"We have to do something," John said. His face showed no expression, but this was as worked up as Killjoy had ever seen him.
"Do something about what?" Killjoy asked. What his friend was so worried about he couldn't tell.
"Angie," John got out. "She's been bet on that stupid poker game. That thug just came and dragged her off."
"She's a slave, Bulldog," Killjoy said. "There's not a lot that we can do."
"Go buy her," John offered.
Form Mr. Jacobs?" Killjoy asked with a humorless laugh. "Not a chance! That man has so much money you couldn't tempt him with the world. He'd refuse to sell just for the fun of it."
"Then we kidnap her," John said. "She doesn't deserve this. She's no slave."
"Don't be an idiot," Killjoy said. "There's no way that we could kidnap her. Jacobs has a dozen guards with him."
"Then gamble him for her," John said, motioning to the duffle bag on Killjoy's shoulder.
"That's money for the ship," Killjoy said. "We can't afford to lose it."
"You said that you could win," John countered. Killjoy sighed.
"Yes, I did say that."
"Then win," John said. "You win, and we all walk away from here with the money that you've already won for the ship."
"Fine," Killjoy said after several long moments, "but we're going to do this my way.You'll come as my bodyguard, but you'll keep your mouth shut. You don't like was I say, keep your mouth shut. If you see someone cheating, don't point it out. Do you understand?"
John nodded and followed Killjoy through the tavern to where Mr. Jacobs was still seated at his poker table. Another man was leaving, recently cleaned out of funds. Killjoy wondered if the man ever lost a game. Well, if he hadn't before, he was about to. Walking up to the table, he put one foot up on a chair and looked at Jacobs.
"You seem to be doing quite well," Killjoy said, eyeing Jacobs. "I'm not shabby at the game myself, and they say that you can't be beat."
"Not in the last two weeks," Jacobs said. "You think that you can bring me down?"
"I might be able to," Killjoy said as cockily as he could manage. "Care to play a round or two?"
"I'd be happy to take your money," Mr. Jacobs said. "Jensen, a deck of cards please."
"I'd like just one restriction," Killjoy said as he sat down.
"And what would that be?" Mr. Jacobs asked. He dealt cards to himself and Killjoy.
"I don't want to be betting people," Killjoy said. "I'd prefer to keep it cash if that's okay with you."
"Why not humans?" Jacobs asked, an evil glint in his eye.
"It's not legal," Killjoy answered. He picked up his cards and looked at them. Squat just as he had expected. If Jacobs was a cheater like he had him pegged for, he wouldn't deal his opponent anything worthwhile.
"It also not legal to play for shield generators, but you apparently have no problem doing that," Jacobs said.
"Touché," Killjoy said after a moment. "Bet what you want. I don't care."
"Good," Jacobs said. He led with a ridiculous bid, one clearly designed to wipe out Killjoy's reserves. It didn't work but it came close. Killjoy took three new cards and reevaluated his hand. Two pairs stared up at him, but he figured that they wouldn't be enough to win the game. He could practically feel the man behind him signaling his hand to Jacobs.
"I guess I get to bid first," Jacobs said. "I'll pass."
"I'm all in, I think," Killjoy said, shoving the rest of his money to the center of the table. This was it; either he won it all back or the Safe Haven was back to square one.
"I'll see that," Jacobs said, placing the proper amount on the table. "I'll also raise you my new slave." He jerked a thumb toward Angie who was being held by one of his body guards.
"Okay, what do you value her at?" Killjoy said, pulling out his wallet and ruffling through it. "Two hundred? Three hundred?"
"Five hundred thousand," Jacobs said.
"Half a mil?" Killjoy asked, clearly shocked. "There's no way she's worth that."
"Half a mil or you can fold," Jacobs said. A smile stood out on his face. Clearly he thought he had beaten his opponent.
Killjoy looked at his cards, then back to the pot. He eyed Angie for a few moments, then looked back at his cards. All the debating was just for show; he knew that he could pull this one out.
"Half a million it is, then," he said finally. "In the spirit of illegal betting, I have a ship to bet. It's worth two or three million."
"Two," Jacobs said immediately.
"Two and a half," Killjoy countered.
"Two and a quarter," Jacobs offered. Killjoy smirked to himself. The Safe Haven was a piece of crap barely worth the metal it was made of. The idea that he could gamble it at a value of two and a quarter was hilarious.
"Deal," Killjoy said. "That means I raised you 1.75 million. Do I hear you call or fold?"
"I call," Jacobs said. "Quickly he counted out money to equal the amount and threw it into the pot. With a smile he laid down his cards: full house, sevens over threes. "How do you like that?"
"Pretty well considering what I have," Killjoy said. He dropped his cards showing four twos and an ace. Jacobs' face was a mask of confusion and fury. He looked at his man stationed behind Killjoy, but the guard only shrugged. He had not seen anything happen. Killjoy sat back in his chair, not yet going for the money.
"You cheated," Jacobs said.
"That's quite the accusation," Killjoy answered. "I certainly hope that you have proof, otherwise you have just insulted me greatly."
"Turn out your sleeves," Jacobs ordered.
"Only if you do first."
The two men continued to stare at each other for a long time. Killjoy was the one to finally break the silence.
"John, come here." He could feel the ex-Marine come up behind him. Carefully, Killjoy began to sweep his winnings into his duffle bag, all of the while keeping an eye on Jacobs.
John eyed Jacobs' guards, fully expecting them to do something. On cue, the one nearest Killjoy pulled his gun. John intercepted the weapon on its way out of the holster and smashed it into the guard's nose. At the same time, his other hand drew his own pistol and aimed it at Mr. Jacobs. The rest of the rich man's guards reached for their weapons but stopped on a signal from him.
"It's a poker game," he said. No doubt the pistol pointed at his face helped him see reason. "This is not a shooting matter. Get the man his slave, let him collect his money, and see him on his way."
Angie was dragged over to Killjoy who had just finished stuffing the money into his duffle bag. He motioned for John to lower his weapon and take charge of Angie. Reluctantly he did so.
"Well, Mr. Jacobs, it's been a pleasure," Killjoy said, not being able to resist one last stab at the man. "I hope that we have the pleasure to play again someday."
"I hope so too," Jacobs responded.
Both men were liars.