Through the humid bowels of the asteroid he ran, his squat, cloaked frame huddled over an unnecessarily bulky data pad. With remarkable speed the little fat humanoid scurried along black and unevenly cut passageways, each one designed to annoy, confuse, intimidate and disgust.
The design worked.
At regular intervals he passed large thick windows cut into the rock walls, allowing him a glimpse into the grim laboratories beyond. There he could see green clothed individuals toiling hard in appallingly toxic conditions. The life expectancy of one of those lab assistants was only a few days, he knew. He was happy to have avoided such work.
Dodging pools of synthetic sludge the portly humanoid left the dark passageways and entered a much more spacious region of wide gloomy shafts and towering black-walled chambers. After crossing numerous nerve-racking gantries and arched bridges he clambered across a final bridge over a bubbling lake of green-lit sludge and over to a tall arched doorway. Panting, he touched a panel in the middle of the doorway. After a few seconds the door recognised him. It groaned like a nauseated moose, and then sank into the floor.
In the vast room beyond a figure, robed, hooded and still, stood silhouetted against the huge wall-sized window at the far side of the room. The figure sniggered quietly and then raised his arm. “Come to me, Badoodoo.”
Badoodoo entered the room and then scurried across the polished stone floor up to a position next to the figure. He bowed and then wheezed excitedly. “Lord Ecnerwal, I’m pleased to inform you that…”
Lord Ecnerwal interrupted and sniggered once more. He pointed towards the window. “Look Badoodoo!”
Through the expansive window a steamy jungle plain could be seen stretching for kilometres under a dome of artificial daylight. Wandering creatures, most more than thirty metres in height, were making a slow progression through the densely packed trees. As they walked they let out frequent and deeply resonant moans. With mouths as wide as shuttle craft they scooped up huge mouthfuls of foliage and chomped down on it hard with anvil-sized teeth.
Badoodoo nodded and humoured his master. “Yes, I see them, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal grinned unevenly. “The relentless grazing of the egralons pleases me immensely. And their plentiful defecations please me even more!”
One of the giant egralons was now only a few dozen metres away.
Lord Ecnerwal sniggered yet again. He rubbed his hands together. “It does my bidding, Badoodoo. I created it from nothing, and it defecates copiously just as I command!” He leaned back and his voice rose in pitch. “Ha harr! It empties its bowels the moment I wish it to!”
Badoodoo watched as the creature dumped several tonnes of excrement onto the undergrowth. “They do that all the time, my lord. It’s natural, I think. Especially considering the amount of food they…”
Lord Ecnerwal turned and planted his knee firmly into Badoodoo’s plentiful gut. Badoodoo collapsed to the floor. He gasped for breath as a deep pain spread through his abdomen.
Lord Ecnerwal looked down at him and screamed. “The egralons do my bidding, you stomach chunk! Acknowledge that fact now!”
Badoodoo nodded and then groaned. “Of course, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal looked down. After a few seconds of apparently deep thought he made an observation. “You are a short, pathetic and rotund specimen of life, Badoodoo!”
Badoodoo looked up. “I know, my lord.” He replied, wheezing. With difficulty he sat up. “You inform me of that fact every day.”
“That’s because you need to be reminded, you frog-choking hog strand!”
“It’s not necessary. My memory is not so…”
Badoodoo’s head snapped back as Lord Ecnerwal’s white and bony fist smacked him hard on his forehead. He collapsed back to the floor groaning. His head throbbed.
“Insolence!” His master shouted. “Never question my need to remind you of anything at anytime ever!”
Wincing in pain, Badoodoo rolled over and then struggled to his feet. He was still gripping tightly onto his data pad. “Yes, my lord.”
His master’s voice suddenly became the epitome of calm. “Very good.” He pulled back his hood revealing his bald and deepy scared scalp. Tufts of wiry grey and black hair nestled behind his ears. He smiled unevenly, his gaunt face creasing up like an old bag of nuts. “You have information that will please me. Is that correct?”
Badoodoo was, as always, initially startled by Lord Ecnerwal’s appearance. He immediately composed himself. “That’s correct, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal yelled. “Then tell me what it is!”
Badoodoo shuffled over to a large oval console at the centre of the chamber. The bright glow of the console’s control surfaces was the only illumination in the room. He operated a few controls and then tapped on his data pad. A huge oval view-screen glimmered to life. A simulated image of a rotating and jagged celestial body filled the screen.
Badoodoo explained. “This is Comet WULF, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal frowned. “Don’t abbreviate, you dangling dog fidget! Use its full name!”
Badoodoo nodded. “This is Comet Wart Udder Limp Fumble, my lord.”
“I know, I created it, you cheesy hair bundle! What of it?”
“It was infiltrated twelve hours ago. The injection mechanism activated. The infection was delivered.”
Lord Ecnerwal gasped. His mouth hung open like a shocked and excited baby. “And the recipient?”
Badoodoo grinned and operated the console. Finally he would please his master. The image on the view-screen changed to an internal view of the comet. A figure dressed in an environment suit could be seen drifting towards a jagged tunnel. Something could clearly be seen sticking into the figure’s leg.
“Oh joy!” Lord Ecnerwal exclaimed. He obviously recognised what he was seeing. “A bounty hunter! Oh Badoodoo, It has happened! My plan – decades in the making – is finally coming to fruition!”
Badoodoo nodded. “It is, my lord.”
“I am momentous, am I not?!”
“You are, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal began pacing excitedly around his chamber. “This is sooner than I expected. My intellect must be more stunning that even I realised.” He stopped pacing and grinned strangely at Badoodoo. “That makes my modesty even more incredible than ever!”
Badoodoo was disturbed by Lord Ecnerwal’s bizarre behaviour, which seemed to be intensifying. “What are your orders, my lord?”
Lord Ecnerwal began pacing. “That should be obvious, bung plunger! I will soon require my army. Stage two must begin immediately. Contact Captain Elbano. Inform him that the collection vessel must launch now!”
“Yes, my lord.”
“And monitor the signals from the infected bounty hunter closely. I need to know the status of the nano infestation and the instant the bastard regains sentience.”
Badoodoo bowed. “Of course, my lord.” He turned and with considerable relief scurried towards the exit.
Badoodoo stopped at the exit and turned to face his master. He knew what was coming next. He sighed. “Yes, my lord?”
Lord Ecnerwal yelled. “You are short and fat and you smell!”