"Oh my." Ran Hamilio opened her eyes widely. "It sounds like you were expecting me."
Rose gave the young-looking Korean woman a long, hard stare before she sighed. "You suck at acting. You know damned well about my esper ability. It's obvious that I was aware you were here. Don't play stupid with me."
Ran chuckled softly as she covered her mouth. "Such a dirty mouth for such a pretty young girl."
"Daz would get along with you great," Rose sarcastically spat out.
"Oh, would he? I'd love to meet my grandson. It's a shame the feeling isn't mutual," Ran claimed with a sad look on her face.
"Like you actually care." Rose took another sip from her coke and yawned lightly before saying, "I see you changed your name back to Ho Ran, huh? I wonder how grandad would react if he found out?"
Ran's facial expression cracked slightly. Seeing this, a smirk grew on Rose's face. "Oh, that's right. You thought he was dead, huh? Shame. He's very much so alive, no thanks to you."
"... What do you want?" Ran asked with ice in her tone.
Rose fake-shivered. "How scary." She gave her grandmother a contemptuous look before stating her terms. "Things are going to go one of three ways. One, you refuse me here and I decide to get in contact with Lorenzo. Two, you refuse me and I don't get in contact with Lorenzo. Instead, you get crushed under Daz's foot when the time comes. Three, you don't refuse me."
Sweat dripped down the youthful-yet-wizened woman's face. "... What do you want?" Ran repeated herself.
Rose grinned. "When the time comes, join Daz. He will protect you from Lorenzo and Davido."
"You think he has to ability to do so?" Ran asked with both doubt and hope in her tone.
Rose scoffed dismissively. "Accept, or decline. The only person who has a different outcome in any of the three scenarios is you, Ho Ran. It's all the same to Daz in the end."
"Four of a kind," Daz said as he showed his four kings.
The only other person who was still in this round of Texas Hold'em grabbed his head and had a defeated look on his face. He flipped over his cards. "Me too, but only queens. Fuck. You didn't even once look at your cards! How'd you do that? What skill did you use? You can't be that lucky."
Everyone surrounding the table nodded in agreement. Daz had won sixty games at this point. Some he had won with only two pairs, others with a full house. Once he won with a royal flush, but most of the time it was a three or a four of a kind that had led him to victory.
The biggest reason everyone wanted to know Daz's secret, was that he never once looked at his cards. The few people that had tried to identify him were rejected since they were too weak, so it was a mystery how he was winning.
Daz smirked. "I have good instincts. Call it luck if you want to. I had a lot of fun though. Anyone up for another round, or have I tired you all out?"
A few exhausted laughs rang out around the table.
"I'm done. I need to save the rest of my points for an easy challenge or two."
"I was only watching from the start."
"I'd go another round or two, but I've emptied my pockets on that last one."
"Man, I really wanna know how you did that. That was insane."
"Instincts, huh? Well, remember to invite me to your base. My name's Johnny Fresco."
"I'm Sakura Rei! Make sure you invite me too!"
"I already have a good home, but yeah, I hope we meet again someday. I've gotta go find my friends now. They keep texting me."
Daz smiled warmly. The atmosphere was nice when all of the negative people had finally left him alone. "Don't worry. I remember everyone's names. I'm heading over to the blackjack high stakes tables now to find Maddy. Feel free to come along if you wanna watch her win just as crazily as I did."
The crowd of maybe thirty people spoke amongst themselves as they followed Daz through the casino or split off to do their own things.
Madison had tried the regular low stakes blackjack tables, but it was hard for her to win consistently due to the rules like splitting and instant pay-out upon drawing a twenty-one. As a consequence, she had opted to go to a simplified high stakes blackjack table.
The rules were very easy to follow, to play, and most importantly, to win with. Each player got given a card face up. After that, they could choose to hit or stay, however, every time they hit, the new cards given to them would be given face down. It was up to the player to decide when to stop.
The dealer robot got a card for every time all of the players in the round hit. If the dealer was the closest to twenty-one without going bust or if all of the players went bust, then all bet merit points would be added to the pot for the next round.
"Hit," Madison said.
One of the two men at the table smiled handsomely. "Hit, and a drink for the lovely young lady."
The second man clicked his tongue. "I'll hit too."
The dealer android nodded and gave another face-down card to the three of them then one to itself, totalling four cards for everyone now. Quite a large number, in all honesty.
A waiter robot approached Madison and handed her an alcoholic cocktail of some sort. No doubt, its specifications had been decided by the good-looking man to her right.
Madison brought the drink to her nose and then frowned. She placed the glass in front of the man who'd ordered it. Clearly, she had no interest in it. The man on her left snickered as he swept back his hair.
"Hit," Madison said, not minding the two men.
The man on the right's smile faltered slightly, but he still maintained it as he said, "I'll stay. Anymore with my face-up being a six is a bit risky."
The man on the left said, "Coward. I'll hit." He sneered at the other man. 'Obviously, she's into risk-takers, you bum. Any old idiot could order her a drink. This is why you're an amateur, and I'm a pro.'
The dealer gave another face-down card to Madison, the man on the left, then itself. It then flipped over the right man's cards, revealing a seven, an ace and an eight, giving him a minimum total of twenty-two. "You have gone bust. Your bet of twenty-five thousand merit points has been added to the pot. Thank you for playing."
The man sighed before he held his chin in his hands and just gazed at Madison while he blanked the other man. "You win some, you lose some. Now that I've lost, it's almost time for me to win."
Madison didn't humour him with a response. "Stay."
The man on the left copied her. "Stay."
And so, the robot flipped over all of the cards. Its total was twenty-six, the man's was thirty-two, while Madison's was exactly twenty-one.
"Congratulations, you have won the pot of seventy-five thousand merit points," the android said to Madison as it began picking up the cards. It looked at the man on the left briefly and stated, "You have gone bust. I wish you luck in the next round."
Madison summoned her merit points via her mind to view her total amount. She was finished, after all. She was missing Daz and wanted to see him again. There was also the fact that she was running low on esper energy. Her power, 'Alteration', unlike Daz's Survivor's Instinct, wasn't passive nor was it free of cost.
|The total merit balance of the host is now: 7,123,000 [+75,000].|
It wasn't much when compared to the likes of Daz or Crusher, but it was more than enough to make her smile. Or at least, mentally smile. 'Will Daz be proud of me?' Luckily, her speaking disorder didn't carry over into her thoughts.
"Hey," the man who had ordered Madison a drink called out to her as he asked, "Do you want to go somewhere and have a meal? Get to know each other better? I'm Rodriguez, what's your name?"
Madison tilted her head as she looked at him before she turned back around and started walking away.
The other man couldn't stifle his laughter. He walked up to Madison's side and slung his arm over her shoulder. "There's no way she'd be interested in you, you stupid European. Hey, Babe, let's go somewhere more... quiet."
Madison stopped moving instantly and a sudden urge to vomit overtook her body. She glared fiercely at the man, making him jump a bit in fright, although, he still didn't remove his arm.
"Off," Madison ordered.
"What?" the man was a bit confused. 'Off' what?
"She told you to get off, you retard," an angry voice stated as its owner ripped the man's arm away from Madison's shoulder and almost dislocated it.
The man grabbed his now-throbbing wrist and winced in pain. "Hey! Who the fuck said you could butt in, asshole?!" If he had looked before he had spoken, he'd never have even dreamt of opening his mouth.
Daz wrapped an arm around Madison's waist and pulled her in for a deep kiss. After he was done with that, he let her hide in his embrace as he smiled devilishly to the man. "I did. Your name's... Donald Rickson? From Montana? I've remembered it. Expect to lose a limb or two if I see you in person and you try to hit on my girlfriend again."
He then turned back towards Rodriguez who was trying to sneak away. "Be careful who you try to flirt with. Thanks for not getting physical though. You never know whose woman you might be trying to pick up."
"I-I'll remember that, D-Daz..." Rodrigues took the holy cross that was hung around his neck and kissed it lightly. He was thanking God that Donald had been the one to make the potentially fatal mistake of angering one of the most powerful, if not, the most powerful person on the planet.
Daz took Madison's hand and left with her.
Donald collapsed to his knees and breathed out heavily. "Holy shit. That was Daz? Why... Why did his fierce gaze make me feel so... good?" Something far more dangerous than the young reaper could have ever imagined was awakening in his fellow survivor.
As soon as Daz and Madison had returned to the Korean restaurant, he found Rose's table and sat down before placing Madison on his lap. She wasn't that short, so it looked a bit... odd. However, no one had the courage to make fun of the man with the halo.
Vanessa was already at the table. She smiled awkwardly. "Em, hi? D-Did something happen?"
Daz shook his head. "Nothing important. Someone just tried to get touchy with Maddy." The girl in question was squirming about like a puppy who didn't want to get cuddled any longer. "She would have dealt with it herself, I'm sure. But I was there, so I threatened the guy a bit in her place."
Daz then turned Madison's face with his finger before he pecked her. "Why are you so attractive? I'm a lucky man, but there're so many flies buzzing around you lately."
Madison wanted to struggle more, but seeing the look in Daz's eyes, she settled down in his arms and kissed him back. "Sorry. You, too. Soon."
Daz laughed softly. "Maybe. But I'll give them firm rejections. You should show off your strength a bit. That might keep some people away. You're strong, Maddy."
'Daz is... being jealous? He's cute...' Madison didn't hate his possessive side. "Mmm. Try."
Rose snorted before she coughed loudly. "Are you two lovebirds done?"
"Yeah, I guess," Daz replied. He looked at Vanessa. "Why'd you leave Maddy? I'm just curious. I'm not upset or anything."
"Um, I lost a few games, and I didn't want to run out of money. I, um, sent you a text, and Maddy didn't mind, so I came back. Should I have stayed with her?" As innocent and honest as always. Vanessa sucked away on her juice's straw as she waited for Daz's reply.
He just shook his head. "No. Your comfort matters more. Maddy was fine anyway like I said. I only interfered since I was pissed off."
"Ah, okay," Vanessa said with a small smile on her lips.
Rose took a sip of her seventh coke can of the day before she yawned lightly. Daz rested a hand on her head. "Tired?"
She cast a sidelong glance at him and said, "Physically? No. Mentally? Yes. I have a skill that lets me divide my consciousness. I've had it running for hours. It sucks a lot out of me."
Daz's expression leaked some worry. "Don't go overboard, okay?"
"I won't. Anyway, I had a chat with our grandma," Rose announced casually.
"Oh?" Daz's curiosity was piqued.
Rose shrugged. "She plans to join you at the first proper opportunity."
Daz raised an eyebrow. "I feel like she didn't come to this decision on her own."
Rose cackled a little. "I blackmailed her. The look on her face was golden when she found out I knew that she tried to assassinate Grandpa Lorenzo but failed."
"I see. She sounds reasonable if she's not fond of the Hamilios," Daz said as he stroked his sister's hair, making her narrow her eyes in embarrassment.
Vanessa nearly choked on her drink. "Assassinate? Y-Your family is strange..."
Daz grinned at her. "Yes, very."
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