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Death of Diaz

Death of Diaz

It was evening, but still in the high thirties outside and cash, like the cheap spirits in my glass had long since evaporated. It was stifling and damp, though opening the window would bring no relief. The lights were off along with the cooler. I had been disconnected, literally. Somebody had got wise to my blackmarket override code and removed the coupling. I was weighing up my options not liking any of them when she walked in.

'So, you’re in, maybe you should leave a light on or something.'

My shoes, parked on the table had hid her entrance while the whirring of my thoughts had drowned out the noise of the door opening. Her voice was soft with a slight lilt that would be worth waking up to, well, just a couple of times anyway. I moved my feet, returning the chair to as close to the upright position as it would go and tried to pierce the Stygian gloom to the speaker. If she was half as good as her silhouette I was in trouble.


She took two languid steps forward and leaned down a little to place both hands on my desk, staring long and cool in the eyes. My mind told my eyes to meet hers, they however had their own agenda.

Trouble.

'What do you know about Diaz?' she asked, not blinking and defying me to.
'Only that she retired from public service some time back and that she died a few days ago after an illness.' Diaz, her interest in heels aside the dame had been healthy, some would say vigorous, personally I don't listen to gossip unless it is relevant to the case.
'You buy the stories it was some form of rare alien virus?'
'That depends who's selling.'
'Fifty a week with three hundred expenses says you find out.'
'Sounds above my pay grade sweets. Tell me, if the pols aren't interested, what's it to you? Have a lot of shares in footwear?' Yeah, I knew baiting her could cost me a packet, but something didn't add up.
'Take a week to think about it and poke around.' With that she left, casually dropping a dime chip on the desk. I waited, drinking in the view; all the way down to her heels. Trouble.

It was sometime before I picked up the chip. A hundred was indicated on the reader. That would go a long way to getting me ahead for once. I was already at the door, my body having decided before my head had finished the debate.
It was a busy few days putting feelers out. Word got around that I was on a case so the monkeys were paying their respects, I was just paying. I still had enough to put some sharp lines on my body. If I was going to be brushing shoulders with the movers and shakers I had to scrub up with a new suit. First though, there was a captain just heading out that wanted a quick word about his recent trip to Straddle. Yeah, I had to look it up. Some backwater system. Seems the imperials and republic have been having a punch-up over it. Started in the time Diaz was calling the shots.

I was being tailed on the way to the dock. I had picked him up at the starport gates. The fashion was right, though the stooge was working it too hard. He clocked me and backed off. Time to have a chat. That's when it hit me, the right hook to the gut. Suckered by the old obvious distraction. While I was still reeling a second splintered my sight and I was looking up at a squat face. The guy must have been a gravity junkie. What they lose in height they more than make up for in power. A stubby finger was pointed down at me. 'Stay of the Diaz case, else!'
When I finally had reopened my eyes he was gone. Starport security, never around when you're getting the stuffing knocked out of you but try dripping blood across the concourse as you stagger to the conveniences. Bastards.

By the time security was finished with me my contact was off-world. A dead end. I decided to hit my local. After covering my tab and being hustled into covering the leaner times ahead I worked through what I knew. Those in authority were officially mourning the passing of the great lady. Some cutie was hiring a low-life, yours truly, to poke around and somebody really didn't want me talking to the captain. I took this to mean that she wanted somebody below the political arena, somebody not already on a payroll. I also suspected that she was simply a pawn of a bigger fish, somebody that wanted the truth exposed without the light shining on them at the same time.

I ghosted the scenes for the next couple of nights, looking the part without standing out. Diaz cropped up a few times in conversation, though it was clear that those talking about her were definitely not in the know. Sometimes it's what people don't say that you have to pay close attention to.

It took all my powers of persuasion and a large chunk of the expenses to dig out the name of the doctor who treated Diaz at the end. What was the connection between Diaz, a university toxicologist and a captain from Straddle?
I was told under no uncertain terms to leave the university campus before I even made it to reception. Attempts to reach the Dr were in vain. The guy was being shielded and I was at the end of the first week. I left, returned to the office and climbed into a bottle of the hard stuff.

My office had been given the once over. I also suspected that my data-vault had been mined. I only ever keep the old stuff there. Figure someday I will write my memoirs. The good stuff I commit to memory. Good ol' fashioned organic, nothing cyber. Paint me paranoid but I have seen how soldiers react as though somebody is pushing their buttons.
A few hours later I dropped the empty bottle into the basket. That's when I saw it. The office may have been turned over but nobody thought to look in the trash. Amateurs or maybe they thought I was in the habit of chucking away cash chips. Clearly they didn't know me very well.

The dame had been round, it had her scent, something I had not noticed first time, distracted as I was by her eyes, at least that's what I intended to write in my memoirs. I slotted it. More money but also schedule for a doctor, a schedule that put him attending a private seminar outside the university.

My cover as waste disposal maintenance was flimsy though security at the seminar was poor. I had also taken the time to openly fail to get into the university before going to the bar. This allowed me to shake off the tails I had once again picked up. I was ignoring them while watching out for hammer hands just to be on the safe side.
The seminar was dull. Yeah, so a lot of planets mean a lot of life and by extension, a lot of poisons. So some guy has spent a lifetime looking at them. While most are simple chemicals that wreck biology and are obvious, some have evolved for native fauna and are mostly harmless against non-native biology. That was it. I waited for questions and was awarded my opportunity.



'You say evolved poisons are mostly harmless against non-native species? Can you give an example where this isn't the case?'
'In most cases the toxin is an enzyme. Normally they are denatured when removed from their natural environment or do not have the correct active site to bind with non-native biochemistry such as cell walls. That said there was a case I dealt with recently in which an enzyme was biologically close to human enzymes. It caused the breakdown of neural cells resulting in dementia then brain death. It took weeks to take effect, though I only dealt with the post mortem toxicology report.'
'Was this from Straddle?'
He started to nod, paused then looked at me more closely before turning to somebody out of sight. I had the information I needed and was out of there as fast as I could.

Poisoned from a toxin that came from a world that was being fought over with the imperials. That was what they didn't want me finding out. This just left two questions. Who poisoned Diaz but more importantly, at least to my mind, who was hiring me? Either way the outlook was pretty grim. From the sounds of it, Diaz had been poisoned while still in office. Was this the real reason she stepped down. Was the House of Lords covering-up that their best security was not good enough to protect the Speaker from the imperials or was there a conspiracy to replace her? If they latter, then who was leading it?




 
News
Is open for business...
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Bravo for Freedom ***

Naplian Forces have attacked three human pirate outposts in the Morroglyph system. A spokesperson for Naplia HQ told the press that the plucky duct-tape loving free people would continue their war against slavers and pirates in their home periphery.

One salty Naplian libertarian told the SSS, “The people of the Naplian Home Periphery are sick and tired of human criminals coming here just because their homeworld is an overcrowded hell. It’s time for them to go back home.”

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Igor of Fang and Horns * Admiral Loves Dick Turpin * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

.What is It?
..a wOrmhOle?.
…No.. worse..
….the KANG singularity!…
…..It pulls us IN…..
……lOOks sO familiar……
…….yet so strange…….
……..what is……..
………that?……..

*** Flagritz Liberalise Economy ***

In good news for all the galaxy the Flagritzi have vowed to liberate all slaves across their Empire. Furthermore, the hectapods have given up eating other sentient species; taking up a strict diet of veganism and soy chai lattes. Sales of turtle neck sweaters and Forbidden Fruit laptops have skyrocketed.

The news was cautiously welcomed by the benevolent Felini Tyranny who looked forward to reducing the War phase of their daily Nap-Lick-Nap-War-Nap-Eat-Sleep cycle to a perfunctory forty winks.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Baron Womble * A Short History of the DPP * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Empire Strikes: Solo ***

A massive fleet of some 1600 warships, including large numbers of super-heavy capital 300 and 400 hullers, attacked the DEN in the Solo system, catching them with their metaphorical pants down. The DEN gate platform and some two hundred DEN freighters were subject to antimatter missiles amongst other high tech ordinance.

Jack the lad, Viceroy of the Empire, claimed a victory for freedom and the Imperial (right of) way leaving the sullen Dewiek unusually unresponsive.

With DOM platforms firing on CIA ships, will the IMP now demand the DOM add them to the Do Not Fire lists as well? And what exactly is the nature of the DOM and DEN alliance in light of the sustained attack from the Empire? And will the DEN’s alien friends stand idly by as the Empire fleet camps in the vital gate system of Solo? How will the DEN retaliate for this action or are they ready to roll over and have their bellies rubbed?

All this remains unknown. All that is certain is the “feel good” factor across the DTR has increased, with citizens reassured that for some time yet, they may continue in their slumber with the easy assurance that their number is not coming up anytime soon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * New BHD Guy * DOM Statement * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** To Ur Is Dewiek ***

Dewiek forces had a hefty smackdown against the mysterious living ships known as the T’Cath (TCA). Seven adult TCA 400 hull capital ships, each firing eight of their notorious plasma cannons, were killed by a DEN and DOM fleet of some 700 ships.

Of the minimal losses suffered by the DEN / DOM, one-eyed Magnus and Nevets Motnhap of the FEL were amongst the dead.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Caribbean Congo Continues * Ur Witness Report * * Hive Briefing * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** The Long Quiet Season ***

Listen…
There’s no sound of anger or of annoyance,
There’re neither cruisers racing on the jump lanes
Nor there jump lanes for them to race on,
There’re neither monks chanting on the battlegrounds
Nor bells calling us to the True One.
There’s neither the lightning cracking of the sky
Nor the persistent Naplians pattering on my roof.
There’s no Dewiek arm in arm to admire the magnificent view
There’re no war drums to feed Human ears
Nor Hive sirens to steal the boredom away
There’s no unfamiliar wing creeping underneath the Falconian sun
Nor floods to enshroud the Aquaphid grounds
The land lies lonely out here
On this lazy summer’s day
There’s no pollution to poison the airs of Inversion
Nor forests to give them life
All I hear is the hushing sound of the wind
Assisting the sand to fall into beautiful undulations.

Whilst we’ve been away: * Operation Giantslayer * Naplian Liberation * Back in the DTTR * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Falconians Saved ***

The Imperials have cunningly saved the Falconian Republic from being consumed by the Dewiek Elder Nation and at no small cost to the DEN either. Whilst the new pro tem Consul crowed about the “victory”, all former FCN systems besides Acropolis have been taken over by the two warring Empires - Human and Flagritz.

Was it all worth it? For the IMP / GTT it clearly was, for the movement of a few hundred thousand troops is surely nothing to the cost they endured trying to and failing to knock the DEN out of Solo after the fact. The FCN now plucked off most of their navy and wider assets are a tiny nothing of their former self. The DEN may have resorted to some dirty namecalling but can the costs endured to save an enfeebled FCN have really been worth it? Time will tell.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * INDignation * FELicitous Caribbean * Nah Plan for Naplia * Mercs Trouble DEN * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Acropolis Now ***

The IMP and GTT have brought peace and stability to Acropolis.

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Goodbye Falconians ***

The galaxy bid farewell to the Falconian Republic as the Human Empire subsumed them into their expanding territories. This marks the second death of an alien civilisation at the hands of the IMP / GTT in recent years. Like the extinguishing of the nearby Ulians, no voices of opposition could be heard from other quarters. This marks a long-period of appeasement by the Detinus Republic and Dewiek Elder Nation.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * DOMination * &etc

 

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Over 20 years of content development
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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic