It has been several weeks since conflict was reported between the Empire and the Federation, following months of hostility between the two superpowers. The last incident connected to the Empire-Federation rift was a clash between the Pleiades Resource Enterprise and the Ant Hill Mob in November. Since then, there have been no reports of conflict.
But intelligence recovered from the Parun system indicates that Laksmii Jet Power Industries, an Empire-aligned organisation, has devised a plot to smuggle quantities of personal weapons, explosives and reactive armour into Underwood Port. It is understood that Imperial agents based in the system will use these items to conduct guerrilla attacks against the Independents of Parun, the system's controlling faction.
Having received word of this plot, the Independents of Parun has placed bounties on all Laksmii Jet Power Industries ships operating in Parun in the hope of thwarting the operation. Both factions have appealed to the galactic community for support, promising to reward pilots who support their campaigns.
The rival operations begin on the 12th of January 3303 and will run for one week. If either organisation achieves its aims earlier than planned, the operations will end immediately.
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.