Baldur liked to call this area ‘quaint.’ It’s a word that someone who probably never actually heard it used in a proper setting would apply, as the area in question isn’t so much quaint as it is lived in. There’s nothing quaint about the narrow streets, the questionable alleyways, and the numerous bars. Convenient might be a better word, if someone still wants to try being nice about the description.
Yet it’s this side of the city that Baldur has become most familiarized. He hadn’t much business anywhere else, and sometimes he’d often find himself redirected to this area by overly helpful sorts whenever he tended to wander elsewhere. In those cases he’d very politely let himself be shown along before flipping a metal bird at the retreating back of the supposed do-gooder.
“This joint’s one of them hole-in-the-wall places,” he gabs happily, walking alongside his newly found old buddy. “You’d walk right by and miss it if you didn’t know where to look. Mostly locals, but the owner won’t turn down service without good reason. Me, I just wandered in by accident one day. Nice place, Gill’s.”
They’d turn down an alley that one could probably touch both flanking walls with their elbows extended if they tried. At first glance there isn’t even a door, but an alcove where a doorframe might have once been, marked by the outline left bare between bricks. About two feet in one would find the door proper, and once inside, find an almost cozy atmosphere by comparison to the world left outside.
It’s an old-fashioned affair in dark woods that might have been polished at one time, but time and use have worn the polish, but most of the edges have been kept smooth. An old, giant hunk of a bar counter occupies the side wall, circular tables and an assortment of stools and chairs are set haphazardly around the medium-sized space, currently neither crowded nor empty. Welcome to Gillert’s.“Reminds me of Carlito’s…” Kaius Mars remarks as he goes inside after Baldur. He gives the alleyway another look, glaring at some of those ‘locals’ (who might consider themselves wannabe ne’er-do-wells) and points toward a table in a corner.
“Why hang out here if you don’ eat or drink anymore?” he asks as he sticks his legs out and hooks one ankle over the other. The crotch gets a surreptitious itch under the table and he signals a barmaid for a couple of whiskeys. Even if Baldur isn’t drinking, ordering just for himself feels… wrong to Mars. He’ll drink both glasses in the end anyway. “Where’re you holed up?”
Giving the barmaid a little wave as she goes off to the counter to grab their drinks, Baldur leans an arm against the table, his optics swiveling towards Mars. He makes a snorting sound. “Ouch. Right to the point, huh? I enjoy the atmosphere,” he says, shrugging. His chair creaks slightly whenever he shifts, but it still seems sturdy enough to hold him at least.
“I like it better in the later hours when it’s busier. It’s noisy. Sometimes there’ll be someone willing to hear a story. …okay, so more often than not they’re drunk or there just aren’t any more seats away from me,” he admits, waving a hand dismissively. “As for where I’m staying…eh, I got a closet just off the edge of the Billet. Not really a closet but it might as well be. Stinkin’ small, but at least I don’t need a bed.”
He straightens as the barmaid returns, setting a couple of glasses down, and then plunking an empty mug down in front of the cyborg. His optics brighten in that eager way of his, metal fingers curling around the mug’s handle as he calls after the barmaid. “Thanks, doll!” Leaning in towards Mars in an almost conspiratorial fashion, he lifts the empty mug. “Can’t drink, but they’ll at least gimmee a mug to hold. Some other place just look at you funny when you make that kind of request!” It’s….kind of sad, that admission, but Baldur seems no less happy with his mug.Mars’ jaw tightens.
He’s not really one for overt displays of emotion — seeing his old war-buddy again is about as emotional as he has even been — but hearing how the fortunes of his friend have turned over the years… It bothers him. Mars tosses back a mouthful of whiskey and sets the glass back down again, looking back at Baldur’s photoreceptors (eyes).
“Join the Black Suns,” he says, straight and to the point once again. That’s Mars for you. “There’s always a good fight — and the type we get paid for. They’re… hmph. It’s not like working for the king. Not like that at all… but it pays. Roof over your head, guns to play with — and there’s me and Shiny.”
Galan Gallerhorn was always… a bit eccentric (at least by some standards), so Mars expects his friend will do what he wants. Regardless, he still makes the offer. They have both… adjusted in their own way.
“You’ve been doing this since the war?” he asks.
Some might say the ‘borg’s just plain crazy. They may not be all too off on that assumption. Baldur’s lived a lot longer than Galan, and probably done a lot worse. There are times when it’s easier to shut off the fact that you’d been human once, but it’s a desperate grip that he keeps on the experiences, the person of Galan Gallerhorn, because it’s the only proof he’s ever had that he’s been something more than a metal killing machine.
Baldur seems preoccupied with his mug, tilting it this way and that with the gentle rotation of a wrist as though swirling the non-existent liquid inside. He glances back at Mars as the man finishes off the first shot, meeting that gaze.
‘Join the Black Suns,’ Mars says, so serious, without hesitation. That’s the Kaius Mars Baldur remembers, the Kaius Mars that Galan knew. The cyborg laughs.
“Eh, some days I don’t even know what I’ve been doing,” he says, glossing over Mars’ earlier suggestion as though it had never been given, if only for the moment. Baldur rests his mug on the table, lifts it again, plunk, lift, plunk, lift, an anxious sort of gesture. “Sometimes I get asked to do a job, so I’m like ‘what the heck’, got nothin’ better to do. Other times I’m in places like these, trying to keep up with what’s going on. Rather keep busy doing /something/, you know? Nights get too quiet. I don’t sleep, but my mind won’t shut up, you know? It’ll drift back to the war, or some mission…” He shakes his head, scooping up the mug by its handle again, going through the complete motion of tipping it back for a sip. Muscle reflex, one might suggest, except that he hasn’t got muscle under those worn clothes.
“You staying with the Suns, then?” he asks, glowing eyes peering over the mug. “Heard some about them.” Plunk goes the mug again. “…I miss Shiny.”“Shiny’s there,” says Mars with a smirk. His eyes glint — pride, that. “Can’t have a Glitterboy traipsing about town when I’m not looking, so… the ‘Suns have a garage big enough for mechs like him. It’s right here in the Billet.”
Down goes more whiskey.
An empty glass remains.
Mars wordlessly reaches for the other one, although doesn’t drink it right away. His expression sombres. “I don’t sleep much either. That cryo-stint is the best sleep I’ll probably ever get; now… it’s messed with things. Can’t be bothered seeing a body-fixer about it either — they just want to know ‘all about the cryo’. I’m no one’s freak.”
“The jobs keep me busy. Dangerous stuff too. Could use you, Gal.”
The chuckle from the cyborg comes once Mars mentions the mech’s proper classification. ‘Glitterboy’ never ceases to amuse him. It’s that quiet, mocking sort of laughter that bully kids might direct under their breath when the neighborhood sissy goes walking by. Baldur means it in as good-natured a way as one can possibly do so, if only because it brings fond memories. Of when he used to make fun of Mars for his mech. Maybe that’s why they took to calling it Shiny.
“Eugh, well that’s typical,” he sighs, his accompanying motions making it almost believable that he might actually have a set of lungs in there. “You said it was Golden Age tech, right? That’s all anyone would care about. Techs are the real freaks sometimes.” He should know. “Anyway, I couldn’t tell if anything was wrong with you or not. You seem normal to me. Or…as normal as you can possibly be classified as.”
His fingers curl around the mug, hesitating from lifting it. “…heh. Dangerous. I used to complain about dangerous. Now…I guess it’s pretty much what I’m made for.” Baldur tilts his head, eyes shifting in that obvious glancing way. “Busy’s nice though. I can go for busy. Maybe.”“‘Normal as I can…’ seriously?” Mars gives Baldur a bit of a ‘uh-huh, yeah right’ sneer and drains the other glass of its whiskey. He notices the bartender looking over at them — who appears pleased that Baldur has company. The two old soldiers get a nod, and then… a free round of drinks.
Mars almost smiles.Almost.
“So yeah. Golden Age tech — right here, this side of the mountains. They all wanna piece. Hmph… they’re welcome. Me? Well… you heard the rumours? Some kind of Undead have made trade…” and he sours at this — at any mention of Vesper and ‘trade’, “with ‘the South’ impossible. Everyone’s hiring escorts, bodyguards…private armies. Some wants us moving into D-shifting territory in the mountains.”
Baldur laughs at that look. “I know what I said,” he snickers into his mug, and as another round is set before them, he glances towards the bartender, lifting the mug in toast.
“Well, just so long as you don’t sprout any extra limbs’r something,” he shrugs, giving Mars a nudge with his elbow. “Kai, I hear lotta rumors. Don’t know how much of them you can hold stock in. Some people been saying old V-town’s planning a move on us.”
It’s easier not to show any outward disapproval of anything to do with Vesper when you don’t have the means to pull off such facial ticks. Still, the slight dulling of the glow in his optics is a bit of a giveaway if you know what to look for. It’s a momentary thing, lost with another upwards sweep of his mug as if he’s chugging down the last of its imaginary contents.
“That sounds like fun,” he says dryly. “…but I’d be lying if I didn’t say hell yeah, I’m interested!” Because Things. To Do. With a familiar face on top of it all. Actually it’s the last that’s the driving point for him.“So we team up?” Mars inquires over a raised glass of whiskey, poised in the air so that he has to practically look //through// it at his friend. It’s a given. Baldur will say yes.
More likely he’ll do the ‘jazz-hands’ thing again — even holding a mug — and then accidentally break the table… a thought to which Mars… shrugs. Down goes the whiskey.
“‘Course we team up. Follow me back to the ‘Suns; you can meet Shiny again. I could use a hand working on his QL servos…” Mars stands up, smirking just a bit. “Oh, anyone ever tell you what Montgrave got up to near war’s-end? …”
Continuing straight on from their reunion amid bodies and blasterfire, Mars and Baldur catch up at Gill's for whiskey and stories...
May 08, 2410
Gill's Bar - The Billet - Dogwood