There is a problem with the high life.
No matter how briefly one lives in that wonderful world of opulent splendor, there's still a taint that comes with it that is, sadly, very, very hard to break. The life of the privileged spoils a man. Makes him entirely unused to the harsher, less posh aspects of life. I counted myself lucky; I had little opportunity to get used to the luxurious opulence that no doubt waited for me in the arms of one gorgeous blonde by the name of Helen.
I did, however, have ample opportunity to get used to the fine liquor of the high life.
Nothing made the quality of the booze provided by Mr. Kao more apparent than the quality of booze that I could actually afford. Still in my now-battered tuxedo, I sat in a darkened corner of a nameless, shifty bar, without any company but the bottle before me.
To tell the truth, I wasn't sure if the swill I was pouring down my throat had a proper name; terms such as "rotgut" came to mind. The liquid within the bottle before me looked suspiciously like engine coolant, and smelled even worse.
I didn't care. The taste of the stuff (foul, no doubt) barely registered as I poured it down, cringing as it burned its way down my throat. Way I figured, quality didn't matter so much as quantity. It was just a matter drinking the right amount of mind-numbing liquid down. Eventually, I'd get to such a state that I could handily forget that I had just fouled up what might've been my one opportunity for financial security- not to mention the opportunity to get under the skirts of a particularly gorgeous blonde.
I would've gotten myself properly bombed were it not for the intervention of a particular C'tarl C'tarl.
She slipped into the booth across from me with her typical feline grace. As if to match my own out of place attire, she still wore the remnants of her bridesmaid's dress, while the scent of gunpowder served as her perfume.
"Big bottle for a little kid." Aisha said, examining the label of whatever hooch I had procured on that night. "This kind of stuff'll kill ya."
"If I could be so lucky."
"No, really." Aisha continued to regard my bottle- keeping it out of my reach. "I remember one time, back when I was in the academy, I drank some of this stuff. Granted, due to my own superior physiology, it took a whole CASE of this to get me drunk- but it worked, anyway. Man, was I drunk. Really, really gone, you know? So drunk, that when I woke up, the first thing that came to mind was…"What the hell am I doing in the Antaris Sector? Thanks to my superior C'tarl C'tarl thinking, I didn't panic, like one of you puny humans would've- I just came to realize that I didn't speak Antarian, I didn't have a passport…and heck, I didn't even have any pants!"
I blinked, trying to banish thoughts of a pants-less Aisha from my mind. "Hell of a situation."
"Yeah. But it really didn't matter, in the end."
"Well, after a few minutes, I realized I fell asleep on a star-map." Aisha shot me a grin, the kind of expectant look one gives after delivering a proper punchline.
I didn't laugh.
Aisha noticed. Her ears drooped ever so slightly. "You wouldn't believe how long I've been looking for you, Jim."
"Probably not. I lost track of the time about four shots ago."
"That far gone, huh?" she shook her head. "Let me know when you're starting to feel like fighting somebody, so I can drag your ass home." This said, Aisha grabbed the bottle of rotgut and took a swig- only to wince, gag, and sputter (in that order) before she slammed the bottle back down on the table. "Wow. Things must be really bad if you're drinking this swill."
Bleary eyed, I looked across the booth at Aisha. All I could do was slam down another glass of the unnamed liquor…and laugh.
"What's so funny?"
"What?" She lost all pretense of sympathy, and glowered.
"All your talk about the racial superiority of the C'tarl C'tarl…and you're not tough enough to drink…whatever the hell this is."
"What? Lies! Lies! Besides, being able to stomach- and ENJOY that vile liquid is hardly something to be proud of!"
"Hey, us hairless monkeys have got to find something."
"If you say so." Aisha drummed her fingers on the tabletop, glancing around with a restless air to her. "Done yet?"
"Done lamenting over whatever it is that's got you torn up? I was going to drink with you, but if that's any indication…"
True to form, Aisha wouldn't let me continue. "I don't know why you're so torn up about all this anyway. I mean, not more than twenty four hours ago, you were trying to think of ways to weasel your way out of it all. So you pissed off some rich blonde girl. So what? I doubt it would've worked out anyway."
"…Weren't you the one telling me to go through with it?"
"Well, yes. But I've always reserved the right to change my mind along with the situation. Remember, I'm also the one who crashed the wedding with a belt-fed machine gun."
"Yeah. You did. So really, you're the one to blame."
"What? Oh, don't go pinning this on me. If it were up to you, I'm sure you would've screwed it up big time all by yourself." She crossed her arms and nodded, content in her own infallibility.
"Your confidence is inspiring, Aisha."
"No, really. That girl didn't suit you. She's a rich heiress, you're a not-so-rich Outlaw…you knew it yourself from the beginning. You just had to convince yourself of some insane plot to kill you, so you could accept it on terms that you're used to." Aisha shook her head again. "Humans are weird."
"Maybe it's the liquor, but you're actually beginning to make sense."
Aisha leaned in across the table once again, affixing me with an investigative look. "…I think you've had enough to drink." She concluded.
"Yeah, you're probably right."
"Let's get back to the ship. Are you good to walk?"
"Here, you can lean on me."