In one of darkest and most remote sections of the galaxy, and more than ten trillion kilometres from the nearest solar system, six bounty hunter ships had docked together. It was the first time so many bounty hunter ships had gathered in such an isolated and murky location for what was simply a celebration meal.
At the centre of the collection of ships was the muscular might of the two-hundred metre long Blenheim. Docked to its upper docking port was Ross Mental’s battered but remarkably offensive ship, the Morbid. The port and starboard ports were now home to the recently arrived Pudding Bone, assigned to a fifth-class bounty hunter called Jefferson Echo, and the Relentless Juice Fountain, piloted by the six-class bounty hunter, Rebel Damsel. Attached to the Blenheim’s underside port was the ungainly-looking Vapour Snail, assigned to two fourth-class bounty hunters, Alien Dave and Sugoi Slam-Hard. Finally, attached to the Blenheim’s rarely used upper rear docking port was the fish-like ship, the Multiple Organism, piloted by the eighth-class bounty hunter, Hairless Joey Smooth-Mover.
The Blenheim’s ornate banqueting hall was buzzing with activity as eight bounty hunters gorged themselves on some of the finest cuisine and beverages available. The hall’s six-metre long dining table was piled high with delectable dishes, the centrepiece of which were the two hogsaurus carcasses that had been almost completely ripped apart by eager hands as they turned slowly on spits. To ensure the hogsauruses remained oiled and spiced Jemima Murma was standing on the table next to the spits. She was scooping up ladlefuls of spicy oil from the trays beneath and pouring it back over the meat. Because of the heat the Blenheim’s assistant had recently stripped down to her underwear, which consisted of nothing more than a translucent white g-string and bra. Her toned and sweaty body was starting to draw as much attention from the bounty hunters as the exotic roasting hogsauruses themselves. That attention was especially evident from Rebel Damsel, the Palace of Amino’s ugliest and most outspoken lesbian bounty hunter.
The dyke, dressed in several tight layers of green and brown fabric, grinned as she chewed on a steak. Smears of sweat glistened on her shaven head. She looked up at Jemima Murma. “I would love to have you as the assistant on my ship!”
Jemima Murma smiled back politely. “I am happy with my position here.” She said as she continued to pour oil over the hogsauruses. “No offence, but the experience of being the assistant on the flagship of the bounty hunter fleet serving the two greatest bounty hunters ever to exist can never be bettered.”
Rebel Damsel laughed. “That is true,” she said, spitting fragments of meat, “but I can offer you something new and wonderful - experiences that would be impossible to get on even this remarkable vessel!”
Jemima Murma stopped pouring oil and looked down at the muscular carpet muncher. “If you mean experiences such as having your tongue slobbering over my genitals, or having my face buried in your mountainous cleavage, then no thanks.”
Rebel Damsel gasped. “Insolence!” She frowned. “It is an offence for an assistant to speak to a bounty hunter in such a manner!”
A voice spoke from behind. “Not if the bounty hunter is attempting to poach the assistant from her superiors with promises of sordid acts that are clearly not desired.”
Rebel Damsel turned. It was Peter the Ace, complete with a fine crystal cut glass filled with champagne. She bowed. “I… I’m sorry. Forgive me.” Confidence drained from the lesbian’s face as she looked up at the first-class bounty hunter. “Seeing Jemima’s toned and tanned physique flanked by such delicious roasting meat was almost too much to bear. My lust is hard enough to control at the best of times.”
Peter the Ace softened his expression. “You are forgiven… this time.” He paused to take a sip of champagne. “I’ve read about some of your exploits, Miss Damsel.”
Rebel Damsel was surprised. “You have?”
“Indeed. Your lust has served you well on what I consider to be some of the most depraved and revolting missions ever known. I was particularly impressed with your success at preventing the Devar’Pedso expansion. The way you distracted Empress Avlu and her generals with your ‘speciality’ act whilst the Rocarté mechanoids advanced was disturbingly effective. It was how you earned your promotion to sixth-class, I believe?”
The dyke nodded. “It was. I’m honoured that you know about that!”
“Your lust is certainly something I would encourage you to set loose whilst on such missions. But you must control it at all other times, especially when onboard this ship. Understand?”
The lesser bounty hunter nodded. “I understand.”
Peter the Ace grinned. “Excellent!” He pointed to the corner of the room where Alien Dave and Jefferson Echo had just slumped down on a sofa with upturned beer bottles in their mouths. “Now go and join those two. A few beers will help you relax. And maybe those two strapping young men will swing you back to normality?!”
The lesbian bounty hunter frowned and then nodded. She took one more lecherous look at Jemima Murma, and then wandered off.
Jemima Murma looked down at her superior. “Thank you.”
Peter the Ace grinned. “Don’t mention it. It’s not pleasant for you to be offered sexual experiences that you would never crave, especially from such an unsightly example of femininity as that!”
The assistant blushed. She knelt down to get closer to Peter the Ace and whispered. “Actually, I’m usually quite open to such experiences.” She beamed. “In fact, I’ve had many such experiences back at the palace!”
Peter the Ace’s eyes widened. “Really? Good for you. A healthy desire for experimentation is always to be encouraged!” He nodded in the direction of Rebel Damsel who was now sitting on Alien Dave’s lap and laughing like a chuph-diva. “If you’d like to invite Miss Damsel to your quarters for an hour or so then I have no objection.”
Jemima Murma shook her head vigorously. “Oh no! As you so eloquently pointed out, she’s very ugly, and also bald, and her personal hygiene appears to be non-existent! I would most likely vomit! I need clean and toned partners with extreme levels of attractiveness. I can accept nothing less.”
Peter the Ace laughed. “I admire such high standards. Please continue oiling the meat!”
The assistant nodded and got back to her feet.
“Tasty as fuck!” Ross Mental exclaimed as he bit down once more on the large chunk of hogsaurus rump that he was holding. Oil and spices dribbled down his chin and into his body armour.
Panman was standing next to him. His mouth was too full for him to say anything so he just nodded.
Hairless Joey Smooth-Mover, wearing one of his usual studded leather hats, agreed. “I had never expected to taste such a beast.” The bounty hunter’s high-pitched croaking voice was at odds with his chiselled and muscular appearance. He looked at Panman. “Your ability to acquire rare foodstuffs is quite amazing.” He held up a chunk of steak. “How exactly did you find this?”
Panman swallowed hard and grinned, his teeth jammed with meat fibres. “It’s all to do with who you know, and I know hundreds of people with direct links to uncommon and exotic food.”
“Who are those people?”
“Can’t say. I always keep my sources anonymous.”
“But if you could tell me the name of just one I would be eternally…”
“No.” Panman said sternly. “You must work hard to build up your own set of contacts.”
Hairless Joey Smooth-Mover looked a little frustrated. “How can I do that?!”
“The only advice I can give is to look in the most insane of locations and keep your eyes open for the most subtle of clues. For example, I found the contact I used to get those hogsauruses lying unconscious in a pool of blood on an Erovan sailing ship. Although he stank and had a ragged appearance I noticed that, despite his lack of awareness, his tongue was gently lapping at the blood. I instantly concluded that someone that would unconsciously drink blood must be an expert in the acquisition of rare meat. I was right!”
Hairless Joey Smooth-Mover’s face took on a surprised expression. “Outstanding! I didn’t realise that insanity could be used in such a way!”
“That’s why you’re still only an eighth-class bounty hunter.”
The lesser bounty hunter lowered his head slightly. “Indeed. I must expand my use of insanity.”
Panman nodded. “You should.”
The back wall of the banqueting hall consisted of a large display screen. Currently it was show several broadcasts from local video channels, mainly for decorative purposes. The channels – consisting of arts, entertainment and news programmes – were generally of little interest.
Except for one.
Panman pointed at the screen and nudged Ross Mental. “Hey, isn’t that your ship?”
Ross Mental looked. He laughed. “It fuckin’ is!”
The screen showed the foul-mouthed bounty hunter’s ship, the Morbid, hovering above a landing platform against a dark sky and cityscape. Something heavy and bulbous was suspend from two cables beneath the ship.
Ross Mental shouted a command. “Blenheim, play the sound on that fuckin’ Hadus news channel!” He turned to Panman. “This is fuckin’ cool! You have to watch!”
Panman nodded. “I will!”
The commentary from the news channel could now be heard. “…only hours before the Government Tower was destroyed the deca-whore was seen being lifted into the hold of a bounty hunter ship on the governor’s private landing platform.”
The screen showed the deca-whore dropping into the top of Cardigan Moth’s ship.
Ross Mental let out a roar of laughter. “That fat fucker’s back just tore open!”
The commentary continued. “Earlier Governor Ykcor was recorded leering longingly at the whore as she lay on his platform. This and all the other video evidence and hearsay almost confirms that the governor was involved in a revoltingly perverted and profusely sweaty relationship with the super-bloated lard-loaded whore, a relationship that dips well below even the loosest levels of morality expected from our government officials.”
The screen now showed a super-realistic computer-generated image of the governor as he pounded hard against the naked mass of Mama Flesh on his office’s plush carpeting. “This simulation accurately illustrates one of the many sordid activities the governor is likely to have engaged in with the bloated whore in the privacy of his office.”
Panman smiled. “Wow! Was he really involved with that nauseating woman in such a way?”
Ross Mental, still laughing, shook his head. “Not at all. I love that planet’s unregulated media! They just broadcast whatever they want. It’s fuckin’ crazy!”
The imagery on the screen changed to show a simulation of the Government Tower’s destruction. “It now seems certain that, in a desperate attempt to divert attention from his sickeningly rampant relations with the whore, Governor Ykcor orchestrated the destruction of the GovernmentTower. His involvement in several other incidents, including the destruction of the famous and award-winning Bloodbath restaurant, is also being investigated.”
“Oh, what?!” Panman exclaimed. “That’s one of my favourite restaurants!” He stamped his foot hard. “I demand justice!”
Ross Mental stopped laughing. He knew how sensitive Panman was when it came to the destruction of restaurants – especially those on his extensive favourites list. “Justice will come.”
“When Cardigan Moth and Mistress Beast Feaster start creating havoc on the Sadeeni home world, that’s fuckin’ when!”
Panman relaxed slightly. He frowned. “Hmm… I’ll look forward to that. Hijacking nomad ships and then attempting to assassinate Lord Gastronemous and destroy Nemia with a view to taking control of all the civilised systems is one thing, but destroying one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been too is quite another.” He looked at Ross Mental with one of the most serious expressions he had ever given. “I will not rest until I see satisfactory evidence of brutal and unforgiving vengeance against the Sadeeni.”
Ross Mental nodded. “I don’t fuckin’ blame you. We went for a meal at Bloodbath just before it was bombed. It was fuckin’ delicious!”
There was ‘chink chink’ sound. Everyone fell silent and turned. At the front of the banqueting hall, near its arched exit, stood Peter the Ace. He spoke. “Even though most of you arrived far too late to have anything to do with the success of our mission, I hope you’re enjoying this celebration, especially the rare delicacies on offer.”
Peter the Ace continued. “Unfortunately something’s come up so I’m going to have to bring the festivities to a close. Please finish up and return to your ships within the next few minutes. I’m sure you’re all keen to get back to your individual missions, anyway.”
Hairless Joey Smooth-Mover shouted. “Not me! I’d rather stay here and eat more.”
Peter the Ace stared at the impertinent bounty hunter. “That’s why you’re still only an eighth-class bounty hunter.”
The lesser bounty hunter lowered his head, ashamed that he had been reminded of that twice in less than ten minutes.
Peter the Ace looked around. “Thank you for coming. Now off you all go.”
Without complaint, but with obvious and understandable disappointment, the lesser bounty hunters made their way out of the banqueting hall. Many of them grabbed extra chunks of hogsaurus meat as they passed the dining table.
Peter the Ace walked over to Panman and Ross Mental.
Panman asked. “What’s up, Ace?”
“I just had a call from Bob the nomad.”
“What does the lanky dude want?”
“He’s found something that he wants to give us, but for some reason he won’t say what it is.”
“Cagey Fucker!” Ross Mental blurted.