Writer’s Notes: So, after three weeks I managed to get Ilya and Cael to the bar. I call that a WIN!!!
Ilya and Cael watched Alberich lumber over to the reclined woman; his borrowed worker’s coat brushing against the heads of the sitting patrons and nearly toppling over a lamp from its pedestal. There were a few annoyed grumbles but no one seemed to be in the mood for a fight and let it go. The coat should at least help stifle the smell a bit, Cael thought.
He led Ilya over to the bar and had her sit on a stool while he stood protectively behind her.
The bartender looked up from his newspaper.
“What’ll you have?” He asked Cael in commons.
Ilya looked back at the woman purring to Alberich among the cushions.
“Umm… I don’t seem to have access to my credit at the moment.”
“Ah yah, the satellites to the gate are bugging again?”
“Is that a… common occurrence here?”
“Cael, that woman.”
The bored man glanced down at Ilya still holding the breather to her face. “You must be new.”
“Just, um, passing through.”
Cael gently helped Ilya pull the breather down, and she suddenly realized they had been talking about her. She had forgotten all about the device and gave the bartender an apologetic grin before burying herself deeper into the ugly fur coat.
“Connection with the Gate has been spotty since the rebellion took hold. Bastard Novafucks were able to do a little sabotage of their own before they were overrun.”
“Oh, not your people then.”
The bartender scowled and put down the paper.
“Will you be ordering anything or not?”
“Ah, we… can’t now. We’re just waiting for Mari.”
“Her! That one a friend of yours?”
The bartender produced two shot glasses and poured into both a semi-clear liquid.
“Manager says anyone she brings in gets a shot on the house. Enjoy.”
Ilya looked to Cael questioningly. He picked up a glass and knocked it back in one gulp. He shook his head, sniffed and then shrugged at her.
“Could… could you ask the bartender for a glass of water?”
Ilya looked back to Alberich and the woman as Cael got the bartender’s attention. The woman’s dress seemed contradictory. It covered her from neck to wrist to ankle, making a display modesty. Yet, the dress was skin tight, struggling to show every curve on her narrow body. A large glass of water was placed on the counter.
“Cael,” Ilya remembered to whisper, “Cael, that woman.”
“Ilya, you have to stop staring.”
“What is she?”
“I’m sorry, ‘what’ is she?”
“Where is she from? Her face is incredible!”
“Oh, yes. It’s definitely a work of art.”
“So, do you know where she’s from?”
“Ah… she’s had so much work done, it would be impossible to tell just from looking.”
“Yeah, it’s um, pretty obvious once you know what to look for. Not a bad job though.”
Ilya stared at him as he gulped down the second shot.
“Oh! Sorry. Work means… surgery… to make herself look different.”
“What??” Ilya looked back incredulously. “Why would someone do that?”
“Well, to get the reaction you had.”
The woman’s expression was that of pure serenity and curiosity as Alberich spoke to her. Then the woman’s eyes locked on her.
“Ilya, stop staring.”