I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 28

Space is not the high seas, is it?

I’m guessing no one ever wanted to think about criminals in space.

With the Chief Engineer working on the status and availability of our propulsion unit, and the status of the ship’s systems after the jump to a speed that was probably never considered at design time. All the heads of departments had reported back little or no damage other than crew blackouts. And, a systematic check of all crew by the medical staff showed no one had suffered any side effects. Well, none that were showing in the last hour or so.

That gave me some time to consider just how it might be possible for pirates to exist.

The cost was astronomical, to the point where many governments had pooled their resources to get where we were now, scraping at the edges of our so-called known galaxy. There were just too many zeros at the end of the numbers that simply represented the investment in the ship I was on.

But the thought of criminal activity, that wasn’t on the radar, well, not mine anyway.

As we progressed with new ships replacing the old, it was not hard to assume that someone with a lot of money and will could get their hands on an old ship or two, and find people who were willing to commit crimes, particularly if they were already at a penal colony under limited supervision.

Perhaps they had hoped to stay off the radar, but unfortunately ran into us, a ship that could move as fast as they could, and chase them down. Of course, that led to another thought, right at that moment, one that told me that it was not in their best interests to have us reporting their existence.

if what I thought to be true, was, then it would simply be a matter of destroying their ships and sending them back to Mars, but they still had a bargaining chip, our nuclear scientist. We had to rescue her first.

And I thought meeting aliens was going to be difficult.

It was time to have a chat with Lt Colonel Baxter about this ship’s capabilities, defense-wise, and rather than summon him to the bridge, I thought a low-key approach might be better.

He was expecting me.

“You’ve spoken to O’Mara?” O’Mara was the scanning specialist.

“I assume the previous captain had been briefed on the possibility we might run into pirates?”

It felt weird calling them pirates because most of history portrayed them as being on the high seas.

“It was mentioned in passing. We were never expected to run into any, but aside from that, there’s very little intelligence on them. We’re only just hearing about the breakout at the Mars mining outpost.”

“Sounds like bad luck. Of all the places in space we can go, we had to end up in the same sector. Have you spoken to your superiors back home?”

From what I had read on the trip to join ship, the military were on board for defense purposes, if we needed to be defended, otherwise our own security people would take care of any problems we encountered. We were not on a mission to seek out trouble, but explore, particularly galaxies beyond our own.

Our mission was not to get involved problems like pirates, labour disputes, or matters that were the providence of the so-called space police. The need for such an authority had only just been recognised, and being new, were still in the throes of getting ships and personnel, and a workable frame of reference.

“I have. Their preference is for us to stay on mission, and not engage, unless of course, we’re attacked.”

“At which point we can retaliate.”

“With full force and effect, yes, but only as a last resort. I recognize the need to rescue our crew member, but if it means compromise, perhaps it’s best not to engage. That being said, I believe O’Mara has a plan to rescue her without causing any problems.”

He could have mentioned that, but I suspect he didn’t want to come to me with something that might not work.

“Just the same, I would like you on the bridge while we’re within hailing distance of what O’Mara informs me, are pirate ships.”

“As you wish, sir.”

© Charles Heath 2021

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