Warsame was the most natural leader of all of The Noble Somali Privateers. He had been the most successful fisherman in Eyl, but he was thrilled to have the opportunity to command The Shadows. If Saalax had refused to create The Noble Somali Privateers, Warsame would have seized the opportunity.
His first action was to create a very specific hierarchy, based on the order in which he had drafted the men. Saalax had outlined only four specific jobs: commander, initiator, translator, and ordinary privateer. Warsame, instead, gave all twelve of his men a different job title. And he excluded initiator and translator, because Warsame would handle those duties—in addition to being commander. He ranked his privateers in the following manner: (1) personal bodyguard, (2) weapons expert, (3) navigator, (4) lookout, (5) boarding expert, (6) food handler, (7) ship maintenance, (8) mechanic, (9) technician, (10) medic, (11) historian, and (12) contrarian thinker.
After finally working out the assignments and details of the jobs, Warsame explained his business model. The only goal of The Shadows was to maximize the amount of compensation that they received. Warsame was careful to use the word compensation rather than profit; the crew of the foreign ships must be the criminals rather than the victims.
Warsame required knowledgeable input from each of his crew members. He wanted to know where his bodyguard would be at all times. He wanted to know whether an RPG would cause excessive damage to a ship. He wanted to know the physical capabilities of the navigator's skiff. He wanted to know how many flags the lookout could identify. He wanted to know when a ladder would be superior to a rope. He wanted to know which foods were light, nutritious, and durable. He wanted to know whether carrying extra fuel would be worthwhile. He wanted to know what other resources were most useful. He wanted to know what technologies they might encounter. He wanted to know how to keep the men alert. He wanted to know how they perceived him. He wanted to know what could be improved.
The lengthy, establishing process finally reached its conclusion. Warsame led the men out of the café. All but two of them headed toward Warsame's and the navigator's skiffs—the maintenance privateer and mechanic went to look for blue paint. The contrarian had suggested painting the skiffs blue in order to blend in with the sea, and Warsame loved the idea.
The men prepared to launch the skiffs northeast, out to sea rather than along the coastline. The consensus of the group was that they were most likely to find bigger ships out that way. They would be heading toward or coming from the Gulf of Aden.
And then, as if it were a dream, the lookout noticed a vessel approaching from the north. With his sharp long-range eyesight, he could see that the flag was white with a red cross—an English vessel. He yelled out to the others. A few of them did not even bother to look, thinking that the lookout was joking. But Warsame looked.
“Go, go, go!” He almost did not believe his outrageous fortune.
After all of their meticulous preparation, The Shadows took off in a ludicrously jumbled mess. Six of them rushed toward Warsame and his skiff. Only three of them joined the navigator in his skiff. Warsame hadn't organized the skiffs yet. Even worse was the fact that the maintenance privateer and the mechanic were still out fetching paint. They had to leave them behind.
Warsame's skiff was ready to go, of course, and it burst ahead toward the English vessel. The navigator, however, was not prepared to go so soon; the primary problem was that the skiff had no fuel. All of the extra fuel was in Warsame's skiff. Warsame could not turn back, even if he had noticed that the other skiff wasn't following him. Thus, Warsame was without half of his privateers: ship maintenance, mechanic, navigator, food handler, technician, and medic.
The English vessel noticed Warsame's skiff before the skiff got close. It changed course, heading perpendicular to the coast. It weaved left and right as it sped ahead at maximum speed. But Warsame's powerful motor had caught the Malhotra, and so it could catch this ship.
The lookout yelled, “It looks like a private yacht! They named it the Haze.” The historian quickly scribbled the information into his journal. Warsame didn't care. He wanted to hear from the boarding expert.
“Get close enough and I'll get my grappling hook on them.”
The weaving made it relatively easy for the skiff to catch up to the Haze, but it wouldn't be easy to connect with the grappling hook. The boarding expert did, however, manage an excellent throw that landed on the deck of the Haze. When it weaved again, the hook caught on the railing. The boarding expert held tightly to the rope and began to climb.
Within seconds, a man swiftly appeared on the deck with a blazing torch. He held the flame under the rope, which had been specially protected from getting wet. The fire burned through the rope in seconds, and the boarding expert plummeted into the sea.
While the privateers watched the boarding expert's decent, the man hurled the torch toward the skiff. Since it was heading straight for the weapons expert's head, he had no choice but to jump out of the skiff. Fortunately, however, the flame missed the skiff—and its fuel supplies.
Warsame was simultaneously surprised and furious. He ordered his bodyguard to start shooting at the yacht. “But don't shoot the guy!”
The bullets connected, but the ship did not even slow down. The man replied to the gunfire by grabbing the grappling hook off of the railing and hurling it toward the skiff. The historian dodged the hook, but in doing so, he fumbled his journal into the water.
Warsame screamed, “You fools are useless!”
Various debris and makeshift weapons continued to rain down on the skiff. Warsame made the decision to move the skiff alongside the Haze, where perhaps the wild man couldn't defend so well. Warsame prepared the specially rigged ladder, which is able to latch onto a railing. With the climber's weight on it, it couldn't be pushed off, and it couldn't be burned like the grappling hook's rope.
But Warsame soon realized the impossibility of what he wanted to do. The ladder was far too heavy to move easily. And it would take perfect timing and alignment for the ladder to hook onto the railing. It wasn't meant for linking two ships during a high-speed chase. Warsame quit before trying. Why waste a good ladder? He had failed embarrassingly, comically, massively. Destiny was telling him to stop before anyone got seriously hurt. He had no ideas left, anyway.
Out of nowhere, the contrarian spoke up. “Aren't you going to disable the ship?”
“Damage whatever is powering the ship, of course.”
Warsame had been entirely focused on overcoming the Haze's defender. He was also severely bending the privateer code; this situation was dangerous. Disabling the Haze would solve both problems. How could he have so foolishly ranked the contrarian as the least important privateer?
“Give him your kalachnikov.”
The surprised bodyguard reluctantly handed over the kalachnikov to the contrarian. Everyone on the skiff knew that the contrarian's true ranking had jumped from last to first. But Warsame would always be in charge. Or, at least, he would appear to be.
Warsame maneuvered the skiff into position, and the contrarian wasted no time. He aimed and fired like a professional. After a few moments, the Haze died in the water. Had the notoriously inaccurate kalachnikov actually done the job? It was more likely that the threat of immobilizing damage had convinced the crew on the Haze to surrender.
It was time to use the skiff's ladder. It worked as intended. Warsame led the charge, and no one resisted him. The four remaining privateers—the bodyguard, the lookout, the historian, and the contrarian—joined Warsame on the deck of the Haze. The defensive man and a woman appeared with their empty hands raised. The Shadows had successfully taken the Haze.
Before Warsame could approach them for a conversation, the contrarian spoke up again.
“Sir, we need to rescue the two men in the sea and get the others here.”
“Yes, absolutely. But I have to stay here. Obviously the lookout should go, since he has the best eyesight. The historian should go too, since he can describe what happened best. Can either of you handle the skiff?”
They shrugged. A third privateer would have to go with them. The other one would be the only privateer left to help Warsame. Warsame could not believe that the choice was so difficult. He had planned ahead with the rankings. His bodyguard was supposed to be the most important privateer. The contrarian thinker was supposed to be the least important.
Yet, it was only the contrarian who offered tactical advice beforehand. If they had painted the skiffs blue rather than meticulously planned, perhaps they all would have boarded the Haze without detection. And it was the contrarian who not only suggested how to board the ship, but he actualized that suggestion.
Warsame had thought very little of the contrarian when he had drafted him. Warsame had picked him solely because he wasn't like the experienced, skillful men that he had drafted earlier. The contrarian had seemed to be more like Warsame's brother—Samatar. The contrarian's purpose was only to help boost Warsame's creativity. And, maybe subconsciously, Warsame wanted to demonstrate dominance over his brother. Yet, the contrarian now seemed to be more like Saalax than Samatar. The contrarian was on the verge of becoming the shadow leader of The Shadows. He was far more qualified to be a privateer than Warsame had imagined.
But it wasn't just the contrarian's usefulness that intrigued Warsame. It was the challenge. This “shadow” seemed unafraid of doing things his own way whenever he saw something that he didn't think was working. Perhaps the contrarian was, in fact, the ideal kind of man that Warsame wanted.
Warsame sent the bodyguard away with the lookout and the historian.
(Note: This chapter is not finished.)