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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.




 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

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

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

The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

”Necessity hath no law”

Lord Cromwell of the DOM slapped a fleet of privateers, on charges of "knavery", "bad manners" and "poor sportsmanship." Such offences carry the death sentence in the Dominion, a nebulous territory neither part of the Empire nor apart from it. At least thirteen Armadillo class ships, typically sold by the DOM, were destroyed at a location Cromwell was unwilling to disclose publicly. Bloodthirsty Dewiek as well as "prince of peace" Yahn Wodenzoon were quick to congratulate the DOM for their merciless carnage. It seems the consensus in the galaxy’s ruling class is that not presenting valid identification is a crime worthy of the murder of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unfortunate crewmen. This is all just another indicator that the political elite are far removed from the lives of ordinary people who are seen as little more than meat inventory. It is telling so-called “man of the people and the downtrodden” Wodenzoon so readily aligns himself with this grisly concord. Meanwhile, the archaic elocutionist Cromwell further establishes the recent trend of mild exertions of power by the cold-blooded DOM.


 
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Return of the Fox

The galaxy is still digesting news of the return of Xavier Fox to the boardroom of the GTT. The ailing corporation's share price began a sharp rally after a six month downward spiral under Ike Krieger, credited with being the worst CEO in the megacorporation's history. The only surviving board member from Fox's initial tenure as CEO, and perhaps across the entire GTT board, is Antt Tilton the Research Director. The reclusive Tilton is the brains behind the ascension of GTT technology, particularly in the field of antimatter weapons and super-heavy dreadnought size ships, Tilton offers a small measure of continuity during this tumultuous time. Mr. Fox has therefore resorted to a broad appeal for new blood to join the ailing firm. So far, the result has been a number of two-dimensional "Yes" persons being promoted to the C-suite. Still, key stakeholders were upbeat with one commenting, "Fox is the man to turn this bloody disaster around. He knows how to put a great team together and where to bury the bodies of the non-performers."


 
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******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the new version of ESNN (formally CSNN), giving the news and views from the former CSNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
 

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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).
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