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.
The sick Emperor Hengist Duval has managed to appear in the Senate, albeit in a travel chair, to issue a decree.
He decreed Harold, his son, not of sound mind. This gives some credence to the claim in the more scurrilous news feeds a year ago that Hengist once referred to his son in not very regal terms in private.
"The little idiot is utterly bonkers. He couldn't find his own bottom with both hands."
This was of course, denied. This decree, as commentators have been quick to point out, means there is no clear successor to the throne. Unusually the event was excluded from newscasts, but those present said he looked frail.
16 December 3300 was the day President Halsey declared the onionhead narcotic illegal in Federal systems.
The outrage amongst the Farmer's Cooperative may be tempered by the fact that her edict doesn't seem to have had much effect on Commanders' activity, quite the oppostite in fact, with Kappa Fornacis' finest produce being eagerly distributed to the black market throughout the galaxy, and especially within Federal systems.
We've heard a whisper that Madame President's dismay at this may lead her to start flexing her metaphorical muscles.
Meanwhile Senator Torval is looking to shore up her powerbase in the deadly game of Imperial succession that is being played out. Her wealth is built on slavery, and from the 26 million credits claimed by Commanders willing to offer Sorbago's slaves the 'opportunity' of a better class of slavery in the Empire via Mastopolos Mining Inc's links with the Senator it looks like she is gaining traction.
Senator Denton Patreus, meanwhile, is engaged in a more even fight. Ever the one to manipulate strife to his own ends whilst disguising his intentions with grandiose sentiments, Patreus has thrown his considerable resources behind the Jera Nationalists. The incumbent Jera Social Democrats are currently managing to hold their own in the battle for control in the system, with Commanders' support evenly split.
In a popular move, Senator Denton Patreus has announced the already low tax regime for all Imperial Citizens under his patronage will be lowered to zero. Before boarding his private yacht he said to reporters present:
"It is the duty of the successful to provide well for their loyal supporters. Our many successes abroad have brought us vast wealth. I take pride that those under my patronage get the best medical care, the best assistance if they fall on hard times, and because of their support in the past, the lowest taxes."
Patreus is said to earn vast sums in interest payments on the many loans he has made to foreign governments to buy Imperial weaponry, which he also supplies.
Aisling Duval, arguably second in line for the throne if her parents were married, spoke out against slavery on the chat show 'Celebrity Pets', particularly the rebellion in Sorbago.
"We should accept that in this 34th century, this is a barbaric practice for people of honour. We should free the slaves in Sorbago. And for that matter Ngun, Eta Horologii, Kuyu, and Cemiess right away. This will happen anyway when my father becomes Emperor."
There has been some discussion among commentators that Aisling now appears to be speaking for her father. Senator Torval said in an off-the-cuff remark while leaving an awards ceremony:
"Well I suppose her soak of a father can't speak for himself any more. At least she could read the names of a few systems she had been given on a note. It would have been better if she could have been told how to pronounce them!"
In a move that is sure to worry some independent governments, Senator Denton Patreus has announced his forces have been sent to aid the long-suffering rebels in the Jera system.
He answered questions on the steps of the Imperial Opera House on Conversion in the Achenar system.
"The left-leaning government in Jera has long been oppressing hard-working minorities. This is the fundamental problem with democracy - the bullying of the aspirational minority by the indolent majority. That bullying has to stop."
Rumours of the slave rebellion in the Sorbago system have been confirmed. In a speech to business leaders, pro-slavery Senator Zemina Torval denied sending two of her personal Majestic Class Interdictors, the Boudica and the Elizabeth, to put down the revolt, but said:
"They have gone to Sorbago to help the local mining corporation keep the peace and to keep out the external forces that are trying to create a conflict."
Reports suggested the slaves are not being treated according to Imperial Law.
Torval has announced generous payments to those that help her, and has criticised the barbaric treatment of unregulated slaves outside the Empire in the past.
"I will personally sponsor any unregulated slaves brought to Synteini, Shinigami, Quile, LTT 9810, Tau-2 Gruis A, Naunei, and Tepertsi to be given full Imperial Rights and treated as Imperial Slaves."
The Imperial Palace has issued a statement saying that while the Emperor is unwell, it is not as serious as many commentators are suggesting. Nevertheless speculation is rife. The Chancellor, Senator Anders Blaine, has tried to quell the speculation.
"The great Emperor Hengist has not involved himself in the detail of politics for a long time. It is a terrible loss for us all that he is unwell, but even if the worst does come and our beloved Emperor passes away, we will have a coronation, we will have a spectacular ceremony and some great parties, but nothing will really change. The Senate and I will continue to run the Empire."
It is said that actions speak louder than words, and it has been noted that many shipyards throughout Imperial space appear to be concentrating on bringing numerous Imperial Interdictors run by key Senators to battle readiness with full squadrons of fighters. This is highlighted by the reduced number of new ships they are completing on the open market.
All five of the slaver Senator Torval's 'enforcers' – giant battle-hardened Interdictors – have left port, and her luxuriously equipped Majestic Class yacht "Xanadu", which still packs a punch, is ready to travel at a moment's notice. Senator Patreus's fleet is also mobilised, though this is not so unusual, but we expect some fireworks in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile in the Federation, another vote in Congress has gone against besieged President Halsey. She has been forced to remove her block on the Navy's latest budget. Shadow President Hudson declared this a major victory.
"Finally our once great Navy can operate again. Belatedly our heroes can return to full pay, and we can start to bring our fleet out of mothballs. Our Frontier States can once again see the justification for their taxes, and the powerful support we can bring to them."
We couldn't get a comment from the Alliance leadership, but we did manage to speak to a junior aide who wanted to remain unnamed.
"It's depressing they're at it again. I thought Halsey was better than that. Doubtless millions will die, and there's not much the Alliance can do except broker the odd meaningless set of peace talks after they've had at each other."