Barrett’s Privateers – Plague Ship VIII

by | Feb 26, 2024 | Fiction | 49 comments



The Shade Tree

“Three suits, prepped and ready,” Tim McNeal said.

“Good deal. Heard from the Captain yet?”

“Nothing, Sarge,” McNeal answered. “And I just called up to the Bridge and talked to Frye a minute ago. Not a peep.”

“Then we’re on,” Gomp said. “Adams, you ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Adams replied with a frown. “I’ve never been in a suit before, you know.”

“You’ll be fine,” Gomp assured her. “What about you, Mickie?”

Engineering Tech Michiyo “Mickie” Watanabe just grinned and shot Gomp a thumbs-up. She turned to her suit and began climbing in.

“Good deal. All we have to do,” Gomp reminded them, “is to get to the third-lower access port, get in, and attach that terminal to the main data feed cable for D Ring. Then, Kaelee, you do your thing. All clear?”

“Oh, jolly clear,” Adams said. She looked at the open lower half of the suit, grabbed the hanging rings above the free-standing, armored trousers, and hoisted herself in. “Bloody hell – this thing’s two sizes too large for me.”

“You’ll be fine. Suits are expensive – can’t custom fit everyone.”

Five minutes later, the docking port’s airlock hatch swung outward, and the three space-suited figures climbed out.

Relieved of the Shade Tree’s artificial gravity, the suits automatically activated magnetic pads in the boots, allowing the trio to cling to the upper hull of the privateer ship and look upward, upward, at the sleek, gleaming mass of the Halifax space-dock.

“OK, girls, hang onto the grab rings on my belt,” Gomp ordered through his short-range suit radio. “and release your mag-pads. We’re going for a little ride.”

After exchanging an uncertain look, Adams and Watanabe grabbed the polymer rings that dangled from Gomp’s space-suit belt and tapped the contacts to override their suit’s mag-pads. Their feet floated free of the hull.

“Hold on now.” Gomp released his own mag pads, sighted on the hull of the station above Pier Four, and fired his suit thrusters. He twisted and rolled in mid-flight, and arrived neatly at the station hull feet-first, tapping his mag-pads active just as his feet hit the metal.

“See?” he grinned inside his helmet. “Piece of cake.”

“Mother of God,” Kaelee Adams mumbled.

Tsuppattenjya ne-yo” Mickie Watanabe agreed.

“Never mind that. Access port is,” Gomp glanced at the schematic display he’d taped to his suit’s left forearm, “about four hundred meters that-a-way. Activate your mag-pads, let’s get to walking.” He glanced away from the hull, looking “up” at the stars. “Don’t want to stay out here too long – these suits’ shielding is only good for an hour or two. No need to get a big radiation dose if we can help it.”

“Oh, lovely.”

“Shut up, Kaelee, and get moving.”


Baxter’s office

Philemon Baxter looked up from his desk in shock. “What did you say?”

Fox looked at his boss. “Captain Jean Barrett, Mr. Baxter. She’s waiting in the outer office.”

“Well,” Baxter mused, “This is a bit awkward. How’s she look?”

“Healthy as a horse.”

“Great.” Baxter rubbed his eyes and grimaced. “Show her in.”

It was to Baxter’s credit that he managed to smile as Captain Barrett, still in her shipboard fatigues, walked in. There was hardly a person in the galaxy he less wanted to see, with the possible exception of his ex-wife’s mother; still, he grinned broadly and extended his hand as though he was greeting a valued old friend. “Captain Barrett! So good to see you.”

“Baxter,” Barrett smiled nastily as she shook his hand.

“Captain. I didn’t expect to see you here; I thought the deal was for you to contact the Cape Fortune to arrange the transfer.”

“The Cape Fortune was here,” Jean Barrett pointed out, “at least until an hour ago, making it a tad difficult to contact from way out on the frontier.” She helped herself to a chair across from Baxter’s desk. “Besides – we had a little complication.”

“You did?”

Don’t give me that wide-eyed innocent look, you son of a bitch, Barrett thought, but she kept that to herself. “Yes, just a little one. We got it cleared up, but we’ve had some problems with our Signals suite that made it necessary to come here for repairs. So, I figured, why not come see you in person?”

Baxter looked uncomfortable. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d be too comfortable, this close to a Navy base and all.”

“Oh,” Barrett smiled, “The Navy and I go way back. Fleet Admiral Gauss is an old friend of mine.”

“I see.”

“So,” Jean continued, her smile growing dark, “All I need from you, Philemon, is one thing.”

“What’s that?”



It took some searching to find the access port, faired as it was into the hull of the station. Mickie Watanabe finally noticed the hair-thin seam of the panel after ten minutes of walking back and forth.

“All right,” Gomp told her, “go ahead, try your gadget.”

Watanabe looked at the hatch and then tapped several contacts on a small black panel taped to the arm of her pressure suit.

“No luck,” she grunted.

“Try another code.”

More tapping. “Chikusho!”

“Got any more?”

“Let me try one more thing,” Watanabe answered. “I hope don’t trip any security monitors with this.” Her final option was a program that sent the panels’ controller a spinning list of codes, using a random-number generator to spin through a billion possible combinations in the space of about a minute. Forty-eight seconds later, the hatch slid open.

“Well,” Mickie Watanabe smiled down at the opening. “No alarms. No flashing lights. Looks like we’re golden.”

“Let’s get in. Data cables should be about ten meters in and to the right.”

The three climbed carefully in and made an unpleasant discovery; the station’s artificial gravity functioned, but there was no airlock; the access panel had released no blast of air. The maintenance spaces were not pressurized.

“Can you work in your suit, Kaelee?” Gomp wanted to know.

“I’ll have to, won’t I then?”

“Here’s the cable,” Watanabe called out. “And here’s a panel. You can plug your terminal in here.”

“Good.” Kaelee Adams came forward, pulling a miniature data terminal out of the cargo pocket of her suit. “This is it. Give me ten minutes, and I should have everything we need.”

Gomp stood, tapping his boot impatiently against the aluminum deck plate, watching the minutes tick by on the heads-up display inside his suit helmet. After eight and a half minutes:

“All right,” Kaelee said. “I’ve got what we wanted. The Easter egg is in.”

“Good. Let’s get back to the ship. Time for Part Two.”


Baxter’s Office

“Someone reported you to the Navy as a plague ship?”

“Damn right,” Barrett replied. “And I’m damned mad about it, I can tell you. They boarded us at Tarbos, went through the whole ship.”

“But they didn’t find your cargo?”

“We didn’t have it laying out on the deck. I’ve been doing this sort of thing for a while, you know.”

Baxter frowned. “Well, where was it that a Navy scanning crew couldn’t find it?”

“That,” Captain Barrett smiled, “would be telling. Besides, they were medics – they were looking for pathogens, not contraband.”

“I see.” Baxter drummed his fingers on his desk. “What do you want me to do?”

“Tell me where that cargo came from.”

“I can’t do that,” Baxter protested. “As you put it, Captain, that would be telling. I can’t reveal my sources any more than you can reveal your methods of smuggling.”

“I don’t much care for the term ‘smuggling,’ but I take your point.” Barrett grinned, nastily this time, and stood up. “In that case, I have something else for you.”

It wasn’t apparent from her slim build, especially not when she was wearing her baggy shipboard fatigues, but Jean Barrett was a woman of considerable strength. Throwing herself on the desk, she grabbed Baxter’s shirt and pulled him close, kissing him hard on the mouth. Baxter struggled for a moment, feeling Barrett’s tongue against his clenched teeth, before she let him go.

“See?” Barrett smiled at him, still laying across his desk. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Maybe I just find you irresistible, Philemon,” she told him. Her face changed, from a smile to a mask of anger. “Or, maybe it’s just a little pre-emptive payback; if I’ve got anything, you bastard, now you do too.”

“You’re insane!”

“I’m a pirate,” Barrett agreed, “thanks to you. I’m supposed to be insane. Best of luck, Baxter; I’ll see you around.” She spun on her heel and stalked from the office.

“Wait a minute! What about the goddamn cargo?”

Barrett stopped in the doorway, turned and smiled at Baxter. “What cargo?” she asked. “Are you implying that I have something that belongs to you? Do you have a copy of a bill of lading, or any other documentation of that cargo? I don’t recall having any cargo consignment from you or anyone else, Philemon,” she said as Baxter fumed. “I do have some odds and ends of materials from an abandoned ship we found out near the frontier, legally taken according to existing laws governing legitimate salvage. But I don’t have any cargo,” she smiled.

“You bitch,” was all Baxter could manage.

“A bit of advice, Philemon,” Barrett said, “deal straight with people, and people will deal straight with you. Although, I suspect you’ll have a hard time finding any ship captains that are willing to deal with you at all after this.”

With that, she spun on her heel and left.


The Shade Tree

Gomp pulled off his helmet, and then turned to help Kaelee Adams and Mickie Watanabe out of theirs. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“Nothing like a bit of fresh air,” Mickie said.

“And that was nothing like a bit of fresh air,” Kaelee added.

Gomp looked at his wristband. “Almost fourteen; Captain should be back any minute.”

“The Captain is already back,” Jean Barrett announced as she walked into the narrow docking port compartment. “How did it go?”

“Just as we planned, Captain,” Gomp said. “Maintenance spaces aren’t pressurized, but we managed. Kaelee’s good at this stuff; only took her ten minutes. Mickie got us in with no trouble, too; all I had to do was stand around.”

“Good. Get that data on our system; I want to know where, when, how and to whom Baxter had that transfer set up. Most of all, I want to know how much whoever it is, is paying. We may just all get a bonus this trip. I want to leave port in two hours – get moving.”

“Aye aye, Captain,” the three crew members repeated as one, grinning widely at the prospect of money.

Barrett looked at Kaelee Adams. “You got the Easter egg in, did you?”

“I did, Captain,” Adams smirked. “Next time Baxter tries to make a hyperphone call, all of his confidential records, including all of his cross-border dealings, will be forwarded to the Confederate Bureau of Investigation office on the station. I expect he’ll be getting a visit from a couple of CBI agents about ten minutes after that.”

“And a nice long stay behind a force field in the detention facility down on the surface,” Gomp chuckled.

“I expect he’ll be on his hyperphone line trying to reach the Cape Fortune at any moment, too. Let that be a lesson to you all,” Barrett said. “Do unto others…”

“Before they can do unto you,” Gomp finished the sentence.

They all laughed.



To see more of Animal’s writing, visit his page at Crimson Dragon Publishing or Amazon.

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About The Author



Semi-notorious local political gadfly and general pain in the ass. I’m firmly convinced that the Earth and all its inhabitants were placed here for my personal amusement and entertainment, and I comport myself accordingly. Vote Animal/STEVE SMITH 2024!


  1. juris imprudent

    All’s well that ends well!

    • Not Adahn

      It’s not over yet…

      • UnCivilServant

        Sure it is, next week’s article is just the credits and footnotes.

      • The Other Kevin

        Don’t forget the post credit scene that sets up the next 6 stories in the Aniverse.

      • R.J.

        Aniverse. I like it.

      • ron73440

        The Aniverse is more entertaining than 90% of what passes for entertainment these days.

  2. Sean


    • CPRM

      Her appeal pointed to one of Biden’s drive-in rallies in 2020, during which he said, “honk if you want America to lead again. Honk if you want America to trust each other again. Honk if you want to be united again.”

      Honk Honk indeed.

  3. ron73440

    Couldn’t Baxter have arrested her and confiscated the diamonds?

    Great story, hope that’s not the end.

    • R.J.

      The diamonds were not found, and she did not reveal the location. Baxter knew he was complicit in the crime too. She would implicate him.

    • kinnath

      Arrested for what? Sexual assault?

      • ron73440

        Stealing the diamonds?

        Never mind, forgot she was friends with the Admiral, that would put the fear of God into Baxter.

      • kinnath

        He would have to acknowledge that he knows she has the diamonds that were part of a secret black market deal. There are no diamonds as far as public records go.

      • ron73440

        If not for the Admiral, I think he is high enough on the food chain to make something stick.

  4. The Late P Brooks

    Justice denier

    — Donald Trump has appealed his $454 million New York civil fraud judgment, challenging a judge’s finding that he lied about his wealth as he grew the real estate empire that launched him to stardom and the presidency.

    The former president’s lawyers filed notices of appeal Monday asking the state’s mid-level appeals court to overturn Judge Arthur Engoron’s Feb. 16 verdict in Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit and reverse staggering penalties that threaten to wipe out Trump’s cash reserves.

    Trump’s lawyers wrote in court papers that they’re asking the appeals court to decide whether Engoron “committed errors of law and/or fact” and whether he abused his discretion or “acted in excess” of his jurisdiction.

    Why can’t he just face the facts and accept the truth?

    Confess your sins and make the act of contrition, sinner!

    • The Other Kevin

      Add “lying” to the list of words they’ve twisted around. There is no such thing as a difference of opinion. If you disagree with a Dem you are lying.

      • ron73440

        he lied about his wealth as he grew the real estate empire

        This “legal” decision is a joke, do they think Trump was the one that did the appraisal?

        I don’t think that he was measuring the square footage and looking at comparable places, he would have just used what his people told him.

        All of that is ignoring the fact that NONE OF THIS IS A CRIME!

        Stop making me defend Trum you TDS suffering assholes.

      • The Other Kevin

        To me, he just disagreed with the value of his property. The bank decided what it would lend based on what they thought it was worth and that was that.

        Same thing with J6. He didn’t lie about it. He honestly believed there was a problem with the election. That’s not lying.

      • ron73440

        I honestly believe there was a problem with the last election.

        All of the “Most secure election ever!” screeching just reinforced that belief.


        The Cathedral immediately closing ranks was the tell for me.

      • Zwak says the real is not governable, but self-governing.

        All of the monkeys going “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” was the tell for me.

        How it was done, exactly, I have no idea (although as more and more info comes out, I have a pretty good guess) and most people who see that something happened, start grasping at anything that explains this.

      • The Other Kevin

        If you look at the extraordinary lengths they are taking to stop Trump now, does stuffing some ballot boxes seem like that much of a stretch?

      • R C Dean

        In particular, the “most secure election ever” narrative started on Wednesday morning, before the votes had even been counted.

        Talk about a tell.

      • R C Dean

        Pardon me. I said before “votes” had been counted.

        I meant the “ballots”. Ballots are only votes to the extent they reflect a single vote cast by someone eligible to do so where the ballot was submitted.

      • juris imprudent

        ♪♫ Every vote is sacred,
        Every vote is great,
        If a vote is uncounted,
        Govt gets quite irate. ♪♫♪

      • trshmnstr

        the “most secure election ever” narrative started on Wednesday morning,

        It started months before that when people started bitching about some of the administrative and legal changes put in place because of covid.

        I bring this up because it’s easy to get the mistaken impression that these people are reactionary and jump at opportunities thst present themselves. While true, they also put months and years of planning into what they do and making sure the messaging is set up and percolating before the action is taken.

    • trshmnstr

      Trump’s lawyers wrote in court papers that they’re asking the appeals court to decide whether Engoron “committed errors of law and/or fact” and whether he abused his discretion or “acted in excess” of his jurisdiction.

      I love how the journo highlighted all of the standard stuff from an appeal brief as if it’s some sort of ridiculous ask. Most of what is mentioned is literally pulled out of the descriptions of errors eligible for appeal.

      • Zwak says the real is not governable, but self-governing.

        Back when I bossed Teamsters, every single disciplinary write up I did literally took paragraphs out of the contract. Those idiots still bitched about it every time, and often bitched about it while looking for a new job.

      • Lackadaisical

        ‘what’s a contract?’ /most people who sign contracts

    • Suthenboy

      Didn’t several lenders and borrowers in this business, in that area, testify that what did was common practice and they had all participated in it themselves?
      Didn’t NY’s governor publicly admit that this prosecution was concocted just for Trump and that others in the business had nothing to worry about (Sure, it won’t become standard practice to criminalize common legal behavior for the wrong thinkers).

      To say that the whole thing stinks is an iinsult to turds everywhere.

  5. The Late P Brooks

    In a statement issued through a spokesperson, Trump lawyer Alina Habba addressed only the appeal itself, saying: “We trust that the Appellate Division will overturn this egregious fine and take the necessary steps to restore the public faith in New York’s legal system.”

    How frightfully droll.

    • UnCivilServant

      There would need to be a lot of arrests of politicians, judges, police officers, election workers, political party bosses, and illegal aliens to restore faith in the New York ‘Legal’ system.

    • Zwak says the real is not governable, but self-governing.

      I have the feeling that a lot of nominal Dem voters, such as everyone in NY realestate and finance, is silently hoping this fails on appeal.

      • Lackadaisical

        … And they better stay silent if they know what’s good for them

    • Suthenboy

      SOP for cops and lawyers alike.
      “He had thousands of rounds of ammunition. Thousands!”
      Real journalist, should one exist: “Is that illegal?”

  6. Aloysious

    Thanks, Animal. This has been very enjoyable. (I’m hoping for more.)

  7. The Late P Brooks

    He honestly believed there was a problem with the election. That’s not lying.

    The best way to convince me somebody is lying is to do everything possible to prevent him from presenting evidence to support his claims.

    • kinnath

      He hired lawyers to advise him on how to proceed with challenging the election. They provided advice. Then they were charged with conspiracy.

      It is truly staggering how egregious these persecutions have been.

      • Suthenboy

        Every one of his being dragged into court are legal shams. Jeebus, look at the defamation suit against him. Banana Republic indeed.

      • R C Dean

        The fact that the legal profession didn’t protest just tells you that they, too, are part of the Dominant Culture and the Managerial Class hoping to someday ascend to the Ruling Class. Hell, there was one major international law firm that had been hired for election work that dropped him as a client when their junior associates cried about it (which creates ethical problems, but they were rightfully unconcerned about the ethics rules being enforced, because the enforcers are also DC and MC, so the “But Trump” exclusion would be observed).

        What a disgrace to the profession.

      • Suthenboy

        Prime example of self policing gone wrong. What those idiots dont seem to get is that the only thing the legal profession and govt. at large only have one thing: credibility.
        Piss that away and they got nuthin’.

      • Suthenboy

        Ugh. I am tired already?
        I need to hire a proofreader.

    • juris imprudent

      I hate to remind everyone that Trump’s evidence was all in his head (ego).

      What evidence was laid out in the Time article was within the law, barely, and probably should not be – but that doesn’t mean there was plain and obvious fraud presented in court which the courts then ignored.

      • juris imprudent

        And I have plenty of beefs with the PA SC and it’s ruling, but that wasn’t going to be countermanded by anyone.

      • Suthenboy

        Trump shmump. The man himself has nothing to do with the real issue. That case and the glut of others in various venues is clearly selective prosecution, i.e. lawfare. It should scare the shit out of anyone with half of a brain.
        It makes a mockery of the rule of law and plain for everyone to see that our constitution as written and the ideas , both legal and cultural, are dead letter.
        Him today, you tomorrow.
        The people driving this belong on a rail.

      • Suthenboy

        “…both legal and cultural that undergird it,…”
        Where is my proofreader?

  8. The Late P Brooks

    that doesn’t mean there was plain and obvious fraud presented in court which the courts then ignored.

    The courts refused to hear any evidence, as I recall.

    There is no reason to pretend there aren’t more than enough people in this country stupid enough to elect Biden, but the establishment’s immediate strategic response of sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming “lalalalala we can’t hear you!!!!” will forever taint the process, in my view.

    • Suthenboy

      Evidence? In each case against him he had been denied the opportunity to present any defense at all. Show trials in the fine tradition of the NAZIs, Maoists, Stalinists and totalitarians everywhere.


  1. Animal’s Daily Trump Triumphant News | Animal Magnetism - […] I get into this, check out the latest chapter of Barrett’s Privateers – Plague Ship over at […]