Bart walked along down the long hallways of the Leviathan, a spring in his step. That was unusual for him since it had been a few decades since he actually had legs to walk with, and therefore have that spring. Things were going great; those were badgers that weren’t running for their lives were moving the beautifully glowing bioluminescent plants and sessile animals to various parts of the giant ship, decorating it gorgeously. Sure, there was some chaos, but that was good, it forced change.
He had played around and cast some spells for the first time since blowing himself up all those years before. He was heading toward a meeting chamber separate from the PEN’s traditional throne room. Melinda and Arliss had also been summoned, and Bart knew today things were going to change on the Leviathan, for better or worse. He assumed better; he had faith in Brandon since he wasn’t an idiot like the others, and with Melinda on his side, the others would not stand a chance; she was too big a bitch to be defeated.
Brandon had also mentioned that his man, Albert, had rigged the new skeletal robotic body that Bart was walking with to steal powers; when the hammer fell, he was going to try and snag Reginald’s summoning abilities before hopefully killing the undead booger forever. Even cheery Bart hated that sloppy creep.
When he walked into the room, he was met by curious looks from Melinda and Arliss, both very surprised to see Bart’s head attached to anything other than a glass tank with tiny arms. He smiled and tipped a nonexistent hat at them. On the other side of the room, Eugene, followed by a much more confident looking bucket boy Benny following after him. Melinda looked like she wanted to snap at someone, and Arliss was beginning to look like he was in over his head. Finally, Brandon walked in. He glanced over at Benny and nodded. The until-recently janitor smiled, looked at the others, and suddenly grew into his terrifying giant werewolf form.
Brandon wasted no time. “Things are changing. The PEN has been in its current form for many decades now, and it has become, let’s face it, fucking stupid. People like Marcus and Magnus work more against each other than anyone else, and Mickey and Reginald are just…. Retarded. And the others? Well, they don’t actually do anything, do they? If they didn’t occasionally leave their thrones, we would all be convinced they were no longer with us.” He walked around the room while he spoke.
“I mention all this because some things have changed recently. You have seen my friend Benny and you two, “he motioned to Melinda and Arliss, “are familiar with Eugene. Notice he isn’t a walking pile of rotting flesh, and Bart has a nice new body. You see, the Great Old One Cthulhu has risen, and with that, my powers have increased tenfold in a matter of days. I am tired of the stupidity that holds this group back, and wanted to extend an offer to join me in replacing or simply doing away with the current team.”
Melinda and Arliss suddenly grew very uneasy. “Don’t worry, you are free to not join me if you so choose, I just ask that you stay out of my way if you do. Neither of you are morons, so I am sure you understand why. That reason alone is why you are here in this room instead of out there with the others… Brandon stopped near one of the seats near Bart, opposite the others. He pulled out a seat and sat down. “We have captured the shorty, but he escaped shortly after being brought aboard, and we are making no moves to catch him. Also, a ship carrying his friends is approaching fast; the Blade ship that escaped at Alderaan, and we are not going to stop them from entering.”
Arliss dropped into his seat and Melinda stood up as tall as her short, squat form would allow. “Traitor!” She shouted. Brandon held up his hands in mock defense. “Ahh, but you wound me, my lady. Since you already think so low of me, I might as well let you in on a little secret about me.” Brandon dropped his hood revealing his perfectly healthy head. He smiled. “I am not dead, or undead. I am in fact, very much alive.”
Melinda was stunned, and Arliss started laughing and clapping. “Kick ass, man! You have had these people snowed from the beginning! Rock on, consider me signed up!” Brandon turned to Melinda and motioned her to sit. “Like I said, you aren’t morons. I have lived as long as I have by virtue of the sleeping Cthulhu’s power and my dedication to him. Sleeping Cthulhu. Now that he is awake, I am an order of magnitude more powerful than before. So, would you rather be on the side of the guy with God backing him, or the morons whose only agenda they have agreed upon in a century is stupid. We have everything we need to make soldiers like they want to with the shorty at our fingertips, and rather than just building them, they travel all over the known universe to try and capture one. They have exactly a 0 percent success rate, and have nearly eradicated the species for no reason…”
“Cthulhu is curious about this one and has order him not killed, merely watched. Stick with me, and we will see if we can get this guy to work on our side, or at least not against us. He survived Vhoorl, Cthulhu’s home planet, and R’Lyeh, Cthulhu’s home city. Not to mention, just before he was captured, he eradicated the tiger sharks that plagued the sea air and land around Hawaii; this is the kind of person you ally with, or avoid, not kill.”
Melinda chewed on the words, and what they meant, as Arliss sat and muttered loudly the possibilities if they focused on producing greater weapons and actually doing things instead of always sitting around discussing things and chasing hopeless dreams. The undead woman asked “What do I need to do?”
Brandon smiled at her. “For now? Absolutely nothing. Let this thing play out and just watch the fun from this room.” She sat back in her chair and folded her arms over her shriveled but corpulent chest. She would be on the winning team, regardless, it would seem.
Shorty and the others had managed to sneak past several guards and were penetrating deeper into the ship. His plan was to find where the leaders congregated and hopefully either intimidate them into acquiescence, or simply kill them all. Being that they were all powerful undead, that didn’t seem too plausible, but it beat waiting around, and he was sufficiently pissed off.
They stepped into a room that had an oddly glowing white floor with bands of aqua thrumming through it. They made it about halfway through the room when Piper noticed that where her hand met Shorty’s was suddenly visible. Also, so was Torch’s tail. Then pieces of all of them began to fade into view; Bert’s chest plate, Shorty’s guns, Torch’s wings and then Piper’s upper torso. She came fully into view when she let go of Bert and Shorty to cover herself before anyone got a glimpse, which caused Bert to also fully appear.
Torch realized something was somehow blocking his invisibility, so he simply let it go. Shorty was smiling. “If they have something that shuts down invisibility, it’s either some sort of weird other-worldly radiation that is going to kill all of us…” Everyone but Shorty gulped at that prospect, then he continued “or, they are protecting something important. I’m betting number 2.”
Suddenly, several chambers opened around the room, and werebadgers, all in their half-badger form, wielding everything from guns to swords, stepped out. Everyone but Shorty let out a quiet “Ooooh Shit.” Shorty just laughed and smiled. In the blink of an eye, he drew two pistols and fired in opposite directions. Two werebadgers dropped, bullets having gone right through an eye a piece. Now, the bullets weren’t silver, so the badgers would not have been down simply from the gunshots, but before they could recover, Torch was up and about, bravely flying past lycanthropes and setting them on fire. This proved to be a wonderful distraction.
You see, in our story’s universe, were-creatures can be killed by fire. Sure, they can heal from it, but they are very much like the werewolf in the movie Silver bullet; burn them in monster form and you burn them in human form, too. Use enough fire, and you have a dead monster on your hands. So the little shimmerdrake flew around, blazing flames at werebeasts while Bert shot at them repeatedly, scoring many hits and in general screwing up any semblance of organization they had.
Piper was casting a spell on Shorty and hoping like hell that the anti-invisibility field did nothing to screw up her call to her God. She prayed hard, calling on the same awesome kindness that had pointed her back to her Shorty to give him the speed and stamina needed to clear the room. Now, Shorty was fast, skilled and resourceful, even for one of his race, so he likely did not need the help. But he got it anyway, and that paid off huge. He continued to fire his guns until they were out of ammunition, trusting in Torch to burn the incapacitated monsters to death, a job which he completed admirably.
Shorty then drew a sword from one of the corpses. It was when he faced off against 3 werebadgers that he felt the warm infusion of coffee and maybe a hint of donut. He held his sword up in a salute, and then swung it down by his side. The werebadgers barely registered the movement.
He dove straight toward the center badger, striking its sword as hard as he could. The creature’s blade flew out wide, and it turned to try and spin away from the darting, diminutive soldier. All he accomplished was, for a split second, exposing his left side under his arm pit. To Shorty, however, in his enhanced state, he seemed to turn toward him and lift his vulnerable underarm, almost as a welcome to stab him. So he did, Shorty’s blade piercing into the space between two ribs in the monster’s side and pushing straight through his heart. The creature made a gurgling some and fell down a second later when Shorty withdrew his sword.
Luckily (for the good guys, anyway), the swords had silvered edges so that the werebadgers could defend against a possible werewolf uprising, should that ever occur. This wound up putting a very effective anti-lycanthrope weapon in the the very capable hands of the celerity-enhanced Shorty.
The other two, momentarily shaken by the swift demise of their friend launched into two separate series of elaborate attacks hoping one would make it through and injure the speedy shorty. But as one swung high, Shorty dropped down into a roll, right past the snarling, swinging creature. He stabbed straight up as he passed between its legs. He proved in that instant that while we may have already known that Wolf Man had nards, so did Badger Man. He managed to bury the blade a good foot into the creature’s crotch, effectively putting it out of the game, again, in a single blow.
The last one wasn’t taking any chances; he lifted the sword from one of his fallen companions and began an elaborate twin bladed routine. Even the speeding Shorty would have a hard time getting past the whirling wall of blades the werebadger presented. He was clearly very skilled an highly trained, his blades flashing in a dizzying array of cuts and weaves, Shorty zipped around him stabbing here, slashing there, trying to find a hole in the creature’s defense; it was amazingly good and he had no luck.
The fight carried on; Piper was zapping werebadgers, and Bert was shooting them as they convulsed with electricity, then Torch set them on fire. Soon, it was Shorty versus the last werebadger. Bert lined up a shot, Piper pointed her armored hand it him.
Now this is the point in an action movie where the protagonist tells his friends to back off while he faces off against the villain in single combat. Of course, by now, you should be aware that Shorty is nothing, if not practical. He shouted “Shoot him!” and the others did just that. Piper blasted the twin bladed badger with enough electricity to kill a bull, and Bert fired three shots into its chest. Shorty slapped both of its blades away, and landed a stab straight into the middle of his chest. The creature fell over, very dead.
They headed into the room beyond.
Now is probably a good time to explain one of the finer points of the undead type known as the “lich”. They are incredibly powerful wizards that decide that living forever is much better than dying and not continuing to make spells and discover things. This requires a great deal of forethought (except in the case of Marcus, where Magnus’s experiment to force the transformation on someone worked perfectly), including the creation of a phylactery, or storage vessel for the lich’s soul. These are typically gems or some other incredibly expensive thing, which then becomes almost indestructible, and makes the lich effectively death-proof, since as long as their phylactery is intact, they will always live. If their body is destroyed, they can inhabit a new one that comes into contact with their gem, but only if they are “dead” at the time.
Destroying the phylactery is like cutting the head off of a living person though, and is instantly fatal. This becomes important in a little while.
On the other side of the aqua glowing room was a small but elaborate chamber that hosted 4 large, beautiful gem stones with swirling colors in their depths. A large, glowing sign hung over them that said “Don’t touch. We should not have to tell you this, but seriously, leave them alone!” Shorty smiled. “These look important.” He said and proceeded to pick up all four and pocket them.
Little did he know that silent alarms sounded that alerted the four owners of the phylacteries (there they are!) that they were being disturbed. Shorty grinned and put them in his pocket “let’s get out of here and find the guys in charge, I think we have found a bargaining chip against them.
As they ran from the area, they entered a room filled with computer panels monitoring equipment, and large open furnaces with blue-white flame glowing in them. They were Inferno-Typhoon brand Drake Flame blast furnaces, an odd detail that will prove to be satisfyingly appropriate in a moment, trust us.
Shorty and the others ran straight through, when the first liches, Magnus and Marcus, arrived. “Drop those now, or be destroyed!” Marcus shouted; a noticeable edge of panic in his voice. The others hid behind Shorty as he gave the liches a condescending smirk and said “Why?”
Magnus stepped forward. “Those are artifacts of unspeakable power! They are the key to ours, and useless to you. It would take the breath of a dragon to destroy one, and any lesser attempt would only serve to make us more irate!”
Shorty removed one of the gems from his pocket and held it up high, looking at the light that passed through it. The swirling colors were hypnotic; Shorty could see how someone could be drawn into their depths easily, but along with being fearless there came a certain degree of cynicism that rendered shorties immune, conveniently for the plot, to any kind of hypnosis or charm.
He asked the two liches “Just how powerful and important are these?” Marcus stepped forward. “They are items of unspeakable power” Which got him cut off by Magnus when he interjected “I just said that.” Marcus stopped, counted to ten, sighed, and then continued “Unspeakable power which no mere mortal could possibly hope to understand! The power of a dragon’s flame is the only thing that could harm them, but there are no dragons of any kind for millions of miles! Those gems would destroy you and your mind the moment you tried to AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” Came the anguished scream as Shorty shrugged and casually tossed the gem he was holding into one of the nearby furnaces.
Marcus shriveled, his hand’s formed claws in front of him as he futilely tried to hold onto his undeath, then he desiccated and turned into dust, then crumbled to the floor. His soul took form and rose, burning out of the furnace. Everyone thought as he reached for Shorty, that he was trying to use his last few seconds on the mortal plane to get the one who killed him, when instead he reached into Shorty’s pocket and extracted another gem, this one red. His fading spirit looked at Magnus and shouted “Fuck you, you asshole, this is your fucking fault!” It tossed the gem at the same furnace that had killed Marcus.
In the blink of an eye, a steel wall appeared right where gem was sailing and it bounced off missing furnace and landing back at Shorty’s feet. Marcus’s fading voice could be heard trailing off “Shhiiiiiiiitttttt!!!!” Shorty scooped up the gem and tossed it up to Torch and the group turned and fled the terrified and enraged lich.
Elsewhere, Inigo and Vladimir, the remaining two liches, who haven’t done anything so you probably don’t remember them, got up and headed with all haste toward Shorty, sensing that their phylacteries, and therefore their existence, was in danger.
They ran back the way they came, with Magnus chasing after them. “You may as well give those to me, you can’t get back to the furnace room, and there is no other way for you to destroy them! You will only succeed in enraging me further!” Then he spoke some arcane words and a fireball erupted from a wand in his hand, and sped toward the group. Piper chanted a quick prayer, one she was not consciously familiar with, and pointed back behind the group. A gout of super-cooled espresso erupted from her fingertips and intercepted the flames, snuffing them out in a burst of coffee flavored steam.
Shorty paused a second. “Cool! How long have you been able to do that?” Piper shrugged as she ran past “Just now!” Shorty pondered it for half a second, then saw the approaching necromancer and just shrugged himself, and ran after the others. Magnus was quickly losing his typical composure, knowing that if Shorty and the others found anything like the furnaces, he was in trouble. He silently called for the other liches, and heard responses from Inigo and Vlad, but Melinda was notably absent. He was not surprised at all since she had insisted on keeping her phylactery hidden from everyone, and he didn’t care for Bart so he had never bothered to find its whereabouts, and it had been forbidden from the collective storage since the rest of the liches collectively thought he was stupid.
Shorty, Bert, Piper and Torch all ran into a large open room that reminded them of the anti-invisibility room they had encountered earlier. Magnus was coming up the rear and out of the walls in front of them stepped the surprised looking Vladimir and a very angry and frightened looking Inigo. Out of the surrounding tunnels came several werebadgers and werewolves. One of the badgers had white hair and was speaking to the others, telling them to hold back.
They were surrounded on all sides, with three liches and an army of thirty or so werebeasts blocking all of the exits. Brandon was watching on a monitor and slammed his hand down on the console. “Damn it!” He was so close; he wanted to speak to Shorty, and let him go. Cthulhu wanted him around for some reason, and he was not going to argue with his god. But how would they get out of this predicament? They were very clearly painted into a corner.
Then he heard a very familiar voice come from one of the werebadgers before anyone else could speak “Rrrrrrrr…. I have something to take care of this…….Rrrrrrr….” Brandon stood and pumped his fist in the air. “That guy is getting a raise!”
Shorty and his friends held fast, expecting the worst as the strange werebadger pulled a small metal box out of his pocket. Everyone wondered what it did, since most of them knew Albert was a gifted inventor, but they did not know his loyalties lay with Brandon. It was the GITM. Albert looked at the four in the middle of the room, winked and cryptically whispered “Don’t worry, it’s a plot device.” and then spoke the command words, “Deus Ex Machina, Genesis!” And several very odd things happened at once.
LeDouche had originally approached the massive Leviathan cautiously, but soon realized that no one was watching their approach. He could see the massive cannons, some of which could fire rounds as big as the Foie Gras, but they had been quiet. There was no reason to not shoot them out of the sky, er, space, unless they just didn’t see them. “Shorteh must beh caw’sing som ‘avoc in thare!” LeDouche chuckled to himself, figuring his small friend was the cause of all the commotion. Who could blame him? He had blown up an island and wiped out a species just the day before.
Rather than bothering with a frontal assault of any kind against the behemoth ship, and looked for a dock. They found one next to another ship that appeared to be almost as big as the space station where they all met. Inside, they could see the cause of the commotion. Large robots and robotic vehicles calmly walked around carrying all sorts of glowing plants, while monstrous alien creatures flew, climbed and ran about attacking ghouls and werebeasts within.
“Weh aare abote to dock, prepair to debark and Ah well mete yoo back later.” Said LeDouche over the PA. Brandy easily docked with the giant ship, and opened the interior bay doors. In a cheery voice she said “Please watch your step as you leave the ship, and please return safely and alive. Bye!”
Just before the group walked off the ship, Ned’s tiny robot ran ahead of everyone screaming “YYAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” its minute fist held up in a triumphant pose as it disappeared into the ship. Melvin shook his head and the face that was Ned said “What? I love my job, what can I say?” Henry had two sub machine guns ready, looking every bit the part of a comic book character, while Duke and the other Hawaiians looked around nervously, suddenly, secretly wishing they had been cowards. Tiger sharks didn’t seem so bad now.
The interior of the Leviathan was lush; the floors were made of patterned slabs of alabaster and marble, the walls of exotic woods, modern fibers and, well, more stone. It was actually quite breathtaking and beautiful, but that was broken by piles of dirt with exotic glowing plants growing from them, streaks of blood, and lots and lots of dead things. Melvin and Henry charged forward, undaunted. Duke tried to raise morale. “Remember men! And ladies. We are here to try and rescue the man who rescued us from oppression! And danger! And sharks!”
One Hawaiian raised their hand and said “Um… We could have probably done without the ‘try’, Duke.” Duke simply glared at him and continued on. “Shorty came and freed us, so the least we can do is get him out of here. The danger is relatively similar to what we have dealt with for a decade. The worst that can happen is that you get eaten!” Two of his volunteers started to turn and run back up into the Foie Gras, but it had already undocked and flown out of the docking bay. One of them began to cry softly. Duke pointed his hand into the darkened ship. “Onward!”
They had to run to catch up with Henry and Melvin. They crossed a threshold into a cleaner section of the ship, only to find a mass of zombies shuffling toward them. They were wearing poorly fitted uniforms similar to the ones they had previously seen the werebeasts wearing, giving the impression that these zombies were dressed after the fact, which really seemed like more work than it was worth.
Henry surprised everyone by firing first; the small woman had not really participated in any conflicts since she had met the rest of the group, so they were surprised to see how amazingly accurate she was with the guns. She ran toward the shuffling mob and opened fire, sweeping both guns across in front of her. She managed to fire a perfect plane across the zombies, killing easily 10 of them in one sweep as the bullets passed through head-level. Some of the taller ones were only hit in the throat, but they were off to a good start. She was more conservative from then on, firing bursts at the faces of the shambling zombies, more often than not scoring fatal hits. Duke’s men (and women) were frantically firing at the advancing crowd, but gaining confidence as they repeatedly scored headshots that dropped zombies in their tracks.
In front of it all was Melvin, feeling great from his recent dose of the golden liquid Clem had given him, and filled with the kind of joy only a Dozer could know while punching and smashing the skulls of zombies with his hammer and armored fists. As one would come near, he would slam the giant hammer head down on top of their skull, crushing out the brain like the pink stuff in a watermelon. Next he would throw a punch that would cave in the face of the next. When he would look over at Henry, he kept strong the hope that they would walk away unscathed, because he desperately wanted to grow old with that woman.
After several minutes, the room was filled with dead zombies. Really dead zombies. The floor was slick with brains and zombie blood, and Melvin was beginning to feel weird. He was starting to realize that the exposure to zombies was beginning to negate the effects of Clem’s elixir. “Oh shit…” He said, showing the same honesty and atypical character forthcomingness he showed earlier when he announced he was bitten in the first place. “I think the exposure to the zombies is beginning to negate the effects of Clem’s elixir.”
Henry had just finished reloading her guns. Her face fell “Oh no…” She said. She ran over to Melvin and wrapped him in as big a hug as she could muster. “Please don’t…” She whispered. He gave her a squeeze and pushed her back so she could look at him. “Don’t worry about me; I haven’t lasted this long only to be killed by some stupid zombies from, like, 11 chapters ago.”
Duke’s men were confused. Suddenly, Melvin and Henry realized they had forgotten to mention Melvin’s condition to their new friends. “Uhmm… This is a little awkward… You see, Melvin was bitten by a zombie several weeks ago. Actually, it was many zombies.”
Duke and his Hawaiians stepped back. “Don’t worry!” Said Ned. “He has a potion that holds the effects of zombiism at bay!” his little robot chirped happily. “Although he did say all of these zombies were making it worse.”
Henry’s face fell into her open palm while Melvin gave Ned a small slap. That disconcerted the robot face just long enough for the small robot he commanded to fall over, as if it was unconscious. Again, Duke’s men seemed demoralized, and Henry, Melvin, and Duke were wondering what the point was in bringing them along at all. Plus, there was the little issue that they had no idea of how to find Shorty.
LeDouche flew the Foie Gras around the outside of the Leviathan, looking for an opportunity to shoot something and hopefully help turn the tide, if indeed there was a tide to be turned, for his friends inside the monolithic craft.
He passed by a glass dome covering a room, and saw something that surprised even the worldly LeDouche.
Shorty, Piper, Torch and Bert all stood in the middle of the huge domed room, oblivious to the fact that just outside was LeDouche, who was, in turn, oblivious to the fact that Shorty, Piper, Torch and Bert were the three, no wait, four small figures he saw in the large domed room. He was also oblivious to the fact that the small glint he saw was Albert the werebadger tossing a small silver box onto the ground in front of them. It was a small machine in a box; kind of a jack in the box, only much much MUCH more.
It was the GITM, the God in the Machine, and when it finished its little song and, well, song routine, what happened next obscured the room from LeDouche with a veil of, or rather a wall of, green. The head of the might great old one Cthulhu appeared in the room.
Now, while Shorty did not feel fear, he did feel remorse, and he felt it very keenly in that moment, because he knew all of this was because of him. If he weren’t a Shorty, these people would not have been after him, and Piper, Bert, Henry, LeDouche, Brandy and Melvin would not have had to endure any of what they had been put through if not for him. He wasn’t worried about Ned, he seemed to enjoy the whole damn thing, and even now, Torch seemed better off being off of R’Lyeh. Accepting that none of this would end for his friends if he was still around them, he stepped forward, readied one of his guns, and was prepared to face Cthulhu head on, when something unexpected happened. (Even more unexpected than the sudden appearance of a God head just before being killed by other monsters).
The old one’s facial tentacles snaked and wormed around the room until each one had grabbed a werebadger, Albert (his faithful) excluded. In a single, sickening second, he crushed all of them into disgusting smelly piles of dead creature organs and blood. Now, while it is true that Cthulhu is not made of silver, so you might be thinking that the werebeasts were all right. Nope. Let’s just say that when a God crushes someone with the intent of killing them, they stay dead.
As quickly as he appeared, Cthulhu disappeared, and the room returned to “normal”, except that there was a very smug looking werebadger standing amongst the remains on 30 of his fellows, and 3 very angry, scared looking liches watching the small group at the center of the room. Unfortunately, they were still surrounded by the most powerful undead in the known universe, and they were all clearly pissed at the loss of 30 plus elite soldiers. On the plus side, they actually got to see Magnus lose his shit.
“What the fuck is all this then?! Who summoned a fucking monster to kill all of our fucking soldiers!?” He grabbed his collar, where he obviously had a speaker or something for speaking with the other members of the PEN. “Who the fuck summoned that thing? Reginald? Was it you? I’ll nail your rotting balls to the wall for that!”
Just about then, without anyone’s knowledge, Bart stepped into the room with his new body. It had been enchanted by Brandon, with some help from Alriss and Melinda. He smiled and held his hands out just as Vladimir, his wide eyes and wild hair showing his panic even when he wasn’t panicking, to smite the fools in the center of the room with lightning bolts. As the magic began to leave his fingers, it was drawn toward Bart. Inigo, too, felt weaker. Both looked at their hands as if they would find some answer there. Magnus shouted at them. “You two fucks have been sitting around doing NOTHING for decades now! It’s about time you got off your shriveled, dried up asses and did something around he–AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” His voice trailed off into nothing as he turned to dust and collapsed inward.
While he was busy shouting at the others, Torch had been pondering the whole “Dragon’s fire” thing with the phylacteries, when it occurred to him that the Shimmerdrakes were nothing more than small, crow sized dragons, and damn it all if he didn’t have record breakingly powerful flaming breath. So he blew a flame, the hottest he could muster at the gem he had been carrying. Aside from some powder, a hole burned into the floor, and the last lingering echoes of Magnus’s screams, there was no evidence that there had been a powerful undead creature standing where the pile of dust in Magnus’s robes now lay.
Shorty and Piper smiled at Torch, and Bert was just shaking his head, still completely terrified beyond all capacity for rational thought after seeing the head of the maddening Cthulhu. They now had a quick, powerful weapon against the remaining two liches. They caught a glimpse of Bart as he waved, then walked away. Inigo and Vladimir prepared to launch spells at the group; Inigo a death ray and Vlad was going to call his lightning zombies and fire skeletons. Unfortunately for him, they were now under Bart’s command, and the most effective death ray Inigo could create would be to write the words “Death ray” on a knife and stab something with it.
In case it wasn’t crystal clear, Bart had been enchanted to steal their powers.
Shorty was just about to get out the remaining two gems for Torch to destroy when they heard a loud moaning coming from several of the hallways that led into the domed room. “Oh shit…” Groaned Bert and the group ran down the one hall that did not seem to have a mob of zombies running down it.
Vlad and Inigo turned to try and run through the walls behind them, as their licherous powers would have previously allowed them to do, but they were somewhat dense for undead necromancers, and ran face first into unmoving steel and wood paneling. They looked at each other, confused, not quite realizing yet that Bart had not just taken some spells or foiled their attack, he had stolen their powers entirely, and now they were little more than intelligent zombies.
Bart was walking along, whistling to himself when he felt something strange; he had stopped walking, despite the fact he was still whistling. Suddenly, his hands reached up and started feeling around his torso, feeling his pockets, and then finally, feeling his head, as if his body was unsure why it was there.
He then started a slow trot, right into a wall. “What the hell?” He shouted after the third attempt to walk face first through the wall. Something was controlling his new robotic body.
We bet you didn’t see this coming. (That was sarcasm, by the way) Just 200 feet down the hall from Bart, Ned was bitching to Melvin that he had found a robot body, but that it seemed to be missing a head, because he could neither see nor hear anything. There felt like a head was at the top of the neck, but it was not providing any information to him.
Melvin picked up the pace, trying to get to the source of Ned’s confusion, if for no other reason than to find out what it was and shut the talking robot face up. He was more than a little surprised to see a shriveled, emaciated head on what appeared to be a robed metal skeleton, walking face first into the wall and swearing.
Now, several things we set up earlier came to together at this point. Here we had a necromancer, an incredibly powerful one now thanks to some fancy spell-work and a new robotic body, a robotic face that can control robots wirelessly, and a man in dire need of a necromancer to purge the awful zombie curse coursing through his veins.
Ned stopped walking the body into the wall when he saw it, at which point Bart breathed out “Oh thank Christ!” He then looked over and saw a giant man with a giant hammer, a small (well armed and armored) woman, and a group of men (and women) with guns. He wanted to smite them all with a powerful spell, or summon some of those awesome lightning eyed zombies, but Ned had complete control over his body.
Melvin cut right to the chase. “Are you one of the necromancers that run this place?” Bart thought about clamping a hand over his mouth, but he didn’t have control of his hands. Before he could formulate a lie, Ned suddenly shouted “Hey, this guy has spells and shit stored in him! Check this out!” Bart’s body’s hand pointed to the right suddenly, and fired a black bolt that caused the wood paneling to shrivel and fall from the wall. “Hey, stop that!” Bart shouted. Melvin chuckled. “Ned, how about putting that finger up his nose. Then try that spell again.”
The body’s arm bent and stuck its index finger into Bart’s nose hole. In a calm voice, the lich head said “What can I do to assist you?”
Melvin and Henry explained Melvin’s predicament to Bart, who listened thoughtfully. “I will need my body to cast the appropriate spell…” Melvin held up a hand. “Sorry, but I don’t trust you. Explain what needs to happen to Ned, and he will do it. And if you screw us, Henry here will shoot your head into pieces and dump them out into space.” Henry cocked a gun and pointed it at Bart’s face. The lich gulped. “Gotcha. But once we are done, I am free to go?”
Melvin thought about it for a second. “Once we are done and we” he gestured to everyone “are safely away from you, then yes, Ned will let you go.” Ned made a pouting noise. Bart thought for a second, and then tried to nod, decided that would not work, then said “Okay, I will do it. No tricks.”
It seemed to take forever, but eventually, Ned got the right gestures to go along with Bart’s incantations, and then the lich had him remove a small bottle from pone of his pockets. “This is bee royal jelly. Honey bee royal jelly. Rub it on your forehead and neck, and once the casting is complete, you will be immune to zombie infections from now until forever.”
Melvin looked skeptically at the dead head. Bart was incredulous. “What? If I wanted to screw you, I could have done it already, and what do I have to gain from it? I just stole all of the powers from two powerful other liches and I would really like to be on with experimenting with them. Rub the damn jelly on yourself and let’s get this over with.”
Melvin hesitated, looked to Henry, who looked skeptical, but decided the head was telling the truth, and nodded encouragingly. Melvin rubbed the goo all over his face and neck. He felt a tingle, and his face began to flush as heat spread through his body. He gasped and fell to his knees. Bart shouted “Ha! Got you sucker!”
Henry pointed two guns at his face, and the head laughed. ‘Just kidding! Just kidding, he is fine, watch. he will barf up the zombie toxins, and then he will be much better.” True to Bart’s word, Melvin did an amazing amount of vomiting; it was really disgusting, and most of the Hawaiians gave him some privacy, mostly to avoid puking themselves.
It took a good three minutes of near continuous projectile vomiting, with intermittent gasps for air before Melvin could finally get up, but he had to admit, he felt much much better. Bart looked at him somewhat smugly, but pretty damn happy with his success. “See? Now may we part ways?”
Melvin staggered, nearly fell over, and then nodded. Henry handed him a bottle of water, which he used to clean out his mouth. He patted Bart’s robot body on the shoulder and said “That really sucked, but thanks. I owe you one.” Bart smiled. “Good. Now please go away, I would like to report back to my boss on my success. Oh, and if you are looking for the shorty, he is 3 decks away. Don’t worry, our plans have changed, and killing him in some dumb attempt to make a monster is no longer part of them.”
The group was still skeptical of Bart’s motivations, but since he did just cure Melvin (as far as they knew), they decided to trust him. They skirted the giant pool of Dozer spew and started off to find their friends.
By a really convenient coincidence, Shorty and friends were running in exactly the direction needed to meet Melvin and crew halfway. This also had the fortuitous chance of being near a docking bay, where LeDouche had pulled in because he wanted to know what the fuck that big green thing was in the dome and if his friends. who could not communicate with him through the ship, were alright.
Zombies were closing in from all sides. In the middle of it all, the two groups met. They exchanged little more than relieved nods when they met up, with Henry happily boasting that Melvin was cured forever. It seemed like everything had worked out; they were all together, Melvin cured, Shorty no longer being chased, except that there were thousands of moaning walking dead people hungry for their flesh bearing down on them.
Shorty chuckled and said “Ahh, fuck it. Bring it on.” and tossed the two remaining gems onto the floor. Torch sucked in a breath and readied a blast of hot fury.
Then all of the zombies stopped right where they were. A group materialized in front of them; a tall man in black and green tentacled robes, a really awful looking fat lady lich, a pale guy who looked like an 80’s rocker, Bart, and the obviously converted J&J Witness.
Brandon stepped forward. “Hello, my friends. On the behalf of the remaining members of the PEN, leaders of the CEN, I offer my heartfelt apologies for all the troubles we have caused you. You see, this organization has undergone some restructuring since it was previously run mostly by morons, which you all have happily disposed of for us, with a few exceptions. Shimmerdrake, is it?” He said to the gasping Torch (he had been holding his breath) Torch nodded while gulping air. “Would you kindly destroy those two gems?”
The little dragon shrugged and then blew a white hot blast on both gems. From the distance, everyone heard a faint “AHHHHHHHHH!!!!” as Inigo and Vlad ceased to be. “There are two left, who the rest of us would really like to see done away with, but we can handle that ourselves. I wanted to personally let you know that my god, the Great and Powerful Cthulhu, requested that Shorty be watched, but not molested. Waking him early seems to have piqued his interest in you, Brevis, although I currently have no idea why. Suffice to say, I don’t argue with or question my god’s motives, I am simply an extension of his being.” he finished by bowing to Piper, knowing she too was a priest.
The entire group looked at them with the same skepticism Melvin and the others had held when Bart was curing him. Brandon smiled. “I understand your mistrust, but if we wanted to screw you, we have more than the means to do so.’ At that they all started to relax.
Just then, LeDouche ran up the hall, sword in hand, ready to die with his friends, and really happy he had found them. He charged through them, sword high, and then stopped, confused. “Whet is all theese then?”
Shorty patted the skinny space-Frenchman on the shoulder. “They are letting us go.” LeDouche let out an exaggerated “Whaaat?!” But when he looked around at the thousands of not-attacking cadavers and the cluster of clearly evil folk just standing there, he began to believe the situation wasn’t dire.
Shorty stepped forward and picked up Torch. “Just to double check, we are free to go, and an evil god of chaos wants you to watch over me?”
Brandon nodded. “For now.”
Shorty shrugged. “I guess that is as good as it gets.” He spun on his heel and started past the group toward the ship, taking Piper by the hand, and placing Torch on his shoulder. The others followed in tow, and they all loaded into the Foie Gras. Brandy greeted them all “Hey! You all made it, great! Open bar everyone!”
A loud cheer erupted from the group as the Foie Gras, on autopilot (Brandy), lifted away from the dock in the Leviathan and flew off back to Hawaii. Two people were notably absent from the group, Piper and Shorty, saying they had some unfinished business to clear up.