Shorty stood on the aft of the boat and watched as R’Lyeh faded from sight over the horizon. They had been dogged the entire trip out of the fjord by deep ones, elder things and other creatures, but thanks to the boat’s (called the Sea Sprit. The “E” had been missing since it was built, and fisherman’s superstitions prevented them from renaming it) amazing navigating and powerful engines, they made it out unscathed. When they slowed down some miles out, a few deep ones tried to sneak aboard the ship, but Torch anticipated that kind of thing and was waiting to fry any body part that emerged from the waves.
Fortunately, the smell of burned fish was miles behind them. Once Shorty was satisfied they had left danger behind, he decided he needed to take care of that personality in the ships computer. After a day or two of listening to that, he would probably beg Torch to burn a hole through his head.
“Yar! There ye be, tiny cap’n!” Chimed the computer when he walked into the bridge. Shorty tersely held his hand up. “Talk as little as you can. I need to know how to switch your appearance and personality before I lose my shit and sink you to the bottom of the sea.”
“Arr! ‘Tis a simple task, ye bloke! First, navigate yer cursor to yon start menu!” A small pad slid out of a compartment with a computer mouse sitting on top of it. Shorty blew out a long sigh. “Holy god… You aren’t even consistent….”
“Now, select the ‘Accessories’ menu, click ‘Personality’ and then ‘Options’ argh!”
Shorty scrolled through the options and found a few that sounded interesting. As he selected options, Sea Sprit cycled through several dialogs.
“Arr, ye want to select a”
“a única opção e aplica-se”
“αυτό πριν από να ανακυκλώσει κατευθείαν”
“for me otherwise… Jesus Christ…”
What Shorty settled on was a very dapper, Victorian English fellow with a silky smooth, albeit snotty, voice and projected a calming air of authority. Oddly, the 3d image of the computer was stuck halfway between the old sea dog and the dapper gentleman, so he wore a top hat, had a pencil thin mustache and monocle, mixed with the squinty eye, unshaven beard and striped shirt of the previous persona.
“Well, shit, I’m sure…” He drawled in a lazy British tone. Shorty smiled. “Much better.”
The face on the screen rolled its eyes. “Where would you like to go, sir?” he said, sounding incredibly bored with the whole thing.
“Didn’t you mention Hawaii before? Let’s go there” Shorty suggested. “I have no memory of that, sir. You cycled through the personalities too quickly, as I believe I was trying to explain, and some bits were lost in the process.”
“Well, let’s go there, then. Show me the Wikipedia page on Hawaii.” The Sea Sprit’s computer connected with the Earth’s satellite network and soon called up a page with text images and videos of the Island chain in the mid Pacific. An over-enthusiastic voice sprang out of the speakers and made Torch jump. Clearly the video was provided by people on Hawaii’s tourism board.
“Hello there, interested potential visitor to the Sovereign Co-dependent Subsidiary American Nation-State of Hawaii! The SCSANS of Hawaii would like to welcome you to its warm beaches”
Images of white and black sand beaches scrolled by with women in various states of disrobe walking or posing on them.
“Or visit Pele, also known as the Infernal Mouth of Hell since its eruption a century ago!”
The voice never lost an ounce of enthusiasm, and Shorty found himself wanting to visit those black sandy beaches and vast sugar and pineapple fields the video was so happy to go on and on and on (and on…) about. In all, it was 10 minutes of tourist-aimed propaganda, and it completely worked on the shorty and the dragon.
The video finished off with “…and the US Government, with the help of the Brevis’s crack units of Sea Air and Land forces, Hawaii has been sea-air-and-land tiger-shark free for almost half a decade!”
Shorty said. “I’m sold, Hawaii it is! I can try and find a way to get back to the others, and enjoy a delicious Mai-Tai on a black sand beach. Mai-Tais are like smoothies!”
Torch was ecstatic. “They said one of the islands had rare birds! They taste the best! And there is a lot of fruit. Shimmerdrakes love fruit!”
The Sea Sprit’s computer yawned, and in a very bored and unimpressed voice said. “The isles of Ha wah ee it is…”
The boat sped off north to the Island chain, blissfully unaware that the credits they skipped at the end of the video said it was dated 20 years prior, and things on the island nation-state had changed dramatically in the past two decades.
The Foie Gras was still several days’ travel away from Earth, not knowing when they would find either Shorty or a Necromancer. They knew the small man had to be on Earth, but Earth was a big planet, and there was no way to find him simply by scanning it or looking., They would have to ask around, and that could prove tedious; Shorty may have been a different breed, but they were pretty sure that mankind’s home-world had plenty of humans that were short.
Melvin had made fast friends with Henry and Bert, although Bert rubbed him and everyone else the wrong way; the man was simultaneously brave and a coward, it all depended on his mood. Melvin and Henry had started sharing a room, and no one thought to as the logistics of how a man that large and a woman that small managed to accomplish anything, and frankly, they didn’t think it was their business.
At one point, Bert figured he would “settle” for Piper, but she wasn’t having any of it. She was hardly desperate, and was not about to be settled for, especially since she was carrying a torch for Shorty and almost certain of his reciprocity. Bert was pretty typical of most of the men Piper met; she was pretty and certainly feminine, but being overweight had always been a problem; she was basically acceptable for a fat chick. She had more dignity than that.
She was one of the highest ranking priests of Skidds, so she figured she had proven her value to a God, why should she settle when it came to normal people? Shorty had seen her value, and she knew he genuinely liked her. That was huge, especially since he was a good looking (though small) man with a rock-hard body and no fear. Something about that confidence made him impossible not to think about.
So she was thinking about him and how much she missed having him near when she returned to her room to pray and get some sleep. The food wrappers and crumbs from her binge earlier were still scattered on her bed, and she just swept them on the floor. She was exhausted from playing a doubles match of Foosball with LeDouche against Henry and Melvin, who were both in amazing shape and more than a little competitive when it came to kid’s table top games.
Piper envied the two of them; not only had they found each other, they actually were together. Of course, there was the issue that if they didn’t find a necromancer to reverse the curse, Melvin would become very dead and very dangerous in the next several weeks. She sighed as she threw herself down on the bed. “Brandy, please lock my door.” She said, and the ship’s computer gladly complied. She undid her robes and stripped down to her underwear as she got ready to take a shower. She caught sight of herself in a mirror and stared for a moment. “He likes this?” She asked herself.
She decided to wait on the shower for a minute and prayed that she get some sort of guidance to where Shorty was, so that they could find him easier and fix Melvin, and then figure out what to do from there. AS expected, there was a faint aroma of fresh roasted coffee beans, and the warm comfortable feeling she always felt when in communion with her god.
But then there were images; images of burned bodies, throngs of monsters, and a giant beast full of anger. Nearby was Shorty, defiantly pissing off all of them, with fire dancing around him. Then she saw distinctly that he was on a boat, in the middle of the ocean. “Which one?” She thought. “The Pacific!” She exclaimed a second later. She suddenly realized that she had received a God-given vision of where Shorty was.
First the bounty of gift cards, and now this… Piper was beginning to believe her god had special plans for her. She practically skipped into the adjoining bathroom, now. Life was getting exciting, and they were getting closer to finding Shorty, and hopefully Melvin’s cure.
Marcus was once again angrily slouching in his throne, mumbling curse under his breath as Magnus further toyed with the Zombie king in making, Eugene. He was playing logic games with the dying man, ostensibly to question him the divine the whereabouts of Shorty, but in reality he was just fucking with the guy because Magnus was an arrogant dick who needed to constantly assert himself. “His dad probably called him ‘pussy’ all the time…” Stewed Marcus.
Magnus asked the following riddle:
“You are in a cube made out of steel. All you have is a piece of wood and a saw, how do you get out?” Magnus sat back slowly and smugly, a self-assured little smirk on his undead face. “Uh, cut a hole in the wall…”
Magnus shouted “No! How would one cut a steel box with a wood saw? Where would you start the hole? I didn’t say you had a sword or a blowtorch! I said you had a saw!”
Eugene struggled with it for many minutes. Even the other PEN members kind of felt for him; Magnus was in his asshole element today, and that assured them that he was just going to be an asshole to everyone, so why not have it be some ancillary character?
Magnus stopped him after a particularly painful theory involving his feces and spit. “I’ll explain. You take the saw and cut the wood in two, then put the pieces back together to make a ‘whole’, and then you walk through the hole.”
Eugene nodded dumbly, not really sure what this was all about or what it was going to accomplish. He had been feeling ill for days now, and could feel the zombie meat crawling around in his stomach.
Marcus interjected before the dumbfounded look could fully form on Eugene’s face. “You have got to be fucking kidding me… You’re the guy who freaked out over the spelling of donut! Just because the words sound the same doesn’t mean they have the same meaning!”
Magnus lifted his nose-hole to the incredulous Marcus. “It’s a play on words.” He said condescendingly. If he still had the blood to do so, Marcus’s face would have been bright red. “IT’S A FUCKING HOMOPHONE! They aren’t the same word! Word game or not, it’s fucking dumb! I don’t like Eugene any better than anyone else, but Jesus, you are making me want to be on his side! GOD!”
Brandon watched it all with more than a passing fascination. Marcus and Magnus provided the fertile land he needed to sow his seeds of discontent and water with his… water of chaos? Brandon he thought for quite some time that the PEN could use some restructuring, and it looked like the time was nigh. (His word, not ours) He steepled his fingers and hissed “Excellent…”
Melinda was skulking and glowering at the group. It was clear that although she enjoyed the power the PEN afforded her, she would be much happier without these idiots. He also figured Bart would be on his side; Brandon liked Bart and made it clear that he was willing to help Bart further any ends he wanted and the others treated him like an afterthought. So that was two allies. To be honest, that was the list he was interested in; Mickey and Reginald were dangerous idiotic psychopaths, Magnus and Marcus were too petty, and one was going to kill the other eventually.
Then there were Inigo and Vladimir, they did little more than watch these days, in fact Brandon wasn’t quite sure if they were even actually around. They may have really died and no one noticed. He reminded himself to check them later.
Then there was Arliss. Brandon figured he could control him easily enough. Since he was a vampire, he was pretty easy to keep in line; the universe was full of sons, plus Cthulhu had some really interesting blood rituals he could use to both enhance and control him.