Debt Collectors


Sparsely populated, dingily decorated, the room is dim save for a few beams of sunlight fighting their way through slim cracks in the window shades.  The wooden floor is dusty with tumbling balls of dust mingled stray hair gathered from weeks of neglect.  Empty pitchers and sticky bottom steins, left from the previous night’s frolicking wait patiently to be washed and put away.  Amongst the filthy unkemptness, a few tables of fellows share pitchers of ale while whispering among themselves, careful not to raise too much of a ruckus.  The bar keep stands vigil at his taps watching his customers, careful not to let his eyes linger for too long on the solitary figure in the far corner.  Beyond the reach of the interloping light, sulking in the dank shadows is a hairy mountain of man; His long white locks conceal a countenance of general distain.  His beard, grimy with foam and crumbs drapes the table before him; eschewing a stein he drinks directly from the pitcher, his massive mitts engulfing the vessel like a dense fog around a tower.  Each gulp devours a quarter of the pitcher, four more stand at the ready, and the barkeep stands prepared to bring more. 
            The mood in the room is a hair under tense, no one quite certain if the large  man, commonly referred to, out of earshot, as the Abomination, his friends know him as Nuex Umbrai, his debtors know him as a deadbeat.  Most proprietors would refuse to serve him if he didn’t show cash on order; that is if they didn’t fear he would race into a rage and start tearing their place apart.  As he usually doesn’t drink alone, those concerns can be quelled by feathering his companion’s tabs.  Alas, today… he drinks alone.  It’s mid-morning, and most of his usual compatriots are nowhere to be seen; they’re still sleeping off last nights fun.  But Nuex wasn’t around last night, he lumbered in an hour past dawn, dropped a small bag of gold on the bar, and then proceeded to order a breakfast fit for a dozen men.  It didn’t take him long to devour every bite; then he started drinking.  The bar keep had been careful to pour the gold coins into his test solution; any foreign minerals would dissolve leaving only the precious gold behind. Having just been paid by his ships captain, a Cipa’ci named Moonsmasher, Nuex had pure currency.  There is enough to cover meal, drink and board.  And he WILL, get his money’s worth.

At a pace of three pitchers an hour, he’s been seated for two, with no signs of slowing down.  The other patrons, who arrived after he did, marvel as he downs more ale than they could as a group in a full day.  But none dare let their eyes linger upon him for more than a passing glance so not to raise his ire.  It’s not that Nuex is a temperamental sort, its just that he enjoys a good brawl so much that he will dive head first into a fray with hardly a moment of thought; “is this a private fight, or can anyone get involved.”  Many a scuffle can be instantly settled when the silhouette of a fellow, two men wide and one and a half feet taller than average darkens their dispute; they often beg him NOT to get involved. 
            As the morning draws on, the advance Nuex paid for drinks, has nearly extinguished, but the barkeep is loathe to notify him his tab is up.  Over the years, many a fool has fallen into the trap of extending Nuex credit, under the ridiculous notion he would make good on the debt.  One of the advantages of being one of the largest, strongest men in the stars is that debt collectors will usually give him a pass; but then, there’s these two.  The unfortunate cousins of an unsavory loan shark named Skahn Lyven, Jhere and Miade have been sent on a fool’s errand to collect on a delinquency; though he neglected to include a few details.  “His name is Umbrai, he’s kinda big so take these ARCs, I already have a few guys sitt’n on him, but if they don’t get involved, the fee is yours to split. 

Bursting into the hall, holding the door wide open, unleashing a torrent of sunlight; filling corners previously concealed while temporarily blinding the patrons.  They’d gotten word that Nuex had landed overnight and it was easy to track him from the space port to the nearest mead hall.  Hoping to avoid a crowded room full of possible comrades, they came before midday to collect on their cousin’s bounty; Skahn had previously paid Nuex to collect a debt from another spacer.  But Nuex being who he is, took the advanced payment, collected the debt and proceeded to spend both on himself in a night of drunken debauchery.  Now Skahn sends his excitable young kinsmen to collect from the abominable half breed.  Armed each with an ARC pistol and a gladiate, the men move directly to his table.  Miade whispers, “That’s more than KINDA big, this gahjo is HUGE!” Jhere replies, “We should have Calablogs for this kinda thing.”  

Noticing their approach, Nuex’s grey eyes peer from behind his nappy mane, his slumping posture slowly rising, his shoulders expanding to full mast, his fingers tightening about the pitcher in his hand.  Jhere on his right arrives at the table, puffs out his chest and raises his voice, “Skahn is very disappointed in you.”  Miade jumps in on the next beat, “he wants his money, ALL OF IT!”  Jhere continues, “We know Moonsmasher just paid you, so hand it over” A slow rolling chuckle begins to grow from behind a wooly white beard, Nuex raises the pitcher to his lips and finishes it off.  Wiping away the foam with his left arm, when his view was clear again Jhere has a pistol pointed at his head.  “You came for me with an ARC,” he asks laughing in a thunderous tone. “I hope you have something stronger than THAT.”  Miade pulls his blade, but before it escapes his holster Nuex slaps the pistol across the room with his left hand and smashes the empty pitcher across the Jhere’s head with his right.  His face bursting into a bloody mess, Jhere follows the momentum of the blow to the floor.  In a flash Nuex has tossed the table, punches Miade in the middle of his chest, leaving him gasping for air as he falls to his knees. 
            Stunned but not out, Jhere is quickly scrambling for Miade to retrieve his pistol.  Still heaving and desperate for air he ignores the loss of his firearm.  Seeing this, Nuex sweeps across the pile of men grabbing the bloody man by his gun wielding hand and drags him away from Miade.  Unfortunately, he now has this gun pointing at his crotch; to avoid unpleasantness he offers a deal.   “Drop the gun or I dislocate your shoulder.” Holding Jhere’s arm by the forearm and just below the elbow, Nuex places his left foot on the shoulder of the arm he’s holding.  The poor fool came into the hall hoping for a quick score on a collection, now he’s staring up at a man all to eager to yank his arm out of joint.

Meanwhile his equally ill prepared cousin is making an equally bad decision; Miade has made his way across the room to the other pistol and is walking back into the fray, still sucking wind, which affects his aim.  Squeezing off a trio of shots, only one of which barely grazes Nuex’s leg, he only managed to get half-breed’s attention, and increase his anger.  Nuex pours a deep menacing stare at the breathless shooter, then gazes down at the man under him, giving him a wry smile, just before adjusting to a better grip of his arm, pressing with his foot and yanking it completely off.  The sound of snapping bone and sinew accompanied by the tearing of flesh and muscle is muffled by the howling screams of pain and the man breaks into a rolling convulsion on the filthy floor.  Shocked by the site of the splattering blood Miade pauses and foolishly lowers the gun, giving Nuex the split second he needs to bound toward him and slap him to the ground with his new bloody cudgel. 
            Up until now the other patrons were content to enjoy the show, after all, what spacer doesn’t enjoy watching a good brawl.  But with a ransom on his head and a couple guns on the floor, one table of lubricated fellows decides to get in on the fun.  Seeing the third man rush in, Skahn’s other men decide to get involved too, a decision almost as bad as shooting Nuex in the leg; the next few minuets are a blur of snapping bones, flying bodies and breaking furniture.  As the dust settles Nuex is the lone man standing, save for the barkeep, who has hardly left his place at the taps.  He nods to Nuex who promptly responds, put the mess on their tabs, as he heads upstairs to his room for a nap, his laugh thundering all the way, “Good breakfast, good workout, I’ll sleep for a day.”



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