Last Call


ff_asi_icon.gif chess5_icon.gif elliot2_icon.gif ff_gracie_icon.gif ff_kendall_icon.gif ff_nadira_icon.gif ff_robyn2_icon.gif

Scene Title Last Call
Synopsis A quick detour for a last drink in civilization ends up being quicker than hoped.
Date July 1, 2021

Delphi Flotilla

Ruins of Pennsylvania

Kiling time in Delphi is both easy and hard to do when there's something waiting for you on the other side of that time, something as important and lifechanging as what's ahead of the Travelers. Asi finds herself lifting her eyes to look at every stray bit of neon, eyes darting in the direction of every radio heard and otherwise that she can sense nearby. She could get lost here, in the comfort of the tech more present here than the Pelago, but why they're here lingers over her.

While the lot of Pelago residents and come-from-afars idle more or less in sight of each other while they all wait for signal to move on, she decides after a point that she can't just loiter any longer. "I don't know about the rest of you," she announces with sudden loudness, breath clouding the air in front of her. "But if this is the last chance for a halfway decent drink for a while—"

Her feet are already carrying her in the direction of an open-faced building that appears to have a bar with some customers already in it.

"I'm taking it."

At the mention of drinks, Nadira beelines after Asi. "I will never miss out on the opportunity for a good drink with good company, and honestly I would like to do something at least. Waiting makes me somewhat… antsy. A drink would do me good."

Chess looks around, the neon reminding her of time in Tokyo, which reminds her of the people back home, and makes her suddenly and irrevocably homesick, more than she has been most of this trip — most of the trip so far has been a series of 'what the fuck' and reacting to it. But now that they have some downtime before the longest journey of their lives (if the jump through the Looking Glass didn't count), that feeling is suddenly suffocating.

Her eyes, suddenly swimming with tears, follow Asi as she ducks into the bar, and she swipes a hand across them, as if drying them with the back of her jacket will help — it won't, because that's also damp.

"Sure," she manages, her words thick with the saltwater she swallows down, and follows after.

Kendall has the same idea as Asi, since who knows if there even is any alcohol available between here and Anchor? Sounds like a great opportunity.

Trailing behind Nadira, he gives the building a once over, but despite the fact that it's in an entirely new place, the bar looks almost like what they could find at the Pelago. "Somehow I thought things would look different." he verbalizes, sounding disappointed.

Elliot dithers in the street. He's torn between wanting to be sociable and wanting to stay away from the bar for Wright's sake. "It's okay," she assures him, picking through a small stack of books with no idea what she's in the mood to read. "Got stuff to do anyway. Say hi to Chess and don't make any jokes within earshot of Asi." He laughs bitterly. He's not sure if that lesson can stick, bleak humor being his go-to in bleak situations.

"Sweet christing fuck," Gracie breathes out, like the notion is a relief. She keeps her hood pulled up, pausing in her motion to file in with the others when she sees Elliot hesitate. "C'mon. Let's go fail to make friends together," she urges in a hush, nudging the air just next to his arm, rather than actually connect with him.

"Aw, c'mon. I know you can make friends better than that! Don't be so down!" This voice comes from behind Gracie, where a similarly behooded figure holds the door open behind her, a guitar of all things slung over her back. The voice of Robyn Roux isn't a hard one to pick out here, the question lately has been which Robyn it was they were dealing with. Thankfully, the way the woman stops, rock back on her heels, and smiles wide answers that question better than anything else could.

Fingers on her hands flex in and out, before she looks around the bar and tilts her head. "Whoa. Lotta people here," Zee says quietly, even though it isn't actually a lot of people. She dithers for a moment, like she suddenly decided maybe not tonight, particularly once her eyes land on Kendall. Ultimately, she sighs and steps forward, making her way over towards him and Nadira. "What're you two doing here?"

Asi tries to repress a small, somewhat self-satisfied smile when the woman tending bar sees the veritable crowd approaching her humble little station, arching a brow at her since she's closest.

"It a holiday or somethin'?" the bartender asks skeptically, but not in an unfriendly way.

"Independence Day?" Asi ventures as gamely as possible.

The bartender squints one eye, counting the days and date as best she can recall, and then slowly shakes her head. "I… don't think it's quite the Fourth yet, but sure, it's Independence Day." She lifts her chin. "How're you paying?"

"You all still take credits from the Sill around here?" Asi wonders, and pulls out a handful of said colorful credits. Past winnings of hers that otherwise might not see the light of day again. "Hear they still have pleasurable company up that way."

"They do, don't they, yeah," the bartender acknowledges slowly, minding Asi with more curiosity than before. She reaches out to accept the handful, tucking it away into a pocket inside her coat before she zips it back up again. "Anyway, we only have one thing on tap."

"A nice, solid round of it for me and my friends, then," Asi suggests, and then begins to help facilitate passing out of good-condition, if mismatched filled pint-glasses to the group along with the bartender. She nods to one after the next, and glances at the stools set both up against the bar and scattered around standing tables. "Least it'll warm up in here quick," she notes to herself with some forced cheer, seeing as they take up most of the establishment.

"At least only one thing on tap means there is no dithering about a beverage," Nadira says, carefully making her way in towards one of the tables. She glances over her shoulder at both Kendall and Zee. "We have not gotten to the truly different part, Kendall. Give it time," she says. "We are giving ourselves a moment of pause in the midst of a lot of… new experiences, Zee."

Leaning against the bar, Chess watches the exchange, then huffs a short laugh at the offering of only one kind of beverage.

"So long as it's got alcohol," she murmurs, accepting a glass that looks straight out of the seventies, one of those deep red tumblers with a bubbly finish. She looks at it with some curiosity before moving to one of the seats. She's still too chilly to pull her jacket off, but the alcohol should help temporarily take the chill away, along with packing more people into the small bar.

Kendall catches sight of Zee following behind them, and his gaze goes to the guitar on her back. He furrows his brow at that but doesn't comment, and neither does he say anything else to her; their little spat still makes him grumpy.

"Well I guess knowing what's probably ahead of us, familiar is all right. Think there's anything left inland? You'd think that when the world flooded, the places not near the ocean would be affected less." His gaze moves westward as he contemplates it.

"Maybe civilization still exists somewhere there too, after all we survived the direct assault, they shouldn't have had any major problems." he accepts one of the odd sized tumblers, tilting his head towards the bar.

Elliot smiles at Gracie's offer to fail forward together, hunched against the cold as he finally makes his way inside. His hands stay firmly planted in his pockets even when the wind is broken by the door. "Always happy to have a friend in failing to establish friendships," he says. He sits near the group, close enough to talk but makes no moves for one of the glasses of the local offering.

For a moment, Gracie actually smiles toothily at Elliot. It's subdued by the time she turns to Robyn Zahava. As much as she's seen of it, she's inoculated against that infectious enthusiasm. Still, she's pleasant enough, and saved from having to respond by the musician finding others to occupy her time.

So, she settles in next to Elliot, not so surreptitiously sliding his allotment of booze in front of herself instead. "I'll fall on this grenade for you," she assures him with a nod and a thumbs up.

The redhead even remembers her manners. "Thanks," she offers to Asi, loud enough to be heard. Then, she turns back to Elliot with a sly smirk on her face. "But between you and me," she slants a sly grin at Elliot, "there's a little less pleasurable company at the Sill these days." Her eyes close, brow lifting in a mock of haughtiness. "Just what I've heard."

Then, she actually laughs, one of those genuine sounds that it sometimes seems only he's treated to by his own Rue. This conspiratorially shared between them that she can actually experience humor that isn't just sardonic.

"I mean…" Zee taps her chin, thinking for a moment. "Didn't we keep most of the big power plants on the coast like dumb people? I remember someone in the Arcology telling me that… so if there is anything left out there it's not going to look anything like we remember, right?" She dithers on that thought for a moment, before shrugging. "Wait, are you drinking too, Kendall?" Yes, that a bit of a judgemental tone in her voice, her hands moving to her hips as she stares at the two of them. "Nadira, don't teach him bad habits! He's got enough!"

Probably not a great thing to say in a bar, but.

Moving to sit down at the stool next to Nadira, Zee sets the guitar down next to her and turns to look at the pair of them. "Are y'all ready for tomorrow?"

Only belatedly noting the comment about things not being different here, Asi turns around with her own drink in hand and arches both brows at Kendall. "Okay, for one, we don't have a rat mafia in the Pelago," she notes, ticking off that single finger before she cups both hands around her pint whose navy painted-on logo is so far gone that filling in blanks on it could make it belong to any one of at least three different companies. "We also don't have widespread power like they do out here."

She lifts her glass in cheers as she glances back to the bartender with that one, and the woman dips her head in reception of that compliment.

Her eyes go on to the excitement in Zee as she settles in, and Asi bides those moments away by taking a sip of the mystery swill. A quick pull of her face indicates yes, it's swill, but she's had worse, so she doesn't set it down. Rather than immediately offering an answer to the question Zee's posed, she listens to hear other answers first.

"Given the particular circumstances of the coming days, I would say a drink could not hurt him," Nadira looks over at Kendall and gives him a wink. She lifts her glass, taking a long swallow of the liquid. She's not making a face from it, even if it is awful. "I suppose I am as ready as I will ever be. There is not much else I can do to prepare for travel. Had I more time I might have practiced my ability on a few things, but the idea came to me more recently."

Chess' dark eyes pull westward, and she lifts a shoulder.

"From what I saw with the war, people don't do well on their own. They may have maintained some power grids and things, but without a true infrastructure, or people keeping certain systems in check… I think it was Thoreau that said the best government governs least, but that we're not ready for a government that governs not at all," she says quietly.

"He said it better than that, of course. And that was like, a hundred and fifty or something years ago, but he's still right. I imagine we're going to see small settlements out there, that are getting by — like the places we have in the Pine Barrens and such? But beyond that… there'll be a lot of lawlessness. A lot of selfishness — the people who don't have taking from those who do, because there's no one to stop them." Chess looks back to the others. "Or they do stop them, but in a way that keeps people from growing and building. Just every little group to themselves, rather than a world that's capable of rebuilding."

She huffs a short laugh, shakes her head. "Sorry. I'm not good company tonight, I guess."

Kendall looks at Zee askance when she expresses her disapproval. "Zee, this is a bar," he points out to her with a chuckle, in case she somehow missed it. "80% of the time, people go to bars to have a drink. The other 20%, they get a drink too. It's what you do." 20% probably being hooking up or socializing. The number split is probably closer to 60/40 but who's counting? "Besides, I'm almost 30, it's not like I'm underage, but who gives a shit about that anyway?" Defiantly, he makes eye contact with her and takes a sip. Warned by the reactions of everyone else, he somehow manages to resist gagging. Yeah, yeah, he's still gonna drink it!

A scurrying rat is eyed, and Kendall shrugs. "Well, yeah, but the rats don't look any different. The lights everywhere, yeah, but I'm talking more the scenery." He waves a hand about.

"Do we have to worry about Valentine mounting an exfiltration?" Elliot wonders quietly to Gracie, clearly unserious. "Judging by the hollers I heard in that place, a star attraction would be quickly missed."

He turns toward Chess, sad to see her feeling homesick and sad, and attempts to cheer her up in some way. "Hey Chess, Wright says 'hi and also you're great, never change.' I think she's also in a literary mood."

"The mounting is usually for infiltration." Her tongue toying with one canine, Gracie wraps her hands around the first of her drinks, the Coca-Cola logo stubbornly clinging to the surface. Faded, but persistently recognizable. She leans in a little closer. "Do you wanna go st—"

Gracie cuts herself off, leaning back as Elliot shifts his attention, unobstructing the view he and Chess have of each other. She brings her drink to her lips, falling into silent observation of the greater group now.

"Yeah? Why do you think I'm here then?" Uh oh, that infectious enthusiasm is starting to fall away a bit as Zee turns to stare at Kendall, eyes narrowed. "Because you know I don't really drink." Probably exactly what the bartender wants to hear. Before she can argue anymore, she takes a deep breath and turns back to face forward, closing her eyes and tensing her shoulders. "Oh non, elle déteint sur moi."

Pouting, she leans forward, chin propped against the palm of her hand. "Still doesn't look the same," she offers back to him, in agreeance with Asi. "You can't just pick and choose things to dismiss until you're right, ya know." Chess' description of what to expect doesn't exactly fill her with joy, but it's not far off from what she expected.

Elliot's joke takes Asi so off-guard, her current drink tries to exfiltrate itself through her nose. A sound of choking later, her shoulders wrack themselves and one hand comes to press the back of her knuckles to her mouth both to keep beer where it belongs and to disguise her laughter.

She'll tell no one, but the thought of the Pelago having their own mafia in the form of The Sill is both such an idea and also close enough to the truth it matches her dry sense of humor perfectly.

Forcing a hard swallow, tears in her eyes, she lets out a breath of relief to have not embarrassed herself and moves smoothly on into telling Chess with only the slightest waver in her voice before it steadies, "For what it's worth, when Silas and I went abroad, we were only attacked by pirates twice. I expected much more than that, given how many heres and theres we stopped by to trade for supplies. That being said, we were sailing, so…"

It implies she expects the land trip to be much less forgiving. And she does.

The bartender, who can't help but have been listening in on all this, blinked twice with Nadia's casual mention of ability practice. Without meaning to, she clears her throat. And having done so, feels compelled to speak. "You don't mind I ask… where are y'all headed?"

Nadira's attention snaps to Kendall and Zee in a flash, folding her arms over her chest. "Zee is here to enjoy good company and that is all that matters in the slightest," she says, her tone suggesting that there'd better not be a Kendall-Zee spat right now. "We should all just enjoy ourselves and the company and not quarrel." She, as it turns out, does not answer the bartender as she takes another swallow of her drink. Someone else can explain or come up with a good lie.

"90 percent of statistics are made up on the spot. William Shakespeare said that," Chess quips, glancing at Kendall and Zee, unsure of what to make of either of them, but her gaze returns first to Asi and she nods, smiling a little at the mention of Silas. "We'll try not to break that statistic," she says, reaching finally for the beer and taking a swallow.

For a woman who can't lie without showing it, she has a decent poker face when it comes to not showing just how horrible that beer is. Or she's used to worse.

Elliot's words draw her eyes that way, and she looks surprised, her cheeks flushing a little for the sudden attention. "I, uh, thanks, Wright. Miss you." She takes a breath when that pang of homesickness rises again, and she shoves it aside. "Thoreau's not really my style, but he wasn't wrong about some things. Also realized how important conservation was, way ahead of his time."

And suddenly Kendall has everyone leaping down his throat. "Nowhere important," he decides to ignore everyone ganging up on him in favor of giving the bartender an answer. If it wasn't the bartender asking, he probably would have said something about Nunya, America, but he's not trying to get them kicked out.

Elliot is happy to ignore the commotion at the bar as he doesn't know any of those people. He's mostly interested in the fact that he apparently made Asi laugh, but he'll keep that satisfaction to himself for now. Don't want to undo the success with a less-funny joke.

"I'm a big believer in communal support," he tells Chess. "Despite what movies always try to insist, we are a social animal. I think that in the long run we can succeed in making bad behavior unprofitable."

Gracie's lips press together as she manages not to laugh even a little bit at Asi's expense. Instead, as terrible as the drink may be, she's still drinking it down without even a hint of complaint. It's hard to tell if it's responsible for the sourness that comes to her expression or not. The earlier banter is subdued.

"Some places still have limited infrastructure," she confirms. "But… It really is the wild fuckin' west out there." Gracie huffs a breath of mirthless laughter that sends ripples across the surface of her drink, a sharp contrast from moments ago. "Them that's got shall have," she says after a sip. "Them that's not shall lose." A finger lifts from her glass to point in Chess' direction. "Billie Holiday actually said that one."

A glance is given back over to Kendall, Zee deeply wanting to chastise him for being rude; ultimately, she sighs and decides to let it all go as she instead sinks against the counter. "Hey Nadira," she starts quietly, turning her head just a bit so as to keep her voice from being muffled as she looks up at the other woman. "You ever forget what it's like to be normal?" What an odd question, but not one she elaborates on with any sort of qualification.

Instead, she lets her gaze drifts over to Chess, then to Gracie and Elliot, raising and eyebrow at the group of them, before looking back to Asi, and finally, to the counter in front of her. "How do you remember something like that anyway?"

Not being immediately answered forces the bartender to trawl back through the other things that people have said— recalling now that something else unusual just casually took place. Elliot referenced someone not here, a message, including feelings? Her consternation only grows when she finally receives an answer.

Asi's good humor breaks when she feels something off. It falls away mid-turn and catch of the shifted expression on the bartender's face. One downed mood leads to another as she realizes quickly the woman's made them as being Special. Clearing her throat, she shoves her free hand deep into her coat pocket again. "We're heading far away south," she clarifies like a peace offering, with no trace of her earlier humor in her voice. "And never coming back again. Permanent relocation."

The bartender doesn't so much as blink, until she finally does, languid and slow. Her jaw shifts just slightly, giving away how tensely it's set. One of her hands are below the bartop.

To counter whatever it might bring up, Asi deftly fishes the remaining credits she stuffed in her pockets free and sets them down quickly on the bartop. "We'll get out of your hair— we're on the next boat out anyway. Just… forget we were here."

The bartender continues to say not a word, her stare stony and sharpening as she suddenly looks between each and every one of her patrons from abroad like she's memorizing their faces. Asi wastes no time taking several large gulps of beerish swill, placing only about a quarter of the pint left down on the bartop before she pads a step back. "Let's go," she rallies the other Travelers quietly but sternly, and waits for the others to begin shuffling out first before she thinks about giving this place her back.

"Yes," Nadira answers Zee quietly. She leans on the table, looking into her glass. "I cannot say I remember when things were… not all of this. Even before this." She gestures around to indicate the world, not the bar in particular. Asi's attention on the bartender makes Nadira shrink down as she realizes the situation and what she was not supposed to bring up. This wasn't the Pelago. "Ya ibn el sharmouta…," she hisses under her breath. She doesn't move, simply watching Asi now.

Sitting as she is, it isn't too hard for Chess to slide one hand into her pocket where she keeps that small worry stone — she feels it charge in her hand, warming against her cool skin. There's no indication of this, as she follows Asi's lead and rises, though she lifts her glass to take another healthy swallow or two of her beer.

It tastes terrible, but it's still got alcohol in it, if less than she'd like.

"Gotta start practicing my southern drawl and y'alls," she says with a cheerful smile, and she glances back to nod to the others to come along., especially the one in her original traveling crew — Elliot.

"Let's go. Long day tomorrow, y'all." See? She's practicing.

And there Kendall was, trying to keep a response vague enough to discourage curiosity, and Asi has to go blurt something out. Even though it's a lie, the bartender still looks like she's going to outright kick them out, and no one is chastising Asi for making things worse. Life's not fair, buncha two-faced assholes. He glares resentfully over at her when the bartender gets hostile. Grumbling to himself over it, he takes a long, deep drink, finishing off the rest of his drink with a faint grimace. Nope, not really worth it, but it is likely their last drink.

Shaking his head with a sharp jerk at the sudden bout of dizziness that always comes with drinking too much too fast, Kendall stands up and frowns at Zee. "The people here have no idea what you mean by that." He states pointedly to her as he looks uneasily over at the bartender. Time to go.

Elliot is quick to survey the new dangers, and motions for Gracie to stand with him as he nods back to Chess. He makes his way to the door silently, giving the bartender a look of 'no hard feelings' to speed them along. It would be a shame to get shotgunned in half less than twelve hours after finally making landfall.

Gracie slants a glance from one side of the bar to the other. One finger (not that finger) is raised in the universal sign for one sec as she lifts her mug and chugs her drink. She had three lined up, and now she's having to abandon this pursuit. She's going to at least get something out of it.

With a gasp and a smack of her lips, she brings the glass down onto the bar with a thud. "Fine," she sighs, resigned. Getting up from her seat, Gracie meanders along behind Elliot. "Have a good one!" she calls without looking back. Ugh.

"What? No- I meant-" Zee blinks as she watches the others get up and prepare to leave, scrunching her face in annoyance at Kendall's assertion. She doesn't yet rise up, instead, she rests her head back on the bar. "I meant… before the… everything." She lets out a weary sigh, closing her eyes. "I don't know what you're talking about," she grumbles.

She doesn't seem to have any inclination to leave right this moment. "I just wanted to practice was all," she remarks sadly. "This sucks."

Asi waves a hand to Nadira in particular since she's still sitting. She doesn't know what's been said, but she knows the hydrokinetic's ill-at-ease. She is, too. The wave goes to Zee, too, a little more impatiently than the first.

Truthfully, she's also disgruntled at this point that most of her bargaining chips for goods in Delphi were dumped into this endeavor.

When the lot of travelers from the Pelago start to file out, the bartender's hardened expression shifts down to the bribe on the counter, and she grudgingly takes hold of the fistful of tokens with the hand that had otherwise been reaching for something under the bar. "Best of luck on your travels," she remarks as politely as she can, but it comes out so terse being said between her teeth the way it is. She side-eyes everyone on their way out.

Asi sighs when she finally turns and leaves, seeming assured she's not about to get a cleaver or shotgun pellets to the back. She looks among them all as they go, and gives one last glance over her shoulder before she ventures, "Someone else is going to have to cover on a meal if we need one. Maybe we keep the ability talk under wraps this time?"

She shakes her head and lifts one hand to muss her hair back before pulling the hood of her coat up. "I'm off to find where Silas went off to," she makes her excuses, and wanders into the crowd.

The slurry of rain and snow continues to pelt the group from above as they go their ways, the cold of it an unfriendly needle to them all; one warning that the discomfort here is likely just a taste of what they'll experience once they set out. Chess may be right after all:

Perhaps not all encounters on land could be sorted as amicably as this one.

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