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The Armada (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 39 - The Armada[]

Unity City, Terra
Sol Star System
Wolf Empire

Sometimes the most important thing, is not to make a fuss or so his grandfather told him.  Liam walked down Pike Street in broad daylight, just one of the crowd, but he watched through many eyes, the drones feeding him a constant stream of information across spectrums that normal, human eyes don't see.

"Pardon." he said, as the pickpocket bumped against him.  Liam let the thief take the decoy currency, and it appeared on his HUD as a marker.

Other pips showed the rest of the OCB site team as they moved through the throngs, marking and identifying petty criminals.  Back home, some of them would be targets for recruitment into the Guard, a few might even have the natural talent to work OCB cases.  Here, this was Earth, and even under Wolf Empire rule, (or maybe especially under Wolf Empire rule), the Rockjack Branch of The Folk could not go recruiting as they traditionally did, because there would be a fuss, a response, a problem.

Identify enough petty criminals and you can find the one who knows what you want to know-or knows who knows.  The heavy-handedness of the Wolf Empire provost people was actually an asset here-not as a useful tool in the traditional cooperative sense, but in the sense that their brutal and crude methods would put the real perpetrators off just enough. Either by scaring the weaker players off the field and leaving the stronger, more useful ones for interrogation. By being ham-handed and sloppy and leaving the criminals comfortably complacent once the designated patsies were put down.

The Coast Guard had done their share of looting Blakist secrets, but those were nothing compared to the secrets shared by Metis-cousins, secrets and methods that the OCB didn't share with outsiders for good reasons.

He stopped at a coffee shop that sells the burned, bitter, nasty stuff that passes for Coffee on this planet, and ordered the mutant beverage they pass off as ca'phe, along with a rich mix of synthetic carbohydrates and vat-grown fats wrapped in lab-cultured sugars they call a cinnamon roll.

Then, he took his table, and waited.

You can chase the criminals, but sometimes it makes more sense to let the criminals come to you.  He didn't have to wait exceptionally long.  On the holoplayer over the serving counter, they were showing Lt. Commander Karen Ngo's official 'stat sheet'. The voices of Terran sports announcers making one of the most revered traditions of the Clans into something more akin to a Savate tourney. Only held down here, at the bottom of the Gravity Well, instead of in null-gee, where the sport is truly at it's finest.

Kick their asses for us, Mum. He thought, as he drank bitter oversugared coffee and ate fluffy almost-burrow-grade pastry

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