Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1 - Cover

Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1

Copyright© 2023 by Uruks

Chapter 21: The Pirate King

Using long-range weaponry, we finally managed to get a DNA sample from the main specimen. It was a long and difficult process. The creature’s hide was extremely durable. We had to use the highest yield possible just to scratch it, and even then, I doubt we injured it much. Subject Zero retreated into deep space, but a sufficient amount of tissue samples were found when it left. The project can now proceed.

Leon, along with everyone else on the bridge of the Boar’s Head, watched Mozar’s headless corpse in stunned silence.

Strass was the first to speak. “J-Jimmy? Wha-What are you doing here, lad?”

James gave Strass a friendly wave. “Oh, you know, just passing through, and decided to off the most dangerous bounty hunter in the universe.”

Leon wasn’t surprised that James knew Strass, but what did surprise him ... I almost thought James was a man of integrity. A pirate, yes, but an honorable one in a way ... at least I was starting to think he was. He treated Mozar like a friend, like a mentor. How could he...

Leon noticed Savine gape at the dead body of her hated enemy. Her mouth hung open and her organic eye went wide with surprise as if she couldn’t believe that he was really dead. She stood stark still for the longest time. Leon realized that everyone else was watching her to see how she would react. Finally, Savine scowled, and gave a soft growl as she stalked over to Mozar’s body. She pawed him warily, checking his wrist for a pulse. Leon didn’t see the point, but then he remembered the Fallen. He knew there were avenues in Elemency to come back even from something like getting one’s head blown off. Werewolves did possess powerful regeneration after all, so powerful that humans of Ancient Earth thought them immortal and concocted the myth of silver bullets in order to kill them. A Werewolf as old and as strong as Mozar probably possessed abilities well beyond that of ordinary Lycans. Having been Mozar’s enemy for so long, Savine no doubt had just cause to suspect a trick of some kind.

While Savine examined Mozar, James briefly glanced over at Leon. In an instant, Leon realized the danger that the pirate posed to him. Would James be fooled like everyone else into thinking that Leon had really switched sides? Would he accuse Leon of being a double agent just to get close to Brocktree? Then again, if it came to that, Leon could point a finger back at James for conspiring to overthrow the Pirate King.

Just as quickly as James glanced at Leon, he looked away as if he didn’t recognize him. Then Leon recalled that during the briefing, James did want to keep it secret that he had smuggled in Leon along with the others. Perhaps he wished to keep up that pretense. Leon decided that he would do what Lucille said, and just play along with whatever happened. If James was contented to act like they didn’t know each other, then Leon would do the same. There was still Savine with a great number of her Werecats remaining. He needn’t stir the waters just yet.

Savine rose stiffly and glared at James. It almost seemed like she was angry at him for stealing away the pleasure of killing Mozar herself. “Captain James Morgan. You’re one of Mozar’s companions, are you not? You’ve been known to do business with him in the past. Why would you kill him? How did you even come here in the first place?”

James shrugged, removing his customary shades and putting them in a pocket on his coat. “Pirate’s life, luv. Business takes precedence over acquaintanceship. Many of me mates were on this raid to off that slime, Tremel.”

James then gestured to the corpse of the Minoboar among the dozens of bodies littering the large bridge. “I had a lot riding on his death, same as most of the blokes here. When I heard there was trouble about, I did what any sensible citizen looking after their prospects would do, and got involved.”

James then pointed down at Mozar’s corpse and grimaced. “Now it’s true, the crotchety pooch and I were old business partners a ways back, but me loyalty is to the Pirate King. He was fightin’ against Brocktree’s side, plain as day. Don’t see as how you need more explanation than that.”

Savine studied James carefully as if attempting to detect a lie. When James met her penetrating gaze unflinchingly, the Werecat turned away. She didn’t look completely satisfied, but she had other concerns as she turned her attention to Strass.

“Any word on the team we sent to capture his companions?”

Strass, who seemed lost in his thoughts up until that point, quickly shook his head. “I-I just got a message back from one of the ships in pursuit. They said that the enemy used a kamikaze run to destroy one of the hovercraft pursuing them before boarding one of the other skiffs. Their own ship was damaged from the blast, so they had to break off to make repairs. Shortly after that, they saw another one of our hovercraft approaching the first, but then both ships went up in a blast of lightning, likely from that Elemental girl you fought. They couldn’t see exactly what happened since they were too far away, but it don’t look like there were any survivors, and their scanners didn’t detect any signs of teleporting. They say the Elementals likely died with the rest of our boys.”

Leon felt his blood go cold with rage. He almost took Strass’ head off then and there, but Lucille spoke into his thoughts once again. Don’t worry, Leon. They’re alive. I sent someone to pick them up and only made it look like they died.

Leon felt a brief bout of relief at hearing that Rachel and Torsha had escaped, but he betrayed none of those feelings. He had more than a few questions for Lucille now, but he didn’t think she was lying to him. She had never outright lied to him before. He decided to accept her explanation for now, and question her later about the ‘someone’ she sent to pick them up.

Though Savine gave little reaction at Strass’ news, her ears did twitch in irritation. At some level, she did feel remorse at knowing that her people had died. Leon had heard that the bonds of camaraderie within the Pride were almost as strong as the Pack’s.

“Y-you think there might be more Elementals like them lurking about in the Inner City?” Strass asked hesitantly.

Savine’s gaze then focused on Leon, and she gave him a wicked, toothy grin as she licked a stray drop of blood that ran down her cheek from one of the wounds that Mozar had inflicted upon her. “Well, if Lucille is to be believed, this one can help us ferret out any more rats hiding in our midst.”

Savine then growled something indistinguishable to her Werecat companions, jerking a blade-like finger from her mechanical hand at them. Leon lacked the universal translator that his Psionic Armor provided him, so he didn’t catch what she said. He knew many alien dialects, but the primitive growling noises that Werecats often employed always baffled him.

Four Werecats came forward and carefully took up Mozar’s corpse. Blood still dribbled from the gory hole where the Werewolf’s head used to be, leaving a trail of crimson on the rusty floor wherever they carried him. Another Werecat went past the others to pull out Mozar’s golden staff still embedded in the wall, and then walked alongside the makeshift funeral procession. Leon once heard that many warrior races would not allow the weapons of the dead be parted from them; even their enemies were often offered the same consideration. Their wary treatment of his body and his staff could’ve almost been called respectful.

“What’re they doing?” James asked.

Savine didn’t even turn to acknowledge James as she watched the Werecats cart Mozar’s body away. It seemed like she half-expected his headless corpse to arise and start killing her companions at any moment. “Mozar was clever. Too clever to die like this. I find it hard to believe that you, a normal human monkey without Elemency, could’ve snuck up on him like that.”

James brought his palms up innocently. “Just gonna look past that racist comment, then. And I might add that not even you lot noticed me. I may talk a good game, but I can be real quiet-like when I need to be. Your senses may be sharp, but not even the hunters can see and hear everything at once ... not in the midst of battle at any rate. Besides, me scent is more familiar to Mozar. He was used to my smell being that of an ally, so it would be harder for him to sense a threat from me.”

Savine still refused to turn to James as her crew carried Mozar into one of their hovercrafts. A platform lowered to allow them entry. Then she finally turned back to James, and her gaze was so intense that he flinched away briefly. “I also know that Mozar developed a very specialized technique to create Psionic Doubles. Most Doubles embody the elements of their creators, dissolving into mist or stone when they deplete their psions depending on the Psionic User. However, Mozar can create Doubles that bleed. They even come complete with their own bones and organs. If that is truly Mozar’s body, I’ll know soon enough. A thorough examination will reveal any abnormalities. Besides, his Doubles can only maintain their form temporarily, so if it melts away after a while, that means that Mozar is still alive.”

Savine said that last part with what almost sounded like hope, as if she actually wanted someone she hated to still live. Leon supposed that hate sometimes worked in strange ways, much like love did. He also felt like chiding himself for not remembering. Mozar had used that Psionic Double when they fought the Fallen on their ship. It looked like Mozar had died, but it was just a decoy. Leon still had no idea how Mozar could make Psionic Doubles that looked so convincingly like the genuine article even after death. Whenever Leon’s Psionic Doubles were defeated, they turned into wind, and he could only create one by imbuing a Sun Gem with his essence beforehand. It was not a trick he could employ at will, at least not yet.

Savine gave Leon a sideways glance with her mechanical eye. “Captain James. Mystic Leon. It’s time to go. Brocktree will want to speak with both of you.”

Leon noticed Lucille watching him, her ever-present coy smile almost evoking that familiar sense of rapture he once felt only in her presence. She leaned in close, and whispered seductively in his ear, “Time to find out how deep this rabbit hole goes, my love.”

About half an hour later, Leon was shuttled to Platform 181. It was one of the larger platforms that floated near the center of Nirvana. The platform was one of the places that James had suspected to be the Pirate King’s dwelling, but had never quite confirmed. James, Savine, Strass, and Lucille were all there with him, along with a few dozen Werecats. Leon didn’t even look at James throughout the trip, and the Pirate Captain seemed content to do the same. Given what he knew about Mozar’s abilities, Leon did wonder if there was more to James’ actions than met the eye, but now was certainly not the time to ask.

The hovercraft came to float over an open square that served as a marketplace. The vendors and merchants, which consisted of various races of humans and Demihumans, quickly packed up their wares. Each of the mechanical stalls shrank down, becoming large floating boxes that the tradesmen could drag behind them with ease. Within moments, the square was clear, and the hovercraft landed with a slight jostle.

Leon was confused at first as he expected them to arrive at some kind of facility or concealed fortress. Before he could voice his thoughts, the Werecat pilot growled something into his wrist communicator. An instant later, Leon heard a loud hissing noise similar to steam escaping. Then the hovercraft began to sink. It only took Leon a moment to realize that the spot they had landed was a well-concealed elevator, and that they were being lowered into what was no doubt the Pirate King’s lair.

Clever, thought Leon to himself. We were expecting a fortress on one of the platforms. Instead, the whole platform is his fortress.

The elevator lowered into a vast chasm of metal. As they sank deeper and deeper beneath the ground, the hole where they entered was soon covered by a metal lid, leaving them in complete darkness for a good bit of their descent. Leon instinctively flared his senses to their utmost in case any of the Werecats made a move on him. He knew perfectly well that Werecats could see better in the dark than most could in regular lighting. Truthfully, Leon had always found the dark uncomfortable as his parents had often sealed him in a dark room for days at a time in order to teach him mastery of his senses. Of all the tortures his parents had devised to ‘train’ him, that was by far the most psychologically horrendous as he sometimes had no idea when they would let him out, or if they would let him out at all. His only comfort during such times had been Lucille who was occasionally allowed to share the dark room with him. They often cuddled together and cried softly in each other’s arms while waiting in the dark when they were children. It was the only time that they were allowed to cry.

Leon quickly shook off such thoughts as he found himself almost seeking out Lucille in that moment, just like he used to as a boy. He knew where she was. He could sense her just a few feet to his right, and he had no doubt that she could feel him as well. She didn’t try to speak to him telepathically again, but still, despite everything she had done to him recently, it was somehow nice just to know she was near. If only he could be certain that she had something nice in store for him with whatever route her trickery would lead.

Light soon returned as floating, silver lanterns hovering around the large underground facility sprang to life. It was then that Leon saw the fortress. The huge hall they had entered was only the entrance, one of many he suspected to be hidden throughout Platform 181. The elevator that the hovercraft sat on, which was also floating like the lanterns, was taking them towards a large boxlike structure that sat at the bottom of the giant metallic cavern. Brocktree’s fortress looked inelegant, something that Leon had come to expect from most Dwarven craft. It was large, at least as big as a capital ship, roughly a mile long and half a mile wide. It stood about half a mile tall, giving it a long, rectangular build. Dark, gray plating lined the structure, and Leon could already see hundreds of lights turn on from windows on the sides. The only thing noteworthy about the building was the front which had been fashioned to resemble the face of an angry Dwarf. The silver metal around the entrance was etched to resemble the beard, and the opened mouth was shaped into an eternal roar of fury. The huge mouth also served as the doorway as a darkened path led into the structure, almost like a hangar. Gun turrets were placed in the metallic Dwarf’s eye sockets as well as the nostrils on the nose. The automatic weapons were already trained on the approaching hovercraft. As the group drew closer to the structure, Leon noticed a faint shimmer around the large opening, and he realized that there was a forcefield in place.

When the elevator came to rest outside the gigantic mouth, the Werecat pilot growled something else, and the faint shimmer fizzled out as the forcefield deactivated. Then the hovercraft rose into the air yet again as they were flown inside. A few moments later, after stopping in some kind of landing facility inside the fortress, they were ushered forward into dimly lit corridors. None of the Werecats spoke to Leon as they walked, but he got the sense that they were assessing him somehow. He didn’t know if they knew he was a Lurranna, but the way they looked at him made him feel like a mouse among lions. No doubt they were wondering if he was something that they could kill and eat. He suspected that if he didn’t prove his value soon, that was exactly what they would do.

They soon came to a large chamber that seemed to be a throne room of some kind. At the top of a tall dais sat a short humanoid that could only be Vladar Brocktree, the Dwarven Pirate King. Below him, his throne was surrounded by at least a hundred armed gunmen, each one dressed similarly to Strass’ men.

The Dwarf waved a mechanical hand that was shaped like crab claws, the pinchers rotating almost similar to a drill. “Back at last, eh, Savine? Good hunt, then? And Lucille, my sweet, is this the young man you’ve told me so much about? I hope you haven’t cozied up to him too much yet, otherwise, I might get jealous.”

If there was anything more inelegant than Brocktree’s fortress, it was Brocktree himself. Both the Dwarf’s eyes were gone, leaving only black, binocular-like spectacles that zoomed in and out of Brocktree’s skull. Both his hands had been replaced with metal pinchers which clicked and spun randomly. The Dwarf wore a sleeveless wool vest that was left open to reveal his muscular bare chest and abs. He wore a red bandana over his head, brown leather pants, and huge black boots. Lining both the vest and his pants were many small pistols, knives, and grenades. He couldn’t have been more than four and a half feet tall, but despite his short stature, the Dwarf looked quite powerful, and Leon had no doubt that he was. Dwarves tended to be a lot stronger than their size suggested, and a lot meaner too. However, Brocktree’s impressive physique was downplayed by his hideous face, bulbous nose, and yellow-stained teeth. His long, black beard was unkempt and scraggly, decorated with human fingers. A large, brown cigar was clenched between his teeth, slurring his words slightly when he spoke. The cigar was lit and partially obscured the Dwarf’s face with smoke.

Lucille stepped in front of Leon, took the tips of her cloak in her hands, and gave a delicate curtsy. “No need for such a sentiment, my dear Pirate King. You know that I am not exclusive to any one man. He can’t have me any more than you have already.”

Leon felt his eyebrows twitch ever so slightly. The thought of Lucille bedding this repulsive little imp made him feel a surge of outrage. He had to physically suppress a sudden urge to send a torrent of wind that would’ve destroyed the Pirate King and most of those beneath his throne. Again, Leon had to remind himself that a lot had changed, that Lucille was not his anymore. In truth, she never had been. Besides, he was with Éclair now, so there was no need to feel jealous, especially of this disgusting little toad that she was just using to get something she wanted. Although, what Lucille could want from the likes of Brocktree that she couldn’t get for herself was difficult to contemplate.

Brocktree gave a throaty laugh. “Too right, me lovely. I don’t think I have to tell you, lad, your friend here is a mighty friendly gal.”

The little bastard licked his disgusting yellow teeth after saying that last part, and Leon once again had to try very hard to keep himself from killing the wee cretin. Soon, he’d have Brocktree in his thrall anyway, so there was no need to rush things.

Leon forced a smile. “Oh, I know just how friendly Lucille here is.” He gave her a sideways glance, and said under his breath so that only she heard, “To all kinds of men, apparently.”

Lucille pretended not to hear as she continued smiling up at Brocktree. “Leon more than proved himself earlier. Things played out as I said they would. Mozar was working with some Elementals and a group of Werewolf Mercenaries that smuggled themselves in not too long ago. They were trying to assassinate Savine. The battle might’ve gone poorly if not for Leon’s welcomed aid.”

“That’s true, Cap’n,” piped in Strass, a man whose presence Leon had completely forgotten. Strass nodded to Leon with his metal chin. “This lad even saved me life. Things could’ve turned out right nasty for us if not for him.”

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