Characters: Bruno, Harrison, Zeeko, Hum D'pot, Dr. Rylan Bishop
Hum D'pot has hired, with money, a capable crew for a starship. He ends the roster with two toughs from a criminal network, as all hired guns on Gangsong have been hired.
Crew meets with Kim Joon Seok, a criminal in a bind, looking to get out from under a contract with the Children of Terra, a scavenger fleet not known for its mercy towards usurers. Perhaps without full knowledge of the potential consequences, he agreed to take a fairly major lien against a starship of their make. They want double the list price for their vessel (nearly 1.8m cred) or an unknown number of hitherto unknown things. He doesn't have either, since his latest drug deal apparently went to the dogs. Hum D'pot, along with his crew of desperate interlopers, are running out of options, and a sweet starship is better than none, no matter the cost. They all want off this moon. Dr. Rylan Bishop agrees to join onto the contract along with Hum D'pot.
Kim fries the Exchange Notary droid, explaining that there was stolen goods on the ship, that if they could just get it off planet for them, he'd take it as a solid. He's staying on Gangsong, he just wants a clean slate. Bruno and Harrison don't buy it, the others leave to hail a gravsled. The brothers grim play some ominous ancient music from nearly 2.5k years ago and murder him. The contract will be in place in one Mandate Day, 20 hours from contract acceptance.
An Exchange Forward Surveillance Drone (FSD) scans the open window, oblivious to the looting civilians on the street. Harrison sees it, decides exiting another way is best. They roll up Kim in a carpet and run out the back, joining the looters in the street as if this dirty carpet were the thing they were after all along. Harrison hails the jilted lover of his former lover for a favor, since its the only person he knows around here, Nak Gothard. Nak isn't happy to hear from him, but seems eager to hold him to some kind of account. He'll help him if he'll take Nak and his two kids on this fabled starship, and get him the fuck out of here.
The rest of the crew sees a DEU-S-64 Exchange Enforcement Droid enter into the place of Kim's demise. They promptly get moving, and notify the other two. They get to the hanger holding their new, legally owned, starship. The Peripiteia. It seems to have most of the standard fittings other free merchant ships do, but damn does it look fast. Can a starship look fast? This looks fast. They can't get in initially, but do finally open the cargo bay. They can't start it, though. It seems tied to the contract changing ownership, they'll have to wait.
Knowing that a firefight might be imminent, along with his subsequent demise by laser, Bruno hops off the gravsled carrying Harrison, Nak, and his two children, and awaits the Exchange enforcement coterie. He is taken by the Exchange Enforcement droid, who oddly sports a short brimmed white woven hat, and is questioned. A laconic conversation ensues. He guides the Exchange robots to the hanger supposedly holding the Peripiteia. Harrison has loaded Nak and his family, along with their gravsled, onto the Peripiteia. He's taken off the stolen gravbike, along with the dead deal broker and his rug, and put it in the loading path.
Bruno brings the hat wearing enforcement droid to the ship, and the thing it values: the dead deal maker. The enforcer takes him, and leaves. The laws governing use of force don't seem to trouble it, unless it is related to Exchange mediated contracts. The crew has 15 hours remaining before the ownership transfers, and they can hopefully make their starship move.
Harrison calls Anibal Gear, the woman who used to own the gravbike. He asks her for clarification, and he gets it.