Absence Makes the Heart Go Plunder

Tale Spin Fan Fic

by Katie Sullivan


Chapter 10



Karnage's men hated lots of things. The Shore Patrol. Fuzzy pink bunnies. Broccoli. But most of all, they hated wearing suits. So the Captain's wedding was not a happy occasion for them.

To everyone else involved, however, it was cause for celebration. Scarlet had the time of her life browsing through hijacked cargo planes in search of just the right dress, shoes, veil, et cetera. It soon got to the point where shipments of anything even remotely useful in planning a wedding began re-routing to avoid Cape Suzette. It didn't matter. The Iron Vulture found them anyway.

There were few choices for bridesmaids, but Scarlet was pleased with her options: Carlotta and Dolores. Her sister, Katarina, was maid of honor, despite her protests against the attire.

"Look at me," she said sourly, frowning at herself in the mirror. "I look like Little Bo Peep!" Her gown was a pale shade of purple, clashing horribly with her red hair, and sported a cumbersome hoop skirt straight out of the Civil War. Fluffy lace along the sleeves and hem added to the ridiculous look, and the giant bow just above her tail added insult to injury. Katarina grimaced and turned to the side, hoping the abomination would look better from another angle. It didn't. "I can't even sit down in this stupid thing. And I hate pastels!"

Scarlet giggled evilly. "Sorry, sis. I think it's cute."

"Cute? Cute? It's horrid! It might be 'cute' on a three-year-old. On me, it's a torture device!"

"Hey, it's the bride's day. I'm the bride. Deal with it."

"If you make me go in public like this, you'll have to deal with a broken nose," Katarina grumbled.

"Sis, please? For your only sibling's wedding? The happiest day of my life? I'll wear anything you want at your wedding! I promise. Please?" Scarlet put on her most innocent, pleading expression.

"Aw, stop with the puppy-dog eyes!"

"Please? You're my favorite sister!"

"I'm your only sister."

"Well, yeah, but...pleeeeeeze?" Scarlet batted her eyelashes and gave a toothy, barely sincere smile.

"No," Katarina said flatly.

"I really don't want to make Dumptruck and Hacksaw beat you to a bloody pulp," Scarlet said in the same fawning tone.

"That makes two of us."

There was a knock on the door of Scarlet's quarters.

"Come in."

Will entered. "Scarlet, the Captain wanted me to tell you that the Barzinis have arrived. Hey, nice dress," he added, spotting Katarina.

"Laugh and you're a dead man," she growled.

"No, really. I like it. It has that whole 'Antebellum aristocracy' thing going on. Very nice."

Katarina's jaw dropped. "Really?"

"Mmm hmm. Anyway, I'll leave you ladies to your preparations now. La Paura is docked next to the Vulture anytime you want to come down," Will said before closing the door behind him.

Scarlet turned to her sister with a smirk.

Katarina blinked in disbelief. "He actually liked it?"

"See? I told you it wasn't that bad."

"But but but but--"

"Now let's go, and I'll introduce you to Vincenzo and Carlotta. You're welcome to change into something more comfortable in the meantime, however."

"Gee, thanks."




Half-way down to the Pirate Island docks, Scarlet and Katarina were met by Don Karnage, who dashed up with an agitated look on his face. "What?" his fiancee asked. "What's wrong?"

"She is here!"

"Who?"

"Isabella!" he said, speaking the name like a curse.

"What? Who invited her?"

"I certainly did not!"

Suddenly it dawned on her. "Oh no."

"What?"

"On the invitation I mailed to Vincenzo and Carlotta, I wrote 'and guest'."

"What? Why did you do an estupid thing like that?!"

"I wasn't thinking. That's just what you write on those things," Scarlet said with a helpless shrug.

Karnage slapped his forehead. "Wonderful."

"Now, calm down, querido, it's possible she'll be perfectly civil."

"Or it is possible she will try to ruin our wedding."

Scarlet took him by the shoulders and gave a half-hearted smile. "Someone who once loved you can't be all bad."

"You do not know Isabella. That harpy can single-handedly spoil anything! Trust me!"

"I still think you're overreacting. If you treat her nicely, maybe she'll behave herself. You're both adults."

Katarina mumbled, "You sure you want to marry into this messed-up family, sis?"

Scarlet shot her a disgusted look before turning back to her future spouse. "Now let's act like civilized pirates and go greet our guests."

"Civilized pirates? Now there's an oxymoron," Katarina said.

"Who are you calling a moron?" Karnage snarled.

"No one," Scarlet said with a sigh. "Come on." She took him by the hand and continued on to the docks.




It had taken an unnecessarily long time to sail La Paura all the way from Italy to Usland, but Vincenzo always loved a good sea voyage. Thus the old galleon was docked at a pier inside Pirate Island, dwarfed by the Iron Vulture. As Scarlet, Karnage and Katarina approached, Carlotta dashed down the gangplank and ran to meet them. "Hello, Papa! Scarlet, and...?"

"Carlotta, this is my sister, Katarina. Katarina, this is Carlotta."

"Ah, yes, I've heard all about you," Katarina said as they shook hands.

"It is a please-ure to meet your acquaintance."

Katarina turned to Scarlet and whispered, "Does being linguistically challenged run in the family or something?"

Scarlet gave a small laugh. "Now, sis, be nice. I don't imagine your Italian is any better than her English."

"Well, no, but considering the only Italian I know is on pasta boxes, that isn't saying much." Katarina rolled her eyes and smiled.

Vincenzo came over at more leisurely pace than his grand-niece, dressed in his usual red uniform. "Ahoy, there, Felipe! Scarlet," he said, kissing her hand.

"Does a sense of corny theatrics run in the family, too?" Katarina whispered.

"No! They aren't even related," Scarlet said with an exasperated sigh.

Vincenzo looked around at the dark, dank recesses of the cavern, and lowered an amused eyebrow. "Nice place you've got here, my boy. Not too cheery, but I imagine it's useful for staying away from the long arm of the law."

Karnage gave a wolfish grin and nodded.

Carlotta grabbed her father's hand and began walking toward the ship. "Come see what we brought you, Papa! We were sailing past Australia, and there was a yacht, and Mama told Uncle Vincenzo not to take the time plunder it, but he did anyway, and he even let me fire the cannon once, but it knocked me over on my tail, and we laughed, and we got this beautiful thingie, and--"

"Whoa, whoa, slow down, my overzealous offspring!" Karnage said, being pulled along behind her. "You are talking so fast I cannot even understand yourself!"

"Sorry!" she said with a giggle. "Just come see!" She dragged him on board the galleon, with Vincenzo, Scarlet and Katarina close behind.

Karnage caught a glimpse of Isabella standing by the ship's wheel, frowning in his direction, but Carlotta led him into Vincenzo's cabin. There on a sturdy oak table was a solid gold candelabra, covered with intricate carvings, with enough spaces for a half-dozen candles.

"Your wedding's present," Carlotta said jubilantly. "Uncle Vincenzo says it is all gold! Real gold! Is it not pretty?"

Karnage and Scarlet's faces lit up with nearly identical greedy expressions. "It's beautiful," she said, running her hand over the decorated surface. "Thank you!"

"Yes," Karnage agreed. "It is wonderful!"

"I'm glad you like it, Papa," Carlotta said, giving him a quick hug that for once was reciprocated.

Behind them, someone cleared their throat grouchily, and he turned to find Isabella scowling at him. Remembering Scarlet's advice, he resisted the temptation to insult her, deciding instead to nod in greeting with a neutral expression. The lack of hostility seemed to have no effect on her.

Sensing the sudden tension, Scarlet said to all present, "Let's go have a snack and chat, shall we?" Carlotta quickly translated for Vincenzo and Isabella, and when they had no objections, Scarlet played hostess and led them all in the direction of the dining hall.




Early the next morning, a second pirate ship sailed in to Pirate Island. This one hailed not from Italy but from Karnage's home island of Cabo Orgulloso, via the Panama Canal. As the galleon docked, he could see his father, Gonzalo at the wheel, as strong and stern as ever. His younger sister, Dolores, was hanging over the railing at the bow, waving frantically and calling out greetings. His mother, Lorita, was at her side, waving a handkerchief. Manning the anchor, sails and other stations onboard, he spotted his Uncle Joaquim, Miguel, Anita and a few of his other cousins. The Karnage family had arrived.

As the ship docked, Scarlet whispered to Felipe, "Do your parents know about Carlotta?"

"I told my mother when we were there, after the hurricane. I am sure she has told the rest of the family, yes."

"But you didn't tell me."

"She is my mother. If I did not tell her, she would still know. Mothers always know things like that." He put an arm around her waist. "Perhaps one day, mi amor, you will find out for yourself," he said with quiet fondness.

She merely gave an embarrassed smile and said nothing.




Scarlet and Katarina's parents, Richard and Eva Hindenfur, arrived on a small yacht later that day. They had been sent directions to Pirate Island via a coded letter. Being former bootleggers (now legal liquor and party supply dealers), they were sympathetic to the need to stay downwind of the law. And, for the same reason, had few objections to their youngest daughter marrying a pirate.

Richard Hindenfur was a tall fox, and the source of Scarlet's golden hair. Eva was shorter, a dignified vixen in the first stages of going gray. She wore a cream-colored blazer and skirt with her red hair pulled back in a loose bun at the back of her neck.

The introductions took a long time due to language barriers. With few exceptions, the Karnage family spoke only Spanish, the Barzinis only Italian, and the Hindenfurs only English. Felipe, Carlotta and Scarlet found themselves forced to act as translators.

Soon everyone was settled, and it was reasonably certain no one was going to kill anyone else. The dresses were ready, the rings selected from the vast collection of plunder, the menu prepared, the crews convinced they wouldn't die by wearing suits, and the crepe paper was strung along the natural rock balcony on the west side of the island. Now all that was left was the actual ceremony. And, of course, the bachelor party.

Pirates do bachelor parties in a big way. The huge room where Ratchet had once constructed the famed Lightning Gun was now put to use as a party hall, accommodating three crews and numerous relatives. Jean-Marc had worked himself ragged for days preparing all the food for the wedding, and when asked to put together the refreshments for this celebration, he nearly fainted. So they had to make do with a few barrels of beer and crates of snack foods pillaged from a Lito Ray supply plane. No one complained. Miguel, of course, seized the opportunity to put on an impromptu musical review, commanding the stage with guitar in hand, hamming it up for anyone who would listen.

While the men reveled, the bride and the other ladies were holed up in Scarlet's quarters with a stack of old photo albums, gossiping and getting better acquainted. Scarlet's mother, Eva, and other older, married women were all too happy to dispense advice and exchange gripes about their own husbands. Lorita showed her future daughter-in-law old photographs, including a number of silly snapshots of Felipe as a toddler that Scarlet was quite sure he would have preferred stayed locked in a vault somewhere. Anita Karnage was busy painting Carlotta's toenails a gaudy shade of pink. Dolores and Katarina were playing cards, each trying to out-cheat the other. Isabella was nowhere to be seen.

Meanwhile, back at the stag party, things were markedly rowdier. A large percentage of the pirates were already roaring drunk, falling over each other and singing verses to Miguel's song in completely out-of-tune and out-of-sync voices. The guest of honor himself was seated by the stage in a tall-backed wooden chair that conjured images of a king's throne. Will, Dumptruck, Ratchet, Gibber, Hacksaw and a few of his less-drunk cousins were gathered around, swapping dirty jokes and generally enjoying themselves. Karnage took a long swig from an antique stein and pretended to be slightly tipsy. No one but Miguel and his other relatives knew that his mug held nothing more potent than soda. Alcohol did, after all, do very unkind things to his hybrid biology, and the last thing he wanted was to risk such an episode the night before his wedding.

"--that's my sister!" finished Ratchet. The other pirates guffawed at the punchline to the unprintable joke. Karnage laughed along with them, silently grateful that his father had opted not to attend.

Just then, Miguel ended his song and hollered, "C'mon, cuz, get up here! I've got a special number just for you!" Karnage made a show of refusing momentarily, then, at the loud encouragement of his crew, climbed up on the small wooden stage beside his cousin. Miguel put a brotherly arm around his neck and shoulders, and struck up a lively Caribbean melody. The lyrics told a humorous tale about the trials and tribulations of marriage, but were all in Spanish, so only about a third of the audience understood. Still, the more inebriated pirates attempted to sing along.




From the shadows beyond the pool of torchlight, Isabella crouched, a mischievous smile spreading beneath her gleaming black eyes. So he was planning to live happily ever after, was he? Well, fine, good riddance. But first there was a little score to settle, for old times' sake.

She pulled a small flask from her leather vest, unscrewed the cap and took a sip. Ah, yes. Umpty-odd proof. Strong enough to put quite a damper on the festivities. She grinned. It was a wicked thing to do, and she knew it, but she couldn't resist. Besides, she had never let a little thing like her conscience stop her before.

The lithe vixen crept up behind the Captain's chair while he was still onstage, caterwauling with Miguel. No one saw her coming. No one saw her empty the flask into his stein. No one saw her leave.




When Miguel finished his song and the applause died down, Karnage hopped back down to his seat, breathless from singing, and took a swig from his drink.

Will raised his glass. "To Captain Karnage!"

"To the Captain!" echoed the others. They all slammed their glasses together in a toast, some splashing beer on themselves in the process.

"To Scarlet!" yelled someone.

"To Scarlet!" More clinking of glasses and glugging down drinks.

"To Miguel and his guitar!" called out one of the cousins.

"To Miguel and his guitar!" More toasting.

"To beer!" shouted Dumptruck, hefting his mug high in the air.

"To beer!" That got more of a response that "To Scarlet", which miffed Karnage, but of course he was biased.

"To plunder!" offered a pirate somewhere in the back of the room.

"To plunder!"

"To the Iron Vulture!"

"To La Paura!"

"To Cap'n Vincenzo!"

"To women!"

"To more beer!" That was followed by loud laughter.

The pirates toasted everything they could think of, from Neptune to cashew nuts. Before long, Karnage's stein was empty. The room was spinning. He blinked, trying to shake off the dizzying sensation. His stomach was churning, his head pounding, his ears ringing, and there were colored lights floating before his eyes.

Distantly, as if from far away, he heard Will ask, "Cap'n are you okay?"

If he opened his mouth to answer, there was a very real possibility he would be sick in front of everyone. Instead he tried to stand, hoping he could leave the room before that happened. The floor seemed to undulate below his feet, and he thought for a moment he was seeing a flock of green flamingos swirling above his head. And were they wearing...Roman gladiator helmets? The colored dots in his line of vision darkened to black and grew larger, and he felt himself tipping forward. He was unconscious by the time he hit the ground.


"...and then, when he was four years old, he cut up my best curtains playing with his father's dagger!" Lorita was saying. The ladies all laughed, peering over her shoulder to see the photo album.

There was a loud, rapid knocking at the door.

"Who is it?" Scarlet called.

Miguel's voice answered. "¡Doña Lorita, venga conmigo, rápidamente! ¡Felipe está muy enfermo! ¡Y traiga su bolsa de hierbos!" ["Doña Lorita, come with me, quickly! Felipe is very sick! And bring your bag of herbs!"]

Immediately, Lorita dropped the photo album, and both she and Scarlet were at the door in a heartbeat.

"¿Qué pasó?" Scarlet asked, her eyes wide with alarm. ["What happened?"]

Even as Miguel explained, the three rushed toward the Karnage family's ship to fetch Lorita's bag of medicinal herbs. "No sé exactamente. Un momento, estaba bien, y el próximo ¡estaba inconsciente! Se ha despertado, pero está vomitando y dicieno cosas incomprensibles. Algo sobre flamingos, y Hernán Cortéz bailando con una sastre colombiana. Creo que era alcohol en su bebida." ["I don't know exactly. One minute he was fine, and the next he was unconscious. He's woken up, but he's vomiting and saying incomprehensible things. Something about flamingos, and Hernán Cortéz dancing with a Colombian seamstress. I think there was alcohol in his drink."]

"Y yo creo que tienes razon, Miguel," Lorita said with a worried look. ["And I think you're right, Miguel."]




As they had the first time, on that summer night so many years ago, Lorita's special herbs eased her son's ailments. Within an hour, he was fast asleep in his quarters under the watchful eyes of both his mother and fiancée. The two vixens conversed in low tones in Spanish.

"I wonder what happened," Scarlet said, shaking her head in pity. "He knows better than to drink alcohol."

Lorita frowned. "Yes. He does. It must have been an accident. Or...someone could have spiked his drink."

"Who would do such a thing? It couldn't have been one of our crew. Except Will and Jean-Marc, none of them know he's a hybrid."

"It could have been anyone. The important thing is, he's going to be all right. Although I don't think he'll be in any shape to get married tomorrow." Scarlet closed her eyes briefly. She felt like crying, but managed to keep her emotions in check. Lorita put a motherly hand on her back. "Don't worry. It's just one extra day. He'll be fine soon." Scarlet nodded but still looked distressed. The older vixen smiled, the laugh lines on her face folding to accentuate her expression. "It will be midnight soon. This gray-haired pirate should be getting to bed. But do not hesitate to wake me if you need anything. As for you, my dear..." Lorita patted Scarlet's shoulder. "You can get a head start on your vows. You know, 'in sickness and in health.' With a treasury like his, you will never have to worry about the 'poorer' in 'for richer for poorer', so do an extra good job on this part, all right?"

Scarlet finally smiled and nodded. "Thank you," she said, indicating the bag of herbs.

"You are welcome. Take good care of my son." Her tone implied that the request was not just for this one night, but for many to come.

Her slate blue eyes twinkled in the dim light as she glanced down at her fiancé. "My pleasure."

With that promise, Lorita quietly slipped out the door. Scarlet stood for a moment, watching him sleep. He looked pale but otherwise all right, and his breathing was steady. She knelt at the bedside and softly kissed his forehead. "Oh, querido," she sighed, shaking her head. "Nothing's ever easy with you, is it?"

He never stirred from his deep, herb-induced slumber. At last Scarlet stood, took an extra blanket from the bureau, made herself comfortable in a stuffed antique chair, and dozed off.





On to Chapter 11

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This story and the characters Scarlet, Vincenzo, Isabella, Carlotta, and Baltsaros are (c) Katie Sullivan and may not be used without permission. Katarina is (c) Kayleen Connell and may not be used without permission, either. Don Karnage, the Iron Vulture, the Air Pirates, Mad Dog, Dumptruck, Cape Suzette, Tale Spin and all related indica, etc, are (c) The Walt Disney Company and are used without permission for non-profit entertainment purposes only.