Chapter Ninety-Three: Shantyman, The Screamer

James addressed his crew.

“Who of you did I bring with me?  Who followed me through the space between worlds?”

A handful of men and women cheered.  The rest of the crew clapped them on the back. 

James handed off the wheel to the helmsman.  His arms were beginning to smoke.  A fell look crossed his face.

“We ask of thee, whit art thou!”

We are Iscariot, the Zealot Judas!

“In that case, Iscariot, we ask o’ thee: Whit dost thou hold in thy right hand?”

Daggers and poisons!

“In that case, Iscariot, we ask o’ thee: Whit dost thou hold in thy left hand?”

Thirty silver pieces, and a rope!

The cords stood out on James’ neck.  His voice was cracking.  His right arm flashed sparks, and then a fire caught on his sleeve.  He didn’t notice.

“In that case, Iscariot, whit art thou!

As apostles, but not as apostles!

As adherents, but not as adherents!

As believers, but not as believers!

As traitors, but not as traitors!

We are disciples of death, the Death Disciple Group!”

The silence that had spread over the decks was deafening.  James’ left sleeve caught fire as well.  He cast his jacket off.  His bare chest was smeared in the blood of his crew and the blood from his stumps.  His back was criscrossed with cuts from the straps from his arms, and abrasions from the loop holding them taut.  He tightened his fists until his hands smoked and added his broken scream to those of his crew.

Only bowing and praying the forgiveness of our Lord,

Only bowing and defeating the enemies of our Lord;

Wielding our dagger in the night and poisoning the evening meal,

We are assassins, the Assassin Judas.

When the time comes, we will cast our thirty pieces of silver at the altar-

The bands holding James’ arms snapped and popped, straining to hold his arms as every muscle in his chest was pulled taut.

And hang thy head from our rope.

Thereby we will fall to Hell in cabal.”  Every one of James’ original crew held a medal on a chain aloft, made in the image of a silver temple coin on one side, and a dagger and noose on the other.  The chain was wrapped around the hilt of a short dagger.  The red light from the fires burning on the shore reflected from the upraised blades.  James produced an identical one and held it aloft.

Lined up in square formation, we seek to do battle with the seven million, four hundred and five thousand, nine hundred and twenty-six demons of Hell.

All of the crew breathed in as one.  The sea went dark.

APOCALYPSE NOW!”  James’ arms exploded, tearing the straps from his back and sending shrapnel into his face.  The guns gathered energy and fired, hard enough to push the ship backwards in the sea.  The guns carved out a channel to land the ship in the defenses of the shore, scouring clean to the bedrock for more than a mile inland. 

“Run the ship aground!  Iscariot, send them to the final judgement!  God sends His sun to light your work!”

The crew poured over the sides, their enhanced bodies absorbing the shock.  The planks fell on either side of the ship.  Fires still burned in the path of the beams.

Behind them, dawn broke above a red sky.

*Those with a deep knowledge of horror manga may notice the litany of Vatican Section XIII in this chapter.  It is used as no words I could come up with could better set the tone for what is to come.  Kohta Hirano’s dialogue is used verbatim, emphasis (and narration) mine.  Should he ever see this, his writing has influenced me more than I can properly express, and I hope he will see my work for how I intend it-a reference made in the greatest respect for his talents in writing and art.  I recognize those who came before, and thank them for what they taught me.*

Published in: on October 1, 2012 at 2:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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