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214
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Fake II

Fake II

‘They want us to meet their queen!’ Jim announced.
Hook looked up from his console, scratching his head. They had now been doing this run for a few months. Land in the hive starport, move one of the cargo containers into the rotating airlock, swing it round, watch the beetles and things swap it for another and rotate it back in. A quick check on weight and a look-see to make sure it was filled with bars of precious metals or some rare earths as previously agreed and move onto the next container.

Rival captains in the megacorp were however getting a little nosey to say the least, wanting to know the source. At the moment it was money for nothing. Pre-packed food beyond its shelf life and a few sweeteners but if others found out and wanted a piece of the action things would quickly turn sour. And now their queen wanted to meet him. Maybe this was just the opportunity to secure an exclusive deal.


‘I don’t trust them, with their bug eyes,’ Jim continued. ‘ They look at us strangely like they want to eat us or something.’ He had been grumbling on like this for the past few weeks. He kept on banging on about how rich they had become and that they could retire or maybe even buy some ships and run a fleet from a nice garden world. Captains simply can’t be trusted. They always skimmed from the top. If the corp found out exactly how much they were raking in, there would be trouble. ‘I tell you sir,’ Jim had crewed for Hook for so long, he never used ‘sir’ unless he really wanted to make a point, ‘You go in there and you ain’t coming out.’ Hook looked up from his cataloguing, seeing how desperate Jim was.

‘Tell you what, this is the last run for you, you get your share and see about getting that nice mansion on Utopia. Hell, even get a few native servants. I hear they will do anything for a personnel communicator and last year’s fashion. When I buy the planet I will give you a tax break.’ Jim looked like he was going to argue further. ‘And look after the ship while I go chat up a queen.’ That seemed to do the trick and Jim sat back down.

Hook thought himself resplendent in his official Frontier Exploration and Trade uniform. It was getting a little tight around the middle, but then he had not worn it for at least five years and life had been good recently. Flanked by eight troops, a recent addition to the ship’s small crew complement he disembarked to be met by the hive representatives. It is said by those not in the know that all hive look alike. This is not quite true. Hive larvae all look the same but they are then fed different substances and when they emerge from the change they form one of the many castes. There are small ones that scuttle on the floor; there are spindly ones and bloated ones. There are larger ones with heavy claws and armour and ones with disproportionately large heads. No doubt there are many other castes that are never encountered in the starport. Within the caste there is also some variation in shades, scaring from previous injuries though even Hook having now dealt with them for some time was often at a loss of which of the various porters was which. That said the porters themselves never seemed to mind that he called them all Ant.

The buzzing was translated into ‘follow’ and soon Hook and his people were surrounding on all sides by the bulbous headed drones. This was not just to prevent them getting lost but to prevent them being walked over or ripped limb from limb by some of the hulking monsters that seemed to lurch out of the darkness only to be intercepted by a drone before retreating back to their alcoves. The perpetual twilight was unnerving and maybe Jim had a point, Hook conceded to himself.

They arrived at presumably the throne room. This was about as far from what he imagined as it was possible to get. Instead of lofty ceilings, bright stained glass windows illuminating a regal figure seated on a throne, itself elevated on dais, the room was little more than gloomy cavern with a vast organic coiled mass at one end. This resolved itself into heaving mass of small scuttling hive clambering over the swollen mass of the queen, herself about the size of a small shuttle. From a position perched somewhere behind her head clung one of the bulbous headed drones. It seemed to be grafted in place. Hook swallowed nervously.
The translators hissed.

‘Her sight turns outward as sustenance diminishes.’ Damn, thought Hook, they are looking to start doing their own hauling. Need to nip this in the bud. He stepped forward to reply but was dropped to the ground. It took a moment to register what had happened, then the pain hit as he looked down at the mangled mess of his leg.

His squad of men reacted predictably, reaching for weapons and moving to surround Hook. This was probably the worst thing they could have done. Through his agony and the feet of the surrounding troops, Hook got only a partial look as the events unfolded. First the queen was swarmed by the scuttling creatures, covering her in living armour. The bulbous headed drones dropped to the ground as the warrior hive stormed forwards. He saw at least three of the drones crushed underfoot, their heads exploding as they were trampled. Weapon fire then added alien warriors to the corpses.

It was over in seconds or more likely Hook had passed out. Blood, puss, shell, flesh and bones along with bits of cloth were scattered everywhere while one of the drones was examining a severed hand, flexing the fingers in turn by pulling on the tendons. As he looked down at his leg, at least what remained of it and he saw that it had been clamped in a vice like grip of one of the warriors.
The voice from above the queen cut through the near silence of scuttling insects.
‘You are many? You are acceptable sustenance.’ Hook recognised his boot. It was being held to the vacuous orifice that was presumably the queen’s mouth. ‘The sustenance is superior to that previously provided. We have understood your means of moving between stars. Where will we go?’



There were billions of them and now with a taste for human flesh. Hook had never done anything noble in his life and had no intention of starting now. Despite the excruciating pain he managed to gasp out. ‘Take me to my ship, only I can get you the coordinates you need.’

‘You bastards,’ shouted Jim, having overseen the unfolding events through the helmet cams of the troops. Turning to the other crew he gave the order for activation of cloak and emergency lift off. When they stared at him in obvious confusion he added, ‘they’re all dead, all of them, now get us out of here.’

The fate of Hook is undocumented though Jim did indeed get both his mansion and servants, not to mention Hook’s share of the loot.

The FET and the empire at large got war leading to genocide of the hive on Fake.

As even something simple as taking an innocent step forward can lead to the death of millions - the moral of the story could be ‘when dealing with aliens, be very careful’ though personally I prefer ‘always install a ship cloak and don’t volunteer for away missions.’





 
News
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.
 
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  Star Date: 221.30.5

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RAGNAROK COMES

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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.

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Newstart is lost

 
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  Star Date: 221.27.2

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RAGNAROK APPROACHES

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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.

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ARC Plasma weapons devastate End Game

 
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  Star Date: 221.22.5

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RAGNAROK BECKONS

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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.

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ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships

 
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  Star Date: 221.11.4

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Caste Apart

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.

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Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?

 
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  Star Date: 221.3.3

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Meklanmania

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.

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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.”

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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.

 
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  Star Date: 220.50.5

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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.

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When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...

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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!

 
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  Star Date: 220.45.1

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Perfidion Reached

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.

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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."

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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.

 
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*** 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: )

Host: Naambta!
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.
 

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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