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214
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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 *****

*** 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

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****



 
***** Inter Galactic News THE MUSICAL *****

*** Norozov, No More ***

Kantner: No more do I see the starlight caress your cyclops eye
No more feel the tender kisses we used to share
I close my fists and clearly my heart remembers
A thousand goodbyes could never put out the embers

Chulainn: Oh the power is mine now!

Kantner: Norozov, I love you so, and my heart forever
Will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before
Please, come back to my arms; we belong together
Come to me; let's be sweethearts again and then let us part no more

Chulainn: Oh all the Stellars mine now!

Sylvansight: I will have his eye!

Kantner: No more do I feel the touch of your hand on mine
No more see the love-light making your dark eyes shine
Oh, how I wish I never had caused you sorrow
But don't ever say for us there is no tomorrow

Chulainn: Oh all the ladies mine now!

Sylvansight: I will have his eye!

Chorus: The power is in the eye!

Kantner: Norozov, I love you so, and my heart forever
Will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before
Please, come back to my arms; we belong together
Come to me; let's be sweethearts again and then let us part no more

Sylvansight: I will have his eye!

Chulainn: Oh the power is mine now!

Chorus: The power is in the eye!

Kantner: Norozov, I love you so, and my heart forever
Will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before.

Lanner: So, old cyclops has finally met his comeuppance
Maybe its time for a comeback

Chorus: No, no one wants you back!

Lanner: I always did like that chair of his…

Chorus: The power is in the eye!
The power is in the eye!
The power is in the eye!

Continued in this special edition of the SSS...

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** ALIEN CRIMINALS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE ***

FILTHY AND DISHONOURABLE Dewiek mercenaries have dared to attack HONEST AND HARDWORKING GTT warships in the Coptuv system.

THEY HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO JUSTICE. LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!

The Dewiek commander’s lengthy response was appreciated by xenophile and philanthropist HQ Manager Tom Krieger but this does not change the facts.

FURTHER JUSTICE IS EXPECTED AT THE EMPEROR’S PLEASURE. LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!

Inside this issue of the SSS: * SEDITIOUS FET CHARGED * LIES OF THE FAILED REBELLION * TERRORIST PLOTS FOILED * ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE CRITICISED * &etc

 
***** 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

 

Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
Dedicated human moderators
Player and Moderator driven plotlines
Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

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