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The Golden Devil or The Tale of a Lady Pirate


Sarah Tintagyl
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The age of high adventure on the open ocean ended in the early nineteenth century. Great nations with large navies patrolled the coasts, capturing and killing men who claimed to be pirates. The term had changed since the Age of Sail. Where quasi-romantic figures like Blackbeard and Calico Jack wrestled against the wooden hulls of the English, French, and Spanish navies, the steel ships of Tianxia and Athens kept most pirates at bay. So too were the plumes retired and the skull-and-cross bones burned. These pirates sailed fast on inflatable ships with sub-machine guns hung around their shoulders. The only similar things were dental care.

 

The state of adventure on the ocean, however, did not dissuade the mind of Paige Scolieri. She grew up on Stevenson's Treasure Island, on the legends of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and the science fiction tales of space piracy and heroism. Paige knew about modern pirates, but she didn't let the reality destroy her romantic outlook.

 

She didn't have the makings of any pirate, real or romantic. Paige stood short, only a few hairs above five foot with blonde hair that fell in ringlets over her shoulders. She spent her free time reading and writing and knew little of sword play and even less of fire arm maintenance or usage. A young lady like Paige could not be asked to tie rigging on a sail or pilot an inflatable raft to attack a cruise ship.

 

Yet, when she came to her twenty-second year a great misfortune fell upon her.

 

Paige looked through the torn letters scattered over her living room floor and held back tears. With a degree in Literature her options in life seemed limited. Not wanting to teach in the esteemed American Commonwealth public school system, she placed all her hopes in getting accepted to a graduate school. The letters blowing in the stale air of her house displayed that life path failed. Paige spent a few hours crying into pillows in her room. Her mind swam with horrible futures. Without any living wage she'd surely end up living under one of the many bridges in Pittsburgh. She could become a vagabond and fit into the young population of Portland, or she could find a job that just required some degree experience. All of these options seemed boring.

 

Looking up from her tear stained quilt and pillows, Paige stared at her bookshelf. There, spread across the shelves, were the books that inspired her love of literature and her love of adventure.

 

Her eyes shimmered with confidence and hope. Here was a profession she knew about. Swashbuckling. Ransacking. Pillaging. Romance. All the things she loved in a career and thus Paige Scolieri believed herself, at that moment, a professional pirate.

 

Kissing her parents and siblings good-bye and saying she had found work in Portland, she packed her bags quickly and headed off on a Greyhound bus toward the Pacific. Once there she knew the sparkling ocean would speak and explain her next move. 

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A literal city of ice of the bitter north. Club a seal or you don’t have a meal. Live in freezing ice, die in freezing ice. For a woman called Ninageokuluk living twenty-five years of this nothing had changed. Surely there was more in life.

 

Only thing carried her through mundane tedious mornings of hunting were afternoons of reading energetic action filled tales of Swashbuckling. Glamour of the literary sword seizing her imagination, grabbing her sense of the romance, and stimulating her dreams. Tales of Swashbuckling adventure on the seas; exotic adventures in exotic locales with exotic people. Another life so far away, perpetual escape from everything about here. A life of adventure on the seas, the real boundless ocean: not anymore of this perpetually frozen over nonsense.

 

She didn’t have the makings of a swashbuckler, real or romantic. Ninageokuluk was even shorter than average for often already small Nunavut, more than a few hairs under five feet with single braided hair a shade marginally darker than her skin’s tone. Despite surviving through hunting all of her experience was killing hapless unsuspecting seals. Hardly a heroic skillset by near any measure. She considered herself much too practical to ever consider herself a hero possessing only loose connection to a swashbuckling lifestyle through regular fireside readings.

 

She couldn’t stop dreaming of swashbuckling and swords. It was a different era of course, Ninageokuluk knew it.  With civilization’s march advancing even across the word’s open waters. Bandits with Kalashnikovs & cell phones had so long replaced pirates wielding blades & Jolly Roger. She wouldn’t suffer a fool possessing the utter naivety keeping that silly romantic outlook facing these realities.

 

Though no longer a world of sword wielding heroes – she didn’t consider a healthy sense of adventure completely unreasonable. Another day of Nunavut was a day too much. She hoped wanderlust could be appeased with putting a bit of distance between herself and everything Atlantic. A summer of calm Pacific boating in the North American Commonwealth and everything would be fine.

 

Packing light she only carried what she believed essential-

Caribou parka, snow goggles, can of pre-cataclysm silver half-dollars, and of course her Snowknife.

(What kind of girl would go wandering around without her snow knife?)

Anything else, it was assumed, could be purchased at destination.

What followed was merely a matter of getting westward.

A couple grueling weeks of dog sledding to a bus terminal in the protectorates. . .

A series of meandering transit hub transfers across North America. . .

And finally Ninageokuluk was on a Greyhound bus toward the Pacific.

Once there she knew the sparkling ocean would speak and explain her next move. 

Until then she allowed herself to sleep, still dreaming of swashbuckling adventure.

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What neither of them knew at the time however is that off the northwestern coast of the American Commonwealth beneath the sea was the ruins of an ancient civilization. And within these ruins was a golden spherical artifact of ancient power used to keep the sea at bay until something went horribly wrong and destroyed their whole city. The legend goes that whoever controls the artifact could hold control of the seas. (Well at least in an area around the artifact)

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