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Story - The Fall of Kastor

The Fall of Kastor

‘Never like this,’ he said quietly to the empty barracks. The room was bare, utilitarian, grey steel bed-frames, now devoid of even their basic rolls and accompanying shelves are empty of clothes and permitted personal affects. He had prepared himself for death by depressurisation and had viewed hundreds of clips. The final breath, the frosting and cracking of bare skin in the final moments before death and then utter stillness. Years in service had even made him numb to the probability that his end may be slower. Puncture wounds to the intestinal region and hours of poisoning and agony while the battle raged all around and medics dealt first with those that had a chance. The one fate he never anticipated was being sacked. This was a death of purpose, a death of ambition and a death of vengeance. This was a death colder than the wastes of space.

His eyes turned to the window, looking through the yellowing blast-glass to the crumbling parade yard beyond and he thought back nearly two decades ago. Following induction and initial training he and just over half the conscripts had qualified for further training. Some of those that failed, only achieving militia status had tried hiding their disappointment and failure by claiming that all he had qualified for was premature death. He remembered that early doubt and how the pride in his father’s eyes had banished it.



His father, one of the last from the cryo-vats, vats that had taken his arm and lower leg and blackened the side of his face. His mother, riddled with cancers kept at bay through cryo-stasis was rendered clinically dead before he was born. On bad days his father was prone to violence and reliving the end days nearly half a millennium ago. On those days, the war still raged, on those days his father screamed as the bombardments levelled the city, forcing him to crawl through endless darkness, subsisting on the flesh of dead friends and radioactive water dribbling through the rubble. On bad days his servo-limbs were remotely deactivated and he was heavily sedated. The bad days were not discussed.

On good days his father would describe Kastor as it was. Bright cities, almost no smog, transport systems not only running, but on time. Food like you would not believe. They had huge halls where they reared creatures and plants purely for the purpose of being eaten. Back then, yeast was for creating fermented alcohol. That was before industrial processing of yeast as food. The way he described it, it was an age of wonder.

He looked down at his primary blaster hanging at his waist and moved his hand to rest on it, both protectively and for reassurance. It was his father’s. All that went into stasis with him and now, his father gone these past few years, it was all that remained. In some ways he is glad that his father died. To have come through the war, to have awoken in the ruins of Kastor and to have laboured searching for those still locked in endless sleep, dying as their vats failed and never waking up. To have done all that, driven with a single purpose and come so far only to fail utterly and for reasons that nobody ever suspected.

He spat the word commerce, sneering at the stain that only weeks ago would have found him stripped, flogged and forced to clean the barracks for a month. Even to himself he could admit that he had no idea how it happened. The news told of destabilisation in stability and how long-term demands unfulfilled by external investment following the collapse of the intermediary Alexander Enterprises led to spiralling costs. At some point the government couldn’t afford either its army or navy. Mercenary factions quit, businesses went bust and there was neither food nor power for civilians. Then the looting started.

He had followed orders that day and weeks after though the fighting only got worse. Hardest hit were the food processing plants. That was when starvation became widespread and even the military started to suffer. He had fired into the shadowed alleys along with the rest of his squad and advanced around the burning debris and stepping over bodies. These weren’t rebels, most were not even armed. They were people, starving and desperate. These were his people, the offspring of those that survived the attempted genocide of the Yanks.




It was only hours after this last confrontation that the government gave the order, echoed from the few still functional public address systems, that all but a token force within the vicinity of the capital and in each military base was to stand down, turn over their arms and return to civilian status. There was short period of bewildered silence then the tide turned as word spread that the military had effectively surrendered. Those squads that had welcomed the ceasefire and removed armour suddenly found themselves besieged by angry mobs. This was no longer fighting for food; this was callous and brutal with neither quarter nor mercy given.

With the rest of his squad he had fought his way out of the urban zone and back to barracks. The demobbing was quick, with many going their separate ways to join family in different districts and blend in with civilians while others formed themselves into bands. Both tactics designed to avoid likely reprisals against the military from angry civilians. He had remained at the base despite not being counted amongst the remaining active force. His marginally elevated rank put him at odds with the rest of the squad and without family there was nowhere for him to go.

For the first time in his life he wondered if they could be wrong. While rumour of the hand of friendship from the Yanks had been doing the circuit for years he had always dismissed it as propaganda. But then, if purely propaganda, why had they not returned to finish the job their ancestors started centuries ago? Without chain of command telling him what to believe he was lost. They were all lost.





 
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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