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

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Chapter 134 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

"Pirates...


...steal things besides what's necessary to live." Arthur said, "Where do you suppose they take the loot?"

"Pardon? I don't understand..."

Arthur brought up side imagery captured by FGS Flower shot during patrols. "Hull markings are kind of distorted by distance, but there aren't a lot of Tramp class JumpShips in operation, minus a shipyard in the Cluster, this one's unique-and we can place it in the Outback ten years ago, and on a heading toward Astrokaszy not five years ago...and in the Tortuga cluster seven years ago, three years ago, six months ago-the six-light-month imagery even gives us a hull identifier with marks."

Tramp Class Jump Ship (CG)

Tramp Class JumpShip

"The fence?"

"Or someone very active who knows the area very, very, very well-The bandits take more than they can use, and they take things that aren't particularly useful, so they're either stockpiling things they can't use, or they're selling them. I vote for selling them...and I think that ship knows who's buying. as Vu Dao says, 'it's not enough to nail the thief if you leave the fence in play', because you'll just end up with another thief."

Colonel MacGrinn glanced up at him, "You're serious about shutting them down."

Arthur cocked an eyebrow, "You had doubts, Colonel? Yeah, I'm serious about putting them out of business, and yes, I'm leveraging resources outside my rank and position to do it."

"What kind?"

"My last name is Steiner-Davion." Arthur told her, "It only says 'Andrew' on my togs because I'm not supposed to be leveraging my family name for advantages...but it's why I'm able to exert enough pull to get court records and MIIO documents released for our little venture in restoring law-and-order and maybe improving relations between our nations."

"Are you intending to expand Feddie influence then?"

"Not if I don't have to." Arthur said, "Good neighbors means less trouble on the border, it lets my brother focus on the Clan threat, and lets my other brother exert pressure to keep the Haseks and the Sandovals on-side and in-line, so that maybe we can stop burning civilization to the ground every couple generations..." he gave her a wry half-smile, "Besides, last time the Federated Navy fought the Taurians, we got our asses kicked so badly we had to ask the Terrans for help. There's no Terran fleet to call in, so I'm disinclined to repeat the experience without the backup."

"Malagrotta was a long time ago."

"Yeah? SO??" he shrugged, "It was still one hell of a strategic blunder on our side, and one hell of a strategic maneuver on yours. I'm not too proud to acknowledge it."

"What was the blunder?"

"Going to war with the Taurian Concordat, you guys still issue nukes, right?"

"Yes."

"Ergo, going to war with you guys was stupidity even if we won that one. Trade is more stabilizing than tribute, and you don't have to use occupation forces on your trading partners if things are stable...I don't suppose you want to get on the hot-line and have your Intel people grab some suspects in fencing stolen goods, do you??"

"I think something can be arranged. Pity..."

"Pardon?"

"You're married."

"Faithfully."

"Which is a pity."


Arthur studied...

...police and incident reports, and on the inbuilt whiteboard of his sea cabin, he made a list.

Morgan's Holdfast
New Port Royal
Fletcher's Feast
Tortuga Prime
New Haiti
New Gascony


Each name was listed with the three most likely sets of coordinates.

Phase Two of preparations was almost ready. This wasn't like when the Lyran/Kowloonese forces went after Hopper Morrison. He only had two possible bolthole worlds, after all.

This would require subtlety-subtlety to identify not only the planets the Pirates were actually using, but their ships, routes...their ships.

The priority would be to eliminate their ability to escape before the jaws closed.

We're gonna need more Intel or more ships.


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