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I have always had a dislike of the Hartufaans. The whole mouth-in-yer-tummy thing has always given me butterflies, so unnerving and strange. When they speak, do you look at one of their three heads - or their mouth? This one jabbed the business end of the huge Snook Mark VII pistol in my face.
“Fthargg!” It demanded. I looked at the abdomen-located mouth. “Karveen tutoth!
“Back off pal,” I eased the business end of the pistol to the side and away from my head. “I cannot understand you. Poking me with your toy is not helping the matter.”
One of the Hartufaan’s three heads uttered a sound, perhaps a curse word, and then one of its three arms reached up to the Transvalator - it looked like an old model - around the central neck and turned a few knobs and switches. A horrendous screech boomed from the speaker until he turned the knobs just right. The alien cleared his throat.
“Hand over the Kinsloab 3000,” said a soft and sexy female voice, he had the wrong setting on the Transvalator. People always make that mistake on the older models. The “Sexy Vixen: voice modulator setting was right next to the “Intimidating Asshole” setting. That is not the official names but after seeing this exact thing happen too often, its what I call them. The aggravated alien rolled his twenty-four eyes.
I admit it, I chuckled. He jabbed the pistol into my forehead, guess he did not find his voice mistake as funny as I did. “Okay, okay.”
I stood and he backed up a step, still keeping the pistol leveled at my head. “The Kinsloab. And no tricks,” said the sexy voice.
My eyes dropped to the mouth again, habit I guess, your eyes go to the source of the voice.
“You looking at my kernibbles? Eyes up here buddy,” the Transvalator collar turned the anger in his voice into a sultry vixen, not the effect he was going for. I chuckled again. I could not help it. I willed my eyes to one of his head. Ugh, which one? I opted for a sort of visual dance: looking at one for a bit, then another for a few seconds, then the third. Cycle and repeat.
“Look, I don’t know what your kernibbles are and I don’t want to,” I raised my hands in the air into the being-robbed pose. “The Transvalator is in my safe there in the corner. I can get it for you, just keep that finger easy on the trigger. I find my head valuable and want to keep it.”
He waved me to the corner with a wave of the Snook. “No tricksies or you will have no head. You humans are not trustworthy. Open the safe.”
“No tricks pal. You want the Kinsloab, I want my head. We can make a trade,” I moved to the safe and began spinning the dial. I knew this moment would come. I created the Kinsloab for just these kinds of alien assholes. If we dropped the Kinsloab on this guy’s homeworld, all that would remain in a week would be a pacified population. And by pacified, I mean dead. It was a world killer. How this guy found out I had completed my work and was optioning it to the government, I had no idea. I work in total secret. There must be a mole in the government, most likely in the X-Project Division, the division I worked for. “So pal, how’d you find out about my little invention?”
“Shut it human, open the safe,” was his/her reply.
“Seriously, I am curious,” I stopped spinning the dial and turned to face the stomach-mouthed, three headed, three armed, and twenty-four eyed monster. “You are going to ice me after I give the Kinsloab to you anyway. Where’s the damage?”
“Are you sure you want to know?” Somewhere hidden under the sexy voice was a presumptuous and arrogant twerp with a gun. He straightened himself and his large stomach-mouth grew a wide grin. “You have a traitor in your organization. Now open the safe! I will not ask again. More delays and you lose a foot.” The pistol lowered to aim at my right foot.
“I bet it is Chuck Hinsely. Never liked that dirty rat,” I remembered him driving a fancy new Ford last week, now I knew how he was able to afford the automobile. I spun back around and began fumbling with the dial. “Oh drat! Forgot where I was, have to start over.”
“Enough human! Open the safe!” He jabbed the pistol in the middle of my back. He was close. Perfect.
I spun the dial and opened the safe. With a bit of daring-do swath, I stood to the side of the safe and exposed the empty innards.
The Hartufaan stepped forward to examine the dark inside of the safe and lowered himself to get a better look. That was when my fist hit head number two square in the middle of the forehead. The creature grunted, a sort of sexy gasp, and reeled back. My other left hand grabbed the Snook and kept the muzzle pointed away from anything precious. With my right I struck another head, this time number one as it was on the right side. With that the Hartufaan fell back and lost his grip on the Snook, it bounced away from the fallen alien to land at my feet.
I picked up the pistol and pointed at…oh hell, the mouth? I was not sure where this guy’s most precious spot was. By the look on the twenty-four eyes, I was on the mark. “Look here pal, you are going to stay put. No funny moves.”
I hit the small switch on my belt and turned on the Commlink. “Jonesy, you hear me?”
The young voice of Robert Jones replied. “Yeah boss, I can hear you.”
“Good. Our ruse worked. I have a none too happy Hartufaan here in the lab. You want to bring up the SecurCuffs and call Director X? Let him know Hinsely is the problem.”
“You got it boss.” The comm went dead.
Two of the three hands of the Hartufaan were rubbing the two struck heads. The look in the twenty-four eyes was not a happy one. “You fooled me once human, it will not happen again. My people will get their revenge!” That darned female voice made the threat fall flat.
“Never mess with the Earth pal. The X-Division is always one step ahead of scum like you.”
- - o - -
Hartufaans are disgusting. The whole mouth in your chest thing just creeps me out, or more gross depending on how you look at it, is their smell. Disgusting breath - rotting flesh mix with twelve tons of elephant waste with a dash of five day old cabbage. Jonsey tells me the stench is due to their diet.
The smelly three-headed alien sat in the middle of the room. Two of his hands handcuffed to each other and the other hand further cuffed to the chair.
I was sure to keep clear of his breath as I spoke. "Plutharc, I am only going to ask you one more time. Where did you get the information about the Kinsloab? And don't give me that nonsense about Chuck Hinsely, we already know he told your contact. We want to know who sent you, who did Hinsely give that information to?"
All twenty-four of his eyeballs studied me. "You will get nothing from me, human scum." I had fixed the Transvalator so he now spoke to me in an appropriate deep and menacing voice. I thought a moment about changing it to the sultry female. "Nothing you can do will make me talk."
I stood and paced in front of him, "Did you know I spent time imprisoned on your homeworld?"
His eyestalks gave a little twitch and narrowed. I had his interest.
"A great philosopher once said that the best way to understand people is to see how they treat their own. When I was in the prison on Hartufaan Prime, I saw the evil you inflict on your own people," I paused for dramatic effect and studied his faces. He was thinking, trying to guess my meaning, where I was taking him. I let the gears turn a few moments, let his mind wander. I flipped on my comm, "Jonsey, bring in the Trifardoon.”
At the mention of the dreaded Hartufaan torture device the alien became quiet. His twenty-four eyes burrowed into me, glaring in defiance. Behind his eyes I could see his mind turning thoughts over, testing what he knew, what he thought I knew, and how far I would let this go.
“Did not think I would know about that, did you?” I pulled over a small table and put it directly in front of him, but just beyond his reach. Jonsey came in, a white box the size of a large in his hands. Without saying a word he placed the box on the table then turned and left the room.
“I am not going to lie to you Plutharc. Spending time in the prison on your homeworld was not pleasant. Had Trifardoon had effect on humans I would likely not be here today.
Scientists engineered this narcotic to link to your race’s DNA. In a Hartufaan, the drug’s cling to the chemical bonds at cellular level. The effect is an immediate, long lasting, and overpowering addiction that turns a Hartufaan into a slobbering zombie. But you know that, don’t you?”
I let this sink in. I can see him thinking, wondering if I could have the drug, outlawed in most systems, here with us now. He looked away, eyes darting across the floor. A bead of sweat appeared on each of his three heads. I had him.
Now to nail in the coffin.
“And I know you lost a brother and sister to the drug.”
That did it. He jumped out of the chair and charged towards me. The chain connected to the cuffs stopped him and jerked him back into the chair with a hard thump. He thrashed against his bonds and infernal roar erupted from his large, stomach-mouth. His rage continued for three minutes until exhaustion took hold and he slumped back and spittle dribbled out of his mouths. In his eyes I read submission.
I removed the lid on the box and removed the syringe and small bottle filled with the yellow Trifardoon. The alien’s many eyes locked on the bottle as soon as I lifted it the box. I placed these on the table immediately in front of him. His eyes never left the bottle.
“So you see my friend, you are going to tell us who sent you.”