The too-familiar voice booms as Eridan is just taking his second step into the full room.
They knew Cronus was going to be there – the older Pyrope confirmed he was still alive, though he hasn’t been chatting much, and there ain’t a hundred places for barely off-planet seadwellers to end up in the Fleet.
The way he greets Eridan is calculated from the lazy sprawl of his legs to the precise impact of his voice, carrying without seeming to shout, to the two slightly bluer seadwellers he’s got his arms thrown around, all ‘look at my sycophants’.
The thing is that he’s holding court at the edge of the refectory, near the door, and that means nothing if not ‘ready to run out the second the mood turns’. Also his table is empty but for him and those wimpy underclassmen he’s roped in. Whch means he has no other allies.
Yeah, Eridan is not playing along with this one.
He strides past his dancestor’s table with a bare, haughty nod. “Cronus. Hey.” Then he makes his way straight to the middle of the room, leaving him sitting up straight with startled, inconsequential anger.
The table at the center is occupied by the oldest, biggest students, and one thin like a whip with hands absolutely devoid of gems.
“Clear off,” Eridan says, swinging his rifle from his back to the underside of his arm.
“Hey, champ, the projectile and power weapons are forbidden indoors,” Cronus says, catching up at a lazy amble. His mouth is twisted in something that’s supposed to be a smile – conciliatory, manipulative the way the lowbloods are, trying to convince because they can’t force you. Eridan is not surprised he managed to get hookups with that attitude, and even less surprised that he went nowhere else. Fuckin’ humankin.
“S’okay,” Eridan replies, eyes narrowed as he stares down the thin, dangerous one. “I got a Tyrian-class derogation.”
Then he shoots through the table.
He gave one warning. It shoulda been enough.
He gets one thigh – not whip-thin, one of her bigger cohorts – and they fly to their feet (apart from the one who falls;) the table swings, almost topples over, food platters sliding to the floor.
“Thanks for gettin’ up,” he throws lazily at the lot of them and their bristling weapons.
His heart is beating a bit fast but the way all the eyes in the room are turned to him, burning through his skin just make him stand taller, prouder. He’s holding the whole room’s attention; it’s heady.
“Fef? Yer spot’s free.”
When the Heiress sweeps in with the rest of her retinue the attention of the room shifts to her, as is proper – but the eyes of the previously ruling group flick from her to Eridan and back, and he knows they can tell she’s gonna be epic, and Eridan Ampora is gonna be one of her major backers.
“How nice of you all,” Rose throws. “Hello, Cronus,” she says in passing, and then adresses the fourth – no, third most dangerous one in the group, if Eridan’s any judge. “Would you be so kind as to go and ask the cooks for four meals, please?” and it’s absolutely not a request.
“Yeah, that’d be reel nice,” Feferi says, smiling with her teeth out, and sits on the chair Roxy is holding out for her. Rose and Roxy sit next, Roxy making sure to put her own rifle pointedly on the table; Eridan moves to stand at Fef’s shoulder, staring at the group until they stand the fuck down.
Some disperse warily; whip-thin bows to Feferi. “It is an honor to be of sevice,” she says, eyes narrow, and the few other brave ones echo the sentiment. The one Eridan shot is standing between two friends and even takes a bow, face twisted in pain. Heh. Gutsy. He doesn't know about smart.
“What’s all your names?” Feferi asks, because she is benevolent, and because they need allies. She leans forward on her elbows, chin on her hand.
They introduce themselves, make some pleasantries. Feferi makes some back; doesn’t invite them to sit back down. The food arrives; Eridan sits. Cronus is still hovering behind them, fists clenched with resentment.
He’s gonna try to cause them trouble if they don’t take him in, and as much as Eridan hates it, he is still crew. Secondhand. Distantly.
“Hey, Cro-cro,” Roxy says. “You, uh, wanna bring your plate?”
“And your friends,” Rose adds with the air of someone doing damage control. “Might as well.”
Eridan sneers, can’t help it. “He ain’t gonna bring us either jack or shit, gonna tank our rep right out of the gate,” he says in an undertone. He still remembers Cronus trying to make Eridan believe he was doing him a favor, with his hands going places.
It was instructive and physically pleasant, but Eridan owes him nothing, and needs nothing else from him either.
“He is visibly related to you already,” Rose says back across Feferi.
“Hm. Yes. Bring your friends.” Feferi’s eyes crinkle as she smiles, mouth closed. “We don’t want them to feel all alone in here, without you.”
“–Hah. Sure thing, princess!” Cronus throws back with a bright, easy grin, a touch of nervous relief quickly hidden, and turns around to go get his followers. Eridan tries not to sneer. Princess. Does he think just because they’re crew that they’re friends? Ugh.
“I’m gonna haveta ask you to find out what kinda rep he’s got exactly,” he mutters to Roxy. “Also if you could throw it out here that ain’t no way he’s my ancestor at this age, it’s already annoyin’ I’m gonna haveta show ‘em all I’m nothin’ like him.”
Feferi rolls her eyes, elbows him in the ribs with a harsh little snap to it. “You shot a guy through the leg thirty seconds into swimming in, I think you’ll be okay. Anywaves, try this egg roll, it’s not bad.”
It’s hard to squabble with Fef right here in public when the whole room’s looking at them and Roz is on Fef’s other side but having to be sneaky about it at least distracts him from Cronus babbling to Roxy about how much of a big fish he is around here and how he can’t wait to introduce them to everyone else.
Oh well. They might need a fall guy at some point.