'Vulgaria Expects Every Man To Do His Duty', says the Maverick's first mate slowly, 'Or I Shall Inflict a Small Pecuniary Penalty'.
Pedro Miguel, captain of the ship, hawks loudly and spits over the side of the vessel. 'Does it now, and will he', he says, clearly unimpressed. He follows with a range of comments in his native Spanish; since these comments include wide-ranging references to clowns, the nether portions of horses, and activities pursuant to the production of children, they are probably not as supportive as Miguel's commander, captain Hans Hohenlohe, might have liked.
Miguel was not Hohenlohe's first choice as officer for the Maverick, and their relationship is frosty enough for those in their vicinity to benefit from some warm outer garments. But there was, in Bestwestung, no other sufficiently qualified seafarers at the the time of Hohenlohe's necessary departure except a small colony of grey seals; and the seals smelt even more badly of fish.
(Above) Suitably stimulated by Hohenlohe's message, Miguel orders the Maverick to turn. Certain that Herr Michael Agorn, the pretender to the pretender of the Vulgarian throne, is probably on the larger of the enemy vessels, he determines that he will close with the stern of the Bachscuttel sloop, the Sausage.
Miguel began his career in the Spanish navy, and he seemed set for great things. Thanks to his possession of some compromising woodcuts of one of his superiors, he was able to enter the elite naval academy for Spanish officers, known as the canon superior or 'top cannon' school. But Miguel's fall from grace was rapid. There, he began a torrid affair with one Carlotta Madera Negra, a woman who claimed to be a highly paid civilian contractor but turned out just to be a well-paid washer-woman. Against the orders of his commanding officer, Miguel continued the affair, unable to resist her intelligence, physical flexibility and remarkably reasonable rates. Further difficulties followed as Miguel's brash self-confidence and inability to follow rules led to further run-ins with authority. Caught drunk and unclothed at the commandant's ball, Miguel then fell into a quantity of raw vegetables and dips - this full frontal crudites led to a brief suspension. Eventually, it became clear that Miguel was writing banker's drafts that his body couldn't cash; in fact, that no one could cash, because they were fraudulently obtained. This, and a terrible accident involving a goose, led to his suspension from the 'top cannon' academy.
Later reinstated, Miguel's journey to the ports of Mittelheim began when, on the occasion of his officer sea examination, his crew, tired of obeying the orders of a cadet for whom the word 'personal growth' clearly meant just getting a larger wart, abandoned him on the desolation of Les Islas de Muertas, 'The Island of Death'.* Managing to escape his enforced isolation by eating the local cannibals, he was also helped, no doubt, by the cannibals' god, Chupachup, who liked a good bit of irony as much as the next deity. Since then, Miguel has managed to work his way to the only place where familiarity with the sea is, for a captain, merely a 'nice to have': Mittelheim.
(Above, top) The Sausage and the Centennial Sparrow begin to close with one another. (Above, bottom) As the Maverick begins to manoeuvre towards the stern of the Sausage, the other enemy ship, the Shrimp, runs out its guns in preparation to fire.
'Men', says Miguel loudly. 'Men, I have full confidence in your abilities in the coming battle. Indeed, such is my confidence in you, that I shall retire below. Do not disturb me unless the situation really merits it'. He pauses. 'And by "really merits it" I think that I mean that you should really be in need of my help. So, considering the range of possible scenarios, I'm thinking that "really merits it" might include circumstances not less than heavy damage to the ship; or a sustained enemy attempt to board us'. The captain starts to head below. Before he reaches the doorway, he pauses and turns.
'To be honest, lads, you should probably only come and get me for activities that really require the presence of the captain, such as surrendering this ship'.
(Below) As he finishes, the Shrimp fires both guns of its broadside at the Maverick.
The crew duck and then look up as both cannonballs whistle over the Maverick. When they look back, the captain has already gone. The door slams, and there can then be heard the sound of heavy furniture being dragged against it. Inspired by Miguel's leadership, the crew of the Maverick ignore the enemy fire and continue towards the Sausage ...
* Soon after naming this island, the Spanish discovered nearby an island that was even more unpleasant, which then had to be called 'The Island of More Death than the Island of Death'. A third, discovered later, wasn't quite as bad as the other two, and so was called 'The Island of Less Death than the Island of Death, but Watch out for the Snakes'. All of which illustrates the knotty problems caused by naming an island too soon.