Unidentified units of Lucan's Imperium struck deep into the Federation of Ilelish and caused significant damage to various facilities and population centers on Shaddimir in the worst of the Black War raids reported thus far. Although various targets were hit, the attacks concentrated most strongly on this planet's Droyne population, inflicting almost 90% causalities among that race's local civilian sector.
Lucan's forces dropped leaflets and issued broadcasts during the attack, claiming that the Droyne of Shaddimir possessed technical knowledge dating back to the period of the Ancients and that they had agreed to use this knowledge to construct secret weapons for Dulinor.
Immediately after the attack, Adderly Morgan, local cultural affairs minister, dismissed these charges as "unfounded nonsense."
"The Droyne of Shaddimir possess no advanced technological knowledge," Morgan said, "and their only involvement in Ancient artifacts is the small ancient site that they have been excavating for two centuries."
Morgan added that even if the Droyne did have advanced technical knowledge, "That would still not justify the systematic destruction of their community, an act which seems perilously close to premeditated genocide."
Local federation military leaders expressed surprise and concern that Lucan's units' had dared venture so far into Dulinor's sphere of control. They also expressed some worries about Droyne reaction -- both locally and throughout the Imperium -- to this racially specific attack.
Ilelish military personnel unanimously declined to comment on whether an offensive reprisal is being planned. [Challenge 57]
Renowned hunter Emile Nodokundu died during a big-game expedition to this planet's Aasharag Outback, in a violent incident involving several local residents.
Two-weeks-ago, 54-year-old Nodokundu contacted Outback Patrol by radio, complaining of a fever and intermittent thoracic pains. His speech was described as being slurred and uncertain.
Later attempts to reestablish communication with Nodokundu failed, prompting an investigation. Patrol members proceeded to his location, where they were attacked by Nodokundu and forced to kill him. Authorities then cordoned off the area and immediately placed Nodokundu's remains in quarantine.
After two days of intense speculation, Chief Coroner Palitha Nursopurja held a press conference today on the post mortem results. "At the time of his death," she said, "Nodokundu was in an advanced stage of metamorphosis. Full medical and physiological results will be released later. For now, I would say that, at the time of his death, Nodokundu had begun to mutate into a devolved form of homo sapiens with strong carnivore overtones. His aggressive behavior at Porbodur Range Station is consistent with that physiological analysis.
When asked to speculate on what had caused Nodokundu to undergo such dramatic and unprecedented changes, Nursopurja admitted, "At this point, we have not been able to do much more than isolate a foreign microbe in the lymphatic system, which seems to be the mutagenic pathogen. However, we have yet to determine the source, vulnerabilities and contagion levels of this pathogen.
Extrality zone officials declared a general suspension of off-world travel and contact. In a reflexive move, local officials for Lucan's Imperium have imposed full quarantine restrictions on the planet.
Several deserters of Lucan's military units on Manshuruk, speaking on condition of anonymity, have suggested that the mutagenic pathogen might be an artificial construct. They claim that a significant biowar development facility in the Outback came under Lucan's control just over two years ago and has been stepping up the pace of its research since then.
Prompted by the possibility that this facility may have violated the long-standing restrictions regarding the use or open testing of bioagents, the local Imperial Ministry of Justice office has formally opened an investigation into the Nodokundu affair. [Challenge 57]
"Business has never been so good" for Kees' class-A starport, despite the post-Rebellion economic retrenchment which is hurting most economies. Spokesperson Beatrix Kailela said Kees and other high-quality starports have experienced an upswing in trade activity as the facilities they offer have more rare.
She also cited a lively trade in customized biots, which she attributed to smaller and lower-tech worlds that are attempting to supplant maintenance-hungry mechanical systems. In particular, Kaileia noted the rapid increase in demand for the once-little-known jaramut moss, an endothermic floraform that functions as a biological air cooler.
Kaileia said Kees Starport was one of the first in the sector to redesignate its extrality zone as a visa-free zone (also referred to simply as the free zone). Although many veteran space travellers are uncomfortable with this new arrangement, the visa-free zone is rapidly becoming a necessity in those star systems which are not claimed by any faction.
In such systems, there is no longer any central Imperial authority to enforce or prosecute crimes committed within the extrality zone. Therefore, local governments -- such as Kees' -- have assumed the responsibility for patrolling and maintaining the visa-free zone. Planetary law does not apply in these regions, but the traditional Imperial legal codes (particularly those concerning violent felonies) are still observed and enforced. [Challenge 57]
The entire investigation team handling the unusual Nodokundu case has died, according to a report released today by the local branch of the Imperial Ministry of Justice.
Special Investigator Nowry Vladkov declined to reveal the precise cause of death, saying only that the investigators "died of unknown causes and under mysterious circumstances."
Vladkov, who recently arrived on-planet as a special overseer from the Core sector, indicated that the team handling the mutation and death of famed big-game hunter Emile Nodokundu had been investigating "a number of promising leads" and that the ministry had been anticipating a major breakthrough within the next few days.
Vladkov revealed that field interviews had encountered other mutated individuals during their sweep of the Aasharag Outback, the region where Nodokundu died. These interviews described the newly discovered mutated individuals as "extremely violent, incoherent and often in intense pain."
Planetary health authorities have declared the Aasharag Outback as a restricted travel area. Military units have been dispatched to patrol and seal its periphery.
Vladkov has also initiated a full-scale investigation into the deaths of the first investigatory team members.
The creation of new interface line, Hejira Transport, has stimulated debate and controversy on Giirsha, the firm's homeworld.
Dedicated to serving individuals who wish to leave many of the badly battered worlds in this war-torn sector, Hejira started laying down specially designed bulk passenger ships in 1119. Hejira boasts a fleet of three modular jump-carriers, each capable of transporting 50,000 low passengers at a time. All three carriers are already reported to be running at full capacity, filling backlogged low-passage reservations outbound from the high-population worlds of Muimarir, Ugdukida and Gowandon.
Conservative estimates indicate that Hejira will be able to relocate over one million individuals within its first year of operations. The current desire for relocation is thought to be at least 1000 times that figure, ensuring Hejira with a steady flow of business.
Unfortunately, as the relocated individuals attempt to find work on Giirsha or in systems just over the border in Delphi sector, their arrival often causes disruption of planetary economies.
Particularly on lower-population worlds, any suddn influx into the work force places an increased burden on already stressed job markets. Various worlds in Delphi have threatened to discontinue issuing immigration permits, and others have imposed immigration fees.
A cease-fire between the Verge combine and the Federation of Ilelish was announced early this morning in the Tripolsian Senate.
The announcement was received quietly by the senators, even those who have worked hardest to bring it about. "I'm too tired to celebrate," explained Senior Senator Abdul McKeon, "and too saddened by all the pointless bloodshed we have endured." McKeon's comments refer to the Verge Rebellion, which formally began on 172-1122 and has wreaked havoc upon the worlds in this subsector and those nearby.
The rebel forces, known as the Verge Combine, surprised federation military experts with their resourcefulness and tenacity, conducting a hit-and-run campaign that emphasized commerce rading and surgical strikes against command and communication nexi.
The political leader of the combine, Analea Mekatan of Turin, expressed a mixture of relief and wariness at the news of the cease-fire. She pointed out, "This is a fragile agreement in a turbulent area. Let's see if it can last to the end of the week before we get too ecstatic."
Federation officials denied comment regarding Dulinor's involvement in, and attitudes toward, the negotiation of the cease-fire. However, one senior defense analyst said that, with the Verge rebellion over, Dulinor could devote "more time, energy and assets to convincing Lucan that he should discontinue his Black War strikes." [Challenge 57]
Lucan bluntly forbade the Imperial Ministry of Justice from continuing its investigations into what is now known as the Nodokundu affair on Manshuruk (Dagudashag Sector).
Making his first public appearance in three weeks, Lucan went on to warn Traveller News Service that its coverage of these events was "meddlesome and prying." TNS should discontinue following this story, he said, lest the service find itself "suspected of treasonous tendencies."
The issuance of such a warning to the TNS is without Imperial precedent.
One former TNS editor suggested that Lucan's extreme reaction could indicate that the mutagenic pathogen responsible for the metamorphosis of Emile Nodokundu and others might be a retrovirus created -- and tested -- by Lucan's biowar experts.
The Imperial Ministry of Justice has made no public reply to Lucan's decree. However, rumors suggest that the ministry has initiated negotiations with Duke Craig regarding the establishment of a new headquarters and primary training facility in Daibei sector. [Challenge 57]
More than 1000 persona were killed during the emigration riots that wracked this impoverished high-population world today. The riots were largely in response to the announcement that Hejira Transport's low-berth fares had risen to 1200 credits each and that an additional 5000-credit planetfall insurance surcharge was being added.
This surcharge is reportedly necessary in order to cover the rising emigration fees charged by many of the destination worlds.
In particular, the cooperatively safe and well-protected worlds of the Delphi sector have begun to increase their emigration fees, in order to generate revenue and to restrict the number and demography of potential immigrants.
Citizens here on Ugdukida reacted to the news of these increased rates with outrage and violence, destroying several of Hejira's advance ticketing offices and a number of starport access gates.
As one robotics maintenance worker explained, "They're making it so the average guy can't get away and start somewhere new, where it's safer. It's getting to be that only the rich folks can afford to leave -- and they don't need to leave half as bad as us poor folks."
In response to the day's events, a Hejira spokesperson stated that if civil unrest continues as a result of its operations on Ugdukida, it will discontinue its low-passage runs and convert its current passenger modules into bulk haulers for grain shipment.
More than 40,000 people were killed in a fierce human-Droyne clash on this predominately Droyne world this week, amid scattered reports of human-Droyne tensions throughout this sector. The clash began in the city of Adysroyo, where local Droyne launched a reprisal against a radical pro-Lucan faction that had beaten several Droyne to death last week.
The ensuing violence escalated and spilled over into noninvolved human neighborhoods. More than 40,000 persons were killed before a joint human-Droyne task force was able to restore order.
This unprecedented incident of interspeciate violence has engendered a sudden atmosphere of suspicion in both the human and Droyne communities. Umorphutwyo's ruling aykruskloss (oligarchic board of oytrip senor leaders) has announced its intent to begin constructing a seperate starport, reserved exclusively for Droyne use. Human leaders are rumored to be retaliating by creating monopolistic trading alliances with the world's predominately human clientele.
Off-world negotiators, recruited as objective arbiters, cakk the situation "grim and worsening."
Representatives of Archduke Norris Aledon announced today that the archduke is seeking to meet with leaders of the Ine Givar movement in order to settle long-standing differences between the terrorist organization and the Imperial Government, now in the form of the Domain of Deneb.
The Ine Givar, which are known to have had ties to the Zhodani Consulate, were heavily involved in the buildup to the Fifth Frontier War in 1105-1107, particularly on Efate and Ruie in the Regina subsector. Since the end of the war, Ine Givar activities have been almost nonexistent, although it is clear that the organization still exists, according to official Domain sources.
There has been much public concern of late that the Ine Givar will take advantage of the increasing isolation of Deneb from the embattled Imperial Core and strike unexpected and telling blows, perhaps in conjunction with Vargr, Aslan or Zhodani strike units.
The offices of the archduke have announced that such concerns are "fantastic and alarmist," and that the suggested negotiations are intended to further stabilize the position of the domain until such time as full contact with the reunited Imperial interior can be resumed.
An explosion ripped through a public shopping mall this morning near the ducal compound, killing or critically wounding several score of volunteer workers setting up for a charity fund-raising event.
Messages appeared in several public databases two hours later, announcing Ine Givar responsibility for the bombing. The message read, in part:
"Duke [sic] Norris' wish to enter into negotiations is only a cynical and transparent attempt to identify and expose the Ine Givar leadership, in order to allow their assassination by the Imperial security apparatus. We will not allow this to happen.
"This show of force, involving no loss of life, was designed to show the duke [sic] how vulnerable he is to our power to strike at any time and place of our choosing.
It is very dangerous game he is playing.
"We will only enter into talks that sincerely seek to redress our just grievances against the corrupt and outmoded Imperial power structure."
It would appear from the text that the explosion was not intended to cause casualties, although it is not known whether the bomb's timer was faulty or if the Ine Givar terrorists were simply unaware that volunteers would be present at the site.
Archduke Norris is away at Mora. However, members of the ducal household characterized the bombing as "an outrage."
One person noted, "This claim that there would be 'no loss of life' proves how callous and bloodthirsty those animals are, and how hollow their claims for justice."
Rear-guard elements of Lucan's naval forces conducted a thorough orbital bombardment of all Larmige's starport, scout and naval base assets starting last night and continuing on through this morning, with appalling civilian casualties.
This news service regrets to report the absolute annihilation of all port, landing, shipyard and base facilities on Larmige effective this date.
This in a brutal and unanticipated act of betrayal is unprecedented, as the people of Larmige have faithfully supported Lucan's military operations since 1117. For six years, its shipyards have repaired and serviced Lucan's fleets.
Yet today, rather than being taken by enemy forces, rather than being left to defend itself, rather than being given protection commensurate with its sacrifices, it has been blotted from existence as a starfaring world by the very forces that it has served so ably and unselfishly.
The shock and grief of the population can best be summed up by a man who was observed earlier today stumbling through the ruins of the starport, searching through the bodies of those who had been working in the starport, unaware of what was about to befall them.
Dressed in ragged clothes and covered with blood and soot, he repeated over and over, "What did we do wrong? What did we do wrong? Can you tell me -- what did we do wrong?"
A plot to assassinate the Archduke Norris has been reported through established channels by envoys from the Zhodani Consulate to Domain of Deneb authorities.
While the plot was discovered within the Zhodani borders, it is not yet clear if the plot involves Zhodani nationals, Imperial nationals or third parties.
Zhodani information indicated that the operation may be already underway, as several-objects of the investigation are missing.
In order to speed the passage of this information to Deneb authorities who may be able to contain the operation, this information is also being routed through Farreach (1402 Spinward Marches) and Querion (1614 Spinward Marches).
A Zhodani offer of assistance in the apprehension of the assassins has thus far been declined.
Insiders are speculating whether this development could be at all related to the unusual Zhodani naval activities of 1119 or to the increased talk of Ine Givar activity within the Spinward Marches.
This report has been delayed by Imperial Navy censors until arrival at Depot.
Some minor changes may have been made from the original report for purposes of clarity, but these do not affect its content.
The story of the elimination of militarily useful basing facilities at Larmige (2709 Dagudashaag) has become clearer in the days since the event.
Previously the site of a naval base, scout base and starport rated at level B, Larmige was one of the crucial bases in the Imperial perimeter through Dagudashaag sector, along the main line of opposition to the forces of the usurper, Dulinor, and the imposter, Strephon.
It had been in the front line of the fighting since 1117 and for six years had serviced Imperial forces in these main areas.
However, due to operational, strategic and logistical considerations, it was necessary to adjust the Imperial lines through Dagudashuug sector to a new position anchored on Iiradli (3008 Dagudashaag).
This should not be seen as a withdrawal. Rather, the new lines are much stronger than the exposed and dangerous position of Larmige.
Given this redeployment, and the certainty that Dulinor's forces would have taken advantage of Larmige's fine facilities to launch attacks to further threaten Imperial citizens, the Larmige base clearly, through regrettably, had to be destroyed.
Fortunately, Imperial Intelligence assets have been able to ascertain without doubt that Larmigen casualties during this carefully controlled demolition were, in fact, quite negligible. [Challenge 57]
Professor Ililek Kuligaan has disappeared following his controversial remarks yesterday at Dlan University in which he called the Rebellion a "ridiculous war," among other things.
Kuligaan was until today until today holder of the Dulinor Astrin Ilethian chair as chairman of the Department of Imperial History. At public forum, The Future of an Imperium in Conflict, part of the university's regular series of public fora, Kuligaan made his comments in answer to a question about rumors that Lucan was concentrating efforts on a secret weapon to bring the six-year-old rebellion to a conclusion.
"If he's not," Kuligaan said, "he should be because that's the only way anyone will this ridiculous war. Anyone could have foreseen that the Imperium would split into factions of such equal size that no one would be able to gain the upper hand. All that we have been able to accomplish in six years of civil war -- and I mean civil war, if you must call it a "rebellion," then call it a rebellion against common sense -- is the slaughter, no, the murder of tens of billions of loyal Imperial subjects. And what was their crime? That they could only be loyal to one emperor at a time, not six or seven."
The casualties quoted by Kuligaan are those presented by the university, based on figures provided by naval intelligence. They include deaths caused by disease, starvation and piracy resulting from the succession struggle, as well as immediate combat fatalities. Although these numbers have not been disputed, they were not widely disseminated because of their probable effect on public morale.
Emperor Dulinor's office issued a warrant for Kuligaan's arrest this morning and stripped him of his office at the university. But Kuligaan has disappeared, lending credence to rumors that he had prepared these remarks inadvance, along with a means of escape.
When asked for comment on the arrest warrant, Dlan University Chancellor for Academic Affairs Justin Horrocks replied, "Well, we all know it's illegal to arrest a professor for a public statement of political analysis. It must be parking violations."
The annual naval review, traditionally held on Duke Craig's official birthday, will not take place this year, according to a spokesperson for the ducal office.
The prepared statement read, "Naturally, this does not mean that there are insufficient naval forces to spare for a review. Rather, fleet operational and maintenance commitments continue at normal levels. However, His Grace, in keeping with his previous statements that 1123 will be a year of peace, feels that martial celebrations would be inappropriate."
Speaking not for attribution, a Federation of Daibei naval officer remarked, "He'd probably rather save the ships to throw a review for the Aslan out in the [Reaver's] Deep."
Archduke Norris Aledon publicly appeared today on his ancestral home for the first time since the beginning of the recent wave of Ine Givar terrorism and allegations that rogue Zhodani elements had dispatched an assassination team to kill him.
Although a household spokesperson indicated that this visit was a normally scheduled tour and vacation at his ducal holdings, the public relations impact of his arrival was significant. Among the stops on his itinerary was the Regina Imperial Hospital, where he privately visited with recovering victims of Ine Givar bombings.
His only public reference to the recent terrorism was during an impromptu press conference when he responded to a question about the status of the talks he had proposed with the Ine Givar.
Acknowledging that there has been no progress toward starting the talks, he added, "I come to these discussions in all good faith. Sadly, I also carry a certain amount of faith about human nature, which these recent events have only served to verify."
The archduke, as a consummate crisis leader, is certainly aware that with recent events, the mere fact of his public appearances speaks volumes about his faith in the stability of Deneb as a social and political body and in his own personal safety.
Zhodani Consulate Ambassador Shterbifriashav flatly denied in a press conference that the Ine Givar are receiving any aid from his government.
Shterbifriashav said in his prepared statement, "The Consulate officially severed their alliance with the Ine Givar at the conclusion of the Fifth Frontier War.
"Terrorists are no one's friends and as the official representative of my government, I condemn these attacks as an atrocity against civilization."
The conference was called in the aftermath of a bombing yesterday of a Regina Colonial Navy recruiting office in which two naval personnel were killed. There have also been allegations of Zhodani collusion in a discovery last week of what was initially identified as nerve agents at the Regina downport.
The ambassador pledged financial and medical assistance to the victims of the bombings and their families as a gesture of good will.
What do you do when you lose a 60,000 ton cruiser? Hope that the Aslan didn't steal it?
This is the dilemma facing the personnel of the Imperial Navy Inactive Ships Facility at Trin. The Arrival Vengeance, an Azhanti High Lightning-class frontier cruiser, was one of five of that class mothballed at Trin since 1114. With the establishment of the Patrol, or Trekhyair, in 1120, one Lightning-class cruiser per year has been reactivated for service with this force, beginning with Azhanti High Lighting, Children of the March and Refractor Loathesome. The two left, Bard Refuge and Arrival Vengeance, were scheduled for reactivation in 1124 and 1125 respectively. However, while conducting an inspection of Bard Refuge prior to moving her to the shipyard, the inspection team discovered that her sistership, Arrival Vengeance, was missing.
There are currently no theories or explanations for this phenomenon.
A force of half a dozen Gazelle-class close escorts, tentatively identified as belonging to Lucan's Imperium, yesterday engaged in a brief orbital engagement here, then made for the 100 planetary diameter jump gradient to enter hyperspace. The purpose of this force's presence is unknown.
The force was spotted by the Home Guard cruiser Durhamon a routine system sweep. The cruiser's officers reported that although the intruders were not operating their transponders, a drone-mounted sensor package showed what appeared to be the Imperial sunburst symbol on the retreating vessels before it was destroyed by laser fire. The laser attack on the drone was the only fire exchanged before the six vessels broke off for the jump gradient. Their identity as Imperial-built Gazelle class vessels was confirmed soon after when their expended drop tanks were discovered near their hyperspace entry point.
However, their status as units of Lucan's forces is doubtful, as they made no attempt to engage Durham, which they clearly as a group outgunned. However, Durham's captain pointed out that it would not be long before their true identity was revealed, for without their drop tanks, they would not be able to get far.
The Travellers' Aid Society News Bureau would like to apologize for errors that have been discovered in some TNS dispatches to this distribution area for the period 101 to 213-1123. The data nexus for this distribution area has been one of the targets of Imperial investigations of "treasonous tendencies" among TNS employees (see report Capital/Core, 081-1123). An unfortunate side affect of these intrusions has been the mutilation of software systems and data compiling programs. This has mostly been evidenced by the garbling of textual material, but in some cases the emergency use of outdated software to bring damaged systems back on line has resulted in the broadcast of anachronistic information, such as the obsolete informational coding of Regina/Spinward Marches in some reports. At this time, all of these defects have been corrected, and TNS is proceeding with plans to bring suit against the Imperial government for harassment. We apologize for any inconvenience that these defects may have caused.
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