In the meantime, of course, they are still locked
inside the dome at the starport. They discuss the situation; they'd
like to proceed to the Imperium, which they can do without a starmap, but
they would have to get out of the dome first.
Options to get out are then considered. Mich Saginaw suggests they just jump from here, but the crew -- including Helia Sarina, in her capacity as astrogator -- think that's far too dangerous. Teri Cralla, somewhat familiar with Hinay Protectorate military strength, says they probably can't outrun all the ships in the local navy. Robert Morris says he could open the dome easily if they had a computer connection, but they have no access from inside here. The ship's laser could be used to burn their way out, but it would take too long to burn through -- they'd be waiting on the other side. They could use a missile, but the blast would be sure to damage the ship as well.
Misha Ravanos gives the whole crew half an hour to come up with other options....
Very few other alternatives come up. Teri suggests that they accept the offer, and when the officers come into the dome, they fight their way out and if they can get Robert computer access fast enough they can open the dome and leave. There are access doors inside the dome that Ed "Shark" Teeth thinks could be picked.
Marquis Marc summarizes the options. Basically
they can jump, fight, or pay. Jumping is considered too dangerous,
especially considering the state of the engines. Fighting is dangerous
too, as this is not a military craft and can't hold its own in battle.
That leaves paying.
The Baron tells them about the money here. The Hinay Protectorate uses dollars, which hold an exchange rate of about $1.8 to the Imperial Credit. Robert thinks about paying them in local currency, but it would be far too suspicious.
The final consensus is that they will pay the full 80kCr.
But how to attract their attention? The first plan, as suggested by Misha, is that they fly the ship around inside the dome. Since the Third Eye is only 600t, and the dome is big enough for a 2000t ship, that isn't much of a problem. Helia starts out by just picking the ship up, wobbling a bit, turning it around and setting it back down. She then takes it up to the top of the dome, back down to the ground, and then starts doing laps of the dome. At this point Misha says that's enough, and Helia settles the ship back down.
After about five minutes, someone comes out of the door and approaches the ship. Misha meets him, and tells him he wants to speak to Colonel Draynord. The officer says he'll be over in a couple of hours, and ignores Misha's demand that he speak to him right now. The officer turns his back and leaves.
Misha then turns to more drastic ways of getting
attention. He asks Mich to unpack a missile, and set it up outside
the ship. Then he's to build a complicated mechanism around it --
it needn't do anything, just look like it might do something. Mich
Mich plans to set it up with a sensor so the grav cart carrying the missile will turn around and point at anyone in the dome.
While he's working on it, the air starts emptying from the dome. Mich immediately heads for the ship -- but doesn't make it, collapsing just five meters or so short of his goal.
Misha rushes out to retrieve him, but when he pick him up he too collapses.
As soon as she had heard that there was a problem, Teri had suited up in battledress. She now reaches the door, and goes out to save her colleagues. She scoops them both up, jumps in and slams the emergency lock cycle.
Bridgehead is ready to provide medical assitance. Only Mich really needs it, and he'll be in Sick Bay for half an hour or so to recover.
The missile is still outside. Misha wants Helia
to go outside to fetch it, but she points out that she is much smaller
than everyone else, and that it makes no sense for her to go.
Finally it's decided that Misha, Ed, Teri, and Helia are to go out. Teri will guard, while Misha and Ed pick up the missile, and Helia directs the operation.
Helia takes a stack of blueprint paper and a powerful laser pointer. She will look important, doing important things.
Before they can leave the ship, however, pressure starts to rise in the dome. Eventually it fills with air under normal pressure.
An officer -- yet another different one -- approaches
the ship. He tells Misha that the Colonel will be there is about
an hour. He also says that they will not tolerate any more foolishness,
and that they need to take that "thing" back inside, and keep their ship
here; otherwise they will take action, such as disabling their ship.
He again tells them that the Colonel will be here in an hour, and turns
Misha says to the crew that they'll leave the missile out there. The then asks how they might disable the ship -- the only way Helia and Mich think they could do that is to shoot at it.
After half an hour or so, Mich is ready for duty
again. The GrandAm has patched him up very well indeed. He
has a bit of swelling in his hands, but is otherwise fine.
Just before the Colonel is due to arrive, Mich goes out and retrieves the missile. This time he uses a vacc suit, just in case they pull the same trick on him again.
The Colonel arrives as soon as the missile is inside.
He walks out with two armed guards, and is met by Misha with Teri guarding
Misha says they don't have 80,000Cr., they have 30,000Cr.
"Oh well," says the Colonel, and turns to leave.
Misha starts negotiating, and they agree on 40,000Cr for the Safe Passage and the map.
Misha hands over the money, and the Colonel hands over the map and the Safe Passage. The Colonel tells him that the dome will close in an hour; they are to stick to traffic lanes, and when asked for identification are to produce their Safe Passage.
The two parties separate and return.
On board, data for Foreven Sector is eagerly loaded
into the Third Eye's computer. The crew study it and overlay
their own collected information onto it. They are in Reidan subsector,
and as it turns out they are really close to the Imperium.
Teri points out where she's from: Sting / Sting, over in what used to be Scorpionis but is now the Tail Nations.
Helia looks for a route to Wonstar / Five Sisters / Spinward Marches. It's fairly straightforward, but somewhat long because of the red zones in the way.
It is decided to head to Wendas.
An hour after the Colonel left, the dome opens. Helia has been ready for this, and shoots through the gap as it opens. She flies the ship out to the jump point, and they engage the jump drive for Wendas.
There's no reason to spend much time here. There's not much to see, and the crew is anxious to get moving again.
The starport authorities are as friendly as the broadcasts
suggested. They suggest the local network for information about the
area, and Robert hooks into it gladly. Most of the business around
here seems to be tourism, mostly for Protectorate citizens.
There are no Imperial newsfeeds here, of course, but when Robert asks Teri about it, she tells him that she can help him hook into the Yonder Veterans Network system. The YVN apparently is similar to the TNS, but operates only here in Foreven sector.
The crew read the news items for the last several
years, to see what's been going on here...