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The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye (Cover Art)

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Chapter 131 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

I have had enough of this... understand?" Lt. Commander Arthur-Steiner-Davion was fed up, angry, and sitting in his sea-cabin. "The standard punitive raids haven't worked."

"But what options do we really have sir?" Leutnant Sam Bickles asked, "The Tortugans hit where we aren't, they're getting good at it."

"Wasn't our mission is to foster commerce, protect shipping, and destroy pirates?...we know where they go." He said adamantly, "I think it's time for more solid, aggressive action."

The reason for his outrage was below the orbit of the AFCS Feather. A Taurian settlement that managed to get a distress signal out by HPG last week, burned to a crisp and filled with traumatized survivors that the TDF liaisons were more than half suspecting HIS ship of doing-the only reason they didn't FULLY suspect him, was his ship's lack of DropShips and BattleMechs.

"They sail out of we punish Tortuga." he said firmly. "When I mean by 'punish' I mean with extreme prejudice."

"We can't use nukes on surface targets and a platoon of Marines isn't going to do much..."

"We don't need nukes." He said. "It's basic math, everything in space, or space-to-surface, is timing and speed. we've got a fabrication shop on board for supplies. I think we can fab up some simple Ion engines, and I KNOW we can fab up replacement solar panels. WE are going to drop a ****** crowbar on the bastards at their base."

"Jesus, Arthur..."

"Jesus has nothing to do with this. The Tortugan Pirates are Hostis Humani Generis, it's time we act like it." he clenched his fist savagely.

War is Politics... other means. "You want to do what??"

"We intend to conduct a long range mapping mission, sir, into territory not presently claimed by your government, or ours. The purpose of this mapping mission being primarily scientific, but if we happen to stumble on a nest of Pirates? well..." Arthur shrugged. The Taurian official glared at him.

"To the territory commonly considered to be the Tortuga Dominions." the TDF colonel stated.

"Yes, Sir. We intend to conduct vigorous survey of habitable and near-habitable bodies in the region known to be the Tortuga Dominions, including Seismic survey from extra-orbital distances."

"With what intent??"

"To see what's there, sir." Arthur stated, "This will, of course, require the use of specialized survey equipment and methods."

"The nuclear missiles in your ammunition bays?"

"No sir, I doubt we'll need fact, I'm solidly certain we won't be using those for our survey work. I'm doing this informing you as a courtesy, with a mild suggestion."

"Which is?"

"Have ground troops ready to go-they might want to do some surveying of the Tortuga Dominion's of their own, and it will be much simpler for them once we've passed through-call it...'confirming results'...or we can drop the euphemisms."

"And what does dropping the Euphemisms entail?"

"Pest Control, Sir. Pirates and slavers are the enemies of all humanity, previous efforts to 'punish' them have repeatedly failed, and many of the ranks of the pirates in question started out as mercenary or military units tasked with such activity-they've been operating with impunity, and so it's time they were suitably addressed. Per every treaty signed by your government and mine, Pirates are Hostis Humani Generis. I intend to find their bolt-holes, and burn the ****** things down-which may open up some nice opportunities for the Taurian Concordat in terms of new worlds to draw resources from and improved security...if you're okay with following up behind us."

"What if we're not?"

"Then whatever resources we uncover will go unused, I don't have time to visit the Magistracy, and we don't have good relations with the Cappies, sir. We'll need about a month and a half of lead time, so it buys your guys time to mobilize. The Federated Commonwealth isn't looking to expand in this direction, but we're all getting mighty sick of seeing what uncontested piracy does to civilians, and My mission is to foster trade and good relations, but they gave me capital military equipment to do it, and this serves both your nation and my realm." Arthur paused, "also, I don't have more than a company of light infantry for ground work, and that's spread over twelve cutters and three tender-support ships, we can break whatever defenses they have, but we can't occupy-but you can...and you'll know where we are, instead of needing to use your intelligence agency to track us."

"I want to post observers on your ships, Leutnant Commander Arthur. Is that going to be a problem?"

"Make sure they have good pressure suits, and don't bring more other-gear than can fit in a standard locker." Arthur said, "one of the benefits of my position as a Patrol Leader is that I can 'do' diplomacy up to the limits of my orders, and thankfully, those orders were nice and vague."

"You're quite an angry young man." the Taurian commented. "WHy?"

"Four times we have been too late to save civilians this year alone, Sir. Two worlds, one convoy and a free boat...Records show they hit almost constantly, and standard responses haven't been effective at stemming them or making them hesitate before they ravage some settlement. I intend to make them stop and will use whatever means are available to do so, including asking for help from the people who've been fighting them harder and longer than we have. I want peace and in this situation, Peace does not come from submission or appeasement, it comes from being too dangerous to attack...and it might help fix relations between the Concordat, and the Federated Suns. How much more could you do, if you didn't need to man that border or pay mercenaries? How much more could WE do, if the same were true on our side?? this won't fix everything, but it's a place to start."

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