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Story - Colonisation

Colonisation

Captain Jeremiah Philips took a step closer to the edge of the cliff to better survey valley below. A gentle sea breeze ruffled his hair. Unconsciously he cast a dramatic pose as the glorious late afternoon sun illuminated his face. He had the look of a visionary. Already he had mapped out in his mind’s eye the main road, light industrial zone and primary terminal. With expansion the terminal would have to quickly evolve into a local hub so as not to spoil the scenery and the main urban precinct up the slope. The forests would have to be removed in a few places though the timber would be useful and be the first resource exploited by the industry. Agriculture would presumably be primarily hill grazers though he had to admit to himself he didn’t really understand how agriculture actually worked. He dismissed the thought, leaving it to the populace to sort out for themselves. Colonists invariably brought their own stuff at least this is what he was led to believe. This place had it all. All he had to do now that he had found the perfect world and location was to think of a name. Philip’s Town? Phil Town? Jeremiah’s Landing? Now that had a ring to it.


As he strolled back down from the cliff along a natural cutting he was pleased to see that the team were already at work unpacking the tender, a far cry from the disorganised rabble that set out on to explore this arm of the Corewards’ Periphery more than three months ago. The tender, the ship’s ubiquitous all-terrain transport vehicle was looking a little worse for wear. Maintenance was overdue and they were down to their last tender following the less than impressive exploration of the volcanoes on the inner moon of the system’s only gas giant. He had put a request in to abort further exploration and return for the much needed patch up which would also include a few more vehicles. The crew were also grumbling about needed down time. The request was denied by the board. They wanted this world checked out first – thoroughly as this looked the most promising to date for the corporation’s deep space expansion. Talk was most definitely fixed on colonisation rather than exploiting one of the worlds populated by sentients native to this region of space. His contact indicated that the board was not impressed by the restrictions that were being levied on starbases, specifically their anti-monopoly policy. It seemed that this mission was time critical as a few allies were also checking out this region of space. It was policy amongst allies never to claim jump so ousting an ally from a garden world was never going to happen. Worse, allies were even expected to go to the aid of threatened outposts and starbases, though in practice this rarely happened as the fighting was invariably long over before the cavalry arrived and their job was smear the remains into the landscape. So the unwritten rule was to get in first, plant a flag and politely request that allies piss off and find somewhere else. This was seen as preferable to sending in mercs to hassle allies at a later date.

The first step in assaying the world for colonisation potential started a fortnight ago and was initially planned to include a full GPI analysis but the arrival of no less than three allied surveyors a few days ago put paid to this. The sector with the best metals deposit was chosen. The modules were quickly organised and over the course of a couple of days the automated assembly boosted a low orbital line and tethered it. There was nothing like a hiport to declare intent. It didn’t take long for the survey ships to get the hint. Now it was just a case of justifying the expense of the hiport not that he was concerned about such fiscal matters; that was an issue for those above his pay grade. Philips had heard the rumours about the bill for the last post AGM dinner. Board members squandered more stellars in an afternoon than his entire crew could blow at the finest recreation complex in a week.

While the orbital scans had indicated that this was a reasonable world though the air was a little on the thin side, it had large land masses in both hemispheres and better still vast open areas of grasslands. That was all well and good but before a true picture of the world could be established some ground surveying was needed. If there was to be a starbase on this world, then it was reasonable to expect that the governor would also want to capitalise on exports. Philips had considered forming a few ground parties and dropping them off at various locations around the world but with troops now stationed at the base and the ship due maintenance, he didn’t favour the prospect of repeated orbital jaunts while skipping between continents would take too much time. The plan was therefore to concentrate on the grasslands close to the base while the base started an audit of the world for colonisation potential.

By the time he arrived back in the makeshift camp Gavid, his second had already sent a dozen crewmembers out to various promising looking patches of flora for sampling. Saluting was not done though it was a habit Gavid had been unable to shake off. Philips wondered if it was coded into his psyche.

‘Sir,’ Gavid said, saluting smartly and added, ‘Bloody insects. This valley is teaming with them. No wonder we haven’t seen any larger fauna. I have sent Chol-hallan into the worst area down by the river. He says that his exoskeleton makes him impervious to the little blood suckers though he was licking his mandibles in anticipation. ’

Philips nodded his understanding. Hive made him uneasy and dining with them was a distinctly unpleasant experience though they had their uses. People didn’t seem overly concerned when a hive was killed in action. Everything seemingly under control, he nodded at Gavid to carry on.

Over the next day the exploration teams pulled in superficial data. Herds of fauna existed though were further inland and away from the slower running waterways, the haunt of the fearsome insects. Even Chol-hallan had taken to wearing a suit following irritation to his antenna. Nobody was without welts and swellings as they went through their arsenal of repellents until they found what worked. That in itself was valuable if this was going to be colonised. The draft report would definitely also include recommendations to dredge the river, establish artificial banks and replace the local flora throughout the colony with off-world variants that were incompatible with native insect fauna.

Three weeks later and they were on their way back to Yank and a much deserved break. It would be six months before Philips stood in the same spot on the cliff looking down on the valley. So much had changed.
‘Jeremiah’s Shitter!’ Captain Philips looked distinctly unhappy.

‘It’s not its official name, sir,’ Gavid was nothing if not pedantic, ‘I believe that after the first flood it was referred to Jeremiah’s Swamp, then Jeremiah’s Bog and finally some locals started calling it Jeremiah’s Shitter and the name sort of stuck.’

‘But they didn’t follow any of the advice laid out in the report. They have built most of the housing on stilts to save the expense of dredging and they haven’t even bothered supplanting the local flora. Whose idea was it to rely on agricultural implements to mow the local flora down? The only off-world flora incompatible with native insects is to be found in the governor’s grounds. ‘

‘They say that the colony was established in a flood plain. The whole area was under a metre of water for weeks. Apparently the dredging was scheduled for stage two.


’That said, with that really good goldilocks world Captain Reynolds discovered a few weeks back it wouldn’t surprise me if they dump this world. Maybe sell it to Garcia Enterprises as a going concern, though I suspect that they will probably just write it off. Even the minerals on this world are pretty feeble compared to Reynold’s Glory as they are now calling Estibod IV.’ Empathy was not a strong point with Gavid.

‘And have you seen the colonists,’ Philips continued, seemingly oblivious to Gavid’s comments, ‘ I was led to believe that these would be highly educated and skilled people from the Inner Empire. These are scum. Half of them are naplians. I swear somebody was trying to sell us parts from our own ship.’ Captain Philips stopped and turned to Gavid. ‘Reynold’s Glory, Reynold’s buggering, bastard Glory?’

‘It appears that he has also been nominated for the Explorer of Excellence award. Wasn’t he one of your crew?’

Captain Philips sighed as the sun sank down silhouetting him. Shoulders slumped his was a pose far from dramatic. Not that anybody in the colony would have seen. Light smoke from the standard industrial modules not designed for the thin atmosphere clung to the settlement, obscuring small details such as the founder of Jeremiah’s Shitter.

‘Come on let’s see if the crew have loaded up the consignment. I never want to come here again.’


 
News
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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.
 
******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 from our new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** 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

  •  
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    ***** 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.
     

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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