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  1. So, the forum challenge inspired me. First, a couple of notes: - In my mind, the Astronomer's Guild has several related business interests beside tracking the stars. The have excellent navigators, the best cartographers and mathematicians in the Empire, and even dip their toes into fortune telling and stuff we'd classify as astrology in the real world. Game wise, these would be represented by control effects and luck-modifying abilities like Confidence. In the War, in addition to navigation, cartography, and logistics, the guild would also have had some folks able to do combat trigonometry* who would either be ridiculously good snipers or part of elite siege- and anti-siege-artillery teams with the Engineers. - "Seyfert" comes from "Seyfert Galaxy", which is a galaxy with a "small, intensely bright" center. I thought that sounded pretty Rookie-ish so I grabbed it. - If it were up to me, the Astronomers would have an Owl named Archimedes, or Arc for short. This references Watchmen's Nite Owl, and through it Disney's Sword in the Stone, and Arc could also be short for Arc-Second which is a measurement used in astronomy. I just couldn't work Arc into the story properly. - I wish Grange wasn't named Grange, because "Lagrange" would be a great Astronomer name. - "Corona" is intended to be one of the Astronomer's Captains. - Other astronomer-y names I like: Mote, Syzygy, Albedo, Apogee and Perigee, Nadir and Zenith, Nova, and Umbra. *TVTropes link; follow at your own peril. Anyways, here's draft one. Tell me what you think of it, and if you think there need to be any changes to improve it! Seyfert, Astronomer Savant Seyfert did his best work at night. To be sure, most of the Astronomer's Guild could say the same; the line of work did often require a view of the firmament, after all. But even those parts of his studies that did not require a direct view of the sky - the mathematics, the memorization of star charts and of maps of the Empire, even the card-reading he so struggled with - all came more naturally to him by the light of a candle or the full moon than by the glare of the Sun. And so it was with this assignment. Mistress Corona had gently "suggested" that he should try for her Guild Ball team. He wasn't quite sure why. Compared to the brutes he'd seen running the field at the few games he'd attended, Seyfert was waif. He'd put up as much resistance to them as a leaf does a river. So here he sat, in the middle of a shadowed courtyard, staring intently at a ball illuminated only by the scant, powdery light of the moon. He studied its seams and stitches, as if he could divine some shred of skill from it like a crystal ball. Just as with the cards, no answer was forthcoming. He threw the ball away with a scoff, and as it bounced across the cobblestones he let himself fall back, arms spread-eagle. The sky above him was painted with stars. It was a perfect night for viewing. This was what Seyfert lived for, the dance of the stars in the night sky. Even if he weren't here "practicing", he'd have been out well into the morning recording their paths. The "Song of the Spheres", Corona called it. Seyfert glanced at the ball where it had come to rest. How could something so crude be worth the Guild's attention? He got up to fetch his equipment from his quarters - he couldn't let the night's sky go to waste, he rationalized to himself. The ball sat forgotten. --- Seyfert cursed at himself under his breath as he rubbed his eyes. Why were the tryouts being held so early in the morning? He'd have thought, with their nocturnal line of work, the Guild's officials wouldn't be any more keen on mornings than himself. Perhaps the higher echelons of the Guild were too busy with their politicking and maneuvering to make observations themselves. Regardless, he sat on a bench outside of an interior court, waiting his turn to be judged. He'd hate to disappoint Corona, but he expected failure would be his lot. The sooner this was over, the sooner he could return to The Song. Every few minutes, the door to the room would open and a consul would beckon another candidate in, and few more later the prospective player would leave, downcast or angry, begging for another chance or fuming. No one seemed to leave pleased. All for the better, Seyfert thought; he wouldn't have to feign disinterest or disappointment, then. Finally, nearly nodding off, Seyfert was called into the court. Inside it was a dome, thick metal ribbing criss-crossing seemingly randomly, each arc holding a stylized moon or sun or star. The consul handed him a ball, and explained to him the test; he had ten minutes to find the goalpost and hit it with the ball from the center of the court. No more. The consul returned to the door and pulled a few levers in a console set into the wall. With the last, the floor of the court seemed to rumble; the bands along the wall began to move as the floor slowly rotated. It wasn't just a court - the room was a functioning mechanical orrery. It must have cost a fortune to commission from the Engineer's Guild. At first, he couldn't see a goal to kick for, but after a few moments of searching he found it - a small brass disc polished to a mirror finish was the only plate in the whole room that wasn't ornately decorated. It orbited slowly, constantly obscured by the motions of the other rings. As he followed it, Seyfert kept expecting it to reveal itself in its fullness so he could finally take a shot, but without fail another would intercept its path and prevent his shot. Seyfert scowled and looked at the ball at his feet. Once again he was struck with how unimportant it seemed, how crude it was compared to beautiful motion of the night sky, or even the facsimile cranking away around him. All of this was pointless compared to the Song of the Spheres. Seyfert started with a sudden realization; wasn't a ball just a sphere? Perhaps it was ridiculous, comical even, to put it in those terms, but already it had him looking to the walls with a new perspective. He could now see the rhythm of the orrery, the patterns in the orbits of the stars and the paths the arcs took. His head jerked to the side - there, that was where the arcs would part and reveal the goal, even if just for a moment. He looked down at the ball, calculations running in his head, estimating when the goal would show itself, how hard and how far he needed to kick the goal, accounting for the rotation of the floor. He took a breath, then kicked. The ball flew in a gorgeous parabola, its path like that of a star in the sky sped up to last seconds instead of hours. Seyfert's heart began to sink as he saw the spot he had aimed for was still blocked - maybe he was wrong, and he would leave the court disappointed. But at the last moment the arcs parted, and with a sound like a gong his shot struck home. Seyfert collapsed to the floor as the room ground to a halt, laughing giddily under his breath. Maybe there was something to Guild Ball after all.
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