Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

No guns down there. No swords, either. Nothing bigger than a table knife, and nothing double-edged. The humans who first founded a colony on Kenshun were an unarmed combat cult. Their teachings quickly became the laws by which this odd world lives. Since then, their aesthetic has attracted devotees from across known space, and a few points beyond.
Just because they don’t use technological weapons within their atmosphere doesn’t mean they’re averse to using insanely big guns to keep their atmosphere clear of those who use firepower to plunder and kill. The Kenshuni also pay exceedingly well for beings who know how to use those guns, and how to use the unbelievable Benthusian sensor technology that aims them.
Ergol raises a tentacle.
“Miklo? True detection. It’s a Bantiti. No, wait… It’s nine of them; three visible. Each is cloaking two.”
I reach down and bring up the specs on their craft.
“Version Twenties? If they can afford them, why are they bothering to raid… Oh. White Alert! Bounce main battery initiation requests to Jericham and Conthrae. These twits are scouts. Somewhere nearby is whoever sent them.”
“How are we responding to them, Miklo?”
“First, let’s find the miscreants who sent them our way. Then we can decide.”
Wasal from Jericham beats us all to it.
“Hey, hey. Take a look at quadrant 114.”
Someone switches that quadrant display to the main holotank. Well, there’s something you don’t see every year.
Ect from Conthrae whistles.
“Is that a pair of Khongrevu?”
Wasal is chuckling.
“Recycling at it’s very best. How old are they?”
Ergol checks before replying: “If they’re Generation T, only three hundred years. But if they’re Generation A, they’re over a thousand years old, and worth more than our installations on Nakirol, Jericham, and Conthrae combined.”
I clap my hands.
“Vandalisation of ancient war machines aside, they’re clearly up to no good. What grade are their defences?”
As Jericham is the nearest moon to quadrant 114, Wasal has the details soonest.
“They’re using hybrid Tychean/Arburan stealth and shield units.”
Those would be formidable against most things this side of the Orcan Trade Union. Which gives me an idea.
“Somebody scan for traena emanations. I bet they’re running Orcan beam weapons.”
Ect laughs.
“You’d be right. The nearest is running the usual cluster installations. The furthest has only one, but the residuals extend beyond the nearest.”
Only one type of installation does that: “Go to Red Alert!”
Looks are exchanged. I can afford a moment to explain myself.
“The furthest Khongrevu has the firepower to shatter moons and crack continents. Such weapons are outlawed, and present a significant threat to others.”
Ergol waves to get my attention.
“Scan complete from sun to outer system. The two Khongrevu, a group of twelve Hambury strike ships, and the Truneedo troopship that sent those Bantiti.”
“No warning shots. Increase the outputs to overwhelm their defences. Conthrae will destroy the Khongrevu in order of threat. Jericham will destroy the lead Hambury, then any who prove stubborn. Nakirol will destroy the Truneedo if it doesn’t recall and flee after those strikes.”
Kenshun defends itself without hesitation, but we’re instructed to limit wholesale slaughter if possible.
I look about: “Ready?”
“Conthorae ready.”
“Jericham ready.”
Ergol nods: “Nakirol ready.”
The rear Khongrevu becomes a ball of white light that expands to consume the other Khongrevu before fading. A Hambury explodes, pieces of it damaging at least four others. The rest begin rescue operations.
“The Bantiti are peeling off. The Truneedo is turning away.”
Hint taken. Good.
“Stand down. White Alert until end of watch.”