Megaman X: Shanghaied!
"Now please tell me, Zero, how you managed to get in this situation." The head medic said with equal amounts of deadpan and concern.
Despite the pain throbbing at his temples and blood blurring his vision, Zero could not help but glare at the medic. It wasn't like he was asking for the recent Maverick attack occurring in the city's center, but he and his team had a job to do. Besides, even if he had enough focus to tell him, the situation was just so bizarre that the medic probably wouldn't have believed him. To make a long story short, this new Maverick was releasing a gas that made people act incredibly weird, as if they were in their own world. He, Axl, and X managed to take him down, but not before receiving a few hits themselves. He couldn't really remember what had happened afterwards, but both X and Axl said that he had a big head wound and made him go to the infirmary just in case he was suffering from a concussion. Thus, here he was, receiving news of said head injury.
"Well, Zero, I hate to tell you this," the medic said sheepishly, "but that head injury of yours is going to require stitches."
"How long will it take?" Zero could only ask.
"I'll be as fast as I can with it. If you want, I can give you anesthesia so that you won't feel the pain. After all," the medic added softly, "I will be using a sewing needle for the procedure."
Zero could only blink. Stitches hurt that much? He never received or heard of stitches until now. Scratch that, he had glimpsed at a book that X was reading that talked about how humans would receive stitches to close open, gaping wounds, but didn't really think much about it. Oh well, there was nothing to lose at this point in time except blood, so without further hesitation, he lied down and let the doctor give him anesthesia through a needle. He felt his head getting fuzzier by the minute and before he knew it, the whole world around him blackened.
At first, the return to consciousness wasn't so bad. It was like a warm sensation that trickled in through his circuits, as if he was waking up from sleeping in the sun. Then, a loud noise shattered any calm and his eyes snapped open. A pounding headache soon followed after, but he pushed it to the back of his mind as best as he could. Judging by how loud it was, it was safe to assume that the source was near the base. He ran outside and searched everywhere for the source which led him to both Axl and X staring off in the distance to his left.
"Axl, X, did you hear that noise?"
"Zero, you're better!" They both said upon turning around and hugging him. Well, it was nice to know that they had his health as their first concern, however that wasn't the top priority right now.
"Thanks for making me feel special, but we need to investigate the source of the noise." He replied firmly, turning his head to where they were looking. What he saw made him blink in shock.
A giant anchor was rooted to the grass, having a sickly green glow that made it almost transparent. But the cherry on the top? If Zero came in closer, he would find that it landed on the gravesite of one Mr. Vile T. Maverick. The maverick pushed the anchor off him with ease and swung it back only to have it hit him in the back. After groaning for a few seconds, he then noticed the threesome looking at him in awe, disbelief and confusion. He then rested his face in his palm and groaned, shaking his head.
"Oh no, why did I have to encounter you three of all people? Why?" Vile cursed.
"Vile! How did you manage to escape?" Zero asked, taking his standard battle pose with X and Axl following suit.
"I didn't escape, I was destroyed!" Vile fumed. "As much as I would like to battle you right here and now, I need to find out the jokester who decided that it was a good idea to land their anchor on my grave." So saying, he began to climb the anchor. Zero, not intending to let Vile escape this time, followed right behind him with X and Axl tagging along. A good few inches later on the anchor rope and Zero heard X's voice calling out a word, something like "Ship!". Hoping it would be that particular word, he tilted his head a bit and sure enough, a ship appeared in view. It looked like those ancient ships that were described in the many history books in the library, judging by the rotting wood, the billowing sail, and the rusty anchor. His suspicions were only confirmed when he and the others safely reached the deck. The deck also had rotting wood to match its hull, with steps that led to the steering wheel and part of the sail. A glimpse to his right led his eyes to two doors with the words 'Owner' above it.
"Wow, look at this place!" Vile complained. "Whoever owns this place is probably lazy and probably takes after their mother as well!"
"Doesn't this seem strange to you guys?" X could only ask. Axl could only shrug while Zero faintly nodded. "I mean, doesn't this all just ring a bell somehow?"
As soon as those words were uttered, the trio looked over to the door where Vile was ringing on the doorbell. "Yep." Axl replied. "I'd say we get out of here as fast as we...". However, before Zero could finish his sentence, the doors to the cabin opened wide. A tense silence hung about in the air before X started chuckling, glowing a sickly green color and magically gaining extremely flashy pirate clothes, wide brim hat, long coat, and everything. Zero was slowly reaching for his saber, his mechanical heart beating madly, while Axl was looking at Vile, who dropped to the ground in shock.
"I..." The now-possessed X grinned, aiming the Buster Cannon at the trio. "...am the Flying Dutchman! Who dares trespass on my domain!"
"Vile." Axl answered honestly. "He's come to complain to you."
"I-I-No, I didn't want to..." Vile stammered.
"But didn't you say that he had a dirty ship and everything?" Axl asked which Vile could only respond to laughing nervously and denying his complaints.
"Insulting a pirate ship, are you?" The Flying Dutchman growled. "It's as bad as insulting one's mother."
"No, wait, Vile!" Axl piped up. "You said his mother was dirty, not his ship."
That reply made the Dutchman fire the buster at Vile, completely frying him. While Vile could only issue a groan of pain as a retort, the Dutchman looked angrily at the other two maverick hunters. Without warning, Axl jumped into Zero's arms and they both ran around the deck to try and dodge the blasts coming from the buster, screaming like little girls. After at least sixty minutes of dodging and screaming, both Axl and Zero dropped to the ground, panting like mad. However, the Dutchman didn't break sweat and only grinned down at them.
"So, are you going to try that, again?"
"Probably." Axl said in between pants, prompting the Dutchman to fire at Vile once again. When asked again, Zero put his hand on Axl's mouth and shook his head, which (of course) didn't work because the Dutchman fired at Vile anyway. Once they crawled and sat next to Vile, the Dutchman took out a book from his coat and began to recite to them as if they were schoolchildren.
"Whoever sets foot on the Dutchman's ship shall become his loyal crew forever and ever. It should be self-explanatory, seeing as how you three are young, bright-eyed, and smart. Of course, the whole job itself will be grueling, mind-numbing, and repetitive, just like daytime television!"
"Now, you listen here, mister! I am not going to work on this dumpster for one minute!" Vile fumed. Of course, while he was complaining about the ills of the ship, Zero made rapid motion signs signaling him to be quiet. Of course, Vile didn't take the hint and complained further while the Dutchman was busy tying him with rope and pushing him to what looked like to be a zipper. How it got there all of a sudden, Zero would never know, but all that mattered was that the Dutchman opened the fly, (which seemed to have swirling images in it), tossed the bound-and-gagged Vile in there, and closed it soon after.
"Would anyone else like to enter the Fly of Despair?" The Dutchman asked.
Zero opened his mouth only for Axl to cover his mouth and scream, "Yes! Yes! We'll do whatever you'll say!" This left the Flying Dutchman satisfied and going back to the cabin, to which Zero then turned to Axl and yelled, "Axl! What the heck? Look, I know that Vile was a bad guy and probably had what was coming to him, but-!". Axl could only tap him on the shoulder and point to where the Flying Dutchman was standing, equipped with a broom and mop. Strangely enough, they glowed a sickly green too. Zero then questioned himself on why he could think so flippantly when he and Axl were taken hostage by a ghost-possessed X on a ship floating near the Maverick Hunter HQ. Either he was braver than he thought he was or he was in shock.
"Now, listen. Since you two are new to this whole thing, I'll be nice and lay it down in the simplest of terms: I want this place to be good and scary!"
Axl raised an eyebrow and pondered, "So you want it to be good and scary? Or good that it is scary? Or so scary that you forget that it doesn't look good? Or..." To which the Dutchman only glared at him and pointed for the two to go to work.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl to him and, in all honesty, he didn't know whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. He just wanted to know why he thought that it was a good idea to go onboard a ship that was potentially dangerous which led to the situation at hand. He needed to come up with a plan to fix this mess and he wouldn't rest until he got everyone safe, sound, and away from this crazy ship. A hand on his shoulder made him jump and turn to the Dutchman, who was smiling terribly. It was one thing for X to smile like he was possessed, however it was another for X to smile because he was possessed. Zero was immensely creeped out by this but he knew not to show it.
"Tonight is a glorious night, my crew, to scare and haunt the ethereal beings of this realm!" The Dutchman screamed to the sky before turning to Zero. "Since Chipper over there is working the wheel, it is up to you to find our first victim, Ponytail."
He conjured a spying glass out of nowhere and handed it to Zero, who reluctantly took it. Zero then turned around to look through it in the process of finding their first victim for the night. The word victim left a bitter aftertaste in Zero's head and reminded him of the night that Iris died in his arms. Like the Maverick wars that never seemed to stop at all, would this affair actually kill people like and would he be ready to accept its consequences? His findings settled on Signas for the time being, knowing that Signas was a tough person to scare and figured that he wouldn't die from any scaring.
"I found one!"
The Dutchman appeared out of nowhere, took the spyglass from his hands, focused on the image, and tilted it a little to the right. He smiled and purred, "Yes. She'll have a good scare tonight. So nice, motherly, and sweet, those types are just great targets for scaring." Zero paled a bit. He could have only meant Cinnamon or Alia, since Marino considered herself to be a tough girl. Luckily, the Dutchman was too busy directing Axl to a hidden location to even notice his discomfort and soon enough, Zero's discomfort was replaced by instinct as the ship lost wood by the splinters and shook everywhere. The Dutchman, not willing to waste anytime it seemed, told them to come out when he gave the signal and transported all of them to a large bush. After a few seconds, the scream had indeed confirmed that it was Cinnamon who was the first victim on the list. Zero could only bite his lip in guilt as he imagined her reaction before he felt a tap on his shoulder. He looked over to Axl who was whispering something about a signal and saying that they needed to go through with it. Zero's current plan in action now was to botch the whole scaring thing so that the Dutchman would reconsider. As soon as the signal was heard, he and Axl tried their best to be as goofy as possible.
"Ooooooh!" They moaned as they came out of the bushes. Yep, Zero was right, it was Cinnamon they were scaring first. "How do you do that?" They kept on moaning and all the while, Zero was trying so hard not to laugh at the Dutchman's deadpan reaction in X's body and Cinnamon's confused reaction at the whole situation.
"Get back on the ship."
"It's still a mystery..." Zero and Axl continued as they backtracked towards the ship.
It seemed that the plan was working just fine for the next four scaring sprees. Indeed, when Alia was going to be the victim of flame and fire, she was rewarded instead with Axl's bubbles and kittens that Zero managed to get out of harm's way and into a nearby shelter. With Massimo, the two failed to recreate the Dutchman's phase-in of the wall and instead created big dents in it. With Marino, the Dutchman did a recreation of the movie Exorcist head-spin, but Zero managed to find an old computer, type 'spin like a record', got a catchy song, and spun Axl to the tune of that song. Within minutes after the last spree, they found themselves in the bunk room.
"Yes! This plan is working perfectly!" Zero whispered to Axl excitedly. "Now, if I could just figure out how to exorcise that ghost out of X's body..."
"I'm still wondering how the Dutchman managed to phase X's body within that wall..." Axl trailed off as soon as the sound of footsteps drew nearer. They looked to see the Dutchman look at them awkwardly. He rubbed the back of his (X's) head before getting to the heart of the matter.
"Yeah, um, I'm thinking that this whole crew thing isn't working out. It's not so much you as it is me." The Dutchman apologetically said.
"So, you're setting all of us free?" Zero pounced, heart beating at this moment. This was the moment where this would decide the fate of everyone on this ship: his, Axl's, X's, and possibly Vile's.
"Set you free? What do you take me for, a fool? I'm keeping this body and you two will be walking the plank after dinner. So, yeah, see you then!" With that cheerfulness, the Dutchman went off.
Axl began to cling onto Zero, babbling about how he was too young to die at X's hands. Zero began to scan the room for any signs of possible escape when he saw something completely bizarre. There was another room that was right in front of them, all bright, colorful, and cheery compared to the dark grittiness of the bunk room. It was filled to the brim with creatures that he'd never seen before. He was guessing that they were human, but they looked in such a way that he couldn't have been sure. But the icing on the cake would have to be the smell. It smelt strongly of various scents, ranging from lavender to vanilla. His eye twitched: There was a perfume department inside a ghost ship.
"I always knew that perfume departments were evil..." Axl's voice cut into his thoughts. "I told Alia, but did she listen? No!"
"Wait a minute! Axl! This could be our chance to escape!" Zero grinned, hugging Axl tightly. "We go through the perfume department, get X, take him to the base, exorcise him and then poof! We're safe and sound at home!"
"But...But...!" Axl stammered. "Perfume departments! Evil!"
"Axl, our friend is in danger and this department is the only way out." Zero stated firmly. When Axl responded with only a whimper, he added gently, "Axl, it's only a perfume department. What possible harm can it do to us?"
Needless to say, the three minutes and thirty-seven seconds were some of the worst moments in Zero's life. Well, okay, maybe not the worst moments, but they were really bad. The perfume stung his eyes, his nose, and his skin while Axl was crawling through the whole thing. Not wasting any time, he grabbed Axl and sprinted the rest of the way there, enduring any and all perfumes. Finally, the two reached the end and bolted the door as soon as they were on the other side. They rested for a few moments, panting and gasping for breath.
"I...always...hate going in there." Axl panted.
"...You went in there before?" Zero asked.
Before Axl could answer, laughter could be heard from the other door. When they peeked into it, they (or Zero, at least) found the Dutchman getting shower supplies before heading off elsewhere. He then realized that they were right outside of the Captain's room, which would mean...! Axl had opened the door a crack and stepped through it as if he was going through a Maverick Base. Zero followed suit and saw lots of paraphernalia strewn everywhere: stockings, pants, pens, skirts, blouses, dolls, paper, everything a kid would ever want. He briefly wondered why this wouldn't feel right to him before a tug on his arm alerted him instantly. Axl was holding a book and looking at him with big puppy-dog eyes.
"No wonder she wanted a crew." Axl whispered. "She can't be put to rest."
"Wait, hang on. Be put to rest?" Zero repeated. For one thing, the way that the ghost shouted proudly that she was the Flying Dutchman led Zero to believe that she was a grown man, not a little girl (even though part of the reason was that it was X's body that she was possessing). Another thing was that she was perfectly content in scaring people left to right and then booting him and Axl off the ship while still holding onto X's body. Yet, a part of him told him that he wasn't any different from the ghost, so he waited for Axl to further explain.
"See, her name is Elena Dutchman who was the ten-year-old daughter of the pirate The Flying Dutchman. However, the three of them were all killed by their crew when they were sleeping. Her parents have somehow been put to rest but she hasn't. That's why she haunts the world nowadays. And according to this..." Axl finished flourishing an old card. "...she can't really rest until she grants at least three wishes."
Zero blinked. Yikes, no wonder she wanted to boot him and Axl as soon as possible; she didn't trust crewmates. His other plans blew up in his face at a later point, which was something he really hated, but this time he knew this plan would work somehow. He learned it from the best diplomatic hunter he knew, after all. Not a moment too soon, he heard a shriek and turned to where Elena/X was standing, towel wrapped around the waist.
"How...How did you two get in here?!" She/he shrieked, stamping her/his foot exactly like a child would.
"Perfume department." Axl casually said, serving only to infuriate the ghost more.
"Captain." Zero said suddenly, trying to pacify the fuming ghost. "We know of your history and would like to make a deal with you. See, you have to grant at the very least three wishes to us in order for you to be with your parents again. Knowing how unfair I was in the beginning, I would like to grant you an hour of you doing whatever you want with us as long as it is within the law." When Elena/X's eyes widened with happy realization, he added to help inflate that happiness, "As since you will be granting us the wishes, you can choose whatever number you want, as long as it is above three."
"R...Really? You mean it, Mr. Zero?" She/he asked.
He nodded, and the hour was divided into two segments: one was of having a tea party with Axl making Zero try the Chamomile and the second was of playing Cops and Robbers where Axl kept making funny faces behind Zero's back to the ground in order to make Elena laugh. As the hour was over, Zero felt a depressing feeling fall over his chest a little; he had to admit that he was having a lot of fun with Elena and Axl and his only wish was that X was completely conscious so that he could fully enjoy as well. Axl was already sobbing into his handkerchief and even Elena knew that it was time to say goodbye.
"Sorry about possessing your friend, but I didn't know whether you would hear me if I was in ghostly form or not." Elena/X said solemnly. "Still, I'll try to communicate to you guys without using your friend's body." So saying, she gently came out of X through his chest area. X was now sitting on the ground, shaking his head slowly. Zero and Axl attended to him for a while just so he could get his bearings and when he did, Axl hugged him tightly.
"Oh X! We had a nice time on this ship! I wish you could have been there!" Axl cheered.
"Axl? Zero? The last time I remember was getting on this ship and then...nothing." X murmured softly.
"As for your wishes, I've decided to grant you four of them." Elena said, now in full view. She had long hair, soft eyes and was wearing a nightgown, though she still retained that green glow.
"Wishes!" Axl remembered. "I'd wish we knew that earlier!"
"...Now you have three wishes left." Elena smiled.
"Well, we still have three more." X piped. "This is exciting! I wish Vile was here to see this!"
As soon as he uttered these words than did Vile appear right before them. Vile rubbed his butt before looking around. His eyes (or what eye he had) dilated as he came to recognize his surroundings. "Oh no! Not this place again!" He groaned. He then spotted X and cringed away from him. While X was confused as all hell, Axl had to say one word in order to get him back to speed and it was wishes. He got even more interested when Axl told him that he was offered one wish.
"Well then, missy, I want to be the world's strongest maverick then!" Vile happily said.
Elena granted his wish and it had the side effect of turning him into a dragon, which was just odd, to say the least. Zero was the last one up and he knew exactly what to wish for. As he was about to wish, he felt a sharp pain at his head. His vision started to blur and it was getting hard to concentrate, but nevertheless he needed to make this wish.
"I wish for you...Elena Dutchman...to return to your parents and be at peace." Zero said right before passing out.
"...He should be waking up now."
Zero twitched slightly at the voice. It sounded as if it floated just right above him, as if it was out of his reach. Why did that voice sound familiar to him? More importantly, where exactly was everyone right after he passed out? He tried opening his eyes, which felt like lead. Nevertheless, he managed to open them and see X, Axl, and the head medic peering over him. He furrowed his brow in confusion. Weren't they on the ship just a minute ago? How long was he out for? Did Elena (his eyes widened now) ever get back to her parents? He tried sitting up, but X and Axl managed to ease him gently in the medpod.
"Easy, Zero." X gently scolded. "You took a nasty blow to the head."
"So I remember." Zero grumbled. "How's Elena?"
"Who's Elena?" Axl asked, visibly confused.
"Elena, the ghost of the Flying Dutchman ship." Zero explained. When he got only confused stares as responses, he added, "The one who could grant wishes. The one who basically took us on a pirate adventure. You remember, right, Axl?"
"Zero, you've been here all this time." The head medic explained. "You were probably affected by the heavy dose that I had to give you so that you didn't feel the pain of the stitches on your head."
At this, Zero gently put his fingers to his head and felt precise grooves to where his head wound was. He then bit his lip. So, the adventure was just one big hallucination, and that meant that Elena might be travelling the whole world still, looking for her mom and dad. Or was she part of his imagination too? After confirming with the medic that he was okay and ready for action, Zero exited along with Axl and X. As they walked down the hallway, he told them of his adventure. Axl was mesmerized by the whole thing while X was more inclined to offer sympathy regarding Elena. Just then, Alia came by.
"Hey, Zero, I heard about your injury. Feeling better?" When he nodded a bit, she smiled and said, "Oh, by the way, there's a letter for you." After handing him the letter, she then hurried over to Cinnamon.
"Well, open it, Zero." Axl urged.
It turned out to be a letter from a little girl that was thanking Axl, X, and most of all Zero, for helping her parents from the Maverick. The picture on the bottom was of her family posing for a group shot. It was strange to Zero, for that girl looked exactly like Elena. Was it coincidence, or...? He decided to brush it off for the moment and went with his team to stop the next Maverick attack from happening again.