Arlen Waller sat in the exclusive dining room of the Fine Blessing and sipped his tea. He was hungry, but he made it a point, whenever he was meeting someone in a restaurant, to never eat until the other party had arrived. They knew what he wanted, and it would show up at just the right time.
He glanced at his watch, a rather complicated timepiece because of the complexity of what it was tracking. His retinal post-processors deciphered the data for him automatically. Thrace was nearing disjunction, it seemed. His party would have to arrive soon or their mission would be worthless.
As he was picking up his cup for another sip, he heard a commotion in the antechamber. This would certainly be his party. Arlen made a barely-perceptible gesture to the maitre d', and soon the scuffle resolved itself.
A bronze-skinned warrior, almost out of breath, strode up to Arlen's table. He leaned his javelins against the coatrack, after scanning the other diners to see if any of them posed an immediate threat. He retained his grip on his crescent-shaped wicker shield, though.
"Rhascuporis, I presume?" Arlen said dryly.
The warrior nodded. On cue, the waiters arrived with the food. Rhascuporis barely waited for the plate to be set down in front of him before he picked up the hamburger and took a huge bite. Arlen shuddered inwardly, though he should be inured to the manners of these barbarians by now. Hopefully he'd at least wait until he'd finished before trying to talk.
Thankfully, he did, but it took Rhascuporis less than a minute to wolf down the entire burger. Arlen had only taken a few bites, enough to assert his claim to the food, not enough to actually make him sick. He had part of his sensory system wired to suppress taste input in these situations.
The Thracian warrior looked at the rest of the food offerings. He took a handful of fries and crammed them into his mouth, then grunted and shoveled in more. He stared more dubiously at the metal cup with the chocolate milkshake inside it. He ran one finger down the outside, where even in the cool air of the restaurant drops of condensation were starting to form. Then he dipped that same filthy finger into the chocolate itself, brought it to his nostrils and sniffed. He then licked it off, then spat on the ground.
"So, what do you think?" Arlen asked. The words came out of his mouth as unintelligible gibberish, whatever it was they spoke in Thrace, Ancient Greek or something like that, he thought.
"The 'Whopper' is good," Rhsacuporis said. "Better than the 'Big Mac'. The fries are okay. But what is the cold crap in the metal cup?"
"Chocolate milkshake," Arlen said. "Never mind. So, do we have a deal?"
"Yes," Rhascuporis said. Since the Thracian warrior--some kind of tribal leader, Arlen seemed to recall--was illiterate and probably wouldn't understand contract law in any case, Arlen merely recorded his agreement and retinal pattern and transmitted it to the central contract holding databank.
"It's been a pleasure meeting you," Arlen said. The lies came so easily, after so many years of practice. "We look forward to opening up Thrace's first 'Burger King'."
Rhascuporis grunted, then looked over Arlen's shoulder. Arlen's proximity alarms gave off a belated warning, and he ducked as a primitive metal slug ricocheted off of the table, cracking but not shattering the tempered glass. Rhascuporis had already brought up his shield, though whether wicker would do any good against the lead pellets Arlen had no idea. He was also reaching for one of his javelins, and he flung it in one fluid motion. The missile flew true, and the purple figure, impaled, collapsed to the floor. After a brief pause to see if there was going to be any more excitement, conversation resumed at nearby tables.
"I saw one of this kind before," Rhascuporis said as he returned from retrieving his weapon. "I thought that it looked like the kind of abomination that would do more than merely entertain children."
Arlen nodded. The appearance of the would-be assassin, the product of some genetic vat somewhere, was obviously intended to implicate the Golden Arches, but they were too clever to act so openly. Unless it was merely a double-blind. Well, it had failed in its mission, so it didn't matter. There would be a shaking of lawyers at each other, and it would all blow over. The Arches had lost this round, but there were many worlds out there, all eager for fast, convenient, delicious food.
Arlen rinsed the taste of the Whopper out of his mouth as the Thracian leader departed to transfer back to his plain. The waiters brought him his real dinner. How anyone could eat that crap, he had no idea.