Following the destruction of the Viper, the Queen receives a hail from the cargo hauler accompanying them. Apparently they’re a little unsettled by the idea of being associated with the destruction of a Phorlorn vessel. After considerable negotiation, they agree to complete the contract as long as Joe makes a personal appearance at their shop on Carthane.
They decide to establish a base camp at the site of the node they uncovered in the desert. The crew spend the next several weeks unloading the unobtanium and related equipment from the ships onto the planet. Toffee works feverishly to get everything assembled and has the refining equipment ready to go 15 minutes after the final piece is delivered.
The work site is visited by a group of natives. Arek talks them down and welcomes them to the camp. Their leader issues a “friendly” challenge which is happily taken up by Joe and Thadius (and somewhat less enthusiastically by Toffee). Joe humiliates his opponent, earning the grudging respect of the tribe.
A few days later, the camp is attacked by a group of Phorlorn Special Forces. Joe and Thadius are both wounded, but the overconfident Phorlornese soldiers are quickly defeated. Joe proves to be a vicious interrogator but Tad cuts the interrogation short with a burst of gunfire. The only information he gains is that 2 platoons of marines are on their way.
The crew are torn: should they abandon the camp and their newfound allies or should they stand and fight against overwhelming odds?