Criminal Minds
Summary: A poker game, a Kommisar, and drunken Demarians in the Rockhopper? What could go wrong?
Cast: Stars, Kolek, Aleksei, Ace, Nixkamich, Nathan
Air Date: 2007.04.13

Rockhopper's Haven <Resilience: Ungstir>

This cavernous chamber in the natural rock of the Ungstir planetoid appears to be some kind of converted mining operation facility, with large, rusty ore grinders, separation platforms and storage silos arrayed throughout. Automated ore-hauling bots - still functional despite age - whir and clunk overhead, following tracks set into the ceiling that weave around the antiquated mining equipment.

Metal-seated stools border a semicircular bar counter which is about one hundred feet long from end to end.

The bartender is usually clad in mining gear - complete with hardhat and overalls - and it doesn't always appear to be just for purposes of keeping in theme. The Rockhopper's Haven has a reputation as a rough spot among rough spots, with fisticuffs and gunfights erupting on a fairly regular basis - thus keeping the civilian constabulary on their toes (when they aren't actually involved in the fights themselves).

The rockhopper's /hopping/ this time of morning - the third shifters are coming in, boisterous and rowdy, the second shifters heading home to sleep. Regardless, Rockhopper's is never really /quiet/ anyway.

At a table in a back corner, an impromptu poker game is going in full swing... currently being patronized by three ungstiri... and a massive, black-furred demarian. Rubles are on the table, for this one, and the three are taking it vaguely seriously, vodka and cards in equal measure.

"Thrree of a kind, Jacks." The big demarian rakes in the pot, to the groans and vague Mierzkgovny curses of his playmates. "Sorry, fellas, but thanks forr the next rround. Anotherr hand?"

Rubles are tossed on the table as the deck is shuffled. "Vi lucky bastard," from one of the players. "Are going to run out of luck soon, da?"

Kolek sees the hand, smirking, before angling towards the bar, and sitting himself down in a metal seated stool.

Nathan drifts into the bar among a crowd of regulars, his tan shirt clean enough that he couldn't have just come off a shift but stained enough with grease or whatever that he might pass for a working man. He stops just inside to get a look around the place, subconsciously raises a hand to cover an oval patch stitched onto his shirt over the left chest, and after a moment decides to put both hands in his pockets and head for a section of bar where he can take over an empty seat.

The card game picks back up again, the pot growing, the four players ribbing each other a bit as they call for draws and place bets.. ".. Ivan, you'rre going to give me yourr whole paycheck at this rrate." The Demarian peers over at the fellow, tail flicking. "You'rre the worrst bluff on the Rrock, hands down." One of the other Ungstiri folds, tossing his cards on the table even as 'Ivan' blinks. "Who says am bluffink, da?"

Kolek remains at the bar, waiting for the bartender, glancing around.

Not big and scary like the Demarian at the card table and not well-camouflaged among the Ungstiri, Nathan stands at the bar with quiet patience while the tender works other customers. It's not until the server has a free minute that the outsider even gets noticed, and when he is he orders simply, "Whatever's popular."

The game cycles through, the cards turned face up... and the pot goes to Ivan, a full house - against a three of a kind and Stars? Ten-high. The table shares a laugh at the Demarian's expense...

"Who was bluffink, then, da?"

"... hey, can't blame a guy forr trrying." Stars grins - his turn to deal, and cuts the deck deftly with massive paws, shuffling. "... can't win 'em all, anyway. One morre?"

The 'tender gives the fellow a once-over, and grunts. "Styoli, komink up, da?" The short, round fellow sets about pouuring something that looks like jet fuel and smells like pure alcohol - vodka's older brother, the sort that beats him up regularly.

"Smells like degreaser," Nathan observes to himself as he takes up the offered glass and passes it under his nose. Before he has time to consider what he's doing, he puts the edge of the glass against his lower lip and turns it abruptly up for a swift shot. When his eyes squint shut and his jaw clenches involuntarily he says, "YEAH! That's degreaser!" and gives the bartender a big grin before he takes a second nearly-as-painful-looking gulp of the stuff. He still has half a glass which is pushed back toward the bartender and tapped with one fingertip. "Fill'er back up, will you?"

The card game gets back in full swing, the Demarian tossing cards with practiced ease... "This time, frriends, I'm cleaning you out." Lightly.. "Forregone conclusion."

The others roll their eyes and make various comments about never letting Demarians deal - gets fur in the cards (or in vodka, or in the environmental unit). Regardless, the betting starts with its usual ferocity.

The 'tender - and the patrons around Nate - flash grins, and pound him on the back. One rather grime-covered miner laughs long and loud, saying /something/ in Mierzcgovny, a friend translating - "He says vi may be stupid tourist, but at least can hold scumble, da?" The glass gets refilled with something /nicer/. Actual ungstiri vodka, this time, the 'tender laughing.

"Tourist?" Nathan accepts the new glass and gives it a whiff before he tries a slow, measured drink. That rolls around his mouth, probably still numb and tasteless from the last two shots, and then lets it slide down his throat. Then, "Stupid?" comes out of him with an angry edge and he gives a hard look over at the foreign speaker. He stares at that one for a long time before he decides to let it slide and tries another swallow of the vodka instead.

The hard look is met with more laughter, and a lot of babble in the Ungstiri's native tongue - whatever he says sets two of the miners to even greater heights of hilarity. The 'tender taps the bartop - "vi say when vi want another, da?" - and moves on to other patrons.

"Stupid" and his dust-covered friend give Nathan a speculative glance, still grinning, and then the former nudges the latter, who pipes up.. "Vi have problem with 'stupid', drook?"

Nathan says, "I got a problem with stupid when it's the only word I understand," Nathan answers, turning his head to look at the translator. "But I ain't got enough problem with it to get thrown outta a place that pushes proper hooch."

Over in one corner of the bar, there's a card game in progress - a massive, black-furred demarian and three ungstiri miners trading vodka, cards, and rubles with equal alacrity, all - it seems - in mostly good fun, at the moment. The third-shifters, heading in for the evening, are in full swing, as well, noisy and boisterous despite the 'early' hour.

Up at the bar, Nathan is the object of much amusement from a handful of said third-shifters, as he settles into a glass of vodka.

"Altheiorr's /teeth/"... the demarian loses it seems, a pair of fours and an ace falling to a pair of kings. "Next time - " A toothy smile as he passes the deck left, the table clearing for the next game.

One of the two vocal miners by Nathan laughs, again clapping the man on the shoulder. ".. good, da! Is best kind of tourist!"

Aleksei strolls into Rockhopper's. As he moves to the counter, he takes note of the ongoing game but ignores it for the moment. "Tea, Ivan. Ungstiri, not Sivadian, yes?", Al quietly sez to the bartender. Ivan goes to the close by samovar to brew up some tea.

Nathan can't help but join in the laughing with the loud miners, and when he hears something that sounds like a compliment he hefts his glass in a toast and then drains off the glass to it. When the empty vodka is set back on the bar, he retrieves his half glass of styoli and leans over it to breathe in the fumes rising from it.

Aleksei gets more than one friendly nod - a regular, by the look of things - and one catcall, something in Mierzcgovny that sets at least one table on a friendly roar. The miners seem content to let Nathan be, for now, filling in around him and chatting among themselves - though he gets more than one grin, and probably more than that in number of wry comments.

The game? It's merrily into another hand, the bottle of vodka at the table down by half.

"... this time, it's done." The Demarian adds to the pot, tail flicking - a gold-ring'd ear flicking.

"Vi have said that before, and are still down seventy, da?"

"not forr long, frriend, not forr long..."

Aleksei nods back and snorts at the catcall. "I've heard worse, believe me." He smirks and then smiles as the tea arrives. As Al drinks he observes the card game going on. He smirks slightly as he notices the giant Demarian losing.

Nathan, content to be left alone with his vodka, ignores the miners around him while he drinks the stuff he calls degreaser. If one didn't know better, it might seem like the stupid tourist actually likes it.

Third shift is.. well, in full swing in Rockhopper's, anyway. Alek's got tea at the bar, Nathan down the way experimenting with Vodka and scumble, the local Styoli, in equal measure. The place has that merry roar that Rockhopper's is famous for.. and there's not even a fight yet.

Over in one corner, a massive, black-furred demarian is, indeed, losing - this time all of 'em staying in and getting taken by Yuri's Jack-high straight - a fourth in a four-way poker game with a rapidly vanishing bottle of vodka and ever more outlandish stakes as a result. The three losers /all/ groan on that one, making comments about luck, and how it really isn't going their way.

"... damn, yurri - you humans and yourr lack of a tail." the big demarian's at least losing gracefully, it seems.

The cards get set up for another go, rubles tossed in the pot - the cards in the hands of one of the Ungstiri, who shuffles happily.

After knocking back a couple drinks, Kolek rises from the stool and walks over towards Stars, "Getting your tail whooped, huh?" Apparently, he had been observing.

Ace sweeps in through the tavern door, the quarter panels of her gray longcoat swirling around her knees like a fog as her gaze sweeps the room through mirrored sunglasses. Where she goes, there seem to be mixed reactions. Some groups of miners momentarily falls silent only to then speak quietly among themselves as they warily watch her go. Others greet her with a friendly nod while one calls out from the back, "Thirteen!" She nods to him on her way to the bar, "Set one up, Eddie," she greets the bartender who pours her a shot of ice cold vodka from the more expensive rack in the ice box.

Aleksei still observes the ongoing game whilst drinking from his tea. He turns his head for a second and notices Ace. He gives her a nod and asks her. "When you guys are ready for finding that HenchCorp facility in the Tomin Nebula, I'm ready to go, yes? Just letting you know. Incidentally, the giant cat there's not doing so well at that game." Al's scar distorts his sneer slightly as he resumes his tea drinking.

"Not too bad - down a little, up a little. You in, Kolek?" The demarian peers... well.. across at the ungstiri (even sitting, he's eye level to most of the standers in the room) - the cards are starting their way around, the group tossing in their ante as the get situated.

"Da, drook!" This from Yuri, the night's winner - "One more to pay for week's vodka, da?"

A last long swallow drains off the styoli in Nathan's glass and he stands staring at the empty vessel for a long time while the liquor has a chance to settle in and start seeping into his mind and extremities. Now that he's not drinking, he might almost be watched getting intoxicated.

Over at the game, the other two Ungstiri trade insults with Yuri in their native tongue - it's all in good fun, so far, though there's an edge to it. Two bottles of vodka in will do that, after all.

"Not today, nyet." Kolek replies, with a shake of his head, before turning to examine the newly arrived Ace.

Ace settles on a stool, "Have no plans to head in that direction right now," she replies to Aleksei, "But will let you know if we do." Her attention wanders over to Stars and Kolek, another nod in their direction, "Guess these miners, they have not heard the rule to surviving such things. Let the Demarian win."

Aleksei nods. "No big rush there. Have plenty of other things to do." Al then turns to look at the game. He snorts and adds to Ace's comment "Especially when he's taller than most Demarians. Then again, they might still have their picks with them. We shall see." Al once more resumes tea drinking and game watching.

Nathan catches the bartender's eye when the man passes him on the way to another part of the bar. He taps the empty styoli glass and passes over a credstick, then watches while the server heads to the rack to fetch him a bottle of the stuff.

The game goes on, as Kolek declines, with easy joshing and the rapid piling of rubles, the trading of cards, and the imbibing of vodka. By the time the cards go around, the pile's fairly substantial.. and it leads with Yuri.

.. ten high. Around the table?

Jack, then an Ace -

And the Demarian, with a tragic sigh, he lays out a diamond flush. "Sorry, frriends. Shouldn't bluff. Doesn't become you." His grin is wide and predatory as he rakes in the pot, amidst the disgusted grumbling of tablemates.

Kolek chuckles as he observes the Demarian win. "I'm lucky, da? Whenever I come by, you win."

"Do not think picks would be a good idea," Ace says dryly, tossing back half her vodka in one swallow. "It would only make him angry."

Aleksei finishs his tea off and smiles. "Good point." Al then notices Stars winning the game and collecting the pot. "Then again, Kapitan, sometimes luck just happens, as you see there." Al points briefly to the table where the game is, then turns to the bartender.

"And now, Ivan, a Stolichnaya..please. plain." Al patiently waits as the bartender pours the drink into a glass, which he then deposits in front of the Kommissar. "Spaciba.", Al quietly says to the bartender and starts to drink from the glass.

"I'm /not/ buying you a drrink. Lucky charrm or not." As two of the Ungstiri get up to leave, the Demarian awws, "I haven't had my shot at brreaking even!"

Yuri, last to get up, grins at the big cat - "... next week, da?" He waves a credchip - "Will keep it special for vi."

"Hrr. Ass." It's a friendly sort of name-calling. "No prroblem. Have thrree of those - you'll need 'em." Stars picks up the quarter-bottle still left on the table and stands - carefully - taking a hit and heading in Ace's direction.

Nathan, his bottle of special degreaser delivered and his drinks paid for, cradles the liquor in one arm and turns from the bar to weave his way toward the door. Wherever he's going, he seems intent on taking the good times with him.

Kolek also starts heading in Ace's direction, after Stars. "Lost some money, did you?"

"Luck?" Ace asks, "Or were they listening? Did you notice they lost one hand and then beat a hasty exit?"

Aleksei shrugs his shoulders. "Could be. Although how many hands did they win off him first? Would like to know that." Al takes a drink from his Stoli and watchs Stars and Kolek approach.

".. only down forrty. Been playin' for a while." The big demarian's tipsy? A bit, indeed, his tail, of all things, a bit unsteady, whapping a miner as he passes, Stars himself oblivious. ".. besides, all in good fun. I even think they bought the vodka." Yellow eyes focus on Ace, as he says, seriously, "I sorrt of have to be back herre in a week. Matterr of prrinciple."

Ace nods solemnly from the bar, finishing her own drink, "Will do my best to see to it that you uphold your honor and the honor of the Faux," she replies.

Aleksei archs an eyebrow. "Honor amongst thieves, eh? Ah, nevermind. Stoli's starting to kick in, da? Speaking of which.." Al proceeds to drink from his glass some more.

Stars snorts, softly - he takes another hit from his own bottle, blinking at the Kommissar. ".. m' not a thief. I brreak people's arrms until they give me things frreely." He nods, firmly. "Nothing stolen therre."

The miner probably /would/ have said something - but /that/ brings him up short. His friends laugh at him, he gets red faced, and the argument gets heated. Chaos, thy name is drunken tail.

The big cat, though, eyes Kolek. Balefully. "What?"

"You keep asking us for help with Henchcorp," Ace says, her voice taking on a slight chill as she rises from her barstool, "And then you insult us. Think perhaps you should find yourself someone else to carry you on this fools errand of yours."

Kolek shakes his head slowly, "Nevermind." He moves his gaze from Aleksei to Ace, saying nothing.

Aleksei nods and smirks at the massive Demarian. Al sardonically remarks: "Ah, I stand corrected! And to think that's what I thought was the definition of a thief. Ah well. been known to have been wrong." Then he notices Ace's words to him. "My apologies, Kapitan. Although I'd hardly call it a 'fools errand'. That facility is pretty dangerous, from what I understand. Plus, it might hold the end to the case I am working on, da?A"

Stars peers blearily at Aleksei. "Ass." Succinct, that. He takes another hit of vodka, looking speculative. "Say thief again."

"Would not if I were you," Ace warns softly.

Kolek crosses his arms, hands coming out of his pockets with a wry grin on his face. Nixkamich steps in from the commons, standing just to the side of the doorway, peering around the bar casually.

Aleksei says "Alright then..have not noticed you're not a thief..oops, sorry about that." Al offers a brief smile and takes another drink from his glass.

Stars takes a moment to process that, alcahol being what it is.. and with a shrug, flicks a casual backhand at Aleksi's head - apparently better safe than potentially insulted.

"Aw, hoop..." Ace swears softly, her eyes rolling up behind the mirrored shades.

Kolek eyes the man for any visible wallet or exterior valuables.

Aleksei gets properly smacked upside the head. "Ouch..deserved that, I suppose. No hard feelings, yes? Will also buy you drink. Offer holds good up to one drink though." Al grins whilst rubbing his head. Luckily, he's not feeling it yet..though he might tomorrow.

Stars flashes teeth.. and, of course, nods at the /expensive/ vodka. ".. surre. One of those, and we'll call it forrgiven." The big demarian's friendly, sure.

Ah-ha. Nix eye's catch the furred swap of Stars, looking over in the group's direction he starts heading towards them. "Striking the Kommissars, Stars? Or just being very opinionated?" the Qua muses, giving a wave general wave to everyone.

Ace chuckles as she shakes her head on the way out, "Was just friendly Rockhopper 'privet, comrade, would you buy me a drink?' Nothing more. Dobry vyechir, gentlemen," she says with a nod.

Aleksei nods to the Qua. "Lucky for him I aM offduty, yes. It's alright, though." Alek then turns to the Kapitan and nods to her. "See you later, Kapitan..And Kapitan Rathgard, as I said, trust me in this..this is *not* a fool's errand. I don't ask such things lightly, yes?" To Stars: "So, what drink do you take? Ivan, a Stolichnaya Vanil for me and for him..?" Al gestures to the giant cat.

"Sounds good. That worrks." Stars nods to Ivan, then explains patiently, as his drink is made - "See, frriend, herre's the thing. That, rright therre? It's not /theft/. It's /extorrtion/. You got to get yourr capital crrimes rright, orr people arre just going to laugh at you laterr." Alcohol makes him frriendly, it seems, as he drapes his heavy arm over Aleksi's shoulder - best of friends, it seems. "But now you see how it worrks. See, thief's when a guy, you know, steals yourr wallet. It's rraketeerring when it's a prrotection rracket. Prrecision in language is imporrtant."

Kolek glances at the Kommisar, and then Stars, "Am out, before I do something I regret, da?" He says with a smirk, walking out.

Ace stiffens as she looks back over her shoulder at Aleksei, "The name," she says quietly, "It is Ace." She smirks at Stars comments before turning back to head out on her way.

Nixkamich eyes the two, before giving a soft chuckle. "Looks like I missed the more interesting parts." he says, giving a nod to Ace.

Aleksei shrugs his shoulders at Ace. "If you say so." To Nixkamich: "Well, you missed his winning a card game over some miners. And some talking with..Ace..have to be careful around her, yes?" To Stars: "Ah, extortion! Da, must remember that one..though I have to tell you that that's a crime too. Like you didn't know." Al snorts, then smiles as Ivan gives him the vanilla Stoli.

"... well, that /depends/. See, extorrtion among frriends isn't rrealy /crriminal/.. it's morre.. educational. See, you learrned a lesson today." Stars sets down his bottle.. and picks up the glass, gracious. "Orr, at least you had the opporrrtunity too. This places us firrmly in the 'educational' categorry of violent crriminal activity."

Nixkamich blinks. "Thats an interesting perspective. One that I'll admit I hadn't thought of." he says. "But I would expect nothing less. You usually have a unique way of looking at things."

Aleksei smiles at Stars. "Oh, among *friends*. I see. Only criminal when it's from your enemies? Interesting." Al takes a drink from his glass and looks up at Stars. "And vhat he said, too.", gesturing at Nixkamich.

The Demarian waxes expansive, "Oh, hell no. You do it to enemies, it's educational, too. Just maybe the lessons arre set in terrms of /surrrvival/ instead of, you know, frriendly taps. Humans don't usually stay yourr enemy afterr you rrip theirr legs off." He nods, sagely, as he drains that glass, appreciative.. "Not bad." He goes on.. "Harrd to call it crriminal when you'rre just explaining things to folks in a way they can't help but underrstand."

Nixkamich shrugs. "I would rather not have any enemies, but one can't help to accumulate them no matter what over time." he notes. "And indeed, I can fimirly say I am glad I am not on Stars bad side."

Aleksei nods. "Remind me not to become your enemy, then. Da, sounds pretty reasoable to me! So, sounds like you've had some experience with extortion. May I ask where you found it? I somehow doubt you found it at Resilience. People here usually might spot it and react unpleasantly, yes?" Al takes another drink from his glass, which is now about half full.

".. not imporrtant." Stars is dismissive, setting his empty glass aside... and picking up the bottle, a ringed ear flicking, absently. "Hrr. Thanks Nix - means a lot." He grins, toothily... "I should prrobably get back. Tirred, huh?" He turns, eyeing the door. "Swiftfoot's gonna rrip my earrs off."

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