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Someone Old, Someone New
Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana.
It was a funny saying, Thomas thought as he we peered into a hive of time flies that ticked and tocked from the hollow of a tall tree that towered out from the centre of the Blue Dwarf arboretum. Why do time flies like arrows?
Thomas decided to leave that thought again and pushed himself up right, stretching his back and basked in the artificial glow of the FakeSol branded lights that hung over head. Around him, little batches of flowers and plants had claimed the metal walkways that meandered around the gardens. Burst of purple, red, blue, and orange were spotted across fields of green leaves and yellowed grass that rustled as little creatures scurried through the undergrowth.
Once upon a time this had been more of a factory than a garden. Thomas's official title on board the ship was 'Oxygen Engineer', responsible not just for maintaining the gardens in their 'operating condition' but also to ensure the CO2 scrubbers and ventilation were all functioning correctly. Although, now that Thomas was alone, for all intents and purposes, he preferred to be called what he was: a gardener.
It was impossible to know how much time had passed since he first stepped out of the stasis booth, but Thomas didn't think it was long. Thomas had set up his camp next to the time flies, the strange little creatures that were drawn to the tree in the centre of the gardens. They were almost like butterflies, delicate and fragile, but they had many more wings and glowed ever so gently blue. Time flies were attracted to temporal rifts, little gaps in the fabric of reality that warped the world around them. Some would say it was a gateway to other realities, others said it was a fountain of youth and that time stood still all around it. All Thomas knew was that time no longer held meaning for him while he was alone.
The two adjacent stasis booths, which should have been occupied by Richard and Harold, were both empty. Either the accident, whatever that might have been, claimed their lives or they were somewhere in the bowels of the Blue Dwarf. Which left Thomas alone, save for the time flies and other animals. The tall lizard like creatures often came close to his camp, which Thomas had taken to calling Shrieks based on the sounds they made. But other than that, he was left mostly alone.
Thomas began to walk back to the centre of his camp, although to continue calling it a camp might be misleading. It had grown into a small croft, with soil cultivated and growing vegetables and a well bodged into the Dwarf's water main to provide something to drink. At the heart was his home, a tool shed that had expanded into a fair sized home, with different rooms built out of wood and spare bulkheads. A chimney even rose from the building, a gentle smoke being carried up into the ventilation shafts.
But today might be the last day Thomas would ever see his home. Sitting at the door of his house was a large backpack that held anything and everything that he thought would be necessary for journeying into the unknown depths of the Blue Dwarf. The gnomes, squat and robust robots, would take care of the gardens in his absence, permanently if it would come to that.
Thomas hitched the pack onto his shoulders and set out in a direction he knew would take him to the edge of the Oxygen Factory, a long rifle gripped in his hands just in case anyone or anything who might wish him harm came across his path. Upon his head was one of the few things he still owned from before stasis: the standard issue brown hat of the Oxygen Engineers.
Unknown to Thomas, the Blue Dwarf had, through its misadventures though space, suffered more than just external damage. Internally the ship was... warped. Dimensional anomalies caused by time paradoxes, universal distortions and other complicated accidents, had stretched the interiors of parts of the ship to many times their size. And so, a journey that might have taken a few hours stretched into days, as hill after hill after hill rolled over under Thomas's feet.
But eventually he reached the edge, a tiny little shed sitting atop a hill that overlooked the exits of the gardens. Thomas found it a strangely familiar place, with three empty chairs left vacant and the shed raided by Shrieks or some other creature. He lingered there for a while, surveying the view from the vantage point, but ultimately found himself tearing away from the little place and to the doors of the exit.
The calamity that greeted Thomas had, at first, sent his heart racing in shock and he had frozen in his steps. The Promenade, once a bustling hive of activity, was under siege. By gnomes. From a garden centre. Along with giant plants and murderous tomatoes. It was... odd, but it felt familiar.
And there were people. Lots of people, being people.
He had arrived in the red light district, still a seedy and darkened strip of the promenade that seemed to have so far survived the bombardment. In fact, people seemed relatively calm as they continued to to file around the red, blue, and purple lit alleyways of the district. Even some of the gnomes, who had previously been assailing the crew members of the Blue Dwarf, had dropped their weapons and began to gaze at the various people displayed in the windows.
A great man whoops and cheers were coming from one specific doorway though. Lined with pulsating red lights was a single and, compartively, innocent looking door that would never be noticed had it not been for the slightly out of place lamp above it. This was The Gaslamp Cabaret. If Thomas was going to find anyone, it was going to be in there.
Descending the narrow twisting metal staircase, the smell of freshly smoked marijuana and sex rose to greet him. Two large bouncers, bald and heavy, blocked the entrance into the club proper.
"Gun," grunted one of them.
"Bag," grunted the other.
Thomas hesitated, the rifle still firmly clutched in his hands. But eventually he pulled back the bolt and dropped the magazine into his hand, handing over the empty rifle and his backpack to the bouncers before stepping into the club proper.
On stage was a man being held aloft by chains to his wrists and ankles, a whip wielding woman presumably ready to send the tails flying. Not Thomas's cup of tea. Rather, he made for the bar, which was empty and quiet as all eyes were turned on the main stage.
"Whisky," asked Thomas of the barkeep, as he took a seat facing away from the performance that had everyone captivated, "And the good stuff, thanks."
Withing seconds, a glass of amber coloured liquid appeared before him and paid for using Thomas's JMCredit Card. As he raised it to his lips, a loud group of young men and women piled into the club, breaking some people's attention away from the stage. And they headed to the bar, already laughing and talking together as the pointed to Thomas sitting alone.
"Oi oi, old boy," said one, presumably the leader, taking a seat next to Thomas, "You're a bit old for being in here, yeah?"
"If you say so," Thomas said calmly as he took a gulp of his drink. The person was young, in his twenties, and carried with him an air of cocky self-confidence that suggested few people had recently tried to stop him from doing what he liked.
"How about you, buy us all a drink, ae?"
"I don't think so."
The man next to Thomas reached into Thomas's coat pocket, Thomas remaining absolutely still. In his hand was Thomas's JMCredit Card. "I think you will be, mate." Suddenly, Thomas found himself surrounded, tall and shaved men and women standing all around him, boxed in. "Or we will be having 'words'."
Thomas glanced at the bartender, who was visibly shaken. Thomas took one final gulp of his drink and placed it on the table slowly. And he readied himself. The music had changed and the lights and dimmed to purple.
"That's it ol' boy, no need to make things complicated. Now, why don't you just fuck o-"
The sentence would never be finished as Thomas placed his hand on the back of the man's head and sent his face crashing towards the bar top, bone and teeth crunching and blood spurting. Thomas snatched on the glass and smashed it against another's face, breaking free of the circle while everyone was stunned.
We had a cabaret room brawl on our hands!
<OOC - Excessive violence counts as getting bad karma, right?>