2020.08.21 "You made that up."

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"You made that up."

I'm not sure how much my total lack of surprise is conveyed by whatever expression is on my increasingly-worn face, but I lift my spiny shoulders in a shrug-like manner. "That part isn't important for the purpose of this exchange, but it does set things up well to help you understand what I'm trying to explain."

The lean reptilian death-machine regards me through slitted eyelids. "Look, ye crazy old monster, I ken that ye can murder me inna blink of an eye - yeah? So I'll listen to whatever cockamamie tale you need me ta hear. Just maybe leave out the shyte with magical humans with wings."

"The lady with the bat wings that leapt into the portal wasn't the scary bit; it was the black telepathic robots that started hunting me. That was what started me on this path."

The reptiloid adjusts all three of its pairs of holstered blasters to get more comfortable on its barstool perch. "A path for forcing random people to listen to crazy stories?"

Woo - suave. It must have pinged the robotic bartender to start making a drink a few moments ago, because that casual reach backward without looking to receive that mug was pretty slick. I wrinkle my snout. "That's a by-product." I tap one of my talons on the bar top to request a replacement drink of my own, in a more old-fashioned way. Based on the crooked set of its mouth, I think it does not think I'm very cool.

The robotic bartender gives me an ETA on my drink, which seems somewhat faster than I would have expected. I regard my captive audience some more. "At the time, I was rather skilled with a blaster, and well on my way to being a decent assassin. Tough enough that people stayed out of my way, which let me move pretty quickly through various environments."

Ah - a nod. This makes sense to it, as it probably aligns well with its own ease of moving through reality through brute application of paired blaster fire.

I let my fangs show as I smile, to distract it. "That almost got me killed too many times to count. Because as fast as I could move on, the things hunting me could always find me."

"So ye'r shitty at sneaking an hiding. So whaaaaaaat?!!!"

The change of expression is just delicious as I brought one of its very-precious plasma blasters into view. "That was jut the thing - I wasn't. Kind of the opposite." It is clearly reigning in its indignation as it respectfully retrieves the exquisite weapon from my open palm. "My problem was that I was just a bit too... distinctive."

A bunch of half-formed expressions chase each other across the reptiloid's face. "Have ye been hunting me down?"

The tension of the moment is piled on with a faint mechanical scream and a sudden thin plume of smoke rising from behind the bar. Both I and the reptiloid glance over, and I get an updated ETA on my drink that is considerably further in the future. An ugly snicker works its way out of my ragged vocal chords.

Turning back to regard the noticeably-more-tense reptiloid, I tilt my wedge-like head. "Smart question. But no, not exactly."

It doesn't look relieved. "What do ye mean 'not exactly'?"

"Honestly, I wasn't looking for you. Just someone like you."

"So, what? A seasoned shock-trooper?" I can see a thought sprout in its mind real-time. "Or, are ye just looking for the toughest arsehole in the bar, to make a point?"

It's not far from the mark there. "Let's just say that you are a means to an end, yes." And it wouldn't be correct to try to be any more reassuring than that. Because this bristling hotshot is definitely at risk. Imminently. But not as much as I am. That thought makes me smile, sardonically.

"Oh, yeah? Wha' end is that, then?" I'm guessing that my smile makes it even less at ease. Which is fine.

I make a face, peering over the bar to try to get a guess at the progress on my drink, and hold up a single talon. "It won't do to jump to the end. There's a process to this, for it to work properly. If we rush it, it might end up with unnecessary violence and fuss." The reptiloid looks restless, so I push on. "The tactic I stumbled on, for existing without being so easily discovered, was to diversify my methods. I stopped relying on the blaster, and started developing expertise with hand-to-hand combat. I wasn't very good at it, at first, but I kept developing the assassination ability alongside. I got rather good at that, too."

"Did that work?"


The impatience is almost palpable. "Then why even mention it?"

"Well, it did work - a bit - for a while. The problem was that the fundamental truth of what I am eventually shined through, and I became even more uniquely identifiable than before. Because I ran into an age-old problem - finding things difficult enough to be enough of a challenge to actually improve my skills. Shifting into a new type of fighting eventually highlighted the underlying assassin skills, which remain at the core of my fighting styles."

Oooh! Drink is ready! I tenderly pluck the crucible with the noxious fog roiling over the edge up off the bar. The repiloid's expression of disapproval grows as it regards my favourite poison. I gesture a "cheers" at it, and take an exploratory sip. Oh, it burns! The fumes etching my sinuses is particularly sharp. Let me just dial down my pain receptors in my face even more so that I don't involuntarily shriek. Hooooo - ahhhh. Zark that was nasty. It does have the desired effect, though: the warm sensation of a swarm of emergency nanoscopic robots involuntarily surging up my core. Plus, you know, the painful reassurance that I'm not dead and can still feel.

I turn to my involuntary drinking partner - who has apparently forgotten their own drink while watching me with an exotic mix of horror and wariness. "Which essentially brings us to the part about hunting Missionaries."

"Oh, fucking hells! More gorram fairy tale monsters?!"

Ignoring the snarl, I make a grimace. "The problem with Missionaries, for being like me, is that they are very hard to find."

"That's because they don't fucking exist, ye daft prickle bush!"

"...so I tend to use bait."

The reptiloid is abruptly quiet and alert - mostly watching me though. Which is a mistake.

"Because Missionaries like to stalk powerful combatants - for training of their own." This seems like a ripe moment to have my ridiculously over-compensating-class force blade fly up into my hand and snap energized. The tension in the entire bar is now cranked up nicely.

The reptiloid carefully reaches to his pair of widestroke blasters - which would be a good choice, if any choice he made would have mattered. "What the fuck are ye doing?!"

"You don't think I'm talking to you, still, do you?"

There's a brilliant flash as an assault cutting beam suddenly cleaves a leg off a way-too-fast human. And only be reviewing sensor data afterwards is it possible to parse how very quickly said leg fled out of the bar on its own, hotly pursued by the transforming 3-limbed ex-human. The reptiloid's blasters are out and he's pivoting to face the cowering remains of the bar - and leering Orbodun covering the exit with said assault cutting laser.

I glide off my stool, also carefully regarding the exit, and slink over to my partners. "That worked really well!"

The super-stealthy Takolee appears at my elbow. The Orbodun nods, "Except that I almost flinched when the rifle was slipped into my grip. You are extremely smooth." The Takolee gives a flourish of a bow. The Orbodun nods in the direction of the flustered reptiloid still brandishing pistols. "I think you owe that... guy? a drink."

"It's truly androgynous at the moment, so neither a guy nor a gal, technically. But, nah - I already gave it a great story to tell."

"Not that anyone will believe it's story, though."

"That's a feature of a really great story, isn't it?"