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Book: Bounty Hunters of the Palace of Amino
Chapter 1: Doomed

Earth Reference Year 2388.01 AD

To one side, the stars, distant and silent, littered the perfect blackness of space, each one different. Each one with its own distinct hue. To the other side, a total void reigned, the glimmer of faraway galaxies too dim to be visible without the aid of some high-tech device. This was the very edge of the Milky Way galaxy.

A dark shape, barely visible, drifted menacingly through the vacuum, edging its way efficiently across the galactic rim, its thick, heavy armourment glistening solemnly in the starlight. It was the Blenheim, an Annihilator ninety-one class star ship of immense power, awesome design and as large as a one thousand seater cinema. Its engines pulsed a gentle shade of amber.


"There's nothing out here." Peter the Ace said, looking at the view screens. He was a bounty hunter of extreme strength and cunning – a formidable humanoid specimen, and he was sitting lazily in the sumptuous command chair on the Blenheim's luxury bridge.

"I think you're right." Panman agreed. Panman was another bounty hunter of extreme strength and cunning. "I wouldn't have expected Lawrence to station his unholy army of the night here anyway; he usually likes to be near the depraved gambling planets of the Odious Sector."

Lawrence was a particularly sinister and heinous piece of work. He regarded himself, with some justification, as the most horrible and depraved being in the known universe. His legions of foul smelling ogres drove fear and disgust into the hearts and lungs of all who encountered them.

"I don't know why we bothered coming out here in the first place." Justin said, entering the bridge. He walked over to Peter the Ace and Panman and handed them the drinks that they had ordered.

Justin was a trainee bounty hunter. This was his first time on a real mission and he was very excited about it.

"We came out here because the Superior Beings of the Great Hall of the Palace of Amino ordered us too." Panman said, taking a sip of his Delirium Gut Cleanser cocktail. "Ever since we found out that Lawrence was still alive, bounty hunters have been searching for him."

"The Superior Beings must be thick!" Justin said walking over to a nearby view screen. "The only inhabited planet this far out is Quagmir. It's completely covered in decaying bogs and populated by hairy rectons, the only creatures in the galaxy with the ability to synthesize shit from thin air!"

Peter the Ace downed his glass of bubbling Whisper Ale.

"Justin's got a point." he said, burping quietly. "Maybe we should try somewhere different."

"Where?" Panman asked, taking another swig.

"How about…" Peter the Ace thought for a moment. "How about the Nhyntendox system!"

"Whoa yeah!" Panman shouted, the thought of endless, mindless virtual video gaming filled him with delight.

A siren sounded loudly and was then replaced by the Blenheim's digital voice. "OBJECT APPROACHING. IDENTITY UNKNOWN. ORIGIN UNKNOWN. DEFENCE AND OFFENCE SYSTEMS ARMED."

"That's that idea blown away!" Panman said dejectedly. He put down his beverage and moved over to the weapons console.

A small, cylindrical craft, black and yellow, drew to a halt less than a kilometre away. A tiny hatchway opened and a tube extended outwards.

"What's it doing?" Justin asked.

"Keep your finger on the fire button, Panman." Peter the Ace said.

"Too right!" Panman said. The middle digit of his right hand was ready for action.

Suddenly the strange craft began to move around violently, spraying a glowing magenta mist from the tube.

"Should I fire?" Panman asked, desperate to destroy something.

"Wait!" Justin said. "I think it's writing."

"I think you're right!" Peter the Ace said, "How odd."

Within less than a minute, the small craft had finished its work. The message read:

 

Ha ha harr! You're doomed! The galaxy's

doomed! My army is invincible! Ha ha

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha harr!!

 

"That's definitely from Lawrence." Peter the Ace said as the words began to dissolve into the ether.

"He's off his head!" Panman said. "Should I destroy it?"

"Why not?" Peter the Ace said.

Panman pressed fire. A profound beam of intensely bright energy erupted from one of the Blenheim's terrifying turrets and connected instantly with the petite craft. It melted and exploded in a satisfying myriad of blinding colour.

"Well," Justin said, "that proves that not everything of his is invincible."

"We have to find him." Panman said with some urgency, disarming the ship's weapons array.

"You’re absolutely right!" Peter the Ace said. "Set a course for the Odious Sector. We should have looked there in the first place."

Panman punched in the coordinates. A deep rumbling resonated throughout the ship as the Gargantua Drive System (TM) kicked into overload. The Blenheim folded into subspace.

"It'll take us several hours to get there." Panman said. "Yo, Justin, how about making us a few pizzas?"

"Oh what! I seem to spend half my life making food for you two!"

"You’re a trainee and will do as you’re told!" Peter the Ace said sternly. "Show complete obedience and one day you could own a phenomenal ship just like us."

Justin grudgingly wandered out of the bridge and down into the galley.

"He may be just a trainee but he makes fantastic pizzas!" Panman said.

"He sure does." Peter the Ace said, turning to look at the subspacial entities that powered silently across the view screens. This was indeed a phenomenal ship!

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