A New Start

A place for the stories that take place within Rhy'Din
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Cade Washington
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A New Start

Post by Cade Washington » Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:51 pm

The familiar rhythm of cadence hadn’t lost its bittersweet ring in his ears. Overhead hung the sun, bright as could be like a fire in the sea of blue in all directions behind it. The smell of fresh cut grass was intoxicating, one he hadn’t bathed himself in for what felt like an eternity. He paused at the crosswalk listening to the jovial spirits as they jogged by.

“Left, right!” They echoed their instructor who led from the left.

“I don’t know what’s to come”, he bellowed in stride.

“I don’t know what’s to come”, they answered in chorus.

“But I’ll shoot ‘em down, all or one!”

But I’ll shoot ‘em down, all or one!

Seated in the hall, its freshly waxed tiles intimidating even the newest sneakers, he began to eye the healthy stock of paperwork he’d been handed. Name. That was easy enough. Cade Washington he scribbled in his finest chicken-ese he could muster. Date of Birth. That one wasn’t as easy to scribble down, but he did so anyway. Height. Six foot. Weight. He’d just wait and see what the scale had to say about that. He was confident but… well it’d be a minute since basic. Gender. Male. Are you currently a resident of Rhy’Din? He tapped the pen against his temple and decided to leave that one blank. What if any is your prior experience?

* * *

“Cade?” There was a knock at his door and from his bunk he reluctantly looked over.

“Yeah?” He managed to fit between the current diagram he was trying to memorize.

“What’ve you got there?” she asked, making her way inside and taking a lean up at his desk. “The Comet Mark-2. Isn’t that a little old school to be worrying about now?” She closed the book.

“It’s interesting. One day they’re going to look at ours and think the same thing you know.” He leaned back and rubbed at his eyes. “What time is it?” He asked, ignoring the proprietary digital clock on his desk.

“Late. You’re going to meet us out on Friday right? It’s the last weekend before graduation and we’re all going to get matching ink to celebrate.” She gave him a punch on his shoulder.

“Isn’t that so cliche though?” He rubbed his shoulder and a yawn escaped his lips.

“That’s just like you. All work and no play. Look at me, Mr. Cade, I’ve got a permanent stick up my ass and I’m just a grouch all the time!” She gave his chair a kick and made for the hall, pausing at the doorway. “It’ll be fun. Be there.” She said before heading out.

“Maybe..” He echoed in her absence.

* * *

What makes you a good fit for the Rhydin Air & Space Guard? Aside from my good looks? He snorted aloud and saw fellow potential recruits all glancing at him from their seats. Shuffling a moment, he began to scrawl some bullshit that might sound good to a suit. I am more than confident that I am qualified to fulfill all expectations to at least satisfactory levels. Yeah, they love that shit. The following pages were all legal jargon that they always recommend you read through and you never sign unless you have read. That was bullshit. He knew why he was there, everyone else knew why they were there and the people in charge knew why they were there.

One by one he saw the recruits led into the office. You could always sort out the would-be’s from the bullshitters when they left. Varying levels of excitement painted on their faces said it all: gripped with nerves, they wanted it bad. Elated and relieved, they didn’t want it to begin with. Ecstatic, they just wanted to soar.

* * *

“Listen up! You do not get the privilege of being called pilots! Not yet. Until you're fitted and dressed you will be known as Rainbow Flight! Just like the circus act you all are. You will be trained. You will be molded. You will succeed. Or you will be ejected faster than a shit in my toilet! Do I make myself clear?!”

“Sir yes sir!” They mustered as best they could. He didn’t break face, no he could only hear and see out of his peripherals as one poor kid keeled over and threw up right on the spot. Luckily it was grass, but still, the thought of it was setting his own nerves on edge.

“Disgusting! Is that what you think of this?!” He pulled right up to the poor shaken would-be and it was then he could catch a glimpse of that tag. Savage. He snorted when he read it. Instantly, like a shit-seeking missile he came up to him. Their height in difference didn’t matter now. “Did I say something funny, maggot?!”

It was now that Cade was about to learn the hard way that his sense of humor was less than.. Desired. “No sir.” He struggled to keep his smile in check.

“Funny how, cadet?!” He screamed in his face.

“Not funny at all, sir!” He stared past, trying to focus on anything, anything else than this hoarse lump in his throat and the cold sweat on his palms and neck.
“Say that to my face cadet!” Savage screamed.

The instant Cade looked over he was met with a balled fist to the cheek, he stumbled to the side.

“Don’t ever look me in the eye again cadet! Not until you’re worthy! Now straighten out and drop down and give me fifty!”

He could already feel it swelling as he dropped down and began pushing the terra beneath him as hard as he could.

“The rest of you join him, especially you, puke breath!” That was unfortunate, that one wasn’t going to go away any time soon.

* * *

“Washington?” She snapped him free of that memory and he rose up handing her his application. “Let’s take a look over and see what you’ve brought me today.” On her desk it read Lt. Ross, Application and Processing, RASG.
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Re: A New Start

Post by Cade Washington » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:26 pm

“Let me make sure I have this straight.” Lt. Ross cleared her throat, holding his application and looking at him for a moment before looking down. “You say you fell from the sky?”

“Well technically I think the starboard engine was still sputtering so you would classify it as a crash.” No part of him was trying to get a laugh out of her, that was already a done deal at this point.

“So, you crashed here?” She didn’t even blink.

“Yes.”

“So you want me to consider this an actual application wherein you admit to crashing your aircraft?”

The thought hadn’t dawned on him quite in that light and he took a deep breath. “Well-”.

She didn’t even let him continue that thought. “Not only did you allegedly crash but you’ve left quite a few parts of this blank.” She’s flipping through, pointing out near half-pages of empty lines. “What am I expected to do with this? What’s next are you going to tell me you’re Kree too? Is this some kind of a joke?”

“I don’t know what means.” Scratching at his temple he slouched some in his seat. This was not going as well as he had planned. “Why don’t you just uh, give me a chance?” He said with a smile.

“Get the hell out of my office. I don’t know what kind of weird games you play when you’re in your vessel”, she air quoted that, “but I don’t have time for this right now my bosses want an answer to the declining acceptance rate and believe me, it ain’t you.” She began to stand up.

“Wait, wait please! Just hear me out. I can fly. I can fly better than most. I just need to get in a simulator and I can show you. Please I don’t have anything left. Please.” He had stood without realizing it and his tags had somehow gotten loose, along with the silver cross he wore. Carefully he tucked them back underneath that navy thermal.

Lt. Ross was struggling between what was ethically right and the alternative, giving him a shot. “I should notify the M.P.’s that there’s a literal crazy man in my office. That’s what I should do.” She sent a hand through her hair blew some strays from her eyes. “Alright. You’re going to attend basic at the Cove like any normal recruit, and believe me I use that loosely.” She shook her head looking him from head to toe. “Should you pass, which I doubt you will, you’re going to need to actually give me some answers before I can process this… whatever this is.” She dropped his application on her desk with a flop. “From there you’ll enter the 81st, and from there that’s out of my hands. Don’t make me look like an ass…” She squinted at one of the few answers he had given. “Cade.”

“I won’t.”

“Now get out of here before I change my mind. It’s your lucky day Washington.” She took her seat and pulled the phone off the receiver. “Or it’ll be my bonus.”
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Re: A New Start

Post by Cade Washington » Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:33 am

* * *

Orange bled through the blades of grass and slicked its warm embrace over the four remaining. Puke, the girl to his left, himself and down went the fourth. He struggled but couldn’t go any longer. Savage was no longer keeping vigil, no he was probably seated enjoying some coffee watching or reading something in that sweet air conditioned base. Fort Conrade. It made him laugh sometimes, technically it was named after him after all. Who knows why Savage had picked them but that didn’t matter much now.

“Look why don’t we just agree to tie?” He muttered between stubborn pushups. He could tell the girl was nearing her limits and Puke, well, his guess was Puke wanted to win and cleanse himself of that horrific moniker.

“How… do we know.. You won’t just go one more and say you won?!” Damn she was more stubborn than he was.

“Yeah… but I really don’t care that much about this. My arms are starting to hurt.” It was a lie he could go for another half an hour or so but his stomach wouldn’t let him. He turned to his right. “What do you say bud, you want to go halfsies with me?”

Puke looked over with the most grueling face he’d ever seen. Beat red, veins looking like a cat-5 cable ready to burst.

“Y-yeah.” His cheeks puffed like a damn squirrel full of nuts and it brought out the worst laughter. He couldn’t keep it straight anymore, Cade fell right on his stomach and rolled onto his back. She did one more just for the record before sitting back and resting her eyes. Puke? Well, it was a miracle he didn’t puke again right on the spot. That was when Cade opened his eyes and saw it. A perfect sky. Someone took an airbrush right above him he swore and wove those blues and yellows and purples ushering the spring day to the cool twilight. A trio flew overhead in their formation tracing exhaust through that picturesque scene. Figures. With a groan he rose up and heard his stomach rumbling.

“I’m Cade by the way.” He nodded to the girl, about his shoulder height beside him. Her hair was in a pixie cut and pulled in a ponytail.

“Julie.” She responded brushing off the remains of the morning’s lawn shave and leaned around Cade to see Puke.

“Hey aren’t you the guy who…” She wiggled her nose seeing the remains on his shirt. “Yeah… nevermind. He slumped and Cade gave him a pat on the shoulder.

“Look man, you gotta embrace it now. Just own it. Say it loud, yell it, I’m Puke.” He just looked up at Cade through those thick frames and sighed. “Okay, maybe not. But don’t let it get you down.”

As they made their way in the flight before them was rounding the corner. There were a few snickers among them, the term rainbow finding their ears but it was all hazing they’d been warned. Every flight went through it it was just their turn. For the time being Cade leaned closer to Julie and Puke and nodded pointing at some of the flight ahead of them.
"So why exactly do they call them blues? They’re not even…” He trailed off as they drew closer to the trays.

"What do you mean?” Julie asked, grabbing some of the… corn.

“I’ve never seen corn that wasn’t solid.” Puke chimed in.

“Oh nothing.” Cade responded grabbing some of the chicken himself. “I could say the same about the chicken..” Once they were seated Cade peeled the sweater overhead, a silver cross dangled before he quickly tucked it beneath his shirt.

“That’s a nice cross.” Julie said between picks at her hamburger.

“A nice what?” Cade responded, looking down before patting it beneath his shirt. “Oh no, that’s just a t. It was my mom’s she always joked that it was the missing part of my name. Cade, cadet.” He looked down and continued eating and Julie paused staring at him.

“Are you stupid? That’s a cross. Your mom was religious moron.” He looked up and then back down again. He couldn’t find any words- they said you really found out who you were in these weeks and he was ready for that, he knew who he was. But this was something else. He looked back at Julie, hesitant.

“What’s it about?” She nearly choked when he asked.

“How are you this unaware? I don’t even know how I could sum up all of religion that easily. Well.. the gist of it is you have faith. You don’t need proof in front of your eyes to believe in something greater than you.” She shrugged and eyed the clock. They were short on time and scarfed down the rest before the next flight was ready to kick them out.

* * *
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Re: A New Start

Post by Cade Washington » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:26 pm

Little remained of the original print except for the sun-bleached “K-II” on the tail of the vessel. Fortunately enough for him Coventry had docks for repairs and more fortunately they expected you to take care of your own. He didn’t like other hands fiddling with his ship. Wiping the grease from his cheek he gave another try and moving the impossible.

“You little bastard…” He was tempted to cheat he really was. He reached to the toolbox until he found it and slipped that long bar on the end of the wrench.

“Just… turn already..” He took a deep breath until, “POP!”.

The pungent odor of refined Tylium instantly struck his nose and he pushed out from beneath the ship. “Oh f-”, he looked around at the semi-populated dock and slid back under to quickly replace it. He’d have to replace the gloves and this jacket.

“Cade! Get over here you’re missing this!” Surrendering to his stubborn chariot for the night he peeled the blue jacket off and slung it over his toolbox. On the way to the bar he wiped what he could from his face and looked to the t.v. hung over the table they were all gathered at.

“That dude definitely just stabbed that chick with the horns!” One shouted, jumping almost with glee. That got a raised brow.

“Is that Old Man Simon in the back?!” Another pointed.

“You never see this in the sports! Holy shit!” The commotion seemed worthy not like he spent much time spectating.

Peeling those gloves off carefully he dropped them in the bin and quickly tied the bag.

“Jesus Cade what’d you do kill something in that old antique of yours?” It was a running joke that he piloted a fossil. “How about you bet it on the next game of Triad and I’ll see you about all my Cubits?” It got a scoff in response.

“Like you’d know what to do with her if you won her anyway, not a chance.” He was almost offended for her in all honesty.

“Where the hell did you get that rust bucket anyway?” He made his way over to the ship and began to inspect it. “Thing’s older than all of us combined.”

“Hey look with your eyes, not your hands.” He was a jealous bird that was for sure. “She’s like fine wine, the older she gets the better.” His right hand descended to his right rear pocket and pulled a flask from it, taking a swig of that whiskey.

“It’s so outdated though.. I bet you say a few prayers every time you take off.”

“How ‘bout next time we go up we race and we’ll see how confident you are? Put those Cubits down then.” He made his way back over and traced the “II” with his fingertips. “Maybe I’ll tell you how I got her one day.” That wasn’t one he told a lot. The kind that made him drink and didn’t let him sleep. Beneath that shirt he traced the contour of that cross and kicked his box shut. That was enough for tonight. He gave another look to the t.v. before heading out to the racks.
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Re: A New Start

Post by Cade Washington » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:02 am

* * *
Outside the newest installment of Rainbow Flight was doing their crucible. Inside they eagerly awaited beside their racks for Christmas in July. One by one Savage began calling them up to his office with the goods.

“Come on, mom said she was sending me a new toothbrush.” Puke was tilting from heels to toes, see-sawing in anticipation for his package from home.

It was mail day. Due to the base’s remote location in the middle of Bum-frack wherever, mail was a privilege that few were able to take part in. A lot of the recruits didn’t have families so it was custom that the flights would form circles and pass around the loot. Here in these sterile concrete condos they found themselves a second family, a bond that they would take with them for the rest of their lives.

“Puke, get your ass in here you’re next.” Savage could be heard roaring from his desk.

Cade didn’t bother getting his hopes up. Instead he watched that second hand on the clock drag like it was towing a freighter. Every passing moment expanded, coiled and taut; high strung like a rusted slinky left out in the rain, it twitched, daring to move back if he kept watching long enough. Julie was a few ahead of Puke and as she came she began sorting the various postcards and letters from her mother and sister.

“Say Cade”, she began before pausing, her smile forming.

“Don’t say it. Don’t do it.” He knew the look and soon her laughter overtook the conversation.

“Oh my god they shaved it all off didn’t they?” She got on her toes to look around. She was right, all of it was gone. His head was clean as a whistle.

“I really don’t want to talk about it.” He was eager to get this day behind him. Instead, he began reading around her offered missives. Only when a picture of them fell out, when they were still Rainbow Flight, did he notice that his cross had been visible.

“You sent this and they sent it back?” He lowered himself down to pick up the photo.

“I totally forgot to tell you. Apparently you’re right, that isn’t a cross. It’s a… how did she pronounce it?” Julie paused and handed Cade a scribbled paragraph.

“My sister is onboard one of those big time carriers, the Narcis. She’s not a pilot though. She always spent all her time with her face buried in books and it finally paid off. She’s an anthropologist and went bonkers when I sent her the picture.” Julie extended her hand to hold the not-cross in her hand.

“I don’t get it though, it looks just like one.” She let it go and looked at the letter addressed to Cade.

Dear Cade,

Thank you for befriending Julie. Don’t let her stubborn and rigid demeanor fool you she’s actually quite sweet once you get to know her. I have been studying a some ancient civilizations lately and I’ve noticed something odd. They never had FTL drives and were incapable of communicating yet each of them worshipped the same… something. I’m not sure what yet but what they all had in common were their idols. They pronounced them tae-uh. That’s what you’re wearing in this photo Julie sent us. I would love to discuss it with you sometime. How exactly did you come to possess it without knowing what it was? Maybe you can tell me. Watch over Julie for me until you both graduate. Maybe then you can both come visit me on the Narcis. She is a magnificent vessel. Titan Class, the first of her kind. I’ll let you get back to your day now, I remember how seldom our mail days came.

Take care,
Kinsley


They sat on the rack for a while going through the rest of her notes. Puke returned with that promised new toothbrush and a shoebox full of some of his old trading cards. The nostalgia was intoxicating and before long the rest of the flight had formed their circles and disjointed geometric parties. And then the unthinkable happened.

“Washington! Get your ass in here already you’ve got mail!” Savage sparked a skip in the beat of his heart.

“Hey, look at that! You’re not a total loner like you let on.” Julie said with a wolfish grin.

Cade said nothing as he made his way into the office and stared at the brown box sitting atop the desk. It had oval rectangular handles cut out from the cardboard and could have been filled with vanilla envelopes for all he knew. Cautiously he approached it and opened the letter atop it.

Cade,

I know when you left we weren’t on the best terms
, that got an eyeroll and a sigh as he picked up the box and tucked it beneath his right arm before heading back to the rack where Julie and Puke eagerly awaited him.

I know when you left we weren’t on the best terms but I’m glad you’re doing well in the program. I know how badly you want to fly and I hope that soon you’ll get to feel the wind in your hair and between your fingers. I’m sure if your mother was here she would be so proud of you. You may never forgive me for what happened to her but I’m sure she would have given anything to be there. I’ve put some of her things in here so that she can be with you now.

-Dad


The moment he read the end of it he crumpled the note up and tore it in half, twice. Twice wasn’t enough, twice more, and then he let it float into the trash can nearby.

“Damn Cade that’s harsh. You’re not even going to send a note back?” Puke eyed the recently birthed confetti before looking back to the box.

“Frack him.” Cade responded before taking a hold of the lid and gently removing it. There were countless things tucked away. Beads, jewelry, incense, various gems and stones, a few photos and then a package. Twine bound brown paper in one tie that went vertical and another that went horizontal. They were tied together at the intersection in a precise knot.

“What do you think it is?” Puke couldn’t help but lean over.

“Looks like it could be a photo. Maybe a framed one?” Julie’s curiosity drew her closer as well.

Cade looked at it in his hands and could feel a tingling in his digits. His chest rose and fell with his breath before he pulled one of those strings. The paper was old, it almost tore just at his grip and gave way easily enough for what lay shrouded below it. Cured leather, definitely an animal skin lined the tome front to back. Engraved in the cover were the words Sol Comedenti.

“What does that say?” Julie peered from the cover to Cade.

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen this before.” It was the best he could offer her.

He began to pass through the pages. They were crisp and sharp and resisted his fingers as he passed them by. Endless scrolls of this indiscernible script lined the amber-hued portraits they filled. Occasional diagrams filled half of the canvas, depicting strange geometric positions and what looked like processes and machinimations. The further he dove into the bizarre codex the more vivid the illustrations became. The language being used became jagged and etched more than written. It began to lose its eloquence and was overtaken by a primal stroke. Soon enough the cover creaked as he shut it and set it down.

“Why the hell did he send me this?” He eyed it from above the box.

“Maybe this was also your mom’s.” Julie was onto something as she gently combed through the rest of the contents.

“Maybe.” Cade took the lid and fastened it back over before placing the box on the floor and carefully sliding it beneath his rack.

“She liked to collect a lot of interesting things. Say Cade, do you mind if I tell Kins about that book? She might have a clue about it." Julie was already writing back to her by the time she asked.

"Don't see why not." He brushed his hand against the short bristles that coated his head. "He didn't send me off when I left."

"People change Cade." Puke added in. "Regret's a hell of a thing."

"Yeah..." He looked back to the clock and stared. How long was he looking at it? He could have sworn it was still the early afternoon but the sheets of yellow, red and orange spilled through the overhead windows and splayed out on the antiseptic concrete walls. The second hand froze.

* * *
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Re: A New Start

Post by Cade Washington » Wed May 15, 2019 5:14 am

* * *

“We’re approaching the landing site, Cade you better be fucking ready!” The horizon was ablaze and through her fingers Julie could barely make out the desolate sands parting. Puke was lagging behind to no surprise but their time was still above the second quartile.

“It’s harder up here than it looks.” Sweat began to bead around those lenses. Sand polluted the front view like a thousand ants crawling across his shield.

“Everyone’s done it now Cade just focus and bring her down already.” Julie was the first to arrive with Puke hauled after her. A trail of black followed them in the descending desert heat. One by one they filed around watching as the transport began to approach.

“Come on… steady.” Puke wiped at his brow, the grease and toils of the day’s tests were taking their toll. He lifted his cantine and the taste of disappointment came out one drop at a time until it was gone.

“He better land this one.” Julie huffed, her arms shaking as she balanced her rucksack on her back. Closer now, the sand was whipping and whirling looking like a few dust devils were taking off before it happened. The tail began to spin and soon the nose went down.

“Cade you’re coming in too low! Pull up and adjust! Pull up Cade!” The familiar sight happened all over again. Down. A propellor blade jettisoned straight into Puke cutting one arm fresh from his body. He recoiled from the hit and looked at that cleaved shoulder. Red, lots of it splashed into the sand staining it red. Exposed muscle and bone were looking back at him before the shock took over. Grinding metal churned and screamed in the blistering heat as the other propellers soon bent and broke off sending that hellish shrapnel in all directions. As they took for cover the flames engulfed it entirely and when it exploded it all went dark.

Hissing hydraulics could be heard when each testing unit opened and the trainees stepped out one at a time. Groans filled the air with the occasional bang. Cade’s opened and he sat there, doused in sweat, unable to leave his seat.

“What the fuck is your actual problem Washington?!” Markus spat in his direction as he made for the water fountain.

“Seriously Cade what’s going on in there?” Julie stopped by resting a hand on the unit.

“You got the highest score of any of us. What’s the deal? It’s been four hours… if you don’t get it together you’re not going to move on with the rest of us.” The fatigue was wearing her down, it was eating away at all of them, but none more than Cade. As she looked through his simulator she saw various marker notes all across the various controls and buttons.

“What are those?” She leaned in before he rose up and stepped out.

“I’m getting it down the next try.” His lack of a response was more than enough to test what remained of her patience.

“Yeah well you fucking better Cade. We’re not going to sit around forever you know.” She kicked the simulator and instantly regretted it grabbing a hold of her foot.

“Three minutes ladies then we’re back at it again. And this time either this princess gets it right or we’re comin’ back tomorrow.” Savage laughed out.

“Better get this one right.” Julie hissed as she made her way back to her egg-shaped simulator and took her seat, her head against the rest and eyes shut. As Cade retook his seat he pulled out that marker and made one final note against the panel. That should do it.

* * *
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Re: A New Start

Post by Cade Washington » Wed May 15, 2019 5:35 am

“It’s your turn.” Across the table they were growing restless.

“Hey asshole, did you fall asleep grandpa?” A kick to the table leg shook all the Cubits and Cade shook his head. It was true, his lids felt like there were weights hanging from them and he adjusted himself in his chair.

Day 29. Rigorous didn’t begin to express the amount of grueling work conditions that had lead to this. The only refuge from that twilight sky was the hanger now. Sure he’d managed to escape occasionally to visit the local watering holes but as of late the repairs were growing by the day and to even keep the birds up and running they had to run double time on fixes.

“Of course not, these cards are just peeling and sometimes I can’t tell what the hell you deal me.” Cade had a specific hard time with them given their hues had long since faded. Pastel colors never did last. Between the corners he looked over and saw on the wall tallys that had been chalked over.

“The hell are those?” He held his cards down for a moment to inspect.

“Oh that’s the bet. How many days it takes before your bird gives out.” The chuckling went around the table. Morbid humor never did strike his funny bone. Maybe that’s why he raised blind.

“I’ll give out before my ship does, prick.” He took a swig of that flask and leaned back in his seat. Greasy fingers rubbed at his temples while he contemplated the cards looking back at him. Once fine ink was blotched and stained. Pearly whites were now beige and eroding from the edges to show the aged cardboard backs. Sometimes he thought they knew his hands just from the distinct wear and tear they were under, so he’d occasionally give them new rips to tell which were which.

“Yeah we know, that’s the side pot.” The laughter rose before the bets came full circle and the next community cards were shown.

“Is Old Cade really hanging in there tonight? This oughta be good.” The sound of more Cubits bouncing into the pot rang out.

“Say, you been flyin’ a while yea’?” The hoarse voice came from his left behind a scruffy red beard.

“Could say that.” He pushed more of the washer-esque coins to the center of the table and took another drink.

“What’s the scariest thing you’ve seen? I mean I hear stories all the time about stuff offshore. Stuff on that isle but I ain’t ever seen none of it. They say there’s you know, zombies an’ shit.” The look in his eyes was unmistakable. Fear, but not the knowing kind. He didn’t know what to think of these ghost stories so Cade thought better to confirm or deny.

“I fly the same route you do man. Would it matter what I say if you don’t see it? No, so who cares?” The next round finished and a few folds fell into place.

“Yea’ but that ain’t the point man. What’s the scariest shit you seen? Figure it’s gotta be some whacked out shit givin’ how stiff you are all the time.” His gullet shook with his laughter before Cade cut him off with another sizable bet.

“Nothing.” Leaning his head back it was impossible to tell if his eyes were even open at this point with his glasses.

“The hell you mean nothin’? Gotta be somethin’. Don’t go actin’ tough on us grandpa you’re too full of it to jerk us around now.” Called, the final card from the community was flipped and he began to grit his teeth looking from the pot to Cade.

“No, I mean literally nothing. Something is supposed to be there but instead there’s nothing. You reach for the same knob to open the same door every day and what do you do when it’s not there? You feel a chill down your spine. Do you still push that door open?” He took another drink and set his cards down facedown. “A lot of people think seeing it is believing. But it’s not. You see it but your brain can’t piece it together. So it lies to itself. When you’re looking in the mirror and no one’s looking back that’s like it. Just nothing.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes, all staring like he’d grown an extra head before that red-haired mechanic pushed in the rest of his Cubits.

“Like hell I’m gonna believe that. What went missin’, your cock?!” The chorus of laughter erupted and before they had time to relish in it he had already risen up and made for the racks. “Aw come on grandpa it was only a joke! No need to get in a bundle over it!” They were still at risk of spilling their drinks as he pulled in the cubits and the crewman to Cade’s now empty seat flipped his cards over.

“What..?” He stared in confusion at the two faces staring back at him. “He had a full shade. He won.” The pigment hadn’t aged well to the point that the delta between the four hues was there but difficult in the light to make out.

They all leaned over to double check and it was there. Five of seas. They all looked around the table at one another unsure what to make of it. Then the game went on.
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