The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Asteroid Colony
22 May YC 121
The pirate’s hideout was some kind of an industrial asteroid colony. I didn’t notice any perimeter defences and focused on the lonely ship which was patrolling the area.
“Hello, stranger,” said I starting the conversation with a kind word.
“Fuck off, egger,” was the reply.
I looked at Aura and said, “I don’t think he is taking us seriously.”
She looked at me and said conversationally, “I think a couple of iron charges should attract his attention.”
“I like the way you think but, unfortunately, we have to use a webifier first.”
I willed Ampuhaukka into a 7.5-km orbit around the pirate, targeted him and activated the web.
“Hey, what the fuck are you doing?” shouted the pirate indignantly and targeted my Merlin. “Let me help you renew your clone, motherfucker!”
I was about to say something witty in response when I heard another voice in the local channel.
“Thank you for the tackle, pilot. I’ll take it from here.”
“What?” said I and looked at the overview.
What I saw there made me very angry. Firstly, the red triangle of the pirate ship was now converted to a V-shaped symbol of a wreck. Secondly, there was a new ship on the grid – a CONCORD cruiser from Threat Reclamation Team, whatever it meant.
“They alphaed the poor bugger,” gasped Aura.
Seething with fury I called the CONCORD vessel, “What the hell do you think you are doing, Captain?”
An arrogant male voice replied, “I have carried out DED executive order 121-23686. Do you have a problem with that, capsuleer?”
“Yes, I do. That pirate ship was my mission objective.”
The CONCORD captain sniggered, “And what did you plan to achieve by caressing it with a Civilian Stasis Webifier?”
“It’s none of your business. My mission is classified.”
“Well, I have good news for you then – classified or not, your mission is over. You can go to your agent and claim your reward.”
“You idiot, I was not supposed to…” I started screaming and then checked myself realising that I nearly divulged the mission objective.
“You know, pilot, I find your attitude worrying. We have just terminated a wanted criminal and you behave like you didn’t want us to do it. I think your commander will be interested to investigate why,” said the CONCORD captain menacingly.
“Oh, trust me, he will have a full report,” snapped I and warped out.
The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station
I stormed into Ijumachi’s office and demanded the answer to the question that was burning in my head, “Mr Vuonolailen, did you inform CONCORD of my mission location?”
The agent stared at me and said icily, “You are not supposed to ask such questions, Mr Korff, and I am not obliged to answer them.”
I refused to be cowed by all that military need-to-know, burn-before-reading, cloak-and-dagger bullshit and pressed on, “I don’t think so, Mr Vuonolailen. I believe I have every right to know why my mission was compromised and I want answers here and now.”
Ijumachi’s face became tense, “What do you mean by ‘compromised’?”
“What I mean by ‘compromised’? I mean a fucking big CONCORD cruiser warping to the grid and blowing my target out of the sky.”
“CONCORD? Are you sure?”
“Check my mission log,” replied I cooling down and dropping myself into the chair.
Without saying a word Ijumachi turned to his monitor and retrieved the mission info. As he went through the logs, he grew furious and muttered under his breath “What the fuck?” and “Executive order, for fuck’s sake!” It was the first time I heard the ever placid agent swear and… it was scary. Having finished his reading, he looked at me and said, “You want the answers? Me too. Let’s see if we can get them.”
Then he dialled some number on his commlink and after a short pause we saw a hologram of a CONCORD officer with admiral’s insignia.
“Good day, Mr Vuonolailen. I trust it’s an urgent matter if you called me on my direct line,” said the officer.
I whistled in my mind and reassessed Ijumachi’s importance in New Eden’s power hierarchy.
“Yes, Admiral,” replied the agent coolly. “Fifteen minutes ago one of our military missions was aborted because of a DED’s vessel interference. I would like to know who authorised that operation and why the Academy was not informed.”
CONCORD Admiral narrowed his eyes, “Can you give me the details of your mission?”
“In your inbox, Admiral.”
The officer turned away and disappeared from view. We waited in silence while he was reading Ijumachi’s message. A minute later he got back to the commlink and said, “I am surprised you are asking about this deployment, Mr Vuonolailen. It was the hostage rescue operation for which you requested our assistance.”
“That operation finished two days ago. You men are not supposed to be here anymore, Admiral.”
“You are forgetting yourself, Commodore! CONCORD has a mandate to conduct anti-crime operations in any system in Empire space.”
I whistled again – Commodore! Ijumachi was full of surprises. If he was a Commodore I wondered what he was doing in the agent’s role, albeit a military one.
“Let me remind you, Admiral, that according to Yulai Convention all such operations have to be coordinated with the local military command which in this system is represented by me.”
Obviously, Ijumachi was in the right, as Admiral softened his tone, “Mr Vuonolailen, our vessel has destroyed a wanted criminal. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. In fact, we did you a favour.”
Ijumachi leaned forward and snarled, “No, you didn’t. We wanted that criminal alive and this is exactly why you must contact me before any engagements in Uitra. Your reckless attack has ruined an important operation and undermined our crime-fighting efforts.”
Admiral turned red, “What a load of horsecrap! How can killing a pirate make your crime situation any worse?”
“You should have asked that question before sending your trigger-happy captain to our mission zone. I will lodge an official complaint and make sure that you will be held personally responsible for the breach of the Convention!” said Ijumachi and angrily slapped the hang-up button on his commlink.
The Admiral’s image disappeared just as he opened his mouth to say something. I discovered that all that time I was holding my breath and exhaled noisily.
“You are not making any friends in CONCORD, Mr Vuonolailen,” noted I.
“With friends like these, who needs enemies?” replied Ijumachi.