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    • By Sunset Sea Islands
      Even though not a single seat was empty in the conference room, not a single sound was audible. Ever since the foundation of the Elegy Megacorporation on January 1st, 2018, millions of people have been waiting for the next big thing. Superconcrete revolutionised the world of construction forevermore, but since then, things have been suspiciously quiet. There have been no leaks or similar incidents that would spoil today's event and it was clearly visible that the authors of wild internet theories were groping in the dark. This is why everyone was so excited for today's conference. Then, finally, dim lights in Elegy's signature hot pink began illuminating the room. One bald, thin man was standing on the stage.

      "Greetings, my friends! I am happy to see that so many of you came to listen to an old man ramble for 45 minutes." It was Stephan Tasks, the Chief Executive Officer of Elegy.
      "Truly, today is a historic date. This is the beginning of a true software revolution. This week dark figures for domestic violence and abuse made the headlines. But what if I told you that there is another set of crimes that you are virtually unprotected against? I am talking about cyber crimes. Common operating systems and browsers fail to protect you against identity theft, fraud and all sorts of other digital felonies.
      When Elegy bought Future Tech earlier this year, we acquired the rights to the most common personal computer operating system of the nation. Furthermore, since we are the ones who produce the soft- and hardware for the Synapse System, we have learned a lot about safety and security. And since we, Elegy, care about you, our family, we are concerned about your security. It is time for us to show you that we care about you not only when you're in the streets, but also when you're online.
      In cooperation with both the government of the Radiant Republic of the Sunset Sea Islands and the Synapse System, we have created a new, official operating system for the citizens of the SSI. Here, take a look at...

      Panopticon Operating System, or PanOS for short, is the most secure operating system the world has ever seen. The list of features we built in to keep you safe is way too long to recite up here. The number of bullet points about security features is 1606, if you're interested, but here's the gist of it:
      PanOS is connected to the central Sunset Sea Islandian citizen database. Upon first bootup it requires the user to log in using their ValID account. As their ID and password is individual and unique, the device becomes useless if a thief decides to nick it. We fully utilise the additional security features ValID offers: compatibility with fingerprint sensors, as more and more devices come with such sensors, iris scanners, 3D face unlocking algorithms and even infrared vein scanners. Did you know that the blood vessels in your body create an individual, threedimensional pattern is unique for you and only you? Well, now you know, and you can use that knowledge to make your life a big chunk safer! Should your device not have any of these functions, all of the mentioned scanners can be bough in our online and offline stores at a very fair prize.
      Furthermore, PanOS features a virtually impermeable firewall. The built-in system scans every website you visit for viruses or other digital maladies. Also, should a cyber criminal try to commit a crime using a PanOS system, the Synapse System is notified immediately! How cool is that?! Not only does PanOS make your life safer, it makes the life of criminals harder as well!

      But I haven't told you about the coolest thing yet: PanOS will be available as a completely free update on your computer right now! So go ahead and join us and become a part of the crimeless society!
      Soon, we will stop supporting older versions of our operating systems, as it should be pretty clear by now what kind of huge security risk they pose. We are happy to have gotten this opportunity to cooperate with the Synapse System and the government of the Radiant Republic of the Sunset Sea Islands to make your life safer."
      Tasks takes a break and sips from a glass of water. The crowd is cheering and applauding, thousands of camera flashes make the room look like the heart of a thunderstorm. Then, Tasks smirks. The crowd goes quiet immediately. He inhales and says three short words:

      "One more thing..." The crowd loses its mind. The magic words have fallen. Whenever this short sentence is uttered at the end of an Elegy presentation one thing becomes clear: everything that Tasks was talking about up until this point was only small news. What could possibly be more important than the single largest revolution in digital security? Then, a ringtone. "Whose is that?" Tasks asks. The crowd goes quiet, heads turn, but the ringing continues. "Oh, right." Tasks says. "It's mine." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a smartphone. The crowd explodes. Their excitement eclipses everything that has happened during the press conference so far. "If you want to, I can tell you some things about this baby, or you can just keep celebrating!" Tasks jokes. Slowly, the cheering fades and stops completely, after Tasks raised his arms to calm the audience down. The giant screen behind the small, bald man lights up and reveals the ElePhone.

      "The ElePhone", Tasks explains, "brings PanOS into the palm of your hand. It is a machine created especially for the needs of the Sunset Sea Islandian citizen. The ultra high definition screen is almost completely seemless, with the largest screen-to-body-ratio the world has ever seen. Looking at a picture on your ElePhone is like holding a window to a different place in your hand. However, not only is the screen super cool, it hides a couple of other cool features underneath itself! There's a fingerprint sensor underneath the screen so make biometric identification a breeze. Since some users, including myself, to be honest, prefer a fingerprint scanner on the back of the device, we've put another one just there. By the way, that scanner is the only place on the phone we've put any branding on. Furthermore, we've hidden a top-notch front-facing selfie camera and three-dimensional face identification sensors underneath the top of the screen. It'll be like looking into a mirror when you take that selfie for your Wittier feed or record that Whine, since you won't even see the camera underneath the OLED screen! Look, you can even count my bear hears on that selfie!"
      A selfie of Tasks is shown on the screen behind him. It shows his face from a weird frog perspective as he pushes his chin to the front. Each and every hair is clearly discernable. The audience laughs. "Just for fun, we've counted my beard hair." A tiny number pops up on every hair. "There are three thousand and seventeen of them." After a short laughing break, Tasks continues.
      "Naturally, the rear camera takes the cake. The dual lense system with AI-supported software takes the sharpest pictures ever recorded on a smartphone. It is the perfect tool for capturing that sunset over the Fallingstar Sea when you're done surfing for the day.
      To know exactly how your day will be before it even begins, we introduce live updates on your home screen. You can use all that screen real estate to display the information you need to seize the day. In our example, my neice, Hannah Nguyen, uses it to display calendar events, like her friend Chrissie's birthday, the weather- and the crime forecast supported by the Synapse System, her parents track her exact location in case anything unfortunate happens and below that you can see an ENN news feed and what's hottest on Wittier right now.
      But what I like best about the ElePhone is its design: it is a true monolith. There are no buttons or ports anywhere on the device, except for the SIM tray, which is long enough for two SIM cards and expandable storage, should the internal 64GB of storage not be enough for your dank memes. The device comes with a wireless charging stand and is compatible with all types of Bluetooth headsets. You can even pair our infrared vein scanners over Bluetooth! Volume rockers are hidden under the right edge, so you can still comfortably adjust the volume of those sick beats. Oh, I forgot to mention, the powerful speakers are hidden and linked to the ElePhone's body to use its structure for resonance! This design makes the ElePhone completely dirt and waterproof, so go ahead and record that epic jump from the ten metre springboard!
      To come to an end, since I'm sure that by now I'm boring y'all with my ramblings, naturally, the creme de la creme of smartphone components are hidden under the brushed aluminium and Gorilla Glass hood, available in a plethra of pretty colour schemes. The processor is fast, the battery lasts all day long and, say it with me, the ElePhone goes on sale for 650 Sols right..."
      "NOW!!!" the audience shouts. Another lightning storm erupts as Tasks leaves the stage.
      Over the course of the following days media is abuzz with the news, PanOS registers dozens of millions of downloads and people line up day and night in front of dealerships that carry the ElePhone, including the Elegy flagship stores. Once more, Elegy Megacorporation has managed to revolutionise the tech world.
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    • Inspecting the Troops: Part 1 Garenah: a vibrant farming community amongst dozens that dotted the Aihai, fertile plains of waving grain and abundant fruit and citrus trees. Though most people here were farmers, it was the headquarters the 10th Legion. At the gates of the vast military base swayed the eagle banners. The sun was shining and a car approached - Morror Kassus decided to inspect the troops. "General Approaching! (Daeus mreiyar!)" echoed throughout the camp. The guards at the gates stood at attention and saluted to their hero as he drove by. Soldiers lined the road that ran the length of the complex. It was double-walled and at the center: Kassus's headquarters, the legion's treasury, and armory. With Morror was Kalenna, the most senior colonel, and the commanding officer of the veteran 1st Regiment. Alongside them was Antor Relek, the senior centurion. Morror commented, "the soldiers seem restless," speaking to the two. "They want to get into the fight," Relek responded. Soldiers both new and old cheered as they passed. "They'll all have their chance, soon enough," Kassus said in kind, Kalenna interjected, "the Praetor is being foolish for not using us in the Enolian campaign, we're the most experienced legion in the entire Army and what are they doing? Sitting around, doing nothing." Morror stopped her. "The 10th will play a part. Do not despair. We'll have an opportunity to remind the People of our valor." He glanced out the car and saw one formation. "Driver, pull over." The car came to a halt and the three got out. In front of them was a ter'val, led by a recently promoted centurion. "What is your name sergeant?" "Omal Takvi sir," he responded. "Centurion Relek spoke highly of you," commented Kassus. "Are you and your men when the call to serve is made?" "Yes sir! Just say the word and my men and those of our company will march to glory." "Good man," Morror said, "Relek, give these men an extra ration tonight," he instructed. Antor nodded and took note to talk with the kitchens. The three get back in the car and continued inwards. After passing several more barracks, they reached the gates of the inner compound, guarded by the 'Guards of the Fort' (Moriari ih'Sæmna), his personal bodyguard, made up of only the most veteran men in the entire army unit. Awaiting them in front of his headquarters was the Weaponsmaster (Rianov) and the other regimental colonels. "How was your drive the capital," asked one of the gathered. "Rather quiet," he responded, "helped me to just enjoy the scenery," getting out of the car, "but enough idle chatter, everyone, please come in," he ordered. Inside the two-story building, of stucco and tiled roof, was Kassus's more spartan home away from his home in Rateg. His quarters were above while the main conference room, communications office, and other offices were on the ground floor. The conference table had been prepared: papers bound, tablets linked. Two pots of Maurdivian coffee were primed. They had been called to discuss internal troop readiness and information obtained by Kassus from General Rendak concerning the Enolian conflict. "We have a great deal to talk about, take your seats..." The meeting would last three hours. "...while we are not 'actively' deployed, I want all units to be at the ready until further notice," instructed Kassus. "All units will maintain a twice-daily training program, and all units will participate in a shooting range exercise every week." The Weaponsmaster began drawing up a schedule. "I want all regiments to have readiness reports daily, any questions?" Colonel Joras Morek of the 4th Regiment spoke up, "the Praetor needs to deploy us now. The 8th Legion is in no position to take Duronom. It's like you said, the conflict will drag on if we cannot take out their supply chain, being fed by dubious Asgeirrians." "The Phi'Tlaru are currently tracking down those individuals and negate that situation. I told Colonel Varak this in the car ride out here, the Legion will have its opportunity. Soon enough." Seeing no further questions, he dismissed the group. He watched each of them leave, stopping Colonel Imos Durak of the 7th Regiment. "Congratulations on your engagement to Dara." Imos thanked him, "most appreciated," he responded. "Getting married next year in sight of Karethvek." Morror cared about his men from the senior staff to the lowest soldier. He knew the power of loyalty and it was that bond that made his legion the best in the entire army. After the other colonels had left, all who remained were in the Weaponsmaster and Colonel Varak. "There are two further pieces of business to discuss, the first involves you Avor," looking at the camp's foremost logistician. "I have forwarded funds to Sukkar Marrus, the CEO of Aishkurænd Rheilhhu Rihana, to procure production rights to a range of weaponry from Adaptus which will give us an edge over our enemies, can you please follow up with Sukkar and get that effort moving as quickly as possible?" Weaponsmaster Nerik nodded in acknowledgment. "I looked at the specs you had gotten from Minister Valdran last time and they are quite nice. It will give us a tremendous advantage over the Enolian Guard. If we can't get the rights, I'll see what we can do about outfitting as many of the men as possible with them." Morror was content and excused him. And then there was Varak, "for the last piece of business, it's not martial - it's political," he said. She nodded. "I have Kaya looking into Senator Charvanek's activities," Kalenna reported. "It is always good to have some friends in the Phi'Tlaru," commented Morror, "Livana will need to be dealt with, eventually." Varak put Morror at ease. "Don't worry. Kaya has never failed you." Kassus smiled. He liked hearing that. "Then I'll leave it to you to get to bottom of, we'll talk more on it when she has some dirt," he remarked. Kalenna proceeded to get up and was almost out of the conference room when she stopped and turned back her superior, who was now getting surrounded by officers feeding him intelligence packets and memos from Central Command. She stared at him, imposed against the massive map in the background. She said to herself, "a true leader."
    • Capital City Officially Renamed The Mayor of Cinigrad Avery Ray and Vice-President Turner in an combined federal and local broadcast announced that the Federal District of of Cinigrad would unified with the bordering city of Farbanti, a part of the State of November Island, combining into the Federal District of Cinigrad-Farbanti. Effective Immediately, the area of and around Farbanti has been ceded to the Capital District. Farbanti, once one of the most powerful of the Youtabonian city-states, has now been bordered by Cinigrad with little to no dividing lines between them. Talks of annexation began as early the 1980's but had been stalled due to "cultural history" but talks progressed in late 2018 when Cinigradi officials offered to rename the city and district to include both names, and the funding for a Farbanti historical and cultural museum.
    • "...this is Borak with today's headline news. The Health Ministry (Hifvarhdæsn), led by Doctor Lora Jildon, will begin investing 6.5 billion Chaks over 5 years in major hospitals, local clinics, optimized patient flows, new medical technology, and essential research into advanced treatments and medicines. Jildon stated that her Ministry was still developing a more comprehensive budget for the Republic's healthcare service, the Dræd'et, and will present her recommendation to the relevant Senate committee next month..." "...Kovex Heavy Industries (Diadænzohem u'Kovex) has been selected by the Rateg City Council (Ekhiel ih'Sivas Rateg) to construct 100,000 units of proper housing. The area that will be developed has long been considered a slum by the local authorities. Rateg's population is expected to grow over the next decade, like many of the major urban centers of Rihan, and the Council insisted that it needed to get ahead of the curve. This also coincides with the anticipation of the construction of over two dozen factories hiring nearly 75,000 employees over the same time period. Residents have been assured by the authorities that they will be consulted on the project over its lifespan. Local police units were called in to maintain order in the city center..." "...our brave men and woman continue their advance into Enolia, having achieved victory after victory against the cowardly and uncivilized Enolians. Soldiers of the 8th Legion have made good progress along the coast while their colleagues in the 3rd Legion are moving east in the Thalak Hills. Each legion's key objectives have been made confidential at this time but elements of the Navy's expeditionary fleet was seen leaving port early this morning, indicating they will be playing a role in the ongoing conflict. The Defense Ministry has asked all loyal citizens to keep our soldiers in their thoughts and to make donations towards supporting our forces in the field..."
    • Name of Company: Grindr Coffee LLC Type of Business: Harvesting, processing, resale of whole-bean coffee; grounded instant coffee; recycling Nation of Origin: Oris province, Asehayi region, Orioni What is to be manufactured at MTIZ? Roasting, grading for the Argic market, storage Number of Workers to be recruited locally: 200 Number of visiting workers to be based there: 50
    • Mathon paid attention to every single word Eugenios had said. "A mission sounds modest but there is nothing saying it couldn't elevate to a proper embassy in due time. I merely propose such a minor step in the name of protecting both my own actions here in Rihan and for the Emperor who I am sure will have to deal with some level of criticism from the Church that doesn't exactly...approve of us. I think the cultural exchange is a good mechanism to test the waters under the auspices of a proper arrangement and if successful, it would warrant much more 'coordinated' deliberations." "I may need the militant Jaridan and the deviously wealthy Nej'ahar to get many of my proposals through but when they consist of men and woman who would rather take a blunt approach to solve a problem - either through the barrel of a rifle or through the sacks of money - it isn't always the right method. Now, as you are aware, I am a military man myself, a long career in the Navy before being appointed the Praetorship, this sounds counter. I may be a political man now, and surely you may not believe what I am about to say but I never 'clawed' for the position. I accepted it because it was my duty to serve. I do not formally pronounce my political alignments in the Senate in the name of safeguarding the Republic - above all. The Suketh may be a small contingent of the Senate membership, they are right. I privately consulted many of them in the early days of my tenure - and this meeting is the product of such discussion and debate." "Rihan may be as far away as the rest of Eurth and it some ways, that is a good thing in the name of maintaining the stability of the Republic, but as you said, no one nation survives on its own. Since my ascention to the position, I've taken far greater steps at continental affairs than many Praetors before me, only concerning themselves with Aurelia overall when there was a situation that was too...complex for our own address. Today, the Rihannsu and Kirvinska are as close as we've ever been. The Phi'Tlaru has been quite useful in probing the wider globe in keeping us abreast of developments abroad. I do respect Arhomaneia cause of keeping Europa at least at some level of stability," another boost few other Praetors would say unless it was meant to get something, "and I am aware of a great many things many governments would not like us to know," he gave a slight chuckle. "In regards to the cultural exchange," he moved towards the first trigger that would reconnect former complements, "the definitive program would probably center around nationally-sponsored trips. I'd like to say we could do an exposition but I have the sense that many in the Church who may want to suppress some of our 'creativity' but I think you can work out the final format with Senator Pranana and the Civilization Minister. Obviously embarking on this type of arrangement would involve some revisions in visa policy between us and the establishment of protocols that our two nations would uphold in the spirit of making this a success." He knew Eugenios would bring up the one difficulty in pulling such an exchange up. "You do not need to apologize for being flippant," he began, "I don't think these exchanges would be quite so 'popular' but perhaps targeting them to particularly 'enlightened' individuals - academics, of culture. Yes, there will be detractors, as will be the case here, but nothing should stop us from making a complete attempt. And I am prepared to spend political capital to make it happen. I am by far a more liberal politician than you may find in the Senate. Yes, the three-hundred men and woman of the chamber will be a challenge. But I've succeeded in getting numerous reforms through in some rather unconventional ways." Terix had noticed at this point that the coffee pot was empty following Eugenios' pouring a final cup. Mathon quickly moved it out of the way to a side table. "It will be hard. But," he paused, leaning back in his chair, templing his hands, making his guest curious about the hand gesture. "Recognition must happen. And it will happen." The clock, placed on the opposite of the room, struck ten. The moon shined brightly in the sky, the crescent fully visible in the cloudless night.