Cycle 212 saw action return to the Simyr bubble, though with more hauling and less shooting than before. Because of Zemina Torval’s expansion to the nearby system of Dechengh, Simyr is now no longer the jewel it once was. Of the powers, only Shadow President Felicia Winters can make a moderate profit from it, while removing 59 Command Capital from Torval, and so cycle 212 started with a 21,000 merit preparation by Winters. Princess Aisling Duval leapt to the defence of her fellow Imperial power and put her preparation efforts into Simyr to stop Winters damaging Torval. Winters declined to be drawn into a preparation race, but Duval’s saboteurs gave her a scare by putting 110,000 merits into their usual target of HIP 1572, requiring Duval to put 130,000 merits into Simyr to beat them. The expansion is probably just a tactic to delay Winters: the triggers are 6:1 against, Duval has made no effort to push it, and winning would cost Duval 40 CC and Torval 59 CC.

 

Meanwhile, Torval was busy winning two weaponised expansions into Winters space. Imperial haulers pulled out all the stops to win Kappa, with massive fighting the whole cycle. A combined total of 550,000 merits on both sides resulted in a win for Torval, and while it cost her 35 CC, it contests 58 CC with Winters. A late push in LHS 2265 secured the expansion there, costing Torval 70 CC and Winters 55 CC. Increasing overheads and the cost of these weaponised expansions has pushed Torval into a deficit of 289 CC, and it is unclear how long she can keep up this pace of attack. This cycle she has an expansion in HIP 29716 which would cost her 44 CC, remove 6 CC from Li Yong-Rui, and further eat into Simyr’s profitable bubble – however the triggers are against Torval and at the time of writing neither side has made any significant attempt to secure the expansion.

 

Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval had early problems with saboteurs attempting to prepare the massively unprofitable system of Murare, but later in the cycle pushed a preparation of HIP 53719 which would give her 2 CC. However it faces heavy opposition and the expansion is currently trailing by 59,000 merits.

 

Instead of continuing to race the Princess in Simyr, Winters chose to focus on her expansion into the highly profitable system of Nunuri, winning with a total of 250,000 merits hauled. Nunuri has only a single habitation – the outpost of Watson Colony – meaning that Federal commanders were forced to haul it all through a single medium pad, making over 1000 trips in Pythons under hostile fire from Imperial interceptors.

 

Cmdr Brantford of the Federal Liberal Command said “We started the haul to Nunuri thinking we’d see immediate massive undermining opposition – it’s a really profitable system. But I guess they never thought we’d be serious about an expansion to a single medium pad – we’d have to be crazy to try, right? By the time they realized we were exactly that crazy, we had a massive lead. We had a decent number of combat interceptions, but they never brought their A-game, and the Pythons kept on trucking.”

 

This cycle Winters is fighting back, putting the weaponised system of HIP 44811 up for expansion. This would cost her 23 CC, but cost Lavigny-Duval 69 CC and Torval 16 CC. There is intense fighting in the expansion and while the triggers are strongly in Winters favour, it is currently tied.

 

President Zachary Hudson quietly prepared the system of Lenty. By default it loses him 3 CC, but with fortification can make a profit. The expansion is currently leading by 87,000 merits with only moderate resistance.

 

Archon Delaine’s pirates continue to ping-pong between Atata and Tai Quambis with little effect. Li Yong-Rui and Yuri Grom were faced with significant Fifth Column preps before managing to consolidate, and all other powers chose to consolidate rather than prepare systems for expansion.

 

Sagittarius Eye Breaking News team

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