As is usual on departure day, the party members are up early as all know that they have a busy morning ahead of them.
Grim oversees the refuelling of the Princess and the recharging of the life support systems while Autumn makes an inventory of the supplies that she ordered which are now being delivered. Jie, Taeva and Arvor all help Max out with the cargo which starts to arrive by truck at 08.30. They’ve done this enough times now for it to be well-organized routine.
While Max checks fills in the paperwork and makes payment to the suppliers, Arvor and Taeva check each of the containers carefully. Once the three of them are happy that they have exactly what they ordered, Jie and ‘Ted’ her cargo-handling exoskeleton positions each of the containers carefully in the cargo bay.
They have just finished loading all of the goods that Max bought when another truck pulls up carrying a refrigerated container.
Following the truck is a taxi, which stops behind it. From the taxi emerges three characters, all dressed in white robes/aprons with much gold jewellery in evidence. The three of them advance towards Max, Arvor and Taeva.
The lead one is a jolly, rotund woman in her early fifties. On top of her immaculately white robes is a vast amount of gold jewellery.
“Major Savory Miranda Hampshire,” the plump woman says in a friendly fashion extending a pudgy hand with a large ring on each finger. “And these are my colleagues, Minor Sweet Ambrosia Sharpton and Scullery Acolyte Joshua Bontemps.”
Ambrosia is fairly attractive for a woman in her late-thirties, wearing a fair amount of jewellery, but certainly not as much as the Major Savory. Joshua is a spotty looking kid who can hardly be in his twenties. He wears no jewellery at all.
Max bows deeply before the three of them:
“Nice to meet the three of you,” he says in a grovelling fashion. “We will be most ’onored to ’ave you onboard.”
“So is this your cargo ’ere then?” he says with a nod to the container.
“That it is,” replies Miranda.
“It’s policy that we must examine all cargo coming onboard,” says Arvor.
“That’s perfectly understandable,” she replies. “Please just be careful when handling the produce so as not to spoil the flavors.”
“Of course, madam, we won’t touch anything unless absolutely necessary.”
The three Horkalites leave the party members to take care of the cargo while Autumn welcomes them onboard and helps them to settle into their staterooms. She is delighted to see that they have some large refrigerated boxes with them that the Major Savory asks to be put inside the galley’s refrigerator.
Taeva and Arvor check out the cargo. As predicted, it’s full of the finest produce that Overnale has to offer, including sides of prime beef, ufffleberries, several sticks of seawood, frozen neo-tuna and a whole host of other herbs, spices, fruits and cuts of meat. They check it carefully, but there is nothing out of the ordinary in there.
They call Jie over to load the container into the now completely full hold. The cargo now having been taken care of, they change into their dress uniforms in order to welcome the remaining passengers.
Apart from the Horkalites, the first passenger to board is a tough looking character in his late-thirties who is sporting several scars plus the odd tattoo. His passport shows him to be Stein Thaknopor, a native of Parlek. He hands over a small arsenal of weaponry.
Taeva and Arvor on security duty flash each other a look – a look that says ’we’re going to have to keep a close eye on this guy’.
Stein doesn’t complain when he is told that his weapons will need to be locked in the ship’s locker until it is time for disembarkation, nor does he object when Arvor subjects him to a very thorough body search to make sure he is not carrying a body pistol. He’s clean though and so they allow him onboard where Autumn escorts him to his cabin.
Next through is Sam Spenser, a blue collar looking guy in his early-thirties, who is the only low passenger to be joining the ship here. Along with a small battered looking suitcase of clothes, he brings a toolkit onboard. As Will leads him to the low berths he learns that he’s an HVAC contractor about to start a six month posting to Egypt.
The last two passengers arrive as a pair – a couple of geeky looking guys travelling on Glisten passports called Charlie Ulumbo and Xin Campion. Once they are onboard, Autumn calls Arvor and tells him to close the doors.
Jie and Arvor join Will on the bridge and go through their pre-flight checks while Grim heads down to the engine room. At exactly noon, Will gets permission to lift off and the Princess slowly rises from Parlek Port heading through the blue skies and out of Overnale’s atmosphere.
Overnale is not such a large world and so, a little before 17.00, the Princess reaches jump diameter and Will sends her into hyperspace and the bridge crew are able to mingle with the passengers a little.
Autumn and Max try to act surprised when Miranda asks if it might be possible for her and her assistants to use the galley and that they would like to cook a welcome dinner for everyone. Naturally they tell her that this is fine.
A little over three hours and all of the crew members are joining the passengers are sat around the dining table, trying not to snigger when Miranda says grace, dedicating the meal to the Great God Baport.
Max and Autumn were not exaggerating when it came to the quality of Horkalite cooking. If ever a meal could be described as tasting ‘positively divine’, it’s this one. None of the party members can remember tasting a meal like this before – every mouthful is like a culinary orgasm.
Over dinner everyone gets to know one another a little better. The Horkalites make for good company although Joshua is pretty quiet. They learn that he is a very recent convert, having previously been earning a living flipping rabbit burgers at KwikBite before being ‘rescued’ by Miranda and Ambrosia. The two geeks, Charlie and Xin seem OK, although they are a little shy and lacking in social graces. The party members find that they are recent graduates of Glisten’s Biogineering Academy and they have been recruited by SuSAG to join their facility on Egypt. Stein is polite and chats a little, but averts the party members’ questions regarding what he does and where he is going.
Fuelled by some excellent wine that the Horkalites provided, the group chats well past midnight until, one by one, they excuse themselves and head to their staterooms.