It was the 1st of April 1875 when Captain Artimus Pennybottom made doc in Oregon no more than 50 miles north of the border. It was a day that was living up to it's name sake. Art had been a fool to think he could sit idly back whilst those two merchant vessels fought over the trade rights to that port and take the spoils after they killed each other. The Golden Coin Purse was hit and started taking on water. He sailed north of the battle and managed to make doc safely in some po-dunk town that was safe in it's obscurity. A few of his crew, that he hadn't taken the time to learn their names, were killed in this recent endeavour and he needed to recruit.
The pickings were slim here. No locals looked to be the type to sail at short notice and the jail house was full old men and drunks. Hardly the type to be worth the exploitation. Art was about to give up and sail north a bit further when he settled down in the towns only inn for a drink. He sat at a table with one of his more menacing crew members. A big Negro man who worked on the deck but was handy with a six shooter and handier with hammer. His handle was Smith but everyone just called him Corn-Bread. So Corn-Bread and the Cap'n sat there drinking when they saw a bunch of guns sitting at the table in the corner.
Captain Pennybottom was eaves dropping when he overheard their leader complaining.
"Boys I tell ya we will find work out here".
"Bull you been say'n that for months and we ain't found shit".
"Watch your tongue boy I am still you sergeant".
"You ain't sergeant o nothing Rogers you a joke".
"Cooper one more word out of you and I will give a lead smile".
"Bull I don't think you got the lead any more. You wouldn't kill me and leave the three of ya'll with no one who can read. Plus I got all the money".
The Sergeant stood up and levelled his colt army in line with Cooper's face.
"You idiot Cooper. If I kill you I can take the money. Oh and I can read just fine".
*BANG* the bullet went straight in his mouth and left a messy puddle on the wall and floor behind him.
The sergeant sat down and then heard a loud belly laugh and the start of a slow clap.
"I like your style Ranger. The name is Captain Artimus Pennybottom and this is my associate Corn-Bread. You seem to be a long way from Texas. What brings you here"?
"I ain't no Ranger any more English, and I ain't got time for the law. I am out of work, money and patients so if you have been sent by the union I am not planning on answering to any of my crimes and you got a fight on your hands".
Corn-Bread gets up and walks over to the table. His sheer size makes the other two men with Bull shrink into cowardice and out their hands on the table and clearly away from their shooters.
"Ha ha. I am not the law and I care less about your crimes than I do about your dead friend there. Though I did see someone behind the bar duck out when you gave the inn a new paint job. This is a pathetic little town indeed but I imagine they have a Sheriff who probably doesn't appreciate murder in his towns private businesses. Tell you what, rather than explain what I do I will make you this offer really quickly. You and your boys here finish your drinks and make your way to the docs, get on my ship and have Corn-Bread show you to your bunks and I will tell the Sheriff you made you way for the stables. You work for me now and if you are willing to get your hands even dirtier they are you will make a lucrative living. If you decline my offer I will have Corn-Bread here take you to my ship anyway and we'll have our cook turn you into chum for the fish. Your choice really.
Now Bull Rogers was a brutal man but he knew when he was out numbered even in a room with only two enemies. He might be able to pick these two off but no captain comes into a bar with out men outside. So he chose to make this the light his boys were searching for.
"Boys looks like we got a new boss".
"Excellent, Corn-Bread take these gentlemen to the Coin Purse and find them rooms, I believe one just opened up. So you two what are your names?"
Sergeant Bull Rogers answered for them "The little ugly one is Matt King but we call him Matty the Plague, and this big feller here is Bob Stackhouse. He's slow but strong and handy with a long arm."
"Right, have the Plague work in the powder store with that little Davie no toes he'll fit right in down there. Bull and Bob can start by helping board up the port side until we sail, after that we need some more shooters so get them on deck duty and send Bull up after we sail."
They sailed out and before long were heading back into the maze. It took some time for Bull to settle in to duties. He resisted the Captain's command for a while but his boys Matty and Bob were happy on board the ship. They hadn't sailed before but were learning the ropes pretty quick. The Golden Coin Purse was a pirate vessel but there was a certain class on board. The Captain kept things running well and made sure his men were fed, boozed and laid regularly.
Eventually Red Art saw that Sergeant Bull Rogers could be an commodity for the ship. When ever they made port Art would take Bull out recruiting. As menacing as Corn-Bread was Bull seemed to have a knack at convincing people to sail with them. Usually by disposing of the first nay sayer.
Captain Red Art never really had a first mate as such. He had his muscle and he had his shooters but he never gave any one that appointment, but if it was to be assumed Bull fit the bill.
The problem Sergeant Bull Rogers had was that he was too impetuous. It was what got him chased out of Texas. In the year or so he sailed with Captain Artimus Pennybottom he had got the fear into a few of the crew but not more the the captain himself. So when the mutiny began he had only a handful of loyalists on his side.
He had Stackhouse but Matty the Plague was too scared to turn on the ship so he stayed below deck. So it was purely surprise that won the day for him. Although it was a flawed victory. There were 15 men that stood behind Bull when they knocked on the Captain's door. It took a few seconds for them to realise that Corn-Bread and Ugly Pete had cut 5 of them down from the back. Bob grabbed Ugly Pete by the shirt front and he yielded as soon as the gun touched his lips. Corn-Bread kept fighting with a few of the Captain's crew behind him but Sergeant Bull was in no mood to lose. He took out nigh on 20 men with his 6 shooters and Stackhouse's rifle. Now it is hard to say who died on board but when Captain Artimus emerged form his room he could see only chaos.
Bull was covered in pink mist and had his eyes focused on the Cap'n now. Cornbread was wounded but still smashing faces in with a mallet. Ugly Pete was on the floor with a gun to his head as Bob Stackhouse fought off a couple of young crew men with his other hand. He didn't know the names of the 4 men standing beside Rogers but he recognised them as the new recruits that had come down from Washington. Bull had convinced them to turn quickly. That made Artimus quite mad and with rapier in hand he cut his way through them like butter. Sergeant Bull Rogers was actually stunned. He hadn't seen his Captain get blood on his own hands yet and had no idea he was so lethal. Stunned he actually let Art's scatter gun reach his belly before he grabbed the barrel with his left hand. With a dirty smile Cap'n Red Art hit blade to barrel and cut three of Bull's fingers and the thumb of his left hand. If only he didn't stop to laugh.
Bull pistol whipped the Captain and Art saw that Corn-Bread had been thrown over board. The Cap'n knew he could keep his ship and live so he followed suit and jumped overboard. Searching for a life raft Captain Artimus found Corn-Bread and thought him stable enough to suffice as a life raft himself. They slowly paddled away from the Golden Coin Purse.
They stuck together for some time but the Captain eventually sent Corn-Bread off to try and find out if any one else had survived with out turning over to Bull. It had been a while since he heard from him and he had begun to think he was on his own.
Then one day in a town called Saint George Captain Artimus had been working with a lawyer and some other rif raf trying to get a crew together when he walked into a bar named Bill's.
There he found Little Davie no toes, and his first lead in ages......