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Barroom Blitz

An original Shampoo ½ side story
by D.B. Sommer

All comments and criticisms appreciated. You can contact me at sommer@3rdm.net

Author’s notes: A few words o' explanation: Actually this story takes place in the Shampoo ½ universe (for those who still remember that by now ancient piece of work), however, despite the fact it technically exists in a world inspired by Rumiko Takahashi, I think it's pretty much an original work since none of the regulars, or even semi-regulars, from the R ½ universe are in it. Rather it works off some of the original characters from the S ½ universe, namely several key members of the crew of that lovely oceangoing vessel, 'The Worthless Piece Of Shit,' and maybe a reference or two to other author's original characters.

Madame Lao and her accomplices were created by Jim Bader. The rest are mine.

All comments and criticisms appreciated. You can contact me at sommer@3rdm.net

-Lime Warning- Harsh language and sexual references inside, so be prepared.

Kin Lo Wang despised her job in Chun Phat's Waterfront Bar more than she thought possible. Working in the what was widely believed to be the worst dive in the worst section of Shanghai as a waitress/prostitute was a dead-end that was going to get her either maimed, killed, or contracting some wonderful venereal disease that would end her days in misery and woe. Not that being born in the mountains of China, farming rocks her entire life and raising a family of anklebiters, had a future either, but at least the life expectancy was slightly higher than her current occupation.

But deep in her heart, Kin knew she was destined for better things, no matter how much the others in the village had laughed at the idea. It was that dissatisfaction that had led her to 'The Big City' of Shanghai in search of opportunities. The only one she found open to her was her current job at Phat's, or death by slow starvation. After a week of being forced to eat what rats she could catch, prostitution didn't sound like such a lousy option. She was attractive enough to get good rates. And the gods knew her taste in men up to that point in her life had been bad enough that at least getting paid for sex with a bunch of losers meant she would end up ahead in that respect. And the tips from waitressing weren't that bad, as long as one didn't mind the groping and the fact that a lot of the tips came in the form of gold teeth ripped out of someone's mouth.

But that was Chun Phat's for you. At least one corpse a night, and that was only if things were going slow. Not that Kin felt bad about that. The patrons of the bar were made up entirely of cutthroats, slavers, thieves, and murderers from all of Southeast Asia, the worst dregs of the earth all gathered in one spot. If the whole place burned down with all of them inside, not a tear would be shed, save by those that were owed money by the scum on the inside.

Still, Kin had an idle fantasy, a silly thing really, of some dashing pirate captain coming into the bar. The rogue's eyes would fall upon her, and his heart would be taken forever by her great beauty. He would sweep her off her feet and take her away from the hellhole she was stuck in. And as he carried her through the beer-sodden exit, like a husband would his blushing bride, he would whisper in her ear…

"Hey, sweet tits. Come on over and sit on the captain's magic lap for a long and thick surprise."

"THERE ISN'T ENOUGH MONEY IN THE WORLD, YOU LYING BASTARD!" Kin hated it when her fantasies ended up compromised by reality.

Her eyes fell on the table the comment had come from. Of all the scoundrels and perverts in the bar, and the place was wall-to-wall with them, Captain D'Amour was the worst of the lot. Everyone agreed on that. For Kin, the hatred extended beyond the norm because the first time her eyes had fallen upon the rogue's dashing form, she had made the mistake of believing her fantasy had come true. D'Amour was as handsome as they came, with bright blue eyes and long, blonde locks that made a woman want to run her hands through them for eternity. And his style of dress was impeccable. He even wore a manteau. There were probably less than a dozen men alive that could get away with that and not look like a prissy fop. But D'Amour could. He was the key to her freedom, her dreams reality at last. His charming words wooed her, and she had allowed him to bed her, free of charge.

And then she discovered, in excruciating detail, his personality.

Working as a prostitute in the most depraved dive in all of Shanghai was preferable to spending more than five minutes in the company of Captain D'Amour. He was the sleaziest, irritating, arrogant, deluded popinjay she had ever met. Oh, he had offered to take her away from the bar and to his ship, but only on the condition she have sex with him at his beck and call. No money for her either, and she would have to crew on his ship, oh, so aptly named 'The Worthless Piece of Shit', during those times when he didn't feel like sleeping with her. He could also have sex with any other woman he chose, while all men were off limits to her. And the clincher was when he demanded she sign an agreement not to mention the words 'marriage' or 'commitment' in his presence, even if it didn't relate directly to him.

After showing her the contract of the agreement he kept tucked in his boot, Kin promptly kicked him in the balls and threw him out the window. The final blow were his shouts claiming she was a "Stuck up bitch!" right up until the moment he hit the ground headfirst.

And now Kin was stuck waiting on his table. She always was, simply because she was the only waitress in the bar that could tolerate him for a minute. But Kin was that way, resilient. She could deal with anything when she had to. However, in her current mood she was tempted to ignore him, or kick him in the balls again for the sheer pleasure of it. Such fantasies were reconsidered. It wasn't for his sake, but rather his compatriots. Say what one would about what a complete asshole Captain D'Amour was, at least the members of his crew were better people. Well, relatively better when compared to their captain. And more importantly, they were damn good tippers.

Steeling herself, Kin walked over to the table where four people were currently seated. There was D'Amour, his lecherous look permanently affixed to her breasts as she approached. Then there was Brunt, a huge nearly seven-foot giant of a man with huge corded muscles that showed even through his somewhat loose khaki shirt. His bright white teeth contrasted sharply with the dark ebony of his skin. He looked like he could crush walnuts in his biceps, but he was one of the least intimidating men she knew when he unleashed that bright smile that he was currently wearing.

Then there was the Mr. Kawada, the first mate of the much-maligned TWPOS. He looked handsome too, though in a much more reserved way than D'Amour. His outstanding feature was not his outward appearance, which was every inch a normal Japanese male, but rather from his white tuxedo with the red rose stuck to the lapel. The suit was spotless, even in a bar that practically had drinks, blood, or vomit permanently soaked into every inch of the seedy dive.

The last member currently seated at the table was Alejandro Pena. His olive complexion and accent placed him as a Spaniard, though for some bizarre reason D'Amour seemed fixated on the idea that he was French, hence his more widely know nickname of 'Frog'. It was a name that even the crew that respected him always seemed to use. His yellow and white silk shirt did have several fresh stains on it, and given the somewhat glassy look to his eyes, there was little doubt that though some of the alcohol he had purchased had failed to reach his mouth, enough had made it through to have the desired effect. Small surprise, given the twenty or so bottles of alcohol that surrounded the table, half of which surrounded D'Amour, who appeared to be the least inebriated of the quartet.

However, for a change, it was not D'Amour who stood out from the group. Rather, it was the Spaniard who grabbed Kin's attention first. "Is that a fishing pole you're holding?"

Frog looked at his left hand. "No. S'a glass of Jim Daniels."

"That's Jack Daniels, you lightweight, and she means your other hand," D'Amour said as he finished off the last of a bottle of vodka. Finished off the last half of it, to be specific.

Frog looked in his other hand. "Why, yes, it is."

Kin could feel a headache coming on. The crew of TWPOS might have been nice, but they were eccentric. Odd people who were nice tippers were always 'eccentrics'. Odd ones who were bad tippers were 'complete nut jobs'. "Catch anything yet?" The limp line clearly trailed towards the back of the bar, out of sight where the toilets and private rooms lay.

Frog gave a smile that was the sole province of those who are well on their way to a monstrous hangover. "Yeah, I got a hundred and twenty pound beauty on the end of this line. Left her plenty of slack, though."

"I… see," Kin said. Best to play it safe and not say anything that could set the group of nut jo… eccentrics off. By the gods, they were weird. If there was one thing she was relieved about, it was that her job, as shitty as it was, was at least normal.

A woman on fire ran screaming past the table.

"What was that?" Brunt exclaimed.

"Bartender," Kin explained in a tired voice. "That's the third one this week. I wish Phat hadn't shown that stupid 'Coyote Ugly,' movie to the girls to try and improve sales. Now, what do you want?"

"Hot sex," D'Amour blurted out as he made a grab for her butt.

A deftly handled blackjack appeared from its place of concealment in Kin's garter belt under her skirt. It parried the pinch, and then thumped into the captain's head.

"That hurt!" D'Amour complained to Kin as she held her weapon up in a warding gesture. He wagged his finger at her. "Bad waitress! No tip for you!"

Kin smirked. She knew D'Amour a little too well for that. "I see. Does that mean you don't want any more booze?"

The lecherous captain's look suddenly changed to fright. Holding his hand behind his head, he soothed, "I was just making a joke, Kinny-Baby. Another round for me and the boys. Hard stuff this time, like what that guy on the floor is having."

Kawada, much more clear-headed than anyone other than D'Amour, stood up and looked at the nearby large man that lay unconscious on the floor. "Are you sure it's safe to drink something like that?"

D'Amour stared at him as though he was stupid for asking the question. "Of course it'll be safe to drink. It's got alcohol in it."

Unconvinced, Kawada rose to his feet and walked over to where the fallen man lay. He gave the fellow a sympathetic look, and then promptly kicked him in the side. He was rewarded by the man's eyes opening. A moment later, his mouth followed suit as he expelled the contents of his stomach on the floor.

D'Amour nodded approvingly. "As the great German philosopher, Heineken, once said, 'That liquor which does not kill us, makes us stronger.' Make it two rounds for them and two bottles for me," he told Kin.

She rolled her eyes and went to get the order. They were worse than usual, meaning they had better tip her good this time, or there would be hell to pay.

As Kin returned to the table, she was about to set the glasses of liquor down when she saw the end of Frog's fishing pole dip for a split second, as though something was pulling the other end of the line. She watched as everyone's attention was suddenly riveted on the pole.

"Looks like she's going to make a run for it, boys," D'Amour warned.

"Give her a chance, captain," Brunt cautioned. "There's still hope. Wait for just one more pull."

"She's already run off the slack," Kawada pointed out.

Again the pole dipped again, this time more forcefully and the reel played out some line.

D'Amour's fist slammed down on the table. "Reel her in, you worthless Frenchman, before she runs out the line or gets properly braced! Luthorinski's special pole and hard wire line can only take two tons before it'll snap."

Frog jerked back, and much to Kin's surprise, he began to struggle fiercely with it, as though the thing on the other end was a giant fish trying to escape. Hearing the 'fisherman's' chair legs start to scrape against the sawdust-covered floor, it was obvious who was winning the struggle.

"Get in there, man," D'Amour ordered Brunt.

The huge man did as he was instructed, ripping the pole out of Frog's hands and pulling for all his worth. In the beginning, the struggle was a stalemate. After almost a half minute, there was a groan from the floorboards, and it appeared even Brunt would be dragged along by the force on the other end of the line. But with one more mighty jerk, he pulled back and was rewarded by a lessening of tension on the line.

The others at the table urged him to "reel her in". Kin knew it would be better for her if she left, no good would come from this bizarre scene, but human nature, the part that makes a person closely look at a car wreck that happened between two vehicles going eighty miles an hour, took over and she remained where she was, watching with rapt attention.

Within a moment, Brunt's frantic reeling was rewarded by the creature at the end of the line being dragged from the back halls and into the open. It was a young Japanese girl in her late teens, wearing a blue top with black pants and a distinctive blue bandanna with black stripes wrapped around her forehead. The line was attached to the heavy belt around her waist. She wriggled panicked in the direction she had come from, still trying to fight off the pull despite losing her vertical base.

"Brunt! Brunt! Brunt!" the trio at the table cheered as Brunt continued reeling for all his worth until he gave one final heavy jerk that sent the girl flying into the table, hitting it hard.

"Aki!" Brunt called out. It had been an accident. He hadn't expected her to give up resisting just as he gave that final pull on the pole.

D'Amour waved nonchalantly at the huge man. "No worries. She hit headfirst."

"Oh." Brunt let out a sigh of relief..

A moment later, Aki 'Don't call me Akiko' Yoshida of the Clan Hibiki and navigator for TWPOS, finally regained enough of her senses to stand up again. She looked confusedly at the men sitting at the table. One whiff of her breath convinced Kin it was from the amount of alcohol she had consumed, and not the blow to the girl's infamous indestructible head.

"Wha’ happened?" Aki asked as she collapsed into her seat.

"You wanted to go the restroom. We tied a line to you to make sure you didn't get lost." Kawada explained. "You did find the restroom, didn't you?"

Aki felt the crotch of her pants. "Not wet. Must have."

Kin rolled her eyes. It was typical of their antics. She served the drinks to the people at the table, giving Aki, Frog's second glass, not that she was probably doing the young woman any favors.

Aki stared suspiciously at the glass. Waz this?"

"Hard liquor. It's even better for you than water since fish can't live in it." D'Amour took a swig from his bottle to prove the point.

That seemed to ease Aki's concerns as she took a drink from the glass and immediately drained the contents dry. The liquid met with her approval, so she grabbed Brunt's extra and drained it as well.

Frog looked worriedly at the others. "Should would we stop her?"

"Only if she goes for mine," D'Amour said as he took another drink just as deep as Aki's. No woman would out-drink him.

Suddenly, a huge black form composed of pure energy leaped out of Aki's body, floating above her head. The being of obsidian energy appeared to be a huge woman, dressed in garb reminiscent of a Roman gladiator, with bulging muscles that put even Brunt's massive form to shame. A dark masked helmet covered its entire face, allowing only two ominous, crimson lights shining where its eyes should have been. It turned those ruby eyes to each of the people seated around the table, the lights seeming to double in intensity as they locked on D'Amour.

Brunt, Frog, and Kawada watched in fascination, as D'Amour seemed unconcerned at the immensely powerful and uncontrollable Earth Stand staring intently at him. The staring didn't last long as the Stand lunged forward at D'Amour.

In reaction D'Amour merely took another drink.

The trio at the table closed their eyes. A moment later, there was a thunderous belch, then the sound of something heavy hitting the table. Simultaneously, Aki's much beloved, 'Idiot Trio' opened their eyes to see what had happened.

The Stand had collapsed across the table a mere inch from D'Amour, passed out in front of him. Unconcerned, he took another drink.

"Thas’ never happened before," Aki slurred as she took another drink of her own.

D'Amour gave a half-lidded stare over his bottle "Two rules at the table, Aki: Never spill a drink. I run a tight ship, and all such cases of blatant alcohol abuse will not be tolerated. Second, no one passes out on the table. I don't like lightweight drinkers."

"All right, all right," Aki willed the unconscious Stand back into her, ironically exerting more control over it than she ever had sober.

Kin waited to see if they wanted another round, given how fast the current drinks were disappearing. She evaded a second grope from D'Amour with another blackjack to the head.

D'Amour rubbed his sore head. "What sort of a prostitute keeps hitting a potential customer in the cranium when he's just testing out her wares to see if she's worth the cost or not?"

"One with any modicum of standards, and I know damn well you'd never pay for sex, no matter how horny you are," Kin replied flatly. Much to her surprise, D'Amour had already shifted his attention to elsewhere in the room. When she saw where it was focused, she moaned, "You have got to be kidding me."

"Be quite, you stuck up wench," D'Amour hissed as he crouched low. "I've found the perfect ass, much better than that too-tight one of yours. I can tell with one glance at its heart-like shape that it's deliciously compact while being big enough to fit perfectly in one's hands, like mine. Just the right mix of firmness and softness. I'm going to get me a feel of it if it's the last thing I do." He began creeping through the mix of various substances on the floor.

The other four crewmen at the table calculated the captain's eventual target through his current trajectory.

"Is he going to do what I think he's going to do to who's standing over there?" Frog asked.

"Looks that way to me," Brunt confirmed. "No way he knows who it is; he's paying too much attention to that butt."

"A good and responsible crew would warn him of this potentially life-threatening situation he is about to place himself in," Kawada pointed out.

"Agreed," Aki said. She looked her compatriots over one at a time. "Then it's settled?"

All of them nodded in agreement. Somewhat more sobered by the turn of events, they relaxed in their chairs, took one simultaneous gulp, and waited for the fun to start.

D'Amour was on the prowl. By staying low and using the patrons of the bar as cover, he had managed to sneak his way across the floor and avoided detection by his prey. It was about time something went his way. Every woman he had hit on at the bar had either slapped his face, punched him in the gut if they had already slept with them, or poured their drink on his head. Actually the last wasn't quite so bad as he could then lick the excess off his face for a semi-free drink. Every drop was sacred, after all.

But now, he had hit the jackpot. Never had he seen a derriere so perfect. It had to be his. The plan for gaining it was simple. Grab the bottom to show how interested he was in the woman, have her agree to sleep with him, and if he was lucky, persuade her to pick up his bar tab too. It would he a dream date for both of them. All he needed was a couple more steps…

…And then he was there, the beautiful derriere framed in its black trousers staring at him at eye level. The woman still wasn't aware of his presence, talking to two other women while facing the opposite direction from him. It was his lucky night. He drew himself up to his full height, standing a couple of centimeters over the tall woman's head and able to look down upon her long, flowing black locks. He heard the gasps of the woman's two compatriots, no doubt in awe over his own incredible good looks. Who knew, if they were lucky, he might talk his newfound catch into a foursome.

It was time to make his move. He brought his head down low enough to give a throaty whisper in the woman's ear, "Hey there, beautiful," as he grabbed her bottom. It felt just as divine as he had dreamed.

"HOW DARE YOU!" the woman screamed as she spun around and prepared to decapitate the buffoon, who would dare defile her person, with a slap that would knock the teeth out of a full grown Bengal tiger. By the time her hand was but a single inch from her target, she got one good look at her assailant's face.

The hand stopped dead in mid-air. "You?" the woman said in a quiet voice.

"AHHHH!" D'Amour shouted at the top of his lungs as though he had awakened one morning to find himself married. He somehow scurried away from the woman and back to his table in the span of a heartbeat, not turning around the entire time, unwilling to look away from the person upon which he had committed his unspeakable act.

The entire bar went dead quiet as the full ramifications of what had just happened began to settle in.

Madame Lao Cane, the former Amazon turned pirate, slaver, mistress of debauchery, and marauder of the oceans of the world in her magically-cursed ship, the Piece of Junk, was not amused in the least to discover that the nearest thing to her arch-nemesis (pitiful as that was when one realized it was a moron like D'Amour), had just fondled her bottom as though she were some cheap floozy looking for a good time. Had it been any other man that had the audacity to take such liberties with her, she would have simply grabbed them and had them keelhauled as her ship set out of the harbor. Or perhaps she would have sailed out to shark infested waters, tied the perpetrator up, and dipped them over the side with a bunch of bleeding wounds and wait for the sharks to devour their prey alive. Or there was always staking them out to the deck and watch them slowly dehydrate under the open sun. So many means of punishment to choose from, but not for D'Amour. Death was too simple and easy for the likes of him, and that was before he grabbed her bottom. Oh no, she would have to get creative with the lecherous buffoon. A torture that would have him cursing her for years with the slightest memory of it. Something to give pain for a lifetime.

Lao's compatriots, Blossom and Lotus, backed away as their captain leveled an accusatory finger at D'Amour. "You stupid fool! I hope that cheap thrill was worth it! For having the audacity to touch me in such a familiar manner, you've sealed your fate! I will see to it that you know nothing but unending torture and unrelenting pain for the rest of your miserable existence. I will have you begging for death as I-"

"AHHH!" D'Amour screamed again as he held the hand that had groped Lao's bottom as though it had been burned. "Slut butt! Slut butt! I touched slut butt! Quick, get me disinfectant! No! Wait! Steel wool! The skin has to come off! There's no telling what horrible diseases I'll get from a butt as slutty as that!"

Lao's eyebrow began twitching. "Excuse me, but I was the one defiled here."

"Ha! As though there's anything alive that is capable of defiling 'The Slut of the Seven Seas'," D'Amour said.

The second eyebrow joined the first. "What did you just say?"

"What's the matter, gonorrhea make you deaf? I'm telling you I'm the one that's been molested here. It's obvious I've been set up by you. Honestly, going to all of the trouble of following me here."

"I had no idea you were here until you grabbed me!" Lao shouted in open disbelief.

"Disguising yourself so I wouldn't recognize you."

"I'm not wearing a disguise!"

"And then worst of all, you engage in this pathetic scheme to try and grab my attention. Confess, Lao-sy, you padded those pants to hold up that saggy ass of yours just to trick me into fondling it, didn't you?"


"Wow! The veins that are popping out of her forehead look just like my map of navel lanes. They even crisscross over one another," Aki commented from her seat as she continued drinking and watching the show, silently rooting for Lao.

A bright aura of azure energy sprang up around Lao. Her two companions looked at each other in dread.

"This is extraordinarily bad. He's managed to piss the captain off in under a minute," Blossom, first mate of Lao's ship moaned.

"Yeah, he's really on top of his game," Lotus, the helmswoman agreed. "We have got to get her out of here. She's completely lost it this time. And since she still considers herself an Amazon despite her exile-"

"-And if he defeats her in combat-"

"-He’ll be her husband and could become our next captain," Lotus finished with a shudder. "My loyalty to Lao only goes so far."

"Same here," Blossom agreed. They had to defuse the situation fast. It was not that Blossom had any doubts that her captain was more powerful than the lecherous scumbag, she was more powerful than almost anyone, even away from the ship, but when people got angry, sometimes they made mistakes, and no one could make Lao as angry as D'Amour. And despite the Casanova's seeming incompetence, he had somehow managed to avoid being killed by the numerous people that despised him for quite a number of years. And Blossom was of the opinion that it was better to be lucky than good. Sometimes she wondered if D'Amour wasn't the luckiest one of all.

Trying to seize control of the situation, Blossom moved next to Lao and made a great production of looking at her watch. In exaggerated tones, she cried out, "Oh, dear me, look at the time. We have to get back to the ship and break in the latest shipment of captives. We do have a contract to sell a dozen fully-trained sex slaves to Mr. Deprayve by the end of the month." That should do it. There was nothing a die-hard lesbian like Lao loved to do more than tossing a few dozen girls in the old 'Erotic Torture Chamber' and training them for future sale.

Lao didn't even spare Blossom a glance. Her eyes were centered on one man. "Don't worry about it. This won't take long."

Lao was choosing to fight a man rather than engage in acts of debauchery? This was very bad. "But we shouldn't keep the slaves waiting. And this will be the perfect opportunity to break in the 'Sodomizer 2001' we just purchased."

"I said later!" Lao shouted as she backhanded Blossom hard enough to send her reeling into Lotus, who barely managed to catch her. That ended matters. The women knew there was no longer any chance of calling off the fight.

D'Amour squared his shoulders to Lao. He pulled his blue manteau back in dramatic fashion, allowing the elaborate golden hilt of his sword to glint off the dim light of the bar. "There's nothing I hate more than a skanky dyke that enjoys smacking women around."

"I thought you said there's nothing you hate more than not having either women or alcohol within arm's length," Brunt mentioned.

"Nonsense," D'Amour said smoothly.

"I remember you saying it too," Frog said.

"No, I didn't."

"I'm afraid you do. Pretty much every time there isn't either a drink or a woman within arm's reach," Kawada corrected.

"You're ruining the effect," D'Amour hissed under his breath.

"Enough of this posturing," Lao intoned menacingly as she fell into a combat pose. "It's time to end this. However, let it not be said I am unmerciful. If you fall to your knees and beg like a dog right now, I might be generous and kill you instead of capturing you and taking you with me. But don't hold your breath."

D'Amour gave her a smirk. "Laosy, the only reason I'd hold my breath is if someone forced me to go down on you."

"You die now!" Lao screeched as she charged forward, bringing the most dangerous techniques of her 'Water Style' martial arts to bear.

In answer, D'Amour drew his sword and charged forth to meet her.

The two met halfway across the room, the sound of hand meeting flesh mixing with the whir of a blade slicing through the air. Each person continued on as though nothing had happened, stopping only when they reached the place the other had started. They both turned and smirked at the other.

Lao placed a hand to her mouth and laughed. "Hahaha. It's over, you pompous twit. I hit a dozen of your pressure points. Within five seconds every muscle in your body will seize up, leaving you paralyzed and at my utter mercy. And I have no mercy for the likes of you."

A resounding cheer rose from D'Amour's crew.

Lao laughed at that. "Even your own crew despises you. What a pitiful man you are."

D'Amour chuckled. "They're just hacked off because I'm a little behind in paying them their wages."

"No, it's because we don't like you," Aki assured him.

D'Amour shook his head. "That's what your lips say, but I know it's just a perverse form of affection you guys have for me. You just can't bring yourselves to admit that you like me."

"No, we really hate you," Kawada insisted.

Again, D'Amour shook his head. "A little jealous, perhaps, but who could blame you? I am insufferably, charming, handsome, and dashing. Observe." He spun around and grabbed Lotus before she could react. He brought her mouth up to his and gave her a deep, passionate kiss. After several seconds, he broke it off and gave a gleaming smile to her. "How was that?"

Lotus slapped him hard enough to spin around so that he was facing Lao again.

"Obviously she has been brainwashed by that corrupt pirate whore into hating all men." D'Amour tried rubbing his jaw to get some feeling back in it.

"Wait a minute," Brunt said. "It's been more than five seconds. How come the captain's still moving?"

D'Amour placed his hands on his waist and laughed. "That's because I'm immune to Lao's petty little pressure point tricks."

"Impossible!" Lao shouted. "Nothing human could resist my technique, not even you."

"I have a blood alcohol level of .35. I can do anything. BWHAHAHAHA!"

Lao's battle aura tripled in intensity as she prepared for another charge. "This time I go for the kill, you miserable, brainlessly stupid sh-"

Casually, D'Amour snapped his fingers. In response, every stitch of Lao's clothing fell to the floor into a dozen pieces.

"I don't see either padding or sag there," Brunt commented thoughtfully as he got a perfect view of Lao's posterior. His three companions were forced to agree.

Lao stared at her unclothed state in disbelief. Barely, she was able to get out, "H-How? I was employing the Flow Like a Stream Defense. My body was like water. Any attacks should have flowed right through me and my clothing."

D'Amour held his weapon before him. "Laosy, my sword's so sharp, it can even cut water." He swung it once in dramatic fashion before advancing slowly upon her again.

Lao backed cautiously away. This was not going the way it was supposed to. Not at all. He was just a lecherous buffoon. Women he offended struck him all the time. She was one of the world's most dangerous martial artists. He should have been an easy mark. There should have been a hundred ways she could beat him without him coming close to touching her. So why was it her attack had failed while she hadn't even been able to feel his?

D'Amour had closed to about half the distance to his opponent when he paused. Grimacing, he clutched at his pelvis, then shot Lao a dirty look. "Why you sneaky bitch. I don't believe it. You did get me."

"What?" Lao was confused. She did nothing to him that should have had that effect.

"Ook!" He looked to be in serious pain. "How did you do it?"

"Do what?"

Ignoring her, he shouted to the room, "Listen up everyone. I did not lose this fight. It is officially a draw, and anyone that doesn't like that, I don't care."

"What's wrong!"

He shot her in evil glare "As if you didn't know."

"I don't! Tell me!"

D'Amour crossed his legs. "You obviously manipulated my body chemistry in such a way that you made me have to piss really bad. I mean really, really bad. My back teeth are floating here. I hate you."

Lao's shaking became uncontrollable. "You have to piss really bad because you drank over ten bottle of booze, you lecherous scumbag!" To emphasize her point, Lao began hurling the bottles from his table at him. D'Amour ducked and dodged out of the way of each bottle, making certain he was heading towards the restroom with each move. All of the bottles smashed against walls, tables, and even other patrons, save the last one, which had a bit of drink left at the bottom. He snatched that one out of mid-air, than ran the rest of the way to the restroom.

Out of ammunition, Lao just stared at where he had gone. Lotus and Blossom rejoined their captain, covering her with part of a sail that had been hanging as a wall decoration before they had torn it down.

"We could probably whack him in the head while he's relieving himself and grab him," Lotus offered half-hearted.

Lao held up her hand, signaling an end to that line of thought. "No. We head back for the ship. I've had a rough night."

Without another word the trio exited, leaving the four remaining members of D'Amour's crew to stare at the table, depressed.

"We were so close too," Frog complained as he drained another glass.

"I thought for sure Lao could take care of him one-on-one," Brunt did likewise.

"It defies explanation," Kawada agreed, draining his last glass as well.

Aki was about to finish her drink off when she said, "Hey, if we leave him here, he'll get lost and not be able to find the ship again."

"No, that's you who gets lost if you don't have someone to take you back to the ship," Frog corrected. "No more drinks for you," he grabbed the glass out of her hand, much to Aki's disappointment. She briefly considered hitting him, but in her drunken state, remembered she liked Frog. In response, she tried hugging him, which made him run for his life. It was not that he didn't like her, just that when she became happily emotionally charged, she seemed to lose her ability to regulate her strength, and no friendship in the world was worth accidentally having his spine crushed in a gesture of fondness.

After ten minutes, the others calmed Aki down enough to not display any signs of affection. It was also at that time that D'Amour showed up again.

"Ten minutes?" Kawada asked.

"That bitch really screwed up by urinary tract," D'Amour growled. "Where is she?"

"She left," Brunt told him

D'Amour snapped his fingers. "Damn! Just as I was about to spank her pirate-whore bottom. Nah, on second thought, the twisted little dyke would probably enjoy it. That was probably her plan all along, but she'll never get an ounce of pleasure from me."

"Oh, really?" Frog leaned in close to the captain. "Are you sure this isn't some perverse form of attraction you have for her and are just unwilling to admit it, so you insult her instead? You did think she had the perfect butt right up until you realized it was her."

D'Amour chuckled, then leaned in closer in response. "Want me to show you this trick I learned? It's called, 'A frog's arms and legs fall off due to sharp-edge trauma'."

"I was just having a good joke with you sir! HAHAHAHA!" Frog forced out, hoping the captain was joking. It was hard to tell sometimes.

Luckily for Frog, the ship's Helmsman, Shelby, entered the bar. He appeared excited, and D'Amour quickly waved him over. "What is it, man? Tell us."

It took Shelby a moment to catch his breath. "Well, sir, it appears one of the crew escaped. She apparently saved a bunch of lamb phlegm from the Swede's Mutton Surprise for lunch, and used that to squeeze through her porthole. She was long gone by the time we discovered her absence."

D'Amour processed the information. "A woman squeezed through a porthole? Must have been Jesse Sykes. She didn't have any tits anyway. No great loss there."

"But we'll need someone to replace her as ship's hostess," Kawada said.

"Every ship needs a hostess!" D'Amour exclaimed. He knew how to captain a ship. He had watched every episode of 'Love Boat' twice. He had even the new version that had popped up decades later, though Robert Urich was no Captain Stubing.

The entire group huddled together in concern. Brunt looked at his watch. "We have to leave in the next hour. Who can we possibly get to take her place in that amount of time left?"

It was at that moment, Kin came up to the table and cleared her throat, getting everyone's attention. "Is there anything else you're going to need tonight?"

Six pairs of eyes looked at her with the same relieved stare, a stare that lay above six identical smiles. A creeping sensation crawled up the length of Kin's spine.

"We just need one more thing before we head out," D'Amour said.

"Yes?" Kin asked.

"One waitress to go."

And the world went dark for Kin.

"I've been shanghaied!"

"Yes, from Shanghai. Very appropriate, that."

"You bastards!" Kin shouted for the third time at D'Amour and his companions from the deck of TWPOS. A wind blew off the open ocean, trying to cool her off, but her temper was running far too hot for that. "How could you kidnap me?"

"Excuse me," D'Amour held up a warning finger. "We do not use such offensive terms as 'kidnapping' here. We are a racially diverse crew, and as such we must remain aware of one another's different cultural needs. In the name of racial sensitivity, we prefer you use the term, 'Freedom Impaired’."

Kin felt like crying. Out on the open sea, there was no hope of escape. She was trapped even worse than in the Phat's bar.

"Oh, come on," D'Amour soothed. "You were little more than a hooker in a seedy drug den in a shithole section of a nasty city with no way out. How can serving on this ship be any worse than that?"

"Because even as a hooker, I could take some pride in my work, but now I'm on the biggest joke on the ocean!"

Seeing she was still resistant, D'Amour let out a reluctant sigh, "All right. Since I need you, I'll make you an officer of the ship instead of normal crew."

That briefly perked Kin up. "Including a salary?"

"Yes," the words had to be pulled from D'Amour's mouth.

"When will I get paid?"

"Infrequently," Aki said flatly.

"How much will I be making?"

"The captain doesn't really hold to the theory that there's a minimal amount of money people need to survive," Kawada informed her.

Kin's shoulder's slumped even further.

D'Amour tried again to improve her spirits. "But you'll get full benefits. We have a world-class Swedish chef in our galley. Every meal is delicious."

"True, just don't ask what the stuff he serves is actually made of until after it's fully digested," Frog told her.

"Why?" Kin asked.

"It's rather exotic," D'Amour supplied quickly.

"Only if you consider dolphin colons and monkey tongues exotic. And I know I'll never look at an ostrich's balls the same way ever again," Frog added morosely.

Quick to retake the initiative, D'Amour said, "Our medical staff is headed by a brilliant world-renowned doctor that can cure anything."

"Unless it involves an open wound, in which case you're better off getting checked out by the ship's exotic dancer, who's probably more knowledgeable about medicine than the doctor in any case," Brunt pointed out.

Kin felt what little hope she had diminishing.

"And then there's the best benefit of all, one you can't get at any other job in the world." D'Amour said, teeth gleaming

"What's that?" Kin asked.

"You can have sex with me any time you want."

The others grabbed Kin before she was more than halfway over the railing.

Realizing there was no hope for the moment, Kin reluctantly agreed to serve as ship's hostess, but only until the opportunity to escape presented itself. The others seemed to accept that and left her alone, except Kawada, who hung behind a moment.

"What do you want?" Kin asked.

Kawada said, "I don't want you to take this wrong, since you're in an obviously agitated state, but I think you're going to work out."

"There's no way in hell I'll stay on this ship one moment longer than I have to!"

Kawada laughed. "That's what they all say, and for most it's true. But every now and then someone ends up staying even when the opportunity to escape presents itself. They'll make excuses and bitch and moan constantly, like Frog and Forlorn, our councilor, but for some odd reason they never find it in their hearts to leave. It's like the crew is as much a jigsaw puzzle as this cobbled together ship, and some of us are pieces that fit in the right way to complete the puzzle. Usually, I'm good at noticing when the pieces fit. Sykes didn't. You do. Just thought you should know. Bye now."

As Kawada left, for a moment, Kin considered making for the railing again, but for some odd reason plunging to her death didn't hold the appeal it had a moment ago. Instead, she felt a little more at ease after the first mate's speech, even if she thought it was a crock of shit. She decided to deal with the situation and play 'hostess' for the moment. But not for one moment longer than she had to, she swore.

As Kin headed to her room, she paused, and took a hard look at the deck of the worn and rusty vessel that was her temporary prison. "If you think for one second that I belong in this mix of fools, incompetents, and lecherous bastards, you have another thing coming. I am normal, do you hear me? I'm not like them."

Kin nearly staggered as she realized what she had done in reproaching an inanimate object. In less than two days the ship and crew had taken its toll on her sanity. What was she going to be like in a week? Or a month?

"I don't belong here," Kin insisted quietly. And for just a moment, right on the edge of her hearing, she thought she could hear a soft, feminine giggle that she would have sworn came from the ship itself. Worse, she somehow knew the giggle was directed at her. Kin let out a sigh of surrender and headed directly to her room.

No. Somehow, she knew it was not merely a room.

It was her new home.

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