The Road to PALISADE 01: HOUNDs Pt. 1

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This episode carries content warnings for violence, abduction, and risk of suffocation.

Welcome to the Road to PALISADE, an interlude connecting PARTIZAN to PALISADE, our upcoming season (which will be played in Armour Astir: Advent by Briar Sovereign)!

Unlike 2019’s Road to PARTIZAN, please know that this season will likely contain broad spoilers for COUNTER/Weight, Twilight Mirage, and PARTIZAN. In many ways, we see both the Road to PALISADE and PALISADE itself as opportunities to weave many important threads from the Divine Cycle together.

Another way in which this interlude season is different from the Road to PARTIZAN is that we aren’t necessarily telling a linear history from point A to point B. While many key points on the five years separating the two seasons will be hit, the Road to PALISADE is intended to be less of a direct history and more of a series of snapshots, capturing events happening as the Principality’s civil war continues.

As a fun note, all of the stories we play this interlude season are generally inspired by the cast’s answers to Crunchyroll writer Adam Wescott’s question about what sort of PZN spinoff we’d all want to do! There are (thus far) two exceptions, and this episode is the first of those. When I first read Tyler Crumrine’s HOUNDs, I knew instantly that this was how I wanted to kick things off. And as you’ll see, Jack and Art proved that it was the right decision.

Okay, given how long this particular Road is going to be—it’s still in production as this first episode hits the main feed—I better shut up and let you get on with listening.

This week on Friends at the Table: The Road to PALISADE: Hounds Pt. 1

Records Recovered from the Divine, Arbitrage Factions

The Divine Principality: Stitched together thousands of years ago from the remains of the Divine Free States and the Principality of Kesh, it is largest empire in the history of the MIlky Way Galaxy. Even now, divided against itself, any subdivision of its arms stretches further than any kingdom or confederation ever has before. An utter failure.

Stel Kesh: Among the oldest operating powers in the stars. Devoted to the Past even though they’ve long lost control of the Divine who shares its name. Snobbish historians, ineffective parliamentarians, and stubborn reactionaries. Kesh is generally aligned with the Curtain of Divinity.

Stel Nideo: WIth origins in the long lost Twilight Mirage, Stel Nideo are architects of our current era, dread controllers of the Present. Along with shaping mass media, popular culture, and educational standards, they now operate both Received and Progressive Asterism, the former run by the corrupt Cycle and the latter by the grotesque puppet of the lost prophet Gur Sevraq. These priests, pop idols, and patriotic poster children are largely aligned with the Curtain of Divinity.

Stel Orion: For hundreds of thousands of years, Stel Orion—under countless names and forms—has repeated a cycle of exploitation and revolution. Competing spirits of individualism and camaraderie ebb and flow, but industry remains. Is it any wonder that it remains associated with the raw breadth of Space itself? Currently, Orion is at war with itself, with countless small factions not only differing in position on the larger civil war in the Principality, but also on many additional issues like wealth, religion, and culture.

Stel Columnar: Famously “courted” by the growing Principality many generations ago, this nation of humanoid synthetics traded freedom for the prestige and security of the Principality. They hid behind imperial walls and pursued the Future, pushing boundaries not only in technology, but in art, commerce, and war. I suppose I can call them cousins, but not with much fondness. Today, they share righteous screeds and fight for the return of something like democracy as part of the Pact of Necessary Venture. What a comedy.

Stel Apostolos: An ancient people, ever obsessed with external conquest and internal freedom, and utterly uninterested in understanding their own contradictions. They are dedicated to the pursuit of forward Motion, and I suppose I can respect such bullheaded devotion. It is, at the very least, not boring. They are the meat and muscle of the Pact of Necessary Venture.

The Curtain of Divinity: For generations, the Curtain of Divinity operated in the shadows of the Principality, partly as intelligence agency, partly as shadow government. Now they have been dragged into the daylight, and serve as one of the two ruling factions of the whole Principality. Though there are some divisions along questions of secularity, humanism, and cultural taste, in general, leaders of the Curtain are conservative, traditionalist, and nationalistic. They seek the reunification of all five Stels and the permanence of the Divine Principality.

Led, in public at least, by Cynosure Whitestar-Kesh, the Peaceful Princept. In fact, the Curtain has five divisions, each led by a ruthless individual known only by a codename: Silk (diplomacy), Damask (research & inquisition), Lace (military), Linen (economics), and Gabardine (espionage and collaboration).

The Pact of Necessary Venture: As their (current) name suggests, the Pact began as a cooperative exploratory committee founded in the late 14th Century of the Perfect Millennium. They sought new territory to conquer, breaking an old taboo in the process, and inviting destruction and fracture. Which is appropriate, as their vision for the future is one where each Stel is granted more autonomy and independence—some even claim that they would see the Principality utterly destroyed and replaced by a loose affiliation of free states.

Despite this, the Pact are no radicals: While they want more independence from the Principality, they have little interest in shaking up the internal power structures of the Stels themselves. After all, their founders were all Elects, and though only two remain (Gallica, elect of the Divine Present, and Rye, elect of the divine Space), they are led by Dahlia, who serves as both Apokine and Glorious Princept.

Millennium Break: Terrorists, thieves, and revolutionaries. Founded on the moon of Partizan in 1423-1424 PM. A wrench in the wheel, a fly in the ointment. Critical in pushing the Principality into chaos. Now spreading dissidence through the galaxy. Their manifesto, such as it is, is thus:

We will help those displaced by the war. We will claim supplies only when it adds losses to the ledgers of the unjust. Free and fair elections will be held every two years. Burn thrones, build tables. When we provide for ourselves, we can provide for others. We will not turn our back on allies in need. If we must play their game, make sure to bloody their noses. When we reach the edge, we will Leap. Look sick as shit.

The words of children.

Persons

Veronique (she/they): Elect of Fealty. A loyalist. A protector. A runner, in a previous life.

Fealty (any, they/them): A Curtain Divine of glittering chrome and sculpture.

Cynosure Whitestar-Kesh (he/him): “The Peaceful Princept,” supposed leader of the Curtain of Divinity. Growing, ever so slowly, into the title.

Sierra (they/her): The bashful intelligence which pilots the agrivessel the Hen and Chicks.

Gucci Garantine (she/her): Once, when she operated the revolutionary group HORIZON, true heir of the Rapid Evening, she called herself Saint Dawn. Now she simply calls herself one of the MIllennium Break’s commanders, albeit through gritted teeth.

Fortitude (it/its) & Acacia (they/them): A Divine from an era before my own, and in that way at least, a curiosity. It spreads its strength across many military units. As always, its need for an Elect is a disappointment.

Layer Luxurious (he/him): A "podcaster." What a waste.

Locations

The Skarnoc Debris Fields: The remnants of a battle from the era before the Twilight Mirage, where the Rapid Evening fought and lost the Divine Nobility. Besides the normal ship debris, the field has gathered strange crystalline spires.

Articles

A Dash of Purple: Fealty, of course, knew what it was at once. How could they not?

Hollows & Hallows: Mechanized military vessels, often in humanoid shape. The latter are enhanced by the touch of a Divine.

The Treaty of Permanent Peace: An agreement of terms and conventions between the Curtain and the Pact, negotiated by the Elect Rye and the Peaceful Princept. By all accounts, this was the first great achievement of the latter. Without the safeties, guidelines, and structure provided by the Treaty, the less technologically advanced Curtain would have lost the war within the first two years of its start, with countless civilians left dead across core Curtain worlds.

Miscellany

The Perennial Wave: Perennial is something like a god, or at least I think she imagines she is. Her wave is her arrogant whim, made manifest. Functionally infinite nano-particles, spread throughout the galaxy, hampering all technology except (curiously) Divines.

Kalmeria Particle: Most people don’t know what it really is, or where it came from. Some know that it is named for the rogue engineer Kal’Mera Broun, but phew know that it is the result not only of their research into the divine Asepsis, but also the particular consequences of Millennium Break’s battle with Motion and her siphoning of so-called “Autonomy Itself.”

Hosted by Austin Walker (@austin_walker)

Featuring Art Martinez-Tebbel (@atebbel) and Jack de Quidt

Produced by Ali Acampora (@ali_west)

Music by Jack de Quidt (available on bandcamp)

Text by Austin Walker

Cover Art by Craig Sheldon (@shoddyrobot)

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