Shorty 1.0 Chapter 10: Shit heats up, and why you should have read the last chapter

Shorty stared at their hard work. For 3 days following the luau, they had been instructing people in connecting the vast network of pipes and misters that had once served as the plantation’s irrigation system. They are on a plantation, in case we forgot to mention that; it used to grow pineapples. (sorry…)

The idea had come to Shorty when while they were setting up for the feast, the locals were pouring gasoline into the tiki torches for fuel.

3 days prior:

Shorty tapped Duke on the shoulder while taking a sip of his delectable rum-smoothie-colada. “Hey, what are they pouring into those torches?” he asked. Duke shrugged “Gasoline. We have several thousands of gallons of the stuff. Hundreds of thousands, probably. We have a fusion plant powering the place, so we don’t really need it.” And he had left it at that. Shorty hadn’t though. He had seen the irrigation system, and an idea formed in his head.

All throughout the night, he drank and ate the world’s most amazing pork next to Torch, who was easily packing away as much as Shorty was. He kept thinking about surplus fuel and misting irrigation systems. He glanced over at his tiny dragon friend, who was practically drunk from food (and booze), and his idea came to fruition; while thinking about lighters, gasoline and sprinklers, he watched Torch do a parlor trick; he would sip some rum, spit it out as a mist, then spit a tiny flame at it, and it would erupt into a fireball. As long as you read the previous chapter, you should have a pretty good idea of what he was thinking.

On the other hand, if you haven’t read the last chapter, skipping around from chapter to chapter will only serve to confuse you; this is not a choose your own adventure book, so the story is frighteningly linear.

Later, when the effects of the alcohol were waning, he asked Duke where they kept the gas. it turns out there was a vast underground reserve, connected to the surface with large pipes and hose. After some investigation, it turned out that the couplings for the fuel depot and the irrigation system were compatible. An evil Grinchy grin grew on Shorty’s face.

Duke laughed along, kind of confused but not wanting to let on that he had no idea why Shorty suddenly had a large, psychotic smile on his face. “Is there anything that can get masses of tiger sharks to attack?” Duke nodded soberly. “Yes, human blood.”

Shorty got excited. “Great, we need some.”

Duke grew worried suddenly. Shorty’s enthusiasm had him immediately thinking about wooden stakes and crosses. Then Shorty elaborated. “We need to bait them. The sharks. Do you have a blood bank?”

Duke nodded grimly. “Yeah, but there is nothing in it. Every time a team goes out, we wind up needing more and more.” Shorty thought for a minute. “Okay then, we need donations. Everyone over 10 has to give. Just a quarter cup each, there are like five thousand of you that should make plenty of blood.”

Duke slowly caught on. “So, we take a little from everyone, so no one is really out, and mix that together to make shark bait?”

Shorty nodded excitedly. “Yes! Exactly!”

Duke shrugged and started spreading the word. Within hours, people were lined up to give blood, since Shorty asked. (They really, really have a hard on for shorties) Once they had it all, Shorty laid out his plan. “We set up several containers of blood for the sharks to find. When they start to show up in larger numbers, turn on the misters, and get as far away from the farm end of this place as possible. Torch and I will take care of the rest.”

3 days lat- oh; Now

The misters were primed to go, and the blood containers were laid out. The people who set them ran in terror that one of the unholy fish was milling about trolling for food. Luckily, aside from some people being startled when they ran into others, no one was hurt. They had spent days running water through the irrigation system, testing for leaks, patching them up, bridging sections where the pipes had separated or broken. When all was said and done, they did a test run that covered the countryside in sea water. It worked.

Shorty and Torch watched from a distance, while the Hawaiians were all hiding in the shelter. Shorty gave the signal and the irrigation system was turned on. They could see hundreds of sharks descending on the chum buckets, milling around, looking for a wounded person to tear apart.

The wait was killing them; every moment that passed could wind up with a shark looking at them and then the jig would be up. They had everything set; when it was time, Torch was going to produce the biggest flame he had ever breathed.

They used some fire hoses to spray a mist of blood into the air, but not too much because they only had so much. Within minutes, the horizon started to darken; the voracious predators already responding to the smell of human blood. They began to circle, both on the ground and in the air. They quickly knocked over the chum buckets, spilling blood everywhere. Those sharks near the blood started to frenzy. Those that got blood on them were attacked by the others nearby and were quickly killed and eaten, usually before they could hit the ground.

Shorty waited maybe five minutes, and then gave the signal. Men in hidden places turned valves, and thousands of gallons of gasoline began to spray into the air, reaching easily fifty feet into the air. In short order, the air over a three square mile radius was obscured by a fine brownish, terribly smelly vapor. Shorty glanced up to the tiny dragon sitting on his now leather covered shoulder. “Are you ready?”

“I think so.” Torch nodded.

“Nervous?” Shorty asked. The little dragon nodded.

Shorty smiled. “I would be too. This is going to be loud, and likely knock us on our asses.” They got ready to get under shelter. There was a strip of magnesium as big around as a garden hose stretching from their hiding spot to the soon to-be-thermobaric cloud. Torch was going to blast it with a massive flame that would send fire racing toward the miles-sized bomb.

“Okay, on the count of three…One… Two… Three!” Shorty shouted. Torch opened his tiny mouth and spewed a gout of flame several times the size of the one he used to kill the deep one on R’Lyeh. The magnesium sparked and flared to life along a full 30 feet of its length in an instant, and then the fire raced along its length at blinding speed. Torch barely had enough time to get into the safe bunker before the cloud ignited.

Sharks winded aimlessly and hungrily through the cloud, drawn by the smell of blood, and oblivious to the danger it presented. Here’ where we will once again take advantage of the third person omniscient perspective of the story and let you know that there were about two hundred thousand SEAL tiger sharks on earth, and about one and ninety nine thousand of them showed up for the frenzy. That is a shitload of sharks.

When the magnesium flame touched the outer edge of the cloud, there was an instantaneous flash of light followed by a boom that literally knocked every one the island onto their ass. The concussion dropped ground level by 3 inches because it compressed everything that made up the top 10 feet of the ground for 4 square miles. Yes, 4 miles; the wind caused the cloud to drift. Needless to say, 99 percent of the shark population was simultaneously smashed, burned, blown apart and suffocated in less than a second. Those trees that were standing in the surrounding miles were knocked over.

Several of the remaining 100 sharks, we’ll say 300 of them, died of a heart attack when they heard the sound. That left 700. In the span of a few seconds, Shorty and Torch had nearly eradicated the species from earth. Those remaining 700, not being the brightest of the bunch, converged on the site, once the shockwaves wore off and the heat died down. Needless to say, the irrigation system was no more, having been flattened and crimped by the explosion.

People on the far distant island continent of Australia put down their Tim Tams and vegemite (that’s what they all eat now, we swear) and asked, as a nation, “What the fuck was that?” On R’Lyeh, Cthulhu immediately knew who caused the devastation and contacted one of his most powerful followers, a certain Brandon on the Leviathan, to tell him he wanted to know more about this creature capable of such single handed devastation. (Hey, he’s a god, they know these things)

As the remaining sharks descended, Shorty led a contingent of armed men out to the blasted field, all protected in tanks, and Shorty hidden by Torch’s invisibility, ready to shoot the remaining beasts into extinction. They hadn’t quite counted on there being close to a thousand, so when the new cloud of sharks arrived, many men soiled themselves, and many more ran like hell. Those that stayed would go on to be counted as some of the bravest heroes know to man. There were like 12 of them. Four of them were killed almost outright by sharks the second they exposed themselves to take a shot.

Shorty and Torch had much better luck because they were invisible, but between the two of them, they were not going to wipe out several hundred sharks by themselves.

But fate has a funny way of fixing things; it turns out there was a particular ship, called the “Foie Gras”, that happened to be in the area looking for someone when the field exploded. They decided they should go take a look, knowing that their friend Shorty came from a race of people designed to kill and destroy really well. That guess paid off quite well, and for the first time ever, a Blade brand ship used all of its blades in combat. Brandy, guided by the skillful hands of LeDouche, blasted through the cloud of aerial fish, smashing and slashing them into ribbons on the many blades that covered the ship.

Brandy set down in the middle of the melee of sharks and began tracking and shooting as many as she could. She let down her walkway and Piper, Melvin, Henry and Bert all walked down, armed to the teeth and shooting at anything that moved. Even Piper was specially armed. Pierre had provided her with a built in Taser system, so she fired bolts of paralyzing electricity at nearby sharks, and the others shot them when they landed, squirming on the ground.

The brave Hawaiians cheered and celebrated their good luck, but Torch was surprised to find that Shorty had stopped shooting and was just standing there. Shorty started off toward the ship, walking deliberately. He asked Torch to lift the invisibility from them.

This had the effect of confusing and alarming the people coming off the ship. At first, there was a brain and pair of eyes with a dragon sitting next to them. Shorty didn’t see anything in the world but Piper. She was wearing her green robes, draped over her form fitting armor. He had seen her firing blasts of electricity at the sharks, and had never seen the offensive side of her. If he had been merely fond of her before (it was more than that, but anyway), then he was in love with her now.

Next, his organs and bones reappeared, then his muscles, and then his skin. His clothes appeared a moment later, but took long enough for Piper to realize she had chosen well when she decided she wanted Shorty for her man. 😉

Melvin was closest when he came fully into view. “Hey, Shorty, no shit!”

Shorty nodded to his friend, then pushed past and grabbed Piper by the front of her robe and gave her a kiss that was almost as powerful as the blast that had drawn the Foie Gras into the fray.  While she stood, overwhelmed and in shock, Shorty turned and began shooting at sharks again.

He shouted up to LeDouche “Track them down and don’t let any get away. I’ll explain later.” He could just see the other man as he saluted then lifted his ship off, as Brandy continued to train her guns on sharks and blast them out of the air or leave a smoldering hole in the smashed ground where there once was a shark.

The sharks were quickly giving up and trying to scatter, but thanks to LeDouche’s incredible skill as a pilot, and Brandy’s amazing targeting, they were quickly reducing the numbers. (For the record, there were only 40 left by the time he took off to chase them. In 10 minutes, they were an extinct species)

Shorty explained the situation as things had been explained to him, and he and the others were treated like the heroes they were. The people of the vault were overwhelmed. The thermobaric blast had knocked all their pictures off their walls, had knocked everyone off their feet, and had caused more than a few spilled drinks. They realized that everything they had known for more than a decade had suddenly changed. The omnipresent threat of being eaten alive was gone; the surface world was now safe.

Duke suggested, you guessed it, a luau to celebrate. LeDouche had already messaged the US to let them know that Hawaii was no longer a no man’s land. For the first time in 10 years, the natives in Hawaii lit torches and did hula dances and ate roast pig under the open sky. Shorty caught everyone up on what had transpired since he had been accidentally left back on Vhoorl, but aside from that, he spent most of his time keeping as close to Piper as he physically could without actually climbing on her, and she did the same.

Oh, and he had introduced everyone to Torch, who found it fascinating that they had been to his home planet. Torch also made fast friends with the slightly insane Ned, especially the tiny robot Ned had been given to control. It seemed a little too dangerous and expensive to give the unpredictable Ned a warbot to travel with.

They shared with Shorty the details of their trip to Fantasia, the temporary cure for Melvin, and their return trip to Vhoorl. “How’s Barry?” Shorty asked at one point. Bert snickered. “I think his legs were eaten off.” Shorty and Torch both laughed and said simultaneously “Good.”

They caught up well into the night, and Shorty began brainstorming where they could find a necromancer to cure Melvin.

Little did they know the answer to that particular problem was about to drop in their laps.

Brandon was staring at the image on the screen, not really dumbfounded, but really blown away by the irony of everything. Their impromptu trip to earth was proving to be very fortuitous. They had started toward the blue planet because Eugene had lied about the moons of Jupiter and they had no place better to go. In the meantime, Brandon’s God had awoken, and tasked him with locating the one who had woken him. That person just so happened to be the person they had been trying to find on the space station in the first place, and now Brandon was watching him sitting with his friends.

He had briefly considered letting the other know that he had found Shorty, but he decided it was time to get the others out of his way, and he was sure Shorty fit into the plan. Cthulhu only wanted to know more about the Brevis, not anything else; if he decided to go further, that was his deal. So he figured that since Bart would be back soon, that would be a great time to make his move.

He wanted to speak to Shorty, find out more about him, what his goals were, etc. The others would just wind up killing him in their stupid, vain attempts to create some super soldier that they could easily create from their existing stock. They had access to vicious shape changers, demons, undead… why hunt down this one man because he had a supernatural fear of nothing? That was exactly why they always failed, because the shorties would rather die than be turned into a monster.

Unfortunately, while Brandon was watching Shorty, so was Marcus. The reluctant lich nearly jumped out of his desiccated skin when he saw him. He hit a button and shouted into the ship’s PA, “Holy Shit! We found him! He’s on Hawaii!! Get the tractor beam ready! Shit!”

In his room, Brandon’s face fell into his open palm. “God damn it.”

The crew of the Leviathan scrambled to get their massive tractor beam set up, and Bart just so happened to be arriving at the same time, and not waiting for approval to dock, so the crew was running around trying to get the tractor beam set, while making sure Bart’s ship docked without killing anyone or crashing the ship. As a result, when the beam grabbed Shorty, it also got Torch, Piper and Duke. The four were lifted through air and empty space into the waiting Leviathan.

Luck was on their side; right around the same time they arrived in the ship, and soldiers were preparing to capture them, the Short Leviathan locked into place, and an excited Bart opened the doors to the massive internal bay. Alien creatures, mostly predators, flooded out of the ship into the Leviathan.

Marcus shouted into the PA again, this time in a panic. “Bart! What the fuck are you doing?! We had the Shorty! SHIT!” Shorty recovered faster than anyone else. “Piper, zap them!” There were four guards; even if it had been Shorty alone that would have been inadequate. Piper shot bolts of electricity at two of the guards who immediately fell to the ground. Bert shot one, and Shorty jumped up and kicked the last one in the stomach. In a single fluid movement, he snatched the guard’s knife out of its scabbard, spun around and stuck it right in the base of the man’s skull. Before they had a chance to recover, he stomped on the neck of one of the immobilized guards, snapping it, and then jabbed the blade into the eye of the other. The others were shocked at his brutal efficiency.

He stripped their bodies of weaponry and started toward the door. Bert called after him. “What are you doing? Do you know what is on the other side?” Shorty shrugged. “The ship, probably. If this is who I think it is, we probably have the answer to where we can find a necromancer for Melvin.

 

Piper was already following Shorty through the door. Bert was shaking his head and walking after them. “He’s going to get me killed, I just know it…” he was mumbling to himself. He
realized that Shorty had already snagged all of the guns, leaving him with the assault rifle he had carried to Hawaii and nothing else. “Hey, Shorty! Can I have at least one pistol, please? Shorty?” He called. He had been so busy muttering that he had missed that Torch had hidden Shorty and Piper in his invisibility.

 

Seemingly out of the air in front of him, a pistol flew directly at his center chest. He caught it at the last second. “What the hell?” He heard Piper’s voice from just ahead. “Take my hand and shut up, Bert.” He stared confused at the empty space in front of him, and holstered the pistol. Then Piper said very slowly and deliberately, “Bert, hold out your hand.” He did, and then felt a firm grip on it. He started to shout and pull back when he heard Piper, in a more soothing, somewhat condescending voice say “It’s me, Bert. Torch can turn invisible, as well as the things he touches, so Shorty and I are going to move around invisibly. You are free to join us, or you can walk around plainly visible to everyone, it’s your choice.”

 

Bert, not liking the idea of being alone and exposed on the ship, stuck his open hand out. Piper grabbed it, and he held his breath as he started to fade from view. It was at that moment that they discovered the limit of Torch’s ability to share invisibility, because the bottom half of his left boot (and the lower part of his foot), his right elbow and the tip of his rifle barrel were all still visible. “Uh…” he began, when Shorty just whispered “Shut up. If we are quiet, I doubt too many people will notice.”

 

They started off into the interior of the ship, Bert trailing behind Piper like a frightened child being dragged by his mother.

 

Down below on the island of Hawaii, a very angry and heavily armed group of men and women were mobilizing, getting armed and armored and loading on to the Foie Gras to mount a rescue/attack on the Leviathan. LeDouche was angrily barking orders to Duke and his men, while Ned happily translated them through the tiny robot body he was currently inhabiting. They were going into battle, meaning Ned would likely once again be able to run around cutting and smashing things.

 

Melvin was armed with a recently found over-sized war-hammer the Hawaiians had kept as a decoration. The head of it was roughly the size of a watermelon, and the handle was as big around as a man’s forearm, but it did not look all that impressive in Melvin’s giant hands.

 

Henry was carrying 4 different sub machine guns and several pistols. (They were really light sub machine guns, though; this is the future after all) LeDouche had a sword on his hip and a really old-world looking machine gun. Duke and his men had various forms of gun and were wearing piecemeal armor, but seemed more than ready to risk getting shot to shoot someone themselves.

 

The crew, 15 in all, climbed onto the Foie Gras, ready to rescue the people that had been kidnapped. For the regular crew of the Foie Gras, they were off to once again rescue Shorty, only this time it was Shorty and 3 others (and Shorty never really seemed to need rescuing, per se.) For the Hawaiians, they were going to stand up for the living symbol of their salvation, not to mention the guy who actually saved them all from the SEAL tiger sharks.

 

No longer were any of the Hawaiians afraid; the only reason more weren’t going was because the Foie Gras could not accommodate more and remain nimble in a dog fight. LeDouche sat in his pilot’s chair, not having any intention of engaging anyone hand to hand, rather he would stay on the ship and harass the Leviathan from the outside (Not that they knew that was what the giant ship was called). Brandy was eager to use her guns and blades again, since the fight with the tiger sharks had left her more than a little blood-thirsty.

 

The disappointed Hawaiians (disappointed because they could not go on the attack) waved as the blade-covered ship lifted off the ground and then shot off into the sky. Brandy’s voice chimed over the ship’s PA system. “For those of you just joining us for your first flight, your captain, LeDouche LeFleur, welcomes you aboard. You will find a full supply of complimentary drinks and snacks, however since we are entering into combat; the liquor cabinet has been locked.”

 

There was a loud, whiny “Ohh!” from some of the Hawaiians. Brandy admonished. “Now, now… It will be unlocked for the survivors of the return trip, and you never know, the other ship may have a full bar as well. Keep in mind, however, that scans and past experience show that it is populated with werewolves, undead and other monsters, so imbibing alcohol may be inadvisable. Please be patient, and survive and we can all have a pleasant trip back to earth.”

 

The ship quickly cleared the thick cloud cover over the big island of Hawaii, and as these things tend to happen in works of fiction, the clouds were starting to clear, showing the blue Hawaiian sky for the first time in a decade. It was overwhelming for those on the Foie Gras; they had grown up hoping to one day see a blue sky again, never expecting to see the stratosphere at eye level, or to see the surface of the earth fall away below them as they rocketed up after the fleeing Leviathan. They felt a bit of their bluster leave when the ship came into view. And came into view some more. And continued to come into view until they could see it was the size of a small moon.

 

“Holy shit… That thing is filled with monsters?” one of them asked. Ned responded first, in the form of a little robot that looked like one of those little dancing robots they made over in Japan for a while, only more articulated and less dancy. “Ohhhh YEAH! We’re gonna fucking kill ‘em too. Yeah!” His enthusiasm was not infectious among the Hawaiians, but for the crew of the Foie Gras, they were anxious to get some pay back against the people who kidnapped their friends and ruined their previous livelihood some weeks before.

 

Ned just really wanted to kill something, and from his place around Melvin’s neck, he knew he was pretty likely to find something to murder in a brutal fashion.

 

Brandon watched the approaching ship as it closed in. They could have easily vaporized the smaller ship in an instant, with a single button push. But that didn’t work for Brandon or his plans. There was much confusion on the Leviathan. Ever since the Short Leviathan had docked and opened its doors, alien creatures, either predators or dangerous herbivores, were running amok on the bigger ship creating mass confusion, and the shorty and his friends had just disappeared.

 

So with all of the eyes turned inward, Brandon made an executive decision to turn his back on the others for good. And let Eugene take the fall if it didn’t work. The newly undead zombie king, and faithful of Cthulhu was at that moment sneaking into the helm room of the Leviathan, where the few ghouls left in charge were watching with fascination as the creatures tore through the ship. Eugene had suffered greatly for his sacrifice; he simultaneously took on the mantle as a priest of Cthulhu and shed that of a J&J Witness.

 

Abandoning his old god resulted in a deific ass-kicking. He lost all of his abilities, his robes dissolved and his club card burst into flames. On the other hand, he got a cool new green robe, a bog mace for smashing things, and was now a Cthulhu-blessed zombie king that did not have to worry about the snot-rotting that Reginald went through with his transition. And, he could make not only zombies, but ghouls, and zombies with tentacles. It was pretty cool.  His first act to show his loyalty was to sneak into the helm room and kill all external surveillance.

 

He had access to new powers he never imagined before, new spells that beat the shit out of applying salve and healing people. He decided to make his first live run a good one. He quietly chanted the words to an incantation that spread into his mind naturally, without any real thought on his part. Two of the ghouls were placing bets on whether or not a werewolf was going to get away from a large black creature with six legs and a lot of teeth when the room suddenly filled with a thick, pea soup green fog. Eugene clenched his fist, and the mist coalesced into tentacles around each of the ghouls.

 

The tentacles immediately wrapped around each of the undead men and crushed them into disgusting piles of goo and dust. Eugene smiled and clapped his hands. The sentries were all dead, so he had a relatively easy job. He followed Brandon’s instructions as the tentacles drifted away into nothingness, and all of the monitors watching the exterior of the ship were channeling satellites orbiting Neptune, showing nothing more than a bunch of blue, and would only show that for the next 48 hours, no matter what anyone did.

 

He wasn’t quite in the loop on why Brandon wanted this done, and probably would not have handled things exactly the same way when he had known it was the people he abandoned on Alderaan he had just opened the front door and rolled out the welcome mat for.

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