Tête á Tête

“I need to find a man.”

Jahobie Muranme let out a huge, cracked-tooth grin at the dark fellow across the table from her. “There’s Long Trousers’ down the street. Betcha you could fin’ some hunk to brokeback with ‘fore the night is over.” Jahobie slung her right arm-the real one, without the blades-behind the back of her chair and clinked the ice in her glass suggestively. The dark man’s expression did not change.

“Very droll. That must be endlessly useful in your line of work. I am looking for this man.” The dark man slid a black sheet of plastic on the dirty table, and tapped it twice. A three-dimensional image of a man’s head hovered above the table. Jahobie took mental notes; defined brow, set jaw. Nose had been broken twice before.

“’E got a name?”

The dark man tapped the plastic again and the head dissipated. He rolled the sheet up and pushed it across the table toward Jahobie. “As far as you’re concerned, no. He is #6.”

“That make you #1?”

“Not in the slightest. Bring this man to me, by whatever means necessary.”

“Whateva’ means, eh? You care iffin he’s alive?”

A bemused half-smile slunk out from behind the dark man’s blank expression. “Not particularly, no. He is not going to be very willing to come back with you, so I imagine lethal force will be necessary. Which is why we are giving you this, in the event of #6’s demise.” The dark man hefted a large steel cylinder on the table by the handle on it’s top. It gleamed in the dim light, out of place in a dingy bar like this.

“Whut’s that?”

“Simple cryogenic canister, not much more than a can of liquid nitrogen, really. But it should suffice. Don’t bother bringing back the body; we only require the head.”

“Just…the head.”

“Yes. The body is meaningless.”

“Whut’s in the head?”

“You do not need to know.”

Johobie crossed her arms, the steel blades on her left arm facing out. “Unless it’s something that’ll fall out, or he’ll remove ‘fore I get there, and then I get a bum kick for me troubles. No, sir, this ain’t amateur night. What’s in the head?”

“Information. As long as you freeze the head within an hour of death, we will be able to extract enough of his mental state to graft it onto another living being. Obviously, something smaller and more docile. Current vote is a terrier, but I am of the opinion that a six-year-old girl might be more preferable. Terriers, after all, still have teeth.”

“Yeah ’spose they do.” The clear joy the man’s face radiated when discussed the fate of this “#6” made Jahobie squirm. She had wanted the see some other expression on the man’s face sent they met, but now that she saw it… She was almost relieved to see the man regain his composure as he removed a black card and placed it on Jahobie’s side of the table.

“This card contains half of what we promised. Once we have #6, you shall receive another. I shall leave the canister with you.”

Jahobie pocketed the card and the rolled-up holo-sheet. She was surprised that the dark man did not get up when she did. “Queer business you got going here, you don’t mind me saying.”

“I am afraid I would have to care a great deal more in order to mind. Remember, it is not your head that we are paying you for.”

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