Meet and Greet at the Souvlaki

by Maureen Wynn

The Natpack was pretty spread out around the Happy Souvlaki, because there weren't any tables big enough to hold them all. As a result, they tended to wander from table to table, chatting first with one group, then another. This of course drove the waitresses to distraction, since they couldn't keep track of who was supposed to be at which tables. One waitress kept trying to insist on giving Jill an iced tea, and Jill was being equally insistant that what she wanted was a Diet Coke. Spiff finally intervened, taking the iced tea, and sent the waitress back to the kitchen for the soda.

"Sorry about that, Jill," the FoD said. "She's new since the last War, and doesn't know quite how to deal with NatPackers."

"Just assure her that we tip really well, and she'll be a lot happier," Jill responded with a smile.

Maureen got up from the table, saying, "I'm going to go talk to Jennie. Tell the waitress to bring my hot fudge sundae over there."

On her way over to Jennie's table, Maureen saw someone at a table she hadn't been to yet. A someone with long, light brown hair that looked awfully familiar. "Julie?" Maureen said, coming up behind the woman dressed in black.

She turned around at the sound of her name, smiling when she saw her friend and cyber-grandchild. "Hey, Mo!" she said, standing up and giving her a hug, "Glad to see you! It's nice to see a familiar face. Sit down," she said, indicating the empty chair at the table, "tell me what's happening with the NatPack."

Maureen was about to sit down when she saw who else was sitting at the table. "Hi, Abby," she said to the Merc. "Is it okay if I join you?"

"Sure, Maureen," Abby said, hurt. "Why wouldn't I want you to?"

"Well, you know, traitor to the Guild, yadda, yadda, yadda."

"Oh, don't be silly!" Abby said, relieved that it wasn't anything important. "You know that trial was a farce! I mean," she added, giggling, "kangaroos in the jury? Who could take that seriously?"

"Well, in that case, why don't you declare it null and void? Just say that I wasn't guilty?"

"Well, um... it's not that easy... you know..." Abby squirmed under the gaze of the Natpacker.

"Yeah, yeah, I know, Dianne's the one in charge, and Dianne's the one who declared me the traitor, so Dianne's the only one who can do anything about it," Maureen said, disgusted. "And I thought Mercs were so fiercely independent. Ha!"

"We are!" Abby retorted, stung. "We can do whatever we want, as long as it doesn't go against the Charter."

"Well, there's nothing in the charter about giving me an appeal, is there?"

"No... not that I know of, anyway," Abby weaseled. Maureen looked disgusted, and Abby grew a bit more of a backbone. "No, there's nothing in the Charter that would deny you an appeal. But why bother? You know no one took that seriously, right?"

"It's not the trial that bothers me — it's the blonding that bothers me!" she said, suddenly looking grim. "As god is my witness, someone will be made to pay for that!" she said, rising from her chair, and for some reason, she was gripping a carrot from someone's veggie platter. It must have been a Natpacker thing...

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