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Story - Silent Night

Story - Silent Night

In the cold and dark the young female fled through the streets, stumbling over debris hidden by the thickening layer of snow. She kept heading in the same direction though when the occasional light beamed came close she would enter a side street, crossing to a parallel empty road.

Clearly in the late stages of pregnancy, her arm was across her swollen abdomen though whether this was to protect the unborn or just to support some of the weight was uncertain. The expression on her face was one of terror and determination to keep going.

She was a few kilometres beyond the limit of the settlement when she finally collapsed. The lights of the colony were almost lost in the swirling snows.

Cheant, home of a typical stage one affair was little more than a few main roads, light industrial zone and scattered agriculture taking the form of fields and ponic processing plants. It had come under the control of the Flagritz and times had changed. On the surface everything appeared normal with traders going about their usual business but then rumours started to circulate regarding things happening beyond the port security. Initial promises of infrastructure and improved trade had steadily turned to veiled oppression with some people disappearing while others started waving around obscene amounts of money and buying themselves into positions of influence within the once fair councils.

Joe swerved nearly hitting her, skidding to a halt a further thirty metres along the track. He hadn't expected to encounter livestock this far from the gap. The storm had ripped down a few old root-thorns, taking down the perimeter fencing with them. He’d had doubts about the trees when he put up the fences back in summer but the shade they offered his animal stock against the burning glare of the F class star convinced him to leave them until the new foliage achieved a decent height. He was good at making mistakes.

It was only when he approached slowly so as not to spook the animal that he realised it was a coptuvian like himself. One of the minority species here on Cheant.

He thought for a while, though not too long, debating with himself vocally as was his habit from long years of only having himself and his cattle for company barring the occasional jaunt up Cheant Central. He still thought of it as Prefab as the first settlers dubbed the loose collection of converted cargo containers that formed the initial habitations.

'Right girly you can come back home and I will get some warmth and food into you. I doubt them critters will stray far from shelter in this storm. I can always come back when the storm blows itself out.' With that he gently picked her up. She weighed very little to someone that was used to carrying around animals. Once in the cab he turned up the heating, covered her in a fleece and set off back to his cabin. She mumbled a few things but didn’t wake.

She was well enough to be left alone by the third day, eating but not yet talking though she occasionally cried in her sleep. Joe had been able to not only fix the fencing but also make quick trip for supplies and hear the news. The latter was bad, very bad indeed. By the time he returned he was passed concerned and verging on scared having debated with himself all the way home on what it meant. Against his personal moral code he was beginning to think that he should have left her to freeze to death. Terms like missing 'breeding stock' and 'punishment for harbouring fugitives' from flagritz sources could only mean one thing.

A few more days later and he had progressed to terrified. He had been shouting at himself while in the barn only an hour before, finally coming to the decision to turn her over. Maybe they would believe he didn't know she was a fugitive or that he had only just found her in the hills. They might just issue him with a fine he kept convincing himself. He resolved to head straight into Prefab and made his way to the truck. She was looking through the window of the cabin as he passed and smiled for the first time. His resolve crumbled.

It was the next day when he heard the roar of engines, too loud for ground conveyance and too far from the flagritz base which meant only one thing, a trader coming down for civilian goods. That it was bypassing the base in favour of the sector gave him an idea. Ten minutes later he was heading cross country in the opposite direction of the contrails left by the descending ship.

Thasar was intent on getting the civvy deal tied up and off this backwater world before sundown. He hated these places with their hick mentality and stupid customs. He also hated the Flagritz and as captain of a small Privateer he was well aware of their attitude to him. Better to be out of orbit as fast as possible. He was only here because he had been tipped off that there was a consignment of local perishables for sale. Getting them back to Yank would put him in clear profit for once.

Late. Thasar was not happy. Did the bumpkin not hear the ship? With no world comms there was no way of messaging ahead. He’d have thought that they’d been eager to do business. How often does a starship come along and bring real stellars as well. The chance to get hands on stellars rather than chump guilders was not something to pass up lightly. He almost expected to have a band playing and a decent spread laid on.
The harassed little alien that approached was at best unimpressive, clearly not the local trade magnate though how could tell on a world like this.
'Er...' it stammered having come to a halt in front of Thasar.
Thasar stared down at him. At nearly two metres he tended to stare down on most people. Probably some starstruck idiot wanting to sign up despite having no training. He gave him his best veteran look.
'Er, is this your ship?' inspired observation, 'I mean are you the captain? Er, you are not working with the flagritz are you?...' ok, now that was intriguing. Thasar raised an eyebrow, though as this alien with its fixed ridges above its eyes couldn’t match the response it probably didn't understand the connotation.
'No,' he finally replied as the small alien started to look even more anxious, 'I don't work for flagritz, now unless you are here with a consignment of perishables...' he didn't think he needed to finish the sentence.
'Yes, yes I have them. I just bought them so, um, if you want them, you need to deal with me but there's a problem…’
‘Listen here bub,’ Thasar cut him off, ‘the price has already been agreed. You think you are gonna rip me off…’ the little alien threw up its arms in the universal placating gesture.
‘No, it’s not that, just that you will have to collect them.' Joe had paid over the odds for the goods but what other options did he have. He needed these off-worlders to come out to his farm.
Though suspicious, Thasar couldn’t work out the angle so the deal struck. The small alien retreated saying he would need to prepare and to meet him out at the farm. He would give them a call in a few hours time. Thasar hated waiting but at least it gave the opportunity for the rest of the crew to enjoy a little shore leave, not that there was much to do in this place short of get food poisoning or maybe trade a few beads for local goods. He supposed making some personal deals would keep the them sweet for a while though he warned them about getting into trouble with the flagritz sycophants of which there were always a few.

It was dark and many hours later when the message finally arrived. Fresh snow had fallen. They had managed to hire three haulers from the locals. He would pilot the first while Mel and Gaz had been assigned to the other two. Roads such as existed were only good in summer. There was a very real chance that one or all of the haulers could get stranded if they ventured away from the hard-packed ground.
'Gabby, I want you to take the airfoil and scan the ground. Keep low and paint us a path,' shouted Thasar.
'Sure thing captain.' Gabby was pretty good with the flyer and despite the gusting storm lit up the night guiding the three out towards the farm.

'Cap, you heard what the faggies are doing out here?' Mel liked to gossip.
'No and neither did you.'
'Reckon they got some sort of programme running here.' Gaz contributed.
'Not this again.'
'Serious captain, 'Mel continued, 'they are experimenting on people like Gaz says. Impregnating girls, using them as breeders. Governor Rodion is threatening to kill all the kids over something.'
'We're here for goods, nothing else. You need to wise up. Nothing to see, move along,' Captain Thasar started to have a bad feeling about coming here.
'They are doing searches, dragging people back to the base for interrogation and stuff.'
'That's enough, in few hours we will be on the other side of the system and by next week on the other side of the Periphery.' Thasar put an end to the conversation.

They found the farm a little after midnight. The airfoil positioned above the barn bathing the figure of the small alien in a white light.
They approached in their exotic clothing. The all in one suits were designed for exploring frozen moons and therefore more than up to the task of keeping them warm on a winter's night on Cheant even this close to the pole. Gaz's suit was open down to his stomach exposing just a loud purple shirt with flickering holo logo. The three of them looked about as out of place as it is possible to be.

'Please,' the alien said as they walked up, looking nervous again, 'you have to help us. They have been once but I managed to hide her out here. They will be back. She can't stay here and the baby has just come.'
Mel and Gaz looked at Thasar. He closed his eyes and sighed as his shoulders slumped.

The three men stood looking down at the woman and baby amongst the cattle and recently stacked crates of perishables.

The sun was coming up over Mobile Bay as the three of them descended down the ramp, mother, baby and ex-farmer. He couldn't work out why Joe had come along, he didn't strike Thasar as the sort of man, well alien, to give everything up for somebody he had just met and a child to some unknown father. There was no wisdom in it that he could see though admittedly nobody had accused him of being a wise man.

They had sort of got used to the small aliens and the goodbyes had been awkward. Mel had given them some of his stash of unique cosmetics he had picked up in Halo. They would be worth something locally he said. Gaz had handed over some pharmaceuticals. Useful for the baby especially on a new world. Thasar had even found himself slipping a few strips of precious mets into Joe's hand. He had responded by tilting his head in an approximation of Thasar's trademark raised eyebrow. Thasar had stopped thinking of Joe as an alien ‘it’. He couldn't remember when the transition to ‘he’ had occurred.

Gabby's contract was up and as she was staying on Mobile Bay for a while, said she would watch over them.

Profit was down that much was certain. Even so Thasar felt good about himself for the first time in as long as he could recall as he sat alone on the bridge. He would miss their company but not the baby's crying. It was nice to have a silent night.

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


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


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



***** 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


Free Ship when you sign-up
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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).