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214
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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.






 
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