Doc, Steve, and Jazelle are still surveying the mess when Veronica arrives.
"What the hell happened here?" she asks.
"Grave robbers from Imperial China fell out of a jar," Doc answers matter-of-factly. "Steve, how many of these artifacts have wormholes in them?"
"Nearly all of them, I think," Steve responds, adjusting his glasses.
"Aha. And they span how many different epochs?"
"Nearly all of them."
"I see. Has this sort of thing happened before?"
"I think so, yes. Once or twice. They usually end up going back the way they came."
"And there's nothing to stop this from happening again, is there?"
"Not really. We should probably just send them back."
"Won't they fall out of the jar before they fall into it?" Veronica asks.
"You're right. We should wait awhile before sending them back. We'll keep them in stasis for a couple days. Then send them back long before they arrive."
They search the thieves carefully for hidden weapons before dragging their unconscious bodies to the elevator. The thieves themselves are dressed in not more than rags and have nothing of value. Most of their weapons are crude and dull. The jade dagger the boss-thief pulled is sharp and delicate like a long flint spearhead, though a bit chipped and dented now that it's seen its only fight. It probably will not survive another.
The booty the thieves brought across the time-hole is much more interesting. Gold and jade necklaces, a silk robe with silver buttons, a tiara set with sapphires, incense dishes carved with dragons and lions, grab-bags of precious gems, rings, and earrings; all incredibly valuable artifacts in pristine condition, a century old and should be centuries older.
Jazelle swoons over a necklace of jade, a maw of green teardrops in various lengths and layers woven together with gold wires and glass spacers. She twirls as she clasps it to her breast and catches Doc's eyes by surprise. Her eyes are as green as the jade.
Doc breaks the contact instinctively. Saying nothing, he picks up the loot and piles it carefully with the other Qin artifacts, and throws Jazelle a glance that expects her to do likewise. She moves gently towards him and places the thing softly on the silk robe. Doc smiles at her and leaves to stitch his cuts.
That evening, with Doc's wounds patched and the thieves stowed safely away in stasis, a party the likes of which have not been seen in many a virtual moon aboard the Younger Brother Pear begins. Many drinks are drunk and Doc's epic battle is recounted many times and in many ways. Each iteration flourishes Doc's skill with a blade and the wild ruthlessness of his attackers while deprecating the role of the sentry bots. The final result is just short of Doc clobbering the apes with a single blow while they bit and clawed at the robots as if they were chew-toys, despite the actual security footage looping on the bar's monitor.