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