Roll Will save or die :)
I find the symbiosis aspect neat; the "uprooting and sitting on the victim" darkly comical. Which is a good thing.
You really could add a paragraph about nefarious uses of the fruit - perhaps people without a sense of smell are recruited to collect the fungus?
Finally, a question: why this name? I get the "sylvan" part...
(a solid 4, btw)
(freely adapted from Weber's Honor Harrington series)
Space is cold, and any active engine stands out, free for all detection systems to see.
The Ghost Rider project is another approach to breach a MADDS, one requiring prolonged preparation ahead of each assault though.
The basic premise is simple: the Calandor torpedoes have to reach excessive speeds to be able to assault a MADDS, yet an active engine is a beacon, a target painted on the warhead. Hence, ideally you'd want a cold engine until the very last moment, and the highest possible speed. Impossible? No.
A Ghost Rider carrier will venture far outside a system to be assaulted, and launch Callandor torpedoes with another engine step, a huge detachable fuel depot in fact, nothing too fancy. Far outside, in the dead reaches of space, the torpedo will begin accelerating, careful calculations made to carry it towards the target at some point later.
The warhead will have accelerated to near light speed before it reaches the system, and then discard the add-on engine. It simply becomes a miniature piece of junk hurtling totowards its target in dead silence.
Only in closest proximity will it jump-start its engine, giving the defense system a fraction of a second to realize something is there before it detonates.
A swarm of classic Callandors launched this way is only slightly more expensive than the close-deployment version, and often is in fact deployed in concert with such: calculations are made to determine when the distantly deployed torpedoes will reach the planet allow the fleet from behind the sun to coordinate the attack, getting the MADDS between hammer and anvil. Truth be said, amongst the flares and explosions of the proximally deployed torpedoes, a few sleeping ones are really easy to miss.
An interesting take on planetary defense. I really suggest you read David Weber's Honor Harrington series on a treatise of fleet vs. planetary fortress warfare.
Basically, the main issue is this: a planet cannot dodge. Neither can a fortress. In the case of a planet, the foe will exactly know where a planet will be. In the case of fortresses, he can predict it (they will be guarding access vectors from closest systems, wormhole openings, and surround planets and important stations).
The mainenance of a fleet becomes a necessity when you consider that an unhindered enemy fleet can lurk around the star system, shoot up anything not covered by the MADDS, and launch distant asteroid strikes or swarms of dumb nuclear warheads at the planet. Hidden in an asteroid swarm, no less. Because, if useful planets are not ine in a million, denying a foe an asset he invested so heavily in is almost as good as claiming it yourself.
On a different note, I am intrigued by the concept of the cryo-cyborg. Care to explain further?
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Well, what I wanted to point out is that yes, a MADDS can survive an attack, and prevent a foe from taking the planet. But it cannot survive a siege (siege weapons in space have unlimited range), nor sufficently protect its prize without a mobile fleet. Fleets will need their own leadership, because a communication delay imposed by the speed of light between the MADDS in mid-orbit and a fleet in outer space is unacceptable. Unless you have FTL radio in your setting - then, a MADDS could concievably coordinate a fleet in its system too.
Actually, the argument is flawed in several important respects. Let me elaborate.
Space is huuuuge. Actually so huge that light takes several hours to reach the edge of the solar system, if my calculations aren't totally off.
What does this mean? First of all, if you do not have Faster-Than-Light comms, then anything that happens out there takes several hours to be relayed to you if, and only if, you detected it. Meaning, you have to have probes out there. Meaning, you have to cover a sphere with a radius of 50 AU.
Now, with our technology, we are still discovering the things the size of planets. Inside the solar system. Like, Eris. A ship is way smaller than a planet, usually. Meaning, unless you have a sensor grid out there, you will know diddly about what is going on in your solar system. If you do have a sensor grid, you may learn something... six hours later. Now, if this sensor grid does active sweeps, or is in any way detectable, an enemy appearing out there will know it is there, and where it is, and shoot it up. Thus, you learn that an enemy is there, perhaps even something about his forces. Then, you again know diddly. And, unless you have FTL in-system drives, anything you send out there will again take six hours to get there. And of course the foe will be long elsewhere. Meaning, yes you can fire from a MADDS at an enemy fleet you detected at a system's edge. Which will do exactly nothing, because your foe is not a retard to sit there. Whereas your planet is prety predictable about where it will be in a few hours. Along with the entire MADDS, of course. Meaning, you cannot really shoot back.
Now, if you send some combat vessels out there, there will be a several hour communication delay between the vessel and the planet. Meaning, you cannot communicate and have to use live crew. Who are of course fighting without the support of the MADDS. Because it is six freaking hours away. Six light-hours, that is. And if you leave the foe unengaged, he will plunder your system, shoot up the transports and sensor grid, cost you billions of credits and go away without taking a single shot. Once you rebuild, if he lets you, he will do the same again.
Of course, if he lets you, because a few warships can inflict a heavy toll on transport vessels.
So the likeliest scenario is: you invest a truckload of money into a MADDS. Your foe builds some warships. Your MADDS cannot go to his system to mess him up, but your foe can go to yours, and will. And he will make sure to make your life a living hell, and if he grows bored, he can always bombard the orbit from space without really harming the planet. Think gravel, at near light speed. Of course he can also toss a shitload of cheap nukes, if he feels nasty.
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Point made? (the Echo is really trying to help)
I'd slightly accelerate the growth of the flower; also, take into account that a few hours after death, the blood in the body is no longer fluid - hence, thye could us some anticoagulant and preservant (and thus be useful for alchemical blood preservation, too).
Other than these minor issues, a neat piece I might adapt and adopt :)
A note: with its strong foundation in dealing with knowledge, archives etc., the Ark will have a very strong handle on noblemen. Why?
*You need to legitimate your claim to a title. Of course there are documents to prove your right. Kept by an Archivist. Of the Ark.
*You need novel weaponry to defeat your foe. It was invented recently. By a scholar of the Ark.
*You need religious support to motivate your troops. Priests of the Ark can do that. (just look at the Investiture Controversy in the 11th-12th century for a conflict between priesthood and nobility).
*You need competent magistrates to run your realm properly. Of course they are members of the Ark.
Simply denying services will calm many an uppity noble quite swiftly. If the Ark withdraws its members from a realm, it will soon become a hillbilly backwater - especially considering that intellectuals will drain from there to realms where the Ark maintains presence.
I can see them involved in a grand, if silly quest: "Magic is suddenly failing! We are doomed!" Of course, it's just Bobeerin overpopulation.
A tyrannical regime could use them out to sniff out wizards. And once they taste a spellbook, wizards beware!
Adorable. Alas: what is their origin? How does their intelligence manfest? How do they interact with cultures? Any predators or enemies? Etc.
Well, this raises the classic Paladin issues: does being evil but not actually doing evil make you a target for prosecution?
How long does it take for a crime to 'fade' and no longer be detectable by the spectacles? What has to be done to wipe a sin from you?
Also, what is a grave sin to one is an amusing antic to another - for example, gay sex or blasphemy. If they detect solely crime, which law system do they use?
What about making the depictions of the spectacles dependent on the general perceptions of the wearer? So a very lenient person will not see minor sinners as demons, just as humans, while an intolerant one would find himself surrounded by the vilest fiends.