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Karena Schneider

She strikes fast and her assualts prove deadly

0 · 700 views · located in The Seven Seas

a character in “Making Waves”, as played by VincentRayne

Description

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Karena Schneider
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Master Gunner/bodyguard
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Image

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Personal Information
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Full Name
Karena Schneider

Description
5'. Her most defining feature are her pigtails. Most of the time she wears clothes befitting
a boy so she does not attract unwanted attention. She has a petite figure and when in
expected combat she is ways seen wearing her battle uniform. She never leaves without a pistol.

Age:
16

Gender:
Female

Race:
Human

Occupation
Mercenary known as Giftschlange/Venom/Serpent

Sexual Orientation:
Heterosexual

Birthplace:
Germany

Marking|Tattoos|Piercings:
Only slight scars from years of fighting




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Height:
5'

Weight
100 lb.
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Physical Condition:
Her muscles don't show much due to her petite figure but what she lacks in
physical strength she makes up for in speed, easily.

Former Residence
Royal Navy Academy in England

Family/Relatives:
All immediately family except older sister deceased.
Father: Nicolai Schneider
Mother: Lara Schneider
Sister: Hilde Schneider

Friends/Comrades:
Cpt. Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars

Enemies
The captain's enemies are Karena's enemies.

Rivals
TBA

Disabilities:
Her loyalty and being protective of the captain is sometimes dangerous for
others. If she even feels that he is in any danger she will act on it. This
can often lead to innocent people getting hurt if they aren't careful how
they approach the Captain.



Image



Personality:
Karena's world is often only seen as black and white. There are no grey areas. This
way of thinking makes all the choices she must make much easier and without
hesitation. When on the ship with the familiar crew, Karena seems to act at ease
and can be pleasant to be around. She very friendly and also mature for her age.
When she steps onto land and into a city her attitude changes completely. She
becomes silent, cold, and calculating. She does everything in her power to assure
her Captain is safe as well as the crew she is with. Although, she is only a cabin-
girl she thinks of herself more as a bodyguard when she's not on the ship.

Likes:
Combat/fighting so far.

Dislikes:
The unknown.

Psychological Condition:
She seems normal but people worry at how itchy her trigger finger can be. She
also has a short temper.


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Equipment
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:Attire:
Image

:Weapon(s):
Windbüchse (Girandoni air rifle)
Side Arm
Bayonet/melee weapon

:Accessories/Misc:
Accouterments Bag

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Current History
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Karena Schneider was saved by Captain Nathanial when she decided to hunt for a bounty. She
got into a disagreement with some sailors and miscalculated their numbers. Since that day
Karena insist that her life is in his hands and offers her skills to work on his ship and protect
his life with hers.



Image
____________________
Past History
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Karena was always the sister that was into what her father liked. Her father, Nicolai,
was ex-military and loved telling her about his assignments and what he did.
She vowed that she would be like her father and join the military. To prep her Nicolai
taught her everything he knew. And even trained her in physical combat and took
her to shooting ranges. Karena's mother, Lara, didn't like the fact that her youngest
daughter was taking into the military lifestyle but knew that she couldn't change the
girl's mind. Never the less, Lara tried teaching her daughter the way of potions and elixirs,
since it ran in the female side of the family. Karena never took to it like her sister,
Hilde. Karena struggled with learning the fundamentals and only learned a little by the
time it was time for her to go to the Royal Navy Academy she yearned to go to.
It was during her stay at the military academy that the attack on her parents happened.
She didn't know if their deaths were because of her father's past or something more.
Right after the funeral of her parents Hilde disappeared and Karena fled for fear she would
be next. It was then that she used her skills taught by her father and the Academy
to become a mercenary. Two years passed with her only getting better at her profession
and becoming well known as Giftschlange in her homeland, Germany, and as Venom in
other places. The reason for her name was because of the weapon she used. She used
a Windbüchse rifle that could fire poison ammunition. Karena uses a toxin that's rare
and carries the antidote on her for interrogation purposes. But if her target is to be assassinated
then if the bullet doesn't kill them the poison would within a day's time.
Word went around of a nice bounty walking around at one of the coast towns.
And Karena couldn't help but take up mission to secure it.

©2011 Wolven[OC] (BBC Coding/Design) - Roleplay Gateway. All Rights Reserved

dat password here: escargot

So begins...

Karena Schneider's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Tal and Vincent's collab:

Karena stepped into the town resting on the coast and took a moment to relish in the familiar setting. It had been a while since she had been in a harbor city. Normally, she'd stay away but it had been two years. The girl doubted anyone would be after her anymore.
Right now, she was after someone else. A former pirate if the word going around was reliable. Pirates weren't exactly easy to take down like a business man or a woman that knew too much. They had fight in them.
But they all bleed and die the same when shot or stabbed. Karena thought. If the target was tough then they went down from a distance. That is if the mercenary didn't have time to figure out their day-to-day patterns. Killing someone with a gun was too loud and drew attention. If she could catch them while they were sleeping then things went much easier. They wouldn't even feel a thing.
This target was different than most of the others. There wasn't much to go off of. Word went around that there was a nice bounty on someone in The Lighthouse inn. It was different than the inn that Karena had stayed the day at. As the young girl stepped inside she immediately noticed how full the place was. Her eyes looked over the crowd of guest trying to pick out which ones were actually here for a meal or place to stay and which ones seemed to have a more malicious reason for dining.


A light splash of oars was the only sound emanating from the boat as it neared the harbour. The men on its benches sat in the growing darkness, their eyes fixed on the sun that was just slipping over the horizon. Nathaniel knelt at the prow, glaring towards his intended destination and gripping the hilt of his sword with white-knuckled ferocity. Quietly slipping around the few anchored ships, the boat glided up to the stone side of the harbour, Nathaniel immediately leaping out of the boat and onto the steps leading up to the town. With a gesture his men shipped oars and followed him up the steps with barely a sound.
Quickly heading off towards the shipyard Nathaniel hoped that the other boat had landed in time, and that he would have the support he needed to take what he could from the yard. Passing closed workshops and a few of the busier inns and brothels, he scowled, lengthening his stride.
The gates of the shipyard loomed ahead, as well as the couple of soldiers assigned to guard them. The soldiers stiffened as the group of sailors approached, snapping to attention at the sight of the officer's epaulets. "At ease men. Is the yard master around? My ship is coming in and badly in need of supplies."
The soldiers looked at each other. "I'm sorry sir", one of them said, "you just missed 'im. 'E's off for the night see?"


"Is he? Well that makes this easier." Quickly whipping out a pistol Nathaniel pulled the trigger and a blinding flash filled the gateway. The soldier still looked surprised as blood poured down his face and he slumped to the ground. The other had no time to react as the boatswain smacked him over the head with an awl-pike with a sickening crunch. "Right gentlemen, to business." Nathaniel pushed open the gates and his men rushed past to secure as much as they could of the badly needed supplies.



Karena took a seat, as not to gather more attention to herself than she already did. A waitress came by and she merely ordered a light drink. She wasn't going to drink it. She had herself to thank for that. With the many drinks she had poisoned before there was no way she would drink something unless poured by her own hand.
The girl merely sat and observed. She could feel eyes on her but not the kind that was just curious. Karena was used to those kinds of eyes. These eyes were the ones that stared at you when they wanted to rob or steal from you. There was a commotion with a group of sailors and one of the waitresses that distracted everyone's attention. Karena used this moment to excuse herself. She thought was clear of The Lighthouse when she heard the door open again and a voice call out from behind.


Overseeing the moving of spars, ropes, and equipment to an empty dock, Nathaniel gave the signal for a cannon to be fired. The sound of the gun echoed round the yard and the smoke rolled off the buildings. Satisfied, he turned to look back into the town. "We should be able to press some good sailors here, or at least some able lubbers." Scanning the closer buildings he noticed a small figure slip from the door of an inn, briefly silhouetted by the lights inside. Shrugging his shoulders Nathaniel decided to try the inn and see if any there would join his crew, setting off at a quick pace, his sword slapping his thigh as he walked.


"Aye!" Karena kept walking. "I'm talkin' to you, bitch!" She stopped and half turned around towards the man and three others. The light from the inn windows revealed the ugly smile he gave. "I thought you was a boy when ye first stepped in the Light'ouse. But my friends placed a bet on whether I was right. Seeing 'ow you turned at the mention of 'bitch' I'm guessin' I win the bet. But now somethin' else is botherin' me. What's a young'un like you doing dressed like dat and holdin' weapons fer?" Karena stayed silent. She hoped that they would just talk to let their egos out and then return to the inn. Then one of the other sailors chimed in.
"Oi bet she's 'ere for dat bounty too!" This seemed to be a punchline to a long winded joke because the four sailors burst out laughing and leaning on each other. Karena turned around and started walking again when the laughter suddenly stopped.
"Give me yer weapons." The first man called out again. This time Karena decided to ignore them when the similar sound of a weapon being cocked could be heard. "Oi don't like bein' ignored. And I also hate repeatin' meself." Kerana let out a sigh before turning and firing her sidearm at the man. The bullet smacked square in his chest and he reeled back and fell to the ground with shock on his face.
Karena expected the men to get the message at that point but then was surprised when the three others pulled out weapons of their own. One pistol and two daggers. They have fight in them too. Karena thought to herself as ducked for cover. She heard the gun go off and the bullet flew past her. The sailor cursed and brought out his dagger as well, after he threw away the spent pistol. The girl had the element of surprise at least once more as she dodged the thrust of the leading man's blade.
She brought out her own dagger and slit his throat in one swift motion just as the second sailor was closing in on her. He swung in a horizontal motion aiming for Karena's throat and she managed to parry the blade and scoop out the leg he had his weight on. The man dropped in a kneeling position and the girl slammed her dagger into his thigh and ripped the blade down to his knee. The sailor screamed before Karena pulled the blade out and stabbed him several times in the chest then finally delivering a kick to his jaw that left him sprawled out.
The last sailor hesitated just as the inn doors opened and several more of them spewed out to investigate the noise. It took them only a second to assess the situation. Immediately, weapons were drawn but the last sailor of the first four held out his hand.
"Put away your guns, boys. This lady just earned herself a nice and slow death. Take her alive." Karena took a step back. She wasn't expecting the reinforcements and kicked herself, mentally, for not thinking of it as a possibility. She should have shot the man with the gun and ran. Now she was heavily outnumbered.


The crack of the gunshot rattled in Nathaniel's ears as he stopped a few paces from the inn. The hanging sign that read 'The Lighthouse' swung in the breeze, and after the bang of a second shot, Nathaniel lent back against a wall to watch and wait for whatever was going on to end. He casually reloaded his own pistol as he waited, listening intently to the sounds of combat coming from just around the corner. This breeze was perfect to bring in the Acheron, and by now the sailing master should be leading her into the harbour as quietly as possible. Catching sight of a tall, black shape moving up from the sea, he allowed himself a quick smile. He might just pull it off. Clatters from the direction of the yard signified the last of the supplies being quickly moved to the dock.
Pouring the powder into the pan of his pistol, Nathaniel threw away the rest of the cartridge and closed the pan. Taking his arm out of the sling he pulled the lever back to half cock, holding the pistol upright and relaxing against the wall. He closed his eyes for a moment, listening to the sounds from around the corner as a new group of men burst from the door of the inn. Passing his pistol to his left hand, he drew his sword with the other, the gleaming steel shimmering as it was exposed to the light. Just cleaned the night before, the oiled metal seemed to hum and ripple, swishing as Nathaniel moved it through the air.
Taking a breath he stepped round the corner, immediately taking in the sight before him. Two dead, many standing, one opponent. Good odds. Barely hesitating Nathaniel pointed his pistol at the man nearest to him and fired, the bullet catching him in the back and throwing the man into one of the others. As the rest turned Nathaniel set about them with a roar, his blade flashing in his hand, the pistol turned over to be used as a club.
The sailors responded with a howl of indignation, recoiling from the demon in their midst before recovering their senses, swinging at him with their knives and cutlasses. Finding himself between two attackers, Nathaniel dropped to the floor, sweeping his sword low and feeling it connect with flesh. Rising quickly he rammed his fist into the stomach of the other, sending him sprawling to the floor. Turning to the erstwhile victim Nathaniel flashed a bloody grin, his blonde hair streaming over his face and spattered with blood.


Karena jumped at the sound of another gunshot. She thought for sure that it was one of the sailors ignoring the orders of the survivor and finishing her off quickly. But she saw one of the sailors fall into the other before, she thought, a demon joined the fight. The man let out a battle cry and the sailors almost immediately let out their own in retaliation. Then the fighting continued except now the sailors were confused as another unknown factor entered the fray. Karena took the opportunity and jumped on the back of one of the taller sailors that turned to see their new attacker. She sunk her dagger into his heart several times before jumping off and looking for her next target.
She noticed one of the men pulling out a pistol. Orders were out of the question at this point. It was a fight for survival. The man aimed it at the blonde haired man that was also fighting them off. Karena threw the dagger at him and impaled him through his side. Not what she was aiming for but the purpose of the action was at least to throw his aim off. He screamed in pain and looked at what struck him. By the time he realized what had hit him the girl was already by his side. She grabbed his firing arm as she kneed the dagger upwards.
He reflexively shot but not before Karena readjusted his aim to the chest of one of his crew mates. The mercenary kicked at the back of the man's knees making him lose balance. She then ripped the dagger from his side and swiftly plunged it into the man's chest as he fell to the ground.
Karena looked around for any other opponents but the only other one was a man that stood out from the others, wearing a Navy captain's uniform. She guessed he was the one that let out the roar to distract the sailors. She stared at him while catching her breath. If it not for him, Karena, would surely be experiencing some torture this very moment.
If a man saves your life then your life is no longer your. It now belongs as a state of servitude of that man. Karena remembered her father's words. Did that mean She now needed to serve this man as a slave? No. She would see if he was worthy of having her. Karena's self worth wasn't discarded just because someone saved her.
She stood up straight after, finally, catching her breath.
"Thank you. I'll remember you saving me whether intended or not. If fate permits then I shall repay you when our paths cross again." Karena stormed off. She hated being in the same place as a kill for too long. And it had been much longer than her usual time since she shot the first sailor. She needed to regroup. The bounty was now the last thing on her mind at the moment so she was in no state to claim the it. She would clean herself up, grab her rifle, and try again later.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson
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The coin purse in Ren's grip mocked her relentlessly. It was not her own, but belonged to a man who was foolish enough to walk around outside just after sundown, too busy enjoying the company of a young woman to have paid the vagabond that passed him by any mind. The knife had been drawn in a flash, a quick grab and one clean cut and the purse was freed from it's owner, but now all Ren could ponder was the shame of her actions. The shame she brought on to the uniform stashed in her bindle bag between her feet.

'But now I can eat...', she thought, letting out a sigh as she swallowed her pride. Honest work was hard to come by when no one knew who you were, and Ren dared not to stay in the same town more than a few weeks. Last time she settled for too long she had spied red coats roaming about, and she wasn't going to go to the gallows for dreaming. She'd worked too hard, been bled dry, and lost too much to die a beaten dog. Shame would have to just be a symptom of survival for now. It's not like she'd gone pirate just because she parted an idiot with his walking around money.

When the waitress came around, Ren ordered a hot meal and a room for the next two nights, placing four of the ten silver coins she had in the waitress's hand. The waitress nodded and started to walk off, but after a moment's thought Ren touched her arm to reclaim her attention, placing the rest of the silver coins in her hand.

"Keep the grog coming, as well. I'm tired of thinking," Ren added, and the waitress let out a laugh before walking off once again.

She would regret that decision if she couldn't get more work in three days time, but her words had been true enough. She'd drink herself into a stupor and let her worries catch back up to her when the cock crows again.

She looked down at her side and regarded the old sabre that sat propped against her leg. It wasn't her own, not being foolish enough to have an identifiable blade on her person while being on the run, but one she had bought from a drunk about five towns back. With the polish she'd given it, it might sell for a few pounds and keep her from starving...

Ren reached up and smacked her cheek, scolding herself for continuing to worry.

Ren flinched instinctively at the sound of gunfire outside, though it was hard to hear properly from inside the bustling inn. The walls were thick but Ren had heard the sound enough times to recognize it. She did happen to notice a bunch of men leave, more still after the first shot rang out, and the inn grew considerably quieter after a second shot thundered outside. Ren gripped her sabre's handle tightly as she eyed the door, content to let things be so long as they remained outside. She had no gun, nor did she want to die by running into someone's bullet, but a thought crossed her mind that made her curse her moral compass.

Weren't the first guys following after a kid?

Ren cursed under her breath as she stood and crossed the room, sabre in hand and eyes aflame as she threw the door open, eyes scanning the horizon for anyone taking aim with a flintlock or, God forbid, a blunderbuss. All she found instead were about five or six dead men, and one bloodied man in a navy coat. No sign of a kid, living or dead, but that didn't loosen Ren's grip on her sabre.

"I just ordered drinks so I'd appreciate it if you kept the killing out here," Ren said, sweating a little as her smart mouth spoke of its own accord. She'd consider the fight in her favor, given the man only had one good arm, but that apparently hadn't meant jack-all for the dead lying about.

"...What happened to the kid that came out here?" She asked, hoping that the man both had a sense of humor, or at least didn't have a loaded pistol ready to reply with.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Karena finished washing herself after taking an indirect way to get into her room. It wouldn’t do very well to stroll through the lobby bloodsoaked. She changed into her another outfit and sighed. The clothes she wore now didn’t hide the fact that she was a girl but were still easy to move around in.

Karena still was sour about what happened in front of the other inn. Stupid, drunk, sailors putting on an act in front of their friends. Good riddance to bad rubbish. She thought. And then the girl allowed herself to get caught off guard by getting involved in the stupid fight. Fighting out in the open and in a drawn out battle as well.

The mercenary grabbed her rifle she placed under her bed. She checked it over before reloading her sidearm. She didn’t know how many people knew what she looked like or saw her. She hoped it wasn’t many. And Karena also hoped she wouldn’t draw so much attention again.

Then there was the Navy officer that helped her. Karena wondered if the man was still around. More importantly why he was there to begin with. For a Navy officer to attack other sailors was baffling. It was unexpected and much needed help. But at the same time Karena felt uncomfortable just leaving like she did. She didn’t even get the man’s name. Not like I need to. What’s the point if I’ll probably never see him again? Karena just came to the town in the first place for the bounty. If it wasn’t taken already then she would try to claim it for her own and then after the reward she’d be on her way. Probably never to see the man again.

Karena shook her head. Every minute she pondered on the past events were minutes wasted that could be used to pursue her bounty. The girl holstered her sidearm, slung her rifle over her shoulder, sheathed her dagger, and set out once again. As she approached the inn she noticed that the bodies were still strewn about. She was surprised no one had arrived or decided to take care of the mess. It obviously would steer away any potential customers for good. Surprisingly, Karena could still hear the business of the inn going on when a man exited. He passed the girl without so much as a glance. When the mercenary came to the door she placed a hand on the door to let herself in but paused. Everything that could go wrong rushed through her head. She could be recognized and immediately kicked out.

As these thoughts raced through her mind she noticed a woman at the window, looking out. Karena hoped the the lady didn’t see her moment of hesitation and merely nodded before, finally, letting herself in. To her surprise everyone was acting as nothing had happened outside. Were they used to that kind of violence happening. Was it common? Then Karena saw the man that saved her. He was surrounded by a few other people as well as a line leading to him and many people were eyeing him, in the bar but it was with mixed emotions. Some people looked at the man with a glare with others looking at him with curious glances. Karena eyed the paper the gentleman had in front of him. It seemed like he was either recruiting or selling something.

Karena took a seat and just observed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Karena was surprised when the man that had saved her suddenly left the inn. But he left the people he sat with so she guessed he would be back. Maybe running an errand. The girl had to shake the thought from her head. The captain wasn’t why Karena was here. She was here for the bounty. But seeing that the target was surrounded by witnesses all the mercenary could do was watch the events of the bar go by. She was patient. She had to be as an assassin.

Karena watched as the girl left in charge turned most people in line away. For the most part Karena agreed with the girl’s judgement. The sense of adventure out on the open sea clouding their right mind. Ignoring or forgetting all the tales of pirating that others often relayed to scare each other at storytelling.

Unfortunately, there was one boy who must have been spoiled rotten because he didn’t accept rejection well. He was stubborn on the idea or joining. It looked as if the girl was going to just beat the definition of the word “no” into the boy but the captain burst through the doors saying that he was leaving. He also mentioned that anyone left that wanted to join come with him. The girl left with the captain but not before pinning the boy, by his shirt, to a table with a dagger. Karena smirked at the action and felt no sympathy as the boy tugged, futilely, at the knife.

Most of the inn seemed to clear out. Either to follow the captain or because their source of entertainment was gone for the night and it was getting late. Karena’s target freed the boy and, after giving a brief lecture, he rushed out of the tavern. Soon after the smell of smoke made the mercenary look out a window to see the village set ablaze just as a woman in shambles burst through the door and drama ensued. Karena raised an eyebrow. Was this related to the captain? Or was this part of an effort to attain the bounty?

Karena took her leave of the inn and and decided to wait. It seemed like the serpent was going to be leaving soon and Karena would take her out when she got a clear shot. If the other woman stayed with the dead instead of running then Karena would kill her as well.

In a little while Karena’s target and the other woman dashed out of the Lighthouse. They conversed a bit longer and then noticed that the inn was catching fire as well. The assassin had moved to another position to avoid being revealed by the new source of light the fire was creating. Cannon fire could be heard earlier and Karena figured that the village was done for. It didn’t seem to have any type of guard protecting it. And if it did, the fact none of them could be seen nor heard at this point, they were probably dead. A man yelling shook Karena from her thoughts.

“There they are!” They must be men after Karena’s target as well. Immediately, the two women sprinted for the harbor. The mercenary felt a small pang of annoyance. If she wanted to claim the bounty should would have to take out this new group of people. And then if she managed that then she’d have to catch up with the duo before the escaped onto a ship or got too far on a boat.

"Come on, Auntie, you've got to pick up the pace!" Angelique called back to her aunt. The older Thuron was lagging behind and breathing a bit heavily.

"Just keep ahead of me," Jacqueline shouted forward to her niece. "I'll take care of these buffoons. You warn the Acheron that they'll be expecting a few more passengers!"

"But Aunt-"

"Go!" Jacqueline yelled, drawing her saber and standing her ground. The ship wasn't too far from there; in fact, it could easily be seen despite the darkness of the night. She could hold them off long enough for Angelique to make it aboard, and make her retreat after her niece was safe, if possible.

Angelique faltered, but ran off to the Acheron when she saw the men catching up with them. "Give them hell Auntie!"she cried back as her aunt took a battle stance.

"Prepare to dine with Davy Jones tonight, gentlemen!" Jacqueline shouted as the first of the men rushed forth. "You'll find yourself writhing betwixt the Serpent's Teeth soon enough!"

One. Two. Four. Seven. Karena counted the number of pursuers and gauged the situation as she followed after them. Should she let the men do all the work in capturing Jacqueline? Then Karena would ambush them and take her. It sounded like the path of least resistance. Especially, if the former pirate managed to take out some of the men in the process of being captured.

More shouting and Karena looked to see the other girl running towards the ship. Getting help or running to safety? The first possibility would be the best but it was also unlikely. Especially, after the mercenary saw the captain rounding up a new crew. If the girl was going to get help then there wasn't much time. Karena had to make this quick.

Jacqueline had turned to stand her ground. Possibly to buy time or because she thought she could take out her pursuers all at once. As much as Karena would have liked to stay in the shadows and spectate, in order to get an estimate on her targets fighting ability, time did not permit that option. As the first men were reaching the woman, Karena decided to take down the ones furthest back.

She unsheathed her dagger and quick made her way towards the man closest to her. They ran in no formation so whoever was the furthest back was just the slowest. As long as the man in front of him didn't possess good peripheral vision then he wouldn't notice his comrade suddenly being yanked back and silenced. Karena easily caught up with the men and took down two before the rest of the stragglers noticed. Now their group was divided into two. Three men to face Jacqueline and two for Karena.

"Who the hell are-" Before the man could asked him a throwing knife sunk into his chest. The other man pulled his pistol in reaction to his comrade falling and failed to notice Karena had already unslung her rifle and took aim. Before the pistol was raised to firing position a hard force struck him in the head. The force of the shot jerked the man backwards and lose grip of his pistol. Karena rushed to grab the weapon in mid air and then pointed it towards her real target.

Jacqueline saw two men crumple as she skewered a third. Perhaps fortune really had smiled on her today. She kicked the still standing body into another man as she clashed swords with a third. The third seemed to actually be a decent swordsman; it took a few clings of the sword before an opening arose. She neatly slashed into the man's neck before the second man recovered.

"You bitch!" Number two snarled before coming at her with his fists flying. Jacqueline lunged with her sword, and the man ran right into it, just as a shot rang out.

"Never could get decent ruffians," Jacqueline called out to her unknown assistance. "Suppose that's why they're called ruffians and not-" Jacqueline froze as the last man fell. She could now easily make out her 'help'. It had been some time since she'd faced the barrel of a gun, and Thuron definitely didn't like it. She needed to keep a cool head in this, or she'd easily lose her head.

"Come now, if it's the warrent you're after, you'll make much more if they hang me," Jacqueline told Karena, left hand in the air, right still outstretched with the bloody saber. "If you're here for revenge, well, I suppose naught but my death would be satisfactory." Not that she particularly wanted to die, but she would rather die to atone than die to appease some fat bastard and his navy.

Damn, but she had much to atone for.
-
Angelique ran as fast as her fair legs could carry her, faster than she had ran merely half an hour ago, faster than she'd ever ran. Her bright blue eyes sparked with fear; not for herself, but her dear aunt. She knew her aunt could take out seven men, but that lighter pair of footsteps didn't bode well. "Acheron, Acheron- There!" Angelique saw the gangplank that led up to the Acheron, with a few sailors still making their way aboard. She clamored up the plank, pushed past the men, and nearly collapsed at the top. Angelique hung on to the railing for support as she relayed her request, appealing primarily to the thin woman by the captain's side.

"Jacqueline and me need passage, and we're more than happy to pull our weight," the girl gasped, her chest heaving. "Though if I can't get some help she'll get taken by the Navy or someone and hang and I'm not losing her too so please please please-" She coughed violently before gesturing not far from the ship.
-
"I don't plan to kill you." Karena Replied. "At least not unless you give me reason to." It was convienent that Jacqueline knew about her own reward. If she would have put up any type of resistance Karena would have fired. And it would prove a challenge to carry away a body larger than her own before that girl returned with reinforcements, if she went for help, came to Jacqueline's aid. Not to mention that if there were others looking for her then that would slow Karena down in dealing with them. Either way, having Jacqueline alive offered more reward and faster travel than a corpse.

"Drop the saber and turn around slowly. And keep your hands where I can see them. Try anything stupid and put a hole in your head." Karena grabbed the rope she carried and walked up to bind the woman's hands.

Jacqueline obliged, though she set the saber down rather than drop it. "Very well. Mind the saber; I'd rather not part with it any time soon." She kept a calm facade, but inside she was broiling. The girl stepped up to bind her hands. Jacqueline balled both her fists and brought them up hard into the girl's chin. She manoeuvred the girl into a choke hold and forced her dominant hand behind her back.

"Bounty hunters," Thuron spat. "As much as I want to rid the world of another, I'm due on the Acheron. God that's painful to say," she added. "You'll be joining me. Doubtless you'll enjoy it. I've no energy to deal with you, so I'll turn you over to that damn captain."

Karena was mentally kicking herself. She took her eyes off of Jacqueline for one second to look at the damned saber the woman had laid down. That one second and Karena was now in a bad position. And then Thuron said something about the girl having to join her in boarding the ship. Did she already work under the captain? If so then that was territory, Karena didn't want to step in. Dealing with a full group of pirates was voluntary suicide. If you planned to kill one then by default you better have a plan to kill them all. Pirates were like family to each other. Normally. There are few cases where they go by "every man for themself" but it was too much to hope for their type in every pirate crew Karena came across or saw.

At the moment this woman was to deal with and Karena did not want to be a young girl on board a pirate ship. Pirates were made up of ruthless and disgusting people. There was no telling what they'd do to Karena.

"I'm only doing this to feed my family." Karena made her voice higher pitched with a tint of desperation. The "desperate girl" act worked pretty much all the time unless the people she used it on were heartless. Which if that was the case then Karena saved her breath. She hoped this Thuron wasn't a heartless woman considering she was protecting someone else.

"You can't put me on that ship! They'll surely kill me or worse. Then my siblings would either starve or die from intense labor. Life for children without parents is nothing but an uphill battle and being a bounty hunter gives the most money for what I'm capable. If I would have known you were a pirate I wouldn't have gone after you." That last part, at least, was true.

"Former pirate, thank you," Jacqueline glared at the girl. "Believe me, I'm not thrilled about it either." Memories flooded up at the mention of siblings, memories of leaving for the first time, her brother sound asleep in his bed, their father passed out drunk again in his, the smell of the sea and the tears...

Jacqueline grit her teeth. She really had gone soft.

"Look," she said, keeping her hold on the girl tight, "If you really do have family, then I'll be more than happy to send them a sum, but I've already been sold out once today, and I'm not letting that happen again." As much as it pained her to get on a ship again, she’d do anything to protect Angelique. She owed Maximo that much. She owed him far more than that, but...

"You won't come into any harm on the ship as long as I'm aboard, so long as you drop your pursuit of my bounty," Jacqueline told the girl. "Can't stand bounty hunters, but I do understand the desperation that comes with taking such a job. I can't fault you for that. Now, unless you want knocked out, I suggest we make our leave." More men would surely be coming soon, and every minute was precious.

"Do you still plan on me boarding the ship after the mention of my siblings?" Karena asked. During their chat Karena was preparing herself to get out of the situation. She grabbed onto the arm that was choking her, sunk forward, swung her leg to link her calf around Jacqueline's calf, and made a shard one hundred and eighty degree turn. Karena swung Thuron across her body and gave her a quick knee to the stomach before kicking the woman away.

Karena quick went for the pistol she dropped and aimed it at her target again. "I told you if you did anything stupid you were dead. Not following my instructions was dumb. Not killing me was stupid."

Jacqueline wheezed and spat on the ground next to her as the girl pointed her gun at her. She gave a hearty but rueful laugh. "Oh, Bertie, I have gone soft," she chuckled. "Before you shoot me, let me tell you a bit of advice, girl: Always have a backup plan. Or, consequently, never be afraid to die." Was she stalling? Yes. Was she going to berate herself later for using such a cheap trick? Yes.

Had she a greater sin than prattling on to save her skin? Definitely.

As she stalled, the crack of gunfire banged through the air. A few bullets whizzed past Jacqueline, though the girl hadn't fired yet. She took the opportunity to duck and grab her saber.

"There they are, men! Arrest the Thurons!" There were at least another ten men, these ones in uniform, not more than 100 meters away. Naturally, Jacqueline took the safe course of action and bailed for the Acheron, doing her best to weave enough to throw off gunfire. She could barely see her niece's bright blonde hair gleaming in the moonlight.

God, was she going to get a stitch in her side later. Jacqueline didn't know how Angelique did it.

Karena noticed the group of men charging in their direction and noticed Jacqueline bolted for the ship. Karena thought about shooting the woman as she fled but then she'd have to deal with the men coming. And there was also the fact these men were uniformed. It was already suicide to try and pick a fight with a pirate that was part of a crew. To pick a fight with the Navy or any military branch was just mad. The girl was pretty sure if she was captured her crimes for murdering many sailors would see her hanged since she was carrying two of the murder weapons on her person. The choice was obvious at what to do.

Karena grabbed her rifle from the ground and quickly followed after Jacqueline. The men were already firing. The distance to the ship suddenly seemed to grow immensely. She was an easy target as she ran for the Acheron.

She managed to quickly get to boat and was about to celebrate when something hard smacked her in the back of her left shoulder. Karena put a hand to see if the object did any damage and it came away with blood. Then it dawned on her. She had been shot. One of the many stray bullets found their mark. The shock and sudden burst of pain instantly made the girl's leg strength give way as she fell to the floor of the ship deck. Karena's vision blurred for a second before everything went black and her consciousness slipped away.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Nathaniel paced the holy side, the captain’s side, of the quarterdeck, his hands clasped behind his back and his heartbeat speeding up with the ever larger amount of adrenaline coursing through it. His eyes were constantly on the move, flicking from place to place as he feverishly watched the activity both onboard and off the Acheron. The last of the new crew were coming aboard and Nate noted with satisfaction that they immediately got to work rather than hung about like lubbers. There was a slight hesitation in their movements, but that would go as they settled amongst the crew. Nate’s eye was drawn to a flicker of movement on the deck. A boy, no older than seventeen. Damn. One or two always made it on with dreams of riches and glory. Nate sighed. Powder monkeys he had plenty of, but they always seemed to die easy.

A shout at the gangplank drew Nate’s attention, his eyes casting their icy glare over the two who caused the commotion. The new lieutenant, and the sailing master. Damn it all he needed was those two getting at loggerheads when he was trying to get the Acheron to safety. From what he saw it seemed like Carrington had been doing his usual, overriding the orders of a superior. Nate resolved to have words with him about it, especially around the new first lieutenant, barely onboard for more than an hour. The order had been presumptuous, granted, but Carrington would need to learn his place with the new officer.

“Perhaps I’ve given him too much freedom,” Nate thought. It had been a long time since the old first lieutenant had been killed, and he had never been replaced, the eccentric sailing master filling the gap but refusing the rank. Nathaniel let out another sigh. Carrington had been with him a long time, longer than anyone else on the ship. He couldn’t afford to muddy the waters. Bridges would have to be built.

Nate had dropped Ren in at the deep end and he knew it. Watching her with narrowed eyes he judged her every move, as well as how she dealt with Carrington. He knew the difficulties new officers faced, especially with long established crew, and Ren had an even more difficult job. To the crew of the Acheron she was an oddity, and a thin, malnourished oddity at that. They were more likely to laugh themselves to death than follow her orders at the moment, but it was how she dealt with the problem that Nate was interested in. If she managed, he had found himself a damn good officer. If not, well, a bullet in the brain would be the least of her concerns.

“Captain! I’ve set the new recruits to the stations where hands seemed lacking, but preparation seem to be going at a brisk pace.” The new first lieutenant looked nervous. Nate could understand that, but appearances must be kept up. He scowled, and focused on controlling the building urge to kill something that was building with the adrenaline. “Any specific orders of should I join the men with the grunt work?” The question was unnecessary, if Nate had any orders he would have given them, and it betrayed her insecurity. Nate was not in the mood to be sympathetic. He glowered at Ren a moment longer before turning away to kick open a weapons locker he always had on his side of the quarterdeck. Picking out two pistols he flipped one and handed it to Ren, pushing the other into his belt so that he now carried two.

Glaring down onto the deck Nathaniel was suddenly blinded by the flash of a cannon. The roar resounded in his ears and the cannon threw itself back against its traces as it belched fire and smoke into the night. The heavy shot whistled through the air, but from where he was Nate could not see it land. “God damn your eyes who ordered you to fire?!?” Nate yelled down at the crew, where he saw the conspicuous figure of Carrington. Any other man would be dead already but Nate settled with trying to set Carrington on fire with his eyes and making a mental note to make life miserable for him for the next three days.

“Miss Thompson!” Nathaniel shouted above the sounds of the crew dashing to get as much done as possible before they ran out of time. “Get men up into the tops with muskets. I want a cask of grenades brought up from the magazine as well.” Anyone trying to board the Acheron would now have to face snipers from their elevated position. The fighting platforms in the tops were perfect places for musketmen.

“Sir, I do hope Mr. Dogood and the boys will be returning, the fodder is closing in, and I am certain the Navy is right on their tails! Ya ‘ave a ‘eading for us Captain?” The slap of boots and the whap of a salute had betrayed Carrington’s presence, and Nate turned to face him slowly. If he had been a midshipman, and not a captain, he would have punched Carrington in the stomach. Now that wouldn’t mean they weren’t friends, but good friends can straighten each other out time to time.

“I assume that’s what you were firing at then Mr. Carrington?” Nate raised an eyebrow, barely disguising his annoyance with his tone. But Carrington was right. They were out of time. “Fill the hammock netting and beat to quarters.” The climax of the evening was coming, Nate could feel it. He could barely contain his excitement as the drummer boy sounded the beat to quarters. All the great guns would be loaded in less than a minute, and they would give this town a night to remember for all time.

“Prepare to cast off!” Nate called, placing his hands on the taffrail. As he did so he spied a group of figures running through the night, silhouetted by fire. He lost sight of them in the smoke but when they re-appeared there were only three, two fighting and a third running straight for the Acheron. “Cast off now! Loose gallants and mains!” Nathaniel wanted away from the side of the harbor. Right now.

A group of men burst from one of the storehouses and sprinted to the dock, where they leapt onto the Acheron. Nathaniel recognized them as Dogood and his men. They carried as much loot as their broad arms could carry, and Dogood himself was carrying a crate of wine bottles. They grinned at each other as they disappeared below-decks, Dogood heading to Nathaniel’s cabin. Right behind them though another figure leapt onto the ship. The girl.

Nathaniel’s eyes widened in anger. “Get that girl off my ship!” He stabbed a finger at her, drawing his sword with the other. “Throw her off!” He ignored her plaintive cries about being chased, his fury deafening him as he stalked down the steps from the quarterdeck. The whip of bullets past his face brought him back to some sort of sense, revealing the other two people now on the Acheron. One was unconscious, the other was the owner of the tavern. Almost flying across the deck Nathaniel came to a stand-still in front of them, glaring the woman down till the bullets became annoying.

“Cannister. Those Bastards. Now!” Nathaniel yelled, jabbing his drawn sword in the direction of Jaqueline and Karena’s pursuers. “And you!” He swung the sword around to point at Jaqueline. “Get the hell off my ship before you leave in pieces.” All semblance of stoicism was gone. Nathaniel’s blood was up, and he was furious beyond measure.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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"Well you 'eard the Lieutenant, get us ready to sail! ...And leave the plank where it is, Mr. Dogood and the others 'ave yet to return. We'll give them.... Five minutes!"

In a maneuver almost reminiscent of her new captain, Ren's head swiveled around to glare at the man that had belayed her order. Her hand found itself on her sabre, but the fact that the man had corrected her with knowledge she did not have was all that kept her from drawing it. She had hoped that the pirates that were razing the town were not still within, if the goal was to distract the navy. She had given the pirates a mite too much credit in their efficiency... Not all of them were as disciplined as Nate seemed to be.

The man that belayed her order was Mr. Carrington, she presumed, and based on the movements of the veterans his word carried a lot of weight. Knocking his block off with her scabbard at the moment would only agitate the already agitated crew, but she got the distinct feeling in her gut that this situation would present itself again, and actions would have to be taken. For now, she let it go, and returned her attention back to the captain, anger still seething in her eyes. She could see the same in her captain's, but she was unsure of what the cause might be save for the stress of shoving off before the Navy caught wind of the Acheron's presence. He was studying her though, of that she was certain, and she recognized that an inability to fulfill her duties would not be met with a thanks of service and a hearty farewell at the next port. She also hoped her judgement wouldn't be based solely on her first day... Nate was intelligent and probably recognized the uphill battle she was in for. He also would have turned her away if he didn't think her capable.

The grizzled old salt turned and gave a swift kick to a weapons locker, drawing two pistols. He pocketed the one, but skillfully flipped the other as to offer her the handle. He gave her no new orders, which meant she was doing precisely what he wanted, if clumsily. She accepted the flintlock, thanking the stars to have a loaded gun at her side once more. She regretted selling her old one, but still kept powder, paper, and rounds on her person in the event she ever needed to... appropriate one, on her travels. She was only good for three shots, but she'd make a trip to the weapons locker after they were on open seas to stock up proper.

"Much obliged, Captain," Ren said in thanks, but her body briefly stiffened as the thunder of a cannon cut through the bustle of the decks. Nate's expression soured on the spot, with both Ren and himself now glaring at the source of the insubordination. Carrington again. She was definitely destined to kick that man's ass into a Kraken's gaping maw.
She could smell it clear as the gunpowder he'd just wasted.

“God damn your eyes who ordered you to fire?!?”

The Captain was on his man in an instant, though Ren cast her gaze off to the side, where several of the new hands stood idle, watching the commotion.

"You four! Get to moving or I'll acquaint you with the cannons myself! You're pirates now, and you'll hang just as quick as the Captain if we don't get this ship out of port!"

The four nearly tripped over themselves to get back to work, but Ren eyed two or three more beyond them who regarded her with a sour look. She held her ground, glaring back with eyes ablaze until they begrudgingly returned to their stations. Another situation she'd have to address sooner or later, it seemed.

“Miss Thompson!” Nathaniel shouted above the sounds of the crew dashing to get as much done as possible before they ran out of time. “Get men up into the tops with muskets. I want a cask of grenades brought up from the magazine as well.”

Ren saluted and gave a quick, "Aye" before heading off towards the main deck. She instantly spied a large group of men preparing rifles near the way leading to the magazine, expecting to meet Navy men up close before they disembarked.

"You lot! I need your best shots up on the tops with those muskets, on the double," Ren called, but the men simply spat on the wood at her feet and glared at her. One, a senior out of the lot she assumed, stepped forward and jabbed the barrel of his musket to her forehead.

"You seem lost, friend. Captain prefers his whores to wait in his quarters, not scurrying about the deck like she's something," He said coldly, thumb poised over hammerlock of his gun. He'd regret not shooting her.

In a flash, Ren had a grip on the barrel of the musket and both yanked it away from her face, and very violently shoved it back at the man who held it, bringing the stock crashing back into his nose. The man fell to one knee, and Ren still held his rifle, which she swiftly flipped so that she now held it to his forehead, holding the pose as she glared at his friends who had started to circle her.

"You will address me as First Lieutenant Thompson or Miss Thompson, just as Captain Sellars has. You want to piss and moan about who the Captain has brought on as officers, you take it to him, but I can promise you he'll be much angrier at your questioning him than I am," Ren barked, her voice filled with the pent up rage she'd acquired from Carrington's belaying her orders before.

Blood dripped onto the deck from the man's broken nose, but he looked up at her, eyes still full of hate but nodded.

"Say my name," She said calmly, noting the man's hands as they curled tightly into fists.

"Aye, Miss Thompson," He said plainly, and Ren glared about at the rest of the men, rifle still aimed at the man on his knees.

"Well?! I said to the tops with the lot of ya! This isn't a play recital, ya bilge rats!" she shouted, watching as the men looked from one another, then back to her. They still glared, still didn't respect her, but they moved to the tops. It was good enough for now. The man she'd brought to heel stood now as well, but Ren put the barrel of his gun to the back of his head when he started to walk off.

"You, go down to the magazine and bring up a cask of grenades. Report back to me when you do, and you'll get your gun back," She said coldly, the rage evident in his voice as he saluted and ran off. She smiled on the inside at the sight, but dared not do so on the outside just yet. She needed to be a fierce warrior right now, not a giddy schoolgirl.

She continued surveying the deck, keeping the men on task as they prepared to sail, stealing a glance to the gangway every now and then so she would know when the away party returned, as well as remembering Carrington's belay so that she could keep the fire in her gut nice and stoked. She was going to need it. The sight of her dealing with the riflemen had apparently been seen by more than a few, as most of the men did as she said, and those that hesitated in their indignation glared at her, but regarded the rifle propped on her right shoulder as she paced before continuing their work. The feeling would not last, but she'd rather deal with it when the Navy wasn't at their heels.

When the man whose rifle she was holding returned with the barrel of grenades and a friend to help him carry the weight of the open cask, Ren pointed them over to the edge of the main deck, nearby where Nate was surveying the ship but not on his deck proper. The seadog's glare never faltered as he moved, walking the barrel over to where she had pointed. As soon as the cask was sat down, Ren held out the rifle, but pointed back over to where she had first struck him with it before.

"I expect every drop of blood scrubbed off the Captain's deck by the time we're on open seas. Understood?" Ren ordered, voice stern and her grip on the rifle like iron as the pirate attempted to take it without accepting the orders. The strength of her arm surprised him, and he looked from her, to Nate, and back to her with a scowl on his face.

"Aye, mam,"

Ren smirked and released the rifle. "Good lad, now to the tops with you. I said best shots and I meant it," She said, a confused look spreading on the pirate's face before he saluted and ran off. Ren looked back to her captain, hoping this made up for the gangway incident. She took her sabre and jammed it into the cask's lid, one good shove popping the top to reveal the incendiary munitions within. The fact that there were actually grenades inside surprised her slightly, half expecting flour so as to make her look foolish. It was why she made sure Nate saw who'd gotten the cask to begin with.

She turned and saluted, but turned to look back at the rest of the ship. Nate would give her orders if he wanted her to have them, and she needed to build a report with the men.

"Extra hands to the tow line! Move it lads, we're not looking to buy property here!" She barked, though a commotion near the gangway caught her eye. It was a girl, one from the Lighthouse if she recalled, looking nearly scared to death as she pleaded for refuge, followed a few moments later by the Proprietress and a limp form, their pursuers firing at the ship now. Ren couldn't hold back a grin as a few of the snipers picked off some of the navy, but she ran forward to deal with the stowaways.

She made it a point to crouch before Angelique, Ren using her body to block any of the men on the ship that might open fire, though her own face was stern.

"Any navy that followed you are probably more concerned with the ship than you, now. If you leave and make a run for it, there's a good chance you'll survive," Ren said as gently as she could manage, looking over at Jacqueline as well. The woman had fed her... she hated to turn her away in her hour of need. With Nate blowing his stack at the sight of them, however, they were probably in more danger on deck than they were on the docks.

"I know this is no way to repay a debt, but my hands are tied, mam" Ren said as she stood, hand on her sabre as her face hardened. Disobeying the captain now would end her own life, and no stew was worth dying over... though Jacqueline's had come damn close. Ren started to draw her sword, but a sharp pain hit her shoulder, the force of the musket round causing her to do a full spin before she fell to the deck. Her hand was instantly to her the place where her bicep met her shoulder, gripping it tight to put pressure on the wound, and sat up, though dared not stand again with the bullets flying.

Ren could hear the ringing of bells in the distance, the navy trying to alert their ships nearby of the battle going on. If they stayed any longer, the ship would be filled with holes before they left port.

"Captain, the navy is signaling their ships. If we don't sail now we won't make it out of harbor, sir" Ren said, sincing from the pain as she attempted to stand, her hand covering her wound now red with blood. She looked to Nate, pistol drawn in her free hand, ready to follow his orders. She made her choice when she signed that manifest, and debt or no, she intended to sail again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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Furious beyond any possible measure, Nathaniel stood, his sword pointed at the two would-be stowaways. So angry he could barely think he was brought out of the red mist by the shattering explosion of one of the deck guns. The canister shot he had ordered swept out over the dock like deadly hailstones, lead musket balls fired like a shotgun at close range. The guards who had been firing at the Acheron disappeared in a haze of red mist and gun smoke, the canister shot rattling off the walls of buildings and shattering glass. For a few moments all that could be heard was the terrible echo of the cannon and the pounding feet of the Acheron’s crew, then the few plaintive moans and screams reached Nate’s ears. They whetted his appetite for destruction a little. Seeing the effects of canister and grape always had a cooling effect on his anger, he didn’t know why. Maybe the destruction was just too complete to be happy about. Regardless, it got the job done.

The acrid smell of gunpowder filling his nostrils, Nate lowered his sword to his side and took in the scene before him. Two lay on the floor, one of the stowaways dealing with them, Carrington stood beside him, and the inn’s proprietress stood opposite, glowering in his general direction.

“If we don’t sail now we won’t make it out of the harbour sir.” Nate heard his new first lieutenant say from the deck. He glared at her as she struggled to her feet. Ren had her arm tourniqueted, and a blonde girl was examining the wound. Ten minutes on the ship and she was already seemingly out of action. A sneer crossed his face before he could control himself. He had been wounded many times before, and often a lot more seriously, but he never left his feet if he could help it. In addition to having being laid bleeding on the deck she was plying him by stating the obvious. Nate hated many things, but being treated as if he was blind really riled him up.

“Ye know I’d never countermand an order, captain, but there’s sails coming with the dawn. ‘Tis now or never. I can always shoot them later, or we can maroon them.” Nate’s scowl deepened. In addition to everything else that was going on, Carrington had decided today was the day he would be as difficult as humanly possible.

“Damn the man. If only he could do what he was told ALL the time,” Nathaniel thought as he shot another fire filled glare at his old friend. However, the expression on Carrington’s face touched a nerve. He was right. There was no time. They’d been through a lot together and it wasn’t often Carrington spoke against him without a reason. Over time Nate had learned to trust his friend’s judgement of people.

“Mr. Carrington, God damn you! Take those three,” Nate pointed to Jaqueline, Karena and Angelique, “down into the hold. I want them below the waterline and out of my sight!” Now Nate turned to Ren again. “And you Miss Thompson, you will be stood at your post or you will be dead. Decide now!” The anger had worked its way back to boiling point and he was in no mood to be lenient, especially after allowing Carrington his way. The fact that she was back on her feet after being shot didn't penetrate his fogged mind, his only concern now being for the coming action.

Turning around Nathaniel strode back to the quarterdeck, pulling out a long spyglass and training it on the distant horizon at the entrance to the harbour. Sure enough there were sails there. Sails that were in the pattern of the Royal Navy. Nate quickly scanned the masts. Two ships. Damn this would be close. He snapped the spyglass shut and leant over the rail, shouting down to the gundeck. “All hands make sail now! Loose Mains and gallants! Get up and reef the topsail!”

The sails dropped from the yards and masts like huge white clouds, and suddenly the body of the Acheron was dwarfed by the large expanse of clean, crisp sail. The sails billowed in the wind, filled, and the ship began to move away from the dock and out towards the approaching Royal Navy. The breeze whipped across the deck, which was lit by the dawn sun to the left and the fires behind. The air suddenly fresher Nate felt his mind totally clear, his heart thumping in his hears as he took the wheel and turned the Acheron straight at the Navy ships. He could now see that they were frigates, nothing he hadn’t gone up against before, but it would be a hard fight if the plan he was formulating in his head didn’t go well.

Picking up speed the Acheron raced towards the Navy ships, which were now well hull-up. Nate could see them turning broadside on to fire at the Acheron as she raced towards them. The water split either side of the Acheron’s hull, and she was now virtually flying through the water, the early morning wind filling her sails. Nate almost called out in joy, but held himself back, instead calling down to the gundeck again.

“Gun captains, double shot the guns! Ram home the powder hard!” He smiled slightly. The plan was crazy, but it might just work. “Take the wheel,” Nate motioned to a crewman. “Take us right between them, no hesitations.” Clapping the man on the back Nate slid down the stairs to the gundeck and strode forwards to the fos’cle. He clambered up and leant over the front of the ship. Now the Acheron was close enough for him to make out details on the Navy ships through his spyglass. He recognized the Illustrious and the Endeavour. He smiled to himself again. Both captained by fools. He was surprised the Navy had allowed Captain Fotheringay of the Illustrious to sail again after he ran his last ship aground in the Bay of Biscay.

A white puff of smoke billowed out from the Endeavour, and a cannon ball skipped across the waves in front of the Acheron. “Short,” Nate thought to himself. “But the guns will warm soon.” He turned back towards the main body of his ship.

“Now’s the time boys! Hold fast and stay true. We’ll show these Navy dogs that they picked the wrong day to fight the Acheron!” Nate punched his sword up into the air as his crewmen roared in response. He saw that spare match was already burning in the sand tubs. His gunners were working well, even with the new crewmen. He was surprised by how easily they had slid into place. He supposed he had his new first lieutenant to thank for that.

“Those bastards over there are afraid! They fear the god-forsaken devils you are! They are over there right now wetting their breeches at the sight of us bearing down on them. Hold fast! And today you will have victory!” The crew roared again, Nate responding in kind. Acheron! Acheron! Acheron!”

Now his blood was on fire. Leaving his crew roaring the name of the ship over and over, Nate strode forwards and climbed onto the rail, holding onto one of the ropes attached to the bowsprit. He hung out over the front of the ship and glared at the Illustrious and the Endeavour, the Acheron racing towards them and the air buffeting his face.

Suddenly the sides of the two ships ahead disappeared in a great cloud of smoke. “Down! All hands down!” Nate yelled as he leapt from the bowsprit and ducked behind the rail. The crew followed suit as within seconds a peal of thunder reached them, then cannon balls began striking the Acheron. Splinters flew and round holes were torn in the sails. A couple of guns were dismounted, their crews shrieking as the metal reared up into the air, to come crashing back down on the deck. Peering over the rail, part of which no longer existed thanks to a close shot, Nate saw most of the broadsides fired by the two ships fall short or wide. “They’re afraid of hitting the town,” he thought, and smiled again.

The thunder roared again and the Acheron shuddered as she was hit. Nate climbed back onto the bowsprit and stared at the ships that were coming closer fast. The Acheron was near enough for him to make out details through gaps in the smoke even without his telescope. He could see the gunners frantically reloading, the buckets of muskets being lifted to the tops, and the two other captains, watching him nervously through their telescopes. Nate could also see the gap through which the Acheron must go. The other captains were being sloppy, the gap was widening as they focused on firing as fast as possible. The Acheron would slide right though.

Nate did whoop for joy this time, crying out as he was enveloped by gun smoke and flying metal, daring fate and the Navy to try and kill him. “Hold fast boys!” He yelled backwards. “Hold fast!”

They were seconds away now, the navy ships frantically reloading and firing, tearing great splinters from the hull of the Acheron. The gun crews still crouched by their guns, covering their heads from the shards of wood, some grinning in mad hysteria. In places the gun ports had been ripped away, letting the crew look out onto the waves beside them. The men in the tops and the fighting platforms had begun firing, the sharp crack of the muskets and rifles a stark contrast to the deep thunder of the cannons. Here and there a man fell backwards as he was struck by a musket ball, a couple tumbling down from the heights to land in the water as the Acheron raced forwards.

Nate could see panic in the faces of the crew of the Navy ships now. They knew what he planned to do, and it was too late. The nose of the Acheron pushed between the Illustrious and the Endeavour. Nate turned back to the ship and screamed at the top of his lungs, “now! Fire as she bears!”

There was silence for a moment as the navy guns could no longer fire at the Acheron, but it was quickly pierced by the rolling thunder of the Acheron’s own. Keen for revenge the gun crews yelled as they worked, the gun captains yanking on the lanyards in sequence, the guns leaping back against their traces. The fire rippled down the sides of the Acheron as she slid between her opponents. This raking fire was usually totally devastating, the cannonballs travelling the full length of the enemy ships, and this time it was no different.

Great chunks of wood flew from the navy ships, guns thrown from their placings, crewmen eviscerated as pounds of metal crashed into them. The fos'cle of the Illustrious and the poopdeck of the Endeavour were shredded. The length of the Acheron was wreathed in smoke and flame, her gun crews reloading as fast as possible to fire again before they were quickly past their target. The sails and some of the rigging snagged on falling pieces of the Navy’s own, but were dragged clear by the motion of the ship. Nate cackled with joy and ran back along the length of the ship to the poopdeck, watching the destruction as his ship moved past the Navy.

The three ships sat in a sudden silence, all covered in smoke, and on the Endeavour, flames. Obviously a cannonball had struck her galley. It was sloppy to leave the galley lit during a fight, but then, both the Navy captains had been sloppy. Moans and plaintive screams carried across the water, and the few wounded on the Acheron were being carried belowdecks during the lull.

“Lieutenant Thompson! Boarding hooks and weapons!” He called to Ren. The crew gave a roar and surged to the weapons lockers without another word, passing out tomahawks, cutlasses and pistols.

“Mr. Dogood, Mr. Carrington! Take up some of those grenades, prepare yourselves for boarding the Illustrious.” Nate was smiling, a crazed, bloodied smile. A splinter had whipped past his cheek, opening it to the bone, and blood was pouring down his face. But he didn’t care. The Acheron was as good as she could be, and now his men were going to take their revenge on the Navy who had humiliated them. "Bring her around for boarding!" Nate called to the crewman on the wheel.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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It had been years since Ren had felt the tension that came with combat, the chaos palpable as musket fire filled the air. rounds whizzed by like angry hornets, the volley accompanied by a symphony of sharp cracks that rhythmically filled the air. Even weak on her knees as she was, Ren couldn't resist a smile at the familiarity of it all. The grin widened as she watched the cook square off with the captain, unsure of why but she felt a measure of pride in another woman pressing her own will against the Captain's. Perhaps it was admiration? Or perhaps she was only anxious for more stew. She prayed for the latter, considering she had held a gun to her just moments before.

The fact that the young blonde one began to treat her injury without provocation heaped onto her shame, though Ren would be lying if she didn't enjoy the gentle touch the young woman possessed. She crouched down to aid in her caregivers work, unable to look the girl in the eyes as she did so. She swore she'd make it up to the both of them if the Captain didn't decide to have the lot of them shot.

“Don't mind my aunt, she understands more about girls than boys when it comes to stuff and things.”

The words caught Ren's attention, a welcome distraction from the stand-off with Nate.

“Long as you compliment her food an’ don't ask for snails she'll think you're okay.”

"I've had your aunt's cooking... the compliments will come naturally I assure you," Ren replied, trying her best to smile gently back at the niece. "Your aunt's skill is apparent in the kitchen, but we never did recruit a doctor. Do your best to treat any wounded and prove your worth if you want sanctuary. Do that, and I'll do my damndest to keep you safe, I swear it," Ren whispered, not wanting the Captain to hear her conspiring with the stowaways. Her words might not have been entirely audible to Angelique, but Ren dared not say them any louder, using the chaos above their heads to mask her voice.

She hadn't so much as taken a breath afterwards before she felt Carrington crouch down behind her, whispering to her now as well.

"Miss Thompson, we should, perhaps, raise the plank and be off, but me shoutin' the order gets you not an inch with the boys."

The rage was quick to spread on Ren's face, but with it came an idea as she saw another crewman scurrying about nearby. A wicked grin spread on her face instead as Ren stood, the wound as treated now as it could be without proper supplied. She'd need to see the girl after the battle for anti-septic, but she'd not bleed out by then. Ren nodded at Angelique and motioned for her to tend to the unconscious girl they'd brought aboard before swiveling on her heels to glare at Carrington.

"Mr. Carrington!" She shouted, an angry smile still widening on her face as she spoke, "That is a novel suggestion!" She then pointed at the crewman, who stopped in his tracks in surprise, before continuing.

"Crewman, Mr. Carrington has volunteered you to help him raise the gangway so that we might shove off!" Ren shouted, then glared back at Carrington, "Thank you for your initiative, Navigator Carrington. I look favorably on officers with the gumption to volunteer for the grunt work."

The crewman glared at Ren, and again at Mr. Carrington for his role in the dangerous task of retrieving the gangway amidst the musket fire. Ren glared at the man as well, pistol still drawn and easily aimed if the man openly defied her order.

"Unless, Mr. Carrington, you presumed to order me to carry out your own whims?" She barked, wanting to make this painfully apparent that this was her way of rectifying the earlier situation with the gangway, the look on her face suggesting her lack of humor about the matter. The men not listening to her was one thing, but having an officer below her rank giving her orders was a death sentence if it took root now. This way, the men would see said officer following her own words, and some might come to heel as a result. The sooner she established herself with the crew, the sooner she could stop cracking the whip and settle into the crew proper. If she were a man, she might not have had to so much as raise her voice to accomplish the same, but she could tell by the looks of all aboard that they didn't think she belonged. She had to stand her ground and prove she did.

After the gangway was raised, the Captain resumed issuing his orders, instructing Mr. Carrington to take the women below deck to keep them from being underfoot, as well as demanding Ren stick to her post or die. Ren saluted, still grinning as she gave a hearty, "Aye sir, one measly shot wouldn't take an officer of the Acheron to the depths!"

She did make it a point to step forward to Jacqueline as soon as the Captain left for the quarterdeck, placing her flintlock firmly into the woman's hands.

"A good deterrent should a sailor be faced with temptation. I'll want this back, but I won't miss a bullet. Stay safe, mam," She said gently, winking at Angelique before turning and drawing her sabre from it's scabbard.

"GET OFF YOUR ASSES BOYS! DAVY JONES IS HUNGRY AND ITS THEM OR US!" She whooped as she started pacing the decks, making sure all hands had a purpose and that any slack was absent the ship. She could see the Acheron turning to charge the two navy ships, a moment of fear shooting up Ren's spine.

'Black Nate is as mad as the devil, he is,' She thought, but a quick shake of the head and she was back in the moment.

"WHAT CREW ARE WE?!" She cried, carrying on the Captain's chant from before to keep the crew's spirits high. God knows they'd need it sailing headlong into the enemy.

"ACHERON!"

"WHO DOES THE NAVY FEAR?!"

"ACHERON!"

"WHOSE SAILING OUT ONTO THAT OPEN BLUE PARADISE?!"

"ACHERON!"

"PUT THE FEAR OF GOD INTO THOSE PITIFUL BASTARDS!" She shouted, a roar from the crew as her reply as everyone worked in unison. Truly she'd missed being on a ship. Even as the call to hit the deck rang out from fos’cle to aft and Ren put her nose to wood and covered her head, she couldn't imagine a more fitting place for herself in all the world. When the thunder quieted, Ren got to her knees and looked about to assess the damage. She couldn't find much that the crew wasn't already tending to. The Navy was getting sloppy, it seemed.

Another volley hit the ship, and one of the roundshot bounced off the deck just five feet from where Ren lay, splinters piercing her coat and cutting up her hands. She immediately popped back up, whooping and waving her sword. "THEY'VE LOST THEIR BIFOCALS, BOYS! SHOW 'EM WHAT KIND OF AIM A TRUE SON OF THE SEA HAS!" She called out, a volley of the Acheron's own thundering out and slamming into the enemy ships.

The volleys were near constant up until Nathaniel's plan came to fruition, wedging the Acheron between the two navy ships and letting the broadsides have their way with the both of them at once. Between the cannons and the musket fire, the fight had been smacked out of the Navy's collective mouths. The smoke cleared and the only sound Ren could hear was the plaintive wailing of the enemy, and a few shots from the tops silencing their cries.

“Lieutenant Thompson! Boarding hooks and weapons!”

Ren's head swiveled about as the order came through, a grin spreading on her face as the bloodlust began to take hold. Another fine opportunity to earn respect and kill those that had cast her out of their fold.

"YOU HEARD THE CAPTAIN! ARM UP AND GIVE 'EM HELL!" Ren shouted, joining the men at the weapons locker and holstering all the pistols her uniform could hold. Another crewman came from below deck, carrying all the boarding hooks he could manage, and distributed them among the eager crew, one of which was Ren herself. The order came for the ship to turn about for boarding, and the men roared in anticipation.

Ren joined the line of men portside, a wicked grin on her face as she began swinging her hook about, waiting for the Illustrious to come into range. As soon as she could see the fire from the enemy musket barrels, she threw her hook and yanked hard when it hit the ship's deck, catching it on the railing. She began to shout, "Heave! Ho!" to get the men pulling in unison. Any of the linemen that fell to musket fire was quickly replaced and the phrase devolved into a cackle as the two ships were practically touching.

"SHIP'S OURS, BOYS! VACATE THE STOWAWAYS!" She cried, drawing her sabre as she leaped forward, jumping off of the Acheron's own railing and landed in a roll on the enemy's deck, jabbing her sabre straight forward into the sternum of a navy sailor as soon as she rolled onto her feet. She grabbed the man by the coat and yanked him around to absorb a round from a flintlock by his mate, and kicked her shield off of her blade before raising her own firearm and pulling the trigger.

Dear God in heaven, she felt so alive.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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It was dark and empty. Karena felt like she was stripped of all sense until a murmur could be heard. Then suddenly a loud voice could be heard behind her. It was commanding and authoritative. Karena spun around and saw a familiar figure in the darkness.

“You messed up, Karena!” The voice was also familiar. It belonged to her father as did the figure that was standing before her. “You showed mercy when you shouldn’t have. You didn’t fully analyze the situation. You didn’t shoot the target when you had the chance.”

“She was with someone else.” Karena defended herself and her father leaned forward to put himself at eye-level with his daughter.

“Then you kill them both.” There was venom in his voice and then he straightened himself again. “Which life do you think is more important? Their’s or yours?”

“My life.” Karena answered.

“I would say you are going soft. Have you not murdered women and children before?” The question brought up the past that Karena worked so hard to dig into the furthest reach of her memory. It was an orphanage. Karena was offered a large sum to set it ablaze. The girl had thought it over. The job was heartless but in time of war and rebellion heartless deeds had to be done.

It was at night, after all the children were put to sleep, Karena snuck into the orphanage. She silently killed all the staff before setting up the place to go up in flames. Only a few children managed to escape alive. But that was a few out of two floors’ worth of children. It was done as a message against the country. What did Karena care? She was not English. And the pay was magnificent along with the reputation should would receive. But the only mistake she made was watching the place burn. The screams were still clear in her head. The doors and first floor windows were locked to make sure there was little to no escape.

Karena had to do it for the sake of infamy. It had worked once word had gotten out that she was the one who committed the deed. She was sought for many jobs afterwards and even was trusted with killing high ranked officials on occasion. When you were an assassin then it was best to be known for having a lack of conscious when it came to jobs.

Karena looked back up to her father. He was right. If Karena was the same person from back then, she would have killed Jacqueline and the other girl without hesitation for the fact that the probability of the target putting up resistance seemed high.

“Now that you remember your true self then I trust you won’t make the same mistake again. You even collapsed at the sight and realization of having been shot. Staying conscious is a state of mind when it comes to that. I suppose I could not have taught you that short of shooting you myself. Aside from that I raised you to do what it takes to win. To make better choices in the long run and do what must be done to remain on top. I trust you remember.” Karena nodded and then looked her father in the eye. A smirk appeared on his face. The same smirk that he gave whenever Karena showed understanding in his teachings. “You were given another chance to make up for what mistake has been made. I trust you will not waste it. Remember to think things through only as much as they need to be thought and make an action accordingly. Make me proud!” On her father’s final word he disappeared in a thundering boom that awoke the girl at the same time. She was in a that was filling with wounded at a slow pace.

Karena sat up and the sharp pain in her shoulder reminded the girl of the reason for unconsciousness. She looked around and saw her rifle. She guessed what was happening based on the moments before she passed out and by the sounds she heard now. Screaming, yelling, gunfire and judging by the sound that woke her; cannon fire.

The girl quickly checked over her wound and breathed a sigh of relief. The bullet missed anything vital and had passed right through. The only downside to her injury would be the aching and some blood loss. But her arm was bandaged up so that solved the immediate problem. She was on the ship now and that meant her target probably was as well. Which meant Jacqueline was safe from the assassin. Whoever was the enemy of the crew on the ship was also her enemy as well. She’d have to cooperate with the pirates until she was off the ship. Karena climbed toward the main deck to see exactly what was going on.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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As soon as the navigator left, Jacqueline cursed his name.

“Auntie what is wrong with you?” Angelique rushed over to take the still dizzy Karena from her aunt. “I had him in my palm!”

“Angelique, the man is merely baiting you so you'll sleep with him,” Jacqueline said, working her way around the cell.

“I would never sleep with a man I barely knew,” Angelique frowned, helping Karena to one of the bunks. “And besides, I was flirting with him to get him on our side.”

“Your side, mon ange,” the older woman replied in her search. “The captain despises me, and as much as his lieutenant likes me, that man is far more dangerous than she.” Finding nothing of interest, she sat on the opposite bunk. “After all, cooks are expendable. A good surgeon is not.”

“I barely know anything about doctoring, though,” Angelique frowned.

“You learn fast, and you know more than you realize.” Jacqueline gave a start before pulling her pack into her lap. Her frying pan’s handle still stuck out of the top, and the scent of fresh clove immediately filled the room. She scowled. “Mon diu, do they have any idea how expensive clove is?”

“Auntie, you can just get more at the next port. It'll be okay,” the younger Thuron told her, then focused on keeping Karena conscious. It would do the girl no good to pass out from the blood loss, and it would be easier to move her if she was awake. “I need you to stay with me, okay? Gotta keep your eyes open,” she told the assassin.

Jacqueline put aside her frustration with the clove a second time and took the pan out of her bag. Then, she switched into her breeches.

“Can't you pout just as well in a skirt?” Angelique said. “We're going to be stuck here until they decide what to do with us.”

“Angelique, you've not been on a ship since you were little, and you've never been on a pirate ship,” Jacqueline replied, relacing her boots. “If you're locked in a cell, you either try to bust through the door, or you rush the guard when they come bring you food. Besides, I can fight far better in this.” Jacqueline stood up and brandished her frying pan, first in her right, then in her left.

“Aren't you right handed, Auntie?”

“I've always felt better with this pan in my left,” Thuron noted, giving a few experimental swings with the pan. She pulled her coat out of her bag and donned that as well. Now, she was ready to go on the offensive.

Now, if only she could pick locks.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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Karena laid in silence as the two women lightly quarreled with each other after listening to Angelique’s soothing voice to stay awake. They reminded her of when her family was alive. Back when Karena still knew how to smile. The girl and her sister would often argue over similar things. Karena fancied more of the clothes her father wore and adapted his like for things men were more known for than women. Her sister, Hilde, took after their mother and was more refined and ladylike. Hilde would often chastise Karena for not being the same and would often give tales about the kind of lifestyle there was for girls that wanted to be like men. They were often barbaric and over exaggerated tales but even so, their father loved hearing them. They were likely tales that Hilde had heard from her friends since there was no way of the girl knowing them herself when her only places she went to were the school for ladies and out on the town on occasion.

Hearing Jacqueline and Angelique made Karena suddenly long for her old life. Back before her parents died and her sister’s disappearance. When Karena heard of Jacqueline preparing to either break out of the cell or fight the young girl snapped back into reality. She slowly sat up and swung her legs back to the floor. It hurt like hell to move any part of her upper body, especially, sitting up.

Karena took a deep breath, willing the pain to the back of her mind to focus on more important task. Then her eyes opened to look at the door handle.

“Waiting to rush them would be too risky if the captain comes, escorted by his men. It’d be suicide.” Karena stood up and walked over to the door before kneeling down to further inspect the keyhole. “It’s not a cell door.” The girl looked at Jacqueline’s weapon. “You could force the door open with the frying pan if you desired so. With all the fighting going on I don’t think anyone would hear it unless there were guards stationed at the door.” Karena pulled out her lockpicking kit. She always carried it on her just in case. It was pretty small so even if she was searched the was always a possibility it’d be overlooked since it was in her bosom.

The true challenge was picking the lock with a single hand and on a swaying boat. At least the cannon fire had ceased but there was still the swaying. Karena found herself lucky the door to this room held a simpler lock than the ones she was used to breaking into. She spoke while starting to work.

“This will take a little while to do with one hand but if you can be patient then we’ll be through the door in a few minutes.” The girl dropped her pins several times before grunting in frustration. She moved her arm from the sling it was placed in and let out a short but sharp cry. The sudden pain was surprising and had caught her off guard despite expecting it. She held up a hand letting the others know to keep their distance and that she was fine.

-----------------

After working for a little while Karena was surprised at how exhausting the work was. Beads of sweat formed on her head and her breaths were getting shorter. Working through pain like this wasn’t something she had to do before. She would admire anyone that could. Then the bolt turned.

“Got it!” Karena whispered. She gathered her kit back together and put it back in its original place. “Now what’s your plan?” Karena asked the older woman as the girl sat back on the bunk and carefully placed her arm back into the sling. The pain slowly dulling out as Karena got used to it. There wasn’t any popping or cracking when she moved her arm early so the assassin came to the conclusion that nothing was broken or shattered. She was very lucky but now her mind was set on what would happen next. That would test how great her luck really was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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Jacqueline looked on appreciatively as Karena picked the lock. The girl had quite the pair of hands, to be able to do that with one bad arm. Jacqueline had never been quite deft enough to fiddle with such things. She'd almost told the girl to stop when she cried out in pain, but Karena had insisted on continuing. When the hunter finished, she sat back with Angelique.

“Now what's your plan?” the girl asked her.

Jacqueline opened the door. “First, I'll have- Merde!” she hissed. Two men, smack in front of the door. She gripped the handle of her pan tight. She could hold them off long enough to get the girls away, but-

"If you'd be so kind as to take these to Mr. Carrington's cabin on your way to the Captain's, I would be appreciative."

Jacqueline raised an eyebrow as the grizzled man took a familiar looking sack from Mr. Franklin. She could see the butt of her saber sticking out just barely of the sack. She scowled, though was thankful the other man had been sent away. She gripped the handle of the pan tighter and stayed in the doorway.

The man smiling caught her completely off guard. “Now ladies, this puts me in a quandary. Y'see, the Captain wants ye off the ship, and ne'er said a thing about killin' ye. And I'm not much one fer killin' womenfolk. Leaves a darkness upon the soul that's hard to be rid of. So, I'll letcha go by without action, since the Captain doesn't want ya aboard regardless. But if it's a fight yer lookin' fer, ye might kill me, but one of ye will die with me." That smile looked all too familiar to Jacqueline, one that she'd been given many times long ago. Her heart leapt for a split second before she pulled herself back into reality. Though the smile was the same, she knew this man not.

Jacqueline stared at the lone pirate before stepping out of the doorway. “As long as you keep your word, I've no notion to start a fight. Angelique!” she called back behind her. The blonde started behind her, still focused on Karena.

“What?"

“We're taking our leave of this cabin.” Jacqueline never turned her head back, instead keeping her eyes planted firmly on the scarred cyclops in front of her.
“Where- oh. Oh!” Angelique helped Karena up off the bunk and out the door. “Are we-”

“Go. You know what to do.” Jacqueline waved her hand in the opposite direction of, apparently, Carrington’s cabin. Angelique nodded hard and hastily helped Karena away from the pair in standoff.
Jacqueline didn't watch them leave. She stood there for a moment after she could no longer hear their footsteps, then spoke quietly to Mr. Franklin.

“I'm sure a man of your age has had plenty of cause to kill women for lesser reasons. I've no notion as to why you've decided to leave us be.” She took a deep breath. “Should I see the sun rise-” She heard shouts ring from above them and cursed. Still a bit shaken, she finally left the hallway and made for the deck.

-
Angelique had no idea what to do. Had she been on her own, she’d have taken the time to learn the lay of the land- well, ship, scope out any easy hiding spots, size up the liquor, all of that. She wasn't used to sneaking about with someone else, though the girl was just as silent as Angelique.

“We're going to see if we can't find a surgeon’s chest,” Angelique murmured to Karena. “I don't have much of anything on me, and if I have to start tearing up my dress for dressing auntie might try to put me in breeches.” The blonde shuddered at that, then gave a quick glance around.
Where were they?

-
Jacqueline bounded up topside as fast as she could. She prayed to whatever was listening that Angelique hadn't gone on deck as she went.

She came on deck to the sight of the Endeavor near explosive as it sank, sucking in water as if there was no tomorrow. It seemed like the two ships couldn't get away fast enough; if they couldn't get moving fast enough, there wouldn't be a tomorrow. The crew on both ships raced to get moving. The Endeavor cracked and groaned and popped as it sank, the few men left on her doomed to sail with Davy Jones. There was no time left for them.

Her niece nowhere in sight, Jacqueline turned to go back and find her inside the ship when a gunshot rang from the deck of the ship the pirates had boarded: the Illustrious. She watched as someone fell overboard, coat billowing as they fell. Jacqueline couldn't quite see who it was by the light of the moon and the blaze of the Endeavor, but he looked to be someone of importance, as the new crew of the Illustrious scrambled to fish him out.

“Oi! Don't just stand there, mate! Captain’ll shoot you ‘imself if ‘e sees you slakin’ off,” a burly, smoky man clapped Jacqueline on the shoulder, giving her a start. Jacqueline looked at the man as though he were crazy, then realized what was going on around her. With her current attire she looked far more like the pirates scurrying around the deck than she had earlier. She tool a page out of Angelique’s book, nodded back at the man and began to assist the crew of the Acheron in sailing them away from the Endeavor. After all, she reminded herself, she was no good to Angelique dead, and if the Endeavor blew with them as close as they were, there was no chance in hell for them.

She could taste the powder still in the air, though the wind felt as though it would shift directions any second. “Å quelque chose malheur est bon,” she murmured to herself, taking glances up at the clouds that were floating lazily by. Jacqueline wouldn't rest well until she saw the color of sunrise.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson
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Karena hated the fact she had to rely on someone. It hadn’t been something she experienced since she was with her family. That was to be expected. But now she had been alone for quite sometime. To rely on others would mean that Karena wasn’t able to do something herself. And that was unacceptable.

Only until this wound heals. Then I’m going back. Karena thought but then something an ounce of doubt came over her. How would she get back? Who knows what the pirates had in store for her. She was a female on a pirate ship. Karena heard stories of what they did.

Technically, she hadn’t met the captain of the ship yet so Karena would delay planning her next move until she did so. It seemed things had calmed down above deck and Karena started to find her way to get there. More of the crew were appearing below which confirmed the girl’s thought on the battle being over. Most were too busy to pay the girl any attention while every once in awhile she would there would be a surprised or nasty look from a crewman.

Karena wouldn’t meet their gaze, as to seem like she was challenging them, but she did keep her eyes focused ahead with her head up so the girl wouldn’t seem weak either. When ascending the steps Karena just hoped she wouldn’t be escorted back down in the ship again like she had before. She was going to find answers and if it took a sacrifice of the unfortunate crewman that was given the task of dragging her back down to see how serious she was then so be it. Now was not the time to treated like a kid.

Still pacing the captain’s side of the quarterdeck Nate deliberated his choice. Now that he was sure the Royal Navy would hunt the Acheron, they needed to move as fast as ship and wind would allow. The North Atlantic currents should carry them a good way, and even any storms or squalls would help their flight. Nate sighed, he hoped that the ship had been repaired well enough to withstand what it needed to. Despite his belief in the abilities of his men, there was only so much that they could have done in that time. Maybe when they reached Kingston, or another Caribbean port, they could fly navy colours and be given access to dockyards, at least for a while. He would have to see. For the moment, Nate needed to reward the men and see to their spirits. After such a victory he did not doubt they would be fired for the hard work that would need to be done to see them across the Atlantic.

The Illustrious was quickly following along behind the Acheron, the hotch-potch of sails and rigging dragging the beaten ship through the water and away from the Endeavour. The Endeavour herself was blazing with furious intensity. Nathaniel was reminded of other ships he had seen burn, and the horrible fate of the crews on board. He himself had burned a couple with furnace heated cannon balls, and the resulting explosions had seared themselves into his memory. He made a mental note to pick up some sand to be spread on the decks of the Acheron during battle to help combat fires. Surely the Endeavour would go up soon. Now was certainly not the time to rest easy, and the niggling in his brain from that damn cook was still irritating him.

His attention was drawn from his reverie by the appearance of a blonde framed head on the gundeck. Stepping forwards to the rail he narrowed his eyes and recognised it as the girl he had very briefly met in the town outside the tavern. Though the whole evening was rather blurred into one at the moment, he remembered her skill with a blade, the flashes of blood and his own movements in the exhilarating combat. Raising an eyebrow as his eyes met hers, rather fierce eyes he thought, he motioned his head to the side a little, inviting her up to the holy side of the quarterdeck. With all the rules about decorum and propriety he could not wave her up or actually invite her, but her appearance there would certainly make it easier for first contact.

The first thing that caught Karena’s attention when she appeared above deck was the burning ship. The pirates must have been pretty good in order to take out a Navy ship. Either that or the Navy commander was a joke. Then she noticed the other ship. Seeing that made up the girl’s mind about which possibility was true.

Karena continued to look around the ship and a familiar face seized her immediate attention. It was the man that helped her against those sailors outside the inn. He definitely noticed her too because her motioned with his head for her to follow him. Karena’s legs moved while her mind buzzed a dozen thoughts at once.

Why was that man here? Was he a prisoner to the pirates? No, he seemed to be roaming the ship without supervision. Was he a rogue? Or maybe a double agent working with the pirates to conspire against the Navy? Maybe that was his ship that sailed along with this one. The man stopped walking, meaning they arrived at their destination and Karena put an sudden rest to all of her wandering thoughts.

Standing at the rail of the poop deck and facing back over the water towards the burning Endeavour and following Illustrious, Nate sensed the girl stop next to him, facing the same way. Turning his head to look at her he scowled. She looked well done in after her flight and wounding, and could probably do with a night’s rest. However, the way she walked and held herself at the moment decried disciplined training. Nate cocked his head to one side. There was obviously more to this girl than met the eye. When he had found her fighting that large group of men, she had fought with the grace and fluidity of one who has trained long and hard with the sword, and he had no doubt that, even wounded as she was, she was still a threat.

In the excitement Nate had totally forgotten the wound on his left arm from the battle that had brought the Acheron to the town, and now it reminded him of its presence with a painful throb. There had been no time to see to it beyond a quick bandaging, and Nate was aware that it needed to be dealt with quickly, along with the new gash on his cheek, earned from a long splinter a cannon ball had chosen to throw his way. “Damn that surgeon for shying away,” Nate thought to himself, stifling a wince.

Keeping the scowl on his face Nate cleared his throat. “I do not believe we had the chance for introductions.” He paused. “You were in the tavern when I was recruiting, so you most likely know who I am, but you have me at a disadvantage.” Turning fully towards her he clasped his hands behind his back. “So who are you, and what are you doing on my ship?”

When Nathan turned towards Karena, she instantly recognized the piercing glare his eyes had. That look was also shared by her father. It was a look of experience and the same cold look when you live around death for so long. He cleared his throat and finally spoke. He said he was recruiting in that tavern. At least one of Karena’s guesses were right. But who, exactly, he was, the girl still didn’t know. Then he finally asked the questions Karena knew were coming. She thought, briefly, about her options of telling the truth or lying and weighed their consequences. She opted to be truthful. If she lied it wouldn’t benefit her since she was on a ship and very limited. Not to mention what might be done if she was found out. All the thoughts went through her head in a second, as she was used to doing, and then answered the captain.

“My name is Karena Schneider. I am a mercenary and was pursuing a bounty; that older blonde I was locked in the cabin with. Before I could retain her we were shot at by others pursuing her as well as retaliation for the village being destroyed, I imagine. I had little choice but to run for the ship after that woman, Jacqueline, for safety’s sake because I doubt those men were going to ask questions if I had stayed. I was shot by our pursuers upon boarding the ship which is reason for the injury.” Karena said quickly but clearly.

Her habit or giving briefings before military officials showed. Even though she wasn’t under their command the arrogant bastards, more often than not, still wanted her to follow protocol when speaking to them. She did so only because they were had pockets which held her money. But she did enjoy getting the jobs of killing them every so often. Better to kill off bigots and arrogant men and women sitting on their high chairs punching down. Karena despised people that abused their power from a comfortable seat.

Seeing as Nathan said “my ship” Karena guessed that he owned this ship and either wore Navy colors because he went rogue or more for a type of camouflage. The girl was curious what type of man the captain was.

Nate visibly stiffened. A mercenary. Though little more than a pirate with a vengeance against those who wronged him, Nate had always been wary about mercenaries. They were never bound to people or ideals, only to whoever was paying them the most. But what disturbed him more was the knowledge about the woman who had come aboard amidst the hail of gunfire. The niggling in the back of his mind grew in magnitude. He was sure he had come across her somewhere before, but he could not for his life remember. The name Jacqueline meant nothing to him, but he was sure he had met her before.

Snapping out of his momentary reverie Nate’s scowl deepened. “This ‘ship’,” he waved his arm back towards the main body, “is the Acheron. A forty gun ship that has seen more action than the rest of the Royal Navy put together.” Nate’s voice rose a little with his passion. “This ship has been the scourge of any foolish enough to get in her way, and she has burned the coast from here to Gibraltar.” Indifference to a ship was a cardinal sin in Nate’s eyes. A ship was hearth and home. A fortress that encompassed your whole life, and treating one with anything less than reverence was worthy of scorn, if not violence. The Acheron was particularly precious to him, seeing as how she was his first proper command as a captain.

When Nate had first stepped aboard the Acheron as a post-captain he had immediately fallen in love with her. Her shape, lines and build had been perfect. Her speed under full sail was unmatched by other ships he had been on, and her agility in a fight had proved invaluable. The crew had also made things easier. By bringing men from the smaller ship he had commanded previously, it had made resuming his dubious practices easier. Raiding neutral shipping had been child’s play in the Acheron, and running before the navy ships when he had stolen her had been exhilarating. Nate had been in and around ships most of his life, and by now the Acheron had enough of his blood in the woodwork to almost be family.

Stepping back a little and calming himself, Nate glowered at the girl again. Her report had been delivered in a monotone not unlike the practiced report giving of the military. Give your superiors nothing but the facts. No opinions, no conjecture, no thoughts. She was good, but there were still two problems forefront in Nate’s mind. What was he going to do with her, and who was this bounty she was chasing?

“Well Schneider,” Nate had never spoken German in his life and did not want to insult the girl by calling her Miss, “every person on this ship has a purpose, or they go overboard. What can you do besides fight?” After a second’s pause Nate decided to ask the other question on his mind. “Who was this bounty you were chasing?”

So the ship was indeed his. Which meant that the other ship was one he had most likely taken in the last fight. Then the captain gave some information about the ship or at least its accomplishments. If it was as infamous as he said it was then there had to be a bounty on this ship from all over. She could see how proud the man was of his ship and the deeds that had been accomplished aboard it. She may be a mercenary but the sea was something she didn’t mess with as well as the people that sailed it. If a sailor or a pirate came on land then that was a different story. But seeing that Nathan had saved her life, unless circumstances drastically changed then she wouldn’t pursue a bounty on him or the ship even if she were offered a good sum. But that wasn’t to say she wouldn’t look into seeing if there was one.

He spoke up again and she felt her heart skip a beat at the mention of being tossed overboard. She already didn’t like the sea due to the numerous tales about the monsters and ghost that dwell on and within. The thought of floating on the open sea made a lump rise in Karena’s throat.

“I a good shot and a great fighter. Not to mention I can scope out of places you or your men might not be able to. But those are skills I retain on land. I would have to rely on my combat ability on ship, I presume.” Karena looked at the other ship. “Unless you want to get a drop on another ship. I don’t know if pirates roundup ships like a farmer does cattle.” Nathan then asked about the bounty Karena was chasing and she pulled out a crude drawing from one of her trouser pockets, handing it to the captain.

“Jacqueline Thuron is wanted in several counties if not all of them. The older woman with the dirty blonde hair that boarded the ship at the same time as I. She’s an ex-pirate but that’s all the info the government would release. The reward is more than enough to deter bounty hunters from asking questions.”

“Outsmarting a ship, or ambushing one, is very different to what you might do on land. Maybe you will learn something before I leave you at the nearest port. I have enough fighters. One more will not make a difference.” Nate spoke half out of truth and half to see how the girl would react. In reality he did not doubt that her skills could be infinitely useful, especially if they wanted to do some quiet raiding. Even sat up in the tops with that rifle of hers she could be useful at picking off enemy officers on deck. Nate raised an eyebrow. “What do you know of cannons Schneider?”

The name. The name. ‘Jacqueline Thuron’. Damn the name. He thought he recognised the person but not the name. For the first time in a long while Nate was feeling unsure of himself. He was certain, but everything he was told about this woman did not help with his memory. All he could drag forth from the dusty reaches of his mind was a blurred image, surrounded by gunsmoke and blood. Nate ground his teeth, glaring straight ahead. “In time,” he thought. “In time.”

Being dropped off at the nearest harbor didn’t sound too bad.

“Are you dropping off the other woman, Jacqueline, as well? I hope you understand she’s the reason I came out here in the first place and I would not like to return empty handed.” Then he asked of cannons. Karena almost smirked. If it was one thing she knew on a ship it was their artillery. She spent quite a good amount of time dealing with them at the academy. Frankly, it was the primary subject that kept held her interest at the academy if not the only one. Her father taught her many things but weapons that he could not get his hands on was a different matter.

“I do know that the cannons you currently use are of low quality. I don’t know how wealthy pirates are but I can tell just by hearing your canons that they aren’t the best.” Karena looked at the almost fully sunk ship. “How do you know when you fire a cannon it won’t backfire and do significant damage to your ship?” Karena paused. “I know of the best cannons you can get that can dominate forces both on land and sea. They would be easy to move as well as take less resources to fire but yield the same destructive force as any cannons you have now. Not to mention their lifespan would be a good deal longer.” Karena stopped herself realizing she was going on too long and bragging rarely looked attractive in anyone’s eyes.

Nate smirked a little, and pointed to one of the eighteen pounder cannons down on the gun deck. “You know cannons Schneider. Then you should know that these guns are held by ropes and pulleys so that their backfire is checked.” Turning to another of the guns, a carronade on the quarterdeck. “Some of these guns are French made, the best in Europe. We replace our guns with better and heavier calibre ones whenever we can.” Turning back to the girl he fixed her eye with his own. “However, if you think you can do better with our guns Schneider, be my guest. You may find that the gun captains will be reluctant to let you mess around with their pieces, but if you show an improvement on one gun then they will be more amenable.”

Walking slightly forward towards the gundeck, Nate pointed to the fos’cle. “Make a start on the long nines. They are brass and we use them as chasers. Stopping a chase quickly can make a difference for us.”

Casting his eye back towards the Endeavour, Nate guessed they had gone far enough. “Reef the sails! Open the hatch to the hold! Prepare for the Illustrious coming alongside!” Striding away from Karena he climbed down from the quarterdeck and a little along the gangway as the crew scurried around the deck and rigging above. The sails were raised up to the spars and tied in place, the Acheron slowing gradually till it was just moving on the swell of the waves. The Illustrious pulled alongside, looking a lot lower in the water than it had been before. “So much for bad cannons,” Nate thought.

“Permission to come aboard Captain!” Nate heard Ren call from opposite. The deck of the Illustrious had been mostly cleared, the bodies floating in the water behind testament to the looting that had been going on. Stores and valuables were stacked on the deck in various places, and it seemed that Ren was carrying two sacks herself. Nate scowled and was about to ask why an officer was carrying baggage, when he was interrupted by a clap of thunder and a deep boom. Whipping round at a bright flash Nate saw the Endeavour disappear in a ball of flames, wood and debris flying in every direction. Clasping his hands behind his back Nate smiled with satisfaction. Now they could get to the good part.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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Jacqueline ceased her assistance with the crew after Nate had assessed her. Her hands ached from the ropes, and she could feel a soreness spreading from her shoulders up her neck and down her back. She’d need to get that stretched out before she slept (if she slept that night.) Sighing, she smoothed down some stray grayish blonde hairs as she stood on deck. She moved over to the railing and took glances at the officers and sailors still on deck. How long had it been? Eleven or so years? It- no, that had to be about right. Angelique was grown, after all, and hadn't she been so small on the Petit Bleu that she wouldn't speak? No, she was old enough to speak then, she just wouldn't, not even to her father-

The Endeavor exploded in a flash and a thunderous clap. Jacqueline whipped around to face the remnants’ final blaze of glory. The ship was bigger, but with the ringing in her ears Jacqueline swore she saw teal blue French script and a small but lovely figurehead in the explosion, and something else that she hoped she could write off as sleep deprivation.

She saw a face that had plagued her nightmares for a decade.

Jacqueline blinked hard, then shoved away from the railing as though the metal had burned her. She breathed in the scent of burning wood and imagined her kitchen. In, out, in… that always helped. Yet, she couldn't shake off the darkening feeling in her gut: that face had looked awfully familiar, as though she had seen it recently.

“Lots of Englishmen look the same,” she muttered, scowling at the sky. Still dark. Still cloudy. Still depressingly the same English sky she'd been under for years. Jacqueline missed La Rochelle, though a part of her longed for the place she grew up in. Hell, she missed France in general. Angelique had never known her father's and aunt's homeland; perhaps, once this was over, she would take her niece to her homeland.

Wait.

Where was Angelique?
---

Angelique had lost Karena not long in, and had subsequently gotten lost afterwards. She knew the outsides of ships well, and she could find her way through any building (she liked to think) but this ship was plaguing her more than the outbreak of scurvy had a few years ago during a festival. Its innards made no sense to her. She finally gave up trying to find anything of note when she felt the boom of the Endeavor. Angelique popped her head above deck and found herself near the larboard gangway. She could easily see her aunt glance about the approaching Illustrious, as well as Nathaniel and Karena.

‘Oops,’ she thought. Yet, her aunt seemed not to be bothered by her absence; maybe her aunt actually thought she could handle herself? For once?

Nah, she probably just forget where she was.

Angelique lept out onto the the deck and bounded gracefully to her aunt, only losing a bit of momentum trying to jump up on to the deck by the mainmast.

“Auntie, your hands look awful!” the girl exclaimed, grabbing Jacqueline’s hands and inspecting them. “What on earth were you doing?”

“Mon ange, don't startle me so!” Jacqueline exclaimed, shuddering at the shock. “I was doing what needed done, nothing more.”

“Your hands look like you lost a fight with five cats and a round of rope,” Angelique remarked, feeling all around her aunt's hands and frowning. “I've got some ointment to put on your rope burns that should clear them up by tomorrow but my bandages are running low.”

“I’ll live,” Jacqueline looked over at the Illustrious, particularly at the grinning face of the lieutenant. Not as familiar as the Captain’s, but she'd definitely seen that nose and those eyes before. So many familiar unfamiliar faces today!

“Not if it gets infected you won't,” Angelique fussed, reaching into her bag to get a stopped bottle of a greenish paste. “You always say that our hands are our most important part of our bodies.”

“Aside from the head,” Jacqueline replied, squinting to see the other members of the Illustrious’s returning crew. She looked at Carrington, still sopping wet, and felt a chill come over her. She didn't trust that man as far as she could throw him.

“Depends on which head,” Angelique giggled, pulling out her last few bandages and following her aunt's gaze.

Jacqueline fixed her with a stern look as Angelique’s giggles turned into full laughter. The older Thuron rolled her eyes and prayed that her niece would be able to laugh still after a few weeks at sea.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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As Jacqueline took the poster, Ren was practically vibrating from excitement. Never in her wildest fantasies did she think she'd ever meet THE Serpent's Teeth out at sea, much less sail on the same vessel. She tried her level best to remain calm but the grin on her face was wider than any she'd managed in recent memory. She vowed that when Jacqueline looked back up from examining the poster, Ren could try to suppress the grin to keep from looking like a loon.

“You know, this was one of my favorite posters they put up?” Jacqueline said. “If I recall, these were put up not long after Tocaz and I “picked up’ the Screaming Serpent for a song- remind me to tell you about that one- and then we gathered enough crew to run it up and terrorize the Irish and English coasts. Almost ran aground a few times, but it certainly was a great way to get a feel for such a lovely ship. Saw these scattered about after a nasty brush with your father's ship, and I'm nearly positive he helped with the poster because it's actually accurate. One of the better to actually acknowledge me as a woman- not that I ever tried to hide it, mind,” Jacqueline added, then chuckled. “Honestly, some of the early ones made me look like my brother. I think they were just afraid to admit a girl carved them up and tossed them overboard.”

As Jacqueline raised her head and returned the paper, Ren simply nodded as she folded it gently and tucked it back into her coat. She tried to speak, but was afraid that all that would come from her was a church mouse's squeak.

“Merci, mon ami. I'm glad my years at sea did something more than terrorize the English. I must say though, that I inspired one as remarkable as you is certainly something. We'll have to spar sometime, see if Issac actually taught you anything.”

The smile made it's return as Ren patted her hilt.

"Taught me more than even he knows. Even after he came home to stay, he kept practicing in the gardens where he thought I couldn't see him. I learned so much just by watching the way he moved. The way the speed and power came from his hips and not his arms, proper foot placement... I got ten lashes once for getting into a fight with a crewmate that kept throwing rotten fruit at the decks I'd just scrubbed. Ran my mouth and he hit me. I hit back so he drew his sabre. Disarmed him with a mop handle and slapped him with the wet mop head. Bosun didn't have nearly the sense of humor I did about it," Ren said, a playful look to her now as she lingered in the memory. Hearing the Bosun yelling at the new crewman snapped her out of it, and Ren's face shifted back to one a bit more serious.

"You or your Niece need anything at all, you just say the word. Short of getting in the Captain's bad graces, mind you," Ren said, looking over her shoulder now at Angelique, her face twisting into disgust as she saw Carrington lurking about her.

"Especially at the cost of that soggy excuse of a navigator..." Ren spat.

Jacqueline followed Ren's gaze and her mood immediately soured. The Navigator had rubbed her the wrong way since she laid eyes on him. He had an insane sort of flair about him that reminded her far too much of the Medusa.

"I doubt with a man such as he aboard you'll have any trouble souring your relationship with the Captain," Jacqueline scowled, fighting to keep her arms crossed and not at her hip, where her frying pan was in the loop where her saber should have been. "I'd watch him. Reminds me too much of someone I used to sail under."

"Already had to drag his ass out of the ocean once today. Surprised he can still muster all that bravado with his trousers soaked through to his skivvies like that. I'll keep an eye on him, but he has more pull with the crew than I as of yet. Keep a weather eye on your niece... he seems to be interested in her. Doubtful many survive his interest..." Ren said, her tone more hushed now as she watched Carrington skip along towards the Captain, her scowl deepening as he pointed towards her.

"I've no idea when, but I can tell I'm going to have to cross swords with him sooner rather than later. Should probably get our spar in before then," Ren mused, looking back towards Jacqueline. "Think it would be poor form to just shoot him when he goes for his hilt?"

"It's always better to get a fair fight in, but if you must, you must," Jacqueline said, shrugging. "Though I am a touch surprised his pride didn't weigh him down so much that the sea could claim him. Perhaps he's pompous enough that the waves refused him?" She thought for a moment, then let it go. Ren probably wouldn't recognize her other saber.

"Shit floats," Ren shrugged, smiling a cheeky grin as she readjusted the bag that had been resting on her shoulder. She was about to speak again when Nate called out to the crew, demanding that they gather. Ren nearly rolled her eyes, knowing he was probably going to pat the crew on the back for taking out two warships and having the ship come out smiling. She wasn't disappointed, but the crew ate it up and they did deserve the recognition. Ren raised an eyebrow at the mention of extra rations of grog, though. She'd heard pirates drank the stuff like water... the idea of it being rationed...

Ren shook her head again and turned back to Jacqueline.

"I trust you've had the chance to speak to the Captain, then? What did he think about having such a famous pirate aboard his ship?" Ren asked, a sincere smile on her face, but one born of naivete. It faded slightly as Captain Sellar's words carried across the deck.

"Lieutenant Thompson, when we are clear do the honours and sink that hulk. I want it on the bottom in twenty minutes. That’s all.

Ren turned on her heels to salute and gave a hearty "Aye, sir!" before turning back to continue her talks with Jacqueline.

Jacqueline smiled a bit at the shouts of the crew, then answered Ren. "Never made mention of it, and I've no intention of telling him unless he asks," Jacqueline said flatly. "The girl that came up chasing me is after the bounty on my head, and if it's half as good as I remember then any man with an inkling for gold would be interested," she added. "If he asks you, for your own sake... don't try to hide it." Jacqueline glanced at Nate and Carrington as they went below-decks. "That's my fight, not yours."

Though she doubted it would be a fair fight. Despite the years away, Jacqueline still doubted she could be beaten with her blade in hand. Practice was sparse with people, but that saber flew in her hands. With its twin, if she ever got it back, she’d be unstoppable once again. Boring, but safe.

Ren frowned at Jacqueline's request, looking over the ship once more before letting out a sigh. "Fine, though yours won't be the only one with a target on their back should word spread," Ren said, looking back at Angelique as she reached into her pocket and once more withdrew the wanted poster, studying it for a moment. The paper was old and the edges cracking from wear and tear, the parchment yellowing and crinkled from getting soaked and dried several times, but what Ren really focused on was the face on the poster. She studied the features of her hero's face, the smug grin on her face and her blonde hair seeming to sway in an assumed wind. 'It really was a good likeness,' Ren thought to herself before handing it to Jacqueline.

"Either way, probably best I not have blatant proof on my person. I get the feeling Carrington is going to be on my back for some time and the less ammunition he has the better," Ren said calmly, turning to walk away before Jacqueline could return it. If Carrington had seen Ren with it as he ran to the Captain like some mongrel to its master, then doubtless he would make mention of it. Best for it to not be on her person should that occur, for the Thuron's sakes.

Walking now to the Gun deck to begin preparations to sink the Illustrious, Ren noticed a vaguely familiar girl tinkering with the long nines. Seeing as Ren was the only woman hired proper and the Thurons were both to her back now, she assumed the unassuming girl here must be the bounty hunter Jacqueline had made mention of. The hell was she doing to the cannons?

"Oi!" Ren called as she started into a jog, double timing to the girl.

"Captain Sellars know you're up here playing with the artillery?" Ren asked, though looked from the girl to the chaser she had been working on. It looked as though the vent had been not only cleaned but polished, and the rope work holding it in place had recently been retied and refitted.

Ren let out a low whistle as she crouched down to get a better look at what Karena had managed to spruce up.

"Apologies, Miss. Handsome job on the vent and the rigging... Even if Sellars is unawares this is far from the tinkering of a novice. Don't suppose you'd be interested in taking a break long enough to assist me in sending that Navy ship down to the depths? Could use a keen eye to inspect the thirty-twos below deck," Ren asked, a grin on her face. She might hold a slight grudge for the girl dogging Ms. Thuron, but she'd be damned if she didn't have a weakness for women knowing their stuff aboard a ship.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington
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After the captain had dismissed Karena and set off about his own business the girl walked towards the cannons he pointed out. They weren’t too bad but had definitely see a lot of battles. The wear was obvious and if they wanted to last longer without the gun captains worrying about a misfire then they needed to be cleaned, at least.



Karena had cleaned and fixed up, the best she could, most of the long nine cannons. She was finishing up one when she felt a touch on her hand that moved up her shoulder before letting go. The girl had stopped worrying about every person that approached her since the ship held a lot of people so her guard was let down when someone had gotten too close.

When the man first touched her hand, the girl tensed up. A million things going through her head at once. Normally, her first reaction would be to either kill the man or at least remove his hand from his body. But she wasn’t in her usual environment anymore. She was on a ship that wasn’t hers at not a part of the crew.

However, if the hand moved anywhere down her back or towards her chest then Karena didn’t care what consequences she’d face. The man was dead. It was already taking every ounce of control to hold still hoping the man would not get too ahead of himself. The girl was not a harlot and wouldn’t be treated as such. Some men tried to take advantage but Karena was trained, very well, how to deal with men thinking she was an easy target. And she made sure each and every person that tried would never be able to take advantage of another girl ever again.

The hand lifted itself once it reached Karena’s should and she heard the man walk off and start conversation with one of the other two women. The girl let out a sigh and made sure to get a good look at the man. Tall, of average build, and glasses. Karena would keep an eye on him. He would not be putting a wandering hand on her again.

Before Karena could shift her mind back to what she was supposed to be working on she heard someone call her out. She stood as a young...girl...came rushing to where Karena was.

"Captain Sellars know you're up here playing with the artillery?" Ren asked and before Karena could answer she looked to observe the work Karena had done before letting out a whistle. The she complimented Karena’s work and asked if she wanted help. She was pretty much done anyway.

“Captain Sellars was the one who assigned me to see to these cannons in the first place.” Karena replied back. Ren smiled at Karena but the mercenary didn’t return it. She noticed Ren speaking with Jacqueline. If she was on friendly terms with the former pirate then that made Ren a potential enemy in the future. But perhaps treating the girl coldly now would possibly make things harder in the future.

So Karena smiled back.

“Sure! Show the way.”

Karena’s lack of good cheer caused Ren’s own smile to fade, but she decided not to think much of it. Young girl trapped on a ship full of men who’d not seen port in some odd months didn’t leave one with much to smile about, Ren supposed. The girl surprised her when she agreed to her request, smiling as she did so, and the grin returned to the lieutenant's face as well.

‘Fake as snake oil…’ Ren thought to herself, having pulled the same agreeable act in the navy hundreds of times. Still, Ren could guess at her motivations for it, and decided to let it slide. The two didn’t need to be best friends, just able to be in the same room without coming to blows. Still, the thought of having more women on board was a cheerful one for Ren, and would rather one of the three or so others not hate her guts right off the bat.

“Splendid,” Ren said, turning and motioning for Karena to follow as she headed towards the stairs leading below deck.

“Ever sail before, miss…?” Ren asked, looking over her shoulder as she began strolling down a hallway at a leisurely pace.

“I’ve been on a ship before. But it never left port. It was used to train upcoming Navy sailors and get them familiar with she ship and everything on it before getting on the real thing.” Karena made sure to keep up. It seemed like the ship held a labyrinth inside of it and she didn’t want to get lost. “Unfortunately, a series of circumstances kept me from graduating the academy.”

“Academy graduate, huh? What was your alias? Mine was Ben,” Ren said, glad to have a shared experience they could talk about. Fortunately, the gun deck was just a few turns from where they’d started. The Captain had given Ren a deadline and she aimed to keep it. Most of the hands were either on deck or at the hold sorting their new cao, only leaving a handful of men to tend to the armaments. The replacement cannons had been secured and tied down, but it had seemed the man weren’t expecting an inspection, both leaning against a cannon at the far end of the deck in idle conversation.

Ren brought up a hand to cradle her face as she let out a sigh of annoyance.

“Wish a few more people on board had been to the bloody Academy,” Ren said, looking over at Karena.

“Go ahead and test one of the cannons, get their attention. Going to need the extra hands if we’re to sink that ship,” she said, though the tone denoted more of a request than a command.

Karena nodded as Ren told her of her alias.

“I didn’t have an alias. My father was high in command. Even though it’s pretty unheard of for a woman to sail I was allowed to at least attend the academy. So I guess I was privileged in that aspect.” Ren then said she wished more on board had been from the Academy. So that meant the majority of the crew were uneducated and untrained? Karena then wondered how did pirates often best Navy commanders and their crew if that was the case?

Karena shook the thought from her head as Ren gave her permission to fire the cannon. It had been quite some time since Karena had the chance to fire such a weapon. The girl walked over to gun and gave it a quick look over. Then she felt her training coming back to her.

There was just a gun battle earlier so the mercenary covered the air vent to choke the barrel and suffocate any sparks that may have remained from previous firings. Karena didn’t want the cannon firing when she wasn’t ready. The equipment for firing the weapon were already lying next to it for convenience and easy access.

She picked up the sponge and dipped it into a nearby bucket of water. Karena then inserted the damp sponge rod into the barrel of the cannon to clear out any hot debris that may have remained in the barrel from previous firings. She remembered the ramblings of her instructor. If you are in the midst of battle then it is best to skip this step seeing as you most likely want to spend as little time as possible readying your next shot. But there was no threat of battle and Karena wanted to let Ren know she fully knew what she was doing.

Karena grabbed a charge from a bag full of them and placed it down the barrel of the cannon. She then rammed the charge down to the base of the barrel using a ramrod and then inserted the cannon ball afterwards. They were heavy as she remembered.

She removed the cover from the air vent and carefully inserted a new fuse. Karena then turned to Ren.

“There you go. The only thing to do is aim and fire.”

Ren smiled at the job Karena did in preparation, any doubts of her having fibbed about the Academy now banished. Ren bent down behind the cannon to inspect the work as well as im, though paused as she aimed down the sights at the Illustrious. She could have swore that she saw someone on deck…

She quickly reached into her coat and grabbed a scope she’d swiped from the officer’s cabins on the Navy ship and looked again, face turning pale as she confirmed men in the navy’s colors with their hands and ankles bound, huddled on the deck of the Illustrious. There’s no way the Captain hadn’t known prior to giving the order. Ren stood and silently pocketed the scope, body tense as her mind raced about what she should do. Killing in battle was one thing, but these men were already broken and stripped of everything but their lives. Ren’s fists clenched tightly, teeth grinding as she mulled over her next orders.

“There are prisoners huddled on the deck. Make their death’s quick and I’ll be in your debt,” Ren said coldly, though she still looked out through the cannon’s window at the ship they were firing at. She wouldn’t insult them by being a coward about this.

“Fire when ready.”

Karena’s eyebrow arched as she observed Ren’s face when she said there were prisoners on the ship they were about to fire at. Was the girl not used to battle? People were killed whether in the midst of a firefight or not.

“I’m afraid there isn’t much such thing as a quick death when it comes to sinking a ship. Not unless a person is lucky enough for the cannon ball to decapitate one. But a ball is small enough to kill only a few. The rest would die by drowning once the ship goes down.” Karena relayed and thought that the captain must have arranged this. “He must have wanted to save resources. The ship is sinking and it’d be a waste to put a bullet in all their heads. But I don’t suppose tying them up would be quicker than just ending them with the end of a saber.” The only reason Karena could think of the captain choosing this method was more of a personal vendetta. It couldn’t have been to give a message. The prisoners were going to sink to the depths, out of man’s range of sight.

Karena took a match and lit the fuse before backing away. “If they have any last prayers then it better be that this projectile is the one that ends them.” Karena put her hands against her ears and then there was a loud blast. Not to long afterwards the sound of exploding and splintering wood could be heard and possibly the sound of men screaming.

The ball hit its mark, slamming onto the deck where most of the crew were gathered. Ren watched grimly as the men wailed and groaned from the blast, slowly removing her hands from her own ears just in time to hear the two men from the other end of the deck come running over.

“Oi! The fuck are-” The one started, but his friend slapped him in the back of the head before he could finish.

“Don’t speak to the new lieutenant like that! You saw what happened earlier to the welp that didn’t speak proper to the Captain.”

“I’m used to it,” Ren interjected, getting the attention of the two men once again, “though slacking off at your posts isn’t too admirable. My associate here managed to load and fire a round before you were aware.” Her tone was biting now, taking her turmoil out a bit on the men before her.

“Seeing as you two can’t do without supervision, you’re to follow my associate’s orders and sink the Illustrious to put the new armaments through their paces,” She barked, turning to look now at Karena, “Sink it fast. I’ll leave it to your judgement how to accomplish it.” Ren had acknowledged how foolish trying to be merciful with artillery was, and instead steeled herself as she resumed watching the deck of the Illustrious.

“Fire when ready. Don’t stop until the sea retakes her.”

Karena nodded before turning to the two men that Ren had put the mercenary in charge of.

“We need to put down that ship fast and hard. Seeing as you two are more experienced at putting down ships I need you to show me where to hit it. And while you do that, it’ll be up to me to see if you are using your cannons proper.” The two men exchanged glances momentarily and briefly looked at Ren. Karena cleared her throat loudly and got the men's’ attention.

“I’d like to do this before the next day comes upon us.” The two men then got to moving and took steps to reload the cannon. Karena observed them do so and made corrections to their routine so they were faster and safer at the same time. Neither of the men objected to another young girl giving them order since they quickly recognized Karena’s skill as fast as Ren had. It wasn’t long before several more shots rang out. The newly formed holes visibly sped up the process of sinking the ship and Karena observed as the men gave her instructions on where to hit a ship so sink it quickly and where to sink it slowly.

Soon not much was left of the Illustrious and everyone watched in silence as the ship vanished beneath the surface of the ocean and was yet another ship claimed by the sea.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson
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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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington
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Karena was relieved to be able to do something on the ship. It meant that, hopefully, she didn’t have to worry about being tossed overboard. But with one worry temporarily dealt with another one wouldn’t cease until much later, if at all. What was she going to do once the ship hit the next port? She had an idea of what she wanted to do; find out any information on Nathan and keep an eye on Jaqueline. If the captain had her leave the ship then there would be nothing left protecting her. But at this rate it seemed like she was being put to use much like Karena was.

A man entered the area and gave a slight bow. Karena glared at him, immediately recognizing him as the man that had invaded her personal space earlier. It was harassment as far as the girl was concerned. He then lay a bloody pistol on the table in front of him and smiled. Despite how hungry she was her appetite was fading due to this man’s mannerisms. Did he not know they were about to eat or how unsanitary blood actually was?

The part about pirates being barbaric seems to be true even on a ship owned by a former Navy man.

He then also placed a pouch of apples on the table after greeting Karena and offered them to eat. Accepting anything from the man would be the last thing Karena would voluntarily do. Even as he pulled one out and consumed it the girl was not coming any closer to accepting the offer. Then the man finally turned to Ren who was the only person, aside from the captain, Karena felt anywhere near comfortable with.

To say that the day and night preceding had taken what patience Ren had left was an understatement. Bad enough she had to dine in the same room as Carrington, but she was nowhere near the mood for conversation with the guy. He’d rubbed her the wrong way since she first met him, and though she’d tried to be as civil as she could, something about the man drew fire to her blood and made her stupid, like she was in the heat of battle anytime the bastard opened his mouth.

She cast a bemused glance at the pistol on the table, eyes barely shifting away to regard the apples, before looking up at the man speaking to her in such a subtle demeanor.

“Disappointed, Mr. Carrington? Would you believe me if I said I even played music for him? We’re to find the time for a duet once the ship is in proper order,” Ren said, taking a seat at the table as well, leaning back in her seat as she felt her muscles relax for the first time since she had stood at the Inn. She nearly fell asleep right then and there. Her sense of spite kept her awake, as well as a fear of letting her guard down with Carrington in the room, weak though it may be.

“Though since you’ve demanded my attention, Navigator, I wasn’t aware the Captain allowed for bloody weapons on the officer’s table. I know I certainly don’t,” She said, glaring at the man, “And I doubt Ms. Thuron or ms. Schneider here care much for it either.”

Carrington didn’t care one way or the other if they partook of his gift. He leaned back and bit into the succulent green flesh of the apple and was delighted to find that it was still fresh. The apple filled the room with it’s sweet aroma and Carrington’s stomach growled in response. Apple were certainly that food that he liked eating, but they only made him hungrier, never satisfying him in the least.

He couldn’t help but note that the younger woman simply glared at him and said nothing. He couldn’t blame her, they did not know one another, and why she was in the officer’s mess was a mystery to him. It would appear that the delightful Miss Thompson was making a great many ripples all around. Everyone had their place, everyone played their part and contributed. The Captain made them the fierce, blood letting pirates that they were. He himself improved morale across the ship, being the sort of man that managed to infuriate and give the men a laugh in equal measure and keeping the tedium at bay. Many of the others had some sort of effect on the crew themselves, and from the appearances Miss Thompson had made apparent so far, hers was devolving into violence and hostility in any situation and favoring any female she encountered.

Carrington smiled brightly in response to her first question as he placed the apple on a plate in front of him.
“Disappointed? Come now Miss Thompson, it would be most unbecoming of a fellow officer to be disappointed that ‘is fellow would be sad to see ‘er punishment cast by the wayside. The news of the duet is equally unsurprising, Nathaniel does love music. We play together as often as able.... I do ‘ope my instrument was not damaged during the fightin’...”, he replied, trailing off with a pensive look as he finished, making it clear the he was genuinely concerned about his instrument, whatever it was, being unscathed.
He shook his mind from such thoughts as Miss Thompson began speaking once more. He gave her his undivided attention as she spoke, and smiled all the more at her hostility. Some part of him hoped they would continue this until one finally snapped and killed the other. He could never imagine either of them finding common ground, but he was better at civility it would seem.

“The pistol is not mine, Miss Thomspon. It belonged to a fat pail of ofal. I believe ye may ‘ave ‘ad a part to play in the woundin’ of ‘is arm.”, Carrington replied, the sadism returning to his smile.

The Navigator slid the weapon towards the First Lieutenant and said, “You wounded ‘is pride more than any might, and I defended yer honor and ruined a mouth that would ‘ave spoken dissent towards yerself. It is your trophy ‘owever, not mine.” The look in his eyes just then was without the typical malice. Gone was the usual sadism and smarmy arrogance. His demeanor made it clear that whatever he thought of Ren herself, he was a man of the ship, and would brook no insolence from the crew, nor violence towards the officers.

“And besides…”, he continued as he stood and made his way towards a cabinet. “There ‘as been more than just a bloody pistol atop the table, and the Captain demands the very best when seated at ‘is table. So by that logic, neither of ye should be seated at it as ye are. And frankly, I do not give a damn what Thuron, and whoever Schneider is, thinks, this is not their mess, nor their home.” He indicated their bloody, dishevelled appearance and then his own, clean clothes and lack of blood, though his bruised chest still shone from beneath his shirt.

Carrington returned to the table, placing a glass in front of both women and one for himself, before filling each glass with a modest portion of wine. He raised his glass in salute and said, “To the Captain, the crew, the Acheron, and to our victory. My the waves be gentle, the winds be fair, and may we live to fight another day, or die without cowardice.” As he finished, Carrington drained his glass in one smooth motion and resumed his seat.

Karena looked at her hands at the mention of how dirty she truly was. She was drawn so much by the mention of food that she didn’t notice. She felt a tad embarrassed at the fact that she neglected to clean herself before coming to eat and even more so that someone else had to point it out. So she had to give the man, Carrington, that point. But it still didn’t come close to making Karena respect the man or even make her comfortable in his presence. At the mention of saying he didn’t know who Schneider was the girl stood up.

“I am the Schneider the lady speaks of. I’m sorry for not introducing myself properly earlier. My name is Karena Schneider.” Carrington came back with some glasses of wine and set one down in front of each of them. Karena had the pleasure of drinking wine only on rare occasions. Like, when she was invited to banquets and the like. This hardly seemed like a special occasion to drink wine but maybe pirates didn’t need any. Karena, indeed, had a lot to learn about them and their ways coming from almost no prior knowledge outside of books and stories that passed by on the occasional bartender’s lips.

Carrington made a toast to the Acheron’s recent victory as well as to the crew and drank before sitting down. Karena hesitantly picked up her glass and drank as well. Not taking the apples was one thing but to refuse to partake in a toast was similar to swiping the back of her hand to whomever was proposing the toast as well as whoever it was for. The wine wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Karena had expected it to be. But either way she didn’t plan on drinking much else than she already had. She was nowhere near comfortable to be tipsy amongst a band of thieves and strangers.

Karena sat at the same time Carrington did after taking a drink and took to thought what the man said before. That he defended Ren in her honor against the man that had struck her before. Maybe Carrington wasn’t a complete ruffian if he still had a sense of honor not only for himself but for others.

“So did the captain say what he intends to once he docks at the next port?” Karena spoke up. “If you don’t mind my asking.”

A brief grimace flashed across Ren’s face as she too looked down at her own uniform, but her hunger and fatigue prevented her from feeling the full levels of embarrassment that she normally would have felt. Even still, she shrugged briefly as she looked away from Carrington, her way of relenting the argument. The story of how Carrington came to be in possession of the aforementioned bloody pistol caught her interest, frowning as Carrington stood to get the bottle of wine. She stopped herself from immediately snapping, her inability to hold her tongue already having gotten her in plenty of trouble today, and instead stewed and mulled over the offending words.

It was true enough that Carrington had seen fit to punish a crewman that she had already seen to, albeit her punishment was no less a violation of the King’s Regulations, but she still felt that the act had undermined her own, as if her dislocation was insufficient when in fact it was calculated. He’d suffer on the spot, as well he should, but he wouldn’t be able to do much besides think of his actions till someone popped the joint back into place, which would give him a second dose of humility. Forcing him to dentures was needlessly cruel, she felt, but for once she decided to entertain Carrington’s perspective. She’d want to bust the mouth of anyone that spoke ill of another officer, true enough, though that still didn’t mean it was his place.

Ren accepted the wine with a nod, still in thought as she swirled the drink gently in its glass during the toast, giving a quiet “here here,” before drinking. The flavor brought her back to the summer garden parties her family would throw on a whim, the wine certainly not of noble vintage, but she’d honestly always hated the taste of such. Anything older than five years merely tasted of forced civility and moldy grapes to her. She took another long sip and waited for Karena’s question to be addressed before finally speaking.

“I appreciate the chivalry, Mr. Carrington, and I hope my previous tone doesn’t give you cause to doubt that sincerity, but the Captain already issued me warning about improper punishments, and I’d thank you to hold to the same standard. Particularly to crewman I’ve already reprimanded,” she said calmly, looking from her glass and back to the navigator. Her tone was measured and she was trying to choose her words carefully. Anger had gotten her nowhere with the man, and spry as she might be, she wouldn’t last a minute in a duel with the lunatic, not in her current pitiful state at least.


As Carrington resumed his seat and poured a little more wine into his glass, he looked towards the young woman once more and offered her a smile and a nod.
“Entschuldigung Frau Schneider… The fault is mine, a good officer would ‘ave introduced ‘imself from the start, but alas, it ‘as been an exceedingly long couple of days.”, he replied amiably and sipped from his glass.“We are ‘eadin’ to warmer waters, no destination yet, but I would presume we repair and restock, take on s’more crew if we find any worth a damn. Beyond that, well… I’d be remise indeed if I told a crewman more than they need know, so forgive me.” He was as friendly as could be given the circumstances, but he didn’t know the woman from a hole in the wall and would be willing to tell her nothing that any crew could figure out.

His gaze returned to Miss Thompson as she spoke, suppressing a smile as she, surprisingly, took on a measured, civil tone with him. He might have laughed it he wanted to provoke her, but now was not the time. They weren’t alone, and he was certain Frau Schneider would leap in to help Miss Thompson if they came to blows. He was significantly larger than either of them, but two woman would have the upper hand in the cramped mess they found themselves in, and all three were wounded and exhausted, he himself slightly intoxicated.

Carrington did smile as Ren finished speaking and nodded in agreement.
“Nathaniel ‘as told me much before, said I’m often too ‘eavy handed, but a cur never learns unless ya rub their nose in shit… As the saying goes. I merely took the liberty because I knew the man would seek revenge against ye, and I could not stand by and let something like that occur, Lieutenant.”

Karena was pleasantly surprised at Carrington knowing any German. It had been quite sometime since she had heard her native tongue. He then answered her question ending that he could not give her anymore information due to her position as a crewman. She was barely even considered crew so she completely understood not being told more detailed information. She often got the same type of briefing from the people that hired her for jobs. Telling her just enough of what was necessary. In response to Carrington’s information, Karena simply nodded as Ren started speaking to him.

As the two spoke Karena felt as if she were looking at two leads in a play and she was the audience. There was a definite flame between the two. A burning flame. The one that would normally cause destruction if left unchecked. Karena would just keep her distance if she saw these two interact each other. She wouldn’t want to be caught in the crossfire. It wasn’t her problem and Karena learned, vicariously, that getting caught up in other people’s issues could get you killed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Josephine Dimas Aguilar
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Nate let out a sigh of relief as the door closed behind Lieutenant Thompson. Slumping back into the chair he had no doubt there would be further teething issues with his new first lieutenant, not to mention the newer members of the crew. Rubbing his temples with his good hand Nate thought that this would only be made worse with Carrington’s natural tendencies. They would have to have another talk, and soon. Nate dreaded going through the same things again and again. If the two insisted on snapping at each other he would have to step in and crack heads together. With things as they were he could not afford any dissidence on his ship. The presence of a potentially dangerous figure only made things worse. Screwing up his eyes and rubbing them hard, Nate wondered if he would have been better floating onwards instead of stopping in the town at all.

Slamming his hand down on the table to force himself back into the present, Nate stood up and stepped back into his quarters. Stopping opposite the miraculously intact mirror that was propped up on a nine pounder cannon that took up a lot of the space, Nate picked at his uniform until he was moderately happy. Frowning at the powder stains, and the slowly spreading dark patch from his wounded arm, he made a mental note to try and find a new jacket as soon as possible. Twisting neatly on his heel he strode through the door and puffed himself up to his full height, steadying himself, before he passed through the door Ren had closed minutes earlier. Blinking in the sunlight he looked around the deck immediately in front of him.

Climbing up to the quarterdeck Nathaniel was happy to see everything was going well. Returning the salutes of the crewmen with his own, he made sure not to notice the odd badly hidden mug of grog the men were drinking whilst they worked. They could be allowed some indulgences today. He made a note to announce tomorrow as a make and mend day, so the men could rest and repair their own things, as well as the great rents in the sails that were worryingly large. At the taffrail Nate stared at the wake of the Acheron. He could never get over how beautiful the sea was, especially on a day like today. The thrill of being alive, the afterglow of the adrenaline, the sunlight sparkling on the wave-tops. It was what he lived for. At that moment he didn’t care whether he ever sank another ship, or took any more money, he simply wished he could remain forever upon the sea, the wind at his back and the sun on his face.

Reluctantly he turned away, moving off to inspect the repairs and the storage work the men had seemingly completed whilst he had been inside. Spotting a man on the maindeck nursing a busted jaw, Nate frowned. Carrington. Doubtless. That talk would have to come sooner than he had planned. Walking around the gangway, Nate looked down onto the gundeck and saw that the blood and splinters had been carefully cleaned away, the final bits of the deck being laboriously holy-stoned by a group of sailors who touched their knuckles to their foreheads and redoubled their efforts when they saw him. Seeing Mr. Peters overseeing the final bits of work at the top of the stairs down into the depths of the ship, Nate walked over, the bosun turning and touching the brim of his hat.

“I see you’ve managed to get the quartermaster to relinquish you a new boater Mr. Peters,” Nate said gruffly. Rashid was not one to let stores out without due cause, and Peters would no doubt be charged accordingly in the great pay book that sat in Nate’s cabin.

“Aye sir. Old one took a cutlass to it on the Illustrious.” Peters mimed the slicing of a cutlass across the top of his new hat, and, if true, Nate saw how close the bosun had come to losing the top of his head.

“Very well Mr. Peters.” Nate fixed the man with a critical eye for a moment, making him squirm in discomfort. “Pipe the men to an early dinner when the work is completed to your satisfaction. Tomorrow will be a make-and-mend. Consider it an early Sunday.”

“Aye sir,” Peters said quickly. “Very good sir. I’ll see to it.”

Nathaniel nodded and walked on towards the fosc’le, turning his eyes upwards towards the rigging and sails. Most of the loose ropes had been replaced and the worst rips in the sails would be dealt with tomorrow. The spare sails had already been prepared to go up when the others came down, and Nate almost smiled when he spotted the lookout staring into the distance with a strained, but determined look. Reaching the head Nate leaned over the rail to inspect the Acheron’s figurehead. Having originally been built by the French before being captured by the Royal Navy, the figurehead was that of lady liberty, her red white and blue cockade a hint at her previous links to revolutionary France. Happy that she was still whole, Nate turned away and strode to the nearest staircase down into the ship.

Walking the length of each deck, Nate inspected each gun, each storeroom, and especially the magazine, but avoided going near the gunroom mess for the time being. On the second deck he stumbled across Josephine. Suppressing an initial flare of anger to find one of his principal technicians asleep whilst there was still work to be done, Nate coughed loudly before booming as loud as he could whilst not shouting.

“Get up Senorita Aguilar, and come with me to the gunroom. I want you a part of this.” Without waiting to see if she responded, Nate turned on his heel and marched off towards the gunroom mess, allowing his annoyance to grow into a seething anger. He would set them all straight now once and for all. He had been easy on Thompson, but in front of the others he would brook no nonsense.

Quickly passing up from the officer’s quarters, Nate went to the door of the gunroom and threw it open, quickly filling the doorway with his massive presence. He took one look at the state of his first officer and the girl sat at the table, as well as the bloody pistol, and had to stop himself from immediately letting out a stream of vehemence directed at all and any who happened to be in front of him. The anger settling into a more manageable state, Nathaniel clasped his hands behind his back and frowned, his eyebrow twitching a little as he controlled his anger.

“I want all the principle officers here in five minutes Miss Thompson. The Thurons as well. Get the quartermaster up from the hold as well. But first,” here Nate pointed a finger at the pistol, “Would someone care to explain this?” Nate left the question hanging malevolently in the air. This kind of thing needed to be stamped out. Setting the precedent for the mess now would save trouble later at least.