General Gonzo jumps overboard – another officer bails before the mutiny bites. The good ship Liberty, battered and listing, drifts rudderless in turbulent waters. Chain, the Captain, glares balefully at the waves, the empty decks silent but for the foamy wind and the shrieking of the ship’s monkey, aloft in the rigging.
‘Frigging in the rigging there was fuck all else to do…’
‘Fuck all indeed,’ thought Chain.
The mutineers, formerly intimidated by the Captain’s ruthlessness, have smelled the fear that ripples through him and abandoned the decks to make their plans. The futility of the mission has become apparent to all but Chain… and the monkey, whose grasp of English is remarkable for a primate but insufficient to grasp the finer nuances of a war on the world.
‘Fuck ‘em all,’ muttered Chain, still gripped by the certainty that propelled him to pursue his grand adventure. The winds, the currents, the pirates, the sea monsters… were all these his doing? Can he be blamed for the mystifying failure of the world to embrace his reign of… his greatest fear ran its chilling slimy course up his back bone. Can the Gods have abandoned him?
‘Full steam ahead! Don’t turn back now. Remember the last time we cut and ran.’
‘Stupid fucking monkey,’ Chain spat, all his pent up rage centering on the simian who was gaily swinging from the lanyard like a corpse hanging in the wind.
The last news from home was not good, public support for the war was waning. ‘Peaceniks!’ At least the monkey has guts. ‘I wouldn’t stand between him and a bowl of pretzels, that’s for sure’ he thought, chuckling despite himself. The monkey, sensing the change of mood, swung down from the heights and settled on a spar, nearby, but safely out of reach.
‘Everything ok Chainie?’
‘It’s over monkey, all over.’
‘Over? How can it be over? There are so many more things to make war on Captain. Look around you.’
A glimpse to port revealed the glittering chaos that was the Seventh Fleet, fearsome still, but engaged in a losing battle. To the West, icebergs had joined forces with a horde of jellyfish and the odd lightning strike. Seven ships were sunk or sinking. To the North a giant whirlpool threatened to engulf an entire strike force.
On many ships, sailors desperately repelled their worst nightmares. Under-armed, under-prepared, with no clear idea of their objective, they fought only for survival. Scared witless, they killed their own as often as their frequently imaginary foes, emitting a ceaseless hail of lead, hate, grief, terror, vomit and, worst of all, incomprehension. What is worse: to cause death with no reason or to die for no cause?
Chain surveyed it all impassively. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. The world was supposed to bow down before his awesome power. Reality was supposed to bend itself to his will. To where had his mojo fled? Had he not enriched his masters’ coffers? Did he not pour sufficient scorn on his opponents at home and abroad? Did he not smite evil with sufficient gusto? Did he not do more than any other to restore faith in the Republic?
Roused from his reflections, he observes first the monkey making a hasty exit, second the crew gathered around him in tense anticipation, and last, the noose.
To be continued…