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Time to set your sights on the stars and let me, Callie C, shine a light on everything you need to know about today’s hottest socialites and celebrities. Turns out they’re just like the rest of us, only attired in more fetching threads. Welcome to StarWatch!

Let’s begin with the hot topic currently setting spectrum aflame. Boyce Baudin is back! But don’t you dare call him “Babyface” anymore. The beloved comedic actor with the cherubic visage disappeared from the public eye for months, canceling several spectrum appearances without warning. Rumors swirled that the notoriously hard partying prankster might’ve finally allowed his cravings to control him. Now we know, thankfully, that wasn’t the case. But many of Boyce’s longtime fans are less than pleased with the real reason for his self-imposed sabbatical…

Turns out that Baudin couldn’t deny the call of the Calliope. The actor felt his signature look was keeping him from landing the leading roles he truly desired, so he became the latest celeb to get the BiotiCorp reboot. Bye bye rosy red cheeks and round chin; hello chiseled cheekbones and devastating jawline. I believe the desired outcome was “ruggedly handsome,” but to my eyes it’s more “rough around the edges.”

Initial reactions to Baudin’s new appearance on spectrum were savage. Some of Baudin’s most dedicated devotees spun wild theories to explain the change, including one group convinced he’s going to yell “Triggerfish!” at any moment. From what I’m hearing, the star may be wishing that the new look had been a prank. Sources close to the bygone babyface claim he’s despondent about the public’s reaction and has been debating restoring his classic countenance. Let this be a lesson to all those stars considering similar procedures; sometimes perfection has a price.

Now, let’s go to a “say it ain’t so” scenario. There’s a new headline crashing its way out of Oso that kid-vid heartthrob Sindre Alby has been arrested for an unprovoked attack on a civilian ship. Representatives for the former star insist that Alby’s intentions were honorable and that the incident is nothing more than an unfortunate misunderstanding.

Alby rose to fame for his role as the mysterious yet sensitive stock clerk in Open for Business, one of my fav vids growing up and still my go-to drunk rewatch. Of course, we all remember when, at the height of the show’s popularity, Alby quit the show and acting entirely to go fight for animal rights across the Empire. Be still my beating teen heart!

He’s been at it for a while now, making vids and leading protests to raise awareness, but I guess this time he might have taken the fight too far.

Sources say the handsome heartbreaker had taken up with a watchdog group dedicated to staking out the Oso system and scanning ships to ensure Osoians aren’t being smuggled out. When Alby became convinced a vessel travelling well off the system’s normal shipping lanes was smuggling the protected creatures, he reported it to the local authorities. Though he was explicitly told not to engage, Alby got nervous when the ship’s quantum drive began to spool and decided to blow their main thrusters to bits. When the authorities finally arrived at the scene and boarded, guess what they found? Nothing illegal! Not a single cute Osoian! Nothing! They arrested Alby and the rest of the activists on the spot for attacking a civilian vessel.

Sure, Alby didn’t follow proper procedures, and the family aboard the ship suffered some injuries, but no one died. The former actor has promised to replace the damaged ship and pay all medical costs, but he’s still facing serious charges. Are you kidding? If you ask me, the ‘verse needs more valiant individuals like Alby who are dedicated to the greater good.

Fans of the former star have already started a “Free Alby” campaign to advocate for his release. I’ve pledged my support and so should you, so Alby can go free… and maybe star in the Open for Business reboot.

Enough with all this serious stuff. It’s time to have some fun!

It takes only one look at me to see that fashion is a passion. I’m not afraid to admit that the longest and most important relationship in my life is with a pair of Venti Penrose suede pumps. For me, it’s an expression of individuality and a way to stand out from the crowd.

That’s why, when I’m not scooping scandals, I’m scouring spectrum for all the hottest trends. To help me assess the latest looks, I’m joined again by my fab friend and fashionista, Nisco Hobbins.

Nisco Hobbins: Thank you, Calcee. I love being here almost, almost as much as I love OpalSky’s new line.

Stop it. Didn’t you call last year’s fall look, “chintzy casual clothes for those too rich to shop at Casaba?”

Nisco Hobbins: In my defense, I’m not paid to pull punches. My job is to form fashion opinions based on my gut reaction and years of experience. Expressing honest, cutting comments is what got my butt a spot on this show, you know.

And won your way into my heart… which I’m now reconsidering.

Nisco Hobbins: How dare you?

I just don’t understand how adding stuff like a subtle paw print pattern to the same boring and basic clothes suddenly converted you?

Nisco Hobbins: What? I can’t change my mind?

Only if you back it up by wearing OpalSky’s new line the next time you’re on the show.

Nisco Hobbins: Done and done.

Before I reconsider ever asking Nisco back on the show, let’s talk about what I think is the hottest new trend… gems, gems, and more gems.

Nisco Hobbins: Are you talking about those new Laren’zo designed dresses?

So amazing, aren’t they?

Nisco Hobbins: I almost don’t even know what to think.

This boldly beautiful new look from Republic of One features gems sewn into the seams around the peekaboo panels. It provides this mesmerizing sparkle and an eye-catching pop of color that is incredible.

Nisco Hobbins: It’s ostentatious. It’s shocking. And I love every damn thing about it.

The fashion house is even pitching these dresses as a potential heirloom quality asset. So, if you like keeping a little physical wealth around, a dress encrusted with gems isn’t a bad option.

Nisco Hobbins: So true, ‘cause from what I heard, these handcrafted pieces are mondo expensivo. I’m already debating which organ to sell so I can afford one.

You heard about what they had to do to make their first run, right?

Nisco Hobbins: No, what?

Republic hired a bunch of independent miners to hunt down exactly the stones they needed.

Nisco Hobbins: Big thanks to all those out there making this ‘verse a more beautiful place! You did your part for the greater good.

Now, all I need is someone to send me one to wear on the show. Wink, wink.

Nisco Hobbins: Winking doesn’t work that way.

Guess we’ll see.

Nisco Hobbins: Honey, trust me, Laren’zo is not watching this show.

Stop crushing my spirit, or I’ll have Ravi mute your mic.

Nisco Hobbins: Love you, Laren’zo! Your new line embraces the entire Republic aesthetic while also giving it an intriguing new spin. Just like what OpalSky did.

What’s going on here? Are you getting paid by the plug?

Nisco Hobbins: Can I be honest?

That’s a loaded question.

Nisco Hobbins: I hate OpalSky’s new line. I just wanted to have a little fun. Please don’t make me wear their clothes on your show.

Oh! You are so bad! We might have some Opal lying around here that I should make you wear for the second half of this segment.

Nisco Hobbins: You wouldn’t.

Better keep your eyes here, watchers. There’s more StarWatch coming up after this quick break.

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Walt watched the big bay doors close as the last of Gavin’s team left the hangar. His fighter and the few remaining ships looked small and awkwardly out of place in the big room. Standing alone next to Dell gave him a great appreci­ation for that awkwardness.

“I’m so sorry, Dell. If I’d been there —”

“Don’t,” she stopped him with a word, and then contin­ued with a shake of her blue-tipped hair. “Don’t do that to yourself. I’ve been over the tactical logs. He got beat one-on-one, and then they OK’d him. There was nothing you could have done.”

“I still feel rotten,” he said. “Like, maybe if I hadn’t left . . . I don’t know.”

“Gavin blames himself, too. That’s just the way you two are built. But believe me, there was never a soul alive able to keep my dad out of the cockpit. He was flying long before you Rhedd boys tumbled into our lives.”

That gave him a smile. A genuine smile. It seemed to bright­en Dell’s mood, so he did his best to hang onto it.

“Come on,” she said. “It’s been a long couple of weeks. Join me for some coffee?”

He did, and for a time they spoke softly at the tall tables in the hangar’s kitchenette. Dell caught him up on life aboard Vista Landing since he had left. She was clearly exhausted and not simply from a sleepless night and her father’s funeral. Her shoulders sagged, and dark circles under her eyes were the product of weeks of labor and worry. The constant apprehension of the Hornets’ vi­cious attacks had apparently exhausted more than just the pilots. It seemed odd that the attacks felt strangely personal.

“You know what I can’t figure out?” he mused aloud. Dell looked at him, tired eyes politely expectant. “What the hell are these guys after?”

She nodded, “Yeah. There’s been a lot of speculating on that question.”

“And?”

“Hard to say, isn’t it? Could be political wackos opposed to the research in Haven. Or maybe it’s one of the old gangs that don’t like us going legit. Could be it’s a group of Tevarin lashing out against UEE targets. Who knows?”

“Naw. If they were Tevarin, we could tell by how they fly.”

“Then you tell me, if you’re so smart. I mean, you were out there. You fought them.”

Walt shrugged and took a sip of cooling coffee. Something she said nagged at him. “Hey, you said you had navsat tac­tical logs from the fight, right?”

“Yeah.” What remained of her energy seemed to drain away with that one word. Walt cursed himself for the insensitive ass that he was. He’d just asked her about re­corded replays of her father’s murder.

“Dell. Ah, hell . . . I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “I’ve been over and over them already. Really, I don’t mind.”

They moved to a console and the lights dimmed automat­ically when she pulled up the hangar projection. She se­lected a ship, and oriented the view so that the hologram of Boomer’s Avenger filled the display. No, Walt reminded himself, it wasn’t Boomer’s ship any more. Dell was his heir and — along with his debt — Boomer’s assets now belonged to her.

Dell bypassed the default display of the structural hard­points and dove into the ship’s systems. Something caught his eye and he stopped her. “Wait, back up.” She did, and Walt stopped the rotating display to look along the under­carriage of the ship. He let out a low whistle.

“That, Walter Rhedd, is a Tarantula GT-870 Mk3.”

“I know what it is. But where did you get it?”

“Remember those pirates that gave us so much trouble in Oberon? I pulled it before we sold the salvage.”

He certainly did remember, and the bastards had kicked the crap out of two of their ships with their Tarantulas. “How’d you get it mounted on an Avenger?”

“Hammer therapy,” she said. He gave her a confused look, and she held up one arm, curling it to make a muscle. “I beat the hell out of it until it did what I wanted.”

“Damn, girl.”

“Did you want to see the flight recorder?”

They watched the navsat replays together in silence. It looked like one hell of a fight. Chaotic. Frantic. The Rhedd Alert fighters were hard pressed.

Jazza had moments of tactical brilliance. As much as she rubbed him the wrong way, Walt had to admit that she made her Cutlass dance steps for which it wasn’t de­signed. Gavin orchestrated a coherent strategy and had committed extra fighters to drive off the attack. Some­thing was wrong, though. Something about the fight didn’t make sense.

Walt had Dell replay the scene so he could focus on the marauders. It didn’t look like much of a fight at all from that perspective. It looked more like a game and only one team understood how all the pieces moved. The Hornets flew to disrupt, to confuse. They knew Gavin would send a force forward to protect the transport. He’d done it every time they had met.

“See that?” he said. “They break apart there and get called immediately back into formation. They never leave a flank exposed. Our guys never get a real opening.” He pointed out one of the attacking Hornets. “That one calls the shots.”

“That’s the one that OK’d Boomer.”

Reds and greens from the navsat display sparkled in Dell’s eyes. Her voice was emotionless and flat. Walt didn’t want to see her like that, so he focused again on the display.

The marauder he’d identified as the leader broke from the melee. Gavin gave chase, but from too far behind. Boomer intercepted, was disabled, and his PRB flashed red on the display. The Hornet took a pass at the transport before turning to rejoin its squad. Then it decelerated, pausing before the overkill on Boomer.

“Why take only one pass at the transport? They’ve hit us, what? Six times? Seven? And once they finally get a shot at the target, they bug out?”

“You said, ‘us’,” Dell teased. “You back to stay?”

Walt huffed a small laugh. “We’ll see.”

“We’ve been lucky,” Dell offered in answer to his question. “So far, we’ve chased them off.”

“You really believe that? They had this fight won if they wanted it. And how do they keep finding us? It’s like they’ve taken up permanent residence in our damned flight path.”

That was it. He had it. The revelation must have shown on his face.

“What?” Dell asked. “What is it?”

“Back it up to the strafe on the Aquila.”

Dell did, and they watched it again. He felt like an ass for making her watch the murder of her father over again, but he had to be sure of what he saw.

And there it was. Strafe. Turn. Pause. A decision to com­mit. An escalating act of brutality. And then they were gone.

“She’s not after the transport at all. We were her target this whole time.”

“Wait,” Dell said, “what she? Her who?”

“Please tell me your ex hasn’t drunk himself out of a job with the Navy.”

“Barry? Of course not, why?”

“Because I just figured out who killed your father.”

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In addition to the compile-time analysis tool developed last month, they finalized an add-in tool to generate optimal uber file sets and, as a result, reshuffled game uber files for even better compile times.

Work also began on a physics debugger that will allow the team to record issues, play them back, freeze time, etc. to help understand and speed up fixing complex physics issues.

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