It’s 3.00am when the alarm sounds to say that the Grisst Falcon has safely emerged from hyperspace. O’Neill is on the bridge and so William is able to stay in bed, although Jie is needed to plot a course to the highport.
By 9.00am, everyone is awake and watching their approach to Collace on the viewscreen patched through to the holovid in the common room with a mixture of relief for the party members and excitement for the stevedores.
William takes over the controls to guide the ship into one of the bays at the highport and the ship safely docks.
“Fack customs for now,” Max says. “I need a good bleedin’ breakfast right bleedin’ now.”
The others are also pretty desperate to get off the ship as soon as possible as well and follow Max as he dashes through customs. Apart from scanning the party member’s papers as they dash through customs, the relaxed officials aren’t particularly bothered.
So the party members plus O’Neill and the stevedores head for the closest restaurant where Max orders a ‘Full Collacian’ breakfast for everyone. Boy, does it taste good after the protein paste. Once everyone has had seconds, they start to relax a little.
O’Neill uses his handcomp to check his mail. There is a message from Ana Pyriem waiting for him together with an authorization to withdraw funds from the Grisst Enterprises account to pay the party for their efforts and to reimburse them for expenses. For the next half hour, the others watch on bored as Max goes through all of the expenses with Max and they finally arrive at a figure that they are both happy with. O’Neill keys over the funds to Max who then divides the cash among the party members.
“We’re solvent again, guys an’ gals,” Max says. “We need to unload that aluminum though before we’re really rich.”
Once Max has settled the check, Arvor, Taeva and Grim head to their regular hotel on Collace (their regular one where they’re footing the bill anyway) while the others return to the ship, Jie shepherding the stevedores back. All of the stevedores wander through the streets of the massive highport as if in a dream, having never encountered anything like this before.
Once back at the ship, Max starts to take care of the customs formalities while Will and Jie go to the low-berths to awaken the injured. Fortunately, they all make it, but they are still in a pretty bad shape after the combat, their status having not changed during their week on ice William calls an ambulance for them. O’Neill agrees that Grisst will pay their expenses.
Jie then takes the others to a bank where she withdraws the remainder of the salary that they were all promised which she hands out to each of them. She then wishes them all the best and leaves them to their new lives on Collace.
Once Taeva, Arvor and Grim have checked into the hotel, Grim makes a call to the Captain of the Fair Rosamund. He is relieved to find that the ship arrived four days earlier and the crew (and the party’s baggage) are still in port. Grim arranges for the baggage to be delivered later in the afternoon and agrees to meet up with the crew for a beer that evening.
The party members all meet up in the hotel bar at 18.00. Max looks disappointed.
“Seems like there’s a glut of aluminum on the market at the moment so I could only get 85% of normal ’olesale on it,” he says sadly. “I s’pose we could have waited a week to see if the market improves but, to be honest, I’m sick of the bloody stuff and just wanted to get shot of it. Been nothing but trouble that stuff. At least we got our money back on it and just about enough to cover the 10 tons of nobble leather we had to leave.”
He divides the proceeds equally. On top of the the chunk they got early from O’Neill, everyone is feeling pretty rich right now.
Once Max has finished dividing the cash, Arvor addresses everyone in hushed tones.
“The Baroness, who is my former boss from the Agency, wishes to meet with all of us to debrief us on the Pavabid mission at 10.00am tomorrow. Se goes to great lengths to hide her connections with the Agency and so the utmost discretion is required.”
“And everyone needs to dress in the Sunday best,” he adds, fixing his eyes on Jie and her dress which the average streetwalker would pass up for something a little more modest.
All are curious as to what the Baroness has to say (albeit a little reluctantly in Taeva’s case) and so everyone downs their drinks and then take an air/cab up to one of the upper levels of the highport where the more exclusive malls are located. The shop assistants are a little snooty as they see the motley assortment of characters traipsing through their elegant stores, but they get more enthusiastic once they realize that the scruffy people in front of them have plenty of cash to spend.
Upmarket clothes shopping on Collace is far from being a chore as holoprojectors display different outfits at the push of a button, without all that tiresome business of having to go into changing rooms, putting on and taking off one set of clothes after another. Immediately that a decision has been made, the robotailor in the back starts work and, in under half an hour, the made-to-measure clothes are ready. As a result, everyone is back at the hotel by 9.00pm, dropping their new purchases off in their rooms.
They then head off in the opposite direction – heading down the starport’s core to the lower areas which provide a more rough and ready entertainment. Here they find the crew of the Fair Rosamund waiting for them in the Silver Helm, as arranged by Grim.
Max gets the first round in as a thank you for their deploying the crybaby, as promised. The crew are keen to learn how the party members got on while they were there and are delighted to hear of the party’s success and how they tore up the starport as they have no love at all of Avastan. The crew buy more drinks and toast the party members good health.
The party members and the Fair Rosamund crew down drinks as fast as the bargirl can bring them over, as the party members feel like celebrating after living on protein paste and distilled water for so long.
As everyone gets more drunk and relaxed, the crew of the Fair Rosamund open up a little. They reveal that their ship is not standard A2 – it’s ex-Imperial Naval Reserve, pensioned off after the Fourth Frontier War with hidden turrets and a J-3 drive. With the reduced interior space, the crew do a fair bit of business smuggling contraband (which is what they were doing in a dump like Avastan) and take on some of the riskier routes which most Traders are unwilling to take. Max listens intently about their commercial activities for future reference, while the others swap tales of their dangerous exploits.
They carry on drinking together until 2.00am until Arvor reminds them of the meeting in the morning and so they shouldn’t get too wasted. Somewhat reluctantly, they bid their new friends farewell and head back to the hotel.