"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.