Saturday, February 19, 2005

 

A Pirate Tale - part 36

A Pirate Tale – part 36

“The girls are doing wonderfully, don’t you think, Baastian?” Lady Fanny was sunning herself on the quarterdeck as Mad Sally feverishly drilled the girls through their battle station and rigging maneuvers.

“Yes, my darling – they are … what is your phrase for it, ‘Sprightly!’” Baastian looked through his spyglass in order to ogle the bustier girls more closely – then his eye caught sight of a ship. Baastian leaped into action.

“Prepare for action!” he ordered as he took the wheel.

The young women were expert in their preparations and acquitted themselves nicely as their ship gained ground on what appeared to be a Dutch merchantman.

Lady Fanny loved to watch her man as he steeled himself for battle – she couldn’t resist running her hand over his muscular shoulders and he steered the ship toward its fate.

“Oh, Baastian – I love it when you get all ‘Killy.’ It is such a turn-on to see you with blood in your eyes. Promise me you won’t just blow them up this time – like you did with Sir Nigel and his Scourge of the Seas. There wasn’t even a whole corpse to fish out and hang – even as an effigy! I am so in the mood for some executions!”

Baastian said nothing, but gave Lady Fanny a promissory kiss – hard on the mouth. His blood was up. He, too, wanted to see someone suffer – and with whatever cargo was in the hold of that fat merchantman, he was going to buy his lover something nice – perhaps a porcelain Dalmatian dog. Or maybe one of those beautiful paintings of dogs playing poker – at any rate, it would be dog-themed. It didn’t matter that they flew the flag of his countrymen – his loyalty was to plunder and his allegiance was pledged only to Lady Fanny – at least for now.

As they reached cannon range, he again brought the ship about, getting off two disabling volleys – from both the port and starboard sides, but this time, he didn’t blow up his prize and the young women under Sally’s leadership, fixed their bayonets to their muskets and waited until they came along side.

With the loud crash of wood and the constant pop of fire arms, Sally lead the first boarding party and sliced her way through the merchant marines. These guns for hire lacked the discipline and ferocity that the women under Lady Fanny’s constant threat of dire punishment displayed during the fracas.

Sally, especially, showed remarkable skill and courage under fire. At one point, she had stuck a sailor so hard with her bayonet that she pinned him, screaming in agony, to the mast. Of course, she was unhappy having to kill seemingly innocent people to enrich the likes of Lady Fanny and Baastian Slotemaker, but the survival of her girls depended on her full commitment to the task at hand – and she didn’t hesitate or show any sign of regret. Her job, like that of her opponent, was simply to do what had to be done – kill or be killed. She was determined that on this day, at least, she was not going to be killed.

Upon losing her weapon, she picked up a saber and a dagger that had been stuck into one of the Dutch tradesmen who had unwittingly booked passage on this merchantman in hopes of starting a new life in Johannesburg. His meager life savings – a few coins and his life’s blood– dropping like rain and snow mixed together from his pockets onto the deck. Later, his body would be looted, but for now, he was little more than a rotting armory – one of convenience for the now disarmed Mad Sally.

With blood splashing on her face and shirt, she slashed her way through the Dutch lines. Resistance fell. The seven remaining Dutchmen surrendered to this army of women.

Lady Fanny clapped her hands with glee as the seven prisoners were paraded in front of her. Baastian barked orders at them – one of the men, in particular, seemed confused. He seemed to recognize Slotemaker – at least he recognized a Slotemaker.

“You! You are Dutch – are you not? I know you, don’t I? We met at the Governor’s Ball!” The man was desperate to make the connection, “Slotofucher? Slotodoer?”

“Slotemaker!” Baastian declared – wishing to get on with the executions.

“Yes! Yes, of course!” The man seemed relieved. “You are Bleeker Slotemaker, are you not? The Captain of The Scourge of the Seas?”

“What are you talking about, old man?” Baastian demanded. “The Scourge of the Seas is the ship of that notorious English pirate, Sir Nigel! It’s right here!” He produced a two-year-old copy of Pirattitude Monthly and leafed through to find the page that supported his claim.

The man looked at the cover which featured a photograph of Sawbones Burgess in a lovely pink chiffon dress under the headline, “Gender Bending in Amateur Pirate Theatrics Reaches New Heights!” He laughed, “This is very old. Did you let your subscription lapse? Here, let me show you the PM from last June.”

The old man reached in his haversack and produced the newer issue which featured a cartoon depiction of Lord Sir Admiral Percival Winthorp Tharp in sad clown make-up juggling three globes under the headline, “Is the British Navy Spread Too Thin?” He handed it to Baastian who quickly found the article he dreaded. To his horror, he realized that he had been the very instrument of his own twin brother’s death.

He quickly drew his saber and began hacking the old man to pieces as the six other prisoners stood in horror.

“Save some for mommy!” Lady Fanny laughed as she took the exhausted Baastian’s sword away and ordered the next prisoner to kneel before her. The young man looked around – but realized there was no where to run and knelt down.

Lady Fanny let out a frightful howl and began slashing at the poor lad’s neck – he tried to remain upright, but soon collapsed and she just continued slashing his bleeding body with the sword – then she simply attacked the next man in line. Still unable to decapitate her victim, she moved on to the next – this time asking Baastian what she was doing wrong.

“Is it my technique? Do I lack wrist strength, or do these silly heads just want to stay attached so badly they won’t come off?”

Most of the girls stood stoically by, some of the more debased appeared to be excited by the proceedings. By the time they reached the last prisoner – a marine of some thirty-three years, Lady Fanny was exhausted and covered in blood.

One of the younger girls was trembling by now – Fanny saw this and decided to make an example of her. She handed the poor dear her bloody saber and said, “You do the last one, deary.”

The girl’s hand was shaking so badly she could barely hold up the sword. The brave marine tried to calm her. “Don’t worry, little miss,” he said, “you send me to a better world.” He stared straight at Fanny as he said these words.

By now, it was clear that the girl would fail in her directive. Lady Fanny lifted her hand as a signal. Eleven young women cocked their muskets and pointed them at the trembling girl. She looked around – it was clear that she was hoping this sailor would take her to this new world with him. Sally stepped out of the crowd with a pistol, the eleven girls pointed their loaded muskets in her direction.

At first, there was a thought that she might shoot Lady Fanny, but she quickly turned and fired a shot into the head of the marine who slumped quickly to the deck. Dead.

Before Lady Fanny could say a word, Sally spoke, “Clearly this girl’s lack of training and readiness is my responsibility. If your ladyship wishes to punish me, I submit myself to your will. But please allow me to finish the training I have begun – such a display will not be repeated.”

Perhaps it was her exhaustion or the satisfaction of watching the once tender-hearted Sally murder a man in cold blood, but Lady Fanny dismissed any thought of harshness she may have had toward this act of bloody insubordination. Instead, she helped the grieving Baastian off the deck and spoke to him in baby talk. “Did mommy’s little boy kill his twin brother, then? Poor baby – poor, poor brotherless baby boy.”

She walked the tearful man back to their cabin. As she left, she ordered, “Clean this mess off the decks and pillage what you may from the merchantman. Sally, chart a course for Johannesburg – we should reach the Cape of Good Hope in just a few days – and then, the Indian Ocean.”

As she disappeared into their cabin, Sally heard her remark, “Baastian, you have to help me with my backhand stroke!”

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