Skulls and Shuriken: What the Future Holds in Store for Brown

Alexander Rosenthal '08, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Spring 2005)

Wayland Arch. The first day of Freshman Initiation, 9:00PM, 2105.

The Brown Derbies kick off the year with an arch sing. Hundreds of confused, eager, slightly homesick, disoriented freshmen gather round. Many can’t see the performers and most don’t know why they’re there—they had just seen the crowd and joined in to see what was going on. The Derbies start off the set with their popular rendition of Muse’s “Beam Me Up, Buttercup.” They get a record half-minute into the song before…

“ARRR!!!” reverberates through the arch in stereo, as pirates storm the concert from Wriston quad and Brown Street, pushing through the crowd and trampling the bodies of the unfortunate freshmen who had fallen in the initial rush and those who took a seat in the front.

One of the Derbies mutters under his breath, “Fuckers, won’t even let us get through one song before they co…” but one of the fiercest pirates overhears him and sinks a cutlass half way into the offender’s chest before he can speak further on the subject.

By now the onlookers have fallen silent except for the whimpers of the wounded on the ground. All knew of the pirates, but actually witnessing them in action had produced a mixture of shock, awe, trepidation, excitement, admiration, and in some cases, a deep seated loathing.

“Good,” the man who is clearly the pirate captain—he towers above everyone else in the vicinity by a full head, sports a long, ribboned beard, and wears a glorious, plumed, crimson hat--announces, “Now that we have your attention, allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Arrr,” (the other pirates interject with a lusty, communal “ARRR!!!”) “Brown University’s only a capirate ensemble. We are here to welcome ye all to Brown and encourage ye to consider auditioning for our prestigious crew. And if any of ye be wanting booze, any manner of drug, or a partner—all three sexes available—come see us in our Headquarters, Faunce, and we’ll be able to fix any one of ye up for the right share of booty.” (The other pirates jump in periodically with yarrs, whoops, and bellowing laughs). “So! Now we’ll sing ye a few sea shanties, free of charge, as our way of extending ye a big welcome.”

The pirates launch into the opening of “A Drop of Nelson’s Blood”—rough, yet oddly melodic for this band of murderers and rapists splattered with the blood of the former Derby breathing his last ragged breaths at their feet.

A half-minute into their performance two things happen simultaneously: the more obvious of the two is when one of the pirates, in fact the one who had killed the Derby, falls forward onto the ground with a five-pointed metal throwing star protruding from his forehead. Secondly, and unexplainably, a dozen figures clad in fashionable black have materialized into the space, all crouched low with assorted gleaming, intimidating weapons drawn.

The pirates only pause for a moment before they are upon the ninja, biting, kicking, hacking, screaming, and all the while the ninja fight back silently. Both groups wear lightweight microfiber body armor which provides nearly complete coverage (the forehead is one of the few exposed bits, as the Derby-killing pirate experienced), so this battle is more designed to impress the freshmen than incur casualties. After a minute or two of scuffling the ninja and pirates disperse across campus, leaving a crowd of bewildered freshmen in their wake.

Choose a side to follow.

Pirates! Ninja!