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Caliphate Nights #1

Caliphate Nights #1

The whirling motor-blades of the craft kicked up a thick fog of crimson dust as the rear wheels set on the mud cratered surface. The gravity was thick like soup. The front-wheel thudded to touch, pulling at the safety harnesses of the shaken occupants. The marines, already drained by pulling hard Gs in the descent, unbuckled with relief and checked their gear, loading their packs and rifles. The youngest grunt got out first, heaving and spewing the contents of his stomach until he settled himself. More experienced troopers lurched out after him. If they were comforted by the recruits display they only showed it by friendly taunts and jabbing their fists on his helmet as they passed.

Last out of the high-g lander marked SUV-86 was the General: black buttoned up jacket, matching gloves, side-pistol and thick UV goggles worn with an indifferent coolness. As the chopper made its ascent away, he took out a Parejo cigar and cut the end. He took a moment to appreciate the rich smell. Grown and hand wrapped on Jericho, he never took a mission without one at hand. Enjoying it would have to wait until the job was done.

The marines fanned out and secured the landing site as the scout set up the triangulation beacons. The cave entrance leading to the hive was less than two clicks north. The General set the mission timer on his vacuum sealed mechanical watch before giving the barest nod to the squad. They set off in a measured pace, blood thinners working to keep their hearts pumping in the torturously thin atmosphere.


The countdown reached the first mark and supersonic booms were heard overheard. The squad braced themselves, the mortar stands and magazines were secured on the ground. They watched the flash and smoke ahead before the ground tremors hit them. Lifting the equipment back up, they continued to the cave mouth now billowing out smoke. Putting on their face masks and infrared hooded lamps, they darted in quick motions providing covering support arcs in rotating overwatch guards.

Their enviro hazard meters flashed warnings about bio contaminants and close proximity fires as they waded through steaming pools of ashen goo and the burned sinews of the hive walls. The fragmented remnants of hive workers and guards lay strewn in a mess of liquified silicate and ooze. The walls were sheared by plasma burns and the clouds of shattered thick carapaces.

The tunnels stretched deep below the mud flats but the bombers had used precision markers planted weeks beforehand to hone in on their targets. The hive were experts at rooting out human tech but the boffins had doused some workers with crafted genome identifiers that were otherwise benign before reintroducing them back to the collective.

This hive was not particularly big but it was relatively isolated. It made for a perfect target for the mission. The wasteland of melted organic computers integrated into the structure indicated it had been sophisticated. Its call for help would have a response before the second mission time marker. By which point the General intended to be past the Karman line.

The brood chamber lay ahead behind a solid wall of calcified biomass. The workers had thrown themselves into a sacrificial pile a dozen thick to protect the queen from the oncoming superheated plasma. It had worked too, as predicted. Hive were tough sons of bitches. The squad positioned itself into three crossing fire lanes and the scout set thermal detonators at the identified fractures in the obstacle. The personal shield generators held as the explosion roared upwards past the squad, leaving two human-sized entry points. Grenades filled with inhibitor gas were thrown in and the squad followed securing the interior.

The General stepped inside and stood for a moment, appreciating the defiant posture of the hive queen within. It made a typical display of dominance, rising to its full height and expanding its intricate webwork of wings on its thoracic segments. The effort didn’t illicit so much as a flinch from the steadfast human.

“Your majesty,” he said curtly. The Terran basic transmitted over short-range subspace. If the tone was sarcastic, nothing of it remained in the translation.

The General saw the dim blue light of attached neural receptors activate and knew the queen understood him. The response came after the briefest of pauses, the subspace meta data rich with shrill anger and despair: “Why?”

“It’s moving day.”

The queen tried to lurch forward, intending a swift motion to decapitate the intruder but inhibitor gas had dulled her awareness. Sonic nets had already pinned her to the spot and her motion only increased the tension and brought the giant form crashing to the ground, anguish and fear distinctively measured by its pheromone release. The marines finalised her restraint by drilling metallic bolt pacifiers into her thorax. The nearby subspace echoed briefly with a tortured scream before unconsciousness took over.

As the marines dragged their prize out of the caves, the General took off the breathing mask and put the cigar he carried to his mouth. Finding some matches in his breast pocket, he lit and puffed until the tip was a glowing ember. The scout set the communication relay before him and handed him the handset.

“Come in, Sierra Uniform Victor. This is Scott. The breeder is ready for transport. Over and out."

CIA Warning: Caliphate Nights are apocryphal stories from the Caliphate. Any resemblance to people or places is likely coincidental. We are watching (TM).


 
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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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***** 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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As part of the update outlined in the 7th February post, turn fees have been increased as from today.

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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