"Oh no! It can't possibly be Gavia" they all said!
Firstly, I just love the way that Sedna is putting Ardent's 'elegant tail' to unexpected use as an emergency tow rope. I also wonder if Alice will need to punch out Gavia's lights before she compromises her pressure suit. However, most of all, I'm wondering if Gavia is 100% in control of what is happening or whether she's been the Night Walker's meat puppet since the moment it grabbed her in Sedna's house!
Is Pate the target here or is it the Praeses?
I've thought that this whole thing has been set up by the Praeses, who want/need Alice and Sedna (and possibly even Church) in orbit with them. Did you think it was a coincidence that Alice and friends got to the archaeophile community just after they had uncovered a bunker that just happened to have a launch vehicle?
The Praeses sent Ardent down with his midas touch to force Alice into action and to give her a way to get off-planet in spite of the technology decay, and they sent Gavia down with a nanotech payload that would provoke the Night Walker into doing whatever it did. Between Ardent's touch, Gavia's temper, and both of them being annoying idiots, there was no way that Alice could do nothing. And having been passive for so long, she would need the help of someone who would know where to get access to a transformable way into orbit, hence Sedna. Finally, Pate, being a sociopath, would not be able to resist the temptation to take control of the situation, and would bring Church with him.
The Praeses then needed a way to get Alice and friends out of the spaceship and into/onto the tree, so they re-enabled Gavia's nanotech and provoked her.
And now we're slowly going to find out what task they have in mind for Alice and her motley crew...