Chapter 1: I
The air was thick with mist. The sea-side town was silent. The rain from the night before gathered in puddles and streamed through the grooves in the cobblestone streets. There was an eerie whisper from the courtyard where the nooses hung above the gallows. The ropes swayed slightly in the breeze. Heavy iron chains rattled across the cobblestones as a stream of men, women and children—all shackled—marched to the gallows.
“In order to put an end to the ungodly conditions and to enact the common good, by the order of Lord Gerard Argent, duly appointed representative of his majesty, the King,” a man in a brightly coloured uniform read, holding the scroll of parchment before himself and trying not to look at the tear-stained faces that passed him on the way to the gallows. “By his creed, the following statues are temporarily suspended: the right to assembly, suspended.”
There was a loud thunk as the trapdoors dropped and the nooses pulled taut.
“Right to legal counsel, suspended; right to verdict by a jury of peers, suspended. By decree, a person convicted of piracy, or aiding a person convicted of piracy, or associating with a person convicted of piracy, shall be sentence to hang by the neck until dead.”
The guardsmen in bright red uniforms unlocked the heavy shackles from the chain and escorted the next line of people up the stairs to the gallows. Among them was a child—no older than nine years old. His thin cotton shirt was torn and stained with mud and he clutched a battered coin in his hands.
He looked up at the noose that hung ominously above him.
He let out a shaky breath and looked down at the coin in his hands, running his thumb over the grooves of the design stamped into the smooth silver.
His voice was quiet, barely audible as he began to sing:
The King and his men
stole the Queen from her bed
and bound her in her bones
the seas be ours and by the powers
where we will we'll roam.
He flinched as the executioner set a barrel down in front of him. The man grabbed him and hoisted him onto the unsteady barrel, fastening the noose around the boy’s neck.
Beside the boy stood an old man, his dark skin wrinkled with age and his dark eyes void of emotion. He swallowed hard, the rope around his neck scratching at his throat. The words fell past his lips as a whisper,
Yo ho, all hands
Hoist the colours high.
One by one, the others on the gallows joined in, their voices carrying through the courtyard with an eerie echo, matched by to those who were shackled and awaiting execution.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars,
Never shall we die.
They stomped their feet against the pavement, the boots pounding the earth with at steady beat. They shook their chains, the iron crashing against the cobblestones.
Yo ho, haul together
Hoist the colours high
Heave ho, thieves and beggars
Never shall we die.
Yo ho, haul together,
Hoist the colours high.
One of the guards ran into the barracks, sprinting down the hallway and into office that overlooked the courtyard.
“Lord Argent,” he said with a polite nod, trying to catch his breath. “They’ve… begun to sing.”
Gerard sat at his desk. His face was creased and worn, his dark eyes staring into the distance. A wicked smirk lifted the corner of his lips as he said, “Finally.”
From the courtyard, the voices of the prisoners carried through the air.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars…
The boy on the gallows turned his eyes to the dreary grey sky.
Never shall we die.
The was a loud thud as the executioner pulled the lever and the floor drops beneath them. The crack of the rope rang out.
Time seemed to slow, sound amplified as the battered silver coin fell from the boy’s hand, striking the ground with a bang.
The water parted around the hull of the dingy, the water pooling around him like ink—lit only by the dull glow of the lanterns that hung from the piers and storefronts of the city that sat on the water. His oar cut through the still water, sending ripples across the dark water.
The young man was dressed in heavy blue robes, a fine pattern woven into the thick silk. A straw hat sat atop his head, casting shadows across his face and obscuring his face from the soldiers that marched across the wooden walkways—heavy booths thundering across the withered planks.
He rowed through the water below the pylons that held up the shoreline city of Japan.
His voice was quiet as he sang, his words carried into the darkness,
The bell has been raised
from its water grave,
Hear its sepulchral tone.
A call to all
pay heed the squall
and turn yourself toward home.
He paused for a moment as the soldiers marched across the bridge above him. He glanced up, careful not to reveal his face.
He heard the faint trail of music as an organ grinder dressed in layers of ragged clothes wheeled their cart along the walkways, setting it down on by the bridge.
Yo ho, haul together.
Hoist the colours high.
He pulled the boat up alongside a flight of stone stairs, tying it off to a cleat on the edge of the stone wall. He climbed out of the small boat, glancing around as he stepped towards the stairs, following the lantern light.
“Thieves and beggars,” a man interrupted, his voice sharp as he enunciated each word—almost mockingly. “Never shall we die.”
The man was dressed in dark clothes, blending into the shadows of the night. A sword was strapped to his side, a gun holstered on the other, and a lantern in his hand. Four others—dressed the same as him—stood behind the man.
He lifted the lantern, shining it in the boy’s face. The glow lit his features: his pale skin covered with moles that charted constellations, his dark-brown eyes that turned to gold as they caught the light, and his unwavering composure as he lifted his chin defiantly.
“That’s a dangerous song to be singing,” the man lectured him. “Especially for a boy.” He paused for a second before adding, “Especially for a boy who’s alone.”
“What makes you think he’s alone?” a deep, gravelly voice asked from behind them.
The guards spun around, looking at the man who stood on the stone stairs. Chris sauntered down the cobblestone steps, unphased by the men who drew guns on him.
“You here to protect him?” the guard asked.
Stiles moved too quick for anyone to catch him. He drew a knife from under his robe and held it to the man’s throat, the blade digging into his skin. “What makes you think I need protecting?”
The other guards turned their pistols on Stiles.
“Your master is expecting us,” Chris said, keeping his voice level and calm. He glanced from the guards to Stiles. “And an unexpected death could cast a poor light on our meeting.”
Stiles got the message. He let out a measured breath and released the man, but he didn’t sheath his dagger.
The heavy thumping of soldiers marching across the wooden walkways caught their attention. They all backed up against the brick walls, pressing their backs to the uneven stones and sinking into the shadows.
“Follow us,” one of the guards said, melding into the shadows as they turned and walked along the narrow ledge, leading them away from the pier and under the bridges that held the city above the murky water.
“Have you heard anything from Derek?” Stiles asked Chris when they were far enough away from the soldiers not to be heard.
“Only that he’s on his way to acquire the charts and that you need to remember your place in the presence of Yukimura,” Chris replied, keeping his voice low.
Stiles rolled his eyes.
That’s a no then, he thought.
“Is she really that terrifying?” Stiles whispered, pretending to pay attention.
“Much like myself.”
Stiles glanced at him out the corner of his eye, levelling him with a look but he bit back his comment.
They made their way through the dimly-lit streets until they reached a large building. Wisps of steam rose from the gaps int eh door, the smell of moisture and bath salts drifting into the tepid air outside.
One of the guards knocked on the door.
A small window opened, a pair of dark eyes looking out at them.
The guard said something quietly and the window shut again. A second later, a series of clicks sound out as the locks were drawn back and the heavy wooden doors opened.
They stepped into the room, feeling the heat and humidity seep into their skin.
“Weapons, please,” a man beside the door said.
Chris took the lead, shrugging off his heavy coat and hat. He drew his pistols from the waistline of his pants and unbuckled the belt that held his sheathed sword.
Stile reluctantly followed his lead. He untied the straw hat that hung around his neck and set it down on the table. He unfastened the heavy blue coat he wore and shrugged it off, exposing the belts that were strapped around his waist and across his shoulders. The guards watched him with wide eyes as he set the coat down on the table nearby and began to unfasten the belts that held daggers, swords, pistols and ammunition. They fell to the table with a heavy klunk as he turned back to the guards.
A thought struck him. He held up his hand before reaching down and pulling out the knifes that were concealed in his boots.
Finally finished, Stiles turned back to them, flashing an innocent smile.
Chris took a step forward, but the guard who stood before the doors to the bathhouse held up his hand, stopping him. He nodded towards Stiles. “You think he is a boy that we do not suspect him of treachery?”
Stiles looked down at himself. He was still wearing a shirt, pants, and a thick black coat. He let out a sigh as he unbuttoned his coat and shrugged it off his shoulders, revealing another belt that was strapped to his waist, lined with grenades. He unbuckled the belt and set it aside. He reached into the back of his shirt, pulling the cotton up and drawing his pistol from the small of his back.
The eyes of those watching on grew wider the more weapons Stiles uncovered.
Just to make sure, he pulled his off his worn leather boots, setting them aside on the table.
The guard looked him up and down, still not satisfied.
Stiles looked down at himself again, now only dressed in a shirt and pants.
“Oh, come on,” Stiles scoffed.
The guard’s gaze didn’t wave.
“At least let me keep some decency,” the boy pleaded.
The guard looked from Stiles to the pile of weapons that laid on the table.
Stiles followed his gaze. He let out a heavy sigh, levelling the guard with a livid glare as he reluctantly pulled his trousers off, letting the baggy fabric of his shirt hang down to his thighs. The thin fabric of the faded shirt clung to his lean form, leaving nothing to the imagination and making it clear he was concealing no more weapons.
He tossed his pants onto the pile, glaring at the guard.
The man gave him another once over before stepping aside and pulling back the curtain.
Chris lead the way into the bathhouse. Plumes of steam rose around them, the smell of jasmine hanging in the air. They walked past soaking tubs full of water and soaking bodies.
Stiles shifted from foot to foot, self-consciously tugging at the hem of his shirt.
One man met his gaze. His skin was stretched tight across his body, rippled and scarred as if it were bandages or sun-bleached seaweed. The side of his face was covered in pippies, their hard shells embedded in his ghostly-pale flesh.
Stiles felt his stomach twist. He swallowed hard against the growing lump in his throat as he forced himself to look away, following Chris’ heavy footsteps as they made their way to the far end of the bathhouse.
Stiles glanced up at the small alcove at the far end of the room. A woman sat on a large chair, her long dark hair sitting around her face. Her face was worn with age, but her dark eyes held strength and wisdom. She wore a black omi, the dark fabric embroidered with red, silver and gold thread that traced elegant patterns across the glossy silk.
Chris took another step forward, dipping into a low bow. He slapped Stiles’ side, prompting him to do the same.
“Captain Argent,” Noshiko greeted, her voice calm and level. “Welcome to Japan. I understand you have a request to make of me.”
“More of a proposal,” Chris said, straightening his back to look at her. “I have an adventure underway and I am in need of a ship and a crew.”
Noshiko looked pensive. “That is quite a coincidence.”
“Because you happen to have a ship and a crew you don’t need?” Stiles asked.
“No, because earlier today, a thief broke into my dear mother’s temple and tried to make off with these—“ She held out her hand, waiting for the young woman standing behind her to hand over the bundle of rolled, painted bamboo. “The Navigational Charts. The route to the farthest gate.” She tossed them into the arms of one of the nearby guards. “Wouldn't it be amazing if this venture of yours took you to the world beyond this one?”
“It would strain credulity at that.”
Yukimura turned her gaze to two men who stood by a small pool. She gave them a sharp nod.
Stiles turned to see them haul a man out of a bathtub of water.
He wore an old grey shirt, the fabric darkened by the water soaked through the fabric. His clothes clung to his broad shoulders and sculpted abs. His arms were bound to a long bamboo pole, the coarse rope leaving angry red welts against his wet skin.
The man had a square jaw that was darkened by stubble. His thick, dark hair had fallen out of its tie and fallen around his face. The wet strands parted as the man heaved in broken breaths. He blinked the water out of his eyes, looking up at them with pale green eyes.
“This is the thief,” Noshiko said. “Is his face familiar to you?”
They shook their heads.
“Very well,” she said, pulling a wooden spike from under her robe. She took a step closer, grabbing a fistful of Derek’s hair and jerking his head back. “Then I guess he has no further need for it.”
She pressed the pike to Derek’s chin.
“No!” Stiles yelped.
Chris threw out his arm, catching the boy before he could take another step forward.
Noshiko took a step back, a dark rage settling on her face. “You come into my city and you betray my hospitality.”
“Noshiko, I assure you, I had no idea—”
“That he would get caught!” she shouted.
The bathhouse fell silent, all eyes turning to them as a few of the guards readied their hands on their weapons.
Noshiko let out a steady breath, lowering her voice as she continued, “You intend to attempt the voyage to Davy Jones' Locker. But I cannot help but wonder why?”
In a flash of movement, Chris tossed her a silver coin.
She caught it and held it up to her ear, listening to the eerie echo of its ringing.
“The song has been sung,” Chris said calmly. “The time is upon us. We must convene the Brethren Court. As one of the nine pirate lords, you must honour the call.”
“There is a price on all our heads,” Yukimura reminded him. “And it seems the only way a pirate can turn a profit anymore—" She turned to look at Derek. “—is by betraying other pirates.”
“We must put our differences aside. The First Brethren Court gave us rule of the seas. But now that rule is being challenged by Lord Gerard Argent.”
“Your father,” she reminded him, levelling her gaze on Chris.
“Perhaps, but I have no loyalty to him.”
“Against East India Trading Company, what value is the Brethren Court? What can any of us do?” Noshiko asked.
“You can fight,” Stiles argued, taking a step forward. One of the guards grabbed his arm but Stiles wretched it free, throwing manners to the wind as he took another step forward. “You are Noshiko Yukimura, the pirate lord of Japan. You command in an age of piracy where bold captains sail free waters, where waves aren't measured in feet, but as increments of fear, and those who pass the test become legends. Would you have that era come to an end on your watch? The most notorious pirates from around the world are uniting against our enemy, and yet you sit here cowering in your bathwater!”
A look of surprise and amazement passed over Noshiko’s face as she looked down at the brazen you man. A small smile turned up the corners of her lips.
“Stiles Stilinski,” she started slowly. “There is more to you than meets the eye, isn't there?” She took a step forward, sliding a finger beneath the young man’s chin. “And the eye does not go wanting.”
Derek flinched, straining against the pole he’s bound too.
“But I cannot help but notice you have failed to answer my question,” Yukimura said, turning back to Chris. “What is it that you seek in Davy Jones' Locker?”
“Peter Hale,” Derek answered.
The smile fell from Noshiko’s face.
“He's one of the pirate lords,” Derek added.
Chris stepped forward. “Peter Hale holds one of the nine pieces of eight. He failed to pass it along to a successor before he died. We must go and get him back.”
Noshiko turned away from them, her eyes falling on the young man who stood by a nearby bathtub, his back to them. She watched as the steam rose around his body, droplets of water and sweat turning black as the tattoo on his shoulder bled ink.
She let out a measured breath, feeling the rage rise from within her. “So, you admit you have deceived me.”
Chris’ brow furrowed.
Noshiko turned sharply. “Weapons!”
The guards drew their swords, men standing up from the steaming bathwater and unsheathing blades that had been concealed beneath the water.
“Yukimura,” Chris says calmly. “I assure you, our intentions are strictly honourable.”
There was a rush of air as their swords flew up through the gaps in the floorboard. Stiles and Chris caught them.
Stiles let out an exasperated sigh, looking heavenwards as Chris flashed a charming smile.
Noshiko grabbed the man, pressing the end of the spike to his throat. “Drop your weapons or I kill the man.”
Chris glanced between Stiles and Noshiko. “Kill him; he's not our man.”
Derek’s eyes widened. “If he's not with you, and he's not with us... who's he with?”
There was a thundering boom as the doors to the bathhouse were blown open. Splintered wood rained down around them, knocking Stiles to the ground.
He pushed himself onto his hands and knees, turning in time to see the soldiers in the brightly coloured uniforms march into the building.
“Damn,” he uttered under his breath. He grabbed his sword, leaping to his feet as the solders charged towards them.
Metal crashed against metal as the guards fought off the soldiers.
A soldier drew his sword, crying out as he charged at Derek. Derek jerked his body to the side, dodging the blade as he slammed the bamboo pole he was bound to into the man’s wrist. The soldier cried out in pain, dropping his sword and clutching his hand. He turned to look back at Derek, but not in time; Derek swung the pole into the man’s face and knocking him aside.
Stiles ducked to the side as a soldier fired a rifle at him, narrowly missing the bullet. He swung his blade, slicing through a soldier’s gut before sprinting across the room to Derek’s side.
“Derek,” he called out.
The man turned towards him.
Stiles sliced the ropes, freeing Derek’s arms, and tossed him one of his swords.
A soldier lifted their gun, aiming at Stiles. Stiles pushed the barrel aside, pulling the gun free of the man’s hold before running him through with his blade. He turned the gun around, aiming at a soldier that charged at Chris, and fired.
The soldier’s body jerked before collapsing at Chris’ feet.
Chris turned, looking back at Stiles in shock.
Stiles tossed the rifle aside, his attention drawn to the man in the black uniform. He felt his blood turn to ice in his veins, freezing as he looked at the man’s familiar face.
General Alexander Argent.
Alexander drew a pistol from his belt, levelling his aim on Stiles.
Derek sprinted across the room, tackling Stiles out of the way as the man fired.
“Are you okay?” Derek shouted over the screams, gunfire and crashing metal. He pushed his long hair back out of his face, his pale aventurine eyes looking down at Stiles with worry.
Stiles nodded, his words escaping him.
Derek leapt to his feet, pulling Stiles up with him.
The guards lined up across the exit, blocking their way out. They knelt in ranks and raised their rifles.
“Ready!” General Argent shouted.
Stiles felt his heart stop.
There was a thundering boom as the floor gave way beneath them, the guards falling into the tunnels below.
“Let’s go,” Derek shouted, grabbing Stiles’ arm and running towards the door.
They leapt across the broken flooring and ran into the streets. The city was in chaos, the night air filled with screams and gunfire.
Stiles’ feet pedalled beneath him as he ran. His bare feet struck the wooden boards of the walkways as he sprinted towards the docks, fighting off soldiers as he ran.
Derek let go of Stiles’ arm, turning to fight off a soldier that charged at them. He blocked the man’s sword, parrying before swinging his arm up and slicing through the man’s chest.
He felt someone pull him back into the shadows. He spun around, holding up his sword.
Noshiko blocked it, her voice quiet as she spoke, “It's an odd coincidence, isn't it? The East India Trading Company finds me the day you show up in Japan.”
“It is coincidence only,” Derek assured her. “If you want to make a deal with Lord Argent, you need what I offer.”
“You would cross Christopher Argent, you are willing to cross Peter Hale,” Yukimura said, hesitant. “Why should I expect any better? How can I assure you will not cross me?”
“I need the Lunar Eclipse to free my sister.” Derek reached for his hip with his free hand, unsheathing a small knife—the one Cora had given him. He held it up to show her. “You're helping me to get it.”
Stiles ran past the organ grinder’s music box, vaulting over a nearby merchant stand and dropping behind it. He heard the thundering footsteps of the soldiers that ran after him.
The music began to slow, the drum rolling to a halt as the melody died out.
An explosion tore through the air, the raging fire lighting the night sky with a bright orange glow.
Stiles let a breath fall from his lips, turning to face the woman who sat beside him, dressed in rags of what used to be an expensive dress. The once-white fabric had been tainted and muddied, stained brown but still showing patches of the original colour: shades of blue and white. The layers of fabric made it look like the crashing waves and white caps of the ocean. The dress had been patched up with strips of fabric and decorated by scarves and jewels, making the frail lace of her corset and the billowing skirt stand out against her dark skin.
Braeden smiled at him.
Stiles offered her his hand, helping her to her feet before leading the way across the walkways, towards the docks.
One by one, the crew began to gather.
Lydia and Allison appeared, covered in blood and soot.
“Not a word,” Stiles said warningly as Lydia passed Stiles his pants and coat, struggling to hide her smirk.
Stiles dressed himself, pulling on his pants and tucking the shirt into the waistline before shrugging on his coat.
Scott and Isaac appeared, carrying the cache of weapons Stiles and Chris had been forced to abandon at the door.
Stiles took back his weapons, strapping the belts around his waist and across his chest.
Next was Chris, a gun in one hand and a sword in the other. Derek appeared behind him, trailed by the young girl Stiles had seen in the bathhouse.
“Do you have the charts?” Chris asked as Derek caught up with them.
Derek held up the roll of painted bamboo. “Better yet: a ship and a crew.”
“Where's Yukimura?” Stiles asked.
“She'll cover our escape and meet us at Shipwreck Cove,” Derek explained.
“This way,” the young girl with long dark hair directed. “Quickly.”
Derek took Stiles’ hand, following the girl towards the ship.
The crew quickly set to work, casting off and sailing away.
Stiles stood on the bow of the ship, watching as the dancing orange flames consumed the city, the darkness of the night filled with the blood-curdling screams of men and women as they fought.
He heard footsteps across the wooden deck as Braeden stepped up his side, her eyes focused on the rippling sheet of dark water.
“Do you think Yukimura will honour the call?” Stiles asked.
“I do not know,” she replied. “There is an evil on these seas that even the most staunch and bloodthirsty pirates have come to fear.”
Chapter 2: II
The nightmarish ship tore through the waves, spraying water across the merchant ship as it breached from the depths. Cries of panic and agony rang out across the open water, drowned out by the raining cannon fire as the cannon balls tore through the ship.
The crack of splintering wood was the last thing to be heard as the ship was torn apart and pulled beneath the tide.
A wicked smile lifted the corners of Lord Argent’s mouth as he listened to the sounds fade. He leant back in the seat behind his desk, rows of carved wooden figurines—soldiers—lined up in front of him, a heavy, black iron chest sitting beside him with the beating heart of Deucalion still inside of it, and a row of eight battered silver coins lined up in front of him. He picked up one of them, spinning it on the flattened edge and listening to the metal hum.
“A piece of eight,” Gerard mused. He glanced up at Alexander. “Nine of them, you say?”
“Our new friend in Japan was very specific, sir,” General Argent replied.
Gerard nodded, watching as the coin fell flat on the desk, wavering slightly before the low hum died and the coin fell still. “Nine pieces of eight… What’s the significance of that? It doesn’t matter; nothing can hold against the armada, not with the Alpha at the lead.
“Nothing we know of,” Alexander corrected.
“Did your friend mention where the Brethren Court are meeting?” Gerard asked.
“No,” his brother replied.
Gerard let out a heavy sigh, his eyes darkening in thought. “Then they know the value of information.”
He turned, glancing across the cabin to where Governor Stilinski sat behind a heavy mahogany desk, piles of papers stacked up in front of him as he signed whatever was passed to him.
“It would be best to keep this between ourselves. We don’t want anyone running off to Japan, do we?”
The doors to the office opened as a man stepped into the room, staying by the doorway and staring dead ahead.
“Ah, Admiral,” Argent greets, turning to face the man.
“You summoned me, Lord Argent,” Tate says, his voice dry.
“Yes. There’s something for you there.” He nodded to a nearby table. “Your new station deserves an old friend.”
A black leather case sat of the table top. Tate paused for a moment, recognising it instantly. He reached for the brass locks and flicked them open. Inside, sitting on the bright red velvet lining, was an elegant dress sword and a scabbard, both beautifully designed with careful attention to detail. The folded steel sword with a seam of gold down the engraved groove of the blade. The carved oak hilt with its gold filigree laid into it and leather strapping for grip.
It was the sword Derek made him for his promotion to commodore.
“Not more requisition orders,” he heard John say, his voice tired and edged with irritation.
“No, sir,” the guard handing him the papers replied. “Execution.”
Tate drew the sword from sheath, staring at the blade. His eyes turn to Governor Stilinski, finding the man staring back at him with weary, fearful eyes.
“The Brethren know they face extinction,” Gerard said, turning away from Tate and from his brother and looking out across the rippling waters. “All that remains is for them to decide where they make their final stand.”
He stepped out of his office and onto the deck, his eyes focused on the carnage and flotsam left in the wake of Deucalion’s latest victims.
“Bloody hell,” he cursed, amazed. “There's nothing left.”
“Deucalion is a loose cannon,” his brother said, stepping up to Gerard’s side.
“Fetch the chest,” Argent ordered.
“And the Governor?” Alexander replied. “He's been asking questions about the heart.”
“Does he know?” Gerard asked. Alexander didn’t reply. Gerard nodded. “Then perhaps his usefulness has run its course.”
His hands shook as his fingers danced across the organ keys, the sound resonating through the pipes and ringing in his hollow chest.
His fingers stilled, the sound drifting away as the sweet melody played from the music turner inside the locket that sat beside him. He watched the metal drum turn, the familiar tune playing as memories began to drift into his mind.
He remembered the smell of the sea the morning he found her unconscious on the shore, the bubbling seafoam clinging to her skin as the waves lapped at her still body. Her clothes were soaked through, clinging to her slender form. He remembered how light she was as he lifted her up off the sand and carried her to his house, lying her down on the small cot as he lit the fire and waited beside her until she woke.
He remembered her soft voice as she confessed her secrets, expecting him to flinch away and call her a monster, but he never did. He only loved her more.
He remembered the day that changed everything, when the storm hit the town and the boy was swept out to sea. He was helping the fishermen tie down their ships when he heard the boy’s sister screaming for him, her voice still ringing in his ears as she cried out Peter’s name.
He didn’t think twice—he dove off the pier and swam to the boy. He hauled him back to the pier where the fishermen lifted the boy onto the dock, but the wave hit. Deucalion lost his grip. He was pulled under the tow, his lungs burning for air as he was knocked about, spiralling until he couldn’t tell which way was up. His breath fell past his lungs, his body weakening as he gave up the fight.
He struck the deal; ferry the souls of those who die at sea, and in return step ashore every ten years. But when he returned ten years later, she was gone, leaving behind the lace wedding veil that was intertwined with a circlet made of woven strands of flowers: lily of the valley, snowdrops and sweat pea, a small silver pendant in the shape of a crab with a pearl in the centre of it—the one he had given her—and a letter.
Deucalion felt his heart ache. He reached for his chest, his fingers feeling the smooth ridge of his faded scar.
He felt a warm tear trail down his cheek. He wiped it away, feeling rage boil within him as his emotions clouded his mind.
He threw back his seat and stormed out onto the deck as the East India Trading Company’s soldiers formed ranks, their rifles in their hands.
“Go,” he howled. “All of you!” His eyes fell on the black iron chest, knowing what it held. “And take that infernal thing with you. I will not have it on my ship!”
“I'm sorry to hear that,” Gerard said, stepping forward from the shadows. “Because I will. It seems to be the only way to ensure that this ship do as directed by the company. We need prisoners to interrogate, which tends to work best when they're alive.”
“The Alpha sails as its captain commands,” Deucalion growled.
“And its captain is to sail it as commanded,” Argent said with finality.
He took a step forward, levelling his eyes on the ship’s captain.
“I would have thought you'd learned that when I ordered you to kill your pet,” Argent adds with distain. “This is no longer your world, Deucalion. The immaterial has become... immaterial.”
He waved forward two guards that carried the chest, ushering them into the captain’s quarters. They slid the key into the lock, the moulded metal shaped like a crab embedded into the ornate engravings of the chest shifting as they turned the key. The legs twitched as the gears moved and the lock unlatched.
They pulled back the lid, revealing the still-beating heart. The soldiers stepped aside as others joined them, raising their rifles and taking aim.
The gunshots rang out across the sea.
The hull of the ship creaked and groaned as it glided through the icy waters. Icebergs drifted past them, chunks of ice crackling and falling from cliff-like icy shelves and the banging against the side of the ship—making them jump.
The pulled their jackets and blankets around themselves, shivering as they fought off the cold.
Flurries of snow drifted around them, the delicate snowflakes clinging to their hair and skin.
Braeden’s voice drifted through the air like a ghostly whisper as she sang,
they are coming for you.
I can see three pirates on the ocean.
they are coming for you.
I can see three pirates on the ocean.
The first one lost his eye,
Stiles watched as she turned her eyes out to the sea, her eyes full of longing and thought. He realised who she was singing about.
The second lost his sense.
She looked down at the battered, old leather hat in her hands – Peter’s.
She lifted her gaze again, levelling her dark eyes with Stiles.
The third one will show no emotion.
Stiles felt a shiver run up his spin, guilt twisting his gut. He turned away from her, pulling his jacket tight around himself as he watched the ice gather across the still water and his breath swirl in clouds before his face.
“Why doesn’t the obeah woman bring Peter back the same way she brought back Chris?” Isaac asked, trying to keep his voice low.
“Because Chris was only dead,” Braeden answered. “Peter Hale is taken, body and soul, to a place not of death, but of punishment—the worst fate a person can bring upon himself, stretching on forever. That's what awaits us in Davy Jones' Locker.”
Derek stood up on the higher deck, leaning forward over the charts. His long hair was pulled back from his face and tied in a bun, a few stray strands escaping the thin cord he used to tie his hair back. His brow furrowed in thought as he tried to make sense of it all. His icy hands shake as he spins the circles, trying to line up land masses and markings.
“Nothing here is set,” he said through chattering teeth. “These can't be as accurate as modern charts.”
“No,” Kira replied. “But it leads to more places.”
Derek turned the outer ring until the black letters along the edge of the circles lined up.
"‘Over the edge. Over again’," he read. He turned it more, lining up the letters on the bottom of the ring. "‘Sunrise sets. Flash of green’."
Derek looked over his shoulder at Chris.
“Do you care to interpret?” he asked.
Chris’ expression didn’t waver. His voice rang out through the still, cold air as he called out, “Ever gazed upon the green flash, Master McCall?”
“I reckon I seen my fair share,” Scott answered from down below, standing beside Isaac. “It happens on rare occasions; the last glimpse of sunset, a green flash lights up the sky. Some go their whole lives without ever seeing it; some claim to have seen it who haven’t. Some say it signals when a soul comes back to this world from the dead.”
“Trust me, young Master Hale,” Chris said, his pale eyes set on the horizon as he turned the wheel and steered them through the icy passage. “It's not getting to the land of the dead that's the problem… It's getting back.”
Derek swallowed hard, his eyes drifting from the maps to Stiles’ small body at the bow of the ship. He stepped away from the charts, making his way down the ladder and onto the main deck. He stepped over to Stiles’ side, his pale aventurine eyes looking him over.
“How long do we continue not talking?” he asked.
“Once we rescue Peter, everything'll be fine,” Stiles said quietly.
“Once we rescue Peter,” Derek repeated, his voice full of pain as his mind leapt to conclusions.
Stiles didn’t meet his gaze. He buried his hands in the pockets of his jacket as he turned sharply and walked away.
Derek stared out into the distance, watching as the daylight faded to dusk and the darkness crept in.
The sound of rushing of water reached his ears, like a waterfall. His eyes flew open wide with terror as realisation struck him.
He turned, his heart leaping as Braeden stood before him, her dark eyes staring into the distance.
“For what we want most, there is a cost that must be paid in the end,” she said slowly.
Derek’s eyes drifted to her hands, her fingers toying with the faded brass necklace that hung around her neck—a heart-shaped music box with the picture of siren moulded into the metal. It looked familiar, looked just like the one Deucalion had sitting beside his organ the night Derek stole the key.
The sound of rushing water filled his head, drowning out all thought.
Derek stepped around her and ran to Chris. “Argent, ahead!”
“Aye, we're good and lost now,” the man replied nonchalantly, steering the wheel unperturbed.
“Lost?” Stiles gasped, making his way up from the deck below at the sound of Derek’s shouting.
“For certain, you have to be lost to find a place as can't be found,” Chris answered. “Otherwise, everyone would know where it was.”
Derek ran to the railing of the ship, looking over at the dark water that streamed by them. “We're gaining speed.”
“Aye,” Chris replied.
Stiles looked at Derek, his dark eyes wide and full of panic.
“To stations!” Derek ordered. “All hands to stations! Rudder full. Hard to port! Gather way.”
“Belay that!” Chris shouted over him, his voice carrying through the night air. “Let her run straight and true!”
“It’s the edge of the world,” Stiles realised. He turned to Argent, his face lit with fury. “You bastard. You've doomed us all.”
“Don't be so unkind,” the man said, stepping away from the wheel. He slid a finger beneath Stiles’ chin, coaxing the young man to look up at him. “You may not survive to pass this way again, and these will be the last friendly words you'll hear.”
The sound of rushing water was deafening.
The ship’s wheel began to spin, moved by the tow of water as they neared the edge.
He stepped away from Stiles, coiling his arm around one of the by-line ropes and standing proud on the railing.
“Hold on!” Derek ordered, reaching for a rail. His fingers brush against the wood, clawing as he struggled to get a grip on the slick, icy banister.
Stiles grabbed a by-line, coiling the coarse rope around his numb hands. His feet slipped from beneath him as the boat began to tip, the rope sliding through his weak grip. The rope burnt at his skin, searing agony tearing through his veins as he struggled to hold his grip.
The rope slipped again.
A cry slipped past his lips as he lost his grip, his body sliding down the deck as the hull of the ship tipped too far to be saved and they plummeted over the edge of the world.
Chapter 3: III
The abysmal stretch of blinding white oblivion stretched into nothingness—no horizon, no shadows, no end.
The dark wood of the deck and railing stood out in the glaring light, the ship somehow staying upright and balanced on its keel among the flat arid plain.
The endless silence was disturbed by the chatter of voices, the movement across the deck, and the thundering bang of his weathered old leather boots striking the decking.
His pale blue eyes scanned the ship, his face set in a scowl. His heavy leather coat sat on his shoulders, his vest hanging open—unbuttoned. The white shirt beneath it stained with dirt and blood. His brown hair was pulled back from his face.
Figures moved about the ship—illusions of himself acting out different roles.
He stalked across the ship towards a version of himself that was shirtless, his tanned skin covered in tattoos as he stood by the tack line.
“Mr. Hale?” he called, his voice carrying through the vastness.
“Aye, captain,” the man said, bolting upright and turning to face him.
“What say you about the condition of this tack line?” Peter asked, nodding towards the length of coal-black rope that hung loose, tied to the corner of the sail and fastened in place by the railing.
“It is proper to my eyes, sir,” the man replied.
“Proper?” Peter scoffed. “It is neither proper, nor suitable. It is not acceptable, nor adequate. It is—in obvious fact—an abomination.”
“Begging your pardon, sir,” the man apologised sheepishly. “But if you gave a man another chance.”
Peter froze, his icy-blue eyes focused on the man as his voice dropped, low and cold as he repeated the words back, “Another chance…”
In a flurry of movement, Peter drew his sword and ran the man through.
The sickening sound of metal tearing through flesh reached his ears as he pushed the sword in to the hilt, leaning in close as he whispered. “It's that sort of thinking got us into this mess.”
He drew back, pulling the blade free and letting the man’s body drop to the deck with a heavy thud.
“We have lost speed and, therefore, time. Precious time, which cannot be recovered once lost,” Peter mused, wiping his sword clean on a piece of rag cloth before sliding it back into his sheath. He turned back to the rest of the crew—the illusions that watched on with shocked expressions. “Do you understand?”
“Aye, captain,” they repeated in chorus.
“Do you now? It will all have to be redone. All of it,” Peter shouted as he stormed across the deck, making his way to the front of the ship. “And let this serve as a lesson to the lot of you. I have no sympathy for any of you and no more patience to pretend otherwise.”
He climbed up onto the railing and grabbed a rope, kicking it free of the hook it was coiled around and looping it around his arm.
“Gentlemen,” he said dramatically. “I wash my hands of this weirdness.”
He leapt off the bow of the ship, the rope pulling taut as he swung through the air. His feet landed on the solid ground with a heavy thump.
He looked out across the arid plains, the endless stretch of white earth, parched and cracked like the desert.
He let out a heavy sigh, glancing down at his feet where a smooth white rock sat. He picked it up, admiring the specks of grey that covered it. He shrugged and tossed it into the distance, listening as it bounced across the earth—the sound echoing into the oblivion.
He turned and walked away from the ship, musing quietly to himself, “You’ll go mad in the Locker, Peter. You’ll start talking to yourself. At least this is the most intelligent conversation I’ve had in years.”
The silence of the plains was disturbed by the sound of scuttering.
The world fell silent again.
He turned around, looking across the cracked earth, but nothing was there.
“Huh,” he muttered. As he moved to turn away again, he glanced down at his feet.
A rock lay at the scuffed toes of his boots.
Peter’s brow furrowed quizzically. He bent over and picked up the rock, turning it over in his hands as he eyed it suspiciously.
He shook his head and tossed it across the cracked earth, listening to it bounce.
He turned away again.
“Now I’m being followed by rocks,” he muttered as he walked away. “Never had that before.”
The sun beat against him, salty beads of sweat gathering on his brow as he wandered about the arid plains.
The sound so scuttering caught his attention again. His brow furrowed in confusion as he turned to look at where the sound was coming from. He watched as the speckled white rocks broke apart, morphing into crabs with hardened shells.
The crabs scurried across the ground, moving towards the ship and swarming around the dark wooden hull. They began to topple over each other, rolling like the foaming white caps on waves.
Peter blinked in surprise, trying to clear the vision from his mind.
The glaring sun was interrupted as a shadow passed over him.
He opened his eyes again, watching as the ship began to move across the dry earth.
He took in the sight of the barnacles that clung to the hull, the ashy black wood and the darkened, dirt-smeared windows and shadowy openings for the canons. The sails flickered and billowed, the canvas crackling as it was disturbed by movement rather than a breeze.
The glaring light of the sun flickered as it filtered through the holes in the canvas.
Peter stood still, watching as the ship cruised by.
He reached out and grabbed the thick length of black rope he had used to leap off the ship, coiling it around his arm and hauling himself back up onto the deck as the ship sailed on the rolling waves of crabs.
The foaming waves lapped at the shore, rolling back and forth as they dragged themselves out of the water and onto dry land.
Scott pushed himself to his feet, pushing his hair back from his face as he looked across the arid plains.
“This truly is a godforsaken place,” he uttered.
“I don't see Peter,” Stiles said, stepping up to Scott’s side. “I don't see anyone.”
“He's here,” Chris reassured him, trudging onto the dry land. “Deucalion would never give up what he fought so hard to take.”
“Does it matter?” Derek snapped. “We're trapped here because of you. Even if we do find Peter, we’re no better off than him.”
Stiles turned to see Braeden gather up the fabric of her skirt, bending down to pick up a small crab.
She held it gently, running her finger across its speckled white shell. A twisted smile worked its way onto her face as she said, “Peter is closer than you think.”
Stiles frowned in confusion. He opened his mouth to say something but fell silent as something caught his eye.
The ash-black canvas sails billowed and wavered as they rose above the crest of a nearby sand dune. Rolling waves of white crabs churned beneath the dark hull, coursing through the white sand and moving the ship forward.
Atop the main mast stood a figure, holding onto the wooden pillar with one hand as he looked out across the glistening water—defiant and proud.
The others watched on, amazed, as the Lunar Eclipse sailed over the crest of the sand dune and slid into the ocean. The crabs disappeared beneath the churning waves as the ship settled in the calm waters.
Peter climbed down from the mast, leaping overboard and made his way over to them.
The others rushed forward to greet the man as he stepped ashore and stalked across the white sand towards them.
Stiles took a step forward but froze. His smile of relief fell from his face as his stomach tensed and guilt set in.
“McCall,” Peter called out.
“Aye,” Scott replied, stopping by Peter’s side.
“There's been a perpetual and virulent lack of discipline upon my vessel,” Peter said, his voice level as he levelled his icy blue eyes on Scott.
“Peter,” Scott said quietly, trying to keep his voice calm. “You're in Davy Jones' Locker.”
“I know that,” Peter replied, his voice low and cold. “I know damn well where I am and how I got here.”
“Peter Hale,” Chris called out, burying his hands in the pocket of his heavy coat as he took a step forward.
Peter turned to the man, a charming smile lighting his face.
“Christopher,” he said, his silky voice full of charm. “It's been too long, hasn't it?”
“Aye. Isla de Muerta, remember?” Argent replied. “You shot me.”
Peter froze, his eyes widening.
“No, I didn't,” he denied. He quickly turned and moved on, smiling as his eyes fell upon Braeden. “Ah, Braeden, how lovely to see you. You add a touch of macabre to any delirium.”
Derek’s brow furrowed. “He thinks we're a hallucination.”
Peter stepped over to his nephew’s side, leaning forward until he was in the young man’s face, his pale blue eyes levelled with Derek’s.
“Tell me something,” Peter said quietly. “Have you come because you need my help to save a certain distressing damsel, or rather damoiseau, or dudemar? Either one.”
“No,” Derek answered.
“Well then, you wouldn't be here, would you?” Peter asked. “So you can't be here. Q.E.D., you're not really here.”
The voice made Peter freeze, the facade of composure and calmness falling from his face. HIs blood ran cold in his veins, rage brewing behind his eyes as he turned to look at Stiles.
“This is real,” Stiles said quietly. “We're really here.”
“Then I guess the only good news is that you’re here,” Peter snarled, pivoting on his ankle and storming away from the young man.
“We've come to rescue you,” Stiles called out, chasing after Peter.
“Have you, now?” he scoffed. “That's very kind of you. But it would seem—since I possess a ship and you do not—that you're the ones in need of rescuing, and I'm not sure that I'm in the mood.”
“I see my ship,” Chris said. He turned and pointed at the Eclipse. “Right there.”
“I can't see it,” Peter said, holding his hand up to his brow to shield his face from the sun as he peered out across the shimmering blue water. “It must be a tiny little thing, hiding somewhere behind the Eclipse.”
“Peter, Gerard Argent has the heart of Deucalion,” Derek said. “He controls the Alpha. He's taking over the seas.”
“The song has been sung,” Braeden told him.
“The Brethren Court is called,” Chris added.
Peter rolled his eyes. “I leave you alone for a minute and look what happens; everything's gone to hell.”
“The world needs you back,” Scott said.
“And you need a crew,” Derek added.
Peter turned sharply, glaring at each of them.
“Why should I sail with any of you?” Peter asked. “Five of you have tried to kill me in the past, one of you succeeded.”
Derek’s brow furrowed with confusion as he exchanged glances with Lydia, Chris, and Braeden. They looked back at him with equally confused expressions. Derek opened his mouth to ask what his uncle meant when a thought struck him.
He turned to look at Stiles.
Stiles dropped his gaze.
“Oh, he hasn’t told you,” Peter said, a hint of amusement in his voice. “Then I guess you'll have lots to talk about while you're here. As for you...”
He turned to face Lydia.
A mischievous smile lifted up the corners of her rosy-pink lips as she said, “Don't tell me you didn't enjoy it at the time.”
Peter seemed to think about it for a second before nodding.
“Fair enough. You're in. McCall, you can come. Isaac...” He paused before shrugging. He pointed at Allison. “No, don’t trust you.”
He moved along the line of people in the sand, stopping before a young woman with long dark hair tied back from her face.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“Kira Yukimura,” she answered. She nodded over her shoulder to the group of people standing behind her. “These are my men.”
Peter looked them each over before turning back to Kira. “Where do your allegiances lie?”
“With the highest bidder,” she replied.
Peter turned and pointed at the Eclipse. “I have a ship.”
“That makes you the highest bidder.”
“Good. Weigh anchor. Prepare to make sail,” Peter ordered. He pulled the small leather-bound case of his compass from his belt and flipped open the lid. He looked down at the dial, watching as it spun in circles frantically.
Peter turned, his eyes settling on Chris. Derek, Stiles and Allison stood either side of him, watching Peter.
A smug smirk lifted up the corner of his mouth, his fingers drumming against the rolled bamboo of the charts. “Which way are you going, Peter?”
Chapter 4: VI
Stiles sat on the bottom of the stairs that led into the cabins below the deck, engulfed by the dark shadows and surrounded by the familiar sounds of boots striking the deck and the old ship creaking as it swayed on the waves.
He stared down at his hands, only glancing up when he heard footsteps come towards him.
He looked up at Derek, his long dark hair pulled back from his face and his eyes full of betrayal.
“You left Peter to the Kraken,” he said bluntly, his voice quiet.
“I had to,” Stiles said, looking down at his hands again. “The Kraken wasn’t after us, it was after him, and as long as he was with us there was no where we could go where we’d be safe.”
“So you left him to die.”
“It’s not as if he’s an innocent man,” Stiles replied. “Not all of us can be the hero, Derek. Not all of us can make the right choices. Some of us have to make mistakes. Some of us have to get our hands a little bloody sometimes.”
Stiles stood up, taking in a measured breath as he tried to calm his racing heartbeat.
“I know what I did was wrong,” Stiles admitted. “But I did what I had to do. He's back now. It's done with.”
“I saw,” Derek told him, his voice quiet. He couldn’t meet Stiles’ gaze. “I saw you kiss him.”
“It meant nothing,” Stiles replied.
“You mean, you only kissed him to get what you wanted?” Derek prompted. He looked up, meeting Stiles’ gaze—a fire burning behind his aventurine eyes. “I guess it was no different with me.”
Stiles felt his heart drop. He looked up at Derek, his eyes wide with shock.
“It is different,” Stiles argued. “Derek, I love you.”
Derek dropped his gaze and turned away from him.
“Derek, I had no choice,” Stiles said pleadingly.
“You chose not to tell me,” Derek said.
“I couldn't. It wasn't your burden to bear.”
“But I did bear it, didn't I?” Derek said, turning back to face Stiles. “I just didn't know what it was. I thought...”
Realisation washed over Stiles as he pieced together where Derek was going with this. “You thought I loved him. Derek…”
“If you make your choices alone, how can I trust you?” Derek asked.
Stiles felt his stomach twist into knots, his chest aching as tears welled in his eyes. His dark eyes were full of heartbreak, his voice strained as he answered, “You can't.”
He stepped around Derek and hurried up the stairs, leaving the man alone in the darkness of the galley and the silence that settled around him.
As night settled, the world around them was immersed in darkness.
The dark sky stretched into oblivion above them, scattered stars glittering like diamonds. The inky black abyss of the water mirrored the sky, the silvery moonlight and glimmering stars sparkling on the rippling waves.
Isaac sat on the bow of the ship, his legs fitted through the railing and hanging over the edge of the ship. His bright blue eyes were focused on the rippling waters when something caught his eye—bodies drifting by, submerged beneath the water.
Isaac leant back from the railing, not taking his eyes off the sea as he turned his head slightly and called over his shoulder, “There’s bodies in the water.”
The others rushed over to the railings, looking down at the ghostly figures that were dressed in white, their billowing hair and the fabric of their clothes streaming weightlessly as they drifted by.
Braeden stood by the ropes, her face twisted by pain and anger as she looked down at the passing souls. “They should be in the care of Deucalion. That was the duty he was charged with by the goddess, Calypso; to ferry those who die at sea to the other side.”
Derek glanced at her.
“In return, every ten years, he could come ashore to be with one he loved... The one who loved him… truly…” Her voice drifted off as she absentmindedly toyed with the locket that hung around her neck. “But the man has become a monster.”
“You mean, he wasn't always...?” Scott asked, his sentence trailing off before he could find the words.
“No,” Braeden replied, her voice quiet and full of pain. A small smile crept on to her face, reminiscent and sweet. “He was a man...”
Her fingers caressed the carved metal of the locket.
Her smile fell from her face, her voice cold and full of anger as she said, “...once.”
Isaac’s eyes drifted to the horizon, where the hazy orange glow of lanterns grew brighter—closer. He squinted, making out the shapes of the small wooden boats that drifted across the waters towards them.
He rose to his feet and stepped away from the railing. He gently nudged Derek, pulling the man’s attention away from Braeden as he pointed towards the horizon. “There's boats coming.”
Scott hurried into the galley, returning with a rifle. He readied it, loading the gun and taking aim.
Derek grabbed the barrel of the gun, coaxing Scott to lower it.
“They're not a threat to us,” he reassured Scott. He glanced over his shoulder at Braeden. “Am I right?”
“We are nothing but ghosts to them,” she answered.
“It's best just let them be,” Chris added, his deep blue eyes full of pain and sorrow as he watched the boats approach.
The people in the boats were still, their eyes unfocused as they stared at the unending seas ahead of them. The wooden lifeboats rocked on the undulating waves, but the passengers didn’t seem to notice. Men, women, and children; peasants, sailors, and noblemen alike.
The crew gathered around the railing, silent as they watched them drift by.
Stiles’ eyes drifted across the faces, his eyes focusing on one man.
His weary hazel eyes were unfocused, his thinning short brown hair tousled by the slight breeze. He was dressed in his fine robes, a teal jacket embroidered with a fine floral design—the gold and pearly white thread glimmering in the glow of the lantern that hung at the front of his boat.
Stiles let out a sigh of relief, a smile brightening his face.
“It's my father,” he said excitedly. “We've made it back.”
Derek looked from Stiles to Braeden, her eyes full or sadness as she shook her head. A horrified expression twisted Derek’s face as he turned back to look at the man in the boat.
“Dad!” Stiles called out to him. “Dad, over here!”
Peter felt his heart sink into his gut, his chest tightening. He wanted to badly to get back at Stiles, but not like this.
“Stiles,” he said softly, catching the young man’s attention.
Stiles turned to look at him, his face lit with a smile as the glow of the lanterns lit his dark eyes.
Peter’s voice quiet, his words catching in his throat as he looked at Stiles. His deep blue eyes were full of empathy and pain as he said, “We're not back.”
Peter’s heart sank into his gut as the smile dropped from Stiles’ face and a look of realisation washed over the young man.
Realisation gave way to distress as Stiles looked back at his dad, his lips quivering as glistening tears welled in his eyes.
Derek tried to reach across to him, but he wasn’t quick enough.
Stiles pulled away, hurrying down the side of the ship as he tried to keep up with his father’s boat as it drifted by.
The man slowly turned his head. His cloudy hazel eyes finding Stiles’ face.
“Stiles?” he called out. “Are you dead?”
“I think I am,” he said quietly.
“No, you can't be,” Stiles cried, fighting back the tears that blurred his vision.
“There was this chest, you see,” his father mused.
Peter’s blood ran cold, his eyes widening with shock as he immediately realised what the man was talking about.
“It's odd,” Governor Stilinski continued. “At the time it seemed so important.”
“Come aboard,” Stiles shouted out to him, but it was as if the man couldn’t hear him.
“There was a heart,” he continued. “I learned that if you stab the heart, yours must take its place. And you will sail the seas for eternity… The Alpha must have a captain.”
The words rang in Derek’s head.
Governor Stilinski let out a dry chuckle. “Such a silly thing to die for.”
“Someone cast a line,” Stiles begged.
Isaac grabbed a length or rope, passing it to Stiles.
Stiles tossed the rope, watching it unfurl in the air and fall slack across his father’s lap.
“Come back with us!” he begged.
The man didn’t move.
“Come on. Take the rope,” Stiles pleaded
Braeden took a step closer to Derek, her voice low as she uttered, “A touch... of destiny.”
“Take the line,” Stiles cried, his voice ringing out through the darkness.
His father looks up at him, tears welling in his eyes. A soft smile lifted up the corners of his mouth as he looked at his son lovingly. “I'm so proud of you, Stiles.”
“Dad, take the line,” he begged, tears glistening in the moonlight as they streamed down his cheeks. “Please, just take the line!”
His dad didn’t move.
The rope slid back across his lap, falling slack in the water and drifting out of the man’s reach.
“Dad!” Stiles started off towards the stern, sprinting up the stairs,
“Don’t let him leave the ship!” Braeden shouted.
Peter stood still as everyone ran after Stiles.
Derek reached him first, wrapping his arm around the young man’s waist before he could jump into the water.
“No!” Stiles screamed, his tears streaming down his cheeks. “I won't leave you! Dad!”
Governor Stilinski’s boat drifted past the ship. “I'll give your love to your mother.”
“Please, I won't let you go!” Stiles cried out, thrashing about in Derek’s arms.
“Stiles,” Derek said softly as he pulled Stiles away from the railing and turned him around in his arms, holding him close as Stiles collapsed against him.
The others gathered around, their eyes full of sorrow.
Derek looked at Braeden pleadingly. “Is there a way?”
Braeden shook her head. “He’s at peace.”
Chapter 5: V
The setting sun at dusk bathed everything in a golden glow. The azure blue sky was streaked with smears of orange, pink and purple.
Derek stood at the railing of the ship, watching the undulating waves of the open water that stretched into oblivion. He glanced over to where Stiles sat nearby on the bottom of the stairs that led to the higher deck.
He sat with his knees pulled up to his chest, his dark eyes bloodshot and unfocused as he stared down at his hands and fidgeted with his fingers. His cheeks were stained with tears, clearing away the dirt and grime that covered his pale cheeks.
Derek left him to his thoughts—not wanting to intrude, and not knowing what to say.
“If we cannot escape these doldrums before night, we’re doomed to sail on trackless seas, roaming the reach between worlds forever,” Braeden muttered as she stepped over to Derek’s side.
Derek looked up at Chris.
The man stood by the railing on the poop deck near the wheel, a foot resting on the carved dark wood as he stared into oblivion.
“Why doesn't he do something?” Derek asked.
“The green flash happens at sunset, not sunrise,” Scott said, joining them.
“’Over the edge’,” Lydia recited as she tied off a length of rope. “This whole thing is driving me over the bloody edge.”
Peter was up on the higher deck, arched over the bamboo charts. He spun the circles of the map, trying to line up the outlines of land or the small markings of lettering—trying to find a way out of purgatory.
He slowly turned the outer circle until the black markings of letters lined up, reading the same line as Derek had before; ‘Over the edge. Over again’. He turned it more, lining up the letters on the bottom of the ring. ‘Sunrise sets. Flash of green.’
He shifted the inner circle, lining up the letters.
"‘Up is down’,” he read out loud. He screwed his face up in confusion. “That's just maddeningly unhelpful.”
He let out a heavy sigh, letting his mind drift as the entangled mess of thoughts grew louder—an argument between the two sides of his consciousness.
Stab the heart.
Don't stab the heart; the Dutchman must have a captain.
Sail the seas for eternity.
And make port—where we can get rum and enjoy the pleasures of the flesh—once every ten years.
Ten years is a long time—even longer without rum.
Eternity is longer. And how will you be spending it? Dead, or not? The immortal Captain Hale.
A small smile lifted the corner of his mouth at that thought. But come sunset, it wouldn’t matter.
A thought struck him. He straightened his back, blinking in surprise.
“Not sunset; sundown,” he corrected himself. He spun the picture in the middle of the map, turning the ship upside down so that the splash of green that was painted beneath it pointed upwards—a flash of green lighting the sky. “And rise up.”
He bolted upright, his sapphire blue eyes darting back and forth.
“What's that?” he shouted, sprinting down the stairs and over to one side of the ship.
Scott and Derek turned, hurrying over to his side. They followed his gaze out to sea, looking at nothing.
“What is that?” Peter asked, dragging out the charade.
“Where?” Scott asked.
“There,” Peter said, pointing into the vast blueness. He whipped his head around. “Look!”
He turned and ran to the other side of the ship. Scott and Derek followed, few more people joining them as a crowd began to gather by the railing.
Chris stepped back from the raining and watched as the crew ran back and forth, gathering more and more people each time.
Stiles rose from his seat on the stairs and ran to the railing by Derek. He followed their gaze out to the horizon. “What is it?”
“There!” Peter shouted, pointing to the other side of the ship before sprinting across the deck.
Chris furrowed his brow in confusion. He stepped over to the table where Peter had been, looking down at the map. A smirk lifted the corner of his lips as he looked at the picture of the ship.
“You clever bastard,” Chris uttered under his breath, rolling up the map and strapping it to the small of his back.
“We're rocking the ship,” Scott called out, alarmed.
“Aye,” Chris shouted in reply.
He made his way down the stairs, unphased.
“Time it with the swell,” he told Peter, watching the waves crash against the hull of the ship.
He crossed the ship amid the rocking hull and made his way down into the gallows.
“Let loose the cannons!” he howled, startling everyone into moving. “Unstow the cargo. Let it shift.”
The crew began to move about the hull, untying the cargo. Barrels and cannons rolled back and forth in time with the rocking ship.
The ship tilted back and forth, the side rising higher and higher as the weight threatened to capsize the ship.
Chris joined them as they sprinted from one side to the other.
They threw themselves onto the railing, grabbed onto the carved wood as the ship tilted high enough that their feet were lifted from the decking.
Stiles dug his fingers into the wood. His heart lurched into his throat as the weight of the ship shifted.
The hull rose out of the water, their bodies hanging weightlessly in the air.
“Now up… is down.” Peter said as the ship capsized.
The crashing waves engulfed the ship with a deafening roar as the water rose to meet them.
Stiles drew in a deep breath, holding it as the foaming waved rushed over him and knocked him about.
The world fell silent as the deafening noise drained away.
The waves slammed Derek against the railing. He lost his grip, falling back into the rolling waves.
Stiles tried to call out for him, reaching out for the man with one hand but he couldn’t reach.
Chris caught Stiles before he lost his grip on the railing.
Stiles watched as Derek sank into the water.
Derek thrashed about until he caught a hold of the mast. He grabbed one of the ropes and coiled it around his arm, holding on tight as his body drifted weightlessly.
Small bubbles tickled Stiles’ cheeks as they rose, escaping the turbulent, churning water. He felt his eyes burn with redundant tears that were swept away by the waves that lashed at him.
The fabric of his clothes billowed around him as he hung onto the railing.
He felt his chin tremble as he fought to keep his mouth shut but the longer he was beneath the water, the harder it became. He was fighting off the instinct to draw breath, knowing there was nothing around him but merciless water. It felt as if his lungs were consumed by a raging inferno, the jagged claws of firebirds tearing at the tissue as they tried to dig their way out of his chest.
He held his breath and closed his eyes, but no matter how much he willed it away, the water was still there and the reality of his mortality was creeping closer ever so slowly.
Every second dragged on as if time was suspended in oblivion, making every second of pain and torment longer and more agonising.
He felt another wave of tears well in his eyes as thick saliva rose in his throat, suffocating him. His body shuddered as he fought back his sobs.
He opened his eyes, looking at Chris beside him.
Everyone exchanged confused looks, wondering what was meant to happen next.
Stiles felt the darkness creep into the edge of his vision, the dying light of the setting sun making the abysmal depths of the ocean all the more ominous.
The sun sank beneath the horizon.
The world lit up in a flash of green.
A deafening roar filled Stiles’ ears.
He looked down, watching as bubbling water rushed towards them from the depths of the sea.
There was a loud crash as the ship broke through the surface.
Stiles opened his mouth, letting the rush of fresh air fill his lungs.
They collapsed against the wet deck, gasping for air as water spilled over the edges of the ship, draining through the gaps in the rails.
The ship rocked slightly as it steadied itself on its keel.
Stiles coughed and spluttered, raking his fingers through his wet hair back from his eyes. He blinked to clear the salty sea water that stung his eyes.
He looked up to see Derek slowly untangle himself from the ropes and lower himself from the mast., his heavy boots striking the deck as he coughed up water.
Stiles’ eyes drifted towards the horizon. He slowly rose to his feet, watching as the glaring light played across the rippling surface of the water. He watched, mesmerised, as the sun rose into the sky.
“Sunrise,” he whispered breathlessly.
His voice seemed to catch everyone’s attention as they all looked towards the rising sun.
“We made it back,” Lydia gasped.
There was barely a second of peace before Chris drew his pistol and aimed it at Peter.
In a flurry of movement Derek, Scott and Stiles drew theirs, aiming them at Chris.
Peter pulled his pistol from his belt and aimed it at Derek.
Derek drew a second pistol from the small of his back and pointed it at Peter. Stiles did the same, his eyes darting between Peter and Chris.
Peter drew his other pistol and pointed it at Stiles.
Stiles levelled him with an exasperated look.
“The Brethren Court is gathering at Shipwreck Cove,” Chris told Peter firmly. “And you and I are going. There'll be no arguing that.”
“But I be arguing that,” Peter replied mockingly. “If the Brethren Court is gathering, I'm pointing my ship the other way.”
Stiles turned his gun away from Chris, aiming both his pistols at Peter. “The pirates are gathering to fight Lord Argent, and you're a pirate.”
“There are too many Argent’s in this world,” Peter retorted, shooting a glare at Chris. “It’s very confusing.”
“Fight or not, you're not running, Peter,” Derek said, pointing both guns at his uncle.
“If we don't stand together, they'll hunt us down one by one until there’s no one left but you,” Chris argued.
A coy smirk played across Peter’s mouth. “I quite like the sound of that. Captain Peter Hale, the last pirate.”
“Aye,” Chris said. His voice grew cold as he added, “And you'll be fighting Deucalion on your own.”
“So be it,” Peter said defiantly. “I’ll work something out. I always do. But I will not be going back to the Locker, mate. Count on that. Either way—”
He turned both his guns on Stiles, his glare cold and focused.
“I’m sending you back.”
Stiles lowered his pistols, his face void of any emotion as he met Peter’s gaze. “Go ahead.”
Peter pulled the trigger, flinching as the pistol clicked and squirted water.
Stiles rolled his eyes, letting out a breathless laugh as he holstered his gun. “Wet powder.”
The others slowly lowered their pistols, feeling embarrassed.
“There might be a fresh water spring on that island,” Stiles said, turning his backs on them and pointing towards the land mass not too far away. “We can resupply there and get back to shooting each other later.”
“You lead the shore party,” Peter told Chris. “I'll stay with my ship.”
“I'll not be leaving my ship in your command,” Chris objected.
“When you two are finished,” Stiles said shortly, silencing them. “You’re both going ashore.”
“And I suppose we’re meant to leave you in charge of the ship in our absence?” Peter scoffed.
“No, I’m coming too,” Stiles told him. “Someone has to make sure you two don’t kill each other to leave the other stranded. Derek’s in charge while we’re gone.”
“Who gave you the authority to make that call?” Peter asked.
“It’s either Derek or Lydia,” Stiles told him. “And I don’t doubt for a second that Lydia wouldn’t hesitate in abandoning the two of you.”
Peter glanced over his shoulder at the young woman.
Lydia flashed him a charming smile, but there was a devilish glint of mischief in her eye that told him that Stiles was right.
“It’s your call,” Stiles said, turning his back on the man and stepping over to one of the row boats
Peter pouted but didn’t reply.
“Good,” Stiles said with finality. “Let’s go.”
Chapter 6: VI
The waves lapped at the shore.
Peter looked down at his feet, at the scorched sand—charred and as black as ash. His eyes drifted across the shore to the large beast that was beached.
Its scaly body was torn and bloody, chunks of flesh torn from its body. Its tentacles were sprawled across the sand, unmoving; lifeless.
Peter felt his heart sink a little as he took a few steps towards the dead beast, stunned by the sight.
The beast that had tormented him for years now lay dead in front of him, but he didn’t feel relieved—he didn’t feel free. He felt his gut twist and tie itself in knots.
He pitied the beast. And what’s more, he felt a shiver run up his spine, the icy feeling of dread and fear seeping into his veins.
Chris followed him down the shore, stopping beside Peter and looking into the clouded classy eye of the beast.
“Still thinking of running, Peter?” he asked quietly. “You think you can outrun the world?”
Peter didn’t reply—he just stared at the kraken’s dead body.
Chris let out a measured breath. “You know the problem with being the last of anything? You’re the last, and eventually, there’ll be none left at all.”
“Sometimes things come back,” Peter said, his voice weak and breaking. He didn’t take his eyes off the kraken—he couldn’t. “We're living proof—you and me.”
“Aye,” Chris said quietly. “But it’s a gamble of long odds, isn’t it? There's never a guarantee of coming back. But passing on… That's dead certain.”
Peter drew in a deep breath. “So, we’re summoning the Brethren Court, then?”
“It's our only hope,” Chris answered.
“That's a sad commentary in and of itself,” Peter said teasingly.
Chris let out a dejected sigh, his pale eyes drifting out to the distant horizon. “The world used to be a bigger place.”
“The world's still the same,” Peter said. “There's just... less in it.”
They made their way inland, following the trial that had been worn through the thicket.
The dry husks of leaves and scattered sticks crackled beneath their feet, the rich smell of sweet petrichor filling their lungs as they walked along the muddy train and further into the woods. The trees towered over them, beams of light shining through the wavering canopy as it was rustled by the breeze.
Crystal-like droplets of dew gathered on the wavering blades of grass and stunning flowers that grew along the edge of the path, filling the undergrowth with bursts of colour: white, purple, orange, yellow, and blue.
Peter couldn’t shake the image of the kraken from his mind, or the lingering feeling of his mortality.
He could hear the sound of rushing water over the rise, following the track up the rocky include before looking down at the pool of clear water surrounded by grey slate that was covered in patches of soft green moss and small ferns that were growing between the rocks. The water cascaded down the rocks like a veil of lace, glistening smaller rivulets running along the surrounding rocks.
Isaac lingered on the ridge, looking back at the shore and watching for approaching figures as the rest of them made their way down the incline.
Stiles’ pace faltered as his eyes fell upon the body lying in the stream.
Chris took another step forward, scooping up a handful of water and sipping at it. He screwed up his face and spat it out.
“The water’s been poisoned,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s what killed him,” Peter countered, nodding towards the man.
Chris stepped into the shallows of the pool of water, grabbing the dead man’s shoulder and rolling him over.
They flinched at the sight of the wooden spike that impaled the man’s head.
“I know him,” Allison said quietly. “He was in Japan.”
“Captain!” Isaac shouted from the ridge.
Chris and Peter turned to look at him in unison.
“We’ve got company!”
Isaac pointed back towards the still ocean waters where a second ship sailed up alongside the Eclipse.
There was an unmistakable click of a cocked pistol.
Stiles slowly turned his head, watching as Kira and her men drew their guns and aimed them at the crew.
Stiles hoisted himself up the ladder and climbed aboard the Eclipse.
His dark eyes scanned the deck, drifting to where the rest of the crew stood at gunpoint, their hands tied together behind their backs with lengths of rope.
In front of them stood a woman, draped in fine embroidered omi that billowed around her in the breeze. Her long dark hair wasn’t tied back, the ebony-black locks sitting around her face. Her dark eyes met Stiles gaze.
A raging fire burnt behind Stiles’ eyes as he levelled his glare on the woman. One of her men stepped forward, grabbing Stiles’ arm and holding him in place.
“Yukimura,” Chris greeted, flashing a charming smile as he stepped in front of Stiles, ushering the young man behind him slightly. “You showing up here is truly a remarkable coincidence.”
Yukimura didn’t reply. She looked over his shoulder at Peter.
“Peter Hale,” she said, her voice cold as she stepped towards him. “You paid me great insult once.”
“That doesn't sound like me,” Peter said.
There was a sickening crack as Yukimura’s fist slammed into Peter’s jaw, knocking the man back.
Peter staggered and regained his footing, rubbing his jaw. He slowly turned to look back at her.
“Shall we just call it square, then?” Peter bargained.
Derek elbowed his way through the crowd.
“Release him,” he ordered, pointing at Stiles. “He's not part of the bargain.”
Stiles blinked in surprise, his brow furrowed in confusion.
“And what bargain be that?” Chris asked, looking at Derek.
“You heard Captain Hale,” Yukimura said. “Release him!”
One of Yukimura’s men let got of Stiles, shoving him towards Derek.
“‘Captain Hale’?” Peter scoffed.
“The perfidious rotter led a mutiny against us,” Argent seethed.
“I need the Eclipse to free my sister,” Derek explained, no hint of remorse in his voice. “That's the only reason I came on this voyage.”
“Why didn't you tell me you were planning this?” Stiles asked, stepping up to Derek side, a hurt expression on his face.
“It was my burden to bear,” Derek recited back to him.
Stiles froze, an icy chill running through his veins as his rage turning to pain. He looked at Derek, his chest tight and his lips quivering as unspoken words caught in his throat.
Derek didn’t meet his gaze.
Stiles opened his mouth to say something, but Peter interrupted, pulling himself free from one of the soldier’s grasp and stepping forward.
“He needs the Eclipse. Captain Hale needs the Eclipse,” he said dramatically. He pointed at Stiles. “You felt guilty.” He turned to face Chris. “You came on behalf of the Brethren Court. Did no one come to save me just because they missed me?”
The rest of the crew exchanged glances, but no one raised their hand.
“That’s a little hurtful,” Peter said.
“You need not worry, Peter,” Yukimura said, taking a step forward. “There is an old friend who wants to see you.”
Peter swallowed hard. “I'm not certain I can survive any more visits from old friends.”
Yukimura grabbed his shoulder, turning him to look at the ship that drew near. “Here is your chance to find out.”
Peter’s heart sank into his gut as his eyes fell on the white sails and the deep blue flag that hung from the main mast. He didn’t need to see the logo printed on it, he knew what it was: East India Trading Company.
He let out a shaky breath, a cold shudder clawing its way up his spine. He felt searing pain burn at his wrist—a memory of the scorching iron brand that the man pressed into his flesh. His eyes were wide with terror, his voice quiet as he uttered, “Argent.”
Chapter 7: VII
The guards pushed open the double doors, escorting Peter into the large room. They shoved him forward and shut the door behind him.
Peter stood still for a second, taking in his surroundings.
The walls of the large cabin were decorated with maps and painted portraits. There was a large mahogany table in the centre of the room, scattered pieces of paper and open books lying across the table top. There was a desk down the far end of the cabin. An ink pot and quill sat atop the desk but the table top had been cleared. Down the other end of the room as a second desk, one that was covered in miniature plastic figurines of soldiers that were lined up in ranks. At the front of the betallion was a small figurine that bared a resemblance to Lord Argent. In front of the soldiers were nine battered coins, lined up across the tabletop.
The wall across from him was lined with windows, a shelf full of books running along the length of the wall. The corner of the windows broadened to two glass doors that stepped out onto a balcony where a figure stood in the doorway.
“Curious. Your friends appear to be quite desperate, Hale,” the man mused, his deep voice making Peter’s insides twist in knots. “Perhaps they no longer believe that a gathering of squabbling pirates can defeat the Alpha.”
Peter ignores him, stepping over to a nearby table and opening some of the ornate containers and carved wooden boxes.
“And so despair leads to betrayal,” Gerard said. “But you and I are no strangers to betrayal, are we?”
Peter didn’t reply.
“It's not here, Peter.”
“What isn't?” Peter asked, feigning innocence.
“The heart of Deucalion,” Gerard answered, turning to face Peter. “It's safely aboard the Alpha, and so unavailable for you to use as leverage to satisfy your debt to the captain.”
“By my reckoning, that account has been settled,” Peter argued, wandering about the cabin and admiring the maps and trinkets that decorated the space.
“By your death?” Gerard asked. “And yet here you are.”
“Close your eyes and pretend it's all a bad dream,” Peter said, glancing over his shoulder at Gerard before turning his back to the man again. “That's how I get by.”
“And if Deucalion were to learn of your survival?”
A wicked smirk lifted the corners of Gerard’s mouth. He didn’t have to see Peter’s face to know the terror that filled his eyes.
“Perhaps you'll consider an alternative arrangement, one which requires absolutely nothing from you but information,” Gerard proposed. He stepped over to his desk and opened the glass flask of golden liquor, pouring it into two shimmering crystal glasses.
Peter turned, stepping over to Gerard’s side. He looked down at the man’s desk, picking up the plastic figurine of Lord Argent. His eyes fell upon the nine battered nickel coins that were lined up in the centre of the desk.
“Information regarding the Brethren Court, no doubt, in exchange for fair compensation. You square my debt with Deucalion—” He took the sherry glass that Argent offered him, lifting it to his lips and downing it in one gulp. He took the other glass and downed the drink. “—and guarantee my freedom.”
“Of course,” Argent agreed. “It's just good business.”
“Were I in a divulgatory mood, what then might I divulge?” Peter asked.
“Everything. Where are they meeting? Who are the pirate lords? What is the purpose of the nine pieces of eight?”
Peter reached over the desk and picked up the paper fan that sat nearby. He levelled his eyes on the man. “Before I tell you anything, what will become of my crew?”
“You can keep your bastard son, Christopher, and his misfit daughter,” Peter bargained, opening the fan with a loud crack and fanning himself. “And Derek—especially Derek. The rest go with me on the Eclipse. I'll lead you to Shipwreck Cove, where I will hand you the pirates and you will not hand me to Deucalion. Bloody fair deal, don't you think?”
“And what becomes of Mister Stilinski?” Argent asked.
Peter’s brow furrowed as he looked at Gerard questioningly. “What interest is he to you?”
Men in bright red uniforms climbed aboard the Lunar Eclipse.
Derek stepped over to Noshiko’s side. “You agreed, the Lunar Eclipse was to be mine.”
Yukimura’s gaze was cold as she looked at the young man. “And so it was.”
The soldiers grabbed Derek’s arms, pulling him back. He thrashed about, trying to break free. One guard stepped forward, balling his fist and slamming it into Derek’s gut.
Derek choked on his breath, dropping to his knees and gasping for breath.
Stiles pulled himself free of the soldier’s grasp, charging forward. He slammed his body into the soldier’s gut, knocking him back.
The soldier straightened, glaring at Stiles as the young man stood defensively over Derek. He took a step forward, trying to intimidate Stiles.
Stiles flamed his forehead against the man’s face, a gut-wrenching crack filling his ears as blood sprayed across his face.
The man staggered backwards, holding his broken, bloody nose in his hand.
Stiles glared at the man, livid. Rivulets of crimson blood ran down the young man’s face, but he was unphased, his composure unwavering.
Another guard grabbed tiles by his shacked hands, pulling him backwards.
Two soldiers pulled Derek to his feet, tying the man’s hands behind his back before tossing him towards the rest of the crew.
“Prepare the brig,” the General ordered.
“What is to become of the Lunar Eclipse?” Noshiko asked.
The General levelled his cold eyes on her. “Argent’s not going to give up the only ship as can outrun the Alpha, is he?”
A flash of anger darkened Noshiko’s eyes as the General walked away.
“It’s a shame they're not bound to honour the code of the Brethren, isn't it?” Chris mused under his breath. “Because honour's a hard thing to come by nowadays.”
“There is no honour to remaining with the losing side,” Yukimura told him. “Leaving it for the winning side, that's just good business.”
“The losing side, you say?” Chris asked.
“They have the Alpha, and now the Eclipse. And what does the Brethren have?”
Chris was quiet for a moment. “We have Calypso.”
The world around them fell silent, name ringing through them all.
Noshiko blinked in confusion, her expression one of surprise and disbelief. “Calypso? An old legend.”
“No. The god themself, bound in human form,” Chris explained. He kept his voice low. “Imagine all the power of the seas brought to bear against our enemy.”
Noshiko seemed to consider it.
“I intend to release her,” Chris told her. “But for that I need the Brethren Court—all of the Court.”
Yukimura let out a measured breath. “Including myself.”
“And Peter,” Chris finished.
Yukimura was quiet for a moment.
“What are you proposing, captain?” she asked.
“What would you be accepting, captain?”
Yukimura’s eyes scanned the crew, her eyes settling on the odd one out—the one who was as rageful and unyielding as the seas.
“The boy,” she said, levelling her eyes on Stiles.
“What?” Stiles gasped.
“Stiles is not part of any bargain,” Derek said defensively. “This is out of the question.”
“It was not a question,” Chris said with finality.
“Done,” Stiles says.
“What?” Derek said, turning to Stiles. He looked back at the captains. “Not done.”
“You got us into this,” Stiles hissed under his breath. “If it frees us, then done.”
“Stiles, they are pirates,” Derek said, his voice pleading.
“I have had more than enough experience dealing with pirates,” Stiles growled, his dark eyes looking Derek up and down to make a point.
Derek was taken aback, a glint of hurt filling his eyes.
Stiles turned back to Noshiko and Chris.
“Done,” he said with finality.
Chris took a step forward, holding out his hand to Noshiko. “Then we have an accord?”
“I've just recalled,” Argent started slowly. “I've got this wonderful compass which points to whatever I want.”
He picked up the small leather box that the guard had confiscated off Peter when they dragged him aboard.
“So, for what do I need you?” Argent asked.
“Points to the thing you want most, you say?” Peter repeated back to him. “It’s a shame it’s not the Brethren Court, is it?”
Gerard blinked in surprise. “Then what is it that you think I want most, Peter?”
“Me,” Peter answered, a smirk playing across his lips. His smile fell as he added, “Dead.”
Argent tossed the compass to him.
Peter caught it, looking back at the man in confusion.
“Although, if I kill you, then I can use the compass to find Shipwreck Cove on my own,” Argent said. He drew his pistol and aimed it at Peter. “Cut out the middle man, as it were.”
Peter was unphased.
“With me killed, you'd arrive at the cove to find it a stronghold—impenetrable, able to withstand blockade for years,” the man explained, toying with the compass in his hands. “Then you'd be wishing, ‘If only there was someone inside—someone I hadn’t killed—to ensure that the pirates then come outside’.”
Gerard was silent for a moment.
“Do we have a deal?” Peter asked.
“You’re not exactly the best at keeping your word, are you Peter? We’ve been here before,” Gerard reminded him. “We had a deal, Peter. I contracted you to deliver cargo on my behalf and, instead, you chose to liberate it.”
Peter looked down at the pale ridges of the P that branded the skin of his wrist—the punishment of his betrayal.
“They were people,” Peter seethed under his breath. “Not cargo.”
“What makes this time any different?” Gerard asked, ignoring the man.
“You have something over me,” Peter admitted. “Square my debt with Jones, let my crew go and guarantee my freedom, and I’ll deliver the Brethren Court to you.”
Gerard lowered his gun, levelling his eyes on Peter. “And you can accomplish all that?”
“You may kill me, but you may never insult me.” Peter lifted his gaze and met Gerard’s eyes. “I'm Captain Peter Hale.”
A thundering blast tore through the air, knocking them over as the canon fire tore through the ship. Splinters of wood rained around them.
Peter charged forward, grabbing Gerard’s hand and shaking it.
“Done,” he said quickly before rushing out of the cabin.
He walked through the canon fire and bullets, casually making his way over to one of the canons.
He tugged at a length of rope that was hooked over the beam of the rear mast. He tied the rope around a canon ball and loaded it, taking a second to place the tiny plastic figurine of Lord Argent in the barrel. He coiled the other length of rope around his forearm, grabbing the ignition stick.
Argent followed him up onto the deck, his eyes wide as he looked from the figurine to Peter.
“Thank goodness for that,” Peter said, unphased. “If I wasn't, this'd probably never work.”
He lowered the glowing ember of the ignition stick to the wick and lit the canon.
The canon fired, flinging Peter into the air.
He swung forward, letting go of the rope and hurling himself onto the Lunar Eclipse. He landed on his feet, straightening his back and dusting off his leather coat as he looked around at the stunned expressions of the crew.
“And that was without even a single drop of rum,” he boasted.
He took a step forward, levelling his cold glare on his nephew.
“Take him to the brig,” he ordered.
He stepped up to the stern of the ship, watching as the Eclipse left Argent’s ship in its wake. He looked across the seas to where Yukimura’s ship took off in the other direction.
Chapter 8: VIII
Stiles stood in the centre of the large room that was the captain’s quarters of the Nogitsune. The space was decorated with fine tapestries and hanging lamps.
He was dressed in an ornate black robe, the thick fabric embroidered with silver and gold thread that spiralled into swirling vine-like patterns across his chest. The double-buttoned front of the jacket was decorated with glossy pearls and a thick leather belt was fastened around his waist, an iron buckle carved into a floral shape with a white pearl embedded in the centre of it. Past the waist, the thick cotton was adorned with pieces of black leather that looked like scales.
Noshiko stepped forward. “By this time tomorrow, we will arrive at Shipwreck Cove and you will be free, Calypso.”
Stiles blinked in surprised, his brow furrowed slightly with confusion.
“Excuse me?” he asked, taken aback.
“Not a name you fancy, I imagine, out of the many that you have,” Noshiko said quietly. “The sea nymph who would lure men to their deaths…”
Stiles thought back to Peter, to the day he left him to the kraken. He remembered the kiss, he remembered the shock on Peter’s face as he met the man’s look with his composed glare and latched the handcuffs around Peter’s wrist, leaving him to die.
“The one who controls the raging seas…”
Stiles looked down at the blood-stained rag he had used to clear away the blood on his face. The fabric hung over the edge of the wash basin, the droplets of blood seeping into the water and swirls of red spreading through the bowl.
He could still feel the warmth of the man’s blood dripping down his face and the rage burnt in his blood, searing his veins.
“But of all those names,” Noshiko continued, “Calypso is what we call you.”
“We being who?” Stiles asked.
“So you confirm it?”
“Confirm what? You've told me nothing.”
“The Brethren Court,” Yukimura answered, walking slowly around Stiles.
Stiles followed her with his eyes, not moving his head or turning to face her.
“The First Brethren Court—whose decision I would have opposed—bound you to human form so the rule of the seas would belong to man and not…”
“To me,” Stiles finished.
Noshiko met his gaze, her dark eyes softening as she looked at him with a motherly tenderness. “But one such as you should never be anything less than what you are.”
“A pretty speech from a captor,” Stiles said, his face composed and emotionless. “But words whispered through prison bars lose their charm.”
Noshiko let out a measured sigh, looking away. She continued to pace around the room. “All men are drawn to the sea, despite how perilous it may be. And some men offer desire as justification for their crimes.”
“And what about you?” Stiles asked. “What do you offer as justification?”
“The same—desire,” Noshiko replied. “Although not for riches or for carnal delight. I desire a legacy, to be one of the last pirate lords—a name that no one will forget.”
“And you think I will help you?”
“You have the power to stop the corruption of men who see themselves higher than us,” Noshiko said quietly. “You can stop them from destroying the last of us.”
“And if I should choose not to help you?”
Noshiko stopped pacing not too far from Stiles, a sad look on her face—the look of a woman about to face her fate.
“Then we will take your wrath,” Noshiko answered.
A thundering boom split the air.
Canon blast tore through the side of the ship.
Stiles was hurled backwards.
He struck something solid, letting out a weak grunt before collapsing to the ground.
Splinters of wood and debris rained around him as he lay still, his head pounding as darkness crept into the edges of his vision.
He slowly blinked his eyes open, watching through the haze of smoke as the blur of colours began to clear up and he took in the sight of the destroyed cabin.
“Yukimura?” Stiles mumbled drearily, swallowing hard against the lump in his throat.
There was no reply.
“Yukimura?” he called out, his voice a little louder this time.
He rose to his feet shakily, making his way past the fallen beams, toppled furniture and splintered wood.
Stiles winced as his ears filled with a painful shrieking ringing sound. He blinked away the haze in his eyes, his gaze falling on the woman’s unmoving body.
She lay back against the wall of the cabin, a blood-soaked jagged shard of wood sticking out of her chest.
Stiles felt sick, his gut churning with guilt as his blood ran cold in his veins. He felt a wave of bile rise into his throat, burning him from the inside out as he stumbled forwards.
He stumbled closer.
“Noshiko,” he said weakly, his ears ringing.
He stepped over to her side, his mind numb and the sound of canon fire tearing through the ship deafened. He knelt beside her, his dark eyes darting from the splintered wood that impaled her to her face.
“Please,” the woman rasped.
She pulled a necklace from under the collar of her robe, clutching it tight as she tore it from her neck.
Her voice was broken as she tried to force words out between broken gasps. “With all nine pieces of eight... you will be free.”
She grabbed Stiles’ arm, her hands shaking as she set the necklace in the palm of his hand before balling his fingers around it.
“Take it,” she said firmly, blood gathering on her lips as she struggled to speak. “You are the captain now.”
“Me?” Stiles whispered.
“Go in my place to Shipwreck Cove,” she told him. “Forgive me, Calypso.”
Her hold on his arm weakened, her hand falling away from his. Her head lulled to the side, her dark eyes clouding over as the life drained from her face.
There was a rush of footsteps behind him, the door to the cabin slamming back against the wall as someone came rushing in.
“Captain, the ship has been taken. We cannot—”
Stiles turned to see Kira standing in the doorway, her eyes wide and welling with tears as she looked at her mother’s still body.
“What did she tell you?” Kira demanded.
Stiles swallowed hard and looked down at the necklace in his hand before looking up at Kira again. “She made me captain.”
Up on deck, monstrous figures stormed the Nogitsune, led by a large, burly man whose pale flesh was covered in barnacles and coral, forming what looked like plated armour. A cluster of barbs stuck out through the skin of his cheek like a sea urchin.
Behind him was an army of similar looking people, including a pair of boys who looked like identical twins – to the point where the creatures that grew on their flesh were the same – and a woman with long dark hair and pale flesh that looked as if it had been slashed by a creature with large talons and then twisted and caught up in fishing wire.
Others had deformed to look like the creatures of the sea.
Kira sprinted out of the captain’s quarters and into the pouring rain.
Stiles ran after her.
A young woman stepped into their way—her dark hair pulled back by a row of shells and coral that had clustered on her head, forming a crown. Intertwined between the points were barnacles, colourful shells and gems, and strands of seaweed. Molluscs, clams and coral burst through the skin on her hands, forming talons and gauntlets. Her clothes were torn to rags, never repaired, only covered by layers.
She grabbed Kira by her throat, throwing the young woman down against the deck.
The woman raised her sword, the battered metal gleaming in the moonlight.
Stiles threw himself into the woman, knocking her off Kira and tackling her to the deck. He slid across the deck, staggering to his feet as he glared at the woman.
The woman pushed herself to her feet and snarled at him, tightening her grip on her sword.
One of the disfigured crewmembers grabbed Stiles from behind, pulling him back off balance and forcing him down onto his knees.
One of the twins stepped forward, balling his fist and slamming it into Stiles’ face.
Stiles’ body collapsed against the deck with a heavy thwack, blood spewing from his lips, but he didn’t let up. He rolled onto his back and kicked out, slamming the heel of his boot into one of the twin’s gut.
His fight didn’t last long; the other twin grabbed him and punched him hard enough that the piercing ringing returned to his ears.
The man forced Stiles to his feet, holding him upright with his arms pinned behind his back.
“Stiles?” a familiar voice called out.
Stiles blinked heavily, clearing the haze from his eyes and looking at the man who approached him.
“Tate?” Stiles muttered.
“Thank God, you're alive,” Henry said with a sigh of relief, looking the young man over. “Your father will be overjoyed to know you're safe.”
“My father's dead,” Stiles said, an icy-cold pain settling in his heart as he said those words for the first time.
“No, that can't be true,” Tate uttered. “He returned to Beacon Hills.”
Stiles let out a breathless laugh. “Did Lord Argent tell you that?”
Tate fell silent, his expression blank as realisation sank in.
Heavy footsteps like thunder stuck the deck as a man stepped forward. The crew of monstrous-looking beings parted as the man stepped forward. Unlike the rest of the crew, this man was pristine: untouched by the sea not time. He was aged, his face creased with wrinkles and his light brown hair thinning, but he didn’t grow weary or show any signs of life wearing him down.
There was no mistaking who he was.
His unseeing cloudy-grey eyes drifted across the crew of the Nogitsune.
“Who among you do you name as captain?” Deucalion demanded.
“Him,” Kira said without hesitation, pointing at Stiles.
Deucalion’s eyes seemed to glow red as he turned his gaze on Stiles.
He raised his brow, surprised.
“Captain?” Deucalion said slowly, almost mockingly—a hint of shock and surprise in his voice as he stepped over to Stiles’ side.
Stiles lifted his chin defiantly, his composure unwavering as he met Deucalion’s gaze.
“Tow the ship,” Tate ordered before Deucalion can do anything. “Put the prisoners in the brig. The captain shall have my quarters.”
“Thank you, sir,” Stiles said sternly, turning his gaze on Tate and looking upon the man as if he were a stranger.
He was no longer the man that had watched Stiles grow up, no longer the man who protected him and watched over him. He was no longer the man who would sit up late at night with Stiles after he had a nightmare—not wanting to wake his parents. He was no longer the man who had taught Stiles how to spar. He was no longer a friend—he was just another soldier; another one of Gerard’s men.
“I’d prefer to remain with my crew,” Stiles finished.
“So be it,” Deucalion said, ending their conversation.
He turned and made his way back to the Alpha.
Stiles wrenched himself free from the crewman’s hold.
“Stiles,” Henry started, his voice soft. “I swear, I didn’t know.”
“Know what?” Stiles asked. “Which side you chose?”
Stiles took a step back, standing with his crew. “Well, now you do.”
Chapter 9: IX
The Alpha trailed through the darkness, towing the wreck of the Nogitsune behind it.
Stiles and his crew were shoved into the brig, the small space closed off by aged wrought-iron bars—the black and silver metal tainted with shades of orange, rust brown, green and blue. Barnacles clung to the bars, strips of seaweed caught in the lattice. Two benches ran along either side of the cell.
Stiles helped the injured crewmen sit down, tending to their wounds the best he could.
He rose to his feet, turning to look around the cell. His eyes fell on Kira as she stood alone by the large pillar in the centre of the cell.
He felt his heart ache as he stepped over to her.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles whispered, struggling to find the words. He wanted to tell her that he knew what it feels like to lose a parent, he wanted to tell her that it would be okay, but the words died in his throat.
Kira ignored him.
Stiles’ eyes drifted to her arm, the sleeve of her coat was torn and streaming blood stained the fabric.
“Are you hurt?” Stiles asked, trying to prompt a reaction.
“I’m fine,” Kira replied shortly. “It’s nothing.”
Stiles reached under his robe, untying the sash that was wrapped around his slender waist. He carefully took Kira’s arm, lifting it slightly before using the sash as a bandage and coiling it around her wound.
Stiles tied of off, letting Kira’s arm fall back by her side.
The young woman turned to look at him, her piercing glare as cold as ice as she sneered, “You are not my captain.”
“I never asked to be,” Stiles replied, keeping his voice calm and quiet. “I don’t want to replace your mother—I never will. But for the time being—whether you like it or not—I am your captain. When this is all over, I will happily hand over the reins, but not until I am sure that you are all safe.”
Kira blinked in surprise, holding Stiles’ gaze for a second before turning away.
Stiles stepped away from her, stepping over to the lattice of wrought-iron bars. He leant forward, looking at the faces of the crew members that passed by.
“Cora?” he called out, grabbing at the barnacle-crusted jail bars. “Cora Hale?”
One of the crewmembers turned to look at him—the woman with long dark hair and pale flesh that looked as if it had been slashed by a creature with large talons and then twisted and caught up in fishing wire.
Stiles felt his heart skip a beat as hope filled his chest.
The crewmember burst out in laughter before turning away and continuing on.
“Cora,” a quiet voice rasped from the corner of the cell, weak and confused.
Stiles jumped, turning to look at the wall of the ship that the cell backed up onto. His heart sank as his eyes focused on the figure of a girl that was melded into the side of the ship.
Her once-golden skin was pale and marred with patches of brown and green, slowly blending into the withered wood of the Alpha’s hull. Various sea critters clung to her skin, bulbous barnacles bursting through the skin of her temples, cheeks and forehead, some full and others looking like holes burrowed into her skin. Small pipis blossomed in clusters along her brow. Below her right eye, a bon-white starfish moulded into her cheekbone—patches of the starfish’s rough skin still holding its yellow colour, but it was slowly fading away like the rest of her.
Her dark brown eyes were dreary and distant as she looked at Stiles with shock and confusion. “You know my name?”
“Yes,” he said softly, stepping over to her side. “I know your brother. Derek.”
“Derek,” Cora muttered, thinking it over.
Clarity returned to her face as her eyes flew open wide.
“Derek,” she said excitedly. “He made it. He's alive.”
“Derek’s alive,” Stiles confirmed. “And he wants to help you.”
Cora’s expression dimmed, her smile falling from her face. She shook her head.
“He can't help me,” she said quietly. “He won't come.”
“You're his sister,” Stiles said. “Of course he’ll come for you.”
“I know you,” she rasped. “He spoke of you. He can't save me. He can't come because of you.”
“Me?” the young man rasped.
“You're Stiles,” Cora whispered.
Stiles blinked, stunned. He nodded. “Yes, I'm Stiles.”
“If Deucalion is slain, he who slays him must take his place. Captain... forever,” Cora said quietly. “The Alpha must always have a captain. And if he saves me, he loses you.”
Stiles felt his heart sink into his gut.
Cora shook her head, taking a step back towards the wall.
“He won't pick me,” she said quietly, disheartened. “I wouldn't pick me.”
Stiles shook his head, his lips quivering as he struggled to speak—his words dying in his throat.
“Tell him not to come. Tell him to stay away. Tell him it's too late.” She sank back into the wall, melding with the withered wood. “I'm already a part of the ship... part of the crew.”
Her eyes drifted shut, her body still and seemingly lifeless.
Stiles swallowed hard.
“Cora?” he called out.
Her eyes flew open wide, her dark eyes looking at Stiles with shock. “You know my name?”
“Yes,” he repeated softly. “I know your brother. Derek.”
“Derek,” Cora muttered, thinking it over.
Clarity returned to her face as her eyes flew open wide.
“Derek,” she said excitedly. “He made it. He's alive.”
The hope in her voice made Stiles’ heart break, his stomach twisting in knots as hot tears welled in his eyes.
“He’s coming to get me,” Cora told him. “You’ll see. He’s coming…”