Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Duke of disgrace

August 23, 1740

It had been a calm few days at sea, the new 'crew' was settled in mostly now. The two women had been aboard for a month and though they weren't sailors, they were an asset to the ship, repairing sails and helping with cooking and other tasks that they learned as they went. The women and their chosen protectors seemed equally content and pleased with the arrangements and most of the crew respected the way things were. Cervantes appeared well suited to his position and was doing a fine job so far, Dominick was earning his keep and not causing trouble. Even Jack was mostly behaving which meant some trouble was brewing somewhere and would likely hit the Opal soon. Treasure smiled slightly at the thoughts that passed through her mind as she stood near the wheel watching over everything.

She was about to turn and head to her cabin to make an entry in her log when a voice called out "Sail!" Her step halted and she looked to the horizion, indeed there was something there. She moved to resume her position, one arm folded behind her, resting at her lower back. She wondered if this was the trouble or simply a prelude to it. "Nance!" She called for the man's attention. "Make note of who spotted the sail." She told him as she scanned the water and the ship in the distance. This was no wreck, it was a bounty waiting for them to take it.

"Aye! Noted, Captain!" Nance shouted, gathering to direct those out of Will's reach. "Prepare to bring her around to meet the pretty lady, boys. Cannons to the ready but hold for the Captain's order!" He hopped down to attend a rope and secure a boom. East India Trading company was Nance's first guess, and first hope, though the other ship was too far out to identify yet. "Aye, give her a warm welcome, but expect surprises," he muttered to himself.

"Come on boys, lets catch ourselves a pretty fish." Treasure called out to encourage the men as they started to scramble into place to take on the other ship, all eager for the adventure and the bounty she might hold. The Opal was a fast ship, the fastest if what Jack said was true, and she believed this was one of the few truths he told, since he didn't like to say so often, and insult the Pearl.

She came up from where she'd been attending her 'chores', in an outfit she'd fashioned partly from the fine dress she'd been wearing when brought on board and a pair of trousers she'd been given. The top of her dress had been modified into a vest of sorts and the trousers taken in, her dagger strapped at her hip and her red and black markings showing on her strong arms. She didn't say anything as she came up beside Nance and reached to offer him help if he wanted it.

Nance looked up to see who was assisting him, struck to find her there, and just as pleased. "Thank you," he nodded, giving her a smile as he dug at the rope, pulling it hard with his foot anchoring him against the hull. "Take the end of the rope there, secure it. Can you knot it?" The question was fair considering what little he'd come to know about her thus far. It wasn't a simple thread meant to hold a closure on a gown, afterall, but meant to hold the boom in place and keep the sail tightly inward while the ship turned. If it took too much wind, they could veer and possibly tip under their own wake.

Her head nodded to his thank you. "You're welcome." Was her quietly spoken reply. She looked at the rope as she took it up in her hands, her eyes closed for a breath when he asked if she could knot it. When they opened as she exhaled, her movements were quick and precise. Her strength showed as she pulled the rope and secured it, knotting it perfectly before she turned her gaze moved back to Nance. Her expression seemed to question many things, if she'd done right and how did she know how to do so?

"At the ready, Captain," Dominick beamed, coming up beside her and eagerly seeking direction since Nance seemed too busy at the moment to send him after anything. A mop and bucket or a pitch of straw wasn't going to be much good in taking on a rival ship. The brightness of his smile shrank away slightly when he realized that before he'd merely watched and picked up the pieces afterward. It was Cervantes who was the skilled one. He knew patches and lashings well enough to help heal his shipmates after taking on British or Islanders, but he hadn't handled much more than a stout bladed knife in a close fight. Thick air was swallowed sharply. He'd never killed anyone, either. He didn't dare show that fear or lacking ability to the Captain. He was a pirate! A sworn blade at her command! He refused to back down from an order that might have him take a life and waited for her commands. He did hope that he could watch Cervantes and learn a little more, though, or even better - he could watch the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow!

Will came upon the beaming cabin boy as he confronted the captain and awaited orders. He had a thought or two and wondered if Treasure had the same thoughts in mind. "So it seems you are. Find our quartermaster and bring him here. He seems fit to want to use his blade in games, he can use it there," Will nodded toward the other ship, wondering whether he should voice his other consideration to send the dormouse with him and keep him occupied.

Nance watched the girl and how she called upon a memory she wasn't sure she could reach. So many things had escaped her he no longer felt he should ask what she knew or didn't, but would still try. The knot was one he wouldn't expect her to know randomly and was done with an understanding of someone who had been closely around ships for some time, by someone who knew the slack and weight of a rope. He nodded. "That's right, nicely done. Thank you again. How are you at climbing?" He didn't mean it to slight her or simply to watch her wiggle and sway up the mast. More ropes needed tending quickly if they were going to anchor at all or if there was going to be cannon fire.

She grinned, looking like she was a cat with a tiny mouse hidden behind the mischevious smile. She nodded, looking up with an expression that said again it was a memory she was reaching for but somehow she knew she could climb and enjoyed it. The clouded memories made her smile falter a moment -she knew the husband she'd lost would never let her do such things.. so why was she with him if he held her back and restricted her. Her gaze fell back to Nance. "You allow me to be who I am.. even though I don't fully remember what that is." The look in her eyes likely said how much that, how much he meant to her though she didn't have time to say more. With a shift of her feet and a small leap she started up the mast for the ropes that needed tending.

Josette came to offer what help she could in securing items on the deck and getting things ready for them to face off with the other ship. It was terribly exciting and though she'd heard many stories from her previous husbands, it was nothing like actually being a part of it. She was becoming more and more accustomned to this life and found that she did very much prefer to be a pirate than to be married off to them by her mother. She'd fled that life to find herself in this one.. and it felt like this is where she was supposed to be, even if she felt like she was lacking in knowledge of 'ship' things. She was willing to learn and doing her best to make herself useful aboard the Opal and to Victor in 'other' ways that made her blush lightly at the thought. Her outfit was much like those now worn by the other women aboard the ship, she'd helped to make them and was happy with the way they'd come out. Hers was most like Octavia's but a bit more feminine and soft than the other girls' since she mostly kept busy with cooking and sewing.

Treasure turned to Will after taking in the other ship for long moments and lowered her scope to give him a brief smile. "Off the starboard bow.. She looks ill equipped for a meeting with us. I suspect we won't need to waste much powder to bring her down. A few rounds and to the ropes I'd say.. what do you see?" She offered him the scope so that he might observe the ship as well and offer his thoughts, she already had her own ideas but wanted to know if his were similar.

Fetching Cervantes was all they wanted of him? His smile crimped with his confusion as he nodded. "I'll fetch him for you. Then we'll have our orders, right?" He did mean 'we' and wouldn't let his mentor have all the fun. At least it always had looked like fun though he knew the darker end of the story too. "Should I get Jack too? Where is he?"

"Jack will find his way, no need for you to fret over him. He pops up at the oddest times and in the strangest places. I need Cervantes on deck, though." Treasure spoke over her shoulder to Dominick, her gaze still out toward the other ship though she passed Wll her scope. "Be prepared boys.." She was speaking to Dom and others who were in range. "I expect the cannon fire to be over quickly, then it's to the ropes and into the fray. There's much fun to be had."

Will took the scope, keeping his commentary about Jack behind a sneering grin. She'd said it nicer than he'd have. She was right about having fun with taking on the other ship, though. "Could have that without firing a shot. Her crew's light.." he observed, spying the deck and the few hands he could see. He glanced back toward Nance and his helper as the Opal's sails took wind and snapped sharp under their turn. "We'll be on her in minutes with that wind in our favor. No way for her to outrun, or outgun... not so much as a hint of brass or spark of a fuse, yet. Either they don't see us coming... or they have no idea who we are. What do you say, Captain? Spare the powder and let the boys raise the colors and have their day?"

"Boys do need to have their fun, now don't they?" She smiled, the grin clearly showing she wanted to have her fun as well. "Well then mister Turner.. tell the men to spare the powder... let them have their fun." She turned to step up on the rail and gave the cry which would raise a cheer from the men. "Hoist the colors!" She'd let Will give the other half of the 'plan', they were a team after all.

Nance was on the task as the order rang out, he and another hand tying the Opal's vibrant warning, clashing metal blades and a wash of purple, to the ropes and pulling them higher for the black haired woman to secure while she climbed around the top of the mast. Indigo... Nance pondered, looking up at the woman and the flag and sails, deciding on something that had been troubling him.. perhaps India for her own ink that adorned her.

"All hands at the ready, Captain," Will nodded with a smile meant just for her as he returned the scope. He was intending to go aboard as well unless she had other plans. He turned to carry the order to the wind and the rest of the crew. "All hands - look alive!"

The girl on the mast was limber and quick, nearly soaring now as she flipped herself from one place to the next, perched and tightening things as needed. As the Opal's colors came up her legs went around the beam below her and she swung backwards, grasping and tying the bottom as she hung upside down. Moving just as swiftly she did the top and let the purple wave it's warning in the breeze along with her raven hair which whipped out behind her.

Dom ran off as told, in search of his friend, post haste. "Cervantes! Cerv... where are you? Oy, Cervantes?!" Down the ladders below deck and all the way down to the brig, he searched, dodging around other hands scurring above at the promise of the attack. What could he be doing that he wasn't already on deck and awaiting arrival at the other ship? Dominick stopped and turned back. The boats! Dom laughed and wondered if the man had already taken to one of the boats to gather all kinds of bounty from the ship. Strangely, he wondered... he hadn't seen Jack, either. He looked around as he resurfaced on deck, wondering where they both were. He had to find Cervantes. He had to show him how to handle a sword!

"Here boy. Hush your caterwaulings. You have found me, have you not?" Cervantes had heard the call to attention and had been checking the boats, but wasn't sitting idle in one. He appeared cross, but was merely only concerned. He'd seen the boy approach the Captain and first mate alone, directly without being called by them. "You're lucky she didn't decide to cast you overboard." He didn't want to scare his young friend or let him believe he was angry. Cervantes chuckled and turned the boy toward the Captain, setting his arm about the young man's shoulder as they walked. "You have a taste for this fight, do you not?"

"Taste? I crave it, Cerv. It's been months since we've crossed.. well, since you've crossed a blade and I've watched," he quieted, weighed under his mentor's arm, seeming burdened by more. Surely Cervantes wouldn't leave him if he was near death! He straightened himself up with the determination to show his friend what he was made of, that he could be victorious in a fight and do it alone. "I'm done watching. I'm a pirate now, a real pirate! Whatever's on that ship, I'm going to bring in my fair share!" The zeal was louder than he'd meant it, turning to see their steps had put them beside the captain yet again while he was ensconced in his thoughts and not paying attention.

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