Well, we thought it was about time we put something into Plokta that could fairly be said to be in the best tradition of KTF fanwriting -- Keelhaul the Fuckers...

Pirates Always Speaks In The Present Tense... Aaaargh!

"My children, it is my dying wish that you take these logbooks and burn them so that no man may know the truth of what happened upon that terrible voyage..."


Friday, November 14th in the year of our lord 1697. I have received orders from the Admiralty to take command of the 14-page sloop Plokta and embark on an expedition to the Spanish Main. All hands set to scrubbing the keel and mending sails. I have ordered extra rations to be brought on board in case we are becalmed. Much excitement among the men at the prospect of rich prizes to be taken from the Spanish treasure fleets. Seaman Dop keelhauled for goat-buggery on the aft deck but survived, as we'd forgotten that the ship was still in dry-dock. Ordered rape counselling for goat.

...fair winds and calm seas. Have opened the sealed orders. Their lordships wish us to hunt down the dreaded Croydon pirates, the terror of the Caribbean. Told the crew we are searching for Spanish merchantmen laden with gold. Seaman Dop flogged for unnatural act with porpoise.

...while on course for Hispaniola, have been caught by a sudden storm and forced to seek refuge in the harbour of the small island of Great Malvern. To our surprise, we found the harbour full of ships of diverse nature.

"Master pilot! What ships are these in the harbour?"

"Why zur, 'tis the Novacon fleet be in. A free-drinking crew they be, gambling and fighting in the streets, a-chasing the doxies and all. 'Tis Spanish gold they be a-paying with, bugger I wi' a marlin spike, else."

"Bosun, get the men to carry our bags up to the Abbey Inn."

"Aye Sir"

"And Bosun..."

"Aye Sir?"

"Tell Seaman Dop to put down that marlin spike at once!"

...on our way up the long road leading from the harbour to the inn, Mr Scott did espy a strange vessel entering the harbour. At her masthead flew the infamous skull and crossed-bananas feared throughout the Caribbean. The Croydon pirates! Even as we watched, the flag fluttered down, to be replaced by a simple flag of convenience (Gents). Do they suspect we are on their trail? Moved our baggage into our room at the inn. Seaman Dop clapped in irons after mistaking the governor's wife for a doxy.

"Avast ye swabs! Careful wi' that laptop, it be worth more than a dozen o' ye scurvy dogs put together, dang I if it bain't."

"Bosun, why is it that our room is always at the far end of the hotel?"

"Couldn't rightly say, Cap'n. Be you a-wanting me to give the hotel manager a taste o' the cat?"

"Better not, Bosun. I don't think he's recovered from seeing his predecessor disembowelled. Of course, they should never have promised us a four-poster bed if they didn't have any, but I did feel that donating his intestines to the beer and sausage evening might have been going a bit far."

...did shortly leave our room and venture down the long corridors (haunted, they do say, by the ghost of a young maiden named Maureen Speller) to the bar below, where chaos reigned. See any pirate movie for gory details. Seamen quaffed their pints of grog, cursed, fought and exchanged fanzines. Up a side passage, seminars were being held on "Where to get laid in Tortuga", "Just how much rum can you drink?" and "Ten places to hide a Gestetner on a 20 foot ketch". Below stairs, deep in the dungeons, pirates were dancing arm in arm, waving bottles of Laphroaig with any free appendage.

"...another pint of rum? ...don't mind if I do ...four months and seventeen days! ...no, I'm not a truffan! No! No! No! ...the heat! The flies! ...I'd watch out if I were you, the press gang's about. ...he doesn't so much have brewer's droop as distiller's plummet. ...getcha fresh fanzines, lovely fresh ansibles, straight off the tree! ...will the last person to leave the hall please switch off the band. ...Tobes!? I don't want to have a baby drunken fuckwit! ...Pam, how could you miss your own room party? ...Prosit, Prosit, gemutlichkeit rover no more! ...but it was an underage goat! ...a pint of real grog, barman! ...Andy told Blackbeard he was a fire hazard so we marooned him on a sandbank ...half-naked skinny elf boys. ...rum, sodomy and the lash?! Where do I sign up? ...seized a fortune in doubloons from this Spanish merchantman, the WorldFantasyCon, out of Cadiz! ...one of the best science fiction books ever published! ...a pint of grog? Don't mind if I do. What did you say your name was? <thonk> Another volunteer for the chairman's shilling, Roger! ...any advance on fifty? Sold to Captain Ameringen for fifty pieces of eight! ...No, Robbie! Down! Give those shoelaces back at once! ...four months and eighteen days!

...through the crowd wandered sundry groups of swarthy sailors: notably the Black Spot For Alison (BSFA) society, Ian Sorensen for The Plank (closely followed by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sharks) , Wombats for Jesus and of course the lovely ladies from Madam Fifi's House of Sin French Academy (prop. Lilian Edwards) along with their interpreters.

"Ah monsieur le matelot, la plage c'est tres jolie, n'est ce pas?" ("Hello Sailor, want a good time then?") "Je m'appelle Christina et je suis sur un voyage circumglobale" ("My name's Christina and I'm going all the way") "Nom d'un nom!" ("My god that's a big one!") "Je veux ma maman!" ("Sorry, no dogs, parrots or Mike Siddall").

"Look yonder Cap'n! Standing there in the hall, a-wearin' they red silk weskits! Could that be...?!"

...and indeed, it were the dreaded Captain Claire, terror of the seas, and her fiendish lieutenant, Mark "The Plumber" Nobeard.

"Keep down, bosun. Try to blend into the background and hope they don't notice us... Ah, they've gone."

"Be you the crew of the Plokta?"

"And what be it to you if we are? And if it's about Seaman Dop, we've never heard of him and he's nothing to do with us anyway."

"Why Cap'n, I have something here you might be interested in. I found it in an ancient fanzine that I got from Memory Hole. Now I'm just a simple conrunner, but it seemed to me you might be interested."

"So what gave you that impression? Mr, er Miss...

"McMurray. Pat McMurray. You see, 'tis no use to a single man, but they do say you have a fast ship and if you let me be on your con committee cut me in for a share, then... Aaarrgh!"

Pat McMurray, Dave Hicks & David Mellor
Pat McMurray, armed only with a shield of Umor, is slain by Dave Hicks wielding a cardboard cut-out of David Mellor

"See, Cap'n! Clutched in his dying hand! A treasure map!"

"Quite, Bosun. Don't wave it about, the rest will be wanting one too. I don't suppose you read Spanish, do you? No? I think we're going to have to take this to Father Michael up at the abbey. Oh, and Bosun."

"Aye, Sir."

"Please clean the blood off your sword, it's dripping all over the carpet."

...did take the map to the Abbot who received us in his study and offered us tea and cake.

"Why Captain, how pleasant to see you. Please put the kettle on. No, on the fire. What do you have here? Bless my soul! Do you know what this is? A treasure map! See, these lines here are in the ancient script known as Ouingdings. Just allow me to translate... 150 pages west of the twisted tree... Seventeen pages east by south-east... Twenty pages north... Turn round twice, rut like a wombat and dig to the height of three Gestetners... Signed Tony Berry X his mark... Yes, it's really quite clear. I'll just write down the translation for you."

"Why, thank you reverend sir. We are in your debt. Maybe we could cut you in for, say, a one tenth share? After expenses, of course, the cost of paper is so high these days."

"No, Captain. Why, what need have I, a frugal man of the cloth, for untold amounts of money? Be off with you, but be sure to come back and tell me how you got on."

...did collect the men together quietly and returned to our ship where we made ready to slip our anchor and depart in the dead of night. Surgeon extracted thirty splinters from Seaman Dop following incident with figurehead.

"Men, we have gained information that may make every one of us rich. But nobody outside this ship must know where we are bound."

Lillian Edwards & Mike Siddall
Madame Fifi and an anonymous Seaman Siddall

"'Tis the fabled treasure of Rog Peyton, the spoil of a thousand cities! We'm rich me hearties! Rich! Rich!! Rich!!!"

"Silence! Bosun, take that man's name! We don't yet know what the treasure is, or indeed if it is still there. All we have is a map showing where it was buried. And before anyone gets ideas about stealing the map and taking the treasure themselves, let me point out that the directions are all in code. Now, prepare to leave harbour as quietly as you can!"

...sailed to the map reference deciphered by the good abbot, where we sighted a desolate island not marked on any of the usual charts. Extra rum ration all round except for Seaman Dop. At dawn we did launch our jolly-boat and landed a party upon the beach.

"What's that you've found there, Bosun? A sign of life?"

"'Tis a message in a bottle sir! Why 'tis a fillo! fine piece of original artwork! And it be in the hand of Ben Gunn D West, as was marooned on the island of Keighley in the Seventies by Captain Ashley."

"Looks like he's still there, then."

Near the beach we did find the twisted tree and began to measure out the distances from it. Carefully, we followed the instructions on the ancient chart. Then we dug, but found nothing.

"I don't understand it, Bosun. We measured out the distance exactly. You don't suppose we could have got some short pages in there somehow, could we?

"Captain, that be it! Our pages be A4, but if this chart uses the old quarto size then we should be digging yonder!"

"Good work Bosun, and this time get Seaman Dop to do the rutting like a wombat bit, will you? He seems to have a natural talent for it."

"Cap'n! We've found a chest!"

"Well, what are you waiting for? Open it, man!"

"'Tis full of empty bottles Cap'n! And a life-size cut-out of David Mellor, and some critic's head on a stick, and a strange electrickal apparatus and... Wait! What be this at the bottom? Why! 'Tis the far-famed Nova award, stap me for a trekkie, else! Solid gold she be and encrusted with jewels! Why, there be enough here to make a rich man of every mother's son aboard the ship!"

Alison Scott & David Mellor
David Mellor assaults Alison Scott


"Was that you coughing, Bosun?"

"No, sir!"

"Then who...?"

"So, Captain. We meet again. I'll take that Nova award if I may. Just pass it up out of the hole. Now, none of you move, and you needn't bother shouting, your sentries seem to have met with a slight accident."

"Why! 'Tis Father Michael from the Abbey of Saint Roscoe! And Reverend Mother Wells. And Sir John Dallman! I thought you said you had no interest in the treasure."

"I lied. Now toss that award up here smartish and I just might let you live."

...as dawn was breaking, we returned to the Plokta, our heads aching from the rum having been knocked unconscious.

"Curse those scurvy dogs! We're not beaten yet. Tell the men to cast off and we'll give chase."

"Aye aye sir! Slip the anchor! Lower the mainsail! Felch the mizzenmast! Cast off forw'rd, purl two astern. Raise the stern tops'l gallant mid-sub vice deputy under-sails! Ready the bow guns! Step to it lively, me hearties! A double share of gold for the first man to spot their sails!"

...Chased the Attitude for seven days. We seem to be gaining. They have thrown overboard all unnecessary baggage. Passed a white whale on the port bow, or possibly just the Reverend Mother. Seaman Dop hung upside down from the mizzenmast for performing an act of unspeakable depravity upon Midshipman Aubrey....

"Right, men! I know the Attitude's bigger than us, but she's undermanned and on her last issue so she's not going to be able to fight back. As soon as we catch up, we're going to board her and recover the Nova."

...boarded the Attitude and seized the Nova after a desperate battle.

"Captain! You wouldn't kill a man of the cloth would you?"

"No, I suppose I wouldn't. Bosun!"

...but as we left the burning wreck of the Attitude, there came a cry from our crowsnest. It was the lookout.

"Cap'n! A sail! A sail! There be a ship astern and she be coming up fast! I don't know how she found us but I swear it be the Winged Banana!"

"Curses! There's no way we can hope to beat a 56-page zine o'war with just a 14-page sloop. They've got us out-gunned in every department. And look there, on the foredeck, they're readying the bow-Kincaid! If he hits us below the waterline we could go straight to Greg Pickersgill's locker!"

"We're doomed, I tell you! Doomed!"

Fans on a sofa
Dop, Noel, Marcus, Linda Clare, Ziggy, Wag and Tobes roistering in the Abbey Hotel

"Listen up, men. We're going to turn and give them a broadside. Ready all starboard gun crews!"


"A hit! We've blown away their no-shagging disclaimer!"


"Cap'n! They've hit us in the loccol! Aaargh!"

"Quick, take this man to the surgeon!"

...as the shot from their guns whistled around our ears, we did rush our wounded below decks...

"Hmm, do you feel anything when I do this?"


"How about this?"


"Strange. What about this?"


"Mmmmm. I'm afraid we're going to have to amputate. Seaman, read this."

"What be it, sir?"

"It's a progress report for the next British Worldcon bid."


...successfully removed eight paragraphs, but unfortunately the patient died. Tied a copy of Warhoon 28 to his feet and consigned him to the Wahfs.

"Cap'n, they be closing on us. They're going to board!"

"All hands prepare to repel boarders! Babies and cats below decks! They won't take us without a fight!"

The pirates began to swing aboard the Plokta, giving their dreaded cry of "Waaaaah! I'm crap!" and hurling their fearsome combat wombats into the fray. We fought as hard as we could, yet slowly their vast advantage of numbers began to tell. One by one, our gallant sailors were struck over the head and tied to the mast.

"On guard!"

"Take that you swine!"


"Cap'n! They've got the chest!"

Claire Brialey
Captain Claire shows off her chest booty

...having seized what they had come for, the pirates began to retreat back to the Winged Banana, carrying in their midst the treasure chest with the fabled Nova award. They cast off and hoisted their sails just as we finally fought free of our bonds.

"Look Cap'n! There on the Banana's deck! That man with his trousers round his feet."

"I'd recognise that scabrous backside anywhere! 'Tis Seaman Dop! The traitorous dog! Why he must have been one of the Croydon pirates all along! That's how they knew where we were."

"Why! Why!! The... the..."

"There, there, bosun. Here, blow your nose on this sail. The pirates may have won this round, but next year we'll be back!"

Continued in next week's thrilling episode
"Wreck of the Banana"

-- Steve "avast ye hearties" Davies

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