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The Adjudicator Chapter (Cover Art)

Chapter 15 - The Adjudicator[]



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"...never ask someone about their jump-dreams, if they choose to share it, listen, because it's important."

-Silverberg-162, Rockjack navigator, 3065

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Sampan III Class Cutter in Orbit (Ngoverse)

Sampan IV Class Cutter, KCGS Cham Nguoc

KCGS Cham Nguoc
Sampan IV-Class Cutter
In Transit
Late 3159



[dIsCoNTiNuItY.............]

She was falling in void, the dread echoed with the choir of a billion screaming discordant voices, but the line was clear. She shifted her palm and flexed her will.

From the corner of her eye, she saw them, reaching/grasping/coveting/desiring/starving and the dread turned to terror as her heat fled into the colorless void.

FOUND YOU!!!

The colorless form attempted to swallow the light...

[dIsCoNTiNuItY.............]

Clarissa slumped in the command chair, droplets of blood floating in front of her face, breathing deep, she grabbed the barf-bag set into a dispenser on the nav station and barely got it on over her mouth before everything came up in a series of violent heaves that stained the treated paper dark red.

"S..secure from ju-uhmp!!" she ordered.  "HUUUUUURKKK!!" more came tumbling out.  She slumped back, "HELM!! Where are we? and what time is it local?"

"Asteroid Kittery 7721A, perigee orbit, four hours from the planet, Mum."

She grabbed a vac-hose and a sprayer. She then cleaned out her mouth, flushing her sinuses with medical saline.  "Calculate the window on that point...."

"Five point six seconds, Mum. Not a record holeshot, but damn good for a requalification.  Silver medal at least."

She turned to the boat's captain, who wasn't exactly feeling great himself.  "There, happy now?" she huffed, "I am never betting against you in cards again....that was ****** awful."

He shoved a bulb of Ijero wine into her hand, "Drink up, XO. We just got clock time from the planet's net.  Five point six second window...Twenty Hours before projected emergence.  You stuck the landing in the Sithers range, like Big Linda did back in the seventies."

"Whad?" she held a regulation handkerchief over her nose.

"We're twenty hours before we left. That is one hell of a holeshot, one in a billion and you spiked it." said the Captain

"I ****** up my math, didn't I?"

"Your figures looked good, XO. Your math wasn't the problem. Your problem is The Gift. You hid it under a basket, and you know God and Finagle don' like that shit. So you get spanked time to time. Gods of the Jump, they spank you a little to teach you a lesson.  Mine was pride, yours was false humility, heyha?"

"I..don' believe in god." she said shaking her head.  "Impossible hypothesis, can't test it."

"Your Gran'momma, Miss Harmony, she's The Folk. I know you were raised knowing it." he said firmly, "You don't belong on no planets, you belong up here with your kind."

"Got a job to do. Work must get done." she said.

"Ayah, that's the way of the world. We've got four hours to kill." He said.

"I have four hours to get my team ready and the landing craft loaded." she said, unstrapping, "The conn is yours, sir."

"I have the Conn."

Clarissa silently thanked finagle for microgravity and the ability to float and pull instead of having to try to walk on rubbery legs after a bad TDS episode.  The Hatch closed behind her before the RTO spoke up.

"She's got Folk blood?  Thought she was a dirtyfoot? aren't all the Ngos dirtyfeet?"

"Nah Reller, not all of 'em. Duke Patrick married a Folk Girl, from the Tasaday run, back during the war.  Girl was Spacer, pretty Two full meters tall. Like a...a grace, diggit?  A white haired beauty with dark eyes.  Even when she got old, you know-I saw her once on Mandaoaaru Key. When I was a kid, bringing relief supplies.  She's why that line is so thin while Amanda's line are kinda brute strong."

"All hands, brace for one gravity motion in five, four three two..one, BRACE!!" announced the Captain.



To say that Kittery's Capellan Garrisons were surprised is a bit of an understatement.  The local commander had not believed the Itinerary sent through diplomatic channels, because he based his calculations on standard ten hour wide jump points into the system.  Having the haze-gray Kowloon Coast Guard ship, with the distinctive Orca Rampant roundel displayed arrive nearly three days ahead of his own private schedule left the man scrambling to assemble his meeting force.

It also triggered every air defense alarm in the system...at first.

Paradoxically, the Maskirovka 'morale officers' kept the suddenly very nervous CCAF naval units and airbase units from doing something mission-ending.

"I apologize, Lieutenant Ngo, we were unprepared for your...unorthodox entry into the system."

"Well...I lost this bet and had to do a manual insertion?" Clarissa's reply was suitably low-key to somehow register with the local commander's sense of humor...or at least, the man had been briefed to bring it with him, "I kind of screwed up my calculations."

The man laughed at her apparent joke, instead of inquiring what she could possibly mean.  Dirtyfeet.  Their officers are dirtyfeet. Her grams voice said in her mind  Be gentle and genteel, They don't know what lurks in the space between spaces.

"My team's ready to land, can we have clearance straight to the site?" she asked.

"Of course, I will send a wing-pair of fighters to escort you down."

"Thank you very much for your kind offer." she said. Something twigged in the back of her mind, "I'll be happy to accept that, your soldiers have secured the scene?"

"Yes."

She smiled to the man, "Thank you again, your efficiency is superb."  she hoped she said that right-Chinese was maybe similar to Viet, distantly, but Capellan Chinese was almost a whole other language.



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