• The Trench
    December 17
    1843 hours

    One of my usual haunts, It’s one of those seedy local bars that only the mercs of Trip City frequent. One of the very few places in town where we can go and feel safe. Gerda, the owner, makes sure we have a secure place to do business and to relax and we treat it like a second home; so if you come in wanting to start trouble, you had better have your Blue Cross paid up. Too me this is where the important people are, these are the guys that know exactly what’s going on and who have all the connections.
    It’s also a member’s only bar, too get in you have too have someone vouch for you who’s in good standing with Gerda; Clepto got me a membership when I made it back to the city and set up my business. He also Liz a job here.
    Clepto, Liz, and I grew up together, thick as thieves as the term goes. People at school and around the neighborhood called us the Trenchcoat Trio. But that was a long time ago, we split; I joined the Navy, Liz went to college, and Clepto went and did whatever he did to get him where he is now, the most knowledgeable man in the city, if you need to know something, he’ll get it for you within twenty-four hours.
    The Trench is located underneath the bridge leading from Kings to the Dranx, kind of out of the way for most people, but I live a few blocks away. Most of the time I’d walk, but since I have a race tonight I drove.
    With my car parked and locked, I made my way to the front door, which was large and made of steel six inches thick, we do not like people kicking in the door when we’re trying to relax or are doing business. We do nothing illegal; Gerda’s boys make sure of it, they check us for drugs and other things when we walk in the door. We are allowed weapons, but that’s because we all have a mutual understanding that if one person pulls a weapon on someone, everyone else is pulling one back on him. Like I said, we do not like trouble in our bar.
    I pounded on the door three times and after a few moments a little viewing panel slid open and a pair of dark brown eyes appeared.
    “What’s the password?” Said a deep voice.
    “Shut up Sam,” I told him, “There is no password.”
    Sam laughed as he slid the little panel shut and I heard a loud click as he unlocked the door and opened it. “Hurry up, it’s getting cold out,” he said as he waved me inside.
    “Well, it’s good too see you too.”
    Sam was a big man, kinda chunky, but most of it was muscle. He was about twenty-one or so and has been working at The Trench for the last couple of years after Gerda picked him up off the street and gave him a job and a place to stay. She’s done this several times for homeless kids, most of which were in one of the corners of the bar playing pool and feeding quarters into the digital jukebox, which they did almost nightly. There was Joe, a tall kid who always had fun singing and dancing to the music and throwing a double-edged boot knife at the dart board. Then Ed; a short squat kid who wore glasses and usually made a lot of noise, which Joe usually joined in on, and Albert, a quiet black kid (or person of color for all you politically correct people) who liked to attack Ed from behind and all three of them would end up in a wrestling match. Which would just end up bigger when Nick; a tall lanky kid who was dating Gerda’s only real child, Ali, would jump in. These were the bouncers of The Trench, they were another reason you didn’t start trouble, they might look like kids in their late teens, but they know how to brawl, I know this from personal experience.
    The Trench also has four waitresses/bartenders, her daughter Ali, her two adopted daughters, Karri and Beth, and finally Liz. Ali’s short with curly red hair and if she likes you, you’ll probably get tackled and bit at one point. Beth is short too and has short dirty blond hair, she’s most likely tackle you too.
    After Sam checked me I moved over to the bar and sat down with my back to the bar and leaned back as I scanned the room to see who all was there.
    Let’s see…
    There’s Clepto in the corner talking to a fellow Broker (A Broker is someone who deals in information and fencing), named Scratch. I don’t really like or trust the guy; something about him just rubs me wrong. Bullit’s at his usual table talking to a guy in a long midnight blue hooded coat; looks like Bullit’s got a job coming too him. The guy with the hood covering his head across form Bullit is Ezekial, the only reason I know that is because Bullit told me. I’ve never seen the guy’s face and the only info I’ve got on him is that he works for The Sorcerer; a new player in town, his name has been popping up all over the place for the last couple of months, some pretty bad stuff. Disappearances, murders, and other frak. It’s almost as bad as the Inquisition.
    Sitting at his own personal table was Lieutenant Biggs Ortega, a member of Trip City’s finest, he leads a small task force that deals with “special cases,” I mean out of the ordinary kind of frak. He deals with the supernatural and the renegade magic users. He’s also the only member of the police force that’s allowed inside The Trench. The police want in, they better have Ortega with them, else they had better have the National Guard and some C4 to open the door, because there’s gonna be war.
    “Can I get you anything handsome?” Said a voice behind me.
    I turned and looked at my childhood friend Liz, She was short with medium length dark brown hair. “Just the usual Liz.”
    “Coke it is,” she turned and moved to get me my drink. Yeah, I know, why go too a bar when your not going to drink.
    Well, I like the people.
    Suddenly I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
    “You gonna buy a girl a drink?”
    I smiled, “Only if you'll agree on that date I've been trying to get out of you for the last two months," I joked with the girl that had moved in beside me.
    “Not a chance.”
    “Then no drink.”
    “How you doing TC,” she laughed.
    I turned to look at her; this is Karri, the one I mentioned before. An attractive girl with long dark hair and a slender body. “Alright I suppose,” I told her, “Work’s slow, but I’m still breathing, so can’t complain too much.”
    “Well, keep it that way; if you died, who else would I have to annoy?” She said as she moved off to continue working. I looked to the corner and decided that this was a good thing because every one of Gerda’s boys had stopped and were glaring at me; they’re very protective of their sisters.
    “Here you go TC.”
    “Thanks Liz,” I said, glad that she had come back.
    “So any news on a job?” She asked me.
    “No,” I told her as I took a drink, “but I did get a call from Sphinx today.”
    “Oooo, you got a race?”
    “Yup, at ten. Going up against Vincent, Big Rick, and Hiei.”
    Her jaw dropped at that. Those three are some of the very best racers that the streets of Trip City has to offer.
    “Wow,” she said after a minute, “You think you have a chance?”
    “Well, thanks for the vote of confidence,” I said with a fake look of hurt on my face, “Sphinx says he thinks I got a good chance.”
    “Well good luck, I gotta get back to the other customers. I’ll come over tomorrow and see how it went”
    With that she turned and walked back down the bar to tend to the other patrons. I then turned back to the room and saw that Ezekial getting out his chair and heading for the door; leaving Bullit all by his onesies. So I grabbed my drink and made my way over to his table; throwing one last glance at Ezekial as he ducked out the door.
    Bullit’s a good guy; he and I sometimes just sit here and talk. Bullit’s former military, Special Forces stuff, but now he’s the head of a small mercenary group called Dirty Deeds; they mostly do contracts and the sort.
    "Can I sit?" I asked him.
    “It’s a free country,” he said.
    “That’s what they like to tell us,” I countered.
    He laughed, “Isn’t that the truth! How are things?”
    “Alright I supposes, still no work. How about you?”
    He took a drag from the Cuban he was smoking and looked around the room, “Just got an offer.”
    “Nice. What was it?”
    “Now you know I can’t tell you that.”
    “Never hurts to ask,” I shrugged.
    We both took a drink, me drinking my coke and him drinking vodka; I know this because that’s all he orders when he comes in.
    “So how’s your little rag-tag group doing?” I asked him
    “They’re all getting restless because of the inactivity; Trigger’s been driving me nuts! She wants too know if you’re going to come around for Christmas.”
    I blushed and scratched the back of my head nervously; Trigger is his eighteen year old daughter and she’s got a huge crush on me. I’m not saying she’s not attractive, far from it; I’m just always surprised that she does like me, but it does make one nervous when Bullit’s got a dead eye and she’s almost as good a shot as Bullit is.
    “Um…I…” I stuttered.
    “Calm down Squid, I was just joking,” he enjoys doing this too me, he calls me squid most the time, because I was in the Navy.
    We both laughed, the banter could go on for hours; which it did. We chatted until it was time for me to head out for my race.
    “I gotta head out,” I told him when it was time to go.
    “Where you off too?”
    “I got a race with your driver tonight.”
    “Well you tell him that after he’s done beating you that he needs to get his a** back to the HQ.”
    “Screw you too!” I laughed as I turned. I waved to him and hollered over to Liz that I’d see her in the AM and headed out the door.