Monday, 23 July 2012

Interstellar Dispatches 16

Originally posted by Town Crier's Guild on August 30, 2008
Featured articles in this issue:

  • Comet Pulverizes Dora
  • al-Malik Fleet Recalled from Stigmata
  • Patriarch Makes First Public Appearance in Months
  • Three Men on a Hill
  • Agora Notices

Comet Pulverizes Dora
ISTAKHR – Samarkand – Astronomers have been watching the approach of the Najahan Comet as it entered the inner solar system on its 143-year orbit around Shams. Orbital calculations provided by the Charioteers Guild indicated that it would pass within one hundred thousand kilometers of Dahab—in astronomical terms a close call.

“Truly accurate predictions are difficult to give.” said Commander Papad al-Rashan, “We are just not sure exactly how close it will pass, but it will miss us by a small margin.”

Two days before Najahan would make its close fly-by of Dahab, Commander al-Rashan issued an alert that updated predictions based on newly observed data. This data indicated a high probability of the comet impacting, not on Dahab, but with one of its moons, Dora.

The Najahan Comet stuck Dora with the force of several hundred million megatons splitting the tiny moon apart and raining debris on both Dahab and Dora’s sister moon Darma. Dora is now little more than an orbiting cloud of rock and particulates. The sudden destruction of its twin moon, and the gravitational shock waves, have shifted Darma’s orbital path. Debris impacts on Dahab have caused seismic shocks that have split the world’s crust in several places, filling its already toxic atmosphere with dust.

Dahab and its moons are fortunate to have a low level of population, the largest concentration of people being in the Hagz prison complex. Apart from that facility, there were military personnel stationed at listening posts and some small-scale mining operations. Most of the population was able to go to ground, and the Administrator of Hagz, Baron Haqkim Ib-Naz al-Malik, opened his doors to admit those in need of shelter in preparation for fallout from the cataclysm. The al-Malik fleet dispatched a hospital ship and escorts from their base on Medina to assist in the aftermath.

Casualties were expected to be high, but the Hagz Dome has survived intact. The Charioteers have issued a warning to all ships in the vicinity that uncharted debris may be a hazard to shipping and that any vessel not directly involved with rescue operations should make course corrections to avoid the area.

al-Malik Fleet Recalled from Stigmata
STIGMATA – Damark Station – The Town Criers Guild has learned that the al-Malik fleet, deployed to prevent treasure hunters from disturbing the Symbiot world of Daishan four months ago, has been recalled from the Stigmata Jumpgate. Imperial garrison forces were given only scant hours notice of the withdrawal before the fleet jumped out to Shaprut.

A spokeswoman for House al-Malik, Lady Shanti Antrune al-Malik, assured our reporter that over the past months the threat posed by treasure hunters had been greatly reduced. She elaborated that intelligence operations conducted in tandem with the Charioteers Guild operatives had taken control of a significant number of illegal jumpkeys believed to give access to the Daishan system and that a physical blockade was no longer required.

Sir Kalen Decados of the Order of the Mantis was heard to remark, “Surprised they lasted this long. It was a high tariff that was paid, but at least it didn’t come from our treasury.”

With the news that the al-Malik had withdrawn, several noble ventures were gearing up and preparing to launch expeditions to explore the former Masseri homeworld. A sizable component of these treasure hunters are knights and scions of House Decados and its affiliates of the Houses Dextrite, Masseri and Keddah. No one seemed inclined to speak openly about what was occurring, but one young knight who wished to remain anonymous told us, “We will make for the jumpgate in a few days time. Once there [at Daishan], we will establish a search grid over the coordinates of the old capital of Dunearn; the bunker is somewhere close to the old palace. But the place is swarming with Symbiots, so we’ll have to fight our way in and blast our way out.”

A request for further information from House Decados met with a stiff denial that they were funding any expedition to Daishan. When presented with this new information, the Stigmata Garrison command issued a statement that, “Any ship coming from Daishan will be met with deadly force. The risk of Symbiot infection is too high to let even nobles back into the Known Worlds after they have breached quarantined space.”

Patriarch Makes First Public Appearance in Months
HOLY TERRA – Rio Brasilia – The Patriarch appeared in public for the first time in six months. His Holiness was able to stand with the assistance of an acolyte to steady this arm. Though this appearance was intended to dismiss rumors of the patriarch’s failing heath, his obvious frailty indicated that he had been unwell for some time.

A Church spokesperson later confirmed that his Holiness had indeed been bed-ridden for some months, but was now making an excellent progress towards recovery.

The benediction was delivered in a strong steady voice and with only a momentary lapse in concentration that left the Orthodox leader struggling to find his place in the pre-prepared speech. Once the reading had been completed he was escorted away from the address balcony to rest.

Church commentators have long speculated about the Patriarch’s health and it seems that while he has been ill for some time, his body is on the road to recovery and his spirit endures. Many of the spectators in the Address Square seemed reassured by the Patriarch’s appearance and offered up prayers for his continuing recovery.

Our now regular column on conspiracy and paranoia in the Phoenix Empire continues with another installment of the popular ‘Three Men on a Hill’.

Three Men on a Hill
Welcome to yet another installment of ‘Three Men on a Hill.’ Much to our surprise, no one has yet attempted to shut down our operations. It can only be a conspiracy to undermine our credibility! But fear not good reader. Once you have cast your eyes across this months offerings, you will understand why our offices will be raided in the very near future.

Remember there is no such thing as coincidence. Coincidence is the weak mind seeing the link between seemingly unrelated events but not perceiving the true power play behind the scenes. Last month a Scraver survey team in the Istakhr system unearthed an ancient weapons cache containing doomsday weapons. Naturally this event did not make the headlines for secrecy was important to ensure that the Church Inquisition did not descend upon the dig site until after the excavations had been completed.

This month we read that the moon Dora, in that very same system, has been destroyed by a collision with a massive comet. With the destruction of the moon it is not possible to do much more than speculate given the lack of physical evidence. It is evident that the Scravers certainly unearthed something destructive, no doubt a planet killer weapon that they inadvertently triggered to destructive effect.

Information provided through some very reputable contacts suggests that the Scravers actually unearthed one of a number of doomsday weapons caches hidden by Ukari warriors during the last days of the Ukari War. There are a great many rumors circulating about the exact nature of the weapon they discovered on Dora, but Three Men on a Hill predicts you will not have heard the last of these ancient caches and more will surface in the months ahead.

The withdrawal of the al-Malik fleet from Stigmata is, we believe, a calculated move on the part of House al-Malik. The pieces of information we have pieced together firmly indicate that the fleet was not set to guard the Stigmata Jumpgate to protect the Known Worlds from a Symbiot invasion, but to prevent any of the treasure hunters from uncovering that the al-Malik have been holding secret negotiations with the Symbiots.

Our greatest minds here at ‘Three Men on a Hill’ have theorized that the Masseri treasure story is a facade perpetrated by Symbiot sympathizers in an attempt to lure more innocent humans in to the clutches of those demonic shape shifters. Once fed upon, these mercenaries will be returned to human space as Symbiots to infiltrate and destroy the Garrison that holds back the tide of monsters on Stigmata.

Be vigilant, the truth is out there, and so are the Symbiots!

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.

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