by Katie Sullivan
Some time later, they
arrived at the perpetually fog-enshrouded crag of Pirate Island. Scarlet winced and ducked
as they hurtled toward a solid rock wall, and sighed as Karnage veered at the last second
and flew down a tunnel. The tunnel came out in a vast cavern whose exact boundaries were
obscured by shadows. A natural rock shelf poked out into the water, where several other
CT-37's were moored. What truly took Scarlet's breath away was the impressive sight of the
Iron Vulture. The massive airship, complete with savage beak and bulbous purple hull,
floated in the dark waters like an overgrown metal whale. All was eerily silent, save the
whirr of their own engines.
They came down in an expertly smooth landing, and Karnage lashed the plane to a mooring post with a thick rope. He then took his guest by the waist and effortlessly lifted her to the ground. She could easily have disembarked unaided, but there was something irresistibly charming about his gallant manners.
As they turned around, a baritone voice with a thick Swedish accent called out, "Yah, hey, look, the Captain is back!"
"Ooh! Ooh!" shouted a nasally, whining voice.
Karnage raised his eyes. "I leave for one lousy afternoon and everything always falls to pieces," he said with a sigh. Scarlet warily situated herself slightly behind him and drew her dagger as two scruffy pirates strode out of a nearby tunnel.
The smaller of the two hurried up to his leader and wheedled, "Cap'n Karnage, Gibber landed all crooked and dented my plaaaaaaaaane!"
The large one interjected, "Yah, und Mad Dog left the sink running and flooded the kitchens!"
"SILENCE!" Karnage bellowed, his tail frizzing out like a bottlebrush. "I am your Captain, not your mother! I will not be bothered by your estupid hijinky-dinks!"
The two pirates slouched meekly and mumbled apologies. The whiny pirate, Mad Dog, noticed the stranger standing behind Karnage. "Hey! Who are you?"
Karnage stepped aside and presented his new acquaintance with a flourish. "May I present Scarlet Hindenfur."
"Hi." Her smile was tempered by the glint of the jeweled dagger in her hand.
Mad Dog's jaw dropped and a goofy grin spread over his face as he gazed at the vixen. "Whoooah! Homina homina homina! Call heaven, 'cuz they're missing an angel!"
Karnage kicked Mad Dog in the shin, and the scrawny pirate hopped up and down, calling out in agony. "Show some manners, you filthy frog! She is my guest. So stop drooling!"
"Sorry, Cap'n," Mad Dog moaned.
"Should I take that as a compliment?" Scarlet asked quietly with a half-frown.
Karnage sneered. "Mad Dog would date a gorilla bird if you put a skirt on it."
"Gee, thanks," she said dryly.
The stocky Swedish pirate with the silly hat asked timidly, "Cap'n, vhat should ve do about the kitchen?"
"Get a mop, you brainless booby! Do I have to do all the thinking around here?" Karnage threw his hands in the air disgustedly.
Now recovered from the kick to his leg, Mad Dog asked, "Cap'n, can we go plunder something? We haven't had a good plunder in ages!"
"Oh, stop whining!" Karnage snapped. A sudden realization came over him. "Actualmente, yes! Prepare the Iron Vulture! We leave for Owmaitoe Island tomorrow!"
"Really? Oh boy!" Mad Dog jumped up and down childishly, clapping his hands in glee. "Let's go!" The two pirates dashed off toward the airship.
Karnage sighed. "I am surrounded by idiots!"
"No wonder you sneak off for paella once in a while!" Scarlet said, shaking her head. She rolled up the cuff of her pants and slipped the dagger back into its leather sheath. "Uh...I don't suppose there's any way I could get my plane out of Cape Susette before we leave?"
"You will not be needing it when I have this." He made a proud sweeping gesture at the massive airship moored some distance away.
Scarlet's eyes widened as she admired the giant craft. "Wow. The actual Iron Vulture. I never thought I'd see it up close like this."
"You seem to know much about my Air Pirates," he said with a sudden glint of suspicion.
"Of course. There's not a crook, counterfeiter, smuggler, freebooter or pickpocket from here to Thembria who hasn't heard of the Karnage Air Pirates!"
"Ah, I see!" He grinned and puffed himself up augustly. "My rrreputation precludes me."
"That's 'precedes,'" she said under her breath. "Er...I don't suppose you'd give me a tour of the Vulture..." When he seemed to hesitate she put a hand lightly on his arm and gave a wide-eyed smile. "Pleeze?"
Karnage wagged a scolding finger at her. "Oh, no, no, no, señorita! Do not be battening those beautiful eyelashes at me! There will be plenty of time for a tour tomorrow on the way to Owmaitoe. No sooner, no later. Don Karnage does not take orders from anyone, no matter how pretty-like they are looking, yes-no?"
Scarlet gave a somewhat more genuine smile. "All right...was that a compliment?"
His expression was one of amused mystery. "That you will have to be deciding for yourself. Now then, I will show you to your room so you may be gunpowdering your nose before we dine."
"That's 'powder'. Not 'gunpowder.'"
Without warning he drew his sword and lightly touched the point to her nose. "Do not correct the Captain's English, pretty one. Especialmente in front of his men! ¿Comprenda?"
She stared down at the razor-sharp blade, nearly crossing her eyes in the process. "Point taken."
"Good. Now, as soon as my mangy minions have the kitchen in shippety-shape, you will dine with me. Then get some beauty sheep. We have a long journey tomorrow."
"That's 'sleep,'" she began before stopping herself with a hand to her mouth.
Karnage grinned, showing teeth as sharp as the sword. "You learn fast, señorita. I like that." He sheathed his blade and began walking down the natural rock tunnel. "We leave por la mañana to get our diamond!"
"You mean my diamond," Scarlet said hastily and hurried to follow him.
"Yes, yes. My diamond," he said with an irritated wave of dismissal.
"No, I mean, it's my diamond. The other jewels are yours. Or will be, once I can get them from my hiding place."
"Do not be worrying about the silly details. Now it is time to be eating." His face fell in dismay. "I still haven't gotten my paella!" He added a few rather impolite words in Spanish under his breath.
"With those jewels, we can buy a whole boatload of paella," she said.
Karnage turned to face her with a malicious smile. "Who buys things?"
A similar smile spread over Scarlet's features. "Of course. My mistake."
Karnage led his new friend to the Pirate Island dining hall. This was also a rock chamber, but appeared to have been enlarged by massive quantities of dynamite. A series of long wooden tables ran down the middle of the huge room, splattered with the remnants of many a past feast. Scarlet wrinkled her nose but kept her mouth shut. These were pirates after all. She couldn't expect impeccable table manners.
"Pardon me while I...what is the phrase...freshen up?" Karnage said from the doorway.
He disappeared down the corridor, but not before whispering instructions to a well-muscled but stupid-looking pirate nearby. The subordinate saluted quickly, jamming a thumb in his eye in the process. Scarlet look her head in disdain and sat down at one of the cleaner chairs. No doubt this brainless behemoth had been told to keep her from exploring on her own. No matter. She was content to move at Karnage's pace...for now.
Within minutes, a ragged line of pirates began wandering into the dining hall.
Some leered suggestively at her, most looked curious about her presence, and a few went so
far as to bicker over who sat next to her.
All this squabbling ceased immediately when a commanding voice came from the doorway. "Shut up, you insipid imbeciles!"
Every head in the room turned to look.
Don Karnage stood framed in the stone doorway, wearing a freshly-pressed blue uniform
with gold buttons gleaming in the torchlight. His brow was creased in
irritation. "Use your ugly mouths for eating, not talking! Sit down, shut
up and stop annoying my guest!"
The pirates meekly complied, taking their seats with minimal grumbling. Karnage strode augustly into the room, took the sturdy oak chair at the head of the table, and waved Scarlet to his side. "You sit with me," he said. She did so, grateful to avoid the others.
A few pirates in thankfully cleaner attire scurried out of a side door and served
plates of food to their Captain and the newcomer first, then the rest of the crew.
As soon as she saw the contents of the plate, she realized why Karnage wanted a decent
helping of paella. Yuk! A runny mess she supposed was potatoes was
slowly mixing with an orange substance that was probably carrots, and the blob of meat was
unidentifiable. Something told Scarlet she didn't want to know what it was.
She looked up carefully to see if her host had an equally low opinion of the food. Judging by the thinly veiled expression of resigned disgust, he did. She ventured a comment. "That chili dog is sounding better all the time, isn't it?"
A corner of his mouth formed a half-hearted smile. "It was a shame to dump our tapas on that police-cop."
She nodded. "Sí, una lastima." ("Yes, a shame.")
The Captain's face brightened at the sound of his native tounge. "Pero es posible que sería comida mejor en Owmaitoe." ("But it's possible there will be better food on Owmaitoe.")
"Podemos esperar," she said with a playful grimace, stirring the congealed mess of food on her plate. ("We can hope.")
"Sí. Digame, señorita, dónde aprendaba hablar Español? Su pronunciación es muy bien." ("Yes. Tell me, miss, where did you learn to speak Spanish? Your pronounciation is very good." [formal])
"En la escuela secundaria, y en la universidad para unos anos, tambien. Y viajando, claro. Es una lengua muy bonita; me gusta mucho. Es mas lógico que el ingles. Especialmente los verbos. Excepto el preterito. Hay tantos verbos irregulares en el preterito." ("In high school, and in the university for a few years, as well. And travelling, of course. It is a very pretty language. I like it a lot. It's more logical than English. Especially the verbs. Except the preterit. There are so many irregular verbs in the preterit.")
"Es la verdad, pero en ingles, casi todos los verbos son irregulares." ("True, but in English almost all the verbs are irregular.")
"Creo que es simplemente una cosa de familiaridad. Lo que conoce, es fácil. Lo que no conoce es difícil," she said with a small shrug. ("I think it's simply a matter of familiarity. That which one knows is easy. That which one doesn't know is difficult.")
His eyes filled with wonder not only at her pronunciation, but at her perceptiveness. The roar of raucous conversation from the other pirates had diminished as they noticed the newcomer's linguistic prowess. Clearly none of them understood Spanish, and hadn't expected this blond stranger to speak it. Karnage took advantage of this fortunate situation. Keeping a neutral expression on his face, he said, "Mi tripulación es tonto. Su mente es completamente exento de pensamientos. Un dia, temo que olvidará respirar. Estes ladrones incompetentes no podrían robar un platano de un mono ciego. Es patético." Scarlet glanced at the dull faces of the others and stifled a laugh. ("My crew is stupid. Their brains are completely devoid of thoughts. One day I fear they will forget to breathe. These incompetent theives couldn't rob a banana from a blind monkey. It's pathetic.") Her amusement was contagious, and Karnage chuckled, too. Soon the pirates joined in, although they had no idea what was so funny. This made Don Karnage and Scarlet laugh even harder.
"Ellos se ahogarían cantando en la lluvia," she said. ("They would drown singing in the rain.")
"¡Tratarían de comer la sopa con un tenedor!" Karnage added. ("They would try to eat soup with a fork!")
"¡Lo peor es que creen que esta comida es buena!" Scarlet said through a fit of giggles. ("The worst thing is, they think this is good food!")
"¡Tontónes, todos!" ("Huge idiots, all of them!")
The pirates roared in oblivious laughter as their captain nodded gleefully. The sounds of celebration echoed through the corridors of Pirate Island well into the night.
Some time well after midnight the festivities waned, and Don Karnage escorted his new friend to an empty room at the end of a dark corridor. He unlocked the door with an old iron key and pushed it open with a flourish. "Your accommodations, señorita. I do not believe this room has too many rats."
She studied his face to determine if he was joking, decided he wasn't, and lowered an eyebrow. "Gee, thanks." A few cautious steps brought her past him and into the room. It was a small chamber, lacking any furnishings beyond a dusty cot against the right wall and an orange crate that served as a table or stool. A single gas lantern on a ceiling hook cast pallid light over the dingy room. Certainly not a four-star hotel suite, but it was only for one night.
"Now then," Karnage said, "I will be leaving you to catch a few winks, and in the morning we will go for your diamond, yes-no?"
"Then buenas noches, señorita. Era un verdadero placer hablar contigo en mi idioma natal." He reached for her hand and kissed it for the second time that day. "Hasta mañana." ("Good night, miss. It was a true pleasure to speak with you in my native language. ... Until tomorrow.")
She nodded and smiled modestly. "Sí. Hasta mañana."
He grinned, looked as if he was about to say something else, then closed the door behind him.
There was the unmistakable sound of a key turning in the lock.
On to Chapter 3
Back to Chapter 1
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This story and the character Scarlet are © Katie Sullivan and may not be used without permisson. Don Karnage, the Iron Vulture, the Air Pirates, Mad Dog, Dumptruck, Cape Suzette, Tale Spin and all related indica, etc, are © The Walt Disney Company and are used without permisson for non-profit entertainment purposes only.