Check out the first new snippet from Book 5, Insurrection. Due out later this month!
The three old friend and shipmates met for dinner in the Captains private dinning room. Commander Tadeusz Kościuszko the Chief Engineer was the first to arrive. Know as Tad to his friends, the commander was a large strapping man in his mid 50’s. He was a proud graduate of the Kraków school on planet Warsaw. He and the Captain had been on the old Jupiter. Dr Zack Smith was a curmudgeonly older man with short thinning hair. He gave as good as he got and was the one that you wanted with you when the fire was the hottest. On the Jupiter, the three of them had all been just starting out their careers. The Jupiter was an old Gemini class cruiser. The twelfth to be built. The three officers had participated in many adventures before the war. Fate had put them together on this ship. Well that and a case of scotch to the personnel clerk at HQ.
“This dinner is a bit out of the blue, Hugh,” remarked Commander Kościuszko.
“I agree with that, I’m not complaining. But just why did you bring us here tonight?” The Dr. turned and looked at his old friend.
The Captain stroked his mustache and looked to his old friends. “Have either of you noticed anything funny or unusual about out new crew replacements?”
“Funny ha ha or funny strange? Is that what you mean?” The old engineer was now focused on the Captain. “If you mean funny strange I agree with you. Something is not right about the crew that we picked up. They know how to do their jobs but something is off.”
The Dr looked at his old friends. “Fine. Yes there is something. I have run a few physicals and treated a few for minor injuries. I have noticed some things. Tattoo’s. They seem to all have quite a few. While not unusual they try to hide them. That alone makes them unusual. The other thing would be scars. They have lots of them too. Far too many for some of their ages and ranks. One crewman, a member of the hanger crew I think, had a colony prison implant. He explained it away saying it was from a juvenile offense. Since him though, none of the new crew has been to see me.”
“Just between the three of us and the walls. By the way I scanned the room for bugs.” He had their attention now. “I sent a covert message to fleet during the recent course change. While the orders to change the crew came from the fleet, I am starting to not believe it.” He watched the faces of his oldest friends. “Other than you two, I really only trust Lieutenant Mutai our marine commander. He and his men have been with us before all of the changes.”
“Hugh, let’s get that marine up here then. Why waste time?”
The Captain stepped out of the room and whispered to his lone security guard. “Can you have your lieutenant come up here to a private meeting? Is there a way so it does not go out on the radio?”
The marine guard looked at the captain sharply and then nodded. He held up one finger in acknowledgment. Tapping the radio communicator at his collar the marine muttered a few word and letters to his security net “duty nco to lima tango RFI zoomie charlie delta romeo possible QRF.” The marine cocked his head to one side as if listening. He then said “wilco.” Turning to the captain he held up two fingers. Two minutes. The Captain went back into the dining room.
Almost exactly two minutes had passed when after a faint knock the door reopened. The marine Lieutenant Kinno Mutai entered the room. Sir’s he said coming to attention.
“At easy lieutenant. Thank you for your prompt response.”
“How could I not with that really smart message you sent. I take it this meeting is about the mercenary company that we have on board?” The marine lieutenant looked at the officers speculatively.
“Damn. I never thought of that. Mercs, are you sure Kinno?”
“Yes sir. One of my guys spotted a tattoo on one of the replacements and brought it to my attention. It was a round disc with a man’s profile on it and the letters BP on the bottom.”
The captain slumped his shoulders and sighed. “Really? Someone doesn’t like us. That is the symbol of the Bad Penny Clan.”
“Who are the bad pennies?” The Dr asked.
The engineer mouthed to the lieutenant, “what’s a penny?”
“The Bad Pennies are a pirate gang.” Nodding his head slowly/ “That explains how they know how to operate ships but don’t know navy procedure or terminology. I can’t believe that fleet put them on board us.”
“Could the orders have been faked?” asked the lieutenant.
“No they had the authentication that they were genuine.” Thinking for a moment. “All of our orders go through the Sector Government first. I must be someone in those offices that changed the orders.”
“Sir, I think they intend to take the ship.”