S.S. Zarra. Elegance in Space. The finest in the Celestial Cruises fleet, the Zarra is the latest ship in the Cunard Class Line. Launched in 2422, the Zarra takes two years of development and experience to one, perfectly luxurious ship. The Zarra turns heads when she arrives at any port, from her universally unique hull design to a decadent retro interior. Enjoy unparalleled comfort onboard with five-star service. The Zarra has something for everyone. Are you a fan of food and drink? Enjoy the taste of the galaxy, served by the greatest chefs alive, preparing dishes and drinks from every quadrant. Are you a person of culture? Watch the latest live-action plays and performances in our grand theatre designed so you get high-quality views no matter your seat. Take part in the latest holonovels and adventures in one of our many holosuites; the Zarra boasts the record for the most number on a ship. Want to take a step back and marvel at the sights of the universe? Our viewing decks offer breathtaking and unmissable views of space. Unwind at many of our salons and spas, crewed by our highly trained staff. And if you begin to miss the feeling of solid ground, experience our terrarium, a carefully designed, one-of-a-kind, deck that recreates local scenery; you will forget that you are in space!
Brie tore her eyes away from the promotional video as she sat in the lounge. Wearing tight skinny jeans, which were ripped at the knees, and her old Endeavour hoodie, she looked very much out of place amongst the well-dressed passengers waiting to board. “You got these tickets, how?” she questioned her travelling companion, a lady of her age, with a fairer complexion and with light brown hair tied up in a bun.
“Perks of being a writer doing some research,” came the reply.
“I was in the wrong career,” Brie muttered.
“I’m sure Starfleet ships are more impressive,” Isabella said, looking up from her PADD and offering it to Brie. “Here, read this for me,”
Brie took the PADD, scoffing. “When you find a Starfleet ship with a “decadent retro interior,” let me know,” she said, reading the writing on the PADD. “Is this the story that got you tickets?”
Isabella nodded, a hairclip in her mouth as she redid her hair.
“This is… a rather good description of the ship,” Brie conceded after a while, handing back the PADD. “You’re not bad at this,”
“I would hope not,” Isabella chuckled. “This is my day job, I don’t have anything else to fall back on,”
I don’t either, Brie thought grimly as she looked at the cruise ship from the window. She did look very majestic and decadent, with a gleaming white hull over a solid black underbelly, slashed by red lighting of the various engineering pieces that kept the ship floating in space. A wave of panic suddenly washed over Brie. This was not her. This was not what she should be doing. She was a soldier, a marine. Not one of these high-brow passengers.
“All priority passengers for the S.S. Zarra, you are now embarking. Priority passengers for the S.S. Zarra,”
“That’s us,” Isabella said, standing and grabbing her bag. “Come on,”
Brie blinked slightly and stood. She didn’t like the looks she was getting from the others. She slid her hood up and put her hands in her hoodie pockets. Isabella chuckled. “I think I have dark sunglasses somewhere,” she said. “If you wanted to be more incognito,”
“I’m fine, let’s just get onboard,” Brie replied shortly and began to walk towards the doors where tuxedoed attendants stood passively, with customer service smiles.
“Shall I take your bags, ma’am?” one of the attendants asked. Brie was about to reply that she didn’t have a bag, but Isabella appeared at her elbow.
“Thank you,” she said graciously and handed her bag over. Brie felt her ears begin to burn. He wasn’t even talking to her. Her faux pas made her even more vulnerable and out of place, and she retreated further into her hoodie. “Come on, Gabriella,” Isabella beamed, reaching out and grabbing Brie’s hand from her pocket. “Let’s get onboard!”
And before Brie could protest, Isabella was dragging her towards the doors.
It was as if she had stepped back in time, or into a holodeck. The passenger bridge turned a corner and Brie suddenly found herself in an enormous corridor. Huge windows lined one side, giving outstanding views of the spaceport and the wider space beyond. The other side had wooden panelling, lit in warm, golden lighting. Brie had seen many ship interiors during her career. But nothing compared to this. She turned to find Isabella was also awestruck, her mouth agape.
“This is… jodidamente espectacular,” Brie muttered, pulling her hood down. Isabella blinked and looked at Brie, grinning widely.
"De acuerdo, she responded. “Come on, we should find our rooms first!”
Brie looked down the length of the corridors. They were so long, they curved out of sight before Brie could see the end. “Which way?”
“Let’s… head this way,” Isabella said, grabbing Brie’s hand and dragging her further into the ship. Doors and corridors whizzed by as the two ladies ran down the carpeted hallways before the walls disappeared and the pair found themselves in a huge hall. A circular reception area was set in the middle, in front of the two. Brie felt a sharp pang of pain in her heart; it looked very similar to the Event Horizon bar on Deep Space Thirteen. Tearing her eyes away from the reception, her heart stopped again. This time because of the rather handsome and well-groomed man who stood near to the reception, wearing a sharp, almost military-like uniform, greeting guests. As Brie found herself staring, the man looked up at her. His olive eyes drilled into her amber ones. For a moment, it felt like there was only the pair of them. Then he blinked and looked at Isabella, and Brie came crashing back down to reality.
“Welcome aboard, ladies,” he said, with a smile. “I am Officer Juan Pablo Vázquez, the First Mate onboard this ship,”
“I am Isabella Fernandes and this is my travelling companion, Gabriella Valencia,” Isabella introduced.
“Isabella Fernandes… you are the writer, correct?” the First Mate asked.
“Si, así es,”
“And you speak Spanish?” the First Mate replied in kind.
“Yes, we both do,” Isabella smiled.
The officer looked at Brie. “You must be Miss Fernandes’ plus one,”
Brie tilted her head. She had never been referred to as anyones plus one before. “Yes, it does seem that way,” she replied, also in Spanish.
The officer smiled. “You have an accent,”
“She’s from Colombia,” Isabella interjected helpfully.
“Ah, I see. That explains it all,” he chuckled lightly. “Well, you both have one of the executive suites. I would love to escort you ladies up, but I have to meet our other esteemed guests,”
Isabella nodded. “Of course, Officer. Please don’t let us keep you. And thank you for the warm welcome,”
“It is my pleasure. I will hopefully see you both around. Enjoy your cruise,” he said, bowing respectfully to the pair and then greeting the next set of passengers behind them.
“I think we go and collect our passes from the reception area,” Isabella said.
Brie’s eyes lingered slightly on the well defined form of the First Officer before turning to Isabella. “Yes, I think so. Executive suites?”
“That is what it seems to be,” Isabella said, approaching the reception and giving her name. “It must be a mistake, but I’m not complaining,”
“Up the stairs, and then follow the signs,” the receptionist smiled. “I hope you enjoy your cruise, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask,”
Isabella and Brie thanked the receptionist and turned to the stairs; there were two sets, one on each side of the hall. Continuing to be amazed at the luxury around them, the pair ventured up the stairs and to their cabins, towards the front of the ship. It was not hard to find; signs were plastered everywhere, and when they got lost, they simply had to speak to either an attendant, or the computer, and lights appeared to direct their way forward.
Isabella and Brie’s suites were next to each other. Each had a large bedroom, and living space, which was connected by a door to each other’s room. Brie had visited the captain’s quarters of both of the captains on the Endeavour; this room beat even those in terms of luxury and amenities. When they arrived, Isabella suggested that they should freshen up and then see what else the ship had to offer; their bags had already been brought to their rooms.
As Brie slid out of her clothes, the reality of the last few moments hit her. She was on a strange ship, in a room that was vastly out of her league, with people she barely knew. And she was naked. Feeling oddly self-conscious, she ran to the bathroom, wanting to have a shower, but that idea was quickly dispersed when she saw what the bathroom held; a large hot tub, set into the floor.
The pulsing jets of water seemed to dislodge the dirt, grime, and her thoughts. Brie’s mind flickered from thought to thought, before they all seemed to melt away in relaxation. So much so that she lost track of time, brought into reality by a knock on the door.
“Hey, Gabriella! Time to get out and get dressed! We want to get a good spot on the viewing platform to see the ship leave!” Brie scrambled in the water to get out.
An hour later, the two girls stood on one of the viewing lounges watching as the ship gracefully slid out of port. People on the station waved madly, looking awestruck at the ship and the lucky passengers onboard. Brie could not help but grin as she waved back. And then, with a familiar hum and whir, the ship went to warp.