Announcements: Universe of the Month! » Finding Universes to Join (and making yours more visible!) » Guide To Universes On RPG » Starter Locations & Prompts for Newbies » RPG Chat — the official app » USERNAME CHANGES » Suggestions & Requests: THE MASTER THREAD »

Latest Discussions: Eudaimonia » Loot! » Natural Kinds » I have a funny idea » Life in the 21st century. » Song of the Runes » Plato’s Beard » Clues » Nihilism » Strange Tales From Hadean » Art Gulag [ Come get this Commish! ] » Visibility of Private Universes & Profile Customisation » Presuppositionalism » Aphantasia » Skill Trees - Good, Bad & Ugly » In-Game Gods & Gameplay Impact » Cunningham's Law » The Tribalism of Religion » Lost Library » Game Theory »

Players Wanted: Hellboy characters » 18+ Writing Partner [Fantasy, Romance, Etc.] » 18+, Multi-Para to Novella Writers please! » Looking for roleplayers » Fun tale full of angels, demons, and humans » Looking for roleplayers » A Fairytale World in Need of Heroes & Villains! » Are You a Crime Addict? » Wuxia RP » Looking for roleplayers » New Realistic Roleplay - Small World Life Ù©( ´・ш・)و » Mentors Wanted » MV Recruiting Drive: sci-fi players wanted! » Veilbrand: The Revolution » Gonna do this anyway. » Looking for Kamen Rider Players » Elysium » Looking for roleplayers for a dystopian past! » Revamping Fantasy Adventure RPG, need new players » Here, At the End of the World (supernatural mystery drama) »

Snippet #2680778

located in The Seven Seas, a part of Making Waves, one of the many universes on RPG.

The Seven Seas

None

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

Footnotes

Add Footnote »

0.00 INK

Ren forced herself to watch as the cannon fire hit home. As the wood splintered and the sea churned from the impacts and the ship sucking in the sea around it. She watched as the younger navy still on board scrambled to find safety. She watched as the older men sat stoically, praying and accepting what was about to come. She watched as water began spilling onto the main deck when it became even with the waves, as the younger fools flopped towards the quarter deck for higher ground. One smart man managed to get a plank beneath him, but his hands and feet were both bound. There'd be no swimming. All he could do was pray a ship passed by and spotted him.

A testament to the lunkheads skill, the ship was gone all but the mast in a matter of minutes. All throughout the process not a soul had said a word in the room, which punctuated the lone musket shot when it rang out from the tops. Ren's eyes widened as she saw the man on the plank writhe in agony before slipping from his perch, disappearing into the sea. There was laughter up on deck, a roar of approval from the gunman's mates. Ren's hands were clenched tight into fists, fury building up in her veins and her arms nearly shaking, but years of practice kept her emotions under a facade of calm. Pushed the anger and the sorrow back down into the same pit she'd put all her painful memories and things she'd rather forget. A terrible vault of things that could only see the light of day in her nightmares or through the coaxing of alcohol.

When only the masts of the ship were all that kept above the gentle ebbing of the sea, Ren silently turned and began walking towards the door. She didn't look behind her but assumed that Karena followed, though at the moment Ren wasn't much for conversation.

Another quick stroll found the duo back on deck, a quick scan of the men telling Ren that everyone was back to their normal duties, though she saw a few who were apparently new and no idea what their normal duties were to be. She took another cursory glance around the ship and scowled as she saw scraps of debris and blood on the deck still from the battle. Turning back to the new hands, she strode towards them and placed a firm hand on one's shoulder before pointing to the main deck.

"I understand that we've not had proper time to take stock and sort through the ship's ledger, but can't have idle hands. Mops and brooms, the lot of you Plenty to clean after a battle," Ren said calmly, and was quickly backhanded in the temple for her trouble.

Karena took in a sharp breath and quickly stepped back. This was Ren's problem and didn't want to risk getting involved. Getting mixed in with others' issues often got people killed. Karena would know because she was the one who killed them.

"The fuck you think you are giving out orders?" A man shouted, one who had not been in the group she'd been addressing but was apparently in earshot. Her head throbbed dully from the blow, blurring her vision for a brief moment, but her feet remained planted where they were, not giving an inch to the blindsided attack. Her head slowly turned to glare at her assailant, a brute of a Scotsman who as quickly being backed by his mates, arms crossed over his chest as he awaited an answer to his challenge.

"Well, ye cross dressing bastard?" He insisted, ars unfolding as he raised his right hand to hit her again. She grabbed the wrist as it came down, putting her free hand to his elbow as she pivoted and turned to face the same direction as the Scotsman. She threw her hip back into his gut, pushed with her hand on his elbow and pulled the wrist in, sticking a foot back to kick a leg from underneath his considerable bulk. Her knees were locked as he rolled over her and landed on his back, his head cracking against the deck just before Ren's boot pinned his throat down, still holding an iron grip on his wrist and elbow.

"I'm your commanding officer, and you will address me as such!" Ren barked, pushing gently on the elbow to shoot pain into his arm and demonstrate to her insubordinate crewman how little pressure it would take to have it bend the opposite direction. The man was overwhelmed by all that happened to him in the short span, his breathing limited by Ren's boot and his head foggy from the blow to the back of his head. Her eyes darted back up at the men she'd originally been directing.

Karena was satisfied and yet disappointed. If she was in Ren's place the mercenary would have killed the man or at least thrown him overboard as an example. There were plenty of men to take this crewman's place and a blunt, hard-hitting, example was often needed for the likes of these men. Let them know what the risk are to defying orders. But at least Ren handled the situation. For now.

"Mops and brooms!" she shouted, turning her head again to glare at the Scotsman's friends. Three had swords drawn and two had pistols cocked, but as quickly as the fire had been lit in their bellies, they backed down. Ren was grateful, not wanting to be shot today, but was surprised to see Mr. Peters standing behind her.

His arms were also crossed over his chest, an unimpressed look to his face as he looked the lieutenant over as well as scowled at the men who had meant her harm. "Captain wants a word with you in his quarters," He said coldly, then turned to face Karena, "A word in private."

Ren let out a sigh, now having mixed feelings about the man as she knew damn well what words the Captain wanted to have.

"Thank you Mr. Peters. See to it Ms. Angelique is made aware of the new injured, if you'd be so kind," Ren replied, getting a unenthused snort in reply as he shouldered past her, heading to the same set of stairs Ren and Karena had just come out of.

Ren let out a sigh before putting her shoe to the Scotsman's shoulder and gave a solid yank to his arm and slipped it painfully out of socket. The Scotsman screamed up until the barrel of a pistol found its way into his mouth.

"Next time you speak to me, short of the words 'yes mam', I'll shoot you on the spot and use your fat ass to restock the long pork. Are we clear, mate?" Ren spat, glaring at the man as he attempted to speak despite the weapon holding down his tongue. Ren nodded in satisfaction, wiped her pistol off on the man's coat, and holstered it before looking back at Karena.

"Sorry you had to see that, though it seems I'm to report to the Captain... you going to be alright by yourself?" She asked.

Karena nodded in response to Ren's question.

"No need to apologize. I've seen worst. And you don't have to worry about me. I'll just help." Karena then turned a cold glare towards the other crewmen as Ren left. "And if any of you think about touching me then you're dead. Not injured. And I dare you to test me."

-=-

It was a simple walk to get to The Captain's quarters, glad that this frigate was former navy and its layout similar to the ones she'd formerly served on. Facing the door to the Captain's cabin, one she had no doubt the man was already staring daggers at in preparation for her arrival, and took a few deep calming breaths. Nate only seemed unreasonable when the heat of battle boiled in his blood, and though her actions were inexcusable, she would accept any punishment short of keelhauling or execution that he deemed fit. Should it come to that... well she was a quick shot and a strong swimmer. Her odds of survival trying to escape would be much better than acceptance. God knows there was more than enough lumber in the water to cling to.

She stood up straight as though Captain Sellars could already see her, and gave short three but firm knocks to the door. "Permission to enter, sir." Ren called, and swallowed the lump in her throat. The stress of trouble never waned with age, she'd found.

"Enter," Nate said just loud enough to be heard on the other side of the door. Pulling himself upright he adopted a stony faced expression, one that carried the atmosphere of displeasure even without openly saying so. His hands on his legs below the table he flexed his fingers over and over again. He had intended to speak to Ren properly when he got the chance, the events of the evening and following morning not allowing for much conversation, but now he had to carry out the unpleasant task of disciplining an officer. In the Navy such an event was rare, and bad officers were often simply ignored. But on tighter ships, and certainly on the Acheron, it was recognized that good officers meant a good and happy crew. Better to nip the problem in the bud than wait for the day cannon balls started rolling on the decks at night. Nate did not enjoy the act, but he prided himself on an efficient and happy ship, a testament to his abilities, and it was better he made his thoughts clear now than have to scrape what was left of his new first officer out of the head come the next dawn.

Still stony faced and with as little emotion as possible, Nate motioned to the chair opposite him at the table. "Take a seat Lieutenant Thompson."

With a curt nod, Ren crossed the room in a march that would have made her instructor at the academy envious before taking her offered seat. Before her lay the pistol, which she expected, though the sight of the King's Regulations made her wonder exactly what kind of course this disciplinary hearing was headed to. Surely to God he wasn't going to make her copy the damned thing.

Her eyes lingered back to the pistol, but her face was neutral, not betraying the nerves shaking just beneath the surface as she looked up to lock eyes with the Captain. She made no excuses or attempts to explain away her guilt, but she wouldn't disgrace herself by begging for mercy either. Instead she straightened her posture and placed her hands on her knees, gripping them tight to let out her anxiety. Years of hiding her gender and name from officer and ensign alike had given her an enviable poker face, but even still she made no attempt to hide the fact that she recognized the gun.

Nathaniel let the silence hang for a few seconds, letting it become almost palpable and certainly uncomfortable. The Lieutenant's brazen stare betrayed nothing but a preparedness for what she expected to come, if she knew what to expect. Not breaking the silence, Nate raised an eyebrow quizzically. Her behavior was exactly what he thought it would be, and why he had brought her on in the first place. Respectable, and more than a little brave. After all that had happened, and the obvious difficulties facing a new officer on an established ship, Nate was impressed. She did not have an easy time ahead of her, and he could understand that she needed to find her feet. He just hoped she did it quickly. Bringing his hands up to the tabletop and lacing his fingers together, he visibly relaxed a little, deciding to give her the benefit of the doubt.

"Well?" Nate asked. He was being deliberately vague, having decided to let her explain herself rather than summarily admonish and punish. His usual action of choice. A slightly raised finger in the direction of the pistol indicated what he was talking about.

The silence was nearly agonizing as Ren waited for the yelling to start, or the fist to come across her face, even for Nate to grab the pistol and tilt back the hammer, but instead there was just the creaking of the ship as the two maintained eye contact, Nate searching her for weakness and Ren daring him to find any. Even if he'd yet to say a kind word to her since they'd left the inn, and despite the cruelty she'd seen from him, there were still several things Ren owed to the man. She'd spent a full day on the deck of a ship without having to hide who she was, and she'd found someone willing to look past her gender and willing to make her an officer on his ship as she was. She didn't give two shits at this point if it was a cruel joke whose punchline was to be shortly delivered, it was far more than the Navy had ever given her.

When he did speak, his lack of volume surprised her nearly to the point of breaking her exterior expression, but she didn't need the motion of his finger to know what was expected of her.

"I couldn't leave three women, one unconscious and one barely out of school defenseless, sir. I take full responsibility and punishment for my actions as they have no excuse," She replied, speaking as if replying to a superior on deck. She dared not risk the disrespect of casual tone even if no other crew were present. Given the situation, she had far from earned it. She had no real defense save for what she'd already said, leaving out the detail that, if Jacqueline had wanted, she could have taken the arm of any crewman that tried to disarm her without consent. She didn't need to know how deeply she could dig the whole she'd found herself in by putting her foot in her mouth.

Of course it was a problem with morality. Nate had expected as much. From the first thing Ren had said to him he had figured she had a soft spot for the underdogs of the world. For the downed, the helpless. In the future, that may become a problem. However, she had dealt with the Illustrious and the prisoners on board without questioning the order, or trying to release them, so the issue may not be as prevalent as he thought. But for now, he could let her know exactly what he expected.

"Have you ever read these Miss Thompson?" Nate said, motioning to the book of King's Regulations. The book, and the Naval Articles of War, were the two items Nate ran the ship by, and had lived by for most of his life. They were his Bible. Although he had forsaken his oath to King and Country, and ignored the rules about spies, information and piracy he still ran his ships by the rules on discipline. Every Sunday he read the Articles of War to the crew as a form of church, beating into them what was expected. Admittedly he also let them laugh at the final dedication to God and to the King, but their dedication to him and the Acheron was deadly serious.

If the tension didn't break soon, Ren was going to start sweating. Her knuckles were white and her fingers and knees hurt from her grip, but it was the only release she had for the moment. At least if he hit her the blasted air of the room wouldn't be strangling her.

"Yes sir. Cover to cover at the Academy and again when I was promoted to officer aboard the Dublin," Ren replied, her voice shaking slightly, the first crack in her facade of calm since opening the door. It made her wonder if on some level Nate was drawing this out on purpose. She'd seen his temper on deck and she'd openly defied him. Why hadn't he gotten angry yet?

"Then you should know, that in its pages there lies protection for any passengers, prisoners, or simply those who happen to be on board. Most certainly it keeps those under protection by the Captain of the vessel." Nate paused, letting the words settled for a moment. He could see where the confusion lay. To all concerned outside the Acheron, he and his crew were pirates. He did not call himself a pirate, but then he did not know what to call himself. He took what he wanted, when he wanted it, but he still abided by rules, rules that had kept himself and his crew alive. Maybe he was a pirate, but he was anything but the raping, murdering, unprincipled stereotype. His piracy was organized, and that was why he was successful.

"What is this vessel to you Miss Thompson?" Here Nate leant forwards. "Back in town I told you I expected you to behave like an officer of the Royal Navy, even if you are one no longer. Did you come to this ship expecting to see what you've heard in tales and in the penny dreadfuls?"

Ren dared not break her posture, but at this point the tension in her muscles may not have let her. Nate's words settled on her mind, reminding her of their talk in the tavern, but with the follow up to his question glints of painful memories flashed through her mind. Her face softened slightly, but she tried her best to correct it.

"I acknowledge that I have not been on this ship long enough to speak in anything besides ignorance of the crew as a whole, Captain, but as an officer of the Royal Navy, I've seen men who were to uphold those words... disregard them," she said, not breaking eye contact but her resolve to was weakening.

"When I served as a cabin boy, we encountered privateers off the coast of the Caribbean and made quick work of the frigate. Not all of its cargo were spices and rum, ferrying people to the colonies for profit. The Captain... he considered them cargo. I confess I misjudged the discipline of your crew, but I've seen men of more moral profession do worse given the chance," Ren said, voice shaking again as she spoke, but she pulled all the strength left in her to recover her stony expression. "But my actions were equally as inexcusable. I should trust my Captain and trust in his crew," She said, voice strong and even, pushing her memories back down into the vault in her mind.

Nate almost sneered at the mention of Navy officers, especially at the implied comparison. "Navy officers are mostly aristocratic scumbags who treat their crew with as much disdain and disrespect as the enemy. As if stealing from them wasn't enough, they whip them for raising a voice, impose bad leaders on them and drag them from their homes and jobs without so much as a request. At least the army press gangs get you drunk first." Nate stopped, closing his eyes for a moment as he pulled himself back. His hatred for the Navy wasn't in question, and a rant about the evils of the service was not what was needed at the moment.

Ren's apology gave Nathaniel pause for a moment. That was something he had not expected. He had thought she would refuse to apologize for her actions, sticking out any punishment he gave her, but sticking to her guns. However, it would seem that she understood what he was trying to say. Hopefully over time she would see it for herself, if she had not already.

"I'm glad you think so Lieutenant. I understand that you are in a stressful position, and our close proximity to combat rushed things more than I would have liked." Nate paused again, scanning her face for her reaction. "The crew will be difficult to win. My last Lieutenant, a man named Pullings, was popular. We lost him in the combat that brought us to the town, so, as you can imagine, they are not feeling very forgiving of a new officer they do not know, or yet respect."

A point raised itself in Nate's mind, certainly something that would be useful in the future. "What are they saying about me back in England these days?" Knowing what the Admiralty was putting about could be useful, especially if it made people afraid. That way he wouldn't have to kill so many people before merchant captains gave up their goods.

Ren hesitated before answering, blinking a few times in disbelief. No temper? Nothing more than stern words? No. She wouldn't be suckered into letting her guard down. She wouldn't strike back, but she needed to keep her guard up.

"There are more than a few rumors you're taking gold or supplies from the French or Spanish to hound the Royal Navy as you do. A sentiment even the common-folk have taken to, if you recall the drunkard at the inn. The Dublin had your poster in the mess hall to keep the crew on edge. The Acheron is precise and brutal, not like the sloppy attacks most crews are prepared for. At least around these waters, there is a great deal of fear surrounding this ship Such tales may have affected my perceptions of the crew's integrity," Ren replied. She regretted the act of automatically being distrustful of the crew rather than her decision to protect the stowaways. That was what she felt was a demerit to her rank.

"The rumors are permeable enough that I wondered if you'd be given land and a title by King Louis should you make port," She quipped, immediately snapping back to attention. Damn the man's demeanor for relaxing her.

Nate smiled a little, allowing one to slip through. "I doubt I would be anything other than dead if I went to France. I've raided as much of their shipping as I have British." Though true he had raided a lot less recently. British ships from the colonies overseas were richer targets than the meager French pickings that could be had. Nate wondered if the poster they were using was still the old one from when he first left the Navy.

"Well Lieutenant, I expect you in future to follow the letter of the law, unless in extreme circumstances. Like I said before, this may not be a Navy ship, but I run it like one. The discipline and efficiency the ruling gives lets us be the precise weapon we are. It is why we are still alive today." With that Nate pushed the pistol across the table towards Ren, placing his hand on top of the book afterwards. "One more thing. The crew will be difficult, but that does not mean you can forget what you are. You are not one of them, and I expect better. So no more brawling with crew members. If you need one punished, do it properly. I will say the same thing to Carrington." Even though he'd been saying the same thing to him for five years it would have to be said again.

The salute was instinctual before taking back her pistol, though the last bit gave Ren a moment's pause. That one was going to be a problem.

"Aye sir. At the risk of informality, I don't suppose you've decided on an officer's cabin to assign me as of yet? I've been itching to get a change of clothes and to tune this violin I found on the Illustrious. Savage had it lying about outside of its case," She said, glancing down at her bag briefly.

"A violin?" Nate raised an eyebrow again, his voice betraying his interest. His own violin was still propped up against the window in the room behind him. "Do you play then?" Leaving a violin out of its case for any extended period of time whilst at sea was a cardinal sin. The many strings Nate had gone through to learn that lesson had long since been left behind.

"You can take any of the cabins on the deck below this, though I would suggest you take the one at the end. It used to belong to Pullings so I suppose it should be yours. It is larger than the others. Of course as first Lieutenant you will be in charge of the Gun Room mess. You can choose to supplement the food for yourself and the other officers out of your own pocket if you wish." Nate had many fond memories of the Gun Room, sneaking wine out with the other Midshipmen and taking it back to their much smaller rooms to enjoy illicitly. The bosun of that particular ship had not shown the same enthusiasm when he caught them.

With a smile Ren reached down into her bag and gently pulled out the case, setting it in her lap and opening the latches to reveal the instrument therein. Taking it out of the case, Ren gently plucked the strings, briefly holding out a C with her voice in surprisingly accurate pitch before quickly tuning the strings. They weren't as off key as she'd imagined, leading her to believe that maybe it's owner had been playing just prior to the attack. That it survived the cannon fire was a miracle in of itself.

Without a word she took the bow and stood, placing the violin's base to her chin and let out a calming breath before touching the bow to the strings. She drew it across the strings once to ensure they were tuned, and transitioned quickly into the second movement of Beethoven's second violin sonata, gracefully playing with a gentle smile on her face. Her fingers danced on the neck and her body gently swayed with the rhythm, and almost before she knew it she had played through to the end of the third movement to the piece's conclusion. Blinking in realization, she bowed her head slightly in apology.

"My parents insisted it as a part of my education, though now that I'm older I see the wisdom in it much more clearly. Some days I feel bad about waiting for tea to practice the accordion in the garden," Ren mused, though her eyes flashed in realization as well, "Does that mean you play as well, sir?"

Nate sat through the music, following its twists, turns and bends, threading the sound through his head. Though rough in places, due to the condition of the instrument and probably a little of that of the player, the melody was well done.

"I do indeed. It was a habit I picked up over long voyages. Trips to the East take a dreadful amount of time. We shall have to play together when we have a free moment." Nate gave one of his rare smiles and stood up, placing his hands behind his back and drawing himself up again.

"Very well. That will be all Lieutenant. Remember what I have said." Nate paused, then laced his voice with as much barely concealed threat as he could. "I can guarantee that there will not be a repeat of this conversation. Next time, things will be done the normal way. Am I understood?"

Ren was careful to place the violin in its case and latch it once again before standing straight and saluting.

"Aye sir. I'll strive not to need it repeated. I am thankful for the opportunity," Ren said, and paused briefly as she looked from the violin and back up to Nate. "In answer to your previous query, sir, that's what this ship means to me. It's an opportunity you've given me that no other Captain under the Crown would dare. I may have issue fitting in yet, but I am very grateful," Ren said confidently, placing the case back in her bag and saluting once more before turning for the door. Deep down in the back of her mind she half expected to be shot when she reached for the handle, but she let her guard down anyway. She couldn't be an officer of this crew without putting in trust and respect herself.

Except for Carrington.

It was a quick trip back to the main deck, the cool sea breeze caressing her face and gently nudging her hair back as the wind took hold of the sails. The ship creaked briefly from the shift of the weight, the kind of noise you felt with your feet more than with your ears, but Ren was no stranger to it. She stood there for a moment and felt the sea air soothingly touch her skin and listened the the waves as the yielded to the ship's hull, the cries of the gulls above and the bustle of the men as they went about their duties. If she hadn't sweated out all the moisture in her skin over the last twelve hours, she might have shed a tear.

The sight of the German bounty hunter caught Ren's eye once again, grinning and taking a step to go meet with her again, but stopped as her vision began to blur and pain shot through her stomach. Her moment's relaxation had brought her body's protests back to the forefront of her mind, and her the wound in her shoulder throbbed dully, but the pain was spreading down her arm at a slow but sinister pace. She'd have to send for Angelique before long and pray the girl hadn't gone through all the supplies Ren had scrounged up.

She took a second to clear her head before approaching Karena, raising a hand in greeting.

"Glad to see you and the crew haven't had reason to come to blows. Any opposition to finding Ms. Thuron and helping her set up in the Gun-room Mess? Turns out a bowl of stew doesn't stretch very far once the heat of battle cools in your blood," Ren said, grinning as she pointed a thumb over her shoulder. Whether Karena agreed or not, Ren fully intended to eat something within the hour or shoot the bastard that stopped her.