Ruby’s Last Raid

📅 Published on June 24, 2021

“Ruby's Last Raid”

Written by Raz T. Slasher
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life. It’s a beautiful place with endless wonder on land and in the depths beneath the water. I live in a small town, and I’ve never for a second considered leaving. I never honestly understood that phase people growing up in small towns tend to go through, wanting to leave because they feel like a big fish in a little pond. I love knowing everyone and everything about this little place. There’s a level of comfort and security that can’t be achieved in cities of any size.

One of the most interesting things about my little town is its proximity to the world-renown ‘Michigan Triangle.’ Any quick web searches will bring up a number of mysteries about the triangle going back to the 1700s! It’s Michigan’s very own version of the Bermuda Triangle. While my little town is close enough to explore some of that area, it’s just far enough away that none of it spills over into our everyday lives. At least, for the most part, anyway.

Everyone that grows up here inevitably learns about the mysteries and legends of the Great Lakes, especially those that involve the triangle. So many boats, planes, and people have gone missing there that it boggles the mind. My favorite legends growing up were the tales of ghost ships, pirates, and treasure. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t traditional for a girl growing up, but I wasn’t like other girls, or like other people in general, for that matter.

The specific legend I adored the most, the one that eventually lead me to become the woman I am now, is called the ‘Ruby Raider.’ Ruby Raider was actually the name of a fabled pirate ship that sailed sometime in the early 1700s. It was captained by a little-known pirate given the name Purple Beard. Her moniker was born from the scarce accounts given by those who survived their encounters with her. While the majority of those exceedingly rare accounts contradict one another in various ways, they all shared one major detail, the captain’s chin and neck were covered in blood, so dark it appeared purple by the light of the stars and moon. What little records remain about that elusive pirate captain claim that her name was Natalie Bertram. She and her crew went missing along with the Ruby Raider under mysterious circumstances.

What initially hooked me to the legend was a painting I saw as a child in a local maritime museum. It was of a gorgeous old pirate ship heading into port at night. The water was choppy in its wake as it approached the small wooden docks. I’ll never forget the vivid use of blue and violet paints that breathed life into the entire scene, nor the fog that was creeping in from the background. There was a small golden plate beneath it where the painting’s title was engraved; ‘Ruby’s Last Raid’.

I always loved that the captain and I shared a name, Natalie. It also didn’t hurt that the ship was believed to have gone missing in waters not terribly far away from my town. I spent many of my early years trying to discover anything else I could about her and the Raider, but there was only so much out there. The legends all say she was carrying something important on the ship when it disappeared, but no one seems to agree about what that might have been. It all boiled down to some kind of religious relic as I understood it.

As I got older, creeping through dark libraries and hunting down old records just wasn’t enough. I needed excitement and adventure. I got all my diving certifications and started exploring in record time. There are so many breathtaking places to explore beneath the waters of Michigan! Entire shipwrecks have even been preserved where they were discovered to give divers the chance to see and experience them. For a few years, that was all the excitement and adventure I needed.

When I graduated high school, I took classes at a nearby college. I majored in both maritime history and nautical archaeology with a focus on submerged site excavation. I joined the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) while I was there and quickly discovered that it was the first place that I ever felt like I truly belonged.

After college, I moved back home and started looking for work in my field. My mother had willed me the house when she died that year, and it needed a lot of work. I ended up taking a job at a local salvage company. I was the only female at the place with all the right certifications, but I didn’t mind being ‘one of the guys’. In time, it was less of a job and more an ongoing experience I got to share with my new ‘family’.

The most terrifying day of my life began innocuously enough. We started a new job for a local business, retrieving an expensive fishing boat that took tourists around to all the best spots. We’d done jobs with this company in the past, and the work itself would probably mean a short workday. We were gearing up and getting ready to head to the location when our owner came down to the dock with a change of plans.

Apparently, the boat in question had been located and towed to shore by its owners, so we had new marching orders. He’d been given coordinates to a recently discovered wreckage, and we were in charge of securing it and setting up the site for excavation. Despite the grumblings of the rest of the crew, I was actually excited. According to the charts, the location was further out into the triangle then we’d worked before. This was my chance for a real adventure!

The water was strangely still when we arrived at our destination, the air around us unsettlingly quiet. That was never a good sign when you were in the triangle. Our boss wasn’t much for superstitions, though and would have our asses if we bailed, so we got to work. When we were all set up and ready to go, I was the first off the boat. I did my final checks as I treaded water, the sheer excitement of the situation clouding my mind more than it should have. Rushing through it, I plunged into the depths post haste.

As I descended, I quickly realized a potentially major problem. We were never provided a plan of the wreckage and hadn’t properly surveyed the area. At least, I definitely didn’t. Glancing back the way I came and seeing a few of my crewmates following me made me realize they probably hadn’t either. I silently chastised myself and slowed my descent, deciding it better to err on the side of caution.

I noticed faint blue and violet lights far below my position. Despite how odd that might sound, it wasn’t that out of the ordinary. I won’t waste your time with the various scientific explanations when you have that little device in your hands to look up anything you please. The main thing to know is that most colors of light wavelengths are absorbed in the depths, save for blues and violets. The light source itself could have been anything.

I made it to the coordinates first, no surprise there, but what I saw shocked me. While there was wreckage as promised, it was the type of vessel that threw me off. Sitting upright at the bottom of the lake was a near perfectly preserved early 17th-century pirate ship! Fighting internally, I opted to wait for the other divers to reach me before moving forward. When they arrived, they appeared every bit as shocked as I was.

Since I had more experience in the archaeological side of excavation and salvage, I took the lead. I lead the other three crew divers down for a closer look. This ship was a true beauty, and there was something familiar about it that I couldn’t readily identify. We dove around the perimeter first, trying to get the lay of the area like we should have done in the first place. Once we were confident it wasn’t an overly dangerous area, I started looking for the easiest way inside the ship.

As we moved through the depths around the perimeter of the ship, I caught some movement on the main deck out of the corner of my eye. At first, I assumed it was a fish or some other marine animal, but then I saw its outline directly. It was a humanoid shape that appeared to be walking back and forth across the deck at an odd slant. Soon it was joined by another. Before long, several such shapes were moving back and forth. I gestured to my crew, and we circled back around, each approaching a different position to get a better look.

The closer I got, the more clearly the scene before me came into view. Five people, perfectly preserved, walked the deck without breathing apparatuses. Their clothing was just as pristine as the rest of them. It reminded me of traditional pirate garb from times long past. As they moved, they watched us, perhaps attempting to gauge whether we were friend or foe. I couldn’t help but wonder that myself. The sheer impossibility of the scene quickly divided me from common sense and reason.

I moved forward quickly, hands raised in a sign of surrender to hopefully gain their trust. Just as I moved in, they all ceased their routines and stared at me curiously, no malice in their eyes. Not watching where I was going, I slammed my head against a small portion of the mainmast. While my gear remained intact, the force was strong enough to put stars in my eyes.

I shifted downward too quickly and directly into a powerful current I hadn’t noticed was there. I fell faster, pulled towards the deck at an alarming rate. I thrashed and tried to turn my body to shake loose the current’s hold on me or at the least slow myself down, but there was no escape. My umbilical cord wrapped around the ship’s rigging and ripped away from me as I hit the deck hard. My world instantly went black.

I awoke at some point, time impossible to gauge down in the depths. The first thing I noticed was that I had no gear and seemed to be breathing as well as I did on the surface. I sat up and looked around, and I was within the ship itself. There was no sign of my crew, but I was surrounded by those I had glimpsed above deck previously. Seeing them up close yielded no further observations. This was a pirate crew, no doubt. How they could be here, or even alive for that matter, I could not guess. Another figure soon joined us from above.

Her pale skin was illuminated in the blue and violet lights, her azure eyes twinkling as she considered me thoughtfully. Each step she took down the wooden stairs from the deck above felt like slow motion as I gazed upon her. She smiled gently, the scarves and fabric that adorned her seeming to flow behind her like you might expect to see in some action film or fashion photoshoot. It was as she cleared the last step and moved to stand near me that I understood that sense of familiarity I had felt earlier. This woman had a purple stain that began at her chin, spreading downwards to her collar bones on either side. Not blood at all like the legends suggested, but a port-wine stain upon alabaster flesh.

She offered a hand down to me, and I took it, allowing her to help me to my feet. Before I could say a word, she pressed a finger to my lips gently. The look in her eyes told me that there would be time for questions later. She led me to a small darkroom in the back of what I assumed was the cargo hold by the looks of all the barrels and crates spread about. They were no doubt full of lost treasures and all manner of things forgotten by the world. Ushered into the darkroom, a door was shut behind us before small torches in all four corners lit up all at once by some unseen force.

The room was small and empty, save for the two wooden chairs we now sat in. She introduced herself as Natalie Bertram, not as Purple Beard as I had expected. Most pirates enjoyed their monikers and employed them as sources of fear and power, but not Natalie. As if able to read my mind, she assured me that she knew of my interest in her. She claimed she shared an equal interest in me and had for quite some time. She and her crew had been waiting for this moment for centuries…Centuries? I was only in my mid-twenties! Before she spoke to my obvious confusion, Natalie told me her story. The story of the crew and the Ruby Raider.

She and her crew weren’t pirates at all, in fact. They were guardians masquerading as pirates to transport dangerous artifacts to various places in the world for proper containment. Their orders were to keep their secret at all costs, so they quickly made a name for themselves and perpetuated their cover story at any opportunity. It was during their final transport that things didn’t go as planned.

As they drifted through what we now call the Michigan Triangle, a freak storm and powerful currents sent their ship spiraling to the bottom of the depths. As they touched down, they were swallowed by a giant pocket of air. They were unable to move the ship or even leave it without facing certain death.

In desperation, she broke her sacred promise to never open a shipment. She hoped to find some answers, some way to end the madness and release them from their prison. When she placed her hands upon the relic, all was revealed to her. Far more than she had bargained for had been imparted upon her during that exchange. Things she could not tell me, things that could unravel the very fabric of reality should they be spoken aloud.

An oath was made between her and the power within the relic that day. She became its guardian until the rightful owner would come and claim it. Until then, she and her crew would remain with the ship to protect it.

In time, another would come, another Natalie. She would be young, strong, and contain an overwhelming sense of wonder. She didn’t know when it would happen, only that it would. When that day did happen, a decision would be made that would alter the course of many lives. Seeing me, here, now, she knew the time had finally come.

I was terrified as she spoke, yet enamored by every little detail about this relic, this power, this responsibility. I hadn’t been drawn to the Ruby Raider and her crew simply because Natalie shared a name with me or that she was a female pirate. In my heart, there had always been something more, some force guiding me since I saw that painting of the ship as a little girl. That same force had guided my entire life, every step of the way—everything I chose to do leading me closer and closer to this moment.

She held out a smooth onyx box in her outstretched hands. Somehow, I knew exactly what I needed to do without being told. I opened the box quickly, revealing a compass rose-shaped medallion crafted from lapis lazuli attached to a strong silver chain. I carefully removed it from the box and slid the chain over my neck, one hand never leaving the medallion as I maneuvered it. Just as it rested into place, everything around me froze. I looked at the other Natalie’s lips frozen in mid-word, the flames in each corner locked at impossible angles, and the boat itself was completely still in the depths.

A flood of knowledge tore its way into my brain, my head pounding as if it would be ripped apart at any second. Every movement of the water on our entire planet and all objects and life within it thrummed in my ears and assaulted my cerebral cortex. There were things unknown to mankind everywhere. Entire civilizations, undocumented species of marine life, treasures long lost and forgotten, and so much more were waiting for me now, begging me to find them all at once in a legion-like voice. My nose began to bleed profusely as my vision warped. An all-consuming burst of violet light filled the air around me, filling my entire being. Suddenly my world went black for the second time that day.

I awoke on a small wooden dock at night. The world around me was quiet. The soft glow of the moon bounced off the surface of the lake, giving me ample light to see my surroundings. I shifted onto my side to face the water as it began to ripple, choppy waves forming as something began to rise from the depths. The Ruby Raider surfaced in all her glory; blue and violet shades highlighted it like a ghostly luminescence. My right hand moved up to my chest, grasping the medallion I knew would still be there. A sound like a deep sigh filled the air as a gentle breeze rolled over my damp skin. I saw the other Natalie step out onto the deck for a brief nod. I stood slowly and returned it with a small smile.

The ship began to fade, not into the distance but from the world entirely. I walked up that little dock and, after a couple of days, found my way home. I live in a small town, and I’ve never for a second considered leaving until now. I’d finally become the big fish in the small pond.

71% of our planet is covered in water, and mankind has only explored 5% of it. There are things out there that will change our world forever. There are new technologies that could save our planet, cures for the world’s worst diseases, and enough treasure to end poverty and world hunger. It’s all sitting there, just waiting to be discovered. They say that fortune favors the bold, but there are other things out there too, unspeakable things, things that could drive the world to madness with a single glance.

Should you ever see the Ruby Raider, or it’s peak-like mast from the depths in the dark of night, heed the call. Fear not it’s captain or crew, for they are no different than you. In the search for knowledge, we are all but ghosts floating through the ether, waiting for purpose and a chance to explore the world beyond…

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Raz T. Slasher
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Raz T. Slasher

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Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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