At 1.00am, two pickups drive out from the warehouse, William driving one and Max the other, taking Arvor, Grim and Taeva to the starport, leaving Jie to look after the stevedores.
They park in a quiet street close to the spaceport. William and Max wait while Arvor, Grim and Taeva carefully head forwards towards the perimeter of the port. Grim and Arvor take position where they can keep an eye on the two closest guard towers to the communications building.
After five minutes Taeva hears Grim’s voice in her earpiece.
Ten seconds later, she hears Arvor as well.
Without hesitation, she flicks the control on the gravbelt and heads over the fence heading for the building. Reaching it, she cuts power and crouches down as search lights sweep over the building.
Grim and Arvor give her the all clear again and she sets to work, taking the three charges that Grim had carefully prepared for her and places them around the main power supply to the array. The layout is a little different to the one that she was expecting, but by placing the three charges around the array, she’s confident that they should do the job.
She whispers to Grim and Arvor that she is ready and then waits a couple of minutes before they tell her the coast is clear.
As she passes back over the fence, one of the guards sees a shadow and squints into the darkness. Taeva is quick though and has disappeared into the darkness before he’s able to figure out what it was. Grim sees the guard just shrug and carry on.
They get back to the vehicles. William drives Grim back to the warehouse while Max drives Taeva and Grim back to the hotel. He then drives back to the place where he rented the grav/belt from before returning to the Miramar to meet with the others.
It’s 3.00am now and so the three of them have time to kill before it’s time to take on the guards.
At 5.45am, half of the stevedores are asleep, so Jie shouts out to them.
“OK, everybody. Time to load up and head out.”
The stevedores load their gear onto the three pickups and assume their positions as Jie and Grim check that they have everything with them and then head out into the pickups with their troops. The stevedores don’t say a word on the short journey to the fringe of the starport, although the fresh air of Avastan as the sun starts to rise feels sweet after the best part of a week cooped up in the warehouse.
Back at the hotel, Arvor can’t help but check his watch every twenty seconds as Max paces the room, chain-smoking.
“OK, it’s time,” he says.
The three of them head for the lift and don’t say a word as they take the lift up to the ninth floor. The doors open. Max stays there with his foot in the door to stop it leaving while Arvor and Taeva check their weapons for the last time, then peep around the corner. The two unsuspecting guards are slumped against the wall, chatting with one another.
Taeva and Arvor round the corner simultaneously and open fire. In less than a second, both of the guards are down. While Taeva binds the pair of them securely, Arvor searches them for a keycard, finding it easily in one of the guard’s pockets. They open the door and Arvor creeps in while Taeva drags the two unconscious guards in.
O’Neill is fast asleep. Arvor shakes him and the Captain comes too with a start, looking up at Arvor through bleary eyes:
“Wh-who? Wh-what?” the Captain moans.
“We’re with Grisst,” Arvor says. “We’re here to rescue you and the Falcon. No hurry, we don’t have much time.”
The Captain seems confused – it would appear that the guards have been sedating him. He stumbles around getting dressed while Arvor hurries him along. Eventually he is ready to leave. Taeva checks that the bonds on the guards are secured and then closes the door behind them.
Max is still waiting for them in the lift, smoking again; the lift door pinging as it tries to close despite his foot in the way.
Half dragging O’Neill into the lift, Max clicks on the button down to ground level and everyone checks their weapons.
The doors open and the three of them walk into the nearly empty lobby. The guards down here are more alert than their colleagues upstairs. Taeva quickly drops one of them, but the other dives away as Arvor aims with the stun carbine. The receptionist also manages to leap behind the counter as Max tries unsuccessfully to bring him down. The remaining guard catches her with a volley of his assault rifle as he pops up from cover, hitting Taeva in the chest. She winces with the pain, but gets some quick revenge as she takes him down.
Max still isn’t having any luck with the receptionist who is screaming into a radio and so Arvor has to help him out, dropping him with the stun carbine.
While Taeva and Arvor secure everyone, Max pops his head through the door, to be greeted by a hail of fire from behind a pickup in the car park.
“We’ve got company,” he says.
Taeva and Arvor come up to give him a hand and O’Neill lends a hand as well with the gauss pistol that Arvor lent him. Max and O’Neill are pretty useless, but Taeva and Arvor manage to take the two guards out without injury.
Max leaps into the pickup, with Taeva and Arvor following him.
There is the sound of sirens in the background and so Max puts his foot down. Taeva and Arvor are in the back. As the pickup bounces along the pothole strewn roads of Avastan, Arvor gives Taeva a shot of adrenalin and slaps a bandage on the wound.
Max calls into the mouthpiece of his commo:
“Job done here,” he says. “Go Grim and Will.”
Will and Grim leave Jie to look after the stevedores as they stroll towards the maintenance yards, enjoying the warmth as the sun rises. As usual they are stopped at the gates and frisked for weapons. Fortunately their body pistols are not found and the guards wave them through in the direction of the Grisst Falcon. The same ten guards as were there before are still in or around the Falcon. A couple of them open up for the visitors, check the papers and agree to let them on.
Grim says that he wants to check that the engines work and so he will need the fusion plug. One of the guards barks some orders to some of the others and, five minutes later, they return carrying the plug. Grim and Will hope that the guards will leave them, but two of them stay to keep an eye on the pair of them.
Grim gives the nod to Will and the pair of them and, as one, they draw their body pistols and turn on the guards.
“Hands up in the air, both of you,’ Grim growls.
One of them does, but the other decides to try his luck. Grim shoots with his body pistol but the weapon only slightly injured the guard Will tries to shoot too, but shooting is not his strong point and he misses. The guard’s retribution is swift, and he fires at Grim with a full blast, which brings the engineer down immediately.
“GRIM’S DOWN, GRIM’S DOWN,” Will shouts into the commo as he dives for cover, narrowly avoiding a volley from the other guard.
Upon hearing Will’s call, Max pus his foot on the gas and leads the convoy of four pickups towards the entrance to the maintenance yards while Jie, Miguel and four of the stevedores hang on for dear life.
As he throws a hard left, aiming at the entrance, Taeva hits the button of her detonator, setting off the explosives on the commo array.
“Brace yerselves, everybody,” Max says as he aims at the barrier.
A split-second later and there is a sickening crunch as the pickup hits the barrier, stopping the truck in its tracks. Max’s suffers some serious whiplash and a bang to the head from the impact and the others in the back are all thrown to the ground.
“FACK!” Max cries.
Arvor tells the driver of the second truck to pass. Despite the damage to his truck, Max manages to dislodge the barrier as Arvor’s vehicle easily crashes through the debris and continues into the starport. The shocked guards are coming to their senses now as the convoy comes through the gate.
Max tries to restart the pickup, but there’s steam coming from the radiator.
“IT’S FACKED,” he cries. "Truck four – stop and wait for us!’ he shouts and the truck in front slams on the brakes.
Trucks two and three continue on to the Falcon’s dock at full speed though. Taeva and Arvor, plus the stevedores spray the to guard towers with a hail of bullets as they pass them by, easily managing to put them both out of action.
Back inside the engine room of the Falcon, Will desperately tries to keep three guards at bay. The guards seem to have self-preservation at the front of their minds as they keep to cover. Shots and spent casings ring around the engine room, but no one’s causing any damage to their opponents.
Back at the gate, Jie fries one of the guards with her laser carbine as she shouts for the stevedores to abandon the first truck and leap in the second. The stevedores on the rescue truck give covering fire as best as they can, but they are pretty rubbish. The stevedores rushing for the truck are easy targets for the LMG in the tower and two of the stevedores are quickly dropped.
Meanwhile, trucks two and three are at the entrance to the dock now. Arvor, Taeva and the stevedores pile out of the trucks and open fire on the guards milling around inside, taking most of them out. Taeva sneaks around the side as the stevedores finish off the last guard out in the open and clamber over the low wall.
Back and the gate, Jie fries another guard while the stevedores take out a few more. Two of the stevedores go back to rescue their fallen comrades, but are gunned down by the LMG as they go out. The truck is getting raked with fire as well. Jie takes out a third, as Miguel finally brings down the LMG gunner in the tower. But one of the guards in the guardhouse shoots a volley into the truck’s engine, which splutters to a halt. The driver cries out – it’s going to be a long run for the survivors now. Jie manages to finish off the last of the guards here and sets off for the dock, with Max and Miguel running after her while the remaining stevedores drag their comrades behind them.
Although the stevedores have proven themselves to be rubbish in combat, they are very well trained in lifting immobile objects though and so they make pretty good progress.
Back in the engine room, Will’s luck is starting to run out as he takes a bullet, followed a few seconds later by another. Knowing that he can’t take much more of this, he surrenders. The three guards allow him to attend to Grim’s wounds and he finally regains consciousness.
At the ramp to the Falcon, one of the guards takes down a stevedore as he climbs over the wall, but Taeva quickly drops him in response. Arvor leads the group onto the ship, but there are two more guards waiting for him, one of who catches him in the chest. Taeva has his back though and drops him, with Arvor taking the second. The ship is now clear and so everyone runs on.
They head for the engine room, where the two remaining guards are still covering Grim and Will. Taeva shouts at the guards to surrender. Now aware of how out-numbered they are, the two guards decide that this is their best option and throw their hands up in the air.
While Taeva secures the captives, Grim hobbles to the M-drive and starts to fit the fusion plug. Arvor tells O’Neill to get on the bridge and prepare for a quick departure. The Captain is still sluggish, but starts to go through the launch sequence.
Jie, Max and Miguel meet up with the others after running across the starport. As they scramble towards it though, they see that a truck with more guards has pulled up delivering a section of guards who have the stumbling stevedores in their sights.
Arvor and Jie aren’t going to leave the stevedores behind and so they open fire on the guards, taking several of them out. Arvor takes a pretty horrific hit from one of the guards, but fights on as Jie continues to fry guards next to him.
There’s just one guard left now hiding behind the truck. Arvor launches a RAM grenade at it through and it’s toast.
Now the coast is clear, the other stevedores run from the ship in order to help the wounded onto the ship.
William has managed to patch up the worst of the injured now.
Grim flicks a switch and the lights inside the ship glow brightly as the main power plant whines into life. O’Neill is sat in the pilot’s seat, but still seems to be zonked out on sedatives. Will rushes to the seat and shoos him away.
A G-Carrier flies past and rakes the ship with Plasma-A fire, scorching the paintwork. Jie quickly raises the cargo ramp as she sees the G-Carrier come to a hover in front of it and she just has it closed before it sprays the ship with plasma once more.
Will pulls back on the throttle and the Grisst Falcon gracefully takes to the air. Jie heads for the port turret and zaps the G-Carrier as the Far Trader pulls up and traverses the starport, heading for the warehouses on the opposite side.
Will lands the ship in front of the doors and lowers the ramp so that Miguel and the 12 remaining ablebodied stevedores can start to load the ship. Max goes with them to oversee the loading.
“Take the aluminum first,” he shouts to them. “If we ’ave to leave something, better to leave the nobble leather.”
Arvor heads to the starboard turret. Taeva drags the four most badly injured of the stevedores into the ship’s low berths, knowing that they will be better off there where they can receive medical attention when they reach Collace.
From the turrets, Jie and Arvor can see guards running around like headless chickens, not knowing quite what to do. It seems as if most of the guards don’t want to take the risk.
After half an hour, the guards launch a counterattack, sending three G-Carriers towards the ship. Arvor blasts one of them out of the sky though and the other two drivers lose their nerve and pull back.
After an hour, the cargo bay is pretty full and the stevedores are trying to stack the crates better in order to fit the last of the load on.
They are interrupted by a scorching red light that just misses the ship and gouges a trench in front of it. Jie can see that a Type-S docked at the passenger terminal is fighting back.
The party members all realize that it’s time to go now.
“Alright,” Max agrees. “We’ve saved the aluminum anyway – that’s the valuable stuff.”
Everyone scrambles on board as the ship shudders from the impact of another beam. Fortunately, the ship’s crystaliron exterior absorbed all of the damage.
As soon as Max tells him that everyone is onboard, William fires the thrusters once more and the Falcon rises from the starport. Jie tries to get a shot off at the Type-S, but the angle is bad and she misses.
As soon as he is above the warehouse, Will banks the ship to the left and the Falcon skims over the passenger terminal and over Avastan city below, flagrantly ignoring the no-fly zone. Workers in the tower blocks of downtown Avastan have a shock as they look out of the windows to see a 200-ton Far Trader heading straight towards them before Will pulls up at the last second.
Ahead of him now is open water of Avastan’s largest sea. He loses height until he is skimming the surface of the sea, further still and he sends up hue waves of spray as he opens the fuel intakes.
Inside the engineering bay, Grim grimaces as he watches the fuel gauge moving, the purification plant groaning as it separates the seawater into gases, spitting out the elements that it doesn’t need.
Ten minutes later and Grim calls over the Tannoy. “OK, she’s full.”
Will pulls back on the controls and the Falcon leaves the green/blue sea in its wake as it heads straight up. Twenty minutes later and the ship breaks through the blueness of Avastan’s sky into the blackness beyond.
Arvor comes through from the turret and sits in front of the sensors. Grim continues to work in the engine room, seeing what he can do to try and ease any more fractions of G’s of thrust out of the M-Drive and keeping it cool as Will continues to burn them at full thrust.
“We’ve got company,” Arvor says as a blip appears on the sensor screen rising up from Avastan half an hour later.
He enhances the images.
“Looks like it’s that Type-S again.”
“No way we can outrun it,” Will says. “She’s not built for speed. She’s a truck.”
Arvor hits the klaxon for battle stations and everyone returns to their posts; him and Jie taking their seats in the turrets. Taeva organizes the stevedores into a damage control crew. Max heads for the hold, wanting to keep an eye on his precious cargo, while Grim continue to nurse the drives.
A shot from the Type-S fires into the blackness just behind the Falcon and Will picks up a missile launch.
Jie and Arvor return fire, raking the Type-S with laser fire and each launching a missile, but still the Type-S continues onwards.
The Falcon shudders as it is hit by laser fire vaporizing some of its armor and a section of the hull, but it doesn’t hole it. Then Jie manages to hit the Scout’s turret, putting it out of action while Arvor takes care of the missile that’s heading their way.
Defenseless now, the Type-S knows that it is beat and so reverses thrust as the _Falcon_continues on its way. Knowing that the Scout is not going to be causing them any problems any more, they leave it be and continue towards jump distance as fast as the Trader will go.
Which unfortunately is not very fast.
Arvor returns to the bridge to monitor the sensors, but it seems as if they don’t have anything else to throw at the ship though. Radio transmissions have started up again, however – they obviously managed to fix the relay, finally. As expected, they are hailing the Gazelle. Hopefully it is too far away though to reach the Falcon before she gets to jump distance.
“Oh bollocks!” everyone hears Max’s voice call over the commos. “There’s facking nothing in the galley!”
He heads to the ship’s locker and breathes a small sigh of relief. “Looks like we’re all going to be living on protein paste and water for the next week and a bit by the look of it.”
As the adrenalin wears off now that the ship is out of any imminent danger, there are groans all round as the pain starts to return. None of the party members managed to get through the assault completely unscathed.
O’Neill is a little more together now and takes the pilot seat while William starts to see to the wounded once more, starting with himself. Upon entering the medic bay, he sees that there is practically nothing in there of use. It would appear that anything not bolted down has been taken out. Fortunately he had the foresight to order the extra field kits so is still able to dress everyone’s wounds.
As the others go through the ship, the others discover that it’s not just the med bay that has been plundered. Pretty much every other valuable item that should have been on the ship has been looted already making double occupancy of the staterooms even less present a prospect than it was already. The only exception is the holoprojector in the common room which still has a harddrive full of movies, presumably for the entertainment of the guards.
The party member spend the rest of the day settling in to what will be their new home for the next week as best they can and getting some well needed rest after the long night and morning.