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by The Taking A Break from NS of Earth Orbit. . 35 reads.

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Vol. 39, Issue No. 4 (11/23/70)

BREAKING: VIOLETIST ATTACKS TAKING PLACE ACROSS FEDERATION, LUNA - STATE OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY DECLARED

Starting early this morning, agents belonging to a Violetist extremist organization - most likely VITO - have been committing a variety of terrorist attacks across Federal space and settled Luna territory. Although authorities have successfully thwarted several of the more dangerous plots, including attempted sabotage of several Orbis station reactors, many have been executed successfully. VITO, or whoever is responsible for orchestrating these attacks, is currently jamming orbital tightbeam communications through unknown means, severely limiting bandwidth. FNS has therefore not been able to confirm every reported attack. A current list of verified attacks is as follows.

  • Several bombings throughout Armstrong City on Luna, targeted at public gathering areas, Collins Spaceport, and the Aldrin Space Elevator. All Lunar surface-orbit traffic is currently suspended, and Aldrin Elevator has reported dangerous tether instabilities. The Hermes II, which was docked with the Elevator's orbital section, was able to push off and burn into a higher orbit without damage. An estimated 2,500 people have been injured, with 100 confirmed dead or lethally wounded.

  • Sabotage of Orbis Alpha-1's life support systems via introduction of a gaseous psychoactive agent into the station's primary ventilation center. No known fatalities, but the entire Federal government is likely incapacitated. Injuries from drug-addled citizens wandering into dangerous situations are likely. We are currently in contact with several unaffected groups aboard the station who managed to reach an air shelter or an emergency suit locker before becoming incapacitated, and will update this entry if we learn of any additional information.

  • Reactor sabotage - possibly remotely done - aboard dozens of freighters registered to the Federation, Luna, the US, China, and the JKU. Emergency debris drones have been launched. 174 freighter crewmembers were killed.

  • Dozens of shootings across multiple Federal stations. Fatalities were minimized thanks to citizens carrying concealed firearms, but at least five people were killed.

  • The maneuvering systems of several Orbis and Coriolis stations have been hijacked and used to stop their spin, placing the interior in microgravity conditions. There have been numerous injuries due to the deceleration involved, but no fatalities. Fortunately, there is no ongoing danger, but station authorities have been locked out from restarting the spin, and station systems not designed for microgravity will start to fail and threaten the lives of everyone aboard if gravity is not restored.

  • Dozens of orbital shrapnel missiles have been detonated in Layer 1, creating a debris hazard for many stations. All large habitat stations have sufficient defensive capabilities to prevent damage, but smaller installations may be at risk while debris drones work on clearing the shrapnel.

FNS also has received unconfirmed reports that an in-decommissioning Federal weapons platform has been boarded and subjugated by extremist forces. In the event these reports are true, it is highly improbable that the boarding parties will be able to bypass the biometric locks on the weapons systems, but not impossible.

We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available; in the meantime, stay safe.

Update 1 below.

  • Additional bombings in Armstrong City have resulted in the decompression of several quarters. Fatalities were minimal, but over half of the city is now uninhabitable. The Lunar Emergency Management Agency (LEMA) has declared a mandatory evacuation to orbit for Armstrong and several other cities. LEMA has stated they are preparing to apply for temporary refuge in the Federation if the damage to Armstrong's pressure domes is more serious than anticipated.

  • Orbis Alpha-1's sabotaged life support filters have been repaired. The psychoactive agent in the station's atmosphere is already being broken down, but emergency technicians estimate it will be at least half a day before the concentration drops to a safe level.

  • All Earth surface - orbit traffic has been suspended after a pan-station vote. All ships attempting to ascend from or descend to Earth will be intercepted and redirected by the Federal Navy. Ships without a transponder will be warned, and destroyed if a plausible response is not received.

Update 2 below.

  • 1525 hours - FNS has just received confirmation of Federal weapons platform hijacking. Station scopes and remote monitoring indicate that the extremist forces aboard have ejected the decommissioning crew aboard and are currently bringing the weapon reactors back online. Navy ships are en route, but if the reactors are brought online within the expected timeframe, even fast-burn missiles will be too far to prevent weapon launches. FNS advises that all station residents prepare for evacuation.

  • 1535 hours - The FNV Michael Xi and the FNV Adam Smith have launched fast-burn nuclear missiles. Estimated time to impact is five minutes.

  • 1537 hours - Confirmed launch of godrods from the hijacked weapons platform. Kinetic analysis estimates a set yield of 25 kilotons, and course extrapolation indicates the targeting of several Earthside cities, including New York, Seoul, and Moscow. No Federation stations have been targeted.

  • 1538 hours - With forewarning and target data, United States and JKU defense systems were able to neutralize their inbound rods. The Moscow rod impacted several dozen kilometers short of the city, in the Russian wilderness.

  • 1540 hours - Hijacked platform neutralized by Navy missiles. All other platforms are reporting secure. Navy vessels standing down.

Update 3 below.

  • Orbis Alpha-1 has been cleared of the atmospheric psychoactive agent. The Federal government is no longer incapacitated, and is currently in the process of ensuring that no further danger is presented to the Federation or its citizens.

  • The Federation government has accepted LEMA's refuge application and is currently seeking volunteers to house displaced Lunar citizens while Armstrong City undergoes repairs. Estimated time of residency is one week - if you are able, please apply at https://dns.federation.gov/refugevolunteering.

  • Stations with hijacked maneuvering systems have been repaired and gravity has been restored.

  • The source of tightbeam jamming has been identified - several clouds of small, reflective particles were placed around relays in order to mangle incoming and outbound tightbeams. These clouds have been cleared and full bandwidth has been restored.

Final update: Federal Homespace Security has announced that there are no remaining credible threats to Federation security.


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Vol. 39, Issue No. 3 (11/22/70)

ZEUS V DRIVE FAILURE LINKED TO VIOLETIST EXTREMISM

Inspection of the failed drive and interrogations of the Violetists flying the "home-made" bomb ship have revealed that the failure was deliberate sabotage rather than chance or poor design. We contacted Hermes II Engineer Michael Paz for further details, and he walked us through the mechanisms.

"It's quite ingenious, really. They must've had an agent at the shipyard in order to do this." He motioned to a window that had appeared in the call. "They went through and reversed the current on the acceleration chamber mags. Now, this reverses the polarity of the magnetic field; rather than pushing the plasma down and out, the modified field just regurgitates most of the plasma back into the reactor core, causing an emergency shutdown. We DID also find evidence of tampering in the failsafe systems, but the saboteur only attacked the main panel and forgot about the backups. If he had gotten all the backups, I'd be a cold, expansive cloud of gas right now thanks to the reactor going critical."

This sabotage has been linked to Violetist extremism after the Violetists flying a bombship were intercepted and interrogated by the FNS Michael Xi yesterday. Although the two men refused to disclose any information, the woman (who later identified herself as Violeta Naisuke) revealed that she was part of a small extremist group planning to attack the Federation, as they had commited the sin of "conquering what no man should conquer," i.e. space. She also stated that the Zeus V drive was sabotaged by a member of her group, although she did not know the identity of the saboteur; she also knew that there were "at least several other various attacks" planned on the Federation, but she had "purposefully been kept in the dark" about them.

Federal Homespace Security has been set to high alert; all sensitive station infrastructure has been evacuated, locked down, and set to autonomous mode. Additionally, the Executive has considered enforcing a temporary curfew. FNS will continue to provide updates as the situation unfolds; in the meantime, stay safe.

MAXTOPIA DEMANDS BETTER TRADE DEALS WITH FEDERATION, LUNA

In an unexpected turn of events, the President of Maxtopia (Schmax Barry) has demanded significant revisions to his exisiting trade deals with the Federation and Luna. Rather than the standard Federation deal accepted by most Earth nations, which offers discounted raw material imports in exchange for commensurately discounted product exports, Schmax is seeking to increase the discount on material imports while leaving product exports unchanged - a decidedly undesireable change in the eyes of the Federal government and mining corporations.

"This is preposterous!" said Edward Umlauf, the head of the Federal International Trade Agency, in a public video message to Schmax. (The FITA is mainly responsible for the creation and upholding of trade deals.) "Maxtopia's President thinks he can just waltz into my inbox and start demanding what amounts to free stuff! He's not getting a single percent off, let alone twenty-five!"

Schmax is also unclear on why Maxtopia has developed a sudden need for excess materials. Regardless of his intentions, he is unlikely to ever recieve the requested alterations to his deals with the Federation and Luna.

SENATE DEBATING POSSIBILITY OF SUBCUTANEOUS ID CHIPS

Despite the current Violetist threat, the Federal Senate convened today to continue a heated debate; should Federal citizens be issued under-the-skin identification chips? Some are supporting the proposal, citing the convenience and insurance it could afford citizens; most agree that the chip should be optional, however. Others are opposing the idea, with objections on the grounds of privacy and potential health issues.

Maria Gonzalez, the representative for Coriolis Gamma-5, said that "ID chips would greatly streamline many processes; need to board the autoshuttle you reserved? No need to fumble about with a credstick; just slap your hand on the sensor and off you go. I understand that people have raised privacy concerns involving the necessary public and private infrastructure needed to support the chips, but let's be honest - both the government and corporations have data on you. For example, we maintain the National Passport Database here on Alpha-1. An ID chip isn't going to change that data; it's just going to make it easier to access."

An opposing Senator, Veer Lang, disputed these claims, saying that "government and corporate storage of that information is all very well and good, but the chips would make it too easy to access. What happens when someone walks through a crowd with a cracked scanner and brushes it up against people's hands as they go by? Why, they could have your credstick number, your National ID... megabytes of confidential information! You can blather on all you want about encryption, but people will find a way around that. They always have; remember that cyberattack on Coriolis Alpha-2 back in 2150? Void Corp. claimed that the things were practically uncrackable, and some teenage Blackacrean just traipses right in through a loophole!"

Depending on the outcome of the debate, ID chip legislation is expected to go to Senatorial vote before being presented to the Executive for signing. However, the Tribune has expressed an equally divided stance on the issue, which could mean a Tribunal veto on the legislation.


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Vol. 39, Issue No. 2 (11/21/70)

ZEUS V DEPARTURE DELAYED DUE TO DRIVE ISSUES

Armstrong City - The launch of the much-anticipated Zeus V mission has been delayed due to issues with the prototype hydrogen drive of Hermes II. In an official statement from Mycroft Paz, the mission's onboard engineer: "When we tried to fire up the drive, we got a few seconds of thrust, then the reactor's magnetic bottle collapsed. My preliminary investigations suggest that whichever idiot designed this drive placed the acceleration chamber too close to the reactor, causing the magnetic fields to overlap, interfere with each other, and inevitably collapse. So, right now, we're stuck with a massive interplanetary ship that likely isn't going anywhere without the installation of a brand-new drive... which could take months!"

A representative of Pulse Propulsion, the manufacturer of the Hermes II drive, stated earlier today that "the failure of the Hermes drive was not due to any fault of Pulse Propulsion. We stand by the design of our expert engineers, and furthermore, we assert that the drive failure was due to pure chance."

The Hermes has been towed back to dock at the Aldrin Space Elevator, and its drive is currently undergoing official inspection. Authorities state that the results should be available by tomorrow afternoon.

EUROPEAN SPACEPORT "IN THE WORKS," SAYS EXECUTIVE

Orbis Alpha-1 - In an official announcement released late yesterday night, Executive Haywood mentioned that a Federation-owned European spaceport is currently in the land negotiation stage, and that the current list of potential partners includes Spain, France, and Cantelo. He also stated that preliminary architectural plans for the main port, pads, and ancillary structures have been created, and should go public "soon."

The Federation has been lacking space infrastructure in Europe since its inception; those living in the region who wished to travel to orbit have had to travel a significant distance to reach the Kenya Space Center. The lack of a European spaceport also makes direct trade nigh-impossible - shipments of raw metals from the Federation have historically been bought by middlemen in the Americas and Asia before being shipped to European markets. A dedicated spaceport would make trading directly with these markets not only easy, but profitable.

Executive Haywood also established a tentative schedule; construction will, ideally, begin in 2172, and conclude by 2178.

"HOME-MADE" VIOLETIST BOMB SHIP INTERCEPTED

An transponder-less hydrogen drive signature was detected ascending from Ecuador early this morning. Course extrapolation placed it on a rough intercept with Orbis Alpha-1, and the craft was promptly pursued and detained by the FNS Michael Xi. Capture crew noted that the ship looked like it had been assembled "from junkyard parts," including the hydrogen drive (which was leaking dangerous amounts of plasma). Notably, the entire contraption was painted a bright purple-violet.

The craft was brought into the docking bay of the Xi, where the hull was cut open due to the lack of an airlock. Inside, two men and one woman in traditional Violetist garb were strapped into scavenged lawn chairs, presumably rendered unconscious by the acceleration of their ascent. (An engineer aboard the Xi estimated that the homemade drive would have pulled upwards of 10 gees, with no throttle control.) The trio was promptly taken to the medbay and admitted to care for two cases of broken ribs and one stroke.

However, further inspection of the craft revealed a live fusion warhead tucked into a compartment in the nose, wired to detonate at the press of a button from inside the cabin. Strategists aboard the Xi assumed that the intent of the craft was to destroy or severely damage Orbis Alpha-1, the heart of the Federation's government. The three Violetists have been relocated to the brig, where they continue to receive medical care.

"You've got to give them some credit," said Captain Shan of the Xi. "They built a working reactor and hydrogen drive. From scrap! Do you have any idea how fast that could have gone critical on them if they screwed it up? Even a reactor that small would have had a yield of half a kiloton! And the cabin somehow maintained pressure! ...Actually, you know what? The more I think about this, the less and less it looks like a disorganized, independent effort. Someone was backing this up, and they just built the ship like this to give them cover. I bet if we dig around in that drive assembly, we'll find some suspiciously mint parts... maybe we can even trace them back to the mastermind!

The Violetists will remain in custody aboard the Xi for the time being, and will be interrogated as soon as they have made a sufficient recovery.


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Vol. 39, Issue No. 1 (11/20/70)
MAN DIES ATTEMPTING INTER-STATION JUMP TO ESCAPE POLICE

Odell Barton, 25, of Orbis Kappa-12, died today after attempting to jump 25 kilometers through open space to Coriolis Beta-15. This fatal act was the culmination of a police chase that spanned the entirety of Kappa-12-2, which started after Barton robbed a downtown diamond dealer. Rather than submitting peacefully, Barton successfully evaded capture for over half an hour. When finally cornered in the maintenance level, he opted to eject himself from a nearby airlock. Video footage and officer reports show that he believed he could somehow make it to Beta-15, and activated the override before the officers could subdue him.

"The guy was in luck - or at least, he thought he was in luck," stated Officer Ma. "We make a twenty-klick intercept with Beta-15 once every dozen orbits or so. He must've remembered that at the last minute, and somehow convinced himself he could make the jump. Never mind that the airlock he ejected himself from was facing completely the wrong direction, or that he wouldn't have been moving fast enough to reach the Cori in time."

Barton's body was recovered after ten minutes of vacuum exposure, and was declared DOA at the closest hospital. Authorities are awaiting contact from his family.

NEW AI-CONTROLLED STEALTH GODROD PLATFORM UNVEILED

The Federation's Military Research Agency unveiled its latest contribution to orbital weapons technology today. Expanding on the previous stealth Godrod design, this new iteration eliminates the need for crew altogether, replacing them in favor of a specially-created Personae AI. This allows all data trails leading to the locations of weapons platforms to be abolished - formerly a major concern in the event of a data leak - in favor of having the onboard Personae enter a random orbit (unknown to anyone) and await a broadcast fire command.

In an unusual but not unexpected response, several demonstrations have sprouted up outside the Federal government module on Orbis Alpha-1. Some are protesting the perceived dangers in placing an AI in charge of WMDs, while others are from existing anti-AI groups.

FNS agents interviewed several of these protesters. Mary Higgins, who was protesting the dangers of AI-controlled weaponry, stated that "We can't possibly place control of these weapons in AI! I'm all for us keeping the weapons, and I know that the AI isn't really sentient, but who's to say it can't go rouge, or get hijacked! The consequences could be disastrous!"

We contacted Jackson Cline, a Personae AI specialist, for his opinion on the matter. He firmly believes that "Personae cannot go 'rogue.' We aren't living in a crappy century-old sci-fi film, for Christ's sake. While some Personae are capable of free thought, none are sentient - and besides, the ones in use on these platforms are dead simple. They just barely meet the requirements for Personae classification; they're dumb as rocks. They know how to shove a platform out to a random orbit and wait. That's it. Concepts like 'going rogue' simply don't exist in their mindset, nor can they develop it."

Regardless of the protests, the military is scheduled to begin decommissioning old platforms and installing the new ones within a week.

ZEUS V MISSION SET TO DEPART FROM LUNA SPACE ELEVATOR TOMORROW

Armstrong City - The fifth Zeus mission is departing from the Aldrin Space Elevator tomorrow morning, bound for Europa. The trip will take approximately four months, and the crew - a mix of Federal and Lunar civilian researchers - will perform exhaustive surveys on the ice moon, focusing on the potential of life in the subsurface ocean. Previous Zeus missions have avoided Europa, as biologists on the joint Federation-Luna Solar Exploration Board (FLSEB) have expressed concerns over potential contamination of the moon by Earth-originated microorganisms; however, following specially-developed sterilization techniques, a full analysis of Europa's oceans has been authorized.

The mission's ship, the freshly-constructed Hermes II, has been lauded for its encouragement and utilization of advanced hydrogen drive technology, allowing the ship to both burn more efficiently while requiring less space dedicated to the drive assembly. These developments have shaved a month of time off the transit, and the innovations are expected to begin appearing within the consumer space soon.

Federation biologists are particularly excited at the prospect of unique microorganisms; we interviewed xenobiologist Janie Kaufman, who excitedly declared that such a discovery "would finally legitimize my field as a real, practically-applied science, as it should be."

The Hermes II has already docked with the orbital portion of the Aldrin Elevator after a brief tug-driven trip from the Federation's Corey Shipyards, and is currently undergoing final checks and refueling. If all goes well, the crew will board at 0800 FST, and the ship will light up its drive by 0900, kicking off the journey.


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