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G.R.V. Stone

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Bloody Pulp: Assassin of the Strange and Unusual
by G.R.V. Stone   

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Copyright:  Aug 23, 2010


Pulp the assassin leads a motley crew of fantasy creatures on a quest to find what could be Terra Ferna's last human.

Welcome to the world of Terra Ferna, where oceanic travel is against the law, an elfin king rules with an iron fist, and the human race is all but extinct. Or so it was believed. The dark wizard Archimedes has managed to locate a human female and he wants her for his own. Enter the monstrous assassin, Pulp who thought his days of bounty hunting were long over, but the wizard’s offer is just too good to pass up. With the acquisition of an airship, a neurotic scarecrow for a first mate, and a motley crew of sailors that include armor clad skeletons, a belligerent dwarf and a suave and dashing demon, Pulp takes to the skies unaware of the dangers that await him. Through high flying gremlins, bullheaded centaurs and a dangerous and relentless adversary that has his own plans for the human girl, Pulp dives head first into the mission, determined to come out in the end paid in full despite his growing affection for the human in his charge.

For a time, there was darkness. The kind of all consuming darkness that hides the deepest hollows of madness in its blackened folds. Then came a flash of light, brilliant and searing. He felt different after that. He felt alive.

.. ..

Pulp awoke from the strange dream that didn’t really seem like a dream at all. He looked around the cabin sure he had been pulled out of sleep by someone, yet found no trace of the grouchy old ghost or any other being. Looking out onto the deck he could see that the elf had finally stopped feeling sorry for herself and gone below. Or, perhaps got fed up with it all and took a nosedive overboard.

With a grunt, the assassin stood and secured his guns that remained strapped to his thighs. Then, still wearing nothing over his broad chest, he walked out into the alley. From the sleeping quarters below, he could hear the mish mash of snoring and muttering that came with a crew full of assholes that had drank themselves into unconsciousness.

When Pulp came up on deck, the frigid air of the ships high altitude hit his bare skin with the harshness of a bullet in the gut. He quietly surveyed the area. The steady creak of the masts, the fluttering whip of the sails, besides these things he heard no other sound. He chalked the uneasy feeling up to the obscure dream.

Turning his attention to the bridge he wasn’t the least bit surprised to find Herb, still wide awake at the helm. Smiling, Pulp climbed the stairs to join the scarecrow.

“I knew I did right by making you my first mate,” the assassin proclaimed.

“Well, you know the old saying,” Herb said. “No sleep for the… something or another.”

Pulp studied the scarecrow a moment and said; “Can’t say I’ve heard that one.”

The two were quiet for a long while, letting the complete feeling of freedom wash over them along with the gusting wind. There was something else there, though. That feeling that Pulp experienced before was back on him. Something just under the surface of everything else, like a vague sense of static electricity before the shock.

Pulp walked back down the stairs to the deck and out to the center. Studying the sky, his hands dropped instinctively to his hips where they tickled the cold steel of the .50 caliber revolvers that only he could shoot.

Silence. Underneath the sounds coming from the ship, there was only silence.

He sniffed the air. Nothing out of the ordinary, except maybe a dampness that seemed out of place. A salty dampness that he supposed could be coming from the ocean far below. But, somehow he didn’t think so.

Movement caught his eye. A gray blur from high up near the top of the mast and moving fast behind the sails.

“What’s wrong?” Herb called down to him.

“Nothing,” Pulp said, trying to bluff the invader on the ship. He walked back toward the bridge. By the time the assassin reached the top of the stairs, the attacker made its move with an angry screech. The creature was fast, but not fast enough. Pulp brought the heavy .50 caliber revolver up as he spun to meet his adversary head on. The ensuing blast sent the monster reeling back against the main mast, painting the weathered wood with a spattering of green innards.

Pulp walked over to the limp and broken body lying on the deck and Herb joined him.

“A gremlin?” Herb asked.

“Worse,” Pulp answered. “A sky gremlin.”

Yes, much worse. While the common gremlins often had a nasty temper and were known to stow away on airships from time to time, they could still be reasoned with. Sometimes you could even get them to agree to work on the ship for the ride. Sky gremlins, however, were much more hostile. Their only joy in life seemed to be creating mayhem for the airships that were unfortunate enough to fly through one of their clouds. They were savage, brutal creatures with large, toothy mouths that seemed to be stretched into a perpetual grin. Thin, almost translucent, grey skin was pulled taught over scrawny yet somehow powerful muscles. Their malicious faces spread back over bulging skulls and faded over in a wave of dirty dreadlocks.

Pulp looked up into the dark clouds that had taken up residence around the ship. Herb must have noticed the sudden tension in his posture.

“What is it?” the scarecrow asked, now studying the sky as well. “Do you see more?”

“There’s always more,” Pulp grumbled.

The rest of the crew was making their way out onto the deck, apparently awakened by the gun blast.

“What’s with all the noise?” O’Toole asked.

Before the assassin could answer the question, the ship was under full attack.

They came from all around. Hundreds of them riding the wind currents with help from the flaps of skin that stretched from their hips to their elbows. Screeching and growling in angry protest. In the next second, Pulp had both of his heavy .50 caliber revolvers blazing at the enemies overhead. An instant after that, Tilson’s .45 chimed in, firing with lethal accuracy into the crowd of attackers. The gremlins that were brave enough to drop down on the deck were quickly being cut down by her Cutlass and the Shamus brothers with their Scimitars. Even the dwarf, Tobias had joined the fight welding a battle ax that was nearly as big as he was.

There was a loud rip from above and Pulp looked up to see one of the gremlins ripping into a sail.

“DAMMIT!” Pulp exclaimed. Another blast from the revolver in his right hand sent the shattered remnants of the creature’s head twirling through the air. He quickly came to the realization that the pesky monsters were interested in more than just terrorizing the crew. He watched with growing rage as two more gremlins sank their powerful teeth into the ship’s deck.

Pulp shot the one nearest to him, creating a sickening, green smear on the polished wood of the deck. The other met the downswing of a flaming blade. O’Toole was wielding a sword that seemed as if it glowed with the very flames of hell.

“Their trying to rip the ship apart,” the demon shouted.

Pulp didn’t respond. Instead, he turned back to the wave of gremlins that were flying down from above. Raising the guns, he shot the chambers empty with unyielding accuracy. Then, he quickly re-loaded the guns from the rounds in his belt. His large fingers no more than a blur as they went about their work.

As the assassin brought the guns back up to bare, he caught sight of Herb running across the deck with a sickle in each hand and Pulp briefly wondered if either of the tools had been used against the village of humans that died at his hands all those years ago. The crescent shaped blades flashed in the moonlight, effectively removing limbs, spilling guts, and separating heads from bodies.

“Herb!” Pulp shouted pulling the trigger on a gremlin as its feet hit the deck. “Get the ship away from this cloud.”

The scarecrow abandoned his attack and ran for the bridge. Meanwhile, Pulp and Tilson continued to fire on the gremlins that were falling from the bloated cloud like psychotic raindrops and the others used bladed weapons to slice through the attackers on deck.

The ship lurched downward and for a moment, Pulp was struck with the startling idea that the gremlins had managed to do enough damage to their fragile little ship to bring it crashing down into the volatile ocean below. He looked to the bridge to see Herb at the helm, calmly maneuvering away from the imposing cumulonimbus cloud that housed the mischievous family of sky gremlins.

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