The Pirates of Diesel Bay – Part One
The waves of the Caribbean lapped gently at the base of the old Spanish fort. For two hundred years it has stood sentry over the port of Puerto Reál, capital city of Isla de Oro. The colony island had earned its name ten times over with the seemingly endless veins of gold buried deep within its heart. Gold accented everything: the buildings, the streets, even the people. It was the wealthiest island in the civilized Caribbean.
On this night, however, gold was the furthest thing from Captain Slick Trudeaux’s mind. His eyes were fixed on the weathered stone of the old fort. More so, his eyes were fixed on a particular window situated about fifty feet up the side of the west facing wall. The past hour had been spent rowing his small boat ever so carefully, using the night as cover. Perhaps he’d been overly cautious with his pace, but he was taking no chances. His task was, admittedly, much easier than his comrade’s, and he’d be damned if he was going to screw it up. Especially since the consequences for discovery would certainly involve a visit to the hangman’s noose.
Most captains would have delegated this task to a crew member, an option Slick would have appreciated having. His problem was that he only had two crew members. One was currently inside the fort, and the other was a Nordic behemoth of a man; not exactly ideal for stealth.
He saw what he’d been looking for: the light in the window flickered three times. He placed two fingers in his mouth and blew, mimicking the tweet of a parula.
The light became obscured by a thin silhouette. Moments later, a length of rope fell down, ending right at Slick’s eye level. He grabbed the thick cord and gave it two firm tugs. The silhouette disappeared, and was replaced by a slightly larger one. This new silhouette climbed through the window, and began to shimmy ungracefully down the rope. As the figure descended, Slick could make out pale skin, and a gangly frame under tattered rags. The figure reached the end of the rope, and landed in the rowboat with a thud.
“Shhhhhhh,” hissed the Captain.
“Sorry,” rasped the ragged man.
Slick gave the rope another two tugs, and the thinner silhouette reappeared in the window. This one slid down the rope with much more ease and agility than the first. Slick could see this figure was wearing black boots, and black pants that hugged muscular yet feminine legs. She landed silently, the boat barely reacting to the added weight. She turned around; black hair fell around sharp features and caramel colored skin. Slick smirked as he whispered to his first mate, “What ‘appened to your pretty dress, Izel?”
She responded with an unamused glare from her piercing green eyes. Slick smiled again, produced a silver cylinder, and held it up to the end of the rope. He pressed a tiny lever, a nearly invisible black flame leapt from the cylinder onto to end of the rope. The ragged man gawked as the black flame crept upwards, leaving just the tiniest amount of ash in its wake. The salty sea air was more than enough to cover the flame’s minimal scent. Slick settled himself back into position and began to row away.
They were a mile from the fort, at the cove’s entrance, when the first alarms began to echo across the water. The man in the tattered rags began to moan, “We’re finished! We’ll be hanged by the morrow!”
“Shut up,” snapped Izel. She looked to Slick, “Captain?”
“Do it,” he ordered.
There was a flash of light, and then Izel raised a lantern above her head.
“What are ye doing? They’ll see us!” cried the ragged man.
Slick and Izel ignored him. They were staring out into the inky black night. A yellow orb of light appeared a few hundred yards in front of them. Izel hoisted two spare oars and thrust them into the ragged man’s chest.
“Row as if your life depends on it,” she ordered, “because it does.”
With the extra set of oars churning the water, it took them less than two minutes to reach the source of the yellow light. The ragged man stared dumbly at the vessel looming before him. He could tell it had, at one time, been a standard two-masted clipper ship. The wood had been painted black, and the entire hull seemed to have been covered in a lattice of brass piping. Two hooks on thick chains hung down to the water’s surface. Slick steered them to the chains, where he and Izel wasted no time in securing the hooks to opposite ends of the dinghy. Slick winked at the ragged man, ” ‘old on, mon ami.”
There was the creaking of gears, and the ragged man felt his stomach jump as the chains pulled the boat up out of the water. He looked above to see a figure cranking the lever to raise the boat. Once at the top, they hopped over the edge of the ship. Manning the lever was perhaps the largest person the ragged man had ever seen. He was six and a half feet tall and at least half as wide. His tanned skin stretched tightly over bulging muscles. His blonde hair was pulled back in a pony tail. He beamed when he saw Izel, “Where’s your dress, little flower?”
“I already asked that,” said Slick.
She put her hands on her hips, “Next time one of you can wear the dress, since you liked it so much.”
The giant man guffawed, and scooped up Izel as if she was a feather. To the ragged man’s surprise, she didn’t protest, but rather leaned in for a kiss.
Slick butted in, “Save it for later. We need to get out of ‘ere.”
The large man let go of Izel and gave Slick a dramatic salute. Slick rolled his eyes, “Izel, take our guest to his quarters.” To the giant he said, “Lug, we need to weigh anchor immediately.”
Slick and Lug headed through the door. Izel waved the ragged man over, “This way.”
He followed her through a narrow hallway, down a ladder, and into a second hallway. She pointed to a cabin door, “Here’s your bunk. There’s a clean set of clothes.”
She pointed further down the hall, “The head’s that way. Feel free to clean yourself up.”
She squeezed past him to head back the way they’d come.
“Th- thank ye!” He blurted out.
She looked back, “Don’t thank us yet. Get some rest. We’ll come get you when we need you.”
After cleaning up a bit and changing into his new clothes, the ragged man wasn’t quite so ragged anymore. He sat down on his bunk and peered through the port hole. He could feel the movement of the ship and hear the sloshing of the waves, but could see nothing through the night’s black veil. He wondered, not for the first time, if he’d made the right decision in getting himself mixed up in this mess. It’d taken him all of a day to get captured. How had the Spaniards known who he was? How had his saviors known he needed rescuing? Were these people actual saviors…or was he just trading one form of imprisonment for another? He smacked his lips. What he wouldn’t have given right then for a cold pint. A few bitter stouts always helped to sharpen the mind, or so he told himself. His eyes grew heavy, and he allowed himself to dream of the pub back home.
next part: The Pirates of Diesel Bay – Part Two
more by PATRICK EDWARDS
photograph by Mike Wilson