Shania is up horribly early, getting ready for departure. She’s terribly excited at the thought of going to Newland to see her youngest daughter. Taeva’s father hated cities and nothing would drag him to Newland and Shania never wanted to leave him alone.
It’s mid-morning by the time that she is packed and then she Hyrm get into the air/rafts as the three vehicles make their way through the weak sunshine to get to Plainsville. They check into the hotel once again. Shania and Hyrm spend only a short while there though before they are met by a realtor who is going to show them some land plots that are available for sale.
There’s little else for the party members to do for the evening than head down to the saloon once again – the same thing that the locals do every evening. William hears a ping from his handcomp along with a voice saying, “You’ve Got Mail.”
He reads it to himself and then he reads the message out to the others.
I hope that you and your companions are well. Mr. Grisst has asked me to contact you about a job you might be interested in if you are still on Collace or close by. We have a bit of a problem with one of our ships – an A2 Far Trader, the Grisst Falcon.
The maintenance yard on Avastan were offering a special deal on annual maintenance – 30% discount and so we took advantage of the deal. However, after the service was complete, the maintenance yard claimed that it was necessary to replace a lot of parts (many of which were less than five years old) and so the total bill came to ten times the agreed amount. Captain Shenton O’Neill was able to prove that the parts listed on the invoice were originals, but the reaction from the shipyards was to simply place him under house arrest until the bill was paid in full.
We have made investigations and we are not the first company to have been the target of such scam. We have uncovered several examples of tramp freighter operators who fell for the same trick. In most of their cases, their vessels were seized through paying local judges off and the ships were then sold cheaply at auction (to shell companies that can be traced back to the owners of the shipyards).
So the mission is to retrieve the ship from the shipyards. We have few other details of the situation on Avastan as Captain O’Neill was unable to pass on much information other than the request to send him additional funds. We know that he is being kept under guard at the Miramar Hotel in the startown. You will need to rescue him before seizing the ship. Once you have seized the ship, Captain O’Neill will release the originally agreed amount so that there can be no accusations of theft on your/our behalf. This is a completely legal operation.
If you agree to this mission, Mr. Grisst can pay Cr.200,000 for delivery of the ship back to Collace plus all expenses. I have arranged TAS vouchers for your all giving you a high passage to Avastan. Please let me know by return if you would like to take this mission, otherwise I will need to find someone else for the task.
The party discuss the matter, but quickly make a decision. Their mission on Tarsus is nearly complete now and Grisst’s adventure sounds interesting. They tell William to send a message back to Ana saying that they will take the job.
A couple of hours later, Shania and Hyrm come to join them. They’ve found a lovely plot of land on the edge of the town with clear views over the plain which they will take as soon as the money comes through. Taeva has never seen her mother look so happy.
Once Shania and Kyrm have decided that they have had enough ond leave the others to it, Taeva ruminates in the bar.
“That damn ranch was nothing but a curse. My Dad scrimped and saved his way through my childhood to buy it, and we moved there when I was about 15. I don’t think my Mum wanted to go there as we were fairly comfortable with Dad as the Foreman at the Carter Place, but he would have his own way.
“Once we got there it was hard work and short rations – not the sort of thing a 15 year old girl wants to put up with, and it led to a lot of arguments. I wanted – but the blasted ranch came first. Dad’s drinking didn’t help.
“After one argument too many – something stupid over wanting to see a concert I think it all blew up. I packed up and hitched a ride to Newland to see it -o ne thing led to another, I stowed away on a starship and never went back.
“I felt kind of guilty but also didn’t want to be found. It was two years later before I sent a message back from Collace saying I was OK, and that was just before I left the planet towards the Imperium. I sent the odd message but maybe no more than half a dozen in the 12 years since I left Collace.
She stares moodily into her drink. “I guess I blew it with my Dad, but I suppose in a way his ranch eventually made good for Mum and Elspeth.”
They continue drinking in the saloon until late.