The Thargoid and Fer-de-Lance

Eventually Frank slowed down and then stopped completely. Gir repeated her question "Are we good now?". She gave him a little nudge to try to elicit a response.

Frank's face came crashing down onto the bar, Gir paused for a moment before bringing her hand to her forehead as she began to shake her head a daft grin creeping onto her face

"I take that as a yes" shrugging she slightly adjusted the now passed out Franks positioning on his stool, since his Velcro stool had gone missing, to try and give him the best chance of not falling straight to the floor with the slightest movement

"We'll talk again when you wake up, ya daft old git"

Gir chuckled as she turned toward where Jenner was and a now reappeared Illu pushing her way between the two placing her arms around there shoulders, she hadn't know them for as long as they had know each other but she still felt like there where old lifelong friends. It felt like they hadn't all been together for far to long and a warm nostalgic feeling filled her heart, she gave them both a little squeeze smiling softly

"So fill me in what have I missed...."
The room briefly explodes into a barrage of light,as the doors swing open, the intense flickering sparkle of flash guns popping heralding the arrival of forces favourite Frame-3 girl Melodia Strum, here on a morale-boosting press junket,accompanied by her escorts for the evening,a mixed gaggle of brass and diplomats.They are swiftly ushered into the elevator that will take them to the vip sanctuary above. Sven emerges from the back room,brushing splinters from his head and arms.He glances at the scene,taking in the latest arrivals,then at the hole above the bar.He shrugs and resumes dusting down his T-shirt.
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After a long time trading and exploring in the deep, your First visitor through these door returns to the bar after five years. I Marcus Atreides bestow many a story of adventure finding losing regaining of wealth through good means and foul, now returned to the occupied systems of mankind from deep exploration. Prey tell inn keeper of any news abound, that may lead me to more adventure ahead and the next round on me....
The old codger sitting at the bar thanked Marcus Atreides for his glass of Janx by holding it up in salute. He then beckoned him over to look at something in his hand.

Marcus went over to see "It's a five credit note. Why did you call me over to look at it?"

Frank explained. "This bar's a bit dingy fer my eyes. I couldnae make out if it was a tenner or a fiver. I just needed a bit of light."
Phong slips into the seat next to Frank,signals for Sven to top up the beakers,and slides a small pouch along the scarred and stained bar.
'I'd like your opinion'
Head wobbling slightly,Frank blearily gazes at the reflection in the bar-room mirror,noting the the cheap raincoat,floral print ballgown and sumptuous pantaloons with yellow piping, before turning his head amd staring into the jet black visor.

'Janx,what do you look like?'
The faceplate glows internally, allowing him to observe the features encased within the smoked glass, before dimming and returning to its featureless state.
'Yeah,soory bout dat,a wonky job lot of camo-suits from olympus village,tho' why dowdy portly middle aged spread was ever considered a fashion exemplar is beyond me.'Phong mumbles through the straw that is extruding from the base of the visor.'Damn thing wont work less'n i keep the helmet fully engaged,but the torc's were as glitchy as hell.'
The old miner shuffles unsteadily on his stool. He takes a swig of Janx. "When yer out in the black it's important thats you keep hydrated."

Frank reached down from the stool causing it to totter precariously, and retrieved his old-fashioned space helmet. "You see that there?", pointing, "That's a suck-it tube. Normally goes to a plastic bladder on the back of uer shoulders. Mine is made of meta-glass cause the Janx was melting the plastic."
The sucking sound diead away,as the last gurgles disappeared up the spout ,followed by a brief indrawn sigh of contentment.With a crack,Phong's headgear hit the bar ,and the low sound of snoring emmenated from the speakers mounted artfully beneath the shoulderpads.
Frank nodded slowly and Sven silently moved forward from out of the shadows,poured another round,and retreated to his crossbar.Only then did he reach out and peek inside the pouch,before tipping out a collection of rocks and samples of varying hues,spreading them across the bar with one gnarled digit.
The place was quiet save for the sound of gentle snoring. Frank looked around at the old place. He was remembering it like it use to be, when it was busy. He frowned at Sven who was too busy checking the quality of some rocks to notice. "What happened to Garythe?"

Sven stopped what he was doing to give Frank a nonplussed look before he returned his concentration to the rocks.

After a few attempts the auld miner managed to remove himself from his stool. He staggered and swayed over to the jukebox. Digging his hand in a pocket he pulled out a coin and dropped it into the machine. "Here's one of auld boys from the auld pack. He's just pointed out a spaceship to us that can go underwater."
"Did someone order a big pizza pie?" asked the DeliverBy driver

Amber nodded and pointed to the old codger by the juke box,

"You mean the little old wine drinker?"

"Janx more like" quipped Mark sardonically
The toucan which has been tapping gently on the visor for several minutes hops backwards on the bar,head tilted,examining it's handiwork..
With a cry of 'POWER-POINTERS AWAY',Phong springs upright,head turning wildly.The faceplate,which for several hours has been lain on its side featureless apart from the odd lazy Z drifting across its surface in mellowing variables,lights up in a burst of random data expressed as photons and a squirrel of dirty data swiftly mooted..
'Did someone say sardines? A bowl of slowwater for my nutty friend..
A copy of Shi Li's '63 Shades of Prey: a treatise on the Queen's Indian Defence' has been dislodged from the bookshelf.
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A sudden chill descended on the bar as a group of almost spectral figures in dark robes entered. They began to sniff the air much like a Momus Bog Spaniel hunting wild Haggis. The seemed to be searching for something.
Eventually the 9 strangers gathered by the bar in disappointment and confusion.

Sven was not happy. The strangers were disturbing the other patrons and were struggling to make an order
". No I haven't seen a mad
"Sorry gentlemen, we don't have any Orcish grog in stock. and I've never heard of Miruvor or Limpe . No those coins aren't legal tender. We can only accept credits as payment. No, I haven't seen any magical ring. Maybe you guys should try asking the guy with the toucan on his head "
A while after the spectral figures left the Prancing Thargoid-and-fer-de-lance there came 4 small pilots. Their faces were creased with weary, obviously unused to any adventures they may have had recently. They ordered 4 horns of the inn's finest Orcish grog. The ornate horn tankards looked massive in their tiny hands. They took their drinks to a dark corner of the bar and tried to remain inconspicuous as they discussed their next steps.

"Tj the Grey did say he would meet us here."

"He also said he would send someone else if he was delayed. We can't be expected to navigate the neutron field ourselves. What if we see those 9 spectral griefers again?"

"What about the weird old man sitting on a stool beside the bar? Do you see the way he scowls at everyone that passes by? He seems most upset when someone gets served before him."

"He's such a pathetic dishevelled character. There's nobody that can be that much of a loser. He must be in disguise... maybe some sort of great hero who could lead us to our next destination?"

Sven had been collecting their empty tankards when he overheard that remark. He couldn't help bursting out in laughter.
Having conversed amongst themselves for some time,one of the four shyly approached Frank.Frank looked up from his musing,confused as to where the voice was coming from.He was used to most of the side effects of janx,recognised them almost as old friends,but auditory hallucination was not one he remembered encountering.
He became aware of an insistant tapping on his knee and looked down.
"Excuse me sir,do you have any change?"
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The old man tried to clear his bleary vision by blinking. There were four tiny out-of-focus pilots staring at him hopefully. With Janx-laden breath he muttered "Change?"

After several attempts he finally managed to shove a hand into his pocket. He fumbled about a bit but to no avail. There may have been coins in there but Frank would never have been able to find them as the Janx had taken away the feeling in his fingers.

The frantic ferreting about in his pockets had taken its toll on the velcro that had stuck the old codger to his stool. Now on the floor, Frank sits down and starts singing about gold asteroids.

The four tiny pilots perk up and join in the song. One gets up on the bar and starts to dance, but then becomes aware of all the people looking at him and becomes very self-concious. Without a sound the little pilot vanishes from sight.

Frank was watching him as he disappeared. He shrugged his shoulders. It was the sort of thing Janx drinkers see all the time.
Cmdr Lister remembered this place from long ago. Several Id's lay scattered on the floor Illu Minty, Agent P. He wondered what ever became of them. Knowing their incompetence probably fertilizer in the habitation rings. He didn't much care for the new decor and the square stools looked more painful than the regulation federation bar standard round stools. It was nice to see Frank still propping up the bar, surrounded by a tonne of empty Janx bottles. I guess Sven didn't care as much now business was slow. He sighed he remembered when this place was the throbbing center of party times, regular deaths, special guest appearances from galaxy renowned artists like Susan boils and Hugo Mars. He saw tonight's talent offering trying to play Beethoven's
5th Symphony on a can of biowaste. He took a shot of Evil Juice in a glass that was probably last cleaned during the great purge, taking one last look he nodded to Frank who had passed out face first on the bar and walked out looking whimsical..
For several minutes the only sound that permeated the cavernous vault wherein the bar lay was the squeak of the swing doors swaying gently in the breeze created by Cmdr Lister's whimsical parsing.
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Dayrth was always a busy fellow. So much to do, so little time to do it in. This week though things had gone unexpectedly smoothly. Everything that needed to be done was done and with a couple of days to spare. As he was relaxing and pondering how nice it was to have some time to himself for a change a thought occurred to him.

He had been hearing tails of the Thargoid and Fer-de-Lance for years. He'd always wanted to visit the place, meet some of the legendary characters who frequent the bar. Try some of the exotic spirits they serve there. Experience the vaunted atmosphere, but life always seemed to get in the way. This was the perfect opportunity though. So off he went.

Now he was here. Standing outside the swinging doors, he felt excited and a bit nervous. This would be a day to remember. He stepped forward, the doors creaking as they swung open, and there he was, standing in the almost mythical bar itself.

He looked around. Taking in the dusty tables. The empty and overturned chairs. The slumped and unconscious figure of Frank lying under his stool surrounded by empty bottles. The sullen expression on Sven's face as he made a futile attempt to polish a glass. The silence!

Dayrth turned around and walked out again.
'Oh well!' He thought.
'At least that's one thing checked off the bucket list.'
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Sven breathed on the glass and tried polishing again. The glass squeaked as he ran his nail over the stubborn mark. "Good enough." After placing the dirty glass on the shelf he turned his attention to the auld miner. "Frank! Wake up you old goat. Time for you to go home. What was that I heard about your bucket list?"

Frank responded to Sven's prodding with a groggy frown. He was awake. "Bucket list?" With the same frown on his face he slowly reached in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled page for Sven to read.

The barman snatched the paper out of the drunkard's hand and stretched it out to make it easier to see the writing. "Sven, could you get me; a bucket of beer, a bucket of whisky, a bucket of Janx, a bucket of Evil Juice..."
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