In my posts “Ready for Amaranth?” and “Tangling Up a Family Tree for Fun and Worldbuilding” I’ve detailed some of the brainstorming I’ve been doing for a family-saga-cum-romance-tale in outer space. But something felt kinda missing. Then the other day I wondered if livening it up with some more peril, action, and adventure might be an improvement. Like, say, a pirate attack?
Watching some “Pirates of the Caribbean” films over the weekend cemented how much I like that vibe for my upcoming tale. After all, it even fits well with the ringleted men’s hair and the fashions they’ll be wearing, evocative of the 17th century, not to mention how their spaceship will be a habitat with a broad channel of water, host to a yacht powered by sails! The habitat itself being close to the sun, opening up the possibility of solar sails being the most effective means of stationkeeping, helps too. Why not an Age of Sail vibe? I seem to be doing that quite a bit lately, since two of my unpublished stories have some swashbuckling inspiration. Why not add a third?
It even helps that part of the backstory is that Rapunzel Reinhardt’s sisterhood of assassins was a direct response to her being kidnapped and held for ransom by pirates as a youth. At the end of that incident, which overlaps with her finding her beloved husband, the space pirate in question, the Lone Wolf, makes a retreat, and evades capture courtesy of a stealth ship. Why not a return of the same character, two decades more grizzled, when the next generation of Reinhardts are all romancing each other under the light of a great comet?
He might perhaps be inspired by this golden opportunity to get even with Rapunzel in the most visceral way, as well as a commission from a traitorous insider from within the Reinhardt family organization itself, who witnessed some records carelessly left displayed that proved that not only do Rapunzel’s assassins operate on-world and not just off-world, but they were responsible for assassinating someone close to him just because said someone was Rapunzel’s leading political opponent in the 2040 United States presidential election. As a mere eyewitness against someone with as impeccable a public character as Rapunzel Reinhardt, he’d stand no chance in a court of law, so he’s forced to take matters into his own hands, hence him contracting with the Lone Wolf.
A more intriguing angle might be how the Lone Wolf is growing old, perhaps well into his sixties by this point, and considers the Reinhardt family to have foiled what would have been his greatest masterpiece, the holding of Rapunzel and her beloved for ransom, thus his greatest opponent, the worthiest enemy to dispatch him into the silent majority, should his plot to hold all 18 Reinhardt cousins on board for a (very hefty) ransom fail. That is, he comes to both get even with and to die at the hands of the Reinhardts, a fact his client won’t be aware of.
The extra peril of being attacked and held by the Lone Wolf will inevitably fan the spark of romance between the Reinhardt cousins into a raging fire of hot romance, which is exactly what Amarantha wanted, having, unknown to the pirate, diligently plotted for just that to happen. Unwittingly, he’ll die having played a key role in fulfilled his enemy’s daughter’s wildest dreams. The Reinhardts, unwittingly, will have fulfilled the Lone Wolf’s dream of dying at the hands of his worthiest foe.
Interestingly, in this story I have outlined both the protagonists and antagonists both win and lose in various ways. It gets even more interesting if we consider Rapunzel the hero; very unusually, both the hero and the villain are vengeful killers, with the hero having racked up a far higher body count through (what most would likely consider) cold-blooded murder than the villain! A body count consisting of criminals and “enemies of liberty”, rather than people hunted for sport or for money, but still!
Anyway, I’m thinking the Lone Wolf will dig in together with the insider-traitor on the rogue comet passing close by the sun. Knowing the Reinhardts would send a landing party eventually, all they need do is emerge from their hiding place within the comet, sneak up on the landing party, and hold them at swordpoint (yes, it will literally be swords), forcing them to take them with them on their space shuttle back to the habitat, where they’ll sneak aboard with their hostages to Amarantha’s super-yacht, becoming the ultimate party poopers.
The Reinhardts won’t expect an attack, and the insider may well have executed quite a bit of sabotage in their defenses anyway, so when they’re taken they’ll be unarmed, with only those who happen to not be present at the comet or the yacht still free to put up a fight…at least at first.
Imagine if the ballet dancers just so happen to know fencing and are practicing on the habitat’s beach with their swords for fun (after all, fencing under the light of a rogue comet close-up doesn’t happen every day), and their counterparts who are out horseback riding witness the attack, informing them of it, with the ballet dancers sneaking aboard with their swords, doing battle with the sword-wielding pirate and his pack of well-trained animals (being a hacker type, he eschews computerized robots as untrustworthy). That’s a scene so much out of the Age of Sail it’d make the climactic sword duel in “The Hunt for Count Gleichen’s Treasure” (an earlier entry in the same Reinhardt Saga; hooray for symmetry!) look like peanuts!
So what I’ve got at this point is a story that consists of:
- Rapunzel Reinhardt communing with Menteith’s and Wolfram’s ghosts in a Yuletide blizzard right after her presidency, receiving a vision of the family coming together
- Her daughter Amarantha’s wedding to her fourth cousin Draco, with all the other young cousins being in attendance, looks of attraction on their eyes inspiring Amarantha to scheme to bring those pairs together in romantic splendor
- Amarantha giving everyone in the family makeovers, going for an attractiveness upgrade across the board as well as a more unified look
- Amarantha bringing everyone together on the habitat to see the great rogue comet
- The pirate attack and the final battle on her yacht
- The weddings of the eight hitherto unmarried pairs
I know I said just yesterday that I’m of a mind to brainstorm now more so than actually write, but I’m starting to get excited about actually writing this thing! With the addition of the pirate action, it’s all come together in my mind. *Jack Sparrow voice* “It’s a pirate story for me, savvy?” 😉