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The Great and The Good (A Great Captain Roberts Tale!!)

Chapter 21 - Casuals

"Markus Johnson…

…that's you, isn't it?" The district hospital wasn't normally busy. Having the Airbase deliver two MedEvac aircraft worth of casualties from a shooting incident made things more exciting than they'd been in years.

Markus looked up with weary eyes, his son was in the Operating Room. "Yes?"

"Per your son's enlistment agreement, I'm here to discuss possible financial compensation in the event he doesn't make it."
"In he…dies?"

"Your boy's injuries were extensive." The man speaking had an odd way about him, made moreso by hair barely covering tattoos on his head and scalp. "However, he was wounded in the course of duties, and may die as a result, so, per the Letter of Marque, your family will be due compensation in the event he doesn't make it through surgery."

"Who are you?"

"I'm Samuel, I'm with the Privateer Fleet. My role is usually engineering, we got here late, and I'm sorry for that. Word didn't come down on the attack in time."

"Word…you mean it wasn't-"

"We don't have confirmation on WHO organized it, but this attack was part of a three fold operation, including an attack on the Quatre Belle shipyard, an assassination attempt directed at the President, and the incident that has your son in the operating room."

"It's not what you KNOW…

…it's what you can prove." Larry explained, "We can't prove who was behind it, only that it was well-financed and had a lot of inside facilitation from Comstar and several international shipping corporations tied to various Great Houses."

"And?" Amanda was conscious, laid up in a recovery bed, but conscious.

"And they hired mercenaries using an oblique cut-out, for significant amounts of money." he added, "Some of these guys are on 'wanted' lists. The shooter you took out on the roof is ex-Lohengrin and wanted in the Lyran Commonwealth, two of their door-kickers are out of Federated Suns service, the third one was a member of a fox team before he went publicly rogue. The guys we nailed at the Yard included two ex-members of ISF, one ex-SAFE agent. We're pretty sure the one we can't get info on was probably Maskirovka at some point or a Capellan Warrior House vet, but they don't make a practice of issuing warrants when theirs go rogue, they just try to kill them."

"So…what do we know?"

"A lot of it fits with the spread of gear and equipment in use by the Sons of Plunder." Larry stated, "Multinational sources, top-shelf hardware, questionable to outright immoral mission parameters, no direct link to anyone we can prove."

Amanda sighed, "Speculate, Larry. Who tried to kill my friends?"

"Well…we think they were here to kill you, your family and their friends were just collateral damage."

"Civilian Deaths." her tone was that cold, logical tone that suggested she was being influenced by the Desmond system. "Acceptable to the people running the mission, but the logic doesn't line up."

"Not even with the attack on the Shipyard or the attempt to kill President Avellar?"

"If President Avellar were here? Then it would make sense, or if somehow my elimination and his would accomplish the same goal, it would make sense…but I don't see a goal it would accomplish where one of us being dead would accomplish it."

"What about terror?" he asked.

"Terror attacks might-the purpose of terrorism is to create fear and paranoia." she agreed, "To influence a state or government to crack down on the common population until things become intolerable. How are the Snow Ravens handling it?"

"The ones we've talked to agree with your assessment there-the only likely outcome from these missions would be to provoke an extreme response in hopes of destabilizing relations between the civilian populace and their defenders." he noted, "Secondary objectives are also pretty obvious-you've kicked a lot of anthills and gotten things moving in your own way, especially with that Naval Database you downloaded."

"Trash the yard-again-, then eliminate the person carrying info on where some docks and minor yards were positioned??" she mused, "I could see that, but why go after the President?"

"Undermine his support, create a wedge, push the pacifist factions that want disarmament forward by removing a beloved president??" he speculated.

"WOuldn't work," she said, "They'd be creating a martyr if people put it together. That's the opposite of what an action mission should be doing, if the objective is to…wait…"

She frowned.

"You're sure?"

She bit her lip, frowned deeper, then…"Larry, the target isn't me, it's not the President either. Warn Acton Howe-they're going after the Khans or the Loremaster or both-and it's going to hinge on Clan Politics. The attacks were to make the current administration look weak-not to the civilians, but to the Warriors in the Clan. They're probably positioning their man to step up and challenge for leadership, citing the three attacks…which is why they used contractors, the attacks didn't need to succeed, they needed only to happen. SLIC handbook on destabilizing a military Junta-make the generalissimo look weak or short-sighted or old!"

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