Cold morning sun cut between the slats of the window blind, slashing across Reggie’s face. He stirred and cracked his eyes, wincing as pain cramped protesting muscles. He grimaced, not sure if the price paid was worth surviving his tussle with the Tiburons. The Super had hit him hard, nearly driving him into the concrete like a nail. A metal bar had broken his left arm just above the elbow and chunks of flesh were ripped from him by razor teeth. Only the quick reflexes and cybernetic augmentations from the NAA army kept him from biting it last night.
The only death from the fight was the Super. Reggie managed to put a slug in the monster’s eye and that drove it into a frenzy. Supersoldiers were created during the Eurasia war in the last decade. Subjects were chosen who were inherently violent and administered large doses of highly refined HGH and PCP. The result was the Supersoldier, a monstrous killing machine. They could ignore pain and loss of limbs and had the strength of ten men. Injuries just made them angry. It thrashed among its compatriots, receiving an accidental knife to the femoral artery. The Tiburons scattered, Reggie limping off the other direction, leaving the Super to bleed out on the street.
Clutching his broken arm, Reggie made a few quick inquiries as to where Doc Jimi was working that night. Fortune had smiled on him; Doc was only a few blocks away.
After a quick exchange of an untraceable credit chit, Doc Jimi worked his magic; a blend of fast acting hormone, antibiotic and nanites. It was his own cocktail, untested in mainstream labs and highly illegal. It was also highly effective.
After that, it was a few derm patches to help with the pain, and back to his flat for much needed sleep.
Reggie sat up on the dirty foam mattress and tested the movement of his arm. All seemed well. He ripped the derm patches off, tossing them to the floor. Elbows on his knees, he scrubbed bloody fingers through his hair and wondered what Stahler would have to say about last night. Nothing good, for sure.
The vidscreen’s new message light was blinking. Reggie stood, scratched his backside and stretched. His muscles protested, but it was a good pain, one that would fade as the day went on. Twisting his head from side to side, he cracked his neck.
His flat was a cheap, one-room deal; all amenities in the same space. He tapped the vidscreen as he walked past to the toilet. The ‘screen flashed to life, showing a list of programs he had designated as favorites. A news ticker ran along the bottom of the ‘screen.
“Play message,” he said as his stream hit the water.
The ‘screen flashed again and Gris’ head filled it. She looked worried and had placed herself only inches from the camera.
“Reg,” she was whispering. “Look, Reg. I heard about what went down.” She leaned to the side, out of camera, and Reggie could clearly see the shape of a man asleep on the bed in the background. His face contorted.
Gris’ face came back and she quickly huffed on the stim inhaler. “I told you I had a bad feeling about the job. If you’re still alive, meet me at the Zephyr, fourteen hundred.” The message abruptly went black.
“I don’t need this, Gris,” he told the blank ‘screen. He had clearly seen a ring on the man’s hand. A Special Forces ring. There was only one man in Yndi City Reggie knew who still wore one of those. Jefferies.
“Fuck!” Reggie punched the wall, popping open freshly closed wounds on his knuckles.
He looked at the ticker. Thirteen-thirty. Only thirty minutes. Best to see what she wanted. Maybe she had some ideas on how to deal with Stahler.
He got dressed, and headed out.
Reggie paused before opening the door, standing underneath the dead neon sign designed to look like a face gusting winds across the seas. The broken tubes were covered with decades of filth. The neon sign announced the building as the Zephyr. It had been established before the space port was built for actual sailors and, of course, tourists. After the space port was built, the natural ebb and flow of the city changed and the Zephyr fell off the beaten path. It was now just a run-down local watering hole, no different than any other in S3.
He scrubbed a bloody-knuckled hand through dirty blond hair and stretched his jaw to the side, testing the level of pain. A few cuts and bruises marred his Romanesque face and new holes and blood stains had sprouted on his clothing after last night’s meeting with the Tiburons. He took one limping step forward and pulled the door open.
Reggie paused a moment to let his eyes adjust to the dimness of the entertainment house. It wasn’t a large space, but the lack of custom at this time of the day gave it the illusion of space. Along the left wall was the bar, a long flat plasteel slab the color of a dead sky. A variety of stools ran its length, no two alike, all empty. Raz, the owner, was leaning his thin forearms on the bar, greasy black hair duly reflecting the space lighting on the wall behind him. On the wall opposite, was a row of booths that offered a choice of entertainments: gambling on the midwest dog races, holovids, ‘net wires, erotica and even a stim station. At one of the erotica booths, two men were groping each other. One wore a black faux-leather vest that was too tight on his muscular frame and the other wore a thread-bare pink angora sweater over his feminine body. Angora’s eyes practically glowed purple, deep on a stim high.
The only other occupied booth was in the back corner. Two Raptors sat there, their heads sporting an inch-wide rut of shaven scalp down the middle, a reverse response to the Tiburon crest. Hovering over their table was a holovid of Vain Gloria. Reggie could barely hear it, but he was sure it was playback of her latest concert. The holvid was made of light that threw off a soft orange-yellow glow. Vain Gloria pranced and sang, an elaborate hairstyle nearly as tall as she was sported small figurines of cherubs. Her surgically enhanced voice was nothing less than pleasing even if you didn’t like the club music she made. Her surgically enhanced body helped as well, displayed in all its erotic beauty, nothing left to the imagination. The Raptors, however, stopped watching the ‘vid when Reggie entered, focusing on him. One of them raised his glass, the day-glow green liquid slopping about, and nodded. They had heard about last night.
Overall, the Zephyr exuded filth and decay. The main floor was filled with empty tables and chairs and would serve as a pub area later in the evening as dock workers came in for synth-ale and a snack before returning home. Almost every surface was sticky from years of not being cleaned properly, paint was chipping from the walls, empty bottles and glasses could be found here and there and the whole place smelled like a toilet. Raz said that in its current state, the Zephyr had charm, an air of being lived in, used.
It was one of Reggie’s favorite places to be.