by Jack Carrigan
Exhaustion swept over me, as did the acrid smell of burning tobacco and stale beer as I stepped through the door of The Black Hole. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dim lighting, and it had taken me a while to find the place. Coming down from the capsuleer levels of the station always made for an interesting adventure. Most people could care less, some were overly friendly in an obvious attempt to get me to spend ISK on their wares, and others were just overtly hostile.
It had been a long day of waging war against the Nation again, and it was time to relax, get a drink, and fade away for a while.
I noticed the fact that this kind of establishment wasn’t one likely to have a high presence of any form of security or law enforcement, so I’d have to be careful. I was exposed, but unlike most capsuleers who remained in the well-protected upper levels of the station, I didn’t really worry about it.
As I made my way slowly up to the bar, I could feel the tack of something sticky on the floor clinging to my boot soles. More than likely a drink spilled by a boisterous drunk, or during a brawl. As I sidled up to the bar, a man approached me. He was clearly inebriated by the redness of his eyes, and the odor coming from his breath when he opened his mouth to speak to me, “Hey egger, your kind isn’t welcome here.” I smirked, “I think this place welcomes anyone who will pay them, I mean they let you in after all.” His eyes widened as a smirk came to his face, “Big mistake.” He drew back to swing at me with his left hand, but became unsteady in his balance, and then clutched his legs for support, only to vomit on his feet.
I laughed as I stepped up to the bar and took a seat. I reached for one of the ash trays on the bar, only to feel the sting of something striking my knuckles. I looked up, and noticed a very petite female bartender with short green hair, and eyes of the same color, “Paying customers only.”
“Well, get me a fucking drink then. Whiskey preferably,” I said, not exactly thrilled with the welcome. She rolled her eyes at me and slid the ash tray across the bar, “Coming up.”
I lit a cigarette while I waited for my drink, and it was obvious by the fact the bartender had gone back to her conversation with another one of the patrons, that it was going to be a while. I took a long drag from my cigarette, and blew smoke rings across the bar. After several minutes, I was still without a drink, “Hey, you going to get my drink, or am I going to have to get it myself?” The bartender glared at me, “You saying I don’t know how to do my job?”
“No. I’m just saying that you’re doing a shitty job,” I said with a smile. She sat the bottle in front of me with a glass, “Pour it your damned self.”
I had just started to pour my drink when I heard a voice from behind me, “Hey, egger. Got a minute?” I turned around, to face the speaker, a short man who walked with an obvious limp, “What can I do for you mate?”
“Well, I actually work for an anonymous party, and he directed me to you. He is looking for a bit of your product.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said and turned away. The man sat down at the bar beside me, only to slide an envelope across the bar counter in my direction. I stubbed my cigarette in the ash tray. I then opened the envelope, and noticed that it contained a substantial amount of ISK. I placed the envelope in my inner vest pocket. “Hey, wait. Aren’t you going to…” the man started to ask before I cut him off with a hand gesture. I turned to him, and then shot a glance to a table in a more dimly lit part of the establishment.
I picked up my glass and bottle, only to make my way toward the table. I had a seat in the chair that placed my back to the wall, and gave me a clear view of the rest of the establishment. I poured myself another drink as the man seated himself across from me. I then raised my glass, took a drink, and watched the man squirm in his seat. I sat the glass down before I began speaking, “I’m assuming that you’re working for a capsuleer first of all. Secondly, I don’t see the deal with all of the secrecy. This shit is legal to buy on the open market.”
“Well, considering who hired me, and his employer, they frown on the usage of combat boosters,” he said with a sigh. I looked around, and pulled a pair of bottles from my cargo pocket, and placed them on the table in front of me, “Two million worth.”
“You’re shitting me! That’s a ripoff,” the man retorted. I chuckled, “Apparently you know nothing of capsuleer economics. That’s a good price for Synth Drop. You don’t like it, you can fuck off.” A defeated look crossed the man’s face, as my glance scanned the establishment. No one really paid much attention to his outburst. He sighed before scooping up the bottles and walking off, “Fine. Just know that I’m going to fuck you up if this goes sour for my employer.”
“Ahh, threats,” I laughed, “It’s the simple things in life.”