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Book: The Face of Satan's Bog
Chapter 8: Syrup

Two months later...

Ross Mental stood proudly as the raging blizzard pounded him from all sides. He was well protected. His fur coat - pure mammoth hair and the thickest ever made - shielded him from the minus 50 Celcius temperature (and a wind-chill factor of minus 90 Celcius).

His new assistant Brother Drool was less well protected. He wore a much smaller, much thinner fur coat, and he was shivering like an electric plaque remover. He did not deserve anything better of course - his mere five years as a trainee bounty hunter entitled him to very few luxuries.

“Right.” Ross Mental said, peering out from his enormous hood. “Let’s fuck to it!” He pressed a button on his wrist. His ship, the Morbid, bleeped twice and all its hatches sealed tightly shut. The bounty hunter started to stomp away through the deep snow.

Brother Drool protested, struggling to keep up with his superior. “We shouldn’t be doing this!”

“Why the fuck not?”

“We’ve just completed our mission, that’s why. We should’ve like, headed straight back to the palace to hand in our report, or something, not detoured to this wuss of a planet!”

“I’m a second class bounty fucker of exceptional offensive and defensive ability!” Ross Mental shouted. “I’ll do what I fuckin’ want!”

Brother Drool flicked through a small book he’d produced from an inside pocket. “Regulation 125 paragraph 65 states that after a mission has been completed a bounty hunter must return to the Palace of Amino directly and without hesitation to…”

Ross Mental turned and glared at his assistant. “Read me regulation fuckin’ 999!”

“Um… OK!” With the eagerness of a first year philosophy student, Brother Drool turned to the last page of his book. “Regulation 999: Never quote regulations to top class bounty hunters…” The assistant’s voice tailed off and was buried below the howl of the wind. He looked up at Ross Mental. “Um… Sorry.”

“So you fuckin’ should be, you little fucker! Only trainee fuckers like you have to follow regulations, not galactic heroes like me!” Ross Mental punched the frigid air with both fists, belched like a pipe organ, then carried on stomping through the snow. “I brought you here as a reward for helping me on my mission, so show some fuckin’ gratitude!”

Brother Drool shuffled along behind the bounty hunter. “But you said we were going somewhere for a drink, not for a hike across a freezing mountain of total woe! This reward sucks!”

Ross Mental laughed. “But we are going for a drink! The best fuckin’ drink in the sector!” He pointed.

Brother Drool squinted to see through the driving snow. In the distance he saw a dim orange light. “What is it?”

“Follow me and you’ll fuckin’ find out!”

After ten minutes of torturous trekking across the steep icy slopes Ross Mental and Brother Drool arrived.

“It’s a pub!” the Trainee exclaimed.

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter nodded. “Of course it fuckin’ is!” He pointed at the sign above the door, barely visible through the thick snow that was swirling round the squat building. “Doubleguts Tavern. Fuckin’ cool!”

With a mighty swing of his right arm, Ross Mental thumped the heavy wooden door, forcing it open. He wandered inside, closely followed by his shivering assistant. The door’s automatic mechanism slammed it shut behind them. With the howling blizzard silenced, a sense of sanity finally returned.

Brother Drool shook the dense snow from his coat and looked around. The tavern was small and cosy, lit only by four roaring fires - three on the walls and one right in the centre. Groups of stocky and bearded men huddled round the flames playing Worms on portable hand-held holo-game systems. A couple of old dowagers sat in one corner knitting what looked like huge black pairs of trousers. Starting to notice just how hot it was in the tavern, Brother Drool took off his coat and hung it on a peg by the door. He walked over to Ross Mental who was already at the bar.

As the trainee reached the bar Ross Mental slammed a huge pitcher of foaming ale down in front of him. “Get that fucker down your neck!”

Brother Drool looked unsure. “My belly doesn’t have the capacity to hold that much…”

“If you don’t start drinking vast quantities of alcoholic beverages, it never fuckin’ will.” the foul-mouthed bounty hunter explained. “I’m already on my forth and we’ve only been here two minutes.”

The trainee acknowledged his superior’s exceptional wisdom and began drinking.

The bartender, owner of one of the largest human midsections in existence, approached. “Who’s yer little friend, Mr Mental?”

“Brother Drool, my new fuckin’ assistant.”

Noticing Ross Mental’s rapidly emptying pitcher, the bartender started to pour him a new one. “In all the years yer’ve been coming here, I’ve never seen yer with an assistant.” he said, handing the ale to the bounty hunter.

Ross Mental finished his forth pitcher and smashed it down on the bar. It shattered completely. “I’ve never had a fuckin’ assistant before, that’s why!” He started to gulp down the fifth.

“He’s a fine looking lad, a bit of a soft drinker though.”

The bounty hunter looked at his assistant. Brother Drool was looking ill and struggling hard to finish the last few mouthfuls. His struggle failed. With a mighty slosh, a violent discharge thundered from his mouth and across the bar, spraying the rows of bottles at the back with brown vomit.

Ross Mental laughed. “Ha! You’ll never graduate with that kind of gut capacity!”

Brother Drool was embarrassed. “I’m sorry.” he said, spitting out the dregs of beer and semi-digested food that clung the sides of his mouth. “I promise to do better next time.”

”You’d fuckin’ better!”

Suddenly the whole bar began to shudder. Several bottles crashed to the floor.

The bartender shook his head. “Not again!” he grumbled, grabbing a brush. He started to clear away the mess. The floor was a blur of vibrations.

“What the fuck is this?” Ross Mental asked, looking around.

The bartender continued brushing. “It’s been happening for almost two weeks now.”

“I never knew this area was a fuckin’ earthquake zone!”

“It isn’t! At least not until a couple of weeks ago, then it started. Two tremors on the hour every hour. Each one only lasts a minute or so.”

The shuddering stopped.

The bounty hunter leaned closer to the bartender. “What the fuck do you mean, ‘on the hour’?”

“I mean yer can set yer clocks by the regularity of the tremors. Two at the top of each hour, a minute apart.”

“No natural earthquake is that regular. You’re fuckin’ lying!”

The bartender shook his head. “I wouldn’t lie to a fellow like you, Mr Mental. There’ll be another one any second. You mark my words!”

Sure enough, the bar began to shudder. The bounty hunter’s half filled pitcher cracked under the stress.

Ross Mental watched some of his ale dribble out. “That’s so fuckin’ annoying!”

“It is!” the Bartender agreed. “I wish these earthquakes would stop. It’s very expensive to constantly have to import glasses and bottles and stuff.”

“They’re not fucking earthquakes, you idiot! Something sinister is going on!”

The bartender put his hands on his hips and started to swing his colossal belly from side to side. “Do yer really think so?”

“Of course I fuckin’ do! And I’m going to fuckin’ stop whatever it is, too!”


Ross Mental punched the air repeatedly with both fists. “Bounty fucker cunning, that’s fuckin’ how!”

The rest of the bar’s occupants cheered.

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter back-flipped and landed up on the bar. He looked down at the bartender. “Do you have any idea where the fuck those tremors originate?”

“Well,” the corpulent bartender replied. “Whenever I’m down in the cellar it seems a lot louder. It’s almost as though they’re coming up from the old mine.”

“Old mine? What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Centuries ago there were mines all over this mountain. They’re all abandoned now. I built this tavern right on top of one of the old shafts.”

“Why the fuck did you do that?”

“It was my intention to open it up as a tourist attraction. It would’ve been cool too. I think it goes all the way into the heart of the mountain.”

“So why didn’t you open the fucker?”

“No tourists.”

Ross Mental laughed. “You fuckin’ moron! Any fuckwit would’ve realised that this passionless planet would never get any tourists!”

The bartender nodded. “I was a bit silly, wasn’t I?”

“Yeah, fuckin’ daft as a cow in a steak house!”

“Well, enough about my stupidity. Would you like to see the shaft?”

“Of course! Lead us there, fat fucker.”

The bartender stopped swinging his gut and hauled his mass towards the rear of the bar and the entrance to the cellar. Ross Mental followed in a very purposeful manner. Brother Drool stumbled along behind, his legs weak with nausea.

The cellar was large, twice the size of the bar itself, and stank of raw meat. The bartender, Ross Mental, and his assistant stomped down some steps and across the slime-coated floor, passing between several uneven stacks of beer kegs. The dim lighting made walking on the slippery surface very precarious.

“There’s the shaft!” the bartender said, pointing to a section of the floor that was covered in rotten planks of wood. He flicked a switch on the wall and illuminated the area.

Ross Mental walked over to it and started to rip up the planks. The wood snapped and splintered as he tossed them effortlessly across the cellar. Brother Drool helped as best he could, but the sickness in his stomach still bothered him. The bartender just watched, his gut was far too massive for him to help in any way at all.

In less than a minute the four metre wide entrance to the vertical shaft was revealed.

Ross Mental looked down into the shaft and scanned it extensively using his jaw-mounted sensor array. “It’s five-hundred metres deep.” he said. “We’ve got to get down there before the next fuckin’ tremor hits!” He pulled out a small device from his utility belt and aimed it at the wall. He fired. A small projectile connected to a thin cable shot out of the device and embedded itself into the brickwork.

Fighting the desire to hurl like a koala, Brother Drool followed suit and fired his own device.

“Right.” Ross Mental said. “Let’s get the fuck down there!”

After activating his standard bounty hunter issue hip-mounted floodlight, the bounty hunter began to abseil down the shaft. His assistant followed him gingerly.

Ross Mental called up to the bartender. “Get a few pitchers of your best fuckin’ ale lined up for when we get back. We’ll probably be parched as fuck!”

The bartender stared down into the shaft. “As you wish, Mr Mental, sir.” He wandered off back up to the bar.

The state-of-the-art abseiling equipment - standard for bounty hunters and trainees alike - ensured that Ross Mental and Brother Drool reached the bottom of the shaft in only a couple of minutes.

Undoing themselves from their cables, they looked around. A single wide tunnel, dank and foreboding, was the only way forwards. A deep resonant humming sound could be heard in the distance.

“Ha!” Ross Mental exclaimed. “For an old and abandoned mine this place sure sounds fuckin’ active!” He strode powerfully into the tunnel.

Brother Drool followed with vigour. His nausea had finally disappeared.

As they walked, the humming sound became louder and louder, and the odour of raw meat was slowly replaced by several other smells; those of melting metal, oil, and trion-fused alloy composition residue.

“Weird as fuck!” Ross Mental said, sniffing the air. “Why would a decrepit mine smell like this?”

Rounding a tight corner, the bounty hunter and his assistant were confronted with a most monstrous and unexpected sight. In fact, it was so monstrous and unexpected that they both stared at it in silence for two whole minutes.

Finally, Ross Mental said the only thing that he could think of. “Fuck!”

They both stared silently for another minute.

Brother Drool broke the silence this time. “I don’t think that should be down here, should it?”

Ross Mental glared at his assistant. “Of course it fuckin’ shouldn’t!”

They both continued to stare at what lay before them. The mine shaft had suddenly come to an end at the top of a gargantuan, and obviously artificial, cave. Inside the cave a massive multi-segmented ‘thing’ resembling a huge turd sat there taking up almost all of the available space. Hundreds of beings wandered round it, under it, and over it welding and cutting and slicing and painting under the illumination of strong floodlights. With one end vicious with vast spikes and antennae, and the other end fat and bulbous like a rhino’s backside, the thing in the cave looked frightfully disturbing.

Brother Drool made an inane statement. “It’s ominous, or something.”

Ross Mental found no reason to disagree with his subordinate. “Too fuckin’ right!”

A loud siren bleeped three times. The beings that had been working all over the turd thing began to sprint towards the far end of the cave. A deep buzzing sound reverberated off the rock walls, rising in pitch.

“Now fuckin’ what?”

A blinding yellow light saturated the cave quickly followed by a thundering roar of sound. A blast of heat whacked into Ross Mental and Brother Drool, sending them slamming hard into the back of the passageway. The whole cave shook vigorously, showering the bounty hunter and his assistant with rubble.

After a few long seconds, the bright light and noise faded. Calm returned.

Dazed but not at all confused, Ross Mental crawled back to the edge and looked down at the giant turd. Its fat end was glowing red but fading fast. Behind it, the cave wall itself was also glowing. Molten rock was dribbling in a syrup-like manner down to the floor.

“It’s a fuckin’ star ship!” Ross Mental said. “And the stupid fuckers’ are testing the engines in an enclosed environment!”

Brother Drool joined him and looked down. “I think we’ve found the cause of the earthquakes.”

“Of course we fuckin’ have!”

“We should tell them to stop, or something.”

Ross Mental smiled sweetly at his assistant. “Oh yes! That would work! Why don’t I go down and tell the fucker’s right now?”

Brother Drool’s sarcasm detection implant went into overload. He decided to remain silent.

Ross Mental looked back down into the cave. “Whoever is behind this monstrous vessel is one truly bad fucker. No-one would go to all this trouble to conceal a fuckin’ giant construction bay inside a mountain unless pure evil was their intent!”

Once again, the siren bleeped three times.

Ross mental and Brother Drool ducked. The second ‘on the hour’ engine test began and blazing violence filled the cave. Tremendous tremors shuddered through the surrounding rock.

After a few seconds, peace was restored. Down in the cave, the beings returned to their positions and continued working.

“Come on!” Ross Mental said, getting to his feet and heading back up the passageway.

Brother Drool followed. “Um… Where are we going? We just got here.”

“Some heavy fuckin’ shit is going down!” the foul-mouthed bounty hunter said as he strode powerfully up towards the mine shaft. “We have to get back to the Morbid as quick as we fuckin’ can!”

Brother Drool struggled to keep up - bionic thigh enhancers were not available until well after graduation. “What are you going to do?”

Ross Mental stopped and looked at his assistant. “Call for fuckin’ backup.” He smiled. “But not just any kind of backup.”

His assistant’s eyes widenened and he gasped. “You don’t mean…”

“Yes!” Ross Mental screamed, punching the side of the passageway. “I must execute a B.E.L.C.H. command!”

“Whoa!” Brother Drool exclaimed. “A ‘Bounty hunter Extreme Last resort Call for Help’!”

“Fuckin’ right!”

“Cool! That’s never…”

“Never been used?” The bounty hunter interrupted, laughing. “Of course it fuckin’ hasn’t! The right situation for it has never arisen.” He paused for dramatic effect. “Until now!” Continuing to laugh, Ross Mental hooked himself up to his cable and began his ascent up the shaft and back to the surface.

Brother Drool followed. He was very excited. “B.E.L.C.H. commands rule!”

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