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Book: The Face of Satan's Bog
Chapter 12: A Flash of Brightest Orange

Ross Mental tightened his harness, strapping himself firmly into his well-padded leather seat. With one flick of a switch, the dark interior of the Morbid Tank glimmered to life as numerous control surfaces and data-screens lit up in spooky hues of green and red. A deep rumble emanated from the tri-fusion track driver.

There were no view-ports in the tank, but the high resolution wide-screen display-screen at the front more than made up for that. An image of the tank bay door faded into view. With another flick of a switch, the bay door opened, revealing a raging blizzard of obscene strength.

“Ready?” Ross Mental asked.

Brother Drool was sitting to the bounty hunters left. He fiddled with his harness. “Um… I think so.”

“You’d fuckin’ better be.” Ross Mental grabbed the steering column with his right hand, and pushed the speed controller with his left. The Morbid Tank lurched forwards down the ramp and plunged into the deep and drifting snow. Almost completely buried now, the tank forced itself up and out like a dog escaping from a tar pit. The bounty hunter applied more power. The tank thundered through the powdery snow and across the steep ice sheets towards Doubleguts Tavern.

The Morbid Tank was a recent acquisition by Ross Mental. Built to the bounty hunter’s own specifications, the vehicle had taken over ten years to assemble and test and had only received the approval of The Superior Beings for field activity a few months ago. The tank was four metres in length - small in comparison to earlier Palace of Amino tanks, but so densely armed and armoured that it made all of the others look pointless and weedy. It had many weapons at its disposal, but the main weapon was on its turret - a potent fusion cannon capable of melting through armour, rock, and toughened safety plastic as though it were cooking chocolate.

After a minutes rapid transit across the mountainside, and after setting off a couple of avalanches that were currently laying waste to three villages three kilometres down in the valley, the Morbid Tank halted outside Doubleguts Tavern. The tank’s display-screen showed the bartender standing at the tavern’s open doorway, his enormous beer gut already covered with several centimetres of snow. He was shouting something.

Ross Mental activated the microphones on the outside of the tank. The bartender’s voice could now be heard. “Please, Mister Mental, sir! This is my livelihood! In the name of justice don’t do it!

The bounty hunter shook his head. “The fuckin’ idiot doesn’t have a clue what we’re up against.” He switched on the external speakers. “Don’t panic, you stupid fucker! I’ll leave your bar intact but I’m going to have to blast my way into your fuckin’ cellar. Considerable damage will be caused, but the Palace of Amino will compensate you adequately. Now get out of the fuckin’ way!”

The bartender stumbled back into the bar and closed the door.

Ross Mental energised the main fusion cannon. Green cross-hairs appeared on the display-screen. Using a track-ball, the bounty hunter moved the cross-hairs over to point at an area just below the right side of the front wall of the tavern. Vibrations shuddered through the tank as the turret turned to match the track-ball’s movement.

Ross Mental pointed to a small red panel next to the track-ball and then looked at his assistant. “You may have the honour.”

Brother Drool smiled. “Cool!” He touched the panel. A flash of brightest orange filled the display-screen. A violent thud reverberated through the tank’s interior as the pressure from the cannon’s recoil hit.

After a few seconds, the flash faded and the smoke cleared. A gaping hole had appeared under the tavern. Ross mental switched on the forward flood lights. The interior of the cellar could clearly be seen.

“Fuck yes!” Ross Mental screamed, punching the low padded ceiling. “That was the lowest fuckin’ power setting too!” He drove the tank through the smouldering hole and into the cellar.

Brother Drool had a query. “How are we going to get this tank down the shaft?”

Ross Mental laughed. “The fuckin’ easy way, of course!”

Brother Drool felt uneasy. He was right to do so.

The bounty hunter drove the tank over to the shaft, smashing through hundreds of barrels of ale as he did so. As the tank hit the edge of the shaft, he braked hard. The tank stopped and rocked gently back and forth, its front end half way over the five-hundred metre deep mine shaft.

With a devilish smile on his face, Ross Mental looked at Brother Drool, who was now as pale as a polo mint. “Watch and fuckin’ learn!” The bounty hunter gave the speed controller a quick nudge. The tank jerked and pitched forwards.

Brother Drool gasped.

The tank fell.

“Cool beyond fuck!” Ross Mental screamed.

Brother Drool was sure he had just felt his stomach rise up and lodge itself in his brain. He looked at the display-screen. The sides of the shaft, illuminated by the tank’s floodlights, rushed by at a tremendous speed. “This sucks!” he shouted, his voice shaky with fear. “We’re gonna be crushed to a paste, or something!!!”

“Don’t be so fuckin’ wet!” Ross Mental said as he operated some controls. “The dive dampers will prevent that!”

Brother Drool’s eyes widened as he watched the display-screen. Two large devices were extending from the front of the tank. Within a second they had opened up and joined to make a large pad. The view down the shaft was now blocked.

Ross Mental was monitoring one of his data-screens. “Brace for impact!”

One second later the tank slammed into the base of the shaft. The dive dampers contracted, absorbing most of the energy of the impact. Even with the dampers, the tank’s occupants still had to endure the stress and trauma of a ten-gee deceleration.

The Morbid Tank fell down back onto its tracks. The dive dampers retracted into their bays. Calm returned.

Ross Mental laughed. “Wow! A fuckin’ A-one experience or what?!”

Brother Drool’s head flopped from side to side. He was dazed and disorientated.

The bounty hunter slapped his assistant across the face. “Pull yourself together, you fuckin’ girl!”

Pushing the speed controller forward, Ross Mental guided the tank down the passageway that lead to the turd-like star ship. “Time to fuck with the enemy!”

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© Copyright Peter Fothergill 1992 - 2017

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