They went to the only bar in town that let in people without DASS citizenships. William mentally noted that that was a significant loophole in anti-segregational law, and that he should bring it up at the next political conference he attended.

Also, all their liquor was predictably cheap, and Nova wouldn't stop grousing about it. Not exactly helping friendly relations by talking about how much better Starka alcohol was.

...It was nice to get out somewhere with Kirie. They hadn't had any free time for a while.

" William, what was Sturm like?" she asked. " I heard that you had a hard time."

He tipped his head.

" Ohhh, from who?" He asked, taking a sip of his drink.

" Ah, well..." she lifted her glass, but took a moment before she drank. " Prima said you arrived there a few days late."

" Ah, did he."

Swish swish.

" Is something wrong, William?" she asked, now more concerned.

" It was such a strange place," he said, staring down into his glass. " I can't understand why people who dislike each other so much would be so close together."

She gave him the look.

" William... Surely you know what that's like."

" ... Yeah."

" - And charging twelve credits for only one cup of this? It's worth five at most," Nova rambled, finishing his complaint. Neda had listened to all of it quietly and patiently.

" Lyena," she said. " I prefer the way this tastes, at least compared to the stuff back home. Most traditional liquors taste far too bitter and sharp for me."

" Well, you were poor, so you only have the shitty liquors as points of comparison."

William interrupted.

" Nova, don't you think you're bring a bit snobbish by bringing up class?" He asked cheerfully.

Nova pulled a face.

" It's a fact that Thera was poor, Wille, Uncle was embezzling from it as much as he could. Barely any money for imports, much less any higher grade ones," he said.

" Eh?! Was he really? The Lorn?" Neda asked, apparently shocked.

" In hindsight, I'm fairly certain he set the whole thing up to fail," Nova said. " Ever since I became Lyena he's hated me..."

He slumped down on the bar.

" Ohhh, Uncle has forsaken me..."

" Like you're the one actually suffered for it," Neda complained.

" Ruuuuude. Wille, your Starka are rude..." Nova complained.

" My Starka, actually," Kirie cut in.