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Book: Bounty Hunters of the Palace of Amino
Chapter 43: Strange Nuclear Events

"Look at him fly!" Panman said.

Lawrence's escape pod was bolting up and out of Epicuro's atmosphere at an overwhelming speed.

"I'm still onto him." Peter the Ace said, following the tiny craft's course exactly.

Panman operated his weapons console. Several hundred rounds of fusion fire pulsed towards the pod at lightning speed. They were avoided with ease.

"He's good." Panman had to admit. "Very good."

"He's not as good as we are, though."

"Yeah, that's true! We're the best!"

The escape pod performed a strange hyperbolic manoeuvre and headed for the mother ship which was following three hundred kilometres behind. Once again, the giant craft opened fire on the Blenheim. Massive beams of energy, as bright as Dis-Arrai, pounded into the top-class starship with total accuracy.

"Shields are fading." Panman said.

Peter the Ace performed a miraculous evasive move and turned the ship towards Lawrence's pod and the hulking mother vessel.

"I think he's actually going to escape!" Panman said as he began to fire at the pod again.

Peter the Ace skilfully guided the Blenheim through the torrent of energy fire that was buffeting them badly. "The only way to get Lawrence is to destroy his mothership."

"How?" Panman asked, frustrated that all of his shots at the pod were missing their target. "When we escaped from it last time, I launched over one hundred nuclear missiles at it. They had very little effect."

"I have something else in mind." Peter the Ace said with a look of seriousness not seen since he issued the T.A.R. Command.

Justin clanked onto the bridge with a tray full of chocolate eclairs and two vanilla milkshakes. He put the tray down between the two remarkable bounty hunters.

"I must return to my quarters to recharge." Justin announced in monotone.

"And what is it that you have in mind?" Panman asked, ignoring Justin and eagerly stuffing his face.

Justin left the bridge.

Peter the Ace replied. "Something that has never been attempted before."

Panman’s eyes widened. "You don't mean…"

"Yes I do." Peter the Ace said, sipping at his milkshake. "I intend to execute a P.E.N.E.T.R.A.T.E!"

P.E.N.E.T.R.A.T.E. stood for 'Potentially Excruciating and Normally Extensively terrifying and Rotating Annihilatory Termination Encroachment' and was not a recommended manoeuvre in any situation. Panman thought about the gravity of the situation for a moment.

"Do it!" He said.

Peter the Ace started to program the command console with optimum dexterity.
Panman devoured three more eclairs.


Jayne Eye-Catcher and Belinda continued to climb down the seven kilometre deep shaft with great expertise. The complete darkness was no problem. Their night vision visors made everything look green and digitally crystal clear.

"Less than a kilometre to go." Jayne Eye-Catcher said, her voice unaffected by the strenuous descent.

"There is still no sign of Kathwoman." Belinda said, scanning below. "Her shuttle seems deserted."

"She's down there." Jayne Eye-Catcher said with great confidence. "I can sense her evil."

"It’s so cool that you can do that!"

"I've been a bounty hunter for one hundred and twelve years. My instincts are almost tuned to perfection."

"I can't wait until mine become that good."

"You'll have to, it'll take decades."

Jayne Eye-Catcher and Belinda carried on down the rock face with fantastic agility.


"General?" An adolescent scanner operator said.

"What is it?" General Bloatbucket said, walking across the expansive bridge of Lawrence's mothership.

The scanner operator pointed to one of his console's monitors. "I've found a ship down that shaft."

"Excellent!" The general said.

"What's more excellent, general, is the fact that it is parked with its shields down."

"Wonderful!" The General Bloatbucket shouted with joyous intent. "Destroy it! Lord Lawrence will be so pleased with me!" The general skipped gaily back to the main view port.

A beam of pristine green connected with the foolishly unprotected Euphoria. The prototype craft burst apart in a flash of resplendent white fire. Molten wreckage tumbled down the deep shaft.


Jayne Eye-Catcher and Belinda looked up at their exploding ship. Pieces of it fell past them, bumping the jagged walls with deafening, reverberating clunks.

"Shit!" Jayne Eye-Catcher said. "The shields! I thought I'd forgotten something!"


Five hundred and six skull fighters had broken formation with the mothership and were heading for the Blenheim. Lawrence's escape pod was about to reach home.

"Ready!" Peter the Ace said, knocking back the last dregs of milkshake. "Let's see what this feels like." He pressed a large red button marked 'Execute'. For one whole second nothing happened, and then something wonderful transpired. The Blenheim's shields were charged with all possible energy, making them glow radiantly. Following that, the ship began to roll over and over with ever increasing revolutions per second. Finally the sublight engines fired at full power, accelerating the Blenheim forwards at a most unfathomable rate.

"Bitchin' bitchin' bitchin'!" Panman screamed as his whole body was compressed into his chair. The Blenheim's superb anti-gee system struggled to compensate for the acceleration effect.

Peter the Ace remained calm and collected. "Collision in three seconds." He announced.

The Blenheim powered through the fleet of skull fighters, smashing several of them into molecular debris. The bounty hunters ship hit the mother ship under a barrage of inaccurate laser fire. Like a giant diamond drill bit, The Blenheim penetrated the mother ship’s shields and thick armour plating and forced its way through deck after deck, smashing and splatting equipment and crew members. One second after entering the hull, the Blenheim crashed into the mothership's central fusion reactor, hidden more that fifteen kilometres into the gigantic vessel, causing all sorts of strange nuclear events to happen. One second later, the Blenheim broke through the opposite side and rotated rapidly into free space. Blinding white light, more intense than the brightest of stars, filled the scene as the mothership detonated with spectacular force. The blast wave rapidly expanded over thousands of miles, slamming into the surface of Epicuro, flattening several mountain peaks and setting off numerous earthquakes. More than nine hundred fighters were vaporised. Kathwoman's mothership, which had been following six hundred kilometres behind, had most of its armour stripped as the ball of flaming destruction expanded around it. Most of its accompanying ships were either destroyed or severely disabled. The Blenheim continued to spin away from the devastation.


"I can't hold on for much longer!" Belinda screamed.

Hundreds of rocks fell past her as the earthquake continued.

"You must!" Jayne Eye-Catcher shouted above the noise.

Belinda fell. Jayne Eye-Catcher looked down and watched her new assistant disappear into the darkness. After thirty seconds the earthquake finally subsided. Jayne Eye-Catcher continued her descent alone.


"Blenheim, cut all power." Peter the Ace said to the ship. "Bring us to a full stop."

"AFFIRMATIVE."

The sound of the retros drowned out the bleeping and wailing sirens that emanated from all areas of the bridge.

"Silence the sirens and tell me the damage." Panman said.

"SIRENS CUT. DAMAGE REPORT: SHIELDS INOPERATIVE. LATERAL THRUSTERS INOPERATIVE. SUBSPACE DRIVE TEMPORARILY DISABLED. SIXTY FIVE PERCENT FAILURE OF SUBLIGHT DRIVE. FIFTY TWO PERCENT OF ARMOUR PLATING VAPORIZED. HOLO-GAME SYSTEM OFFLINE. WHIRLPOOL BATH IN THE QUARTERS OF PANMAN INOPERATIVE."

"Shit!" Panman exclaimed. "No games and no bath!"

"Calm yourself." Peter the Ace said with inspired maturity.

"Bummer!" Panman said, ignoring the advice.

Peter the Ace activated the auto repair systems. "How long until we have subspace and shield capability?" He asked.

"SUBSPACE DRIVE WILL BE OPERATIVE IN THREE POINT TWO FOUR HOURS. SHIELDS ARE IRREPARABLE."

"Shields are irreparable?" Panman exclaimed, recovering from his despair. "I thought this ship was infallible?"

"Obviously not." Peter the Ace said. "But what we have just done is amazing. We have single handedly destroyed a fifty three kilometre long starship, probably the largest ever known!"

"Yeah!" Panman said, suddenly feeling much better about things. "It was worth it. We'll get a lot of praise for that."

Peter the Ace was proud of the Blenheim. "I'll take us back to Epicuro" He said. "We must see how Jayne Eye-Catcher and Belinda are getting on."

"Do you reckon Lawrence is dead?" Panman asked.

"I have a feeling that he isn't."

The heavily damaged Blenheim turned and headed back towards the scene of colossal devastation that still gleamed brightly above the desert moon.

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