***** 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."
Cover art by Dr-Pen
*** In Brief ***
Peace between the IMP and DEN, plus allies, has lasted for a number of months such that the two formerly warring parties feel comfortable enough to begin transferring assets captured during the war. Whilst this has come as a welcome reprieve to the Imperial Services whose one-trick pony of massive mercenary ground assaults was on its last legs, there have been rumours of discontent amongst the Dewiek packs.
The current DEN High Lord Aadolf is considered by some a mere inbetweener, a pale shadow of the glorious days of Folkvar and with none of the vision of Adoghina. Worst yet, he seems to have given free reign to the mad Kala to experiment on a wide scale with Meklans at the Dewiek capital starbase. Once considered their mortal enemies, Meklan are now a commonplace sight in Dewiek starports. A coup planned by Lyceum and supported by Greymane was foiled and the DEN appear divided on what to do with the weak and mentally deficient Aadolf.
The IMP have their own leadership problems with the new Viceroy Tiberius Crowe still unable to master his brief despite being nominally at his desk for half a year. The real power behind the throne remains Jack Jones. After cleverly "selling" a fleet of ships with his name all over them, he is building a network of pirates and mercenaries to attack targets under covert flags. With the like-minded Xavier Fox back at the helm of the GTT, it is likely the dynamic duo will be up to their old tricks. Crowe meanwhile seems to be a convenient stooge and the pretty face of the Empire. At least on days he remembers to put on his pants.
One faction that is suffering the wrath of Jones's free hand is the “ugly stepchild” of the Empire, the FET. No longer a chartered affiliation and with assets exposed across the peripheries, the FET has been targeted by Jones's mercenary frontman, Edward Low. In running battles where Low typically deploys advanced weaponry with their "Product of the Empire" labels still on them, the FET has scrambled to defend against hundreds of 50-hull ships cloaking into the orbit of far off worlds. Their allies the HEX have been quick to support, reinforcing the friendship they built during their combined assault against the now defunct RIP.
Smaller factions such as the DNA and GRC (see blogs) are expanding quietly and warily given all the peace going around the larger factions. Nobody wants to follow the example of the ERC whose emergence into the peripheries was almost snuffed out at inception by Halvor, the Wolf Lord upon whose shoulders Dewiek hopes for a future war must surely rest.
Meanwhile, the mysterious MZC's (see blogs) shadowy links with the FLZ has been the cause of some concern for analysts at the CIA who are reportedly taking a closer look at this affiliation's links with the FET as well.
Straddling the divide between Empire and aliens, the DOM have been asserting their sovereignty in their recently claimed systems in Coreward Arm and Orion Spur. Firstly, the small xenophobic Felini group the FEA were told in no uncertain terms to get lost when poking about on Cromwell's manor. Then the HEX and FET got into trouble with the dominatrix Wylde in Coptuv for firing on one of his good customers, the mercenary Edward Low. Despite the FET / HEX rallies against the mercenaries, no faction seems prepared to antagonise the DOM further. The DOM have so many fingers in so many pies that it would make a Flagritz Editor who-shall-not-be-named blush.
Will the DOM's close association to the Imperial underworld raise tensions with the DEN as the number of Jones's mercenary groups grows and their attacks get bolder? Will DEN weakness be exploited by a resurgent GTT? Will HEX and FET come off the back foot against the Imperial funded mercenaries? Will the DTR stop being a bunch of wet farts?
Only time will tell. Read all about it in the new and slightly improved SSS!
*** Featured Blogs ***
Mizuchi's Blog - Smells like XXXX - Stardate 219.1.5
"Well, it's about bloody time."
Administrator Broxx squinted through the heavy duty goggles at the message showing on the datapad held out to him by his number two. The administrateor was a typical short and stocky Kastorian, cast in the mold both physically and mentally, if the oversize sidearm he carried everywhere was anything to suggest. What a civil administrator of a small orbital relay station would need with a weapon with the stopping power of a Dewiek hunting rifle, yet half the size, was an open question to any sane being. Kastorians had a reputation however which suggested the race may be somewhat less than sane.
Broxx used the rear of his heavy duty gauntlet to wipe away the snot that flowed from his copious nasal passage, the flared openings bearing a slight resemblance to the wheel arches of a trans am. That they were inflamed and an angry red colour intensified the image.
"When are they due again?" Broxx moved the datapad backwards and forwards as if trying to focus on the contents.
His deputy, another short and excessively stocky Kastorian who was wider than he was tall sneezed before replying in a voice which conveyed both anger, regret and a measure of desperation "Within the week sir."
Broxx visibly wilted. To have to possibly wait a full week? The ignominy of it. No amount of $ was worth this much discomfort he mused. Surely it would have been preferable to have taken the offer of employment with the Junta's military, even if that resulted in being sold on to some crazy alien to be deposited on some far rock to be thrown at an entrenched position guarded by some other crazy aliens. A bellow, followed by the sound of escaping gas and a heavy slapping noise from somewhere behind him convinced him that his career path had taken an altogether skewed direction.
His deputy groaned. "That isn't the worst of it sir. There is just a single ship, refitted to carry up to 1100 lifeforms. That will leave us 6000..."
Broxx glared at him through the thick lenses. He may have streaming eyes and a nose that wouldn't stop running and the station may smell like a Mohache pleasure park but he could damned well still count.
How the hell had the Quad Rex escaped their pen?
Who would have believed that the big bastards would have been able to access the food stores and be quick enough to avoid rounding up?
Why was it that that out of everything they could have eaten, the food they actually ate was not wholly compatible with their system?
Being big bastards they ate a lot of the incompatible food and being big bastards they generated a lot of waste. Given that the food was incompatible that waste was both sloppy and extremely smelly and was causing the big bastards to be increasingly flatulent and bad tempered, further hindering the rounding up process.
But, above all that, nobody could have expected that the life support system would struggle with the extra waste and that one of the filtration units would see its biological colony collapse due to the toxins in the waste gases.
Kastorians are nothing if not efficient and they had set to work at capturing the big bastards and repairing the various damage caused, prioritising the filtration system.
But, and here was the galactic punchline, how cruel was life that the Kastorians, forced into close proximity to the poorly big bastards, had picked up a zoonotic disease which just happened to give the normally sturdy folk of Yank the mother of all rapidly developing head colds?
All this had happened yesterday...
Xavier Fox's Blog - Back where he belongs.
Xavier Fox walked to the window and looked out over the starbase sprawled out below. Row upon row of factories spread into the distance, leading to the starport. Everywhere thousands of GTT employees moved around like ants from his lofty position in the GTT boardroom. He’d been away for too long. Even now, after almost 10 years, he found the sight pleasing. A position of power, of duty. The last time he’d looked out over the starbase from this room had been to announce to the board that he’d decided to take very early retirement after amassing more personal wealth than he ever dreamed possible many times over.
But now after so much time, so many new experiences and so many adventures he was back. Back where he belonged. For many years after he left the board had done a great job, he was proud of the officers who had carried the GTT forward, but more recently things had suddenly gone a little amiss. The boardroom was far less well populated than he would have liked, than he had ever seen before. So here he was. A large stake in the corporation had been purchased as it’s shares dipped upon the news of the boardroom resignations. A new adventure lay ahead. Many things in the peripheries had changed, yet the familiar Galactic Trade and Transport branding and quest for profit remained. He smiled to himself. The quest for profit. How he loved that game. He mentally opened a new entry in his personal notebook. Time to prepare the speech for the fellow shareholders he thought. Then the hard work of managing the corporation's assets could start. A file name, hmmm… well that one was obvious. Greed is Good.
HG1's Blog - The Tea Party
Time once again to lick the leaves and put my nail marks on the book I prepare for you, to be read on the day of my retirement. Looking over the browning pages, I know I have done a poor job in giving a full account of how things hang for us. Often I believe I have written of the great discoveries we have made, of the adventures of our explorers amongst the stars, of the terrible dangers we have faced or the curious aliens we have encountered. Then I find that this was only a dream or at best a waking fantasy as I drifted off to sleep. Please, do not be too harsh with me. I have had some wonderful naps in my time and I do not regret any of them.
However, now I cling to a fine bark, the pups are quieter than usual, so I will write. I see their eyes peeping at me as they suck on the pulp of the Qadi fruit. I myself sip my tea and await with equal excitement the great feast of the equinox. The sun's rays are almost wholly blanketed by the silhouette of the Garden. The sweet pungent smell of mulching fibres are everywhere.
What a momentous time! The larval phase of the Gracian project, our Great Expedition, is at its end. The pups care little for this of course. They are excited to meet for themselves the strange aliens who dwell in their burrows as honoured and invited guests. I can't neglect to tell you how strange they are and how wonderful it is to see them with my own eyes. By the time you read this, such novelties may be commonplace.
First to arrive was the Krell Warlord Namica. Despite the title, he is an exceedingly gentle sort, at least to us. He tells of his trials amongst his own kind but whether through a secret tender heart or the battle scars of hard earned wisdom, he shows none of the violence of his past. His manner is a delight and he has accepted the cave we prepared for him with good grace. He curls up in his litter in the heat of the day, as we sing our songs of thankfulness over him. The specially prepared sulphur lamps seem to soothe his furrowed brow. The way he bites his long nails in his sleep reminds me of a swaddling pup. It is wonderful to hear his raspy snores echoing through the vines.
It is a shame that in contrast our efforts to accommodate the Mohache envoy have fallen so short. In Builder of Bridges' doleful brown eyes I sense a longing for the wide open spaces that are in such short supply on Highgrace. Yet, when the subject turns to food, all such apprehension disappears from his face. It positively beams a vociferous joyfulness. I had no idea there was so many possible varieties of food in existence. His protruding stomachs, for I believe he has more than one, are attuned to such subtle gastronomic distinctions that it is hard for me not to share his happiness when he gesticulated wildly through an extended and visceral description of the dishes he has sampled from all across the galaxy.
Our final special visitor is from the species which our kind has found the most difficult to understand. He is, I think, human. Although very diminutive and somewhat strangely hairy for one. Almost upon arrival he expressed a profound fascination with our mating rituals. Often I see him put a looking glass to use in order to examine the swollen glands of our females or the small sacks accompanying the genitals of our males. From what I have been able to surmise about his pod, the DNA, they are especially interested in carnal relations between xenomorphs and have been building asylums where such encounters may be... fruitful.
In all, I cannot think of finer company to enjoy our feast. Forgive me a moments rumination but to me these aliens represent, like us, the very margins of the galaxy, trying to find meaning in its vast emptiness. Separate from the strife and consumption that is so commonplace. Each in their own way is deeply rooted in the organic fabric. Digging, eating, mating and enjoying life. We have much to learn from them and perhaps some small things to teach them. I feel a great empathy for their struggle and through their actions they have shown sympathy with ours. Can this be the foundation of a wider galactic movement towards compassion? Each of our species have built new pods on distant worlds but I still feel there is an unquenched thirst amongst them. A hunger that cannot be sated by new complexes or new starships. One that hangs on meaningful relationships, rich through our differences and strong because of our shared living essence.
Oh forgive me such high-minded and bloated warbling, dear reader. I am just happy. What a good time for a nap.
Later that day...
Special Action/Highgrace/Grand Banquet/219.6
It is with great fanfare, pomp and circumstance that the alien ambassadors are treated to the finest foods and drinks the world has to offer. Some are even palatable. Small talks describes the sweat, blood and tears that goes into farming the produce and the ambassadors get the distinct impression that this may not be quite figuratively speaking (seems the word for burial is the same as composting).
The climax of the event is the presentation of three statues, one of each of the alien ambassadors. First is to KRL Namica who seems quite impressed by the disproportionate size of his snaggle-frong. Next is that of MOH Builder of Bridges, complete with small bridge leading to lots of questions about his preferred styles and techniques of bridge building. The ambassador decides to go for a comfort break. Finally the last statue is presented of the DNA ambassador. This depicts the good Dr Anth becoming familiar with a local procreation pod. Namica decides that Builder of Bridges had the right idea and makes his excuses, taking with him a couple of bottles of what he hopes is alcohol.
Greymane's Blog - A Darklight of the Soul - Part One
“The Outdweller’s main rebel fleet has entered Darklight, Wolf Lord.”
“What? That was faster than I expected. Damn. Fleet summary?”
“Initial scans show just over one hundred Direwolves plus a dozen or so support ships, all in various states of repair. We moved to intercept and open up radio contact but three hundred more capital ships uncloaked to our rear and are closing on the orbit of Dusk. A trap? Orders to open fire?”
Greymane growled and slammed a cybernetically reinforced, clawed fist into the console desk causing it to spark with static and shut down with an indignant, unimpressive bleep. It was not entirely surprising that such a significant number of captains had followed the former fleet commander into exile but it made apprehending Lyceum a lot more complicated.
Despite the obvious challenge, Greymane refused to have a thousand ship Dewiek civil war as part of his Saga if he could help it. He had a more subtle plan in mind.
“Hold formation for now. Do not fire, but protect the orbit aggressively. They must not secure air superiority under any circumstances. I need three hours. Understood?”
“Wolf Lord Greymane. Before you go there’s something else...
“Bad news - more bad news: Initial reports are claiming that Lyceum has already captured most of the city. I’m getting news that a large commando force landed before first light and has control over the command, hiport, security and dock complexes.”
Greymane sighed and swore. His plan had started out more subtle anyway…
He was soon transferred to a Shadow Wolf in the outer ring of Darklight from where it cloaked into Ulfdallir’s quadrant. From there, the Wolf Lord descended to the surface of Dusk in a drop pod, accompanied by a small, elite squad of veteran troops and the finest scouts he could assemble.
Greymane moved methodically through the maelstrom, personally leading the slow doorway-to-doorway clearance operation; blasting his way through dimly lit streets and storming barricaded alleyways during the bitter, painstaking counter attack. His old friend was cornered but still deadly and he knew every corner of this place.
Body parts of Lyceum’s monstrous half-Meklan, lightly armed followers lay scattered along the paved roads. Greymane knew his mission was to kill the entrenched rebel force in its entirety and return the city back to the Dewiek Elder Nation’s full control. Lyceum was to be arrested – if possible – and brought for trial before the High Council.
As they slowly advanced, his officers press-ganged troops from Lyceum’s own former pack into joining the counter assault. As confused news of the Outdweller’s lightning invasion spread, more and more of Ulfdallir’s former loyal garrison sought to join Greymane against its erstwhile wolf lord - it’s beloved former Alpha. Fights were now breaking out all over the planet and were threatening to spill into the rest of the system.
A small part of Greymane flickered with hope that he could save his friend, even as the death toll and the list of crimes mounted and the chances of redemption faded. The empathetic misery and chaos of the battle lay heavy in his heart, but his focus to serve the Nation remained undimmed.
The ad-hoc pack fought deeper and deeper into the base’s subterranean maze of tightly packed complexes as the net closed in.
To the hunters, to the Dewiek in battle that day, the stench of Meklan on Lyceum and his remaining warped, halfling pack was unmistakable, despite the accrid smoke, as large swathes of what was left of the ancient, original part of the city burned. The gutters of the noble citadel running red with blood and it’s ornate towers crumbled to dust. Former pack brothers, comrades and family members fighting a frenzied battle to the death. To lack a Dewiek’s innate Empathy, to be part Meklan was to be already dead. There was no debate. No mercy.
Greymane’s hunting instinct had led a trail deep into the inner, heavily fortified military zone where they had now cornered Lyceum, laying siege to his heavily fortified command centre.
The final assault was short but bloody and Lyceum’s defenders took a heavy toll on Greymane’s troops. Greymane himself now nearly blind with an ache in his brain pulsing in agony and a thick, heavy blanket of depression.
These monstrosities were no longer Meklan, but not quite Dewiek. Greymane’s memory flashed back to Fecunditatus, what felt like a lifetime ago, where he had been forced to kill that atrophied pack of semi-feral Dewiek and his mood darkened even further. There seemed always to be a darkness at the heart of the Dewiek story.
The young Wolf Lord stode forward, stepping over the fallen from both sides – Malmrhöggva was coated with blood, gore and fine electronics and he dragged a body behind him. Greymane approached Lyceum and tossed the limp body at the feet of his old friend. It was the mutilated corpse of one of Kala’s scientists, shards of thick timber still nailed to her limbs.
“What have you done?” Greymane’s voice was quiet, full of sadness and confusion, then it raised to battlefield projection as he swept his arm to encompass the dead Dewiek warriors littering the floor around them.
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?”
Kala's Blog - Between Hell, a Noose and Heaven
Kala sat cross-legged before an effigy she had made of the Wolf Mother. She was rocking back and forth slowly as she whispered a prayer and every now and then would stop and write something down.
Behind her she heard the key turn in the cell door and a squeal as the heavy portal opened. A sprightly guard walked in, Kala could sense the others beyond, could smell the fuel of the flame thrower. They were taking no chances.
"Good morning Wolf Lord prisoner."
"Good morning Wrathbine. I hope you are well?"
"Better than one of your mongrel scientists," he placed a tray on the table and picked up a picture she had sketched.
"Very nice, a local scene?"
"A planet I hope to visit again. What has the chef prepared today?"
"An oddity I am afraid. Live Jinja beetles, including a queen. You can tell by the carapace."
Kala sat up and pulled back her cowl.
"Well that is something new. I shall look forward to this. Most definitely."
"If you don't mind me saying, you are a strange one."
"That is fine. My compliments to the chef."
Kala waited until the door was shut and locked and started to eat the lesser beetles. After a while she held the queen in her hand and stared at it. It's eye opened and a micro scan beam flashed her.
"Identity confirmed. Phase two proceeding. Samples have been inserted."
She smiled and ate the beetle.
Soon, she grinned internally, her experiment would be ready.
*** Game News ***
Mica shared some videos from the pubmeet about what Phoenix is.
The long awaited issue 29 of the IGN was published here.
*** Affiliations ***
AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - Yahn Wodenzoon
DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - Aadolf
DOM Dominion (57) - bcd
ERC Eldar Rawk Conclave (83) - RAO
FCN Falconian Republic (70) - Crius Grimtail
FEA Felini Elamite Autonomy (60) - Kr'Shan
FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Mrrshan
FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
GRC Gracians - HG1
GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
HEX Hexamon (23) - Ando
IMP Imperial Services (51) - Tiberius Crowe
KRL Krell (30) - Namica
MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
MOH Mohache (73) - Listens
RCF The Red Confederate Forces - ???
RRH Roy Robert Holdings (39) - Roy Roberts
SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
USN Ulian Stellar Nation (34) - Oedipus Prime
WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz
NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, GRC, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS
Inactive: ANT, BHD, COD, HVE, IDC, RIP, SKW, TAG
Deceased: CAL, NLF, MIC, KRT, KST
*** Submission ***
By private message to The Editor.