His size, impressive though it was, meant little enough here. But the pure black uniform that sucked in light like a black hole, the small fusion light point source on the chest, covered with runes wriggling as though alive, the slight hint of dayglo orange peeping from the holster at his side - these held the attention of every man, woman and whatever in the room.
Lumbering up to the bar like an overloaded cargo carrier in a third rate spaceport, knocking the bar back a full millimeter as his massive frame collapsed against it, he spoke. The words, like a short burst from a full-auto 50MM Hellbore Peacekeeper, got everyone's full attention.
"Coming right up, sir!" The bartender's voice was as cheerful as ever; he seemed not a bit bothered by the appearance of the most feared lawbeing in the known universe.
Nowak glared around the room; dozens of nasty-looking patrons stood up under his steely gaze, their fight-or-flight instincts fully aroused. That voice rent the peace of the room again - "Make it a double, and on the double!"
With an awesome, evil purpose, the rest of the customers stood up as one; some unseen puppetmaster might have been at work. The silence, as they say, was deafening. Jaws had dropped, eyes were bulging, fronds had unrolled, sonars were pinging frantically. This event was unprecedented. Nobody had ever ordered a double before - many had not survived what The Big Man had as his usual.
The silence deepened, solidified, gathered itself into a huge vortex of absolute stillness - the aural equivalent of the color of the uniform Nowak alone dared to wear. Then, shrieking like banshees, with terrible screams of rage, every being present at the moment ran, leaped, flew, or otherwise motivated straight at the hulking intruder.
Old and new implements alike appeared - clubs, dirks, stunners, prods, saps, lasers, and the odd flame thrower - all in ready, skilled hands. Within the space of a human heartbeat, the giant had disappeared under a furious, unstoppable mountain of vari- colored flesh, chitin and metal. For some brief, immeasurable amount of time, all was silent save the thuds, shots, tearing and sizzling sounds deep within that terrible pile.
As suddenly as it had started, it was over. The patrons were all back in their usual seats, getting crocked in their preferred manners, the buzz of interstellar communication at its usual pitch and volume for a place such as this.
The only thing wrong with the picture was the huge, black and red lump in front of the main bar. Surrounded by pools of blood, smoke rising from various blaster craters, the mass was unrecognizable as any sentient life form.
Finally, the mass stirred, quivered, and then lurched upright, somewhat unsteadily. Near the top of the mutilated blob, two steely eyes wandered around the room, two glazed orbs not quite focusing wherever they aimed. Finally, they found the bartender. Nowak straightened somewhat, and wiped most of the blood from his face. He grinned drunkenly, and threw a large gold nugget onto the bar.
"Thanks. I needed that!" Waving away the proffered change, he yelled at the room at large. "Drinks are on me!"
As the applause thundered around him, he bowed. Turning suddenly, he left the bar as loudly as, if less steadily than, he had entered. A cab appeared at his waved command, and he headed home much refreshed.
Last updated: 30 Mar 1994
Copyright 1989-1994 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.
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This copyright may be freely used, distributed and modified subject to the conditions noted above in the preceeding paragraph. Miles O'Neal <roadkills.r.us@XYZZY.gmail.com> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514