The news was not good. Not good at all.
With his nerves jangling and a bead of sweat hanging from the end of his nose, Badoodoo entered his master’s chamber. He clutched tightly onto his bulky data-pad and looked around. It was quiet and still, the only light coming from the jungle beyond the huge panoramic window at the far side. It was raining heavily.
An arched doorway on the side of the chamber slid smoothly open revealing a deep orange glow. It was the entrance to his master’s bed chamber.
A high voice called out. “Come to me, Badoodoo.”
Badoodoo could not help shuddering as he peered into the doorway. His master was lying spread-eagled on his wide oval purple bed at the centre of the round chamber. Large orange globes on either side of the bed glowed brightly. Fortunately his master was still robed, although his feet were bare.
Lord Ecnerwal raised his head and looked intently at his subordinate. “You look ill at ease, Badoodoo. Are you stressed from a lack of intimate pleasure?”
Badoodoo frowned, surprised and a little annoyed at the question. “Erm… Well, I…”
His master sat up. “I understand. You are ugly and you smell. It’s natural for females to reject you and even to vomit in your face.” He pulled back his hood and sighed. “It happens to you a lot, doesn’t it?”
Badoodoo shook his head. “Actually, no. Only recently I…”
Lord Ecnerwal screamed. “Do not lie to me, gut chunk!”
“I’m not, my lord. I…”
“Accept that you are a disgusting sack of contaminated padding!”
Badoodoo knew when it was better to give in. He sighed and then bowed. “I accept, my lord.”
“And accept that you are undesired, even by the most urine-saturated females ever known!”
“Again I accept, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal grinned. “Excellent. You are wise to accept your astonishing physical failings. No amount of surgery or medication, or even perfume could make you a desirable mate.”
Badoodoo knew better than to disagree. “Yes, my lord.” He looked down at his data-pad. “I really must update you on…”
Lord Ecnerwal interrupted; his expression thoughtful. “To compensate for your dreadful unattractiveness you must dedicate yourself to me, even more so than you do now.” He paused and breathed deeply. “Yes, you must become part of me; an extension of my very self!” He raised his arms, the giant sleeves of his robes rustling as they swept over the luxurious satin sheets of the bed. “You will be like a sentient tumor deep within the bowels of my bowels, motivated by the fragrant variety of defecation that passes by. And you will thrive on the varying degrees of pressure placed upon you as daily bouts of constipation attempt to crush the life out of you!”
Badoodoo struggled not to grimace, and he struggled even more to understand the bizarre metaphors that his master had conjured up. He forced a smile. “It will be an honour, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal laughed and raised his arms. “It will! Oh, it will!” He sighed. “Ah!” Suddenly, and in his typical style, his mood changed. He frowned. “Why are you here?”
Badoodoo swallowed. “I have an urgent update for you, my lord.”
“Excellent. Give it to me.”
“We have just received a signal from Sadie Stick. The Palace of Amino has been put on a state of alert and she has had to leave Battle Command.”
A heel, hard and bony, smacked into Badoodoo’s face. He fell back, slamming into the thickly carpeted floor. He groaned.
Lord Ecnerwal stood on the bed. “Why?!”
Badoodoo spat blood and then clambered to his feet. “I don’t know for sure, my lord. It is likely that either the bounty hunter’s nano-infestation or its signal has been detected.”
Lord Ecnerwal gripped the sides of his head. A look of deranged despair filled his face. “The signal is virtually undetectable!” He shuddered. “I must succeed! What can we do? Is it too late?” He stared at Badoodoo, his eyes glistening with desperation. “I’ve laboured for decades to fuse my staggering concepts into strategies of faultlessness, and to project those strategies onto actualities of physical manifestations!” He leapt off the bed and grabbed Badoodoo’s throat. “Is it too late? Tell me!”
Badoodoo shook his head. He struggled to speak as his master’s tight grip restricted his air supply. “Sadie Stick managed to activate the programs she had embedded in the palace’s defence systems, my lord. It is premature, but we can still execute your plan. We will need to wait until…”
Lord Ecnerwal grinned and released his grip. “Indeed! Do it now!”
Badoodoo shook his head. “We need to allow the command crew to recover from their revival. Coming out of deep hibernation requires a lot of physiotherapy and they will be drowsy and sluggish. We must…”
“Nonsense! Do it now!”
“But, my lord, there is…”
Lord Ecnerwal kicked Badoodoo hard between his legs.
Badoodoo yelped as a flood of intense pain flashed across his body. An incredible ache grew within his centre. He gasped, and then moaned quietly. “Of course, my lord.”
“Wonderful! We leave within the hour! Contact everyone relevant and tell them that we are departing early.” He raised his arms and screamed. “I am extraordinary!”
Before Badoodoo could turn he noticed his master’s expression change to a clown-like grin. After a moment of awkward silence he asked slowly. “Is there something else, my lord?”
Lord Ecnerwal nodded and maintained his grin. His voice was now soft and gentle. “You are an armpit.”
“Thank you, my lord.”