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Book: Vengeance of the Lump-Being
Chapter 26: Gut

Flight path confirmed and cleared. Bay door opening. Prepare to depart.

Elena L’Apriscatole replied. “Preparing to depart.” She operated her ship’s elevators, feeling the small vessel rise off the hanger bay floor. Her restraining harness automatically tightened around her body, pressing her into her soft bucket seat. The crescent of display-screens around her reconfigured themselves to flight status. All systems showed green.

Through the curved and tinted view port ahead the hanger bay door rose rapidly, revealing a stunning view of many of the tall slender towers of the Palace of Amino’s central districts. The late morning sky was bright and blue - not even a whisker of cloud could be seen. Elena L’Apriscatole smiled. It was a sight that never failed to stir her soul.

Bay doors open. You may depart when ready. Good luck.

“Grazzi, control. Departing now.” The bounty hunter eased forwards on the thrust control. A deep throbbing rumbled through her seat as her ship, the Pizza Express, accelerated out of the hanger bay.

Giggling like a child, Elena L’Apriscatole opened up her engines, and then banked her ship left then right, following a tight ‘s’ shaped course through some of the palace’s tallest structures. On rounding the Dick Burton Feasting Tower, she pulled the Pizza Express into a steep eight-gee climb, and engaged the escape drive. The bounty hunter screamed with pleasure as the mighty forces of the acceleration played on her body, and thrust her little ship up, skimming the side of a residential tower just a few metres from its surface. Even at this incredible speed, the bounty hunter noticed all the people waiting on balconies and at windows, waving and shouting to give her and all the other ships a rousing send off.

Within seconds the Pizza Express cleared the tower tops. Looking ahead, she could see the bright exhausts of dozens of other ships ahead of her, and her sensors showed even more following close behind. This was the largest mass launch of bounty hunter ships from the palace since the Mechanism incident many years ago. The thought of all the skill, insanity, firepower, and sexual prowess soaring into space was surprisingly intoxicating. Elena L’Apriscatole gasped, goose pimples blossoming over her body. After a few seconds she shook her head, and then took a deep breath, focusing her mind on the task at hand.

The Pizza Express continued its brisk climb, passing through the upper layers of Enchantia’s atmosphere and following a gentle arc that brought it high above the Abyssal Sea. Elena L’Apriscatole gazed down at the azure waters, her enhanced eyesight managing to pick out the five Jhamdownut islands – her favourite vacation spot, and the only place she could practice her secret passion for belly dancing.

The coarse sound of the escape drive faded as the desired orbit was achieved.

Elena L’Apriscatole looked out of the forward view port. There, a few dozen kilometres ahead, was the Slaying Mantis, the Palace of Amino’s only battle cruiser. Even at this distance the three kilometre long vessel looked impressive and bizarre, and incredibly ugly – perfect for filling scheming deviants with a deep sense of anxiety.

As she approached, Elena L’Apriscatole noticed dozens of maintenance craft and hundreds of engineers clinging to the giant ship’s hull, all working feverously to repair the extensive damage the ship had sustained on its recent mission.

After a dangerously low pass over the topside of the Slaying Mantis, Elena L’Apriscatole positioned her little ship just above its gigantic main engines. A hundred other ships followed her example and began taking up position behind her, forming a dense spiral formation.


Admiral Marmaduke Phutphungus folded his arms and rested them on top of his bloated gut. He leaned back into his chair, bored and impatient. This would teach him to turn up ten minutes early for a briefing, however important.

Sally Phatbytch entered the main situation room. She placed a litre of ale and a plateful of marinated bladder strips on the huge oval table. “There you go, admiral.”

The admiral sat up, his eyes fixed on Sally’s sagging bosom. “Hmm… That does look good!”

The main situation room’s assistant smiled and shook her head slowly. “You are very naughty, admiral!” She turned and wandered away.

The admiral reached to the table and grabbed a bladder strip. He placed the dripping flesh into his mouth, and then watched with delight as Sally’s wide arse drifted out of the room. Remarkable!

There was a hiss, loud and piercing. And then a panel in the wall opposite slid open. A cloud of dense steam billowed out of the opening, backlit by a deep orange light. After a couple of seconds a large shape emerged, silhouetted against the soft light. The shape wobbled as it moved into the room. It was dripping wet.

Admiral Phutphungus stopped chewing, shocked at the unexpected sight. Bladder juice dribbled down his double chin.

The steam began clearing. A feeling of disgusted nausea spread over the admiral as he realised what he was looking at. He spat the bladder strip out across the table. “Commander!”

Commander Pepe, as naked as the day he was released from the growth pod, looked at the admiral. “What in Tibor’s nation are you doing here? You’re ten minutes early!”

Admiral Phutphungus looked away, unable to stand the sight of his commander’s thick folds of flab. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realise you had a massage chamber down here.”

The commander bellowed; his gut and breasts undulating like a shoal of jellyfish. “I have many massage chambers. You should know that!”

The admiral nodded, daring to look up. “Of course, commander. Forgive me.”

From behind the commander a girl emerged, her naked skin glistening with oil and water. She noticed the admiral and smiled sweetly. “Good morning, admiral.” She said, caressing her left breast as she spoke.

The admiral recognised her. “Good morning, Hazel.”
Hazel Lazernipelz licked her lips provocatively at the admiral, and then got to her knees. She reached under the commander’s layers of gut.

“Stop it!” Commander Pepe said harshly.

Hazel looked up at her master. She blinked slowly, the cocktail of drugs inside her dulling her mind. “But you said you wanted to finish our business here in the situation room.”

“Not with an audience! I am not perverted!”

Sub-officer Shym-Sham Shawallihoo walked in. He stopped at the doorway; his agonizingly thin face took on a shocked expression. He looked at the commander, and then the admiral, and then down at the girl. “Am I interrupting anything?”

“Of course you are!” the commander yelled. “Why is everyone suddenly turning up early to meetings?!”

Hazel Lazernipelz got to her feet. She rubbed the commander’s giant right nipple. “Shall I bring your robes?”

Commander Pepe shook his head. “There’s no time for me to dress now. Just bring out my towel.”

Hazel nodded and swayed sexily into the steamy room. She emerged with a struggle, dragging the commander’s thick long white towel behind her. The commander grabbed one end as she walked round his tremendous girth with the other. She tied the towel at the front, and then kissed the commander’s chest. “I’ll be waiting.” She wandered back into the massage chamber. The door slid silently shut behind her.

Commander Pepe took his seat at the head of the table. Even though the chair was extra large, the commander’s midsection still managed to flow over the arms. He looked back at Shym-Sham, who was still standing in the doorway. “Well? Get on with it, lad! We may as well start.”

The sub-officer nodded and made his way unsteadily to the front of the room. He made a small motion with his hand. A large section of the wall glittered to life. An impressively rendered image of the planet Enchantia rotated slowly. A group of objects hovered above the planet, organised into an elongated spiral. Many more objects approached the spiral from all directions, their projected courses indicated by sparkling red lines.

Shym-Sham croaked. “As you can see, commander, the fleet is assembling in orbit as planned.” He made another hand motion. The display zoomed in to the spiral. Each ship was clearly visible; its name, ID number, and owner’s name displayed above. “Three hundred and forty-eight ships are already in formation. Another seventy will launch from the palace over the next hour. Another forty-three are expected to return from cancelled missions, vacations, and joyrides over the next six-hours.”

The commander smiled. “That’s very impressive. Excellent work.”

The sub-officer nodded. “Thank you, commander. Almost ninety percent of bounty hunters on missions close by were able to return in time. We were lucky.”

The commander turned to Admiral Phutphungus. “Have you finalised your plan?”

“I have indeed.” The admiral said proudly.

“Then tell me!”

The admiral hauled himself to his feet. Shym-Sham stepped aside, allowing the admiral's large girth ample room to pass by.

The admiral stood to one side of the wall-sized display screen. After a quick fiddle with his moustache he began. “My original plan was to have the entire fleet form a barrier along the projected course of the emitter beam out near the Tomfulari deep space penal station. It was a masterful plan, but had one minor flaw, that being the possibility of...”

Commander Pepe roared. “I'm not interested in your ‘original’ plan! What's your final plan?!”

Admiral Phutphungus nodded. “Of course. My plan is to divide the fleet into two.” He pointed at the display of the assembling fleet. “Our battle cruiser, the Slaying Mantis, will lead the first fleet. Along with two hundred and twenty other ships, the Slaying Mantis will make its way to the border of the Ar’Mar’Ni sector, a days travel away. This will form the frontline of our defence. Although the Slaying Mantis suffered extensive damage during its recent mission, all essential repairs will be completed within the hour. And its current captain, Farquar Alqurseltsa should make a reasonable recovery from the severe burns he suffered a week ago. He will command the first fleet.”

Sub-officer Shym-Sham Shawallihoo croaked. “Admiral, there's something I need to...”

“Not now, Shym-Sham!” the admiral said, frowning. He continued. “The rest of the ships will make up the second fleet. This fleet will make its way to the third planet of the Humki-Pumki system, twelve hours away, and will be our second line of defence.”

The commander asked. “Who's commanding the second fleet?”

The admiral touched the display. The image of the fleet zoomed to one ship - a small spiky vessel of aggressive appearance. A life-size image of the ship's owner appeared. “This is Elena L’Apriscatole.” The admiral said. “She's a third class bounty hunter of shrewd moves and delightful heritage.”

Commander Pepe admired the image of Elena L’Apriscatole. She was dressed in her trademark yellow cape and tight white body suit. “Ah, yes! A fine choice.”

“Thank you.” The admiral said.

Shym-Sham spoke again. “Admiral, I...”

“Not now!”

The sub-officer fell silent.

The admiral continued. “Both fleets will depart in two hours. Once in position they will form a layered grid formation.” The image on the display changed to a detailed rendering of how the formation would look. “Each ship will then merge its shields with the ships next to it, forming a single deep energy barrier that should absorb much of the energy from the emitter beam. It is my hope that much, if not all, of the energy of the emitter beam will be absorbed by the two fleets.”

“What if some of the energy gets passed our fleets?” the commander asked.

“Then we will have to rely on our last line of defence.” the admiral said. “The palace's defence field.”

Commander Pepe scratched his chins. Sweat glistened on his face. “I guess we will.” He looked up. “How many ships do you think we'll lose, admiral?”

“We don't have an accurate prediction of the power of the emitter bean so it's hard to estimate.”

“Hmm… This is some serious defecation were in, isn't it?”

The admiral smiled narrowly. “It is indeed, commander.”

Shym-Sham croaked once again. “Admiral.”

Admiral PhutPhungus sighed. “What is it?”

“It's about Farquar Alqurseltsa, admiral.” The agonisingly thin sub-officer said.

“What about him?”

“He died from an acute head implosion ten minutes ago.”

The admiral frowned and shook his head. “What?! Nonsense! I spoke to him earlier this morning. He said his burns were healing nicely. He said he felt much better!”

“His burns were healing nicely, admiral.” Shym-Sham said; his voice shaky. “But, due to damage to the ship's medical scanners, the creature that had invaded his brain was not detected in time.”

The admiral could not believe what he was hearing. “Outrageous! What creature?”

“We’ve never encountered it before. It’s been killed and will be studied to ascertain…”

Commander Pepe spoke. “Never mind that now. You need to find another captain for the Slaying Mantis, it would seem.”

“Indeed.” The admiral said, calming slightly. He began to pace heavily up and down the front of the room. “Unfortunately we need a bounty hunter with fleet-leading experience to command that ship. And the only one I can think of is Harley Deep-Jaw Tree-Hugger.”

Commander Pepe shook his head. His chins undulated wildly. “No way! Absolutely not! He's a vegetarian! I can't abide those people! Think of someone else?”

The admiral continued pacing the room. He twiddled his moustache. “Hmm… Who else could command a...”

Shym-Sham spoke. “I have a suggestion.”

The admiral stopped pacing. He looked at the sub-officer. “Then let’s hear it.”

“The only other person I can think of with fleet-leading experience is you, admiral.”

Admiral Phutphungus was shocked. “Um… Yes, but not... um... a bounty hunter fleet! It was a small navy out in the Yusliss Expanse. And I left that navy for a cushy desk job here nearly a century ago!”

Commander Pepe smiled at Shym-Sham. “Excellent thinking, lad!” He turned to the admiral. “Get up to the Slaying Mantis immediately and assume command.”

The admiral looked shaken. “But commander, surely my leadership skills are much more useful down here in the...”

“No they're not.” The commander interrupted. With difficulty, he got to his feet and motioned towards the sidewall. A panel slid open. Clouds of steam billowed into the room. “Now, if you'll both excuse me, I have some unfinished business to attend to.”

Commander Pepe walked through the opening and disappeared into his massage chamber.

Admiral Phutphungus glowered at Shym-Sham, and then punched him hard in the face.

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