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Samuel - First Stellar Caliph

Samuel - First Stellar Caliph
His new robes are a mixture of styles, blending traditional Brotherhood habit and the flowing light garments rapidly becoming fashionable as the masses adapted to the sweeping changes heralded by the formation of the Caliphate. His hood remains up, concealing most of his face. Despite recent surgery, the habit of concealing his face following his torture and disfigurement is proving harder to fix.

If he is uncomfortable on his throne of pillows he does not show it. The large chamber is carefully designed so that his immediate area is kept relatively cool while only a few metres away the temperature is a slightly higher, sufficient to cause some degree of discomfort at least to non-military. His personal guards standing in the many alcoves around the hall in their full battle-armour have their own internal environment controls.

As the orator drones on, occasionally trying to blink sweat back from his eyes and various dignitaries await to be introduced, Samuel recalls a very different meeting not so long ago.


"How is he?"
"Strong."
"And his mind?"
Silence.
Samuel was blessed with vastly superior hearing, something that early training in the cavernous halls of the Brotherhood taught him never to reveal. It had stood him in good stead over the years. The stranger was talking to his warden. He may go by the title estate manager or some such but Samuel was in no doubt as to his role, ensuring that he had no contact with anybody not on the accepted viewing list. He knew he was supposed to be dead. He had seen the media reports released by the Inner Brotherhood fanatics of Glory a decade ago. They showed his lifeless body at rest. They had pumped him with so many drugs that he was in a deep coma, blue lips and a slow pulse so weak as to be virtually undetectable. Even now his mind rebelled from recalling the endless days of torture both psychological and physical. He forced himself to look down at his fingers, as always surprised to see perfectly manicured nails and not suppurating stumps.

They said that they tortured him for more than eight months and for three reasons. First and foremost as punishment for his rejection of the Inner Brotherhood and their interpretation of the True Ones will; second, to have him step down as High Lord, Prophet of the True One and ruler of the Stellar Empire and third, to recognise Mark Eaton as Pope and representative of the True One in the material universe. He believed it was simpler than that. They tortured him because they wanted to as even after he was officially dead and they no longer needed either his confession or agreement to anything, the torture continued. He knew that behind those placid masks and despite their protestations that they were unhappily carrying out a necessary duty in the name of the True One, they always seemed so eager to hear him scream. By the end of a session, they were never disappointed. The nature of fanaticism is that it often justifies and even rationalises succumbing to base desires. He remembered the bloody fights on Sparta and how in revenge for stories heard third hand, his forces hacked down surrendering imperial troops and attacked convoys escorting civilians fleeing from the city. Did he court marshal them for war crimes? No, he promoted them. Viciousness, selfishness and self-righteousness, in essence the monsters of the id win wars.

Does he hate the Inner Brotherhood? It is a question he has asked himself time and time again. They raised him, taught him and made him the man his was. He admires them certainly and in his bleak moments wishes to rake out and murder every last one of them; from the highest cardinal, now posing as minor official in civilian government to the acolytes once dreaming of executing heretics and now working as lowly farmer hands. At others he simply doesnt care, individually even the worst have accounted for the deaths of dozens, maybe even hundreds. His rebellions cost the lives of millions no matter how justified it was AND IT WAS. He sighs. He understands fanaticism all too well even now after they have taken everything from him.

"High Lord?" the inflection at the end of lord catches his attention. How long had they been standing there? The one that had spoken had the air of somebody repeating himself. He looks up at the man, meets his gaze and holds it without blinking until the other sought to disengage with a bow. Clearly this was a man used to dealing with power, knowing the cusp between asserting it and arrogance.

"Mr Tweedale, could you be so kind as to call for tea, it seems I have an unexpected guest," he found himself saying. Today looked like it was going to be a rational day. He gestured to one of the settees by the window, watching the back of the stranger as he moved towards it before standing and joining him. The estate manager, his warden paused for a moment before retiring to seek the refreshments though Samuel was in no doubt that he was being left alone with this newcomer.

"A thousand apologies sire, it was rude of me intrude upon you uninvited but it is a matter of some urgency that only you can resolve." After saying this, the man sank back into the settee, relaxing and running his hand down his shining black beard. The gesture, like the oiled beard was an affectation belonging to a different era if Samuel was not mistaken. Here was a self-styled enigma. The statement, as intended was sufficiently phrased to both capture his interest while still avoiding the question of the strangers identity. Clearly this would only be revealed if Samuel's response was to his liking. He expected that if this scenario played out otherwise, the stranger would depart and the meeting would never have happened. He wondered how many similar meeting had occurred only to be obliterated in a nightly regimen of drugs ostensibly to hold back the nocturnal demons.



The seconds ticked away as Samuel digested the statement while viewing the grounds and the stranger surreptitiously watched him. Eventually he nodded, indicating the spring growth.

"It was a hard winter on this continent. We lost most of the northern wood. Those trees have stood since the early days of settling. They were originally from Earth. Everything has its season. Those that pulled through are even now putting out more shoots than I have seen in two decades. Sometimes a cruel frost is needed."

"I did not know that though I take your meaning. Yes indeed, the matter is one that should it come to pass will indeed be compared to a cruel frost by some. Afterwards I foresee green shoots of recovery and then, the True One willing it will flourish as never before. We are of course referring to the fate of the Confederacy."

"Has Spacewall sent you?" He already guessed the answer.

The tea was cold and untouched and the light failing before the stranger departed many hours later.

No drugs were administered that night or any night since. The demons were once again caged as Samuel dreamed of a new empire, not an empire, a caliphate, the True One willing.






 
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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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***** Inter Galactic News *****

The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

”Necessity hath no law”

Lord Cromwell of the DOM slapped a fleet of privateers, on charges of "knavery", "bad manners" and "poor sportsmanship." Such offences carry the death sentence in the Dominion, a nebulous territory neither part of the Empire nor apart from it. At least thirteen Armadillo class ships, typically sold by the DOM, were destroyed at a location Cromwell was unwilling to disclose publicly. Bloodthirsty Dewiek as well as "prince of peace" Yahn Wodenzoon were quick to congratulate the DOM for their merciless carnage. It seems the consensus in the galaxy’s ruling class is that not presenting valid identification is a crime worthy of the murder of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unfortunate crewmen. This is all just another indicator that the political elite are far removed from the lives of ordinary people who are seen as little more than meat inventory. It is telling so-called “man of the people and the downtrodden” Wodenzoon so readily aligns himself with this grisly concord. Meanwhile, the archaic elocutionist Cromwell further establishes the recent trend of mild exertions of power by the cold-blooded DOM.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Return of the Fox

The galaxy is still digesting news of the return of Xavier Fox to the boardroom of the GTT. The ailing corporation's share price began a sharp rally after a six month downward spiral under Ike Krieger, credited with being the worst CEO in the megacorporation's history. The only surviving board member from Fox's initial tenure as CEO, and perhaps across the entire GTT board, is Antt Tilton the Research Director. The reclusive Tilton is the brains behind the ascension of GTT technology, particularly in the field of antimatter weapons and super-heavy dreadnought size ships, Tilton offers a small measure of continuity during this tumultuous time. Mr. Fox has therefore resorted to a broad appeal for new blood to join the ailing firm. So far, the result has been a number of two-dimensional "Yes" persons being promoted to the C-suite. Still, key stakeholders were upbeat with one commenting, "Fox is the man to turn this bloody disaster around. He knows how to put a great team together and where to bury the bodies of the non-performers."


 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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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,

And so with the news,
 
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******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the new version of ESNN (formally CSNN), giving the news and views from the former CSNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
 

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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.

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