The AU Where Avon Gets Away With It
The Board of the First Federation Bank foundered, grasping at suspects and scapegoats, until it was determined that Kerr Avon was not on vacation on Fhloston Paradise, but was well and truly missing. Also missing were 500,000,000 credits and, though they knew who, no one seemed to be able to explain when or where or how it was done. The sum was a large one, yet the smallest fraction of the bank’s enormous holdings. But the questions remained—when? Where? How? Only the “why” was self-explanatory.
Of course, in the absence of Avon, someone must still be made to pay. The best and brightest in the financial and computer fields were censured for not having discovered the theft in progress. Rumours abounded that this one or that one must have helped Avon—surely he could not have pulled it off by himself! No one knew how he did it, so it could happen again! Whoever had helped Avon could bide his time, then pull the same trick... better to fire the lot. Their sizeable salaries, bonuses, and section budgets were siphoned off to the security branches and, of course, to their superiors’ bank accounts. The innocent bystanders who managed to keep their jobs with only cuts in pay and privileges were annoyed and even frightened by their superiors’ strong-arm tactics. Some of them, heartened by Avon’s escape, saw that they, too, could embezzle and get away with it... and they did.
It was well they should salvage what they could from the fiasco. The common citizens never heard what happened and naturally felt secure in their small bank accounts, but the rumours ran through the highest Alpha inner circles of power. A bank, indeed any modern economic system, runs on security, and when that security is shaken, the normal processes of decay of that system can accelerate.
When the Great Crash of 2629 came, only a few saw it coming. Those left holding the bag found themselves holding a bag that was mostly empty. The message had finally gotten through to the common man, who suddenly found himself jobless, his life’s savings gone. Nothing cuts through a drug-induced haze faster than finding your bank and place of business both closed on a more-or-less permanent basis. The riots were frightening, massacres, though they would have been even more one-sided had not the common foot soldiers found that their life savings had also gone up the proverbial chute. The guns at their disposal, as well as their willingness to kill, armed the common people with both weaponry and an example to follow. Rebel groups in and around the capital guided this overnight army. Many died, but they were many. The rebels made sure the factories where the drugs to be put into the food, water, and air were made were burned first, then used the sudden nervous energy unleashed by withdrawal to good advantage.
It was a couple of years before the New Terran Federation of Planets got around to liberating the captives on the various Federation prison planets. This was excusable, there had been an awful lot of corpses to burn and political mopping-up to do. When they finally got around to checking on Cygnus Alpha, they found a planet ruled by one Roj Blake, aided by his tough and knowing second-in-command, Jenna Stannis by name.
Upon Blake’s arrival four years earlier, he’d found the population held in thrall by a religious nut and a phony drug and, given his rebellious nature and highly developed sense of right-and-wrong, had destroyed them both. He’d replaced the theocracy with a modified oligarchy, with himself, naturally, as the benevolent despot. He and his enforcer, Olag Gan, had made sure that work and food were shared equally among the wretched prison population, who were now faring much better than anyone might have expected. Despite the nasty weather and harsh conditions of the planet, it was shaping up into quite a nice little colony. Many of the scrubby plants in the hills had useful medicinal value. One of the more popular local characters, Vila Restal, had quickly discovered he could make a delicious and potent alcoholic beverage from the root of a tuberous plant.
Roj Blake and most of his fellow colonists refused the new Terran government’s offers of transportation off the planet, but were quite eager to start trade and communication as a colony planet of the New Federation. “We could use a few more women-folk as well around the place; eh, Blake?” Mr. Restal was quoted as saying.
Kerr Avon’s opinions on these developments are not known, as he and his accomplice, Ms. Anna Grant, were never found... but that’s just as well. It was sure to be sarcastic and not worth repeating.