Chapter 11: Dark Side of the Moon
“I was not expecting that. That was seriously twisted!” The bartender poured a round of shots and the three prepared to drink. As they raised the glasses to their lips, the lights flickered and a ninja appeared, drinking out of the vampire’s shot glass with a striped swirly straw. The lights flickered again and the ninja was gone, along with the alcohol in the glasses, the bow that was in Ryssa’s hair, and a bottle of ketchup that was sitting on the counter.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” the vampire screamed as he desperately licked the empty glass. The lights flickered a third time and the glass disappeared, replaced by a large onion with a permanent marker sketch of a cartoonish angry face.
“I’m allergic to GARLIC, you jackasses!” The vampire screamed, searching the room for the scoundrels.
Ninjas from the legendary Troll Clan had recently started operating in the area, setting up an invisible dojo somewhere between the 10th and 11th floor of a local office building for a guillotine and french cuisine company. If you had enemies who you hated, but you believed hiring assassins was unethical, you could hire the Troll Clan to relentlessly bother your target in a passive-aggressive manner for a set period of time.
“I see you!” The vampire bluffed, glaring across the bar.
“Dammit!” A ninja disguised as a chair, a ninja disguised as a lamp, two ninjas disguised as coat racks, and at least seven disguised as decorative sphinxes abandoned their hiding spots, scurried around the room frantically and then vanished out through the windows.
“So what happened next? Did the Bacon Strip kill the dragon?”
“All I’ll say is that he did try.”
“Khvarikx, you die tonight!”
Sir Bacon Strip walked through the barrier, drawing his deceased sword, Atialysis, for the last time. His foe was a mighty and ruthless dragon, but it was badly injured from the constant summoning of minions. The wounds had all healed, leaving grotesque scars and patches where scales could no longer grow back. Of course, the most notable disfigurement was the mangled stub where the left wing should be.
“So you’re the breakfast that has been causing me all this trouble?” the dragon inquired rhetorically (theoretically).
“For once, I am not sure if I can win this fight,” the dragon commented flatly. Bacon was unsure if Khvarikx was being sarcastic and it disturbed him greatly.
“I have a question for you, Khvarikx Hvitr. By what foul curse did you bind yourself into such an impractical form?”
The dragon slowly circled around the bacon strip in a wide spiral path, taking deliberate, calculated steps.
“I did the hokey-pokey and ripped the tag off an enchanted mattress in front of a mirror.”
The dragon growled in annoyance, “Don’t play games with me, lunchmeat.” He tightened his circular pattern, drawing closer to the bacon strip. “Am I going to have to smack the dick out of your mouth?” A boiling hiss rose from his throat.
Bacon flipped to the right as a jet of pitch-black flame erupted from the dragon’s mouth and scorched the earth. It was so dark it seemed to suck the very light out of the world around it.
“Ha! Dumbass! I’m a breakfast food, not a luncheon snack.”
“You’re the idiot! I eat bacon all day! I put bacon on sandwiches, tortilla wraps, salads, sundae ice cream, I don’t even give a *fireball*! Everything!” The dragon roared angrily.
“I’m so hungry right now, I could eat all of those at the same time!” He swung his claws pouncing, narrowly missing Bacon as he jumped out of reach. “I’m going to clone you a thousand times and then a thousand more until I have enough of you to make BLT sandwiches for the rest of my life!” Khvarikx cornered Bacon against the walls of the barrier. “I’m going to grind you to pieces and then snort you like a line of crushed unicorn horns!” Bacon zipped up and slashed at the dragon’s neck, but Khvarikx easily batted him away, bouncing him off the barrier in a flash of sparks and searing pain.
Khvarikx turned to face the bacon strip with a toothy grin. “Did I forget to mention that this is a trap? My bad.”
Bacon shook his head. He had come too far to let his younger self beat him again. After so many empty years, he had finally discovered the value of friendship with Arukoru and Atialysis only to lose them because of this evil emperor. He had killed thousand of dragons as both a dragon lord and a humble bacon strip. There was no way he could fail now. He took a deep breath and charged, his sword held back, ready to behead his enemy.
Khvarikx swung his right hand down and across, attempting to catch the Bacon strip and grind him to dust on the stone floor. Bacon spun and swung up, slicing off the dragon’s fingers and most of his hand. Khvarikx’s eyes widened with shock and he desparately swung with the other hand. Too fast, bacon plunged the sword into the tendons under the dragon’s left shoulder, disabling the arm. He ducked under the dragon and wrenched the sword, completely dislocating the shoulder. As he followed through, he whipped his blade through the dragon’s knee, dismembering the leg. Suddenly, without the two limbs supporting his weight, the dragon staggered and caught himself with his remaining wing. He hobbled, trying to turn around and reaquire his target. Bacon gave the dragon no time to recover and counter, hacking through the dragon’s abdomen, spilling out intestines, precious stones, blood, and lava. Unrelenting, he rose up and drove the sword into the creature’s neck.
Then, all was still and quiet. A gentle spray of boiling crimson pulsed from the wound in Khvarikx’s neck, coating the ground in a sticky mess. Bacon hovered in front of the dragon as it struggled to stay conscious and alive.
“Is this still a trap, Khvarikx Blakkr?” Bacon asked with a cocky grin.
The dragon took a few choking breaths and gagged up blood. It tried to wipe the blood away from its mouth with its mangled hand, but only added more and smeared it around. He opened his eyes and smiled, red slime dripping from his teeth. Without a word, he suddenly launched himself through the barrier, vaporizing himself in a horrid blast of sparks accompanied by the sound of nails on chalkboard mixed with steel bandsaws being cut to shreds by slightly stronger steel bandsaws.
The barrier shattered and its fragments collected themselves in a swirling cluster which rose into the night sky. It climbed higher and higher until it left the atmosphere and it was just a tiny glow that disappeared somewhere on the dark side of the moon. The moon looked strangely large that night, but it was always hard to tell due to the fact that the moon was still completely smashed--mainly a few large chunks surrounding a shrapnel/dust cloud.
That’s when the moon began to transform.
“Aw, what the hell?” Bacon frowned.
“Was it a giant robot?” Ryssa asked.
“No, the moon is--”
The vampire stopped and glared, clearly irritated. He raised one hand slowly and took a handful of obscenely oversized rings from his pocket with the other. Without breaking eye contact, he placed each ring on its respective finger, clenched his fist a couple times to adjust them, and then cleared his throat.
“BITCH!” he screamed, solidly backhanding Ryssa with his pimped-out hand.
FIVE MINUTES LATER
“WHY YA HITTIN' YOURSELF? WHY YA HITTIN' YOURSELF?” demanded Ryssa, viciously beating the vampire with his own hand which was now missing a couple of its rings.
“I DON’T KNOW!” cried the vampire.
“You’re my bitch now! Got it, bitch?” Ryssa smacked him again.
“Bitch, who’s my bitch?”
“I am!” sobbed the vampire.
The moon was now turning into giant dragon. Out of all the traps he could’ve fallen for, Bacon was unfortunate enough to draw this short straw. He dropped his sword and crossed his arms. This was some straight-up bullshit. How do you even fight a moon? Arukoru never taught him anything about how to slay a moon-dragon. It’s not like he would know anything about that. He would probably have said something about butter and then changed the subject.
Bacon looked back up at the moon-dragon assembling itself and preparing to enter earth’s atmosphere. He could already feel lighter as the gravitational pull drew closer. If his assumptions were correct, Khvarikx Tungl (as he would probably call his new form) could wipe out life on the planet just by stepping on it. Bacon had to admit, it was strategic genius. Dragons were created from small chunks of the moon; it would be easy enough to make a body using all of the lunar rock the same time.
Suddenly, he had a plan. All of the dead dragons from the dragon wars long ago were still buried in the earth. He could use them to build himself a smaller moon-dragon body and then he would actually have a chance. He focused all of his willpower, reaching out to find the corpses of his kin.
Khvarikx Tungl was now almost completely formed and he began to move towards the surface of the planet. His massive body was swallowed by the earth’s shadow and without the reflection of the sun or the faint ambient light of distant long-dead stars, the world grew pitch-black.
Bacon held his breath as chunks of fossilized bones crumbled and began to reform around him. As more bones crystalized around him, he grew taller and more elongated. Stubby little wings sprouted from the place where his shoulderblades would be if he wasn’t a bacon strip. They exploded into giant curtains stretching over the ground. A tail grew out and whipped around through the dust. His arms and legs thickened and produced razor-sharp talons. His face morphed into a long head with horns and a mouthful of teeth. The last fossil fragments formed around the dead Atialysis, morphing it into a greatsword almost twice as tall as Bacon’s new body, which was at least a few hundred miles tall. Khvarikx Bacon was now something that existed and he was ready for blood, guts, and gory glory.
Tungl opened his eyes and two red stars appeared in the night sky, casting an eerie red glow. Bacon readied his impractical, obscenely oversized sword and blasted off towards the moon dragon.
“Like butter,” he said to himself as he drew closer to his orbital opponent.
“I WILL DESTROY YOU, BACON STRIP!” Tungl shouted.
“JOKE’S ON YOU, I’M A DRAGON AGAIN!” replied Bacon, picking up speed. “AND BY THE TIME THE SUN RISES AGAIN, I’M GOING TO BE THE ONLY DRAGON LEFT!”
Tungl paused, “Wait, why are we fighting?”
Bacon slowed and stopped in front of Tungl who was lazily drifting through the emptiness of the earth’s exosphere on the edge of outer space. “I don’t know. I was trying to save humanity at first, then I guess I was trying to save them again in a different way while also trying to become a dragon again, then your minion killed my two closest allies, so it became a revenge thing.”
“So you’re trying to kill me because I killed your salamander and your sword?”
“They were my friends!”
“Friendship is an illusionary construct created by the humans to prevent the strong from slaughtering and enslaving the weak.” Tungl argued, entertained by Bacon’s emotional response. He was also sickened. Bacon was acting like the original dragons, spreading their flowery gospel of peace and serenity.
“No! Friendship is why we exist! We were created to be companions to the humans, not to rule them as tyrants!” Bacon wasn’t sure if he was arguing because he believed it, or if he just didn’t want to lose the argument with himself.
“So you’re going to kill me and then aimlessly roam the earth as what, a spirit guide for the lost souls that encounter you?”
“No! Obviously I’m going to rule the world, but in a more benevolent and just way than the way you’re running things right now. Humans were meant to be the primary species, not us. We’re not even real creatures! We were manufactured as empty mechanical shells. Our souls can’t pass on to any afterlives or even undergo reincarnation!”
“That means we should have the right of way here in this life. When they die, they get more chances in other worlds. Eventually, you and I will both have our dates with fate. Whatever grim reaper dragon who collects the souls of dragons will come for us. I’m sure it will be a pain and a bitch-ton of paperwork for him/her due to the fact that he will have to collect our collective soul in two separate pieces (assuming there isn’t any more time travel). I digress. When that happens, it can be humanity’s turn to prosper and thrive.”
“We were never supposed to have a turn! Dragons were a gift to them!”
“Yes. We were a gift too and they didn’t even want us because we were different. You remember that first day! You remember how our own kind turned their backs on us just to save their own hides!”
The baby dragon poked his claws out through the side of his egg and pulled down, scattering chunks of the rocky shell. A ray of light pierced the darkness blinding the hatchling. The light focused as his eyes adjusted. The opening revealed a large number of pale bipedal creatures wearing vivid colors matching the larger scaly creatures perched above them: some on a rock ledge, some in thick pines trees, and some in the shallow waters of a nearby stream. The baby dragon could sense that they were all waiting on him to hatch out of his shell and he was excited to meet his new friends.
He snapped his wings outwards, pulverizing the walls of his shell with a delighted croak. Just like that, the mood of the onlookers turned on a dime.
“What is that ugly black thing?”
“That’s no dragon!”
“It’s some kind of monster! Look at its freaky eyes!”
The grandest and most beautiful of all the dragons crashed down from his perch in the treetops, his tail trailing behind him and scattering pine needles into the breeze. He was bright pink with highlights of neon green, orange, and navy blue. His eyes seemed as if they were almost certainly forged by whatever offspring came about when the best silversmith and the best goldsmith in all the land got together at a smithing convention and smashed in a hotel room. His voice was like a gentle breeze carrying the voices of angels singing in a faraway land, but his words were icy and cold.
“Creature, by the power vested in me by myself, I name you Khvarikx, the Spawn of Tribulation. I do not know how you came to be, but I believe you are a test for these people to demonstrate their ability to discern between good and evil, then to subsequently eradicate the latter.”
Baby Khvarikx cocked his head and cooed in worried confusion as the people drew swords, spears, and daggers from their respective sheaths, scabbards, and holsters. Realizing the peril he was in, he pulled himself out of his cracked eggshell and flopped on the ground, struggling to stand. He did not even know how to walk, but yet he had to run for his life. As he dug his claws into the ground and desperately flapped his wings to build momentum, he could hear the people around him declaring that his attempt to flee was admission of guilt. They began to hurl spears and rocks at him, their hearts set on proving their holiness to themselves.
Bacon was visibly shaken by the old memory. He didn’t blame the humans though. They were pawns in the game too. The goddess Aevynha and her sister Xijan Ol were sick and twisted. He would kill them eventually, but first he needed to free humanity from the more immediate problem. The two cosmic calamities stared at eachother in mild agitation as they circled each other. Khvarikx Bacon was significantly less cosmic, being about a tenth of the size of Khvarikx Tungl. He knew it would be a tough fight. It would probably last at least three or four chapters before a victor was elected by the hands of fate.
“Let me tell you something, ‘Sir’ Bacon Strip,” Tungl prodded, emphasizing “Sir” with a mocking smirk. “I know why you’re fighting me.”
“Why?” Bacon didn’t actually want to know why, but he asked anyways.
“We’re dragons, dumbass! We don’t make rational decisions, we just dick around with whatever entertains us until it kills us hard enough to keep us dead.”
“What are you saying?”
“We do things on a whim. You probably started your whole quest to save the world from me because you were bored, no matter what logic you used, or what you thought you thought.”
Bacon shuddered. He knew Tungl was right.
Tungl pressed on. “You had no one left to bow before your might, no one left for you to lord over. No one weaker than you to make you feel strong. No one left to kill!”
“I have someone to kill right now.”
Bacon roared, charged, and so began the greatest battle that the universe had ever known. Tungl clapped his hands together with a ferocious growl, obliterating Bacon and ending the battle just as fast as it started. Tungl grumbled as his rocky arms cracked under the force and began to separate. The broken, shattered pieces floated away through the vacuum of space and he lazily watched with mild interest. He reached out with what was left of his now jagged, stubby arms and drew the particles of the moon back to his body. This moon form was weak and brittle; he would have to strengthen it before moving on. He pondered how to do that as he gazed at the earth resting peacefully below him. He really didn’t need humans or anything else on the planet, other than the gold hidden beneath the surface. He could destroy the planet and salvage the gold inside to fortify his armor. Then he could farm other planets throughout the universe until he found a worthy foe. He twirled through empty space and looked to the sun. If he learned how to devour stars and add them to his body he could grow even larger and more powerful. He grinned at the thought.
Then he heard a voice.
“This is awkward.” The voice sounded exactly like his own, but it was not his own.
He spun around hissing angrily.
“Where are you?” Tungl demanded.
The voice chuckled. “Let me give you a hint.” Tungl smacked himself in the face.
“OW!” Tungl and the voice shouted in unison.
“Are you kidding me?” Tungl growled in frustration.
“This is your fault! I had you beat until you went all supermoon on me!”
“I was toying with you!”
“I hacked you to pieces!”
“Because I let you!”
Tungl hit himself again.
“OW!” They shouted.
“Stop it!” demanded Tungl.
“Make me!” countered the voice.
The vampire sat back in his chair and lit a cigarette.
“The dragon argued with his other self for hours, neither--”
He stopped and growled at his cigarette which had somehow extinguished itself. He re-lit it and continued.
“Neither self could overpower the other. As far as--” The cigarette went out again.
He shook his head and swallowed it.
“As far as will-power and mental strength goes, the two were equals. Eventually, they realized this and they settled on a plan. They decided to call a temporary truce and return to earth as humans. The younger/black/emperor/moon dragon would go down to earth first while the older/white/bacon dragon would stay and repair the moon to stabilize the earth’s tides and gravitational fields. He’d come down later when he had finished. The two would find each other on earth someday and fight to the death in fragile, mortal bodies.”
“Is that the end? So they’re just wandering the earth trying to find and kill each other?” Ryssa asked, perplexed.
The vampire nodded, sipping on his drink. He leaned forward and placed the drink on the bar. Then, he reached into his jacket and spoke.
“It’s the end of the story I’m telling, but the story itself isn’t over quite yet. See, the black dragon came down a few hundred years ago as the world’s very first vampire.” A button popped inside the vampire’s jacket. “The other came down a couple decades ago...”
A blade flashed under the dim lights of the room and Ryssa tried to scream, but she only produced a gargling croak which sprayed a mist of violet blood from her open mouth. The vampire placed his pale, clawed hand on her head and used it as leverage to pull his blade out of the side of her neck. He turned, crazed eyes fixed on the shocked man holding an empty glass and a bottle of rum.
“The other came down as a bartender!” The vampire slammed his empty hand down, digging his claws into the bar and pulling himself over. As the vampire tackled the man, he hissed and buried the knife deep in the bartender’s chest.