“I think we’re going to cause an economic collapse on Thalia,” Maxwell said, his eyes round and drinking in the sight of tons of gold in the hold. Next to it, several 100 liter sacks of credit tokens were piled high.
“How we doing, Lootie?” Raleigh said, standing next to him.
“I have the last of the safe deposit box contents ported up to the Chanticleer now, Captain. I am retrieving my sensors from within the vaults.”
“Good. Give me an estimate on the haul, for both us and the Chaucer Company.”
“Your ship has 61.9 million credits in gold and tokens. The Chanticleer’s take is a bit more difficult to estimate due to the fluctuating prices of gemstones, antique coins, and other such items that may fetch higher or lower prices at auction. I estimate their take to be somewhere between 30.4 million on the low end and perhaps as high as 49.2 million on the high end.”
Maxwell whistled. He said, “That’s not bad, especially for doing nothing.”
“Don’t go spreading that sentiment, Max. They’re our partners at the moment, and they deserve a cut.”
“We weren’t really supposed to do this, were we?” Maxwell said. “I think I remember something about being explicitly told by the Republicans not to mess with anything on the surface.”
Raleigh shrugged. He said, “We had a passenger who had business with the bank. And, uh, after he was finished we robbed it.”
“We basically stole 100 million credits from their main galactic branch, the national bank for the whole planet. We’re gonna bankrupt Thalia.”
The door to the hold swished open and Granny walked in. She caught the tail end of Maxwell’s statement and cackled.
“It was like taking candy from a baby! Easiest heist I’ve ever been on. No AI, no firefight, no sneaking around hostile sensors or anti-teleportation fields. Let’s go find some more minor planets to rob!”
“Max is developing a conscience,” Raleigh said. “Besides, I don’t know if our holds can fit much more. Gold takes up space.”
Granny said, “We can always find room for gold! Stack it in the halls, put it in the bunkrooms!”
Raleigh’s neural net lit up as Kim contacted him.
“Bogeys incoming, Captain!”
Kim and Pak’s sensor grid gave LuteNet enough of a warning that she was able to port the Mule, Chanticleer, the Iguana and Aquamarine an AU away before the League Navy arrived.
“What are we looking at, Lootie?” Raleigh said as walked onto the bridge. Dillon looked up from his seat and smiled nervously as Granny and Maxwell followed the Captain out of the elevator pod.
“Two Eagles and two Hawks from the Third Fleet, Captain.”
Raleigh opened a neural net connection with Lightfoot.
“What do you think, Krystal?”
“I think we don't need to engage. For one thing, we don’t need the money. We’re going home.”
“Aw, come on. Those aren’t bad odds.”
“Are you crazy, Chris? Wait, don’t answer that. We are looking at two Eagle-class warships, backed up by two Hawks.”
“We’ve got four ships, too.”
“We’ve got two Hawks, a smuggler’s ship and the shell of a Mammoth-class you towed here for no apparent reason. That’s not the same. They have Eagles! Two of them.”
“We kind of thought we might see some bogeys, actually. That’s why I brought the Aquamarine along.”
“No. Nope. I’m done talking to you. Have fun with your new bride. Lootie! Takes us home.”
Lightfoot broke the connection and the Chanticleer popped away.
“Chickens,” Granny said. “You better not give her a cut of this, either.”
“It’s an extra million just for engaging them. I admit we’ve already got a lot, but this is the reason we’re here, after all.”
“Still, she’s got a point. The odds suck, especially without their rooster ship.”
“I think we’ll be alright. Plus we’ve got the element of surprise.”
Raleigh opened a connection with Kim again.
He said, “Put the plan in action, Kim.”
“Aye, aye, Captain!”
Captain Jatin Thrakkar of the SLS Valiant took a sip of coffee as he stared at the main holo on his bridge. Below, Thalia slowly revolved, the sun peeking over the horizon. To one side, the two Eagles accompanying their squad floated. To the left, another Hawk remained in position.
“There does not appear to be anybody here, ladies and gentlemen.”
Commodore Russell Jenkins spoke to all four Captains over the neural net.
“It would seem that way, sir,” one of them responded. Thrakkar recognized the voice as belonging to Willa Dunn, Captain of the Dauntless, Jenkins’s flagship.
Of course she would be buttering up to the Commodore, Thrakkar thought. If he gets promoted she’ll try and ride his coattails.
Thrakkar said, “I recommend caution, Commodore. The Republicans and their allies are tricky. They have used many deceptive measures in this war, so far.”
He heard Dunn snort while making the comment.
“All they have are a few pirates,” Jenkins said, as if acknowledging Dunn’s tone. “I’m sorry you had difficulties while on a drone escort with them, but in this case I have to agree with Captain Dunn. The planet appears to be deserted by the Republicans and the enemy is nowhere in sight.”
Thrakkar steamed in anger but held his tongue. He could imagine Dunn smirking right now at his mild rebuke from the Commodore.
The alarm sounded as everyone felt a shudder ripple through the hull.
A Mammoth-class ship appeared suddenly, wiping out the Dauntless and her sister. The walls of the giant ship appeared in the middle of both Eagles, slicing the formidable warships in half.
Thrakkar said, “Son of a—”