The return to Dallia is as long and dull as the journey out.
Will is kept busy seeing to Autumn. As the ship enters the final day of its journey back, she is back on her feet and looking a lot better, however.
Jie keeps an eye on the Aslan Trader which the Princess is keeping pace with. She is delighted that it seems as if her calculations are working.
Grim spends the journey editing a couple of videos. In the first, to be given to the Aslan with Sunny’s body, he keeps the footage showing Sunny’s heroism. In the second video, he highlights InterSol’s exploits, leaving it to the viewer to infer their status as vicious Pirates. It’ll make great viewing on Pagaton when they’re at the Space Buccaneer Clambake and Jamboree!
Max spends his time on his handcomp, trying to figure out the most profitable way of moving 147 tons of cargo when the Princess’s hold will only take 60. He soon realizes that the exercise is impossible when he doesn’t know half of what the goods onboard the Aslan Trader really are.
It’s early morning on 179 when both the Aslan Trader and the Princess both come to a halt roughly over the Aokholkhtyeilik base on Dallia. Jie goes to give Will a high five to celebrate the fact that they managed to figure out how to operate the Trader. Will responds with a firm handshake.
Taeva calls down to the Aslan and gives them a very brief synopsis as to what transpired in the asteroid belt. Naturally the Aokholkhtyeilik are very interested in learning everything that they possibly can about the Wu-Tang plans and give immediate clearance for the Princess to land. They tell Taeva that they are launching a shuttle with a crew to bring the trader back down to their base as well.
It takes an hour for the Princess to land and to finish the cleansing process to neutralize the corrosive clouds. Once the party members disembark, they are met by the full delegation, led by the clan leader himself, Aihiylrehuisouh flanked by half a dozen female flunkies and as many male bodyguards.
One of the females acts as translator and introduces the head honcho as ‘Brilliance of the Brightest Star’.
Brilliance greets all of the party members solemnly and respectfully and invites them all to join him in his office for a full debriefing.
“You guys go and talk with the Aslan,” says Max. “I want to wait for the Trader an’ make sure that they don’t start nicking any of our booty.”
The party members head into Brilliance’s palatial office and the interpreter asks for a full and detailed debriefing on all that happened during their meeting with the Aslan Trader.
One of the females translates for Brilliance while another furiously types up a transcript of the conversation.
“Greetings Oh Brilliance. I am the lowly female Taeva, fortunate to be a friend of the brave Sunny. We are here to warn you of a great danger to your Clan-our Friends- which we have been able to unmask thanks to the wisdom and foresight of Sunny. Alas we are also here to describe how he sacrificed his life to safe your Clan, and to proclaim his Honour both for his own Clan and for himself…” Taeva continues in this vein.
Max, meanwhile, re-enters the ship together with another group of Aslan. He watches as the captured Wu-Tang are resuscitated before a group of Aokholkhtyeilik heavies drag each of them off. From the rough treatment that they mete out to the captives, it is obvious that there is no love lost between the two clans.
Max is disinterested with the plight of the prisoners, however – he just cares about the loot. He goes through each of the containers with a couple of the containers, learning of their contents, entering the details into his handcomp. Once all of the contents are known, he then goes into a meeting room with them and readies himself for some long and complicated negotiations to try and get the best prices for the loot.
The meetings in both offices go on for most of the day such are the details that the Aslan want and the tough negotiating stances of both Max and the Aslan brokers. It’s mid-evening by the time that the Aslan have learned all there is to learn from the party members and Max has concluded his negotiations regarding the cargo.
They meet up in the Aslan mess to compare notes:
“OK, let’s start off with the easy stuff. I got Cr. 90,000 for the Aslan scrip so that’s Cr. 140,000 that I got in total for the cash in the safe.”
“There were two tons of Aslan cybernetic replacement parts. The Aslan wanted them, but knew that we wouldn’t be able to move them elsewhere, so I could only get Cr. 240,000 for them. Better than nothin’ though.”
“For the bulk of the cargo, 20 tons of biodiesel, 40 tons of magnesium and 15 tons of medical supplies, I managed to get them up to around regular wholesale price for all of it.”
“So, to cut a long story short. We made Cr. 2,537,500 from that little job. Not bad for a week’s work. And we’re even more matey with the Aokholkhtyeilik than we were before even.”
Max smiles smugly, but then gets serious again:
“There was also some nasty shit that was in the hold. There are five tons of steroids. The Aokholkhtyeilik don’t want them as they consider them dishonourable and they’d kill humans if they took them. So I can’t think what to do with them apart from just dumping them. There are four tons of slaving gear, which the Aokholkhtyeilik don’t want neither. It ain’t particularly high value gear so, even without any moral arguments, I don’t think it’s worth hauling them to Pagaton anyway so we might just as well dump that too.”
“Finally there are five tons of Neutron Bombs. Horribly illegal everywhere civilized so naturally the Aokholkhtyeilik won’t touch them with a barge pole. They’d fetch a pretty penny on Pagaton though – maybe Cr. 750,000. So the question is, do we want to unleash that kind of shit onto Pagaton or not?”
“I’d say dump them.” says Taeva. “We’ll be on Pagaton – I don’t want them floating about, or to be stopped and searched carrying them. We’ve already got a good haul.”
Will and Grim nod in agreement.
Jie has a flash image in her mind of neutron bombs going off atop her homeland’s islands and she shudders.
“We have to get rid of the bombs,” she says in an uncharacteristically hushed, frightened tone.
“I propose a fireworks display of sorts as the bombs explode harmlessly in space above the Aslan base and in their destructive (but colorful) corona are the Slave gear and steroids. A demonstration that THESE monkeys have honor and style.
“Fine wiv me,” agrees Max. “As Taeva says, we’ve already done pretty good out of this little job so let’s not risk any bad karma.”
“Our hold is full and so I’ll ask the Aslan to take dump them out of orbit. Then Jie can get some target practice in blowing the crap out of them.”
Max’s suggestion is met with nods all round and so Max speaks with one of the females to arrange it.
“So I guess that we are done here then,” Max adds. “We need to stop off at Heaven’s Gate before we jump out. The mortgage is due tomorrow and I don’t want to end up getting the ship repo’ed if we spend too long on Pagaton as I doubt that they have any Hortalez et Cie. branches there. And it ain’t as if we don’t have the cash to pay.”
“I need to perform monthly maintenance as well,” adds Grim. “And we should top up the tanks also.”
“And hopefully we can get some passengers while we’re there,” Autumn says.
And so the decision is made and so the party members say their farewells to the Aslan.
Brilliance is there to see them off. He speaks for a while, with one of the females translating once again. He tells them that they will return Sunny’s body to his homeworld, together with a message saying that he died a hero, and that the Aokholkhtyeilik are deeply indebted to Sunny’s clan as a result.
Brilliance also presents each of the party members with another token, which Brilliance tells them is their highest honour. Any Aokholkhtyeilik will help anyone displaying the tokens and other Aslan are also likely to be impressed (although probably not the Wu-Tang).
The party members thank Brilliance and the rest of the Aslan for their help and then return to the Princess.
Once the bay has been cleared, the ship blasts off and soon clears the noxious atmosphere shrouding the planet and is soaring through the skies. They pass the Aslan shuttle returning after dropping off the bombs and other gear. The pilot gives Jie the coordinates, and Will changes course to follow them.
Some twenty minutes later, they see the containers ahead of them on the viewscreen. Jie heads from the bridge to her turret and lines up the containers as Will holds the Princess steady. Jie’s shot is right on target and is rewarded by the sight of the containers exploding nicely.
With that taken care of, the Princess returns to the Heaven’s Gate starport for the third time this trip.
After the whole day talking with the Aslan, everyone is feeling pretty tired. They settle for a 23.00 departure time the following day and Autumn posts the departure time online, and then everyone heads off for a good night’s sleep.