PHD #162: The Colonel Pewter March
The Colonel Pewter March
Summary: Another game of Triad hosted by Colonel Pewter and Yeoman Parry. One of the players gets a special surprise.
Date: 07 Aug 2041 AE
Related Logs: None
Cidra Cora Bia Trask Sitka Benjamin Pewter 
Recreation Room — Deck 9 — Battlestar Cerberus
This huge room spans quite a lot of floor space, the support beams crisscrossing at even points throughout the room. The two sides are divided fairly between the Enlisted and Officers with an unseen line more or less running down the center of the room. A couple pool and card tables sit in no-man's land with a series of regular mess tables at the rear of the room, nearest a counter full of minor refreshments like coffee and bags of chips. Magazines and reading material are spread out over the couched seating areas and a few televisions are set-up with a couple of video game systems made available.
Post-Holocaust Day: #162

This invitation is the same as the last one. It comes on beautiful crisp A4 paper bearing the watermark of Battlestar Cerberus, written in hard and blocky script that could only have come from the left hand of Colonel Andrus Pewter: 'You are cordially invited to a soiree of sorts,' it begins, 'during which you will have the opportunity to win the Colonel's booze.' It's a sentence that really needs no explanation, and the beautiful red-headed yeoman charged with hand-delivering each invitation isn't terribly much inclined to give one if she's asked. One gets the feeling, though, that this isn't the sort of dinner party from which you beg off with illness or various other excuses — which might be why said yeoman confidently ordered enough food for seven when she dialed the galley three hours ago to notify the cooks of their task.

Just like the last time. Pewter and Parry, it seems, are creatures of habit.

Said food has been laid out buffet-style on a navy blue spread: decently appetizing appetizers made from non-perishable ingredients, but hey, presentation is half the battle. Sitting beside it is none other than Yeoman Parry herself, parked in a chair while fanning herself with a blank AAR form. And shuffling the Triad deck at the head of the felt-covered card table is the man behind this second plot, his duty jacket concealing a bottle-shaped lump displayed quite prominently in front of him.

Has Good Gracious had a single moment off since Rear Admiral Abbot saddled her with the Interim CMO position? Her sightings in the wild are very far and very few between — and she looks around the Rec Room as if not quite sure what to expect. Her long-legged stride twists as she steps through the hatch, bringing her labcoat curling in after her. "Colonel, Sir," her drawl drifts to Pewter. "Miss Parry." She's carrying a square box made of light cardboard with her, the sort that might have held a collector's issue plate in some other life.

Until very recently, Cora appeared to have nothing but time off - rarely if ever seen in duty blues even when she was spending hours in the naval offices. Today makes two days in a row, though, as she arrives in uniform, the neck partially unbuttoned in deference to the occasion. She has a cigarette between her lips and a half-full bottle held by the neck in her hand: whiskey, by the looks of it. "Colonel, sir," she greets Pewter with a nod, unconsciously echoing the CMO, who she greets next, "Lieutenant Bia. Miss Parry."

As the hatch swings open, the image of one lean, weathered man slips in behind Bia, adding significantly to the already weightly age pool that graces this room. He sticks out like a sore thumb. Not in uniform, the garish form of the slightly faded Aquarian floral shirt that hangs open around his shoulders adds a bit of sickly color to the surroundings. Benjamin Cincinnatus is here, almost defensively clutching one of those invitations that Col. Pewter has circulated around the ship. His jaw clenches a bit as a bit of a half-smile is delivered towards the table proper containing the ship's current C.O. and other service members. "This was — unexpected, Colonel. Thank you." He says in a voice burned by years of hard living, craggy as his features. A nod to the ship's doctor and of course, Miss Parry are delivered in turn, all with the same bemused smile.

The Knights' shiny (coff, coff) new commander isn't precisely known for his timeliness or adherence to protocol. So it's likely no surprise that he ambles in a few minutes late, and tucked hastily into his olive drab duty fatigues. One of the jacket's pockets sports a lump that might be more suspicious if this weren't what it is. He sketches a somewhat stilted salute for the Colonel, a quick twist of a smile for the redhead, and waits for the CMO to seat herself before dragging out a chair with his boot.

Cidra is late as well. Though not far behind Sitka. She is, in fact, precisely five minutes late. One could set one's watch by her tardiness. She's dressed down in her off-duties and has brought along a pillowcase. Presumably carrying goodies she's brought to bet. It doesn't look overly full, but she's likely reached into her locker. No immediate greeting to anyone save Pewter. Who she just regards for a beat. "Hello, Colonel." Pause. "Forgive my tardiness. Thank you for the invitation." Oh-so polite.

Bootstrap cleans up very nicely and arrives looking like the ideal officer. Freshly shaved, dressed in meticulously pressed duty blues carrying not a hint of lint, and his boots polished to a sheen. It's a sight that the members of Air Wing would find unusual, for he is wont to don his duty greens in lieu of a uniform as often as he can get away with it, and he's quite adept at getting away with things. Poised, he steps to the CAG and snaps off a crisp salute to those assembled. "Sirs." In his other hand, he holds a folder. "Major Hahn, sir. I've brought you those items that you requested."

Pewter welcomes all and sundry with his usual wide-faced grin, which splits in twain those thick cheeks and causes his small eyes to crinkle further beneath his old-fashioned glasses. "Y'all don't be thankin' me," rumbles the big man's voice, so deep as to send vibrations thrumming down the wrinkles of his sweats. A few crumbs drift to the floor as his words evolve into a rich, powerful chuckle. "Thank Pee-Oh Red over there."

"Sirs," says the impeccably-coiffed yeoman, her gaze just an ember short of smoldering.

"She says y'all'd be interesting to talk to. Also says y'all won't have the stones to beat the Colonel at his own table, though she said that the last time and they done kicked this old dog back to the kiddie bowl." More good-natured laughter fills the room as he shoves the cards at ex-Colonel Cincinnatus — before his eyes note the entrance of her assistant, who gets something resembling a return salute. "Straight Triad," he says in the meantime. "Thousand chips apiece; last one standing after seven hands takes it all, includin' this dee-light-ful Islander Seventeen-Oh-Seven Premium Gold. Twelve years." Rum, it seems, from his native Aquaria. Famous rum, too, if you're into such things, with a complex bronze color, a seamlessly smooth texture, and a seductively sweet bouquet of molasses, honey, and spice. "And if I everever — see one of y'all drinkin' this not neat, y'all be out the airlock faster than thunder after lightnin'." Just saying.

"Something tells me I'm going to leave here poorer than I started. No matter /how/ the chips fall." The smoky voice of the retired man in the floral shirt intones, as Ben quite literally gets a hand dealt him by the ship's C.O. He flashes the Yeoman a cheery (for him) smirk and then starts to turn about, surveying the combatants as it were. His squint is more pronounced than usual, here. "So you mean to tell me you don't like the usual fizzy Canceron blend? I used to think I'd get a beachside bar somewhere and start squeezing the blood and cash out of drunk tourists. Damn shame. So we drink like the big boys."

"Hain't nothing Sickbay could throw at me to keep me away from a Colonel's orders for fun," Grace points out to Pewter, one narrow brow arching just /so/. "Two dozen chocolate chocolate-chip cookies, made with my last cocoa and some of the galley chief's last butter — if you can play a fine enough hand of cards, this time, to keep them, Sir." She settles easily into her chair, hanging her labcoat up behind her.

Cora glances about at the other attendees as she takes a seat at the table, that bottle placed on the floor beside her chair. "Major," she greets Cidra, and Sitka: "Captain." The colonel's words and his rum draw a long glance and a quick twitch of her lips in humor. Trask's arrival is met with a flick-brief look, and then, of course, she is distracted by Bia's offering, gaze sliding sideways towards the medical officer. It lingers there for a moment before cards are dealt.

No such poise and impeccable manners from Shiv. The spit and polish suit the viper jock about as well as the blues uniform he's currently not sporting, though Pewter's little speech does draw a crooked grin out of him as he settles in— and a flick of his eyes sidelong to Parry. The assessment he makes of the yeoman is brief, but subtly appreciative in that way Saggie men have. Which is to say, not particularly subtle at all. "Wouldn't dream of it, sir," he pitches Pewter's way, whilst digging about in his jacket pocket briefly. A few soft thumps as his own 'stakes' are set down: what looks like three or four chocolate bars, still wrapped. Some fancy brand, orange and mint and raspberry truffle. Where the hell he got those, the gods only know. Belatedly, with a small smile, "Hey there, Cora."

"Ah." Cidra nods at Pewter's correction, turning to regard the yeoman instead. "Thank you, then, Petty Officer." A pause and she adds, "It did sound like fun." Tone a little dry. Another look at the colonel, features carefully inscrutable, and then she does take in the room proper. "Gracious. Shiv. Lieutenant Nikephoros." A faint hint of surprise at some of the crowd, perhaps. She seems about to say more. But then in comes Trask. Polished Trask. He is *eyed* warily. The salute is returned with more puzzlement than anything else, a silently mouthed 'What?' to him. Though she does take the folder. "Ah…Thank you, Lieutenant…" She then sits without actually looking at what's been gifted to her. She does not immediately look at it, starting her stakes low, plucking a pack of cheap Picon cigarettes out of her pillowcase. Hopefully there are better goodies in there somewhere.

There is a bit of fumbling with his spare hand, as Ben starts digging in his pocket for gods know what — and then it becomes clear what his stakes are. A scuffed, gold-plated lighter containing an engraved miniature seal of the Battlestar Kronos. Slapping it down on the table, he looks at some of the other stakes, "Had this little piece on my first posting and carried it with me ever since into retirement. Best thing I could come up with on short notice of course, but you know how it is."

"Yes, sir." Trask remains in picture perfect form, standing at attention until granted permission to do otherwise. "With compliments from Lieutenant Albert." Cidra may have not commanded the ECO known as "Prince" for very long at all, but the rumored pornography collection he bequeathed to Bootstrap is a thing of epic legend. For the nonce, Sitka holds the monopoly on leering at the yeoman, for the El-Tee is determined to not ruin the punchline, which means his eyes remain dutifully ahead, not once even glancing at the hawt redhead.

"Kronos. Nice boat, boy." And: "Never been to Canceron," says Pewter conversationally, having dealt out six cards apiece with a Triad enthusiast's precision. "Never needed a fake tan, and, Lords, I hate golf. Know why they call it a stroke? Cause you get one every time you swing your godsdamned bat at the godsdamned ball and whack it all the way into some godsdamned sand." And somewhere in that rant he manages to indicate his intent to fold, shoving his cards forward into the communal discard pile.

Petty Officer Parry, for her part, has started to roam the table, collecting the various offerings to set them on the edge of the food table in a winner's corner of sorts. Surely she doesn't need to be so close to Captain Sitka's head when collecting his luscious chocolate; surely she doesn't need to linger near Bia and Cora as long as she does when picking up those cookies and that bottle. And surely those painted nails and delicate fingers don't need to rest on Cidra's left shoulder as she picks up a packet of smokes before bending to whisper something into her ear.

It isn't leering, it's.. intent appreciation. The Captain has more class than that. Barely. As betting begins, he clears his throat quietly and settles back in his chair, cards switched to his left hand so he can rifle for his cigarettes and zippo with the right. Benjamin's offering gets a thoughtful glance while he lights up, then reconsiders his cards.

Benjamin antes casually, tossing his chip down after giving his cards a momentary glance. "She was at that. One of the first when they started doling out more than twelve. Living quarters were so tight, we used to joke about having to hang our laundry in the Head."

"Oh, certainly, Petty Officer…" Cidra says. And she actually does peek into the folder she's been gifted with. Before Trask says anything further. So she gets a look before she has that particularly 'warning'. It is not offered up for betting. Her eyes *bulge*, face turning bright red, and the thing is stuffed extremely forcefully into her pillowcase. "Ahem." She takes a moment to sift. Another pack of cigarettes is produced, along with a tin. "Umm. Rosehip tea. Excellent vitamin content. Quite good. To…umm, even out my bit of the pool."

Cora keeps her cards face-down on the table as Parry lingers, turning to glance up at the Petty Officer for a moment, her gaze narrowing faintly with discreet appraisal. That whiskey, by the way, may only be about a third of a bottle, but the label says it is a McGowan 15 year, so that makes up for the lack of quantity. The edges of her cards are eyed before she bets the first time, and then she just waits, looking at each player in turn.

"Could always have visited for the fishing," Good Gracious opines, on matters of Canceron, throwing in her own chips to the pot. "Hain't got catfish worth anything-" And if there isn't blackened catfish, the colony isn't worth having. "-but my Remy spent a time there and never did stop talking about the swordfish." Coffee-black eyes slide to Cidra, then her pillowcase, then back to the CAG's face for a moment.

Sitka may or may not have noticed Red's overlong lingering to collect his contribution to the betting pool. He seems pretty intent on his cards, blue eyes only lifting briefly to note Cidra's fire engine impression — and crease at the corners in a fleeting grin — before he slides over his own bet.

"Try a godsdamned frigate, Benny — but I knew a couple of guys there. Y'all's chief of the deck, forget his name. Wallace, Willy, something like that?" Pewter examines the lighter before the yeoman snatches it from the table, his eyes seeming to mist over at whatever private memory now elicits another grin from his face. "Real asshole." But the word is spoken fondly — just like the next. "Catfish?" Mmmm. "Shoulda bet the spices for that."

As for the yeoman? She's about to move on, rosehip tea and box of cigarettes (x2) collected — until those eyes get a look at the material Cidra's just stuffed into her pillowcase. A faint flush (nowhere near as violent as that currently painted on the Major's face) causes her cheeks to match the understated color of her eyeshadow. "Should you receive an invitation, Lieutenant," she murmurs — the inflection of her voice suggesting that the chances of that happening are becoming slimmer by the second — "I must inform you that such items are not suitable for betting."

Ben's face takes on a practiced stony stare as he contemplates his cards. Maybe Red too, but mostly his cards. He's all business, here. "Yeah. Fishing. Thought that was gonna be my other career." He notes with no small amount of wryness. "My wife used to call herself a 'trout widow' if you get what I'm saying." A single laugh and his squint is returned to his cards as she shuffles and rearranges a few of them, stealing a glance at Cidra with an upturned brow at her reaction.

Cidra makes eye contact with absolutely no one at the table. Eyes fixed on her cards. Her cards are fascinating. Her cheeks are still quite pink. That will take awhile to go away. "Yes. There we are…" she mutters, rather tossing chips into the pile until she's called. A belated glare over her shoulder once that's done and flat, "You are dismissed" to Trask. "I shall speak with you later."

"No kidding? Wallace. Got it right the first time, Colonel. Used to call him Harvey Wallbanger. Well, before the accident, anyway. I guess it's a small fleet." Ben intones, absently. But there's another chuckle there.

"Wife of y'all's best be the only thing y'all's fly was fishin'," Pewter says, echoing the ex-Colonel's laugh half again as loudly. And — "Accident? No shit. Never mentioned it when he wrote. Just said he got out to spend more time with his blow-up dolls." We all have That Random Creepy Friend, after all.

CAG's composure cracked. Mission accomplished. Able to ride a joke out to the very end, Trask retains his proverbial Triad face. "I have never been one for card games, Petty Officer." Boo-hoo. No gambling for liquor for the LT. "My apologies for not realizing that you play by different rules than the rest of the rank and file. In all my 15 years of service, such items have always, up until this moment, been considered welcome currency." Which, really, /is/ the truth. That said, he tells Cidra, "Yes, Major. Best of luck, sir." Then, with all proper respects, the salute is turned upon the others present. "Sirs." As poised as he arrived, the SL departs.

No witty banter from the Captain, though perhaps a bemused twitch of his lips now and then, at the conversation going on around him. There's a soft, noncommital grunt after he discards and draws, and a drag taken off his cigarette before he begins re-organising his hand. Trask may or may not catch an inquisitive glance aimed his way as he's dismissed.

"Yeah, well. Wasn't his fault, really, but he took the fall for it. Which I guess made him a good Chief. But at the end of the day he ended up covering for a P.O.'s major malfunction and we were all poorer for it." There's an upturn of Ben's lips and a bit of a bemused snort. "Now, for the life of me, I can't even remember that jackass's name. Funny how these things work." Juggling his cards, he begins to absently arrange them as he continues to talk, catching Trask's departure with another squint as he works.

"Find us a new home with fishing worth a damn, Colonel, and I'll have us all blackened catfish before you can finish saying please," says Good Gracious to Pewter, turning a wide smile from her cards to the Colonel, then back to her cards before she lays them out. "Ah, damnation," she murmurs.

Cidra shifts a look between Pewter and Benjamin. Clearing her throat with a soft "Ahem." Face slowly regaining it's usual fair color as she forces her composure back into its proper place. No banter from her, either. Just frowning at the cards she gets, but she does ride them to the end of the hand. Such as they are. "Ah." The sound is sort of winced out.

Cora ignores hot redheads and red-faced majors, laying down her red-high triad and looking at those of the others before calming collecting the pot with a scab-knuckled hand and a murmured, "Looks like these are mine, this time." The chips are stacked and arranged neatly along with her others before she settles back in her chair and awaits the next hand.

"Nicely played," Sitka asides to Cora, sliding a conciliatory smile her way. Of what was in Cidra's folder, he still does not ask. But likely has some idea. "Smoke?" he enquires in a low murmur, sliding his pack toward the CAG with a be-ringed finger and pinky.

Parry watches the ECO go with a disinterested smile, her arms folding across her chest. Making mental notes, no doubt, the way secretaries do. She's got the power.

Not that Pewter notices. He's watching the cards fall with avid interest, banging his end of the table with a meaty fist as he finishes adding up points in his mind. Delight is writ large on his features — especially because none of his chips were at stake. But Cincinnatus' description of Harvey Wallace's fate is met with a resigned shake of his head; Bia's suggestion only draws said shake out longer. "Might send a Raptor down to Aquaria with a real big net," he mutters. "Trawl them rivers 'til it gets full-up. Don't think radiation's gonna wreck the taste of the best godsdamned fish in the Colonies, if y'all's gonna blacken them anyway." His laugh is shorter, now, and less overtly jolly — though Cora is stared down before more chips are chucked into the center of the pile.

"So Say We all." This is directed towards Bia as he shrugs a little. "Nicely played." to Cora. "I guess this is the beginning of a slow death. Heh." Assessing his losing hand, a shoulder shrugs. The man is otherwise just stony and unconcerned. He doesn't look like he's playing to win. "Y'know what I think? It's a big universe. Best cast your net til you find something."

"You've got to be frakking kidding me," mutters Shiv as he's dealt his hand. With a soft snort, he tosses his cards down and settles back to resume smoking, and observing the remainder of the bets.

Cora nods to those who congratulate her, cigarette briefly leaving her lips as she offers a faint smile in return. She smokes as she eyes her new cards, and as she raises the bet, and as she watches those around the table call (or fold). She definitely has a Triad face, that's for sure.

"Yes. Thank you," Cidra says, offering Sitka a small inclination of her head in thanks for the smoke. It is lit and dragged upon, which is helpful in hammering her Triad face back into place. A polite, "Well played, Lieutenant" is offered to Cora, in the interests of good sportsmanship, but she's eager to move onto the next round. Her new cards are appraised. She stays in, for her part.

Grace throws in two cards and draws fresh ones, rearranging her hand as she settles them in place. "Hain't going to be seeing those cookies again," she murmurs, with a glance to the cardboard box and its double-chocolate contents. She throws her cards in.

"It's all about patience." Ben muses as he swaps out a card idly. "We knew that back in the war. Sometimes, that's how you win, right?" He resumes staring at his cards.

"Damn. I knew I should have packed a couple 1's." Ben's laugh is hoarse as the next hand passes and he plunks his chips down.

Cora grimaces faintly as the cards are laid out and the two old men's hands revealed. "Well played, Colonel," she offers with a nod before sitting back, chips stacked and restacked before she reaches for an ashtray, flicking her cigarette against it while collecting her new cards.

Sitka's silent as a new round of cards are dealt, and fanned out for his perusal. A few chips are slid over to denote his bet, tip of his nose scritch-scratched with his thumbnail as he considers his spread.

"Search that big galaxy and I swear y'all ain't gonna find no finer catfish than Aquarian catfish," Pewter declares, discarding — nothing. "Juicy, fat, fresh. Long slinky whiskers, too, that's how y'all know it's good." An amused snort issues from his mouth. "Used to think a lot about it when I was a kid. Maybe the gods got really shit-hammered and said 'Man, we love cats and we love fish, so let's smash that shit together and see what comes out.' Creation cocktails or — " He doesn't have a chance to finish as, revealing his hand, he collects the fruits of his victory. Awwyeah.

"Very nice," says Parry, though for whatever reason she doesn't bother testing her wiles on the colonel. Maybe he's already promised to share. The elegant woman makes another round, this time offering what luxe saltines the galley's managed to cook up. One hand holds the tray; the other glides across the backs of the nearby chairs, ostensibly so she can keep her balance while serving. This time, it's Sitka who receives a discreet whisper — and it just so happens that the yeoman needs to use Cora's shoulder for stability while delivering the message. Huh.

Cidra does not even make it entirely through the second hand. Whatever she was dealt did not meet with her approval. "You are a good one for games, Colonel," she says to Pewter. Tone a little dry. There may be a double meaning buried somewhere in there. "Did you play with your personnel like this back on the Corsair as well?" A quizzical look upward as the yeoman whispers to Sitka.

Sitka looks up from his cards briefly when Parry slides in to deliver her message, heavy brows furrowing in a brief pinch of confusion. And then sudden, disappointed enlightenment. "Shit," muttered along with a swift glance at his watch. "Uh.. thanks, PO." If it was something scandalous, the Captain sure looks unhappy about it. Maybe redheads aren't his thing. He's already starting to shove his chair back, even as he prepares for another round of betting and discarding.

Cora tosses in her call, and then glances over at that hand that appears on her shoulder. She looks at it a moment, and then past it, up the arm to the petty officer who owns it, Red and her whispering holding the lieutenant's keen sideways gaze for a moment before she turns back to the table and its increased betting. Her cards stay face-down on the table.

A silent, impassive nod as Ben tosses his chips in lazily before rearranging the cards with weathered, splayed fingers as he peers down at them. And then another rough peal of laughter, without actually forming any words. Strangely, it stops as suddenly as it starts.

"You ever try to figure what they were thinking with a platypus?" Grace's arched brows arch a little sharper as she considers her fresh hand, temporarily distracting her from her own line of conversation. "A little like walking gumbo, bless their hearts. Hain't no sense at all in how they were assembled. We ever point our noses to parts unknown, it'll only get stranger. Or may well be the galaxy's finest catfish still waiting out there for us."

It's a very nice arm — and it doesn't stay long. "My apologies, sir," comes Red's velvet voice, and then her nails are tracing the grooves in the metal behind Cidra's chair before the tray comes to a stop in front of her CO. "Saltine?"

Indeed he will. "Every other week, Major," Pewter confirms — and though his stentorian tone isn't quite capable of being dry, he does allow himself a knowing smirk before chucking a cracker into his mouth. "Never used to be about the hands-on business — " His eyes twinkle. "But. They liked it so it just kept on goin'. Man. There was this specialist from Tauron who'd show up every week with a new bottle of whiskey, just for tastin'. Rich girl who enlisted cause she didn't feel like goin' into transport or some shit and just wanted to get her hands dirty." Pewter folds as his heavy brows furrow, smile fading slightly. "Couldn't give her the coin when she bit it." A low chuckle. "Probably got the ferryman drunk and stole his boat, bless her." Bia's musings on the platypus are answered with an absent grunt. Moral of the day: never allow an old man to get on the reminiscing train.

Cidra's brows arc a little as Sitka finishes his exchange with Parry. Though she still keeps the majority of her attention on her hand. She's low no tells, though with the way she's playing it may not particularly matter. A soft "Ah" and nod at Pewter's explanation about his games. "I am curious how we compare to them thus far. So far as the games are concerned, that is."

"They ain't as hands-on either, Toast." Pewter rubs his cheek in contemplation as he nabs another saltine from Parry's tray. Nom nom nom.

"Somehow I doubt much thought went into a platypus," Cora replies to Bia with a dry smile as she tosses her chips into the center, Parry given a nod in return for her apology, "Much like gumbo, I imagine they just tossed in whatever was left lying around at the end of the day." Her cigarette is balanced in the corner of her lips as she lifts her cards, rearranging them and exchanging a couple.

Sitka is cutting that meeting a little fine. If that is, indeed, what he's due for— Cidra likely knows. But given his propensity for showing up late to most things.. well. He sifts through his cards briefly, checks his watch, and tosses down a few more chips after a brief glance across to Cora.

"Are you kidding? That thing took some imagination." Ben quips to Cora as he hides behind his wall of cards, the pronounced wrinkles prime on his forehead.

Cidra does more folding. For which she's showing a propensity for as the game turns. She takes a cracker as well when the yeoman makes her next nearby pass, pausing in her smoking to nibble it. "Can you make gumbo out of a platypus, I wonder?" she asks. Of Cora and Bia both, presumably.

Cue a peal of soft but much-amused laughter from the Interim CMO. "Lords, no," she figures, shaking her head at her cards as she moves one from /here/ over to /there/, as if it might help things. "Hain't any meat worth eating on those poor things, not to mention the poison. Ah, damnation, again?" she finishes, with a gentle grimace at her (losing) hand of cards.

Sitka leans in a little closer to Cora briefly, in order to snag the ashtray she'd been using with his pinky finger, and drag it nearer. His smoke's pulled from one last time — a long, hard drag sucked deep into his lungs — before he puts the thing out, and flips over his cards for the throwdown. Oh, hey, look at that. "And I guess on that note, I should be going," he murmurs, mouth twisting into a characteristically smug grin. "Thanks for the game, sir," is pitched Pewter's way as he clambers to his feet. "Someone wants to sit in for me, they're welcome."

"I've no idea," Cora admits as she folds, eyeing the eventual hands and casting Bia a sympathetic look. Sitka's hand appearing draws a flick of her eyes before the purpose for it is noted and she nods at the captain, smiling faintly at his exit. "Might as well quit on a high note," she agrees, offering a, "Evening, captain," as he departs before turning back to her hand and admitting, "I've never actually seen a platypus in life. Nor eaten gumbo, that I recall."

"Man. You boys been marking these cards while I've been sittin' on my thumbs all these weeks? I should've brought /my/ deck." Ben states, keeping his topic of conversation on the game. "Take the money and run, Captain." This is delivered to Sitka on his way out. "Well played."

"Strong play," says Pewter approvingly, already reaching for the results of the next deal. The cards are lifted from the table by their edges so only he can see the dots printed onto the well-worn deck. "And Toast, don't listen to that snob." Gracious Bia. "I tell you, y'all can make gumbo out of anything if y'all boil it down long enough." The man's belly vibrates ever so slightly as he laughs. "Remember I went out huntin' when I was a kid and brought back a brace of squirrels. Shot them right good in the head, too, and I took 'em home to Mammy and man, if y'all never seen a frakkin' pair of fuzzy tails stickin' out of a pot — " Pewter sways forward in his chair to push a couple of chips into the center of the table. "Man."

Parry, for her part, sits down in the seat recently vacated by the departing pilot, gathering up his chips with her usual noncommittal smile. Demure — so demure. Nothing to see here, folks.

"They are poisonous?" Cidra seems surprised. "I would not have thought it so. They seem such amusing little creatures. Though I have only seen them on those wireless videos they used to broadcast on the animal channels." A two-fingered salute is offered to departing Sitka. She takes some satisfaction in his win. At least her personnel aren't being entirely cleaned out by this. As for gumbo she says, "That I used to eat quite often. I did my flight training on Scorpia. Wonderful restaurants for it. It is good. Spicy."

"I had no idea they were poisonous," Cora remarks, a glance slid towards Pewter and his mountain of chips as the colonel folds. "Just going to wait us all out, sir?" she asks, lips curving oh-so-faintly, "That's not very sporting."

"If'n I may back the conversation up just a touch, seeing as I helped derail it in the first place," Good Gracious murmurs, drawing two cards out of her deck and tossing them in for two fresh ones, frowning briefly at the results. "I do confess a powerful curiousity as to where we're aiming, once we've finished admiring what's left of Aquaria." A glance up at Pewter — just a glance — before she arranges her hand.

Cidra folds yet again, eyeing the pillowcase she brought with her balefully. "Bootstrap has cursed me, I do think," she says dryly. Whether he has or not, she can blame him. What she's delivered this time is eyed skeptically. But she's been eyeing her cards skeptically all night. Not that they haven't deserved it. "Do you play often, Lieutenant?" The question to Cora. "You are having quite a run."

"Heard they eat some kind of tarantula on Scorpia that's just as dangerous. Well, once they peel the hairs off." Ben says jovially enough as the rest of his chips go south. "Ah. See, I predicted it. 'Cept it wasn't a slow death." Slapping the cards down, he slowly scoots back in his chair, his lined face twisting in the faintest of smiles. "This is it, I guess. One last, desperate grasp at glory."

"I am sure there are few people indeed that Lieutenant Trask has not cursed at one time or another," Cora deadpans to Cidra. She considers the table for a moment before she folds, cards tossed aside. Cigarette is ashed, a drag taken and exhaled over her shoulder before she shrugs at Cidra. "I haven't played in a while, but there was little enough to do in Kythera. It's a game of luck in the end, though."

"Y'all fight fair, y'all get crunched," Pewter observes, turning a few chips round and round in his hand as he eyes the young lieutenant. "Thought they taught that to y'all freshers at tacschool. And as for where we're goin'?" Pewter stacks those chips in front of him as he considers his options; then, he pushes them in. "Right now, we're stayin' put 'til Gabby tells me we're good to go. Which reminds me, Toast — let's get some Raptors out there, see how bad we hit them when we hit them. Sag first. Virgon, Aerilon, Gemenon — the outer Colonies. Quiet-like, too. Next time they see us, if they see us, they should also see our whole godsdamned arsenal flyin' at 'em."

"There wasn't much to do in Kythera /before/ it got bombed to Hell." Ben mumbles as he squints over his last hand of cards, clutching it like a drowning man holding on to a lifeline. All the talk of returning to business, though. "You know, back in the War. Well, the first one, I remember there was a lot of territory trading back and forth. That was the very picture of ugly." He pauses, appearing to be going somewhere with this by the look of utter concentration on his face.

Cidra nods in agreement with Cora on that. "Luck entirely. Though there is a certain skill involved in being able to read your opponent." Eyes flick up across the table to meet Pewter's for a beat. "Our whole arsenal? You think that the best way to approach them?" Eyes regard him steadily. "You and I shall discuss the deployment of our Raptors in a more official setting. Though I concur renewed reconnaissance efforts are called for. We have toyed in the past with efforts to mask our FTL signatures. I shall see if we can employ that on any birds sent out - quiet-like."

"But maybe that'll have to wait for another time." As the cards get slapped down, one of the two old men, the one not in uniform sighs, bemusedly. "Enjoy the winnings. Whichever of you pulls this off." He edges away from the table but lingers to watch the game unfold.

"True," Cora agrees with the major, and then she repeats it, even more emphatically, to Benjamin when he derides Kythera, "True. Very true. Not among my favorite locations, I have to say, before or after the bombing." She reaches out a finger to steal that ashtray back from near where Parry sits at Sitka's former seat, stubbing out what's left of her cigarette. As for their plans moving forward, she makes no comment, just listening to the back and forth.

Good Gracious sneaks a look from beneath sooty lashes to Cidra, then across to Pewter as the two speak of official settings and 'quiet-like' engagements. "So much for being hungry for catfish," she murmurs, her drawl gone just a touch droll.

"Y'all don't honesty think I meant that all literal, Toast, hmm?" Mildly spoken, even as Pewter gives Benjamin a faint nod and a wide approving grin — communicating with a form of telepathy possessed only by two grizzled old veterans. "I'd rather they detect us when we got all our ships ready for fightin', 'stead of a single Raptor shittin' its engines as Raiders jump all over it." But as Bia sends in more chips, the colonel signals his retreat. Never let it be said that he's animated by the cult of the offensive.

Parry, meanwhile, has finished up with the business of cleaning at last, and it's with her practiced small strides that she moves toward the shiny metal case nearby. Sitka's chips are sorted into their proper order with exacting precision even as her other hand hits the intercom to summon various galley personnel for clean-up duty.

"Mmm. Well, let's just say I thought being stuffed into that airbase would be the end of me. Got so bored that when I got out, I was resigned to a quiet life. Didn't even feel like moving anywhere else." Ben muses along with the others, riffing off Cora's statement as he watches the game unfold with rapt attention at this point. His fingers drum absently on a nearby table.

Cidra is probably not going to be keeping her smokes. Or her tea. Perhaps she should've bet whatever was in Trask's gift folder. It did not look like something she'd particular care about losing. New cards are eyed, and four of them just done away with, but she stays in. To the bitter end.

"Three times damnation," Good Gracious murmurs, shaking her head sadly at her cards. "I do hope y'all enjoy those cookies." She tosses her cards in, and folds her arms lightly across her chest.

Cidra pushes the last of her chips across the table. She's all in now.

Pewter isn't, not quite, but seeing as he doesn't quite have enough chips to stand pat, it seems he's willing to see how the cards fall.

Cora groans as the cards are put down, turning to Cidra with a laugh. "I would have shared the cookies with you!" she says, shaking her head. A pocket is reached into, a new cigarette withdrawn and lit. "One more hand, sir?" she suggests to Pewter, arching a brow with the question.

Cidra blinks at the way the cards fall. She was not particularly expecting that. She smirks. "Not much of a victory. I only handed the field to the Colonel." An arch look across the table at Pewter himself. "Unless he is not unafraid to…take the money and run, I believe is the colloquial phrase?"

"Y'all kiddin' me? Course I'm runnin'. See what I said about fightin' fair?" A quick, easy grin — and that's that. Pewter shall savor the victory, hard-won as it was — but the spoils? They're another story entirely. Parry is already handing out the loot, and notably, only that fine bottle of fancy rum returns to the night's champion. The rest is deposited where the chips once were, accompanied by just the slightest over-bending of her body than perhaps necessary for the task.

"The Colonel can't have any of this," she announces, her voice silk. "It's bad for his heart. Doctor's orders." Which means it's fair game for the rest of them.

"Didn't have to tell 'em that," Pewter mutters, even as he pushes himself back from the table to retrieve a couple of glasses from a little bag kept near the food. "Coulda just made me look magnanimous and shit. Anyway. Thanks for comin' out. Never figured we'd be talkin' about platypus while I won the damn thing, so I guess Red over there can keep her job." Another boisterous laugh; then, he's pouring out a couple of shots before gesturing for everybody to sit back down. This time, it's a special deck he's removed from his trousers' right pocket, its back blue instead of red — and, without bothering to shuffle, he's dealing out another hand. Now what is he up to?

Cora's brows rise as the loot is rearranged, and the shots are being poured and new decks dealt. She had never risen from her chair, but she settled back into it, now, leaning forward slightly and not just to reach for that ashtray again. She's curious, clearly, collecting the new cards Pewter passes over and shuffling through them in her hand.

"Had you fought fair, Colonel, I would have figured I had misjudged you," Cidra says, dry as dust. "As for our deployment. You and I should talk later." She eyes the shots. "No thank you. I do not drink often beyond a little ceremonial wine. It musses with senses in a way I do not care for." Again, very dry. There's the sound of a joke buried there, albeit one so inside it may be meant only for herself. Her cards are collected, examined, and *eyed*. A look up from them, to *eye* Pewter.

Cora picks up the shot glass that's placed in front of her, taking a small sip, less like she's tentative and more like she's curious to get the full bredth of the aged rum's flavor. Then she shoots the rest, a discreet sideways glance cast at Cidra's glass as she refuses it, though she makes no moved to claim it for herself.

"What ARE you getting at, Colonel?" wonders the Interim CMO, not leaning forward for her cards for several long seconds. Deeply curious, though not quite to the point of wariness. Finally, she unfolds her arms and reaches one long-fingered hand to her cards, drawing them in for inspection. For the third time this evening, her brows shoot upward. "Fish cards," she drawls. The shot is collected and sniffed gently at, before being tipped back.

"Y'all should be thankful I don't fight fair," says Pewter, staring Cidra down from behind those glasses — and his avuncular attitude seems to vanish into thin air. "Here or out there." But just as quickly as it's spoken, his trademark wide smile is back. "As for these? These here, they're my lucky cards," Pewter says, even as he antes up — one hand snapping his fingers in the air to summon Parry from her chip-arranging duties. From her pocket (yes, her uniform isn't so form-fitting that she doesn't have voluminous pockets) is produced a small carton of what looks to be … staples, which are set rather ceremoniously at the center of the table. "Thanks, Red. Anyway. Special cards. Been with me ever since I got those fancy pins over there, gods, I forget how long ago. Old CO bought 'em off some hick street vendor in Aquaria, thought I might like 'em." A snort as he pushes all of his chips forward. "She was an asshole, too. Bet's on y'all."

"Aha. That's a man after my own heart, Colonel." Ben, who's been lingering at the periphery looks up from the fray after watching the ebb and flow of the match for some time. Again, there's a low snicker of a laugh. It just looks and sounds a little out of place. For him.

Cidra lays her new cards down on the table. Pointedly. "Gambling is one thing, but I do not play games that are rigged to lose." With that, she stands to take her leave. Eyes never leaving Pewter. "I am out."

Cora casts a look over towards Cidra as she folds, and then turns back to Pewter, watching the CO for a long moment. Her cards are left face-down on the table, but she pushes her chips into the pot, never taking her eyes off the colonel as she does it.

"They /do/ seem powerful lucky," murmurs Good Gracious, tipping a final drop of fine rum into her mouth before setting the shotglass aside, then pushing the remaining heap of chips into the growing pot. She looks to Cidra, saying nothing, then turns her eyes back to the Colonel.

"Now wouldn't that be a shitty game, Toast." His smile never leaves his face as he turns over his cards — to reveal exactly nothing of substance. There's a red-one here, a blue-three there, and a couple of assotred twos: certainly nothing at all that justified the massive investment he made. "But maybe this ain't that kind of game at all, hmm? Just a thought." All his chips are thrust upon the interim CMO with a single sweep of his massive arm. "Maybe," he muses, swirling around the shot of rum in his glass, "it just takes a little time to see the play." And without further ado he's opening the box before sliding it across green felt into the woman's waiting lap —

To reveal, when it stops, the glint of fancy brass.

"Nice win, Captain Bia," he says, killing his rum before lumbering to his feet. "And next time y'all want to make me some cookies, y'all best not do it in front of Red. Frakkin' fascist." There's that room-shaking laugh, one last time, before he's moving off.

Cidra had gathered up her pillowcase and was on point of departing in an icy huff. But she's not so fast in her departure that she misses the end of the game. She pivots back around to face the table. Still eyeing Pewter. Narrowly, but appraisingly. And with open puzzlement. He has managed to surprise the CAG. She is clearly unsure how to take that. Though she does manage the barest hint of a smile to Bia. "Oh. Well. Congratulations, Captain."

Cora flips her own hand over after the betting's completed, revealing a spectacularly bad array of blue threes and one green two in the bunch. Just out of curiosity, she reaches to flip Cidra's discarded hand as well, revealing a similarly ugly collection of cards. She does not seem surprised when the pot goes Bia's way, but she does glance back in time to see the pins in the box revealed, and she smiles. "Congratulations, captain," she offers, discreetly stealing Cidra's shot as she rises.

Nice win, says the Colonel, before Good Gracious finishes laying her own cards down. A red, and another red, and another, until a Full Colours lays itself out there. Her dark eyes flick up from her perfect hand, to the perfectly /bad/ hands around her, then lift to Pewter's face. For a moment, she looks none too pleased with the man, her expression rather similar to the CAG's frostiness. Then the squirm of brass distracts her; she catches it in both hands and peers down at it as if not understanding what she's seeing. Then, a long beat later: "Hain't what I was expecting for two dozen cookies, Sir. Thank you."

"Just means I get to work y'all harder," says Pewter from the hatch, and though his tone is light, his words certainly aren't. "Ain't no more interims round these parts. Not pilots, not docs, not nobody." His grin is tense; almost taut. "Welcome to the bigtime." And then clang goes the hatch as he goes to bury himself in work.

"Congratulations, sir." Parry steps ever so gracefully past Cora — a little too close for comfort, maybe — to approach the newly-minted Captain with the box of cookies in hand. The smallest one is selected by slender fingers and tasted experimentally; then, with a 'mmm' of approval that almost verges on sensual, she's polishing off her one luxury of the week. "You should allocate the pot as you see fit," she advises the gathered officers, even as she retrieves the abandoned bottle of rum. That one's for her.

Cidra is still off-balance. For the umpteenth time this evening. Not something usually put on display, where she's concerned. A look is exchanged with Bia, and a rueful sort of shrug. They got played. "I never know what in the worlds that man is thinking…" she says, with clear irritation.

The irony of that statement is, most assuredly, lost on her.

Not lost on Cora, who just looks at the CAG for a moment before she smiles and offers, "I frequently have no idea what he's saying, so." She shrugs a little, brows shifting briefly as Parry passes, another look cast at the petty officer before she turns to look at the other women. "Well. As you both outrank me, now, I think you probably get first pick of the pot," she says. Despite the fact that she beat them. And almost won. CIDRA.

"Hain't no way I'm taking these cookies back. I threw in my cards on our seventh hand, fair and square," says Good Gracious. "Why don't you both-" To Cidra and Cora. "-take you ten apiece, and I'll see the remainders to Captain Sitka and Mister Benjamin."

Parry doesn't stay to evaluate the ultimate distribution of the loot. It's with utmost tenderness that she places the rum in her bag, and — after giving clipped instructions to a bored pair of galley cooks, she too is heading off through the hatch, the haughty clicking of her boots on deck fading as she disappears down the hall.

"Thank you," Cidra says, happy to accept the cookies. She reclaims what of her loot she's able. That which hasn't already been won by someone else. The cards were not with her tonight. A half-shrug is offered to Cora. Still rueful. It's not exactly apologetic, but she's a *little* regretful someone missed the chance to beat the old man.

"You ought to have a couple," Cora says to Bia, and though it clearly pains her slightly to say it, she offers, "I'll split my ten with you." Cidra's shrug is met with a shrug in return, an 'oh well', sort of expression as the lieutenant collects her bottle back. "What was in the folder?" she asks the major after a beat.

"Lieutenant Trask thought he was being amusing. It is something about which he is frequently mistaken," Cidra non-answers Cora as she sweeps out of the rec room.

Twenty-five cookies in that light cardboard box (two dozen plus one for the pot, don'tcha know), minus one claimed by the lovely Yeoman, minus twenty for Cidra and Cora. It's delicious math. Good Gracious looks up from wrapping the final four cookies up carefully in some napkins and says to Cora, "Take you those ten cookies, Lieutenant. I know how many I baked, and it weren't only two dozen." Dark eyes glimmer as she says it.

Cora glances after Cidra briefly and then nods to Bia and guesses aloud, "Porn. Definitely." As for the cookies, she looks like she might protest, and then blinks and grins, nodding, "Well played, captain. Thank you." The cookies are taken and wrapped up carefully, disguised in a larger napkin-bundle and carried away.

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