SPIN: SUB-MEDITERRANEAN SEAWRECK BALOO
story by jb
to eternal life?” Rebecca asked.
“What in the world are you talking
another secret to share,” said Katie as she continued unfastening the vault
hatch’s last remaining holding screw aboard the September Weed. “Remember what I told you guys back in
“When I got
in there with my notebooks and a few tools, I scraped off the wax and saw that
it was a screw-on lid. Twisting it off, there was a hollowed centre that
contained a cylindrical vial and inside it was a rolled-up parchment with an
ancient wax seal bearing a thirteenth-century marking of high importance holding
it together, perfectly preserved. Peeling it off as not to damage the seal, I
unrolled it to discover it was a map of old Latin lingua scrawled all over it,
much to my own surprise. I quickly jotted down and drew everything from what was
in the map, carefully re-sealed the parchment, placed in back inside the
statuette, screwed the lid back on and made a new wax seal on the outer rim.”
sighed and tried not to show too much impatience with the vixen, hoping she’d
get the point with this long-winded lecture, as did Rebecca from her expression.
back to my university that fall, I spent about eighteen months researching and
translating the map on what my notes said – by the way, Rebecca…that damaged
and waterlogged notebook you saw me with in my former stateroom up there?”
about it?” she responded, slightly bored.
where all my information and studies on the scroll were in, now they’re
completely destroyed. Perhaps for the better…anyway, getting back to the
subject, I connected the map to all the research about the Crusades that I could
get a hold of and came up with the conclusion that the scroll I found inside the
Moltese Eagle, would lead to the grandest artifact of them all…the Holy
The two bears
‘bout the Holy Grail?! How can ya be
so sure, Red?”
there is a reference in the late thirteenth-century to a copy of the Grail being
in Constantinoble, Baloo…this was found in the Hounslander book, the Younger
Titurel: ‘A second costly dish, very noble and very precious, was fashioned to
duplicate this one. In holiness it has no flaw. Men of Constantinoble assayed it
in their land…it richer in adornment, they accounted it the true gral,’
or in other words, the Grail itself.”
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table?” the she-bear asked.
fiction, Rebecca.” The vixen dismissed the suggestion. “When Britannica
converted to evangelism, it rested much of the old Celtic stories around the
chalice that became permanent with the Grail-Lancelot story around 1210 and was
the basis of Arthurian Grail romances by the Britannian knight Robert de Red
Baron under King Henry II. I deducted that the real
Grail was said to have been stolen from the church of the Bucoleon during the
Forth Crusade and sent from Constaninoble to nearby Troyes by the former bishop,
Grainier de Trainer in 1204, but
that’s always been disputed. The Hospitaller Guardians – the precursors to
the Guardians of Molta – replaced the Grecian converts fighting in the Crusade
against Constaninoble around that time before that campaign ended in with the
victory by Frederick II at Achoon …”
sneeze!” Katie said testily.
though ya did –”
mind! Anyway, as I was saying, by the
time the Hospitallers had lost their base at the Battle of Aker in 1291 to
retreat temporarily to Cypherus before settling in Molta, they’d have taken a
lot of things with them – including
the map of the Grail’s location secretly made and given to them by de Trainer
eighty-seven years earlier placed inside the statuette for safekeeping,
according to my theory.”
history lesson, Katie, but what’s all that gotta do with the Moltese Eagle
didn’t you ever go to Sunday
school?” asked the archeologist disdainfully.
to do with school is about as daunting to him as hard work,” said the she-bear
with the insults, Becky!”
“Look, if Karnage got his hands on the map and decided to go hunting for the treasure and does find the Grail, it’s been told that whoever drinks from it will receive eternal life. And do you know what that means?”
thought hard and said: “Uhh…ya hafta pay higher life insurance premiums?”
you ignoramus! If that maniac finds
the Holy Grail with that parchment inside, he could use it for his own bidding!
He could even try to sell it to people of great power, in particular to one
little dictator now running around Zoorope…”
gasped. “You’re talking about…Adenoid Helter?”
already conquered half of
The two bears
looked at each other and realized the situation was a lot graver than what was
worst part out of all of this,” said the archaeologist offhandedly, “that
this ship belongs to Shere Khan.”
exclaimed Baloo and Rebecca at once.
cringed. Me and my big mouth…
da September Weed?!”
technically. It’s more registered under his name.”
is insured by one of his many subsidiary companies. If he ever found out that I
destroyed the September Weed, it’d be coming out of my pay cheques for the
rest of my life, considering how much female university professors make in a
blame ya, hon. Khan’s the kinda guy that would sue the pants offa ya. An’
he’ll take the belt an’ buckle
too, if not yer garters.”
vixen chucked a little bit with a mysterious smile on her face hearing that.
“I don’t think so, chum. If he did, he’d
be the one coughing up the dough.”
how’s that?” Rebecca said skeptically.
bazooka and rocket grenade I used came from an overstocked weapons cargo run for
Francoroni’s preparation to launch his raids on
was confused. “I…don’t get it...”
enough, it was the pilot that actually understood. “Aww, man…doncha see,
Beckers? Ol’ Khanny was illegally supplyin’
arms fer the Fascists durin’ the civil war! If he got caught doin’ it…”
be charged for being a war profiteer,” his employer finished.
said Katie, grunting a little bit as she twisted on the screw.
from death and destruction,” said the businesswoman, shaking her head sadly.
“And for the Fascists, of all the
people. How…how could he?”
“I tol’ ya before the guy’s ruthless, Boss Lady…whether ya live or die, Khanny will find a way ta squeeze a buck outta ya.”
mention for the fact that Khan collected a lot
of insurance money on this loss – without even doing a proper investigation
that he managed to take care of it himself, from what I heard,” added the
archaeologist. “He could be charged for insurance fraud and bribery, provided
they could make it stick to him.”
without his army o’ legal beagles an’ unlimited cash flow at the ready ta
git him outta it, Red. But it does
make quite a picture seein’ Khanny in the clink, though…even if he is
already wearin’ stripes!”
other words…keep this under our hats?” said Rebecca warily.
going to tell you, Baloo, Kit and
screw fell to the floor with another heavy thud onto the floor. She then pried
the hatch door open and it swayed loosely on its hinges, bringing with it a
small gush of seawater splattering onto the floor that the pilot backed away
from, plus a light flow of air came into the vault, if not much. Baloo then
gently helped the vixen down off of his shoulders for which he rubbed with great
relief as she slipped her boots back on.
My dear ol’ mom sure didn’t raise me ta be no stepladder!”
got the hatchway open…” Rebecca said gratefully inhaled the fresh
oxygen coming through. “You’re going to head up there now, Katie?”
That’s a pretty tight space an’ no offence, Katie…yer, a bit big – er, I
mean, I don’ think you can fit up there.”
fix that,” said the vixen, now stepping up real close to Baloo. “Hold me.”
A blaze of
anger rushed through Rebecca’s face as she screeched: “WHAT?!!”
looked at the she-bear and just rolled her eyes. Oh, for crying out loud…what a gutter
please, sister…at a time like this?!”
said Baloo dumbly, trying to figure out Katie’s request and his employer’s
heated outburst at the same time.
when I said that explosion blew me clear off the ship and got injured in the
plunge back into the sea? Well, I dislocated my right shoulder as a result. Now
I can do it anytime I want to, although I don’t do it too often for obvious
reasons, of course.”
Rebecca asked worriedly, “won’t that hurt you?”
much as it does when I set it back by myself. Now that’s going to hurt.”
doin’, sweetheart! I ain’t inta injurin’ no women…in particular when
they’re friends o’ mine, either!”
“I know you
wouldn’t,” she said, turning back to the pilot. “I’m not asking you to
injure me at all. It’ll be like…you being a straightjacket wrapped around
me. I’ll be doing all the work in doing it. Please, Baloo…this is our only
looked at her and sighed reluctantly. “Oh…okay. I sure hope ya know whatcha
she gulped as the grey bear wrapped his huge, strong arms around her.
there was a time when he would have happily accepted that invitation from her.
And certainly would have enjoyed it even more.
archaeologist then averted her eyes to the she-bear. “You… may not want to
the businesswoman said uneasily, so she turned her back away from the two.
Seeing them together like that was more than enough for her, for some
reason she couldn’t understand, let alone admit.
couple of deep breaths, closing her eyes and face engaged in concentration, the
redheaded vixen began to juxtaposition her shoulders and with a few hard jerks,
grunting in the process, a small but slightly nauseating crick sounded
off, making even Baloo grimace at the noise.
it’s done,” she panted in a strained voice. “You can let go now.”
The pilot was
all too glad to do so. When he got a look at her, he exclaimed, “Aw, man oh
man oh man…!”
turned toward them, she gasped in horror. Katie
was grotesquely misaligned with her right shoulder hanging limply, making her
look like one of the rag dolls she used to play with as a child.
worry,” she tried to assure them with a weakened smile. “It only looks bad.”
Handing her a
small penlight, Baloo asked anxiously: “How long will it take ya?”
fifteen minutes tops. I’ll try to hurry as fast as I can. Just hang in there,
guys,” she said, then placed the penlight in her mouth and gripped it between
luck, Katie,” the she-bear called to her as Baloo hoisted the archaeologist up
to the hatchway. With apparent effort, she managed to grab
hold of the entrance with one
hand, angled herself and slid into the wet shaft, aided by the pilot's boost,
then shoved her feet up and disappeared right into it.
said Rebecca. “She really can fit
empty hatchway with a few bumps and grunts coming from within, the pilot
muttered in amazement: “I gotta admit...that gal never ceases to amaze me.”
bit shaken by that statement somehow; quietly walked away from him, sat up
against the nearest vault wall and sulked in silence.
Baloo noticed this and wondered: Now what’s gotten inta her?
electrical sparks flew from the power circuit Kit was trying to hotwire in the Prowler’s
turret Number Four, causing him to back away and reacting angrily with a deep
growl, shaking his wrist from the pain the sparks slightly burnt his fingers.
“Aw, nuts! Nuts, nuts, nuts!!”
not going to make it, are we?” said Melita apprehensively.
gonna make it! We’re gonna make it! We’re really, really
Tackling the power circuit again, the navigator furiously worked out the auxiliary wires, trying to activate the battle guns into operation. “C’mon, baby…c’mon!” he muttered underneath his breath, sweating profusely. “C’mon!!”
Then it burst into life suddenly.
“Yes!!” Kit cheered quietly with a joyous jump and closed the panel. “We’ve got a heartbeat!”
He then leaped right into the gunner’s seat and began to work the controls to position the guns in his sights on the Iron Vulture. A bit started by its movement, Melita steadily held herself and asked him: “Do you even know where to shoot?”
“Trust me, Melita,” he said with a wicked glint in his eye, “I know exactly where to hit it where it counts.”
I’ve wanted to do this for years…
Binding their wrists tightly with rope, all the Prowler crewmembers were held captive by the Air Pirates on the main upper deck, taunted by their captors over their predicament. “Well, well, well,” said a bemused Karnage to his now-humbled audience, “if it isn’t the most uglified sons of mangy hamsters who tried to shoot me down a couple of years ago, yes-no?”
“Since you have been very naughty, naughty personages for trying to shoot at the great Don Karnage, I wonder what we shall be doing with you? Dump you overboard for the hungry sharks? Sell your pathetic, worthless hides to the Azanian slave traders on the cheapskate? Or maybe –”
Gibber interrupted his commander’s rambling soliloquy by whispering into his ear. Listening thoroughly, a gleefully evil expression crossed his face.
“Hmmm…excellento idea!! Men – prepare the lifeboats! Our most unwelcome passengers will be disembarking! Supply each boat with one can of baked beans, and to make it a little more challenging,” Karnage added wryly, “absolutely no can openers!”
The Air Pirates laughed uproariously as they went to follow their captain’s orders, when suddenly one of the battle guns erupted into action with three load rounds that made direct hits at the Iron Vulture. Onboard the flying vessel, the remaining skeleton crew were rocked by the explosions, followed by smoke, shouts of confusion and hastily scrambling to reach to what appeared to be targeted areas of the front propeller stand and one of the main engines bursting into flames.
Karnage, seeing this on deck of the Prowler, was enraged at the sight.
“Who…is…making…that…boom-boom…at…my…SHIP?!” he roared, whipping around and seeing the active battle gun. Pointing to it, he ordered: “Shoot at that turret, men!! A lot!!!”
Inside turret Number Four, Kit was most pleased with his aim at the dreaded airship. “Yee-haw!! Take that, Karnage!”
Then, the plinking of a thousand bullets ricocheted off the turret, sparks flying on occasion near the opening slit. Melita fell to the floor for cover, while Kit just missed a few as he abandoned the controls and dropped onto the deck with the she-canine.
“Was this part of the diversion plan, Cloudkicker?!” yelled the Moltese above the barrage.
As they quickly picked themselves up from the deck, the navigator grabbed her hand and answered: “Yep! Now let’s make some serious taillights!”
“Cease firing, men!” Karnage shouted after a moment. “This one…is mine!!”
The two young confederates were about to leave the turret when out of the corner of his eye, Kit glanced through the slit momentarily that turned his blood into pure ice: the wolf leader was now holding a large grenade-launcher and dead in his sights!
“RUN!!!” he screamed, pushing his comely partner hastily out the door.
With gritted teeth and naked aggression, Karnage pulled the trigger and the rocket-propelled grenade zoomed toward its target. As the bear and she-canine made a few paces down the corridor, the lethal projectile slammed directly into the turret, creating a mighty explosion and giant fireball.
Inside, the last things Kit remembered was a brilliant flash, leaping onto the shrieking Melita to shield her body from the blast, a humongous rumble and roar that violently shook the hallway and ripped viciously through his eardrums, a swirling pasticcio of yellows, oranges and reds coming towards them, hurtling through the air in a flush of blackened smoke and finally, feeling the excruciating slamming of his skull against the steel wall; sinking into the deep darkness of his consciousness.
End of Part Eighteen
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