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Book: The Impaler and the Slim-Jims
Chapter 4: Surgically Implanted Artificial Fingers

Tiyr’d, the leader of Impaler, sat down at his desk, spun his chair round, and looked out of his large office window. The view outside was very dark now, the cavern lights had been dimmed to minimum. Sleeping time had arrived and most of the community would now be in their beds. Tiyr’d liked this time. It was the time when he could take care of ‘special’ business. The special and secret business that all leaders must deal with.

With Herbert and Gareth, the two annoying visitors from the Muscle-Russells, safely asleep in their guest rooms, Tiyr’d could get on with some real work. He turned back round to his desk and pressed a switch on his intercom. “Is Injr’d, my senior genetic researcher, out there?” he asked.

One of the guards replied. “Yes, he is actually.

“Send him in.”

OK.

The double doors opened and Injr’d walked briskly in. The doors closed behind him. “Here I am, as requested.”

“I need an update on your project.” The leader said. “Time is running short.”

“What do you mean, short? I have two more days to…”

“You have only a few hours.” Tiyr’d interrupted. He leaned forwards onto his desk and locked his surgically implanted artificial fingers together. “My head of intelligence, Splyntr’d, presented me with a disturbing report a couple of hours ago. His report of a Slim-Jim attack in two days was apparently errored.”

“Errored?”

“Yes. Slim-Jims have been sighted approaching our chasm from the south west. They are moving fast and will be upon us by early morning.”

Injr’d was flabbergasted. “The morning?!”

“Your project must be up and running by then. Is that possible?”

The senior genetic researcher looked doubtful. “I’m not sure.”

Tiyr’d stood and raised his voice. “What do you mean? You told me that the extraction was successful!”

“It was.”

“And you told me that accelerated growth to maturity had occurred without problems!”

“It did, but…”

“So what are you not sure about?”

“I would have liked a day or two to condition their minds. They seem very agitated and undisciplined.”

“I thought you had already done some mental conditioning on them?”

Injr’d tried to remain calm. “I have, but that was only to make them hate the Slim-Jims. There is a lot more that I need…”

“So long as they are exceedingly strong and violent that will be sufficient.” the leader of Impaler said, sitting back down.

The senior genetic researcher gave up the argument. “Well, I guess under the circumstances that will have to do.”

“It will. That will be all. Thank you, Injr’d.”

Injr’d spoke again. “Before I go, can I ask a question?”

“Of course.” Tiyr’d answered. “What is it?”

“It concerns those two visitors that we have staying with us.”

“Herbert and Gareth of the Muscle-Russells? What about them?”

“I attended the ceremony tonight and saw them. They look very similar to the bounty hunter I used for my project.”

Tiyr’d’s uneven eyes widened. He had not seen the bounty hunter that Injr’d had captured. “What are you trying to say?”

“I’m saying that maybe they are not who they say they are. Maybe they are not from the Muscle-Russells.”

“Are you suggesting they may be other bounty hunters?”

Injr’d nodded. “They could be a rescue party.”

“Interesting hypothesis.” Tiyr’d said. “But unlikely. Our intelligence researchers have been monitoring Palace of Amino transmissions for decades now. What they tell us is that bounty hunters are not known for their subtlety. Whenever they need to rescue one of their own they go in with weapons blazing. If this had been a rescue attempt we would all be smouldering clumps of charred flesh by now.”

Injr’d looked more relaxed. “So you are saying this is just a coincidence?”

“Yes. They are probably not bounty hunters at all. And even if they are, they suspect nothing. They will want to find their missing colleague and set off to look for him in the morning.”

“What if they find his empty ship and come back looking for him here?”

“By then, we will have destroyed all evidence that he was ever here.”

“That should be OK, I suppose.”

“It will be OK. Don’t worry, Injr’d, if they do come back that will be my problem. Your problem is to get your project operational by the morning.”

Injr’d nodded. “Will that be all?”

“Yes.” Tiyr’d said. “Off you go.”

Injr’d turned and walked out of the office. The leader of Impaler reclined back in his chair and spun round to face the window once again. The coming morning would be one of his most challenging times as leader. The Slim-Jims had never attacked in such large numbers before. If Injr’d’s project failed, the scientific research community of Impaler would fall, and that would not do next month’s re-election campaign much good at all!

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