Reil stood at the side of the road, grinning with nostalgia as he looked over the property. Cali looked it over to, and was less than impressed with their new accommodations. The property was a scrap heap, and on top of that, the actual house was a dump. The roof was sagging; the paint was peeling off and an ugly white with puke green trim.
“This is home?” She asked with a mixture of disappointment and incredulity.
Reil kept smiling.
“As close as it gets, anyhow. Come on, I should probably tell Sunny we’ll be staying with him for a bit.”
As they picked their way through the front yard, or the forward debris field, Cali couldn’t help but wonder about their new host. Zealos had not been forthcoming with any details.
“So, is Sunny like a relative of yours, or something?”
Reil snorted as he picked his way through the yard with considerably more ease than Cali.
“Nothing so unfortunate. He’s the one who took me in when I ran away from home.”
Cali had to climb over a rusted hull panel to keep up with Zealos.
“Why’d he do that?”
Reil paused for a moment to let her catch up.
“You’d have to ask him.”
Reil ignored the front door, and Cali followed him around to the side of the house. The property dropped off quite steeply a few feet in, and they had to jump down the ledge.
“So you don’t have any idea why he helped you?”
“Sunny does things for his own reasons, speculating on what they might be don’t interest me overly much.” Reil said as banged on a door that lead to the basement of the house.
The wind began to pick up as they waited, and Cali shivered as she felt it cut through her heavy jacket. “So how do you know he’ll help us now?”
“Truth be told, I don’t know that he will”, Reil said just as the door unlocked, “But I take that to be a very good sign.”
Inside it was dark, and filthy, and cold, almost as bad as it had been outside. Buckets full of dark liquids gave off a terrible smell and odd pieces of machinery were littered about here as well, but there was a clear path between the doorway and the far end of the basement, where there was a workbench. Sitting at the workbench was an older man, so fat the chair he was sitting on looked as if it could go at any minute. He had a stubby cigara lit, and he sat there sizing up his new guests.
“Zealos, that you?”
“If you’d turn on a light, you’d see for yourself who it was.”
The fat man laughed.
“Doubt it. Eyesight’s not what it used to be. I always knew you’d come crawling back.”
Reil raised an eyebrow.
“I was gonna give you a proper trade, a mechanic’s a good living, but you knew better! Too good to be mucking about in grease, you had to go be a fighter pilot! Well how’d that work out?”
“I was shot down.” Reil conceded.
“HAH! Well, you aren’t dead. Got that part right, heya? I don’t suppose you brought your ship here, maybe I could take a look at ‘er.”
Reil shook his head.
“It was scrap Sunny.”
“Bah, like you’d know! I could have taught ya how to put it together blindfolded, but you never had any time for lessons. ‘That’s broken, can’t be fixed’, ‘It’s a wreck, not worth the time’” He mimicked. “Well now you’re short a ship, so who’s the clever one?”
“For the record, it exploded. It was literally just scrap metal. And secondly, I never actually saw you fix anything, while I was living here, so when were you going to school me in your mechanical craft?”
“I fixed lots of things. Like that swoop, whasshisname brought in.”
Reil tried to recall the incident.
“ ‘Attsa one.”
“You rigged it to explode!”
The fat man took umbrage to that.
“He wanted it to explode! Split the insurance money with me. . .”
Zealos rubbed his temples.
“Be that as it may, blowing it up, even on purpose does not in any sense of the word; qualify as ‘fixing’ it. I would have been better prepared for a career in demolitions than mechanics apprenticing with you.”
Sunny struggled out of his chair and flicked a light switch. It didn’t help overly much.
“Hah! That would have been worse than your becoming a fighter pilot. Come here, lemme get a look at you.”
Zealos stepped forward and extended his hand to shake but Sunny pulled him close and mussed his hair instead. As Zealos pulled free Sunny turned his attention to Cali, who had been waiting patiently for someone to remember her.
“Who’s this then? Got yourself a girl have you?”
Zealos hesistated for a minute before answering. I've been with Cali for months and I still don't know what I've got. Or what I want.
In the meantime Cali stepped forward and took Sunny's hand.
"I'm Cali, Reil's partner."
"Partner eh? In what sort buisness?"
"The keeping out of jail sort." Zealos replied. "I was hoping you could help us out with that for a bit."
"Yeah, I reckon I could help with that. I suppose you'll be wanting your old room back for a time."
"A room for Cali as well. Ya know, you don't have to look so pained about it, we won't be here more than a week."
"It feels like it's been month's already."
Zealos Reil thought he was hot
so he left the sim-pod cold
on his eighth mission he got shot
and that's all there is to be told.
Draw your own conclusions rookies.