the help of her two maids, Doctor Satsuma Combobulay eased herself down
into her chair. Her bladder was empty, and she was clean again. At least
for the next few minutes, anyway. She looked up at the maids. “You
may go.” She said softly, and then paused for effect before screaming.
The maids bowed, and then left the doctor’s chamber.
Doctor Combobulay sighed, and then leaned back, relishing the moment of
peace. And then the communications panel on her chair’s arm warbled.
With the knobbly index finger of her wizened right hand, she pressed the
answer button. “I hope you have some good news for me, Commandant
“Yes, ma’am. An intruder has been captured down on deck seven.”
The doctor grinned. “Very good! I assume it was my new assistant commandant
that captured the intruder?”
The commandant’s response was not immediate. “It was, ma’am.
She said that the prisoner wishes to meet with you.”
“Interesting. See that the intruder is brought up to my interview
chamber. I wish to look into this infiltrator’s eyes and see their
reaction as I inform them of their fate.”
“Assistant commandant Moul is approaching with the prisoner now. I
will send them to you.”
“Very good, commandant.” The doctor ended the communications
link. She laughed inanely for a few seconds, and then drove her chair out
of her chamber.
The wide door sank into the floor at freefall speed. Panman stepped forwards
and entered the small domed chamber beyond. He was closely followed by
Sind’a Thighs, whose pistol was wedged firmly into the base of his
The chamber was wide and ornately decorated with vile and uncoordinated
artwork, a clue as to the depraved and deluded mind of the designer. A
bearded man dressed in a blue fur cloak, stood in the chamber.
Sind’a Thighs spoke to him. “Commandant. I am here with the
prisoner as ordered.”
The bearded man nodded. “Good. Doctor Combobulay will be here shortly.
A shrill and crackly voice shouted. “She is here now!”
Panman looked to the right. An old lady, wizened and feeble-looking, sped
into the chamber on a heavily built wheelchair. The chair stopped at the
Panman was surprised. “Whoa! I knew you were an ancient and wrinkly
old woman, but I did not expect you to be this old and wrinkly! Disgusting!”
A strange smell, like a mixture of urine and roses, entered his nose.
He screwed up his face. “Oh! You’re truly disgusting!”
The doctor struggled to her feet. Her legs trembled. “Silence!”
Panman grinned, pleased with his psychological manipulation, but said
Doctor Combobulay looked at Sind’a Thighs. “Assistant Commandant
Moul, your performance is outstanding. Again you have impressed me!”
Sind’a Thighs bowed. “Thank you, doctor.”
“You may remove your weapon from the neck of the intruder. This
chamber’s weapons systems will protect me from any aggression.”
Sind’a Thighs re-holstered her pistol inside her cloak.
Panman looked around; taking note of the automatic weapons systems that
had focused on him. There were four.
Doctor Combobulay spoke to the bounty hunter. “Your entry into this
vessel was impressive.”
Panman nodded. “I know.”
“And your insolence is even more impressive.”
“It’s not insolence. It’s complete confidence in my
considerable intellect and ability.”
The doctor laughed, bringing up a massive collection of phlegm that dribbled
down her bony chin. A maid appeared out of a side entrance. With a large
white cloth, she wiped the doctor’s chin. The maid bowed, and then
disappeared through the exit. “You were captured easily by my assistant
commandant. That does not make your last statement very believable!”
Panman grinned. “Perhaps I planned to be captured? Perhaps your
assistant commandant is really one of my kind - an infiltrator –
keen to see your demise in the most wild, unruly and lengthy manner possible?”
“Ha! Your obvious attempt to turn me into a paranoid mound of jelly
has failed! My assistant commandant is as loyal as it is possible to be.
Is that not right, Assistant Commandant Moul?”
Sind’a Thighs nodded. “Indeed it is, doctor.”
The doctor glared at Panman. “See!!!”
Panman frowned. “I find it hard to believe you’re in charge
of this operation.”
The doctor raised her head. “Believe it! I am the mind and soul
behind what has happened on this world. I am the intelligence behind the
mechanism used to bring billions of tonnes of rock crashing down. I am
the designer of the motivational books and movies that keep my crew focused
on their tasks. And I am the sole formulator of the mission of the Kretins,
a mission that is, at this moment, being carried out!”
“What mission is that?”
Doctor Combobulay laughed once more, this time catapulting phlegm and
saliva onto the chest panel of Panman’s environment suit. “You
do not have the mental capacity to understand.”
“I believe I do.”
The doctor was quiet for a few seconds. She looked Panman up and down.
“The fact that you are Panman, a first-class bounty hunter from
the Palace of Amino, means that you are simply a tool of the Supreme Beings
– nothing more.”
Panman was momentarily stunned at the doctor’s mention of his identity
and origin. He recovered instantly. “I am not surprised that you
know of me. I am legendary, and feared amongst the defecation-brained
miscreants of the core systems.”
“You are not legendary to me, bounty hunter. You are an annoyance
– nothing more!”
Panman continued his advanced psychological attack. “I am well aware
of all the worst and most atrocious villains. I don’t know you,
though. That could be for one of only two reasons: either you are a new
villain, fresh from the depraved breeding grounds of such nefarious beings,
or you are simply a pathetic loser who has achieved nothing in her long
life that would draw the attention of the Palace of Amino.”
The doctor screamed; her voice crackling like a dirty old transistor radio.
“Silence! I am powerful and successful!”
“I doubt it. Whatever you’ve been up to during your obviously
long life, it has not attracted our attention. The importance of your
activities must be negligible.”
“My activities have never been negligible! They are always momentous!”
Panman grinned. “No, definitely negligible. And because I am unaware
of your activities, they must also be negligible failures.”
Doctor Combobulay shrieked. “I am momentous!”
Panman shook his head slowly. “Pitiable, that’s what you are
- truly pitiable. I am ashamed even to look at you.” He looked down
at the floor, continuing to shake his head slowly. “Pitiable.”
The doctor, obviously agitated beyond belief, struggled to maintain her
stance. She failed, flopping back into her chair. Raising her bony right
arm, she pointed at Panman. “Crush him! Crush him now!”
The bearded commandant, who had been standing patiently to one side, drew
a pistol from within his cloak. A wry smile spread across his hairy face.
He stepped towards Panman.
It was to be the commandant’s last step.
With the speed of an ovulating chuggasaur, Panman grabbed the commandant’s
arm and crushed his wrist. With his other hand the bounty hunter ripped
the pistol from the commandant’s hand, and then elbowed him hard
in the face, crushing the bone and cartilage in his nose. Successfully
sidestepping the first discharge from the chamber’s automatic weapons
system, Panman aimed and fired. The commandant’s beard burst into
flame as his neck vaporised. Before the commandant’s severed head
and body had even hit the floor, Panman had turned and fired on two of
the chamber’s weapons systems, rendering them inactive.
Sind’a Thighs, noticing her superior’s move, had taken action
herself. Dropping to her knees, she aimed and fired her pistol, neutralizing
the other two automatic weapons systems in the room.
After a second of bone-crushing, skin-burning, spark-flying mayhem, silence
reigned for a moment. Now, both bounty hunters had their pistols trained
on Doctor Combobulay.
The doctor glared at Panman, and then at Sind’a Thighs. “You
treacherous little harlet!”
Sind’a Thighs fired, burning a neat hole through Doctor Combobulay’s
right shoulder. “Use that tone with me again and I’ll open
up your stomach!”
The doctor winced, and then smiled. With the flick of a switch, her chair
spun round and headed for the exit at the back of the chamber.
Panman and Sind’a Thighs fired, burning huge gashes into the chair’s
obviously well-armoured back.
Panman pulled a grenade from his utility belt. “Down!” He
shouted, as he hurled the explosive. The back of the chamber erupted into
a ball of white flame. A shock wave thundered through the chamber.
Sind’a Thighs looked up. The rear exit had closed just in time to
absorb the blast. Doctor Combobulay was nowhere to be seen.