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

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Chapter 84 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

"That is not...

...a Lola II." The Warship hailing the 'diplomatic party' aboard CGS Lei Kung was clearly visible, anchoring a formation of newer vessels, all sporting the Killer Whale Rampant of Kowloon's Naval Militia.

Lola III Class Destroyer (By Matt Plog 2016)

M-5 Caspar WarShip, the automated variant of the Lola II

The worthy who made this observation, is none other than SaKhan of the Clan his very own self, Nelson Elam.

"Are you certain?" Conal Ward, Loremaster of Clan Wolf, scoffed.

"It is either a M-5 Caspar from the first four conversion runs or they salvaged one and rebuilt it to be a crewed vessel." Nelson stated. "Aee here? These emplacements? Those were only used on the M-5 contract-the throughput for the electronic warfare and targeting suites were outright dangerous to crewed vessels, the armor configuration along the forward portion? those extra blisters? Aff, That is a Caspar's hull."

He leaned over the sensor operator's station, "Enhance the" He looked over at Anna Hazen from Clan Jade Falcon. "Recognize those?"

"Hummm no.", she answered

McKenna Class Battleship (adrift in space)

McKenna Class Battleship, Lei Kung

"Those are Blackwasps flying in formation with SB-27bis Sabers Aerospace Fighters...or a near equivalent." Star Captain Gavin McKenna from the Snow Ravens observed. "I do not see where they might stuff a pilot. Someone out here has been resurrecting ancient nightmares."

<<"Attention Clan Goliath Scorpion vessel Lei Kung, formerly SLS Lei Kung, this is Rear Admiral Alicia Li of the Kowloon Coast Guard Militia aboard the heavy cutter Tabiranth. We read your diplomatic signal five-by-five. I see you're driving a McKenna, is your battery charged, Over?">>

Nelson looked to the ship's commander, Gayla Ben-Shimon. she nodded.

"This is saKhan Nelson Elam of Clan Goliath Scorpion, representing the Star League Defense Force-in-Exile. Our battery is charged, Admiral, Over?"

<<"Excellent, that means we don't have to spend two weeks burning in-system. As courtesy to a guest, I am authorized to offer the services of a qualified Harbor Pilot to handle the L-1 transition to Kowloon from here, if you wish, Over.">>

"What is a harbor pilot?" someone asked, Tseng, from the Ghost Bears.

"Two week burn in-system, or an in-system jump, which is tricky in a binary star system. They are offering an expert to manage the jump calculations for us." He replied, he glanced at his Star Commodore, "Do we need one?"

"It can not hurt." she said uneasily, "The nav console is red across the board, the space here is very...tricky. A native guide, or two weeks in and two weeks out."

He keyed the mic, "We will accept your kind offer, with...appropriate security measures. Agreed?"

<<"Roger that. Do you guys have your ALS active, or does my pilot need to eyeball, Over?">>

"Automated Landing systems are active, SLDF Channel One-Six-Bravo, Encryption Delta?" he asked.

<<"Understood, she's on her way, Over.">>

From the 'Caspar' a smallcraft emerged, and began pilot-burn for rendezvous.

"Interesting." Nelson mused.

"What is interesting?" Ward asked.

"One six delta was Star League Special Forces, highly classified right up to the end of the war." he noted.

Letting someone else take the controls was a little bit disconcerting, but then, Coxswain Anh Lu Deen742 didn't really like the idea of boarding one of the Deserters' ships.

Even for diplomacy.

She busied herself with managing the tiedowns to the deck while the hangar chamber repressurized and the crew aboard the old SLDF vessel finally came out of the hot-room to...

See her finishing the transit tiedown.

"Ayheyo." she waved as the shirtsleeves personnel, all somewhat clumsy in nullgee, approached. "I got this."

Her press indicator showed oxy-nitro mix with a good simulation of planetside composition, at one full atmosphere pressure, so she took her helmet off.

"WHOA Klannawallah!! she raised her hands, "Assigned, hayo?" The guys with guns looked nervous.

"Is that all you brought?" one of them demanded.

"I'm all I need." she shifted to trader-lang English. "Harbor Pilot, see?" she held up an identicard, "Take me to your leader, or anyone you lot think are qualified to run a jump engine in a dirty system like Kowloon."

They led her to the command deck...well, she LET them lead her there, anyway. she had to wait several times for the Clanners.

But they got her to the CIC with the navigation station.

"You are the...harbor pilot. Name and Rank?" one of the old dirtyfeet asked.

"Name is Anh Lu Deen742, Rank is Coxswain for this." she said.

"And normally??"

"Petty Officer Three, Sir." she responded, "You are a Sir, right? you look like a senior officer..."

"I am, but not the officer of this ship. That would be-" he gestured.

She frowned. "Ma'am. If you can point me at your plotting board I can start."

"Just a few questions. What exactly are you going to do?"

"Well, there's the chart updates, because your info is probably three centuries out of date, then I'll run a diagnostic on your drive to check for microfracturing, but this is a McKenna so unless you've been running low on coolant and making hot jumps a lot, the Nirasaki 400 drive controller should have kept your core nice and calm, I'll do a couple of observations through your telescopes, make some notes, do some math, and we'll jump. Should be less than four hours from Kowloon orbit when we arrive, which means you make it in time for dinner at Truoc's on Lanterns."

"And how often do this?"

"Day job when I'm not doing my monthly service is running a jump-ferry between the Boojum settlements, Snark, and in-system to Hatter." she shrugged, "So...four or five times a week, depending on where I can catch the charging station queue. Nice thing about a ride like yours, is that I'm only having to manage one jump drive, calculating an Ore-haul or damage recovery? much, much more difficult. The Ryan equations are fussy...and when I'm not doing Ferry or Reserve duty, I've got a sweet deal with some prospectors out in the outer belt..."

"When do you have time to travel on the surface?" the guy in brown asked.

"I don't." She answered, "I get to stay a Cox'sn because I do not want to subject myself to-ugh, planetary surface duty." she said with distaste, "too chaotic, y'know? I mean, I've been dirtside, but ugh! no thanks. Can I get to work now?"

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