Oh... my unspeakable wife, Queen Lisa
I'm telling you I was the King of Spain
And now I work at the Pizza Pizza"
"King of Spain"
We leave the island carefully, as the reefs are treacherous to navigate. The shore leave was good, and more importantly we've confirmed Scott's story of the men who were on the Jezzibelle. We gave a Christian burial to the ones Scott could recognize or find. However, this still leaves most of the crew missing.
We've also found two boxes of coins along the beach, some dating beyond the Santa Christa, worth a small fortune in their own right. If this is what this ship called the Maria had as disposable coin, I can only imagine what she has on board that we can take.
Scott's stories of the crew, animal men all, and the supposed curse they carry has some of the crew worried. I for one put it as an illness he had gotten from the island or his wild stories to keep us from finding this ship. Some of the crew have bought into the stories Scott has been telling, and have requested to no longer be in my employ. We will drop them at the next port, and find real men who are willing to fight.
The woman has been learning the ways of the sea remarkably fast. I have seen her with Scott, navigating by dead reckoning. Perhaps her inclusion was not as bad as we first thought.
Scott has directed us East, his path taking us in the direction of an enchanted place where we know ships have vanished and sunk. We will be keeping a special watch for danger in the next two weeks. Our scheduled voyage is well into it's second half. Scott should know better than to fail me this time. We shall see how things develop.
Log Entry, Roger Wallworth, Captain
Yars put a finger into the air before Rev could speak. "I know, I can hear it."
Rev closed the door and went straight to Yars desk. "Aren't you going to stop it?"
"I'd have better luck making the crew celibate." Yars said, finishing his reading and looked up. "But, if you insist." Yars stood up, straightened his jacket, and walked out of the office and onto the main deck.
The melee was in full swing, pails, mops, brooms, knives, claws, teeth, and blood flew from all angles. Yars growled to himself, and walked with purpose to the railing that overlooked the main deck. He stood, watching the fight unfold. Not a single rat or dog was spared in the carnage. Yars watched, both paws on the railing, sternly looking over the fight.
His presence did not go unnoticed. Slowly, one by one, the combatants stopped, looking to the Captain. As the silence slowly rolled across the ship, Yars watched as the crew members lowered weapons, released opponents, or otherwise stopped fighting. The air that was once thick with screams, hisses, growls and combat became eerily quiet. Yars let the moment linger, fuming to himself.
"If you are all quite done." he announced flatly. The Howlers and Jackrats were shamed further into silence. Only the sound of the waves against the ship could be heard. "All confined to quarters." Yars said, finally. "I want a representative of the Jackrats and Howlers in my office immediately. I do not care who. Anyone found wandering the deck will be lashed fifty times by a crew member of MY choosing." Yars looked over the scene once more. "And if you're not done, carry on until you are satisfied that you can accomplish something by beating each other's heads in." Yars turned, and walked into his office.
Rev nodded in appreciation. "I'm impressed."
"I'm not." Yars said. "They should know better. They know they can't kill each other, just make bruises that heal."
"I meant how you handled it." Rev said. "The last time you shot a pistol."
"I'm short powder." Yars replied flatly, clearing his desk. "I'll need to talk to them alone, Rev."
The rabbit nodded. "Not a problem." Rev began to leave. "Should I clear my day to talk to the crew members?"
"I'll have Abacus help you." Yars said. "He knows the Jackrats better." Rev nodded, and left.
Some time later, Sam and Ironbar were standing in front of Yars, who was sitting on his desk. "Will this end?" Yars asked. Neither answered him. "All right then. We do this the hard way. I will work with Abacus on a work schedule that will stagger the Jackrats and Howlers. Meanwhile, no movement from either party."
"Isn't that a little harsh?" Ironbar asked. "We will need food, at the very least."
"Provisions will be allowed for." Yars said. "But I can not have open warfare on my ship. Someday Maria may not be able to heal the damage caused. And we can not sail a ship if we're trying to kill each other."
Sam nodded. "Captain, all due respect, but as far as I know we did not start this."
Ironbar glared at the Jackrat next to him. "I believe there is a little something about Kindle?"
"I meant this fight." Sam said quickly.
"Gentlemen." Yars said deliberately. "I do not want any bickering over this. Emotions are on the knife-edge, and I will not tolerate fighting until there is some kind of answers to what happened. Can I assume the Jackrats position has not changed?"
"No Captain." Sam said. "Vermin wishes not to speak, and in fact has nothing to say. I am only reporting for him."
"Of course." Ironbar said. "He's just afraid that I'll…"
"Frank." Yars said. The Dane stopped. "That's enough for now." Yars took in a deep breath. "I realize the Jackrats and Howler feud goes further back than my placement as Captain. But I can not tolerate this any more. I ask you both for your cooperation, and your help in this investigation. I'm not asking you to be friends, I'm asking you both to put a hold on it until we have answers."
"And who is working on this investigation?" Sam asked.
"Bernie." Ironbar said. Sam nodded. "What, no rude remark? no comment about how a rat should be looking into it?"
"I've had my differences with Bernie on the Rena." Sam said. "But I have never doubted his ultimate judgment. I will personally agree to his findings."
Ironbar's eyebrows raised. "A Jackrat agreeing to a Howler's opinion? A first on this ship!"
"As I told you before," Sam said smugly. "We still obey our Captains orders. Captain Yars has given it his blessing, and I have no reason to disagree." Sam looked up to the tiger. "Tell Bernie that I will meet with him, and let him know all I am able to." Yars nodded. "Meanwhile, how long are we confined to quarters?"
"Until this is solved." Yars said. "Or until we can work a schedule that we can all agree upon, with no crossover." Ironbar and Sam both nodded.
Sam returned to the Jackrats quarters, and reported back. "And until then, we are confined to here." Sam said. "I have told Yars I would tell him all I am able to."
Vermin smiled. "And you know what that is, don't you?" Sam nodded. "You follow orders well." Vermin said smugly. "You're going to have to learn to give them too." Sam nodded again, taking in a deep breath.
Bernie was standing in front of the supply room door, and sniffed the air. He looked around, tried to get an idea of what was going on the night it happened.
"Are you supposed to be here?" Bernie turned to see Silver standing there. "I thought there was a confinement?"
"I'm investigating the incident." Bernie said. "Captain Yars gave me permission." Silver nodded. Bernie stood where he found Kindle that night. "From all I can figure so far, Kindle was dropped here." He then stood where the attacker would be. "But the blow to the head was from the front. There's not enough room here to hold Kindle like he says he was held. So I think he was attacked somewhere else, then dragged here."
Silver looked around. "What about there? Where the hallways meet?" Silver walked to it, and spread his arms wide. "More than enough room to do it here."
Bernie nodded. "I thought that too, and it's not a well used corridor." He looked at the storeroom door. "What's in there, anyway?"
"Cloth." Silver said. "Canvas, things like that. Why?"
Bernie put a finger on his muzzle, and scratched his fur. "Nothing yet. Just thinking."
Ironbar was sitting in his bed, trying to relax. He smelled the tiger before he got to him. "Come back for another round, Captain?"
Yars sat down on Ironbar's bed. "No. I wanted to explain my actions."
"Nothing to explain." Ironbar said. "Vermin's making trouble, and you're trying to keep order." Ironbar leaned forward. "I can't help but think that even if you were a Howler you'd be orderly"
"It's my nature." Yars said. "It's also what I know."
Ironbar leaned back into his bed. "You should have let us fight it out of our system."
"There wasn't anything left on the deck to fight with." Yars said. "When you two clash the Ship takes the most damage. Didn't you see the deck before you got down here?"
Ironbar nodded, closing his eyes. "Thank you for stopping the fight."
"Thank you for stopping." Yars said. "I will try to get Bernie to hurry as much as he can." Ironbar patted Yars on the paw.
Ironbar nodded. "No hard feelings." he said. Yars nodded.
Bernie was looking over the schedule, with Abacus looking over the dog. Bernie nodded as he looked over the sheets. "These are very detailed."
"Thank you!" Abacus said, fluffing his tail with some pride. "Everything is well documented, from supplies to usage."
Bernie pointed to a symbol next to a column. "What does that stand for?"
"Oh, it means a sail was replaced and put in the storage room." Abacus said. "Maria seems to repair the sails better in the storage rooms, and not on the masts."
Bernie looked at the symbol, and then the day it was next to, nodding slowly to himself as he poured over the books.
By evening the Howlers were telling tales and stories. "And that's how I got here." Bullseye said. "Not much of a story, but I'm here now." The others nodded. "So how 'bout you 'Guvvner? How'd you get on board?"
They all looked at Duke, and he laid back. "Well, it's a fun story."
"Bah!" a voice from the corner said. "I've heard it before."
"Not everyone has, Butch." Duke said to the corner. "And these fine friends asked me."
"Bah." The bulldog rolled over in his bed, trying to cover himself.
"So how'd you get on board?" Bullseye asked.
"Well, it began a long time ago. I was once Royalty." Butch groaned to himself as Duke ignored him. "Not Royalty in the palace, but in line for the throne."
"You could have been King?" Redpaw asked
Duke laughed. "Well, yes. If the King, his wife, all his heirs, and about fifteen others were to all die suddenly, I could have been the King!" Duke shook his head. "No, I was quite literally a Duke."
"It must have been great." Redpaw said. "Living like royalty, being waited on by servants, did you have a castle too? An abbey at least?"
"It's not like that at all." Duke said. "It's a job, no different than the ones I do now, except you are expected to keep appearances up. I never did like the position. I had a cabinet who would routinely argue and fight with me over every decision that had to be made in my region! I'm convinced they only enjoyed to hear themselves talk. I couldn't even hold a social event without them trying to make it something that it wasn't. I was very unhappy with that position in life, and longed for something simpler." Duke sighed. "So one day, I was watching the seas when I saw a boat anchored off the shore. Very far off the shore, but I could see it. It beckoned me, called to me."
"DOOOOOOOOOOOK!!!!" Butch mocked from his bed. "COOOOOOMMMEEEE to MAAA-RHEEEE-YAAAAA!!!!!"
Duke snorted from his nose. "Well, I commandeered a boat, and with the help of my manservant we rowed out to her."
"I'm not sure this is a good idea." the servant said.
"Nonsense!" Duke Helberts said. "Where's your sense of adventure!"
"I left it on the fireplace to dry. I believe if we turned around we could go get it."
The Duke smiled broadly, his features glowing in the sunset. "I think we'll be fine." They rowed for a long time, seeing the ship as it got closer to them. Eventually, they came abroad to her. "AHOY UP THERE!" the Duke yelled out. A head poked over the side. "Permission to come aboard?"
"State your business!" a gruff voice yelled back.
"I am Duke Helberts!" he yelled up. "This is my manservant Mr. Dobbs. I wish to offer my services!"
"Why?" the voice asked.
Duke Helberts squinted to see the face of the man he spoke to, but could not. "You ship interested me, and we wish to come aboard."
"Let me get the Captain." the voice said. "Stay put."
"Like we're going to walk home?" Mr. Dobbs said. The Duke laughed aloud.
A few minutes later, another head peered over the side. And a woman's voice called out. "You wish to come aboard?"
"Yes!" The Duke said. "Are you the captains wife?"
"No!" The voice called out. "I am the Captain!" The Duke was taken back, but decided not to argue. "If you wish to come aboard, you need to be warned. You may not be able to leave this place."
"Are you chained to the ship?" Mr. Dobbs yelled up.
"In a manner of speaking, yes." the voice said. "This ship is cursed. And all aboard her are cursed as well."
The Duke thought about it for a moment. "And what do you do aboard her?"
"We sail." The woman yelled down. "We explore the seas. We seek new places in uncharted waters."
"Are you sure that's a curse?" the Duke yelled up. "That sounds like an ideal life!" Mr. Dobbs looked to the Duke in a strange way.
"What would a Duke know about sailing?" the voice yelled down.
"Nothing that can't be learned!" The Duke yelled back up. "To be honest, the life you briefly described to me sounds ideal!"
"What of the manservant?" the female voice asked.
Duke Helberts looked to the other man in the boat with him. "My place is at your side." he said. "If you go, I go."
"I would like to go." the Duke said. "I tire of the life I was born to, and this would be a welcome change for me. To be free of politics and bickering." Mr. Dobbs nodded, with a reserved shrug. "He will accompany me."
The Duke and his manservant sat in the water in silence for a few minutes, then a rope ladder was lowered. "Enter freely, and of your own will." the female voice said. "And be ready for something that may shock you." They both eagerly climbed the rope ladder, and stood on the wooden deck for the first time. They looked, and saw a figure before them. "I am Rose, the Captain of the Maria. Welcome aboard." A lantern was brought over, and the two of them got their first look.
She stood tall, her mane flowing in the wind. Her equine features pronounced heavily in her even coat of tan and brown. She twitched an ear. The Duke offered his hand, which she took in her own. "As I said, I am Duke Helberts. And thank you."
"You're not surprised?" Rose asked.
"You said the ship is cursed." the Duke said. "I expected much worse."
"OH you did not say that!" Butch said loudly. "Everyone is surprised when they climb on board this ship!"
"Well, I wasn't." Duke said with a flourish of his paw. "It comes with being royalty! You learn to expect the unexpected, then make friendly relations with it!"
"And who talks like that?" Butch mocked Duke's story. "Oh 'I tire of this life I was born to!'? I've never heard you talk like that as long as you've been on this ship! BAH!" Butch said, rolling onto his back and covering his head with a pillow.
Bullseye and Redpaw were leaning forward, eager to hear the rest of the story. "So? And?"
"Patience!" Duke said with a grin. "So Rose greeted us. She was a fine Captain, and I was sad when she passed. She let us take a tour with her new navigator, to learn the ship."
"And this is the galley." Sharpeye said. "Maria provides all the food we need. We do not know how, and we've never developed scurvy, but the food is quite good."
"I can cook, if you need me." Mr. Dobbs said.
Sharpeye laughed "We can certainly work you in!"
"So tell me." the Duke asked. "Am I going to become an animal like you and the Captain?"
"So far, everyone does." Sharpeye said. "The change can take months, sometimes."
"Sometimes?" Mr. Dobbs asked.
"It can accelerate under some circumstances." Sharpeye said. "But, rest assured, you will become an animal, like us."
"I wonder what I will be?" the Duke asked.
"And as the months passed, the changes began." Duke said. "I chose to let it happen naturally, until I knew what I was becoming."
"Did it hurt?" Redpaw asked.
"Not really." Duke said. "It was quite pleasant, actually. When my tail had completely grown in, I knew I would take the step to complete my change. I released my Manservant from my side so he could pursue his own life aboard the Maria, and I became a member of the crew."
"So who brought you over?" Redpaw asked.
"A crewmember who isn't with us anymore." Duke said. "But I chose him, because I trusted him."
Duke Helberts straddled the bear and was pumping furiously with his hips. The bear licked all around his neck and newly formed muzzle as the dog rode him harder and harder. "Ready?" the bear panted out. The dog nodded, his own shaft exposed fully, the knot swelling beyond his sheath. The bear let out a loud rumbling growl as his body shook, planting the seed deep into the dog. Duke Helberts opened his maw, and let out a whimper, then his whole body tensed up as he had his first canine orgasm into the bear's rich brown fur. The two of them shook and shivered, muscles tensing in the act of mutual orgasm. Duke Helberts could feel his canine whiskers forming as the last of his orgasm sealed his form, completing his change into a full dog.
Duke Helberts collapsed first onto the bear, his own fur becoming soaked in his first feral orgasm as he rubbed his white and black spots across the bear. The dalmatian panted hard, rolling off the bear and coming to rest on the side of the bed. The two of them lay together, stroking each other's fur "That was incredible!" the dalmatian finally said, looking into the eyes of his ursine lover. "Is it always that much fun?"
"Always." Marcus placed his massive paw on the dog's head. "Just wait for your first howl! You'll really enjoy yourself!" The bear snuggled with the new dog. "So are you going to rename yourself?"
"I was thinking of leaving that to the current crew." the dog said. "I sensed I was becoming a dog, so I thought I would ask the Howlers if they would be so kind."
"I think they will." the bear said with a laugh. "But you know you're stuck with what they give you."
"I wouldn't mind that."
"And the rest, as it is said, is history." Duke said. "They named me Duke, after my old title, and I became one of the shipsmen. And I've never regretted it, at all."
Butch rolled over in his bed, and sat on the side of it. "You know what I think?" he rumbled out. "I think you were a nobody on a ship, you got trapped on here, and made that all up knowing that there is no way to prove it." Butch sat on the side of his bed. "In fact, I'll bet you can't produce an ounce of evidence to prove that story. Right now, prove it."
Duke smiled, and looked over to Butch. "I'll take that bet! An evening with your tail in the sling if I can, and you can have a week of my tail in the sling if I can not!"
Butch quickly said "DEAL!" The room got quiet, everyone hearing the terms of the bet. "So? Prove it, your Dukeleeness!"
Duke got up, removing his shirt as he walked over to his footlocker. He placed his fingers under the lip, and opened it. "Now where did I put… that…" The smell of his old life overwhelmed him for a moment, but he reached down into the corner, and pulled out a golden object. "AHH! There it is! I haven't gotten this little thing for many, MANY years, have I?" With a smile, he closed his footlocker, and walked over to Butch. He showed him the ring. "I don't suppose you would recognize this?"
Butch looked at the symbol in the gold, and shook his head. "Anyone here? Know your heraldry?" He smiled as he walked over to Mutt. "Can you tell these fine men what this is?"
Mutt looked it over. He'd been quietly sulking all day after the fight, wanting to be with Kindle instead. Mutt took in a deep breath, and handed the ring back to Duke while explaining. "It's the sealing ring with a crest of the Duke of Evanshire." Mutt said. "You can still see some wax in one of the pits."
"And how would you know that?" Butch asked angrily. "Are you some kind of scholar in kingdoms?"
Mutt sighed to himself. "Someone had to help him row." Mutt said blandly. Mutt laid back down on his sheet on the floor, and rested his head on his arm as the others stared at him in some disbelief.
Butch's jaw fell open as Duke put his old ring onto his finger for a moment. He smiled. "Still fits too!" He then put the ring back into his footlocker. "So, I'll take my winnings now." Duke said, removing his pants and throwing them on top of his hammock. "Don't worry, I know how much you love the sling! I'll take my time!" Butch looked around the room, realizing he was defeated. With much dejection, he followed Duke into the playroom, and closed the door behind him.
Redpaw walked over to Mutt, and knelt next to him. "He really was a duke?" Mutt nodded. "And you were his manservant?" Mutt nodded again. "So it's all true?"
"Most of it." Mutt said. "He did release me from his side, but I told him I wasn't going anywhere."
"But you no longer need to." Duke Helberts said, wagging his new tail. "I'm no longer who I was."
"You are to me." David said. "I followed you on board to remain by your side."
"A fact I appreciate." the Duke said. "But soon, I will be like you are, I will be working full shifts as a ropesman, I will no longer be royalty, or even worthy of your service."
David looked to the sails, then back to the Duke. "In my eyes, ya are." David looked to his own hands, and the rough paw pads forming on the palms. "No matter what, I will always be there for you, servant or not. Hey, it's what I was born to be, right? I am sworn to your side. I don't forget things like that."
The Duke nodded, and put his hand on David's shoulder. "Thank you, my friend."
"So the day after he joined the Howlers, I came down here, and still slept near him." Mutt pointed next to his blanket. "His old bed was here. I just never moved my spot when he did." He sat up, back to the wall. "It's a good thing I did become a dog, so I could stay here."
"So are you still his servant?" Bullseye asked.
"Naw." Mutt said with a grin. "But I still keep an eye on him. Ya see, it's part of the oath I took…" Mutt counted on his fingers, closed one eye, and thought as much as he could. "…well it must have been almost sixty or seventy years now. But I swore an oath to duty, to serve and protect the Duke at all risks, even to my own life. He may think I'm released from it, and I am for the most." He looked to the playroom door with a smile. "But he's still in my protection. He's still my friend, and he's family."
The other Howlers looked at Mutt in a new way, and the silence was interrupted by Redpaw. "So the rest is true?"
"Well… He wasn't that calm when he saw Captain Rose the first
time." Mutt chuckled a little, remembering the moment "I think
his reaction was more of a stammering out something about a horse, then
he fainted. I had to catch him, and apologize to her for the first
impression." Mutt smiled to himself, and winked to Redpaw..
"But don't tell him I said that."
Next Chapter (Day Shift)
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Being a work of fiction, none of the characters herin
are based on a real person. Any similarity to any person alive, dead,
undead or unalive is coincidental, totally. However, if you see yourself
or someone you know in a character be honored. You've been immortalised.