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You better watch out. You better not cry.

You better watch out. You better not cry.

The howling had stopped some time ago though Fellise still held her breath anxiously. Then the door opened and Dakran stepped through surrounded by scattering of blown snowflakes. He placed his rifle into the rack next to the door, looked over at his wife and smiled. ‘Go on back to the kids. I don’t think we are going to have any more issues with vorse tonight. I’ll fix us a drink.’
As she entered the bedroom she found all three children in the one bed with the blanket pulled up to their chins. Little Enna’s toy blaster was poking over the top at the ready.
‘Shush,’ she cooed at them, ‘nothing to be afraid of, just a few vorse trying to get over the fence. Your father scared them away.’
‘What’s a vorse?’ asked Enna, always the bravest and most curious of the sibling despite being both the youngest and small for his age.
‘Well, they look a bit like reindeer and are just as bad tempered, howling all the time. Santa could probably use one of them pulling his sleigh.’
‘Santa? Reindeer?’ they all chorused.
‘It’s a story from when I was a girl. My mother told us tales from her childhood and about what it was like back on Earth, that’s the place we all came from.’
‘But I thought we came from Capella,’ said Jacey.
‘I mean everyone a long time ago, your great grandparents, yes and mine,’ she added, stalling the next obvious question. ‘Anyway, do you want to hear about Santa and the reindeer or are you going to keep talking?’ The vorse forgotten, they now clambered forwards on the bed. ‘It all started a very long time ago when people burnt trees for heat and used animals instead of shuttles and if they wanted to tell someone about something, they even had to go and see them and of course pretty much everybody was very poor. But there was one man, something like a viceroy who was not only very rich like all viceroys but also very generous.’
‘So, this isn’t a true story?’ Souki was only twelve years old but already cynical. Then again, she was born on Stork while the family were waiting for seemingly years, stuck in a starport three-by-three poly-prefab for passage to one of the verdant frontier worlds.


‘It’s a nice story, Souki, so please. Anyway, this generous viceroy seeing that there were many people with not enough things to burn and not enough food to eat, went about over the cold winter giving them things that they needed. He also gave little toys to the children. Everyone then looked forward to winter because even though it was cold, they knew that Santa Viceroy would turn up and hand them presents.
‘But then one really cold and dark winter the weather was so bad that his normal sleigh, that’s like a sledge the size of a cart, pulled by small furry creatures could not get through the snow. As he knew the people depended on his gifts he went out into the wild and harnessed big monsters, standing taller than your daddy and with huge twisting horns.’ She made a ferocious face and used her hands as horns and leaned over the children till they giggled. ‘He wrestled the reindeer to ground and tied them to his cart. These wild beasts were then able to pull him through the horrible storm and reach the people. But when they saw the monsters charging down their streets they were scared and bolted their doors and turned out their lights and refused to come out. Santa couldn’t deliver the presents.’
‘So what did Santa do?’ asked Jacey, looking very concerned.
‘Well, guess what, he climbed from the back of the sledge onto the roofs of the houses and he got in through their chimneys and left the gifts where they would find them when they came out of hiding.’
‘But that doesn’t even make sense.’ Souki scrunched her face up.
‘Well, it was a long time ago and people did odd things back then, but the point is, Santa delivered all to goodies to all the parents and all the children all got their toys. And every year after that Santa would use reindeer to pull his cart and people would pretend to hide while Santa delivered all the gifts and so the tradition of giving gifts at the coldest and darkest part of the winter was created. Isn’t that a beautiful story?’
At least two of the children agreed.

It was three days later when Enna went missing along with his toy blaster and his electric truck. They found his tracks in the snow a few hundred metres along the road, though how he had got through the gate could not be explained. Jacey said that they had been playing Santa and by the time she had come back with some toys to pretend pull the truck she could not find him so had gone to watch cartoons.

Dakran contacted the neighbours a few kilometres along the valley and soon there were four crawlers and a flyer combing the area. His truck was soon found turned over at the bottom of a bank a short distance from the river. By this point Fellise was stifling tears and Souki was shouting hysterically about stupid stories.

Ionic radiation made the sensors almost useless while thick vegetation cover of the slopes hampered visuals. By nightfall they were tense and weary but beyond a lot of vorse hoof prints, they found nothing.

A service was held a few days later. Souki moved out and now lived with a neighbour. Felisse spent the nights crying and Dakran spent from sun up to after dark out in the fields, throwing himself into physical labour. Life ticked on.
Cutbacks meant that the garrison was closed. The system defaulted to darkspace and talk amongst many of the farmers turned to abandoning their steads and buying passage back to Stork or possibly even Capella, though attracting the attention of a reputable megacorp to do the transporting was proving to be difficult.

It was the darkest winter night when the pirates struck. They arrived along with the storm and had already turned over the steads further down the valley. It was Souki that got the word out. Seemed one of the pirates wanted a bit of private time with her and underestimated the capability of a frontier girl that spent more than few years hanging round with ground-pounder brats.




Flares were fired and a militia was formed and took up positions where the valley narrowed between the river and a cliff. The pirates however had dealt with colonists before and were confident to the point of being cocky. They split from the path, seeking to get to the high ground and pick off the defenders.

That was when the vorse hit them. The huge elk analogues appeared from the lower tree line and stampeded along the narrow gap, leaping surefooted across the rocks despite the storm and the darkness. Horns swept out, disemboweling pirates while those fleeing were either trampled into the snow or hoisted over the edges of cliffs to descend into the dark churning rapids of the river below. Of the few pirates that survived the vorse onslaught none made it back to their ship; shot down by the militia.
As the militia disbanded and swapped stories of the event some cautiously suggested that somebody was riding one of the vorse.
‘Dressed in red clothing,’ suggested one, while another corrected him.
‘I reckon it was more likely uncured hide. Gotta be someone gone native.’
‘Anyway, he was laughing, “Ho, Ho, Ho”, all the way down the hill and across the river,’ added another.
‘Nah, probably just a groaning pirate caught up in the antlers of one of them vicious animals. I reckon the flares must have spooked them.’ The rest nodded agreement though unconvincingly.

Many hours later upon returning to the homes they had fled, they found small bundles of berries left by their doors, each neatly wrapped in scented leaves. To this nobody had any explanation.

Though she never saw Enna again, Felisse stopped crying. On the coldest, stormy nights she would listen for the howls of the vorse and on the next day look for small bundles of berries. Occasionally she would swear she heard laughter along with the howls. Now she tells the story of the night Santa came to town to her new born baby.





 
News
Is open for business...
 
***** 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


 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Claws Out in Valhalla ***

In a bold rebuke of Crazy Uncle Flagritz’s attacks in the Avalon system, the cunning Felini Nevets ordered a hit on a FLZ outpost in the Valhalla system. Claiming miscommunication with his warships, the mischevious Avatar cocked a snook at the washed-out Dewiek warrior in charge of the system whilst claiming an important victory in the often one-sided conflict against the FLZ.

This isn’t the first time the foxy Feline has masked daring-do in the shroud of incompetence. It remains to be seen whether this turns out as disastrously as the time when the FEL had to pay the costs of a war started by Prince-turned-meklan LiQuan.

Meower-in-chief Chamiah apologised for the incident in a public address laced with snickering subtext and unconcealed laughter when she got to the bit about the unfortunate loss of “5 FLZ Warships in Onwards.”

A second incident in Valhalla was reported the next day with mardy Magnus complaining he wasn’t getting his claws in on the action. Could this be the pithy ploy that puts the cat on the mat?

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Merc-y Wimbles * Valhalla Fighting Pits Get Weird * Profile of Lyceum Amaguk * &etc


 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Nun on the Run ***

Alleged cosplayer Carmilla D’Morenta got the vicars in the Brotherhood all hot and bothered when she made a run for it. Possibly tired of being tied up by the reverends and denied the love that dare not howl its name. With a sizeable, almost unbelievable, bounty on her head, the barking sister took refuge with the Dewiek Elder Nation.

In possibly the shortest chase in history, the BHD managed to strike a blow for oppressed collars everywhere when they squared off with the naughty doggy-wannabe at the Valhalla stargate. The cheeky chaplains blew their hyperdrive at close range and both the BHD and DEN flagged ships were reported to be lost in space.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * DEN Ban BHD * Ulian * FLZ in Avalon * Valhalla Fighting Pits * Interview with Carmilla * And more


 

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