The buzzing room, full of officers and people in suits, appeared almost full. The tables, decorated by beautifully arranged flowers, offered polished glasses and porcelain plates with exotic savories.
Waiters were moving elegantly, with noblesse of penguins in the tuxedo which contrasted with down-to-earth attitude of pilots who spoke in muted voices, uncomfortable in the presence of higher-ups.
Gromov immediately started to feel awkward, while Akane observed the surroundings with brimming delight, almost like the extraordinary scenery was meant for her, the arriving princess.
"It's worse than expected," grunted Gromov. "I didn't subscribe for a bloody banquet. What is the thing over there? Karaoke?"
On the right side, they prepared a stage ready for a live show with microphones and music instruments. Almost one third of platform occupied grand piano, glowing in the exquisite black.
"Oh Sava, you didn't bother to read the program, right?"
"Should I?"
"Miriam B is gonna to sing tonight. She's the absolute star. Stuff like Fire in my bed, Betrayed, Sweet illusions."
"Akane, I've told you before to omit the intimate details from your stories."
"They're songs. The most famous melodies. Of the most awarded singer ever!"
"Never heard of her. Oh wait, isn't she the chick who bungee-jumped from a bridge, catching roses in her teeth?"
"No, that was Misha Felis. She is an actress and stunt woman. A different person."
"All the same to me. Well, I hope it’s not mandatory. Don't want to spend an evening with some crazy woman, yelling she is not gonna be sad cause she has fire in the bed."
"You know her!"
"Unfortunately. But that's not the worse part. The worst is..."
Akane followed Gromov's eyes. From the most prominent group of officers, two men separated and headed towards them. The first was a colonel with grizzled hair, light blue eyes, and thin lips. The silver band of biomechanical memory aid wrapped his head, connected directly to the brain behind the left ear. Energetically with a mild smile, he was pacing directly to Gromov, so any observer would get the impression he is an old acquaintance of the captain.
The second man, a major, was taller and slimmer, wearing blue glasses under brown hair, which seemed too long for military prescription. Compared to the colonel who appeared immensely vital, the mayor showed marks of mental fatigue, resembling victim of insomnia. He had benign heavy-lidded eyes upon hooked nose and slightly open mouth as someone who hardly catches the breath.

“OK, lieutenant,” mumbled Gromov. “Time to socialize. ”
He tried to hide all unpleasant feelings, performing few steps forward, while forcefully shaping face in a distorted version of happy-to-see-you. One reason he disliked the very idea of attending the summit stood in front of him, with a clear intention to pretend they are the best friends ever.

With an expression of a bear, caught into a trap, he offered the handshake: “Colonel Steiner! So glad to meet you again.”


About the author

Pavel Morava

Bio: Born in the Czech Republic, Pavel Morava is not a native English speaker. Having been twenty-two years old, he published his first book, which did not become an international bestseller. After a few other attempts, Pavel Morava abandoned the literary career for over twenty years, during which period he has been focusing on processing of plastics, programming, and raising of children.
Recently, with more time at his disposal, he returned to the forgotten ambition, fighting a futile battle with English language, procrastination, and the tendency to give up too early.
Being vivid reader of not Anglo-Saxon origin, Pavel Morava was fortunate enough to experience books from different countries, including Czech, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Swedish, Dutch, Japanese, French, German, and English. Such a vast literary variety heavily influenced his own work, which typically relies on an one-point-of-view narrative, consecutive storytelling, and elimination of unnecessary details.
Web novels and online publishing made him reevaluate his approach to style and building blocks of the text; the result should be, hopefully, lighter, shorter, and more intelligible for reading on electronic devices.

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