The Thargoid and Fer-de-Lance

Sven peered at the note intently,then reached behind the bar and switched on the flourescents installed above.The jukebox in the corner,attatched to the same circuit,slowly wheezed its way into life, the hiss and crackle of the warped record echoing in the silence . Not being a native of yorkshire, Sven had never bothered to learn to read Frank's scrawl,but now as he stared at the arcane symbols revealed in phosphorescent glow,his brows drew together, his gaze seemed to withdraw inward.and a strange look passed across his face.
He looked down in surprise at the small hole in his chest even now begining to dribble blood ,before pitching forward onto the bar.
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The auld miner was watching him as he slumped forwards with blood dribbling from his chest. Frank shrugged his shoulders. "I just gave him an order fer some drinks. Sven will do anything to avoid work"
Frank looked up at the poster Sven had just pinned up on the wall behind him.


There was a panic in the auld miner's eyes. "How long!?"

Sven shot Frank a dirty look. "The place is falling apart. It needs done. If we do the place up a bit we might even get a few more customers."

"But the history of the place!". He pointed up at a cobweb knitted by Boris. "The dark corners where pilots got their shady jobs!"

Sven closed a box of tacks. "I see the place with sleek new seating. We should change the name to 'THARGIES'. Subtle backlighting, and...", he glanced over at Frank, "... a better class of clientele."

"Of course you know if they go upmarket, the first thing they'll do is get in younger, better looking staff."

Sven grabbed a bottle of Janx and placed two glasses on the bar; one for Frank, and one for himself. As they drank they both had worried looks on their faces.
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Frank walked up to the crisp and clean-looking pub just as Sven was outside swapping the "THARGIES" sign back to "The Thargoid & Fer de Lance". He yelled up to the barman "Oi! Switch of yer jetboots and get me a Janx!"

Inside the pub, Sven thumped a glass on the bar and poured out the drink for him. Frank looked around the place. It looked quite the same; a little less dirty. The seats were a little more comfortable, and easier to use. Then he pointed to a table in the corner. "Where's Garthyre's bookrack? It used to be there, filled with 100-word short stories written by pilots about their exploits."

"Well I guess those pilots will have to find some other way of writing their short stories." Sven and Frank stopped talking for a moment and looked the bar over before looking out of the monitor directly at you.
Satisfied that their collective paranoia was both justified and unfounded,Sven stretched forth one mighty arm and retrieved the remote control sat atop the monitor.
The screen flickered into life.
The live broadcast had been interrupted the week before during the awards ceremony,which had been looping, at the point where the winner was announced, ever since,and had by now attracted an audience of 17 billion spread over three hundred worlds.A small phasing infographic reached zero and disappeared.
'Turn it up' said Frank.
'....the nominees for Anticipation are:
Frank- Sidewinders at Dawn
JetsonRing- In Anticipation of Things to Come
Galactic Midden- Do You Remember That Time I Blew a Churl on Mars
Phong- Eerie
And the winner is...(drum roll, please)

Hollywood Burns and the Anti Zip Nation.'

The bar erupted.
Frank sneered the falsest smile ever seen. He politely applauded the winner. "I never expected to win anyway". After the awards show was over, Frank threw his acceptance speech in the bin
Phong ambled over to Frank and offered to buy him a drink and they commiserated together for a while in silence.
Bartender I would like to have a pint of Michael Brooks spacialty fizzog goggle juice please. I am sure you know the one the drink with the bite in it. <joke>Make it snappy too please. </joke>
Sven made a "one moment sir" gesture towards shadowwar. He had other customers to deal with first, but he glanced over at the novelty drinks section, past the glass issuing a blanket of smoke, past the green glowing bottle, past the bottle bouncing up and down on the shelf, to look at the bottle that was making the snarling, snapping noises.

Sven turned his attention to his current customer and tried to look as genial as possible. "Yes sir. What can I get you?"

"Gimme a space drink! Gimme something which says.. space."

The barman reached up for a glass and sat it in front of the customer.

The customer waited for a while before realising that was it. "Oi! You forgot my order. This is just an empty glass."

"Well." Sven's smile was a little more genuine this time. "You did say you wanted a 'space' drink."
With a shattering crash the far wall of the bar bulged and buckled inwards, splitting apart as tortured bulkheads groaned and bent to allow egress for the swiftly advancing nose cone which seemed to glide inexorably across the maple dance floor towards a startled Sven,the screaming decreshendo of a soured paint job dyeing away as the starship slithered to a halt inchylitres from his forehead.

Punching out the remains of his shattered canopy,the commander clambered onto the hull and negotiated his way past the debris & wreckage until he stood looking down at the bar's mystified occupants.Oops.
Sven didn't look too happy about the damage. He yelled at the commander "What do you think this place is!? A drive-in bar?"
Ignoring the irate barbot droid still sputtering in a shower of sparks trapped beneath a pylon, H.G. Worlds , (for it was he) dropped to the floor with a crash,the heavy iron boots sending up puffs of dust into the harshly lit still hazy atmosphere.Somewhere a girder creaked ominously,and a further cascade of debris tumbled slowly down,dislodged by the impact.
'Mines a pint o' heavy.'
Conversation slowly resumed.
" 'septimus finch..table for one.I did book..ferry,sorry..uber for Frank..and he says..sorry,,tuba not tu..and i says,i don't gots no dog...' "
' a sherryglass.'
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Golden-Knight had almost become an Elite Explorer...ALMOST! That's the key, before fully pledging to politics in "The Bubble", it's time to go back out into the void, and finish the job. That said, it'd take more than Elite to become a fact, he'd be lucky if that were enough to enter the "Cool Kids Club", figuratively speaking. Still, dreams of grandeur runs in his blood.

The pilot had sat alone, just lost in thought as always.
The Thargoid & Fer de Lance wasn't the place it used to be.

Sven cleared the glasses off the table where some giggling girls had sat. They'd moved on to the new trendy hotspot. There were only a few customers left.

The barman looked over to one of the many dark corners of the bar where he saw a pilot sitting staring down at half-filled glass in his hands. He'd monitor the situation and be ready when the top-up was needed. The pilot was star-tanned and had given Sven a fairly substantial tip. That, and the fact he was sitting alone suggested that he was a explorer who had just cashed in a lot of cartographic data. He'd have more money than he knew what to do with.

Sven was going to recommend he spend it on drink.
The lone, mysterious pilot would glance up, and then finish downing that drink. From what seemed apparent, it was just himself, Sven off a bit of a ways, and the bartender. Maybe it was just the time of day, or maybe the community had other gatherings...or maybe the entire Pilots' Federation isn't a very social bunch to begin with. But regardless, the isolation was nothing new to the Explorer cloth, where more times than not, the only entertainment around came from the imagination.

Coming up to the barman, who had been expecting a refill, that expectation was subverted by a specific sentence:

"No refill, I'm about to head out. Got quite a big to-do list."
Commander Golden-Knight broke his silence, while hinting at working on achievements with what was hopefully an unprecedented pace. Though left behind at the spot this Golden-Knight once sat at, a very particular doodle was drawn onto a napkin. It was an insignia of some kind, like a pentagon, but in the middle had what looked like an eagle holding a Thompson sub-machine gun, to the background of the mushroom cloud created by a nuclear explosion. Not that anyone would recognize this icon, but for those that would, it was a sort of silent way of saying, "The Golden Knight was here."
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The place was empty when it came time to call last orders. Sven could see there was nobody there but he couldn't stop himself doing the same thing he'd done at the end of every night. He rang the bell and announced "Last Orders!"

While he was putting chairs up on tables and clearing things up he came across a napkin with a doodle on it; an insignia of some kind, like a pentagon, but in the middle had what looked like an eagle holding a Thompson sub-machine gun, to the background of the mushroom cloud created by a nuclear explosion

He threw the napkin into the rubbish bin where it landed alongside a napkins with doodles of a unicorn on an oval pattern holding a bow and arrow; a tiger on a square holding a blunderbuss; a kangaroo on an octagon wearing boxing gloves; a spider on a web brandishing a laser pistol; a meerkat on a circle holding a catapult...
(I had to actually laugh at that...the end was like a punchline of, "Oh, ANOTHER hero? So what ELSE is new?!" Feel a bit deflated, but at least I got a good laugh. But it also matches both in-character and out-of-character for me: forgotten but never gone, a nobody trying and failing to become a somebody.)
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I know that "feel a bit deflated, but at least I got a good laugh" feeling. If you've read any of the 4777 post of this thread you'd see that poor auld Frank gets a hard time from his fellow posters now and again <grin>
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