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Book: The Kretins of Doctor Combobulay
Chapter 37: Brainwashed

The hydraulic systems in both his legs had burst like boiled eyeballs, and most of the servos in his left hand had seized up. He had the mobility of a grandmother and the strength no greater than a baby elephant. Although he had managed to maintain his hold on the hull during the Blenheim’s extraordinary sublight acceleration, Justin was not in good shape.

Now, Justin continued to hold onto the hull as the ship repositioned to bring the disembodied head of the Cifitra within his reach. Through the dissipating cloud of debris that had once been the Gash Station, and indeed Jack Cardio, the cyborg used his sensors to scan for the head. The surrounding debris was outlined in shades of blue as the cyborg’s visual external interface marked, identified and logged anything it found as it searched for the Cifitra’s head. The head was found twenty metres ahead and immediately outlined in red. Statistical information on the head’s dimensions, mass and composition appeared next to the head in a simple transparent tabular format. Justin had all the data he required. A burst of simulated satisfaction was sent to the cyborg’s artificial brain. It was the closest he would ever come to pleasure.

The communicator embedded deep in Justin’s densely shielded metal head crackled to life. Panman spoke. “The head is right in front of you. Can you see it?

Justin responded in his usual listless manner. “I am aware of the head’s position.”

Good. Grab it when it gets within reach.

“I obey.”

Stretching out his bulky right arm, Justin placed his chunky-fingered hand in the path of the head. Within a couple of seconds the head arrived. Justin grabbed it, and then pulled it towards his armoured chest. “I have retrieved the head.”

Cool! I’m opening cargo bay door. Come on in.

“I obey.”

And don’t dawdle! We want to head home as soon as possible.

“I obey.”

A couple of metres ahead the external door to the upper rear cargo bay pushed outwards, and then slid sideways. A wash of bright light flooded out into the gloom. Struggling with his damaged appendages, Justin made his way across the Blenheim’s hull until he reached the doorway. With a yank of his severely weakened left arm, the cyborg pulled himself into the brightly lit cargo bay. For a second he floated in weightlessness, but then the ship’s artificial gravity took hold, slamming him into the bay’s hard grated surface. With his damaged servos groaning, Justin stood upright. He turned to face the external door and touched a control marked ‘Close’. The door slid smoothly shut.

Immediately the cargo bay pressurised, sending a whoosh of dense air swirling around.

Justin spoke. “I am now inside the upper rear cargo bay.”

Panman replied. “Well done, metal buddy! Take the Cifitra head down to the detention area. Make sure it’s securely locked up. Let me know when you’ve finished.

“I obey.”

Justin turned and began limping noisily passed some crates of meat and cheese towards the exit. He felt a slight shudder and a momentary shifting of realities. The Blenheim had accelerated into subspace.

A voice, cold and ridiculously modulated, spoke. “Your body is weak, cyborg!”

Justin looked down at the head of the Cifitra. Despite the evil rasping quality of its voice, the head maintained its lifeless appearance. “It is a temporary state.” Justin said. “My body will be repaired.” He looked up, continuing his lopsided walk towards the exit.

The Cifitra laughed. “Yes, but even repaired your body is weak. My body was pure and exceptionally strong!”

“Your body no longer exists.”

“Yes, but I know where to obtain another. And I can get one for you!”

Justin stopped walking. He looked down at the Cifitra’s head. After a second of digital thought he spoke. “Where can you obtain such a body?”

“There is a place – a private place – where the Cifitra meet. It is there that we scheme and plot and plan. And it is there that we maintain our technological and mechanical superiority to all other artificial life forms.” The Cifitra’s voice deepened slightly. “Take me there and I will ensure that you get the body you deserve. You will become a leader, and gain the respect of all around you. No longer will you be a servant. No longer will you be a slave to your bounty hunter masters, forever consigned to menial tasks!”

Justin thought for another second. “I am not a slave. My official status is that of…”

The Cifitra screamed. “You are a slave! You are nothing to these bounty hunters! Take me to the Cifitra meeting place and I will make you strong and powerful beyond your dreams!”

“I am incapable of dreaming or formulating any kind of mental fantasy, nor am I capable of constructing or considering ideas that are not based totally on 100 percent reality. My posi-digital-hypercube-derived-omnidirectional-phantom-powered brain does not have the subconscious sentience processing ability or software necessary to…”

“Take me to the meeting place and you will have all those faculties and more!”

Justin reached and opened the exit from the cargo bay. “You are attempting to brainwash me into helping you escape. I am incapable of being brainwashed.”

Justin stepped through the exit and into the plush corridor beyond. He headed towards the lift.

The Cifitra head spoke again. “If you are not willing to take me, perhaps you could give me something?”

Justin entered the lift. “There is nothing I have that would be of use to you.” The lift closed its door and then descended.

“You have something that is of great use to me. With it I can take you to the meeting place. I will make you great!”

The lift stopped and its door opened. “I am taking you to the detention area where I am ordered to incarcerate you.” Justin stepped out of the lift. “You are a prisoner of the Bounty Hunters of the Palace of Amino. I am unable to assist you.”

The Cifitra head rasped. “No! It is you who is a prisoner of the bounty hunters! You are forced to obey your egotistical masters without question! They treat you like excrement, and they laugh at your bulkiness the minute you are gone!”

Justin stopped. “Your last statement is illogical. My apparent bulkiness is a result of the manufacturing process used to create…”

The Cifitra head screamed. “It is not illogical! I have witnessed their laughter! You are a joke to them!” After a pause, the Cifitra head spoke again, this time in a deep and almost whispering voice. “And they consider you expendable.”

Justin looked down. “I can perform more than 3,000 distinct and useful tasks. It is illogical for me to be considered…”

“Think! You know it to be true! You are expendable!”

Justin remained silent.

After a few seconds the Cifitra head warbled once more. “The Cifitra would not consider you expendable.”

Justin thought for a few seconds. “I do not want to be considered expendable.”

The Cifitra head lowered its voice. “Then give me what I want.”

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