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The Adjudicator Chapter (Cover Art)

Chapter 13 - The Adjudicator[]

KCGS Cham Nguoc
Sampan IV-Class Cutter
Tharkad Star System
August, 3159



[Tharkad Shipard Pier 19....]

Somehow, in the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the Lyran Commonwealth, the Coast Guard wound up under Provost and under Special Operations during wartime.

The Provost, of course, because it was technically a police force with a rather...extensive and travel intensive jurisdiction.  One expanded on a rather permanent basis by order of the Archon.

But belonging to LCN Special Operations? that was somewhat different.

It meant that, instead of carrying six fighters, and two smallcraft of the KCGS Cham Nguoc. The ship was carrying four small craft and six cargo modules fitted out as offices and living space for the passengers.

It also meant that instead of carrying fifty Marines for surface enforcement duty and general tasks. They were now were a sum total of twenty.

This left space for the extra consumables. Meaning that even with a multi-week journey, the crew had all onboard 'Heads' or bathroom/self cleaning stations clear for use.

Moreso, with the aviators and ground service crew for the fighters also disembarked.

"We're practically a Yacht now, Mum."  Lieutenant Sherwood Fowles 441 enthused.

"Don't call me mum in front of the Heinies, Lieutenant.  This is your boat, I'm just cargo." Clarissa reminded him.  "Try to forget my mom's the Duchess, hey? I get enough shit for being the cousin of an Admiral."

"Mum, you putta dirty judge in Blackgate, an' you cracked thet satanic ritual case. You're mum to us here, yah. Word on it and screw da Heinies ef they don't know why.  Best prosecutor in the guard, and look-they didn't let you Goo." he said playfully, his Winter Rockjack accent thick like with the taste of sunny places he only saw from the bridge of his ship.

"Special missions gear loaded?"

"Solid. Nice updates and special gear." he asserted.  "Where we goin'?"

"Kittery, far side of the war-zone and without your fighters..."

"I have the Five Second Record, mum!" he announced, "Fleetwide, I am the alpha dog of the navigators!"

She almost choked, "FIVE SECONDS??"

"Yah. Put me down for three hours, but hey. I rocked the rocks." He grinned. "We'll fly right through one ear and out the other they don't know we're comin' till we been gone."

"What did you dream?" she asked.

His mahogany skin paled almost caucasian.  "You don' wanna know." he said grimly.  "I get you there and back, safe and sound."

All the sunny tropical fantasies in his speech vanished.

"Right, good...we've got some dirtyfeet coming on this trip. You up for doing the safety briefs?"

"Yah-huh.  My crew will get your people squared up right and good, mum...what was your dream like?"

She closed her eyes, remembering the darkness and the impending dread.  "I...I'm sorry I asked, Sovereign Sherwood Fowles...My jump was only seventeen seconds for qualifiers...but since I asked an indelicate question.." she met his eyes, "There are things out there, and they hunger.  It's why I took shore duty as soon as I could."

"Fair trade.  I saw them." he said, "They almost reached us.  It's good to have a backup who's trained." he said, "My XO, she met this Heinie officer. Tested for a baby-got one, she's not comin' on this trip."

"Ayuh, I dig it. I can do it, if you need it." she agreed.  "Kind of a reverse though. Kirk was supposed to down to the surface and Spock went with him...and if you're doing five second jumps, you don't spend any time planetside."

"I will be your Picard, numbah one." he smiled again.

"You two finished quoting classical ancient lit?"  Admiral Falcone asked over the comm.

"Getting sorted and square, Ma'am." Clarissa said automatically.

"Hurry up then. That slot's reserved for a transport that's inbound with damage!"

"Stations everyone!!" ordered Captain Sherwood Fowles 441



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