Barrett’s Privateers – Unrepentant Sinner V

by | Apr 15, 2024 | Fiction | 33 comments


The Shade Tree

“You want to know how many ships have left Tarbos in the last two days?”

Captain Barrett looked down at Indira Krishnavarna where she sat at the Scanning console. Dismay spread across the Captain’s face. “How many?”

“At least fifty. Transit Control won’t release the exact number, but I’ve got transit tracks on at least that many ships.  The tracks fade with time, but I’m pretty sure I can read back forty-eight hours, maybe a tad more.”

“Anything unusual?”

“No, just the usual destinations – Avalon, Zed, Earth, Forest,” the Exec read off destinations as she pointed out tracks on the scanner panel.

“Where’s Gomp?”

“On his way to the Skyhook – he’s going to nose around, see if there was any unusual shuttle traffic or anything out of the ordinary going up and down the ‘Hook.”

“Good idea. What about our passenger?”

The Exec made a wry face. “The Colonel? He went with Gomp. He insisted on it, in fact; said he knew some people that might be in a position to tell us something.”

“I hope he’s right.”


The Tarbos Skyhook

The lower three levels of the Navy’s section of the Tarbos Skyhook were taken up by a myriad of small offices, supply rooms, and cubbyholes, but Augustus Feller seemed to know exactly where he was going as he led Hector Gomp through the rabbit-warren maze of passages and elevators.

“Where are we going, sir?”

“Port Controller’s Office,” Colonel Feller replied.

“Port Controller?  The Captain called them – they said they can’t release any info on any filed flight plans, just on arrivals and departures. Doesn’t help much.”

“Trust me,” Feller said over his shoulder. “Ah – here we are.”

Feller tapped on the door marked PORT CONTROLLER and walked in, with Gomp close on his heels. Just inside the somewhat claustrophobic compartment, a gray-haired Master Chief Petty Officer sat behind a desk, frowning at his terminal screen.

“Jack!” Feller burst out. “How the hell are you?”

The Master Chief looked up, his frown changing to a grin. “Gus Feller! Well, I’ll be damned. I’m doing fine, Gus, you old bastard. How’re you?” He jumped to his feet, grabbed Feller’s outstretched hand and shook it. Gomp noticed the tattoo of a laughing seal on the man’s forearm.

“Never better,” Feller said. “Jack Ganns, my sidekick here is Hector Gomp.  Hector’s a good boy – did five years in the Corps. Confederate type.”

Gomp reached to shake hands. “Pleased to meet you, Master Chief.”

“Same. If Gus Feller vouches for you, you must be a good fella.  Sit down, boys,” Ganns waved at two chairs in front of his desk. “What’s going on, Gus?  Why the sudden visit?”

“I need a favor, Jack,” Feller said.

“Name it. I still owe you for that Delta Amacuro business.”

Feller waved his hand. “Jack, I told you before, I was just doing my job.”

“Yeah, maybe – but it was one hell of a job.”

“Just routine; Marines are always bailing you SEALS out of trouble, you know that.” Both men laughed.

“Where’s Delta Amacuro?” Gomp wanted to know.

Ganns and Feller looked at each other and grinned. “Well,” Feller said, “where it is, is in Venezuela, back on Earth. What it was that we did there neither of us can talk about. That deal will still be classified when your grandkids are old folks, Gomp.”

“That’s right. Those were the days, though,” Ganns agreed. “So, Gus – what’s the favor?”

Feller leaned forward. “Jack, you can bring up a list of ship departures from Tarbos for the last two-three days, right?”

Ganns glanced at his terminal. “Yeah. That’s easy. Why?”

“Gomp here, his ship is missing two crewmen. Young girls, Jack. We think someone picked them up.”

“And that they’re on a ship heading out somewhere? Hell, Gus, have you talked to the CBI? They handle missing persons if you suspect they’ve been taken off-planet.”

Feller let out an explosive snort. “Shit, Jack, you know how that works. People jump ship all the time – ain’t a week goes by that some ship captain doesn’t drop in claiming someone is ‘missing,’ and nine times out of ten they just got a better offer. The Captain filed a report, but it will stop right there; you know it, and I know it.”

“But you know these two girls better than that,” Ganns said.

“You bet, Master Chief,” Gomp said. “Mickie and Sassy have been with us for over a year. Both of them like the life and they like the ship. I’d bet a year’s pay against them being jumpers. The clincher, though, is that they just disappeared from the hotel they had booked – no forward, no message, skipped on the bill and all. I know these two gals – they just ain’t like that.”

“I’m not really supposed to do this, you know. But two young girls missing from a good crew, and what with the rumors we’re hearing around here; hell, yeah, I’ll help. Let me have a look at the departures,” Ganns said. He turned to his terminal, tapped away for a few moments.

“Well,” he said at last, “this is interesting. You said you thought someone picked these girls up, right?”

“That’s right,” Gomp agreed.

“Gus, look here.” Ganns turned his terminal screen half-way around and pointed at one line.

“The Brookes?” Feller frowned at the screen. “They wouldn’t be that stupid, would they?”

“It gets better,” Ganns said. “Remember Chuck Dotsero?”

“That son of a bitch. I remember relieving him of duty for falsifying pay records.”

“Yeah, well, that’s his ship.”

Feller leaned forward again and inspected the record. “Sure as hell. Charles Francis Adams Dotsero. Can’t be two of those.”

“And with a ship named the Brookes, want to guess what he’s up to now? It all fits, Gus.”

“It does at that.”

“One of you want to clue me in?” Gomp asked.

“Bit of old Earth history, Gomp. The original Brookes was a slave ship, ran in the old Africa – North America slave trade in the late seventeen hundreds. Slavers,” Feller snapped, “you’d think we had outgrown that by now.”

“I’ve heard rumors,” Ganns said. “People do turn up missing now and then – and not all of them are ship-jumpers. We’re talking civilians, groundhogs from Mountain View and some of the towns around.”

“Probably ending up on some mining station on a moon or asteroid somewhere,” Feller agreed. “You have any idea how many little mining stations and gas distilleries there are out there? Every settled system that has an asteroid belt or a ringed gas giant must have hundreds of little pressure domes and stations floating around out there. Half of them are supplying ships off the books, too. Sooner or later the government’s going to have to do something about them.”

“Maybe,” Ganns said. “But I’d give long odds against even the Navy being able to find them all, Gus, much less regulate them.”

“True. Back to the Brookes, then. Where are they headed, Jack?”

“Flight plan says Avalon. Could be anywhere, Gus.”

“Avalon’s a start. If they’re worried about anyone coming after them, they’ll want to pick a filed destination not too far off from where they’re really going, just so their transit track isn’t too far off. Chuck Dotsero’s a crook, but he’s not stupid – he’ll assume that sooner or later, someone will try to track him down.”

“We have to let the Captain know about this,” Gomp said.

“Yeah.” The Colonel stood up.  “Jack, it’s been a pleasure. When I get back from this trip, let’s go have a steak and a few beers – talk about the old days some.”

“I’ll look forward to that, Gus.” They shook hands. “See you around, old man.”

“Take care of yourself, Jack. Gomp, let’s get back to the ship.”

“Right with you, sir.”


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

Links, in case you need them:

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. Not Adahn

    The historic reference made me think of B5’s Abrahamo Linconi.

    • R.J.

      *Insert joke about things named after George Bush here

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

      From the AM linx:
      “Can you run/jump without them ADing?’

      Run and jump? Is that why you mag dump instead of hitting the bull?

      • EvilSheldon

        It’s a pity, the way some people never learned to shoot fast. I blame the NRA…

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

        Indeed, it is sad that some can’t shoot accurately. I blame video games…

        All BSing aside, I do wish I walked better, and could do action shooting.

      • EvilSheldon

        I have two words for you, my differently-mobile friend – Steel Challenge. No running or even walking needed, just draw and blast five steel targets as fast as possible, rinse and repeat. It’s a ton of fun, and there are divisions for pretty much anything – the Rimfire divisions are some of the fastest and most competitive.

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

        My range has that, but I assumed* it was running, jumping, and pirouetting. Sounds like a good chance to pull out the K22 masterpiece.

        Also, I would recommend bullseye competition. There is nothing better at working towards achieving zen, along with working on getting the old heart rate down, and great anaerobic muscle exercise.

        *I know, I know.

      • Not Adahn

        I did shoot for a season in the Adirondack Foothills Pistol League (Bullseye) and I did enjoy it.

        What killed it for me was the time commitment — by the time I could get off of work, retrieve my pistol and get to the venue (though it was a lot of fun visiting clubs around the area) the first several relays would be full. So I’d be sitting around for a couple of hours before I could shoot, eating chili of dubious quality, and it would be a really late night every week.

      • Dr Mossy Lawn

        I used to run a Summer Biathlon race program at the state NRA affiliate’s range. Trying to get the IBU rules to mesh with the NRA rules, was always a challenge. We had some compromises. No, a person who just ran 2K is not putting a chamber flag in a 22. You know they ski with them on their backs with the bolt closed in winter competition?

      • EvilSheldon

        Chamber flags are gayer than two men falling in love, getting married, and spending the rest of their lives in a loving intimate relationship.

      • Dr Mossy Lawn

        So, the NRA? I did agree that when people were downrange that they would be in. As range master, before and after the race I would personally put them in but not during.. The rifles were in vertical rifle stands during the race. In the early years they gave us our own range, and didn’t audit it.. Over the years the kept doing “but these are our rules, they must be safer”.

      • Not Adahn

        All this time, and the NRA still can’t get NYers to shoot straight.

    • hayeksplosives

      Ah, B5.

      Good stuff.

  2. Sean

    Charles is gonna get his nuts shot off.

    • EvilSheldon

      Charles is probably going to chew his own nuts off and swallow them, when confronted with some of the likely alternatives. If he wasn’t a dumbass and a slaver I’d almost feel sorry for him.

  3. Grumbletarian

    If I were going to get in the business of being an illegal slave trader, I don’t know that I’d name my transport of choice after a vessel known for trading in slaves. I’d probably name my ship the Innocuous or maybe the Centennial Peregrine something.

    • Not Adahn

      The Loyal and Productive Citizen

      • kinnath

        That’s the first ship you search.

      • Not Adahn

        See, I’d search the Totally not Smuggling Anything first.

      • Not Adahn

        But you’re right. I’d name my ship Lawyers on Retainer.

      • EvilSheldon

        The Get Your Girlfriend Something Nice might be too long?

    • UnCivilServant

      Gojira Maru.

      Because it sounds like the wrong Genre.

    • The Other Kevin

      How about Threat to Democracy or The Insurrectionist?

  4. kinnath

    thanks for the story Animal

    • R.J.

      Agreed! I cannot wait for the next few chapters. I am really enjoying it!

  5. Sean
    • Fatty Bolger

      Fer killin chikins.

      • Sean


    • Not Adahn

      I know right? Holstein patterns are passe.

      • hayeksplosives

        90s Gateway PC haz a sad…

    • Suthenboy

      Yeah….and old fashioned blue steel/walnut guy.
      But hey…rule 34 and all…wait, that’s something different

  6. Not Adahn

    This year’s cybersecurity training is Kevin Mitnick branded!


  1. Animal’s Daily Recreational Use News | Animal Magnetism - […] I get into this uplifting story, check out the latest chapter of Barrett’s Privateers – Unrepentant Sinner over at…