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Book: The Face of Satan's Bog
Chapter 25: Vehicle Identification Code

Like a black anvil of ridiculous size, the Blenheim - the most potent force of devastation in the bounty hunter fleet - thundered down through the sparse layers of cloud towards the city of New Southfields. Several crimson flashes burst forth from its forward weapons array as another volley of C.A.F.F.E.I.N.E. (Clever And Fast Fire-Emitting Incredibly Nifty Eradication) warheads were launched. It took the warheads only a few seconds of hypersonic flight to find their target. A flaming foam of destruction spread across the hull of the turd-like vessel in the harbour below. A cloud of steam formed around it as the surrounding sea water boiled and evaporated. Several thousand fish were cooked to perfection.

The Blenheim pulled out of its power-dive and skimmed low over the remains of the city. The Satyr, piloted by Sarah Helmet - the bounty hunter formally known as Sarah Savage, and the Drug Abuser, piloted by the warrior babes Suzanne Nag-Witch and Ginny the Screech ‘n’ Wail Mistress, followed the Blenheim in close formation. The three ships flew out over the ocean then swept round in a tight arc. They headed back towards their target.


Justin the cyborg sat on the bench at the back of the Blenheim’s bridge, his digital brain highly active as giga-quads of data flowed into him through the cable plugged into his forehead. Tactical information, strategic algorithms, weapons schematics, and a multitude of sensor output flashed into his synthetic consciousness with incredible speed and precision. Most of the palace’s cyborgs would have shut down with such an information overload, but not Justin. Direct orders from Peter the Ace and Panman had ensured that when Doctor DeMorgan created Justin’s polished head he had filled it with the most powerful processing ability available - many times that of any cyborg that had gone before. Of course, being in possession of one of the most powerful artificial minds in existence did have its drawbacks. The reason why the Mechanism had selected Justin to lead the cyborg revolt had been because of his superior posi-digital-hypercube-derived-omni-directional-phantom-powered brain formation. Its power and complexity made it difficult to shield and an easy target for brainwashing. Fortunately, the Advanced Amino Alloy Institute had been working hard and had recently perfected a new and extra-dense poly-plutonium-filled quasi-steel material - perfect for shielding delicate artificial minds from unwelcome brain invasions. Right before his current mission, a helmet made from the new alloy had been welded onto Justin’s head.

An encoded communications data-packet passed into Justin’s synth-cerebral sub-systems. Instantly he analysed it, verified it, decoded it, then authorised it. The image of Sarah Helmet - the bounty hunter formally known as Sarah Savage, appeared on the top left corner of the main view-screen.

I’m scanning major damage to its armour!” she said excitedly. “Its shields must be non-existent!

Justin formulated a reply. “I have reached the same conclusion.”

Great! One more blast to its top side and we’ll pierce the hull!

“That is a valid assumption.”

I’ll get to it!

The main image on the view-screen showed the turd-like large vessel several kilometres ahead, half submerged in the city’s harbour. The Satyr accelerated away from the Blenheim, arcs of brilliant light sweeping out from its forward emitters. The target ahead erupted into flame as bright flashes scattered across its surface.

More sensor readings pulsed into Justin’s digital cortex. Several member functions of his tactical analysis co-processor array divided the readings into subsections and performed a rapid set of parallel calculations. Justin verbalised the result. “A hull breach has been confirmed.”

Yes!” Sarah Helmet exclaimed. “Let’s land and get inside that thing, then we can help Peter the Ace and Panman take it over!

Justin stated pure logic. “The vessel in question is half-submerged in the ocean. That is not a normal state for such a large craft. That fact suggests that my masters, Peter the Ace and Panman, have successfully sabotaged the vessel and, to use a human expression, ‘brought it to its knees’. It is unlikely that our assistance is required.”

Sarah Helmet was annoyed at the cyborg’s lack of adventure. “Peter the Ace and Panman are indeed the greatest beings in existence, and you’re right that they won’t need our help, but I want to slay the heinous!

“Unnecessary slaughter is illogical.”

That kind of spineless talk is why you’ll never amount to more than a slave!

Justin corrected the bounty hunter. “My official status is that of assistant to Peter the Ace and Panman. I outrank slaves.”

To me you’re a gutless slave, and always will be! I’m going in!

The Saytr thrusted towards the giant turd-like ship. Strange explosions suddenly flashed across the ship’s surface.

Justin analysed a deluge of incoming data-streams from the Blenheim’s sensor array. “Delay your action.” he advised. “There is an object moving across the hull of the vessel’s engine section. Its weapons systems are active.”

Sarah Helmet yelled. “An enemy device of pure evil! I’ll have it vaporised in seconds!

More detailed sensor readings flooded into the cyborg’s head. “Do not attempt to vaporise the object.”

How dare you give a bounty hunter an order!” Sarah Helmet said angrily. “That is a capital offence for an assistant!

“I was not issuing an order.” Justin replied without emotion. “The object in question is not an associative module of the enemy vessel.”

What’s the hell’s that supposed to mean?!

Justin used a complexity reduction algorithm to simplify his previous vocalisation. “The object is not part of the enemy vessel.”

How can you be sure of that?

“Two reasons. One: the object is shooting at the enemy vessel, and two: the object is emitting an E. B. H. V. I. C.”

An Encrypted Bounty Hunter Vehicle Identification Code? It’s one of ours?

“Affirmative.”

I thought Peter the Ace and Panman embarked on their mission under deep cover? How did they smuggle such a large device onboard?

“They did not. The vehicle identification code does not correspond to any vehicles assigned to my masters.”

Then whose is it?


“You fuckin’ shit-shaped fucker!” Ross Mental screamed. He adjusted some of the controls of the Morbid Tank and brought it round in a full circle across the turd-like vessel’s hull. “Eat this!”

Another round of Amino Gash Grenades pumped out of the tank’s topside launcher and scattered across the ship. They detonated, ripping apart major sections of armour plating.

“I thought we’d be jammed in behind that fuckin’ engine grill for fuckin’ ever!” Ross Mental said as he drove the tank erratically across the hull. “Whatever caused those explosions set us loose. Now it’s time to kick fuckin’ butt, and huge fuckin’ butt at that!”

Yet another round of grenades was spat into the air.

“Bounty hunter missions suck!” Brother Drool announced, his voice trembling with fear. Even though a super-tough harness kept him tightly wedged into his seat, the trainee bounty hunter gripped onto his arm rests with all his strength. “This is, like, suicide, or something!”

The back of Ross Mental’s hand smacked into Brother Drool’s face breaking his nose and splitting his upper lip.

The bounty hunter glared at the trainee. “You soft-as-wool dumb fucker! How many times do I have to fuckin’ tell you? This is not suicide, its fuckin’ insanity!”

Brother Drool gripped his face to control the bleeding.

Ross Mental shook his head as he stared at the pathetic sight that sat next to him. “I tried my best. I showed restraint and patience beyond fuckin’ reason, but you still don’t fuckin’ get it!”

The bounty hunter pulled on the steering column and pushed the speed controller sending the Morbid Tank into a controlled skid across the surface of the huge ship. He operated another set of controls. The targeting graphics on the main view-screen changed. “This’ll rock the fucker!” Ross Mental pressed the fire button. A rapid succession of boomerang-like energy discharges flickered out across the ship and began ricocheting off outcrops of antennae and armoury, tearing them apart as they did so. “Fuck yeah!” The foul-mouthed bounty hunter turned to his trainee and pointed at the weapons controls. “Your turn.”

Brother Drool stared at him and scowled. “My turn for what?”

“Fuckin’ mayhem creation, that’s what!”

The trainee looked blankly at the controls.

Ross Mental slapped him on the back of the head. “Do something, you daft-fucker, or I’ll powder your fuckin’ hip bones!”

Panicked into acting, Brother Drool let go of his gushing nose and slammed both of his bloodied hands down on the controls. The main view-screen lit up as several different types of vector-style targeting icons appeared. Then the Morbid Tank shuddered violently. Blinding flashes of light erupted from every orifice as the tank’s outstanding arsenal of weaponry went into overdrive. The topside of the giant turd-like vessel was torn to pieces in seconds.

“More! Fuckin’ more!!” Ross Mental yelled.

The trainee was frantic. He pounded the controls. Even more powerful weapons were unleashed. The tank rocked from side to side as its turret rotated rapidly, spewing energetic death in all directions. The surface of the turd-like vessel was now a desolate vista of destruction.

Ross Mental was ecstatic. “This is what I was fuckin’ talking about! Use and abuse the fuckin’ insanity inside you!”

Brother Drool was now smiling devilishly. He pounded away like a jackhammer.

A sense of intense pride washed over Ross Mental. He had turned one of the most useless and pathetic trainees he’d ever known into an insane lunatic - all in the span of a few seconds. What a totally remarkable achievement!

The communications system bleeped. Ross Mental leaned forwards and read the information on the adjacent data-screen. “Fuck! It’s a priority one scrambled encrypted encoded secure call from the fuckin’ Blenheim!” He accepted the call. “Panman! Peter the Ace! Am I fuckin’ glad to see you here or fuckin’ what?”

A monotone and intensely boring voice droned from the speakers. “Panman and Peter the Ace are not onboard this vessel. It is I, Justin.

Ross Mental could not believe it. “What the fuck are you doing there, you tin fucker? You’re supposed to be serving fuckin’ drinks!”

I have been temporarily re-assigned to the Blenheim.

“Where the fuck are Peter the Ace and Panman?”

They are believed to be onboard the vessel upon which you are situated. I am calling to request that you cease fire immediately.

Ross Mental realised the gravity of the situation and complied as instantly as he could. He punched Brother Drool hard in the face. The trainee slumped back and entered a state of deep unconsciousness. All of the Morbid Tank’s weapons systems fell silent.

“I’m going in to help them.” Ross Mental said with a most serious tone.

That is a logical course of action. I will land the Blenheim and assist you.

Ross Mental laughed. “Why the fuck would I need your help, you fuckin’ rust bucket?! Stay where you fuckin’ are!”

As a matter of course, all palace cyborgs were programmed to obey without question all orders issued by a bounty hunter. Justin’s response was as expected.

I obey.

The communications channel closed.

Ross Mental pushed on the speed controller and guided the Morbid Tank across the tortured hull towards one of the larger holes. At high speed, and with admirable insanity, the tank disappeared into the darkness.

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