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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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******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,
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

A Detinus expeditionary force is being assembled to liberate slaves in the Twilight Periphery. Stung by the wit of the Wimble Dinash, Admiral Bridge is leading a personal and sizeable force against the newly constituted Flagritz Republic.

The Wimble Bake Off has new competition with the Dominion instituting a Master Chef competition in the Orion Spur. This is all said to be a cover for further land grabs and in preparation for a move against the Hive and Dewiek, tipping the balance further in the Stellar Empire’s favour.

Meanwhile, the Wimbles struck off a number of hapless Wimbles under their new rules. To cement their plan to align themselves with the Stellar Empire, they have offered the services of their new masters to the Emperor.

Several hundred thousand slaves have been released by the Flagritz Republic but the terms of their manumission are unclear. Millions more await their emancipation. Many have refused to accept freedom without transit home, especially those brought in from outside peripheries. Many reportedly were captured by the Stellar Empire from the Detinus Republic and then sold on to the Flagritz.

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

The ship PRV HarCop Omega has been reported both in Orion and Corewards. This was the flagship of the former League Chairman, sacked from the role when the League went into administration and quietly disappearing beyond the edge of known space. It is thought that his return may have been for a clandestine meeting with his former contacts in Harlong and Coptuv. If so then he clearly has an agenda.

Unconfirmed stories that the Pirate King of The Pirate Holes and Million Islands is near completing research on the various larger ships his pirates have successfully captured over the past few years (big thanks to all the affiliations that participated in 'donating' ships). If the rumours are true it is likely a new armada of pirate ships using more advanced technology will be found in Corewards in the near future.

An supernova has been detected originating from just beyond the Transpiral Periphery. The rare event has created ripples in the subspace of the nearby stars. Nobody has reported any tangible ramifications but this is the first supernova in the current age of the Peripheries so esoteric scientists are excited by the prospect of grants to study the relatively nearby phenomena.
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Wimbles Crisis Solved ***

The Wimble Crisis of 217 has come to an end with the human Baron making way to the wimble Grandfather Paden Mastaak. Celebrations were held in Wimbledon upon the news with crack teams of Wimble security staff guarding all the pies.

It’s unclear how long the Wimbles will enjoy this new era of peace and self-determination.

Vocal Wimble Dinasha, one of Paden’s early backers, has chosen this precarious moment to bait Dewiek, Flagritz and humans who were initially disposed to be friendly to the new administration. Whilst the Wimbles' history with the former-slave-loving Flagritz could be understood, their animosity towards the Dewiek and humans was more mysterious. One insider alluded to a rise in the number of cases of foot-and-mouth across the herd as being a likely cause.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Storm in a Teacup *** Yahn Bares All * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door ***

The stargates are closed! Reports from multiple sources indicate at least three of the stargates, all within Dewiek controlled systems, have been closed.

Two different sources have indicated that the TCA have been spotted recently in a number of systems and may be behind this turn of events. A scan sent to the SSS indicated eight TCA ships were recently spotted first in the Faery system and later near the Kasmer stargate.

Another source, suspiciously put the blame on the ARC, suggesting the ARC and DEN were working together because they “need to trap [the TCA] and try and finish them off after the DEN bodged their operation to protect the ARC while they incinerated the MEK homeworld, which ended up with several ARC ships being destroyed and the job only being half done."

However, with no public statement from the Dewiek themselves, its hard to know whether these rumours are reliable.

Lord Igor of the Dominion and Erasmus Andersen of the Garcia Family both offered public apologies at the delay in meeting their trade commitments because of the recent closures. The not-so-subtle subtext being that someone will pay with blood for this interference in their business. Or at least with a stealthy price rise.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Wimble Civil Strife * Who Sniffs the Sniffers? * Largin’ It * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &etc

 

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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