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Death of a Pope

Death of a Pope

As he lay there bleeding his last, his thoughts strayed to the sequence of events that led to this final encounter. He remembered his mother taking him to his first service and being stirred by the rhetoric of the priest as he berated the parishioners. While he couldn't understand the words for he was so young, even now in his last moments he recalled the passion and fire in the voice. At that moment and forever after his soul belonged to the True One.

Snatches of events, hazy and unformed over the years that followed, tumbled through his head. His ascension ceremony and the following flagellation in which he almost died were bittersweet. His first inquisition and the burning of the heretics while he quoted righteous passages from the gospels were distorted, though still distinct compared with the countless interrogations since.

What seemed like hours later, though in fact was only seconds, the ceremony in which the lords of the Confederate Houses knelt at his knees and swore fealty to him filled his mind. Mark Eaton, the newly elected Pope and the first in centuries. The candles, the angelic voices in song and prayer and Samuel, broken and in chains, prostrate on the ground. The Inner Empire was his to command in the name of the True One. Back then it never occurred to him that beyond the borders of the Inner Confederacy lay a land of heathens and alien fornicators.


His thoughts drifted to this meeting with the treacherous Roswell. Lured here after a tour of the Confederacy to accept his ascension to Pope and Emperor only to be gunned down in cold blood. A spasm choked him and a face pierced the encroaching darkness, stirring him to semi-lucidity.

Still with us Mark, I can call you Mark cant I? Surely you cant prefer Your Holiness or what was it your cardinals called you? Pius XVI?. I dont accept for one minute you believe any of that religious crap you peddle to the masses.

He tried to say something, shout even but all he could hear and feel was liquid bubbling in his throat.

Well, Ill be damned, you do, dont you. Roswell smiled benevolently though insincerely down at the body, now centred in a spreading pool of blood.

Roswell crouched down just beyond the red edge and strained forward, as though hearing the Pope whispering.

Whats that your holiness, me, accept the role of Pope after you? No, I couldnt, your shoes are far too large for a humble man such as myself. He leaned back on his heels as though deep in thought. Though if the cardinals insist and it is the True Ones wishes, who am I to fight the will of the church? Or was that youll never get away with it, though of course word has not reached you that during that little jaunt around the Peripheries we arranged that zealots be ushered to Bethlehem. Even now our fleet is en route to give them a warm welcome.




Reaching for the hand of the Pope, Jordan gently kissed the ornate ring, an heirloom dating back hundreds of years to Earth and the ancient religions of old. Then he removed it and slipped it onto his own finger.

Dont worry, your holiness, I will take good care of it. He admired the ring, holding it up to the light, I think it suits me. Pope Roswell has a certain ring to it.

As the Popes hand slid to the ground he rolled slightly forward and blood drained from his mouth. With his last breath he uttered, A curse upon the house of Roswell and all that follow you.


Footnote
Jordan Roswells stint at Pope lasted less than a year before his untimely retirement from the office. While official documents are sealed by the Brotherhood and will probably remain so indefinitely, there was significant speculation as to why his resignation was delivered in writing and without a farewell mass. Rumours of his appetites, started soon after ascension to the Papacy have only grown more extreme in his absence. That he apparently gave everything up for seclusion and contemplation in a secret monastery deep in the Inner Confederacy is held be few to be credible.

His legacy however still holds one Confederacy uniting church and state throughout the Peripheries.




 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Return of the LiQuans

A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


 
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Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


 
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Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?


 
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Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 

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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