Sunday, 8 July 2012

Interstellar Dispatches 10

Originally posted by Town Criers Guild on February 29, 2008
Featured articles in this issue:

  • White Shantor Born on Shaprut
  • Lost Brothers Sighted?
  • Star Race Yachting Challenge
  • Memories from Baron Halman Keddah
  • Agora Notices

NEWS
White Shantor Born on Shaprut
SHAPRUT – Tabriz – The Shantor reservation of Sada is now the site of a very unusual pilgrimage. Shantor from several reservations are traveling to visit the newborn, whose name translates as Runs-before-the-Wind. The birth of a white foal is remarkable for a species that does not manifest albinism.

We asked one of their own elders and a sun priest of the Shantor faith, Greets-the-Dawn, to explain the significance of this event. Spoken through a dolomei, his words are stilted and confusing: “Long have Shantor we, held to prophecy born a great leader will. Wear hide like none have seen, not even among most distant Families of the world. Pale as sun-bleached sands of Rocana, bright as noonday sky. Many interpretations of these song-verses, perhaps verses relate to Great Runner; perhaps they sing for Runs-before-the Wind. Soon is the time.”

It would seem that the Shantor believe a great change is coming to Shaprut to reunite all the lost herds and lead them to a new dawn. Of course, this is an ancient prophesy from before the Diaspora. No one in a position of authority seems too concerned about the birth of a supposed messiah among these alien ungulates.

Sir Basim Hamet al-Malik, a spokesman for the Human-Shantor Relations Council (HSRC) said, “This is unusual behavior for the beasts; while it is traditional for all members of a herd to visit a newborn, I have never seen other family groups make such arrangements. I have even heard reports that some off-world Shantor have applied for travel permits. I do not think anyone needs to be concerned; we have the situation under control.”

When approached for comment, the famed Shantor rebel Alahad Star-Running al-Malik declined, saying only that printing his words would bring about censure of this article. He said that telling this tale was more important than any political agenda.

Lost Brothers Sighted?
HARGARD – Achiharta – A Brother Battle Benediction-class troopship has been spotted in the Achiharta spaceport, reports our new guildhouse on Hargard, the planet also known as Vuldrok. The world borders Hawkwood space through a jumproad to Leminkainen. On the tip of a keen-eyed trader, we tracked the ship to the starport in question.

The starport authority denied a request for more information, but ground staff and other traders confirmed that a starship matching the description had recently departed Hargard after a weeklong stay. Our investigations prove that members of the Brother Battle order met a number of questionable individuals and may have been attempting to purchase a jumpkey leading deeper into barbarian space.

We were unable to confirm that this is the same Benediction-class vessel recently lost en route to Stigmata. Regardless, there are serious questions as to the purpose of the vessel and its troops, unaccompanied in Vuldrok space.

A Brother Battle spokesman, Adept Cassious Blane, declined to comment, but promised a full statement when he had received all the relevant facts. We understand that the order is preparing to send a delegation to Hargard to examine the situation.

Star Race Yachting Challenge
BANNOCKBURN – Glesga – Two swift years have passed since Bannockburn dismally failed to recover the Solar Chalice. All eyes are on the defending champion, Sir Ivan Kadrov Decados and his racing yacht, the Mantis Crown. Emotions were running high this year and several of the contenders had vowed to wrestle the trophy from the hands of the Decados nobleman.

It appeared that Bannockburn's Blue Shift was fated to lose again when Captain Avon Toloman quit the team a few months ago, refusing to work in such close quarters with the Gannok crewmembers and specifically with their infamous stench. Team manager and sponsor Chief Isaac Bulmer then controversially announced that an all-Gannok crew had been assembled for the yacht: "This makes sense on a number of levels, including mass reduction and saving space." The issue of the peculiar Gannok scent went unmentioned.

The Star Yacht Challenge is a wildly popular race that starts and ends at Bannockburn's jumpgate. Race markers in the orbit of every planet in the system ensure that the course is different every year, because the planets themselves are oriented differently around the system's sun. Most racers chose to collect the markers on a single sweep, then come about to make a sprint for the jumpgate. The star yachts themselves come in many varied forms, but typically include a cramped life support capsule suspended behind a large solar sail, with only a navigational shield for protection.

Tipsters at the Bookmakers' Guild were unsure how the Blue Shift would fare without human leadership—initial odds were as low as 100:1 against, with the defending champions of the Mantis Crown favored, alongside the Charioteer-backed Trail Blazer and another returning craft, the Sky Flash. Fans of the Cup may remember the latter, captained by Baronet Shayla al-Malik, from the race held two years ago, in which an asteroid collision nearly took her life.

This year's race provided more than a few surprises, though the Mantis Crown took an early lead as expected. Blue Shift started close behind, but soon gave way to the Trail Blazer, because the Gannok crewmembers were reluctant to test the limits of what their newly designed craft could do.

By Day Five, the Blue Shift had made several course corrections, ignoring one of the markers on the innermost planet. In a daring surprise maneuver, the yacht took a direct path towards the Bannockburn star.

Executing a perfectly coordinated slingshot maneuver, the Blue Shift skirted the star’s corona, shooting out past the rocky planet she had skipped to collect the last marker. Exactly how the Blue Shift escaped the star's burning corona is still disputed. While some point to the team's good relations with the Superior Order of Engineers as a source for a small but effective shield, there are other, darker rumors about Ur-Tech kept secret by these simian aliens.
However, the delay caused by the circumnavigation of the star placed ‘Arran' and the final marker beacon on a direct path to the jumpgate. With her sails fully deployed for the first time in the race, burning everything she had for speed, the Blue Shift finally looked like she might be in the race.

The Blue Shift crossed the finish marker a full hour ahead of the Mantis Crown. Lug Lug Kulo, Gannok Captain of the Blue Shift and main developer of the Solar Sling, as the maneuver has been dubbed in local media, led his crew back to Bannockburn to be hailed as heroes by jubilant crowds.

According to our sources, Captain Lug Lug Kulo is considering going on a book tour and founding a yachting school to train the next generation of young Gannok pilots. To this end, offers of sponsorship are certainly welcome.

SOCIETY
This issue’s featured memories come from the Baron Halman Keddah:

In my youth I admit to having played at being a soldier. I served my time as the captain of the frigate Etryus. Though the necessities of the war required that I should live within a small metal box in the void, there did not pass a day that I did not yearn to return home to my beloved Grail.

I admit freely to my dislike and disquiet at having to live aboard a starship and the close confines it presents. My daughter jokes that for this reason I spent so long a time in the diplomatic service, because I would rather face the Decados Count of Malignatius than make the return voyage to Grail.

House Keddah survived the Emperor Wars in better condition than many of the other noble Houses, but the price was high. We lost many sons, brothers, and fathers in that conflict and we give thanks for their ultimate sacrifice. But their blood and the blood of countless others now stains the stars, and I have seen the foolishness of war. War is nothing but the utter failure of civilization. It is not a thing of honor, as the Hazat believe, but a degradation of all that the Pancreator has given to us.

We call those who live beyond our borders ‘barbarians’ but for truth we have been little better over the last few decades. Now unified under the banner of the Phoenix, we can again hope to achieve new heights as a beacon of hope for all peoples. Only through peace and diplomacy can we aspire to create, for war brings only destruction, even to the victor.

I have been fortunate in that the privilege of my status has allowed me to see many of the Known Worlds, to travel, and to meet with many fascinating people and encounter many intriguing ideas. I admire all who take up the Emperor's banner in Quest, for they are the future. To see all that the universe has to see is to behold and admire the great works of the Pancreator. In truth, that could never be considered a sinful thing.

— Baron Halman Keddah has served his House as a diplomat and envoy to House Decados for almost a decade. These days he lives in semi-retirement on his estate on Grail.

AGORA NOTICES
The Town Crier's Guild takes no responsibility for Notices solicited in its reports. Dissatisfaction with product or services should be addressed to the merchant or manufacturer. If you can read these, then caveat emptor.

Rampart Studios Top 5 Magic Lantern Features
The Bornagain Ultimatum – The concluding chapter of the Bornagain Trilogy (Bornagain Identity [4997], Bornagain Supremacy [4999]) that follows the daring exploits of Father Jack Bornagain has he tries to rediscover his identity and track down the heathens who stole his memories.

Dirk Dangerous Husk Hunter – A ripping action adventure in the Dirk Dangerous series (Dirk Dangerous Symbiot Hunter [4998], Dirk Dangerous Demon Hunter [5000]). Dirk uncovers a seed of evil that is raising the dead to besiege a town. Can he prevail when the Husks just won't stay down?

Assault Lander Down – A daring raid on an enemy stronghold leaves the Brothers Battle stranded in the midst of enemy territory. As a legion of Symbiots closes in, Brothers must hold out until rescue arrives.

The Hamlet – A small pagan enclave on Ungovorox is designed to be close to nature. It is not long until they start to fall to the predators that lurk in the forest. Only the words of a blind Eskatonic can lead them to salvation and guide them back to the light of the Pancreator.

Where the Phoenix Dares – Set against the backdrop of the Emperor Wars, this epic follows the daring exploits of small team of Phoenix Guard Commandos, as they must rescue a captured officer before he can reveal the Regent's plans.