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Book: Bounty Hunters of the Palace of Amino
Chapter 35: Deformed Mouths

It was seventhirty-six am. Peter the Ace stood in front of the huge panoramic window in his luxury penthouse and watched as dozens of powerful starships thundered into the amber sunrise.

"There you are!" Belinda said, handing him a mug of creamy hot chocolate.

"Thank you." He said, sipping gently.

"When will you be leaving?" she asked sweetly.

"Within the hour, just as soon as the Blenheim's energy cells, weapons systems, and galley have been fully restocked and recharged."

"I wish I could go on one of the missions." The bounty hunter’s assistant said with a touch of sadness. "I'll feel so useless here."

"Unfortunately all of the ships are fully crewed." Peter the Ace said, walking over to the extravagant sofa and sitting down. "Otherwise I'm sure that you would have been chosen to take part in this most momentous of assignments."

Belinda sat down next to him, her dressing gown slipping open to reveal her well toned, well tanned left thigh.

"Don't worry," Peter the Ace continued, "you'll be given some very important duties to perform here at the palace."

"I know." She said. "But I would have really liked to be out in the depths of deep space witnessing for myself the thrill of seeing rapidly moving enemy forces blasted to dust with unnerving accuracy."

"I wish that I could say that I know how you feel." Peter the Ace replied. "But I can't."

Belinda looked up at him. "Why?"

"Panman and myself were the first ever bounty hunters. We have been here since the Palace of Amino was built centuries ago. We both rose to the top ranking positions instantly and have never been through the process of applying to the training school, being trainees, caterers, or assistants on mundane, run of the mill missions."

The toned assistant was confused. "If you've never undergone the training, how are you so awesome?"

"Natural ability!"

"Wow!"

"Wow indeed! In fact, Panman and myself, along with the Superior Beings, actually devised the entire training schedule!"

"Wow!"

"Indeed!"

A nearby communications panel bleeped tenderly.

"Hello?" Peter the Ace said, gulping down the last dregs of warm chocolate.

"Yo!" Came the reply. "It's me, Panman!"

Peter the Ace handed Belinda the empty mug. She wandered into the kitchen. The kitchen’s automatic door closed behind her.

"Panman, you've finally got out of bed."

"Actually, I've been up for several hours."

"Why?"

"I'm overseeing the installation of five new holo-games down here on board the Blenheim!"

"I knew you'd be doing something totally essential!"

"Too right! Those long subspace journeys can get mighty boring."

"I won’t disagree with you on that point."

"Anyway, that's not what I called you about. Our launch has been delayed."

"Why?"

"The Superior Beings wish to see you, me and Jayne Eye-Catcher at eight am to discuss some new mission parameters."

"Sounds serious."

"Yeah! Cool!"

"OK, I'll meet you down their with Jayne Eye-Catcher in twenty minutes."

"Panman signing off!"

The communications panel fell silent.


At eight am the three wondrous bounty hunters walked out of the elevator and into a huge, kilometre high cavern, the home of the Superior Beings many kilometres below the Palace of Amino. Lakes, forests and waterfalls filled the scene before them, illuminated by the bright yellow phosphorous lichen that covered the cavern’s ceiling. Small fury mammals scurried through the undergrowth, squeaking in hushed tones of middle-C and A-flat.

An immensely stumpy woman, three feet tall, five feet wide and dressed in a black velvet gown waddled towards them. It was Bertha Glum, the Superior Beings' humanoid liaison officer. "They're ready for you." She announced passively. The fat little woman turned and lead the bounty hunters through a wooded outcrop to a cliff top clearing. The four Superior Beings were waiting for them, encased in their anti-vomit inducing steel cubicles. Their purple eyes glowed through the tinted slits of toughened glass.

Bertha should be encased in steel, too! Panman thought, amazed at her foul featured face and revolting folds of flab.

Bertha spoke. "Masters, they are here."

"LeAvE uS." The Superior Beings replied in distressingly resonant tones.

Bertha turned towards Panman, smiled, winked, licked her large, chapped lips, and then stumbled away into the bushes.

Panman felt the twenty four slice deep pan mammoth steak and double cheese pizza that he'd eaten for breakfast attempt to leap up through his throat. With enhanced concentration, he managed to keep it down.

"She wants you!" Peter the Ace whispered into Panman's left ear.

"No way!" He exclaimed.

"I agree with Peter the Ace." Jayne Eye-Catcher whispered into Panman’s right ear.

"Shut up!"

"My FrIeNdS.” The Superior Beings said, interrupting the idle banter. "wElLcOmE."

The three high-ranking bounty hunters turned to face the ancient wise ones.

The Superior Beings continued. "wE hAvE iNtErCePtEd A tRaNsMiSsIoN." They announced in a strange intergalactic accent.

"Really?" Peter the Ace said, unruffled by the presence of these mega beings. "What kind of transmission?"

"aN uLtRa-SpAcE cOmMuNiCaTiOn BeTwEeN lAwReNcE aNd KaThWoMaN."

"Kathwoman?" Panman exclaimed. "She hasn't been seen or heard of for almost eighty years. I thought she was dead?"

"Yes." Peter the Ace said. "It's the general opinion that she perished painfully and slowly in the belly of a Viskeri 'puff up' fiend during the final battle of the Neglektid bog conflict."

"kAtHwOmAn Is NoW kNoWn To HaVe A pOwErFuL aRmY oF nEaNdErThAlS aT hEr DiSpOsAl. ShE hAs ArRaNgEd To MeEt LaWrEnCe SoMeWhErE iN tHe EpHlUvIi SyStEm AnD jOiN fOrCeS wITh HiM."

"That wouldn't be helpful." Peter the Ace said.

"yOuR nEw MiSsIoN iS tO pReVeNt ThIs LiAiSoN FrOm HaPpEnInG."

"No problem!" Panman exclaimed confidently.

"Jayne Eye-Catcher, YoU wIlL tAkE tHe PrOtOtYpE sTaRsHiP 'eUpHoRiA' aNd AcCoMpAnY tHe BlEnHeIm On ItS tOrTuRoUs TaSk. BeCaUsE yOuR pArTnEr LeW iS sTiLl SuFfErInG fRoM dEmOniC pOsEsSiOn YoU wIlL rEqUiRe A rEpLaCeMeNt. PeTeR tHe AcE wIlL cHoOsE tHaT rEpLaCeMeNt."

"Thank you." Jayne Eye-Catcher said politely.

"lEaVe Us."

The three bounty hunters bowed, turned, and then began the walk back through the trees. Panman looked around nervously, scared that Bertha would suddenly appear and try to slobber him to death.

"I find it really hard to understand what those guys are saying." Jayne Eye-Catcher said as they reached the elevator door. "They speak so strangely."

"It's probably because they have grotesquely deformed mouths." Peter the Ace said.

"Hey!" Panman said. "Don't bad mouth the Beings!"

Panman was famed for having The highest respect for the Superior Beings.

The doors to the elevator opened. They walked in and sat down on sumptuous blue leather arm chairs. The door hissed and closed behind them. Panman operated some touch sensitive controls. Vertical acceleration became apparent as the elevator began its six kilometre journey to the surface.

After a moments thought, Peter the Ace spoke. "I have an ideal replacement for Lew Brain Ache!" He exclaimed triumphantly.

"Brilliant!" Jayne Eye-Catcher said. "Who?"

"Belinda."

"Your servant?"

"Indeed!"

"Why?"

"She is one of the highest achieving trainees and extremely desperate to see some active service."

"She sounds okay I suppose."

"She is!" Panman said. "And she makes fantastic kebabs and pizzas!"

Jayne Eye-Catcher smiled adorably. "Belinda it is!"

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