Dealing from the Bottom
“Don’t push me!” Nymeria stumbled forward, nearly losing her grip on the two glasses in her hands.
“Then get on with it!” Alari points at the closed door of the cockpit.
The Turian scowled. “YOU are the captain! Why am I delegated to pep talks? The guy doesn’t even like me!”
“Shut up, both of you. What’s in those glasses?” Both women turn in surprise at the sudden voice behind them.
“Tianna, I’m going to have to put a bell on you or something.” Alari mumbled.
The Asari ignored the comment and grabbed a glass from Nymeria’s hand, sniffing at the contents before looking at both of them in disgust.
“Really? You went with Bina? You want to talk to the man or kill him?” She chucks the contents in the sink and turns back to the other two. “Wait here.” She disappears into the back of the ship and several minutes tick by without either saying a word. When she reappears, the other two look at the bottle in her hands with raised eyebrows.
“Dare I even ask where you got that?” Alari shook her head, once again reminded that she knew less of Tianna than she thought.
Nymeria whistled through her teeth. “Dude, this is Macallan. Over 200 earth years old. This stuff is not cheap!”
“Yes, well, DUDE……not all of us spend our credits on frilly garments and weapon mods. And as I recall, he’s partial to Macallan.” Tianna pours some of the amber liquid into the glasses, taking care not to spill.
Nymeria bristles. “They’re not…..urggh, just forget it.”
The Asari gives her a pointed look before reaching inside her jacket pocket, producing a pack of Quasar playing cards. “Also, there’s this. You play, right? Ryden’s been around, so I bet he plays. You might even win a few credits off him if you play your cards right. Now go.”
“Use works like ”bullshit and fucktard”. Manly man words.” Alari chimed in.
“I’m not swearing at him and I am the least diplomatic person on this ship to be discussing feelings with!” Nymeria protested again.
“You are also the most human of all us.” Tianna replied coolly. “Chances are he is feeling a bit embarrassed by his outburst. Stroke his ego. Human men seem to like that. Alari, we need to look at the damage from earlier. Krogan’s with Lucy getting patched, so we have some time.”
Nymeria looked at the closed door of the cockpit. This was ridiculous, but she’d be damned if she gave up now. Alari was still smarting from the incident with the Blue Suns weeks earlier. Any more sass from her, Nymeria, and she might find her half-Turian ass out on the pavement at their next stop-over. She flexed her shoulders and drew breath threw her nose, exhaling slowly. “Right, bullshit and Fucktard. Manly man stuff.”
She balanced both glasses in one hand and knocked.
“Yeah, come in.” A gruff voice sounded from the other side of the door.
She entered the small space and stood, unsure of what to do next. Ryden was looking at the ship’s flight console and making notes on a data pad – probably the latest flight report. If he was still angry, he wasn’t showing it. Other than telling her to enter, he ignored her.
“All good. Lucy did a good job on my leg.”
Still no eye contact.
“I wasn’t talking about that.”
“I know.” Ryden looks up and notices the glasses in her hands. “I guess you want to sit?”
Nymeria eyes the co-pilot seat warily. “Well, not if I’m going to get spaced. You sounded pretty serious about that eject button.” She sits down however, and hands him a glass. “I have gifts. Booze and cards. You play Quasar?” She shuffles the pack of cards.
“Don’t you need a slot machine to play that?” he frowns.
“Not unless you want to lose every last credit you have. I lost some serious money at Chora’s Den once.”
“Okay, let’s give it a shot. 5 Credit bets.” Ryden eyes the amber liquid in his glass suspiciously before taking a tentative sip. Nymeria can’t hide the smirk on her face when his face registers a mix of surprise and shock.
“This is Macallan” he chokes out. “Where did you get this?”
“It’s Tianna’s.“ Nymeria spreads his first deck out. ”You ready?”
He nods, feeling a bit more relaxed. “Hit me.”
She deals the cards and they play a few rounds in silence, sipping the drinks. It doesn’t take long for him to be several credits down.
“You’re good at this.” He remarks, gesturing for her to play her turn.
“We played a lot in military school. Not much free time so we played Quasar. I made good money.”
She scooped up the cards, noting another win. “Again? Your turn to deal.”
Ryden takes the cards and shuffles it. “I don’t want to make it too hard – Turians aren’t known for taking human victories well.” He smiles and glances at her before setting out the stacks.
“Ouch! Burn well deserved.” She laughed, shaking her head. ”Humans, on the other side, are known to make decisions when angry…decisions they might regret.”
Ryden immediately tensed again. “It was a moment of madness. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Good, because I tried to fly this bucket of bolts once and I have no interest to do it again, even if Alari tells me to. It’s much harder than it looks.” She glances as the myriad of blinking lights and buttons on the dashboard.
Ryden looks at her with raised eyebrows. “Since when have you ever done what Alari says?”
Nymeria gives him a calculating look before turning to put her glass down, not noticing Ryden taking the opportunity to slip another card into his deck.
“Dude, I don’t know what YOUR deal is. Frankly, if you don’t feel like sharing, then that’s your thing. I will tell you about me though. Most of my life was spent on Menae in some form of military unit. The last 10 years was spent under orders. If they told me to shoot, I would shoot. If they said train, I would train. If they want someone removed, I removed them.”
“Like an assassin?”
“No, there’s a difference. Assassins hunt – there’s a thrill to it. I did a job. It was expected of me. I was ORDERED, in a routine. Then…things happened, and suddenly I found myself no longer under those orders and routine. Out of my comfort zone you could say. I spent a lot of time following orders that were not…beneficial to my team at the time, but I dared not speak up. I had a better vantage point than Alari did that day, and when she ordered me I countered her because I knew it following it would backfire.”
“Which it did anyway.” Ryden remarked, placing his deck down.
“Yeah well, I know that now.” She frowns at his cards. “What the…..? Well, Mr. Pilot, you just won your first round. Weird, I was pretty sure I had this one too.” She slots his cred-stick into her omnitool and wait for the transfer beep.
“What I’m saying is….I try to make better choices and not be such a follower. Following got me nowhere in the military. I don’t disrespect Alari, but if I feel her decision-making is detrimental to the team, I will speak out. And another thing, I don’t really want to space anyone that sets foot on this ship. It’s a tempting thought, but I won’t do it.”
“Not even pilots having a melt-down and hobbling off in a huff?” Ryden laughs.
“Especially pilots that are the only ones capable of flying the ship. You wouldn’t have gotten far anyway, not with that leg.” Nymeria catches sight of the time on the console and jumps up. ”I need to get back; Lucy wanted to show me her new detonator device. If I’m not back by dinner, bring a mop and bucket and clean up what’s left of me splattered across the med-bay.”
Nymeria pauses by the door and turns back.
“Did you ever have that eject button installed?”
Ryden doesn’t answer, just smiles and continues making notes on his notepad.