I pulled into a parking space in front of the Quick and Happy. I really needed to beef up my supplies. The dive tonight was more of an exploratory expedition, and I didn't need much, but better safe than sorry. Looking around I notice the rest of the lot was empty, and it kind of worried me. Normally the convenience store was busy twenty four and seven. It was odd.
The walk to the entrance was short, and inside I see there's a new clerk. I walk up and notice the clerk is reading a magazine, ork porn. Blech. I clear my throat, and the clerk looks up. I notice it's a he, and he's an elf. Pale, pointy ears, and wooooooooooah... glowing eyes. This one's probably a user of Wyzard, and that's never a good thing.
Wyzard, or Wyzz as it's called on the streets, is in simple terms, a "magical drug". Not really illegal, but it is on the banned substance list, and can get you in plenty of trouble. Wyzz can enhance your magic, but has serious side effects, and is very addicting. Made by anarchemists, the stuff can be snorted, smoked, drunk, and in some forms absorbed through the skin. Personally, I have never used it, and I never intend to use it. I have seen plenty of promising wizards ruin their lives by using it. It's bad juju.
According to the name tag, the elf's name is Edward. Ed the elf, looks at me with his glowing eyes, and finally grunts at me. "What you want?"
"I need... say do I know you?" The elf looked familiar.
He shrugged, and went back to looking at his porn. "Piss off human..."
I turned and not really watching where I was going, because I was looking at Ed, trying to figure out why he looked so familiar, I bumped into a very large humanoid. Very, very large. Thankfully, he didn't seem to notice. Well, I think it's a he because sometimes with humanoids it's hard to tell.
I stammered out a "I'm sorry..." anyway, and he looked at me. He had been staring at the hot dog grill, and there was a bit of drool hanging from his lip. He must be hungry. I notice he's wearing a Dallas Minotaurs jersey. I wonder if he's a player or a fan?
"Sorry?" He looked confused. Which was good for me, because I know I didn't want him angry with me. So I shrug, and hold out my hand. "My name is Luke, how are you doing?" I notice he has a ID band on his right wrist, which means he's integrated, and no bounty can be collected on him. Unless he goes rogue, then he's fair game again.
He shows me the band, "Torque, name is Torque..." Then he turns back to the grill, and starts drooling again.
Torque? Sheesh, some government creep probably gave him the name.
I step back, and get a better look at Torque. His clothes are kind of scruffy. It was obvious he was part ogre. Probably half or maybe three-quarters ogre because this fellow is huge. His monthly allotment probably didn't provide enough to feed him. Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea, and also realized why there weren't any customers in the store. Nobody really trusts the larger humanoids, even when they are supposed to be integrated and civilized.
"Hey Ed! Get Torque here a couple of those Dragon Dogs, make em jumbos!"
Ed the elf grunted again, and walked over. I walked down the snack aisle, and grabbed some Dr. Ork Jerky Sticks. It was a new brand, and I wanted to try it out. I wandered around the store grabbing a few more essentials for the dive. On a whim I grab a disposable camera. I might need to document something.
I carried my purchases to the counter, and set them down. Ed walked up, and started entering the items in the cash register. The Quick & Happy didn't have one of the new magical scanners. I guess management didn't trust them yet. Too easy to hack.
Ed started bagging everything, and asked me a question, one I didn't really want to answer.
"You going on a dive?"
I saw no point in lying. Elves were good at telling when people were lying, even ones high on Wyzz.
"Yeah, going to the old mines. Heard some mongrels have moved in. Hoping to get a couple and turn them in for the bounty. I need to pay my cable bill..." Which was the truth. I had heard a rumor about a pack of mongrels moving into the mines, and I did need to pay my cable bill. However there was another reason I was going to the old mines, but nobody needed to know that reason.
Ed grunted again. "Boring..."
I paid Ed, and grabbing my sacks saw Torque walking towards me. He had already wolfed down the dogs. He was smiling, which I took as a good thing.
"Thanks...uh..." Torque scratched his head. Ogres of any fractional lineage weren't usually very intelligent.
"Luke. My name is Luke. Say Torque you working? How would you like to make some silver?"
I didn't think it was possible, but his smile got bigger. Which kind of creeped me out a little. I also notice his lower fangs had been filed down and capped. Cruel government creeps. It was probably a condition of his integration into society.
"Torque need work! Torque work hard!"
"Ah good! Follow me, you start now." As I opened the door I remember why Ed seemed so familiar. He had gone to the same high school as me.
"Hey Ed!" As he looked up from reading his ork porn, I flipped him off. He shrugged and went back to his ork porn.
Once outside I direct Torque to get in the cargo bed of my pickup truck. He was way too large to get in the cab. I was worried he might be offended, but he was still smiling.
"Torque ride! Torque ride!" As he stepped onto the bed of the truck I saw it drop low to the ground. Oops. I hope my shocks would hold up.
"Yeah big guy. You get to ride..." I laugh, and get behind the wheel of my used Ford Drake. I turn the key, and the engine rumbles to life. Looking in the rearview mirror at Torque I can't help but smile.
I'm Luke Ivorythorn, dungeon diver, and I have just hired my first henchmen.
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