Another Day, Another Threat

Amalia Eckern

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For the first time since living at the Desamparado Wharf Amalia had a door to her home. An honest-to-arbiter door! Not a curtain of beads or thick canvas cloth, but one with hinges and everything! Juno stood in front of her handiwork, smiling softly. Thick vines intertwined with sheet metal, forming Amalia’s door, complete with a lazy-looking sunflower listing off to one side. Amalia smiled and rushed towards the door pulling at the vine-latch and watching in glee as the cogwheel hinges allowed the door to open. Her cabin had once been a dreary cavern now it was a bounty of technologically imbued plantlife.

“Thank you so much!” Amalia exclaimed, hugging her friend tightly, “I, I don’t know how I could ever possibly repay you.”

“Ahh, don’t worry about it Kid,” Juno said, patting Amalia on the back.

Amalia peeled away and rushed inside. She marvelled at every new addition to her home. Fragrant flowers fought back the stench of briney fish that suffused the wharf’s airspace. Herbs grew in neat manicured rows above a solar powered stove top. Juno pointed out which ones were medicinal and which ones were simply tasty additions to meals. Glowing bulbs of plant matter provided a warm ambient light that not only kept the cabin lit, but also warded against cold sea breezes. And best of all? Amalia’s cot had been replaced by a bed fashioned together from drift wood and cotton plants.

“Erin!” Amalia exclaimed, “Come out, you have to see this!”

The raven spirit materialized from her hair, taking form mid-flight and landing on a nearby shelf. Curiously the bird strutted around, carefully examining every last corner of its surroundings.

“This is… nice,” Erin finally agreed, “However it lacks any sort of mantle with which to hang the butchered corpses of our enemies.”

“That uhhh, costs extra,” Juno quickly interjected.

“Hush, Erin, it’s perfect in every way,” Amalia said, turning again to Juneberry, “Seriously, thank you. This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me since, well…”

She trailed off. Her parent’s betrayal was still fresh in her mind. A deep aching pain ran along her spine as invisible spirits wormed through her nervous system. The ninja doctor’s blessed lozenge had driven most of the nasty spirits from her body, but a few persistent imps had managed to stick around and seemed committed to making her life miserable. Amalia sat down on the edge of her bed, squeezing her eyes against the pain. She could still see the look on her father’s face as he smashed open the daemonbox in order to turn her into a weapon for Darkseid. It would be a long time before she forgot that face.

“You okay Kid?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, sorry to bring the mood down,” She answered, wiping a tear from her eye, “So, uh, what do you plan on doing now that all of this is done?”

Juneberry didn’t answer for a moment, her face scrunching up in thought, “Uhm, well, to be honest I haven’t had time to give it much thought.”

Amalia went to speak, but a booming voice crashed through the walls of her cabin, “Hear ye, people of Desamparado Wharf!

Amalia and Juno shared a look. The voice sounded like it had come from a loudspeaker. Amalia stood and stuck her head outside. Floating alongside the wharf was a massive ship. A skull-n-crossbones flag waved precariously in the wind and bronze letters along its hull read The Devil’s Advocate. Hanging from the crow’s next, clutching a megaphone was one of the saltiest looking sea dog’s Amalia had ever seen. He grinned and nodded towards Amalia as the ship listed further down the wharf.

“I be Cap’n Renshaw Vance, me an’ me crew be comin’ on behalf o’ the great Captain Nemo to parley with ye,” Amplified by the megaphone his voice reached every last ear in the wharf, “Hear me well ye’ scabby sea basses, ye’ way o’ life is threatened and it ain’t be by no Darkseid either!”

Amalia shivered, excitement ran through her bones. Sure Desamparado Wharf had its fair share of pirates, but compared to Renshaw Vance’s vessel they might as all have been rowing dinghies. A crowd of half-interested parties had begun following after the ship. With a glance towards Juno she padded after the ship, following its course towards the wharf’s docks.

“Nay Darkseid be nothin’ but a salt-suckin’ scallywag compared to what threatens ye’ now,” Cap’n Vance continued, “Andrew Ryan and his city of bilge-suckin’ dogs have risen from Davy Jone’s locker to do in every last sea dog on this lovely little blue world. So people of Desamparado Wharf I come to ye’ on behalf of Captain Nemo to ask for help from any able-bodied old salt.”

His ship lurched into port, shoving aside several lesser vessels as it did. Vance’s crew leaped from the vessel like gorillas, quickly mooring her to the wharf. They were truly grizzled men and women, each of them looking like the toughest motherfucker Amalia had ever seen. And they were asking for help? What in the world could they be afraid of? Who could possibly be more threatening than Darkseid? He literally ripped an island from the sky for Arbiter’s sake!

“Now ye’ will not go uncompensated, as a matter o’ fact Captain Nemo pays his privateers quite well! Believe ol’ Cap’n Renshaw Vance on that account!” The captain chuckled at his own joke and slid down from the mast, sauntering towards the gangplank, “But know this ye’ scurvy dogs! Ye’ not only fight for gold, but also for a chance to keep suckin’ air. Rapture won’t stop with Khirden Wharf, no he pines for the whole marble, and if’n he gets his way then every last one o’ you can kiss your freedom goodbye. Now, what say ye’, people of Desamparado Wharf? Will ye’ stand as free men or die as dogs!?”

Amalia stopped walking as she reached the edge of the crowd. What was she doing here? Why was she involved with any of this? She should have known better, after all Nausicaa had only happened a week ago. The thought of her cabin being sucked to the bottom of the ocean crossed her mind. All those foreign herbs and unfamiliar technology being swallowed by the inky dark - just as her childhood home had. Erin sharply landed on her shoulder.

“Andrew Ryan,” Erin whispered, “He sounds as if his eye meat would be delectable.”

“Disgusting Erin,” Amalia said.

“I am a fan of this captain’s moxie!” Erin shouted, “No doubt he has many mantles displaying his many conquests!”

“Hush.”

She couldn’t shake the image of Juno’s hard work being washed away by more invaders. She couldn’t forget the thousands of people who were no doubt sinking to the bottom of the ocean, dragged down by Nausicaa’s corpse. When would it end? When would the world stop trying to self-destruct? Amalia wanted to cry. But, something in her heart sparked. A burgeoning flame threatened to swallow her whole. She held out her hand, silently feeling the multitude of spirits inhabiting her body. They had protected her so many times and for so many years. Perhaps she could use them to protect more than just herself?

Juno appeared beside her, catching her breath, “Kid, you are really good at disappearing, you know that?”

Amalia clenched her fist and gave Juno a look.

“Something wrong?” Juneberry asked.

“Yes, but, I think it doesn’t have to be,” She said, “Juno, I… I want to help them.”
 
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