The Black Spot Port was an establishment with two categories of clientele: the kind who dressed up in motley arrays of jackets, breeches, and silk layers, and made lots of noise and hubbub; and those who wore nondescript gray and black getups, and receded into the noise of the former crowd as if it were a shroud around them and their dealings. It goes without saying that Axalis was normally one of the latter group. But tonight was different.
The audio system of the Port was booming some sort of heavily sliced and re-textured sea shanty when Axalis ducked through the door. He scooted past a fake palm and scraped beyond some cacophony of dreadlocks and bangles that Axalis could only assume had a person beneath. He forced his way to the bar, where a bonnie wench whose busom looked fit to burst from its corset offered mixes of rum and worse. Axalis knew this girl, who went by the name Gladerice, though he had no reason to believe the familiarity was mutual.
"A Dandy Jack," he ordered, "with Elizabeth's Charm." The former was the Black Spot Port's signature drink. The latter was code for a certain additive which the establishment had no license to serve, although its availability was widely known.
But Gladerice looked at him with a dawning shock that culminated in the discrete declaration of, "You!" and left no doubt that no Dandy Jack would be had by Axalis this night, let alone any of Elizabeth's Charm.
"How can you be back again after last night?"
If Axalis had been on alert before, he was now quickly ascending to panic. "I- Why not? It was all, a, uh, misunderstanding."
She glared at him with a look that told him she didn't want to play games. Axalis only hoped she would go along with this one long enough for him to figure out what had happened to him. "The police don't let people off so fast, misunderstanding or not," she hissed.
This was bad. The police? Why didn't he have any recollection of such a run-in? Never in his life had Axalis been so wasted that he would forget being involved with the police.
"Look. Um. Sorry," he said, and left a few coins on the counter without taking anything.
"Wait," the voice of Gladerice sliced through the booming sound of bass and piccolo. "You left this here last night. We don't want anything to do with it." She handed over a memory chip the size of a fingernail.
"Thanks," Axalis said, and left.