A Taste of Xenos

4.69/5 (4)

‘Fear the alien. Hate the alien. Kill the alien. Eat the alien.’

– Chef Basilious III


They’ll hang this on me, I guarantee it, but I refuse to be held responsible. If the worst should come to pass and I’m no longer alive to plead my case, then let this letter speak for me.

‘It must be exquisite beyond compare. Exotic. Dangerous even. It must delight and enthral. It must be perfect.’ Those were the captain’s orders, and Emperor save me, I, a mere servant, obeyed.

My sous-chef, Livia, and I descended into the hold to scour the endless chaff deposited by the Eleusian trawlers. We held rags to our faces to fend off the stench and waded through the writhing tide of choking fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods. We separated the choicest lobefins, rays, and squid, any of which would have made for a fine repast, but none of them fit the captain’s bill. It was revolting work. Livia had offered to go in my stead with a few of the line cooks, but I would not risk any blunders on my watch. No, when the captain raised me to my new station, I vowed not to wind up like my predecessor, scrubbing sludge from inside the protein processors. I vowed to leave no margin for error, no margin for mediocrity. But as the hunt continued, I began to worry that mediocrity may be our only path forward.

Then there it was. Livia found it, half buried, only its tail visible. It took some doing, but we managed to free it from the slippery dreck. I’d never seen anything like it before. Maggot-like, but long as a man, clad in bony blue armour over a ruddy carapace, with half a dozen clawed legs, and its mouth, nearly a third the size of its body, crowded with razor-edged teeth. It was something in its blood-red eyes, though… Even dead, its gaze made me quake with fear. 

With the knowledge I have now, I wish I’d listened to my gut, I should have left the creature where we found it, but Livia reminded me of our writ. Nothing else in the haul would sate the captain’s desire. She was right.

Back in the kitchens, a bell tolled, signalling dinner service had begun. An army of footmen carried hors d’oeuvres on silver trays up to the great hall, to the captain, his officers, and the visiting delegation from the Adeptus Administratum. 

While they whet their appetites above, I considered how best to prepare the creature, but it was Livia who convinced me to cook and serve it as one traditionally would a Terran lobster—simply. Poach it in sea brine and serve with butter. 

Its shell turned from brown to crimson as it boiled. When it was finished, a pair of cooks lifted it from the vat and laid it on the countertop. They peeled and scraped away the armour, then split the back open to reveal the tender, white meat inside. I commended my staff, assured them of the captain’s pride in their work, and ordered the footmen to deliver it to the hall above.

But there was no reprieve during dinner service, and we still had dessert to prepare. Thirty minutes later, as cakes were being removed from the oven and sauces drizzled over flaky pastries, there was a sudden crash from the corridor outside. 

Silence fell over the kitchen. 

A serving tray was still wobbling on the deck when I emerged into the corridor. Broken dishware strewn everywhere. One of the footmen lay against the bulkhead, a hole in his neck, gushing blood. Before I even reached his side, I heard it—a terrified scream from the hatchway, from the deck above. I froze. A lasgun cracked. Glass shattered. Alarms sounded, emergency lights flashed, more lasguns joined the first.

Livia burst out of the kitchen, yelling something. She looked past me, her eyes wide. I turned. Panic washed over me, my vision tunnelled, and the deafening sound of my own blood pumping in my ears drowned out everything else completely. A figure stood in the hatchway at the end of the corridor, silhouetted, but there was no doubt that it wore an officer’s uniform. The strobing emergency lights flashed over its face, only it was hardly a face at all, but a mass of melted flesh, gnashing teeth, and eyes—blood-red. More figures appeared behind the first. Then they charged towards us. 

I ran. 

The walk-in freezer was dead ahead. I made for it, tore the door open, turned to shut it, saw Livia sprinting towards me. The things were right behind her. There was nothing I could do.

The look in her eyes… 

I slammed the door shut, and they crashed into it. The screams and hammering against the other side… 

The things tried to break through, but the door was plated steel, and I destroyed the latch control. Eventually they abandoned the effort to get in, but now I’m trapped. I heard more lasguns, and I cried for help, but none came.

It’s so cold in here. I can hardly feel my fingers to write any more, and the refrigeration system can’t be disabled from inside. Despite the constant fear and adrenaline coursing through me, unconsciousness threatens to overtake me. Before it does, I must restate my innocence. I was at the whim of the captain and his demands. But now, as I write this, I see the events with newfound clarity. After all, it was Livia who found the beast, Livia who pressed for it despite my apprehension and misgivings, Livia who ran it through the scanners, cleaned it, and suggested the method by which we ought to cook it. Was this all ignorance on her part? A simple mistake? Or something more sinister? I can only speculate. 

Emperor protect me and guide any who read this, so that they might see the truth.

About the Author

A. R. Yemruk is a Canadian writer, photographer, trash wizard, and model maker with a passion for grimdark and comedic stories focused on everyday, ordinary people in sci-fi and fantasy setting.