Chapter 14: Rock You Like A Hurricane
“Lord Dracul, I have the best of tidings for you today!”
“What is it, Reaper?” The hooded figure stirred on his ornate throne buried in the shadows of his ominous palace.
“You told me not to return until I had proven my worth. I am sure you will not be disappointed by my tribute. It is one of three magical ships created with metal and black sorceries by a group of pirates led by a couple of mysterious new people. Their names are Admiral Nelson and Captain Morgan. I deceived them into letting me become the captain of the vessel they called the “Sea Panda” and I convinced the crew to help me steal it. It has weapons beyond imagination!”
The hooded figure hissed and rose from his chair. He silently glided across the glass floor to the window where he fixed his eyes on the night sky. The light of the stars and the moon illuminated the figure and gave Jack the Reaper his first look at the vampire lord he served so diligently for so many years. Jack saw the pale, ashy skin... the sunken, red, glowing eyes... glistening white fangs... long, dead, black hair. It was like something from the mosh pits of a really crappy screamo concert.
“The moon is not yet complete--it is still shattered... there’s no way he could have come back already.” The vampire cooed in relief, snuggling the chilled, frosty glass lovingly.
“Have my alchemists study the weapons. They can start upgrading the rest of my naval force.” The vampire turned away from the window, saying goodbye to it with a gentle caress, leaving a trail where his fingertips skirted across the surface. “Someday, I am going to face the greatest enemy the world will ever summon for me. Luckily for you, he is not here yet, but he’s coming. I can feel it.” The vampire returned to his dark throne, skipping like a Kansas girl on a yellow brick road.
“You have done well. Bring me their heads and your honor is restored. I’ll forgive you for killing my favorite prostitute.”
“Your wish is my command!” Jack bowed and nervously walked to the door.
The door closed quietly and the vampire let out a long sigh.
“I’ll kill you again someday, I promise. Our deathmatch is going to be beautiful.”
“Did you say something to me?” Jack burst through the door with a hopeful smile.
“No! Get out! I’m being evil and brooding right now!”
“Your majesty, can you hear me?” A voice called out faintly in the darkness.
“Your majesty?” The voice came again.
The pope opened his eyes and coughed violently. He was lying in the bed of a crisp, white room occupied by two men in blood-splattered lab coats who seemed thrilled for some inexplicable reason. He sat up and tried to comprehend where he was.
“Who are you people?”
“We are scientists, but enough about us. We’d like to welcome you back to the land of the living! One of our associates infiltrated the pirate crew that allegedly killed you and stole a ship with unearthly technology, far beyond modern knowledge! We froze your head, upper torso and what was left of your intestines in cannabis oil until we were able to find a way to bring you back!”
“You are now Popebot M67!” The scientist who had remained silent smiled warmly and revealed a large mirror showing the pope his new body.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO--” the pope took a quick, deep breath. “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
The head of the church angrily rose from the bed and stumbled past the scientists to the door. He kicked it open, obliterating it to splinters. He staggered through the mangled doorway, struggling to adjust to his new body. Outside the room, a balcony overlooked a peaceful garden with a beautiful view of the sea. His eyes burned, fueled by hatred.
“I’LL KILL YOU ADMIRAL NELSON AND CAPTAIN MORGAN! I SWEAR TO GOD ALMIGHTY I WILL KILL YOU UNTIL YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY DIE ANYMORE!”
Lasers erupted from the pope’s eyes, annihilating the garden--scorching trees, birds, and bees alike.
The bay was littered with the remains of the 23 British warships tasked with the destruction of the Lazy Orca. Now, as the night was finally still and quiet, the dark silhouette of the Orca showed itself amongst the burning glow, the wreckage of the queen’s fleet. The hull brushed against the debris in the water like a victorious maiden bathing in the entrails of her enemies. None could even scratch the ruthless pirate ship as it had slaughtered them from afar. By the time the Orca was within range, the British forces were already in flames from the laser-guided rainbow napalm missiles. It had earned a moment of rest and so it waited in tense silence, a rattlesnake on the forest floor under a blanket of decaying leaves.
On the mainland, Khvarikx and Ryssa stood outside a small pub facing the door, listening to the muffled sounds of everyday folk kicking back after hard work in the fields. The two pirates didn’t say a single word to each other. No words needed to be said. Khvarikx exhaled a thick, milky cloud of smoke and passed a swirly purple glass bong to Ryssa. She struck a match and lit it, drawing a deep breath of combusted herbal goodness. The two returned to their silent watch over the pub door. Ryssa let out her hit and coughed quietly. She tossed the bong aside, shattering it on the streets before nodding to the admiral and adjusting her jacket. He nodded back and boldly led the way through the front door. The pair quickly crossed the room and reached the bar before the occupants inside could dramatically hush and unanimously glare at the strangers on their turf.
“We need to talk,” said Khvarikx as he the pulled the bartender aside.
“I swear I didn’t know it was his mom! Von Hawthorneberry is a common last name!” The bartender cried in panic.
“No, not that! I’m looking for someone.”
“Who?” The bartender was visibly relieved.
“He looks like a dead man walking. Black hair like a starless night, skin like the leftover ashes of a funeral pyre, and eyes like candle flames shining through polished rubies.”
“I think I know who you’re talking about. Someone like that was here earlier. Said he was ‘pregaming’ for a fancy party at the cliffside palace. It’s only a few minutes walk away from this bar here.”
“Perfect! Come, Ryssa. We’re going to pretend we’re rich people!”
The admiral spun, flicking his cape with a dramatic flair. The captain seized a drink from the bar and downed it before turning and following her superior. The bartender cheerily waved goodbye for a moment before screaming in pain as a group of thugs descended on him like vengeful hawks. The two pirates failed to notice and kept walking, excitedly planning an evening of revelry and debauchery.
“What are you going to do when you find the vampire?” Ryssa cocked her head with a curious smile.
“That’s the fun part. When he attacked me in the bar, I had no idea who he was or who I was, but he was already fairly sure who I was. Now, our roles are reversed! I know exactly who he is, what he looks like, and, best of all, he still thinks I’m on the moon!”
“Technically, you are still on the moon... there’s three of you in this world now. I was created by... um... nevermind that... anyway, I literally had one job: don’t let the time stream get too screwed. Clearly, I screwed that up and now there’s three cataclysmic super dragons in this universe right now. The world could literally explode if the moon version of you touches down on this planet while you and the vampire are still living here! It might even still be too much strain if both of you are dead. Personally, I’d recommend launching the dead body into deep space after you kill him.”
She paused, retracing her mental steps. “Sorry, go on with your plan!”
“The world will explode?”
“Yupp. What were you saying about reversed roles?”
Khvarikx locked eyes with her and clenched his fists. He knew he wasn’t going to get any more information out of her until she decided it was the proper time to advance the plot. She was obsessed with the book she was writing, despite having no clue how or what she was doing. Her writing style reflected her fragmented view on the movement of time and it was very confusing to read. It was her dream, however, and so he humored her and continued to let her direct her chaotic tale of “romance, explosions, and other pretty things.” She had finished writing up to the bloodbath in the bar using a crappy notebook and glitter pens. Now, she only wrote her outline in short little notes which she locked away in a slimy black and pink chest. The chest was probably alive and almost definitely pure evil.
“As I was saying...” The admiral bowed his head, accepting to tolerate Ryssa’s insanity. “...I’m going to meet him at this party. I’m going to befriend him, we’re going to do cool stuff together, become best bros, become ultra best bros, become BFFs, and then I’m going to frickin’ stab him in the back!”
“Why not just kill him and get it over with?”
“Dude. I am a DRAGON.”
“I’m also a PIRATE. I am a PIRATE DRAGON. PIRATE. DRAGON.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Those are the two most ruthless career choices in the universe. I can’t just kill him.”
“No, this is a bad idea!” The captain crossed her arms and stopped in front of the admiral, angrily stamping her feet down in protest. “The bad guys always lose in the end because they play with their food. They always yap about their evil plans or their love for murder and it always gives the good guy enough time to turn the tables. This is an extremely long version of that.”
“Are you saying this because you want me to win, or because you don’t want yet another cliche in your book?”
“I doubt it! This whole--” He suddenly stopped. “Wait... does that mean we’re the bad guys in this story?”
“You said it yourself. You’re a pirate dragon. That’s pretty evil. Not to mention, we killed the pope and now we’re trying to break a vampire’s heart before we kill it too. Vampires are sexy and people love them. We’re killing the emo version of a fairy.”
“You’re right, vampires haven’t been scary or evil since Christopher Lee did that awesome Dracula portrayal. They’re all friendly and sparkly these days.” He took a deep breath and shook his head. “We’re definitely in the wrong here.”
“It doesn’t matter, Khvarikx. Everyone loves a good villain!”
Feeling like she had made her point, the captain turned and continued to walk down the empty street with an accented strut, swaying her hips in a cocky, flirty manner. Khvarikx pulled his cape tighter around himself to block out the chilly winds and followed with uncertain, wandering steps. He bit his lip and groaned quietly. He was starting to realize what she meant by “romance” whenever she was describing her book. She was clearly trying to shoehorn a love story into this blood-soaked revenge action thriller of an adventure in a pitiful attempt to appeal to a broader selection of readers. It was kind of adorable. He slapped himself. It wasn’t adorable, it was creepy. She was probably trying to seduce him with her witchcraft.
“I don’t have time for feelings,” he grumbled to himself.
“Hurry up, we’re almost here!” Ryssa disappeared around a corner as she quickened her pace. She started to say something, but the dragon pirate admiral was much too lost in his thoughts. He was overwhelmed by the incessant urge to stretch his wings out, give them a good shake, and then fold them up again into neat, leathery curtains. It was a nervous tick most dragons have, but most dragons still have wings. He had a cape, but it just wasn’t the same.
As he rounded the corner, he saw the captain arguing with the bouncer at the castle doors. He could feel the throbbing bass pounding from within, rocking the earth beneath his feet. It was probably not a good idea to use such powerful sonic equipment in a building so close to the edge of a cliff, but the view was quite nice.
“The list is wrong! I was invited two fortnights ago!” The captain’s angry yelling brought Khvarikx out of his daydreaming.
“I do offer my most sincere apologies, but I am quite simply not authorized to permit entry to any lady or gentlemen not on this list.” The bouncer politely tried to calm her down, unsure of how to deal with an irate young woman angrily waving a purple glow stick in his face.
“I swear to god, I will stab you with these!”
“Ma’am, please! I’m just a lowly butler!”
Khvarikx quickened, fearing the worst. The captain seductively covered the bouncer’s mouth with her empty hand and pushed him against the wall. Muffled screams struggled to escape through her fingers as she popped the cap off of the glow stick, revealing a shiny little needlepoint, dripping violet juice, like a radioactive plum or a south-Minnesotan death pumpkin being squeezed by a steel vice. The admiral was now sprinting, his boots tearing apart the dirt road as he crossed the divide between himself and the murder in progress. Ryssa plunged the glow stick into the bouncer’s neck and pushed it until it disappeared in the man’s body. She pulled her hand back briefly and struck the neck where the glow stick entered, producing a familiar cracking sound. Khvarikx reached the scene of confrontation and skidded to a halt as the man fell to his knees, his neck glowing faintly and his veins lighting up as the poisonous glow spread through his circulatory system.
“We could have bribed him...” The admiral suggested, trying to convey an angry tone and hide his amusement and enjoyment of the brutality.
“Something’s seriously wrong. I know you weren’t around at this point in history, but nightclubs like this didn’t show up here in England until 1812. The first nightclub with electronic music, subwoofers, and--” She sighed and angrily kicked the twitching corpse at her feet. “--bouncers was invented and built by George Washington to declare the United States of America’s independence. People from all around the world paid to come visit and party in those nightclubs. In 1812, England wanted to replicate that success and boost their own economy, so they stole the technology and built a nightclub of their own underneath London, instigating the war with the US.” She picked up the list and dipped her finger in the glowing blood leaking from the bouncer’s neck. “Right now it’s only 1720. Technology advanced almost 100 years faster than it should have.”
“Is it because of the stolen ships?”
“I’m pretty sure. We really need to find out where they went. I feel like we’re in more danger than we could possibly realize.” She scribbled on the list and dropped it next to the dead butler.
“Oh look, we are on the list after all!”