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In a hypothetical futuristic society that blends arcane magic with science, humanity has spread across the galaxy. FTL drives exist, but they are relatively slow and must exit at the outer edge of a gravity well and crawl towards their destination. Interstellar travel is slow, and trade takes place in times measured in months and years.

But there is another option. Several researchers, infamous for their less than savoury practices, have discovered that an extra planar race is capable of transporting a human ship instantly from one place to another. The problem however, is that for all of human history these extra-planar entities have been regarded (with good reason, for the most part) as devils. The ritual to summon one of these entities involves acts of blood sacrifice and dark rituals and the public is overwhelmingly against it, but the promise of instantaneous interstellar travel is alluring to governments and corporations both.

Would people in this universe make common use of this technosorcery? Or would public opinion and the effective cost (a deal with the devil, as it were) restrict it to only the most pragmatic.

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  • $\begingroup$ Could you elaborate more on the exact characteristics of these entities? Why are they considered devils? How do they interact with humans? What goals do they have? $\endgroup$ – Alex Oct 31 '14 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ And what kind of blood rituals? Do we have to murder people? Would animals suffice? Or could we simply do with just some blood from the supermarket or a blood bank? $\endgroup$ – Alex Oct 31 '14 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ OK, let's sacrifice a fly. It's clearly an animal, but most people won't object to sacrificing it. Also, what better fitting animal could there be to fly through space? ;-) $\endgroup$ – celtschk Nov 4 '14 at 9:07
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    $\begingroup$ Just for the record - this is a REALLY good premise. You should write a novel based around this idea. $\endgroup$ – jedd.ahyoung Nov 12 '14 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you need a spaceship? If you can operate from anywhere in a gravity-well, why not use a warehouse and ship it to another planet? Or a cargo-ship. Or an airplane. $\endgroup$ – user3082 Nov 24 '14 at 23:10
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Like anything in human society, there will be people across the board on this. First there will be studies/negotiations to find out how much of what is needed to seal the deal to be transported? Does someONE actually have to die? Can an animal fill the bill? Does the level of the ritual affect how much can be transported?

These kinds of questions would be asked and needed to 'justify' their use. If 'sacrificing' a pint of my blood would work it might be much more likely to become along the main stream. If an actual human death is needed (or just needed for large shipments) then corporations and governments are likely to be the most likely to use them.

Governments would start by using murderers, child molesters and rapists because they would be 'OKish' 'as long as the need was great'. But if there wasn't enough they would expand it quickly to homeless, 'dissidents' and enemies of the state.

Corporations would just hide it well, keeping pens of 'undesirables' at hand.

Of course organized crime would have both hands in the deal. This is also quite likely an avenue Corporations would go, let OC provide the service and keep their hands 'clean'. Governments would use them as an excuse for why they need to have it available, to help combat the criminals.

Of course you will always have the extremists who will even go to the lengths to kill to prevent someone else from doing so or using the offered services. In this case it would be very ironic.

ETA one last idea

Likely someone in big business would claim they designed a 'drive' that is just as fast, and hide what is actually going on in the background. Allowing travelers to feel better about themselves in their travels.

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Yes, but with devastating consequences

Anyone willing to use the technology clearly has morality issues.

Such a technology would introduce a massive imbalance of power. Even a small rogue fleet would be easily able to outmanoeuvre a large empire, striking any undefended target at will, then melting away.

A pirate warlord would be able to dismantle a 1000 year empire piece by piece with no possibility of retaliation.

A sudden imbalance of technologies like this would likely lead to the weaker side reacting with fear and adopting the technology without public consent, i.e. tyranny.

This would start a war and lead to chaos, insurrection, wholesale destruction, the collapse of empires, and death, basically an apocalypse.

Perhaps this was the intended consequence of the "pact" all along.

So yes, people would make use of it, but with fairly devastating consequences.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 to this, for the consequences. Once one side uses this to a military advantage, I wouldn't be surprised if the other star to do so, but using POWs as the sacrifices (if that's allowed by the devil "entities"). Also, the devils themselves will end up under scrutiny from people who are suddenly interested in controlling or destroying them. (Or, going Muad'dib on them) $\endgroup$ – Web Head Nov 24 '14 at 5:36
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To answer the stated question - Yes, someone would use the technology no matter the consequences (other than immediate death, even then sometimes).

A couple other comments: - The only way that this could be restrained is if the punishment for it's use IS immediate death (or something at least as bad.) - One could use people condemned to death to summon the demons. This would probably lead to a lot of otherwise benign behaviors leading to a death sentence. - In a non-egalitarian state, the most powerful would somehow use the weakest members as sacrifices.

superluminary's comment about how de-stabilizing this would be is also very important. Maybe you could make it so that it was not quite so obviously overpowering.

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  • $\begingroup$ "In any large enough group you will find at least one person who's willing to stick their finger in the light socket just to see what happens and a good number more willing to use someone else's." $\endgroup$ – Ash Sep 13 '17 at 12:13
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People are weird

To start with, there is Church of Satan which has no problem in devil worshipping right now. Also, there are people who like to eat people and people who consent of being eaten. Just to continue my first horror story, do not forget BDSM niche where even blood could be a fetish.

In nutshell, even though it can (and will) be seen as bad practice by majority, there always be (small) minority willing to do it and even enjoying doing it.

How are you going to stop me?

Imagine, I live in your universe, on Earth. How exactly are you going to stop me? Imagine, I will watch popular sport competition happening here on Earth, then sacrifice someone I rarely know (homeless person) and move in a second to Mars colony. Place a bet here on the winner and win a huge amount of money. (because I will be here before the signal from Earth reaches Mars, so before anyone knows how the competition will end)

How do you want to stop me?

And, how do you want to hunt me, if I can escape really really quickly, and, bonus, be rich enough to actually buy a nice piece of land?

People will do anything for money

Or exchange "money" for a personal gain. There are weird stories about what you can find on Deep Web. For instance the one I heard is, that you can order assassination of someone you hate. And you pay with Bitcoin - untraceable money.

Imagine how big upper hand am I given if I can travel the whole Universe in a second.

Being you, I would think of means of regulation. Otherwise, although you might be against it (who would like to do blood sacrifice nowadays?), using it brings huge upper hand worth considering.

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    $\begingroup$ From the Wikipedia Church of Satan article you linked, first sentence: "The Church of Satan is an organization dedicated to the philosophy of LaVeyan Satanism as codified in The Satanic Bible." And from the page about LaVeyan Satanism: "Contrary to popular belief, LaVeyan Satanism does not involve "devil worship" or worship of any deities." Indeed, at the page you linked, you also find: "It often rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations of Satanists, dubbing them […] Devil worshipers." $\endgroup$ – celtschk Nov 4 '14 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ Also, contrary to popular believe, Bitcoin is not untraceable. Indeed, the whole system is built on tracing transactions, in the form of the blockchain. Sure, in that you only have account numbers which are not directly linked to your name. But correlating that with sufficient other data obtained the traditional way will probably easily reveal who are the owners of those accounts. $\endgroup$ – celtschk Nov 4 '14 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ You stop the people by making the devil entities the targets. By getting involved, the devils open themselves up to attack. $\endgroup$ – Web Head Nov 24 '14 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ From the Wikipedia page: "The church does not believe in the Devil, nor a Christian or Islamic notion of Satan.[3] High priest Peter H. Gilmore describes its members as "skeptical atheists", embracing the Hebrew root of the word "Satan" as "adversary".". So downvote for saying that CoS would worship these creatures. As for BDSM vs fetishism... differ between the two please. Also BDSM is very heavy on Safe, Sane Consensual and proper negotiations between informed, consenting adults. Messing with the occult would probably have most think is neither Safe, nor Sane. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Oct 20 '17 at 8:49
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I am reminded of the history of lead in gasoline: everyone with any knowledge of chemistry said, when leaded gas was introduced, "why, this will poison a lot of stuff and people!"

The oil industry replied: "it reduces engine knocking!" and proceeded to poison a lot of stuff and people, for decades, with zero consequences.

You could also look at the interlocked economies of rum, sugar, slaves, and cotton, or the market for crack cocaine, or opium, or the United Fruit Company, or e-waste dumping in Africa, or Foxconn.

Short answer: human sacrifice is utterly routine here and now. The stakes you describe are much higher, and so will overwhelm "public outcry" all the more easily.

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This is your world. It would be perfectly reasonable for just about anything to come about, so long as you rationalize it.

I feel you are asking for potentialities and rationalizations for them. So here are some:

1) No, never. Its heinous and society, whether repressive or progressive, will not allow it anywhere. Only supervillians and the like have access. Dogmatic repressive societies may have inquisitions and such to root out the Devil-magic.

2) Depends on where you are. Some empires oppose it and wage wars and crusades against those who use it. Those who use it are fewer in number (and possibly doomed, depending upon how you plan to play evil and commupances) but have an enormous edge from their instaneous travel.

3) Yes, its common. Perhaps because its quite dystopic, a sort of Feudal galaxy and lords can largley do whatever they want within their domains. Outward demonstrations of piety may mask smuggling empires and dark pacts. Perhaps its a built-up society, and within the dark corners of corporations the incentives, and pressures, and lack of morals, simply get too desperate...

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Here is an idea

Have your government start a campaign that shows how all of the world's problems stem from undesirables (some minority) who are baby eating devil worshipers (or done other slur) Create camps to protect the rest of humanity from these undesirables and start using then to fuel your vessel.

You can even pick up orphans, hobos, the mentally ill, and political enemies to act as fuel for your starships.

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