When Good Drinking Goes Bad

In today’s #RichardWrites, we’ve got Elspeth trying to track down Hope in a scene from Tyche’s Deceit. Hope is off doing … something important that I’m not going to tell you about because, you know, spoilers. El’s tracking her in the best way she knows how: spacer bars that serve hard liquor.

Moses snapped his fingers. “Altman Razor.”

El looked between Moses and the autobar. “That a drink?”

“It’s a dude,” said Moses. “I mean, it might be a drink as well. But it’s a dude. Sells shit. Parts, machinery, that kind of thing.”

“Sounds like the right kind of match,” said El. She twirled her empty glass, initially curious about how it got so empty, so fast. “Hell, Moses. My glass is empty.”

“They do that,” said Moses. “One of the annoying things about the universe.” He shifted his frame, biceps flexing. Definitely nice if you were into that kind of thing. “I’d guess you could use a refill.”

“I could,” said El. “What are you having?”

“Flaming Jesus,” said Moses.

She gave him a look, shrugged, and used the autobar’s console. Yep, there it is. More coins in the slot, and the machine hummed to itself. On a whim, she ordered one for herself as well. The autobar whirred, clicked twice, and ignited their drinks. She handed one to Moses. He took it with a nod, slapped his hand over the top to put it out, then took a hit. “Thanks.”

“Least I could do,” said El. “Since you’ve been so helpful.” She slapped a hand over the top of her drink as well, took a cautious sip. Tastes like rum. Earth assholes always got to give a simple drink a hard name. She eyed Moses’ biceps again. “So.”

“So,” agreed Moses. He tossed her a grin. “You come here often?”

“Not often enough,” said El. “Not often enough.” She leaned closer to him. Hope could wait a little while, right? No harm seeing where this conversation went. No harm at all. She’d forgotten, right until that moment, how she’d come to be at this particular bar. Who had told her to come here.

There was the sound of boots, and she whipped her head around. Black armored troops were clattering down the stairs into the bar, blasters held high. El’s mouth was open, drink half-way between the bar and her lips. Moses burst into action, screaming something that sounded like DIE MOTHERFUCKERS as he threw his glass at them, then pulled out a blaster — now where the hell had he been hiding that? — and firing a the Republic soldiers.

El didn’t think, didn’t draw her own sidearm, she just dropped to the ground. Kohl? He’d be good at solving this kind of problem. Her? She just needed to get the fuck out.

Blaster fire erupted from around the bar as patrons returned fire at the Republic soldiers. Wood laminate and glass and burning alcohol rained down on El as she tried to crawl on her elbows across the floor. She heard a scream, then another, then the whoomf as something caught fire. She spared a glance over her shoulder, saw Moses drawing a bead on a soldier, his blaster flashing blue white plasma. A moment later, Moses was gone, burning chunks of what used to be a person raining down after the hail of return blaster fire from the Republic soldiers.

El found a service door, pushed her shoulder against it. She had to get the fuck out of here, back up to daylight. She didn’t care how much the sun glared at her, at least it wasn’t trying to shoot her. She kept on her hands and knees as she made her way across what was, in a more prosperous time, a kitchen. It was now mostly a storeroom for cheap alcohol. But there, at the back: another door. El got up, giving a glance behind her at the service door. Still blaster fire from out there, still a lot of anger in the room. She tried to open the door but found it locked. The lock was an old mechanical one, and she had no key.

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