Earth Reference Year 2393.77 AD
It was well and truly jammed all right.
Panman, a bounty hunter of impenetrable acumen and potent concentration,
stood heroically on the topside of the Blenheim and surveyed the scene.
The ship was wedged tightly in a fifty metre wide hard-rock crevasse, a
crevasse only half the width of the ship itself, and it was damaged beyond
reason. Torn armour plating and buckled weaponry could be seen crunched
up against the grey lichen covered rock face. Contorted hull fragments jabbed
at the air, and black smoke billowed from the huge sub-space engines at
the rear. The stench of collision, similar to the odour of a dam crawling
gum chewer, wafted through the air.
Panman smiled. That must have been the most extraordinary and magnificent
crash ever! A shame it wasn’t recorded.
Peter the Ace, a bounty hunter of multifarious subterfuge and sturdy construction,
clambered out of the bridge’s emergency exit hatch and joined his
companion out on the hull. A chill gust of wind ruffled his un-gelled hair.
“What’s the verdict Ace?” Panman asked; his heavily gelled
hair unaffected by the rush of air.
“Well, the weapons array has been almost wiped out - apart from the
lower pulse cannon, that still seems to respond. All shield capability has
been lost, and the sub-space drive diagnostics can’t get a response
from the engines. It looks like the Inanuim fuel injector has snapped.”
“Is that serious?”
“We need to find a new one or else we can’t leave.”
“Unlikely on this backwards world.”
“It is indeed. The complex alloy it’s made from is deviously
Peter the Ace thought for a second. “The microwave doesn’t close
properly, and I can’t turn off the vibrating bed in the guest quarters.
The jaccuzzi works, though.”
“It’s not all bad then.”
“No, not really. Oh, I almost forgot, the Holo-Game system is off-line
Panman went insane. “I don’t believe it!” he screamed,
his voice echoing off the rock faces. “It’s always the same.
That damn thing breaks at the slightest bump!” The bounty hunter ran
over to the bridge’s hatchway and stuck his head inside. “Blenheim?
Divert all power to the Holo-Game auto-repair systems!”
There was no response from the ship.
“Do it now!” Panman yelled. “I want to be able to play
‘Nomadic Ancestral Soothsayers Defy Oblivion in Bizarre Ceremonial
Gowns’ in five minutes.”
Peter the Ace spoke calmly. “Unfortunately the Blenheim’s voice
recognition system also seems to be damaged.”
Panman looked at his comrade. “The ship’s deaf?”
“It appears so. But it does respond to typed commands, I tried earlier.”
Panman looked despondent. “Typed commands?” He laid back on
the hull and looked up at the darkening blue sky. “I haven’t
typed for centuries!”
“I must admit that it is a bit of a chore.” Peter the Ace agreed.
He followed Panman’s gaze. High above in erratic orbits a multitude
of distant chunks of debris drifted through the void of space.
“If you think we’re in a bad way, just look at our adversaries!”
A grin the width of a continent spread across Panman’s face. A large
segment of debris scraped the upper atmosphere and glowed bright white as
it vaporised. He started to laugh. “We cut up those Gargalon Blood
Smuggler Destruction Vessels as if they were onions! And we were out-numbered
sixty to one!”
Peter the Ace laughed too. “We are, without doubt, the greatest beings
Panman couldnot disagree. “We spent two weeks at maximum sub-space
speed to get out here to destroy their unauthorised zombie brain delivery
and we succeeded in ten minutes!”
“Absolutely. It’s a shame that they wiped out our stabilisers
and sent us crashing onto this remote slab of a planet.”
“It could have been much worse without Ross Mental’s help.”
Peter the Ace nodded. “His unique close fly-by attack techniques really
helped - his foul language too. I think he offended half of them to death!”
The bounty hunter looked around. “I wonder where he is.”
“I saw the Morbid spiralling out of control shortly before we slammed
into this chasm. He’s somewhere to the north I think.” Panman
got to his feet. We’d better contact him.”
“I tried just a minute ago. Unfortunately, there’s no response.”
Panman looked thoughtful. “Strange. What shall we do?”
Peter the Ace started to pace up and down. His UIP (Useful Ideas Processor)
began processing. “We have three options. One; we stay here and live
off the rations we have stored in the Blenheim’s larder. There’s
enough for two years of gluttony and as the power systems are still on we
could entertain ourselves with videos. What’s more, our assistant
Jemima Murma is unscathed and can still serve us.”
“Food is good.” Panman said, starting to drool.
Peter the Ace continued. “Two; we climb up out of the chasm and wander
around on the off chance that we find Ross Mental and his intact ship. Then
Panman nodded. “Simple ideas are often the best.”
“Or finally, three; we use our new Blenheim Bikes to ride to the nearest
“Yes!” Panman said with excitement. “We haven’t
used our new bikes yet. Let’s do it!”
“Unfortunately the bikes are in the lower cargo bay.”
“Oh yeah. That means when we open the bay doors we’ll have to
drop into the chasm below.”
“Indeed, and it’s a kilometre deep.”
Panman thought for a moment. “Those bikes have Tri-Tanium coated suspension
modules, don’t they?”
Peter the Ace nodded. “I believe so.”
“Then a fall of that distance will be fine. Remember the Blenheim
Mobile back in the Mechanism? That had the same suspension and it survived
a fall of hundreds of kilometers in double gravity!”
“You’re right as always!” Peter the Ace said. “Let’s
The two defenders of righteousness and supremacy clambered back into the