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Book: The Nomads and the Mind Machine
Chapter 24: A Handful of Cheese

The Blenheim rolled to port, skimming within metres of the large Sadeeni vessel’s teardrop-shaped hull.  Banking hard to avoid several blasts of energy, the bounty hunter ship released a wide spread of missiles and then accelerated hard, its engines burning a blinding shade of red.

The missiles exploded, spreading white sheets of flame across the entire length of the kilometre-long vessel.  Molten hull fragments scattered at hypersonic speed, shredding apart two smaller Sadeeni vessels nearby.

Panman watched the results of his actions on the main view screen.  He laughed.  “Cool as goat’s cheese!”  He thought for a moment, and then operated the communicator.  “Jemima, I need goats’ cheese!”

I’ll bring some up right now.


Panman accelerated the ship faster.  He was on course for Cardigan Moth’s ship, the Horizontal Assassin, just a few dozen kilometres ahead.  “Mister Moth, what’s your status?”

The reply was swift.  “I have no shield capability and extensive hull damage.  Sublight engines are barely operating.

“That Sadeeni ship I just attacked is about to blow.  I doubt you can survive the blast.  I’ll come in behind you.”

The Blenheim shook as an energy blast from another Sadeeni ship found its mark.

With cool dexterity Panman swung the Blenheim round, turning the ship’s largest surface area towards the terminally ill Sadeeni vessel.  Cardigan Moth’s ship was now only a hundred metres away and safely hidden.


The main view screen showed the Sadeeni vessel expanding in a perfect ball of yellow heat.  A cloud of semi-vaporised white hot debris dispersed.  Another large vessel nearby was perforated by the debris.  The ball of heat continued to expand, consuming several small vessels as it did so.

“Brace yourself!”  Panman warned.

Jemima Murma entered the bridge.  She was still wearing her sequin-covered figure-hugging purple bodysuit, but her hair was now bleached blonde and spiked with copious amounts of gel.  She was carrying a tray.

With a deep and reverberating thump a wave of heat and debris slammed into the Blenheim.  Jemima Murma fell forwards, but her lightning reflexes allowed her to steady herself in an instant.  She was still managing to hold the tray.

An alarm sounded and a damage report appeared on Panman’s console’s screen.


Jemima Murma placed the tray down next to Panman.  “Goats’ cheese, as requested.  I took the liberty of bringing some crackers, a bowl of chutney, and a steaming mug of spiced Masala tea.  I hope that’s fine with you.”

Panman looked at the contents of the tray and then beamed at the assistant.  “Of course it is!  I was thinking of chutney just as you walked in.  Your ability to predict culinary desires is staggering!”  The bounty hunter grabbed a handful of cheese and stuffed it into his mouth.

Jemima Murma gasped and then bowed.  “None of my abilities have been described as staggering before!  Outstanding, amazing, incredible and arousing - yes, but never staggering.  I am honoured.”  She bowed once more.

Panman took a swig of his spicy tea.  “No problem.  You deserve it.”

The Blenheim’s assistant smiled and then bounded off the bridge.”

Panman put down his mug and activated the communicator.  “Mister Moth, how’s it going?”

My ship and I seem to have survived.

“Good.  Dock with the Blenheim’s starboard port.  I’ll extend our shield around you.”

Manoeuvring now.  I will need to perform significant repairs before my ship will be of any use.

Panman looked at his sensor display.  “The Sadeeni will soon catch up with us.  We need to get away fast.  As soon as you’re docked we’ll head into subspace.”

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