Niall Callaghan stood just outside the spaceport on Terra Fin, The blue of his United Galactic Republic uniform setting him apart from the variously and brightly colored civilians. The soldier was fresh from boot camp, and currently on shore leave before being sent to his first proper assignment, so, he had chosen to come home for a bit, wind down, and perhaps catch up with a few of his friends from before he had decided to join up.
Over his shoulder was thrown a very high-tech item known as a duffel bag, which was a sack made of a heavy waterproof material that was much like the ancient canvas that the bags had been made out of millennia ago. The top was rolled over and affixed with a simple clasp that was both robust and simple to use. The Duffel bag bulged with most of his belongings; several changes of clothes, a few spare uniforms, and some extra gear for specific environmental conditions, as well as a couple of Zero-gee suits, to make sure that he would die a horrible death in the event that whatever ship he happened to be traveling on got a hull breach.
The uniform that he currently had on, was pretty simple; a Zero-gee suit formed the base of everything, with something akin to a t-shirt over his torso, and some pressed trousers covering his lower half. Atop it all was a semi-formal jacket, which bore his rank and unit insignia, as well as his first initial and last name. On his feet were a pair of high-tech boots, probably the most technologically impressive bit of his kit, which could be magnetized or even create a miniature gravy beam, in order to hold him to a floor or the hull of a ship even if there was no gravity present. As it was shore leave, and his first after training, the utility belt around his waist lacked any kind of sidearm, though the several pouches did contain small items useful for survival in myriad conditions. Topping it all off was a navy blue ballcap with his unit insignia on it, giving him the overall look of a total noob.
Regardless, Niall seemed to have a feeling of pride in himself, and, looking over his homeworld, he knew exactly what had made him join in the first place. Despite the fact that the greatest war had ended over seventy five standard years ago, The UGR still had enemies, and troubles which it needed to defend against. Although most of the sentient races had joined the republic, several had decided not to, and, of course, there were several non-sentient lifeforms which proved to be a constant thorn in the side of the Republic. Despite all this, there had been peace during the past three quarters of a century, outside of small squabbles and conflicts here and there.
As such, Niall took in the sights for a few minutes more, before a rude passerby bumped into his bag, knocking him slightly off balance, and out of his short-lived reverie. "Oh, sorry!" Niall apologized to the passerby, recollecting himself and starting on his way down the long flight of stairs that led down from the spaceport toward the roadway, at the bottom of which he began walking down the sidewalk toward a nearby vehicle rental agency. Upon arrival, The young soldier placed his palm on the Kiosk, signing into the system, and bringing up the different types of vehicles he was licensed to operate, and highlighting the ones within his budget. He scrolled through, finally settling on a cruiser-style Airbike which had a large enough cargo area for him to affix his duffel bag.
Within minutes, the vehicle had prepped itself, taking off from the storage area and then arrived at Niall's location. the soldier promptly affixed his large bag to the bike and then hopped on himself, taking the helmet supplied with the vehicle and strapping it to his cranium, then running through the control tutorial so that he knew exactly where all the controls were on the bike, and then he made haste and took off, joining the rush hour traffic that both whizzed through the air and sped along the ground in a multi-layered maelstrom of moving technology and beings.
After a while of twisting and turning throughout the maze that was Terra Fin city, Niall finally made his way out of the metropolis, and found himself following a highway that led a little bit farther out of town. Still within the city's governed region, but a little bit slower paced, it was an outlying suburb that was known locally as Ireshire. A Bit more spread out than most of the other suburbs, Ireshire was known for rolling hills and lots of greenery, which was hard to find on most heavily developed planets. Naturally, this was home for Niall, His family having settled in the area when the planet was first colonized, and now 50 years and several generations later, the fully developed area somewhat resembled the ancient land on the original Earth known as Ireland.
Niall Callaghan made his way into the central part of Ireshire, Which was simply referred to as the Village. It sported a few small-medium sized buildings which housed various cultural shops, including of course the Ubiquitous Public House, or Pub. Naturally, Niall's first stop was here, before he would venture farther out into the 'countryside' and find his family's home. After shutting off and locking down the airbike, he made his way inside, pulling off the cap as a sign of respect when he did so. The Barkeep, one of a long line of Barkeeps whose establishments had been found across the galaxy, even making their way onto great warships of the past, was simply called Pattel.
She was, unusually for her family, a female barkeep. The locals would call her Wendy, but to everyone else she was either Pattel, or Barkeep. Niall, being a local, chose to call her by the former. "Oi, Wendy! Been a while, Saw your cousin over on Drathos a few weeks ago though!" the young soldier greeted with a grin, waving at the other patrons as he did so; one of which had a group gathered around him as he whispered low, looking to be demonstrating something.
"That fat li'l shit Eoghan doing well, then, Niall?" Wendy responded, wiping her hands off on the apron around her waist. "Was wonderin' when Ah'd see ur Damn mug back in 'ere!" she continued, coming out from behind the counter to give Niall a good solid sock on the shoulder. From back in the corner came a loud BOOM followed by booming laughter; it was the whispering man doing the laughing as the others who had gather looked to have fallen back on their chairs. One of them with a couple of hairs on fire.
"Oi! Fuckface! What did Ah tell ya about using that thing in here!?" Wendy shouted in response to the commotion.
"Oh, come now Wendy! That was funny!" the man called back. "I'll forgive ya, since you didn't get the lead up to it, but if ya like, Ah can show it to you after you close up shop tonight."
"Go find a sheep, ya daft man," Wendy said bluntly.
"But Wendy, you're the lamb of my eye already," he almost sang.
"Was that supposed to be a compliment?" Wendy didn't wait for a response from him, instead turning back to Niall. "Gotta love pub patrons, aye?"
Niall chuckled at the whole discourse between the bartender and the other patron, and after hearing the patron's voice and taking a second glance, he realized that he knew the troublemaker from his youth. "EY, Cormac! You still causin' trouble even after all ye been through?" he shouted, shaking his head. "Thought you'd learned after how many times Wendy's ol' man threw ye out!"
The man, who had just gone back to his drink, perked up as his name being called. "I sense a presence I haven't felt since... Niall!" he exclaimed. Shooting up from his seat he rushed over, crossing the distance in just a couple strides, before locking an arm around Niall's neck and pulling him into a headlock. "How ya been, mate?!"
After ruffling up the others hair, Cormac let go and gave Niall a solid pat on the back. "Bah, Ah gotta try a couple times more for Wendy's favor," he responded to his friend, before turning back to Wendy, waving his hands, and making a flower appear to give to her; she rolled her eyes and told him to stop steal flowers from her vases.
"Anyway, c'mon c'mon, grab a seat, grab a seat," Cormac energetically ushered the younger lad to take a seat at the bar. "Wendy! Stop being rude and get a drink for Niall! Round's on me!"
"So, how was training? They manage to make a man out of you?"
"Ey, ye know i've been a Man way longer than ye have!" Niall responded, nudging Cormac in the ribs with an elbow. "Just a pint of stout, if ye please" he told Wendy, following Cormac over to a table and sitting down, taking a load off. He looked around, and breathed in deeply, the sights and smells of the Pub that he'd spend much of his time in before joining the UGR military. It all brought back a lot of memories, the scent of ale mixed with the fragrant smoke of pipes and Cigars, along with the less pleasant odors of cigarettes, and on top of that all the wonderful food whipped up by the cook in the back.
"Ehh," Niall continued, turning to Cormac, "Training weren't too bad, They tried ta break me but I stayed strong, and besides, ain't no lengths I wouldn't go to ta impress a good lookin' lass, which I'm sure you've seen yer fair share of on yer stint." Niall chuckled, shaking his head. " 'sides, ain't been a proper war since the Greatest war, we got more Peace than we know what ta do with, an' it'll prolly stay so, yannow?"
Cormac gave his own drink a hardy pull as he listened to Naill, giving a juvenile grin at the other's implied meaning. "Aye aye, part of why Ah signed on as a caster, no lass alive tha' doesn't like magic tricks," he said as he puffed out his chest and gave it a pound, "Ain't that right, Wendy?"
"Sure, unless they are your magic tricks."
"You wound me."
"Not hard enough it seems, you're still here."
Turning back to his drinking buddy, Cormac was all chuckles, the alcohol compounding his already clownish nature. "Knock on wood, Ah s'pose. Ah'm grateful f'r peace 'n' all, but it makes testing experimental tech, a li'l, y'know boring. An' Ah never thought Ah would say having pseudo-magical fire at ma fingertips would be boring."
"Ehehehehe" Niall chuckled at Cormac's predicament. "Yer just ill 'cuz ye Non-Con units jes' stay at the forts n' research centers an' never get ta go out in th' field fer proper trainin'" he wagered, as Wendy brought him his drink. The young soldier took a hearty swig, which he punctuated with a contented "Ahhh!" Setting the pint back down on the table, he wiped his upper lip before leaning back and relaxing.
"Ain't so bad though, really, ah get most've mah expenses paid fer an' ah get ta travel fer free, jes' s'long as ah meet all tha trainin requirements whenever we go somewhere." He closed his eyes and leaned his head back, smiling a bit before returning to his beverage, taking another swig. "An ye? When're they gettin' ye back ta yer unit? Ain't leave only a few days at a time till yer past the minimum time?"
Cormac stared wistfully at nothing as he considered the question. "Aye, jettin' back tomorrow. Slightly different though, with the testing teams. When a unit isn't directly being tested, we get leave while on call. So Ah just need to be back before my unit goes out for another round o' tests, but iffn they were to call saying some egghead came up with some new urgent matter that needs testing, the on call team is the one that handles it. Though those mostly revolve aroun' boring matters, like the unit exploding or some such." He waved the hand that had his portable unit attached to it.
Niall chuckled once more. "Boring matter like tha unit explodin. Right. 'cause destroyed property an' lost limbs is a borin' matter." Niall ran a hand through his short-cropped brown hair as he thought about those scenarios for a moment, realizing he was glad he never had to deal with it. "Course, it only takes a few weeks fer the medics ta grow ya a whol' new arm, dunnit?" He asked, having never been injured that badly during his training.
"OH!" Cormac exclaimed suddenly. "Magic! AND SCARS! Better yet, CYBERNETICS! Wendy! What would you think if I got a cybernetic arm from this unit exploding!?"
"Can you wear it as a necklace?"
"Huh? No, you can't... You catty li'l...!" he said, settling down some, giving Wendy a playful kissy face which was promptly hit by an expertly thrown dish rag. He removed the rag with some more chuckling. "Ah man, as fun as it is having an experimental weapon strapped to my wrist, best part is being able to slip away home a bit more often than usual, ya know? Any way, ya gon' be a good lad and drop in ta see yur folks after this?"
"O 'course!" Niall responded, laughing at Cormac and Wendy's antics. He had missed this kind of good old fashioned hometown fun during training. Hopefully this would be enough to tide him over until his next leave. "Aint seen mah mum in about six months an' ah know she's hurtin ta see me. Pop not so much but ah'm sure he'll still be glad ta have me back." The brunette continued to work on his pint, nursing it just a little, as he planned to head back home after this drink, but didn't want to leave too soon.
"Ye seen yur folks anytime lately, Cormac?" he asked his compatriot, nudging the other soldier and flicking at a lock of loose hair that was hanging a little precariously off the side of the Non-Con's head. "Looks like yur lettin yurself go a lil, isn't that a bit out of regs?" he asked, poking fun at his buddy's appearance.
Cormac played a little offended at the jab, raising an eyebrow and squaring his shoulders before raising his hand and generating a small ball of fire; almost immediately another dish rag slapped the pyromancer in the face, this one decidedly more damp, and used, than the first one. "Don't. Test. Me. I will end you Flynn."
A laugh came from under the rag before it was pulled off. Spitting a bit to get dish water out of his mouth, Cormac also had to pluck a piece of old food that managed to stick to the stubble on his chin. "Ya know, it'd probably be more direct to just sock me in the jaw," he told the barkeep as he rubbed his angled jaw and wiped some suds from his slightly squared nose. Thankfully no soap had gotten into his green eyes, at least.
"Oh, don't worry, you'd still be able to have your cybernetics. Though it'll be from me tearing your arm off and throwing it and the unit out onto the street."
"Ah think my flirting is getting somewhere, normally she would have taken the opportunity to actually punch me," Cormac said softly, leaning in close to Niall. "Though maybe I do need to step up on the sit ups," he joked as he poked at his chest a bit, though he was still visibly fit thanks to the work out routine the military kept him on. "As for the folks, Ah've dropped in a couple times."
"By that he means he's thought about dropping in. He may as well be glued to one of our seats when he has time away," Wendy chimed, causing Cormac's head to sink a little.
NIall finished his stout, nearly spitting up some of it laughing at Cormac, but he kept enough of his composure to prevent a drop from being wasted. He set the pint glass down on the table, a little harder than was absolutely necessary, and swallowed the last bit of dark brown liquid that was in his mouth, wiping the remains of the foam from his upper lip. "Well, Unlike Cormac, Ah actually do wanna go see mah folks, so Ah'll have ta make my way home. It was good seein' ya all, An' thanks fer tha drink, Flynn!" Niall stood up from his chair and ruffled his friend's hair, giving Wendy a wave and a wink before making an about face and heading for the door.
"Aye, mate! Tell 'em Ah send ma regards," Cormac responded, raising his glass to send him off, but disappointed when he went for a drink and found the glass empty.
"Don't be a stranger, Niall! Door's always open if you want to drop in," Wendy called out as well.
"Is the door always open for me too?" Cormac chimed.
"Fuck no, ya practically live here already. Take a page from Niall's book and get out of here already and see yer own family." Were among the last things Niall heard as the door to the Pub closed behind him.