Chapter 1: Men in Bowler Hats
Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. Nebalon, gurgled some from habit but he was comfortable breathing in the atmosphere of his ship. He was more concerned about how they would steal the technology from the scientists. He really didn't want to pay them or trade for it. The Bandits had the experience in these matters, he would rely on their skills, maybe they could make it a simple transaction. The Gray disagreed; he ran numbers through their onboard computer for workable scenarios. Among the variables for their mission to succeed required avoiding intrusion from the Empire which Nebalon dreaded. The scenarios, the Gray decided would all fail if this key issue was not eliminated. The Gray hoped the Bandits had a scheme to bilk them.
The Bandits' ship had their cargo and gear loaded onboard; they were ready. The Captain commanded the navigator to jump to the coordinates Nebalon provided. He was anxious, he had never been to deep space, so far from the network of civilized worlds. His research on the science planet was incomplete and had cost him. He called in markers from other crews and smugglers. It was worth it, the technology if the scuttlebutt was true, was a galaxy changing product. A key piece of information gave him an insight he believed would give him an advantage in getting it. The scientists were squabbling over how to use it or to just destroy it because it would change everything. Another good thing, the Empire had, if his info was true, no idea of the Science world or it's invention. They liked over running known worlds. He had an idea he was certain would convince the scientists to work with him or he'd steal the formula, either way he'd profit!
The Captain could see the Equalizers ship hovering in the distance as he made his way to the rendezvous. Beyond were gaseous clouds of stars foreign to him. He felt goosebumps, adjusted his speed, “Input our course, navigator.” He squirmed in his seat. “We must be able to find our way home no matter how this turns out.” He drummed his fingers on the armrest,
“Hail their ship,” He directed his communications officer.
The cargo doors of Nebalon's great ship opened, the pilot navigated the Bandit ship into the landing bay. Captain, Jarthan cut his engines and sighed. It bothered him to rely on another, to put his trust in them to do a job, but the profit on this one exceeded the imagination. He issued orders to the crew, the hum of the doors closing on the huge ship was disturbing. He was pleased with the fuel sample, it powered his ship to the deep, he'd need more to return home. It seemed to renew itself but there was less as the engines burned energy faster than it regenerated.
Nebalon ordered his pilot to make way to the Science planet. The Captain and the Equalizer sat side by side in a domed command area with large portholes, they could see a glowing nebula far out in space as the ship gained speed, they sketched ideas on a pad, plotting strategy.
The Captain shared information from his sources with Nebalon but he kept the most vital details to himself, including how to escape if things went south. The Science planet was well fortified with powerful satellites ringing the planet capable of destroying intruders' ships at great distance. The Captain was confident because he had an accomplice on the planet who was as larcenous at heart as any Bandit. He was one among many who wanted to profit from their invention. Many on the planet were deeply concerned about wrecking the economies of worlds spread through the universe.
The Captain and Nebalon were seated in a restaurant with Dr. Nuan, one of the scientists who developed the energy they wanted. He watched Nebalon from the corner of his eye to make sure he kept a reasonably calm demeanor. Dr. Nuan looked like a mad scientist, thick lensed glasses, frizzy hair and wild gesticulations with his hands when he spoke. He had few qualms about selling his invention. He was looking at the Captains offer on a tablet, the light from the screen made his glasses orbs of white light which irritated Nebalon. “I like the numbers.”, Nuan waved his hand wildly.” I will pass them along to our business manager. If he approves, we will fill your order as requested. It may take a little time...we are inundated with business from every corner of the galaxy.”
“How much time?” asked Nebalon, evenly through clenched teeth.
“A few days at the most.” replied Nuan.
The Captain nodded and held Nebalon's arm under the table, his gun hand. “I am sure you will speed things along for us. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us here. We'll enjoy your hospitality. The hotel has enough amenities to engage our appetites while you complete the deal.” Nebalon sighed and allowed the Captain to conclude the meeting. Dr. Nuan shook his hand and smiled wildly at Nebalon.
“I am certain we can do business!”, he rose from their booth energetically, and weaved his way through the crowded room out the entrance. Most of the diners were making close deals like theirs.
The Captain poured more caffenee into his and Nebalon's cups.
“Drink Nebalon, it will calm your mind and relax the grit from your jaws and teeth.”
Removing his breathing mask, he sipped his drink, thinking intently how he could take what he wanted for a lot less than what they offered the good Dr.
About the author
My new novel is based on "Doc" G.W. Carver, a space adventure spanning the Universe. I hope you enjoy my first book of the "Men in Bowler Hats" trilogy, "A Grandpa's Truth". Look for it on Amazon, Click the link: https://amzn.to/3G34bmO