Three years ago.
Creegan looked up from the bar as the door opened.
He didn’t see anyone enter, so he shrugged and went back to serving drinks. Fortunately, the drinks were simple affairs at the Head Shot. This was not an amateur’s bar. It was the type of place where rough men talked tough and showed off their scars. It catered to mercenaries, bounty hunters and soldiers-of-fortune, professional badasses who had higher body counts than IQ’s and who spent more time cleaning their guns than their body parts. Everyone who stepped through the door was armed to the teeth and ready to kill at the drop of a hat.
Creegan generally feared for his life during his shift, but the tips were great and he got a medical plan with full dental so he didn’t really complain.
He served up a pair of drinks to a two-headed gunman and went back to cleaning the bar when he heard a throat clear. Creegan looked around, but didn’t see anyone. The throat cleared again,and he looked over the bar. There, sitting on the floor in front of the bar, was a brain in a transparent globe. It rotated slightly, as if it was looking up at him.
“Hey, buddy, you seen a guy with a metal arm?”
Creegan blinked. The globe had spoken to him…somehow. It didn’t have a mouth, and it wasn’t speaking telepathically, which were things that Creegan had encountered before. He frowned as he looked down at the globe. He started to speak but a Deloobian came staggering up to the bar. Like all the Deloobians, at least all that Creegan had met, it was a huge, sweaty mass of muscle. Several of them had come into the Head Shot a few hours ago and had been drinking all afternoon. Creegan had no idea if he had talked to this one before since Deloobians, being clones, were all identical. And they all had bad breath.
“Gimme anudder pitcher,” the Deloobian said, slamming his empty container down on the bar.
Creegan nodded and mixed up a new batch of Pink Frosty. It was a sweet, fizzy drink, and inexplicably popular with Deloobians.
“Excuse me, pal, I was talking to the bartender.”
The Deloobian looked around suspiciously. He glared at Creegan and the bartender paled.
“Down there,” Creegan said, pointing to the floor where the globe sat. The Deloobian looked down. Then his grinned drunkenly and picked up the globe.
“Well whadda we got here, “ he slurred, squinting at the sphere. “I ain’t never seen no alien what looked like you.”
“I’m not an alien,” the globe said, irritated. “Well, I guess I am, on this planet, but…”
His next words were cut short, however, as the Deloobian suddenly vomited all over him. It started as a gurgle, then accelerated into a raging burp and finally spewed forth in a pink torrent of puke that covered the globe.
“What in the…,” the globe started to say, but then the Deloobian barfed all over him again. Creegan stepped back as pink fluid spattered the bar. The Deloobian looked at the globe, which seemed to be shaking with rage in his hands.
“You stupid, overgrown, musclebound, asinine, thick-headed, simple-minded, imbecilic son of a bitch!”
The whole bar stopped whatever they were doing stopped and stared. The mercenaries comparing recent war injuries stopped and stared. The bounty hunter who was carving a new notch into the handle of his blaster stopped and stared. The serial killer in the dark corner in the back of the bar stopped stabbing his nineteenth victim and stared.
Creegan held his breath. There was one thing, and one thing only, that truly enraged Deloobians. Being clones they had a somewhat sensitive view of the circumstances of their births, and they hated any reminder, no matter how inadvertent, that they lacked any form of parentage. Asking one about his family was enough to earn a beating. Calling one a son of a bitch was a surefire way to end up in the morgue.
The Deloobians face turned dark purple. As their usual skin tone was a light, pleasant purple, Creegan saw this was a sign of rage and quite likely an impending homicide. He knew he should probably intervene but he really didn’t want to test the limits of his insurance plan.
Then the door opened again and a blonde woman stepped into the bar. Unlike everyone else who came into the Head Shot, the globe excepted, she was unarmed. She took one quick look around the place, then turned to the Deloobian with a glare.
“Put him down,” she said.
The Deloobian, gripping the globe as if he was trying to crush it between his massive hands, turned his murderous stare to the blonde woman.
“Put him down,” she said again. “I’m not going to say it a third time.”
The Deloobian pupils turned to pinpricks and his face darkened to a frightening shade. He drew his right arm back and then let loose, throwing the globe right at the blonde woman’s head. Creegan had a split-second to feel sorry for her, and then another to feel sorry for himself since he was the one who was going to have to clean up the mess.
And then the blonde moved like lightning. She flipped head over heels, rotating as she did so, her foot catching the globe with a perfect bicycle kick and sending it rocketing back toward the Deloobian. It struck him full in the face with a sound like a wrecking ball hitting concrete and he flew backwards, landing on the floor of the bar with a meaty thump.
No one moved for a moment. And then the globe rolled over the Deloobian’s chest, leaving a slimy pink trail, and looked toward the blonde.
“About time you got here, “ he said. “Sorry you missed the vomit part.”
“I’m not,” the blonde replied. Then she ducked as a bottle flew at her head. Three more Deloobians came charging at her. She ducked under a huge fist and threw an elbow into the first Deloobian’s sternum, then followed it up with a palm strike underneath his chin. His head snapped back and he crashed into a table as he fell, unconscious before he even hit the floor. The second Deloobian rushed right at the blonde woman, confident that his size and mass would overbear her. He might have been right, had she not grabbed him by his shirt, spun, and sent him flying over the bar. Creegan ducked as over three hundred pounds of Deloobian came crashing towards him, then bounced off the back wall and landed at his feet.
The last Deloobian, seeing his clone-brothers dispatched in less time than it took him to reload his gun, grabbed a chair and swung it at the blonde woman, wanting to keep as much distance between them as possible. She ducked his first swing, smoothly evaded the second, and on the third grabbed the legs of the chair in both hands and thrust it back into the Deloobian’s face. She hit him several times with his own weapon and finally he too joined the other Deloobians in taking a hard nap on a cold floor.
“Jesus, Otto, “ she said as she put the chair down and grabbed a bottle of Travian ale. “Can’t you stay out of trouble for two minutes?”
“What? They started it. That big purple asshole puked on me. You know I’m gonna take that personally.”
The blonde shook her head as she poured the ale over the globe called Otto. The alcohol cleaned the sphere nicely and she picked him up.
“Come on, we’ll go find Balls,” she told him. “I saw a strip club called Middle-Aged Mamas down the street. I’m guessing he’s in there looking for his next ex-girlfriend.”
Creegan watched the pair leave. He looked around the bar. The other patrons had all gone back to drinking, swearing and, in the case of the serial killer, stabbing. The four Deloobians lay sprawled and unconscious, like half a ton of purple meat littering the floor. Creegan shook his head, and then went to get the broom. It was just another night at the Head Shot.