Friday, December 26, 2014

Day Eight-Hundred-Two: Showdown

“I can only teleport so far on my own, y’see,” Kierkegaard said, stepping out of the stairwell and crossing his hands behind his back. “Mite inconvenient. But, hey, when you’ve got an army of shitheads that can fly, it’s less of a problem.”

The crew of the Sky Bitch had collectively backed away from Kierkegaard, most retreating towards the captain’s cabin, though Libby held her ground. Dragomir shuddered to his feet beside her, quaking hard but similarly refusing to budge. They glared defiance at the penguin.

Kierkegaard laughed at their silence. “What? Nobody gonna say hello? I’m offensed. I bonded with some of youse guys, back at the old castle, and I don’t get a single greetin’. You humans are so rude.”

“Hi,” Libby hissed, dipping into a poor curtsey. “Good enough? Then get the fuck off my ship.”

Kierkegaard’s grin grew, and his mustachios seemed to curl and twist of their own accord, sharing his glee. “A woman after my own mouth. Ain’t it nice ta swear? So much more honest than bein’ all polite ’n shit. Really lets ya know what a person is thinkin’.”

“What do you want, Kierkegaard?” Dragomir demanded, his right hand opening and closing. Red-and-greens sparks skittered around his fingers, almost unnoticed by everyone on the command deck.

“I’m visiting my buddies! I just said! Kinda, anyway.” Kierkegaard shook his head. “You lot don’t get many visitors, I bet. Must be all lonely up here. That’s the only reason I can conjure for why you’d fly right over my army without openin’ fire. Seems a pretty duncey move, don’tcha think?”

“Yeah,” Libby admitted, pausing to glare at the rat that was now perched on her shoulder. It stared mutely at her. “Duncey.”

“Yep.” Kierkegaard tapped his beak, then held out his arms. “’n you guys, well, you’re kinda stupid, but you’re not that stupid. So, I figure, ya must be lonely! I’d say that’s pretty fair. I could’ve ordered my Nothings to bring you down with their hook things, but, I figured, nah. This calls for a personal touch. So here I am, with an impulse ta cheer all the lonely people of the world, ’n you lot are a good place to start. Who wants a hug, eh? Anybody?”

The crew didn’t move. A few were trying to open the door to the captain’s cabin without arousing attention to themselves, and they froze in mid-action, looking almost guilty at their attempt to escape.

“Ach, you’re all balls. Balls, I say!” Kierkegaard threw his hands up in mock dismay. “Okie dokie. I’ll pick someone myself. How ‘bout… mmm… you?”

The penguin pointed across the command deck, the edge of his nail aimed directly at Morris. Despite the hair brushed over his eyes, Morris had no trouble spotting the threat, and for whatever reason he began to fumble his oversized cowboy hat off of his head. Libby had told him a dozen times to stop wearing the hat, after he’d become a member of the Sky Bitch’s crew, but he’d refused the order every time. It clashed horribly with his plain uniform, but Morris didn’t seem to care.

The hat popped off of Morris’s head when a portal appeared beneath his feet. By the time it fluttered to the ground, Morris was heaped in front of Kierkegaard, a tangle of awkward limbs and jittery fear.

“H… help!” Morris yelled, his voice bewildered and panicky. He struggled to get to his feet. “I don’t, I don’t, my cows, they need me, I, I, I, don’t - “

Kierkegaard’s ‘hug’ cut the one-time rancher off. Kierkegaard’s arms disappeared into a pair of small portals, emerging soon thereafter as massive, clawed hands, each bigger than Morris’s entire body. They wrapped around Morris and lifted him off of the ground, trapping him in their palms as neatly as a child traps a frog.

“NO!” Dragomir shouted. The Catastrophe blazed to life in his hand, and he took three steps towards Kierkegaard, lifting the pixelated blade threateningly. “LET HIM GO! NOW!”

Tilting his beak snobbishly into the air, Kierkegaard sniffed. “I just wanna give him a hug. Is that so bad?”

Dragomir took another step forward. “Let. Him. Go. Now.

“Man. You sure got ballsy.” Kierkegaard shrugged. “Well. Maybe you don’t need a hug. But this scaredy cat in my hands really seems to want some quality TLC. Hope you’ve got a sink, ‘cause I’m gonna have to wash up in a second.”

Shouting, Dragomir launched himself across the deck, the Catastrophe poised to strike, but it was too late. Kierkegaard’s oversized hands crunched inward, squeezing mercilessly even as they floated up and out of Dragomir’s reach. The squealing crunch of broken bone sent a shudder of horror down every spine in the room. Blood began dripping onto the deck as Dragomir roared, streaking his hair as he swung the Catastrophe in a flat arc towards Kierkegaard’s body. The penguin only laughed, however, and a pair of portals split his body in two, protecting him from Dragomir’s attack. Kierkegaard’s clenched hands slammed down onto the deck, leaving a deep dent, and Dragomir just barely managed to leap away. 

“Ha ha ha! You suck with that thing, don’tcha? Should get more practice. What an overrated piece o’ shit.” The portals protecting Kierkegaard’s torso disappeared, leaving him whole, and his hands jittered back and forth. Then, his face lighting up, he brayed laughter. “Hey, hey! I got one! Roll dem bones! Ever heard that ‘spression before? Man, it’s so literal right now! Wonder if I’ll get snake eyes. Anybody wanna see if I get snake eyes?”

Dragomir tried to lash out at the hands again, plainly hoping to stop them from spilling their grisly contents onto the deck in a horrid mockery of a dead man’s life. The hands remained staunchly out of his reach, however, and Kierkegaard carried on laughing. The rest of the crew, Libby included, were too shocked to move or speak.

“You gotta do more than this, Dragofuck!” Kierkegaard danced, hopping from one foot to another. “You gotta embrace your heritage, dude! Show ‘em what we can really do! Else you don’t stand a shrimp’s chance in a frying pan of beatin’ me!”

The comment stopped Dragomir in his tracks. He was breathing hard, but Kierkegaard’s words seemed to clog his lungs for several seconds, and the rage and pain in his face gave way to a deep, wordless fear. The Catastrophe flickered in Dragomir’s hands, a few tiny hints of green speckling the crimson blade in an almost festive pattern.

“There’s… no… there’s no we…” Dragomir panted, bringing the Catastrophe up in a sloppy guard position.

“That hurts, bro. That hurts right in the feels.” Kierkegaard hung his head. “Remember the good ol’ times? Me riding on your back, huntin’ for rats? Imagine how much better that would’ve been if only we’d both known that you’re a - “

Dragomir’s roar drowned out Kierkegaard, surprising everyone on the command deck, the penguin included. Dragomir bolted at Kierkegaard in a flash of speed, swinging the Catastrophe five times. Kierkegaard avoided the onslaught, using his portals to avoid the whirring blade, but his grin had faltered by the time the rear of his general’s cap squished against the glass canopy. It reasserted itself as Dragomir pulled away, though, and Kierkegaard’s eyes shone dangerously.

“They don’t know, do they?” Kierkegaard tittered. “They don’t know what you are. So, say, if I were to open up and tell ‘em that - “

Dragomir charged again. His slashes sent Kierkegaard dancing across the deck, arms still plunged into portals, and Dragomir’s attacks left large, sparkling gashes in the canopy. Wind whistled through the breaking glass, and Libby’s crew, their hesitation now gone, dashed for the stairs into engineering.

Libby did not run. She was rooted to the ground beside the steering wheel, her eyes fixated on her husband. She couldn’t look away from the beam in his hands, a beam that seemed to be vacillating between familiar red and unfamiliar green every few seconds. She was so enraptured by the sight that she didn’t notice the rat crawling up her neck, its claws pinching her skin, until it whispered something in her ear.

“Look at what he is,” the rat hissed, its tiny voice so unnatural that Libby wasn’t quite sure what it was saying at first. “Look. Look. Then you will understand why I did what I did.”

Libby’s first compulsion was to brush the rat away, but she couldn’t tear herself from watching Dragomir swing the Catastrophe at his foe. “Wh… what… I don’t… understand…”

“I wanted to tell you for a long time, but they wouldn’t let me,” the rat squeaked. “But now I’m in charge, and, eheh, I can. Watch your husband reveal himself, m - “

The rat didn’t finish its sentence. It was, instead, inconveniently cut off as a third combatant rocketed up the stairs from engineering and onto the command deck. With unstoppable speed she flew across the deck, pushed her father out of the melee, and launched a kick at Kierkegaard. Surprised, Kierkegaard nevertheless managed to lower his still-clenched hands in front of her outstretched leg, but the force of her attack pushed penguin and claws alike, hard, into the canopy. The glass smashed open, vaulting Kierkegaard into the night.

Crouched low, an aura of too-subtle green encircling her body, dark purple blood staining her gauntlets, Eve glared at Kierkegaard through the hole in the canopy. Her brother stood behind her, imposingly tall, his arms crossed. Cuts marred his face.

His hands still stained with gore but no longer engulfed in portals, Kierkegaard hauled himself up onto the small jut of deck outside the canopy. He wobbled as he fought for balance, the high winds threatening to knock him off the Sky Bitch, but his beak formed a delighted sneer, and he brayed shrieky pleasure.

“The bitch returns!” Kierkegaard’s face blanched, the fleshy white around his eye sockets turning as white as bone. “Been lookin’ all over for you, my darling, oh, my darling. Shall we DANCE?”

No comments:

Post a Comment