ACTION NEWS: Inside The Cognitium War

Hello, good evening, and welcome to this special edition of Planets Magazine Action News. I’m Jim Chancellite, coming to you Live! from the Cognitium War!

As always in these special reports, there’s tremendous amounts of excitement here at Broadcast Center. We’re joined tonight by military expert Col. Tolliver South, late of the Federation Navy, who is able to be with us live in the studio.

TS: Hello.

…and, coming to us via ansible transmission from his location as an Echo Cluster commander, High Consul Ef Hu of the Empire of the Birds.

EH: Greetings, noble Chancellite. Thank you for getting my name right this time.

And, from an undisclosed location inside the War itself, we have Ace Reporter Pat Patterson, who will be reporting live from the scene with the results. Good evening, Pat.

PP: Good evening, Jim. Behind me, you see the superstructure of a Wumpus-class Station maintained by the Discord Network. We’re told that, from this very site, secure meetings of the Cognitium Anti-Federation Coalition have been taking place between its leaders for several months now, as they have plotted between them the conquest of space in this most recent Emperor War. The recent demise of the Federation has changed things, however. Tonight’s meeting could mean the end of fighting, as the leaders, unwilling to end their cooperation, have chosen instead to determine the final winner through trial by combat. When they arrive— Hey! You did you get in here?

M: I am Morgens.
PP: That’s not an explanation.
M: Yes, it is.
PP: Ah… Well, then: The first of tonight’s combatants has arrived, wearing the honors of a Dahar Master, no less. Greetings, Commander! Is there anything you’d like to say to the broadcast audience?
M: No.
PP: …Ah. Okay, then. Well, we’ll just… uh, wait here for the rest of the combatants to arrive, and…
M: They’re not coming. This will not be a trial by arms.
PP: Oh! It, uh, it won’t? What… ah…
M: We shall toss the bones to determine the victor, in keeping with sacred tradition. I shall take the KoGhatch portion, which gives me three chances for victory. Zacha has the greater chance, for his effort was greater. My own command took a fraction of the time.
PP: I see. And what…
M: I have told you enough. Go now, and leave me to my meditations.
PP: Well. Uh, OK. Dahar Master Morgens, folks. Jim?

Thank you for that stirring, exclusive interview, Pat. Let’s turn now to our commentators, to see what they have to say about it. Col. South: Surely this is the first time a die roll was used to choose a new Emperor?

TS: That’s correct, Jim, though it’s not unheard of in general.
JC: Indeed?
TS: Yes, particularly in the earliest of the Echo Cluster Wars, before the arrival of the Senate and the codification of the Emperor Challenges. In fact, one of the earliest measures used to determine a winner was by measuring the total amount of Molybdenum that could be contained in the collected holds of a given faction’s entire star fleet—

Pardon me for interrupting, Colonel, but there’s been a development from the station. What’s happening, Pat?

PP: A hologram of Proconsul F’exer has appeared. He’s been… ah… slightly less forthcoming than was Dahar Master Morgens. We’re still waiting on the arrival of the third member of the triumvirate.
JC: And you’ll keep us informed, Pat?
PP: Certainly, Jim. That’s what I’m here for.

And how does the Bird Empire view these events, High Consul?

EH: We place great trust in our local commanders, noble Chancellite. This F’exer has quite a reputation, not only as a consummate logistician, but also as an honest and honorable man — some would even say quite unusually so.
JC: Indeed? And what does it take for a Proconsul of the Empire to be considered “unusually honest”?
EH: He has been known to honor his spoken word not only in cases of personal disadvantage, but from time to time even to the immediate detriment of the Empire.
JC: But from what I understand—
EH: You’re thinking that’s treason? Yes, quite — except that, from time to time, it is useful to the Empire to have access to a prominent spokesman who is known for his honesty. I’m sure you follow.
JC: Ah. Yes, certainly. That makes perfect sense.
EH: I’m pleased you think so.

…And we’ve got another update from the Discord Station. Pat?

PP: This is exciting, Jim! We’ve finally gotten a glimpse of Zacha, the Cyborg commander. Turns out, he’s half Ferengi — a cybernetically augmented Grand Nagus!
Z: Widerstand ist zwecklos! Glücksspiel ist Pflicht!
JC: What’s that he’s saying?
PP: Seems to be some sort of technical problem with the translation software. According to our technicians, it’s a traditional greeting to open the venue. Literally, it means, “Resistance is futile; gambling is compulsory!”
JC: That’s certainly appropriate to tonight’s event. What’s happening now?
PP: Well, now we have the speeches. Each commander is honoring the other two. Traditionally, these are expected to continue for several hours.
JC: Now, one thing we’ve been wondering: Is there any sign that any of the other Cognitium War commanders have been invited to attend, either as a courtesy or to cast their own lots?
PP: During the last station break, a statement was issued by the Coalition to the effect that only these three commanders were considered worthy of victory.
JC: Hm. I’m a bit surprised by that. There are some serious contenders in that lot, some of whom are commonly considered quite pugnacious.
PP: Perhaps they’re OK with it. After all, we haven’t heard anything.

And the producers are telling me it’s time for a pause for station identification. When we return, we’ll have more on the breaking news from the Discord Station. This is Jim Chancellite, Planets Magazine Action News!

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