Part XXII – Old War Buddies
“So what is it between you two?” the bald man asks after his partner leaves the room.
“What do you mean?” the blonde in the red dress asks back.
“I mean he’s very fond of you. And you can’t really be old war buddies. I mean, you’re what, twenty-one?” He takes a swig of his hooch.
“I’m twenty-four, and yes, he knew me from the war. Before then, even. But I wasn’t in the war. I was only sixteen. But I wanted to be.”
“So how did you two get so close?”
“My father and him served together in the Syneshtan War, and before that when I was younger, in the African Conflict. My father was killed in action in the War, so he and Aunt Sarah took care of me for a few years. I feel horrible about Sarah and Zoe. I haven’t been around for a few years. I didn’t even know. How has he been? How did it happen?”
“He doesn’t talk about it. A while back, he took off for a few days. When he came back, he seemed better. But then Declan got killed, and Rock’s in the hospital. He seems fine, but I’m sure he…”
“Did you miss me?” he asks, sitting back in his chair.
“Terribly,” she replies sarcastically.
“We were doing just fine without you, don’t worry partner,” the bald man adds, drinking his hooch.
“Well don’t get any ideas about my niece here, old man. She’s gonna settle down with a nice cyberdoc, or an offworld biologist, not some old merc like us.”
“Don’t worry, partner. She’s way outta my league.”
“Why, thank you; I’m flattered,” she says, drinking her hooch from a glass.
It may be the hooch, or the distraction of a beautiful woman, but none of them notices the robotic fly in the room. None of them suspect it has been observing them. None of them even conceive the idea it could be a bomb, waiting to be swatted.