There are a few sore heads as everyone assembles for breakfast. Max is the last to arrive, looking rough and a little bit guilty.
“I dunno what ’appened last night,” he says. “One minute I can remember dancin’ in the disco, an’ next thing I remember was waking up wiv this ghost troll wiv breasts in my bed.”
As breakfast continues, the party members’ conversation turns to more practical matters, starting with the matter of vehicles.
“If we get a second vehicle, I think we should get a covered grav vehicle with sealed environment,” Arvor comments. “Of course this would all have to wait until we get to a decent TL planet – including off-loading the fighter. Most likely they will have no use for it here.”
“Hey, let’s not forget the Panther’s hulk floating out there,” says Will. “Given the tech level of Noctocol there may not be a wrecker and it may not be profitable for us to hire a wrecker to recover the Panther in any case, but we may be able to sell the location to someone.”
“You smashed it up so good that there ain’t a lot left to salvage,” Max comments. “Most of the money in ships is tied up in the drives and power plant – and they were all taken out. I reckon the only thing worth taking would be the computer.”
“There’s obviously no wreckers in this system, so someone would have to jump in to take it. It would be hard to prove to anyone that it’s here and what they would get.”
Max shakes his head.
“No, if we want to salvage it, then I reckon we’d need to do it ourselves. If we’re heading back to Collace after we’ve finished the Talchek job, then we can pick it up on our way back. We can pick up them pheromones as well while we’re at it.”
“As far as vehicles go,” Will adds, “I like Arvor’s idea. Years of bouncing around the field in ground vehicles can give you hemorrhoids! Of course, they cost a lot more… Is there any value in a wheeled ATV and some sort of lifter trailer that we can use to haul cargo? That might be a multi-purpose acquisition. What about cargo loaders, like forklifts or walkers? Would we benefit from a less fun but more business-oriented purchase? If only there were an omniscient overlord to advise on these things…Max, whadda’ you think? This isn’t the place to buy anything of course but no harm in looking ahead. Of course, bigger vehicles mean less cargo…”
“I like Arvor’s idea for the grav/van too,” says Max. “It’s a pain us not all fitting in one air/raft. I think anything else would just be cluttering up the cargo bay and will cost us money. Most of the heavy lifting is done at the starport anyway.”
Grim adds another vote for getting an armored grav/van as soon as they get back to Collace or some other high-tech planet.
“Also, any chance we can replenish our missile supply here?" Will asks. "Maybe one of the other ships can spare a few?”
“No chance of getting anything at all here,” Max replies. “We should be able to restock them at Elixabeth though. There’s an Imperial Naval Base there it should be safe enough to get there.”
“We might also want to create a “holding pen” for dangerous animals / captives in the hold,” suggests Arvor. “It could be a plasteel framed cage along a wall with pens about 2 m x 1.5 m x 1.5 m tall, stacked two high. When not in use, some cargo could be carried in it – essentially as a racking system for pallet loads until the individual front panels are locked on.”
“Sounds alright to me,” agrees Max. “All I would suggest is that it’s just slightly larger than a 10-ton container so that we can slot it in there most of the time. That way we’re not going to lose any space. Does it have to be plasteel? If it can be from normal steel then I should be able to pick some up in this shithole and Grim can knock one up while we’re in jump. Otherwise it will have to wait until we’re back on Collace or some other hi-tech planet.”
“Sounds good to me,” agrees Grim.
“Hey, crew,” queries Will after a pause. “What’s the point of keeping the other four pirates? Obviously the Noctocol gov’t couldn’t care less about pirates and, this not being Imperial space, the Imperium has no legal rights to prosecute (except maybe under some tenuous “Law of the Space Lanes” claim). Does Collace care this far away? Maybe we should just give them a filter mask and make bets on whether they can survive the run to the emergency shelter door at the side of the landing pad.”
“Maybe we should just upgrade some of the students and put the pirates in the deep freeze,” suggests Taeva.
“That’s a great idea Taeva,” says Will. “It could be good business to spend life support on paying passengers rather than pirates. It might help fill staterooms out of Elixabeth.”
After a pause though, Will reconsiders the options.
“But do we think the remaining pirates have enough financial value to carry them further? Who’s going to prosecute, let alone pay us for them? Let’s consider cutting them loose.”
“Cutting ’em loose is fine with me.” says Grim.
“Two staterooms to Elixabeth from here are worth 24k,” Max says. “So my vote is to see if we can sell the staterooms. If we can, let’s dump them. If not, then let’s take them to the Naval Base on Elixabeth and turn them in there.”
Breakfast is over and it’s time for everyone to get back to work. Max stays in the hab to look for cargo and some steel bars, and Autumn stays at the hotel as well in order to start looking for passengers and to buy some more provisions to replace the food that was eaten by the pirates. All the others head back to the ship. Grim brings Gus along with him as he is still keen to help him with repairs.
Back on the ship, Jie is getting bored watching over the prisoners and so Taeva takes over from her. Jie offers to give Grim a hand with the repairs too.
An hour later Grim, who is holding out his left foot (or at least the bloody remains of it), says:
“I know you had good intentions girl, but Jan and I can carry on the repairs from now on.”
William is on his knees viewing the proffered pedal member with a medical air of interest. Medi-Pack besides him.
“I didn’t know that a Gravidic Wrench would drop that fast and that hard,” Jie says as she looks at Grim’s foot with tears welling up in her eyes. “I’ve never heard anyone scream that loud. I’m Sorry.”
“And I’ve never seen a foot twisted around backwards like this before… very interesting,” Will says as he prepares the First Aid kit for emergency Tarsal Re-Torqueing. Jan and Jie look on as the Captain screws a motor powered clamp to Grim’s foot, then attaches a long steel rod to the clamp for leverage.
“Hey Will! I just got an idea! How about later, you and I grab Ms. Jasya Sunstein and her Holo-vid equipment and we all go out to view one of the volcanoes erupting under the toxic cloud layer. She would love the scene and you can do some narrative in the background. This will stretch our legs and get me out of our Chief Engineers hair for a while.” Jie says as she pats Grims’ shoulder lightly.
Will stands bolt upright letting the heavy equipment laden foot drop to the deck plates with a ka-thud. “That would be wonderful! Capitol idea, Jie!” he says.
“YOU SON OF A (censored_)!! MY FOOT (censored_) (censored_) (_censored) YOU WITH A (censored) MONKEY!!!” Grim begins screaming while trying to lift his foot.
Will, Jie and Jan hurriedly pick up Grim’s banged up foot. “Well, at least no nerve damage…”
“If only we could do something about that potty mouth,” Will adds.
Practicality having set in once again, Will says, “We may have to delay our field trip until either Max or Autumn are available to chauffeur us out there. They’re both a bit busy today.”
He pats Grim’s bandaged hoof, “There you go my boy. No need for the rectal probe after all.”
Without Jie’s ‘help’. Grim and Jan make some pretty good progress on repairing the damage.
“Another good day’s work tomorrow and I think we’ll have her fixed her up pretty good,” says Jan.
Arvor takes the night shift guarding the prisoners while the others head back to the hab, where they meet up with Max and Autumn to find out how they got on looking for cargo and passengers.
“I’ve managed to find one high passenger and two middle passengers,” reports Autumn. “Additional food will be delivered tomorrow.”
“Well that’s signed the pirates’ death warrants,” Max says. “Those staterooms are worth 18k to us.”
“I managed to pick up 10 tons of petrol engines for ground cars,” Max says. “Nothing too exciting – they’re worth 100k and I got them from 85k. They should go OK on a non-industrial world like Elixabeth though.”
After partying last night, no one is too keen on repeating the activities and so everyone has an early night.