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Book: Vengeance of the Lump-Being
Chapter 2: The True Meaning of Contentment

The soup stank like decayed brain matter, and it looked like murky cattle piss. The beer, though, was fantastic!

Ross Mental threw his head back and gulped down the last litre from his impressively large glass. He slammed it down on the table, and then wiped the frothy liquid from his mouth and chin. A lot of it had dribbled down his neck and soaked into the thick polo collar of his Warrior-class chain-mail sweatshirt. The sensation of cool beer on his neck was one of Ross Mental’s secret pleasures.

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter let out a loud gasp of delight as the carbonated ale fizzed into his guts - one of his more public pleasures. He looked out at the view. From his table on the second floor balcony of Miss Pussbucket’s Breakfast Place he could see the entire dome-filled skyline of Ry-Fol, Gun-Loc’s largest city. The tall stone towers of the city centre stood impressively a few kilometres to the east, silhouetted against the deep orange glow of sunrise.

“That’s a rare sight.” A gravely voice said.

Ross Mental turned. An old dude, leather-skinned and cloaked in what looked like a potato sack, had sat down at his table. “What the fuck are you on about?”

The old man pointed. “The sunrise! The sky is rarely cloudless on this world. Seeing the sunrise is unusual and delightful.”

“Is that fuckin’ right?”

The prune-like man smiled, his face creasing like a concertina. “Indeed it is. I’m almost a hundred years old, and I’ve only seen the sunrise seven times!”

“Fuckin amazing!” Ross Mental said with complete sarcasm. Only his optically enhanced will power prevented him from snapping the neck of the annoying codger.

The old man stared at the bounty hunter. “You’re not from around these parts, are you?”

“None of your fuckin’ business!”

“I can tell you’re not. Not just in the way you look, but in the way you treat the sunrise as an ordinary event.”

The bounty hunter could not believe the drivel that the ancient bloke was spouting. “It is a fuckin’ ordinary event, you fucked up old motherfucker!”

The old dude laughed. “I’m glad that I’m not like you!”

Ross Mental was loosing his patience. He leaned over and grabbed the old codger by the arm. He squeezed hard. “What the fuck do you mean by that?”

The old man winced in pain but kept smiling. “You don’t appreciate the simple beauty of the things around you. Life for you must be depressing.”

“Only a sad old fucker like you, with no fuckin’ life and a face like a grizzle-hippo’s butt, could get so fuckin’ amazed by a sunrise!”

The bounty hunter let go of the old dude. The man sat back. Despite the cruel insult and the massive bruising on his right arm, the ancient codger was still smiling. He reached into his potato-sack-cloak and pulled out a small camera. He began to photograph the sunrise.

“Each time I’ve seen the sunrise I’ve been in a different place.” the old man said as he clicked away. He reminisced. “The first time was back in the hills of the Can-Non province where I was born. My father had taken me up into the mountains camping. That first morning when I awoke, I peered out of the shelter and was greeted by a wondrous sight - the rising sun, right between the twin peaks of mount Pis-Tol. It changed my life!”

“Look, you wizened fucker!” Ross Mental said harshly. “I’m waiting for an important communication from a friend, so shut the fuck up!”

The old man ignored the bounty hunter and continued. “The next time was twenty years later out in the sea of Mus-Ket. I was travelling to the Taw-Peado Islands with my beloved wife, Edna. We had been married only weeks before, and it was our first holiday together. The sunrise that morning as I shagged her senseless was a pleasure beyond comprehension…”

The bounty hunter interrupted. “I don’t want to know this! Shut the fuck up!”

The old man was still taking photographs. He continued. “The next time was in the polar city of Bul-Let. I was working as an archaeologist out on the ice flows uncovering the preserved remains of our distant ancestors. As I strode across the…”

Just at the point when Ross Mental had decided to put the old man out of his misery, the bounty hunter’s wrist-mounted communicator bleeped. He answered. “Ace? Panman? Is that you?”

There was an incredible crackle of static, then a barely audible reply. “Yeah, it’s me, Panman.

“About fuckin’ time!”

Sorry,” Panman said, his voice broken by interference and what sounded like detonations in the background. “but we’ve had some awesome problems up here.

“What happened?”

As expected, we detected a sophisticated mining operation on the far side of Gun-Loc’s moon, but as we approached we entered a cloaked field of over seven thousand CR4 Stealth Penetration Mines!

“Fuck!”

Ace’s exceptionally phenomenal piloting skills enabled us to avoid almost all of them, but one lodged in our hull.

“No fuckin’ way!”

We sent out Justin to pull it out, but he couldn’t do it.

“Useless fucker! How did you get it out?”

We didn’t. It detonated.

“Fuck me!”

Our engine section’s been completely blown away. Manoeuvring thrusters are malfunctioning, and what’s more the microwave and holo-games systems are off-line! I’m afraid for the time being you’re on your own.

“On my fuckin’ own?”

The communications link was becoming worse. “We’ll get to -KSSSS- as we can. -KSSSSS-.

The link was severed.

“Fuck!”

The old man was still talking crap. “…and now, here I am in Gun-Loc’s greatest city, witnessing yet another phenomenal sunrise! If I die today I’ll do so knowing how lucky I am to have witnessed so many glorious events.”

Ross Mental was sickened by the old man’s inane existence. “Your life’s been one big fuckin’ thrill after another, hasn’t it?”

This time the shrivelled dude did not notice the sarcasm in the bounty hunter’s voice. “It has!” he agreed. “I have been blessed with a truly great life. And now the Cause has shown me the true meaning of contentment. What more could I want?”

Suddenly the foul-mouthed bounty hunter was very interested in what the old man had to say. “What the fuck do you mean by ‘Cause’?”

The old man smiled. “I knew there was hope for you, my young, muscular friend! Tonight you must join me at the subterranean chambers. All will be revealed.”

Ross Mental could not believe his luck. He’d expected it to take weeks to find a way to infiltrate the Cause’s organisation. “Yes. I may just do that.” He said calmly.

“Good for you!” the old man said. He patted the bounty hunter on his shoulder. “Let me get you a beer, my friend.”

The thought of another beer was appealing. “Yeah. Get me a fuckin’ beer.”

The old dude got up and headed inside towards the bar.

In the street below the traffic had come to a standstill, and so had all the people on foot. They were all looking up and pointing at the sky. A hushed gasp of awe was heard. At first Ross Mental thought they were pointing at him, but then he remembered that the bounty hunters of the Palace of Amino were not well known this far out. He looked up, following their gaze to the brightening blue sky above. At first he saw nothing more exciting that a couple of high flying aircraft. Surely those do not excite these people? Unless, like the old man, they got excited over anything normally obscured by clouds.

Just as Ross Mental was about to dismiss the entire population of Gun-Loc as sad fuck-off losers, he saw it. Just coming into view was a bright object. It was moving fast, and flaming furiously in a true meteor-like fashion. Whatever it was it was falling fast, and it was out of control. Ross Mental got to his feet and leaned on the balcony railings. The fireball was heading straight for the city’s central district.

There was a deafening sonic boom and a roar as the sound of the flaming object reached ground level. The crowd in the street screamed.

A second later the fireball slammed into the city. A bright flash of light - brighter even than the rising sun - engulfed the tall towers of the central district.

“Remarkable!” the old man said, returning and placing two glasses of beer on the table. “I’ve never seen a sunrise like that before!”

Ross Mental glared at the leathery dude. “You ignorant old fucker!”

The old man ignored his rude new friend and sat down. He pulled out his camera and started to photograph the strange new phenomenon.

The sound of the impact arrived. The whole area shook as strong vibrations shuddered through the ground. The people in the street shrieked in terror.

Ross Mental watched as the brightness of the initial impact faded. Several of the city’s tallest towers were crumbling to the ground in a cloud of powdered masonry. A huge fog of smouldering dust was rising. The old man’s precious sunrise was almost completely obscured.

The bounty hunter looked at the old man. “Where are the fuckin’ chambers you mentioned?”

“Meet me here at sunset. I’ll take you.”

The bounty hunter grabbed his glass of beer and downed it in one incredible gulp. He burped offensively. “Cheers for the beer, you pathetic old fucker. See you tonight.”

After slamming the glass down on the table in his usual manner, Ross Mental headed for the stairway down to the street. There was something that troubled him about that impact. It required some serious investigation.

The old man shouted after him. “You’ll miss the rest of the sunrise!”

The bounty hunter replied. “Shut the fuck up!”

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