There had been another outbreak in Sarcophagus City and the Society needed someone to punch dicks, which meant they needed Billy, which meant they needed cash because that’s all Billy trusted. Notwithstanding the fact that the Society had switched to digital currency centuries ago and cash quite literally had to be printed special for Billy and then he couldn’t spend it: it was a problem that didn’t need to be created, but had.
Billy was the greatest of all the Hounds: he could smell dick three worlds away, and if he could smell it he could find it, and if he could find it he would punch it. He was an elegant equation.
The Retrievers finally located Billy on the small backworld where he had established a secondary personality. Wandering the backroads with a bunch of terrible-smelling primates, Billy was happy there. He very much enjoyed the nature of the planet, and sticking it in the 15-year-olds of this planet, and he loved it when macaroni was combined with cheese. He was retired now: any dick he punched was just to keep his eye in. (Billy liked to keep his eye in.) That’s what he told the Retrievers.
“I’m retired now.”
“Yes, we read the narration,” said the Retrievers.
Retrievers worked for the Society in the same way Hounds or Shepards did. They brought things back; they brought ideas back; they invariably brought diseases back; but most of all, Retrievers brought people back. The only reason to leave the Society was because it had fucked with you, and the Society only cared enough to fuck with people if they were valuable. The Society was bad at relationships; it loved a of people to death.
They brought people back: dead, alive, undead, frozen in carbonite, kicking and screaming, in flagrante delicto, whatever. When you were assigned a Retriever, you were coming back, plain and simple. It didn’t have to be bad: Retrievers spent all of their downtime punching mirrors and drinking from the bottle and having heart attacks, waiting for their orders: they lived for their orders. All that mattered was the Fetch. Easy was better than hard. Easy threw them off their games, sometimes: there are cases of Retrievers becoming confused by immediate surrender and jocularity, and taking their charges to a riverboat casino and then doing some gay stuff.
Much more usually, the subject resisted or tried to bargain or negotiate. The Retrievers had a number of de-escalation methods for these situations, and all of them began with breaking both (or all, depending on the species) of the subject’s arms.
Billy, however, was treated with respect: he was a Hound, and they were tough to break.
The Retrievers told him about the outbreak on Sarcophagus City, which was located on both planets on the binary system of Sodom and Gomorrah. The planets’ orbit was a 14 month cycle where one planet was livable, then the other. They had built identical copies of their city, and every fourteen months, everyone just moved. It was actually a pretty big holiday except for the dozens of folks who invariably got forgotten and broiled to death as the planet plunged towards the sun.
Gomorrah had now gotten too close to the star that, on average, provided life to the members of the Society that lived there, but it was Sodom that burned. This outbreak was worse than anything for a while, even worse than Sherpa Herpes, which couldn’t be avoided even by climbing mountains.
So Billy strapped his goggles on.
“Sarcophagus City,” Billy said as they climbed into the ship. “I was born there, you know.”
“That’s why it had to be you,” the Retriever replied.
To be continued…