“I am become Nimitta Matram, Petty Officer, 984-31-78. This here is what happened to us. Before He was wi’ us we was getting nowhere. Wi’ help from us Seals Mr Fluffy’s band a patriotic no-hopers could jus’ about have defeated the Jersey police and a bunch a locals wi’ pitchforks, but not when the Résistance was operating behind our lines. Then Captain Midlands turn up wi’ his irregulars, guerrillas to fight guerrillas. Self sufficient, independent, autonomous units, living off the land, free to respond instantly to rapidly cchanging conditions, genius. Pretty soon we was starving, diseased, demoralised and out a supplies.
“That was when He had an epiphany. You should hear Him. ‘War is not a game. War is lunacy. It can only be legitimised by victory. Victory at all cost. No atrocity, no perversion is unconscionable if the result is victory. Armageddon!’
“He reinvented Hi’self as Capitáno Tierrasmedias and we became His willing acolytes. Magic mushrooms and all-night line dancing orgies helped win over the sceptics. We are His lunatic tools.”
“OK, Mr Matram, that be all most fascinating.” Rotskagg leered into the Petty Officer’s inverted face, intimidating, invading every last vestige of spoliated personal space. “Let’s get you down. Lower away Roger.
“Smee, remove the bucket please. We be contemplating a cautious first contact with your metamorphed commander. I trust you be able to expedite a meeting.”
Nimitta Matram was hauled upright from the floor and dumped in a chair.
“I think we’ll leave you in the straight-jacket just now. We have yet to establish even a modicum of mutual trust.”
“Why, yeh. I can get you to the Boss. He will blow your minds. Believe me, I can be really useful to you.” enthused the pathetic prisoner.
Boz stepped forward. “I believe this is one for the gang. Queen Anne’s Bounty is required here to keep the barbarians from the gates and we need your corsairs…” he was addressing Rotskagg, “…in reserve. I bet we can talk Captain Midlands back down. He’s probably just a bit frustrated. We’ll have this here Nimitta with us while we check out the situation so we should be safe… -ish.”
“Er… Does ‘the gang’ include me?” said Phoebles, “It doesn’t sound all that safe-ish.”
“Yes, you and me, and Ferdy and Ginsbergbear, the old team. We’ll take the bus. Zelda, can you install a transceiver so we can keep in touch?”
And thus it was that the Kronstadt Sailors’ bus disappeared into the forest, trailing a cloud of oily exhaust. Phoebles was at the helm, Boz and Ginsbergbear keeping a cautious eye on Petty Officer Matram and Ferdy checking out the radio.
“Testing Testing, Roger Wilco.”
Dark Flo watched them depart.
Turning to Rotskagg, “I’d best keep an eye…” She pulled the Mountbatten pink veil of her Shinobi shozoko across her face and vanished.