Hammersmith. Chapter twenty two

Egy had been a pirate of the Red Clan since he was born. He had been chosen out of the recruits from the asteroid mines the Reds controlled. Every asteriod colony and space station had to send boys and girls to fight in the Red army. Most returned as failures or in a bag. Not Egy. He had shown those first recruiters something. He wasn’t entirely sure what. So maybe this book will tell him.
The Red Clan had formed, the book said from a group of scientists. All of them wanting to do more than their governments or companies would let them. They had several places of operation, including a place called Hammersmith. Pre-incident governments were often conservative, reductive, often reliant on the religions of their forebears. The original group had called itself the Hammersmith clan. They were so big by the end they even had their own scienctific journal. 

Most of the governments had a thing or two to say about things like cloneing, genetic experiments, nanotechnology, expiraments on animals, cybernetics and so on. They were restricted by these governmental policies and the corporations who would at least try and look like they went along with it. The Hammersmith clan had been one group of the scientists who had done some of these expiraments anyway. Then when they got to the belt, they had taken over. With an army of nanotech enhanced clone troops by then, it had been a cake walk. But even clone troops have their limits. Resources were scarce on the Belt. Like soil, water, drugs. There were plenty of metals though. The nanotechnology soon took care of a lot of that. With the raw resources to sell, the belt could buy and make everything. 

The original group of scientists and now engineers and miners had worked somewhat harmoniously for a while. Differences and the continuing conflict on Earth has driven divisions. And these new beings. Artificial Intelegences. They had started to argue and form little groups on Earth. Now they continued to be a menace to some and a blessing to others. Each clan had at least one AI now. They were so useful. They could also be manipulative. The Blue clan, said the book didn’t even know about their AI Loki, till they had reached the belt. They didn’t call themselves that then, but they had soon changed their name. Then the Red clans AI Croceas reveled Lokis presence when he tried to take over her networks. Within a few days the Blue clan had left the Red. Then followed the Black clan. The Eon clan, Tooth clan and The newly formed Magus clan.

 They will often say they were all original part of a Hammersmith clan. It’s hard to really say if that’s true. The book speculated the Hammersmith clan hadn’t been real. It was name the scientists who had started the whole thing has used for a while. It also speculated that it had been instrumental it the clans eventually become existent. 

That was a interesting tid bit.

The scientist of these clans were not all rebellious by nature though. Most had tried to go back to Earth. Most had revealed what their research had lead to. But the wars of the Incident made most of it irrelevant. The massive loss of life on Earth afterwards often made it impossible. Many had spent so many years on a space station or outpost and couldn’t go back to the Earth. Most didn’t want to. With wars and climate change raging throughout the Earth the other parts of the system seemed so much more attractive. The frontier was after all a great, dangerous and ultimately fulfilling adventure for most. You could end up on your arse back home, or working for some contract, but it was a risk often better than going to Earth. You often were lucky if your country still existed.

The book finally ended with a few chapters that had been written by the Red Clan members. Each of them a leader. First Owlbear, then Wolf, then Coyote, finally Crow. 

Owlbear had written about the initial reaction to the incident. The formation of the Red Clan and the meaning behind its symbols.  They also explained how they had gained Croceas as their AI. Apparently she had escaped just before the main war of the incident. A AI named Tyr had been the first to try and kill her. Not liking her chances in all our war with humans and AIs on Earth she had escaped with Owlbear. She wasn’t the only one. The Blues AI Loki had also escaped then. Along with a few others who had been either destroyed or damaged by the wars. Tyr was the only Earth bound AI to survive the incident. He helped create two more AI, Sydney and Lisa. In a way his daughters. They helped the humans on Earth recover from the Incident and start to form colonies on other planets. Meanwhile the clans kept out of the way, taking what they needed. The SOL left them alone as long as they didn’t kill one of theirs. Of course now they are going to war with us. We don’t stand a chance. 

Wolf talked about initial clan business. Including how the Black clan had broken off from the Red. Forming the view that the clan shouldn’t protect non clan members their leader a young Red scout whose name was missing from the book had tried to kill Wolf before leading followers in a scattering of small long distance craft. The black clan apparently liking to stalk and gather their prey like spiders in space. Meanwhile Wolf did what he could to protect the Reds holdings. Including its civilian population, most refugees or people who had escaped the increasingly conservative Earth governments. 

Coyote had only written one thing. In Latin. I’ll have to look that up later thought Egy as he read on.

Crow talked about how it was the Red clans duty to protect any who asked for protection. Though loyalty was just as important. She had said she discovered her gender when young. That without the help of science she would be dead. That humanity would one day seek an alliance with the Red clan. That its duty was simply to hold the reef. Mine the asteroids. How the Red clan needed to seek a path towards legimacy if it wanted to survive. 

This was a side Egy had not seen of Crow. The Red clan had only just attacked a mining freighter ship to steal the precious ore it was carrying. Why did Crow authorize the attack? Why did Crow still talk about war with Earth? What was going on here?

Egy flipped his visiscreen on. 

“Crow”

“Egy. I see by your face you have read the book then?”

Crow looked old and tired. She seemed upset and whilting. Like a old raven. 

“Yes, what’s going on here? We want to seek legimacy? Since when?”

Crow took a breath. “We are, for all intensive purposes a criminal organization according to SOL. The fact they are fighting the Blue clan at this very moment means we are likely going to see massive increase in military spending to fight the pirates. We are changed with protecting a diverse civil population. Something none of the other clans have. We don’t even have decent FTP capacity. If we don’t get legitimacy how long do you think we will last against a enemy clan and the might of a rebuilt SOL force?”

Egy realized what Crow was saying. The Red clan was a dream. The frontier wasn’t kind to dreams like this. Egy knew his history now. The new war that had just broken out would be won by the SOL. Maybe the Blues and a few others get a score in. But  SOl had colonies on most of the habitat systems within a few light years. Tau Ceti, Cygnus, Alpha Centuri, even the big science station out in Bearnards star had a SOL cruiser stationed nearby. With a simple touch of a FTL communication call all the  troops needed would come. Within a year or two every pirate clan in the system would be gone. In a few more they would be scattered out to the edges of solar systems. Out on the frostwings.

Egy dawned on this realization. “We would be wiped out. What do we need to do?”

Crow smiled. “Well for a start you will need to become my replacement.”

“Your replacement? I can’t replace you!”

Crow looked at him solemnly “I’m not fit to be anything but a figure head. Croceas runs this clan. I’m in love with her. Which means my judgement is clouded. ”

Egy was aghast at the revelations that had occurred this morning. 

“I see. I’m just not really ready.”

“Oh we have something to help with that. Nanotech.”

“The nanotech that helps you?”

“Better. The Nanotech that will help you. Expertly crafted by Croceas.” 

“It will make me into a leader?”

“It will make you into a diplomat. Your natural talents, amplified. Like communication, senseing motives. You will be our delegate to Earth. What should have been my old job. So in a way very much my replacement.”

Egy realized he actually wanted this. He had been a good negotiator for so many years. “This is all so much…. Can I think about it?”

Crow smiled. She looked instantly younger. “Of course. Let Croceas know ASAP. We have other candidates if needed.”

The screen went blank. 

Egy realized he had one person he needed to talk to before agreeing with this. It’s wouldn’t be hard to find her. 

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