It’s early in the morning when the cops finally arrive, to everyone’s relief. There are four of them – a lieutenant, a sergeant and a couple of officers.
The belters welcome them inside their by now even more crowded base and the cops have some coffee before getting down to work.
The sergeant and one of the officers commandeer the games room and use it as their office for the day. One by one, they speak to all of the crew and passengers, asking them what happened, recording their statements on holovid.
Andrea is the first one to be interviewed and also has to answer the most questions being the commanding officer currently and knowing most about the events that led up to the destruction of the Duchess Selene. Once she has given her testimony, she accompanies the lieutenant and the other officer as they take the Police Cutter over to the ship.
They are gone for several hours before returning to the belters’ base, by which time the other two cops have just about finished the interviews – the later interviewees offering little in the way of additional information that they didn’t know already.
Andrea is looking far from happy upon her return. She gestures for the party members to accompany her into an empty store room outside the hearing of the belters.
“The bastards have stripped the ship,” she says to them in an angry whisper. “They cut the side out of the ship, presumably with their mining lasers, and everything that wasn’t not nailed down is gone now.”
The conversation is cut short as the cops want to address everyone.
The lieutenant speaks to all of the crew and passengers:
“Right, I think that we have all of the information that we need,” he says in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. “From what we have learned, the responsibility for the disaster seems to fall firmly on the shoulders of Captain Warner. There’s not much more that we can do now apart from to get you all to Dallia as quickly and safely as possible and then it will be a matter for your insurance companies to sort out with McClellan Factors.”
“The Cutter has ten low berths which we can use to take ten of you out of here and we’ll get you home in a little over two days. For the rest of you, there’s a Fast Trader on its way, which I believe is a couple of days away. That will get you to Dallia in a little under a week from today in total.”
He then speaks to Andrea alone regarding who should go in the low berths.
She says that it is best if the most injured are the ones to go as they would be better off unconscious for a while and then they will receive the best medical attention as soon as they get to Dallia.
She tells the cops to take the two passengers who were originally in the low berths on the ship, Silven, Chrysa, Janice and Simon.
She asks if any the party members want to go too as they are all injured, but they all say they will stay, even Max.
Andrea decides that it is best if May and Renee also leave, which they are glad to do, even though they are not too keen on the idea of going in the fridge.
Granzh moans a lot. He wants to get out of the belters’ base as soon as possible, but he is not at all keen him and his family going inside the low berths. He argues with the cops for a while, but eventually realizes that there’s not a lot they can do anyway. Eventually it is decided that his wife and the two pups will occupy the last two berths.
The party members discuss possibilities for a while, knowing that they need to find a way of coming and going from the base without arousing too much suspicion from the belters.
Arvor comes up with a plan and goes to speak with the belters.
“I am sorry that we aren’t able to leave immediately, just as much as you are,” he says to Bob Milligan. “We thank you for your hospitality, but we think it would be better if the women were to spend the remaining time in the lifeboat rather than taking up any more of your valuable space here.”
“Suit yourself,” he says. “We’re not keeping anyone prisoner here.”
Arvor thanks him and tells the others of the reaction. He tells Andrea that it will be better if all of the crew and passengers agree to move out to the lifeboat.
“Well there won’t be a problem with Bar and Hargz as I am still their commanding officer,” she replies. “The passengers could be more problematic.”
“There could be privacy issues as well with male and female all living in such a confined space for a length of time.”
“Let me speak with them anyway.”
She heads off to speak with the remaining three passengers and then comes back to report.
“Orlando is happy to do whatever we ask him to do,” she reports. “Granzh refuses to go though because he says it will be even more crowded in there than in here and Kaspar says the same thing. So neither of them will be going.”
Despite the overcrowding and privacy issues, the party members decide that it will be better to get as many of the non-combatants into the lifeboat as possible, so all of the females, plus Hargz and Orlando into the lifeboat.
The party members start to regularly make trips between the belters’ base and the lifeboat in order to lull the belters into a false sense of security, so they won’t be suspicious when everyone leaves together.