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Book: Mechanism
Chapter 8: Steaming Menthol Beer

They’re all beyond the perimeter now,” Commander Pepe said over the communicator. “Some have started digging.

“What are the damn things up to?” Panman asked.

Who knows?” the commander said. “But it seems very ominous!

“Yeah.”

Maybe destroying them would be the safest and kindest thing to do?

“No!!” Panman shouted. “That must be considered only as an extreme last resort.” Panman could not bear the thought that Justin, the palace’s most accomplished kebab compiler, may have to be exterminated.

As you wish, Panman.” Commander Pepe said. “I will not question your wisdom.

The communicator fell silent.

“How’s Justin?” Panman asked, turning to Peter the Ace.

Peter the Ace looked at the scanners. “His rate of progress has increased dramatically. He’s drilled to a depth of over one hundred metres! He’s going to drain the lake!”

“Whoa!” Panman exclaimed.

“Whoa indeed. I’ve started to receive reports from the bounty hunters who are watching over the other mental cyborgs. There are over four hundred of them! And sixty seven have drilled beyond a depth of thirty metres!”

“It appears,” Panman said with sagacious notoriety. “That our mechanical assistant is their leader.”

Peter the Ace smiled. “I never thought of it that way. But he does work for the two greatest galactic saviours ever to exist. He was bound to pick up some exceptional leadership qualities eventually.”

“True.”

“I’m receiving another report.” Peter the Ace said. He read the information on one of the data screens. “Now they’re all drilling!”

Panman was anxious. “We have to find out what’s happening, and quick!” he said. “The Superior Beings may order us to destroy them all if we can’t come up with a solution!”

“Calm yourself my friend. We always succeed in the end!”

The Blenheim’s sensor alarm sounded. Panman looked at the resulting data. “Another beam has swept the area!” he said. “And it’s sustained this time.”

“Can you get a fix on its origin?” Peter the Ace asked.

“Not from here, but Amino Battle Command may have got one.”

Peter the Ace activated the communicator. “Commander Pepe?”

The commander answered. “That was a big one, wasn’t it?

“Indeed!” the bounty hunter agreed. “Did you get a fix?”

Yes!” Commander Pepe said proudly. “Chief Officer Chimpapazapadon was on the ball this time!

“Where is it?”

It came from within the confines of sub-space forty three light years from here. Co-ordinates 123-59-08. Whatever fired the beam is approaching us rapidly at a speed beyond our current maximum.

“It must be highly advanced!” Panman said, accepting a bowl full of chocolate eggs from Carmen who had just swayed on to the bridge. Her hair was still damp from her time in the Jacuzzi. “Even we can’t emit mental control beams from sub-space!”

Carmen handed another bowl full of eggs to Peter the Ace, then left.

Peter the Ace started to munch away. “We must intercept whatever it is immediately.” he said with perfect clarity. “It is a severe threat to our future opulence.”

You have my blessing.” Commander Pepe said. “Good luck.

The communications channel closed. Peter the Ace opened a new channel to the Satyr which was hovering just off the Blenheim’s port side.

“Sarah?”

Peter the Ace!” she said. “I’ve been monitoring what’s happening. It’s so weird it’s actually cool!

“Indeed!” Peter the Ace agreed. “Panman and I are going to intercept whatever it is that’s out there and single-handedly prevent it from rupturing the plane of luxury existence that we have carved for ourselves here at the palace. Stay here and monitor Justin, would you?”

No problem!” she said without a hint of jealousy. The channel clicked, and then went quiet.

Peter the Ace manipulated the helm controls. “Blenheim?” he said, placing another chocolate egg into his mouth. “Plot an intercept course with the unidentified sub-space object.”

“WARNING,” the ship announced. “HEAD-ON SUB-SPACE INTERCEPTION EXCEEDS SAFETY PARAMETERS. CANNOT COMPLY.”

Peter the Ace thought for a moment. “Blenheim, reset the safety parameters so that they are not exceeded.”

“THAT WOULD INVALIDATE THE REASON FOR THE EXISTENCE OF SAFETY PARAMETERS. CANNOT COMPLY.”

Peter the Ace raised his voice. “If you do not comply,” he said assertively. “I will invalidate the reason for your existence!”

There was a moment’s silence.

“SAFETY PARAMETERS RESET.”

“Good. Now, do as I ordered and plot an intercept course with the unidentified sub-space object.”

“INTERCEPT COURSE PLOTTED.”

The course appeared on the main view-screen in an ultra-high resolution graphical format.

Peter the Ace spoke to the ship once more. “Take us out of the atmosphere, maximum vertical acceleration. Engage full sub-space thrust when we’re clear.”


The Blenheim’s super powerful under side engines fired, vaporising several million litres of water in the lake below. The finest craft in the bounty hunter fleet thundered swiftly up through Enchantia’s rich atmosphere.


“Cool beyond cool!” Panman said, finishing his fiftieth and last chocolate egg. “You really showed the Blenheim whose boss!”

“It’s a firm hand that gets things done.” Peter the Ace said wisely.


The Blenheim left behind the speed restrictions imposed by the atmosphere and entered free space. A gentle rumble spread through the ship as the sub-space engines blasted to life, setting the Blenheim free from the shackles of sub-light physics.


“Blenheim?” Peter the Ace asked. “How long until interception?”

“THREE HOURS, FOUR MINUTES, TWENTY TWO SECONDS.”

Panman leapt to his feet. “Plenty of time for a holo-games session!” he said excitedly.

Peter the Ace nodded in agreement. “Awesome idea. Go and initialise the system, I’ll be with you as soon as I finish these eggs.”

“Any suggestions as to what we should play?” Panman asked, walking towards the bridge’s exit.

“How about Exuded Brain Syndrome?”

“Hmm.” Panman said, unsure. “That’s a cool game, but we should go for something more violent to get the both of us ready for the possibility of the mass slaughter session that may await us.”

“You’re right as always.” Peter the Ace said. “We could try Barbarous Deep Laceration zombies Fester Uncontrollably Within the Digestive Tract of a Gigantic, Liver Digesting, Bog Dwelling, Toxic Breath Badger?”

“A classic beat ‘em up!” Panman exclaimed. “I’m there!”

Panman left the bridge. Peter the Ace stuffed down another egg.


Sarah Savage was bored. She’d been monitoring Justin’s position for almost two hours now, and all that had happened was that he’d drilled deeper, twelve kilometres deeper, deep enough to half empty the lake. His rotation rate was now forty revolutions per second and increasing - very odd. It was a mystery as to where the cyborg was getting the energy to keep going.

With intense expertise, Sarah Savage transmitted the data on the cyborg’s progress to Amino Battle Command for analysis, and then pulled herself out of her command chair. She left the Satyr’s cramped but ergonomically designed bridge and stepped into its habitation section. That too was cramped. The galley, tele-video system, bed, and personal hygiene unit were all located within an area of sixteen square metres. Everything was covered with brown leather and studs, Sarah Savage’s favourite form of decoration.

She lay down on her bed and sighed. “This is so tedious.” she said loudly. “I wish I’d asked to go along with the Blenheim. Some other lesser bounty hunter could do this job.” She looked around her small ship. “I can’t even partake in some simulated slashing!”

An ear-splitting thud ended her boredom abruptly. The Satyr began to pitch and yaw wildly. An alarm sounded. Sarah Savage jumped off her bed and staggered through the rocking ship to the cockpit. “Satyr?” she asked. “What’s happened?”

“THE CYBORG NAMED JUSTIN HAS ATTACHED HIMSELF TO MY NOSE CONE.”

Sarah Savage looked out of the forward view-port. Justin was indeed hanging onto the ship’s nose, and trying his hardest to rip it off?”

“How did he get from the bottom of the shaft that he drilled up to here so fast?”

“UNKNOWN.”

“Then speculate!”

“AN UNIDENTIFIED ENERGY SOURCE SATURATED THE LAKE ONE MILLISECOND BEFORE THE CYBORG NAMED JUSTIN APPEARED ON MY NOSE CONE. A COINCIDENCE IS UNLIKELY.”

“Was the energy source from the same place as those other unidentified beams?”

“IT WAS INDEED.”

“Wow!”

Sarah Savage was still watching the mad mechanoid. He was punching, slapping, pinching, and squeezing the nose of her ship. The bounty hunter operated her communicator. “Commander Pepe?”

A reply was prompt and efficient. “This is Chief Officer Chimpapazapadon. Commander Pepe is undergoing a stress reducing total body massage in his personal steam chamber. He’ll be busy for another hour. Can I be of assistance?

“Sure. It’s me, Sarah Savage!”

Ahh Sarah!” the chief officer said. “It’s wonderful to hear your sweet, delightfully coarse, steroid deepened voice again!

“We haven’t spoken for years!”

You’re right!” Chimpapazapadon said. “Not since our violent, torrid, love affair ended.

“Oh yeah!” Sarah Savage said with revelation. “I’d forgotten about that.”

Chief Officer Chimpapazapadon was offended. “How could you forget that?!” he said with extreme annoyance. “Our three hour bedroom sessions were...

“Don’t take it personally,” Sarah Savage interrupted. “I am a very high ranking bounty hunter. It takes a lot to satisfy me. Anyway, there have been sixteen others since our minor relationship ended.”

Sixteen others?!” the chief officer exclaimed. “Minor relationship?!

The bounty hunter changed the subject quickly. “I have an update on Justin’s situation.”

The chief officer took a deep breath to calm his nerves. “Is he trying to rip the front of your ship off?” Chimpapazapadon asked with complete professionalism.

“Yes!” Sarah Savage said with surprise. “How did you guess?”

All the bounty hunters monitoring the other cyborgs have just reported the same thing.

“What could they possibly be trying to achieve?”

Maybe it’s some robot rights demonstration, or something?

“If it wasn’t for those strange beams that have been hitting the palace, I would have thought of the same thing.”

Hold on,” the chief officer said. “I’m getting some more information... Oh no!

“What is it?” Sarah asked with concern.

Two bounty hunter ships have crashed! The attacking cyborgs destroyed them!

“Whose ships?”

Jasmin Pawasacket’s and Boris the Well-endowed’s.

Sarah Savage suffered an instance of shuddering body shock. A tear appeared in her left eye and rolled down her cheek. “You were the best, Boris.” she whispered quietly, sniffing some dribbling fluid back up her nostrils. She bowed her head in respect.

You knew Boris?” asked the chief officer.

“Very well.” she answered, wiping her eyes. “We pleasured each other regularly.”

You were lovers?!” he shouted in disbelief.

“You didn’t know? He used to come to my apartment after you’d left.”

Chief Officer Chimpapazapadon was distraught. “How could you?

“I had too!” Sarah Savage said. “You never finished what you started. Boris used to complete the job. He was huge, and sometimes he’d be so eager to please that he’d almost split me into two!”

Enough!” the chief officer shouted.

“Calm yourself.” she said. “We’d better discuss this, but not now. We have a more pressing problem.”

Chief Officer Chimpapazapadon had no choice but to agree. “You’re right. Let’s hope that Panman and Peter the Ace find the source of those beams and neutralise it, before it causes any more deaths.

“I’ll drink to that!” Sarah Savage said. And she did, too. Under the Satyr’s cockpit chair was a four litre flask of steaming Menthol Beer. The bounty hunter grabbed it, unscrewed the top, and then knocked back its entire contents. She burped loudly with extreme satisfaction.

Justin continued to bash away at the Satyr’s outer hull.

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