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Story - The Fall of Kastor

The Fall of Kastor

‘Never like this,’ he said quietly to the empty barracks. The room was bare, utilitarian, grey steel bed-frames, now devoid of even their basic rolls and accompanying shelves are empty of clothes and permitted personal affects. He had prepared himself for death by depressurisation and had viewed hundreds of clips. The final breath, the frosting and cracking of bare skin in the final moments before death and then utter stillness. Years in service had even made him numb to the probability that his end may be slower. Puncture wounds to the intestinal region and hours of poisoning and agony while the battle raged all around and medics dealt first with those that had a chance. The one fate he never anticipated was being sacked. This was a death of purpose, a death of ambition and a death of vengeance. This was a death colder than the wastes of space.

His eyes turned to the window, looking through the yellowing blast-glass to the crumbling parade yard beyond and he thought back nearly two decades ago. Following induction and initial training he and just over half the conscripts had qualified for further training. Some of those that failed, only achieving militia status had tried hiding their disappointment and failure by claiming that all he had qualified for was premature death. He remembered that early doubt and how the pride in his father’s eyes had banished it.



His father, one of the last from the cryo-vats, vats that had taken his arm and lower leg and blackened the side of his face. His mother, riddled with cancers kept at bay through cryo-stasis was rendered clinically dead before he was born. On bad days his father was prone to violence and reliving the end days nearly half a millennium ago. On those days, the war still raged, on those days his father screamed as the bombardments levelled the city, forcing him to crawl through endless darkness, subsisting on the flesh of dead friends and radioactive water dribbling through the rubble. On bad days his servo-limbs were remotely deactivated and he was heavily sedated. The bad days were not discussed.

On good days his father would describe Kastor as it was. Bright cities, almost no smog, transport systems not only running, but on time. Food like you would not believe. They had huge halls where they reared creatures and plants purely for the purpose of being eaten. Back then, yeast was for creating fermented alcohol. That was before industrial processing of yeast as food. The way he described it, it was an age of wonder.

He looked down at his primary blaster hanging at his waist and moved his hand to rest on it, both protectively and for reassurance. It was his father’s. All that went into stasis with him and now, his father gone these past few years, it was all that remained. In some ways he is glad that his father died. To have come through the war, to have awoken in the ruins of Kastor and to have laboured searching for those still locked in endless sleep, dying as their vats failed and never waking up. To have done all that, driven with a single purpose and come so far only to fail utterly and for reasons that nobody ever suspected.

He spat the word commerce, sneering at the stain that only weeks ago would have found him stripped, flogged and forced to clean the barracks for a month. Even to himself he could admit that he had no idea how it happened. The news told of destabilisation in stability and how long-term demands unfulfilled by external investment following the collapse of the intermediary Alexander Enterprises led to spiralling costs. At some point the government couldn’t afford either its army or navy. Mercenary factions quit, businesses went bust and there was neither food nor power for civilians. Then the looting started.

He had followed orders that day and weeks after though the fighting only got worse. Hardest hit were the food processing plants. That was when starvation became widespread and even the military started to suffer. He had fired into the shadowed alleys along with the rest of his squad and advanced around the burning debris and stepping over bodies. These weren’t rebels, most were not even armed. They were people, starving and desperate. These were his people, the offspring of those that survived the attempted genocide of the Yanks.




It was only hours after this last confrontation that the government gave the order, echoed from the few still functional public address systems, that all but a token force within the vicinity of the capital and in each military base was to stand down, turn over their arms and return to civilian status. There was short period of bewildered silence then the tide turned as word spread that the military had effectively surrendered. Those squads that had welcomed the ceasefire and removed armour suddenly found themselves besieged by angry mobs. This was no longer fighting for food; this was callous and brutal with neither quarter nor mercy given.

With the rest of his squad he had fought his way out of the urban zone and back to barracks. The demobbing was quick, with many going their separate ways to join family in different districts and blend in with civilians while others formed themselves into bands. Both tactics designed to avoid likely reprisals against the military from angry civilians. He had remained at the base despite not being counted amongst the remaining active force. His marginally elevated rank put him at odds with the rest of the squad and without family there was nowhere for him to go.

For the first time in his life he wondered if they could be wrong. While rumour of the hand of friendship from the Yanks had been doing the circuit for years he had always dismissed it as propaganda. But then, if purely propaganda, why had they not returned to finish the job their ancestors started centuries ago? Without chain of command telling him what to believe he was lost. They were all lost.





 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 
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The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 

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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic