The forces of Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval and SimGuru Pranav Antal both came very close to turmoil at the end of the last cycle — in each case, one more undermined system would have been enough to push them into turmoil, although not enough to do serious damage. However, as a result neither has enough Command Capital (CC) to prepare any systems this cycle, nor will they have any strengthened undermining triggers next cycle. Although both have long-standing rivals — the Kumo Crew pirates for Antal, and the Federation for Lavigny-Duval — no one has taken credit for these attacks. Speaking on behalf of senior Antal pilots, Cmdr Bashy said: “For certain, those who attack us in force are setting in motion events that cannot be contained, for we will not go quietly into the night.”

 

At the same time, the Emperor continues to struggle with potential sabotage. Having been forced to accept two loss-making systems in previous cycles, a change of tactic resulted in preparing and then expanding to L 206-187. While also a lossmaker, it contested a large amount of CC from President Zachary Hudson, and with triggers firmly against it, the expansion was duly and safely crushed by half a million merits. This cycle sees a potential repeat but with the system of LHS 184, costing Lavigny-Duval 56 CC but contesting Hudson for 55 CC. Although the triggers are more even, at the time of writing opposition is at a solid 58,000 merits.

 

Senator Zemina Torval is the other Imperial attempting expansion at the moment. In the last cycle her usual attempt at expansion into Areklici faced much tougher triggers than before due to the changing political landscape in its local bubble, and was again defeated by a comfortable 160,000 merits. This cycle Torval is attempting expansion into Biham, costing her 63 CC, Pirate King Archon Delaine 54 CC, and Hudson 21 CC.  Although triggers are slightly favourable for expansion, the opposition currently has a modest lead of 18,000 merits.

 

Meanwhile the Federation powers continue their run of successes, both taking advantage of systems lost by Yuri Grom’s turmoil in previous cycles. President Hudson overcame strong triggers and opposition to take the system of Col 285 Sector CY-N b21-0 by 52,000 merits, making him 28 CC richer, but contesting 11 CC from Antal, further souring already strained relations between the two powers.

 

Shadow President Felicia Winters also took the profitable ex-Grom system of Lundji, winning by a similar margin, but against far less enthusiastic opposition. Winters is currently expanding to the system of Baal yet again, but this is expected to be a “safe placeholder” expansion to prevent sabotage — it is heavily-weaponised against Lavigny-Duval with strong opposition triggers, and the last two times Winters attempted it, she made no real effort. At the time of writing, neither side has put significant effort into it, and by default it will fail.

 

Yuri Grom’s forces continue to exhibit chaotic behaviour. Last cycle they successfully expanded to Meidubi, using very favourable triggers to win by a huge margin with a total of 170,000 merits. However the system costs Grom 68 CC, and only contests 24 CC from Edmund Mahon, raising suspicions of sabotage. This cycle four systems are in the process of expansion — Belu, Eta Scorpii, Skogulumari, and Volungu. Together they would cost Grom 244 CC per cycle, and only contest 84 CC from Hudson, 45 CC from Mahon, 10 CC from Winters, and most puzzling 8 CC from fellow ZYADA-alliance-member Lavigny-Duval. It is becoming increasingly clear that the bulk of the forces flying for the power are not being controlled by Grom and are either confused by disinformation or actively working against him, and there is no sign of this situation improving in the near term.

 

At the time of writing the only strong moves in preparation of systems not neutralised by consolidation are suspected to be acts of sabotage. These preparations by Grom, Li Yong-Rui, and Torval are all extremely costly and hurt others (in some cases allies) only mildly. The powers will need to either push another preparation above them in priority, consolidate strongly, or face the prospect of having to ask other powers to oppose them in expansion.

 

As always, much can and will change near the end of the cycle — keep your eyes on the GalNet boards and remember to double-check your maths.

 

Sagittarius Eye Breaking News team

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