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Book: Invasion of the Scab Demons
Chapter 25: Remarkably Tangy Mango Chutney

Wearing the very latest matt-black tech-loaded body armour, Peter the Ace left his lavish quarters and strode confidently down the Blenheim’s wide and luxurious deck-two passageway.  

At the far end of the passageway the doors of the lift slid silently open.  The ship’s assistant, Jemima Murma, stepped out, wearing nothing more than a light pink translucent flowery gown that glistened subtly in the ambient lighting.  The gown seemed to cling tightly to her body.  Her black hair was tied up in a bun on top of her head. 

A usual the assistant gasped as she saw her master, and then bowed sweetly.  “I was just coming to clean up for you.”

Peter the Ace grinned.  “Excellent!  That was a fine dinner, especially the speckled craphobian gill-flap stew.  Truly delectable!”

“You flatter me.”

“It’s my true opinion - nothing more, nothing less.”  The bounty hunter said seriously.  “It’s about time you started to accept high compliments.  You consistently deserve them.”

Jemima Murma bowed once more.  “Of course.”

The bounty hunter looked down at the assistant’s body.  “And I must compliment you again.  Your choice of garments never fails to impress me - your often bizarre levels of style and imagination are quite astonishing at times.  And now is definitely one of those times.  You look positively wet underneath that almost transparent gown!”

“Thank you.”  She said breathlessly.  “This is the actually latest fashion in the upper-class enclaves of Nemia and Gigneei.  It’s an oilent cling-gown.  The oily substance that oozes from the inner surface ensures the gown hugs the skin.  It’s very sensual.”

Peter the Ace nodded.  “Indeed it is!  I wish I could spend more time admiring it, but I have pressing business to attend to.  I’ll be on the bridge.  When you’ve finished in my quarters please bring a steaming mug of Earl Grey and some of your remarkably tangy mango chutney up there.”

The Blenheim’s assistant nodded happily.  “Lucky!  I just made a fresh batch!”  She skipped away.

Peter the Ace stepped into the lift and turned, just in time to see Jemima Murma disappear into his quarters before the lift’s doors closed.  “Bridge.”  He said, smiling as the image of the assistant’s oiled buttocks lingered in his mind.  Her toned and tanned physique, her ever-changing wardrobe and her culinary abilities had been a tremendous asset to the Blenheim.  His decision to appoint her as an assistant on what is the greatest bounty hunter vessel of all time had indeed been a deeply sagacious one.

After a couple of seconds the lift door opened.  Peter the Ace stepped out and turned right, and then strode fearlessly onto the dimly lit bridge.

Justin was sitting on his reinforced bench at the back of the bridge, his polished surfaces reflecting distortions of the glowing instrumentation all around.  A long cable stretched from his forehead to the main control console at the front.

Peter the Ace approached the cyborg.  “Update.”

Justin spoke, his voice metallic, flat and lifeless.  “We are in transit to the Palace of Amino at maximum subspace velocity.  Arrival is expected in twelve hours and seven minutes.”

“Excellent.”  The bounty hunter said.  “And the asteroid?  Are we tracking it?”

“There is a 99.83 percent chance that we are tracking the asteroid – formally known as the moon of Tolaso.”

Peter the Ace frowned.  “Either we’re tracking it or we aren’t.  Which is it?”

“The asteroid is enveloped in an unidentifiable dispersal field.  It is impossible to confirm that the object we are tracking is the same one that I observed entering subspace eleven minutes before I rendezvoused with you.  The likelihood of another object on a direct course to the Palace of Amino from our previous location is highly unlikely and therefore…”

“Fine, I get it.  Continue with your update.”

 “The asteroid is three light-years ahead.  It is on course for the Palace of Amino.  It will arrive in eleven hours and fifty-one minutes.”

Peter the Ace yanked the cable from Justin’s forehead.  The cyborg shuddered briefly.  The bounty hunter let go and the cable retracted into the console.  “Good of you to look after things.  You can resume your normal duties now.”

The cyborg’s servos whirred as he stood.  His clear-domed metal head turned slowly.  “My abilities would be better utilised if I remained…”

Peter the Ace frowned.  “Resume you normal duties.  If I need you for anything else I’ll call for you.”

Justin clanked towards the exit.  “I obey.”  He left the bridge.

The bounty hunter walked to the front of the bridge and sat down in his sumptuous command chair.  He looked at the main view-screen, which was showing the view of subspace ahead.  For a few seconds he contemplated his remarkable life, and reminisced about past glories.  And then he spoke to the ship.  “Blenheim, open a focused scrambled encrypted narrow beam channel to Amino Battle Command for the attention of Commander Pepe.”

“CHANNEL OPENED.”

A window opened on the main view-screen.  After briefly displaying the Palace of Amino Battle Command insignia the image changed to an extreme close up of a one of the chubbiest and most chocolate-coated faces in the galaxy.  “Peter the Ace!  I was going to call you shortly.  Thanks for saving me the effort.”

“You’re welcome.”  The bounty hunter said.  He found the closeness of the commander’s face mildly uncomfortable.  He quashed his desire to move away from the screen.  “Could you zoom out a bit?  I find the size of your face quite disturbing.”

Commander Pepe shook his head.  “Unfortunately you caught me in an uncompromising position.  If you could see more of me you’d be sickened.

Peter the Ace nodded.  “I understand.  The stress of the current situation must be tremendous for you.”  He smiled.  “I guess you feel compelled to try some rather extreme treatments!”

Indeed.”  The commander said, nodding.  “And some rather invasive ones, too.  CurrentlyI have three lubricated latex…

“Such details are unnecessary and undesired, commander.  Let’s concentrate on the situation at hand shall we?  I am sending you details of our recent scans.”

Commander Pepe looked down.  “Just receiving them now.  Hmm…  Yes, our scans match yours.  General Talwartz recently informed me that her department was tracking an incoming object.  It does not seem to be anywhere near the size of the asteroid you claim is on its way, though.

“It is shrouded in a dispersal field which is fooling your long-range sensors.  Believe me, commander, the former moon of Tolaso is on an intercept course with Enchantia and the Palace of Amino.”

The commander nodded solemnly, his humongous amounts of facial flab wobbling and undulating as he did so.  “I believe you.  Your colossal status and flawless reputation means that I have no choice.

“How are your defensive plans going?”

The commander looked down once again.  “Almost 300 bounty hunters have returned to the palace after our emergency recall.  Another hundred or so will return before the asteroid arrives.  Combined with those already here we’ll have a force of over 2,000 bounty hunters, and a fleet of 1,700 ships.  A formidable force, I think!

“Indeed.  Will the Slaying Mantis be among them?”

It would be highly desirable, but I’m not hopeful.  Admiral Phutphungus has taken that ship on a deeply covert mission to the Skuungfuusta Dark Zone.  It is a deeply sensitive and paranoid region so a total communications lockdown has been necessary.  So far that ship has not responded to our hails.

“Understandable.  Antagonising the Skuungfuustan Empire would not be wise, even for the Palace of Amino’s battleship.”

Commander Pepe nodded.  “We must assume that the Slaying Mantis will not be with us.  What we need are more details on the attack plan of Lawrence.

“It is clear that he intends to invade.  That’s the only reason he would want to create such a huge and disgusting army.  Hopefully Panman is doing all he can onboard the asteroid to disrupt things.  Have you managed to deal with Sadie Stick?”

“Apparently she has taken refuge down in the under-class caverns.  Ross Mental is leading the operation to find her.  Just before you called I received a report of a significant detonation down there.  That will help us identify which under-class community she’s gone to.

“You must seal all possible exits.  Sadie Stick must be contained.”

Indeed, and we have all but done that.  Now the only operational exit is that used by Jess Debinitraff, our administrator of the under-class.  Security at that exit is being reinforced.  Ah… I’m receiving more information…”

Jemima Murma entered the bridge still wearing her oilent cling-gown.  She placed a steaming mug of Earl Grey tea and a bowl of mango chutney next to Peter the Ace.  Obviously realising that serious business was being discussed she said nothing and walked away.

Commander Pepe spoke.  “It appears that the location of the explosion was in the central under-class cavern right next to Jess Debinitraff’s tower.

Peter the Ace sipped at his tea.  “It seems that Sadie Stick is trying to get back to the surface.  Ross Mental should be informed immediately, and the other bounty hunters already in the caverns should head for the site of the explosion.”

The commanded nodded.  His chins bobbed like a water bed.  “My thoughts exactly.”  He said as he tapped on his unseen device.  He looked up.  “Done.

“Good.”  Peter the Ace said.  He spoke solemnly.  “Sadie Stick is remarkably toned and curvaceous, and in possession of one of the most alluring female bodies at the palace.  You must not let that fact get in the way of what may have to be done, commander.”

The commander nodded.  “You are wise, as always.  Ross Mental has said something similar, although not as eloquently!”  His voice suddenly rose in pitch and his eyes widened.  In the background a sweet voice giggled.  The commander spoke quickly.  “Sadie Stick will be contained, and destroyed if necessary.

Peter the ace grinned.  “Excellent.  I can tell that your relaxation treatment has recommenced.  I’ll leave you to it.”

The commander groaned and then sank off the bottom of the screen. The image faded.

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