One for the Skies

Cold wind fluttered in as the door was swung open by a newcomer to the ramshackle bar. With a shiver, Galvin pulled his short cowl tighter around his shoulders where he stood behind the counter. The door closed again, and the noise of the small building was trapped inside once more. People chatted feverishly as they huddled tightly together, drinks shared and spilled on the dusty wooden boards, and several of the patrons gathered around the small fire pits that dotted the room.

With a heavy sigh, Galvin poured out a long shot of dark liquor. It was a questionable colour, but he assured those who bought it that it was just a dark whiskey. They weren’t convinced, but being the only inn for miles on this desolate mountainscape, they didn’t argue.

Strutting across the room, the newcomer came straight for the bar and sat heavily on one of the few stools.

“Pour,” she said with heavy tone, pulling back the tattered hood that hid her short cropped brown hair and tipped up the helmet that Galvin could instantly recognise as a pilot’s. Off-worlder. Trouble.

With a snort, Galvin pushed across the drink he had just poured and dragged out another glass for himself.

“Traveller coming to these parts, eh? Could have chosen a better system, darl’.” Galvin prodded, but the pilot didn’t bite. Instead she knocked back her drink in one and began to look around the room with a wary eye.

“Get many off-worlders around here?” She asked.

“As much as any other place,” Galvin said, “A few sorts that blow through the door, or locals mad enough to make the hike up here. Titus isn’t known for its fun climates.”

The pilot grunted, her eyes still scanning the room. Some of the patrons had noticed her entrance, and moved further away towards a distant fire pit. Most hadn’t taken any notice. Just another visitor looking for shelter from the bitter snows.

Something about this traveller was off, though, Galvin knew that much. He had a good intuition when it came to people as being a barkeep he had to. How to judge who had drunk their fill, and those who had not drank enough. This pilot, however, didn’t even seem affected at the slightest by the liquor. Even Galvin winced each time he took a sip, and he made the stuff.

“Fill me another,” the pilot said, and Galvin obliged, pouring a long shot into the glass.

The pilot continued scanning the room, her gaze eventually pausing on a small group of men huddled tightly together and muttering quietly. Galvin had seen them the past few nights, a quiet sort who kept to themselves.

“Captain Helms,” the pilot called just loud enough that one man looked up. His eyes immediately widened and he tensed to run.

Without hesitation, the pilot whipped aside her cloak and flashed out a long handgun. Three shots thundered and the three men crumpled to the ground. The crowd froze, but no cries came out. The pause was momentary, but the murmurs soon started again, no more agitated than before.

Replacing the gun in the holster on her hip, the pilot stood and snatched up the new glass. She tipped back her head and swallowed the last shot whole, slamming the glass back onto the bench. Rummaging in a pouch, she tossed two black, fractured chips onto the bar.

“For the trouble,” she said as she toyed with a third chip in her hand. “I’ll keep this one, though, for your harbouring of Fractured.”

Pushing in the stool with her heel the pilot turned back for the door, pulling the helmet over her hair and stepping outside into the chilling winds. Uneasy eyes followed her, but no one dared get in the way.

Galvin cursed under his breath. He should have suspected a Seeker, they always wormed their way in somewhere. Cold-hearted bastards, no wonder she felt nothing from the drink.

With a groan, Galvin walked to the bodies now sprawled beside the fire pit, and couldn’t help but worry. Deaths weren’t good for business.

The Ended Saga is a collection of excerpts following the mysterious conflict in a universe beyond our own. No truth is clear, but it is out there. Continue the search…

Photo by Trinity Treft on Unsplash

Barcode generated with TEC-IT Barcode Software

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