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The Adjudicator Chapter (Cover Art)

Chapter 27 - The Adjudicator[]

New Syrtis System
Federated Suns
December 22nd, 3159

The new arrival was a curiosity, less than 250 meters length, less than 50 meters deep and less than 90 wide.  The Jumpsail was as black as pitch and the hull was coated in haze gray, her weapons mounts were 'reefed' behind their hatches, but the dorsal and ventral mounts of her capital missile battery weren't quite compact enough to stuff behind a retractable fairing.  In essence, she was a miniature warship, half the width and length of the FSS Kentares, her form, so similar to pocket warships even in size, was never meant to land anywhere-there was no grounding gear, not even for emergencies.

Next to the commercial vessels at the point, the KCGS Cham Nguoc was a blunt, muscular fist among slim dancers, but compared to the Fox class FSS Colorado, she was in clearer relief-a fencing dagger pacing a broadsword, the orca rampant of her roundel-the symbol of the Kowloon Coast Guard and the most well known symbol of the ship's homeworld, surpassing and in a sense replacing the Ngo family's red and gold anvil-and-dragon.

Fox Class Corvette (in orbit from MW3 art revamped)

Fox Class Corvette, FSS Colorado

She glided up to the Fueling Dock and settled expertly against the feeder assembly, the universal standard couplers linked in, and a personnel walk extended.

Only for the dock crew to find the Bosuns from the Coast Guard ship already in position to assist in linking the umbilical, nods of mutual professionalism exchanged instead of words, because the FSN's training standards have improved that much.

Sampan III Class Cutter in Orbit (Ngoverse)

Sampson IV Class Cutter, FCGS Cham Nguoc

"CLARISSA!!" Admiral McCoy-Lafayette greeted the second person through the airlock like a lost sister, the two clasping in an 'I missed you' embrace.  "Sweetjaysusgalahthoughty'all-" Aneh paused, "I thought you swore you'd never get on one of these boats again after your qualification jump!"

Clarissa looked at Aneh, "I. didn't. want. to." she said, "But her majesty is damned good at changing people's minds."

"How did she do it?"

"She gave me a case, and it's been damned interesting, worth the panic attacks and the bloody noses." Clarissa looked her over, "You got married."

"YES." Aneh said with enthusiasm

"So, I guess this means we'll have to set an extra plate when it happens to me.  Did you bring the baggage?"

"He's not baggage, Clara. Il est l’amant le plus prévenant et puissant que j’aie jamais ressenti...and he's on a deployment."

"I have no idea what you just said, but I think it might be up there with your dirty jokes when you were training me." Clarissa said, "am I close?"

Aneh held her at arm's length, "I forgot, you didn't pick up your father's gift with languages...Francois is wonderful." she said, "I have to say, no other man compares."

"From the size-queen of the First Division, that's a statement all it's own...Admiral, Ma'am."

"and she finally notices!" Aneh laughed.  "I thought you were intent on getting out, off to be some kind of Barrister or something? here you are, and those are LCN ranks!"

Clarissa flinched a little, "Yeah. Like I said, Her Majesty can be exceedingly persuasive, ever heard of something called aktivierter Reservestatus?  Because i didn't until I was standing in the airlock at Spider Moon getting orders from Linda Minh."

"You got drafted??"

"I got drafted.  Aunty Sharon's idea, she decided one Ngo in the Navy wasn't enough."

Aneh laughed, and clasped Clarissa's shoulder, "Come on, you have got to see this place.  We rebuilt it practically from raw ores...Your packet said you're assigned to something called 'Special Operations'?"

"Not special forces work, I chase rumors and weird phenomena instead."  Clarissa said, "I have my own department at Tharkad Naval Shipyard, floor to ceiling packed with cold cases, weird phenomena, unproven scientific claims and other uncategorized strange shit." "Look at you, chasing UFO's...what's the case here?"

"I'm following a lead on one of the bigger mysteries in the last century." Clarissa explained as they entered a transit cab.  she waited until the hatch closed, "We secure in here, Mum?"

"If we're not, I'm having words with the security chief.  What's the mystery you're following?"

"Devlin Stone's origins.  I've been to Kittery, and we uncovered a massacre site- post Republic Treaty massacre site. Almost forty eight thousand victims, my working theory is they were killed to keep them from talking about something."
"And that brought you into Federated Suns space?" Aneh was concerned.

"No, a set of coordinates we found in a secret bunker brought me here.  I've parsed the redacted Interstellar Expeditions report, something smells bad..."

"How bad?"

"You read about the Von Zintzer case?"  Clarissa asked.

"Some.  The original suspect turned out to be one of the victims..."
"Yeah. This is like that, only with interstellar consequences."  Clarissa said, and tapped her nose, "I'm on the right track, I can smell it, and the unspeakables are right on my ass, Aneh, I can feel 'em reaching for me.  Even in realspace.

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