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Book: The Kretins of Doctor Combobulay
Chapter 13: Unevenly Plump Torso

Wearing a resplendent blue fur cloak, Sind’a Thighs stepped onto a wide terrace overlooking the Nebulon’s large spherical command centre. She took a few seconds to look around at the dimly-lit and impressively designed room. Ahead, next to the railings at far edge of the terrace, stood another blue-cloaked individual. It was Commandant Fumbla. The commandant turned and looked at the bounty hunter. He stroked his beard for a moment, and then walked forwards.

Sind’a Thigh’s bowed. “Assistant Commandant Rubella Moul reporting as ordered.” She looked up and waited for the commandant’s welcome.

With a rapid movement of his right arm, the commandant grabbed the bounty hunter’s neck and slammed her against a nearby control console. She was pushed down hard onto a large display screen. The commandant spoke with quiet menace. “I did not request an assistant. I do not need an assistant. I do not need you!”

Touching a bounty hunter without permission was a capital offence, punishable with instant Amino justice. Sind’a Thighs felt a strong urge to dish out some extreme punishment right now, but her well-developed willpower quashed that urge. Punishment could wait until later, when she would have the intense pleasure of revealing her true identity. The bounty hunter remained in character. “It is the desire of Doctor Combobulay that I serve as the assistant commandant. The desires of Doctor Combobulay must be fulfilled above all others.”

Commandant Fumbla scowled for a couple of seconds, and then released his grip. “That is true.” He looked quizzically at his new assistant. “I don’t know what it was that convinced the doctor to promote such a podgy little female to such a high position. But you will fail soon enough. I look forward to visiting you in the Example Chamber.”

Sind’a Thighs stood proudly. “I will not fail, commandant. I can assure you of that.”

Before Commandant Fumbla could respond an alarm sounded. He turned and looked across the command centre. A large view-screen next to a balcony on the opposite side was displaying three bright flashing circles. “Officer Batcheak! Report!”

The officer on the opposite balcony spoke. “Three large simultaneous detonations have been detected!”

“Where?”

“Two on the coastline not far from where that alien ship was brought down. The other was over the sea, just a few kilometres from our position.”

“What caused them?”

“A vessel was detected a couple of minutes ago flying around in that region.”

Commandant Fumbla voice boomed. “Why did you not inform me of that?!”

Officer Batcheak was visibly shaken by the commandant’s tone. “I was about to, commandant. I was collating information to present to you. I was almost finished when…”

“I demand, and always have demanded, immediate reports of such events!”

The officer bowed.

Sind’a Thighs stepped forward and stood next to the commandant. “It would be useful to see the scans of that vessel.”

The commandant glared at her. “Of course it would!” He turned back to the crew member. “Show the scans of that vessel. Now!”

Officer Batcheak nodded and fiddled with his control console. The large view-screen next to him flickered. A new image was displayed.

Sind’a Thighs’ eyes widened. She recognized the vessel’s unmistakably curvaceous design, its menacing armourment and its muscular midsection. Her idols were here. She gasped loudly.

Commandant Fumbla looked at the bounty hunter. “What’s wrong with you?!”

Sind’a Thighs smiled. “Sorry, commandant. Excess stomach acid. Too much spicy food!”

The commandant frowned, and then turned back to face the crew member. “Was that vessel responsible for the explosions?”

Officer Batcheak shrugged. “Probably, but I have no sensor information to confirm that.”

“Hmm… Keep an eye on it.” He looked up at the view-screen. One section of the screen was displaying something else. The commandant pointed. “What is that?”

The officer looked up. “That? It’s a small comet fragment we’ve been tracking. It’s just entered the atmosphere.”

Commandant Fumbla was not happy. “And why did you not inform me of that?”

Officer Batcheak’s nerves frayed a little more. “The fragment is only a few metres across. It will vaporise long before it reaches us. No threat at all. I did not feel it was worthy of your attention. Apart from the unlikely fact that it’s on a direct intercept course with the Nebulon, there’s nothing of importance about it at all.”

“An intercept course?! Are you certain it will break up?”

The officer nodded. “Yes, commandant, very certain. Its composition is water ice and a few pebbles – nothing more. I could get the Emanator to destroy it, if you would like?”

“Hmm… No, if you are certain it will vaporise then there is no need waste the energy.”

With a loud whirr, a door on the far side of the command centre opened, flooding light into the giant room. A chair trundled out from the door and along a precarious track to a small platform at the centre of the spherical room. It was, of course, Doctor Combobulay.

Commandant Fumbla immediately bowed. Sind’a Thighs followed his lead.

As soon as her chair drew to a halt, the doctor spoke. “What is that?!” She bellowed; here voice breaking into a crackle with the strain. She pointed at the screen showing the vessel that had caused the explosions.

The commandant stood tall. “It was detected a few moments ago, ma’am. It set off three large explosions. We don’t know why. We are keeping a close eye on it.”

The doctor’s face crumpled into a deep frown. “Fool! It is obviously here because of that ship we brought down earlier!”

“We don’t know that for sure, ma’am. I suggest that we keep…”

“Your suggestions get feebler by the hour!” the doctor yelled, struggling to her feet. She stood, wobbling like a mild epileptic, at the edge of her chair. “Send all Kretins to destroy that vessel!”

“All? Surely just a few would be sufficient? We are soon to send all Kretins on their primary mission. It would be best to…”

“Silence! Do as I order! That new vessel is obviously well-armed. I will take no chances!”

“But the primary mission is more…”

The doctor screamed, her voice breaking up into a rasp of fury. “This is the primary mission!”

The commandant’s eyes widened. “It is, ma’am?”

“Of course it is!”

Commandant Fumbla was confused. He bowed. “Yes, ma’am.” He looked up to the terrace above his at the terrace were the Kretin Control Team were situated. “Officer Shabakangoul? Send all Kretins to the location of the new vessel and see that it’s destroyed.”

Officer Rebeka Shabakangoul, the new Kretin Control team leader, looked down and nodded. “Yes, commandant.”

A shrill voice was heard from across the command centre. It was Officer Batcheak. “Not good!” He shouted.

A loud muffled crunch was heard. A series of strong tremors swept through the command centre. Alarms began sounding.

Doctor Combobulay fell back into her chair. “What is going on?!”

Officer Batcheak yelled. “Something hit us! The hull is breached across four decks! We’re flooding!”

Commandant Fumbla steadied himself on the railings of his terrace. “Seal off those decks. What hit us?!”

Officer Batcheak fiddled with his controls. He shook his head. “I think it was that comet fragment, but its density was too low for it to survive long enough to hit us. I don’t understand!”

Doctor Combobulay was fuming. She glowered at Officer Batcheak. “You’re ineffectiveness exceeds even my lowest expectations!” She turned to Commandant Fumbla. “Relieve Officer Batcheak of his duties. Take this ship down to a depth of two kilometres. Have Officer Batcheak expelled from the upper airlock. As soon as he is suitably crushed, have him placed and appropriately labelled in the Example Chamber with the other failures.”

The commandant nodded, and then motioned to two the security guards on Officer Batcheak’s level. Immediately, the guards grabbed the doomed officer, gagged him, kicked him solidly in the groin, and then dragged him away.

The doctor was reversing her chair. “Fix the damage to the hull and drain the effected decks, and find out what penetrated us – a job for your new assistant, perhaps? I want a detailed report from you in thirty minutes!” The doctor entered her chamber. The door whirred shut behind her.

Commandant Fumbla turned and faced his new assistant. His expression clearly gave away his anxiety. “I have no confidence in your abilities, Roubella Moul, so this task will reveal your ineptitude to all, especially Doctor Combobulay.”

Sind’a Thighs narrowed her eyes. “My abilities are far in excess of what I need to perform the duties of assistant commandant, commandant.”

The commandant grinned. “Your unevenly plump torso indicates otherwise. I shall enjoy watching you crushed.”

The bounty hunter said nothing.

The commandant continued. “Go and find out what smashed into this submarine. Now!”

Sind’a Thighs glared at the commandant for a second, and then turned. Suppressing a grin, she strode purposefully off the terrace.

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