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Book: Mechanism
Chapter 20: Heavy Metal Fist

Several million tonnes of molten rock oozed around the base of Pinnacle West, the western district’s tallest and most luxurious apartment block. Its large marble lobby, excessively expensive in design and build, was already half filled with the lava, its extremely efficient air-conditioning systems turning the magma to solid rock in seconds.

Christopher Cranium, the building’s portly porter, was staring down at the lava from one of the lobby’s balconies. He was sobbing loudly. He could not believe what had happened to his beloved tower. If only he hadn’t wedged open the main door whilst trying to carry inside a large widescreen tele-video system, the building’s defence systems could have sealed all entrances in time.

Christopher was more than 150 years old and had been the porter there since he was eighteen. His father, Elvis Cranium, an excessively fat kebab constructor for one of the palace’s lower class eating establishments, had been very proud of his son’s achievement. Never before had a Cranium risen to such a lofty social position. At his son’s hatting ceremony at the Amino Portering College he had cried openly and several times had to wipe his tears away on his string vest. His son had done well. Elvis died one hour later during a freak accident with his kebab machine. Pictures of his impaled and bloodied body had been spread across all of the Palace of Amino’s major publications and video channels. When Christopher had heard the news of his father’s dramatic death he had vowed to make the name Cranium highly respected in the portering world. After more than a century of hard work, he was elected president of PHUC, the Porters and Housekeepers Underwater Club, a position which he had held ever since.

But that position was now in jeopardy. How could he face his colleagues after flooding his building with lava? How could he face confronting the apartment block’s furious tenants? How could he visit his father’s grave and explain his failure? How could he ever eat olive soup again? These questions tormented his mind sending him into and uncontrolled spiral of despondency and despair. The sulphurous clouds of smoke that billowed into his tobacco stained lungs did not help. He felt dizzy and faint.

After a minute of mental torment he made the ultimate decision. He scanned the sea of hardening lava until he found a part well away from the air-conditioning, a part still molten and smoky. He ran as fast as his flabby body would allow, leaping sofas and chairs, potted plants and small green vases. Finally he leapt over the balcony. His leap would have appeared elegant and rehearsed had he not caught his shoe on one of the railings. He tumbled clumsily and heavily into the boiling rock, his arms flailing in all directions. He shrieked in torment as the fierce heat ate into his unconditioned flesh, vaporising his skin, fat, muscles, organs, and tendons in seconds. The last thing that he felt was his face melting and spears of heat cutting through his eyes and burning their ways along his optic nerves. His still conscious brain felt their wrath milliseconds later. The freedom and peace of death washed away his life as the lava completely consumed his physical form.

Christopher Cranium ceased to exist.

Commander Pepe stood behind scanner operator Suzanna Havabanana as she frantically manipulated her control panel. He noticed with glee that she had not had time to repair the large tear in the front of her uniform. Her adorable breasts exuded heavily from her chest for all to see. “The lava has progressed more that three kilometres into the palace!” she said with distress.

The commander looked up at the giant view-screens that were displaying images and statistics of the lava’s grim progress. “Give me a damage report.”

Suzanna called up the appropriate files from her console. Data appeared on the screen before her. “All parks and gardens in the outer districts have been destroyed. Several gardeners have been cooked into oblivion!”

“What about the buildings?”

“All towers apart from Pinnacle West were automatically sealed by their defence systems when the molten rock passed by. Their structural integrity remains high.”

“What happened to Pinnacle West?”

“It appears that some loose minded moron with the intelligence of a decomposing bowl of citrus fruits wedged the front door open. its auto-seal functions couldn’t operate in time!”

“Incompetence!” Commander Pepe shouted. “If we come through this crisis alive I’ll have the building’s porter stripped of all qualifications and relocated to the sanitation caverns. He can spend the next decade shovelling excrement for a living!”

The scanner operator looked up at him with a worried expression. “Do you really believe that we may be destroyed?”

The commander forced a smile. “It’s always a possibility. This organisation has slaughtered and humiliated tens of thousands of degenerate miscreants during its three centuries of existence, and also decimated several dozen putrid civilisations along the way. Almost all of the planetary systems vaporised during that time period can be linked to bounty hunter activity. We have many many enemies in this galaxy and, although our defences are the best and most expensive ever constructed, they are not completely impenetrable.”

Commander Pepe noticed that Suzanna was struggling to compress her fear of death.

“So you’re saying that this is a revenge attack?” she asked shakily.

“It could be,” he replied. “And if it is, it’s a very cunning attack indeed. Our defences here are designed to stop an orbital offensive against the palace, as was admirably demonstrated when Lawrence’s fleet of desolation assaulted us five years ago. This attack, however, warped the minds of our artificial community. It was almost like an attack from within and caught us totally by surprise. The lava was another unforeseen turn of events. It has turned out to be an attack of the utmost ferocity and at this precise moment it seems unstoppable.”

A tear appeared in Suzanna Havabanana’s left eye and tricked down her cheek.

“Don’t despair completely.” the commander said calmly. “Peter the Ace and Panman are confronting the demonic forces that initiated this infringement of our liberties as we speak. I’m sure that if anyone can find a solution to this problem, they can.”

“Yes.” Suzanna agreed. “They are my idols. I trust them with all of my heart and all of my soul.” An alarm sounded. The scanner operator turned back to her console. “It’s the cyborgs!” she said.

“Channel it to the main screen!” the commander ordered.
A large and complex series of images spread profoundly across the largest display. The cyborgs had leapt off the head of the lava wave and were scaling buildings at a remarkable rate. Some of the smaller and less opulent towers, homes to menial workers such as waiters, cleaners, shop assistants, research analysts, and media sales executives, had already been penetrated. Their occupants were being thrown mercilessly into the boiling rock below as the mechanoid maniacs punched their way through window after window and door after door. Never before had so many palace staff been blistered beyond recognition in such a short period of time. Something had to be done fast.

Commander Pepe looked around the vast Amino Battle Command hall. “Where is my head of internal defences?” he shouted.

A short man, bearded and yellow skinned, sprinted out of a lavatory and headed towards the commander. “Lieutenant Harrison Ectoplasm reporting for duty, sir!”

The commander was not impressed. “Where the hell have you been? You should have been at you station!”

“Sorry.” Harrison said. “I was reading.”


“Yes. I know I should have been at my post but there hasn’t been an internal defence problem for five years. It’s been really boring.”

The commander was fuming. “Boring?! Look at the screen. Is that boring to you?”

The lieutenant looked up. “It looks a bit more interesting than normal, I guess.”

“Well you guess right, Mister Ectoplasm. Mobilise your staff. I want those cyborgs savagely dismantled immediately.”

“It’s as good as done, sir.”

“No it isn’t! Get to work!”

Harrison Ectoplasm rushed off to his little used desk at the back of the command centre. Commander Pepe had wound himself up into a fit of stress and rage. He breathed heavily in a failed attempt to calm down.

Suzanna noticed his predicament and got to her feet. “You need to relax.” she said soothingly. “Harrison can take over for a while. Why don’t you visit your chamber for another massage?”

The commander nodded. “I will.” he said. “But only if you join me.”

Suzanna had a look of unwillingness on her face. “I’m needed at my console. I can’t really...”

“Nonsense!” Commander Pepe said. “Didn’t I say before that I know what your doubts are? Drugs will dispense with them. Follow me and give it a try. If you don’t enjoy pleasuring me you can return to your position immediately.”

Suzanna nearly barfed at the though of touching the commander’s naked body, but decided that it would be character building to try. “All right.” she said. “I’ll come.”

“That’s the whole idea!” the commander said with a grin. He led the overflowing scanner operator up the spiral staircase that lead to his balcony.

Apprehension and dread filled Suzanna’s soul.

The lead cyborg Justin, badly battered and smouldering, and with only one arm, a torso and a head, was clinging to the railings on the terrace of apartment 9103 high up the Perfidious Tower building. How he managed to drag his wildly damaged form this far up is anyone’s guess, but he did, and that’s what matters.

Powerful servo mechanisms in his shoulder pulled him onto the balcony in a most inelegant manner. He slammed onto its surface with a thud, cracking the intricate tile work and ruining the glazing. Ahead of him was an open glass door leading to what appeared to be a modest and sparsely furnished room. Not that it mattered to Justin how tasteless and bland the decor was. His insane mechanoid mind merely saw the opportunity for carnage and destruction. He logically deduced that if the door was open, someone was home. He began to slowly drag himself across the terrace, his nefarious red eyes glowing with the demented anticipation of what was to follow.

Lewis Gutter stood in front of his kitchen’s re-hydrator and set the reconstitution level to four.

“GROM SWILL READY IN SIX MINUTES.” the appliance announced in monotone.

Lewis grunted, annoyed that he had to wait so long for his favourite meal to reform. If only he could afford to buy the Hydro-Max 1,000,000, the most advanced re-hydrator on the market. It would reconstitute his swill in seven seconds.

He wandered dejectedly over to the window and looked down at the palace freeways and buildings below. The lava had passed his tower and was heading towards the central districts, consuming every tree, bush, and concessions stand in its way as it did so. Although he had been watching the tele-video news reports, he didn’t really know what was going on. His occupation as a drainage inspector second class meant that he was on the lowest level of job status, even lower than that of trainee assistant coffee stirrer. With that level of social standing, he was only entitled to edited highlights of current events and not the whole story. The Superior Beings had decided, quite rightly, that his position in palace society made it unnecessary for him to be well-informed and he was barred from watching more intelligent and higher class channels.

What a shit 24 hours! He thought, reflecting on his life over the last day. First, I’m thrown out of Georgina’s Grub Bucket because two bounty hunters need a table. Then, while I’m working in the cesspool, I accidentally swallow some sewerage and vomit all over my supervisor, who subsequently suspends me for the rest of the day. Then, just as I decide to use the free time to better myself by enrolling on an afternoon table polishing course at the Amino Retarded Under-Class college, the powers that be order that all menial staff are confined to their apartments for the duration of the current crisis!

Two heavily armoured skycars whooshed by his window and descended towards the lower levels of the building opposite. They fired, sending untamed beams of brightly speckled energy fizzing towards two figures that seemed to be clinging to its sides. Lewis gasped as the figures exploded. Metal debris scattered down to the ground.

Mechanoids climbing buildings? he asked himself. Why the hell would they do that?

He continued to watch as another cyborg on a lower level took the next barrage of fire squarely on its chest. Although it was half blown away, it managed to cling on to the window frame above.

Lewis was shocked by what he saw next. The mechanised being punched the window, shattering the pane of toughened glass with ease. It reached inside and grabbed the apartment’s occupant who had been watching the commotion from what she’d thought had been a safe vantage point. How wrong she was. The mechanoid pushed away from the side of the building and plummeted to the surface dragging the screaming woman with it. Lewis cringed as he saw her limbs ripped from their sockets and tossed away like used plastic cups. Trails of blood and vital fluid spread through the air. Crushed organs scattered over an ever widening area. When he saw her head separate from her body he puked. Chunky sick covered his kitchen window, blocking his view of the grisly scene below. He could still hear the blasts of energy weapons though, as security teams continued to destroy the cyborgs.

What is going on? He asked himself nervously. I had better shut my terrace door. One of those mad machines might make it up here!

Lewis wandered into his poorly decorated living room and over to the open glass doors. He closed it and activated the electronic lock. It buzzed then clicked.

“DOOR SEAL COMPLETE.” announced the door.

Lewis smiled. I reckon I’m safe now. He turned, switched on his tele-video system, and then sat down in his favourite pink armchair. He selected the only news channel that he was authorised to watch. He grinned greasily as the love of his life, Yolanda Panda, appeared on the screen. Her long and flowing auburn hair, her wee little nose, and her garrotte scarred neck sent shivers of delight bouncing down his spinal column. Twice he had been arrested and charged with stalking her but he didn’t care. He would gouge out one of his own eyes and slam a blunt pencil into one of his own ears to catch a glimpse of her Epicurean physique. She began to speak and a surge of pleasure spiralled through his body.

I’m Yolanda Panda and you’re watching Under-Class News, the specially censored and inaccurate information service for menial workers and lobotomised deviants throughout the Palace of Amino. This afternoon’s stories: Seven groundskeepers are brutally burned alive by the lava invasion. We have close up pictures of their demise. And exclusive footage of a porter’s suicidal dive into boiling rock. Surveillance cameras catch it all in glorious black and white. But first, the demented cyborg invasion.

Lewis waited eagerly to hear some news of what he had just witnessed.

Yolanda continued. “Everything is fine. There is nothing to worry about. Just keep your apartments locked up and don’t look out of any windows. What you can’t see can’t hurt you, right?

A look of annoyance filled the drainage inspector’s face. They must think I’m some kind of ignoramus! He said to himself. Still, I’ve already done what she said so I must be okay.

A sudden rush of excruciating pain registered in Lewis’s brain. He screamed as he was pulled heavily into his chair’s soft back. There was a cracking sound, then a snapping sound, then a muffled splurge. Lewis fell forward gasping for air as one of his lungs collapsed. He crumpled to the floor, his legs completely devoid of any feeling. Looking round at his armchair he gasped with shock. A large metal arm had punched through the back of the chair and was holding on to what looked like a segmented piece of bone, a couple of tendons, and several bloodied strands of twitching muscles. The arm retracted through the hole. A metal face, eyes as red as rubies, appeared from around the side of the chair. Terror filled Lewis’s entire being as he dragged himself across the room in a pointless attempt to reach his communicator on the far wall. A scraping noise followed him. The cyborg was approaching and was pulling itself along the floor at a much greater velocity than the drainage inspector could ever manage. Lewis felt a pulling sensation and looked back. The cyborg had gripped onto his left leg and was pounding it hard. The sound of crunching bone filled the room as one of his lower limbs was crushed to a bloody pulp. Lewis’s paralysis meant that he felt no pain, but the sight made him vomit profusely. He tried to pull himself away but couldn’t quite manage. The cyborg was now pounding his other leg. Splashes of flesh and blood scattered through the air. Weakening by the second, Lewis tried to escape once more. This time he managed, his pummelled legs separating easily from his hips. The communicator was only a metre from him now. I’m going to make it! He thought. I can call for help and then everything’ll be okay! A violent punch to the back of his neck put an end to those thoughts of blind optimism. Lewis rolled onto his back, noticing that the intense pain from his torso had disappeared. He also noticed the cyborg looming over him. It began to pound his stomach. Lewis felt nothing as this happened and watched with disbelief as his crushed internal organs flew through the air. The world started to fade as blood loss finally began to eat away at his consciousness. There goes my rib cage. He thought peacefully as cracking noises filled his ears. He looked up. And here goes my face. The last few molecules of oxygen in his brain allowed him to watch as the heavy metal fist descended towards him...

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