SEZUAN

 ROCKETSHIPS

Rocketships are enormously important in Sezian culture. They do not go into space, they are simply used as transport. They are built of Spirit Wall, an unusually light and buoyant metal found only in Sezuan. They are extremely difficult to control because of the lightness of the metal, and many Sezians die learning to fly. The vehicles are also cramped and uncomfortable for the pilot, but their design has remained almost unchanged for two thousand years.  

The construction of rocketships is highly controlled and ritualistic, and occurs only in  the ancient dockyards on the island of Calano. Rocketships are generally handed down through families, but when they are commissioned they cost a fortune. Rocketships are built by one master and several apprentices, the most senior of whom will accompany the rocketship to its new owner and become its mechanic. They will stay with the rocketship and maintain it for the rest of their lives.

SEZUAN is a vast continent on planet Thea. It is rich in natural resources, particularly metals, and its wealth fomented the growth of an intricate culture.  Sezian culture is deeply ritualistic: practicality is almost always sacrificed to tradition.

Sezuan is a Constitutional Theocracy built on the belief in magic. This is not the magic of Harry Potter, it has no apparent effect, but it dominates Sezian culture.

At the top is the spiritual leader - THE WITCH PRIME. There is also a parliament, THE COVEN MAJOR. Each province is governed by its own COVEN. The belief in magic pervades every aspect of Sezian life, from politics to the operation of rocketships. 

ROCKETSHIP DIVISION

Rocketship Division is the most prestigious branch of the Sezian Military.

It is notoriously corrupt, but this is seen as a guard against  a purely hereditary leadership. Young men and women from the working classes enter the division as Cornets (the lowest rank), but the upper classes regularly buy or inherit commissions as officers. 

Rocketships are cramped, so Rocketship Division soldiers tend to be small in stature. Their fighting style is also adapted to cramped spaces. They use a Sezian Cutlass, a short weapon with a basket guard which is used blade downwards. This is used in the dominant hand. On the other arm is a small, round shield. These are skirmish weapons, but Rocketship Division also carry two projectile weapons. One is a javelin called a PHILA (pronounced feela). The other is the famous Sezian pistol.

Sezian pistols are the embodiment of Sezian ritual impracticality. The pistol is the soul of the Rocketship Division soldier. It is drawn and fired with the non-dominant hand following a highly controlled and systematised series of movements. It works by compression or striking of a piezoelectric crystal, FORD SALTS, which occur commonly in Sezuan, often in streams and rivers (hence the name). The electric charge that emerges is notoriously unreliable, and the shooter can only rely on two or possibly three shots from each load. Hence, Rocketship Division soldiers follow a strict battle routine. First they throw the phila, which is composed in part of soft metals so that it distorts on impact and cannot be reused by the enemy. They then draw the pistol in ritual fashion, and fire two or three times. They then carefully re-sheathe the pistol, draw their cutlass and charge in formation. 

Pistols are, like many iconic Sezian items, passed down from generation to generation. A battered and scarred pistol is a mark of great family esteem. Pistols are never thrown away, no matter how damaged they are. Instead they are meticulously repaired. A soldier would rather go into battle with a barely functional, weathered pistol than a new one.

The beam from a Sezian Pistol is so erratic that it is often controlled with a MODERATOR. This is a device that attracts the beam and controls it, but only to a slight extent. The moderator is held in the dominant hand. As with everything Sezian, it takes great skill to operate effectively.

© 2020 by Dan Freeman