Reading time: 6 min

chapter one In which a story is continued

I leaped dramatically though the hatch on to the deck, successfully dodging any new explosions that didn’t happen anyway, doing a roll across the deck and springing smoothly to my feet all on one smooth, elegant move.


It’s not my fault absolutely no one was looking.

Everyone was too busy paying attention to the small fleet of pirate ships chasing after us. Even Officer Puppy had his back to me.

It was not my greatest moment.

Though I did have to admit, the pirate Pirate had definitely found some friends. There were a lot of them. Every single one of them was chasing us. At least it was hard to believe he had any more friends than that. I was even willing to bet that most of them had just come along to watch the show. There were bullets and blasts of energy flying all over. Their aim was amazingly bad. The ship had some shielding to deflect those sorts of things, but it wasn’t that good.

I adjusted my googles to keep the dirt we were kicking up out of my eyes and hurried over to where almost everyone else was huddled at the back of the ship, wrestling with some equipment.

“Give me an update,” I shouted over the noise of the crawler racing into the wind.

Rimares straightened up from something he was working on and pointed at the ships behind us. “There’s your update,” he said. Then he went back to work. “And would you order that thing to help us,” he added.

I made a note to call him up on charges of insubordination later, but first was dealing with that thing. It took me a second to decide which thing he meant. Officer Puppy was clearly helping as best he could by running around and barking at things. The pirate Periwinkle had by some mysterious means managed to set up an elegant cafe table with a parasol that by some even more mysterious means wasn’t being knocked over by the wind. It was a very nice cafe table, all wrought iron, painted white. I have no idea where he found it. The cafe table is where he was right now, comfortably seated in one of the matching chairs, enjoying a cup of tea. Annoying at best, but he clearly wasn’t a thing.

That left the other thing. The other thing was just standing there doing nothing. The other thing was a smallish suit of armor. At least it looked like a smallish suit of armor. If it was possibly to take it apart, I probably would have fit in it nicely. I couldn’t though. I tried and all I got was a lecture in respecting the personal space of others.

I had named that thing, “Mr. Robot,” when we had found it and figured out what it was. It was a blend of magick and machine, a guardian who announced his purpose in regal and solemn tones, complete with fanfare, as protecting the Pirate King’s treasure. We really couldn’t make off with the Pirate King’s treasure without bringing him along. He might have tried to protect it from us. Besides, he was a pretty darn impressive piece of magickal engineering.

“Mr. Robot, why aren’t you helping defend us,” I asked, trying to sound like someone who was in charge, even if my crew never listened to me.

“My apologies,” he said, in a smooth voice that echoed from somewhere within, “I have not identified a specific threat.”

“What about them?” I pointed at the fleet behind us.

“They are attacking this ship, not the King’s treasure. Their attack pattern indicates they are attempting to disable this ship, not destroy it. I detect no immediate threat.”

I glared at his empty head. It really was. It was just a hollow helmet. “Damaging this ship could damage the treasure too. You want to risk that?” I felt very clever about my gambit.

“Your point is noted,” Mr. Robot said. He then went on to keep doing nothing but standing there like he was glued to the deck. Another blast shook the ship. I was about to shout, “Do something!” at the annoying pile of metal when I realized that blast had felt weird.

I looked around to see shadows dancing around us. It was a thing called the Away. We weren’t quite in the world anymore, but we weren’t really out of it in the Away either, we were between. I was distracted from wondering by Officer Puppy growling at Mr. Robot. Officer Puppy did not like the Away. I suppose he had his reasons, but it would be a while yet before I found out what they were.

I walked right up to Mr. Robot and banged on his helmet. “What are you doing!”

“I have moved the treasure chest you stole into the Away. I apologize for it bleeding out to the rest of the ship. It is an inexact process.”

“Can you work with this,” I shouted at Rimares.

“I have no problem with maybe not existing for a nearby explosion. Would prefer to avoid the maybe. Now help me with this gun.”

I ran over and helped him wrestle a big gun into its mounting. Birch and Dr. Pac had hooked up another one and were trying to get it working.

While Rimares tried to get ours working, I ran over to the pirate Periwinkle to get in his complacent face. “Do something!”

“I am. I am having an absolutely wonderful cup of tea.”

I bashed the delicate cup out if his hand and it shattered on the deck.

He looked at the broken cup and sighed. “Now, that really was unnecessary.”

I grabbed his coat, which only made him talk faster and look worried that I might damage the fabric. “Dear heart, we are out-gunned, out-classed, and we will lose. If they wanted to destroy us, they would have by now. They just want us to stop. Doing so would be much less stressful. Besides, I made it perfectly clear already that I am only here as an observer. Getting involved would simply not be appropriate.”

He was saved from what I was about to say next by another explosion. If we hadn’t been halfway into the Away we would have been a smoldering wreck. As it was, the entire ship leapt into the air and spun to the side, shattering one of the engines as it hammered down on some rocks. The Catalyst lurched sickeningly as Ornery tried to get it back under control.

“Foul!” shouted the pirate Periwinkle. He smiled at me. “That was most unsporting of someone. That one was clearly meant to do some damage.”

I pushed him back in his chair and turned to help the others. Instead I spun head first into Mr. Robot, with a loud, painful, clang.

“One of the pursuers has attempted to destroy this vessel,” he said, almost musically, “I’m afraid I must commandeer this.”

Mr. Robot yanked the parasol out of the hole in the center of the cafe table, over the pirate Periwinkle’s loud protest. He then ripped the metal pole out of the middle of the parasol, sending fabric and ribbing flying into the wind, and raised it up like a javelin.

“Are you going to take down a ship with that?” It seems sort of a small weapon to me.

“I am lodging a formal protest in the captain who ordered that strike.”

“Don’t you mean ‘with’?”


Mr. Robot’s makeshift javelin bristled with energy as it flew from his hand. I couldn’t see where it went, but one of the ships immediately slowed down and then began to veer off. Later there was much talk about a pirate captain who was very upset about having been nailed to a mast with a length of metal pipe from an unknown source in the midst of the battle.

“We got the gun working,” shouted Birch to no one in particular.


I didn’t tell you about how we got the pirate King’s treasure, did I? The story doesn’t make much sense without that little piece of information.

Well, it all started with the pirate moot. No, no, not a pirate named Moot, the pirate moot. You know, where all the pirates get together, party too much, eat too much, drink too much, get really, really drunk, and talk politics.

Why would pirates have a moot? I guess you’d have to ask the pirate Vyking. It was his idea. He swears high and low that the moot is an honorable tradition passed down from the fierce Men of Ice. They were a tall race who lived in huge, sea-bound volcanos far to the west, which only goes to show how fierce and tough they were. The Men of Ice taught it to the vykings, an even fiercer northern race who had big horns on their heads and rode dragons on the sea in the days before the wars. And the pirate Vyking learned about it when he discovered a bunch history books about the horned people he took his name from.

The pirate Professor liked to point out, as often as possible, that the pirate Vyking’s research was not only suspect, being derived as they were from children’s story books, but that he probably just made it all up to begin with. He then would add that the books might have been more useful if the pirate Vyking could actually read them, not just look at the pictures. The pirate Vyking would just laugh and say who cares, his version is better. Then a fight would break out. Which, as far as most pirates are concerned, is the best part of any debate.

This is why pirates don’t usually get invited to academic conferences. Most academics simply refuse to believe that the best decisions are made when everyone is blind drunk, and not a single one believes in the merits of determining historic accuracy by armed combat, even if they all agree that is how history is usually determined anyway.

But it was a real, honest to goodness, may the Sisters strike me down, pirate moot! And I got to go! It was awesome!