Star Guardian
Chapter 9: Going After the Pirates

Copyright© 2018 by Duncan7

After clearing up from breakfast, we left my cabin and moved to the main bridge. We all took a seat by the tactical display. Jem and Koluna looked at me, it seemed I was elected to start things off.

“Ship, let us assume that the probe returns with news that there are several pirate vessels in that star system ahead. What can we use to neutralize them, without putting ourselves at risk?” I asked.

“I have several pulse energy weapons that have a long range. If we keep a distance, we could fire on a pirate vessel without getting too close. Of course they might have similar weapons,” said Ship.

“What about defensive shields? Can we cloak this ship like you did with the probe? Please educate me on what we have,” I said.

“Our shields are most likely comparable or better than the shields on the pirate vessels. We are cloaked currently, although the energy requirements allow either continuous shielding or cloaking, but not both,” said Ship.

“I think direct confrontation is too risky. What if several pirates attack us at once? They could overwhelm us.,” said Koluna.

“I agree with Koluna. We need a way to not be there at all,” I said. “Ship, can your cloaked probe deliver a payload or carry anything offensive? That way we can keep out of harm’s way.”

“Confirmed. It can be done,” said Ship. Jem watched me with a look of awe. It made me feel uncomfortable as a Tian I was not used to such open display of feelings. I certainly did not feel they were warranted. What am I missing here?

“What do you have in mind?” Koluna asked.

“Well, um, I think I have an idea. Does Baglogi technology include nano-bots?” I asked.

“What do you mean by nano-bots?”

“Small microscopic robots, sometimes used for medical purposes. They can perform simple tasks. They can also be programmed to replicate themselves,” I answered.

“Yes we have those, we use them for medical and other delicate applications. Do you intend to use them on the pirate vessels?” she responded.

“If we can, yes. Can you create a batch of self-replicating nano-bots, that latch onto and consume the outer hulls of the pirate vessels? I would need them to know the difference between the hull of a pirate vessel and Ship’s hull, and it would be good if there was something we could broadcast to activate or shut them down. They would need to function in space, and after a few days they should shut down permanently, so they do not remain a hazard to others,” I said.

“That sounds nasty! I can work with Ship on that,” Jem responded.

“Confirmed,” Said Ship.

“And Ship, as far as delivery, I have in mind some kind of spray, that delivers a minute quantity of nano-bots in the desired direction. Density should be low, no more than 100 nano-bots per cubic unit of space, to avoid detection. The probe can creep up on the pirate vessels and spray nano-bots towards them. We could even create clouds of nano-bots in the flight path of a pirate vessel. It would be hard to detect and hard for the pirate vessel to change course in time to avoid it.”

“Acknowledged. I can have two probes outfitted with a delivery mechanism to those specifications. The shielding on the pirate vessels might neutralize the nano-bots, so delivery is best when their shields are down,” said Ship.

“Thank you Ship. Uh, does anyone have something to add to the plan so far? What are we missing?” I asked.

“We should be in the system, cloaked. Far enough from the action, but close enough to control the nano-bots. And make double sure we can turn them off safely,” Koluna said.

“Agreed. And Ship you will need to track the movement of these clouds of nano-bots, to put up on our tactical display and to avoid us flying into them,” said Jem.

“Acknowledged,” said Ship.

“Is there anything else?” I asked.

Hearing no responses I thanked them, and we declared the meeting over. I was somewhat amused it went so smoothly. I felt something was going on that was beyond my understanding. So far it was all positive, so I was content to let it play out.

Later I returned to my cabin to rest. Raised on a planet I was used to the regular cycles such as day and night. Since moving out into space, and the chaos, my internal chronometer was a bit messed up. So far, I was not assigned duty hours like I had on the freighter. All the preparations were being made, and I had nothing on my list to do. I could have walked around Ship, learning more about the systems. I was a little bored and mostly tired, so I returned to my cabin.

The difference now was it was not just my cabin. I was soon joined by Koluna and Jem. I wasn’t about to decline their company of course. It was a new and positive development in our relationship, and I was happy about it.

“We should get lots of rest, when we find the pirates, we will need to be sharp,” said Jem. She and Koluna stripped out of their uniforms this time and got in bed. They left a space in the middle for me. Soon I was between them, and we found a comfortable position to sleep. Ship lowered the lights, and we slept.

During the night, we must have moved around somewhat. I woke up on one side of the bed, which was good because I could get out and use the en-suite. I followed that with a beverage, and I sat down at the table to think. I was interrupted soon after when Jem called me to come back to bed. I finished my drink and went back and tried to get some cuddling and more sleep.

Later, I was awakened by an alert from Ship that the probe was now returning. We all got up and dressed and Jem and Koluna said they would meet me in the main bridge. I took my time and made my way, arriving first. They arrived soon after.

Ship had brought us to a complete stop, in order to retrieve the probe.

“Ship, please present your findings,” said Jem.

Ship then went through a detailed report of the intel gathered by the probe. I was impressed with the quality of the intel. The intel showed that the pirates had made a base on the surface of a moon orbiting the second planet in the system. There were seven pirate vessels either docked or in orbit around the moon, and one vessel appeared to be patrolling the system. There were specifications on the ship types, but that did not mean too much.

The probe did not provide a specific count of the crews aboard the pirate vessels since that would have required an active scan. Active scans would likely have alerted the pirates to the probe’s existence.

We now knew for certain the pirates were in the system ahead of us, including where they were and how many vessels they had.

Soon after that, Ship engaged the hyper drive to take us closer to the edge of the star system.

Ship announced to everyone we were coming out of hyper drive and decelerating to sub-light speed. We were now just outside of the star system, and hopefully out of direct line of sight from the pirate base. We continued in at sub-light as Ship deployed the two probes. One probe headed directly to the pirate base as the other one searched out for any patrolling vessels.

We sat together in the main bridge, watching the tactical display. The two probes were running full stealth, which meant that there was no live data from them. Any broadcast could alert the pirates, and that would ruin our plans.

Ship was also running full stealth, slowly moving around the outer edge of the star system to confirm the locations of any pirate vessels on patrol. Weapons were at the ready, but only in case the nano-bots did not work.

“My calculations suggest that probe one has reached the pirate base,” announced Ship. We continued to watch the tactical display. So far there was no sign of the patrolling pirate vessel. Lots of thoughts were going through my head. Like what if the pirates were no longer here, maybe they were out on another raid, or perhaps they had discovered the earlier probe and hidden to try to catch whoever sent the probe.

Then, on the tactical display, we saw a pirate vessel moving from the far rim of the star system, and going towards the location of the pirate base. It was moving pretty fast, perhaps it had been alerted to something back at base. Jem ordered Ship to move in a little closer, so we could observe the events.

“There is something wrong with that pirate vessel,” said Koluna, “it looks like it is on the wrong trajectory and speed to attain orbit around the moon.” Soon after, we watched the vessel crash into the moon.

“No-one could have survived that crash,” I said.

“That must have been the nano-bots,” said Jem. “It was hard to program them to just consume the hull, as much of the internal systems were of similar materials. I think their navigation and control systems were affected.”

The crashed vessel was on a different side of the moon to the pirate base. Ship drifted slowly around to get into a position where we could see the base, but not too close. As the pirate base came into view, we could see the extent of the damage. There were several vessels in a stationary orbit over the base, all of them appeared to be without power and had gaping holes in their hulls. Debris, including corpses were floating near the vessels.

“Ship, could you bring up the intel from the initial probe and compare with what we are seeing now please,” said Jem. We watched the tactical display and saw the previous images of the pirate vessels. The before and after comparison showed just how devastating the nano-bots were.

Down on the moon surface, the vessels docked at the base suffered the same fate as the orbiting ones.

“Can we shut down the nano-bots, they have completed their work. If the base has not been compromised, there may still be someone alive down there,” said Koluna.

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