It’s a little after midnight now and all are properly rested with all of the materials that they need now in place. It’s time to get busy on repairing the Patroller.
Before they start work, however, the party members decide their strategy while the Aslandables keep an eye on the prisoners.
Zos’s lack of interest in the party’s problems has left a bad taste in Taeva’s mouth:
“Can’t we get a prize crew?” she asks. “I really don’t want to leave the Princess with Zos.”
“Taeva brings up a good point, maybe we should hire a prize crew?” says Grim.
“In the meantime, it’s gonna take Will, Taeva, and I at least a week to fix up one of these suckers well enough to travel. So, do the rest of you have unfinished business on Flexos? And what should we tell the Aslandables_? ’_Thanks anyway’?”
“The Aslandables have their own deal with Zos,” Max says. “I was speaking with them while you were chasing down the runaway ship. They think Zos is OK, actually – firm but fair – and the Aslan respect that. If he was some kind of pussy, then he would not be able to keep the Aslan in their place. They reckon that, if we made a deal with Zos and it didn’t work out as well as we would have hoped, then that’s not Zos’s fault. It’s ours.”
“I can see their point too. If our strategy was different and we pushed forward to the second Patroller faster rather than holding our position on the right flank and letting them come to us, then we could have taken it down before it got off the ground.”
“Anyway, what’s done is done.”
“If Zos’s contribution so far had been an ‘actual’ unit rather than 4 individual Aslan I’d have some sympathy for that sort of hindsight," Taeva retorts with annoyance. "The fact is we’ve risked and done everything, and Zos has done or contributed fuck all. And still everything is on our head.”
“Ain’t that always the way though, doll? The likes of us do all the dirty work while politicians like Zos keep their hands clean and deny all knowledge if it all goes tits up?”
“Anyway, movin’ on …I’m not against getting a prize crew, but where do you plan on finding one on this primitive rockball of a planet? You’ve seen the starport yourself. This backwater isn’t exactly Banf Highport.”
“I need to take the AGC back to Lomburing,” he adds. “I need to shift those tools at least as they are cluttering up the cargo hold. If we are going to scavenge the power plant and J-Drive from the Patroller, it will pretty much take up the entire hold. The only place we’re going to be able to turn them into cash is at a decent pop world with a minimum Class-B starport – and there aren’t many likely candidates within a few jumps of here and so we’re going to be stuck with them for a while.”
“Well, given their resale value, it seems worth our while to let the drives sit in the hold a bit. Though jumping out to Walston and then hopping freight back to Flexos might take a little time, and I don’t relish the thought of leaving the Princess on empty lockdown. Max, maybe you and Autumn can stay with her while the rest of us make the delivery? Or maybe we could pay the crew of the Flexos Avenger to keep an eye on her? In any case, I’ll get to work on the Patroller repairs as soon as possible. Oh yeah, can you do me a favour? While you’re in Lomburing can you see if there are any RAM HEAP grenades to be found? I’m getting pretty low again,” asks Grim.
“I don’t mind stayin’ wiv Autumn if you’d be ’appier,” Max agrees. “I thought you might need my skills on Walston in case there’s any negotiation needed while ‘andin’ over the Patroller for cash. Your choice – whatever’s good for you is good for me.”
“I’ll see what I can do about RAM grenades. This place is pretty low-tech and the law level is pretty high though and so I can’t make any promises. I’ll ‘ave to see what Uncle Zos says as he’s the only person I can see releasing some.”
Grim slugs back the last of his coffee:
“OK, we can’t sit around chatting all night,” he says. “The sooner that we get this job started, the sooner that we can be on our way.”
All members of InterSol are drafted in to help with the reconstruction of the Patroller. Will and Jie together look after exchanging the sensor array, Stian takes responsibility for changing the turret, Taeva is on welding duty, while Grim handles the largest task, which is the replacement of the M-Drive. The Aslandables are happy to help out whenever there is some heavy lifting required, pleased to take a break from the boring task of watching over the prisoners.
Max says his farewells to the others and fires up the Grav APC, starting on the long journey back to Lomburing.