Engine Ear – Part 2: Interface

The first thing he was shown as he walked in the door was a bicep sporting a red spanner in front of a broken cog – the symbol of SPuMe. The guy smiled at him bearing capped teeth and beckoned him to follow after. They weren’t overt with the scans but he knew that they were being conducted – it was the only concession to technology a lot of these guys would allow in their lives – something to capture their enemies. You had to be pure or you were out and they ran regular and intensive scans. He was lucky that all that was passing over him at the moment was a light level sensor. He hoped that all the extra tech that he was running to mask himself wasn’t going to play up while he was here right in the middle of the most dangerous place in the city for a borg.

Gallivant sat there in front of him and he barely recognised him, which he considered slightly odd as it was him that had gone in for the extensive body modification supposedly. How did he still know that it was his one-time friend despite the obvious steroid abuse that had brought him to this overinflated state of self? It was the stare – that gaze was hard to hold but you knew even as you looked away he was boring into you with those dark cocoa coloured eyes. There was something slightly unhinged behind those eyes; something obsessive; something that didn’t tick in quite the same way as everyone else.

‘One has to ask themselves why a journalist would be interested in a hot potato like us and our little disagreement with the Engineers. One has to wonder what propaganda opportunities coming to visit a bunch of rabid pro-humans might offer to a pencil pusher such as yourself. It’s been a long time, Fervent, how have you been keeping?’

‘Well … and yourself, you look …’

‘Good, yeah, I know – perfect specimen of what the human form can be given the right attitude and the right exercise regime.’

‘Yeah. So, you’re in charge here?’

‘Not exactly, but I have some pull. It isn’t exactly a hierarchical structure that we’re operating within here. This is more of a life choice than a job or a gang or an organisation, if you catch my drift? Are we on record by the way?’

‘Always. I’m a journalist.’

‘Slippery bastard.’

‘Some might think so.’

‘So, Ferv’, would you mind me asking you a question? Just one, that’s all, and then we’ll continue as planned.’

‘Of course. Go ahead.’

‘Okay, here goes. Why exactly would a borg be stupid enough to walk into the heart of our territory and expect to walk out alive again, even someone with journalistic credentials like yours? Do you think we don’t read or something?’

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Else City – Part 2: Grave Talk

He wasn’t exactly sure what he was expecting the doctor to do in order to revive the body but the implement he produced looked simultaneously arcane and futuristic. He brandished it with a flourish and a grin that nearly skinned O’Halligan. Too bloody theatrical — that, he thought, was his problem with the whole bloody place: full of drama queens and amateur dramatics enthusiasts. He was not going to fit in here and that pained him because God knew how long he was going to have to spend here. These dimensions had weird rules about death and the existence you spent here.

‘And that is?’

‘The Lazarus Redial.’

‘Jesus, give me a fucking break.’

‘What?’ said Forbes’Let him have his fun. You try doing what he does on a daily basis and not feeling the need to spice it up by giving things crackpot names. The Doc is one of the more normal people you’re going to meet so you should savour this while you can.’

The doctor turned that manic grin on him again and spinning the the device around his fingers, paused briefy, then like lightning pushed the needle that sprang from it’s end into the flesh of the corpse.

There was a loud farting noise and a sigh.

‘What was that?’ asked O’Halligan.

‘The body on the slab just farted.’

‘Oh.’

‘Excuse me,’ said the body sitting up ‘Didn’t expect to find myself back here, what’s going on? Goddamn, it hurts.’

‘You were killed by something and we were wondering if you might be able to provide us with some information as to what exactly did it.’

‘And you are?’

‘Detective Forbes, Else City Police Department, Homicide Division. Your name please, for the record.’

‘Langston Through. I worked in real estate — I was showing a house — you’ll forgive me but I can’t recall where but it should be in my diary — anyw-a-a-y we distu-u-u-rbed a ne-e-s-t.’

The corpse’s eyes rolled back in its skull and it slumped back onto the slab.

‘Well, that was interesting,’ said O’Halligan sparking up ‘A nest? So we just call the exterminators, eh?’

‘He’s funny, eh, Forbes?’

‘Rib-crackingly hilarious, Doctor. We’ll run a check on Langston Through — shouldn’t be hard to find; real estate isn’t big business out here. If you can k-print him and snap me some aura pics that would be a big help.’

‘No problem. Good luck, O’Halligan.’

‘Thanks.’