Jie and Max spend the rest of jump getting into a regular routine. Jie spends mornings shouting at Kiimii and Laarii trying to get them to work, Max spends the evenings telling reassuring Kiimii that the nightmare will soon be over if she agrees to sell to the party members at a good price and evenings are spent in a kind of truce in order that the passengers are kept reasonably content and don’t think that they are travelling on some kind of asylum in space.
By the last day of jump, Max and Kiimii have agreed to the main terms of the deal. Kiimii will get 5% of the ship’s value repaid to her in cash – around MCr 2.75. The party will get the same amount as a discount on the buying price.
It should be a deal that works for everyone. The party gets a good discount on the price of a practically brand new ship; Kiimii gets a good chunk of cash which should keep even a little princess like her happy for a decade or so, and Unguin gets rid of the headache and can be sure that Kiimii will be safe back at home and won’t be tapping him for any more cash any time soon. There are still the small details to work out as both sides try the ‘nibble’, but the main terms are already agreed.
The passengers are only semi-aware of what is going on around them. The cyclist is a joy to have onboard. She’s not used to this lifestyle and so will put up with anything. The judge is not at all happy with the service, obviously, but tends to stay in his stateroom most of the time. The Army Officer thinks that the place is a shambles and is constantly on the point of complaining. He likes Jie though and so she is able to calm him down.
The three GSbAG execs are loud and obnoxious but, somewhat surprisingly, they get on well with Kiimii, even though they are rather condescending about the quality of the ship, thinking that Collacian shipyards are pretty shoddy compared to their own.
In this pressure-cooker environment, it comes to a relief to everyone when the ship finally emerges from jump at 17.30 and Jie and Arvor plot a course to Tarkine.
The ship is three hours into the four hour journey to the planet when Arvor announces to the others that there is a ship’s boat coming up from the planet on an intercept course for them. This panics everyone and Taeva runs for the turret in case the ship is hostile.
Arvor radios the fast approaching ship. “Identify yourself,”
“This is Tarkine Customs and Excise,” the ship replies. “Maintain your current trajectory and prepare for boarding.”
The party members are still nervous, worried that it could be a trap. Arvor calls down to the highport for confirmation.
“Yes, Unguin’s Princess, that is one of our customs cutters. You need to obey their orders or they will be forced to take offensive action.”
Arvor, still somewhat nervously, holds the course as the much more nimble ship’s boat comes up alongside and docks.
The airlock cycles and the entrance is filled with the imposing site of two Imperial Marines in Combat Armor filling the way, armed with accelerator rifles. Four of them come onboard, followed by three customs officers, with another four Marines at the rear.
“Papers please, everybody,” the Customs Inspector says.
Terrified, Kiimii hands over the ship’s registration documents with shaking hands. Max shows the cargo manifest and everyone on board presents their papers.
After looking at just a few of the papers though, the Customs Inspector smiles warmly and turns to the Marines.
“Stand easy, boys,” he says. “It’s OK, they’re Impies.”
The Marines relax, leaning against bulkheads and taking off their terrifying helmets.
One of the Marines looks at Jie as if he has just seen a ghost.
“Jie,” he says. “Is that really you?”
Now it’s Jie’s turn to look as if she has just seen a ghost.
“Marc!” she says, recognizing her fiancee’s best friend.
She rushes over to give Marc a hug, which is quite difficult due to his wearing combat armor.
The embrace is met with wolf whistles from Marc’s companions.
The pair spend a short while chatting while the other marines stand around smoking and chatting with the other crew members until the Customs Inspector taps them on the shoulder.
“Got to split you up now,” he says. “Otherwise we’ll all be splatted on the tarmac.”
Marc parts. “Stop by the barracks if you have time,” he says to Jie as the marines make their way back to the ship’s boat. “And be careful when you get down to Tarkine. It’s gotten a whole lot worse since you were last there.”
The ship’s boat disengages and, five minutes later Arvor is on final approach. Fifteen minutes later and he brings Unguin’s Princess safely to land at Moffett Down.
It’s winter at the moment and so it is quite chilly as they emerge onto the apron. Looking around, everyone sees that the downport is heavily fortified. With the rather primitive tech here, the party members are instantly reminded of Pavabid Down.
As Kiimii and Laarii help off the high passengers, Will unfreezes the low ones. Fortunately the hardened mercenaries are pretty tough and so all of them survive to his great relief.
It’s 22.00 now and most of the facilities on the relatively small and simple starport are closed and so there’s little that can be achieved that night and so they check in at the Novotel. After suffering Laarii’s appalling cooking for a week, everyone is in the mood for a good meal at the hotel. The food is absolutely excellent, as is nearly always the case on agricultural worlds, and it’s washed down with gluhwein, a Tarkine speciality at this time of year. Many glasses are drunk before they all call it a night.