The Blenheim, one of the most coherently potent space vessels ever constructed, cruised through the entity-dense realm of subspace. Docked on either side were two smaller but no less potent ships – the Morbid and the Horizontal Assassin.
Panman gazed at the hefty naked mass before him. He laughed. “Outstanding! I never thought I’d ever see so many sagging bags of fat on a single whore!”
Mama Flesh looked up at the bounty hunter. She spoke, the folds of flab on her neck wobbling like a disturbed water bed. “Yet another bounty hunter has come to feast on my body!” Her voice was strained. She grinned uneasily, her smeared lip makeup giving her an almost clown-like appearance. She lifted up one of her elephantine legs and tried to roll onto her back. She panted. “Come! Let me gather you up in my…”
She screamed and winced in pain, and then rolled back on to her front, squashing her collection of massive breasts against the hard floor.
Panman noticed that her back was covered in blood-stained foam; the temporary filling of a massive injury. He spoke. “I’ve no interest in such a disgusting body. I’m only here because of your freakish uniqueness.”
The deca-whore was breathing heavily. Her hideous face was screwed up with rage. “You cannot resist me forever, bounty hunter! I’ve seduced some of the highest officials of the most powerful governments! They gave themselves up to my delights, and you will do the same!” She rubbed her sausage-fingered right hand across her pendulous collection of breasts, taking care to avoid the cauterised stump of the missing one. She played with her cow-like nipples. Her expression calmed. She looked at Panman. “You want to do this, don’t you?!”
The first-class bounty hunter laughed again. He turned to Cardigan Moth who was standing next to him. “She’s an amazing find. She’s one of the most compellingly repugnant beasts I’ve ever seen!”
The lesser bounty hunter nodded. “There are very few who would disagree with you.”
Panman was thoughtful. “How could such a hideous whore attract any business at all, let alone seduce high-ranking government officials?”
“It’s quite a mystery.” Cardigan Moth mused. “She must have powers of persuasion that exceed even those of a Sisonpyth Brainwasher - a deadly skill. She should be subjected to years of exhaustive and relentless psychological examination and experimentation when she is taken back to the palace.”
Panman nodded. “Yeah, good idea. At the very least that’ll be fun to watch!” He activated his communicator. “Ace, you really should come over to Cardigan Moth’s ship and see this whore!”
“I would love to, but I’ve discovered something of great interest. It would be better if you and Mister Moth joined me on the bridge.”
Panman had to agree. “That would be a good idea, I guess.”
“Jemima Murma has just brought up two trays of pork and bacon snacks.”
Panman’s eyes were as wide as a bush baby’s. “We’re on our way!”
Panman’s mouth was stuffed to capacity with pig meat. He swallowed hard. “This is your best effort yet!”
Jemima Murma, the Blenheim’s assistant, was standing next to him. She bowed sweetly, her straight black shiny hair glistening under the subtle spotlights, as did the thousands of sequins that covered her tight-fitting purple bodysuit. “You are kind, as always.” She looked up at the bounty hunter. “Is there anything else you require?”
Panman looked at the empty glass next to his weapons console. “Some more mango juice would go down well!”
Jemima Murma smiled and nodded. “I’ll bring some right away.”
Peter the Ace was sitting in his command chair. “Could you bring me a bowl of custard with a sprinkling of nutmeg?”
The assistant nodded. “Of course.” She turned and swayed alluringly off the bridge, her tightly wrapped buttocks swaying and bouncing gently.
Cardigan Moth watched her pass by. He turned to Peter the Ace and Panman. “Your assistant is as sexually attractive as everyone who has met her claim she is.”
Panman’s mouth was stuffed full again. He spoke, his voice muffled. “Yeah, she’s a star!” He turned to Peter the Ace. “So, what have you discovered?”
Peter the Ace operated some controls on his console. The image of subspace on the main view screen changed to a mass of technical drawings and data. “After hearing from Mister Moth about that deca-whore’s attempt at suicide using a super fusion device I became suspicious. It’s not the kind of device I would expect to find on a whore’s ship, especially one with a chest of such vastness.”
Panman swallowed another mouthful of pig flesh and nodded. “Now that I think about it, it does seem odd.”
“I had a look at the sensor logs on the Morbid.” Peter the Ace pointed at the view screen. “As you can see, the super fusion device appears to be of a standard configuration. Even the vacuum-mounted quad-layer triggers and the associated retraction motivators appear completely normal.”
Cardigan Moth cut in. “And the mirrored focus rings, too. All standard.”
The lesser bounty hunter was a little confused. “Although unusual, the whore could have purchased that device on a non-central world with little effort if she had sufficient funds. I do not understand your suspicion.”
“Examine the blast curve, Mister Moth. What do you see?”
Cardigan Moth examined the chart at the bottom of the screen. His eyes widened. “The yield of the detonation is more than 20 percent higher than it should be!”
Peter the Ace smiled. “Correct. Well done!”
Jemima Murma entered the bridge. She handed Panman his glass of mango juice, and then placed Peter the Ace’s bowl of custard and nutmeg along with a spoon and napkin on the table next to his command chair. She bowed and then left quickly.
Panman took a huge swig of his drink. He swallowed hard. “Incredible! How can that happen with standard components?” He burped loudly.
Peter the Ace operated some controls on his console. “Watch this slow-motion playback of the sensor readings at the moment of detonation.” The main view screen now showed the super fusion device in operation. “Unfortunately at this level even the nano-resolution of the Morbid’s sensor does not provide clear images, but they are adequate.”
Panman and Cardigan Moth watched. “Adequate for what?” Panman asked.
Peter the Ace picked up his bowl of custard and put a spoonful of it in his mouth. He swallowed. “Keep watching.”
After another second of the slow-motion playback, just as the inner shell of the super fusion device split open, the image paused.
Panman looked for a second and then his jaw dropped slightly. “No way!”
Peter the Ace reached out to his console and increased the zoom factor of the image. “The lining of that inner shell is not standard. Nor are the shell’s contents.”
Cardigan Moth pointed at the atomic structure chart next to the sensor playback. “The material in the inner shell is an enhanced form of synthetic quantonium!”
Peter the Ace complimented the lesser bounty hunter. “Well done! It is indeed. And where is the only place such a material is know to be manufactured?”
Panman grinned. He had finally figured our where all this was leading. “The Fornax galaxy!”
Peter the Ace smiled. “Yes. The home of the Sadeeni.”
Everything had clicked in Cardigan Moth’s mind. “The presence of the deca-whore was no coincidence. She was planted as a decoy by the Sadeeni whilst they constructed their ship.”
Peter the Ace took another spoonful of custard. “Indeed. From other records on the Morbid, Mama Flesh, as the whore is known, seduced almost all of the senior government officials in Hadus. They are the only people that may have questioned the secret renovations going on in the Government Tower. Their seduction and subsequent obsession with the deca-whore kept their minds focused on something else. Only Governor Ykcor was not seduced, but his extreme seniority meant that he would not be concerned with a matter as mundane as a building renovation, so I guess it was not considered necessary to have him under the whore’s influence, at least not initially, anyway.”
Panman was thinking. He knocked back the last of his mango juice. “How does this information help us deal with the strange ship that left Repugnius?”
Peter the Ace shook his head. “It doesn’t. It’s interesting though, isn’t it?!”
Panman and Cardigan Moth could not disagree. They nodded.
Peter the Ace touched his console and the image changed to that of the Blenheim’s sensor readings. “This, however, does help us.”
The main view screen now showed a scan of subspace. Something was marked on the screen.
Peter the Ace spoke. “That is the strange Sadeeni vessel.” He turned to Cardigan Moth. “Although your attempt to disable its engines was unsuccessful, it seems you did misalign them ever-so-slightly, and the resulting emissions have made the ship very easy to detect.”
Panman examined the data associated with the scan. “It’s almost exactly on the course we predicted.”
“It is. We have managed to catch up to it and are now only half a light-year behind.” Peter the Ace leaned back into his command chair cupping his bowl of custard. He nodded. “All we need to do now is follow it until it leaves subspace. Then we can figure out exactly what it’s for, and why it requires the severed heads of two professors to operate!”
Saying no more, the first-class bounty hunter focused all his attention on the custard.