The Blenheim tumbled like a weed through the frigid void of deep space, discharging
clouds of vital fluids from its ruined engine section.
Peter the Ace sat calmly in his sumptuous command chair on the Blenheim’s
bridge. To conserve power, the lights had been dimmed to a low and menacing
level. Only vital systems were on-line.
“Blenheim?” The first-class bounty hunter asked. “What’s
our current status?”
The ship replied. “WEAPONS SYSTEM REPAIR COMPLETED. THRUSTER REPAIR
COMPLETED. NANO-MACHINE RECONSTRUCTION OF MAIN ENGINE SECTION CONTINUING.
NEW ESTIMATED TIME UNTIL COMPLETION – 743 DAYS, 16 HOURS, 23 MINUTES.”
“Hmm… Well, at least you’ve repaired something. What
about auxiliary power?”
“AUXILIARY POWER IS NOW AVAILABLE.”
“Excellent! Bring all the non-essential systems back online, and
the weapons and thrusters too.”
The bridge lights faded up. All the display screens, including the main
view-screen, flickered to life.
Peter the Ace thought for a moment. “Actually, I think I preferred
the lights off. Fade them out again.”
The lights faded. The bridge was now lit only by the glow of display screens.
“Ah, yes. Much better. Very forbidding!” Peter the Ace looked
at the image on the main view-screen. It displayed the forward view of
space. Stars scrolled across the screen at an alarming rate. Without the
ANTS (Amino Nausea Total Suppression) System installed in his stomach,
the bounty hunter would almost certainly have suffered immediate space
sickness and vomited up the buffalo pancakes he’d eaten for dinner.
“One more thing, Blenheim. Stop tumbling.”
The deep rumble of the thrusters reverberated through the ship. The scrolling
stars on the main view-screen slowed. After a few seconds they halted.
Jemima Murma, onboard assistant to Peter the Ace and Panman, slinked onto
the bridge. She was wearing a skin-tight transparent yellow body suit,
and a red woollen hat. And she was carrying a large tray full of food.
“Snack time!” she said cheerfully. She placed the tray onto
the console next to her master.
“Thank you, my dear.” Peter the Ace said. He looked at her,
admiring her figure. “You seem to be more well-toned every time
I see you. Magnificent!”
Jemima Murma bowed. “You are most kind.” She looked up at
Peter the Ace. “I train my body every chance I get. I aim to achieve
virtual physical perfection by the time I graduate.”
“Oh yes, I forgot.” Peter the Ace said, smiling. “Congratulations
on your enrolment to the Amino Weapons Institute.”
“Thank you.” She said sweetly, bowing once again.
“You’re right to train your body hard. But,” Peter the
Ace continued with an air of seriousness, “physical perfection is
not the only goal you should set for yourself in order to become a weapons
engineer. Your mind is just as important.”
The Blenheim’s assistant nodded. “I have not neglected my
mental conditioning. I meditate three times a day, take all the recommended
narcotics, and play holo-games to boost my hand-to-eye coordination. I
The bounty hunter was surprised. “Juggle?”
“Yes. I’ll be doing my final year thesis on that subject.”
“Cool! How many objects can you manage?”
“Eight. Nineteen in half normal gravity.”
“Impressive! You’ll have to show me sometime.”
Panman entered the bridge. He was sniffing the air. His eyes locked on
to the tray of food. “Hmm… Bite-size savoury snacks!”
He leapt into his chair at the weapons console, grabbed a handful of the
snacks, and then stuffed them into his mouth. He chewed like an alligator.
Jemima Murma smiled broadly. She was always honoured beyond words at her
master’s love of her food. She looked at Peter the Ace. “I
must return to my work. The detonation of the stealth mine created a lot
of mess in the main cargo bay. I must clean it.”
“Of course. Off you go.”
She bowed deeply, and then swayed sexily out of the bridge.
Peter the Ace watched her leave. “She’s going to make a very
fine weapons engineer.”
Panman turned and looked. “Yeah,” he said through a mouthful
of spring rolls. “She’s certainly got a butt that won’t
quit!” His console bleeped. The bounty hunter turned and looked
at his display surfaces. “Cool! The weapons are all back on-line!”
“Indeed.” Peter the Ace said.
Panman was excited. “We can go after that mining operation again!
I can unleash death upon death on their mind-warping hoards!” In
celebration, he stuffed a sausage roll into his mouth.
“Unfortunately we can’t do that.”
Panman stood up, shocked. Half the sausage roll fell to the floor. “Why?
I must avenge the damage done to our ship!”
“Calm yourself.” Peter the Ace said quietly. “I’m
afraid our engine section is still non-existent.”
Panman sighed and slumped back into his chair. “Don’t tell
me we’re stuck out here without a single valid target to fire upon.”
Peter the Ace patted him on the shoulder. “Fortunately, we now have
thrusters. And as our primary mission is indefinitely postponed, I suggest
we make our way back to Gun-Loc, find out what happened to Justin, and
see if we can be of assistance to Ross Mental. I’m sure he’ll
find us some good targets.”
Panman smiled at that thought. “It’s certainly better than
drifting out here.”
“Excellent!” Peter the Ace directed his voice to the ship.
“Blenheim, how far are we from Gun-Loc? How long will it take to
get to using thrusters?”
“DISTANCE T0 THE PLANET GUN-LOC IS 33.549 MILLION KILOMETRES. TRANSIT
TIME USING MAXIMUM THRUSTERS IS 67 HOURS, 44 MINUTES.”
“Hmm… I guess that will have to do.” With stunning dexterity,
Peter the Ace operated the controls on his console. Within a second the
course was laid in. The bounty hunter pressed engage. The ship rumbled
as the Blenheim’s thrusters powered up to maximum. “We’re
on our way.”
Panman had a look of quiet contemplation on his face. “We’ll
still have to deal with that mining operation at some point.”
Peter the Ace nodded. “Indeed we will. Do you have an idea how we
can do that?”
“I do.” Panman said. He smiled broadly. “A really cool
“I’m intrigued. What have you got in mind?”
“It’s so simple it’s brilliant!”
“Well? What is it?”
“Call for backup!”
Peter the Ace laughed. “Of course! Excellent plan!”
“We’re way too far from the palace to contact Commander Pepe
and go through the normal channels.” Panman said. “So, we
need to find out which bounty hunters are nearby, override their orders,
and get them here as soon as possible.” He spoke to the ship. “Blenheim,
list the bounty hunters on missions near this location, and the time it
will take them to get here.”
The ship responded in its usual unemotional manner. “SEBASTIAN BLOOD
IS ON A MISSION ON THE JUD’DA HOME WORLD 253 LIGHT YEARS FROM THIS
LOCATION. HIS SHIP, THE HOODED WHORE, CAN GET HIM HERE IN 34 HOURS.
“SUZANNE NAG-WITCH AND GINNY THE SCREECH ‘N’ WAIL MISTRESS
ARE ON A MISSION IN THE BULBUS SYSTEM 371 LIGHT YEARS FROM THIS LOCATION.
THEIR SHIP, THE DRUG ABUSER, CAN GET THEM HERE IN 42 HOURS.
“FEARLESS JIMBO BONES IS ON A MISSION AT A KEN KASINO GAMBLING STATION
IN THE PUUK NEBULA 412 LIGHT YEARS FROM THIS LOCATION. HIS SHIP, THE POUND
OF MUSIC, CAN GET HIM HERE IN 58 HOURS.”
Panman was a little disappointed. “Is that all there is?”
“THIS SECTOR IS 27,398 LIGHT YEARS FROM THE PALACE OF AMINO. MISSIONS
AT THIS DISTANCE ARE RARE.”
“You’re right, I suppose. I guess I was hoping a high-class
bounty hunter – like Elena L’Apriscatole, was out here.”
Panman turned to his companion. “You know what we must do?”
Peter the Ace nodded. “I do indeed. And it’s something that
only top-class bounty hunters with extreme authority can do.”
“And the Supreme Beings and Commander Pepe. They can do it too.”
“That goes without saying. As it was your idea, you’d better
Panman punched the air excitedly, and then got to his feet. “Blenheim.
Initiate the IMO Command with orders to come to this location.”
“I.M.O. – IMMEDIATE MISSION OVERRIDE COMMAND REQUIRES TWO
TOP LEVEL COMMAND AUTHENTICATIONS. PLEASE STATE FIRST TOP LEVEL COMMAND
Panman spoke. “I am Panman, a first-class bounty hunter of devastating
muscular density and vast appetite.”
“PLEASE STATE SECOND TOP LEVEL COMMAND AUTHENTICATION.”
Peter the Ace stood. “I am Peter the Ace, a first-class bounty hunter
of super-dense intellect and colossal vocabulary.”
“TOP LEVEL COMMAND AUTHENTICATION AUTHENTICATED. I.M.O. –
IMMEDIATE MISSION OVERRIDE COMMAND INITIATED. STATE DESTINATION OF COMMAND.”
“The bounty hunters on missions to the Jud’Da Home World,
the Bulbus System , and the Ken Kasino Gambling Station in the Puuk Nebula.”
After a second of silence, the Blenheim made an announcement. “I.M.O.
– IMMEDIATE MISSION OVERRIDE COMMAND TRANSMITTED SUCCESSFULLY.”
Panman brushed his hands. “Cool! Another job well done.”
“Indeed.” Peter the Ace agreed. “As we have couple of
days to kill, I suggest a long movie session followed by some virtual
“Yeah!” Panman said. “What an awesome idea.” He
hit the communications control on his weapons console. “Jemima?”
The response was swift. “Yes?”
“Were going to have a movie session. Could you bring four pizzas,
six rounds of garlic bread, a strawberry cheesecake, and a barrel of the
Palace of Amino’s finest ale to the movie theatre?”
“Sound’s exciting. I’ll do it at once.”
“Great! And once you’ve done that you can join us if you like.”
Jemima Murma gasped. “Thank you! I will. It’s always an honour
to enjoy this ship’s breath-taking entertainment devices with my
“Cool! We’ll see you there.”
The two first-class bounty hunters left the bridge.