The Sea of Stars
The SOS can be found in Mars’s Lagrange 4 point, a glittering satellite orbiting object 121514
Need to Know (Before you Go):
If there was a contest for “most expensive resort,” the Sea of Stars would at least make honorable mention. Massive points for romance and danger, the sense of spending a night drifting in space with your beloved is nearly worth the price tag, but perhaps not for the body-shy or the agoraphobic.
Zodiac Travel (a Pulse Subsidiary) has always been looking for the perfect get-away. But it’s increasingly difficult to find the next more perfect destination…so they made one. The Sea of Stars sparkles like a diamond on Mars’s necklace, a luxury hotel made of void-hardened glass and flow-form water. Like the advert says, “you can touch the night.”
If you believe the brochure, Stars is made of nothing but water held together with force waves. And in fairness, that’s 70% true, which is better than most advertisements. It looks something like a diamond cut with hundreds of sides, nearly a sphere, and as you make the journey from the port on 121514 (The hotel calls it “The Black Diamond” but most of the staff just calls it “the rock”), you’ll see vectors behind the facets, swimming, sleeping, or doing whatever you might do if you had a week-long stay at one of the most romantic destinations in Sol.
Lodgings are fabulously pricey. The less desirable rooms toward the hotel’s interior start at 300 creds a night, though a high-end lifestyle pass will cover them. The exterior rooms start at a Platinum lifestyle pass, though that just pays for the room and the various services that make it livable.
Guests of the Stars are given a ring—diamond set in silver, a nice little status symbol for when you get back to Mars. The wearer draws a few quick symbols on the watery wall of their room to tweak the temperature to their liking, adjust the lighting, add trace chemicals to the water (salt is popular, so are scents and colors), pull a dark veil around their room, or just call room service. Walls in a suite, walls of more public spaces like the spa or restaurant, or dividers between friendly guests will open with one dismissive wave, become permeable with another. The owners have learned a few things from ASR, apparently. Trash and waste vanishes as the purifiers and artificial currents do their work.
Built with more flowform than glass, smart surfaces are actually scarce in the hotel. Most of the hotel rooms have two or three tables with some water-repellent fields that are toggle-compatible. The bubbles are held together and apart by a glassy matrix that gives the various service automatons and staffers something to anchor themselves to when it’s needed. But the hotel encourages you to put your toggle down and embrace the experience. Repeat patrons often leave their belongings with the concierge.
It’s a good illusion, but it’s not perfect. There’s 16 large, technically opaque, chambers that house generators, backup generators, water purification units, catering, staff rooms, and so forth. The surfaces of the cubes are smart surface displays, usually showing the void of space on the far side of the hotel, but providing whatever information or screen time the hotel or its patrons require as needed.
The experience is not for everyone. Sleeping in a bed made from a warm tide pool, some people can take it and some would prefer to leave it. If you really like being dry, the Sea of Stars isn’t going to be your cup of tea. Predictably, aquatics make up most of their repeat clientele, and they don’t see many Cogs. And there’s something about an entirely glass house that calls out to exhibitionists. The rippling water masks some goings-on and swirls of color or dye curtains are there for the modest to preserve their modesty, but particularly if you’ve gone in for the “clothing optional” version of the Stars experience, you’re going to get at least one eyeful.
Oh, about that “clothing optional” code…deep in its heart, the Sea of Stars is still a Pulse institution, removed by a few layers of corporation, but it’s still Pulse. It’s more accurate to say that some portion of the hotel isn’t going to challenge your boundaries. There’s a competitive edge to their “be yourself” and “less is more” attitude. The staff tries to make sure that each guest is aware that there’s a moving line in the hotel, and beyond that line things can bet a little decadent, but if you breezed past the Terms of Service, well, we hope you enjoy your stay.
“Transparency” is, obviously, a major theme at the Sea of Stars. There’s little to hide, and it’s hard to hide. Much of the wealthy clientele adopts an “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” policy. And if they can afford to stay at the Stars, they’ve got it.
While it’s not required, very little is actually required when you’re drifting in a sea of credits, visitors are encouraged to leave as much as they can on the Rock. Simple, quick-drying white and silver robes are given to anyone that wishes them. Smart surfaces are rare, and keyed to the ring each guest is given. There’s a faintly cult-like atmosphere in the hotel, dismissive of technology and personal goods. During your time at the Stars, you’re what you are, not what you own…an attitude that might cause problems for a gear-happy party. Anyone carrying around their work or bucking the general “white robes or nothing” dress code will get a few dirty glares, and even the most basic weapon is way beyond the pale. This is doubly true if you’ve stumbled into or opted for the less family-friendly side of the station, which can occasionally dip into a “back to nature” vibe that would put Longbow to shame, if either Longbow or Stars subscribed to the idea of “shame.”
Overall, the tone of the Stars should be something between a sumptuous spa and a wellness commune that is on the edge of a slide into a wellness cult.