Shorty 1.0 Chapter 9: The Parable of Sea Air and Land (Tiger)Shark

Listen my children, and you will hear

a tale of whoa, slathered with fear.

It was on these Isles, just 2 decades hence,

When the sharks rose up and jumped the fence.

They learned to walk, to fly to swim!

It was as if God had an evil whim,

They ate everyone from mansions to trailer parks,

I’m talking ‘bout the Sea Air and Land tigersharks.

They swarmed the beaches, mountains, malls,

They bit off heads and snacked on bal-… Overalls.

The tigersharks made their feasting lair,

On Sea, under Land and in the Air

These vicious predators, they devoured and ate,

they made us chum, they made us bait.

The leaders, they tried to free our isle,

Using weapons of materials fissile.

They sent their weapons in tens and twos,

From rockets and airplanes and missiles of cruise.

But though they blasted and though they blew,

Our land was still tiger-sharked, and those tiger sharks flew.

Terror was closing, our end was nigh,

But a great provider fell from the sky.

They called them the Brevis, and they were small,

But their bravery was huge and very tall.

They came and attacked, they flew many sorties,

We called them our new saviors shorties.

They showed no jitters, no terror, or fear,

they stabbed and they shot the sharks from here.

Their bravery was legendary, their timing perfect,

They drove off the Tiger sharks … Their timing was still perfect.

Times were good, we honored the short,

But they had to leave, their time was. Also short (godamnit…)

And in their wake, they left us happy,

Because the tiger sharks were gone, and things less crappy.

And so we were free, We hosted an Icecapade,

But the peace only lasted a single decade.

For the shorties were gone, but the tiger sharks lurked there,

And then returned to the sea, and the land and the air.

As the preceding parable implied, the SEAL Tiger sharks returned to Hawaii. With the decline of the shorty’s numbers, there was little resistance to the second attack, and the US government resorted to nuking the islands. They look a lot like the Road Warrior now. The landscape, that is, not Mel Gibson. (Although it’s pretty crazy!… We’re sorry:(  )

The Sea Sprit informed Torch and Shorty that they were nearing the big island of Hawaii, and the two grew very excite. After several days on the boat, they were bored, hungry and ready to be on dry land. Torch could barely contain his excitement; he had tried to catch fish a few times, but he didn’t have any more luck on Earth than he did on Vhoorl; the fish (and jellyfish, and squid, and a whale) here kept trying to eat him, too. He was really looking forward to having some fruit or birds, and Shorty was hoping they could have something other than the beef jerky and limes which seemed to be the only “food” on the entire ship.

They rounded a cliff, and their anticipation grew. Shorty could see the black sand beach, the surf slapping against it gently. Torch almost believed he could smell fresh pineapples. The Sprit pulled up near the beach as close as it could get without bottoming out, and Shorty and Torch took a dingy the rest of the way there.

They pulled up, debarked, and ran up the smooth black beach about halfway before Shorty threw himself down and basked on the warm, soft sand. He rolled over a few times while Torch danced nearby. “Hey! Shorty! Food!” the little dragon shouted. Shorty groaned and sat up, As much fun as he was having, he could not argue with the shimmerdrake; both of their stomachs had been growling the entire boat ride in.

They walked the rest of the way up the beach and around an outcropping of rock. They expected to see fields of pineapple bushes, or sugar cane, or a sprawling tropical city. What they saw instead, was a twisted, ravaged landscape of burned trees and cars, shattered buildings and skeletons everywhere.

“Well, fuck me…” Shorty snapped. Torch laded on the hood of a nearby car. “This sucks. I am so hungry…”

“So hungry what?” Shorty asked.

“What do you mean?” Replied Torch.

“You said, ‘I am so hungry’ and I said what. What would you do if given the opportunity to eat?” Shorty was getting edgy, as you can see.

“I was just using it to imply exaggeration. Lots of people talk like that…” He defended.

Shorty shrugged. “Bad excuse. Lots of people are morons.”

Torch just shook his head and flew up into the air to find food. A second later, there was a shot in the air. Torch shot back down to join Shorty, and the small man drew a pistol. “What in hell was that?” The little dragon asked. “No idea.” Said Shorty. “Wait, look at that!” What they saw astounded them, it was a 16 foot long tiger shark, but for some reason it was sailing through the sky. Another shot rang out, and another. The sides of the creature exploded with blood, and the monster crashed into the car Shorty and Torch were hiding behind.

Shortly blinked and then looked again, to make sure his eyes were playing with him. “Was that thing… flying?” Torch nodded “Sort of, I think it was swimming through the air.” Shorty nodded thoughtfully. Then they heard a sound in the brush nearby, Shorty pointed his pistol at it, ready to fire. A shark, this one easily nine feet long, was slithering out of the underbrush.  “What the hell, they swim on land here as well?” He yelled.

Torch took to the air, and Shorty tumbled over the car because he knew what was coming. A pillow of flame dropped right where Torch and Shorty had been speaking just moments before. The shark thrashed and bit as the fires consumed it.  Torch alighted a tree branch and commented “We may have been better off facing Cthulhu.”

Shorty just nodded. He decided then and there, if they survived, he was going to take a piss on the Sea Sprit’s deck.

Eugene writhed in pain as the zombie flesh in his stomach thrashed and fought the digesting enzymes that were trying to digest it. He had been suffering from cramps, headaches, nausea and horrible, horrible flatulence for days now. He was slowly dying, slowly becoming the undead. He briefly wondered if he would lose all of his priestly powers once he was a zombie king; after all, the J&J Witnesses were dedicated to healing, or at the very least infection prevention.

There was a knock at the door, and when it opened, the one called the mysterious Brandon stepped in soundlessly. “How are we holding up, Gene?” Eugene gasped through another nasty bout of pain, and then replied. “It’s Eugene.” Brandon nodded. “When you hear what I have to say, you may rethink smart ass remarks like that.”

Eugene kept his arms wrapped around his stomach, but he sat down and apologized. “I am sorry…” Brandon waved it away “I don’t need apologies. Now, I have some bad news; you are going to die regardless of what happens with the zombie material in you. The PEN didn’t get where it is by writing checks or playing fair. They will probably just kill you, or let you become undead and then shoot you onto a moon or just open space. However, I have a proposition for a Zombie King, if he is interested…”

Brandon didn’t care one way or the other whether Eugene lived or died, but he would be a useful pawn if he lived. “I serve a certain dark elder god, and his time is near, and as a result, I have a plethora of upgrades and enhancements at my disposal. Imagine if you did become undead, what then? Your mind will be intact, that is just how zombie kings are. Reggie was crazier than shit before he transitioned, so don’t use him as a model. He also takes shit care of his body, which is why he looks like evil snot.”

Brandon’s glowing white teeth were visible from beneath his robe’s hood, his smile deeply unnerving to Eugene. “Would I have to serve your god?” He asked. Brandon thought for a minute. “No, but it would certainly help if you did. But he isn’t too picky. Hell, half of his worshippers are rednecks and inbreds anyway.”

Eugene paled. Change gods? Go from good to evil (gods)? Control zombies? Brandon? Space? Shit! Needless to say, he was overwhelmed by the whole thing. “Can I think about it?”

Brandon nodded. “Take your time and make an informed decision. I would prefer to work with an intelligent man, so weigh your choices. But don’t take too much time. If I don’t intervene, you will wind up in Reginald’s thrall. Do you want that goopy, dripping snot-covered corpse ordering you around?”

Eugene shuddered visibly and that was all the acquiescence Brandon needed. “Good. Think fast, my friend.”

After leaving Eugene’s room, Brandon made his way down to his personal below-decks laboratory, affectionately called “The Dungeon” (He also kept prisoners down there, so it really was a dungeon, but he liked to pretend he was pretending.) He had several ghoul engineers and a particularly gifted werebadger roboticist designing a new robotic lich body for Bart, so he wouldn’t have to just be a floating head all the time (although he would have the option, since he seemed rather fond of floating around places).

He went there to check up on the body’s progress, and to take some time to commune with his god, and find out why the Great Old One was awake early. Brandon was favored among the ranks of the human worshippers of Cthulhu, so he was confident that he would get his answers. As he entered the lab, the ghouls stopped what they were doing and snapped to attention. The werebadger, Albert, on the other hand, glanced up, waved, and went back to work. Unlike most of the werecreatures on the Leviathan, Albert preferred to stay in his hybrid animal form most of the time, mostly because it seem to irritate and intimidate many of the others.

Brandon like that about him. Brandon was more an agent of chaos than pure evil, so whenever someone or something broke the mold, he gravitated toward it. That was part of the reason he liked Bart; the others were content to let others do their work for them and never put themselves at risk. Bart blew himself up in hopes of accomplishing something; he took risks. Sure, Mickey and Reginald took risks, but that was because they were careless and stupid, not because they were willing to put themselves out there to further their knowledge or gains.

What the team had developed was a technological marvel. It looked more or less like a shiny silver skeleton without a head, but it contained compartments to hide spell components, special materials to amplify the power of Bart’s spells, and an optional robe with built in functions like flight and cloaking.

Albert was also busy making an upgraded robe for Brandon. It not only did everything Bart’s would, but would also allow Brandon to walk through walls, resist the fire of a sun, and remain stain-free always. “Albert, how is my robe coming along?”

The werebadger looked up from his stitching. “Actually, it’s just about ready. Rrrrrr… I am just sewing on your insignia. Rrrrrr….” In his badger-hybrid form, he had a tendency to growl in between sentences. He held up a sparkly black and deep green robe where the black was the background and the green was intertwining tentacles.

“Nice, very nice. May I try it?” Brandon asked.

“Absolutely! Rrrrrrr… I insist! Rrrrr…..” Replied Albert.

Brandon shook off his regular robe. The ghouls made sure not to look directly at him. Although he had never told them not to, they suspected that since he always kept himself cloaked, he was either really disgusting, or would kill them (permanently) for it. Brandon probably wouldn’t waste his time, especially since these particular ghouls were particularly brilliant engineers.

Without his robe, Brandon was a tall, lean, muscular man. He had a pale, somewhat slimy sheen to his skin as a result of many many years of worship to Cthulhu, but his status prevented him from turning into a retarded looking fish-person like the idiots in shadowed Innsmouth, a small New England town where worshippers of Dagon (a servant of Cthulhu) turned into fish people over time. By cutting out the middle-man, Brandon saved himself from being a freak.

He had light brown hair; he kept cut short, and was actually a pretty handsome man. He had dark brown, almost black eyes, a strong chin, and the kind of smile that made ladies swoon. Despite all of that, he rarely ever showed himself to others. Some said he was so vain that the slight sheen to his skin made him want to cover up; kind of like a Cthulhu worshipping Doctor Doom.

But, it was actually what we mentioned earlier; he didn’t want the other members of the PEN to know he was still alive and therefore, not undead, and in direct violation of the rules he helped create. (And we narrowly avoided retconning him right there…)

He pulled on his new robe; it fit exactly like his old one, with a deep cowl covering his face and his hands covered in long sleeves. He went into a testing room to try out its built-in features. There were several gel torsos, made out of ballistics gelatin, which has the exact consistency of human flesh, for the most accurate depiction of hurting someone possible.

The door slid closed behind him and Albert talked to him through a microphone; Brandon was surprised to hear the voice come from inside his hood. “I wove a speaker for you into the hood. If you want to, you can think responses into it and only the ones you want will come through as if you are speaking. I have that hooked up to the speakers in there so you can hear it work.”

Brandon thought “I don’t want him to hear this.” Nothing happened. Then he thought “I wonder if this works…” and his voices, projecting his thoughts, echoed in the room. He looked up at the werebadger in the window and thought “That is fucking bad-ass, Albert. Incredible.”

“Thank you!” the lycanthrope said back, beaming at the compliment. Brandon thought (out loud) “What else can this do?”

Albert told Brandon to point his hand at one of the torsos and think “fire ball.” Brandon complied, but the result was not what he expected; instead of a gout of flame, or a flaming sphere, the torso exploded in bright red flames. “Cool!” he shouted out loud.

Albert leaned in on the microphone. “Think it a different color; think ‘fire’ and then a color.” So Brandon thought “Fire, green” and the flames turned brilliant green. He then though “fire, black” and they actually seemed to absorb light, although he could still feel the heat coming off of it. Brandon decided to be clever and thought “fire, invisible”, and the fire disappeared. “No shit…” he breathed.

Albert chuckled “I know you well enough.”

“Does it do rainbow?” Brandon asked.

Albert smirked “Not yet. I’ll put that in the first hotfix.” Before becoming a werebadger for the CEN, Albert had worked for Microsoft, so he was used to releasing partially finished products. “Want to try the next trick?” he asked. Brandon nodded. “Okay, think ‘Geist’”. Brandon thought “geist”. Nothing happened.

He looked at Alfred and held up his hands and shrugged. He wasn’t used to bugs in Albert’s creations. But Albert was smiling. “I said ‘Geist’, not ‘geist’. It’s a fail-safe so you don’t go blowing things up or walking through walls on accident.”

“Oh, cool. Good thinking.” So Brandon cleared his mind and thought “Geist”, and suddenly he felt lighter. Looking down, he was transparent. “Walk through one of the torsos.” Instructed Albert and Brandon complied.  He drifted toward the closest torso, and when he would have normally bumped into it, he passed right through. “Wow…” He breathed. “That is amazing. What is keeping me from falling through the floor?”

Albert clicked the mic, “There is a magnetic field that keeps you level on the plane directly below you, but you can ease down or up with a thought. Just like a ghost.” And that’s how we science that up into plausible. After testing a few more features, Albert steered the conversation towards their biggest project; the biggest project of either of their lives. They called it GITM, or “Git’em”, and it was a device, a machine, of unspeakable power.

Albert had called up a 3d schematic of the device, and as it spun in the air, Brandon looked at it wistfully. “The God in the Machine….. When will it be ready?” Albert stared at the model thoughtfully. “Probably when you least expect it and need it the most, would be my guess.”

“Great. It will be nice to have that in case we ever paint ourselves into a corner.” Brandon stated, more than happy to have that kind of power at his fingertips. He looked down at his new robe. Maybe it was time to start watering those seeds Marcus and Magnus had planted.

 

Piper was beside herself with anticipation. They were mere hours away from Earth, and she was ready to pray to her god to see if she could pinpoint exactly where Shorty was. Melvin was getting dressed in heavy denim clothes, expecting some sort of brawl, and Bert and Henry were in their armor for the first time in days. LeDouche was fixing a rich breakfast for the crew so they would have energy for what they expected to be a long, arduous search.

Their first goal was to locate the risen sunken R’Lyeh, because they knew that was where Shorty would have emerged. From there, they would move on to other local landmasses to see if they could find him. As far as they knew, shorties were rare on Earth, but they also knew there were likely a lot of short people as well.

Piper sat in a circle of coffee beans and candles and slowly started the chant that would bring her into communion with her god. The others kept a respectful distance and ate croissants, and watched, mesmerized. They had seen Piper cast spells before, but never anything so elaborate. They could feel her power fill the room, as if her body exuded strength. (And cappuccino)

Piper had a peaceful, trance-like look on her face as the power of her deity flowed through her. She was casting a spell of searching, one that would not only show her Shorty’s location, but give her the general navigational whereabouts they could find him. She chanted the others watched, and delicious fumes filled the room, causing the candles to burn brighter, and made everyone feel a little more awake.

In Piper’s mind, she could see the surface of Earth, she had the sensation of falling, but not dangerously, more like tipping over to tumble into bed. Down below, she could see the sunken (now risen) city of R’Lyeh, and she felt more than a little dread at the prospect of having to go into the city itself, but she steeled herself to that possibility; she would brave anything to get Shorty back. Much to her delight and relief, she quickly drifted away from the city and island altogether, and then shot out over the ocean.

The rippling blue waves seemed to go on forever, and many tense minutes passed for her. The others in the room could only guess at what she was seeing, but there was a look of intense concentration etched on her face.

Piper drifted over some small islands before approaching a large, clouded one. As she passed over it, she could see dead trees, broken roads and a scarred landscape. Despite the tropical environment, she could feel an unusual cold penetrating the land; clearly something awful had happened.

She crested a hill on the far side of the island, and a small form came into view; Shorty. He was standing in the middle of a road, his shotgun in his hands. As she closed in on him, all she could see was Shorty; the rest of the environment faded from view. Suddenly, he pointed the shotgun at something and shot, then again and again. All of the sudden, he disappeared, and her vision was filled with flames. She screamed “NOOO!” Her concentration broke, the spell ended and she fell over.

Henry and Melvin were at her side immediately helping her up. Piper had found him, and she could tell all aspects of the spell had worked; she could feel shorty and knew more or less where he was. As far as she could tell, he was still alive, but what did she see? Was it the future? Did that just happen? How did he disappear and what was all that fire?

The others helped her to her feet, and asked her what had happened. She filled them in on what she saw, and where he might be, but they were surprised when she said they couldn’t go directly to him.

“Something is wrong, he was fighting something, and there was a lot of fire. I think we need to be prepared to fight.”

Bert gulped, Melvin punched his palm, a wide smile on his face, and from the other room (because there was no track in Piper’s) Ned shouted “YEAH! Find me a warbot or something!” It was unanimous, if there was a fight, everyone was going to have a part in it.

Shorty popped off several shots, and for each round he fired, a shark fell from the sky. As you might have guessed, this is where Piper came in a little bit ago. Torch was perched on his shoulder and they faded from view (every so often, he managed to make Shorty disappear all at once, instead of in pieces) and began spraying flames in every direction. Several tiger sharks were blinded or injured when they came too close to the fire.

The others that had been shadowing the pair gasped when Shorty turned invisible and the flames began to roll out. They had initially been trying to see if the newcomers were friend or foe, but as soon as they saw that a Brevis was on their island, it simply became a question of who had the balls to go up and speak to him. You see, to the people living on Hawaii, shorties were like a whole race of Jesuses, and he would not have bothered to show up on their island unless he was there to eradicate the SEAL tiger shark infestation once and for all (more on this in a bit).

When the smoke cleared (and it took a while, Torch scorched quite a few sharks), Shorty stood at the center of a donut-shaped pile of dead sharks, casually slipping his last few shotgun shells into the gun. Torch sighed, not at all interested in picking at the charred carcasses that surrounded them, despite being ravenously hungry. It was hard to tell through all of the burned fish smell, but Shorty would have sworn he caught a whiff of cappuccino just as he and Torch disappeared. He only had 3 shells left for his shotgun, so he slung it over his shoulder.

One of the people that had been following him (not the bravest, the poor bastard who pulled the shortest straw) stepped out from behind a wrecked car. He raised his hands and took two steps. Shorty drew a pistol in the blink of an eye and pointed it right at the man’s forehead; granted the man was still fifty feet away, but shorties are really good shots. The man began to speak, but a tiger shark appeared out of a cloud of smoke and snatched him away.

When the screaming faded into the distance, the man who drew the second shortest straw strolled forward. “Hello, Brevis, stranger, deliverer!” Shorty cocked his head and lowered his gun. “What in the hell are you talking about?” Now, all shorties knew that the official name for their race was “Brevis”, but almost all of them were so accustomed to being called shorties, the word had become unfamiliar.

“We are a small, brave contingent of survivors here on the island of Hawaii. We have waited for the arrival of another savior! A group of them would have been nice, but the prophesy didn’t specify how many would come!” Shorty immediately became defensive. “Prophesy? No, I think you have the wrong guy. I am just a shorty.”

“Only the true savior doubts his true identity!” Shouted one of the other men cowering behind the broken station wagon. Shorty looked over at him. “I’m not falling for that shit, I saw that movie. What in hell are you all talking about?”

The man standing in front of him introduced himself. “I am Duke, and this is my team. We were sent out to try and find the strangers we saw were on our island, and expected more raiders or pirates. Or those fucking Cthulhu worshippers. But we hoped it would be you, the prophesied one!”

“What prophesy?” asked Torch. Duke glared at the shimmerdrake for a second, not at all appreciating the interruption of his conversation with his Savior. “Phil’s prophesy. He had a dream one night that the Brevis would return and kill off the remaining tiger shark scourge.”

“Who’s Phil?” Shorty asked, and Duke pointed back to the guy who had shouted about the true savior. “The guy who shouted about the true savior. We figured it was bullshit, but you know, any prophesy is better than none in the infinite shithole our island paradise has become.” Duke shrugged, “Plus, here you are.”

Shorty rolled his eyes. “My friend and I are just trying not to get eaten. If you agree to help us, we’ll help you.” Duke was nodding halfway through the sentence. “Of course, Savio- er… What’s your name?”

“Shorty.”

“That seems a little… Racist…” Duke started. Shorty held up his hand. “It really isn’t. It’s not like a black guy with the nickname ni- well, you get the idea. It would be like calling a human ‘Person’ because everyone referred to your race as ‘people’, it could not be less of a deal. So, just call me Shorty. It’s what my friends and enemies call me. You’re going to probably wind up being one or the other, so there you go.”

Duke nodded and smiled, as did the other four people in his group, then he paused, suddenly confused. Shorty shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. Were you guys the ones that shot those things out of the air when we got here?”

Duke nodded. “Yes, we figured that if anyone was here, we should find out if they were worth talking to before letting the tiger sharks get them. I guess we chose right.” Shorty gave him a quick nod and quiet thank you, not wanting to rain on the guy’s parade and point out that the three sharks Duke and his people had taken out were nothing compared to the twenty or so he and Torch had killed in the past ten minutes. Of course, that exact thing was probably why these people were so besotted by the fact that he had arrived.

Of course, Shorty had no idea about that awesome, kick-ass parable, so he has no idea that in the past his people had rescued Hawaii from the terrible grip of the SEAL tiger sharks. This will be significant pretty soon, as you may have guessed. Shorty was introduced to the others (Phil, Gladys, Mark and Mary, in case you cared) and they headed off to find the underground bunker where the survivors lived.

Piper chewed her lip as the slender man measured her bicep. He had already measured most of the rest of her, and she was growing self conscious as he wrote down her measurements, which, she noted, were bigger than everyone’s but Melvin’s.

They were in France, in a modern armory owned and operated by LeDouche’s cousin. The space Frenchman had explained to the Earth Frenchman their situation and he had readily agreed to provide the group with armor similar to the two security guard’s (He had actually designed their armor on a contract, it turns out) pro bono. Pierre, LeDouche’s cousin, was a generous, happy man, as tall and thin as he was gregarious.

“Madame, it is an honor to craft for a Rubenesque beauty such as yourself.” He was far easier to understand than LeDouche was. “I have always admired the form of ladies such as yourself, but have never had the opportunity to build a soot for one. This is a fine dey for meh.” Pierre scribbled some notes in a notebook then hurried off to the armory. Despite his considerable skill in hand-making armor, Pierre’s armory was an automated facility, where advanced composite materials like carbon nanotubes, were woven with other materials based on the customer’s needs to provide strong, versatile armor.

In a matter of hours, their suits were finished, and they tried them on. LeDouche’s was light and flexible, and specifically designed for his role as a pilot. He was not going to be engaging anyone directly, Pierre just liked that he would match everyone else, plus LeDouche was the family’s most gifted saucier, and he would not suffer to lose the man’s dishes to anything save the ravages of time.

Henry and Bert didn’t need armor, but Pierre did mend some old spots on both their suit. Melvin’s and Piper’s were both unique prototypes; Piper’s armor had some built in weapons and functions to compliment her spell casting, and fit under her robes, which Piper was thankful for, because the closeness to which it was molded to her ample form, there was little left to the imagination. The shoulders were emblazoned with the symbol of the Church of Skidds. Melvin’s was of a heavier gauge material, and the forearms and fists were reinforced with a thicker, heavier metal than the rest, so he could use his brute strength to its full potential.

When they tested out some of the special features, they felt like they were in a movie. Piper’s armor, in addition to several other abilities, could shoot fire and electricity from the fingertips. Melvin was able to punch through a rock wall like a knife through cardboard. A sharp knife. And LeDouche’s ensured that he would never be shot stabbed, burned, electrocuted or frozen while wearing it. At least, not the parts that were covered. The crew got suited up and loaded on to the Foie Gras.

Pierre waved good bye and wished them luck, and then extracted a promise from everyone that they would make sure his cousin was safe. They were waving still when Brandy closed her deck and the Foie Gras shot off to the west toward Hawaii.

Shorty and Torch were paraded around the common room in an underground bunker where hundreds of men women and children lived. They were all clean and smiley, apparently having most everything they needed for survival in their underground vault. They were ecstatic that the prophesy had come true and that maybe Phil wasn’t such a whack-job after all.

The children were fascinated by the small dragon, and chased him around the room, while Shorty endured being gawked at in much the same way a large fish with breasts might be; an odd combination of awe and confusion, rather than wonder. Clearly Duke had not been exaggerating, any prophesy of hope, even a stupid one was better than none.

“So…” started one older man, “Has he killed all of the sharks, then?”

“Well, no…” Started Duke.

“BAH! Charlatan! Fake!” the older man shouted.

Duke patted his hands in the air in front of himself, gesturing for the guy to calm down. “Now, now, he just got here. At no point did Phil mention magic, just that when the Brevis arrived, that he/they would usher in our emancipation from the SEAL Tiger shark scourge. Give the guy a break, he and his fire-monster have not eaten in days. Or hours, we’re not sure, but the fact remains they are hungry, and we agreed to feed them. Plus, these two killed about thirty or so sharks in a matter of minutes. They are quite a pair!”

“We should have a luau! We haven’t had one of those in ages!” Suggested a particularly large Hawaiian looking fellow. Duke nodded. “Say, that isn’t half bad idea, kind of like a pre-battle party.” He looked over at the two newcomers. “What do you say? How about a nice big party with roast pig, pineapples, booze, and then the next day we bait and kill as many sharks as we can!”

Shorty shrugged. “I would really like to find my friends, if at all possible…” Duke held a hand next to his cheek to hide what he was saying from the others. “I sincerely doubt they are going to let you go unless you swear to do battle. You guys are really really good, we could use you. We have com gear here, and I bet I could put in a good word so you can use it if you scratched our backs…”

Shorty gave Duke an accusing look. “You’re black mailing us.”

Duke stood up straight.”Damn straight. I have people to protect here, and you have shown yourself more than capable. Plus, you can clearly handle yourself and would be an incredible asset in the fight. And, we are going to feed you…”

Shorty thought it over; blackmail or no, they did represent the only chance he had in getting back in touch with Piper and the crew of the Foie Gras. Plus, he had enjoyed shooting those things, and Torch really enjoyed burning them. “Fine.” he finally said.

Duke clapped his hands and said “Great! You won’t regret this! Plus, you haven’t had a party ‘til you’ve had a luau.” He gestured to the large man who suggested the thing, and he excitedly began shouting orders to other people to get the pig and get things started.

Eugene sat in his room, a pen in his hand, as he absentmindedly scrawled on every surface he could find:

 

All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man. All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man. All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man. All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man. All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man. All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man. All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man. All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man.

All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man. All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man.

All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man.

All work and no play make Eugene a bad zombie man.

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His knowledge of pop culture was clearly broken, and the zombie meat in his stomach was beginning to have some profound effects on him. There was a sharp rap on his door. Without waiting for an answer, Brandon stepped in to the room right through the door. Eugene blinked stupidly and looked at him, not quite able to process that the man in front of him had walked through the wall. “Hello, Eugene! I trust you have come to a decision?”

“Nice deco did all this yourself did you?”

Eugene tried to glare, but he didn’t have the strength. He was terrified at the prospect of becoming an undead slave, and wasn’t sure what repercussions there would be in changing religions, but Brandon had offered what appeared to be the clearest choice; either serve him and his God, or become the slave to a dripping psychotic corpse. The choice was simple. “What do I have to do to convert?” He asked.

Brandon’s teeth glowed in a wide smile beneath his cowl. “Exactly that.”

 

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