The ceiling above the Meathab spaceport was the color of hamburger torn from some dead cattle -- but it was very much alive. Diminutive lizard things crawled over it, sloughing away the parts that were really dead. In the fleshy red-lit space below, arrivals from the most recent shuttle, Octojean Veinous among them, queued for orientation.
Veinous expected he'd be tiring of red lighting quickly, but worse was the feeling of being in something's belly, alive, consumed. His chromatophores kept veering off toward red, and his tentacles pressed in toward his body, unwilling to expose themselves. There was no place to hide here.
There were no real immigration procedures, either. Meathab was pure anarchist space. A bobble-headed bouncer was giving a spiel, sounding more like a docent at an art museum than a customs officers. Which made sense. "Turn Yourself Into A Giant Mass of Space Meat for Art" was, after all, the full name of this habitat. Her head was much too large, Veinous noted. Some kind of megacephalic menton/bouncer? He was mostly ignoring her, though.
Octojean Veinous was here on a job.
[Pippi,] he messaged his muse, [Where's my client?]
Mapping it for you now, sir. A path through a series of sphincter-doors and peristalsis lifts appeared. His client was in the classy part of town -- if any real estate in what was essentially the back passage of a giant, living tube steak could be called classy.
Veinous reached the place quickly. Meathab didn't have many residents; he encountered no one in the fleshy corridors. He preferred it that way. The habitat itself was company enough.
When he reached his client's sphincter door, it irised open with a soft, puckering noise. The apartment inside was a welcome change from the rest of the place, lit in dreamy blues and violets. An AR rendering of The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife hovered over a huge, circular bed made atop a fleshy protrusion of the floor.
An aficionado, not just someone feeling experimental, he thought. Good. This one might turn out to be a regular.
[Please make yourself comfortable,] the room messaged him, [Mistress will return shortly.]
This one would be into it if he lurked, he deduced, so he compacted himself behind the bed and waited.
Not long after, he heard someone enter the room, slide onto the bed, and stretch out.
"Where are you, tako-san?"
He recognized the voice. Two of his tentacles reached over and found her wrists, and then he slithered up on to the bed with her. The docent from immigration? He wondered again just why her head was so big. Never mind that. He got down to business.
[The explicit passage at this point will be included in the full e-book version of this story. It is omitted here out of courtesy to more sensitive audiences.]
"How did I do?" she asked, languid in his tentacular embrace.
"You were exceptionally stimulating," he whispered.
"Good," she said, suddenly tensing, "Your kind always taste better after arousal."
Her face, her huge head... split. Open. Suddenly he was staring down a giant maw.
Octojean Veinous didn't panic. He was no normal octo-prostitute -- he was a Firewall sentinel, too. This wasn't the first time a client looking for octo-sex had turned out to be in it for the sashimi.
And this wouldn't be the first time having his natural ink sac modified to house a Factor symbiote would save his ctenidium, either.
"Bloomberg, go!" he said, compressing his sac. The factor shot out of his ink duct, smacking wetly into the exsurgent's abdomen and injecting venom from a mass of stalks near its "head."
The exsurgent bobblehead shrieked and spasmed, but Veinous didn't wait to see whether the venom would work. He grappled her with two tentacles, used a third to retrieve Bloomberg (who clung happily to his epidermis and puffed a cloud of murderous joy), and from the rest popped cybernetic claws.
All five struck at once, Veinous's boosted reflexes moving them in a nightmare blur of whipping strands and flying gore. He could have skeletonized her in under a minute, but killing her would be enough. So that's what he did. He killed her -- thoroughly.
The excitement over, Bloomberg oozed back through his ink duct to nestle happily inside of him.
Veinous surveyed the carnage. There was a fuck ton of it.
[Get me a secure channel to the Eye. Looks like Meathab's back on the menu.]
For more of the eight-fisted adventures of Octojean Veinous, cephalopod gigolo and Firewall sentinel, stay tuned for next month's e-book release of KILL WARD-9: AN OCTOJEAN VEINOUS ADVENTURE!