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Book: Mechanism
Chapter 6: Mass Mechanoid Anarchy

Sarah Savage had been in her second apartment brutally slashing holographic representations of nausea-inducing sweat ogres when the bright red alert had been sounded. She had immediately put down her bulky broadsword and consulted her data-screens.

Her second apartment was on the one hundred and thirty-second floor of Pinnacle West, a luxury residential block right at the western perimeter next to highway one. Although she had an apartment in the Central Tower just below Panman’s, Sarah Savage was rarely there. She liked the relative seclusion of living in the outer districts. It allowed her to decapitate virtually real Kharrazillaniollian reptiles without distraction.

After realising that Peter the Ace and Panman were handling the situation, Sarah Savage had experienced a feeling of deep calm. She knew that, whatever the problem, it was in good hands. Having seated herself by a large south facing window with a five litre pitcher of strong ale, she relaxed and began to recover from the simulated slaughter that she had just experienced.

While she had been sat there she had witnessed with interest the amazing crash by Justin, and watched with sadistic delight as the shiny cyborg had been thrown through the air and into the defence shield.

“What a total idiot!” she had shouted, laughing loudly.

She had also noticed that Peter the Ace’s car was down there and had waved with admiration as the vehicle drove back along the highway towards the central districts. She realised that Peter the Ace, even with enhanced vision, was unlikely to have seen her, but she had felt obligated to wave, if only as a sign of eternal respect.

Ten minutes later the Blenheim had thundered passed, less than fifty metres from her window. She had stood and gazed at it in awe as it filtered through the shield and out over the forests.

Sarah Savage had not always held her two superiors in such high regard. For almost the whole century that she had been a high ranking second class bounty hunter, she had been secretly jealous of Peter the Ace and Panman. How could she ever become the top bounty hunter with those two ahead of her? Her ship, the Satyr, was incredible, but nothing when compared to the Blenheim. Her strength and combat ability was legendary, but not as legendary as Peter the Ace’s and Panman’s. Her two apartments were large and luxurious, but not as large and luxurious as the six stunning penthouses of both Peter the Ace and Panman. After ninety years of insanely gut-wrenching envy, she had finally come to terms with the fact that the top jobs at the Palace of Amino would never be available. Her strong and focused willpower, and her potent supply of mental alteration drugs had finally worked, and cured her of jealousy.


Sarah Savage was about to start on another of her flesh tearing simulations when the communicator bleeped. She answered it. “Yo! What?”

Sarah Savage, how’s it going?

She smiled broadly. “Panman! I haven’t heard from you for over a year!”

Yeah. Peter the Ace and I tried to get in touch with you when we returned from our mammoth mission marathon but you were still away devastating mutoid crustaceans on Calcon IV.

“I was.” Sarah Savage said proudly. “Six thousand of them had evolved from a small colony of clam shells after a freak nuclear accident sent a powerful beam of radiation into one of the planet’s oceans. I single handedly hacked them all into a bloody pulp!”

Cool!

“It was! The local peasants threw a huge party for me afterwards and wanted me to stay and take up position as the divine ruler of subterranean terrors. That’s the reason why I didn’t get back until two days ago.”

Well, I’m glad you’re back, we may need your help.

“Anytime. How?”

I guess you’ve heard about Justin?

“Yeah.” she said, laughing again. “I was looking out of the window when he flew through the shield!”

Panman laughed too. “You saw that? Cool wasn’t it?!

“Yeah, excellent! I wish I’d recorded it.”

We did!” Panman said proudly. “We used the video system in Peter the Ace’s car!

“Cool!”

Anyway,” Panman said, returning to the task at hand, “We’re hovering above Justin’s position. He’s just walked into Entica Lake and disappeared below the surface. Were watching him on the scanners. He’s stomping along at the bottom.

“What’s he up to?”

We think that the beam that penetrated the defence shield and hit him in the Central Tower has reprogrammed him, or something.

“Reprogrammed him to do what?”

We’re not sure yet. We’re just going to follow him and see what he does. Get your ship ready for action. We may need the best help that we can get, and you’re it!

Sarah Savage felt proud to have been given ‘best help’ status by one of her mentors. “The Satyr’s at my Central Tower hanger bay. I’ll get to it straight away!”

Excellent!” Panman said. “Join us at as soon as you can. Blenheim out.

Sarah Savage smiled, drank the pitcher of ale, and then headed for the exit. She had not had the opportunity to work with Peter the Ace and Panman for almost three years. This was going to be so cool!


Twenty minutes later, the Satyr was airborne and speeding low over the forests west of the palace. It was a small ship, only fifteen metres in length, but cunningly designed to maximise its offensive and defensive capabilities. Two square-funnelled engines on its backside provided unbelievable amounts of thrust when necessary. At the moment though, they were both set to very low power for atmospheric propulsion and glowed a dim, virtually invisible shade of dark red.


Sarah Savage dextrously guided her ship towards the lake, now in visual range straight ahead. The Blenheim could be seen hovering a few hundred metres above the centre of the six kilometre wide expanse of water. With expertise that would stun a professor of avionics, the bounty hunter brought her ship to a halt along the Blenheim’s starboard side. She realised that Peter the Ace and Panmans’ ship dwarfed hers in both size and armourment, but the drugs she had injected earlier in the morning prevented her old feelings of jealousy from returning.

She operated the communicator. “In position.”

Peter the Ace replied. “Great to have you with us! Sorry I didn’t say hello to you before, but Carmen had just brought us several platefuls of pizzas, kebabs, burgers and blueberry pancakes.

Sarah Savage was confused. “I always thought that Panman was the gluttonous one?”

Usually that would be correct, but he decided to test his will power and succeeded in resisting the temptation for the entire duration of your conversation with him!

“Impressive!”

Indeed. While he was talking I decided to avail myself of a rare opportunity and get first go at the food!

“How’d you do?”

Not too well. I only managed to eat two pizzas, three burgers, and six pancakes while you were talking. Panman finished the rest as soon as he got off the communicator.

“How’d he do?”

Six pizzas, eight kebabs, nine burgers, and twelve pancakes!

“Awesome! Where’s he now?”

“In the galley. He needed a drink.

“I’m not surprised!” Sarah Savage said. “He should eat raw flesh like I do. All of the muscle juice and blood reduces the need to take in further liquid refreshment.”

True.

Sarah Savage looked at her scanner view-screen. It was registering a disturbance on the lake bed. “What’s happening?”

I’m not sure.” Peter the Ace replied. “Justin seems to be rotating himself using his lateral motion thrusters. He’s up to four revolutions per second already!

“I didn’t realise he had thrusters?”

He never used to, but after several incidents where he ended up drifting helplessly in space for weeks on end, we decided that some form of personal propulsion would come in handy.

“He’s abusing his gift!” Sarah Savage said.

Indeed! We’ll have to disconnect them if he continues to waste fuel.

Sarah Savage monitored her scanner. “He’s up to eight revs per second! Can’t you turn him off by remote control, or something?”

I’m afraid not.” Peter the Ace said. “We considered including that option when we constructed his body but decided that it would be an infringement of his rights as a sentient being.

“It would have been useful now.”

Indeed it would.


Panman knocked back another glass of lemon water, and then slammed it down onto the galley’s table. “Refreshing!” He said happily.

“Would you like another?” Carmen asked.

“No thank you,” the gluttonous bounty hunter said, patting his gut. “I think eight litres is just enough.”

“Why did you need so much to drink?”

“Very salty pizzas.”

Carmen lowered her head and spoke quietly. “Please forgive me.” she said. “I’ll try better next time.”

“There’s no need for me to forgive you.” Panman said. “They were delicious to the extreme! I love salty food!”

“Really?”

“To right! Having to drink eight litres of lemon water afterwards is a very minor inconvenience.”

Carmen looked up and smiled. “I could add more salt if you’d like?”

“A little bit more would be cool!”

“I’ll remember for next time.”

Panman got to his feet. “I’d better get back to the bridge.”

“Have you finished with me?” Carmen asked.

“Yeah, for now. Why?”

“Is it possible for me to use a shower. I was working out when Peter the Ace called me to duty and haven’t had the time to wash yet.”

“I thought you looked a bit bedraggled!” he said. “I didn’t want to offend you by mentioning it.”

“When I’m clean and perfumed, I’ll look and smell stunning, I promise.”

“I don’t doubt it for a second!”

“Where can I go?”

Panman thought for three tenths of a second. “It’s normal procedure for a temporary assistant to use the permanent assistant’s quarters, but because Justin’s a machine, all he has in his room is a reinforced metal chair and a recharging unit. You’d better use the guest quarters on the upper deck. The Jacuzzi’s always heated and ready. You may as well relax in that for a few minutes.”

Carmen looked excited. “Oh thank you!” she said with intense excitement. “The quality of the Blenheim’s guest quarters is legendary. I feel privileged beyond existence!”

“You are!” Panman said proudly.

Carmen bowed with deep respect, and then left briskly. Panman was about to follow when the communicator bleeped.

“Yo?” he said, pressing the answer button.

Panman?” Peter the Ace said. “You’d better get up here. Justin’s up to something really weird!

“He always is.” Panman said truthfully.

True, but he’s never done this before!

“Sounds interesting. I’m on my way.”

Panman back-flipped out of the galley.


Thirty seconds later, Panman back-flipped on to the bridge and landed skilfully into his chair at the weapons console.

Peter the Ace looked at him. “Doesn’t doing that after eating a huge meal make you feel like vomiting?”

“No way!” he answered. “You must remember that I have had every kind of stomach and intestinal modification available. Nausea is a thing of the past for me.”

“That’s not quite true.” Peter the Ace said. “You haven’t had Doctor DeMorgan’s duodenal back-surge suppression system fitted.”

“It’s still only a prototype!” Panman argued.

“Well, what about the regurgitation recycler?”

“That only became available last week!”

“It’s still available though,” Peter the Ace said. “Making your previous statement false!”

Panman was getting slightly stressed. “The planet Gawlst’Own in the Odious Sector is the only place were it can be fitted. It would take two weeks to travel that far!”

“True, but it still makes your previous statement false, doesn’t it?”

“I guess so!” Panman said. He changed the subject quickly. “So what’s up with Justin?”

“Our cyborg friend has been using his directional thrusters to rotate himself at the bottom of the lake. We couldn’t figure out why he was doing that until he carefully angled his feet.”

Peter the Ace directed the output of the scanners to the main view-screen.

“He’s turned himself into a drill!” Panman exclaimed.

“Indeed. He’s already bored a hole twelve metres deep and is progressing at approximately four metres per minute!”

Panman watched the view-screen. The area of water around the insane cyborg was clouded with rapidly ejected mud and stone. “I’ve never thought of Justin as a drill before.”

“Nor me.” Peter the Ace agreed. “The question now is: Why is he doing it?”

The communicator bleeped. Panman answered it.

“Hello?”

The familiar fat face of Commander Pepe filled the view-screen. “Panman. Peter the Ace. How’s it going?

“Cool.” Panman answered. “Justin’s turned himself into a drill and is boring a hole at the bottom of Entica lake!”

Hmm…” the commander mused. “Perplexing!

“It is. We’re trying to figure out why he’s doing it.”

Well,” Commander Pepe said. “I don’t want to interrupt your work, but the problem with your cyborg assistant seems to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Peter the Ace leaned forwards. “Please explain, commander.”

The palace’s defence shield has been breached again.

“Where did the beam hit this time?” Panman asked with unusual seriousness.

Almost everywhere!” the commander said ominously. “It swept across most of the Palace of Amino before disengaging.

“What’s the damage?”

As before, there appears to be no physical damage, but most of the palace’s cyborg population have begun to act deranged. Many of them are currently engaged in excessively insane attempts to leave here by the most difficult means possible!

Peter the Ace nodded. “Sounds familiar!”

“Yeah.” Panman agreed. “It’s my guess that they’ll all start drilling as well!”

I’ve ordered bounty hunters to follow them and watch what they get up to.” Commander Pepe said. “If their antics become a threat to Amino security, they’ll have to be destroyed.

“Understood, commander.” Peter the Ace said. “Let’s hope that it doesn’t have to come to that.”

Yes.” the commander said solemnly. “There will be a lot of dissatisfied stomachs if that happens!

The communicator fell silent.

“Well,” Peter the Ace said. “It looks like we have some kind of externally influenced mass mechanoid anarchy on our hands!”

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