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Time & Tide

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The cry of seagulls overhead caused Chloe to look up and smile. She thought about how lucky the birds must be. To fly free without a care in the world, with only the wind to guide them. Chloe closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, the smell of the sea was bracing and she relished this much needed moment of quiet. After all, today was her wedding day.

"Miss Chloe?" And the moment was ruined. Turning around Chloe saw that one of her servants was waiting for her at the entrance to the balcony that they were standing on.

"Yes? What is it Marry?" She knew why Marry was there but she couldn't help trying to prolong the inevitable.

"Your mother is looking for you." Marry kept her head lowered, never meeting Chloe's eyes. "She says it's time to start getting ready."

"Of course," Chloe sighed. "Thank you, Marry." The servant gave a small curtsy before leaving the balcony. Chloe took one last look up at the sky, wishing that she could spread her own wings and fly away.

Instead she moved back inside her spacious bedroom, sitting on her bed as she waited for Marry to pour the bathwater into the tub. Once the maid was done she gave Chloe another curtsy and left the room. Chloe stripped down and gingerly lowered herself into the steaming water. Once she got settled she let out a sigh of relief. The previous night had been relatively devoid of sleep and the hot water was working wonders on the tight muscles in her back.

She reached to the small table that stood next to the tub and picked up the aromatic oil that she always used when taking a bath. As Chloe scrubbed herself down with the oil she let her mind wander. By day's end she would no longer be Miss Chloe Beale. Nope, she would be Mrs. Thomas Anderson. Shipped off to a man she had only met a handful of times and then she would only be expected to produce children for him.

Thomas was everything she should have been hoping for in a husband. Handsome, military, and he just so happened to be the son of a shipping mogul that would cement her family's station in the new world. And it was her duty to serve her family by any means necessary.

Once she was done washing herself Chloe stepped out of the tub and reached for the towel hanging off of the nearby hook. A knock at the door startled her a little bit, pre wedding jitters.

"Come in."

The door opened and Marry walked back into the room carrying a huge dress. The thing looked like it weighed more than she did and Chloe couldn't help but cringe. It was puffy, that's about the only word that could describe the dress. The sleeves flared out at the forearm and the skirt didn't look much better. Plus the dress was a muddy brown color, not exactly pleasing to the eye.

Marry laid the dress on the bed and turned to Chloe. "I'm sorry miss but your mother has insisted that you get ready now."

Chloe sighed, "Of course Marry, thank you."

Together they managed to wrestle Chloe into the beast of a dress. Marry pulled a mirror from the corner of the room and Chloe stared at the reflection looking back at her. It didn't look any better on than off but she only had to wear it for a day.

"You look beautiful, miss." Marry said quietly.

"No I don't, but it's nice of you to say." Chloe said while fidgeting with the hem. Before she could talk herself out of it she turned around and headed for the door. Marry trailed behind her at a respectful distance as they made their way down the stairs and into the foyer. Her mother was waiting for them and she gave Chloe a once over before giving an almost imperceptible nod. It was probably the closest thing to affection she had ever seen from her mother.

"Come Chloe, we are already late and we still need to get across the city so let's move." Without another word she turned around and rushed out the door.

"Of course mother," Chloe mumbled to herself. "Wouldn't want to miss my own wedding." She followed her mother outside and climbed into the waiting carriage. The driver flicked his reins and the carriage jolted forward. Chloe latched onto the handle inside the door. Carriages had never been her forte, horseback sure she loved to ride horses, but riding in a carriage always managed to unsettle her stomach.

Her mother noticed Chloe's discomfort and scoffed. "You need to get used to this. It is not proper for a lady to go gallivanting on one of those mangy beasts all the time. Coaches are much more respectable."

Chloe screwed her eyes shut and let go of the handle, quietly cruising her mother in the process. She opened her eyes and stared out the window, trying to ignore the way the wooden box she was sitting in felt like a casket and that she was on her way to her own funeral.

The city of Port Royal rolled past them and Chloe strained her neck to look out at the port as it passed by. There were all the regular ships, fishing vessels and traders, but there were also several navy galleons waiting just outside the harbor. She recognized a couple of the navy ships, one of which her future husband sailed with. The HMS Centurion bobbed slowly in the waves surrounded by smaller members of the royal fleet.

She shifted her gaze back to the harbor and saw a ship she didn't recognize. The hull was dark brown, almost black, an unusual color for any civilian owned vessel. The sails were all furled but the light from the setting sun made it clear they were dark colored as well. If she didn't know better Chloe would have thought a pirate crew had somehow made it into port. But that was impossible, case and point the small armada sitting on the horizon.

"Chloe, listen when your mother is talking to you." Mrs. Beale stared at the daughter from the other side of the carriage. "Did you hear anything I said?" Chloe shook her head. "You need to pull your head out of the clouds. I swear, I did not raise you to be this airheaded."

'You didn't raise me at all.' Chloe thought. She had been raised by a rotating selection of nannies while her mother drank wine with the other high born ladies of the court.

"I'm sorry mother. What were you saying?" Chloe asked.

Her mother let out an annoyed sigh, "I said that we are almost there and asked if you were ready."

"Of course mother." Chloe shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

"Stop fidgeting, that is no way for a lady to act." Her mother grumbled. Chloe sat up straight and tried to focus on anything other than her mother's judgmental looks. Another five minutes passed before the carriage pulled up in front of the church.

One after the other the Beale women stepped down from the carriage with the help of the driver. Chloe took her mother's arm as they walked into the church. It wasn't that different from the churches back in England, two rows of hard wooden pews ending with a raised platform for the priest.

Her mother dragged Chloe off to a side towards a door. Without any warning Chloe was thrown inside the room and her mother closed the door on her. She took a look around the space, even though there wasn't much to look at. There was a mirror hanging on the far wall and Chloe took the opportunity to straighten out her dress where the carriage ride had wrinkled it. She heard the door open and shut but didn't bother to turn around figuring that it was just her mother.

What she did not expect was the soft, accented voice of a long lost friend. "Dear lord, that dress is hideous. Is this what I have to look forward to for my wedding?"

Chloe spun around with her mouth hanging open. Before her stood her best friend Aubrey Posen. The two had not seen each other for nearly four years, ever since Chloe's family had moved to the West Indies.

All thoughts of acting like a proper lady flew out the window as Chloe flung herself at the blonde. Aubrey, well versed in Chloe attack hugs, had braced herself before she had even entered the room. As the redhead wrapped her arms around her friend Aubrey couldn't help but grin and return the hug. Four years had really been too long but there wasn't much they could do about it with an ocean separating them.

"Aubrey! It's so good to see you. What are you doing here?" Chloe tightened her hug and Aubrey had to wait a few seconds before her excited friend relaxed her grip.

The blonde took a deep breath to replenish her oxygen supply before smiling. "You really didn't think I would miss your wedding did you?"

"But how? You're supposed to be in London." It went unnoticed by Chloe but she had slipped back into her English accent, something that had slowly disappeared during her time in the Caribbean.

Aubrey scoffed, "Don't you pay attention to where your fiance is in the world?"

"I-um, not really." Truthfully Chloe really could not have cared less about where Thomas had been. In fact she had spent a good majority of the time trying not to think about where her future husband was.

"The Centurion was docked in London a couple of months ago," Aubrey explained. "I managed to talk my way on board." She shrugged like it was no big deal but the smug grin made it clear that Aubrey was quite pleased with herself.

"Really? They let a woman on board a navy galleon?" Chloe couldn't believe it. Sailors were some of the most superstitious people in the world. And having a woman on board, especially a military ship, was considered near heresy.

Aubrey shrugged again, "The Posen name works wonders. Plus it helps when you're engaged to the first mate."

"When did you get engaged!?" It really had been too long if Aubrey managed to convince someone to marry her. Don't get her wrong Chloe loved Aubrey like a sister, but the blonde was known to send suitors running into the harbor.

"Luke was the first to actually impress me." Aubrey moved past Chloe and sat on one of the chairs in the room. "Granted he could still use some work."

Chloe rolled her eyes. Most of the time gentlemen seeking Aubrey's hand wound up terrified by the blonde's intimidating personality and high standards. It didn't help that most men only wanted to marry Aubrey so they could have a connection to her father, Grand Admiral Ulysses Posen. What Aubrey really needed was someone who wasn't looking to use her as a stepping stool for promotion. Someone who was confident enough to stand up to the Posen name and not be kowtowed by such a powerful family.

"I hope I get to meet him at the wedding," Chloe said. "He will be there right?"

"He better be or he'll have hell to pay. It's not like he's serving aboard the same ship with the groom." Aubrey grumbled sarcastically.

Chloe laughed and sat next to her friend. She hadn't realized it but she had been rather lonely ever since her family moved. Chloe had trouble making friends within the social circles her parents wished she would participate in. The girls in those circles were always too self obsessed for Chloe's liking. And any time she tried to play with the common children she was scolded and locked in her room the rest of the day.

But Aubrey was different. All things considered the two should not be friends. Aubrey was prim and proper, always striving to meet expectations set on her by society and expecting everyone else to do the same. Chloe was often considered a wild child, running away from her nanny to explore forests and caves. Yet somehow the two had managed to become friends when they were eight, after a dinner party hosted at the Posen estate.

Chloe smiled at the memory and Aubrey noticed, "What's got you all smiley?"

"Just thinking about the night we became friends."

Aubrey groaned, "That was all your fault. I can't believe you managed to get an entire stable worth of horses into the gardens."

"I like horses," Chloe pouted. "And besides, you were the one that showed me where the stable was. So who's fault is it really?"

"Still you. You're the one that convinced the stable boy to let us in with your ridiculous pout." Aubrey glanced at her friend and pointed at her face. "Yes, that face right there. How you managed to master that face at eight years old I'll never know."

"It's a talent." Chloe laughed and Aubrey joined her. They spent the next few minutes reminiscing about their childhoods, sharing stories that had been told hundreds of times but never seemed to grow old.

They were brought out of their fond memories by a knock at the door. Chloe watched as the carefree Aubrey slipped away and was replaced by the admiral's daughter. Chloe sighed, she wished her friend could always be as relaxed as she was when they were alone. But some things never change.

Aubrey stood up and answered the door. "Lady Beale, It has been too long." She curtsied as Chloe's mother entered the room.

"Ah, Miss Posen. I had hoped you would be here." Mrs. Beale gave a polite curtsy towards Aubrey before turning to her daughter. "We are almost ready Chloe. I know you'll make your family proud."

Chloe stood up from her seat, albeit reluctantly, and nodded her head. "Of course mother."

Aubrey watched her friend as Mrs. Beale started fiddling with Chloe's dress. She would bet anything that Chloe did not want to be married off to some man that she barely knew. Chloe had always been a free spirit and the idea of being chained down probably terrified the girl. But there wasn't anything to be done. This was how the world worked, whether Chloe liked it or not they were women and this was the only way they could bring honor to their families.

Except when she saw the fear on Chloe's face Aubrey couldn't help but try and think of a way out of this problem. But before any deviant thoughts could possibly be processed by Aubrey's strict rules of conduct, the door opened again. This time it was Chloe's father.

Mr. Beale walked into the room and smiled when he saw Aubrey. "Ms. Posen, I just heard about your engagement to Commander Caldwell."

"Yes, my father thinks it will make a nice match." Aubrey said.

"We had been worried about you." He chuckled to himself, missing the cringe on Aubrey's face. "Now all we have to do is get Chloe married."

Everyone turned and looked at Chloe who was desperately trying not to draw any attention. It hadn't gone unnoticed that her father and mother both fawned over Aubrey before they even talked to her. But she wasn't jealous, Aubrey was always fawned over while Chloe happily disappeared into the background. It made it easier to escape unnoticed.

Although it would be nice if it wasn't her own parents doing the fawning.

"Of course father," Chloe took a step towards her father but stopped before she reached him. "Uhm, could I maybe have a minute to myself? Pre wedding jitters."

Her parents exchanged a look before coming to an unspoken consensus. Her father nodded and left the room shortly followed by her mother. Aubrey gave her a concerned, slightly suspicious, look before also leaving Chloe. The redhead sat back down in her chair and ran her fingers through her hair.

She let out a shaky breath. As the wedding grew closer she could feel all her anxiety flooding back. She knew this was expected of her, marry for the benefit of the family but…was this really it?

After today she would no longer have her own identity. She wouldn't be able to run off into the forest or go swimming in a lake. This was where her lifelong adventure ended, only to be traded off so her father could make connections in the navy.

A noise caught her attention from the open window and she stood up to take a look. There were children playing just across the street, kicking a ball back and forth between them. Not a care in the world.

For a brief moment she considers climbing out the window and running away for good. The only problem is that her dress would never make it through the window. The irony of being trapped by her own wedding dress was not a pleasant thought.

Before she could do anything crazy, say losing the dress and running through the streets only in her undergarments, Aubrey came back into the room. "I know what you're thinking and no, you can't run away naked."

"Why not?" Chloe huffed.

Aubrey sighed, "Because not even you are that daring."

"That's what you think." Chloe mumbled. If Aubrey hadn't come back she may have tried doing just that.

"Chloe, this isn't the answer," Aubrey said, pinching the bridge of her nose.

"Then what is the answer? Bree, I don't want to do this." Chloe started pacing back and forth, somewhat hindered by the dress.

"Chloe, do you love your family?" Aubrey asked quietly.

The other girl stopped her pacing and considered the question. She had no reason to not love her family, not really. Granted her mother usually didn't give her the time of day but her father was a kind man. He wasn't at home a lot, always off on a business trip somewhere, but when he was home he always treated her kindly and affectionately.

Chloe sighed as she realized the answer to Aubrey's question. Her father needed this union to secure his business dealings within the Caribbean, so she would go through with the marriage. Her back straightened as she came to decision, she turned and looked Aubrey in the eye. "All right, fine. I'll do it for my father."

Her friend smiled a sad smile at the redhead. Honestly she felt bad for Chloe, if she had a brother, or any siblings at all, then all the burden wouldn't fall so hard on her shoulders. Aubrey held out her hand and Chloe gripped it tightly, each giving the other a comforting squeeze. A knock at the door led to Mr. Beale peeking his head inside. "It's time."

After a steadying breath Chloe nodded her head and followed her father out into the large room. There were dozens of people sitting in the pews, all of whom turned their head to watch as Chloe was escorted by her father down the aisle.

As she looked around Chloe realized that she barely recognized anyone at her own wedding. There were plenty of men in uniforms, probably Thomas' shipmates, as well as various older women that would appear to be her mother's friends. Others were dressed in well made suits and ladies in fine dresses, her father's business partners and their wives. In the front two rows she noticed some people she actually recognized. Thomas' family sat on the left while she noticed that Aubrey had managed to sneak in on the right and was sitting next to a handsome blond man, Luke presumably.

As they neared the platform Chloe finally took a look at her soon to be husband. Thomas was wearing his dress uniform, a blue overcoat with a white shirt underneath. On his hip was a thin saber with a golden hilt on which his hand rested. Once Chloe and her father were close enough Thomas stepped down and took Chloe's hand in his own. They shared a shy smile and Chloe realized that Thomas was probably in the same boat as her. Neither had been consulted when their parents had concocted this plan so for all she knew he didn't really want to get married either. She realized that the priest had already started speaking and she had somehow managed to miss most of the ceremony. The sun was setting through the window and she realized that they were almost done.

The priest started to ask whether or not they agreed to take each other in matrimony when a commotion could be heard in the distance. The people in the audience started to whisper among themselves and the priest had to wait in order for everyone to quiet down. Except that the longer they waited the louder the commotion grew. Thomas looked away from Chloe and towards the front row of pews. Chloe followed his gaze and noticed that the man who had been sitting next to Aubrey had stood up and left the building, followed by several of the other men in uniform. Chloe made eye contact with Aubrey and they both shared a concerned look.

The priest started talking again, trying to regain the attention of the crowd but before he could get a word out the doors to the church burst open and a man came stumbling through the breach. He was clutching his side and even from this distance Chloe could see the red stain of blood seeping into his shirt. He managed to stumble forward a few more paces before collapsing on the floor. Thomas immediately rushed to the dying man's side, kneeling down as the man muttered under his breath. They all watched as Thomas' face paled and the man beneath him died. The groom stood back up and turned towards the assembled group.

"It's pirates!"

Chapter Text

"It's Pirates!"

Thomas just barely managed to shout his warning before everything was deafened by the roar of cannon fire. Everyone scattered for cover as the entire building shook and debris rained down from the ceiling. Aubrey rushed up the stairs of the platform and grabbed Chloe, who was still in shock, by the wrist. She led the redhead back down the stairs and together they huddled in front of the pew. Just as they hid they could hear another volley of cannon fire. Only this time the entire building shook from the force. Chloe poked her head above the pew and saw that the front of the church had been hit and now there was a decent size hole in the wall.

"Chloe what are you doing?" Aubrey grabbed her friend and pulled her head back down. "Are you trying to get yourself killed!?"

Before Chloe could respond the door to the church made a horrible splintering noise. This time Aubrey was the one to poke her head up and what she saw made her face pale. About a dozen weathered pirates came bursting through the shattered door. Aubrey watched as Thomas and the few remaining sailors attempted to hold back the ruffians but they were heavily outnumbered. It only took a few minutes for the pirates to overwhelm the men, knocking them out and pulling their unconscious forms to a corner of the room.

"That's strange," Aubrey whispered to herself.

"What's strange?" Chloe lifted her head again to see what Aubrey was talking about.

"They're not killing anyone," Aubrey looked through the group of attackers but didn't see anything that would suggest that they weren't pirates. "Since when do pirates show mercy?"

"Maybe they're friendly," Even Chloe couldn't quite manage to believe that. Everyone had heard stories of entire fleets of ships being sunk by the roaming bands of pirates that plague the West Indies.

Aubrey narrowed her eyes at Chloe and shook her head. She was about to retort when she was interrupted by one of the pirates. "Search em all!"

The pirates started making their way down the aisle, tearing jewelry from the necks of the ladies and any other item of value from the assembled guests. "My, my such a lovely haul," A man, who must have been the leader, said as he strode down the aisle. "So nice of ye to wear all your finest fixins."

The pirate crew slowly made their way towards the girls, collecting as they went. Chloe glanced across the pews and made eye contact with her parents. Her mother looked terrified, hunched over and clutching at her husband. Mr. Beale looked more resigned, eyeing the ruffians with barely disguised disdain. Before she knew it a pirate was standing in front of her and reaching towards her neck. On instinct she slapped his hand away. He pulled back and grinned, showing off his missing teeth. "Got a bit of fight in ya, eh?"

Quick as lighting his hand reached out and snatched the pearl necklace from around Chloe's neck. Pearls went flying all over the place and the pirate let out a curse. He scrambled to pick up the scattered jewels and managed to bump into the man in charge. "You idiot, next think before you go grabbin."

"Sorry sir, won't happen again."

The lead pirate just scoffed before turning to look at the huddled girls. He gave them a thorough once over before his eyes widened. He reached out and grabbed Aubrey by the wrist, dragging her to her feet as he studied the ring on her index finger. "I've seen this before."

Both Chloe and Aubrey felt a chill run down their spines. The ring the pirate was staring at was a Posen signet ring and as such had the family crest engraved into the metal. The same crest that Aubrey's father flew on any ship he commanded. What was worse was that Admiral Posen was notorious for hunting pirates.

They could tell when he recognized the insignia, a hawk clutching a snake in its talons, when his eyes widened and he looked at Aubrey's face. "It can't be-"

"Gibbs, what's taking so long you squab!" A new voice carried through the church and all the pirates stopped what they were doing, casting uneasy glances at the woman that came striding into the building.

To say she made an impression would be an understatement. She had long brown hair with hard eyes that whipped from one pirate to another. There was a commanding air about her, her stride was sure with her head held high. She managed to hold the attention of everyone in the room, although that could also have been because of her wide open shirt leaving her rather generous breasts out for the world to see. What they really should have been paying attention to was the two pistols hanging from her belt. Right next to a rapier.

The pirate, Gibbs, dragged Aubrey before the woman and held up Aubrey's hand. "Sorry Doc, found this one hiding over there." He showed the women the ring and she allowed a small smirk.

"So we somehow managed to find Posen's little darling in this back water?" The woman tossed her hair over a shoulder as she leaned over to look Aubrey in the eye. "This must be our lucky day." The woman gave Aubrey a once over and her smirk turned into an actual smile. She reached out and ran a finger across Aubrey's cheekbone, causing the blond to jerk her head away and glare at her captor. The woman just chuckled as she stood back up. "Have to admit, wouldn't have expected that crusty old bastard to have such a lovely daughter." The woman turned to Gibbs and cocked her head towards the door. "Take her to the ship."

Gibbs just nodded his head as he grabbed Aubrey around the waist and hoisted her over his shoulder, much to Aubrey's annoyance. "Unhand me this instance." She yelled while being lifted into the air. "If you know who I am then you know what my father will do to you when he hears about this."

"Actually, I'm thinking having the daughter of the Grand Admiral on board might just be the best bargaining tool we've ever had." The woman laughed and was about to turn back to her crew when she felt a tugging sensation on her belt. Normally she would have been fine with that but it's not something one wants to happen in the middle of a raid.

"Let her go." Chloe leveled the flintlock she had grabbed from the women's belt. She tried to keep her hands steady in an attempt to actually aim the gun, only her hands didn't seem to want to get with the program. She had never so much as held a weapon before so her hands were shaking considerably.

The woman held up her hands but the smirk on her face showed that she wasn't scared. Her eyes took in the dress that Chloe was wearing and pieces started to fall together. "My apologies miss. We didn't know there was a wedding today or we would have brought a gift." She took a step forward which Chloe matched with a step back.

Chloe steeled her nerves and held the gun steady. "Let Aubrey go now." The woman tilted her head to the side as she considered the redhead before her. The girl had spunk, the pirate had to give her that. It wasn't often that someone had the guts to steal a pirate's weapon from their own belt.

"Afraid I can't do that Red." The pirate took another step closer. "See, Miss Posen's papa has been causing us quite a bit of trouble." Another step. "And if we have his daughter then we might just be able to get the admiral off our ass and onto someone else's." The pirate was now within reaching distance of the gun. Chloe tried to take another step back but her leg hit the side of the raised platform causing her to trip. As she fumbled to keep herself upright the woman reached out and snatched the gun from Chloe's hand.

Chloe landed with an 'umph' and when she looked up she was staring down the barrel of the gun she had just been holding. She went a little crossed eyed staring down the length of the firearm but she could see that the pirate was smiling down at her. "You've got spirit Red and under different circumstances I'd offer a spot on our crew but," She shrugged her shoulders. "That's not really my call."

The woman took a step back and holstered the pistol. She turned to leave but stopped when she noticed two people hiding behind the front row of pews. The woman looked terrified but the man seemed to be glaring at the pirate with barely restrained hatred. As the pirate studied the two it felt like the final puzzle piece fell into place. She marched over to the pair, drawing her rapier as she walked. She placed the point of her blade under the man's chin and applied pressure. Just enough that a small drop of blood appeared and ran down his neck.

The pirate scrutinized Mr. Beale's face for a second before her eyes widened in recognition. "You're Johnathan Beale, aren't you?" When he didn't respond she applied more pressure to the blade. "Aren't you?" This time he gave the smallest hint of a nod, careful not to harm himself on the sword.

The pirate looked back to Chloe taking in the same red hair as her father. She turned to two waiting crew members and gestured with her head towards Chloe. "We're taking her too." The crewman sprung into action and grabbed Chloe's arms much to her protest. One of the pirates threw her over his shoulder just as Gibbs had done to Aubrey. "And make sure you gag em. Wouldn't want them giving us away during our escape."

"Unhand my daughter this instant you whore." Mr. Beale tried to rise to his feet but the pirate kicked him in the chest. He fell back against the pew and managed to hit his head against the seat.

The woman placed her foot on his chest to keep him from getting back up. "Now is that any way to talk to a lady?"

"You're no lady," Mrs. Beale sneered from the side.

"Aye, you're probably right about that." The woman turned back to the man under her boot. "But he certainly isn't a man. I think it's time you got a taste of your own medicine Mr. Beale." She lifted her foot and made her way over to her two captives. "And you should trust me," she called over her shoulder. "I'm a doctor."

With Chloe and Aubrey safely bound and gagged, the woman survived the room. Deciding there was nothing left for them to take she made a circular motion with her finger. "All right boys, we've got places to be and people to rob so let's move out." She led the way to the shattered door and exited the church.

Once they were outside the two captives could see just how crazy the city had become. There were people running and screaming in every direction and several of the buildings had massive chunks missing, presumably from the cannon fire. The pirates didn't stick around to admire their handiwork though. The woman turned to her group and shouted over the chaos, "On the double back to the ship! If I see any dawdling you'll be left behind so let's move!"

The group set off towards the harbor at a brisk jog. Chloe and Aubrey bounced up and down with each step, likely to leave large bruises on their abdomens by the time everything was said and done. The two ladies tried to look at each other but the jostling of their head made eye contact rather difficult. Aubrey looked absolutely furious, and if it wasn't for the gag in her mouth she would probably be saying some rather unladylike things to say.

Chloe on the other hand was more scared than angry. The scenes that flashed by as they ran towards the harbor were horrible. People who had been regular citizens just a few hours ago were now fighting each other in the streets. The group stayed next to buildings and ducked down alleyways to avoid the larger mobs. Every so often she could make out scattered groups of soldiers trying to restore order but there was little they could do.

And if that wasn't terrifying enough there was the fact that she had just been kidnapped. She had heard about the horrible things pirates did to their captives. And it wasn't just Chloe, if the pirates were smart at most she would be held for ransom and returned to her parents. Aubrey, however, was in much more danger. Her father was the man that every pirate feared so Aubrey's safe return wasn't going to be as simple as a few pieces of gold. She was looking at months of being tormented by this pirate crew until they could figure out how to use Aubrey against the admiral. And if Ulysses Posen was anything like Chloe remembered then it was likely she would never see her friend again. Grand Admiral Posen never parleyed with pirates.

Chloe was brought out of her musings when their group made a turn and she realized that they were almost at the docks. She recognized the ship that had seen earlier in the day, only now it was alive with commotion. A volley of cannon fire came roaring from the ship, the sound almost deafening now that they were so close.

"Conrad!" The pirate woman stopped in her tracks and spun on her heel. Approaching them was another group of pirates that Chloe could only assume belonged to the same crew. As they approached she could make them out better. One had dark skin and very short hair overall except for two strands with beads over her forehead. The other crew member was blonde and a bit more rotund.

"You two!" The woman, whose name appeared to be Conrad, pointed a finger at the two as they approached. "Get your asses on the ship now. Do you have any idea how much bullshit we had to go through to break you out."

The dark skin one looked a bit apologetic while the large blond just rolled her eyes. "So we played a few hands and got a little drunk. It's no big deal." Chloe tried to place the accent

"You idiots picked a fight with a navy captain." Conrad's face was growing red before she took a deep breath and let it out. "Do you have any idea how out of the way Kingston is from Barbados?"

"Look in our defense he was cheating-"

Conrad cut her off. "I don't care Rose," She took a step and got as close to Rose as possible. "Get your ass behind the helm and prepare to disembark. We're getting out of here. Now." Rose dropped her head and broke off from the group before sprinting towards the ship. Once she was gone Conrad turned back to the blond. "Where's Lilly? She was supposed to be with you two."

"Yeah, well see-"

"You know what, I don't care. She's more capable than the rest of the crew combined." Conrad turned back to her group of pirates. "Gibbs, get those two on board and toss them in the brig. We're setting sail."

"Yes mam. You heard her boys, let's move it." The pirates started moving towards the ship again with Conrad and the blonde falling in behind the group. The captives watched as their hope for escape dwindled. Once they were on the ship there was nothing to be done, there would be no escape.

Just as they were about to board there was a commotion coming from down the street. The pirate that was holding Chloe spun around meaning she couldn't see what was happening. She heard Conrad curse and the sound of swords being drawn.

"Stop in the name of the king!" The voice sounded authoritative but Chloe could hear a quiver in his voice. If only she could see what was going on. So instead she looked at Aubrey and from her expression her friend clearly recognized the voice.

"Ha," Conrad laughed. "Look at the pretty boy in his fancy suit."

"I am the first mate of the Centurion. If you think you can just sail away from here then you are in for a world of misery." Chloe lifted her head to look over her shoulder. Standing at the end of the gang-plank were three men in sailor uniforms. The one in the middle was the same man she had seen sitting next to Aubrey during the wedding.

Luke took a tentative step on the gang-plank and raised his saber into a ready position. Conrad laughed again and drew her own rapier. "Boy, do you really want to cross blades with a pirate?"

"On my honor, I will not allow you to leave." He took another step forward but Conrad just rolled her eyes. The action allowed her to see a red parrot flying overhead and her expression changed from annoyed to amused.

"Tell me, mister first mate. What would you do if you didn't have your friends backing you up?" Luke looked confused until he looked behind him. The two men that were standing by were now lying on the ground. Between them was a petite woman with long black hair that hid her face. The parrot flew out of the sky and landed on the girl's shoulder.

"What the hell-umph" Luke collapsed as Conrad brought the hilt of her blade on the back of his head.

"Shame," Conrad bent over and dragged Luke back to the dock. "He had such a pretty face." She looked up and eyed the woman with the bird. "You're a bit late. We almost left without you."

Instead of responding herself the parrot made a loud squawking noise before speaking. "Time is relative!"

"Whatever, just get on board." Conrad returned her rapier to its sheath before returning to the ship. Once she was on board two crewmen grabbed the gang-plank and stowed it out of the way. "Jessica! Ashley! One more volley and then we're gone. Rose, get this ship moving, we need to be out to sea before any of those navy bastards get the wrong idea."

There was a chorus of "Ayes" and "Yes mams" as the crew scurried to follow instructions. The one called Rose took the helm and started calling out rigging and sail orders for the crew and soon enough the ship was pulling away from the dock. The two pirates who had been carrying Chloe and Aubrey put the girls down at the back of the ship behind the helm before rushing off to man their stations.

The two huddled together and tried to stay out of the way. Aubrey gave Chloe a concerned look before gesturing with her head to the railing. Chloe turned her head to look over the side. The water was pitch black and she knew it would be cold but if they didn't try to escape now then they would be out to sea and any chance would be gone. She looked Aubrey in the eye and nodded. Together they slowly stood up, trying not to attract attention. Once they were on their feet Aubrey positioned herself on the railing and swung her legs over the edge. Chloe followed suit but it hit her that their arms and legs were bound and they were both wearing heavy dresses. If they tried to swim to shore they probably wouldn't make it. Chloe reached out and grabbed Aubrey's arm to stop her from jumping. Once she had the blonde's attention she shook her head violently and held up her bound hands, trying to convey her message. Aubrey just looked at her confused, in her mind they could make it to shore. If not, then drowning was preferable to being captured by pirates. She was a Posen after all and she had a reputation to protect.

There was a brief battle of wills as the two friends stared at each other. But before they could come to a decision they heard a loud screech behind them. They turned and saw the same girl from before, the parrot perched on her shoulder. She was definitely foreign and, if Chloe had to guess, was probably from somewhere in the orient. The parrot squawked again, "Shum in the water." The girl reached out and dragged the two captives back on deck. She then proceeded to tie a rope around both their wrists and tied them to the railing. So much for escaping.

The girls flinched as the cannons fired again, no doubt causing more chaos within the city. But at that point the ship was well underway with the city growing smaller behind them. Their attention was pulled away from the city when Conrad made her way across the deck and climbed the stairs to stand next to Rose at the helm. She placed a hand on Rose's shoulder and used her other hand to point at something in the distance. "See that light in the middle of the bay," Rose nodded "Bring it up to port."

Rose spun the wheel and the ship curved through the water. Aubrey looked around and noticed that the fleet was still in position at the mouth of the harbor. There was still a chance that they could make it out of this. After all, there was no way the pirate ship could make it through that blockade without being noticed.

They sailed for another minute when a soft bumping noise could be heard from the port side of the ship. Conrad called for a rope ladder and after it was thrown over the side two more women climbed aboard. Chloe listened while they settled on the deck and wondered when and how a pirate crew came to be manned mostly by women.

"Shorstack! Glad to see you. Thanks for draggin our buns out of the oven." The loud blonde rushed to the two and gathered them in a hug.

"Idiota. La próxima vez te dejaré con los perros." A very angry voice yelled in protest.

"Yeah, sorry Flo. Still don't understand a thing you said."

"Imbécil."

"Hey! I know that one."

"Amy, it would probably be best if you just sat in the corner and didn't move for a few days." A new voice carried across the deck to the prisoners and before long a rather short woman walked up the steps to stand next to the helm. Rose went to apologize but the woman cut her off, "I'm not happy with you either. That little stunt you two pulled has cost us a lot of time."

"Sorry Cap'n'" Rose returned to her duties. The woman was short, couldn't have been much more that five feet tall. She wore a black bandana over her hair and her left ear was filled with various earrings. It was hard to see in the dark but one could just make out various tattoos running up and down her arms. The woman looked around and noticed the two women huddled in the corner and Chloe saw the deep blue of her eyes in the candlelight.

"Who the hell are you?"

"Uh, captain if I might have a word." Conrad leaned in and whispered something into the woman's ear. Aubrey and Chloe exchanged a confused glance, they had never heard of a woman captain before.

"Really Stacie? Don't you think we have enough problems?" The captain asked.

Conrad shrugged. "I saw an opportunity so I took it."

The captain groaned and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Well it's not like we can take them back." She looked at the captives and sighed. "I'll deal with you later."

"Cap'n," Rose spoke up. "What are we doing about the fleet?"

"Just keep true," The captain moved to place her hands on the railing just in front of the helm. "Flo and I took care of it."

The ship kept to course with the fleet growing larger every second. Then the entire crew watched as a massive explosion demolished the Centurion and the surrounding ships. The fireball from the explosion lit up the night sky as the crew cheered.

Chloe huddled next closer to Aubrey and took her had. Together the watched their last hope of escape going up in flames.

Chapter Text

The Centurion, or what was left of it, slowly sank beneath the waves. The captain quickly turned away from the burning wreckage and rubbed her eyes with thumb and forefinger. "Let's get out of here." She said quietly before shouting, "All hands to sail! Catch every scrap of wind!" The crew jumped to follow her orders and soon enough every sail was unfurled. The ship lurched forward as the wind gathered in the sails and the ship went flying out of the harbor.

The captain turned towards the captives and gave them a questioning look. Chloe could feel Aubrey grow tense and defensive as the captain walked towards them. She knelt down in front of the two friends, giving them a thorough examination. With the captain this close Chloe could make out more details. The earrings in her ear looked to be made out of silver, three were simple rings lining the cartilage. The other two hung from the lobe, each just simple pins about three inches long.

What was more interesting was her eyes. When she turned to look at Chloe the redhead could see just how deep of blue they really were, just like the ocean around them. They also had an intensity to them that Chloe couldn't quite understand. They seemed to study everything about her in a matter of seconds. And yet, when Chloe made eye contact she could see a bit of pain hidden behind the stare. She held eye contact for several seconds before the captain looked away.

She stood up and turned back to Conrad, "Put them in my quarters for now. I'll figure out what to do with them in the morning."

Conrad gave the captain a side eye glance, "Are you sure captain? Shouldn't we throw them in the brig?"

The captain shook her head, "Remember what happened with Lilly the last time we put someone in there?" Conrad's face blanched and nodded her head. "Besides, these are women of stature." The captain's tone turned from serious to sarcastic, almost sardonic. "They need a higher standard."

Conrad laughed before moving towards the captives. She drew her rapier which caused the girls to flinch but she only used it to cut the rope attached to the banister. Aubrey tried to resist when the woman grabbed her arm, glaring at the pirate in front of them. Conrad just looked at her before rolling her eyes, "Look princess, you can either make this easy or difficult. And trust me when I say you don't want to make this difficult."

For a second it looked like Aubrey was going to continue to struggle then her shoulders sagged. Since they were still bound together, Chloe and Aubrey struggled to stand up. Once they were on their feet Conrad grabbed the rope and led them down the stairs to the main deck. She turned around and headed to the door directly under the helm, unlocking it before dragging the girls inside.

"All right," Conrad started working on their bonds. "Before you get any ideas about escaping you should know that there are no firearms in here." The rope around Chloe's wrist came undone. The redhead rubbed her wrists as Conrad moved to work on Aubrey's restraints. "And if you think that any of the blades in here could help you, you are welcome to try." Aubrey's hands came free and the blonde glared at the pirate while she undid the gag in her mouth.

"My father will see you all hanged." Aubrey growled. Conrad looked unimpressed and simply shrugged.

"Actually the whole idea of having you on board is so that doesn't happen." Conrad took a step closer to Aubrey and the blonde straightened her back in defiance. Conrad smiled as she raked her eyes over Aubrey. "The bed is over there," She gestured to the far wall with her finger. "If that isn't comfortable enough for you you're more than welcome to come sleep in my hammock." Her voice had dropped to a more husky tone by the end of the sentence.

It was hard to see in the darkness of the cabin, but Chloe could have sworn she saw her friend glance down at the pirate's breasts, which were still uncovered, before quickly spinning on her heel. Conrad quietly laughed to herself before turning to Chloe, "There will be breakfast in the morning. Until then try not to break anything."

Conrad turned and left the room, closing the door behind her. Chloe could make out the soft click of a key and she realized that they were locked inside the cabin. She looked around the room but now that the door was shut there was very little light. She could hear Aubrey moving around but where the blonde actually was. After taking a few steps forward and managing not to step on anything she made her way in the direction that Conrad had said the bed was.

After stumbling around for several minutes her eyes finally managed to adjust to the darkness. She could make out the faint outline of a bed in the corner of the room so she made her way towards it. Holding out her hands so she wouldn't bump into anything, Chloe managed to make her way over to the bed without incident. Aubrey on the other hand seemed to be having a bit of trouble.

"Why are there no lanterns in here?" Aubrey grumbled as she struggled around the room.

"I don't know," Chloe said. "Just come over here and go to sleep."

"How can you sleep at a time like this?" Aubrey asked. "We've been kidnapped by a band of pirates and are being held hostage."

Chloe shrugged, not that Aubrey could see it in the dark. "There's nothing we can do about it now so we might as well rest. Who knows what we're in for tomorrow."

She heard Aubrey mumble something under her breath but couldn't make out what she was saying. After a little while Aubrey gave up her search for a lantern and stumbled over to the bed. She laid down next to Chloe, maneuvering around the wedding dress her friend was still stuck in.

Chloe laid there quietly waiting for her body to relax. It took longer than she would have liked but the gentle swaying of the ship and the sound of the waves against the hull helped to calm her down. She could hear the sounds of the crew moving around the ship and the creak of rigging being pulled. Despite her father owning a large trade empire Chloe was rarely ever on an actual ship. Her mother had always despised sailing so their family never made it out on the water. Now that she thought about it her mother hated most things that didn't involve drinking and gossiping with the other women in her social circle.

The adrenaline that resulted from her hectic day was wearing off and her body was feeling the fatigue of being kidnapped. She squirmed around on the bed to try and find a comfortable position, made rather difficult by the obnoxious wedding dress. After a mumbled complaint from Aubrey, Chloe finally managed to calm down and fall asleep.


Chloe awoke to the sound of the crew moving about the ship. She struggled to sit up, her body sore from sleeping in an awkward position. The room was much better light now that there was sunlight shining through the windows that lined the back wall of the cabin. A quick glance to her side told her that Aubrey was still sound asleep. Chloe smiled to herself, for all her blustering last night Aubrey had managed to fall asleep easily and was now dead to the world. Slowly, as not to disturb her friend, Chloe dragged herself out of bed and took a look around the quarters they had been given.

It was surprisingly clean, Chloe had figured that a pirate would care little for cleanliness but the cabin was quite tidy. She looked over the walls quickly, noting the dark wood that the cabin was composed of. Above the door was a black flag with an insignia she had never seen before. It appeared to be the face of a beautiful woman, with her eyes closed and her mouth open like she was speaking, or maybe singing. Framing the woman's face in a loose circle were what looked like stylized laurels. As she took a closer look Chloe couldn't help but notice the detail that had been put into the flag. The woman was wearing some sort of circlet and while the rest of the picture was white, the circlet was woven with beautiful treads made of gold. As far as Chloe knew most Jolly Rogers were simple so as to be more recognizable from a distance. This flag, however, was a work of art.

Chloe managed to pry her eyes away from the tapestry above the door and look at the rest of the room. There was a dresser in the corner that presumably held the captain's clothes, although Chloe had never heard of pirates needing more than one set of clothing. But then again this was a very peculiar pirate crew. On the wall above the dresser was a display of a wide range of bladed weapons. There were several swords that Chloe recognized, rapiers and larger broadswords, but there were several that she had never seen before. They were all oiled and gleaming, leading Chloe to believe that the captain was either just a clean person or that she was prolific with her swordplay.

Turning away from the impressive sword display, she noticed that there was a table that sat opposite the bed. On it were several maps of various areas and regions, some of which Chloe had never heard of. Above the desk was a framed map of the Caribbean, the various Islands listed and labeled clearly. As she looked closer Chloe noticed that the map appeared to be more complete and more detailed than any of the maps in her father's study. Looking even closer she saw that there were several islands that didn't appear on any of the maps she knew. One in particular stood out among the rest, north and east of the Bahamas, there was an Island that Chloe was fairly certain didn't exist.

Before she could investigate further the sound of the door unlocking stopped any snooping. The door opened to reveal the large blonde from yesterday carrying a tray with two platters. Each platter held what looked like a slice of ham and a hard biscuit slathered with gravy.

"Hello ginger, sleep alright did ya?" The blonde said in her strange accent while Chloe tried to keep her distance. The blonde shrugged, clearly not offended by Chloe's obvious mistrust. "Here's your food. If you proper ladies can't eat all that I'll be more than happy to take it off your hands." She set the tray on the desk, pushing a few maps onto the floor to make room. "Right, no idea what the captain has in store for you but we might as well introduce ourselves," the blonde held out her hand to Chloe. "Name's Fat Amy."

Chloe looked at the hand with a bit of apprehension, "Your name is Fat Amy?"

"Yeah, that way proper twig bitches like you don't do it behind me back." Amy kept her hand outstretched, smiling at her own joke. Chloe held out her own hand which Amy grabbed and shook with gusto. Once Chloe managed to pry her hand free she rolled her sore shoulder, making a mental note to not shake the blonde's hand again. The two were startled when Aubrey suddenly sat bolt upright in the bed.

She looked confused for a second before her face cleared and locked eyes with Chloe. "That wasn't a dream was it?"

Chloe shook her head before glancing at the pirate next to her. "Aubrey, this is…uhm."

"I told you girly, the name is Fat Amy. Didn't get bonked on your noggin did ye?" Amy made a show of reaching for Chloe's head to which the redhead ducked out of the way. "Right, well enjoy the food. If you need anything, ask someone else." Before they could say anything Amy was out the door, locking it behind her as she left.

"That was weird," Chloe mumbled to herself. She took the platters from the tray on the desk and walked back over to Aubrey. She sat down on the edge of the bed, patting the spot next to her so that Aubrey would join her. She looked down at the plate in her lap and tried not to cringe. The meal wasn't exactly appetizing, the biscuit, despite the gravy, wasn't much better than a rock. The meat, lucky, looked fine and Chloe decided to eat that first. Only then did she realize that they hadn't been provided utensils. Aubrey appeared even less impressed than Chloe, staring at the food with distaste.

"Well, this is lovely isn't it?" Aubrey picked up her bread, nibbling at it a little bit. Chloe hummed in agreement before picking up the ham with her fingers. It wasn't as bad as she thought it was going to be, maybe a little salty but that was to be expected. Most ships, pirate or otherwise, couldn't afford to keep fresh food in stock.

They sat quietly eating their food. Neither could really bring themselves to talk about their situation since it appeared to be utterly hopeless. They didn't know where they were or how long they would be on the ship. For all they knew the captain could decide that they were too much trouble and throw them overboard.

Once they were done eating Chloe put the plates back on the tray. Unsure about what they were supposed to do now, the girls just sat down and waited. Well Chloe waited while Aubrey paced from one end of the room to the other. Watching your friend wear a hole in the deck gets old fast so Chloe went back to her exploration of the cabin. There wasn't much else to the room than what she had already seen but after a few minutes of scrutiny she made a discovery.

Under the bed was a wooden box filled with various books. Chloe gently ran her fingers over the hard leather covers, studying the names along the spines. There were a few she recognized, several works of Shakespeare, but there were a couple she had never heard of. Like a book called Don Quixote, probably Spanish, and there were several books that she couldn't even tell what language it was written in.

Aubrey took a look over Chloe's shoulder and scoffed. "Wonder which library they stole those from." She reached past Chloe and picked up one of the books that the redhead didn't recognize. "This is in Greek, I think it might be Homer."

Chloe looked back at her friend, "You read Greek?"

"Not really, I just recognize the alphabet." Aubrey put the book back where she found it.

"Good eye, but that one isn't Homer, it's Sophocles." The girls spun around to see the captain standing behind them, arms crossed across her chest. "Homer is the one next to it." The captain strode forward and kicked the box back under the bed. "Didn't anyone ever tell you it's rude to go rooting through someone else's things."

Probably the wrong thing to say to an angry Posen. "Oh and it's perfect etiquette to kidnap two innocent people and hold them for ransom?"

"Yeah innocent," the captain mumbled sarcastically. She looked them over again and cringed before moving to the dresser. After opening a few drawers she pulled out two sets of clothes and tossed them towards the girls. "Put those on. I doubt you're comfortable in well…that." She gestured to the pair's dresses. Aubrey huffed but Chloe looked down at the simple cotton pants and shirt. They looked infinitely more comfortable than the wedding dress she was trapped in.

Chloe put the clothes on the bed before she started working on the laces in the front of her dress. The captain's eyes went wide and she spun around before Chloe could get any farther. Aubrey was equally scandalized, reaching out and grabbing Chloe's hands. "What do you think you're doing?"

"I am not going to be stuck in this stupid dress for however long we're here." Chloe went back to the laces, only to have Aubrey slap her hands again.

"You can't just go around undressing in front of people!" Aubrey whispered harshly.

"It's not like there's a changing room on board Bree."

"That still doesn't mean you need to strip in front of the enemy." She gestured with her eyes to the pirate.

Chloe looked at the captain who's back was still turned to them. "She's a woman, it's not like she hasn't seen any of this before." She gestured to her body. "Besides you saw the way that Conrad girl walked around."

The captain chuckled, gaining the girls' attention. "Stacie is a bit of a strange one. But don't worry Ms. Posen I'll leave you two to change." She left the room and Chloe went back to taking off her dress. Aubrey scoffed before giving her set of clothes a disdainful look.

"You can either stand there and glare the clothes into submission or put them on but before you do that could you please help me out of this thing?" Chloe had managed to get the front laces undone but the dress was made in such a way that the back needed to be untied as well. Aubrey moved to stand behind her and after several minutes they managed to get the dress loose enough for Chloe to wiggle out. Now that she was only in her undergarments Chloe took a deep breath. The dress had been rather constricting so she relished the opportunity to breathe.

She quickly donned the clothes given to her, a simple pair of pants, a shirt, and a belt to go around her waist. When putting on the pants she noticed that they were a tad too short for her. 'That captain really is small,' She thought.

Just as she finished strapping on the belt there was a knock at the door. Half a second later the captain walked back into the room. She looked Chloe up and down, giving an almost imperceptible nod of approval. When she looked at Aubrey the sarcastic smirk returned, "You're welcome to keep wearing that Miss Posen, but I wouldn't recommend it."

Aubrey glared at the captain before snatching the clothes and throwing them back at the pirate. The captain just caught the bundle and shrugged, she moved back to the dresser and returned the clothing. "Suit yourself."

The captain looked to the empty platters on the table before turning to the girls. "Was breakfast alright? Sorry if it's not up to your usual standards but Amy isn't exactly the best cook around." Her voice made it clear that the pirate wasn't actually apologetic.

"If you two will follow me." It sounded more like a command than a suggestion. The girls share an uneasy look. Aubrey clearly didn't want to leave the cabin but Chloe wanted to at least get some fresh air into her lungs. They had a silent debate for almost a full minute before Aubrey caved and they followed the captain out to the main deck.

It was surprising how much noise the doors had kept from the outside. The ship was alive with movement as crewmen busied themselves at their stations. Ropes were flying everywhere and people were shouting from bow to stern. The captain moved up the stairs to the helm, calling out greetings to the crew as she passed.

They made it to the back of the ship where the Rose woman was still manning the helm. "How goes it Cynthia?" the captain asked.

The helmsman looked at the girls behind the captain before answering. "There's a fair wind at our backs captain, should be in Nassau day after tomorrow."

"So long as there's no more delay's right?" Cynthia's shoulders slumped at the captain's words.

"I'm sorry, alright." Cynthia said. "How long am I going to have to apologize?"

"Until the British navy stops following us." There was a slight smirk on the captain's face, letting Chloe think that the pirate was already forgiven, this was just friendly banter.

Cynthia rolled her eyes before turning back to the helm, "What are those two doing out here?"

"They need to earn their keep." The captain turned to the girls. "There aren't a lot of rules on board this ship but one is that if you want to eat you need to work." She brushed past the girls and picked up a bucket full of water and two hand brushes. "Welcome aboard."


Chloe plunged her brush into the bucket of sea water, her arm throbbing from overuse. The stiff bristles of the brush scraped against the floorboards as Chloe put her whole body weight into cleaning the deck. It felt like it had been hours since the captain had given them this menial task. And in truth it had been but they had only managed to clean a small portion of the deck in that time. There were so many people moving about that scrubbing certain areas was impossible unless the crew was on a break. Aubrey had protested the work at first but the captain had made it clear that if they didn't work they would be thrown overboard. So, while still grumbling, Aubrey had joined Chloe in the scrubbing of the deck.

The captain had watched them for only the first fifteen minutes before disappearing into her cabin, leaving Cynthia in charge of the two captives. They toiled around the helm until Cynthia declared it good enough. Now they were working on the lower deck, dodging out of the way of the busy crew so as not to be trampled.

"Oh come on doc, give me another chance. I've really improved since the last match." Chloe perked her ears up as Conrad walked past her, a crewman hot on her heels.

"I told you John, I won't duel anyone more than once a month. It gets boring after a while." Conrad said, her tone of voice making it clear that she was bored with the conversation.

"Yeah, well I think you're just scared." The crewman, John, proclaimed. Conrad looked over her shoulder at the man and let out a long, exasperated sigh.

"Fine, it's a duel. But when I win, you have to clean the larder. Amy's been complaining about some sort of smell in there." Conrad said. John rushed to grab a pair of swords from below deck, returning after only a minute. He tossed one to Conrad who caught it with ease. She stripped off her shirt entirely, revealing a couple of tattoos along her arms and abdomen. To Chloe it looked like there was a name on the inside of the pirates forearm but she couldn't quite make out what it said.

The doctor drew her blade, swinging it from side to side experimentally before placing her free hand on her hip. John drew his blade as well but it was clear that he was distracted by Conrad's…assets.

The crew gathered around the pair cheering and catcalling as the two circled each other. Chloe glanced at Aubrey to see that the blonde was also watching in rapt attention. Chloe was about to ask Aubrey what was going on but the clash of steel drew her attention back to the two duelists.

John had started things with a thrust from his rapier, which Conrad easily deflected with her own blade. John kept up his offensive, switching between slashes and thrusts, all of which Conrad either parried or dodged entirely. The farce of a fight lasted for a couple of minutes but it was clear that John was severely outmatched. After one last desperate thrust John's blade was knocked from his hand and clattered across the deck. The crowd cheered and Chloe saw several crew members exchange money. John picked up his blade, grumbling to himself and sheathed the weapon. Conrad was laughing to herself as she did the same.

"Maybe next time focus more on thrusting with your sword than with your cock." The crew all laughed, to which John just rolled his eyes. Conrad looked around and shouted at the top of her voice, "Enough lollygaggin, get back to work."

The crew dissipated as everyone returned to their stations. Conrad tossed her blade back to John and was about to leave when she noticed the two women scrubbing the deck. She smiled at the pair and made her way over to them. Chloe tensed a little, after all this was the woman who captured them, but the pirate's easy going smile eased Chloe's concerns a little bit. Aubrey on the other hand went back to scrubbing the deck, much more aggressively than before.

Conrad sat on top of a nearby barrel and stretched her arms over her head. "Bet you're wondering what that was all about."

She had directed the question at Aubrey but the blonde dutifully ignored her. So Chloe decided to respond, "Some sort of sparring practice?"

Conrad smiled, "Close Red, but not quite. Little Johnny was trying to get into my pants." Aubrey slipped on her brush and just about crashed onto the deck.

"Must you be so vulgar?" Aubrey grumbled, glaring at the pirate out of the corner of her eye.

"Sorry princess. No one ever taught me to be a lady." Conrad held out her arms and Chloe managed to see that the tattoo on the forearm was the name "Bella".

"You could at least put your shirt back on." Aubrey said as she kept her head down, away from the half naked pirate.

"I could, but you see I like to feel the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair." She shook her head to emphasize her point. "But I kind of like this whole," she gestured to Aubrey. "Kept woman thing you got going on, leaves a lot to the imagination."

Chloe could practically see her friend bristle at the statement. Aubrey stood up and rounded on the pirate, her face flushed red in anger. "Just because I choose not to strut around naked doesn't mean I'm a kept woman."

Conrad held up her hands apologetically, "Sorry princess, didn't mean to offend you."

"Oh bollocks, if you didn't mean to offend me then you shouldn't have kidnapped us." Aubrey threw her brush at the pirate, who managed to catch it but she didn't look happy.

"I'd be more careful with who you throw things at." Conrad's voice had dropped to a more serious tone as she eyed Aubrey wearily.

"Please,"Aubrey scoffed. "I'm not scared of you. If I had been armed you never would have made it inside that church."

Conrad's eyebrows rose dramatically, "Really? Figured the only blade you've ever held was made of silver." Calling over Aubrey's shoulder, "John, give the lady a sword." Chloe looked to see that the man was still standing off to the side, silently watching the exchange. She strode forward, almost nose to nose with Aubrey. "Let's see what you can do princess.

Chloe fidgeted off to the side as Aubrey and the pirate reached for their swords. Aubrey gave her blade a few swings to get a feel for the blade. Conrad just sat back and waited for the blonde to ready herself. Which struck Chloe as surprisingly courteous for a pirate.

Aubrey finished swinging her sword around and turned to the woman. She fell into a ready stance with the tip of the sword held low and her body relaxed, saying gently to the role of the ship. Conrad looked over her opponent with a cautious eye, Aubrey was clearly a better swordsman than John.

A crowd had started to form again and Chloe had to jostle a few to the side in order to see. Conrad took a playful swing at Aubrey who easily deflected it with a twist of her wrist. The two circled each other warily, neither taking their eyes off the other.

"You know, the usual bet for one of these duels is that if you win I have to treat you to a night of fun." Conrad said as she took another swipe. Aubrey, who had been holding a solid defense, stuttered in her step and Conrad managed to cut through the shoulder of Aubrey's dress.

Aubrey looked down at the wound. It was superficial, barely even a scratch but it represented an error in judgment. She had watched Conrad's fight earlier and came to the conclusion that the pirate wasn't all that skilled. Something that she was deeply regretting. Conrad was actually very talented with a blade and as they dueled Aubrey realized that the pirate had been holding back during her fight with John.

They exchanged a few more blows, neither managing to gain ground on the other. Chloe watched to exchange with growing anxiety. She knew that Aubrey had taken fencing lessons as a child but this was different from the training bouts the blonde was used to. Plus, any instructor Aubrey ever had would have been cautious about injuring Admiral Possen's daughter. Conrad had no such fear.

The two continued their dance for several minutes. And despite Chloe's trepidation about Aubrey's skills, the blonde was holding her own. But as the match went on the difference in experience began to show. Conrad had been sailing for who knows how long and had probably been in countless fights. And ultimately it was that experience that led to Aubrey's downfall.

The ship made a sudden lurch as a larger than normal wave passed beneath them. Conrad, used to sudden shifts in the sea, accounted for the sudden tilt of the deck while Aubrey went fumbling backwards. Seizing the opportunity, Conrad reached out with her left hand and grabbed Aubrey's wrist. At the same time she brought her right leg out and swept it behind Aubrey's legs, which managed to get tangled in her dress and sent her sprawling on the deck. Conrad was quick to straddle Aubrey's hips and removed the sword from Aubrey's hand.

Aubrey was furious and tried to buck the pirate off of her but Conrad had her securely pinned to the deck. "Easy now. Know when you've lost."

"You cheated." Aubrey spat back. "Where's the honor in grabbing someone during a duel?"

A cocky smirk grew across Conrad's face, "All's fair in love and war, princess." She very quickly leaned down and pecked Aubrey on the lips before standing up and walking away, the crowd walking with her. Aubrey laid there for a full five seconds before she seemed to register what had happened. Chloe could see the rage building on her friend's face as she struggled to rise. Chloe held out her hand which Aubrey latched onto and managed to stand up. She whipped at her mouth and ran to the side of the ship to spit into the ocean.

"Did you see what she did!?" Aubrey asked, spitting into the ocean again.

"Be glad that's all she did."

Chloe jumped a bit when the captain seemed to just appear behind her. "Must you keep doing that?"

The captain shrugged, "It's my ship I can do what I want. If you two are done having fun I'll take you back to my cabin."

Chloe was confused for a second before she realized just how late it had gotten. The sun was already starting to set on the horizon. How had the entire day passed so quickly when all they had been doing was scrubbing the deck, and they didn't even get that far.

The Captain must have noticed her confusion because she laughed and gestured for the pair to follow her. "Time flies when you actually do something with your day."

Chloe wasn't sure if the captain was making fun of them or not. The Conrad woman had made similar remarks about their wealthy background. Which Chloe thought was a bit rich since these people pillaged and plundered for a living.

As they walked across the deck Chloe noticed that lanterns across the ship were starting to be lit. Only some were being lit while no one was nearby. She was about to ask how that happened when a creaking noise came from behind her. There was a woosh of air and a person holding a torch went flying by, lighting the lanterns on this side of the ship.

Chloe nearly jumped out of her boots when this happened. And while her boots managed to stay on she did sort of lurch towards the captain, who caught Chloe with one arm and held her steady.

"You alright there red?" she asked.

Chloe straightened and composed herself. She looked down at the pirate and gave her a small smile, "I'm fine, just startled."

"Yeah, I don't know why Lilly feels the need to do that." They stood there awkwardly as the captain still had a tight grip around Chloe's waist. Chloe tried to look into the other woman's eyes but the captain was intensely watching the torch fly around the ship in the dark. Chloe could see a few twitches in the captain's face, like she was trying to keep her face neutral.

Aubrey made a coughing noise and the two split apart. Chloe continued to watch the captain but she seemed to have gotten control over herself. Before Chloe could ask what was wrong the captain started moving towards the stern of the ship again. Aubrey gave Chloe a confused look but Chloe just dismissed it with a wave of her hand. They made it back to the cabin door, which the captain opened with a key and held for the two women.

"Your supper is on the desk." The captain said and shut the door before Chloe could thank her. The abrupt departure was a bit jarring but she could hear the key in the lock and they were once again locked inside.

"Great," Chloe turned to vaguely see Aubrey stumbling around in the dark. "Now all we have to do is find the table."

Chapter Text

 

The first thing Chloe noticed the next morning was the searing pain in her shoulders. She groaned at the torture that her muscles were putting her through, she wasn't used to doing so much manual labor and her body was screaming in protest. The noise from the crew was seeping into the cabin and Chloe knew it was only a matter of time before that Amy woman came bursting through the door. But when she tried to sit up in the bed her body didn't want to follow orders.

Aubrey began to make noises next to her and soon enough the blonde was awake. Her friend looked around the cabin and saw that Chloe was just lying on the bed. "Come on Chloe, you've got to get up."

"I don't think I can Bree."

"If you don't they will make you." Aubrey groaned as she sat up in bed. She reached out a hand which Chloe managed to grasp. Together they managed to crawl out of bed and stand up on their own feet.

"What do you think they'll make us do today." Chloe asked, even though she could guess the answer.

Aubrey made a dismissive grunt, "Probably more of the same. The captain doesn't seem to know what to do with us so she's just using us for menial labor."

Chloe shrugged, it seemed like the most plausible scenario. The captain hadn't seemed too happy that Conrad had kidnapped them. And while there was the idea of holding them for ransom it was more likely to bring the full anger of the British navy down on this crew. To Chloe it seemed like Conrad was the impulsive one, willing to take risks like taking hostages without much thought. The captain, on the other hand, seemed more cautious, more subdued. She was clearly an educated woman, which was unusual for a pirate but the books under the bed would suggest she could at least read and in multiple languages no less. Plus there was the fact that not just anyone could captain a ship, that required something special.

Glancing around the room Chloe's eyes fell to the impressive sword display hanging on the wall. Another piece to the puzzle to the ever expanding puzzle that was the captain. Chloe had never seen the captain with any sort of weapon so why was there at least twenty different blades on display. She walked across the room and picked one of the swords from its place.

"Careful Chloe, you'll poke an eye out." Aubrey said as she moved to stand next to her friend. Chloe scoffed and rolled her eyes, she may not be used to handling weapons but she wasn't that inept.

Looking down at the blade in her hand she noticed that it was a bit different than the swords she had seen before. Where most people in today's world used long, thin rapiers, this sword was thick and heavy. It was also strangely made, the tip looked dull and almost blunt. As she looked down the blade she noticed some strange letters near the hilt. Chloe lifted the hilt up to eye level but it was clear that the characters were not in English.

She grumbled and held the sword out to Aubrey, "Can you read this?"

Aubrey took the blade and examined the hilt, "No. But it looks like some kind of ancient language, maybe some sort of nordic script." She swung the sword from side to side. "It's surprisingly well made, almost perfectly balanced."

Chloe hummed thoughtfully. "When did you learn swordplay?"

"When you and your family left, life got boring pretty fast." Aubrey swung the blade around a few more times before handing it back to Chloe. "So I begged my father to let me train with my brothers just to have something to do. It took a while but he finally caved and hired a fencing instructor for me. Pretty soon I was catching up to the boys and was beating them regularly in practice. Then my mother found out and put a stop to it." She put her hands on her hips and adopted a stern tone. "Ladies do not partake in such barbaric activities."

Chloe giggled and placed the sword back on the wall, "Sounds like my mother. She'd always get so upset whenever I ran off to explore the island."

Aubrey laughed, "Well to be fair I was being watched by an instructor while you were gallivanting around unsupervised on a tropical island. If my daughter did what you were doing I don't think my heart could take it."

Chloe's shoulders slumped at her friend's words. Maybe her mother really had been worried about her and not just concerned about the family's reputation. But then again her mother seemed to care more about the contents of her wine bottle than about Chloe when she was in the house.

Aubrey reached out and plucked another sword, a rapier, off the wall, startling Chloe out of her thoughts. "This one is more like I'm used to." She turned and thrust the sword into the empty room. "You know if my mother hadn't interrupted my training I would have beaten that Conrad woman."

"Of course," Chloe said. Although she doubted if that was true. No matter how much training Aubrey may have had, that pirate had real life experience. Conrad had probably been fighting for her life for years, something that Aubrey had no experience with. But she wasn't about to say any of that in front of Aubrey.

The girls were startled by the door lock rattling as a key was inserted and Aubrey quickly put the sword back where she found it. The door swung open to reveal Fat Amy standing in the doorway carrying another tray of food. The pirate glanced between the girls and the swords on the wall, raising a questioning eyebrow.

Chloe took the hint and grabbed Aubrey by the arm, dragging her away from the dangerous weapons. Amy watched them for a second longer before walking into the room. She placed the tray on the desk before turning to the captives.

"Right, eat your fill. Gonna be honest, thought you bitches wouldn't be able to eat that much yesterday." Amy turned to leave but stopped and snapped her fingers. "There's a jar of fruit on the tray, you're to eat all of those. Doctor's orders." And with that Amy was gone, out the door and locking it behind her.

Chloe looked at the food and saw that it was roughly the same as yesterday. Stiff biscuits and cold meat. The only difference was the small jar that presumably held the fruit that Amy was talking about. Chloe sat down and dug into her food while Aubrey eyed the jar suspiciously.

"What do you think is in there?" Aubrey sat down next to Chloe and started eating, never taking her eyes off the jar.

Chloe shrugged, "I don't know, open it and find out."

"What if it's some sort of poison?"

"Why would they poison us?" Chloe asked. "If they kill us now then they lose their bargaining tools."

"It could be some kind of drug to make us more complacent." Aubrey suggested.

Chloe thought about that but shook her head. "Do you really think that pirates have the know-how to make something like that?"

"They don't have to make it, they just have to find someone to steal it from." Aubrey said. "They're thieves, remember."

Chloe groaned, sometimes Aubrey's overly suspicious mind wore on Chloe's nerves. Her friend had always been like this and clearly the four years apart had changed nothing. So despite Aubrey's protests Chloe reached across the desk and grabbed the clay jar from the trey. It was surprisingly heavy for such a small jar and she could feel the contents shifting around inside.

Grabbing the cork at the spout of the bottle, Chloe tore it free and was hit by a surprisingly sweet smell. She looked inside the jar and saw a thick yellow substance sloshing around with chunks of something in the middle. She held the jar up to her nose for a deep breath and smiled when she recognized the scent.

"It's honey," she proclaimed and proceeded to pour some on her biscuit.

"Chloe!" Aubrey snatched the jar from Chloe's hand, setting it down out of the redhead's reach. "We don't know what's in there."

"Aubrey, don't you think if they were going to put something in our food they would have done it yesterday?" Chloe could have laughed at the stunned look on Aubrey's face.

"Then what's that?" Aubrey pointed at something on Chloe's plate. Chloe turned and took a closer look at what Aubrey was gesturing to. There was a decent sized chunk of something in the honey but she couldn't really tell what it was.

Figuring that there was only one way to find out, Chloe picked up the chunk and popped it in her mouth. The sweetness of the honey hit her tongue first but as she chewed the food a familiar tanginess made itself known. "Oh, it's fine, they're just oranges."

Chloe went back to her food while Aubrey continued to look suspicious. "What are oranges?"

"They're a type of fruit," Chloe plucked another slice from her plate. "I think they're originally from Africa but they grow all over the place in the Caribbean." She held the slice out to Aubrey who still looked a little hesitant. "It's fine Bree. Besides, oranges are really tasty and even better with honey."

Aubrey gingerly took the orange slice from Chloe, then she very daintily placed it in her mouth. She would later deny it but Aubrey let loose a moan at the sweet and tangy combination spreading across her tongue.

Chloe laughed as her friend tried to keep a straight face. For a second she could almost forget about the fact that they were prisoners aboard a pirate ship. They sat and ate their food in silence after that, each wondering what was in store for them today. Before too long they heard the lock in the door shift and in walked the Spanish woman.

"Hola," She stepped to the side and gestured with her arm to the outside. "If you're done eating then you need to come with me."

The girls glanced at each other nervously, neither stood and the woman grew impatient. "Come on, mas rapida, we don't have all day."

Chloe stood up first with a reluctant Aubrey right behind her. They were about to leave when the woman placed a hand on Aubrey's shoulder. Confused, the girls stopped but then the woman gestured to Aubrey's dress in a distasteful manner. "Créeme chica, for what I got planned for you you'll want to wear something better."

She stuck her head out the door and shouted, "Capitán, ¿está bien que la rubia use su ropa?"

It was difficult to make out but they could faintly hear a 'Yes' shouted above the noise of the crew. The pirate turned back around and pushed her way back into the cabin, "Vamos, we'd hate to get your pretty dress all dirty." Aubrey and Chloe exchanged another concerned look, whatever this woman had in store for them seemed less appealing by the second.

When the pirate handed Aubrey a set of clothes and Chloe could tell that her friend was about to put up a fight. So Chloe pulled her friend to the side, "Bree just wear their clothes, I promise you'll be more comfortable."

"This isn't about comfort Chloe," Aubrey gestured to her dress. "I am a lady, there are expectations. Besides, my father always says that comfort is for the French."

Chloe groaned, Admiral Posen had the weirdest sayings she had ever heard. "Aubrey, these pirates don't care about our station." She turned to the pirate and tried for a friendly smile. "Could you tell us what we're going to do? Maybe that will convince her."

The pirate smiled back, it was not nearly as friendly as Chloe's.


"You just had to ask didn't you?" Aubrey plunged her bucket into the murky water of the bilge.

Chloe only grunted in response, scooping her own bucket full of putrid water. When they had been told they would be flushing the ship of water in the bottom of the hull Aubrey had quickly ditched her dress and donned the pirate garb. She may be stubborn but she was also practical. And usually Chloe would have reveled in being right…except cleaning a bilge left little room for joy. The ceiling was low so the girls had to keep their backs bowed nearly in half and the water was cold and the smell was terrible. All in all, Chloe missed scrubbing the deck.

Their job was simple, there was a pump in the corner that the girls needed to shovel buckets of water away from in order for the pirate to clean it. Then, after it was clean, they would need to work the pump to flush the water out of the ship. It was grueling, back breaking work and even Chloe's eternal optimism was starting to wane.

"Come on ladies," The pirate, who had introduced herself as Flo, ordered. "Just think of it like sewing or needle point."

Aubrey stopped what she was doing and stood up, although not all the way since the ceiling was low in this part of the ship. "How exactly is this like needle work?"

Flo stood from her squatting position next to the pump and gestured to the water, "there's your cloth," then she pointed to the bucket, "there's your needle."

"Usually there's a finished product with needle point," Chloe chimed in as she continued scooping buckets of water.

"And there will be a finished product here," Flo gestured to the room around them, "Just so long as you keep scooping." She eyed Aubrey until the blonde went back to work.

They worked in silence for a few more minutes before Chloe couldn't stand it any more. She was a social butterfly and curious by nature, and this pirate crew had raised all sorts of questions. "Ms. Flo?"

The pirate looked over her shoulder for a second before returning to her work, "Qué pasa?

"Uhm, I don't-"

"It means 'what's wrong.' You English types really need to get out more." Flo fiddled with the pump some more and Chloe could hear Aubrey scoff.

Undeterred, Chloe continued, "I was just wondering about this crew."

"What about it?"

"Well," Chloe stopped, she wasn't really sure how to phrase her question. "It's just that there are a lot of women on board and I was under the impression that it was unusual for a woman to serve aboard a ship."

Flo laughed as she adjusted something on the pump. "Well, you're right about that."

"So how did that happen?" Chloe asked.

The pirate stopped working and seemed to consider the question. "If you're asking how our merry band of misfits came together you'll have to ask someone else." She grunted as she pried a wad of seaweed from the pump. "I'm relatively new to the crew. Only signed on about a year ago."

Another clump of seaweed went flying over her shoulder and splashed right next to Chloe. The redhead grimaced at the blackened clump before asking her next question, "Then how did you join?"

Flo looked over her shoulder again and raised an eyebrow. "Curious one aren't you?" Chloe shrugged, she was just making conversation. Flo seemed to consider the question for a second before shrugging herself. "Guess there's no problem with telling you."

She went back to work while launching into her story. "Mi padre was a blacksmith in Madrid, he was a good man and an even better father. He never made much money but he somehow managed to put food on the table. While my father worked my mother and I would spend our days picking flowers and selling them in the marketplace."

"That sounds nice." Chloe said.

"It was," Flo stopped what she was doing and looked to the ceiling with a wistful expression. "When I turned thirteen my father started teaching me his trade and as it happens, I'm quite good with my hands." She reached down and pulled out another clump of seaweed. Chloe was starting to wonder how that much seaweed had made it this far down in the ship.

"As time went on papa's eyes started to give out on him and we had to close shop. We went to Valencia and moved in with mi abuela." Flo grunted as she tried to pull something else from the pump. "To help make ends meet I started hiring myself out to various ships that were in port. It didn't pay much but it allowed me to get familiar with all the little bits and pieces of a working ship." She cursed under her breath, "almost had it."

"Anyways, after a few years I knew everything there was to know about sailing and how ships worked. One day I was working at the docks trying to fix some rigging when this woman walked up and started talking to me. Said she was looking for a carpenter for her ship and that she had heard I was the best in-Aha!" Flo retched her hand from below the waterline, holding up a large, black, slimy thing in her hand. "Te tengo bastardo."

Chloe covered her mouth to keep herself from retching. "What is that thing?"

"Ship-worm, nasty little parásito," Flo walked over to the hatch that led to the deck above. "Try it now boys!"

They could hear a creaking noise coming from above them as a team started working the pump. Chloe and Aubrey watched as the water they had been scooping started flowing towards the now clear pump, ridding the bilge of the filthy water.

Flo turned to them and smiled, "Good work ladies." She held up the slimy creature in victory.

Chloe and Aubrey both cringed at the disgusting creature, "Could you please just…get rid of that thing please."

"Sí, this guy is going back to the sea." Flo made her way to the exit hatch with Aubrey and Chloe right behind her.

The ship was deceptively large. From the outside it looked small and fast, just like most pirate ships. But as they made their way up to the main deck Chloe couldn't help noticing the large rooms dotting the interior. The lower deck appeared to host the crew quarters, if the swinging hammocks and wall bunks were anything to go by. She noticed a walled off section near the stern of the ship and figured that was where the women on board slept. There were boxes scattered around the deck, containing either supplies or stolen loot.

The next deck had several cannons lining the hull with several crew members attending the weapons and ammunition. A few called greetings to Flo and she held up the ship-worm, the crew cheered when they saw her, still wiggling, prize.

"These people are disturbing," Aubrey whispered and Chloe had to agree.

Flo turned to the girls and gestured for them to follow. They made it back to the main deck and Chloe breathed a sigh of relief. After being stuck in the bilge for hours, having the fresh sea air in her lungs felt glorious.

She was shaken out of her revelry when Flo turned and started talking again, "Anyways that woman I was talking about turned out to be the capitana. She hired me and now I'm the ship's carpenter and quartermaster." She flung the ship-worm over her shoulder and wiped her hands on her pants. They could hear the splash from the creature hitting the water and Chloe was grateful that she didn't have to look at it anymore.

"So that's how you joined the crew?" Chloe asked.

"Sí, I still send money to my family every once in a while but this crew has become a second family for me," Flo had a wistful smile on her face as she spoke. "And this ship has become my home."

Chloe could feel the sincerity coming from the woman and it made her smile. She couldn't help but think that maybe there was more to this pirate crew than she originally thought. They didn't seem like the fearsome pirates she had heard about, the ones who showed no quarter to their victims. These people seemed almost civil.

Flo led them back to the quarter deck, chatting with the crew as she went, and as they reached the stairs they could hear a couple voices arguing back and forth.

"I don't care what you think you saw Stacie. I am not discussing this with you." The captain's voice sounded strained and tired, like this conversation had been going on for a while.

"Come on Captain, as the ship's doctor I'm telling you it is perfectly healthy." Conrad's voice, which Chloe assumed was the other person speaking, was teasing and persistent.

"And as the ship's captain I am telling you to drop it. Or I'll throw you overboard."

"Please, like you could survive without me."

"Don't test me Conrad." The small group made it up the stairs to see the captain and doctor bickering. The captain had her back turned towards them with one hand on the wheel.

"I don't you could even lift- oh hello." Conrad finally noticed the girls coming up the stairs and smiled in greeting.

Flo glanced between the two, "Cuál es el problema?"

"Nothing." The captain turned and was quick to answer, clearly trying to keep Conrad from speaking. However, Chloe could have sworn that the Captain's gaze had shifted towards her for a brief moment, leading her to wonder what they had actually been talking about.

"She's just being annoying." The captain's eyes widened as she glared at the doctor. Conrad simply shrugged before turning and giving Aubrey a not so subtle once over. The blonde shrunk back and managed to maneuver herself so that Flo was between the two.

"She was just trying to deny-"

"That's enough." The captain's tone turned from annoyed to serious on a dime. Conrad and Flo both seemed to stiffen at the shift and the captain sighed when she saw the reactions. Her voice softened and she rubbed her eyes, "I've been up too long. Flo, did you fix the bilge pump?"

"Sí, capitana. Had to pull a ship-worm out of the pipe but she's running clear now." Flo said.

"Good, now if you could do an inventory on our ammunition that would be great. Need to know if we have to resupply at Nassau." Flo gave a small salute and left the quarter deck to do her job. The captain turned back to the taller brunette behind her. "Don't you have somewhere to be? I saw Jenson's wound. You should really be taking care of that."

Conrad's eyes narrowed suspiciously, she looked between the captain, Aubrey and Chloe and her face shifted to a smirk. "Aye, aye captain." She walked past her crewmate and stood right in front of Aubrey. "Come with me princess, I could use another set of hands."

Before Aubrey could say anything Conrad grabbed her wrist and dragged Aubrey down the stairs. Chloe caught Aubrey's eye before she disappeared, an unspoken question about whether Chloe would be okay. The redhead just nodded and let Aubrey disappear below the banister.

Chloe stood there and tried not to panic. With Aubrey gone she was now alone with the pirate captain. She hadn't realized just how much of a calming effect Aubrey's presence had been until it was gone. With Aubrey there Chloe could step back and let the blonde's domineering personality form a sort of buffer between them and the pirates. Now that it was just her, Chloe figured it would be safer to just stay out of the way and attract as little attention to herself as possible.

Even if she managed to have a pleasant conversation with Flo, the captain seemed like an entirely different beast and not one to engage in idle chit chat. And yet Chloe couldn't help but study the mysterious woman in front of her. The sun was shining off of the captain's hair, making it look lighter than usual. The hair fell to the captain's shoulders which made Chloe realize just how small the woman really was. Small shoulders and even smaller arms but she moved so easily with the ship that Chloe could sense an underlying strength hidden beneath that small frame.

The captain looked over her shoulder and managed to make eye contact. Chloe quickly turned away, hoping that her blush at being caught wasn't noticeable. Once the captain turned back around Chloe tried to distract herself so as to not be caught red handed again. So instead of focussing on the captain she focused on the ship.

It wasn't that much different from riding a horse, she decided. There was the same easy sway that came from riding in the fields, only this sway was a little rougher and more unpredictable. Even after two days at sea Chloe still hadn't quite gotten used to the constant rocking. But the fresh air was definitely an improvement to the stuffy atmosphere of her house back in Kingston. She closed her eyes while tilting her head up just a little and enjoyed the heat of the sun on her face. In another time she would have enjoyed this feeling of freedom, only she wasn't free. She was being held for ransom by a lawless group of ruffians.

"I know that face," Chloe snapped out of her revelry to see that this time the captain was staring at her. "That's the face of someone experiencing the sea for the first time."

Chloe, desperate to not insult the captain, said the first thing that came to mind. "I've sailed before." Which was true, she had obviously sailed the Atlantic to make it to Kingston but that trip had been rather dull. She had been trapped inside her cabin for most of the journey since, after all, her family was of a higher status. It would have been strange for the Beales to ride with the commoners.

The captain had a ghost of a smile on her lips, "That doesn't mean you've experienced the sea." Her face shifted like she was considering something before holding a hand out towards Chloe.

The redhead stared at the hand. She might not be as suspicious as Aubrey but that didn't mean she trusted this pirate for no reason. The Captain clearly understood her hesitation and gave a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, I just want to show you something."

Chloe looked between the hand and the captain's eyes. The deep blue of her eyes held no malice or trickery so Chloe took a tentative step closer. The captain moved to the side and gestured for Chloe to take the helm. Chloe was shocked, but she continued taking steps until she was standing right in front of the massive wheel. She reached out a shaking hand and slowly wrapped her fingers around one of the pegs.

She couldn't really describe the sensation she felt as soon as she took the helm. The rise and fall of the ship felt more pronounced than it did anywhere else on board. She could see everything clearly, the crew working below her all the way to the top of the mast, which if she looked closely she could see someone moving about in the crow's nest. The helm vibrated with every twitch of the sails and the only way Chloe could describe it was that the ship felt alive.

"Wow," she breathed out in a whisper. She could hear a chuckle come from behind her.

"We'll make a sailor out of you yet Ms. Beale." Chloe took a step back and turned to see the captain only to bump right into the other woman.

"Um, thanks." Chloe breathed, it wasn't the first time they had been this close but before they had always been in the dark. In full daylight Chloe could make out every little detail of the captain's face. Like the three small scares above her left eye or the barley noticeable freckles that dotted her nose.

The captain managed an awkward cough before taking a step back, looking anywhere but Chloe. "I'm sorry."

"It's fine." Chloe said. She didn't understand why the captain was apologizing. After all Chloe was the one who had nearly knocked her over.

The captain shook her head. "No Ms. Beale, I'm sorry that you're on board. We really weren't supposed to take any hostages. It was supposed to be a simple rescue to get Cynthia and Amy out of prison with as little hassle as possible but," She let out an aggravated sigh. "Stacie likes to go off book."

"I'm guessing Stacie the doctor's name?" Chloe asked.

"Yeah that's her." Chloe nodded her understanding. At least now she knew Conrad's first name.

"Don't suppose I could get your name?" Chloe thought It was an innocent enough question but the captain took a step back and her body language shifted. The easy air between the two shifted to stiff and cold. Chloe didn't know why that question garnered such a reaction but before she could apologize there was a loud squawking noise that caused her to jump.

Lilly's parrot circled overhead before landing on the captain's shoulder. "Ship ahoy, ship ahoy."

Chloe was about to ask what that meant when the Rose woman came bounding up the stairs. "Captain, ship off the starboard bow." She tossed the captain a spyglass who used it to look out across the water.

"Royal African Company." the captain lowered her spyglass and scowled, clearly upset by the appearance of the ship. "You would think that they would have learned their lesson by now."

Rose nodded, her face matching the captain's. "Your orders?"

The captain turned towards the crew to see they were waiting for her directions. She spared a quick glance to Chloe who was just confused about what was going on. The captain turned back to the crew and shouted in a clear voice.

"All hands to battle stations!"

Chapter Text

 

"All hands to battle stations!" The captain's voice roared out across the ship and the crew rushed to follow her orders. Chloe was pushed away from the helm as the captain reclaimed her position, more orders flying from her mouth as she spun the wheel. "Full sail! I want every scrap of wind you can muster!"

Several crew members scurried up the mast to yardarm. The sails came raining down and the ship lurched forward so quickly that Chloe was caught off guard. She stumbled back a few steps before grabbing the railing and steadying herself. The Royal African Company ship had been a mere speck on the horizon a few minutes ago but it was getting steadily bigger as they raced across the sea.

The sheer speed of the pirate ship astounded Chloe. The ships she was used to were fat and slow, meant for cargo and passengers. This ship put every other vessel she had ever seen to shame.

Chloe kept a firm grip on the railing as she moved back towards the helm, hoping to get a better view of what was going on. The captain and Cynthia continued to bark orders across the deck as the other ship drew closer.

"Stow the cannons!" Cynthia yelled. "If I even see a hint of a spark it will be your head!" There was a distant acknowledgement followed by more orders from the port and starboard Gunners.

The reality of what was happening started to sink in for Chloe. These pirates had been relatively cordial towards her and Aubrey but they were still pirates. The swift actions and practiced coordination amongst the crew made it very clear that these people were well versed in capturing vessels.

Stacie and Flo both came running up the stairs with Aubrey right behind them. Chloe made eye contact with her friend who was giving her a questioning look. Chloe tried to subtly point towards the quickly growing ship without drawing attention to herself, hoping that would explain the situation. Aubrey looked to where she was pointing and as she recognized the flag her shoulders squared.

"You will not attack a British ship while I am on board." Aubrey's voice was furious but if the pirates cared they didn't show it since they all ignored her. Not to be dismissed, Aubrey marched over to the helm and grabbed the captain by the shoulder and spun her around.

Immediately the ship started to drift to starboard as the helm spun wildly. Rose rushed forward and grabbed the wheel while Stacie and Flo both drew pistols and leveled them at Aubrey's head.

For what felt like an eternity nobody moved. Chloe couldn't see Aubrey's face but the blonde had gone completely still. The captain was calm, or at least appeared to be, as she reached up and pulled Aubrey's hand off her shoulder.

"Miss Posen, allow me to remind you that this is my ship." She dropped Aubrey's hand and took a step closer, almost nose to nose. "This is not your ship. It's not your father's ship. It's not even a ship under your daddy's control. We sail free and under our own banner."

"Then why are you not flying it?" Aubrey pushed back. She didn't like being told off, especially by someone whom she considered to be beneath her. "It's poor form not to fly your banner."

Rose interjected before the captain could respond. "We're getting close, capn'. Ten minutes."

The captain continued to stare at Aubrey until she took a step back and turned to Rose. "Take us in. I need to get my stuff from my cabin." She turned back to Aubrey and smirked. "Fly the colors boys!" Her raised voice caused Aubrey to flinch and the crew cheered from the main deck. In a matter of seconds there was a black flag being hoisted up the main mast, once it reached the top the flag unfurled to reveal the same design that Chloe had seen in the cabin.

The singing woman shone in the evening sun and the crowd cheered again. Chloe couldn't help but think that the flag was really a work of art, if only it didn't represent her captors she could truly enjoy it.

"There," the captain smirked at Aubrey. "Is that better?"

Chloe still couldn't see her friend's face but she knew that getting sarcastic with Aubrey never ended well. As if to prove Chloe right Aubrey lunged for the captain but only made it half a step before Stacie and Flo grabbed her by the arms.

"You already have your prize!" Aubrey tried to wrench her arms free but the pirates had a firm hold. "You don't need to capture that ship. The money you'll get from Chloe and I is worth far more than whatever loot you'll find on board."

The captain tilted her head as if considering what Aubrey had said. "You're right."

That surprised Aubrey, not that she was right but that the captain agreed with her. Her shock caused her to stop struggling and stand a little straighter, "So are you still attacking the ship?"

"Yes."

Aubrey went for the captain again but once more she was stopped. Chloe stepped forward and placed her hand on her friend's shoulder hoping to calm her down. It worked a little bit, Aubrey stopped struggling and the pirates were able to loosen their grips. Chloe turned to the captain to try and reason with her.

"Please, there's no reason for you to attack." Chloe said in her best peacekeeping voice. "There are innocent people aboard that ship who are just trying to do their jobs."

Flo scoffed while Stacie rolled her eyes. The captain seemed to study Chloe's face, like she was trying to tell if Chloe was being serious. "You really believe that don't you?"

The question threw Chloe off. Of course she believed it, it was a simple trading ship from Africa probably carrying produce or maybe ivory, or at least that's what her father always talked about. But the way the pirates were reacting made Chloe second guess herself. It was just a trade ship right?

The captain took a step back and gestured to Aubrey and Chloe. "Tie them to the banister." Flo let go of Aubrey to grab Chloe by the arm. The girls tried to resist but there wasn't really a choice. Once they were tied to the banister the captain walked over and knelt in front of them. "You're right, the gold we'd get from the two of you probably is worth more than what we'd get from that ship. But there's something more important than money at stake here."

She stood up and walked towards the steps, but before she descended the captain turned her head to call over her shoulder. "It's about time you two learned the way of the world." With that she disappeared down the stairs. The two captives tried to puzzle out what the captain meant but before they could Rose was calling out orders to the crew.

"Grapples and lines at the ready! We're going in cold!" The crew yelled back their understanding. Chloe looked up to see that the ship was much, much closer than it had been a few minutes ago. Now she could make out individual people scurrying about the ship as they prepared for the attack.

The crew started to chant as they grew closer to the Company ship, a steady rhythm that grew louder the closer the other ship got. The sound was enough to set Chloe's nerves on edge so she could only imagine how it felt for the other crew as their impending doom came rushing towards them.

Just minutes before the two ships met the captain reappeared from below deck. Gone were the simple clothes she had been wearing, now she wore a long black coat made of thin leather that clung to her body. Across her waist was a wide, red belt that held two short blades as well as several throwing daggers arranged across the belt. And to top it all off she was wearing black tricorn hat with a red feather sticking out on the right side.

Stacie let out a low whistle as the woman walked towards them, "Damn captain, it's been a while since I've seen you all dolled up." There was a teasing lilt in her voice that made the captain groan.

"Shut it Conrad. You know I hate wearing this thing." The captain grumbled. And from what Chloe had seen of the captain, the outfit was a bit out there.

"Sí, but without it no one would know that you are the capitana." Flo mused, struggling to hide her own smile.

"We're almost on them captain," Rose said from her spot at the helm. "It looks like they're preparing to fire cannons."

The captain walked over to the helm and placed her hands on the banister. She looked out across the waves to see that her helmsman was right, the crew of the other ship were shoving their cannons into place and if she looked closely she could see ramrods being shoved into the cannons.

Suddenly the captain stood up straight and yelled at the top of her lungs, "Incoming!"

The air was filled with the roar of cannon fire and Chloe pressed herself as close to the banister as possible. The crew followed her example, ducking behind whatever cover they could find as cannon balls went whizzing through the air and splinters showered down around them.

"Rose! Hard to starboard! Take them up to stern!" She turned towards the crew. "Grapples at the ready!" As the ship took a hard turn to the right several members of the crew lined up along the port railing. The captain raised her left arm and the entire crew seemed to hold their breath as they waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The captain dropped her arm, "Heave boys!"

Dozens of hooks went sailing through the air, several missed their mark and fell harmlessly into the sea. But the rest hit their target, digging into the other ships' planks and holding fast. The pirate crew roared as the British ship was dragged closer, inch by inch while the crew of the other ship tried to saw through the ropes with their swords. It wouldn't be enough though as by the time the ropes started to fray the two ships crashed together.

There was a terrible scraping noise as the ships ground together, wood scraping across wood that set the teeth on edge. The air filled with the sound of musket fire as the other crew tried to fend off the pirates and the pirates fired back.

Chloe watched as the two crews struggled, pirates were swinging from ropes to land on the other side of the enemy ship while the traders put up a valiant effort to fend them off. But it was clear that the British were outnumbered and outgunned. However, it looked like the pirates weren't making enough headway to actually take the ship. The captain started pacing back and forth behind the helm, clearly the attack was taking longer than she wanted it to.

"All right girls, let's settle this. Fuentes, Conrad you're with me. Rose, keep an eye on those two will you?"

"Aye captain." The helmsman nodded while the three other women all checked their gear. Flo and Stacie both checked their weapons, each looking over their pistols before holstering them next to their swords. That's when Chloe noticed that the captain wasn't wearing any sort of firearm, only the blades that hung from her belt. That was a bit strange, going into a hostile situation without a gun seemed to be a little reckless. But what did she know, Chloe wasn't a pirate and had never boarded another ship before.

Flo bounced twice on her toes before turning and taking a running leap, vaulting off the banister and grabbing the other ship's railing that was as few feet above the one Chloe and Aubrey were tied to. She scrambled over the edge and disappeared from view in a matter of seconds, followed by sounds of a fight with gunfire and the clanging of swords. Stacie followed right behind her friend, only she had an easier time making it across the ship thanks to her extra height. Once she was up she leaned over the railing and held out her hand. The captain gave her captives one more glance before getting a running start and leaping off the railing. In what was clearly a well practiced move she grabbed onto Stacie's outstretched hand that pulled her over the rest of the way.

The angle was too great for Chloe to see anything and when she tried to lean forward to get a better view Rose gave her a stern look. What her eyes couldn't see her ears made up for, after Stacie and the Captain went over the edge there was an increase in the clashing of steel on steel.

Suddenly there was a scream and a man came flying over the railing to land on the deck just inches away from the two captives. He was a bit older, with graying hair and beard in his otherwise blond hair and he was wearing a long, faded red coat. He must have been the captain of the other ship since only captains really wore coats when on board. The man groaned and attempted to roll over but before he could Rose strode over and pulled her own sword from its scabbard, placing the point of her broad bladed cutlass against his neck.

"I recommend not moving," Her voice was cold and had an undercurrent of anger running through it. Whoever this man was, Rose clearly didn't like him. Which made no sense since she should have no idea who the man was. "Unless you want a red smile."

The man went stiff, it looked like he wasn't even breathing as his eyes flicked between the blade and its wielder. Rose bent down and grabbed the man's left hand and flipped him over onto his stomach. She kneeled down and placed her knee in his back, effectively pinning him to the deck. Moving quickly, Rose sheathed her sword and snapped her fingers in the air. Seemingly out of nowhere a rope fell from the sky and landed in her hand. Moving with practiced ease, she wrapped the rope around his wrists, grabbed him by his shoulders and dragged him to the opposite side of the railing from Chloe and Aubrey.

He looked terrified, his eyes the size of saucers but then something came over him and his back straightened. His eyes narrowed as he scowled at Rose, he made a retching noise and spat at her. The saliva missed but that didn't deter Rose when she drew her sword again and rammed the pommel against his temple. He slumped over against the railing while Rose cursed in a language that Chloe didn't recognize.

Something else was clearly going on, she just couldn't figure out what. Why would these pirates risk taking another ship when they already had Chloe and Aubrey's ransom in hand. The way the captain and crew were acting made it seem like they didn't have a choice but to attack. The various Spanish ships that sailed the Caribbean would make for much easier targets. After all nothing compared to British engineering, but they also carried large shipments of high quality sugar and tobacco that would be worth a fortune. There were too many questions and Chloe hated it when things didn't make sense, but she figured those questions would be answered soon since the fight seemed to be petering out.

The pirate crew cheered and the girls could hear the clatter of weapons falling to the deck. The situation was punctuated when the other ship's flag came fluttering down in between the ships. Looking up the mast they could see a figure clinging to the top with a red parrot circling overhead. The pirates could be heard moving about on the other ship, probably tying up the remaining crew to make sure no one played the hero. It was close to a half hour later before the captain came back to the quarter deck, only now she was sporting a cut along her left cheek and seemed to be limping.

"You alright captain?" Rose asked with genuine concern.

"Yeah, I'll be fine." The captain wiped away some of the blood running down her cheek. "One of them actually knew a little of swordplay. Got in a few swipes."

"And?"

"And now he's sleeping on the ocean floor." She gestured towards the trader captain who was still slumped over with his head against his chest. "How hard did you hit him?"

Rose tilted her head to the side like she had to consider the question. "Not hard enough"

That earned a small chuckle from the captain. She looked over at the man with a curious eye before shrugging, "I'll get to him later. In the meantime I need you to head on over, sounds like some of them speak Bantu."

Rose saluted the captain and left the helm to walk across the gangplank connecting the ships. The captain turned to her captives as any trace of mirth disappeared from her face. Drawing a knife from her belt the captain walked over to the girls as they both huddled a little closer together. But all the captain did was cut the rope holding them to the banister. She grabbed Chloe by the shoulder and dragged her to her feet, pulling Aubrey along with her. "Come see the innocent merchants you were so eager to protect."

The captain kept a firm grip on Chloe's arm as she led the girls across the deck and over the gangplank. Just as Chloe thought the pirates had tied up all the merchants and had them lined up against the port railing with guards keeping a watchful eye on them. There were several injuries, various cuts and bruises but that wasn't the worst of the situation. There were several bodies being thrown overboard and the splashes reverberated through Chloe's head. The pirates moved in such a nonchalant manner that Chloe finally realized that these people were not to be messed with.

They may have seemed welcoming at first, Flo and Stacie had even been rather friendly. But these people were murderers, plain and simple.

The captain pulled a little more urgently on Chloe's arm, dragging her attention away from the scene around her. "You could at least give the survivors medical aid."

"They'll be fine. Stacie's got more pressing matters to attend to." The captain led them over to the hole in the deck that led to the lower levels of the ship. Once they made it to the companionway the captain had them climb down the stairs and Chloe had to keep herself from retching. The stench hit her like a punch to the gut, overpowering and nauseating, like hundreds of over ripe fruit. The smell caused her and Aubrey to take a step back, bumping into the captain who grunted as they collided.

Aubrey made a gagging noise and covered her mouth with her hand. "What is that awful smell?"

"Miss Posen, that is the smell of profit." The captain forced them forward into the hull of the ship where they found a horror show.

Bodies.

Dozens of bodies stacked on top of each other and packed as close as they could fit. Chloe could only stare in shock at what she was seeing as dozens of faces stared back. When she spoke her voice was barely a whisper "What is this?"

"Slaves, Miss Beale." The captain said, "Slaves on their way to Kingston to be sold to the highest bidder, and this only the start of their misery." She pushed past the stunned girls to help Rose who was speaking to the trapped people in a strange language.

Chloe couldn't pry her eyes away. She wasn't naive, she new that there were slaves in the Caribbean, there were even a few working in the kitchens of her home. But this? Was this really how Britain was bringing its slaves to the New World?

"Captain?" Stacie came up behind the girls with Flo right behind her. "We found their supplies. They've got about a week's worth of food and twice that of water."

The captain nodded and gestured to the room, "Good, start distributing it to everyone. We're only about a day away from Nassau so that ought to be enough."

"Aye captain," Stacie left to follow her orders.

"And make sure Amy gets them a hot meal!" The captain called after the doctor. "Flo, can you get some of the boys to start working on these shackles?"

"Sí, capitana. I'll get Gibbs and Johnny on it right away." Flo said as she followed Stacie back to the main deck, calling out her own orders as she went.

"Where did they come from?" Aubrey asked quietly. She seemed just as shocked as Chloe was, her eyes wide and roaming across the stacks of people.

Rose answered for the captain, "From all over, slave traders aren't exactly picky about were they get their merchandise." She ended with a pointed glare at the girls and while Chloe shrunk Aubrey, rather predictably, pushed back.

"We have nothing to do with this." Her voice was more defensive and higher pitched than usual, the way it usually got when she was trying to understand something without having all the information.

"Really?" Rose took a step towards Aubrey and the blonde took a step back, only to take it back when she berated herself for backing down. "How do you think your fancy mansions are made? Or where your fortunes come from."

"My father is an admiral," Aubrey spat. "He has earned his pay through years of dedicated service."

"Service to a crown that sanctions this sort of behavior." The captain made a vague hand wave around the room. "Tell me Miss Posen, when was the last time you actually came down your tower of money?"

Aubrey's jaw worked like she wanted to say something before settling on a stern glare, "So what? I'm supposed to be like you, pillaging and raiding, killing innocent people who are just trying to live their lives?"

"And these people," Rose held up her hands. "They're lives are worth how much to you?"

Aubrey took another look around the room, seeing the dozens of scared faces looking back at her. Something in her gut told her that she was in the wrong but if her father taught her anything it was to never give ground. So instead of dignifying Rose's question with a response she stood at attention and stared the helmsman in the eye.

Where Aubrey was brash and boisterous, Chloe was calm and collected. She strode forward and placed herself between her friend and the pirates. After all, there was little to gain from provoking their captors. Especially since it seemed that any bridges they had were going up in flames. "Why don't we all calm down. It's not like Aubrey's or my family has anything to do with this."

Rose glanced at Chloe and scoffed, "If you believe that then-"

"Calm down Cynthia." The captain placed a hand on her friend's shoulder. The pair seemed to have a silent conversation before Rose shrugged off the captain's hand and went back to talking to the trapped slaves. Letting out a long sigh, the captain took Chloe and Aubrey by the arms again and dragged them toward the main deck.

"There's more to this world than what your families have shown you. You've spent all your time living at the top, reaping the rewards of the hard work done by the people below you on the ladder." They passed Flo and the men she had gathered on their way up, earning a questioning glance from the quartermaster but she just shrugged and went back to her job. "These people, the ones you're so eager to condemn, this is just us trying to climb that ladder."

Once they were back on the main deck the captain had the girls follow her up the stairs to the helm. There were already a few people there, Fat Amy was standing next to Stacie who was directing the pirates in moving supplies from below up onto the main deck. There were two other girls, a blonde and a brunette, who seemed to be separating the supplies into two groups. One that was foodstuff and one that appeared to be mostly ammunition and black powder.

"Hey capn'," Amy said. "We've almost got everything settled." She turned to the other blonde on deck, "Ashley-"

"I'm Jessica."

"Whatever, just tell," Amy waved her hand wildly at the captain, "Her what we got."

Jessica rolled her eyes, "We've managed to find six barrels of powder, which should restock our supplies after the raid in Kingston. There's also a few round shots and some musketballs."

The captain nodded along as Jessica listed the supplies, clearly pleased with the haul. "And the other supplies?"

The other girl, presumably her name was Ashley, spoke up. "There's a couple of crates of salted pork and beef. The water barrels are nearly full so I'm guessing they made port in Bermuda."

"See to it that the food and water gets to the prisoners below deck." The captain looked across the ship as if she was considering her options. "We're close to Nassau so we might be able to drag the ship behind us."

The other crew members all cringed, dragging a ship meant that their speed would be greatly reduced, almost to a stand still unless the winds picked up. Unfortunately the sea had been pretty calm over the past couple days so the one day journey to Nassau could turn into weeks.

"Captain?" Rose made her way up the stairs with a large man following along behind her. "This is Amadi."

The man was huge, easily six feet tall with rippling muscles in his arms and chest. His skin was dark, almost black, and there was a rough, uncut beard on his otherwise bald head. Although, despite his large and imposing stature it looked like he was underweight.

"Thank you for freeing us." Amadi's voice was deep and it carried a thick accent, the same accent that could be heard in Rose's voice if one listened close enough. "We give up hope."

The captain held up a reassuring hand, "There's no need for thanks. We're just righting a wrong of the world."

Amadi looked like he was going to speak again but his words were jumbled and confusing, so instead he turned to Rose and started speaking in his native tongue. Rose listened as he spoke and translated for the rest of the crew.

"He says that there are a few captives that know how to handle themselves aboard a ship and that some of them, as a token of appreciation, have requested to join our crew." Rose looked between the captain and Amadi wondering how this would play out.

The captain looked to consider the option but her expression looked concerned. "Do they not want to return home?"

Rose translated the captain's question to which Amadi shook his head. He spoke to Rose who translated once again. "He says that they have no home to return to. That they were sold by their own people for weapons and tools without a second thought."

Everyone looked to the captain for her verdict but she simply shrugged. "They're welcome to join after we get to Nassau. But let's let them think about it before any hasty decisions are made."

After the captain's decision was translated for Amadi his face broke out in a huge grin. "Thank you."

The smile was infectious and the rest of the assembled crew had matching grins on their faces. Well, except for Chloe and Aubrey but they were still reeling from the overwhelming day they had. The two girls were trying not to draw attention to themselves as the pirate crew milled about, moving supplies from one group to another.

They had a lot to think about as their perception of the world started to crack. As daughters of the British Empire they were expected to uphold and defend their country. But reality had a habit of destroying preconceptions.

"Captain!" A voice carried over from the pirate ship that captured everyone's attention. "He's awake!" The captain walked over to the banister to see that the slaver captain was straining against his bonds. Not that he could escape, sailors rarely tied loose knots.

"Be there in a minute." the captain called out. She turned to the people gathered around. "Rose, I want you to take command of this ship. Take half the crew and maybe see if Amadi and his people can keep up with our's."

"Aye captain."

"Stacie, I want you to stay on board as well. See to it that the people below get what they need to recover." The doctor just saluted before heading for the stairs, calling out orders to the crewmates handling the supplies. "Everyone else, prepare for departure."

The crew hurried to follow her orders. Rose started calling out names of the people she wanted to stay on board while the people that Stacie had working the supplies moved double time to finish their tasks. The captain turned back to her captives, looking behind them and gesturing to Flo and Amy, "Let's go see what this captain has to say for himself."

Amy snickered while the captain made her way down the steps. She grabbed Chloe by the arm while Jessica did the same with Aubrey. "Do you want to bet on how quickly the cap makes him piss his pants?"

Ashley scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Don't you remember what happened the last time you made a bet?"

"Oye, that was not my fault." The group made their way across the gangplank and back onto the pirate ship. "That navy bloke tried to scam Cynthia out of her hard won money."

"And yet you were the ones that ended up in prison." Jessica's voice went monotone, like this wasn't the first time they had this conversation.

"Would you three stop yammering?" The captain called over her shoulder. They had made it to the steps of the quarterdeck and the woman was straightening the hat on her head. Her shoulders squared and her posture straightened. The group walked up the steps to see the slaver still straining against the ropes tying him down with several pirates standing around laughing at him.

"Let me go this instant, you, you ruffians." The pirates only laughed at their prisoner. Clearly they didn't feel threatened in the slightest.

"Don't you people have jobs to do?" the pirates startled and scattered, leaving just the girls alone with the slaver. The pirate captain kneeled down in front of the slaver, grabbing him by the hair and pulling his head up so she could look him in the eye. "You're not having a good day are you?"

The slaver made a gurgling noise that might have been an attempt at a growl. The captain just laughed as she pulled a dagger from her belt and held it against that man's throat. Instantly he stopped struggling and stayed absolutely still. "This is your situation. You're going to answer all my questions or I am going to gut you like a fish. Understand?" The man's eyes went wide but he didn't say anything.

"Understand?" The captain eased the pressure of her knife to give the man just enough room to nod his head. "Good, now what's your name?

"Captain William Harris."
"Where are you sailing from and what's your port of origin?"

Harris swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down as he tried to respond. "We set sail from London two months ago. Our heading was to the Slave Coast to pick up cargo and then on to Kingst-arrgh."

The captain increased the pressure of her blade until a drop of blood escaped and dribbled down the slaver's neck. The captain's voice turned cold and quiet, "Refer to the people you've kidnapped as cargo again and you won't have to worry about my questions anymore."

Harris managed another gurgling sound that the captain took as a sign that he understood. "Good, now how many of these trips have you made before?"

The prisoner glanced around the assembled pirates, his eyes seemed to linger on Chloe and Aubrey longer than the others. "This will be my fifth voyage for the company."

"Hmm," The captain glanced at the slave ship while she considered her next question. "Your ship's not that big. Can carry at the most one hundred slaves?" The man nodded. "So that's five hundred lives you've ruined." She pushed a little harder with her knife, causing the other captain to cringe in pain. "Seems like there's a debt there that needs to be paid."

"You wouldn't dare! The rules of combat state that you have to treat your captives with honor." That earned a laugh from pirates and a blood chilling smile from the captain.

She leaned forward until she could whisper in his ear. "In case you haven't noticed, we're pirates. Means we don't give a damn about your made up rules of engagement."

The man grunted, "You think I don't know who you are. I've sailed these seas for two decades, I recognize that sigil." He gestured with his head towards the Jolly Roger flying from the main mast.

The captain leaned back, the smile gone from her face. "Oh do you now?"

"You're Gail McKadden. The Bloody Bitch. The sea hag that has no right to sail the seas." He glared at the captain with as much fury as he could muster while the woman just laughed.

The captain turned to the crew and gestured to her body, "I don't think I look like a hag. Do I?"

"Don't worry captain, you're as twiggy as the rest of them." Amy joked.

The captain rolled her eyes. "Thank you Amy, it warms my heart to hear that." sarcasm dripping from her voice. She turned back to her captive, "Well you're right about one thing, my name is McKadden and if you claim to know so much about me then you should know how I earned the moniker 'Bloody Bitch'."

Harris' eyes went wide again, the fear shining brightly as he realized his mistake. "I've just one more question for you captain. Answer true and I might just let you live." She waited for his nod before continuing. "Who's your sponsor?"

He glanced around the ship once more, looking anywhere but McKadden's face. "I can't tell you that."

"Oh I think you can." The captain pulled another blade with her right hand from her belt, this one she placed high on the man's thigh. "Unless you don't want to be a man anymore."

Harris ground his teeth together as he desperately looked for help. Not that he would find any from the women that surrounded him. When he didn't say anything the captain slid the blade higher along his leg. When he jumped to avoid the cold steel his gaze fell on Chloe and Aubrey once more. There was a glint of recognition in his eyes but before he could address them McKadden let her knife reach its mark.

"Johnathan Beale! I work for Johnathan Beale!"

Chapter Text

"What?" Chloe couldn't believe her ears. "What did you say?"

Harris looked over at her, careful not to cut himself against the captain's blade. "Mr. Beale sanctioned my crew to bring slaves over from Africa. Said he wanted to host an auction for his friends."
"No." the redhead shook her head vigorously, her voice rising the angrier she got. "No, no, no. My father is a good man, he would never do anything like this!"

The slaver's face scrunched up in confusion, "What are you talking about lass? The Beale company sponsors most of the trade-"

Chloe lunged for him, startling Amy so much that she accidentally let go of the redhead's arm. As she rushed towards her target Chloe barely registered the captain ducking out of the way as she collided with the slaver. With her hands bound it was difficult for Chloe to slap the man but she gave it her best shot. Before Amy and Ashley managed to pry her away, the enemy captain had a bleeding nose and three long scratch marks across his cheek. Chloe felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her waist and yank her backwards, her legs kicking wildly in the air as she tried to escape. Unfortunately for Chloe, Amy was the one holding her and no matter what she did the pirate had at least eighty pounds on Chloe, meaning she wasn't getting out of the bear hug any time soon.

"Amy, why don't you take Miss Beale somewhere to calm down." McKadden gestured towards the stairs but her voice gave just a hint of sympathy. Not that Chloe heard it, she was still struggling against Amy's grip so she could take another shot at the slaver.

"Easy there Red," Amy huffed as she tried to contain the woman. "Captain's orders, time to go."

The blonde managed to drag Chloe down the stairs where they gained quite a few looks from the crew. But one glare from Amy had the men scattering back to their jobs without a word. Amy gave a stiff nod, satisfied that she was able to scare a crew of hardened criminals with one look. She placed Chloe back on her feet, making sure that she had a strong grip on the redhead's shoulder so Chloe wouldn't bolt.

"You calm enough to listen?" Amy asked. Chloe met the blonde's gaze and Amy could still see the fire burning in her eyes. But Chloe nodded her head, she managed to compose herself and straightened her shoulders. She was still a lady after all.

"Good now, come with me." Chloe was startled as Amy gave her shoulder a hefty tug, causing her to stumble towards the companionway that led to the lower decks.

"You're not just going to throw me in the captain's cabin again?" Chloe asked. It seemed like the only place she or Aubrey were allowed to go.

"And leave you alone with all of the captain's pointy objects?" Amy chuckled and shook her head. "We may be pirates but we ain't stupid."

Amy helped Chloe down the stairs before turning left towards the stern of the ship. Chloe realized that they were heading towards the kitchen, or whatever passed as a galley on board a sailing ship. Really it was just a small alcove tucked in the back corner of the ship. The floor was lined with some sort of metal, presumably to keep the floorboards from catching on fire in case of an emergency. A small stone stove sat in the corner, unlit and cold, with various pans and pots hanging from the ceiling.

While Chloe was taking a look around Amy bent over and started fiddling with her boot. The redhead was about to ask what she was doing when the pirate stood up straight, holding a long dirk in her hand. "Finally. Come here Red and I'll cut you loose."

Chloe cautiously held her bound hands towards the pirate, she wasn't sure if she should trust Amy with a knife, let alone a knife near her wrists. But the blonde held the blade with a surprising degree of dexterity and the rope was falling to the floor in no time.

Rubbing her wrists, Chloe moved to a small stool that was against the wall. She slumped down and held her head in her hands, raking her fingers through her hair as she tried to process everything that had happened. Thoughts and scenarios kept running through her head, each vying for her attention but all she really wanted was for them to stop. Her mind had other ideas, right now it was replaying every memory of her father. Every business meeting she ever witnessed, all the times she had been kicked out of a room so her father could talk to someone in private. How much of her father's business revolved around the slave trade? It was starting to feel like she didn't know her father at all. A thought that scared Chloe since between her parents she had always felt closer to her dad. Thoughts like that came faster and faster until Chloe could barely think straight.

"Hey?"

What other things did her father do behind her back? How many lives did he ruin to build his trade empire? What did the family fortune really cost?

"RED!" Chloe startled and looked up when Amy yelled at her. The blonde gave her a concerned look, leaning over to poke Chloe none too gently on the forehead. "If there's one place you don't want to get lost." She poked Chloe on the head again. "Much harder to find your way back out."

Chloe pulled her hands from her hair. She hadn't even noticed how tightly she'd been gripping the red strands. Chloe sat up straight and released a shuddering breath trying to calm down. Her hands went to her face and came away wet with tears. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it." Amy stood up and moved to the cabinets that lined the walls of the small kitchen. She rooted around for a few seconds before pulling out a large metal pan and a few cooking utensils. "Mind getting the fire started for me?"

"What?"

"The fire," Amy gestured to the stove sitting quietly in the corner. "Cap wants me to make a hot meal for the prisoners over there."

Right, the people her father had taken from their homes just to fill his pocket. "Can I ask you something?" Chloe asked quietly while she picked up the flint and steel that Amy handed her.

"Think you just did." Amy snickered at her own joke.

"Was he telling the truth?" Chloe's hands stilled from striking the flint. She had no reason to trust Amy but right now she needed to hear it from someone else.

Amy sighed and put the knife she was holding back on the counter. She walked over to the door frame and yelled at the top of her lungs. "Oye, Pierre! Get me a rack of pork and a barrel of water from the slavers!"

There was a distant call of acknowledgement from within the ship and Amy turned back to Chloe. "Frenchman, arms the size of Florida." She held up her hands for emphasis. If that was Amy's attempt at lifting Chloe's spirits, it didn't work. The redhead just stood there and stared at the blonde with a pleading look.

"Eh right, no mood for jokes." Amy went back to the counter and proceeded to sharpen her knife with a whetstone. "I don't know what you want me to say, Red."

"The truth."

Amy groaned. "Not exactly something I specialize in. Much better at the lying bit." She gave the knife a few more passes before replacing it with another. "We've been going after the African company for years now. Out of all the ships we've taken there have been quite a few that were sanctioned under the Beale name."

Chloe turned back to the stove and started striking the flint a bit too roughly. Sparks started to fly and the tinder inside the stove quickly caught fire. That didn't stop Chloe though, she kept hitting the flint as hard as she could, sending more and more sparks flying through the air. Amy set her knife down and rushed over to pull Chloe away from the stove before she set the entire ship on fire.

She gathered up the redhead in her arms and while Chloe struggled Amy wasn't about to release her. There was a noise at the door and Amy turned to see that Pierre was standing in the doorway with a wooden barrel under each arm. He gave Amy a questioning look but the blonde just shook her head. The man shrugged his shoulders before placing the barrels in the doorway and leaving, it wasn't the strangest thing he'd ever seen on this ship.

"I'm going to put you down now. Promise not to set the ship on fire?" Amy asked once Chloe stopped struggling. The redhead gave a half-hearted nod and Amy set her back on the floor. Chloe sniffled as she walked back to the stool, sitting down without another sound. Amy kept an eye on Chloe as she opened the barrel containing several cuts of salted pork. She brought out a couple slices and walked over to the counter to start cutting them into small cubes. Amy hadn't seen the condition of the captives on the other ship but she knew that they hadn't gotten the best food, if any, while on their trip. So a simple broth was probably the best choice to fill their bellies and get some liquids in their systems. Amy might act like a buffoon at times but she took her job as the ship's chef seriously.

She glanced at the redhead again, Chloe was still crying on the stool and Amy felt her heart strings being tugged just a little. "So your dad turned out to be a bastard, eh?"

Chloe looked up to see Amy looking at her with a raised eyebrow. She just shook her head and placed it back in her hands. But Amy was stubborn and just like the rest of her she had a big heart. "Well join the club sister."

The redhead looked up again, this time more confused than irritated. Amy laughed but there wasn't much humor in it. "Pretty sure the only people on board who have a decent relationship with their dads are Flo and Cynthia." Chloe had stopped sniffling so Amy took it as a sign to continue. "Jessica, Ashley and Stacie have never met their fathers. I don't know about Lilly and…well the captain doesn't like to share."

Chloe whipped her eyes, she didn't know why but Amy seemed to be calming her down. "What about you?"

Amy sighed, "My da was an arse." She placed the knife on the counter and turned to Chloe, leaning her hip against the counter. "As you can probably tell, I am overflowing with natural talent." She made a flourish with her hand to emphasize her point.

"I barely know you so…" Chloe wasn't sure what to say, especially since there were several sharp objects at Amy's disposal.

"Psh, anyone with eyes can tell I'm amazing." Amy winked at her and Chloe almost smiled at the blonde's antics. "Anyways, me da saw my natural gifts and instead of being proud of his little girl all he thought about was how to use me to make him rich."

Amy turned back to her work as she let Chloe process. "Before I was ten years old he already had me singing in the streets for chump change from the rich pricks around London. I didn't really care since I enjoyed the singing and dancing, but I was probably too young to understand what was really going on."

The story was drawing her in so Chloe stood up and walked over to the counter. She grabbed a knife and started cutting the pork into cubes just like Amy. The blonde gave her a questioning look when she picked up the knife but continued with her story anyways. "When I became a teenager I started singing in the opera houses. A rising star that was shining bright. But then," Amy let out a low whistle before slapping a slice of pork with her hand. "Things started to fall apart. Don't get me wrong I was still crushing it. Making all the twig bitches jealous and the boys swoon. But the fame and the fortune started to wane and I grew less and less interested…well maybe not with the money but you know what I mean."

Amy bent down and pulled out a smaller barrel and popped open the lid. Inside was a variety of fresh vegetables that Amy pulled out and tossed in a pot that she then put over the fire. She grabbed the barrel of water and, in a surprising feat of strength, hoisted it over her shoulder. The pirate grabbed the cork in the top of the barrel and once it was free the water poured out into the same large pot with the vegetables.

Amy let the water flow for several seconds before putting the barrel on the floor and replacing the cork. "Then one day I met a young chef who was completely enamored with me." Amy sighed, "Handsome lad he was. A little on the small side but damn if he didn't have some stamina."

That almost made Chloe gag, she really didn't want to hear about this pirate's exploits in that department. But Amy's stories seemed to be working, Chloe's attention had definitely been taken off the topic of her father.

"He was the one that taught me to cook," Amy continued. "We started seeing a lot of each other. I'd sing for him and he'd cook for me, it was almost perfect."

The way Amy said it let Chloe know that there was more to the story but she didn't know what to say. The blonde had gone quiet as she stirred the soup with a long spoon, her expression made it seem like she was deep in thought.

"What was his name?" Chloe found herself asking before she could stop herself. Amy just looked at her with a sad half smile.

"Eric O'Malley." Amy watched as Chloe's eyes widened. "Yup, fell in love with an Irishman. As you can probably guess, me da wasn't too happy about my choice of companionship so it became a constant sore spot between us. Eventually it became too much."

Amy grabbed a handful of pork cubes and tossed them into the pot. "One day, after I was done at the opera house, I went over to Eric's. Modest little place but it had started to feel more like home than my own. When I went inside I found him in the kitchen, laying on the floor with a knife in his chest." Another handful of pork went into the pot.

Now Chloe really didn't know what to say. Amy sounded so sad and while Chloe didn't know the pirate all that well she always had a bluster to her that made it seem like nothing affected her.

"Didn't take a genius to figure out what happened so I went out looking for my Father." Amy kept working on the food, her cuts started to slow down as the story went on. "Found him in the mansion that my voice paid for, trying to wash the blood off his hands. He never made it out of that mansion."

They worked in silence for several minutes. Chloe avoided saying anything so as to not upset Amy and Amy was busy preparing the food. The entire situation was confusing for the redhead, but after the story she felt a wave of sympathy for the pirate. "I'm so sorry."

"Yeah well that was close to five years ago." Amy put the last bit of pork in the pot and turned towards Chloe, leaning against the counter top with a hand on her hip. "I joined up with this crew the same day. Got mighty lucky that the captain was in port, although back then the crew was a lot smaller." Amy gave her a grin before turning her attention to the pot. She grabbed a ladle from the wall and started stirring the pot.

"What do you mean smaller?" Chloe asked.

Amy hummed thoughtfully, "Well back when I joined up there was only the captain, the doc and Cynthia. So obviously they were in desperate need of my sexy ass and my massive talent."

Chloe snickered, she couldn't help it. The way the blonde switched from super serious to cracking jokes gave Chloe a bit of mental whiplash. Although it could be she was suffering from emotional strain and Amy provided a distraction from the earth shattering revelation of Chloe's father. Chloe knew that she would have to process the information eventually, but not right now. Right now all she had to focus on was preparing food for the poor people on the other ship.

"There's some biscuits in that cupboard over there," Amy pointed to the far end of the counter. "Grab some of those and the jar of honey in the cabinet above it."

Chloe moved to follow instructions, pulling out a burlap sack of hard biscuits and a large clay pot that she almost dropped due to its hefty weight. After steadying herself, Chloe placed the items on the counter before glancing at Amy, silently asking what to do next.

"We'll let Pierre carry that stuff over for us. Wouldn't want us delicate women doing all the work now would we." Amy shot her a sarcastic wink.

Chloe giggled, "Somehow I don't think anyone would ever mistake you for 'delicate'".

Amy scoffed and placed her free hand over her heart, "I beg your pardon? I can be quite delicate." She turned her head and bellowed out to the ship. "Pierre! Get back down here you lout!"

Less than a minute later the hunky french-man was back in the doorway, breathing heavily from his rush down the stairs. "What do you need mademoiselle?"

Amy shot Chloe a grin, "See, delicate." She addressed her crewmate again. "Take the bread and honey across. We'll be right behind you with the soup."

"Oui chief." Pierre reached across the counter and picked up the food, slinging the bread over his shoulder and the jar nestled in the crook of his arm. As he passed Amy the blonde reached out and smacked the man on his rear, causing him to startle and rush out of the room.

"Got to keep them on their toes." Amy snickered at Chloe's wide eyed expression. The redhead was quickly realizing that Amy was a bit of a character and knew almost nothing about proper conduct. Which really should not be a surprise since she was, after all, a pirate.

The blonde gave the pot a final stir, the contents were bubbling slightly and the broth had become nice and thick. With a satisfied nod the cook grabbed the wooden handles of the pot and hefted it onto the counter top. "All right, let's get this over there."

Amy took a breath before lifting the pot and shuffling towards the door. "You go ahead of me red, make sure the way is clear." Chloe nodded and rushed to get in front of the blonde. She made sure that no one was blocking the path and once the other crew members saw Amy carrying the pot they ducked out of the way very quickly. They made it to the steps leading up to the main deck and Chloe had to help Amy carry the pot.

Once they were above deck Chloe took a second to glance over at the helm. The slaver captain was still there with McKadden standing over him, her dagger was sheathed but even from a distance Chloe could see the fear written across Harris' face. She looked across the command deck and met Aubrey's eye, the blonde giving her a concerned look. Chloe just shook her head and gestured to the cook with the food, there wasn't anything Aubrey could do right now so Chloe tried to placate her friend.

Amy and Chloe managed to make their way across the gangplank without too much trouble and once across Pierre made his reappearance with Amadi in tow. "Please let us take this." Pierre and Amadi both reached out and took the pot from the girls. They managed it much more easily and in no time they had the soup across the deck where several of the former slaves were congregating.

Chloe hesitated for a second at seeing all the people who had been stored below deck. A wave of guilt rushed over her as she realized that her family was responsible for taking these people from their homes. Amy noticed the girl's hesitation and rolled her eyes. The blonde reached out and tapped on her forehead again, "Hey, we ain't our fathers. You want to do something for these people? Grab a ladle and start…well ladling."

She pushed Chloe towards the soup pot causing the redhead to stumble. Managing to catch herself, Chloe made it the rest of the way to where Pierre had started filling bowls with soup. He glanced over at the woman and handed her two bowls, one for each hand. Chloe grabbed the bowls and walked over to two women who looked like they could be sisters. They both had dark hair to match their skin, skin that was pulled taut across their bones.

"Um, here," Chloe held out the bowls to the women. "This is for you."

The women looked between the bowls and Chloe's face. They huddled closer together, clearly not trusting anything Chloe had to offer. She was about to try again when she felt a hand on her shoulder. When she looked behind her she saw Amadi giving her a reassuring smile. He took one of the bowls, held it out to the women and said something in a forgein language. The pair glanced between each other before one of them reached out and took the bowl from Amadi. The large man smiled before gesturing for Chloe to come closer. She did and held the bowl out to the other woman. The former slave eagerly took the bowl and smiled at Chloe, which in turn caused the redhead to smile.

For the next hour Chloe helped feed the starving people. Either handing out bowls of soup or when they ran out helping Amy make more. Occasionally Stacie would make a few rounds checking up on the people they were serving, making sure they didn't need emergency medical attention. Cynthia also made a few stops, talking with the people in their own language along with Amadi who seemed to always have a smile on his face. Just as Amy was about to make another soup run the captain made her appearance, dragging the slaver behind her by a rope tied around his neck.

"Rose, you mind translating for me?" McKadden asked.

Cynthia nodded, "Sure thing captain."

The captain waited a second so that all eyes were on her. "This man and his crew have committed horrible acts against you and your people. The code on board my ship is that the one who was wronged gets to choose the punishment." She waited for Cynthia to translate and they could see some of the group start to understand. "So I leave his fate up to you."

The former slaves all seemed shocked. No one moved for several minutes but slowly they started talking among themselves. Captain Harris looked around the group, glaring at his former captive as if that would somehow curtail them into sparing his life. However, when his gaze met Amadi's there was nothing but cold contempt. The African stood from his spot at the railing and strode forward, his long legs taking only three strides to reach the slaver.

Armadi's hand shot out and grabbed the rope around Harris' neck, wanking the captain up so that his feet were barely scraping the wood planks beneath them. "We shall give him freedom."

Harris struggled against the vice-like grip as Armadi dragged him towards the side of the ship. "Unhand me you savage! I swear I will see you all hanged for this!"

"I don't think you'll be seeing much of anything except for the sea." McKadden called back as Armadi hoisted the squirming captain up and over the side of the railing. There was a three second delay filled with screaming before they heard a splash. "All right now that that's taken care of."

McKadden jumped on top of the railing between the two ships and called out so everyone could hear her. "We're setting out for Nassau. There you will all be able to decide for yourselves what to do with your lives. Once we get there you'll have to decide for yourselves what you want to do, whether joining a crew or trying to make your way back home."

She hopped down from the banister and made her way over to where Cynthia and Stacie were waiting. "See to it that they are comfortable. We'll discuss what happens to them once we make it to port."

"Aye captain," the two women turned and went back to their duties.

The brunette gave a quick once over of the ship when she noticed Chloe still handing out food to the people. In fact Chloe had just finished handing out the last of the biscuits and honey when the captain seemed to suddenly appear behind her.

"It's time to go Miss Beale." Chloe jumped and spun around to see that everyone who wasn't supposed to stay on the ship was gone. Shaking her head with nervous acknowledgement, the redhead said a final goodbye to the people she had been serving and quickly moved back to the pirate ship.

The captain followed right behind her, waving at the members of her crew that would sail the slave ship until they reached Nassau. She turned back to her own ship and walked across the gangplank, feeling much more at home once the familiar movement of her ship was under her feet again. "Cast off and gang way! Let's get a move on lads."

Chloe watched as the crew made quick work of the ropes keeping the ships tied together and soon enough they were drifting apart. Not knowing what to do with herself Chloe just tried to stay out of the way. Although it clearly wasn't far enough out of the way since several of the crew managed to bump into her, no matter how hard she tried.

"Over here Miss Beale." The captain called out. She was standing by the door to her cabin and Chloe tried to make her way over. It took a few tries to make it through the crowd but eventually she managed to stumble her way across the deck. The captain had an amused smirk running across her face by the time Chloe finally managed to make it over. "This is why we've tried to keep you two out of the way while the crew is working. It takes a while for people to get used to the rhythm."

"Right of course," Chloe said as the captain opened the door and gestured for the redhead to go inside. Chloe slipped past the captain, managing an awkward smile as she brushed against the other woman. "I'll just go inside."She hurried to enter the relatively quiet space of the captain's cabin, the door closing shut behind her.

"Chloe! Thank God you're okay." Aubrey rushed over and pulled her friend into a tight hug.

Chloe let out a surprised 'oof' as the blonde collided with her, "Of course I'm okay Bree. What did you think was going to happen?"

Aubrey pulled back, "I don't know, you were taken below deck with that brute of a woman-"

"Hey, take it easy on Amy. She's a lot nicer than you would think." Chloe said. "She helped keep me from spiraling out of control."

Aubrey's eyes went wide, "Oh I nearly forgot with everything that's been going on. Are you okay?"

"I don't know," Chloe admitted. "Everything happened kind of fast. I don't think I've really processed."

"Of course." Aubrey led her friend over to the bed and had her sit down. "If you need anything just let me know."

"Thanks Bree."

"No problem," Aubrey stood up and moved to the other side of the bed and laid down. "Can't believe the sun is already setting."

Chloe jerked her head up and looked out the small window at the back of the ship. Sure enough the sun was sinking below the horizon. "How did the day disappear so fast?"

"I know, strange since it has also been one of the longest. So much happened in so little time" Aubrey sounded tired, which was only proven when the blonde let out a large yawn. "Maybe we should just get some sleep."
Laying back in the bed along with her friend Chloe sighed, "I don't know how I could sleep after everything."

"Try to, maybe it will make more sense in the morning."

"You saw what it was like for those people Aubrey. My father did that to them." Chloe's voice turned timid and she ran her fingers through her hair.

Aubrey rolled over and gripped Chloe's arm in a comforting squeeze. "That is not your fault."

"I know but…I always thought my father was a good man. Now I don't know what to think."

Aubrey was silent for several seconds, "I'm as surprised as you are. I thought your father dealt mostly in the sugar trade. But there's nothing we can do about it now so we might as well go to sleep."

Chloe caught on to the fact that Aubrey was using her own words against her. Which usually Chloe would find funny but after today she just found it annoying. She was about to make a comment when she noticed that Aubrey's breathing had steadied out and had obviously fallen asleep.


Trying to follow in her friend's example Chloe closed her eyes and tried to relax. Only it wasn't happening, she tried listening to the sounds of the crew moving about or the steady roll of the ship but nothing seemed to work. She didn't know how long she had laid there but it was long enough for the crew to quiet down and for Aubrey to start snoring. Chloe opened her eyes and saw that the cabin was completely dark. She eased herself out of bed and tiptoed over to the door. Careful not to make too much noise, the redhead gently eased open the door and peeked outside.

Sure enough it appeared that most of the crew had retired for the evening with only a handful of people still walking around the deck. Figuring it would be safe she stepped outside and sidled along the wall until she reached the stairs. Steeling her nerves Chloe climbed up the stairs as quickly as she could. She made it to the top and breathed a sigh of relief.

"What are you doing up here?"

Chloe nearly jumped overboard. The captain was standing by the helm, an eyebrow quirked and an amused grin playing across her face. Chloe took a second to let her heart return to a normal rate before glaring at the pirate. "Do you really need to scare people like that?"

"You're the one that is out of her room and sneaking around my ship in the middle of the night." McKadden joked, her eyes never leaving the redhead.

"Yes, well I couldn't sleep. In case you didn't notice I had a bit of a wild day." Chloe leaned against the railing and crossed her arms.

"Hmm," the captain hummed before turning back to her work.

"I suppose I should probably thank you." The captain gave her a confused look. "If it wasn't for you and your crew I would have gone on living in complete ignorance of who my father truly was."

"Some say ignorance is bliss."

"Those people are living in a dream." Chloe stood up and mindlessly wandered across the quarter deck. "That is what my entire life has been, just a dream."

"Your life has been free of strife. Nobody has tried to kill you and there's always been food on your plate." The captain said. "Sounds like a pretty good dream to me."

"A dream that turned into a nightmare." Chloe looked over the side of the ship and couldn't help but think how beautiful the night sky looked. Filled with stars that shimmered in the waves below.

"The real world can be a nightmare. But there are good parts too it." McKadden brushed a lock of brown hair behind her ear. "You just have to find the things that make life worth living."

"And pray tell what those would be?" Chloe asked.

The captain ran her hand over the wood of the wheel, "For me it's this ship, my home. It's my family, the crazy people I have the privilege to call my crew."

Chloe snickered, "They're crazy all right. Amy told me the story about how she joined up with you."

McKadden groaned, "Which version did she tell you?"

"Version?"

"Amy tends to…exaggerate her storytelling. I once caught her telling someone that she joined this crew after proving herself in a fight with something called a crocodile."

"What's a crocodile?"

"It's a large lizard that lives in Africa, I'm not even sure if Amy's ever seen one before." The captain hung her head and let out an exasperated sigh. "So which story did she tell you?"

Chloe crossed her arms, "She said that she was a famous opera singer and that her father killed the man she was in love with."

The captain paused, like she was considering what to say. "Well the opera bit isn't true."

"So she really…" Chloe left the question hanging in the air.

"Killed her father?" The captain nodded her head. "I don't know all the details but one night she got really drunk and blabbed some of the story. What I know is true is that she showed up at the docks one day claiming to be a cook and needing passage out of London." She looked back at Chloe, "She was probably trying to make you feel better."

"But why would she care?"

The captain chuckled to herself, "Amy is one of the strangest people you will ever meet but she has, as she would say, a fat heart. She tends to latch on to people rather quickly and despite her unreliable nature she always takes care of her friends, in her own bizarre and unique way."

"Oh," Chloe felt touched that the boisterous pirate actually cared about her. "I guess that's kind of sweet."

"Don't get used to it. She'll probably put something in your food tomorrow so she doesn't appear soft." Chloe laughed but the laugh quickly turned into a yawn. "Perhaps it's time for you to go to sleep, Miss Beale."

"Me, you're the one who hasn't slept since yesterday." Chloe remembered how tired the captain had been the other day, and frankly having someone who was sleep deprived at the helm.

"No need to worry Miss Beale, I never fall asleep when she needs me." She patted the wheel with her hand.

"Why do you always call me Miss Beale?" It had started to bug her since no one called Chloe that other than the household staff, and even then she usually insisted that they use her name.

The pirate shrugged, "I just thought that was how you'd want to be addressed, figured it would make you more comfortable."

"Well please, just call me Chloe."

"Very well Miss Chloe."

"That's not- you know what, I'm too tired for this." Chloe made her way to the stairs before looking back over her shoulder. "Thank you for talking with me."

The captain gave her a shy smile as they looked into each other's eyes, "Pleasant dreams Miss Chloe."