I’m getting good at boarding enemy ships. I traveled by crate again, but this time I squeezed into a smaller one than my luxury crate with the study. I looked innocent enough in my little crate, though. Innocent like a fox! A killer fox with a leather jacket and an eyepatch and a motorcycle. And his girlfriend is an otter whore with a heart of gold. Together, they travel around and solve crimes in all sorts of locations. This summer, coming to a TV screen near you, it’s…Foxxed Up.
Eh, it’ll never work. Executives will insist that the cute talking animals are for kids no matter how much you depict them cussing in the pilot. As if hollowing out a pilot’s body wasn’t an indicator enough.
But enough picking the next big hit show. It passed the time adequately enough while stuck in a box, but soon it was time to think outside the box. Luckily, I had a handy tool to bust my way out. I stabbed through the side of the wood crate with a small length of metal pole. I knocked enough holes to force myself out, then stood up, petting the taxidermied bird. Acting in my capacity as a pirate, I decided I needed a bird when heading out on this venture.
But I considered black to be a better color, so I stuck a crow on the end of it.
I glanced down to see what they’d labeled me as. “Nuts, 100% Completamente”. Somebody had fun imagining the guards reading that. I got a slight chuckle. I used my crowbar to pop the lock off a pair of crates next to me. The tall one’s side read “Life-size Rocky statue” with a stencil of Sylvester Stallone before it fell away to show Moai. They didn’t even try for the last one. “Man Eating Shark.”
When I cracked that one open, Carl smiled at me and chewed on some sushi. “Hey boss, they packed me a lunch before we left.” He held up the bag from Serafina’s Shark Sushi Shack. You’d be amazed what people in other countries can trick gullible tourists into eating. I think the President told me the Shark Shack was trying to develop their own version of the fortune cookie. I predict a lot of people are going to be…disappointed! Behold my phenomenal powers of clairvoyancy!
Technically, I had another crate I could have opened up for some help, but I planned to use the contents of that for the big finale.
Together, we set out to right wrongs and save a small island nation from starvation. Possibly while wearing leather jackets, riding motorcycles, and being foxes that are into female otters. Ok, ok, we didn’t! But I’m telling you, it’ll be a hit, especially once we introduce the series-long story arc of dealing with the world’s banana population gaining sentience like a slippery Skynet.
I kept Moai in back in case someone opened up, and I stayed in front. I had the benefit of my armor, powered by a nifty backpack setup I made out of the hockey puck-like nuclear power cell I stole out of the weather control buoy. Some day, I’ll have to find the motherpucker that made it. Between Moai and I, Carl kept his pistol and a Tropican knockoff AK ready to provide ranged firepower.
While guns are a tool for the unimaginative to use when they’re out of ideas, I do like being able to reach out and touch someone in bad places from a distance. Sadly, it’s unlikely I’ll find some method of stretching out my arms to molest my foes from afar. Besides, I’m sure I’d find better things to do if I figured out how to make parts of my body stretch.
It was a moot point. I didn’t find anything but a few members of the crew. I smacked them into line with a few well-placed hits from the crowbar and forced them all into the bridge. These fruit people didn’t give a shit about their boat, either. This was one old-fashioned piece of shit. I couldn’t pilot it. Neither could Carl or Moai. So I turned to the crew, glaring at them through my visor and pointing to the For good measure, I altered my voice to sound deeper. “Does anyone want to live?”
One man rushed forward, but another put his arm in front of him. “He can’t go anywhere unless we help him. He can’t kill us.” The others murmured agreement.
I hooked the man’s head with the crow and tugged him toward me. “Good point,” I told him. Then, to the others I said, “What if I sweeten the pot with a balloon animal?”
I tossed the bar to Carl for safekeeping while I set to work on the man who objected. I’m not gonna lie; it wasn’t my best work. I’m not actually trained in balloon animals or any formal clown warfare, like ladders and seltzer water. I think I’ve learned enough about pies, though.
“Ta da! How do you like your new…” I looked at what I held in my arms “…Portuguese Man O’War?”
They quickly set to work turning that ship around. I looked down at the bundle in my arms. “The thing about someone like you with their head up their own ass is that they should appreciate just how much it hurts. Betcha didn’t even think it was literally possible, did you?” I laughed. “Ha! Who needs ribs anyway?” I walked over to the side of the ship and tossed him overboard. “Fly free!”
“Boss,” Carl said. Glancing in the 360 display, I saw someone reaching for the radio.
“Get ’em,” I said. Carl pulled his minipistol, the barrels spinning briefly before lighting up with a burst of fire. The crewman dropped the transmitter as the radio burst apart. Then Carl ran over to it and beat it over and over again with the crowbar before tossing the tool to the side. I turned and walked over to the one who tried to call for help.
He held up his hands. “Please,” he pleaded. “Y-you can’t even call our destination now.”
I held up a hand. Thanks to the power of holograms, a telephone appeared within. I stepped out of the way to show off the illusionary payphone booth behind me. “I have my ways.” I stepped inside it, closed the door, and punched in some numbers. Then an antenna popped out of the top of it and lit up with electricity that soon flowed down over the booth as it disappeared into a portal along the floor.
The crew stared at the spot, amazed. Then the one who tried for the radio looked at Moai and Carl, doing some mental calculations. Most likely deciding if he could take them.
I didn’t know how many of them it would have taken to dislodge my minions from the ship, but I knew how many they were gonna lose.
The phone booth shot out of the floor behind that guy, opening up. I shoved my hand through the man’s pants and up his ass as I rose. His head bounced off the ceiling of the bridge compartment as I stood up all the way. I stepped all the way out of the booth, which then faded away with a wheezing, groaning, cranking noise. “I think, eventually, y’all are going to understand how little patience I have. Even though I’m really hands on with colonoscopies, as you can all see, people don’t trust me as a doctor. Do you trust me as a doctor?”
The man on my arm groaned and cried in pain. I rolled my head to get across that I was rolling my eyes, “Oh, stop whining.” I rotated the man sixty-three degrees diagonally left and forward, but not in a forty-five degree angle or anything. I pushed him off my forearm and fist with a schloopy sound. I raised my fist, which now appeared to have a pair of googly eyes attached to the knuckles. I made it look me in the helmet and said, in gentle, high-pitched voice. “Let me tell you, man, I have seen some shit!”
As the asshole lay on the ground, clutching at his distended anus, I walked around him and gently kicked him in the head. Losing the googly eyes, I told him in a more normal voice, “And I think you got a medical problem. I’m pretty sure I felt a cavity in one of your molars while I was up there.”
I stepped up behind our pilot and put my arm around his shoulders. The dirty arm. “How’s our course?”
“It’s going to take us awhile to turn around. This isn’t a jet ski. Uh, I mean sir. It isn’t a jet ski, sir. Or…uh…Captain.”
I nodded and patted him on the shoulder. “The name’s Crunch.”
“Right, Captain Crunch.” He turned back to the controls. After a moment of thinking about it, I saw him get it.
“Good boy.” I rustled his hair as I turned away, then called up the President. “What’s up, pumpkin?”
“Nothing, nothing, lemonade. Everything is well?”
“More or less. I can use some hand sanitizer. We’re turning the boat around.” I noticed the crew watching me as I talked and even gestured to myself. They couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation.
“Don’t turn around. We will come to you.”
“Problem?” The question made one hostage cringe and back away. The only one who knew a bit of Spanish.
“I realized we can not bring it back to the islands or there would be too many witnesses. We need to destroy it elsewhere. I am coming by in my boat.”
“Hold on a second,” I told him. The mention of witnesses gave me an idea. Something I forgot to check for. I turned to the one who knew the Spanish. “Where’s that satellite signal coming from?” He pointed to a station at the rear of the bridge. Unsealing my dirty gauntlet, I slipped it off and pressed my hand to that. The controls to change the directions were too old, but this thing likely had a satellite transponder. No need to try and trace a satellite signal so long as the crew thinks I already know about one and believes they’ll die if they don’t tell me. I sent up a helpful burst of irrational gibberish to screw with the satellite. It’ll be lucky if it knows the moon from Uranus.
“Ok, I’m back,” I told the President. “And I think you were right about your best friend in the whole world being involved with this order. They didn’t have any guards at all. That’s not the appropriate level of stupid.”
“What is the appropriate level of stupid?” he asked.
“You warned them of trouble and about weather controlling. They seemed dumb enough to post guards, which would have been dumb because it’s weather. But not putting any armed guards suggests they’re either clever enough to know that, and they aren’t, or are too stupid to know that, and even they aren’t.” It’s true, by the way. Even if they were smart enough to figure out guards were useless, protocol would almost certainly have required the stupidity of posting guards. It’s a good answer for most times a bureaucracy does dumb things: somebody requires them to do something dumb.
“You forget a very important thing. They are arrogant because they have the United States on their side and we are nothing to them.” He made a disgusted spitting sound at that, prompting someone on his end to call out that he got that in their hair.
“Either way, they won’t be tracking us for awhile. How are you going to get this stuff off? The plan was turn it around because your freighters are elsewhere.”
“Let me worry about that. Let us know where you stop and start working on a method to sink the ship.”
They caught up to us about an hour later. As it turned out, the President’s plan involved his personal yacht, which had its own crane and was almost as big as the freighter itself. I asked him as I stepped on board, “This is too much, even for you. You could never afford this.”
The President lounged on the deck in a captain’s hat and Tropican flag swim trunks, his arms around two younger women. The one on his left kept wiping at something in her hair. “You would not believe the price of Fakecoins earlier today before someone sold a lot of them, Salamander.”
Have I mentioned before that I’m sometimes known in Spanish as Axolotl Xolotl? It rolls off the tongue better, and Spanish-speakers are all about rolling those tongues. One’s a Mexican salamander with unusual regenerative abilities; the other’s a Mexican psychopomp god associated with what some people call the evening star, which is actually the planet Venus. Otherwise, the Spanish word for gecko is just geco, but that’s not as fun as being a Mexican murder god of the salamanders.
“Why so sad, President?” I asked as the crane got to work unloading ridged metal containers onto the pristine wood flooring of the yacht.
He sighed and pointed at the floor where the first of the containers settled. “This floor is mahogany. It is not easy to get mahogany floors on a yacht!”
He was like that the entire time, sighing as each new container was offloaded. I had to wave them off my big surprise, which was the last one they would have grabbed. As we finished, I called over the side of the ship to the remaining crew on the freighter. “Ho there!” You’re free to go now! Better see how far you can get before I change my mind!”
It may have been meant to carry food, but that’s when it began hauling ass. The President watched, nervously. Finally, as they made good their escape to the horizon, he could stand it no longer. “You can not let them get away! They know too much. This is idiotic!”
“You’re right. It is. Never once did anybody question why someone would ship a container of chickens. Nothing but chickens.” I sent out a signal. Off in the distance, the container detonated, taking the ship with it. “Cocka-doodle-fuckin’-doo, fuckers.”