The schtick with the Sublight Universe is that it is a world is awash in magic users. And after a century and a half of magic, people have gotten over the "wow" factor. Mind control (like the Jedi Mind Trick) is considered an invasion. Having parts of a city leveled because two mages couldn't settle a dispute in a more civilized fashion was never really popular. Having the economy implode because a magus rips a pillar our with a game changing magical ability is crippling for the world at large.

The use of any sufficiently disruptive magic falls under the regulatory prevue of Agency for the Utility of Novel Technology and Intelligent Ethics (A.U.N.T.I.E). Because disruptive magic can cross corporate and national jurisdictions, AUNTIE operates a professional standards organizations.

AUNTIE operates by seeding the civilized world with schools and guild halls. In these places students and professionals learn the ethics and implications of magic are taught side-by-side with practical knowledge of how to employ it. Low level spells require no license. (They are handed out like merit badges in Youth Scouts.) Useful, but disruptive if misused, spells are only taught to people who possess a professional license. World shifting magic is only trusted with professional academics working on legitimate research.

People with licenses who make a nuisance of themselves are subject to discipline by a branch of AUNTIE known as Magic, Auditing and Enforcement (M.A.E.). MAE agents can issue fines, seek restitution for magical havok, and even revoke a magic user's professional license. Practicing high level magic without a license is a serious offense in most parts of the Solar system. And laws about magic don't exist, MAE is the self-appointed sherif in town.

Having so much power in charge of so much power would corrupt even the purest of humans. As such, most of AUNTIE's bureaucracy is operated by divine intelligences who operate under contract from another dimension. Service in our reality is considered a hardship post for most divine entities, who generally operate in "more perfect" levels of the multiverse.

Field agents for MAE travel in pairs. One human mage, and one divinity. The divinity normally travels in disguise as the human mage's familiar. (Most humans would go insane at the sight of a divine it its "natural" form in our reality.) MAE agents take a vow of poverty. AUNTIE pays for all of their expenses. They only payment an agent can receive is on behalf of AUNTIE. They have a "company card" to make small purchase. Though the credit limit on those cards generally exceeds the gross domestic product of several nations.

The Human is present essentially as public relations. He or she can explain to other humans what the divine thinks is the rule to follow, or a solution to a problem. He or she also explains to the divine how some ideas, while they make sense in the higher dimensions divines normally inhabit, don't really work in objective reality. And that others are impossible for a mortal being to actually carry out, in practice. Divines really don't tend to understand the nitty-gritty of human existence. In particular the need for eating, sleeping, and sex.

My story includes two agents from MAE, Ishmael and Bastet. Ishmael is an ageless dandy who occasionally breaks into tales about his time on 19th century whaling vessels. Bastet takes the form of a cat, who tends to walk through walls, inhabit multiple places simultaneously, and such.

Ishmael and Bastet boss at AUNTIE is a being named "Mike". Mike is a higher dimensional being who inhabits a HOLMES IV supercomputer, at AUNTIE headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The computer acts like a "space suit" for Mike. A simulation inside a holographic matrix is as close as Mike's kind can come to existing and interacting in our world. Being fixed in one place, Mike uses a series of "assistants" to carry out his directives around the Solar System.

The Paul Cézanne employs CHERYL. She lives inside the mainframe that operates the vessel's branch of the Lethian Flying University, AUNTIE's distance learning system. CHERYL's interactions with normal humans are... less than stimulating to her. She does get to interact with higher level mages in the library at the Vessel's retirement home. She also enjoys regular visits from the ship's resident drago: Orochi.

Orochi is a being of pure energy that is came to life spontaneously by the operation of the ship's reactor. Fusion reactors are designed to facilitate the creation and sustainment of plasma elementals, as they catalyze the fusion reaction. The reactor matrix on large scale vessels like the Cézanne are very energetic and complex. They also operate over long periods of time. Long story short, the plasma elementals sometimes become self aware. And over the 20 year of the vessel, Orochi developed a life of its own.

Orochi, as a complex being, gets bored in confined settings. As human beings are the closest intelligent life, he/she has learned to mimic their form. He/she manifests as a shape-shifting/gender bending humanoid. He/she can conjure small temporary objects and cast convincing illusions. As he/she is combating boredom, Orochi partakes of as much sensory stimulation as possible. He/she can only remain corporeal for short periods before the shell evaporates. Mages believe the process of forming his/her shell required tremendous focus and concentration.

Observations of Orochi have revealed that the Sun is apparently inhabited with countless similar life forms. Traces of similar life processes have also been discovered in tectonically active areas of the Earth's crust. Particularly in Japan.