Chapter 20: Under Pressure
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t that demon ask you to stay and protect his daughters? That was his dying wish...”
“Yes, Olaf. That is true. However, I was also supposed to avenge him. I can’t do both, let alone either of those things because his damned daughters killed him! An army of therapists couldn't fix that situation!”
The admiral turned away from Olaf and pressed a few buttons on the control panel as he steered the ship with gentle but firm precision. The wind was growing violent and tumultuous, torturing the hearts of the normally stone-cold mercenaries. They were no strangers to murderous winds, but right now the ship was passing through a tight, narrow cave. Those winds had absolutely no business being in that cave. They should’ve been ashamed of themselves. However, they were winds. Therefore, they could not feel shame. The only thing they could feel was bloodlust and felt it they did.
“I think he meant that he wanted you to kill the mantis demons,” suggested the rugged, yet gentle viking.
“I think you should do less thinking and do more being grateful for that shiny new robot leg I gave you,” countered the admiral, nodding at Olaf’s leg.
One of the sailors suddenly levitated from his spot scrubbing the deck and shakily tumbled into the ocean while his arm left his body and danced through the air, sprinkling blood down onto the rest of the men. After performing its routine, it dove into the murky water below and the violent winds escaped with it.
“If that isn’t karma, I don’t know what is!” shuddered LeShawn.
"I love caramel!” exclaimed the admiral. “...but I’m pretty sure that’s raspberry flavor.”
“No! Karma, Admiral!” LeShawn explained.
“Pretty sure that was raspberry. I’d entertain an argument for strawberry, but caramel? That’s just insane.”
“Not caramel! Karma!”
“Whether or not you pronounce the second “a” is irrelevant. It isn’t caramel. I don’t see snow and think of chocolate powder, LeShawn.”
The three fell silent as the ship drifted out through the mouth of the cave. You would expect that the light would drastically brighten as they freed themselves from the dim atmosphere of the tunnel, but you would be wrong as usual (seriously, get it together; you’re embarrassing yourself). However, the contrast between the inside and the outside of the cave was hardly noticed. By some dark magic, a shroud of black cherry-flavored clouds hung over the ocean, a veil that completely and utterly blocked out the sun above. The only illumination in this eerie hidden world came from a countless, yet relatively low number of house-sized eternal bonfires elevated at least a hundred feet above sea level by jagged stone pillars scattered few and far between. The sea looked red like blood mixed with kool-aid. The sailors all wondered if it was actually a kool-aid/blood mix, if it was a mix of something else, or if it was merely a reflection of the fires and the haunting clouds--except one named Jorgen. Jorgen was wondering if he loved clouds because they looked so friendly, or if he liked them because they looked like big, fuzzy boobs.
The lone steampunk future pirate ship glided across the surface of the water (if it really was water) towards a black castle in the distance. An ominous weight bore down on the crew. Under pressure from a horrible presence, they all shifted nervously in their seats as they sailed forward to meet their destinies.
“Ssseemsss like you’ve brought usss dinner, kind sssir.” A gross hissing voice rasped, gargling blood.
“What the hell are you?” asked LeShawn with a shocked crack in his voice.
The admiral turned, wide-eyed and annoyed. A pale ugly creature opened its claws and licked the blood of its lips, letting Olaf’s lifeless body to fall to the deck. It was clearly a vampire, but not the vampire he was looking for.
“I am what you would call a vampire, my dear sssailorsss.”
“I don’t care if you’re a mermaid, we’re not going to cuddle!” LeShawn shouted angrily.
“I hate mermaids!” added the admiral.
“I have... a messssssage for you two. You have entered the exclusss--” the vampire was interupted as LeShawn snapped and plowed his fist through the side of the creature’s head, pulverizing his target.
“SSSUCK ON THAT!” LeShawn screamed.
The shocked and mostly incapacitated vampire staggered and started running around in circles like a headless chicken until it hit the railing and toppled over. The world fell silent aside from the thrashing of the vampire in its death throes; it splashed water around in vain as the life left its body.
As the sounds of the creature finally receded, a previously unnoticed bubbling of the sea rose in volume and intensity. One by one, gigantic black orbs broke the surface and began to bob peacefully, yet threateningly. They whirred and buzzed mechanically as they drifted towards the pirate ship... slowly and deliberately. As slow as they all were, it seemed like an instant before they were all gridlocked in a tight circle around the foreign vessel in their domain, gently bouncing off each other like little adorable children in a mosh pit at a death metal concert. A collage of beeps and alarms sounded and the orbs began to split open, revealing hives upon hives of screeching vampires itching for fresh blood. The admiral smiled. He had expected this and it was exactly what he needed for his plan.
“Hold your fire! Let them board the ship and then kill them here. We have the advantage if we draw them in!”
"We do?" A sailor asked.
A horde of pale creatures dressed in black swarmed out of their respective orbs and initiated their assault on the ship. They were under the assumption that they had executed a flawless ambush, but they were diving headfirst into a trap. Khvarikx was itching to test the secret scorpion demon technique of using blood sacrifices to activate an ultimate form. He had not the slightest idea what a asdjkasd ashdkajsjh spectre was, but from what he understood, it acted as an ethereal vessel that absorbed the potential spiritual energy of escaping soul fragments found in spilt blood as it dried. Being a somewhat regular human, the admiral did not have a askdjhaslkjh fhfuhiuw spectre to collect soul juice. However, due to the mermaid’s convenient curse, the ship devoured blood, guts, gore, and any remains of the dead and dying. It would be the perfect substitute for a ksjdfhkashdf aoidfjasdhf spectre; hundreds of vampires and a few dozen sailors were about to tear each other to pieces on the deck, feeding the monster.
“HOLD YOUR GROUND, MEN! TONIGHT, YOU WILL CLAIM YOUR PLACE IN HISTORY!” the admiral bellowed, looking down at the sailors standing firm with drawn weapons.
“LeShawn, I have some business to attend to. Hold down the ship for a moment.”
“Sir?” LeShawn asked, but the mysterious pirate was already gone.
LeShawn flexed his muscles as he slid his fingers through a set of brass knuckles. The swarm washed (insert wordplay using wash and bloodbath here) over the ship like a horde of piranhas who were as amphibious as they were hungry. Within moments, the deck was overflowing with thousands of pale creatures wearing black clothes purchased at an emo kid’s garage sale.
Hours passed like seconds as the ship strayed from any logical story arc and descended into mindless bloodshed. The chaos was orchestrated and beautiful--a dance macabre scored by the ringing of steel, the sizzling of plasma, and the screams of the dying as the haunted ship devoured their bodies. The sailors were a diverse cast, wearing many shades and hues. To the stars above, they painted a picture in four dimensions as they fought the white creatures hidden by their dark, gloomy clothes. Twisting, thrashing, and spinning shapes of navy blue, snow white, forest green, mud brown, golden gold and other colors vibrant and mute sliced and weaved through a blanket of black, intermitently splashing in patches of cardinal red. As the hands of the symbolic clock crept closer to midnight, the shapes began to blink out, wiped away by the black velvet and the pasty white hands peeking out from the folds.
LeShawn clutched the wound on his neck with his left arm as he slammed the cabin door shut with his other. He could barely stand; his knees were spaghetti. He could feel his heart beating uncontrollably in his chest as he struggled to catch his breath.
He was in a nightmare that he could not wake up from. He had ripped apart nearly ninety vampires personally, but there was not a single body on the ship. He was drenched in blood; some of which was his own, but most was not. Still, the ship was spotless. There was no evidence that anyone had ever been on the ship. There wasn’t even evidence that they were still on the ship and not just reflections of a past life or a different universe. By the end of the night, everything that the revolution did would be completely erased from existence. He slumped down to the floor and sighed wearily.
“Tell me, LeShawn, what’s it like to know you’ve failed everyone?” asked the mermaid eating an assortment of fruit and fish at the fancy mahogany table.
“Who are you?” he responded groggily.
“I am the mermaid who cursed this ship! Because of me, the ship devours the dead and the injured as they fall!”
“That’s stupid! There’s literally no point to that curse.”
“I know! I just needed to practice the cursing process. See, I plan to be the Queen Enchantress of the Seven Seas and I need to build up my skills before I break out into the main stream.”
“Was that a pun?”
“Probably! On a different note, it looks like you’ve lost a lot of blood there, buddy. It’s making me kinda hungry.” The mermaid eyed the growing pool of blood beneath LeShawn’s hulkish brown body.
“Keep your sloppy little flippers off of me, you fisheyed frog!”
“Mmmhmmm...” she put a knife in between her teeth and climbed onto the table, crawling towards her next meal.
“Nope!” He drew a blade from his boot and flicked it through the mermaid’s arm. Her body spasmed in pain and flopped off of the mahogany. The knife she was holding in her mouth fell out and hit the floor, bouncing up and spearing her through the eye. She screamed and panicked, turning around and smacking her head on the table. The impact drove the knife into her brain and she dropped down, twitching slightly.
LeShawn sighed. He closed his eyes and rested his head against the steel door, listening to the sounds of battle raging on outside. He felt a body bounce against the metal, temporarily disturbing him from his peaceful moment. He drifted back to meditation and let his hands fall to the floor. A warm sensation slowly worked its way into his mind, snapping him back to the present moment. He moved his fingers across the floor and they slid easily through a warm sticky liquid. He opened his eyes in intrigued confusion. The mermaid was still twitching on the floor in front of him in a pool of her own blood. However, her blood wasn’t the sticky stuff on his hands. The sticky stuff was, in fact, blood, but it was coming from under the door. His brain scrambled to comprehend the situation, but it was interrupted as a pale, clawed, vampire hand ripped through the door.
Admiral Nelson rolled the little paper tight around the greenish purple herbs and licked the side gently. He flicked his middle finger against the control panel, smashing a small hole in it. He poked the joint into the rubble of the old control panel until a thin wisp of smoke curled up.
“Get off of me!” hissed the vampire he was sitting on.
The admiral shrugged and let out a condescending grunt. He took a long savory puff and let out a train of thick smoke rings.
“I will, but only if you press this big red button,” he said, offering an odd device with an assortment of buttons and switches to the vampire.
“Ok, sounds good!”
“Wait, what does the button do?”
“I’m not pressing it!”
“I meant that I’ll do it!”
“Okay! Press it!”
The vampire snatched the device and hurled it into the ocean, then sneered at the admiral victoriously. The admiral was not fazed. He finished his joint and flicked it into the water on the heels of his ridiculous device.
“I pressed the button a few minutes ago. It started a timer rigged to all of the bombs I planted while you losers were fighting here on my ship. It’s also connected to the garlic smoke cannisters I installed on the deck. Those will kill off any vampires on the ship who don’t fry in the explosion. Your boss is an asshat for putting all of his eggs in one basket. If he used any orcs or trolls in his army, my plan would fail. However, he is a egotistical elitist who wants nothing but a uniform fighting force of pasty white people. That is why he will fail and that is why I am already ten steps ahead of him! Now, as you can see, the bodies have stopped disappearing into the ship. That means that my freaky cursed ship has a full tummy!”
“What does that mean?”
The admiral leaned close and crammed a clove of garlic into the creature’s mouth. He lowered his voice to a whisper.
“The sacrifice is ready.”
As if to punctuate his dramatic statement, the orb attack ships exploded in waves of rainbow laser napalm. Shrapnel and shockwaves railed the ship as jets of garlic steam shot out of vents in the sides of the ship. The admiral stood up and let the force of the blast send his hair and clothes rippling in the
“gentle breeze” as the flaming inferno from the vampire battleships illuminated him like a mythical god of destruction, sex, and revelry.
“The last thing you see before you die is going to be this magnificent view of me in all my glory. Doesn’t my hair look so fabulous? For that, you’re welcome. Thank me when you see me again in hell!” He smiled warmly as the sounds of his precisely orchestrated carpet bombing subsided and gave way to the ship’s alarms announcing that it was pretty trashed and on its way to the bottom of the ocean.
“That’s a reason to celebrate!”
He whipped a large bottle of rum out of his jacket and flipped it up in the air.
“Being a pirate was pretty cool,” the admiral thought to himself as he gazed out over the wreckage of his sinking ship. The Lazy Orca, as he had named her so long ago, had served him well. She was a merchant of death and rum. Every other merchant on the seas feared her wrath and merciless demeanor. The icy winds caught his royal violet cape and carried it like a majestic flag, inspiring his men to fight on. Unfortunately, his entire crew was dead, so the cape flag really only made him look stoic while compensating for the fact that the ship’s actual flag was somewhere between the surface and the bottom of the ocean. He hopped up onto the railing and balanced there, contemplating his next move.
“Admiral?” A scratchy voice faintly pierced the relative silence.
Startled, he scanned the ship, looking for the source of the sound. Unable to find it, he growled something about wombats and depth perception before furiously ripping off his black leather, gold-trim eyepatch.
“There you are!”
The admiral hurled himself from the railing on the upper section of the ship and landed gracefully below. He lunged forward and planted his feet, sliding elegantly across the deck, his boots lubricated by a slimy mixture of saltwater and the blood of his former crew. He came to a gentle stop in front of the wounded sailor with an expression of amusement upon his face.
“That was awesome! You should totally try it,” the admiral said with a grin. His smile transformed into a frown when he noticed that his sailor was missing a leg.
“Some other time, perhaps?” the sailor croaked, trying to sit up.
“I suppose so.” The admiral plopped down and cracked open his bottle of rum. “I’m honestly really surprised you survived. Vampires aren’t exactly the easiest thing to kill.”
“Am I going to turn into one of them?”
“Well...you’re probably going to die before that happens.”
A single tear fell from the sailor’s eye.
The admiral smiled warmly, “Aw, buddy don’t be like that! Look on the bright side!” He leaned closer with a piercingly vibrant grin. “There’s more than enough blood for the sacrifice!”
The sailor’s eyes widened with panic “Sacrifice? To who?”
“To me! Obviously!” The admiral flipped up onto his feet. “You see, I have to reach my final form somehow.”
The sailor started to say something along the lines of “you betrayed us” or “why would you do this to us,” but the admiral was already lost in thought. When he started his journey, his quest was to save humanity. Now, things had changed. He had defaulted to his base, primal instincts. Saving humanity was an unnecessary bonus for him; his current priority was the destruction of anything that could be a threat to his new empire. Waves crashed against the hull, further tearing away at the supporting bands holding his ship together. A dark, rocky island loomed in the distance—a single castle protruding from the side of the cliff. In one final act of violence, the ocean tore the Lazy Orca in half and began to swallow the tasty remains.
“That took long enough,” the admiral mumbled, visibly annoyed by the wait.
In a matter of seconds, the vessel was gone, forever banished to the ocean floor. She was a terrible force to be reckoned with and a power unmatched by anything else riding the waves, but what rose from the wreckage was something more violent, more bloodthirsty, and more powerful than anything the world had ever known before. The monster erupted from the water like a volcano of hydrogen and oxygen atoms fused together in a 2/1 ratio. It was a snowy white abomination which seemed to be a hybrid of a dragon, an octopus, a salamander, and Satan himself. Various tentacles adorned its muscular body in multiple sizes and shapes. Several larger ones were webbed together by transparent purple skin, forming massive wings—each larger than the sails of the now-sunken Lazy Orca.
Khvarikx Omega coiled himself in the air as he floated peacefully. He smiled, baring rows upon rows of pearl razors lining his jaws. He lurched forward, ripping the surrounding air apart at a subatomic level. The sonic boom which followed him shook the earth like Tsar Bomba, splitting the sea beneath him with biblical power. He sliced through the front walls of the castle like a knife through a warm pumpkin pie, fresh out of the oven. He rocketed through the last few walls of the castle and into the main hall where his rival waited for him. As the rubble disintegrated away from his eyes, the pupils snapped and locked onto his prey. Omega felt time warp and slow as he drew closer to his target. In those fractions of moments, he realized that his arch nemesis had been one step ahead of him.