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?
|******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 and most reliable unbiased publication in the known universe from our home in the Heartland,
And so with the news from the last couple of weeks,
Cluster War! DNA Gather Fruit
|******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 home in the Heartland,
And so with the news from the last few weeks,
Cluster War! MZC attacks DNA
*** Inter Galactic News ***
The Dewiek rise again!
After the death and destruction wrought upon the Dewiek Nation by the Architects, there was a period of calm if you were a werewolf fancier. But now the Dewiek have risen to once more in the name of the Dewiek Packs, led by Skarn. Their new message being one of peace, a most unusual change for the large humanoid wolves. While they rise from the ashes of the Mizuchi Combine the Galaxy waits to see how this new affiliation acts, baring in mind the Dewiek have something of reputation.
Empire invade the Cluster!
A significant force of GTT warships recently entered the Cluster, somewhere they have not seen the need to go for a very long time. At the same time the CIA banned the Dewiek Packs from it’s space and also sent a large number of warships into the Cluster to bolster the GTT’s presence. After this show of force the Crossley system, known for it’s wormhole connecting from the Cluster to CIA space shifted to be claimed by the GTT. Currently the Empire has over 200,000 troops and 2000 warships roaming the nearby systems. Inhabitants of the Cluster are waiting to see if there are any further developments. GTT CEO Xavier Fox when asked by our office dismissed it as a “Training exercise”.
The Krell Clan Dark Angels has been selling off bases, outposts and even systems lately. It is unknown why they have decided to cash in their assets and territories, but it points to the accumulation of significant wealth by the Krell clan. If you have any spare cash and want to expand your assets then it seems to our office that the best place to go is the Dark Angel Clan and ask what will be going up for sale next, assuming they actually have anything left.
*** Affiliations ***
AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
BLG Bolg Organisation (22) - Akhenaten
BHD Brotherhood (63) - de Molay
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) - <unknown>
DWK Dewiek Packs (19) - Skarn
FCN Falconian Republic (70) – Bacran *
FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
HEX Hexamon (23) - <unknown>
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
NHS Noble Houses (41) – Roy Roberts
NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz
* Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
** Only known contact, please update us if this is incorrect.
NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS
Inactive: ANT, COD, DOM, HVE, IDC, IMP, RIP, RCF, SKW, TAG
*** Submissions ***
By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
|GTT step forward to control protection and peace in the Stellar Empire.
With the retirement of Jack Johns and various lower-level IMP officers from public life, the Imperial Services were left on the verge of being unable to fill their role as protectors of the Stellar Empire. Due to the serious nature the Imperial Services found itself in, the Emperor recently travelled to GTT HQ to attend a board meeting with the directors of the GTT.
With Galactic Trade and Transport being one of the few remaining loyal Imperial Chartered affiliations, who also supply well over half of the war material to the Imperial Services, the Emperor sought the position of the GTT with regard to the Imperial Services becoming overburdened with bureaucracy and lacking effective leadership. Effectively the Imperial Services were at the point of collapse. A position highlighted when an opportunistic supposed ally subverted four Imperial Outposts in the Inner Empire, thinking their asset grabbing would go unnoticed.
Star Date: 221.30.5
A Forlorn Hope
The seat of Dewiek Government has fallen. What began as a small group of Architect ships picking up retreating DEN forces, amalgamated into a much larger force. The bombardment fleet comprised dozens of Adult ARC ships plus several Planet Killers. The force made short work of the impressive fortifications of the planetary orbit of Newstart. Multiple heavily armoured and maximised deflector shield platforms crumbled. They did so only after releasing their volleys of antimatter and nova weapon batteries. Any DEN warships that remained from earlier encounters also stood the line. But within the week, the last defence was gone.
Bombardment of Wolf Lair starbase proceeded without further resistance from the Dewiek. ARC Plasmas ripped through starbase shields. They demolished tens of thousands of factories and research facilities. The ARC demolished the huge military recruitment and training facilities on the planet. Over half a million trained troops evacuated from deep bunkers, leaving a token ground defence.
The ARC were not satisfied to burn the facilities and murder the workers. They deployed repeated salvos of their Virus Bombs on the wider population. Reports began to arrive of civilians of the world regressing. Leaving settlements and returning to nature. Much as the Dewiek found themselves some decades ago when they started to recover from the First Great ARC-DEN War. This time there was no High Lord Magnus willing to obliterate the world to save a remnant of the people. Newstart was already lost.
Newstart is lost
Star Date: 221.27.2
End Game Lost
A short-lived period of peace followed the Dewiek Elder Nation’s historic and Saga-worthy defence against the Architect Planet Killers. A handful of the more typically encountered ARC ships were spotted picking off DEN support ships in Forlorn Hope before more than forty of them appeared back in End Game.
While the ARC “Adult” class ships, as the DEN had previously classified them, were eight times smaller than the “Planet Killers”, they were still as big as the largest ships any other species has managed to produce. Including the otherwise technologically advanced Dewiek.
Forty-four of these Plasma armed organic vessels smashed through the DEN forces left circling the orbit of Beacon, End Game. The mass of ARC weapons bombarded the DEN Shipyards at Ragnorak with their superheated ionized gas, razing the entire outpost to the ground.
ARC Plasma weapons devastate End Game
Star Date: 221.22.5
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.
ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships
Star Date: 221.11.4
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.
Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?
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!