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Beyond Alpha Centauri :::

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  • Old Coots and New Ones Too!

    Morgan Interstellar, Central Plaza, CEO Morgan's Office

    “Here is the trade, CEO,” said Colonel Jerome Motyer, standing next to Mr. Ku and the seated CEO Nwabudike Morgan. They watched the far wall; over which was the great holo-screen upon which ran the film that had been sent by the Saturn nationals. Once inserted, the video-disk revealed what was going on concerning the Saturnians and the diplomats. The image on the screen was of two men in a darkened hall. Their outlines were vaguely distinguishable due to the brilliant red color of the moon Titan, which was clearly visible through the huge plexi-glass viewing window that served as a wall for this particular area of Horizon Aida that appeared on the film. One of the two men in the image handed the other a data-disk, informing the other man that it contained “all the information on the Morgan military”. The men’s faces were barely visible in the dark of the unlit hall. Both men were dressed entirely in black, though one man, the taller, balding one, wore a strange purple tie over his suit. One could barely make out his face on the film. His gray eyes shone through the darkness, and in the red light one could see an odd brownish mark on his forehead. Morgan recognized the man instantly, and in a way he felt he recognized the mark as well.

    “Who is this man?!” Morgan demanded, gesturing at the man standing beside Mr. Sym. Morgan was in one of his tempers. The treason of this man Sym, a diplomat no less, had unnerved everyone, but it made Morgan furious. He wasn’t going to stand for it. It was times like this that it was best to tactfully avoid the CEO. He was trying his best to contain his anger, however.

    “That man is known to M.I.A.,” responded Mr. Ku, “he is one Ki Han, and he is a turncoat. He reported Mr. Binstead’s acts of treachery to us for the reward we gave him, and he still betrayed our military information to Sym. We are fairly sure he was a card carrying Black Shadow member…oh, well there he goes…just as my men told us he had done…” Ku gestured up at the screen. The film now showed the spy’s dying body being slammed against the plexi-glass.

    “Why was this man not liquidated before all this?”

    “We were not sure what he would do. Naturally we kept a file on him since the occasion of his disappearance, and now it is completed…”

    “Damn,” said Morgan, “This should never have been allowed to happen, like the terrorist attack on Samnos and Naxos should never have been allowed to happen,” in his own way Morgan blamed Ku for these events, and only suggested that he was to be held responsible. After a pause, Morgan asked, “Ku, what was done with this man’s remains?”

    “Our intelligence officers on Titan tell us that he was taken to one of the heating rooms and a bungled attempt to destroy his body was made. When the Saturnians found him he was barely recognizable…completely charred…”

    “And now this man Sym is on the loose, capable of doing what he pleased to us. He’s probably resting on the lap of Chairman…excuse me…Emperor Yang this minute. This man is dangerous, Ku…”

    “We only know too well, sir…”

    “I want him dead, Ku, I don’t care how long it takes! I want that man smashed down and crushed! I want his bones broken! I want him to be smashed to dust! A fine powder!” cried Morgan. When the good CEO got into these moods it was very near impossible to be around him. Though he tried to hide it best he could, Nwabudike Morgan was a very aggressive man, and all the more so when he was angry. At this point, Morgan was barely trying to restrain himself. “Pause!” he cried, seemingly to the film itself. The disk stopped playing in accordance with Morgan’s order. The film stopped in motion as the revolting Mr. Sym turned his head to face a holo-map as the body of the dead spy slumped to the ground. Morgan knew the mark upon Sym’s forehead now. It was the mark of Cain.

    “I understand, sir. I shall leave you now, if you wish…” Ku was being tactful, as usual.

    “Yes, go Ku. I’ll need you later, but now you may go…” Morgan watched as Ku made his way out of the room and Lieutenant Mowangi shut the door quietly behind him. “Are the 1st Corps withdrawing from Samnos and Naxos, Motyer?” There was still a hint of anger in his voice.

    “Yes, CEO, General Marmion’s forces have withdraw to Pollux G. ¾ of the population of the moons have also left for our other colonies in the system. The situation is…dangerous.”

    “What is protecting those two moons now, Colonel?”

    “On Samnos and Naxos there are several elite detachments of militia raised from the civilian workers of Samnos and Naxos. Fifteen orbital platforms and one orbital cannon, as well as two squadrons of corvettes and fighters protect Samnos. Naxos is protected by…I’d say around two dozen orbital platforms and one orbital cannon. The Twelfth Fleet, commanded by Admiral Merrill is also docked there. There are some good sized ships in that fleet, and if the Terrans attack they will lose large numbers of men and ships,” responded Motyer, pausing only briefly when running figures through his mind. A look of regret came upon the CEO’s face, replacing the look of anger. The frown replaced the barred teeth, so to speak.

    “I fear that those two moons are lost already, and serve only as bumpers between our territory and the Terran territory. Those moons are the first line of defense, and the weakest. We have taken out a heavy chunk of their lands in Capella, but I fear they shall take a good many colonies from us…those four space docks near the area shall also fall, I think…” said Morgan softly.

    “I wouldn’t count on the space docks falling easily, we have fresh defenders there. There is a whole fleet of some of the Novan’s larger ships in the region under our pay, and so we can hold our own there. There are also two Drone-built frigates in the region.”

    “Oh yes, the Pirates. I had rather forgotten about them. One can never trust those buggers, however. I was somewhat hesitant of purchasing the services of mercenaries from them, but they were the best alternative to the Soldiers of God. As much as the Believers are fine soldiers, I wouldn’t want to agitate our friend Provost Randius any further than we already have. He’s hesitant to make any deals with us now that we have Believers in our pay…after what they did to his father I can understand his feelings…I usually disagreed with the methods of Zakharov, but I always respected him. He was in essence a good man, I believe…” As well as having a habit of bursting into rages of ire, the CEO had a habit of droning on and on. Motyer only pretending he was listening to Morgan when he did this. It was a rather cruel and sneaky tactic, but it was effective.

    It was at this time a man from the Foreign Office walked in with a message for the CEO. Morgan took the letter hastily scrawled out by Cornelius Walker of the Foreign Office, and read with surprise and interest. A whole new system-spanning government…So Ku’s men in the Drone Republic had been correct after all…

    FROM: CEO Nwabudike Morgan
    TO: Queen Maria Sanchez

    Dear Queen M.,

    We most humbly thank you for the message you sent us, informing us of both the traitor Sym and the ship that is to arrive at our port in several days. The information is most valuable to us.

    Do not concern yourself with the loss of Mr. Sym, as I am sure that he will receive what he deserves in coming time. Even now my intelligence forces are starting to pick up his trail.

    The ‘bloodhounds of the law’, as they like to call themselves, will most surely find him and do to him what he merits. At least one of these traitors has met an end fitting to their actions already, and we trust that soon the other shall meet an equally deserved fate.

    We will look forward to the arrival of your vessel, Your Highness, and I am sure that we will come to a speedy arrangement in our bargains. We shall give you all you want in robotics and nano-tech if you return with bio-tech and pysch-tech. We trust that both of our governments shall greatly benefit from this exchange of information.

    I really must apologize for writing such a bland letter, Queen M., but I’m afraid I have too much on my mind today. If we don’t have traitors lurking about we’ve got sabotage and invasion and the lot.

    Fare well, and thank you,
    -- Morgan

    FROM: CEO Nwabudike Morgan
    TO: Lord Protector Ian McDiarmid

    Greetings and salutations, my friend!

    It was with surprise and interest that read today of the message sent by your ship in our territory. I don’t mind telling you, Lord Protector, sir, that I was mightily glad to receive your message. At first your unidentified ship looked to be some sort of Terran operation, and our own Admiral Dennis Mortimore-Clark came very near to opening fire on your ship. Such an occurrence, I am certain, would not have lead to very good relations with your people, the Protectorate.

    Your message offering mediation in the war between my government and the government of the Terran Alliance is very timely, sir. I too fear that this war may start to get out of hand, so to speak. In fact it all bloody has! I think you will find, however, while reviewing the case that my government is in the right, while that of the Terrans is in the wrong. This war could have been avoided had InEn (Interplanetary Enterprises, a Terran company) not opened fire first on one of my supply ships, and then one of my diplomatic ships, as well as murder one of my diplomats. Had the Terran Alliance the foresight to take action against InEn, this war could well have been avoided, and indeed, it most certainly would have.

    I trust that our governments shall soon come to a speedy agreement in terms, and we shall soon be, so to speak, on very friendly terms. Your warship in our territory, I trust, can easily serve in diplomatic negotiations. I most certainly hope this the case. Technological advance is, I think you believe, a good thing. I hope this is your relational, as it is most certainly my own. I think we can service each other quite splendidly in that field, and indeed in all forms of trade.

    As for that subject, trading, I mean, how could you possibly suspect that I would, dare I say it, run up the tariffs on imports and exports? Would I, a good businessman, want to do that? That would only hinder our relations! No, while others may do such a thing, we of Morgan Interstellar can proudly state that this is neither our policy, nor indeed our style…at all!

    I trust we shall come to a swift agreement in all things, Lord Protector. A tour of Neuvo San Antonio sounds like something to look forward to. I shall afterwards show you about Morgan Interstellar, our capital city. That is also a very beautiful city, as I'm sure you will agree.

    Fare well, and thank you,
    I trust I shall hear from you soon,
    -- Morgan
    Last edited by History Guy; April 13, 2002, 19:46.
    Empire growing,
    Pleasures flowing,
    Fortune smiles and so should you.


    • The streets of Oslo, southern Norway, amidst the tall buildings and skyscapers, a beautiful green boulevard, the birds singing, the sun shining with a little sprinkle of white clouds in the sky.

      What an idyllic morning, one would think.

      Suddenly, from high above, a loud shattering of glass is heard. Shards fall down to the ground; and with them, a corpse lands right in the concrete pavement.

      A dead lump of flesh, motionless, lying in a dark red pond, surrounded by small pieces of broken synthglass.

      And then, in the blink of an eye, the Police Marines - a full detachment of them -, restricting the area and immediately taking eyewitness statements and samples from the scene.

      And what was the name of this skyscraper in front of which this horrid and obnoxious event took place?

      Kvaerner Building.


      The communication channel was filled with uncontrolled chatter as dozens of different officers from several posts and ships blabbered at each other in disbelief.

      Over two hours ago, the Battle Carrier Ragnarok, the pride and joy of the 6th Battle Fleet, had entered a sequence of FTL travel to reach the vicinity of a Morganite system, Samnos, for a reorganization of it's squadrons, and to replenish it's stocks before setting to a standby mode should a call to arms against the Morganites be issued.

      And forty minutes ago it was due to drop to STL speed, report at a marker beacon somewhere between Wolf 359 and Sol, and then continue with a detachment of escort destroyers to assist. The ship had left three minutes behind the escorts, and had no chance of a commlink with the escort wing.

      They waited for the Ragnarok to arrive. They waited, and waited, and waited, but to no avail...


      "And now, as we are waiting for a press release regarding the disapperance of the starship Ragnarok, our team in Oslo is in place - Theodore, are you ready?"

      "Yes, Rosann. This is Theodore Regg, GNN, live from downtown Oslo. Behind me is the Kvaerner Building, better known as the main headquarters of the late company Interplanetary Enterprises. About thirty minutes earlier today, the peace of the city was disrupted as the dead body of the CEO of Interplanetary Enterprises, Craylen Kvaerner, was thrown out from a window of his penthouse office."

      "Dead body? Was Mr. Kvaerner dead before the fall?"

      "The Police is yet to make a statement of the affair, but our newscrew met briefly a Doctor of Medicine that witnessed the event, and who was the first one to attend to Mister Kvaerner. According to him, the corpse was not killed by the fall, but more likely by a severe traumatic damage focused on his neck."

      "Is there reason to believe that there was a crime involved?"

      "The Oslo Police Department will hold a press conference shortly, in which we will probably get more information on the situation. The spaceport of Oslo is, however, operating at standard security measures, as usual, and there have been no traffic regulations thus far."


      Secured text message (Encryption routine 09121986155-Nida)


      President Henry Tremaine
      Prime Minister Elise Drecaille on behalf of the Parliament of Earth


      Leader of Nova Saturna, Maria Sanchez

      We have received both of your messages.

      Firstly, the matter of the Self-Supported Space Habitats orbiting Saturn. We are fully aware of the Titanian sympathies onboard these stations; however, we are not willing to completely cease control of these locations. We are willing to hold democratic elections on them to entail their willingness; however, the opinion of the Parliament of Earth is also necessary.
      Additionally, the Coalition will not just give away the entirety of them; the Inca Station, should it decide to join your little endeavour, will be yours to keep, but the two other stations, Maya and Aztec, serve of great military as well as commercial importance to us.

      Because of this, the Coalition wishes that if either one of both of these stations submit to you, the Maya station is emptied of Titanian sympathizers, with the loyal Coalition citizens, infrastructure and operations left for the Coalition to rehabitate.

      You can have the Aztec station, however, on the condition that the agricultural hardware and components of our choice be removed and shipped to Maya station.

      And, the Coalition wishes to remind you that Titan in no way has complete rights over the natural resources on the Rings of Saturn, the remainder of the moons and the planet Saturn itself.

      This and the station affair can be discoursed in more detail once peace negotiations are begun.

      On the account of the second message, we hold this gesture of good will, the returning of any survivors from the debacle of the Battle of Titan, in great appreciation.

      We will arrange for the return of forty-five Titanian men and women imprisoned during the conflict in exchange.

      Yours sincerely

      - and hoping for a future for our children and our children's children -

      Henry Gerald Tremaine, President of the Coalition of Earth

      Elise Penelope Drecaille, Prime Minister of the Coalition of Earth


      Public Wide-Channel Transmission


      Prime Minister Elise Drecaille on behalf of the Parliament of Earth


      Morgan Interstellar

      We had no intention of letting this escalate this into something as big as the conquering of entire star systems. We despise the way this expression is worn-out, but we shall use it in any case: "You started it."

      The next time you decide to jump on someone's toes, attempt to avoid the consequences and try to put the blame on someone else; think again.

      By the time you receive this message, several Battle Fleets of our Navy have arrived to one of your border systems, Samnos. The Terran Alliance and it's Member States will assist us in this effort.

      Consider this a declaration of war.

      The Coalition of Earth.


      Public Wide-Channel Transmission


      Prime Minister Elise Drecaille on behalf of the Parliament of Earth


      The Lord's Believers (Conclave)

      We had no intention of letting this escalate this into something as big as the conquering of entire star systems. We despise the way this expression is worn-out, but we shall use it in any case: "You started it."

      The next time you decide to assist someone who is in direct armed conflict with someone - think again.

      If any Coalition vessel meets a military ship of the Conclave, battle will insue.

      Consider this a declaration of war - and a warning for all those who are planning on doing the same error you did.

      The Coalition of Earth.


      Secured text message (Encryption 28041960-067R)

      To: Ambassador Siilk of the Greater Hive Empire

      From: Commodore Janet Radcliffe of the ECSN

      Greetings, Your Excellency, Ambassador Siilk.

      I must, in beforehand, apologize for any possible actions you might consider inappropriate or rude. I know that the Hive is a faction of civilization and progress, and as such I would presume that it is quite lenient towards cultural differences.

      Now, to the matter at hand.

      I am Janet Radcliffe, Commodore of the Coalition Space Navy, the main military body of Earth. I am the Commanding Officer of my ship, and this Battle Squadron - the unit of ships that are here to ensure your safety inside our home system. I am also authorized by my government to act as the liaison officer between you and my superiors, in this case the Ministry of External Affairs and the High Admiralty of the Navy, both working under the Cabinet, ruled by the Prime Minister.

      We have made certain that no third party is aware of our rendezvous here. Any communications from your ship are transmitted on a narrow-channeled burst to another location inside the system, from where it is then relayed to Earth and directly to my superiors.

      I have included a brief information package of our political and military structure and cultural aspects, to make sure that you have all the information you might need of our culture and to avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings.

      The Coalition government wishes at this time that the Greater Hive Empire initiates the dialogue between our factions. You can appoint your messages directly to the Prime Minister; contact me if there are problems with your current situation here in the border space of Sol, or other matters of immediate concern.

      If there are problems with the entailed arrangement, please let us know.

      Yours truly,

      Commodore Janet Radcliffe
      Commanding Officer of Third Coalition Liaison Fleet
      EC Representative for Coalition - GHE Relations


      The arrangements made to the Command Nexus were, one would say, elaborate.

      Seats had been arranged for a little auditorium-like window placed in the upper ceiling of the Nexus. From there, the Cabinet could easily monitor the progress of the battle.

      The Battle of Samnos, as it would probably be called by the future generations. Of course, if things would turn out sour, it could be called something entirely else; and even if they would prevail, it could spark off something far greater then this meager dispute...

      But the crew of the Nexus, and Supreme Commander Michael Jonathan Wakazashi, had set these thoughts aside. As the dawn on the first planet of the system was brightening up, night was setting over the Alps, right where Geneva was located.

      They had no intentions, no hesitations. Just the desire and need to do battle - and maybe hand over some retribution for taking over Capella. And Callisto. And all those names that could possibly be added to the list as time would pass.

      As Prime Minister Elise Drecaille took her seat and looked down on the room, still lighted, with people in dark blue uniforms shuttling from console to console, exchanging status reports and orders, she felt a quick sensation - the sensation a human gets, when he or she just knows that history is soon to be made, with her watching it happen.

      The Nexus slowly darkened black and was shifted to a slight tone of red, to accommodate the eyes. Wakazashi and some from the High Admiralty quietly walked to their places in the middle of the room. A black wall of simple canvas enveloped them - to prevent the lights emitting from the operation consoles from disturbing the projection. And then, the stars were placed on the canvas, carefully and slowly, as the camera's computer quickly compiled the data of several days of detailed collection. Constellations, suns, small worlds were placed around them in mid-air - the three Admirals.

      Drecaille wasn't familiar with the two other Admirals, and just called them Blue and Green, in accordance to their rank identifiers on their chests.

      The Admirals set up a handful of electrodes on their wrists, temples, foreheads, even feet - everywhere - with the calmness and accuracy brought by repeatitive training and routine. After all, this was the first time in a relatively long time that the HICOP (Holographic Interface for Operational Purposes) was used; the last time was in a military excercise last year.

      And then, Supreme Commander Wakazashi uttered one single word, that would start an insinuating sequence of bloodshed, killing, and very entertaining explosions:


      The holoscreens blinked as they were immediately updated with a myriad of small, metallic moving objects; starships. Drecaille was not aware of the exact number; but there were many of them. They were lead, naturally, by an Andromeda class Command Ship. It had three Battle Carriers; the fourth one had not yet arrived, and was apparently lost. No one had had a chance to mourn this loss, as the adrenaline had already started to gush for the sake of combat.

      "Prime Minister, madame", Drecaille heard a whisper from her side.

      "Yes, what is it", she snapped.

      "I am sorry to interrupt you, but the messages -"

      "Oh yes. They are ready to be sent?"

      "Yes. Commodore Radcliffe has also acknowledged that she is ready."

      "Excellent. Have all the messages sent."

      The aide nodded and quickly exited the room.

      Admiral Blue twisted slightly his fomgers after pointing at one of the ship squadrons. A part of his canvas zoomed in; the footage brought by connecting together the images from hundreds and thousands of cameras and sensors on probes and ships was very impressive, and a feat of the information technology of the 28th Century.

      A lieutenant had been assigned to explain things to the Cabinet. Drecaille took the chance and asked:

      "There's bound to be some delay in the data from there to here - how is that dealt with?"

      The lieutenant smiled, in a way one would expect from an officer designated to the task of answering questions from 'mundanes', and replied:

      "Well, that is why we have Captains on the ships. The Admirals here only give them general instructions; like 'go there' and 'attack them'. These can be handled even with a slight delay at ease; and if the lag starts to impair the operation's effectiveness, which would happen only at the distance of roughly two hundred lightyears, the command from here would be given to one of the apt Fleet Admirals serving on the Command Ships, which also have small Command Nexuses like the one here or the ones on Dreadnaughts. It would be no problem at all, since the Admirals would still keep transmitting general guidance from here."

      "Okay, I understand. Interesting, very interesting", she muttered and continued viewing the operation.

      There were intricate functions in the holographic interface that the mere moving of the hands could not detail. Because of this, there were audio commands available, like:

      "Zoom in on the planetary defence systems."

      The view of Green swiveled and showed the first world of Samnos, named simply Alpha-One for the duration of the battle, and it's satellites - moons and weapon platforms.


      "Exfchuuf me, buf fyor foof if in my mouf."

      "Sorry for that", Filkins apologized, and removed his foot from Greg's mouth.

      Greg shook his head, well, at least he shook it as much as the tiny compartment could accommodate, and said: "Better. Now, tell me, how come was it necessary for us to be stucked here?"

      "For Pete's sake, Greg. He couldn't remember if it was today or tomorrow. He had to set sail to Mars in some time, so he had no option but to leave, even if that would mean outting us here."

      "But surely, the Customs Office can't have enough manpower to scour through all departing and arriving ships?"

      "No organisation does have that sort of resources, you silly. They do run a deep scale scan on some ships, the chances to be scanned are about one to twelve, at least that's what Pete said."

      "Pete, this man who has been arrested for smuggling of illegal and sometimes hazardous materials for several times and for doing an FTL jump outside the defines of the interplanetary beacons, said that. How unnerving."

      "Oh be quiet, will you. Without him, you would be still in that lousy excuse of a hospital - how is your leg doing, by the way?"

      "I lost all sense in it ten minutes ago. It's probably cold now - I'd try if I could move my hands", Greg replied.

      "Oh please. If it bothers you so much, I'll be more then glad to chop it off."

      "You told me about deep scale scans. How does getting tucked to a small cargo container prevent the scanners from detecting us here?"

      Filkins tapped the inner wall of the container and responded: "Residues of kvaernium-122. Not at hazardous levels, of course, but enough to keep scanners at bay. The oldest trick in the book."

      "So old that the Customs sensors still don't bypass it?"

      "Probably so - the Customs Office's scanners are older then the hills of Io."

      Suddenly, the ship shuddered violently. This, of course, was not good for the tendency of our two friends. After a while, the vessel calmed down and steadied it's pace. They could hear steps from the corridor close by, and then the hatch was opened.

      "Hi there", Pete, a rather old chap with a face that had been left unshaved for a couple of mornings and a wardrobe that could of used a little ironing, greeted them.

      "Uh - hi", Filkins replied. "What's up?"

      "The unwritten law of the space, I am afraid."

      "What is he talking about?" Greg asked from Filkins, trying to strecth one of his limbs out to the now available space.

      "What are you talking about?"

      "There's a ship transmitting an emergency signal. A short-length signal, at that. That means that they don't want the Navy to find them - just like us."

      Greg moaned in relief as his hand did crazy maneuvres in the air - to regain blood circulation. Pete looked at the show for a while and then realized:

      "Oh, you might want to get out of there."

      "No kidding", Greg replied quietly.

      After a moment of regaining some sense to their feet, the threesome strolled to the cockpit.

      "You see? 'tis a transport. The markings say that it's from Titan."

      "Titan? The rebel world?" Greg asked, worried of what the situation would bring.

      "Yup, 'ven't seen any other place called Titan", Pete replied and sat down on his console. He twiddled with it for a while, then a voice from the speakers said:

      "You still there? Thank god."

      "Yeah, we're 'ere. You seem to be willing to avoid the authorities, non? Well, then there's two o' us", Pete informed them.

      "Oh, good."

      "So, friend, what's yer name?"

      "My name? Uhm... it's... Mys. Mister Mys...sym. Myssym."

      "Okay... I'm Pete. No 'Mister' needed. Mister... Myssym."

      "Roger that. We are in need of some help."

      "Whatcha needin'?" Pete asked calmly, like the typical old man in the grocery store who seems to be able to get you anything for the right price, from lollipops to military grade plutonium.

      "Well, we simply ran out of Elerium. The Tunneling Device won't budge."

      "That's bad, that's bad", Pete replied. "You got this far anyhoo, non?"

      "Well, yes, luckily... so, you got any to spare?"

      "If we can make an agreement on the price, sure. Lessee; one gram of standard class Elerium costs around, say, thirty thousand creds."

      "Thirty thousand -" - 'Myssym' swallowed so loud that it could be heard onboard Pete's ship.

      "Sometimes even more, if you know what I mean..."

      "Understood. We need twenty grams to get started with."

      "That would be six hundred grand, then."

      "We don't have that kind of money!" 'Myssym' screamed.

      "Calm down, chap, take the microphone out from ye throat and lis'n. You are a bunch o' fellas flyin' on a prison transport, non? So, I would be an assenine idiot to expect that you have any amount of dosh on you. But, a military grade transport... you're riding on a fortune there, guys, not to mention that the ship itself is dynamite... if it had fuel, that is."

      "So, what are you suggesting then?"

      "I would take your ship, but that's one hot piece of hardware there. The Navy is in a state of emergency, that's at least what the news tell, and any foreign ships in the system will be shot at sight.

      But, it's not all that simple. I have much room to spare on this baby. How many of you are there?"

      "Just me and a handful of others", 'Myssym' said.

      "Jolly good. We'll get you nice and snug in here. Now, what I want in return is some stuff from that ship. It's Coalition military class, right? That means that it has some T-class protoreactors, Kwazan Mark II stabilizors, the works. We will spend some time fixing and nixing pieces from you to our ship - then we'll have enough power to ride to Andromeda and beyond."
      Cake and grief counseling will be available at the conclusion of the test. Thank you for helping us help you help us all!


      • Sol System
        Hive ambassadorial ship Seeker of Truth

        Ambassador Sillk read the message that was just received from the Terran government. He was impressed, to say the least, of the legendary Terran's intuitiveness. Sending him information files of their culture, politics, and military without asking for them was truly astounding. Hive doctrine was totally the opposite- do not give anything that is not clearly asked for.

        Krissg copied the Terrans files and sent them to the Throneworld, maybe someone there would find them interesting. As he continued reading, he was a little distressed by the Terrans not even acknowledging his statement of the Morganites. Do they have something to hide?

        The Xiero decided to ignore it and relay the message that he was ordered to give from Minister Zell.

        "Send the Terrans this reply." Sillk ordered the pilot.

        "Whenever you are ready, sir."

        * * *
        Encrypted message
        To: Commodore Janet Radcliffe
        Commanding Officer of Third Coalition Liaison Fleet

        From: Hive Ambassador Sillk, via Hive communications ship

        Greetings Terran Commodore Radcliffe. The Hive thanks your government for the very informative datafiles you have sent. You are correct that we are very sensitive to other government's cultures and the Hive does not wish to have any misunderstandings between our two governments.

        The information contained in this message is of utmost urgence.

        Your government has not acknowledged our request for talks dealing with Morganite aggression. Unfortunately, the time to talk is over.

        I am authorized to inform your government that within a few short hours, a Hive Expeditionary Fleet will arrive at the Morganite colony of Samnos. As your government is clearly aware, this Morganic colony is surprisingly close to Terran space.

        Therefore, on behalf of the Greater Hive Empire and our Emperor Yang, our Expeditionary Fleet will attack Samnos-then Naxos- as a gesture of goodwill to the Terran government.

        We hope that the liberation of Samnos and Naxos from the tyrannical rule of Nwabudike Morgan will demonstrate to you and your government our willingness to support any offensive to combat Morgan Interstellars plan for galactic domination and exploitation for wealth.
        * * *
        Hive Expeditionary Fleet
        In transit

        The obisidan shapes of the Hive fleet continued their journey to their rendez-vous point. The ships sped urgently toward the spacestation, understanding that timing was everything in their upcoming attack.

        Every ship captain under Admiral Bippol was aware that the timetable to attack had to be followed to the letter or else Warmaster Kang would send many of them away to the re-education camps or worse, to the punishment sphere's.

        The fleet continued on its path, more determined than ever to arrive on time.

        Only a few hours left...
        Last edited by Frankychan; April 3, 2002, 21:29.
        Despot-(1a) : a ruler with absolute power and authority (1b) : a person exercising power tyrannically
        Beyond Alpha Centauri-Witness the glory of Sheng-ji Yang
        *****Citizen of the Hive****
        "...but what sane person would move from Hawaii to Indiana?" -Dis


        • The Grand Temple, Caledon, Vega Prime

          “I wish you guys could see this,” said Gary. “It’s spectacular.”

          With Jacob a-Berg, University xeno-technology expert, operating a generalized system hacker, the Thinker had finally been able to get beyond the first phase of the Temple’s defenses. It seemed that he was standing in a small chamber made of shining metal ceiling and floor and translucent walls. On all sides of him stretched the platforms of the first phase. Broadening his field of vision, Gary hypothesized that they were in fact the information-carrying components of the alien computer.

          “Well, this almost looks like a hard drive,” Gary continued. “If this were one of our units, I’d look for the operating system and related codes, but there’s no sign of that here. What if I – ah!”

          “Are you all right?”

          Back in the real world, the Thinker held up his hand, signalling the other scientists to wait. Several moments passed in silence.

          In the computer world, the glowing platforms dimmed and the entire mainframe faded. A spotlight fell on Gary and he flinched involuntarily. He felt like something was scanning him. The Thinker attempted to raise a protective code, but the alien computer batted it aside. Just as he was beginning to think of escape, he heard the last thing he was expecting to hear.

          “friend. you?”

          Confused, he looked around as far as he could, but there was no apparent source for the voice. “Where are you?” Gary called.

          “we. are. temple. you. are. who?”

          Before he could reply, the computer went on, “so. long. no. outside. people. your. thoughts. different. read. them. difficult. we. you. not. our. people?” Gary shook his head slightly. “from. where. you. come?”

          “We live here,” he replied, not sure where the line of questioning was leading.

          “long. ago. our. people. no. live. after. that. we. know. nothing. now. new. people. come. you. friend. or. enemy?”

          “We are friends,” the Thinker said uncertainly.

          A cascade of images poured into Gary’s interface. He had no time to assimilate them individually, but he knew that they were all being written into his recorder. At length he began to understand as the pictures and the feelings seeped into his brain. He felt the great age of the Temple, and the age of the people who built it. He saw enormous ships, a hundred times the size of a dreadnought, plowing their way through the void, carrying the ingredients to make new worlds and new life. He felt distantly the pain of billions as skies cracked and oceans boiled. Inadvertantly, Gary flinched.

          “welcome. friend.”

          Then he was standing in the Grand Temple’s main hall, his interface still plugged in but inactive now. Derek Sorensen and Jacob a-Berg were staring at him intently.

          “We just got a massive rush of information into the nanodisks,” the University man said. “What just happened in there?”

          “Are you all right?” Sorensen asked.

          Gary nodded. “I’m fine,” he said. “I think you guys will want to hear all about this.”
          Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.


          • Laekdaemon System, high orbit over Leakdaemon IX

            This was probably the only area in the LAekdaemon system that was not watched by the eternally moving surveryer pods and exploration shuttles. The planet had been examined decades ago and there were no resources there to speak of. It orbited in the midst of a cloud of dust and small asteroids, further reducing it's value for colonization.

            The perfect place for Lysander to hide.

            The three vessels - one Cadre, two Hive - that had left Firaxis Prime now dropped out of FTL drive and swung into orbit over Laekdaemon IX, designated 'Hades'. Lysander opened a commlink channel with the Hive ships.

            "Alright," he said, "we have to remain here for some time. I need to send a message to my followers at Laekdaemon Central, in order to insure that it is safe to land. If not, we will have to sneak in. We will need to land you somewhere by stealth anyway."

            Hive commander Felchek gave a nod. "Yes, sir. How much is known about what you are doing, sir?"

            "Not much, hopefully," replied Lysander, "but more may have been discovered."

            Encrypted Transmission

            TO: Captain Marcos, Deputy to Major Lysander

            FROM: Major Lysander

            Captain Marcos,

            I am sending you this message from a hidden place within our system. I need to know: is it safe for me to return to the planet? I have found help from the Greater Hive Empire, but this will be for nought if Menelaus has me killed first.

            End Transmission

            Laekdaemon Central

            Marcos received the message just as he was walking out of the mess halls. He tapped his commlink to stop it beeping, then hurried back to his quarters. As it turned out, it was fortunate for him that the comrades he shared it with were all Lysander's followers.
            Once back he plugged his commlink into his computer and looked at the message. When he saw the sender his heart skipped a beat, as he knew that Cadre Security kept a watchful eye on the whole of the Cadre networks. Nothing that entered the networks could be hidden. A moment later, however, he breathed a sigh of relief when he realized it was encrypted. It would be months before Menelaus's lackeys could make sense of it.
            His comrades observed his reaction and crowded around to see what was happening. He waved them away. They didn't know the code, and would merely get in the way. After noting how sent it, they went back to their own business, whatever it was.

            Marcos now pulled out a sheet of paper and a pen. 'lucky we still have uses for these kinds of thing', he mused. He now copied down the message, and began labouriously decoding it. Three hours later he examined the message. Then he examined it again. Help from the Hive? Lysander might be in danger?
            He bounded up and accessed the main Cadre networks. No announcement or accusation had been made against Lysander. If Menelaus was out to get him, Laekdaemon Central would be crawling with loyalist guards by now.

            Encrypted Transmission

            TO: Major Lysander

            FROM: Captain Marcos

            All the evidence available suggests that it is wholly safe for you to land. There is no suggestion that you are now wanted.

            End Transmission

            Lysander grinned as he decoded the reply. 'Bungling fools', he thought, wondering why the SEcurity people hadn't found his hacking yet. 'Well, I'm not complaining'.
            He turned to the still open commlink channel. "I have just received word that it is safe to land." he said. Felchek nodded. "We will, of course, have to find somewhere to hide you, but as you are disguised as free traders that shouldn't be too hard. I know of an area on the planet's surface where you can hide your ships."
            "Very good sir." replied Felchek, "ready when you are."

            Lysander's ship boosted away from Hades with the two Hive ones close behind.


            • Council Chambers, Laekdaemon Central

              The Cadre Council convened once more in the Council Chambers, but this time without it's leader. They had been instructed to send any major initiatives to Menelaus for approval before carrying them out.
              The five members all looked at each uncertainly, each subcounciously knowing that there was bad news, but none wanting to ask about it.
              At last Intel Director Katrina spoke up. "We have a very grave situation here." she said. "We have discovered evidence of a virus in our networks planted by Major Lysander. It seems he has been sending unauthorised transmissions to someone and used this virus to hide them."

              "Who were they to?" asked Leinin in alarm, "is this a threat to our security?"

              "That, Warmaster, is being inverstigated. It is undoubtedly a security threat. I therefore propose that we secretly declare Lysander a wanted man and when he returns, arrest him."

              "Why secretly?" questioned Raymond, "we could declare it openly and instruct everyone to report him as soon as they see him."

              "We don't want him to know." Katrina said coldly. "He is gone for now, and if he knows we're after him, he'll never come back. We have to get him. Does anyone disagree with my proposal?"

              Silence answered her. "Very well, I will send a message to Menelaus asking for his approval, and shall put my department on full alert."


              • To: Terran Alliance Government
                From: Colonel Marcus Kessel

                I see that you have ignored my communiqués and have every intention of setting off a wider war with the Morganites and others. It appears that it has been too long since your people have been involved in war and that your military has succeeded in taking over the agenda. This is sad indeed. I speak from 4 centuries of experience in war and can tell you are making a momentous mistake. We are out here near the core standing between you and no less then five alien civilizations and yet you are concerned about expanding you sphere of influence or allowing an unimportant and dead corporation to define your policies. And do not think that we are not aware of certain alliances some of you wish to use. That is being taking care of. I ask for the last time. Pursue peace with the Morganites so that we can concentrate on larger matters at hand. In case you have not noticed there is a human faction that routinely allies with alien influences. If you are not careful the deaths of your soldiers will matter not when the onslaught from the core commences. Think of the bigger picture and go beyond the petty squabbles for a few chucks of useless rocks. If humanity does not stand firmly as one then we will fall separately. Beware of those that offer assistance to you least you find them bleeding your forces for their own gain.

                And again, war against the Morganites is war against the Spartan Federation.

                Sit down with the Morganites, end this at the table instead of in the coldness of space.

                Let it not be said that Sparta started this war, fore we have come with an olive branch and what happens in the future is on your hands.

                Respectively, Colonel Marcus Kessel: Colonel Of The Militia

                Copy Forwarded To CEO Morgan

                ***Private Transmission***
                To: Prime Minister of Earth Coalition, Elise Drecaille
                From: Colonel Marcus Kessel

                Prime Minister. I have contacted you in a hope that cooler heads will prevail. Earlier hostilities between elements of your alliance was of no concern to the Spartan Federation. But an official war against the Morganites is very much our concern since they are our allies. We cannot in good honor stand by and allow them to be attacked without responding in kind. We do not desire this outcome but if your alliance takes action, then it will become a matter of us honoring a long standing alliance of our own. I have recently been made aware of possible contact with nations of Chiron origin. I would remind your people that certain sections of humanity have become polluted with alien influences. Our position is and has always been a policy of containment toward the alien threat. The actions of the Terran Alliance seeks to destroy a delicate balance that has for four centuries kept the aliens attention directed toward each other instead of looking to the spiral arms. I do not presume to know all the reasons behind your alliances decision to pursue this war, but from a logical standpoint Morgan aggressions is only a tiny fraction of it. It appears that your alliance is eager to grow and that the actions of InEn were orchestrated or were taken advantage of by elements in your society to pursue your manifest destiny. Your manifest destiny will lead to ruin both for you and humanities ability to withstand the onslaught by either the Gorn or Bree civilizations. For empires like the Greater Hive Empire this would be a goal worth pursuing since they are in league or at the least cooperate with the Bree in sabotaging human attempts at defense.

                Our peoples need not be enemies. Together we can provide for the common defense against the alien threat and against those that aid them. If we fight, we distract from what should be our primary goal, The defense of humanity. It is too easy to get swept up in the tides of war. Our society has done so many times in the past only to spread the cult of violence and death. Most of our current generals and admirals have been fighting both man and alien for the better part of four hundred years. Now we dedicate our power and might against the aliens at the core. Please do not think though that we will not honor our pact with the CEO. Wither it is core ward or arm ward Sparta will protect it’s allies to the bitter end. Be our ally and not our enemy. Our rightful enemy are the aliens, but we must fight where honor directs us. I’ll end my letter as I end all my orders to my troops. Strength and Honor. Strength to stand against the tide, and Honor to know what is right.

                Sit down with the Morganites, end this at the table instead of in the coldness of space.

                Let it not be said that Sparta started this war, fore we have come with an olive branch and what happnes in the future is on your hands.

                Respectfully, Colonel Marcus Kessel: Colonel Of The Militia
                Which side are we on? We're on the side of the demons, Chief. We are evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I'm surprised you didn't know that. --Saul Tigh


                • Sic Semper Tyrannis!

                  FROM: Head/Covert Ops/Sol System/M.I.A.
                  TO: Head/M.I.A.

                  Mr. Ku, sir,

                  I am most proud and honored to be able to report to you that the assignment given us as of March 9th, 2701, has been successfully accomplished. As security around InEn heads of state was relaxed as co. shut down began, my men were allowed to move in for the purpose of executing your orders.

                  Your order, directing me to execute the terrorist heads of Interplanetary Enterprises, has been obeyed. Six of my men, in a single day (the 12th), took down a good eight minor InEn officers, and I myself was pleased to execute our enemy, the former head of InEn, and chief of the terrorist plotters, Craylen U. Kvaerner. There is cause to rejoice as our enemy, and the murderer of many of our brothers, has been killed.

                  I await further instructions.

                  FROM: The Goverment of Morgan Interstellar
                  TO: The Government of the Coalition of Earth

                  This is simply a short message to inform you that we are perfectly willing, indeed hoping, to effectively end this bloody war, which has lasted long enough and cost the lives of too many of the children of our great peoples. If you will be willing to sit down and negotiate peace terms, we will most certainly be there to listen to them, and we will do all we can to ensure peace.

                  We wish you all of our best.

                  Last edited by History Guy; April 13, 2002, 20:00.
                  Empire growing,
                  Pleasures flowing,
                  Fortune smiles and so should you.


                  • Going Home

                    The Palace, Nuevo San Antonio

                    Ian glanced out his chamber windows over the Capital city of the Protectorate. Off in the Distence, the skyscrapers of Alchemax and Stark-Fujikawa dominated, but in the old city, everything remained much as it had 700 hundred years ago.

                    Humanity could create such wonderful dreams, he mused. Remembering what he had done to Spartan Leader Laurence Tarwater so long ago, he gave a brief grin, and terrible nightmares.

                    The Morgan-Terran War was taking on a life of it's own. Sooner or later the Morganites and Believers would get tired and simply blast Earth out of existance. He couldn't allow that to happen, to many priceless artifacts remained on Earth.

                    Hopefully, the Terrans would be receptive to what he could offer.

                    Sol System, Between Mars and Earth

                    Foreign Minister Odysseus Grant paced the bridge of the Agrippa. He turned to the Commanding officer, one Captain John Matheson, and gave a curt nod. They had just entered real space, and several dozen TA warships were converging on their position.



                    To:Prime Minister of the Earth Coalition, Elise Drecaillie,
                    CC: Terran Alliance Government.
                    From: Lord Protecto Ian McDiarmid of the Protectorate of Man.
                    Subject: Greetings and Salutations!

                    Please, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ian McDiarmid, Lord Protector of Beta Hydri, Roving, and RE 123. I am sure you are wondering what faction or subfaction I orginiated from. I have sent a brief synopsis of the Protectorate's history along with this transmission, and I would be more than willing to sit down and chat with you on this later.

                    Madame Prime Minister, For 700 years now, my government has remained hidden from Humanity at large, which is just how we like it. However, times are changing, and it is now my decision that we should open up communications with the 'Galactic Club', as it were. Certainly, this would be very profitable for both us and you. My Historians, Anthropologists, and Archeologists are anxious to visit Earth. I must confess, I would like to visit Earth again before my time comes.

                    However, I would like to make an offer to you, a offer I hope you accept. We have been watching this conflict you are in with great interest, and have decided that this war must be stopped before it takes on a life of it's own. We have seen the dangers of deep space. The Bree, Progenitors, Gorn, the so-called Greater Hive Empire, they are held back only by the Chironians and, through quieter means, ourselves.

                    Therefore, the Protectorate of Man formally offers to mediate this conflict. We have extended the same offer to CEO Morgan, and he has been most receptive. I would like to invite you, or your Foreign Minister, to my Capitol of Nuevo San Antonio so peace talks can begin.

                    Madame Prime Minister, I pray that you except our offer, in the spirit that is given. You may send responses through the Agrippa, should you allow it to take up station at it's coordinates between Earth and Mars.

                    I eagerly await your response.

                    To: CEO Morgan, Morgan Intersteller
                    From: Lord Protector Ian McDiarmid

                    CEO Morgan, I have sent a vessel into the Sol System, carrying a similiar message and offer to the Terrans. Hopefully, togather we will be able to end this war before it takes on a life of it's own.

                    I would like to extend the possibility of the actually Peace Talks taking place here, in Nuevo San Antonio. I would of course understand if you would prefer it elsewhere, but from a poilitical standpoint, it seems the best. We have not taken part in your conflict, and so the neutral ground would seem like the ideal place.

                    CEO Morgan, I would like some information from you. Obviously, all information has a price, but perhaps we can offer you some compensation for it.

                    CEO Morgan....what do you know of the Human Hive?
                    Last edited by Lonestar; April 5, 2002, 01:45.
                    Today, you are the waves of the Pacific, pushing ever eastward. You are the sequoias rising from the Sierra Nevada, defiant and enduring.


                    • Hive Outpost Alpha
                      Rendez-vous point for Hive Expeditionary Fleet

                      The Hive Fleet exploded out of FTL travel into realspace. Admiral Bippol smiled as his other ships continued to pour out of FTL travel and joined the rest of the fleet. After waiting a few minutes for the last of the Hive ships arrive, the spacestation sent an Priority-One message to the flagship.

                      "Admiral, sir! We are receiving an urgent message from the spacestation!"

                      The Admiral, hands folded behind his back, turned nonchalantly around to face the comm-officer.

                      "Patch it through."

                      + + + + +

                      When all of your ships arrive at the rendez-vous point, you are to IMMEDIATELY set course for Morgan colony of Samnos. Commence attack IMMEDIATELY!!!

                      Hive Command
                      Confirmation Code Qian-09283
                      + + + + +

                      The Fran immediately snapped to attention.

                      "Order all ships to engage FTL to Samnos," Admiral Bippol barked, "All ships are to follow our attack plan. I want FULL BURN!"

                      The ship bridge was suddenly bathed in red, flashing light.

                      "As soon as we exit FTL travel, commence our attack."

                      Technicians ran from panel to panel, communications officers relayed Bippol's orders to the other ships.

                      Through all the chaos, the chief communications officer shouted to the admiral.

                      "All ships report ready for engagement sir!"

                      Bippol turned to the viewscreen and he felt the sudden rush of adrenaline flood his veins.

                      "Engage! For the Emperor!"

                      Thousands of voices echoed throughout the Hive fleet as they all jumped to FTL, headed toward Samnos.
                      Despot-(1a) : a ruler with absolute power and authority (1b) : a person exercising power tyrannically
                      Beyond Alpha Centauri-Witness the glory of Sheng-ji Yang
                      *****Citizen of the Hive****
                      "...but what sane person would move from Hawaii to Indiana?" -Dis


                      • Ah, Yes, the Hive...What a bunch...

                        FROM: CEO Nwabudike Morgan
                        TO: Lord Protector Ian McDiarmid

                        Lord Protector, sir,

                        Salutations. I thank you for your attempts to intervene in this war between the Terrans and ourselves. We wish for peace to be brought upon the land now. What we came to do is finished, Interplanetary Enterprises is a wrecked company, even it's former owner is dead. Enough people have died in the past six months, and I want it all to end. I fear that, without your generous offers of mediation, such a finale to this war would never come, as the Terrans are certainly too proud to offer any reparations, and the reparations they would demand we pay would be totally outrageous. Despite this, we seek a peaceful solution.

                        Neuvo San Antonio sounds like an excellent place to be held. You see the delicacy of the situation well. I at first thought of Morgan Metropolis, our second-largest city here on Cyrus, or even the moon Morgan Megatropolis, but Neuvo San Antonio works out much better for everyone.

                        Information, you say, on the Hive? Certainly, a price for this will be fixed. I can give you huge amounts of information through our own archival information on the Hive's activities on Chiron, how it works, thinks, etc. We can even give you details on Sheng-ji Yang himself. I must confess, I have a certain...distrust of the Hive. I hope you do not seek to ally yourself with the Greater Hive Empire as it calls itself, as it is ruthless, cunning, and it seeks to conquer all.

                        Here is one snippet I will give you with no charge at all: the Greater Hive Empire presently has a fleet in the Corporate Sector of Morgan Interstellar, and it is moving against our forces quickly...

                        Fare well,
                        Last edited by History Guy; April 15, 2002, 12:40.
                        Empire growing,
                        Pleasures flowing,
                        Fortune smiles and so should you.


                        • Vive Las Morgan

                          Morgan Megatropolis, a moon of Cyrus, Castor A, Capital Planet of Morgan Interstellar

                          “There is nothing so inevitable, inescapable, and so greatly feared as death…”

                          “…Except perhaps the income tax…”

                          A small box suspended from the ceiling of a huge room had delivered the first comment. The box was, of course, a television set. The reason of this somewhat macabre comment was that the start of a new episode of ‘In Search of the Past’ on MorganLinkHistoryStation had begun. The subject was the way death was treated by ancient civilizations. As the host yapped, a series of pictures was flashed across the screen. The first was of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the second was of a Jade sarcophagus made in ancient China, the third was of a Progenitor temple, the forth was of a Bree warrior's tomb, and the fifth was of a funeral pyre built by the Sea Peoples before the arrival of the civilizing Morganites.

                          The second comment had been delivered by a short, pop-eyed little chap named Neville Merchstone, a steward working in the casino building at Morgan’s Hideaway, a five-star resort ‘palace’ built atop Mount Nwabudike on Cyrus’ moon Achaemenid, a.k.a. Morgan Megatropolis. Morgan Hideaway was a palace. It was a huge building, covering almost two thousand acres of land, and this was not even including the golf-park. Today was much too cloudy for golf however. Morgan’s Hideaway was famous for being built atop Mount Nwabudike, which was by far the largest mountain on any known moon. Though it could be chilly at this time of year, much of the time it was a very pleasant area. The view, for one thing, was outstanding. From here one could even glimpse, in one of the greener areas of the mountain far below the summit upon which the resort was built, an exact reconstruction of Earth’s Oracle of Delphi. Farther down the slope, one could take an elevator right to the bottom, and there engage in a friendly game of golf, when conditions were right. From where Neville Merchstone stood in the casino, he could see through the windows the great Green Sea far below. 75% percent of this moon was water, and so the sea was not uncommon to see about this place.

                          Morgan’s Hideaway had everything. Besides the giant casino and the golf-park, there were huge swimming pools, saunas, a museum, four five-star restaurants, a dinner theater, and an opera house. It even had a building for conferences alone. It was ‘the’ resort. While the government of Morgan Interstellar owned the whole thing, the elusive Hassoun al Saleed managed it. Saleed’s flunky, the affable Mike Gladden, managed the casino. He wasn’t about at the moment that Neville Merchstone stood about, looking up at the TV hanging from the ceiling, and making his comment that raised a laugh from about everyone nearby, including his good pal Gustave Borke, who was something of a buffoon anyway.

                          “You think so?” said Borke with a laugh.

                          “Certainly, Gustave, I mean what would you rather be plagued by? Endless death or endless taxation?”

                          “I’d like another alternative, my friend,” responded Borke, still laughing, though everyone else had long stopped.

                          “Oh, alright, another alternative…having rats eternally give you nips, perhaps?”

                          “Nips, as in drinks? Didn’t know rats could make drinks too well…”

                          “No, nips as in bites, munchies…”

                          “Ah, well, in that case, death seems ok to me…” Borke then proceeded to put out some silverware for the next diners to occupy the table he was standing by. Neville Merchstone picked up a little pad listing the guest registrations for the casino building that afternoon, humming away in an annoying fashion, while adjusting his red bowtie.

                          “Hmmm…Gustave, we’ll be having some bleeding interesting blokes here today, I’ll tell you. The Honorable Martin Masterson will be here in about an hour it seems. Former governor of the planet Xerxes, I think, during the rebellion. Some of the natives burned him in effigy if I remember correctly…”

                          “Cepheleens…how did those devils ever get their names?”

                          “Morganites gave it to them during the original landings. Took one look at their dark skin, and their habitats beside the sea, and gave them the clever title after King Cepheus of Ethiopia.”

                          “Who of where?”

                          “Cepheus of Ethiopia, a mythical King from back on Earth, way back when men had heads like blocks of cement…ah the good old days…That guy Montrose Despard Turnwadson is coming as well…”

                          “Montrose Despard Turnwadson…oh Heavens, not the millionaire playboy chap…”

                          “Yes, that Montrose Despard Turnwadson, and he’s bringing a heap of his vixens…oohoo, I get first dibs on serving that table, beano.”

                          “Ah, come off it, Neville, you just want to lay your hands on his big tips, but I need real romance in my life right about now.”

                          “What, with your big nose and garlic breath, beano? Here’s a plebeian name for you…Deebar…Delbar, whatever. Ferdinand Delbar, who goes around with a plebeian name like that? How could he afford this sort of top of the notch place?”

                          “Don’t know, Nev’, up until about two minutes ago I didn’t even know there was a guy named Ferdinand Delbar anywhere ever…no, wait, hold on a minute…yes I did. In the news lately, minor tracking officer, the lucky cad who found the Terran’s little missive to our old chum Yang himself…I dare say he could afford this place now…”

                          “A tracking officer? Come off it!”

                          “Bloody right he can afford it now, mate, Morgan was ecstatic when he got the letter. Tripled Delbar’s raise and everything…he even presented him with twenty-five thousand credits for starters.” Simultaneously, the two snobbish little waiters gave a whistle, responding to the huge sum of money. It was then that the chief steward came along and boxed their ears.

                          For one of those few times in his rather tedious life, Ferdinand Delbar was really glad to be alive. With a wad of Morgan dollars in his black coat pocket, the Tracking Officer was prancing giddily down the long, hall, over the soft red carpet, and towards the doors to the casino lounge. As he slowly opened the doors to the room, he noticed the carved words placed into the marble just above the doorway. The words were those of the Morganite national motto: Vita, Libertas, et Copia. Life, Freedom, and Wealth. Just the sort of thing Delbar was sure awaited him inside the Morganite casino.

                          Indeed, as he flung open the doors, that is exactly what met his eyes. The lush room was literally giant. One wall was made of plexi-glass that revealed the greatest view one could see on any moon anywhere. The majestic snow-covered mountain slopes, the huge birds circling in the far distance (in all probability looking for some dead animal to munch on), Greenwater Falls cascading down the side of the mountain peak, it was a beautiful sight. “Hello, sir, how are you doing today?” asked the Steward who stood, smiling at the desk. His white suit was almost as white as the gleaming teeth that he displayed prominently between his upper gum and his lower gum.

                          “Oh, I’m fine thank you,” responded Delbar, sheepishly, “The name is Ferdinand Delbar, I believe you were expecting me...”

                          “Ah yes, Mr. Delbar…my, we are lucky today, the Government wants us to look after you very well, you know, very good treatment, sir. Oh, and they want you to have a seat by the plexi-glass for dinner today as well…”

                          “Oh, splendid…I have about one thousand credits to use up today, I suppose…What do you suggest I start on?”

                          “Well, I’d say follow your whim, Mr. Delbar, though my favorite is the card game.”

                          “I’m not at all good at cards, actually.”

                          “Oh, I’m sure you are.”

                          “Really, I’m pretty bad at them.”

                          “Oh, I can’t believe that.”

                          “It’s true.”

                          Exasperated, the steward with the smile responded, “Well, you could always try the Wheel of Fortune over there…”

                          “The Wheel of Fortune?”

                          “Yes. Over there. You choose a number in the wheel, the wheel is rolled around, and the ball that is put in the wheel lands on a number. If it’s your number, you win!”

                          “Oh, thanks, steward.”

                          “Angelo, I’m Angelo,” replied the Steward, pointing enthusiastically at his nametag.

                          “Oh, alright, thanks…Angelo. I’ll go over to your wheel thing over there, then…” Hopping over to the wheel, and rolling the cash around in his pocket with his hand, Delbar decided, for one of the few times in his life, to be adventurous. The steward at the wheel watched him come up, and greeted him. “Oh, um, Steward…let’s try 30 Morgan dollars on number 14.”

                          “30 Morganite dollars on number 14, OK, Monsieur.” The little Steward, while playing with his heavily waxed mustache, rolled the wheel, and dropped the little white ball into the center, the eye of the wheel, so to say. “Number 25, Monsieur. You lose, sorry. Don’t worry, your money will be handed over to a worthy charity.” The steward took Delbar’s money out of the Tracking Officers hand and carefully tucked it into his breast pocket. He had a remarkably devilish grin on his face, and a little glint in his left eye.

                          Delbar decided to give up being adventurous, and was walking over to a billiards table when someone shouted at him. It was a friendly sort of shout, and so Ferdinand turned round. “Ferdy! Don’t you remember me? It’s Montrose, from college!” Ferdinand saw the fellow now, dressed in some crazy looking suit. It was Montrose Despard Turnwadson, the playboy millionaire, and an acquaintance of the Tracking Officer’s from college. Though Ferdinand never quite liked old Monty, he made his way towards him. As he approached, he realized that Montrose Despard Turnwadson was surrounded by a herd of young women. Two snooty looking stewards also appeared to be hovering around the area, watching the girls closely. Delbar now knew that the chances of having a pleasant, peaceful two-week stay were getting very slim.

                          “There he is now, Neville,” Delbar vaguely herd one say to the other, “that Montrose chap…and there’s the Tracking Officer guy…”

                          “Let’s tactfully hover about the area, beano,” said the other one, “That way we can catch flying tips easily…and we’ll be about those women as well, eh, partner? Heh heh?”

                          “Hello there, Monty, I haven’t seen you since, heavens, graduation day, twelve years ago…heard of you since, of course, but hadn’t seen you…”

                          “Yes, we’ll just recently I heard of you, you sly little devil,” said Monty with a grin, “Intercepting some valuable messages there.”

                          “Oh, you heard about that did you?”

                          “How did you get here, anyway, chum?” asked Monty, putting his arm around Delbar’s shoulder.

                          “Holiday. All that money Morgan presented me with got me up here, I must say.”

                          “Heard you met the CEO too. What did you do, sit around watching football…or chorus girls or something?”

                          “Well, had a cigar with him, and some vino as well.”


                          “I see you’ve developed a cult following here, or something to that effect…”

                          “Oh, the girls? Nah, I just picked them up in various Morganite cities. The tall blonde, that’s Samantha, Cynthia’s standing behind her, and then there’s Janet as well!”

                          “Oh, charming, I guess.”

                          “Let’s go over to the Wheel of Fortune…”

                          “I just came from there, actually…”

                          “Well, there’s always billiards then!”

                          Several minutes later, Ferdinand Delbar found himself quietly watching the famed millionaires, Montrose Despard Turnwadson, and ‘Merry’ Martin Masterson (clothed in a pleasant looking tweed coat) play a friendly game of pool. The friendliness existed in name only, though, as it seemed the two millionaires had an immediate dislike for each other. They, it seemed, also knew each other from some school, and they referred to each other as ‘Slug-head’ or ‘Moose-nose’. Obviously old school chums indeed. Delbar could think of some more interesting things to do than watch this bloody game, of course. Delbar quietly sipped some coffee from his paper cup. This coffee was much better than anything one could get from the machine at Tracking Station Three, that was for sure.

                          “Well, Delbar, since you and the CEO are now the best of friends, and all, what do you know about the current events?” Turnwadson may have been just a little jealous of Delbar in a way.

                          “Nothing you don’t know, I think. Except maybe that Samnos is indeed in serious danger. The military analysts are all predicting that it will fall soon, perhaps tomorrow…all too predictable…”

                          Montrose clicked his tongue as he managed to hit the green ball into one of the center pockets, much to Martin’s dismay. “You know,” said Montrose, “I’ve got investments wrapped up in that place, so I’d bloody well prefer it if they hang on there a bit…You sure it’s gonna fall?”

                          “Well, just about. I’m no military expert, but I’ve heard military experts say it will…”

                          “Scratch!” cried Martin Masterson as Montrose knocked the eight ball into a pocket, quite by accident.

                          “Oh heck…Well, I’d better go back and call my agent, tell him to sell everything I’ve got in Samnos, and move the investments over to…some coffee bean company or something…be right back, Ferdy”, and with that Montrose walked towards a pay phone. As Montrose walked off with a little wave, Delbar turned round, smiling at the girls, who giggled tremendously.

                          “I guess I’d better chuck this,” said Delbar, holding up his empty paper cup. He then turned about to a trashcan standing nearby. Those two stewards were still watching the girls. Typical. Delbar crushed the cup in his hand and push open the lid of the trashcan, dropping in the squashed lump of Styrofoam.

                          “Thank you for preserving the environment,” the trashcan said suddenly. Delbar was shocked and horrified.
                          Last edited by History Guy; April 15, 2002, 14:49.
                          Empire growing,
                          Pleasures flowing,
                          Fortune smiles and so should you.


                          • Push the Limits

                            Oh, the glamour and fame of being the Prime Minister. Not an inkling of that had fallen on Elise Drecaille - she was not too disappointed of it, but really, she did expect something more then just sending around messages when deciding in kindergarten that she will become the PM. She had always thought that the President was there for that - but not. The President, he was the head figure, the fellow who attended to meetings and did all the political PR. It was the Prime Minister who had all the threads in her hands.

                            And even now, she could of been watching an armadaful of warships incinerating Orbital Defence Platforms to smithereens - but, diplomacy is a sport that required great tact and, above all, diligency.

                            Secured diplomatic transmission (65g)

                            To: Hive Ambassador Siilk

                            From: Prime Minister Drecaille

                            Thank you for your swift reply. We ignored the Morganite affair in our response, as we thought it would be in the best interest of both parties if you opened the dialogue on the matter with greater detail.

                            First off, I am surprised to hear that you are soon going to assault the Morganite colony of Samnos. As I write this message, the Terran Alliance Fleet, bolstered with a Battle Squadron of our own, is placing itself around the colony, preparing to strike.

                            I will notify the Terran Fleet Command of this matter immediately, and try to convince them to ignore your ships. Of course, I will keep my 'source' as unknown as possible, and try to keep the lid on our relations for a little longer. I will relay you a 2048-digit numeral and alphabetical code, and instructions on how to transmit it so that the Terran vessels will avoid engagement with your ships.

                            The Morganite affair, yes, a most complex one. I have received several messages from around the local arm, particularly from the Spartan Colonel Kessel, trying to get this thing with the Morganites sorted out.

                            The Protectorate has volunteered to mediate - I consider this an act of great goodwill and an excellent chance to get more acquainted with this new faction. We will transmit you a copy of a message we will send to the Protectorate of Man.

                            Also, since the Morganites are willing to make peace with us, and since the price they would pay for it will be hefty - they are in the brink of annihilation with our and your forces combined attacking them - I have decided to send my Minister of External Affairs to the Protectorate homeworld to discuss terms of peace. If you have any suggestions as to our demands for them, do air them.

                            Of course, the arrangements for the negotiations will last for some time - while that takes place, the TAF and the ECSN will be more then glad to take over some Morganite assets, with the gracious help of the Hive Expeditionary Fleet. Even though we are planning to end our conflict with the Morganites in the near future, it does not mean that this gesture of support would go unnoticed - on the contrary.

                            Elise Drecaille


                            Then, Drecaille quickly conversed via the commlink with Daniel Stormhill, Secretary General of Terran Alliance.


                            Secured diplomatic transmission (66g)

                            To: Colonel Marcus Kessel, Spartan Federation

                            From: Secretary General Daniel Stormhill, TA

                            Firstly, my greatest apologies for the apparent 'ignoring' of your messages. There was a series of blackouts and other 'gremlins' in our systems, and apparently your transmissions got lost in the way. Again, my apologies. I have now read both of them, and am more then willing to reply.

                            The Terran Alliance's ultimate goal is nothing else then uniting the people of Earth under the same banner, the banner of the Alliance, that is. We strive to regain the situation of the early 2260's, when most of the known humanity was combined as the Coalition of Earth, and the 26th Century when the Alliance was formed.

                            That is our target, and we will keep our sights on that target - we will achieve, whether by force or by diplomacy.

                            This brings in the alien threat. That is why the original TA was formed in the first place - mutual intimidation brought by an unknown species aiming for our destruction. And that is why the Alliance wants to achieve it's ultimate goal: to form a standing front to combat any threats to the Mankind. Once again, whether by force or by diplomacy, preferring the latter, but more then ready for the former.

                            We are aware of the 'faction with alien influences'; apparently, this is the Human Hive, or what has become of the original faction of Chiron. As I write this, our fleets are engaging the Morgan colony of Samnos; and according to our Intel, the Hive will accompany us in this attack. Why, is uncertain to me, but as long as the Hive keeps this stance of hostility against Morgan Interstellar, who initiated this bloodbowl by attacking our colony on Capella, they are cordial friends of our federation. Of course, we disdain the politics this faction represents, but in this situation, one mustn't be too picky.

                            It is regrettable that the Spartan Federation is allied with the Morganites - and since we do regard you as people of great esteem, we have decided to approach the Morganites in terms of peace, once we have completed our campaign in Samnos. After that, the situation will be re-evaluated in the Terran Council, and then we will probably move to negotiations with the Morganites. For this task, the Protectorate, a faction of direct Earth origins, has volunteered to mediate, and the Minister of External Affairs of the Coalition of Earth, and a representative of the Alliance, will tend to the negotiations.

                            So, we are fully planning for a peace treaty with the Morganites, and because of that, we do hope that cooler heads will prevail - both in this and your end of the line. We will transmit you a copy of a message we will send to the Protectorate of Man.

                            Daniel Stormhill


                            Secured Private Diplomatic Transmission (86d)

                            To: Colonel Marcus Kessel

                            From: Prime Minister Elise Drecaille

                            I suggest that you read the message sent by Mister Stormhill before reading this message.

                            Now, it is clear that we are planning for peace negotiations, details of which are listed in Stormhill's message.

                            It is apparent that you are implying that the Police State Hive and our faction has some sort of deep relations. I can not deny, that we have been in shallow contact with them, but I assure you that we have no hidden agenda with them, nor do we plan a devious pact with the alien races to sell out the Chironian kind. Of course, we are willing to have agreements with the aliens - the Scions *can* be considered a different species, and are members and great contributors of the TA, and an alien race did aid us in achieving Superluminal travel. We have no deep friendship with the aliens, but we are not planning a racial cleansing operation, either.

                            What comes to InEn, it's former head man, CEO Kvaerner, has been brutally assasinated, by what seems to be foreign operatives, and effectively the corporation has been disbanded, and melded to the Alliance. Because of this, the old quarrel between InEn and MI no longer remains; the only reason for the ongoing and soon ending war is the fact that Coalition lives were taken on Callisto, and that the Alliance outpost on Capella was savagely taken. This was done by the Morgan Interstellar, to people of factions that had had no part in the engagement with the diplomatic vessel that visited Moon and set the whole conflict on fire.

                            I hope this clears some questions that have arised. I apologize if I have missed something - at this moment, I am in great hurry.

                            Elise Drecaille


                            Secured Diplomatic Transmission (67/65)

                            To: Morgan Interstellar

                            From: Coalition of Earth

                            We have received your message. We are currently making arrangements for a possible peace negotiation; the Protectorate has probably already contacted you on this matter. However, the campaign on Samnos will continue until further notice. Your desire for peace has not gone unnoticed. We will transmit you a copy of a message we will send to the Protectorate of Man.


                            Secured Diplomatic Transmission (67/99)

                            To: Lord Protector Ian McDiarmid of the Protectorate of Man
                            Copies sent to: Colonel Marcus Kessel; Government of Morgan Interstellar.
                            Hidden copy sent to: Hive Ambassador Sillk
                            From: Secretary General of the Terran Alliance, Daniel Stormhill,
                            Prime Minister Elise Drecaille of the Coalition of Earth

                            The knowledge of an entirely new faction on the Local Arm's political spetrum is always as surprising. We are fascinated of the story of your origins, and the fact that you are immediately willing to show your good will towards us.

                            Peter Kalm is the Coalition Minister of External Affairs. He will lead a delegation of EC and TA representives to your homeworld, along with a group of scientists to further research and to discuss with your scientific community - they have probably much to talk about. Our Office of Foreign Affairs and your respective official will handle the details and other arrangements. We only hope that the Morganites will agree to negotiate, as well.

                            Your vessel Agrippa has been allowed to place itself on the location it desired for; also, we have given it and it's crew the status of Ambassador - the only exception being, should the ship engage in hostilities with our forces.
                            Cake and grief counseling will be available at the conclusion of the test. Thank you for helping us help you help us all!


                            • Samnos Besieged

                              Morganite Colony: Samnos

                              The evacuation ships leaving Samnos' surface continued to ferry citizens off-planet. Although most of the citizens had left in the initial exodus, many citizens still remained. Those that were too poor could not afford transit; Those too attached to their homes refused to leave.

                              One ship in particular was on its way to another system and was just clear of the planet's gravity well when an unknown ship blinked into existence next to it.

                              Suddenly, dozens and dozens of more ships appeared around the evacuation ship. The skies around Samnos were suddenly filled with devious-looking ships.

                              The Hive Fleet had arrived.

                              Admiral Bippol stood on the bridge of his command ship, People's Glory.

                              "Target that ship, I want it destroyed."

                              At his command, dozens of ship batteries from multiple ships opened fire, sending hundreds of projectiles at the unprotected vessel.

                              Bippol watched as the ship was literally torn apart by Hive fire.

                              "Incoming message from ship, my lord." A comm-officer shouted from his station. "Admiral, they say they are carrying over 200 unarmed Morganite civilians!"

                              The admiral smiled, "Then they should have gotten out of here faster, lieutenant."

                              The Fran watched as seconds later the Morganite ship exploded, killing hundreds of innocent civilians.

                              A tactical officer listening to incoming communications abruptly turned to face the admiral.

                              "Sir, Morganite warships surrounding Samnos are ordering us to leave. They say we are in violation of their space and are threatening to destroy all of our ships."

                              Bippol turned to the officer and laughed heartily, placing his hands on his hips.

                              "Ha! Don't they know? This is Hive territory now."

                              Bippol continued to laugh as he shouted new orders.

                              "Launch all fighters. Commence attack. I want no survivors." Bippol turned to his side and muttered.

                              "Ahh, these Morgan's. Such humor..."

                              Numerous hangar bays opened throughout the fleet and literally hundreds of fighters and bombers swarmed from their nests, advancing on the Morganite ships like a cloud of menacing flies.

                              The swarm of fighters and bombers immediately formed attack formations and advanced on the Morganite defense forces.


                              Admiral Bippol watched as his fighters sped toward the Morgans on the tactical screen. He listened as the time to contact counted down.

                              "Contact in Five.....Four.....Three.....Two.....Fighters now engaging enemy forces."

                              Hive Fighter Wing "Gongsun Zan"
                              Pilot: Devin Himlock/ Hive Pilot GZ-28 (Human)

                              Pilot GZ-28 stared in front of him and felt sick. The Morganite vessels were firing at him and numerous projectiles filled his field of vision.

                              Devin pulled at his flight-stick and felt his stomach lurch as his ship jerked abruptly upward while narrowly avoiding being hit. He immediately pulled down and leveled off and saw his target, a large Morganite cruiser.

                              Devin's stomach roiled inside him as his commander's voice filled his cockpit.

                              "All fighter's engage target. I want precision strafing."

                              Pilot Devin reached for the throttle and pushed it forward, increasing his speed to his target. He glanced over his viewport and saw his other wing-men take formation beside him. An explosion suddenly jolted his fighter and he intuitively knew one of his wing-men were dead.

                              Devin instead focused on his target directly ahead of him and opened fire with his rail gun. He instantly felt his fighter jostle from his ships rail gun while he zoomed closer to his target.

                              As he closed in, he instinctively dodged incoming fire and pulled up from his dive, strafing the large Morganite ship all the while.

                              When he pulled away to commence a second run he felt something huge impact his ship. Glaring out his port-side he saw his entire left wing blown apart. Spiralling out of control, the last thing pilot Devin saw was hundreds more of his fellow fighters closing in on the enemy fleet.

                              Devins ship suddenly exploded from a direct hit, his fighters oxygen supply creating a small flower of fire in space before dissipating.

                              Hive Bomber Wing "Fists of Kang"
                              Bomber Pilots: Shasshk Frir (Xiero) FK-1/ Rangor Galrick (Bulwark), Pilot FK-2

                              Galrick watched as a fighter spiraled out of control after having its wing blown off. He watched as the ship took a direct hit on its underbelly and exploded, showering space with debris.

                              Frir , the gunner, sat behind him and punched the targeting codes.

                              "Concussion missiles armed. Targeting Morganite vessel designated 'Alpha-1'."

                              Galrick glanced his heads-up display and nodded.

                              "Confirmed. Fire when ready."

                              Frir pressed the launch button and two concussion missiles sped toward their target.

                              Hive Command Ship People's Glory

                              Admiral Bippol watched the tactical screen as hundreds of blue dots swarmed around the enemy forces red dots.

                              He turned toward the comm-officer, growing impatient.

                              "Give the order for our capital ships to advance. Have the carriers and two corvettes stay behind to protect our troop ships. I also want three fighter wings to stay behind for protection as well."


                              Bippol looked at the viewscreen showing the battle and watched as dozens of his fighters exploded from the Morganite fire.

                              "Once we are in range, I want all ships to commence fire....We'll see how well they fair against our ships."

                              Minutes later, the rest of the Hive fleet engaged the Morganite defense force.
                              Last edited by Frankychan; April 9, 2002, 01:21.
                              Despot-(1a) : a ruler with absolute power and authority (1b) : a person exercising power tyrannically
                              Beyond Alpha Centauri-Witness the glory of Sheng-ji Yang
                              *****Citizen of the Hive****
                              "...but what sane person would move from Hawaii to Indiana?" -Dis


                              • Interlude: A Little Good News

                                Front Page

                                The Grove Guardian (Magnigoth Pass, Firaxis):
                                “Government Okays New Mars Treaty” – The Ministry of Trade is set to expand links with the Mars Combine, a spokesman said today . . .

                                The Republic (Avalon, Vega Prime):
                                “Menelaus On Our Minds” – With our city preparing to host the second high-level foreign delegation in as many months, we’re bringing readers exclusive information on the Lakedaemon Cadre, courtesy of Spartan Ambassador Michael Cruz Rodriguez . . .

                                Daily News (Caledon, Vega Prime):
                                “Breakthrough! Scientists Say Temple May Be Hibernating AI” – Researchers believe that the complex of ruins known as the Grand Temple may in fact be a computer left on Vega by a long-dead alien race. Head researcher Derek Sorensen told a press conference yesterday that his team was still collecting data . . .


                                The Republic (Avalon, Vega Prime):
                                “Maxwell On A High” – Thousands of socialist activists and supporters turned out for Freedom Party Senator and former Domai stalwart Ethan Maxwell’s campaign-opening rally yesterday, where he promised changes at the upcoming Congressional elections . . .

                                Red Star (Southshore, Vega Prime):
                                “Red Tide: What The New Republic Is Afraid Of” – Senator Ethan Maxwell addressed a rapturous audience here in Southshore yesterday. He urged all his supporters to condemn Morgan Interstellar’s actions against the Earth, and promised that, in relation to the imminent Congressional election, “there is no rest for the wicked”. Speakers also called for the release of jailed Firaxian social democrat John Antoja, arrested last month for entering the country on false documents . . .


                                The Grove Guardian (Magnigoth Pass, Firaxis):
                                “We Hold These Truths” The government should not lose sight of our basic philosophies when dealing with other states.

                                The Republic (Avalon, Vega Prime)
                                “The Further We Fall” Why the Hive is the real danger.

                                New Seattle Examiner (New Seattle, Firaxis)
                                “Eco-Traitors” Poachers and eco-terrorists may be polar opposites, but both are equally un-Firaxian.

                                Life and Times (Blackburn, Vega Prime)
                                “Peace In Our Time” The Bree slipped through the net and captured MI-35 for two heart-stopping weeks. So why is President Adams delaying the development of the Merlin-class destroyer?


                                The Grove Guardian (Magnigoth Pass, Firaxis):
                                “Soccer: National Coach’s Gamble Pays Off” – National coach Dave Regis’ surprise decision to include 20-year-old midfielder Matt Clarke ahead of more experienced players was vindicated as the Orchard Valley youngster scored the winning goal in the World of Trees’ 1-0 victory over the University on Saturday . . .

                                The Republic (Avalon, Vega Prime):
                                “Season Of Snow And Goals” – The most exciting soccer season on record is finally over. But the ice hockey and football promises to be every bit as good. All eyes will be on the Football League’s rookies, while our stars of the ice will be hoping to impress national selectors ahead of the Gold Cup (continued on page 6) . . .

                                News Extra

                                The Republic (Avalon, Vega Prime)
                                “The Legend” – Albert Franco, decorated veteran of Ophelia, Altair, and the Bree Fringe, has moved up to the fifteenth floor at the Defense Department. Where would the Republic be if he had been forced to leave the Marines in his first year, after a training accident? We profile . . .

                                Red Star (Southshore, Vega Prime):
                                “There’s Something About Socialism” – Often praised, much maligned, frequently misunderstood. Yet socialism remains one of the most influential ideologies in the galaxy, easily the equal of capitalism or even Christianity. What is the secret of its success?


                                Firaxian Financial Review (Orchard Valley, Firaxis)
                                “Red Planet Rising” – Investment opportunities on Mars are growing out of sight. The new agreements could not have come at a better time for Firaxian venture capitalists . . .

                                The Grove Guardian (Magnigoth Pass, Firaxis)
                                “The Boomerang” – Doomsayers predicted Orion Arm-wide economic ruin if Morgan Interstellar and Interplanetary Enterprises clashed. So where is it?

                                Stellar Merchant (Space City, Vega Prime)
                                “Open Doors” - The Protectorate is a closed economy, but Lakedaemon is shaping up as the most promising new market . . .
                                Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.