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The bartender was there frowning, trying to look big, tall, and tough, giving Timothy the sternness look of disapproval he could summon. “No trouble, mister. This is a free zone. This is. A free. Zone,” he said as if his words were coming from someone very serious and should be adhered to.

But Timothy just could not care less. He has long lost interest in hearing some bartender's tough talk. “Oh, I know. That’s why anyone can come in here. It’s a free, neutral zone. Opened to all sorts of scum. And one sort I particularly can not stand.”

“You don’t want any trouble here.”

The frowning looked so serious it almost made Timothy chuckle. “Don’t worry. I won’t start any trouble. I mean, I’ve done my share of trouble… back on Limux Grand, that is. Oh, yes, let me tell you, friend, after I and my boys were finished with Limux Grand, I’m not sure you could call it grand anymore.”

Timothy’s loud voice practically guaranteed that everyone was staring at him. Just to add to the effect, he chuckled with the evil madness.

“I mean, on the account of all the Mith killed in the war you know,” he said it as if that needed explanation. “Actually, some may say I’ve done more than my share of the killing as well…” Timothy started to walk slowly, one step at a time toward the Mith, paying the bartender no attention, his eyes now locked with Mith’s greens. “Oh, yeah, I did more than my own share of the killing, if you know what I mean.”

“Why don’t you drink your beer and get the hell out of here.” Timothy turned a bit to the right to see one of the troopers staring at him as he spat the words in his direction. A young fella, dark-skinned, cleanly shaved with a fire in his eyes and a pair of half-moon marks on his collar.

“A bit young for a captain, aren’t you?” Timothy asked him. “What happened, your daddy bought you a post, didn’t he?” Timothy pressed on as he quickly cast a look at the Captain’s companions. Not much to see there. None of them seemed to be combat-vetted soldiers. Mostly kids, all relaxed, their dark blue uniforms all loosened up and unbuttoned, with no body armor and only handguns tied to their sides. “In my days, you earned those moons with your blood.”

“My father did not buy me those,” the young man said, not twitching his eyes, not even a bit. “It was my mother actually.”

“Well, then I should on account of all of us citizens here, thank her. Because I feel so safe, with all of you guarding us.” He chuckled and leaned against the Captain, but then added in a sour note, “Son, you were not even sucking on your mother’s tit while I was leading a charge against those murdering shitheads, gutting them down and pulling their oysters out by dozens.”

“I’m not your-” the Captain was ready to get up, but the Mith was up already and put his large hand on his shoulder, lowering him down. Timothy was a large fella, but when the Mith moved to stand in front of him, he towered two heads above him.

“The only Mith a little prick like you could gut down,” the Mith started to talk slow in a deep, guttural voice, “…would be a child. Well, maybe not even a child. More like a baby. Is that what you are telling us? That you are a baby killer? How brave of you. Certainly worth boasting around.”

Someone chuckled behind Timothy. A subdued but clearly giggling female laugh. Timothy could not help but turn around to look at the hooded person, a long stray of dark red hair coming out over her neck.

“And what do we have here?” he asked himself out loud as he turned around completely, turning his back to the Mith as if he was instantly forgotten and did not exist at all. The woman moved her hood off a bit revealing a smiling young face, pretty enough to make Timothy flinch. “Someone pinch me and say I’m not dreaming. ”

The tension in the room seemed to ease, became as easy as a smile the red-haired woman was giving Timothy. “Forget about everything. Now that’s the face that could make a man forget about everything. I have not seen anything so beautiful… I’ve got to say, at least for a whole day now. Either you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen or… this beer is way too intoxicating.”

Her eyebrows rose, her smile quickly turning sour. “A beer?” she asked, not believing what she heard.

“You’re wasting your time, mister” dropped one of the troopers behind him. “I’ve already offered a whole hundred c, but the bitch is not biting.”

“Well, sorry to tell you, pal, but if you think she would serve for biting, those hundred would only go to waste,” Timothy answered, and a few of his friends chuckled.

Timothy shook his head in disbelief. “Biting he said. But then, he’s still so young, a lot to learn. Have to forgive him.”

“I already have,” she said, her eyes suddenly turning ice-cold. “It’s likes of you who I have a problem with.”

“I don’t blame you,” he said after remembering to take a long gulp of beer as if he needed it to give him the strength to move closer to her. “I’ve got a problem with myself as well. You see, I see a beautiful woman like you, and I know I stand no chance with her. Yet, I just can’t help myself.”

Timothy moved toward her, placing his hand on her knee, greening as wide as he could, revealing perfect teeth that should have never been that sparkling and white.

“Leave her be, mister!” the Captain behind warned him.

But it was not his warning that made him take his hand back. “You leave your hand there, I just might chop a bit of it off. I like chopping things,” she said and a second later she was not so pretty, not so young anymore. The blade that suddenly appeared in her hand pressed hard against Timothy’s wrist. It was a deadly blade, not a fancy-looking one, but sharper than a razor he shaved with a weak ago. He knew if she twitched, it would cut through his glove and the blood would rush out of his sliced wrist.

He shrugged his shoulders and decided to slowly move his hand, noticing a slight cut that wetted his skin with a few drops of blood. He sighed in defeat and decided to empty the beer before turning around and taking a few steps back to the Mith boot.

The Mith greeted him with a patronizing grin. “Did she cut you a bit, loverboy?” the Mit asked, grinning. “You should know… Nobody likes baby-killers.”

“Well, the problem is really not who I am,” Timothy said in a slow voice as he got into his face. “I say a problem is…” Everyone stood motionless to hear what the problem was, but Timothy just waved his head around as if he needed time to think of something meaningful to say. “You’re one ugly motherfucker,” he finally uttered as he slammed the empty mug on his table.

The silence lasted a moment but then the voices from the troopers’ boot interrupted it. “Captain, we need to go. This is not our trouble. They will not wait for us.”

“Yes, Captain, you need to go,” Timothy said and burped into the direction of Mith’s face.

“We’ll leave right after we deal with this,” the Captain said as he started to get up from behind Timothy. “Call the rest of them to come out right now. What is taking them so long anyway?”

“You don’t have a jurisdiction to deal with anything here, Captain. So, just mind your own business,” Timothy said as his eyes were locked with the Mith’s.

The Mith just laughed, deeply with all the evil intention you could put into a single burst of laughter.

“I don’t need a two dozen troopers to help me with the scum like you.”

“Two dozen you say? Ha? How many troopers would you need?”

“You’re such a pretty boy,” the Mith said through his teeth. “Won’t be so pretty after I slap you a few times. By the way,” his finger went up and poked Timothy in the chest “I had a family on Limux.”

The bartender tried to step in, raising his hands up, as if making himself tall would make any difference. “Nobody is slapping nobody here,” he announced, but nobody was so sure of that.

“You smell so bad, you better not open your mouth again,” Timothy said to the Mith. “Your breath is more toxic than Salmar’s atmosphere.”

“Come on, Captain, this is not our fight,” one of the troopers said, but the Captain would not be denied.

“You have no right to talk to the Mith like that,” he said as he moved to flank Timothy on the other side. "You, mister, are a disgrace to our race!"

Timothy nodded his head. "My family would agree."

“He’s a free man now. Just like you and I. They paid their dues. So, just, leave him be.”

“Relax, Captain, I’m not looking for trouble,” Timothy said suddenly and took a sip off the beer mug as he stepped away.

“You have a funny way of not looking for trouble, Mister,” the Captain answered.

“But I never smelled a turd that smells this bad.”

The Mith seemed to be ready to hit Timothy, but then he moved slowly forward, one small step at a time until he brushed him aside. He continued to move down the bar to the place where Timothy’s second mug stood inviting, still full and untouched. A second later, he turned around to look at Timothy as he took his mug and pressed it up against his lips. They all watched the few seconds that it took for all the golden liquid to disappear inside Mith’s mouth.

“It’s just what a Mith might do,” one of the troopers complained. “And they are citizens now? And you wanted to defend him, Captain?”

“Hush, Penez,” his Captain warned him.

But Penez would not be hushed. “I think Rampiun is right about them. I hope he gets elected. Back to the meat grinding, they’ll all go. And whose side are you going to be on then, Captain?”

“We’ll see what is what. He’s not a president yet.”

“Can’t wait till he is,” another trooper added.

“Easy, fellas,” their Captain warned them with a stern voice. “You’ve never been in a war, and if you have any brain, you should hope you never do. Just because you wear those uniforms, does not make you a soldier.”

“Oh, I see. We have a Mith lover here,” Timothy finally decided to join the discussion.

“Not a lover. Even though I met many Miths that I like better than some humans I met.”

“A Mith lover, like I said. I bet, Captain, you have a Mith wife somewhere waiting for you back home. What do you do? Did you tell your momma about her?"

“You know nothing about me. So just shut up."

“Captain,” one of the young troopers got up and pulled the Captain by his hand. “Erick and Lister are not answering. And neither are the others. They must be still… busy.”

“Busy my ass. It’s already been half an hour. You better go and check on them. We’re leaving in a minute with or without them.”

Timothy watched the soldier disappear to the floor downstairs and then turned to the Mith again. “So, you’re gonna vote for Rampiun then? Aren’t you? You stupid enough to do just that, aren’t you? I heard like ten percent of Myths actually support him. You must be one of them. Explain to me, how can anyone of your race support him? You know what he will do to the likes of you? How can you be so stupid?”

“Enough of insults from you!” the young Captain demanded. “Leave him alone.”

“Maybe Miths are as corruptible as us humans. I mean, the shit we did to them… they should hate us forever. The billions we killed. Damn, you people are really spineless.”

The Mith stared at Timothy but the most he got out of was a huge belch. “That was a good beer,” he said to Timothy. “Thank you. You fuckin’ baby killer, shit-sniffing fuckface!”

Timothy sighed and shook his head. He heard enough and put his helmet on. “I may be a shit-sniffer, but nobody calls me a fuckface.”

“We’re not going to have any of that here,” the bartender said, now with an angry voice, the strength he must have found in a short shotgun he firmly held in his hand, pointing it to Timothy’s chest.

“No, I actually want to see how this plays out,” said the redhead, and in a blink-of-an-eye, she hopped over the bar and in one sleek move wrestled the shotgun from the bartender’s hands, sending him to a floor.

“Pound him as hard as you want to,” she said looking at the Mith. “Teach him some manners, will you? And pound him till he starts apologizing, and then pound him some more.”

The big Mith seemed to have liked the idea because his scarred face turned into one big grin.

But Timothy did not.

And as the Mith started to slowly approach him, he unbuttoned two middle bottoms of his duster coat and threw its side back to leave his right hip uncovered. A revolver was harnessed there. It lay there still and deadly. But only for a split second. Because before anyone had a chance to protest, Timothy spin to his left, and in the same motion pulled his pistol out.

He fired three times, tilting it slightly each time, just enough to find faces of the troopers that still set there dumbfounded. And he did it so fast that it sounded like a continuous fire, too little time for anyone to even blink.

The bullets traveled fast and cut through the troopers' skins and splashed against their flash and bones, releasing an antagonizing nerve agent that made them scream in pain, paralyzing them first in the agony of it, then paralyzing them completely with its toxic substance.

They would not die, Timothy knew before they did, but would wake up a few hours later to a horrible, splitting headache and a few scars. With his own mark on his forehead, he knew they would remember him forever.

Timothy did not wait for anyone to catch a second breath but jumped a step toward the dumb-founded Captain and slammed him in the forehead with the side of his gun. The hit unsteadied the Captain’s feet, but Timothy did not let him go down.

He wrapped the Captain with a harness that he pulled out of his belt, then he instantly fired his armor back thrusters, and the next moment, two of them joined together and flew up from the floor, making it up the stairs toward the entrance door in a split second.

Timothy was just a bit taller than the Captain, but had no trouble moving him as if he was a baby strapped on his chest. It was all going so smooth he almost felt like he did not have to run. They were a step away from the entrance when the bullet bounced off Timothy’s backplate armor that covered his behind, making a smoking hole in his coat.

Timothy turned instantly around, but the Captain strapped to his chest slowed him down, and suddenly he was looking at the end of a rifle that could take apart his cheap helmet together with the brain that it was supposed to protect.

He tried to move his gun-holding hand, but the Captain suddenly remembered to fight him, and what should have been a snake-fast movement became slow-motioned, cementing his fate just as the sun outside showed its afternoon bliss.

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