The party members, several of whom are nursing some evil hangovers from the excesses of cheap booze they were drinking the previous night start heading down to breakfast at 09.00.
A bleary eyed Max joins them at 10.00.
“Well at least I managed to get the uvver 30 tons of Nobble Leather off the ship wivvout the bastards comin’ up wiv some reason to grab ’em.”
“But the Noble Leather is the cheap stuff. The bastards are still sat on Cr.280,000 worth of our gear at ’olesale.”
He sighs. “I’m trying to see ‘ow much it would cost to bung ’em to get the goods released, but the bastards want 100 grand for it – they know ’ow much they’d get for it on the market so they ain’t up for any deals.”
“Hmm, so we need to know where it is stored,” Arvor comments. “This could complicate the “escape” from the downport. However, I assume it is in some sort of standard container.”
“I know exactly where the cargo is,” Max replies. “It’s in the warehouse on the northern side of the starport – completely the opposite side from the Falcon in the shipyards, unfortunately. Quite a few guards around there as well because there’s a lot of stuff in those warehouses worth nickin’.”
“How about this,” Arvor suggests. “Not only do we spring the Grisst Falcon, but we also steal the Black Panther! That should go a long way towards evening the odds with the Gazelle.”
“We can still go with the distraction / stalling of the SDB and two teams re-uniting at the downport, and play it by ear as to whether we can seize both vessels. At the very least, we might disable the pirate and do shipping in these lanes a favour. We will have two decent pilots (Capt. O’Neil and William) – and if anything goes wrong with O’Neil, I can fly in a pinch (although I am better at manning the guns).”
“Bloody ’ell,” exclaims Max. “Sounds bloody ambitious to me. The 60 tons of cargo we got in that warehouse will pretty much fill the entire ‘old of the Falcon. Capacity on them is only 61 tons, so it’ll take time to squeeze the load inside.”
“You’d need a fair few stevedores and their kit to load that and you’d be lucky to get it done in under an hour. And by that time the ‘ole planet will be comin’ after us, not just the Gazelle.”
“Anyone on this planet will have more fear/ loyalty to the people they have to deal with day to day rather than with us,” Taeva says. “Spilling the beans to any of them in advance will likely to get us an early bullet in the head.”
Max nods in agreement. “Yes, that’s true – especially if they are pretty high up in the organization and so have a lot to lose.”
“However, we all know what a shithole this place is an’ ‘ow most people ’ere ain’t got two credits to rub together. What about if someone offered them the chance to say goodbye to this shithole once and for all?”
“There are ten staterooms on an A2 and four fridges. If we all doubled up, it means that we could take up to 18 people with us back to Collace on the ship. Promise them each 10 grand or so to get themselves started an’ it looks like a pretty attractive offer. Shit, if it was me in their shoes, then I’d jump at an offer like that if the risks didn’t make it a suicide job.”
The party members continue to discuss options for getting around the SDB. Max comes up with a suggestion:
“What about this,” he says. “Nearly all of you are good with comms. ’Ow about if you knock up a crybaby? Stick a transmitter in a sandcaster barrel together with a battery, a timer and a recording giving a distress signal”
“Then we could bung a merchant ship to fire the barrel just before they jump out – two days from Avastan. The SDB then has to leave orbit for the long trip out there and that will give us plenty of time to do the job an’ get out of here, travellin’ in the opposite direction.”
The others like the sound of the plan and quickly decide that they should go ahead with it. However, it’s just one small element of the plan – there’s a lot more preparation and planning involved for them to have any chance of taking over the ship. They spend a couple more hours planning until, Grim comes up with the first stab at a plan, which Arvor goes on to upgrade.
“It’s a long shot, but it might just work,” Max comments.
“Before we can do too much though, we need cash,” Max adds. “Grisst might be reimbursing our expenses, but we need to bankroll this job first of all. And the problem is that most of our cash is tied up in the aluminum and nobble leather what the thievin’ bastards are keepin’ ‘old of. I need to turn that other 30 tons of nobble leather into cash fast before we can do much else. I’ll see to it now.”
The others continue planning while Max is away. And they are still planning when he returns three hours later, carrying a plastic bag. He is looking philosophical.
“Well I managed to get our money back on it, plus enough to pay for the freight and maybe enough on top to buy a few drinks, but that’s about it,” he says. “Still, on this bloody planet that’s probably as good a deal as we’re likely to get.”
He empties the contents of the bag on the table.
“Including what’s left in the kitty, we’ve got 85 grand to spend while we’re on this planet, so we can’t go too mental, even if Grisst is going to pay us back. So what’s first on the shopping list?”
The consensus is that the materials for the crybaby are most important, followed by locating a warehouse to use as a base for what will hopefully become their mini-army of stevedores.
“Alright then,” Max says. “No rest for the wicked, I suppose. I’m on the case.”
He then stops.
“Errm … but I don’t really know what I need to make a crybaby. One of you electrical, communications geniuses better come with me.”
Arvor and Grim agree to come along with Max on his shopping expedition – Grim to make sure that it has enough power and Arvor to make sure that it works in the first place.
Three hours later, the party members have everything they need in order to make the crybaby. Radios capable of broadcasting from that far away don’t come cheap though and the tools they need for the job comes to Cr.27,000. Already a big chunk of the party’s cash has gone already. While they are at the starship supplies store, they pick up a spare fusion plug in case Grim’s gambit of tricking the maintenance yard into using theirs doesn’t work. That’s another Cr.10,000 gone. Not wanting to take all of this gear back to the hotel, they tell the store to keep it until they need it.
It’s too late today for Max to start looking for premises now and so he decides he will take care of it the next day.
Instead all of the party members get together in order to start looking for some employees. Rather than heading out to the bars opposite API’s barracks and admin building, they head for the area north of the starport, opposite the freight terminal checking out the bars there. After an hour, they manage to find what they were looking for – a grimy bar which seems to be full of dirty looking stevedores.
The party use their usual tactics – a little flirting from Jie followed by a few bottles of Tequila bought by Grim and the stevedores are the party’s new best friends. After half an hour’s general chatting, Grim realizes that Miguel is the foreman who the rest of the stevedores admire and respect. If Grim can get him on the party’s side, then he should have no problem in signing up as many of the stevedores as they want.
“We can’t afford to offer them much upfront,” whispers Max to Grim, “Not if you’re planning on getting 17 of them. We can afford to give them a grand each as a signing on bonus. Maybe a little more just before we start the mission, but we’re spending money like water right now so we need to keep some in reserve.”
He waits until Miguel goes to the rest room and then, before the foreman gets back to the table, Grim has a quiet word with him in private. It turns out to be quite a long conversation – obviously moving to Collace is quite a major change in lifestyle. Miguel is a little hesitant at first – particularly because Grim can give him little information about the mission and also tells him that there is some danger involved. Grim points out to him though that he has little to lose other than continuing with his miserable life on this miserable planet.
It looks like Grim has won him around. Miguel says that he thinks he can get 16 of the stevedores to agree to the mission. Grim tells him that they all have 24 hours to make up their mind. He takes Miguel’s phone number from him and says that he will give him a call. They the return to the others at the bar and continue to drink with the stevedores until the Tequila is starting to make them feel ill.
They head back to the hotel to sleep it off.