When the shuttle docks with Dame Metropolis, JT and Sharni part ways to each get settled in. JT flips through her welcome packet of useful information. It includes the access cylinder to her small but private room on the floor below the current one. The ports of call on the provided list are all primitive planetesimals and obscure asteroids scattered about a sector of Wild Space. Even in between these stops, there are tour offerings, like taking a shuttle ride outside the Dame or going to an astronomy lecture on the observation deck. JT flips through the emergency evacuation procedures, impressed that all of the rooms are able to be individually sealed against vacuum and that the staterooms themselves can serve as escape pods. The map, showing the ship’s deck plans, sets off alarms to JT’s experienced mind. It is good enough for basic getting around, but some entire decks are missing. Other levels are clearly not to scale, so some compartments are obscured. The schedule of events has a glaring inaccuracy, too. JT’s gala is not listed among all the lectures, tournaments, shows, and sports.
All the shuttles, fancy or not, ferrying passengers aboard the cruise liner dock on this level. Across the crowds, JT sees a steward in the ship’s uniform. She starts making her way over to him, and as she approaches, she hears the tail end of the unhappy previous customer’s complaints. “I was supposed to get a circular suite. This octagonal stateroom is not what I requested.”
“I’m sorry that you misunderstood your room assignment, but the circular suites are reserved for non-oxygen breathers, and they are all booked,” the steward firmly replies.
“No, I saw a human assigned one of these rooms. If that human can have one of the nice rooms, then so can I,” the Balosar demands. “Those bubbles on the side of the ship have the best views, and I am paying top credit to be here.”
The steward does not relent, and with enough concessions and rewards, the Balosar accepts defeat. JT steps up to fill the vacant space in front of the steward’s stand as soon as it is available, though she does make note of the rich, snobby person to target later for her gala. Her gala, which is currently not on anyone’s schedule! The steward seems stressed, but he handled the irate passenger adroitly. JT approaches more politely. “Excuse me, I’m Jai Tessa from the War Orphans Fund. I had a gala charity event scheduled, but it’s not on the list. Do you know where I might find it? What room I’m assigned, what time slot?”
The steward pulls out his datapad and flips through it. “Oh, I’m afraid all the ballrooms are already being used for events.”
The gala was canceled?! JT’s mind starts spinning. “But I made a reservation: the War Orphans Fund.” She pulls out her records and reiterates, “I had a reservation. They said there was a room available. This is signed by someone from Dame Cruise Lines.”
The steward looks over JT’s documents and says, “Ah. Yes, I see.” He leans forward and drops his voice. “You were slated to be in Banquet Hall C… but the moff commandeered that.”
“Oh…” JT breathes out. She cranes her neck a little, trying to see the steward’s datapad. “Did it say for what?”
He continues in hushed tones, sounding somehow both embarrassed and cautious at the same time. “You know, we didn’t really ask.”
“I mean… but… maybe I can just get the moff to sponsor the gala. Can you tell me where his room is? I can just ask him.” The steward looks at JT, eyes widening a bit. “Him? Her?”
The steward shakes his head. “I cannot give out personal information about the moff,” he says, but he offers a compromise. “Your reservation included space requirements for your event. Maybe we could give you a smaller room? We don’t have anything else available in that size.”
“Are there two rooms you can join together?” JT asks, turning her attention to the deck plans for a moment. “Or what about the stargazing deck?”
“Oh! The observation deck? Would that work for you? But do you need to have a sitdown dinner? Because there aren’t any tables there. We could maybe squeeze in some cocktail tables…”
JT shakes her head. “I need to have a fancy dinner. People like their fancy dinners.”
“Would just fancy cocktails work?”
“We need to have a cocktail hour too. It’s not a replacement for the dinner,” JT insists.
“Could this dinner be very late? We could do the cocktails and then seat people at 2200 or 2300?” That is too late for JT’s tastes, even aboard a cruise ship that has no natural daylight.
JT knows there is space on the ship that is not on the map. With that in mind, she asks, “What about between decks B1 and B3?” She runs the risk of people not being able to find the event then, but maybe that can be folded into the experience. A scavenger hunt? A speakeasy? Maybe no moff if it’s going to be a speakeasy. And she will need a new outfit if that will be the theme.
They compromise on cocktails on the observation deck followed by dinner in a cargo hold, but making stowage look nice is up to JT. The ship will provide whatever food she needs, but the scene dressing is up to her. The steward offers to push out the update of the schedule including the gala along with a special announcement so that all the passengers are aware of it.
“Thank you so much. It really means a lot to me,” JT says gratefully. She has a room and the cruise line will handle the food, but there is still the matter of entertainment… Maybe she can talk with the band that will be playing at the ball she saw on the schedule, though a smaller swing band might be better. She should find the ship’s recreation director and have a chat. But who will emcee this event? Immediately, JT thinks of Petey. He could use the opportunity to stretch himself. Things will work out fine, JT is sure. “I understand that these things happen,” she tells the steward, making sure he knows she is not angry. “And you know, maybe I’ll still talk to the moff. The moff might like to come. Can you tell me who the moff is, though?”
“Moff Quarsh Panaka.”