Space Bar
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Dr. Harper leaned back into the cold leather of his spaceship's chair. He looked through the meter-thick visor out at the emptiness beyond, occasionally broken by a pinprick of light representing a star. The world here was empty, vast, and lifeless.

It was only through his sheer optimism that Dr. Harper kept searching. Searching for a new world; searching for salvation. He lit his last cigar in his mouth as he pondered when, or if, he would find life after all. There had been planets, several of them. It was just that all of them were barren, and any life that he did find was long gone.

He had stopped at a planet some time ago that seemed to have some form of proto-civilization. However, the greatest evidence of this were a few mud huts and long-untilled fields of dead crops. Judging from the planet's orbit, it had drifted too close to the sun and incinerated what life was there.

There had even been drifting satellites, some advanced, some not. He'd only been able to decode one, but he never found the information within to be useful. Although it represented some other form of life, somewhere in the universe, all the satellites really represented was that it was once there, and they never led to any discovery of a livable planet.

Dr. Harper turned the totem over in his hand. It was the most advanced artifact he'd recovered from that planet, and he kept it around as a sort of "good-luck charm." It was only some strange form of optimism that kept Dr. Harper searching, even when he'd found almost everything to search. Staring into the abyss, Dr. Harper debated turning his ship around, and going home without anything to show for it.

…then he saw it. It had at first seemed like another red dot against the black canvas of infinity, a red dwarf perhaps. But it had grown bigger, and appeared to be on… top of some structure? Dr. Harper rushed over to the control panel that controlled the scanner.

After a minute, a three-dimensional model appeared on the monitor. Yes, it was a building. One-story, with indecipherable text on the front.

Dr. Harper threw himself in the driver's seat and set course for whatever the space building was.

Terrence sipped the beer as he laughed along with the bartender. It was his day off, and he was out to enjoy it.

"So then Scott says, 'So, what, we just drive real slow between universes with the door open and see if we stumble across something that it likes and jumps out?' Then Georgia— you know Georgia, right?— goes and says—"

Terrence was interrupted by the overwhelming sound of a rocket engine outside. Flare— the bartender— shook his head.

"Oh, boy, I wonder if someone's here?" he yelled out loud in a sarcastic tone. Then he added, "fuckin' jerk."

Once the obnoxious engine had quieted down, the door was flung open by a humanoid in an odd, bulky suit. It was relatively normal, if not thick, up until the headpiece, which was a sphere that encapsulated the creature's entire head, with an opaque visor to see through.

The creature spent some time looking around, as if it was bewildered. Afterwards, it hobbled towards Terrence and the bartender, apparently hampered by its suit. After a loud silence between the bartender and the creature, the bartender decided to speak.

"Alright, buddy, you gonna' buy a drink, or am I gonna' have to throw ya' to the curb?"

"Wait, you can speak English?" replied the creature, through a speaker somewhere on its suit. It spoke in a male, muffled voice. "Can you understand me?"

The bartender held up his wrist, showing the creature a wristwatch-like gold medallion. "Universal translata'," he replied, "what, you new 'round here?"

The creature appeared to try to compose itself. "My name is Dr. Harper. I come from another part of the universe, in a vessel of my own design."

"Some fuckin' design," muttered Terrence under his breath.

Dr. Harper ignored him. "Our planet, which we call Earth, is in danger of destruction. Our sun is expanding to a point where it will evaporate our oceans and possibly end all life. I have been in pursuit of a planet that can sustain life, so our people can find a new home once this occurs. Unfortunately, I have only been able to find this building."

Earth? The name rang a bell in Terrence's head.

"I would like to inquire you for advice. Are there any planets that you know of that can sustain life? Otherwise, is there a way to—"

"The only advice you're gettin' here is whisky and the bad end of a gun," interrupted the bartender, obviously miffed by Dr. Harper's presence. "Now, are you gonna' buy a drink, or are you gonna' get the hell outta' my establishment?"

The memory hit Terrence out of the blue. He remembered Shock bitching about how she was trapped on Earth, and what they did to her, and why she had to cut off her hand.

"Wait, Earth?" Terrence inquired, "Isn't that the place with the giant fire monster?"

Dr. Harper turned towards Terrence. "I do not believe there is a giant fire monster—"

"Really?" Terrence interrupted, "One of my friends went to Earth, ran some checks on the core… yep, giant fire monster, right at the center of Earth." Terrence paused, trying to look afraid. "I forget what she said… ten years before it emerged? Eight? Fuck if I remember…"

Of course, Terrence was just pulling Dr. Harper's leg. He was just trying to get him paranoid, maybe to get him to go home, or at least to just get out of his hair so he could finish his god damned drink. Maybe he'd scream about a fire monster to his pals? That'd be hilarious.

Dr. Harper stood there for a second, possibly thinking it over. Then, Dr. Harper leaned in and whispered in a menacing voice:

"Do you think I'm an idiot, Terrence?"

Terrence stood up, extending all four of his arms to look threatening. "How do you know my name?" he yelled.

"Terrence E. Trackstein, wanted for several counts of possession of illegal contraband, smuggling, and mass manslaughter," repeated Dr. Harper, as if he was reading it from a book, "crucial member of smuggling group Mariachi's Merchants. Believed to be an alias used to cover previous transgressions under a previous name, possibly illegal slave ring operator Matthew Track—"

Terrence pushed Dr. Harper a bit at hearing his past name. "Where the fuck are you getting this?" yelled Terrence. Some of the others within the bar began to leave at the sight of the impending bar fight.

"When you're drifting in space for a while, you run into a lot of scraps," said Dr. Harper, sounding much less innocent than before. "I found an old satellite belonging to the Yellow Court. I found not just your record, but a blueprint for a beacon to call over the Foundation Alliance to any anomalies they may be looking for. Unfortunately, the MFA is careful enough to only let civilians call over their forces if the beacon's within suitable range of an anomaly." Dr. Harper paused before the next sentence. "Guess what I've been within a fifteen-meter range of for the past two minutes."

Dr. Harper turned his head to the side at the sound of a cock of a shotgun, and saw the bartender loading a shotgun. Harper extended his wrist and fired some kind of electrical weapon at the bartender, which appeared to stun him. Terrence took his chance and tackled Dr. Harper to the ground, pinning him down with two of his arms and reaching for his blaster with his third.

"You think you're—" Terrence started, before switching to a more pressing thought. "Where the fuck is the beacon?"

Dr. Harper didn't talk. Terrence finally unlocked his blaster holster, and brought the shiny black-and-green pistol up to Dr. Harper's head.

"You can make this easy, or you can make this hard," Terrence threatened, "give me the beacon, or I'll have to root through your fucking dead body to—"

Terrence felt a cold metal wire cut into his throat. He reached back to resist, but he was kicked in the back, knocking the breath out of him. As Terrence felt his life extract from his body, the last thing he saw was a feathered wing close his dying eyes.

Dr. Harper got up. His four-armed assailant had been killed in his tracks by a strange bird— a seagull, wearing some sort of metal harness. The building had long since been evacuated, after Harper had shot the bartender. He had hoped that the threat of law enforcement would've made the fugitive run, at least until the institution he'd summoned with the beacon arrived, and Dr. Harper made his diplomatic negotiations. That plan had failed.

"Are you Kevin Harper, PhD?" said the seagull. The voice came from the vest that it was wearing, as if it was transcribing its thoughts. Dr. Harper cringed a little upon hearing his name.

"Yes, that's me," Dr. Harper replied.

"My name is Agent Quibbs," replied the seagull, barely missing a beat, "I'm an agent for the Foundation in Universe #04a. We intercepted your beacon, before the Multiversal Foundation Alliance could find you."

"Wait, why are you here?"

"Simply, we are in need of scientific manpower. The details are classified, but, in essence, we are hunting demon birds." Dr. Harper had a shotgun thrust into his hands. "So, are you in?"

Dr. Harper paused for a moment, to comprehend the ridiculousness of the scenario, before delivering his ultimatum.


Quibbs cocked his head for a moment, as if he was confused.

"I'm not here to fight anything. Hell, I'm barely here to do anything at all," Harper continued. "Although, could you happen to point me in the direction of a planet with sentient life?"

After hearing this, Quibbs stood still for a while, thinking. "I remember passing by a Earth-like planet on the way here. Nice and big, lots of water, good people. It's a few parsecs back in that general direction or so—" Quibbs gestured with his wing. "—you can't miss it."

"Thank you for your help," replied Harper, "and I'm sorry I can't go on your bird-hunting crusade."

"Yeah, yeah, it's nothing," replied Quibbs, "only reason I didn't go there myself is because there were far too many bugs for my taste."

After Dr. Harper left the establishment to find this bug-planet, and

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