(Rrg. Hate rewriting a post.) So we've spend the last week-and-change in places -- from Athens, through the Aegean, up around to Corfu, and the Dalmation Coast -- that were at various time controlled -- for years or for decades or for centuries -- by Venice. Americans tend to think of 19th Century stereotypes of canals and gondolas and San Marco Square. But Venice was, for a number of centuries, an imperial power of military, economic, and cultural might. The US might dream of having such influence as Venice had, for as long as it did. Segueing from the places where Venice ruled and left an indelible stamp of influence, to the actual city itself, is breathtaking. This is the capital of a major power, of stunning wealth -- buildings of the major houses vying for elegance against one another, signage in marble and limestone, churches competing for great artists to decorate their apses and naves and altars. From fleeing the barbarians who were ransacking the Roman Empire to running an economic empire that vied against and turned back the Ottoman Turks, Venice was a superpower from the 15th through 18th Centuries, finally brought down in its senescent remnants by Napoleon. From an SF perspective, Venice feels like Trantor, Asimov's imperial capital, full of pride and power before the fall, still stunning its aspirations and accomplishments, even as it turns into a tourist attraction and a hollow shell of its past glory. To bring it back to a game perspective, wouldn't it be interesting if the Concordance represented one or a group of great stellar powers, proud and mighty, now fallen on hard times and basement-flooded shells of the past glory, but still sending out agents to keep the peace and order and centuries-dead status quo? That might explain the less-than-exemplary behavior of the recent agents visiting, or even the flaws that led Sol to bond with an immature and imperfect human.