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Book: The Face of Satan's Bog
Chapter 28: Freshly Polished

“Right,” Peter the Ace said. “Now hook up the professor.”

“I obey.” Justin answered, devoid of any feeling. Effortlessly he bent over and picked up the virtually lifeless form of Professor AmpléBläckett Hàgênmåclídensõn. With a whirr of servos and a hiss of hydraulics, the mechanoid carried the academic over to the cyborg construction unit at the centre of the room. He carefully placed the professor into the device, making sure his legs and arms were secured. The cyborg construction unit bleeped in acceptance.

Sind’a Thighs stood next to Peter the Ace and watched the proceedings with great interest and a touch of apprehension. Not because of the professor, but because of the other occupant of the cyborg construction unit - Digby. Although he was of no significance in the big scheme of things, she felt concern for his well-being. She had mentioned this feeling to Peter the Ace as they carried their injured companions into the ship. Peter the Ace had simply told her not to worry and that in time those kinds of feelings would fade away - especially after year eight’s ‘Severing Emotional Attachment without Remorse’ lectures. No top class bounty hunter could ever afford to let such emotion cloud his or her judgement.

Justin turned and faced Peter the Ace and spoke in monotone. “The subjects are now correctly positioned in the cyborg construction unit.”

“Excellent!” Peter the Ace said. “Activate the Limb and Torso Irreparable Tissue Eliminator.”

“I obey.”

Justin operated a few controls on a nearby panel then stomped away to a safe position. Several data-screens flickered to life. The cyborg construction unit buzzed and clicked.

“Watch this!” Peter the Ace said to Sind’a Thighs. “This is really quite entertaining!”

The trainee nodded and watched the machinery at the centre of the room. Several devices of varied design were descending from the ceiling. They turned to point at the professor and Digby. A bright strobe of light flashed across the two bodies. An accompanying symphony of thunderous cracks reverberated through the room. Immediately several areas of flesh on the professor and Digby burst into flames. First skin, then flab, then muscle, then bone was vaporised into a cloud of dark smoke. Even though the massive extractor fan on the ceiling was working hard, the stench of burning meat was thick and nauseous.

Sind’a Thighs was shocked. “What is going on?!”

Peter the Ace noticed her distress. “Don’t worry.” he said, smiling. “The cyborg construction unit is simply burning away all the parts of the professor and your friend that cannot be saved. The unit will then replace them with mechanoid components.”

“Oh. I guess that’s all right.”

“Of course it is. Look. See how Digby’s arms and torso have disappeared?”

“Yes.”

“They were obviously beyond hope of recovery. Now they’ll be replaced by heavily armour-plated synthetic versions - it’ll be a great improvement!”

“What about Digby’s legs?” Sind’a Thighs asked, pointing below the intense flashes of laser fire. “They are still there.”

Peter the Ace nodded. “Obviously the cyborg construct unit has determined that they’re in reasonable health. They’ll be reattached after the torso has been built. Because of the weight of the torso though, Digby will probably have to build up his puny leg muscles to absurd proportions. He’ll be pumping iron and injecting steroids for months!”

Sind’a Thighs nodded and smiled, although she was obviously still concerned.

The celebrated emotional support skills of Peter the Ace came into play once again. “If you like, I’ll make sure you’re assigned the task of rehabilitating him.”

Her eyes widened. “Thank you. I would like that very much.”

“Excellent!” The bounty hunter said. “Consider it done.”

“You are kind beyond necessity!” the trainee said, kissing Peter the Ace’s hand.

“Of course,” Peter the Ace added, watching the trainee caress his hand. “Digby’s rehabilitation activities must not interfere with your bounty hunter training. You’re on the fast track training programme now. If you miss any lectures, tests, tutorials, or practicals you’ll not just be kicked off the programme, you’ll be colonically irrigated with bleach and expelled from the Palace of Amino itself.”

The trainee nodded solemnly. “I understand.”

For a moment the lasers stopped firing allowing some of the dense smoke to dissipate. A grim sight was revealed.

The trainee gasped

Peter the Ace, however, laughed. “That should make you feel better!” he said, pointing. “If you’re still feeling concerned at the extent of Digby’s vaporisation, look at Professor AmpléBläckett Hàgênmåclídensõn! Only his head remains!”

Suddenly one of the lasers fired. The blast cut into the professor’s face and disintegrated everything from the nose down.

Peter the Ace laughed even louder. “Sorry! I mean half his head!”

Sind’a Thighs could not help but see the funny side too. She let out a few girlish giggles.

With a piercing hiss, four nozzles on the floor at each corner of the cyborg construction unit expelled vast quantities of ice-cold carbon-dioxide, extinguishing all the burning flesh. After a couple of second the nozzles closed. The extraction fan on the ceiling whirred like a jet engine, clearing the room almost instantly. The lasers withdrew back into the ceiling. New devices descended.

“This part is even more entertaining!” Peter the Ace said.

With intense activity, the new devices began to circle the two patients. Servos, power conduits, co-processors, hydraulics, data networks, and thick armour were fitted to the professor and Digby with amazing speed and precision. Smaller machinery concentrated on integrating the patients’ nerve tissue into the cyborg systems.

While all this was going on, in another corner of the room other devices were constructing mechanoid limbs ready for attachment after the completion of the torsos.

Ross Mental entered the room and performed an impressive display of kicks and punches. “That bald fucker, Lawrence, is locked in the super reinforced cage in the cargo bay as ordered.”

“Excellent!” Peter the Ace said. “Will he live, do you think?”

“Of course, that motherfucker won’t go down this easily. He’d regained consciousness by the time I’d left him. He was mumbling some shit about fuckin’ woeful retribution and the abode of the damned.”

“Really?”

“Fuck yeah! He claims he’s going to send us all there. The fucker’s a grade one lunatic!”

“Indeed he is. How’s Brother Drool?”

“He’s in a bad fuckin’ way. I looked in on the medical bay on my way up here. Apparently he had a genetic defect in his facial bone structure. When I punched him to stop him firing my tank’s fuck-off weapons his face shattered into forty-eight pieces and sent splinters of bone deep into the fucker’s brain! The automatic medical machines had no choice but to extensively lobotomise him!”

“Hmm.” Peter the Ace said. “That’s rather unfortunate.”

“Yeah, fuckin’ unfortunate for him, all he’s good for now is sanitary work. But it’s not unfortunate for us!”

Peter the Ace was curious. “How do you mean?”

“Well, it’s no good having a fuckin’ weak-boned trainee at the palace. His genetic defect could have remained hidden until he qualified. He would then be a fuckin’ disaster waiting to happen!”

“Excellent point! I’ll request an audience with the Superior Beings as soon as we get back. I’ll recommend that each trainee receives a hard punch in the face immediately. That should prevent this happening on a mission ever again.”

“Fuckin’ cool! And you can tell the Superior Beings that I volunteer to carry out those punches personally!”

“I will.”

In the corner of the room the devices preparing the mechanoid limbs for Digby and the professor bleeped to announce they had completed their tasks. Peter the Ace, Ross Mental, and Sind’a Thighs watched as the metal appendages were carried across the room. Within seconds Professor AmpléBläckett Hàgênmåclídensõn had two cyborg arms and two cyborg legs attached to his thickly armoured torso. Digby’s new arms were attached only moments later. The micro surgery devices of the cyborg construction unit then began the intricate task of connecting Digby’s real legs to the specially prepared sockets at the base of his synthetic torso.

Sind’a Thighs looked up at her mentor. “When will the process be complete?”

“Soon.” Peter the Ace replied. “The cyborg construction unit has yet to connect the brains of Digby and the professor to their artificial systems. That’s the most complex part of the process.”

A communications console buzzed. Peter the Ace answered. “Hello?”

Yo, Ace!

“Ah, Panman. Have you satisfied your hunger?”

Not completely, but I’m out of danger now.

“Excellent. What’s up?”

While I was in the galley gorging on vanilla frosted banana gateaux, Jemima Murma wandered in. She told me the most momentous news! Guess what it is?

Peter the Ace was intrigued. “Is she the long lost bastard daughter of Kathwoman?”

No.

“Hmm… Can she warp space with her bare hands and create new realities of untold splendour?”

No.

“Um… Is she able to dislocate her jaw and swallow live mammals while reciting fine eighteenth-century Earth poetry?”

Not that I know of.

Ross Mental leapt into the conversation. “I know! She’s a fuckin’ man!”

You’re both way off the mark!

Peter the Ace had grown tired of Panman’s guessing game. “You’d better just tell us.”

She’s prepared a massive buffet of delectable quality to welcome us back on board! Apparently it’s all laid out ready in the banqueting hall!

“Excellent!”

Too right! I’m off there now, right after I change out of these academic gowns. I suggest you change too, they restrict movement too much - It’s hard to keep your mouth full of food!

“Good idea. It’ll be good to feast ourselves before we head back to the palace. We’ll join you there shortly.”

Peter the Ace looked at Justin. “When Digby and the professor regain consciousness, escort them carefully up to the banqueting hall.”

Justin’s neck servos whirred as his metal head bowed. “I obey.”

Peter the Ace, Ross Mental, and Sind’a Thighs left the cyborg construction lab.


Panman grinned like a Sangsmiler dung beast.

Jemima Murma noticed his pleasure. “You are pleased with my work?”

The first class bounty hunter turned to the minimally clothed assistant. “Too right! You’ve excelled yourself once again!”

The six metre dining table at the centre of the Blenheim’s ornate banqueting hall was piled high with colourful and delicious food from many of the most respected worlds within the known sectors. The most impressive dish was the metre high Gargarlon chicken thigh at the centre of the table. It was coated in thousands of spices and herbs, and was dripping with orange sauce.

Panman was drooling. “Awesome!”

“Are you waiting for the others,” Jemima Murma asked, “or are you…”

She didn’t get the chance to finish her stupid question. Already, Panman had ripped off a huge chunk of the giant chicken thigh and was munching noisily on it. With his free hand he grabbed a load of Lligrehtof meatballs and dunked them into a conveniently positioned bowl of vulture blood clot syrup. He forced them into his mouth.

Jemima Murma could hear the whirr of Panman’s servo assisted jaws crushing the food. A deep sense of pride washed over her. To have a top-class bounty hunter ingest the food that she’d lovingly prepared was an honour above all others. Sometimes she found it hard to believe the fantastic job that she had as assistant to Peter the Ace and Panman.

After failing the entrance test to become a trainee bounty hunter, Jemima Murma had been deeply depressed and had given up all hope of a respectable job. Only her well-toned figure and her willingness to wear scant outfits allowed her to remain at the Palace of Amino. For several years she could only find work in the greasy spoon cafés of the palace’s under-class districts serving drainage cleaners and sewer swillers their daily doses of lard and cheap tea.

All had seemed lost until she finally got her first big break. The Big ‘n’ Soft ‘n’ Juicy Doughnut Bar, situated in the high echelons of the Central Tower, was advertising for an erotically appealing female to design and prepare a new range of doughnut related products. Jemima Murma would never have seen the advertisement had not one of her flatulent customers fished out a copy of Top-Class Amino Catering Week from one of the paper dumps and left it in the café where she worked. Realising this was the only way out of the stench and depravity of her under-class existence, she applied.

Later that day she was interviewed and tested. Samuel Spongemaster, the doughnut bar’s proprietor, was highly impressed with her designs, and especially with her well-toned thighs and abdominals. She started work immediately.

Then, within weeks, her second and even bigger break came. Panman, a first-class bounty hunter of remarkable appetite, was a regular visitor to the doughnut bar. He had expressed his enjoyment of the new products and would often visit several times a day for a snack. One day, shortly after the Mechanism had almost destroyed the Palace of Amino, Panman arrived and ordered an extra large batch of banana frosted double chocolate and cinnamon towers - Jemima Murma’s speciality. He had then asked Samuel Spongemaster who it was that was responsible for such amazing doughy products. Samuel introduced Jemima Murma to the bounty hunter. After seeing her physique Panman instantly made an offer. He said that he and Peter the Ace were looking for a new onboard assistant for the Blenheim after Carmen, their current one, had had her brain absorbed by Zyix Taskmaster on the Mechanism. He asked Jemima Murma if she would like the job. Like all mortal beings, Jemima Murma had always had a keen interest in Peter the Ace and Panman - posters and figurines of the two heroes adorned her bedroom. She accepted without hesitation. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sarah Helmet, the bounty hunter formally known as Sarah Savage, entered the Banqueting hall. She was followed by the warrior babes, Suzanne Nag-Witch and Ginny the Screech ‘n’ Wail Mistress.

Sarah Helmet took of her thick leather jacket. Her densely muscular male physique bulged under her tight white tee-shirt. “Mind if we join you?”

Panman tried to answer but the sheer mass of food in his mouth didn’t even allow a squeak to escape.

Jemima Murma answered for him. “You are all most welcome.”

Sarah Helmet grabbed a large plate and began to pile up snacks. The warrior babes approached the table, their chains - the only clothing they were wearing - rattled loudly as they walked.

“This is one of the best spreads I’ve ever seen!” Ginny the Screech ‘n’ Wail Mistress shrieked, her shrill voice almost shattering some of the more delicate works of art that adorned the room. She grabbed a hard-boiled chameleon and bit into it hard, tearing off its head.

Suzanne Nag-Witch agreed and poured herself a tall glass of champagne. As fifth-class bounty hunters the warrior babes rarely enjoyed such lavish meals. They were both determined to make the most of it.

Ross Mental, and Sind’a Thighs entered the room. Peter the Ace followed close behind, now wearing his astonishing armour-plated battle-suit.

Ross Mental immediately headed for the giant chicken leg, already half devoured by Panman.

Sind’a Thighs joined Sarah Helmet and the warrior babes.

Peter the Ace admired the mound of colourful food. “Most excellent!” He said. “Jemima, my dear, once again you’ve come up with the goods!”

Jemima Murma bowed. “I am your obedient servant.”

“You are indeed! Why don’t you join us and have something to eat yourself?”

She looked up at her master. “Surely I am not deserving of such an offer. I am far beneath anyone in this room, not only in status but in intellect too.”

Peter the Ace nodded. “That is true, but on this occasion an exception can be made.”

“Thank you!” she said, obviously excited. “You are kind above all reason.”

Peter the Ace watched her as she joined the others at the table. He knew about her failure to pass the test to become a bounty hunter trainee, and he could imagine how she must have felt at loosing the chance to become a member of the most elite group of crime fighters in the known galaxy. Allowing her to eat alongside qualified bounty hunters onboard the greatest ship in the bounty hunter fleet would give her a taste of the lifestyle she could never have.

Just as Peter the Ace was about to join in the feast a nearby data-screen flickered to life then bleeped. He looked at the graphical information presented. “Panman!” he shouted. “Come and look at this!”

Panman joined his colleague at the data-screen. The fried locusts he was carrying dripped hot fat onto the floor. “What’s up?”

Peter the Ace pointed at the screen. “I think we forgot something!”

“Whoa!” Panman exclaimed. He looked closer. “Are they who I think they are?”

Peter the Ace nodded. He directed his voice to the ship. “Blenheim. Augment screen section three-point-four. Enhance.”

The video image in one corner of the data-screen expanded its moon-lit view of the battered top hull of the Satan’s Bog. The central section was enlarged then enhanced with thirty different night-vision algorithms. The image was now crystal clear - thousands of girls in woollen night dresses were running all over the hull.

“Cool!” Panman said, stuffing several locusts into his mouth. He swallowed hard. “They managed to find their way out. They’re quite intelligent!”

“They are indeed,” Peter the Ace said, “but it’s a cold night and they’ll suffer physical as well as mental torment if they stay out there much longer.”

“You’re right! And then they’ll have no intelligence at all!”

“And, their usefulness as future bounty hunter assistants will be greatly reduced.”

Panman thought for a moment. “We have to get them onboard and take them back with us.”

Peter the Ace agreed. “My thinking exactly, but there are thousands of them. We would have to fill all the free space on the Blenheim to get them all in. That would not be wise.”

“Why not?”

“Well, the main reason is because of the ultra-high levels of oestrogen in their blood. They’ll try to tear us apart to get at our bodies. That would be highly annoying.”

Panman nodded. “It would. We’ll have to take as many as we can while keeping a portion of the ship cordoned off for our personal use.”

“Good idea. What about the rest of the girls?”

Panman had it all planned out. “Well, the city that Lawrence’s ship crashed through suffered major damage. Many of its restaurants will have been destroyed and their staff members violently dismembered. The remaining girls can be used to re-staff the new eating establishments that rise from the ashes!”

“Surely that won’t be for months?”

Panman pointed at the screen. “I don’t think so. Look at the city. Already power is being restored to some areas - lights are coming on all over the place. The surviving population seems resourceful and hard-working. When the rebuilding of the central areas begins the construction workers will need nourishment during their breaks. Restaurants will therefore be the first businesses to reopen!”

“Fantastic!” Peter the Ace said, impressed with his colleague’s genius. Panman had fully justified leaving most of the girls behind.

“All we have to do now,” Panman said, “is figure out how to get as many of the girls as possible into the Blenheim.”

Peter the Ace smiled. “I have a cunning idea!” He directed his voice to the ship. “Blenheim, is the recently installed chemical synthesis system on-line?”

The ship answered in an even more monotone voice than Justin would have. “YES.”

“Excellent! Can chemicals created by the system be ejected through the rear thruster nozzles?”

“YES.”

“Marvellous! Blenheim, create fifty litres of pure male pheromones immediately.”

“PURE MALE PHEROMONES CANNOT BE CREATED BY THE CHEMICAL SYNTHESIS SYSTEM.”

Peter the Ace was astounded. “Why not?”

“ONLY SYNTHETIC VERSIONS OF CHEMICALS CAN BE CREATED BY THE CHEMICAL SYNTHESIS SYSTEM, HENCE THE SYSTEMS NAME.”

The bounty hunter ignored the ship’s insolence. “Will a synthetic version of male pheromones have the same arousing effect on humanoid females as the real thing would?”

“PROBABLY.”

“That will have to do. Create fifty litres of synthetic male pheromones.”

“CHEMICAL SYNTHESIS SYSTEM ACTIVATED…”

“Cool idea, Ace!” Panman said. He placed the last fried locust between his jaws and crushed it to a pulp. “Let’s hope it has the desired effect.”

The Blenheim spoke. “FIFTY LITRES OF MALE PHEROMONES CREATED.”

“Excellent.” Peter the Ace said. “Spray them at maximum pressure out of the rear thruster nozzles. Display on the data-screen.”

“REAR THUSTER NOZZLES ACTIVATED.”

A powerful jet of liquid discharged from the rear of the Blenheim. The Jet quickly dispersed into a fine mist that covered the surface of the Satan’s Bog’s hull between the bounty hunter vessel and the frantic females.

Although the pheromones were synthetic, they had the desired effect immediately. Like a herd of spooked bile-brutes, the girls turned and began running towards the Blenheim. Their arms flailed in the air like gibbons.

“Cool!” Panman exclaimed. “They’ll be here in seconds.”

“I’d better sort out where to put them.” Peter the Ace said. “Blenheim, segregate this ship so that the occupants of this room have free access to the following areas: the bridge, the luxury accommodation deck, the holo-games room, the sauna, the cyborg construction lab, the galley, and this room.”

“AFFIRMATIVE.”

The sound of heavy blast doors slamming shut all over the ship reverberated through the banqueting hall.

“SEGREGATION COMPLETE. THE SPECIFIED AREAS HAVE BEEN ISOLATED FROM THE REST OF THE SHIP.”

Panman made an astute observation. “The girls have reached the ship!”

Peter the Ace looked at the image on the data-screen. “Oh yes! They’re trying to mate with the landing gear!”

“We should let them in.”

Peter the Ace spoke to the ship. “Blenheim, open the secondary cargo bay door. Flood the segregated areas of the ship with the pheromones.”

“AFFIRMATIVE.”

The data-screen showed a section of the Blenheim’s underside opening. In a fit of lustful frenzy, the girls began leaping up into the cargo bay in an attempt to find the source of the pheromones - first ten, then fifty, then a hundred, then more. The ship was filling with females at an alarming rate.

“Whoa, Ace!” Panman exclaimed. “Your plan is a phenomenal success!”

“It appears so. How many so far?”

Panman looked at the internal sensor data in the corner of the screen. “Over three hundred!”

A dull thudding started out in the passageway.

“They’ve reached this level already!” Panman said. “They’re trying to break the blast door down!”

Peter the Ace laughed. “We’re in no danger. It would take a thirty mega-tonne nuclear detonation to even scratch those doors.”

The Blenheim spoke. “WARNING: MAXIMUM SAFE OCCUPANCY LEVEL EXCEEDED.”

Panman looked at the internal sensor data. “There are now over four-hundred onboard!”

“How many more can we fit?” Peter the Ace asked.

Panman switched the external video-view to internal. An image of a passageway on the Blenheim’s lowest deck was displayed. “Not many. Look! They packed in like battery hens!”

The image showed girls upon girls upon girls. They were writhing like maggots and moaning like seals.

Peter the Ace made an executive decision. “I think that’s enough. Blenheim, close the secondary cargo bay door.”

After a few seconds, the Blenheim answered. “SECONDARY CARGO BAY DOOR CLOSED.”

“How many did we get?”

Panman examined the data-screen. “Four-hundred and eighty-six! But there are literally thousands left.”

“The restaurants of this city are going to be spoilt for choice when it comes to hiring waitresses and kitchen staff.”

Ross Mental approached. “What the fuck are you two up to?”

Panman answered. “We’ve just recruited four-hundred and eighty-six trainee assistants!”

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter looked at the image of the crammed passageway. “Fuckin’ cool! Where the fuck did you find them?”

“Deep in Lawrence’s ship.” Panman answered. “He had them hooked up to his ship’s computer system. I guess he thought it would supercharge its processing abilities.”

“Fuckin’ pervert!”

A rhythmic metallic stomping sound accompanied by the whirr of finely tuned servos distracted the three bounty hunters. They looked towards the doorway of the banqueting hall. Sarah Helmet, Sind’a Thighs, and the warrior babes stopped eating and looked too.

Gleaming like a freshly polished wheel-hub, Justin stood there. The piercing red pinpoints of light within his digital eyes pulsed as he spoke. “I have escorted Professor AmpléBläckett Hàgênmåclídensõn and Digby to the banqueting hall as ordered.”

“Well done.” Peter the Ace said. “Show them in.”

Justin stepped heavily to one side.

In a completely farcical manner, the newly mechanised professor stumbled into the banqueting hall. Within seconds he lost control of his cyborg body and fell forwards, smashing into the carpeted floor.

The bounty hunter females laughed.

Justin bent over and grabbed the professor. He pulled the academic to his feet. The professor’s hydraulic leg systems hissed wildly as he tried to remain upright.

Digby followed the professor into the room. He used a specially designed reinforced zimmer frame to help him walk - essential to help his original biological legs support the immense weight of his artificial torso.

As soon as Sind’a Thighs saw him she ran to his side. He smiled nervously.

Panman walked over to the professor. “Welcome back to the land of the living! How do you feel?”

Professor AmpléBläckett Hàgênmåclídensõn glared at the bounty hunter. The top half of the professor’s head - the only remaining part of his original body - turned red with rage. “What have you done to me?!” The professor’s voice, now completely electronic due to the loss of everything below his nose, warbled wildly. It was an improvement over Justin’s electronic voice though as the professor’s expressed definite emotion. Obviously the new upgrades to the cyborg construction unit had been successful.

Panman gave the professor an explanation. “When you fell from the ventilation duct in hall of adolescent females you suffered horrendous injuries. It took us over an hour to get you to our ship, by which time you were in a deep coma and within seconds of death.”

The professor looked down and yelled. “Where is my body?!”

“It’s been incinerated.”

“How dare you do such a thing?!”

Ross Mental stepped in to answer that one. “Because we’re fuckin’ top class bounty hunters of the Palace of Amino! We do what the fuck we want!” He punched the air.

“What Ross Mental is trying to say,” Panman said, “is that we had no choice. The flesh from your nose down was beyond recovery.”

The professor was furious. “This is an outrage! When I return to my faculty I’ll instigate full legal proceedings against you and your palace! I’ll sue the pants off you!”

Peter the Ace spoke. “You will never return to your faculty.”

“Are you imprisoning me?!”

“No. But once we get you back to the Palace of Amino you will never be allowed to leave. The new cyborg body that you have contains hyper-advanced top secret Amino technology that cannot be allowed to fall into unscrupulous hands.”

“This is preposterous! It infringes on all my rights as a sentient life-form!”

Peter the Ace smiled. “If you’re referring to the rights drawn up by the high council of Lord Gastronemus, ruler of the central worlds, then you’re wrong.”

“What in Larleen’s name are you talking about?!”

“Those rights only apply to life-forms that are seventy percent biological. You, my mechanical friend, are only eight percent biological. The rest of you is the property of the Palace of Amino.”

The professor fumed.

Panman tried to calm him down. “Look on the bright side. You have a new body that’s far superior to your old lard-ridden one in every way, and you can now live at the Palace of Amino. Surely that’s a dream come true!”

Sparks began to fly out of the sides of the professor’s chrome-plated neck. Several of his servos melted. He fell, this time backwards, and slammed into the wall.

With cold clarity Justin explained the situation. “A power surge caused by Professor AmpléBläckett Hàgênmåclídensõn’s emotional cyber-systems interface has initiated a complete power-down of all his systems.”

“Oh dear.” Peter the Ace said. “You’d better take him back to the lab. Keep him deactivated until we get back. He’s obviously going to need a lot of counselling before he accepts his new way of life.”

“I obey.” Justin said. He grabbed the professor’s chunky plate-like feet and dragged him out of the room.

“I guess we should be getting back to the palace.” Panman said to Peter the Ace.”

“You’re right as always.” Peter the Ace said. “But what about Lawrence’s contorted vessel?”

Panman thought for a moment. “Fusion warheads!” He said excitedly. “We’d only need one, and the entire ship would be vaporised!”

“True. But what about the nearby city and the thousands of girls still wandering on the ship’s hull?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Maybe we could just leave it?”

Panman looked unconvinced, but then smiled. “Yeah, when I think about it, that’d be cool! The city’s authorities could construct a breathtaking amusement park within it! They could fill it with devastating rides and life-threatening holo-games! Restaurants based around the theme of the underworld could line each passageway! It would rule!”

“It would. There is a small problem with that idea though.”

Panman looked shocked. “It’s a most exceptional idea! What problems could there possibly be?!”

“Perhaps the hundreds - possibly thousands - of mechanised undead warriors still wandering around inside the ship, and also outside.” Peter the Ace said.

His colleague could not disagree. “Whoa! You’re right! I forgot about those.”

“Indeed. They will have to be neutralised.”

“Yeah, but the Blenheim’s jammed full of stimulated females. We can’t stick around too long or they’ll tear each other apart with frustration. We need to get them back to the palace’s drug therapy clinics as soon as possible.”

Peter the Ace nodded his head in the direction of the other bounty hunters in the room. “We’ll just have to leave a team of volunteers behind to slaughter the undead for us.”

Panman looked at the others. “I totally agree.” He raised his voice. “Hey, everyone! Ace and I need to get back to the palace straight away, but there are hundreds and hundreds of mechanised corpses wandering about in and around Lawrence’s ship. They need to be brutally and efficiently massacred before we can allow the local authorities to have the vessel. Any volunteers?”

Immediately Sarah Helmet, the bounty hunter formally known as Sarah Savage, drew a half-metre battle knife from her leather pants and thrust it into the air. She shouted, dropping a joint of curried beef from her mouth. “I will do it!”

Peter the Ace smiled broadly. He knew that Sarah Helmet could never refuse the opportunity of carnage creation.

Suzanne Nag-Witch drew one of her fusion blasters. She caressed its long steely barrel with her tongue. “I haven’t used this for days.” The bounty hunter said breathlessly. A wicked grin spread across her face. “Count me in.”

Ginny the Screech ‘n’ Wail Mistress rattled her chains with obvious delight. “There’s nothing I love better than butchering the damned!” she shrieked. “Just show me where the decomposing bastards are and I’ll fracture their faces!”

Everyone’s D.R.E.D.D.S. (Dynamic Reinforced Ear Drum Defence System) detected the excruciating tones of Ginny the Screech ‘n’ Wail Mistress’s voice and immediately reduced the shrill sound energy entering the ear canal by ninety-four percent.

Digby, whose ears did not benefit from advanced Palace of Amino defence technology, winced in pain. He put his hands over his ears. Unfortunately he had not yet gained full control of his cyborg arms. With a resounding whack he knocked himself unconscious. He slumped to the floor, his ears bleeding profusely.

Sind’a Thighs grabbed him. “I will take him to the medical bay.”

She dragged him out of the room.

Ross Mental punched the air rapidly. “I’ll stay too!” he shouted. “My fuck-off tank will grind the rancid fuckers to a fuck-ridden pulp!”

Panman laughed. “Cool! The team’s assembled!”

The pounding on the blast door just outside the banqueting hall was getting more and more frenetic.

“I think we’re going to have to leave immediately.” Peter the Ace said. “Those hormonally charged girls are more excited than ever!” He looked at Sarah Helmet and the warrior babes. “You’d better get to your ships.”

Ross Mental yelled. “It’s time to fuck with the enemy!”

The foul-mouthed bounty hunter ran purposefully out of the room, his T-Uff-As-A-Rhino Quality Back-Breaker boots pounding heavily on the luxury carpet. Sarah Helmet and the warrior babes followed close behind. Their ships, the Satyr and the Drug Abuser, were docked to the Blenheim’s topside and primed for rapid separation and launch.

Peter the Ace directed his voice to the ship. “Blenheim, prepare all systems for an immediate and stunning take-off.”

“EMERGENCY STARTUP SEQUENCE ACTIVATED…”

The two first-class bounty hunters left Jemima Murma to clear up and headed for the bridge. Panman grabbed a plateful of deserts on his way out.

“Well, Ace,” Panman said as three Bavarian doughnuts found their way into his mouth, “it appears that we have thwarted yet another of Lawrence’s depraved and ludicrous attempts at galactic domination!”

“Indeed.” Peter the Ace said as they entered a turbo-lift. The doors slid shut and the turbo-lift accelerated away. “And he won’t be trying it again in a hurry.”

“Yeah!” Panman laughed, munching on a beetle bun. “He’ll be spending the rest of his artificially extended life in the deepest, darkest, dankest, dirtiest, most disgusting dungeon that the Palace of Amino has to offer!”

The turbo-lift doors opened. The two bounty hunters stepped out and onto the provocatively lit bridge. The main view-screen showed the Satyr and the Drug Abuser thrusting away.

“Has Ross Mental left the ship?” Peter the Ace asked as he leapt into his sumptuous command chair.

The Blenheim replied. “AFFIRMATIVE.”

Panman took his position at the weapons console and relaxed into his huge leather seat. “I guess we can go then!”

“Indeed we can!”

Peter the Ace operated a few controls. A deep and throaty rumble passed through the ship as one of the most powerful propulsion systems in the known galaxy kicked in.

Panman grinned as he felt himself pushed far into his seat. There was nothing more satisfying that one of the Blenheim’s incredible launches!

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