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

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Chapter 146 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

Tortuga Prime's defenders weren't prepared...


...for what came for them.

They'd been ready for all sorts of things-Punitive expeditions aren't a new thing, even large ones. Having your dropships disabled or smashed and your Jumpships taken mostly-intact wasn't part of the usual deal, and hadn't been since the 2nd Succession War and the adoption of a sacrosanct attitude toward Jumpship traffic...and even with the claims of Jheri Monagan and her crew that this new punitive expedition had done exactly that to the ships over Morgan's Holdfast?

Nobody in the Dominions took it seriously-after all, they're the ones with the experience stealing JumpShips.

Paula Trevaline had Just gotten home when the invasion hit...she hadn't even been back long enough to arrange a bolt-hole to hide in yet.

"Hi. I'm Kapitan Arthur Andrew, Federated Coast Guard Corps, YOU, are the remarkably still alive and very wanted Paula Trevaline, my colleagues in the TDF have been kind enough to turn you over to me."

"You think you can hold me?" She spat.

"Nope. Believe it or not, Paula, you're not even the first person on my docket this week, you're actually not the most vital person I have to sit in judgment over, you get to to wait your turn."

"What??"

"Yeah, see, Major Twylla Summerall of Fuchida's Fusiliers? She's my first case." he said, "The fines for the contract breach are probably going to have to just go unpaid. Her unit engaged in rampant piracy and brigandage before settling here in your place and she's more of a current pain in my ass. So following by the collection of scumbags that constitute her command staff and personnel...so, you get to wait."

"Wait, you're not taking them back to the Federated Suns??"

"Given that they've offended pretty much every realm, including my allies? no. Not taking them back. It's a matter of, once they've been tried, whether I toss them out an airlock without suits, or the TDF does it. Once we've done with that, Then it's your turn. I'm going to offer you the chance to have an officer represent you in your defense."

"My Defense?"

"Yes, your defense. You will be tried, you may be convicted. If convicted, you will not see another minute of jail time. You'll get to walk back to the surface of Tortuga Prime without a spacesuit...on planetwide broadcast." He met her eyes as he spoke, "Just like the Fuchida's Fusiliers will...and just like many of your slaving, banditing, pirating, colleagues will, but don't fret, we're not going to execute your relatives or loved ones if they weren't involved in the business-because we're not animals. You Sabby, Dirtyfoot??"

"Spacing!??"

"Yes. Once convicted, you will be escorted to an airlock where you will be stripped of clothing, put into the airlock. The internal pressure will be ramped to three atmosphere's with oxygen enrichment so you are conscious for as long as possible once the outer door opens, the overpressure will dump your body into hard vacuum, and you will fall toward the planet. IF you manage to survive re-entry, no further charges will be pressed. We are not animals, Madame Trevalaine."

"That assumes I'm convicted."

"Yes." he nodded, "....that DOES assume you are convicted. If you are acquitted in trial, you will be shuttled to the surface, given fifty C-Bills, and sent on your merry way...because we are not animals."


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