"Get those pigs off my ship!" Captain Harry Cole swung around the bobstay. His callused hands didn't even feel the rope burns it caused. He wouldn't have cared anyway the fire was going to cause more burns than that.
His crew scrambled frantically chasing after pigs that had broken loose during the battle. It had been a short fight, and those tyrant skypolice not even a worthy opponent. That is until their ship had gone out of control and crashed into the headsail sending Captain Cole's beautiful maiden the "Flying Pig" spiraling for the mountain side. The friction also caused a fire that he personally fought to put out. Extinguisher strapped over his shoulder the pulled himself up the rope ladder.
"Lighten the load men. Now! Or meet your maker!" First Mate Lucy Hubbard squawked out.
"Ha! Never thought you'd see the day, eh?" Brawny Peter pushed a pig towards the gangway. The pig squealed and took a sharp left. "Ah, come on girl! It's just a short jump."
Jack laughed at him as he and Tom pulled the ropes they'd tied around one pig to get it towards the opening. "What day's that?" Soon it went flipping over the side.
With a grunt Peter finally managed to push his pig overboard and he fell flat on the deck doing so. "Why the day you see real flying pigs of course." He pulled himself up and leaned over the bulwark. He watched the pigs tumble and turn making the craziest of sounds. After a few seconds each one seemed to stop in midair. The safety boosters they strapped to the pigs kicked in and soon they began gliding to the ground. Captain Cole would follow the homing devices later and pick up their cargo.
"Hmph, must be getting paid today," Tom said as he ran after another pig and the other two laughed. They were tossing a month's worth of pay overboard as it was.
"Bye-bye 'ittle piggies." Jack waved.
"Get your 'ittle behinds to work else we'll have two more flying piggies!" Hubbard grabbed the men's collars. "And I won't waste safety boosters on you." She pushed them towards the panicking pigs.
The men worked hard and soon all pigs were gone from the deck, the ship was leveling off and Cole could breathe easy.
"We'll put in for Ol' Smokey for repairs." Cole took Hubbard's arm and guided her towards his cabin.
"You sure?" She whispered. "Ol' Smokey is filled with them coppers. They'll be waiting for us for sure."
"We don't have much choice." He closed the door behind them. "That jury rigging will only last a short time and I don't want to go too far from our cargo in case another pirate gets it in his head to pick them up." He grabbed a bottle of his best brandy and offered some to her. She smirked and nodded. She liked the captain. He was quite generous, not to mention; handsome, debonair, a ladies' man, and a cold blooded killer. He was even good in bed. She'd never have him as a husband though. She was only staying on this pig infested ship with that smell until she could take a ship for her own.
"I've got a friend," Cole was saying, "on the far side of the mountain. She's got a pier we can dock at and hide from the police for the time being. But we have to go in at night under cloud cover. It'll be a rough landing."
"The crew can handle it, sir. We've had worse."
"I know." He handed her a glass, then kissed her on the cheek. Hubbard wasn't the only female on the ship but she was his favorite. Though his "friend" was ten times sexier and didn't have grease under her nails. Oh yes, he always enjoyed this port of call.
"I want to commend you for a job well done today, Lucy." He looked at her with a slight sparkle in his eye. "You acted fast getting our cargo to safety. We'd be dead if it weren't for you." He sidled next to her on the couch. She swore she saw him lick his chops. The wolf was on the prowl.
"Thank you sir. It's all due to your training and preparation." She purred. It was always best to give the captain what he wanted and in this case it benefited her two ways. The obvious immediate satisfaction and the more she pleased him the more likely he was to give her the next ship they captured. She tilted her head in anticipation of his kiss and like everything else he took advantage of the opening.
He slid his arm around her waist and brought her close to him. Her lips were supple and open just slightly. He loved how willing she always was to please him. He sucked on her lips and licked them just a little to encourage her to open her mouth further.
Just as she was wrapping her arms around his neck the call echoed over the intercom, "Ship ahoy!"
"Damn." Cole untangled himself from his first mate. "What is it?" he snapped into the intercom.
"It's another of 'em, sir. She's coming in fast." Sure enough as soon as his words were out Cole heard the woop-woop of the siren. They'd caught up so quickly! He didn't think the first skypolice had a chance to get a call out.
He couldn't afford the risk of them knowing about it. He also couldn't risk another fight. His ship was limping as it was. His mind worked furiously.
"Go over there." He ordered her.
"Go over there and work your wiles on them."
"They'll hang me!" She jumped to her feet.
"No, they won't. They don't hang women. The worst they'll do is sell you to a sanctioned brothel."
"I won't become a sex slave either!"
"Of course you won't. You could get yourself out of that situation easily I don't doubt it."
"You'd- you'd- sacrifice me!?"
"It's not a sacrifice. I have faith in you that they won't even get you in irons."
"You- you- son of a -"
"Now, now Lucy, you'll be fine."
"How do you know I won't turn you in?" She snapped upset that he'd treat her like any other member of his crew.
Cole smiled crookedly. "Because I know your secret." ***
The dingy puttered through the air towards the oncoming skypolice cruiser. They already had a lock on his ship so he knew they couldn't sail away. Hubbard carried with her an extra special present he made just for the skypolice. When she was onboard with it they wouldn't be able to track him.
He saw her little dingy enveloped by their hulking ship. The light on his helm went green. "Now!" he yelled.
A chorus of orders was given down the line and soon the ship dropped. There were no clouds here but a couple of miles up ahead there was and he headed straight for them. Once inside without the tracker the skypolice wouldn't have a hope of finding him.
It didn't take long for the skypolice to notice the change in course of the "Flying Pig." Soon they were dropping altitude too. They were faster than his ship too. Would he make it to the cloud cover in time?
Roooaaarrr… A missile passed just next to the port side. If that was just a warning shot he didn't want to know what kind of weapon they'd use for real. Knowing they expected him to evade starboard towards the clouds. He careened starboard. The second shot they fired went way wide.
"Fire back!" he cried. He couldn't hear the order being obeyed in the bowls of his ship, but knew it would be. Moments later he heard the aft scuttle opening and the whoosh of a small rocket leaving the ship. He didn't care to watch if it would hit or not. He just needed time.
His heart thumped as he straightened her out again. He pushed the old girl harder than ever to reach the cloud bank. "Come on girl. Don't let me down."
The tip of the bow broke the clouds apart just as another missile whooshed by. This time it was close enough to rip a hole in one of his sails. The solar cloth tore to shreds and his wheel became taught in his hands. He called for help and with the strength of two men they held her on course.
Men below scrambled up the mast with a repair kit. They'd fix the hole but they'd still be at a loss for power. Cole prayed they would have enough to make it fully into the cloud cover let alone to Ol' Smokey.
Thankfully it was a headwind and the clouds poured over his lovely lady before another shot could be fired. He used the ship's sonar to find his way through them. They sailed quietly for some time and each time there was a part in the clouds he froze waiting for another attack. None came, but he knew he hadn't lost them completely. They'd be waiting for him at Ol' Smokey. ***
"Captain Hartfort Cole!" Mary Goosely embraced him and layered kisses on him.
"How many time's I gotta tell you not to call me that!" He held her back a little. "Let me take a look at you." He took in her beautiful pudgy face and round hips. "Lordy Mary, I swear you get sexier each time I see you."
"Oh you old scallywag!" She waved a hand at him. "You know I only put on weight for you."
"Mmmm… You're the softest woman I know." He pinched a large portion of her ample rear as she led him into her office. She chirped with delight.
Once in the privacy of her cluttered office she shooed one of her ten ferrets off her desk. "Hartfort, I need a favor."
"Of course, you know I owe you for harboring us. You want me to get you more rabbits for your ferrets? They're looking kind of scrawny."
"It's nothing so mundane, honey. This is serious." Mary began digging around in her drawer. She had to push two more ferrets aside.
He cocked an eyebrow but couldn't help steeling a glimpse from behind. When she straightened there was what seemed to be some kind of small, fuzzy animal in her hands.
"What's this?" he asked.
"The Count has killed three people because they wouldn't give him half of their livestock."
"You heard me. Now this sweet, little, fellow is your key to get inside the Fort and-"
"Inside the where?! Holy handgranades Mary, you don't expect me to go in there and kill the Count?" He nearly fell into the chair.
"Of course not, now listen, you're the only one around that's friendly and has a big enough ship."
"Big enough for what?"
"Why to take all his livestock of course! It'll embarrass the hell out of the Count and maybe have him replaced."
"Oh for the love of-" He really did fall into the chair now. "Mary, do you know what would happen if my ship came within a mile of the Fort?"
"That's why my boys are already painting her. We'll change her beacon too to transmit an imperial ship's signal."
He rubbed his eyes hoping to rub out this whole silly idea. When he opened them she was still there with the hedgehog in his face. "And how is that supposed to help get us in?"
"I knew you'd see it my way. You're simply a darling." She kissed him. ***
After repairs were finished and with the false identity Mary provided the "Flying Pig" was granted permission to dock outside the Fort. Mary even provided a disguise for Captain Cole. He was now Captain Perry Cook a merchant of rare animals. The hedgehog: a sample for the Count.
Peter and Jack accompanied him as sales assistants. They marched to the gate of the Fort. He could see a large field just inside and dozens of animals grazing. Behind the bars of the gate and full trees he saw a large Manor too far off to respond quickly. His mouth watered with how easy this was going to be. Two Imperial Skypolice Guards stood at attention ignoring him.
"Eh, 'ello fellas." Harry tipped his cap to the men. "I've come to speak to the Count on behalf of the Blackbird Pie Trading Company. See, we've got these gentle lil' creatures that we've 'erd the Count's been after for 'is daughter's birthday."
"Buzz off." One of the guards uncharacteristically broke his silence.
"Well now, see, the Count won't of like that much at all. Not at all."
"Not at all." Jack repeated.
Harry went on as if he hadn't spoken, "He's been look'n for these darlings for months and 'is girl's birthday's coming up quick."
"He ain't gonna be too happy to hear you're the one who turned us away." Peter growled.
The guard sighed. "One minute." He hit the intercom and told the person on the other side there was a salesman here.
Harry expected the gate to open at which point his boys could jam it open and they could begin a rush on the field. He braced himself for a fight and nearly punched the guard when he said, "It will be another minute or two as the count comes to the gate."
"He's coming out here?" He gulped.
"Yeah, you have a problem with that?" The guard stiffened.
"No, not at all." He prepared himself for plan B.
After several minutes the Count, a short man who looked like one of Mary's ferrets slinked up to the gate. "I'm told you have a hedgehog."
"Why of course, sir. We've many fine creatures. If you'll just allow us to bring a few into your lovely field there-"
"Hedgehogs will fit through the bars. Let's see it."
"Um… Sure. Lads." Peter handed him the hedgehog.
Harry displayed the animal. "You can see this lil' fella is a prime example of the species." The Count placed his hand out to pet the animal. It took one sniff of his hand and curled into a ball.
"May I examine it?"
"Of course, sir, 'ere." He passed the creature through the bars.
"Not very friendly is it?" The count prodded the fur ball with his finger.
"Haha, no sir, he's quite friendly just takes a lil' time to get used to you."
"And how much are you asking."
"Ah, well, he is a rare breed-"
"Yes, yes." The Count waved his hand to make the man get to the point.
"500 crowns sir."
"50." The count began walking away.
"Well now, sir, that's 'ardly fair-"
"Argue more and it goes down to 10." Harry closed his mouth. The count tossed a 50 crown coin through the bars. Jack and Peter shuffled to catch it.
"Pleasure doing business with you, Count." Harry grumbled looked at the guards as if to talk to them. They stiffened again ready to escort Harry away. "Yeah, thanks fellas."
He turned his back on the gate. When they were out of ear shot Peter cursed, "Well there goes our chance? How are we gonna get in there now?"
"Don't give up hope yet boys. The key may not have opened the door, but it's still in the lock. We just need to turn it." ***
Comfortably sitting in the wardroom Captain Harry Cole enjoyed a foot rub by Mary. "So I just have to turn this knob?"
"That's it." She watched him play with a machine. "You really need to stay off your feet, love. Your calluses are two inches thick." She tried to tickle his foot and he didn't feel a thing.
He stared at the screen on the machine and turned the knob. The hedgehog seemed to wake up and unfurled. The camera gave him a view of the inside of a cardboard box. He moved the joystick as Mary showed him and managed to get the little robotic hedgehog up and over the side of the box. He now had an ant's view of the Count's bedroom.
Harry sneered as he looked at the distorted sleeping face of the count and his stick figure of a wife.
Mary leaned over his shoulder. "You'd think with all the money and livestock they had they could put some food in her mouth."
"Some people just don't know how to take care of themselves like you do Mary." He said with a sly smile wanting to grab a hold of her and show her how he loved her little sneaky idea of the fake hedgehog.
He controlled the little robot to roll down and off the night stand. He crawled under the door and up the hallway bouncing down some stairs and through the back door. It took what seemed like an hour to get him across the field to the security office. They used some stolen blueprints to find a little opening to a drain. The little guy got all greasy but his claws were made for walking through such things.
His little head popped out the drain in a sink and they got their first look at the security room through the door of the kitchen. There were three guards that they could count, two walking around and one sitting at a computer. The little hedgehog fell to the ground then scuttled to one of the unused computers. As far as they could tell, no one was watching.
Using its nose to push keys and buttons he created an assortment of problems for the guards. Alarms started sounding. The stable doors opened and closed randomly allowing animals to escape. Finally, the coup de grâce, the front gate opened and would not close. In amongst the panic the little hedgehog sauntered off unseen.
The pirates seized their chance and ran for the gate. The two shocked guards could do nothing against the onslaught. Using a lift and prods, they took cows, horses, sheep, llamas, pigs and even ostriches by the dozens. Within ten minutes the fields were empty and the guards were incapacitated.
The skypolice were called, but they were too late. The "Flying Pig" had flown the coup. ***
They weren't out of the woods yet. A wolfish looking battleship came at them from the other side of the harbor.
"Turn her about quarter port!" Captain Cole called as he climbed up to the bridge.
"Quarter port, Aye," Tom replied as he spun the wheel. The whole deck tilted to the side as they came about. Men grabbed what they could to stay upright.
"Lower those sails! Prepare to take damage!" Once again the ship came alive with activity and the orders repeated down the line. "Ready the cannons!" Clanking could be heard below on the port side as scuttles were raised.
"Ca-ca-captain! Captain! Captain!" Jack pointed nervously starboard.
Cole rushed to the railing and his heart plummeted. A skypolice cruiser raced towards them. It would reach them before the battleship and they weren't ready for her. Would they board her or would they attack? The battleship he at least knew she was in for the fight, so he could only assume the cruiser was too. Either way he knew he was dead. It was just a matter of how many he could take with him.
Cole watched helplessly as the large cruiser swooped round aside the "Flying Pig." He was the captain of this ship and he would die defending it and in control. He brushed Tom aside and took the controls. He'd shove the cruiser aside if she fired on him.
"We're done for," Peter sighed when he saw the large ship float next to his face with gun turrets active.
"I ain't said my prayers in a week," Jack sobbed.
Captain Cole stood hard and fast at his helm. He wasn't going to give up yet. "Prepare all armaments!" He wouldn't let his ship, crew, or cargo go without a fight and he was certainly willing to take it all the way to the ground if he had to.
The boys on the deck below rushed about preparing for battle. Cole wondered if they weren't already too late. But then he wondered what the cruiser was waiting for. They should be scrap metal by now.
The battleship careened towards them ready to ram if they didn't surrender. Harry gripped the helm hard ready to give her a yank if need be. "Prepare to fire!" He wouldn't fire first, he knew if he did and survived he wouldn't survive the trial, they considered him the bad guy after all.
He saw the tips of the cruiser's gunnery glowing red. Any moment now! The word "Fire" was on his lips when the cruiser shot across his bow!
The shot made a direct hit! The rostrum of the battleship blew right off. It even slowed and changed the course of the battleship so she wouldn't hit the "Flying Pig." Harry threw the tiller for the down rudder. His ship dipped below the two skypolice as they fired upon each other.
He blinked several times as he watched in amazement. The battleship didn't know what hit it. The cruiser fired a dozen times before the battleship got it together enough to fire back. By the time it did, half its sails were gone and she was flying blind. A few more shots by the cruiser sent the battleship towards the side of the mountain. Soon enough Ol' Smokey was really blazing.
Captain Cole stood bewildered and watched as the skypolice cruiser's bridge came in direct line of sight with him. He expected them to ask him to surrender, but then why would they fire on their own. It didn't make sense.
"Well, Harry, don't just stand there with your mouth on the floor. Tell me what you think of my new ship?" Lucy Hubbard leaned on the rail casually with a skypolice jacket draped over her shoulder and their cap lopsided on her head.
"But- but- How?" was all Cole could get out.
Her smirk turned into a toothy grin. "I'll tell you the whole thing over a bottle of brandy, my treat!"
She spun a daring tale of subterfuge, bribery, and luck as she escaped the clutches of the skypolice. Captain Cole was impressed. She'd taken over the ship with only a couple of scratches. She even offered to aid in the removal of the tyrannical count.
With the skypolice cruiser his crew and hers combined managed to land inside the fort. They practically walked into the central court before the skypolice realized they were frauds, by then it was too late. Cole, Hubbard, and a few others made it to the throne room.
"Who are you? What do you want? Throw these scum out!" the Count demanded.
Guards descended upon the pirates.
"If you want your land and lives back, you'll throw him out!" Cole pointed grimly at the Count.
The Count squinted at him. It took him a moment to recognize him without his disguise. "You're the one who stole my livestock," the Count said calmly as if he had the upper hand.
"Not yours. I returned them to their rightful owners."
"You are a pirate and a terrorist. You no doubt sold them to the highest bidder."
"Um… My sheep returned to me mysteriously yesterday." The captain of the guard interrupted the exchange.
"Shut up! Don't you see this man is only trying to disrupt the peace and quiet of our home?"
"I see a tyrannical child who also raped my child." The captain of the guard said quietly but you could tell he was just starting to get up the nerve to stand up to a man he hated.
"And what of the other children of this town?" Captain Cole asked the guards in attendance. They all murmured to themselves but sounded as if their side was changing.
"Shut up!" the Count honked, "I've done no such thing!"
"Yes ye have, and ye burnt down me house when I first refused to join yer silly sky police!" one of the officers said. He then ripped his badge off and threw it to the ground.
"Yeah, me too!" One after another the skypolice threw away their emblems.
"Shut up!" The count began to lose control. "Shut up! Shutupshutupshutup!"
Whack! A board hit him in the back of the head. Peter stood over the now limp body of the Count.
"I've been wanting to do that ever since I heard his bleating voice."
"Let me have a go at him!" Jack reached for the board.
"Get off, or I'll give you a whack!" Peter pretended to take a swing at him.
"What do we do with him?" Hubbard asked.
"Guess, we take him out of power. We'll have to find someone who can take care of the people here." Cole looked to the Captain of the Guard.
"Me?" he asked.
"Why not? You know how to keep the peace and you won't take advantage of your position for your daughter's sake."
"No sir, I surely wouldn't." He puffed out his chest and tossed his hand out toward the Captain. "You'll always be welcome in this port Captain Cole."
"Ahem." Hubbard coughed into her hand.
"Oh and of course, we would always enjoy a visit from a lovely lady." He bent to kiss her hand.
He called to his men after saying a brief farewell, "Clean this mess up, put him on the next airship to the mining colony of Mulberry."
"So what now Captain?" Hubbard asked again.
"We're peers now Lucy, call me Harry." He took her hand and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
She blushed, "So what now, Harry? As if I didn't know what you had on your mind."
He feigned ignorance, "Well, I do have a load of pigs to deliver."
"The pigs can wait." Her high from the adventure was wearing off and she wanted to keep it going just a little longer. Plus she had a nice, cushoiny, new bed in her new ship, she wanted to test it out.
He leaned down to kiss her when he heard his name called. "Hartfort!? Oh Harry!?"
"Damn." Lucy said under her breath and he smiled down at her. For the one calling him was Mary.
"Don't worry, you'll still get your kiss, in a minute." He caressed her cheek.
"And just what do you think you're doing?" Mary snapped.
"Well... Um... I-"
"Why are you standing around here doing nothing?" Mary jammed her meaty fists into her spongy hips.
"Come on! Get your behinds moving! Out, out, get to your ships now."
"What's going on?" Lucy thought the woman was completely out of her mind.
"The Imperial Court heard about the coup already. They're mobilizing their forces. We've already contacted all the pirate ships in the air. Some of the skypolice have defected too! It's all happening so fast."
"Calm down, Mary. We'll be ready. Now go get my crew fed before we lift off."
"Sure thing, deary." She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. As she stepped away he pinched her on the rear again. She bounced sprightly.
Harry turned to Lucy. "So do you have one more adventure in you?"
"Of course. I'll go prepare my ship." She began to walk away from him. He grabbed her arm and pulled her back to him.
"That wasn't the adventure I was referring to." He kissed her hard and she swooned.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please send me any comments you might have, good or bad. Copyrighted 2008 by Christine Schnell. Go ahead and share it with others just keep my name with it.