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The changes were subtle. A small construction crew arrived and started surveying the road. When asked what they were up to, they said something about being given grants to upgrade the transport system.

The first stockpiles of cabling were of course nicked. Well, who would be stupid enough to leave a few hundred thousand creds worth of gear lying by the side of the road?

Investigations were conducted by government officials and some local gangs were implicated but no charges were brought against them, then again, nobody would be that insane. Then all went quiet for a while.

Then one day there was a barrage from the sky. At the time it seemed indiscriminate as houses in the middle of ghettoes and even in the middle of towns were destroyed. People hid or ran. Then the soldiers turned up. They were like something from another world. They wore space suits with mirrored visors and were virtually immune to the weapons of the gangs. They seemed to leap from building to building, powered by jetpacks or marched down the centre of the streets. Anyone and I mean anyone with a weapon was killed. I do not think they were human as they simply didn’t seem to care. Gang members tried using civilians as shields. The spacemen opened fire. Generally they aimed for the gangers but sometimes hit the hostage. The only difference was that they made sure that any ganger was exterminated. Even after the gangers went down with multiple wounds soldiers followed up with a head shot; no exceptions and often while stepping over the fallen body.

Of course they didn’t get them all but when they left they didn’t give an explanation for the attack or even removed the weapons for that matter. So a lot of people took revenge on the remaining gang members. I might have felt sorry for them if it wasn’t for what they did to my Kalifah. If the executions by the strange aliens were quick and brutal, the revenge exacted on those that were spared was slow if no less brutal.

Then the surveyors were back though this time with security and people collecting opinions about how life had improved and what sorts of things they would feel would benefit the community most. The equipment they placed by the side of the road remained until it was utilised. The old broken and dusty road, prone to washouts every few years was suddenly something from a sci-fi flick. It repelled sand and rain; it glowed at night and even flashed hazard warnings. Not only that, it produced enough solar energy to power the ghettos and give us local media access. That was the second time I saw the Konstantin logo. The first time I saw it was on the soldier’s armour though back then I had no idea what it was.

Things were still tough for us in the ghetto but much improved since the gangs had been removed. The Konstantin people seemed to know something about poverty as they started to build clinics and source deep underground water and built communal refectories and waste treatment plants, though they looked like they were built for the moon or somewhere.

The thing about suddenly not having to spend every waking moment looking for food and water is that it gives a man time to think and remember. When there is no longer a man forcing your down, you can stand up and act. This is not always a good thing in Africa. Our memories are long and bitter.

The first murders were almost inevitable following the demonstrations and calls for resignations of the corrupt officials that were lining their pockets while the gangs ruled. After this there were house fires as those of one ethnicity rekindled grudges as old as the deserts. Tribal designs that had been banned for decades were suddenly emblazoned on clothing. Husbands and wives of many years divorced or were beaten up. The poll takers and social workers in Konstantin pay proved ineffective at resolving issues.

That was when militia academies arrived at our ghetto. We had five, one for each of the four larger ethnic groups and one for everyone else. The surviving local officials worked on carving up the township as per group and assigning militia to patrol them. Over the course of a few months first the boundary street then adjacent ones emptied as night attacks reduced many to burnt-out shells though by day tension was much reduced to the point where people entered each others’ enclaves by day for work and shopping. The smaller enclaves started to empty as folks moved to other towns. The superhighway however only increased in traffic and soon the boundaries had to be reordered.

I watched all this changing around me as I did my daily drills at the academy and I wondered what it all meant. While we were no longer under the lash of the gangs and drugs were much less of an issue, there were still murders and corruption was just as big an issue. There were even gang clashes though now it was off-duty militia from one enclave against another. Attempts by the Konstantin overseers to direct this towards less dangerous outlets such as sport failed spectacularly.

The long night
The floodlights were what informed us something had changed. Then came the call for all militia in the enclaves to report for duty from great blaring horns that were normally only ever sounded in the morning.

As I walked along the path parallel to the highway I was surprised by just how much traffic there was on it. Only minutes after reaching the academy though, I found myself on a troop conveyor joining the steady stream.

We were on the move for around five hours arriving at our destination just before dawn. I noticed that only our academy had arrived here from our town though others conveyors were depositing militia.

Our orders were simple enough, capture a few buildings under the control of subversives and prevent reinforcements from reaching them. Our target building appeared to be some sort of civic hall. I later learned that the other groups had similar targets including an airport and the local media hub.

The actual assault was something of an anticlimax. We were pumping, expecting rebels behind every wall but made it the main entrance without even being challenged. The main door was locked but an old security man on the other side opened it at the sight of rifles. From where I stood halfway up the steps scanning back down and across the square he was explaining that people didn’t normally start turning up for work for at least another hour could we all possibly come back later?

That’s when young Rashad clubbed him to the ground with the butt of his rifle. I never liked the lad. He was hanging round the gangs peddling cred-bags and had his life mapped till the Konstantin lot buggered it up for him. He had a following amongst the militia because of his actions round the ghettos. As I said, we didn’t have the gangs and drugs were no longer such an issue though we did have murders, and violence.

Another security guard shouted something from within the building. I don’t know what it was but Rashad responded by opening fire. In the quiet of the dawn this sounded like thunder and virtually all of us dived to the ground or leaped behind cover.

Just the two of them; that was all we found, the unconscious old man at the door and the young guard by the reception desk, bleeding out across the polished floor.

As others started the inevitable looting I attempted to attend to the man’s wound with the help of Umar, though to be honest our skills were somewhat lacking. Umar was one of the older ones and ostensibly in charge according to his half-band. We did little more that stab him with a painkiller, squirt some gel into the hole and apply a blob of dressing.

That’s when we started to hear proper fighting. Rashad, returning from his looting with his grinning mates announced that he was going to get some proper sport. Umar started to stand and I realised that he was going to confront Rashad. Whatever this was about, it was not our war so I cut him off by pulling his sleeve and mumbling about checking his back for an exit wound. The distraction was long enough for Rashad to be past him and moving quickly to the door. A couple of dozen broke from what they were doing to follow him.

While that was the last I saw of Rashad and the others I heard that it was not a night to be proud of. Umar blames himself though I reassure him that he could not have stopped Rashad. He did what he could; he saved three people that night, himself, the wounded guard and probably me.

Now a few days later I read of the New African Dawn. The media tells of the coup by people looking to improve life for all Africans. This is a revolution by Africans for soul of Africa. It’s comes as a surprise how little the name Konstantin appears in the popular press, just the occasional thanks to the great Konstantin Family for their aid in supplying infrastructure over the past three years. I am under no illusion that we have won our freedom from oppressive governments. I think that we have been conquered by the steady winning of hearts and minds while using factions to murder each other. To many people, things seem to be better but I am troubled by the number of executions of both militia and former government loyalists. Not a single trial has been held. Rashad and others are AWOL while Umar has been placed in isolation. He is charged for the looting and murder by troops under his command. How soon before they turn the executors on the now unnecessary militia?

Is open for business...
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

New pirate threat rocks Corward Arm.

Several large pirate ships have been spotted in outer rings of Corward systems. Reports forwarded to us at the SSS allow us to exclusively tell readers that traders should keep their wits about them when moving through these areas.

No existing pirate menace has yet claimed ownership.

In a possibly unrelated event one of the FET cartel members claimed nothing was happening in the outer ring of Coptov shortly afterwards. But it could be that they are still trying to catch Empire backed pirates and have nothing to do with the new sightings.
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

DEN continue to shoot innocents

The Dewiek have made themselves busy shooting at the peaceful and innocent traders of the SSL. Leader of Solar Spices and Liquors Mr TOAD has been vocal pointing out that the Beast-DEN are being totally unfair. News of a go-fund-me appeal are yet to surface though.

This office is sure that it must have provided the DEN light relief after picking on the equally defenceless Felini. Word is that the DEN faced such an uphill struggle in these recent actions they had to take up Felini inter-breeding to provide some entertainment as the battle reports were rather boring.
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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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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).