-Blue Man Group
"What Is Rock"
Our lookout has spotted a sign from the Maria. We are preparing to come along side her again. Once we have done this, we will turn the ship for home.
I do long for home, and I certainly hope that once we get there we can resume our normal lives. I've decided that this will be the last time I venture out to the sea in this way. I have gotten lucky three times in my life. And I know that even cats have their limits.
Jenny is in high spirits as well, I sense a feeling from her of relief that it's over, and that we are all doing well. The crew seems happier as well, with Captain Wallworth off the ship. As much as I hate to say it, I have a feeling that I am not the only one who was a hostage aboard this ship.
I am needed to turn the ship to bear to Maria. I will fill the log in as I can.
We have signaled to the raiders ship that it is safe to return. The raiders are still in the brig as of now, we will release them once they understand the fate they've bought upon themselves.
Scott has begun to bring the ship back. On one hand I am looking forward to speaking with Jenny after so many years. On the other, I know we must part again. Maria has agreed to let a few of us onto the former raider's ship, to help them sail home. My team will include myself, Ironbar, Sharpeye, Silver, Rev, Doc, and a few Howlers and Jackrats to make sure their ship is still seaworthy. Maria has also agreed to help us give provisions and pay to the crew aboard what is now a merchant ship. I hope it will make up for the losses they've incurred.
I am not looking forward to letting Jenny go again. It seems that she has grown into a strong woman. I can only envy the man she married. I have also asked Rev if we could have a conversation once their ship is on it's way home. I have a feeling I will need to get things off my chest. That being said, I need to go down to Maria's cabin, and ask of her a special favor.
We board over in the hour. It's time to face the past.
"You're nervous." Ironbar said to Yars.
"Very." Yars said, trying not to twitch his tail. "I was not ready for her to find me out here."
Ironbar nodded, putting his paw onto Yar's shoulder. "You don't want to tell her about us, do you?"
Yars half closed his eyes, and took in a slow breath. "I'm not sure if I can explain it to her in a way she would understand." Yars turned to look at Ironbar. "I'm not ashamed…"
"You are." Ironbar said. "I would be too if Rachel found me out here."
Yars closed his eyes. "I'm sorry."
"Nothing to be sorry about." Ironbar said, putting his hand on Yars arm. "Since after Rev's ceremony I've been thinking about it myself. And the more I thought of it, the more I thought it would be hard for you."
Yars let out a slight chuffing laugh. "You know me too well."
Ironbar smiled. "But I suppose that a 'hello, I'm captain of a ship and I have wonderful sex with a great dane on a mostly nightly basis' would be an interesting icebreaker now, wouldn't it?" Yars smiled and shook his head. "Ahh! A smile! I've cracked through the legendary Captain's Armor!" Yars turned to look at the Raider's ship, sailing along side.
Kindle stood aft, holding a rope to throw over. Many jackrats had ropes at the ready, and the gangplank was readied. "AHOY MARIA!" Yars noded to see Scott standing on the rails. "PERMISSION TO SAIL ASIDE!"
"GRANTED!" Yars yelled out. "Permission to board?"
"Granted!" Scott yelled. Ropes were thrown, the planks crossed, and carefully, the boarding party left the Maria.
Roger Wallworth looked out the window of his cell at the boat he owned. He reached out the window at it, but an unseen force stopped him. He balled his hand and punched it, reeling back quickly holding his fist. "SON-OVA-BITCH!" he screamed, looking at his hand.
"It didn't work before." said Ron. "Why would it work now?"
"Shut up!" Roger said. "If you fought better we could have gotten the gold and been off this boat!"
"Or been dead." Ron said. "Look at us, all of us. The ones not killed went over the side and became shark bait or fish food." Ron paced the cell again. "Face it, we're alive, and the others are not. And if what the dogs are right, we're going to become animals like them."
"BAH!" Roger said. "They're trying to get information out of us! Don't listen to them."
"Oh, and listen to you?" Ron scoffed. "Look how far that got us? Trapped on a boat where buggery is the common way to say hello?"
Roger ignored him, and looked out the window.
"You're sure we're here?" Scott asked the fox.
"Positive." Sharpeye said. "Maria has a way to navigate that I don't understand, but she's accurate to a foot."
"How is that possible?" Scott asked, looking at Silver. He only shrugged. "Well, if that's what she says, I'll believe it. So that would make this the best route home." Scott pointed with his finger a common trade route west, near the coasts.
"Yes." Silver said. "But here there are pirates. It's where the Jezzibelle used to stalk. Do you have the manpower to avoid that?"
"I believe we can." Scott said. "And thank you."
"Thank you, Reverend." a crewmember shook the rabbits hand. "I still don't believe what I'm seeing, but I'm thankful you're here."
"It's my calling." Rev said with a smile. "I'm only sorry that I can't do more to mend broken spirits here." He looked around the makeshift chapel. "I must return to the Maria today, or I would stay to help more if I could."
"She is a cursed ship, isn't she?" the man asked.
"I wouldn't say she's cursed." Rev said. "Not as much as she's… protective." The man pulled his head back slightly. "Maria wants to protect her crew from themselves. Her way to do that is sometimes a little overprotective."
"I do not envy your place." the man said. "But right now, I'm thankful you're here." Rev just nodded.
Jennifer and Yars were holding hands in the captains room. The blood had been cleaned out, the bodies removed, and very little trace of combat remained. They had been talking for hours, about their lives, about their worlds. She looked into the tiger's eyes. "How did you become the captain?" she asked.
"We hold an election every few years." Yars said. "Rose had passed, and we held an emergency election. I was voted in because I was neither Jackrat or Howler, and therefore was deemed neutral by all parties."
"You mean not a dog and not a rat?" Jenny asked. Yars nodded. "And you've been captain since?"
"I run a tight ship, but not too tight." Yars said. "I've learned a lot from Captain Goetz. I'm only sad to know he isn't around to not see it." They sat quietly a moment. "Come with me."
"What?" Jenny asked.
"Come with me. Back to the Maria. I don't ask anyone to come on board because of the curse but I know we can be there, together. I don't want to leave you behind again." Yars eyes were softer, dropping the persona of captain and speaking purely from his heart.
Jenny smiled, patting Yars on the paw. "My love, my beloved." She stood up, and walked around the room. "You heart is still pure, but I know that your life on the Maria is different than the life I live. I was content to be a sailor's wife, not a sailor. I know why you offer, but I have already lived a full life. I told you my time was soon, and I meant it. I understand you have a life on board the living ship, and in a way you've gotten all you've ever wanted."
Yars felt his heart crumple as he sat in his chair. He looked down in shame. "There are some things you don't know about my life aboard the Maria." Jenny looked at Yars with an interested look. "Maria has a way of changing men. Not only on the outside, but on the inside."
Jenny sat down next to Yars again. "Changed how?"
Yars closed his eyes. "I love you, Jenny. I always have, and I always will. But after being trapped on Maria I… I allowed myself to love another." Yars looked at the table. "I did not want to tell you for fear of hurting you. But after so many years, I felt alone."
Jenny reached over to hold Yars paw again. "I understand." she said. "I married, but I still loved you." Yars looked up at Jenny, a tear in his eye. "Life must go on, and I felt that we would never reunite. I had to continue my life, just as you had to continue yours." Yars nodded. "So who is she?"
Yars closed his eyes again, looking away from Jenny. "That's the other complicated part."
Mutt dropped the last bag onto the deck. "Now yer sure I can't take it down for ya?"
"We've got it." the man said. "Not that we don't trust you."
"Sokay." Mutt said with a goofy smile. "I wouldn't trust me neither 'till I got to know me."
The man grinned as he took the bag of dried food down below. Mutt was about to go back to the Maria when someone tugged his tail. Mutt held back his yelp and turned to see a younger man sitting against a wall, looking at his tail. "It's real?"
"Yep." Mutt said. "Why?"
"You remind me of Whisper." Mutt knelt down next to the young man an looked him over. "You remind me of my old dog."
"Is that good 'er bad?" Mutt asked.
"I liked him. He was killed protecting me in an alley long time ago." The young man looked at Mutt, and put his hand out. Mutt rubbed his head into the hand, and the young man scratched him behind the ears almost out of pure reflex. "I'm Joel."
"Mutt." Joel looked at him funny. "We have a tradition to rename ourselves when we change. And since I was a mutt, I got called Mutt. Kinda stuck."
Joel ran his hands over Mutt's ears gently. "Is it really a curse? Being on that ship?"
"Well, sometimes." Mutt smiled to himself. "I mean it's fun and all, we get to sail to placs I never thought I would ever go. But it can bring out the worse in 'ya. We get some that kinda become bad apples. And it's not like 'ya can throw 'em overboard. Maria's like that. We can't leave, and we gotta deal with the ones we get."
Joel nodded, petting Mutt absent-mindedly. "Did it hurt? When you changed?"
"Naw." Mutt said. "It was really nice. Me and Duke changed over slow, and when we knew what we were becoming, we finished the change fast. Him with someone else and me with a white fox who's no longer with us on the ship. It was a fun night." Mutt laid down, and adjusted his head position so it was in the right spot for Joel to scratch. Mutt's left foot twitched a little.
Joel laughed. "You've got a tickle spot!" Mutt nodded, letting himself get lost in the pleasure of th moment. "Can I come aboard?"
"I don't know." Mutt said. "It's not like a weekend cruise. If you're in, you're in. There's no backing out."
Joel nodded. "I know what I'm asking. I talked to Scott about it." Joel stopped his scratching. "I'm an orphan. I have nothing to go back to. I go back and I'll be in debtors prison within the month. Since Wallworth can't pay us, and I have no money…" Joel let it drift off, resting his hand on Mutt's head gently. "I just know that my share of the money on board can go to help someone else." Joel hung his head as Mutt looked up at him. "And I think I'm attracted to you."
Mutt's ears twitched. "You didn't go on her before, didja?" Joel shook his head. "Or… What?"
Joel looked to both sides cautiously. "I have… an attraction for men. It's what really attracted me to this job. If I could be surrounded by them always, I'd be happiest. Scott told me that the Maria crew are tight knit, and that there's this thing called a howl?" Joes scratched Mutt on the head again. "And you do remind me of Whisper. And I think I could live with that."
Mutt thought about it for a moment. "Can I talk to the Captain 'bout it?"
Joel nodded. "Just know that I might stowaway on the Maria if he says no." Joel stopped his petting entirely. "I feel a draw to her. I just think I would live a happier life aboard a ship of men. Scott told me stories about the sex, the rum, the food, and the men working together. I'd like that more than my life here, now."
Mutt nodded, and stood back up. He could smell Joel's scent, he was extremely aroused, and wanting what he asked for. "I'll ask Captain Yars." Joel nodded, and smiled.
Ironbar knocked on the captains door. "Yes?" Yars said.
Ironbar walked in. "We're ready to go Captain."
Yars stood up. "Frank, this is Jenny. Jenny, this is Frank. Also known as Ironbar. He's the leader of the Howlers." Jenny offered a hand, and Ironbar kissed it gently. "He's also my mate."
Ironbar looked at Yars with his jaw open wide. Jenny bowed her head respectfully. "Yars told me a some about you. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"Likewise…" Ironbar said. "The pleasure is… mine, I guess." He looked to Yars. "So my formal report can to out the window, can't it?"
"Unless you want to be formal." Yars said.
"Right." Ironbar said with a smirk. "We're ready to disembark, the crew has provisions to make it home safely. We had a few things we would like to do for the crew, however, with your approval." Yars nodded. "Since Wallworth can no longer pay the crew, we gave them some of the money from the Maria's storerooms to compensate for their time."
Yars nodded. "Approved, full heartedly. Make sure Abacus gets a hold of it first to make a final count. What else needs to be done?"
"We've had a few requests." Ironbar said. "A few of the crew wish to embark the Maria."
Yars looked to Jenny, who had a questioning look to her as well. "Why?"
"Some want to." Ironbar said. "Some have nothing to go back to."
"How many are we talking about?" Yars asked.
"Ten, at the most." Ironbar said. "I believe there would still be enough crew to get home without a problem."
Yars thought a moment, scratching his muzzle with a claw. "I realize I can't stop them all. I don't like it, but tell them they have permission to come aboard. But ONLY if you tell them the rules before they embark. I do not want anyone being sold a bill of goods."
Ironbar nodded. "Consider it done. I'll leave you with Jenny. A pleasure meeting you."
Jenny stepped next to Ironbar, and put her lips next to his ear. "Take care of him for me." she whispered. Ironbar smiled, and nodded back to her before leaving.
"Do you make every man you meet better?" Yars asked with a hint of a smile.
"Only the ones that matter." Jenny said quickly. "My Captain."
"My love." Yars said. "Last chance, you can still come aboard. We can be together."
Jenny smiled. "What do you think I would become?" she asked. "You became a tiger, fierce and protective and strong!" She leaned into him, hugging him close. "Would I become a rat or a dog? Or do you think I would become a graceful cat? " Yars raised his eyebrows and smiled. "Or perhaps a fierce wolf, protecting my Yars cub?" Yars let out a laugh. "Or I know! I would become one of the giraffes you see at the zoo! I could replace your lookout by standing on the deck and becoming the crows nest!"
Yars let out a loud laugh. "I wouldn't know!" he said. "Whatever you became, you would be beautiful."
Jenny shook her head. "No, no more adventures for me." she said, kissing Yars on the cheek ruff. "My life has been full. I've seen my share of the world, and I can go a happy woman now that I know you're still alive. As long as you live, I live in your heart."
"Forever, and always." Yars said, holding Jenny close to him.
They held each other for a long moment. Jenny finally kissed Yars on the muzzle. "Your duty calls, my beloved." Yars nodded sadly. "Don't let the position ruin a good man." Yars nodded. "When you get to heaven, I'll wait for you. I'll introduce you to the man I love, and married."
Yars nodded, looking over Jenny. "I'd like to meet him, but if I have anything to say about it, you might be waiting a while."
Jenny laughed. "Don't worry. I won't be in a hurry to get there myself." They kissed one more time, slowly pulling away from each other. Jenny brushed Yars coat a few times, and smiled. "Sail safely my love."
"Godspeed, my love." Yars said, stepping back, at military attention. Jenny smiled, looking aver Yars the same way she had when he performed this same maneuver at the Academy. He pivoted on his foot, spun around in place, and walked away. He stopped at the door, and looked behind him. Jenny smiled to him, and he walked out the door.
Mutt helped Joel grab his things from the crew compartment. "This is all ya got?"
Joel nodded. "All I ever needed I carried."
"Now you know how Maria is, right?" Mutt asked.
"Yes. The fifth time yes!" Joel said. "You're not going to talk me out of it!"
"Allright!" Mutt said defensively. "Captain Yars made it clear that we had to make sure you all know the rules."
Joel nodded. "So do you do the changing, or is that left to the leader?"
Mutt felt the blood drain from his head. "Skuse me?"
"Well, Scott said there was a lot of changing due to sex, and I know there's no women aboard." Joel said. "So I wanted to know. Do you do it as the one helping me move over or is there someone who does it for you all?"
Mutt grinned. "You'll fit right in." He picked up Joe's belongings. "I can do it, but I'm a little rough."
"We’ll talk tonight about it, on the Maria." Joes said with a very wide grin. Mutt could smell his arousal grow sharper, and he tried to keep his own in check.
Captain Yars approached Scott before he left ths ship. "I would recommend you delete the log entries of finding the Maria." he said sternly. "I don't want to see you again and again."
"Understood Captain." Scott said. "But how? Captain Wallworth has already written the logs."
"Retrieve your log book." Yars said. Scott looked up to him, with a slight gulp, but left. Moments later, he returned with a paper book. Yars thumbed through it, and nodded to himself as he read the last few pages. "Silver?"
"Captain?" The gray fox stopped before going onto the gangplank.
"Take this book, and ask Maria to copy it. Except to remove…. The last seven entries." Yars said.
"Aye Captain!" Silver carefully made his way across the plank. A few minutes later he crossed one more time. "Here Captain." He handed two books to the tiger.
Yars looked at the books, and nodded to himself. "Very nice." He handed the modified book to Scott. "Here you are, Captain."
"Cap… captain?" Scott stammered out.
"You put in the log entries." Yars said. "That makes you the captain in my opinion. I would recommend that you alter the log entries to reflect how Captain Wallworth came down with a fever, and passed away. It would easily explain his stories of animal men and hunting the seas for a ghost ship, don't you think?" Scott nodded, looking in the book. "While I'm at it, please make sure Jenny receives this book. She'll know what it's for." Yars handed Scott another book, also bound in the same way as the ship's log.
Yars looked over Scott's shoulder, and saw Jenny there. She had relaxed her silver hair, and looked to Yars with a warm smile. Yars allowed his professional exterior to relax a moment, and smiled back to her. "And make sure she gets home safely. Her children will want to know what she's been doing on the high seas for almost three months, and I expect her to tell them. Take care of her. And that is an order."
"Aye Capain!" Scott said, still stammering.
"And for God's sake man, act the part of captain!" Yars said, straightening out Scott's shirt, and brushing his shoulders. "Nobody respects a man who looks like he's been thrown out of a Turkish brothel!" Yars smiled, and patted Scott on the arm. "As you were." Yars turned on his heels, and went across the gang plank.
We left Scott in charge of the merchant ship, and sent them on their way home. Jennifer seems to be happy and content to know my demise was prematurely reported. And in the end I feel better having spoken to her. I felt awful for the first year of my time on Maria, wondering what she would do without me. And I without her. But, in the end, it all seems to have worked out. I think we were both glad to have the chance to say goodbye.
We also took on more crew members voluntarily. Tonight we will release some of the prisoners from the raid and let them mingle. There's no need to keep them locked in the brig. Where would they go?
Sam took the opportunity to move the Jackrats over the waterline to a storeroom that was empty. Two weeks ago it would have been dangerously close to the Howlers, but now I hope that a new page has been turned. If I'm wrong, I know that it won't be too long until I hear about it.
We sail southwest tonight, following the current.
Jenny sat up, reading the book Scott gave her from Yars. She read deliberately by the candlelight, page after page. Someone knocked on her door. "Yes?"
"May I enter Miss Harlford?" Scott asked.
"Yes." Jenny said as Scott entered her quarters.
"I wanted to tell you what was happening." Scott said. "We've made a direct sail for home. If he winds are good, we should make it in a few weeks." Jenny smiled and nodded slowly. "I'm also curious, what was in the book Captain Yars gave you?"
Jenny shook her head. "I can't tell you." She said with a wry grin. "It is his way to say goodbye to me, and the rest is between us." Scott nodded. Jenny sat up in her chair. "That's not all you came in for, is it?"
"No Ma'am." Scott said. "I was a little bothered by something. How could you let him go like that? After coming all this way?"
"When you become my age you'll learn how to let go of some things." Jenny said. "I had to let him go back to the life he had grown into, as he had to with mine." Jenny smiled again, looking at the book. She brought the place mark ribbon down on the page and closed the cover of Captain Yars Logbook. "I think you should get some sleep before morning, Captain."
Scott shook his head. "I don't think I'll get used to being called that."
"Neither did my Yars." Jenny said, looking at the book. Reading
his early entries mirrored what Scott was going through. She
smiled. "Enjoy it, at least until we return to port."
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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