Halloween night aboard the S.S. Omnia, one of the biggest nights of the year for the crew and passengers lucky enough to be working it. Having the night off was better but at least if you were working it you got to dress up and have a fun time in costume!
At least that is what everyone on the crew lining up with the other deck stewards the pine marten waited eagerly as the purser Aesc prepared to hand out assignments. Aesc was a ram, his thick golden fleece curly and robust, shining beautifully against his dark, almost black emerald green uniform. He looked every inch the ships officer, but then he could afford to, he seemed to work six hours a day and most of that involved sitting at his desk telling people what to do.
Looking up from his list he tilted his head back and smiled at everyone, “Evening, so we have a full compliment of passengers for tonight’s Halloween festivities so I need everyone on top form, Stephen,”
He turned to address the crews only human, smiling at the tall figure, “You and your team are on the main atrium, we’ve pulled out the lounge tables and replaced them with beanbags and all the shops are gearing up for a night of trading.”
“Yes,” Stephen punched one fist in the air, “Can we costume? I saw these great plush character outfits in the store.”
“Of course,” Aesc laughed, “Go get changed, make it a snuggly warm place for everyone to relax in.”
Turning onto the next in line the sheep grinned at Vritrax the hybrid wolf/dragon in his immaculate steward outfit and Ekkehard, whose own outfit had been adjusted to accommodate the cranes wings.
“Vitrax, Ekkehard, you two are on the restaurant level, general help and assistance please in the corridors.”
“Costumes?” Ekkehard asked, his beak clicking softly, “I mean we will be out in public.”
“Of course,” Aesc bleated with a happy chuckle, “Both of you get along after Stephen’s crew, go for something appropriately scary and Halloween like, we need some monsters out and about.”
Laughing Vitrax twitched his wings, “No worry boss, we’ll put on a good show.”
Heading off the dragon and crane put their heads together, chattering about what outfits might suit them best. Aesc meanwhile was talking to Revya who was already in a costume. It was mostly feathers, and sleek, flexible hide of some sort and the lynx pulled it off with quiet, confident ease.
“Nice outfit,” Aesc chortled, “You are on the main saloon, I take it you already know the theme?”
“Ya,” she purred, “Revya is aware is wild west, is why Revya is native american princess, Revya shall keep all guests entertained with my regality.”
Aesc waved her off then moved along the line, he sent Shiny off to run the room service, the youngster laying claim to the pokemon outfits, whooping and gathering up his team and herding them off toward the kitchens. This just left the pine marten behind and the sheep turned to him with a smile.
“Hans, as the new kid you’ll be working under me tonight.”
“Yes sir,” Hans said, resisting the urge to bounce up and down on his toes as he waited for his assignment.
“You are working the hold office down on F-deck, you’ll be doing the fetching and unpacking etc. if we need anything out of the main holds.”
“I…” Hans’ smile slipped a bit, “Yes sir…” he managed, “Is that all?”
Aesc nodded checking his clipboard, “We have two guards on duty down there from security, I’ve left their meal choices in the hold office so you’ll be in charge of them as well.”
“Yes sir,” Hans said and watched as the ram turned back to his office. Sighing Hans headed for the stairs, “Hold office duty,” Hans muttered under his breath, “Just great.”
So that is how he ended up in the bowels of the ship working as the cargo deck steward. No costume, no fresh air, trundling back and forth keeping an eye on boxes and barrels with only a flashlight for company. No music, no candy, no costume and absolutely no contact with the passengers!
The only person he’d seen since his shift started was Aesc the purser when he was delivering orders and instructions for things that needed retrieving. So back and forth Hans went, picking stuff up, unpacking boxes and delivering it to various points around the ship. Most of it in darkness to, why turn on the main lights in the various cargo holds for one person? A torch was what he had and a torch is what he’d be using which meant there were pillars to bump into, toes to stub on lips and raised bars and equipment.
In fact he’d got the shittest job onboard, he was due to work overnight down here until six in the morning. Even the security guards protecting the locked hold where due to be rotated out at eleven. It sucked and… shaking his head Hans pulled himself out of his recollections and stared down at his paws.
“Stupid ship, stupid crew… stupid darkness, making Hans work down here all night” bouncing idly on all four paws Hans tested out the springy, bouncy, energetic, soft and squishy nature of his body. Twisting and turning Hans tried to find the thief. He’d run away whilst he was distracted, that was just mean, not hanging around so he could get vengeance.
“Oooh vengeance,” perking up Hans scrambled up on his hind legs and looked around, “Could make them pay for being mean,” he mused, he felt tingly, he had to see, bouncing over the unconscious shapes outside the vault he looked around inside. There were more tins of paint, how marvelous, scampering over he levered the lid off the closest tin and dipped his hand in.
“Ah no,” Hans snatched his hand back, “I got to stay in control, I can’t lose it,” He looked around worriedly, his thoughts momentarily clearing, “I need to call for help, get some solvent sprayed on me.”
Rubbing his fingers together he was distracted by the slick, cloying paint oozing about his fingers, it felt good, “But first let’s see what I look like this time at least! Let’s see hmm yes yes that is what I need, gotta check what I am!”
Turning to the wall he smeared a rectangular shape onto the wall and stepped back to admire himself in his new mirror. The paint had spread and twisted the bulkhead, forming a bright gilt frame and sparkling silver glass.
He was cute in that goofy toon way, svelte body, stumpy hands, bright eyes, so very colourful, his fur literally gleaming in the dim light from his discarded flashlight. This was so much more fun than running errands down here in the cargo decks. But he really should call for help or… well… hmm yeah he liked his tail like this, so much thicker, more dynamic, less scraggly.
Opening his mouth to look at his perfectly white, awesome, pristine yet annoyingly blunt toony fangs Hans frowned, “Ok so I should find a radio and call for help, shouldn’t I?”
Hans’ reflection looked surprised at being addressed first and planted his hands on his hips, “Hey bad me, I’m meant to talk to you first,”
“Aaaaah,” Hans yelped jumping back, “Now.. don’t you start I can’t afford to lose myself to this, it’s serious, look how.. Toony I am!”
“Yeah…” His reflection grinned and struck a pose, “We look rad, come on Hans, don’t you want to share some of this with the crew?”
“Well it would be fun, but no, we really should get some solvent, get this undone!”
“Why though?” his reflection leant forwards, pressing his hands to the glass, “Come on, they stuck you on cargo duty whilst they all party, let’s show them”
Slowly pressing his own hands up against the glass the pine marten bobbed up and down slowly, “Maybe, a little, toon mischief before we rinse off this paint wouldn’t harm anyone… do you really think I should?”
“Weeeeel, it sounds fun fun fun,” Hans’ reflection said, “But you’ll need help, you know they’ll be all boring, no toons stick in the muds.””
Picking up two tins of paint Hans grinned, a small part of his mind was clamouring for attention, insisting this was a bad idea but this did sound fun. “Then we stick them in the mud! Or oooooh,” a lightbulb flashed into existence above his head, shedding bright light around the room, “We can share the fun with them all, what do you think me?”
Giggling softly and gathering up several more tins of paint Hans darted for the door, “I will make help! Thanks me!”
As the marten slipped out the door his reflection grinned softly and reached up to grab the pull cord on his lightbulb, “Welcome me,” he pulled the cord and with an overly dramatic click the lightbulbs winked out and the mirror faded to a soft, silvery darkness that started to spread, converting more of the cargo holds bulkhead.
Skittering out of the cargo hold with his arms full of paint cans Hans tripped over the unconscious rabbit security card and tottered forwards. His cans of paint wavered, first this way, then that way, unsteady, unstable, looking like they might fall. Hans staggered, turning in a slow pirouette and just as it looked like he might save the stack of cans tripped over the wolf and his precarious stack went flying.
With perfect comedic timing Hans sat down with a thump as lids flew off and various colours of toonpaint went flying in all directions. It soaked the floor, splashed across boxes and chests and started to flow up the supports and frameworks of the cages. It rolled and spread like oil, coiling up like a ferrofluidic mass that defied gravity to spread its infectious, transformative properties further.
Sitting up and shaking his head Hans pouted as he sat in the middle of a spreading pool of toonpaint, his short stubby pine marten tail soaking up copious amounts, growing thicker and saturated. Looking around he watched as the paint started to change and twist and adjust to its new freedom. It was odd, his tail was soaking in the mess, connecting him to it and with a smile he felt the ideas flitting through his head rolling down his spine and out into the paint.
Letting his eyes rest on a series of air intake ducts for the heating system Hans shivered in delight as part of the pool started to evaporate. Brightly coloured mist rose into the air, swaying and drifting about before pouring up into the vents. It would insinuate itself through out the air conditioning and heating ducts and spread to every part of the ship! It would be glorious but it wasn’t the only fun idea he had.
It was Halloween, there were costume parties happening all over the ship. Costume parties he couldn’t attend because he was but a lowly deckhand. Clothing started to pull itself up out of the lake of paint, trousers, shoes, shirts, fanciful masks, each one animated, starting out as a dripping painted mass and shifting towards looking like brightly coloured, cartoon clothing that ambulated off under their own power.
A large river of blue paint was spreading and pooling up against a large piece of bulky machinery. Standing up Hans skipped across the patches grey and brown, green and yellow paint bobbing through the floor as if they were stepping stones. Hans wasn’t sure what the machine was exactly, it was covered in super boring warning labels. He was quite sure it connected with the engineering deck below however.
Standing in the blue paint, letting it wash and tug against his shins Hans gripped his tail and used it as a brush to paint on the metal. He drew long thin narrow bars then shaded the space between them black. His tail obligingly put out the colours he wanted, thick paint soaking into the metal. Then Hans yelped and went under the surface as the sudden rushing suction of blue paint pouring into the engineering equipment pulled him off his feet. Spluttering as he sank beneath the water Hans stretched his arms out and swam against the current. Fish swirled past him but Hans was a strong swimmer, stubby hands grew webbing and his tail thickened up into a strong rudder.
Skimming through the river of paint Hans swam forwards and then leapt out of the paint and rolled onto the dry decking next to the unconscious guards. Shaking his fur Hans shook off paint in all directions snapping his tail up and down, scattering a wave of paint across a wall as it was forced back to its usual shape. Once again as a pine marten Hans spent a moment stretching and bouncing from paw to paw, this was hard work, much to hard work to do on his own!
Looking down at the unconscious rabbit and wolf at his feet the pine marten grinned like a maniac, showing off all his lovely teeth, “Time to make myself some help.”
Scooting around the paint Hans checked the overturned tins until he found one that held some paint. It wasn’t much but he added water from one of the deck fire trucks and skipped over to pose next to them dramatically. He then hurled the contents of the paint tin over them, water and paint splashing across their faces and pulling them out of their slumber.
As they started to rouse and change Hans span the paint tin, using its circular surface to create a whirling effect right before their eyes. It caught them both, the rabbit and the wolf’s movements slowing as their eyes slowly filled with a whirling silver and blue pattern.
“That’s it, watch the pattern and be calm,” Hans whispered, holding back his giggles as their bodies started to change. Hands and feet shifted first, the paint infused water reducing them to three fingered, plump, overly large and brightly painted hands. Their eyes widened, growing exaggerated and toony as their features became simpler, the rugged cut of fur and teeth replaced by bright smiles and smooth, toony colours instead of individual strands of fur.
“Good bunny, good wolf, watch the patterns,
“Hmm patterns?” the rabbit murmured, “It’s the Fiddley Foodle Bird,” she nudged the wolf and smiled, “I love this show.”
“Bugger,” Hans turned his paint tin lid realised he was actually holding a miniature tv screen. It was also showing 1980s cartoons, “Stupid suggestive toonpaint, stop it, ugh got to tune this, no no keep watching!” turning it back he twiddled with the tv’s knobs and clicked it through several channels of swirling, hypnotic patterns, “You are toons, my toons, nice guards, my guards, I’m the boss, so listen to what I say.”
“You’re the boss” the two replied, swaying gently as Hans continued to hold them, keeping their eyes glued to the whirling paint tin as he fiddled with his make shift controls.
“That’s it, relax, you are toons, can you feel it taking you? Changing you, who needs fur and clothes and orders, relax, relax and listen.”
The bunny girl’s ears grew tall and thin, standing on end as the wolf’s vibrant green lines started to glow with a bright neon gleam all of their own.
Their eyes were filled with swirling colours now, bright neon lines that span in an eternal whirling spiral that matched the colours and shapes on the screen, Hans had them trapped now, and he watched happily as the paint finished changing them, leaving them both with rounded, brightly smiling features, guard uniforms that were a part of their art aesthetic, they were properly toons now.
“We are going to spread toon,” Hans crooned
“Spread toon,” they chanted,
“We are going to make them pay,” Hans cheered
“Make them pay,” they the rabbit shouted,
“Pay for what?” the wolf asked sounding confused and Hans blinked and then grinned,
“Fair pay! Proper Shifts!”
“Fair pay! Proper Shifts,” Hans led the chant for about ten seconds before just switching the words to, “Spread joy and colour, spread fun and madness!”
“Fun and Madness,”
Laughing in delight Hans set the TV down and pulled his two, brand new toons to their feet, “So friends, what are your names?”
“Dot,” the bunny said stretching, standing up on tiptoes and letting her limbs stretch and shift, “I am Dot,”
“Lorkos, of course,” the wolf growled as he admired his hands and brightly painted dark fur and glowing green lines, “I.. this… feels good,” he grinned, his eyes still filled with the whirling lines implanted by Hans’ hypnotic mischief.
“What’s the plan?” Dot asked, bouncing idly, legs thick and chunky now, properly feral looking causing her to hop and bound with every step.
“Simple,” Hans declared, the marten bouncing from foot to foot, “You two, sneak upstairs, take over the chief! Make sure he can’t co-ordinate a plan to stop the spread of tooooooon!”
“Ok,” Lorkos declared, “We can do that! It’ll be great,” he dropped onto all fours, shaking his body, waves of blue and white paint splashed over Dot, Hans and the cargo hold as he shook off his uniform. It was dissolving, splattering into paint but his feet where sucking up more and more paint from the puddle he was standing in.
“Gotta be Halloween Lorkos, yes, rrrrrrrrrrf.” he growled and tossed his head back and howled. By the time he was done he had changed into something more comfortable, a big, black feral wolf, a huge dire creature of midnight smoothness and dire green lines that gleamed. He showed off massive cartoonish fangs and thumped his black tail from side to side, “We can do this,” he growled, “I am Lorkos, I am wolf!”
Laughing and clapping his hands together Hans nodded, “Yes, yes you are wolf and Dot…” he turned to look up at the huge, chunky bunny girl, “You can go with him, get the chief… I am going to go prepare some… fun!”
The bunny nodded and hopped off, for such a big girl Hans expected her feet to thump. But she was silent and Lorkos padded along after her quietly, the pair of them disappearing into the darkness.
Rubbing his hands together at having set loose his first two toons Hans knelt down by the oozing pool of paint and dug some plain, boring old heavy lifting work gloves out of a pocket. Humming to himself the pine marten dipped them into the paint, a furious look of concentration on his muzzle as he waited for them to change. They were losing their rough, brown, canvas look and transitioning to plain white, three fingered, rounded cuffs, proper toon gloves. He had plans for these gloves, he had such ideas and fun plans for the whole ship! He just had to spread the toon and paint up a storm!