Finally the day comes when it is time to depart Noctocol.
To the relief of all of the staff, everyone checks out of the Offworlder’s Hotel after breakfast and head to the starport (or what passes for a starport here). Here everyone says their farewells to Miranda and The Connoisseur. Miranda is quite tearful as she says goodbye, having practically become an eighth crew member of the Princess during the nearly four months that she has spent with the party members, but she is relieved to be finally returning home to Mertactor.
Taeva and Stian escort the Horkalites to the door of the Noctocol Conveyor to make sure that the Overbluff’s minions have not waited until the last minute to reap their revenge. Taeva also has a word with the purser of the ship to check that they don’t have any suspicious looking characters booked onto the ship. They all seem to be just regular passengers, however.
Meanwhile, the rest of the crew are preparing the Princess for departure. With Taeva and Stian occupied with the Horkalites, it falls to Jie and Max to check and load the cargo, donning their heavy duty vacc suits for the purpose of loading. Both are a little nervous of handling the radioactive isotopes, but the geiger counter built into Jie’s vacc suit are only picking up trace elements of radioactivity coming from the cargo as it is very well sealed. It takes a while for them to check through the rest of the cargo and they are still in the middle of it when Taeva and Stian return in order to give them a hand.
Autumn, meanwhile is onboard greeting the passengers and showing them to their berths. The low passengers arrive first. Four of them are travelling together – blue collar workers from Flexos who are returning home after the end of their contract to maintain the life support systems on Noctocol. Next is a rather rough and ready looking character who checks in a fair few firearms. Autumn asks him to wait until Taeva is finished with the cargo loading as she doesn’t want to take responsibility for checking him for hidden weapons, even though he should be of little danger to the ship once he is safely in the fridge.
The last of the low passengers turns out to be a Professor of Botany from the University of Tirem who is en route to Flexos to research the native flora of Flexos. It is with great reluctance that Will puts him into the fridge, thinking that he could be a more interesting dinner companion than most of the passengers that the ship sees.
The four on cargo loading duty finish with their chores, finding everything to be present and correct. The hold of the Princess is practically bursting at the seams now. Taeva programs the robodog and sets it lose in their before the entire area is locked down.
Once changed into their dress uniforms, Jie heads to assist Will on the bridge while Taeva checks over the character with the weapons that made Autumn a little nervous. He hands over all of his weapons without a problem and grins that he wouldn’t mind at all if Taeva gave him a strip search. Ten minutes later and he is safely stowed away in his low berth.
The two high and two mid passengers arrive together as they are travelling in a group. They turn out to be Baronet and Mrs. Bartholomew hault-Wurzburg who are travelling together with their butler and maidservant. Autumn is pleased that they have brought their own staff with them – less running around looking after them for her to do.
She shows them to their staterooms and then closes the door as Will and Jie go through the final steps of their pre-flight checks.
At precisely 14.00, the Princess blasts off, with everyone relieved to be finally heading away from Noctocol.
The remainder of the afternoon is spent heading for jump diameter, finally reaching it at 19.30 when the A2 slips safely into hyperspace.
Shortly after this, dinner is served – not up to Miranda’s high standards, but Autumn’s culinary skills have definitely improved dramatically while she was under her tutelage.
The party members spend dinner chatting with the Baronet and his wife. He seems a fairly amiable type, although suffers from the same arrogance and superiority complex that are the norm among most members of the Imperial Nobility. During the conversation, the party members discover that he is moving to Flexos in order to head up the Imperial Diplomatic Mission there. Once he discovers that all of the crew are Impies or have strong Imperial connections, he is quite open about the task ahead of him. He tells the party members that, according to the reports of the incumbent Imperial Ambassador, Baronet Bartholomew has quite a task on his hands. Flexos’s Chief Executive, Zos Nyaderemond, is quite a wily character who is playing off several interested parties including the Imperium,the Darrians and the TTC, together with commercial interests both above and below board against one another in order to attract the maximum benefits for the world. The current Ambassador (who Bartholomew describes as a typical upper-class clown who only got the position because of his title and connection) has admitted that he is out of his depth in the on-going negotiations for attracting Flexos into the Imperium which is why Bartholomew, who seems to be an experienced career diplomat, has been reassigned in order to try and get the discussions back on course.
The conversations last through until late in the evening when everyone decides to call it a night and head to their staterooms.