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Thread: Tale of the Week 290: Colonialism - VOTING THREAD

  1. #1
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Tale of the Week 290: Colonialism - VOTING THREAD

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    Colonialism


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    Keywords Companies
    Explore
    Ignorance
    Natives
    Trade



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    Submission 1

    Colonialism


    Nathaniel Hawke lifted his face, closed his eyes to the sun and breathed in the salty tang of the wind,
    their ship "The Molly Jane" had spent 7 weeks crossing the Atlantic from Plymouth, and now
    they could see a faint line of darker blue on the horizon, seabirds cries could be heard
    on the breeze as they flew above the masts. A loud crack came from the mainsail as the wind
    bellied it out pushing "The Molly Jane" towards the green and verdant coastline ahead.

    "A fine sight sir", Nathaniel called out to Mr Graves who stood closer to the rail, "we should be
    in harbour by nightfall." "Indeed, Sir" the reply came back, "and the natives of this land
    will be feeding from our hands by tomorrow night!" Graves gave a hearty laugh as he stepped across
    towards his companion in this enterprise, "these folks are simple and easily gulled by more
    sophisticated commercial gentlemen like ourselves, their ignorance will be our
    fortune."

    The following morning, a raucous crowd was gathering in the market place, hawkers shouting
    above each other, the smells of cooked pies and meat, bread and fish mingling with the smells
    of salt water, rotting fish and fruit, men and women, children, ragamuffins, beggars and gentry
    all looking for trade, to buy and sell, look and eat.

    Nathaniel and Mr Graves slowly walked through, their eyes ever wandering, looking at the products
    for sale, but mostly at the customers, marking out mentally the people they would be looking to
    exploit later - they exuded an air of casual indifference, dressed like a couple of wealthy
    young gentlemen, of distinguished banks or companies, out about their new town. "Mr Graves,
    I believe we are going to enjoy our time in Charlestown very much indeed", Nathaniel said to
    his companion as he watched a wealthy looking couple stroll past.

    Later that afternoon, the two men addressed a gathering of well to do young men,
    "Gentlemen, we are assured that your are all men of discernment and respectability in this fine
    town, Mr Graves and I are here as representatives of the London firm of Fleecem and Scarper, a
    company with a great reputation for honesty and integrity, maybe some of you fine Gentlemen have
    heard of it? No? Well it is of no matter, we bring to you an opportunity to exlore and,
    God willing, invest in our scheme, one that cannot fail but to make you a fortune". Nathaniel Hawke
    looked around at the eager faces in front of them, turned to Mr Graves with a knowing smile,
    their game was afoot and their next willing victims waiting eagerly to part with their money.

    Submission 2
    He watched as Mimi casually lit a cigarette, reclining on the battered scarlet chaise longue in the corner of the hotel room. The establishment was one of the last of its kind now in Hong Kong, as new companies from the mainland began to buy up and renovate the tawdry hotels that had marked their youth, encroaching like vipers upon those cherished memories of the sixties. It was tough for natives like them, who had grown up under the moonlight of those wild nights in the hotel cabaret bars, dressed to the nines in decadence and wanton abandon, dancing drunkenly away to that American swing before retiring somewhere a little more private to explore what lay beneath their laced corsets and debonair coattails. Now they had to watch as the Chinese conglomerates, in their savage ignorance, began to dismantle everything unique about the world's last colony, driving people like Mimi and him further underground.

    They met now, when they could, at this hotel; the last oasis of their youth where she had once plied her trade. But it was just an echo now of those heady days long past. He looked at her, her fishnet stockings protruding from the hem of an elaborate dress, dangling over the edge of the worn out leather sofa. Smoke clung in the air, dancing with the dust in the light of a new dawn spiking in from behind the tattered window shutters. She turned to smile at him, and he saw properly for the first time the lines of her face tug in contortion; a pattern of wrinkles now upon what once had been such an angel's visage.

    But he still loved her, just as he loved Hong Kong. Yet that was the true tragedy of it, he supposed. What he loved had long since faded, and what he clung to now was but a ghost of times past. But he couldn't let go, not now. So as Hong Kong crumbled away into modernity, he took the hand of the woman he had once loved, and held her for one last dance in the shadowed vestige of their youth.

    Submission 3


    At dawn, the companies of our regiment left the transport ships which had sailed up the St Lawrence River, we boarded small boats and walked on dry land at last. We were watchful for any sign of the enemy. My father was wounded in an attempt to seize Quebec during Queen Anne’s War, over forty years ago. When we said good-bye at Portsmouth, he warned me that the colonists were as savage as the natives who fought with them, with unkempt hair, inked skin and thrown tomahawks which rarely missed.

    Ten rangers went to explore the track through the forest, but didn’t return. Our regiment was ordered into the woods. If you haven’t marched under a relentless summer sun, carrying sixty-five pounds of kit, in complete ignorance of whether an unseen enemy might attack at any moment, you cannot conceive of how we felt. It was cooler in the forest, but we marched in constant fear of ambush. There were scattered settlements along the track, but the local colonists refused to trade information for coins or in response to our threats.

    As the sun set on the first day of our march, we were startled by sudden musket fire from the rear of our column. The British army learned from our earlier defeats. Our surviving rangers, reinforced by grenadiers, formed a scattered line and advanced cautiously, but found no savages. Our enemies are masters of stealth and they know when to fall back. The night was full of sudden alarms, as men emptied their muskets at real or imagined foes.

    As we marched under the rising sun on the second day, I was talking with Ensign Williams about our supplies when there was a sudden crackle of gun-fire from both left and right. I touched my cheek, drew my hand back and was shocked to see my hand sticky and red with blood. Williams had fallen and the blood was his. Williams was fifteen years old, his family have been farmers on my family’s Dorset estate for generations. Fortunately, the men of my company did the right thing without needing orders, running into a loose formation and taking cover before returning fire. The army have learned not to stand still in neat, close lines when ambushed. But there was nothing I could do for poor Williams, his face was calm but he looked so pale. I led my company away from the track, into the forest. Dudley and Knowles were shot dead, but we saw no savages. I had never been so angry as I was at that moment.

    After more anxious days and sleepless nights, we found a tiny settlement with three wooden homes. No-one appeared or responded to our shouts. It was only after we set the houses on fire that we heard the screams. Their women and children must have hidden in a basement which we didn’t find. For days, I had watched anxiously for savages, not realising what the terrible march had done to me.

    Submission 4
    Two seasons had passed since the strangers first arrived in their floating behemoths of wood and cloth. Two seasons since they first pressed their boots into the virgin soil of our shores. They had come from across the endless ocean to explore and make trade with the natives. Or so they claimed. By the time we learned otherwise, it was already to late. The strangers were tradesmen, not of goods, but of exploit, violence and plunder. While we suffered without end, they unabashedly helped themselves to the irreplaceable fruits of a lifetime of labour. Overpowered and overwhelmed, we could do nothing but clench our helpless fists and curse the ignorance that had doomed us.

    Then, slowly but inexorably, the situation began to change. It seemed the air around us, yes the very nature in which we dwelled, was poisonous to them. Sickness invaded their bodies and they, in ever dwindling numbers, retreated back towards the towering ships that still occupied the coast. That’s when we seized the hour. Our mission was simple. Take back that which had been so viciously torn from us; our dignity and honour. We moved through the dense brush like ghostly spirits carried on the early morning mist. Every stride was a motion devoid of sound. Each step a carefully orchestrated maneuver of supreme silence. Stealth was of the essence if we were to succeed in our grim endeavour.

    We came upon the enemy as they rested in a clearing. Their warriors, armed with weapons of flame and iron, were two companies strong. A far cry from the early days. Seeing this diminished and demoralised army, we smelled victory. It was an exhilarating odour, infusing us with courage beyond the natural. We attacked. The resting soldiers sprang to their feet. They reached for their guns, but it was too late. One by one they went down; victims of the rising and falling blades of a people set on revenge. My own hand was still unstained when one of them came before me. He was a phantom of a man, his body wasting from sickness. A veil of terror fell upon his face as he realised the end was near. I swung at him with all my might, with all my anger, with all my passion for retribution. As I did, a scream escaped my throat and pulled my mind back to reality. I looked in shock at the blood-stained edge of my weapon with which I had perfomed this ghastly deed.

    Savages they had called us mockingly. As I watched the mangled figure of a once living, breathing being that now lay motionless on the ground, the victim of my doing, I thought to myself; perhaps they were right. Perhaps we are all cruel, immoral creatures in one way or another. Perhaps all men deserve their fate. The lines blurred and I surrendered to the idea. Shaking the unease, the feeling of guilt, I rejoined my brothers in the slaughter. I had accepted my fate.

    Submission 5
    Brigadier-General William Newton caressed his exquisite and pixelated moustache in a show of sheer joy. Only two companies of native militia stood between his army of one general bodyguard and 19 colonial regiments and the fortress of Pensacola. He had exactly fourty minutes to evaporate the enemy and add Florida's tobacco plantations to Britain's magnificent trade empire of the soon-to-be 14 colonies. As they gradually marched towards the fort's thick walls, amidst regular freezing, they could now discern the Indians' velvet heads and the distorted lines of their bayonets.
    Then shots were fired, lagging increased to slideshow levels and a couple of redcoats fell to the ground.

    "Fear not, brave soldiers!", commander Newton shouted.
    "The fortress will quickly be ours and His Majesty, king George II, has promised us that every casualty will be immediately replenished in the next six months!"

    Then, as professionally as ever, he ordered a blob to be formed and their secret weapon to be employed against the mighty fortifications of Pensacola. Immediately, tens of webs were equipped and thrown against the supposedly impegnable walls. White as Newton's wig, soft as Aleppo silk and unbreakable as Damascene steel, they carried the British to the top, as the Spanish Indians shot futilely. So, the climbing gave its place to a violent dance of hacking, clubbing and elegant musket-swinging. The natives were falling like flies, with the strict standards of the rating system being the only obstacle preventing their mustard uniforms from being stained with bloody pixels. The Indians had alomost reached the breaking point, when the Spanish colonel suddenly ordered a retreat towards the interior of the star-shaped fortress. Before the British had a chance to rout them, the Spaniards entered the warehouse located in the center of the inner square, smashing the doors inside and shattering the windows outside, while simultaneously firing at the enemy.

    General Newton was frankly dumbfounded by this revolutionary initiative. Was it ignorace? Was it fear? No matter how prudently he explored the surroundings, he was totally incapable of discovering a single entrance to the building. Charging at the front door was certainly out of question and his diamond-made webs were completely useless against this terrifying building, which the brilliant Spanish engineering had taken special care to equip with a roof. His army had no other option, but to stand helplessly in front of the warehouse, as the British soldiers were aimed at and killed by the native militia, without being able to reply in kind. As the sand in the hourglass was depleting, William Newton could already predict the foregone conclusion of the siege. Finally, exactly fourty minutes after the beginning of the battle, the white box appeared in the sky, carrying the fateful words:
    "Close defeat".

    Newton's army fled to Georgia, with Flordia remaining firmly in the hands of the 84-years old king Charles II the Indomitable, conqueror of Italy, exterminator of Morocco and illustrious emperor of India.

    Submission 6
    Cartagena de Indias, 1740


    Admiral Blas stared at the Royal Navy company ships flying Great Britain’s flag. Cartagena was under siege and it was his imperium duty to the King of Spain to defend the city at all costs. Thirty thousand British Redcoats stormed the city’s defences while they were repulsed by white coated Spanish musket-men and marines. The roar of musket and cannon fire could be heard, as the titans of the two navies fought against each other in a titanic struggle to wrest control of the harbour. He turned to his officer, Captain Rodrigo.


    ‘’Rodrigo, what is the situation now?’’


    ‘’Admiral Blas, the English have stormed San Lara and San Palania. They’ve taken over the defensive works and we need help as of now.’’


    Blas walked over the forts as he arrived into the final fort that defended the city. The English had increased their bombardment, while English regiments fought the Spanish forts littered around Cartagena. Cannon fire from the English ships had cleared the beach, and now a trench had been dug under Blas’s orders. Come or what may, Blas would make sure that the English would be defeated quite handsomely.


    ‘’This is the last fort that we have remaining Rodrigo. As a man of Aragon, I expected you to be braver than this, we can't explore much of this island by now.’’




    He noticed Rodrigo’s sarcastic smile. Perhaps ignorance was common among Aragonese, Blas thought.


    ‘’Not so, Admiral. But this is our last trench and the English have already infiltrated our beach, the inner half of the city. How can we hope to defeat them?’’


    Blas inspected the Spanish troops arming themselves for the assault that would arrive in a matter of time. A large bombardment could finish them off instantly.


    ‘’Rodrigo, in all my years of naval service to the King, I have never given up. I lost my right leg, my left eye when I fought those English dogs. I am a true son of Basque saliors. We don’t fight like cowards, we fight like lions, and the natives will too.’’


    He noticed Rodrigo almost brimming with encouragement. The young man had served under him for a while before he was transferred to Caratagea.


    ‘’In the vineyards of Castille, comes the finest wine. Now come, let’s go to the troops. English [B]trade is horrendous.’’ He said as he walked with all the strength he could gather.


    Cannon fire burst into the trenches as Spanish troops yelled, screaming in pain. Blood and guts spilled into the air as bodies lay in the mud. A volley of fire erupted from the Spanish troops in fierce determination as three regiments of British infantry marched upon them, loading their muskets and waiting to fire as their officers barked orders as they halted.


    ‘’Admiral, it is too dangerous for you. You must go back!’’ Rodrigo said.


    Blas shook him off.


    ‘’Nonsense! I may be a naval officer, but I know a thing or two about fighting on land.’’


    ‘’But-‘'

    Submission 7
    The San Pedro just completed docking at one of Lisbon's wharves reserved for merchant vessels. Luiz, is the first mate on the San Pedro. He quickly walks down the wharf . He sits at a table in the first bar he spots. A man on shore leave! Another man joins him and they greet each other as men do when ready to have their first drink of the day.

    The first one to speak, “Hello. My name is Jaol. I am looking to sign up on a ship with a good crew to show me how to be a good sailor.”

    Luiz responds, “I am Luiz. I am the first mate on the San Pedro. We have just returned from Rio de Janeiro. That is the biggest city in Brazil. We need to resupply our vessel before we set sail again to Angola. If you want to work hard, there's always a need for promising sailors.”

    Jaol, “So what does the San Pedro ship? Where do you sail?”

    Luiz, “We deal in merchandise. We ship but do not trade. We are simply in the middle. Merchants in both Angola and Brazil handle the details.... But I may not be returning on the next voyage so you need to head to the ship and state your purpose to a company official. There are many companies that own many ships that travel this trade route. So you can explore your options.”

    Jaol, “So you may not be returning? Why?”

    Luiz, “I am tired. Yes, before you is a first mate of only 32 years of age, but I am tired beyond my age. The San Pedro is now trading in slaves. It was not always so for the San Pedro, but the money talks. The trade in slaves wears on my soul. Even the church is often too silent on these matters. The slavers in Angola purchase from villagers who capture other natives on raids. It used to be raiding was due to petty disputes... or rival villages challenging for rights to hunt, farm, or fish. Now it is simply for money paid for human flesh. It is out of ignorance that this continues. The sellers of flesh today may be the flesh sold next week.”

    Jaol, “But... this is approved by the king. This is how the plantations provide for us here at home. Why is this wrong?”

    Luiz, “ I was once a young eager man like you. I had a future as a fisherman in my home village well north of Lisbon with my father. I even had a young girl that found me attractive. But I thought I should see more of the world than just my small fishing village before settling down. My father thought this was foolish talk, but he consented to my wishes....”

    Luiz continued, “Now I want to go home. I hope there is a place for an older fisherman. Perhaps there will even be another young girl who can still find me attractive.”

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tale of the Week 290: Colonialism - VOTING THREAD

    Well, that was possibly the most difficult vote I have ever had to take part in for a Tale of the Week competition. Great show all around this time!
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  3. #3
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Tale of the Week 290: Colonialism - VOTING THREAD

    A difficult choice, indeed!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Tale of the Week 290: Colonialism - VOTING THREAD

    I concur. A most difficult choice.

  5. #5
    NorseThing's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Tale of the Week 290: Colonialism - VOTING THREAD

    It is great to have 7 submissions. The down side is that I usually read them twice before voting. With my memory, I forget the first one before the 5th one is read or is it before the 5th of something.

    Voted!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Tale of the Week 290: Colonialism - VOTING THREAD

    Great stories, guys! Had a good time reading them all and imagining them playing out. Voted!

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  7. #7
    The Wandering Storyteller's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: Tale of the Week 290: Colonialism - VOTING THREAD

    Brilliant submissions.





















































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