The destroyer laughed, looking up at the blackened heavens. All above was a blanket of glittering lights, the stars hung in the sky, low, like fruit waiting to be picked by a youngster with sticky hands. The destroyer laughed. The stripes on his sleeve attested to a long-distant past, the battles he had survived, the men he had killed and the ones he had saved. The captain beside him shrugged, he could not laugh with a man who so resembled a skeleton, a creature that had once only existed in the minds of little boys. But the apparition before him was real, as real as the worries that clung to the edges of his being, as real as the wind that brushed close to him like the wife he used to know. There was nothing he could do, he was a powerless lump of skin, shrouded by white flesh and a baggage of pain that rested on his shoulders like heavy bricks. Another chorus of laughs strung his ears, the captain raised his head, following the gaze of the destroyer to the flashing lights above. The stars where out of his control, just like the ship. Above, they moved by the whims of other forces, they would never answer to firepower, they would not respond to taunts of abuse or even soft kisses. Just as everything else, they were beyond his sphere of influence and it was pointless to wrestle with that simple truth.
He shook his head regretfully, and looked to the destroyer. Before him was a tube of metal and steel and white teeth painted like a picket fence. This was no man, but there were no other words to describe this being of decrepit laughter and sickly smells.
The ship bounced reassuringly. The waves were calm, the ocean was a baby asleep, its dreams moving quietly with the sharks below. The captain looked at his watch, the second hand moved slowly, too slowly, as slow as death seemed to approach his hell. Dawn herself seemed just out of reach. Why did she tempt him so? His memories of her were soft… bright golden rays that chased waves from their mountainous forms, pink clouds that announced the rising orb. He watched the movement of time. The hand moved slowly.
The destroyer let out another laugh.
The captain knew he was engaged in a battle that he could not win. The forces were too strong, too violent… even for a man like him. He still had shreds of a conscience, he still felt pain. The others did not.
He was surrounded by a horde of strangers who looked more like vampires and walking skeletons than the humans he remembered. Was he the lone survivor in a game of savages? For a second, he debated his own will. How long would it be until he became like them? How long could his stomach growl before he began to feast on human flesh? Before he went into the ship’s chambers and found the softest girl available and he began to chew on her breasts, bite by bite. There were plenty of girls below, their pastel dresses stained in blood and soot. There were plenty of them, plenty of food for a ship full of animals, hungry cannibals that had not seen the beauty of the moon for years.
The stars continued to shine, but the moon had begun to punish them, taking away their light, blinding them to the movement of a larger time, a larger cycle. Without the moon, they would have died on the sea had they not come across the lost ship, after months adrift.
The lost ship was like a gift from a maker who had given up on existence. When they had climbed aboard, they discovered the ship had a full belly of ample women and their men were too soft to stop the destroyer. He had walked right up to the captain and in minutes had turned him into their first meal in weeks. With the captain gone, and a pile of soft men who knew nothing of true savagery, they made a stew of the men and brought the women aboard as prisoners, as food to be stored til the next meal was needed. Now, with ample supplies, each man, each thing resembling a man, could have what he liked. A nipple, an arm, a piece of a lip. There was plenty for all. The old captain heard the belly of the destroyer rumble, the thing laughed and began to walk towards the lower chamber of the ship.