K7

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K7 - BEATERS

After the Summit at Taurus City there began a period of rapid development of space in the Toliman system. A breathtaking feat of construction took place inside the Northern Ice of Gorpai, guided on-site by Talishi with technical support from Binah. It resulted in the construction of a sun-powered electromagnetic catapult for hurling vehicles into orbit. With this device it became relatively cheap and easy to obtain access into space.

Shuttles were hexagonal in cross-section, so they could fit inside the mass-driver. Wings and stabilizers lay folded up on the surface of the reusable shuttle for the launch, to be used on the return leg. The spacecraft typically carried six persons and a small amount of cargo, or two persons and more cargo. After getting underway, there was two minutes and thirteen seconds of crushing hell in the mass-driver tunnel at six gees. As the shuttle neared the end of the tunnel it passed through a series of automatic airlocks designed to bring the local pressure from the near-vacuum of the majority of the tunnel to the full atmosphere at the tunnel mouth. Passengers were hurled forward in their straps. At 365 miles east of the boarding station the shuttle passed the final coil and broke into clear air. The sky turned black and the planet appeared to gradually drop away from the shuttle until orbit was reached. It was a frightening ride to newbies but it was actually very safe if one could handle the gees.

Before this mass driver came on line, Belial established a navy headquartered at the moon Palato, armed with antimatter warheads, powered by antimatter drives, and sufficiently powerful to deal with any contingency as the citizens of Gorpai began to filter off the planet. The wormhole fold-gate system announced at the Summit permitted travel between star systems.

Since Rigilkent was close enough to Toliman for two-way radio communications between the systems, there was a sense of continuity among the Families. The Salas of Dia, for instance, felt a deep communion with the Salas of Gorpai. But in the Jupiter colonies a different thing happened, because two-way radio communication was not possible. It would take more than eight years for each response. So at Jupiter the people felt themselves to be more Solarian than Centauri, and they soon lost their connection to the great families of their roots. So it came to pass that the Bellon and Ger- ash families who settled Ganymede mixed together and produced a new family that called itself Krenek. The Larund and Sala families merged on Callisto to form family Ushnel.

Family Antero settled the moon Io but soon shattered into many smaller clans that grew to be dominated by Family Sonad. Europa started as a Gerash prestige project that divided into many clans as well, but no unified order emerged there. Overlooked in all this expansion, thousands of small bodies in the Toliman section of the Eggbeater were settled by wave after wave of pioneers from Gorpai, and after a time, the "Beaters" of Toliman began to run up against the Beaters of Rigilkent, and this was not always peaceful. Each body was occupied by a single family, and few of them obeyed the Cupel system of testing or any other precept of the Law of Belial. Religious and political unity shattered on the infinite frontier of space.

In the very low gravity of the asteroids it was considered more practical to have four hands rather than two hands and two feet. Genetic engineering began to blur what it meant to be nephilim and the practice was absolutely disgusting to Belial. This was immensely ironic, since the nephilim themselves were Belial's extensive genetic modification of classic Earth stock.

Other Beaters dabbled in techniques for changing genders within a few days. The procedure was reversible and complete, right down to a functioning uterus for men, very useful for new colonies where breeding females were at a premium. Such a thing was absolutely incompatible with the system established in the Law of Belial that treated yen as little more than property. The Emperor vowed perpetual war against them, for the Beaters had not been at the Summit, and the Beaters were happy to oblige Abaddon.

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