March 06, 2012

Mouretsu pirates -- Engineer's disease

One way I can tell that a series is a good one is that it engages the part of my mind that tries to figure things out. Some thoughts below the fold, spoilerish.



At the beginning of ep 9, in response to the Serenity fleet, Marika decided the right way to handle the situation was for Gruelle to address them and order them to stand down. And she was right. The ideal outcome from her point of view was for Gruelle to receive what was being brought to her, and for nobody to get killed. And that's what she accomplished, with that message.

But the way it was handled delivered messages on multiple levels. Since the Serenity fleet was jamming Bentenmaru's normal transmissions, Bentenmaru (Courier and Schnitzer) used their main battery. It operated at low power, and Courier modulated the guns to carry the video of Gruelle, and Schnitzer put a beam onto each of the six Serenity ships. (I'm guessing that the guns are masers.)

The obvious message in that was Gruelle's orders to stand down. But there are other levels. First, it proved that Gruelle was on Bentenmaru. So any attempt to "kill all the witnesses" by destroying Bentenmaru would have been treason.

Second, it proved that Bentenmaru was armed and that its aim was good. The low-power beams that carried the video could have become high power beams which caused destruction. Any attempt to fight Bentenmaru would have been expensive.

Third, since it was impossible for them to even try to destroy Bentenmaru as long as Gruelle was on her, then it meant that everything the Serenity fleet did was on the permanent record. They were already way over the line in terms of behavior, and if they kept fighting it would have been a major diplomatic incident. And even with Bentenmaru's transmissions back to the planet jammed, their records would eventually reach the planet.

Fourth, the fact that the military directorate of Sea of the Morningstar had sent Bentenmaru instead of the Stellar Navy meant that Sea of the Morningstar was willing to overlook the breach. But it was likely that there were limits to how much they'd tolerate, and if the Serenity fleet had kept going, it would have ended up as a major diplomatic incident. We know that Serenity and Sea of the Morningstar are big-time trading partners, and that could have been imperiled.

It's hardly any wonder that the officer in charge of the Serenity fleet decided to stand down, even though he probably had been given orders to destroy the fleeing corback no matter what.

Another thing: the fact that everyone's defense fleets look the same? I sense some rent-seeking. I bet that all the planets in the Galactic Empire are permitted to have a certain level of space navy power for self defense, and I bet that they are all required to buy their warships from a favored shipyard in the GE home system.

Which makes money for the Emperor. And also means that the GE can control how heavily armed those ships are, and what other characteristics they have. So it's a double win for the Empire.

When Bentenmaru came along side the fleeing corback, it was evident that Bentenmaru is a lot smaller. Certainly it's shorter. But that doesn't mean Bentenmaru is weaker, and it may not be, especially if GE regulations have deliberately undergunned the corbacks.

A shorter, more compact ship has smaller angular momentum, and Bentenmaru almost certainly can rotate faster than a corback. Since the ship's guns fire forward, that could be critical in battle. More to the point, Bentenmaru's battery may be heavier than that of a corback.

Against five Serenity ships, Bentenmaru probably would have lost, even so. But against one, I bet Bentenmaru would have the edge. In the next episode we apparently are going to find out; the next ep teaser suggests that they're going to be fighting a corback, and this time for real.

Assuming they succeed in this mission (and of course, they will) then eventually they're going to find the golden ghost ship and it'll contain what Gruelle hoped it will. The mission will be a success, and the client (Gruelle) is going to be happy. Bentenmaru is going to soak her, of course, but she'll gladly pay. (And her wealth, for our purposes, is effectively infinite. No matter how much Bentenmaru charges her, it'll be pocket change by her standards.)

And it's going to have some sort of drastic political effect in the Serenity system, about which we don't yet really know. Anyway, once everything gets settled, what next?

I bet Gruelle decides to keep going to school on Sea of Morningstar. And then I thought, "How does she go home for visits? Because she will want to, at least once a year." Having her travel on an ordinary liner is out of the question. Too risky. Having her travel on a liner with escort from the Serenity fleet is a different problem; the government of Sea of the Morningstar is unlikely to be too happy about having them visit all the time, especially after this incident. Having a Sea of the Morningstar fleet accompany it into the Serenity system is equally a problem, and meeting a Serenity fleet half way to hand off the liner is too much of a headache.

So I think Gruelle will hire Bentenmaru to take her home when she wants to go. It's a good compromise. Unlike a liner, Bentenmaru is armed and can defend itself. Since it's a charter, it will go directly and not make any stops. Because it's a privateer, having it enter the Serenity system doesn't represent a sovereignty crisis, particularly if it's been hired by a Serenity princess. And obviously it can operate openly in the Tau system. Plus, Bentenmaru will have proved itself to be trustworthy. Marika is not going to hold Gruelle for ransom, or anything like that. Gruelle's room won't be luxurious, but she's used to that and won't mind. In fact, she seems to like it. (Gruelle appears to have a taste for slumming, given the way she asks everyone to call her "Gruelle" instead of "Princess".) Besides which, she likes Marika. The two of them get along together very well.

Bentenmaru isn't a passenger liner, but they take whatever jobs they're offered, and if the Serenity political crisis is over, then ferrying Gruelle home would be pretty routine work which will pay well, so why not? And there's something to be said for being on familiar terms with a member of the Serenity royal family. She may eventually have other jobs for them.

UPDATE: Why did Marika have Gruelle wear Marika's uniform?

First, it was a reward to Gruelle, a favor to her. Second, it helped Gruelle get into character for her transmission. And having her wear a pirate captain's uniform probably made her transmission be more effective than if she had been shown in her middle school girl's uniform. Her formal princess gown would have been even better, but they didn't have it with them, and even if they did there wasn't time for her to get changed. (Redoing her hair would probably have taken an hour.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 10:16 AM | Comments (15) | Add Comment
Post contains 1211 words, total size 7 kb.

1 An hour for her hair?  When I rewatched that episode, I decided it would be a major breach of reality if she ever showed up in it again without at least two assistants and most of a morning to prepare it.  

Posted by: ubu at March 06, 2012 05:21 PM (GfCSm)

2 She certainly must have had quite a retinue with her on that liner.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 06, 2012 05:27 PM (+rSRq)

3 I'm thinking robot maids. For Gruelle's wardrobe and hair, I mean, as opposed to my usual thoughts about robot maids...

As for staying at the school,


Posted by: J Greely at March 06, 2012 06:18 PM (fpXGN)

4 J, I can't see it. I do believe that Odette II will figure in the series again, but not that way. (And I don't believe that it is armed.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 06, 2012 06:45 PM (+rSRq)


The Bentenmaru's crew didn't seem too concerned with

Posted by: Dave Young at March 06, 2012 06:52 PM (ZAk0Z)

6 Expanding on Dave's comment and pushing into some other things I've thinking about for a while, the entire set up with the letters of marque

Posted by: benzeen at March 06, 2012 08:34 PM (R9i5E)

7 benzeen: That sounds like it might be pretty close to the mark.

Posted by: Dave Young at March 06, 2012 08:59 PM (ZAk0Z)


Benzeen, that's pretty much what I think, too.

The privateers

While I'm here, thought I'd mention that I'm going back to "Gruier" as spelling of her name. When she's introduced to her class in the middle school, her name was written on the chalk board both in Japanese and in Roman letters, and it was spelled Gruier. It wasn't a subtitle, it's in the  actual show graphics. So it's the official spelling, and we're stuck with it.

Just like we're stuck with "Bodacious Space Pirates".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 06, 2012 09:00 PM (+rSRq)

9 By the way, about that "being too obvious" part of it:

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 06, 2012 09:08 PM (+rSRq)

10 Of course if my theory is correct, I want the show to spend at least a few minutes on the person who negotiated in that part of the agreement--it seems he or she was one heck of a smooth talker...

A couple of ideas on the grander politics:

Of course a lot of it is probably just me finding that to be a more interesting scenario than the other, which seems more conventional. As a result, I'm probably wrong...

Posted by: benzeen at March 06, 2012 09:49 PM (R9i5E)

11 I just found it odd that the main battery had the CAPABILITY of being interfaced with the Coms.

Posted by: Mauser at March 07, 2012 03:37 AM (cZPoz)

12 benzeen:  I don't recall the exact wording right off hand, but

Posted by: Dave Young at March 07, 2012 10:28 AM (FKGw9)

I just found it odd that the main battery had the CAPABILITY of being interfaced with the Coms.

Actually that makes sense.

Tight beam, secure communications are vital and the ships battery likely has the power to punch through any jamming. The guns are obviously transmitters anyway and could provide redundancy to the regular communication array in the event of damage, or provide additional narrow beam transmitters when a 'party line' is needed.

 Also, for a really long range  transmission the main battery at high power would be a useful, (albeit STL) backup, perhaps sending an important message across interplanetary distances at greater range than it could conceivably damage something.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at March 08, 2012 11:21 PM (EJaOX)

14 Of course, if you mis-calculate the signal strength, you could literally end up talking someone to death.

Posted by: Mauser at March 09, 2012 01:50 AM (cZPoz)

15 Boo! Hiss! (throws tomato)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 09, 2012 07:32 AM (+rSRq)

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