Traveller News Service - 1121

HEXOS/SPINWARD MARCHES (2828 B53406R-8) DATE: 019-1121

Bulletin: Red Zone Declared!

Imperial authorities under Archduke Norris today reported the death of the last native human inhabitant of Hexos, devastated by plague.

Claims that Aslan ihatei used biological warfare to depopulate the world have not been disproven, "Whatever it is that's killing these people, Aslan appear to be immune," said Dr. Julia Kartinian, a scientist investigating the disease.

TAS advises all travellers that Hexos is henceforth classified for travel as a Red Zone, with all contact interdicted. [Challenge 47]

CAPITAL/CORE (2119 A586A98-F) DATE: 026-1121

Naval spokesmen for Emperor Lucan have announced continued success in their rimward campaigns but refuse to release details in an effort to reduce the ability of the Solomani to plan strategically.

"The devestation we are dealing these rebels is so extensive that the Solomani Navy has recently been unable to report back the whereabouts of parts of its fleet. Rebel leaders don't know where their ships are, so we see no need to help them out. What we can say is that many of those ships won't ever report back."

An anonymous source close to Emperor Lucan said that the recent "superweapons Speech" does relate to these naval successes. "The emperor would not have put his technical staff on the spot unless he knew that real breakthroughs were being made. What our scientists have accomplished is, in a word, startling. The emperor expects a complete cessation of hostilities as soon as his ultimatum to the leaders of the various rebellion factors." [Challenge 47]

ANAXIAS/DELPHI (1724 A253A85-D) DATE: 027-1121

Spokesmen for Duchess Margaret still refuse to confirm or deny recent allegations that one or both of her children are the direct descendents of the late Emperor Strephon.

Duchess Margaret's personal physician claimed shortly after the birth that the twins were the result of artificial insemination and that the duchess would make a claim for her daughter's ascension to the throne.

Dr. Setree went into hiding shortly thereafter, but not before changing his story. "Julia Iphegenia Cassir Tukera is the daughter of Duchess Margaret and Count Blaine, but Paulo Trulia Strephon Tukera is the son of Duchess Margaret and Emperor Strephon, the fruit of a fertilized egg that I implanted myself in a short and simple operation. The DNA data that I have on file can verify this fact whenever the duchess allows me to releasethe information." [Challenge 47]

MUAN GWI/SOLOMANI RIM (1717 A456A86-F) DATE: 056-1121

Sociologists on this world are becoming more and more concerned over the shortage of mwob, a spice used in cooking by many Vegans.

The spice, sweet and nutty with camphor-like overtones, is gathered annually by large hunting parties who sweep across Muan Gwi's southernmost desert hunting a small animal called the rurge. Last year's hunt was the most successful in years, with double the number of animals caught.

Zoologists believe that this year's shortage is a natural occurence, related to last year's plentitude, but do not attribute it to overhunting.

Mwob does not preserve well, losing most of its flavor within a year.

The shortage of the spice could have long-term effects on Vegan culture, as some tuhuir, or cultural groups, are less dependent on spice in their cuisines. "With mwob largely unavailable, many Vegans in their years of choice are avoiding certain tuhuirs. Those cultural groups that use mwob are shrinking, while those that do not are seeing significant growth. Since about half of all Vegans stay with the tuhuir of their parents, this means that this change in numbers could last for many generations," said one observer. [Challenge 47]

TERRA/SOLOMANI RIM/SOL (1827 A867A69-F) DATE: 058-1121

The conclave of the Solomani Party began this week amid controversy as the liberal wing of the party called into question the definition of Solomani.

Hard-liners objected strenuously to even considering a revised definition, and the rules committee remained deadlocked after days of testimony and speechmaking.

The original definition of Solomani covered only humans born on Terra. This definition was later changed to cover members of the Solomani race.

A simple saliva test is available which can confirm Solomani status.

Liberal party members are divided into three factions: the Humanists, who believe that all human races (because they all ultimately originated on Terra) are eligible for membership in the Solomani Party; the HDV branch (from the initials of human, dolphin, Vargr), which wants to extend the definition of Solomani to include all intelligent races originating on Terra; and the Sophontists, who believe that the Solomani should embrace all intelligences within their ranks.

Until recently, the inability of the liberals to agree on a course of action kept them being a force in Solomani internal politics.

At a pre-Conclave meeting at Vega, the Humanists, HVD, and Sophontists agreed amidst heated debate ultimately to back the Humanist perspective in order to present a strong and unified front (with the HVD and the Sophontists obviously expecting further movement toward their own positions as time passes). [Challenge 48]

CAPITAL/CORE (2118 A586A98-F) DATE: 061-1121

Sarir Gormakii, Lucan's minister of protocol, returned today from an extended vacation on Sylea. His vacation was not previously announced and speculation about his post as minister of protocol and who would fill it have been rife in recent weeks. [Challenge 48]

LEROY/HINTERWORLDS (1231 C574969-9) DATE: 064-1121

All fusion power systems connected to the commercial power grid on Leroy involuntarily shut down over a period of 17 hours yesterday. The time period is associated with the local day.

The massive power outages resulting from the main power failures were alleviated for a short time by stand-by systems and local backups, but these systems were, of course, not intended to maintain the full primary usage of the planet. Power plants which were connected to the primary commercial grid all experienced failure within three hours of each other. Power systems which remained isolated from the main system were not affected.

Although for most the power failures were only an inconvenience, extensive casualties were reported when the active seawall protecting low-lying Gintle province collapsed and the resulting North Sea flood inundated several thousand square kilometers of residential settlements. Days later, search and rescue teams were still transporting small groups of survivors from their positions on scattered pieces of high ground.

Heavy casualties were also reported in the polar under-ice city of Nesabbar. The power failures caused environmental failures and several structural collapses.

Efforts to restart the commercial power grid were plagued by continued failures and a lack of suitable spare parts.

Initial investigations placed responsibility for the failures on the installation of faulty component software which confused a string of local data for a system-wide priority emergency shutdown instruction.

Full power was restored six days later following a complete replacement of the operating software for the overall system.

Charges that the software was deliberately sabotaged were dismissed by Ministry of Energy officials. [Challenge 48]

RINGTON/MASSALIA (2440 B443222-B) DATE: 073-1121

SPECIAL BULLETIN

Unconfirmed reports from anonymous sources within the 170th Fleet indicate that the 22nd Imperial Fleet has been missing for over 60 days.

The 22nd is a crack unit that had been deployed to the Diaspora Sector Depot in 1119, where it absorbed the Security Fleet already on site. The enlarged 22nd reportedly ceased responding to, or issuing, routine messages just after the beginning of the year.

Rumors suggest that a special task force is in Depot system conducting a thorough investigation. Courier sweeps to locate the fleet are under way in nearby subsectors. [Challenge 49]

USON/MASSAILIA (0717 A6847CD-C) DATE: 090-1121

In an agreement announced here today, Hortalez et Cie has agreed to a major exchange of assets with the Vilani megacorporations Sharurshid and Naasirka.

Most of Hortalez's new acquisitions are located in the Daibei, Diaspora, and Massilia sectors. These assets include factories, shipyards, industrial real estate, power plants, and space facilities.

In exchange, Hortalez relinquished various holdings in Vland sector. It also liquidated an undisclosed portion of its sjhareholding position in the two Vilani megacorporations.

"This marks a new era in cooperation between megacorporations," said Hortalez's senior portfolio director, Nils Peterson.

"We and our Vilani peers will now enjoy more control in our respective spheres of primary influence. This concentration of commercial interests into smaller astrographic regions ensures continued economic security and health for the Imperium."

Senoir Director Petersen denied suggestions that the exchanges had been motivated by fears that assets further from megacorporate security bases are more susceptible to nationalization proceedings. He cited corporate communications and control difficulties as the major factor behind the move to divest such holdings. [Challenge 49]

CAPITAL/CORE (2118 A586A98-F) DATE: 112-1121

In a wholly unanticipated public statement, Emperor Lucan announced that as of 080-1121, High Sylean be the only language spoken during Imperial audiences.

This decree not only applies to the emperor's loyal subjects, but to all foriegn dignitaries as well.

The emperor explained that this decree is intended "to honor my Sylean subjects, who have remained loyal throughout this crisis. The other great languages of the Imperium are no longer spoken only by my subjects. They are spoken by traitors as well.

"I will not hear such languages in my chambers."

Lucan's minister of protocol, Sarir Gormakii, was dismissed the day before the decree was issued. Official spokesmen for the throne denied any connection between the events. [Challenge 49]

ELEUSIS/SOLOMANI RIM (2109 A789831-E) DATE: 118-1121

Breaking a long silence regarding the activities of the Imperial Regency of Intelligence and Security, naval spokespeople revealed that they had been surprised to discover that the primary IRIS enclave here on Eleusis has apparently been abandoned.

In a terse statement, Admiral Ensuk'kil said, "The Regency is a sham, and everyone knows it. They ran away from Capital when they were needed most, and now they've run away again. God knows where they've gone, but they'd better stay hidden. The emperor's patience has run out."

The admiral's comment regarding Emperor Lucan's patience refers to the fact that the Regency is responsible for confirming legal successors to the Iridium Throne and that it has already spent more than four years considering Lucan's claim.

Sources within the navy (which must remain anonymous) suggest that there is a connection between Lucan's loss of patience and the two BatRons that accompanied Admiral Ensuk'kli in his search for the IRIS enclave. The admiral declined to comment on this topic.

Most local officials were surprised to learn of IRIS's sudden disappearance.

They had expected the regency to continue its persistent (if futile) attempts to establish a Rim Concordiat dedicated to negotiating a truce with the Solomani.

A 60-day cease-fire in 1117 had previously been the extent of the regency's diplomatic achievements in the sector to date. [Challenge 49]

CAPITAL/CORE (2118 A586A98-F) DATE: 142-1121

In a dramatic throne room scene, Emperor Lucan expelled senior Vilani emissary Seled Urkirjii today.

This event was precipitated when Ambassador Pleni-potentiary Urkirjii greeted Lucan in Vilani, rather than High Sylean.

This flagrant disregard of Lucan's decree of 090-1121, which mandates the exclusive use of High Sylean in Imperial chambers, shocked onlookers and elicited rage from the emperor himself.

It is reported that Lucan's chancellor, Dore A'Kenji, barely managed to prevent the emperor from resorting to personal violence.

Ambassador Urkirjii and the entirety of his embassy were expelled from Capital the same day. This comes as a sharp blow to many of the remaining Moot members, who had hoped that the recently arrived Vilani delegation might signal the beginning of some level of cooperation between Lucan's Imperium and at least one of the other factions currently striving for the Iridium Throne. [Challenge 50]

STRAT/OLD EXPANSES (0318 A9BA8A8-F) DATE: 149-1121

A single unconfirmed report claims that two ships of the missing 22nd Imperial Fleet were detected in-system earlier today.

Alder Henriot, second pilot aboard the Free Liner Sojourner, insists that he became aware of the two vessels while conducting routine maintenance testing of his ship's densitometers.

The two ships were tentatively identified as an ED-15 destroyer escort and an EM-13 missile escort. A fragmentary reception of the latter's transponder signal suggests that the identification is accurate, since the vessel's call codes matches that assigned to the INS Zuni, an EM-13 that is listed as being in service with the 22nd Imperial Fleet.

Upon becoming aware of their detection, both vessels maneuvered away at high speed. Subsequent scans suggested that they jumped out-system soon after.

Local naval authorities could not be reached for comment. [Challenge 50]

ZHANORA/VLAND (3035 D651754-8) DATE: 155-1121

Suspicion of a "cyborg plot" continues to run high in this system and has resulted in 23 seperate executions (referred to by many as "machine terminations") this past week.

The reputed cyborg plot, while still not proven to exist, is said to be a conspiracy run by Strephonist supporters who are entering the Kakadan Subsector from Dagudashaag.

According to Lucan's local spokespeople, the false Strephon has begun to create an army of cyborg terrorists, built for the express purpose of wraking ruin and havoc within Lucan's Imperium. It is claimed that this army's ultimate goal is the assassination of Lucan himself.

Whether or not such allegations are true, a current wave of precautionary detentions and "machine terminations" has been mounted by urban law enforcement agencies. Many locals suggest that this crackdown is merely a pretext whereby the strong pro-Lucan police forces can easily eliminate "political dissidents."

In the most inflammatory event thus far, retired Imperial Army Major Adskir Shormakov was apprehended on the grounds that he was a "cyborg of treasonous origins." Such a charge is unprecedented, both in terms of its generality and lack of jurisprudential basis.

This did not prevent Lucan's local authorities from charging and trying Shormakov, resulting in a verdict of treason. The death sentence was carried out immediately after the closed trial.

Major Shormakov's cybernetic replacement elements were limited to a pseudogastric processing system and his lower left leg. [Challenge 50]

CULDEE/KUKULCAN (3235-A68A998-9) DATE: 168-1121

A prerecorded pro-Reformist holocast was presented on Culdee's airwaves today, galvanizing the local population into sharply polarized camps that are divided over the issue of pan-sophontic policy reform.

The holocast featured an address by the Secretariat's former minister of economies, Joshua Dahvin.

Dahvin presented a forceful case against the Secretariat's increased drift toward the centrist policies of absolute racial purity and mandatory membership in the Society for the Sovereignty of Man over Machine (SSMM). In addition, Dahvin's words created a whirlwind of public and media debate over the Secretatiat's current "one state, one race" policy.

Dahvin, who recently resigned from the Secretariat along with a dozen close supporters, is now rumored to be living in Spica Sector, where he is said to be devoting his full efforts to the growth of the Reform movement and its desire to encourage recognition of "the inalienable and equal rights of all sophonts in all places at all times."

Andreanna Sarqaba, a spokesperson for the local Solsec office, dismissed Dahvin's remarks as "desperate ravings" that were only to be taken seriously because they represented "a clear dalliance with seditious intent." Ms. Sarqaba declined to comment on whether the Secretariat was likely to take any action against Mr. Dahvin. [Challenge 50]

PRESERVE/ZARUSHAGAR (2329 E449895-A) DATE: 179-1121

ALERT! RED ZONE DECLARED!

Independent testing teams have confirmed the use of biological weapons in the current struggle for the Amavor continent of Preserve.

Local insurgents supporting the Isolationist cause are reported to have insinuated a rapidly mutating strain of parainfluenza into local water supplies and foodstores.

The pseudovirus, dubbed by locals as Reaper's Flu, is a rapidly invasive organism that is capable of killing victims within 12 hours of onset. However, the virus may remain completely dormant for as long as two weeks, during which time carriers can spread the disease.

Appeals to the local Imperial authorities for enforcement of the Imperial Rules of War against the use of biological weaponry are complicated by current power struggles between Brzk and Lucan supporters within the bureaucracy. Unfortunately, most of the former Imperial forces on-planet are engaged on both sides of this struggle for local dominance.

Ironically, the ineffectiveness of the remaining Imperial administration has bolstered support for the Isolationist cause. [Challenge 50]

ANAXIAS/DELPHI DATE: 187-1121

In her first official public appearance since the birth of her children, Margaret announced that after two years of negotiation, a major trade agreement had been reached with the Hivers.

This agreement is said to have a net value of 100 trillion credits annually and is rumored to involve the acquisition of advanced communication technologies and medical automation.

Tukera Lines has been contracted to ferry Hiver buyers from their homeworlds in Spica sector through the Hinterworlds and finally on to Massalia as they gather shipments bound for Hiver markets.

This represents a major diplomatic coup for Margaret -- it affords her new economic power in the region and effectively sidesteps the Imperial-Hiver trade route via Beyerly's Path, which was lost due to Solomani gains in the Old Expanses.

Trading in the Anaxian Securities Exchange was suspended three hours early, closing with a gain of 572 points. Economic experts observed that the steep climb in trading was likely to continue unabted the next day.

Tukera stock closed at an all-time high of 194.32 credits per share. [Challenge 51]

MEDURMA/DAGUDASHAAG DATE: 199-1121

After a week of scattered reports, it seems that the forces of Emperor Lucan have dealt a major defeat to the remaining naval assets of Strephon's Imperium.

Captain Pradnir Kulshugirii of the 50,000-tonne armored cruiser Skagerrak (which recently arrived for repair and refitting), was given permission by the Imperial Censor Bureau to recount several incidents of the fighting that he and his ship had been in.

"Squadrons were going away in bunches," Kulshugirii said, "and most of those bunches belonged to the enemy. Strephon's traitorous thugs are losing heart. Even their officers are starting to admit that they know the real Strephon is dead. They weren't willing to stand their ground and die fighting -- that's the sign of a lost cause."

Captain Kulshugirii refused to comment on rumors that suggested Lucan's forces enjoyed a numerical superiority of more than 3:1 in the engagements, which were mostly fought along the spinward edge of the Dagudashaag sector. [Challenge 51]

ANAXIAS/DELPHI DATE: 206-1121

Treason within Tukera Lines has dampened the high spirits and even higher securities trading that has spread throughout Margaret's domain since the so-called Hiver Deal concluded last month.

The empress' nephew, Tancred von Harrer, explained that an assassination plot against Margaret had come to the attention of Blaine Tukera, owner of the megacorporation and Margaret's husband.

Although no further specifics were offered, expert observers speculate that the conspirators were members of the Vermene, the Tukera intelligence agency.

The Vermene has fallen into increasing disfavor here at the court on Anaxia, and the empress has expressed an interest in disbanding the agency in favor of a new intelligence service. [Challenge 51]

MUAN GWI/SOLOMANI RIM DATE: 225-1121

Solomani sabotage may be involved in the shortage of the important Vegan spice mwob, according to a statement from the Imperial Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with Vegan nationals.

Chemical analyses of the natural mwob sources began when it was determined that the lack of the spice would reduce the number of Vegans entering the technically oriented tuhuir.

By influencing the selection of tuhuir -- the Vegan equivalent of an extended family -- Solomani operatives may be trying to breed a more easily conquered, more pliant Vegan society. [Challenge 51]

DLAN/ILLELISH DATE: 236-1121

After being locked in debate for more than a year and a half, leaders of the Virasan faith of Dlan has decreed that dying a nonviolent death on Dlan itself is no longer a requirement that must be met if a believer is to attain full revelation in the afterlife. They designated as martyrs all Virasans who have died off-planet while conducting essential business.

Many members of the Synod have denounced the 457th Khanu and claimed that they no longer speak for the true Virasan faith.

Despite being a native Dlani, Emperor Dulinor is not a member of the Virasan faith. However rumors mount regarding his interest in its tenets. [Challenge 51]

VAWARD/OLD EXPANSES DATE: 244-1121

An undisclosed task force has intercepted the approaching Solomani thrust from the Twenty-One Worlds subsector and defeated it. Reports confirmed that the Solomani task force -- said to include one batron and two crurons -- was ambushed by a numerically superior force of Imperial craft.

Solomani losses were said top be heavy, whereas friendly forces were said to have suffered only minor damage.

Undisclosed sources within Margaret's military organization suggested that the task force was not a reserve or secret unit retained for this purpose. The same source also admitted to some nervousness, observing that this friendly mystery fleet might not be so "friendly" next time. [Challenge 51]

WARINIR/DAIBEI DATE: 263-1121

Daibei Federation spokeswoman Adlea Marignault announced today that piracy was once again on the upswing in the Reaver's Deep sector and that travellers were advised to postpone travel into that region.

This announcement comes as a severe blow to the government of Duke Craig, who hoped his diplomatic overtures to the elusive raiders would result in an alliance against the Solomani Confederation.

Unfortunately, rumors suggest that the Solomani have had the greater luck in this regard and have vested almost a score of the major raiding groups with letters of marque.

Marignault refused to speculate on the validity of these rumors, although she did mention that new diplomatic initiatives "were under way with new potential allies and are proceeding in a promising fashion."

SHARIM/GUSHEMEGE DATE: 281-1121

An explosion of undetermined origin destroyed the jump-6, Fast Fleet-class courier Metternich today, just two minutes after it cleared Sharim Downport's airspace. All hands were lost.

Observers and sensor operators at Sharim Downport report that the explosion in the forward area near the bridge. The Fast Fleet-class courier is not equipped to carry explosive or inflammable substances in this area. Local experts are therefore expressing some concern that the explosion may have been the result of sabotage.

The Metternich was under special registry to the Imperial Regency of Intelligence and Security and was heading rimward after completing a mission within the borders of Strephon's Imperium. The nature of the mission has not been disclosed. However, local officials speaking under guarantees of anonymity revealed that Senior Regent Irena Thorfel had arrived on planet with the ship and may have been on board at the time of the explosion.

Despite bitter feelings toward the regency, local spokespersons for Lucan's Imperium denied any involvement, as did representatives for Dulinor and Strephon. There has been no comment from the sizeable minority that supports the Ziru Sirkaa. [Challenge 52]

ZEDA/DAGUDASHAG DATE: 295-1121

Forcers from Lucan's Imperium have gained absolute control of this high-population world after three days of fierce planetside and orbital fighting.

The naval and ground forces of Strephon's Imperium were overwhelmed by the size of this assault, which seems to be the leading edge of a major offensive.

Expert observers estimate that Strephon's forces suffered heavy losses during the fighting, includfing two BatRons, at least four CruRons, and an unspecified number of carriers and escorts. Lucan's losses are unknown but are believed to be considerably lighter.

The only announcement made thus far by the Lucan's occupying forces assured the general population that their "liberation from the pretender Stephon's yoke" is permasnent and that a "great number" of assets are committed to ending the existence of his "illegitimate Imperium" in the adjoining Gushemege sector.

Spokesmen for Strephon's faction planned an underground press conference in response, but never arrived at the designated site. No explanations were recieved. [Challenge 52]

ANAXIAS/DELPHI DATE: 301-1121

Associate Operating Officer Haling Pracapas, spokesperson for Tukera Lines, announced today that the megacorporation had recently completed negotiations with the Nermis and Dreead'n systems (2421 & 2322 Silver Laurel/Hinterworlds) regarding the construction, maintenance and protection of a deep-space refueling site at sector parsec coordinate 2321.

This development is an important step toward realizing the benefits of the trade agreement finalized between Margaret's domain and the Hiver Federation on 187-1121.

With the addition of this deep-space refueling site, jump-2 convoys can move across the Hinterworlds sector between Spica and Delphi without passing through the regions occupied by the Nullian League.

When asked if this ambitious construction project had been motivated by a desire to sidestep league systems, Pracapas responded, "Analyses showed that it was more economical to build a deep-space refueling site. The league charges very high trade tariffs and fees. There is no hidden political agenda in our decision; this is strictly business."

Astute observers of regional politics point out that Dreead'n's contributions to the deep-space site can hardly be construction-related. A central operating area for a number of associated starmerc firms, Dreead'n's inclusion in the deal assures Tukera a strong military presence proximal to this potentially vulnerable transport link. [Challenge 52]

SHAKHAMASH/GUSHEMEGE DATE: 319-1121

After two weeks of constant and bitter fighting, Lucan's naval elements have driven off the Strephonist defenders of the system.

Losses on both sides were heavy, although experts agree with the assessment of Lucan's Admiral Rapida Amani that the Battle of Shakhamash represents a "crippling blow" to Strephon's Imperium.

From the beginning, Lucan's 17 numbered, colonial and reserve fleets enjoyed an immense numerical advantage. Local Strephonist commanders had assumed that Lucan's forces in the Dagudashag Salient represented his entire invasion force. Consequently, the massive attack upon Shakhamash came as a complete surprise.

Lucan's commitment of an additional 17 fleets makes this the largest campaign to be launched in two years. It also indicates that most military analysts throughout the Imperium grossly underestimated the number of fleet assets that Capitol was willing to risk in a campaign against Strephon's Imperium.

Official spokespersons within Lucan's naval command have revealed that the offensive will carry forward into the very heart of Strephon's Imperium and will not stop until the "pretender" has been killed or captured. [Challenge 52]

ATUDEW/CORRIDOR (2810 C595000-8) DATE: 326-1121

The independent seeker KeLlananae Tourz Agud was disabled by planetary defenses during its final approach to Atudew yesterday after traffic control reported it as an "unidentified vessel of Vargr origin."

Automated defenses rated the seeker hostile and fired upon it before the system defense boat Gaa Khiu was able to respond and make a positive identification.

The KeLlananae Tourz Agud was identified as the former Jewell of Corridor, an indepndent prospecting vessel operated by Gordon Irakakigka, a human of mixed-Vilani descent. There were no casualties reported in the incident, but port authority officials described Irakakigka's reaction to the incident as "impassioned." The KeLlananae Tourz Agud underwent minor repairs and continued on its way. [Challenge 52]

AMDANI/DAIBEI DATE: 332-1121

In an ill-timed blow to the fortunes of Strephon's war-wracked Imperium, the Imperial Regency of Intelligence and Security announced today that Strephon's claim to the Iridium Throne has been officially disallowed and, therefore, formally declared void.

Regents from IRIS were compelled to eliminate the individual who claims himself to be the "real" Strephon when they were denied permission to conduct a number of routine tests. These test are required of all would-be successors in order to determine the validity of their claims. The tests are designed to discover if the test subject is either a robot or a cloned entity.

This news was delivered by Senoir Regent Irena Thorfel, who had been presumed lost in the tragic (and still unexplained) Metternich explosion which occurred just outside Sharim (Gushemege sector) Downport airspace several months ago.

Thorfel refused to explain how she survived this disaster which, according to official reports, claimed the lives of all hands and passengers aboard the Metternich.

However, she did make a number of pointed remarks suggesting Ziru Sirkaan involvement in the incident. "I am sure that various individuals on Vland are now happy that the Metternich incident didn't prevent me from delivering my findings. With the supposed-Strephon's claim now formally disallowed, a number of powerful Vilani commercial entities will find their own interests easier to pursue. It's a pity -- and quite ironic -- they felt it necessary to ensure this favorable result by attempts at sabotage." [Challenge 52]

NULLIA/HINTERWORLDS DATE: 346-1121

Drastur Kelbis, head consul of the Nullian League's Senior Committee, made a public address today, warning that various commercial interests in the Hinterworlds sector were unhappy with Margaret's new Hiver trade agreement.

Citing the recently announced "Deep-Space Site 2321" initiative (also being referred to as the Nermis Deal), Kelbis accused Margaret's domain of purposefully and maliciously undercutting the commercial livelihood of the league and other mercantile entities" within the Hinters.

He also pointed out that Tukera Lines has been busy negotiating preferred port rights along the Jump-1 route leading from Perseus to Pusan (2222 to 2129), Silver Laurel/Hinters) over the past 90 days.

TNS reporters have been unable to find any statements of disapproval regarding these trade agreements, other than those issued by the league itself.

When asked to specify which other "commercial interests" in the Hinters had voiced disapproval of these new mercantile developments, Kelbis dismissed the question as being "both snide and specious."

Kelbis also warned that the Hivers, Margaret and "her lackeys" (referring to husband Blaine Tukera, private owner of Tukera), would be wise to realize that such overt economic maneuverings coiuld easily be seen as the opening of a trade war. Kelbis urged an increased use of economic negotiations and restraint, before "the situation progresses to open conflict." [Challenge 52]

PHALN/GUSHEMEGE DATE: 352-1121

After almost a month of intense fighting, local units of Strephon's Imperium surrendered to Lucan's forces here on Phaln.

There was little joy among Lucan's command staff, who have lost over 350,000 men in the fighting.

Although the Strephonists fared little better, their stiff resistance has blunted the two-pronged Gushemege campaign, which Lucan's general staff has dubbed the "Extermination Offensive" (referring to its intended ovbjective of eliminating Strephon's Imperium).

Naval spokespersons refused to comment on rumors that the offensive has so battered the nearby systems that it has become impossible to repair even minor battle damage due to the destruction of suitable starport facilities.

There are also unconfirmed rumors of disproportionate losses in TankRon assets.

These various factors suggest that the recent decline in the pace of the Extermination Offensive may in fact portend a complete standstill.

If this were to be the case, it is unknown how long Lucan's forces could remain on site, given their already overextended logistical situation. [Challenge 52]

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