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Utopia: Commune of Cult?
Simguru Pranav Antal's vision of Utopia has taken the galaxy by storm, with recent estimates suggesting that 91.8 billion have joined the movement, and shows no signs of slowing down. Many are attracted by the commune's experimental tech and high standards of living, as well as the ideal of a better society.
But is everything as it seems? A few former utopians, who asked to remain anonymous, have come forward with disturbing testimonies. One young man said: "My sister and I lived on a Federation fringe world. Life's hard on the frontier, and we travelled to Utopia to find work. Everything was great at first – we had employment, free accommodation – but then my sister got a position assisting the local overseer. She found out they were kidnapping people and locking them up for questioning or disagreeing with Antal's wisdom. It's run like a cult. I told her not to confront them... Now I don't know where my sister is, or if I'll ever see her again."
When one of Antal's senior aides was confronted with these accusations, they appeared shocked: "Simguru Antal would never condone such practices. These are false accusations, intended to discredit Utopia, from those who have not reached enlightenment. Visitors are welcome to view our sim-archives at any time, and experience what life as a pilgrim is truly like."
Commander Stateira "Starcloak" Eleshenar
Regulus Observer | Interstellar Press
Core Dynamics has Links to VP's Death?
In another shocking revelation the Federal Times today posted a story highlighting possible links between a non-exec member of the board of Core Dynamics and Vice President Nigel Smeaton’s death. They first referenced an interview on January 28th with Congressman George Fallside who appeared to have early knowledge of the Vice President’s death. The Congressman refused to comment on the article, but it is public knowledge of his non-executive directorship of Core Dynamics and several other major arms manufacturers.
More damning was the evidence concerning one of the crew of the Starship One, Flight Engineer Nick Baron, who had previously worked at Core Dynamics before joining the President’s Crew. From the information package sent by Elaine Boyd after her death, the Federal Times published extracts of financial records of the flight engineer.
When tracing these records through a convoluted series of transfers, one of these transfers was through a shell corporation , in which Congressman Fallside was involved. The trail of the payments revealed that Boyd must have obtained a high level clearance access, possibly provided by Agent Monroe.
When asked about today’s story, the Chief Editor for the Federal Times commented:
“There does appear to have been a conspiracy on several levels. We believe that the destruction of the Highliner Antares so many years ago may not have been an accident. When the Vice President was investigating the death of his relative, he must have discovered some of these details, and possible the dark forces killed him, and when our reporter Elaine Boyd did the same, she too was silenced. We are still not clear how it relates to the present day. Our reporters continue to investigate.
“At the Federal Times we always seek the truth and we will discover the truth here.”
Core Dynamics Issues Statement Regarding Recent Controversy
Yesterday’s revelations from the Federal Times concerning an alleged connection between a high ranking member of the Core Dynamics board and the Highliner Antares incident have finally prompted an official response from the ship manufacturer.
“Core Dynamics takes the safety of space flight very seriously and would never deliberately act to jeopardise our own or any other corporations’ development. It is hard to accept that anyone from our company would act in such a manner. Given the gravity of the accusations the accused non-executive board member has agreed to step aside while we investigate. We have requested that the Federal Times share their information with us so that a full investigation into the matter can be carried out.”
Congressman George Fallside is the only named person in the article. When asked about the Congressman’s connection with the company and his apparent knowledge of the Vice President’s death before it had been announced the spokesman responded:
“Any impropriety by any member of the board will be fully investigated. I cannot comment on Vice President Nigel Smeaton’s death. My understanding it that has already been investigated by the relevant authorities.”
The Chief Editor for the Federal Times confirmed that they would share the information they had with the Sirius Corporation, Core Dynamics and appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Public Viewing of Emperor Hengist Duval Ceases
Today was the last day for the millions of mourners to pay their respects to the Emperor in the Hall of Martyrs. In the past month an estimated seven million mourners arrived on Capitol and have waited in line to enter the vestibule where the Emperor’s body has lain.
Of those millions fewer than half were able to actually see the Emperor despite the dedicated efforts of the Imperial Palace curators. Holographic shrines were placed along the queue of the people waiting, although some of the crowd complained that this broke tradition.
The queue reached such a size that the military had to be called in to maintain order from flashes of violence flaring up. Although apart from a few cases the offences were quite minor as befitting the sombre mood. Food, shelter and medical care also needed to be provided and many of the waiting people praised the efforts of the naval infantry.
For the rest of the day the troops will be busy again, this time clearing the route already filled with the waiting citizens in preparation for tomorrow’s funeral.
Emperor Hengist Duval's Funeral
The funeral of Emperor Hengist Duval, the 15th Emperor in the Duval line, took place today amidst a crowd of millions on Capitol in the Achenar system.
Mourners from all over the Empire lined the streets of Capitol. All over the city, the streets were filled to bursting and in a sombre reflection of the wedding a month ago, the white dress uniforms of the Imperial Naval Infantry lined the streets.
In a last minute change to tradition, the funeral procession followed a longer route through the city so that as many of the assembled mourners as possible could witness the passing of their Emperor. The procession marched at a sedate pace and was led by selected members of the Imperial Guard carrying the Emperor.
In another break from tradition and despite her age, Florence Lavigny walked directly behind the coffin even though the marriage ceremony hadn’t been completed. This has raised eyebrows among some of the more conservative members of Imperial society.
Behind the lonely widow marched the immediate family and then the members of the Senate. Behind the most powerful senators came certain patrons, the most well-considered of their station with a direct connection to the Emperor. Next were the clients and citizens and, representing the full range of the Imperial population, these were followed by some of the Emperor’s favourite slaves – which by tradition were set free after the ceremony.
The procession stretched for almost 18 kilometres and took seven hours to complete its tour of the city. Soldiers along the route provided welcome refreshment for both the procession and the crowd. When the procession returned to the Hall of Martyrs, the senators followed inside for the private internment ceremony. Across the Empire, in households and public places, the Feast of Remembering began.
A sombre hush settled across the city for most of the day, but now that the Emperor has been laid to rest, the question everyone wants to know the answer to is – who will be the next Emperor?
Utopia: More Than a Cult?
Spokespeople for Utopia have responded to recent accusations that dissidents in systems under their control are being roughly treated.
"I've been saddened by recent publications that describe the Utopia movement as a cult or oppressive theocracy," Utopia futurologist Dr Saeed McNamara said. "All societies have disruptive elements who threaten the stability of the whole, but I like to think we take a more humane approach to dealing with them than others.
“Rather than enslaving or oppressing disruptive elements, or shipping them off to penal colonies to break rocks for the rest of their lives, we introduce our problem citizens to revolutionary simulation technology designed to increase their empathy for their fellow men and women. Criminals and dissidents aren't evil – they've just become disconnected from society. We've proved time and again that seeing the world through the eyes of others, through technology, can be a healing experience."
Dr McNamara declined to elaborate further on the nature of Utopia's corrective sims, or to address rumours that those subjected to these treatments manifest radically altered personalities.
The Hutton Mug
The words “I made it to Hutton Orbital” carry a certain amount of weight among pilots. As seasoned navigators know, the starport lies approximately 0.22 light years from the nearest star – a significant stretch by anyone’s standards – and it is not unusual for novice pilots, having failed to check the distance from Alpha Centauri to Hutton Orbital, to run out of fuel long before they reach the station.
Completing ‘The Hutton Run’, as the journey is sometimes called, is therefore a badge of honour among pilots, an achievement that distinguishes the amateur from the professional.
Now, a company called BlipMagnet has decided to capitalise on this phenomenon with the Hutton mug, a commemorative beaker bearing the legend (you guessed it) ‘I made it to Hutton Orbital'. The novelty item is available only at the starport, and the company no doubt hopes it will appeal to those who want to commemorate their epic journey.
BlipMagnet claims (presumably only half seriously) that the mug is made from “the salvaged frame shift drive plates of ships that ran out of fuel before reaching the station”. In fact, the company has issued an appeal for scrap materials with which to produce their next batch, and is offering anyone who delivers such materials their very own Hutton mug. Whether this will motivate those not normally inclined to undertake such punishing expeditions, or result in an epidemic of stranded pilots throughout the Alpha Centauri system, remains to be seen.
Memorial in the Heavens
Commander Sataris, a member of the East India Company, was recently honoured by an anonymous benefactor. To commemorate his mother’s recent passing, the rights to register a planet in her name were purchased from Universal Cartography.
Cynthia Sideris, chairwoman of Universal Cartography, read a statement from the anonymous benefactor:
“Commander Sataris has served with distinction, valour and honour in all his duties, regardless of the circumstances. In honour of his late mother, rights have been purchased to rechristen a world in the BD+26 2184 system as ‘Kathy McBrayer’. Any mother capable of rearing a son like Sataris is well deserving of such a memorial. Kathy is an example to us all.”
Commander Sataris responded by saying: "I invite all members of the Pilots Federation to visit the memorial planet Kathy McBrayer in BD+26 2184.”
Chairwoman Sideris said that Universal Cartography will finalize the change to the planet’s name in the coming weeks.
Jameson Memorial Review | Interstellar Press
Chancellor Blaine Opens Senate Debate
With the sombre echo of Emperor Hengist Duval still resonating throughout Capitol, the Senate reopened today to deliberate how the question of succession will be resolved. Chancellor Anders Blaine opened the discussion:
“Without a clear line of succession, we have a solemn duty to decide who will rule the Empire in these fractious times. It is clear that our beloved Emperor wished for Senator Arissa Lavigny-Duval to become heir and so, when the time came, become Emperor. That time has now come, but the law does not allow us to honour his wishes. Instead, we must follow the rules set out for us by centuries of law and tradition.
“The Senate has one month to determine who will be the 16th ruler to sit on the Imperial throne. The candidate must be of royal blood or of royal marriage, and must have a clear majority backing of the Senate in the final count. The final tally will be taken on October the 5th.
“Personally, I would urge the senators present to consider the Emperor’s intentions carefully. I knew him well, and I know that everything he did was for the good of the Empire.”
The city has almost recovered from the massive influx of mourners, and the streets are once again clear of the press of humanity. Now the question on everyone’s lips is: who will be the next to occupy the Great Throne?
Core Dynamics Unveils New Gunship
Core Dynamics has a long-running association with the Federation, having produced everything from the humble Eagle to the mighty Farragut Battle Cruiser for the Federal Navy. Their latest offering, the Federal Gunship, is a sturdy combat vessel designed to provide the Federation with a superior fighter escort.
The natural comparison point for the new Gunship is the Federal Dropship, which offers a similar balance of features, but with a total of seven external hardpoints – two small, four medium and one large – and advanced armour and shields, the Gunship boasts a stronger combat profile than the Dropship, as well as offering better internal hardpoint quality.
This combat superiority comes at a cost, however, as the ship has an inferior flight model to that of the Federal Dropship, with a top speed of 170 and a boost speed of 280. It is fair to say, however, that speed and manoeuvrability were probably not chief among the Federation’s concerns when the ship was designed. This is a vessel that has been created to dominate other ships, rather than outpace or outmanoeuvre them.
The Federal Gunship is expected to retail at 45,814,000 CR, and will be available to all pilots holding the rank of Ensign or above in the Federal Navy Auxiliary.
Imperial Veteran Sceptical about Patreus's Campaign
Imperial senator Denton Patreus has taken a strong stance on Emperor’s Dawn, condemning the organisation and vowing to eradicate it from the galaxy, but responses to his statements have so far been mixed. Some have speculated that he is simply trying to curry public favour, while others have suggested he is attempting to draw attention away from his connection to Brendan Paul Darius, the emperor’s assassin.
Now, the senator’s assertions have been questioned by a source from within the Empire itself - General Anthony Corvus of the Imperial Navy. In a statement given to the Imperial Herald, the general said:
“We are clearly dealing with a well-organised and highly motivated cell organisation, and despite Denton Patreus’s optimism, in my opinion it is too early to make any predictions about its suppression. I have dealt with similar organisations in the past, and they can be surprisingly hard to extinguish. No sooner have you dealt with one cell, another appears somewhere else.”
Senator Patreus was approached for a response to the general’s words, but declined to comment.
The Truth about Emperor's Dawn
As the campaign against Emperor’s Dawn escalates, captured materials have revealed more about the group and its aims to destabilise imperial society.
Reporters from a number of respected imperial newsfeeds, including the Imperial Herald, were invited to inspect some of the seized information. At first the reporters were surprised by how innocuous the material appeared. Taken at face value, it seemed to espouse beliefs and traditions supported by many throughout the Empire, despite the rather extreme tone. The propaganda became more sinister, however, when it elaborated on how these beliefs would ideally be enforced. Some of the items included speeches denouncing the Emperor and his ‘complicity in the erosion of tradition’. Elsewhere, demands were made to remove the Emperor so that someone more fitting could take his place. So far, nothing has been revealed about who the group considers a proper candidate for Emperor.
New Combat Fighter from Gutamaya Shipyards
One of the defining characteristics of the Eagle Mk II is its peerless manoeuvrability, so when it was announced that the successor to the popular fighter would be less manoeuvrable than the ship it was replacing, eyebrows were raised. It seems, however, that there was little cause for concern, as while the new Eagle doesn’t quite rival its predecessor in terms of agility, it outclasses it in virtually all other respects.
Not only is the new Eagle faster than its predecessor, with a top speed of 300 and a boost speed of 400, it is also has a superior combat profile, boasting advanced armour and shields, and with the small hardpoint of the Mk II replaced with a medium hardpoint. These new features are supported by an improved power plant, although these enhancements do of course mean extra weight, resulting in a base jump range of 10 LY.
The other major change introduced with the new Eagle is that it has been manufactured by Gutamaya Shipyards rather than Core Dynamics, who produced the Eagle Mk II. The result, as one might expect, is a sleeker, more elegant vessel, albeit one that has retained the menacing profile of the earlier model. Additionally, the vessel has been produced specifically for the Imperial Navy, meaning that pilots will need to hold a rank of Outsider or above in the Imperial Navy to fly it.
The Imperial Eagle is expected to retail at 110,825 CR.
Emperor's Dawn Bases Discovered
According to the office of Senator Denton Patreus, Imperial intelligence has discovered several bases belonging to Emperor’s Dawn. Senator Patreus, who is leading the campaign against Emperor’s Dawn, has issued a statement confirming that he is initiating a combat operation designed to destroy the insurrectionists. The senator made the following announcement to the press:
“We are not dealing merely with treasonous sentiments here – we are dealing with a violent organisation that has shown itself willing and able to commit truly heinous acts. They have already taken the life of our beloved Emperor - where might their misguided rage fall next? We must act swiftly and decisively if we are to eliminate this threat to the Empire.”
Imperial forces have been mobilised for the operation, but independent pilots are also being called on to lend their aid. Senator Patreus is offering generous rewards to those who contribute to the campaign.
Emperor's Dawn Issues Request for Supplies
As news spreads that Senator Denton Patreus has launched a military operation against Emperor’s Dawn, journalists at The Imperial Citizen report that the insurgent group has issued a public appeal for commodities. Significantly, the goods the group has requested – progenitor cells and narcotics – are illegal in many jurisdictions.
Emperor’s Dawn has not explained its need for these commodities, but given its militant stance it can be safely assumed that the goods will used in its ongoing campaign against the Empire. The organisation is understood to have set up delivery points at starports in the Ipilyaqa and Ch’i Lin systems.
The Empire has not issued a response to the appeal, but it is likely that it will implore the public to ignore the request. But with so many independent traders in the galaxy, many of whom have no particular loyalty to the Empire, it seems inevitable that at least some will answer the call of Emperor’s Dawn.
Kumo Crew to Target Lavigny-Duval
Systems under the sway of Arissa Lavigny-Duval have begun expressing discontent at the current political situation in the Empire, and the Kumo Crew is taking the opportunity to cause trouble of their own.
Leaked military intelligence indicates that hundreds of Kumo Crew fleets will soon descend on Imperial territory in an effort to cultivate further civil unrest. The plan is apparently to force Duval into admitting the foolishness of the Pegasi War by bringing it as close to home as possible.
Operation Uranus saw the Kumo Crew pirates target worlds under the influence of Senator Denton Patreus, but this is the first time they have been bold enough to strike farther afield. Only time will tell what impact this will have on the Imperial power players.
The People's Princess Speaks
At a public charity event in which several dozen slaves were granted their freedom, Princess Aisling Duval took the opportunity to speak about the succession.
“It seems peculiar that as the closest living relative of our beloved Emperor, I am not involved in the process of selecting his successor. It is even stranger that there is a process at all - after all, I am the natural heir.”
Her attempt to gloss over the legality of her claim has sparked angry rebuttals from legal experts and the camps of the other likely candidates. When we spoke to people on the street, however, we encountered almost universal support for the Princess. One Capitol resident told us:
“I’m all for tradition, but we have to move with the times. Princess Aisling Duval understands what we need to do, and has the youthful vigour to make that happen.”
A Week in Powerplay
Aisling Duval has once again topped the powerplay rankings, as extraordinarily low opposition to the people’s princess, combined with sufficient fortification, has allowed her to excel above all others this week.
Zachary Hudson has demonstrated an ability to stand firm against overwhelming opposition. Undermining in over thirty systems was cancelled and extended the protection of the Federation fleet to several more, and Hudson’s rise to second place is well warranted this week.
Arissa Lavigny-Duval’s rising administrative costs, accompanied by shrewd undermining, has led to turmoil in seven systems this week. An increased emphasis on meaningful fortification is clearly needed to maintain the senator’s sway over her vast territory.
Edmund Mahon has again guided the Alliance into prosperity. Careful fortification has secured Alliance borders, although the Alliance saw more opposition than the Empire. Prime Minister Mahon is now poised to offer citizenship to several key systems in the coming week.
Felicia Winters, much like Hudson, weathered above-average undermining, but in spite of this she proved her resilience by providing humanitarian aid to one star cluster while maintaining a comfortable command capital reserve.
Denton Patreus, ever the smooth operator, balanced his budgets nearly perfectly this week. Evading a deficit, his fleets now occupy control spheres in two additional locations.
Li Yong-Rui has led Sirius Gov back into the black. Shrewd leadership, cutbacks, and the diligent labours of Sirius representatives have yielded a large command capital reserve. With an optimistic outlook, SiriusGov is poised to extend its influence once more in its corner of space.
Zemina Torval has made a recovery from recent weeks of turmoil and the reduction of her portfolio. The senator now looks to end a long period of contraction in her enterprises through the acquisition of key systems.
Archon Delaine’s lean forces have again amassed enough command capital to stir up insurrections in several systems. Although the Kumo Crew was rebuffed in its attempts to overthrow Federation and Imperial systems, a surge in criminal activity was reported in several more systems.
Pranav Antal’s quiet commune succeeded in sharing the vision of Utopia with the inhabitants of Miki and the surrounding systems, and his people now hope to bring these systems into the fold. With no systems undermined this week, Pranav’s people are clearly the embodiment of Utopia.
Research into Strange Objects Begins
A Federal research programme has been established to study the strange objects discovered in a number of systems, including Tanmark and HIP 102128, it was announced today. The project is being led by Professor Ishmael Palin, formerly of the Homeland Scientific Council.
The first of the objects was discovered some months ago, with further objects being found in the weeks that followed. Those who have seen the artefacts first-hand report that they are reminiscent of biological forms, consisting of a spherical bulb-like element connected to a number of cylindrical capsules. Some have even suggested they might be life forms in their own right.
Aside from their unusual structure, the objects – referred to by some as 'unknown artefacts' and dubbed 'anomalous extraterrestrial objects' (or 'AEOs') by Professor Palin and his team – are believed to have the capacity to damage nearby machinery, although exactly how this occurs is not fully understood. This has made transport of the objects problematic, as they can inflict significant damage on a ship’s cargo hold, and on adjacent ship’s systems.
Naturally, speculation concerning the objects has been rife, and there appears to be significant evidence that they are of non-human origin. Professor Palin refused to be drawn on the subject, however, saying:
“A discovery of this kind represents an event of major scientific interest, and I am delighted to have been asked to lead this research project. It would be imprudent of me to speculate on the objects’ origin or purpose. Suffice it to say that my team and I will be subjecting the artefacts to rigorous examination over the coming weeks, and I very much look forward to sharing our discoveries with the scientific community.”
Imperial Slave Regulations Proposed
Following the recent audit of the Imperial Slave Association, the Imperial Senate Audit Committee has recommended the introduction of further regulations governing the treatment and transportation of Imperial slaves.
The proposed regulations centre on improved vetting of commanders permitted to transport Imperial slaves, and include the suggestion that pilots must hold the rank of ‘Master’ in the Imperial Navy as a minimum requirement. It is also suggested that resources be set aside for the recovery of Imperial slaves transported and sold outside the Imperium.
Svetlana Zhukov, chairwoman of the ISA, voiced her support for the regulations:
“It is our duty to ensure that Imperial citizens serving terms as slaves remain within the borders of the Empire until they are returned to full citizenship. Our hope is that these new regulations will ensure the rights of Imperial Slaves are not trampled on by those unscrupulous enough to sell people for quick credits."
Political commentators have expressed doubt that the proposed regulations will be approved, but many remain hopeful.
Capitol Herald | Interstellar Press
Vice President's Investigation Data Found
A spokesman for Vice President Nigel Smeaton’s family revealed today that a concealed data chit had been recently discovered among his personal belongings. The information stored on the device was encrypted but with the assistance of technicians at the Federal Times they were able to extract some of the information.
The spokesman stated that the data would not be made public at this time, but some of the information might enable the authorities to locate the wreckage of the Highliner Antares. The data has been handed over to the Sirius Corporation as well as investigating officers.
The family’s spokesman declined to answer any questions.
Senator Arissa Lavigny-Duval Calls Impromptu Press Conference
After the day’s Senate deliberations finished, Senator Arissa Lavigny-Duval stopped to answer questions from the assembled reporters. When asked what she considered the most important issue facing the Empire, she replied:
“Most of all the Empire needs stability and continuity. I was privileged to spend some time with Emperor Hengist Duval after he recovered from his coma. He shared with me a vision in which the Empire continues to build on its strengths of justice and tradition.
“It saddens me greatly that anyone, especially someone considering themselves an imperial citizen, could bring an end to such a great man. I consider it my duty to make sure that his vision becomes a reality.”
When asked if that meant she considered herself the heir to the Emperor’s throne, she stated:
“The decision of who will become Emperor is in the hands of the Senate. There are many suitable candidates, and I am honoured to be among them. Whether or not I am crowned, I will continue to work toward the future that Hengist Duval shared with me.”
Munshin Announces Plan to Aid Refugees
Officials at Ocrinox's Orbiter held a press conference earlier today to announce their intention to build a state-of-the-art resettlement facility for refugees of the Pegasi Pirate War.
"We recognize the plight of their friends in the Pegasi Sector, and extend our welcome to all those who wish to settle here. We encourage all those who have access to transport to come to Ocrinox's Orbiter. You were promised citizenship – citizenship you shall have. You were promised protection – protection you shall have. You left home to seek a new life – a new life you shall have."
The plan leans heavily on three aspects of the Munshin system: distance from the war, readily available food and jobs, and the necessary infrastructure to support a large population surge.
Reports also indicate that officials at Ocrinox's Orbiter have sent messages to the Pilots Federation and Princess Aisling Duval asking for urgent delivery of medical supplies.
Kumo Operation to Hit Aisling Duval
Ever the opportunists, Kumo Crew commanders have swept across a number of systems controlled by Arissa Lavigny-Duval in the last seven days. They penetrated deeper than in any previous skirmish, and elevated the level of danger faced by Imperial citizens as a result of the Pegasi Pirate War.
With turmoil affecting billions of Imperial citizens and sweeping them into the ongoing saga, Commanders and tacticians have begun to realise that the conflict has taken on a new dimension. Leaked intelligence indicates that as the week draws to a close, Archon will focus his attention on planets and stations pledged to Aisling Duval.
With Kumo Crew attacks imminent, the Empire must decide how to best fortify its strongholds against further incursion while trying to stem their enemy’s momentum. What was once thought of as a simple operation now draws on the strength and resources of a thousand worlds.
Frontline Report: The War against Emperor's Dawn
Four days ago, Imperial senator Denton Patreus launched a military campaign against Emperor’s Dawn, the organisation responsible for the murder of Emperor Hengist Duval. Since then, there has been intense conflict in the Dakshmandi and Maausk systems, where two Emperor’s Dawn bases are located, with scores of Imperial Navy vessels and Emperor’s Dawn ships exchanging fire.
Journalist Katherine Ryder, who has reported from war zones across the galaxy in a career spanning more than twenty years, recently met with one of the Imperial generals leading the campaign. In a report for the Imperial Herald, she described the unfolding conflict between the Empire and Emperor’s Dawn:
“Against the crisp darkness of space drifts a Majestic-Class Interdictor, its elegant lines belying the deadly power of its artillery. A few hours ago, the ship was deep within the Dakshmandi system, overseeing the deployment of Imperial squadrons tasked with rooting out and destroying Emperor’s Dawn vessels. For the people of the Dakshmandi and Maausk systems, the arrival of the Imperial fleets has proved divisive: some see the Empire as a saviour, while others fear that the conflict it has incited will do only harm.”
“On the bridge of this stately vessel I meet General Anthony Corvus, the military veteran who recently voiced scepticism about Denton Patreus’s campaign. He describes the insurgents as disciplined and methodical, capable of delivering systematic, targeted strikes. With what sounds almost like admiration, he refers to their steely resolve, telling me that no matter how many Emperor’s Dawn ships his pilots destroy, the rebels’ morale never appears to waver. He also mentions the many hundreds of independent pilots who have boosted the insurrectionists’ numbers. Evidently, he says, the Empire’s enemies see this conflict as an opportunity to deal a blow to the superpower.”
“The general’s remarks highlight a facet of the campaign underscored by Denton Patreus’s critics – namely that the senator has underestimated Emperor’s Dawn, assuming that the mere sight of an Imperial battle fleet would demoralise the insurgents. In reality, Patreus has found himself drawn into a protracted battle against a disciplined and apparently imperturbable enemy. No one questions the Empire’s ability to bring significant firepower to the conflict, but even the Empire’s resources are not inexhaustible. If it does not gain an advantage soon, it may have to consider temporarily withdrawing from the conflict, and devising a different strategy.”
Imperial Internal Security Service Issues another Appeal
In a repeat of the events of last month, the Imperial Internal Security Service – the organisation responsible for domestic security throughout the Empire – has issued a second public appeal for exploration data. This time, however, the IISS is being explicitly clear about the reasons for the request. In a statement to the media, Agent Cope of the IISS said:
“It is clear to us that the insurgent organisation Emperor’s Dawn represents a significant threat to the Empire, and it is therefore essential that its ability to inflict harm on Imperial assets and citizens be neutralised as quickly as possible. To this end, the IISS has authorised the Cemiess Empire Party to reimburse any pilots providing reliable exploration data. This data will be used to locate bases belonging to Emperor’s Dawn.”
Independent pilots interested in participating in this effort should deliver exploration data to Mackenzie Relay in the Cemiess system.
Did Aisling Duval Know About Emperor's Dawn?
In a devastating exposé released earlier today, the Imperial Herald has published details of alleged links between the secretive group backing Princess Aisling Duval and some of the funding sources for the Emperor’s Dawn insurgency. While a direct connection between Princess Aisling and the insurgency is not alleged, there does appear to be a connection to senior members of the Princess’s inner council.
Most notable of these is the patron and industrialist Damon Clarke. The Herald has found evidence that D and C Shipping, Inc., one of Clarke’s companies, apparently funded and organised weapon shipments to people now known to be members of Emperor’s Dawn three years ago.
It is not known at this time whether there has been any recent contact between Clarke’s company and these individuals, or how this relates to the assassination of Emperor Hengist Duval. Patron Damon Clarke was unavailable for comment, but a spokesman for the company said:
“We are an interstellar shipping company, making thousands of shipments for clients each day. We are approved to transport weapons where such shipments are legal, and we occasionally do so. We do not comment on individual transactions. If a former client later became a terrorist, that is certainly abhorrent, but it is hardly the fault of D and C Shipping, Inc.”
A Week in Powerplay
Edmund Mahon has led the Alliance to prosperity this week, surpassing all other major powers. New interstellar agreements have extended the Alliance’s areas of governance, while diligent legislative reports allowed the Prime Minister to effectively withstand attempts to undermine his authority. The Alliance now looks forward to a period of unprecedented prosperity.
Zachary Hudson’s fleets weathered a massive storm this week, while successfully beating back the highest levels opposition the Federation’s President has seen. As defensive fleets executed their orders with diligence, offensive task forces pressed on the pain points of the Federation’s rivals. Hudson has made it clear that challenges to his authority will not be tolerated.
Felicia Winters has consistently proven her ability to defy the odds, and this week was no exception. Withstanding the established norm of heavy opposition, the Shadow President’s couriers busied themselves with the distribution of aid packages throughout her sphere of influence. Her people now stand ready to extend Federation aid to additional systems.
Aisling Duval’s publicity machine suffered minor setbacks late this week, resulting in a drop in standing. Sources close to the ‘People’s Princess’ have pledged to organise media blitzes in thousands of systems. It remains to be seen whether the lost standing will be recovered, although her supporters are, as always, optimistic.
Arissa Lavigny-Duval’s hard stance against crime was rejected by seven control systems this week, representing roughly 10% of systems previously governed by the senator. Five additional control systems are petitioning for an end to Senator Lavigny-Duval’s administration. The loss of these systems may prove to be a double-edged sword, however, as their maintenance has historically required a disproportionate amount of administrative effort.
Lee Yong-Rui’s Sirius Corp spent its assets with prudence this week, making deals in several systems. Negotiations are still pending, but the prospect of further acquisitions has noticeably driven up the company’s stocks in financial markets, and shrewd investors would do well to take heed.
Denton Patreus perfectly balanced yet another weekly budget, leaving him with insufficient capital to expand or prepare any systems this week. Having experienced relatively low opposition in his own territory, Patreus focused his efforts on destroying Emperor’s Dawn. With analysts predicting that the conflict will last at least another week, the absence of distractions such as subjugating additional systems may allow the senator to effectively stamp out the traitorous elements within his territory.
Zemina Torval’s enterprises have shown promising signs of economic recovery. The shrewd businesswoman has expanded her control in Imperial space for the first time in weeks. Careful planning has ensured that Senator Torval now rests on a comfortable cushion of command capital, and wise preparation and expansion may allow her to rise further in standing.
Pranav Antal has built up his standing this week through his characteristic peaceful approach, standing in stark contrast to his neighbour in the Pegasi Sector. Utopia and the Simguru rejoiced this week as the Miki system joined the commune. Utopia’s holdings now match those of Senator Torval.
Archon Delaine’s excursions into Imperial territory contributed to the turmoil now faced by Arissa Lavigny-Duval and Aisling Duval. The successes of the expeditionary fleets came at the cost of expanding his dominion. Ever the opportunist, Archon Delaine now stands poised to overthrow neglected Federation systems bordering the Pegasi Sector.
Hutton Mug Appeal Successful
A few weeks ago, the novelties manufacturer BlipMagnet announced the release of the Hutton Mug – a commemorative beaker sporting the words “I made it to Hutton Orbital”. The item was designed to appeal to those completing the epic journey to Hutton Orbital, which lies approximately 0.22 light years from the nearest star. The concept proved highly appealing, and thousands of independent pilots made the trek to Hutton Orbital to deliver scrap materials for BlipMagnet’s first batch. Following the success of this event, the director of BlipMagnet, Chase Fulbright, released a statement:
“You guys are awesome! I was so psyched by your response to our appeal. The good news is we’ve got more than enough material for our next run – the bad news is there are a few infrastructure issues we need to address before we can start production. So I apologise in advance for the wait, but rest assured that your Hutton mugs are coming, and as soon as they’re ready we’ll let you know. Peace out!”
Local Faction Helps Ready Munshin
The task of resettling Pegasi Sector refugees is underway at Ocrinox's Orbiter in the Munshin system. Hundreds of independent pilots have already helped to deliver vital medicines to Ocrinox's Orbiter.
Leading the effort is a previously unheard-of local faction called the Libertas Cooperative. Made up of freed Imperial Slaves and their descendants, the group states that it is dedicated to helping the Empire's least-fortunate. Members of the cooperative are manning docking bays and working overtime to unload cargo ships, and several independent commanders are working in concert with the group to increase the flow of medicines into the system.
The government of Munshin praised the quick action and dedication of the Libertas Cooperative, while a spokesman for the cooperative invited Pegasi Sector refugees to seek employment with the Libertas Cooperative.
Aisling Duval Issues Statement
Following yesterday’s revelation of alleged links between Princess Aisling Duval’s office and the Emperor’s Dawn insurgency, Princess Aisling today issued a statement denying any knowledge of the connection.
“It has come as a bitter surprise to me that any of my trusted advisors could have conducted business with the animals that murdered the Emperor. I will immediately undertake my own investigation into the matter, and root out any staff who are not truly loyal to the Empire.”
Popularity polls have shown a dramatic fall for the so-called ‘People’s Princess’ as the Imperial Herald revealed more details of the alleged interactions with the terrorist group.
Patron Damon Clarke remains unavailable for comment. A security officer based in Clarke’s home system revealed, anonymously, that Clarke’s whereabouts are unknown.
Federal Research Programme Terminated
Reports have begun circulating that the Federal research programme established last week to study the so-called ‘anomalous extraterrestrial objects’ (or AEOs) has been terminated. This news comes only a week after the inauguration of the project.
According to a source at Fort Harrison, where the programme was based, study of the objects was brought to an abrupt halt by the station governor, Aoishe Quaid. Apparently, Quaid ordered the head of the project, Professor Ishmael Palin, to immediately cease his research. The reason for Quaid’s decision is not known, although it is not believed to have been informed by concerns over public safety.
A second source from Fort Harrison, who asked not to be named, had the following to say:
“Frankly, I don’t think it was Quaid’s decision at all – I think she was pressured into shutting the programme down. She was enthusiastic about the project and had a lot of respect for Professor Palin, so this change of direction just doesn’t make sense. The question is, who forced her to cancel the research, and why?”
The objects under study were described as quasi-organic in nature and capable of broadcasting location data across vast distances. Their discovery was widely considered the scientific find of the decade, and the cancellation of the project will no doubt provoke a strong response from the scientific community.
Professor Palin declined to comment on the Governor Quaid’s decision.
Senator Patreus Calls for Senate Investigation
As Senator Denton Patreus prepared to enter the Senate to continue the deliberations over the succession, he issued an angry demand for a full senate investigation into the reported links between Emperor’s Dawn and Princess Aisling Duval’s office.
“While I sympathise with the princesses’ situation, having experienced a similar shock, I cannot allow that sympathy to influence my judgement. When a member of my household committed the most heinous of deeds, I submitted myself to the security services and gave them every access they needed.
“We cannot wait to act, and I call upon the senate to commence an immediate and full investigation into any links between Princess Aisling and Emperor’s Dawn.”
After the initial flurry of information from the Imperial Herald, no new facts were released today. Patron Damon Clarke remains at large, and the considered opinion is that he has fled the Empire.
Chancellor Blaine Confirms Senate Investigation
At the start of the day’s deliberations, Chancellor Anders Blaine declared that a Senate investigation into the claimed connection between Princess Aisling Duval’s office and the insurgent group Emperor’s Dawn was to be undertaken. The investigation will begin immediately, despite the Senate being in closed session until the succession is decided.
In response, Aisling Duval stated that she would comply in any way she could with the investigation. She also said that her own security teams had discovered some alarming information that she would share with the investigation committee.
Meanwhile, the hunt for Patron Damon Clarke continues. Several of his associates were arrested by the Internal Security Service in the early hours of the morning and subjected to questioning.
Shelter from the Storm
Yesterday, Utopia added its support to the Mushin government’s call for help as the Pegasi Pirate War continues to displace millions of citizens.
The head of the Utopian relief effort, Adjudicator Adric Claavis, released the following statement:
"The people of Utopia cannot stand idle while others suffer such misery. We will do everything in our power to assist in this relief effort, bringing hope to those who have lost so much in this bitter conflict.”
“Utopian ambassadors have asked the Kumo Crew for passage through their space to allow access to Mushin. In addition to delivering humanitarian supplies, Utopia will welcome any refugees who wish to begin new lives, away from the fighting, on our worlds."
Aisling Duval Praises the Munshin System
Princess Aisling Duval has issued a statement praising the efforts of relief workers in the Munshin system.
"War is a plague on our galactic society, and like all disease it most affects the poor, the hungry, and the downtrodden. It is therefore with great pride that I look to the Munshin system. There one sees true examples of Imperial citizenship, and true heroes. Any person can fire a laser, but only a true Imperial can see the humanity in another person. I extend my gratitude to the people of the Munshin system, and to the Libertas Cooperative, who are working so hard for the victims of the Pegasi Pirate War. The tireless commanders ferrying medicines to Ocrinox's Orbiter are likewise to be commended."
The princesses’ critics immediately accused her of overlooking the pilots fighting in the Pegasi Pirate War, saying: "Every day, brave men and women of the Imperial Navy are killed in this war. Where is Princess Aisling's support for their families?"
A Galactic Treasure Hunt
Alfred Jeffress, the reclusive philanthropist, has released an intriguing statement. In a press release, the eccentric billionaire announced his intention to initiate a galaxy-wide treasure hunt – and to give a share of his vast fortune to the winner. This is the first public statement from Jeffress in several years, as the humanitarian – who made his fortune trading rare and exotic goods – has spent much of the past decade on an extended galactic tour.
According to the press release, Jeffress has “hidden” a mystery object somewhere in space. The first person to find this object and deliver it to a specified location will win the competition. The press release also contains a riddle that Jeffress claims will lead participants to the mystery object:
“A vision of the Devil and Orion’s hounds will start you on your path.”
The announcement has prompted a flurry of speculation and excitement, and hundreds of pilots have already taken to their ships to search for the mystery object.
Pirates Target Pegasi Refugees
Reports are pouring in from the Amitrite system of pirate attacks on refugees fleeing the Pegasi Pirate War. The transports pouring from the Pegasi sector are often overloaded and poorly equipped, making them easy prey for the pirates. Additionally, many of the families fleeing the region bring only their most prized possessions with them, making them particularly attractive to the miscreants who lurk in Amitrite's many asteroid belts.
Representatives of the Defence Force of Amitrite have warned that their forces are stretched too thin for them to respond to every distress call, and they are urging refugees to avoid the system entirely. Those who feel they have no option but to enter the system have been encouraged to fly in convoys for mutual protection. The DFA added that any efforts to eliminate the pirates in Amitrite would be welcomed.
Pirates Continue to Target Refugees
Reports continue to pour in from the Amitrite system of pirates targeting refugees fleeing the war-torn Pegasi sector. The refugee transports have been stopping in Amitrite to refuel while travelling to a resettlement centre in the Munshin system, leaving them open to attack.
In an effort to protect the refugees, the Imperial Navy and the Defence Force of Amitrite have issued bounties on the pirates, hoping this will encourage independent pilots to help to alleviate the problem. For those with combat experience, there is money to be made in Amitrite.
Sothis Crystalline Gold
Scientists based at Newholm Station in the Sothis system have made a startling announcement – the discovery of an entirely new metalloid. The material, called Sothis Crystalline Gold, is produced by exposing ordinary gold to the thermal vents that line the seabed of the planets Sothis A5 and Sothis A6 – or, more specifically, to the submarine gas emitted by these vents. Exactly how the gas transforms the gold is not yet fully understood, but the scientists claim that the resultant metal is completely unique.
Given the emergent nature of the discovery, the scientists of Newholm Station have yet to find any applications for Sothis Crystalline Gold, but they are optimistic about finding constructive uses for the material. They are also offering entrepreneurial pilots and explorers an opportunity to earn a quantity of the rare material by delivering gold to Newholm Station in the Sothis System, thereby allowing the scientists to produce more Sothis crystalline gold and conduct further tests.
Senator Patreus offers Support to Senator Lavigny-Duval
Although the Senate remains in closed session until the succession is determined, Senator Denton Patreus made his support clear in a speech to his command staff:
“Everyone knows that my priority is the security of the Empire. It is my duty as a senator to provide the best possible opportunities for the clients, patrons, citizens and slaves who follow me. I take that duty seriously, as I do my oath as a senator to care for the Empire as a whole.
“Part of that duty is to ensure that whoever sits at the apex of Imperial society is the right person for the task at hand. They must know when change is needed, yet still observe the traditions that make the Empire strong. They must be strong to ensure that we cannot be defeated, but they must also show mercy when the situation requires it.
“Many of my loyal followers have said that I would be a suitable candidate for Emperor, and I am flattered and deeply honoured that they hold me in such high regard. To them I say that I will be happy to work with whoever is declared Emperor. Were it up to me, then the choice would be simple.
“My vote goes to one whom, but for the cruellest of murders, would already occupy the throne. It goes to my esteemed fellow senator, Arissa Lavigny-Duval.”
Some commentators have stated that this public demonstration of support is at odds with the principle of a closed Senate session, but others counter by saying that the current situation is unparalleled in Imperial history.
Palin Invited to Join Research Group
Last week saw reports that Professor Ishmael Palin has been forced to cease his research into the so-called anomalous extraterrestrial objects, also known as 'unknown artefacts'. The Voice of Varati has since received a statement from the Canonn Interstellar Research Group, an independent scientific body:
"We were extremely distressed to read reports that Professor Palin has seen his attempt to research the unknown artefacts forcibly terminated. This is indeed a sad end to a promising beginning, especially given the insights concerning the artefacts the professor had shared with us all.
"We can only speculate as to why he's been silenced in this way, but the fires of suspicion are spreading rapidly. Someone in a position of power knows far more about these things than the rest of us, but wishes this information to remain secret. The question is – why?
"The Canonn is going to redouble its efforts to conduct open research into the UAs, as we feel it is in the interests of humanity to learn as much about these mysterious artefacts as we can. We also urge Professor Palin to join us, as we feel it would be in his and his team's best interests. The professor can contact our council at any time, and we will assemble a quick-response team to assure his safety."
Commander Lord Zoltan, The Voice of Varati
Having been banned from cockpits for over a year, the craze of the Bobblehead is set to return. Although seemingly innocuous, these little plastic figures have been implicated in thousands of accidents across known space, and have even been used by pirates and assassins to murder unwary pilots. But after intense lobbying from various pilot groups and toy manufacturers, production has begun on a new generation of Bobbleheads, which will soon grace cockpits.
Security services have released safety advice to commanders regarding these cockpit adornments, reminding pilots to check their Bobblehead for explosives, hidden cameras and illicit drugs, and to ensure the Bobblehead is firmly affixed to the dashboard before undertaking any manoeuvres.
Shadow President Winters Calls for Investigation
In a speech before Congress, Shadow President Felicia Winters called for an open and thorough investigation into the allegations made in recent articles posted by the Federal Times:
"There is too much evidence here to be ignored. I knew Vice President Nigel Smeaton personally and he was a good friend - the thought that he was murdered for investigating the death of a family member is repugnant. Our society is one based on truth and freedom and I call upon President Hudson to immediately instigate an impartial and open investigation into these allegations."
Her speech was met with support from both sides of the political divide. There has been no response from the President's office as yet.
Senator Arissa Lavigny-Duval Gains More Powerful Support
Capitol has been abuzz with rumour following Senator Denton Patreus' open declaration of support for Senator Arissa Lavigny-Duval. While possibly not a frontrunner for Emperor, Patreus commands a sizeable fleet and is rich and influential enough to help Arissa Lavigny-Duval become Empress.
Senator Lavigny-Duval already enjoys the support of Chancellor Anders Blaine, whose voice is perhaps the loudest and most influential in the Senate.
The Imperial Herald's revelations concerning connections between Princess Aisling's office and the Emperor's Dawn insurgency have severely impacted her rating, and are likely to have cost her support in the Senate. The political landscape has been shaken further by Senator Zemina Torval's announcement that she is backing Arissa Lavigny-Duval to be crowned Empress.
Pirates Wiped Out in Amitrite
Officials from the Defence Force of Amitrite have praised the many pilots who helped clear the system of pirates this week. Hundreds of hostile ships were eliminated, and crime levels in the system subsequently dropped to new lows.
Representatives of the Libertas Cooperative, speaking on behalf of resettled Pegasi Sector refugees, also extended their thanks to the pilots: "Many of the refugees in the Munshin system have been separated from their families. Now they can be safe in the knowledge that their loved ones can traverse the Empire safely. For the second time in recent weeks, the citizens of the Empire have proved they care about their fellow man. They have set an example for us all."
Some segments of the media have speculated that the participation of independent pilots was especially high because of crime-deterrence policies introduced by Senator Arissa Lavigny-Duval. The Defence Force of Amitrite dismissed these claims, calling them "a crass attack on brave men and women who risked their lives to help strangers".
President Hudson Confirms Investigation
President Hudson responded today to Shadow President Winters's call for investigating the allegations raised by the Federal Times. In a press conference at the White House on Mars, he said:
"The allegations raised by the Federal Times are indeed grave and I have already instructed the responsible agencies to pursue the evidence and determine its veracity. If the evidence proves to be true then the wrongdoers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
When asked by reporters which agency would be responsible for the investigation, he replied that the Federal Security Service would act as the lead agency, but resources from any law enforcement agency would be available to assist.
Shadow President Winters was quick to respond to the President's announcement:
"While it is good to see the President responding to genuine concerns, I can't help but notice that he is ignoring our call for an open investigation."
Emperor's Dawn Appeal Meets with Mixed Response
Two weeks ago, the organisation known as Emperor's Dawn issued a public appeal for progenitor cells and narcotics. Given the group's extremist ideals, the response was understandably mixed. Many of those who oppose the Empire were only too happy to help, but for others – even those with no particular affinity for Imperial ideals – the idea of helping a known enemy of the Empire was unthinkable. The result was that while the request for progenitor cells was successful, the request for narcotics was not – a result that no doubt reflects the divided attitude towards Emperor's Dawn. The question of what impact this will have on the organisation and its ability to further its agenda remains to be answered.