Sadie Stick slashed once more, transforming the guard’s screams into a deep frothy gargle. He grabbed frantically at his gaping neck wound and dropped to his knees gasping and coughing. Blood sprayed from his mouth and poured rhythmically through his fingers. Reaching down the bounty hunter grabbed the guard by his hair and yanked his head back and down. There was a tearing and snapping sound. The guard fell back to the floor splashing into a pool of his own blood. He twitched once, and then was still.
Stepping over the two other bloodied and lifeless guards, Sadie Stick approached the wide desk at the far end of the room. “Resisting a bounty hunter is not wise.” She said as she scraped off some of the drying blood and flesh that clung to her body suit.
Administrator Jess Debinitraff was sitting at the desk, her thin and aged body draped in a thick grey robe. She was obviously terrified, but she remained defiant. She sat up straight, placed her bony hands on the desk and spoke, her voice trembling but firm. “Your method of entry and the cold murder of my staff are unacceptable actions!” She swallowed hard. “There is no reason at all for you to do that, no matter how critical you consider your business here to be!”
“Those who resist me die. Remember that.”
The administrator swallowed once again. Nervously she straightened her robes. “What is your business?”
“I simply wish to use your lift.”
“Your lift to the lower levels.” She pointed at a metal doorway at the side of the office. “It’s through there, I presume?”
Jess Debinitraff looked confused. “The lower levels? Why would you need to…”
With a lightening-fast swipe Sadie Stick lashed out.
The administrator yelped. A long gash had been opened up on the right side of her head, from her ear to her chin. Blood poured out. She cowered and yelled. “What is wrong with you?!”
Kegg, who had been lurking in a corner, spoke. “That’s the administrator! She must not be harmed!”
Sadie Stick glared at the head paddler and yelled. “I told you to remain silent!” She turned back to Jess Debinitraff. “Open the door to your lift. Now!”
The administrator’s desk chimed, and then a screen in its surface lit up.
The bounty spoke impatiently. “What is that?”
The administrator looked at the screen. “It’s a warning about you from Amino Battle Command.” She looked up. “They are aware of the explosion. They know you’re here. It seems you are a traitor.”
The bounty hunter reached forwards and grabbed the administrator. She pulled her up onto the desk and whispered. “Open the lift door, or die.”
There was another chiming sound, this time from the right. Sadie Stick looked over towards the lift doors. A screen next to the doors was now active.
Jess Debinitraff spoke, her voice shaking and weak but still filled with defiance. “Someone’s coming down. You might as well surrender.”
Without even looking Sadie Stick swiped hard, severing all the arteries and veins in the administrator’s neck.
The administrator gasped and sank back into her chair, clutching her neck. She coughed and gargled, spraying blood across her desk.
Kegg yelled. “No!” He ran towards Jess Debinitraff. “The administrator must live!”
Sadie Stick grabbed Kegg. “Do you wish to avoid the same fate?”
Kegg looked up at the bounty hunter. He nodded, tears welling in his eyes. “Yes, but…”
“Stay behind me and be quiet!” The bounty hunter said as she reached down and grabbed one of the dead guards’ energy weapons.
The screen next to the lift door displayed the lift’s progress. It would arrive in less than thirty seconds.
“You’re a lanky fucker, aren’t you?!”
THROB looked down at Ross Mental, his long cylindrical head cocked to one side against the lift’s ceiling. “The term ‘lanky’ is an inaccurate description of my physical properties. I am taller than most humanoids and my limbs are thinner than most humanoids in a relative sense, but the materials used in my construction and my tenth-generation sub-fusion power system, in conjunction with my twin ultra-core hyper-reactive intelligence centres, enables me to…”
“Shut the fuck up!” Ross Mental yelled. “You’re almost as bad as that fucker, Justin! Why do you metal fuckers insist on responding in such a fuckin’ annoying manner?”
“It is important to answer questions as completely as possible.”
“Not every fuckin’ question, it isn’t, especially rhetorical ones!”
THROB droned. “Although your question was intended to be rhetorical it contained an inaccuracy that required me to…”
“Fuckin’ shut up!”
THROB fell silent.
Ross Mental looked at the small display-screen on the wall of the lift. “Right, we’re almost there. Remember, as soon as we encounter Sadie Stick you must begin your negotiations with her and try to persuade her to surrender.”
“I am ready.”
“Good.” The bounty hunter said as he stroked the heavy energy rifle he was carrying. “And when that fails I’m ready to blow her fuckin’ guts open!”
THROB peered down at Ross Mental. “My negotiations may succeed.”
“Of course they fuckin’ won’t, they’re just a formality, and formalities are an unfortunate and fuckin’ annoying necessity for those on the side of truth and justice – even for fuck-off bounty hunters like me!”
The lift chimed and decelerated.
The bounty hunter stepped to one side. “Get ready.”
THROB took up a position in front of the doors. “I am in position.”
Ross Mental resisted the powerful urge to spurt profanities in response to the mechanoid’s statement of the obvious.
The lift stopped its descent and the doors slid open.
With a deafening crackle a burst of white energy slammed into THROB’s polished torso. The mechanoid rocked back slightly as his slender frame sparkled and absorbed the blast. He stood there, his tubular body smouldering.
A voice called out. “THROB? I’m sorry! I had no idea it would be you! Are you OK?”
The mechanoid responded. “There is external scarring to the outer coating of my quad-melded tritanium shielding. All of my systems are exhibiting nominal functioning.”
Ross Mental whispered. “Get the fuck out there and get on with it!”
THROB stepped forwards.
Sadie Stick spoke with affection. “I’ve missed you. Are you here to help me?”
The mechanoid spoke as he walked. “There is a nano-mechanism in your brain that is instructing you to commit acts of treason and murder. I am here to ask you to surrender and submit yourself to confinement and examination.”
The bounty hunter yelled. “I am not a traitor! I am doing what is right! I have never felt such conviction and certainty!”
“The nano-mechanism in your brain is responsible for the neural impulses that give you the feeling of conviction and certainty. You believe that you are right, yet you are not. You have committed acts of treason that have compromised the security of the Palace of Amino.”
Ross Mental continued to listen from the lift.
“No! You don’t understand! What I am doing is necessary for the protection of the palace! I must continue. You must help me!”
“I will not assist you.”
Sadie Stick shouted. “Then you are a traitor!”
“You must surrender and submit yourself to confinement and...”
A cacophony of crackles and several blinding flashes filled the room.
THROB shuddered as focused energy battered his body. He spoke loudly to be heard above the noise. “Cease your attack. You must surrender and submit yourself to…”
The mechanoid’s voice was drowned in the thud and crash of a particularly loud explosion.
THROB’s negotiations had come to an end, and so had Ross Mental’s patience. Yelling, the bounty hunter charged out of the lift into the smoke-filled office of Jess Debinitraff. “Surrender or die, you treacherous fuckin’ bitch!” Using the sight on his rifle he quickly found the shapely form of Sadie Stick through the thickening smoke. She was with a smaller fatter humanoid. He fired a warning shot at the wall above her. A large section of the wall detonated, spraying semi-molten debris across the room. She and her companion dropped to the floor. “Drop your weapon and fuckin’ surrender!”
Sadie Stick shouted. “What I am doing is necessary! Please believe me!”
THROB spoke. “You must surrender and submit yourself to confinement and examination.”
Through his rifle’s sight Ross Mental could see the mechanoid as he walked slowly towards Sadie Stick. He frowned. “Negotiations are over, you metal fucker! Get the fuck back!” He noticed the bloody and unconscious form of Jess Debinitraff at her desk. “Go and check on the administrator.”
THROB turned and headed towards Jess Debinitraff.
Ross Mental fired another warning shot; this time to Sadie Stick’s left. A gaping hole was blown through the wall, and hot debris ricocheted across the room once again. “Last chance, bitch!”
Through his rifle’s sight the foul-mouthed bounty hunter watched with a touch of shock as Sadie Stick rolled out of the hole in the wall dragging her fat little companion with her.
Baron Onslaught stood proudly, his massive frame wrapped tightly in a thick wine-red fur cloak which was secured by a heavy black leather belt around his waist. His large square belt buckle glinted in the sharp overhead lighting of the cavern.
The bounty hunter listened to his communicator.
“She jumped through the fuckin’ wall!”
The bounty hunter had watched as a shapely figure, accompanied by a shorter and rounder one, had fallen from the tower and into a pile of debris and corpses. “I saw her.”
“Then burn the fucker!”
“We shall endeavour to do so.” With a swift motion of his arm, Baron Onslaught signalled to the team of lesser bounty hunters at his side. They moved forwards, their rifles raised and ready.
In the distance Sadie Stick appeared from out of the pile of corpses and ran, dragging her podgy companion with her. Her companion was dragging one of his legs and was covered in blood. He had clearly been badly injured in the fall.
Baron Onslaught’s team opened fire. Several beams of energy lashed forwards, tearing into the ground and buildings ahead. Sadie stick vanished in a cloud of flames and smoke.
The team waited for a few seconds. The smoke began to clear.
Baron Onslaught nodded. “I do believe she’s been well and truly…”
A sweeping arc of blinding energy cut through the smoke and crackled through the air. The two leading bounty hunters, Vague Dog and Helga Rump, shuddered as their body armour melted. They doubled up and sank to the floor. Helga Rump’s mouth hung open and flames flickered out, licking at her rapidly cauterising lips.
Annoyed, Baron Onslaught shouted. “Kill that traitor, damn it!”
One of the other bounty hunters, Master Wan Kin, spoke. “She’s not in my sights. She’s fled into the town.”
Baron Onslaught raised his own rifle and looked through its sight. The scene beyond the smoke was revealed. Other than groups of wandering and bewildered under-class citizens, there was no sign of Sadie Stick. He grunted and activated his communicator. “She’s gone.”
Ross Mental’s response was totally predictable. “Fuck!”
“Sebastian Blood’s team is in the adjoining cavern. It looks like she’s heading that way. They should be able to intercept her.”
“They’d fuckin’ better! I’m coming down. Go after that fuckin’ bitch!”
“We’re in pursuit.” Baron Onslaught said. He waved the three remaining members of his team forwards.