The Merry Band of Pirates offered the bad guys a cease fire. We won't mess with them, if they don't mess with us. Easy, Right?
The aliens chose to do things the hard way. So, the Pirates are racing around the galaxy to clean up the threat to Earth. The infant UN Navy has their own mission with the Alien Legion: get humanity some allies in the fight. And the Ethics & Compliance Office might have to do something...ethical. Unless they can find a way around it.
SPOILER ALERT! The section(s) below SCHMAYBE includes Spoilers.
FULL SUMMARY COMING SOON Until then...
The Rindhalu heavy cruiser Spear of Rantaloss hung motionless in space, relative to the Jeraptha Ethics and Compliance Office ship Will Do Sketchy Things, both ships having completed exhaustive sensor sweeps of the battle area. To describe the action that took place there as a battle was inaccurate; it was a slaughter. The senior surviving officer of the ECO ship We Were Never Here was Commander Zilleen Fentenu, and she did not have anything useful to report. The second group of Jeraptha ships that were awaiting transfer to the humans, had been ambushed by an overwhelming force of Maxolhx warships without warning. All of the ships designated for transfer were systematically destroyed, along with the star carriers they were attached to, and their front-line escort vessels.
The attack had been a complete shock, but what truly concerned Captain Uhtavio Scorandum of the Ethics and Compliance Office was, why had the humans never arrived at the rendezvous point? They were supposed to meet the second group of ships, to take possession, and guide the star carriers to the remote inaccessible forward operating base the humans had established at the edge of the galaxy. If the human ship Valkyrie had suffered a horrible fate, the balance of power in the galaxy might abruptly change again. Scorandum’s head was still spinning from learning that humans were flying the fearsome ghost ship, and that humans had a cache of Elder weapons.
The most shocking news of all was that humans had been flying around the galaxy for years, doing all kinds of awesomely sketchy things, without ECO being involved or even knowing humans were players. Clearly, the Ethics and Compliance Office needed to seriously step up its game.
“Captain Scorandum,” the Rindhalu official representative aboard the advanced-technology warship glared, as she appeared on the bridge display of the Will Do Sketchy Things. “We demand an explanation!”
“Yes, thank you,” Scorandum breathed an exaggerated sigh of relief.
“Excellent, then- Wait, what?”
“We also demand an explanation for this outrage,” Scorandum shook his head sadly. “When you get that explanation from the devious Maxolhx, please pass it along to us.”
“From the-” The spider’s hideous mouth gaped open.
“We also wish for an apology.”
“The Maxolhx do not apologize to any-”
“You misunderstand me. We wish for an apology from you.”
“From us?” The spider screeched. Even through the translator, the sound made Scorandum’s leathery skin crawl.
“Of course. Under our mutual-defense treaty, you are required to defend us against attacks by your counterparts. This was a direct assault by a senior species force, against a second-tier client species of your coalition. You failed to protect us.”
“No doubt you are deeply ashamed by your failure, and will compensate us by-”
“Captain Scorandum! The explanation we demand is how a group of your ships came to be here, after we expressly forbid you to transfer more ships to the humans, and after you claimed this same group of ships was mysteriously stolen.”
“Oh? It seems fairly obvious to me.”
“It seems obvious to us, also. We await your apology.”
“An apology from us?” Scorandum’s main antennas dipped low over his eyes. “Clearly, the Maxolhx stole those ships.”
“The- You are claiming the Maxolhx stole the ships from you, then brought them all the way here, before destroying them? That makes no sense!”
“The methods of the enemy are inscrutable, certainly,” the ECO captain sighed. “That is why we depend on our exalted patrons the Rindhalu, to warn us of impending danger, and to protect us. Which, I am reluctant to mention again, you failed to do.”
“Aaargh! If the ships were indeed stolen from you, then please explain why one of your ships, the We Were Never Here, was found among the wreckage.”
Scorandum blinked. “Well, that also seems fairly obvious.”
“Really?” The spider’s voice dripped with scorn. “We await your rationale for that.”
“Clearly, Commander Fentenu of the We Were Never Here discovered the theft in progress, and bravely followed the enemy here, to determine their intentions. Sadly, the heroic efforts of her crew were unable to overcome the heinous perfidy of the enemy. Before she could report her findings to you, her ship was destroyed.”
“That is your story?” The spider was incredulous.
“Honored Representative, I do not see any other possible explanation.”
“You do not?”
Scorandum shook his head, his antennas flopping side to side. “No.”
“How about this: those ships were never stolen. They were here, waiting for the humans to meet you, but instead the Maxolhx discovered your plan, and destroyed the ships before the humans could use them against all of us.”
“That is a shocking and hurtful accusation,” Scorandum hung his head, his antennas drooping. “It also does not account for the facts.”
“If the humans were supposed to meet us here, where are they? We found no evidence any human ship was ever here.”
“Well-” The spider’s eyes blinked.
“I mean, unless you found evidence that the humans were here, and chose not to share that information with us?”
“We did not-”
“Perhaps,” Captain Scorandum glared at the image on the display, “your people wished to make sure those ships were not available for transfer, so you stole the ships, then gave the Maxolhx their location. Let your counterparts do your dirty work for you.”
“How dare you?” The Rindhalu official raged. “We-”
“Right now, I do not know what to believe. It appears the only thing the two of us can agree on, is that your people failed to live up to your treaty obligations.”
“That is not-”
“Honored Representative, I am not accusing your people of acting in bad faith. Not yet.”
“You had better not be-”
“It is possible that simple incompetence on your part is responsible for this tragedy.”
“AAARGH!” The spider’s image disappeared as the transmission was cut.
Scorandum cut the feed from his end, turning to his second in command. “Kinsta, are we caught in a damping field?”
The officer checked his console to verify. “No, Sir. We are not actually waiting for a formal apology, are we?”
“No. Jump us the hell out of here. I don’t want to push our luck.”