In a move which is likely to further increase tensions between the Federation and the Empire, a high-ranking Lady of the Empire has been denied access to the Sol system.
Lady Kahina Tijani Loren, the Senator from the Prism system, was on a diplomatic mission at the behest of Chancellor Blaine when her Imperial Courier was interdicted whilst jumping into the Sol system.
According to Imperial sources, Lady Kahina's vessel came under attack by unidentified ships, but fought its way free despite suffering significant damage during the incident.
Federal representatives insist that the Imperials failed to file a valid itinerary, which resulted in a lack of an escort through Federal space. The Empire has demanded a formal apology from the Federation, but so far this demand has gone unanswered.
Lady Kahina was quoted as saying: "I don't like to be late."
In another administrative mix up, Lady Kahina Tijani Loren's Imperial Courier has been denied docking clearance at Mars High. Official observers report that an Imperial Courier attempted to dock without prior permission and when confronted, refused to acknowledge hails.
Unofficial, and anonymous, reports from independent traders seem to favour the view that Mars High docking personnel routed Lady Kahina's ship to the back of the queue unnecessarily, and rather than comply, she positioned her ship directly in the docking entrance and refused to move it until granted a landing pad.
Lady Kahina was later quoted as saying. 'As I said before, I don't like to be late.'
Rumours that the docking clearance officer at Mars High has been encouraged to retire early are strenuously denied by Federal administrators.
In an apparent show of solidarity for the visiting Senator and in protest at her perceived shabby treatment at the hands of her Federation hosts, dozens of independent Commanders have volunteered to escort Lady Kahina Tijani Loren's Imperial Courier through Federal space for the duration of her trip.
The unofficial escort is primarily composed of Imperial Cutters in private ownership, causing acute embarrassment to the Federation, who are powerless to prevent newsfeed images of what appears to be a sizeable Imperial fleet gallivanting unchallenged against the unmistakeable backdrop of core Federation worlds.
Lady Kahina was briefly interviewed by The Mars Herald and was asked, "What do you think of your welcome into Federal space?"
She replied with "When I receive one, I shall let you know."
Lady Kahina Tijani Loren's unofficial entourage has begun a tour of the outer gas giants in the Sol system. Hundreds of privately owned Federation-registered vessels have turned out to greet the Senator, in lieu of an official welcome, as she continues her passage through the Sol system despite continued apathy from officials.
Requests for interviews from the diplomatic representatives on Mars have been turned down, but one, rather stressed, aide was quoted as saying, "Listen. We have no intention of jumping through hoops for some jumped-up Imperial prima donna who won't do the paperwork properly. That's off the record, yes?"
Questioned on this at a Merchants Guild reception hosted on Titan, Lady Kahina was quoted as saying, "We Imperials often do get accused of being arrogant and overbearing, but at least we're good at it."
Returning to Earth at the invitation of the Secretary General, Senator Kahina Tijani Loren’s Imperial Courier was tagged with a fine at Mars High apparently due to activating its boosters while still within the station.
Reports indicate this caused a deafening roar within the docking area and even cracked the windows of the docking administration office.
Sources close to Mars High administration were quoted as saying “We are showing restraint! She’s lucky we didn’t obliterate her ship immediately like most parking offenders. What else does she want?”
Deano Blake, a trader whose Adder has been impounded by Mars officials for several weeks due to an inadequately sealed drive plate, told our reporters, “Never really thought much of Imperials before this, but I’ve got hand it to this Kahina gal, she’s got style!”
In an open letter addressed for the attention of Senator Kahina Tijani Loren, Alliance representatives from Alioth have extended an invitation for her to visit their star-systems with the assurance the her trip will be free from “bungling bureaucracy, petty-minded procrastinators and deranged docking debacles.”
Apparently Lady Kahina’s visit was placed on the agenda at a recent diplomatic exchange between the Alliance and the Federation with assurances sought by Alliance representatives that “somebody competent would be checking the paperwork in detail, and if at all possible, that landing pads could be reserved in advance.”
Lady Kahina is currently being entertained on Earth, where she was greeted by enthusiastically cheering crowds on arrival at the historic Cambridge spaceport before being taken to London to be met by Ambassador Waite.
The Mail on Mars even commented that “We should have more Senators drop in for visit, she’s done more for Imperial Federation relations in a month than all those ambassadors have done in decades.”
More scandal accompanied Senator Kahina Tijani Loren’s continuing visit when she was presented with a large vial of Gerasian Liquor by representatives at a concert in London.
The representatives were apparently unaware that the beverage has recently been outlawed in the Empire, and anyone caught carrying it within Imperial territory could be subject to severe sanctions.
Federation officials were quick to deny that it was a deliberate ploy to cause further inconvenience to the visiting Senator, whose reception has been dogged with controversy in equal measure to the unexpected popularity she has received from the general populace.
Lady Kahina received the gift in good grace. When questioned about the illegality of the beverage in her home jurisdiction she replied with “They really needn’t worry, I’ll drink it all before I get home.”
After completing her tour of the Sol system and meeting several high ranking officials within the Federation, Senator Kahina Tijani Loren has returned to the Empire.
As expected a large flotilla of vessels accompanied Lady Kahina to the boundary of Federation influence, where she rendezvoused with the Imperial Interdictor Lucius.
The Sol Herald asked Lady Kahina what she had thought of her first trip to Sol. She was reported as saying that she had found it “Most enlightening” and wanted to express her thanks to all who had helped her “navigate the fiendishly complicated Federation protocols.”
Lady Kahina was then asked “Do you consider the docking officials at Mars High to be friends or rivals?”
Her reply was greeted with laughter over wide-band comms. “Oh, that’s easy. Neither.”
Representatives from Mars High could not be reached for comment.
Leaked images from the Avalon shipyards appear to indicate that Senator Kahina Tijani Loren’s Imperial Courier, the ‘Seven Veils’, is undergoing a significant refit just weeks after her recent visit to the Sol system.
Security at the Avalon shipyards, which are owned and managed by Persephone station, is extremely tight. The images themselves are grainy and ill-defined, but seem to show that the drives, shields and possibly the frame-shift drive components have been significantly upgraded.
Sources within the Empire note that Senator Loren has been seen at several significant social events within Imperial space recently. Despite this, she has refrained from speaking to any member of the press since returning from Sol.
Speculation is rife as to her involvement with the ongoing struggle for power within the Senate. Loren has yet to declare her support for any of the leading contenders, a fact which some political pundits believe is a strong indication that she may be considering her own play for power.
Senator Kahina Tijani Loren’s Imperial Courier was seen departing early morning local time from the Avalon shipyards. It rendezvoused with The Imperial Interdictor Atticus, Admiral Brice last known to be in command.
The convoy is believed to be enroute to the Achenar system.
According to the Imperial Herald, Senator Loren is “being hailed as a true daughter of the Empire, and assigned the rights and responsibilities as appropriate to her rank.”
Quite what this means is not clear, even to seasoned Imperial watchers.
Senator Loren’s political leanings are even less clear. She is reportedly in favour of slavery, having been quoted as saying “Slavery is a safety net, it ensures nobody can starve or fall into poverty.”
She is also clearly prepared to use violence to achieve her aims – as revolutionaries on her home world of Prism were summarily executed after she returned to power.
By contrast she seems to be in favour of closer political ties with the Federation and the Alliance. Her recent trip to the Sol system was either a carefully orchestrated political gambit, or just happy chance. Either way, her positive profile with in the Federation is certainly a factor.
Senator Loren was involved in a wide-spread space battle during the reclamation of the Prism, which may have influenced her views on the effectiveness and desirability of major naval engagements.
Senator Kahina Tijani Loren was seen at a musical soiree on Capitol yesterday evening, taking part in a reception after her arrival in the Achenar system.
Kahina was ambushed by reporters as she emerged from her transport and asked whether she was intending to challenge for the leadership of the Empire.
She responded that she had “absolutely no ambitions in that direction whatsoever.”
Asked whether she would support Senator Patreus or Senator Lavigny’s bid for leadership, she replied that they both had “genuine claims to the throne.”
Speculation has not died down as a result. Pundits have been debating whether these seemingly straightforward answers are hiding a bigger agenda.
Kazien Vantris, chief editor of the Imperial Herald, commented in his editorial - “The first rule of vying for power? Deny everything. By not directly supporting anyone she’s clearly keeping her options open. Quite why that is remains to be seen. We’ll leave that to the forums to decide.”
Senator Kahina Tijani Loren, currently residing as a guest on Capital at the request of Chancellor Blaine, remains completely ambivalent to inquiries into her intentions. She has airily dismissed questions regarding her purpose or what was said to her at the reception to which she was summoned and continues to ignore requests from the press.
Now there appears to be another name in the frame. Cuthrick Delaney, ambassador to the Prism system, has had a long and varied career within the Empire, first coming to prominence during the events which ended the dictatorship of Dr. Walden on the Old World planet of Lave. His precise involvement in that event was unclear, and he seems to have lost none of his ability to stay close to those with power in the intervening time. He has been seen in conversation with Kahina on many occasions.
There is considerable conjecture as to what stance Kahina will take. Many have stated that her aggressive tendencies will align her to Senator Patreus. Others have pointed out her support for traditional Imperial slavery, and her distant family connection to the Duvals, indicates an allegiance with Senator Torval is more likely
It would appear that only Kahina, and perhaps Cuthrick Delaney, actually know.
In other news, the Senator’s ship was confirmed to have had some significant modifications made to it recently, including a state of the art fuel scoop and a custom built Gutamaya discovery scanner.
In the early hours of this morning, a security alert was received from the Imperial suite where Senator Kahina Tijani Loren has been residing.
The entry to the residence was found to be locked, and no response was received from inside. Security personnel were authorised to break in.
The interior of the suite was found to be pristine, with no evidence of habitation. In-room holofac consoles were found not to have been used throughout the duration of the Senator’s apparent occupation. A search has revealed no sign of the Senator’s whereabouts.
Ambassador Cuthrick Delaney made a brief statement to the press. “Senator Kahina has previously empowered me to represent the Prism system on her behalf. I will do my best to discharge that duty according to her instructions. Senator Kahina is a very private individual, and has not sought my, or any other, counsel in the last month. We do not know where she has gone. Naturally we are concerned about her safety and would urge anyone who knows of her whereabouts to contact the authorities immediately. Her disappearance is very disturbing indeed.”
Reaction across the Empire was muted, but many have speculated that something underhand has happened to the visiting Senator.
“Doesn’t matter what Delaney says,” said a commentator from the Imperial Citizen. “Prism belongs to Patreus now, Kahina’s just abandoned it and all the citizens she professed to care about. She’s a coward and an irrelevance.”
“Did she get too close to the fires burning in the Empire?” asked Kazien Vantris, chief editor of the Imperial Herald. “Or is she pursuing some other objective? She was always determined and bold. Wherever you’ve gone, Lady Kahina, farewell.”
Lady Kahina’s Imperial Courier, the ‘Seven Veils’, still at the Capitol spaceport, was impounded and examined. It was found to be completely stripped of all valuable equipment, with the modifications made at Avalon shipyards discovered to be carefully crafted fakes.
Lady Kahina’s Imperial tiara was found in the cockpit, along with a small medallion bearing an ancient symbol on one side and the word ‘Salomé’ on the other.
The symbol is believed to belong to an organisation some refer to as ‘The Dark Wheel’.
At the behest of Ambassador Cuthrick Delaney, administrator of the Prism system in the absence of Senator Loren, Admiral Lucius Lavigny has authorized the transfer of Commander Cornelius “Corrigendum” Gendymion to the Prism system. In a statement to the Imperial Herald, Ambassador Delaney summarized the reasons for the transfer:
“The transfer of Commander Corrigendum comes at a critical time for the Prism system. His experience of the region, and familiarity with the challenges facing it, make him the ideal candidate to head a new extension of the Prism system defence force, which has been dubbed ‘Loren’s Legion’ in honor of Senator Loren. He will report directly to Admiral Brice.”
"Commander Corrigendum arrived at Chione earlier this week, whereupon he began putting the task force through its paces. His enthusiasm has invigorated the pilots under his command, and Loren’s Legion will be ready in short order. Admiral Lavigny has my sincere gratitude.”
Word has reached this reporter over the past few hours of a massive fraud involving fake precious gems originating from the region of the Prism system. A security services spokesperson admitted that they had been caught unawares by the scale of the issue, and that thousands of fakes had already been sold:
"We will hunt down the perpetrators of these crimes, which have cost the system economy millions of credits."
Efforts are now underway to locate the source of these convincing fakes and put an end to their trade. The spokesperson promised that those dealing in these fake gems would be punished to the full extent of the law.
Utopian delegates returned today from the first symposium of the Pioneers Cooperative, a group dedicated to supporting expansion into uninhabited space. Also attending were representatives from Loren's Legion, Communism Interstellar, the Black Birds Squadron, Aisling's Angels, the Canonn, the Independent Pilots Consortium, Emperor's Grace, the Mercs of Mikunn, United German Commanders, EXO, the First Great Expedition, the Code, Adle's Armada, the Guardians of Harmony, CHIMERA, the Distant Worlds Admins and the Hutton Orbital Truckers.
"To live is to grow, and mankind must push ever outwards", said one attending Utopian explorer. "Humanity has come here today, unified, under a banner of progress, and Utopia is proud to add its support to this noble venture. Our commune in Takurua demonstrated that expansion beyond the core systems is possible, and the success of Obsidian Orbital in Maia shows that mankind has a shared desire to expand the frontiers of human space and scientific understanding."
"The Kumo Crew-backed insurrection in HIP 111880 came as no surprise", said Cornelius Gendymion, commanding officer of Loren's Legion, in an interview with the Prism Herald on Thursday morning. "Our counterinsurgency operatives are always monitoring the movements and activities of the Kumo Crew, and when we caught wind of them in HIP 111880 we immediately contacted the system authorities."
"We warned Alfonso Bellini, the CEO of HIP 111880 Transport Limited, of the impending danger early last week", Gendymion continued. "We have proven our value to Mr. Bellini in the past, and he did not hesitate to request our aid. Our strike teams have already mobilized."
"Undoubtedly, some will criticize our effort to aid our Federal neighbors. Some will accuse us of having ulterior motives. To them I say: Solidarity will be our salvation, discord will be our doom."
Nearly three months ago, approximately 1,000 pilots set a course for Ceeckia ZQ-L c24-0, informally designated 'Beagle Point,' on the far side of the Milky Way.
This week, Distant Worlds Expedition coordinators announced that some members of the fleet have reached their destination. A charismatic member of the expedition – a Commander by the name of Salomé – was among the first to arrive at Beagle Point.
A total of 23 pre-arranged waypoints have helped to organise the fleet and facilitate social interaction, including SRV races. Unfortunately, this coordination has not completely mitigated losses: of the 1,000 commanders who set out for Beagle Point, it is estimated that only 25% have survived the 81,500 light-year journey, and it's likely that the return journey will result in further losses.
From a vantage point more than 65,000 light years from Sol, a transmission has been received regarding the Distant Worlds Expedition. Sent by a Commander Salomé, the message congratulates Dr Kaii and Commander Erimus on their colossal achievement, and pays homage to the hundreds of other explorers who took part.
"The voyage has yielded a wealth of exploration data, and may well contain remarkable new discoveries about the galaxy in which we live. It has been a pleasure and privilege to be involved, and I wish all the explorers a safe voyage home."
Early analysis of the recovered data indicates that a number of new routes have been scouted, including pathways to Beagle Point, the Core, the Formidine Rift, the Norma Expanse and many other parts of the galaxy. These routes combine in a complex cobweb, paths through the void. Sceptics were quick to put these discoveries in context, however:
"Scouting a route is all very well, and we applaud the achievements of these adventurers," said Karl Devene, head of Astrocartography at Mars High. "But these explorers should not be under the impression that these areas can be considered even partially charted. There is much that remains to be done."
The construction of a Majestic-class Interdictor in the Mundjiga system requires generous quantities of tantalum, gallium and indium. Threats of piracy and violent protest have already reached the system.
To counter these threats, a collective of former security contractors known as the Praetorians have committed their forces to defending Mundjiga and the traders operating there. Loren's Legion, an extension of the Prism defence force, will operate jointly with the Praetorians, protecting traders sourcing tantalum from Prism.
Duke Alden Rowe, leader of the Praetorians, gave the following statement to the press:
"Loyal members of the Imperial Navy Auxiliary, we cannot permit interference with the construction of this critical asset. We must enforce Imperial law and the will of Admiral Patreus by protecting vessels delivering cargo to Sagan Port. We will be a shield for this new Interdictor until it is ready to be a shield for the Empire."
Economists in the Prism system have released financial reports indicating very strong market conditions. Construction of a new Imperial Interdictor in Mundjiga has increased the market price of the metal, bringing it close to levels seen during the tantalum rush of the late 3290s, when the current generation of frame shift drives was adopted en masse.
Tantalum plays a vital role in reactor and frame shift drive technology, and is a key component in capacitors, high melting-point alloys and specialist alloys used in amour-penetrating weapons. Prism was the source of significant political tension between the Empire and the Federation during the late 3290s and early 3300s over rich tantalum deposits on Chione.
Tantalum mining operations on Chione have yielded substantial earnings recently, and capital investments are fueling other segments of the Prism economy, improving the overall quality of life in the system. Business is indeed booming in this corner of the frontier.
Ambassador Cuthrick Delaney has granted an interview to the Prism Herald. During the interview, the ambassador issued a word of warning regarding the rising tension between the Empire and the Federation.
“Our Imperial leaders should consider that having Imperial and Federal warships in close proximity is inherently dangerous. Wars have been that way. Indeed, that’s precisely what happened to Chione just two years ago. Thankfully, careful negotiations ensured that the conflict remained isolated.”
“All it would take is a single mistake - a flashpoint - for things to spiral out of control. I would urge both Imperial and Federal citizens to petition their leaders to resolve this conflict.”[/b]
The Imperial Citizen has published a scathing two-part editorial on an individual by the name of Commander Salomé, alleging that she is in fact Lady Kahina Tijani Loren, the missing Imperial senator.
"We note with dismay that a certain Commander Salomé has resurfaced once again. Many will be unaware of her activities, obscured as they are by her carefully cultivated innocence and charm, so it falls to the Imperial Citizen to reveal the sordid truth. She is Lady Kahina Tijani Loren, the disgraced senator."
"Although Salomé enjoyed the comforts and privileges afforded to most high-born Imperial children, her parents had little use for a third daughter and shipped her off to boarding school at the first opportunity. This served only to foster Salomé's sense of rebelliousness and her disdain for her family."
"Despite her privileged upbringing, Salomé grew up to be petty, mean and bitter. But she was also shrewd and politically astute, successfully avoiding an arranged marriage by palming off her would-be husband onto one of her older sisters."
"Salomé hated her father, but despite her antipathy, she was clearly influenced by him. After all, this was the man who expelled colonists from the Chione moon in 3297 by bombing it – an act condemned as a war crime by the Federation."
"Loren's family was murdered in 3300 by a group of freedom fighters known as Reclamists, but she was somehow spirited safely away. She claims to have been kidnapped, abused and held to ransom, only to overcome her enemies and return the Prism system to Imperial control after a battle with the Federation. The truth is that she did nothing of the sort."
The Imperial Citizen has published its second editorial on Commander Salomé, who the Citizen alleges is Lady Kahina Tijani Loren, the missing Imperial senator.
"According to Lady Kahina's account, she escaped a hardened gang of freedom fighters and faced down a notorious pirate lord. Is it not more likely that she colluded with these terrorists to murder her family so she could become a senator? Is it not convenient that she slaughtered these terrorists before they could be questioned, and then did the same to her mentor? And with a sword, too."
"Don't forget that Kahina almost triggered a war between the Empire and the Federation. Thousands died in that battle – a battle she started. Heroine of the Prism system? Hardly. She was responsible for the largest loss of life that Imperial outpost ever saw, exceeding even her father's appalling legacy."
"Not content with acquiring her father's senatorial position via her so-called 'reclamation', Lady Kahina then gallivanted around the core worlds trying to gain support in a bid to become Emperor. She soon found, however, that her self-image was out of step with reality. But did she return to her supposedly beloved homeworld? Of course not. She disappeared for several months only to reappear, as if she were the patron saint of explorers, on the far side of the galaxy in the Distant Worlds Expedition."
"Along the way she engendered the support of misfits, miscreants, starry-eyed explorers and dissident organisations masquerading as legitimate factions. Why she seeks such support is not known."
"Have no doubt – this so-called 'lady' is no saint. Whatever she does is solely to further her own interests, manipulating those around her as she has always done. She is clearly deluded, but her powers of persuasion are formidable. Many have sworn loyalty to her, particularly those disaffected by the politics of the core worlds."
"Beautiful and charismatic she may be, but she is also a bloodthirsty, selfish and manipulative individual who will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. Do not trust a word she says."
Recent articles published by the Imperial Citizen may have inspired an act of violence in the Cemiess system over the weekend. Commander Nodus Cursorius of the Chapterhouse of Inquisition reported a transmission from Commander Salomé of the Children of Raxxla, indicating that her ship had been attacked by unknown forces.
A transcript of Commander Salomé's distress call follows:
"Heavy fire...mayday! Imperial markings! Traitors... Shields are down, we're taking damage...it's... I thought I sensed his arrogance! How dare... We're being boarded. I only have moments. Please get word to the Children of Raxxla, tell them I have new information. The Rift, Hawkin's Gap and the Conflux are connected with strange happenings in the Pleiades. They must find out before..."
At that point Commander Salomé's transmission was silenced. Despite a thorough search, no sign of her has yet been found.
The Imperial Citizen had suggested that Commander Salomé is in fact Senator Kahina Tijani Loren of the Prism system. The publication also implied that she had engineered the events that led to her family's death in order to position herself as heiress of the Loren family dynasty.
Sources close to the Imperial Senate have released a statement indicating that Lady Kahina Tijani Loren, erstwhile senator of the Prism system, has been charged in connection with the attempted assassination of Admiral Denton Patreus.
Prior to this development, Lady Kahina had not been heard from since mid 3301. Details of her recent activities are shrouded in mystery, although under the alias Commander Salomé she has been linked to various revolutionary organisations, including the Children of Raxxla, the Phoenix Group, the Dark Wheel and now Emperor's Dawn.
After Lady Kahina went missing in the Cemiess system last month, the Children of Raxxla attempted to destabilise the system's economy to force system authorities to reveal her whereabouts.
"Her intentions are clear," said a reporter for The Imperial Citizen. "She hates Patreus for his takeover of the Prism system – which I might point out was entirely legal – and harbours ridiculous delusions of becoming Emperor. She's been sowing seeds of discontent everywhere she goes. As we reported last month, she is dangerously unstable and an irresponsible warmonger. Now that she's been caught, she should be dealt with harshly. The same applies to the factions loyal to her."
Princess Aisling Duval also addressed the arrest, saying: "I was always suspicious about her. Now her true colours have been revealed. I hope she receives a just punishment for her atrocious crimes. I wouldn't be surprised to discover she was behind the instability of the past year. My thanks go to our loyal Imperial security services for their diligence."
Lady Kahina has reportedly been moved to the Achenar system to await trial.
Princess Aisling Duval has clashed with former Imperial senator Lady Kahina Loren in an impromptu debate organised by The Imperial Citizen. Unbeknownst to either Princess Duval or Lady Kahina, parts of the altercation were broadcast live.
Princess Duval was heard to say: "You really thought you could swan in here from your provincial little system and get away with murder? You even had designs on being Emperor. Have you any idea how ridiculous you look?"
"I'm not the one wearing a stupid wig," Loren retorted.
"You're finished," said Princess Duval. "Everyone knows you're guilty. You'll be stripped of your rank and title, and no fancy speech can save you!"
"At least I don't need someone to write my speeches for me," Loren replied. "Anyone with half a brain can see this is a set up. Ask yourself this – who has the most to gain from this ridiculous charade?"
"Nice try. You'll pay for what you've done – Patreus will see to that. I know you hate him!"
"Oh, I despise the man," said Loren, "but if I wanted him dead, he'd be dead."
Lady Kahina Loren's trial will take place in two weeks' time.
An anonymous source has indicated that the scandal surrounding former senator Kahina Tijani Loren has awoken latent animosity within the Imperial powerbase.
The source claims that recent events have brought the affairs of Admiral Denton Patreus, Princess Aisling Duval and even Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval into the spotlight, and that much intrigue and politicking is taking place behind closed doors.
Princess Duval, following an embarrassing story from The Imperial Citizen, said: "Isn't it interesting that this happens just as a crisis is developing on our borders? While the media is preoccupied with that psychopathic Loren woman, the real stories are being ignored!"
Neither Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval nor Admiral Denton Patreus deigned to comment on the matter.
Kahina Tijani Loren has been stripped of the rank of senator for delegating her responsibilities in respect of the Prism system to Ambassador Cuthrick Delaney in 3301.
An aide for Admiral Denton Patreus said: "Loren gave up her senatorial responsibilities, so it's unreasonable that she continue to be protected by the title. Frankly, she shouldn't be described as a 'lady', either, but we will let the courts make that determination."
This means Loren will now be tried based on the laws of her nominated home system, which is of course the Prism system. Loren has been moved from Achenar and is presumed to be en route to Prism, under guard.
While Prism remains under the supervision of Ambassador Cuthrick Delaney, it is heavily exploited by Admiral Patreus. Patreus's aide said: "Those without a proper appreciation of due process might believe there is a conflict of interest, given Admiral Patreus's influence in Prism, but we can ensure the galactic community that Imperial law will be followed to the letter."
Commentators have reacted with surprise and dismay to a speech from Admiral Denton Patreus at a military tattoo on Achenar, in which he spoke in strident tones about the London Treaty. The treaty, established in 3278, imposes limits on capital-ship construction in order to prevent possible arms races.
"This treaty was foisted on us by overzealous Federal lawyers," said Patreus. "Now it is used to limit our ability to defend ourselves. This I cannot accept."
"I am proud to announce that henceforth the Empire will build as many ships as it needs, treaty restrictions be damned!"
Federal representatives were quick to denounce Patreus's proposal, saying it would have severe repercussions. But stock markets in the core systems reacted favourably to the news, with reports indicating that the Empire had already secured several construction contracts.
Admiral Patreus will soon depart for the Prism system to oversee the trial of Kahina Loren.
The trial of Lady Kahina Tijani Loren has begun at the Prism Hall of Justice.
Earlier this week, several flotillas of heavily armed ships arrived in the Prism system. The vessels docked at the Hiram's Anchorage starport amid tight security enforced by Imperial forces and local organisation Loren's Legion, which controls the Prism system.
Much of Hiram's Anchorage has been off limits to civilians during the week because of fears that Loren's presence, and that of Admiral Denton Patreus, would lead to renewed instability. Loren's return to her home system is controversial in itself, as she has not been there since she ceded executive power to Ambassador Cuthrick Delaney.
Loren was briefly seen in conversation with Ambassador Delaney, who embraced Loren before she was moved to a secure holding area. Admiral Patreus arrived a few hours later. Media representatives have not been allowed to speak to either Loren or Patreus, and it is understood that the trial will be conducted behind closed doors.
The mood in Prism is sombre. Support for Loren is muted, with few willing to publically support her ahead of the trial. But it is clear there is little enthusiasm for Admiral Patreus, either.
Today, an announcement was made outside the Prism Hall of Justice confirming that Kahina Tijani Loren had been found guilty of the attempted assassination of Admiral Denton Patreus. The announcement was met with cries of dismay from a crowd of Loren's supporters, who had turned out to hear the verdict.
"Ms Loren has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Koontz Asylum in the Daibo system," said a court clerk.
A leaked recording from the press room showed Loren talking with two unidentified men. Their conversation ran as follows:
"And what do you want in return for your...favour?" one man asked.
"Patreus's head on a platter," responded Loren.
Having already been stripped of the title of 'senator', Loren's status as a Lady of the Empire was similarly revoked. She was taken to a secure holding facility after the verdict was announced.
Princess Aisling Duval spoke to The Imperial Citizen about the trial:
"The woman is clearly deranged. She tried to kill Patreus, but justice has been served. The galaxy is now a safer place."
Admiral Denton Patreus, emerging from the courtroom, smiled and said: "They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind."
Ambassador Cuthrick Delaney, administrator of the Prism system, spoke briefly to The Imperial Herald.
"We cannot deny the verdict, but we are dismayed by the outcome. We remain convinced that Kahina Loren is innocent. We will leave no stone unturned in our search for the truth."
Meanwhile, an anonymous source affiliated with the Imperial justice system said: "It's a de facto death sentence. No one returns from Koontz Asylum."
Eyewitness reports from the Eotienses system indicate that an attack has taken place on Admiral Denton Patreus' flagship, the INV Imperial Freedom. The Majestic-class Interdictor was heavily damaged in the altercation and was ignominiously forced to withdraw from the field of combat.
An organisation known as the Children of Raxxla has claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, the organisation said it had been '"backed into a corner" after diplomatic entreaties regarding Kahina Loren – whom it referred to as Salomé – had gone unanswered.
The attack appears to have been a response to the 'guilty' verdict passed on Loren last week, and based on the assumption that she was aboard the INV Imperial Freedom. Vessels bearing Children of Raxxla markings were witnessed intercepting escape pods ejected from the beleaguered Interdictor.
The Children of Raxxla spokesperson said the group "harboured no ill will towards Patreus", and that "the guilty parties continue to lurk in the shadows".
Imperial security forces have condemned the attack, saying:
"This group has shown its true colours. Kahina Loren was known for inciting violence, and these terrorists are clearly intent on continuing her legacy."
The damage to the INV Imperial Freedom represents a blow to Admiral Patreus' ambitions to strengthen the Imperial fleet, exposing these battleships' vulnerability to attacks from well-organised independent forces.
The Federal astrocartography department has issued a public request for exploration data. Mark Devene, head of the department, elaborated on the nature of the appeal:
"We are looking for data from three specific zones in order to verify certain hypotheses. We want high-quality information on system configurations, planet types, spectral classes and compositions."
"We are looking at the following coordinates: PLAA AEC IZ-N C20-1, PRU AESCS DL-W C15-37 and EAFOTS EU-R C4-1. Explorers might be more familiar with the colloquial names for these areas – Hawkin's Gap, the Conflux and the Formidine Rift. Pilots should travel to one of these locations and investigate out to a radius of 200 light years."
The Tau Ceti Crimson Legal Solutions has volunteered to coordinate the Federal operation. Meanwhile, mysterious organisation The Children of Raxxla has issued an identical request, claiming the data will be used to prove the innocence of the group's leader, Kahina Loren.
Both campaigns begin on the 17th of November 3302 and will run for two weeks.
A prisoner convoy has been interdicted and destroyed in the Daibo system while en route to Koontz Asylum. Wreckage found in Daibo has been positively identified as belonging to the Imperial Cutter 'Diadem' and the Imperial Clippers 'Cypripedium', 'Velum', 'Monile' and 'Vestimenta'.
"Completely wiped out," said one pilot, who was one of the first to respond to the distress call. "By the time I arrived there was nothing but floating debris. We even found wreckage from escape pods. Someone wanted to make sure there were absolutely no survivors. Even the black boxes were blasted."
It has been confirmed that the convoy was carrying various political dissidents, convicted murderers and terrorists. Among them was the infamous Kahina Loren, recently found guilty of the attempted assassination of Admiral Denton Patreus.
"Maybe someone wanted to give her a merciful death," said the chief editor of The Imperial Citizen. "Better that than what awaited her at Koontz Asylum, for sure."
Plans to hold a memorial service for Loren in the Prism system have already generated angry responses. Princess Aisling Duval was quoted as saying, "A service for her? She was a murderer and a convicted felon! Her name should be struck from the record and never spoken again."
Last month, the Federation launched an appeal for exploration data from a number of remote locations. A competitive appeal was simultaneously launched by a mysterious group known as the Children of Raxxla, which succeeded in completely derailing the Federal initiative. Karl Devene, head of Astrocartography at Mars High, was forced to resign as a result.
Federal exploration projects are currently on hold as a result of the failed initiative, and Devene's successor has not been announced. Meanwhile, the Children of Raxxla has yet to reveal any findings from the data it received, leading some to speculate that the organisation never intended to.
"I believe it was a cynical attempt to sabotage Federal research," said a spokesperson for Mars High Astrocartography. "It was never about exonerating Salomé – they just used her plight to gain the data at the expense of the Federation. Unfortunately, the galactic community proved itself easily manipulated."
Other commentators have concurred with the analysis. Jackson Trent, associate editor of The Imperial Citizen, said:
"I don't understand the allure of Raxxla. They attacked Patreus's flagship and have proved themselves to be criminals of the worst kind. Patreus dealt with Emperor's Dawn – perhaps it's time for him to deal with the Children of Raxxla."
Salomé, known in Imperial circles as Kahina Loren, was killed when the convoy transporting her to Koontz Asylum was interdicted and destroyed. She had been convicted of the attempted assassination of Denton Patreus.
Meanwhile, independent pilots returning from the expedition have reported a series of curious beacons in deep space, but few details have surfaced.
The Children of Raxxla, based in the HR 6421 system, have released an analysis of the exploration data recovered by the galactic community in November last year.
A spokesperson for the organisation said:
"There was a vast amount of data to sift through, but our analysis led to some notable discoveries in the Formidine Rift, the Conflux and Hawkin's Gap. There are indications that some kind of covert mission took place in these regions back in the 3270s. So far we have found shipwrecks, beacons and abandoned settlements dating from that time, and logs and records relating to this strange mission."
"It appears that a fleet was despatched, over 30 years ago, to install a series of beacons in the region. None of the ships returned to their point of origin. It seems that this mission was called 'the Dynasty Project'. The purpose of the mission isn't yet clear, but it was evidently a massive undertaking, particular given the technological limitations of the time – it would have taken a year to complete that journey 30 years ago."
The spokesperson was asked if the data supported the organisation's belief that Kahina Loren was innocent of the attempted assassination of Admiral Denton Patreus.
"Unfortunately there is nothing in the data that throws new light on Salomé's demise. But before she was arrested, she indicated that these three sectors were significant. We now believe that that is why she was killed."
Loren's Legion, an Imperial organisation based in the Prism system, has placed an open order for tantalum.
The organisation has a wide range of business interests, and regularly supplies commercial entities with raw materials and other commodities. On this occasion it has turned to the galactic community for help fulfilling its commitments.
A spokesperson for the organisation released a statement to the media.
"We have experienced a huge spike in demand, and our facility at Hiram's Anchorage is already running at full capacity, so to satisfy our clients we will need the help of the galactic community. Fortunately we are in a position to offer generous premiums to pilots who deliver tantalum to Hiram's Anchorage in the Prism system."
The campaign begins on the 2nd of March 3303 and will run for two weeks. If the final target is met earlier than planned, the campaign will end immediately.