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Book: The Kretins of Doctor Combobulay
Chapter 12: Balls of Destruction

Once again Panman found himself sitting inside a BULIT Diver. This time, though, he was not plummeting through the atmosphere of a giant planet. This time he was drifting at more than a 100,000 kilometres per hour behind a house-sized lump of comet, efficiently carved off by one of the Blenheim’s energy weapons.

After his experience with the previous diver’s dodgy sentience, Panman had wisely ordered Justin to remove most of the craft’s intelligence. Only the most minimal remained. Just enough maintain stability and ensure a relatively smooth entry into Droog’s atmosphere. The BULIT Diver now had less intelligence than one of Panman’s stomach implants, but slightly more than one of his boot’s odour concealment systems.

The communications panel on the curved control surface glimmered and bleeped. It was Peter the Ace calling.

Panman answered. “Yo, Ace!”

How’s everything?

“Cool! On course for entry in 22 minutes. Course set for the last known location of the sensor emissions we detected.”

Excellent! I’ll be taking the Blenheim down to the surface in a couple of minutes. I was scanned just a few minutes ago. They must have seen me by now. I’ll find the Butt-Muffin’s crash site and create a lot of noise down there. I’ll bring them out into the open as planned and let you do your stealth work.

“Awesome! This is going to rule!”

The Blenheim shuddered slightly as the friction of the thickening atmosphere took hold.

Peter the Ace looked at the image on the bridge’s main view-screen – nothing but a dark grey and brown blur of high-altitude clouds of ash.

A sweet voice spoke from the back of the bridge. “Tea!”

Jemima Murma approached Peter the Ace. She placed a large mug on the table next to the bounty hunter’s sumptuous command chair.

“Thank you.” Peter the Ace said. He looked at his assistant’s latest outfit – a long flowing orange gown that hugged her figure like nothing he had seen before. Her bleached white hair was now in two plats, tied together under her chin with a shimmering electronic bow. “Breathtaking! You have a style and sophistication that’s rarely exhibited, even by bounty hunters.”

Jemima Murma bowed deeply. “You are too kind.”

“As always I am as kind as I need to be, and no more.”

The Blenheim’s assistant bowed once more, and then looked at the main view-screen. The clouds were clearing to reveal a dark and gloomy landscape. “What a depressing vista! How sad that this world was dealt such a cruel blow of fate.”

Peter the Ace nodded. “Indeed, and they were on the verge of discovering the secret to interstellar travel, too. This culture would have made a fine addition to galactic civilisation. I was just reading about their cuisine. Their most revered and most expensive dish was marinated lizard feet, toasted for three days under a low heat, and then served cold with a spiced blood sauce. Apparently it was good luck to eat each foot with twenty precise chews. A great loss.” The bounty hunter levelled the ship at an altitude of three hundred metres and slowed its speed to a modest Mach-1. A coastline honed into view ahead. “Well, enough chit-chat. You’d better go to your quarters and strap yourself to your bed. I’m about to create a scene of attention-seeking destruction. Things will get incredibly exciting.”

“Can I watch the results on my view-screen?”

Peter the Ace nodded. “Of course.”

Jemima Murma grinned. She bowed once more, and then sprinted sexily off the bridge.

Peter the Ace looked down at the sensor information on his console’s screen. Just ahead were the obvious remains of Sind’a Thigh’s ship, half submerged in a river. It had been almost totally destroyed. Accessing the Blenheim’s vast arsenal of weapons, the bounty hunter made some shrewd selections. He targeted the nearby coastline and brought the Blenheim to a halt right over wreckage of the Butt Muffin.
A series of dull clanks broke his concentration. A voice, monotone and devoid of all emotion, shattered the quiet ambience of the bridge. “I have completed my cleaning tasks.”

The bounty hunter turned and looked at Justin. The cyborg stood at the entrance to the bridge, his bulky metallic body rigid and still. “Including the interior of the effluence compaction unit?”


“Excellent! Take a seat and watch the show.”

“I obey.” Justin muttered, stomping over to his reinforced bench at the back of the bridge. He sat down and focused his lifeless red eye units on the view-screen ahead.

Peter the Ace slammed his fist onto his control console. The ship shuddered as the topside launcher fired three missiles. The main view-screen showed their course as they rocketed towards the ocean. One of the missiles headed south, and another north. The third flew straight to a position just offshore.

The missiles detonated.

With nuclear ferocity, three immensely hot balls of destruction expanded rapidly, vaporising rock and water in an instant. For the first time in almost two weeks, light as bright as the sun illuminated the landscape.

A wave of devastation once again spread across the land and sea.

The blast wave reached the Blenheim. The ship was buffeted violently, but its shields and dampers reduced the effect to nothing more than a rumble.

Peter the Ace smiled. “Very satisfying! That should get their attention.”

Justin spoke. “Whose attention are you trying to acquire?”

“Those that caused all the destruction on this world, of course!”

On the screen, the fire balls had cooled, and now rose as black mushroom clouds, sucking up thousands of tonnes of dust from the surface.

Justin continued speaking. “It is illogical to assume that the detonation of three nuclear devices will summon those…”

Peter the Ace frowned at his metallic assistant. “And it is illogical for you to assume that it is logical that I, a first-class bounty hunter of ultimate mental sharpness and unrivalled physical brawn, have made an assumption that is illogical.”

Silently, Justin pondered his master’s words for a few seconds. And then he spoke. “That is logical.”

Peter the Ace nodded. “Indeed it is.”

Panman had chuckled as he had watched the three detonations. Although obscured by the dense clouds of ash in Droog’s atmosphere, he had clearly seen the bright orange bursts beneath. The game was on!

The planet Droog now loomed large below. Less than half a kilometre ahead the comet fragment that he had hidden behind was beginning to flare as it entered the outer edge of the planet’s atmosphere.

This was going to be one mother of a ride!

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