by Katie Sullivan
As the yacht neared Pirate Island late the next afternoon, fog enveloped it, making it nearly impossible to see. Scarlet leaned over the railing at the bow, calling instructions back to Karnage at the helm. "Rock to...starboard," she said carefully. He had already scolded her numerous times for using "left" and "right", calling her a "landflubber". Her laughter had only annoyed him further.
Although his skills were rusty, Don Karnage was an experienced sailor, and he was familiar with the island...his island. Somehow he managed to steer the yacht safely through the numerous rocks and shoals until they found themselves staring up through the mists at the massive rock doors designed for the Iron Vulture.
"Now what? How do we get the doors open?" Scarlet asked. She came back from the bow, feeling her way along the railing in the fog.
"Leave that to me. Here, take the wheel," he said. She held the wheel steady
while he dropped anchor, dashed inside the cabin to shut off the engine, and did something
to the sails, although she couldn't quite see what through the fog. Whatever it was, it
successfully halted the boat. He scrambled down from the rigging, his feet hitting the
deck with a thump. He straightened his blue coat and went back into the cabin. Among the
luxuries, de la Valle had equipped with yacht with something as practical as a radio.
"This is the fabulous Captain Don Karnage calling Pirate Island," he said into the microphone. "Come in, Pirate Island." He kept his voice courteous...for now.
There was a burst of static but no verbal reply.
"Don Karnage calling Pirate Island," he said with more fervor. Still no answer. "Open up the main doors, or I will have you all boiled in olive oil for mutiny, you dastardly deserting dumb-dumbs!"
Finally there came a voice: Mad Dog's. He sounded sleepy. Or hung-over. Or both. "Cap'n, izzat you?"
"Of course it is me, you brainless buccaneer! Now open the doors!" Karnage yelled.
"Where are you?"
"I am in a boat outside the main doors, getting more furious by the minute, you sea slug!"
"We thought you'd gotten eaten by a lion or something," Mad Dog said. He sounded vaguely disappointed.
"I was dealing with Javier de la Valle, alone, thanks to you fleeing flea-brains!" Karnage ranted.
"Uh...sorry?" Mad Dog said.
"You can be graveling later. Open the doors!"
A deep rumbling began to resonate through the air, and the giant doors slowly parted. A
large swell rocked the boat, making its two occupants grasp the railing for balance.
Karnage threw his weight against the lever to raise the anchor, then fired up the motor
again. Scarlet steered into the dark recesses of the cavern and past where the Iron
Vulture was docked. He took over the wheel to ease the yacht up to the pier, where several
confused pirates were waiting.
Karnage vaulted agilely over the railing and onto the pier, sword drawn. "Now, would someone explain to me why you left your magnificent Captain behind?" he seethed.
The pirates fidgeted and mumbled excuses. Finally, Mad Dog spoke up. "We figured you got eaten by wild animals, or drowned, or fell in a ravine, or something."
Karnage paced the length of the pier, circling Mad Dog like a predator. "Oh, I see," he said with deceiving calmness. "You thought I was careless and let some misfortune befall me."
"Yeah," Mad Dog said quickly, nodding to confirm this easy explanation.
"You imbecile!" Karnage snarled, lunging at him with his sword. Mad Dog screeched and stumbled backward, right off the pier and into the water. "The great Don Karnage is never careless! He is ever alert, and he always is victorious!" The other pirates began nodding and agreeing, fearful of the consequences if they didn't. "In fact, not only was I not careless, but I was busy single-handy-led-ly defeating the famous gangster-type-person, Javier de la Valle!"
Behind him, still on the deck of the yacht, Scarlet cleared her throat loudly.
Karnage glanced at her. "Well, she helped a little. But only because she was following my brilliant orders."
She sighed. "Oh, brother."
He whirled back to face his crew. Mad Dog was just crawling up out of the water onto the pier. "Now, my mutinous morons, as punishment for your desertion and estupidness, you must all clean the Iron Vulture's galley until I can see my handsome face in every single surface. Is a disgusting mess in there!"
The pirates grumbled and began walking toward the airship.
"With the toothbrushes."
They turned to stare at him in dismay.
"And no one eats until it is done!"
They complained more loudly, but he swished his sword at them, and they scurried off to comply.
By this time, Scarlet was off the yacht, standing at his side. "Punishment or not, that galley needed to be scrubbed!"
"But of course. And perhaps next time they will think twice before stranding their fabulous Captain on an island!"
"At least you got a boat out of the deal," she said, admiring the yacht.
"True. Come, now, I show you to your permanent quarters. Ones with no rats."
"Fine by me." He led her down a rock tunnel, past the dining hall, and deeper into the island. "Do all the pirates have rooms here on the island, or are most on the Vulture?" she asked.
"On the island."
"But you have quarters on the Vulture."
"And on the island, also. I am free like the wind. I come, I go."
They turned a corner and came to an intersection between two corridors. He turned left, and she followed. About half-way down the hallway, there was a door with the numeral 28 sloppily painted on it. The door stuck, and Karnage kicked it sharply until it shuddered open. A pale light bulb flickered on, revealing a room that was larger and cleaner than the one she had been in previously, although it had obviously not been dusted recently. It was nothing fancy, just a plain bed, table, chair and bureau, but there was not a rat in sight.
"Here you are," Karnage said. "I trust it is satisfactorily."
"I wouldn't recommend your interior decorator to my friends, but it'll do just fine," she said, nodding.
Karnage stood in the doorway while she inspected the room more closely. "By the wave, I was kidding about the laundry."
"No you weren't," she said acridly.
He grinned. "No, but let us say I was. It would be a shame to waste your talents on washing clothes. You know, we make a pretty good team, you and I."
A true smile finally found its way back to her face. "I guess we do."
"But there is still the little matter of initiation."
"'Initiation'?" she said warily. "Like what? Walking barefoot over hot coals?"
"Do not be absurd. You must stand before the rest of the crew and pledge loyalty to me, and then--" He paused dramatically, and she raised her eyebrows in apprehension. "Then you have to dine with me tonight in my quarters."
"Is that the standard initiation procedure?" she asked dryly.
He stepped backward into the corridor and shrugged. "Not exactamente, but in your case, pretty one, I make an exception."
Scarlet gave him a warm but non-commital smile and slowly shut the door.
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This story and the character Scarlet are © Katie Sullivan and may not be used without permission. Don Karnage, the Iron Vulture, the Air Pirates, Tale Spin, Mad Dog, Dumptruck, Cape Suzette, Tale Spin and all related indica, etc, are © The Walt Disney Company and are used without permission for non-profit entertainment purposes only.