CHOPSTICKS TO THE RESCUE
She saw it all from afar. And then from real close up.
We all know Solos are pheromonically keyed into any human/hybrid who’s a registered member of a Floating Home family. There were a couple of calls for domestic assistance i.e. taxi work, within her pheromonal range, but the plume of chemical panic exhibited by one source was too great to ignore, over-riding all other calls. She flew as fast as she could to help the stricken pair, not sure who or what was attracting her attention yet. Very soon, she saw that it was a Hybrid boy. An armour-plated dog-shaped Re-Wilded was ineffectively attempting to defend the kid from an absolutely enormous Flocker that rose up out of the tree canopy like a demon; something that had the capacity to wreak Biblical doom upon its two diminutive adversaries.
Flockers were a strange and ruthless breed bioengineered from the lowest of the Industry’s corporate low: the interns, the PAs, the generally disgruntled in their place of work yet unable to pull their thumb out their asses because of career inertia, or just plain lack of confidence in their chosen role. The bitterest the Industry could foster. Natural Lottery had analysed all the piss-room reports and elected to promote these downtrodden masses into a Judge & Jury police force to uphold the Free Planet one-law of do right by.’
Flockers, the united front against private profit and asset exploitation, were a brutal bunch of bastards; their touch could turn their interrogatees bones against them, they were masters of keeping interrogatees alive for eternity no matter what physical horror they ignited in their flesh. They rarely went on the Random Offensive. And never like this. Ruthlessly. Cannibalistically, of course, because all the results of Natural Lottery were human in whatever fantastical costume, in whatever form or arrangement or grouping they appeared.
Abi Chopsticks barrelled down into the thick forest as fast as her tiny skin-wings would throb; the intense whining of her flesh was so sharp, so piercing, that she gave herself a mini-migraine. She’d been listening to the pair’s claims and counter-claims, the accusations and recriminations, in an off-hand fashion for minutes before the alarm flared up like a sun spot.
She’d already calculated that the boy would probably live, if only she could get to him before the touch of the Flocker cast its morbid shadow across him. The pre-historic dog-like Re-Wilded who had been defending the hybrid boy for the last few minutes was done for.
Sure, he was kicking, scratching, wriggling and biting with all his substantial strength but already his bones and his ligaments and his blood and his skin had been turned into his most deadly of enemies by the touch of his assaulting Flocker.
Abi dodged and swerved through the tangle of trees as she heard the final death-blow being delivered to the hapless Re-Wilded. A heartless crushing of bones, under foot or jaw, she couldn’t yet see. Then her smooth peanut-shaped body burst into the clearing made by the Flocker’s clumsy dance. They were beside a lake. This lake had once been called Lake Geneva, and the town of Geneva used to mostly surround its south-western perimeter. Not any more, now it was mostly forest or woodland, all houses and architecture having been reclaimed by the Natural Lottery process. But we’ll go into that more later.
Anyone who remembered the publicly-aired death of Asalah Al Faghori at the hands of a corporate assassin who looked like Vierland Brecke, but was probably some sort of Triple C or Captured Character Creation that was used more and more often in the dying moments of The Industry, will recognise what became of her husband Rotimi Ogunjobi. In fact, this particular Evertainment cross-section had been grabbed into the Thinkterface of Wall and Hand and passed on to the newer inhabitants of Free Planet in daily sessions for the last four years.
Jaw, she saw it as she looped up to tree-top level to get a better view of the horror as it unfolded. Everything on a Flocker is made up of some parts of human anatomy/personality from the inter-racial DNA of the members to the actual communal characteristics of the individuals, the ids multiple. All the anatomical details of these giants were decorated with the fleshy memories of the people who made up this chimera as it shifted form with function like some clever street magician shuffling Schroedinger’s Coin around inside his beaten metal cups.
The enormous hand of the Flocker had hold of the flank of the Ogunjobi-like dog-thing and the equally enormous mouth was pulling the torso away from the lower spine in a dazzling geyser of blood and bodily fluids.
Cannibalism, when you know that all Natural Lottery past-historical species are Human Beings in various evolutionary or functional guises, that’s all you can call it.
“No!” shouted the young hybrid lad at the top of his cracking voice. She scooped him swiftly and efficiently into her gaping maw and airlifted him to safety, rising quickly into the clear blue sky. Behind them, the Flocker discarded his meal and gave chase. This wouldn’t last for long. Flockers were notoriously lacking in physical stamina and were notoriously lazy Inquisitors, only putting in the effort when it was delivered to them on a plate or in person, like right under their nose. They weren’t much for search and destroy, more like enjoy the meal placed before them. Rarely ever did a Flocker waste energy exerting themselves beyond the bare minimum of their Free Planet remit.
“No!” the boy screamed inside her. It was quite painful, all that scrabbling around inside her cavity, as he tried to look back at what had happened to his pet and what was chasing them.
“What are you doing?” he shouted inside her volume. It took him a few more goes at screaming and shouting before he remembered the Skinterface. They were now very far from the lumbering (and tiring) Flocker. She was just about to sedate the lad when he put his hand to her inner surface and they could link as is done in FH’s all over Free Planet.
“Stop! Stop!” He was still in a mad panic. “What are you doing?”
“Saving you from a fate worse than death,” Abi said.
You have to take me back, he Think‘d.
“You’ve nothing to save. It’s all over for your Re-Wilded friend. May his manure be returned to the soil of Free Planet and father future generations of plant life, future trees, future lives;” They always recite this mantra when one of them passes over.
“Shut up! shut up! Let me out! Un-prison me!”
She couldn’t stand it; he was thrashing about, scratching at Abi’s delicate inner membranes and he was either going to hurt himself of injure her. She evacuated all the air from her inner cavity and put him to sleep.