||You better watch out. You better not cry.
You better watch out. You better not cry.
The howling had stopped some time ago though Fellise still held her breath anxiously. Then the door opened and Dakran stepped through surrounded by scattering of blown snowflakes. He placed his rifle into the rack next to the door, looked over at his wife and smiled. ‘Go on back to the kids. I don’t think we are going to have any more issues with vorse tonight. I’ll fix us a drink.’
As she entered the bedroom she found all three children in the one bed with the blanket pulled up to their chins. Little Enna’s toy blaster was poking over the top at the ready.
‘Shush,’ she cooed at them, ‘nothing to be afraid of, just a few vorse trying to get over the fence. Your father scared them away.’
‘What’s a vorse?’ asked Enna, always the bravest and most curious of the sibling despite being both the youngest and small for his age.
‘Well, they look a bit like reindeer and are just as bad tempered, howling all the time. Santa could probably use one of them pulling his sleigh.’
‘Santa? Reindeer?’ they all chorused.
‘It’s a story from when I was a girl. My mother told us tales from her childhood and about what it was like back on Earth, that’s the place we all came from.’
‘But I thought we came from Capella,’ said Jacey.
‘I mean everyone a long time ago, your great grandparents, yes and mine,’ she added, stalling the next obvious question. ‘Anyway, do you want to hear about Santa and the reindeer or are you going to keep talking?’ The vorse forgotten, they now clambered forwards on the bed. ‘It all started a very long time ago when people burnt trees for heat and used animals instead of shuttles and if they wanted to tell someone about something, they even had to go and see them and of course pretty much everybody was very poor. But there was one man, something like a viceroy who was not only very rich like all viceroys but also very generous.’
‘So, this isn’t a true story?’ Souki was only twelve years old but already cynical. Then again, she was born on Stork while the family were waiting for seemingly years, stuck in a starport three-by-three poly-prefab for passage to one of the verdant frontier worlds.
‘It’s a nice story, Souki, so please. Anyway, this generous viceroy seeing that there were many people with not enough things to burn and not enough food to eat, went about over the cold winter giving them things that they needed. He also gave little toys to the children. Everyone then looked forward to winter because even though it was cold, they knew that Santa Viceroy would turn up and hand them presents.
‘But then one really cold and dark winter the weather was so bad that his normal sleigh, that’s like a sledge the size of a cart, pulled by small furry creatures could not get through the snow. As he knew the people depended on his gifts he went out into the wild and harnessed big monsters, standing taller than your daddy and with huge twisting horns.’ She made a ferocious face and used her hands as horns and leaned over the children till they giggled. ‘He wrestled the reindeer to ground and tied them to his cart. These wild beasts were then able to pull him through the horrible storm and reach the people. But when they saw the monsters charging down their streets they were scared and bolted their doors and turned out their lights and refused to come out. Santa couldn’t deliver the presents.’
‘So what did Santa do?’ asked Jacey, looking very concerned.
‘Well, guess what, he climbed from the back of the sledge onto the roofs of the houses and he got in through their chimneys and left the gifts where they would find them when they came out of hiding.’
‘But that doesn’t even make sense.’ Souki scrunched her face up.
‘Well, it was a long time ago and people did odd things back then, but the point is, Santa delivered all to goodies to all the parents and all the children all got their toys. And every year after that Santa would use reindeer to pull his cart and people would pretend to hide while Santa delivered all the gifts and so the tradition of giving gifts at the coldest and darkest part of the winter was created. Isn’t that a beautiful story?’
At least two of the children agreed.
It was three days later when Enna went missing along with his toy blaster and his electric truck. They found his tracks in the snow a few hundred metres along the road, though how he had got through the gate could not be explained. Jacey said that they had been playing Santa and by the time she had come back with some toys to pretend pull the truck she could not find him so had gone to watch cartoons.
Dakran contacted the neighbours a few kilometres along the valley and soon there were four crawlers and a flyer combing the area. His truck was soon found turned over at the bottom of a bank a short distance from the river. By this point Fellise was stifling tears and Souki was shouting hysterically about stupid stories.
Ionic radiation made the sensors almost useless while thick vegetation cover of the slopes hampered visuals. By nightfall they were tense and weary but beyond a lot of vorse hoof prints, they found nothing.
A service was held a few days later. Souki moved out and now lived with a neighbour. Felisse spent the nights crying and Dakran spent from sun up to after dark out in the fields, throwing himself into physical labour. Life ticked on.
Cutbacks meant that the garrison was closed. The system defaulted to darkspace and talk amongst many of the farmers turned to abandoning their steads and buying passage back to Stork or possibly even Capella, though attracting the attention of a reputable megacorp to do the transporting was proving to be difficult.
It was the darkest winter night when the pirates struck. They arrived along with the storm and had already turned over the steads further down the valley. It was Souki that got the word out. Seemed one of the pirates wanted a bit of private time with her and underestimated the capability of a frontier girl that spent more than few years hanging round with ground-pounder brats.
Flares were fired and a militia was formed and took up positions where the valley narrowed between the river and a cliff. The pirates however had dealt with colonists before and were confident to the point of being cocky. They split from the path, seeking to get to the high ground and pick off the defenders.
That was when the vorse hit them. The huge elk analogues appeared from the lower tree line and stampeded along the narrow gap, leaping surefooted across the rocks despite the storm and the darkness. Horns swept out, disemboweling pirates while those fleeing were either trampled into the snow or hoisted over the edges of cliffs to descend into the dark churning rapids of the river below. Of the few pirates that survived the vorse onslaught none made it back to their ship; shot down by the militia.
As the militia disbanded and swapped stories of the event some cautiously suggested that somebody was riding one of the vorse.
‘Dressed in red clothing,’ suggested one, while another corrected him.
‘I reckon it was more likely uncured hide. Gotta be someone gone native.’
‘Anyway, he was laughing, “Ho, Ho, Ho”, all the way down the hill and across the river,’ added another.
‘Nah, probably just a groaning pirate caught up in the antlers of one of them vicious animals. I reckon the flares must have spooked them.’ The rest nodded agreement though unconvincingly.
Many hours later upon returning to the homes they had fled, they found small bundles of berries left by their doors, each neatly wrapped in scented leaves. To this nobody had any explanation.
Though she never saw Enna again, Felisse stopped crying. On the coldest, stormy nights she would listen for the howls of the vorse and on the next day look for small bundles of berries. Occasionally she would swear she heard laughter along with the howls. Now she tells the story of the night Santa came to town to her new born baby.
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.