In Kristyn Merbeth’s space opera Fortuna, the Kaiser family uses their ship, Fortuna, to smuggle goods–especially weapons–between the planets, which makes them outcasts in the system. The pirate crew of the Red Baron harries the Fortuna between planets, set on taking by force the goods the Kaisers smuggled off planet.
The boarding of Fortuna
“I sway on my feet as the floor rocks beneath me. That must be our ship making contact with the Red Baron. We’ve been through this enough times that I know what to expect. It’s illegal to outfit ships with weapons, and no planet will let you land with them, but the Red Baron has found a technically legal way to launch an assault with those magnetic grappling hooks. They’ll keep us pinned to their side and hack our security pad to force the ramp open directly into their ship’s loading zone, leaving our cargo bay vulnerable and waiting to be plundered.
“Right on cue, the high-pitched whine of machinery starts on the other side of the ramp. That would be them plugging into the hatch and accessing our security system, which means we have only a couple of minutes before they’re inside. The twins take their spots on either side of the ramp, backs pressed against the wall and guns at the ready. I lift my borrowed blaster and position myself near the supply closet door.
. . . .
“My response is swallowed by the metal-on-metal screech of the cargo ramp ripping fully open, leaving the belly of Fortuna exposed to the Red Baron and its occupants.
“The Red Baron‘s crew is a bunch of strays from all over the system–much like ours, but bound together by greed rather than blood. My family might be smugglers, but the Red Baron crew can’t even keep their smuggling half-honest. Instead, they’re pirates, stealing from other ships like ours.”
In the battle for riches, would you choose to be a smuggler or a pirate?
- Who is smarter?
- Who is more dashing?
- Who is the greater scoundrel?
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