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.
There are still commanders such as CMDR Pheyes who are ambivalent about their allegiance and appear to be indiscriminate in their targeting.
Many more, however, appear to be aligning themselves strongly with one camp or the other. CMDR zenoic neatly summed up Eranin supporters' feelings.
"Freedom, yes. Freedom to trade legitimate goods, freedom from Federal sponsored terrorism, freedom from Federal bullying. Long live the Eranin revolution! 30 more years!"
CMDR Nemesis T Warlock in his Anaconda is rapidly catching up with CMDR BlueFalcon at the top of the Most Wanted list in Federal space, and CMDR Mark0 continues to uphold Independence for Asellus and Eranin.
CMDR DeGrimmy is taking it upon himself to arrange more organised activity.
"A group of pilots, myself included, will be taking the fight to the Federation by attacking their forces at i Bootis B. A broadcast will be available at 8pm BST (~5 minutes from posting). The USS can be found ~10Ls away from I Bootis B. If they are not stopped at Eranin, they will not stop at all. I found a bulletin at Federation occupied Magec earlier, asking for "Federation Patriots" to fight any independent system security force in return for a handsome sum of credits. This has to stop."
CMDR Ozric's assertion of:
"Better dead than red!"
Would seem to indicate that he is firmly on the side of the Federation-supporting rebels. CMDR 2H@RD 2H@NDLE is putting his lasers where his mouth is by heroically defending Federal assets in i Bootis with a Cobra, whilst CMDR Cryo is doing a similar job in Dahan.
The tension is cranking up and rumors are spreading like wildfire. CMDR MarktJones messaged:
"Getting dozens of 'Request Denied' responses from the station, at first I thought the traffic control had got their hands on some of the celebration liquor. But then I realised, the Federation has hacked the docking control system at Azeban City."
It seems yesterday's blithe denial by Imperial Senator Denton Patreus hasn't convinced all of you.
CMDR knowles2 says:
"The Empire senator sounds like he could barely keep a straight face during that interview. I wonder how long it will be until an Imperial fleet is spotted above Eranin to protect them from Federal aggression."
And of course there are those such as CMDR Lukozer, who are fiercely loyal to the Empire.
"Death to the Federation! My loyalties are with the Empire, but ... the independent systems get my support, particularly Eranin which seems to have some 'unofficial backing' from the glorious Empire"
Commanders are getting heavily involved in the growing conflict between Eranin and the Federation over Eranin's 30th Anniversary of Independence.
Almost as many missions were flown in support of each side in the past 24 hours as in the whole of the weekend since Eranin's 30th anniversary. It is a similar story with Faulcon deLacy's continued incredible 50%-off deal continuing to take significant hauling capacity out of the systems and replacing it with the highly combat capable Cobra.
Supporters of the beleaguered Eranin government are running illicit Eranian and Wyrd celebratory liquor to Federal starports - Commander Kudlmudl's Sidewinder is the highest non-anonymous Commander with 17 liquor runs totalling 82 canisters. [LG] Khan has been putting his capacious Lakon Type 9 to good use in Eranin's service with 3,671 canisters of liquor illicitly shipped over the course of 12 trade runs.
There is also a healthy black market weapons trade in support of the Federation.
Commander Neon Raven is currently 'most wanted' at Azeban City (Eranin, Independent), and Commander BlueFalcon is 'most wanted' at Chango Dock (i Bootis, Federal). Each have over 450 kills to their name.
GalNet data feeds indicate that some Commanders are taking advantage of the growing confusion to indulge in indiscriminate slaughter - Commanders Germaniac and Pheyes are both wanted for significant numbers of kills in the i Bootis system, but are also towards the top of the table of most bounties collected in the same system.
Commander ZaphodBeeble has emerged as the public face of 'Freeport Tax and Protection Services'. Freeport is in the anarchic LP 98-132 system, and ZaphodBeeble and friends are operating what at first glance appears to be a straightforward protection racket.
Normally we would simply expect nature to take its course with such behavior, however with current levels of paranoia sweeping the systems we have to wonder whether there is some wider strategy at play. Will the erstwhile extortionists / enterprising entrepreneurs ultimately turn out to be yet another machination in the power play that is unfolding before our eyes?
We are working our data sources hard in order to bring you behind the scenes information on that spectacular Faulcon deLacy price deal which is throwing fuel on the fire of the Eranin / Federation tensions by militarizing both sides.
Who stands to gain from the Federation and a member of the Independent Alliance being embroiled in a struggle?
The Empire's well known Senator Denton Patreus visited our local area of space some months ago, and is known to have wined-and-dined key Eranin dignitaries onboard his sumptuous travelling embassy.
Senator Patreus, you will recall, is a popular figure who travels the galaxy with his substantial entourage in a giant white Imperial Cruiser, 'maintaining good relations' with numerous independent governments throughout human space.
One of our correspondents managed to grab a word with him yesterday as he hosted a banquet back in Imperial space, and asked him if he had any involvement.
"I visit dozens of systems each month. I have no idea what they are planning, but the notion that a Senator of the Empire would lower himself to dabble in local business like this is preposterous."
"The entry requirements for a system to join our wonderful Imperial fold are pretty high, and what looks like a civil war is hardly going to help their case."
Our correspondent was ushered out of the banquet shortly afterwards.
It turns out that big deal that the Faulcon deLacy board was rumoured to be working on is a spectacular one. In a surprise move, prices of their Cobra Mk III craft have been slashed by 50% to 86,052 credits. FdL is also offering 100% of the trade-in value of your current ship when you switch to a Cobra Mk III.
It is a staggering move, that on the face of it makes no commercial sense - why would a company with a market leadership position give away all that profit? Have the FdL board gone soft in the head? Rest assured we are on the case and won't rest until we get to the bottom of the story on this one.
The net result, however, is a significant militarization of the ships out there - around two thirds of all trade-ins to the Cobra have been from trading ships like the Lakons and the ZP Hauler. That's an awful lot more combat capability flying round the galaxy.
Eranin's slow-burn escalation of tension with the Federation over its 30th Anniversary Of Independence celebrations looks to be coming to a head.
On Saturday, Eranin's 30th anniversary, the Federation declared the special celebratory liquor from Eranin illegal. Liquor from Wyrd, Eranin's fellow independent communist system, was also included in the ban.
A spokesperson for the Eranin Government said:
"We don't understand why the Federation would want to deny its citizens the opportunity to share our celebratory liquor with us - it is just a simple expression of shared joy, and does no harm."
Off the record, it was indicated that the Eranin Government is furious over what it sees as a bullying overlord attempting to spoil its big day, and this sort of behavior is precisely why Eranin wanted to get away from the Federation in the first place.
Over the last couple of days it looks like the whole operation has moved underground - there has been a marked increase in Commanders trading liquor from Eranin to Federal systems on the black market.
Meanwhile the marked increase in trade in black market weapons from the Anarchy systems continues unabated, with large numbers of Commanders also involved in shipments.
Reports suggest this is being funded by Black Ops cells, whose presence we have already alerted you to, placed there by a Federal government for whom the celebratory liquor was the final straw. They feel that Eranin has gone way beyond acceptable boundaries of provocation as it tries to lure other systems away from the Federation and go independent.
The ultimate destination of all this hardware is currently unknown, but having a large amount of fire-power being pumped into the already delicate situation surely cannot be good news for the short-medium term of the systems.
Eranin's 30 year anniversary of independence from the Federation is tomorrow, and their 'cold war' looks more and more like a tinderbox ready to ignite.
After last week's stunning news of a free Eagle for all, Core Dynamics falls back to a more usual 13.6% market share.
Faulcon deLacy remains top of the pile and tightens its grip on the market even further with a 1.6% overall market share rise to 41.6%. We have been digging hard over the past week following the rumours of the FdL board doing a big deal. Although we haven't yet got the full story it appears that something huge is about to happen with the Cobra. Could this be linked to the 30 year anniversary tension between Eranin and the Federation?
Zorgon Peterson once again accounts for a solid 26% share this week.
Lakon sales remain static this week, and the company will hope today's news of the release of the Asp Explorer on 30 September will help stimulate interest in their range.