Part 91: Interview 45 BonusBarracks 45 - Cards On The Table
As the evening wears on, and with several of Orange Star’s notable poker players missing in action, Michael, Alfonse and Dave eventually settle with playing against a few of the Blue Moon soldiers: Dimitri, who seems to be shadowed by a serious-faced woman, and Eva, who couldn’t possibly turn down the chance to gamble before the attack on the Black Hole citadel.
“Call.” says Eva, grinning at Alfonse, the only player left. Alfonse shrugs and lays down his cards; half of the table gasp at the full house, and the other half burst out laughing.
“You always pull through, huh, Alfonse?” Michael laughs.
Eva sighs, shoving over the winnings at Alfonse and wincing, overtly aware of how much money she’s lost this evening.
“Man, you Orange Star boys really know your way around a deck of cards, don’t ya?”
“We have a lot of free time.” Alfonse replies.
“Well, whatever - I’ll get it back. Deal me in!”
As Dave begins shuffling the cards, a newcomer arrives at the table, haughty and beautiful, with her blue uniform bearing the white rose of the Snowbound Free Company. Eva gulps as she sees the newcomer.
“Eva. Thought I might find you here.” Valeria says, leaning down. “Now, I’m not one for pleasantries, and frankly I’m not too bothered what you do with your free time. I just… I ran into Alina and she didn’t seem to be in a good mood. She won’t talk to me about it - and it is exceedingly rare for her not to tell me something.”
“Aw, hell, I…” Eva says, glancing up at Valeria, then at the table, then back to Valeria.
“You in or out?” Dave asks.
For the first time in her life, Eva shakes her head. “Nah. I’d best go see what my girlfriend wants.”
She gets up from the table, fiddling nervously with the coin around her neck, and walks away from the table. Valeria looks back at her and gives a satisfied nod.
“So…” Alfonse says, glancing up at Valeria. “You want to have a go?”
Valeria shakes her head. “I’ve not nearly enough money to fritter it like this. You boys have fun, though.”
She walks away without another word.
Several minutes’ walk away from the joint camp, Alina is sat on her own, staring up at the sky, thoughts rushing around in her head. Battle tomorrow. Free company. End of the campaign. End of… Eva.
Alina turns around; only one person is permitted to use that nickname. “Eva! I thought you were playing poker with Orange Star?”
“Eh, they weren’t all that fun. ‘Sides, I know you don’t really like my habits. Guess I’d better cut down, huh?”
Alina smiles. “I’m not going to shackle you down, Eva. You can do as you wish. I’m just not one for gambling, myself. I grew up without very much. I could never afford to risk any money I had. Even now.”
Eva nods, sitting besides Alina and staring up at the sky with her. “I get that. It’s not a good habit to have, honestly. Been trying to quit for years.”
“What do you plan to do after the campaign?” Alina asks quite suddenly. Eva doesn’t know how to answer for a moment.
“Uh… haven’t thought about it. I guess your contract with the Blue Moon Army will be coming to a close?”
“Yeah.” murmurs Alina. “Which means that we…”
“There’s only one thing for it then.” Eva replies. “I’m gonna come with you. If you don’t mind having another soldier in the ranks?”
“Are you serious? You would do that?” Alina gasps, turning to Eva. Eva gives her a warm smile - the kind of smile she never lets anyone else see.
“Alina, I wouldn’t even think twice. I might be a bit of a gambling freak, but losing you is not a risk I want to take. I’m sticking with you.”
Eva is suddenly overwhelmed by Alina, who leaps upon her and showers her with kisses, tearing up a bit.
“Oh, thank you! Thank you! I’ve been so worried about what was going to happen when my contract ended, but now we can stay together always!”
“And hey, if we pull this campaign off, the Snowbound Free Company is going to be one of the most famous mercenary groups in the world.” Eva replies, grinning. “Your money troubles? They’ll be gone.”
“Th-that’s true! In that case I shouldn’t spend any more time moping out here by myself. I should prepare for the upcoming battles!” Alina replies, preparing to jump up, roused by the possibility of possessing money in the future.
“I dunno,” Eva says, putting her arm around Alina. “I kinda like it here. Quiet. Just the two of us.”
Alina smiles and nestles into Eva’s embrace. “You know, Eva… I think you’re right.”