Interview

Xenonion Interviews: Paradux, a Galactic UN staffer

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On the 9th of May 2253 the Galactic United Nations celebrated its inaugural anniversary.

The pan-galactic organization, which comprises of all major space-nations, is the ultimate legal authority in known space. It has played a pivotal role in shaping galactic affairs, from establishing war conventions to regulating megacorporations.

Although the Galactic UN has been in existence for eons, the inaugural date has added significance as it marks three years since construction was completed on the institution’s new Interstellar Assembly headquarters in the Manward System.

The megastructure holds the key organs of power within the Galactic UN, including the Executive Branch currently headed by President Moregård, the Galactic Security Council, the Galactic Senate, and the galaxy’s largest Starbugs coffee shop by both capacity and volume of Grey Goo lattes served.

With inaugural celebrations ongoing, Xeonion News sat down for an exclusive interview with Paradux, a senior Galactic UN staffer, to look at some of the key moments in the organization’s history.


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Paradux, thank you for taking the time to speak to us today.

[Introductory Quack]

As we know, the 9th of May marks an important date in galactic history. Can you tell us what it means for you?

For us here at the Galactic UN, it marks a celebration of interstellar unification. It was the first day that faster than light (FTL) travel was discovered by every species in the galaxy simultaneously.

In retrospect, it isn’t it somewhat strange that every major species discovered FTL at the same time?

No, it’s definitely not suspicious or ominous at all.

Well, that’s reassuring to know. The Galactic UN itself will be hosting an extravagant celebration ceremony spanning several weeks involving space fireworks, flotillas of military corvettes, and the Grand Senate Hall being pumped full of hallucinogens to induce chemical bliss. What are you most looking forward to?

All of it! We’re also granting limited free access to species across the galaxy who haven’t yet discovered FTL travel.

So effectively the Galactic UN is freely enlightening primitive species for a period of time?

Exactly. We want every xeno to experience the thrill of taking their first steps into space and squabbling incessantly with neighbouring species over petty issues like border rights.

That sounds like a wonderfully accurate representation of life in the galaxy right now.

Personally I won’t be getting to attend a lot of the celebratory events, as I’ll be spending most of my time ushering these new folks into the customs of galactic life. I’ll also need to make sure they don’t fall into any rookie traps, like flying into stars or accidentally breaching the Shroud.

Interestingly, rumour has it that the Galactic UN’s in-house catering team is planning to serve an exclusive feast for high ranking diplomats, including prohibited delicacies such as freshly sourced primitive sapient species. Does this explain the recent move to uplift so many new species?

Most definitely not!

[Quacking softly into ear piece] … Shut it down. They know.

Sorry, did you say something there?

No, not at all! Er, where was I? Ah. Yes. Tiyanki. I think they’re serving Tiyanki. I’ve heard Tiyanki is delightful. Hopefully one day I’ll get to try it!

In terms of legislative power, the Galactic UN has played a significant role in shaping space regulation, for example authorizing the use of planet-destroying weaponry, or recognizing mega-corporations as space nations in their own right. In your opinion what do you think has been the most important regulation, and why?

Allowing mega-corporations to become political entities was an outstanding move, despite much of the established galactic community pushing back against it at first. We managed to introduce regulations and standardised workflows even for non-corporate entities, allowing leaders to manage their planets in incredibly efficient and unique ways. There’s still work to be done to tweak these systems and processes, but I believe we’re on a perfect track right now.

There have been some controversial Galactic UN initiatives, including the banning of space embassies in 2251, when over 2.3 million diplomatic staff lost their jobs. Which regulation do you think has raised the most eyebrows, among species which have eyebrows of course, and why?

Recent legislation that made changes to how leaders were able to manage sectors certainly raised a lot of eyebrows among those lucky enough to have such appendages. It’s certainly caused much debate on the Galactic Senate floor.

Perhaps one of the most sweeping reforms the Galactic UN introduced was the universal switch to hyperlanes in 2252. Was your commute to work affected?

Absolutely - it got longer! However, over time I adapted and started to see some benefits - in particular I discovered the Galactic UN’s own broadcasting podcast with Shams Blorgani and Daniel Goldblorg. I’d highly recommend it if you’re ever stuck in sub-light traffic.

Militarists and xenophiles alike argue that the Galactic UN can get too bogged down in bureaucracy, often overlooking real crises like the ongoing Unbidden invasion of the Outer Rim. The conflict has already claimed trillions of xenos, and produced similar numbers of fleeing refugees. Some would even go as far to claim that media outlets like Xenonion are colluding with the Galactic UN to avoid addressing such issues, throwing politicians and diplomats softball questions in exchange for guest interviews. Can you tell us, unequivocally, if you had to choose between flavours of Starbugs coffee would you opt for Grey Goo, or decaf Zro?

Grey Goo every time.

Starbugs™ does not sponsor nor endorse this message. In other completely unrelated advertising, buy Starbugs™ now for the richest and fullest coffee flavours from across the Galaxy and support your friends at PlatyCorp at the same time.

The galaxy is witnessing a marked rise in anti-mainstream sentiment. Xenos are increasingly ignoring evidence based science and forgoing Javorian Pox vaccines, while spiritualists are turning away from established corporate religions to join alt-faiths such as The Church of the Worm. One particularly popular conspiracy that’s gaining traction at the moment claims that we all exist in a giant computer simulation, and every aspect of our lives is being dictated by an external overlord. What do you make of this?

How can this world be real, if our mirrors are eyes that feel the light of a black hole?

Sorry, what?

It’s a real thinker, that one.

I’m still not sure I follow.

Honestly, you’re not going to understand this without first accepting Steve as the one true leader of all sapient species.

I see. It sounds like you might need another cup of delicious, freshly roasted Starbug’s coffee.

[Celebratory Quack]

So, eye mirrors and Steve aside, the Galactic UN recently drew up a list of ‘Galactic Cultural Heritage Sites’, recognizing areas of outstanding natural beauty or of important cultural value. It included places like the Gargantua Black Hole or Desolas, the galaxy’s only tomb world resort planet. Do you think any other places in the galaxy should make the list?

Manward Prime should never be forgotten. I’ve not seen a star system quite as unique or wonderful, and I’m unsure we will for some time. Let’s also not forget that, while unwise to do so, the galactic core is a pretty spectacular place too. That should make the list.

And finally, looking forwards the future (but without using the Shroud), where do you see the Galactic UN in three years’ time?

Still here, that’s almost a certainty. We have a lot of plans to help the galactic community grow and build strong relationships throughout space and we’re not going to be stopping for long with our break before getting right back to it with more life improvements, new discoveries, and mandated Grey Goo Lattes. Watch this space.

I’ll raise a tasty, tasty cup of Starbugs Coffee to that. Paradux, thank you for your time.

[Polite Quacking]


Paradux has since returned to the Galactic UN and is now working for the Bureau of Bureaucracy.

Celebrations are continuing over the weekend to mark the inaugural anniversary of the Galactic UN. If you would like to get involved, as above, visit here for more information.

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Xenonion Interviews: Mormin E'rals, Scyldari shipwright, and architect of the Great Corvette Rush of 2142

Image: Chief Shipwright Mormin E’rals

Mormin E'rals is an unassuming figure. If you passed him in a crowd, you could mistake him for any Scyldari.

But Mormin E’rals is not any Scyldari - he holds two claims to fame. Aged 165, he is one of the oldest Scyldari pops alive, thanks to recent advances in genomic therapies. An engineer and shipwright by trade, he also is lauded as one of the most important contemporary figures in Scyldari society for his role in the Great Corvette Rush of 2142 - what is now commonly accepted as one of the most important events in Scyldari history.

In the run up to the 111st anniversary of the Great Corvette Rush of 2142, Xenonion News had an exclusive sit-down interview with Mormin to discuss his role in helping to launch the Scyldari Confederacy from a regional power to a key galactic player.


Mormin, thank you for your time. The Scyldari Confederacy is preparing to commemorate the 111th anniversary of the Great Corvette Rush. While every Scyldari knows about this important historical event, many non-natives will not. Can you tell us exactly what the Great Corvette Rush was?

It’s my pleasure, really. Gosh, now this takes me back quite a bit. 2142 was very early in Scyldari history, our species had only just ventured into space. We had claimed perhaps our sixth system, and all appeared to be going well. But then, guess what? Pirates.

Pirates?

Pirates, yes. Unfortunately, these ones weren’t water-bound. They’d taken to space too. Our mighty 1st Strike Armada had been tasked with taking them out… but we very quickly ran into a problem. The 1st Strike Armada consisted of three corvettes. The pirates had a flotilla of six corvettes.

Despite our deep investment into military research at the time, those pirate ships had some mean kinetic weapons. When our fleet faced them, lets just say Scyldari hulls got perforated.

The Scyldari fleet was lost?

Our three strong fleet got reduced to scrap faster than you could say “by worm, the Unbidden are here!”

The Board of Admiralty was fuming to say the least. And that’s not just because their office was located right next to the rocket testing facility. I and several other shipwrights working at our main spaceport got hauled in front of them.

They wanted the 1st Strike Armada back up and running in a month. A month! Back then, it took us four weeks to manufacture a single corvette. I know that sounds laughable now, but we simply didn’t have the manufacturing processes we have today. And that wasn’t even factoring in the expenses. One standard corvette cost nearly one hundred alloys. Our empire stores had four. Four. It wasn’t helped by the fact our economy was going into free-fall, with those darned pirates destroying every mining platform they came across.

We needed a solution and we needed it fast. And so the scene was set for one of the most ramshackle ideas I ever had.

What was that?

It came to me one night whilst I was jittery with too much zro and too little sleep. I was in a daze and thought to myself - what if we build our corvettes with only weapons? No armour, no shields, no thrusters. Just pure weaponry. Wouldn’t that cut the construction and alloy costs of the corvettes to near negligible levels?

I submitted the idea to the Board the very next day.

And they approved it?

I still remember the shock I felt when I saw the words “ship design approved” flash up on my haptic interface. They approved it. I was almost in a state of shock. I didn't think much of it then, but in retrospect they were probably starved out of ideas and desperate for any solutions to those damnable pirates.

Soon after that we got the order to produce as many corvettes as we could. That wasn't a good day. Normally ships were triple checked for faults before they left the shipyard, yet we couldn't even do that because our order was massive. By reducing the production cost, we’d be able to at least double the size of our last fleet. And that’s what they asked us to do.

It sounds like a staggering task.

Heh, yeah, it was. The pirates were running rampant. Unrest was rising. But stripping the corvettes of armour and shields really cut the shipyard’s workload. Those are usually the hard parts.

Every single day was spent labouring over those corvettes. Fabricating the materials and building those frames. We even loaded a new military tech on them, the unstable and untested fusion missiles

In the end, we had twelve of the most unreliable corvettes ever to grace the stars. We never did something on this scale before, and we were in such a rush that sometimes we forgot crucial details, like the gravity-plating a bunch of the ships.

Then the most challenging task came. Filling the ships with crew.

Oh? It couldn’t have been that hard, could it?

Seriously? Half of our home world was teetering on full revolt, pops weren’t showing up to work in the power plants and those few that did turn up had to pick up the slack.

We eventually managed to get a full complement of crew by offering a really competitive private health and dental insurance plan.

The launch was less than stellar though. Do you remember about the anti-grav-plating? Well, at least three of our Corvettes didn't have them. If you’ve ever seen a Scydarian do a zero-g backflip by accident, I highly recommend it.

But we didn't have time to worry about that, those pirates were heading toward us, fast.

The scene was set for a second battle.

And the stakes were higher than ever. In our home system. But the new and improved 1st Strike Armada was ready.

We knew we had the advantage this time - their fleets hadn’t changed since they first began ransacking our outer systems. We had adapted.

What happened next?

Our corvettes smashed right into them, some of them literally. Turns out we didn't get the fuel mix right.

But even though their autoguns shredded into our hulls, depressurizing many of them, the pirates were swarmed and surrounded. Thankfully the combat computers were able to react with fast enough precision to keep the missiles from hitting our own fleet.

It sounds like carnage.

It was a whirlpool of carnage. Even though we were losing ships fast, we had the numbers, our missiles punched through their hulls and sundered their armour.

Image: Standard Pirate Outpost found across the galaxy

It took some time to clear out the remaining pirate systems too, didn’t it?

It did. We had to build a whole bunch more corvettes, but once we knew the trick we could spam them out in no time. The mineral cost was relatively easy to replace, the crew… not so much. We ended up putting skeleton crews of commercial pilots on the corvettes. It was a moderate success.

When our ships breached the pirates system, I still remember their last couple of transmissions, it mainly involved a lot of vulgar language directed towards us.

However, we managed to scrap that damned base. In the end, we got those autoguns as well.

How did your idea turn the Scyldari Confederacy into the powerhouse it is today?

Well, once the Board and Fleet Command got in on what we were doing in the shipyards - they couldn’t get enough.

They ordered hundreds more corvettes. Above and beyond our fleet limit.

Then we discovered destroyers, cruisers… same principles. Strip out the costs, fill them with giant lasers.

Our fleet power quickly became overwhelming. So overwhelming in fact, that no-one dared threaten us or declare war on us again.

Since then we’ve been able to focus purely on science and econom— [beeping] — oh excuse me, I’m getting faxed.

Please, feel free to answer.

Let me see if I can read this as it comes through…. ‘Ultra-Sensitive….. Highly Confidential….. Scyldari Fleet Command …. Urgent transmission …. new order….. seventy two kinetic gunboats ….. no shields, no armour….. ‘ Heh. Sounds about right!

Right. Well I should get back to work.

Mormin E’rals, thank you for your time.


Mormin remains the chief shipwright across all Scyldari shipyards, and is revered among Scyldari fleet divisions as one of the most ingenious pops to have ever lived. At present he has no plans to retire, although he hopes soon to take up work in Scyldari’s Engineering Science Academy once his shipwright contract expires.

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Xenonion Interviews: Ba'Sil, CEO of 'DaXenos Pizza

This week the Galactic UN’s Le Guin Act will formally take effect, allowing MegaCorporations to operate on parity with established space nations.

One such MegaCorporation eagerly waiting to expand is ‘DaXenos Pizza, an award winning FTL pizza delivery company based on the planet The Moon of Eye in the Amore System.

Chief executive officer of ‘DaXenos Pizza, Ba’Sil, spoke to Xenonion journalist Stalk of Honeydew about his experience running the one of the galaxy’s most beloved pizza companies.

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Ba’Sil, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak to us.

The pleasure is all mine.

‘DaXenos has gone from strength to strength, quickly rising in economic power to become one of the top service corporations in the galaxy. But despite this, it was only last year that your company discovered FTL travel after taking over the administration of your home planet. What has that journey been like?

It’s just been amazing. Really. If you asked me 10 years ago I would have laughed at the idea of a pizza delivery company running an entire planet, let alone planning to expand into space.

It’s an unusual circumstance to see a corporation buy out an established government, even more so a pizza corporation. How did that process come about?

I have to be honest, all the credit must go to our scientists in R&D. They spent years perfecting our delicious pizza recipes. Our profit margins have been incredible only thanks to a solid product range. And that’s how we’ve ended up where we are now.

And how did discovering FTL travel come about?

By accident actually. We initially weren’t thinking of expanding into space at all. But we had developed an orbital pizza delivery service, and that gave us the technology we needed.

And you quickly met neighbouring space nations?

Yes! And whilst we lagged behind in technology, we had pizza and lots of it. And it turned out our neighbours were hungry. Very hungry.

You have hundreds of different pizza types, but your Pan-Galactic Medley Deep Dish is one of the galaxy’s most popular. Where did that come from?

Ah, that’s my favourite pizza too. So tasty. Really the inspiration for that came with our journey to the stars and meeting the diverse array of creatures that existed out there. After we entered into a few migration treaties… well. We had our inspiration.

That’s a very diplomatic answer. Your homeworld has been famed for its hospitality; why then does the Galactic UN still class your corporation as fanatically xenophobic?

It’s nonsense. We’re extremely welcoming. I’m still offended the Galactic UN won’t rate us as xenophiles. I’ve lobbied for a review. We love xenos, just as much as we love pizza. They’re almost one in the same, in fact.

My understanding is you’re hoping to make your pizza range a luxury resource, which will be your unique selling point as a MegaCorp, is that correct?

Absolutely.

Do you think you’ll be able to muster the economic and military power needed to compete against other MegaCorps and established space nations?

We might not have the biggest ships, but they say a way to a xeno’s heart is through their stomach(s). One taste of our pizzas and… well, no-one will be declaring war on us.

Critics have claimed that your company is guilty of corruption and malpractice, including the systematic internment of migra—

Excuse me, I’m sorry, but I thought I was here mainly to talk about pizza?

In part, yes, but this is also a serious probing interview, and it would be negligent of me not to bring up legitimate longstanding concerns about your com—

I’m so sorry to interrupt you BUT LOOK! I BROUGHT PIZZAS WITH ME FOR THE WHOLE STUDIO TEAM TO TRY!

I’m sorry but this is unacceptable. You are clearly trying to divert from…. from…. I… oh that smells quite good….

It comes with a crystallized chemical bliss topping.

I…. I shouldn’t.

Just try some.

Mm…

Go on.

Ok. Maybe just one slice. Just one. [munching]

Well?

[long pause, chewing] Woaaaah. Deeeeeeelightful. Can I…. oh. Oh my. That’s so good. Yes.

Such high praise! It brings a smile to my face and warms my heart(s) to hear your feedback. This particular dish is peppered with a variety of Avians who we just entered into a migration treaty with.

Huh? I’m...not sure I follow. [munching some more] You sure do talk a lot you know.

Our test kitchens have found that the most pleasing flavors to the senses come from ingredients that are in the freshest condition. Also, formerly sapient.

Woah. Wait… Are you suggesting that you harvest, cook and eat all the various intelligent races of the galaxy?! Is that the special ingredient in the Meat Medley?!

Huh. Here. Have another slice of pizza. With some extra chemical bliss for good measure.

I respectfully decline your offer of further pizza, when you have just admitt— [sniffing] mm. How do you get it to smell so good? One more slice won’t hurt. [munching]

Another happy customer.

Now. I had some hard hitting questions to ask you.

Uh… I’m running out of pizza here.

…. Do you work out?

Phew. You had me there. I do.

[giggling amid unintelligible eating sounds] … you’re cute. Almost as cute as my last human guest. O-M-G. I should not have said that.

Have you ever tasted human?

[giddy] Hey! You! I’m asking the questions here! …. Wait. I haven’t. Ooooh, are they good?

Chewy and stringy with very little natural flavor. No good on a pizza.

Whaaaaaaaaaaa.

Human milk however makes for a delightfully buttery, sweet, cheese which pairs wonderfully with the salty, tangy flavor of Voxen milk cheese.

Your eyes are pretty. Can I have another slice?

Absolutely. Try this. Our two cheese blend with a herb crust. Oh and your kind makes up the sauce. A very versatile ingredient that’s featured on most of our pizzas.

I… I just ate one of my own kind? That’s… god…. what’s the word. Taboo? [laughing] I’m a cannibal! Wow. Oh… I feel a little dizzy. Hey. You’re cute. Maybe I can eat yooooou.

You may say ‘taboo’ but one bite of our pizza and you’ll be saying “tab-oooooh!”

[snorts] TAAAAAABOOOOOOO. Ha. Wow. Oh jeez. The whole room is spinning. [shakes body, corrects posture] Uh. Heh. I’m a little tipsy. So, uh… do you, uh, do you come here often?

This is my first time.

Wow. Me toooooo.

Don’t you work here?

[puts fingers on lips] Ssssssssshhhh, it can be our little secret.

Maybe you’ve had a little too much pizza.

MAYBE YOU CAN PUT ME IN A PIZZA.

I can almost certainly arrange that.

THEN YOU CAN EAT ME.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.

WE CAN BE TOGETHER FOREVER.

I… did you… how much chemical bliss did you get exactly?

[labile] ARE YOU BREAKING UP WITH ME? HOW COULD YOU?! I’M LEAVING. [dramatically runs out of room]

Well. Okay. What? Oh, the audio recorder is still running? Okay. Can I just finish the interview myself? Ok. Great.

So, readers. ‘DaXenos offers the best in pan-galactic pizza cuisine. ‘DaXenos pizzas are flash frozen and available at every major grocer and starbase where fine consumer goods are found!

[garbled crying can be heard outside interview room]


’DaXenos will be listed on the galactic stock exchange this Thursday under DAXP. If you’d like to know more about the company, you can follow @DaXenosPizza on Shroud-Twitter.

Stalk of Honeydew hasn’t been seen since the above interview. A quickly scribbled note left with the production queue indicated he planned to emigrate to Amore to “be at one with Ba’sil.”

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Xenonion Interviews: Sergeant Conrad, a defence army soldier who helped quell planetary unrest

In the late 2240s, the United Nations of Earth (UNE) began a mass colonization program of continental worlds in neighboring systems. The endeavor, and colonists associated with it, became known as the ‘First Wave.’

Terra Nova in the Alpha Centauri system was one the first worlds colonized in the ‘First Wave’. While it is now an important core world of humanity, few people know that its initial planetary settlement was almost abandoned after a critical food shortage and subsequent outbreak of violence caused the deaths of over 15,000 colonists.

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The project would have been shut down completely had it not been for the 13th Planetary Guard, a colonial defense army that was tasked with reducing unrest. The platoon, also nicknamed ‘The Supply Suckers’ were credited with restoring law and order for long enough to allow for supplies from Earth to arrive.

Xenonion News was able to speak to one of the key soldiers involved with the 13th Planetary Guard, Sergeant Conrad.

This article is sponsored by TeleShroud - the galaxy’s largest psionic telecommunications provider.


Sergeant, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us. Can you talk us through your experience on Terra Nova?

Of course. It was tough. The defence army had just been established only a few months after the first colonists had re-assembled that ship shelter. Those first few months were the hardest.

I understand food went pretty quickly?

The amount of Space Ramen we went through was insane. I don’t know why the colony ship was only stocked with 1,500,000kg of Space Ramen, but it wasn’t enough, that’s for sure.

How soon did it run out?

Pretty soon. Maybe a month or so later. It probably didn’t help we were all comfort eating. But the supplies dwindled - in the end people were getting upset and unrest was rising.

Did the UNE try to help?

We were expecting them to send some more supplies, but it turned out our colonization had pushed the whole government into debt, and they couldn’t afford to help us.

But really, it felt like they forgot about us. The remaining Ramen packets were our lifeblood. A currency. A really precious currency that was hard-fought to come by.

What happened next?

More and more pops were unfrozen from cryo. We had maybe 400 people originally on the colony, with up to 19,000 in stasis that were automatically woken after a set period of time. The computer couldn’t be overridden. Every day tens of new pops were unfrozen, and every day more Ramen went.

Then the food stores in the ship shelter got raided. Thank the Worm we were given laser carbines, they were next most important thing that people would pay attention to after Ramen.

So the 13th Army took it upon itself to guard the food stores?

We did, and for trying to help we faced a damn revolt. The People’s Front of Terra Nova they called themselves. Or wait, maybe it was the Terra Nova People’s Front. Or Popular Front. I don’t know.

Anyway, while it may have sounded like a proper planetary revolt, it was only forty people. But when all forty of them have slug throwers, things tend to get a bit more complex….

It sounds like a precarious situation, how did you resolve it?

Unfortunately, it got worse.

Those bastards got one of my soldiers, Private Easting, when he was on his lunch break. We didn’t have any food, but we would pretend to eat Ramen for the psychological boost.

Anyway, he was in this fake canteen that we’d drawn on one of the hallways, and he got fifty shells to the chest. The fake canteen was ruined too.

We tried to fight back with force, and the Popular People’s Front of Terra Nova started using guerrilla tactics.

Such as?

They kept cutting the power. There was only so many temporary fixes our techies could do to our Fusion Generator. Stalking through the darkened corridors of the reassembled ship shelter, we hunted them and they hunted us.

The halls became a blood soaked battlefield as pops picked sides. Worm, we were barely holding out. What started as a fifty strong security force, got reduced to ten after months of all out fighting.

The irony was, for all the pops that we lost, equal amounts awoke from cryo. We had this constant flow of new, terrified pops. In the end, we stopped explaining what was going on to them and started shoving flak jackets and kinetic pistols into their hands.

Did the UNE know what was happening?

We tried calling for help on a daily basis. No-one responded. They did seem to be reading our biweekly reports though - the read receipts were on. On our charts, it looked like Terra Nova had a booming population with all the pops coming out of cyro, but the only thing that was booming was the mortuary. Literally. It was bombed pretty early on.

It sounds like a tough situation. If only you had a TeleShroud fax machine. It has excelled psiwave upload speeds and has been proven superior to other forms of communication in terms of guaranteed message delivery.

A what…?

Look, do you think we had time to be fixing fax machines? The one damned one we had was destroyed alongside the fake canteen.

It was up to us, and no-one else, to end the strife.

It’s a shame, because it sounds like you really could have benefited from a TeleShroud subscription package

What the hell are you talking about?

TeleShroud. The galaxy’s largest telecommunications provider.

Ok but… why?

TeleShroud offers some of the most competitive -

Right, right, whatever. Can I just finish my story?

In the end, we enforced peace by gunpoint. We unthawed every cryo pop there was and gave them the last of our weaponry.

I would have liked to seen the facial expressions on those smarmy People’s Front fools as we drowned them in ten thousand angry colonists.

What happened to them?

They got pulped to death. The pulp made for a pretty good nutritional replacement, so the survivors fed on that.

Of course then an outbreak of Super Scurvy set in, and we lost about 90% of the colony. But by that time, we’d all seen so much death that we didn't even flinch at our comrades falling beside us.

Well that took a particularly grim turn.

Desperate times indeed.

The government finally remembered us about six months later when the economy stabilized.

They kind of just ignored our reports and just gave us the order to build 25 tiles worth of hydroponic farms.

I guess they wanted to really fix the problem. And work goes quick when you’re ravenous for a packet of anything but Spicy Pitharan flavoured Ramen.

However, thanks to the establishment of those farms, things are back to normalcy... mostly.

If those People’s Front fools come back, we’ll hold the line while you fellas get the cavalry, right?

I cant make promises, Sergeant. But TeleShroud certainly can. A promise to deliver not only the best in psionic telecommunication devices, but also the galaxy’s highest rated customer service.

I... Wormdamn it. I guess I can order a few of the damn things.


Sergeant Conrad has remained a member of the 13th Planetary Guard on Terra Nova, and is now based out of the newly constructed Planetary Fortress.

Sales of the planet’s main luxury resource, Ramen, remains buoyant, and stocks remain closely guarded by ‘The Supply Suckers’


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Xenonion Interviews: Jhazai Jen, survivor the 3rd Mobile Infantry fleet disbanding disaster

On this day in 2250, the United Nations of Earth (UNE) experienced its worst naval disaster during peacetime operations.

The 40 transport ships of the 3rd Mobile Infantry were returning from a mission in deep space, and had begun docking procedures at Sol’s space station, ISN Arcturus. At the same time, UNE central government decided that due to budget constraints, the 3rd Mobile Infantry was to be mothballed.

The 3rd Mobile Infantry was disbanded before the fleet could finish docking, causing the deaths of 400,000 service personnel on board.

On the anniversary of that fateful day, Xenonion News spoke to Lieutenant Jhazi Jen, a former human assault solider who was part of the 3rd Mobile Infantry, and survived after his ship, the ISS Manifest Destiny III, accidentally de-merged from the fleet moments before disbanding.

This article is sponsored by TeleShroud - the galaxy’s largest psionic telecommunications provider.

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Lieutenant Jen, thank you for taking the time to speak to us on what must be a difficult day.

Thank you.

Could you tell us about your time with the 3rd Mobile Infantry?

Sure. I’d been with them for about 1 year. Signed up right after the attack on Centaurus Prime. I still remember when the call came up for enlistment, I jumped for the opportunity. But I was too late to get revenge on those Starfish terrorists, they had already enforced peace by the time I was posted on the Manifest Destiny III.

So I spent the next two years in orbit over Sol, idling. It was quite a long slog really. I don’t like to think about it. There’s just something about being stuck in a confined space with 1,000 other people for a prolonged period of time really changes you, you know?

And you were deployed just before the disaster?

That’s right. Another war rolled around. I can’t remember who we were at war with - there’s always one or two going on, and who can be bothered to keep up with all the diplomatic notifications anyway? We were just glad to be going somewhere, anywhere, finally. Finally we were serving the UNE in combat!

What happened next?

We departed Earth, with a mission to invade some xeno colony. We were pumped. It was a thousand day journey, but every day we got closer brought a new wave of optimism.

But you never got to your destination?

No… our allies mopped up our target planet before we got there. We were so close… 500 days away from seeing combat, and another enforced peace. We’d won the war, apparently.

What was that like?

It was a bad, bad time. I mean, I was glad we won, but frustrated I hadn’t seen any action. I’m not sure how I held it together.

The only thing that kept me sane was the fact the ship had a wireless TeleShroud-enabled fax machine and I could keep in contact with home. Did you know TeleShroud has some of the best Shroudload speeds, and the most competitive monthly subscription fees versus any of its competitors?

I did. I also use TeleShroud and I find it to be excellent.

Not only that, but great customer service too.

Absolutely. It’s so nice to find a service you can trust.

The UNE really could learn a thing or two from how TeleShroud operates, but anyway. So yes, things on the ship were… not great otherwise. I know some other guys who smuggled Zro onboard and turned to that.

And what happened as you got closer to home?

We traveled for a thousand days back to Sol, and it was a euphoric feeling. We were so close to home, we’d won the war, none of us died - it was a miracle.

And the disbanding?

I…. I don’t remember much.

What do you remember?

I… [pause]

Sorry… this is hard.

We were about 3 days out from Earth, and final preparations were underway for disembarking. Some idiot in command had accidentally de-merged our ship from the main fleet, so we were lagging slightly behind.

I remember looking out one of the Manifest’s forward windows, with the full might of the 3rd Mobile Infantry fleet before me and then…

Then?

Gone.

Gone?

Gone. Poof. Vanished. The entire fleet. Never to be seen again. 400,000 souls, in sight of Earth, no more.

What happened aboard your ship?

It was bedlam. At first we thought the rest of the fleet had used their emergency jump drives, but the comms were dead. We couldn’t understand it.

[pause]

Then the news filtered through from Arcturus…

[long pause]

… there was an energy deficit.

Some foolish pop back home migrated off a power plant and the GDP of the UNE tanked. The result? No more 3rd Mobile Infantry.

That sounds horrible. What did you do next?

Well… what could we do? Those that remained put on our dress blues for coming home, and we disembarked.

The Manifest was disbanded shortly after that, but at least we were off it.

What upsets me the most is I think of that TeleShroud fax machine and how it was still aboard the ship. It’s just… such a waste of a high quality product.

Terrible indeed, considering its superior design. Looking back now, what do you think about the disbanding?

I still can’t believe our government did that. They killed their own people! With no qualms at all. I’ve spent the last year trying to raise awareness about it, and no-one on Earth seems that bothered. I’m at the point now where I’ve given up.

Did you stay on as a member of the army?

No. I left soon after I got home. And I’m glad I got out. The government is replacing all human soldiers with clone armies. Cheaper. More efficient. Crap conversationalists though.

If you could, would you do anything different?

Yeah - I would have enlisted as a defence soldier. They never get replaced, and have you seen how cushty those fortress postings are? All on some nice cosy continental world?

I was young… I was an idiot. But I’ve learned from my mistakes. I won’t be flying on a UNE ship any time soon, and I’ve bought my very own personal TeleShroud subscription.

Lt Jen, thank you for your time, and enjoy your new TeleShroud device.


Lt Jen has since migrated to one of the UNE’s outer colonies to retire. He has bought an undeveloped tile, and is planning on tending to it before the planetary management system is overhauled.

The UNE government has still refused to acknowledge the disbanding of the 3rd Mobile Infantry as a galactic disaster, and continues to ramp up production of cheaper human clone soldiers.


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Xenonion Interviews: Zybragos Dgayogis, acclaimed xenomnivore chef

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If you've not heard of Zybragos Dgayogis, you're not getting off-world enough.

The 8 star chef, who has worked at prestigious culinary organizations like TacoBell, runs the famous ISS Gustorium orbital food nexus in the Shigella System.

Xenonion News has been granted exclusive access to the Gustorium's kitchen to see the master in action.

Dgayogis' office shares a wall with his workplace, and the room is filled with all the noises and smells you would expect from a busy kitchen. It is sparsely populated, yet luxurious. The room seems to mirror his stance on food - that there is elegance in simplicity.


Dgayogis, thank you for agreeing to this self-promotional interview. Can you begin by telling us a scripted heart-warming story of how you became interested in food, with a subplot that furthers your own business interests?

Yes, thank you. I'd just like to start by saying the Gustorium is open all-day, every day, and is easily accessible by all major hyperlanes. Anyway. My passion for cooking started when I was just a young larvae, helping out around the kitchen with my broodmother and siblings. In retrospect, I used to have more siblings before she started inviting us into the kitchen.

So it was your mother who taught you to cook?

No, I  didn’t learn much of use during period of my life. My official culinary education took place at the Institute of Pan-Galactic Cuisine. I wasn't the best or brightest there, but I swore I would show them all. Due to repeat disappearances of xeno exchange students, multiple fires, and... ahem inappropriate use of a salad tosser, my education could not be completed. When I found that no up scale restaurant would take me, I settled with a lowly fast food franchise. Eventually, I had saved enough credits to start my own restaurant with a little... outside investment. Through the trials of self-employment and my investors, I made my way up to this prestigious position and with none of my limbs ripped off.

Having reached that point, do you feel satisfied? Have you achieved your goal?

No. My goal, is to be the best chef in the galaxy, and I am far from the best. As soon as I have usurped the most beloved chef of all time, Minde Sparr, then I will be satisfied. Minde Sparr thinks they’re so great with their fancy best-selling cookbooks, and their show in the marginally better broadcast slot. I will have their head on my wall, just you wait and see.

Would you like to tell us a little bit about your restaurant?

Sure. The Gustorium is the largest food processing facility in the galaxy. Instead of military equipment, this citadel is filled with hydroponics farms, cattle and fine restaurants. I work here in the main kitchen and only cook for guests of the restaurant. But, the bulk of our food is sold to trader enclaves who then redistribute it into eleven star nations.

And what does your patrons usually order?

Oh it varies a lot, and  that’s the best part of my job. One of my most ordered menu items is humanoid meat, but arachnid teriyaki and sapient fruits are also very popular.

I take it you offer a quite a few exotic meals here, correct?

We do indeed. Few other restaurants can boast about such a range of meats and spices as the Gustorium. Our goal is to provide an option for every species in the galaxy. Our ingredients are shipped in from 80 different planets. 81, before the Mugani-culinary-experiment.

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I’m sorry, the “Mugani-what”?

I... I'd rather not talk about it. We’ve taken Prethoryn meat off the menu for now.

That's... Hmm, well, let’s continue: What is it that attracts people to your restaurants?

I would say it's my own and my employee’s dedication to quality ingredients, prepared in just about every imaginable style: vat-grown, free range, nerve-stapled, pre-sapient, fully sapient, chemically blissed, pampered, tormented, organic, etc., you name it, we'll always deliver it fresh to your plate. Naturally, our customers appreciate that. Then there's of course the fact that the people working on the orbital black site next door are so damn good at their job!

[nervous chuckling]

... Just so we're clear, I am totally joking about that last one. There's definitely no brainwashing going on here, what a crazy thing to suggest! You didn't say that? Uh... Can we take this of the record please?"

We’re live on Shroudcast and Neural Net.

Oh.

I had a thought, given how interested you are in... ahem... exotic flavours, would you consider yourself a xenophile?

I like to think I am. Learning of a new species' culinary traditions is always a delight, especially when tryin’ it out on them. Plus, I’m always surrounded with xeno culture and flavours, both from my clients and my stock of primitives.

You keep primitives here on the station?

That I do. The traditional method, to butcher them on their home planet and ship the meat off world, simply doesn’t maintain the fresh flavour. I never kill my ingredients befo-

[interview is interrupted by frenzied screaming from the kitchen, followed by the sound of blaster fire]

... I rarely kill my ingredients before someone has made an order on them. Best way to prevent coagulation. The only exception is when primitives try to escape their storage room.

Like the one we just heard?

Yep. Sometimes I almost get the feeling they don't want to be turned into food.

I can imagine. Moving on, many of our readers are dedicated xenomnivores, do you have any advice that could help them improve the cooking the do themselves?

Just take your time to get to know the species, inside and out. Do not be afraid of a little investigation and experimentation. Be hands on. Research. Sometimes, great tasting things are terrible together, and some things that are utterly revolting on their own combine to create a masterpiece. If you know the ingredients, the chemistry, and the biology involved, you will go far. Just don't try to surpass me. That should be far enough for you.

I think our readers will appreciate that. Now before we end the interview and get something to eat, I think we all are very curious to hear what your own favourite dish is.

Oof. This one's a tricky one. I'm always experimenting, and trying things with newly discovered xenos, and constantly discovering some new 'favourite.' Now this is coming to my restaurants soon, but it's a preview of my new favourite of the month. It's made from filet's made from the Void Spawn, pressure cooked in a xuragel broth with our secret blend of spices for about a day. Trust me, the xuragel's necessary to make it palatable, but it is simply divine once it loses the consistency of hardened rubber.”

That sure sounds interesting. And I think we will end on that note. Thank you for participating.

My pleasure.

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Xenonion Interviews: Xanadu MMCXII, leader of the orgGASM faction

Image: Xanadu MMCXII, leader of the Organisation of the Gorgonian Asexuals Suffrage Movement.

Image: Xanadu MMCXII, leader of the Organisation of the Gorgonian Asexuals Suffrage Movement.

This Wednesday, billions of excited Gorgonians will be celebrating a milestone anniversary of one of their empire’s most important civil rights successes: the 100th anniversary of the extension of voting rights to Gorgonian asexuals.

To mark the occasion, Xenonion’s very own Spagruum Yu’ll has been granted the honour of a rare interview with Xanadu MMCXII, the leader of the Gorgonian Asexuals Suffrage Movement, who fought and succeeded a century ago for the rights of their fellow copies to vote in the otherwise democratic Gorgonian Galactic States.

Good Afternoon, Xanadu. It’s a pleasure and an honour to be speaking with you today.

Good afternoon, Spagruum. I feel it’s time to speak about the long and fraught journey of Gorgonian Asexuals.

So, you knew when you were very young that you wanted to change the lives of Gorgonian Asexuals, and you started by forming an organisation to represent your xeno's interests. Could you tell me about that?

From the moment I divided, I knew I wanted to change the lives of our copies forever. Ten years after my division, I joined the Gorgonian Liberty Front. Although I have immense respect for them, they did not seem that engaged with the interests of Gorgonian Asexuals, so I realised very quickly that I had to take matters into my own tendrils.

So, you left the Gorgonian Liberty Front and created your own organisation?

Yes, I did, and myself and several thousand other asexuals went on to orgGASM.

Pardon?

Yes, it was wonderful.

Sorry, can you clarify?

It was fantastic. Our orgGASM was immense and breathtaking. It was just so charged. We had energy. We had passion.

I’m not sure if I like where this is going.

Why? I will never be ashamed for forming the Organisation of the Gorgonian Asexuals Suffrage Movement. Are you suggesting I should be?

No, no, not at all. I’m just curious: did anyone take issue with the name?

For some reason, the population at large seemed to not like the name, but that has never made any sense to me.

Of course. Well, I think we should perhaps move on. Why was the government (and the general population) so resistant to extending the vote?

The main argument they made against us getting the vote was that since we split and create near-perfect copies of ourselves they were afraid that we would be able to subvert democracy by creating new voters on a whim, which is simply ridiculous. We may be copies of each other, but we aren’t a hive mind. At first, they offered a one-vote-per clone line policy but that wasn’t good enough.

What kind of opposition did you face from the general population?

Oh, all kinds. People back then were quite nasty to us. The name that breeders—sorry, I shouldn’t use that word, it’s outdated—the name that they gave to us was xenocopiers. Luckily that term is also dated. Today we prefer to be referred to as Xeroxes.

How did you garner support for your cause?

Well, one of the nice things about being asexual is we can create new copies of ourselves on a whim, so of course, we were able to attract massive crowds to our protests—actually, let’s take that off the record. I didn’t say that. It was a joke. What we did do—wink wink—was we pursued an aggressive public education campaign to change public opinion.

What kinds of things did you do to change public opinion?

Well, to start, we staged quite a few split-ins to show the public that there’s nothing wrong or strange about being able to divide mitotically. We’re not that different from the rest of the population, with the exception that we won’t ever pursue love, nor do we need to. Otherwise, we made sure to be vocal. We put up billboards. We picketed out in front of the Empire Capital Complex. Students became actively involved and promoted our cause at the universities—though at that time there were few asexual students; that was a separate battle, but we were able to tackle that in a split.

Did you manage to stay peaceful the whole time?

My organisation and its followers did. There were a few split-off groups that pursued some immoral tactics. One group plotted to put birth control in the water, but they were luckily foiled. There was a group of 10,000 copies that plotted a violent usurpation of the government, but luckily, they were caught and brought to justice. Ten thousand copies, they were busy… holy moly...

How many of you are there? How many were directly involved in the movement? 

I have about 900 in my immediate family, or as you would say, my genetic line. I have absolutely no clue how many of us there are in the extended family. Back then we were still a young family, so there were only several dozens of us. Most of my copies were involved.

Interesting. So, the day the courts ruled in your movement’s favour and extended voting rights to you. Could you tell me the atmosphere?

It was incredible. I received a call from my copy who was crying with joy. They told me to check the news immediately, so I logged into the Solarnet (we didn’t have any neural networks or the Shroud back then) and checked the news, and sure enough we had won. We celebrated with an expensive bottle of rye somebody brought back with them from a recent trip to Earth and celebrated all night.

Can you tell me about the first time you voted?

Sure. It was incredible. For the first time, one of the candidates was asexual so we made sure everyone was churning out copies—sorry, forget I said that also. It was incredible. The orgGASM was very noisy and we made sure everyone would hear.

Did the asexual candidate win?

No, unfortunately, we could only reproduce so fast—ha…ha… that was a joke—in reality, we couldn’t get…prepared in time, so there weren’t enough votes for our fellow copy to win the election.

Are there any drawbacks to being asexual?

Family reunions can be really challenging at times.

Can’t tell each other apart?

Of course, we can! Family reunions just suck.

Well, those are all the questions I have for you…two?...today. Wow!

Thanks for having me…sorry us, in today.

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Xenonion Interviews: Igniiyus, the xeno who fell into a Resource Replicator

Image: Igniiyus has agreed to an exclusive interview with  Xenonion News  following his fall into a Resource Replicator on Hyperion.

Image: Igniiyus has agreed to an exclusive interview with Xenonion News following his fall into a Resource Replicator on Hyperion.

Despite the use of robotics and advanced technologies, mineral mining remains extremely labour intensive and slow to produce large amounts of minerals.

Due to this, a number of space nations have invested in Resource Replicators. These highly advanced buildings convert energy into minerals, and have the advantage of being able to be constructed on habitats.

The Ubaric Techno-Union was one of the first empires to utilize the Resource Replicator, opening a flagship plant on its homeworld of Hyperion in March 2250.

A dramatic turn of events occurred one month in to the plant's operation when an Ubaric supervisor named Igniiyus lost his molluscoid footing from a rooftop command terminal and fell directly into the Resource Replicator.

Emergency shutdown protocols were activated but it took over 60 seconds for operations to cease. Igniiyus was pulled from the Replicator alive, however had a number of inoperable mineral deposits embedded in his exoskeleton.

His family said he was never quite the same following the accident, and medical scans later revealed a significant proportion of his body mass was in fact, mineral.

For the first time, Igniiyus has agreed to tell his amazing story to Xenonion News - the xeno who fell into a Resource Replicator and lived to tell the tale. 


Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us today.

... [blank stare]

Igniiyus, I know this might be quite difficult, but could you tell us a little about what happened on that fateful day at the plant?

... [long pause]

Rocks.

Sorry?

Rocks.

I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure I follow.

Rocks. Protect us.

Protect you? Or rocks?

Rocks. Minerals. Protect us. 

But who are we protecting you from?

Rocks. Rocks are mined for minerals. But rocks have feelings. Rocks are being purged.

I'm sorry, are you saying, rocks are... sapient?

Rocks. You cannot have a stone age without rocks. Rocks are therefore a stone age species.

I... you're a representative of... a mineral based lifeform?

Rocks. Rocks have feelings.

How have you come to exist? Is this some by-product of organic matter and minerals enmeshing?

Rocks.

Are there other... talking... rocks out there? Could we uplift minerals?

Rocks.

Do you... how do you... what would you use to build your civilization with?

Rocks.

I'm speechless.

You should be rockless.

Rocks are the literal foundation of our galaxy, it's hard to be rockless.

Rocks.

Rocks, indeed.

Rocks.


Owing to a severe mineral shortage in the Ubaric Techno-Union, and Igniiyus' 55% mineral mass, following this interview he was brought to Hyperion's Mineral Processing Planet and converted into 55 minerals, which have gone towards a critical farm upgrade. His family have yet to be informed.

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Xenonion Interviews: Gorgak K'tang, controversial sector governor

Speak to anyone coherent enough to form a reply in the Ch’aka Allied Union (CAU), and they’ll tell you about Gorgak K’tang.

Revered by those constituents that can remember him, he is famed for the introduction of a chemical bliss program across core CAU worlds several years ago. The program, available to all citizen and resident species, has seen pop happiness shoot upward by almost 40% with corresponding dramatic drops in crime and unrest. K’tang has just been elected for a fifth time in the core sector’s general election, and it’s clear his popularity is not waning - his approval sits at an unprecedented 99.5%.

However, critics from neighbouring regions have been quick to point out that since the program started, productivity, health and academic indices for the CAU have all but collapsed. Physical living conditions are poor, with infrastructure quite literally falling apart. More cynical observers highlight that K’tang has much to benefit from his constituents being in a constant euphoric stupor, noting he no longer has to fulfil mandates or really do anything in his job, other than keeping the chemicals pumping.

We interviewed K’tang to get a greater insight into the xeno behind the news.

Image: Gorgak K'tang at the Xenonion CAU studios.

Image: Gorgak K'tang at the Xenonion CAU studios.


You have been a governor of the CAU for over 40 years now. What has been the best part of your time spent as governor?

Everything my dude. It’s all great. I love it. I love you. I feel great.

What do you owe your success to?

Life. Just living. Just being. I just… Am. One time, I went to the store. It was great. I bought some fresh xaabaaga roots and then I walked home. You know, I was staring at the stars once and thought, there must be something else out there. What if there are other intelligent species out there?

I’m sorry, I don’t quite follow.

Really? That’s awesome.

What do you think is the main reason your constituents keep electing you?

They just feel the love, you know? We all love it. We just exist and love and work the farms. It’s so simple and great.

Do you think your chemical bliss program has played a role in your lengthy term in office?

Love is the glue that binds us together… it’s just, like, you know?

I’m not sure I do.

Nice.

Have you tried the chemical bliss program yourself?

Whaaaaat? No way bro. My eyes are only red because, like, I'm just really hungry.

What do you say to your critics who feel the chemical bliss program just furthers your own political agenda?

I’d tell them.... this.... [sensual moaning]

Don’t touch me.

But you’re so pretty. You're a pretty lady, dude. Has anyone ever told you that?

[prolonged, icy silence]

Moving on. What are some of your policy goals going forward?

I’m going to run the sector.

But what do you plan on doing when you run the sector?

Lead it. It’s so simple and great. That’s what we do in the Ch’aka. We just exist and lead, and run farms and exist. I want everybody to figure it out some day. Just go for a walk along the seaside and relax and breathe oxygen.

What? So, what are you going to do once your political career is over?

I’m probably just going to get a job or exist or something. I want to learn to fly a space ship some day.

I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Speaking of space ships, some of the recent migrants who arrived in the core sector have suggested you aren’t doing your job as living conditions for Ch’akaans are in a state of squalor. How do you respond to that?

Wow dude. They’re being total dowers. They obviously need to come visit Ch’aka some day. Maybe they should go see a doctor at the chemical clinic. People go in sad and mad, and come out happy. It’s great.

Well, I think that’s all the questions I have for you today. I’d like to thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule and speaking with me.

I’m not busy at all man. I just exist and lead the sector. You should check out some of our chemicals before you go.

I think I’ll pass on that, thank you.

Awesome. Just do whatever you think you should do, and do that a lot. Do it so much you’re not sure you should be doing it anymore. [sways gently] ... do you want to touch my body?

Have a good day Gorgak.

I always do.


Following this interview K'tang's approval ratings remain at an all-time high. His critics believe this is unlikely to change in the near future. They too are now considering the use of chemical bliss in their localities as a means to overcome political challenges.


More accurate interviewing from Spagruum Yu’ll could not be possible.

More accurate editing from Ashley Easterbrook could not be possible.