Badoodoo winced and moaned once more as the final piece of shrapnel was pulled from his forehead. The white-suited medic who was treating him placed a small spherical device on the bleeding wound and quickly sealed it. Badoodoo’s eyes were watering. The medic stood, bowed, and then scurried away.
Lord Ecnerwal was standing nearby. He shouted. “You are a feeble worm, Badoodoo!” He raised his arms. “But look at me! I am the exact opposite of such a creature. I was attacked by one of the top bounty hunters ever to exist and my body has been lacerated and chunks of flesh ripped from my face, yet I continue to stand proudly and revel in my own glow of natural gloriousness!”
Badoodoo’s eyes had cleared. He looked up at his master’s face, now deeply disfigured, even more so than his scalp. It was a gruesome sight.
Lord Ecnerwal leaned closer. For a second his eyes darted around as they examined the assistant’s scarred face, and then he yelled. “You are a wretched knob of butter!” He threw back his hood and then arched his back whilst resting his bony hands on his hips. “I am incredible!”
For several seconds Lord Ecnerwal held that position, and then he slowly straightened up. He looked at Badoodoo and spoke calmly, smiling. “You agree with me, don’t you, Badoodoo?”
Badoodoo blinked slowly, bewildered by the shocking madness of his master. If he wanted to live he had no choice but to agree. He nodded. “Yes, my lord.”
Lord Ecnerwal sighed. “Look around at the devastation here, Badoodoo.” He pointed at the contorted mess at the centre of the chamber. Charred components and circuits jutted out from the ruptured control console, and most of the large screens on the wall opposite had been shattered by high-velocity debris. Two stumpy technicians were dousing the final small fires that remained. “Despite the fact that you are responsible for allowing the bounty hunter to perform such an act of destruction in my presence, my extraordinary compassion allows you to live. You are privileged beyond the dreams of the Intellectual Architects of the First Council of the Artisan Mind Practicum!”
Badoodoo had no idea what his master was talking about, but he agreed. “I am indeed, my lord. Thank you.”
Lord Ecnerwal glared at his assistant. “Now, I need you give me an update. I assume you have one?”
Badoodoo looked down at his damaged but still functional data pad. “I’m not sure. Since the explosion I haven’t really had a chance to collate a report for you. I had sixteen shards of metal embedded in my body which…”
A gloved fist, clenched and bony, slammed down onto Badoodoo’s head. He stumbled back.
Lord Ecnerwal snarled. “You still have your information streams, don’t you?”
Badoodoo struggled to clear his head as he looked down at his data pad. “Yes, my lord. I’m receiving them. But I usually spend an hour collating the information into a brief…”
“Update me now, pig fodder! Where is that bounty bastard?!”
Recovering quickly from the smack on his head, Badoodoo rapidly scanned the information he’d received. “Erm… From what I gather Panman has made his way close to the engine section, and down close to the scab demon’s disembarkation area. His exact position is not known, though.”
“He has been not been travelling through the normal passageways. I think he’s been using the ventilation system. There’s no surveillance there.”
Lord Ecnerwal glowered. “Why?!”
“Well, because it was not required in the design specification. In hindsight, perhaps that decision was…”
“My specification was perfect!!!”
Badoodoo took a step back, startled by the disturbed expression on his master’s face. He worked quickly to avoid another beating. “Of course, my lord. There is no question that your design of this astonishing vessel is beyond the ability or comprehension of even the most sagacious of beings. You are to be applauded constantly for your achievement.” He bowed.
Lord Ecnerwal took a sharp intake of breath and sniffled. “You have moved me, Badoodoo.” He said, blinking away the excess water in his eyes. “Your deep feelings of affection for me are obvious.”
“That is good to know, my lord. I…” He stopped as he noticed some new information on his data pad.
Lord Ecnerwal’s mood had changed yet again. “Finish your sentences, turd mugger!”
Badoodoo’s stomach tightened. It was bad news. “Erm… It looks like Panman has managed to disable the dispersal field.”
Lord Ecnerwal shuddered. “How!” He spun around, looking randomly in any direction. “The systems are secure!”
Badoodoo felt he had to continue. “And it appears that he managed to install a program in the subspace field control system.”
His master stopped looking around and focused on his assistant. He spoke in a piercing and feminine manner. “Oh no! What did it do?”
“It caused minor fluctuations in the subspace field around this vessel. The fluctuations were ordered. It looks like he embedded a message in them.”
Lord Ecnerwal placed his hands on the sides of his head and shuddered. “Why would he do such a thing? What possible reason could he have?”
“Well, the obvious reason would be to warn the Palace of Amino of our plans.”
Lord Ecnerwal screamed, his hands still clamped to his head. “Kill that bounty hunter now! Send 1,301 scab demons to hack out his throat and kidneys and ligaments and hair follicles!”
Badoodoo tapped frantically at his data pad. “Yes, my lord. The order is being transmitted now.” He looked up at his master. Lord Ecnerwal was grinning in a most unusual manner and slowly leaning backwards. The assistant felt a surge of fear spread over him. “My lord? Is something wrong?”
His master held his hands out to his sides. He looked up at the ceiling and spoke softly and deeply. “Our surprise attack and invasion is no longer a surprise, is it?”
Badoodoo shivered and tried to say something positive. “We will arrive in just over one hour. There is no time for the bounty hunters to arrange an adequate response, my lord. I don’t think you need to worry…”
The last thing Badoodoo noticed was the wide billowing of his master’s cloak, a high pitched fizz, and the briefest sparkle of white light.