From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. There isn’t even a proper sign or anything. But mercs of all species know that if you head to southwest Houston, near the Starport, there’s a particular run-down strip mall that looks like it’s been abandoned for years. The glass door second from the south end of the strip is plastered over on the inside with blue paper, and the faint golden outline of a rampant lion is the only clue.
The door is locked, of course. You don’t knock. In fact, if you want in, you don’t touch the door at all. To get inside, you gotta follow the procedure: you stand in front of the door with your back to it while the cameras hidden inside the sagging awning scan you. If they like what they see, the door unlocks for thirty seconds, and you and your party have exactly that long to get inside. Any longer and the door (which is much heavier than it looks) slams shut and won’t budge.
Beyond the door is nothing but a darkened hallway with a downward slope and a slight curve to it. Once you follow this curve far enough that the door is out of sight, you are greeted by two very large, very well armed Lumar.
“Welcome to the Lyon’s Den,” the larger of the two says, without a translator, and without a trace of an alien accent. “You know the rules?”
“The Rules” are simple: The Lyon makes the rules. This is his place, and what he says, goes. Fortunately for all concerned, The Lyon is a fair and completely neutral man. He has no problem serving mercenaries and others of all species, as long as they remain courteous to his staff and the other patrons—in that order. Oh, and everyone keeps their weapons, with the understanding that if someone draws a weapon, every other patron and staff member will be drawing theirs as well.
The Lyon believes that an armed society is a polite society.
Once the Lumar are satisfied you understand the rules, you’re waved through a blue curtain into something that looks like it could exist on any of half a dozen space stations throughout the galaxy. The main room is huge, and is dominated by the gigantic octagonal bar that sits in the center of the room. The bar is made of dark, polished wood that matches the tables and the scuffed floor. Huge Tri-V screens the size of passenger cars hang high on the walls around the room and over the bar, showing GalNet broadcasts. On the far wall, a set of swinging double doors is in nearly constant motion as the Lyon’s Den staff bustles in and out bearing trays of foodstuffs from all over the galaxy. On the wall to the right of the entrance, six-foot tall tanks of various kinds of gas and liquid glow in jeweled colors, thanks to the dramatic lighting setup. These are for the mercs who don’t breathe air and might like a whiff of home.
See, that’s the thing about the Lyon’s Den. The Lyon gets what his clients want. The gargantuan bar serves beverages from all corners of the galaxy, and The Lyon is bound to know your favorite. The tables come in various heights and sizes, so that mercs of all kinds can relax in comfort.
The lighting is dim, and the music varied. Mercs can type in a request on the order slates at their table, but typically the music queue is so long that you wait hours to hear your favorite song. There is a dance floor, but no one ever uses it. There are other places in Houston for dancing.
Besides the Tri-V screens, various pieces of memorabilia hang here and there on the walls. Some are insignia from Merc Companies long forgotten…by everyone except Lyon. Some are from old sports teams. Some are photographs of ancient military technology. Some are actual fragments of destroyed galactic tech.
Behind the bar, a small pedestal nestles among the top shelf liquors and other beverages. Atop this pedestal, a small round piece of metal with a single pawprint sits in a locked glass case with its own lighting system. Even the staff doesn’t touch this. Nor do they ask about it. If anyone does, they get shushed…quickly.
The place is always open: 24/7/365. If you’re on Earth, and you’re a merc, you can find a drink and a damn good meal there. The Lyon’s Den is the place to sit and talk and remember…or forget.