With Gale’s help, the crew of the Acorn continue to strip down the Rainbird. They stop just short of stripping out the actual sections of inner hull—deterred by the limited space of the airlock doors and the lack of a crane or reliable winch system. Colt tries to talk privately with some of his crewmates, but Gale always seems to be hovering nearby. As the group works, Gale mentions that he and his brother were given this salvage job by a man named Vargas back on Eavesdown.
Finally, after several hours of work, all that is left to salvage is Rainbird’s cockpit … and whatever lies behind the blast doors. The goods are split up between the two crews and each load their share of the haul back onto their respective ship. Since stripping the cockpit will effect the ship’s already fragile life support systems, everyone agrees that it would be best to do that last. Sebastian access the ship’s computer and closes the cargo bay doors. Even though the radiation level has significantly decreased, no one will be able to spend large amounts of time in the cargo bay—even in envirosuits.
Using one of the sets of envirosuits and magnetic boots found on the ship, Colt suits up and moves towards the first set of blast doors. Gale lets him borrow his radiation scanner. Sebastian manipulates the two sets of blast doors between the cargo bay and the machine shop to create a series of make-shift “airlocks” to help contain the radiation and to mitigate the effects of the ship trying to equalize the zero-g environment to that of the rest of the ship.
Colt slowly enters the cargo bay, struggling against the pull of his magnetic boots. Blood smears cover the the floor. There are two escape pod compartments, but inspection of the ship’s computer indicates that neither one has been jettisoned. Colt makes his way over to the wall of storage containers. The electronic panels indicate that the containers are locked and pressure sealed. Back in the cockpit, Sebastian begins hacking the ship’s computer to find them means to unlock them.
Once the compartments are unlocked, Colt starts opening them one by one. Each is filled with crates bearing the Alliance Medical Core seal. As Mad and Sebastian make off-handed comments to each other about Badger’s terms of their employment, they forget that Gale is standing close by. When he asks about Badger, both Mad and Sebastian clam up. Gale is visibily annoyed, but he does not push the topic, only commenting that “crossing him would be a bad business”.
It takes Colt over an hour to move all of the crates to the machine shop. Just as the final crate is deposited and Sebastian closes the blast door for the last time, Mo’s voice breaks in over the crew’s earpieces. Acorn’s proximity alert has gone off. An unknown ship is making its way directly for them—and its configuration does not match any ship in the shipboard database. Almost immediately, Gale receives a smiliar warning from his brother. Mo confirms Sebastian’s inquiry about the incoming ship’s radiation levels: there is a heavy vapor trail with high levels of radiation emanating from the craft.
In a flash, everyone is moving in a near-panic. Mad calls for everyone to get back on the ship as she runs immediately for Acorn’s cockpit. Sebastian struggles to disconnect his power cell from the Rainbird’s computer. Gale heads back to his own ship. Colt quickly turns off his magnetic boots and runs for the docking ring. As Mad yells at them to move faster, Sebastian manually disengages the docking mechanism as Colt assists. As soon as they are safely back onto the ship, Colt starts stripping out his contaminated envirosuit and Sebastian heads to the engine room.
The crew has left the medical supplies behind in the Rainbird’s machine shop.
Mad hits the ship’s comm and tells everyone to hold on tight. She pulls Acorn away from the Alliance ship in a series of hard maneuvers. Almost lazily, the approaching Reaver ship adjusts its course to intercept. Mad flies hard and fast, pulling Acorn out of the path of several incoming missles. However, no matter how adept her piloting, it quickly becomes obvious that the approaching ship is gaining. Mad tells Sebastian to go to hard burn.
With an extra burst of speed that shakes the strained engines of the twenty-year-old ship, Acorn leaves the Reaver ship far behind. Mad watches the ship’s monitors for some time, but it soon becomes clear that they have truly escaped. As the colony is nearby, the crew decides to head to Proxville (on St. Alban’s) for repairs. This will also give Colt a chance to touch base with his sister, Delilah. After Proxville, they will make a point of stopping at Ezra before heading out of the Rim so Sebstian can fulfill his dinner obligations to Marshall Esposito.
The crew stays docked for almost a week while Sebastian does repairs to the ship. Delilah graciously offers a place for the crew to stay. At one point, Colt takes his sister aside and talks to her about his concerns about her security firm’s possible ties to Rejovic. Delilah assures her brother that she is keeping an eye on things. Arrangements are made for hauling cargo and passengers to the Heinlein system, the crew always needing extra cash. After bidding a final goodbye to friends and family, Acorn lifts off into the black.