Death of Diaz
It was evening, but still in the high thirties outside and cash, like the cheap spirits in my glass had long since evaporated. It was stifling and damp, though opening the window would bring no relief. The lights were off along with the cooler. I had been disconnected, literally. Somebody had got wise to my blackmarket override code and removed the coupling. I was weighing up my options not liking any of them when she walked in.
'So, youre in, maybe you should leave a light on or something.'
My shoes, parked on the table had hid her entrance while the whirring of my thoughts had drowned out the noise of the door opening. Her voice was soft with a slight lilt that would be worth waking up to, well, just a couple of times anyway. I moved my feet, returning the chair to as close to the upright position as it would go and tried to pierce the Stygian gloom to the speaker. If she was half as good as her silhouette I was in trouble.
She took two languid steps forward and leaned down a little to place both hands on my desk, staring long and cool in the eyes. My mind told my eyes to meet hers, they however had their own agenda.
'What do you know about Diaz?' she asked, not blinking and defying me to.
'Only that she retired from public service some time back and that she died a few days ago after an illness.' Diaz, her interest in heels aside the dame had been healthy, some would say vigorous, personally I don't listen to gossip unless it is relevant to the case.
'You buy the stories it was some form of rare alien virus?'
'That depends who's selling.'
'Fifty a week with three hundred expenses says you find out.'
'Sounds above my pay grade sweets. Tell me, if the pols aren't interested, what's it to you? Have a lot of shares in footwear?' Yeah, I knew baiting her could cost me a packet, but something didn't add up.
'Take a week to think about it and poke around.' With that she left, casually dropping a dime chip on the desk. I waited, drinking in the view; all the way down to her heels. Trouble.
It was sometime before I picked up the chip. A hundred was indicated on the reader. That would go a long way to getting me ahead for once. I was already at the door, my body having decided before my head had finished the debate.
It was a busy few days putting feelers out. Word got around that I was on a case so the monkeys were paying their respects, I was just paying. I still had enough to put some sharp lines on my body. If I was going to be brushing shoulders with the movers and shakers I had to scrub up with a new suit. First though, there was a captain just heading out that wanted a quick word about his recent trip to Straddle. Yeah, I had to look it up. Some backwater system. Seems the imperials and republic have been having a punch-up over it. Started in the time Diaz was calling the shots.
I was being tailed on the way to the dock. I had picked him up at the starport gates. The fashion was right, though the stooge was working it too hard. He clocked me and backed off. Time to have a chat. That's when it hit me, the right hook to the gut. Suckered by the old obvious distraction. While I was still reeling a second splintered my sight and I was looking up at a squat face. The guy must have been a gravity junkie. What they lose in height they more than make up for in power. A stubby finger was pointed down at me. 'Stay of the Diaz case, else!'
When I finally had reopened my eyes he was gone. Starport security, never around when you're getting the stuffing knocked out of you but try dripping blood across the concourse as you stagger to the conveniences. Bastards.
By the time security was finished with me my contact was off-world. A dead end. I decided to hit my local. After covering my tab and being hustled into covering the leaner times ahead I worked through what I knew. Those in authority were officially mourning the passing of the great lady. Some cutie was hiring a low-life, yours truly, to poke around and somebody really didn't want me talking to the captain. I took this to mean that she wanted somebody below the political arena, somebody not already on a payroll. I also suspected that she was simply a pawn of a bigger fish, somebody that wanted the truth exposed without the light shining on them at the same time.
I ghosted the scenes for the next couple of nights, looking the part without standing out. Diaz cropped up a few times in conversation, though it was clear that those talking about her were definitely not in the know. Sometimes it's what people don't say that you have to pay close attention to.
It took all my powers of persuasion and a large chunk of the expenses to dig out the name of the doctor who treated Diaz at the end. What was the connection between Diaz, a university toxicologist and a captain from Straddle?
I was told under no uncertain terms to leave the university campus before I even made it to reception. Attempts to reach the Dr were in vain. The guy was being shielded and I was at the end of the first week. I left, returned to the office and climbed into a bottle of the hard stuff.
My office had been given the once over. I also suspected that my data-vault had been mined. I only ever keep the old stuff there. Figure someday I will write my memoirs. The good stuff I commit to memory. Good ol' fashioned organic, nothing cyber. Paint me paranoid but I have seen how soldiers react as though somebody is pushing their buttons.
A few hours later I dropped the empty bottle into the basket. That's when I saw it. The office may have been turned over but nobody thought to look in the trash. Amateurs or maybe they thought I was in the habit of chucking away cash chips. Clearly they didn't know me very well.
The dame had been round, it had her scent, something I had not noticed first time, distracted as I was by her eyes, at least that's what I intended to write in my memoirs. I slotted it. More money but also schedule for a doctor, a schedule that put him attending a private seminar outside the university.
My cover as waste disposal maintenance was flimsy though security at the seminar was poor. I had also taken the time to openly fail to get into the university before going to the bar. This allowed me to shake off the tails I had once again picked up. I was ignoring them while watching out for hammer hands just to be on the safe side.
The seminar was dull. Yeah, so a lot of planets mean a lot of life and by extension, a lot of poisons. So some guy has spent a lifetime looking at them. While most are simple chemicals that wreck biology and are obvious, some have evolved for native fauna and are mostly harmless against non-native biology. That was it. I waited for questions and was awarded my opportunity.
'You say evolved poisons are mostly harmless against non-native species? Can you give an example where this isn't the case?'
'In most cases the toxin is an enzyme. Normally they are denatured when removed from their natural environment or do not have the correct active site to bind with non-native biochemistry such as cell walls. That said there was a case I dealt with recently in which an enzyme was biologically close to human enzymes. It caused the breakdown of neural cells resulting in dementia then brain death. It took weeks to take effect, though I only dealt with the post mortem toxicology report.'
'Was this from Straddle?'
He started to nod, paused then looked at me more closely before turning to somebody out of sight. I had the information I needed and was out of there as fast as I could.
Poisoned from a toxin that came from a world that was being fought over with the imperials. That was what they didn't want me finding out. This just left two questions. Who poisoned Diaz but more importantly, at least to my mind, who was hiring me? Either way the outlook was pretty grim. From the sounds of it, Diaz had been poisoned while still in office. Was this the real reason she stepped down. Was the House of Lords covering-up that their best security was not good enough to protect the Speaker from the imperials or was there a conspiracy to replace her? If they latter, then who was leading it?
Star Date: 221.3.3
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.
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.”
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.
Star Date: 220.50.5
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.
When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...
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!
Star Date: 220.45.1
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.
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."
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.
*** 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: )
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) ******
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,
*** 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
***** 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.
***** Inter Galactic News *****
Admiral Lord Simms killed after a long and distinguished service to the Empire.
The Imperial Services have intercepted and serious damaged several DEN ships on the way to the Empire’s home systems. Unfortunately during the action Admiral Lord Simms was injured and reports from the Viceroy indicate he has passed away, fighting the enemies of the Empire like any true Imperial Officer.
The Viceroy has stated that the officers and crew of the DEN ships have been captured and are now awaiting trial at a secret IMP base.
DEN continue to strike at the Empire
Reports are coming in of multiple engagements between the Empire and the Dewiek Elder Nation over the last week. With several battles taking out Empire ships in the Heartland of the CIA.
AFT turn to piracy
The Association of Free Traders have, after a long history of neutrality, turned to piracy this week. AFT Drake boarded an IND ship in the Halo periphery, killing several of the crew in the process.
Independent trader Jarlebanke Langhofdi immediately took to the public communication channel demanding an answer to why supposedly peaceful traders had killed his crew and taken his ship.
The AFT remain silent over the attack.
***** Inter Galactic News *****
Combat Special Edition
Since the DEN started shooting at those lovable FEL fluffballs things have certainly been heating up. So we through it would be prudent to bring you, gentle beings of the peripheries, a special edition in order to keep you updated with all the latest action in regards to who the DEN are shooting and who is shooting them.
Felini strike back at Dewiek
Reports have come in of the FEL striking back at the DEN in the Kallisan system. A huge FEL force supported by the IMP and CIA assaulted DEN positions taking both the platform and base called Lucien. There was much rejoicing in the FEL camp as the Felini proved they were not such lovable fluffballs after all!
GTT get sucked into the war
A passing fleet of GTT warships got caught in the fighting and this saw the GTT enter the war. When asked about this CEO Fox pointed out they are not warships at all, they are trade defence ships. So how they came to be in the DEN system of Kallisan is a mystery to us. But the GTT CEO was clear that they only engaged using support and defend orders to protect allies. Needless to say, the CEO commented “We found ourselves on the Dewiek Nation’s enemy lists pretty soon after.”
Dewiek Nation attacks GTT positions in Orion Spur, breaking DOM system rules
A fleet of DEN warships has engaged and destroyed a significant number of GTT cargo ships and escorts in the DOM system Monument. The GTT immediately took to the public channels to ask why the DOM were not doing something. In reply the DOM issued a statement to stop, which the DEN ignored.
The DEN newssheet "The HOWL" published a completely unbiased review of the attack shortly after.
DOM make a choice
After the above incident and then further raiding by the DEN, taking out a few GTT cargo ships in the DOM system of Coptuv, the DOM seemed to have been faced with a choice of stopping drinking their tea and doing something or just hoping it would go away. Instead they seem to have decided to abandon the whole idea of being an active affiliation and we have since folded. The lengths some people will go to not to have their elevenses disturbed is truly staggering. We asked the DOM for a statement on their new system rules to share with our readers but have received no replies.
DOM positions share out
Just as we were going to press news has come in of various DOM assets being given to other affiliations or sold. Hopefully we will have more on this story in the next issue of your favorite factual newsheet. Yes, that's us at the SSS.
*** Affiliations ***
AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - DNA people
DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - Urd
DOM Dominion (57) – we believe the DOM are now inactive
FCN Falconian Republic (70) - Bacran
FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
GRC Gracians (13) - HG1
GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
HEX Hexamon (23) - Ando
IMP Imperial Services (51) - Jack Jones
KRL Krell (30) - Namica
KRT Krell of the Reverence Temple (37) - Kal Torak
KST Kastor Kastorians (12) - Kastor
MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
MOH Mohache (73) - Listens
MIC Mohache Independent Commune (76) - Sleeps with Dragons
NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
RIP Regularly Involved in Piracy - Githyanki
RRH Roy Robert Holdings (39) - Roy Roberts
SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
USN Ulian Stellar Nation (34) - Oeipus Prime
WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz
* Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
** Affiliation has no leader but this is the only known contact
NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS
Inactive: ANT, BHD, COD, HVE, IDC, RIP, RCF, SKW, TAG
*** Submission ***
By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.