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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 can't I? Surely you can't prefer Your Holiness or what was it your cardinals called you? Pius XVI?. I don't 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, I'll be damned, you do, don't 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.

'What's that your holiness, me, accept the role of Pope after you? No, I couldn't, 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 One's wishes, who am I to fight the will of the church? Or was that 'you'll 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.

'Don't 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 Pope's 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 Roswell's 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.




 
News
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  Star Date: 221.22.5

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RAGNAROK BECKONS

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Assault on End Game

The ancient Architects have declared war on the Dewiek Elder Nation. The first sign of the conflict was subspace transmissions in a remote system in the Pocket Periphery. This followed reports that the ancient Ragnarok shipyards on Beacon were malfunctioning. In response, the Wolf Mother sent urgent orders to several Dewiek scout ships to patrol the End Game system.

The Konungr Smidamadr was the first to encounter the gigantic, “Planet Killer” class ARC ships. Measuring in at thirty-two hundred heavy hulls and armed with a hundred ARC plasma weapons, the ship was more like a mobile armed platform. It is certainly the largest vessel ever recorded. The scout ship was vaporised instantly.

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ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships

 
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  Star Date: 221.11.4

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Caste Apart

The Flagritz Republic is (very nearly) no more. In its place, a single Hexamon and Flagritz power has arisen. The new Collective has absorbed much of the Flagritz holdings with only a handful of Clique-caste Flagritz systems choosing instead to align with the other Elder species, the Dewiek.

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Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?

 
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  Star Date: 221.3.3

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Meklanmania

Meklan scout ships continue to be seen around the Orion Spur periphery. These cyborg creatures in service of hidden ancient masters appear to be terrorising the Wimble Nation in particular. Despite public lamentations against the hardship of defending themselves, the Wimble leadership have not yet responded to our request for comment.

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Artist's impression of a Meklanised Wimble

However, Xavier Fox, CEO of Galactic Transport and Trade, did give us the following statement:

“We have engaged several Meklan ships, although currently the source has not been identified. GTT Directors have been running patrols and have engaged and destroyed numerous ships that have attacked outlying outposts belonging to different affiliations. The pattern of ships encountered leads us to believe there is a central source, but until that is found we would suggest any affiliation with assets in the area provide adequate defences.”

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Doomsday On Pause

At the site of the Thete anomaly, the Dewiek Nation has sent media sensation Sharon Aleman to the scene. Aleman, whose cybernetic enhancements allow her to directly interface with her ship’s sensor array, led her hardened crew into a dive of the outermost “edge” of the anomaly. After spending several days collecting and analysing data (mere minutes to the rest of us outside the anomaly), Aleman reported her shocking discoveries.

 
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  Star Date: 220.50.5

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Veil Lifted on Flagritz Home Space

As the Hellcadium ISR field continues to fluctuate, one of the newly exposed systems is Junista inside the previously hidden and inaccessible home periphery of the Flagritz Republic.

Over the past few weeks Flagritz Republic patrols and platforms have dealt with a number of scout ships from the Human Empire as the IMP wasted no time in exploiting this opportunity to poke around in their old enemy’s backyard. It is understood that at least one of these unarmed scouts was destroyed with no one willing to estimate how many more might be buzzing around.

Coincidentally, suspected IMP lackey, SSL TOAD, has also been overheard showing an obsessive interest in the Flagritz periphery. However, we have received no reports of this being anything other than his usual drug-fueled, barely decipherable mutterings at this stage.

Either way, this sudden, uninvited interest in the Flagritz Periphery has left the FLZ leadership muttering darkly about appropriate measures being taken. Defensive fleets and supporting structures are being deployed in the Junista system and beyond in expectation of further uninvited guests.

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When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...

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Thete's Timey-Wimey Tease

Investigation into the Thete anomaly continued in the Dewiek Pocket Periphery. The anomaly was scanned from all angles by a number of the Dewiek Nation’s best sensor ships and officers. The data, collected over several weeks, was sent to one of the DEN’s most advanced scientific laboratories for analysis.

What they found will shock you!

 
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  Star Date: 220.45.1

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Perfidion Reached

Long speculated by theoretical Stellar Cartographers, Perfidion Reach finally opened in the last few weeks. Immediately, the Detinus Republic boldly staked a claim on the first accessible system, Hellcadium. Only time will tell the true value of this strategic move but their much-taunted bureaucracy may have finally proved its worth.

Early reports from scans of the system reveal a wildly fluctuating ISR field. Rumours suggest that at least one ship was destroyed as it was forced into an asteroid belt chasing a stable jump field attempting to exit the system. Casual travellers are warned away from the system at this time for their own safety. Leave it to skilled explorers and navigation officers.

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Mathematical model of Hellcadium ISR Field.

We spoke to Captain Zakiyah Ummahi via subspace link. Zakiyah led the first DEN expedition into the Perfidion Reach. "Spirits remain high but this is largely down to the extended R&R we were all forced to take immediately prior to jumping into this hole. Initial scouting reports show at least one planet with plenty of forests and grasslands which might help if we're going to be stuck here for Folkvar knows how long waiting for this damned ISR field to stabilise."

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Valhalla Stargate Reopens

Dewiek engineers and scientists have finally managed to re-enable Stargate Valgrind this week and the protective Exclusion Zone is to be lifted. If DEN investigators discovered who caused the gate to malfunction, or why, they were not willing to share it with us. Military sources, however, have announced a project to provide a significant boost to the already formidable defence platform in the stargate’s orbit.

 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***

Empire - DEN action grinds to a halt

After months of tension relations between the Empire and the Dewiek Nation, which rose to several large scale fleet actions ending in the DEN losing over 60 Direwolf warships in Solo, things appear to have moved from antagonistic to unfriendly. With the Solo system being a particular issue an agreement has been reached between the Wolf Mother of the DEN and Xavier Fox of the GTT. Since this things have become very quiet, not just because the shooting has stopped, but also because my reporters have been on their summer holidays.
 
News For Discerning Naplians!
---- Special Galactic Edition ----



(The Host sits at his desk as the studio lights dim, and a single spotlight bathes him in light. He looks straight into the camera and begins to speak: )

Host: Naambta!
Good Greetings, and welcome to the show.

This is News for Discerning Naplians, and i’m sure you are all showing much impatience to see this week’s Panel Discussion. We will be discussing religion with the Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon, renowned neo-naplian spiritualist Chairman TonTon, and a very special guest from our imperial neighbours, Bishop Samantha Porteus of the Brotherhood. But before we get to that...

(Looks demonstratively at his digital wrist watch. )

... it is time for a word from our sponsor.
 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe from our new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***
  • DEN assault FEL base and get wiped out
  • CIA Trade fleet caught and destroyed by the DEN
  • Krell denounce worship of the True One

  •  
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Huge fleet skirmish at the London/Crossley wormhole

    A large fleet of over 700 DEN warships responded to the EMP action in Crossley, where a 4000 hull DEN platform was destroyed. Reports show the DEN ships caught a group of CIA ships napping and inflicted significant losses on the humans. IMP and GTT fleets moved to assist the CIA, matching DEN fleet numbers, but the arrival of over 1200 Hexamon ships seems to have tipped the battle in favour of the DEN-HEX alliance.

    The combined DEN-HEX force pushed through the wormhole into the Heartland area of human space and retaliated, attacking several CIA platforms in response. The outnumbered Empire fleets abandoned the area and fled, they are currently waiting for the larger alien force to make their next move from their hiding places.
     

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