How we think the fight will go
Kull awoke, soaked to the bones and coughing on the basalt sands of an unknown isle. He rose to his feet slowly, casting off the detritus of kelp and filth that caked his form. He examined his wave-wracked form in the dim light of morning, checking his limbs for serious injury before turning his attention to the rugged belt that held his trusty axe. All were intact.Beyond the beach was a thick jungle canopy, choked with vine and undoubtedly occupied by poisonous vipers, jungle cats, and perhaps even savage men who would consider his presence most unwelcome. The Atlantean was not eager to explore its primal depths, and chose instead to walk on the beach. Turning to the east, Kull walked toward the sunrise, hand upon the hilt of his trusty axe.
As he wandered the beach his thoughts drifted to the chain of events that led to his present circumstances. Short of funds, Kull had volunteered his services as a sailor upon a Valusian galley some weeks ago. The destination had mattered not to Kull: His only wish was to leave behind the stench of civilization. The work was difficult, but the pay was fair, and the Atlantean’s great strength had earned the respect of his fellow sailors in short course. Their journey had been uneventful until yesterday.
Captain Nemo was perplexed, and that was most discomfiting. He was a confident man who prided himself on knowing the ocean that he called home, but for the first time in a very long time, that confidence was waning. He double-checked the instrument panel of the mighty submarine Nautilus, but the readings remained inconsistent: the compass spun and twitched in random directions. The rest of his navigational tools were equally useless. The crew had serviced the equipment under his direct supervision only days ago, and even if there had been a malfunction, why would these individual components break at once? It didn’t make sense.
Yesterday, the Nautilus had weathered a terrible storm, one whose power could still be felt beneath the waves. The ship had rocked and groaned terribly throughout the night, and all of the crew had remained at their posts throughout the night. Nemo could not remember a more horrific storm.
Sometime before morning, Nemo awoke from a light sleep. He had nodded off at one of the ship’s great instrument panels, a most unusual occurrence. It was then that he had noted the problem with the navigational instruments. The only thing he could think of was that the storm had interfered with them, but the ship was shielded by several layers of insulation that should have been proof against any errant bolt of lightning or other hazard. Still, it was all he had to go on.
He ordered the crew to prepare to surface. This challenge, like the rest, would be overcome.
Kull had heard the alarm sometime before dawn. Two blows on the captain’s conch shell: pirates. Kull arose from his hammock and grabbed his axe. His fellow seamen were reaching for their own weapons as Kull raced to the galley. The ship – if a ship it was – was nothing like the Atlantean had ever seen.
The long, thin vessel was partially submerged. Atop it was a tower of some sort that peeked above the waves, gleaming as if made of metal.
The craft growled as if powered by some infernal power, and was spotted with strange lights. It was frightening, and Kull didn’t frighten easily. The ship’s captain ordered his men to prepare the massive harpoon. Although the weapon was equipped with a massive projectile, Kull didn’t think that it would do any good against the ship’s steel hull.
The occupants of the ship – presuming that it was occupied and not some autonomous demon – had made no hostile move against them, but the ship’s captain was beyond the reach of reason. Kull had tried to stay his hand, but he would not listen.
As the demon ship began to submerge, the men fired the harpoon. As Kull had guessed, the massive bolt did little harm beyond a dent in the craft’s side. It hastened its submersion, and suddenly the sea was quiet. Kull wondered what might be next. He didn’t have to wonder for long.
Moments after the Nautilus broke the surface of the ocean, Nemo spied a wooden craft; an anachronism. It was a galley, a ship that had not been seen on these waters for centuries. Could this be some kind of trick? Or even a ghost ship? Perhaps it had been built as a rich man’s folly, deserted and allowed to drift out to sea on a whim. It would be typical of the surface world, a place where waste was left unchecked.
His curiosity aroused, the captain ordered his crew to close space with the craft.
A peek through the periscope revealed that the ship was indeed manned, and by a strange crew at that – a primitive lot armed with sabers and tridents. A most unusual sight. They seemed hostile to Nemo, but they could do little to harm the craft with their crude weapons. An interesting sight, but one that might be investigated later. For now, the mystery of the navigational instruments demanded his attention. Nemo ordered the ship to submerge once again.
As the mighty craft descended into the waves, the strange men upon the galley fired an enormous projectile. The reverberation of the missile could be felt throughout the cabin. The overhead lights flickered and a warning siren began to blare. As unlikely as it was, the primitive men had struck a vulnerable spot on the Nautilus and severed a cable that supplied electricity to the ship’s life support system. Unless it was repaired soon, the ship’s crew would suffocate. Still, there was the danger of the galley, and Nemo could not spare the risk of another lucky hit. He ordered it rammed.
The silence only lasted a moment before the chaos began. The galley was struck from below, and Kull could hear the hull tear asunder. Those unfortunate sailors who had failed to make it to the deck were now lost to the sea. The ship would not hold for much longer. Kull stripped off his leather jerkin and jumped into the water. He knew that it was better to face the inevitable than to delay and be pulled beneath the waves by the mass of panicking sailors that would abandon ship only at the last moment.
Hours passed as Kull drifted aimlessly, clinging to a broken bit of oar cast off by the ruined galley. Day gave way to afternoon and then to evening in turn. Soon he fell asleep, lulled by the rocking waves.
Morning found him cast upon the beach.
Nemo saw an island in the distance: a small, jungle-covered rock more than anything else. He had to make repairs, and this particular one would require some time at dock. The island appeared deserted, and as much as he loathed the idea of walking upon the land, at least this particular port of call would offer no human company. He made the necessary orders.
Through a combination of good luck and seasoned skill, Nemo guided the Nautilus past a treacherous reef and into a small lagoon. When the boat surfaced, the captain ascended the ladder to the surface. As he pushed open the hatch, a flash of sunlight left him momentarily dazzled.
Kull had been walking for a mile or so when he saw the massive metal ship: the same demon that had destroyed the galley. It was resting in a small lagoon. Kull felt his rage rise and his hand fell to the shaft of his axe. If revenge was possible, Kull would have it. He broke into a run, axe in hand.
The ship was near enough to the beach that Kull was able to leap atop its surface. As he did so, a circular port hatch opened mere feet away. A stern-looking man with a very dark and thick beard lifted his head into the sunlight. He appeared dazed. Seizing the moment, Kull kicked the man in the face and heard him tumble down the hatch.
Kull followed behind him.
Nemo had no time to react as the barbarian kicked him. He lost his footing and fell off the ladder. Scrambling to his feet, he saw the primitive warrior raise his axe and charge toward him. Nemo was a courageous man, but no fool. He ran as hard and as fast as he could, barely making it through the airlock door as the barbarian’s axe sliced through the air where his head once was.
The bearded man was cowardly and retreated from Kull’s advance. So many good men had died on the galley this man had sunk, and Kull would see him dead if it was the last thing he did. He charged forward through a strange metal tunnel, howling a battle cry.
Nemo ran through another airlock. This time, he was able to slam it shut. He began to turn the massive wheel that locked the metal door in place. He could hear the barbarian striking his axe against the door, but Nemo knew it would do no good. Nemo admired the man’s ferocity, but he was a threat that must be disposed of.
Kull pounded the metal door, desperate to crack the seal and dispose of the strange man once and for all. After a few more strikes, he gave up. After ensuring that there was no other exit from this passage, he began to make his way to the shaft that had allowed him access to the ship in the first place. He would escape and plan his revenge. Perhaps the bearded man would exit the ship again, and then he would have his head. As he reached the ladder to the exit, he heard a slamming noise and everything went dark. The hatch had closed. Moments later he heard the rush of water and then felt it creeping up his legs.
Nemo ordered his men to close the outside hatch and flood the chamber. It was a cruel act, but what was he to do? He could not risk this madman harming his crew, and this was the most efficacious way to dispose of him.
Kull held his breath as long as he could, but it did no good. The saltwater flooded his lungs, and he lost consciousness. The world’s last Atlantean had been claimed by the sea.
Predicted Winner: Nemo. There’s just no way that a single warrior armed with a medieval weapon will be able to take Nemo and the Nautilus.
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON WEDNESDAY, March 6th, 2013, AT 5 PM, EST
Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”