Peter the Ace ran through the depths of the dank cave, his standard bounty hunter
issue hip-mounted flood light lighting the way ahead. The stream trickled
noisily over his boots. He’d been stomping through the damp cave for
almost ten minutes now. He’d climbed waterfalls and crawled through
submerged tunnels with ease. Sind’a must be rescued before the Slim-Jim
that had kidnapped her reached the cave’s exit.
Up ahead he could hear frantic splashing and screaming. Sind’a must
have regained consciousness. Peter the Ace drew his Assassinator Class One
Super-Heated Carnage Blade from its lower leg-mounted sheath and energised
it. It glimmered white hot. “Time to cauterise some flesh and bone.”
The bounty hunter walked round a corner and stopped. A few metres in front
of him stood the Slim-Jim. He was holding the almost naked Sind’a
by the waist and was trying to push her up onto a ledge. She was struggling
wildly. The Slim-Jim ripped off what remained of her clothing, raised his
hand, and prepared to strike her.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Peter the Ace said.
“Striking a well-toned girl across the face is a capital offence.”
The Slim-Jim looked at the bounty hunter. “Not on my world.”
it said in a grating tone of voice.
“You must respect her beauty and sexiness and not damage her good
The Slim-Jim laughed. “She is only good for breeding stock, and nothing
more. The health of her face is unimportant.”
Peter the Ace disagreed. “On the contrary, it is very important. If
her face is disfigured she will suffer intense stress, anxiety, and depression
about the loss of her attractiveness. The negative chemicals that her body
will then produce will deform any children that she bears, and lower their
“Nonsense! We beat all our females until the flesh on their faces
is bruised and scabby. Our children are born quite normal. My own mother’s
head was beaten into an unrecognisable lump and I still developed fine.”
“No you didn’t!” Peter the Ace said, laughing. “Look
at you! You’re gaunt, unfit, have no fashion sense, have minimal intelligence,
and you’re ugly. You’re a complete disaster!”
“I am not!”
“Yes you are. And you’re unquestionable proof that what I say
The Slim-Jim grabbed Sind’a by the neck. She coughed and gasped for
air. “I’ll give her the beating of her life!” the Slim-Jim
said. It raised its free hand and prepared to deliver its first crushing
blow. Rapidly, the Slim-Jim’s fist began to descend towards Sind’a’s
face. It almost made it, but not quite. A flash of light and heat passed
neatly and accurately through the slender creature’s wrist, cutting
its clenched fist clean away. The Slim-Jim’s cauterised stump missed
Sind’a’s face and passed harmlessly by. The severed fist splashed
into the stream.
The Slim-Jim howled then started to leap around insanely. “You die
“I think not.” Peter the Ace said.
The Slim-Jim charged at the bounty hunter, the fury of a thousand feral
invaders seeping from its eyes. It leapt into the air and brought its remaining
fist slamming down onto Peter the Ace. The bounty hunter moved his head
to one side, allowing the fist to hit the thick armour of his shoulder padding.
The Slim-Jim landed in front of him. Grabbing the creature’s neck,
Peter the Ace began to squeeze. The Slim-Jim gasped then made another futile
attempt to kill the bounty hunter.
Peter the Ace made a cool statement. “Licence to live revoked.”
Three bright yellow flashes illuminated the cave. An ear-splitting fizzle
echoed all around. The Slim-Jim’s expression changed to disbelief,
then a moment later, went blank. Peter the Ace let go of the Slim-Jim’s
neck and the lifeless creature crumpled into the stream. There was hiss
as the water rapidly cooled the smouldering Slim-Jim.
The bounty hunter laughed and re-holstered his fusion pistol. There was
very little in the universe that was as satisfying as burning a hole through
a devious wrong-doer at point blank range. Peter the Ace walked over to
Sind’a. She was leaning against a rockface and was visibly shaken
by the whole experience. “Come my dear, you are cold, naked, and frightened.
I’ll take you home.”
Sind’a forced a smile and took the bounty hunter’s hand. Peter
the Ace grabbed his Assassinator Class One Super-Heated Carnage Blade and
placed it back in its sheath. Sind’a and the bounty hunter headed
back to the Impaler community.
After eleven minutes and three seconds of walking and crawling and climbing,
Peter the Ace stepped out of the cave and into the Impaler cavern. He
helped Sind’a down and then looked around. The fighting had ceased.
Bones, muscles, kidneys, livers, stomachs, entrails, tendons, brains,
and cartilage littered the area surrounding the platform at the centre
of the village. A few Impaler males wandered around. Some of the females
had already started to brush away the mess. At the far side of the centre
square the Ross Mental clones seemed to be arguing about something.
Peter the Ace turned to Sind’a. “There are no Slim-Jims left
alive. It seems that your people won!” he said happily.
Sind’a smiled nervously, trying to cover up her breasts and nether
regions with her hands.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” the bounty hunter said. “You
are shy about being naked.” Peter the Ace opened a small compartment
on his utility belt and pulled out a purple and blue paisley night dress.
“I always carry one of these; you never know when one might come
in handy. Try it on.”
Sind’a pulled it over her head and let it fall down over her body.
She caressed it and smiled, appearing to like the smoothness of the material
against her skin. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure. Now let’s go and find out what’s happening.”
Peter the Ace walked over to the group of Ross Mental clones. Sind’a
followed a few metres behind.
“We fucked the Slim fuckers!” one of the clones shouted.
“You did indeed.” Peter the Ace said, humouring him.
The other clones repeated that phrase. All except one. That clone was
pushing the others around and asking questions - an unusual thing for
a near brainless replicant to do. Peter the Ace approached him.
“Take those fuckin’ boots off now!” the clone said to
“The Slim-Jim fuckers are fucked.” the other clone replied
The first clone glanced at Peter the Ace. His eyes widened. “Fuck!
Ace! Am I fuckin’ glad to see you!”
Peter the Ace smiled. “You finally came round I see!”
“Too right! What the fuck is going on here? Are these fuckers taking
the piss, or what?!”
“They’re not taking the piss. They’re…”
“These motherfuckers have made themselves up to look like me and
are wandering about acting like fuckin’ inane fuckers! If that’s
not taking the fuckin’ piss I don’t know what is?”
“If you calm down I’ll explain what…”
“And what’s more they seem fuckin’ indestructible! Every
time I try to tear their fuckin’ faces off they stop me. They’re
almost like bounty fuckers!”
“They are like bounty fuckers - I mean hunters. They’re clones
of you developed by…”
“And what’s more someone has stolen my fuckin’ boots!”
Ross Mental paused for a second. “What did you fuckin’ say?”
“They’re clones of you. These people made copies of you to
help defend their cavern from the Slim-Jims.”
Ross Mental punched the air. “A capital fuckin’ crime!”
he yelled, his face screwed with fury.
“Calm yourself.” Peter the Ace said. “You’re right,
it is a capital crime, but after realising the desperate nature of their
situation, I absolved them.”
“What the fuck for?”
“Because my superior intellect told me that that is what I should
Ross Mental knew how superior Peter the Ace’s intellect was and
couldn’t argue any further. He held up one of his bare feet. “What
about my fuckin’ boots, though?”
Peter the Ace looked around at the clones. “The boots the clones
are wearing are probably clones to. Yours are probably still in the lab
somewhere. We’ll find them soon.”
Ross Mental looked back towards the building that he’d blasted out
of only fifteen minutes before. “I can’t fuckin’ wait.
I’ll get the fuckers now!” The foul-mouthed bounty hunter
stomped off up the hill back to the domed laboratory.
Peter the Ace admired his fellow bounty hunter’s resolve and determination.
He turned and noticed that Sind’a was looking very agitated. “What’s
“I cannot see our leader, Tiyr’d. I am concerned about him.”
“I understand.” the bounty hunter said sympathetically. “Let’s
A distant shout was heard. “Ace?”
Peter the Ace looked towards the source of the sound. Panman was standing
on the Impaler leader’s balcony and waving. Peter the Ace waved
back. “Ah, Panman! What’s up?”
“Come into Tiyr’d’s office quickly! It’s urgent!”
Sind’a cried. “Something’s happened to my master!”
She started sobbing.
Peter the Ace put one of his densely muscular arms around her. “Be
strong.” he said. “Let’s go and find out, shall we?”
Peter the Ace and Sind’a walked towards the Impaler leader’s