Sitting silently in his cramped quarters on board the Retarded Monk Grinder, THROB the mechanoid had spent the last couple of hours processing all the evidence regarding the comet and Sadie Stick’s infection. With the ship safely parked and powered down in its hanger bay near the pinnacle of the Palace of Amino’s luxurious Vacuman Tower, the mechanoid had had the opportunity to harness all of the ship’s immense processing ability and combine it with his own. And he had done so without hesitation.
He had analysed micro scans of the comet’s ice and rock, and its molecular structure. He had processed multi-spectrum far-field sensor sweeps of the surrounding light-years. He had filtered and collated six generations of subspace disruption maps. And he had cross-referenced all pre and post process data with the unimaginably vast data store at the Palace of Amino.
And now the results were ready.
Immediately the mechanoid initiated a communications link with Amino Battle Command.
Commander Pepe wallowed dreamily in the mud, the folds of his hideously obese body hidden by the thick brown sludge. He breathed deeply, inhaling the soothing menthol vapours of the aromatic oils that flowed gently along a narrow canal around the bath’s rim.
He opened his eyes and peered up into the steamy dimly lit air. He smiled, bunching up his cheeks into concertina-like folds.
Standing over him and straddling the wide bath was Hazel Lazernipelz. Her eyes were glazed and her expression was a picture of drug-induced bliss and contentment. She was naked and oiled, and she was grinning lazily. She whispered. “Shall I begin?”
The commander’s gaze wandered over her toned physique. He felt an ache of longing and anticipation spread across his bulging body. He nodded.
With a barely perceptible squelch Hazel descended into the mud and disappeared.
The commander gasped as she slipped under his enormous overhang and began her work. His pleasure heightened. He groaned.
A bleeping sound emanated from a panel at the side of the bath.
Commander Pepe frowned deeply, and then answered. “What is it, Weezil?! I’m very busy!”
“Commander, I’ve been contacted by THROB, the mechanoid companion of Sadie Stick.”
“He has determined the originating system of the comets that contained the infection. I think you should see what he’s found.”
The commander grunted. “Yes yes! Of course I should! I’ll be right out.” He nudged Hazel with his hips.
Within seconds a mound of mud rose up before him. It slipped away to reveal the outline of Hazel Lazernipelz. She wiped the remaining mud from her face.
Commander Pepe sighed. “I must go. Open up the bath and fetch my towel.”
Hazel nodded and stepped out of the bath. She walked over to a control panel on the far side of the marble-tiled room, leaving a trail of steaming sludge, and pulled on a small lever. The sides of the commander’s bath descended sending thick mud oozing across the floor.
Three other girls rushed in and buried their arms in the commander’s deep folds of flab. They pulled, helping the sludge-caked tub of lard to his feet. Hazel brought over the commander’s tent-like white towel.
Once wrapped up the commander dismissed his masseurs and waddled towards the exit. The door whooshed open. He stepped out of his massage chamber and into coolness of his battle command office.
Chief Officer Weezil Sagifagpakit was standing in front of the commander’s desk. Displayed on the large screen opposite the commander could clearly see the almost featureless cylindrical head of THROB, and next to him a mass of information and diagrams.
Commander Pepe squeezed himself into his chair. Large squirts of mud were forced out of his towel, one of them with such force that it slapped hard into Weezil’s face. The commander shouted. “Clean yourself up!”
The chief officer nodded and produced a dainty handkerchief from his pocket. He wiped the mud from his face.
The commander looked at the array of snacks and drinks on his desk and licked his lips. He grabbed a spring roll, dipped it in a bowl of melted butter and then into a jug of single cream, and then crammed it hard into his mouth. The commander shouted, his voice muffled by the mass of food. “THROB! Present your findings. And do it quickly, I have important business to attend to.”
THROB spoke. “Yes, commander.” On the screen to the mechanoid’s right a map covering more than fifty light-years of space appeared. Trajectories were highlighted. “To identify the origin of the comets containing the infection the initial part of my investigation was to simply reverse the course of the comets to determine their likely origin according to their velocity and mass, whilst factoring in the gravitational effects of all celestial bodies that the comets would have encountered during…”
Commander Pepe swallowed hard and shouted, his colossal gut undulating under his towel as he did so. “Just tell me the point of origin!”
THROB gave a single nod and continued. “The initial part of my investigation concluded a 90 percent probability that all of the comets containing the infection originated in the Heis system.”
“Never heard of it!”
“The Heis system is a dwarf star system at the centre of the H’jos sector.”
“Ah, yes, I know that sector. It’s totally uninhabited, is it not?”
“You are correct, commander. There are no life-bearing planets or artificial facilities in that sector.”
The commander nodded and became thoughtful. “Yet the comets and their infectious contents originated there…” He looked up at his chief officer. “Weezil, dispatch the nearest bounty hunter too…”
THROB interrupted the commander. “The conclusion of the initial part of my investigation was incorrect.”
Commander Pepe glared at the mechanoid. “Then why did you waste minutes of my time telling it to me?!”
“I was explaining the background to the next part of my…”
“Now you’re wasting even more time! Just tell me the real origin of the comets!” He grabbed the jug of single cream and took a deep swig to calm himself down.
THROB nodded once and then continued. “When my parallel analysis of the multi-spectrum far-field sensor reading was correlated with the subspace disruption maps, I discovered a large residual subspace emergence disturbance and an expanding debris field 4.6 billion kilometres back along the trajectory of…”
Commander Pepe fumed. “Get to the point!” His body wobbled like a thuggoth’s backside, and then his towel slipped open revealing the largest set of mud-smeared man-breasts ever seen. The commander made no attempt to cover them up.
The mechanoid got closer to the point. The information on the screen changed to a set of detailed diagrams. “The comets were transported through subspace in tritanium shells, which were destroyed during the comet’s re-entry into normal space. Such destruction is highly likely to be intentional.”
The commander screamed; his voice had become hoarse. “The point!”
“After calculating the mass, velocity and energy requirements to transfer the comets through subspace, and the maximum distance that the tritanium shells could travel, my final calculations concluded that the true origin of the comets is the Oaso system, on the leading edge of the Nemadal Expanse.”
Commander Pepe sighed. “Finally!” He said. He took another swig of cream. “Is there an inhabited planet in that system?”
“The only life-bearing planet in the Oaso system is Tolaso. It suffered a catastrophic extinction event two million years ago. Currently the highest level life form is a giant crustacean. Prior to the extinction event the planet is thought to have had a large population of giant lizards, the largest of which are referred to as egralons…”
“Enough waffle!” The commander yelled. He turned to his chief officer. “This must be investigated.”
Weezil nodded. “Of course, commander. I took the liberty of checking to see if any bounty hunters were currently on missions in that area. Very little happens in that region. For a hundred light years in all directions from the Oaso system the highest level of civilization is nothing more than a basic agrarian …”
Commander Pepe’s patience was reaching breaking point. “Is no one able to get straight to the point today?!!!”
The chief officer apologised. “I’m sorry, commander.” He looked down at his data-pad. “Both Maximus Thorn and Water Lily will pass through that region on their way back from Otomiro Nebula within the next couple of hours. I’ll send them to investigate.”
“Good. Make sure these findings are sent to Peter the Ace and Panman, and also to all other bounty hunters involved.” The commander said, struggling out of his chair. His sludge-soaked towel fell to the floor. He looked at the screen. “Thank you, THROB.”
“I also have information regarding the infection. It is a modification of a…”
““Don’t concern me with that!” Commander Pepe blurted. Ignoring the fact that the huge and repugnant mass of his revoltingly flabby body was exposed for all to see, the commander turned. “Send that information out with the other information. It is relevant only to bounty hunters in the field.”
With the mud already drying into a crust over his folds of flesh, Commander Pepe disappeared into the billowing steam of his massage chamber.