Last year, the Alliance established a foothold in the California Nebula with the construction of an outpost in the California Sector BA-A E6 system.
The superpower’s critics suggested it was trying to control the system’s barnacles, but the Alliance insisted the outpost was intended solely to support scientific research.
Now, fresh reports indicate that the Alliance is about to expand its presence in the region by establishing both a scientific outpost and an extraction facility in California Sector JH-V c2-12.
Kelvin Masters, a freelance journalist who regularly contributes to the Rewired news feed, commented on the development:
“Of course the Alliance wants the barnacles! They’d never admit it, of course. But that’s not the point. The point is what the Empire and Federation are going to do about it. At the moment they’re preoccupied with Maia and Merope, but sooner or later they’re going to turn their attention to the California Nebula. And when that happens, the situation is going to escalate, I guarantee it.”
Recent reports indicate that the Empire has expanded into the Pleiades, having established a number of outposts in the HR 1185 system.
Katherine Ryder, a freelance journalist and seasoned war correspondent, commented on the development:
"Things might have been quiet recently, but that doesn't mean the situation with the Empire and the Federation has improved. This is a cold war, after all."
"Regardless of claims to the contrary, this conflict is about one thing: meta-alloys. Both sides want Maia and Merope because of the barnacles they contain, and both sides will keep pushing into those systems."
"Eventually, one of two things will happen: one side will withdraw...or neither side will. In the latter scenario, war seems inevitable."
Politicians on both sides of the divide have urged the superpowers to engage in amicable talks and establish some kind of agreement over the meta-alloys, but such entreaties have so far fallen on deaf ears.
Speaking from the Canonn Interstellar Research Institute, Dr Arcanonn has commented on the current state of barnacle research and lauded the discovery of harvesting sites in the California Nebula:
"Once again, the efforts of an independent explorer have resulted in an exciting discovery. Thanks to Commander Wobblytickle's report from California Sector DL-Y D4 C6, the long-suspected presence of barnacles in the California Nebula has now been confirmed."
But Dr Arcanonn's tone grew notably cooler when speaking about the barnacles of the Pleiades Nebula:
"The loss of several barnacles – whether through destruction or exhaustion – is naturally of concern to those of us investigating this enigma."
Commander Nicholas Powell
Dr Derthek, a founding member of the Canonn Interstellar Research Group, has embarked on an ambitious project to map NGC 6357, also known as the War and Peace Nebula, in its entirety.
Before departing, Dr Derthek gave a brief interview explaining his motivation:
"I've examined the Unknown Artefacts, I've seen the barnacles, I've even completed a circumnavigation of the galaxy. But the estimated 13,000 systems of NGC 6357 have always fascinated me. It's one of the most prominent sites of massive-star formation close to the bubble."
"I think there's something out there, although I don't know what. But it'll be my home until my ship, the RSV Canonn, has visited every single system. I might find more barnacles, more UAs, or something entirely new. Who knows?"
Hundreds of fellow scientists have sent messages of support, and Universal Cartographics is understood to be eagerly awaiting Derthek's return.
Commander Lord Zoltan
Dr Arcanonn, head of the Canonn Interstellar Research Group, has been released a statement to the media:
"A year ago today, I inadvertently started what is now known as a paragon of independent science: the Canonn Interstellar Research Group."
"Since then, my colleagues and our associates have led the way in Unknown Artefact research: discovering and decoding the Artefacts' Morse code signal, identifying the UA 'shell' around the Merope system in the Pleiades, and, more recently, researching the barnacles discovered on five planets in the Pleiades – work that still continues, with new barnacles being found every week."
"I think the next year will see us answer some of the outstanding questions, but also uncover more mysteries. If so, you can be certain we will be there, working from our lab in Col 285 Sector IX-T d3-43, and lifting the veil for the rest of humanity."
Commander Lord Zoltan
When Professor Ishmael Palin and his team disappeared en route to Maia b1ba, research into meta-alloys was brought to a near standstill, with only the Canonn Interstellar Research Group continuing to investigate the mysterious material. But recent reports indicate that research has continued in Professor Palin's absence under the helm of Lea Tantaga, a molecular chemist based at Obsidian Orbital.
"We've known for a while that the ongoing technical issues are the result of molecular interference from the Unknown Artefacts," said Tantaga. "What we now know is that meta-alloys can be used to neutralise this interference. In their raw form, the meta-alloys aren't all that effective. And the process of using them to create materials that can counter the artefacts' dangerous self-repair mechanism hasn't yet been perfected. But we're definitely on the right path."
In response to this development, authorities at starports affected by the technological plague have opened their markets to the sale of meta-alloys, no doubt hoping to receive further quantities of the much-needed material and return their outposts to normality. But the harvesting of meta-alloys continues to prove controversial, with some opining that the so-called 'barnacles' from which the materials are derived – and which are destroyed in the harvesting process – should be protected.
Verity Gavroche, official correspondent for the Canonn Interstellar Research Group, has spoken to Dr Arcanonn about an exciting new discovery:
"Over the weekend I was contacted by a Commander Engalo, who told me he'd observed an interaction between the Unknown Artefacts and the barnacle 'flowers' – the source of the meta-alloys."
"Both the barnacles and the artefacts have features we've nicknamed 'fireflies' – bright specks of light that appear to move of their own volition. Engalo has observed that if you place an artefact near a barnacle, their respective fireflies start flying around together. This continues until the UA is removed."
"I can't thank Commander Engalo enough for bringing this to my attention. With the new lab the community is helping us build, we'll soon be able to observe this behaviour under controlled conditions."
Commander Lord Zoltan
"We've heard a lot about these barnacles," said controversial chef Oliver Gordon today outside his restaurant 'PanGalactic', "but the most important question has yet to be asked. How do they taste?"
"I have sampled delicacies from across the galaxy, including Ceti rabbits and Vacuum krill. Now I seek new flavours with which to tantalize my clientele. I intend to create a dish fit for an emperor: space barnacle broth with a Deuringas truffle oil foam and Ochoeng chilli reduction."
When asked about the ethics of eating what could be a sentient being, Gordon was dismissive:
"Food is beyond such concerns. There can be no higher honour than to be lovingly prepared by my highly trained master chefs and served to the galaxy's most demanding connoisseurs."
Professor D Luffy, head of research at Bond Hub in the Varati system, has released a statement about the station's need for meta-alloys:
"My researchers are ready to receive as many meta-alloys as the community can deliver. We're certain we can repeat the success of the Obsidian Orbital engineers and reverse the malfunctions plaguing so many stations in the bubble."
"My colleagues and I understand the concerns about harvesting meta-alloys from the barnacles, but this plague is affecting millions of people and it seems the meta-alloys have been given to us specifically as a cure."
"We do not condone the destruction of barnacle sites, and we are prepared for the possibility that something bad could happen as a result of using the meta-alloys in this way, but we must balance the need for caution against the needs of humanity. So, please, bring your meta-alloys to us and let us do the rest."
Commander Lord Zoltan
Last month, the eminent scientist Ishmael Palin issued an appeal for meta-alloys, the rare material produced by the 'barnacles' of the Pleiades Nebula. The request was enthusiastically received by the galactic community, but the professor's research into the meta-alloys was brought to an abrupt halt when he and his team disappeared en route to Maia b1ba.
Since then, certain sections of the galactic community have raised questions over just what has happened to these meta-alloys. Many have cited the tremendous effort involved in collecting and transporting the materials, and some have even called for them to be made available on the Obsidian Orbital commodities market.
Authorities at Obsidian Orbital have not yet commented on the situation, but an anonymous report has emerged that appears to shed some light on the situation:
"The truth is that most of the meta-alloys were sold on the black market to various private companies. It seemed a little weird to me, so I did some digging and found out that almost all the companies were fronts for some big conglomerate I'd never heard of. I don't know what they plan to do with the meta-alloys, but I thought the public should know."
The legitimacy of the report has not yet been confirmed, but if it is genuine it raises the questions of who purchased the meta-alloys, and why.
Doctor Elana Lorax, a leading contributor in the field of xeno biology, has released a statement to the media:
"Before we reached for the stars we destroyed countless species on our homeworld. Similarly, the colonization of Tau Ceti, Delta Pavonis, Achenar and many other systems resulted in the mass extinction of native life."
"But humanity has yet to learn its lesson. The cry for meta-alloys is not unlike the lust for beaver-pelt top hats in ancient times. Thousands of barnacles have been destroyed, and for what? Defunct stations can be replaced. If the barnacles are destroyed for their meta-alloys we will lose their secrets forever."
Doctor Lorax continued: "With a little patience we could unlock the secrets of the barnacle. Xeno biologists and chemists could learn to synthesize meta-alloys, given time. Unfortunately it seems humanity is going to destroy another unique lifeform for short-term, and short-sighted, gain."
Verity Gavroche, public correspondent for the Canonn Interstellar Research Group, has been speaking to Dr Arcanonn about his teams' ongoing research:
"I realise the public might think our research has stopped because the barnacles and the Unknown Artefacts have not been in the news, but I can assure you that we are still hard at work. Many Commanders have undertaken expeditions to distant nebulae in the hope of uncovering more barnacles. We've also been working hard to map all the barnacle sites in the Pleiades. In fact, a new site was recently discovered on Pleiades Sector IH-V C2-16 C4."
"We are also trying to understand why the barnacles appear in the Pleiades. Are the raw materials in the nebulae important for their growth? Perhaps the ancient cloud the Pleiades is moving through has long held the 'seeds' for Barnacle growth, and they've only now taken root? We don't know, but we will continue our research."
Commander Lord Zoltan
Dr Arcanonn from the Canonn Interstellar Research Group has released a statement to the galactic media:
"I am now working from a new laboratory, two kilometres underground, at a secret location. My colleagues have forced me to relocate in the interests of my own safety. The death threats began shortly after I urged the galactic community to search for the barnacles. As word reached us of fellow scientists disappearing under mysterious circumstances, we realised the threats were not idle."
"But the work must go on. I urge you to continue to gather meta-alloys for Professor Palin. He is our best hope to solve the station malfunctions. But stay away from people harbouring the irrational idea that this endeavour will lead to our annihilation."
Commander Lord Zoltan
Professor Ishmael Palin, the scientist conducting research into the Unknown Artefacts, has issued a response to Violet Belbin of the Xenological Research Institute. Professor Belbin recently released a statement in which she suggested that Professor Palin was exercising insufficient caution over the meta-alloys – the substance produced by the so-called 'barnacles' discovered in the Pleiades Nebula.
"I have nothing but respect for Professor Belbin, but on this occasion I feel her concerns are misplaced. There is no evidence that the meta-alloys are harmful, and I can assure the professor that my team and I will take every precaution when handling and testing them. Furthermore, I am not rushing to any conclusions regarding their possible application. We do not know if the meta-alloys can counter the malfunctions affecting our starports, which is precisely why I wish to study them. As a scientist, I feel an obligation to contribute to a deeper understanding of this material."
Yesterday, Professor Ishmael Palin called upon independent pilots to deliver meta-alloys – produced by the newly discovered 'barnacles' in the Pleiades Nebula – to Obsidian Orbital, suggesting that the material could be the cure for the technological virus spreading through inhabited space. But Professor Violet Belbin of the Xenological Research Institute has expressed doubts:
"I would caution against assuming that this material is the answer to our problems. The nature of these 'barnacles' is not fully understood. They could be a form of alien life, and harvesting them could have unforeseen consequences. The Xenological Research Institute is sending a team to Maia and asks that Professor Palin takes our concerns into consideration."
Pilots have already started delivering cargo holds full of meta-alloys to Professor Palin's base of operations at Obsidian Orbital.
Commander Stateira 'Starcloak' Eleshenar
Zandu Science Journal | Interstellar Press
A remarkable discovery was made last week when non-human structures were found on a number of planets in the Pleiades Nebula. These 'barnacles', as the galactic community has christened them, produce a material known as meta-alloys, the exact properties of which are not yet known.
The discovery was followed swiftly by news that technical personnel at Obsidian Orbital – one of the starports affected by the mysterious malfunctions sweeping the galaxy – had apparently used meta-alloys to return the starport to some kind of normality. Naturally, this prompted speculation that the meta-alloys might hold the key to eradicating the technological plague that has blighted so many starports in recent months.
Professor Ishmael Palin, the former Federal scientist conducting research into the unknown artefacts, is evidently thinking along the same lines:
"The report from Obsidian Orbital is indeed encouraging, but there is still a great deal we do not know, including the cause of the malfunctions, or if the meta-alloys are indeed capable of countering them. That is why I am appealing to the galactic community to deliver as many meta-alloys as possible to my new research base at Obsidian Orbital. Only by amassing a substantial research sample can we know for sure whether or not the meta-alloys can be used to target this mysterious technological malady."
Professor Palin has pledged to reward all pilots who deliver meta-alloys to his base of operations at Obsidian Orbital in the Maia system.
Following yesterday's remarkable discovery of non-human structures in the Pleiades Nebula, starport markets have been inundated with meta-alloys – a mysterious material produced by the alien 'barnacles'. At present, very little is known about this commodity, but it seems it may have helped bring some stability to Obsidian Orbital, one of the starports affected by the mysterious malfunctions sweeping the galaxy. According to a recent statement, the station's technical team conducted an eleventh-hour experiment that, remarkably, seems to have improved things at the beleaguered starport:
"Things have gone from bad to worse recently, so when the meta-alloys started flooding in we thought...why not give it a shot? And somehow it seems to have worked. I don't know how the meta-alloys helped, exactly, but we think they're countering whatever it is that's causing the malfunctions. As soon as we have more concrete information, we'll let you know. For now we're remaining cautiously optimistic."
The exact cause of the technological 'plague' blighting the galaxy is still not known, so whether the meta-alloys represent a permanent solution can only be guessed. But many will be hoping that this breakthrough heralds the end of the mysterious malfunction epidemic.
Dr Arcanonn of the Canonn Interstellar Research Group has released a statement in response to the discovery of non-human structures in the Pleiades Nebula:
"This is a momentous day – alien structures have been confirmed on at least two planets in the Pleiades Nebula! I must congratulate Commander Octo, who made the initial discovery on Merope 5c, and thank Commander Snax, who contacted me. Within minutes, Canonn scientists and other commanders were at the site."
"We now know of multiple barnacles on Merope 5c, and the corrupted message recently received in Maia has led us to many more on Pleiades Sector JC-U B3-2."
"I can confirm that these structures produce meta-alloys, emit a sound similar to that made by the Unknown Artefacts, and bear mysterious markings that we have yet to identify. Some commanders have reported malfunctions near the structures, which might explain the crashed ships found near many of the barnacles."
Commander Lord Zoltan
Dr Arcanonn, head of the Canonn Interstellar Research Group, has released a statement to the media:
"For the past four weeks we have been investigating a curious new commodity called 'meta-alloys'. Many of my colleagues believe there is a link between this commodity and the unknown artefacts, as meta-alloys are linked to objects known colloquially as 'large barnacles', which have some artefact-like qualities."
"We have also been conducting a deep planetary survey of Merope, since the UAs point there, looking for anything out of the ordinary. So far, nothing has been found, but I'm now certain that there is a secret to uncover somewhere in the Pleiades, if not in Merope itself."
"My assistant, Socha Korbemile, insists that we will find large barnacles in the Pleiades, and I am convinced this is worth investigating. So I urge all commanders with planetary landing suites to scour the planets of the Pleiades for these large barnacles. They must be studied!"
Commander Lord Zoltan