It’s just after midnight when the iris valve above them opens and Will is informed that Unguin’s Princess is cleared for departure. Will takes the ship up into the air.
The iris valve shuts and the plascrete pad slides back over atop it beneath them. From their bridge, in the bright ruddy orange hued light, they can easily make out the two 10dton smallcraft, their crane extension arms folded down for flight. On split screen, the two pilots open channels with them. The craft numbered ’0013’s pilot, a broken nosed brown haired man with green eyes and a wolfish grin introduces himself as ‘Havordh Blezkewicz’; the blonde haired blue eyed handsome one in craft number ‘0026’ calls himself ‘Lars Janacek’.
The flight path they take heads west off the immediate grounds of the Starport at 500m off the surface, then dodges back north by northeast, over a volcanic ridge line, and then descends again to an altitude of 100m off the surface. At 1G, the flight takes only a few minutes, and the party members see they are hovering over what appears to be an eerily identical C-class Downport field, one that is not on their maps nor is there the comforting bleep of a landing beacon here. To the northwest side of the field there is a raised hillock of ash and basalt, atop of which are four huge atmosphere ventilator hoods, pitted with corrosion. They note this landing field with its windswept dunes of sulfur and gray volcanic ash gathered everywhere over it and outbuildings appears to have been abandoned. A quick sensors check will reveal the DropDead-Downs landing beacon approximately 52km to their south.
From out of a cavernous pit emerges a pair of eight-wheeled environmentally sealed ATV’s, and they park at the base of the hilltop. The 6-man work teams in HEV suits dismount with tools and climb the short distance to the first two immense ventilator hoods.
Dvorcek calls Will to position the ship above the ventilator hood while the rest of the party are in the cargo hold in their vacc suits. They stay in position for half an hour until the first of the ventilator hoods is removed and then the cranes pass up a winch which Grim secures inside the hold. Will then brings up the ship, taking the old cover with the ship, dropping it to the ground next to the installation. The pod pilots then collect the first of the four new ventilator hoods and position it where the other one was.
Will remains in position as it takes the crew a while to fix the first of the new hoods in position and then they repeat the operation to install the second of the hoods. This time Will is watching carefully. He sees that the ground team is removing the filters and meshes before the pod pilot Havordh lowers the hood into where it will be seated and fastened down. The removal team is removing ‘packing materials’ and several wooden crates before re-installing these filters and meshes. The Air ventilator removal team then takes this ‘dunnage’ and the crates down to the second ATV and loads them aboard. The contents of these boxes remain a mystery for the moment.
By the time Will has figured out what’s going on, Dvorcek calls up and says that they are done for the day and that they will commence once more in 18 hours’ time.
Will reminds him that the deal was that they will get paid 100k now. Dvorcek says that he will send the money over in an ATV, but Will says that they will not land. After some debate, it is agreed that one of the pod pilots will deliver the cash while the ship is in orbit. It takes a while to arrange this but, a couple of hours later, one of the pods docks with Unguin’s Princess and passes over a briefcase before departing back to the surface.
Taeva checks over the briefcase carefully, but everything is in order – there’s 100k inside it.
With the cash now taken care of and also all of the vacc suits and inside of the hold washed down to avoid any damage from the atmosphere, they turn their attention to the remaining two hoods.
Carefully Grim removes the cover and the filters behind them, to reveal boxes hidden inside both of them. Opening up the boxes reveals that they contain a mixture of TL9 laser rifles and laser pistols, plus a number of spare power packs – there’s half a ton of them in total.
The party members spend a while deciding what they should do with them, whether to turn Dvorcek into the authorities or to just keep quiet and take the money. They decide to do a little of both. In order to not deprive Dvorcek and his rebels from the use of the weapons, Grim and Jie carefully go through all of the weapons damaging them all, before carefully placing them back in position so as not to arouse the rebels’ suspicions.
While this is going on, Will and Arvor take it in shifts on the bridge so that the other one can get some sleep.