Four Pirates, a Little Lady, and Love
a Black Lagoon fic
Rain poured down as a tropic thunderstorm roared over Roanapur. A typhoon had hit the coast some miles away, and although Roanapur had not felt the worst effects of the storm, it was still windy enough to make movement outdoors interesting. The streets were all but deserted, and in the lower-lying areas, were flooding. Nobody was out on the streets unless it was necessary. Half the street lights were on; the other half weren't working. Trash was blowing down the streets, and trees had gone down, sometimes on top of some unlucky soul's parked car or through the roof of a building.
The Black Lagoon crew was sitting around the Yellowflag tavern, waiting for the weather to let up. They had been sitting around the office staring at each other, until Dutch had unilaterally declared a day off and offered them drinks down at the Yellowflag. The opportunity to see people other than their co-workers had been very attractive, even without the prospect of drinks. The people who used their services would know to check the Yellowflag if the office was closed.
They weren't the only ones in the tavern. Bao, of course, was behind the bar, smiling at the peaceful, profitable scene in front of him. Dutch, Rock and Benny were playing three-handed pinochle for baht*. Revy was in a desultory drinking contest with Sister Eda, who had traded in her trademark nun's habit for her "off-duty" clothes, and looked much less out of place in the Yellowflag than she normally would have. Rachel Lee, Revy's little sister, was discontentedly paging through a back issue of Soldier of Fortune she had brought along from the office.
Some of Boss Chang's men were there as well, quietly playing mah-jongg; the stakes looked very high. Over in a corner, three of Balalaika's Russians were engrossed in a deep discussion, their voices barely audible.
"I'm bored," whined Rachel. "I wish something would happen! I want some action!"
"Shut up and drink your gin," Revy Two-Hands snapped. "When you get to my age, you'll treasure these down-times. That's if you get to my age, baby sister!"
Rachel stuck out her tongue at her big sister. "And what age is that, Rebecca? The same one as Methusaleh?" Everybody at the table laughed except Revy, who was doing a good imitation of a boiler about to burst.
Some months previously, Revy's little sister Rachel had unexpectedly turned up in Roanapur. She had explained that her mother had been arrested, and she had preferred getting out of her native New York City to another stint in juvie. She had hitchhiked to the West Coast and stowed away on ships until she was in striking distance of Roanapur, since she knew that her older sister was there.
The Lagoon Company had been surprised at her appearance, but had taken her in, and she was now a member of the crew in her own right. Revy hadn't quite known what to do at first, but had settled into her role as "big sister," teaching Rachel the things she needed to know to stay out of trouble. After a few bobbles, like inadvertently cheating a bunch of Balalaika's men out of money in a Florida-swampland scheme, she had found ways to make herself useful, from taking over office-cleaning chores that tended to be neglected, to unobtrusively gathering information. Many people were so used to the sight of street brats that one more didn't register as a possible threat.
Business had been slow, partly due to the stormy weather. The typhoon that had clipped Roanapur was just one of several nasty storms that had hit. The airport had suspended flights in and out, going to sea was out of the question, and everybody was just waiting for the weather to improve. While the Lagoon Company had enough money to get along, they were all aware that making more money was a Good Thing. Expenses went on, whether the Black Lagoon was at sea or not.
Rachel paged through her magazine, restlessly scanning an article about Special Forces in action in the Golden Triangle. "Geez, do these writers ever actually get out here, Rebecca?" She shook her head. "I've found three big mistakes in this article, and I'm only halfway through!"
"Maybe you should write the editors and tell them, Rachel," Revy growled. Giving Sister Eda a hard look, she poured down her glass of rum and slammed it on the table, signalling Bao to bring her a fresh one. "Or maybe you should find something useful to do."
"Yeah, that would be nice. Maybe I can make something interesting happen!" Rachel was getting a little irritated with her sister's peevishness, even though she understood why Revy was cranky. "Let me see…abracadabra, ala-ka-zam, I command something interesting to happen now!" She stood up, waving her hands and closing her eyes.
The whole bar suddenly went very quiet. Rachel opened her eyes. "Hey, what happened? I was just joking…" Nobody was paying her any mind. Instead, all eyes were riveted on three people who had come in when she had her eyes closed.
Rachel couldn't see much about the newcomers that would provoke what looked, to her, like abject terror. Two women flanked a boy a little older and taller than she was, all of them in rain coats. The tallest woman had an umbrella she had furled over one shoulder, while the other woman and boy had been wearing rain hats. They walked up to the bar, where Bao was staring at them like he was seeing ghosts.
The tallest woman, who seemed to be the spokeswoman for the trio, spoke quietly to Bao, who pointed over to the table where the Lagoon Company and their friends were sitting. She nodded, and led her companions over to the table, with the air of someone who had every right to be there.
Rachel was puzzled. Why was everybody acting so frightened? "Rebecca…who are these people? What do they want with us?" She noticed that Revy's hand was inching toward one of her Cutlasses, and shifted her own position so that her .380 PPK was in easier reach. She and her sister teased each other mercilessly, as befit sisters, but she respected Revy's superior experience and knowledge of their environment. Rachel was a street-wise street brat, and every sense she had was screaming that danger was near. She scanned the room, but the strangers' arrival was the only change visible.
"Good afternoon, Dutch, Benny, Rock, Revy," said the boy, surprising Rachel, who had thought that the tall woman was the leader of the strangers. "It's been a while since we've seen each other, hasn't it?"
Dutch visibly gathered himself together. "Rachel…these are some people we dealt with a couple of times before. This is Garcia Lovelace, head of the Lovelace family of Venezuela, and his maids, Senoritas Roberta Cisneros and Fabiola Iglesias. Garcia, Roberta, Fabiola, this is Rachel Lee. She's Revy's little sister, who joined us a while ago."
"Buenas dias, mis amigos," Rachel said. She had picked up a fair amount of Spanish in her stints in juvenile corrections, and had found it useful navigating her native New York slums. "Bienvenido a Roanapura."
Garcia's eyes widened. "My, what a polite girl! You aren't much like your sister!"
"Oh, they're more alike than not," Rock commented, with a rueful grin. "She's one apple that didn't fall far from the tree, as you Americans would say."
Rachel was examining the boy closely, and quickly decided she really liked what she saw. He was looking at her, too, as though he'd never seen a girl before. Rachel was suddenly conscious of the fact that she hadn't put much effort into her appearance. If I'd known that a handsome young guy my own age would show up, I'd have worn my better clothes, and done something with my hair! Rachel was normally resigned to being dismissed as "just a kid," but that didn't mean she was averse to male company, or didn't miss it sometimes.
She noticed that the tall woman, who seemed to be "Roberta," and her sister were giving each other the evil eye. Rachel hero-worshipped her big sister, and instantly took a dislike to this Roberta person.
Dutch cleared his throat. "So, what brings you three back here? I never thought I'd ever see you around here again after the last time."
To Rachel's surprise, the boy answered, while the two grown women deferred to him. "The Lovelace family has come into conflict with the Cuban Dirección de Inteligencia. That's what they call their spy service. They've stolen some technology that we were going to use to revive the Lovelace fortunes, and are planning to use it in a secret compound they've constructed near here. We're here to get it back."
Rachel's eyes went wide. "One kid my age and two maids? How do you plan to do it, ask nicely? Throw teacups at them? Cry until they give you the stuff back?" Her voice trailed off, as she noticed the way all the adults were looking at her. Her sister and friends from the Lagoon Company were trying, too late, to shush her, and most of the other adults in the bar were staring at her like she'd just started juggling nitroglycerine. Bao had ducked out of sight behind the bar, which Rachel knew was a sign that trouble was on the way.
The taller of the two maids…Roberta, that was her name…picked up the umbrella she had leaned by the table. Rachel looked at it carefully for the first time, and nearly fainted. The umbrella concealed a SPAS-12 combat shotgun, and the fabric of the canopy was bulletproof Kevlar. Roberta smiled…or, to put it more correctly, she showed her teeth. Rachel had seen friendlier smiles on hungry sharks.
"Oh, I think we can…reason…with these Cubans, little girl," Roberta purred. "And I can certainly see how much you're like your sister."
*baht-Thai money. One baht is worth about 2.5 US cents at the time of this story.
END Chapter 01