Angelina screamed, fell off the exercise cycle, and then crawled into a
corner. She cowered there and shivered, her beautiful brown eyes wide with
"Don't be afraid." Lex said to her in a soothing and professional
tone of voice. "We're not here to harm you. We're from 'Channel 180567
Carnage Tonight' news. We want to interview Mac Mytar."
The girl continued to quiver with fear. She stared at Antoine.
"You needn't worry about my colleague's disruptor." Lex continued.
"He'll only incinerate some of your body parts if you make any sudden
moves, and someone as well-toned as you will make him reluctant to do so
Angelina still cowered in the corner.
Antoine spoke. "I don't think what you're saying is helping."
"I'm trying my best." Lex replied. "I'm a journalist, not
A piercing voice echoed around the room. "Drop all weapons!"
Lex and Antoine turned around. Standing before them were two men of dreadful
appearance. One was dark skinned and wore a long dark robe. The other was
gaunt and pale, and wore a grey uniform with a large version of the Mac
Mytar Corporation logo on its front. Both wore boots that appeared to be
two or three sizes too big.
The gaunt man spoke. "I said drop all weapons!"
"You must be Malcolm the security dude." Lex said. "It's
a pleasure to meet you."
"Do as I say or die in torment very slowly over the next ten minutes!"
"That's not possible." Lex said. "In eight minutes this entire
complex is going to vaporise along with half the planet. Therefore I could
only die in torment slowly over the next eight minutes. Then I would die
"Shut up!" Malcolm screamed. He fired his pistol and the ground
just in front of the two journalists. The sumptuous carpet of the gym developed
a charred and smouldering hole.
"Do not agitate my security officer." The man in the black robe
said. "He is highly unpredictable."
"Hello Mac!" Lex said cheerfully. "Do you mind if we interview
"You have destroyed one of my mining stations in order to interview
me for you news programme. Is that correct?"
"Yes, that's right!"
"Your dedication to your job and determination to fulfil your assignments
is admirable, but you have irreparably damaged one of my multi-million credit
businesses. That is unforgivable."
Malcolm raised his pistol and aimed it at the journalist's face, ready to
carry out his superior’s wishes.
"We are from the Cavern of Sensationalism, 'Channel 180567 Carnage
Tonight' news. We can pay you millions of credits for an exclusive interview
about your gruesome and sordid life. The footage of your complex detonating
should bring in several hundred million credits from advertising fees alone.
Paying you would be no problem. who wants to own a mine anyway?"
Mac Mytar frowned. "I do." he said quietly.
"We'll buy you another mine then!"
"There is no time for this pointless conversation." Mac said.
"Unfortunately, your attack destroyed my extravagant cruiser and I
have no means of escape. You will, therefore, fly me to safety in your vessel."
"Yes, okay." Lex said. He smiled broadly.
A look of suspicion filled Mac Mytar's face. "Why did you not object
to my demand?"
"We only have six minutes left. I'll agree to virtually anything!"
"Then take us to your ship. Now."
Mac motioned towards the gym's exit.
Malcolm Gunk snivelled annoyingly. "Yes!" He said. "Take
us to your ship."
Lex Toxic and Antoine Venom did as they were told and headed back to the
Inquestor, closely followed by Mac Mytar, the pistol toting Malcolm Gunk,
and Angelina Bloom.
The journey back to the ship only took five minutes leaving them a whole
sixty seconds to get clear of the mining station. Lex and Antoine sat
in their command chairs, while Mac, Malcolm and Angelina sat on the guest
sofa at the back of the bridge. Malcolm was still snivelling and waving
his pistol erratically.
"Take us to safety." Mac ordered.
"Do it!" The security officer screamed.
Lex turned and looked at the three passengers. "Great idea."
He turned to Antoine. "How long until it blows?"
Antoine checked his data screens. "Forty two seconds."
Lex nodded and altered a few controls. The Inquestor's mighty engines
thundered to life sending vibrations of power coursing through the ship.
"Disengaging docking links." Antoine announced. A dull 'clunk'
was heard. "Thirty five seconds."
Lex watched his screens for an indication that is was safe to apply thrust.
After two seconds, the all clear message was given. The journalist engaged
the engines. All of the Inquestor's occupants felt their hearts, stomachs,
and entrails pushed hard into their backs as the powerful vessel accelerated
away from the station.
"Twenty two seconds!" Antoine said excitedly.
"Start recording, Antoine!" Lex said. He pulled the Inquestor
into a steep climb and rocketed up through the outer atmosphere.
Antoine pressed 'Record-Pause' and programmed the camera positioning system
for auto tracking. He activated the recorder. The main view screen filled
with the image of the mining complex floating serenely in the pastel orange
clouds of Bahl.
"We've travelled one hundred thousand kilometres," Lex said.
"Let's hope it's enough."
"Raising deflectors as a precaution." Antoine said with a serious
tone to his voice. "Three seconds."
An eerie silence expanded across the bridge, extending the perceived length
of those three seconds tremendously. All eyes were focused on the large
screen at the front of the bridge, the Inquestor's powerful zoom lens
providing a crystal clear, steady-as-a-rock image of the condemned station.
A brighter than white, whiter than light flash washed across the screen
causing everyone watching to instinctively blink. The ensuing destruction
was silent, completely muffled by the vacuous void of space.
The camera automatically zoomed back to reveal the orange disk of Bahl,
a giant world more than eighty thousand kilometres in diameter. Right
at its centre, expanding rapidly from its equatorial regions, was an intense
fireball of potent devastation. The atmosphere and its swirling clouds
was speedily being consumed by the spreading flames, already half the
disk had been burned away. The devastating blast of heat was extending
"We didn't achieve minimum safe distance!" Lex announced as
he consulted his screens. Alarms began to blare around the bridge. "Brace
for a most astounding impact!"
"Deflectors at maximum." Antoine said with true professionalism.
The fireball was almost upon them.
Malcolm got of the sofa. "You complete and utter morons!" He
yelled, waving his pistol in as many directions as he could find.
"Calm yourself, Malcolm." Mac Mytar said. "You are becoming
"They did this on purpose!"
Mac had no time to comment. The blast wave hit. A jolt to put all other
jolts to shame slammed into the Inquestor with outrageous force, sending
all loose items flying around the bridge. One of those loose items was
Malcolm Gunk. He immediately lost his footing and tumbled uncontrollably
to the floor, dropping the pistol and whacking his head onto the lowest
step leading up to Antoine's seat. Rich, oxygenated blood started to pump
rhythmically from a gaping wound to his head. Consciousness moved out
of his mind with great urgency.
Powerful tremors continued to pass through the Inquestor as the wash of
destruction passed by. The tremors began to reduce in strength.
To the apparent surprise of Mac and Angelina, Antoine leapt out of his
seat and dived across the floor, passing over the profusely bleeding security
officer. Within a split second, Antoine had grabbed the pistol and was
crouching against the side wall. He aimed the weapon at Mac Mytar.
"The tables have turned." He said. Inside he cringed at the
used of such a clichéd cliché.
Lex looked back at Mac and Angelina. "Ha harr!" He said happily.
"My plan worked!" He stood up out of his command chair, the
shuddering had almost disappeared as the blast wave passed by. "It
was my intention to get caught in the devastation all along. This ship
is strong enough to withstand more than a mere nuclear mega-detonation!"
"Very devious." Mac said calmly.
"And very shrewd."
"Thank you again."
"And also very cunning."
"Once more, I thank you."
"And definitely very foolish."
"Shut up Mac. Admit it. You're finished. We were going to interview
you here on the ship then dump you back on your station, but as it’s
been destroyed we’re going to take you back to the Cavern of Sensationalism,
interview you live in the studio, and not even pay you a single credit.
Ha ha harr!!!"
Mac stared at Lex, but said nothing.
Antoine stood up and waved the gun in the direction of the bridge's exit.
"Move out you two, please."
Mac Mytar and Angelina stood up and walked out. Antoine followed. Lex
grabbed the draining and limp body of Malcolm and dragged it away. All
ready, the ship's auto-clean systems were busily cleaning up the blood.
The bridge would soon be as clean as the day it was built. As clean as
it was three days ago, to be exact.
Mac and Angelina were strapped into straight jackets, gagged, and placed
inside one of the Inquestor's totally dark maximum security detention
cells for safe-keeping. Malcolm was treated in the ship's super-advanced
sick-bay and then bound tightly to an operating table. The heavy sedative
that had been injected into his face would keep him at his level of unconsciousness
for a very long time. He would provide no problem to anyone for weeks.
Everything was nicely, and literally, tied up.
Lex Toxic and Antoine Venom returned to the bridge and congratulated each
other on their major accomplishment. A course back to the Cavern of Sensationalism
was entered into the navigation system and Lex Toxic prepared to engage
the variance drive. If they hurried, they could make it back for the next
edition of 'Carnage Tonight'. Having Mac Mytar interviewed live in the
studio was so much better than interviewing him at his station or on the
ship. Awards and medals would fly their way!
"Let's head for home." Lex said, his finger hovering less than
three millimetres from 'Engage'.
"No!" Antoine shouted.
Lex withdrew his finger. "What's up?"
"The sensors have picked up a small device floating away from what's
left of Bahl!"
"Part of the station survived?"
"It looks like it."
"Surely that's impossible?"
"Obviously it isn't."
Lex stared at Antoine's screen. "Can you identify which part it is?"
"No. Not from this distance. You'll have to fly us closer."
The journalist thought for a moment. "Okay. But we only have a few
minutes to spare if we're to make it back in time."
"That should be fine."
Lex programmed in an intercept course with the unidentified object. The
Inquestor smoothly banked and turned tightly. It approached the device.
"Have you found out what it is?" Lex asked.
"Almost." Antoine answered. He continued to examine his screen.
He smiled broadly. "Yes!" He yelped.
"What is it?"
Antoine was highly excited. "It must have been a sixth generation
"What are you talking about?"
"Only the sixth generation models have a built-in auto-blast shield
Lex was getting impatient. "What is it?"
"It's the map of course, what else would it be?"
Lex could not understand how Antoine could get so excited about a piece
of equipment used for route planning and direction finding.
"Why would a map device have its own shielding system capable of
absorbing a fusion blast of such immense proportions?"
"Because it's such a cool device, that's why!" Antoine said,
shaking with joy. "We have to bring it on board!"
Reluctantly, Lex agreed. "Okay, but you have two minutes, no more."
Antoine nodded vigorously and set about his task. He worked quickly, taking
only one minute and fifteen seconds to capture the map device and draw
it in to the ship's lower cargo hold. As soon as it was done, Lex hit
The Inquestor's main engines burst to life and smoothly slipped the ship
into the trans-dimensional hyper zones of sub-space.