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Bandits on the Amur


Sarah Tintagyl
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The Tyrannian Regency, as it became known, completely demoralized the outer reaches of the Tianxian Empire. Lands across the globe fell into disarray and disloyal "subjects" of the Emperor Yuan Jia took over as local warlords. The northern borders of the Empire had for years been run by the Amazons, but with the collapse of internal order and the scattering of the Amazons, the women of the north gave into unscrupulous acts of thievery and murder.

 

On the shores of the Amur River, the gateway to the lands of Marscuria, Zoe Turzis and three of her followers looked out over the rippling tide.

 

"Seems as good as place as any," said Zoe, "Don't you think, girls?"

 

The Amazons nodded with wicked grins, behind them at a camp, they had stored RPGs, inflatable rafts, AK-47s, and a massive store of ammunition and food. 

 

"The next ship that comes down this way will answer to me, the Lady of the Amur!"

 

 

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One of the first vessels of the season on the Amur was the towboat Boim, pushing a barge shipment of fresh-cut lumber to the port of Glubokiye Vodishtot from the terminal at Amurzet.  While many of the crew were fresh recruits, Captain Mikhail Mizrekdikov and his first mate Yakov Komzetsky had made the easy trip numerous times before.  They knew the length of the river since they were teenagers, traveling its length during the summer and joining the Amur Barge Company after college.  Yakov was always the better driver, and was made first mate.  Mikhail was good at managing details and was made captain.  These titles meant nothing between the two of them, and their relationship was nothing but casual.  

 

"Unseasonably warm, isn't it," said Yakov.

 

"Warm now, but it took long enough for this fucking ice to melt," the captain replied, "I wanted to be at Glubokiye two weeks ago."

 

"Stop worrying, we'll get there in time to catch the Gehiltz," Yakov said, referencing the ship that would transport the lumber to destinations around Europe, "We should be approaching GV by mid-tomorrow, and at that point it's on the crane operator to get the wood on the ship."

 

Looking at the speed of the boat and using his thumb to measure the length of the river, a method jokingly referred to as using cubits, Mikhail measured the time.  "About 5 pm," he said, "poor bastard is going to need to pull an all-nighter with this."

 

Cruising along the river, the four Amazons came into view as the barge rounded a small bend.

 

"Woohoo," Yakov exclaimed seeing the women, "look at them!"  Running to one of the control panels, he pulled the lever that activated the ship's horn.   BOOOP BOOOP BOOOP 

 

"Yakov, what have I told you about using my boat to pick up women," Mikhail said to him.

 

"Our boat, Misha, our boat," Yakov said, smiling, "and you weren't complaining with Anastasia sitting in your lap last time."

 

"Fine, go," Mikhail relented.

 

Running out the door and grasping the railing, Yakov called out to the four women at the water's edge.  "Girls!  Debutchki!  It is a hot day, and those uniforms look so hot.  The water is so nice.  Would you like a ride to the ocean?  All you need to do is swim to us!"

 

"You do know those are Amazons,"  Mikhail said, "using that type of language with them is a bad idea.  They will make you sore all over, and not in the way you would prefer."

 

"Ex-Amazons, Misha," Yakov said, "the Chinese hold on the land is collapsing around them.  Now they're just women, and they may need a ride and some company... and maybe some drinks."

 

"Whatever man," Mikhail said, putting a binder away, "you're on your own with this one."

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"Pull the boat to the shore, Comrade!" Zoe hollered out to Yakov. "We are indeed hot!" she said throwing off her shirt, a sports bra, snug against her chest would help Yakov make his decision to come to the shore with greater urgency. "But the river, it is too swift, come to us and then we would gladly ride to the Ocean with you."

 

Zoe turned to one of her associates, an Amazon named Natassia. "Radio the others, when they bring the ship in, we'll have it surrounded."

 

"Of course," said the Amazon and wandered down the hill for a moment, before returning moments later, stripping off her uniform and running toward the ship.

 

"You will take us to the Ocean, Comrade?" said Zoe again. "Perhaps you can even take us beyond?"

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Walking towards the stern of the boat as it was moving forwards, Yakov would be stationary relative to the women.  

 

"My dear girl," he said, "it seems you do not know how a barge works.  This lumber barge, along with our towboat, displaces three point five meters of water, while the depth of the river near the bank is less then half of that, necessitating us to remain in the designated river channel.  Additionally, while we may only be moving at three knots, we weigh thousands of tons, meaning that momentum will not allow us to stop in less that three kilometers."  

 

The smokestack of the towboat let out a belch of thick, black smoke as the diesel engines revved up for the next straight stretch of the river.  "It seems that your chance to hitch a ride with us is slipping away.  You can certainly swim for it, the river currents are weak in this stretch.  If you get tired on the way over, I have six seats that you and your friends can rest on," he yelled, taking of his shirt and pointing to his stomach, "Come on, be adventurous.  Isn't that what you girls are known for?"

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The girls chuckled and then jumped into the Amur and started swimming toward the barge. They moved through the water with grace, their strokes more powerful than the light current on the river that day. Behind the hills on the river bank, Amazon bandits began to trace the ships down. They would know when to move, when the ship began to slow down. Then a squadron could give cover while the rest of the bandits worked on pillaging the cargo.

 

Zoe and Natassia reached the ship first and climbed up the ladder that Yakov and the others had thrown for them. The Amazons stood dripping wet on the deck and walked toward the Marscurian sailors. "You guys are much cuter up close."

 

"Yes," said Natassia, "Much cuter."

 

Then after the Amazon embraced the two men, kissing passionately, they reached behind them, taking out knives and holding them to the Marscurians' throats. "And now, Comrade, if you could please stop the barge. We'd like to have an inspection."

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"Oooooooh, you cheeky dickwaffle," Yakov said while laughing, "using Misha's chronic girllessness against him.  I'm a little ashamed that I fell for it too, but, ya know, you win some and you lose some."

 

"Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up" Mikhail said, minding the knife at his throat.

 

"You know what they say Misha,"  Yakov continued, "about an Amazon's favorite type of ship?  It's one that's running with blood and seamen."

 

"Literally everything you say makes this worse," Mikhail lamented.

 

"You know, I think these girls are serious," Yakov said, "you may want to stop the boat before they move that knife to an area that I really care about."

 

Slowly backing up, Mikhail reached the engine control panel and notched the control down to 0.  The ship grew eerily quiet as the engines cut out, with just the creaking and groaning of the ship and the barge  being heard.  

 

"What is this about," Mikhail asked after a short while, "I heard the Amazons were disbanded.  Besides, this river channel is Russian territorial waters.  Whoever you are now, or who you represent, you have no authority." 

Edited by KaiserMelech Mikhail
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  • 3 weeks later...

"We speak with our own authority, the authority of the Amazons." Said Natassia as she looked out the window and a large contingent of Amazon bandits began pouring over the hills toward the barge, many toting metal rafts for transport of the wood. "This is a tollway now, Marscurian, when you return to your capital, you can let the Tsar know about the Amur River. Until then however, we'll be taking your cargo as a fair first price."

 

As Natassia spoke, Zoe worked quickly with rope to tie their hands and feet together before letting the men huddle together in a corner under the Amazons' watch. The two women smiled down at their handiwork while other women boarded the ship and began to unload the cargo onto metal rafts to take back to the shore. They worked diligently, but the amount of cargo on the ship might be too much for the Amazons to unload in one sitting, and after some time, as not to disturb other traffic on the river that might be approaching, the Amazons fled back into the hills.

 

Finally, as the sun began to set, Natassia and Zoe looked back at Misha and the others, giving each of them a kiss.

 

"You boys think you can give a proper message back to the Tsar?"

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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"You won't get away with this," Mikhail said, "you just made the worst mistake of your lives."

 

"Well," Yakov said, smirking, "at the end of this, I guess we can say that I'm not the only one who's got wood."

 

"I hate you and your ass face,"  Mikhail hissed.

 

 

Meanwhile...

"Are you sure that this rig can handle my cargo," a grizzled man said, lacing up his boots, "if you break what's in that crate, I'll brake your neck."

 

"No problem buddy," the dock foreman said, "Sasha is good on the crane, and this thing has lifted far heavier than whatever is in those containers."

 

"Tell Sasha that I think I just saw a bolt fall off his crane," the man said angrily.

 

"You're seeing things," the foreman said, "probably just some rust or dirt.  Stuff falls off all the time but they're still up there.  Relax."

 

The crane finished putting eight shipping containers on a small barge while the workers moved to fix them in place.  Meanwhile, a team of men were painting the small towboat in the colors of the Marscurian Amur Company, the largest company utilizing the river.

 

"There is the little aspect of the dock fees," the foreman said, "you never told us how your... group is going to pay."

 

"Relax," the man said in a gruff voice, stepping onto the boat, "check your accounts, the money should be there already."

 

The engines of the boat started up and immediately lurched the craft forward.

 

"She sounds good," the man said, "engines running nice and smooth."

 

"The amount of money we spent fixing this thing up, I would expect nothing less," another man at the controls said.

 

"Where was the attack," the man said, laying out a map of the river and its major settlements.

 

"Around 50 kilometers downstream of Sofiysk," the second man said.  "Crew said they were ambushed as they passed a bend around a large island.  Don't know how reliable that is though, considering their other information.  Get this, they guy said they were Amazons."

 

"So," the man said, "they've turned to banditry.  Pity."

 

"You don't seriously believe them," the second man said, "they're gone, everyone knows that.  Just like all the Chinese influence in Russia.  Lost in the chaos."

 

"No," the first man said, "you don't get rid of a group like the Amazons.  They may have changed income streams, but they're still who they always were."

 

"What do we do," the second man said, "what is our plan if they really are Amazons."

 

"Plans haven't changed," the first man said, "when we hit that island, I want you to go slow, dead slow.  Make some noise too.  We got that new fog horn, try testing it out.  Then we wait."

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