I ducked, put my fist into the middle of something soft and rubbery, and attempted a dive roll out of the way. A too-close-for-comfort laser blast singed the tip of my right ear. I winced and twisted. The ceiling crashed into my shoulder, and lights shot off across my vision. That was gonna hurt. I struggled onto my back and scuttled toward the darkest corner I could find, one eye on the swirling chaos currently occupying most of the bar and the other squinted shut in pain.
I gained the corner without being noticed or at least without being made into a target and huddled against the bulkhead, searching for an escape route. I figured the cops would be arriving before too much longer and if they weren’t, the bouncers would be.
The door was out. Flying fists, bodies, energy blasts and what looked like a winged pink elephant were in the way. I rubbed my shoulder and scanned the walls. A small window near what would have been the floor, had we not been in lowgrav, looked promising. I twisted around and started sliding across the wall.
I was halfway to the window when someone got the bright idea of turning the gravity generators up to Earthnormal. Up and Down suddenly had unpleasent universal definitions and I smashed into the floor.
Most of the time it irritates me when the computer built into my suit interrupts with some pointless observation. In the middle of an interstellar bar brawl, it comes in slightly useful. This wasn’t one of those times. I jerked my head around in time to see a large mass of green goo descending toward my face. A second later, I was frantically trying to get the green goo off my face and cursing silently.
I’d just managed to clear one nostril and part of an eye when something shook the bar. So much for getting out before the calvary arrived. I snorted short breaths through half my nose and continued prying the drunk Flurdian off my face, all the while expecting something large and beefy to grab one of my arms and start dragging.
It didn’t happen.
The Flurdian came loose less than a minute after it landed, let out a high pitched screech that shattered what intact glass the bar still possessed and went whirling across the room. A cloud of noxious vapors trailed after it, spreading rapidly through the room, and sending the airbreathers reeling. My forcefield activated of its own accord. Not a second too soon, either. I backed as far away from the crowd of drunken, nauseous patrons as possible, then turned and made a hasty exit through the window.
The problem with spaceport bars is that they’re usually located in a spaceport.
The problem with spaceports is that they’re normally crawling with the lowest life in the quadrant. And sooner or later, the worst of them find their way into the alleys. This being a typical bar on a typical port, the fact that the window let me out into an alley wasn’t surprising. The pile of putrid refuse I landed in wasn’t a problem. The fact that I’d managed to interrupt a couple thugs in the act of shaking down what looked like an urchin with tenticles and a tail didn’t bother me. But the rip that now ran across one knee of my pants did. Cotton cloth’s expensive out here on the rim and they were the only pair I had.
I snarled, stomped past the thugs, stormed out of the alley and headed home to dash off a quick article for the morning news about the Flurdian. At least the night hadn’t been a total loss, but next time I smuggle in a less expensive species.
Crystalwizard is both an author and a graphic artist, with far too many hats hanging on the wall.