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Book: Mechanism
Chapter 17: Gaseous Flesh

Peter the Ace and Panman ran like thigh-augmented battle hogs through the maze of passageways within the gargantuan intergalactic purple pyramid. The glowing orb of light followed them closely, letting loose occasional bursts of lethal death. Debris scattered everywhere.

“I suggest that we duck into a side room.” Panman said without a hint of breathlessness.

Peter the Ace agreed. “Yes. This chase is getting a bit tedious, isn’t it?!”

The two saviours of sentience leapt sideways and into a small hatchway. The orb reacted too slowly and overshot giving Panman time to close the hatch and seal it rapidly with a small index finger-mounted blow torch. “Easy as an advanced calculus examination after thirty litres of Bowel-Rupture Ale!”

“Well done.” Peter the Ace said. He looked around the room that they had entered. It was small, less than ten metres in length, and contained two strange looking pods of intricate design and manufacture. He walked over to them and peered inside. “What do you make of these?”

Panman joined him and examined the devices. “They appear to be containers of some sort.” Panman’s deduction processors were working at full capacity.

“Look inside.”

Panman looked.

“What do you see?” Peter the Ace asked.

After a moments deep thought Panman spoke. “I see two frozen humanoid forms.”

“Indeed.”

“In fact,” Panman continued, refining his answer. “I see two frozen human forms!”

“Right!”

“Wow! I thought that this weird and gigantic craft of odd colours was extra-galactic. Where did they find these two?”

“It’s a mystery of biblical proportions!” Peter the Ace exclaimed. “Let’s defrost them and find the answer!”

Peter the Ace and Panman dextrously operated the strange alien controls as if they had been doing so for their entire lives. Within less than a minute, the pods were hissing and buzzing in a highly entertaining way.

“We’re so cool!” Panman said truthfully.

The two bounty hunters watched as the devices continued to warm up. After a couple of minutes the hissing stopped and the pods’ doors exploded across the room.

“Quite dramatic!” Peter the Ace said as the noise disappeared. He walked over to the first pod. The figure inside was now completely free from the effect of the device’s cryogenic generators. It was moaning softly and rubbing its face. Peter the Ace stepped back; a look of intense surprise filled his face.

Panman had noticed his companion’s expression and walked over to join him. When he saw who was in the pod, his face took on the same look.

The figure looked up suddenly then leapt into the air. Peter the Ace and Panman leaned out of the way as the defrosted dude somersaulted and twisted over them and across to the other side of the room. It landed hard on its butt, and then quickly got to its feet. “What the fuck is going on?”

Peter the Ace walked over to it. “Ross Mental!” he said cheerfully. “We were wondering where you’d got to!”

Ross Mental looked up. “Peter the fuckin’ Ace?”

“It is I!”

“Cool as fuck!”

“I am indeed.”

“Am I glad to see you! How the fuck did you get this fuckin’ far out of the fuckin’ galaxy to rescue me?”

Peter the Ace was slightly confused. “Out of the galaxy? You’re delirious my friend. We are well and truly in the galaxy.”

“I’m in the galaxy?”

“Indeed you are!”

“But the ultra-space blast after we performed the S.T.O.R.M. on that fuckin’ dough fucker blew me one hundred thousand light years away!”

“Interesting. Then how did you get here?”

Ross Mental looked around. “Where the fuck is here?”

“You’re inside a mammoth two thousand kilometre tall purple pyramid. You were frozen in that pod.”

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter looked at the cryogenic device. “I don’t remember getting into that fucker. All I remember is staring at the galaxy from my ship and getting fucked off at the thought of spending the next fuckin’ year travelling home with only the Morbid’s fuckin’ computer as company!”

“You remember nothing else?”

“Vaguely. Something was there with me. Something twisted and fuckin’ evil. Before I could react I felt a severe pain on my fuckin’ cranium. Then I was here.”

Before Peter the Ace could come up with a fantastic theory on what had happened, a stomping noise from behind him interrupted his train of thought. He turned around. He noticed that Panman had dropped to his knees and was aiming his fusion pistol squarely at the second pod. Standing in front of the second pod was a man, an obviously sadistic and macabre man, heavily clad in a tattered and ooze stained cloak. His head was almost completely bald apart from two tufts of matted black hair behind his ears. Most of the top of his scalp was covered in what looked like teeth marks, and the bare bloody bones of his skull cap could be clearly seen through several gaping wounds.

Peter the Ace spoke with complete and utter calm. “Hello Lawrence. You seem to pop up in the most strangest of places!”

The lord of doom spoke. “Bounty bastard!”

Panman fired at Lawrence’s left shoulder, burning away part of his cloak and several layers of skin. Lawrence fell back, slamming his blistered head against the pod. “Be careful what you say.” Panman said. “I’m in the mood for injury creation.”

Lawrence stared at the snack loving bounty hunter in a purely demonic manner.

Peter the Ace wandered confidently over to the dark lord of dung. “How did you survive and escape the destruction of Mud-Paq?”

“My phenomenal intellect enables me to overcome the most potent problems.” Lawrence cackled.

Panman smiled. “It didn’t enable you to overcome your baldness!”

“Panman’s got a point!” Peter the Ace said as he laughed.

Lawrence screamed. “You’ll all die in eternal torment within the deep crevasses of my private skin evaporation clinic!”

“You don’t have a clinic!” Panman said.

“I have many clinics!” Lawrence insisted insanely. “And they’re all deadly places of eye gouging ferocity and stench!”

“You’re clearly mad.” Peter the Ace said. “Now answer my question and tell me how you escaped the destruction of Mud-Paq.”

Lawrence scowled, grimaced, frowned, and then spat a huge lump of green phlegm at the bounty hunter. “You’re supposed to be highly intelligent. You tell me how I survived!”

“Okay.” Peter the Ace said back-flipping over the flying splat of gunge as it passed by. He landed perfectly and steadily. “After Panman, Ross Mental and I, and the vacuum-packed Martha entered the Blenheim, you grabbed onto its awesomely designed underside. When we dropped Ross Mental off at his ship high up the mountain, you followed him and hid inside. After the dough monster had been decimated, you sneaked up behind Ross Mental and in a cowardly and completely underhanded way, smashed him on the head. You intended to fly the Morbid back to the Palace of Amino and take over from the Superior Beings as supreme controller of all bounty hunter activity, turning our exalted organisation into a depraved legion of brain sucking fang faces. But, while en-route back into the galaxy, a giant purple pyramid of tremendous dimensions drew you into its confines and froze you like a turkey, ending your ill-conceived plans forever.”

Lawrence stared at the super-insightful bounty hunter. “That is completely untrue!”

Panman laughed. “Your denial proves your guilt!”

Before Lawrence could retort, a loud explosion rocked the room.

“We’d better move.” Peter the Ace said seriously. “That dominator orb type thing is back!”

“Oh yeah,” Panman said. “I forgot about that!”

The wall melted rapidly, heating the room to a sweat-inducing temperature.

“We’ll escape through that conveniently placed second doorway.” Peter the Ace said.

Panman nodded, grabbed Lawrence, and then threw him at the door. It buckled, and then opened. The lord of excrement fell through and thudded onto the wall opposite. The three bounty hunters followed.

Ross Mental looked up and down the corridor that they had stumbled into. “Which fuckin’ way?”

Panman had grabbed Lawrence again and was holding him in a powerful arm-lock. “We have to find and destroy that Xjaq Dominator dude.”

“Let’s get back to your ship and blow up this fuckin’ purple fuckin’ pyramid fuckin’ thing!”

“No!” Panman replied. “We have to preserve it!”

“What the fuck for?”

Peter the Ace interceded. “Panman had the brilliant idea of converting this monster of a vessel into an amazing touring theme park of outstanding and terror inducing quality!”

Ross Mental thought for a moment. “Wow! That’s not just brilliant. It’s fuckin’ brilliant!”

“Thank you.” Panman said. “Anyway, even the Blenheim’s mighty arsenal of firepower cannot completely destroy this cunningly built ship.”

“That’s true.” Peter the Ace said. “We’ll have to murder its occupants instead.”

“Let’s fuck to it!” Ross Mental yelled shaking his fist vehemently.

“You will fail!” Lawrence said menacingly.

Panman punched Lawrence hard on the back of his head. The black lord of gaseous flesh slumped forward and fell limp.

“We can’t have that demonic lord of slaughter along with us.” Peter the Ace said wisely. “He’ll cramp our style. Panman, you should take him back to the Blenheim and seal him in our highest security detention cell. Then you can wait there and be our backup. Ross Mental and I will find and dismember this Xjaq creature.”

“Good idea.” Panman said. “I need a box of doughnuts anyway!”

Panman dragged the unconscious Lawrence away.

Peter the Ace looked at Ross Mental. “Do you feel up to a bit of violence?”

Ross Mental smiled broadly. “Too fuckin’ right I do!”

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