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Book: The Nomads and the Mind Machine
Chapter 18: Heads

“This is really a fuckin’ odd sight!”  Ross Mental said.  He drifted in zero gravity next to the transparent dome containing the heads of Professors Espanys and Larberec.  “Fuckin’ odd!”

Professor Larberec frowned.  He spoke, his voice synthetic and cyborg-like.  “That is the third time you’ve said that!”  The professor’s stained beard sloshed in the green nutrient sludge that surrounded the heads.  The sludge remained on the base of the dome, obviously held in place by a localized gravity field.

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter grinned.  “And it won’t be the last.  This is so fuckin’ odd that it has to be repeated!”  He leaned forwards, his expression becoming more serious.  “Have you figured out why you’re in there, yet?”

“For the last time, no!  It is not possible to figure something out when no information is available as a starting point for an analysis.”

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter looked around.  The dome containing the heads was at the centre of a large oval chamber.  Many thick cables from the underside of the dome were connected to what looked like data ports on the sides of the chamber.  Unnecessary banks of red flickering lights seemed to indicate data flow.  He looked back at the two bodiless academics.  “You’re both plugged into this fuckin’ ship!  You’re part of it!”

Professor Espanys spoke.  “It does appear that way, but as mentioned before we do not seem to be getting any information from the ship.”

Ross Mental was thoughtful.  “Well, you’re plugged into it for a reason.  Why would you be decapitated, have your head’s kept alive in a tank of fuckin’ gunk, and then be connected to up to this ship for no fuckin’ reason?”

Professor Larberec’s eyes flickered.  “I suspect that our reason for being here will be made known once we reach our destination.”

Ross Mental nodded.  “That sounds logical.  Where’s our destination?”

“I don’t know!”

Ross Mental yelled.  “You’re both connected to this fuckin’ ship!  Use your fuck-off intellects and find a way to interrogate it!”

The eyes of Professor Espanys rolled back. His bearded jaw quivered.

“What the fuck’s wrong with you?”

Professor Espanys stopped quivering.  With wide eyes he looked at the foul-mouthed bounty hunter.  “I just received information!  I simply thought of a question and the answer arrived.”

“What question?”

“I asked ‘What is our destination?’”

“So?  What is our fuckin’ destination?”

“Spacial coordinates 194-002-461-684-201 in the Slimyebba void.”

Ross Mental pulled a mapping device from his belt and tapped in the coordinates.  The device’s screen showed a 3-dimensional representation of the void.  “There’s nothing fuckin’ there!”

Professor Larberec looked annoyed.  “That’s why it’s called a void!”

Ross Mental slammed his fist into the transparent dome containing the heads.  The force of the impact sent him tumbling away.  He kicked off from the chamber wall and sent himself drifting back towards the dome.  “Look!  I was only in Hadus on a mission to arrest a fuckin’ deca-whore - nothing more!  I’d completed my mission, and after a fuck-off meal I was all set to return to the Palace of Amino to relax in fuck-off luxury!  Now I find myself stuck inside an unknown spacecraft with a couple of bodiless academics travelling to an empty fuckin’ void for no apparent reason.”  He paused for a moment and then yelled.  “So modify you attitude and give me some fuckin’ support!”

The professors gazed up at the bounty hunter; their jaws hung open in shock.  After a few seconds Professor Espanys spoke.  “You have our support.  Forgive us, but we have had our bodies removed without permission and find ourselves in a dome connected to the computer of this spacecraft.  Up until a couple of weeks ago we were plump academics on Nemia, and scientific advisors to Lord Gastronemous himself.  Our lifestyles were lavishly opulent and protected by layer upon layer of artificial and biological security systems.  This is not a situation we expected to be in or had time to prepare for.  We are still shocked and upset about our predicament.”

Ross Mental nodded.  “Yes, we all have problems, don’t we?”

“We do.”

“We need to know why you’re here.”  Ross Mental said.  He pointed to the head on the left.  “You!  What’s your name again?”

“Professor Espanys.”

“Ask the ship what its purpose is.  And ask why you’re here.”

Once again the eyes of the professor rolled back.  His beard quivered.  He moaned.  A tired expression filled his face.  “We will be informed when we reach our destination, no sooner.”

Ross Mental scowled.  “Then we wait!”

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