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Book: Toxic Venom
Chapter 4: Eyes

With the elegance and grace of a gargantuan Tor'Goq blood vulture, the Inquestor flew fast and low over the southern ice flows of Fre-Tzar, the base planet for the Cavern of Sensationalism.

"Cavern of Sensationalism flight control," Lex said into the communicator. "This is the Inquestor. We require permission to land immediately!"

There was a moments pause.

"This is flight control officer Tulip Sequin. Your identification code checks out. Proceed on flight path three, approach vector eight."

The Inquestor barrel rolled to the right and descended towards a rock face on the shore of a long frozen lake. The rock face was no ordinary rock face. It was a false rock face. And a holographic rock face at that!

Effortlessly, the ship passed through the image and entered a deep expansive cavern of mammoth proportions. Below, freeways, and buildings littered the giant cave's floor for several kilometres. Tall buildings, some more than a kilometre in height, created a stunning skyline of glass and steel. This was the secret place where the galaxy's premier news channel, 'Channel 180567', was broadcast from, and its flagship programme 'Carnage Tonight' was due on the air in less than ten minutes.

Lex and Antoine were determined to get there in time. The journalists had called ahead to inform the show's production staff that they were bringing in Mac Mytar for a live interview. The production staff went frantic with excitement when they heard. Because of Mac's fantastically high level of importance to the media world, the Inquestor had been given special permission to land on the roof top pad of the show's three hundred storey control building, a place normally reserved for the programme director's private collection of luxury sky-cars.

With automated accuracy, the Inquestor touched down on the platform. The deafening roar of its engines faded to a whimper, and then disappeared completely. The exit ramp was lowered.

A team of heavily armoured security guards, brimming with muscles and weaponry, boarded the ship. Mac and Angelina were unceremoniously dragged down the ramp and into the upper echelons of the building. Lex and Antoine followed close behind feeling very proud of themselves.

Lex Toxic was carrying a small disk containing the video footage of their attack and entry into the mining station and, most important of all, the footage of the station's spectacular demise.

Antoine was dragging the salvaged map device with him. It was quite heavy, but Antoine was a regular steroid and gym user, so he was quite capable of lifting hefty machinery.

"Do you really need to bring that with you?" Lex asked.

"I'm going straight back to my apartment with it after the show." Antoine answered. "I intend to upgrade the contour vector simulator to grade four. Then, when I interface the device into the cavern's central information network, I can initiate a general data-packet collection sub-routine that will enable me to combine all of the knowledge of the cavern's other map devices into a massive and complex representation of our entire operation."

Lex looked at Antoine as if he were mad. "And what are you going to do when you've done that?"

"Sell it!"

"Who would want to buy it?"

"Lots of people."

"Such as?"

"The Cavern of Sensationalism has a huge population, some of whom are architects, planners, and map freaks. They'll buy it."

Antoine seemed a little crazy. Lex decided to change the subject. "Let's just get this show over with, then fame and fortune will leap in our direction and we can do whatever we want."

The two journalists entered the 'Carnage Tonight' studio.

"Lex Toxic! Antoine Venom!" A familiar voice shouted. It was Kent Diamond, the programme's presenter and also the boss of the whole show.

"How's it going, Mister Diamond?" Lex asked.

"Great! Just great! I see that you managed to get a phenomenal guest for the show."

"The one and only Mac Mytar!" Antoine said cheerfully as he rested his map device against a wall.

"And some video footage of his mining station reaching critical mass and destroying most of Bahl." Lex added with breathless excitement.

"Well done boys, it was certainly worth giving you that new ship of yours. Every news organisation within the core systems has been trying to get an interview with Mac for years, ever since he wiped out the entire population of the planet Doo-Med deep in the Languid sector."

"Yeah," Antoine said. "Mac was in the Doo-Med president's office trying to persuade him that three thousand Mac Mytar casinos were just what his planet needed. The deal was about to be signed when Mac took out and lit up a cigar in celebration."

"The president made the fatal mistake of asking Mac Mytar not to smoke." Lex added. "Mac hates being asked not to smoke."

A voice spoke over the studio's address system. "Mister Diamond to the set please. One minute to transmission."

"Gotta go, guys!" Kent said walking away. "Make sure that security on the set is tight will you. Mac's a deadly individual."

"Already sorted!" Lex said. He and Antoine watched as four of the security guards threw Mac onto a sofa on the set. He was still in his straight jacket but the gag had been removed. Angelina had been dumped off set in amongst several coils of cabling. The security guards took up positions behind the cameras and aimed their fusion rifles at Mac. If he made one violent move towards Kent Diamond, they would cook his entire being without hesitation.

"Five seconds, people." The programme's effeminate director said. He stared over to Lex and Antoine and scowled. He obviously didn't appreciate being ordered by Kent to move his sky-cars off the roof for two mere journalists, even if they did have the scoop of the century.

The programme's familiar and macabre opening music played, accompanied by visuals of several famous blood letting events around the galaxy.

This is Carnage Tonight with Kent Diamond...

Kent Diamond, the most famous and well paid news and current affairs presenter in the known systems spoke. "On 'Carnage Tonight', five thousand cabbage cultivators hack each others throats out on the farms of Chlora IV-Em. Nutritional experts claim that a dessert free diet is to blame. And why was the late Emperor Manahuntaheito's entire intestinal tract found wrapped around the nose cone of a stunt aircraft on Mu'Targ Minor? A full report at the end of the programme. But first, our main story."

Kent paused for breath.

"Mac Mytar, one of the most violent, vicious, and corrupt men to ever exist within our space-time continuum, is responsible for some of the most nefarious and cold-blooded entertainment and business ventures ever known. He's famous not only for his act of genocide on Doo-Med, but also for his chain of 'Cannibal' restaurants on Cahrv III, his top-rated 'Slash Your Relative's Chest Open' show on the D'Eth system's unrestricted television network, and the controversial introduction of mandatory public decapitation for parking offences on his home world of Vom I."

Like a true professional, Kent Diamond turned to face another camera.

"Exclusively on 'Carnage Tonight', here is Mac Mytar live in our studio!"

The camera panned to show the evil business man as he lay awkwardly on the sofa.

"Welcome to the programme, Mac."

Mac had a look of satanic rage on his face. "You have made a grave mistake."

"I don't think so Mac. You are strapped into a straight jacket and have four fusion rifles aimed at various parts of your body. You can cause me no harm. Please just answer the questions I have for you."

"You have made a grave mistake."

Kent ignored him. "In a moment, we are going to show video footage of the spectacular destruction of one of your mining complexes. Is it true that you were using that complex as a cover for a much more sinister purpose, that of illegal mutated mechanoid manufacture?"

Mac Mytar remained quiet, but something about him was changing. His eyes. They were glowing red.

Kent Diamond was, for the first time in his career, lost for words. Mac's skin on his face was peeling away, and the dark hair on his scalp was shedding rapidly. It was a really strange and disturbing sight.

Smothered with fear, Kent backed away and moved off the set. Mac Mytar's head was now made entirely of shiny metal, and his eyes were large orbs with red lights for pupils.

The four security guards primed their weapons and waited for the metal Mac to make his fateful move.

Lex Toxic and Antoine Venom couldn't believe what they saw. That wasn't Mac Mytar at all. It was a mechanoid duplicate, and a mighty fine duplicate at that!

"Go to commercials!" Kent shouted as he ran up to the two journalists. He was annoyed to say the least. "What the hell have you brought to my studio?" He yelled.

Lex immediately went on the defensive. "It looked like Mac Mytar to me."

"Why didn't you scan him to confirm he was a life-form?"

"We did, but his skin must be biological, not synthetic. He registered as life!"

The deafening blasts of fusion bursts echoed around the studio. The guards had started firing. The mechanoid Mac was engulfed in flames and parts of his armour plating showered around the room. The studio's personnel scattered in all directions screaming and yelling at the tops of their voices.

The metal Mac Mytar stood up and ripped the burning straight jacket from his body. It fell to the floor along with large lumps of charred flesh. The guards continued firing as Mac marched around the studio smashing and pulverising very expensive pieces of equipment.

"Someone stop it!" Kent shouted.

For the first time, no one obeyed him.

While still undergoing a serious attack by the guards, the mechanoid began to destroy the 'Carnage Tonight' set. wood, plastic, and large potted plants flew everywhere.

Kent turned to Lex and Antoine. "You two brought it here. You stop it now!"

Lex thought for a few nervous moments. "I can only think of one way, but you'd better evacuate the upper levels of this building first."

"whatever it is, do it!" Kent yelled. He turned and faced the collapsing studio. "Evacuate this level now!"

Lex and Antoine ran out into the corridor and headed for the roof.

"What about my map machine?" Antoine asked with concern.

"Forget about that stupid thing!" Lex said sternly. "The Inquestor is our only hope."

The two journalists ran into their ship. In less than thirty seconds, the mighty vessel was airborne.

Lex carefully guided the ship down to a hovering position close to the studio's window. Inside, the mechanoid could clearly be seen rampaging around the room. Everything was in chaos.

Antoine was at his weapons console. "I've armed and targeted a small, low-powered torpedo. That should do the trick."

"Fire at will!"

Antoine fired. A small orange oval object, glowing with energy, emerged from the front of the Inquestor and smashed into the building. The mechanoid spotted it and raised its hand in what looked like an attempt to catch it. The torpedo detonated. A flash of intense heat engulfed the metallic Mac, melting away his outer protective layers. Without that essential safeguard, the mechanoid blew apart in a most spectacular manner.

Unfortunately, so did the entire studio and the roof section of the building.

The Inquestor was showered in shards of molten glass and steel. The ship rocked under the impact. Dangerous amounts of burning debris was scattered throughout the streets hundreds of metres below.

Lex turned to Antoine and spoke with remarkable calm. "I thought you said that that torpedo was low powered?"

"It was," Antoine replied, "relative to the other ones."

"Of course." Lex said quietly.

The two journalists stared at the view screen image of the burning building. Their dreams of fame, fortune, movie deals, and small plastic figurines faded rapidly from their minds.

How could a day that started so well, end so badly?

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