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Comet Encounter

The rich are always different. Sure, most Earth people live in crowded arcologies and sprawling shanties, but the Nobility and the magnates, they live like the rich on Luna, Venus, Mars or the wealthier asteroids and habitats.

For the least privileged aristocracy, an interplanetary pleasure cruise is a rite of passage - a once-in-a-lifetime trip to another world, or a Grand Tour after University. But the very rich, some of them cruise every year - some perpetually.

The Pegasus class cruise ships are the pride of the Golden Sun Line. They mass over a hundred thousand tones fully loaded and have two hundred luxury staterooms. With full occupancy and staff, there are eight hundred passengers and crew aboard.

And that's the thing with Earth - no matter how many poor people there are, there's just so many people down there that there's always a supply of ultra-rich ready to truck off and a moment's notice. We were letting off a crowd at High Nairobi when Lambert-Chu-4 cut across Mar's orbit and brightened to become the brightest comet of the century. The head office back on Amun started selling tickets, and by noon the next day, we were booked with rich Earthers.
Within the week, a motley collection of ancient, second hand and shiny new shuttles met us at the station. We topped off with over-priced xenon, and wasted lots of fuel in a high-thrust burn (well - only a quarter gee - but terribly inefficient) to place ourselves right in front of forty cubic kilometers of ice and rock.

Our resident scientists say the thing is unlikely to break up. Not sure how much of that is true, and how much is to encourage high-priced excursions down to the surface. I sure hope those rich folks get plenty of good pictures and memories for their expense and trouble.

- Wilma Krandel, Second Purser, S.S. Pegasus
 

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