There are claims that the Imperial Senate is preventing efforts to examine a potential link between the Empire's security services and the NMLA.
Captain Saskia Landau has publicly stated that the terrorists' dark-comms network is closely related to the Omega Grid system used exclusively by Imperial Intelligence. She expanded on her theory in a statement to Vox Galactica:
"Based on evidence and interrogation transcripts obtained by ACT, I believe that rogue elements within Imperial Intelligence were training and providing equipment to the NMLA. This would help explain the level of sophistication they achieved in coordinating their starport attacks and communicating without detection."
"There is certainly enough circumstantial proof to warrant a dedicated investigation. But the Senate is refusing to authorise this, which makes me wonder what they are trying to hide."
Senator Karl Nerva reiterated: "It is time for ACT to devolve and return much-needed resources to the Empire where they belong."
However, Senator Caspian Leopold responded: "To alleviate any lack of confidence in our security services, we should examine Captain Landau's allegation rigorously. Our citizens must be reassured that Imperial Intelligence exists solely for their protection."
Prime Minister Edmund Mahon has invited Sirius Corporation to establish a permanent presence within the Alliance.
The Alliance Tribune's political correspondent Vanya Driscoll reported:
"Sirius Corporation's new role as a strategic defence partner has expanded swiftly, with a Sirius faction established in the Alioth system to represent the megacorp. In addition, several megaships have arrived in other Allied systems to provide support."
"The Alliance Defence Force and some government departments now have official advisors from Sirius Corporation on their staff. Prime Minister Mahon announced that these developments will streamline joint operations with the Sirius Navy, and in turn provide effective countermeasures against Thargoid aggression."
"But Councillor Nakato Kaine claims that the presence of Sirius Gov is illegal as it was not ratified by the Assembly. She has pointed out that since the defence pact makes this a classified military matter, any civil action to reverse Mahon's executive decision has been deliberately blocked."
*Pilots' Federation ALERT*
Caine-Massey and Torval Mining Ltd are running rival campaigns to deliver mined commodities to the Dulos system.
For the past decade, the megacorp Caine-Massey has supplied ore and other raw materials to several subsidiaries in the region. But with the contract up for renewal, Torval Mining Ltd is making a bid for the lucrative business.
Constantia Torval, operations director for the Empire-based company, outlined the initiative:
"We are calling upon pilots to provide the following mined materials: bromellite, samarium and gallite. These should be delivered to the Pride of Bitterwood in the Dulos system. Your assistance will directly support our proposal to win this contract and expand our entire enterprise."
Caine-Massey published a similar request from its vice president, Johann Fleischer:
"The citizens within this region deserve a high standard of service, and we aim to continue meeting their needs. The Green Party of Dulos, acting on our behalf, shall offer generous rewards for shipments of mined bromellite, samarium and gallite delivered to Smith Port in the Dulos system."
The corporate distributors within the region have agreed that whichever candidate is able to provide the greatest amount of materials will be awarded the contract for the next decade.
*Pilots' Federation ALERT*
The third phase of Brewer Corporation's Colonia Bridge project has proven successful, according to a recent announcement.
Shipments of ceramic composites, computer components and thermal cooling units were transported in large numbers to Jaques Station in the Colonia system and Macdonald Settlement in the Alcor system. As a result, several new starports will be constructed along the travel corridor to Colonia.
Brewer Corporation released this statement regarding the initiative:
"Once again, we owe a great deal to the pilots who brought us so many vital resources. We can now proceed with constructing one starport in the vicinity of Colonia and 5 starports in systems branching out from Alcor. These will increase the value of the Colonia Bridge for travellers, tourists and commercial interests alike."
"The starport infrastructures are scheduled to be built by the 27th of January. Initially they will provide rearm, refuel and repair services, but will lack markets and other facilities. The distances involved in ferrying equipment to these locations means that these starports will become fully operational in stages over a period of weeks."
"Contributors will be able to collect their rewards from Jaques Station and Macdonald Settlement from the 14th of January. The proposed engineered frame shift drives for those eligible will follow at a later date. The dedicated pilots who provided the most deliveries in Alcor and Colonia will receive invitations to submit suggestions to name the new starports, subject to review."
The independent inquiry into Aegis has delivered its final conclusions and recommended that the organisation be closed down.
Dr Paul Baumann, who chaired the board of inquiry, summarised the detailed report:
"Aegis was established on solid foundations in 3303 with strong leadership. Over the years, poor mid-level management and general negligence reduced its effectiveness. A silo mentality developed, with each department focusing on itself rather than strategic goals."
"Reduced funding undoubtedly contributed to low morale among staff and a lack of any further breakthroughs in AX technology. But a reliance on independent pilots to combat the Thargoids became normalised, with some staff considering them 'disposable mercenaries'."
"More specifically, the loss of the megaship Alexandria and the illegal attack against Hind Mine are both catastrophes that could have been anticipated and prevented. This board cannot in all conscience recommend any scenario that might enable further loss of life in Aegis's name."
Observers have noted that the Baumann Report, as it is commonly referred to, does not discuss Salvation or suggest methods of replacing Aegis.
In related news, the court martial of Admiral Aden Tanner has concluded with a verdict of guilty and a dishonourable discharge from the Federal Navy. However, his sentencing has been postponed by request from newly promoted Fleet Admiral Tayo Maikori, who has ordered a full review of evidence provided by Ram Tah.
The company owned by Senator Zemina Torval is attempting to acquire a mining contract previously awarded to the Caine-Massey corporation.
The agreement affects multiple corporations on the fringes of Federal space around the Dulos system, who for the last decade have purchased mined ore and other raw materials directly from Caine-Massey. With the contract up for renewal, Torval Mining Ltd has made an official bid.
An announcement was made by Constantia Torval, the company's operations director and daughter of Zemina Torval:
"We have enjoyed enormous success in a short space of time by providing services to the Empire. This is an opportunity to reach a broader customer base, and convince them that they too can benefit from Torval Mining's expertise."
Johann Fleischer, the vice president of Caine-Massey, remarked:
"Our corporation is proud of its origins within the Federation, and we have supplied these systems with resources for many years. This is a surreptitious attempt by an Imperial senator to boost her own standing by hijacking Federal business."
The Federal Commerce Authority has responded to Caine-Massey's request for intervention. An initial review found that, while it recognises the aggression of the Torval Mining claims, there is no exclusivity clause in place that prevents the companies in question from holding talks with an Imperial supplier now Caine-Massey's contract term is expiring.
A new member has been appointed to the Council of Admirals to represent Sirius Corporation as the Alliance's strategic defence partner.
Political correspondent Vanya Driscoll reported for The Alliance Tribune:
"There are always six seats on the Council of Admirals, taken by senior military commanders from the largest regional fleets. Not only is this the first time that a seventh position has been created, it's also the first to come from outside the Alliance."
"The new addition is Admiral Nikolas Glass, a highly decorated officer with the Sirius Navy. His new role is to coordinate the Alliance's anti-Thargoid operations, which from now on will be directly supported by Sirius Corporation."
"Prime Minister Edmund Mahon and Fleet Admiral Hayley Sorokin both endorsed this development as a way of strengthening the Alliance Defence Force, which lacks the might of the Federal or Imperial Navy. Many member systems have demanded increased protection against the Thargoid threat, so this news is likely to be well received."
"As expected, Councillor Nakato Kaine opposed the defence pact, with Admiral George Varma also critical of 'merging commercial interests with military matters'. Deputy Prime Minister Angela Corcoran also admitted that she abstained during the recent joint vote, but chose not to elaborate on her reasons. So it seems that the Assembly is not fully confident about this union with Sirius Corporation."
Senators have refuted ACT's claim that the NMLA made use of official but highly secret Imperial communications devices.
Captain Saskia Landau maintains that the terrorist group's dark-comms network was very similar to the Omega Grid, an undetectable messaging system used exclusively by Imperial Intelligence.
Senator Karl Nerva told the media:
"In her desperation to seek out the NMLA, Captain Landau is chasing shadows. Imperial Intelligence must operate under total secrecy, but I assure you that this 'Omega Grid' is just as much of an invention to discredit the Empire as Serene Harbour was."
"Landau has overstepped her authority with these outlandish accusations. I once again propose that ACT be disbanded and its operatives returned to normal duties."
The Imperial Herald reported that other senators are calling for Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval to overrule those who are blocking ACT's investigation. The newsfeed highlighted that she did not attend any functions in person during the past year, and has not broadcast any public messages.
In response, Chancellor Anders Blaine gave this statement:
"Her Majesty was placed under secure protection in early 3307 after several failed assassination attempts by the NMLA. She has been communicating remotely with the Senate on all official business, but does plan to return to Capitol very soon."
*Pilots' Federation ALERT*
Brewer Corporation intends to improve the travel corridor between the Alcor and Colonia systems by constructing several new starports.
The previous two phases of the Colonia Bridge project established stationary megaships in 56 systems. These provide rest, refuel and repair facilities for vessels making the 22,000 light year journey to and from the Colonia region. The additional infrastructure has also increased the amount of tritium available at these markets, easing the journey for capital-size ships.
A press release from Brewer Corporation outlined this latest initiative:
"Phase three aims to enhance the Colonia Bridge by building permanent starports in key locations along the route. These will offer a wide range of services to travellers, and also serve as homes for the many new communities that we expect to spring up around them."
"Our plan is to construct one starport in the vicinity of Colonia, and up to five starports stretching out from Alcor. Station structures will be assembled by the 27th of January, with additional services scheduled for implementation at a later date."
"Pilots are asked to deliver ceramic composites, computer components and thermal cooling units to Jaques Station in the Colonia system and Macdonald Settlement in the Alcor system."
"Assuming deliveries reach the required level, engineered frame shift drives will once again be available as rewards."
"The highest contributor in Colonia, and up to the top five contributors in Alcor, will be invited to submit naming suggestions for the new starports. All name submissions will be subject to review by the Brewer Corporation board of directors."
The military trial of Admiral Aden Tanner has been suspended following evidence provided by Ram Tah as a witness for the defence.
The Federal Navy tribunal was called to consider multiple charges – including mutiny – held against Tanner, the chief military liaison to Aegis. While commanding the Musashi megaship, he attempted to gain access to Hind Mine station and locate evidence regarding Salvation's anti-xeno superweapon.
Admiral Tanner's defence attorney opened a live link with Phoenix Base to allow Ram Tah to provide the following testimony:
"We have analysed the classified experimental equipment that was recently delivered to enable Salvation's superweapons. These components are near-identical to devices found at the Proteus research facility on Trapezium Sector YU-X c1-2. In 3113, an Azimuth Biochemicals science team conducted weapons testing using Guardian artefacts from this site, accidentally triggering a radiation surge which resulted in their deaths."
"My hypothesis is that Salvation has constructed large-scale versions of the Proteus design. These generate a powerful electromagnetic pulse at frequencies which disrupt the Thargoids' bio-mechanical technology."
"It's highly probable that this is based on an existing Guardian weapon discovered by the Proteus. This would explain why its presence within a system attracts Thargoid vessels."
The Federal Navy Criminal Court announced that Admiral Tanner's court martial has been temporarily suspended while the new evidence is reviewed.
A potential connection between the NMLA's dark-comms network and Imperial Intelligence has been made public by one of ACT's co-leaders.
Captain Saskia Landau sent a personal statement to all major media outlets:
"The majority of my career has been with the Imperial Internal Security Service, but I was seconded for a year to a classified project run by Imperial Intelligence. To coordinate their operations, they use a sophisticated communications system known as the Omega Grid. This is designed to avoid detection or interception by enemies of the Empire."
"I have reviewed ACT's research into the NMLA's dark-comms network and can verify its similarity to Omega Grid technology. Since this is exclusively under Imperial Intelligence's control, it suggests that an individual or group within the organisation was making it available to the NMLA."
"I'm aware that revealing this information publicly may end my career or even endanger my life. Nevertheless, I have shared my findings with ACT's leadership, and call upon the Imperial Senate to open an independent investigation into this evidence."
As yet there has been no response from Imperial Intelligence or the Senate. However, several agents of the IISS have anonymously spoken to reporters from The Imperial Herald, verifying that the Omega Grid system does exist and has been in use for many years.
Sirius Corporation has signed an agreement to provide the Alliance with ships, materials and personnel to help combat the Thargoids.
The Alliance Assembly and the Council of Admirals held a rare joint vote on the issue of inviting the megacorp to become a strategic defence partner. The motion was debated in private and reportedly passed by a slim majority.
Prime Minister Edmund Mahon told The Alliance Tribune:
"The danger posed by the Thargoids is increasing once more, perhaps accelerated by the loss of Aegis and a lack of any binding treaty between the superpowers. It is vital that we make a proactive decision to maintain security for Alliance systems."
"Sirius Corporation will work closely with the Alliance Defence Force to reinforce our member vessels, focusing exclusively on anti-xeno operations. In return, new commercial agreements will provide the company with increased access to certain financial endeavours."
Councillor Nakato Kaine spoke on behalf of several disapproving members of the Assembly:
"We are already too entwined with this ruthless corporate giant, so to hand our defences over to them is another blow to the Alliance's identity. It is also convenient that the details of the pact remain classified under military restrictions. We don't even know what price we're paying to hire Sirius to be our guard dog."
Sima Kalhana reviews the most newsworthy events of the past year in this series of articles.
"July began badly for the Federation, with more factions seceding in response to the Proactive Detection Bureau's establishment. The newly independent nations severed all links with these new surveillance efforts, inspiring many other systems to do likewise. This secession crisis would rumble on for the rest of the year."
"The Blue Viper Club, one of the rarely seen dredger clans, joined forces with the Kumo Crew to manufacture a medicinal drug that turned out to be a new strain of onionhead. The drug would ultimately end up being legally distributed by Neomedical Industries, causing Archon Delaine to seek revenge against the corporation."
"Tensions soared in the Marlinist Colonies during an election for the head of their diplomatic consulate. Aaron Whyte's candidate had the support of an Imperial senator, which would have given the Neo-Marlinists a powerful voice within the Empire."
"When a more moderate candidate was elected, the NMLA reacted by bombing both Marlinist starports, murdering tens of thousands including First Minister Jenna Fairfax. It seemed Theta Seven's extremist views allowed anyone to be targeted as an enemy, even his fellow Marlinists. The civil war concluded in August, with Whyte killed in battle as his supporters were overcome in direct combat."
"Following accusations of incompetence regarding the vanished Alexandria megaship, Aegis was officially suspended and subjected to a board of inquiry. This would have ramifications for the ongoing conflict with the Thargoids, and encourage Salvation to position himself as an alternative."
"In the corporate sphere, Zemina Torval created a new subsidiary of Mastopolos Mining that would eventually become an autonomous company. There were rumours that the Torval and Mastopolos families were now at loggerheads after decades of working in unison."
"In September, the mystery of Hyford's Cache was finally unlocked. The trail led to revelations of dark experiments which are believed to have involved human test subjects and Thargoid technology."
"When the Thargoids themselves appeared en masse in the Cornsar system, Salvation was ready for them. An anti-xeno superweapon of undisclosed nature was deployed, wiping out some of the aliens and driving away the rest. It seemed that the self-titled 'man of science' had developed something revolutionary, inspiring many to place their faith in him to end the Thargoid menace once and for all."
Princess Aisling Duval marked the start of 3308 by introducing her cousin Hadrian Duval, his wife and their newborn son to Imperial high society.
Entertainment journalist Solomon Helios broadcast a report on the event:
"It's an annual tradition for Princess Aisling to invite the great and the good to her palace on Emerald, although the tragic loss of her father in 3306 meant that last year's gathering was cancelled. This year she made up for it with a sumptuous, glittering celebration of the kind that we Imperials are famed for."
"For the first time, Hadrian Duval and Lady Astrid Minerva-Duval were in attendance. This youthful couple were surprisingly charming for a pair who would once have been arrested on sight. They entertained guests with stories of trading and fighting aboard tiny ships, from the days when their only title was Commander."
"However, the real guest of honour spent most of his time asleep, oblivious to the colossal attention he drew. Yes, baby Hector made his very first public appearance, having been born while his parents were under senatorial protection. Many dignitaries insisted on having their image recorded beside the 'future Emperor', a phrase one could hear being murmured throughout the palace."
"But what of the current Emperor? Unlike Hadrian's family, Arissa Lavigny-Duval remains in seclusion and only communicates remotely with the Senate. Now that the terrorists have been quelled, surely the time has come for Her Imperial Majesty to reappear before her loyal subjects?"
The last in a series that reviews the events of the past year, by noted historian Sima Kalhana.
"October brought further controversy for the Federation, when a diplomatic conference in the Delta Pavonis system was revealed to be a honey trap designed to capture Yuri Grom. Only a rush of support for EG Union allowed their ruler to escape, causing political embarrassment for President Hudson."
"There was more corporate drama when Zemina Torval relinquished her long-held majority sharehold of Mastopolos Mining, fuelling rumours of a family rift with her cousins. Torval Mining Ltd became a fully independent corporation run by her daughter Constantia."
"The Colonia Bridge project officially started the first of two phases this year which would see the construction of 56 megaships between the Alcor and Colonia systems. Brewer Corporation enjoyed great public support for improving this travel corridor along the 22,000 light year journey, and revealed plans to enhance it further in the new year."
"Hadrian Duval, his wife Lady Astrid and their unborn child were the specific targets of another starport bombing by the NMLA. It proved unsuccessful, but did result in the Imperial Senate offering them protection in order to secure the Duval bloodline. It also led to a manhunt for Theta Seven, the galaxy's most wanted terrorist."
"In November, Orion University claimed that the dredger occupied by the Scriveners Clan was legally their property, but the nomadic descendants of its original crew refused to give up their home. The stand-off caught the public attention, with some supporting the clan's right to independence and others keen to discover what their Knowledge Core contained. Ultimately the Scriveners retained their freedom, sailing off into the void with their secrets intact."
"Many were shocked when Admiral Tanner, Aegis's military chief, went rogue and tried to force access to a starport controlled by Salvation's allies. His conviction that the anti-xeno superweapons were responsible for provoking the Thargoids was, however, not enough to win the day."
"The NMLA threw everything they had at the Mudhrid system in an attempt to rescue Theta Seven, who was hiding among the Far God cult to avoid capture. But the terrorists were crushed by ACT and a coalition of ships, with Theta Seven martyring himself by destroying the hijacked megaship Sacrosanct."
"A happier event in December was the birth of Hector Duval, son and heir of Hadrian and Lady Astrid. There were celebrations across the Empire, but also questions asked about the future of the Duval dynasty and if the child might one day inherit the Imperial throne."
"The year ended as it had begun, with Thargoid vessels swarming into nebula systems. But with incursions steadily increasing over recent months, there were fears that this time they might prove unstoppable. Salvation's superweapons were once again deployed to halt the aliens' progress, but will they be enough to prevent the Thargoids from threatening humanity in 3308?"