Since nearly all cultures develop their timekeeping systems based on the orbits of satellites--rotational periods of light and darkness, usually, or revolutions of moons and planets--"cycles" is a term with many localized definitions. During the pre-Conflict Dural Sessions
, it was decided via consensus at an early stage that all records would be organized chronologically by cycle. Naturally, each delegation assumed its own definition of the term; the resulting incongruities led to a conflict over wildly contradictory records until the Sessions' abrupt and lethal end.
Though the Sessions never produced a standard definition, space travelers have since developed an informal case-usage that depends on the speaker's current location. For example, on an M-class planet, a cycle is 1 / 384 of an Alphas standard year (regardless of the planet's light-dark period); on an orbital station, it is 1 / 16 of an Alphas year; on a free-floating station or non-Bartleby Drive ship, it is a crew memberís tour of duty as defined by the [Spacers' Federated Guild]?, or 8 Alphas years; and on a ship traveling at relativistic speed, it is an internal light-dark period based on the ratio of perceived flattening of external solar bodies.