Since I’m feeling less like THE DEATH this week, I went ahead and wrote some flash fiction! This is another based on Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge. This week? Dragon. Two thousand words max. Period.
What came to my mind? PIRATES AND DRAGONS, of course. Because part of my mind lives under the sea, and I don’t mean where Ariel lives AMIRITE?! (Just kidding. It lives in that trove full of dinglehoppers and stuff. No shame.) So here’s mah story, The Dragon!
That was the name of the head ship, one that struck fear into every corsair soul what’s ever saw it.
The bow rose up into a fearsome silver scowl, nostrils flared and mouth gaping. If you stared long enough at him, the Dragon might just hurl fire at you.
We didn’t even have to spread that myth- it was true. Hallucinations at sea had nothing on a ship powered by fire and steam. Like Blackbeard a kiloyear before us, we knew how to play the game to win.
It was time for another skirmish. Captain Lehgaard called down the sleek metal stairs from the wheel, “Twos and Fours, boys. Let’s make them understand their predicament.”
Twos and Fours. The largest cannons on the Dragon, gaping tubes waiting to smash holes in lesser ships. Metal shrapnel was always more glorious than wood when it flew.
I helped load the Port Four, forming the chain of men it took to heft the shining cannonballs into each tube. More voices called overhead, synchronizing sound with a flurry of movement. The enemy ship had apparently noted our position, and were preparing themselves to fight.
“No matter,” Captain called, “Dragons fear nothing!”
“Aye! Aye! Aye!” A chorus of voices met to cheer, my voice one of them. I had spent my entire life waiting to be aboard a ship, waiting to claim the whole world in our name, and here I was, part of the most fearsome crew that sailed the World’s Sea. In piracy, there are no rules. So it had always been, so I guessed it might be forever.
Besides, it wasn’t illegal- Corsairship was the most profitable life, endorsed by whoever paid the bills—and the governments of various countries always paid the bills.
Heave, ho, one two three four, the cannons were loaded, poised to strike against the foe ship. The flag that flew over their heads was a tri-colored one, stripes bleeding off the ends into a murky gray sky. Our flag was always our own—fire poured from the maw of the beast, spewing orange across black fabric, dousing the skeletons that lay below in a bath of heat. I checked the scope. Their captain stood at the helm, scoping back at me. Her hair tumbled down in dark brown waves, the crown of it topped by a glaring red tricorne.
I knew exactly who she was, and I wasn’t prepared for the dull thuds in my chest.
The name shook even the sturdiest of men. Thousands of stories spanned the seas of her exploits—stories that seemed to span longer than a lifetime. Many considered Tique Zandette to be a name, a title, rather than a person, but I knew better: she had the gift of immortality, hard-won long ago. How else would the woman always look the same, even as the passage of time sank the ships in us all?
“Captain, you seein’ what I’m seein’?”
Captain Lehgaard took big steps down to me, taking the scope in one hand. He eyed the ship and its contents carefully. “Damned Tique. Does she ever quit?”
No one else heard it, but I could pinpoint the quiver in his voice.
“We’ve never encountered her before, Captain, what is the plan?”
“Dragons fear nothing,” he repeated, much quieter than before. He turned to the deck, his voice now thunder. “Men! Today is our day. Today, we take down a living legend!”
Cheers erupted from all over.
“Captain Tique Zandette helms the foe ship this day.”
The cheers staggered to a halt. The resulting silence was even louder.
“Dragons fear nothing. You hear me?” He seemed to be shouting to the other ship now. “THE DRAGON FEARS NOTHING!”
A halfhearted “Aye!” passed around the deck. Lehgaard turned to me, his jaw set. “We load every cannon, everything we’ve got. We take her, or she takes nothing, you understand me?”
Shots rang out over the open water. They were not ours. One flew far over us, missing entirely, while another made a massive dent in the hull of the Dragon.
“Blasted whore,” the Captain cursed, more at the ship than the woman, “we are never outshot. READY IN THREE!”
One. Two. Three. Our metal cannons blasted back into the cabin below, sending huge waves of cannonballs over the darkness. Zandette’s technology was no match for ours.
The foe ship takes three waves of fire head-on. The second mast hangs on by a thread of bare chain, the deck stands with a few holes and several dents.
“Another volley! Move in!”
We load the cannons as the Captain steers the ship towards hers. We will go side-to-side—a more dangerous technique, for both The Dragon and the foe. The Dragon swings slowly along the waters, while Zandette’s ship seems to bob along idly. The red tricorne is a sunspot against the hazy sky.
As soon as the cannons are loaded, we fire again. The ship takes on more shrapnel, many of its crew laid out by the barrage of metal. But Tique Zandette doesn’t falter. She stands at the helm, unafraid and unmoved. Her mouth moves once, and The Dragon is overcome with cannon fire. More holes make their way into the hull, more dents in the deck. The Dragon itself spews fire, its belly wrecked with unfamiliar ammunition. Captain Lehgaard swings the ship again, bashing the bow of The Dragon into the foe, spilling its fire onto the helm.
One more movement from Zandette. Another volley of fire. “Captain, we’ve nearly unloaded the ship on her!” My voice is a single wave in a hurricane of noise.
“Once more with feelings, boys! We fear nothing!!”
We load the last waves of the ammunition, our feet soaked by stray water that has begun to take the bowels of the ship. I say a quick prayer to the God of the Sea, knowing well what may come soon.
“Volley!” The Captain’s words come in slow motion. The crew fires, The Dragon aching to unleash what’s left of its innards.
Fire and metal.
The waters quiet a moment. We have done more than we ever have in a fight. No surrender comes. Zandette walks to the edge of her helm, the one butted against ours. She leisurely leans against the railing, eyeing the ferocious dragon that waits to her left, his mouth still smoking. Her voice sails over the short distance, a siren’s call against our ears.
She is whistling a familiar melody, one that every pirate knows.
A deep bellow comes from beneath The Dragon.
We barely have time to see the blackened tentacles, the suction cups that cling to metal so perfectly, the gnashing ridges that care nothing about fire and steam. We take her, or she takes nothing. We wonder no more about her immortality. Metal caves beneath us, our myth no match for her own. I say a prayer to the God of the Sea, knowing that she has come.
A pirate’s life for me.
Woohoo! That was fun. I rarely write about pirates, even though they’re one of my favorite interests. Ya can’t just go forcing pirates in everywhere.
Maybe you can.
I won’t judge.
Oh! And if you’ve read Godeater: The Second World, Tique’s name should be familiar to you! Tique Zandette was the first character I ever created, even though I’ve never written her story. I should definitely got on that. *adds to writing list that is currently… 86,912,713 things long*
The other part of this post, is that I’ve quietly (until now) launched my own publishing imprint, Bard Girl Press! I figure that, while I’m doing all of this on my own, I may as well GO HARD (hee) and stake my claim. I can’t wait to show you guys what’s in store! I am debating on rebranding Godeater: The Second World; at this point, it would undo a significant amount of hard work, so it may have to stay the way it is.
So! Did you also do this flash fiction challenge? If so, share your work with us!
Next time, Gadget, next time.