ACTION NEWS: The Rhetoric Escalates

This is Planets Magazine Action News, coming to you live with a special report: The Capricorn War — Conflict in Echo Cluster!

Hello, I’m Jim Chancellite. The top news story for today is the sudden and abrupt increase in diplomacy in the Capricorn War. We go now to ace reporter Pat Patterson, who is at the Senate Logistical Monitoring Station, just outside of the Capricorn Sector. Pat?

[scene: Pat Patterson with planetary background]
Thanks, Jim. I’m standing here just outside the Corso Lunaris monitoring base. This forest of scanners, antennae and other monitoring equipment is designed to track happenings within the Capricorn War. The signals are decoded inside that security-sealed bunker over there [points] and resolved into the periodic “Statistics Report” from which we can follow the progress of the War from a safe distance.

Now, this most recent report, the 58th, shows a small but significant shift of military power. Here with me to discuss this is Sir Reginald Billingham-Thwaite, the official SLMS liason for the sector. Thank you for joining us, Sir Reginald.

SRBT: A pleasure, sir. Good to see you again.
PP: You as well, Sir Reginald. I understand the Senate has a strict neutrality policy in these matters. What can you tell us without breaching confidence?
SRBT: Well… *ahem* I can give you the raw data, you understand, but not any conclusions. For example, I can tell you that a ship was destroyed at the coordinates (2698, 2724), northeast of Rebel space. That a Cyborg Firecloud was reported nearby and is nowhere to be seen at present, may be pure coincidence, and no relationship between the two facts can be proven.
PP: I see. Our sources tell us that there may have been a so-called “friendly fire incident” involving a Privateer Meteor.
SRBT: And I can neither confirm nor deny.
PP: Gotcha.
SRBT: Actually, in this case that may be an important difference. Fireclouds can move easily, and it’s equally likely — judging from the raw data, you understand — that a Rebel ship fought, for example, a Fascist one in the area, and that the events are merely synchronicitous. Contemporaneous, if you will.
PP: I… uh, I see.
SRBT: Yes. Well. The major occurrence of note is a transfer of power — general, this time, and between multiple factions. Several ships have changed hands, and a small amount of new construction has reportedly begun.
PP: New construction? But the shipbuilder’s strike–
SRBT: Oh, certainly. But we can also tell that the total number of ships active in the various fleets has not changed one whit, not an iota. So you see, the terms of the strike have not been broken at all.
PP: Interesting. And to what can we attribute this shift? Combat? Betrayal?
SRBT: You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment. I can only observe that but a single explosion was, in fact, reported.
PP: Ah. Well, what can you tell us?
SRBT: Merely that the Evil Empire and the Cyborg are the big losers, and that the Privateer is the big winner.
PP: And what about the reported gains on the part of the Colonial forces?
SRBT: A single ship, likely combined with ongoing fighter construction. Analysis of the Colony military strength chart over time shows a gradual and continual increase with little or no ship construction; as such, we must conclude that a large percentage of apparent Colonial power is, in fact, merely the result of continually increasing fighter stocks.
PP: So it’s not that the Colonies are invading the Empire.
SRBT: Oh, as to that, I’m sure I couldn’t say. But I can tell you that there have been no explosions on their border, and the planet count isn’t shifting noticeably.
PP: I see. And… wasn’t there something about diplomacy?
SRBT: Oh! Yes — merely that diplomatic message traffic during this past monitoring period reached an all-time high for this sector.
PP: Really? [suspiciously] But I thought Senate monitors couldn’t track diplomatic communications, that they were secure by their very nature!
SRBT: Oh, certainly, certainly, my dear sir. We don’t READ the messages.
PP: Then how could you–
SRBT: We transmit them, don’t you know.
PP: You– uh, no. No, I didn’t know.
SRBT: But of course! We have the only secure message relay system in the entire sector! It’s free to use — an important consideration for some of the smaller empires — and guaranteed private. And Senatorial neutrality is, of course, unimpeachable.
PP: Oh, of course. Ah… so there was a lot of discussion, then?
SRBT: Yes, it was a massive spike in the message count.
PP: Between who?
SRBT: [primly] I wouldn’t know.
PP: But surely you must see the recipient in order to deliver–
SRBT: [acidly] We’re not the postal service, you know. It’s all done automatically.
PP: Ah; I see. Hmm… If it were a matter of trades, we’d expect the messages to be on the turn before.
SRBT: Or turns.
PP: Turn or turns, yes. So it’s the Privateer stealing ships again, and from the Borg, no less! No wonder there was so much talking going on, if he’s turning his coat!
SRBT: Oh, well, I certainly couldn’t comment on that.
PP: That’s all right, Sir Reginald. You just keep giving us the data; we’ll turn it into news.
SRBT: But to say that the Privateer is stealing ships — that’s unproven. And that he changed his loyalty? Inflammatory, sir; it’s no more than unsubstantiated gossip!
PP: That’s what I said — news. Back to you in the studio, Jim.

Thanks for that insightful report, Pat. Now, we’ve attempted to reach both the Evil Emperor and the Cyborg Controller for comment but with no luck. The Cyborg appears to be keeping a dignified silence on the subject; the Evil Emperor is also silent, but that silence seems somehow… ominous. We’ve also dispatched a camera crew to Privateer space, but they returned early; apparently, some miscreant stole their cameras, microphones and broadcasting equipment.

And that’s the way it is, today, Stunday, the 26th of Ares in the 6th Year of Mentar, long may he reign. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

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