Mr Cain was clearly not in a talkative mood, so Relena left him to his own devices and prepared for their return to Aruhasi IX. She busied herself checking the passenger manifest - there were a total of twelve passengers registered, including Mr Cane, so the identity of the mysterious old man who vanished in a sparkle of pearlescent light was a mystery. He had not been recorded as ever boarding the ship.
Meanwhile on the Shark, Noumalia was suddently woken from a sleep. At first she could not work out why, but she discovered a small damp patch of fur above one eye. The substance was slightly sticky. After muttering something about Lance's alleged collection of draca porn, she started looking into it. Above her napping spot she found a small puddle of liquid. It was certainly not water condensation, nor was it one of the ship's normal hydraulic or cooling fluids. The puddle was very slowly shrinking, leaving a patch of discoloured metal where it had been.
She called on Unity, who took a sample back to the medlab. He was able to determine that it was definitely organic, but the combination of substances did not resemble any known parasite or contaminant. This mystery had to remain unsolved though, because they were arriving at the spaceport on Aruhasi IX.
The Shark, being a faster ship than the large freighter Ellen's Myth arrived first without incident. But when Relena arrived at the spaceport and transmitted their ident, the place went wild.
A crowd started to gather, and the news media also, to see the heroes who had rescued the passengers of the Myth from vicious pirates. Kelda immediately went into hiding, while Relena and Noumalia went to meet the crowds. The rescued passengers were already talking about their experiences to any who would listen - and there were quite a few of them.
Relena was approached by a reporter from Sandburg's Interstellar News, who requested an interview. She replied that it was possible only if it were short, as they needed to meet a deadline elsewhere. The reporter agreed.
The interview was very routine - he wanted mainly background information and the story of what went on. Relena gave her name and the names of the crew - except Kelda - and told him that they were heading out of the system when they came across the pirates, who had already boarded the Myth. The interview was interrupted, however, by a call from Mr Cane. He wanted to meet with Relena to deliver the cargo, and asked if she could meet him in ten minutes in the Morose Trader, a tavern a short distance away. She cut the interview short, but the reporter asked one last question - where were they going next? Relena replied by asking whether he knew where there was a planet that might want a cargo of fine wine, and he said that he'd have to do some research. Mr Cane called Relena again, and asked whether she could be there in five minutes. He sounded quite insistent, and when Relena said that she was more than five minutes away, he suggested that she run.
She and Noumalia made it to the Morose Trader, and took delivery of the briefcase. "Our business is concluded." There was a Man in an Immaculately Tailored Suit waiting in the bar, and when they left the bar, they saw another three suits approaching. They were not so interested in her, but instead went into the bar, from which came the sound of gunfire. Relena hurried everyone back to the Shark.
Crowds had continued to gather around the ship, and getting aboard was quite difficult, even with Noumalia attempting to create a psychic distraction. The Men in Immaculately Tailored Suits had gathered at the periphery of the crowd, but they appeared to be waiting for something. Finally all were aboard and the Shark was able to launch. They immediately made for a jump point outside the plane of the ecliptic where most of the traffic was. Another ship left the spaceport shortly after them - the registry showed that it belonged to Universal Pharmaceuticals. It was taking a similar route to them, but it did not appear to be following them, exactly.
Lance jumped into hyperspace on the preset route back to Velke.
Along the way, Relena decided to be curious about the briefcase and had it scanned. It appeared that it contained two small vials in a foam packing. It was not possible to determine what the vials contained. The briefcase was locked with a keypad and a thumbprint scanner, but both Noumalia and Kelda advised against trying to break it open.
About two-thirds of the way to Velke, the ship's proximity alarm went off. Lance immediately headed back to the bridge to drop out of hyperspace (the only alternative being a risky manouevre which might have resulted in the ship accellerating uncontrollably and ultimately dropping out a thousand years later and billions of parsecs away), but there was no object visible which could have caused the prox alarm to go off. Predictably, Mr Smith contacted them within minutes and set up a meeting in the cargo bay. Kelda immediately armoured up and hid while Relena and Noumalia went to the cargo bay to meet him.
He appeared by transporter, as before. The exchange was made - the briefcase for a quite large sum of money. Mr Smith advised that Mr Cane had been found dead on Aruhasi IX, and Relena did not appear surprised by this news. Mr Smith left the same way he had arrived. "Our business is concluded."
After logging a large payment to the salvager Etukla, they decided not to return for Velke, but instead to head for the Common Entente, an independent state within the borders of Guildspace, with an ultimate intention of heading towards the Zin-Shee Matriarchy.
Will they find the perfect cargo on Vitar? Will they ever be able to complete a delivery without everything going horribly wrong? Will they find out what kind of internecine Company politics they've managed to get themselves involved in? Stay tuned!