1

"Wait, I have an idea. Since the attack was on Terminus, I will request for the Tarith Captains to hold the trial. It is one of their freighters coming here anyhow, and they can transfer the convicts to a mining colony for work release. Serve the time there, and you can directly join the staff. In fact, everyone on the colony started out the same way, with some crimes being larger than others." Nico suggested.

The Cardinal looked at her with veiled amusement. "Do you think that an old man like me would survive a mining colony?"

Nico tilted her head in a motion that reminded Max of a confused puppy, then answered directly. "It is an entire colony. There are more jobs than breaking rocks in the mines. They need someone to do paperwork, medics, nurses, equipment operators, and every other job that any other colony needs. Don't you have skills other than being a Cardinal?"

"In fact, I am a very skilled surgeon. I was the chief medical officer of a Destroyer Class ship before being elevated into the clergy. Cardinals in the Holy Truth are a political position, and I am also the Minister of Health. Or I was until this morning."

Nico nodded happily. "See, no need to work you to death in the mines. You can stay in a nice sterile room and make sure that nobody else is worked to death."

The Reavers were actually much more kind to their prisoners than most nations were, but openly saying that would come across as a lie, or a slight against their fierce reputation, so it was left unsaid for prisoners to discover once they were put to work.

Only those who were a danger to others were imprisoned constantly. Everyone else who committed a crime was either sentenced to unpaid work or a monetary fine based on a percentage of their wealth, with a minimum limit, so that crimes couldn't be shuffled off to the poorest among a group.

"Now, we will inform the rest of the group of their fate, and you are coming with us to do it," Max announced, helping the old man to his feet.

He marched the Cardinal back into the holding cell while Nico had the maintenance staff make and send over a full set of prisoner coveralls for the Holy Truth crew. They had all been brought in now, and the Mecha were all back aboard Terminus, except for two squads of Infernus Pattern fast attack Crusaders, which were keeping an eye on the disabled ships while they waited for the transporter to be ready.

[Sir, the Transport vessel is ready, and Mary Tarith is requesting that we open a portal for them to come directly to us. The target coordinates have been verified as safe.] Admiral Drake informed Max, who was overseeing the change of attire for the Holy Truth prisoners.

[Tell her to send a prison shuttle as well. Nico will inform her of the details.] Max replied, then input his authorization code so that the Portal could be activated.

The shimmering energy in the air formed a perfect circle that showed them the distant sight of the Rae 5 Moon Base and the planet itself. It looked like the ships would be going directly to Uncle Lu for a refit and not into storage around the fifth planet in the system, where many other disabled and obsolete vessels were currently in orbit awaiting refit or scrapping.

[Also, send a message to Uncle Lu, telling him that we were thinking of him when we saw these particular ships. He will know what I am talking about.] Max added.

The Transporter wasn't a large ship, more like a tugboat with an immensely powerful engine and little else except basic structure, so it had no problem entering the portal and dragging the two ships into position with its gravity beam.

Normally two such transporters would be needed, one per Cruiser, but since they didn't need to go to Warp, a single one would suffice today, sitting in between its two pieces of cargo and maneuvering them carefully on course for the Moon Base.

The Prisoner transport showed up a few minutes later, and Max realized that they had forgotten to tell Mary that the ships only had a skeleton crew aboard them. The immense orange vessel, the same color as the coveralls the prisoners wore, could move ten thousand prisoners at once, enough for even the largest of captured vessels, but they didn't even have two hundred captives to give it.

[Dock with bay door B8, and we will transfer the captives directly to your hold.] Max informed them as the ship turned to glide into position.

A double file of prison guards marched out as soon as the ship docked, and Nico began to giggle.

"What is so funny, little sister?" The lead guard asked.

"Don't call me sister. My mom is way cooler than yours. Cousin Darrell, meet Commander Keres. Commander, meet Tarith Darrell, one of my many cousins and the unfortunate son of the Tarith family. As the only member of the immediate family with a Gamma ranked system, he was given command of a prison ship and not a Reaver trading vessel." Nico introduced the pair.

"She makes it sound like such a disgrace, but it's an easy job, and I get to beat annoying people. It's not so bad, really. But miss Nico here was always a genius, and her disrespect knows no boundaries of age or distance." The prison ship Captain responded politely.

"You get used to her. Unfortunately, you have sent more guards than we have prisoners today. The two Cruisers barely had enough people aboard them to keep them running, and a single boarding crew between the two of them is the closest thing they had to defenses.

No need to go too hard on them. They only fired a single shot that we blocked with our shields so that it wouldn't hit the Klux station. A bit of time in the mines and a fresh start outside their home system, which has already fallen to the Cygnus fleet since they left this morning, is just what they need, I think." Max explained, ensuring that the prison ship was in on their plans.

"We can do that. There are a lot of new mining colonies going up to provide supplies for the Mecha and Ship factories. You should come to visit again after your mission. There are eight facilities now, all run by an alliance of Companies, that are making Warp 10 capable cargo ships of the Cutter Class. It is quite a sight in orbit around the planets these days." Tarith Darrell suggested.

"We will, for sure. But first, we are going to head all the way to the end of Death Wind Territory and arrange deliveries. We have the portal now, so we can send for supplies as soon as we finish our deals from anywhere in the Galaxy." Max agreed.

"The Reavers will love you for it. It also looks like we have a cargo ship coming for the Klux already. They just sent me a message asking how long the Cruisers would be blocking the portal." Darrell laughed.