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[soundtrack:  slow military drum march]
    "Ladies and Gentlemen, Junior Air Rangers of all ages, allow me to introduce some of the most famous, and infamous, pilots in the skies over North America!  These, friends, are the aces of our time, the heroes and villains that keep us riveted to the the radio every week.  Idols to the folk of their respective nations or the worst kind of scum to sail amongst the clouds, these brave men and women have assembled in the Aces' Bar to recount tales of danger and glory.
        It is here, in this corrugated metal quonset hut on the outskirts of a small, isolated airfield that the rocket's red glare, the roar of powerful engines and the chatter of machine guns is replaced with battles equal in fury to those that rage above the tattered nations of the old US, save that the weapons are cutting wit, rapid-fire delivery, a tolerance for strong drink and a cool hand at poker.  The bar's stocked, the pool table's free and the Wurlitzer's playing Goodman.
         Listen now to these tales of courage and High Adventure!"
                                                                                    -- Tales from the Aces' Bar
                                                                                        10:00 p.m. weeknights

Greetings, airmen.  Skyboss here.  Thought I'd run this past y'all, see what yah think.

Basically, I'm taking the posts from the Aces' Bar forum and copy-pasting it onto Netscape Composer.  Other than changing the tense (so everything matches) and correcting the few odd spelling and grammatical quirks, I've left all dialogue as you wrote it.  I'm pulling the posts off in the order that they appear.  If necessary, I may need to insert something in the middle of another post, or whatever.  Got suggestions?  Complaints?  Radio me at Wright Aerodrome.  I'm also available on ICQ #23086640.

Why'd I post this on Draco's site?  Well, I think he's got a good thing going there.  Be a good place for new players (wait, we're all new players...) to go for an "unofficial" view of the CS world.  And what better resource than the most experienced aces and acetates in the skies of 1937?  Who better to learn from?  Who better to admire and look up to for inspiration?  What better source for color and panache than these, the chosen few, the elders of the tribe, the ones who blazed new trails of fire and lead?

I could go on and on, but I'll spare yah.  This time.

Well, good readers, without further ado I present...

Tales from the Aces' Bar
A tale of pilots and perils in the Crimson Skies

        The quonset's door opened and Captain Eddie Teach sauntered in.  He scanned
the room slowly, noting the pool and card tables, the bar and the assembled legends of
the skies.
        "Cool crib yah cats got here."
        Teach wandered past the tables to the bar.  He wore a black leather flight jacket
emblazoned with the Currituck Corsair colors; shoulder flashes indicated that the
Corsairs were a unit of the Carolina Coast Guardians air militia of Dixie.  His sunglasses-
hidden eyes took in the bar's stock.
        "Morganís Rum. Hey, not that...the good stuff. Good man."  He tossed coins on
the bar and sauntered over to the Wurlitzer.  There was a jingle as Teach inserted a
nickel.  The strains of Benny Goodman's orchestra flowed from the speaker.  He pulled
out a pack of Luckies.
        "Anyone for a game of cards?"
        "Sure, what are you up for, 21 or a good game of 7 stud poker?" asked Draco as
he took a seat at the card game.  "See good old íSkybossí sent you, how has he been?"
        Vice-Airmarshal Draco was a older man with graying temples of his military hair cut, He had a somewhat wrinkled face but it was still prominent, and his crystal blue eyes had that 12 yard stare that all veterans pilots seem to have.  He was dressed in an ordinary ES pilot suit, with a navy blue flight suit, a soft leather flight jacket lined with fleece and an Airmen bag on one shoulder and a Broadway Bombers on the other, and to top it all off a white silk scarf dangling from his neck.
        Teach shuffled the cards and regarded the Vice Airmarshall across the table. His
cigarette cast veils of blue smoke toward the single, dim bulb hanging overhead.
        "Thí catís doiní fine," drawled the Corsair. "Flyiní with Gale Force tíday. Gonna
try to smoke some shine runners."  He regarded Draco through pitch black shades. "Been
tryiní to shake some shadows, too." His eyebrows rose. "Seven card.  Aces are always
        Teach stroked his goatee and nodded as Sally Sugar brought him another rum.
        A shadow darkened the doorway into the bar as a large man stepped in. Wearing a
double-breasted flight jacket and a red scarf he strode over to the bar. Leaning close to
the bartender he rumbled something quiet and unintelligible. The bartender nodded and
reached for a shot glass and a bottle of Smirnoff. The tall blonde man nodded and
accepted the drink as he plunked down some silver dollars onto the bar.
        Turning around and leaning against the bar he scanned the room as he sipped at
his drink. His eyes alit upon the poker game and he seemed to watch with interest,
studying the various players with interest, especially the man with the black goatee.
        Draco was sitting in a chair facing the bar and Eddie Teach, his adversary in this
particular game. He had just been dealt a sweet little flush when he noticed the big fellow
with the double breasted flight jacket and a blood red scarf standing at the bar. The odd
thing about him was he was staring straight at Teach as though he was about to shoot him
full of bullets or something.
        Draco quickly but discretely tapped Teach and pointed toward the big fellow with
the evil looking grimace.
        Cigarette smoke churned in the dim light, forming layers of haze akin to the
stratus clouds that held forth high above many battles.
        The bartender and Sally glanced at each other and edged toward the patrons at the
other end of the bar as the jukebox began to play an old, slow mariachi tune.
        Teach glanced askance at Draco for interrupting his concentration. He followed
the Airmarshalís gesture and met the eyes of the newcomer.
        Twin pools of pure black ice reflected the big manís visage back at him, Teachís
eyes were hidden by a pair of round black shades. A gust from the advancing stormfront
rattled the door and the neon sign outside flickered.
        Teach leaned back in his chair, placing his cards face down before him. He stared
back at the newcomer and the onlookers could almost hear the roar of engines and the
chatter of machine guns; ghosts of the past leaned in to listen this night.  As he leaned
back, the Corsairís black flight jacket fell open to reveal a shoulder holster. The grips of
a nickel-plated Mauser peeked out.
        The sounds of a lonely trumpet echoed in the silence.  Teach took a drag off his
        "Blood." He continued to return the stare.
        Out of nowhere two fingers tapped the shoulder of the red scarfed individual .
         "You should look at people like that Blood, Itís impolite".
         Ellington Cross had met Blood long ago over the skies of Arixio.  He stood six
feet tall and smelled of whisky and expensive cigars.  His goggles placed over his
forehead glimmered in the dim light of the bar. A grin ran across his unshaven face as he
turned to look at the poker table.
        "A two person game of poker doesnít seem much fun now, does it. Maybe we
should up the ante a bit donít you think?"
        Still staring back at Capt. Blood, Teach turned over his cards.  Spades, the swords
of a soldier. Clubs, the weapons of war. A clean miss for this combat ace. Smallshot and
shrapnel. A losing hand. He pushed a doubloon towards Draco.
        Four top pilots in the bar tonight. Sally groaned. Stories and boasts, and veiled
threats too. Who had the fastest plane, whose men were the hardest. Now they were
settling in for a game of cards. She rolled her eyes. She wouldnít get home before dawn
this night.
        Teach stood and shifted his seat to the left.
        "The infamous Captain," Teach drawled. He glanced at Cross.  "And a cat
unknown to me."
        Another drag on his Lucky sent a cumulus cloud of smoke into the air. Teach
tossed a small wad of bills towards the bar. The bartender caught the small parcel with
practiced ease. "Keep íem filled, yídig?"
        The bartender nodded uneasily. The Corsair was too quiet, too laid back for an ace.
        Without looking, Teach handed the deck to Draco and took a shot of rum. Still
staring back at the pirate captain, Teach said, "Letís play."
        The tension seemed almost to reach a point of spontaneous combustion around
Blood before the corners of his eyes relaxed and he grinned at Cross.
        "Sure thing, Iíve always wanted to match hands with the captain over there," he
nodded towards Eddie as he grabbed the bottle of Smirnoff still sitting on the counter and
dropped a few crumpled wads of bills where it sat.
        Blood grinned with his mouth and nodded his head towards the poker table as he
and Cross made their way over.
        "Mind if we join in?  Itís gettiní so that a fellow doesnít want to fly out there and
drinkiní is boriní lessí you have something to keep your mind occupied with."  He smiled
again, but only with his lips, his eyes were cold and as hard as the blue ice they were the
color of.

        The wind howled and banged the door again. Sally rushed over, and slipped the
little lock into place so that it wouldnít keep swinging open, but kept the saloon still open
for business. She shivered imperceptibly as she looked outside and muttered something
about a bad blow cominí on. Then she shivered even more so as she glanced over at the
poker table and muttered something quieter about it "cominí to blows in here."
        Sally was almost behind the bar when the door banged again.
        Thinking that the latch had come undone, Sally turned, only to see the real reason
the door had come open. Another customer, and judging from his dress, another pilot.
        Captain Justin "Gyrfalcon" Shepard quickly closed the door behind him. Turning
back towards the bar, Capt. Shepard glanced at the poker game and decided that it looked
to be a bit too rich for his blood. He started unwrapping his silk aviatorís scarf and
headed for the bar.
        "Iíll have a whisky sour."
        Sally mixed the drink and set it next to the Captainís elbow, but he was looking
back at the poker game.  Looked like the dealing was about to start.
        "Well boys and girls, letís play some poker. Mr. Draco, it has been a while. Oh, I
apologize for my rudeness..."  Ellington stretched his open hand towards Eddie.
        They proved witnesses to the kind of life Cross had lived.  Coarse and scarred
and yet somehow they retained the gentleness of an artist. He seemed at ease and
        "I believe we have not been formerly introduced. My name is Cross, Ellington
        Teach stared at Cross for a moment, his face expressionless behind his shades,
before crushing out his Lucky and grasping Crossí hand in return.
        "Eddie Teach. Captain," drawled the Dixie militiaman. "I fly for the Carolina
Coast Guardians air militia, Currituck Corsairs group."  Teach lit another cigarette and
idly toyed with the small pile of cash before him. There was the glint of gold within
Teachís holdings. His eyes seemed to move over to the bar to take in the airman leaning
casually against it.
        Teach brought his attention back to the table.  "Who ya fly for, Cross?" He spoke
around the cigarette clenched in his teeth. "Donít think Iíve seen ya íround thí Outer
Banks."  An evil smirk crossed his face. "Think Iíd recognize ye."

        The doors opened once more, and a tall lean man of obvious Indian heritage stepped in, shutting the doors behind him. On his jacket were the double-bars of a Captain and a unit patch featuring a wolf with large eagle-wings sprouting from its back. He stepped up to the bar.
        "Something hot, I donít care what," he ordered.
        The conversation at the card table fell silent for a moment as the players glanced warily at the newcomer. As the Indianís eyes took them in, the players returned to their game and resumed their conversation.
        The barman glanced at the waitress. The girl disappeared into the back room.  The airman leaning against the bar glanced over once then resumed his vigil over the card game.
        "Howís some mulled cider?" asked the barman.
        "Sounds good to me." the newcomer replied.
         The barkeep nodded.
        "Sally," he called through the backroom door, "bring out some oí that applejack I got on the stove."
        The mirror behind the bar gave a decent view of the dimly-lit bar.  Smoke from a variety of tobaccos drifted in layers. The air was heady with the scent of alcohol, engine grease and gunpowder.
        The card players had apparently come to some sort of accord; two shook hands across the table. Rogues, the both of them by all appearances. The other two seemed a bit more respectable.
        Sally returned with a great steaming mug. The Indian could smell cinnamon and spice on the thick steam. "Thanks, sugar," said the barman. He handed the mug to his newest customer with a nod.

        Ellington took a chair.
        "Pleasure to make your acquaintance..."
        His words trailed off as he acknowledged the newcomer.  He seemed like a Native American. For an instant Crossí eyes wandered a million miles away, into another time and his face was overcome by a melancholic expresion, a memory of another life.
        He glanced back at Teach and a small smirk crawled across his face. Lowering his head, his eyebrows raised as a puff of smoke broke away from his mouth.
        "Well Captain Teach, I must admit that I have not yet had the pleasure to visit the Outer Banks.  But believe me when I say, that if we ever had run into each other, you wouldnít have been able to remember it."
        Ellington stared into Teachís emotionless visage, a smile placed over his face. Clenching his cigar in his teeth, he moved his hand over to the deck.  He began to shuffle the cards in a pompous manner. The deck moved as a snake across his large hands.
        "Now gentlemen, Seven Card stud Aceís are wild. Is that okay with everyone?"
        A general murmur of assent rounded the table and the assembled aces got down to business. Cross dealt the cards like rounds from a fifty-cal; hot and fast. In the pause while the jukebox changed the soundtrack, the cards whispered like near-misses and shrapnel.
        Teach took his cards.
        "Nope. Probably wouldnít." Teach spoke slowly. Deliberately.
        "Iíve shot down so many anonymous cats," he flicked a five-dollar bill into the pot. "One more stray probíly wouldnít even...cross my mind." He chuckled softly and took another shot of rum.

        Taking the mug from the bartender with a nod of thanks, the Indian turned on his stool to watch the game.  He repeated his nod in acknowledgement of another pilots greeting.
        Capt. Shepard turned back to the bar and picked up his drink.  Setting a few dollars on the table, he turned to regard the newcomer. After a moment he nodded in greeting and then looked back at the poker table.
        Capt. Shepard took a long drink from his whiskey sour, and watched with interest as the game began. Watching the dealer deal the cards, the Captain decided that heíd been wise in not asking to join that game. Cards had never been his forte, and the men at the table looked like they knew their game.

        "Touche Mr. Teach. About your previous question, of who did I fly for, Iím sort of a freelancer."  Ellington cracked a smile and his eyes blazed with fire. Mieschief was written all over his face.  He placed his hand in his flight jacket and produced four gold dubloons.
        Whilst retaining a faint grin and a lowered eyebrow he moved his fingers over the deck and picked up his hand in one swooping movement. Registering the cards in his mind, he lowered the hand and stared at Teach.
        "Seems like Iíll have to Teach someone a lesson or two this evening."

         Captain Blood slid his cards into his hand and fanned them out in front of him, he nodded, either to the cards or the conversation, and then dropped a small gold bar onto the pile of ante.
        "No Columbian scrip accepted, right boys?" He grinned at everyone around the table, and then smiled at Teach.
        "Cross flew out in Arixo awhile ago, I know that, saw him take down about five banditos by himself." He glanced over at Cross for confirmation, "It was five wasnít it? Me and my boys were all stuck in those damned trucks, and that hole in my side made things fuzzy."
        He glanced once more at the crew assembled around the table, and noticed the other two airmen at the bar as well, giving them both a small nod, before finishing off his shot.
        Teach looked across at Ellington, a reply forming on his lips.

Our amazing story will continue in a moment...

Crimson Skies imagery (C) 1998 FASA Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.  Crimson Skies is a Trademark of FASA Interactive.  This page is brought to you by Draco and the Aces of the Aces' Bar.  Captain Blood, Ellington Cross, Gyrfalcon, Soaring-Eagle, Draco and Eddie Teach are copyright by their respective creators.  Support your local Air Militia:  buy war bonds today!