• thescarletderby

SDMJ Classic: The Siege of Korsage

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

It was a dark and stormy morning, one of those misty, clammy, days that London frequently has to offer. Spending the day with a shade of water droplets hitting one in the face was bad enough, but it just so happened The Scarlet Derby and Midnight Jay were at the London docks, standing just outside the open door of a seemingly abandoned warehouse. Their arms were folded and their masks soaked with rainwater as they listened intently to an examination made by Chief Constable Howard O’Gratin.

“Let’s cut to the chase: this is the third time in two months that we’ve searched this place and turned up these suspect artifacts. Contraband. All varied objects with but one thing in common: their illegality.” The Constable walked up to The Derby and Jay, handing them each an object from the opened crates behind him.

The Derby ran his gloves across the smooth glass orb given to him by The Constable. “Twice blown with a reinforced tungsten core…If I’m not mistaken, this was once at the center of a Tesla-branded death ray blueprint.” “Tesla’s ray was but a pipe-dream, dear,” The Jay replied.

“It doesn’t mean someone can’t give it the old college try,” The Derby stated simply.

The Jay brought her object to her hands, and looked through the green tinted glass into the liquid inside. “Seems like ordinary blood wine.”

“It would be, except it’s made from actual blood,” The Constable explained. “It is distributed by a tribe in deepest Africa that engages in ritual bloodletting.”

“How absolutely vulgar,” The Jay shuddered.

“That’s not the worst of it, we have a third crate in here that we’ve re-sealed, containing several pounds of raw Asian Elephant steak.” The Constable cleared his throat. “So, what do you make of it?”

“Well,” The Derby said glibly, “I would say you’re dealing with either a well-traveled smuggler, or some sort of heavily-armed, ultra-carnivorous vampire.” “That’s very droll of you, Derby,” The Constable paused to strike a match on a nearby crate and draw the tiny flame to his pipe. “Do you perhaps have a suggestion about how to deal with this smuggler?”

“There’s really only one way to catch a seafarer, Constable, and that’s with a dragnet.” The Derby looked out towards the width of the River Thames stretched out before them, and gave a nod.

“If only I could provide one,” The Constable took a regrettable puff. “After that whole debacle with Mother Mandrake a good deal of my men understandably put in their two weeks’ vacation.”

“I have a sneaking suspicion that’s not the type of ‘dragnet’ he’s thinking of…” The Jay said pensively.

Before long, The Jay’s suspicions were affirmed, for as the sun began to set, The Derby and the Jay stood outside the suspicious warehouse looking out towards what appeared to be an enormous fishing net. It was held up by two broad posts made from the masts of an old clipper ships, and had netting made from two inch thick ropes that spread from one side of the river to the other and dove at least ten feet beneath the water, deeper than the two heroes could even see.

“And to think you already had part of this done in your workshop,” The Jay said, a reluctant amount of sheer amazement in her voice. “Where did you even have it stored?”

“Anything is compact when it’s not fully built,” The Derby said anecdotally. “The net is set up just distantly enough either way down the river for a boat to get close to the warehouse without making it. Once they’ve run up against the net we’ll have just enough time amidst the confusion to hop aboard and…”

“And?” The Jay raised an eyebrow.

“And hope that they haven’t figured out how that Tesla ray works,” The Derby cleared his throat.

And so, The Scarlet Derby and Midnight Jay set about the task of diligently watching out for the unknown smuggler’s ship. Hours went by, with the two heroes taking turns either keeping lookout or searching the warehouse for clues.

“Find anything yet, dear?” The Jay called back towards the warehouse, turning her head away from her opera glasses when she detected The Derby approaching her side. 

“I’m afraid not,” The Derby gave an anguished sigh. “I must say, for a whole shack’s worth of contraband, it’s surprisingly clean. This certainly is an efficient criminal we’re dealing with.” “Perhaps he prides himself on his business acumen,” The Jay suggested, “One hundred percent customer satisfaction guaranteed, and all that?” “That’s absurd. An illegal goods trader would be lucky to make off with such oddities with his skin intact.” The Derby spun away from his wife, and crossed his arms. The Jay perked, up, raising her head in line with the angle she pointed her opera glasses, “Wait, I think I see something!” The Derby turned back, crooking his neck over The Jay’s shoulder as though he tried to look through her lenses himself. “What do you see? Is it a ship? Did the net actually work?” “Well, it’s certainly a ship, but I don’t think your net will be very effective.” The Jay tilted her opera glass far enough to one side for The Derby to see out a single lens. The Derby gave an astonished gasp. Out there in the distance, just peeking through the fog-covered river, was a proud sailing vessel. “Looks like a schooner, of army surplus, I suppose.” “I didn’t peg you as an expert of sailing ships,” The Jay said drolly. “I’m not, but I’ve been reading a lot of old seafaring novels…When do you suppose it will hit the dock?” “There’s no reason for it to hit the dock, dear. Look further up.”

The Derby tilted his head and gave another astonished gasp. Just above the schooner, where the two major masts would be, was a gigantic gas-filled balloon. It was tied to the vessel by rows and rows of sailor’s rope, the ship beneath it teetering to and fro as though it were the basket of a hot air balloon.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” The Derby said in awe. “It’s nothing less than a stroke of engineering genius.”

“I wouldn’t get too enamored. Odds are that ship is the one carrying our baddie.” The Jay advised. The airborne ship-balloon drew towards the docks, stopping fifty feet away, and above, the net set out by The Derby to capture it. Now that they were able to see the vessel with their plain sight, they could see rope ladders being tossed over all sides, and several spry looking men in nautical tatters quickly hopping onto the ropes and climbing down with the synchronicity of trained soldiers. Once the men reached the floor of the dock, they called up, and a brigade of crates began to pass from the deck of the ship onto the floor with the same level of practice and synchronicity. Slowly strolling to one of the ladders was a man who, from a great distance nearly resembled a black bear. Casually, that man strolled over to one of the rope ladders, taking his sweet time as he descended. When his black boots struck the wooden docks they nearly shook as though he’d made a minor earthquake.

As he approached The Derby and Jay, they both took guarded stances, immediately preparing for a fight. It certainly would be a daunting one, however. While he was not much taller than either of the two heroes, he made up for that lack of height with a monstrous amount of girth, enough to create three leaner men standing toe-to-heel. Adding to his immense width was the wild mane of auburn-colored hair which stuck out in every which direction from behind his head, and framing his face in the form of a large scraggly beard. While his hair was unkempt, he dressed in royal Russian finery: a black fur coat lined with a golden threaded trim and a furred hat which added a full foot to his height. Stopping just inches from our two heroes, he leaned forward, examining the two of them at mask level. Then he raised himself again, a hand on his beard and gently said. “Is welcoming party, yes? I not expect a costume ball. Maybe this what you call…Halloween?”

His voice was soft, despite the very thick accent in which it was spoken. No amount of gentleness, however, would have kept The Scarlet Derby from taking great insult at the Russian man’s callous words.

“You’d be wise to watch your tongue, vile interloper,” The Derby warned. “Behind this mask, you are peering into the very eyes of England’s just son!”

“Ah, you are police, then? And I thought ours wore funny jackets…” the man reached over to pinch the corner of The Derby’s cape. The Derby rapidly swung his cape back onto his shoulder and swooped close, standing chest to chest.

“I tell you that I’m the crime-fighting hero of this little berg, and your flying craft is illegally parked!”

“Oh no, policeman, is not parked. Craft is hovering!” The man gestured to the floating ship, which indeed still retained a respectable distance from any point of land.

“I think he may have you there, dear,” The Jay said from the sidelines, holding a hand to her cheek, and wearing an amused grin.

“Whose side are you on?” The Derby spat over his shoulder, and then turned back to the man. “I demand proper identification. A privateer’s license would be best, but I’d need at least a birth certificate.” “

I am pirate, with no need for papers,” The man replied. “My true name holds no meaning. If you should call me one, it should be this: I am corsair who can fight like savage, I am….Corsage.”

“As in the flower?” The Jay asked with a chuckle.

“I’m sorry?” The man raised an eyebrow.

“Clearly, English is not your preferred language,” The Jay said drolly. “You should know that a corsage is what we call an ornate flower worn around a woman’s wrist.”

The Derby heaved a sigh, “Good grief, don’t we usually get this brand of malarkey when we battle The Tin Tuna?”

“What if I spell with a ‘k’?” The man asked.

“Sure, whatever,” The Derby replied.

“Good. Now that is known, I have some work to do, please and thanks.” Korsage tipped the brim of his tall furred cap and took a step backward from The Derby. As soon as he had spun around, he found himself facing The Jay, and the tip of her fencing umbrella.

“I’m afraid it’s not that simple,” she began to explain “We’re putting you under arrest for the crime of peddling contraband through these English docks.” “Contraband? What is this contraband?” Korsage sounded surprised in a way that sounded genuinely naïve.

The Jay gave a hard groan. She didn’t know whether the strange foreign man did not understand what he was doing to be a crime, or if he just didn’t comprehend the word. “You’re bringing things into this country that we consider to be against the law.”

“What which I sell you think are against law?” Korsage shook his head in denial “Nonsense, I thought you English believed in…free enterprise.”

“Free enterprise is one thing,” The Derby said pointedly “But as a nation it is our decision to ban certain items including but not limited to dangerous weaponry, the spoils of barbaric hunting practices, and things like those disgusting bottles of blood wine.”

“Oh? Who made choice that such items were dangerous?” Korsage sneered. “Why, our parliament, a group of our leaders duly elected by our people, as well as the queen and all her royalty!” The Jay declared.

“Bah, is foolish law,” Korsage dismissed. “Written by foolish few to oppress many, I see no reason for my boxes to touch your shore that should be seen as crime.”

“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice, Korsage!” The Derby declared, holding his cane at the ready “You’ve set upon our shores, therefore you obey our rules.”

“Korsage thinks not…” Korsage snapped his fingers, and the many busy sailors who were working diligently in the background surrounded our two heroes with fists raised, and weapons in their hands. Now that they were all brought together in a menacing mob, they seemed to rank in the dozens.

“You see, policemen, Korsage is a leader of men also. Would queen and parliament come to your rescue, if mine stayed you where you stand?”

As the Derby turned back to back with the Jay, raising their weapons in preparation for a struggle, The Derby turned to The Jay, and out of the side of his mouth stated. “He sure has a lot of pirates, hasn’t he?”

“More than Silas Monstrosity has henchmen, or The Tin Tuna has disciples,” The Jay replied.

“It’s amazing that he was able to fit them all on that tiny airborne schooner,” The Derby said drolly.

“Perhaps he didn’t. Rather, he had a few of them posted here on the docks previously to receive the shipments,” The Jay explained.

“I suppose it would be too much to ask you to take them all on,” The Derby asked.

“Even I’d have a hard time fighting this many,” The Jay said wearily. “Our best bet would be to attempt to battle our way away from the docks and onto the main street. Then come back with as many reinforcements as The Constable can actually spare.”

“I love when a plan comes together. Very well, let’s-” The Derby was interrupted by a blow to the head by a wooden club. He immediately collapsed to the street in a daze, leaving The Jay to stand alone against Korsage’s loyal forces. As they slowly advanced towards her, she held her umbrella at the ready, holding a martial stance that served as a shield between the mass of Korsage’s men and the unconscious Derby.

“Hold!” Korsage’s booming voice sounded over the heads of everyone across the docks. The portly leader of the assembled gang slid between a few of his sailor’s shoulders, until he stood just feet from The Jay.

“To punish a country’s police for an unfair crime, would be fair,” Korsage stated gently “But I feel not the need to send this many against single woman.” “Send as many as you want, and we’ll see how many I leave standing,” The Jay growled.

Korsage gave a chortle, “You are spirited, policewoman. It shall make this next plan go over neatly.” Korsage’s large burly hands grasped The Jay’s shoulders, wrenching her to the side, and catching her in a grip under his right arm. She struggled to get loose, but found the foreign man’s immense girth possessing enough strength to make escape futile.

The Derby shook his head free of the daze brought on by the blow to his head. He scrambled to his feet, returning his hat to his head. When he looked up, he saw Korsage halfway up his ship’s rope ladder, carrying the struggling Midnight Jay under his shoulder.

“Go back and tell your other policemen, that from here on, dock and all property now belong to Korsage and his pirate crew!” Korsage shouted. “Then I shall return to you this policewoman!”

The Derby watched helplessly as the flying ship lifted away from the dock, leaving him to confront the mass of Korsage’s loyal crew, who remained on the dock, staring daggers in the direction of the hero. Without any defense, and anything to say to the unruly mob, The Derby merely tipped his hat and shuffled off of the docks.

The Derby made his way back to the London streets, his mind rapidly calculating his next move. While her abduction was unfortunate, The Derby recalled that it was, in fact, part of The Jay’s plan to retreat the docks, regroup, and return with enough resources to put an end to this sudden revolt. However, to put all that in motion he’d have to begin by heading to The Constable’s office, and letting him know how terribly awful the whole excursion had gone.

Nevertheless, The Derby was soon at the police station explaining from beginning to end everything about Korsage, his crewmen, the siege of the docks, and The Jay’s abduction. It was an understatement to say that by the end of it, The Constable wore an expression of weaponized disappointment.

“Well, I have to say, Derby, that I’m absolutely dumbfounded,” The Constable murmured. “I’ve never known the two of you to so handily lose a conflict, but it seems this Korsage fellow has us in check.”

“Well, I wouldn’t quite say that, Constable.” The Derby said firmly. “For the time being, I’m still free and prepared to dole out a striking blow to the tyranny of this mad foreigner! All I need is a solid plan…I don’t suppose calling in the French Foreign Legion is an option.”

“Your sense of humor, as usual, totally baffles me,” The Constable huffed. “To think you can make such droll gags while The Jay remains abducted.”

“Ah yes, I see now!” The Derby’s voice rose with sudden enthusiasm. “Korsage did make but one fatal mistake: he kidnapped The Jay!”

“That is NOT a good thing!” The Constable scolded.

“No, Constable, it’s brilliant! You see, as long as I’ve known The Jay, she has never tolerated a kidnapping longer than a few minutes. I’m certain that as we speak, she is on deck mounting a one-woman resistance that’ll knock the wool out of that old Russian’s beard.”

“That is an awful broad certainty, Derby,” The Constable said wearily. “If I were you I’d be more concerned for her safety.”

“I see no need,” The Derby said, crossing his arms. “Anyway, you should work on putting together as many of London’s finest as possible, while I find a tall enough building from where I’ll watch the fireworks.”

And with that, The Derby left the company of the Constable, with the Constable still looking absolutely baffled as to why a man of The Derby’s heroism could leave his partner in the clutches of such a fiendish man. However callous it may have seemed.

The Derby’s assumption was absolutely correct, for at that very moment, Midnight Jay was already hard at work in her daring escape. Just moments after she was dragged on board the mysterious flying vessel, she was taken to a room no bigger than a closet, where her hands were bound above her head using wall-mounted manacles. Once she was certain that she wasn’t being watched, she inhaled deeply, and with deep focus of her concentration, slowly wriggled her wrist free of a single manacle.

The Jay was prepared to take that free hand and unlatch from the other restraint, when the door swung back open with Korsage on the other side. A practiced swiveling of his wide frame permitted him to stand just outside the door, unfortunately also blocking The Jay’s only clear path to freedom.

“So, here you are…” The Jay said, her voice fierce. “I suggest that you do your worst, because if you fail to in even the slightest way, I assure you, I’ll make you bleed just as badly.”

“I’m sorry?” Korsage’s head bobbed left and right, clearly confused by The Jay’s threat. “I have read enough seafaring novels to expect what you have planned, pirate,” The Jay hissed. “You won’t find me to be some meek maiden, though.”

“Policewoman, it is unfortunate for me to say” Korsage’s tone was droll, and even through his thick accent there was the thinnest veil of sarcasm. “You are…not my type.’” Korsage reached forward with one hand and unlatched the second manacle, letting The Jay’s hand free.

“You’re releasing me?” The Jay asked, her previously fierce mood washed over with confusion. “But you only just captured me.”

“I did not capture. You were raving angry, so I put you in chains until you were calm,” Korsage said sternly. “If you don’t feel you wish to make Korsage bleed, I will allow you on deck.”

Korsage turned and walked clear of the doorway, leaving The Jay to rub her un-cuffed wrist and look confused towards the open deck of the ship. She approached the still open doorway with much trepidation. She wasn’t yet sure she could trust Korsage. He seemed to be saying one thing, and doing another. That was supposing the often incorrect words he spoke in his broken English actually did reflect what he was plotting.

Standing far enough in the center of the deck that she could see flecks of moonlight reflected in the misty clouds, she stood guarded, half prepared for a second ambush. What she saw was an ornate table made of finely polished wood, and a pair of equally ornate chairs. Korsage sat in the chair facing The Jay, holding his left cheek against the clenched fist of his hand, and his elbow against the table.

When she approached, Korsage straightened, and the hand which held his head made a welcome open palmed gesture across the table. “There you are. Please. Sit.”

The Jay shot a dull expression towards the empty chair and asked “What do you call this: A hostage negotiation? Perhaps this is beginning of some diplomatic show of strength?”

“I call it tea.” Korsage snapped his finger three times in the air. From a nearby door, a thin wisp of a man shuffled forward, holding a finely polished silver tea set with sugar, biscuits, and jam. As he approached, he bobbed left and right along with the rocking of the airborne vessel’s deck, until he reached the table. Then, with a gentle smile and a bow he placed the tea tray.

“Thank you, Lyosh,” Korsage said, then turned to The Jay, pointing a finger in the direction of their server. “This is Lyosh, he is Korsage’s first mate.”

He had almost a boyish look to him, with a roundish crop of pale blonde hair that curled behind his ears, and a pair of bright blue eyes. But the lines of his face gave his age away. The Jay couldn’t imagine him to be any younger than thirty. He wore a tunic of soft blue silks in a cut as ornate as his captain’s with silver leggings underneath and green fabric slippers which tapered to a fine point at the end.

Lyosh bowed again, his knees knocking together as she did. The Jay gave a friendly nod and a smile of assurance, but that didn’t lessen the nervous look in his eye.

She turned back to Korsage, her expression flattening again. “I didn’t expect a self-described pirate to indulge in formal tea.”

“You would prefer maybe vodka?” The grin beneath Korsage’s beard twisted into a smirk. “In Russia, we have saying about tea. What comes after tea, Lyosh?”

“Resurrection of the dead,” Lyosh recited.

“Sounds a bit morbid of a saying to me,” The Jay said drolly.

“Not at all,” Korsage seemed to inflate with indignation. “It means we enjoy this one tea, and many other teas until day comes when we’re all brought to our reward.”

The Jay was taken aback, “Well I must say, that almost sounds faithful….For…uh…”

“For what?! For Russian?!” Korsage huffed, sending an open palm upon the tea table and rattling all the dishes. “Do English think you own all noble thoughts as well? Korsage has flown this ship around world, and only on these shores do I get disrespect! ”

Lyosh went immediately to Korsage’s side, running both his hands along his captain’s wide shoulders. “Do\ watch your temper. Remember what doctor said about blood pressure?”

Korsage gave a few deep huffs, and nodded, shakily, while one of his hands ran from the top of his forehead to the bottom of his beard. “Yes, yes, I know. It is fine, I will be okay.”

“Is there anything, I can do?” Lyosh said soothingly, his hands still softly kneading Korsage’s shoulders. He gave an airy gasp. “Perhaps you would like your minkie?”

“Not now,” Korsage groaned. “We have guest.”

“Oh, but it’s been a long evening. I know you would like your minkie now.” Lyosh darted immediately to the door from which he emerged, which the Jay assumed was Korsage’s cabin, and came back out holding a wide piece of fabric. It could only have been a blanket, knitted from thick strands of wool, with diamond-like patterns knit inside and tassels which dangled in rows from all its corners.

Lyosh wasted no time in draping the blanket over Korsage’s shoulders. The tassels dangled around the weighty pirate’s midsection. Korsage instinctively bent his elbows upward enough so that they too would fit under the comfort of this most personal blanket.

“Do you feel better now you have minkie?” Lyosh said cooingly, his hands returning to pat Korsage on the back.

“I feel better now with minkie, thank you Lyosh,” Korsage replied dully. While his eyes still remained hard focused on The Jay, he also rocked back and forth in his chair, appreciating the warmth of his new covering. “Now, please stand aside, da? We have important matter to discuss with policewoman.”

Lyosh gave a smile and a firm nod, before standing between Korsage and The Jay at the tea battle, just as he was before.

“You have to forgive Lyosh,” Korsage told The Jay firmly. “We are always sailing, for that he worries about my health…”

The Jay simply stood dumbfounded. There were few moments when the erudite heiress and heroine had not a single witty thing to say. This was one of those moments.

Meanwhile, just a mile or so from the pirate-laden docks, The Scarlet Derby sat perched at the base of a tall water tower. He made good on his declaration to the Constable by keeping watch over the situation through a pair of binoculars. His were one of the finest, engineered by The Derby’s own hands to see as far as a pair of convex lenses would allow. He could even zoom in until those aboard the deck of Korsage’s airborne vessel appeared as tiny ants walking back and forth across the wooden railings at either side.

That was precisely what The Derby was in the middle of doing, until he groaned in frustration and lowered the lenses from his eyes. “I don’t believe it. It’s been a whole forty-five minutes. I was almost certain Mary Jane would have caused enough of a disruption to destabilize this whole mess by now. Come on, dear, we don’t have all night.”

He raised the binoculars to his eyes again, “It’s no use. I think I may be able to make out the top of Korsage’s silly hat, if my vision hasn’t gone blurry.”

“Hey! Derby!”

The Scarlet Derby followed the direction of the shouting with his lenses. Once he adjusted the focus, he could very clearly see the source. “Oh, there you are Constable! How did you get all the way up here?”

“I’m not up there! I’m on the ground!” The Constable shouted. “I have mobilized the entire active police force, and we’re all waiting to hear of your advancement tactics!”

The Derby immediately hopped over to his right, where the ladder reaching his perch at the water tower was fastened, sliding down quickly. He advanced with confidence to meet the Constable, and about six police officers.

“This…” The Derby asked wearily. “Is the entirety of the active police force?”

“I’m afraid so. As I said before, an encounter with that insidious Mother Mandrake is enough to have made many of them run for the hills. I can only hope that many of them are actually planning to come back.”

“Confound it!” The Derby swore. “Where did the backbone of this city go? We’re up against nothing less than the siege of Britain’s soil by a lone tyrant. Does such a horrendous discretion not make the just man’s blood boil?”

“Oh come off it, Derby!” The Constable huffed. “We originally thought this man was a mere smuggler. We weren’t expecting to fight a revolution…”

“Nobody expects a revolution. The true measure of a nation is how they are prepared to face one!”

The Derby and The Constable turned their heads. Just over the shoulders of a pair of The Constable’s remaining officers stood The Duchess Wilhemina De Nodont. The very woman who, despite having revealed herself as the elder sister of Silas Monstrosity, and also made an earnest attempt at exterminating The Scarlet Derby and Midnight Jay, still held royal jurisdiction over The Constable’s office.

“Ah, Duchess,” The Constable crooned. “What miracle could possibly bring you out on such a fine evening?”

“You may dispense with the pleasantries, Constable. One of your still on-duty officers has informed me of the whole situation.” The Duchess approached The Constable with all the grace of a charging bull, ramming an index finger of authority directly in the center of his chest. “How dare you let the reputation of the world’s finest police force quiver like an undercooked flan in the face of a single pirate! However small your force may have become, they should boldly approach such an indiscretion, and be absolutely ruthless!”

“Yes well,” The Derby interjected while rolling his eyes, “You would indeed know a thing or two about being absolutely ruthless.”

The Duchess’ furious gaze shifted rapidly from The Constable to The Derby, but quickly softened, and after a deep breath she patiently murmured. “Derby, you know that the two of us have had our…differences in the past-”

“That my dear is an understatement,” The Derby further jabbed.

“And even though I STILL think I’d be safer protected by a welsh corgi than any number of you costumed cretins!” She paused to clear her throat. “I’d be dipped in salted caramel before I allowed some airsick foreign miscreant try to lay claim to English soil. If I’m not mistaken, I believe you feel the same.”

“I’m not really that much of an English patriot, Duchess,” The Derby dismissed. “However, if you are suggesting a plan, I’d be more than grateful to accept your aid in rescuing Midnight Jay.”

“I have something better than a plan. I have an entire private security force at my disposal. Men who I’ve taken the precaution of filling with enough zealotry to stomp these foreign interlopers to the ground on sight, but

they’re missing just one thing: a commander. Are you interested?” After taking a moment to consider, The Derby gave a sly grin and sneered “I’m quite interested.”

As The Scarlet Derby and his new ally made their plans to seize the English dock back in the name of queen and country, Midnight Jay remained seated for tea on the deck of Korsage’s airborne vessel. Clinging tenaciously to his evening blanket, the Russian pirate continued to fumble over the words he’d use to legitimize his capture of the English dock, while his first mate continued to dote over him like a mother hen.

“Would you like biscuit?” Lyosh asked gently, pushing a small yeasty roll across the table.

“Yes. Lyosh, that would be kind.” Korsage reached from the depths of his blanket, but Lyosh quickly yanked the biscuit back, returning it to Korsage’s side after covering every corner of it with jam.

Korsage retracted his hand, “You need not jam it for me, Lyosh, I can do it myself, besides that has way too much. I don’t want jam on my minkie.”

“Oh, I am so sorry Korsage. I will fix this!” Lyosh slid Korsage another biscuit, this time with a dollop of jam no bigger than a raindrop resting on top. After a few more fleeting seconds, The Jay grew entirely weary of the comedy playing out in front of her. She cleared her throat and stated firmly. “While I’m sure you have perfectly logical reasons for your actions, you have to understand that no phrasing of your principles is going to make any patriotic Londoner accept your ownership of this dock.”

For the first moment of the evening, Korsage paused his quarreling with his first mate to twist his head in the direction of The Jay. “Me? Own the dock? No, policewoman. I have no interest in keeping English land. After all, I am pirate, no one dock could compare to my travel of entire globe.”

The Jay had a moment of revelation, she neared Korsage slightly and murmured “Korsage, what exactly do you mean when you say you’re a pirate?”

“When a man leaves country he’s from, that makes him pirate, da?”

The Jay shook her head, “When a person lives outside their country that makes them an expatriate. All this time you’ve been declaring yourself a pirate when you’re not.” The Jay gave an exasperated sigh. “All the same, it doesn’t change the fact that you still declared ownership of the dock over England.”

“I did not. It is as I said when we fled…” Korsage’s tone was matter of fact. “I wished that red policeman would tell your leaders to return all property they did not want to Korsage, and then I would return you and dock.”

“Well, it seems your phrasing of it at the moment made us all believe something else.” The Jay replied drolly.

“Oh no, this is an awful thing I’ve done, I have truly broken law,” Korsage suddenly became mournful and dejected, as she shifted around in his chair, fiddling with the tassels of his blanket. “I am afraid I got carried away as often I do.”

Lyosh quickly leapt from his position at the table to Korsage’s side, kneeling and pulling what he could of his master’s massive frame into a hug. “It is okay, Korsage, we still have policewoman on our side. We can still protect men and make our way free.”

“No, it is hopeless. I led you and all our men into breaking English law,” Korsage sighed. “As of now, we are criminals, and I have failed.”

The Jay cast cold, doubtful eyes at Korsage’s suddenly sullen frame, “So then, all of a sudden you feel remorse for these crimes you’re being accused of? Frankly, I don’t buy it. I think you’re only shedding crocodile’s tears.”

“You don’t understand, policewoman!” Lyosh chided his arms still as far around his behemoth master as they would reach. “Korsage has bravery for a thousand men! He’s saved us all from a sure death!”

Korsage pulled himself up slightly, taking one of Lyosh’s hands and squeezing it gently. “No Lyosh, we cannot burden her with our hard past. Please, task yourself with putting away tea.”

Lyosh was hesitant, but he slowly rose from Korsage’s side, and with a nod choked “Y-yes Korsage, if that is what you wish.” He stumbled back to the tableside, where he reluctantly began to clear the table.

Korsage tore his sympathy-filled eyes away from his first mate, making an effort to harden him as he returned his attentions to Midnight Jay. “Perhaps there is one last thing Korsage can offer: we may dock this ship, you allow all my men to board, and they sail ship away as free men.”

“And what about you?” The Jay asked.

“I…” Korsage gave a reluctant pause “I will allow myself to be put in jail for crime.”

There was a loud clatter. Both Korsage and The Jay spun around to see Lyosh standing with every single dish from their tea set in a disheveled pile at his feet. He shook, as tears ran down his cheeks, and he shrieked. “No, Korsage! You cannot let her! What will we do without you!?”

“That is enough!” Korsage stood from his seat, staring daggers in the direction of his servant. “It was by only my will that we broke law, I should be only man to take punishment!” He gave a pair of ragged breaths from the sudden exertion, and quickly fell back onto his seat, clutching tightly at the blanket around his shoulders. “Lyosh is right about one thing, Korsage is….very tired.”

The Jay looked in silence as this man, who had previously introduced himself as a pirate, sat before her looking dejected and self-loathing. She gave a breathy sigh and stood up, walking to his side and putting a hand on your shoulder. “Your crew really means that much to you, don’t they?” She asked gently. “They mean the whole world,” Korsage croaked. “As I said, I hoped not to burden you with our pasts, but at this point it can’t be helped. Lyosh, bring the coat.”

“But you’re wearing minkie,” Lyosh said dully.

“No, the coat! The family coat!” Lyosh sprung at Korsage’s command and returned to the ship’s cabin, emerging a second later with a regal purple sash with tassels on the ends as gold as the ones that hung from his blanket. Korsage took the regal-looking textile into his lap, and ceremoniously began to unfold it as he readied to tell his tale.

“Many year ago, when I was just a young pup, I greatly admired Father. Father was a soldier, and had been since he was young himself. He would say to me, ‘My little pteechka, your mother gave you a soul that loves, and before she died, I promise to give you wings which fly. And you will soar, my little pteechka, from one end of our great empire to another, always a watchful eye over proud Russian soil.’

I was eager to follow in footsteps of father, and I had my chance, for soon there became what we now call Crimean War. I was first in line to protect what I thought was right of Eastern Orthodox Russians, against oppression of Ottoman Empire. My duty was to guard Eastern Orthodox Church from Ottoman invasion. And there I held guard, even as Russians lost ground and many fellow soldiers left guard, to fight and die in front lines. But I remained, certain that even as I was last to stand, I would defend our Russian way of life. Then came the day I found Lyosh.

It was the coldest of winters. I sat bundled tightly in my winter coat, rifle in both hands ready to point it at any one who dare ascend Russian steps. That man who happened by was Lyosh.

You see, Lyosh was a youth torn in half by the war, who had a Russian mother, but a father who schooled him far away in France. He hoped to return to Russia and family in peace, but due to his upbringing, he was regarded as ally of the Ottomans, and thus was my enemy.”

“When he approached,” Korsage spoke in a reminiscent tone, as his hand gently stroked his beard, “He had abandoned his squad for Korsage’s village. He’d wandered for three days without food and only water from canteen. When he approached steps of Orthodox Church, he was near starving, and crawling on hand and knee.

But adamant I was to guard front door, and so I pointed my bayonet at his bowed head.

“Please sir,” he pleaded with me. “Do not put weapon upon me, I seek only sanctuary within church.”

“I am sorry, but no Ottoman or comrades can ever escape my sight.” I growled “You made your fate the day you joined ranks of French interlopers!”

I nearly pulled trigger at that moment, when the doors behind me swung open, and church’s pastor ran forward, grabbing Lyosh and bringing him to stand. “Oh poor human soul ravaged by war,” he said. “Please, take comfort and rest in our walls.”

I stood there confused, gun still in hand, as I turned and faced pastor, who was all too happy to take in French soldier.

I told him “I don’t understand, I thought this was war between churches.” The pastor looked at me, almost with pity. “I had no idea there was still soldier on these steps,” he said. “The churches have resolved their conflict and are at peace. You soldiers are still fighting, but only in hopes to steal land from Ottomans.”

I began to panic on the spot, concerned that I had failed and looked to this pastor feeling as abandoned as the young man in his arms. Pastor took pity on me and invited me into the walls of church as well. Inside I saw hundreds of soldiers, all refugees of war. Some Russian, others Ottoman, some French, and even a few English.

I’m sure they had expected me to stay, but instead, I became furious. I immediately ran to capital, where Father still commanded army outpost, taking orders only from Tsar himself.

“Father!” I shouted “This war is a lie! We are not protecting Russian way of life, we are invading Ottoman land for Russian Empire!”

I had expected Father to be moved by my words. Instead he just put hand on my shoulder, and looked me sternly in eyes. “I know, son. Russian Empire is greatest empire on soil of Earth. The Ottomans have been weak for years, and we know it is our time to seize their country in name of Russian glory.”

“But father,” I protest. “Is not a Russian man supposed to be noble? Is not a Russian man supposed to be merciful? The church fosters every soldier from every side of this battle. We all tire of this conflict. We have no path to win this war. We can at least end it for good of those who still live.”

“You’ve always been merciful my little pteechka,” Father bowed his head in regret. “It is your mother that speaks through you, but I cannot stop. It is will of the Tsar that our Great Russian Empire expands from shore to shore, and it is our duty as soldiers to obey his will.”

“Then,” I said with tears in eyes, and fear turning heart cold, “I am a soldier, no longer!” I stomped out of the camp, leaving my bayonet behind. While I knew turning my back on the war was right thing to do. I did not know any sort of life outside of being soldier, and was afraid. Through instinct, I returned directly to church. Feeling bitter winter wind at my back, it took all my strength to shut church doors behind me.

I stood in the middle of dark church hall, surrounded by refugees of long fought war. The father approached me and asked, “Are you looking for sanctuary as well?”

I knew not what to say. Despite what had just occurred between me and father, I was too proud to admit I’d just abandoned guard. That is when Lyosh approached me. Without any words, he took my hand in his, and led me to mess, where he put me in new clothes and gave me warm food to eat. You see, men like Father and Pastor always wanted to know what lie in men’s hearts. They wanted to see if sinister plan existed in the mind of any man they met.

Lyosh was different, though. He knew I came, seeking help, and without a question as to who I was then, gave me precisely that. Neither of us said it at moment, but he taught me important lesson, one that stays with Korsage to this day.

Month went by. We could no longer stay under grace of church. Lyosh and many of the other refugees deemed me worthy to be commander, and I accepted. Under my lead, we became cossacks, and built colony several miles east of former village. We farmed land, raised cow and bulls, and were peaceful and happy.

However, said peace only lasted a year. Then one day there came a messenger from east. As was our tradition, I was the first to approach the stranger. “What brings you upon our land,” I demanded. The messenger, in response, simply uncurled the package in his hands, revealing it to be my family’s coat of arms.

“I bring you sad news,” the messenger told. “Your father has passed away, collapsed in the office of the Tsar himself in elation over the end of the war.” Korsage was saddened, of course, to know that Father had passed, but elated to hear the war had ended, and perhaps animosity which made my men outsiders to rest of Russia would be no more.

“I was sent to deliver this coat, along with a request,” The messenger continued “On your honor as a soldier, you are asked to return to the hand of the Tsar, and take the space left by Father.”

The messenger left, with Father’s heirloom in my hands. Once again I felt terrible weight that was Father’s intentions. To return to the bayonet would certainly forgive my sin of leaving post. But…Such beliefs only brought pain to the man I once was. Korsage had new persons in my life, and a new purpose. I was a soldier no longer. I was the leader of these men.

With threat of returning to war facing us all, I developed my most ambitious plan: We built a ship, the size and length rivaling that of the Ark of legend. One that would lift us all up and away from the intentions of Earth men, and deliver us to the one place on Earth no man could ever own.

The sky.

“So then you built this ship and flown all across the Earth, preventing all those refugees from ever having to live under the laws of any continent,” The Jay concluded.

Korsage gave a single nod, as he stood, pushing away his chair and turning his back to the table. He looked past the railing of the ship, towards the moon, while holding both his hands behind his back.

“It sounds like quite the noble endeavor,” The Jay stood, her voice remaining gentle, but stern “but I’m afraid the actions you’ve displayed have been far less than noble. Why would you keep us from knowing your true name?” The Jay continued.

“I left man who had that name in the past. That man was nothing more than soldier who wished to win the ambitions of Father. As Korsage, I have a new life with importance for many men.”

“Why would you deal in contraband?” The Jay interrogated, her voice growing slightly more impatient.

“This ‘contraband’ you accuse me of? It is funny law. You suggest I bring things into England that English find illegal, but they are plentiful in other places. When I descend to other countries, I sell them in abundance with no fear of breaking laws, causing trouble, or attracting baddies.”

“And who are your buyers?”

Korsage turned back to The Jay, stroking his beard thoughtfully. “Oh, privately wealthy persons: Silas Monstrosity, Royce Calvin, Hector Bellaco, Mother Mandrake. These names mean anything?”

“I’m afraid they do,” The Jay brought a hand to her head in frustration. “You’ve just listed out the names of nearly all the ‘baddies’ in England.” Removing her head from her brow, she calmly concluded. “You believe you’ve done no wrong, but what you’re doing is nearly as bad. You say you want nothing to do with the affairs of any country, but you just go along your business and make your gains without paying any attention to the consequences.”

“You are right, policewoman,” Korsage said gently, lowering his head again, but this time only so much as to meet The Jay’s gaze. “Korsage has been careless. Perhaps I was even mistaken in leading these men this way. But…It is my crime alone. Every man on those docks made only the crime that was belief in me, which is why I say, you should take me only, and leave them to sail.”

The Jay stood, watching Korsage as he kept his back turned and his eyes gazing at the sky. Deep down, she was beside herself: if she were to follow the letter of the law, Korsage would undoubtedly be responsible for every crime he was accused, but since her capture, she learned that there is so much more than the man who called himself a pirate than meets the eye. He was polite, gentile, even if he was rather childish as well. He gave up all he knew and believed in for the sake of those refugees who now stood guard over the dock Korsage was laying siege to. He’d do anything to fight for their freedom, which was now ironically the very notion which threatened to put him and potentially his men behind bars. It all seemed to be so very unfair, though given what he’d been through.

“Pardon me miss policewoman,” a voice from The Jay’s right spoke softly, belonging to Korsage’s first mate, Lyosh. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to have word with you.”

The Jay simply nodded, and the two of them turned to the starboard end of the dock, where Lyosh leaned his elbows against the railing. In a show of humility, The Jay did the same.

Lyosh spoke softly, but sternly, “I just thought it might help if you heard why I was first to elect Korsage as our leader.”

“You know it just might,” The Jay mused.

“The simple fact is,” Lyosh inhaled for a moment, summoning his courage. “I had abandoned post with French army many days before I sought sanctuary in church. I knew from beginning by fighting this war, I’d be fighting two halves of myself, and I could no longer stand the notion.”

“That much is a given.” The Jay acknowledged.

“I had found the church just as soon as I’d made way to the city, but I was afraid to enter, for I saw Korsage standing guard at the entrance. He was only one to stand, and yet he was adamant, unmoving. As the cold winds blew, and the winter weather set in, he never flinched.

For first few days, I made camp in an alley several feet from church doors, watching never-moving guard. At first, I was afraid, for he seemed to be a demon of a man, the one obstacle that would have kept me from safety in this war-torn land. When snowstorm finally came, I knew I would surely die without the safety of the church, and had to risk that or to be fired on by Korsage’s rifle. I took my chance,

and as I stood in the haze of snow, staring right down barrel of Korsage’s rifle, I saw something even stranger.

His hands shook. The one that should have clutched trigger slid back and held the brunt of the gun. I too am rifleman, you see, and it is my experience that the way he held that weapon, he never intended to shoot it. He would have preferred that I ran instead.”

“Wow,” The Jay awed.

“Korsage is man who considers himself a soldier,” Lyosh said idly, turning partially to his master as he spoke. “But he has never had any other choice. He’s built himself up to be like iron, unafraid, and willing to try any tactic to win the day. However, he is also very innocent. The rest of us are all soldiers in a way, and while I’ve too often seen the violence of men on his crew, I’ve never seen Korsage to lift a finger to any living thing.”

“Oh, and does his kidnapping of me not count?” The Jay scoffed.

“Do you consider yourself badly hurt, or restrained against your will?” Lyosh countered with a grin. The Jay slid back down across the railing with a grimace. “Listen, I know is hard to understand. Is difficult for me to even describe, and I quite clearly see that it’s hard not to look at man like Korsage and not see a misfit. But, there is just something about him. Something I guess I only know which proves to me that he’s a good person. Don’t you perhaps know anyone like that?”

The Jay peered over the railing where she could clearly see the dock. She thought for a moment about Thaddeus, and what he was planning to do to get the both of them out of this mess. Then she looked back over at Lyosh, a half-smile across her face, and said “As a matter of fact, I think I do.”

The Jay looked back idly towards the dock, then quirked her brow at an odd cluster of people gathering a few feet from the warehouse. Quickly, she produced her trusted pair of opera glasses, placing them over her eyes in the direction of the sudden commotion.

“What do you see?” Lyosh asked, peering through squinted eyes. “Those are not our men down there, are they?”

“No, they’re not,” The Jay sneered. “You’d best prepare for Korsage’s descent. Things are about to get especially…diplomatic down there.” The Jay shook her head in disbelief, for she had seen at the head of the pack, a glint of a garish red suit that could have only belonged to The Scarlet Derby. “What on Earth could he be planning with that pack of roughnecks?”

“Okay, single file!” The Derby declared. The gang of toughs, presumably from the Duchess’ private security force, made a line before the cargo crate The Derby chose to stand upon. “Men, before we engage this assemblage of pirates, it is important that you all know what we’re dealing with.”

“Yeah, a pack of treasonous savages,” one of the men shouted, causing a roar of cheers from the makeshift army.

The Derby heaved a sigh, pinching the temple of his nose through his mask. “I’m assuming that you’ve already received a pep talk from the Duchess, eh? Shame, I was rather looking forward to that part….Anyway, I was about to relay the opposite point: we’re not fighting for Queen and country. We’re apprehending a group of common criminals and bringing them to justice on behalf of our momentarily sidelined police. Excessive force is not needed, our end goal is to capture these pirates and hold them to the tenets of our justice system. Any questions?”

“Yeah, who put a wimp like you in charge?” One thug shouted.

“Yeah! Let’s put down this sinister revolt, for London and The Duchess of Nodont!” The band of thugs erupted into yet another group of raucous cheers and about-faced, leaving The Derby behind to charge towards the dock. “Well, I tried. May as well get on with it…” The Derby dejectedly hopped down from his soapbox to enter the fray.

“I can’t believe he’s doing this…” The Jay said between gritted teeth, still holding her opera glasses over her eyes. Across the docks, the heavyweights of The Duchess’ guard stood toe to toe with Korsage’s men, many battling with fisticuffs while the bolder of both sides drew cutlasses.

Lyosh approached The Jay’s side, informing The Jay “Korsage is prepared to stop the battle. We should lower the ship?”

“No, don’t lower the ship!” The Jay said with a stroke of panic. “If they manage to get their hands on it, you’ll all be stranded. Have Korsage climb down from the rope ladder. I’ll meet the two of you there.”

Lyosh blinked in confusion, “How do you plan to get down there without taking the ladder as well?”

The Jay popped open her umbrella, taking a couple of steps back from the railing and said, “With luck.” Then she dashed forward, leaping off the side of the ship in a direct flight downwards to the dock.

“She is braver woman than I,” Lyosh said idly, as he turned away from the dock to see to his captain.

Back on the docks, The Scarlet Derby stood dumbfounded at the melee. He sought an opportunity to rush in, dueling cane in hand, to dispatch Korsage’s men,

but he didn’t see one amongst the aggressive engagement by the Duchess’ security guards. “With vandals like these in her employ I’m surprised The Duchess hasn’t already overrun the police force.”

The Derby looked up from the fray long enough to utter an “Urk!” when he was brought to the floor by a falling object. Looking up from his prone position, he could see said falling object was actually Midnight Jay. “Good of you to finally join us, though your aim may leave a bit to be desired.”

“Nonsense, I landed precisely where I wanted,” The Jay stood, yanking the jumbled Derby up by his lapels. “Just where did you manage to drum up this uncouth army?”

“The Duchess Wilhelmina de Nodont,” The Derby said flatly.

“And you thought accepting help from that militant sister of a villain was a good idea?” The Jay growled.

“I didn’t see many other options!” The Derby defended. “I was also half hoping you’d have had Korsage rightfully trounced before I had to resort to this tactic.” “I was trying to negotiate a peaceful surrender,” The Jay said sternly.

“Negotiating a peaceful surrender with the cutthroat who kidnapped you?” The Derby scoffed. “I’m not the only one making strange alliances.”

The Derby and Jay’s argument was interrupted the moment they both ducked to avoid a stone hatchet, which looked to have been thrown stray by the many combatants on the dock. In tandem, they both looked over their shoulders at the vicious looking weapon and then at each-other.

“I say, you don’t see many of those any more do you?” The Derby asked.

“Okay look,” The Jay replied, sharply putting The Derby back on task. “I’m sure we can agree that the circumstances of this crime might best be handled the moment all these roughnecks stopped slugging one another.”

“I can get behind that,” The Derby nodded.

“Then our course is clear: You and I will work to break up this whole conflict, and then leave the decision of law to the authorities.” The Jay unsheathed her umbrella and gave it a martial artist-style front spin before charging into the melee.

The Derby watched as The Jay departed into the fray, and then brought his hands to his neck. “This looks like a job for my latest invention, the double length lead-weighted bola bow-tie.” Removing his tie from his neck, he gave it a twirl above his head and slung it in the direction of one of the duchess’ thugs. With the same skill as the ancient Patagonian weapon, the weighted corners of the tie spun around the hired goon and sent him on a direct course with the ground.

“That’s one down,” The Derby declared, “How are you doing, dear?”

The Jay turned her attention back to The Derby after administering a jump kick that knocked five former combatants into one another front to back, leaving them in a dazed pile at her feet. “I’m sorry, dear, did you say something?”

The Derby shook his head and muttered, “She really has to show me how to do that.” Extracting a few bottles of sleeping gas from the bandolier beneath his cape, The Derby at the combatants left standing, which made them instantly spin and faint at the smell of the chemical concoction.

“Now that will certainly leave this conflict to whoever is on the right side of the law!” The Jay declared, looking at the assembled unconscious.

“Indeed,” The Derby said grimly. “The only thing we risk now is our own necks when the Duchess and Korsage show up to see we’ve wiped out both their armies.”

“The Duchess…I could care less what that bloated bon vivant thinks,” The Jay gave a bit of pause, knitting her fingers as she turned to The Derby and asked. “Do you think…..the Constable would be mad?”

“The Constable isn’t mad,” The voice of Constable O’Gratin said as he approached the scene from where the corner of the dock met the streets of London. “However, The Constable escorted the Duchess here, and she’s absolutely livid.”

“How DARE you, how DARE both of you!” The Duchess shouted, seeming to wrestle with herself to so much as walk towards the two heroes in the midst of her rage. “I give you the simple task of aiding my security force against these interlopers, and you caped cretins clean everyone’s clock indiscriminately!” “It had to be done, Wilhelmina,” The Jay replied just as sternly to the royal. “If we hadn’t intervened you would have done grievous harm to a man who’s only noted crime is smuggling.”

“They did more than smuggle, they dared to step on English soil and demand it as their own! If you had a drop of English courage, you should know there’s only one punishment for such arrogance.” The Duchess thrust her finger at the two heroes, twisting her head over her massive shoulder and shouting “Arrest them, Constable! If they think they command English law better than I, they deserve but bread and water!”

“I will do no such thing!” The Constable barked back. “Whether you like it or not, The Scarlet Derby and Midnight Jay are right. This has all gotten wildly out of hand. I’ll give proper arrest to Korsage alone, should he see to step back on this dock.”

And no sooner did the Constable speak those words did Korsage step upon the dock once again, with Lyosh at his side. He spoke no words, and made no movement that suggested he’d surrender. In fact, the large, black cannon he had propped before him suggested exactly the opposite.

“This is your new pirate friend’s bid at diplomacy, I have it…” The Derby muttered under his breath.

The Jay’s face went from a look of immense regret, to a look of hard determination as she immediately walked towards the large cannon, positioning herself between it, and everyone upon the docks.

“What is the meaning of this, Korsage?” she said sternly.

“As you went down to docks, I look at mass of London descend upon my men,” Korsage was equally as stern, holding his hand on a cord that would ignite the flint and fire the cannon. “I decided I did not want risk crew falling into English hands.”

“And this is how you intend to do it?” The Jay spat back. “You are going to add public endangerment and possibly murder to your mounting list of crimes?”

“I admire your respect for law, policewoman, but is still English law, and I hold none of my men to it,” Korsage’s eyes narrowed. “Do you want to tell me you’re just while they lay knocked out on dock?”

“I had to do it!” the Jay bellowed. “They’re unconscious now, but if I let things escalate the way they were going to, some might have been harmed further. Some mighthave even died. The fighting has to stop now, Korsage.”

“I will not!” Korsage bellowed. “All you ever speak of is order, but your order will not spare these men as I have! I’ve learned long ago, that the only will that I can trust, is the will of Korsage! Now stand away or this cannonball will make its way through you first!”

The Jay was certainly in a perilous situation. If Korsage was as determined as he said, she’d be ripped apart by Korsage’s cannonball. The first life lost in this entire senseless crusade. But somehow such a thought did not upset her as much as Korsage, the man she believed to know so well, who showed her he possessed manners, and told her of how escaped the torment of his past with dignity, and the best interest of his refugee crew in heart.

“Very well, if you must shoot, then shoot!” The Jay demanded, forcefully shutting her eyes. “I will do everything in my own power to protect the just and good, just as you would for your own crew!”

“No, you can’t!” A voice bellowed from the Jay’s side. She opened her eyes to see Lyosh, standing in front of her and using his own body as a shield against the cannon. “Korsage, you cannot hurt her! I will not let you!”

“Stand aside, Lyosh…” Korsage demanded warily. “You know that if they have their way, we’ll be behind bars.”

“I’d prefer to be captive, than to let the blood of policewoman stain this dock.” Lyosh retorted. “You know in your heart that she is right. We’ve broken their law, and we continue to by defying them.”

“It is their law, not ours!” Korsage shouted.

“What is OUR law, Korsage?” Lyosh’s eyes began to well with tears, though they still met the eyes of his master. “Is our law what you say it is alone? I asked you to lead us,

because I knew you had strength for us all, but to truly be just, you have to trust me when I say this cannot go on!”

Korsage’s hardened expression suddenly washed over with regret upon seeing Lyosh’s tear stained visage. “Lyosh…I…but…”

“I know that I can trust policewoman’s word,” Lyosh replied gently. “Please, let this end.”

Korsage gently dropped the cord at his hand, rounding the side of the cannon to run up and embrace Lyosh. “Lyosh,”he sobbed. “I’m so sorry. You always know what is best. I promise, for the sake of us all, I won’t fight.”

The Jay took a few meager steps back, watching the two Russian pirates in an emotional embrace. Though her knees wobbling a bit as she gently stepped away from the deadly weapon that was once aimed at her, she was able to give a gentle smile.

When Korsage and Lyosh finished their embrace, they gave a decided glance at one another and approached Constable O’Gratin. “We agree to put ourselves in hand of English law,” Korsage said firmly. “No need for irons, we shall go peaceful.”

“That is the best news I’ve heard all day!” The Constable approached the Russian pirate and the two shook hands.

“Well, I have to hand it to you, Midnight Jay,” The Derby said as he gave an analytical eye to the scene before him. “If there was anyone who could pierce the heart of an anarchic smuggler, it would be you.”

“Thanks, Derby…but I was only trying to work in everyone’s best interest.” The Jay shrugged.

“Not so fast!” a voice rang out in the midst of the elated scene. The Derby and Jay turned around to see Korsage’s Cannon aimed in their direction, and the direction of Korsage and Lyosh. “I am so glad everyone is so agreeable, but there’s still the matter of utter treason to punish!”

“The Duchess has the cannon?” The Derby asked faintly. “The Duchess has the cannon…” The Jay replied.

“I’ve had enough of this foreign crook bamboozling the sentiments of you lot, and I’m tired of you masquerading misanthropes always undermining my role in the police force. You’ll all pay the price for defying The Duchess of Nodont!” And with that, the Duchess pulled the cord causing an explosion of dust to coat the entire deck.

The Derby coughed and waved their hands, moving the dust away from their faces. When everything finally cleared, The Derby and Jay saw The Duchess laid on her back, covered in soot, and surrounded by the debris of a recently shattered cannon.

“Hm, it seems that piece old army surplus wouldn’t have fired even if Korsage had wanted it to,” the Jay said idly.

“Well, it is just as they say,” The Derby mused. “People who wield glass cannons should weigh twenty stone.”

“Curse you, Scarlet Derby and Midnight Jay! I swear, someday I’ll have your masks!” The Duchess ranted, as the heroes, Constable, and pirates walked away from the docks amidst great laughter.

Posted 8 months agoTagged: The Scarlet Derby, midnight, sdmjkorsage, superhero, steampunk, serial, pulp, fiction, comic, webcomic, fiction on tumblr, SDMJText.SDMJ Classic: The Siege of Korsage finale

A few days later, Mary Jane, still in the guise of Midnight Jay, approached her husband, Thaddeus, still in the guise of The Scarlet Derby, leaning over the railing of the docks they had relieved of Korsage’s occupation. Shaking her head, she approached his side and gently said. “I thought you would have had your fill of this old, wet wood by now.”

“What can I say, when I patrol, I really patrol…” The Derby replied with a smirk. “How has your testimony at Korsage’s trial been going?”

“We’re just about wrapped up. The Constable and I have both given testimony, and I believe the court is in unanimous agreement about what should be done.” “And what exactly would that be?” The Derby asked idly.

“Deportation. It will be Korsage’s responsibility to remove every bit of contraband he brought to these docks, and then depart the city of London, never to return.” The Derby scoffed. “You know, I always trust your decisions. Still, I can’t help but think that base bandit deserves a bit more for all the trouble he caused.”

“Is that what has you so out of sorts?” The Jay murmured in her husband’s ear. “Who said I’m out of sorts?” The Derby groused.

“Come on home, dear,” the Jay cooed sweetly. “I’ll make you tea with those little biscuits you like. Would you like me to take this cape off your shoulders?”

“No! No, that’s fine…” the Derby stammered. “I think I feel a little better with the cape on, thank you.”

“Yes, of course dear. Enjoy your minkie.” The jay planted a soft kiss on his cheek, and then turned around, slowly walking towards their home.

The Derby looked over her shoulder as she walked away and asked, “What the heck is a minkie?”

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