“How can you say I’m capped, I’m barely tipsy! What the hell…”
It didn’t help. The bartender was adamant, showing her the alcometer again.
“You believe that thing? It’s ancient, it can’t tell alcohol from oxygen.” But the bartender was already busy with their next customer.
Keith stepped in before Felicia could lean over the bar and talk some real sense into the bartender, putting his hands on her shoulders and gently steered her away from the bar. He was shorter and thinner than her, and she used to be able to wrestle him down more often than not on sparring sessions, but wisely enough, she dismissed the thought. The bruisers in here wouldn’t be able to tell a friendly wrestle from actual fights.
“Come on Felicia”, Keith soothed as he navigated them through the crowded room, trying to avoid bumping into too many people. He had to raise his voice though to be heard over the loud chatter and music. “Remember the golden rule of drinking. Don’t…?”
“Don’t argue with bartenders”, Felicia groaned. “Crap rule if you ask me…”
She had to admit that she was being childish, and that drinking more would only worsen it, but she wanted to get seriously drunk so badly right now. However, it was their last night of shore leave, and she really shouldn’t show up at boarding briefing on Ignis with a hangover.
Not that she hadn’t done that before. Only, the last time it happened, she had to fling herself out of the line and to nearest sink to throw up the middle of it. Captain Avril had been… rather unamused. Felicia wasn’t going to make that mistake again. At least not in the nearest future.
They got back to the booth along the wall where their teammates sat, and she slumped down on the worn seat next to Morgan.
“Felicia’s capped”, Keith told them with a cocky smile, and only Daleen had the decency to look sympathetic about it.
“Chin up, babe”, Keith said and ruffled her hair, “I’ll get you a nice noncoholic one.” He headed for the bar again.
The system with alcometers at bars wasn’t popular with everyone, but the effects were showing. Crimes in public areas connected to alcohol, like assault, sexual abuse, drunk driving, had decreased. More people turned to home-distilling, naturally, but it seemed it was worth it in the long run.
“You need to learn to appreciate your drinks”, Santo said, raising his black, straight eyebrows in noble-like haughtiness. “That way you’ll last longer.” He nodded sagely and took a delicate sip from his own glass.
Daleen giggled helplessly beside him. She was capped too, you didn’t need an alcometer to figure that out.
“I don’t drink for the taste, smartass. If I was after the taste, I’d get a soda.” Felicia folded her arms across her chest, looking out over the crowded floor.
Keith came back and placed an orange drink with a glittery stirring stick in it in front of her.
“There you go, my babe”, he said, then squeezed in between Daleen and Santo, putting his arm around Daleen’s shoulders.
She leaned in on him, smiling widely, the booze-induced flush on her cheeks contrasting to her otherwise light skin tone. She was all seriousness and responsibility on duty, and usually off duty as well, but one alcodrink or two and she turned into a silly teenager.
“Has anyone heard anything about the new people we’re getting?” Morgan asked, and took a sip from his rat biter drink.
Morgan was from UC04, or the Lab as people called it. Many of the planets the Union was researching for colonisation were toxic in a lot of ways, and the people of UC04 were test subjects to implants, artificial organs and other things that would let people handle these toxins.
Over the years, the Lab rats had developed a liquid intoxicant that was practically undrinkable for other people, but that they enjoyed the same way as other people enjoyed booze. Morgan rarely found rat biters at the bars in Sol’s Ward, but tonight he had been lucky.
“The captain sent a message, didn’t you read it?” Santo asked.
“I did, but it wasn’t exactly elaborative, was it?” Morgan adjusted his pale hair. Not that it was needed, but he had a habit of doing it anyway.
Felicia still felt more antipathy than anticipation to the new soldiers. She looked sourly at her adorned drink. Then finally accepted the fact that it was the best she would get from now on, and took a sip from it. Reluctantly, she had to admit it tasted divine.
“I heard you get two amped people at least”, said Daleen.
“Yes we do”, Santo nodded and sounded very pleased with this. “We’ll top the imp list once again.”
“With great imps comes great trouble though, don’t forget that”, Keith pointed out and looked meaningly at Felicia.
“You’re just bummed I can see you two banging two rooms away”, she said stiffly.
Daleen snorted with laughter.
“You what?!” Keith squealed as if it was the first time he heard this.
“Sorry to break this to you”, Santo said with a smile, “but even us without amps can hear you doing it two rooms away.” Then he had to duck away when Keith aimed a slap at his head.
“If I had a dick I would leave the condoms on your pillows”, Keith said and leaned back, and got disgusted protests from both Daleen and Morgan. Felicia and Santo laughed.
“I hope the frontliner is a decent one at least”, Morgan said then, maybe to pull the conversation in another direction.
Felicia looked at the table, pulling in her lower lip between her teeth.
“Yeah”, Santo agreed. “And that none of them forget their contraceptives.”
“To contraceptives”, said Keith and raised his glass.
“To Dieter”, countered Morgan.
“Dieter”, Felicia joined in.
“Alright, Dieter too”, Keith conceded, and the five of them clinked their glasses against the others’ and drank to their fallen comrade.