FILE ENTRY 13.0

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INTERPLANETARY NEWS:

Vestazine is the latest drug cocktail for countering microgravity. The compound has a live virus that's mined from the second largest body of rock found in the Asteroid Belt called Vesta, named after the virgin goddess of home and hearth in Roman mythology. Seems harmless enough, but the design is a trade secret, copyrighted by the Space Venture Corporation under the Interplanetary Federation's drug proprietary act of 2273. The drug works like a vaccine or antibiotic. The virus seeks out and eliminates cells that cause nausea and other symptoms of AG Sickness. It's engineered by scientists in labs on Mars and its also laced with a special metal that so far has only been found on Vesta (Space Venture owns the exclusive rights to the asteroid, bought from the Interplanetary Federation for exploration and exploitation). The alloy is similar to natural iron found in the human body. The metal, fitly given the name Viron, is harmless to the body and interacts with the magnetic fields produced by the gravity drives of Space Venture's now famous space cruise ship and its beach resort, Neptune Shores. It's a miracle solution for the space travel corporation, which has recently received a financial boost from its new luxury ship, the Celestial Sea. Microgravity sickness has been a plague that has taken its toll on the human body. But not anymore. Space Venture spokesperson, Cygnus Lo, announced in a press conference before leaving Earth bound for Neptune that every guest of Neptune Shores and all passengers aboard the Celestial Sea would be given the specially designed cocktail of Vestazine. With that said, it should be a pleasurable cruise home and a wonderful vacation for anyone relaxing on the beach basking under a holographic sun.

Bella's hair was long enough to wear in a ponytail, the end of it sprouting from a tight band. She gave herself an evil grin in the bathroom mirror as if she were conjuring up a plan to conquer the world, or the universe. To go classical, she gelled her dark locks back over her scalp producing a slick and sleek appearance. Add to that a shimmering silver dress that went almost to her ankles, and she had successfully replicated the look of a 1940's movie star on the Hollywood red carpet. Believe it or not, the time period was a celebrated era in the year 2317 because it signified the birth of the modern age, even though it was nearly four hundred years ago. But Bella's attempt to cheer herself up and put her father's death behind her was short lived. The air deflated from her lungs as her lips flattened into a straight line.

"Bella," Caprica called from the main area of the stateroom which only consisted of a twin bed, a nightstand, and a tiny desk with a mirror and chair. "Let's see it," her blue haired friend called again. She was sitting on the edge of the bed with Astra, waiting for Bella to show off her new dress that she purchased at the ship's onboard clothing store. It cost her a month's paycheck of ebills.

"Come on, we can't wait to see it," Astra added.

"Okay." Bella managed a faint smile in the mirror. "Whatcha think?"

She stepped into the short hallway with the cabin door behind her and twirled around, an admirable feat in the long dress and heels.

"If Halo could see you now," Astra said.

"He will soon enough," Caprica replied.  "His jaw will drag the floor."

"Why would you say that?" Bella said.

Caprica sprang from the bed and went to Bella, cupped her face in her hands. "Are you kidding me? I can see Neptune fading to a pale blue, girl. Are you blind? He's always at your side...at the food court in the concourse at the resort...his tour counter was next to yours...and, you two have a daily ritual of banging swords."

Bella chuckled. "Seriously?"

"Yes," Astra came to Caprica's side. "Are we the only ones that can see it?"

"He's my friend. He's our friend."

"But he spends more time with you. Ever notice how he appears by your side when you wander off alone?"

Bella huffed through her nose.

"Just saying," Caprica said and widened her eyes innocently. "He doesn't ever follow us around like he does you."

"That's it. I'm not wearing this dress." Bella turned for the closet. "This is too much. I can't."

"What else do you have to wear to Captain's Night? Nothing that will match what we have on." Caprica ran a hand down her side. She was wearing a short white dress that made her blue hair stand out in comparison. Beside her, Astra wore a black blouse and a skirt that came down to her knees. Both of her friends looked like they were ready to hit the dance floor.

Through the open doorway, Bella glanced at herself in the bathroom mirror. Rolled her eyes. "Okay. Let's go. He's waiting."

"Who's waiting?" Caprica smirked

"You know who. Come on." Bella spun and opened the cabin door.

Halo was standing in the corridor, his balled up hand in the air about to knock.  A brow arched and his chin hardened like it was chiseled from stone. Bella hadn't thought much about the way he looked. He was her friend. He was Halo. Part of the gang. Although...there was that moment they shared on the space jet, his hand clutching hers. Was he trying to comfort her or was he gripping her hand to calm his own nerves? Then there were certain moments when they were Kendo fighting with the bamboo swords. The way he looked at her, and the way she stared back at him, when they finished an adrenaline laced skirmish. She always considered it a competitive but sportsmanlike showdown amongst friends.

What was she thinking anyway? He was...

Halo put a hand on the doorframe, leaned against it. "Hello, Earth to Bella."

Turning away from him with a grunt, she pinched the bridge of her nose and exhaled. "We're not on Earth, goofball." She spun back in his direction and grinned.

"Where did you get that dress?" His gaze darted down and then up, in slow motion. "Never saw you wear that before."

"It's for dinner, silly, step aside." Bella nudged him out of the way and entered the hall. A few agonizingly slow seconds later, Caprica and Astra appeared through the cabin doorway.

During the exchange with Halo, she never noticed that he was sporting a black tux with a baby blue bow tie.

"You're awfully jazzed up yourself," Bella said. "Where'd you get that suit? The laundry chute down the hall?"

"From the same store you got your dress. Are we ready to roll here?"

"I'm starving," Astra said.

"Me too," Caprica added.

They made their way down the long corridor that seemed to continue forever in both directions. The floor was burnt orange carpet and the walls were made of a two-toned glossy metal of the same color as the floor that extended up waist high. Above that, it turned silver-gray up to the ceiling. Bella assumed, from her memory of the ship's blueprints, that they were heading in the direction of the stern or rear of the vessel. Further down the corridor, in the middle of a short intersecting hallway, a bank of elevators awaited them. They wouldn't be going all the way up to the Sea Breeze Deck, but would stop a few floors shy, and get off outside one of the four fine dining halls, the one called the Imperial Hall. Bella couldn't wait to experience the splendor of the dining room, and sink her teeth into lobster and steak, all before the ship accelerated to near light speed.

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