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Captain Sanguine Solves A Problem

by Kat Beyer

A laser torpedo passed most accurately over the bow of the ship and sped on into open space. It did not even leave behind a burn mark on the forward solars: a warning shot.

"A soupcon to starboard, Helm," said Captain Sanguine, setting her teacup aside.

"Aye aye, Captain."

"They seem a bit piqued."

"Aye, Madam Captain."

"Can't think why."

"Perhaps they don't like the Law, Madam Captain," ventured the Second Engineer. (His name was Hugo Dreadnought and he had been admitted to Sheriff’s Corps because he was the son of Samuel Dreadnought, Lord Peabody, Duke of Jupiter and Io. Even so, he was a fine engineer--just didn't fancy being shot at.)

"Perhaps. Kindly hail them, First Communications."

"Aye aye, Captain."

The screen before them flickered, and then a particularly ugly Martian appeared, glowing green with annoyance.

"Good evening, Madam Captain," he gurgled when he caught sight of her. "I am Commander Wig Mxwibbleit of the good ship Dopplekibble. And you are?"

"Captain Harriet Sanguine of the good ship Protector. Good evening. What can I do for you, sir?"

The Martian glowed more fiercely.

"You can stop this demmed nonsense, Madam, that’s what you can do!" he gurgled. "All this stamping through my precinct as if you had jurisdiction, which you most certainly do not! What do you mean by it, madam?"

Captain Sanguine raised her eyebrows. As Helm said to the Engineers later, "I quite understand what you're saying -- we are the Law, and he ought to have recognized us right off. But when both parties have whacking great guns, it's awfully important to preserve good manners."

On the silent bridge, Captain Sanguine looked at Commander Mxwibbleit and everyone waited. At last, she sighed.

"The First Lord will insist on having the Sheriff's arms painted too small to read. Perhaps you would care to examine them more closely? I will have them sent you."

Commander Mxwibbleit stopped glowing at once.

"Ah. No need, no need. My mistake. Quite understood. Safe voyage, Madam Captain."

"Thank you," replied Captain Sanguine. "But do let us know if you need our assistance," she added.

"Of course, Madam Captain. I do beg your pardon. Safe voyage."

He faded cautiously from the screen.

Engineer Dreadnought muttered, "Ought to have him flogged."

"I heard that, Engineer Dreadnought. Short rations for speaking ill of a superior officer," said Captain Sanguine, picking up her teacup.

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