The sick Emperor Hengist Duval has managed to appear in the Senate, albeit in a travel chair, to issue a decree.
He decreed Harold, his son, not of sound mind. This gives some credence to the claim in the more scurrilous news feeds a year ago that Hengist once referred to his son in not very regal terms in private.
"The little idiot is utterly bonkers. He couldn't find his own bottom with both hands."
This was of course, denied. This decree, as commentators have been quick to point out, means there is no clear successor to the throne. Unusually the event was excluded from newscasts, but those present said he looked frail.
Aisling Duval, arguably second in line for the throne if her parents were married, spoke out against slavery on the chat show 'Celebrity Pets', particularly the rebellion in Sorbago.
"We should accept that in this 34th century, this is a barbaric practice for people of honour. We should free the slaves in Sorbago. And for that matter Ngun, Eta Horologii, Kuyu, and Cemiess right away. This will happen anyway when my father becomes Emperor."
There has been some discussion among commentators that Aisling now appears to be speaking for her father. Senator Torval said in an off-the-cuff remark while leaving an awards ceremony:
"Well I suppose her soak of a father can't speak for himself any more. At least she could read the names of a few systems she had been given on a note. It would have been better if she could have been told how to pronounce them!"
In a popular move, Senator Denton Patreus has announced the already low tax regime for all Imperial Citizens under his patronage will be lowered to zero. Before boarding his private yacht he said to reporters present:
"It is the duty of the successful to provide well for their loyal supporters. Our many successes abroad have brought us vast wealth. I take pride that those under my patronage get the best medical care, the best assistance if they fall on hard times, and because of their support in the past, the lowest taxes."
Patreus is said to earn vast sums in interest payments on the many loans he has made to foreign governments to buy Imperial weaponry, which he also supplies.
Georgio Algeria, the spokesman for the Farmer's Union in the Kappa Fornacis system, has spoken out at the Federal President's declaration that Onionhead, the main export from the Kappa Fornacis system, be illegal.
At a press conference on Panem he said:
"Onionhead is great, cool. Loved across the galaxy. We make it, you eat it. Don't eat it if you don't want it. Call yourself President! We will keep making it and you will keep eating it. It's what we do. It's all we do."
Algeria would not be drawn on it in public, but it is clear the President's controversial actions have spread publicity for Onionhead far and wide and demand is higher than ever on the black market.
In a move that is sure to worry some independent governments, Senator Denton Patreus has announced his forces have been sent to aid the long-suffering rebels in the Jera system.
He answered questions on the steps of the Imperial Opera House on Conversion in the Achenar system.
"The left-leaning government in Jera has long been oppressing hard-working minorities. This is the fundamental problem with democracy - the bullying of the aspirational minority by the indolent majority. That bullying has to stop."
The Federal President Jasmina Halsey has declared the newly discovered rare narcotic 'Onionhead' illegal throughout Federal space. Onionhead is the fruit of an alien plant, only grown on Panem in the independent Kappa Fornacis system.
Halsey has said she is concerned by the effect it is having on Federal youth in that part of the galaxy.
"We must be strong and protect our youth from vile substances that are rotting their minds. This is why I have taken this difficult step."
Rumours of the slave rebellion in the Sorbago system have been confirmed. In a speech to business leaders, pro-slavery Senator Zemina Torval denied sending two of her personal Majestic Class Interdictors, the Boudica and the Elizabeth, to put down the revolt, but said:
"They have gone to Sorbago to help the local mining corporation keep the peace and to keep out the external forces that are trying to create a conflict."
Reports suggested the slaves are not being treated according to Imperial Law.
Torval has announced generous payments to those that help her, and has criticised the barbaric treatment of unregulated slaves outside the Empire in the past.
"I will personally sponsor any unregulated slaves brought to Synteini, Shinigami, Quile, LTT 9810, Tau-2 Gruis A, Naunei, and Tepertsi to be given full Imperial Rights and treated as Imperial Slaves."
The Imperial Palace has issued a statement saying that while the Emperor is unwell, it is not as serious as many commentators are suggesting. Nevertheless speculation is rife. The Chancellor, Senator Anders Blaine, has tried to quell the speculation.
"The great Emperor Hengist has not involved himself in the detail of politics for a long time. It is a terrible loss for us all that he is unwell, but even if the worst does come and our beloved Emperor passes away, we will have a coronation, we will have a spectacular ceremony and some great parties, but nothing will really change. The Senate and I will continue to run the Empire."
It is said that actions speak louder than words, and it has been noted that many shipyards throughout Imperial space appear to be concentrating on bringing numerous Imperial Interdictors run by key Senators to battle readiness with full squadrons of fighters. This is highlighted by the reduced number of new ships they are completing on the open market.
All five of the slaver Senator Torval's 'enforcers' – giant battle-hardened Interdictors – have left port, and her luxuriously equipped Majestic Class yacht "Xanadu", which still packs a punch, is ready to travel at a moment's notice. Senator Patreus's fleet is also mobilised, though this is not so unusual, but we expect some fireworks in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile in the Federation, another vote in Congress has gone against besieged President Halsey. She has been forced to remove her block on the Navy's latest budget. Shadow President Hudson declared this a major victory.
"Finally our once great Navy can operate again. Belatedly our heroes can return to full pay, and we can start to bring our fleet out of mothballs. Our Frontier States can once again see the justification for their taxes, and the powerful support we can bring to them."
We couldn't get a comment from the Alliance leadership, but we did manage to speak to a junior aide who wanted to remain unnamed.
"It's depressing they're at it again. I thought Halsey was better than that. Doubtless millions will die, and there's not much the Alliance can do except broker the odd meaningless set of peace talks after they've had at each other."
There have been some interesting goings on in the Lugh system, which was a peaceful, Federally controlled system until last week.
Then CMDR orfeboy started acting as agent provocateur for the Crimson State Group.
"Over the centuries those who could moved to the Lugh system to be closer to their point of attention and an underground following has grown over the centuries into now what is a sizable minority faction in this system.
Always persecuted and hunted in the past they have established themselves now as a force within the system where each and every right they posses had to be fought and worked for. But they will accept repression no more.
Now we want what is rightfully ours! The worship of the great God Lugh will no longer be oppressed and we will have dominance in this sector and eject the oppressive Federation out of this system declaring an independent Lugh!
We call on all ships for support.
Come to Lugh. Only do missions for the 'Crimson State Group'.
We need guns and weapons to gather forces for our uprising.
Our numbers are few but our resolve steadfast!
We will not fail. We cannot fail. We must not fail!"
With the help of many others, his campaign has seen Crimson State’s influence rise in the system from being a minor faction to such an extent that at the time of writing the system is on the brink of civil war.
Arguably the most powerful person in the galaxy, Emperor Hengist Duval, is sick.
He has ruled the Empire now for 67 years since his coronation in 3233 following the death of his father, Hesketh Duval.
Emperor Hengist is only 118, born only a week before the death of his grandfather, Hender Saik Duval. Some say Hender's spirit had already transferred to Hengist at that time.
The Duval Imperial line has been unbroken for almost a thousand years. There have been power struggles in the past, but the usurpers have been successfully dealt with behind closed doors.
This time is different.
Hengist has been not involved himself in politics for a long time, relying on his Chancellor, Senator Blaine and has taken a laissez faire attitude towards a handful of increasingly powerful and ambitious Senators whilst Harold, the current heir, quickly made a name for himself as a feckless playboy.
The warlike Senator Denton Patreus, last seen trying to destabilise the Eranin system during the conflict surrounding its 30th Anniversary of Independence from the Federation, continues his manipulative power-broking in the galaxy at large.
The preposterously rich Senator Zemina Torval is using her slaver corporation supporters and personal fleet of Majestic-class Interdictors to suppress revolts and to further her ambitions.
Commentators expect others to show their hand, too.
Much like in Imperial Rome on ancient Earth, Senators determine the tax rates of their supporters and both Patreus and Torval have become hugely popular back home as they have each used their huge wealth to lower taxation to zero.
There is a real prospect of the next Emperor not being a Duval. And the bitter fight for succession is about to spill out into the open.
Meanwhile, the Federation and Alliance of Independent Systems are watching with keen interest.
According to the experts at Wreaken Construction &Mining, all you need is a refinery, a mining laser and a little luck. Most rings in known space are depleted but for the individual there is still some money to be made. The current equipment is not configured to work with ice rings and the best yields will be found on metal rings far from populated space.
Our contact at Universal Cartographics, James Urquhart, was keen to point out that data is available in any of the mapped systems, showing both the type of ring/belt and the level of reserves. Reserves have been categorised from Depleted to Pristine and belt composition comes under one of the four types.
Achilles Aerospace's recently unveiled FSD interdictor product line has prompted Federation-wide renewed calls for frame shift interdiction to be classified as a crime - a proposal strongly rejected by several independent systems in this sector.
A spokesperson for the Achilles division, which specialises in ship modifications, refused to comment on what is becoming a political issue, other than to reveal that sales of the FSD interdictor module are performing beyond expectations.
Security analysts recommend that whilst interdiction remains legal, super cruising pilots should pay attention to vessels approaching from behind, as this is the device's required position to tether the two craft together and begin the process of interdiction.
Starport services across the sector are defending their fuel pricing strategy amid claims of price fixing.
A representative for Tranquillity Stops, 'the Galaxy's favourite services', angrily refuted claims of impropriety.
The spokeswoman told us:
"Whilst pilots can fit a fuel scoop to their vessel and attempt to skim the surface of stars to refill their tank for free, anyone with an ounce of sense will understand the dangers of such an activity."
She added that, measured against the potential thermal damage and risk of interdiction, fuel prices were actually "quite reasonable".
The Pilot's Federation has made the Universal Cartographics Discovery Module a standard component in all Sidewinder loadouts.
The Discovery Module is activated via a fire group, and works at both standard and supercruise speeds.
Once charged, it emits radiation bursts and analyzes reflections and reactions to build an overview of local unknown bodies.
Pilots can perform close-range scans of stars, planets and moons using standard targeting procedures. After a short delay, the on-board navigation computer will be updated with details of the body.
Exploration data can be traded with Universal Cartographics in starports, and growing demand has seen upgraded discovery modules and detailed surface scanners made available.
Now into its fifth day, the Eranin civil war has escalated quickly.
The system's independence celebrations saw mass exports of celebratory liquor, a practice banned in short order by the Federation.
The perceived Federal opposition to the Independent communist regime sparked anti-government protests and the rise of pro-Federation rebels in Eranin.
War erupted on September 26 and spilled out of the system with rebel attacks on targets in Wyrd, and retaliation against Federal Navy assets in i Bootis by Eranin Defense Forces.
At the weekend, Azeban's provincial city of New Fresno fell to the pro-Federation rebels, triggering an exodus of loyalist refugees.
Rumors persist of Imperial involvement.
The Azebanian provincial city of New Fresno fell to rebel forces this morning as the civil war moved into its fourth day.
Thousands of pro-government refugees have fled to Azeban's historical capital city of Fort Bradley, escaping what is believed to be, thus far, a largely bloodless rebellion.
The weekend had seen significant government victories, thanks in large part to the participation of traders from the Pilot's Federation. Cmdrs Johnny V and Fallschirmjäger provided Eranin's government with high quantities of Combat Stabilizers and Basic Medicines, while Cmdrs Nephalim Angel and Psychopomp delivered cases of celebratory liquor in the thousands.
However, orbital strikes on grain silos by rebel craft have caused panic on the streets of New Fresno and a mass exodus of loyalist civilians that has left the city in rebel hands.
Civilians have begun hoarding medical supplies, driving demand for essential medicine while demand for luxury goods and consumer technology is plummeting. Commentators suggest the market's reaction, when it comes, will be swift and dramatic.
Fort Bradley remains untouched by rebel forces. An official speaking from the city denied rumors of Imperial support for the long-standing government, and said:
"We are doing all we can to support our comrades making the journey to our capital, where they will be greeted warmly by the loyal people of Azeban."
He went on to dismiss the uprising, describing the conflict many are calling the 'Anniversary War' as a 'skirmish', saying:
"Eranin is a system of pioneers that has stood proudly independent for 30 years, and we ask our friends in the Pilot's Federation to supply us with medicine and weapons to assist in opposing these rebels' unjustified attacks against Eranin's people."
In a dispatch believed to have come from the overthrown New Fresno, rebel forces responded:
"We demand democracy, nothing more. Our unelected government steals away our freedoms while raising ever more in taxes. We will remove them from power one building, one city and one planet at a time, if we must. We have attacked only the grain silos with which Eranin's government shackles its people, and any bloodshed will be on our oppressors' hands, not ours."
In other developments:
The conflict has yet to reach the orbital Azeban City. The starport remains under government control, though rumors persist of a growing black market in aid of the rebel faction.
Ambassador Eliza Fernandez of the Independent Alliance has declined to comment on her detention by customs officials, or on the contraband liquor alleged to have been found in her ship's hold.
Delegates in the independent Wyrd system denied accusations of interference or partisanship in the Anniversary War.
Cmdr Neon Raven is Eranin's Most Wanted for actions against Pilot's Federation ships. Cmdr Vega Trantor is Most Wanted in Asellus Primus. The Pilot's Federation condemned all attacks against its members and local authorities.
Conflict between Pilot's Federation Commanders in the i Bootis system has seen 3,316 bounties collected in recent days, but a further 6,343 fresh bounties handed out by the federation's enforcers. Cmdr Erik Marcaigh is the system's Most Wanted, and has been described as "a menace". The Pilot's Federation asked other pilots to "follow the lead of leading bounty hunter Cmdr kiFF and collect the generous rewards offered on rogue agents".
Yesterday's peace talks between the Eranin government and Federation-leaning rebels collapsed into chaos yesterday.
An ambassador of the Independent Alliance was due to attend in support of Eranin but did not arrive - furious Eranin government officials accused the Federation of interference. It seems Ambassador Eliza Fernandez was delayed by customs en route to Eranin after the ship she was travelling in was caught with contraband Celebration Liquor on board at a Federal stop-and-search in the Opala system.
Silvia Calhoon, the Federal Representative from Aulin who chaired yesterday's peace talks, said:
"We offer our sympathy for Ms Fernandez being delayed, but government representatives need to lead by example. However, we are here to focus on mediation, and helping to settle the internal conflict between the Eranin government and a section of their people. We need both sides to sit down and talk. Sadly, the Eranin government did not stay long yesterday; we cannot achieve this noble goal if the Eranin government refuses to talk."
The Eranin government, who were yesterday rumored to be bankrolled by Imperial Senator Patreus, made no comment. However, shortly afterwards heavy fighting was reported in i Bootis as Eranin Defence Force ships attacked Federal Navy assets.
Reports are also coming in of strikes and sabotage disrupting the markets in Louis de Lacaille Prospect (LHS 3262), Romanenko Estate (Opala) and Moxons Mojo (Bolg) - all Federal systems.
In the last hour rebel ships have attacked in Asellus Primus and Wyrd, both Independent systems, supportive of the government in Eranin. The LP 98-132 anarchy is home to the Freeport starport, which was the source of many illegal weapons supplied to the Federation backed rebels and is currently subject to a civilian blockade.
Many Commanders have been mobilized in support of each side. The Faulcon deLacy Limited Edition Black / Wireframe paint job is being used by protagonists from each side as a method of indicating their participation, but disguising their allegiance.
The blockaders have come out as against the federation but still remain independent. We received this message from them outlining their intention to align themselves with the Eranin Defence forces:
"Greetings Commanders and citizens of LP 98-132,
We've had a chat, Treyshon and I; we have made up our minds about the current situation and feel that we can no longer ignore the escalating tensions. We've been carrying on as normal as if nothing is happening. Burying our heads in the sand, so to speak.
If the Federation manage to bring Eranin back into their oppressive fold we will start to see Federal influence creep into LP 98. This cannot be allowed to happen.
Therefore, as of right now, we are aligning ourselves with the Eranin Defence forces to push back against the Feds and FTPS is officially on hiatus from taxation duties.
Over the next couple of days we will be scanning all ships leaving Freeport and will destroy ANY vessels attempting to smuggle weapons out of Freeport, be them Elite Federation pilots or otherwise.
We will NOT tolerate any efforts to bolster the Federation's position in Eranin and the surrounding systems.
We are doing this as much for ourselves as for the pilots and citizens of Freeport that enjoy the free trade and everything else that comes from existing in an anarchic system.
We will not tolerate interference here.
Rise up now, never surrender!"
CMDR Star Noble's 'recruitment campaign' is increasing the numbers of privateers targeting Chango Dock.
During a routine scouting mission CMDR Qrunch Miner has discovered a huge Federation fleet Amassing at i Bootis B Unidentified Signal Source!
In combat news, CMDR Nemesis T Warlock is still racking up the Kills against the Feds whilst CMDR Erarda is coming out is force against Eranin.
CMDR Maeyae has become the top trader of liquor in a type 9, trading 20 times in one day, amassing over 8000 units and CMDR Jak sold Liquor in 13 different stations in just one day.
As Eranin 30th Anniversary celebratory liquor is spread far and wide, the Federation Black Ops teams are moving to more overt than covert operations in support of the rebels, removing all doubt that the rebels are a Federation proxy.
Consequently, the gloves are now well and truly off in the conflict between the Eranin government and the Federation-backed rebels, with ever-increasing numbers of Commanders involved on each side.
Congressman Silvia Calhoon, the Federal Representative from nearby Aulin, is today chairing peace talks at a secret, secure outpost between representatives of the Eranin government and the rebel leaders. Our as yet unconfirmed reports still suggest a representative of the Independent Alliance is also attending.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Senator Patreus denied rumours that he had personally extended a loan to the Eranin government.
In response to the Eranin government's call yesterday for a wider spread of its now-infamous celebration liquor, there has been much activity involving large amounts of liquor in several systems.
Over 30 Commanders have taken liquor to Opala's Romanenko Estate. In LHS 3262, CMDR Waugh and CMDR Sophie-Beth have both been major contributors to the liquor flooding into Louis de Lacaille Prospect. CMDR Sandmann is also doing his best to help Bolg's Moxon's Mojo star port drown its sorrows.
In combat news, CMDR Nemesis T Warlock in his Anaconda has now hit the top of the Most Wanted list in Federal space, and CMDR Neon Raven and CMDR erarda have been busy disrupting the Independents.
The Freeport blockade is still active. The blockaders are yet to show their hand for one side or the other, leading our informants to the conclusion that this activity is genuinely an entrepreneurial protection racket rather than a smokescreen by one of the power blocs. There would therefore seem to be a significant risk of the blockaders being caught up in a scorched-earth policy by Federation black ops units looking to cover the tracks of all the illegal weapons they have had smuggled out of the Freeport anarchy.
Meanwhile, there are whispers of covert Federal activity in Asellus Primus and Wyrd.
Perhaps rather than conflict, Imperial Senator Denton Patreus' characterization of the situation around Eranin yesterday as 'civil war' is growing more accurate by the day...
Commanders continue to fly in support of both sides of the conflict, although with a slight majority on the Federal side - the side of the rebellion.
We spoke to representatives from both sides last night.
A source close to the communist Eranin government passed on this message for broadcast:
"The Federation-backed rebels are determined to undermine everything Eranin stands for. Comrades! It is time to take up arms and fight the capitalist aggressors!"
There has been a massive surge in Eranin celebratory liquor being smuggled into Federation-controlled Chango Dock. The Eranin government wants to see even more destinations targeted with the now-symbolic liquor to spread support for their cause. Off the record they are also keen for more practical assistance from Commanders in fighting.
A spokesperson for the Federation-backed rebels, who wished to remain anonymous, told us:
"We want to be free to live our lives! Help us kick some Commie butt and break this centralist oppression - every form we fill in, every eye-watering taxation increase, every permit they deny, a little something dies inside us. They will not control us!"
We are getting reports that the Independent Alliance are about to formally intervene on Eranin's behalf with Federation representatives.