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Strategos (A Great Captain Roberts Tale!!)

Chapter 20 - Beyond Strength

"Lord Captain…

…Bartholemew Inslee the VIIth got this job because of two things: his ancestor, Captain Bart Inslee the First was the commanding officer of the SLS Lynnwood, an Warship of the Essex II-class Destroyer that was assigned to the attached battlegroup for the 9th CAAN regiment, and he didn't disobey the order to remain instead of joining in the chaos of the Amaris Crisis.

Essex Class Destroyer (Matt Plog)

Essex II Class Destroyer, SLS Lynnwood

The other reasons were because he was the senior direct descendant, didn't get space-sick, wasn't too overweight to fit in a space suit, and could actually grasp the duties. Unlike his Uncle, (Bartholemew the VIth) he wasn't too proud to admit he wasn't the sharpest mind that could hold the job-that distinction went to cousin Sarah, whose role in Tithe collection and harvesting was normally more vital to the survival of the family than a largely ceremonial role commanding a warship that spends most of its time in dock when not on exercise or parade duty.

He liked to think of himself as 'one of the Lads', but he had no illusions about superior skills or ability. He was simply fortunate in that the assigned crew were slightly less capable than himself in the role.

He'd never expected to have movement to contact orders with a combat header on them. Not real ones, not with real munitions against a live enemy.

But Bart is a loyal man, if not the brightest, and Johnson was nominally Winston held territory, but Winston got himself executed for incompetence by the Basileus, leaving the Innslees to cover that area until a new Winston heir could actually qualify for duty.

"How long until you have finished checks, Herby?" he asked his acting engineer, a lesser cousin named Herbert Innslee, whose great-grandmother was a Refugee and whose mind was, at least, focused most of the time.

"It's going to be another twenty hours, Sir," Herbert answered, "I can't make the bloody BITE systems run tests faster, and we're still loading live ammunition from the stocks."

"Keep me apprised."

Twenty hours, then several weeks each way. If we're lucky, they'll have moved on and I won't have to fire the weapons. It was a traitorous thought, one that Bart pressed hard inside to keep down. We'll go out, scare them off or destroy them, and I can get back to my garden, there, that's better… much more acceptable. But…

Just in case, Bart began reviewing the system charts between Bolthole 3, where his ship was in dock, and the Johnson system, and with the SLN manuals open for the first time since he inherited his position as Captain of the Lynnwood, he began to try to make tactical plans based on what had already been delivered by Her Majesty's intelligence personnel.

Just in case…it can't hurt to be prepared, can it?

"Could be real trouble…

…they have their own warships." Captain Foster was seeing the Loremaster for the first time in weeks. Sarah Inslee had broken after only twenty hours of patient waiting and conversation. The woman didn't even realize she'd given up relevant information. He'd simply, quietly, baited her into making threats.

Then matched those threats to what Toby had gotten from the onboard navigation database of the captured JumpShip. A few more conversations handed over the identification of at least five warships, including one that the Bandit in holding had been angling to usurp from a cousin she considered…incompetent.

"How many?"

"Five I can roughly confirm, the Potemkin Class Troop Cruiser Belleau Wood, Essex II Class Destroyer Lynnwood, Riga Class Destroyer-Carrier Grozny, Lola III Class Destroyer Biringer and the Essex II class destroyer, The Dalles. Check our records from the Amaris war....If those are real ships, they will have real histories, and we might know details like override codes, transponder frequencies…"

The Loremaster turned to someone off holocam, and ordered something.

"Anything else?"

'You mean, besides the medical report showing evidence of severe inbreeding among the bandits we captured? Aff, you can tell Captain Roberts that her theory is correct, the Sons of Plunder are large, established, organized, and have been exploiting people in the Unincorporated zones for centuries. It's become hereditary in some areas. The commander of our Alpha Star of marines informed me they were lining up a second draft of civilians to hand over because they did not realize we were not the Sons returned to replace 'inadequate property'."

Foster's large eyes burned with fury as he spoke. "We need the fleet out here, Loremaster. Not just the privateer boats. These dezgra bastards need to be annihilated."

"Continue to pump your prisoner for information for now, when she is of no more use, dispose of her."


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