Chapter 8: Strategic Reevaluation

With a tremendous bang, the double doors to the bank were thrown open as Finn and Corra kicked them in together. The dramatic entry wasn’t actually necessary, even for a good old-fashioned bank robbery, but Corra simply couldn’t help herself: it felt just like the movies.

“Everybody down!” she yelled, raising guns in each hand.

“Don’t move,” added Finn, “and no one gets hurt — “

Shrill screams flew around the room as Finn jumped up on the bank teller’s counter, swinging his rifle. Patrons dropped to the floor in fear, but of course it wasn’t like Finn and Corra were going to hurt anybody — they were just running low on money, was all, so they’d made a quick stop on the planet Ariana. It was one of Synechdan’s wealthiest, most affluent places in its cluster, and it boasted giant sprawling mansions with perfectly manicured lawns, the best restaurants and theaters … The people who lived here probably vacationed on Vescent and lived lives of pure, hedonistic luxury …

Which was exactly why Corra felt no guilt in robbing them blind. Quite simply, the Beacon needed more fuel, a stocked pantry, and funds to pay a navigation team, and right now Corra had only enough credits to buy herself a beer at a dive bar.

But not for long, she thought excitedly.

“I’ll go to the vault,” she said, stepping over a man curled into a ball on the floor.

The vault was just as extravagant as Corra would have imagined: a long hallway with high ceilings, grand arches and lines of locked cabinets lead towards a round door twice her height. The click of her heels echoed on the tile as she stalked towards her grand prize.

As she approached, a cowering young man dressed in security’s clothing shakily aimed a small handgun at her. Corra barely blinked in his direction.

“Down, boy,” she ordered bluntly, weaving around him.

“D-drop the gun, or I’ll shoot!” he shouted back, trying to steady his quavering hands.

Corra stopped in the hallway and rolled her eyes. “You could. But you’d probably miss.” She wheeled around, cocked the rifle in her arms and fired off a round that embedded itself in the wall three inches to the left of his head. “And I wouldn’t.”

His eyes went wide and his gun clattered to the floor at his feet. “D-don’t shoot me, please. I’m supposed to get married next week. P-please, I don’t wanna die — “

“You don’t have to.” Corra provided him a comforting smile as she she kicked the fallen gun aside with the edge of her foot. “Just give me what I want and it’ll all be A-okay.”

“Well I can’t — I can’t open the safety deposit boxes,” he told her, shaking head to foot. “Only their owners have the keys — “

“That’s okay, couldn’t care less about those.” She jutted her gun towards the vault door. “I want what’s in there.”

He glanced over his shoulder at the massive door behind him. “You — really? Are you sure?” he asked weakly, which, in retrospect, should have been her first clue.

“Yeah, really, now open the damn thing.”

The man eyed her and slowly backed up to the vault. “I suppose, if that’s what you want … “ He inched toward the console in the wall and started to type in a string of commands. Behind her, she could hear Finn in the main lobby of the building yelling nonsense and jumping between the counters — clearly, he was enjoying himself.

The security guard backed away as the vault door creaked open, revealing a brightly-lit chamber that made Corra let out a squeal as she hurried inside. Because now, surely, she was standing in front of what she was sure was The Future. She was about to be bloody rich as a queen and the Beacon could get the start it deserved and —

But then her eyes adjusted to the light. She was not looking at a mountain of credits, but rather, the tiniest mound of money, no taller than an anthill, in the corner of the room. It was no more than a hundred credits, she realized, picking up one of the coins and dropping it back at her feet. She spun back around in utter disbelief. “What the hell is this?!”

The man winced and held up his hands.“You said you wanted in the vault, this is the vault. I did what you asked, please don’t kill me, I — “

“Why is there nothing here?!”

“No one makes physical withdrawals!” he cried, said as though anyone should know that. “Only eletronic, in the CID payment system! We don’t bother keeping a lot of actual credits on hand, why would — “

Corra smacked her hand to her forehead. Of course this hadn’t occurred to her, why would it? On most of the planets she visited on the Dionysian — the planets riddled with crime rings — no one trusted the CID system for transactions. It was all black market dealings. Why hadn’t Fiearius told her it would be any different?

Although it was more disheartening than anything else, Corra crouched down and started shoveling the meager reward into her knapsack.

From behind her, she heard a snort: it was the guard, watching her with a sudden air of wealthy-planet superiority. He lifted his chin and spat, “Only criminals still use petty cash these days.”

And with that, when she finished stuffing her pockets, she stood up, walked to the door and cracked the butt of her rifle over the man’s smug face before she strode back down the hallway.

In the lobby, Finn seemed to be having much more fun: with all the patrons crouched fearfully to the ground, Finn wove between them, apparently regaling his terrified audience with a tale, as he wound his gun around him like a baton.

“And that’s when I told them, ‘enough’s enough, boys I’ve got a ship to save — ‘ and you wouldn’t believe how — Everything alright?” he added, spotting Corra, who shook her head and marched to the door.

“Let’s get the hell out of here,” she growled, pushing open the double doors back into the street.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

With a heavy sigh of defeat, Corra slumped back in the captain’s chair until her chin nearly touched the top of her chest. “We need to rethink the way we’re doing things,” she muttered, then took a quick sip of beer. Murmurs of agreement rippled through the room: across from her sat Finn, equally as glum, tired and on his third beer; Addy sat atop one of the dashboards, swinging her legs to the floor, and Daelen leaned against the wall with his arms folded.

Outside the window, the stars spread out before them as the ship made its way smoothly into the black of space. Their escape off Ariana had been childsplay. No one had even bothered to pursue. And why would they? The value of what was stolen was a lot less than the cost of sending someone to retrieve it. And that was the problem.

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