The message from Oblivion Central was clear to Treflin Karmora as it travelled from her skin- grafted Smegophone to her kar-refrontal brain. For a first-order governmental emissary, forgetfulness was not uncommon, and she sadly recalled Mombool in her place long ago, searching for any way, every way to countermand that order.
There was hardly time to complete a lifeís work with dignity, and bitter recriminations spewed from her mind to Intime Computagraph 17. A sense of hollow anxiety echoed from the rubbery panels.
"The galaxy is at war and I have not a quarter Earth-hour to live," she telekined. "I am needed."
The response from Oblivion was fast and sure: "Count 13. Check for Preserved Entity mode."
She froze at the concept. Preserved Entity. Pickle in a thermobottle. Shrunkhead-on-a-stick pops. Hermseal cornchops. Leatherhyde.
"Special output. Negative confirmation on Preserved Entity mode. Intime notice X-13. More follows."
Treflin Karmora swung around to the Kinevue to confirm what her neuronoids had just sensed from the Smegophone. With horror and loathing, she telekined a powerful message in her best Unicommandese:
"Karmora 14Cgh98/7B Treflin, First-Order Emissary InterMutant Galactic Associated Malpractice League. Intime notice Z-0 intervention. Immediate override on digiclock. Immedia...."
She slumped into the W/Chair, signals crossed at Central, and small beads of sweat on her forehead solidified into a crystalline dew not unlike mustard stains on a new Krystoflex " hard, cold and ominous.
No longer did the Smegophone transmissions reach her kar-refrontal beans, no longer could communication of any known kind (sentient or sludge) rouse her. For the next eight minutes, color and form changes took place until Treflin Karmora was a perfectly spherical, sky blue, galactorock-solid mass. This, as Oblivion Central reached Count Zero, was a state of Directed Full Death.
Melin and Forsander wet their sweetbed exopants with grief, as far out on Mokus 5 the cinders had begun to cool. Heads lowered and tearful glances were exchanged. Then, without warning, a series of blurms concussed from the Scramble-o-phon and mu-startled the late Treflinís siblings. The meaning of those blurms glacially became clear to them.
"Computatime Backlog... process delayed... unable to issue CertiDeath forms... please hold. Intime notice HH-1."
The galactic war was even affecting the dead! Could it be that this strong-willed former astrowrestling heroine " who had defeated Lou pneu-Albano in both the astrowrestling ring and in the last free Eastern United StateWorld elections " was to be granted a few extra moments of life because of a bureaucratic morass? Would this stunning intergalactic beauty contest runner-up hold onto life, in spite of her hard, blue, spherical shape, for a few precious minutes longer? Could a computer backlog light-years away protect the life of Treflin Karmora, leader of raid after bloody raid in the Slasherprod Olympics, for another oh-so-dear lobotomic span?
The Scramble-o-phon spoke once again. "Thank you for hold... CertiDeath form issued... end transmission. Intime notice Zero."