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The Bull and the Genie
- Chapter 28 - Pirate Hunt

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Freeing up the Merchandise[]

Mary stretched, the cold wind teasing at her jumpsuit. She was wearing a breather mask, hooked up to a compressor unit.

The DoME terraforming effort had only been barely started and while the air was "breathable" it wasn't far short of what someone would endure on Mt. Everest back on Terra. Around them there were high, jagged mountains, not yet worn down by wind and rain—according to the records, some of them had been kicked up by the bombardment the DoME had used to start up some volcanoes.

The second stage would have been atmospheric processors, but Amaris had happened. Whether or not the world would remain like this, or become fully uninhabitable, was an open question being answered by a team from Tharkad University who were about seven hundred kilometers away, eagerly scooping up gunk and talking about Star League biotech.

Probably the happiest ones to be here. Mary had brought an entire regiment, ready for anything up to an including a budding pirate kingdom, and she'd found…

Two Mules, grounded by one of the DoME complexes, their engines keeping it warm and ready for traders. About 1200 dependents, two hundred pirates, and one hundred fifty "merchandise" who were being taken back to their homes.

Of course, some of the dependents were also merchandise. They had the documentation, all the missing persons reports.

Like Lucienda Callas and her brother. Fourteen and four, when they'd been taken. Now, twenty and ten, and desperately asking about the well being of her husband and the father of her two children. A pirate who was right now staring life without remission in the face.

They weren't the only ones. Some had been taken directly by the pirates who had kidnapped them, and those were easy cases. But Lucienda claimed and witness reports from the other agreed, that her 'husband' had bought her from an abusive pirate and cared for her.

Wasp (Pickledtezcat version)

Wasp Light 'Mech

And her two children were about a year old, which indicated that he quite possibly hadn't taken advantage, at least not immediately.

Stinger Mech (Firing in city combat - Farseer Animation Version)

Stinger Light 'Mech

Thank God for Lyran Social Services. Shooting people was a simple mission, and she'd happily hand them the complex part.

Not that there had been much shooting here. Two mechs, a Stinger and Wasp, had observed the incoming regiment and bravely reached for the sky.

"Most of the kids will be taken to Tharkad and other core worlds." Officer Mueller was their civil law enforcement liason.


"Border worlds have issues with pirates and way to many people assume that anyone who didn't kill themselves was a willing participant. With that treatment, sometimes running back to a pirate band…", said the Officer.

Mary nodded. "I think we do something of the same back home."

"We're getting some good information. Seems like the people here didn't trust computers, so they kept paper books. They were in code, but well, it was a substitution code."

"Any idea who they're trading with?", asked Mary

"Yeah. Dracs, and a couple of our banks. I'm really happy they were also trading with the Dracs." He grinned at her. "Normally, we'd be bringing civil charges against the people here, but if we can verify that one single, solitary Kroner passed the border to the Combine, they fall under LIC."

"Good. I—", Mary begun to say

"General, we have some more information, found out why there weren't many people here."

Mary looked up at the intelligence officer and nodded. "Agent Mueller, if you'd like to come with me?"

The interior of the Mule was dark, officers going through it. Well maintained, at least in the sense of the primary equipment.

"They've got crappy security," the computer tech said. "the biometrics for the captain, but other than that it was a super simple substitution code. I broke worse than this shit when I was futzing with my class schedules to always have my girlfriend with me."

"And?", she asked the tech.

"It's a new pirate group, maybe a kingdom, but they've been promising a big score. Scooping up some of the independents. Worse, they got someone named Redjack Ryan fronting for them. Sound familiar?"

Mueller cursed. "If you find him, don't bother with a trial."

Mary nodded. All pirates were bad news, but some were worse than others. Redjack Ryan was pretty much the bottom of a very deep barrel.

Clan Wolverine (Insigna)

"New group. Anything?" Mary asked.

"This." He called up an image of a snarling wolverine, claw marks behind it. "This is their flag."

"Huh." Mary stared. "Never seen anything like that before."

"Closest I can think of is the Rabid Dogs, but they got taken down ten years ago." Mueller muttered.

"Right. Get the DropShips ready, divide the people down here up into safe and unsafe and we're leaving, after we pull the doctors off the Amazing Gunk Hunt. We'll put some sats and sensors around the world, but we don't have enough JumpShips to divide our forces. We'll head back to Somerset, and send in a request for information." Mary tapped the insignia. "Probably just a typical band, but we can put this out, and see if anyone knows about it." She sighed. "...And now for the boring part."

"The trip back?"

"You know, I wonder if anyone will ever do an honest show, where instead of the hero screaming "I need to get to Luthien!" and then there's a smash cut to his regiment dropping, we get him screaming that and then two months of playing cards."

"Well, If you get that. I want to get a show where police guards patrol in pairs, instead of alone. Lets call it in when they see the puddle of blood, instead of staring in shock and conveniently putting their back to the bad guy."

"Well, at least this band is clean. Did I ever tell you about the Order of Merit the hygiene people came up with for Tortuga? It was for delousing, above and beyond the call of duty…"

Certain News Travels Fast[]

Outreach, Federated Suns

Some things move slowly, and some things move quickly. Starships can take months and years to pass across the Inner Sphere, but information? A unknown image, that of some new pirate band, flickered across the worlds of the Inner Sphere. A few news shows talked about it, some police agencies put it out. Checking to see if any of their criminal elements had seen it, but most saw it and forgot it.

Most. But not all.

"The Not-Named? Here!?" Natasha Kerensky stared at the report in disbelief.

"Maybe." Jaime stared. "Hiring pirates, flaunting their insignia like this… Could it be a simple pirate ruse?"

"Jaime, we have to know for certain.", she demanded

You're right. Proof of this… it would send the Ghost Bears into a frenzy, and many of our own trueborn would demand we deal with them—or return to inform the Clans, even if we had to find a way to retrace our steps.

Not that they would have to. Jaime still had the coordinates, kept safe and secret from everyone else. They might be Wardens, but there were cases where he would be required to return home no matter what their previous orders—the outbreak of another First Succession War style conflict, for example.

Jaime tapped his fingers on the desk. If they abandoned their post to go hunting, it would be disastrous. But…

"We'll contact Snord. After all, a insignia like this, referring to an ancient Terran animal…"

"Treasure hunt?"

"Treasure hunt."

"He can also get a closer look at the Taurians."

"Agreed." Jaime stared at the snarling face on the monitor. Even if it was just a pirate finding some wreckage, they needed to find out where that wreckage had come from. And where it could lead to.

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