Those who stand above the best
To many, explorers are granted titles like Senior, Expert or Master once they reach a certain level in their speciality, with the latter being reached only at the pinnacle of the trade. While this is true, there is an additional rank only a few know about. Only given to masters, this superior title does not represent one’s innate ability, but rather the extent of their power compared to other masters.
Above the best
If so few people know about this title, it is mainly because it is almost never given. Younger explorers are often unaware of this, and many discover this possibility after reaching the Advanced or Expert rank. Grandmasters are not simply the best in their field, they are beyond that. Where masters are very specialized, grand masters cover a wide range of topics. For example, Alcer Kirodan is the master of lightning, but his speciality is the domain of the grand master of elements Tivyan Treywin. The Icarryan equivalent would be a grand master of the blade as opposed to masters of swords, spears and axes if such a person existed.
The process to elect a new grand master is different from other ranks. The ranking bureau can suggest names, but eventually, it is up to the top executives to debate each case, and the final choice is left to Terry of Alcyerna, I.D.E.A.'s CEO. The way he judges each candidate is left to his entire discretion, and the standard is supposed to be extremely high, considering that only 67 grandmasters were appointed in the 200 years of existence of the I.D.E.A. among thousands. 21 of them are still active, 7 of which are out on unknown endeavours.
Titles are mostly given as honorifics and give a rough idea of the explorer’s abilities. They are the same for both Alcyers and Icarryans, although that does not give any information about their relative power.
- Junior: Once an explorer succeed in their final exam, they get this title. There is no meaning to this title, except highlighting the inexperience of the explorer.
- Senior: After a few explorations, every explorer gain this title. It does not do much besides setting them as real explorers. Seniors get a full paycheck and access the whole range of advantages given to explorers. Some explorers lacking ambition and potential keep this title for life.
- Advanced: Advanced explorers distinguish themselves through their hard work and willingness to work for the I.D.E.A. In addition to a bigger wage, these explorers are granted the right to step on Terra. They are given the more sensible tasks, such as subduing rebel groups not affiliated with the Alternative.
- Expert: To be designated expert, an explorer must show outstanding power and great mastery over it. Since it often boils down to innate talent, even junior explorers can receive this title and the benefits that come together, like media coverage and partnerships.
- Master: They are a different breed altogether. The best in their domains, only one identical title of master can be given at the same time. They are said to be the best at controlling their abilities or weapons and must be both expert and advanced. This last condition makes it hard to reach the rank, as most experts tend to lay back and rely on their popularity to avoid as much work as possible. This is a title loaded with responsibilities, especially toward the other explorers of the same trade. They also get to participate in some board meetings and exploration planning.
The ranking bureau
An entire department of the I.D.E.A. is dedicated to the surveillance and assessment of explorers. Counting about twice as many people as the number of explorers, its purpose is to determine whether an explorer is worthy of getting a raise since they have no superiors per se. Their identity is concealed to avoid pressure and bribes, they are tracking the acts of their designated targets full-time.