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Book: The Nomads and the Mind Machine
Chapter 9: Powerful and Arrogant-Looking Vessels

Albiam Muts had watched the explosion from his small office, right next to Governor Ykcor’s office.  He had been standing at his viewing window – a concave slab of thick glass that allowed him to peer straight down to the depths of the city.

500 levels down he had seen the bright orange flash of the attack on the Bloodbath restaurant, and had grimaced as he imagined the agony and carnage inflicted on the innocent high-class citizens as they gorged delicately on their barely cooked drokodrile steaks.  His action had resulted in the deaths of hundreds.

As the dull distant rumble of the detonation reverberated through his office, he shuddered.

A bell sounded.  The governor was calling.

Assistant Muts turned and shuffled towards a side exit.  The door opened revealing the expansive opulence of the governor’s office.  He wandered in, shuffled across the deep carpeting, and stopped in front of the governor’s desk, right in front of the office’s panoramic windows.  “Yes, governor?”

The governor was sitting with his back to his desk.  He was staring out of the window at the evening vista of towers and air traffic.  “What was that noise, Albiam?”

“It was an explosion, governor.  Another random attack by an under-class goon, no doubt.”

“Unusually close, wasn’t it?”

“Such attacks are impossible to predict, governor, and therefore impossible to prevent.  We are safe within this tower, I think.”

“I should hope so.”  Governor Ykcor said.  He spun round in his deeply padded leather chair and faced his assistant.  He changed the subject.  “The news channels are filled with speculation about my sexual habits.”

Assistant Muts was confused as to why the governor had mentioned that.  “With all due respect, governor, that is not unusual.  Your previous liaisons with numerous high-profile females, including the former mistress of the notorious Ken Kasino, are regularly the subject of discussion on panel shows and mental illness documentaries.  Your political viability has never been affected.”

The governor shook his head slowly.  “It is different this time, Albiam.  Relationships with slim and toned females, no matter how depraved or sordid, are never an issue for a politician.  And all of my previous relationships were indeed slim and toned.  But the recently broadcast sight of that astoundingly obese deca-whore on my landing pad could well be my undoing.”

“Are you telling me that you actually had… physical encounters with her?”

The governor scowled.  “Certainly not!  I am not an idiot!”

Albiam Muts lowered his head.  “My apologies, governor.”

The governor continued.  “Of course, I have curiosities, just like any other male.”  He reclined thoughtfully.  “For a moment or two, as I watched her naked form out there on the landing pad, I did wonder what it would be like to bury myself within her flaccid mass of delightful…”

A high-pitched alarm sounded.

The doors to the landing pad opened and the governor’s two black-cloaked bodyguards entered.  Their heads were shaved and they wore face-hugging shades over their eyes.  One of them spoke, his voice alarmingly effeminate.  “The threat alarm has sounded, governor.  As a necessary precaution we must get you away from here.  Please come with us.”

The governor nodded and got to his feet, his heavy and gold-braided robes causing him some discomfort as he did so.  He walked towards the exit to the landing pad.  “Yet another false alarm, I suspect.”

“Perhaps,” the bodyguard said, “but never the less, you must come with us.  There has been an attack on a building adjacent to this one.  Until it has been investigated we must assume the worst and get you away from here.”

Governor Ykcor nodded, and then looked at his assistant.  “Come, Albiam!”

Albiam thought about the reward he was yet to receive from Yug  Evahsadeen.  He had only a few hours to claim it.  “I should stay and investigate the reason why the…”

“Procedure dictates that you stay at my side during an evacuation, does it not?”

The assistant sighed.  “It does, governor.”

“Then come!”

Reluctantly the assistant followed the governor and the two bodyguards out onto the large dimly lit landing pad.  They stopped next to the governor’s black air limousine.  The limousine’s curved polished surfaces glimmered in the lights of the surrounding towers.

Governor Ykcor paused for a moment.  He looked to his left.  Still sitting at the far side of the landing were the two bounty hunter ships, looking menacing beneath the almost black evening cloud cover.  “She’s locked up in that smaller ship.”  He said.

Assistant Muts followed the governor’s gaze.  “The deca-whore?”

“Who else would I be talking about?”

Once again the assistant was confused.  “Why are you telling me this?”

“It seems cruel.  Her crimes were indeed heinous, but her victims were willing.  That must stand in her favour.”

Albiam frowned.  “This is not the time for this, governor.”

The governor nodded.  He turned and struggled to get himself and his robes through the now open door of the limousine.

Whilst he waited for the governor to get inside, Albiam Muts looked back at the bounty hunter ships.  They were powerful and arrogant-looking vessels, armed with unconcealed weaponry that seemed to generate a sense of dread.  One of the ships resembled a huge squat insect, one of the assistants many phobias.  He was glad that the bounty hunters had been destroyed.  At least he hoped they had been.  The thought that they may still be alive made him shiver, despite the high humidity and heat.

“Albiam!” Governor Ykcor shouted.  “Get in!”

The assistant turned and looked into the open door of the limousine.  The governor was sitting inside on the vehicle’s curved sofa.  He was already holding a small glass of sparkling alcohol.  The assistant stepped into the limousine and took a seat next to the governor.  The door sealed behind him.

The two bodyguards took their seats in the separate front cabin.  The limousine rose smoothly off the landing platform and accelerated quickly over the tower tops.  Immediately two police air cars appeared at either side and took up escort.

The effeminate bodyguard spoke over the communicator.  “It’s necessary for us to remain moving and airborne, governor.  I’m afraid we cannot take you to your residence at this time.

The governor nodded.  “I am aware of the procedure.”  He took a sip of his drink and looked at Albiam.  “Turn on the video display.  Maybe there is news of this threat.”

Assistant Muts touched a control to his side.  The large video screen ahead faded to life.

Adeline Thoum, Hadus’s most famous news presenter, was speaking.  Her huge cosmetically-enhanced lips stretched and flexed in a most extraordinary manner.  “…shattered pieces of the restaurant’s dining spheres can be seen littering the under-class street below.  It’s estimated that more than 300 of the restaurant’s customers will have lost their lives, many in a hideously contorted and agonising manner.  We’ll give you updates on this breaking story as soon as they come in.

The image on the screen changed to show a night-vision shot of a luxury air car on an expansive landing pad. Four figures could be seen standing next to the vehicle.  “This is just in.  It appears that Governor Ykcor has been evacuated from the GovernmentTower.  This is a standard precautionary measure and would normally be of little interest, but what is interesting is the way the governor pauses to look longingly at a bounty hunter ship that is currently parked on his landing platform.  The ship is the one that is holding the deca-whore that has been associated with the governor.  His lingering gaze at the bounty hunter ship will lend weight to the rumours that the governor is having a nauseatingly rampant sexual relationship with the sweaty flab-ridden whore.

A rapidly drawn artist’s impression of the governor in a compromising position with the deca-whore was shown.

Governor Ykcor shouted.  “Turn it off, Albiam!”

Startled, the assistant turned off the video screen.  He looked out of the side window of the limousine.  The pinnacles of the city’s towers sped passed, their masts and antennae lit up like beacons.  Even at this height huge illuminated advertisements could be seen promoting the city’s depraved services for as far as the eye could see.

All Albiam Muts could think about was his reward: his reward for treachery.

He shuddered.

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