Paradise Hotel 51

Where Gaming Dies

Epoch: Chapter 15

“So, I’m beginning to think the future isn’t that bad of a hot spot,” Con said, matching Coyote for his forth glass of Oro. “You know, if you drink at least some.”

Art by Dcat

“That’s the announcement of the year, kid,” Kevin replied, looking over the very clean looking poultry knife he was balancing on his right index finger easily. He hadn’t partaken in the drinking aspect of the gathering. However, it was a well-known fact that Kevin could drink. A lot. The only regrettable side affect was that he knew far too many classical songs on the piano; his mentor, Aramis Cate was to blame in that regard, but not for every aspect of the blight; there had always been a piano available at Harman’s residence. The ‘principal’ had had a Bosendorfer specially made for him; it was a grand, and exquisite. Or, at least…it had been. It was probably kindling now. Or…dust. So much dust.

Coyote brooded, silently, watching Kev replace the knife, sliding it into its own stock place, having tested the weight. Kaede met Kevin’s eyes, and he smiled kindly at her.

“Doubt I have the assets to purchase a thought, love, but…give it a go?”

Kaede smiled back, preoccupied.

“I know Dan’s talking to him,” she said. Kevin nodded.

“They’re like sorts. Of course he is. Dan’s been all too used to being tied down. How is he to account for his freedom if we’re being offered that much? Even…I don’t know what to make of this. Or maybe it’s a falsehood in disguise. I’d love a bout of truth to go with all of this…gloss.”

Kaede nodded, straightened her shirt, though there were no wrinkles visible.

“The proof is in the face of that wall, Kev,” Con motioned to the marble above the stainless steel sink area. Kevin, Ric and Coyote all narrowed their eyes, and looked. It read, in lettering carved out upon the material:

“Dedicated, November 25th, 2034…To those who have earned their Wings.”

That was all.

“If this is a ruse, then it’s a pretty elaborate one. And…so far, besides that…all I really need to know is…Emir’s telling the truth. He postures the truth, he speaks it. That’s what’s going on. This is really happening.”

“I know, Speed,” Coyote said finally. “But if it gets to the point where…you’re in doubt, or you’re hearing lies in his throat…”

“Then, I’ll cleave it out,” Kevin finished. “With my bare hands, bare teeth, if need be. No knives make themselves by steel alone. Right?”

“Well put, Kev,” Mask said idly. “But…if all goes well…will it not be a wonder…to see all the progress that’s been made since we’ve been…active? I can’t even imagine…the possibilities.”

“Is there any one future ‘possibility’ you’d like to see, Ric?,” Kaede asked, folding her delicate hands upon the internally lit marble counter top.

“Bullet proof shower doors,” Ric said calmly. Honestly. Silence then resounded as the connotation in the request was digested. “And/or shower curtains,” Ric continued, again without fear or malice. “That is all. Well…at least…it’s an appropriate start for me. Anyone else?”

There was another momentary silence as glasses were emptied, or refilled.

“Better alarm systems,” Coyote ventured. “The old ones were too damn easy to crack.” Then, Coyote looked to Con. “[What about you, Speed? Ever have a Sci-Fi wish list?]”

Con smiled, thought. He rested his chin on his folded arms as he sat in the back-inclusive stool next to Coyote.

“Just…some way to make listening to music easier. I hate CD players. They’re loud. It makes it impossible to…oh, I don’t know.”

“No, go on,” Coyote smiled, obviously distracted and trying to keep his mind off of Sam.

Art by Dcat

“Well,” Con responded. “I was pretty much done, but…there just…there has to be a better way to listen to music than on the radio, where you’re subjected to the ‘top-whatever’ and the CDs you have to fuck around with every time you want to listen to a song. Records are out of date now – even though they’re really cool to listen to, if you have a chance and you get off on analog sound. But…by now? I wonder what the hell kind of pin-drop sized discs they use for music. It must be crazy. Technologically speaking…I just want some musical convenience for the masses.”

“And some additional shelf space, sounds like,” Kevin joked, smiling.

“Maybe,” Con nodded, a smirk active upon his young face. “Maybe I want a lot of additional shelf space. Like…Tons. Sure. Why not?” Then, Con cocked his head to the side, just a bit. It was in Kaede’s direction. She noticed his attention immediately. “Well?,” he asked, still smiling. A dark shadow passed over Kaede’s face then, and Con furrowed his brow, in silent question to her posture, her breathing. She spoke quickly, but quietly.

“I want a second chance,” she said shortly. “I think those are current in any tense, past or future.”

Mask held up his glass, still very full.

“Salude,” he said. Those with glasses held theirs up, and agreed. Then drank.

Shortly, after the ode, Mask turned his attention to Kevin.

“Kev? What about you, amigo?”

“I doubt very much any future could hold what I want,” he answered, and Ric nodded, understanding. Con also nodded, moving his small glass around by the stem. “But…if I had to mention something…material…I would want knives with laser sites.”

There were low hoots all around, and the Brit cracked a more earnest smile. Con chuckled.

“Nice, Kev. Serious.”

Kevin folded his arms, leaned slightly upon the counter.

“Course…I still like K’s better than mine.” All nodded, either immediately, or after a moment of reflection. Then, Con was speaking again.

“Seriously. I can feel it. The music revolution is going on right now. Possibly the betterment of all mankind. I don’t know. I think it’s the tequila.”

“[The tequila isn’t that good, Con”], Coyote said, then upended his fifth small glass. His gaze was planted upon the overhead engraving. Con shook his head, ‘looked’ down upon his glass as his tequila swung around within it.

“She’s alright. I know she is. Serious, Cee. Don’t let those thoughts rob you of your time.”

Then, Coyote smiled earnestly, with his eyes. He squeezed Con’s shoulder, thanking him wordlessly, for his support. Con’s modest grin was tenfold then, and not just due to the affirmation of support. “Uh-oh. It’s about to get exciting in here. I’m picking up the sporadic pulse of an Irishman.”

“Was that your mother’s favorite line?,” Dan’s voice resounded over the din of silence, as he and Emir strode into the inviting area. Con wasn’t so much as phased…even considering. His smile warmed.

“Yeah. Pretty sure. What up, Irish? I thought you’d be under a bar somewhere by now.”

Dan smirked.

“There’s plenty of bar in here for all of us, punk. And I’m not the one drinking…whatever that shit is.”

“Oro Azul,” Kaede chimed in, looking Dan over. The returning Smith leaned over, nearly into her, and picked up the bottle as she flushed with his proximity. Con just shook his head, ‘glanced’ to Coyote, who snorted at Dan’s mind games, played around the clock with whoever was the most interesting.

Dan looked at the liquor dismissively, then looked full bore into the girl’s face, still holding the bottle. He shrugged.

“Don’t suppose you have an extra glass. Or, at least a drain I can empty this into.”

“Isn’t your throat a big enough drain, Dan?,” Kaede retorted.

“I don’t like where this is going,” Con whispered to Coyote.

“Yes, you do,” Coyote laughed quietly.

“I do, I really do,” Con offered.

“As much as I would like to hear the outcome of this conversation,” Emir interjected. “I think, perhaps, there are things we should address before I call a recess for all of you. I know this has been a lot to handle.”

“No, mate. Truly. It’s yesterday’s breakfast,” Kevin flat toned. Ric put a cautionary hand upon his longtime friend’s shoulder, and Kevin nodded slightly, signaling that he was fine. Emir went on, calmly, as Dan parked the bottle of tequila on the nearest section of counter space available to him…then proceeded to shoot Kaede an intense glance, observing her reaction. She narrowed her eyes slightly at him, and he smiled, conceding in a ‘cease-fire’ for the moment.

“First of all, let me say once more to all of you…welcome. I hope in your short stay, you’ve at least been able to take some amount of rest in your surroundings.”

There were mostly nods, with some fits of hesitation; it was well-warranted, obviously.

“You may either consider this the beginning of your tour here, or the intermission point for such. We may begin now, or you may all take some more rest here before we proceed. It’s up to you.”

There was a pause, then Emir continued. “You may take a moment to deliberate. There’s no fault in that. A full tour may take hours, and I feel the taxation upon your bodies is still a valid concern, given recent events.”

“I have a question, before I consider any further amount of rest,” Coyote said with all the deadly intent of a razor blade. “Where is Samantha? If she’s dead…then you could at least do me the courtesy of relinquishing some spare details for me. Before I decide to move on.” The stress in Coyote’s voice was a seismic tremor through his entire demeanor. Then, Emir’s expression took on a form…of relief.

“Forgive me, Coyote. I should have mentioned earlier.”

Coyote set his newly replenished glass down upon the counter…and he visibly braced himself. But…no impact came, save…

“She’s down in the med lab area. There was briefing of a different nature for her, and I thought it best to address the actual Syndicate members first, without…drama.”

Relief flourished inside of Coyote’s chest cavity, and even Con heaved a sigh on Coyote’s behalf.

“Yeah,” Dan said. “She’s the drama type, alright.”

“Sayeth the pot,” Con shot.

“Keep pushing it, punk. It’ll save your life. I swear.”

“When can I see her?,” Coyote asked, still business.

“Soon. Very soon. Which is another part of the intermission issue. Will you rest further now, or press on?”

“I vote,” Kevin began. “We let the Coyot’ decide.”

None opposed the concept, not even Dan, who shrugged. He didn’t seem to care either way, really.

“Then, I say we do this now…then rest when we’ve earned it.”

Silence. Then nods all around, of agreement.

“Very well,” Emir said. “Then let us begin.

And after…I’ll see to it personally that you all have as much rest as you need to recuperate.” Coyote nodded again, the flagship Syndicate member presently, for the issue at hand. And Emir smiled reassuringly.