The two bounty hunters stared at the group of five contorted Impalers standing
before them. Three of them carried long crooked sticks, one of them carried
a book of notes, and, most importantly, one of them was the Impaler leader,
Panman raised his fusion pistol and pointed it at the face of Tiyr’d.
“Explain yourself!” he yelled.
The three Impaler security guards raised their sticks in front of their
leader to protect him. The ends of the sticks started to glow red.
“Lower your weapon.” Tiyr’d said with apparent calm.
“Get your men to lower theirs!” Panman said. “Or feel
the full wrath of on-the-spot Amino justice!”
“Ah…” the leader said with realisation. “So you’re
not from the Muscle-Russells after all?”
“Of course not, you ugly malformation!” Panman said angrily.
“We’re top class bounty hunters from the Palace of Amino, and
you and your people have committed a capital crime against the bounty hunter
organisation! A crime that will see you suffer torment beyond imagination!”
Tiyr’d’s disfigured face developed a serious expression. “I
will ask my men to lower their sticks if you will put away your gun. We
know that we cannot win a fight with you.”
Panman nodded. “Too right you can’t!”
The leader continued. “Once you put away your weapon I will explain
why we have done what we have done.”
Panman was about to incinerate everyone’s guts when Peter the Ace
intervened. “Agreed.” he said. “On one condition, though.”
“And what would that be?”
“That you take us to the real Ross Mental.”
Tiyr’d looked across to his companion carrying the book. “Is
your captive in a suitable condition to be seen?”
“He is still unconscious.” the leader’s companion replied.
“But he can be seen.”
Tiyr’d addressed the bounty hunters. “My senior genetic researcher,
Injr’d, says that will be fine.”
“It’s OK, Panman,” Peter the Ace said. “Lower your
Panman reluctantly did as his colleague requested. The Impaler guards lowered
“Right,” Peter the Ace said. “Take us too our friend.”
The Impaler leader and the genetic researcher lead the way. The two bounty
hunters followed. The three guards followed close behind.
Peter the Ace noticed that Panman was not happy with the way things were
going. “Don’t worry.” he whispered. “We are in control
of the situation. We could take out all of them with our bare hands if necessary.
And that would be much more fun, don’t you think?”
Panman thought for a moment, and then smiled. “Yeah, you’re
right! That would be more fun - and much cooler, too!”
The bounty hunters were lead into the dome, which was now illuminated by
bright lights that ringed the underside of the gallery above.
“There is your friend.” Tiyr’d said, pointing at the bench
at the centre.
Injr’d walked over to the bench and removed the sheet covering the
body. It was indeed Ross Mental. He was completely unconscious, and his
arms, legs, neck, and waist were tightly strapped to the surface of the
Panman’s trigger finger was becoming itchy. “He’d better
be in good health!”
“He is.” Tiyr’d said. “The Almighty Impaler does
not allow us to permanently harm the innocent.”
Peter the Ace spoke. “A few minutes ago Panman asked you to explain
yourself. My colleague, like myself, has limited patience. Perhaps you had
better answer his question before he files off your nose.”
The leader of the Impaler began his explanation. “For almost a hundred
years,” he said solemnly, “the Impaler have been at war with
the Slim-Jims, ever since they first appeared within the realms of our domain.
Although lengthy, up until a year ago the war had consisted only of sporadic
skirmishes. The Slim-Jims would occasionally attack through the orifices
of this cavern, attempting to ruin our research, steal our food supplies,
and impregnate our females.
“We were more than a match for them though; our shock-sticks were
far superior to their bludgeons and machetes, and our tactical abilities
far outweighed their ape-like protruding-forehead-style charge-at-full-speed
predictable assault patterns. Our individual strength, even after experiencing
the leap of faith ceremony, was greater. The weak and bony nature of the
Slim-Jims, and their apparent unwillingness to partake in drug enhanced
bodybuilding, ensured that they always remained fragile and easily breakable.”
Panman shouted. “Get to the point!”
Tiyr’d got closer to the point. “Their last raid was different.
Instead of attacking in small uncoordinated groups, they attacked en mass.
There were over a hundred of them. They destroyed half of our labs, kidnapped
thirty of our sexiest females, and bred with ten others. Those shamed females
will give birth to tiny Slim-Jim-Impaler mutants in less than a month.”
“There is still no point!” Panman yelled.
“Here it is.” The Impaler leader said. “We desperately
needed to find a way to repel their next attack otherwise our community
would be wiped from existence. Three months ago we embarked upon our most
ambitious research project ever, the aim of which was to capture a strong
muscular being, violent and fearless, and make dozens of copies. We would
then condition the minds of those copies to hate our enemy.
“Time was getting and short, and up until yesterday we hadn’t
found any muscular beings at all. Then we found your friend, Ross Mental.
We had monitored the activities of bounty hunters for many years but never
expected one to crash a spaceship near to our home. The opportunity was
too good to miss. With an army of cloned bounty hunters on our side we couldn’t
fail to defeat the Slim Jims.”
Silence reigned for several seconds.
“Interesting.” Peter the Ace commented, finally. “But
why didn’t you just call the Palace of Amino for help? I assume you
have invented some kind of ultra-space radio receiver. You did say that
you monitored our transmissions?”
“We do indeed have a receiver of the type you mention, but we couldn’t
for the life of us get it to transmit.”
Panman was looking more relaxed. “If your story is true then I guess
your actions could qualify as acts of desperation. What you say could, of
course, be a load of bullshit. If that’s the case then you’re
all doomed to hard labour in the sewer systems of the Palace of Amino’s
under-class accomodation units.”
“I am telling the truth.” Tiyr’d said seriously. “And
in less than an hour you will have proof.”
“What do you mean?”
“A Slim-Jim attack force is approaching. Please let me place a Ross
Mental clone at each crack and orifice in this cavern. They will mash and
splinter the Slim-Jims as they try to enter. That will be your proof.”
Panman turned to Peter the Ace. “Should we let them?”
Peter the Ace thought for a moment. “Yes. We’ve nothing to loose.”
“OK,” Panman said sternly. “But if you trick us or deceive
us in any way, instant Amino justice will be distributed generously!”
“That is fair.” the Impaler leader said. “And when proof
is seen, will you use your superior might and reasoning abilities to aid
us in our fight? Of course, if you have to follow a prime directive that
prohibits interference in the affairs of lesser cultures, then you must
abide by it.”
“We’re first class bounty hunters of vast wisdom and extraordinary
dexterity!” Peter the Ace said sharply. “We are above the law
and instinctively ignore all directives all of the time.”
Panman nodded vigorously. “Yeah, we do that!”
“Good.” Tiy’rd said. “We must prepare for the attack.”
“Before you do,” Peter the Ace said, “you must free the
real Ross Mental.”
Tiy’rd looked at the unconscious bounty hunter strapped to the bench.
“He is dangerous. His rage will destroy us all when he recovers.”
A harsh look of power filled the face of Peter the Ace. “It is a serious
offence to detain a bounty hunter. Free him now, or the rest of your mangled
lower jaw will be crushed to a pulp.”
Tiy’rd paused for a moment and contemplated that punishment. He turned
to Injr’d, his senior genetic researcher. “Free Ross Mental.”
The researcher did as he was told.
Tiyr’d looked at Peter the Ace and Panman. “I have done what
you have asked. Will you protect us from his wrath when he awakes?”
“We will try to calm him.” Peter the Ace said. “But we
can’t promise anything.”
Tiyr’d did not seem convinced. “OK, I suppose.”
“It’ll have to be.” Panman said.
“Well.” Tiy’rd said. “Time moves on. We must prepare
for the attack. The clones must be taken to their positions.”
The bounty hunters and the Impalers left the domed lab.