The scream of his master’s voice made Badoodoo shudder. With a shuffle he made his way quickly across the vast chamber’s smooth stone floor and over to the huge window where Lord Ecnerwal was once again standing.
Lord Ecnerwal pointed. “Look, Badoodoo!”
Badoodoo did as his master commanded and looked. Swinging and leaping across the treetops of the domed jungle amongst the chomping heads of the massive egralons were hundreds of slim and hairy primates. They had baskets strapped to their backs.
“The tipmra males gather and gather at my bidding!” Lord Ecnerwal said excitedly. “They bring the goodness of fruit to fuel the minds and loins of all who serve me!”
Badoodoo nodded. “I know, my lord. They do that almost every day.” He stumbled backwards as his master’s bony elbow slammed into the centre of his chest.
Lord Ecnerwal turned and removed his hood. He looked at Badoodoo and frowned, the deep lines on his face appeared to deepen even more. “Do not tell me that which I already know!” He rasped. After a moment his expression changed and became more thoughtful. “Of all the humanoids I have encountered, you are one of the most pathetic and most spherical. Did you know that, Badoodoo?”
Badoodoo signed and then nodded. “You remind me of that fact every day, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal slapped him hard across his face. “Because I have to, you noxious tongue mouthful!”
Badoodoo recoiled for a second and rubbed his reddening cheek. “Yes, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal clapped several times. A narrow spotlight beam from high up on the ceiling illuminated the edge of the oval control console at the centre of the chamber where a large bowl of glistening fruit lay. He pointed. “The first tipmra delivery arrived just an hour ago. Help yourself to fruit that will enliven your innards and send pulses of goodness to all your interesting parts! And then tell me the good news that you have for me.”
Badoodoo headed for the bowl and grabbed a large piece of something yellow. He bit down hard. Sweet tangy juice dribbled down his chin and neck.
Lord Ecnerwal folded his arms. The long elaborate fabric of his robes’ sleeves stretched almost to the floor. “Well?”
Badoodoo swallowed hard. “I have tremendous news, my lord. Just give me a moment to…”
Lord Ecnerwal stepped forwards and yelled. “Are your innards enlived?! Are pulses of goodness reaching your interesting parts?!”
“Erm… Yes.” Badoodoo said, nodding with false assurance. He struggled to cover up his alarm and shock at his master’s increasingly unstable behaviour. “Yes they are, my lord.”
His master laughed and arched his back. “Am I not greater that the sum of the parts of myself and even the sum of the parts of others who are themselves greater that the sum of their own parts and others?!”
Badoodoo stared at his master for a second. “Yes you are, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal sighed and then smiled. “You are my most trusted aid, Badoodoo. Thank you.”
“I am here to serve you and only you, my lord.”
“Flower-shaped foot blemish!”
A gloved fist landed hard and fast on top of Badoodoo’s bald head. Momentarily stunned, he sank to the floor.
Lord Ecnerwal shrieked. “Again you tell me that which I already know!” He leaned over and whispered with menace. “Let that be the last time.”
Badoodoo nodded and struggled to his feet. “Yes, my lord.”
“Now tell me something good!”
Badoodoo nodded and then stepped over to the console. He operated a few controls and the oval view-screen above the console glimmered to life. The image of a female humanoid, voluptuously shapely and toned, filled the screen. “The infected bounty hunter has now been identified. She is Sadie Stick, a fourth-class bounty hunter.”
Lord Ecnerwal clapped once and then raised his arms. “Ah yes! I have heard of her!” After holding that pose for a second he lowered his arms. “Continue.”
“She is now fully conscious. The nano infestation of her brain has integrated successfully.”
“Is she receptive?”
“Totally, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal spun around twice on the spot spreading his robes into a billowing cone. He extended his arms and moaned. “Oh yes!” For a few seconds his breathing became deep and noisy, and then he turned to Badoodoo and frowned. “Keep talking, wart bandit!”
Badoodoo manipulated some controls. The image on the view-screen changed to a map of a galactic region. “The bounty hunter’s ship has entered subspace.”
Lord Ecnerwal clasped his hands together. “Ha harr! She is returning to the Palace of Amino!”
“That is not certain, my lord. We will have to wait a while longer to determine if…”
The force of the kick sent Badoodoo slamming backwards onto the floor.
Lord Ecnerwal stood over him. He scowled. “You daft anal fringe! The Palace of Amino is the only logical destination for an infected bounty hunter to go to. Is that not so?!”
Badoodoo groaned. “It is, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal took a couple of steps back. “Excellent. Continue, but stay on the floor. I may need to kick you.”
Badoodoo remained on his back and spoke. “Just one more thing, my lord. Comet Wart Udder Limp Fumble has been destroyed.”
A heavy metal toe-capped boot slammed into the side of Badoodoo’s chest. He gasped, winded.
Lord Ecnerwal seemed distraught for a moment. “Oh, my precious iceball! It was so precious. So very precious. And beautiful, too.”
Badoodoo wheezed. “Its destruction was expected, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal smiled, his mood suddenly and disturbingly light. “Of course it was. Now get out. Return when you have more good news.”
Badoodoo struggled to his feet. He bowed and then scurried unevenly towards the exit, the stabbing pain in his rib cage causing him to wince with every step. He managed to pass through the arched exit and onto the bridge before he heard his master’s voice again.
Sighing, Badoodoo turned to face his master. “Yes, my lord?”
Lord Ecnerwal clenched his fists and shouted, his whole body shaking visibly. “Your face is identical to your bottom!”