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Old August 21st, 2019, 04:05 AM
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After Farber had exited everyone looked at everyone else and then to commissioner Haswell. “Well, gentlemen? Thoughts?”

IISS Team Leader Larry Graves was the first, “I say we hunt down this stray dog and put him to sleep.”

“I’ll remind you not to use that language in my office nor in my presence. We are all his majesties subjects, and as per his edict for better relations among the races, we will refrain from such abusive language. However right you may be. Anyone else?”

“Larry’s got my vote.” Tolchin stated. “I think I know what ship it is.”

“Care to enlighten the rest of us?” The commissioner was exhausted with not having enough information.

“Loosely translated, the name could mean Jaws of the hunter, or the main tooth of the one who hunts, or, more precisely, ‘Stalker’s Fang’. Commanded by a Captain Kahyvagh Gahv, formerly of the Empire of the Guiding Star Navy.”

“Empire of the guiding Star?” It was Chief Salinger’s turn to sound confused. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“It was some petty dictatorship that lasted for a few decades. If boasted an OOB of some thirty six patrol ships, like this one. A few frigates, one or two heavier units purchased from another power before the government was toppled by a coup. As with most things Vargr.”

“And this Captain, what, Gahv? He struck out on his own?”

Tolchin nodded. “This isn’t a big secret, but rogue Vargr captains are almost a necessity for Vargr space. It’s how half their fleet operate, and why we keep sweeping the borders every so often.”

Marshal’s Service Jim Iochona chimed in, “So, what makes this guy so interesting? Vargr raiders are nothing new.”

Tolchin stepped in again, “He somehow manages to keep ahead of our attempts to intercept him.”

The commissioner wasn’t satisfied, “You think Vargr in the Imperial navy have been tipping him off?”

“No, there’s no evidence for that. That, and we checked. Nine times out of ten it’s those you least suspect, and the motivation’s always money. But I don’t think there’s been a breach in security. I just think he plain out thinks us. He keeps on his toes. Doesn’t stay in any one place for very long, unlike many human pirates who like to splurge their wealth on wine and women, Captain Gahv sees his raiding as his way of life. Marrying his wolf borne instincts with starship combat is a deadly mixture.”

“How do we nab him?” Captain Frank Kashlin off of the CVL Lightfoot, a decorated FB pilot and Carrier “Air” Group commander had seen his fare share of anti Vargr raider sweeps, and didn’t mind strafing a yellow and black hull with lasers, or putting a few high yield conventional anti-shipping warheads into her hull.

The commissioner leaned back in his seat, which dutifully squeaked in response to his girth. “I don’t know. We’re just going to have to station units at all possible points of intercept.”

“Commissioner.” Tolchin again.

“What is it Commodore.” Haswell took a jab at the officer’s rank. He knew how Tolchin thought that commodore was something from the days of when naval officers wore garish feathered uniforms with exaggerated epaulets and braids.

Tolchin relented and half smiled at the jest, “I think whoever owned that ship had the right idea, but not enough fire power to pull it off.”

“I’m not following.”

“I think the captain thought she could take on the crew. She thought she was dealing with some two-bit thugs who had managed to get their hands on a starship and crew it. But, based on this, both logs and report, we’re dealing with a fully trained ex-military, or rather active military fully armed ship that doesn’t know, or wish, that the war is over.”

The commissioner sighed. “Are you going to ask me to ask the local noble, or the subsector duke, to muster a strike force to go into the Extents? Because your own Imperial boys aren’t going to disturb those troubled waters.”

“A local navy with a far reach may be the thing. I can think of few other options.”

It was Commander Larash Ahrnol’s turn to speak up. Tall , thin, gaunt, and somewhat elegant like his Vilani heritage was known for, his tone was less pointed, less hostile, and more mitigating. “Can we not pressure local Vargr governments into a cooperative joint task force?”

Haswell saw the fire in Tolchin’s eyes, and waved him back as he let his voice step in over Tolchin’s attempted rebuttal, “Get serious, will you, commander? Half their naval forces, military in general, are on the take, and those that aren’t would side with this captain Gahv. If not for a chance to take on and plunder our task force, then simply out of spite to stick it to us. You want that?”

But Ahrno’s tone was unrelenting, “I think you mischaracterize all of them. There are Vargr who desire to cooperate with us in order to put down lawlessness in their own space.”

The commissioner relented, and let Tolchin have his say. “Commander, there are ‘good Vargr’, yes, but this Captain Gahv and his ship are out for blood. And nothing galvanizes a war-pack like a blood lust under a leader who has proven he can take on the humans and beat them time and again. That’s the danger!”

“But he’s spared people… he hasn’t devastated for the sake of it.”

“That’s his one saving grace, commander. But it’s also his key strength which could draw others to his side. His reputation of not killing everyone will show that he’s a ‘humanitarian’, when in fact he’s a cold blooded killer that only kills when he needs to or when it suits him. When more word of his exploits gets into the ears of mainline Vargr units, we could have a full scale war on our hands. That’s why we need to go in alone, in my opinion. If you can find trustworthy Vargr naval units willing to help, then I’ll let them to your squadron, but not to my fleet.”

And there was the standoff witnessed by a dozen high ranking Imperial officials between an Imperial of mixed blood and pure blooded Vilani who believed that cooperation was a better alternative.

Haswell had to say something less things get more tense or out of control. “Gentlemen, I want alternative plans. The longer we wait the more damage this Captain Gahv does. No doubt there are going to be Vargr who will flock to his call, if he has one. The, pardon the pun, lone-wolf type is a lone-wolf for a reason, and he may not desire a following. Regardless, we need to find a pattern in his attacks, and formulate a plan on how to intercept him and bring him down.” Haswell exhaled a well deserved sigh. “Dismissed!”

Haswell squeakily turned his chair to the large bay windows over looking Efate’s startown, watching distant sleek shaped metal containers riding on blue hot flames amidst the usual traffic of grav vehicles.

All left, but Tolchin.

“Jake.” Tolchin said, “I’ve orders to ship out tonight. I won’t have time to come back tomorrow with a battle plan. I want a clear directive. If I run into that S-O-B out there, what do you want me to do?”

Haswell played with an old fashioned pencil. Twirling it in one hand, and then gently pounding its eraser portion on a note pad before looking over his shoulder and giving Haswell the “you know me” look. “Use your common sense.” Haswell grinned and turned back to the evening visage of traffic silhouetted against a fiery orange setting sun.
Sir Ghost, Knight of Imperial occupied Terra, Sol.
Travels with Blue Ghost; musings of a knight of the Imperium.
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