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Renata "Ren" Thompson

"Well, at least the pay is better..."

0 · 823 views · located in The Seven Seas

a character in “Making Waves”, originally authored by Bravo_Zver, as played by RolePlayGateway

Description

Name: Renata "Ren" Thompson

Age: 27

Occupation: Former sailor in the Royal Navy

Role: First Mate

Nationality: British

Personality: Ren loves fighting, she loves sailing, and she really loves the freedom to do both. Her temper tends to get her in trouble, but her skills with a sabre and pistol usually get her back out again, along with a little bit of creativity. She's a capable liar, having managed to serve in the Royal Navy for several years while passing as a man. She's also quite pragmatic and level headed, having also managed to evade authorities after fleeing the Navy once her gender was discovered. Her dream is to see what lies beyond the edges of the map, and get drunk off her ass when she gets there.

Appearance: Image
((OC I've had for a while and had a commission done for once, as far as physical descriptions go this is how she looks))

Ren still passes as a man in terms of dressing, binding her chest and wearing loose fitting shirts and baggy trousers, though has one or two cheap dresses in the event she needs a disguise, as well as her uniform from the Navy. Her clothes are atypically dirty, unable to stay in one place for too long to find reliable work. finding money for an inn is hard enough without paying for a bath and laundry as well.

Image

Image

Ren's uniform
Image

Bio: Ren was born to a wealthy family back in England, to a retired Naval officer and his wife. She was always a daddy's girl, growing up loving his stories from his glory days on the high seas, fighting pirates and the French at every opportunity. She grew up practicing as best as she could to join the navy just like her father, learning to shoot and practicing her skills with a sabre as soon as she was able to hold one, and even learned map reading and navigation from her father. She was crushed when she learned that women could not join the navy, unable to see a future for herself by that point that didn't involve the sea. She stole her father's clothes when she felt she couldn't learn anything else about sailing at home, and enlisted under the name of Ben Thompson at the age of 18.

She started at the bottom but quickly proved herself capable, serving in any position she could get into on any ship that would have her in the six years she served, having been promoted to lieutenant shortly before her identity was discovered. The only thing that saved her was the fact that the ship she had served on was at port, and she managed to flee before she could be imprisoned or hanged. She's been on the run for three years now, never staying in one town for too long and always looking for an opportunity to rejoin the navy, but at this point she'd join any crew if it meant getting back out on the sea again.

Other: Ren was named after her Welsh Great Aunt.

Escargot

So begins...

Renata "Ren" Thompson's Story

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: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Fights were common in and around the Lighthouse. A night didn't go by without a drunken brawl of some sort, with the occasional death of course (often at her own hand.) Whatever was going on, the men usually wrapped up on their own. Jacqueline usually left them be.

Tonight was not a normal night, though. Jacqueline felt off as she walked back into the kitchen. Had what Bertie said really gotten to her? No, well, perhaps a little. The older man had a point; the inn was unusually busy tonight. She sighed, and checked the stew.

As she was bringing the spoon to her lips to taste the stew, she heard the boom of a cannon. Jacqueline rolled her eyes. “Such a waste,” she muttered before taking a taste. “Hmm.” She set the spoon down before giving a look around the kitchen. Normally she’d run it for another hour or so, but Angelique already exhausted and needed a rest. After this, she’d shut it down for the night and help Bertie-

*bang! bang!* A few gunshots could be heard right outside the Lighthouse.

Thuron sighed, grabbed her saber from its hook, and walked back out to the floor. “What have les bourriques been up to in the minutes I was away?” she asked her bartender.

“Can’t tell. Looks to be some sort of one sided fight between a smaller man and a group of sailors, though it’s hard to tell from back here.” Bertie shook his head. “Kid ordered a drink and never touched it. Damn shame, too. Waste of good liquor.”

“I’ll check. Would you let Angelique know that we’re closing the kitchen early?” Jacqueline asked, not waiting for an answer. She adjusted her saber on her hip and made her way to the front of the inn. In the diminishing light she could clearly see the rather bloody fight, and hear most of what was left of it. She almost went out to offer the two survivors a drink on the house, but stopped. The light pouring from the inn helped to illuminate the bloodstained naval uniform of the taller man.

Jacqueline scowled and stepped away from the window. She wouldn’t have been surprised if the man came in and started demanding that all of them were to come in for questioning, then blame some sorry sailor for the deaths of the others. She barely registered someone brush past her as they rushed outside.

Or… no, she could have sworn they’d finally lifted the bounty. Even if they had, she had enough in the inn that were loyal to her that she’d be able to fight them off. It had been seven years since she’d last sailed… Jacqueline shuddered. Wrong place, wrong time.
She needed to retain her reputation, anyways. Hospitality to all who came to her doors; a lighthouse is willing to guide anyone who sails safely into harbor. Any money was good money, though she didn’t have to like the previous owner.

Besides, she could hold her own against anyone if they dared to attack her in her own home, especially if they really were navy.

Against her better judgement, Thuron ducked her head out the door of the inn. She could see the other person in the fight running off somewhere; hopefully home. She stepped into the doorway and asked “Are you just going to stand there and wait for the blood to dry, or are you going to come in and get cleaned up?” God, she hated having navy in, but it was better than leaving him for some other group of drunken sailors to fight with. Thuron was fine with the company of murderers; she just tried to avoid having it on her front stoop. “And you,” she said, glancing at the younger man, “look like you should finish a few extra meals, kid.” She looked at the pair expectantly.

“Though if you'd rather take your chances with those sailors’ friends, feel free.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Breathing heavily through his nostrils Nathaniel watched the girl, as he now knew she was, dart away into the darkness. He leant down and wiped his sword blade clean on the jacket of one of his more unfortunate opponents. Some others lay groaning, a dismembered limb or two signified by small humps in the dark street. Gun smoke lingered on the corners, and the smell of gunpowder and blood saturated the air. Allowing himself a slight smirk, and feeling the rush of adrenaline subside into a pleasant high, Nathaniel sheathed his sword and tucked his pistol into his belt. Standing up straight he brushed off his coat as best he could. “Thank God it’s dark”, he thought. The epaulettes on his shoulders still sparkled in the light from the windows of the inn, but the wound on his arm throbbed. He pushed his arm back into the sling as the door of the inn opened.

Light was cast out onto the street, briefly illuminating the scene before it was blocked by two people standing there. As his eyes adjusted to the light Nathaniel made out two women, one older, one younger. The first, the younger spoke. “I just ordered drinks so I’d appreciate it if you kept the killing out here.” Nathaniel’s eyes narrowed in a scowl, though his face remained largely impassive. He pulled himself up to his full height and cast a cold eye over the speaker. Her clothes, a naval uniform, were interesting but of no consequence. Dirty, thin, obviously on edge. If pushed she could snap all too easily, and as a point of principle Nathaniel hated killing women without reason. The sabre she held was more interesting, by her poise it was obvious she knew how to use it. Someone of potential use.

“The ‘child’, as you so called her, is none of my concern good lady.” He kept his tone cold, calculating, with a hint of haughty aggression, just enough to keep a potential opponent on edge. Bringing himself to his full height, Nathaniel stepped further into the light, taking note of the second woman in the doorway again. The expression on her face betrayed an obvious hatred, though she tried to hide it. Good, the uniform had some sway here.

“Are you just going to stand there and wait for the blood to dry, or are you going to come in and clean up?” Her voice was dripping with venom, the attempt at seeming hospitable totally lost on Nathaniel. He barely stopped a smirk breaking out on his face as he fixed her with an icy stare.

“Madam proprietress”, he stepped forward again and spoke in his most authoritative voice. “I would be very glad of some refreshment, but with your permission I would like to make use of your patrons.” Without waiting for an answer he went in through the door, his eyes quickly adjusting to the light inside.

The low murmur of voices immediately died when he stepped in, all eyes resting on him. Some were filled with malice, some fear, some bleary eyed and drunken, though none of that mattered to him. Striding to a table in the center of the inn Nathaniel kicked one of the more comatose patrons out of his way and jumped up onto the table. Turning to look at all the faces staring up at him, he glared back with barely concealed contempt. He fixed his eye on the proprietress, now back inside her inn, before speaking.

“My name, is Captain Nathaniel Sellars, and I am here to recruit a new crew.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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The man scowled at her in response, cementing the fact in her mind that he was, in fact, not a man with a sense of humor. She silently cursed the fact that she was hilarious and swallowed the lump in her throat, but widened her stance and put a hand to her scabbard, preparing to pull the sword out if he should so much as twitch in a way she disliked. She'd have to gamble that he was one of the ones that fired before, and had yet to reload so it would be a close quarters fight. The left arm was damaged, making it the ideal side to flank should a fight break out. She'd lunge, smack his blade to the right as soon as he made a mistake, and deliver the kill from the left before he could recover.

"The 'child', as you so called her, is none of my concern good lady," he spoke, his even tone only slightly denoting his aggression, but he didn't need to speak it for Ren to feel it. The man was danger, and regardless of the coat she knew damn well he wasn't Navy. She braved one more scan of the Inn's property and confirmed what she had seen before.

All the bodies present were older men, and he was alone... did he step in to rescue the kid?

She felt another person walk up behind her, but dared not to take her eyes off of whoever this man was. He didn't seem the sporting type to forgive lapses of focus. A woman's voice called out just behind Ren, “Are you just going to stand there and wait for the blood to dry, or are you going to come in and get cleaned up?”

The invitation surprised Ren, but not enough to loosen the grip on her sabre.

“And you,” she said, “look like you should finish a few extra meals, kid.”

Ren's stomach growled as if on cue, but it wasn't until the man stepped forward, his good hand free of his weapon, that Ren allowed herself to relax. Of ill repute he might be, but he had no quarrel with anyone still living, it seemed. He shouldered past both her and the woman, the cook, if Ren recalled, and muttered something about making use of the patrons. Ren was about to mention how the brothels were down a few streets, but decided to keep her mouth shut.

The man then proceeded to stand on a table, the one Ren had just been sitting at, and declared himself a captain here to recruit for his crew. The name of Nathaniel Sellars rung a bell in Ren's mind, but Ren simply turned to the cook and let out a nervous laugh.

"Certainly a dramatic fellow, isn't he?" She said, sighing as she shut the door behind her once the cook was back inside.

Black Nate, if she was recalling the right name, was one she'd heard many times back in the Navy. There was rumor he was a privateer for the French with the way he would dog British ships near the Americas, but he was most certainly a pirate. A pirate in need of hands to take out to sea.

'I wouldn't have to run anymore...' Ren thought, but shook her head. She wouldn't betray the crown for gold, or for the sea, no matter how sorely she needed both. If she were still so loyal to the crown, though, why was she still staying her hand from her blade? Was she that tempted by the airs of gold and freedom? Had hunger stripped her of what little dignity she had left?

"Have your men ever gone hungry, Captain Sellars," Ren blurted out, subconsciously putting a hand to her stomach as she spoke. The past three years had been harder on her than she thought, it seemed. The question betrayed her interest, but the conflict in her mind was written plainly on her face. If he could promise her food, promise her the open sea...

She wouldn't have to run anymore.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Ivory Emerson
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It had been a long day for Ivory, only just starting to pack up his medical equipment, placing tools in their rightful place. His home was divided so that one side would be for his general living and the other for medical procedures. However he always carried a rather large, wooden case full of his main, most used and needed equipment for sudden spontaneous work that seemed to come up frequently when he was out and about.

The sun was starting to set now, he had seemed to have worked a bit later than usual. Ivory usually tried to pack up early, so he had enough time to eat, and get a good nights rest for the next day. Although he enjoyed helping others, he had to admit this was most certainly not his dream job. As nice as it was to be able to successfully heal another, the burden was far too heavy for his heart whenever he was unsuccessful in saving a life. It frustrated him that his tools and remedies were limited. There was only so much the shop keepers had to offer and only so much they could find. Ivory wanted to explore more of the world, discover new remedies, plants; see what unfamiliar poisons were out there as well as cures. But it was impossible and his family would surely disown him if he were to follow his dreams. Perhaps he was being a tad too unrealistic though. His parents were just looking out for him right? Yes that's what Ivory would keep telling himself anyway.

The day had ended on a low; Ivory was unsuccessful in saving the life of yet another. A girl far too young lost her life, only fourteen years of age. Worse part was that Ivory knew there was no cure for her disease after diagnosis. What is one to do in that situation? Tell the family that he'll do the best he can and give them hope? Or tell them it's hopeless and walk away? Of course he'd give them hope, it was heart breaking knowing the outcome though.

Enough of all that, Ivory wanted to keep the days work off his mind, he was in a foul mood enough already, lingering on such defeats only made him feel worse. Letting out a long, tired sigh, the young man grabbed his large wooden case by the handle, locked up behind him and made his way to the usual place that seemed to be the only place that sold decent food at decent prices. The Lighthouse. Only to suddenly hear a canon go off, gun fire and a heap of yelling. Instinctively, he jumped at the sudden loud sounds that went off just as he left his home; then shook his head in disgust. "Yep. Typical. That's nice just make more bloody work for me, thanks." Ivory scowled, talking out loud to himself. He should be used to this by now.

Although Ivory seemed like the type to run away, considering how jumpy he was; the man knew how to take care of himself. And not just because he was a surgeon, but because his older brother who was a leader of one of the navy fleets had taught him how to defend himself. Something about how scrawny Ivory was and getting him killed someday unless he could defend himself blah blah blah. Ivory had to admit, what his brother taught had certainly come in handy and saved his ass quite a few times.

Ivory walked just a bit further, seeing the Lighthouse up ahead, only to then get distracted by the ships pulling into the harbour. Particularly a rather battered looking ship. The ships reminded him of his brother. He wondered how his family was doing. Anyway, enough distractions, his stomach reminded him he was hungry by letting out a loud, impatient growl. Closing in on his destination now he almost didn't notice the young, blonde girl who suddenly and most swiftly ran right past him. He looked back, watching for a moment as she disappeared into the darkness before shrugging it off and continuing.

"Holy Irish apricots! What- why?!" Ivory exclaimed in reaction to the mess at the front door of his usually most favoured place to dine. He closed his eyes briefly, rubbing them in gentle, frustrated circles with index finger and thumb followed by and agitated sigh. Today was just not his day. He decided to pretend he didn't see those dead bodies laying around as he casually stepped over them, entering the Lighthouse at last.

"My name, is Captain Nathaniel Sellars, and I am here to recruit a new crew."

Ivory suddenly felt tight in the chest as adrenaline suddenly ran through his body. Did he hear that correctly? Was he serious? Ivory was growing excited at the thought of the possibility that this man before him was the man his brother had told him stories of. The man who left all the navy crap behind and became a pirate. Whenever his brother spoke of this man, there was much resentment. There was no way Ivory would ever tell his brother how interested he was in the pirate life. Not unless he wanted to be disowned. And perhaps traveling the seas just wasn't meant for him.

Ivory removed himself from the doorway, staring up at the infamous man who felt as thought he was looming over everyone around him; beaming with confidence, strength and determination. His will was strong. Ivory opened his mouth to speak, but at first, his words came out strained and croaky. Coughing shortly and clearing his throat, feeling mighty nervous by the idea of speaking to this man, he finally managed a clear sentence. "What kind of people are you looking for?" Ivory's sentence was brief and perhaps not very specific, but if this man was looking for meat shields or grunts for battles and the usual shitty jobs then there's no way Ivory would consider joining.

Although he was nervous, he tried holding himself in a confident manner, standing up straight, holding his case close to his side, with his free hand he adjusted his glasses and waited for a reply. Another woman had seemed to have spoken before him though, he'd have to wait patiently.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Ivory Emerson
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“My name is Captain Nathaniel Sellars, and i am here to recruit a new crew.”

Jacqueline grit her teeth and returned the captain’s glare with vigor. It figured that he’d be a damnable captain. Still, at least this meant he wasn't current navy; though she still couldn't stand him. He came off as too self-righteous for that.

“Certainly a dramatic fellow, isn't he?” The younger girl (maybe Jacqueline needed to get her eyes checked, if she’d thought she was a boy) remarked as she shut the door.

“I've never met a captain that wasn't, in some degree or another,” Jacqueline ground out before taking a deep breath. With the recruiting, it was going to be a late night. She couldn't afford to wear herself out with anger this early.

What the girl said next broke her heart. Though it wasn't directed at Thuron, she knew exactly how it felt. Hell, that was half the reason she’d started pirating in the first place.

She noticed Angelique over at the bar, motioning furiously to her. Jacqueline walked midst the tables to the bar and was immediately questioned by her niece and the bartender.

“Auntie, I know you don't like me getting in the way of recruiters but can I please-” Jacqueline cut her zealous niece off.

“No. I'll take care of his table, and you and Mavis can get the rest of the floor.”

“Jacqueline, I trust your judgement, but why the hell are you letting an ex-naval officer in the bar to recruit?” Bertie asked, dumbfounded. “You rarely let navy in here at all, much less captains.”

“Believe me, it was not my decision,” Jacqueline said. “But I’d rather have him where I can keep an eye on him than let him kill half my patrons.”

“Was he the one who was causing the commotion outside?” Bertie asked.

“I was too late to tell, but someone ran off, so I can only assume so. It looked like he saved them.” Jacqueline shrugged. “Still, there are currently six bodies right outside the front door. We can't have anyone running around bloodied.”

“Please, Auntie, I want to take his table! He's bound to have some fantastic stories to tell, and you look like you'd run him through any chance you'd get.” Angelique butted in, pouting.

“Mon ange,” Jacqueline started, but stopped. Her niece was right. Though many of the men shared her sentiment, they also needed work, and it wouldn't do to take their chance of a job away from them in a moment of passion. “Fine. Take him a round on the house of whatever he wants, so long as he gets off the table. Oh,” she added, “don't let the young lady” -here she nodded at Ren- “give you or anyone else any more money. She looks and sounds like she needs it more than us.”

“Sure you’re not going soft?” Bertie only half joked.

“Prepare to be busy,” Thuron told him as Angelique skipped off, ignoring his question. “You know how it gets during recruitment.” Jacqueline glanced back over to the captain, who seemed to have already enthralled the young lady and a young man. She wished she were a drinking woman. She certainly needed a stiff drink, though she knew what it would do to her.
---
“First round is whatever you want, on the house, sir,” Angelique sweetly told the captain after the others had finished their inquiries. “Though my aunt requests you step off the table first, if you please.” Unlike her aunt, she actually liked talking with the navy boys. The younger ones were always so flustered and cute, and the older ones usually had fantastic stories to tell. The pirates and privateers did as well, but the navy men were often far more polite to her, and were easier to wrap around her little finger.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Ivory Emerson
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Nathaniel allowed his words to sink in, casting his gaze around the room over the gathered faces. Some obviously knew, or had heard of, who he was, and he was curious to know what the new rumours were. He put his good arm behind his back and paused for a moment. This was the moment of truth. If any one of these people here spoke out against him then he would have to act fast. Dissention like that spread quickly and could turn the whole room against him. He clenched the fist behind his back. He needed new crew members, and a failure here could well mean the Acheron would not survive very long. With the crew she had at the moment she could sail, but taking another ship was virtually impossible. The ports around here were all guarded, and attempting to cut out any ships would be suicide. The foray into this port was dangerous enough, and a hostile populace could make things go badly very quickly. Staring around the room Nathaniel tried to gauge the feelings of each person he set eyes upon. Many were hesitant, a few simply too drunk to react. Some however, looked decisive.

"Have your men ever gone hungry Captain Sellars?" Breaking the silence it was the girl who had seen him outside who spoke. Nathaniel glared over and appraised her again. The girl had changed a little from the previous bravado. She looked on the verge of desperation, the hand on her stomach saying much about her state of affairs. Looking into her eyes with his icy blue ones, Nathaniel saw turmoil and conflict. Now the questions about the Navy uniform came back into his head. Her loyalties were divided by her desperation. He only hoped she would simply join him instead of try to arrest him.

He could sympathise with hunger. Memories of voyages around the East Indies, with desperate eyes scanning the horizon for land, came flooding back. Even the rats on board had fallen victim to the ravenous hunger of the sailors as supplies dwindled. What little rain there was sustained their water supplies. Barely. He had no idea how they had arrived in Bombay alive. The moral about how fickle the weather gauge was at sea was plain in his mind, and he felt a little shudder go up his spine at the thought.

"What sea-goer has never been hungry on a long voyage? The sea provides a little, but never enough. When the hard tack is dwindling near the end of the journey, who can say they have not wished for food?" Out of the corner of his eye Nathaniel saw a few of the old salts nod knowingly. "Only those who cannot call themselves proper sailors have never been hungry. But rest assured, on my ship, I suffer the same as you. If you are hungry, so am I." He emphasised this by pointing to the room and then to himself. "Pray God that had the desired effect," he thought.

"On the Acheron, we owe nothing to the clerks in London, to the dogs in the Admiralty, to those who would steal our hard won bread from our mouths and call it just. On the Acheron, what you win is yours, and yours alone." The venom in his voice was barely disguised. The Royal Navy he had once loved, he now hated. Not its practices, but it's leaders. Captains and Admirals grown fat off the sweat of honest foremast jacks. Armchair generals who claimed authority over matters they knew nothing about. Politicians who say fit to lay off thousands of seamen at a time simply because it was more 'cost efficient'. Nathaniel hated them all, and he could barely hide it.

Reeling himself in from his momentary lapse, Nathaniel glared at the woman again. A woman. That was another problem. Seamen were notoriously badly behaved around women, and having one on ship would simply be like lighting a powder keg. Besides that, superstition held that women brought bad luck to ships, and so far Nathaniel had found cause to never question sea-going superstition. He would need a very good reason to allow her on board.

"What kind of people are you looking for?" A thin voice from a man Nathaniel had not noticed before. A quick look over him told nothing good. The man was reedy, and could barely form a sentence. However, a closer look revealed all. The hands that the man clasped together looked clean and dextrous, and his eyes seemed to notice everything. Nathaniel's eyebrows shot up in surprise before he could stop himself. "A surgeon? Here?" He thought. My, my, a stroke of luck indeed. The barber surgeon of the Acheron had died the year before, and had never been replaced.

"Why sir I am looking to take any man who can haul a rope, reef a sail, or has the will to be taught how to." Murmurs of assent flowed round the room and a multitude of small, whispered conferrals broke out as many considered the offer. "But, there are other people a ship simply cannot do without... doctor." Nathaniel hoped his observations had been correct, because if they weren't he had just made a horrific mistake in a very public way. As if his eyebrows agreed they dropped into a scowl that focused itself on the young woman now stood at Nathaniel's feet.

"First round is whatever you want, on the house sir." The girl seemed eager to please, and that was immediately irritating to Nathaniel. Drinking was the last thing on his mind at the moment. "Though my aunt requests you step off the table first, if you please."

Fixing the girl with a look of fiery indignation Nathaniel forcibly resisted the urge to say "bugger your aunt" as loudly as possible. Instead he pointedly ignored her, turning back to face the room and stilling the murmured conversations that had begun. He swallowed and tried to fill his voice with as much fervour as possible.

"Now hear this. No doubt many of you have heard stories about me, some may be true, but on the Acheron, loyalty lies with me and me alone. Anything you had before dies the moment you set foot on my ship. Follow me without question or complaint and you will win what you deserve." Nathaniel took a breath, glaring out at the faces turned to him. "My rule is hard, and it will seem harsh, but it will keep you alive, and make you much richer than you are now. On that deck, I am God." Nathaniel winced at the expression, but it carried the meaning he needed. On the Acheron he had power of life and death. The sooner they realised it the better. No Navy court could save them from him if they fouled. "The question you need to ask yourself is, are you worthy of the Acheron? To sail the ship that ran the Channel blockade. To work a gun on the ship that sank two of the Royal Navy's ships of the line. To walk the decks of the ship that have run with the blood of seven different nations." Here he paused for effect. "Ask yourself that question, and if you feel you are, sign up with me and win glory. We will sail at first light"

Finally climbing down from the table Nathaniel sat on a chair next to it as the door of the inn opened again. One of his sailors rushed to him carrying the Acheron's crew log and a large bag that chinked as it was dropped onto the table. With pen and ink beside him, the sailor opened the log and wrote in the date next to the first empty box.

"Now," Nathaniel declared. "Who's first?"

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Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Ivory Emerson
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"What sea-goer has never been hungry on a long voyage? The sea provides a little, but never enough. When the hard tack is dwindling near the end of the journey, who can say they have not wished for food? Only those who cannot call themselves proper sailors have never been hungry. But rest assured, on my ship, I suffer the same as you. If you are hungry, so am I. On the Acheron, we owe nothing to the clerks in London, to the dogs in the Admiralty, to those who would steal our hard won bread from our mouths and call it just. On the Acheron, what you win is yours, and yours alone."

The words resonated inside of Ren's head, bringing with them the memories of Captains eating while the laymen on deck did without. She had been both, and suffering as she did now made her ashamed that she never thought twice about the injustice at the time. Back then she'd only viewed the hunger as motivation to earn her gold buttons, to prove herself worthy, and the way Sellars spoke made it clear that the uniform he wore was not stolen. He was on the run too, just like her, except he decided to stop and punch back.

The connection gave Ren a moment of pause as she thought back on the past three years. Hunted like a dog, starving half to death and reviled by the country she had served, and for what? For daring to risk her life for the crown without the God given blessing of a dick? Was the blood she shed invalid? The sweat any less meaningful than anyone else's on any of the ships on which she served? Was it she that brought shame to her uniform by surviving, or had any sense of dignity been long stolen by the dogs that hounded her? What else did she owe to the goddamn King?

A fire was lit anew in Ren's chest, flame fresh in her eyes as she listened to the rest of the pirate captain's speech, tuning most of it out as she thought now of what to expect of life on a pirate ship. She would have to start passing again, that was a given. She had no desire to fight half the crew day in or day out to preserve her modesty, and she imagined the Captain was smart enough to have had this thought as well. The doctor might be so kind as to lend her bandages, especially if he wasn't looking, but after nearly a decade of surviving the scrutiny of the Royal Navy, she was confident so long as she wasn't caught squatting to piss that she'd be fine.

As the captain wrapped up his speech and made his way back to the door to begin the official recruiting, The silence that filled the tavern was quickly filled with murmuring. Some mulling over the idea of turning pirate themselves, while others were debating how best to contact the Navy. Three men, drunk off of their asses, stood and the leader among them began to shout, "OI NATE YA FUCKIN FRENCH POODLE! THE HELL KIND'VE TRAITOROUS CURS YOU TAKE US FOR?" He bellowed, the two men behind him shouting in agreement.

"You think one fucking speech is enough to make us forget his majesty? You trying to take us for simpletons?"

Drunk as he was, the voices talking about getting the Navy began to grow louder.

"I say we show this shit bag what we think of bloody pirates. What say you all?" another man spoke up, several rising from their tables in agreement, but none seemed armed or particularly eager to rush the very armed and very dangerous Captain.

"And what do you think of bloody pirates? Have any of you met one before today or do you all just swallow the bile King George spews to hide the fact a ship-full of rogues can and has bested his Navy? You hate and are indignant because that is what is expected of you, but there's not one thought or opinion you can shout that you haven't been spoon-fed by someone else. No pirate has ever took coin from your pocket, but the Crown has! No pirate has commandeered your food for their men, but the Navy has! Has any Navy Captain ever come to you and offered you work? A chance at the open sea, to prove yourself a man of worth? No, but a pirate has!" Ren shouted back, her voice harsh as she spoke.

"I served the bloody fucking Navy for six years and have nothing to show for it but an empty belly and scars from men I had called ally. I've fought pirates and I will tell you honest, no pirate has cut me deeper than another man wearing the same colors I wear now! What cause do you have for loyalty, you bunch of drunks? So either sit down or draw your swords, but either way no one is taking a step closer and taking my chance at the sea away from me!"

Ren glared hard at the man who had first started shouting, who scowled back but struggled to find any words to counter her own. Several who were considering joining the crew of the Acheron stood now as well, and unlike the upstanding citizens who were loyal to the King, many of the ill mannered who might be pirate were armed with either sabre of flintlock, which brought a decisive end to the debate. Riding her high from shouting down the drunks, Ren marched over to the log book, stopping only to steal the mug off of another man's table and take a long swig, before slamming it back down and taking the pen Black Nate's pirate clerk had generously provided.

"I would sign if you would have me, Captain Sellars," Ren said calmly, ready to jot down her name and move aside should the captain give his approval. Were he to not, well, a stow away might be hard to find with all the new faces suddenly clamoring aboard the ship, now wouldn't it?

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Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Ivory Emerson
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Nathaniel rested his bad arm on the table top and placed the other in his lap. The crewman sat next to him at a respectful distance, thumping the crew log down on the table and opening it to the end. Some of the more recent names now had some new additions next to their details, 'deceased'. Looking away, Nathaniel locked eyes with the young woman who had spoken before. There was a fire in her eyes that gave him pause. He suddenly wanted to know more about her. The Navy uniform he had noticed before obviously had a story behind it, a story which fueled this fire. If she signed up, he would have to find out. Knowing what drives people is one step towards directing or controlling them. Having her under his control could be useful, very useful indeed.

"OI NATE YA FUCKIN FRENCH POODLE! THE HELL KIND'VE TRAITOROUS CURS YOU TAKE US FOR?" The sudden shout stilled the room, which had up until now been buzzing with quiet conversations. Many of the men who had been animatedly waving their hands towards Nathaniel and his crewman now froze, staring at the man who spoke. "You think one fucking speech is enough to make us forget his majesty? You trying to take us for simpletons?"

Narrowing his eyes, Nathaniel glared daggers towards the man, hoping that the ice in his stare would be enough to frighten the man into submission. He had no real desire to fight on in this place when it held the potential for so many new recruits. The man was obviously drunk, the same as those behind him. No real threat then. The only vague problem he posed was that his shouting about treason was putting people off joining the Acheron. His scowl deepening, Nathaniel reached across under the table and pulled the pistol from his crewman's belt, holding it in his lap out of sight.

About to rise and threaten the drunk into submission, Nathaniel was stopped into his tracks when the young woman shouted the drunk down. "And what do you think of bloody pirates? Have any of you met one before today or do you all just swallow the bile King George spews to hide the fact a ship-full of rogues can and has bested his Navy?" Nathaniel nearly smiled. He hadn't heard anyone speak this way about King George in a long time, and he had certainly not expected it from the desperate girl. he had guessed that the Navy uniform indicated some semblance of remaining loyalty, but now it appears he was wrong. But maybe it had before now, and simple desperation had caused her switch. Another question he wanted answering.

As the girl marched over to his table, Nathaniel fixed her with a hard stare, one eyebrow raised questioningly. "I would sign if you would have me, Captain Sellars." Her words answered a couple of his questions at least. But could he take her? Desperate people were always a risk, and a woman even more so. It wouldn't be the first time the Navy planted a spy in his crew. Though, maybe even they weren't stupid enough to send a spy in a naval uniform. Maybe. He would have to watch her closely. But first things first.

Nathaniel stood and placed the pistol on the table calmly. Walking around to the other side, he nodded almost imperceptibly to the girl in thanks, then strode to the drunk man, picking up a tankard as he went. The man tensed up as Nathaniel approached, but Nate held out the tankard as if to give the man a drink. Suddenly Nathaniel brought the tankard up and smashed it on the man's head, the pewter bending and the remaining ale flying out. The man crumpled, but Nate brought the tankard crashing down again and again until it was just a twisted lump of metal covered in spatters of blood and brain matter.

Breathing hard and with his eyes blazing, Nathaniel stood up straight and dared anyone else to face him by glaring around the room. Dropping the crumpled tankard he strode back to the table and sat down, focusing his attention on the girl again.

"We'd be glad to have you on the Acheron Miss..?"

"Thompson, Ren Thompson, sir" Ren answered, undeterred by the display of violence. Ren was surprised she got five words out before Black Nate shot the bastard.

"Formerly Lieutenant Ben Thompson of the Royal Navy. I'll answer to either moniker, Captain."

Nathaniel raised an eyebrow. "'Ben' Thompson? Then a few of my questions have been answered." Nathaniel leaned back in his chair and rubbed the wound on his left arm which was throbbing violently. He had to be more careful till this damn thing healed.

"Tell me Lieutenant. How long did you serve? Where did you sign on? And how in God's name did you do so?"

"For six years, sir, aboard the HMS Thunderer, The Dragon, and the Dublin respectively. As to how... You probably know better than most how imperceptive Navy-men can be to the unexpected. So long as I didn't squat to piss and stayed in uniform, I was free to serve. Wasn't found out until the doctor I'd been bribing fell ill and his apprentice took over. Refused a bribe, I conked him over the head and stole a lifeboat. That was near three years ago now," Ren answered, a slight air of pride in her voice until she got to the doctor bit.

Nate nodded, he did know how unobservant sailors could be, but he was still surprised that living cheek by jowl no one had ever suspected her. That was a story for another time. The list of postings was impressive enough, but he wondered at her performance. True, her promotion to Lieutenant said a lot, but he had met many bad ones in his time. Killed a few too. Regardless, that would be seen when she was on board.

"Well Miss Thompson, it would appear you are a resourceful and talented officer. I would be glad to have you on the Acheron as my First Lieutenant." Here Nathaniel gestured to the log. "Make your mark, name, birth-date and so on, then sit by me. Weigh in your opinion on any potentials."

"Aye sir, thank you sir," Ren replied, taking the pen and supplying the requested information. She signed her real name, desiring for it to be in at least one ship's register regardless of whether she had to dress as Ben on deck, and took a seat at Captain Sellars table.

"If I get a tankard you're not going to bludgeon someone with it, right?" She asked, smirking as she lay her knife on her lap in case someone decided to try something besides signing.

Nathaniel whipped his head round in a flash, fixing Ren with an icy glare. "Miss Thompson you will refrain from such familiarity outside of the Gun Room mess or in my own cabin. I expect from you the same level of decorum as the Navy did. Only I will reward you for it if you do your duty." He allowed his words to sink in for a moment. "Is that understood?"

"Aye, sir. Sorry, sir," Ren immediately responded, saluting out of habit. The rumors of pirates being wild and free were greatly exaggerated, it would seem, but at least now she wouldn't have to wear a powdered wig.

"You are free to drink lieutenant, but stay sober enough to do your duty." Nathaniel barely stopped himself from laughing at the crestfallen expression on her face. He knew what she had been expecting and he was glad to dash those ideas early. Naval discipline was what had kept the Acheron and it's crew alive all these years, as well as rich.

Raising his good had Nathaniel waved at the serving girl. "Mademoiselle, a drink for the lieutenant and myself."

Black Nate was strict, and a terror if he caught you out on the open sea, but was actually less of an ass than some of the captain's Ren had sailed under before. She'd seen a man flogged for improper mopping. A few cold glares she could handle.

Looking out over the men that had begun to line up, the only real opinion she had for the most of them was how unremarkable most looked. Nearly all were weathered old salts who were either broke or on the wrong side of the law already. They'd prove their worth on the ship soon enough, and based on how fresh the wound Nate was fidgeting with on his left arm, she imagined they shouldn't be too picky.

In fact, the only face that caught the lieutenant's attention was that of the comparatively scrawny man whom Nate had pegged as a doctor during his speech, though hadn't really moved much since the signing began.

"The man with the glasses over there, you had him pegged as a doctor after he spoke up, right, sir? I'd trade a good many sailors if he's more than just a glorified cutter," Ren commented, looking back to her Captain. "Maybe taking a look at your arm would be a good way to test that, if I may be so bold, sir."

Looking over at the man Nate nodded. "If my suspicions are correct you may be right. Our last barber surgeon died a couple of years ago. A new one would be very useful." The man still didn't look like much, but appearances can be deceiving as Nate well knew.

Looking the man straight in the eyes Nathaniel waved him towards the table.

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Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Jacqueline resisted the urge to down a few drinks as the captain did his little spheal. She looked at the desperation in the lady's eyes, the hope in the young man who had just come in, and thanked God that she no longer had to sail to make ends meet. Just the thought of the open sea made her cringe. She doubted anyone could pay her enough to get her back on a ship.

“Especially with someone who thinks he owns the world,” she thought and scowled.

Angelique stormed back to the bar. “Okay, Auntie, you win. You can have his table. I'm done.” She sat down on a stool and set her head upon the bar. “I' can't believe he ignored me!”

“He’s full of himself,” Jacqueline stated. “I'll tell Mavis to take his table, though it looks like we won't need to go by often.”

“Least, not for ‘im,” Bertie noted. “Though I bet ‘is new recruits’ll want to celebrate.” Angelique, still sulking, went off to serve other tables.

Jacqueline called for the other serving girl, and gave her the instructions. God, she was glad she didn't have to set foot on a ship again. Though her inn could be rough, it was home, and-

Jacqueline had been wrapped up enough in herself that she completely missed the sailor’s insults upon the captain and only saw him beat the daylights out of the man with a tankard. She made as if to stand up, but the bartender stopped her.

“The bastard deserved it, Jacqueline,” he told her calmly.

She grit her teeth and sat back down. “Merde. I swear, I must be getting old,” she grimaced.

“Not as old as me. You've still got plenty of time to live the rest of your life. Though, it's crazy that we finally found someone who hates the Navy more than you,” Bertie chuckled, pouring a drink for a man down the bar from them.

“I don't recognize his name, but I know that ship,” Jacqueline frowned. “I've definitely heard stories float around about the river of pain it trails behind.”

“You can't say much on that,” Bertie grinned, sliding the drink down the bar with ease. “You've caused your fair share of hurt, slashing through those who stood in your way.”

“Yes, but I had captains who were willing to admit they were fallible!” Jacqueline slammed her fist on the bar, starting some of the drunks around them. She lowered her voice. “I would never have sailed on a ship that was a monarchy!” she hissed.

“You weren't thinking of joining him, were you?” Bertie cocked an eyebrow.

Jacqueline looked at him incredulously. “Are you mad? No! You couldn't threaten me enough to get back on a ship. I'd rather hang than see nothing but open waters again.”

A few patrons glanced over uneasily at the mention of hanging, and she waved them back to their drinks. Bertie filled two drinks for Mavis to take to Ren and the Captain (“On the house, right?” “Yes, though tell them it's compliments of the bar. He won't take it from her.")

After a moment, Bertie spoke up. “I think maybe you should let me close tonight.”

“What?” Jacqueline blinked. “No, are you mad? I'll close. I always close.”

“You're wearing yourself out, getting worked up.” Bertie placed a hand on her shoulder. “Besides, you deserve a night off.”

Jacqueline eyed Bertie suspiciously. She stood up. “No. I've worked too hard to take off. I'm closing.”

“Alright, alright,” Bertie said. “Thought I would offer. Oh!” he added, smacking the bar lightly. “Would you mind watching the bar for me in a little bit?”

“I suppose not,” Jacqueline replied slowly, raising an eyebrow. She trusted Bertie, yes, but she'd been betrayed countless times. She'd have to have Angelique see what he was up to on his errand. “Just let me know.”

With that, she left the bar and went to the window. She could still make out the bodies outside in the dark. The local police would have a field day with this, and if the navy caught wind? Not that she wasn't up to the challenge, but the whole thing felt fishy.

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Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Taking a second look at the thin, reedy man, Nathaniel suddenly had second thoughts. It did not happen often, but when it did it always worried him. Over many long years he had learned to trust his instincts, but he hated looking like he changed his mind with the wind. A commander like that will like as not get you killed faster than simply walking up to an enemy and baring your chest. Glaring at the man Nathaniel shook his head. “Not this one Miss Thompson. We will find a surgeon more suited to a man-o-war.” Sitting up straight Nathaniel shook his head again more vigorously. “A man-o-war is no place for the weak or the timid.” The man sank back into the crowd, and Nathaniel followed him with an icy stare.

His gaze was distracted by the passing of the barman. The man pushed his way through the crowded inn and left by the front door. Where was he going? To summon the authorities? To warn the navy? Nathaniel was surprised they had not arrived already, but the potential threat of the barman was not one he could ignore. Though it seemed someone else could not either, as the girl who had fluttered her eyelashes so prettily at him earlier slunk out after the barman. Raising his eyebrows Nathaniel turned his gaze on the owner, still stood behind the bar. There was more to her than he had thought, maybe enough to pursue should he ever come back to this place.

The noise of the men lining up to join the crew of the Acheron brought Nathaniel back to his senses. Turning to face them again he gestured to the crewman with the ledger. “As I said gentlemen. Sign your name and make your mark. We shall see if you’re cut out for the Acheron.” Most of those who had come forward looked like old salts. Good. They will definitely be useful.

Suddenly anxious to see how quickly things were progressing with the Acheron, Nathaniel decided now was the time to go. “Lieutenant Thompson, deal with things here, I am going outside.” He didn’t look at the woman as he gave the order. If she questioned him things would end here and now. He needed people who would obey him unquestioningly and immediately. That way he could keep them alive. Standing up Nathaniel made his way to the door, the crowd parting like Moses at the Red Sea for him as he did so. With a final look back towards the proprietress, he opened the door and stepped outside into the darkness.

Stepping away from the inn and towards the docks Nathaniel noticed the masts of the Acheron over the shipyard, the rigging swarming with frantically moving men. From where he stood it seemed much of the damage had already been repaired, however, he knew the ship would need a new copper bottom soon. Where on earth would he get one of those? Maybe they would sneak into another Royal Navy supply base and ‘requisition’ one as one of His Majesty’s ships. That might work, but after tonight many bases would be alerted to his presence. Nathaniel would need to take the Acheron far away to finish repairing her.

Nathaniel was snapped out of his reverie by a whistle to his right somewhere along the dock. The first few bars of ‘Hearts of Oak’ echoed a little on the stone, but Nathaniel heard it clearly. He replied with the first bar of ‘Rule Britannia’. As the notes died away, the shapes of eight men arose from the darkness around the docks, the able-seaman Mr. Dogood leading them. Nathaniel smiled to himself. Now was definitely the time. So far, all was going well.

“Mr. Dogood, I’m glad to see you safe and sound. Do you have anything to report?”

Dogood shook his head. “Nothing sir. We passed a few guardsmen on the way here, but they took us for ordinary sailors and let us be.” Dogood fingered the long knife on his belt, “but we did have to silence one of them who got a good look at us. Saw our weapons you see sir.”

“I assume you dealt with the body?” Dogood nodded. “Good. Then we continue as planned. I have a good number of new bloods in that inn there,” Nathaniel pointed, “and Carrington is well underway repairing the Acheron.” Pausing for a moment Nathaniel thought of something which would raise his men’s spirits. “Mr. Dogood, you will take your men and create as much chaos as possible. Loot, burn, kill. You have free reign.”

A grim smile spread across Dogood’s face, and those of the men behind him, who started pulling weapons from their belts. “Aye sir, we can do that.”

Nathaniel raised a warning finger. “But, if you are faced with significant opposition you will retreat to the Acheron. Also, when you hear a signal cannon you will return to her. Is that understood?”

“Aye aye sir.” Dogood saluted, the grin never leaving his face.

“Then get to it Mr. Dogood.” Dogood nodded and made to pass his captain, but Nathaniel put a hand on his shoulder, “and Mr. Dogood. If you find any good wine, bring it to me.” Nathaniel took his hand off Dogood’s shoulder and stepped back as his men went past him. “Always keen to get stuck in,” Nathaniel thought.

Turning back towards the open sea, Nathaniel could swear he heard a ship’s bell. The sound, imagined or real, sent a shiver down his spine. Was the Royal Navy ship they had left behind still hunting them? How could they have found them so soon? If the bell came from another ship then God help them when the Acheron blasted its way out of the port. “The time is now,” Nathaniel thought, and he strode back to the inn, barging the door open with his good shoulder.

Nathaniel took in the scene of Lt. Thompson questioning a potential new crewman, the crewman with the log furiously scribbling, and the small group of those already signed on who were drinking behind the table. Clearing his throat Nathaniel shouted. “We have run out of time. Those of you who wish to join the Acheron but have not yet signed on come with me now. You will have your chance to make your mark later.” He fixed his eyes on Ren. “Lieutenant Thompson, bring up the rear and get any stragglers moving, the Acheron is leaving immediately.” With that he stepped out of the door again and strode towards the shipyard. Already some of the houses closer to the docks were aflame, sparks flying onto the houses around them and the sounds of screaming rising above the town. Somewhere a bell was ringing, and the frantic barking of dogs could be heard. As if in response Nathaniel quickened his step, driving himself towards the shipyard, not caring if any of the men had followed him or not.

On reaching the shipyard Nathaniel took in the sight of the Acheron, her hull patched, her sails replaced and her hold full of supplies. Striding through what was left, he kicked over a barrel of gunpowder and hefted it, spreading it around the spare supplies liberally before throwing the barrel back into a storehouse. Turning back to the ship Nathaniel caught sight of Carrington, the Sailing Master. “Mr. Carrington, we will be departing shortly so ready her for sailing as fast as humanly possible.” Clambering up the side of the ship, Nathaniel stood on the deck again, feeling much more at home even amongst the chaos. “And meet the new first lieutenant,” Nathaniel gestured towards Ren, who was pushing the new recruits towards the gangway. “She should do well for us.” He then turned away from Carrington and strode to the quarterdeck, taking his holy position above the rest of the ship. Truth be told, he was having fun.

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Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington
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It struck Ren as a might odd for Black Nate to suddenly lose interest in the doctor so suddenly but trusted in his judgement. Wouldn't do for her to start questioning her captain before she'd even seen his ship, and from what little time she'd spent in his company he'd already proven himself to be perceptive of others. So, with a quick nod, Ren resumed eying up the potential new crew members as the Captain had ordered.

She limited herself to the single tankard as time went on, heeding the advice of staying sober, but was surprised when a bowl of stew she hadn't ordered came out for her. The serving girl had been coy about it, but insinuated it was the cook's doing, which left the woman even more perplexed. Times were hard for the honest and the hard-working, and charity was more of a sermon than a practice in Ren's experience. She eyed the bowl for a moment or two, and cast a suspicious gaze back towards the kitchen before putting the bowl to her lips and letting the aroma flood her senses. She could almost pick out the spices in the broth, the warmth of the bowl bringing a much needed relief to her cold hands.

"The cook has my thanks, miss. I'm in her debt, and it is one I shall remember should we come back to port," Ren said to the waitress, pausing for a moment as a thought crossed her mind.

"The Acheron could probably accommodate another cook if they are interested," Ren said innocently as she took a sip of the stew and ignored the lump of potato that nudged by her nose as soon as the bowl tilted. The flavor was rich, all of the ingredients flavors mixing yet pronounced. It might have just been her empty stomach, but she felt the wooden bowl wasn't grand enough for the skill held within. She might've been tempted to stay here as a waitress herself if it meant free meals, but even in the fantasy she knew she'd never be satisfied on dry land.

"Captain, this stew is fanta-" Ren started, but held her tongue as the Captain spoke, asking her to stay and oversee things here while he went outside. Been too long since he'd seen his ship, she figured, but saluted and turned her attention back to the line of people wishing to sign on, greedily eating her stew as she did so.

She only recalled turning a handful of people away. A few drunks who looked like they hadn't lifted anything besides a bottle in years, a few young boys wishing to taste adventure without fully realizing what that meant, but she was fortunate in most of the candidates being qualified sailors to begin with. One boy was being particularly stubborn about his being told 'no' when the Captain returned, and declared that the time to board ship was now. Anyone not in the log book but that still wished to join was to follow to be sorted once they left port. Ren had the boy by the shirt collar before he could take the first step.

"A pirate ship is nowhere for a lad to learn his knots, how to sail, how to kill. You wait by the docks, find yourself a merchant vessel short on hands, and start there. Learn all you can, and if the sea and the life of a pirate still calls to you, you might live long enough to enjoy it... but it isn't this day," Ren said calmly, but the boy struggled to escape her grip, clawing at her hands with desperate swipes of his hands and delivering a few kicks to her legs in an effort to free himself. She struck him once across the cheek with the back of her hand, slamming his arm down onto the nearby table and drew out her knife, stabbing deep into the wood table. The boy let out a cry, but realized as Ren walked away from him that the blade pinned his shirt sleeve to the table and nothing more, though try as he might the blade refused to budge.

"Proprietress? I apologize for not knowing your name, but you seem the charitable sort. Caught you a new dishwasher, and feel free to sell the knife to settle my bill. You've a good heart and I apologize for the excitement this evening," Ren called out to Ms. Thuron, waiting patiently as those bound for the Acheron embarked. She held up the rear, hand on her sword handle to dissuade any whose name had been written but found himself a coward in the final hour. She couldn't help but feel relieved when she made it to the ship's dock and hadn't had reason to draw her blade. She could hear the screams and see the flames in her peripheral vision, but dared not to look lest she lose what nerve she'd drummed up for this. She'd accepted the terms of her new life, but time would be needed before the carnage was familiar to her, especially those of innocent folk. That she made no attempts at stopping the raid spoke volumes about how much of her former self she'd let go of already.

She was the last to board, wanting to ensure no one got cold feet even at this stage, and regarded the Captain with a grim nod as he took the full mantle of his titles and began issuing orders. Ren did as well, but took care to only speak to the newly recruited, not feeling bold enough as a newcomer to bark orders at the established veterans until the Captain made her position of Lieutenant more widely known.

"Haul up the gangway and get to moving! You wouldn't be here now if you didn't know how to set sail, so find the slack and get to work! Captain said we're to leave immediately, and I fear for the source of any delay under his gaze!" Ren called out, pride seeping into her voice as she started to feel her stride return. The creak of the wood beneath her feet, the smell of the canvas and the salty air, the shifting of the ship beneath her feet... She hadn't felt at ease in three years, but the Acheron was the first taste of home she'd had in a long time.

"Mr. Carrington, we will be departing shortly so ready her for sailing as fast as humanly possible. And meet the new first lieutenant. She should do well for us.”

The words caught Ren's ear by surprise, turning towards the Captain but had not been paying attention to whom he'd been addressing. Being a pirate, she doubted he'd have qualms about introducing himself when he took a notion, so Ren headed up closer to the Captain before saluting.

"Captain! I've set the new recruits to the stations where hands seemed lacking, but preparations seem to be going at a brisk pace. Any specific orders or should I join the men with the grunt work?" Ren asked. She didn't know Nate well enough yet to presume his will, and thought it better to ask permission than beg forgiveness until she did.

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Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Angelique stepped quietly behind her old friend, trailing far enough behind that Bertie wouldn't see her, but close enough that she could see the guilt in his gait. He moved quickly through the night, towards the nicer part of the port where the Navy usually docked. The teen ducked behind some shipping crates when Bertie finally stopped and pulled her dark shawl out of her skirt. She covered her blonde hair so as to blend in better with the night, in case any passerby decided to glance between the crates.

“Stevenson. I see you've decided to honor the deal?” A voice Angelique didn't recognize muttered from in front of the crates.

“Y-yes, sir.” Bertie’s voice, though a far cry from the the jovial tone he usually carried. She'd never heard his voice like this before. Angelique shuffled closer to them, being careful to stay hidden.

“And is the Serpent’s Teeth in the Lighthouse?” The other voice definitely carried authority.

“Currently manning the bar, sir. A-and there's a bunch of other pirates as usual…” Bertie trailed off.

“Good, Stevenson,” the other voice murmured. Angelique took a quick peek and saw the navy blue of, well, a Navy captain. She stifled a gasp as she ducked back behind the crates. The clink of a sack of coins could be heard from her hiding place. “You'll get the rest when Thuron burns.”

Silence.

“Begging your pardon sir, but burns?” Bertie asked. “I thought the agreement was that-”

“Agreements change all the time for pirates, don't they Mr. Stevenson?” The captain’s voice became dark quickly. “Be glad we're honoring even part of ours.”

“Y-yes, sir.” With that, the captain’s steps clipped away. Angelique was frozen behind the crates. Her aunt, burn? Sure, she knew her aunt was no saint, but no one deserved death by flame. She had to go back and warn them. She peeked out, and-

“Angelique, I know you heard that.” Her old friend couldn't even look her in the eye as he spoke.

“You backstabbing son of a bitch!” Angelique cried, unable to hold it in any longer. “You had no right to sell out Auntie! She trusted you! She cared about you! Do you have any idea what you've done?” With each exclamation she stomped closer to Bertie until she was arms length from him. Tears burned her eyes. She raised her hand to slap him, but felt some resistance. Someone had grabbed her wrist from behind.

“‘E knows exactly wot ‘e done, miss, an’ ‘e don't give two shits ‘bout your Auntie,” a deep voice rumbled behind her. The man pulled both her arms behind her and grasped them firmly together with one meaty hand. “All ‘e cares for is th’ gold.”

“You bastard!” Angelique yelled, struggling against the big man’s hold. She surprised him by ragdolling and managed to throw him off enough to escape his hold. She regained her balance quickly and sprinted in the direction of the Lighthouse.

“After her!” she could hear in a deep rumble behind her.

She prayed she’d make it in time.

----

“The lady says she’s in your debt, ma’am,” Mavis related to Jacqueline. “Absolutely loved the stew, nearly ate the bowl it came in.”

“Always good to hear,” Jacqueline said, glancing frequently at the door as she mixed drinks. She had caught the captain's eye a moment ago, and while that and the compliment from his new first mate had repaired her ego somewhat, she was still concerned about Angelique. And Bertie, though for completely different reasons.

“Yeah, said somethin’ about needin’ another cook, too,” the waitress added. “Op, got a table wavin’ me down.” She rushed off to handle another table’s order.

Jacqueline raised an eyebrow at the cook comment. There was no way that had been made without reason in front of Mavis. No, that was a nudge that Jacqueline had been given before. And she'd bitten that bait before, too. Not today, and especially not with someone as high and mighty as Sellars in command.

Time went to a crawl for Jacqueline after Sellars left. She went between glancing at the door for her niece and watching the girl recruit sailors for the Acheron. It took most of her willpower not to burst into the night looking for her angel. She almost felt relieved when the door opened what felt like ages later, but was disappointed to see Sellars return and announce that they were boarding ship now. Angelique never took that long when getting information. If she'd been kidnapped, or worse, well-

She was knocked out of her murderous thoughts when she heard the boy screech like a stuck cat. The first mate called over to her. "Proprietress? I apologize for not knowing your name, but you seem the charitable sort. Caught you a new dishwasher, and feel free to sell the knife to settle my bill. You've a good heart and I apologize for the excitement this evening.”

“No need to apologize, and no worry for the bill. You're always welcome in the Lighthouse,” Jacqueline called back to the girl as the crew filed out. “Good heart, huh,” she muttered to herself as she walked to where the boy was stuck. The idiot was still trying to get free of it, but to no avail.

Jacqueline slammed one hand down on the table to get his attention and grabbed the knife handle with the other. The boy jumped.

“If a lady gives you sound advice, you follow it, understand?” Jacqueline hissed as she pulled the knife out of the table. “Now, out with you. Go home.” Not that she couldn't use a dishwasher, but that would mean letting someone else interested her kitchen, and she was a bit too preoccupied with the issue of her niece to threaten the boy anymore.

The boy fled pretty quickly after that, presumably for his house. Through the open door Jacqueline could see flames licking the buildings not too far from her inn. Typical pirate behavior. She'd been lucky enough never to partake in razing. Her hand went to the saber still on her hip at the screams. She sighed, letting her shoulders sag. Nothing she could do now. The flames would peter out by morning.

She made to shut the door when, of all people, her niece burst back in. Her blonde hair was unkempt, her shawl gone, and she was completely out of breath. Jacqueline ushered Angelique back into the kitchen.

“What happened?” Jacqueline asked, getting her niece water.

“Bertie sold you out,” the girl gasped, clutching her side. “Navy wants you to burn. Something about the Serpent's Teeth. Got caught, had to run.”

Jacqueline nearly smashed the glass in her hand. “Merde! Did they hurt you?”

“No, but I barely shook them off,” Angelique took the glass from Thuron and gulped down the water. “Thought I was too late when I saw the flames, but they were on the other side of me.”

Jacqueline paced around the kitchen. She never thought she'd be called that ever again. With the Navy on her heels once again, she had no choice but to run. She couldn't leave her niece on her own, not like she left her brother.

“Go pack your things, Angelique,” Jacqueline stated sharply. “On your way up, if anyone's left, have them clear out.”

“Aren't we going to make a stand, Auntie?” The girl had regained her breath, along with her fire. “We can stay and fight!”

“Not against the Navy,” Jacqueline said, putting the knife in her belt and grabbing her frying pan. “Now go pack as small as you can.”

Angelique almost argued further, but one look at her aunt told her it was not the time. She bolted out of the kitchen.

“Oh, brother, she's too much like you,” Jacqueline sighed as she took a last look at her kitchen. She would miss it dearly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington
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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: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington
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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: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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Angelique was not expecting any of this.

The bullets, the yelling, the death, the blood- and in such amounts! They had been mentioned, yes, in the numerous stories she'd solicited from sailors young and old, but not like this. She could handle blood, but not in such large numbers.

She glanced frantically at her aunt, who looked as in her element as she was in the kitchen. Angelique blinked hard and grit her teeth. She might not have her gun, but she could at least patch up some of these people. She pulled some cloth and tied a tourniquet above Karena’s bullet wound, then checked her pulse. Stable and fine, as long as she didn't lose too much blood.

In this, she caught the eye of a dashing pirate, though she was too freaked to think much of it. Instead, after the man whispered to Ren, Angelique rushed over to help the Lieutenant with her wound. “Don't mind my aunt,” she told the older girl, more to keep herself from freaking out than the other. “She understands more about girls than boys when it comes to stuff and things.” She peered a bit closer to the wound. It was blessedly shallow. She'd seen worse when some prick broke a chair and her aunt threw him into the broken remnants. “Long as you compliment her food an’ don't ask for snails she'll think you're okay.”

The fancy pirate let out a yelp, and Angelique nearly jarred Ren’s arm. She whipped her head around, but it was only a hole in his coat. Shame, too. She’d have to offer to fix it if they stayed.

Jacqueline, on the other hand, was completely expecting this.

She couldn't have cared less about the captain’s rage. Either he would kill her when they got out to sea, or they'd maroon the pair somewhere. If she was lucky Sellars might challenge her to duel, and she'd have a chance. Jacqueline bore Ren no ill will over the situation, though it would have been nice to have an in on the ship.

“I doubt an old French cook is the greatest of your problems, captain,” she said, spitting the last word out like a bad chef’s souffle. She glanced over at her niece, who was assisting the Lieutenant. At least she was safer sitting down.

A bullet thudded into her bag as she moved to the side, and the sound of breaking glass nearly sent Jacqueline in a rage. “If that was my cloves…” she muttered, then turned to the captain and Ren. “If you're just going to kill me you may as well get some use of me beforehand,” she noted. After all, they at least hated the Navy as much as she did. That had to count for something.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Karena Schneider Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington 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: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington 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

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington
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The Acheron swung around, and with a loud thud came against the starboard side of the Illustrious. The ships bounced apart, and the gunners of the Acheron blazed again, close enough to see the faces of the crewmen on the lower decks of the Illustrious through the gun ports. Heavy round shot and lighter canister swept the flank of the Navy ship, wreaking even more destruction. Splinters flew and ropes twitched in the air as they were hit by shrapnel and bullets. The sails of the Illustrious hung limp, their ropes gone, and the few Royal Marines left in the tops frantically fired down at the Acheron, the sharp crack of their muskets barely heard amongst the thunder of the great guns.

Blood pouring down his face from the gash in his cheek, Nate kicked open the weapons locker on the fos’cle, pulling out a nasty looking tomahawk. “No pity! No mercy!” He shouted as he strode to the rail, which now laid up against the poop of the Illustrious. “Deck guns clear the breach!” Nate yelled, and was immediately rewarded with the lighter boom of the smaller cannons on the fos’cle and quarterdeck. Loaded with canister they swept the deck of the Illustrious clear, filling the air with musket balls and red mist.

With a roar Nate pulled himself up a dangling piece of rigging, grabbing hold to the side of the Illustrious with his other hand. His move signaled to the Acherons, who surged forwards onto the enemy ship. On his way up Nathaniel glanced through one of the shattered windows and into the captain’s cabin. Fine furniture, ornaments and bits of debris were scattered across the floor. In amongst the detritus and broken glass he spotted what looked like a brass sextant, and even in his heightened state of battle rhythm he made a mental note to claim it as soon as possible.

Reaching up to the rail of the Illustrious’ poop deck, a bayonet whipped past Nate’s head, scoring a line down his back and tearing the shoulder of his coat. His eyes widening in shocked fury Nate grabbed the musket the bayonet was attached to and yanked as hard as he could. The marine who had been holding the musket plunged forwards over the rail, meeting Nate’s eyes for a fleeting second before he fell between the frigates with a splash. Gritting his teeth Nate pulled himself over the rail, immediately followed by others of the Acheron’s crew. Down on the gun deck he could see Ren and other men from the Acheron laying about what was left of the Illustrious’ gunners. Carrington was among them as well, and Nate was delighted to see the sailing master flashing a maniacal grin as he slashed and stabbed all around him.

In a few split seconds Nate took in the scene of devastation that had once been the ordered deck of a Royal Navy frigate. Even though she was raked from the prow instead of the stern, and was protected by the thick wood there, the Illustrious had been badly mauled. The gun deck was awash with blood. Racks of spare shot had been tipped over and broken. Some guns had been thrown from their carriages and threatened to break through the side of the ship with every roll of the waves. Some dead crewmen lay about or slouched over guns, some wounded, yet to be taken away, moaned and cried where they had fallen. The men who remained on their feet were shaken, powder stained, and totally unprepared for the ferocity of the men from the Acheron. They had been humiliated, they had been beaten, but now they would take their revenge.

The canister shot from the deck guns had blown away whatever concentrated resistance the men of the Acheron might have faced, so they fell about the crew of the Illustrious like wolves among sheep. They roared and shrieked like demons and cut down anything in their path, swarming below-decks to secure whatever loot they could. Acheron!” They roared over and over. Acheron!” Some of the navy men tried to surrender, but the pirates of Black Nate were in no mood for mercy. A couple leapt over the side, swimming desperately to try and reach the Endeavour. Those Nate could let go. They were of no consequence.

Coming back to what was directly in front of him, Nate locked eyes with the captain of the Illustrious, captain Fotheringay. Nate fixed him with a glare of malevolent intensity as the naval captain crouched by the wheel. He took a step forwards but was forced to duck as a great axe soared over where his head would have been. Snarling like an animal Nate turned to face his opponent, a giant marine sergeant in a torn and bloody red coat. Nate drew his sword and held it in his right hand, the tomahawk in his left. He was about to strike when a man landed on the marine hard. Both were driven to the deck and the one on top was furiously stabbing at the marine with a stiletto blade.

“Mr. Peters,” Nate roared. “Get in my way again and I’ll kill you myself!” He couldn’t help but let a little of the grin of pride show on his face, before he set back to the stonewall expression of hatred he always wore in battle. “Now get back to it Mr. Peters!”

“Aye sir!” Peters shouted and dove back into combat, grappling with another seaman near the steps to the gangway.

Slashing out left and right Nathaniel carved his way over to the wheel, kicking a wounded seaman out of his way and splitting a marine’s skull when he tried to check his advance. By the wheel Nate found Fotheringay again. The man was shivering, his sword held limply and shaking like a leaf. Nate could not stop himself from laughing and very nearly bent over double as other crewmen from the Acheron, their opponents finished, turned to see what was bringing out the rare sound of their captain’s laughter. Fotheringay, now surrounded by dangerously laughing and blood spattered pirates dropped his sword with a clatter and raised his arms.

“I….I… I surrender sir. I surrender.” He stammered, withering under Nate’s gaze.

“Captain Fotheringay,” Nate spoke, filling his voice with venom and drawing himself up to his full height. “You scratched my ship.” The level of animosity in the statement made Fotheringay’s knees shake. “Mr. Carrington,” Nathaniel called. “String this miserable excuse for a captain up by his ankles to the yardarm.” As he spoke Nate pushed Fotheringay’s chin up with the bloodied blade of his tomahawk, before letting him drop and turning to flash a quick smile at Carrington as he stepped towards the rail to look down onto the gundeck.

As he walked a creaking and cracking noise filled the air. With a groan the mainmast of the Endeavour leant over, then with a horrendous tearing noise collapsed into the sea. The great sprawl of sail and rope came crashing down, the few men who were up there plummeting into the sea, or bouncing off the deck. The flames that Nathaniel had noticed on that ship suddenly flared up. Once again, time was against them.

Leaning over the rail and seeing that most of the crew of the Illustrious had been killed or herded together by the men of the Acheron in the belly of the ship, Nate shouted to Ren. “Miss Thompson! Take a prize crew of fifty and get the Illustrious on the move as quickly as humanly possible! We do not want to be anywhere near that,” he pointed to the Endeavour, “when she goes up.” Turning away from the rail Nate sheathed his sword. “All hands back to the Acheron! Make sail as fast as she can go!” With that he strode to the side and hopped down to the poop deck of the Acheron. One captured. One destroyed. Not a bad start for a half fresh crew.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington
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Despite initial resistance, it became quite evident after only a few moments fighting that the raking fire and the boarding had stricken the discipline from every man aboard. Formations and teamwork that Ren knew had been beaten into their skulls at the academy was thrown to the wayside as soldiers shot at anything that moved and wildly swung sabres. 'The most powerful navy on the seas...' Ren thought to herself as she smacked a strike away from her person with her sword, deftly raising the loaded pistol in her grip and firing without a moment's hesitation. She could hear the splashes of men jumping overboard, while others dropped their weapons and surrendered.

“No pity! No mercy!”

The Captain's orders had been painfully clear. The best she could do for these bastards was to make it quick. She spied one young lad, a recent enlistment or damn close to it, fumble in a panic as he tried to reload his musket. The lad was just barely older than a cabin boy, tears streaming down his face as he fought desperately to live. He never saw the woman approach from his side, eyes blinded to the world around him as he dropped musket rounds from trembling fingers. He jumped once when a hand gently gripped his shoulder, and felt the sharp pain of a blade pierce the back of his neck. He was dead before he could see the tip jut from his throat, Ren allowing gravity to remove his corpse from her blade.

"No pity! No mercy!" She barked, as much an order to herself as it was to the men around her.

With the sheer number of pirates on board, and the number of Navy either dead or surrendering in vain, there wasn't much need for her own blade once Black Nate cornered the Captain of the Illustrious. Ren felt no need to check her defenses as she looked over to the helm, feeling a sinking pit in her stomach as she recognized the name Nate called out in mockery. That man had been Second Lieutenant on the first ship her father had captained. Might not even have a Captain's colors if not for her own father's words.

“No pity! No mercy!”

She made it a point to watch everything Carrington did to the man, only looking away once to shoot an opportunistic navy-men hoping to kill a pirate he believed distracted. She hadn't seen her father in nearly a decade, she realized as the life was slowly stricken from the Captain. She didn't even know if he yet lived to be worried or disappointed over her. At seeing the limp form of the former Captain, she prayed he wasn't alive to see her like this.

She was taken from her prayers by the loud thuds of bodies falling to the deck from the tops, cheers and mockery coming from the pitayes who had scaled the rigging to kill the snipers who had long since ceased firing either due to lack of ammunition or motivation. She regarded every corpse she could spot, compartmentalizing their faces and uniforms just as she had with pirates, Spaniards, and the French. She thanked God her father was retired.

“Miss Thompson! Take a prize crew of fifty and get the Illustrious on the move as quickly as humanly possible! We do not want to be anywhere near that,” he pointed to the Endeavour, “when she goes up.”

She was surprised to hear the orders, and looked up at Nate in disbelief for but a moment, but a grin spread across her face like a child on Christmas morning.

"Aye aye, sir!" She saluted, and turned on her heels to survey the damage the Illustrious had sustained. A quick glance was all she needed to know this ship would never make it to harbor again, but it could stay afloat long enough for a proper looting once the Endeavor was finished with its theatrics. She pointed at a group of four before sweeping her arm up towards the sails.

"You lot, jury rig those sails! I'd rather not be near the Endeavor when the fires hit the magazine!" She called, then looked out at another group, glaring at them before pointing at the cannons, "Secure what you can! The deck is beaten enough without artillery getting ideas about mobility!"

The men couldn't help but grin a little at the choice of words, but jumped to the tasks. Ren grinned in return, and turned to continue visually sweeping the ship for problems that would prevent their sailing away from the inevitable blast. She was surprised to find a familiar, recently bloodied face saluting her. The act confused her, but she was just thankful to not be called a whore again.

"Orders, Cap'n?" the crewman asked, smirking in a way which Ren couldn't tell was mocking or genuine, but she opted for the latter.

"What's your name, crewman?"

"Tom Jenkins, Captain Thompson."

"First Lieutenant Jenkins, see to it any fires remain controlled and away from the powders. We'll be limping away but I'll be damned if the first ship to my name sinks while I'm aboard. I also don't want to see any looting when there's repair work to be done. Plenty of time for that when the ship is secured," She said, Jenkins nodding before turning on his heel, just as Ren had done before, and let out in a booming voice, "CAPTAIN SAID TO GET OFF YOUR ASSES THE LOT OF YA! ANY FIRE REACHES THE POWDERS AND SHE'LL USE YER CARCASS TO PUT OUT THE FLAMES, AND GOD HELP THE MAN WHO STUFFS COIN IN HIS POCKET WHEN THERE'S WORK T'BE DONE!"

Ren put a hand on Jenkin's shoulder and gave it a few pats. "I appreciate your enthusiasm, lieutenant, but I fear the crew might not respect you, being the captain's whore and all," she said, getting a uproarious laugh from her temporary officer.

"After seeing you fight on this very deck, just glad a busted nose was all you deemed necessary. Woulda done worse t'any man disrespected me the same way,"

"And worse is what you'll get if we don't sail in the next few minutes. Find me a helmsman and set them to the wheel, We've no heading asides away from the blast and eyesight of the Acheron," Ren said, a bit of the authority back in her voice as she nodded to the man and walked away and back up to the helm where the previous Captain had once stood, his corpse still in eyesight of Ren's post, but Ren tried to focus either on the flames of the Endeavor or the decks before her. The Acheron's boarding hooks were gone and the Illustrious was under its own power now.

Ren took the wheel and aimed the ship so that it's broadside would take any blast, but until the sails were refastened they'd be dead in the water.

"You lot! Go up to the masts and help with those sails! Those ropes are our lifelines now!" She called, anxiety creeping in to her mind as some of the powders on deck of the Endeavor began to blow. Jenkins was below, carrying out her will with a strong voice and stronger arm. Most of the men listened, knowing their survival now lay in Ren's words, but some still would rather die than follow her command. She watched as Jenkins threw an empty barrel overboard, an insubordinate crewman shortly following and yelled for him to either serve on the Endeavor, or go explain to Commodore Sellars that his choice in officers was lacking. Jenkins was proof this was going to be a great crew once they came around, but getting there would take time. She ran down to where the man had been thrown overboard, tossing a line over the ship for the soggy seamen to grab hold of. She was almost surprised when the slack was taken out of the rope and she helped haul in her subordinate, grabbing him by the collar as soon as he was in sight to pull him over the rail.

The man attempted to catch his breath, but Ren still had a grip on his collar, and yanked him in so that the heat of her breath could be felt on his face.

"You'll return to your post, or I'll shoot ye in both legs and toss you back in myself. I'd hate to lose a good man over his head being crammed up his ass," she said, and threw the man over to Jenkins.

"Check on the prisoners below deck. Dry off, steal a change of clothes if you like, but don't come back above deck unless you're done being a child," Ren said. The man scowled, but Jenkins shoved him off towards the hold before he could say anything he'd regret. The man had barely been off deck for a minute before wind finally caught in the freshly tied sails, a sight Ren had been longing for since she'd first started barking orders.

"Helmsman! take us away from the Endeavor and set a rendevous course with the Acheron!" She called, hearing an affirmative response as the ship began to swerve away from its wrecked sister ship.

"WHAT CREW ARE WE?!" Ren called.

"ACHERON!" the men called back.

"WHO DOES THE NAVY FEAR?!"

"ACHERON!"

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

"ACHERON!"

"WE'RE NOT EVEN ON THAT SHIP YA INBRED MONGRELS!" Ren called back, laughter erupting from the crew as they sailed out to the open waters.