he Sixth Phantom, in the 17th century, was the
founder of the Jungle Patrol. It came about as an unexpected result of his
attempt to rescue Natala, Queen of France.
Natala was reputed to be the world's most beautiful woman. She was en
route to Spain to be wed to the king, and bringing with her a dowry of
great treasures, when her small fleet was surprised and attacked by the
notorious pirate Redbeard. Redbeard was perhaps the most powerful pirate of
his time, the ruler of an entire pirate city and pirate fleet. The force at
his command - a command gained on through personal combat and ruthless
discipline - was sizable enough to pose a threat to the royal fleets of the
great powers, which avoided encounters with Redbeard. But even Redbeard was
surprised by his good luck this time: the ships, the dowry, the host of pretty
women to take as wives for his pirates, and on top of it all, The Queen of
France. Redbeard had never laid eyes on so magnificent a woman, and he was
sorely tempted to make her his own, but his greed was even greater than his
lust, and he knew she would bring a huge ransom.
The Sixth Phantom went to her rescue, but was captured by Redbeard and
taken to the pirate city. There, Redbeard arranged for The Phantom to fight a
battle to the death, for the amusement of the pirates. While Natala watched
from a barred window above the town plaza, The Phantom faced Gillaim,
Redbeard's second deadliest swordsman (second only to Redbeard himself).
Gillaim arrogantly announced to the festive crowd that he would mercifully
kill the Phantom quickly. Their swords crossed with a flashing blur, and,
almost quicker than the eye could see, the pirate's sword flew into the air
and the pirate found himself flat on his back with the Sixth's sword-tip to
his throat. The crowd was stunned into silence, but the Phantom announced that
he had not come to kill, only to take Natala back to her home. Redbeard
furiously announced that he, not the Phantom, made the rules, and the Phantom
must fight to the death.
The Phantom, unintimidated, called for the next opponent, who proved to be
a huge, bullet-headed, bull-like fighter called The Crusher. He'd acquired his
nickname from his tendency to crush his opponent's skulls between his bare
hands. The Phantom used his legendary speed and agility to out-maneuver the
Crusher's waiting hands and land a solid knock-out punch on the wrestler's
jaw. Once again, the crowd was shocked into silence.
Before they could bring out another opponent, The Phantom announced loudly
that he knew the pirate's rules: that the leader had to remain undefeated in
combat. The Sixth challenged Redbeard himself. Redbeard, a giant of a man
fully a head taller and a foot wider than the imposing figure of the Phantom,
flung the Phantom a sword and jumped up to fight him.
They were well-matched, these two deadly swordsman, and the battle moved
through much of the center of town, each man taking a number of bloody cuts
and scratches. Finally the Phantom, with his lightning-speed, managed to
disarm the enormous pirate and back him into a wall with a blade at his
throat. The crowd was deadly silent. Redbeard, facing the masked man and his
death, did not ask for mercy, but said only, "Well done. Too bad I
couldn't have stayed to know you." The Phantom shocked him and the crowd
by throwing his own sword away and challenging Redbeard to a battle of fists.
Without a word of reply, Redbeard sprang on him, intending to break his spine
as he'd done to so many other men. But the Phantom's immense strength and
superb conditioning showed to advantage, and the Sixth soon had his steel grip
on the pirate's throat. As Redbeard staggered, The Phantom landed a tremendous
punch on his jaw, and followed it with many more until the pirate king fell
like a mighty oak.
The Phantom then declared himself leader of the pirate band, and none dared
challenge him. First, he gave orders to free Natala. In the weeks it took to
arrange her return to her home with all her ships and her dowry, she spent
many hours with The Phantom, hearing stories of his paradisical home in the
Deep Woods. Slowly, discreetly, she fell in love with her quiet, powerful
savior. But she was a queen, promised in marriage to a king. No matter if she
had never seen him, did not love him, or did not want her destiny, she knew
what she must do. The Sixth loved her too, and she knew it, but neither of
them had any choice in the matter.
The Phantom went away to escort Natala to safety, leaving the pirate city
in the charge of Redbeard, Gillaim and The Crusher, but under orders to do
nothing until the Phantom's return. (Redbeard, a peculiar man with his own
strong sense of honor, acknowledged his defeat and accepted the Phantom's
authority.) The Sixth then escorted the Queen's fleet to safe waters, and
returned to the pirate city in the canoes of his allies, the Mori tribal
warriors. He informed the pirates that piracy was finished. The most dangerous
of them were jailed, and the rest offered an opportunity none of them had
anticipated. Under the Phantom's command, they would form the Jungle
Patrol, and protect the villages and roads from the vicious bandits that
infested the region. Having seen what the Phantom had done to their fiercest
fighters, none dared refuse the offer. Thus, in 1664, the Jungle Patrol was
founded with Redbeard as its first officer and himself as Commander. It still
serves today, though it has now become a secret that the Phantom himself is
the unknown commander of the Patrol.
As to Natala, she could not face marriage to the old and tyrannical Spanish
king. The night before her wedding, she slipped out of harbor on one of her
remaining ships (manned by an ex-pirate crew that had remained with her after
her return) and sailed to Bengalla. She arrived in the Deep Woods riding an
elephant, with a dozen more elephants loaded with treasure. The Sixth Phantom
caught her in his arms and kissed her before her feet touched the ground, and
their fate together was sealed. They were married, with Redbeard as best man.
The Sixth and Redbeard struggled mightily to wipe out piracy along the
Bengalla coast. The Jungle Patrol was very busy in those years, and their
deeds were not logged until later generation. Hence, the true origin of the
Patrol became shrouded in the fog of time, and later generations of the corps
seldom knew or suspected that they were "descended" from Redbeard