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Book: Vengeance of the Lump-Being
Chapter 8: An Average Walrus

The sun was low, sending shards of orange light through the dead forest, and causing the layer of waist-high morning mist to glow. It was an enchanting and ghostly sight.

Sebastian Blood crouched in the mist at the edge of the forest. He scanned the trees, the digital sensor eye patch on his left eye projecting a detailed vector image of the view ahead directly onto his retina. He could see all that was hidden by the mist – exposed tree roots, small scurrying animals, and the ruins of a small peasant dwelling complete with the ruins of a small peasant.

Most importantly, though, he could see the approach of a fang serpent.

“Here it comes.” The bounty hunter whispered. “Headed right this way.”

His earpiece crackled. “Are you sure this is the way it will happen, Mister Blood?

“Trust me, Senator. This is how it’ll happen.”

These are protected species, Mister Blood. There are grave repercussions if you are wrong. The conservation lobby on this world is powerful. They could…

“I said ‘trust me’, Senator.”

Very well, Mister Blood. The Jud’Da Republic is depending on you. Good luck. Senator Wob’La out.

The serpent was less than a hundred metres away now, snaking its thick scaly body through the trees. Its mouth, dominated by a set of six uneven fangs, was as wide as an average walrus, and opened and closed in rhythm to its movements.

Sebastian Blood raised his launcher. He set the grenade threshold appropriately, and then aimed at the fang serpent, targeting its head. A slight squeeze of the trigger armed the launcher. It hummed quietly.

The bounty hunter waited – perfectly still and silent – for the fang serpent to reach optimum range.

A second later the launcher’s range readout turned green.

Sebastian Blood smiled, and then fired.

With a thud and a whoosh, a small golf ball-sized grenade burst out of the launcher’s muzzle. The grenade’s brief fifty-millisecond flight was smooth and accurate, the tiny thrusters on its surface spitting jets of gas to control the trajectory.

The fang serpent had very little time to comprehend the grenade as it tore neatly through the skin and bone between its eyes. And it had no time at all to comprehend the grenade as it detonated.

In an instant, a small but intense fusion blast vaporised the fang serpent’s head, and sent out a pressure wave that cleared the mist within a fifty-metre radius. The crack of the explosion reverberated through the forest for several seconds before fading to silence.

Sebastian Blood put down his launcher, then stood and walked over to the limp body of the serpent. The stump where its large head had once been was smouldering like a cigar. A delicious smell of burnt meat filled the air. The bounty hunter picked up a gnarled stick and prodded at the serpent’s belly. As expected, the lifeless serpent did not flinch. Unusually, a brief and muffled groan emanated from inside its gut. The bounty hunter smiled. That was exactly what he had hoped to hear.

From a sheath on his belt, Sebastian Blood drew his standard-issue bounty hunter battle knife, and then plunged it into the fang serpent’s tough skin. He yanked the knife hard, cutting a two-metre gash in the side of the serpent’s belly. A mass of entrails - accompanied by litres of black blood - spilled onto the forest floor.

The bounty hunter waited for the outflow of innards to stop, then plunged the knife in once again, this time slashing into the serpent’s stomach lining. Two humanoids, covered in thick gastric fluid, rolled out of the wound and slopped onto the ground. Both were wearing tight-fitting black plexi-armour and facemasks. And both had hideous looking weapons strapped to their backs.

“Just as I expected, Senator.” Sebastian Blood said as he re-sheathed his knife. “Two Spunjj assassins, both armed with high precision Thun’Da disruption cannons.”

Excellent work, Mister Blood!” Senator Wob’La replied, the relief obvious in his voice.

One of the humanoids was trying to reach the weapon on his back. The bounty hunter reacted immediately. He drew his small pulse pistol from its holster inside his jacket and fired. The humanoid’s hand vaporised in a flash of blue. It moaned, gripping its smouldering stump with its other hand. The two assassins looked up at the bounty hunter.

Sebastian Blood spoke to them proudly. “In the name of the Superior Beings of the Great Hall of the Palace of Amino, I arrest you both. Resist and I’ll bake your bowels to oblivion.”

The bounty hunter’s earpiece crackled “I’ve despatched a team of agents to your location, Mister Blood. They should be with you in moments.

“Thank you, Senator.” Sebastian Blood’s wrist communicator bleeped rapidly. Curious, he pulled back his left sleeve. A flashing red envelope in the corner of the communicator’s display indicated an incoming message of great importance. He touched the display and opened the message. The letters ‘I.M.O.’ faded into view, followed by several lines of text. As he read the text the bounty hunter’s eyes widened. And so did his smile. “I must leave immediately, Senator. I have been called away on urgent business.”

No, Mister Blood!” Senator Wob’La said, worried. “You are due to stay another week at least. Those two assassins will not be the only ones!

“You now know their ingenious, yet flawed, method of approach, Senator. I’m sure your agents can protect you and your peers from brutal slaughter.”

You are right, of course. I would still prefer a high-class bounty hunter such as yourself to be present, but I’m sure you’re business supersedes ours.

“It does.”

With a whoosh, a small skycar descended rapidly and came to a swift halt a few metres away. Five black-suited agents leapt off the car and grabbed the two assassins. With cruel efficiency the assassins were stripped naked, gagged, hogtied, and thrown into the car. The agents got back onboard. As the skycar ascended, the agents waved. The bounty hunter waved back.

Good luck to you, Mister Blood. We are in debt to you and your organisation.

“Thank you, Senator.”

Sebastian Blood turned and sprinted away from the forest and into the mist of the valley below.

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