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'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington

As long as the stars are burnin', I'll steer ya true.

0 · 476 views · located in The Seven Seas

a character in “Making Waves”, as played by ValaunDae'Voth

Description

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Name: Smiling Carmichael Carrington

Age: 32

Occupation: Sailing Master

Nationality: Scottish

Personality: Everyone thinks that Mr. Carrington, as he prefers to be called, is batshit insane.
The truth might only be a little different. He is most often below deck, pouring over his maps, charts, and books. When not doing that, he is either shoulder to shoulder with the helmsman, or alternating between pestering, or observing the crew. Despite his eccentricities, he is solid navigator and dependable crewman that is willing, and able, to perform any task given to him and he enjoys keeping the crew morale as high as possible.

He loves gambling, alcohol, as well as telling stories and is known for spinning many tales for his mates over a few drinks. His hedonistic love is only rivaled by his delight in battle. Most navigators hide when the shooting starts, but Carrington is often one of the first into the fray (singing songs of battle as he does) and will lay down life and limb for anyone of the crew, except Daniel.

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Appearance:
Carrington is around six feet in height and weighs around two hundred pounds. He is toned and tanned from his life at sea. He carries himself with a lazy, but proud bearing, if such a thing can be imagined. He moves in a strangely deliberate manner, as if constantly inspecting everything around him. This is further reinforced by his tendency to move his hands along walls, railings, even people (at times) as he walks.
He always wears a compass around his neck like a necklace and is never seen without his weapons.

Bio: After hearing his story, many believe that Carrington is either lying, or really is insane.

He claims to be the son of Charles Colyear, Earl of Portmore, and one of the random children that he often went to great lengths to aid. His mother and father had a brief affair before the young woman went on her way after the Earl's wife began to suspect.
His mother gave birth to him, and then returned to Charles' estate and abandoned him on the doorstep with a little note for the Earl explaining things. He was then raised as a noble bastard and sent to a military academy as soon as he was able.

He excelled at the academy and was very intuitive when it came to tactics and navigation. He was also the best shot in his class and could out gamble all of the other kids. And, might have had a fling with one of the female servants. Upon graduating, Carrington was immediately assigned to a vessel.

He served with the same crew for pretty much his entire career and grew into a fair friendship with the more serious Nathaniel. He is rather tight lipped about anything particular about their past together, but openly admits to being the one to strap the arresting admiral to the cannon and hoisting it overboard. Those that were there claim he was smiling and whistling a merry tune as he did so, making it clear that he enjoyed the prospect just as much as he enjoyed the fighting, thus earning his nickname and solidifying his loyalty to his captain.

Other: He loves escargot and constantly pushes the ship's cook to stock the ingredients.

So begins...

'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington
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It had been rather rough going the last few days, the worst in recent memory to be certain, but nothing that Carmichael Carrington hadn't seen before. He had been through it all, hurricanes, tsunami's, rogue waves and thunderstorms. He'd raided every sort of vessel one could imagine and had even made off with a payload for the captain on a rowboat.
At least that's some of the things he would tell the boys, and most of the veterans aboard knew to believe less than half of any of the Sailing Master's stories at any given time.

He was, at the moment yelling at an idle pair of hands to help him pull up a cannon that was hanging precariously from it's perch near the helm, while he himself simply held the rope in one hand, while the other handful of men with him were straining with all their might to keep the large brass weapon in place.

"Get over here you filthy sons of 'ores, and help get this lovely piece of artillery mounted!", he bellowed, waving one hand about like a madman trying to get someone's attention. "When I was back in the academy we hoisted a cannon just as large with 'alf the manpower, and if a bunch fuckin' lads can do it, so can you!"

At the sound of the Captain Nathaniel's voice, Carrington's attention on the gun disappeared like a flask of rum at a dice game and he simply released the rope and turned on his heel, taking a few steps towards the man as he spoke.

“Sailing master, bring the Acheron into the harbor when you hear the signal gun fire. We won’t have long before someone alerts the Navy so we will have to make our repairs fast.”, before walking briskly to the side of the ship. Nathaniel flipped himself over the side and climbed down into the waiting boat as the men hoisting the cannon let out a cry of surprise at the sudden deficit of Carrington's meager help.

"Aye, Captain!", Carrington replied with an enthusiastic salute, while noticing that more than a handful of the crew suddenly seemed interested in the captain's departure.

Carrington took another step towards the railing in front of the helm and shouted, "Jesus tap dancin' Christ! Ya think ya'd never seen the man depart before. Quit yer gawpin', dry your tears, cinch your skirts and get this lovely lady back in walking shape before it's time to go before I personally come down and shit kick every last one of ye!", with as much authority as he could manage. Which, by the way, was considerable due to his close relationship with the captain and his perfect lack of qualms when going through with threats of bodily harm.

Turning, Carrington came face to face with the only man aboard the Acheron that he truly hated and noted him still looking towards the spot the captain had slid from. Without a word or preamble, Carrington cuffed him on the side of the head and shoved him towards the men with the cannon. "Daniel, get over there and help them ya lazy bastard!", he shouted before turning and yelling, "Mr. Franklin, Mr. Donovan!"

A few moments later the two men arrived before him and gave him inquisitive looks that almost mirrored one another. The three of them were good friends and often cheated with one another at the gambling games aboard the ship.
"Mr. Franklin, I realize it is already being done, but take another twenty men that're actin' busy or dawdlin' and take them below and get as much water out of 'er guts as we can. Mr. Donovan, take another 'andful of men, gather the dead's belongin's and 'ave them placed in the officer's cabins. I don't want any of these newer dogs takin' time spent workin' goin' through their things. We'll divvy it up once we're under way once more, ken?"

The pair both gave him a nod and a loud, "Aye!, before heading off.

For the next half hour or so, Carrington bustled about, making sure everyone on deck was working to get the lady moving before simply standing near the helmsman, swapping jokes as the man made sure the wheel was in working order despite the damage to the rudder.
Carrington himself held a small spyglass up to his eye in the direction of the shipyard and saw the first flash of gunfire as a smile spread across his face and he continued with his joke, " 'Ickory Dickory Dock, she took a good look at your cock, it's pretty scary all wrinkled and 'airy and smells like a twelve year old so....", his words suddenly cut off by the boom of the cannon at the harbor. "Alright boys! Let's get the lady under way, we 'aven't got long and you know how the captain likes punctuality! He finshed his shout and moved out of the way as the men burst into even more motion, getting the shipping moving as fast as they could. There was so much damage that Carrington didn't bother shouting individual orders at the men, they knew their jobs well and yelling at them individually would only be counterproductive.
Instead, he began pounding his fist and stamping his foot in a boisterous rhythm and began to sing in his rather rich voice, getting all those aboard to join in as the worked and focus more at the tasks at hand. (the song, since I don't know how to link words https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzHqXzcuWuE )

A short time later, they pulled into the little harbor and repairs got underway,and lucky for those at the inn, seeing Carrington blissfully unaware of the delightful amount of violence happening within.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Aye, mam,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"ACHERON!"

"WHO DOES THE NAVY FEAR?!"

"ACHERON!"

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

"ACHERON!"

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

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

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

“Lieutenant Thompson! Boarding hooks and weapons!”

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

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

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

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

Dear God in heaven, she felt so alive.

Setting

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Character Portrait: 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

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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.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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The Illustrious had barely been underway by the time the first wrinkle decided to rear its ugly head. No sooner had Ren called for the crew to set sail before someone began shouting about their being a man overboard. Ren snarled as she looked starboard, esitating in thought for only a moment before she looked to her interim first mate, Jenkins, and demanded he fetch her a long rope and tie one end to the railing on the starboard. He saluted and rushed off, the task not taking but a moment as the stuff was everywhere, the crew gathering it for transfer back to the Acheron.

"Belay those sails! I was given a full crew and damn the man that makes me return with a head less!" She called to the tops, accepting the rope Jenkins returned with, handing him her jacket and pistols in return before tying a knot around her waist.

"Get some strong arms, Lieutenant, I'll be going fishing," she said sarcastically, both smiling as Ren turned and set into a hard run at starboard. She dove headfirst into the waves below, using her "hands to break the surface and spare her head the trauma. Growing up in a port town, the son of a sailor, Ren was a strong swimmer and it was probably very fortunate to whatever crewman had decided to lose their sea legs. She could spy a strange lump clinging to driftwood, looking to be unconscious but still holding a grip to the planks of wood liberated from the Endeavor. She could also see the glasses and familiar coat once she swam closer, and upon realizing just who the overboard crewman was, Ren cursed under her breath.

"Some Navigator you are, Mr. Carrington... two ships to choose from and you get yourself lost in the ocean..." Ren mutterd, the annoyance plain in her voice as she untied the rope around her person and began securing it to Mr. Carrington. She made sure the knots were tight, to ensure his hauling up the side of the ship would be both secure, and leave him with rope burns the likes he'd never seen before. When she was satisfied, she swam back towards the ship, keeping a hand to the rope.

"HAUL LIKE YOU MEAN IT BOYS! CARRINGTON SAID HE'S DONE WITH HIS SWIM!" Ren shouted, her command met with laughter as she felt the line grow taut, and Carrington's limp form unceremoniously dragged through the waters and to the broadside of the ship. Ren climbed up the rigging alongside Carrington as he was brought up to make sure he didn't get snagged on anything, crawling back over the railing as his body hit the deck.

"Alright, I did the hard part. Who knows how to give mouth to mouth?" Ren asked, and was delighted when one of the crew raised their hands to volunteer. Granted, he looked to have scurvy, but Mr. Carrington would live to annoy the shit out of her another day.

"When the sea gets sucked back out of him, see Mr. Carrington is taken below deck to recover. God forbid he loses his way again and goes overboard," Ren said, though stopped as she noticed the broken compass hanging about his neck.

'Lucky bastard,' She thought, but looking back at the man preparing to revive him she could help but grin and ponder the nature of his luck.

"Set sail! Course is set so let's haul our asses before the Endeavor takes us with her!" Ren called, ripping the sleeve off of the right arm of her shirt, balling it up as she moved Carrington's coat out of the way. She shoved the fabric down onto the wound and pressed firmly before wrapping the tourniquet around the wound to hold it in place. Should keep him from bleeding out until the Acheron was reached.

Their course was set and the wind was with them, so reaching their target would only take a matter of minutes once the Acheron dropped anchor to allow for boarding. In the meantime, Ren decided to take a little time for herself and a reward for the crew thus far.

"Loot the bodies and chum the waters! I want everything presentable for the Captain once we rendezvous. Not a piece in your pockets till the quartermaster gets it counted, or I'll see to it you're on the deck of the Endeavor when it blows. Keep 'em honest, Jenkins!" Ren called, the men roaring in approval as they finally got the all clear to start their looting. Ren smiled and let them have at it, taking it upon herself to venture below deck. It didn't take her long before she found the officer's cabins, and a swift kick to the doors saw them open easily enough. She grabbed a convenient burlap sack and started sizing the room up, taking the lieutenants uniform off of its stand and greedily shoving it inside her sack, as well as a violin safely tucked within its case. A few personal affects to go into her own quarters once she got settled well enough. The next room called for a new sack, this one belonging to the ship's surgeon. all the supplies she could carry she appropriated into the bag and hoisted them both over her shoulder. After the battle they'd just had, and the bullets that had hit their mark, she felt it was prudent to go ahead and acquire means beyond tourniquets for their treatment. Mending the Captain's arm might even see Angelique remain aboard.

It was the least she could do for the Inn keeper, considering who she was.

A moment of nostalgia swept the young woman's mind as she reached inside her jacket and dug a piece of old parchment from pocket in the lining, flicking her wrist to undo its folds. A bounty poster for the woman known as 'The Serpent's Teeth', the very same poster she'd taken down as a child and hid in her room, to look at as she practiced her knots, to fence with her butler and eventually her father, the poster she'd held onto when she needed to remind herself of why she left home in the first place.

The poster that proved a woman could sail if she damn well pleased.

Ren folded the parchment back up and hauled her sacks back to the main deck, happy to see the Illustrious pulling up beside of the Acheron.

"Raise sail and drop anchor! Prepare the gangway once the Captain is ready to board! You lot! Start to the hold and see to it any rations or supplies are ready for hauling back to the Acheron. Bring Carrington back up and see to it he gets treatment for his wound!" Ren called, setting her sacks down and saluting the Acheron.

"Permission to come aboard, Captain!"

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

Wait.

Where was Angelique?
---

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

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

Nah, she probably just forget where she was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron
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After the ships settled parallel to the other, the crew of the Acheron made quick work of lashing the two ships together and throwing down the boarding plank. Sellars strode confidently onto the deck of the slowly sinking ship, smirk on his face as he took one self indulgent glance at the driftwood that once encompassed the Endeavor. Gloating to himself over the kill, Ren imagined, but she'd be lying if she wasn't feeling the slightest bit giddy after coming out of that battle. She had a fixed grip on the feeling, lest she see flashes of the young men that she'd just cut down.

"Let's get going then Lieutenant Thompson. I want us away in an hour," The captain ordered, one which Ren saluted before she looked to the deck of the Acheron. She need not bother with the crew of the Illustrious as they'd begun preparations before the anchor was dropped.

"Oi! If you don't want to starve in a few weeks, best get your asses in gear! Captain wants this cargo loaded up in the hour! Ship won't loot itself!" Ren shouted, still smiling as she tried to direct the stampede of crew coming over the boarding plank to where the holes in the looting were. They hadn't so much as hit the deck before the first crates of rations began making their way onto the deck of their new ship.

It seemed as if this was the type of work most of the crew had been waiting to do, and Ren hadn't needed to actually issue any orders after giving the all clear for any available hands to come aboard. She watched regardless, making sure no one was slacking off or needed to have her point them to where they were needed, but she couldn't stop her thoughts from wandering back to the Dublin, where she'd last served as proper navy. The ship and its crew were all new, and the sight of the crew running about like baby chicks who'd lost their mother during drills had become some of her fondest memories. She was incredulous at the time, of course, having to teach someone who'd been to the academy, the same Ren had studied and trained all her life to enter, what a bowline knot was, and lord in heaven if she saw one more soldier drop their loader from their musket...

Her thoughts drifted of their own accord now, back a few hours to the chaos of the Illustrious. The young man shivering in his boots as pirates swarmed the decks. A light breeze could have knocked him over, but he faltered only a moment before raising his musket, eye to the irons, and desperately searched for a target. He hadn't jumped when Ren had put a hand to his shoulder... perhaps he thought her rough hands were that of an ally? Perhaps he'd accepted the state of things and welcomed his fate. The shivering stopped and he let out a breath, calming himself as he started to squeeze the trigger, but Ren's sword slid into the back of his neck before he ever managed to fire. She wondered now if he'd have known how to tie a bowline knot if asked. If he'd run from home to join the Royal Navy.

"Lieutenant, it's time to go."

The order snapped Ren out of her daydream, and it was the most grateful she'd been since being handed that bowl of stew at the inn.

"Pack it up! Time to disembark!" Ren called, watching as another stampede headed for the boarding plank. The deck of the Illustrious had been picked clean, though Ren spied a few stragglers that were apparently hard of hearing. Thought they could pocket a little for themselves since the Captain's back was turned. Ren pulled out her pistol and fired a shot between the two, putting both on their asses from the shock of it.

"Now that your attention's been had, we're disembarking. Dawdle any longer and the planks'll be raised without you," Ren called, having to hold back a chuckle as the men tripped over themselves to run back to the Acheron. She headed back herself, standing on the boarding plank and turning to make one last sweep to ensure all hands were accounted for, and once she was satisfied made her way to her new home, sacks still slung over her shoulder.

"Raise the planks and tie down the new provisions! Lets make the ship handsome after such a display!" Ren called, the crew roaring as they got to work preparing to sail, readjusting the netting in the hold to secure the new rations, a line forming as men passed crates and barrels of powder and round-shot to the magazine.

Nodding in satisfaction, Ren spotted the familiar faces of the Thurons on deck and couldn't hide her grin. She wondered which had been the one to pick the lock, or if Jacqueline had simply shouldered through the door. Perhaps a crewman had a bruise in the suspicious shape of a frying pan now?

She made her way over, not bothering to hide her good spirits as she gave a wave with her free hand.

"Got bored of the Hold, eh?" Ren joked, the sight of one of the new crew tripping over themselves catching her eye. Not quite as young as the lad she'd pinned to that table at the inn, but it was apparent he hadn't gotten his sea legs yet.

"Stay on your feet lad or I'll tie you to the mast! See to it that the rations are properly secured, make sure the quartermaster has enough hands!" she called, the order mainly being an excuse to get him out of sight until he stopped wobbling.

Jacqueline smiled as Ren waved to her. She nodded back, as Angelique was still finishing up with her slightly battered hands. "Well, with all of the action topside, it was hard to find any reason to stay below-decks. Though it looks like you saw your fair share." The older woman furrowed her brow, finally getting a good look at the girl. The resemblance was uncanny, but...

"Angelique, have you finished yet?" Jacqueline asked her diligent niece.

"That should do it," Angelique replied, tying off the ends of the bandages around her aunt's hands. "You'll want to rinse that off with warm to hot water after a while, but that should heal it fast." Angelique rubbed the remnants of the ointment on her skirt.

"You should check up on the rest of the crew," Jacqueline said, waving the lieutenant over. "I'm nearly positive they haven't a surgeon of any sort, and if you can handle a few bullet wounds here and there they might just not, what's the word?" She tried to snap, but the cloth muffled it. "Maron? No, maroon, that's it. I doubt they'd drop you off on an island."

Angelique pouted and sighed. "Fine, fine, but if you get in a fight before I get done you're patching yourself up!"

Watching the banter made Ren more than a little homesick, though the sight of Angelique starting to run off made Ren remember the primary reason for her visit. She grabbed the sack with the medical supplies she'd appropriated and held them out.

"Oi! Before you go, might have a need for this. I grabbed antiseptic and gauze, as well as any books or vials that looked important. Enough until we get the chance to properly stock up at port. Captain also hasn't had his arm looked at, though I'd make sure he sees you working on the rest of the crew a bit before you make the offer," Ren offered, wincing a second as the wond in her own shoulder from before they left port shot through her mind. Her adrenaline was dying down. She hid the wince as best she could with a wink, then looked away and towards Jacqueline. She didn't want the Captain to see her weak, which included getting treated, until they were at sea proper.

"Glad to see you both unharmed," Ren said, having already noted the fact that Jacqueline was very much unarmed. She wondered for a moment whose hands the pistol had winded up in, but she knew she'd catch hell either way. Regardless, she still didn't regret the act, wanting to make amends for having aimed it at her hero in the first place.

"Oh, I'm being rude. Lieutenant Ren Thompson, at your service," Ren said, bowing slightly as a gentleman might to a lady he was courting, though the grin on her face was that of a jest.

Angelique practically drooled at the medical supplies, particularly the books, as Ren handed then to her. She snatched them out of her hands and almost started pouring over them before she remembered where she was. She shoved the books in her pack and fit what else she could on top, opting to put the various vials in her skirt pockets! "Thank you thank you thank you!" Angelique called back to Ren as she rushed over to a few of the more battered crewmen.

Jacqueline laughed at her niece's antics and returned her attention to Ren. "I'm certainly lucky to be unharmed, though I must thank you for your help," Jacqueline added, remembering the pistol she had been passed. "Good to see you're no worse off."

The elder Thuron didn't return the bow, but frowned. "Thompson? Thompson... I know that name but where?" she mused. Then it hit her, and she felt like an idiot for not realizing sooner.

"Merde, you've certainly got his nose..." she muttered quietly, then added "You wouldn't happen to know Isaac Thompson?"

Ren's grin widened as she saluted, glad to know that her father had been remembered by the woman he'd spoken of so often to her.

"I'd hope so, Captain Isaac Thompson is my father. Retired after he took a wound to the leg fighting the infamous Serpent's Teeth. Told me stories about the encounters..." Ren said, reaching into her coat and pulling out the wanted poster once again, now handing it off to Jacqueline.

"Enough to convince a mischievous tomboy of a girl that the sea wasn't out of her reach."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: Renata "Ren" Thompson Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Jacqueline Thuron
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Nate stepped back over the plank from the Illustrious to the Acheron. He noticed how slanted it was becoming as the navy ship slowly sank and he smiled a little to himself. Of course he would have preferred to have more time to harvest the ship’s sails and spars, but the contents of the hold would have to do. Around the gundeck of the Acheron was strewn spare shot, powder, stores, and myriad things from the Illustrious that would be useful to the ship’s journey. There was even a little dog that was being fed a small piece of salt beef by one of the powder monkeys. The little boy’s hair was wild and his powder blackened face was split by his great smile. As he saw the captain looking at him the smile disappeared behind a somber expression as he snapped a salute, positioning his legs in front of the dog in an attempt to hide it. Returning the salute with a frown Nate pretended to have not noticed the dog. In the past the decks of the Acheron had hosted monkeys, real ones, parrots and small dogs before. One more would not make a difference.

Mr. Peters the bosun was hanging above the chaos of the gundeck, using his mouth trumpet to shout orders. Slowly he was organizing what needed to be, the shouted records of items being passed back to the quartermaster and his logs. The hold had already been half filled by the raid on the town, so the experienced crew was now performing a balancing act to keep the ship level with its large amount of cargo. Unfortunately, the new crew was more of a hindrance than a help. A few snarls reached Nate’s ears as he walked along the gangway towards the quarterdeck.

“Mr. Dogood!” Nate called at the top of his lungs. The giant of a man turned from his work near one of the hatches leading down to the hold and stood to attention. The glint in the man’s eyes betrayed the remaining adrenaline from the brief battle, and sweat coated the bunched muscles of his forearms below his rolled up shirtsleeves. Nate had always liked men like Dogood, quiet, but intelligent. Dogood had the advantage of also being built like a brick privy. The bushy black beard only added to the Wildman look that was oddly accentuated by his baggy shirt and well cared for trousers. Dogood’s appearance had an animalistic effect on the rest of the men, even with silence he was able to quell any troubles, and he could always smash some heads together if needed.

“Mr. Dogood. Congratulations, you’re my new coxswain. Get to work on the lubbers down there with you.” Nate gave Dogood one of his rare smiles and indicated the new crewmen, who were bustling about and knocking into one another as if they had never been on a ship before.

“Aye sir!” Dogood replied before wading into the chaos of the gundeck and shoving new crewmen into chains or onto ropes to help with the loading.

Continuing to walk towards the quarterdeck Nate noticed Ren talking to the new cook, Thuron… Jacqueline Thuron. The name clicked in Nate’s mind. That was the name of the bounty the German girl had been chasing. Stopping in his tracks Nate fixed the group with a glare. Why would a bounty hunter be chasing a tavern owner? Granted she claimed to have skill with a blade, but that had yet to be seen. The itch at the back of Nate’s mind grew stronger as he stared at the woman. Where did he recognize her from? Not knowing was infuriating. Though it may be totally inconsequential, he decided he had to know. He could not focus on the running of the ship properly unless he got rid of this itch.

He was shaken from his reverie by the appearance of Carrington. The man was a dull red colour from his actions during the battle, and one shoulder slumped a little. “Captain, we should talk Sir.” Nate followed the direction of Carrington’s thumb to see Ren pass a piece of paper to Jacqueline with a big smile on her face, the two continuing to talk animatedly. Narrowing his eyes Nate turned back to Carrington.

“Come find me in my cabin in a minute Carmichael.” Normally outside his cabin Nate would never use Carrington’s first name, but he had his suspicions that any information relevant to that woman could be extremely volatile, and it was important that this was handled carefully.

Placing his hand on Carrington’s good shoulder for a moment Nate turned and stormed up the steps to the quarterdeck, standing at the rail overlooking the gangways and gundeck. Nodding to Mr. Peters, Peters blew hard on his bosun’s whistle, halting the chaos around the hatches and turning all eyes to the captain.

Nate waited a moment before he spoke, scanning the expectant faces of the crewmen. His eyes alighted on Jacqueline and Ren, and he shot an icy glare their way before turning his face back to the crew. Clasping his hands behind his back Nate drew himself up to his full height and took in a breath.

“I am disappointed men,” Nate paused, glaring around at the crew, the disdain he had hoped for present in many of their faces. “I am disappointed that the Royal Navy could not put up more of a fight!” Here a roar met Nate’s words, the men shouting their agreement as the last of their adrenaline died down.

“It just goes to show how pathetic these dogs in their wooden tubs are. One ship against two and we still come out on top.” Nate smirked down at the crew. “You boys, you dogs of hell, are worth any ten of those navy pisspots. Admiral Nelson, God rest him, would turn in his grave if he saw the useless excuses for navy men they have now.” Here Nate paused for a second, letting the men’s elation die down a little. “You’ve done well lads, and as such you will all have an extra ration of grog today.” These words were met with a deafening cheer. Nate pitied the quartermaster, whose job for the evening had just been made even more complicated.

Nodding to Dogood and Peters the two men shouted down the other crewmen, the latter beating about with his stick to quiet them down. Nate continued, “but routine is the same from now on. Our lady needs to look shipshape again, and you boys will be doing gunnery training every other day till I am satisfied. Church will be as usual on Thursdays, so make sure your bests are ready for then.” Nate made a mental note to have Peters do what he could with his best uniform. He had the suspicion that splinters and maybe a musket ball or two had gone through it in the fight that had seen the Acheron brought to the town.

“Doubtless you are all anxious to know where we are going, but you’ll have to wait for a destination. For now our course is Sou Sou West.” Nate smiled to himself at the confused expressions on the crewmen’s faces as they tried to guess where they were going. He did not doubt that there would be many conversations over dinner that night, and many speculations as to where they were going. But for now he wanted to keep it to himself and the officers, when he had a chance to talk to them.

“Last thing men, did we take any prisoners on the Illustrious?” Despite his order for no mercy Nate expected a handful of men to have survived. Usually kept so they could point out the places where loot was hidden, they could be offered a chance to join the crew. Or they would, if they weren’t navy men. Nate’s eyes narrowed at the small group of bloodied men clustered around the mainmast. “Send them back over to their ship, then push off.”

“Lieutenant Thompson, when we are clear do the honours and sink that hulk. I want it on the bottom in twenty minutes. That’s all.” With that Nate stepped back and began the walk to his cabin, the wails of the captured sailors in his ears. Motioning to Carrington to follow him he went down the steps and turned, passing through the door and into his cabin. As soon as the door was closed Nate sighed and collapsed into a chair, placing the sextant on the table. Suddenly the pain from his wounds caught up with him, and Nate winced as he rubbed his cheek where the splinter had sliced it.

“Now Carmichael, what have you found out?”

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ren shook her head again and turned back to Jacqueline.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington
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Carmichael was doubly surpised at Nathaniel's reaction to his blunt statement about needing to talk. Not only had his old friend addressed him in a very informal manner, which he scarely did when able to be heard by the rest of the crew, but he also placed a hand on his shoulder.
Suspicion, and concern wormed its way into Carrington's mind as his old friend walked away, but there were more important things to worry about at the moment.
He slithered away from Angelique and her patient, and made his way erratically weaving way closer to Thuron and the shining new First Mate.
He managed to drop a few eaves before the captain began to speak and he wormed his way forward. His mind was hardly on what Nathan was shouting, he'd heard his speaches plenty of times over the last two decades after all, but instead, he became introspective, fumbling his way through years of bloodshed, drinking, and whoring.
It wasn't until the Captain shouted his order for the prisoners to be left aboard their sinking ship that he was rocked by a dark, delightful memory and he quickly moved through the throng of men as Nathaniel motioned him forward.

The cabin was not as well stocked as it could be. In the action the Acheron had been in over the past few days most of the furniture had been moved out and put in the hold for safe keeping. It had only been in the short amount of time after the victory over the two ships that Mr. Peters had organised some of the dunnage brought back up. The windows to either side were a little worse for wear, one of them sporting an amusing round hole from a shot that had bounced its way across the cabin, the ball itself now sitting in the corner of the room. A door behind the table Nate now sat at led to his apartment, a larger room in which he could host meetings and dinners, with large windows that looked over the wake of the ship. Nate almost flinched at the thought of the state that room must be in, not to mention his sleeping quarters and privy. Brushing those thoughts aside he refocused on Carrington, motioning to another chair at the table for him to sit.

Drawing on what he himself knew, Nate was sure he had met Jacqueline somewhere before, and, although her name didn't mean much to him, her appearance did. Nate prided himself on his memory, but after thirty years of life, and much of the last twenty spent near or in combat, some of it had begun to fade. "Maybe what Carmichael has to say will clear my mind on the matter," Nate thought, his eyes scanning those of his loyal friend. A nusciance at times, Carrington would not have reacted like this unless he believed there was a danger to the Acheron. That, Nate could always rely on.

Of course, Lieutenant Thompson was another matter. Nate could see that she certainly had potential, in time he had no doubt she would earn his respect as a valued member of the Acheron. However, he would have to speak to her about her dealings with the stowaways, though not stowaways any more by any stretch. Arming one of them against his express orders with the flintlock he had given her as a symbol of acceptance was not something Nate would forget quickly, nor forgive easily. Placing the offending pistol on the table between himself and Carrington, Nate wondered how she would react to his latest order. Killing men in battle was one thing, but sinking a ship with helpless prisoners on it was another. Nate's hatred of the Royal Navy was such that if he had time he would have killed them in a longer lasting and certainly more painful way, but he was unsure where Ren's loyalties lay. "We shall have to see," Nate thought, leaning forwards and placing his wounded arm gingerly on the table.

Nate was dying for a moment's rest, even a trip to the tops to clear his mind. The climb up through the rigging was always invigorating, and hanging off the highest point of the mainmast with the wind in his hair always helped him lose himself for a moment or two. An hour with his pride and joy, the violin that sat in its case in his sleeping quarters, would be even better. But this matter needed resolving, and Nate guessed it would not be an easy one to solve. The bounty hunter had told him that Jacqueline's bounty was worth a lot of money, but bounty hunting was something Nate viewed himself as above. He took what he needed. He did not pander to government officials who would pat him on the back for a job well done and hand him a tiny purse. No, he wasn't interested in the bounty, simply why the woman felt so familiar to him. He had said to her "to my mind, you only know someone when you have fought them", and for some reason her appearance had brought feelings like that. The mystery was killing him.

"So Carmichael, tell me, but keep to the facts. No conjecture."

Carrington was busy looking about and noting the dishevelled state of the cabin with some amount of remorse. His interest was piqued at the sight of the sextant Nathaniel placed on the table, and a smile spread at the sight of the pistol.
He had been wondering if the Captain had forgotten about it, or had simply decided to let sleeping dogs lie. He was relieved that this was not the case.

Carrington stepped forward, drawing the flask from his coat and pouring an equal measure into a cup that had somehow remained on the table and placed it before Nathaniel. He raised the flask in a toasting motion before taking a drink and a seat.

"Apparently Mr. Donovan, and Mr. Franklin weren't as thorough this time.", he said, indicating the sextant, "They better 'ave gotten the maps, journals and anything else important..."

He knew that Nathaniel knew about his standing orders for the pair to ransack the cabins during raids, and he was quite disappointed the pair had left such an important, and expensive item behind.
Carrington noted the grimace cross his old friend's face as he placed his wounded arm on the table and said, "Before I speak anything more, facts, or conjecture, and the like, ye better have that young woman look at your arm before ye bleed out, or it becomes septic..."

Nathaniel scowled at Carrington and deliberately flexed his arm and rolled his slashed shoulder, gritting his teeth to make the display effective. "I'll live for now Carrington," Nate almost growled, "so get on with it. This is more important." As he spoke Nate could feel the deep cut on his cheek clotting and getting harder to move. He would make a point of not seeking any attention until every other man in the crew had been seen first.

Carrington had to admit that he liked the fire that Captain possessed. He was one of the toughest bastards he knew, and also knew that he was the only person worthy of his loyalty. The man, despite being as cold and sadistic and Carrington himself, always looked out for the crew and the ship first.
The Navigator simply shrugged the point away, and took another pull from the rapidly dwindling flask. He was happy he had found it however, the adrenaline from the fighting was quickly wearing off and the past two days without sleep was making the various bumps and bruises stand out all the more. Thankfully the rum in the flask was dulling these down.
He idly rubbed the glaring bruise on his chest for a moment as he leaned back in his chair with a resigned sigh and looked his captain squarely in the eyes.

"Well Nathaniel...", he began, "I 'ave been getting this strange feeling from the older woman that decided to steal aboard during the chaos of departure for some time now, but I never let it concern me much. We had more important matters to address and a few rogues boarders were not so important."
Carrington paused for a moment and took another pull from his flask and tossed the empty vessel onto the table before leaning forward and placing his elbows upon its surface.
"When I was aboard the Illustrious I was nearly slain... Took a shot to the chest. Only thing that saved me was the fucking compass.", he continued, removing the compass from around his neck and slamming the heavily dented device onto the table next to the pistol.
"Miss Thompson managed to pull me aboard, and once I was among the world of the living once more, I made my way below deck to clear me mind of the brush with the reaper... And there she was, Miss Thompson, standing alone within the officers' quarters, staring at the same piece of parchment ye just saw, painted with the Frenchwoman's face. This got me thinkin'. I recognized the face and took a closer look and thing started fallin' together. From what I managed to catch before ye gave yer speach to the men, the Frenchwoman was a sailor, a pirate, and she had some run ins with our new first mate's father. Somehow, Miss Thomspon idolized both. Perhaps she is a navy girl with a black heart, or a scallywag with a heart of gold, but either way she is navy."

This last sentence seemed to hit a chord with Carrington, for he stalked over to the cabinet, which was blessedly intact, and poured another drink for himself and the Captain and brought both back to the table. After knocking back a fair portion, he looked back at Nathaniel and continued, "I find it quite the coincidence that this supposed former navy girl could be at the same city the was the most likely spot for us to make berth after our vicious fight and subsequent flight. She's still wearin' navy colors for Christ's sake..."
He stopped for a moment and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to bring himself back on track.

Nate ignored the drink, though he shuffled a little at the rate Carrington was going through the contents of his personal collection. It had been a while since Nate had replenished his stock of Portugese Port or deep Italian red wines that he was fond of. "I wear navy colours Carmichael. I'm glad we've finally got another officer who does," here Nate cast a critical eye over Carrington's appearance. "Besides, if she was sent by the navy I doubt they'd hound her to near starvation. The Admiralty isn't clever enough to actually use convincing agents, and Thompson really looked starving before I brought her aboard."

Leaning back in his chair Nate eyed the compass. "I'll have to get you a new one. I heard the Venetians are making good ones these days. Remind me to stop some Italian shipping some time." Looking back up at Carrington Nate thanked the luck they both seemed to share. Both had been wounded many times, but the devil's own luck ran with them for now, and nothing had maimed, crippled or killed them so far. Testing that luck over and over again had proved fruitful in the past. The almost casual nature of this conversation was testament to their long years together. If anyone else had used his first name, Nate would have personally gutted them.

Ren's father? There was only one Thompson Nate knew who had been in the navy, and they had hardly been on good terms. Captain Thompson had come close to scuppering Nate early on in his career, and had hounded his wake as he attacked and raided shipping as much as he could during the final years of his career in the Royal Navy. "They can't be related can they? I certainly never heard of anything" Nate pushed the thought from his mind. It didn't matter.

"I knew she was a pirate Carmichael. The German girl sorting the long nines is a mercenary after the bounty on her head. I thought I recognised this French woman but her name means nothing to me." Nate placed his hands under his chin and leant his elbows on the table. "This doesn't help me. Did you hear anything else? See a name or any details on the poster?"

Carrington chuckled at Nathaniel's seeming concern at his wounding. The pair were as hearty and as lucky as any, and it would take far more than some hopeless shot to bring either of them down, but he appreciated the notion all the same.
Ignoring the remark about the compass because he already had a new one lined up, and even if he hadn't he knew the Captain would make good on his promise.
He blinked for a moment as he recalled the young woman he had seen, and inadvertently stroked, working on the cannons on deck.
A German bounty hunter was strange in these parts indeed, but then again, everything was strange lately, and there was no point in dwelling on the matter.

A grin spread across his face as the earnest questioning of Nathaniel came forth and he drained his mug as he continued, "Well Nathaniel, as I was below deck of the Illustrious, I managed to catch a good look at the poster that Miss Thompson held, and I also heard enough of their conversation to put some pieces together. About a decade, most likely more ago, we came across a ship that was apparently a merchant vessel simply carrying cargo, but I recognized a man from a poster that you wound up fighting in single combat before we sank the entire vessel. Well... it would appear that that we were mistaken. The only thing I think you would truly find interesting about Miss Thompson's poster is the name, Serpent's Teeth."

Nate slammed his palm down on the table as that night flashed before his eyes in a moment of clarity. How could he have forgotten? That dark and stormy night ten years ago had nearly ended his career before it had begun in earnest. Still a new captain in the Royal Navy, he had taken his ship on the hunt for the infamous 'Serpent's Teeth', a French pirate the Navy had been hunting a long while. As he recalled, Isaac Thompson his tormentor had been heading up the chase, before the old fool got himself crippled.

Nate had caught up with the ship the Serpent's Teeth was using in the middle of a raging storm, sheet rain slashing across the decks of both ships as cannons blazed and wood slammed together in the boarding. Quick flashes of images of combat lit by lightning and gunfire went through Nate's mind, and he saw the man, twin sabers twirling as they duelled back and forth across the soaking deck. Each gained the advantage in turn, a swift blow nearly severing Nate's jugular. A kick in the chest had sent the man sprawling backwards as Nate followed with his sword, jamming it between the man's ribs and through his heart. The rest of the night was a blur.

"That's impossible Carmichael. We killed the Serpent's Teeth, wrecked his ship. It can't possibly have been her." Nate picked up the drink Carrington had poured him and downed it, his fist clenching the empty cup in white knuckled fury. "How could it be her?" The pieces were fitting together now, and Nate was, for once, at a loss. "Are you sure Carmichael? It's not just someone who looks like the person on the poster? God be damned if the Serpent's Teeth was a woman. A regular damn Anne Bonney" Picking up the cup Nate threw it through the broken window, clenching and unclenching his fists as he wracked his brain.

Carrington was rather impassive as Nate reacted to his revalation. He was familiar with such things that he had suspected such an outburst, but the Navigator knew what he saw and knew what he recalled.
"We saw a man fighting with a pair of cutlasses, and not very well. You fought him with one and defeated him, and everything we had been led to believe was that this, Serpent's Teeth was nearly unmatched with a pair of swords. Ye handily beat him whilst I fought plenty of 'is own men. Only a 'andful of people made it off of that ship, mostly women. Who has carried a confiscated blade upon the ship so far? And, while we're at it, let us think of the many goings on aboard. We have a new first mate trying to prove herself while constantly belittling the crew she should be winning over, we have an apparent bounty hunter eyeing our cannon, we 'ave a nigh legendary pirate stowing away on the ship, while her kin is tending to our men. My suggestion would be to assign someone to the younger lass. Perhaps Mr. Franklin, he's as trustworthy and loyal as they come, or Mr. Donovan. We all know he fancies boys, and she would be safe with 'im until she gets your wounds, and we get her guardian sorted one way or another."

Fuming in silence, Nate listened to what Carrington said and turned it over in his mind. At the moment he didn't trust his judgement. Heat was all very well and good in a battle, but this required delicate handling. If it was true, and Jacqueline was the real Serpent's Teeth, things could go deadly very quickly if she remembered what he did. Granted he had been younger, and years at sea had not been kind to his complexion, but there was a chance she would eventually recognise him. Damnation for not remembering earlier. The only chance he would have is if she was out of practice, and he was as good as he hoped. Fighting dirty was always an option. On board the Acheron, there was nowhere to run, and a few hundred men hunting you through a small space was not something he envied her if she chose to try and kill him.

Looking up at Carrington, Nate nodded. "See to it. Get Mr. Dogood to watch the girl though. I trust him more than your hounds." Here Nate stood, going over to the shattered window. "Mr. Donovan can assist Madmoiselle Thuron in the galley. I want you watching Lieutenant Thompson. If she does anything more to threaten this ship, I want to hear about it. But make no moves for now. I want no trouble on the Acheron" Turning back towards Carrington Nate nodded towards the door. "You can go. I want to think for a while."

Carrington noted the sudden change from old friend to veteran captain and saluted smartly as he stood, recieveing his orders.
"It shall be done, Sir. I shall only make a move if anything threatens the Lady, or the crew itself... While I am thinkin' of it, Captain, do we 'ave a 'eadin' that I might plot out, or should I devote m'self to watching Miss Thompson?"

Nate scowled deeply. "Weren't you listening Mr. Carrington? I announced Sou-Sou-West. But I will tell you we are heading to Corunna, round Brittany then on to Spain. A short stop shall see us ready to sail the Atlantic." Pulling himself up to his full height, Nate assumed all his bearing of command. "Jump to it Mr. Carrington. I don't want to founder in a cross current in the Bay of Biscay. The French don't like us too much."

Carrington smiled in an almost sadistic light at Nathaniel answered his query. He knew damn well the order in which his captain, and friend wanted things done, but if he let his mind set to the things he desired at present, it wouldn't always work out quite so well in the future. After he had finished, Carrington snapped a final salute and headed out to find Mr. Franklin, and Mr. Donovan to inform them of their respective parts to play.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: 'Smiling' Carmichael Carrington Character Portrait: Angelique Thuron Character Portrait: Rashid Alamba
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Angelique was giddy with glee as she set about fixing up the men aboard the Acheron. After Ren had given her the treasure of a lifetime of books and vials and the like, she had set upon the closest wounded man she could find, cleaning up his minor scrapes and cuts as though his life depended on it. Not that he seemed to mind; if anything, the sailor seemed to enjoy being cleaned up by such a pretty face as herself.

She was nearly finished with the man when she heard someone speak beside her.

Bonjour, ma belle femme,” the voice of the navigator carried through her focus. Her head lifted to behold his soaked, pistol laden form, hair sticking up and bloodied like the rest of him. Fortunately, none of it appeared to be his, though secretly she wished some of it was so she could stitch him up. His charm was almost as intoxicating as the old bottle of wine she'd swiped last year from Bertie when he was asleep. Despite the gore, Carrington was certainly handsome.

She was about to reply and bat her lashes at him, but his eyes suddenly narrowed past her towards her aunt. “Hold that thought, lass,” he whispered to her, and headed off to talk to the captain. Angelique shrugged. There were plenty of handsome, easily manipulated men aboard, and losing the interest of one (even one as alluring as Carrington) was nothing to worry about.

The young Thuron patted the man on the shoulder. “Be careful, okay? As much as I'd love to see you again, I'd rather not be dressing you up.” Angelique gave the man a wink before flitting off to a man with a decent gash in his leg. She went around like this for a few minutes, fixing up the men that would let her work and making note of those with worse injuries for later. It was hard to work with the Captain’s speech, and she had to practically chase her latest victim deep into the ship.

Angelique hated the way the ship was laid out, as she couldn't find the way back up on deck once she lost the sailor she was looking for. She stumbled around for a bit like a lost puppy, seeing not a single person to assist her in her quest to fix up all the injured aboard the Acheron. She ended up heading further down, clomping around until she found herself almost running into a tall, broad man on her way into the hold.

Sir, ye know our grog supplies aren't as strong as they should be. I'm not one to question yer decisions, but we'll be out of the devil's brew before the month is out,” the man began, before realizing that this was not, in fact, the captain. “Why hullo. I don't believe I've had the immense pleasure of making yer acquaintance." He winked and doffed an invisible hat as he dropped into a low bow. "I am none other than Tigerman Rashid Alamba, quartermaster. And you are?"

Angelique scowled as he bowed. “You certainly have the manners of a tiger,” she muttered before putting on her sweetest darling face. “Angelique, the new ship’s doctor,” she replied, smiling and curtsying. “Though I seem to have gotten a mite lost, good sir. You haven't happened to see a man with matted brown hair and blood running down his left side of his face? Head wounds do bleed more than anything, and I'd like to get him cleaned up before he passes out.” She kept a smile on her face as she talked, glancing around the hold of the ship. It seemed bigger on the inside than she expected.

Setting

Characters Present

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Karena smiled back.

“Sure! Show the way.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karena nodded as Ren told her of her alias.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fire when ready.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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