Commander Pepe stood, naked and proud, at the edge of the oval mud bath as Janta and Hazel hosed down his morbidly obese body. After decades of practice the two females were highly skilled at forcing out mud, sweat and mould from even the deepest of the commander’s gut-folds. And the strong cocktail of drugs that infused their bodies ensured that they did their work with a smile and a giggle, and without even the slightest hint of disgust or nausea.
Squatting down, the two females began to clean under the commander’s massively sagging overhang and buttocks. The commander grinned. This was always his favourite part of the hose-down, and indeed one of his favourite treatments of all.
Janta and Hazel turned off their hoses. Two more females emerged from the clouds of steam at the far end of the massage chamber, a huge white towel spread between them. They walked around Commander Pepe, wrapping him up in the towel’s thick and soft fabric.
Escorted by all four females, the commander made his way towards the slowly opening exit of his massage chamber. Steam billowed out as he stepped into the dry air of his office.
Goliath Snook was standing in front of his desk.
With a wave of his hands Commander Pepe dismissed the females. They bowed, giggling as they did so, and then stepped back into the massage chamber. The commander watched them for a moment. Despite having just finished an intensely satisfying session in the mud bath the sight of those four perfectly formed and perfectly toned buttocks disappearing into the steam made his groin ache. He sighed, and then turned to his chief officer. “Delightful specimens, aren’t they?”
Goliath nodded. “They are indeed, commander.”
Stepping over to his desk, Commander Pepe lowered his monstrous backside into his reinforced chair. “What has been happening since I’ve been in there, Goliath?”
As usual, the chief officer consulted his data pad. “As you know, the asteroid hit the surface of Enchantia three-point-three kilometres east of the palace’s perimeter wall.”
“Don’t tell me what I already know!”
Goliath nodded. “Sorry, commander. I just thought that a brief…”
“Get on with it!”
“Of course, commander. Unfortunately, as many of our ships and bounty hunters were entering the remains of the asteroid in search of Lawrence, Lawrence escaped in a large domed ship. The asteroid self-destructed.”
The commander felt a twinge of pain in his chest. His stomach tightened.
The chief officer continued. “Although an evacuation was underway we lost another seven ships and twelve bounty hunters.”
Commander Pepe shuddered. “Damn it!” He yelled, slamming both fists into his desk. He reached out and grabbed a cheese stick from the snack tray and dipped it into some melted butter. He crammed it into his mouth and shouted, launching a rain of soggy crumbs into the air. “How, in Garth’s passage, could you let Lawrence escape?!”
Goliath flicked away a couple of the crumbs that had stuck to his uniform. “My report is not yet finished, commander.”
“Then finish it!”
Goliath nodded. “Peter the Ace and Panman disabled Lawrence’s ship and prevented him from escaping. The domed ship has just been shepherded into a stable orbit by three-hundred bounty hunter ships. Those ships will guard the ship to ensure Lawrence cannot attempt an escape again.”
The commander was incensed. “Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?!”
“You asked me to tell you what had happened since you’d been in your massage chamber, commander. I was simply…”
The commander forced himself to calm down. He waved. “Yes yes! Get on with it.”
Goliath looked down at his data pad before continuing. “Several teams of bounty hunters will soon enter the domed ship to find Lawrence and detain him.”
Commander Pepe was becoming calmer. “Hmm… Good. It will be nice to have him locked up at last.”
“It will.” The chief officer said, nodding. “Peter the Ace has a theory as to where Lawrence was attempting to escape to. He believes he was heading for a rendezvous with the ship that collected the infected humanoids from the planet Lodi.”
The commander nodded. “A sagacious theory.” He looked seriously at the chief officer. “Any theory by Peter the Ace must be taken with the utmost seriousness and acted upon. Can I assume you have done so?”
“Yes commander. I instructed twenty-two bounty hunters who were in the process of returning to the palace to conduct searches for the vessel. Just a minute ago I received a message from Maximus Thorn and Water Lily, the two bounty hunters who investigated the Tolaso system several…”
“I know who they are. What was the message?”
“As soon as they received my order to look for the vessel they responded to say that they had detected something matching its profile on the edge of the Tiurl Expanse. They are heading back there and will intercept it in four hours. I’ve sent three other ships to assist them.”
Commander Pepe felt pleased. “Very good.” He looked thoughtfully at Goliath. “Considering you were promoted to Chief Officer without warning from a relatively low level, and during one of the most brutal attacks ever on the palace, you have, in general, performed your duties in a most remarkable manner. Well done, Goliath!”
The chief officer gave a shallow bow. “Thank you, commander.”
“I doubt you have yet had the time to enjoy the privileges that come with your rank – the plush Central Tower apartment, twice daily foot cleansing, and a regular supply of muffin baskets, to name but a few.”
The commander smiled. “You’re in for a real treat, especially as I failed to mention any of the more exotic and sensual privileges.”
“Such as what, commander?”
“I’ll let you discover those once you have the time to visit your new apartment!” The commander said with glee. He operated a control on his desk and then pushed down hard on the arms of his chair, hauling his massive sagging frame up to a standing position. Behind him the wood panelling on the wall had opened up. Steam billowed out of the massage chamber accompanied by two oiled and naked females. The commander grinned at them and then looked back at Goliath. “I have business to attend to. Keep me apprised of the situation.”
The chief officer nodded. “Of course, commander.”
Turning, Commander Pepe headed into the steam.