Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

I'd love for that to happen too actually. Another friend of mine hates him as well but hates Maxwell far worse. And while Maxwell is a dickhead he's far too much of a coward to do the kind of shit Morane does. Not to mention nobody is afraid of him either, he's just an annoyance.

In other news I think these three are at least finished for now.

larger view here
Working on a full set with all the main characters and some supporting ones.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
Last edit: 4 months 5 days ago by LadyGrimes.
4 months 5 days ago #27528

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  • LadyGrimes
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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

long overdue update, thanks to fatigue kicking my ass.

Chapter 12

“Well, this definitely isn’t the work of our mystery killer.” Detective Vince Hayward stated, looking down at the corpse of the man Victoria had killed earlier. Vince was glad to be back at work again, apart from dealing with the macabre aspect of the job.

Then all of a sudden, he spotted the shell casing of the bullet lying on the sidewalk about a foot away from the body, and knelt down to collect it.
“Any witnesses?” He turned to his partner who had just finished chatting with one of the officers on the scene.

“Just a woman and two men.” Marks replied. “They all said the same thing. They saw a petite blonde woman shoot this man in the head after robbing the bank. They all saw her walk out of there with a large sack. She was also wearing a hat with a black veil which covered the upper half of her face.”

Vince then placed the bullet casing inside a small evidence bag and sealed it. “So a woman did this huh? Wonder what she’s so angry about these days? But why kill the one witness if those others saw her too? If you ask me, I’d say she shot this man specifically because he knew who she was.”

“Or maybe he was just in the way?” Marks suggested, watching with Vince as the body was then lifted up on a stretcher and hauled off to the meat wagon.

Vince put the small evidence baggy into his left coat pocket and then stood back up. “So what do we call this one, Marks?” He asked next throwing out some suggestions for possible new headlines. “The veiled killer? The angry widow?”

“Well she got away with over a million in cash.” Marks said. “I wouldn’t think she’s too angry anymore. So for now I’d just call her the veiled robber. She’s only killed one man that we know of so far.”

“Bah.” Vince groaned. “I still say that man knew who she was. Hopefully more witnesses will come forward in time.”

After taking a much needed nap, Lynne exited her bungalow and began making her way to the AMF academy building. She was instantly alarmed once Lucy and Mipsy approached her talking about the fight that had broken out between William and the guard. But of course they both failed to mention the guard was the one who attacked William first, causing Lynne to worry that her good friend and old flame had turned to violence as a way of handling conflict from here on out. And if that were the case, then he would need to be court-martialed and possibly discharged, as there was no way in hell she was going to allow another Stan Winston type incident to happen on her watch.

But once she entered the infirmary and saw how badly beaten William looked, she seemed to have an immediate change of heart.

“Corporal Sterling?” Lynne gasped staring down at William as he lay on one of the beds while a nurse was in the midst of cleaning up the cuts and scrapes on his face.

“What happened out there?” Lynne demanded, standing at his bedside once the nurse moved out of the way. “I just need a few minutes with him.” Lynne informed the nurse, who nodded in kind and left the room.

“What does it look like?” William muttered. “I got my ass kicked.”

“No, I mean what led to this?” Lynne asked firmly crossing her arms. “And please tell me you didn’t instigate this fight.”

William huffed angrily. “Of course I didn’t! That guard let a Tjatey child walk right out of the gate and into the city alone.” He explained, propping himself up with the pillow behind his head. “He did it as an act of revenge too. And attacked me when I said I was going to report him to the admiral.”

Lynne sighed deep and shook her head in disappointment.

“I hope that’s not at me.” William narrowed his eyes. “That child could have been killed because of him. I couldn’t allow that, and I know despite your personal feelings towards the Tjatey, you couldn’t either.”

Lynne nodded. “You’re right I couldn’t. I’m just—I thought after all that happened we were past all the violence, but I suppose I was wrong. Things didn’t change at all, did they?”

“Not everyone is as forgiving as we are.” William said looking her in the eye. “He reminded me that his brother was among the fallen that day.”

Lynne groaned as she covered her face with her hand, and then let her arm fall to her side again. “I don’t know what to do.” She frowned. “If anything there are probably others who feel the same way as that guard does, and that’s going to be a huge problem for us in the long run.”

William agreed with her. “I know it is. And we can’t control how they feel either. What are we going to do? Punish every single one of them for their feelings? It’s not realistic.”

“I want to prevent more bloodshed at least.” She said next, her face full of sympathy. “I’m sorry this happened to you, Sterling. But for what it’s worth, I’m glad you stood your ground. He needed to be put in his place, and the admiral and I will be dealing with him shortly. He will pay for this, that I can promise you at least.” She gently brushed her hand across William’s forehead and gave a soft regretful smile.

“I saw Ammon by the way.” William mentioned then, causing her to give him a funny look in return.

“Ammon?” She replied quizzically. “What do you mean you saw him?”

“When I was knocked out he came to me.” William explained. “We had an interesting chat about the future of his people and how he wants me to serve as some kind of guide for them.”

Shaking her head in disbelief, Lynne pressed the back of her hand to William’s head to check for a fever.

“I’m not speaking insanity here I promise.” He furrowed his brow as he shoved her hand off of him. “He really did visit me in, whatever state of mind that was.”

She sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know what I believe right now, Sterling. But I think for now you should get some rest. I’ll check in with the nurse later to get an update on how you’re doing.”

William suddenly jolted up out of bed. “But I can’t rest, I have to be at the Card Shack soon, she’s going to be looking for me!”

“Who is?” Lynne asked sternly.

“Victoria Thompson.” William answered.

Lynne shot him an incredulous look. “You’re telling me you’ve got a date with that actress?”

“Pretty much.” He responded, noting that hint of jealousy in her voice.

“You really hit your head hard didn’t you? Lynne remarked next, which only seemed to crush him on the inside until she could see it for herself.

“Yeah, I guess I did.” He frowned as he looked away from her. “By the way she’s the woman I was telling you about from before. I just didn’t mention her by name, cause I knew you’d react this way.”

“Sterling, I don’t care about your personal life.” Lynne said point-blank.

“Well you sure seem to act as though someone like her couldn’t ever look past the fact that I’m a soldier.” He quipped. “And to be brutally honest, you sound bitter and jealous.”

“Excuse me?” She exclaimed in disbelief. “I don’t recall if you got the memo, but I’m over what happened between us, and I’m over my feelings for you. So no I’m not jealous, more like shocked that someone like her would take an interest in you, because I don’t want to see you get hurt!”

“In what way?” He stared her down then.

“Forget it.” She shook her head and turned to leave, when he suddenly grabbed her by the arm.

“You can’t just walk away like that every time there’s conflict between us.” William told her. “That’s why things changed between us in the first place, because every time we argued you would just up and leave.”

“Because it got to the point where all we did was argue, Sterling!” She jerked her arm free of his grasp and took a few steps back, looking at him as though she didn’t know him anymore. “But just because life has changed for both of us, doesn’t mean that I don’t care about what happens to you, because I still do. And yes I’m worried that this actress will break your heart if you’re not up to her standards. I know she means a lot to you, but you both are very different.”

William couldn’t help but groan at that last comment. She had managed to break through the iciness within him up until that point.

“Different how? She’s famous and I’m not? He remarked coldly. “Or is it because of my heritage?”

Lynne shook her head at him as she turned towards the door and pulled it open. “Just be careful, that’s all.” She warned him before walking back out.

Not a minute after Lynne had left, both Justin and his new sidekick Jayce, walked in to see how William was doing.

“Oh you’re sitting up now at least.” Justin commented as he approached the bed. “We just saw the commander leave. Did you two have a nice chat?”

William rolled his eyes at him. “I hope you’re kidding. You can’t tell me you didn’t hear the two of us yelling at each other in here?”

“Actually we did.” Jayce admitted sheepishly. “I think Church here was just trying not to stir the pot.”

“Too late.” William muttered bitterly as he lay back down and crossed his arms over his face to block out the glaring lamp overhead. “What time is it?”

“Ten to eight now.” Justin answered. “Why? You got some place to be?”

William suddenly shot back up and rose to a standing position. “Yeah I need to get back home and get dressed. I’m meeting Victoria soon at the Card Shack.”

“Whoa, hold on a minute.” Justin raised his hands while Jayce looked on with an expression of cluelessness. “Are you telling me you have an actual date with her?”

“Kind of.” William replied with a half shrug. “We ran into each other at the Petite Café yesterday afternoon, and had a nice chat. She must have had a good enough time too, because she asked me to meet her there later.”

“But does she know the truth, Will?” Justin asked next.

“No.” William replied. “I didn’t tell her I’m her secret admirer. After all, she thinks he’s dead and is probably trying to move on from that. Why would I want to ruin her life any further?”

Justin sighed and shook his head. “I guess I can understand your reasoning, but seriously what are you expecting? Her to just forget about him at the drop of a hat? Look I know dames, and once they’re attached to a guy, that’s it, he’s all they think about, doesn’t matter if he’s dead, Will. He still has her heart.”

“That’s why I’m going to meet her, so I can help her to forget about him!” William argued defensively. “God damn I’ve never hated anyone as much as I hate him! Why did I have to create him in the first place? God I’m such an idiot!”

Justin and Jayce exchanged looks.

“How about this, you two can join me?” William suggested then after calming down. “Come on it will be fun, and I know you’ve been wanting to hang out for a long time now, Church. Why not seize this opportunity and come with me?”

Justin looked a little unsure for the moment, but Jayce on the other hand definitely seemed up for it.
“That sounds fun I’d certainly be up for that.” Jayce looked at Justin, who was apparently still in the midst of making up his mind.

“Well I had other plans.” Justin stated next. “But if it means that much to you, Will. Then I’ll go.”

Hearing this, William’s face seemed to brighten up with a kind of happiness he hadn’t felt in a long while.
“I’d ask Stan to join us but I haven’t seen the big guy around since I last ran into him.” Justin said. “Did you know he too has a secret gambling addiction?”

William’s eyes widened with curiosity. “Really? I never actually took him for the gambling type. What did he say when you saw him?”

Justin chuckled nervously. “He uh, well he was warning me about Morane’s goons. Said they were looking for me, and that I’d be safer here behind the fences.”

“That sounds serious as hell, church.” William commented sounding concerned. “Are you sure you’ll be safe at the Card Shack with me?”

Justin shrugged. “I don’t know. But the thing is, I wasn’t wearing my green uniform then like I am now. I was wearing a hat and a large overcoat over a dress shirt and slacks. Meaning, they probably wouldn’t recognize me now.”

“Yet Stan did.” William pointed out. “You don’t think somebody else could figure out who you are based on your height, voice, and face?”

“I’m sure they gave up by now.” Justin remarked, trying his best to sound as reassuring as possible. “So are we gonna go or not?”

“Yes.” William answered. “In fact we’re leaving right now for my place.”

But as soon as they started walking out of the infirmary, Rehema and Safiya were standing outside in the hall to greet them.

“Good to you see you up and moving again.” Rehema commented as Safiya clung to her hip. “I saw your commanding officer walk out earlier. Did you get to discuss plans for allowing Tjatey to join your forces?”

William suddenly felt a wave of guilt wash over him now, especially since he had forgotten all about it in the midst of his arguing with Lynne. Another opportunity wasted.

“No I’m sorry I didn’t yet.” William apologized. “She was already mad at me to begin with, so even mentioning such a thing would’ve set her off even more. I didn’t want to chance it. I’ll try again when she’s in a better mood I promise.” He gave a soft smile and then looked down at Safiya. “Stay with your mother, please. No more running off, you promise?”

Safiya nodded, and watched as William, Jayce, and Justin walked off down the corridor and disappeared around the corner.

Meanwhile, things appeared rather dead at the Card Shack, as Brian was the only one seated at the bar, having his usual glass of ice water and smoking a cigarette. Enrique was quiet as he played around with different drink mixes, trying to come up with new concoctions.

He had just finished setting a bottle of rum down on the counter, when he heard both Maxwell and Victoria walking into the lobby and looked up. There he could see Maxwell walking by carrying a large briefcase as he turned the corner and headed past the game room straight ahead. Victoria gave Enrique a sweet smile before she too disappeared into the game room behind Maxwell.
Enrique hated to admit it but he didn’t like the vibes he was getting from those two, especially from the one woman who had been nothing but kind to him since he started working there. He knew something strange was going on, but what?

“You ever get that feeling in your gut when something isn’t right?” Enrique asked Brian, as the young man flicked the ash buildup off his cigarette into the ashtray, and then looked up at him.

“What do you mean?” Brian gave the bartender an awkward look.

“Nevermind.” Enrique back peddled once he decided it probably wasn’t worth discussing, and then set back to work playing with his drink mixes. “How come you never order any alcohol? You know that’s what a bar is for, right?”

Brian gave him a blank stare in response. “Because I don’t drink? And no a bar is also for smoking.” He took a drag from his cigarette. “You care too much about what others do.”

“You act like caring about others is a bad thing.” Enrique commented before taking a test sip of one of his new mixes, just to scrunch his face up in disgust and spit it out into the sink.

“That’s another reason I don’t drink.” Brian remarked. “That shit tastes awful. People only down it to get drunk. What’s the point in that?”

Enrique grabbed a paper towel from the back counter and wiped his mouth. “Well some people consider that fun. What’s the harm in that?”

“None, but it ain’t for me.” Brian took a sip of water and set the glass back down before stubbing out his cigarette butt, then reaching for another out of his pack.

“Well it seems no different than your chain-smoking.” Enrique pointed out. “Some people don’t smoke because they hate the taste as well. By the way did you ever talk to that crazy old bat again?”

Brian groaned over the very mention of that woman. He had hoped he’d seen and heard the last of her, but it seems that wasn’t for long. “Yes I went back there.” Brian admitted regretfully. “Why the hell are you bringing her up?”

“Just curious to know if your issues were resolved.” Enrique shrugged. “From the looks of it, I wouldn’t think so.”

Brian lit his fresh cigarette and looked the other way. “By the way did you know the aliens are letting their children wander into the city now? I actually saved one of their children from getting hit by a car and kept her with me until her mother came looking for her.”

Enrique shot him a quizzical look. “Come again?”

“It’s true.” Brian confessed. “She was a little girl, maybe about forty inches tall, with pale gray skin and teal colored hair. She told me her name was Safiya and she had run away from her mother. I treated her to some hot chocolate and pastries, and you know what? She’d never had anything like it before. She never even had anything sweet because her mother wouldn’t allow it. But I saved her and we talked about death since she lost her father in that attack from a month ago. I actually felt good inside for a change, but once we found her mother I disappeared on her then.”

“Why did you leave?” Enrique wanted to know now.

Brian gave a slight shrug and sighed. “Because I didn’t want to face her mother, nor did I want any attention on me at all. I did a good deed and that’s that. I don’t need any awards or medals of honor for it. I just did it because it was the right thing to do.”

Enrique seemed a little surprised that this guy of all people would do something nice for someone else. And all this time he’d taken him for a selfish loner. But then he remembered when his mother once told him about how every single person is capable of both bad and good, and that it’s always been a choice.
“Doing bad or good is a choice.” Enrique mentioned then, repeating his mother’s wise words. “At least you chose to do something good. Do you hope to see her again one day?”

Brian seemed quick to shoot the very idea of that down right away. “Nah. She’s got her life and I’ve got mine. I’ve no room for anyone else.”

“You saved her life, she won’t forget you.” Enrique reminded him.

Just then, they suddenly heard loud chattering coming from the entrance, as three soldiers dressed in casual clothing walked into the lobby, heading for one of the tables near the back wall in front of the bar. Enrique instantly recognized the young soldier with blonde hair, as well as the tall one with dark blue hair wearing a dark blue dress suit. Enrique didn’t know who the third soldier was, but he assumed it was another friend of theirs.

“Well we’re here.” Justin announced taking a seat. “And hey check it out! This dump has a new floor. Took Graham long enough, didn’t it?”

Brian’s eyes widened with dread the moment he recognized that blonde teenager as that obnoxious loud mouth he’d run into a few days ago. “I know how he died!” Brian heard once again, as though his mind were trying to verify the unwanted reminder.

“Been forever since I been back here.” Jayce said, taking a seat next to Justin, who sat across from William.

The empty seat beside William had obviously been reserved for Victoria once she arrived.
“Thanks for coming with me you two.” William smiled gratefully. “Should I get us some drinks?”

Justin shook his head. “No way, Will. Like you’d even know what to order for this special occasion. Move over, Jayce.” Justin gestured at the red-headed private.”

“Well that’s my cue to leave.” Brian turned to Enrique after overhearing Justin, knowing that blonde menace was about to head over to where he was.
In turn, Enrique didn’t ask any questions, but neither was he left with any chance once Brian zipped out of the lobby lickety-split.

Brian breathed a sigh of relief once he made it outside, hoping that annoying jackass didn’t recognize him.

Back inside while Justin was ordering drinks for the three of them, William sighed with boredom, his eyes fixated on an orange glowing neon sign on the wall across the room.

Jayce didn’t seem very talkative either, especially since he didn’t know William that well to begin with. And while they had crossed paths a few times back then, they never had much of anything to say. Jayce figured it was because of his previous association with Private Mathis. After all, Eric had been an absolute bully, and Jayce realized he had acted no better by tagging along with him.

But once Justin returned with a tray of several shot glasses, Jayce knew things were about to get crazy.

“Time for a drinking game!” Justin announced deviously as he took his seat back and picked up one of the shot glasses. “Come on you two, grab your shots!”

Jayce and William did as instructed.

“What kind of a game is this now?” William asked furrowing his brow.

Justin smirked. “It’s simple. I’m gonna ask some questions and if the answer is yes, you drink the shot. Sound simple enough? Okay let’s begin!”

“I have a bad feeling about this already.” William rolled his eyes.

“Who here has ever been caught in the ladies dressing room?” Justin asked.

Surprisingly nobody drank their shot.

“None of us? Okay next question!” Justin continued. “Who here has ever been sent to the brig?”

“That’s you for sure.” William smirked. “Go on, drink it down.”

“Yep that’s me!” Justin chugged the shot down, along with Jayce.

“Oh no way!” Justin exclaimed looking at Jayce. “You too?”

Jayce chuckled. “Yeah, me, Mick, and Eric have all spent time in there.”

“Doesn’t surprise me.” William commented.

“Okay next question!” Justin announced grabbing another shot glass.

“Who here has ever had a relationship with someone from the base?”

William couldn’t help but stare daggers into Justin as he chugged his shot and set the empty glass down on the table.

Jayce looked mighty surprised as well.

“Damn you, Church.” William muttered angrily, scrunching his face up in disgust. “What is this disgusting crap anyways?”

“It’s absinthe.” Justin answered. “I figured it would help with that pain on your face. It still looks awful by the way. Are you gonna tell Victoria what really happened?”

William looked undecided for the moment.

“So who did you hook up with on the base?” Jayce asked next.

“That’s none of your business.” William answered crossly and then looked back at Justin. “Just ask the next question already.”

“You got it.” Justin nodded. “All right here goes. Who here has ever been in a fight?”

All three of them took shots.

“I’ve been Eric’s punching bag once or twice when you weren’t around, Church.” Jayce explained since all eyes were on him now.

“Sheesh, sorry to hear that.” Justin said offering his sympathy.

“Don’t worry we’re nothing like him.” William added reassuringly, in order to put the young private more at ease in his presence.

“Thanks.” Jayce smiled appreciatively.

“Oh my stars, you made it after all!” Victoria exclaimed excitedly just then, approaching their table, wearing a flashy dress.”And I see you’ve brought some friends along. How’re you fine fellas doing?”

“Fine, thank you.” Jayce answered.

“Yes fine.” William added unable to take his eyes off her now, when she suddenly noticed the right side of his face.

“Oh my word!” She gasped in shock.” What in the universe happened to you?”

William looked directly at Justin while he answered with, “I fell.”

Justin didn’t seem the least bit surprised that his best friend would lie about something like that. After all, it was embarrassing as hell to admit to someone you’re trying to win over, that you got your ass handed to you in a fight. Therefore Justin couldn’t blame him one bit for lying. He knew he would have done the same too.

“But your face is all cut up and bruised.” Victoria commented as she took a seat beside him and moved in closer for a better look. “Are you sure it was just a fall?”

William nodded. “I was drunk when it happened. You know how that is.”

“I do.” Victoria replied, and then reached down into her purse and pulled out a case of foundation, opened it, and began lightly dabbing some of it over the bruises on his face to hide them better.

Neither Justin nor Jayce could believe what they were seeing now, not to mention how magical that stuff appeared to be as it made the bruises on William’s face seemingly vanish.

“There, now that’s better.” Victoria smiled up at William as she gently stroked his face. “Nobody will be able to tell the difference.”

“Thank you.” William replied, utterly shocked over just how close she was to him now, as well as the fact he had just let her apply makeup to his face. This was something he never thought could ever happen to someone like him. And for the moment he wondered if it was luck or the universe was finally on his side for once.

Then she looked down and noticed the tray of drinking shots, especially the empty glasses. “Looks like you boys have been busy.”

“Oh yeah, we were playing a little drinking game before you got here.” Justin explained, seeing that William appeared nervous as hell.

“How fun.” Victoria said looking down at the two empty shot glasses in front of William, and then up at his face. “And just what are you guilty of?” She smirked.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Justin remarked with an impish grin, when he suddenly felt William kick him in the shin underneath the table. “It’s nothing really.” Justin corrected himself then.

“Oh sinners, aren’t we all?” Victoria laughed jokingly, nudging William in the arm. “Say, have any of you boys ever had Lobster Thermidor?”

Jayce, Justin, and William all shook their heads.

“No madam.” William replied. “Why do you ask?”

“Well that settles it! I’m taking you three out to dinner, my treat.” Victoria announced happily as she got up from her seat. “And we’re going to one of the finest restaurants there is in Gambler’s Strip.”

Jayce suddenly looked panic stricken. “But we’re soldiers, we aren’t even allowed in that part of the city!”

“Oh nonsense, sweetie.” Victoria waved her hand dismissively. “As long as you’re with me you can go anywhere you like. And besides, you fellas aren’t even dressed in your uniforms. Nobody there would even know the difference.”

“What about his hair?” Justin pointed out next, putting William on the spot.

“Like I said, as long as he’s with me nobody can touch him.” Victoria answered. “Now let’s get going before all the seats are taken. They do require you to make early reservations, but luckily I’ve got enough dough here they won’t dare turn us away. Speaking of which.” Victoria then hurried over to the bar and handed Enrique a stack of cash out of her purse.

“Miss Thompson?” Enrique’s eyes widened as he accepted it from her hand.

“No questions, Enrique dear, just take it. After all you’ve earned it.” She gave a wink before heading out of the building with the three soldiers.

Enrique sighed sadly as he looked down at the money, questioning just where it came from, when his thoughts went back to the moment he’d seen Maxwell walking inside with that large briefcase. He then recalled that it hadn’t been the first time he’d seen it either. And there was only one reason for keeping one as large like that, and it wasn’t for travel. The money. What else would such a greedy pendejo keep in it? Then he remembered seeing both of them together those two times he’d seen the briefcase. Wherever they were getting that money, she was in on it. She had to be.

He frowned as he put the money away in a safe spot, feeling completely conflicted inside. Am I going to have to call the cops on her? I really don’t want to. I know it’s the right thing to do but the last thing I want is to see her behind bars. Tears filled his eyes. She seems so much happier and alive now. Who would I be if I took that away from her? She would hate me for sure.

But the moment Maxwell came storming out of the game room, Enrique was quick to wipe his eyes and resume cleaning up.

“Miss Thompson?” Maxwell called out as he walked out into the lobby and started looking around.

“Enrique, where’s Miss Thompson?” He demanded to know now.

Enrique walked over to the empty booth to collect the tray and shot glasses. “She just left with some soldiers.” He explained. “Said she was taking them out to dinner in the city.”

The look on Maxwell’s face now was priceless. “Has she gone mad!?” He exclaimed in outrage clenching his fists at his sides.

“I wouldn’t know.” Enrique replied with carelessness as he carried the tray of glasses back over to the sink and began dumping them.

“You!” Maxwell stormed on after him, pointing his finger. “Why didn’t you stop her?”

“Because that’s not my job, Sir.” Enrique replied. “And not once have you ever told me it was my responsibility to control what she does. So if you’re going to fire me over this matter, then do it already and stop wasting my damn time.” He then pulled out the cash and flashed it at Maxwell. “I can afford to take care of my mother and siblings until I find a better job anyway.”

Maxwell clenched his teeth and snarled. “Fine, whatever! Do what you want! I’m going to my office!”

By this time, Victoria and the three soldiers were on their way to Gambler’s strip, riding in a black stretch limousine. Neither of them could hardly believe it either, especially Justin, who felt the need to remind William that it was a good thing his new girlfriend was loaded.

On the other hand, William seemed cool about the whole thing and just let it roll off of him, especially since Victoria wasn’t officially his girlfriend yet. And while he kind of wished it was just the two of them going out to dinner, he was glad to see Justin looking and sounding much like his old self.; for they both had felt dead to the universe for a long while and were just starting to enjoy life again.

“So where is this place anyways?” Justin asked next while admiring the sights outside the tinted windows.

“It’s inside the Ritz casino.” Victoria answered.

Justin just about had a heart attack now. “The Ritz?”

“That’s right.” She confirmed. “Why? Have you been there before?”

Justin chuckled nervously. “Does being a wanted man count?”

William shot Justin a quizzical look, when Victoria announced, “We’ve arrived!”

The limo stopped in front of the Ritz’s grand entrance and the driver got out and opened the doors for his four passengers. He was a much older man who seemed a bit taken aback by the appearance of William’s hair, yet Victoria was sure to tip him generously in order to keep him quiet.

“It’s just hair dye.” She told the driver as she grabbed a hold of William’s hand and then guided him and the others inside.

Justin was already praying that the casino owner wouldn’t recognize him, as the last time they’d been face to face, Justin had thrown a bucket over his head; obviously not something that easily forgotten. And then to make matters worse, they walked right by the very spot that last incident took place.

Justin could already see the casino owner moseying around, harassing patrons. Justin was quick to look the other way and start whistling, until the man noticed them and was quick to approach them.

“Might I ask what he is doing inside my place of business?” The owner looked accusingly at William of all people. Justin couldn’t believe it either.

“He’s with me, Mr. Grissom.” Victoria said with haughtiness as she pulled out some cash and waved it in front of his face. “Do you have problem with that?”

“Not at all, Miss.” The owner was quick to change his tune once money was in the picture.

“Now if you don’t mind, my friends and I would like the best seat there is.” She smiled wryly.

“Right this way, I’ll take you there myself.” The owner responded, sounding like a pathetic dog eager to get a bone from its master.

They were led into a fancy dining area where Justin had never even thought to check out before. Classical music was playing softly in the background as the three soldiers observed their new surroundings.

There were several others seated enjoying drinks and light meals. Justin knew only the richest in all the city could afford to dine here. After all, they were the ones who got to eat real meat and other fine staples, while the people of downtown Atlantis and the AMF got all the boring substitutes.

“Here you are.” Mr. Grissom gestured towards a fancy empty table of four chairs with candle light and a glass chandelier hanging over head.

“Thank you kindly.” Victoria responded sweetly by handing him the stack of cash. “Also make sure the others here do not disturb us.” She noticed the dirty looks the other people were firing in her direction, and then offered the casino owner even more money.

“As you wish, madam.” He happily accepted.

Then as they all began sitting down, William moved over and pulled out a chair for Victoria like a true gentleman. She thanked him kindly.

“They must teach you boys good manners in the military.” She smiled picking up a menu.

Justin and Jayce exchanged looks and laughed.

“So?” Victoria looked up from the menu smiling at them. “Shall we order some appetizers? Or are you boys ready for the main course?”

Back at City Hall, Morane had finished his last cigar for the time being and then glanced up at the clock on the wall behind him.

“Already a quarter past nine.” He said, now looking in Artis’s direction as the scientist was finishing up the repairs on the android, which included inserting a new tube of serum into its artificial veins.

“I’m finished.”Artis announced looking back at Morane. “Shall I activate him now or do you want to do it later?”

“I’ll do it myself after I’ve had dinner.” Morane responded, annoyed by the sound of his growling tummy. “I think I’ll take a trip on over to the Ritz and have me a plate of some nice juicy rib eye steak. Care to join me, Artis?” He offered. “After all your hard work, surely you must have whipped up an appetite for steak?”

Artis wasn’t sure how to respond to such an offer, especially being this was the man who had lopped off one of his fingers and then sat making crude jokes on his behalf the entire time he was trying to work. And now this man has the nerve to invite him out for dinner? The audacity!

“I can’t say I’m very hungry at all.” Artis sighed as he began collecting all his tools and placing them back into his tool box. “I appreciate the offer but I’d really like to get back to Atlantech. I’ve go—“

“You’re coming with me!” Morane sneered. “You’re going to eat steak with me and you’re going to like it, now let’s go!”

Artis had no choice but to accept now, or else it might just cost him another finger, or even a whole hand.

“All right.” Artis agreed reluctantly as he stood back up, unaware of just how long of a night it was going to be now.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
2 months 1 week ago #27744

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Replied by jeanie on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Now I want dinner.
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2 months 5 days ago #27786

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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

lol steak or lobster? The next chapter won't take as long to post and so far it's been a blast to write.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
2 months 4 days ago #27790

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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Chapter 13

“Stephen Everett”, Lynne addressed the guard by his full name as she stood outside the cell door now. There was an uneasy feeling of déjà vu as the guard peered out at her from the cell door’s barred window.

“Yes?” He answered in a callous tone, as though he was trying to sound intimidating.

“Don’t you dare give me that tone, Mr. Everett.” Lynne replied crossly. “The last time I stood outside this door, there was a man on the other side of it far more dangerous than you could ever be.”

“Private Winston.” The guard answered, watching as her eyes widened with utter surprise that he knew exactly who she’d been referring to.“I was one of the guards, along with my brother that apprehended him on the day he’d beaten Private Mathis to a bloody pulp.”

Lynne gave a sigh and briefly closed her eyes. “I’m sorry about your loss.”

“His name was Ivan.” The guard rudely corrected her. “At least address him properly!”

“I’m sorry about Ivan’s loss.” Lynne corrected herself, trying to keep her own anger in check. “But you’re in here because you chose to assault Corporal Sterling. Now you mind explaining to me what your reasoning for that might be?”

The guard clenched his jaw at the sound of William’s name. “Because he was acting like an asshole, threatening me, when I had done nothing wrong!”

Lynne shook her head at him. “I spoke with Corporal Sterling in the infirmary a while ago, and he said that you had deliberately allowed a child to walk outside the fences and into the city. Corporal Sterling said that he was leaving to report your insubordinate act to the admiral, and that’s when you attacked him. Am I right or am I wrong?” She crossed her arms.

“He attacked me first when I admitted what I’d done.” The guard explained then. “Slammed me against the fence!”

“But why would you do such a thing, Mr. Everett?” Lynne asked next. “Why would you put an innocent child in harm’s way? Do you think Ivan would have approved of such a vile act? Or do you think he would also feel ashamed of you?”

Lynne could tell she hit a nerve with this man since he’d grown quiet.

“So am I being discharged or what?” The guard asked then, choosing to ignore her question.

“If it were up to me you would be.” She answered curtly. “But I’m afraid that’s for the admiral to decide.”
And just when she’d thought she heard enough out of the man, that’s when he decided to put her on the edge even more with his comments.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Morane was always right about you people.”

“Excuse me?” She replied in disbelief.

“You heard me the first time.” The guard chided. “I never saw it for myself until after the second time those alien savages tried to kill us all. So are you all just sitting around waiting for round three to happen or what? Or are our lives so meaningless to you, that you’d give them another free pass to continue living among us? We’re not safe as long as they’re here, why not have Atlantech build them a ship and send them far away if you don’t want to kill them? But I still think its best that we do.”

Hearing this, Lynne couldn’t even begin to find the words to describe how angry and insulted she felt. Yet among the slew of emotions there was also guilt; mainly because she too had wondered if they might be safer without the Tjatey around. But she also knew killing them wasn’t the answer.
“I’ll discuss the matter with the admiral and get back to you later.” She informed him before storming on out of there as fast as her legs would move.

She felt nothing for that guard, not even pity. As far as she could tell he was just another dangerous man that would need to be eliminated from the base before he could cause anyone else any harm, and she would do whatever it took to see that he was.

But as she was making her way down the long corridor which led back into the lobby, her mind drifted back to her talk with William earlier, and how it was possible that guard wasn’t the only one still harboring hatred towards them and the Tjatey. It made her wonder just how many others possibly felt the same way, and if they were simply waiting for an opportunity like that guard had to exact revenge.
She had just about passed the wall memorial in the lobby, when she was prompted to stop and turn around so she could look at it once again for the umpteenth time.

The sepia toned portraits of the fallen on that wall raised a lot of questions now. She even recognized the guard’s brother Ivan in the top row of the portraits. Below him were the portraits of Mick Situp and Eric Mathis, which made her think of Private Fancy.

Lynne remembered the time she had spoken to him briefly a few weeks after their funerals. He expressed much of the same animosity and hatred as that guard did; even claiming that Justin, William, and Stan should have been the ones on that wall instead of his friends. And now she had to wonder if he too was planning some kind of revenge.

She’d last seen him standing right beside Justin in the infirmary outside of William’s room. But unlike her previous memory of him, Jayce seemed very different this time around; almost as though he were an entirely new person. But looks could be deceiving, and for all she knew he was simply biding his time and gaining their trust until he got either Justin or William alone somewhere.
She knew he wouldn’t dare try anything on Stan, but still the thought of more violence among them was reason enough for her to keep a watchful eye on private Fancy as well as everyone else. Trust appeared to be a thing of the past as it were, and there was no telling what might happen next.

But for the time being, Jayce, along with Justin and William, seemed to be having the time of their lives at the Ritz casino, especially once their dinner arrived and they began to dig in. The lobster thermidor Victoria had ordered was served on a large round platinum tray, and placed in the center of the table. She had also ordered a bottle of specialty red wine to go along with their meal.

“This is really something else.” Justin commented after taking his first bite. “Are these lobsters from the man-made lake?”

“No, they’re actually harvested indoors inside one of Morane’s factories.” Victoria answered sipping wine from her glass. “The poor things are boiled alive as well. That’s why they come out looking so bright red.”

Justin appeared both disturbed yet amused by this. “Talk about your third degree burn, ouch!”

“I really like this sauce.” Jayce said. “What’s in it?”

“That’s a white wine sauce.” Victoria explained. “It’s a mixture of wine, heavy cream, parmesan, and some rosemary. Do they not serve lobster on your base?”

“Are you kidding?” Justin remarked. “They don’t even serve us real meat in the mess hall, just this nasty bean curd protein substitute.”

“Is this true?” Victoria looked at William, who was seated next to her.

He nodded in response while quietly chewing his food. Justin could tell he was trying a little too hard to win her over with his good manners.

“So this is what it’s like being rich, huh?” Jayce asked her then. “I always wondered what showbiz was like.”

“Are you kidding me?” she scoffed. “It’s a ruthless industry. All work and no play. Why, I’m even fortunate to have tonight off. I’m just so darn busy these days.”

“That’s the military for you as well.” Justin said, talking with a mouth full of food. “We’re always training and preparing, but mostly slacking off since there’s no real war to fight. Us soldiers become lazy after a while, right Will?”

William nodded and took a sip from his glass.

But while Victoria was appreciative of his politeness, she began to wonder why he wasn’t saying much at all.
“Are you always this quiet?” She asked then, prompting him to stop from taking another sip from his glass.

“Sometimes.” William answered. “But I am having a good time if that’s what you’re wondering?”
She smiled softly and patted his hand. “I’m glad you are.”

“I think he’s just shy.” Justin chimed in, stuffing another forkful of lobster into his mouth. “He’s just not used to a pretty gal like you giving him attention at all.”

Victoria couldn’t help but giggle. “Are you telling me there aren’t any pretty gals back on your base?”

“Pretty? Sure, but only when they’re not chewing your head off.” Justin retorted.

“Well I think all three of you are very handsome.” Victoria stated. “And very well mannered, nothing at all like the men of this city.” She sighed.

There was a brief moment of silence, when all of a sudden Jayce let out a really loud burp.

“Oh my!” Victoria giggled with amusement, when Justin also burped aloud and it suddenly turned into an all out burping contest between them all. Even Victoria allowed herself to join in on the fun and let out a fairly loud burp.

Everyone else inside the restaurant instantly shot disgusted looks their way for disturbing the peace.

“Yeah we’re well mannered all right.” Justin remarked, laughing.

“I can’t believe how much fun I’m having.” Victoria giggled, sounding a bit tipsy already. “I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in ages, you boys are a hoot!”

William couldn’t help but smile.

“Well I think this wine is going to my bladder.” Jayce announced ruining the moment, before standing up from his seat. “Where’s the bathroom at?”

“Right down that way, sweetie.” Victoria pointed out. “The men’s restroom is on the right.”

“Thanks!” He replied gratefully and then walked off in that direction.

Victoria sighed happily, wishing this night would never end. “The four of us will have to get together again one of these nights. There’s so much to do and see in the city. Why, there’s even a carnival taking place in the fall. Of course that’s several months away from now, but it’s a must for us.”

Justin then recalled the last time he visited that carnival when he was eight years old, back when his father was still trying to find his way in life.

“I haven’t been there since I was a kid.” He mentioned. “Do they still have that rollercoaster?”

“I believe so.” She answered pouring herself another glass of wine. “I’ve never ridden it. I’ve always been too scared.”

Then she suddenly felt a comforting hand on her right shoulder and turned her head to see William looking into her eyes.

“We can ride it together then.” He suggested smiling at her. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

“Aww, you’re too sweet. I’d like that very much.” She smiled back, and then offered him more wine as well as Justin.

Both of them happily accepted, even though William could tell she’d been keeping up a barrier between them, as though she were trying not to let herself get too close. Still, her smiles were genuine and he could tell she at least liked him.

However at that moment, Julius Morane and Artis Frederic had just walked inside the building where they were greeted by a host and then shown to a table inside the restaurant. But before they even sat down, Jayce Fancy had walked out of the men’s room after washing his hands at the basin, and that’s when he spotted Morane and that other man he met briefly back at Atlantech with Justin.

What’s that guy doing here with Morane? Jayce wondered as he stood in the background, trying his best not to appear too obvious. He watched as the two men were seated at a table not far from his own party’s, and wondered if Justin happened to see this as well.

“Oh man, this is the best red wine I’ve ever had.” Justin commented picking up the bottle so he could read the label.

“That’s one of the Ritz’s specialty wines.” Victoria answered. “Every casino here in Gambler’s Strip has its own brand that can only be purchased inside their respective buildings.”

“I bet this stuff ain’t cheap either.” Justin remarked setting the bottle back down.

“Oh heavens no.” Victoria chuckled. “That’s a three-hundred dollar bottle. Some of them cost thousands, just for the solid gold label alone.”

“Yikes.” Justin went slack-jawed then. “No wonder downtown Atlantis gets all the cheap booze. Speaking of cheap, what are you doing spending your time at the Card Shack? Not that I’m prying or anything, some of us just happened to notice you coming in and out of there more often. Are you working there now or what?”

“Sort of.” She gave a half shrug in response. “I play the part of a cheap tart to lure the guys in, because nobody wants to see Maxwell Graham in a skimpy dress.”

Justin snorted at the thought of that.

“But really it’s not much of a job at all.” She continued. “More like a favor I owe him since he is my former agent.” Then she noticed Jayce hadn’t gotten back yet. “Not to change the subject but your friend either fell in the commode or he’s passed out on the floor somewhere. One of you might want to check on him to be sure.”

“I’ll go.” Justin volunteered himself as he stood up, just so William could have some alone time with Victoria, even if for only a few minutes. “Be back in a flash!” Justin took off, heading in the direction of the restrooms.

Victoria sighed again as she picked up her glass and took another sip. “Just the two of us now. I do hope your red-headed friend is all right.”

“I’m sure he’s fine.” William replied with reassurance. “He’s probably just a light-weight since alcohol is prohibited on the base.”

“It is?” She jerked her head in his direction. “What do you men even do for fun there?”

“We have to leave the premises to have any kind of fun at all.” He answered, beginning to feel a little drunk himself now as well as nervous. “Either that or we have to take the sneaky route and smuggle things in.”

“Like your booze?” She asked

He nodded, taking another sip from his glass.

“And your women?” She then teased, nearly causing him to choke on his drink.

Meanwhile, Justin was busy scouring around for Jayce. He first checked the men’s restroom, expecting to find him passed out on the floor in there, but there was no sign of him anywhere. Not even in the stalls. Only once Justin walked back out, he was suddenly grabbed by the high collar of his green dress shirt, and yanked around the corner of the wall.

Panicked, Justin whirled around just to breathe a sigh of relief when he realized his surprise captor was none other than Jayce himself, who was looking rather shell-shocked for the moment.

“What the hell, Jayce?” Justin huffed angrily, making a fist. “What’s gotten into you?”

“Shut up and look.” Jayce answered quietly, grabbing and turning Justin’s head in the direction of Morane and Artis’s table.

“Oh shit.” Justin’s jaw dropped at the sight of seeing the very man who wanted him dead, as well as the other man he had come to accept like a stand-in for his own father.

“What is he doing having dinner with Count Dracula?” Jayce asked.

“I have no idea.” Justin replied feeling beyond betrayed now. “We’re gonna need to get closer somehow, so we can eavesdrop on their conversation and find out what this is all about.”

“What do you suggest?” Jayce asked as the wheels were beginning to turn inside Justin’s head.

“Okay here’s the plan.” Justin mentioned. “You go on back and tell Victoria you want to order dessert. If she or Will asks about me, just tell them I’m in the bathroom and I’ll be out soon. Ask for more wine too, keep them distracted as long as you can. I’m going to try and sneak my way under that empty table next to Morane and Artis so I can listen in on their conversation.”

“Why do you have to eavesdrop on those two in the first place?” Jayce wanted to know now.

“Because there’s a huge possibility that Artis is a traitor.” Justin answered furrowing his brow in Artis’s general direction. “Not to mention he’s more likely to recognize me than he is to recognize you. So I have to be the one to do this.”

Jayce nodded his understanding. “I Gotcha.”

“Go on back now.” Justin instructed while he watched as the two men browsed through their menus.
Justin was deeply angered by what he saw, and it was almost too tempting for him to march right over there and call Artis out in front of everyone in the restaurant. But such a stupid move would only expose himself to Morane, so it was better that he take the rational approach instead.

Then carefully, he dropped down to the ground, and began slowly crawling his way in between the rows of tables that were situated across from where Morane and Artis sat. Justin froze in place right as a server walked right past him, nearly stepping on his right hand as he jerked it out of the way in time.

That was a close one, Justin sighed with relief as he continued making his way to that empty table and dove underneath the long white tablecloth. He then situated himself in a more tolerable position, pulling his knees up to his chin and locking his arms around his legs as though to remain completely still.
It wasn’t too dark underneath there, but Justin knew there was a high probability of some people being seated there soon, especially since all the other tables began to fill up now. Justin could tell just by the volume increase of chatter alone, which at times drowned out the voices of Morane and Artis, making them near possible to hear. Although whenever Justin heard an F bomb drop, he was positive it was coming from the one and only dictator of Atlantis City.

While on the other hand, Jayce had returned to their table and requested dessert. Victoria happily obliged and allowed Jayce and William to pick out whatever they wanted. And neither did William or Victoria seem too concerned with Justin’s whereabouts, especially since they appeared too busy stealing glances at one another along with drunken flirting. Jayce appeared to be the only one who was still sober.

He did however, keep looking over his shoulder at Artis and Morane, hoping that Justin would be able to get the information he needed from them without being caught. Although it didn’t take long for William to catch on to Jayce’s obsessive compulsive behavior and interrogate him.

“Why do you keep looking behind you.” William mentioned. “Is it Justin?”

Jayce shook his head. “Nah, just checking out some attractive broad is all. Dessert should be arriving any minute now.”

Victoria chuckled. “Anxious to try that chocolate mousse are we?”

“You bet!” Jayce winked. “How about yourself? I forget, what did you order?”

“I’m not in the mood for sweets.” Victoria answered picking up the half empty bottle of wine, pouring herself another glass. “I’ve got to watch my figure.”

“But you have a nice figure.” William complimented her, wrapping his left arm around her shoulders.”We can share my dessert if you want.”

She blushed and giggled. “You are so drunk, Mr. Sterling. Are you always this handsy when you drink?”

“I’m just having a wonderful time.” He smiled and caressed her free hand as it lay flat on the table.

“Oh get a room you two.” Jayce quipped and then peered over his shoulder again, observing as Morane and Artis began eating their meal, whatever it was.

From underneath the empty table, Justin continued listening. He could hear some talking in between bites of their food. He also picked up on the way Morane kept chiding Artis, almost as if the man was there against his will.

“Don’t be so fucking uptight.” Morane scolded taking a sip of champagne. “None of those military assholes are here, so you can stop acting like a frigid wife and enjoy your meal.”

Artis sighed and took a small bite of his steak, trying to force himself to enjoy his dinner. “I apologize I’m just tired is all. Ready to call it a night soon if you don’t mind?”

“Oh but I do.” Morane was quick to shut him down. “And you ain’t leaving here until I say you can.”

Justin growled under his breath as he listened, beginning to feel sorry for Artis now. The guy might be a traitor but he doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment. Nobody does.

“More champagne?” Morane asked next, picking up the bottle.

Artis politely declined then went back to cutting up his steak into bite sized chunks.

“Suit yourself.” Morane quipped, taking a bite of his own steak, smothering the piece in a pool of leftover brown gravy from his mashed potatoes. Then after he finished the last bite, he picked up his napkin and wiped his mouth clean. “Too bad Stan isn’t here to join us. I think he’d love it.”

Stan? Justin’s eyes narrowed. That’s gotta be some kind of coincidence. It’s a common name in this city, right?

Artis said nothing more as he quietly finished his dinner. He prayed the night would be over soon.
Not a minute after, Justin heard a group of people approaching his table and he began to panic.

“Here you are.” Announced the host to a group of four; two men and two women. “Your server shall be with you shortly.”

“Thank you.” One of the men replied taking a seat.

“Ah shit”, Justin grumbled under his breath once he realized he was surrounded by legs. How the hell am I going to get out of here unnoticed now?

“Your friend sure has taken a long time in the restroom.” Victoria mentioned to Jayce then. “You think he’s passed out?”

“I’ll go check on him after I finish my dessert.” Jayce replied, stuffing a spoonful of chocolate mousse and whipped cream into his mouth.

Victoria smirked with amusement as she lit a cigarette. “Seems I’m the only one able to drink the rest of you under the table.”

“You must have a bladder made of steel.” Jayce commented. “You haven’t had a single bathroom break since we’ve been here. Where are you keeping it all?”

Victoria chuckled playfully while taking a drag from her cigarette. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“I haven’t had any breaks either.” William chimed in with a drunken smile plastered across his face, as he toyed with his bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Jayce couldn’t believe how sloshed they both were.

“How many glasses of wine have you had?” Jayce asked William now, who looked like he could hardly sit up straight.

“I’ve lost count.” William answered stifling his laughter as he picked up his glass and took another swig.

Jayce shook his head at them.

“Don’t worry he won’t be driving you fellas back tonight.” Victoria joked while lovingly stroking William’s face and gazing into his eyes.

With the looks those two were giving each other, Jayce was half expecting them to start necking in front of everyone.

But in the meantime, Justin was still stuck underneath that table trying to come up with an exit plan. It had been several minutes since he’d last heard Morane or Artis’s voice, and began to believe that it was possible they had already left. But of course he couldn’t be too sure of that, especially since most of the outside noise had been completely drowned out from the voices above him.

The two men were especially loud, while the women had much softer voices. They were dressed nice, with one of the women wearing a sparkly blue dress that cutoff at her knees, practically exposing her undergarments as far as Justin could see.

What a nice set of gams, Justin thought checking out the woman’s legs, when an idea suddenly dawned on him.
There was laughter and giggling coming from above, when all of a sudden Justin reached out and touched the woman’s leg, causing her to freak out.

“Did you just touch my leg?” The woman then accused one of the men sitting across from her. Justin started snickering.

“No of course not!” The man answered defensively. “If I did it was an accident I assure you.”

Justin cupped a hand over his mouth and snickered, and then proceeded to touch her leg again.

“I said stop it, Harry!” The woman exclaimed madly. “I’m not in the mood!”

“But it wasn’t me!” The man argued. “Was it you, George?”

“Nope, sure wasn’t me.” The man’s friend replied.

“Then who is touching my leg!?” The woman snapped. “Was it you, Ethel?”

“Of course not!” The woman’s friend answered. “Perhaps it’s the table cloth. It is rather long you know?”

Justin now had tears in his eyes from laughing so hard.

“I know darn well what a tablecloth feels like, Ethel!” The woman exclaimed. “And what I felt is a damned hand. This darn place must be haunted!”

“I think you’ve taken too many crazy pills today, Maurine.” One of the men responded then, as Justin began to crawl out from under the table, making his way to the next empty one behind them, when all of a sudden, the man sitting on the end dropped a fork on the floor and reached down to pick it up, just to come face to face with Justin.

“It was you!” The man seethed at Justin, clenching his fist.

Justin immediately sprung to his feet and took off running.

“You little pervert get back here!” The angry man yelled after him, getting up from his seat as though to chase after him.

Nearly out of breath, Justin ran back to the table with his friends and dove behind William’s chair to hide.

“Whoa, why were you running?” William asked him.

Justin couldn’t believe how bloodshot his friend’s eyes were. He’d never seen William so drunk before in all the time he had known him.

“No time to explain, we have to leave now.” Justin answered urgently in between breaths, while peering out from behind William’s chair for any sign of that angry man.

“Oh okay, is it past curfew?” William asked.

Justin spotted a clock on the wall behind them and looked at the time. It was now twenty till midnight.
“Twenty till.” Justin answered. “It’ll be close but we’ll make it.”

“Oh don’t leave now.” Victoria whined as she clung onto William’s arm, wrinkling up the fabric in the process. “I’m having such a lovely time I don’t want it to end now.”

Justin couldn’t help but roll his eyes. He was thankful that Jayce was at least still sober enough, because he would definitely need his help in getting William back to the base.

“Sorry doll, but we’ve got to get back before we get in trouble with our commanding officer.” Justin apologized to her. “You have no idea how venomous that woman can be.”

“Oh screw her.” Victoria quipped then, refusing to let go of William’s arm. “He wants to stay with me, don’t you, sweetface?”

William nodded in his drunken state of mind, smiling at her like a lovesick fool while she caressed his face and kissed him on the cheek.

Seeing this, Justin could tell William had become putty in this woman’s hands to the point she could probably convince him to do anything she wanted. It was both amusing and pathetic.

“In fact I think he’d rather come home with me tonight.” Victoria mentioned next, which immediately set off alarm bells inside Justin’s head, especially once he heard William respond with, “I’d like that very much.”

Even Jayce was equally just as shocked, as his mouth hung open looking to Justin for answers.

“Okay it’s definitely time to go, Will!” Justin intervened, grabbing his friend by his other arm, while nodding at Jayce to get over there and assist him.

“Hey, what’s the big idea?” William groaned, practically toppling over as both Justin and Jayce stood on either side of him, trying to stand him up.

“We’re saving your ass from making a horrible mistake.” Justin quipped, throwing William’s right arm around his neck, while Jayce grabbed his left.

“You’re leaving me?” Victoria cried out, attempting to stand up herself while reaching out for William’s hand.

“Look, you’re a swell dame and all, but Will isn’t normally like that.” Justin replied apologetically. “He’s never been this drunk before in all his life.”

Hearing his caused Victoria to frown, especially once she noticed that William had now passed out, and both Justin and Jayce were practically dragging him around.

“Thanks for dinner and dessert though.” Jayce thanked her kindly. “It’s been fun but we have to leave now.”

Victoria still had that pouty look on her face as she reached into her purse and then handed them some cash. “For your ride back home.” She offered.

“Keep your money, we’ve got it from here.” Justin declined, as he and Jayce started dragging William out of the building.

Justin didn’t even care whether or not Morane or Artis saw him at all now. All he cared about was getting the three of them back to the base before curfew, especially now that he was committed to turning over a new leaf and being more responsible. He also knew there was a chance that William would hate him for coming between him and Victoria as well. But on the other hand, Justin knew William wasn’t the type to just go home with any woman, and he knew that if he had let him go with Victoria that night, he’d regret it forever. They were both drunk as it was, which made it even more wrong in Justin’s eyes, but he knew William would have done the same for him.

Soon after, they hailed a cab and were on their way back downtown. William was muttering incoherent babble in between waking up and passing back out while Jayce remained quiet the entire ride back home. Justin knew this had been a long night for all of them and he was ready for it to be over with. They all were.

Getting back to the base on time wasn’t the issue, but once they reached the front door of William’s bungalow they had to prop him up against the door like a dummy while the two of them searched his pants pockets for the key. It was something neither Justin nor Jayce took any joy in, especially when William suddenly came to and began freaking out, demanding to know where he was and what they were doing.

“Calm down already, you’re home.” Justin answered tiredly, when he finally found the key and pulled it out.

“Ow my head.” William groaned as he placed the back of his palm against his brow and winced. “What time is it?”

“Most likely ten after twelve.” Jayce replied taking the key from Justin’s hand, unlocking and pushing the front door open.

“Where is she?” William then looked around for the sight of his beloved.

“Hopefully safe and sound at home.” Justin answered, helping him back up to his feet along with Jayce as they led him right to his sofa and sat him down.

Jayce closed the door behind them and took a seat in the living chair, while Justin collapsed onto the floor on his backside and lay there sprawled out.

“What a night.” He groaned.

“I don’t remember much at all.” William yawned. “But whatever happened has left me with a pounding headache.”

“I’ll get you an icepack, hold on.” Justin then got off the floor,walked into the kitchenette, and opened the freezer door but it was empty. “Okay scratch that since you have no ice pack. So what now?”

“I’ve always heard that scrambled eggs can absorb the alcohol.” Jayce mentioned. “Check his fridge and see if he has any.”

“Okay then.” Justin replied opening the fridge, and pulled out a small carton of eggs. “Uh, how do we make these again? I’m a scientist not a chef.”

“You just fry them I think.” Jayce replied in a sleepy voice. “I can’t remember if you use cooking oil or not. I only know from watching my mom cook.”

“Yeah, not helping.” Justin muttered as he pulled out a frying pan and turned on one of the burners.

“Whatever you’re doing, please don’t burn down my home.” William pled from the sofa as he lay there with his eyes closed, listening to all the commotion going on in the kitchen.

Justin groaned as he set to work cracking the eggs, while unsure of how many it would take to produce a large enough serving to absorb all the alcohol from William’s system. He estimated at least three, when it suddenly dawned on him that this was the first time he had ever cooked any real food at all. Especially since he usually relied on meals served from the mess hall, as well as ready-to-eat processed snack foods. So this was something new and kind of exciting.

“So what happened tonight anyway?” William asked while Justin was busy stabbing at the frying eggs with a spatula.

“You were drunk off your ass for one.” Justin answered. “And two, you almost did something really stupid.”

William’s face flushed with panic. “What?”

“You almost spent the night with her.” Justin replied, half expecting William to react in an angry and bitter manner for stopping that from happening. But he didn’t seem to react that way at all.

“Oh my god.” William exclaimed, just loud enough to awaken Jayce from his snooze.

“Yeah, exactly.” Justin nodded while wondering when the eggs would be scrambled enough.

William uttered a deep sigh as he sat back up. “I can’t believe it. What the hell had gotten into me?”

“Hormones and alcohol.” Jayce yawned stretching his arms. “Imagine the shock if you had woken up in her bed?”

William buried his face into his hands and groaned. “I can never drink like that again. No matter what, you hear? No matter what!”

“Hear you loud and clear.” Justin answered approaching him with a plate of what appeared to be a mass of scrambled eggs. “Eat this it should help.”

William stared down at the plate, reluctant to take a single bite of the goopy looking burnt mess in front of him.

“Yeah sorry I ain’t no five star chef.” Justin quipped taking a seat next to William on the sofa. “It was my first time cooking eggs. Some credit would be nice.”

“Only if he doesn’t end up with food poisoning.” Jayce remarked, which only made William even more nervous about eating them.

“I think my hangover is gone anyway.” William set the plate of eggs down onto the coffee table, and then leaned back into the sofa. “Thank you both.” He said groggily. “Not just for pulling me out of that bad situation, but for being there with me. You’re both good friends to have. Even if you can’t cook eggs worth a damn.” William turned his head and looked at Justin. “It’s the thought that counts.”

“If you won’t eat them then I will.” Justin said picking up the plate. “The only reason I was more sober than you, is because I saw something in that restaurant I’ll never forget.”

“What did you see?” William asked then.

“Well, first of all, you have to promise that you won’t say a single word to Lynne, no matter what.” Justin replied taking a bite of the eggs. “Needs more salt I think, but overall not bad.”

William looked fearful as he sat back up. “What do you mean? Please tell me this isn’t another doomsday scenario.”

“It’s not, but it’s equally bad.” Justin explained. “But you have to promise me you won’t say a word about it to anyone else.”

William groaned in annoyance. “Fine, I won’t say a word. Now what is it?”

“I saw Morane.” Justin said taking another bite and then setting the plate back down on the table. “But he wasn’t alone, Artis Frederic from Atlantech was there with him. They were having dinner and talking.”

“What about?” William asked. “And is that why you disappeared for so long?”

Justin nodded. “I was hiding underneath the table next to them, doing a little eavesdropping. I had to find out if Artis is a traitor or not.”

“And is he?” William wanted to know next, to which Justin gave a shrug in response.

“I couldn’t tell exactly.” Justin sighed. “It was also too noisy to make out all the details, but it sounded like the man was there against his will. Makes me wonder what that was all about? There was also this mention of how it was too bad Stan wasn’t with them, and I don’t know, but it gave me the worst vibe if you know what I mean?”

William couldn’t help but shake his head at him. “Not this again.” He groaned. “I thought we had gotten past this the first time you said you didn’t trust the guy. But you sure flipped your script after he saved your ass from Private Mathis, didn’t you?”

“I’m not saying it’s him at all!” Justin argued back. “I’m just saying I didn’t like the vibe it gave me. No way in hell am I going to accuse Stan of siding with Morane. We both know that’s the last thing he’d do. He’d beat the piss out of that loser before ever taking his side. It just left me with an unsettling feeling, that’s all.”

“All right I get it.” William said apologetically. “And for your sake I hope Artis isn’t a traitor. But we also know that Atlantech’s technology is what powers the entire city, so maybe that’s what their meeting was about?”

“I don’t know.” Justin sighed deeply. “But I’m far too tired to care for the moment, so I’m just gonna head home now if you don’t mind?”

“Me too.” Jayce announced as he got up from the chair.

“Fine by me.” William replied. “I think we all need a good night’s rest after tonight.”

Both Jayce and Justin headed for the front door, when Justin stopped and looked back at William.

“Thanks for not chewing my head off for stopping you from sleeping with Victoria. I just know what she means to you, and I know it’s more than some drunken one-night stand neither of you would remember.”

“He would have passed out before anything happened honestly.” Jayce chimed in.

“Probably.” Justin chuckled opening the door. “Anyways, good night, Will.”

“Goodnight to you both.” William called after them as they shut the door, before collapsing back onto his sofa, when he suddenly smelled the faint smell of gasoline in the air and leapt onto his feet, hurrying into the kitchen where he noticed one of the burners had been left on.

“Dammit, Church.” He muttered to himself, quickly shutting it off, when his sister suddenly walked out of her room half asleep, griping about the smell.

“What the hell did you burn this time?” Alley rolled her eyes, about to light a cigarette when William reached out and yanked the lighter out of her hand.

“Don’t even think about it.” He warned her. “If you’re going to smoke either do it outside or go back to your room. We don’t need the kitchen blowing up at this hour.

Alley huffed as she yanked the lighter from his hand. “Fine, I’ll go outside. Happy?”

“Whatever.” William groaned as he made his way back to the sofa and lay down. He turned over on his side and closed his eyes trying to fall asleep but couldn’t.

He groaned as he sat back up, just in time to see his sister heading back inside when she stopped and he looked directly at her with a frown on his face.

“What?” She responded with a blank stare. “I smoked outside like you asked.”

“It’s not that.” He sighed. “I guess I just wish you didn’t hate me so much. We never talk and you’re always hiding in your room whenever you’re home. And I know how you feel about our mother, but do you have to hate me too?”

Alley didn’t seem to have much of a response, but surprised William just the same once she plopped herself down next to him on the sofa, even though she still kept a bit of distance between them.

“Look, I don’t hate you, okay?” She crossed her arms and turned her head in his direction. “This is just how I am and how I prefer to be. I don’t like being social, never have. But it was never about hate. Even if you used to pull the hell out of my hair when we were kids, and made fun of me every chance you got. Mom made me wear those stupid dresses and you always laughed at me for being pissed about it.”

William began to remember all the times he had picked on Alley when they were growing up, realizing that her anger towards him was more than justifiable now.

“I’m sorry for all of it.” He apologized then, trying his best to show her that he meant it. “I wasn’t the best brother to you and I’m sorry. I mean, could you ever find it in your heart to forgive me?”

She scoffed in response as she picked up one of the decorative pillows and tossed it at him playfully. “Like I’ve got a heart to begin with.”

“Well can we at least get along from here on out?” He asked as he threw the pillow right back at her.

“I suppose.” She answered as she caught it, when she suddenly remembered a fond memory of them playing tag on the base and getting in trouble. “Hey remember that time we were playing tag and I accidentally hid in the men’s locker room?”

“Vaguely.” William replied as he tried to recall that day.

“Well you thought I was inside the girl’s locker room the entire time and didn’t bother coming to find me.” She said laughing. “Meanwhile I’m scaring all these guys half to death because I’ve just seen them all half naked. Man what a rush that was.”

William shook his head at her and chuckled. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d ever seen her smile or laugh like this. But he was glad she seemed more open to some communication between them.

“Mom was so pissed.” Alley marveled with a grin. “She wasn’t even sure how to discipline us.”

William gave a half shrug in response. “She did her best you know?”

“When she wasn’t acting like a tart.” Alley quipped getting back up. “Good thing she learned how to use protection or else, there would have been a lot more of us.”

“Yeah.” William agreed trying to hide the fact he was actually appalled by her words.

“Well I’m going back to bed now.” She announced then heading back to her room. “Try not to burn anything else in the meantime.” She called back before her door shut closed once again; enabling the barrier between them once again.

“I won’t” William groaned as he fell back against the sofa once more and shut his eyes, hoping he would finally fall asleep for good this time.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
Last edit: 1 month 2 weeks ago by LadyGrimes.
1 month 2 weeks ago #27833

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Replied by jeanie on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Dang. What was in that wine?
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3 weeks 5 days ago #27883

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Replied by ds55 on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Potent stuff
Macross forever :D
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3 weeks 5 days ago #27884

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