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Book: The Nomads and the Mind Machine
Chapter 36: Skeletal Surface

In a tight formation, the Blenheim and the three smaller bounty hunter ships – the Morbid, the Horizontal Assassin and the Pig, cruised at high sublight speed through the darkness of the Slimyebba Void.

Panman was looking at the sensor information overlaid onto the Blenheim’s main view-screen image.  “Just as we predicted!”

The view-screen showed the two smaller Sadeeni ships dropping back from the Sadeeni flagship.

“Indeed.”  Peter the Ace said.  “They are coming to block our progress.  A relatively pointless exercise, considering their damage and current lack of defences.”

Panman grinned.  “Yeah, they’re basically two-kilometre long shells!  Hardly a threat at all!”

Peter the Ace operated his communications panel.  “Time to dispose of those smaller ships.  Mister Moth and Miss Beast Feaster, stick to the plan and go between the ships.  Keep your shields on full and resist the temptation to use your weaponry.”

Both of the lesser bounty hunters confirmed.

Peter the Ace continued.  “Ross Mental, take out the ship on the right.  Off you go.”

Ross Mental yelled.  “Fucker!

Tactical sensor information on the main view-screen showed the Morbid racing ahead.

Peter the Ace accelerated the Blenheim and set it on course for the other ship.  “What defences are operating on those ships?”

“Not much.”  Panman said, looking down at his screen.  “They have some functioning disruptors but their main energy generators are out of action.  Their emergency power systems are much weaker.  I doubt they can harm us at all!”

A beam of sparkling energy hit the Blenheim.  The ship shuddered violently.

Peter the Ace rolled the ship into an evasive posture.  “Let’s not be complacent.  Get ready with the fusion charges; I’m taking us in very close.”

Panman nodded.  “Fusion charge spread is programmed.”

Another blast of energy hit the ship.

The enhanced image of the Sadeeni ship now filled the view-screen.  The devastating damage caused by the gravistatic pulse was immediately obvious.  The ship literally had no hull and it’s cracked and exposed bulkheads resembled a crumbling skeleton.  Only the ship’s core and its heavily reinforced sublight engine section seemed reasonably intact.

The Blenheim was now skimming less than a hundred metres away from the Sadeeni ship’s skeletal surface.

“Now.”  Peter the Ace said.

Panman slammed his hand down onto his console. There was a distant and rapid series of thuds as a dozen fusion charges were released.

The main view-screen was showing the progress of Ross Mental’s attack on the other ship.  Already his charges had detonated sending a flood of white light out across the void.  The foul-mouthed bounty hunter shouted over the communications channel.  “Fuckin’ nice!

Peter the Ace spoke.  “Well done.  That was indeed a nice show.”

The Blenheim took another hit, this time in the rear.  The low-powered energy beam had little effect.

The fusion charges released by Panman detonated.  In a coordinated spread of destruction, twelve intense balls of brilliant fire expanded across the Sadeeni ship.  Without any functioning shields the ship broke apart immediately, sending a spray of bright molten debris out in all directions.

Peter the Ace smiled.  “That was, as they say, a ‘cakewalk’.”

Panman was curious.  “Who said that?”

Peter the Ace shook his head.  “No idea.  Some guy who found walking on cakes easy, I guess.”  He activated his communicator.  “Excellent work, everyone.  The flagship is only three million kilometres ahead.  We’ll be there in a few minutes.  Prepare to execute the diversion.”

Cardigan Moth spoke over the communicator.  “I have just remembered something.

“What is it, Mister Moth?”

The deca-whore, Mama Flesh, is still in my cargo bay.  Should I take her with me on the mission to the Sadeeni home world?

Ross Mental yelled.  “No fuckin’ way!  I chased that dirty fuckin’ flab fucker for over a month until I caught her!  I want her to suffer fuck-off Amino justice!

“I sympathise,” Peter the Ace said, “but we have very little time.  Perhaps Mister Moth should hold onto her for now.  Her life can be sustained with potent drugs until he can return.”

Ace, that fuckin’ bitch needs to go back to the palace now!  Languishing in Cardigan Moth’s cargo bay for several fuckin’ years is too good for her!  Proper justice must be done!

Peter the Ace thought for a moment.  “You’re right.  The crimes she committed were indeed too serious for justice to be delayed.  She must be transferred to the Blenheim, but there’s no time for a secure transfer.  We’ll have to do it the rapid way.”

Cardigan Moth asked.  “What’s the rapid way?

“Position your ship directly under our main cargo bay door and you’ll find out!”

Ross Mental had already figured out what Peter the Ace was planning.  “fuckin’ cool!”

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