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The Silent Black Ocean (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 7 - The Silent Black Ocean[]

Clan Sea Fox Base
Star's End, former The Barrens Region
3165



Star Colonel Jacob Fowler watched as the Kowloonese cutter approached the floating docks.  "What is the significance of the killer whale insignia again?" he asked.

"Historical.  Orcinus Orca is a predator that hunts sharks. The Rim Worlds Republic's totemic symbol was that of a shark, and the Kowloonese hated them to a degree not even our ancestors hated them."  Loremaster Kenneth Clarke told him, "Before the war, according to what records we have remaining, the Kowloonese pirates attacking Rim Worlds trade vessels displayed the same symbol. During the Amaris War, the Kowloonese painted it on lend-leased fighter hulls, any dropships they had, and their jumpships."

The indicators on the docking umbilicals went green.
 

History wasn't that interesting-except when it could benefit the Clan.  "Thank you for the explanation, at least they are not trying to ape being a Clan." he said.

"Seyla."

The inner lock cycled and their visitors crawled laboriously 'up' into the single-gee spin gravity of the station. "Permission to come aboard, Sirs?" a muffled female voice inquired, invoking an old spacer's custom that hardly fit the circumstances.

"Permission Granted, Commander Hui?"

"Aye sir." she took her helmet off, revealing slim Asiatic features under a half-shaved brush-cut that barely concealed the tracery of spacer-born tattoos under the hairline.  "You keep it heavy here." she said.

"It is better for muscle-tone.  How long have you been out?"

"Eight month cruise, Sir." she said, "Mostly survey work and servicing early warning and comm relays left out by their previous owners, but we did chase down a bunch that hit one of your colonies. I've got thirty five civilians on my ship, and their ident docs say they're yours."

"The men who took them?"

"Got a class on breathing vacuum, my prize crew's bringing their ride in behind us." she said, "There's another hundred and fifty of your folks, plus some dirtyfeet that these ****** grabbed off a couple of the indie planets in the region.  As you're the nearest recognized legal authorities and most of the hostages were stolen from your ships and facilities. It seemed to be reasonable to show up with them and arrange delivery and transfer of the rest...and since I was already bringing your people back, the CO for 9th Cutter Div sent me comm packages for your government from ours, they're marked classified and hand-deliver, sir."

"And their ship?" he asked.

"Well, we couldn't find ownership docs that didn't look like a half-ass forgery. A run on the registry of missing ships came up blank for Commonwealth, Combine, Dominion, Cappie, and League. So a return of the vessel to her proper owners is kind of out of the question, unless it's yours." she said, "if it is, well, then I don't have to process the paperwork for impound and auction.  Not sure what you'd do with a Merchant that old, but if you want to check your own registries for missing ships, I'd be appreciative."

"You took no prisoners, quineg?"
"We didn't have room, sir. I wasn't about to leave pirates where they can re-jack a ship. We had to convert the brigs to medical bays for the stretcher cases."

"Stretcher...cases?"

"Look, this is ugly, alright? Some of the people they grabbed they...had fun with, catch my vector? You'll want to have trauma counselors and medics ready.  Because slaving and piracy are both capital crimes, I recorded a field  expedient tribunal under maritime law, and sentence was carried out by-the-book...but they damaged some of these civilians pretty badly, and not just their bodies.  If I could have given your guys the arrest credit, I would, we just happened to catch them where they shouldn't be, doing what they shouldn't be doing."

She extended a manila-tan envelope with a seal on it, "The dispatches for your government from ours, sir...and can I go ahead and return your people now?"

"Absolutely." he took the envelope, and handed it to his Loremaster.

"One more request, Sir?" she asked.

"Yes?"

"My crew has been in space for eight months, and some of them are Dirtyfeet. They need shore leave or they get kinda...strange.  Permission for my crew to conduct shore leave activity in your jurisdiction, sir?"




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