she were to remain loyal to the Throne, rather than Acantha herself, and another Decimus' were to be elected by the Senate, or take the Throne by some other means, she would be going against what she believes best for Roma. If Noctis believes that Acantha is the best hope for the city-state, and ultimately the Throne, she would want her to have the best protection she could possibly have. That is above and beyond her personal feelings towards Acantha. I don't think she would want to delegate that to anyone else. It's just my opinion, and possibly wrong. Either outcome is possible, and it's also possible that it might not even come up. LOL
Gilrandir 23rd Jul 2021, 11:11 AM edit delete reply
There is no reason why the quality of Acantha’s protection would be impacted if Noctis refused reprogramming of her inhibitor — unless you are asserting that the Cassian Princeps must be a ‘personal Cassian’, and that no other Cassian is as capable and qualified as Noctis.

The first returns to my original question, which I believe we agree is not established. The second seems very unlikely to me. True, Noctis is a very senior and capable Cassian, but she has noted that several Cassians have particular strengths and weaknesses.
megados 23rd Jul 2021, 1:59 PM edit delete reply

There's more to a personal Cassian than just a sword, as shown in the last couple of pages. In Acantha's case, guidance, assistance, and companionship, (since all her family members are ostensibly gone) are all things Acantha will need. I don't think Noctis wants to leave Acantha to anyone else. It seems efficient and logical that the Cassian Princeps would be her personal Cassian because it would still follow direct chain of command, but that wouldn't necessarily be essential, I suppose. Noctis likes Acantha; cares about her, and is partially/tangentially responsible for her situation now, and I have difficulty believing that she wouldn't do anything she can to make sure she succeeds. And she's pretty good with a sword.
Gilrandir 23rd Jul 2021, 5:51 PM edit delete reply
You can be friends with a cop without being that friend's highest priority. I don't think Acantha needs a 'personal Cassian', nor does the House of Livius. On the other hand, they previously had one. Maybe there's a good reason for it. But just having 'bragging rights' ("When push comes to shove, my Cassian will betray the city to serve me, while all your Cassians will put the city first! Nyah, nyah, nyah!") doesn't seem like a good reason. Do you think that Noctis will be any less diligent in her duties to serve and protect Princess Acantha if she doesn't get her inhibitor reprogrammed? You don't need to mind control someone for them to be a friend. (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)
megados 23rd Jul 2021, 6:50 PM edit delete reply

"When push comes to shove, my Cassian will betray the city to serve me, while all your Cassians will put the city first! Nyah, nyah, nyah!"
I literally laughed out loud. I needed that, thanks XD

No, ordinarily Noctis would not be any less diligent, but there could arise conditions in which we could be forced to. For example, if somehow, through Senate action, a Coup d'etat, or some means, another person would be elevated to ruler, unmodified, Noctis' inhibitor would force her to be loyal to that person. If that person wanted her to harm Acantha, it would cause very bad results. Making Noctis' loyal to Acantha prevents this. I had understood that to explain Kali's loyalty as well.

*edit: That makes me think, though. What if, rather than a loyalty switch, it would come in the form of a Libertatum protocol of her own? She wouldn't have any reason to object to that.
Gilrandir 24th Jul 2021, 1:36 AM edit delete reply
I remind you that having a ‘personal Cassian’ went a long way to establishing the rule of Decimus and the destruction of whatever democracy Roma had previously enjoyed. (After all, the Senate must, at some time, have served a function beyond hanging Christmas decorations.) There is a tendency to see “Individuals Good! Institutions Bad”, but it is by institutions we get such things as The Rule Of Law, rather than Personality Cults. Having a tyrranny is great — as long as your Tyrant is an enlightened and incorruptible individual — which of course Acantha is because … story time. But, if the Tyrant is a monster, normally you would want the Senate to be able to say “Cassians, for the good of Nova Roma, stop listening to that monster and transfer your allegiance to the duly appointed and Senate-approved leader.” After all, if we let the Secret Police decide who is in charge, you’re enshrining rule by Military Coup or Insurrection. This is a science fiction story, not a political treatise, so we probably don’t want to get completely bogged down in the details of all the checks and balances. But here, in the comments page, are you really suggesting Acantha deserves to rule from an unchallenged position of absolute power, even if the politics of the situation demand that she should be removed?
megados 24th Jul 2021, 7:29 AM edit delete reply

Oh, I do realize that Kali's allegiance to Decimus and simultaneously being Princeps created some of the conditions that allowed things to deteriorate as badly as they did, not to mention the personal toll it took on Kali herself. I understand and agree with the points you make here. We have seen what happens when an individual holds all the power, and is also responsible for an amount of corruption to the institution. It is assumed that under Valerius, the Senate performed an essential function, and on the whole the system was more democratic. What we don't really know, is the state of the Senate presently.

I am not suggesting Acantha deserves to rule from an unchallenged position of absolute power, but simply that she be given her best chance to rule effectively, and it just seems to me, that includes having someone she knows, and trusts by her side without concern for having her attending Cassian being switched out on rotation or some other silly capricious reason. She needs stability. At this point, it's hard to deny that Noctis would be the best fit, as far as Acantha's "comfort level" is concerned.

But I digress. I do think Acantha should have a "personal Cassian" because they need to be less a babysitter, and more a companion/confidante. For Acantha to be effective, her emotional well-being is just as important as her capacity. Emotional uneasiness will definitely negatively impact her performance.

The underlying question, though, was whether Noctis would agree to an inhibitor adjustment. It would depend on just what the adjustment would entail. It could be one thing or a combination of things. My impression of Acantha, (and Maxus for that matter) is that either of them would take Noctis' input on what any change would entail. They, not I, are in a much better position to determine whether, or how, such changes would be made or implemented. Things such as expiring loyalty algorithms that revert upon [conditions] or multi-level subroutine hierarchy to address these concerns are also possible. Again they, not I, are in a position to know exactly what is possible.

In the end, I wouldn't say that Noctis would reject an inhibitor adjustment out-of-hand. She is detail oriented, and if concerns she might have are addressed, I don't see why she would object. She isn't the sort to be obstinate just for the sake of being obstinate.
Morituri 23rd Jul 2021, 9:35 AM edit delete reply
A more relaxed moment than we've seen in-story, apparently.

Nova Roma's Cassians' represent a very different approach from New Troy's Black Angels - the Cassians are not treated as disposable assets whose existence is limited to one mission. As such, the Cassians have ongoing concerns and responsibilities, like New Troy's White Angels.

But unlike the White Angels, the Cassians are living WMD (we can wibble about the definition of 'life' at some other time). They have to be kept under strict control.

The fact of their existence is problematic. They are slaves, but have earned the honor and respect due military heroes. If they weren't their own separate division, they'd be valuable assets as highly placed officers.

At the same time, because they are slaves, and Decimus was a Dick, a Douche, a Despot, a Defiler, etc, they have been used against the population of Nova Roma to impose the Prince's will via deliberate atrocities. They hardly have the status of 'Heroes' the the citizens of Nova Roma - in their own city, which they serve and protect, they are seen as monsters. Or at the very least, as an extension of the will of a monster on the throne.

The same population lives in absolute and well-justified terror of Aeneas, who has, in their memory, committed an enormous atrocity and then spent the last generation-or-so in an unstable and unpredictable state that has kept their lives at risk. I would be astonished if they take the news of him being lucid and newly empowered with anything less than terror.

The citizens of Nova Roma have an abiding hatred and terror for AI: But given their circumstances with the Cassians and Aeneas, can you blame them?
Gilrandir 23rd Jul 2021, 11:19 AM edit delete reply
I don’t get the impression that the Roman-on-the-street lives (lived?) in terror of Aeneas. His exclusion zone was well known. It seemed to me more like people who choose to live on the slopes of an active volcano. (Disclaimer: I have never lived on the slopes of an active volcano. I do, however, live near-ish to several fault lines.)

I do agree with you, @Morituri, that knowledge of his revitalization would be a source of great concern to many of them simply because what was known and had been accepted now is changing to something unknown and possibly more dangerous. How that plays out may well be interesting to see.
Morituri 23rd Jul 2021, 10:09 PM edit delete reply
Remember the slave who was with Acantha when Acantha proposed that she and Lynn should accopany her into Aeneas' zone? She absolutely could not. Her fear was so great that she literally could not move forward. She refused a royal order for what seems to have been the first and only time in her life, because she could not bear the thought of being in the lair of Aeneas.

And we are not talking about someone who wasn't sufficiently loyal or who lacked courage. Remember she's the one who stepped into the path of certain death to save the Princess a few pages later. She had Courage and Loyalty that were near absolute.

I'm taking her response as "normal" for the way Nova Roman Citizens think of Aeneas. She learned that fear growing up around people who all taught it to her.
Gilrandir 23rd Jul 2021, 11:38 PM edit delete reply
Yes. And I can agree that asking Ariana to walk into the lethal zone would be like asking her to walk into an active volcano. But Ariana already knew that Acantha had been talking and interacting with Aeneas, so from her perspective he was already awake and functional, but she displayed no terror or hatred at that point. Only when asked to enter the lethal zone.
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