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Loose Cannon

Loose Cannon

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Loose Cannon

81 Seiten
1 Stunde
Oct 12, 2014


Military intelligence officer Lieutenant Barb Carolus is ordered to investigate Colonel Locke, a rogue officer suspected of selling military weapons on the black market. Colonel Locke is from Barb’s home planet and she knows exposing his crimes will tarnish the reputation of those rare people like her who’ve escaped the poverty and gangs of their home world to become officers. But orders are orders and she always does her duty.

For the mission she’s teamed with the unconventional -- and in Barb’s opinion, entirely unprofessional -- undercover agent Taya Borovsky. Working with Taya will test Barb’s by the book approach to the limits, especially when attraction overcomes her irritation with Taya. Bitter about upholding standards nobody else does, Barb gives in to her desires.

When the mission goes bad, Barb and Taya are on the run and outgunned. To survive, Barb must learn from Taya’s unconventional methods and improvise a solution to complete her mission and save their lives.
Oct 12, 2014

Über den Autor

Writer of science fiction and romance.

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Loose Cannon - Becky Black


Chapter 1

Lieutenant Corolus reporting, Major. Barb snapped off a salute.

At ease, Pavesh said. Corolus, did you ever work with Colonel Locke?

Barb tensed. Do you mean Colonel Roger Locke, of the 25th Strike Group, ma’am?

How many other Colonel Lockes do you know? Yes. That one.

No, ma’am. I never served with the Colonel.

But you are from Lawrentia, like him?

Barb kept the usual flinch inside. Yes, ma’am. She’d got out as soon as she hit eighteen and never looked back. Almost twelve years later, she made it to first lieutenant, with a good posting in Military Intelligence. She still couldn’t shake the dust of the place from her well-polished shoes.

We think Locke is selling weapons.

Barb frowned. She must have misheard. Excuse me, ma’am?

It’s tough to hear. But weapons have gone missing from the base under his command on Pritchitt. An investigation he led claimed it was clerical error. Senior brass didn’t buy that, so there was another investigation—one he didn’t know about. It’s turned up evidence the colonel himself is involved.

Impossible. Totally ridiculous. There had to be a mistake. Some jerk had messed up. Or was looking to pin something on Locke.

Excuse me saying so, Major, but I find this difficult to credit.

I know he’s something of a national hero to your people.

That was an understatement. The highest ranking Lawrentian in the service, he was an inspiration to the men and women who wanted away from the mines and the gangs.

But the evidence is credible and must be followed up, Pavesh went on. Believe me, I don’t want this to be true anymore than you do. I’d like it if you came back and told me someone is framing him, or is just plain wrong. But if it’s true…

If it was true—and Barb had to entertain the possibility it might be. In the end, he was only human. All humans could be corrupted by money. It would be a betrayal of those few Lawrentians like her who had not only joined the military, but had earned commissions as officers. It would damage all of them. Barb knew her background already held her back. She should have a captaincy by now. So she had to learn for herself if it was true. Or make sure he wasn’t being railroaded. Yes, she was exactly the right woman for the job.

What are my orders?

Pavesh brought up the holo projector on her desk. A projection appeared, moving slowly, specs floating around it. Do you know these? Pavesh asked.

One of the new model pulse cannons.

The weapon was almost all a three-meters-long barrel. A bulge at the back was the field generator for the plasma pulses the gun fired. They were like concentrated bars of dense energy and could punch through both defensive fields and ships’ hulls, like a high-velocity round from a projectile rifle.

These are what he’s selling. Aside from the obvious attraction of their firepower, their other selling point is how easy they are to fit and integrate into a ship’s systems.

Barb had read the reports on them. The plasma cannons could be swapped out fast. Remove a damaged one from its mounting brackets, unplug the connectors, then mount and plug in a new one in its place. It drastically reduced the downtime of the single- or dual-pilot fighters they were mostly mounted on.

They’ve also become popular among smugglers and pirates and anyone else with a small ship they’d like to arm with military-spec weapons which are easy to install.

Barb could imagine. The cannons weren’t sold to civilians—not legally anyway. Anyone who had control over a stash of them might well be tempted by the easy money to be made in a seller’s market. Had Colonel Locke given in to temptation?

You’re going into the field along with an undercover agent from the Secret Intelligence Services.

Barb frowned. This isn’t an all Milintel operation, ma’am?

No. For one thing, the fewer military people know about it, the less chance of it getting back to Locke. For another, this agent has been in deep cover for some time, posing as a courier and trader with a sideline in smuggling. Exactly the sort of customer who wants to buy one of the weapons.

Then why are Milintel involved at all? Sounds like SIS have it in hand.

"Because we want to be involved. He’s one of ours. You’ll provide the expertise on military matters the SIS agent doesn’t have. Also, I want you to keep an eye on her."

May I ask why?

"I’ve read her file SIS sent over. I’ll send it to you to check out, too. Frankly, she looks as if she’s been undercover too long. She probably thinks she is a smuggler."

Pavesh brought up a document on her screen, glanced between it and Barb. Taisiya Borovsky. The last mission she went on, SIS had to bail her out of jail. She had a psych eval along with her most recent performance appraisal. According to the findings of the appraisal and the evaluation, she’s ‘mostly competent, usually effective, and probably sane.’

Probably sane? Barb schooled her face into the most neutral expression she could maintain.

Borovsky will arrive tomorrow and take you on with her to Pritchitt Orbital Habitat, where she’s based. You and Borovsky have to ensure Locke comes to at least one meeting about the sale. If you can put him and the weapons in the same place, we’ve nailed him.

And what then? A court martial? A public show where

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