“I’m descended from Alexander Cooke, who worked his way up from an indentured stagehand to an actor in the King’s Men, alongside old Bill Shakespeare.”


“Our Cervantes,” said Cooke. “I imagine the plays and poems haven’t been translated yet, but they’re terrific at cheering you up if you’re in a bad mood or darkening your mood if you’re too cheerful, which is a very neat trick common to great scriblarians.”

“If he’s anything like Cervantes, your ancestor was a lucky man…even if he had to laugh through his tears,” said María Nereida.

“He was lucky,” Cooke said. “His son–also Alexander–was able to turn his inheritance into a plantation in the New World. He was also able to use it to get away from his wife in London.”

“I sense that your mother was not appreciative of that,” María Nereida said.

“I think she was less appreciative of that than the fact that she wasn’t my mother,” laughed Cooke. “My father took his son with him to the New World and then met my mother when he bought her in Jamaica. It was quite the scandal.”

“Why is that?”

“You have to understand that we Englishmen have a different and much less enlightened view of such things than you Spaniards,” Cooke said. “As the child of my father’s property, I was property myself. He was a good man, more or less. He freed Mother and I even as he kept her kinsmen in bondage, and he brought my half-brother and I up as equals and educated us in the running of his plantation.”

“But things surely did not stay happy, or else you would be there and not here.”

“That’s one way of putting it,” Cooke laughed ruefully. “When Father died, Anthony wasn’t content with a half-share of the plantation. He took the whole thing, and added to his profit by selling me.”

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“King Philip V is wracked by illness and madness, and his son and heir Louis is a simpleton who even his wife refuses to see,” Exposito cackled from behind the bars. “What a wonderful opportunity this presents to a man of vision and initiative! The Viceroy Balthazar prepares to sail to Spain to take up residence as majordomo of the palace on the strength of his campaigns against the pirates infesting our waters and the remarkable innovation of the so-called Spanish Plate and the Spanish Cannon.”

“Is that it, then?” said Hume. “He was building his power here to return to Spain in triumph?”

“Or so he thinks!” Exposito cried, hurling himself at the bars. “Little does he realize that it has all been my doing! I am a native son of this land, born here and raised here, the Corregidor of Veracruz. Everything that passes from the New World to the Old must also pass through my fingers. I built myself up from nothing, because the visions have told me that I must.”

“You’re mad,” Hume spat, “and your visions are just the ravings of a lunatic Balthazar keeps on a chain so that he might have a mad dog to unleash when it suits him.”

“Of course you would say that; you foul pirates lack vision and purpose. It is simple, pure, and revealed to me with a blinding light when I came into myself.” Exposito leered at Hume, his eyes wide and mad behind the iron. “For I am the beast spoken of in Revelations, destined to lay the world low in chaos and despair that it might be redeemed through suffering. Don’t you see? Only with the emergence of the Beast, with chaos and hardship, may the way be paved for redemption and the Redeemer. Those I kill are sent to their own just rewards, and those that suffer will be assumed unto their own once the trumpets sound.”

“Madness,” said Hume. “Utter lunacy.”

“To the contrary, it all makes so much sense! Of course it would be an Expositio, abandoned by family to a wasting death in the wilderness, a product of both worlds, who would bring this about. Of course the New World would have the means to accomplish the Revelation and the end times. And to that end I will have the viceroyalty, I will control that fool Balthazar and that greater fool Louis on the throne, and I will redeem this world through the agony and ecstasy of divine will.”

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“What did the Spaniards want with Natty Cove?” Hume asked. His Spanish was quite good, if heavily accented; anyone who hoped to make a living off the Spanish Main did well to learn the tongue needed to demand a surrender.

“I don’t know,” the nun said stubbornly. “I was their prisoner, and they–like you–do not regularly bring prisoners into their confidence.”

“Why were you their prisoner?” Hume asked. “You took up the space in their hold usually reserved for gold and treasure; I’ve got a crew of angry corsairs wondering how they’re going to take a 1/100 share of a nun, and every answer you give me will help dissuade them from the more immoral thoughts they entertain.”

“Is that a threat?” said the nun. “Or a poor attempt at parley? Either way, I’ve nothing to offer you. I am a simple Sister of Our Lady of Veracruz, taken against my will from my convent and my service to the Lord on the orders of I know not who.”

“Somehow, I doubt that all the Sisters of Our Lady of Veracruz know how to boot a man in the bollocks to try and swim for it.” Hume said drily.

“On the contrary, sir, Veracruz is full of buccaneers and pirates of every stripe, many with commissions from the King, and we in the Sisters are first taught how to defend our honor as brides of Christ. And my mother was a fine swimmer who taught me much. I would wager that I could outswim any man jack of your crew if you’d let me get to brine.”

Hume cradled his head in his hands. “Look, Sister. Four ships were sunk in getting you spring of those irons, and nearly five hundred men gave their lives in front of your galleon’s bewitched Spanish Cannon. What am I to tell the men to which I’m beholden?”

“Tell them that they have my thanks,” replied the nun, “and that the abbess of my convent will reward in gold any crew willing to ensure my safe return.”

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“After you, Mister Cooke.”

Cooke stepped forward with “Old Irontooth,” his favored blunderbuss, packed with a double powder charge and a handful of grapeshot. “Old Irontooth” made a very eloquent argument, worthy of Demosthenes, to the Spanish lock. Seeing the error of its ways, the lock yielded to persuasion.

“Remember, boys,” Hume said. “Much as we mourn our fellows, the fact is that through their sacrifice we’ve all got more of a share of the golden treasure in the hold.”

Cooke made a gruff noise and kicked in the door. The lanterns revealed…piles of shot and shell, a Spaniard dead from a wooden splinter to the eye, and a powder charge smoldering mere inches from a heap of gunpowder. That, and a prisoner clapped in irons: a young woman in the habit of a missionary nun.

“This treasure leaves something to be desired, skipper,” Cooke deadpanned.

“Abandon ship!” Hume barked. There was no dousing that powder charge, not in time to be sure that the sparks thrown up wouldn’t ignite the entire magazine. Cooke gave his skipper a look as the men took a powder to flee the burning powder.

“Yes, yes, of course,” Hume grumbled. He pulled a brace of pistols from his quartermaster’s rig and blasted through the chains restraining the nun. She could be useful as a hostage, or something. She was clearly in shock, and allowed the boarding buccaneers to carry her limply topside.

Hume continued to bark orders to his men, only cutting the grapples when he was satisfied that all of them were clear. They worked the Fancy Rat free with gaffs, but it had only made a quarter-league’s distance when the Nuestra Señora erupted. It wasn’t enough to sink the Rat, any more than the explosion of the Surprise had been to put the Nuestra Señora herself under, but the sails were torn, ropes were parted, and wood was splintered even as the deck was sprayed with red-hot debris.

And, at that moment, the nun opened her eyes and delivered a sharp kick to Cooke’s stones. Her ruse of shock falling away, she wriggled free of his grasp and made a dash for the gunwales and freedom.

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Pulled almost directly alongside Nuestra Señora, the Surprise let loose a full broadside at point blank range as the Spaniards were reloading their guns. It was a volley that would have left any other ship a splintered hulk, but the galleon’s mysterious Spanish Plate was too great an obstacle, and the shot bounced off as if fired into a sheet of iron.

In response, the Nuestra Señora ran out her own Spanish guns. Hume could see men aboard the Surprise dropping their ramrods and grapples and fleeing, well remembering what had happened to the Gunway II. But it was too late; the Nuestra Señora roared her Spanish Cannon and the Surprise was obliterated. Its magazine blew, ripping the ship in two and flinging men and cannon in all directions. Those who had made it into the water before the explosion were dragged screaming below by the suction of the submerging wreck.

“Keep ‘er steady, boys!” cried Hume. To their credit, the crew of the Fancy Rat didn’t break or run despite what they’d seen befall the other ships in their flotilla. Hume had a moment of grim thought–the boys knew that they’d be sent to the bottom running as surely as they would fighting–before he gave to order to board. “We’ll give ’em a surprise as a remembrance of our mates now perished!”

The Fancy Rat had approached from astern as the Nuestra Señora had been distracted by vaporizing the Gunway II and Surprise. Hume had his men run out onto the prow with grapples, and at his mark the men threw them. It wasn’t the traditional way to grapple with a foe, which was usually done gunwale to gunwale, but the Nuestra Señora had none of her bewitched Spanish Cannon to the rear. At the same time the first grapples were tossed out, Hume threw the Rat‘s rudder hard to port; this brought the ship’s gunwale perpendicular to Nuestra Señora‘s stern. With ladders and grapples, Hume and his men could board Nuestra Señora from the rear like a Port Royal courtesan.

Hume led his men personally, with their first order of business to silence the gunners. The Spanish Cannon they fired were the most potent weapons the seas had seen since the secret of Greek Fire had been lost, but without men to touch them off, they were so much ballast, and the muskets the Spanish marines bore seemed to have no such enchantment. As luck would have it, the Spaniards to port were too intent on taking aim at the Duke of New York, which had turned and made sail to flee the engagement.

“Take ’em out, boys!” Hume howled.

It was too late; the Spanish Cannon roared and the Duke of New York vanished in a pillar of flame and screaming. It was a hollow triumph, though; still flatfooted by the rear boarding, the Spaniards manning the deck cannons were swept away by a volley of musketry. The others abandoned their guns as the shouted order was passed along: “¡Todas las manos! ¡Repeler asaltantes!”

Hume grinned, and drove the point of his cutlass into a deck officer’s rib cage. “Let’s see how they do in a fair fight!”

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This column, a response to the previous columns by William “Black Bill” Cubbins IV and Felisa Lloyd Matsumura-Tamaribuchi is from Poe Edminster-Caar. Dr. Edminster-Caar is a professor of Undead Studies at Ravensholme University in New England and the author of the controversial undead rights book “I Am Zombie.” As one of the first openly zombie faculty members at a major North American university, Dr. Edminster-Caar has won five ZAAD awards and the prestigious Golden Brain trophy from the Swedish Zombie Academy.

I was, as ever, amused to see the childish infighting between pirate affairs commentator “Black Bill” Cubbins and ninja activist Felisa Matsumura-Tamaribuchi in these pages. One can predict their scrapes with almost clockwork efficiency, point and counterpoint, attempts at serious discourse by one hijacked in favor of shrill condemnation by the other, all in the service of flogging their pet horses in the ridiculously named “Pirate-Ninja Peace Process.” Which, as Voltaire might quip, involves neither pirates, nor ninjas, nor peace, nor a process.

It matters not, though, because in the end they will all taste the same when they are devoured by zombies.

I have been accused, occasionally, by living commentators of militantly pushing an “undead agenda” and attempting to pervert the young and the impressionable into taking up a zombie lifestyle. Implicit in that is the backwards notion that zombiehood is a “deathstyle choice” or acceptance of the abhorrent “resurrection camps” where people attempt to “cure” zombies, as if we are suffering from some sort of affliction or disease. I am certainly more reasonably in my pursuits than Mr. Cubbins or Ms. Matsumura-Tamaribuchi, I think, though not for any lack of passion.

Rather, I am confident that time is on my side and that history will prove that we zombies are the ultimate solution to the “pirate-ninja peace process” and indeed all societal problems. Once we’ve all grown enlightened enough to learn that zombiehood is as natural as being alive, and is in fact preferable, we can all agree that laying down and accepting living death will solve all the world’s problems. Mr. Cubbins and Ms. Matsumura-Tamaribuchi are united in their opposition to undead rights, perhaps the only thing they do agree on, but even now any country or municipality that bans open zombiehood is experiencing a brain drain to more undead-friendly locales, and whether by persuasion or open bitings on the street, zombies will soon render both pirates and ninjas obsolete, with those that resist shown the error of their ways through the devouring of their delectable brain matter.

History is on our side; we will exhume you.

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Yesterday’s post by Willam “Black Bill” Cubbins has elicited the following response from Felisa Lloyd Matsumura-Tamaribuchi. Ms. Matsumura-Tamaribuchi is a noted participant in the Occupy Treasure Island movement, the Sharper Blades, Sharper Minds katana outreach program, and the United Ninja College Fund. She is a current Distinguished Daimyo at Kaizoku University and is the Tokugawa Chair of Shinobi Studies there.

I actually find myself agreeing with the vile corsair “Black Bill” Cubbins when he wrote in his recent column warning against cultural misappropriation and lack of diversity within “Talk Like A Pirate Day,” a pseudo-holiday that no doubt many of he and his fellow repulsive buccaneers would like wiped off the face of the earth in as much as it highlights their inability to form articulate and coherent thoughts and sentences and their predisposition to plunder and violence.

But I would go even farther than “Black Bill” and argue that he and his race and their expansionist piratism are guilty of the very charges with which they seek to tar and muzzle their opponents. After all, what is the pirate-promoted image of the ninja as a violent and mercenary group of assassins but cultural misappropriation? What is the racist, xenophobic, colon-blocking, and meteor-summoning pirate occupation and oppression of ninja islands of spice and gold if not a lack of diversity? Humanity may be a beautiful rainbow, but it is clear that pirates are the reddest part of that rainbow, unable to communicate except by cannon fire and boardings in what they hypocritically call self-defense.

What about the Battle of Kagishuma Shrine Island which “Black Bill” mentioned in passing? Even though pirates claim to have given up their claims to that sacred outpost of ninjadom, they saw fit to invade it again over the summer, cannons and flintlocks blazing. By rough estimates compiled by the Ninjauthority, a completely impartial and independent group, over 200,000 ninjas died in the assault out of a prewar population of 200,001. And all that just because the ninjas of that peaceful island were exercising their sacred right, as ingrained at the bedrock of our culture and heritage, to raid passing pirate galleons and stuff the flayed skins of their crews with straw for use as targeting dummies. The pirate-run media has, of course, only taken their side in the matter through their biased reporting of ninjas going into battle wearing their own children as armor (which anyone with five minutes and Wikipedia knows is actually both a sacred tradition and a necessity on tiny Kagishuma Shrine Island).

In short, we must take “Black Bill” Cubbins at his word every “Talk Like A Pirate Day,” and indeed every day of the year, by pledging our lives and our treasure to the cause of throwing every last pirate back into the sea and slaughtering them to a man in the name of the peaceful ninja peoples.

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