The crew rest, heal, and resupply for a few days back at the Downport. Finch sells off the salvage and scrap taken from the bandits for a tidy profit to Mada Xuan, a local scrap dealer. He receives a high security ‘hard credit’ chit for $2500 labeled ‘Bank of Madrid’ and the rest in standard credits. She exchanges the large grav sled for a set of military-grade sensor emitters.
Finch and Claudia manage to use the emitters to upgrade the Mafdet’s sensor array to military specifications. This allows the sensor array to perform targeting functions, and provides limited defensive capability via a long-range lidar emitter so powerful it can perform as a close-in-weapon at short range. It turns out to be a good compromise as it gives some weapons capability to the Mafdet without technically being a weapon.
The crew then meets the local mechanic, Otika Thoon, wife of the sheriff, who fixes Ranso and Claudia’s damaged armor and space suit. She also works out a process for making the fuel for Claudia’s chemical propellant rifle and gives Claudia a shopping list of chemicals to acquire.
Finch realizes he still has a message chip from the monk, Ojumba, that needs to be put into the interstellar mail system. Ojumba said he needed to contact more of his followers for additional funds and support. The crew boards the Mafdet and fly up to Port-aux-Paix station to inquire about getting the message sent out, and getting the chemicals Claudia needed for her rifle.
On arriving at the station, the crew meets Dockmaster Plinth, who offers to put the chip on the next transport out of the system to be uploaded to the interstellar mail network. He directs Claudia to the Refinery Operator, Hugo, who provides her with the gasses she needs to bring to Otika for the rifle ammunition.
After topping up their fuel tanks, Plinth asks if the Mafdet would be available for a priority cargo run out to a mining station in the asteroids. The crew agrees to take three tons of mining equipment out to one of the asteroid bases owned by the asteroid mining clans. The cargo is loaded and the crew heads out, Claudia plotting an unusual high-efficiency course using Tortuga’s two other moons, Inagua and Ambergris, for a slingshot boost.
As the Mafdet hurdles through space, Ranso notices on the sensors that a ship is tailing them at extreme range. After the gravity boost from Inagua, however, the Mafdet quickly outruns their pursuer. The ship cruises nearly two weeks and arrives at the asteroid station, known as the Pebble.
The crew lands in an internal pressurized bay and are greeted by a single asteroid miner, a woman named Alawn. While Alawn offloads the mining cargo, she asks if the crew would deliver a message to the Tortuga Downport mail system for her. Rence agrees and the two leave the cargo bay to get the message chip from another room.
After nearly an hour, Rence finally returns to the bay, commenting on how difficult it was to find the chip, all the while with a satisfied grin on his face. Muttering something about ‘space herpes’ the rest of the crew suggests the ship should get going and they prepare to head back to Port-aux-Paix.
En route back to Port-aux-Paix, Ranso notices a cluster of contacts ahead of the ship with the tactical sensor array. Claudia performs a hard burn to make sure the ship would not be in danger of a collision. As the Mafdet passes the unknown objects Ranso identifies them as some type of escape or boarding pod. One of the pods begins firing a laser at the Mafdet, but the ship is now traveling so fast relative to the pods that they are unable to score a hit. Claudia pulses the engines to create a plume of smoke behind the Mafdet in the shape of a rude gesture, and the Mafdet streaks away unharmed.
The crew arrives back at Port-aux-Paix with many questions, foremost of which being why they were tailed on the way out, and how the pods were able to try to ambush them on the return orbit. Paranoia mounts as the crew wonders who might have tipped off their would-be attackers as to their travel plans…