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214
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Down at the Resource Complex

Down at the special resource complex
‘What’s that smell?’
‘Dunno, dewiek?’
‘How would you know, you’ve never even seen a dewiek.’
‘True, but then I have never smelt anything like that either.’
‘It’s Trexonian beetle flange,’ this from the new arrival, just pulling a tray from the receptacle at the start of the buffet line.
The two women turned and stared at the man evaluating his comment. Was he serious, trying to be funny or did he have another agenda. They glanced at each other with a look sufficient to encourage one to take the bait, if that was indeed what it was.
‘Your cologne or the food being served?’ said in a not quite flirty but also not quite dismissive tone.

He got the message, more details or piss off.

‘I work down at the planetary specialist resource extraction facilities of the base. There was a rupture in one of the incoming pods that flooded the bay area with Trexonian beetles. They emit a rather strong smelling sebaceous fluid from a rim of their carapaces that the locals call the flange.’ They stared. ‘I have showered and scrubbed half a dozen times. The smell is lingering but they say it will go in a day or so. Did I say I was new here? I think it may be a newboy prank they pull.’ He smiled weakly. ‘The names James,’ he finished, proffering a hand in a friendly manner.


The two women looked at the hand but neither ventured to reach for it, leaving it hanging awkwardly between them until the new guy returned it to holding the other side of his tray.

‘Say, you two ever drank raw beconisian nectar?’ Clearly from their faces they hadn’t, ‘It is something found in the stomach crop from the Trexonian beetle. There’s nowhere near enough to exploit commercially so we pass around amongst ourselves rather than report it. You know full well if we did them upstairs would simply requisition its extraction and keep it for themselves. Same thing would happen if we got caught trying to smuggle it out of the section.’ As though a sudden thought had occurred, he continued, ‘You should visit us down there, my section is Delta 2, trust me, you won’t regret it.’
‘If it tastes as bad as you smell, you can keep it.’ Not the most polite rebuff.
‘Let’s just say you would put up with smelling like this for a week just for a glass.’

They were now listening. That’s the thing about working at a starbase, exotics pass though the port on a daily basis either destined for distant worlds or from distant worlds destined for the insatiable civilian markets. No matter which direction they were headed, mark-ups meant that personnel could never afford them, even if they hung around gathering dust in great warehouses for years. The chance at something that was slipping under commerce control was not to be ignored. Further, as it was not a registered resource at worst they might pull some shitty shifts for being out of their designated zones. Finally, like most base, boredom amongst personnel was prevalent.

It was more than a week before Tersi and Issa found their way down to Delta 2 section. James had eventually scrubbed up clean after a couple of days and chattiness aside proved to be not a bad’un. He had come in a few weeks back, transfer from somewhere in Halo, though even he wasn’t certain. It rained a lot and the base was most staffed by humans, which pretty much qualifies for most starbases the Peripheries over.
James seemed inclined to make more of this than was first intimated; something to do with it not just being his secret stash. Anyway, the lads down at Delta 2 were willing to indulge a little female company around a bottle or so of beconisian nectar so arrangements had been made. They already had clearance for similar security level sections and so had pulled a few favours amongst the troops assigned to the wing. This would buy them a few three hours, more than enough time for a couple of swift drinks and a break in the monotony.

‘Caves,’ stated James cryptically when he met them in a large bay area consisting of slick plastic and steel. Standard fifteen metre pods were stacked along two walls while various automated machines carried them from one side into what was presumably a sanitizer and collected then stacked them at the other. When they stared blankly and waited for his usual effusive expansion he simply turned and walked over to a large outlined ground plate until they joined him inside the line. As the twenty by twenty metre plate dropped away they were carried down through a much bigger chamber below. ‘The pods arrive in one of the adjacent bays and are unpacked after screening and the usual security stuff then cleaned for re-use as you have just seen. What few realise though is that part of this section of the base is above the defensive cave system. Not a big part, not even used, just foam insulated.’ By this time they had descended around sixty metres. Apart from the irregular shape of the room, betraying its natural origin, the cave was like the vast majority of the base, covered in off-white and badly stained plastic insulating foam. The ground had for the most part been levelled except at one end where it rose irregularly to meet the ceiling. More pods were scattered around in various states of repair. Despite the constant whir of air recycling, there was a background smell they had encountered in the refectory.

Suddenly James disappeared having scaled up the irregular floor at the end of the cave. He was there a second ago then gone but as they took another step forward they realised that in the bright lights and lack of definition to the walls, they had completely missed an outcrop behind which James had stepped. Here they found a narrow opening and could hear voices, James amongst them. As Issa and Tersi entered they were warmly greeted by around a dozen people, mostly male and all human. As their eyes adjusted to lower light levels they made out various vats, crates and packages. How some of these were made to fit through the narrow opening was a mystery.



Introductions continued as the two sides weighed up the potential of these new contacts. That both Terri and Issa worked primarily in basic production may well have encouraged James to seek their friendship. Those on basic production are always popular. The ability to run cadcam protocols to fill in gaps in the manufacturing itinerary is a clear winner for anybody wanting to some personnel gear. Replacement parts at short notice can be the difference between knocking off early and pulling a double shift. Then there are requests for a few personal bits and pieces such as small stills and micro-refineries such as those littering the tables. This may well be the reason that production and resource sections are invariably at opposite ends of the starbase and if administration had any say, never the twain should meet.
Less than a month later James, Tersi and quite a few others found themselves transferred to new sections. Their contracts were also flagged for the next personnel relocation. It was also intimated that they would be freezing their asses off on some distant asteroid where the sun was no brighter than a star.

The ‘boiler room’ was stripped and new ‘loyal’ personnel were assigned to Trexonian beetle processing under Issa. This was the same Issa who had not only been promoted from manufacturing but was rumoured to be very close to the under-chief administrator. Consensus is that it had a lot of do with her being spotted naked and intoxicated around the admin section just prior to reallocation of personnel. Nobody however calls her the under-under-chief.

If you ever have the privilege to be called to the under-chief administrator’s office you may see a curious decanter on his drinks cabinet and if you’re especially lucky you may get a sip of something rather unusual, something that stellars simply cannot buy.





 
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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