The Captain of the Crimson Mother had not been seen in the week since he ordered the ship to voyage into the Flux after the party. Locked away in his quarters, anyone who dared knock on his door was met with a concussive bolt of Flux energy. The ship was low on supplies, low on morale, but no order to return to port was made. Things were looking dire.
Inside the Captain’s quarters, the image of despair was mirrored. Empty bottles of rum and whiskey littered the floor, joined with screwed up papers, books thrown to the side, or with pages torn out and scribbled across with “WRONG” or “NO”. Fictional books, mostly, alongside accounts of bravery and heroes of the past, so many of which had been defaced to illegibility. The place was a mess, and so was its sole inhabitant.
By all accounts, and the stench of alcohol from the room, the Captain should have been collapsed, passed out on the floor, but he was sat, slouched to one side, furiously writing on a piece of paper on a desk surrounded by books, with a quill in either hand, one of red ink, one of black, both hands writing what could be mistaken for a play, but were the same words that had been swimming around the Captain’s head for a week.
In black, he wrote calmly but with purpose, though the lines slurred and blurred into each other as the hand slipped across the page, “It’s your fault, and you know it. You encouraged him, gave him ideas of grandeur, and this is what comes of your recklessness.”
In red, he wrote with fury, ink splattering across the page as he did, though the words were barely legible to begin with, “Nonsense. We both know there’s nothing we could have done to stop him, he’d have done it regardless of our influence and now we’re in a better position to do something about him.”
“You’re deceiving yourself, Branch. You know your support only made him more powerful: every individual you persuaded ‘for fun’ to follow him has directly contributed to his power.”
“He’d have had that power anyway! I just harnessed it for, well…”
“Your own selfish purposes. That’s a great defence and I’m sure the world will look kindly on that when it’s being destroyed by an unstoppable god monster.”
“It’s not like you’re not to blame though, Marsh. You distanced us from him, started mocking him to others, playing down the threat. I had things in hand before you arrived!”
“Bullshit. You were playing along because you thought it was funny. Don’t lie and pretend you had some higher plan or purpose. I know everything you know, and I can feel your guilt.”
“He’d have turned anyway!”
“Perhaps, or perhaps if you’d taken your role as someone he listens to seriously you could have prevented the soon annihilation of reality!”
“Then why didn’t you stop me?”
“Clearly not hard enough! And now both of us can’t think of a way to make the only plan we have work!”
The quills both paused, the hands holding them twitching with anger before they both wrote, “I hate you.”
The Captain, breathing heavily, put down the quills and drunkenly reached for a half-full bottle on the desk, but knocking it with his hand, a foul mix of rum and whiskey poured over the desk, soaking the paper and the books that were on there. The Captain sighed, and cast them aside to the ground like so many more, and looked around for another bottle, but finding none that hadn’t met a similar fate.
It was then that a book caught his eyes. It had arrived during the last day, but he’d been too drunk to care for it. He staggered to his feet, and made his way across the cabin to the book, wrapped carefully in ribbon and with a label that told him immediately from whom it had come. He opened it, and slumped to the floor as he saw the title. Page after page was turned, and the drunken sailor’s eyes widened, and a grin came to his putrid lips.
An hour later, there was a creak as the windows in the Captain’s cabin were opened, the pungent smell of alcohol flowing out, but shortly followed by a splash as bottle after bottle of alcohol was thrown into the ocean.
Six hours later, the door to the Captain’s cabin was slammed open from the inside, and alert ran through the crew as the familiar stride of the crimson-skinned Captain was heard. Calls of “Captain on deck!” were desperately relayed across the ship, and the exhausted crew desperately assembled to stand to attention as the boots of their Captain strode past. They were confused, they were worried, but those who saw the man’s face saw the glint in his eyes and murmurs of excitement grew across the ship.
The Captain reached his first mate, the Southern Islander Gerard, who smiled at the sight of the Captain without a bottle of rum in sight, and asked, “Orders, Captain?”
“Prepare to set sail to the East, Gerard,” the Captain barked, with a grin, “We’re going to save the world.”