XIV The Victory Ball

The ABC War was over, the Netherlands had won. And now four months later the Royal Netherlands Navy was hosting a party in Fort Oranje in Oranjestad on the island St. Eustatius. Because of the heroic actions of the Sunset Dawn at the Battle at Klein Curaçao, saving the Zr.Ms. Willem Barentsz from an almost certain defeat against the Almirante General. The pirates against their wishes, were invited as honoured guests.

The crew had held a big debate on deck on whether or not to even sail to St. Eustatius, it might be a trap. But the letter Armani had given them, which he had gotten via another of his mysterious cousins. Was pretty clear, the crew was pardoned for all previous actions. And included with the letter was also a Letter of marque dated back to before the events at Klein Curaçao, to cover their actions on paper. But not everyone of the crew felt save, understandably. Rose was adamant that she wanted to go. So after a two day debate it was decided that the whole crew would sail along with the Sunset Dawn, but only the Captain and Bobby would visit the ball, and the rest would be save on board. Ready to help in case something went wrong ashore, if that was either to form a resque party or sink what ever was infornt of their guns remained unspoken. Most of the crew would've been okay if their Chief Officer Jan de Jongh went as well, but he didn't want to go himself, due to previous negative encounters with law enforcement personell.

It was just a day before they were due to arrive the dawn was leaning under sail and making a nice head way, when Michael asked: "Uhm, Cap what do you plan to wear to this ball?"
-Rose looked down at her denim skirt. "This skirt and a clean shirt?"
"You can't be serious. Chief, what are you wearing?" The Boatswain called out to Bobby.
-"I think I got my old company uniform still in the bottom of my trunk. But cap, you really can't wear a t-shirt." Bobby answered.
"I don't really have anything else. Guess I'll have to go look in the town if I can buy something."
-"Buy? Captain, you are a pirate." It was Lisa-Marie who had joined in on the conversation, while petting Roger who snoozed in her arms.

The conversation with the Harbourmaster was one Rose had never had quite like before. He plain out asked if they where the pirate vessel the navy had invited. Sweat was pouring down Rose her back, and half the crew froze in their tracks on deck when he called that out from his little boat. "Yes, that's us." Jan shouted back, not at all sounding convincing. "Cool. Welcome to Oranjestad!" was all they got back, and the boat raced off over the waves.
"Thank you King Neptune" Someone sighted.

As soon as the ship was tidied up, Aleksey, Jack, Marshmallow, Lisa-Marie Couteau and Triki lowered one of the ship's boat and went ashore. Before they went off they had a whole conversation with Michael. Rose assumped it was about staying save and not getting into trouble as they were guests of the navy at the moment.

"Cap" Michael started. "Did you know my parents were tailors?"
- "No, what does that have to do with anything?"
"Everything" Said Michael with a grin. "Even if I didn't want to, I think I picked up enough about sewing that I can make you a dress."
- "No Boatswain that won't be necessary. I can go ashore to ge..."
"Nope, the crew has decided otherwise. Please stand on the bollard, so I can take some measurements."
- "Is that your carpenters measuring tape??" Rose asked awkwardly as Michael wrapped the steel ribbon around her waist.
"Yeah well I don't have another."

Marsh and Triki had headed for a boutique they had found on the map they had liberated from a tourist stand. To see if they could get some fabrics there. Seconds after they had walked in, the owner was on their back asking what they wanted in a tone that could only mean "Get the fuck out of my posh shop you filthy sailors." "Do you have any navy blue cloth?" Triki asked. Pretending to not understand the tone of the shop owner at all. ""No I don't." Came back the sharp reply. Marsh was wondering around the store, and the owner was having trouble looking at both of them. So Triki kept them busy by asking for white tulle, and red and gold coloured fabric. The latter three the boutique did have. And the owner sensing that Triki was actually trying to buy something became a bit more friendly.

"So what did you get?" Triki asked Marsh as soon as they stepped out. Marsh grinned and from his pockets he pulled a fancy golden button, slightly domed with the profile of a rose on it. "Two dozen of these." His hand went into his other coat pocket, and produced a whole roll of gold ribbon. "Also in red, and enough sewing string for the Boats' to repair the main sail twice over." "Nice catch pirate" Triki said jokingly as they continue to wander the streets.

"I would really like to have some dark navy blue fabric aswell." Michael said. Half the crew was gathered in the hold of the Dawn, looking at the stuff they had collected earlier that day. Roger was already chased of twice as he had diced the tulle also made an excellent cat bed. But now the Ship's cat was running around with a gold ribban bow around his neck.

Together with items they had gathered from around the ship. Three white bed sheets were on the brink of being repurposed, and Alejandro had propposed to use some of the diamonds they had stolen from their smuggling run. But that still left them without any blue fabric for a jacket, they didn't have any like it on the ship.

"I have an idea, but the captain must not hear about this until we are out of here." It was Jan de Jongh who had spoken with a strickt tone. Everybody looked at him, the Chief plotting against the captain? That must be some good stuff. "Well there is a navy base here, and they have stores...." Jan let his words trail. "So you want to ask them?" Jack asked. "Hell no, we don't have to ask. We can just borrow"

Jack, Lisa and Amalia Ka where running down the streets of Oranje stad at three in the morning that very same night, in the distance behind them an alarm could be heard, and voices calling out in distress trough the darkness. But they were laughing, when they hurried into The Last Drop ale house, as each of them had managed to get a new dark blue navy jacket. Soon to be disassembled and remade by their Bos'n. The three of them stayed in the Last Drop till the sun rose, and then went back to the Dawn, giggling from the alcohol induced haze.

On deck they found Michael shouting across the deck: "NO no nooo! Jack you have to cut it with the warp not with the weft, that'll look horrible!" Lisa looked at Amalia, and she shrugged. Together they watched how the bosun pulled the cloth out of jack's hands, who looked utterly confused about the whole ordeal.

"Michael! I'm NOT going to wear pumps. Do you know how hard it is to walk on those? I'm not an elf, I'm a pirate!. Have you ever tried?"
- "I don't think elves have pumps cap., and no, they don't exist in my size."
"Oh they go quit big Bosun." Said Rose with an evil grin.
"I wear the black sneakers."
- "Yes captain."

Michael went on explaining how the skirt had a pocket on the lift, and a fake pocket on the right, that was only a slit so Rose could get her to her pistol. The jacket was a piece of art. Intricate gold ribbons where placed all over it, showing off the rank insignia of a captain in an alternative fashion. But even here in the full sun on deck the glittering off all the diamonds they had placed on the jacket could not be missed.

After Rose was completely dressed, Michael noted. "This truly is a A ball gown fit for a pirate captain"

Rose was slightly nervous when she passed through the metal detector. They hadn't foreseen that, who is going to lead a whole group of uniformed people through a scanner? People full of medals, sabres, buttons, and whatnot. Of course, it went off when she passed through.
"Mam, could you lay off your sabre and jacket and pass again." The security guard asked.
Rose did as he asked and passed through the scanner again, it went off again.
"Mam, do you carry anything metal on you? Could you please take that off?"
-"I'm wearing a corset, do you want me to strip naked?"
"Uhm" The guard visibly uncomfortable. "No, you can pass, thank you, mam."
Later inside, Bobby asked: "Are you? Wearing a corset?"
-"Nope, but I did get my Стриж inside."

The evening started with a speech, and another, someone telling a story, and even a prayer. Plenty people in the audience where chatting to each other, walking around, and getting drinks at the bar. The atmosphere was relaxed. But Rose and Bobby where mostly left on their own. People sensed that they were different, and were maybe a little scared.

When the award ceremony came, a whole row of captains of war ships, support ships, and merchant ships were called forward. All captains were receiving the Knight Grand Cross in the Military Order of William. People in the crowd applauded and cheered when the captains where called forward one by one, listing the action of why they had gotten the medal.

"And for the actions of the Sunset Dawn at the Battle at Klein Curaçao the king has promoted Captain R.A. Oak with the Commander in the Military Order of William." The hall got real quiet, everyone knew the story, that a rogue pirate vessel had blasted a war ship clean out of the water, the navy had tried to keep a lid on the story, but couldn't. The story of the Sunset Dawn soon became the favourite of the Dutch general public, and reporters flew out to the Caribbean amidst the war to try to find the ship. Rose would've been content to hear nothing of it ever again, but here she stood on the Victory Ball hosted by the Navy that hunted her in their spare time. Bobby poked her in the side. "Cap, that's you." Rose felt her heart beating in her throat as she made her way towards the stage, some people looked angry at her, not even trying to hide their expressions.

On the stage stood Commander Pieter Blok, with a big smile. Rose was relieved it was him. The captain of the Zr.Ms. Willem Barentsz she had saved all those months ago. "Thank you captain for helping us." His simple words broke the silence in the hall and a soft mumbling started, as Rose got the star pinned on her jacket and the medal around her neck. "I'm sorry but they only supplied the male versions, and you should've gotten a Grand too." Pieter said softly. When Rose stepped down from the podium there was at least an applause, not as enthusiastic as with the others but most people joined in.

Bobby was talking with some other engineers in a corner, about something technical, Rose didn't understand half of it, and that was if she was being generous with herself. When an elderly man approached her, full white beard, very very stereotypical for a seaman. If you had to draw a captain, you'd draw him. "Captain" He started, with a slight bow. "Do you dance?" The music had been playing for a while and many others where moving on the dance floor, and Rose knew better then to ask Bobby. "Yes please" Rose grabbed his held out hand. He was a good dancer. "Who, if I may ask am I dancing with?" Rose asked. "Oh pardon my impoliteness, I'm Pieter-Jan Egberink, Commodore of the Trading for Profit Shipping Company." They talked abit about what he had done during the war. When the music changed they returned to the bar. He suddenly stopped. "Where did you get that ring?" Rose had long ditched the gloves Michael had given her to hide her brused fingers. (Don't stick your hand between a falling hatch.) "I did not steal it, if that's what you think. I inherited it from my father." She replied while pulling her hand out of his. "Sorry sorry, I thought I recognised the design." Unbeknownst to Rose, he was rubbing a silver ring on his own finger with his thumb.

"FILTHY PIRATE!" The shout came from somewhere behind Rose, as she turned she saw an angry young man walking towards her. Blood shot eyes, his tie was gone. His jacket hanging askew. "Can I help you?" Rose asked as sarcastically as she could. "YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO THAT MEDAL!" Someone behind him tried to pull him back, but got rewarded with an elbow to the nose, and disappeared to the ground.

The lieutenant, Rose knew her stripes. Came stomping towards her. People where moving out of the way, clearing a space. Rose spotted Bobby pushing himself trough the crowd to come to her. But she softly shook her head, and he waited to the side. "YOU ARE A PIRATE!" He shouted again, pointing to rose with a half empty glass of beer, he was waving about so violently he spilled what was remaining. "You already told me that, boy" The insult landed.

"PREPARE TO DIE BITCH!" and with those words the man pulled his sabre. "Stijn don't!" It sounded from somewhere in the crowd. But Rose laughed, and smoothly pulled her to greet her opponent. The crowd backed off even more as the two engaged. Rose had to give if to Stijn, he knew how to hold a sabre. But the idiot was drunk, this was a game for her.

Rose noticed Stijn shuffled backwards when she pushed the attack a bit harder, slowly she made small forward gains with every lunge and riposte. And every time he moved a bit back. She almost had him where she wanted, just two more moves and when their blades crossed the third tine, as expected his heels hit the edge of the frame that marked out the dance floor and he lost his balance and landed on his ass among the crowd, whom hurriedly moved out of the way, when he fell he also managed to loose the grip on his sabre, and it slid across the dance floor well out of reach. Rose took a step back and stood up straight for a salute and said with a smile:
“First rule of fencing; Hold on to your sword. Boy.
This resulted in a loud laughter from the crowd, but didn’t land well with Stijn. He turned dark red and jumped up to storm towards Rose, he was stopped by someone who spoke “Calm down, you..” but before he could finish Stijn’s fist hit his chin and the man dropped to the floor.
Rose spotted the epaulettes, four stars, a vice admiral. Stijn just knocked out someone important. The room fell dead silent for a few seconds, even Stijn seemed to realise what he had just done, and then the hall erupted in loud shouting and people jumped forward.
Bobby instantly appeared by her side and surprisingly calmly said: “Time to go I think captain.” Rose somehow managed to put her sabre in the scabbard while she and Bobby pushed their way trough the crowd witch was erupting into a full fledged brawl and a shouting match.

Suddenly while they where trying to make their way to the main entrance she and Bobby where grabbed by the shoulder and pulled side ways, “This way. Quickly.” And the commander who had pulled them aside led them trough a side door, trough the pantry into a corridor. “Follow this corridor it leads to an service exit, better make your way back to your ship before you get the blame for all this.” -“Thank you” Rose said.
“No thank you, captain.” And with those words he saluted and went back towards the ball room.

Bobby and Rose were hurrying trough the streets of Oranjestad, nobody seemed to be aware of what happened at the big party yet. People where partying everywhere, crews from many different ships were singing drunk on the street. And they did not stand among those either. They went to the Last Drop for a drink, and to wait for the clock to reach the agreed time, when Michael would be there to pick them up at the harbour.

"Who was that, who pulled us out of there?" Bobby asked, after he emptied his Rum glass in one go.
- "I don't know, never seen him before." Rose answered. "But on this invitation paper I picked from his pocket it says Commander Richard Janssen, MIVD".
"How did you get that?" Bobby asked.
- "Pirate" Rose answered and she emptied her own glass too.
"What is MIVD?"
- "Dutch CIA"
"So we got rescued by a spook huh?"
- "It appears so"
"Interesting.

They had set sail early in the morning, no need to linger among all those navy ships. That wasn't their scene. Around lunch Bobby came to Rose, who was hanging out with Marshmallow who was on watch. "The crew would like a word with you." And he led her down tho the gun deck. "Bobby what is this about?"

Gathered there, all shirtless, stood the crew of the Sunset Dawn. Jerry was sitting in the middle. With a box in his lab. "Captain, what do you know about Sailors Tattoos?" He asked.
Rose her eyes moved from one to another, they where all showing off their tattoos, she knew they told a story.
"There is this one" Jerry pointed to a Five pointed star on his right fore arm. And some others of the crew turned their arm to show they had the same. "It symbolises that a sailor has won a bar fight in a foreign port." Jerry pointed to the stool beside him. And took his Tattoo pen from the box. "Shall we begin?"



Cover image: by Johannes Plenio

Comments

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Dec 29, 2022 22:07

Great story :) It sounds like an awesome ball to be a witness to xD

Dec 29, 2022 22:46 by Bart Weergang

Thank you ! That would've been something yes!

Jan 1, 2023 11:57 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

That was quite a ball! XD

To see what I am up to: my Summer Camp 2024.
Jan 1, 2023 19:31 by Bart Weergang

It was! :D good entertainment trough out the evening! :P