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The Baron

The Baron


He looked across the void to judge the trajectory before launching himself out from the airlock. His aim was perfect, not that he had doubts it would be anything else. Doubt was not a concept the Baron was familiar with. While the scale on the helmet hud indicated the size of the alien vessel it was only as he drifted closer that the full magnitude of it registered. Refusing to be awed by such a thing he imagined the living vessel breaking wind. By the time he passed into the shadow of the alien ship he was laughing uncontrollably and holding his stomach, threatening his perfect transition.

Back on the bridge the sensor officer looked up from the display.
‘He’s aboard sir, now what?’
‘We have orders to wait’
‘Sir, the ship, it’s firing its engines. The Baron has not returned.’
‘Damn, I warned him, I bloody well warned him. Defence report!’
‘Our weapons won’t even scratch it.’
‘Stand down,’ and quietly to himself, ’I hope you know what you are doing.’


Later, looking years older though only a few hours had passed the captain sat back in his private quarters. A large bottle of expensive spirit stood unopened. The baron had promised to share it, convinced that a short dialogue with the alien vessel would be tantamount to his crowning glory. He laughed at the comment, clearly entertained by his own cleverness though he declined enlighten the captain. Baron, a title he still called himself by habit, as he had been titled prince for a few years. He would say that prince is good for the table but for skulduggery baron is much better suited.

He had served the baron for decades and knew well his reckless streak. He led a charmed life, favoured by the True One, some would say, including the baron himself, at least in public circles. In private his views on the True One and those that served was anything but reverent. Despite this seeming whimsy the baron was always pushing in a single direction – power. He recalled schooling the lad at a young age in politics. How the child had become quiet for the first time in lessons following the revelation that his father, the most powerful man on the planet was in fact just one of many governors and a governor of a world distant from the centre of the Empire and probably unknown to the vast morass of humanity. Within a day the baron had changed subtly. He remained seemingly carefree but underneath the first flames of ambition took hold. He would question at length the historical line of the Emperor, the alliances between the various noble houses and governors of the newly founded colonies beyond Earth. By the age of twenty he had spent a year at the Imperial palace though from all accounts he left disgraced. While the nature of the disgrace is unknown, it is in all likelihood that the rebellion of the Tate and Detinus along with disintegrating relations between outer worlds and those closest to Earth played a big part. From Earth he toured the other outer colonies where he spent a fortune of his father’s money though in truth all was investment for the future and the coming civil war.

It seemed like only a few days ago, though it was decades, at the other end of the galaxy. It was the closest he ever came to leaving the baron. The robed priests had just left having finalised a secret treaty to build a warfleet to challenge the Emperor.

‘But why Samuel, he’s a raving nutter?’
‘Sparta. It should have been mine. Jasil has awarded the contract to one of his mega-corps.’
‘If you side with Jasil, Samuel cannot possibly win and the Emperor will reward you.’
‘Really, and you was the one lecturing me on politics only a few years ago. No. I side with Jasil, Samuel and the other outer worlds are easily defeated, then despite the fact that they needed my ships to win the war, do you honestly think they will overlook that they were made illegally? I side with Jasil and I will have my shipyards torn down and ships confiscated. I am sure that they will flower it up. No need for a second shipyard, better that the ships were in the Imperial Service and we don’t want to risk and Tate. They may even save themselves compensation and simply arrest me.’
‘You risk the lives of millions for your own ambition.’
‘Yes, who more deserving?’



What the baron was not prepared for was the squandering of his superior ships ‘in the name of the True One.’ Trust in the True One but choose which battles to fight. He may not be on the side of the Imperials but it’s pretty certain that he also no time for idiots.

Still, the subsequent defeat and exodus brought the Baron a lengthy period of peace as his power put him equal to the titled High Lord Samuel in all but name.
With the discovery of a new route to the Empire, the smouldering coal of ambition once again began to flame and the Baron returned to active politics. His goals were simple, regain his ancestral home and tie his family to that of the Emperor.

Within a few short years he had achieved all this, claiming under his dominion not only his own ancestral worlds but those of the other nobles, dispossessed during the rebellion.

For all intentional purposes he should have been content in his twilight years. Born a glorified farmer on a backwater world, he had risen to become a prince and trusted advisor to Emperor Lysander. Why then did he infect his own body with nanites created by an alien species and what was his purpose for venturing aboard the sentient alien ship?

The captain’s thoughts returned to the present. What was the baron offering them and what did he want in return? The words ‘crowning glory’ returned to haunt him. He slowly leaned across the table, reaching for the bottle, though not to celebrate.

‘My baron, what have you done?’




 
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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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***** Inter Galactic News *****

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

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

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

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

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

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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***** 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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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