By and large, the flight to Rigel is smooth. The spaceship takes off in a roaring cloud of smoke and flame, which pushes everybody back into their comfortably padded seats (and flings Spot back into the nearest division in the overhead luggage compartments). Compared to the ships Spot's been in before, though, this feels like the pilot is trying to transport delicate glass vases without cracking any. The ship rises into orbit about Centauris, and... warps. There's a brief instant of... discontinuity... as the Beeder-Two Hyperdrive shifts the ship, and its entire contents, an unimaginable distance in the blink of an eye - an effect that makes advanced particle physicists cry when they try to explain how exactly it works, but an effect that's very useful to the casual traveller.
There's really no reason for the ship to hang about in space for more then twenty seconds. It hangs about for a full two minutes nonetheless, apparently in order to give the passengers a chance to marvel at the excellent view outside the windows. (Spot, in the overhead compartment, misses this).
Then it's atmospheric reentry. Again, the pilot is gentle and the ride is both smooth and amazingly swift. It took the team longer to cross one city on Centauris by taxi than to cross mind-boggling distances to reach Rigel.
The team clears Customs easily (Customs isn't sure what Spot is, but he's clearly not on the banned substances list, so they reluctantly let him through) and reach a terminal that's a bit dustier and a bit shabbier than the one on Centauris.
There's several people waiting for travellers. Many of these carry A4 sheets with names on them ("Mr. van der Merwe", "Mohammed Chang", "Cecil Sea"). One group in particular stands out - four people in a tight group around what looks like a small cleaning droid. They don't have a sheet with a name on it, but they are each holding a phone (except for the cleaning droid) and studying the faces of everyone who walks out of Customs (the cleaning droid as well).
The thing that stands out most about them is their similarity to the team. There's one fellow with glasses and a beard - Prof. Barnes recognises him as Professor Maximillion Clarke, very well-known in academia for his impressive work on AI research (and he will no doubt recognise Prof. Barnes as well - though they've only met twice, at AI research conferences) - one tall, muscular fellow who looks like he would stand a chance arm-wresting King Wilshire (not necessarily win, mind you), one heavily scarred fellow with an eyepatch, and one who would look completely innocuous if he were on his own. And, of course, the cleaning droid - unlike Spot, this one seems to be a perfectly ordinary running-on-electricity type of robot.