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Book 1: The Rebirth of the Aztecs

Chapter 2 Part 1: A Sheepdog Running With The Wolves

Drake cracked his neck as he dragged his blood soaked body down the stairs. This was far from the first time the pirate had found himself covered in another man’s blood in a strange ship. Being a Royal Ranger Marine meant you wore many different hats, and so far the first High King of the Republic of Catalina had used them as his go to bludgeon device for beach landings, boarding parties, and anyone needing a proper pounding.

There weren’t very many operational warships operational along the golden coast these days. This meant you were dealing with brown water navies with nothing bigger than a gunboat or old imperial Coast Guard Cutter. This meant boarding options were much more viable than in the days when carrier groups roamed the pacific ocean.

Good thing too. They were mostly dealing with Cartel Warlord raiding parties. They didn’t have too many ships, and they didn’t know how to operate the ones they did have so the Republic didn’t see them often. When the Catalina island chain did get a dosage of cultural enrichment from the south the would-be raiders weren’t looking for a fight. Human trafficking, kidnapping, theft, and such were the name of the game. Being able to board the heavy laden ships had been a Godsend. More than one distraught family was overjoyed to see their carried off daughters and sons returned home. Most weren’t so lucky.

By the time Drake had been forcefully retired they’d added Ranger to the Royal Marine title. No longer was the King content to ambush the raiders on the island, or chase down the ships. Now the Marines would act out their best Ranger routine, and track the raiders to their respective warlords’ for recovery and punitive missions. There were a lot more dead would be Aztec warlords now.

Not that it had been enough to discourage the raids. The old west coast was a hellscape with all the best loot picked clean, and what was left charred into ash by the unchecked summer fires. The republic was the last polity worth raiding west of the rockies. Everyone else had retreated so far north you couldn’t see the sun half the year, or deep into the mountains away from the old imperial highways they’d called interstates.

Drake grunted at the memories of his days of purpose on the high seas, and in the old Mexican bush. Not that there were very many Mexis calling themselves Mexican these days. Most of the warlords were going older, and unfortunately that included cultic behavior. The ex marine Lieutenant grimaced at the memory of the last punic mission before he’d been canned. Human sacrifices complete with feathers and ancient torture techniques. The Mexicans seemed to be going full Aztec which wasn’t going to be pretty.

Stoneman was tempted to brood as he fumbled his way down the corridor to the suit he’d appropriated for the night. He wasn’t drunk enough to ignore the rising danger in the world, but the ex marine turned pirate bit down on his souring mood. Hard. That wasn’t his problem anymore. They’d kicked him out so they could deal with their impending demise on their own. As far as Drake was concerned the only island needing defending by this pirate gang was the metal boat he was about to collapse in. Or that’s what he told himself.

Things were always like this after a bit of nasty business. Drake felt no remorse for their target. The report on the jew’s carnal carnage was staggering. They’d made a nasty mess that should please their client, but Drake knew all four of the marines had done it for their own reasons. There was no more mercy in the hearts of the men of the Golden Republic.

No, he wasn’t bothered about how they’d cut the scum bag into pieces, being careful to keep him alive and conscious for the entire experience. This was a statement to the powers that owned the pee on. Influential though the freak was was Drake held no illusions. Cohen was nothing but a middle man who snatched the wrong man’s daughter, and paid for it dearly. Still, if they made things nasty enough they’d make the rest of the “middle” men think twice about touching the King’s subjects.

Eventually they’d cauterized the torso’s wounds, keeping Cohen alive even though they’d already severed his limbs. The makeshift pirate crew had then tied a millstone around the squirming neck, and tossed all the pieces overboard. The sharks ate well tonight. They’d even cut him up into bite sized pieces. Now that was service. The least the sharks could've done was leave a tip after their meal.

Luckily the blood was mostly dry at this point so Drake wasn’t leaving a grizzly trail down the pristine hallway complete with polished wood floors and fancy scarlet throw rugs. He didn’t envy the staff who were going to have to clean the deck. Not a pleasant or easy job that was for sure.

At last Drake stumped up to his new suite. None too soon too. Hard justice was a draining activity. Not to mention he’d made rounds to all the sentries and pirates left around the ship before Stoneman had even considered making his way down into the ship for his shut eye.

They were in hostile waters for a pirate crew should they get caught. Luckily the various Oceanic island nations were too busy killing one another meaning a scuba superyacht was going pretty much unnoticed. Still, any of the various growing tribes and polities wouldn’t hesitate to send out overwhelming force if they discovered a Catalina pirate crew operating in the area.

Pirate crew. Drake hesitated as he brought up the key to the state room. He should call his crew of veterans what they were, what he was, now. They were pirates. Perhaps privateers since no matter how much Drake would love a little revenge for his early retirement he still wouldn’t raid Catalina vessels. Family was family, nation was nation, and yet his people had made themselves clear on the matter. They didn’t want this sheepdog watching the herd anymore so he’d gathered the wolves to raid the other sheep farmers.

This was when the incessant hole in his heart was clearest at three in the morning after a hard bloody day. He had to watch Catalina’s struggle from afar like David running from Saul. So be it. Drake was going to enjoy himself when he wasn’t brooding about the rising threats around his beloved Catalina. With that Stoneman turned the key and whisked into the room closing the teak wooden door behind him with a thud.

Locking the door out of habit Drake stumbled forward not bothering to turn on the cabin light opting for the light in the head instead. He stripped off the sullied Hawaiian shorts and shirt as he went. They’d have to burn them. Sure there weren’t very many forensic teams out here, but why take the risk of getting the Chinese navy on their tails?

Soon the water was flowing and the taste of iron slowly left Drake’s mouth. Blood was a stubborn stain on the skin but with enough soap and elbow grease Stoneman started to transform from shambling engorged zombie to human again. He had just shut off the water when he heard the state cabin door open and then lightly close.

Drake froze for a second as his instincts went wild. Somebody had just snuck into his cabin. Maybe they hadn’t quite subdued on all the security on the boat like they’d hoped…

The Story Will Continue Every Monday

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A Sheepdog Running With the Wolves panel 6
Diary of a Postwar Pirate series cover
A Sheepdog Running With the Wolves episode cover
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Diary of a Postwar Pirate

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It’s thirty years after World War Three. The world has changed. Borders have shifted, nations have died, empires have crumbled, and now new peoples and kingdoms have risen to take their place. In the midst of the upheaval Drake Stoneman finds himself discharged from the Republic of Catalina’s Royal Ranger Marines, and soon chooses a life of piracy. Stoneman soon finds that business is good for a man with his skill set. However, after being hired by an aging Aztec warlord to recover a prize from an abandoned old world facility Drake will discover if he still has enough patriotic blood left to save his people against the rising Death Cults and reforming Aztec Empire. Will the Republic of Catalina survive her infancy, or be just another kingdom lost to the dried bloodshed of history?
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