“Alright, mateys, lissen up, says I!” Slicer the Rat growled. He was attempting to lay out his plan to lay siege to the Diamond Isles, but his crew was in no mood to hear him. Entranced and beguiled by the thought of the beautiful rat wenches they would find on shore, all attention and focus sailed off the quarterdeck like a lone gully rag in a strong wind. Slicer growled louder. The noise on deck desisted little. Necrid, a particulary annoying bit of young rat scum, was flicking bits of metal wire at his fellow crewmates, which riled them up even further. He was oblivious to Slicer, who stalked up behind him. Slicer the Rat would have order, and have order now. Necrid flicked a bit of wire high over his own head, laughing impishly as he turned to see where it would land. The bit of metal wire went “boing!”- off the head of Captain Slicer! The crew was in mid-guffaw- such was their uncontrolled nature- and then silence fell over the deck like a blanketing fog as Slicer’s arm shot out like a cannon and gripped Necrid by the throat. Slicer’s agitated looked grew calm and an evil smile crept over his countenance as he lifted Necrid off his disrespectful feet. The scraggly young rat’s legs pistoned in the air as Slicer’s grip squeezed tighter. Slicer brought his face up close to the rebellious rodent’s ever widening eyes. “And now I have quiet, eh, Necrid? All thanks to you. Well, now,” Slicer began to shout and look over to the stunned crew, “It appears Necrid’s silence is the key to your cooperation. Your silence and cooperation are non-negogiable with me, so therefore, I better ensure that this state of Necrid’s silence lasts for eternity. Ain’t that right, Necrid, me lad?” The young rat’s legs began to piston more violently beneath him, and his eyes bulged as Slicer’s grip grew tighter and tighter. A few strangled liquid gasps were the only noises to escape Necrid. Blood, however, escaped at a faster rate, and in more quantity, for as Slicer tightened his grip, he flexed his sharp and piercing claws, until he had severed the young rat’s throat. Blood poured over Slicer’s arm as it hemorrhaged from Necrid’s mouth and the wounds in his throat. Slicer began to laugh, his horrid cackles reverberating across the length of the ship and off onto the gray sea beyond. Then he growled, and with a mighty disdainful heave, tossed Necrid’s limp body over the side. Ripping the back of a young crew member’s shirt off, he wiped the blood off his arm, then hurled the rag over the side as well. He whipped around to face the crew. ‘Alright, mateys, lissen up!” he growled. Silence. Dead silence.

After the incident with Necrid, Capt. Slicer gave one last menacing look and growl at the rest of his cowering crew before retiring to his cabin. A sea breeze gently fluttered the parchment and feathers on his desk as he threw himself into his chair and put his feet up. He put his paws behind his head and breathed a long contented sigh. He reached over and flipped open a box of cigars, selecting one, then changing his mind and grabbing another. Lighting a match by dragging it across the wooden floor with his tail, he lit the cigar, took a few puffs, and sat back once again. The smoke wreathed around his head and like his thoughts, hung heavy in the air. After a few moments of silence, he called out, seemingly to no one. “Land in sight, me lad. And what does the future hold?” A straw basket in one corner of the cabin, surrounded by fine silks and blankets, began to bend and sway. A black silk scarf covering the basket top rose, reaching toward the ceiling like creeping darkness. A low hiss could be heard from the interior of the basket, as if air was escaping from the depths of hell. The black scarf slipped away, revealing even blacker scales which writhed and flexed as an enormous snake uncoiled itself from a deep sleep. The head was shaped like a spade, the snake’s eyes glowed a dirty yellow, the pupils mere slits. It pointed its nose into the air, and long black forked tongue emerged from its mouth, tasting the stale air of the cabin. The snake turned and faced Slicer, and the faintest hint of a smile crept across its reptilian lips. The low hiss could be heard again, this time with a hint of satisfaction. “Ahhhhhhyesssssssss, Ssssssliccccccer, we are ever clossssser to our sssuccccesssss, are we not?” The searat captain suppressed a shudder, covering it by throwing out a wicked laugh, which echoed about the cabin.

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