For the next four hours, the party members fly west just a few metres above the tree tops of the dense forests in this part of the world. They keep to a steady pace, knowing tat their training on the devices was basic and didn’t teach them any clever moves. An accident at this stage would be a disaster.
Eventually, Taeva slows down while point ahead and above. All can just make out the shape of the palace ahead, just visible by starlight.
Taeva leads everyone straight up until they are high above the palace and then down again until all are standing on the roof of the uppermost level. They see that there are two guards on the helicopter deck, neither of them looking terribly alert.
Taeva drops down to try the iris valve which leads into the palace. She finds that it is locked, however. It will take a while to bypass the locks and so there will be no alternative to using the stun carbines to take the guards down.
Taeva joins the others on the roof and the party splits into two groups – one for each of the guards. The stun carbines do their jobs and quickly drop the two guards before they know what has hit them.
With the coast now clear, the party members all drop down from the roof. They secure the guards, hiding them in the chopper for now, while Grim and Taeva get to work on the controls to the door. Four minutes later and they are inside. With Taeva leading the way, they carefully head down the curved corridor, checking each of the rooms as they go.
Taeva stands still as she sees there is another guard ahead of her sitting on a stool. Jie comes up next to her and the two girls both fire a volley from the stun carbines. Another guard is dropped by the weapon and is secured and bundled into the helicopter with the others. A cursory glance at the other rooms shows that there is little of interest here, and so the party members head for the lift in order to rise to the next level. Upon entering the lift, however, they find that a code is needed to access that level. Taeva and Grim set to work on it and, four minutes later, they have finally managed to bypass it.
There’s only room for to at a time in the elevator and so Arvor and Jie take the first trip. As soon as the doors open, however, they are pounced upon by three wahroos – green furred predators that are commonly used for guard duty. Arvor and Jie sustain minor injuries from the creature’s bites before, through a combination of Arvor’s Gauss Pistol and Jie’s stun carbine, two of the wahroos are killed and the third one stunned.
The rest of the party members come up in the elevator while Arvor and Jie clean up the mess that the dead wahroos caused. The bodies are removed and hidden with the guards in the helicopter.
Taeva leads the party into the next room, opening it. Inside there is a guard who immediately reaches for his SMG. The guard is fast, but Taeva is faster, dropping the guard before he has chance to bring the weapon to bear.
Looking around the finely appointed room, it appears that this is Orobid’s antechamber. While the body of the fourth guard is disposed of, William sees to Jie and Arvor’s wounds while Taeva tries the iris valve leading from the antechamber. It is unlocked.
Silently, she opens the valve. Inside another luxuriously appointed room, there is a huge bed in the centre; upon it, the sleeping form of Orobid.
Wasting no time, Taeva quietly enters the room and sets up the holoprojector close to the bed, starting the timer before exiting the room.
With main objective of the mission now complete, the party members spend the next ten minutes hiding their tracks. The three guards who were totally unaware of the party members’ incursion into the palace are returned to their original positions. The last of the guards who saw Taeva is going to have to come along with the party members as are the bodies of the two dead wahroos.
After a final look around to check that they have left no evidence, the group activates their grav/belts once again and take off from the palace.
Once they are a safe distance away, they descend to treetop height once more. They drop the corpses of the dead dogs and continue on their way.
After two hours of travel, they are halfway back to the ship’s boat when Taeva sees that there are two air/rafts approaching. The party members immediately drop down into the forest, but the air/raft crews have seen them. One of them lands a short distance in front of the party while the other hovers overhead.
Three people from the first air/raft head towards the party’s position. The party members are ready for them, however, and have superior weapons and the three intruders are quickly taken down. The other air/raft lands and another three intruders head towards the party, but the result is the same and they are taken down without hardly having a chance to fire back.
The driver of the first air/raft manages to wound Teava, but is quickly stunned by Grim in return. The second air/raft heads straight up. Arvor quickly attaches a RAM grenade to his Gauss Rifle and shoots at the underside of the raft, causing some pretty horrific damage to both the raft and the driver, critically wounding him. Arvor tries to chase after the vehicle, but his grav/belt skills are not up to it and the air/raft continues to rise straight up.
Realizing that there is little that they can now do about the out of control vehicle, they turn their attention to the other raft. They find four vacc suits in the trunk, saving the party a fair bit of cash as these items were on their shopping list. With none of the party members having the ability to fly the air/raft, the party members divide the seven stunned and unconscious opponents, securing them to the loops of their grav belts before resuming their journey back to the ship’s boat.
Apart from William accidentally dropping his passenger, nearly killing him in the process, the party members make it back to the ship’s boat without further incident. While the rest of the party members guard the captives, Grim takes to the boat’s controls and takes off from the clearing, bring the vessel straight up to where the Rover is still in orbit above them.
After the boat is docked, Aebath, Brandt and Jiman all congratulate the party members on a job well done. Not wanting to hang around in the system any longer than necessary, William, Aebath and Jie head to the bridge in order to plot and follow a course to jump diameter while the others place the captives in the Type-R’s low berths to keep them out of mischief.
At Arvor’s suggestion, Grim keeps one of them defrosted for the time being though, curious to determine who the eight men in the air/rafts where and how they had located the party members.
With the other captives now secure. Arvor watches the blue/green planet disappear through the rear viewscreen, thinking to himself that his homeworld, with its natural beauty, is never going to be the same again once they allow large-scale mining to start.
Grim sits down with the captive in order to start interrogating him. The terrified captive is no hero though and Grim soon has him singing like a canary. Grim learns that the captive is working for the Trexalon Technical Consortium. In fact, Grim vaguely remembers seeing him and some of the others back at Pavabid starport, going back and forth to the Trexalon Far Trader that was in port for the entire period that the Rover was there. The captive is just a junior grunt and so is unable to reveal much of the big picture as to how the party was spotted – he and the others were just given an order to intercept them. He does, however, reveal that his CO reports to the Trexalonian Military Attache on Pavabid and that that Trexalon always keeps some troops at Pavabid downport masquerading as traders, with three ships alternating the mission.
Once he is sure that there is no more useful information to be obtained from the captive, Grim shuts him in a low berth.
By middday, the Rover has reached jump distance and so William sets the ship into hyperspace. The party members then use the last of the ship’s alcohol in order to celebrate their fine achievement before heading to their staterooms for some well-needed rest.