1. August 11, 2006 -- 8:00pm GMT The Past is Prologue
The Oberon glides serenely through the water, the sun low on the horizon. The warm air is pleasant, a hint of tropical climes yet to be visited.
Several members of the crew keep the ship running smoothly, but the attitude is one of relaxation. Several of the passengers are playing a game of cards with the Skipper, enjoying a few drinks and friendly conversation.
The only person who doesn't seem to be enjoying himself is Al Armstrong, a brooding young man who's spent most of the trip so far listening to his iPod and ignoring everyone as much as possible.
Igal sat on the deck near the foremast under the fore staysail and listened his short wave radio. It was 23-00 at home, the time for evening news on Reshet Bet. The news were unpleasnt, so his face has got very sour expression. When he heard especially unpleasant item, he swore in Russian, something like "Your bunny wrote" or "Peace duke"
Johannes, the passenger form Austrian, joined the card players - after having the rules explained to him ... it is a game that he has never played before at home.
Julia, the ship's engineer, walks up to the table and hands her husbanda gin and tonic. "Would any of you gentlemen like a drink while you play? Besides fixing engines I'm good at fixing drinks."
Ted Armstrong, the doctor turned fitness center owner from Michigan replies, "Sure, I'll have what the skipper's having. A good drink to celebrate the start of a good vacation!"
Johannes turned to her .. "Yes - a Coke with some Jamaica rum and a few drops of lemon would be nice a nice thing to go with a beautiful sunset and a game of cards
Dave shuffled the cards and offered them to Peter to cut. "I put in a request to have the bar stocked with Pusser's," he said. "If they did, I'll have a Coke and a double shot of that. In separate glasses. Otherwise, whatever rum they do have will suffice, as long as it's not Puerto Rican."
He dealt as he spoke, six cards for Scott, six for himself, then set the rest of the deck down next to the cribbage board and picked up his hand.
After studying the cards for a moment, he looked at Peter. "I dealt this, right?" he asked. Peter nodded. Dave looked at the cards again, thoughtfully. "Any idea why?" he asked of the room at large.
Grinning widely, Johannes answered "so that you have something to complain about?"
Dave shrugged. "Doesn't appear to be good for much else." He selected two cards from his hand and dropped them face-down on the table, on his side of the board, then waited for Peter to do the same. "Maybe the cut will help." He grinned. "Sure can't hurt much."
Peter asks the nice lady for an iced coffee if it is convenient.
"Not a problem. Anyone else?" answered Julia
As she walks off, Ted turns to Peter Janus. "So, have you ever been big game hunting before? I try to go once a year, but this will be my son's first time."
Peter answers in a quiet voice - "I haven't hunted anything the size of rabbit much less big game. Heard about the trip from a friend of a friend who booked the ship's insurance for the voyage. Decided that before my ass merged into my chair at work I should get into the great outdoors. Timing worked from the business side so I made a call and booked space. I can wander around with a gun and have some stories to tell afterwards. Better than doing the Club Med thing I suppose. Really haven't taken a vacation in years and it just seemed time."
"Ahh..." Jackson Aubrey murmured. "Yep" Sophia agreed.
"I love the city but I miss the quiet of the country every once and a while." Jackson Aubrey said. He is a bit over six foot tall and a very large man. People often asked if he played football, which he had in college before the knee injuries. He was a very solid two hundred and fifty pounds with shoulder length blondish brown hair with red highlights. With a thick red goatee, both ears pierced and two gold hoop earrings. His wife sat next to him and she laid a hand on his thigh and said "Yeah but if you moved 'you'd miss New York before you unpacked'" She sang the last on tune from one of their favorite plays. 'God I'm a lucky man' he thought.
She is five and half feet tall, fit but model thin with shorter spiky brown hair with blond highlights. Both have ring tattoo's around their ring fingers of their left hands and she had part of a rose tattooed on her left breast showing from under her swimsuit top, with shorts on bottom.
"Damn right I would. Besides I could never deal with this heat on a regular basis." he agreed. He had a tropical fishing shirt and khaki shorts on. They had lines running off fishing rods trailing in the water but they were mostly enjoying each other, the surrounding nature, and his scotch and her amaretto sour.
Demetrios looked around him.
"So what do we have here in our fellow travelers? Two girls, both taken it seems. Well tough and we are not going to wander to you know what girl oh dear self. Morton playing yet another card game. Maybe we should sit in this one maybe not. This Janus fellow in the table, interesting, although the signal to noise ratio when he speaks about himself plummets. The Austrian seems the opposite, he speaks, a lot, he'll tell you about his cat, about his dog, about how he plays with the SCA, I wonder how of most these SCA fellows would react if forced to deal with the real not clinically sanitized medieval world... but still it's fun I suppose. Otherwise you wouldn't have picked sword fighting for a sport would you?
But less see what else who have around? The good doctor, aristocrat, thinks he can charm everything in creation...well could still be a good kid I suppose beneath all that. Let us not let our own, card carrying geek and middle class superiority, prejudices take over here. Actions will speak of themselves. Like that kid there in severe need of a haircut and as severe in need of the tender mercies of a drill sergeant to turn from sullen spoiled brat to human being."
Starting to walk towards the table he passed by the foremast.
"And what have we heard that language springing off the speaker before? Agia Napa back in 04. Ruth was taking a holiday in Cyprus after finishing with the IDF, me taking a holiday after finishing with this entire Olympics circus. Then Jerusalem...aw hell we won't go there. Unmistaken newscaster tone, no matter the language they all speak the same. And the mutterings in unmistaken Russki, too many Pontian conscripts for comfort back way then. Well a conversation here may be a bit more interesting than playing cards..."
"So not caring for the home news?"
Igal looked up : Demetrious Aitolos, quite friendly guy and quite Sherlock Holmes to ask his question ... on the other hand, it's easy to guess : if an Israeli is listening something in a guttural sounding language on his short wave radio and has got a sour expression on his face in August of 2006 - it's evidently he's listening something from home and doesn't like what he's hearing
"The news could be better", he nodded and lowered volume of the radio, so the voice of announcer became near inaudible
Demetrios slightly smiled " Don't let me bother you when you try to get home news. And for what's worth in my experience, in the middle of a war news usually tend to be able to be better than they are. Nichevo. But then I don't have friends and relatives down there either. Couple aboard Psara, but with the evacuations over that's back to Cyprus. "
"No friends down there. As of August 2006 that is. And we'll leave it at that" he thought to himself. A look of something haunting at him momentarily flashed through his eyes before it disappeared as fast as it had come...
"Oh, but it's the end of this war, not a middle. You don't bother me and the news are near finished anyway. Well, I didn't vote for those imbeciles, thanks to my father's influence"
Igal smiled "When I was a teen my father used to say: if you'll turn out to be a fag, I'll be upset, but if you'll ever vote for the socialists, I'll be insulted." So far he hasn't been disappointed" - Igal smiled again.
"Better to open my cards at the very beginning", thought he, " I've got the right to become a little paranoid after my sad experience with this sod in Toledo "
"One more admirer of socialist institutions, after living in the Socialist paradise I see. Oh well I am not even surprised any more..."
You'll be amazed how many people are inborn slaves and will be right glad to exchange their freedom and responsibility for a guaranteed piece of bread and the right to be told what to do and how to live their lives ...