Lecherous Nikolai returned, wearing a leather dominatrix outfit and carrying a bundle of papers. "Here, my little cherubim, here are your forms. And a little bit of poetry, too. I like to work on it here and there. Eats nice. Oh well, nice to meet you boys! Tell Bask I said 'Hi there big boy!'."
Tobias and Oliver, their entrance papers in their hands and the awful image of Nikolai in tight leather on their minds, raced back to the docks. They found that the Lady Juliana had not set sail yet, and that their contact on the ship, sailor Lawrence Base, was still standing guard at the boarding plank.
"Well," Lawrence grumbled as Tobias and Oliver approached, "if it isn't the Brothers Grime. I'll tell you now, I won't have any wasted time spent with you two. I'm a busy man, and I can't go through it again."
Tobias curtsied and said, "Good Sir Base, we needn't waste any time at all. For here, presto, are our papers."
Sir Base snatched the papers out of Tobias' hands and read them over. "Well," he said when finished, "congratulations on the birth of your daughter, but I don't see what this has to do with anything. Now, away, flies."
Oliver howled. "Sin!" he snarled, "He gave us the wrong papers. Nikolai will pay for this. What punishment would befit the little lech? What could I do to him that he wouldn't enjoy?"
"No, man, there's no time!" Tobias yelled. "We're just about on noon. I say we just clock him over the head and sneak aboard. What say you?"
"Wut?" Lawrence asked, scrunching up his leathery mug.
"I think it's brilliant," Oliver said. He and Tobias set in on to Lawrence, gave him two nasty raspberries, and then synchronously punched him in the sides of the head. The surly sailor fell like a silk handkerchief, off the side of the pier into the harbor, where he slowly sank out of view into the murky depths.
"Did we kill him?" Oliver wondered aloud after watching the still surface of the water for five minutes or so.
"I think the water killed him," Tobias decided.
"DAMN YOU, WATER! WHYYY?!" Oliver howled, shaking the timbers of the pier itself. "Well, let's go then, shall we?" he asked pluckily, and then skipped up the boarding plank and onto the ship. Tobias followed after, tossing handfuls of flowers from a satchel at his waist.
The Lady Juliana was a very cramped and dark vessel, and it stank of onions. Tobias and Oliver soon found themselves pressed up against of number of ill-looking rogues and wenches, a sweaty stew of malfeasance and disregard for hygiene.
"Oliver," Tobias whispered, "I do believe this is the worst stench I have ever nosed."
A cook suddenly popped his pimpled head up through the galley floor. "Who wants hot dogs?" he asked warmly.
Oliver gagged. "Now that is the 'wurst' smell I have ever nosed."
"Your puns prick me, Oliver," Tobias whined.
"Really?" Oliver asked. "Even if you put mustard on it? Ketchup? What is the wurst that could happen, after all?"
Tobias groaned. "Ugh. That's not the ship groaning by the way, it's me, my irky incorporate. Really though, these are some shady sorts, aren't they?" He stood and approached one of the other passengers, who was sharpening his knife on his beard stubble. "Good sir, tell me, what is the good ship Lady Juliana? Be she a sporting vessel? Jewel galleon? Pleasure dingy?"
Another passenger interjected, "If you don't know, you don't want to."
"And why," Tobias asked, "pray tell, is that?" He and Oliver leaned in anxiously.
"You've got to be joking!" the passenger said.
"No, we are not," Oliver assured him. "Do you want to hear one about a peanut, though?"
The passenger put a match to his pipe, puffed, and said, "Well then, serious sirs, I must with all seriousness inform you that this fine vessel, the Lady Juliana, is headed to Bask with a fresh crop of harlots for the royalty there."
"Come again?" Oliver asked.
"That's the idea!" the passenger laughed.
"Heaven help me, that's awful. Harlots, you said?" Tobias gulped.
"Harlots indeed," the passenger continued. "Hookers. Prosties. Whores. Women of ill repute. Bangers and cash."
Oliver looked the passenger over from head to toe. "You command a good price, do you?" he asked.
Tobias added, "I guess they are pretty stuck for companionship in the colony, eh? Sirrah, do tell me what you yourself are doing here, if not hooking, when, in fact, this is a floating brothel?"
"Oh, it's also a convict vessel," the passenger said. "Fenni Frog," he introduced himself.
"Which... you... would all be then, yes?" Oliver said, stuttering like a moron.
"Right you are, tiny little man," Fenni said. "In fact, I murdered a magistrate just yesterday. Deemed me unworthy of the stocks, he did."
Tobias gasped. "Save your soul," he said. "And so they've sent you to the new land as punishment, son?"
"Not half," Fenni roared, "I've been appointed Chief Justice!"
Tobias died a little inside. "If these are harbingers, we're in trouble."
Oliver answered,"No, they're whore-bringers, and yes, we're in trouble."
Fenni interrupted, saying, "Tell you lot what: I'm in need of a few government agents. Have either of you any experience?"
"In what trade, sirrah?" Bilge begged.
"Any, I guess," Fenni said. "Tax collector? Farmer? Sewage comptroller?"
"I once watched a man paint a fence," Oliver offered. "Am I qualified?"
"Sure you are!" Fenni said. "And, how's about Az-kabani over there?" he asked of a dark-skinned woman filing her teeth to points.
"Moolah haboo digga!" she said. "I am a chicken farmer!"
"Agricultural Consultant, then," Fenni said.
"I'll just go ahead and say that I would like the position of country ale-man," Tobias said.
"Consider it won!" Fenni said.
"Bask is going to be grand!" Tobias exclaimed. "Gods save the corn!"
Oliver joined his friend in a patriotic salute. "Gods save the corn!"
All the men and women on the ship began to sing and dance an extravagant, choreographed musical number.
Corn! There's nothing finer!
Corn! From farm or diner!
There's nothing better, fellow,
than that grain that's small and yellow!
Corn! Put it in a pot-pie
Corn! Feed it to a nice guy
If your food needs lots of filler
Corn's a killer-thriller-diller
Corn! Corn! Corn!
Suddenly, the ship's captain broke into the galley, screaming, "Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up!"
Tobias and Oliver slapped each other silly, and then fell asleep in a puppy-pile.
NEXT TIME: BANANAS