Some time later, a group of clurichauns who went by the name of the Caladbolg Bruisers gathered in a much seedier pub, MacSláinte’s Boozery, to spend their euros. Slothower Whelk, their longtime benefactor, paid them a pittance to waylay and rob hapless tourists in the Heights, especially clay from mundane Dublin or wealthy seelie fae from the Fayquay if they could.

“Oi,” said one, who went by the monicker of Wallopin’ Sam. “Ain’t that the berk what we nicked in th’ ‘Eights?” one said, cocking his bald head at a tall figure in off-white robes with an off-white beard.

“Nah,” said another clurichaun who insisted that his mates call him Berk-of-all-Trades. “We ‘ad a go a ‘im, but weren’t nothin’ in ‘is folds but gum wrappers an’ lint.”

“‘e don’t seem much broken up about it, th’ sod,” said Wallopin’ Sam. “Singin’ like a bleedin’ canary, ‘e is.”

“Oi, it’s me ears what’re bleedin'” Berk-of-all-Trades replied, a cry taken up heartily by his dozens of nearby mates. “Jim Morrison’s a-rollin’ in ‘is grave, ‘e is. If that berk ‘ad caterwauled like that in Whelk’s, we mighta dropped ‘im.”

The other clurichauns chortled their agreement before returning to the weak and watered-down Guinness, which was all they could afford on the pittance Whelk offered them as the only pawnbroker in the Heights crooked enough to buy stolen goods. The singer, though, seemed to have heard the clurichauns’ chortling and approached them.

“Hello there my hearty friends,” he said. “I couldn’t help but notice the poor quality of your libations. Might I do something about that?”

“Oy, you’d best keep walkin’, berk,” snarled Berk-of-all-Trades, showing his needle-sharp teeth. “Just ‘cos we ain’t found nothin’ worth pinchin’ on ya afore don’t mean me an’ me mates won’t ‘esitate to cut ya.”

“Oh, my dear sirs, you misunderstand me entirely,” said the man, laughing pleasantly. “I am bound by my oath to life of poverty, barditry, aid, and succor. The fact that you found nothing worth stealing was proof positive that I have succeeded in my vow.”

“Cor, throw yerself a bleedin’ bash then, an’ step off,” replied Wallopin’ Sam. “Me mates an’ I don’t give two shakes wot yer on about.”

“As a show of my gratitude,” the man continued as if Wallopin’ Sam hadn’t said a thing, “allow me to offer you some recompense. I’ve been building up a tab here at MacSláinte’s Boozery, and since my vow of poverty won’t allow me to keep any of the euros thus earned, allow to provide you and your mates with a round of drinks. It is a charity on my part, my very own Concert for Bangladesh but with spirits instead.”

That offer immediately softened the clurichauns’ attitude. “Well, me mates an’ I are always possessed o’ a powerful thirst,” allowed Berk-of-all-Trades. “An’ the swill old Whelk gives us coin what for to buy is powerful weak wot for clurichaun tastes.”

“Then it’s settled,” said the man, smiling. “Barkeep! A round of Irish-strength Riamh-Soiléir grain spirits for my mates here!”

A mighty cheer went up from the clurichauns as a host of bottles were brought out, each bearing the strongest spirits in the known world as acknowledged by the Guinness Book. The Fáidh took a step back so as not to be intoxicated by the fumes—which were potent enough even for someone who was a quarter fae on his mother’s side. The clurichauns drank greedily, and before long they were snoring loudly.

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“Coming up on one of the densest concentrations now.”

Corris nodded and adjusted his trajectory. The Altair was an inexpensive solar-skimmer, sipping ions from the radiant energy of the surrounding stellar clouds, but that meant it took a lot of handholding to pilot. Almost instinct rather than science, as they used to say in the McCrea family.

“You gonna tell us that story again, of how your great-aunt almost navigated her way out of a black hole on instinct alone?” said Derrick, gently poking fun of Corris’s consterned, concentrated expression.

“Only that I’m not sure how grandpappy knew the story if she didn’t escape,” Corris said without breaking his concentration. “That one always stumped him.”

They were upon the concentration now, off the shoulder of the constellation Aquila. Corris made a final adjustment before he gave the order to deploy the collectors. “Now!”

Skating through clouds of interstellar dust on the solar winds, the Aquila deployed its collector sails, the most expensive part of the ship, designed specifically to wring precious resources from the voids of interstellar space.

“Derrick! Get me a purity report as soon as you can,” Corris cried.

A few moments later, Derrick did so: “Ethyl formate!” he cried. “99 percent purity!”

Corris nodded. “Excellent.” The ship’s holds were rapidly filling with crystalized esters–alcohols synthesized by the stars themselves. They were in high demand for commercial flavorings for everything from raspberry candies to artificial rum, but the choicest pick of the skim would always go to the McCrea still–a mom-and-pop alcohol outfit as respected as it was illegal on every planet in the constellation.

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