"The Maria"
Book 2
Chapter 6

Sacrifices

By : Socks the Catt
©2003 Socks Furrotica Press
 
"Never free.  Never me.
So I dub the Unforgiven."
 -Metallica
"Unforgiven"


Day 74 :

The fog has broken, but we remain in the water where we drift.  On the horizon we have seen a ship.  Scott has told me that it is the Maria.

We now prepare my plan.  If Scott is right, the woman's presence will not be wasted.  Scott has warned me about the half-hour curse, but I am convinced that is a superstition.  The crew has readied themselves for this moment, and now we look forward to do what we came here to do.  Our plan is to go in the morning.

Once we are ready, we will sail to her side and begin.  I will sail home a rich man.  There is much work to do.

Log Entry, Roger Wallworth, Captain


"The fog is breaking, Captain." Red said on his way past the command cabin.  "And I think I saw a ship to starboard."

"You think?" Yars said, swiveling his ears around.  "Or you know?"

"It appears to not be an illusion." Red said.  "But I want another opinion."

"SHIP!" Belfry called out from the crow's nest.  Yars looked to Red with a slight smirk, and Red shrugged.  The bat pointed to the starboard side, and much of the crew flocked to that side to look.

"I don't see anything." Remmy said.

Silver squinted in the dwindling sunset.  "There." he said, pointing.  The skunk looked as hard as he could, but saw nothing.

"If there's a ship there I'll let you mount me until I can't walk." Remmy said.

"Nice try."  Remmy turned around to see Claude standing behind him, arms folded on his barrel chest.  Remmy bit his lower lip and swore to himself silently.  "If Belfry says it's there, it's there."

Remmy let his tail droop down, but it perked up when he spoke.  "I'll let you do it anyway?" Remmy said with some hope, leaning into Silver.  Silver smiled, and scratched Remmy on the head playfully.

"Status Mr. Belfry?" Yars shouted up to the crows nest.

"She's staying still." Belfry said, his ears twitching.  "And I sense it's still afloat, no danger on her."

Yars looked into the distance.  "No need to rescue her.  Hopefully she'll sail into the night."

"What if she doesn't?"  Red asked.

Yars looked at Red, but knew what he was thinking.  He thought the same thing.  He sighed to himself.  "I need to talk to Ironbar and Sam."

Sam returned from Yars office to the Jackrats den.  "We are to prepare for a raiding party." Sam said.  "Yars is hoping she won't come for us, but if she does we're in for a fight."  Several of the Jackrats grinned wide, and a few looked around unsure of what the morning would bring.

Several of the Howlers were also preparing.  "I'm scared." Kindle said quietly.

"I know." Mutt said.  "I am too.  We all are."

"I don't want anyone to get hurt." Kindle said.  "Not anymore."  Mutt didn't respond, only hugged Kindle gently.

The next morning, Yars stood on the deck.  Belfry standing next to him.  "She turned to us an hour ago." the bat said.  "I'm no navigator, but I think she's coming to us."

"Understood." Yars said.  "You've been relieved?"  Belfry nodded.  "It could be dangerous up here if they board.  I don't want to lose you."

"Oh you're stuck with me." the bat said with a grin.  "If it gets too bad, I can find my way down with my eyes closed."  Yars nodded, rolling his eyes.  "Oh, by the way.  We have company."

"Captain?"  Yars turned around to see Abacus holding a sheet of paper.  "We need to talk."

"Can it wait?  A ship is heading our way and…"

"That's why we need to talk." Abacus said with conviction.  "I've worked through some numbers.  I was going to tell you this before, but the howl, then the whole Kindle incident..."

"And?" Yars asked impatiently.

"We can't take any more crew members." Abacus said.  "Maria is already at the limit now.  We could possibly take one or two more, but not a whole ship.  We lost some crew with the Jezzibelle, but with the Rena and the other rescues we've had to undertake, I'm afraid we're at the limit."

"Are you sure?" Yars said.  "I haven't seen any strain on her."

"Do you know how she makes food?" Abacus asked.  Yars pulled his head back in confusion.  "Neither do I, but her surplus has become less and less.  Go down after breakfast and you'll see, she's at the brink.  And as I have the crew census, were perhaps a dozen from our maximum that Maria can feed."

"Is there an alternative?" Yars asked.

"How well can you fish?" Abacus replied dryly.

Yars looked at Abacus, then the paper.  "I trust you have it well documented then?"  The raccoon nodded.  Yars closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.  "This just got a lot more difficult."

"You're sure?" Ironbar asked.  Yars nodded sadly.  "Allright, I'll tell my men."  Ironbar walked down to the Howler's communal den, and gathered the Howlers together.  His scent made the others nervous, uneasy.  "As you all know, we may be boarded in a matter of hours.  I've jut been told that Maria is near her capacity."  He looked around slowly.  "And that is why Yars ordered us to fight for the ship.  This is for keeps, gentlemen."  The Howlers looked around, knowing what it meant.

"If you're tired of being on this ship, this is your chance." Sam said to the Jackrats.  "We're under orders to fight to the death, theirs or ours.  I know a lot of you are very good with the blade.  I don't want anyone to die today.  The future is in front of us.  Let's live long enough to see it."  The Jackrats nodded.

In the corner a form sat where it was darkest.  He curled himself around a small barrel of rum, almost completely empty.  Silently, he sank back into the darkness, and let it consume him.

Scott stood on the rail, eyeing the Maria for the second time in his life.  He shook his head as Roger approached behind him.  "Good thing we found her." he said.

"No it's not." Scott said.  "We don't need to be here."

"Yes we do!" Roger said.  "I didn't want to have to kill your lovely wife." he said, sounding very casual.  "Nothing personal, just business."

"Business." Scott said.  He looked over the ship, and saw the men guiding the sails up, and others preparing and hiding weapons.  "If you don't mind, I'll remain on board here."

"Suit yourself." Roger said, tapping a fist into Scott's arm.  "Less gold for you then."  Roger walked away with a spring in his step as Scott shook his head.

The Jackrats, Howlers, and many other members of the crew assembled on the deck with all manner of weapons in hand.  "Try to get them off the ship first." Yars commanded.  Many of the crew nodded, and others of the crew were in their own world, preparing for the real fight they longed for.

As the ship pulled along side, they got their first look at their opponent.  No cannons fired, no threatening gestures, both crews eyed each other up.  The Maria's ready to fight, the others looking slightly disturbed at the appearance of the Maria.  "AHOY!" a voice came from the ship.  "AHOY MARIA!"

"You know us?" Yars yelled back.  "What are you here for?"

"Permission to come aboard?" the voice yelled.

"DENIED!" Yars yelled back.  He could now see the man he was yelling to.  A large man, possibly over 40, large build, wearing a gold ring around his finger, and a gold band around his wrist.  "TURN BACK and head for shore!  There's nothing here!"

"I disagree!" the man yelled.  "I've come a long way to see your ship!"  Yars scanned the other ship, and saw a face familiar to him.  In his mind he tried not to wince when he saw Scott again, until Scott's body language betrayed him.  Scott was turned away, not looking to the Maria, not even wanting to look up.  "And I have someone here that would like to speak to the one of you named Yars!"

The tiger tried not to flinch, but much of his crew instinctively looked to him.  "And what would you want with him?" the tiger yelled out.

"I think he would like to meet someone who's come a long way to be reunited." the man said.  He motioned to what was probably the command cabin.  A crew member on the mystery ship came out, holding an older woman's arm gently.  She looked over the crew with some shock, but more curiosity.  "Her name is Jenny.  I went a long way to find her.  It would be a pity if she had to go home without seeing Yars!"

The tiger bit his lip.  "What do you want?"  Ironbar looked at Yars sharply, his scent changed.  Something was very wrong.

"Why don't you send Yars over?" the man said.  "We can discuss it here if we can't come aboard there!"

The tiger turned away, out of eyeshot of the other ship.  He dug his claws into the side of the door, and snarled to himself.  Ironbar stepped next to Yars, who looked up to him.  "Bastard." he said.  "That bastard."

"What?" Ironbar asked quietly.

Yars looked to Ironbar, eyes with fire.  "Jenny is…  was…  my fiancée."

Vermin sat against the wall, his second barrel now completely drained.  He heard the top deck, there was nothing.  No sounds of combat, no sounds of struggle.  But there were murmurs floating through the hallways about what was going on.  Maria's grapevine of information.  Vermin stood up, steadying himself against the wall.  He flexed his fingers, and ripped his clothing to shreds from his own body.  He stood, looking at his own naked form.  He then closed his eyes, everything becoming clear in his mind.  Silently, he walked to where he kept the barrels of rum stashed for himself.

He pushed one stack, then the other, and finally found the last barrel in the main pyramid.  He picked it up, and slammed it into the floor.  The barrel splintered apart, and Vermin looked at the bundle he knew was inside.  He picked up his cape, his shirt, his pants, and held them in his claws, inspecting the materials.  Silently, he got dressed.

He then pried a floorboard loose under where the barrel had been.  He saw what he knew was there, and picked it up.  The rapier still felt comfortable in his claws, so many years later.  Vermin inspected the pistols, and placed them in his belt crossed over his groin.  He held the hat up, and frowned to himself.  With his claws, he made two rips into the sides, and placed it on over his ears.  He stood, alone.  He took in a deep breath, knowing the point of no return had been passed.  Slowly, he sheathed his rapier, and went to storage room two with a wooden cup in his hand.

Almost and hour later, Roger smiled to himself as the tiger came on board.  Everything was going according to plan.  "Welcome aboard, Captain." he said.  The tiger stood straight, eying the crew around him cautiously.  He could smell their fear, the anticipation, the unknown from everywhere around him.  Too many scents.  Yars let his gaze slide past everyone slowly.  "Please, step into my office.  Jenny is looking forward to seeing you again."  Yars nodded, and followed Roger to the command cabin.

The crew of the Maria watched as Yars vanished into the other ship.  "I don't like it." Dice said to nobody in particular.

"He doesn't come back, we'll go get him back."  Dice turned around to see a large Jackrat standing there, shifting his weight back and forth, rubbing his fists in anticipation.  Dice nodded, running his own paw over the sword on his side.

"Bradley?"  The woman stood, looking over the tiger.  "Is that really you?"

"Hello Jenny." Yars said sadly.  Her eyes were still green, as the forests of his youth.  Her hair was gray now, but as long as he remembered it.  She was a little heavier, a little older, but she was still the woman he longed to sail home for.  "I'm sorry I missed your birthday."

She looked over the tiger, and smiled.  "It is you.  You did survive!"  She placed her hands on his face, then held his furry chin in her hands.  "What happened to you?"

"Maria did." Yars said sadly.  He reached up and held her hands in his paws.

"I'll leave you two alone for a while." Roger said.  "Then we can talk business."  The two looked to each other as Roger walked out of the room.  When he closed the door, he nodded to the two men standing on either side of it.

Jenny touched his arms, his paws, his face, in disbelief.  "I was told your ship had been destroyed."

"Almost." Yars said.  "The skeleton crew we had worked miracles after the fight.  We headed for port but never made it.  We were rammed on our way home.  Captain Goetz didn't survive, but most of the rest of the Anne did."

"Are they alive as well?  Still on that ship?" Jenny asked.

"Some, yes."  Yars said.  "Promise me you won't bring their families here, some of them do not want to face their families anymore, looking like we do."

Jenny patted Yars on the arm.  "I still think you're as handsome as when you joined the navy."

Yars chuckled.  "You always loved the uniform."  Yars looked over Jenny with a sad gaze.  "I don't know why you came all this way.  I can't come home.  Not like this."

"That's not why I came." She said.  "I needed to know you were alive."

"If you can call it living." Yars said.  "I've missed you."  He sat down with her, and held her hand in his paw.  They sat in silence for a long moment.  "I need to know something.  Did you marry?"

"Yes." She said.  "A wonderful man.  Not a sailor."  Yars smiled, and laughed to himself.  "He passed a few years ago.  Our children had grown…."

"Children?" Yars asked.

She nodded.  "Four wonderful children." She said.  "They've grown and left to their own families now, and I've been alone for some time now.  When Roger came to me and said you might be alive, I needed to know."

Yars hung his head.  "There was no way to tell you." he said.  "I'm genuinely sorry."

"I know." she said, patting the top of his paw with her hand.  "I know if there was a way, you would have found your way home."

"After the first two years, I lost my will." Yars said.  "And accepted my new life."

"I know how you feel." Jenny said.  "I know my time is soon, my love.  This is my one last adventure in my life."  She held Yars paw in her hand.  "To be reunited with my first love."  Yars smiled, relaxing himself in her warm heart.

Roger looked to his men.  The tiger had some time to the woman now, and he was so close to not taste the coins this Maria held within her.  He looked at the crew of the Maria.  He had the captain, now it was time.  "BOARD!"

The Maria crew drew weapons as they watched the raiding party pull weapons and charge hard at the Maria.  "HERE THEY COME BOYS!" Ironbar yelled.  The war cry from the raiders was loud as the first made the swing.

Yars twitched his ear once, then turned his head suddenly.  "What?"

Jenny sat up.  "I didn't hear…"

"Those fools!"  Yars stood up, and headed for the door.  "They're boarding her!"

Jenny was too stunned to say anything.  In a flash Yars was on his feet, and at the door.  When he opened the door he saw two large men standing by it.  One had a pistol, the other a large dagger.  "Where you goin' fleabag?"

"You think you can stop me?" Yars snarled.

"Oh I won't stop you." the man with the pistol said.  "But if you leave, she dies."  They pointed weapons at Jenny.

Yars looked to Jenny, who's face turned to that of horror.  He saw her, sensed the fear in her, and smiled a feral grin.  The feeling was coming back, a feeling that scared him and invigorated him.  The predator within.  He turned back to the men guarding the door.  "Well, if that's the way it's going to be then."  He stood up straight, brushed off his coat, in in a flash grabbed the barrel of the outstretched pistol.

The guard tried to pull the trigger, but when he did there was no resistance.  Yars wrenched the gun away and threw it into the room.  With a snarl Yars pounced onto the now disarmed guard and surrendered to the beast within.  His jaws clenched between the man's shoulder and neck.  The guard screamed in pain.  The taste of blood fed the beast, and Yars clenched down and ripped flesh from his victim.

The other guard had stepped forward to stab Yars.  As he brought the blade back, a shot exploded through the cabin, and the dagger fell to the floor followed by it's wielder.  Yars barely noticed as he raked with his hind claws, opening up the man's leg.  The guard tired to fight, punching Yars as hard as he could.  Yars attack was vicious, unrelenting, animalistic, and the guard soon fell unconscious and bleeding.

Yars sensed the prey was dead, and sat up on his hands an knees fighting the beast in his mind.  He turned to see Jenny, still holding the pistol in her shaking hands.  She pointed it at Yars, her face painted with torn emotions.  Yars shook his head, blood from his fur splattering the hallway.  He looked at Jenny, and his mind settled enough to make out what he had just done.  He wiped the blood from his muzzle onto his coat sleeve, and held up a paw-like hand.  "I yield." he said, a slight shake in his voice.  Jenny slowly lowered the weapon.  He looked to her, still blinking hard and fighting the last urges of the beast within.  "Where did you learn to shoot a gun?" Yars asked.

Jenny dropped the pistol.  "I told you I didn't marry a sailor." she said between deep breaths.  "I married a man who became a brigadier general."

On the deck of the Maria full warfare had opened up.  "OFF THE SIDE!" Ironbar yelled, but it did little good.  Blood sprayed from many as swords slashed through the air.  Ironbar grabbed a raider from behind, and punched him in the kidney.  In a fluid motion, Ironbar twisted his body and threw the man off the boat and into the water.  He turned back to look at the Jackrat, who nodded once, and turned to face another opponent.

Mutt dodged through the melee and grabbed Bullseye by the arm.  The terrier was down, and bleeding badly.  He pulled the dog as far as he could, then he saw man fall do his side.  Mutt turned around to see a Jackrat, blood on his blade, standing over the downed raider.  "Get him out of here!" the rat yelled over the noise.  "I'll clear a path!"  The rat pushed another raider out of the way, and headed forward to where Mutt was going.  Mutt didn't ask twice, and dragged Bullseye to a doorway to get him out of the fight.

Scott turned the corner to see two dead in the hallway near the captain's office.  He cautiously went to the doorway, and saw Yars holding Jenny to him, in a caring embrace.  "Captain?" Scott said cautiously.  The tiger never looked up.  "Captain?"

"What?" Yars said forcefully.

"They've raided your ship." Scott said, a sense of urgency in his voice.

"Don't you think I know that?" Yars said sternly.  "I'm not leaving Jenny alone."

"I'll watch her, Captain." Scott said.  "I promise."

"You promised not to find us again." Yars said.  "How can I believe you?"

"It wasn't a choice I made." Scott said.  "Roger said he would kill my family if I didn't tell him how to find you."  Scott took in a deep breath.  "I'm sorry Captain."

"So am I."  Yars held Jenny in his arms, and looked at her.  "I have to go back."

"Can't you stay here?" she asked.  "At least a little while longer?"

"She's my ship." Yars said.  "She's my responsibility.  My crew needs me there."  He closed his eyes, and opened them slowly.  "When this is all over, I will come back, and we'll have time.  That, I will promise you."

Jenny smiled.  "You haven't changed.  My Captain Yars."  She patted his cheek.  "Go.  My love.  Don't make me find you again."

"I love you." Yars said.  "And that has never changed."  Jenny looked at him in a strange manner, then kissed him on the cheek.  He kissed her on the cheek as well, and stepped back.  Jenny nodded, and motioned for Yars to go.  Yars looked to Scott.  "What's the fastest way up to the deck?"

"Follow me." Scott said. "We'll have to dodge a few guards, but they're waiting in reserve to attack in about ten minutes."

Yars nodded.  "Let's go."

Dice and Claude stood next to each other, guarding the doorway to where the wounded had been dragged to.  Claude was fighting with one raider, grappling with him.  Dice had been trying to ignore the large wound he had sustained earlier while fighting.  He was blocking blows when the stick he held snapped.  Almost without thinking, he threw the broken end at the raider.  The raider blocked it, and Dice jumped with a growl.  His fist slammed through the man's face, and the man's body went limp.

Claude raised his hoof, and slammed it onto the raider's foot.  The raider screamed in agony as Claude picked him up, and charged to the side of Maria.  The raw strength of the horse sent the raider flying over the rail as Claude slammed into the invisible barrier full force.  Claude rotated his right shoulder, feeling it swelling a little from the bruise, before stepping back to his post.

Vermin stepped out from a doorway, and looked over the fight.  Most of the crew were either dead or holding their own, and the raiders seemed to be doing the same.  Vermin reached to his belt with his left hand, and patted at it.  He smiled, it was still there.  Vermin drank the last from his cup, threw it onto the ground, and strode into the fight with purpose.  Immediately he was attacked by a raider.  Almost nonchalantly Vermin grabbed the man by the throat, and dug his claws into the side.  The raider tried to fight, and Vermin squeezed his throat harder.  The raider stopped resisting.

The rat pulled the raider close so he was nose to nose with him.  "Who is in charge?" Vermin said, his voice dripping with confidence.  The man didn't answer, but his eyes darted to a side of the ship.  Vermin looked, and saw a man who stood out with his gold bracelets.  "Good boy." Vermin said to the raider he was holding by the throat.  He turned his claws inward, and in one motion dug through the man's windpipe.  The raider never screamed.  Vermin dropped his body, and wiped the blood from his claws on the man's shirt.  Vermin pulled out his rapier.

Vermin walked across the ship's deck.  As he walked, he attacked raiders in his path.  Without emotion he shot one point blank in the back of the head before returning the pistol to it's place in his belt.  Another he slashed across the ankles hobbling the man.  Another  raider was grappling with Leoghann.  Vermin pulled a dagger from the Raider's belt, and stabbed him in the back with such force the blade penetrated through the raider's chest.  It didn't matter if they were already fighting a Howler, a Jackrat, a wolf, a bull…  The raider was in his way.  Vermin's focus never wavered.  He was eyeing Roger.

Roger saw two dogs trying to rescue a Great Dane.  He knew this was the one giving the orders earlier.  He knew his reserve attackers would be coming soon, so now was his chance.

Mutt and Kindle knelt over Ironbar.  "I'm fine!" Ironbar complained, trying to get back to his feet.

"No you're not!" Mutt said, wiping a little blood from his muzzle before attending to Ironbar.  Kindle ripped a strip from his shirt and began to wrap it around Ironbar's forearm to try to stop the bleeding.  Kindle was bleeding as well, but not as bad as Ironbar.  Mutt grasped Ironbar's forearm while Kindle tied the strips to it.  "Just give me a minute to do this and…"

"THE GOLD!"  All three looked up to see a man holding a pistol in front of them.  "I came for the gold!  Now where is it?"  The three dogs looked up to him, more in shock more than any other emotion.  "You have three seconds to take me to it or you will die!"  The dogs looked at each other, but did not move.  "Three."  nothing.  "Two."

From behind a rapier poked between Roger's arm and chest.  The pistol was caught on the tip, and with a flourish Roger suddenly found himself disarmed.  "One." Vermin said, oozing of confidence.  Roger turned around and looked directly at a rat.  He wore a black cape with red trim.  His hat had a red trim in the front, that came up like horns.  His black pants had a red stripe running down the side as well.  In his hand he held a rapier with a metalwork skull on the pommel.  Both pistols crossed in his belt and the red bands around his wrists completed the outfit.  "Why don't you ask the Captain where it is?"

Vermin heard something behind him, and spun on reflex.  He drove the rapier through a man's chest in a clean move.  The man looked at the rat, his eyes wide.  "Carmesí Diablo" the raider stammered as he began to fight for breath.

"It's so nice to be recognized." Vermin said.  He smiled a sadistic grin, and spoke loud enough for all to hear.  "When you get to hell, tell them I'm coming to take over."  Vermin flashed with the claws on his left hand, and struck through the throat of the man.  Vermin pulled the rapier back as the body fell to the deck.  He turned around to face Roger.  "Now where was I?  Oh yes.  You wanted my gold, didn't you?"

"Carmesí Diablo?" Roger stammered.  "You're a myth.  You don't exist!  You're an old seaman's tale!"

"In the flesh." Vermin said, taking a half bow, his eyes never leaving Roger's.  "You do know that I sodomise all trespassers to my ship and make them my rats."  Vermin looked at the man, as he had his mouth open in horror.  He knew he hit something he could use.  "I quite enjoy it, and you look like you've got a tight little ass.  I'll have fun making you one of my crew members."

"You're not the captain!" Roger yelled.  "Yars is!  I have Yars!"

"You have a fop!" Vermin said in disgust.  "You make me sick with your stupidity.  You come all this way to be duped by a tiger who thinks he runs my ship!"  He looked quickly at Ironbar, who was wincing too much in pain to say anything.  Kindle and Mutt were using the opportunity to bandage up Ironbar.    Vermin stood up straight, and taunted Roger.  "I will make this fair.  If you want my gold?  All you need to do is defeat me."  Vermin stood back a pace.  "And you'll get all the gold you can stand.  Lose, and I'll fuck you where you drop and make you one of my rats."  Vermin stood in his stance, awaiting a reply.

Roger looked at Carmesí Diablo.  A smile crept across his face, as he'd finally get what he was after.  Maria's old coins and gold.  He pulled his sword.  "I'm the best swordsman in England." he said, reassuring himself.

"That's because I killed the rest." Vermin said with a sneer.  His left hand still coated in blood he waved at Roger, taunting him to come.  And Roger obliged.

Yars knelt with Scott as they looked at four men who had weapons in their hand.  "They're the ones who will board the ship next." Scott said.  "Most of the crew runs the ship, Roger brought these men aboard to get Maria's gold.  The best weapons men he could buy."

Yars nodded.  "What are they waiting for?"

"Roger's order." Scott said.  "This is the reserve force."

Yars looked around the deck.  "All right, here's what I want you to do."

A few moments later, Scott ran onto the deck.  "The tiger's escaped!" he said in full panic.

"WHAT?" the men turned around.  "I told you they were incompetent!  Where is it?"

"I don't know!" Scott said, "he's somewhere in the command area, I think he's going to turn the ship away!"

The men turned and ran into the command area that Scott had just come out of.  Scott watched as Yars dropped from the ceiling, and closed the door behind him.  He heard two gunshots, and a few groans, an inhuman growl then cries of pain.  But after a minute, Yars opened the door.  He was bleeding from a shoulder wound and a leg slash, and had blood covering his coat, claws and muzzle.

"You're hurt!" Scott said.

"Your grasp of the obvious is impeccable." Yars said, looking at the Maria.  "Once I get off this ship, You need to cut the ropes tying her to the Maria.  If you can, bear away.  Stay in sight, but do not be within a hundred feet of her.  Can you do that?"  Scott nodded.  "Good.  If all works out well, we'll signal when it's safe to come back.  But do not let Jenny on that ship, do not let anyone else on that ship."  Yars forcefully barked out.  Scott gulped, and nodded.  "You have your orders." Yars forced out.  Scott went to the bow and began releasing the Maria.  Yars made his way to the side of the ship.  He dove overboard, into the water below.

Vermin laughed as he knocked Roger down again.  "You are pathetic!" he taunted.  "You're weak!  Did you REALLY think you were good enough to take my gold?"  Vermin tapped the ground with the tip of his rapier three times.  "You'll have to do better than that!  Or perhaps the idea of being my newest sexual toy interests you!"

"You SICK PERVERTED…" Roger got up, and put all his energy into swinging his sword at Vermin.  Vermin side-stepped the swing, and stepped behind Roger back to belly.  In a taunting manner, he grabbed Roger's belt, and rubbed his groin into Roger's backside in several quick sexual thrusting motions.

"OH YES!!!!!"  Vermin screamed in mock sexual ecstasy with every thrust.  "AHH! AAH!!!  OOOOO YEAAASSSSSSS!!"  Vermin hissed as he held his groin into Roger's hips.  "You feel that rat boy?  My other sheathed weapon of pleasure?  Well you will soon enough!" Vermin sneered.  Roger struck Vermin with an elbow in the ribs.  The blow winded Vermin, and Roger managed to get out of his grasp.  The two faced each other again.  Vermin stood in his stance, smiling.  "You've got spunk!  You'll make a good crewman once I've made you a jackrat!  Ever been fucked before rat boy?"  Roger never answered, but attacked instead.

Yars climbed up the side of Maria, and over the railing.  His fur still dripping of saltwater, he looked around at the carnage.  Bodies littered the top deck like leaves on a fall day.  A few raiders were left on board.  He saw Dice and Claude guarding a doorway, and they saw him as well.  Dice looked hurt, blood streaking down from several wounds, red contrasting his white fur.  Yars removed his coat and threw it to the deck as he moved to the doorway.  He picked a dagger up from a fallen crewmember.  "Status?"

"Over two dozen wounded." Dice said, scanning for raiders on the deck.  "Robert is working with Doc to do all we can, but we're stalling for time.  It's almost half the hour."  Yars nodded.  "Kyle spun the hourglasses once they came on board, but he hasn't signaled to us."

Yars looked to the remaining raiders.  "We need to get them off Maria." he said.  "Do you think you can hold the door?"

"I can." Claude said.

"Dice, get in there." Yars said.  "Don't make me order you to.  At least get them to stop the bleeding."

"I'm fine Captain." Dice said stubbornly.  "Only need to last another ten minutes.  I'm more worried about Red.  He's already in there and he looks worse than I do."

"I understand.  As you were then."  Yars looked up to the command cabin, and saw Kyle there.  Kyle signaled his hands up in the air, and Yars knew what that meant.  He turned to see the last dozen raiders on his ship.  "GET THEM OFF THE BOAT!" he yelled.  The crew members saw Yars, and they rallied together.  A few more were thrown off the side, and tried to make the hard swim back to their boat.  Most couldn't make it.

Roger and Vermin locked swords together.  Roger put a foot behind Vermin, and Vermin fell onto his tail hard.  Roger stood in front of Vermin.  "Yield!"

Vermin looked up, and swatted the sword out of Roger's hand with his rapier.  "Silly boy!" He scolded.  "Carmesí Diablo NEVER yields!"  Vermin scrambled to his feet as Roger scrambled for his sword.  The two were in a ready position at the same time, slowly circling for a better attack.  "You're so noble with your yielding!  All the better when I break you.  I will really enjoy bending you over and fucking you into my crew.  I've got shackles with your name on them.  They say rat boy!"  Vermin was smiling even broader with every sentence.  "I'll make your ass yield, noble little rat boy!"

"SHUT UP!" Roger said.  He feigned left, and struck right.  The blow drew some blood from Vermin, who looked down but back up.

"Not bad!" he said.  "You'll have to do better!"  Vermin moved his wrist quickly and slashed across Roger's chest drawing a line of blood across his torn shirt.  Roger's eyes flared over in hate He charged Vermin hard, and tackled him to the ground.  The two of them rolled until they near where Ironbar was regaining his feet under him.  Kindle looked up to see them fighting each other with all they had, but was still trying to help Ironbar stand..

Vermin punched Roger hard in the face.  Roger was stunned momentarily and fell to the deck.  Vermin stood back up.  His left hand reached for something on his belt, which he removed and he held it tight.  Roger put his hands to his sides to sit up as Vermin positioned himself.  "THIS ENDS NOW!" Vermin yelled, winding back for a lunge.  Under Roger's hand he felt a wooden bulb handle.  As Vermin lunged, Roger grabbed his pistol, pointed it at Vermin and pulled the trigger.  The flint sparked, and the flash exploded into Vermin's chest.

The force of the shot caused Vermin to knock back in shock.  He looked down to his chest, the blood barely noticeable on his black shirt.  The pain never registered as his body crumpled to the deck.  He held himself up, on his hands and knees.  He looked at the wooden deck of the Maria, and saw blood drip from his shirt.  "Not the last…" he forced form his mouth.  "Not the last thing…"  Vermin spit blood, and forced himself to move.

With the last of his strength, Vermin rolled onto his back with his arms spread apart from his body, and looked up to see blue skies.  His lungs starting to burn, he mouthed words as he fought for breath.  As his breathing got more labored, and faster, he whispered "I will fear…  no evil…  no evil…"  he coughed once.  "you are with me..."  He clenched his left hand as the last breath escaped him, his eyes open to the heavens.

Roger stood up, and looked at the rat in slight disbelief.  He got Carmesí Diablo.  He killed the legend.  And now, he would earn the reward.  "Now where's my gold!" he demanded of Kindle.

"Get him over the rail!"  Yars was charging at Roger, dagger still in hand.  Roger pointed the pistol at him, but he had fired the only charge in it.  Yars slammed into Roger at full force, and pushed him back to the railing.  Both slammed into an invisible wall.  Yars was ready for it, Roger was not.  Roger slumped to the deck, his head spinning after being crushed into something he could not see.

Yars staggered to his feet, and looked around him for the first real time since the whole ordeal began.  Many on the deck laying motionless, many were his crew.  Some crew members were trying to look over the side as much as they could, howlers and jackrats laughing about the man they just threw over.  There were only a few humans on the deck without fur, and none on the deck without marks of combat.  Yars knelt down to Roger.  "Welcome aboard the Maria." he said sternly.  "I hope you become a cat.  And if you do, I hope you have golden eyes.  So every time you see yourself, you'll be reminded of why you're cursed on this ship."

He looked in the distance, and saw the other ship had turned away, hundreds of feet away, but still in sight.  Yars nodded, Scott kept his word.

Kindle knelt next to Vermin, placing his fingers over Vermin's muzzle to feel for breath.  He felt none.  The rapier fell to Vermin's side, both pistols still in his belt, his eyes still fixed to the sky.  Kindle closed Vermin's eyelids slowly.  He then looked into Vermin's left hand.  There, covered in blood, he found Vermin had clutched a gold necklace with a cross.



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Curator: Socks the Catt / E-mail: <sockscatt@gmail.com>
DISCLAIMER : All stories in this archive are Copyright 2000 - 2003 Socks Furrotica Press. Distribution is permitted in electronic format, as long as 1) the entire text (including this disclaimer) remains intact and 2) My e-mail address remains on the work (sockscatt@gmail.com) Permission is also given to print this text out for personal use. If you wish to include this story in a web site or for publication, e-mail myself (sockscatt@gmail.com) and we'll talk it over...
This is (unfortunately) a work of fiction. It depicts sex. Lots of quite graphic sex between several genders and arguably a few species. Af any of this offends you, or anything vaguely pornographic bothers you, don't read this, and don't send me your nasty e-mail (I may enjoy it, you know...)

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.