2006.03.12 "Where am I?"

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Where am I?

Oh, right. A bar. Another zarking bar. Why is it that I can't seem to just avoid these zarking places? You'd think that I'd know better by now. Zark my head hurts. Not bleeding too badly, though. Doesn't look like a mortal wound, anyway. Well, I guess I'd better try to haul myself to my feet before some zarking carrion eater decides to digest me here in front of all these nice beings.

"Unnngh." Well. That was harder than it had to be. Is anybody about to cause me problems?

No. Doesn't look like it. There's a couple mouthier Yarks looking unpleasantly contemplative, but I'm guessing that they haven't quite forgotten what I did to that... what is that thing? Looks like a Zygroten. But waaaay too big. That zarker must be at least 500 kilograms. Must have been. There's important bits missing now.

Speaking of which, do I still have all my stuff? Well, the NST and the force blade are still in my clenched fists. Might as well put those away. Holsters still there too. Med kit's still hanging on. What else was there? Right. Nothing.

Have I always been such a loser? Man, I should head off somewhere quiet and heal up. Pity that there really isn't any such place for me at the moment. Might as well linger by the bar and listen for opportunities while I stitch myself up.

Yeah, that's right, get out of my way little human. You know, there's something vaguely unpleasant about sitting on a stool that's a little too warm.

"'Keep? Set me up with a Volcanic™, if you don't mind."

A gelatinous ameboid tentacle deposits a noxious-looking crucible on the scratched bartop in front of me, and I contemplate how deadly poisonous the beverage would be if I didn't have nanoscopic robots neutralizing the mix of venoms. It froths and seethes with a forbidding internal energy of an unresolved chemical process, emitting a ruby fog that flows over the edge of the vessel. You know, I should probably patch up that puncture in my gut before drinking that stuff. So I don't leak it out. I query the med kit, and it tells me that I only have three patches left.

Zark.

Hey, did that Zygroten have any patches... Aw. Zark. I look back over at my vanquished foe, and it's already been stripped naked, and there's something gnawing on it's face. This place really is a dive.

I'd better conserve those patches, and just staple myself up the slow way. Pity that I can't afford to hire a medic to make this go quicker. I configure the med kit for bone reinforcement, and I dial down the pain reporting on those shattered ribs in my side. A couple clumsy gropes later, and the bones are bound well enough. I set the kit for muscle stitching and start knitting, taking an occasional sip of my delicious poison.

Acht. The spines along my spine are standing on end. I smell somebody approaching. They smell afraid, though, so I don't bother looking up from my work.

"Hey Massetin." It's a syrupy voice. Shrill. Sounds... I look up and see a quivering, twitching Takolee.

"Hey Takolee, don't you think it's a little ungainly to address another being by their species?"

The little zarker's tail kinks itself into a questioning stance. "Nice irony. How do you normally address a being?"

"It depends, obviously. I don't have much against being ungainly, myself. That's why I often like to address beings by the condiment that I think would go best with them if I were to eat them." I grin expansively at the 20 kilogram being, to show it my fangs. It doesn't seem to get the hint, though.

"That's funny." It hops up on the stool beside me with an effortless quickness. "Bartender, a nutmeg cappuccino please."

Well, frightened though it may smell, it's acting pretty calm. Smart enough to be polite to bartenders, too.

It cocks its pointy little head at me, pauses, then continues chirping at me. It's a good thing my translator program is augmenting things, because it's Common tips into sound ranges I don't hear so well. "It was pretty cool how you blasted that 'Luruk in the face after it had punted you. I mean, tumbling through the air, and still managing to land that shot. Freaking artwork."

I grunt. "That wasn't no 'Luruk. It was big, but not that big. Plus the legs were all wrong."

"Whatever. It was still huge."

"No. A big 'Luruk would have been twice that size. And I'd have been dead as I tumbled through the air."

I think it shrugs, but it's hard to tell with all the twitchy motions it's making. "I have a bit of difficulty distinguishing things that large. Once something is over ten times your size, the perspective gets wonky."

Why am I in a conversation with a rodent? I return my attention to the med kit, and resume rejoining muscle tissue.

"I have a question, though..." gets chirruped beside me. "If you're freakishly deadly with a blaster, why were you dancing with that thing with hand-to-hand?"

I don't look up. "You wouldn't understand, mustard."

There's an awkward pause. A wonderfully awkward pause.

"Riiiight. OK, then. I was going to offer you some work, but I can tell you're not interested." The Takolee sniffs as it laps up its tiny little drink, and makes to leave.

I wince internally. But I'm too proud to suck up now. It's a failing. So sue me. I just keep working the med kit.

Something else will turn up. It always does.