Grave touched his face as his group made their way back to the infiltration zone. Stars, that hurt. It would bruise for sure. Malik Wescott was said to be a gifted soldier in the research Grave had done, but he didn't think he would be bested in fair combat. It was exciting! 

Someone who could actually give him a challenge after all these years. 

"Do you have our prize, Val?" 

Valasia smiled and held up a briefcase. "I didn't expect to run into trouble so soon, love, so I had to take the maps I found. No time to copy."

Not a perfect job done, but still done. "I suppose our moves will become much clearer from now on. We shall have to proceed with caution."

"Like usual."

The four of them made their way through the hallways, watching for signs of any of the other soldiers Wescott was reported to bring. The other group should have diverted attention, of course, but it was best to be safe.

The maps they had taken would show them Amalia's path on this voyage. And since it was Amalia, who was widely known for her thorough investigation into any trip she took, there would be markers for every threat, potential threat, and everything else she could find marked down. With this, Grave could pass her, set up check points, and begin surpassing Amalia. 

He would beat her at her own game. 

"Captain, why take these?"

It was Grom, a talented man with a pistol, who spoke. "When in the business of piracy," Grave told the man, "You have to learn to think ahead. This will let us get a head start on all those... monetarily endowed people to follow Ms. Vega's path."

Grom, as well as Yhar, smiled at that. Valasia did as well, but only slightly. She was concerned, most likely. But Grave didn't care at the moment. He had grand ideas for his future and it all started with this. 

Truth be told, he had hoped Gauffrey or Hemingway would have made the journey before Amalia. Both were extremely competent explorers who could do just as fine a job, but did not have military experience and generally were too proud to ask for assistance. Wescott and Amalia together meant Grave couldn't relax at all throughout this journey. Wescott would guess the Eclipse's movements from his knowledge from the war and Amalia would no doubt find a better path to pass them. 

This was a challenge. Though, unlike in swordplay, it was one he would not enjoy and could not afford to lose. Not when everything was coming to fruition. 

They made it to a hallway rowed with windows to the outside reaches of space where the ship they had infiltrated on was docked. Well, docked was not the optimal word, as the ship had punched through the wall and locked into it with large hooks.

"Radio the other group, Yhar," Valasia told the stocky bald man. 

"Roger." Yhar pulled out a large bronze device and pressed the button on the side. The light on top lit up and a gear started rotating just inside the case on the front, generating electricity. A marvelous new device from some kingdom they had visited a few months prior. "Farro, come in!"

A sound came from the device before Farro replied. Were they stealing bolts, for God's sake? "Here. Time?"

"Yeah," Yhar replied. "Pull out. We got the goods."

"Yes. Leaving." Farro always talked weird, but he was a good man. His group would off the Noctis before long. 

"Now to take our leave, gentleman," Grave said, walking towards the ship. 

The four of them clambered in the small area of the Wane, the small six seating ship. The other one Farro and his group were using held over twenty man, thankfully, or this plan would have never worked. They would have stolen valuables that would not hinder Vega's travels, so as to give the impression of a simple robbery and hide the theft of the maps. It was useless now, though. 

Wescott and Vega had forced Valasia to rush and forego her copying. They would be missing maps now. Unfortunate, but Grave could work with this. 


"Captain, are you sure?"

Grave gave his navigator - a smaller man named Gerald - a cold glare. "You dare question my orders?" The retreat from the Noctis had gone well, with most of the Noctis' crew checking on their own than worrying about the retreating men. The haul had been pretty hefty as well. Most were jewelry and currency, but the men had gotten some custom weapons as well. They would fetch a nice price.

"No, sir, it's just that..." Gerald sighed and looked at the map in his hands. "These are areas we have never been to before. There might be Lunar Sharks, other pirates, or even squids. This ship isn't exactly designed for evasive action." Now, Grave had to deal with getting the ship moving. 

"The one who drew that path can be trusted," Grave shot back, "Now move us towards our new destination, if you don't mind."

Gerald gave up and nodded. As he left, another man came in. Harold was a man that most men would be envious of. He had the face of a noble and the body of an athlete. 

"Sir," Harold said with a bow. "I have some information that you might be interested in." He had been with Farro's group. This could be interesting.

Grave leaned forward in his chair and placed his elbows on his desk with hands intertwined. "Go on." 

"I recognized the face of someone aboard the Noctis. A young girl most likely just twenty one years of age." Harold smiled with a gleam in his eye. He was seeing money. "Her name is likely Xuranthia Maelin." 

"Should I be familiar with this girl?"

"She is the escort to the prince of our last employer."

Ah, that could be money...

The End

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