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15 March 2018 @ 05:09 pm
_Space Marshal_ part 24  
Okay, back to my deathless prose . . .

Chapter Fleet Moves

The rebroadcast of Space News from the station at L4 had become a morning staple of Gerald’s routine the third day in Gany. It was another sign of normalcy to hear the same cheerful twit babbling on about what was happening in space, and then move on to the international news.

“The big news today is the International Fleet is wrapping up their maneuvers around Mars and is heading for the Asteroid Belt, to visit all six stations and the three inhabited Asteroids; Ceres, Vesta, and Juno. They’ll be looking into reports of increased thefts of claimed asteroids and mineral packages in route to Earth orbit, and the recent attack on a shuttle between Station Zero and Station 345.”

“Outstanding.” Gerald relaxed a bit. So long as they don’t fall for the bullshit from Fifteen and Ceres, the way I did! And don’t hunt down Spence.

Is this why he left so quickly? Without Dee?

Probably not a bad idea. The Fleet can clean up the worst, and I’ll try to figure out how to stop it from happening again.

Somehow.

If necessary, I can deputize Spence’s slider friends.

And hope to hell I’m not wrong. Again.

***

At the office, Dee was entertaining Pete, Gonzo, and Spike.

“ . . .with his mouth hanging open. Honestly, you’d think he didn’t know little girls were capable of growing up!” Dee spotted him and grinned. “Did you hear about the fleet? Oh, man, I’d love to see those pirates try something with them around! They’ve got ships with serious acceleration.”

“And weapons,” Pete added.

Gonzo shook his head. “A year minimum until they get here. The pirates will have cleaned up their messes and look sweet and innocent when the fleet shows up.”

Spike grinned. “But what do you want to bet they’ve sent some smaller ships in ahead?”

Gerald nodded. “Hopefully they’ll act on my reports and head for Station Fifteen and Ceres first. If they go on common knowledge, they’re headed here.”

“Shore leave on Station Zero. That’ll keep ‘em happy.” Pete grinned. “Poor, mind you, but happy.”

A snort from Gonzo. “Poor girls won’t know what to do with all those customers.”

Gerald winced. “And perhaps wives and daughters need to travel in groups?”

“Oww! We’ll warn any visitors that the Pros are in the brothels, the women in the streets are not in that kind of business. Hands off.” Spike glanced at Dee. “Please call one of us to escort you. If you need to go anywhere but the business district. Here to the second level entrance shouldn’t be a problem.”

Gerald nodded. “I didn’t think to ask where, or even if, you had a place to stay.”

“Spence has an apartment.” Dee sighed. “Surrounded by a pack of elderly men. Maybe I’ll move, and be really independent.”

Gerald was not the only man giving her alarmed looks.

Spike ran his hand through his short hair. “Ah . . . give it at least a couple of weeks to see what the Fleet is actually going to do.”

***

Three hours later, his comm buzzed.

“Marshal? Tia Herron. The Light Cruiser FSNA Franklin has just contacted Traffic Control for permission to dock. Would you like to join me in A tube to greet them in two hours?”

“That was a lot sooner than I’d expected, Mayor. I’ll be there.” Gerald leaned back. “Well. For good or bad, it’s started.”

“It’ll be good,” Dee called from the front. “Anything is better than pirates.”