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Book: The Face of Satan's Bog
Chapter 2: Wheels on Poles

With a final tug and a twist, Sind’a pulled the zip of her skin-tight blue jump suit right up to her neck and locked it in position. She stroked her hands slowly down the length of her body, enjoying the smoothness of the fabric that covered the well-toned curves of her breasts, buttocks, and thighs. Only the super-skilled textile technicians at the Palace of Amino’s Military Standard Clothing Institute could have designed and woven such a pleasing garment.

After tying back her dark shoulder length hair the trainee bounty hunter stepped forwards and positioned herself on a small platform at the very edge of the cliff in front of her. It was several kilometres straight down into the luscious valley below. Sind’a took a few moments to admire the overwhelming view of the mountains around her, and the gleaming towers of the Palace of Amino tens of kilometres to the south. Closing her eyes for a moment, she calmed herself and let the terror of her impending task fade away. Then she took a final deep breath, filling her lungs with cold winter air.

The time had arrived.

Bending her knees, Sind’a let herself fall forwards and then with drug assisted intensity contracted her quadriceps to their full extent. The power in her thighs had developed well over the last two years and she propelled herself an amazing twenty metres out over the cliff’s edge.

Then she fell…

Within a few seconds she reached terminal velocity. Taking up a spread-eagled position, Sind’a looked for her target - she had only forty seconds to find it. With the incredible rush of air screaming in her ears and the jagged cliff face soaring past she began to glide left and right, scanning between the trees below. Nothing but boulders, bushes, and a pack of wild woolly slaver-wolves - ready to strip the flesh from her bones as soon as she smashed herself apart on impact. That was something Sind’a intended would definitely not happen.

The exhilaration of plummeting thousands of metres towards a craggy surface littered with the decayed remains of test failures was almost too much. The trainee felt elation and horror, ecstasy and sickness - all within the same instance. Incredible!

Sind’a snapped her wandering mind back to attention. She had maybe twenty seconds left - no more. A sense of urgency gripped her soul. She had been told that what she was looking for was well camouflaged and difficult to spot. She was also told that ninety percent of all those who take this test fail in a most spectacular, untidy, and terminal way. Still, dozens applied every year. Passing this test was the only way to get accepted onto the ultra-fast-track training programme and achieve full bounty hunter status in only ten years - thirty years sooner than on the standard course.

Dwelling on the supreme difficulty of the test caused a moment of despair to filter into Sind’a’s conciousness, then her life started to flash before her eyes: her contorted father taking her for her first walk around the Impaler cavern; her first day of work as the Impaler leader’s personal servant; her first time pleasuring his gnarled old…

There it was! A small, perfectly round dark hole in the dead centre of a small clearing. It was the only unnatural looking object in sight. Could that really be it? With only a few seconds left Sind’a had no time left to search for other choices. She manoeuvred into position, dropped her legs down, and then placed her arms hard and flat against her sides. She felt the acceleration as her more streamlined shape cut through the air. One second later she reached ground level…


“Whoa!! Cool cool cool!!!” Panman yelled, punching the air. The sight of Sind’a coming in through the small hole in the ceiling and smashing into the pile of cushions at the centre of the room was almost too exciting.

Peter the Ace was standing next to Panman. He applauded energetically. “That was indeed cool.”

The row of lesser bounty hunters seated behind the two mega-heroes cheered then began to tap on their consoles. Their marks out of ten for Sind’a’s performance appeared on the wall-sized view-screen at the opposite end of the room, superimposed over a slow motion action replay of the trainee bounty hunter’s magnificent fall.

“Well,” Panman said, scanning for the nearest exit. “That’s that! I’m famished, let’s go.”

Peter the Ace laughed and put his hand his companion’s battle-armoured shoulder. “Calm yourself. Push back any thoughts of freshly baked toffee and apple pie. We must first speak to our subtly muscular assistant.”

Panman reluctantly agreed, trying hard to prevent himself from drooling uncontrollably at the thought of pastry-coated desserts.

Peter the Ace noted his partner’s suffering. “You should have ordered a snack from Horice.”

“I did, but he’s taking an infinite amount of time to prepare it!”

“Hmm… Not good. I’ll get his supervisor to give him a written warning.”

The two unyielding masters of good taste approached Sind’a who was currently trying to scramble her way out of the mass of soft cushions. She looked dazed, but otherwise pretty fantastic. When she saw her two sagacious mentors standing before here she smiled broadly. “I’m honoured.” She said, bowing deeply. “To have you both witness my success makes my life worthwhile.”

“It does.” Peter the Ace agreed.

Sind’a took a moment to calm herself, and then looked at her idol. “I didn’t realise this test would be quite like this. I had heard nothing about it back at the academy.”

“It is a secret kept by all.” Peter the Ace said with due seriousness. “And one which you must keep from this day forth. The details of the test to get onto the ultra-fast-track training programme must never become public knowledge; otherwise it would dramatically reduce its air of mystery. All that you can say is that it is death-defying and vertical - nothing more.”

Sind’a nodded. “As you wish.”

In-between two of the loudest stomach rumbles ever heard, Panman made an announcement. “Sind’a, your final score is on the screen.”

Sind’a looked. Peter the Ace noticed the look of pure joy on her face. “Excellent.” He said. “Nine point eight five. One of the highest ever.”

“Has anyone ever scored ten?” she asked.

“Only three people. Panman, Ross Mental, and myself.”

“Wow.”

“Indeed. And we are the only bounty hunters to have done the dive more than once.”

“Awesome! How many times?”

“Two or three times a year for me, Panman’s the same I think. Ross Mental is a fanatic, though. He dives almost every weekend when he’s back home at the palace. I think he’s made more than five thousand leaps.”

Sind’a was speechless with admiration for her superiors.

A doorway at the side of the room whooshed open and a strange looking dude entered. Consisting of a human head and a tripod arrangement of wheels on poles, the dude squeaked over to Panman and handed him four fresh walnut and rice doughnuts covered in vanilla and sage frosting.

“About time!” Panman said with delight. “Thanks, Horice.” He proceeded to stuff his face.

Horice grinned. “My pleasure, sir. And a billion apologies for the delay. One of my wheels got stuck in a grating - I couldn’t budge it for yonks.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Panman said, finishing his first doughnut. “But if it happens again you’ll have to be demoted.”

Horice looked confused, and a little alarmed. “I already thought my status was as low as it could get?”

“Well, do you know the old saying ‘No matter how bad things seem, there is always someone worse off than you’?”

“Yes, I’ve heard that.”

“Good, because believe me when I say that there are thousands of miserable, depraved, and pungent positions that you could be degraded to, many beyond the limits of your imagination.”

Horice shuddered. He would have bowed submissively if it wasn’t for the fact that he was merely a head on a three-wheeled trolley. Horice spoke in a shaky voice. “Thank you for your… erm… useful insight into one of my possible futures. I will leave you now. Can I just inform you both that your luxury shuttle is ready to take you back to the palace whenever you wish.” The dude spun round and accelerated away back through the door.

Peter the Ace admired the way Panman had handled the disciplinary situation. “Your leniency was admirable.”

“Thanks, Ace.” Panman said. “You should still get his supervisor to send that warning letter, though.”

“I will.”

Sind’a was curious. “Who was that strange person?”

“That was Horice, the test centre’s general assistant.”

“Why is he on wheels like that?”

“Because of a miracle.”

“A miracle?”

“Yes indeed. In the whole two hundred year history of the test, he is the only one of the ninety percent of test failures to live.”

Sind’a’s face lit up with astonishment. “Amazing! But how did he end up with his head on that trolley?”

“Well, unlike you, he failed to spot the hole in time and slammed into the ground still in a spread-eagled position. By shear fluke, his head happened to be over the hole at the time of impact and was ripped off by the force of his collision with the ground. It landed safely on the cushions.”

Sind’a simply nodded. Most people would have been horrified by those facts but Sind’a had been brought up within the Impaler community, and their ceremony of impalation was far worse.

Peter the Ace continued. “Anyway, because he’d failed the test and lost most of his body, he was unable to continue training as a bounty hunter and had to settle for the mundane and menial position that he now holds. It’s a shame as he showed real promise, especially in the bounty hunter name he’d chosen for himself.”

“What name was that?”

“Horice the Mean-Herculean-Devastation-Machine.”

Sind’a was impressed. “That is a great name.”

“Speaking of names, have you decided on your bounty hunter name yet? You’ve been training for a couple of years now and your deadline to choose one is very soon. If you don’t, you’ll have to accept a default name, and it could be limp-wristed and feeble.”

Sind’a was ashamed. “I am sorry for my indecision. Please forgive me.”

“You are forgiven. Now, the last time I spoke to you on this subject there were two names which you liked. I think they were ‘Sind’a Blood’n’Gutz’ and ‘Sind’a Demonic’Death-Blossom’.”

“Yes, but there is another one now.”

“Let me hear it.”

“’Sind’a Thighs’.”

Panman finished his last doughnut and swallowed hard, voicing his opinion at the same time. “I like that one!”

Peter the Ace nodded. “I agree with Panman, that’s a fine name all right, and one that suites you perfectly.”

“You really think so?”

“Indeed. Although well-toned, when you first came here your thighs were weak and unresponsive. Now they are hugely powerful and can flex at a most phenomenal speed. The name ‘Thighs’ is a tribute to your rapid gains in quadriceptile strength and agility.”

Sind’a bowed with the deepest of respect. “Your opinions are the most important to me in the entire universe. Therefore, ‘Sind’a Thighs’ it is!”

Panman smiled. “Cool! Now let’s go, I’m starved!” He headed for the shuttle bay entrance.

Peter the Ace turned to the crowd of lesser bounty hunters seated behind him. “Thank you all for coming today. Dismissed.”

The lesser bounty hunters nodded their heads then began to leave the room in an orderly fashion.

Peter the Ace turned to Sind’a Thighs. “How are you getting back to Palace?”

“I was going to sprint.”

“Ideally you should do that. But, as you did so extraordinarily well you can come with us in our opulent shuttle.”

Sind’a Thighs’ jaw dropped. Then she dropped. “It will be a gigantic honour!” she cried, licking the supreme bounty hunter’s heavily armoured left boot.

Panman shouted from the shuttle bay entrance. “My stomach’s still not satisfied! Hurry! You know what can happen!”

“Come on,” Peter the Ace said. “Panman said he was starving. I’d better get him to one of the palace’s exorbitant flesh restaurants before his hunger takes control of his soul.”

Sind’a Thighs got to her feet and followed the breathtaking champion of magnificence as he strode confidently towards the exit. “What will happen if Panman doesn’t satisfy his hunger pangs in time?”

Peter the Ace turned and stared at the trainee bounty hunter with total seriousness. “Complete and utter culinary annihilation.”

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