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The Bull and the Genie
- Chapter 27 - Pirate Hunt
[]

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Pirates aren't Soldiers[]


Pirates are not soldiers. They are not citizens. They are parasites. They avoid powerful worlds, and seek weaker worlds.

But because they are parasites, they must seek things that can be used to bolster their forces, or pay for goods to do the same.

But for centuries, the wars of the Inner Sphere had protected them. Few powers could afford to send more than token forces out against pirates, not when their enemies waited for any sign of weakness.

Since the fall of the Star League, they had never had to deal with a dedicated anti-piracy force, or one designed to conduct space operations.

Until now....


Spying Would-be Prey[]

Toland, Lyran Commonwealth


The Merchant Class JumpShip appeared at the jump limit, far from Toland's single recharge station—on the other side of the primary, in fact. They didn't have enough men to take it, and the Union and the Leopard were for other purposes.

JumpShip - (Gray Death Legion - Sega CD)

Merchant Class JumpShip

"So, the bank's got their hard currency, right?"

"That's what our sources say. Also, they're far enough from the capital that we don't have to worry about any Battlemechs."

"Good." Big Joe leaned back in his seat. His lance would be all that was needed, which meant a bigger share. Hard currency was always valuable, because you could always find someone willing to sell.

His Phoenix Hawk needed a new heat sink or two, and he had some thoughts about buying Missy a nice necklace.


"Pirates?"

"Unless they're the world's worst merchants, yeah." The sensor tech showed the imagery from the sensor sat, twenty minutes old by the inexorable laws of normal space. "We're lucky they came out on this side. We can make a microjump."

"Or we could launch our own boarding craft."

"Maybe Sir, but that might give them enough time to hot jump. That could make the pirates on their way into the system think that if they go bush, someone might be coming for them."

"Good point." He stared at the indicators. "Give them three days. That gets them half-way to nowhere, and makes certain they can't come back to help the Jumpship before we're finished.

"Yes, sir."


JumpShip, Sheila's Treasure

Sheila's Treasure had been named by the woman who had been murdered on her own ship, but superstition had a power all its own. If they changed the name, the ship would know.

"Think we're gonna get our share, skipper?" Maurice asked for the hundredth time.

"I think you'd better focus on your work. Of course they're going to give us our share. We're their rides!"

"Well, I—" the board started screaming. "Jump emergence!"

The fuck, how can it be here? The chance of two ships randomly jumping out near each other was about as impossible as you could get. Was someone horning in on their—

The sensors saw the ship enter real space. An Invader, and the dropships were kicking away from it like they'd been waiting for this moment.

"One Union—no way, it's launching fighters, a lot of fighters! The other two ships are… Fuck. Warbook says they're an Avenger and a Mule."

"Who the fuck are they—"

<<"Unknown pirate ship, this is the Taurian Defense Force Ship Galahad. You have two choices. You can surrender now, or I put holes in your life system and wait until you die. But that's messy, so if you surrender and know something I want to know, the Lyrans may not kill you. A good way to ensure that the Lyrans do kill you is to try and hide or destroy any evidence.">>


DropShips (leaving planet) (Farseer Animation)

Union CV DropShip with some it's fighters heading to the Pirate JumpShip.

The Jumpship didn't take long to make the decision. After all, they had two dinky little fighters, vs. An Avenger Assault Ship and a Union rigged to carry fighters.

A small boarding craft was sent over, the boarding squad accompanied by forensic techs.

Captain Jalan smiled in satisfaction.

"Think we'll get anything?"

"Anything, Major, probably not. This lot look to be freelancers. But freelancers trade, and freelancers have to stop at pirate ports, so we'll see if they have any jump routs plotted out to where nobody of good character goes."


"Attention incoming pirate ships. We know the name of your Jumpship. Sheila's Treasure. The reason we know that name is that we've boarded it and taken it. You now have no way home. You can do one of two things. Land, fight, and ensure that you will be executed, or land, surrender, and live. I am empowered by the Archon to offer a guarantee that any pirate who surrenders upon landing will not be subject to the death penalty. You may spend the rest of your life in prison, but I'm told Lyran prisons are somewhat more comfortable than a coffin."

"Think they'll fall for it, Sir?"

"I think there's nothing to fall for, Cornet William." Subaltern Hanzo gestured at the map. "We've got more than enough force to take them down." They didn't have many mechs, but they had VTOLs and conventional combat aircraft from the planetary garrison in plenty. "The will to live is a very strong on indeed. I expect that there will be some pirates who wish to fight to the death, knowing that once their crimes become known, they will be executed no matter what I promise, but their brethren—they want to live."

"It seems simple to do."

"It is, because we're here for pirates. If they tried to do this with a regular Lyran force, you can bet that another successor lord would take the opportunity to launch a raid that would do far more damage." Hanzo knocked the dottle from his pipe. "Ah, they're signaling back. It looks like our guests have lost their interest in a surprise party."

When the two dropships grounded on the dry lake bed, the orders were transmitted to them. The crews were to come out, unarmed, and walk to the buses left for them. Buses with no drivers to tempt hostage takers.

After a few minutes of thinking it over, the doors opened, and the badraggled crews started coming out, some carrying bundles.

>>"WHAT IS IN THE BUNDLES!"<< the loudspeakers barked.

One of the pirates went to the bus and picked up the convenient radio.

"The ones who didn't want to surrender." He said.


Reflecting on gains achieved So Far[]


Sommerset, Lyran Commonwealth


Mary drank from a cup of steaming tea, some local brew. A bit bitter, but it was growing on her. One of Somerset's exports, actually, that she'd found in a little store on her photography expedition. On the monitors, she was watching the local cadets square off against her own forces. The exercise referees were being sneaky and had turned off any geolocation systems, forcing everyone to depend on maps and dead reckoning.

The cadets weren't used to that, and it was showing, but it was mostly showing in hesitancy, not charging ahead. In fact, one group had actually "commandeered" some motorcycles from some teens in the region, and were using them as scouts instead of their 'Mechs.

"But they'd do better just to let the people use their bikes and stay in their 'Mechs," Mary murmured.

"They can't," Reginald Heathers said. The General in charge of the academy gestured at the screen. "In wartime sure, but those teens aren't military and they aren't adults. You'd hear the lawyers screaming all the way to Tharkad."

"Good point," Mary paused. "but they could do with some more combined arms training."

"There's some bad blood there—before my time, but it can get sticky." Reginald said. "You have said something about wrapping up the exercises."

"Yes. We managed to get two JumpShips, both freelance pirates. They both failed to scramble their nav data, and between that and the humint we got…" Mary called up the map and gestured at the world. "Doesn't even have a name. A half completed DoME project, when the Amaris Crisis kicked off they just pulled up stakes and left. It's got atmosphere and algae, but not much else."

"And it's in Lyran space."

"Yeah. A good intermediate point for stockpiling goods. From what we got, it looks like it's actually temporary—pirates come, set up a camp, bring people and things there, and then leave it until the next band shows up. I want to take First Regiment and eliminate it."

"The entire regiment?"

"The rest of the RCT will stay in their AOs, but yes. Two reasons. First of all, I want to remove any sign that anyone ever lived on that world. The more it looks like someone is using overwhelming force, the more worried our pirates will get, which means either not invading, or coming together into larger groups—groups that we can kill more conveniently."

"And the second?"

"Pirates aren't stupid. They don't have HPGs, but the more ships vanish, the more they'll know something's up, and change patterns. If I can get actionable intelligence from this site, I want enough fire power to be able to follow up any leads and take them out. They're used to being more or less safe beyond the borders, which means that they are probably not prepared for an attack, but that is going to change. Change quickly once this information gets in. So I want to hit them hard."

"Aggressive," Heathers said. "I really didn't know what to expect, but you certainly take to this."

"Trust me, if there is one thing I and my people can do with no moral qualms at all, it's hunt pirates." Mary smiled at the monitor. "Of course, the best part of the day is when we catch the pirates."


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