I return! I have finished almost all of my finals, but this chapter should wrap things up despite the length of it. This chapter is also a bit on the graphic side, and as such, is the one chapter that finally pushed the story to have an M rating.
At the same time, the Star Tugs were occupied with a more pressing matter. Captain Zero noticed that Zorran had gone missing, but what matter pressing was that no one knew where the lead tug for Zero and Marine had gone. A massive search operation was underway, but so far nothing turned up. Sunshine and Hercules had already done their searching for the day, and were now waiting patiently for Captain Starr to finish making a telephone call to some Navy officials. The two tugs had already given their account of what had happened with Ten Cents and Timberwolf and mentioned Zorran's involvement, and now it was their captain who had the final say in what should be done.
"The Navy has heard everything, and they will be sending some representatives from Boston to take Timberwolf down for questioning. I will also consider ringing Zero and let him know what exactly Zorran was doing." Captain Starr answered, looking at the two tugs with worried eyes. "Considering that there has been no response from Bigg City's Naval offices and that another Navy tug went missing a few days ago, there is a possibility that Timberwolf will be taken down the coast for a court martial."
"Captain Starr, what about Ten Cents?" Sunshine asked, the fate of his friend weighing heavily on his mind. "How are we going to convince the Navy to let him go? He did nothing wrong!"
"Be patient Sunshine." Hercules said in a quiet voice. An idea came to his head, and despite knowing the risks, he felt this would be a good way to safely extract Ten Cents. "Captain Starr, I am not sure if a few telephone calls will convince Timberwolf to change her mind and set Ten Cents free. Let me go in and negotiate a deal with her on your behalf. Besides, I'm not sure if she ordered the communication lines to the Navy's offices here to be cut."
"Hercules, I cannot afford to lose another Star Tug. We will be affected financially if you do go out there and not make it back." Captain Starr replied, shaking his head. "Even if Timberwolf did cut lines, her superiors will come up and discipline her. And knowing your temper, I do not want you to get hurt."
"Captain Starr, Ten Cents will die by the time her bosses arrive!" Hercules snapped, his patience wearing thin. "Waiting for some higher ups will waste what precious time we have left to bring him home. Apologies for raising my voice like this, but I treasure Ten Cents like a brother. I don't want to learn that Timberwolf had him erroneously executed, and surely you won't approve of what a corrupt Navy tug like Timberwolf will do."
Captain Starr was thrown off guard, almost dropping his megaphone. Hercules did have a point. If Timberwolf did indeed kill Ten Cents up, things would have gotten ugly in the court martial. The Star Tugs would forever be affected emotionally, and it would cause them to develop an intense hatred for the Navy and the Z Stacks. After a few minutes of thinking, he said in a gentle voice, "Listen Hercules, I will give you permission to go up to the base and negotiate a deal with Timberwolf. However, I do not always guarantee your safety."
"Don't worry Captain, I'll be sure to make sure Ten Cents and I are safe and sound. Thank you." Hercules smiled, giving a small bow before looking at Sunshine and sighing heavily. "Don't fret it too much my little sunbeam, there is still plenty of time. And besides, it appears the Coast Guard is taking their job of doing a search and rescue and consoling the Zeds very seriously."
"Do you think that'll work though?" Sunshine asked, frowning. "Searching for Zorran is one thing, but the Navy thing is a whole different problem! How do you plan on getting in anyway without some Navy guys catching you?"
"Simple." Hercules calmly replied, starting to make his way towards the entrance of the Star Dock. Sunshine followed close behind, but what he saw startled him. There, on the rooftops of some warehouses, was a flock of ravens. In an instant, the ravens flew from their spot on the rooftops and landed on Hercules's deck.
"How are birds going to help you sneak in? They're not the brightest things around!" Sunshine said, wide eyed that the birds didn't even attack him.
"This is no ordinary birds Sunshine. You remember that one time I came back all covered in raven feathers, don't you?" The ocean tug smiled, calling for Pluto and motioning for the large raven to land on Sunshine's lamp. "This raven here is Pluto, and he has helped me and Hades on numerous occasions. His parents made a nest on my bow during one of my trips to Seattle, but I had to do all the raising since some dock workers poisoned them before I could make the journey home. I had to make sure Pluto was taken care of, and let him free when he was old enough to find a mate. However, he was… really grateful for what I did, and he and his merry flock surprised me during my trip home."
"You mean they…?" Sunshine now had many questions as he struggled to process what Hercules was telling him. "How do you explain the birds that I saw at Lucky's Yard then? They all perched around the yacht like a bunch of-"
"I use them to keep an eye on what vessel died, or who is going to die." Hercules replied. Then, he said in a quiet voice, "I used them to keep tabs on the Zeds as well as the Stars. How do you think I confronted Johnny Cuba as quickly as I did?"
The switcher was now in a stupor of thought, and he could not properly reply. Everything was starting to click, but it was pointless to get angry. His view of Hercules was already altered thanks to the confrontation with Hades at the wreck of Columbus, and questioning him further would have unveiled a side of the ocean tug reserved only for criminals. He quietly nodded, not uttering a single word.
"I'll give you time to think about it m'dear." Hercules sighed, giving a small smile. Pluto quickly flew off and landed on the ocean tug's bow, in a little nest made of tow ropes. "I now need to set off for the Navy headquarters and give Timberwolf a piece of my mind. I may not make it out, but it was nice knowing you. If I do die, tell Big Mac that he's in charge."
Sunshine's eyes widened at those and he tried to catch up, but the ocean tug was gone. With tears rolling down his eyes, he muttered a quick prayer that Ten Cents and Hercules would make it back to the Star Dock safely. He quietly and quickly sailed off towards his next contract, not looking at anyone. As he did so, he didn't look where he was going and struck Zebedee!
"Zebedee!" Sunshine inched back nervously, wondering if he infuriated the harbor tug. After all, Zebedee was carrying a barge of old scrap to be melted down and used for new steel parts. However, he saw that Zebedee had tears rolling down his face. "Is… Is something wrong?"
Zebedee was not one to speak unless spoken to first, and he muttered something under his breath. Perhaps a little cursing here or there. With a groan, he sighed, "Lots of things Star. With Zorran just straight up vanishing with no word from the others, Zero put the mantle on my shoulders until he gets back. I'm… I'm just not ready to be suddenly put on top like this. Zorran was rough yes, but he wanted to keep everyone in order. In the end, he and I did surprisingly alright despite our differences."
Sunshine slowly nodded, and gave a heavy sigh of defeat. It was clear that the two tugs had their own issues and boundaries, but they weren't always bickering from what Sunshine had seen. There were plenty of times where Zorran and Zebedee put their heads together and came up with some elaborate schemes, but Zebedee always made a point to make sure none of the other Z Stacks would get hurt. Sunshine then whispered, "I just hope Zorran makes it back to Bigg City safe and sound. I hate the guy, but he…"
"I know I know." The Z Stack sighed, relaxing slightly. He was getting ready to get back on his journey to the steelworks when he heard a whistle out in the distance. "Oh great." He muttered to himself, and he started to tense up again.
Zak spotted what was happening and sailed forward, and it was clear that he was getting impatient. Now was not the time to fraternize with the enemy, especially after something tragic like this occurred. "There ya are Zeb! Stop gossiping with the little shi-"
"He's a kid Zak! A kid!" Zebedee spat, looking at the other harbor tug with fiery eyes. This trait was rarely exhibited, as he often preferred to simply do and nod what other large vessels told him to do. "Just because he's a Star doesn't mean you shouldn't have to bully him and make him feel like crap. You and Zorran do this all the time with Zug and Zip as is! And no, I won't be handin' the mantle to ya!"
While the two Z Stacks were arguing over what was to be done, Sunshine hurried off. If a fight did break out, he did not want to be caught in the middle. He did not look back, and he wondered if Zebedee was going to make it back safe and sound…
Hercules was getting close to the Navy offices, and it was starting to get rainy. The opportunity to display Hades' control over the weather was quite tempting, but now was not the time. He had to figure out how to approach the place without getting caught, as he was sure there were plenty of Navy patrol vessels scouring the area for intruders. As he sailed on, he noticed the water start to bubble and stopped. "Glad to have you join us Grampus." He said, his voice serious.
"I noticed you were heading the other way, so I wanted to see what was going on." The submarine said, and soon noticed the ravens. "You look like you're on your way to reap despite the weather."
"No, not yet. I have to go negotiate a deal with Miss Timberwolf." Hercules stated, his voice showing anger. "Something tells me that things are going to get messy very quickly, especially since I have to decide on how to get to the Navy offices and back in one piece."
"I can help!" Grampus smiled, wanting to offer his services. "I've traveled there plenty of times, so I can show you what's the easiest way to get in and what isn't! It'll be like old times."
Hercules chuckled and nodded in approval, and the two friends set off for the Navy headquarters. "I bet you Hades is approving of this method. Besides, his preferred method is killing anyone and everyone in sight to save Ten Cents, but I won't approve it." He whispered. "However, shedding blood does sound nice right now…"
Grampus went silent, knowing how deep the Reaper's influence was. "Something tells me Hades wants this rescue mission to be messy. Is he always like this whenever a Star gets involved in something?"
"Not always. However, death and destruction are in his nature." Hercules smiled, and spotted the distinct buildings that belonged to the Navy. He immediately made a right, and hid in a little dockyard that was turned into storage for old munitions. His reflection turned into Hades, and the ocean tug could tell how enthused the other was.
"So we finally get to go in. You mentioned bloodlust to the submarine, and those feelings are justified." He smiled. "Besides, the Navy tug is going to be kicking the bucket soon anyway."
"But how? I don't want Ten Cents and myself to die." Hercules replied, inching forward to watch Grampus hurry over. Based on the expression, it was clear that something happened. "One moment hun, Grampus has some news for us."
"The Navy has it well guarded! At least on the front too!" Grampus wheezed, looking up at Hercules with worried eyes. "Most of those guys are just patrol boats, but they swallow anything you give them. I prefer the Coast Guard vessels to these guys for that alone."
"Like a flock of sheep that follow anything their shepherd says." Hercules said, shaking his head. Those vessels were not strong, but they did try too hard to emulate the higher ranking Navy tugs from what he observed. Perhaps Timberwolf was planning on using them to fulfill her own goals. "I'll have the birds check up for any flaws in their defenses. They don't have guns, right?"
"It's not wartime, but I wouldn't be surprised if Timberwolf armed them." Grampus said, his voice reduced to a hushed whisper. "You wouldn't get hurt badly, but the birds on the other hand will die."
"I lost some yesterday during a separate reaping, so I wouldn't be phased by it." The ocean tug calmly replied. "I'll have them scout the back and the sides. Besides, the weather could get stormy very quickly, and these vessels are not made to stand storms as intense as these."
Lightning flashed in the distance, and Grampus gulped in response. Now things were going to get messier than what he had anticipated. "I'll check the front again to see if anything changes with the weather. Wish me luck!"
"Good luck squirt!" Hercules chuckled, and watched as Grampus submerge under the ocean waves. He looked down at Pluto (who was looking up at him from his place on the bow) and said in a gentle voice, "Pluto, do check for anything vulnerable. Do not push yourself with this weather." Pluto flew off in minutes, the flock joining him.
Outside, the Navy vessels were getting worried. With this kind of weather, the water was getting choppy and making it difficult for them to keep patrolling. "Do ya think we should get inside? I know the boss lady is gonna kill us if we do. I mean, she blew up Hamilton with some TNT!" One of the patrol vessels said.
"We're not tugs, and besides, what if we capsize in this weather!" Another added, trying to shake off rainwater from his deck. "People are gonna laugh at us and say that we're nothing more than scrap."
"Do not abandon your station. Even if the weather worsens, we have to do exactly what Timberwolf tells us! 'No one goes in, no one goes out!' She says. And we will do just that!" A third one (the leader) said, not wanting to deal with the mess.
Hercules was patiently waiting when Pluto returned and shook off the water. "Did you find anything?" He asked, and smiled when he got a polite nod. "Go on, do show." With that, he steamed out of his hiding spot, the weather around him deteriorating. He noticed that the area in front of him was quite empty, and he hummed a small song as he inched forward towards the entrance. However, a few quick calls from Pluto convinced him to enter from the side.
By that time, all except for the leader of the patrol vessels was still outside. The rest of his unit had scurried in for shelter, and he was now muttering something about reporting them all to Timberwolf. He noticed a shape out near the side of the facility and flashed his light, now ready to pounce the intruder. "Halt! Timberwolf says no intruders- Oh crap!"
"Hello there." Hercules greeted, his tone flippant. However, it was clear that he was furious. "I was looking to speak to Timberwolf. I have come to negotiate over the release of Ten-"
"Forget it! Timberwolf was actually going to blow him- CRAP!" The patrol vessel explained, and was cursing when he realized what he just said.
"Blow him up?" Hercules's cheerful tone was gone, and his words started becoming sharp. "Care to repeat what you just said? There is a reason why Bluenose could not even push me to my breaking point. It would be a pity if you did become dead meat."
The Navy vessel panicked and started readying a machine gun that was mounted on his bow with some of his lines. "It's nonsense, it's all nonsense!" He pleaded, not wanting to meet a grisly demise. He had heard from the others about how brutal the ocean tug was against evil doers, but he figured they were just rumors, right? "Leave or I shoot!" He said, now desperate.
"Shooting me is not going to convince me to spare you sweetheart." Hercules spat, inching ever so slightly. It was at that moment the patrol vessel yelped and started opening fire, trying his best to aim at the ocean tug in hopes that the bullets would immobilize or blind him. Because of the rain however, it was making shooting difficult. He then started to fire, but Pluto flew from his nest to take on the vessel.
A few bullets struck the raven, and almost instantly went limp at once and fell into the water. Life quickly faded from his eyes, and Pluto sank into the unforgiving depths below. Hercules watched the events unfold before him helplessly, tears rolling down his cheeks. Sadness quickly turned to rage however, and the water around him began to boil. The patrol vessel tried inching away, but some well-thrown tow ropes stopped him in his tracks. He then attempted to call for help, but Hercules was not letting him go anywhere. The last thing the vessel saw was a flock of ravens, all of their eyes glowing a bright red...
Ten Cents was resting in his shed, wondering if this nap would be his last. The weather made it impossible for the execution to happen, so Timberwolf ordered it to be delayed until the storm subsided. Some patrol vessels were with him at all times, but it was clear that they were frightened. Suddenly, he heard a ear splitting scream and woke up at once. He was sweating nervously, and he quickly looked around to see if anything happened.
One of the patrol vessels noticed this immediately and said, "Relax kid, death is imminent anyway. Unless you got nightmares or something. More sleep means less hassle for us."
Another patrol vessel barged into the shed, and he was white as a ghost. He was inhaling and exhaling quite rapidly, as if he spent time trying to flee for his life from some unknown threat. Perhaps the storm outside made his paint peel, and that he wanted to seek shelter from the waves. However, the scrapes gave away that something serious had happened. "You need to hide, quick!" He pleaded. "My commander decided to keep patrolling and was-"
"What is it man, speak to me!" The first patrol vessel snapped, slapping the other with lines. "I figure he got capsized, right?"
"No… it was much worse." The latter cried, his voice going quiet. "He was smashed. Maimed. Blood was seeping from his face, and his eyes and tongue were removed."
"Probably some stray wood." Another patrol vessel said. "He is still an idiot for going out there in this weather. When's Timberwolf supposed to return anyway?"
While the patrol vessels were arguing, Ten Cents decided this would be a great time for him to escape. He still had some coal, but he wasn't sure if it would be enough to ensure safe passage back to the Star Dock. It was now or never, and he wasn't taking any chances. He quickly and quietly snuck out of the shed, and he hurried over to hide. It wasn't long before he came across a sight that would traumatize him.
Resting on a dockside was the aforementioned patrol vessel, but it looked as though he was dead. His face was bloodied and covered with scratches and holes that dug deep into the skin. His eyes received multiple punctures, and a variety of fluids were quickly seeping out due to the rain. His hull was in no better shape, as his gun mount and whistle had corroded due to rust. Surely, something horrific must have happened. Ten Cents quickly shut his eyes, but something inside him stirred.
"Why are you keeping your peepers shut? Take a look, this is what happens when someone gets in your way." A voice inside him spoke, tempting Ten Cents to open his eyes. Ten Cents quickly gave in, and noticed that the vessel was still alive. His breaths were shallow, but he was alive.
"Run!" He wheezed, spitting out blood. "Something big and-" However he stopped mid sentence and passed out. Ten Cents tried to leave, but his smoke shot out and stabbed the vessel, killing him.
Realizing what he had done, Ten Cents hurried past him with tears in his eyes. It wasn't long before the same pesky voice came into his mind again, but it was more obvious. "Why are you scurrying off like that? You put the guy out of his misery, and I bet you there are plenty of others wanting that sweet release."
"I ain't pleasuring those guys, no way!" Ten Cents snapped at the voice, now taking control. "Besides, we need to get out before Timberwolf comes in and-"
"Hey, what're you doing out here kid!?" A patrol vessel behind him shouted, causing the switcher to panic and stop in his tracks. "Timberwolf is going to be- gargh!"
Grampus emerged, furiously squirting whatever water he had at the patrol vessel. "You can't take this one, he's part of the Star Fleet!" He said, his face unusually serious. "Ten Cents, get out of here! Hercules, he… he…"
"Did he die?" Ten Cents asked, panicking. If the ocean tug did indeed die, the Star Fleet would have been devastated. However, knowing him, another disturbing possibility came up. "Did he get cross?"
"Yes! One of his birds died and he was so furious he did a number to a number of them! I wouldn't get caught in his path if I were you." Grampus explained, quickly submerging to dodge bullets.
Ten Cents nodded and hurried off, dodging bullets as he did so. The patrol vessel cursed and initiated a pursuit, wanting to corral Ten Cents back into the shed. He noticed a canal to his right and sailed past it before suddenly stopping, as the feeling of death was imminent.
"You stopped? That should be easy then!" The patrol vessel chuckled, and scurried forward. He turned to see that Hercules was approaching him, but it was too late! Hercules smashed into him from the side, causing the vessel's hull to crack. He struggled to catch his breath, but his wounds were too great. In less than a minute, the vessel was dead.
Ten Cents was panting heavily, and shut his eyes when he heard the scraping of metal and the patrol vessel struggling for breath. When he opened his eyes, Hercules was right up next to him.
"Thank goodness you're safe. It looks as though Timberwolf did do some damage, and Starr will be furious. We need to get out of this place before Timberwolf returns." Hercules whispered, smiling to assure Ten Cents that things would work out. His body was covered in dents and scratches, but he was still able to sail properly without struggling.
"What's Grampus doing here?" Ten Cents asked, following behind the larger tug with shocked eyes. "I mean, he helped stop a guy and all."
"He wanted to help out, and since he knew this facility well, he did show me a way in." Hercules replied, navigating some canals to try and find a way out. "Now, we need to be quiet. We don't know when Timberwolf will return."
Ten Cents nodded obediently and shut his mouth, but he couldn't help but notice Hades appear in the water. And on the walls. Surely, something serious happened that caused him to manifest like this. The weather had now died down, and it was cloudy. Perfect weather for an escape. Just as they were nearing freedom, Ten Cents heard a whistle and stopped. Hercules stopped as well, and he cursed under his breath to see who it was.
"Leave, shoo! You have no authority to be here." Timberwolf shouted, flashing her light at Hercules. The last thing she needed right now was another Star Tug coming in and trying to interfere with her plans. Especially since she wanted a killing machine on her side. "And what are you doing with my prisoner?"
"I do sweetheart. You detained one of the Star and Marine's tugboats on spurious charges." Hercules snapped, not wincing at how bright Timberwolf's light was and how serious the wound at her eye was. "Captain Starr is currently filing a lawsuit against you, and has notified the Navy of your actions. You may have a court martial too if you don't back down, considering that another Navy tug went missing while you were up here."
"Nonsense, it was that Zero tug who was trying to tell me the truth!" The Navy tug said, refusing to believe what she was doing was wrong. "Even if your company goes in shambles because of this, Bigg City will be a safer and happier place. We can do as we please without having to worry about a Grim Reaper killing so many innocent vessels!"
"You didn't even listen to what I was saying. He was intending on doing this for his own company's profit, not our safety." The ocean tug replied, his flippant tone becoming cold and sharp. "Bringing about the destruction of his competitors for money was in his nature. And I figured he bribed you, yes?"
"I do not take bribes!" Timberwolf snapped. She didn't even notice Ten Cents trying to slip out of her line of sight. Or how Hercules was becoming more and more furious. Either way, he did not want to get caught in the ocean tug's war path.
"You most certainly do, as Ten Cents here discovered." Hercules said, taking her outburst as confirmation that she was engaging in illegal activities. "And torturing an innocent too? Imagine the headlines Timberwolf. Your name will be forever tarnished, and a hiss to vessels everywhere. If I were you, I would admit my mistakes. Just because you were mistreated by others does not mean you should force them to be in your position."
Each word he spoke cut to the core, causing Timberwolf's soul to shake. Yes, what she was doing was wrong, and it would have serious implications. However, her pride made it very difficult for her to admit defeat. "And what would you if I blew up the Grim Reaper then? Or tell the world that you helped him escape?"
"Oh, that is where you're mistaken Timberwolf. The real one snuck into this dock, leaving carnage in his wake." Hercules smirked, motioning for Ten Cents to get behind him and leave. "And he prefers to have no eyewitnesses to what he has done. Why do you think so many vessels who try to report him get mutilated in the most unimaginable ways?"
"YOU. You really had something to do with all of this mess, didn't you?" The Navy tug was infuriated, realizing that Hercules did indeed have something to do with this and that Zorran was right. "Then that means I grabbed the wrong tug! Do you know where the real Grim Reaper is then? Or who even is the Grim Reaper?"
The ocean tug bravely inched forward, his reflection in the water contorting. "He's been sailing in Bigg City this whole time, and yet you were so caught up in that search and rescue operation that you didn't bat an eye to him slipping in." He said, his eyes starting to flicker red. "You see Timberwolf, I am the Grim Reaper. An insatiable urge for collecting souls combined with my charm. Truly a combination to behold."
Timberwolf was seeing red, and she was getting ready to charge and end the ocean tug. However, before any attempt was made, she noticed that Hercules was suddenly alight in flame! She closed her eyes in a panic, wondering if her time had come. Ten Cents gasped and tried to scurry off for freedom, but something inside him forced him to stop and watch. The bright flames quickly crept through his hull, greedily consuming every exposed part on his deck. However, Hercules received no damage whatsoever. The fire died down as quickly as it started, and Timberwolf slowly opened her eyes to see that Hades was standing in Hercules' place.
"Oh I've been waiting so long to meet you Timberwolf." The maroon tug chuckled, licking his serrated teeth. "You're afraid to admit it, but I have the upper hand in this situation. Your subordinates are dead. You are disowned by your Navy. The only tug you have to blame for this mess is yourself."
"You have evaded capture for so long Reaper, I was starting to wonder if I would ever find you." The Navy tug said, and drew out some dynamite sticks. "Now I have no choice but to kill you and your friend. You have been nothing but a thorn to my side, and you're the reason why my plans will never be a reality." With that, she used her ropes to set the dynamite on fire on fling them at Hades.
The sticks were sloppily thrown and hit the water, and the fire fizzled out. Hades watched and asked, "What sort of plans did you have in mind woman? I am not all-knowing, so it is preferred that you tell me."
"She wanted to use Reapers as weapons!" Ten Cents blurted out, causing Timberwolf to snarl with rage. "She tried to get me to manifest my powers, and use me to pretty much kill off the Navy!"
"You still remember? When I'm done with you, I'll have your fleet destroyed!" Timberwolf spat, and some of the patrol vessels approached her. "Bug off! This one is mine!" She hissed, turning to face them. The vessels glared at her and hurried off, abandoning her to her fate. "Cowards." She muttered under her breath, and started lighting more sticks immediately. She threw them with more vigor, wanting the two vessels standing in her way to sink or succumb to their wounds.
Hades quickly shot out his smoke from his stack to try and catch the sticks. The smoke cupped the dynamite, containing the explosion. To his shock however, the smoke dissipated and a few spirits screeched and vanished into the night. "Hercules you know my weakness is dynamite! Do something!" He said to himself, now panicking.
"It seems you Reapers are not immune to the effects of modern weaponry. I wanted to use your kind in my plans." She said, now igniting a few more sticks of dynamite. Ten Cents watched and realized that Hades would be weakened very quickly if Timberwolf continued to attack like this. When Timberwolf threw those sticks, Ten Cents hurried forward past the maroon tug and in front of Timberwolf. A stick landed close to where he was and exploded! Ten Cents was caught in the blast, and his hull started to crack.
"Ten Cents!" Hades roared, showing fear in his voice. This little one was a good friend, and he could not afford to lose him like this. He hurried over, his maroon paint becoming yellow and his hat becoming white. Hercules had taken control.
"You don't have much of a choice, don't you Reaper?" Timberwolf chuckled, inching forward. "If you join me in my cause, I will let this switcher go. Refuse, and I will sink him myself."
Even if Hercules didn't show it, he was now panicking and wondered what he should do. On one hand, Ten Cents would be spared from further indignation at the hands of Timberwolf. On the other hand, he would be used and abused by the Navy. Avenging Ten Cents would be nice, but then he would have to be destroyed. As he mulled over what to do, Ten Cents was quickly fading.
Without warning, a distinct maroon smoke slowly slipped out. Hercules looked up and started panicking. "Hades get back in here this instant! You're weak to dynamite!" He exclaimed, but his words were in vain.
"What is that?" Timberwolf gasped, looking at the smoke. For the first time in her life, she was scared of what was to come. The smoke was thin, but it was oppressive. Then, in an instant, two red orbs appeared in the center of the mist, followed by a grin with serrated teeth. Timberwolf quickly inched back and looked at Hercules, her skin going pale. "Do something about it!"
"I can't!" Hercules admitted, watching the smoke slink around Ten Cents and feel every nook and cranny. "Besides, if we make a wrong move he'll kill us both!"
Timberwolf was about to inch forward when the smoke entered through the crack in his hull. Ten Cents' eyes widened and he screamed with sheer terror, and he felt himself burst into flame. His gold paint became maroon, and the cosmetic changes became more and more apparent. He struggled to shake off whatever evil was corrupting his being, but he couldn't!
Hercules shut his eyes, knowing how intense the heat felt. When he opened them, he was horrified to see what was standing in front of him. The switcher had succumbed to Hades's influence it seemed, and to make it worse, his name had changed. Instead of Ten Cents, the name "Charon" was etched into his bow and stern.
Charon looked up at Timberwolf with a mischievous grin, shaking off the blast wound as if it was nothing. "You see whore, you only made the situation worse." He taunted, inching forward.
Timberwolf tried to call for help, but was disappointed when no help would come. She inched back nervously, hoping and praying that the demonic switcher would spare her. "And what if I refuse to give into your demands?" She asked, trying to remain strong despite everything. "I bet you aren't as terrifying as Hades."
"Ten Cents, don't do anything too reckless. After all, we can't die here!" Hercules called out, pleading for Charon to make a logical decision.
"Too reckless?" Charon asked, chuckling. "Maybe we can sweep off that dynamite for a start!" With that, he shot some of his ropes to sweep away whatever dynamite Timberwolf had remaining. He then looked back at Hercules and asked, "What kind of reckless do you want?"
Hercules went pale at what Charon was doing, and realized that Hades had more to do with just corrupting him. In fact, he wasn't even sure how long Hades had been influencing Ten Cents. He was going to have to speak to the Reaper later. "She has a court martial, remember? I want to make sure she is served justice." He said, now taking authority.
Timberwolf tried to attack, but Charon shot out his smoke to crack her hooter and damaged her mounted guns. She tried to retreat, but was so frightened that she couldn't. She was certainly done for. Charon watched this and asked, "Now what?"
"My little angel, let me make sure she is ready to be tried. Grampus and I will take you to Lucky's for repairs once I'm done." Hercules calmly ordered, and he watched as Charon vanished. Ten Cents took his place, and he immediately blacked out due to the pain from the wound and the amount of energy used as Charon. Grampus quickly emerged and gently plugged the crack Ten Cents received, and he watched as Hades trickled back into his host.
Timberwolf tried to take one final stand, but screamed as Hercules turned back into Hades and lunged at her. Using his smoke, he pried open her mouth and caused her tongue to disintegrate to nothing more than just mere flesh and blood. She would have to rely on an interpreter now, but Hades did not care. Hades, Grampus, and Ten Cents hurried off for Lucky's Yard, leaving the Navy tug to cry in pain and defeat.
And with that, Death on the Water is finally finished! This story has been very fun for me to write, and some of the more intense bits developed as my spring semester went on. I also used some online experiences to help out with some of this story, mainly Timberwolf.
A sequel will probably wash up during the summer, so stay tuned for more!