Absence Makes the Heart Go Plunder

Tale Spin Fan Fic

by Katie Sullivan

Chapter 4

A barge loaded with crates of Florence's finest metalworking and crafts drifted down the Arno River, lit by a string of lanterns and starlight. Two vixens sat on boxes near the back of the vessel: one golden-haired, one raven-haired. They conversed as best they could in English, and when that failed, Scarlet resorted to her Italian phrasebook. It was an awkward but adequate system of communication.

"I traveled to Usland one time," Carlotta said. "My father is living there. A nice country, but my English is bad, you know. I try to learn, but is difficult."

Scarlet gave an encouraging smile. "I can understand you...most of the time. I know it's hard to learn a new language. I've studied Spanish for many years."

"Spanish? ¿Español? I know a few words. Less than I know of English."

"Be patient. You'll learn. Young people always learn languages faster than adults," Scarlet said. "How old are you, anyway?"

"My day-of-birth is next month. I will have 14 years of oldness. Agedness? How is it said?"

"We usually say, I am 14."

"Oh." She nodded slowly. "I will remember. Thank you."

"So, Carlotta, tell me...how did you get involved with that monster Baltsaros? You don't seem like the type."

"I was stupid. So stupid. I was mad with my mother, and just to make her more madder, I went down to the taverns. She told me never to go, and hybrids get very ill from alcohol, so I usually did not care. But to make her mad, I went. I was in Baltsaros' tavern. Was very crowded. Lots of people. A group of men began fighting. In the mess, I was tossed backward into the bar, and I broke all the glasses. Pitchers, cups, glasses, everything. Was not my fault, clearly, but Baltsaros gave me the blame. He said I had to pay. I did not have money, so he made me work. He said I had to work for him one whole year, or he would kill me. And he would. He could. I have seen..." Her voice trailed off, and she put a hand to her mouth, shaking her head. "I'm sorry. I--" Tears closed her throat, but to her credit, she was soon able to regain her composure.

Scarlet laid a hand on her shoulder. "It's all right. I get the picture," she said quietly.

"The...picture?" Carlotta said with obvious confusion. "What picture?"

"It means, I understand."

"Oh. Thank you. Do not try to speak simple-ly. I want to learn. Now...this treasure...where did you get the map? Is very old."

"My sister found it in a museum in Portugal."

"A museum? Then how did you get to have it?"

"We stole it," Scarlet said with a dishonest gleam in her eyes.

Carlotta grinned. "Very good! I like that. I tell you my family is pirates? My uncle, my mother, and my father, too. All pirates."

"Really?" Scarlet said, taken aback. "Real pirates?"

"Yes. My uncle, with the ship, I tell you? It is a pirate ship. You said you are pirate also?"

"Yeah. Well, sort of. Not a sea pirate. I'm an--"

"--air pirate," they finished together.

The elder vixen raised her eyebrows. "You know about air pirates?"

"Know? Yes, yes. My father was the first!"

Scarlet looked at her new friend strangely. "Really?"


"Figures," she grumbled. "Not only did he try to cheat me out of this treasure and order me around, he lied to me. That selfish, egotistical little rat..." When Carlotta looked at her quizzically, she explained, "My ex-captain claimed he was the first air pirate."

Carlotta cocked her head and frowned. "What is your captain named?"

"Don Karnage."

The younger vixen simply stared at her, her eyes wide.

"What?" Scarlet said. "You've heard of him? He pillaged Cape Suzette with a lightning gun several years ago. It was in all the papers."

"Don Karnage? Felipe Karnage? Air Pirate, foxwolf, big eyebrows, strange accent?" Carlotta asked.

"Yes..." Scarlet said slowly. "You're not saying...?"

The girl took a deep breath, and, grinning like a jack o'lantern, burst out, "He is my father!"

At that moment, Don Felipe Karnage was dozing fitfully in the co-pilot's seat of the stolen cargo plane. It was a shallow, unsatisfying sleep, but welcome in the face of his recent insomnia.

Will's voice shattered his fragile slumber. "Land ho!" Karnage opened his eyes to see the Italian coastline on the horizon. "I've always wanted to say that," Will commented sardonically.

"Where to now, Cap'n?" Hacksaw asked from the pilot's seat.

"Where are we now?" he asked, groggily rubbing at his tired eyes.

"Here." Will pointed to a spot on the map near the "heel" of Italy. Karnage studied the map for a moment, rattled off a heading that would bring them to Florence, and settled back in his seat.

It was still there: that sense that Scarlet was in danger. A nagging urgency tugged at his mind, fortifying his resolve. Wherever she was, he would find her, protect her, and tell her--

"Foreign cargo plane, you have violated Italian air space. Identify yourself!" came a sudden voice from the radio. The pirates flinched and looked to their Captain for instructions.

Karnage cleared his throat and grabbed the radio microphone. He hadn't spoken Italian in years, but it came back quickly. "We are a private cargo plane from Usland, delivering light bulbs to Florence." He knew those light bulbs of Baloo's would come in handy eventually.

There was an uncomfortably long pause, and at last the official said, "Proceed."

Karnage smirked proudly to his crew as he flipped the switch to shut off the radio. "Your Captain is the master of deceit in all tongues, yes-no?"

The pirates cheered.

Later that day, the innocent-looking cargo plane landed in the capital of the Renaissance: Florence, Italy. Karnage stood in the doorway of the plane, blocking the others from exiting until he had given his instructions. "Now, do not forget to remember! Watch the plane, steal and drink if you must, but do not get arrested! I will not be bailing out any of you, understand?" The pirates nodded numbly. "Try to be inconsuspicious." He knew that wasn't the right word, and for once wished Scarlet was there to correct him. "If anyone tries to talk to you, just say, 'Non parlo bene l'italiano'...'I don't speak Italian.' I will be back in a few days. Any questions?"

Ratchet raised his hand like a schoolboy.

Karnage sighed impatiently. "Yes, yes, what is it?"

"What was that again? No parlo beanie Italianer?"

"No, no, no. Noan pahrla bainay leetahleearnoa."

"Noon parlor baby the arm Noah?" Dumptruck tried, scratching his head.

Karnage ran a hand down his face in disgust. "No, no. It is..."

Ten minutes and much screaming later, the pirates had the hang of it. Their pronunciation was horrible, but he at least felt they could be understood, if need be. They split up, the men going he-cared-not-where, and he to speak with the nearest employee. He found an easily-intimidated rooster sweeping out the hangar.

"Hey you," he said, hoping his own Italian wasn't too rusty. "Have you seen a blonde vixen from Usland with a small gray-blue plane?"

The rooster stared up, wide-eyed, at his sharp teeth, and nodded. "She landed a few days ago," he stammered. "Haven't seen her around since, but her plane is in hangar eight."

Sure enough, there was Scarlet's little plane in hangar eight. Rifling through the cockpit, he found some of her spare clothes, including, oddly, an Indian sari. Her jewelry was gone, as was her favorite dagger. There was a fistful of navigational maps and charts, but no treasure map. He hadn't really expected it to be there, but it was worth a look. Now what?

Karnage stood for a moment, absently toying with a corner of one of Scarlet's blouses as he plotted his course of action. He could continue to ask around, but if she hadn't been back to her plane since landing, it was a safe assumption she had already left town. She would be headed west, toward the coast north of Pisa, a mere seventy-some kilometers or so. Unfortunately, he hadn't been able to study the treasure map very closely, so he had only the vaguest of memories of it.

There was one person who could help him, if he wished to become entangled with that whole Carlotta situation again. Vincenzo was his best hope for finding Scarlet, and that was worth the risk of running into Isabella. His former teacher knew every nook and cranny of the Mediterranean coast, and would probably be able to ascertain the location the map indicated, even from his hazy recollections.

As he walked down the narrow streets of Florence, memories seeped back, nudging aside his all-consuming thoughts of Scarlet for a few brief moments.

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This story and the characters Scarlet, Carlotta, Isabella, Vincenzo and Baltsaros are (c)Katie Sullivan and may not be used without permission. Katarina is (c) Kayleen Lium 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.