YAAR! The Pirates of Sanchon, Parte the First

by Alphaville Herald on 03/01/07 at 2:26 pm


[Editor's Note: The Herald yacht is regularly buffeted by various forms of flotsam and jetsam, most of which we sell to the virtual tin man that plies the waters in which we roam. Recently, however, a champagne bottle clanked against our hull. Believing it to contain the sweet elixir that powers the Herald presses, I fished it out of the water -- only to find a leaf of moist foolscap furled within. On it was scrawled in archaic hand the first part of a chronicle of sails, skulls and piracy on the high seas on Second Life -- not to mention some ribald equator-crossing tales we'll leave out for the moment. Below we're proud to present the first part of this epic of captains and cannons, penned by Tiny Newt, which we title for the moment YAAR! The Pirates of Sanchon. Hopefully further champagne bottles will arrive in due course. If we're lucky, some of them may even contain champagne.
--Walker Spaight

Parte the First: In Which Our Goode Captain Is Press-Ganged Into A Pirate Fleete

HMS Endeavour dropped anchor in two fathoms of water off the shoreline of Sanchon province. Aside from a single ramshackle two-story structure up the hill and a few small sailboats sitting on cradles next to the beach, the place looked deserted. The spyglass revealed a boat-works high up the slope of the hill. Set further back were individual homes. All seemed placid. By morning’s tea, white sails dotted the bay. Several small sailboats of the Tako type sailed in close, giving us a once over. Unarmed, they posed no threat as we attended to morning duties.

I nodded toward my lieutenant: “Mr. Cassini?”

“Captain, what do you see?” he asked me. But I saw only the windswept approaches to the land. Looking aloft, even our hitchhiking eagle, Baldi, had disappeared.

“Too quiet, isn’t it?” I said.

“Not only that . . .” he replied, handing me the spyglass and nodding toward the shoreline. There was a brigantine rounding the headlands, moving with startling speed,

A cry rang out from the foredeck. “PIRATES!!!” The call electrified my crew.

“Where away?” I shouted.

“Starboard, behind the fog bank, sir!” Above the mists I saw multiple masts. The muffled thump of cannon fire reached our ears. In the eyepiece flashed the hideous grin of a skull and crossbones on a black field.

“Gun crews to the foredeck, Mr. Cassini . . . and hold your fire!

The crew, well rehearsed, bent to the task of readying the ship for battle. As they did, the threat escalated. Several more ships engaged. But we could see little, obscured by the fog as they were.

HMS Endeavour was not a ship of the line. The full complement of cannon numbered a meager 12. The three-masted barq , a converted coal hauler, had been chosen by the Admiralty for her shallow draft and sturdy construction. Her normal coal-hauling crew of 16 men and officers now swelled to 90 men and boys due to the historic nature of our mission. To further complicate matters, the vessel was not particularly fast. We were vulnerable in the extreme without benefit of companion ships to protect our flank.

Pirates had not entered into our calculations when we decided to launch the Second Life World Cruise.

“Where away, Mr. Cassini?”

The pounding stopped. Lt. Classico Cassini, my next in command, had climbed aloft to the crow’s nest and was peering through the glass shoreward. Seconds later, he was back on deck, breathing hard.

“Captain, sir, there is a gathering of pirates on the dock. They have indicated they wish for you to join them under a white flag of truce . . . alone!”

“What’s your take on the matter, Mr. Cassini? Shall we run, fight, or parlay with the natives?”

“They are armed to the teeth sir. I make it four ships, mostly brigantines and one blockade runner lightly armed.” Classico paused to ponder the alternatives. He was an admirable sailor “If we run, they will be on our heels like a pack of wild dogs!” he said. “We are totally outgunned and out manned. There is nothing for it. I say we parlay, sir.”

Pleased with his conclusion, I made ready to go ashore. I changed to a more formal waistcoat and strapped on a light saber. He handed me a matched pair of dueling pistols, making certain the powder was fresh and dry. Turning back to the crew, I made the formal announcement for all to hear: “Mr. Cassini is now in command.”

We saluted each other. I faced aft and saluted the Second Life Flag of Commission, then saluted the crew. A midshipman piped me away.

On the dock, my presence was all but ignored. I stood aside, warily watching this cluster of cutthroat captains decide some issue of importance. One nasty fellow played with a long- barreled flintlock and began firing erratically at nothing at all. He pointed the weapon directly at me as if to see me flinch or cower. I did neither. I concentrated instead on the man speaking. Chase Speculass — Admiral Speculass, I was to later learn — spoke clearly and quickly, making certain his words were understood by all. He was choosing sides for a mock naval battle and laying out the ground rules. I was relieved. For the moment, the group showed no interest in my ship.

They were a wild looking bunch, each man dressed to his own taste in some personal pirate dress code I was unable to decipher. All wore swords or carried personal weapons. Many wore the thigh-high sea boots common to their ilk. Most were looking straight at me. None spoke.

Piratenox_1“Brandon, take the southwest quadrant. Turrican, you are second in command,” Speculass ordered. Brandon Broda wore the red officer’s uniform of the English navy. More likely than not, its previous owner rested with Davey Jones. Turrican Dod wore a blue French officer’s waistcoat, black boots and a sea cutlass, it’s newly sharpened edge glinting in the sun. Speculass continued:”Remember gentlemen, beware the strong cross-winds. These vessels will capsize if you run the square sails in a blow. JonyBlade, You take the south east quadrant. Glaucus, you crew for him.” JonyBlade Codesmith was dressed head to toe in black. He chuckled at some unknown joke. Gloucus Aquacade, dressed in full battle gear, glanced at me and then looked at his feet.

“Nox, take your ship to the northeast quadrant,” Speculass ordered. Nox Chamerberlin [pictured] wore the exotic garb of a Moroccan. I glanced at the man, holding his musket. He glared back at me with an evil eye. The flowing scarf round his neck obscured his mouth and flapped wildly in the freshening afternoon breeze. His cold stare was unnerving. I was jolted out of my thoughts when Speculass teamed me up with the “loose cannon” Nox.

“Tiny Newt, you go with Chamerberlin.”

Admiral Speculass then choose Arrekuusu Muromachi, the “furry,” as his own crew. The Admiral treated me as one of the gang with no regard to my status as a sea captain. I held my tongue against this slight, preferring instead to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the assemblage.

Read Parte the Second