And now for the final first chapter tearser of my current series in print..
The Garinthian Scourge and the Border Wars
© 2019 Jon Corres Pirate Poet
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the copyright holder, except where permitted by law. This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously.
Cafea’s Log, In the captain’s stead 1
“ Get out of it Cafea… Sha’l Ter, help Kildro with her … Save Scy Lors and Cynthia, Kildro can’t do it alone! GO!”
The door to the bridge shut as mister Renault guided me and my mother in a daze down to the shuttle bay, I was wounded by an explosion at my station just after Cynthia, but I had no idea to the extent. I just knew I could barely walk. Fires had erupted everywhere on the top decks it seems, but somehow the Bernoulli held together. The Savion Reaper was nowhere to be found as it went back for aid as James and Skar’l ran diversionary tactics. Aid that was never able to come in time as I would learn later.
Cynthia was on a gurney and Scy Lors had just gotten onto the evacuation shuttle. The roar of the Bernoulli’s guns rang throughout the ship. I could still hear Forraz cursing over the intercom which was now broken as Azfar and Cafar were constantly talking with James, Rayne and Vashinka.
Manually we opened the bay doors in time to see the Fire Fan open up on a pair of inbound cruisers. The Dragon Empress was still hovering by the remains of half the base we just took out with a dreadnought hot on our heels. Another brilliant manoeuvre by my now missing or dead husband, getting it to get in close over the energy centre and blowing that up instead of firing on our pursuer and sending the vessel into the rest of the complex setting off a series of devastating explosions.
Ahead were another dreadnought and a destroyer class ship, from the look of her, she was Tack – So’s new command vessel. There was no time for anyone to stand around and watch, my husband gave an order to evacuate and we had to obey it. Well, I was in no condition to argue and neither were the other 3 wives. Another pair of fleets was in orbit waiting for the other destroyer class led fleet that was returning from the outer edge of the system as 2 or 3 were wiped out after trying to enter the atmosphere at sub light speed.
That was one reason why the Empress Dragon was still in good shape, that and mister Fizbark, who came along despite all his work at the dry dock and never told us, had managed to implement his deflector style shields and for now they were holding. However, they didn’t go up fast enough to prevent the pounding she took when Arzkel decided to dive into the heart of 3 fleets just jumping from sub light into the atmosphere! The good news, and the reason the Garinthians lost a pair of fleets, was that cruisers weren’t designed to come out of sub light speeds in a planetary atmosphere, bad news was that by doing so they ignited the gasses at that altitude and caused enough damage to rain fire on the surface below. This confusion was enough for my second mother to mount her assault.
Meanwhile, Jame’s hunch that this was a secret staging area set up in a hurry by Tack – So was spot on. This and one other planet on the edge of the system were supposed to be mega bases to launch an onslaught on the Dragon Helm and the rebels nearby to finally crush us and their other problem. We found that out from records we could recover later on. Unfortunately for him, my husband had other ideas and a better offence. The Savion Reaper, originally, had broken off to hit the southern pole base first as James went north. We should have stuck together, but hindsight is rarely helpful.
The last vision I had before mister Kildro put me out with a sedative was the Fire Fan diving for the planets surface while James plunged the Bernoulli in between the massive ships! Flashes of green and red would plague me there after as billowing black smoke filled the air.
I was told by Arzkel that our escape wasn’t easy as we had to run the gauntlet of ships in orbit and then see if what Fizbark had come up with to match the Bernoulli was even going to work, let alone get us to the right place in space. Other pirate clans reported that the atmosphere of Calieb 7, the planet we assaulted, looked more like a major weather event on a gas giant than a habitable world! There were a couple of sightings of a golden flash, a bit like the one I witnessed almost 2 years ago when the Bernoulli did a small hyper space jump to get us away from our moons south pole and to the smugglers cavern prior to our current mountain base, the Dragon’s Nest. No one could confirm or deny that this happened, they could just say that explosions rocked the planet for days and fires could be seen from orbit for about a month or so.
Word came from the Tedarian Free Traders Union that one of their ships was in hiding in an asteroid field nearby when a fleet with a destroyer class, 4 dreadnoughts and a dozen cruisers engaged a pair of burning pirate hulks to no avail. They didn’t say how long the fight lasted or what happened next as they were too busy praying to Magda to pay attention.
Despite orders from Kildro, Cynthia, Scy Lors and myself took Sha’l Ter and Arzkel to the Fah – Hid system and Calieb 7 to see what, if anything, could give us clues to our husbands fate. We offered to take the Arch Nit matons of Azfar and miss Havershime with us, but they declined politely and asked for solitude during this difficult moment.
When we got to the planet, most of the atmosphere was gone. The lands were barren wastes for the most part strewn with rubble and debris from the fighting. Tack – So’s apparent command vessel had been cleaved in two and looked like a pair of tombstones in the earth. We found what was a piece of the Bernoulli on the furthest side of a destroyed base. Much to our horror it seemed to be from the bridge, from the outside.
At least I hoped that was where it was from. An outer door from the lower decks had Azfar’s bandanna stuck to it. I just recall falling to my knees and weeping uncontrollably with Scy Lors as Cynthia was held up by Sha’l Ter. A ways further, remains of cannon from the Fire Fan lay on the bottom of what was a fresh water lake. Again, more Garinthian wreckage than pirate.
If our husband had died, either here or in space, he certainly took more than his kilo of flesh. Then again, Skar’l also had his wicked way with the white devils. We decided to forgo a trip to the asteroid field and went back to the moon, James never got the hang of its name, Coloracus. Garinthian comm traffic was next to non existent, but reports on their end said that Tack – So survived by running away like a coward and lost both destroyers, 5 total dreadnoughts and 7 fleets out of the 12 in the area assigned for patrol and security. The outside bases were abandoned and self destructed so we couldn’t get anything out of it other than the pre-recorded command to evacuate.
One battle to give our clan and family relief, a price too dear to even think, let alone dream about was paid. My husband, first and foremost, his engineer Forraz, Azfar, Cafar, captain Soong and lieutenant Vashinka, captain Skar’l plus around 100 pirates. I couldn’t face our daughters and son Archie and neither could Cynthia or Scy Lors. Cron and Bree collapsed on the news of their recent pators apparent demise. Tem, Sab, Scy and Felia just hugged the now toddlers when they could and never spoke, just cried silently.
To this day, Carinthia still waits at the door for James. She recently gave birth to a litter of 5 cubs, 2 boys and 3 girls. Still, even though I should be happy, I just can’t. Arzkel and Sha’l Ter have tried to keep us going, our spirits lifted, but without any real success.
Captain Ackban and the rest of the Dragon Helm paid their respects. I can’t recall anything any of them said, aside from Ackban’s words of encouragement. Arzkel was now in charge of the Dragon’s Nest and I had full command of the Camden’s Folly. Cynthia has been distant, staying with Archie and reading to him and not leaving his side.
Our daughters still sit on the outer flat’s balcony, as if they think their father is coming home any time. It’s hard to try and dissuade them. I find myself, when on patrol, turning to Scy Lors and almost calling her Azfar, Cafar or asking where James is. Any time I’ve had to speak with Fizbark, I’ve caught myself calling him mister Forraz.
At the dry dock, I’ve found Alice Lucio sitting with her plant pet looking out at the mountains with a tear in her eye as Haimish is unreadable. The brood James fathered before we went on the ill fated expedition has hatched and Scy Lors and the other Arch Nits seemed preoccupied with them. Unlike my brood or Cynthia’s Archie, they need special attention for at least 6 months.
One day, I decided to go to the asteroid belt near Fah – Hid. It gave mister McTavit an opportunity to try out the hyper space capability of the Camden’s Folly, which was as much an excuse as any to get out. When we arrived in the area the traders described, we found wreckage of quite a few vessels. On one of the nearer asteroids we found part of the Fire Fan. It would seem it exploded somehow or was blown in half by cannon fire. There were two frozen bodies of crewmen, but none of the command staff. The radio was permanently fixed to the frequency of the Bernoulli. It was burnt out by the explosion and fused pretty solidly. We were about to head back to the ship when Scy Lors picked up a hand held wireless radio we’d use in emergencies.
It was still active, just not strong enough to do more than issue static at us. We brought it back none the less, a souvenir of a great battle and perhaps hope if we could get it to work. Mister McTavit retrieved the scanner logs, as bad off as they were and set about decoding them. I never mentioned any of this in my report to Arzkel. Why get anyone’s hopes up?
I had limited knowledge of comm devices, but applied myself on the trip back. For a moment, I could swear I heard mister Forraz discussing rations or something, though it seemed distant and I may have been reaching. I knew James would never have given up on us, so I’d not give up on him.
Time seemed to fly and slowly we got back to almost our normal selves. Archie was starting to speak again, we found him a translator crystal in McTavit’s storage shed. The girls, well, they were starting to mirror their mothers in a variety of ways. Unless things changed though, we’d be having a chat about their father sooner than later and it wouldn’t be a very well received one. Their Arch Nit brothers and sisters were coming along, a bit slower than Tedarian or Earth children, but still coming along. Like Archie, the boys seemed to take after James, even down to hair colour and facial expressions.
One day, Sha’l Ter came in with Arzkel and they both looked at us like we were hatchlings.
“ All right, so nothing is all right and we’re no closer to finding James alive or dead. I know, I know, he wouldn’t give up on finding us and making sure we were all alive and in one piece. However, facts are staring us in the face. I loved him as much as you three, so did Arzkel. And yes it does hurt to think of him going out like that without us at his side. He was stubborn, obstinate and a real pain in the arse when it came to thinking of us over his own safety. His sacrifice shouldn’t be remembered that way! Mister McTavit told me a little while back about Jame’s knack for pulling victory from the jaws of defeat…”
She paused with a tear in her eye.
“ Well, his last apparent act was to do just that! What he didn’t manage was to kill the man that made it necessary for him to make such a sacrifice. Tack – So is still out there! We should be concentrating on finding that yellow sadistic Garinthian and putting his head on a silver platter! Feeling sorry for ourselves and dreading what we need to tell Archie, the girls from Cafea’s brood and the 20 daughters and sons to be named from Scy Lors won’t make things easier. I don’t want James to be dead, nor the others! But we can’t wallow in self pity any longer either.”
Carinthia looked in on us with sad pleading eyes. Her cubs came up and nuzzled her, mewing for attention. Scy and Lors, Arkette, little Cafea, Archie and Arzkel Cron came trooping in soon after as Carinthia tried to corral them all. I sat down heavily as Sha’l Tsai climbed up on my lap to hug me.
“ Son, daughters, we need to talk…”
Cynthia started to say but just couldn’t continue. Arzkel gently picked up Archie and fed him along with his sisters before herding them into the living room and sitting them down for what was the longest 15 minutes of our lives. Two of the girls ran from the room crying followed by two of our nannies, another three just hugged each other and Archie cried on Arzkel’s shoulder while the rest of us tended to the remaining. We found the two who ran out with Scy and Tem, it was Sha’l Tsai and Arzkel Cron.
All at once the day came back to me and I silently vowed to find the truth of James demise or escape. We still had the radio and the scanner logs. Fizbark said he could have a report ready for us in about 3 weeks as that was the best he could do. McTavit said the radio could be boosted in about two days. He also mentioned that hyper space travel could have been Jame’s salvation. It could also mean he’s lost out there with limited resources and considering the amount of time that’s gone by…
Anyway, he said he’d give it his top priority. Daskin of the Dragon’s Sail said that two of the lesser clans had formed a pact and were going to try and challenge the Dragon Helm clan for control of the area since the Garinthian hold here had been weakened as it did. News also arrived that the Dragon Roar and Dragon’s Eye would be ready and joining us as part of the fleet stationed here. Ackban mentioned, by Arzkel’s recommendation, that Cynthia be the new captain of the Dragon Roar.
I did a little digging and found that Tark may be financing the new clan and possibly the Garinthians may be backing him on the bid to be its commanding captain or at least its controlling interest. H’tha, my little sister from Arzkel’s side of my mothers, had been transferred to the Dragon’s Nest by Ackban as part of a new raiding party. Her ship, the Little Wing, was packing 2 stealth skiffs plus an arsenal of personal flight packs that were like mister McTavit’s except they worked, were lighter and had a more reliable power cell to draw on.
These were highly adapted to space use and had a camouflage feature. My first thought on those was, if we found James and he was held captive somewhere we could use them to liberate him and the others if they still lived. The good news was, even if they had jumped into hyper space and escaped, the area they could go to was limited to 4 sectors, but plausible. The bad news was 2 of the sectors were controlled by either the Garinthians or a rival clan called the Soul Reapers. The other two were either uncharted or considered neutral territory.
The Golden Dragon and Black Dragon Reaper were now officially ready for duty and action. Their first assignment was a patrol of the immediate area on our western orbital vector that faced the Fah – Hid system. Mister Fizbark was to go along with mister Sali on the Golden Dragon as mister McTavit was to be assigned to look after the Black Dragon Reaper.
Arzkel was to hold the fortifications down as Sha’l Ter was to go on the opposite side planetary orbit and I would take the closer planet, Cerios, and maybe head to the northern orbit that definitely led to a Garinthian stronghold territory also known as the regional senate headquarters with the system representatives of a dozen Garinthian aligned worlds housed in one spot.
It was a tempting target, considering my ire at the moment. However, I had orders and, as James would say, a family to keep an eye on. Speaking of them, Scy Lors had escorted them to the train below and placed them in the care of Felia and Bree Tom’s primary school and day care.
I hated to do that, so did Cynthia and Scy Lors. However, it was either that and keep them socially active with the Arch Nit children or leave them with their younger Arch Nit siblings and have to oversee chaos incarnate!
I’m not sure what the rest of the year holds, the Garinthians seem to be regrouping and stories of the Amanor are reaching Arzkel’s ears from all around the pirate community. Cynthia and I are almost ready to call our searches off. Scy Lors still holds hope with the grand matons, or is it wishful thinking? 6 months since that fateful day, clues have been sketchy and our children disheartened and disillusioned.
I’ll finish this entry with a note from mister Fizbark.
“ I think that I may have found the source of the noise this radio is picking up on and it’s definitely on the other side of the Soul Reapers territory. I’ll need to requisition a ship to go and get a better fix. Rumours have come to Sha’l Ter’s ears about running battles near there… will know more when I get close enough to triangulate.”