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Book: Bounty Hunters of the Palace of Amino
Chapter 6: Sparkling and Toothless

"Whoa!" Panman shouted excitedly as Peter the Ace drove the hire car rapidly through the packed city streets at awe-inspiring speed.

Peter the Ace laughed loudly. "This baby can really shift!" He said, swerving to avoid a sad old Bamboozian prostitute who was staggering, totally inebriated, backwards and forwards across the road.

"Where now, Panman?"

A busy crossroads was looming fast.

"Err… Turn right onto Primeway One." Panman said.

Peter the Ace turned sharply, taking the corner at over one hundred kilometres per hour. Two other vehicles had to break and turn hard to evade, crashing violently into Marcus's Manky Mustard stall, sending pots of gunk flying into the air.

"This is better!" Peter the Ace said, accelerating down an entry ramp and joining a very fast flowing freeway.

"Look!" Panman shouted. "There it is!"

Ahead, less than a kilometre away, was the imposing tower of the Ken Kasino Corporation, it's pinnacle obscured by clouds of dense smog. Peter the Ace skilfully dodged in and out of the heavy traffic.

"Take the next exit."

Recklessly, Peter the Ace did so, forcing a large articulated vehicle to jack knife and overturn. Several small family groundcars smacked into it, exploding violently. Debris and charred flesh flew in all directions.

Peter the Ace parked the car on the flyover above the freeway less than a hundred metres from the main entrance to the Ken Kasino Corporation Headquarters building. The two bounty hunters got out and looked up at the tower.

"Ken's probably at the very top." Panman said.

"We have two choices." Peter the Ace said. "We could carefully come up with an amazingly shrewd plan that would get us up there without alerting the building's security, or…"

"Or what?"

"We could simply blast our way up killing everything in sight!"

"Yes! Let's storm the place!"

They both ran stealthily up to a side entrance. The alleyway that they were in was dark and disgusting. Through a small triangular window a powerfully built and heavily armed guard could be seen standing near a staircase.

"A couple of micro grenades should get the show started!" Peter the Ace said, arming his ear mounted grenade launcher.

The two of them backed away from the door. Peter the Ace fired. The micro grenades found their mark. The door was vaporised in a blinding flash of heat. Some of the surrounding masonry came crashing down sending clouds of dust into the air. A muffled scream was heard.

"Excellent!" Panman said rushing into the building. "We must have got the guard as well."

Peter the Ace followed. Alarms and sirens were sounding all around. The guard lay in pieces at the foot of the stairwell. Pools of blood and guts were scattered all around. He moaned and looked at Panman. Panman pulled out his laser pistol and fired at his head. The guard sizzled and shuddered as a near white hot beam of energy scoured its way into his face and brain.

"It'll be to dangerous to use the lifts." Peter the Ace said, watching Panman carve up the Guards head. "We'll have to use the stairs. The cyborg implants in our legs should get us up their."

The two bounty hunters began a rapid ascent. Laser blasts started to rain down from above. Peter the Ace and Panman returned the fire. Three badly burnt and decapitated figures plummeted past down the centre of the stairwell. Peter the Ace was following the signs as they raced upwards.

'Level 14 of 460', 'Level 15 of 460'.

"It'll take us quite a while to get up there." He said, neurally disrupting three office clerks that had just walked through a nearby doorway. They collapsed and suffered instant brain death.

Panman was a flight ahead of Peter the Ace. He had re-holstered his laser pistol and was now taking out the guards with his electrified knuckle dusters sending them, sparkling and toothless, down to ground level. Peter the Ace continued to neurally disrupt everything that moved.

'Level 22 of 460', 'Level 23 of 460'.

Time passed…

'Level 459 of 460'.

After almost six hundred kills and mutilations they had reached the toughest obstacle yet. A large metal door, surrounded by laser cannons, prevented them from reaching Ken's penthouse. The guns opened fire. The two bounty hunters were forced back as intense beams of orange and red fizzed around them. One of them glanced off Panman's armoured shoulder pad leaving a dark, smoking gash.

"It'll take all of my grenades to blow that thing away!" Peter the Ace said, leaning against a large window. The dense smog had cleared outside and an impressive panoramic view of the city could be seen.

"You'd better be quick." Panman said looking down the stairwell. "Loads of guards are on their way up."

Peter the Ace nodded seriously. "You keep them at bay. I won't be long." He left Panman firing down at the guards and headed back towards the metal doorway. It began to fire. Peter the Ace ducked and simultaneously fired a concentrated spread of thirty micro grenades. They impacted and detonated all over the door. The blast wave was tremendous. Peter the Ace was thrown back and slammed against the stairwell wall. The window was blown out, sending shards of razor sharp glass plunging into the streets below. Panman was pressed hard against the stairs as the wave passed him on its way down. Below, the guards were taken by surprise and tumbled to their deaths.

"Cool!" Panman exclaimed as he watched them fall.

"Follow me!" Peter the Ace said.

The two bounty hunters sprinted through the gaping hole that was once the heavily fortified door. Dodging the bodies of several of Ken's aids, they made their way into his large, luxurious office. Goater was there. He fired his fusion pistol at Panman. Panman leapt into the air. The shimmering death beam passing harmlessly beneath him. He connected the sole of his boot squarely on Goater's face. Goater ignored this and grabbed Panman's leg. He dangled him upside down, his powerful arms holding Panman several inches above the lavish black and gold carpet. Seeing that Panman was in trouble, Peter the Ace drew his battle knife and threw it hard at Goater. It penetrated his left shoulder, cracking several bones as it did so and pinned him against the wood paneled wall.

Goater dropped Panman, who instantly grabbed the fusion pistol and held it against Goater's head.

"Where's Ken?" Panman yelled.

"Ken who?" Goater asked without emotion.

Panman swung hard, smashing Goater's face with the electrified knuckle duster. Goater slumped into unconsciousness.

"That helped!" Peter the Ace said sarcastically, pulling the knife out of Goater's left shoulder. Goater fell to the floor.

"He wouldn't have told us anyway." Panman said. "He's too loyal."

Peter the Ace looked to the other side of the office. There was an open door through which could be seen some stairs.

"Of course!" Peter the Ace said running towards them. "Ken's trying to escape to the roof. He must have a skycar or something up there!"

They both ran effortlessly up to the roof level emerging onto a large, windswept landing pad, more than a hundred metres in diameter. At the far end a powerful looking skycar was lifting off. It accelerated away into the darkness.

"Shit!" Panman shouted above the noise of the howling gale that was blowing. "Too late!"

"Maybe not." Peter the Ace yelled, fiddling with his communicator. "Justin, this is Peter the Ace."

"Ace!" Came the reply. "What's been happening?"

"No time to explain. Bring the Blenheim to our coordinates immediately."

"But it's against the city's regulations to fly a starship this size into..."

"Shut up and do it!"

"Well…"

"Now!"

"On my way. Justin out."

Peter the Ace watched as Ken's skycar faded out of sight. A quiet rumbling could be heard. It was growing louder by the second.

"Here's Blenheim!" Panman shouted, pointing to a large black shape that was approaching them at fantastic speed.

The Blenheim touched down on the landing pad, its thrusters firing savagely. The entry ramp lowered and the two bounty hunters clambered inside. Just in time. A dozen guards, lead by a contused Goater, appeared on the pad and began firing at the Blenheim. The energy beams were absorbed by the starship's shields. Lifting off, the Blenheim powered away from the landing pad, its thrusters setting fire to three of the guards.

"Blenheim," Peter the Ace said, rushing onto the bridge, "deepscan the entire city. Display the trajectories of all the skycars that could have taken off from the top of the Ken Kasino tower within the last three minutes."

"SCANNING…" The ship replied.

Justin got out of the command chair. Peter the Ace sat down. Panman seated himself at the weapons console.

"We'll find that deviant!" Peter the Ace said confidently.

"Justin?" Panman said.

"Yeah?"

"I'm starving. Knock me up a quick kebab, would you?"

"What?!"

"Me too!" Peter the Ace said, guiding the Blenheim through a particularly dense set of towers. “But hold the chilli, there’s a good chap.”

"Dammit!" Justin exclaimed. He wandered off the bridge.

"SCANNING COMPLETED." The ship announced. "ONE SKYCAR FOUND. TRAJECTORY AND COORDINATES ON SCREEN."

"Excellent!" Panman said, grinning like a boon fiend. "We have him now."

Peter the Ace punched in an intercept course. The Blenheim began to descend towards its target.

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