The cards were set down on the table, shuffled up, and dealt out. Somewhere in a little back room on the U.S.S. Horizon, a dangerous deal was being made. Reuger was sitting with his suitcase held on his lap, watching in the dim light as the dealer tossed out the five cards. There were three others there: highly decorated generals, and an off-color presidential hopeful standing around a titanium table on a space cruiser on course for Delphi 3.
The cards were dealt and the deal was made. For all intents and purposes, the man with the suitcase should never have existed. He prevented war just as much as he started it; he fed the poor as often as he starved them. If it were to get out that he existed, people would view change as something orchestrated rather than an act of fate.
â€œGentlemen, the offer for this gamble is Delphi 3. The Ethoian Royalty has squandered its time in office and the position is now up for grabs.â€ He nodded slowly to the dealer, who began reading the terms of poker.
Each man stepped up towards the table and took their cards, viewing them with stone-cold faces. Every twitch of a brow, every muscle that dared move in an opponentâ€™s faces was like a storm drifting over the plains and mountains of Delphi 3. A single flinch could mean that the Radical Fascists dictated the future of the planet.
The bets were placed. Each man had something to lose and the world to gain. Families were placed next to sports cars, which were set upon documents for military weapons. The dealer need not make out the worth of every piece, because there were no rounds, no second chances. You went all in, or you folded before the betting began.
Reuger sat in and watched intently. His interest was purely morbid, as he knew exactly what the others would give him when one became the victor. The time to call was now.
Two kings, two fives for the General of the Republic of Luna.
Three jacks for the High Lord of the Outer Rings.
Andâ€¦ Full House for the President of the United States of Earth.
Reuger was pleased that weapons were not allowed in the chamber, though he knew the losers would need only one bullet each. The losing parties hung their heads and left with barely enough motivation to find the nearest airlock. The President wiped sweat from his brow as he smiled at Reuger, who returned the gesture with a stony glare.
â€œDelphi 3, Mr. President. Enjoy the mead.â€