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The Dominion

The Dominion

Vehrenberg 157
If the admiral was feeling any emotion it did not show on his face as he stared down on the assembled crowd from the palace. That he, saviour of the Empire, the most highly decorated admiral in history should be here on a glorified farm world on the fringes of the Empire was unprecedented. The crowd were carrying royal flags and bunting had been hastily strung between the buildings around the square. Many of those present had been here for hours waiting for a glimpse of the great man himself. They had amused themselves by standing next to the honour guards while photographs and vids were taken until the admiral stepped out onto the balcony of the governor’s ‘palace’ that fronted the square.

Once silence had descended he addressed the crowd.
‘Rumours of sedition have reached the throne. I have conducted an investigation and found evidence of treason. We have taken into custody those responsible, their families and associates.
‘Nine are to be executed immediately, the rest will be returned to Earth to serve their sentence.’
Members of the crowd looked at each other in confusion. Sedition? Who? They were expecting accolades as to the growth of the colony and praise for the products sent regularly to ever hungry mouths of Earth.


The marines previously standing to attention as one changed to a distinctly more aggressive stance. These were the Emperor’s elite, the force responsible for breaking Tate sixteen years ago and in the intervening period they had maintained both their discipline and ruthlessness. It was rumoured that they even submitted to modern training techniques that physically rewrote their cerebral synapses. They were utterly loyal and fearless.
The doors to the palace below the balcony opened and a small squad of local troops emerged, surrounding Baron Vehrenberg, governor of the world. By comparison to the elite, these soldiers looked unprofessional as they shuffled forwards. They also looked pale and unsteady on their feet as though they had just been given news of being sent to the front line. The Baron himself was ashen faced, clearly desiring to be anywhere else.

They formed up on the steps between the crowd and the palace and waited, though not for long as the sound of many boots marching in perfect unison approaching from around the side of the palace.

The crowd pressed forward for a better view and were rewarded with the scene of a column of manacled people surrounded by more of the elite. The troops drove the prisoners through the now narrow gap between the crowd and governor and his squad, to line them against the wall extending from the far side of the mansion. Shock, almost palpable ran through the onlookers as many recognized people amongst the manacled. They were relatively influential on this small world. They appeared regularly in the media. Eyes turned to the admiral, questioning.

‘You see before you the instigators of rebellion. For these the most severe punishment will be meted out. Carry on governor.’
With that the sweating and miserable governor ordered his squad to form up opposite the prisoners and present arms. Silence filled the square, the crowd in a state of denial.
‘Fire.’
The single word and the accompanying cacophony of a dozen weapons discharging brought reality crashing in and screaming ensued. People attempted to flee the scene though were pulled up sharp by the presence of the elite. Pressure from those at the pack pushed the front of the crowd forward towards the elite. A series of single shots put down those closest to the elite, stopping the crowd in its tracks. The weapons though were only stunners and those downed soon stirred.

The admiral further addressed the crowd, his message also hitting the communications media and spreading across the world, though by that point it was too late. Many more had been taken into custody while the crowd had waited.

Three days later there had been more than six thousand arrests. Those charged had been delivered to the ships now in orbit awaiting transport to Earth to face the charges. Admiral Secudus from the bridge of the pocket battleship Mercy gave orders.
‘We will rendezvous with the others at the edge of the system.’
‘Yes, admiral,’ responded his captain.

Still a few light seconds from the rendezvous the sensors went wild and small new stars blossomed into the life. Nuclear detonations.
‘Sir, report coming though, they have lost seven escorts and report more than thirty enemies of unknown origin. They rest are heading our way.’
‘Unknown? No this has the Baron’s stink about it. I knew the bastard LiQuan had a secret shipyard. We are in no way prepared for this. So he looks to play cavalry does he? How long till we can jump, captain?’
‘For some of the transports three days though we could leave tomorrow, we cannot however outrun them or outshoot them. I doubt we will make it to Vehrenberg not that we would get any succour there.’
‘I agree, the two barons are in it up to their bloody necks.’

The admiral turned to the nearest console and punched in his own security code unlocking heavily encrypted data. The main navigation monitor suddenly included a pulsing red object no more than a few hours away at their current velocity. It was no coincidence that the rendezvous point was here, the admiral wanted to see the anomaly for himself before returning to Earth.
‘What is it?’ asked the captain.
‘We have been investigating the anomaly for some time. It is the reason this system has become strategically important. It’s a wormhole, stable enough to allow a ship to pass through to a region of space more than eighty light years away.’
‘What? I thought those things were science fiction or lab experiments.’
‘Plot a course to engage with the vectors indicated then transmit it to the fleet.’

The escorts covered the retreat of the ships to the wormhole, preventing the transports being boarded though taking severe damage. From Baron LiQuan’s perspective onboard his command ship Excommunication, this looked very much like shooting fish in a barrel and merely a matter of time before the last of the escorts fell. Then it would be a simple matter to capture the transports and nobody would ever know what happened. Confident in his master plan he left the bridge, taking with him one of the crew to deal with some clerical work.
Almost moments later the Excommunication’s sensor officer alerted the captain to an anomaly and after a short conference in which the implications of the anomaly were realised the Baron himself was interrupted in his private suite.

‘Balls man,’ shouted the Baron turning to the monitor and pushing back the head of the young female crewmember before adjusting his trousers, ‘I am in the middle of something. Can’t I leave you to handle a few escorts and a pocket battleship?’
‘Lord, there is a problem,’ this latest in flagranti was nothing new to the captain and beyond averting his eyes from the view screen continued. ‘They appear to be heading for some sort of rift in space we didn’t know about. We will not be able to deal with the escorts before the majority of the transports have entered it.’
‘Well bloody nuke that damned rift thing whatever it is. I will be on deck in five, no make it ten. Not even you can screw it up in that time.’
‘But Lord, we don’t know what that will do, we don’t know anything about…’ but the communication was cut.

A few transports entered the wormhole before the first nuclear salvo directed against the rift detonated. They provoked little more than the ejection of a stream of exotic particles. More escorts fell but so too were more transports escaping despite the explosions.
The last of the transports pushed into the event horizon of the rift along with the escorts and the now badly limping pocket battleship as the Baron entered the bridge. A moment’s glance at the tactical display was enough to give him all the information he needed.
‘Didn’t I tell you to nuke that bloody thing? You are letting them all escape! ‘
‘But Lord, the nuclear missiles do not enter the rift; they do not cross the event horizon. At best we have been able to detonate them in close proximity.’
‘The True One may hate the Empire but he also despises idiots, send one of your ships in and launch when inside.’
‘What happens if it closes and we lose transports?’
‘If you care to notice we have already lost them. We don’t know where it leads and what’s on the other side. There could be an imperial fleet waiting for us. This whole thing stinks of a trap.’



Seconds after the pocket battleship crossed the boundary the interceptor class starship captained by one of Samuel’s most experienced fanatics followed. Moments later the ships were bombarded by heavy radiation. The blast lasted less than a second but afterwards the rift was little more than a distorted star field like looking at its reflection in a pond with ripples.

As the weeks passed news that Admiral Secudus and his fleet were missing started to filter out across the Empire. Rumours and speculation ran rife though a full investigation on Vehrenberg confirmed that Baron Vehrenberg had carried out the execution and that the Admiral had left in accordance with his mission. The loss of the admiral emboldened those that were wavering in their support of Samuel and may well have been instrumental in the transition to open rebellion in 158.

As to the fate of Admiral Secudus and his small fleet of transports and their cargo of prisoners, they were never heard of again. That said 50 years later when the Empire reached the Cluster they encountered humans who according to their own history have been in the Cluster for hundreds of years and had a society based on a two class martial social structure. How could humans have arrived in the Cluster hundreds of years before jump drives were invented? They seemed somewhat fuzzy about their own history beyond a generally accepted story that they were a fleet of prison ships on their way to a penal colony. Of the fate of Admiral Secudus, nothing is known for certain. Nobody knows for certain what happened but speculation is that the internal nuclear detonation presumably caused the opening of the wormhole to be flung across both time and space.





Mumble-grumble  [Recruit]

The Dominion has always been a thorn in my side. They were a legacy of a previous Game Master who cared little about consistent back story. The key elements were that they arrived in the Cluster up to 500 years ago (though the bulk appear to only have been there around eighty years) and that they were a fleet of prison ships on their way to a penal colony, later changed to colonists that suffered a misjump. In the history of the game these stories made any sense. It was before the formation of the Empire and in fact before humanity had even discovered Pulac and actually reached another star system. So the whole thing would have had to have been set in the Sol system.

My first draft involved sending off a fleet of prisoners as pioneers in sub-light cryo-ships – a bit like using Russian prisoners to build St. Petersburg before the nobility arrived. This however did not sit well and I returned to the concept of time travel as their origin.

Even if time-travelling wormholes were included, bringing the time period for their creation forward, why would a bunch of ships with prisoners decide to enter a wormhole or even be anywhere near a wormhole? And anyway, where did these prisoners come from and where was this penal world?

So, with these basic questions I worked their history to be consistent with the history of the Empire. As for the destination penal world – this could have been Mars or Venus which at the time were being terraformed and would easily have served as such for an interim period. I am sure that the transport crew would have explained to the prisoners were they were destined once they had been chewed up on Earth.

The detonations around the wormhole causing the other end to swing through time thereby bleeding the fleet’s arrival across centuries rather than as a single event also solved quite a few of the anachronistic oddities regarding the Dominion’s involvement in the dewiek wars against the Architects.

Finally, by having the whole time-travelling feature as part of a major instability and detonation during mid-passage through the wormhole (it taking 100TU’s to pass through the wormhole, allowing for the final detonation to occur while all the ships were still within the wormhole but at differing ‘distances’ along it) means that attempting to replicate the procedure in-game is at best pointlessly suicidal. I subscribe to the fixed-timeline, insofar as things are as they are because things were as they were. Something in the past cannot be changed though our perception of it may alter as we determine more about it, so you can kill your grandfather before he conceived your father, all you have proved is that he was not your grandfather. There is no pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. If something didn't happen, it didn't happen. I always liked Time Riders (1992, Iron Crown Enterprises).

 
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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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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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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