Beyond the sloping observation window was another great grey space supported by the same huge columns he'd passed in the factory. The area was filled with belts conveying Promass through flickering detector beams. Stolid three-fingered Workers waited impassively on grids.

'Right,' P6 said. 'I'll give you the overview.' He pointed at the panorama. 'Promass comes from the meat works and intensive farming bays to this central clearing area.'

'What are W-class doing down there?'

'They drag things off, clear up spills, take contams to waste bins. General crud.'

'Bots could do that.'

'Bots are lousy at general ops. You can't really automate—what do they call it—menial labour? But even dumb-dumb class organics can handle kick-shit stuff. For this part of the line, apart from quality checks, tech-intensive would be Unutil.' He pointed up at the screens. 'Those are the areas we monitor. Mushroom tunnels, snail, insect and worm farms, grain-crop aquaculture, fertilizer plant, abattoir...'

He stared at the displays. One scene stood out. Squat humanoid carcasses—minus heads, offal, forearms and lower legs—moved up a ratcheted chute. He pointed at it. 'What's that? The abattoir?'


'We Promass W-class?'

'Yup. W-class is streamed for protein as well as hard graft. Compact. Good muscle tone. And they don't give a stuff 'cause they don't know.'

'What about us?'

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