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Upload: 18 April 2008
by Walter D. Reimer, Mitch Marmel, and Eric Costello
© 2008 by Walter D. Reimer, Mitch Marmel, and Eric Costello
Aboard M/V Alouette:
Jean-Francois Sansavon snuggled back against the leather upholstery of his chaise lounge in the yacht's salon and smiled up at the full moon. He sighed contentedly as one paw reached out to touch, then gently hold the paw of the young woman who lounged in a similar chair beside him.
The squirrel had a lot of reasons to be content. A successful industrialist in France, he had successfully managed to persuade his wife to stay home with their children while he went East to look at the various suppliers for his firm. Indochina was his last stop, where the mission civilisatrice was bearing fruit.
The yacht, a modern sixty-foot sloop with both a high-performance engine and a full suite of sails, had been loaned to him by the owner of the Morpion firm in Hanoi. The captain and some of the crew, all Vietnamese, spoke some French with an accent that made his native language sound even more lyrical.
‘Lyrical’ also defined the young lady of undoubted charms and French-educated refinement that mimed a kiss at him. Monique was a very slim femme, feline and with a lithe Annamese grace that made her very alluring.
She came with the yacht, as a douceur for a deal he was negotiating. M. Morpion insisted that he take full advantage of the young lady’s charms before returning to negotiate a new contract for the firm’s output of rubber.
And she was very sweet, too, in a charming and decorous way. Exquisite manners, and he decided that the best way with this one was to take it slow.
So he had displayed the soul of gallantry as only a well-bred Frenchman could in hopes of impressing upon her the fact that he wasn’t merely looking for a brief tumble. The silk sheets on the bed in the master suite were quite suited for the purpose, but there was greater gratification in deferring the moment.
At least for a while.
He gently tugged Monique over to him, kissing by easy stages her paw, wrist, forearm, upper arm and shoulder before she found herself face to face with him. She giggled coquettishly and they kissed, very lightly and almost chastely. Once again he toyed with the idea of somehow getting Monique away from her 'employer' and bringing her back to Lyons.
Perhaps not. Alice would probably notice; she'd managed to sniff out two of his last three ‘secretaries’ so far.
The yacht seemed to quiver under them.
"Ma chere," he chuckled, "that was a neat trick. Do it again."
She looked at him curiously.
The boat shook again.
This time, a geyser of sea water rocketed up alongside the yacht and rained back down on the salon windows, the drops gleaming in the moonlight.
Sansavon had served in the Navy in the War; he sat bolt upright. Monique stood as fast as she could to keep from being dumped to the deck and the cabin steward rushed in. "What is the problem?" the Frenchman asked.
The rodent looked at him with eyes wide with fear. His jaws worked before the word came out.
Whatever warmth his desire for Monique had generated was swept away by an icy wave of shock and fear. As another geyser of water erupted alongside the squirrel ran for the yacht's bridge.
While he ran the comforting rumble of the yacht's diesel died away, and that spurred him faster.
The captain was the only island of calm in the seething turmoil of the bridge. The canine quietly accepted panic-stricken messages gasped out to him by members of the crew, and gave simple, reassuring answers. "M'sieur Sansavon," he said with a slight nod.
"Capitaine, what's the situation?"
"A submarine has surfaced across our path," the captain explained, "and it has fired at us. They have signaled for us to lay to and prepare for boarding." He passed a pair of binoculars to the feline. "I have ordered a distress call, of course."
"Only small arms, sir."
"Hah! Three shots and they give up," Fritz enthused. The submarine was moving in, the gun crews keeping the yacht in their sights.
Hans punched his compatriot’s shoulder, and both started to laugh as they seemingly relived old times. “We rob, then sink, Kapitan?”
“No, Hans,” Sam said. “We rob, yes; Max has the shopping list. Sinking that - well, we’ll have to see.”
“It would make good practice,” Fritz offered.
“Indeed it would. Get to the boarding parties, you two. Max!” she called down from her vantage point on the bridge. “You take the first group across. Take care.”
“I always do, my darling.”
“Yeah, so I’ve noticed. The second crew will be right behind you. And a third if necessary.”
“We gonna lay alongside?”
“No. Hail them and have them send over their gig.”
“Gotcha, honeyfur.” The fox cupped his paws over his muzzle and screamed out orders, and after a few minutes a uniformed crewman piloted the yacht’s launch to the sub. It was swiftly loaded and chugged away.
It was headed back to the sub several minutes later when Sam’s ears perked at her husband’s shout. “Hey Sam, guess what? This toy belongs to our old friend Louie the Louse!”
Sam’s eyebrows went up. Louis Morpion had crossed their paths before. The last time had been in Singapore, and he and the Vreelands had parted company on terms that in no way could be described as friendly.
She reached for the megaphone.
“Sure I’m sure! The Captain here just told me twice.”
“Is he aboard?”
“No, just some fat slob and a cute little kitty.”
“The second crew’s on their way; I’ll be over shortly.”
She put the megaphone down, drumming her fingers on the rail as she thought.
When she arrived aboard the Alouette she immediately shook her head in disgust. The place was a mess, as the crew had apparently decided to vent their frustrations about the way the French colonial authorities allowed natives to be treated. Her own crew was busy below, taking apart the ship’s engine and siphoning its fuel.
She entered the salon in time to see a portly squirrel with a bloody nose take a swing at Max. The fox, about the same height as the rodent, appeared ready to escalate hostilities.
“Max . . . “
The fox rounded on his wife. “He started it, Sam!”
“I don’t care if he started it. You stop it. We’ve got business to attend to.”
“Mmmmm, don’t we!” This said with a look in the direction of the feline femme.
“Business before pleasure, Max.”
Max pouted. “You never let me have any fun!”
“You should have thought of that before you married me.” She sighed as she saw the squirrel starting to weave back up onto his feet.
“But Sam . . .” the fox whined, “I’ve been cooped up in that damn sub forever . . . ”
“No, you haven’t. And you weren’t complaining early this morning.”
“I had my mouth full.”
“Let’s not go there, Max.”
Sansavon staggered to his feet and moved to get between Max and Monique. He braced himself and put up his fists as Sam rolled her eyes. “Look, buddy,” she said patiently, “I don’t want anyone to get hurt . . . but listen, really, this whole thing will go a lot smoother if you just follow orders.”
“Yeah!” chimed the fox.
“Shut up, Max. You never follow my orders.”
“I followed them early this morning.”
“Those weren’t orders, those were requests. There’s a difference.” Just then her ears laid back as the sound of breaking furniture and breaking glass was heard coming from other parts of the ship. “Look, what we’re doing is nothing personal. Some of this is just a resupply operation, and some of this - ”
“Is personal, Sam. C’mon, Louie the Louse is gonna be so pissed when he finds out about this. It almost makes up for what he did to us in Singapore.”
“Did to you, you mean.”
“Do you know how long it took my fur to grow back? And it itched, too. So why can’t I have some fun, Sam? I want to send a message.”
“Call Western Union, then.”
“Funny. Well, no time like the present. Hey, fatso, off with the fancy evening duds. You’re getting blood on them, and that’s going to play hell with the resale value.”
Sansavon replied with various profane epithets that, while translating easily into English, caused Max to roll his eyes impatiently and make a certain motion with his free paw that amply displayed his contempt for the show of Gallic rage. He then stepped forward to shut the rodent up, but jumped as his wife stepped on his tail. “Max,” Sam said, “see to it they don’t break the mirrors. I don’t want any bad luck more than I have now.”
“But Sam . . .”
“NOW, Max. I’ll take care of things here.” The fox huffed at the taller badger, and satisfied himself with smashing the salon’s piano into fragments.
Nearly twenty-four hours later, the yacht had been largely stripped down to the bare steel. The mahogany paneling and furniture had been broken up and heaved overboard, as had the mirrors (very scrupulously left unbroken). All of the food and wine had been confiscated, as had the big diesel engine and its generator.
In return, the remaining crew of the Alouette was given the sub’s food supply, ample fresh water, and its full suite of sails. ‘Remaining’ crew, as the Chinese contingent elected to leave the Morpion firm’s service and join the crew of the pirate sub, leaving the Malay and Vietnamese remnant behind.
Max watched from the bridge as the yacht’s gig slipped below the surface. With a cheerful parting wave at the ransacked ship he ordered, “Lookouts below, gun crews below. Secure the boat and rig for dive, ye scurvy pirate knaves.”
The rest of the crew laughed and with a chorus of “Arr’s” they moved to obey his orders.
“You know, Sam,” Max said as he secured the hatch and slid down the ladder into the control room, “I think those folks may be forever scarred by their experience today.”
“Then our work is done, little buddy.”
(These events are told from another point of view in "Chivalry Isn't Dead")