[SS] The Bilgewater Brawl
Fizz ducked in and out of the tunnels and caves in the reef, propelling himself forward with his small, webbed feet. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the shadow of the behemoth trailing him. He turned his attention back to the path in front of him. Sharp turn. He stabbed the trident into the reef column and took a hard right. The end of this tunnel led to open water, a steep drop over an ocean ridge. He could hear the beast above him; with each stroke of its tail, it inched ever closer. Fizz had to reach the rim first.
The opening was within reach.
He cleared the reef and soared past the ridge. He quickly looked up to see the shark tailing him. It passed the reef and came straight towards him, its speed unaffected by its giant frame. Each tooth in its nine rows of teeth was at least the size of Fizz; it would make short work of him if he let it touch him. The yordle bided his time. He knew exactly what he needed to do and exactly when to do it.
When the shark was six meters away, its maw opened to its maximum, temporarily blocking its view of Fizz. Since the shark's eyes were on the sides of its head, Fizz swam straight up, stretching the time he was out of sight to the limit. He stabbed towards the shark's dorsal fin, catching it between the prongs of his weapon, and twisted, forcing the shark belly-up. He drifted down onto Chomper's stomach and sat, victorious.
"I win again! Always one jump ahead of you."
The shark flipped itself back to belly-down and shook its long body, shoving a pulse of water at Fizz with its tail fin in the process.
"Hey whoa, careful there," he said, knowing full well it was deliberate. "I'm heading back to the bar, wanna come?" Chomper prepped his tail and released another powerful stroke at Fizz. He dodged the force nimbly and chuckled. "Ah I crack myself up." He waved goodbye to his pet and took off to the East towards Bilgewater. Wasn’t it happy hour right about now?
Miss Fortune sat on the edge of the docks, one leg dangling just above the water. Behind her, she heard a strange, yet familiar sound. She couldn’t quite place it, so instinctively, she drew her pistols and whipped around in one smooth motion, aiming at her would-be assailant and pulling the triggers. But there was nothing behind her. Nothing eye-level, at least. Just below her field of view, the tips of a trident moved back and forth, waving at her. She sighed and holstered her pistols. “I could’ve killed you, you know?” Fizz blew a raspberry at her, dismissing the notion.
“I’m too quick for that,” he responded, “Your tiny metal pellets wouldn’t hit me if I was stationary.” Suddenly the cold steel of Miss Fortune’s pistols were inches away from his face, the barrels pointed directly at his eyes. He looked up at her and met her smirk with a smile of his own. “I let you do that.”
“Sure, you did,” she said, pulling away and returning her pistols to their holsters again.
“I’m going to the Briny Brewery, if you want to join me.”
“Ehh,” replied the bounty hunter, “I was there earlier and got in a fight with one of the regulars.” She pointed at one of the floating tombs next to the White Wharf. “That’s him over there, actually." She looked down at Fizz. He was giving her a look.
“And…?” he said, needing elaboration. She threw up her arms, acquiescing.
“Okay, but if there’s trouble, you take care of it. I’ve reached my quota for the day.”
“Deal,” Fizz said, setting off towards the bar. Miss Fortune followed suit.
The Briny Brewery was an absolute hole. Drunk pirates and sailors filled every table, and the smell of alcohol permeated throughout the establishment. Broken glass lined the floorboards, and there were so many barfights so often that blood had seeped into the furniture. The owner did his best to accommodate his patrons, but between constant scuffles, customers taking waitresses around back in the middle of their shifts, and one bartender, he simply had no way to keep up.
Regardless, Fizz kept coming back. The reason was quite simple, actually. It had named a drink after him, in honor of his victory over the dragon-shark three years ago. “The Fizz”, aptly named, was just a simple concoction of equal parts rum, tequila, and champagne. Since Fizz couldn’t get drunk, he could order as much as he wanted; since no one ordered champagne, the Briny Brewery could funnel all the champagne to Fizz. It was a win-win for everyone, really.
Fizz kicked open the door to the bar and walked in, with Miss Fortune just behind him. Immediately one of the drunk patrons broke a bottle and ran at her, yelling. Fizz spun forward between the man’s legs and struck his knees, knocking him off balance. He tripped and fell forward clumsily. The bottle splintered into tiny pieces upon impact with the ground, leaving thin trails of blood in the man’s right hand and arm, and his nose was bloodied and broken. For the final blow, Fizz leaped into the air with his trident and landed on it, tip down, balancing on the man’s shoulder blade. A scream of pain escaped the man, “I yield! I’b sorry, I'b sorry! I yield!” Satisfied, Fizz jumped off and took his trident out, its tip now covered in blood. He let out an audible sigh.
“Man, every time.” He joined Miss Fortune, who’d walked past the earlier fight completely, at the bar counter, where a damp cloth was waiting for him. “Thanks, Niv,” he said, cleaning the blood off his weapon and handing it back to the bartender.
“Ye’re welcome, Fizz, here be three Fizzes fer ye,” Niv responded. The friendly, overworked bartender wasn’t a Bilgewater native— he was a traveler from Shurima. A couple years ago, he’d intended to travel away from the hot desert in search of Ionia across the sea, where he'd heard beautiful, exotic women lived. He’d ended up making landfall in Bilgewater, where he'd been immediately labeled an outsider due to his darker skin color. Luckily, he met the owner of the Briny Brewery, Runghorn, who offered him a job. During his first few days, he’d tried extra hard to fit in by learning the local lingo. He’d ended up overcompensating, so now his vocabulary was entirely comprised of the language of the sea. "Drink up, me hearty!"
"What're you drinking?" Fizz asked his companion.
"Gin and tonic," she replied.
"What are you, old? Get a real drink. Let's get messed up tonight." Fizz feigned a yawn.
"No, I have a feeling tonight's festivities aren't quite over yet."
Fizz looked at her quizzically. He found it unlikely that anything else would happen, but he knew better than to doubt her instincts. She had lived here longer than him, after all. He finished his three drinks and tipped Niv. He hadn’t noticed, but the usual chaos in the bar had subsided. The inebriated sailors had cleared out, the waitresses were gone, and half-drunk bottles of alcohol were sprinkled throughout the place. Unfinished bottles of rum? Something was definitely wrong.
He heard a step outside the front door. He turned around to tell Niv to leave, but saw that the Shuriman was nowhere to be seen. Another step outside, this time to the left, brought his attention back. Next to him, Miss Fortune had stood up and begun stretching in anticipation of the imminent confrontation. She moved behind the bar counter, motioning for him to join her.
“You’re going to want some cover,” she said, again inviting Fizz to join her.
“They’re standing right outside, what do we need cover for?” he asked, also stretching.
“Those weren’t footsteps — hurry up and get behind here.” He hopped the counter and sat down next to her.
“What were they?” he asked, as he heard a third step on the right.
The barrel by the door detonated first. The explosion radius set off a chain reaction, with the left and right barrels exploding shortly after. Fizz was taken aback by the deafening sound. Usually, when he was around barrels of gunpowder erupting, he was fighting near the sea and able to avoid the sound by diving underwater. This time his sensitive hearing was subject to the full force of three exploding barrels all at once. He glanced at Miss Fortune. She seemed used to it. A voice floated over the roar of the fire that was now consuming the Briny Brewery.
“FORTUNE. Get out here!”
“He’s always so dramatic,” Miss Fortune said, shaking off the gathering dust. She peeked around the slightly-burnt bar and saw Gangplank and his men. They must’ve all been newly hired, since she’d blown up his ship just the other week.
Something had changed about him. Last she saw him, he’d been a fraction of a man. His ship, little more than debris in the ocean. His men, shark food. His arm, removed. His will to live was practically nonexistent, and she’d reveled in delivering that pain. Now, he was born anew. He stood tall, exuded confidence, and stepped with purpose. And he had a new arm. Behind him, a massive galleon sat in the harbor. She considered her options. None of her men were within helping distance. She’d have to make a play to get to her ship, the Lady Luck, and escape. Without confrontation, it was a five-minute walk. The current situation made that significantly longer.
“Fizz — ,” she started.
“Yeah yeah, I’ll get Gangplank, you get to Lady.”
“Actually, you get his ship, and I’ll get everything else.”
Fizz sighed. “Fine, but Chomper just ate so don’t expect too much.”
“Just get going, I’ll meet you at the Lady.”
He nodded and took a deep breath. Then, he darted to the left, striking the first of Gangplank’s men in his chest, bouncing backwards after the initial impact. Mid-air, Fizz threw his trident and it landed squarely in the man’s stomach, knocking the wind out of him. Lastly, Fizz picked his trident off the ground and swung it at the man’s temple, rendering him unconscious. Satisfied, he continued forward towards the water, leaving Miss Fortune to deal with everyone else.
Miss Fortune stood and faced her nemesis. Although she was the notorious bounty hunter, Gangplank was always lurking, looking for an opportunity to turn Fortune’s favor against her. She yelled at him, “You’re supposed to be shriveling up in a hole somewhere. Why don’t you go back to — ,”
“I will be king!”
The interruption threw her off.
“I will be king!” he repeated, stepping forward, “And I will not have you living under my rule.” He raised his pistol and pulled the trigger, sending a bullet flying at Miss Fortune’s face. She ducked, and the bullet barely missed the side of her neck. She could hear three, no, four men approaching her. Her instincts kicked in.
She ripped a piece of her shirt off and stuffed it halfway into an open bottle of rum. She lit the cloth on fire and steadied herself. Pistol in one hand and bottle in the other, she waited until the men were closer. Twenty paces. Eighteen. Fifteen. Twelve. She vaulted forward, away from the approaching pirates, and twisted her body so she was facing them. She threw the bottle forwards, mid-air, and aimed with her left pistol. Just before the glass shattered on one of their faces, she fired. The resulting explosion enveloped three of the men, their flaming bodies joining the remains of the former brewery. The last one had flanked on her left and was running at her in a dead sprint, sword drawn and arms raised. She drew her other pistol and shot off the man’s wrist, halting his advance. He cursed her and bent down to pick up his sword with his left hand, but she shot out both his kneecaps. He fell to the ground in anguish, his screams adding to that of the last burning man who’d yet to die. Miss Fortune kicked him in the head, forcing him face down, and ended his life.
She looked back at Gangplank, who was now seething, and whipped her hair to the left, smirking. He raised an arm. “Bathe ‘er in iron!”
He turned to look at his ship, confused, and saw it was full of commotion and muzzle flashes. An ambush? Then he saw the shark. A massive dorsal fin broke the surface of the water and charged directly at his new ship at a blistering speed. Suddenly, a shark more than half the size of his vessel and leapt out of the water. On its way down, it chomped the side of the galleon, leaving a gaping hole. Gangplank could see the cannons fall into the water, lost to the depths. The shark’s reentry into the water also caused a large wave, nearly capsizing the crew and his ship. He returned his gaze to Miss Fortune, who was aiming two pistols at his head. He considered drawing his weapons and charging her, but decided against it. He would return stronger and better prepared. This time he was unlucky…she’d had her yordle companion. He sneered and walked away, knowing she wouldn’t kill him.
She should’ve killed him. She’d made him hurt. She’d made him weak. Now, right as he’d returned from being a broken man, would’ve been a perfect time to end his life and silence him forever. But she didn’t. She knew he didn’t have what it took to take her down, now or in the future. It’d been a long night, and all she wanted to do was rest. She saw Fizz returning from the ocean, a large dorsal fin disappearing into the water behind him.
“You didn’t kill him?”
Fizz shrugged. “Fair enough.” He scratched his stomach, hearing a growl. “I’m hungry, let’s go to a bar.”