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Book: Mechanism
Chapter 24: Fifty Megaton Nuclear Blasts

The Blenheim - a dark and moody star ship brimming with excessive weaponry - hovered a hundred metres above the base of the column of curvaceous design at the very bottom of the Mechanism’s power core. If anyone had been nearby and seen such a magnificent spectacle of fine design and craftsmanship they would have surely collapsed with pleasure, or at least stabbed themselves in the neck to make sure that they were not dreaming. The Blenheim was indeed a ship that mere mortals could only fantasise about between the bed sheets.


Peter the Ace leapt onto the Blenheim’s bridge and dived to the floor. He rolled head-over-heels towards his command chair. Panman, who had been sitting in that chair, somersaulted into the air and landed perfectly onto his chair at the weapons console. Peter the Ace tumbled expertly into position at his command post.

Ross Mental entered the bridge next. He tossed the severed head of Xjaq Dominator into the air and proceeded to perform a dazzling array of snap punches and flying roundhouse kicks heavily interspersed with the words ‘Fuck’ and ‘Fucker’. Within a second he had landed in a proud and mean-looking pose behind his two companions’ chairs. Xjaq’s head dropped accurately into his hands.

“Coolest flying I’ve ever fuckin’ seen!” he said to Panman. “Fuckin’ terrific rescue!”

“That’s because I’m a cool dude who knows no fear.” Panman said modestly. He looked at the lifeless head that Ross Mental was holding. “Is that what I think it is?”

“Yep! May I present the fucker Xjaq. Well and truly fucked by Peter the Ace!”

“Cool going, Ace!” Panman said with excitement.

“It was no real problem.” Peter the Ace said calmly. “I simply took the opportunity to test my new Assassinator Class One Super-Heated Carnage Blade and it worked beautifully!”

“I can see that!” Panman said. “It’s a shame that I had to break off my pursuit of Zyix Taskmaster in order to pick you two up. Maybe I too could have bagged me an alien mind sucker of diabolical intent!”

“You made the right decision. Our priority is to disable this power core, stop this gargantuan vessel, and prevent the absorption of all our inferiors at the Palace of Amino.”

“And stop the cyborgs’ rampage of gore!”

“Indeed.”

Peter the Ace directed his voice to the ship. “Blenheim, how long until this vast pyramid reaches Enchantia?”

“ACTUAL CURRENT SPEED OF THE DEVICE KNOWN AS THE MECHANISM CANNOT BE CONFIRMED AND THEREFORE AN ACCURATE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION CANNOT BE GIVEN.”

Peter the Ace looked confused. “What the hell is the Mechanism?”

Panman answered. “It’s what Zyix Taskmaster said that this purple monstrosity is called.”

“Oh. Okay. Blenheim, use data obtained before we entered the err... Mechanism to provide an answer.”

“WITH REFERENCE TO VELOCITY SCANS TAKEN BEFORE ENTRY INTO THE DEVICE KNOWN AS THE MECHANISM, THE DEVICE KNOWN AS THE MECHANISM WILL INTERCEPT THE PLANET ENCHANTIA IN TWENTY THREE MINUTES.”

“Arm your weapons systems, Panman!” Peter the Ace said with a touch of urgency.

Panman instantly armed everything he could lay his hands on.

Peter the Ace watched with pride as his companion energised every single destructive force on the ship. “What do you recommend?”

Panman’s exceptional knowledge of armoury was put to good use. “Nukes, at least a dozen. That should do it!”

Peter the Ace nodded. “Yes. That’s what Ross Mental and I thought.”

Panman fiddled with his control panel. It bleeped gently and a multi-coloured display of trajectories and predicted levels of destruction were displayed on the main view-screen.

Ross mental liked what he saw. “Fuckin’ devastation here we fuckin’ come!” A thought suddenly flitted through his mind. “Hey! Wait a fuckin’ minute! My ship is probably somewhere onboard this fucker! We have to find it! I can’t leave without the Morbid!”

Peter the Ace shook his head and asserted his authority. “That won’t be possible.” he said sternly. “Although your ship is an awesome example of palace engineering but we must leave it behind.”

Ross Mental nodded and lowered his head. If Peter the Ace had been a lesser bounty hunter he would have smacked him hard in the mouth for saying what he had said and sent his teeth and torn gums flying across the deck. He was, however, a superior bounty hunter of exceptional sentience. Ross Mental knew his place and showed incredible restraint.

Peter the Ace noticed his companion’s quiet distress. “Don’t worry.” he said. “The Mechanism should remain relatively intact. We can look for it later.

Ross Mental felt better. “You’re fuckin’ right as always.”

With that small personnel problem sorted out, Peter the Ace returned to the current task and said one of the words that Panman loved the most. “Fire!”

Panman slammed his tightly clenched right fist down onto a large red pad at the centre of his console. The words ‘LAUNCHED... DETONATION IN FIVE SECONDS.’ appeared on the view-screen.

Peter the Ace decided that now was a great time to leave the power core. He dextrously operated his flight controls and accelerated the Blenheim up the deep shaft.

A flash of intense light illuminated the power core almost to its top end as twelve simultaneous fifty megaton nuclear blasts ravaged its base with heat and energy of an almost unimaginable magnitude. Even the ultra-strong materials that made up the column of curvaceous design could not withstand their power. The column’s foundations crumpled and vaporised in the intense wave of destruction that passed along its length.

The Blenheim rolled over and banked to the right. It entered the passageway that Panman had previously blasted away, and just in time too. With unforgiving ferocity, the destructive heat-wave ripped its way up the power core’s shaft tearing it’s lining to shreds.

The Blenheim thundered down the crudely cut passageway with ever increasing speed. Already, it had traversed more than twenty kilometres.

Peter the Ace spoke. “Blenheim, scan the Mechanism’s energy systems and give me a report.”

“THE ENERGY SYSTEMS WITHIN THE DEVICE KNOWN AS THE MECHANISM ARE FLUCTUATING WILDLY.”

Panman shouted with glee. “Whoa! Cool multiplied by ten, or what!” His glee diminished as he thought of something. “Oh no! What if this mammoth vessel falls apart? My theme park of gruesome hazards will never be realised!”

“Calm yourself.” Peter the Ace said. “Blenheim, give me a report on the structural damage generated by our magnificent series of detonations.”

“THE STRUCTURAL DAMAGE CREATED BY THE NUCLEAR DETONATIONS WAS LOCALISED AND AFFECTED AN AREA OF FIFTY THREE SQUARE KILOMETRES ALONG THE LENGTH OF THE POWER CORE.”

Panman sighed and relaxed.

The Blenheim burst out of the passageway that Panman had blasted and entered the tube that led to the outside.

Ross Mental had a thought. “Why didn’t this fuckin’ Mechanism fucker have any internal defences inside that fuckin’ power core? It let us destroy it without any fuckin’ resistance!”

Peter the Ace answered wisely. “That’s the mentality of evil alien dudes from this galaxy and beyond. Without fail, they always assume that their outer defences are impenetrable and therefore omit to install adequate defences deep inside their motherships.”

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter laughed. “Fuckin’ idiots!”

Still accelerating, the Blenheim reached the end of the tube and blasted out into space. The blur of unusual entities around them indicated that they were still travelling in sub-space.

“The power to the Mechanism’s engines has obviously been maintained.” Peter the Ace said as he calmly guided the ship in and out of the masses of giant antennae that protruded from the purple pyramid’s hull.

Ross Mental stated the obvious. “That fucker’s going to collide with the fuckin’ palace at a fuckin’ fuck off speed!”

The Blenheim looped, wove, rolled, and ricocheted through the spiky protrusions.

“WARNING:” the ship announced. “THE SUB-SPACE FIELD SURROUNDING THE DEVICE KNOWN AS THE MECHANISM IS COLLAPSING. FOUR SECONDS TO COMPLETE FAILURE.”

“Brace yourselves!” Peter the Ace said.

The Blenheim lurched violently as normal space surrounded it and the laws of sub-light physics tugged at its structure. All around, the antennae bent and broke away as the uncontrolled emergence from sub-space created tremendous forces that ripped across the Mechanism’s hull. Several chunks of debris, some more than a kilometre in length, smashed into the Blenheim. The flagship of the bounty hunter fleet shuddered as the strength of the impacts dented and buckled its hull.

Alarms sounded. “STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY FAILING.” the ship announced in its usual and computerised way.

Peter the Ace utilised his centuries of flying experience to zigzag the ship to safety. The Blenheim left the debris and destruction behind. The alarms were silenced and peace and quiet returned.

The three bounty hunters smiled at the image on the main view-screen. The planet Enchantia, home of the Palace of Amino, filled the screen. The planet’s luscious green continents and cool blue oceans relaxed the three heroes’ souls. Ross Mental in particular was glad to see his home planet once again.

“Fuckin’ cool as a fuckin’ fucker!” he yelled happily.

Panman was busily tapping away at his control panel.

“Is something up?” Peter the Ace asked.

Panman looked at his colleague. “Yes.” he said solemnly. “Two things, in fact.”

The view-screen’s image changed to an image of technical data and graphics.

“The first thing,” Panman said. “Is that the Mechanism is still heading towards Enchantia at a closing speed of more than three thousand kilometres per second. At that speed it will collide with the planet in fifteen minutes!”

“That’s pretty bad.” Peter the Ace said.

“And,” Panman continued. “The fact that it’s more than two thousand kilometres in height means that the defence grid around the planet will have virtually no effect upon it. The collision will decimate the entire globe!”

“Fuck!” was all that Ross Mental could think of to say.

Peter the Ace was more relaxed about the situation. “And what was the other thing?”

Panman altered the view-screen image. “The pinnacle of the pyramid has detached itself and is thrusting away at tremendous speed.”

Peter the Ace thought for a few milliseconds. “Zyix Taskmaster?”

“Who else?!”

“Let’s get the fucker!” Ross Mental screamed as he dropped Xjaq Dominator’s head and punched the air with both of his fists.

“Wait.” Peter the Ace said. “We have a dilemma here. Do we go after Zyix or do we attempt to save our planet from complete annihilation?”

“Which is the most important?” Panman asked.

“Well, saving our planet would preserve the bounty hunter society which would then continue to save countless lives over the next few millennia. But, the incredible mass of the Mechanism would make it pretty difficult to stop and our chances of success would be low.

“If we choose the other option and go after that rogue globular dude in his miniature Mechanism, we could be sacrificing our incredible organisation. We would, however, stop Zyix from destroying countless civilisations on its trek of destruction through the galaxy. The miniature Mechanism, according to out scans, is more than a hundred kilometres across and considerably larger and more powerful than any ships of the defence forces of the populated systems. They would have no chance without our intervention.”

Ross Mental and Panman thought deeply about the two options.

“We’re fucked!” Ross Mental said uselessly. He was ignored.

Panman suddenly looked at Peter the Ace and smiled.

“What is it that’s making you so happy?” Peter the Ace asked.

“I have a plan that’s as cool as a frozen cucumber!”

Peter the Ace loved Panman’s plans. “You’d better tell me about it then.”

Panman explained his idea with great excitement. The other two bounty hunters laughed at its cunning simplicity.

“That is as cool as a frozen cucumber!” Peter the Ace said. “Why didn’t I think of it first?”

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