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Book: Mechanism
Chapter 3: Eyepiece Magnification Unit

Peter the Ace sat at the corner of his huge bed and looked out of the window. To describe the view from his apartment at the top of the Central Tower as outstanding would be a major understatement! From this vantage point, four point three kilometres and one thousand floors above street level, the entire Palace of Amino could be seen, and also mountains, forests, and lakes up to two hundred and fifty kilometres away. Many species of upright, ape-like hominids would, if necessary, brutally butcher and grill their loved ones in order to get a glimpse of such a magnificent and mind expanding sight. Peter the Ace was well aware of this fact, but he still took the unique location of his apartment completely for granted.

It was mid-morning, and the crisp autumn sun was busy casting shadows and creating reflections as its light fell upon the numerous glass and steel structures that littered this bounty hunter haven.

Such a beautiful and emotive sight, though, could not take Peter the Ace’s mind off the bloated feeling that filled his belly. That had to be the largest and longest breakfast he had ever had! He had intended to sleep away the food but the noise from his gut was preventing any loss of consciousness.

The bedroom door buzzed.

“Enter.” he said.

The door slid open. A lightly tanned, well-toned and completely bald young girl walked in and approached the bounty hunter. She was wearing a yellow leotard, white socks, and orange training shoes, and was sporting a large tattoo of a Galgarlon Blood Smuggler across her scalp. She was also sweating profusely. “This may help.” she said breathlessly, handing Peter the Ace a mug.

“Thank you.” he said, looking at the steaming liquid inside. “What is it?”

“Boiled larnk cream. My mother used to give it to me as a child whenever I over-indulged on chocolate rabbits.”

Peter the Ace took a sip. “Excellent!” he exclaimed, gulping back some more. “How did you know that I had stomach ache?”

“I heard a strange rumbling while I was in the gym.”

“I didn’t realise it was that loud.”

“It wasn’t. I’m just highly perceptive!”

“What would I do without you, Carmen?”

“Vomit?” she asked.

“Quite likely!”

Carmen smiled. “If there’s nothing else I’ll go and continue my workout. I’ve three more hours left to do!”

“Of course. Don’t let me stop you.”

He watched her as she turned and swayed sexily out of the room. Carmen was a trainee bounty hunter and had been his personal assistant for four years. She had replaced his previous servant Belinda, who had died after falling into a deep lava pit. Kathwoman had been responsible for Belinda’s grisly and agonising death, and Peter the Ace still found it hard to come to terms with the fact that she was gone. Her pizzas and kebabs were still the best that he had ever tasted, and her thighs had been better toned than any others that he had ever set eyes on.

A loud alarm began to sound. A video screen on the wall flashed a message in hues of crimson and emerald. When Peter the Ace read it, he experienced a sensation of surprised and shocked disbelief. The message read as follows:


Energy Beam Penetration of

Palace Defence Shield

Energy Type Unknown

Target: Central Tower

BRIGHT RED ALERT!

(All leave cancelled)


Peter the Ace silenced the alarm and activated his bedside communications console. “Commander Pepe?”

Peter the Ace!” the commander said loudly. “Glad you called.

“What’s happening?”

Something passed straight through the defence shield and hit the lower mid section of the Central Tower. There appears to be no detectable physical damage but the palace’s computer core seems to consider it important enough to give it bright red status!

“Even during the great battle with Lawrence’s fleet of demonic dreadnoughts we only reached a state of ordinary red alert. What makes this so awesomely significant?”

I’m not sure.” Commander Pepe said. “Bright red alert means that the possible loss of independent sentient activity by all palace inhabitants may be imminent. Ordinary red alert only means that an attempted take-over is in progress. The computer core obviously thinks this event is of the utmost seriousness. We’ll have to wait for its full analysis.

Peter the Ace was in deep thought. “I’m not aware of anyone or anything that could penetrate our shield in this way.”

Neither am I. Wait... I’m being handed some more information.

“What is it?”

We’ve just pinpointed where the beam hit.

“Where?”

Prime hanger bay, level four hundred and fifty two!

“That’s were I keep the Blenheim!” Peter the Ace exclaimed.

Indeed it is.” the commander said ominously. “Alert Panman. Get yourselves down there immediately!

“Consider it done.”

Peter the Ace reconfigured the communicator. “Panman?”

Barbarilina-Marina-Nachos-Supreme, Panman’s assistant, answered. “Hi, Peter the Ace!” she said in a sultry fashion. “Hold on, I’ll just get him.

There was a slight pause.

Yo, Ace!” Panman said. “Sorry I didn’t answer your call straight away. I was finishing off the last of those giant muffins that Barbarilina-Marina-Nachos-Supreme baked yesterday.

“You were eating?” Peter the Ace asked in amazement. “Didn’t our phenomenal breakfast give you stomach ache?”

What’s stomach ache?

“You know what it is!”

I can imagine what it is,” Panman said. “but I don’t know what it is.

“Hmmm... Never mind. Did you get the emergency message?”

Yeah. What’s up?

“Something passed through the defence shield and hit our hanger bay!”

That’s impossible!

“I thought it was too, but it’s happened none the less. We should get down there now.”

Too right! Give me two minutes to get cleaned up. I’ll meet you in the elevator.

The communicator fell silent for three seconds, then bleeped.

“Yes, who is it?” Peter the Ace asked.

Prime hanger bay chief technician Doctor Eric Brillo BSc BEng MSc Meng PHD, sir.

“Ah, Eric! Panman and I are on our way down to you.”

Eric Brillo sounded agitated. “You’d better be quick, sir. A weird event is occurring!

“What do you mean?”

Something has happened to your metal assistant!

“Justin? Has he been brutally annihilated?”

No sir. It’s much worse!

“Worse?” Peter the Ace said with enhanced calm. “Okay, don’t panic. We’re on our way.” The bounty hunter got to his feet and opened his expansive wardrobe. “Time to try on my new and improved battle gear!” he said with more than a little excitement.


Peter the Ace and Panman stepped out of the elevator and walked briskly along the deep carpeted and ornately decorated corridor that lead to the prime hanger bay. Fifty heavily armed security guards lined the walls, ready to lacerate anyone without any adequate means of identification. Of course, Peter the Ace and Panman were so famous beyond belief that their mere presence was identification enough. Each guard bowed down in turn as their idols passed confidently by.

The large double doors at the end of the corridor opened obediently as the two bounty hunters approached. They entered the awsome hanger bay. The ceiling of the bay, two hundred metres above, was covered in maintenance machinery and power conduits, several of which were connected to the Blenheim’s topside. Energy pulsed through masses of cabling and equipment, all of which was dedicated solely to the momentous task of keeping the Blenheim operating at its maximum potential. Over one hundred technicians scurried over, under, and inside the stunning ship, preparing its systems for a possible immediate launch.

“I love our hanger bay!” Panman said happily. “It’s the biggest and best equipped in the whole palace.”

“And so it should be.” Peter the Ace said. “We have the biggest and best ship!”

“That’s true enough.”

Prime hanger bay chief technician Doctor Eric Brillo BSc BEng MSc MEng PHD approached. “Good morning, sirs.”

“Eric!” Peter the Ace said. “What is this problem with Justin?”

A rhythmic thudding started to reverberate around the hanger. Doctor Eric Brillo looked stressed. “That’s the problem, sir!” he said. “Please follow me.”

Peter the Ace and Panman followed the chief technician to the massive hanger bay door, currently closed. Lesser technicians bowed and dropped to their knees in acknowledgement of the two mega-bounty hunters that had graced them with their presence.

“Whoa!” Panman exclaimed at the sight that lay before him.

“Whoa indeed!” Peter the Ace said.

Justin was standing in front of the giant door. He was punching it hard with his powerful metal arms.

Panman fearlessly approached the mechanoid trainee. “Justin?” he asked. “What are you trying to do?”

Justin’s head turned to face Panman, his arms continuing to punch the door. “I must leave this place.” he said. His eyes glowed a demonic shade of deep crimson.

“If you want to leave the Central Tower, why don’t you use the elevator?”

“I must leave this place.” Justin reiterated. He carried on punching.

Panman stepped closer to the cyborg.

Justin gave a warning. “Come closer and you will die.”

“You can’t kill me!” Panman laughed. “Why are you making such empty threats?”

Justin ignored him and continued his inane attempt to break through the hanger bay door.

Panman walked back over to Peter the Ace. “Something’s frazzled his sanity circuits!” he said.

Peter the Ace was thoughtful for a moment. “That unidentified beam that hit this hanger must have hit Justin too.” he said with consummate intelligence. “That’s the only explanation.”

Panman was also thoughtful. “Maybe it contained a message telling him to go somewhere?”

“You could be right, but why doesn’t he leave in the normal fashion?”

“As I said before, his sanity circuits have been damaged. That’s why he’s acting in such a bizarre way and making threats that he could never fulfil.”

“You’re right!” Peter the Ace said in a sage-like manner. “There’s only one thing that we can do.”

“What?”

“Open the hanger bay door and let him out.”

Panman questioned his companion’s logic. “But we’re more than four hundred and fifty levels above the ground. Won’t the fall damage him?”

“Probably,” Peter the Ace answered, “but it will provide us with proof.”

“Proof of what?”

“Of whether or not his sanity circuits are frazzled.”

“How?”

“Well, if, once the door is open, he sees how far he will fall and decides not to leave that way, we’ll know that he’s sane. If, however, he still decides to go, then he’ll definitely be crazy and the damage he suffers from the fall will enable us to capture him and repair his digital brain.”

Panman smiled. Peter the Ace was wise as always. “Let’s do it!”

Peter the Ace turned to Doctor Brillo. “Eric. Open the hanger bay door.”

“Yes, sir!”

Eric contacted the prime hanger bay control centre situated behind some huge glass view-ports high up the hanger’s back wall. A deep rumbling became audible as the mammoth door began to descend rapidly into the floor. It took less than fifteen seconds for the door’s powerful nuclear motors to open it completely.

Justin started to walk out towards the edge. Peter the Ace and Panman followed him, Doctor Brillo and his staff following the bounty hunters. The cyborg paused at the rim and looked back at the people watching him.

“I must leave this place.” he said without emotion, and then stepped off the edge.

The two bounty hunters and the technicians looked down in astonishment as Justin plummeted towards the street below, his arms and legs flailing randomly in all directions. He smashed into the concrete surface, creating a cloud of dust and debris.

After a few seconds silence, Panman looked at Peter the Ace. “He’s definitely insane!”

“Indeed.” he agreed solemnly. “My test was a success.”

Eric was agitated once again. “Look!” he said, pointing down.

Peter the Ace looked down. Something was moving away from the point of impact. He energised his eyepiece magnification unit, looked down, then looked at Panman. “Justin is walking down the street!”

Panman used his own eyepiece magnification unit. “You’re right!” He said with surprise. “And he’s completely unscathed!”

“Strange things are afoot.” Peter the Ace said. “Strange things indeed!”

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