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Book: Bounty Hunters of the Palace of Amino
Chapter 16: A Switch On Top Of Its Head

Peter the Ace, Panman, Justin and Tara felt themselves grow heavier as the elevator accelerated upwards.

"Lawrence will have all elevators monitored." Panman said. "He knows where we are."

"Of course." Peter the Ace replied as he watched the level indicator pass one hundred. "But he can't predict where we are going to stop." He pressed the button maked HALT. The elevator decelerated rapidly and stopped at level one hundred and sixty seven. The double doors swished open to reveal an empty passageway.

"Great!" Panman said. "No one here." He stepped out and began to walk briskly away, closely followed by the others.

"Where are we going?" Justin shouted, still highly distressed at their predicament.

"Calm yourself." Peter the Ace said with authority. "All we have to do is find our way to that giant ventilation shaft that we set down in. The Blenheim should then be right below us."

"This way.” Panman said confidently, his sense of direction was impeccable.

An officer walked unwarily into their path. Peter the Ace and Panman instantly aimed their reprimanded rifles at the weak looking man.

The man looked back at them. "Who are you?" He said shakily.

"Who wants to know?" Panman asked.

"I'm Chief Technical Officer Dabamkangan."

"You’re the bastard who set that metal shit head loose on us!" Panman shouted angrily. "You must die!"

"Hold your fire!" Peter the Ace said. "Let me talk to him." He walked over to Dabamkangan and thrust the barrel of the gun into his gut. "Is your cyborg still functioning?"

"Yes."

"Where is it?"

"I don't kno…"

"Where is it?" Peter the Ace pushed the nozzle of the weapon hard into Dabamkangan's belly.

"It's waiting for you by your ship."

"How do we get passed it?"

"You can't."

"How do we destroy it?"

"You can't."

"You're lying." Peter the Ace pointed the rifle at Dabamkangan's chin. "You are about to die." He said quietly.

"There is a way." Dabamkangan said quickly as several beads of sweat rolled down from his receding hair line.

"Enlighten me."

"Turn it off."

"What?"

"Turn it off."

"How?"

"There’s a switch on top of its head. When pressed the cyborg will power down completely."

"You'd better be right!" Panman said, forcing the barrel of his rifle into Dabamkangan's right ear.

"He's right." Peter the Ace said. "He wouldn't lie to the most awesome and most highly respected bounty hunters in the galaxy." He moved close to the Technical Officer's left ear. "Would you?" He whispered menacingly.

"No." Came the feeble reply.

A doorway behind them swished open and four heavily armoured guards entered the corridor. Several bursts of laser fire sizzled by, one of them burning a hole through Justin's right shoulder. He screamed in agonizing tones. Peter the Ace shielded Tara and opened fire. Panman followed suit. The four guards erupted into flames and slumped to the floor, devoid of all life signs.

"We must move quickly." Peter the Ace said. "Dabamkangan, take us to the ventilation shaft." He nudged the technical officer with the butt of his rifle.

"This way." Dabamkangan said, wandering off down the passageway.

The rest followed, Panman taking up the rear. Justin blubbered along, gripping his cauterised wound. Tara held on to Peter the Ace's arm.

"Here we are." The chief technical officer said, opening a large set of double doors.

They walked out onto a large balcony. The down draft was strong and cool; the shaft seemed to stretch forever above their heads. Small maintenance craft could be seen flying hundreds of levels above, eagerly attending to their duties. Peter the Ace looked down over the barriers. Using the telephoto attachment on his headset, he scanned the scene below. About a kilometre down, the awesome Blenheim could be seen standing powerfully on a large landing pad. Next to it, the cyborg stood, motionless and menacing, awaiting their return.

"This could be difficult!" Panman said, gazing down the twenty kilometre deep air vent.

"We need to find a quick way down and onto the head of that metal beast." Peter the Ace said, looking around.

A small maintenance platform was descending slowly from above. Three engineers beavered away at various on board instrument panels.

"I have an idea!" Peter the Ace said. "Look after Tara, Justin and Dabamkangan."

Panman nodded and turned around. Tara was sitting and comforting Justin who was still blubbering wildly. A door on the far side of the balcony slid shut.

"Dabamkangan's escaped!" Panman shouted.

The large balcony doors opened and a platoon of vicious guards entered, opening fire with almighty weapons of devastation.

Panman returned fire, lacing the enemy forces with beams of searing heat. Mass decapitation ensued.

"Hurry Ace!" Panman shouted. "I'm low on power!"

Peter the Ace nodded and continued to watch the maintenance platform. As it drew level with the balcony he jumped. With expert precision, Peter the Ace landed on the platform. The engineers had no chance. Within a second they were unconscious and falling swiftly down the shaft. If Lawrence had allowed them to wear safety equipment they would have survived. He didn't, so they didn't. The most famous bounty hunter in the galaxy guided the platform back towards the balcony. He could see Panman racing around, screaming war cries and slicing guards into many pieces with streams of energetic particles.

"Climb aboard." Peter the Ace shouted, the smell of burning flesh was getting unbearable.

Tara and Justin did as they were told. Panman provided covering fire for them. He followed quickly behind, shooting like a madman. When everyone was on board, Peter the Ace expertly flew the platform down towards the dangerous monster of a cyborg below. Laser fire from above laced into the platform. A blast hit Peter the Ace but was absorbed by his superior body armour. Another beam coarsed into Justin's abdominal region, separating his upper and lower body. He howled in disbelief. Tara fainted in horror. This annoyed Panman. If Justin died he would have to make kebabs, pizzas, and cheese toasties himself. He fired mercilessly at the guards above. They dropped like flies. He killed the last of them just as the rifle's powerpack failed. Guards from below began to fire on them. The maintenance platform shook violently. Panman grabbed the fusion pistol that the severed torso of Justin was still carrying and returned fire. The fusion beam beam laced through the guard's bodies. Warning lights started to flash on the control panels.

"Attitude thrusters are failing!" Peter the Ace shouted over the noise of the weapons discharge. "We're losing stability."

The platform began to descend faster, pitching and yawing at a sickening rate. It was taking a lot of hits. Tara awoke, screamed and then fainted again. Justin pulled his upper body to the edge and looked down. They were only a hundred metres from the landing pad. He saw several guards explode as the beam from the fusion pistol cut into them. Another platoon of guards appeared and fired furiously. A beam hit Justin in the neck. His decapitated head flew into the air and landed next to Panman. The bounty hunter watched as the pained expression on Justin's face went limp.

Panman was really pissed off now. "Bastards!" He yelled and proceeded to carve up the guards below. They died violently and in extreme flaming agony. The cyborg looked at them, its eyes glowed red with simulated fury.

"I'm going to try to land this thing on top of the Blenheim." Peter the Ace said fighting with the controls. "It’s the safest place."

Fifty metres to go.

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