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Dewey Lambdin

Havoc`s Sword

This one is for…

Sam and Salvador, at my favourite 'watering hole,' Darfon's. And for all their lovely 'beer-slingers,' Stephanie, Rachel, Charlsi, Dezerae, Boo, Courtney and 'Skank'-none of whom are waiting on a record deal on Music Row, if that's possible in Nashville!

Thanks for all the bottles of 'Loudmouth Lite,' and may none of you ever experience a personal life as tumultuous as that of that rogue Alan Lewrie.

'All pity chok'd with custom of fell deeds;

And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,

With Ate by his side come hot from Hell,

Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice

Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war…'

Julius Caesar, Act III, Sc. 1 269-273

William Shakespeare

PROLOGUE

Gaudent perfusi sanguine fratrum;

exsilioque domos et dulcia limina mutant

atque alio patrium quaerunt sub sole iacentem

Gleefully they steep themselves in their brothers' blood;

for exile they change their sweet homes and hearths

and seek a country that lies beneath an alien sun.

– Georgics, Book II, 510-512

Publius Vergilius Maro

Clerk Etienne de Gougne heaved a fretful sigh after surveying the large salon, just off the equally seedy entrance hall of the commandeered mansion. With grips still in hand, and rolled up charts still crammed under his arm-pits, he squinted his eyes in dread of the tirade to come once Le Capitaine saw the place. He wished that just once he had had the tiniest dash of courage; else, his master's transfer to Guadeloupe, and this foetid clime, could have been his excuse to enter the service of some other official, perhaps even in his own beloved and exhilarating Paris, instead of letting himself be meekly dragged, ever demeaned and terrified, from one arse-end of the world to another.

Etienne de Gougne could smirk, though, in his mousy little way, that the bulk of Le Capitaine'?, wrath would fall upon the person who'd chosen this abandoned mansion so blithely and carelessly, the despised Lieutenant de Vaisseau Jules Hainaut, for once, the swaggering poseur, that jumped-up lout, that…!

'God's Noodle, what a pig-sty!' Lt. Hainaut said from the doorway, making the little clerk 'Eep' in sudden dread, drop his precious charts in a hollow, 'bonking' jumble, his grips thudding to the floor, and making him spin about.

'Oh! Lieutenant, don't do that, I beg you,' de Gougne said as he bent to gather his things; though secretly pleased to see the look of consternation on the handsome young sprig's face as he realised his error.

'Good Christ,' Lt. Jules Hainaut breathed, taking in just how shabby the interior was; when it had looked so promising and grand in his too-brief visit the day before, when he'd stood on the veranda and had merely peeked in through the smutted window panes, assuming…!

'This won't do,' Hainaut stated, shaking his head, 'no, not at all. You'd better get our gang of noirs to muck all this out before Le Capitaine arrives, little mouse.'

Ordering the timid clerk about always made Hainaut feel better. He stalked into the salon, elegant and expensive new boots drumming on the loose wood-parquet floor, savouring the creak-squeak of excellently made leather. His left hand grasped the hilt of his ornately chased smallsword, his right hand fisted to his hip, the arm akimbo, his mind scheming quickly on how to recover from this disaster.

This spacious salon on the east side of the house had lost its window panes, and the winds and rains had gotten in, along with a scattering of leaves, palm fronds, and red-brown, wooly furze off the tropical trees. The window shutters hung nearly paintless, scabbed, broken-slatted and crooked. A skift of bright glass shards littered the floor, along with a few dead birds and a skeletal rat, now collapsed upon itself, and swarming with ants. Even as Hainaut fanned himself in the closeness of the airless salon with his gilt-laced fore-and-aft bicorne hat, he saw a lizard of some kind scuttle from the shutters to seize a cockroach nigh as big as his thumb, and he could hear the 'crunch' all the way across the room. To make things even worse, an entire flotilla, a whole shoal of cockroaches, fled at that seizure from beneath a torn and tilt-legged sofa to flood along the baseboard, before swirling beneath it like a spill of dark ale!

Jules Hainaut knew that he was in trouble; Le Capitaine would have him strangled for such carelessness, for heaping one more demeaning slight upon him, after the several he had suffered from the local officials since they had come ashore on Guadeloupe.

Working for Le Capitaine was rewarding at times, profitable in monetary matters and the best of confiscated or 'commandeered' goods… such as his ornate sword, which formerly had been the property of an elderly junior admiral without the proper zeal and ruthlessness of a true revolutionary. ' You wish it? Take it,' Le Capitaine had told Hainaut after the court-martial for failure and Royalist sentiments, as it lay on the judge's table after the guilty party had been hauled out- blade exposed and point toward the doomed, signifying a verdict of guilty.

Rewarding and pleasing for Jules Hainaut, too, was the aura of fear he could create by merely stating whom he worked for, trading on Le Capitaine's dread reputation. His new boots the cobbler had made gratis, pouring heart and soul into the workmanship and materials as if his life had depended on it. His uniforms, if not free, were gotten at a large, shuddery, discount.

But, his superior didn't suffer fools or slackers gladly, and more than one promising and well-connected young officer had had his head lopped off for less. Now, what to do, what to do? Hainaut dithered, all the while in an outward pose of a man with few cares, but for this mere trifle.

Jumped-up, foreign farm-hand! Clerk de Gougne silently sneered as he gathered up his traps; can't even speak good French, he circumspectly scoffed with a Parisian's disdain for anything provincial, or anyone born outside La Belle France.

Jules Hainaut no longer looked it, but he had been born a farmboy, in the Austrian Netherlands, his parents the sketchiest sort of 'outlander' French. He'd fled potato-grubbing early, had gone to sea at fourteen, still nigh-illiterate, and had drifted into the old Royal French Navy just before the start of the Revolution.

Just a lowly matelot with grandiose dreams of being somebody or something, some day, he'd seen quickly how the prevailing winds stood, and had gladly (if not wholeheartedly) embraced Republicanism and the Jacobism of the sans culottes as a way

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