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Book: The Nomads and the Mind Machine
Chapter 6: A Mouthful of Blood and Flesh

The Bloodbath restaurant was a place of opulent gluttony.  It consisted of more than forty large transparent interconnected spheres that clung high up the side of its parent tower like enormous frog spawn.  Each sphere, which contained several large tables and many sumptuous sofas, was lavishly equipped with plush diamond-studded seating and ridiculously leather-clad gambling machines.  The tables were arranged around a central octagonal dipping bath filled with heated blood, pumped in fresh from the restaurant’s own slaughter room.  The blood was also pumped through a web of soft veins that covered the inner surface of the spheres giving each a pulsing organic feel.


Albiam Muts returned from the dipping bath with his plate of steak and vegetables.  He placed his newly blooded food down on the table, sat down, and then cut into his steak with delicate precision.  After placing a small slice into his mouth he chewed carefully, and then swallowed.  “This is a fine cut, full of flavour.  Just as I would expect at such a fine establishment.”  He seemed quite happy now, and no longer moaned about being man-handled out of the Government Tower and dragged into the restaurant.

Ross Mental was sitting opposite.  He grabbed the thick and almost raw steak from his own plate and bit down hard.  He tore off a large piece.  Blood ran down his chin.  “I agree.  This is fuckin’ good!”

Assistant Muts was not amused.  “This is a place of refinement, not one of those under-class gorging concerns you find down below.”  He nodded towards the window.

The bounty hunter looked down through the giant bubble of glass.  Almost a kilometre down he could see the bright lights of the streets at the base of the towers.  Hugh screens were advertising some of the most immoral products available.  “There’s nothing wrong with fuckin’ gorging.” He said as he watched some flashes of distant energy fire across one of the streets.  A ground car exploded – a typical scene on this delinquent world.

The governor’s assistant ate another slice of steak and then held his single-nostrilled head high.  “Gorging is fine if the venue is appropriate.  But this is not that kind of venue.  Please act appropriately.”  He waved his arm.  “Look around you.  We do not eat drokodrile meat in such a barbaric way.  It is the finest our swamp farms can produce, and the animals are slaughtered onsite just minutes before they are cooked and served.  The freshness and quality of the meat must be respected.”

Ross Mental looked at the restaurant’s other patrons.  They were indeed eating their meat with a strange and dainty reverence, and were dressed in the finest of clothes for the occasion.  On the table opposite, four well-trimmed female homo-marsupials smiled at the bounty hunter as they ate.  Their rows of sharpened teeth were surprisingly alluring.  He looked back at his food and took another huge bite, and then mumbled through a mouthful of blood and flesh.  “This meat is good, but it is nothing compared to what I can eat at the Palace of Amino.  So I’ll eat it any way I fuckin’ like.”

Albiam Muts sighed.  “I really do wish you would…”

In an instant Ross Mental reached across the table and grabbed the assistant’s throat.  He glared, and then spat blood.  “I am a top-class bounty hunter!  Do not criticise my eating habits again, fucker!  Understand?”

The assistant’s pale face was turning red.  He nodded.

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter let go.  Albiam Muts slumped back into his seat.  He took a small cloth out of his breast pocket and dabbed at the sweat and blood splats on his polished scalp.  He was breathing hard.  His complexion’s normal pale colour gradually returned.

Cardigan Moth returned from the dipping bath.  He sat down and started spooning up the blood around his steak.  He slurped down a mouthful, his gaunt neck tensed as he swallowed.  “Hmm…  Moderately spicy, yet also smooth and creamy.  Interesting.”  He looked at the governor’s administrative assistant.  “Are you feeling unwell?  Your neck appears to be mildly distended.”

Albiam Muts frowned.  “I am as well as I would expect to be in company such as yours.”

Cardigan Moth smiled.  “I’m pleased to hear it.”  He turned to Ross Mental.  The foul-mouthed bounty hunter’s face was buried in a mass of bloodied flesh.  “Shall we cross-examine our stunted and pudgy friend?”

Ross Mental looked up at Cardigan Moth.  “Yeah.”  He turned to the assistant.  “I want to know all the details about those mad fuckin’ renovations that are going on in the core of your building.”

Assistant Muts took a deep breath.  “I do not understand why you are so interested.  It is just renovation work, nothing more.  All I know is that the correct documentation was…”

Ross Mental slammed his fist on the table.  “I don’t want to hear about the fuckin’ documentation!”

The restaurant fell silent.  The other guests were all looking at the foul-mouthed bounty hunter.  Most looked stern and disgusted, but a few were obviously struggling to hide their delight, in particular the four homo-marsupial females.  Ross Mental, like all top-class bounty hunters, was well known on the central worlds – especially Repugnius.  To see him in action was the dream of many.

Albiam Muts spoke quietly, his voice unsteady with fear and even higher pitched than usual.  “I do not know the details of the renovations.  Please believe me.”

With superior willpower Ross Mental calmed himself and lowered his voice.  “Fine.  I’ll believe you, for now.”  He narrowed his eyes.  “You do realise that as a fuckin’ bounty hunter of the Palace of Amino it is my duty to investigate anything suspicious, don’t you?”

The governor’s assistant nodded.  “I am aware of that, yes.”

“Good.  Then you’ll also realise that, as an official of a central world government, it is your duty to assist me in my investigations if I fuckin’ order you to.”

Assistant Muts signed.  “Yes, I am aware of that, too.”

Ross Mental grinned, his teeth laced with blood.  “Excellent!  Then I order you to go back into your fuckin’ tower, find out exactly what’s going on in there, and report back to us here in two fuckin’ hours.”

The assistant looked at the foul-mouthed bounty hunter.  After a couple of seconds of thought he said.  “Very well.”

“Then off you fuckin’ go!”

Albiam Muts’s looked down at his food.  “May I finish my steak first?  I do not want to waste such a delectable…”

Ross Mental grabbed the assistant’s food and poured it onto his own plate.  “Don’t worry, it won’t be wasted.  Now fuck off!”

With a glum look on his face the tub-like assistant got to his feet and waddled away.

Ross Mental shouted after him.  “Two fuckin’ hours!”  He took another massive bite from his steak and turned to his companion.  “Muts is hiding something.  I believe he knows much more about those fuckin’ renovations than he’s admitting.”

Cardigan Moth was curious.  “What makes you think that?”

“Didn’t you notice his jittery fuckin’ eyes, and the way he twitches his ugly fuckin’ nose?”

“No.”

“Well you fuckin’ should’ve.  He’s a fuckin’ liar!”

Cardigan Moth changed the subject.  “I surreptitiously performed a scan of the core of the tower whilst we were in the lobby.”

Ross Mental was amazed.  “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me earlier?”

“I was waiting until we were alone.”

“Well?  What does the scan tell you?  What’s in the fuckin’ core?”

The scan revealed that the core is encased in a thick layer of polytitanium.”

“You’re fuckin’ kidding?!”

“I am not.”

“That’s tough fuckin’ stuff - definitely not normal for a building renovation!  What’s inside?”

“The scan could not penetrate the polytitanium.  It is heavily shielded.”

“Hmm… Very fuckin’ weird.”

Cardigan Moth was thinking.  “Maybe it was unwise to send the governor’s assistant back to the tower to investigate for us?  He may inform others involved in the renovation scheme about our interest.  If there is something untoward going on in there it could make dealing with it much more awkward.”

“Maybe, but at least if something is up in there then things will kick off much quicker than if we sneak around.  I hate fuckin’ sneaking around!”

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