1.03 - The Gang Has a Bar Fight

1.03 - The Gang Has a Bar Fight

Kai and I lounge around in a booth at Club Zero’s which is more of a bar than a club, but I don’t name these things; if I did I would have just named it Zero’s. Liberty and Strife has a player base that really gets into their characters, so all the music is from people out there somewhere in the game world. It’s a fun part of the world, countless songs, tv shows and movies made up of people living out their real-world dreams. Not all of it is bad either; some of these people have real talent.  

We’re already drawing a lot of attention with Kai’s female avatar, but Daamin finally showing up doesn’t do anything but add to the scene. Daamin switches avatars all the time, and he’s had some strange ones. I remember he played as a fat four-foot-tall man in three piece suit once. It’s obvious he’s made another switch today. An eight-foot tall man with an alligator head with two swords strapped to his back and a third on his waist. The ensemble is complete with a bright yellow jumpsuit that I recognize from Kill Bill and a black leather jacket that might be from The Terminator.  

“Guys,” Daamin slides his massive body into the booth. “I think I found the game I want to stick with. I love this place.”

“We’re not going to talk about Kai being a woman or you being an alligator with three swords,” I ask because it seems like those are logical starting points.

“Oh, Kai has been doing that for a while. Even got me one of these swords,” Daamin shrugs.

“Why did nobody tell me about this?”

“Because you’re afraid to let loose and get weird,” Kai answers. “It’s a video game, it’s not real life. You can be and do whatever you want, but you chose to be yourself and have a job.”

“Mercenary work isn’t a job,” I respond.

“It is when you do it as yourself,” Daamin looks away.

“Should I turn myself into an alligator man hybrid instead?”

“It’s actually a caiman like the character Caiman from Dorohedoro.”

“I don’t, I don’t know what that is.”

“It’s this great manga by Q Hayashida about,” Daamin starts before Kai stops him.

“I’m going to get drinks before he starts another nerd rant. I can’t listen this sober today. I got kidnapped by The Blue Ribbon Army and all he wants to talk about is nerd stuff,” Kai exits the booth and quickly heads to the bar.

I think I know why Daamin loves this place. He finally has a reason to tell everyone about all of the pop culture things he loves without being laughed at for it. Forget a codex or glossary, he’s the guy to see when you want info about an item. Sometimes I wonder if the creator just loves pop culture or people built monuments to their favorite things as the game grew.  

“Why were you guys fighting the Blue Ribbon Army,” Daamin asks as he realizes I wasn’t falling in love with manga.

“Kai got kidnapped, the leader wanted a girlfriend,” I shrug.

“I hate those guys. They’re based on Dragon Ball but missed the whole point.”

“I thought they were based on nazis.”

“They are. General Blue of The Red Ribbon Army was based on nazi soldiers, specifically the brown shirts. People thought he was a cool character, but kind of forgot he’s a nazi.”

“Get your hand off me,” I hear Kai shout in a voice that still sounds more sensual than angry.

Kai is surrounded by three guys who are looking for trouble. You can be whoever you want, and some folks still choose to be sex pests. Daamin urges me to step in and do something reckless to show that I can let loose like he and Kai can. The situation is getting more tense, and I need to do something. Usually I’m sure Kai can handle himself but right now, I’m not so sure.

“Throw a bar stool, you know you want to,” Daamin urges me.

Screw it, I pick up a bar stool and fling it full speed at one of the men harassing Kai. The man ducks and the bar stool flies into the bar tender’s face. For a moment he looks confused, but then he just drops behind the counter.

“Did you just hit the bar tender,” Daamin asks in confusion.

“It wasn’t on purpose,” is all I can say.

Daamin exits the booth and loudly speaks to everyone in the bar, “looks like we got ourselves and old-fashioned bar fight. No guns, no knives, no killing and no squealing.” Everyone agrees and takes their positions as if waiting on a cue. A woman breaks a beer bottle on a table and eyes a short man across the room.

“This is ridiculous,” is all I can get out before I get slapped in the ear by a bar patron.

I hate fist fights, it’s not like the movies. It’s never cool. Most people don’t know how to fight in real life, a fight is thirty seconds not the fifteen minutes of urban warfare that movies would like you to think. After getting punched in the stomach by a guy twice my size I grab a pool cue to even the odds. It shatters into splinters of wood as it makes contact with his face. He doesn’t even budge, maybe this is more like a movie than real life.  I let out an involuntary scream as he lifts me over his head and tosses me into a wall of different bottles behind the bar. Wearing wet socks is one of the worst feelings in the world, it doesn’t get better when your entire body is covered in wet clothing. I spot Kai behind the bar, rapidly changing outfits covered in a sparkling animation provided by the game.

“What are you doing,” I ask as I catch my breath.

“Trying to change to my normal avatar but the game is glitching.”

“Thought you liked being eye candy,” I joke as he switches avatars once again.

“So what, I like attention,” Kai swaps again. “Shouldn’t you be helping Daamin.”

“Yeah, but I like watching you panic, it’s why we’re friends.”

“Get lost Dre,” Kai shouts at me in what almost sounds like his normal voice.

“Good luck, I think I hear Daamin calling for help.”

I leap over the bar and grab another stool before heading straight towards Daamin’s massive body. He’s laughing as several people are latched on trying to bring down the giant alligator, or caiman man. I swing the stool towards one of them who drops out of the way. The stool smashes into a confused Daamin’s chest.

“C’mon man, we’re on the same team,” he chastises me.  

“I’m sorry, bar fights aren’t my thing,” I sucker punch one of his attackers.

“Great job,” he gives me a thumbs up before effortlessly flinging three bodies across the floor.

A small explosion silences the barroom as splinters of a pool table fly across the room. Everyone is frozen in time as a man in a tuxedo with a Yankees hat stands in the center holding a grenade in his hand.  

“That was against the rules,” someone yells out.

“No it wasn’t, he said no guns,” Tuxedo guy argues.

“Which one of you assholes hit me with a bar stool,” the bar tender waves a gun around.

Without hesitation I shout, “the guy in the Tuxedo.”

The bar tender pulls the trigger and a large ball of orange goo leaves the end of the gun before slamming into Tuxedo man. At first nothing happens, then he starts to shout before his avatar starts to melt into in a pile of goo. Nobody moves to loot his gear, afraid of the orange goo.

“At least he won’t be really upset when he respawns,” someone says.

“Hey, we need to go,” I hear Kai's normal voice a hand grabs my elbow.

Outside, Daamin and I are staring at the Kai we normally see, or close to normal. He had the silver hair braided into a long ponytail, the dream catcher tattoos on each hand. His arms were covered in the tattoo sleeves depicting totem poles, warriors and other Indigenous symbols. He was even wearing the black crop top and necklace made of turquoise stones he wore from time to time. The problem was that instead of the six-foot-tall muscular man I expect when I hear Kai’s voice, I was looking a scrawny man no taller than 5’9 wearing a dark blue skirt and black knee-high converse shoes.

“What happened,” I ask in confusion.

“I got hit switching between avatars, now I’m stuck,” Kai responded in panic.

“Oh shit, you’re a trap,” Daamin starts to laugh, “a whole femboy,” the lizard’s jaws opening and closing at a rapid pace.  

“We have to fix this,” Kai squats down hands on his head.

“Relax,” I pat his back, “we’ll get your avatar fixed.”

A horn sounds signaling a major announcement for the server. People will be heading to parks and plazas trying to hear the announcement. Probably some new event people will be interested in for a few days and then forget about.

“I guess we’ll get you taken care of after this,” Daamin leads the way out of the alley and towards the ominous horns. 


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