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The Silent Black Ocean (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 2 - The Silent Black Ocean[]

The Cutter, KCGS Morgan Icaza
Engmann Star System
Chainelaine Isles Star Cluster

[Somewhere along the Exodus Road...]

The KCGS Morgan Icaza was a Cutter, part of 9 Division LCN Reserves, and their 'patrol zone' included a lot of former Jade Falcon held worlds outside the Lyran Commonwealth as an aftermath of the campaign to smash the Jade Falcons in response to Malvina's Mongol Madness.

Someone had to take up the job of patrolling out here and while LCN was rapidly gaining the ability to do so, it was by indirectly leaning on the Coast Guards for the actual manpower.

Kowloon's Coast Guard was still technically the militia for a single collection of minor worlds. A regional formation not meant to engage in long-distance missions, but needs must, when devils drive demands.  Plentiful ships plus a long lead-time on personnel meant that you recruited where you can.

"How are they doing down there, Piper?"  Commander Ira asked.

"Surface teams report the civil population is recovering technologies from the ruins now that the surface is safe, Sir...oh, and congratulations."

"It is not Congratulations until our tour out here is finished." he said, "That is four months away.  To be clearer, I am not entirely sure being assigned to a Landmark class is much of a promotion."

His XO grinned, softening her harsh Icaza heritage somewhat.  "Gravity deck, showers..." she teased, "A true capital ship? not a promotion?"

He groaned, "Paperwork, a crew in the hundreds so I never get to properly know my comrades, and having to speak Deutsch even in quarters?  I admit, I will not miss having to negotiate who gets to sleep in the bed, and I will not miss having three out of four heads packed with supplies or needing to go on space-walks of the hull to get time to myself!"

"YOU are just too Kowloonese." she said, and giggled, "A prim and proper boy from Hue under that hard-nose spacer persona."

"And you are just as qualified for a Destroyer as I am." he told her.

"Ah! but see, they did not ask for me." she said primly, "They wanted the Buhallin boy, not the Icaza girl."

"That's before I leave for LCN regular service, I'm going to write you an OER that will drag you right over behind me!" he mock-threatened.

She rolled her eyes.  "As if.  Someone has to do this job, and someone has to do that job.  I am perfectly content to remain a Guard Lifer, taking small boats into places you can not fit a half million tons of destroyer."

"I am writing that OER, Piper." he said, "Our heritage is Jade Falcon and while our cousins smeared that name with feces and called it 'mongol', we belong-all of us-in the Regular Fleet. To serve with distinction and redeem our bloodname."

"Seyla, Sir."

"Hey, Sirrah, Mum, could you two maybe take it in the missile mags or something? We're tryin' t'wuhk heah!"  RTO Devin McCammon's Arluna accent was thin enough not to need much speech correction therapy before he deployed.  Ira looked past his executive officer at the boy-man who handled their signals.  McCammon's pale skin made the plague marks stand out more.
"I'll get you too, Mac." Ira said, "I want to try and get all of you into the regulars."

"Sirrah, all due respect, th'only one y'all needs is-" he stopped.  "Incoming signals, header is priority Alpha one alpha all points bulletin...holy shit.  Clanner fleet detected in transit along the Exodus Road, hull counts are in excess of ninety one vessels. Identified hull markings indicate combined Clan fleets from at least six different Clans, and they're not traveling light."

"On my display, Arto." Ira ordered.

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