by Katie Sullivan
Don Karnage was still in that hazy area between sleep and consciousness, basking in the midafternoon sun on Pirate Island's natural rock balcony. Familiar footsteps approached, and he turned his head toward the sound.
"Querido, Mad Dog's got Carlotta on the radio. She'll be here in a few minutes," Scarlet said.
Karnage slowly opened his eyes and stretched. "What time is it?"
"I must have fallen asleep." He sat up on the edge of his chaise lounge and yawned. He noticed his diary had fallen on the ground, an ink smudge at the point he had fallen asleep. "Blast!"
"That wouldn't happen if you used a modern pen like everybody else."
Karnage frowned at the old-fashioned quill pen and ink pot. "But I like it." He rubbed his fingers together, smudging the black ink.
"Well, it's your own fault, then. Now go wash that crud off before Carlotta gets here," Scarlet said.
"Papa papa papa papa papa!" Victoria came running outside with
Juan close on her heels. She jumped into his arms, and he somehow managed to avoid getting
ink on her yellow sundress. "Carlotta's here! Come look!" She yanked on his
stained hand with all the might in her little, four-year-old body, and Karnage allowed her
to lead him away, inwardly sighing. There was no peace and quiet anywhere, it seemed. And
it would only become scarcer now that Carlotta was here.
Karnage arrived in the main cavern where the Iron Vulture was docked, still led by Victoria. "Carlotta!" she yelled, dropping his hand to run to her half-sister. The Italian foxwolf broke off her conversation with Mad Dog to seize her and Juan in a hug.
"Did you two miss me?"
"Uh huh!" Victoria squealed happily.
"Yeah!" Juan said.
Carlotta picked Victoria up and wedged the child on her hip. "Buon giorno, papa," she said, giving Karnage a one-armed hug. "Did you miss me?"
"Of course, of course," he said casually. "You had a safe journey?"
"Long, but safe."
Suddenly, Karnage noticed a stranger standing by Carlotta's plane. He was about Carlotta's age, a fox with curly black hair. "Who is this?"
Carlotta briefly made eye contact with the stranger and said quickly, "Er, this is a, um, friend of mine, Sergio. Sergio, Papa. Papa, Sergio Castelli." She introduced Sergio to Scarlet, Juan and Victoria, then turned back to her father. "Now, uh, Papa, may I talk with you alone for a moment, please?" She handed Victoria over to Scarlet.
"I am supposing so, yes. Is something wrong?"
"No, not really. I just--I need to speak with you."
Scarlet looked to Karnage and shrugged. "That's fine. I've got to go wash your ink off Victoria's hands." She carried the girl away.
Juan looked slyly at his father. "Can I have a cookie, Dad?"
Juan sat down on the ground and smiled innocently.
Karnage shooed him away, shaking his head. "Fine, fine, fine. Go have a cookie. Just go someplace else."
"Thanks, Dad!" Juan said, hurrying off toward the kitchens.
"He's a manipulative little thing, isn't he?" Carlotta said with a grin.
"Yes, well..." Karnage sighed. "He learned from the best, I'm afraid."
"Then you can't complain," she said with a laugh.
"Now then, just who is this young male-type-person I have not met before?" he asked, eyeing Carlotta's companion suspiciously.
"Papa, this is Sergio," she said, nudging him forward.
"A pleasure to meet you, Captain Karnage," Sergio said in perfect and only-slightly-accented English.
Karnage warily shook his hand. How could this young upstart speak English so well? It wasn't fair!
"Sergio is studying to be a lawyer," Carlotta said.
Karnage looked startled.
"Defense lawyer," Sergio added quickly.
"His father is a rich lawyer, too," she said cheerfully.
"Carlotta!" Sergio said, embarrassed.
"Well, he is!"
"I know, but I am my own man," he muttered
Karnage raised an eyebrow, then noted their body language. "So...I am assuming you two are...together?"
Carlotta actually blushed.
"Yes, sir," Sergio said without hesitation. He glanced at Carlotta. "Now?" She nodded. Sergio cleared his throat and faced Karnage with rigid, formal posture. "Captain Karnage, I have come to ask for the hand of your daughter in marriage."
Karnage blinked. "What?!"
"Papa, please? We love each other very very much," she said, putting on her most charming expression--the one that usually made Vincenzo give her whatever she wanted.
"But but but--you are just a little thing!"
"I'm twenty four years old now, Papa."
She scowled. "Yes!"
Karnage closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead wearily. "I feel so old..." He looked up again and gave Sergio an appraising stare. "You are a lawyer?"
"I will be soon, yes, sir."
"Not a pirate?"
"Well...no. But I plan to be a very crooked, unscrupulous lawyer."
Karnage considered this and gave a tentative smile. "Well, that is not so very bad, I guess." He suddenly looked to Carlotta with a suspicious frown. "Wait a minuet. Does your mother approve of this?"
"Not...exactly. I mean, she does not know yet."
"Does not know? Why not?"
"I do not think she would be very happy to hear about some things." Carlotta shifted her weight awkwardly. "You see, she always has been telling me, whatever I do with my life, do not be like her and end up young, pregnant and alone. And, well...I am not so very young, and I have Sergio, so I am not alone, but..." She blushed again and looked away.
Karnage froze. "You are not saying...? Carlotta!" He stared at her stomach, which, now that he thought of it, did look a bit larger than usual.
She managed a small smile. "We were hoping to be married before Mama found out. I think it will make her less upset then. So...Papa, will you marry us? Before we return to Italy? I cannot hide this much longer, and I really do want to be Sergio's wife. We have been together for three years, now, and I love him very much." He put an arm around her shoulders and kissed the side of her head. She smiled and leaned her head into him.
"I-- I-- I--" Karnage sputtered, looking from Carlotta's face, to her belly, to Sergio's face. "I-- I-- Goodness graciousness."
"You must have known I'd make you a grandfather sooner or later, Papa," Carlotta said in a faintly teasing tone.
"Yes, but-- but-- but--" Karnage held up a hand and closed his eyes to take a deep breath. "Okay. Fine. Considering the, uh, circumstancialness of your own birth, Carlotta, I can hardly protest. If this is what you want, I suppose you and this lawyering little...lawyer boy--"
"Papa! He has a name!"
"Fine, fine," he said crossly. "Sergio, is it?"
He nodded and grinned.
"Okay. If this is what you really want, Carlotta, I can marry you to him."
"Oh, thank you, Papa!" she threw her arms around him and began to weep.
"There, there, my not-so-little-one. Stop with the tearfulness, now. If anyone should be crying, it is me! Do you know how old I feel right now?"
Carlotta laughed through her sobs and hugged him tighter.
Karnage made eye contact with his future son-in-law. "She cries like this often, no?"
Sergio smiled fondly and nodded.
"But we love her anyway, yes?"
His grin widened. "Yes, sir!"
"If you make her cry, though, I will have to kill you several times."
The color drained out of Sergio's face. "Er...yessir."
Scarlet took the news with slightly less shock and more visible joy than her husband had. "Oh, Carlotta, that's wonderful! Congratulations!" The two vixens hugged, and Sergio even got a hug from Scarlet, although it made him a bit uncomfortable.
"But, can we not tell anyone else for right now?" Carlotta asked. "I want to let Papa get used to the idea before everyone else knows. He almost fainted when I told him!" she said with a giggle.
"I did not!" Karnage protested.
"No problem, Carlotta," Scarlet said. "I understand. Now, why don't you and Sergio get settled in while we take care of a little, er, business matter?"
Carlotta looked suspicious. "Are you trying to squeak off to plunder without myself?"
"Well, we're not exactly sneaking, but there is a museum plane delivering some artifacts this evening, and we just can't pass it up. You're welcome to come, of course, but we thought you'd be tired from your trip, and--"
"Say nothing more. I am feeling not tired one bit, and I would love to come along! Just let us put our suitcases in our room."
Karnage's eyes widened, realizing the two would be sharing a room. "Er...yes. Go ahead."
When Carlotta was gone, Scarlet turned to her husband. "You don't mind, do you, if she comes plundering with us?"
"No. This place is already turning into a nursery school. What is one more child?" he said sarcastically.
"Felipe, Carlotta is twenty-four years old! And she's about to make you a grandfather! She's hardly a 'child'."
Karnage winced. "Do not be reminding me of that!"
"Besides, querido, you love having children around, you just won't admit it."
"My children, yes. Everyone else's children, that is a bird in a different bush altogether!"
"Now, querido--" she began to scold.
Karnage closed his eyes and moaned as a tiny red-haired vixen ran up and pulled on his tail. "Can I go with you pundering, please please please?"
Karnage yanked his tail out of the child's grasp and scowled. "It is plundering, and no! Stay here with your brother!"
"But he drools!" she whined.
"So go get a sponge!"
"Big meanie!" Wenna said, sticking out her tongue.
"Now, Wenna," Scarlet said calmly, "I know you're bored when your mom's away, but plundering is just for grown-ups."
"Now go find your dad and tell him we're almost ready to leave."
"Yes, Auntie Scarlet," Wenna said dejectedly, walking away toward Will's office.
Karnage brushed off his tail. "And just when is your rrrude sister returning to regain control of her spawn?"
Scarlet shrugged. "As soon as she finishes smuggling whatever it is she's smuggling, I suppose. In the meantime, be nice to your niece and nephew."
He rolled his eyes. "I am a pirate. I am not nice!
Scarlet hugged him. "I beg to differ," she said with a quick kiss.
"And I beg you not to differ. You and those children have ruined me, Scarlet. I spend more of my precious time chasing after little ones than shooting down planes!"
"What do you mean, 'so?' My reputation as a fearsome pirate is languiding!"
"Languishing. And it's not."
"Yes, it is. And I am getting old!"
"Now, Felipe, don't overreact. You were awfully young yourself when Carlotta was born. Look at how young our children are. You're not old. You're only...how old are you now, anyway?"
"Suuuuuure you are, querido," Scarlet said with a laugh. "Now why don't you go yell at the men to get ready? That'll make you feel better. In the meantime, I'll go see if Will can babysit while we're away."
Victoria ran into the room. "Mama, Juan said he got a cookie! I wanna cookie, too!"
"You gave Juan a cookie?" Scarlet asked her spouse.
"Yes, to get him to give Carlotta privateness."
"Oh. All right, honey, you can have one, too. Come along."
She headed for the kitchens with her small daughter in tow. Karnage
watched them go, smiling in spite of himself. Yes, he admitted silently, he adored each
and every one of the little monsters. But some days... He put a hand to his temple. He
felt a headache coming on...
The cargo plane targeted by the Air Pirates this particular day was a brand-new model, transporting a shipment of ancient jewelry from a Mediterranean shipwreck to the Cape Suzette Historical Museum for a limited three-month exhibit. If Don Karnage had his way, there would be some disappointed season passholders.
The Iron Vulture hovered discreetly in a cloudbank until the museum plane was close, then released a squadron of CT-37s from the beak. The cargo plane was unarmed, so it was child's play to capture it.
"Can I fire the guns, can I, Daddy? Can I? Pleeze?" nine-year-old Juan said eagerly, following his father across the bridge of the Iron Vulture.
"No!" Karnage swatted his son's hands away from the trigger that would fire the aft cannons.
"Aw, I never get to do anything!" he whined.
"Can I fire them, Daddy?" asked Victoria.
"No!" He held up a hand to keep his niece, Wenna, from asking. "Only groaning-up pirates can fire the guns! Now be good little people and sit quietly while we loot and pillage."
Disgruntled moans came from the children, but the Captain would have none of it. He would gladly tutor his offspring in the fine art of piracy when they were older. Now, however, they were far better suited to plundering the cookie jar.
Before long, the Air Pirates had their target disabled, and the plane made a hasty landing on the open ocean. Karnage and Scarlet led the way in their matching CT-37s, followed by Carlotta and a few of the more reliable crew members. They stood back while Dumptruck and Hal pried open a side panel to allow entrance to the downed plane. They soon had the panel free, and leapt into the plane, brandishing their crowbars as weapons.
"You morons!" came a familiar female voice from within.
Dumptruck screeched in terror, ran headlong out of the plane, lost his footing and splashed noisily into the sea.
"What in glue glazes...?" Karnage began.
Scarlet looked into the plane. "Sis?"
Karnage and Carlotta followed her in. Indeed, Katarina was threatening Hal with the crowbar Dumptruck had dropped. "You idiots! Why did you have to pick this plane, right now?" she was yelling in Hal's face. The plump tabby quivered in terror. Katarina turned and saw Scarlet and the others. "Oh. Hi, guys."
"What in the name of steaming hot cappuccino is going on here?" Karnage fumed. Hal took the opportunity to sneak out of the plane, away from the feuding foxes and foxwolves.
"Well, I was about to hijack this lovely little plane here when you buffoons decided to use it for target practice! Oh, and hi, Carlotta."
"'allo, Aunt Katarina," Carlotta said with a smile.
"You're after this cargo, too?" Scarlet asked.
"Of course! Get a load of these earrings!" She held up a pair of gold-and-emerald earrings. "These probably belonged to Cleopatra or something! That's where I've been the last week or so, tracking down this load of ancient doodads. Then you guys had to spoil it at the last minute!"
"If you knew of all this, why did you not tell us?" Karnage asked, sheathing his sword and scowling icily.
"My contacts, my sweat, my loot," Katarina said. "In other words, hands off, eyebrow boy!"
"There is nothing wrong with my eyebrows!" Karnage snarled.
They looked over and saw the pilot, a rodent of some sort, cowering under his chair. They had been too busy arguing to notice him. "I don't suppose if I asked nicely, you'd let me go and finish my delivery?" he asked timidly.
"NO!" all four pirates yelled.
"I didn't think so." The small pilot resumed hiding.
"Anyway, I'm sorry, sis, but first come, first serve. I took the low road and you took the high road and I got to plunderin' before ye," Kat said stubbornly.
Don Karnage was about to launch into a tirade of curses, but the plane suddenly bobbed up and down as if a very large swell had passed underneath it. They staggered slightly to regain their balance.
"What was that?" Carlotta asked.
"I have no idea. Now let me go about my business here, and we'll all meet back home in a bit to swap stories and have a drink or something." Katarina attempted to shoo her relatives out the door.
"But--but--but--" Karnage sputtered.
"She is right, you know," Scarlet said grudgingly.
"I'm always right," Katarina interjected.
Karnage glared at her, but Scarlet just smiled tolerantly. "Um, well, she did get here first..."
"Yeah, ladies first, Felipe," Katarina said.
"'Lady'? You are just a wench!" Karnage frowned darkly. "Besides, you may have arrived first, but you will be leaving on a stretcher!"
The pilot whimpered.
"Relax, buddy. He threatens me with great bodily harm every week or so," Katarina said, rolling her eyes. "And does he ever do anything to me? No. Why not?"
Scarlet finished for her, since they had had this conversation before. "Because our dear Captain would have sleep in the barracks with the men if he did."
Karnage sighed wearily.
Katarina and Scarlet shared a laugh. Then the red-haired vixen handed over the pair of emerald earrings. "Here, sis. You win the door prize. You can share with that cranky husband of yours, if you want to, but green's not his color, anyway."
"Why, you--" Karnage began, but his wife shushed him.
"Thanks, sis," Scarlet said quickly. "Come on, querido. Let's go back to the Vulture. You know you're not going to win."
Karnage grumbled a few choice words in Spanish under his breath.
"Oh, relax, Felipe. I'll...uh...make it up to you later..."
He raised an eyebrow. "Well...all right. But wear those earrings...only."
Carlotta put her fingers in her ears and headed for her plane. "I am not hearing any of this..."
"Sorry, Carlotta," Scarlet said, her cheeks flushing a rosy hue.
"I don't want to hear about it, either!" Katarina called from within the plane.
Scarlet giggled sheepishly. "Uh...shall we head back?"
"Yes, please," Carlotta said from the cockpit of her borrowed
Soon the extended family was gathered in the Captain's quarters within Pirate Island. Wenna and Victoria were playing with dolls on the floor. Katarina walked in, and her daughter ran to greet her. "Mommy!"
"Hey, honey! Miss me?"
"Uh huh!" Wenna said.
Will approached and shoved their infant son into her arms. "Here. You're just in time to start catching up on diaper duty."
Kat sniffed the baby. "Gee, hon, it's good to see you, too."
Karnage laughed, eliciting an annoyed look from Katarina.
Scarlet turned from an ornate gold wall mirror and posed. "Well?" The Egyptian earrings hung from her ears. "What do you think?"
"Very nice!" Carlotta said from her place on the couch next to Sergio.
"You're welcome," Kat said flatly.
"Lovely, querida," Karnage said, barely looking up from the chess game he was attempting to teach Juan.
"Daddy, I forget. How do the horsies move?" Juan asked, looking vaguely bored. While Karnage explained it again, Katarina slipped away to change the baby.
Scarlet crossed the room to turn on the radio.
"A little music wouldn't hurt," she said to no one in particular. She clicked on the radio, fiddled with the knobs to find a station amid the static, and went to sit with her son. "How's it going, Juan?"
"Chest is hard!"
"That's 'chess,' dear," Scarlet corrected.
"Well, it's hard."
"Felipe, you're not just playing with him because you could never beat your brother or father, are you?" Scarlet asked.
"Of course not!" Karnage said with an injured expression. "Although that is a perk. Checkmate."
"Aww..." Juan moaned.
"A good game nonetheless, my son. You are improving." He reached across the chess board to shake hands.
"You think so, Daddy?"
"I know so, Juanito. Look!"
Juan counted the chess pieces he had captured. "That is more than last time, isn't it?"
"Indeed it is, my boy."
Juan smiled proudly, a smug expression that looked very Karnage-like.
Katarina returned, holding baby Kai in front of her. "You saved that all up just for Mommy, didn't you?" she said suspiciously.
Kai made a happy, squealing noise.
"I thought so." She flopped down beside Will. "What have you been feeding this kid?"
Before he could answer, the music on the radio abruptly ended with the noise of a needle scraping across a record. Broadcast Sally's silky voice came on, sounding less poised than usual. "We interrupt this broadcast for a special news bulletin."
Karnage stopped resetting chess pieces and perked up his ears. Only Wenna and Victoria weren't paying attention.
"A massive tidal wave has hit Cape Suzette. The cliffs blocked much of the wave, but the cliff guns have been swept away, and the harbor areas have been devastated. Stay tuned to KAPE for updates."
Another song began. Karnage stood, upsetting half the chess pieces, and turned to Scarlet with wide eyes. "Are my ears seeing things, or did that Broadcast Sally-person say the cliff guns are gone away?"
"That's what I heard," she said in amazement.
"So that is what that bump in the ocean was, more early today," Carlotta said.
Karnage grabbed Scarlet by the shoulders and grinned wolfishly. "Are you thinking what I am thinking, mi amor?"
"Normally, I'd say I hope not, but yes I am."
He dashed out the door, yelling, "Men! Ready the Iron Vulture! We are going to Cape Suzette!"
"Papa! Wait for me!" Carlotta followed him, leaving a startled Sergio behind.
Katarina shook her head. "He better explain about the cliff guns, or they'll think he's...you know...the C-word."
Scarlet turned to Will with an apologetic look. "Do you mind watching the kids again?"
Will shrugged. "No, no, you go on ahead. Have your fun. Leave me with the paperwork and the kids. And the smelly, ignorant crew. As usual. I don't mind. Really. Don't let me stop you..."
"Thanks, Will. You're a dear." Scarlet headed for the door.
"Mommy, can't I go?" Juan asked.
"No, honey. It's too dangerous."
"But I'm almost ten! Dad took Kit plundering when he was eleven!"
Scarlet froze. "Who told you about that?"
"Note to self...throttle Mad Dog," she said under her breath. "Look, Juan, that was different. Now, I don't have time to argue with you. Just stay with Auntie Katarina and Uncle Will."
"No! I wanna plunder!" Juan said, stamping his foot.
"Me too!" Victoria piped up.
Scarlet sighed. "Look, children. You can come along when you're older. Right now, it's just too dangerous for you!"
"I'll be good, I promise!" Juan pleaded.
"No," she said firmly. "Sis, give them ice cream or something. I'll be back...well, I don't know when, but later. 'Bye!" She dashed out the door.
Kat stood up, shoving Kai into her spouse's arms. "Hey, sis, wait for me! I'm not passing up a good plundering!"
Juan sat down at the table and knocked over the king chess piece he father had been using. "Grownups have all the fun."
Will sighed. "Not all of them..."
The crew was completely confused by their Captain's frantic, unexpected orders. They had returned home empty handed, and were simply planning to get drunk and mope. Scarlet managed to explain in quick, simple terms that a tidal wave had wiped out the cliff guns. That changed things considerably, and the crew sprang to life.
Before long, the Iron Vulture was back in the sky, racing in a beeline for the now-defenseless city of Cape Suzette.
Back to main library
This story and the characters Scarlet, Juan, Victoria, Vincenzo, Carlotta and Isabella and are (c) Katie Sullivan and may not be used without permission. Katarina, Wenna and Kai are (c) Kayleen Connell and shouldn't be used without permission, either. Don Karnage, the Iron Vulture, the Air Pirates, TaleSpin, Mad Dog, Dumptruck, Cape Suzette, Kit Cloudkicker, Baloo, Rebecca Cunningham, and all related indica, etc, are (c) The Walt Disney Company and are used without permission for non-profit entertainment purposes only.