The menacing form of the Blenheim slinked efficiently through the realms
of deepest sub-space.
"Kill it Dick!" Panman shouted.
"Step on it - quick!"
A massive explosion of unbeatable digital clarity sent debris and body
parts flying in all directions. The image of desolation on the holo-table
faded from view and was replaced by the words 'TOO SLOW, BUDDY!' The deca-phonic
surround sound system played a macabre tune.
Panman looked at Dick Burton. "If you'd pressed the stomp button
when I told you to, you'd have survived and progressed to level two."
"This game is too hard!" Dick said. He placed the control pad
on the table.
Panman shook his head slowly. "I disagree. I find 'Stomp the Detonating
Mechanoid Squirrels into Unrecognizable Blobs' a rather mellow and relaxing
game. I selected it for you because I thought it'd be suitable for your
standard of game play."
"Then the difficulty level was set too high!"
"On the contrary," Panman said, "I set it to 'Utter Retard'.
Even someone with limited mental ability and an uncontrollable neck spasm
should be able to play it. I myself managed to complete all three thousand
levels effortlessly when it was set to 'Impossibly Ultra-Mega-Incredible-Genius'."
Dick got to his feet. "It is beneath me to play holo-games."
He said defiantly.
"Nonsense! Sit back down. Let's try a game of 'Assault of the Tooth
Grinding Belly Drainers' instead!"
Before Dick could say anything, the communicator bleeped.
Panman answered. "Yo?"
"Panman?" Peter the Ace said. "What are you up too?"
"I'm showing Dick some of our sensational holo-games. I thought that
they'd cheer him up."
"No. He claims that they're beneath him."
"His claim is wrong!" Peter the Ace said sternly. "If the
games are not beneath you and me, they can't possibly be beneath him."
"To right!" Panman said. He looked at Dick. "Did you hear
"Of course I did!" Dick shouted.
"Don't get annoyed, we're only trying to help."
"How can a few holo-games compensate for the fact that my bread empire
"Be positive about the situation. Now you can build a bigger and
better feasting tower somewhere much more interesting!"
"That's too difficult!"
"Not with our guidance."
"What guidance can you give me?"
"Plenty. Because I love your bread products so much, I have come
up with a plan that will please you beyond comprehension!"
Dick's annoyance changed to mild excitement. "Tell me!"
"Later." Panman said.
"Tell me now!" Dick shouted, annoyed again.
"I'll tell you after we've sorted out Ross Mental's problem."
Panman faced the communicator. "Ace? How long until we arrive at
"Two hours." Peter the Ace said. "I've ordered Justin to
prepare us a huge feast so that we're all fed before we reach our destination."
"Indeed, and seeing we have guests on board, I thought that we should
eat in the banqueting room."
"Even cooler! We haven't used that room before!"
"Correct, and it's about time that we did. I've told Lisa and Maggie,
they're already seated. Be there as soon as you’re ready."
"No problem. Panman out." He turned to Dick. "Let's go
Panman leaned back in his weapons console chair and patted his belly.
It groaned. His stomach's electro-skin maximum tension lining was operating
at full power. Without it, Panman's gut would have exploded under the
pressure of what could be the most that he'd ever eaten during one meal.
The banquet was a complete success.
"How do you feel?" Peter the Ace asked, bounding onto the bridge
and cart-wheeling into his command chair.
"Great!" Panman answered.
"Until that banquet, I thought that I'd seen you eat a lot, but the
amount that you just ate beats anything that I've seen before!"
"Damn right!" Panman said proudly. "I went to sickbay and
scanned myself. I consumed exactly forty-two point eight kilograms of
"You’re an unstoppable devouring machine!"
"Absolutely! In fact, I'm thinking of entering the Odious Sector's
Over-Ingestion Contest next Year."
"Wow!" Peter the Ace said, impressed. "Some of the beings
that enter that competition are awesome eaters, and many die from intestinal
ruptures shortly afterwards. Entering would earn you extraordinary respect
at the palace."
"That's true, but I'd be entering for the gargantuan free meals,
not respect. I have an unbelievable amount of that already!"
The communicator bleeped. A fast, rhythmic panting sound played over the
"What's that?" Panman asked.
"I'm not sure?"
Panman's augmented analytical brain implants searched for a plausible
explanation. "Maybe some bizarre sub-spacial breath freak is utilising
it's fiendish powers in an insidious attempt to intrude into our ship
via a communications channel?"
"Possible." Peter the Ace said thoughtfully. "If that were
true, our defence systems would have little effect upon it, and our minds
and bodies would be open to appalling castigation on a scale never before
experienced by ephemeral beings!"
"We should energize our 'Personal Non-Corporeal Entity Repulsion
Packs' just in case!" Panman suggested.
Peter the Ace listened to the sound once again. "Maybe we have been
too hasty!" he said.
"How do you mean?"
Peter the Ace smiled. "I think our two female humanoid passengers
are getting active again. Listen!"
Panman listened to the panting. "You're right! It does sound like
"Lisa, Maggie." Peter the Ace said, operating the communications
panel. "You're leaning on the control panel in your quarters and
interfering with communications. Move away from it please."
"Oh I will!" One of the females gasped.
"Yes! Yes!" The other female moaned.
The channel fell silent.
"Where are those two from?" Panman asked with intense curiosity.
"From their particularly appealing and unusual skin and eye tones,"
Peter the Ace said, "and their enormous libidos, I would venture
a guess at Erogina, a small, toxic planet of painful odour and questionable
works of art."
"Really?" Panman said, his expression that of passive curiosity.
"I've heard of that planet, but I thought that the inhabitants of
Erogina were ordinary homo-sapiens?"
"They were, but the semi-poisonous gasses in the air changed their
colour and, apparently, amplified their desire for sexual fulfilment too."
Panman grinned. "We should visit when we have some free time."
The Blenheim's computer decided to make an announcement.
"ENTERING THE BOG-STAR SECTOR. ARRIVAL AT PLANET MUD-PAQ IN TWO MINUTES."
"Cool!" Panman said.
"Indeed!" Peter the Ace agreed. "Now we get the chance
to see what Ross Mental has been up to with our arch-nemesis, Lawrence."
Justin clopped onto the bridge.
"Yo Justin!" Panman said, turning to face the metal trainee.
"Great banquet! Well done! Were about to enter orbit around Mud-Paq."
Justin droned a response. "I am aware of that fact."
"Doesn't that get you excited?"
"It does not."
"But we may be about to encounter Lawrence!"
"That possibility does exist."
Panman was amazed at the metal man's reaction. "Lawrence's legions
of fowl smelling ogres and his hideous battle fleet were directly responsible
for the destruction of almost all of your bio-systems. Don't you have
a desire to see him disembowelled in public, or something?"
"I am incapable of the desire for revenge."
"That's a major programming omission in your programming!" Panman
said with concern. "When we get back to the palace I'll contact Doctor
De-Morgan at the Central Tower's cybernetics unit and get him to write
a revenge subroutine for you."
"That would be wise." Peter the Ace said. "Revenge is a
marvellous motivator when it comes to the successful destruction of evil
"Revenge is illogical." Justin said synthetically.
"It's illogical to say that revenge is illogical." Panman said.
"It is illogical to say that it is illogical to say that revenge
is illogical." Justin retorted.
"Well!" Panman said, annoyed. "It's illogical to say that
it's illogical to say that it's illogical to say that revenge is illogical!"
"It is illogical to say that it is illogical to say that it is illogical
to say that it is illogical to say that revenge is illogical." Justin
claimed, raising his digital voice just a touch.
"Oh really!" Panman shouted, getting to his feet. "I insist
that it's illogical to say that it's illogical to say that it's illogi.."
"RE-ENTERING NORMAL SPACE." The Blenheim interrupted.
"Time for action!" Peter the Ace said assertively.
Panman sat down and operated his console, his mind re-focused on the task
"You'll have to continue the argument with yourself." He said
to Justin. "Go and sit down on your chair."
Justin clanked and buzzed to the back of the bridge and seated himself
on his reinforced bench. He mumbled quietly.
The Blenheim's computer made another announcement. "POLY-ELLIPTICAL
SEMI-STANDARD TWO TO THREE RATIO ORBIT AROUND MUD-PAQ ACHIEVED."
Peter the Ace spoke with sage-like wisdom. "Scan the surface, Panman."
"No problem. Scanning."
"What can you find?"
"Not much." Panman replied. "One massive ocean, two continents,
lakes, forests, mountains, villages, a minimal population, and several
herds of gigantic mammals."
"No. I can't find Ross Mental's ship yet."
"Keep scanning throughout our orbit."
Panman grinned. "Found it!"
"Excellent!" Peter the Ace exclaimed. "Put it on the main
"There!" Panman said excitedly, pointing. "On the horizon
about ten thousand kilometres from here!"
"I see it." Peter the Ace said. "That's the Morbid all
right, but what's it doing?"
"I'm getting a more detailed scan... It's hovering about three kilometres
above those mountains, and it's firing wildly at the surface!"
"What?" Peter the Ace asked with mild surprise.
"Ross Mental is firing aimlessly at the surface!"
"What's he trying to destroy?"
"There's nothing down there. I don't know!"
"Hmm." Peter the Ace mused. "Pointless destruction is unethical
and ecologically unsound, even for top class bounty hunters. We'd better
"Too right!" Panman said. He operated the communication panel.
"This is the profoundly armoured star ship Blenheim, Panman speaking.
Ross Mental? What's happening, man?"
A strange reply sounded.
"Ha ha harr!"
Peter the Ace looked at Panman. "That sounded familiar!"
The image on the Blenheim's main view-screen changed. A face, demonic,
crooked, and twisted, faded into view and smiled coarsely.
"Hello Lawrence." Peter the Ace said with complete calm and
composure. "I'd heard that you were in this system."
"Yes!" Lawrence screamed. "Here I am. Do I scare you? Do
I do I do I?"
Panman muted the sound. "He's more insane than ever!"
"Indeed!" Peter the Ace agreed. "And he's bald!"
Panman looked at the screen. "Whoa! You're right! Ha!"
"And somehow, he managed to get hold of Ross Mental's ship."
Panman scanned the Morbid. He chuckled. "I've just probed Lawrence's
head. His bald area covers almost seventy-seven percent of his scalp!"
"Excellent!" Peter the Ace said. "Though I think you should
get back to more serious work."
"Too right!" Panman performed some more scanning. "Ross
Mental isn't on board. I deduce from that fact, that he's on the surface,
and at the spot upon which Lawrence seems to be firing!"
"He may be in trouble."
Panman nodded. "That's a definite possibility." He re-activated
the sound. "You do realise," he said to Lawrence, "that
theft of any bounty hunter property, even a tube of toothpaste, is a capital
offence and results in instant death!"
"Bounty fuckers!" Screamed the dark lord of the decomposed.
"I'm carbonizing Dross Mental and his bulging bitch companion, and
I'm going to do the same to you!"
"WARNING." the Blenheim's computer announced. "FOUR INBOUND
MISSILES. IMPACT IN SIX SECONDS."
"Raising shields." Peter the Ace said, operating his controls.
"We're going to have to destroy the Morbid!" Panman said with
"We can't do that. It's much too important. There must be another
The missiles detonated all around the Blenheim's hull. Tremendous shockwaves
shuddered through the ship.
"SHIELD POWER REDUCTION TO EIGHTY SEVEN PERCENT."
"There is no other option!" Panman said.
Dick Burton wandered onto the bridge carrying his golden guitar. "What's
happening?" He asked with concern. "Why haven't you taken me
to a nice and decadent upper class world yet?"
"Please shut up Dick." Peter the Ace said with assertive authority.
"We're under attack and rather busy."
Dick was extremely concerned. "Under attack! Are you trying to kill
"Go and sit somewhere!" Panman ordered.
"What if I die?" Dick cried. "The galaxy can't survive
without my bread. Everyone will go insane!"
"Shut up and sit down!" Panman shouted.
Dick mumbled some incomprehensible obscenities, and then sat down next
to Justin. He started to sing. "Run... Twist... Revulsion!.."
He groaned in a depressing manner.
Panman turned round and stared at the fallen bread king. "Be quiet!"
"Wait!" Peter the Ace said, his eyes twinkling with revelation.
"I have an apt and original solution to our dilemma!"
He began to explain it to Panman. Panman nodded vigorously in agreement.
"Cool and cunning!"