Ross Mental, beer in hand, sat with his feet up on one of the Bloodbath restaurant’s sumptuous red leather sofas. He was surrounded by colourful and exotic plants, many of which were home to some of the most abnormal-looking insects and lizards he had ever seen.
Opposite the bounty hunter a large video display was showing a local live news channel. He watched with a smile as the female presenter, sporting some of the thickest surgically enhanced lips the bounty hunter had ever seen, read the evening’s top news stories with intense seriousness.
“…As well as the deaths of huge numbers of the under-class, the destruction of the Gastronemous Gallery has caused lasting psychological damage to many of this city’s art aficionados. Recovery will be a long and painful process, and for many, suicide by the most agonizing and drawn-out process possible will be considered the only option. Already many of the city’s suicide centres have announced extensions to their opening hours and doubled their fees.”
The presenter smiled, her lips stretching in an unholy manner. “And now, some exclusive video of the arrest earlier today of one of the largest whores ever to be seen in Hadus.” The image of the presenter was replaced with the image of the landing pad outside Governor Ykcor’s office. “The gruesome arrest of the whore by two bounty hunters from the Palace of Amino – one of them identified as the phenomenal Ross Mental - took place on top of the Government Tower and involved the use of grappling hooks to lift the naked whore into one of the bounty hunter’s ships.
“As can be seen, the mass of pendulous breasts on the chest of the whore suggest she is a deca-whore – one of the rarest and ugliest types of whore in existence. Her arrest will certainly be a relief for this city’s one billion registered whore addicts, who could have suffered fatal injuries underneath that sweaty whore’s mass of blubbery gut and chest flesh.”
Ross Mental laughed as he watched Mama Flesh tear off the grappling hooks and plunge into the topside of Cardigan Moth’s ship. He raised his beer bottle. “Yes!” He took a swig and burped loudly. “Fuckin’ Awesome!”
“The sighting of a deca-whore on the private landing pad of Governor Ykcor raises questions as to the governor’s dubious sexual habits, most notably why he would require the services of such a dangerously disgusting and sweaty, mass-breasted, flab-ridden woman of the night when he already has access to three slim and toned adolescent females as part of his benefits and privileges package?”
The image on the screen changed again, this time to a photo of two old and bearded men. “In other news, the abduction of Professor Espanys and Professor Larberec of Nemia eight days ago is still…”
Bored again, Ross Mental clicked the side of his chair, muting the screen’s sound. He got to his feet and walked over to the side of the transparent sphere of the restaurant. He looked out at the immense cityscape. Night had fallen, and the city’s lights shone brightly. Above, in the opulent upper levels of the city’s multitude of enormous towers, subtle illuminations could be seen, the expense and intricacy of their designs exuding quality and refinement. Down below towards the depraved street levels of the under-class citizens, huge swathes of garish neon displays and flashing video screens could be seen. The night’s depraved service industry was open for business.
Cardigan Moth approached, his blue velvet cloak billowing behind him. He was sipping a delicately constructed clear cocktail. Three small tadpole-like creatures were swimming at the bottom of the glass. “It is more than two hours since you sent Albiam Muts off to investigate. He should have returned by now.” The bounty hunter used a cocktail stick to skewer one of the tadpole creatures. He popped the creature into his mouth.
Ross Mental frowned and looked around. He faced his fellow bounty hunter. “Yeah! Where is the shiny little bald fucker?!”
Cardigan Moth’s eyes narrowed. “Perhaps we have been betrayed?”
“Hmm… Maybe, but I would have expected him to come back on time and spew fuckin’ bullshit. He is a bureaucrat – obsessed with regulations and order.” Ross Mental shook his head. “That dumpy little fucker would never…”
A rapid bleeping sounded. The bounty hunters immediately understood the meaning of the tone and frequency. Instinctively they both ducked to the floor. Ross Mental pulled out a small grenade and threw it at the transparent side of the restaurant. The grenade detonated, melting a metre-wide hole. A deafening crack of sound reverberated through the restaurant.
Some of the customers at the restaurant started screaming.
Ross Mental shouted. “Let’s go fuckin’ go!” Grabbing Cardigan Moth, he leapt through the hole dragging the fourth-class bounty hunter with him.
Within a second they were falling through hot humid air towards the neon-loaded streets below.
A bright orange flash illuminated the streets. Looking up, Ross Mental saw the restaurant’s sphere that they had been sitting in break apart in a swelling cloud of flame. Several other spheres shattered as the blast wave spread. A deep thunderous roar, louder than a grunk belch, slammed into the bounty hunter. The sound of the explosion throbbed through his armour and into his chest.
Street level was approaching quickly. Thinking fast, Ross Mental reached down to his utility belt and pulled out a small device attached to a thin cable. Looking around he rapidly scanned the sides of the buildings rushing passed. He spotted what he was looking for. With astonishing accuracy he threw the device. It wrapped around a protruding antennae array. With almost bone-snapping force the foul-mouthed bounty hunter’s fall was immediately broken. He was yanked sideways towards the side of a building. Pulling his pistol from its holster, he aimed and fired. A blast of sparkling red energy laced into the building. In a flash of white a two-metre wide hole melted into existence. Curling up like a hedgehog, the bounty hunter swung through the hole. He landed on the floor and rolled onto his knees. He laughed and punched the air. “Escape of the fuckin’ century!”
Several sleepy-eyed poorly dressed humanoids were sitting in worn old armchairs nearby, each with long flexible piping plumbed into their nostrils and mouths. On the tables next to their chairs huge bongs were discharging thick black gusts of smoke into the air. The humanoids all started grinning.
Ross Mental waved at them and laughed once more. “You think I’m a fuckin’ hallucination, don’t you?!”
Most of the humanoids just kept grinning. A couple of them slipped into unconsciousness.
The foul-mouthed bounty hunter shook his head. “Useless fuckin’ addicts!” He got to his feet and walked over to the hole he had made. He leaned out and looked down. As usual a humid wind buffeted him. Debris from the explosion was still falling, leaving trails of thick smoke in the air. The street, about a hundred metres below, was covered in the flaming wreckage of many of the restaurant’s spheres and also the crumpled scorched bodies of its customers.
Ross Mental activated his communicator. “Moth? Where the fuck are you?!”
“You’d better be OK! I don’t want to have to haul a fuckin’ cripple back to the palace!”
Cardigan Moth replied. “You won’t, my injuries are insignificant. I used a stack of boxed inflatable sex toys outside a maid café to break my initial fall.”
“Your ‘initial’ fall?”
“Indeed. My secondary fall occurred when one of the restaurant’s spheres crashed through an air vent next to the stack of sex toys. The shock waves of the impact threw me off the stack and into the air vent. Fortunately the impact of the sphere stopped the giant fans within the air vent. I fell straight through to the swamps beneath.”
“I am now embedded up to my waist in decaying swamp matter.”
Ross Mental laughed. “Fuckin’ nice!” He looked up. Hundreds of metres above he could see the smoking remains of the Bloodbath restaurant. All but two of the restaurant’s transparent spheres had fallen. Already dozens of emergency vehicles were hovering nearby, some of them spraying foam into the jagged gaping hole that had been blown into the side of the restaurant’s host building. “I think this incident proves that something fuckin’ dodgy is going on in the Government Tower!”
“Indeed it does.”
Ross Mental thought for a moment. “It will take at least a day for the authorities to confirm the identities of those who died in the attack. Whoever arranged this wanted us fuckin’ dead, and we must let them think they succeeded.”
“A fine idea. We must use stealth tactics from this moment forward.”
“Yeah. As much as I fuckin’ hate the idea, we’re going to need to go undercover. Stay where you are. I have a fuck-off idea! I’m coming down.”