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Story - Silent Night

Story - Silent Night

In the cold and dark the young female fled through the streets, stumbling over debris hidden by the thickening layer of snow. She kept heading in the same direction though when the occasional light beamed came close she would enter a side street, crossing to a parallel empty road.

Clearly in the late stages of pregnancy, her arm was across her swollen abdomen though whether this was to protect the unborn or just to support some of the weight was uncertain. The expression on her face was one of terror and determination to keep going.

She was a few kilometres beyond the limit of the settlement when she finally collapsed. The lights of the colony were almost lost in the swirling snows.

Cheant, home of a typical stage one affair was little more than a few main roads, light industrial zone and scattered agriculture taking the form of fields and ponic processing plants. It had come under the control of the Flagritz and times had changed. On the surface everything appeared normal with traders going about their usual business but then rumours started to circulate regarding things happening beyond the port security. Initial promises of infrastructure and improved trade had steadily turned to veiled oppression with some people disappearing while others started waving around obscene amounts of money and buying themselves into positions of influence within the once fair councils.

Joe swerved nearly hitting her, skidding to a halt a further thirty metres along the track. He hadn't expected to encounter livestock this far from the gap. The storm had ripped down a few old root-thorns, taking down the perimeter fencing with them. He’d had doubts about the trees when he put up the fences back in summer but the shade they offered his animal stock against the burning glare of the F class star convinced him to leave them until the new foliage achieved a decent height. He was good at making mistakes.

It was only when he approached slowly so as not to spook the animal that he realised it was a coptuvian like himself. One of the minority species here on Cheant.

He thought for a while, though not too long, debating with himself vocally as was his habit from long years of only having himself and his cattle for company barring the occasional jaunt up Cheant Central. He still thought of it as Prefab as the first settlers dubbed the loose collection of converted cargo containers that formed the initial habitations.

'Right girly you can come back home and I will get some warmth and food into you. I doubt them critters will stray far from shelter in this storm. I can always come back when the storm blows itself out.' With that he gently picked her up. She weighed very little to someone that was used to carrying around animals. Once in the cab he turned up the heating, covered her in a fleece and set off back to his cabin. She mumbled a few things but didn’t wake.

She was well enough to be left alone by the third day, eating but not yet talking though she occasionally cried in her sleep. Joe had been able to not only fix the fencing but also make quick trip for supplies and hear the news. The latter was bad, very bad indeed. By the time he returned he was passed concerned and verging on scared having debated with himself all the way home on what it meant. Against his personal moral code he was beginning to think that he should have left her to freeze to death. Terms like missing 'breeding stock' and 'punishment for harbouring fugitives' from flagritz sources could only mean one thing.

A few more days later and he had progressed to terrified. He had been shouting at himself while in the barn only an hour before, finally coming to the decision to turn her over. Maybe they would believe he didn't know she was a fugitive or that he had only just found her in the hills. They might just issue him with a fine he kept convincing himself. He resolved to head straight into Prefab and made his way to the truck. She was looking through the window of the cabin as he passed and smiled for the first time. His resolve crumbled.

It was the next day when he heard the roar of engines, too loud for ground conveyance and too far from the flagritz base which meant only one thing, a trader coming down for civilian goods. That it was bypassing the base in favour of the sector gave him an idea. Ten minutes later he was heading cross country in the opposite direction of the contrails left by the descending ship.

Thasar was intent on getting the civvy deal tied up and off this backwater world before sundown. He hated these places with their hick mentality and stupid customs. He also hated the Flagritz and as captain of a small Privateer he was well aware of their attitude to him. Better to be out of orbit as fast as possible. He was only here because he had been tipped off that there was a consignment of local perishables for sale. Getting them back to Yank would put him in clear profit for once.

Late. Thasar was not happy. Did the bumpkin not hear the ship? With no world comms there was no way of messaging ahead. He’d have thought that they’d been eager to do business. How often does a starship come along and bring real stellars as well. The chance to get hands on stellars rather than chump guilders was not something to pass up lightly. He almost expected to have a band playing and a decent spread laid on.
The harassed little alien that approached was at best unimpressive, clearly not the local trade magnate though how could tell on a world like this.
'Er...' it stammered having come to a halt in front of Thasar.
Thasar stared down at him. At nearly two metres he tended to stare down on most people. Probably some starstruck idiot wanting to sign up despite having no training. He gave him his best veteran look.
'Er, is this your ship?' inspired observation, 'I mean are you the captain? Er, you are not working with the flagritz are you?...' ok, now that was intriguing. Thasar raised an eyebrow, though as this alien with its fixed ridges above its eyes couldn’t match the response it probably didn't understand the connotation.
'No,' he finally replied as the small alien started to look even more anxious, 'I don't work for flagritz, now unless you are here with a consignment of perishables...' he didn't think he needed to finish the sentence.
'Yes, yes I have them. I just bought them so, um, if you want them, you need to deal with me but there's a problem…’
‘Listen here bub,’ Thasar cut him off, ‘the price has already been agreed. You think you are gonna rip me off…’ the little alien threw up its arms in the universal placating gesture.
‘No, it’s not that, just that you will have to collect them.' Joe had paid over the odds for the goods but what other options did he have. He needed these off-worlders to come out to his farm.
Though suspicious, Thasar couldn’t work out the angle so the deal struck. The small alien retreated saying he would need to prepare and to meet him out at the farm. He would give them a call in a few hours time. Thasar hated waiting but at least it gave the opportunity for the rest of the crew to enjoy a little shore leave, not that there was much to do in this place short of get food poisoning or maybe trade a few beads for local goods. He supposed making some personal deals would keep the them sweet for a while though he warned them about getting into trouble with the flagritz sycophants of which there were always a few.

It was dark and many hours later when the message finally arrived. Fresh snow had fallen. They had managed to hire three haulers from the locals. He would pilot the first while Mel and Gaz had been assigned to the other two. Roads such as existed were only good in summer. There was a very real chance that one or all of the haulers could get stranded if they ventured away from the hard-packed ground.
'Gabby, I want you to take the airfoil and scan the ground. Keep low and paint us a path,' shouted Thasar.
'Sure thing captain.' Gabby was pretty good with the flyer and despite the gusting storm lit up the night guiding the three out towards the farm.

'Cap, you heard what the faggies are doing out here?' Mel liked to gossip.
'No and neither did you.'
'Reckon they got some sort of programme running here.' Gaz contributed.
'Not this again.'
'Serious captain, 'Mel continued, 'they are experimenting on people like Gaz says. Impregnating girls, using them as breeders. Governor Rodion is threatening to kill all the kids over something.'
'We're here for goods, nothing else. You need to wise up. Nothing to see, move along,' Captain Thasar started to have a bad feeling about coming here.
'They are doing searches, dragging people back to the base for interrogation and stuff.'
'That's enough, in few hours we will be on the other side of the system and by next week on the other side of the Periphery.' Thasar put an end to the conversation.

They found the farm a little after midnight. The airfoil positioned above the barn bathing the figure of the small alien in a white light.
They approached in their exotic clothing. The all in one suits were designed for exploring frozen moons and therefore more than up to the task of keeping them warm on a winter's night on Cheant even this close to the pole. Gaz's suit was open down to his stomach exposing just a loud purple shirt with flickering holo logo. The three of them looked about as out of place as it is possible to be.

'Please,' the alien said as they walked up, looking nervous again, 'you have to help us. They have been once but I managed to hide her out here. They will be back. She can't stay here and the baby has just come.'
Mel and Gaz looked at Thasar. He closed his eyes and sighed as his shoulders slumped.

The three men stood looking down at the woman and baby amongst the cattle and recently stacked crates of perishables.

The sun was coming up over Mobile Bay as the three of them descended down the ramp, mother, baby and ex-farmer. He couldn't work out why Joe had come along, he didn't strike Thasar as the sort of man, well alien, to give everything up for somebody he had just met and a child to some unknown father. There was no wisdom in it that he could see though admittedly nobody had accused him of being a wise man.

They had sort of got used to the small aliens and the goodbyes had been awkward. Mel had given them some of his stash of unique cosmetics he had picked up in Halo. They would be worth something locally he said. Gaz had handed over some pharmaceuticals. Useful for the baby especially on a new world. Thasar had even found himself slipping a few strips of precious mets into Joe's hand. He had responded by tilting his head in an approximation of Thasar's trademark raised eyebrow. Thasar had stopped thinking of Joe as an alien ‘it’. He couldn't remember when the transition to ‘he’ had occurred.

Gabby's contract was up and as she was staying on Mobile Bay for a while, said she would watch over them.

Profit was down that much was certain. Even so Thasar felt good about himself for the first time in as long as he could recall as he sat alone on the bridge. He would miss their company but not the baby's crying. It was nice to have a silent night.

******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 and most reliable unbiased publication in the known universe from our home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last couple of weeks,

Cluster War! DNA Gather Fruit
******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 home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,

Cluster War! MZC attacks DNA
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*** Inter Galactic News ***

The Dewiek rise again!

After the death and destruction wrought upon the Dewiek Nation by the Architects, there was a period of calm if you were a werewolf fancier. But now the Dewiek have risen to once more in the name of the Dewiek Packs, led by Skarn. Their new message being one of peace, a most unusual change for the large humanoid wolves. While they rise from the ashes of the Mizuchi Combine the Galaxy waits to see how this new affiliation acts, baring in mind the Dewiek have something of reputation.

Empire invade the Cluster!

A significant force of GTT warships recently entered the Cluster, somewhere they have not seen the need to go for a very long time. At the same time the CIA banned the Dewiek Packs from it’s space and also sent a large number of warships into the Cluster to bolster the GTT’s presence. After this show of force the Crossley system, known for it’s wormhole connecting from the Cluster to CIA space shifted to be claimed by the GTT. Currently the Empire has over 200,000 troops and 2000 warships roaming the nearby systems. Inhabitants of the Cluster are waiting to see if there are any further developments. GTT CEO Xavier Fox when asked by our office dismissed it as a “Training exercise”.

Krell sale!

The Krell Clan Dark Angels has been selling off bases, outposts and even systems lately. It is unknown why they have decided to cash in their assets and territories, but it points to the accumulation of significant wealth by the Krell clan. If you have any spare cash and want to expand your assets then it seems to our office that the best place to go is the Dark Angel Clan and ask what will be going up for sale next, assuming they actually have anything left.

*** Affiliations ***

AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
BLG Bolg Organisation (22) - Akhenaten
BHD Brotherhood (63) - de Molay
CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - DNA people
DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - <unknown>
DWK Dewiek Packs (19) - Skarn
FCN Falconian Republic (70) – Bacran *
FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
HEX Hexamon (23) - <unknown>
KRL Krell (30) - Namica
KRT Krell of the Reverence Temple (37) - Kal Torak
KST Kastor Kastorians (12) - Kastor
MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
MOH Mohache (73) – Listens
NHS Noble Houses (41) – Roy Roberts
NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz

* Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
** Only known contact, please update us if this is incorrect.


*** Submissions ***

By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
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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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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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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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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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!


Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
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Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
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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).