In which our two sets of crossover characters finally meet... just about. (Sadly I suspect the Daroga doesn't really count for most people ;-p)
This was the chapter that was originally written in flashback with Gan looking back on prior events while waiting for the rally to start; in the end I decided to restructure it into chronological order simply so that I could split the scenes involved over two chapters, since it was running very long. As I'm discovering with "In Regret, Always", an enclosing flashback structure makes dividing things into sub-scenes very difficult :-(
Chapter 5: First Contact
Gan’s face was beginning to ache from the effort of keeping up a genial smile, and even Blake’s bonhomie had slipped considerably. A mutual glance confirmed that right now they had a single thought in common: how to get away from their pressing new acquaintances. With hindsight, buying everyone in the bar a drink had probably been a mistake.
Blake peeled away the arm of one burly spacer from around his shoulders and clapped another over-enthusiastic crewman across the back in farewell, navigating an unobtrusive path across the crowded room towards the exit. Shaking off the old man at his elbow — and the pocket-case of highly contraband ju-gems he’d been trying to sell him — Gan followed, wearing a politely fixed grin as an assortment of affectionately-inebriated strangers tried to detain them, accost them or offer inside information on trade deals guaranteed to be highly profitable for a small initial outlay. Between the raised voices and the flicker of the overhead lights, his head had begun to swim unpleasantly.
“Well, that didn’t go quite as planned.” Blake stopped in the street outside, taking a deep breath, and glanced behind him. Gan found himself doing the same, as if to check that the most persistent of their erstwhile boon companions had finally abandoned the fray.( Read more... )