sidebar image
  Chapter 2

To Bell the Belle - Chapter 1

Time: CY 10090 — AD Oct 5167 Day One
Location: Andromeda Ascendant - In orbit above Mobius High Guard base

"What do you mean you didn't think it was important enough to send word to me!?" thundered Dylan to the image on the view screen. "They left the ship two days ago and I'm just now learning about it?"

"I mean just what I said," responded Andromeda's core AI. There was a touch of satisfaction in her voice. "I didn't feel the departure of the Valentines was of sufficient importance to distract you from the negotiations on how to augment my crew. They departed two days ago in the Maru."

"I wanted to notify you, Captain," put in Andromeda's holographic self, "but she locked me out of the communications channels." She gave her alter ego a glare that made Captain Hunt wonder if it was possible for one electronic entity to murder another one.

Before Dylan could continue his questioning Tyr and Rommie entered the command deck. Rommie was looking worried while Tyr was merely looking annoyed.

"We checked their staterooms, Captain," said Rommie. "As far as we can determine their belongings are still aboard me. In fact there's a half eaten meal in Beka's stateroom. It's as if they were in such a hurry to leave they just took the clothes on their backs."

"Perhaps they knew how poorly the negotiations were going," drawled Tyr. "And wanted to be well clear of the area before the shooting started."

"Beka received a message from the Mobius communication station right before they left," said holo Andromeda. "It was from someone named George Abernathy, master-owner of the merchant vessel The Sassy Sue. As soon as she played it she gathered up the rest of her family and they departed."

"I want to see that message, Andromeda," said Dylan. "What was in it that was so important that my crew would abandon ship and head off to who knows where?"

"Image on screen now," said Andromeda's core self. Her image on the main view screen was replaced by the image of a man. He looked to be in his mid fifties he might have been considered good looking had he not looked so worried. There were dark circles under his eyes and he badly needed a shave.

"Beka," he was saying, "one week ago the Bellamy's Belle supported by two other ships attacked the Bathsheba spaceport. As a result the FTA has declared Richard Bellamy and the Belle outlaw. The Guild has been given one month to turn Captain Bellamy over to them or they'll declare the entire Guild outlaw for supporting him. I've sent messages for the family to rendezvous at the Rock. We'll leave further instructions there for you if we leave before you arrive. One other thing, Patrick Bellamy and the Enchantress have officially broken off from the rest of his family. He's on Winnipeg talking about organizing some sort of resistance should the FTA decide to strike at the drift. If they do try to resist it will be a massacre. Meet with us as soon as you can and may the Divine help us if we can't capture the Belle."

The image on the screen blanked out to be replaced by the image of Andromeda. "Perhaps I should have contacted you after all, Captain," she said. However the tone of her voice and the expression on her face showed little in the way of contriteness.

Dylan stepped forward until his nose was nearly touching the image on the screen. "Andromeda," he said quietly so that no one else on the command deck could hear him speak, his voice betraying barely controlled anger. "Later you and I are going to have a long and one sided talk about your attitude towards the Valentine family, but right now I want you and your alter ego to go through every bit of data we have, including any personal journals left by Beka, Trance or Harper to try and find out where this rock is."

He stepped away from the viewscreen and turned to his weapons officer. "Tyr, I want you to see what you can learn about this Captain Bellamy. Find out what class of ship the Belle is and any other information you can find out about this pirate and the vessels that accompanied him."

"Rommie, you and I will be going planetside. We're going to have to do some fancy talking to excuse ourselves from the negotiations. From the message I gather that this George Abernathy thinks the FTA might occupy Winnipeg Drift, and the last thing the Commonwealth needs is for the FTA to have a lock on trade between the Andromeda Galaxy and the Large Magellanic Cloud.

"Andromeda," he said to the image on the view screen, "inform Mobius traffic control that you will be departing orbit in twenty four hours. According to the date stamp on that message it was already three weeks old when it arrived here. We need to find these pirates before Beka does, and before the FTA takes action."

  Chapter 2