“I guess I must be a little rusty” said Jonas, as he carefully put the figures away.
Marvin had apparently been keeping Jonas guilty secret safe- his Warhammer 40K Imperial Guard Army – which he had set out ready for a large game for when he arrived. Showing no sign at all of shame, he cajoled most of the others into participating in a three a side game, with him, Jake and Marcus squared off against Marvin, Paul and Spyder with his Orks. The Orks won -narrowly.
“I guess you’re not used to 46th Edition” said Marvin, “I think we played 44th?”
“Man those new LOS rules are a Bitch” said a bystander. Doc. Orlov had watched with amused disbelief.
Most of the others were leaving now, and Marvin followed the last one down and locked up
“Marvin, I…..” started Jonas, but Marvin motioned him to silence and beckoned them into an office. Here there was an inner stairwell leading down to another office on the shop level, and another leading to Marvin’s quarters on the floor above. Looking round, Jake guessed that this was the office where Marvin compiled his e zine.
Marvin unlocked a drawer and brought out a small device about the size of a box of cigarettes. He clicked it on.
“Now let’s talk about the important stuff man: we can catch up later.” he grinned.
Jonas briefly relayed their experiences with the old pirate base on Mars, and their current search.
“Before we headed for Venus, we thought it might be worth having a word with you” he concluded.
“What do you know about the history of piracy?” asked Marvin.
“Well piracy is not a new phenomenon, but after an initial flurry lasting maybe fifteen years, the last reported case in the asteroid Belt was over 30 years ago; many Companies now maintain their own Gunboats, and the UWC slowly got a handle on things. The standard wisdom is that the Pirates died, retired or fled to the new wild frontier of the Kuiper Belt-where it remains a menace.” said Marvin.
“That would kind of fit in with the little we know” said Marcus.
“Yeah but get this. Look at these figures” said Marvin.
“These are insurance company figures for ship disappearances/ losses in the Kuiper Belt over the last few years; prior to 2153 the average was about 1-10 per year.”
“116!” exclaimed Jonas. “That’s a hell of a lot of ships!”
“And not widely publicised” said Marvin. “Explained away by extreme risk taking and the inherent hazards that far out.”
“And that’s not all” he continued. “Over the last 5 years Piracy incidents have re-emerged in the belt, in 4 different locations-one of these being M0106 and M0107. Two of the vessals were identified – The Porcupine’ – registered on Munchausen (Kuiper Belt). Another was discovered undertaking repairs on an abandoned Mining Platform last year – I spoke to one of the guys involved- and that was registered from Naiad (Neptune),”
The others stared at him.
“Don’t you see?” he explained. “These Pirates have moved back FROM the Kuiper Belt. Why?”
“Maybe a power struggle?”suggested Jake. “With the little guys fleeing?”
“Could be” said Marvin. “The rumour was that the Combine had re-established itself in the Kuiper Belt after it fled the Asteroids. Maybe the old leader died, or something like that.”
He shook his head.
“Or maybe there’s something else” he added.
“Go on” said Marcus.
“Remember he’s a conspiracy Nut” whispered Jonas in his ear as Marvin fiddled for some papers.
“Pirates don’t usually simply destroy ships with no trace.” he said simply. “Don’t you see? It’s might not be the Pirates causing the disappearances-the Pirates are leaving themselves. It’s a cover-up I tell you. Did pirates make the 300+ population of KS 22 disappear? Did Pirates manage to empty the Exxon Mine processor on Medusa with no signs of battle damage? I don’t think so-and the whole mess is being covered up brilliantly. Something IS going on I tell you. Something Big!”
There was a pregnant pause.
“So do you think these other guys that were searching -this Duffey, and the Jane Doe, were some of these returned pirates?” asked Jonas.
“Maybe. Or their agents. Or relatives. The original pirates would be thirty odd years older now remember.”
“I have a correspondent who might give you first hand information though” said Marvin.
“You know a pirate?” asked Doc. Orlov.
“Well” said Marvin. “Maybe. I correspond with him and he sends me stuff from Venus. Calls himself Jack Sparrow – likely not his real name.”
“He seems to know on awful lot about the old time pirates. Reading the subtext I guess he was probably there.”
“Do you have an actual on him?”
“Not really” said Marvin. " But he let slip in one of his missives that he spent a fair amount of time at a place called the Lion’s Den. It’s real – I’ve checked. It’s in the port area of Diamondhead, on Venus."
“It’s worth checking out” said Jonas. “Thanks Marvin.”
“Maybe we can get a few more games in while you’re here huh?” said Marvin.
“Count on it.”