Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Adventures of Reynard Olfsson

“What'll it be champ?”

“Vodka. Make it special for me... champ. Oh God...”

Three years of this, wandering from place to place. Ever since Wens took off I had been alone. I told myself the breakup was going to be a piece of cake. What can two men fight about? Plenty of things apparently. Good riddance, I thought. I'm never going back down that road again.

How did I end up in a bar? How do we all end up in a bar? I'm a walking cliche. I just don't want to be here anymore, in this world.

Some have figured it out before. It takes a while. Eventually the talk comes up; “Hey Reynard, why are you not aging.” I chalk it up to their poor eyesight and the next day I'm gone. American, French, Norwegian, British, I've been them all. After a while you long for someone to accuse you of being a witch; get it over with. It's the digs that keep me going. I'm an archeologist by charity, the only one with the sense left to culturally reclaim the world that once was. Beyond that, what else is there to do?

I took the cold glass and thanked the stingy bartender. It was half full, but the vodka was premium, maybe prewar. I don't think Vodka can outlast the elements that long, but I wasn't going to complain. You can tell a Vodka is good when it goes down like water. This was good. I've had worse, some so bad it made me feel like I was drinking isopropyl. (That time I was drunk, though. Shame on me.)

“So when you came here eighty years ago I thought I recognized you,” the man said, swooping in from beside me. “You know, back when they had the fireplace?”

Oh yeah, I thought. That was a nice fireplace...

“Don't know what you're talking about,” I deflected. “I think you ought to tone it down on the drinks.” I didn't make eye contact. That's how you commit to the crazy.

“Well I imagined that you wanted someone to talk to,” he said sadly, getting up from the seat. “But I guess I'll just have to wait for another immortal to come skulking in here.”

Okay, maybe he isn't crazy.

Looking up from my pitiful drink I saw the eye of a man. He only had one eye. The other was fake or a cybernetic implant. I could tell by the glassy fog across the iris. By his build I gathered that he was a mercenary. Maybe a prewar supersoldier. They were in fashion like khaki shorts in the summer before everything went down. Why one was standing before me now seemed a one-in-a-million. They should all be dead.

“You should all be dead,” I said. Then I kicked myself.

“Dead? Maybe.” He slowly came back to take his seat. Raising his hand he grabbed the barkeep's attention. “Something sparkling an alcoholic. Atta-boy champ!”

“When the creatures released their EMP there was nothing left for us to do,” I said mournfully, “I was released from my pod. The others weren't very lucky. They had never entered into the maturation phase.”

“It's a shitty way to go,” the soldier agreed, nodding kindly when the barkeep slid the beer down towards him at the end of a stunted pool cue.

“And why should I suppose you are here? You're not a collector are you?”

“No, god no. I've run into quite a few myself. Most of them I can intimidate, scare them off. The others... well. I took care of them.”

I had never killed a man before to protect my secret. Then again, a man has never come to me asking what pod I came out of. That's the first question they always ask. It's a litmus test. If you answer them they bag and tag you faster than you can blink. After that you are either dissected, or sealed away in a viewing chamber like a pet. I don't like collectors, and I generally avoid them when I can. They are always so obvious. Nobody comes into dive bars with a posse anymore.

“Well, I need to get going,” I lied after a few moments of silence. “I was kind of on a schedule.”

“Mmm, well I won't stop you,” he said reluctantly, “Even though I might have a job for you.”

“A job?” My ears perked up. A good job can pass time, and I was always willing to pass more of it. It's something that immortals jones for. “What kind of job are we talking about?”

“A dig,” replied the soldier, “for some old world tech. I'm looking for mining equipment, and maybe some military grade constructs.”

“That's a tall order.” It was. “What makes you think that I have what it takes though?”

The man smiled, downing the whole drought of beer.

“I've heard stories about the great Reynard Olfsson, the man of many hats. I'll need someone like that on my team. We are going south, to Danmark.”

“I'll need my things, I suppose.” I had most of them outside in my pack. The soldier looked generous though, possibly desperate for my help. So I forced a helpless smile. It couldn't hurt.

“Tool are included,” he said without a second thought.

Jackpot.

“So where do we go from here?” I asked. “I'll want to read some data sheets on the project.”

“You will,” he confirmed, pulling from his hand a prewar construct engine. “Let that be incentive for now. Until then, welcome aboard.”


“Welcome aboard.”   

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