Even the nightly parties aboard the different ships were starting to get a little repetitive after five days and everyone is getting anxious at the thought that the mission would soon be upon them.
It’s mid-morning when the party members realize that the normally silent and sleepy starport has suddenly erupted into a hive of activity. The freight train laden with cargo has arrived. The Forine Rover is not the only ship whose crew wants to get out of here as soon as possible and they are badgering the stevedores to get their ships loaded first. Not knowing how the system works compared to the other ships which do this run regularly, the Rover is at the back of the queue when it comes to getting their goods. This is not a major problem though, as it might arouse suspicion if a lot of ships were to see the Forine Rover orbiting the world while the party members are on their mission.
Not wanting to wait another day before leaving, however, Max still puts a lot of pressure on the stevedores to get the goods loaded so that the ship can take off before dusk. To help him out, all of the party members take part in checking the cargo, knowing that a mistake could see all their profits from the trip disappearing.
All of the goods are in order, however, and so Max signs the paperwork and keys over the funds to the sellers.
As soon as the last of the containers has been loaded, Captain Aebath called the tower for permission for take off. The starport is nearly empty now, with just a couple of other ships still there and so permission is immediately granted. William fires the thrusters bringing the ship up off the apron, starting to follow the precise flight path through the Pavabid dusk until the ship is outside Pavabid’s atmosphere.
“Never, in all my travellin’, have I been so happy to blast off from a starport,” mutters Grim.
Then, looking at Arvor, “No offense, but why’d it take you so long to leave this icy paradise? I woulda’ petitioned Ma through the intrauterine barrier to catch the first tramp freighter out of here if it’d been me.”
Arvor nods distantly. He had perhaps hoped that his visit to Pavabid would bring answers, revenge perhaps, or even closure. Instead it had left him uncertain of anything. In all his years growing up, he had never know what a paradise it was. Its green hills, lush jungles, glittering oceans. Truly a garden world – a rarity in the universe.
Arvor had a feeling that outside interference would change some of that. No world remained pristine once mining companies started work. Although the religious rulers would eventually fall from power, and “normal” imperial freedoms would probably prevail, the world of his youth would be a memory.
Grim take the “Son of the Star” bobblehead he bought down to Engineering and tapes it to the main control console. ‘There you go’, he thinks, ‘now try to mess with our mission, you two bit, parochial, overhyped hearth deity…’. Then, as he mulls over the toll the Empire has taken of him throughout his life, he thinks maybe everybodys’ gods are a bit overhyped.
Now it’s time for Jiman to earn his ride. He tells Aebath where to position the ship so that the boat has the shortest journey down to planetside. Once William has maneuvered the ship into position, he dons his grav/belt and takes his stun carbine along with the others. Sergeant-Major Brandt checks everyone over carefully as they file into the ship’s boat.
“Good luck, troops,” he says, giving everyone a final salute. “I wish I was going with you.”
The look on his face says that he is not lying; only his paralyzed leg stopping him from leading the group.
Grim takes the controls of the ship’s boat waiting for the bow doors to open. He hears Jiman over the intercom telling Aebath that he has hacked into the satellite and is now broadcasting a pre-recording of empty space. Aebath opens the bow doors and wishes everyone the best of luck. Grim pulls back on the controls and reverses the ship’s boat from the bay, before descending straight down to the surface.
As the boat cuts through the darkness of Pavabid’s atmosphere, Grim sees that all below him is dense forest. He slows the boat’s descent and hopes that there is a sufficiently large clearing somewhere that will take the boat. Fortunately, it doesn’t take him long to find one and he brings the boat to the ground with just a gentle jolt.
Everyone disembarks from the ship. Now they are in the northern hemisphere which is enjoying summer, the temperature is a lot more pleasant. Everyone checks over their equipment one last time and then they all turn on their grav/belts, slowly ascending to treetop height. Taeva then leads the way as the six party members head off westwards in the direction of the floating palace.