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Book: Bounty Hunters of the Palace of Amino
Chapter 26: Acne Man

A fleet of two thousand intimidating starships drifted at sublight speed through the outer sectors of the Substantia Zone, the darkness of deep space enveloping them like a black cloak of stealth. The largest vessel, over ten kilometres in length, was the command ship of General Blubbard. This mighty armoured leviathan dwarfed the hundreds of squadrons of skull fighters and battleships that flew in numerous formations all around it.

General Blubbard stood at the giant forward view port on the expansive command bridge and gazed at the distant star field. A million suns of varying sizes glimmered faintly through the dark matter that proliferated throughout this isolated section of the galaxy.

"Excuse me, general." A squelchy high pitched voice said.

General Blubbard turned around and looked down at the short, acne faced cadet. "Yes?" He said ominously.

"I have found it!"

"Found what?"

"The Palace of Amino!"

The general was stunned. They had only been looking for a few days. He had expected the search to take months. "Are you sure?"

"Absolutely, general. Come and look."

General Blubbard followed the spotty cadet across the massive control room to his console where he had been monitoring the progress of the probes. "Reconnaissance Probe VBBMF entered the Archaica System several hours ago." Acne man said with delight. "It quickly found a life supporting planet and has been scanning it ever since."

They reached the console.

"Look!" The zit kid said, pointing at a display screen.

The well built general looked. The screen showed an area of a planet that was covered in jagged rocks and pounding seas. On a cliff top there appeared to be a huge dark castle. The young mottled crew member was getting excited. "There it is!"

"Augment the image." General Blubbard said.

The small speckled chap obeyed the order and the castle was enlarged on the screen. "Yo!" The wart faced cadet said. He took a good look at the image. "Oh…" He said quietly.

"So you think that this ruined relic of a castle is the Palace of Amino, do you?" The general said in a severe tone of voice.

"Err… Well… It looks a bit like a palace, don't you think?"

"No!" General Blubbard grabbed the zit kid by the neck and held him at arms length. He gargled in agony and began thrashing his legs around in a highly hysterical fashion. "It’s incompetent fools like yourself that get me into trouble with the heinous Lord Lawrence!" The general roared.

The spot saturated youth started to sweat with terror. "I'm sorry, general!" He croaked. "Please forgive my cretinous behaviour!"

"No!" General Blubbard shouted. He dropped the acned cadet onto the floor. "You will die as an example to your peers!"

The other crew members turned their heads and watched as their commanding officer started to kick the youthful blotch kid hard in the face. Blood began to pour out of his nose, mouth and ears. The general pulled out a small fusion pistol from within his cloak.

"Burn!" He yelled with dark pleasure.

The zit congested cadet screamed as first his legs, and then his arms were burned to ashes by intense beams of energy. He tried to roll his torso away from the psycho general without success. Another beam laced its way into his guts, cutting through his kidneys and intestines. He howled in torment but was quickly silenced as the beam burned open his chest and vaporised his lungs. General Blubbard stopped firing and selected the pistol's highest power setting.

"Let this be a lesson to you all!" He said, pumping a powerful white hot beam of charged particles into the speckled guy's face. The cadet’s look of pained terror was wiped in a millisecond as his head exploded in a flash of brightness. Bits of smouldering skin, bone and brains showered the bridge crew. They gazed in horror at the charred remains of their colleague.

"Get back to your work!" The general bellowed. "Or you'll be next!".

The bridge crew turned quickly and faced their display screens. It was as though nothing had happened. General Blubbard walked back to the forward view port and stared at the serene scene that lay before him.

I must find the palace soon, he thought to himself, otherwise Lawrence will do to me what I've just done to that cadet.

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