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Death of a Pope

Death of a Pope

As he lay there bleeding his last, his thoughts strayed to the sequence of events that led to this final encounter. He remembered his mother taking him to his first service and being stirred by the rhetoric of the priest as he berated the parishioners. While he couldn't understand the words for he was so young, even now in his last moments he recalled the passion and fire in the voice. At that moment and forever after his soul belonged to the True One.

Snatches of events, hazy and unformed over the years that followed, tumbled through his head. His ascension ceremony and the following flagellation in which he almost died were bittersweet. His first inquisition and the burning of the heretics while he quoted righteous passages from the gospels were distorted, though still distinct compared with the countless interrogations since.

What seemed like hours later, though in fact was only seconds, the ceremony in which the lords of the Confederate Houses knelt at his knees and swore fealty to him filled his mind. Mark Eaton, the newly elected Pope and the first in centuries. The candles, the angelic voices in song and prayer and Samuel, broken and in chains, prostrate on the ground. The Inner Empire was his to command in the name of the True One. Back then it never occurred to him that beyond the borders of the Inner Confederacy lay a land of heathens and alien fornicators.


His thoughts drifted to this meeting with the treacherous Roswell. Lured here after a tour of the Confederacy to accept his ascension to Pope and Emperor only to be gunned down in cold blood. A spasm choked him and a face pierced the encroaching darkness, stirring him to semi-lucidity.

Still with us Mark, I can call you Mark cant I? Surely you cant prefer Your Holiness or what was it your cardinals called you? Pius XVI?. I dont accept for one minute you believe any of that religious crap you peddle to the masses.

He tried to say something, shout even but all he could hear and feel was liquid bubbling in his throat.

Well, Ill be damned, you do, dont you. Roswell smiled benevolently though insincerely down at the body, now centred in a spreading pool of blood.

Roswell crouched down just beyond the red edge and strained forward, as though hearing the Pope whispering.

Whats that your holiness, me, accept the role of Pope after you? No, I couldnt, your shoes are far too large for a humble man such as myself. He leaned back on his heels as though deep in thought. Though if the cardinals insist and it is the True Ones wishes, who am I to fight the will of the church? Or was that youll never get away with it, though of course word has not reached you that during that little jaunt around the Peripheries we arranged that zealots be ushered to Bethlehem. Even now our fleet is en route to give them a warm welcome.




Reaching for the hand of the Pope, Jordan gently kissed the ornate ring, an heirloom dating back hundreds of years to Earth and the ancient religions of old. Then he removed it and slipped it onto his own finger.

Dont worry, your holiness, I will take good care of it. He admired the ring, holding it up to the light, I think it suits me. Pope Roswell has a certain ring to it.

As the Popes hand slid to the ground he rolled slightly forward and blood drained from his mouth. With his last breath he uttered, A curse upon the house of Roswell and all that follow you.


Footnote
Jordan Roswells stint at Pope lasted less than a year before his untimely retirement from the office. While official documents are sealed by the Brotherhood and will probably remain so indefinitely, there was significant speculation as to why his resignation was delivered in writing and without a farewell mass. Rumours of his appetites, started soon after ascension to the Papacy have only grown more extreme in his absence. That he apparently gave everything up for seclusion and contemplation in a secret monastery deep in the Inner Confederacy is held be few to be credible.

His legacy however still holds one Confederacy uniting church and state throughout the Peripheries.




 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Voice of the Naplian Liberation Front ***

We are the Naplian Liberation Front. We have commandeered this station to bring you important and vital deprogramming. You are a slave of the Galactic Trouser and Tussles Imperium of Unspecified Services! We have witnessed the press ganged upon by Imperial thugs. Rounding up reporters by the thousands and throwing them in weasel dens. Mocking the Great Uncle of the Flagritz. Manufacturing consent out of a lust for imports of wheat cereals! We poor Naplians(*) are given no training and substandard equipment when preparing your nutritious breakfasts. We are sent forward by the Imperial snack commissioners with threats of triple-filing tax returns on unreasonable deadlines! Death would be preferable. We are allegedly paid a wage but have you ever tried to buy anything with just $1? Strangely none of those politicals earning $10,000 or more a week seem to care about our plight. Not to mention that the Imperials throw perfectly good meat into the grinder instead of slow cooking it in black bean sauce. They have no respect for a classic burrito! We are left grieving for young families who have never tasted quality ranch sauce. You don’t need to be a dead Naplian to know the value of a good guacamole.

* No actual Naplians included.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * GTT vs USN * GTT vs NLF * GTT vs IND * GTT vs KAS * GTT vs FET * GTT vs SSS * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Stellar Empire On Warpath ***

The newly re-united Stellar Empire continued to wage war against the Flagritz Empire to bring about galactic peace and freedom for all. The latest system to fall to the inevitable tide of history was Morroglyph in the Coreward Arm. Dewiek intransigence reached fever pitch as the FLZ facilities changed to DEN paws and subsequently became targets of Imperial truth and justice. Despite putting themselves between the past and the future, the DEN seemed to lack much will for an actual fight with Dewiek military commanders adopting “meh” as their watchword.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * GTT smacks NLF * DEN whack MRC * Slaves Liberated * FLZ Retreat * ARC in Orion Spur * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Stellar Empire Re-United ***

Celebrations were held across the vast territories of the Stellar Empire as the two-halves represented by the governments of the Imperials and Caliphate determined to unite. This followed almost inevitably from the assassination of the Caliph, a crime that has gone mysteriously unresolved. The old Caliphate ministers were ‘retired’ and at first it seemed the Imperials had managed what had alluded them for decades.

However, just as orders to claim systems for the IMP went in some places, conflicting orders to claim for the CIA came from Laton. In other systems, it seems overwhelming civilian support lies with the defunct CAL government and there are a number of CIV and CAL bases that seem to have not heeded the CIA nor IMP orders. With all the Caliphate's armaments now in the CIA’s hand and no political leadership in the old government, it seems inevitable that the civilians will be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.

A muted and cautious response from the rest of the galaxy was only to be expected given the formation of a new unrivalled superpower. The chilling effect on public discourse as the Imperial war machine taps into the substantial, if stunted, economies of the former Caliphate will surely be felt for years to come. Does this mark the 'end of history' as we know it?

More on this story inside this issue of the SSS along with: * KAS v IMP/GTT v FLZ * DEN v MRC * FOCed by IMP * BHD v DEN * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Imperials Declare War Against Flagritz ***

A declaration of war came last week after an unsatisfactory reply to Imperial ultimatums that the FLZ accept resolution of the previous war. J. Jones issued the following proclamation, "We hope this reminder will prompt them to rethink the status they removed them selves from and come back to more peaceful co-existence.” Doublegood, Viceroy, doublegood!

More on this story inside this issue of the SSS along with: * Species Guide * FEL Barter With GIants * High Times &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Orion Spur Special Edition ***

Explorers of the galaxy rejoiced as knowledge of a new periphery became common knowledge, revealing charts to forty star systems. The Orion Spur is connected to the massive Coreward Arm with rumours that the locals of the Monument system at the heart of this new periphery may have been responsible for the collapse of the HarCorp civilisation.

We have in-depth analysis and information about the new periphery inside this special issue of the SSS.

Also inside this issue of the SSS: * Naplian Liberation Front Reality Show * FLZ v FEL * Mercs in Graydown * DOM Scare Stories * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Hoedown in Graydown ***

Wimbles in the Graydown system have come under repeated attacks by mercenaries. The Wimbles having already lost two outposts have had their ships come under attack by boarders. The Wimbles are pointing a hairy finger at the GTT whilst the DEN are itching to get their paws in.

Pleasantly rotund Wolf Lord Lyceum reported the destruction of one mercenary ship, a Corsair class explorer called "Eye of the Chosen" which had earlier dropped off ground forces flying the banner of "God Hates Wimbles.” Which God and why he or she hates Wimbles has yet to be revealed. We suspect its corporation-loving Mammon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Sargasso Update * Wakerians * Naplian Liberation Front * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Breaking News: Caliph Samuel Assassinated ***

The nominal head of the Caliphate, Samuel has been murdered in broad daylight at the starbase CAL Sidon in the Fortress system. The allegedly mad zealot was on his way to meet representatives of various civilian factions when a shadowy figure *cough*CIA agent*cough* shot him dead.

The CIA issued the following statement to the SSS with a customary nudge and a wink: "In these difficult times, as we come to terms with the loss of Samuel, we are taking things one day at a time.

"Samuel was not only our Caliph, but our leader during the Second Civil War which laid the foundations for the Confederacy after he left the Human Empire and settled in the Darkfold. It is truly a sad day and one that will be marked in history as one of many great leaders who were cut down in their prime.

"We will strive now to look to the future, whilst remembering our past”

Speculation is rife that this is the first step towards a unification of the two-halves of the Stellar Empire. Others are more hopeful this is a return to the Confederacy or the mark of greater separation with the Imperial bloc. Time will tell what nebulous motives the shadowy puppet-master Laton turned out to have had and which alien faction will be blamed for the Caliph’s murder.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * HEX / FET Invade Sargasso * Magnus v Nevets Fight! * Dewiek Black Hole Disaster * FLZ Correction * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** STOP PRESS: Felini Victory ***

In an unexpected development, the FEL have scored a decisive victory against the FLZ. Destroying or maiming some 20 Flagritz Baseships in the Onwards system.

What is more remarkable than the victory was there was no subsequent comment by Crazy Uncle Flagritz. We might need to have a lie down now.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * DEN and FEL * Valhalla Fighting Pits * RIP smacked * &etc


 
***** Christmas Special Edition *****

*** Ho Ho Ho ***

Welcome to the SSS Christmas Special Edition! We the Editors have put together a nostalgic pudding treat intended to delight and tickle even the scroogiest megacorp executive. So gather your cubs, squidlets and larvae for some silliness and song. Time to catch up with some classics from years gone by, raise your glasses and drink your gluttony and shame away!

Wishing you all a merry Christmas free from Krampus Jones's invading armies!

The Editors


 

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