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PeeDee3, Intergalactic, Insectiod Assassin in:
Season one, Episode One
Until my upper right arm fell off, I had no idea I was dead.
I would have noticed sooner, but a heavy night of drinking at Swallatikitiki’s Tiki Bar and Recovery Spa had dulled all three of my complex nerve centers. I’d woken up feeling stiff, like rigor mortis stiff, but a constant ringing in my antennae had me thinking more about retoxifying then considering a possible lack of life. I’d consumed way too may of Swalla’s antiseptic concoctions—there auta be a law. Actually, I think there was one, but I never paid much attention to that kind of crap.
I stretched and the upper right shoulder gave an unhealthily loud crack, but I ignored it. Hell, everything sounds louder after a night of wheatgrass thunderballs—man, that stuff’s almost ninety percent water, dangerous drink. I would have sworn to never touch another drop, but my head was hurting too much to swear. Besides, it would turn out I didn’t really have any more agains to promise too.
So I shuffled into the galley, my knees barely working, and started a pot of caustic bean juice. All I had on hand was some of that Bark House Coffee brand. Normally I avoided foreign food, especially human slop, but science had yet to invent a better cure.
Most Kacekans can’t choke that stuff down, especially without a shot of espresso and an extra scoop of mealworm larvae, but I usually didn’t have a problem. That morning though I couldn’t even stomach the smell of it. My mouth was dry and stale, but I didn’t feel thirsty. Better still, I should’ve hopped into the witch hazel rinse, but something was nagging at my gut. I’d woken up in a real bad mood and I didn’t know why. My trigger claws were numb, which usually meant a fight was brewing.
Actually my whole body felt numb. That should have been the second clue, but like I said, I was in a heavy detox fog. I felt more like crawling back into bed, but I couldn’t get the nagging feeling out of my abdominal mind.
Unable to choke down the coffee, the only thing for it was the old plop-plop, fiz-fiz. So I dropped a couple of hydrochloric tablets in a glass of Dr. Cola’s Fix Syrup—I think humans call it nail polish remover; leave it to a human to paint food—tilted my head back and tossed the stuff down.
Wouldn’t you know it ran right on my feet?
There was no more ignoring it. I had an empty hole in my gut telling me that something was real wrong. Still I had’ta see.
I reached to set the glass back on the shelf. That’s when the arm gave a loud crack, snapped off, and landed on the counter, claw still gripping the glass.
“Just great,” I growled, my mandibles clicking.
My antenna twitched as I connected to the detached limb, commanding it to release the claw. I set the glass in the hydro wash. I gave the arm a parting glance. Normally I could re-grow that at my next molt, but I’d run clean out of molts.
I dragged myself back into the rest chamber. My last shed still stood by the window, an old blaster in a claw. The husk made folks think twice about coming around. Apparently this time it hadn’t worked.
I pulled back the thermal spread. The resting shelf was covered in sticky green blood, my blood. And there was a lot of it; more than I’d ever seen and I’d seen a lot.
I shuffled over to the reflecting screen. My lower right claw griped my tunic, but I hesitated. I don’t know why. I’d seen lots of bad in my time, but now the bad I was gonna see was me. The sooner it was done it was done so I pulled it up.
Just as I’d thought; there was a dinner plate sized opening carved straight through me. I could see the silhouette of the husk through the hole; nicely done too, almost as good as me—one clean, thousand-millimeter hole. Judging by the size and shape of the hole, it must have been done at close range. I’d guess a Dewalt drill blaster with quick chuck, a laser sight, and a digitized sound suppressor. This guy was a pro.
I dropped the tunic and carefully scratched my head with the upper left. Exoskeletons don’t itch, but I wanted to see how the arm worked. It worked fine.
Someone had bought themselves a whole lotta hurt, and best of all, I’d bet they didn’t know it was coming.
My remaining three claws balled up as I thought about the smug schmuck sitting on a stool at some dive, tossing back henna waters like there was no tomorrow and bragging how he’d taken old PeeDee3 out of the game.
I relaxed the claws to save strength. Odds are the schmuck didn’t know that Kacekans can move for another twelve bitty-bits after we’re dead, even with our heads removed. Not that a headless bug corpse slamming into and falling over everything in range is the most dignified sight in the galaxy, but this sckag had left my head intact.
I looked back at the green puddle; whoever had probably emptied me. Kacekan blood’s a fairly potent acid. Judging by the amount it had eaten through the resting shelf, I figured I’d been dead no more than three bitty-bits. I checked the chronograph; it was just past twelve thousand trilla-bits, so it was still morning. Who can tell on a planet with such long day-night cycles? I glanced at the calendar; seven more years of night, more than enough to do the deed. But I needed a name.
So I figured I’d got at least nine more bitty-bits. I set my wrist chrono’s time down alarm for eight and half; err on the safe side of eternity.
The previous rest period was a total blank so I started to look around. My quad shoulder holster was hanging on the peg by the bed just as it should be. I slid it on, adjusting the strap to compensate for the missing appendage, and immediately felt better. Frankly, I felt down right naked without out it. Funny feeling though, only being able to draw three weapons at a time; I needed to adapt.
Each of the three still had a full load. Then I drew the fourth, my favorite, an Orik three-thousand Whispersonic Bowling-Ball Cannon. Man, that guy was a genius, can’t believe he was a human. I clumsily flipped open the cartage, not being used to handling it in the lower claw. Sure enough one chamber was empty; the twelve pounder, the light load. So I wanted to make an impression, but not knock a building down. I wished I could remember why.
I switched the giant space squid gun for the cannon.
A couple dozen retinas in one of my complex eyes spotted something on the floor. I couldn’t bend over very well anymore, so I leaned on the platform and picked up a lacey pair of black panties. By the shape and size of the tail hole I’d apparently had a Teenie Titmouse in the room. I ran an antenna over the synthetic silk undergarment and wished I could remember. Man, I had a soft spot for those giant headed, big-eared cuties—as long as they kept their mouth’s shut; I hated those high, squeaky voices.
I knew they weren’t real, just bio-engineered products of the ill-fated O’Roy Dee Isney Genetics Labs, but that didn’t bother me much. They’d built them to work their roaming imaginirum satellites; the Isney Labs were the big dogs of the sex, death, and violence business. But when family entertainment died its inevitable and timely death, the company went belly-up and the mousies went into the only line of work they were suited for, ladies for hire, and I’d hired my share.
I checked the door. Someone had sawed through the Giga-Bound hasp, no easy task. Those things are made out of grandmasbrownie-reinforced titanium. Not many things can cut through that stuff, but I was starting to get a suspicion.
I left my trench coat and the fedora with the antennae holes hanging on their pegs, slid into an old cloak and pulled up the hood. If anyone had seen me walking around I’d loose a big advantage, so the comfortable hat and coat were best left behind.