According to the Galactic Finance Times, analysis of the largest corporations in the Federation and the Empire reveals evidence of a significant economic downturn in the coming years.
"We're seeing poor revenue forecasts for a wide range of corporations, including big names like Sirius, Gutamaya and Core Dynamics," said a correspondent for the Galactic Finance Times. "They should be concentrating on marketing to leverage new product ranges, but instead they're diverting resources into intensive research and development. They're ignoring the traditional sales cycle, and we don't know why. It's perplexing."
Shareholders have seen poor returns on their investments in recent months, with stock prices dropping across multiple sectors, although this has given others a chance to pick up stock at bargain prices. Several of the pertinent corporations were contacted by the Galactic Finance Times, but none deigned to respond.
Despite the GFT's report, some commentators blame the downturn on the London Treaty, which was signed by the galaxy's three major powers in 3278 following the introduction of the frame shift drive. The treaty enforces strict tonnage limitations for capital ships, and was aimed at preventing an arms race, but in recent years it has come to be perceived as a barrier to economic development.
One option for investors looking for a risky but possibly lucrative venture is a start-up called MetaDrive Inc., a small company based in the Chi Orionis system specialising in hyperdrive research. The company is reported to be seeking investment.
"We were escorting a cargo ship to Watson Settlement. As we approached, we were intercepted by a pair of Vultures. They asked us to identify ourselves, but I don't think they were even listening – they just opened fire. The cargo ship took a hit, and then my wingmate bought it. I barely made it out alive."
This testimony comes from the Neits system, which has become the site of intense conflict in the past 24 hours. Authorities in the system have confirmed that a Federal organisation known as Neits Jet Life Ltd has deployed ships throughout the system, and is attacking other vessels at the slightest provocation. Meanwhile, the GR 316 Silver Universal Group, an Imperial organisation, has despatched fighters to counter the Federal offensive.
Neits has long been a contentious territory due to its position between Imperial and Federal space. The system has always tried to maintain its independence, resisting both Federal and Imperial overtures, but many suspected it was only a matter of time before one of the superpowers made a grab for power.
Neither the Federation nor the Empire has made an official statement on the matter, with both Federal President Zachary Hudson and Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval remaining silent. But one inhabitant of the system was happy to provide an opinion on the situation:
"It's no secret that tensions have been rising between the Feds and the Empire recently, so I guess conflict was bound to break out sooner or later. Trouble is, when the superpowers start throwing punches, there tends to be a lot of collateral damage. By the time they're done fighting, there might not be much of Neits left."
Both Neits Jet Life Ltd and the GR 316 Silver Universal Group have promised to reward pilots who support their campaigns. The two factions have set out week-long operations to take control of the system, which will begin on the 19th of May 3302.
Don Antonaci, leader of the pirate organisation Wolf 359, has called on the galaxy's pirates to assemble for a faceoff against the Hutton Orbital Truckers and their allies. The pirate has proposed an 'anything goes' battle royale in the Wyrd system.
Minelayers, thermal weapons, torpedo boats, long-range sniper ships – Antonaci is asking participants to bring their most devastating equipment to the ice rings, and to destroy any truckers they encounter. The truckers, meanwhile, have promised to send their finest to oppose Antonaci.
The two parties have agreed that the pirates will fly Fer-De-Lances, Cobras, Vipers and Eagles, while the truckers will pilot Federal Assault Ships, Gunships, Dropships and Vultures. Pilots on both sides have been authorised to target anyone who piloting a larger vessel. Camera crews, which will be flying yellow haulers, are considered off limits.
Antonaci released the following statement:
"Despite my best efforts, these filthy truckers continue to trawl through space. We want all pilots friendly to the Don to help us teach these truckers a lesson. Bring your finest weapons, modules and upgrades, and show your support."
The truckers' only response to Antonaci's challenge was: "Bring it on!"
The campaign begins on the 19th of May 3302 and will run for one week. Pilots who support the operation will be generously reimbursed.
Imperial investigator Cornelius Gendymion has released a statement to the Prism Herald addressing accusations that Imperial agents were responsible for the destruction of Starship One.
"It seems Federal Times reporter Elaine Boyd's investigations are being ignored by her countrymen. You may recall that she highlighted the suspicious deaths of key individuals involved in both the Antares and Starship One investigations before her alleged suicide. Her data detailed an off-the-books investigation into the Antares by Vice-President Nigel Smeaton, and also alleged that he was murdered."
"Congressman George Fallside's apparent foreknowledge of Smeaton's death was waved away, but I suspect Jacob Harris might have better luck finding Starship One's saboteurs if he searched within the Federation – perhaps starting with folks who have ties to Core Dynamics."
Commander Corrigendum | Loren's Legion
Various media outlets throughout inhabited space received an anonymous communiqué this morning. "The galactic community is in peril," the message began. "They just don't know it yet."
The transmission asserts a connection between Core Dynamics, the destruction of the Antares and Starship One, the Emperor's Dawn insurgency, and setbacks in Unknown Artefact research. It also claims that the deaths of Federal Vice-President Nigel Smeaton, Sean Richards, Arnold Lowe, Susan Monroe, Elaine Boyd, Emperor Hengist Duval and the disappearances of former Federal president Jasmina Halsey and Professor Ishmael Palin are similarly connected.
The message concluded: "Many of those who have tried to connect these seemingly disparate events have been silenced, along with their sources. That is why I have chosen to remain anonymous. So far, only pawns have been revealed in this shadowy game. We must discover the king."
Neither the Federation nor the Empire has chosen to comment on the transmission.
Following the recent retirement of the last Saud Kruger Narwhal from the presidential fleet, critics of the Hudson administration have commented on the decision to make use of two Core Dynamics Farragut-class battle cruisers as presidential transport vessels.
In an interview with the Federal Times, Congresswoman Kristine Lasky said: "These aren't industry-standard ships that can be purchased from the market. These are mainline warships – the largest in the Federal Navy's inventory. That the president intends to make use of not one but two of these ships should seriously concern taxpayers."
"Is it necessary for the president to deploy a battle group every time he visits a foreign dignitary? What message does that send to other heads of state? It looks less like a matter of security and more like a show of force!"
Congresswoman Lasky announced that she will call upon the Federal Accountability Office to investigate the acquisition and deployment cost to the taxpayer, and put forward a measure to limit the president's use of the ships to a handful of occasions per fiscal year.
Gutamaya Shipyards' latest vessel, the Imperial Eagle, is now available for purchase for any pilot holding the appropriate rank in the Imperial Navy, and positive consumer feedback is already flooding in.
Commander Corrigendum, operating in the Prism system, said: "The Imperial Eagle is a blast to fly. It handles beautifully and has looks to match. I was able to stick on the tail of an Imperial Courier during combat exercises. It's a great addition to the Gutamaya portfolio." Commander Stateira 'Starcloak' Eleshenar added: "I love my Eagle, so I was curious to see if Gutamaya could improve on Core Dynamics' classic design. Now I've taken it out a few times, I'm happy to say it retains all the sublime responsiveness of the Eagle, and packs a harder punch in combat."
When asked about the secret of Gutamaya Shipyards' success, lead engineer Ines Allende responded: "Elegance in simplicity. We kept the core design that made the Eagle Mk II great and simply tinkered with a few key elements."
Commander Stateira "Starcloak" Eleshenar
Jameson Memorial Review | Interstellar Press
After months of research, scientists working for the Canonn Interstellar Research Group observed a change in the transmissions emanating from the so-called 'unknown artefacts', also known as 'anomalous extraterrestrial objects' (or AEOs). Now the organisation believes it has decoded at least part of these strange transmissions. Startlingly, the messages appear to contain schematic diagrams of the ships being used to study the objects.
The breakthrough came when Commander Mike Juliett Kilo was inspired to channel a pre-recorded AEO signal into an antique scanner display system he happened to be transporting. "I was prepared to see an alien face or Thargoid warship," he said. "I certainly didn't expect to see a Vulture, especially as I was flying one at the time! It sent shivers down my spine."
As the number of AEOs encountered in the Aries Dark region increases, the debate over the objects continues.
On the 5th of January 3301, an explorer by the name of Commander Kommodore set off to visit Sagittarius A* in his Eagle-class starship – the first known attempt to reach the core in such a vessel.
Nothing more was heard from this intrepid explorer until this week, some ten months later, when his trusty Eagle finally returned to a friendly starport. The Commander was said to have a made a rough landing due to the time that had elapsed since he last experienced docking procedures.
During his ten-month mission, believed to be one of the longest on record, the explorer catalogued information on almost 3,900 star systems, and was awarded a staggering 123 million credits from Universal Cartographics for the data he amassed.
Core Dynamics, manufacturers of the Eagle Mk II, has expressed an interest in having Commander Kommodore's ship permanently berthed for posterity, and to show just how durable this little ship is.
New Combat Fighter from Gutamaya Shipyards
One of the defining characteristics of the Eagle Mk II is its peerless manoeuvrability, so when it was announced that the successor to the popular fighter would be less manoeuvrable than the ship it was replacing, eyebrows were raised. It seems, however, that there was little cause for concern, as while the new Eagle doesn’t quite rival its predecessor in terms of agility, it outclasses it in virtually all other respects.
Not only is the new Eagle faster than its predecessor, with a top speed of 300 and a boost speed of 400, it is also has a superior combat profile, boasting advanced armour and shields, and with the small hardpoint of the Mk II replaced with a medium hardpoint. These new features are supported by an improved power plant, although these enhancements do of course mean extra weight, resulting in a base jump range of 10 LY.
The other major change introduced with the new Eagle is that it has been manufactured by Gutamaya Shipyards rather than Core Dynamics, who produced the Eagle Mk II. The result, as one might expect, is a sleeker, more elegant vessel, albeit one that has retained the menacing profile of the earlier model. Additionally, the vessel has been produced specifically for the Imperial Navy, meaning that pilots will need to hold a rank of Outsider or above in the Imperial Navy to fly it.
The Imperial Eagle is expected to retail at 110,825 CR.