Christmas celebrations and official public holidays have begun throughout Federal, Alliance and some independent systems.
In ancient times the date once marked the shortest day on Earth and developed into a key date for various ancient religions still observed by some. The now traditional Christmas celebration of commercial excess, parties and present-giving is in full swing.
In Imperial systems the focus of the present-giving celebrations is the New Year in the standard calendar, and of course Empire Day, the day after.
Senator Denton Patreus refused to comment today when questioned regarding the apparent failure of the rebellion in the Jera system despite his support.
Reports from the system have indicated that the local security forces with the support of hired independent pilots experienced little difficulty in suppressing the attacks by the rebel forces. One of the pilots commented:
“I’ve never had a job this easy. It’s like the rebels can’t even be bothered to fight. It’s the easiest money I’ve ever made!”
A source close to the senator revealed that more forces may be sent to the system.
Senator Patreus held talks on his Majestic class Interdictor the "Imperial Freedom" last night.
The talks in the palatial Red Room on his ship were an impressive affair, but they quickly broke down early this morning, GMT, and Governor Malachai flew back to Durius without any comment to the press.
After the talks Senator Patreus gave an interview with journalists that had been invited on board for the talks.
"I am very disappointed that Mr. Malachai has not taken this issue seriously. Honour and honesty are vital attributes in our modern society, and here we have seen neither. It is with a heavy heart I have decided to take action to recover the debt from Durius. I have ships already in the Durius system, and more will be deployed as required."
Panic has spread through the tiny population of this feudal backwater, as the system moves to a war footing.
Rumours are spreading that the Emperor's illness has taken a turn for the worse. Speeders carrying medical experts have been seen entering the palace, and inadvertently last night an Imperial aide confirmed that one wing of the Imperial Palace has been turned into a hospital.
Critics of the Emperor have said that he should have taken genetic therapies long ago. With them he would have lived another fifty years, but the Emperor has always believed in clean living and avoided medications, drugs and narcotics. Those same critics also blamed him for his rebellious son's descent into debauchery during his early years as a response to his father's "puritanism" as Harold called it at the time. Others have pointed out that Harold would have rebelled whatever, and some say this rebellious nature explains Harold's stance on slavery.
Senator Denton Patreus announced today in a press release that the government of the impoverished Durius system has defaulted on the loan he provided in 3294. The Senator has given them 24 hours to make the overdue payment or action would be taken.
A haggard Governor Xavier Malachai, leader of "Durius Dominion" in Durius said to anxious reporters:
"The interest on this debt is crippling us. It is not as if the money helped the people of Durius. It went into military hardware, bought at full price from Patreus, all those years ago. We've offered to return the warships - we cannot afford to crew them anyway, but Patreus is not interested. We cannot afford the payment. We can't sell them, so what can we do?"
A palace spokesman today announced on behalf of his grace Emperor Hengist Duval, that he is to marry Florence Lavigny, a sweetheart from his younger years.
Under Imperial Law a marriage must be announced 30 days beforehand. Commentators have pointed out the Emperor could decree it to happen sooner, though he would have to appear in the Senate to do so.
With his son declared unfit the marriage would make Arissa Lavigny, his illegitimate daughter with Florence, next in line for the throne. Under Imperial Law the marriage cannot happen for 30 days to allow people to lodge their objections.
Arissa Lavigny will become Princess Arissa as soon as they marry, and of the announcement she has said:
"This is one of the happiest days of my life. I will of course change my name to Duval, so the honourable Duval line will continue in both blood and name."
Speaking to press in the jungle retreat on her yacht 'Xanadu' this morning, when asked about the comments Aisling Duval made on the chat show 'Celebrity Pets' Zemina Torval stated:
"That illegitimate child Aisling Duval speaks out against slavery, but she knows nothing of it. Look at our streets. We have no beggars. No graffiti. No one goes hungry. Our streets are safe.
Look at the Federation. The girl's never been of course. People die of starvation despite their crippling taxes. Is that what she wants, because it seems popular? Go to the Federation then!
She speaks for her father because he can barely talk and is only lucid for a few moments at a time. It's not as if her father will ever ascend to the throne. Everyone knows he wrecked his brain many years ago."
We couldn't reach Aisling Duval for comment.
At the annual Feast of the 100, a banquet for key business leaders on Capitol in Achenar, one of the after dinner speakers, Senator Denton Patreus declared the importance of the Imperial succession.
"We have a truly great Empire. Our grace Emperor Hengist is sadly not well, and I wish him a speedy recovery. Nevertheless, we do need to plan should the worst happen. The choice of our next Emperor is a vital one. The succession should not be about family bloodlines, but about who would be best for the future Empire. For past generations, and for Hengist himself, he was groomed for power for decades by his great father, and this has worked well for over a thousand years. It was not just about blood, it was about learning from his father. This time there is no such successor, so things need to change."
Arissa Lavigny, the outspoken courtier and the daughter of historic socialite Prince Aristide Lavigny (famously eaten by his own pet Linglang when Arissa was very young) has declared that the Prince was not her father.
She claimed that she is in fact the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Hengist. She spent many of her early years around the Imperial Court. Her father and mother were close friends of the Emperor, and perhaps now we know why. Her mother is still seen in court from time to time.
The information was conveyed in a press release and our requests for an interview with Arissa have so far been declined.
This would put her claim to the throne ahead of Aisling Duval's, but her parents being unmarried still means her claim is not solid. Palace officials could not be drawn to comment, but the fact that the Palace has not issued a denial is significant.
Reports are coming in that the slaves in Sorbago have taken control of many of the mines on Sorbago A1 and have massacred those in control. We have no reporters on the scene so cannot verify these stories.
A spokeswoman for Mastopolos Mining Incorporated, which runs the mines and much of the system, has issued the following statement:
"Our security forces have intercepted ships from outside the system bringing guns to the rebels. This is destabilising our workforce, and has got to stop."
Senator Torval, a major shareholder in Mastopolos, has sent some of her private warships to the system. She has also further increased aid for those assisting her in fighting off "these external rabble-rousers". In the meantime, the price of ore has risen in the area.