Chapter 1: The Aurora
Walking over the gangplank first was always something Korra did with a significant amount of pride. It meant that she had done her job of securing a prize for her and her crew without spilling blood on either ship. Everybody wins.
Well, almost everybody.
Of course, the owners of the ships wouldn't be too happy about it, hearing that their captain gave up the ship without a fight.
Korra took a quick look around the ship, seeing the frightened crew a deck lower, as well as the higher officers at the helm. She herself had Mako and Bolin in tow, making for the man who looked like the captain.
"Is this your ship?" she brusquely asked him while her crew secured the crew of the captured ship behind her.
-"You are their captain?" he asked, raising a discerning eyebrow.
Korra instantly knew where this conversation was going, and already lowered her hand to the hilt of her sword. "You have a problem with that?"
-"I don't deal with women," he defiantly said.
She stepped in closer to him, almost being at eye level. "Captain, you want to think very carefully about your next words, or they will be your last," she quietly said. "I may be a woman, but I do have your crew outnumbered and I am currently the one calling the shots on this ship."
He glared at her, not backing down. "Suck my big dick, you cunt."
With one smooth move, Korra drew her sword and cut his neck open, while she also heard Mako and Bolin draw their swords behind her, taking up defensive poses next to her. "Anyone else above dealing with women?!" she yelled at the other officers, who were all staring at the lifeless body of their captain.
-"You bitch! You killed him!" one of them yelled, and this gave the signal to the entire crew to fight back.
Korra immediately crossed swords with one of them, and was easily able to gain the upper hand in the fight. In fact, because her seasoned crew was used to tougher fights than this small Fire Nation merchant ship, it wasn't a long battle.
Long, no, bloody, yes. From what Korra could see on the quarterdeck, the visible portion of the upper deck had been turned red with the crew's blood and was strewn with bodies. The fighting had died down again, and she could see some of the shiftier people in her crew killing off the ones that weren't fully dead.
"Tahno! Ming! Shaozu!" she yelled, and all three of them looked up. "Stop that at once, and make yourself useful by fetching the captain's log." They looked at each other, and it made Korra impatient. "While we're still young, people!"
-"Aye, Captain." They took off down the cabin section of the ship, and the captain couldn't help but shake her head. "What am I going to do with them, Mako?"
-"They are good fighters, and very helpful deckhands," the first officer offered up. "Useful to have around some of the time."
She loudly sighed. "Aye, unfortunately that's true." Her worry was the rest of the time when they weren't useful, as quickly became apparent.
Coming from below decks were the unmistakable screams of a woman, so Korra instantly vaulted the railing, jumping a deck lower. She stormed into the captain's cabin, where she saw the three she had just sent there tearing away at the dress of a young woman. Korra drew one of her pistols, shooting a hole right between Tahno's feet. "Back away, all of you!" she thundered, and that worked.
The captain took a closer look at the woman, seeing her lily-white skin through the rips in her dress. Her curly raven hair had fallen out of its updo, framing her face. Mostly though, she looked terrified, trying to cover her modesty by holding the strips of her torn dress together.
"What happened here?" Korra demanded.
-"The cunt was hiding, put a nasty cut on my arm when we came in," Ming said, showing his arm with a bloody wound on it. "Figured we should teach her a lesson."
"You're a pussy," the captain bit back. "Get lost, all of you. I'll deal with this." Only Korra and Mako stayed behind in the cabin with the woman. "You hurt?" She shook her head, and Korra nodded. "Fine. Mako, take her to my cabin. Guard the door, no one in or out unless it's me."
-"Aye, Captain." Mako pulled her to her feet, while her dress was struggling to stay on her shoulders. Korra couldn't help but notice that her skin seemed absolutely beautiful, definitely not someone who was out at sea very often.
Walking over to the desk, she found the captain's log, and quickly thumbed through it, trying to find the most current cargo.
It wasn't quite what she had hoped for, mostly silk and spices. The ship had been westbound, so Korra already figured from the Fire Nation flag that it was on the return leg, sailing home with goods instead of coin. Still, outside of the stones that kind of boggled Korra, most of it was pretty valuable. She went outside again, ordering the men to load everything of value onto her own ship, and made for her own cabin again.
Inside, she found the woman on Korra's own bed, knees tucked up to her chest, crying from the things she had just seen.
Instead of talking to her immediately, Korra decided it was probably best to disarm herself first, so she took off her belt of pistols and hung it in the cabinet it belonged. As she was doing this, she felt the woman gaze at her, watching her as she quietly went about her business.
Ultimately, Korra was forced to strip down out of her long blue waistcoat, as it was smeared with blood. This left her in nothing more than her bindings, even though the captain wasn't the least bit bothered by this. She washed down herself in silence, cleaning off most of the blood before pulling on a simple white tunic, and finally took a seat opposite of the woman. "So," she opened. "Where do we start?"
-"What do you want from me?" she asked.
"Nothing," Korra shrugged. "At least, not if you don't have anything worth taking. It's nothing against you personally, you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time." It fell silent for a moment. "What's your name?"
She took a deep breath. "Asami Sato," she hesitantly said.
Korra raised an eyebrow. "Sato? Daughter of Hiroshi Sato, the biggest slave trader this side of the equator?" Again, Asami hesitated, but nodded, and the captain chuckled. "Well, looks like this one might not have been a bust after all." She pulled down the neck of her tunic, revealing her collarbone and the brand just below it. "I have a bone to pick with him."
This took Asami by surprise, but she quickly regained herself. "I'm not my father."
"I know, but now that I have you, I have leverage over him."
-"So I'm to be your hostage?" she asked, disbelief in her eyes growing.
"Yes," Korra simply answered. "Don't worry, I'm not just gonna throw you to my crew. Speaking of which, I need to check on them." The captain made for the door, but Asami stopped her.
-"Wait!" She stood up, forgetting for a moment that her dress wasn't capable of staying on her shoulders on its own. It slipped down, and Korra caught a quick peek of a pink nipple before Asami covered herself up, her face turning bright red.
"You might want to do something about that," the captain sarcastically remarked.
Asami sighed. "Your men did this, how can I know they won't do it again?"
Korra chuckled at this. "Yeah, what did you expect? We're pirates, not monks. Not to worry though, as long you're with me or Mako, you'll be safe." It briefly fell silent, Asami realizing that the captain had a point there. "There's clothes in my closet. Might be a little short for you, but it's better than those rags." Korra clasped her sword belt back on while Asami strode over there, picking through it.
-"Don't you have any dresses?" she asked with an amazed tone.
"Sweetheart, do I look like I wear dresses?"
Asami sighed. "No, I suppose you don't." She picked out an old white tunic and simple brown pants, and Korra decided it was safe to leave her to it.
Outside again, she walked up to Bolin, her bosun. "How's it going?" she asked.
-"Well Cap, there looks like the log was good, there were fresh lemons and oranges on board that ship, I sent those down to the sick bay."
"Good. Send the rest to the galley, don't want anyone else suffering from scurvy. Everyone gets a cup of juice from those tonight. What about the rest?"
He looked down at the inventory. "Lots of silk, we can unload that in Omashu, and maybe the spices too. I'd hold off on that though, we can make a lot more off of those if we sell them in Taku instead."
Korra sighed, knowing that he had a point there. Taku was the spice capital of the Earth Kingdom, but about 50 miles north, there was one of the largest naval bases in the land. "I dunno, Bo, that's awfully close to a lot of people who want to see me make a short drop and a sudden stop."
Bolin sighed. "Yeah, I suppose that's true. Still, looking at this list, it might be worth the risk. Your call, Captain."
The captain let him to it, going back to her cabin to check on their guest. Inside, she was looking at Korra's gun cabinet. "Feel free to take one," she said, and Asami turned around, looking shocked.
"Save it, you were thinking about taking one." The captain smiled, and walked over to the cabinet as well, pushing Asami aside. "Listen up sweetheart, you may not like this, but on board this ship, I'm your best friend." Korra took out a smaller pistol, one made for concealed carry, and she took it over to her desk to load it.
"Here," she said, handing it over to Asami, who was reluctant to take it.
-"You're giving me a loaded pistol?"
Korra smiled. "Sure, why not? You're not going use it to shoot me anyway, I'm your new best friend. You may hate me, but we're three days sailing from the nearest port if the winds were good, which they're not. The only reason my men aren't lining up to fuck you in every hole you have is because I say so." Asami paled at the rudeness the pirate captain was displaying here, and it only made Korra's smile grow. "You could do with a little less prudishness. You're with pirates now."
A soft knock came from the door, and Asami quickly hid the pistol in her sleeve, upon which Korra called the knocker in. "Captain, we've got the booty. Found these in the captain's cabin," Bolin said, holding up a pouch. "Thought you might want a look at it."
-"That's mine!" Asami protested, stepping forward.
"Easy there, princess. What's in it?"
She never took her eyes off the pouch. "My mother's jewelery. She died when I was a little girl."
Korra thought for a moment. "Fine. Bolin, give it back. Burn the ship and we're on our way."
-"Burn it?!" Asami protested. "You can't do that! The crew you killed..."
"We don't have time for that," Korra interrupted her. "The crew is dead, and we don't need more superstitious sailors around these parts, we got enough of those." She took long black leather waistcoat and threw it on, along with her hat, stepping outside again. "Mako, prepare for departure, we head to Omashu. Full canvas!" She nodded once to Bolin. "Do it."
-"Burn the ship!"
The last man of Korra's crew on the Fire Nation ship lit a fuse of black powder. Standard tactic, really. One went to the powder magazine, the other to the captain's quarters, where there was the most stuff that would burn. He quickly made his way back over the gangplank before that was retreated and the sails were dropped.
Korra was looking out on the quarter deck as she watched the flames take hold of the small merchant vessel. Her thoughts were interrupted when Asami joined her. It was quiet, since the heiress wasn't wearing any shoes. "Why did you burn a perfectly good ship?"
"Because it was useless to us and a lot of dead weight to drag around. 12 guns, hardly enough to put a dent in any significant enemy we face. This is simple, quick, and doesn't leave a trace." She turned to face her. "You're in my good graces for now. You'll stay in them as long as you do what I say, and there won't be any trouble."
They were underway nicely, and the men were coming down from the mast again, and assembled on the upper deck. This was the time for Korra to make her announcement. "Men! We've had a good prize today!" A cheer went up from the crowd, but Korra could easily silence them again by just raising her hand. "Some of you have seen our newest crewmember, Asami Sato." She pulled her by the hand to the railing to show her to the crew. "Same rules apply to her as they apply to me; you touch her, you lose the hand you do it with. Is that clear?!" An agreeing murmur went through the crew, but Korra knew they understood it just fine. "We make for Omashu, which we'll reach in four days time. There, you can go back to your whores and your drinking." More cheers went up, and it made Korra smile.
She turned around to face Asami again. "Welcome aboard the Aurora."
The journey to Omashu was a smooth one. Even though the wind wasn't very cooperative, Korra managed to snag enough of it to keep the Aurora moving across the sea.
What was a genuine problem was that Asami was starting to realize the situation the captain had forced her into. Of course, it hadn't really been Korra's goal to hold her hostage, but here they were anyway. There had been some resentment, but since the ship was only a small place, she didn't really have a choice but to deal with it. That, and Korra's offer to sleep with the crew instead of in the captain's quarters had been a no-brainer.
Asami had spent most of the journey on the quarter deck in some makeshift shade, reading books from Korra's shelf. There had been some sexist remarks from the crew, but Asami had basically just ignored them all. Heck, one of them saying "Wouldn't mind you shivering me timbers" even managed to get a chuckle out of her.
One thing that had to be noted was that there was no doubt about the crew's loyalty to their captain. Korra's authority was unquestionable, as was most easily noticed by the fact that no one had dared to touch the heiress, despite her noticing that there were several lusting gazes thrown her way.
-"Sato," the captain beckoned. Asami looked up, seeing her back in her long blue waistcoat, a blue bandana to keep her hair back, white linen pants, and brown boots. In spite of her resentment towards Korra, the heiress had to admit that she was attractive. She was glad to see the waistcoat, since it was sleeveless, displaying her muscular arms, her right arm even being tattooed with a tribal band around her (impressive) biceps. Tattoos were out of the question in the Fire Nation, as they were exclusively seen as marks of criminal organizations, but it had to be said that it looked really good on the captain. It wasn't like Korra was a beacon of civility among her crew anyway, she was just as rude and foul-mouthed as the rest of them, and had the same lack of manners.
Still, Asami couldn't help but feel a certain amount of attraction to the captain, which was definitely not good. First off, she was a pirate. The amount of damage it would cause their name if it got out that the heiress would be 'more than amicable' with a pirate would be irreparable.
Second, she was from the Water Tribes. Asami's personal opinions notwithstanding, people from the tribes were generally considered to be lower than people from the Fire Nation and Ba Sing Se. This was partly because of their relatively primitive lifestyle and dark skin, but mostly because slave merchants like her father liked to propagate that notion so that he could capture people there and sell them off like cattle without public uproar.
Third, and perhaps most pressingly, she was a woman. Sodomy still held the death penalty in the Fire Nation, even if it was something that Asami had always been curious about. For the sake of her father, she had kept this to herself, but being here out at sea with the massively attractive captain, her dark and exotic skin, her beautifully muscular arms (let's not forget the abs, which she had already seen during their first encounter), her impossibly blue eyes...
Mentally slapping herself out of it, Asami finally looked up. "Captain?" she acknowledged her. She had decided it to be wise to use her rank instead of her name, given that it was probably better if she wanted to stay on her good side.
-"Come on, we have something to discuss." Korra walked into her cabin, taking a seat at her table with her feet on the table. "Have a seat." The heiress reluctantly sat down, trying to look past the soles of her captain's boots. "We'll drop anchor in Omashu before long, and I think it's probably best if I give the heads up on a few things."
"Captain, I've been in harbors before, I know what I can expect."
She scoffed. "Sweetheart, I'm guessing that you've docked in Mapaku?"
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
-"I've been sailing these parts longer than you think, I know every bit of it. Those harbors are safely tucked away between military bases and behind massive fleets, keeping pirates out. The Dai Li suppresses every bit of crime with an iron fist, so you can walk around safely." Korra briefly paused. "Omashu is nothing like that. Pirates were sick of the King's rule, so they overthrew him, and by the time reinforcements arrived, they had taken the fort and shot at anything military crazy enough to get close. That's been the case for the past 50 years, so you either need a reputation or the skills to keep shifty characters at bay. I have both. You have neither."
Asami sighed, because she sensed where this was going. "You want me to stay on the ship."
-"That would be best for both of us, but I have feeling that if you really want to go ashore, you'll find a way. You wouldn't make it very far before taking a dick up the ass anyway." She sighed, pulled her boots off the desk, and leaned over it. "That being said, you can't walk around on my ship barefoot any longer, and you need clothes of your own. Ergo, we're going into town tomorrow and get you some proper things. Make a list of what you need, because I'm only going with you once. After that, you're on your own." Korra stood up again, preparing to go back outside. "Ink and paper are in my desk."
"Wait," Asami said. "Aren't you going to send a message to my father?"
This stopped her in her tracks, and she thought about it for a moment. "I'll let you know." The captain turned to face Asami again. "Make sure your list is practical." With this, she really was out the door again.
The heiress sighed. It was fairly hard to get a read on the captain, but it was pretty apparent that she wanted her to be safe. Not that she'd be worth much if she was dead, but still.
She walked over to behind the desk, and quickly found that only one drawer was unlocked, the one containing the stationary. Making the list was fairly easy, because there were a few things that she had realized over the past few days that she didn't have. Most obvious one was a pair of good boots, since the only shoes that she had were high heels, not really helpful on a ship, as she quickly discovered. She'd also doubted that Korra would let her get any dresses, so she wrote down to get herself a few pairs of pants, tunics in her own size, and preferably a short waistcoat or some other means of restraining the excess of the tunics. Lastly, a few practical items, things like a toothbrush, perfume, and soap.
Asami sighed. Wearing pants wasn't common for Fire Nation women, let alone how she looked in Korra's pants. These were too short and hung quite high, exposing her ankles. Normally, exposed ankles meant that the woman in question was a prostitute, so she had to stay close to Korra.
For a moment, Asami thought about writing a separate letter to address it to her father in town anyway, but if the captain's warnings were justified (and she had no real reason to lie) that would be a bad idea.
Still, Asami wanted to get word out to him. Tell him the truth, and she wasn't even planning on making Korra look bad somehow by flat-out lying and saying that she was constantly being raped and everything.
With a sigh, the heiress picked up another piece of paper and started writing the letter to her father. In it, she told him the full truth, that the ship was taken by the pirates and their cargo was taken. She didn't mention Korra's name, but she did say how she was being treated well, and that he didn't need to worry about her just yet. However, that's not to say that she didn't urge him to give in to whatever demands the pirates would make, because she did want to go home. Lastly, since it wasn't unthinkable that she wouldn't be able to get another message out, she signed the letter with 'All my love'.
She quickly folded the letter, and stuffed it in her breast pocket. If someone was to cop a feel and discover it, she'd at least have an excuse to shoot him and draw attention away from the letter.
With a deep breath, she went outside again, seeking out Korra again. "Here," she said, handing over the list. "I assume you want to check it?"
The captain took it, letting her eyes slide over the list. "Perfume? Sato, no one here is going to care how you smell. Scratch that, the rest is fine. We go into town after the cargo has been taken care of. Now come and have a look at this." Korra coaxed her over to the railing, urging her to lean over. "Look at that."
Laid out before her were the three mountains of Omashu and its surroundings, and it was beautiful. Because of the dusk, some of the lights had been lit, but it mostly bathed the city in a gorgeous orange-red hue. In the bay before the city were dozens of ships of all sizes. The Aurora was among the bigger ships, but she was by no means the biggest. Plenty of three-masters were anchored here, but no one seemed to take notice of the simple two-masted brig slowly gliding into the harbor.
Korra spent her time yelling orders at her men to slow the ship down as much as she could, before she weighed the anchor relatively close to shore. "Men! Listen up! We won't be unloading anything tonight, it's too close to dark for the lighters to get near. We'll unload her in the morning, but for now, I want you to prepare the haul so that we can do that as fast as possible. The only one to go ashore for now is Mako, so that he can arrange lighters for first thing tomorrow. After we've unloaded, you're free to go to the whores and drink as much as you want, but tonight, you stay here."
A groan went through the crew, but Korra seemed unfazed by this, and turned to her first mate. "Take one of the longboats and two men you can control, and have at it. I don't think we'll need two lighters, but I leave that to your judgement. Come on, chop-chop, it's nearly dark," she smirked.
Asami followed the whole thing with amazement. The whole thing seemed to go down so easy, but then again, this wasn't the first time this crew docked somewhere. They were like a well-oiled machine, working off-each other like clockwork.
Later on, there were more unpopular decisions, as the captain limited the amount of rum they could drink. She needed them to be fresh in the morning.
This did pave the way for music night though. The men all sat on the upper deck together, while Asami sat on her usual spot on the quarterdeck, enjoying the music. It was a mishmash of instruments, and yet somehow, they made it work, into some quite enjoyable tunes. Two of them were good singers, and made it memorable.
-"Not quite what you were expecting us to be, did you?" Korra piped up, two cups in her hand. She handed one to Asami, who carefully sniffed it.
"Is this rum? I thought you said 'no drinking'."
The captain chuckled. "Nightcap, we could do with one." Asami smiled, and cautiously took a sip, while Korra sat down next to her. They sat in silence for a while, listening to the music, and she felt at peace. "None of us are evil through and through," Korra started. "We might do bad things, but only because circumstances forced our hand. Some don't care, and they keep on fighting until they die, spending all their plunder on drink and whores. Others are smarter, they save up so that they can have a way out of this life one day."
"You're pirates," Asami countered. "And you have never denied it."
Korra chuckled. "No point, it's true. But pirates aren't professionals, it not something you're schooled for. These men here, most were stuck in a life that would be the end of them. They have moral centers, know the difference between good and bad. Yes, there are people like Tahno, but be honest with yourself; if all of them really were evil down to the bone, do you think you'd still be a virgin?"
The heiress looked up in surprise. "How'd you...?"
The captain chuckled again. "You don't have a ring on your finger and you're high society, ergo, you're a virgin. Wasn't a difficult leap."
Asami sighed, because it was true. There was honor to be saved, marrying a man in high society would be virtually impossible if she wasn't pure anymore. It would bring shame to her name if she somehow lost it, even if it was by force.
-"You can go and sit with them, they won't bite," Korra said, and then finished her drink. "Hell, even if they do, you have your pistol and my blessing to blow their nuts off. Meanwhile, I'm going to bed. You might wanna do the same."
Asami smiled. "I'll be down in a bit," she said. "Gotta be fresh in the morning."
Korra smiled back, knowing what she meant.
The next day, Asami woke up from Korra dressing herself. Sharing a room with her wasn't too bad, it was just that since the captain most definitely wasn't a morning person, she didn't really make an effort to stay silent while dressing. She had knocked over a metal cup, making a loud rattle. Of course, it didn't help that the captain followed up on it with a loud swear.
"Morning to you too," Asami mumbled, not bothering with opening her eyes just yet.
-"Go back to sleep, we'll be done in a few hours. It would be best if you don't show yourself on deck just yet."
The heiress sighed, resigning herself to a morning locked in this cabin. Mako soon came by with breakfast for her, but left without saying a word. After making sure both he and Korra were busy, she took out the letter again, reading it one more time.
True to her word, the captain came for her after a few hours. "Ready, Sato? We can catch a ride on the last lighter, get a head start on your list."
Asami put down her book and pulled on her heels. "Sure."
Walking around Omashu was an experience in and of itself. There was bustling like she had never seen before, everyone was busy hauling cargo (most of it probably stolen, but that's beside the point for now,) making announcements, fetching supplies, the whole nine yards. More amazing than that, there wasn't any form of police or military, and yet it hadn't turned into a huge fist fight.
-"Something else, huh?" Korra chuckled, walking around like she owned the place. Though it should be said, given how most people gave her a wide berth, that probably wasn't very far from the truth.
Going shopping in a pirate's town with a pirate captain as her babysitter was weird. Still, it could be a lot worse, since there was a large variety of clothes and shops to pick from. Even though Asami was tempted for a moment to go for beautiful fabrics and intricate patterns from all over the Earth Kingdom, Korra's disapproving glare and raised eyebrow ultimately made her decide against it.
Ultimately, she settled for a pair of good leather boots, dark brown pants easily long enough to tuck into them, white tunics, and a dark red waistcoat. It gave her a simple but stylized appearance, and she'd blend in fairly well with the rest of the pirates.
There was still the small matter of the letter she wrote for her father, though. She'd have to find a way to sneak away from Korra for a few minutes, because she had seen a messenger post quite near to where they came ashore again.
Turns out, the opportunity presented itself.
-"Alright, given that you've stirred up far less trouble than you could have since we captured you, I'm gonna get you something small," the captain said when they were close to the docks again. "Wait here for a minute, will you?" When Asami nodded, she walked through the crowd and into a shop a few buildings down.
Asami leaned against a pole, hoping that her presence would go unnoticed. It immediately became apparent that without Korra's reputation around her, she was vulnerable. She still had the pistol tucked in her waistband, hidden from view by her waistcoat, but it only gave her a small degree of comfort.
Still, now was her moment. She quickly paced off, making her way through a few alleys to where she had seen the messenger post. It went well, right up to the point where she came face to face with two very large men, neither of which looked very friendly.
-"Well, well, well... What do we have here, Gombo?" one of them smirked, slowly pacing towards Asami.
-"Looks like a lost bird to me," the other replied.
Asami knew she was screwed now. "Gentlemen, I'm only looking for the messenger post," she said, trying not to let her voice waver.
They both burst out into loud laughter. "'Gentlemen'?" one of them scoffed, and roughly grabbed her arm. "You've got the wrong guys for that."
In panic, Asami punched him in the face with her free hand, forcing him to let her go. She drew her pistol, aiming it in their direction. "Back off!"
Gombo slowly walked towards her, straight down her barrel. "You're not going to shoot me. If you were, you'd have already done it. Even if you would, you have one shot, and there are two of us."
Before she realized it, Asami was within his reach, and he grabbed the pistol, forcing her hand up. Reflexively, she pulled the trigger, but the bullet went in the air. He pressed her against the wall, one hand to hold her up straight, one grabbing her by the neck. "You and I are going to have a great time, love," he whispered, his foul breath streaking over her lips.
The heiress closed her eyes, practically certain that this was it. If only she had listened to Korra's warning, and hadn't tried to be smarter than her. If only she listened to her own instincts. Hell, if only she had listened to her father, who she had to persuade to try this enterprise.
Out of nowhere, Gombo let go of her arm, quickly followed by the hand around her throat. Asami backed away, seeing her captain standing there, having pinned his hand to the wall with a knife. She drew a pistol of her own, and shot the other guy without thinking twice about it.
Gombo started tugging on the knife, but this caused him to scream in pain, giving Korra the opportunity to draw her sword and put it to his throat. "Wrong girl, asshole," she hissed. "Move one fucking muscle and you end up like your buddy."
Korra took a step back, taking a closer look at Asami. "You whole?"
"Yeah," she managed.
-"Good," Korra said, and while she grabbed her knife again, she turned to Gombo. "You listen to me," she hissed, turning the knife, getting a massive cry of pain from him. "Don't let me ever find you doing this again, because next time, I'll cut your balls off, and then your head." She yanked her knife back, finally freeing him. "Get out of here, before I change my mind."
He quietly stumbled off, clutching his bleeding hand.
-"What the fuck were you thinking?!" the captain snapped at Asami while turning around. "Why are you all the way out here?!"
"I-I..." The heiress sighed, knowing there was no way she could lie her way out of this one. She took the letter out of her pocket and handed it over.
Korra quickly scanned it, before crumpling the paper and stomping off. Asami now knew for certain that the warnings were just, so she stayed just close enough to see her captain throw the letter into a fire.
-"You want to write a letter so badly? Then come with me." Korra went into a tavern, walking over to the bar. "Kya, could you get me a drink, and some ink and paper?"
An elderly woman behind the bar smiled. "Coming right up, Korra."
While they were waiting, Asami took a look around, seeing a few things out of place. First of all, there were a lot more women than she would expect in a tavern like this, and... Oh. On second thought, that explained a lot. Over in the corner, one of the women was sitting on a man's lap, already topless. The heiress quickly turned away, trying to find a part of the room to stare at that had the fewest half-naked people in it. This was a brothel.
Once the captain had everything, she silently gestured Asami over to a table. "Write what I tell you to," she said, taking a gulp from her drink. "Seven years ago in early spring, your father conducted a raid on the Southern Water Tribe, capturing over 300 slaves. They were led to Harbor City, where they were distributed over three ships. One of those ships, the Resolution, is the ship I'm after. It carried a female slave, 36 years old at the time, and her name is Senna. I want her, her release papers, and 50.000 gold pieces, and in return, I'll hand you back to your father. The deal is to take place here in Omashu port. He is to handle this personally, if he is not here himself, the deal is off, I slit your throat and throw you into the bay. Did you get all that?"
Asami looked up in shock at that last part. "Are you... serious?"
-"You know better than to test me, Sato. Are you done writing, yes or no?"
She turned back to writing her own ransom letter, while the captain finished her drink.
-"Sign and date it," Korra said once Asami stopped writing.
She did, and Korra immediately took the paper, and scanned it for any hidden messages. Content that she couldn't find any, they briskly walked over to the messenger post, where she sent this new letter to Ember Island.
They took a longboat back to the Aurora in awkward silence, the tension between them almost tangible.
Back on board, Asami went back to the captain's quarters, while Korra went to check on the new inventory.
The heiress nervously paced back and forth inside, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Mostly, Korra's threat was still ringing through her head. The captain had killed someone right in front of her, so there was no question about whether or not she was capable of doing it. That just left her father needing to absolutely give in to her demands, but that wasn't a guarantee. What if this woman was already dead? And who was she in the first place?
Korra walked in, looking less than pleased when she spotted Asami. "Sit down," she commanded, and Asami complied. "So far, you've been enjoying my good graces, and you just burned a lot of those. You are going to join the crew, and work with them. Since I don't think you are fit for rigging, you'll help with any repairs necessary that can be made on deck, and if there aren't any, I want you in the galley helping the cook. Is that clear?"
Asami sighed. "Yes, Captain."
-"Good. Don't worry about any unwanted advances from my men, those rules still apply. But be warned: Step out of line like that again, and I might let them have their way with you. There are plenty of ways for me to make your life miserable while you're on this ship."
There wasn't anything for her to say to that. A 'thank you' didn't really seem in place, given that the threat of gang rape had just been made, and she would be working for the remainder of her stay here.
-"Now get down to the galley and help prepare supper for any men still on the ship." Asami didn't immediately complied, and Korra got impatient. "That wasn't a suggestion, Sato. Quickly, before I make you."
Asami sighed, and went below decks, where Bato the cook told her to start peeling a mountain of potatoes. The captain's second threat was already starting to become real.
For those of you who are wondering, I based the design of the Aurora on the Interceptor from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Seems like Korra's style to me, sacrificing size for speed. More to come, people, more to come.
Chapter 3: The Beach
For those of you confused, every line break in this chapter means a switch in POV.
Bolin's idea to unload the spices in Taku instead of in Omashu had been a good one. Careful estimates were that they had made roughly a third more on the haul, which was definitely worth the extra couple of days of sailing.
And better still, it presented Korra with another opportunity. "Mako, Bolin, Hakoda, my cabin."
The captain went inside, leaning against her desk comfortably while her first mate, bosun, and quartermaster lined up in front of her. "Gentlemen, we've come to a critical point here. The ship needs to be careened, and now is the perfect moment."
Bolin sighed. "Is that really necessary?"
"Hakoda, what speed are we pulling now?"
-"Latest suggests five and a half knots."
Korra nodded. "That is pathetic. We're sailing with a nearly empty hold, and true, we're not at full canvas, but it's still not good. I reckon that if we careen her, she can easily pull eight knots under full canvas, as opposed to six and a half or seven now."
-"She's right, Bo," Mako offered up. "When push comes to shove, there's a real chance that extra knot and a half could come in very handy."
Bolin let his head hang in defeat. "Alright, you win. Where do you want to tip her?"
Korra looked over to Mako. "Any suggestions?"
-"I say we do it in the Bay of Pigs again. Worked really well last time, and we're already heading on the right course to get there. Beach is nice and flat, good anchoring, village close by, we can dismantle the guns to bottleneck anything we don't want near us... Perfect place, really."
The captain nodded. She remembered that bay from last time around, and it had worked. Careening is bad for morale, but it's a necessary evil if they want to keep the Aurora above the water. It was at least five days of hard work, maybe more, so certain precautions had to be taken. This mainly meant making sure there were enough supplies, good food, rum, and even import some whores. "Any objections?" No one said anything, so Korra nodded. "Alright. Mako, set course to the Bay of Pigs. Bolin, you inform the crew. Hakoda, make sure you check to see if anyone has any serious objections against it."
-"Aye, Captain," the three men said in unison, walking off to do their assigned task.
She went down as well to the sunken portion of the upper deck, overseeing the way Bolin made his address to the crew as delicately as possible. Even though that wasn't his strongest suit, his natural charm did make him quite popular with the crew, and there weren't a lot of men among them who had a problem with him.
He explained everything, Korra's reasoning for the timing, and promised them necessary compensation. Korra didn't like that part, but it was a necessary evil.
There was some slight grumbling among the crew, but the promises made by Bolin did their jobs in raising the spirits again.
As such, Mako set the course for the Bay of Pigs, making sure to capture the favorable winds while they could.
Preparing the ship was easier said than done, but the crew worked diligently under Korra's close supervision. Asami wasn't the biggest help, so she mostly concerned herself with staying out of the way of men who were much, much stronger than her.
Ultimately, the guns were all hauled off and prepared on the beach to scare off anyone with bright ideas about trying to take a ship lying on the beach.
It wasn't until the Aurora needed to be dragged ashore that Korra sought her out again.
-"Sato," she said, drawing her attention away from staring at the men. "Feel like doing something useful?"
"Uhh, sure? I mean, if you don't mean me helping drag her ashore, I don't think I'll be very helpful there."
The captain chuckled. "Yeah, no, neither do I, I have some different in mind. When she is tipped, the entire crew helps out to clean her, no exceptions. That includes you and me. We only have 35 men, so if we'd set half of them aside, it would take twice as long."
Asami's heart sank. "Are you serious?"
-"Afraid of a little manual labor?" Korra joked. "Look, I know it's not your thing, but that's just how things work. Either you work with us, or we lock you inside, and believe me, that's not a place you want to be then."
The heiress sighed. "Fine. But what do we do until then?"
Korra smiled. "That's the fun part. We go into town for supplies. There's a small town an hour's walk along the coast, so I'm going there. Wanted to ask you if you wanted to join me, because I could always use a second pair of eyes."
Even though Asami wasn't quite sure what that meant, she went along with it anyway. The two women started walking, mostly listening to the silence and the sound made by the sea. "Captain?" Asami ultimately asked, quite hesitant to do so, but her curiosity won out over her fear of Korra.
"When you told me to write that ransom letter, you wanted to get a certain slave... What is she to you?"
Korra sighed. "She's my mother. Captured along with me the night I first became a slave."
This caught Asami off guard. She had seen the brand on Korra's shoulder, meaning she was captured by her father's company, but she didn't think that her family was captured along with her. "You... You think my father can still trace her?"
-"He better," the captain bitterly chuckled. "Because if he can't, you're going to be part of our crew until he can."
This raised more questions than it answered for Asami. "Can I ask... How did you go from slave to captain? That's quite a big leap, especially for a woman."
-"Another time, Sato," she sighed. "Because for now, there are more pressing matters at hand." They had reached the town Korra had been talking about earlier, though it didn't appear to be very big.
Korra knew exactly what they were looking for, and it didn't take them long to get a sufficient helping of bread, two whole pigs (minus intestines, thank heavens for that,) and plenty of rum and fresh water to keep the crew happy. It wasn't for endless washing, but they were right next to a very blue sea, so that wouldn't be a problem for now.
-"Right, that just leaves one thing," the captain said, a slight smirk appearing on her face.
"What's that?" Asami inquired. According to her, they had everything.
-"Follow me, Sato." Korra made for an unassuming building, though when they stepped inside, it was immediately clear to Asami that this was another brothel. She looked around, seeing multiple women walking around topless or in dresses fartoo promiscuous to let them be anything else. Most of them were good looking, and Asami tried to look away from the ones who were naked, instead focusing on the ones who were at least covered. The captain saw her turning slightly red and smiled. "See anyone you like?"
"Wha... What are you t-talking about?" Asami sputtered, turning even redder.
It only made her smile grow. "I've seen you looking, Sato. 30 men on my ship, most of them conventionally good-looking, and yet you spend most of your day staring me when you think I'm not looking. You're gayer than me, and you don't want to admit it."
The heiress was absolutely lost for words, amazed that Korra had figured her out so easily. She was convinced it had been one of her closest kept secrets, that no one really knew about it. And yet, it took the captain less than two weeks to piece it together.
-"Relax, your secret is safe with me. Hell, now's the time to try it out. You want to experiment, none of my men will care, and neither will I. My best guess is that it's going to take about two months for your father to show up in the port of Omashu, so feel free. You can even take one of them for a trial run," she said, nodding to the whores. "The ship's accounts are open."
"No thanks," Asami managed, if only just.
Korra chuckled. "Have it your way, Sato. You just wait here for a minute, and I'll handle this."
-"You have got to be kidding me," Asami sighed when Korra returned with three whores in tow.
"The fuck-tent is an essential part of keeping the men happy during careening, and they're not gonna be very happy when all it has is an old rag to jerk off into. It needs whores, and brothels have those. Supply and demand."
Korra knew this was going to shock Asami, and that made it all worth it. She was visibly uncomfortable to be here, though she couldn't help herself but sneak the occasional peek at the whores scampering around. "You're still welcome to give them a trial run."
At this, Asami was so pissed off that she promptly stood up and walked outside, leaving the captain in the brothel with a big smile on her face. "Don't worry, she's just a little sensitive," she said to the whores. "Follow me, we're travelling back in style."
It was true. Korra had arranged a lighter to take them and the supplies back to the beach where the ship was careened, and should be out of the water by now. Managing four women, all slightly sensitive about getting wet, was hopeless. The cargo didn't help, Korra had to move the pigs all the way to the front and the women to the back, trying to get them over the smell.
Luckily, taking a boat back was much shorter than walking, and before long, they were back with the Aurora. The men had did their jobs properly, having the ship on the beach, though not yet anchored to the trees. Several tents had been built already, and Korra promptly made her way over to Mako. "How's she coming along?"
He chuckled. "Well, the men have been working the entire time you've been gone, as you can see, for the promise of rum and a full fuck-tent." He barely got to finish his sentence before loud cheers went up as the crew saw the three whores stride towards the designated tent.
"So I see," Korra chuckled. "You want a go as well?"
Mako shook his head. "Nah, I'm good. Bolin's been aching for one, but I simply can't. You know why."
Korra slowly nodded. It wasn't something he liked to discuss, and it had been the reason they went out to sea. They had been orphans, and when it got out that Mako was gay, he would have been a pariah at best. In Korra's crew, no one really cared, even if it was unusual. Bolin had simply been unwilling to leave his brother to fend for himself. "Alright. Take a break, Mako. You look tired. I'll take it from here."
Asami could barely feel her hands. Either that, or they were just hurting so badly that they had become numb, because the careening was really hard work. The ship had been tipped, and Asami was put on duty for cleaning the side of the hull, meaning she got to sit higher up.
The work itself was relatively straightforward. Small mussels would burrow their way into the hull of the ship, causing them eventually to drill all the way through and springing a leak. Then there were the barnacles and algae, latching on to the outside of the hull, slowing her down even more.
The job at hand was to get all those off, and then tar it over to make sure the hull was smooth again.
Problem was, these little fuckers (pardon the language) were pretty stuck, the tar smelled like death, and on top of everything else, she had to do it in the burning sun.
She was fairly certain that she would have basically been burned alive, had it not been for Korra. She had been gracious enough to buy her a hat, and she had also revealed that was what she did in the shop in Omashu when she wanted Asami to wait outside.
-"Sato!" the captain called from down on the beach. Asami leaned back, content at her current position far away from the keel. Should the ship fall, she'd at least be safe.
-"You've been up there for nearly two hours, you're gonna get a heat stroke. Get down here."
Asami looked down, seeing Korra standing below her. "I'm fine, don't worry about me."
The captain sighed. "Don't make me turn that into an order, Sato. Get down, now."
She sighed, and untied to rope holding her up. Mako had taught her some knots while they had been sailing, making sure she at least knew the basics. He seemed tough on the outside, but was a pretty nice guys overall.
Once back on the sand, she felt a surge of heat shoot through her, and that definitely wasn't from the sun.
Korra was down to her bindings, pants and boots, leaving most of her torso exposed. Her tanned skin looked even better than she had imagined, especially with the sheen of sweat covering her because of the heat and the hard work. This of course made her well-defined muscles and especially her abs look even better. She still had the bandana to keep her hair back, and possibly also to prevent a heat stroke herself. Asami's eyes lingered on the tribal band around her bicep, making the captain smile.
-"And you were surprised I managed to figure it out." The heiress felt herself flush, though that could very easily be concealed by the fact that she was hot. "Here," she said, handing her a large cup filled with water. "Now you're going to drink something, get in the shade, and get your pussy eaten out by the whores."
Asami looked up in surprise. "I thought you said..."
Korra laughed again, loud. "Good lord, how is it that you're still this gullible? You can pick two, and I have a pretty good idea which ones."
They made their way over to the captain's tent, since she had a private one. There was a table, chairs, and two hammocks serving as beds for the two of them. It wasn't much, but still better than sleeping with the crew. Korra flopped down in her own, and Asami decided it would be wise to follow her example.
-"You know, you might have this notion that I'm being unfair to you, but I don't want to be. Thing is, if you don't listen to me, you're forcing my hand. If I allow you to defy me, my crew is going to test me too, and I can't have that."
"Is that why you're making me work in the burning sun?"
"It's why I'm making you do the same work as the rest of the crew. You were the one not to come down for so long." Asami sighed, because that was true. "Contrary to what you might think, I definitely don't want you to work yourself to death on my watch. Not just because you're not worth very much that way, but also because... I like you."
This made Asami look up in surprise. "Are you being serious here?"
Korra slowly nodded. "I am. You went from never being touched by another man to nearly being raped twice in one week, and yet never let it get to you. Then I put you on work detail, making you do things you'd never otherwise do, and you never complained about it. Shows character and heart, and I respect that - a lot."
After that, it fell silent between them. Asami thought on her captain's words, and it made her feel appreciated. They were ultimately interrupted when Bolin entered the tent. "Captain? We need you out here for a moment."
Korra sighed and got up. "A mother's work..." she muttered under her breath, and it made Asami smile. "Sato, you take an hour at minimum. I'll drag you down from the hull myself if I see you out there before that again."
Asami smiled. "Aye, Captain." As she walked off, the heiress played with her new hat for a bit, a new sense of appreciation for her captain sprouting inside her.
It was a week of hard work, that much was certain. Keeling and careening the ship took a toll on the men, even if it was all for the greater good. Korra had ensured that there was always plenty of rum, food, and whores, trying to keep the crew as happy as possible.
Still, long hours in the burning sun meant that the crew was spent. She'd decided to take a few days off now that the ship was back in the water and the cargo and guns were back on board. Swimming, relaxing on the ship, the men were free to do as they pleased. Even going into town was allowed, just not all at once. They were split up into two shifts, making sure that there were always enough men on board to sail her if necessary.
Asami was completely through. Her hands were raw, every inch of skin that had been exposed was sunburned, and she smelled... well, like someone who hadn't had a proper bath in a week. Sure, she had dipped in the sea, far away from the crew, but still. The sea wasn't exactly a nice bath with lovely scented oils.
-"Sato," Korra said, drawing her attention from lounging on deck. Contrary to popular belief though, that didn't necessarily mean it was bad.
Asami looked up, a worried frown on her face. "Captain?"
Korra took a good sniff of her when she was close enough, and in spite of her graceful appearance, Asami smelled just as bad as the rest of the crew. "Walk with me," she said. They walked a bit inland, and when the captain was certain they were out of earshot of the crew, she turned around. "What you said yesterday, you still feel that way?"
The heiress quickly raked her mind before the light went on. "You mean about taking a proper bath? Absolutely."
Korra smiled. "Good. Given that you haven't complained at all over the past week, I think I should compensate slightly. I've worked you pretty hard, especially for someone who doesn't want to be here. So here's my proposition: there is a natural spring about two miles inland from here. Fresh water, very secluded. What do you say you join me there?"
"Count me in," Asami said without a second thought.
-"Good. Now don't worry, I've already been through your stuff and packed you clean clothes and such." Even though Asami was displeased, it did mean they could get underway sooner. The captain hadn't been kidding, it really was two miles to the springs. Once they got there though, it was stunning. They had to work their way through some thick underbrushes, and Korra was reluctant to draw her sword and cut them down, giving others the chance to disturb their peaceful moment.
-"Not bad, ey?" Korra said, a smug self-satisfaction in her voice.
It took a while before Asami found her voice again. "It... it's beautiful," she softly spoke, unable to make anything else of it.
The captain gingerly set on unpacking her backpack. "I brought us a few things, soap, clean undies, and of course, a bottle of rum." This was the first item she used, popping the cork and taking a gulp straight from the bottle. "Want some?" she asked, holding out the bottle.
"No, thanks," Asami said, throwing a dirty look at the bottle. Drinking rum from a small glass was one thing, but the way Korra was trying to kill that bottle in record time didn't even come close to that. Instead, she turned around, trying to enjoy the scenery a little bit more.
The springs themselves were walled on all sides by natural cliffs, save for one side that had been overgrown. There was a somewhat larger lake, as well as several smaller pools. On all sides though, there were all sorts of plants growing, ranging from fruiting bushes growing on the ground to the most stunning orchids lining the cliff faces.
When she turned around though, she got a big shock.
Korra had just finished undressing herself entirely, as she was dropping her bindings on her pile of discarded clothes. This sight was both endlessly appealing and frighteningly disturbing. Even though she had seen her captain plenty of times in just her bindings and a pair of pants, this was taking everything to a whole new level. Her breasts were firm and slightly larger than Asami had expected. There was a scar running from the top of the right one running down to a dark nipple, which wasn't really surprising, and neither was the half cog branded on her left pec. Unable to tear her gaze away, she followed the line down the middle of her abs over a scar at a slight angle reaching down to a roughly trimmed patch of black hair between her fantastically defined legs, both of which had scars on them.
-"Enjoying the show?" Korra's snide voice cut through the air, snapping Asami out of her daze and turning her bright red. "What's the matter, Sato?"
"I-I..." Asami stammered, unable to form a coherent thought. Most of her was too distracted to think about the implications this had. To be more precise, the wave of arousal washing over her as the result of seeing a woman so beautiful and yet so damaged. "Sorry," she ultimately muttered, turning around in embarrassment.
-"Fire Nation folk..." Korra muttered in a disappointing scowl before she got in the water. "Aaaaahhhh, that's more like it," she contently sighed. Asami turned around again, glad to see that the water was at least covering her captain up somewhat. "Are you just gonna stand there all day, or are you going to join me?"
This had her doubting. On the one hand, that pool looked amazing, and Asami was in desperate need of a wash. Not only did she smell horrible, but she couldn't remember the last time actually feeling this dirty. Back on Ember Island, she bathed every day, but out here, it was already down to once every three days, not counting the times she dipped in the sea.
On the other hand, she would have to take off all of her dirty clothes and get into the same spring as her captain. The choice between personal hygiene and shame was definitely a difficult one.
-"Sato, if you don't get in quick, I'm gonna be done soon, and then you either come back with me dirty or try to find your way back alone."
Asami took a deep breath. "Fine, but could you... turn around?" Stripping naked was one thing, but while someone was staring at her was a whole other thing.
-"Sure." Korra rolled over, leaning over the spring. "Though I don't know what you're concerned about, you don't have anything I do, outside of a few scars. Plus, I think you look good, you shouldn't be ashamed of your own body."
The heiress just let her talk, seeing how it would probably be easier than if she was interrupting. She quickly undressed herself, before dunking into the spring as well.
Unlike Korra though, her pale skin shone through the water, so she did use her hands to cover up her own modesty.
That being said, the spring was glorious. Asami now saw why Korra liked this place, because this water was the perfect temperature, and judging by its clarity, it was clean. On top of all that, at just the right depth, there was a ridge that functioned as a bench, letting her sink into the water to her collarbones.
Korra turned around again, smiling at the blush on Asami's face. "See, that wasn't so bad," she smirked and took another gulp from the bottle of rum. She held the bottle out to the heiress again, who realized it might be a good way to dull her sense of shame. Asami took a big gulp, the alcohol burning all the way as it sent down her throat. A couple of gulps later though, she was feeling a touch light-headed and didn't feel as awkward as she did before that she was naked in the pool with someone else.
Asami let herself sink into the pool, trying to rinse her hair out as well, but that was going to be more difficult.
-"Need some help there?" the captain asked, though without her trademark sarcastic sneer.
"You'd do that?"
Korra chuckled. "Sure, why not? You deserve a little compensation." She took the block of soap from beside the pool and motioned her to turn around, which Asami did.
Far more gentle than she had been expecting, Korra started washing her hair, very, very thoroughly. After a deep breath and another gulp of rum, Asami had built up enough courage to sate her curiosity. "Captain?"
"Can I ask you something personal?"
Korra chuckled again. "Now seems like an appropriate time for that, wouldn't you say?"
"Does it ever bother you, living this life?"
-"You mean being free, not being dependent on everyone, going and doing as I please? No, it doesn't bother me."
Asami sighed. "No, I mean... the killing, the bloodshed, the thievery, the fact that you're probably not going to live to see thirty, or ever have a marriage or children. Doesn't that bother you?"
The captain stopped brushing her hair. "Sato, I was a slave before all this. If you give me the choice to die a free woman at 30, or die in chains at 60, I'll always choose the former. You don't know what it's like to have your freedom taken like that. To be used and sold, as easily as one would a cow or a horse."
"Don't I? Then what am I doing here on your ship?"
Korra laughed. "You think this is slavery, because you have to work? Let me tell you, this is nothing like that. I have always given you three meals a day, proper shelter, protected you from my men and everyone else. If you were a slave, that little stunt you pulled in Omashu, you'd have been flogged for that. No way would you get to sleep in my cabin, you'd get the shittiest hammock in the bow of the ship, and you'd be eating the scraps. Most importantly, you know my endgame. You know that this is two, maybe three months at most, and do you know what happens then?"
"I get my life back."
-"A life where you're going to be sold off into a loveless marriage with a man twice your age, who you're going to despise. After he fucks you painfully in your bone-dry pussy, because you're gayer than me, he won't get you nice and wet, then you shit out a couple of kids. You'll spend the next 30 years of your life raising them, and finally, when you're old and wrinkled, sitting on a porch, having spent the last ten years trying to convince yourself it was worth it, you might just think back to that crazy pirate captain who had been on to something. That this life, hard and risky as it may be, offers the one thing that you can never have in your world: freedom. You can have sex with women and no one will care, get a tattoo and you'll be cheered on, drink and eat what you want and when you want it. Put it like that, and I'd choose that over your life any day."
The captain sat back on her own ridge and started washing her own hair. "You can wash it out."
Asami complied without speaking, because she was too busy mulling over what Korra had said. There was no way she could know about her father trying to marry her off to Iroh, even though it was extremely likely something like that was going to happen.
Even though she and Iroh got along fine in terms of making polite conversation, marrying him was an entirely different deal. It was possible, maybe even likely, that Korra was right and that it would end in a loveless marriage. Birthing lots of children also wasn't very appealing, given that her mother had died trying to give birth to her stillborn little brother, something that neither she nor her father ever entirely got over.
Then there was the issue of Asami's orientation. Iroh was fairly handsome, but Asami wasn't attracted to him in any way, given how that was mostly reserved for women on her end. Hell, just being in this spring with Korra had her wet in more ways than one, while even imagining Iroh with the best body ever left her dry. No way was that going to play out in her favor if she went back to the Fire Nation. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all.
This thought had her so surprised that she dunked under, accidentally breathing in a large gulp of water. It hurt badly to have it in her lungs and led to another unpleasant (or maybe pleasant) outcome.
-"Sato!" Korra yelled out, pulling her back above the water under her arms. "You okay there?"
Asami tried to speak but was coughing so badly that she couldn't. In response, Korra wrapped her arms around Asami's midsection, squeezing her stomach in tightly. The heiress coughed up most of the water she had breathed in but could still feel some left in there. "I'm okay," she wheezed, even though Korra wasn't the least bit convinced. The fact that she partially said this to get away from her captain's grasp and the very nice sensation of her firm breasts pressing into Asami's back was best left unsaid.
Even though Korra let her go and Asami went back to her shoulders into the water, she continued coughing, and Korra wasn't pleased. "There's still some water left in your lungs. Get out of the water."
The captain had already stood up again and pulled Asami out of the pool as well. She was too focused on the pain and what felt like coughing up her lungs to think about covering her modesty with her arms. The fact that this made Korra briefly raise two appreciative eyebrows, she missed as well.
Asami was laid down on her belly, and Korra pushed down on her back to squeeze the last of the water out. This worked, even though it was painful.
Once Asami stopped coughing, Korra finally got off her back again (literally) and wrapped herself in a towel, handing one to the heiress as well. "Thanks," she said.
-"You gonna be okay there?"
Asami sighed. "I think so. You really knew what to do."
-"I've had my experience with people breathing in water," she bitterly remarked. The captain looked up at the sun, trying to estimate the time. "We should be heading back. The crew will start wondering where we've been."
The heiress quietly nodded and started dressing herself again, this time simply turning her back to the captain. It could be a lot worse, and the fact that she had more rum than was good for her probably also had a lot to do with it.
The long walk back gave Asami the time she needed to think about the implication that had caused her to startle herself so badly that she breathed in the water in the first place: did she really want to go back?
Something people often forget, but throughout history, the most common cause of death among women was giving birth, especially the first few times they did so. This didn't really change until the Industrial Revolution when medicine became a real practice, leaving its more medieval techniques like bloodletting behind.
Also, and this might be more important to avoid flamewars in the comment section: I don't consider Asami's sexuality an 'issue'. In the context of the story and the homophobic worldviews of 17th century high-society however, it's only logical that she does. Like I said in previous chapters, the penalty for it in the Fire Nation here is death, which seems rather steep.
Chapter 5: The Chase
Korra was glad to be out at sea again. After the keeling, they had stuck around the Bay of Pigs at first and the town near it later so the men had easier access to more whores (they were simple creatures). But it had been a while since they were really sailing, and Korra couldn't help but notice that the Aurorawas easier to maneuver now.
Of course, 'easier' is a relative term, but still. She could come about further, and her speed was greater. All in all, she had complimented the men on a job well done.
The downside of this was that the men were restless. Korra was kind of making her way to Omashu so that she could gather some information on the merchants, see if there were any interesting prizes to be captured. Preferably one carrying coins instead of cargo, because getting to spend the booty directly is always good for morale.
-"SAIL!" the lookout cried out. "West of us!"
Korra rushed to the railing, spyglass already in her hand. Now came the difficult part: identifying the ship.
-"Got any ideas what it is?" Mako asked, standing beside her.
"Nope, but I sure hope it can be a prize. We need one of those, quite badly." Continuing to look as the ship got closer was the best way to try and find something. "Northern Tribe colors. South-eastbound, so chances are her hold is full of treasure."
Korra handed the spyglass off to her first mate, and thought about the order of things that needed to be done. The guns needed to be loaded. The sails shipped. Weapons handed out. Sato... needed to stay below decks, at least for now.
-"Fuck me..." Mako swore.
He handed the spyglass back to his captain. "Top sail, main mast. Look closely."
She did, and then her heart sank. "Red spot... It's the Equalist," she breathed. "All hands on deck!" the captain yelled. "Ship the top sails, we go full canvas! Mako, come about, heading south-south east!" There was some hesitation among the men, not sure what she was going for. "It theEqualist, and she's coming for us! We make for Omashu, NOW!"
Asami came on deck as well as she heard Korra yell. "What's going on?"
-"We have company, and unless we can outrun that ship over there, we're fucked," the captain said, gesturing to a ship in the distance. "Now get out of my way, I have work to do."
The heiress took Korra's spyglass from her hand, and looked over. There was a very distinct red circle on one of the sails, one that Asami, unfortunately, was familiar with. "Captain!"
-"Sato, now is not a good time!"
"Captain, I know that ship. They're here for me."
Korra stared at her incredulously. "How the hell..."
Asami sighed. "It's the Equalist, and Amon is her captain. Hides behind a mask. You have to fight him, because he's never going to give up."
At this, the captain pushed her forearm into Asami's throat, forcing her to lean back over the railing. "Sato, I don't know how you know all that, but you are going to tell me when I have the time. Right now, I have to prepare to outrun a ship, because even though he has twice the men and twice the guns, Amon has no friends in Omashu and I do. He's good, but he's not invincible. Now go to the sick bay and help prepare it for a fight. After you're done there, get to my cabin and stay out of everyone's way. That's an order, Sato."
With that, Korra paced away, yelling more orders as she did. It really was all hands on deck, because everyone was putting in overtime. Clearly, none of these men were stupid enough to think they could take on Amon alone.
Asami decided to follow Korra's orders, and made for the sick bay. It wasn't hard to prepare, and quickly, she could feel the ship lurching, making subtle course changes as Korra plotted the shortest route to Omashu. After about an hour, she went to the captain's cabin, where the waiting game began.
She had little experience with Amon, but knew enough that he was probably one of the only men her captain was afraid of. Either that, or she was smart enough to know not to mess with him.
A little while later, the doors flew open. "Alright, Sato. I have little time, lots to do, and the Equalist is gaining on us, so you better talk quickly."
"My father works with Amon," Asami admitted, and this was enough to capture Korra's full attention. "I only saw them together once, it's not a relationship he publicizes. He pays Amon for scouting ahead, escorts, sometimes even taking out other pirates, which is why I assume he doesn't have a lot of friends in Omashu."
-"That's right, he targeted us pirates, and that makes enemies. It does explain a lot, though," Korra sighed. "How'd he trail us?"
"Probably via messenger hawk. That's the quickest way to get a message to him."
Korra scoffed. "This is just brilliant. You didn't think to mention this earlier? That Amon would be hunting us?!"
"I didn't know!"
The captain stomped out of the cabin, but halted at the door, turning halfway back to face Asami. "You better hope that we can outrun him, because if he catches us, I'll kill you myself."
Asami felt like her feet were made of lead, because she was pretty certain that wasn't an idle threat.
Coming back up, Korra really hoped she wouldn't have to do what she just said. While it was true that she liked Asami, the least she could do if she was killed by Amon, was make sure that he'd lose as well. She liked her crew more.
But there was no time to think about that for now, because she was coming up to the quarterdeck again. "How's our tail?"
-"She's still gaining, Captain." Mako looked nervous. "I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but I think we might have to prepare to fight."
Korra sighed. "Mako, you know I trust these men to be capable of a fight, but not against that ship. It's suicide." She hesitated for a moment. "They're here for Sato. Maybe if we throw her overboard, they'll stop coming."
-"Do you really believe that? You know just as well as I do that Amon won't stop." Asami came up to the quarterdeck as well. "He's a horrible man, and none of us are going to benefit from doing that. I might have an idea."
The captain lowered her hand to the hilt of her sword. "Sato, you are getting dangerously close to being insubordinate. Get out of my way and out of my business."
Mako stepped between them. "Captain, she is a major prize. The men like you, but if you throw away a prize this big so that we can run away with our tail between our legs, I'm not sure you can hold on to your title. It's going to be mutiny. We should at least hear her out."
Korra took a step back, and looked at the Equalist, which was slowly becoming bigger. It probably couldn't hurt to hear her idea. "Fine."
-"When Amon and my father were talking, I heard them about the lack of armor on the ship. That was a while ago, but I don't think he could have fixed it in the meantime. You don't have to defeat Amon, you just have to cripple the ship. Then we can outrun her and make it to Omashu, where you have the advantage."
She thought for a moment. "Go on the offensive?" She turned to Mako. "What do you think?"
-"It's risky, but I don't see any other options."
The captain nodded. "Alright. Load the guns on the port side, don't roll them out yet. Mid-ship cannoniers load chain shot and aim for the mast, bow and stern gunners aim for the waterline."
Mako looked confused. "Captain? She's gonna come up on our starboard, we'd never get a shot!"
Korra just shot him a glare. "Do it."
With a sigh, her first mate turned to the crew. "Load the guns! Port side!" He continued repeating her orders, while Asami walked up closer to her.
-"What are you planning, Captain?"
Korra sighed. "The craziest stunt I've ever pulled. You better be right about this."
Soon, the guns were loaded, and the Equalist was drawing in closer, just like Mako predicted, on the starboard side of the Aurora.
-"Captain?" he asked.
She was doubting. The timing for this had to be perfect. Too soon, and Amon would have time to give them a full broadside. Too late, and they wouldn't line up properly. "Drop the starboard anchor," she said.
-"What?! You want to clubhaul with full canvas?!"
"I don't have time to argue! Do it!"
He sighed. "Drop the starboard anchor!"
They did, and the rope began to go down. Luckily, the sea wasn't too deep here, so this would work. Probably. "Roll out the guns!" Korra yelled, and her order was executed. "Brace!" They were at the end of their anchor rope, and with a violent jerk, the Aurora came to a halt. Because of her momentum, the ship started to bank heavily, but did start her full 180 degree turn.
Soon, they were lined up with the Equalist, who had also opened her gun ports, but they were still busy loading. For the briefest of moments, Korra saw eye to eye with the masked captain, seeing him standing on the quarterdeck of his ship.
"Ready on the guns!" It was a mad scramble to get everything ready, but it worked. "Ready!" So close. They were so close to being lined up. "FIRE! Fire all!"
With a deafening roar, the cannons unloaded their deadly cargo, right at the Equalist. They did significant damage, but the mast didn't fall. "Stern and mid-ship, load chain shot! Reload, reload! Aim for the mast!"
But then it happened. The guns on the Equalist opened fire as well, cannonballs tearing through the hull. "Prepare to board!" Korra heard someone yell over there.
"Mako, cut the anchor, get us underway!" He quickly cut the line, and the Aurora started moving again. It wasn't fast, but there was forward motion, and soon, the second volley let loose. Because they were prepared for it, they were moving quicker, and the Equalist wasn't ready to go just yet.
This one had more success. When the cannons stopped firing, Korra saw how the main mast began to fall. "Well, fuck me sideways, Sato was right..." she mumbled.
It had worked. They soon opened up a gap between them and the Equalist, which was good enough for Korra. Slowly, they circled back around to make course for Omashu again, avoiding Amon at all costs. There had been plenty of hits, but fortunately, most of the damage was only to the hull.
A quick inspection learned that they were only taking a drizzle of water, which was a fairly easy fix once she'd put Bolin on that. Asami actually had some medical knowledge, which was useful, because one of her crew had his leg ripped off by a cannonball.
Korra leaned on the railing of the quarterdeck when Mako came walking up to her. "What are we going to do?" he asked.
"Hope that the Waterbender is docked in Omashu. Captain Kai owes me for giving him the heads-up about Zaheer."
-"That's pretty thin, Captain. He has his girl on board, he'd be cautious about picking a fight with someone like Amon. Zaheer nearly killed him."
Korra sighed. "Aye, that's true. But Amon is after me, I'd only need him for deterrence. Two small ships are harder to fight than one big one." She looked down to the forecastle, where Asami was resting against the mast. "Our main advantage is that we have her."
-"A slim one," Mako pessimistically sighed. "She's not exactly a third ship to add to the fleet."
This made the captain chuckle. "No she's not, but if Amon really is working for Hiroshi Sato, she can be used as leverage. Put a pistol to her head and tell Amon to back off, or he goes back to his boss empty-handed."
He wasn't convinced, but gave in anyway. "Aye, Captain," he said before walking down to check on the repairs below decks.
Korra looked up again at the heiress sitting against the forward mast, clearly shaken from the whole ordeal. Or maybe it was just the threat she had made.
That would make sense, because for better or for worse, they were becoming closer. This really did make Korra wonder: would she be capable of doing it? It wasn't even the killing part, it was more that... Asami was her first friend, basically since she was taken from her home and forced into slavery. A few fellow slaves she got along with, but that never lasted very long for her, as either Korra herself was sold, or they were sold instead.
Aboard the ship, things were marginally better, but still not brilliant. Somehow, at every turn, she was still above her friends, because at the end of the day, she was still the captain.
And then Asami came along. A golden ticket, thrown into her lap out of the blue. Someone who, by all conventional measures, should hate her guts, but just didn't. She was too kind and compassionate to hate Korra, even though she was forcing her to stay here. It was even likely that Asami was attracted to her, and that that attraction was slowly becoming more than physical.
The captain got a strange sensation in her gut. Doubt.
For the first time in years, Korra doubted whether or not she could live up to her words.
For those who read it, the mention of Kai is indeed a little nod to words-with-dragons' Anchorverse.
Chapter 6: The Rhino
Korra knew that she was fairly safe now. They had reached Omashu without too many problems, in spite of the light damage done to the ship. Priority now was to get her back to full strength and mostly to prepare for a fight.
That was a week ago. She had made alliances with various ships, got a few feelers out there looking to see if any of them could get a read on where the Equalist made port. They had definitely sustained more damage, but it wouldn't cripple the ship beyond repair, especially when they were being backed - and presumably funded - by Hiroshi Sato.
The captain could also tell it was having an effect on Asami. After all, she was the one it was for, and she knew that they probably couldn't outwit Amon a second time.
All in all, Korra would have been quite content to stay in the port of Omashu, but the men were getting restless. The ship had been repaired, supplies had been stocked, there was plenty of gunpowder and shot on board, Korra had even hired some more crew. Instead of 35, there were now 45 men on her ship, which was quite a lot on such a small brig. This only made them more eager to get out there and capture a few ships, so Korra wasn't really left with much of a choice.
"What are our options?" she asked no one in particular.
Mako was the first one to speak up. "Well, I think our best chance is to go south. Amon wouldn't be stupid enough to follow us here, he needs a port to make proper repairs. With a ship as crippled as his, he wouldn't stand a chance against us."
-"There was a big slave auction yesterday in Senlin," Hakoda offered up. "There are bound to be some ships we can catch."
-"Slaves we can free, and there's bound to be some cargo as well," Bolin agreed. "It's worth a shot, captain."
"Aye," Korra said. "Set course, but keep your eyes peeled and your ears open. First whiff someone gets of the Equalist, I want to know about."
And so it went. It felt good to take the fully-repaired Aurora back out to sea, and with a bit more crew, it was easier to sail her than ever. Also, because sailing was hard work, the men were less likely to be rowdy because they were too tired to argue. Bolin and Hakoda had their hands full making sure that they kept the crew in line, because there were a few rivalries forming, but it was nothing that a drink of rum couldn't fix.
But Korra did have a serious problem. With more men on board, it also meant that she had to keep a closer eye on Asami and make sure nothing happened there. The men all just came from the shore, so with them having spent plenty of time in brothels, they weren't aching for some just yet, but the captain knew that would change at some point.
They had deliberately sailed away from the coast, this meant they could try and intercept the slave ships head on, giving them an advantage. The Aurora was by no means slow, but that was an edge they had over any potential prize, and therefore, an opportunity.
Sure enough, after about 5 days at sea, the lookout spotted something. "SAIL! Southwest of us!" Korra and Mako both made for the railing, looking through their spyglasses.
-"What do you think, Captain?"
"Hard to say at this distance. Raise Earth Kingdom colors. At least make it appear like we're traders."
-"Aye, Captain." He quickly repeated her orders, and they were carried out out of sight.
Asami came up onto the quarterdeck as well, seeing how breakfast was just done. "You're looking for slavers, aren't you?"
Korra stoically kept looking through her spyglass. "I'm looking for a good prize."
-"Don't bullshit me, Captain. You're a good liar, but you're not that good. We've been heading for Senlin since we left Omashu, and do you really think I don't know that's the slave-trading capital of the Earth Kingdom?"
This time, Korra actually put her spyglass down and stared Asami straight in the eyes. "Sato, you are in no position to judge me. How many times have slaves done your hair, cooked your food, helped you get dressed? They made the sugar you put in your tea and picked the grapes of the wine you drank. You may be against slavery, but you certainly profited from it more than you care to admit. If there is even a single slave on that ship for me to free, I will have done more for them than you have in your entire life. You know why I'm doing this, you know where I came from."
Asami hesitated for a moment. "You're making it sound like I did it all myself."
"Not to worry, you're not as evil as your father - yet."
This time, she actually went on the defensive. "My father is a decent man, far more so than you ever will be. You kill people like they mean nothing."
Korra didn't really know how to react to this. Was she really that naive? "Sato, let me tell you something: your father kills more people in a week than I have in my life. Just because he does it with a pen and I do it with a sword doesn't make him any better. At least I have the courage to look a man in the eye before I stab him in the heart, whereas your father just passes the order down the chain. Your family logo is branded on my chest and the scars of his chains are on my ankles, so I'm pretty certain I know what I'm talking about."
Asami stayed silent, mostly because she knew Korra wasn't making it up. Slaves died all the time, be it from being overworked in the fields or because of just miserable conditions on the ships.
"Now get out of my way, Sato. I have a ship to catch."
Catching up to the slow and sluggish slaver was easy, but there was a choice to make, namely when to raise the black pirate flag and make their true intentions known. Too soon, and they'd have to chase her. Too late, and the crew of the slaver would panic and fight.
They were close enough to read the name on the stern of the ship: the Rhino. When they were about to sail alongside her, Korra gave the order. "Raise the black," she told Mako.
-"Raise the black!"
The flag with the crossed cutlasses behind the skull wearing a blue bandana went up, and Korra felt her anxiety rise. She was watching the stern of the slaver, waiting to see what would happen. After a few tense moments, she smiled as they raised a white flag. "Prepare to board."
Securing the crew was easy, as they didn't put up any resistance, so the captain could quickly cross the gangplank as well. Korra smiled as she saw the confusion on the captain of the Rhino. "Not expecting a woman, huh?"
He raised an eyebrow. "You're the one in command?"
"Captain, before you start making remarks about that, think of your crew. Have you heard what happened to the Fire Lord Sozin?"
-"It disappeared. Only one crewmember survived, and even she's still missing."
The pirate captain's smile grew a little. "Who do you think made it disappear?" The fear in his eyes grew as he looked from Korra to the Aurora and back to Korra. "Captain, I promise you, you and your crew won't be harmed as long as you answer my questions truthfully and don't try anything incredibly stupid. We are here for your goods, not your lives. Do we have an agreement?"
Probably more out of fear than anything else, he nodded.
"Good. First question: what does your cargo consist of?" He hesitated, so Korra leaned in a little closer. "It'll take me a grand total of five minutes to work it out from your log, so you might as well cut out the middle man, so to speak."
-"Slaves, mostly," he gave in. "We have our orders, it wasn't my idea. There is some additional cargo."
Korra gently nodded. "Bolin, bring Asami over."
The bosun shot his brother a quizzical look but did comply. "Captain, which one of you has the keys to the slave hold?"
Asami didn't know why Bolin was suddenly bringing her over from the Aurora. She wasn't a fighter, and even if she was, the other ship surrendered without any fight. There was absolutely no reason for her to go over there.
Korra and Mako were waiting for her, along with a handful of pirates. "Follow me," the captain coldly said and went below decks.
They made their way to an unassuming door where they all stopped. The captain gave her first mate a simple nod, and he opened the door. Asami was nearly knocked of her feet by the stench of urine and excrement that wafted out, far worse than anything she had smelled before. And the crew quarters of the Aurora didn't exactly smell of roses either.
Korra and Mako seemed mostly unfazed by this. They gave their eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness and stepped in. The heiress sighed, knowing she was supposed to follow them, even if ever fiber of her being was telling her to not to enter. But in the end, there probably was no getting around it. She took one last deep breath of what could pass for fresh air and followed her captain.
It was even worse than she could imagine. Not just the smell, even though that was horrible, but mostly the sight that greeted her.
Stretched out before her were slaves. Dozens of them. All of them were chained up, both by their wrists and ankles, making sure they only had a minimum of moving space. This also meant they had to sit in their own filth, which explained the smell. And when her eyes adjusted to the darkness a little more, she could see that they were all naked, and all of them were branded with the same mark Korra bore on her chest.
They looked up at Korra, and Asami swore there was a glimmer of hope in all of their eyes. "Still believe your father is a decent man?" the captain asked.
Asami shook her head and walked on, not knowing what she was about to encounter.
Sitting among the others was a man with a woman pulled close to him, but the woman was sitting very still. She hadn't looked up at the people coming in, which was strange. But then, as the heiress looked closer, the pieces started to fall into place. She wasn't breathing, and after what felt like a long time, the man looked up with tears in his eyes. The woman was dead.
At this point, Asami felt sick. Violently so. She'd seen violence, but she had no idea that people were capable of something like this, capable of treating other human beings like they were less than cattle. She bolted out of the slave hold and back to the deck, making it just in time to the railing where she threw up into the sea. Korra was right. Her father was not the man she thought he was.
Korra saw how the heiress sprinted out of the hold, back up to the deck. She already suspected that Asami might be sick from what she'd see down here, so she made no effort to stop her. "Cut them loose," she told Mako and then went up to the deck again as well.
She found Asami leaning against the railing, exhausted from puking her guts out. "You were right," the heiress mumbled. "You were right all along."
The captain nodded. "I know, but now you know it too. If you want to help them, go back to the Aurora and help Bato prepare a decent meal for those poor souls. They're not slaves any longer." She held out her hand and pulled Asami back on her feet. "You're not like your father. You care."
Asami nodded. "Thanks." With that, she went back to the pirate ship and caught just a glimpse of the slaves pouring out into the sunken part of the lower deck, the crew of the slaver having been corralled on the forecastle to make room for them all.
Korra decided now was a good time to prepare her address. She waited until Mako and her men who freed the slaves came back onto the deck as well and nodded that they were all accounted for. "Everyone, listen up! From this moment on, you are no longer slaves." A loud cheer went up from the crowd, but Korra managed to silence them again by raising her hands. "There is one issue: we are far away from everything. This means that you'll have to sail this ship back to the port of Omashu, where you will be free to choose your own fate. Me and my men will take our share of the cargo, but you are not part of that. I'll leave Mako in charge of this ship," she said, pointing to her first mate who raised his hand. "He'll be your captain for the time being, along with a few of my men to make sure this ship sails smoothly. One week from now, when we make port, you will be free." More cheers came, and this time, Korra knew she wouldn't be able to silence them again.
She went over to Bolin instead, who was still standing guard over the officers of the Rhino. "Lock them up in the chains of the slaves. If the crew aren't willing to sail with slaves, put them in the hold as well. See how long they'll want to keep that up. Load the rest of the cargo on board the Aurora."
The bosun nodded. "You heard her! Lock them up!"
Korra smiled as she made her way back aboard her own ship. She'd made the world a better place, at least for one shipload of slaves.
Chapter 7: The Calm
The journey back to Omashu started out quite calm, much to Asami's surprise. Some of the slaves were in bad shape, and Korra decided it was best to have them aboard the Aurora, where there were better facilities to help them recover. There were also a few that wanted off the Rhino, so Korra let them and took them in her own ship. To even it out, some of the pirates were tasked with teaching the former slaves how to sail, including Mako to serve as the slaver's captain for the time being.
Asami expected them to clash, but miraculously, nothing noteworthy really happened. There was a little bit of friction in the crew, but it was ironed out soon enough. Heck, there was some rotation in the crew anyway, so it didn't really matter that there were a few new members.
Over dinner, she watched as both the original crew and the former slaves laughed and drank together, almost like they'd known each other for years. They swapped stories of what had happened to them, fights they fought, women they bedded. That most of them were either lies or wildly exaggerated didn't really matter.
Then her eye fell on the captain again, who simply sat among the men, laughing and drinking with them. The longer she was here, the more she realized that her preconceived notion of pirates being blood-thirsty savages solely focused on gold was simply wrong. The way these men freed those slaves and cared for them, sometimes literally taking the clothes from their backs so they could be covered as well showed a display that made Asami question who the savages really were.
This extended even more to her captain, who was leading the whole operation in an effort to make it work. Of course, Korra was more invested in this than pretty much anyone aboard the ship, but she did risk it, and she didn't gain anything from it.
Then of course there was the matter of her father. What Korra had shown her Asami knew to just be the tip of the iceberg. She knew conditions aboard slave ships weren't brilliant, but this was far beyond anything she had imagined. The Rhino had set off from Senlin five days before she was seized, and in that time, 11 of 93 slaves aboard had already died. That's how poor living conditions were.
And what kept playing through her mind was that it was her father who was responsible for all this suffering. She'd hear him say over and over that the slaves were less than human, while she'd stared evidence to the contrary in the face, even before all of this. Being captured by Korra emphasized her earlier thoughts, because she'd been a slave, and was probably more human than her father was.
-"You know, you're welcome to join her," Bolin remarked.
The heiress was startled by this. She hadn't realized she'd been lost in her own thoughts for so long. "I'm sorry, what was that?"
-"The captain, it's no secret that you're becoming closer. Even if you started out as a hostage... You became more than that a long time ago."
"You really think so?"
Bolin slowly nodded. "Aye. I haven't seen her let anyone get close to her like you are. Either that means you are getting under her skin, which is unlikely, or it means that she cares about you."
"Then what was that business with the slaves about? Taking me to the slave hold, which she knew would hit me hard."
-"I don't know. But I do know that Korra doesn't do things randomly. Of course, if you really want to find out, there's a very simple way to do that: ask her."
Asami chuckled, because that was true. "Alright, I'll ask her after dinner."
She did just that, and resigned herself to do the washing up. After she was done and Bato finally said she could go, Asami found the captain standing on the quarterdeck, watching out over the ocean under a setting sun. "Hey, Captain," she started.
-"Sato," she smiled back. "Was a good dinner, by the way. Food's been better since you're here."
The heiress did feel a little flattered. "Thanks. Do you... have a minute? I kind of want to ask you something - alone."
Korra shared a knowing look with Hakoda, who nodded. It was kind of amazing to see the shorthand between those two unfold. "Alright, come on." She went all the way to the bow of the ship, and leaned against the sprite. "I always love it here. You can see everything that's coming, and yet no one can sneak up on you here."
Asami chuckled. "Aye, I suppose that's true." It was amazing how easily she took that from the pirates, even though in fairness, the groundwork for that had already been laid on the journey from the Fire Nation to the Earth Kingdom.
-"So what's on your mind?"
The heiress sighed. "I was just wondering... Why bring me aboard the Rhino?"
Korra didn't answer immediately. She took of her hat and sat it down beside her, and adjusted her bandana. "Denial is part of human nature. Every single one of us will take comforting lies over unpleasant truths, even if we know we're being lied to. The only way to fix that is to make people see the truth. That's what I did."
"All of that might be true, but that still doesn't explain the 'why' of it all."
The captain smiled. "You've been fed lies your whole life, Asami. Now, you are smart enough to see that they were lies, but you didn't know what to replace them with. You wouldn't defend your father the way you did if you knew the truth about how slaves are being treated. I showed you his true colors. You might not like it, you might even hate me for it, but I think it's important that you know what's really going on."
This made Asami think. Korra was right, she'd never really got in-depth about figuring out what really went on aboard the slave ships, and that was in no small part because she didn't want to know. Her father told her conditions were fine, and that the slaves were used to walking around naked. This had always irked her, because weren't they from the South Pole, where it's really cold?
It was all just a lie, one more on the mountain that Asami had never really realized the size of, until Korra dragged her down to the bottom and showed her.
Her contemplating made her miss that the captain removed one of her boots to show her bare ankle. "This is what being bound in a ship will do to you," she said, drawing Asami's attention again. She looked down, surprised to see the scar all the way around her ankle. "Those people we rescued were lucky, because they were only shackled for five days. I was shackled for a month." She slipped her boot back on.
"I know it's bad, Korra, I've always known that. I just never knew it was this bad." Asami was surprised to hear herself say it this way. She almost never used the captain's name. What was even more surprising was that she liked the way it rolled off the tongue.
Her face remained remarkably neutral. "And that's why I showed you. Part of me wishes I hadn't, because I can hear what you're up to at night. You barely slept over the past two days, and when you did, you woke up again in a cold sweat. Yes, I heard that all."
The heiress sighed, because it was true. She hoped Korra wouldn't notice, but how could she not? There was only a few feet of space between their beds, of course she had. "What are you saying?"
Korra sighed as well. "I'm saying you shouldn't blame yourself. You may be a part of the system, but I have a sneaking suspicion you think I'm doing the right thing."
"The right thing, yes, but also the wrong way. What about the crew of the ship? They're in chains now."
At this, a slight smirk broke over the captain's face. "The crew has a choice: accept that there is no such thing white supremacy, or spend the rest of their time aboard in chains. Easy one if you ask me."
"And the officers?"
-"Officers are the ones I really hold responsible. They are capable of things you couldn't even imagine." The way she said it made Asami realize that there was an undertone of bitterness in her voice, like she had experience with that. Would make sense, seeing how Korra had been a slave. It also made her get her defenses back up. "Was that it?"
Asami sighed. "Aye, that...that was it."
Korra nodded. "Fine. When you want to go to bed, come find me again, yes? I have something that might help you sleep."
The heiress nodded, which was good enough for Korra, who walked off again, back to the quarter deck.
Asami decided to stay behind for a little bit. She had the best view on the ship here, apart from maybe one the yardarm of the highest sail, but she'd pass for that.
This is also gave her time to think. At first, Korra had been rather sarcastic about being Asami's new best friend, but the longer they sailed together, the more it was starting to feel like a reality. Sure, Korra was rude, loud, brash, and sometimes downright mean to her. But on the other hand, she was also caring, nurturing, and it felt more and more like she wouldn't let any harm befall her. There was an argument to be made that Korra deliberately made her uncomfortable, but on the other hand, she didn't do it just for the fun of it. Whether Asami wanted it or not, Korra was making her a better person.
But of course, there was the elephant in the room. When Asami first was brought aboard the Aurora, it didn't take her very long to see how attractive she physically was, but that attraction might have been extending beyond the physical. Korra was rough around the edges, sure, but deep down, she was a good person, who cared about those she was responsible for.
That, and what she'd said just before she caught the Rhino kept ringing through Asami's head. Her father had killed more people than they could count, and he was considered a model citizen. Hell, what she knew about her prospective fiancé Iroh was that he was a war hero, probably having more blood on his hands than Korra. And who decides that between those three people with body counts, there is only one villain?
She kept on the issue a little while longer, before she decided it was probably better to go to bed soon. Maybe a little more reading before then, because Korra coming in after her was sure to wake her up.
This also meant she could take her up on that offer, even though Asami had a sneaking suspicion it was just a swig of rum and then calling it a nightcap. Some things don't really change.
Korra smiled as she saw Asami walking down the deck again. It had taken her longer than she'd expected, even though it did mean Korra could neatly oversee the ship getting ready for the night without any distractions. Because dammit, Asami was distracting, and she started to notice that others were picking up on it. Bolin had already asked her what she really thought of the heiress, and Korra basically shrugged him off. Fine up to a certain point, but there was only so long she could keep it up. Asami was beautiful, that much was certain, and she did like her. The question was, did she like-like her?
Answering it would probably have to wait, though, since she was coming up to the quarterdeck. "Hey, Captain," Asami smiled. "I was thinking of going to bed soon, if you still want to give me that sleeping aid you were talking about."
"Just a nightcap," Korra smiled.
-"I knew it."
They both chuckled. "I know it's nothing special, but..." She didn't get to finish that sentence.
-"LOOK OUT!" someone shouted from the rigging.
Korra only had moments to respond. She looked up and saw that the gaff of the brig sail had come loose and was now racing down the mast, right towards the quarterdeck. And her first instinct was to grab Asami by the waist and push her down the short stairs to the upper deck. Korra used her own body as a cushion to make sure the heiress wasn't hurt, while the gaff crashed down onto the spot where they had been standing just a moment earlier.
It was clear that Asami had no idea what just happened, and Korra quickly brushed her hair out of her face so that she could look her in the eyes. "Are you okay?"
The heiress was still a little dazed. "I... I'm fine, I think."
It was about then that the captain realized how close they really were. Both of them were breathing heavily, and she could feel Asami's breath streaking over her chin. A blush slowly crept over her face as she realized too what a compromising position they were in, and then scrambled to get up again. "Thanks for the save," she mumbled, clearly still a little embarrassed.
"Don't mention it," Korra replied as Asami pulled her to her feet as well. She was staring right into Asami's massive green eyes, and damn, what a pair of beautiful eyes that was.
It wasn't until someone else running to see if there was anyone else under the sail that Korra realized she had to resume her role as captain again. "Is everyone accounted for?!" She was fairly certain there was no one standing behind her when the gaff came down, but it couldn't hurt to check.
-"No one under here, Captain," the sailor who just ran past her said.
"Good." She now turned her attention to the three men in the rigging. "WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT?! GET YOUR FUCKING ASSES DOWN HERE, NOW!" Those three were in for one hell of a night. Literally.
Soon enough, they were standing in front of her, all with their heads bowed. Two of them were former slaves, and only one of them was of her own crew. "What am I going to do with you?" she asked out loud.
-"We f-fucked up, Captain, I know we d-did," her own crewmember said, obviously scared out of his mind. Jaya, Korra believed his name to be.
"'Fucked up'?" she repeated, almost amazed that he put it so casually. "You could have killed me, you could have killed Sato! 'Fucked up' doesn't even begin to cover it, you moron!" Strangely enough, she felt like it was worse that Asami had been put in danger than that she was. Korra had chosen this life, Asami was forced to be here. At least, that's how she justified it to herself in order to avoid facing a reality she didn't want to face just yet. "Jaya, you have one chance. What were you doing up there?"
-"I-I was trying to teach them how t-to rig a s-ship, Captain. P-please, it was my fault!"
Korra glared at him. "Just you with two tobacco farmers? You're an idiot, you all are. Ten lashes each should teach you a lesson."
-"Captain!" Asami protested.
"Anything to say, Sato?"
It was clear that the heiress suddenly felt a little nervous, because the eyes of the entire crew were on her now, and her she was, openly speaking out against the captain. "I was at risk just as much, but he made a mistake. Sleep on it for the night, get the emotions out of your system. If you still feel the same way in the morning, I won't protest again."
"The severity of a mistake is determined by the size of its consequences."
-"And in the end, the worst part is that I have a bruised wrist and your ship is damaged. Corporeal seems like a bit much."
Korra thought on it for a moment, feeling her resolve slowly slipping. Why was she so unable to just do what she wanted when those green eyes were piercing her worse than the sharpest blade? "Fine. You two, it's your lucky day," she said, pointing to the former slaves. "You get to spend the night in the brig while I think it over. Jaya, you're out of luck, because you should have known better. Ten lashes."
Asami decided to go below deck, she didn't want to see this. The captain appointed Bolin to lash Jaya, which was a relatively mild choice. If she'd told Tahno to do it, ten lashes would have put him out of commission for a month.
It wasn't a pleasant sight, but Korra had to be there to see it. After it was over, she sent him down to the medical bay to get his wounds treated, but they were definitely going to scar.
The captain soon went to check on the state of the sail, which Hakoda and a few others had taken a head-start in clearing up. "What's the damage?" she asked.
-"Well, there are a few broken planks in the deck, that's going to be an easy fix. The gaff, however, I don't think we can use that again. We're not too far from Omashu, we can make do without for the time being."
Korra sighed. "It's going to hold us back at least a day. Alright, clear up the sail and repair the deck, we'll clear up the rest in the morning. Hail the Rhino, I want to talk to Mako first thing in the morning."
"I'm going to turn in for the night, you got this, right?"
Hakoda smiled. "Of course. Good night, Captain."
Korra went to her cabin as well, where she found Asami sitting at her desk with a small carafe of wine and a cup to sip out of. "You had to, didn't you?" she quietly asked.
"I did," the captain sighed, and slumped down in her chair before pulling a bottle of rum from a drawer, not even bothering to put it in a cup. "I can't appear weak in front of my crew. He made a mistake that nearly cost you and me our lives, that's something I can't just give him a stern lecture for and expect everything to be okay. He could have and should have seen that it was a disaster waiting to happen, and that's what he got punished for."
The heiress sighed and took another sip of wine. "What about the slaves?"
"You may have been right about them. I'll let them off with a few more days in the brig. They didn't know what they were doing, and now they have all the time in the world to think about what they did wrong."
Asami slowly nodded. "That's fair enough." When she'd finished her wine, she stood up again. "I'm going to sleep now. Was this your idea of a nightcap?"
"Few things better than red wine," Korra smiled. She watched as Asami stripped out of her boots, waistcoat, and to the captain's surprise, pants. Usually she kept those on, but not this time. Maybe it was the alcohol in her system. Whatever the case though, she looked amazing in the soft candlelight, and with only her tunic covering her up. It was a bit on the long side, reaching down to the top of her thighs, and gave Korra another glimpse of those mile-long legs.
But soon enough, Asami was under the sheet, and Korra decided to make for her own bed, stripping down to just her underwear for the night as usual.
-"Good night, Captain," she heard the heiress say.
"Good night, Asami," she responded as she blew out the last candle. It was out before she even realized it, and truth be told, it had Korra a little shocked. She'd never used her first name, and yet, it felt so natural.
This also brought her back to the thoughts she was having earlier. She wasn't falling for Asami, right? That would be stupid. As well as pointless, given how it was maximum one month more with her, and then Hiroshi Sato would be in Omashu for the exchange. She'd be back on her way to the Fire Nation, and Korra would have her mother back. Everyone wins.
She was probably just horny, and Asami was by far the most attractive person on this ship. Well, that was hardly fair, seeing how she was the only other woman on this ship and neither of them were particularly keen on men. Once they'd get to Omashu, she'd fix that.
"Oh, fuck that's good," Korra breathed. She grabbed on to the mass of black hair between her legs, pressing her down a little harder. That tongue of hers was so damn talented.
-"Hmm, Captain, who knew that you'd taste so good?"
Korra looked down and was met with a pair of twinkling green eyes. "You just keep doing what you were doing," she breathed, because she was close.
She did, and the captain could feel her tongue running circles around her clit, eager lips sucking on it. At this rate, it wouldn't be long before she'd climax.
At least, she thought it'd be that easy. The door swung open, and a surprised voice came from it. "Captain, I... What the fuck?!"
Earlier that day...
"Are you sure about this?" Asami asked, not entirely convinced that this was a good idea.
-"Sato, I'm sorry, but I can't go with you again. There's too much to prepare for, and I still have to oversee fixing the new gaff on the brig sail, which means I don't have time to take you shopping."
The heiress scoffed. "Captain, I have been trapped on this ship for four weeks straight now. Is it too much to ask that I want to set foot on dry land for three goddamn minutes?"
Hearing Asami swear made Korra smile. One can only be around pirates for so long without picking up a few of their bad habits, and swearing was the easiest one. Though in fairness, she was starting to get adjusted to their drinking as well. "No, of course it isn't. It's just that I can't go with you, and you remember what happened the last time I left you alone in Omashu for three minutes."
Asami sighed, because that was true. "But that's exactly why I'm asking you to come with me."
-"Just go ask Mako and Bolin. They're going ashore for a few errands, I'm sure you can convince them to take you with them."
"But I don't..." She hesitated. Should she really say this?
Korra raised an eyebrow. "You don't trust them? Sato, they may be pirates, but both of them command tremendous respect from me and my men. I would trust them with my life, and so should you. Besides, half of them wouldn't even be interested in you."
"They what now?"
This just made the captain smile more. "This ship is filled with outcasts. Did you really think you and I are the only ones in our particular category?" Asami didn't answer, because she didn't know what to say to that. Sodomy between women was generally frowned upon, but between men was far worse all over the world. Small wonder one of them would seek refuge on a pirate ship. "Just go ask them, Sato. As long as you don't drag them around for too long, you'll be fine."
Korra turned back to the charts she was studying, and Asami realized that meant this conversation was over. She went back to the deck, where it was busy as usual. Some of the men had gone ashore, but there was also loading and unloading going on, men preparing the ship for either a long journey or a heavy battle. She looked over to the Rhino, which was anchored fairly close. It looked like the same thing was going on there.
The shoreline was so close. She could probably even swim that distance, even though she wasn't planning on trying. Asami was not one to get seasick quickly, but after so long of being on nothing but a ship that even in the calmest of seas rocked back and forth a little bit, she really wanted to feel solid ground beneath her feet again.
On the far side, she saw Bolin and Mako preparing a longboat for launch. "Guys!" she called out, and they both looked up.
-"What's going on, Sato?" Mako asked when she was a little closer.
"Well, I kind of wanted to ask you if I could go ashore with you. Captain's busy, and I really want to get off this tub."
The brothers both chuckled. "Don't let her hear you say it like that," Bolin remarked. "But sure, you can come. Three minutes, then we're ready."
Asami decided to use the time by quickly fetching her small purse of coins (Korra had insisted that she was a part of the crew for he time being and given her half a share as well) and her hat, making it at least look like she'd fit in.
Just as she wanted to go out again, Korra appeared in the doorway. "Did they agree?"
"They did, and were about to launch, actually, so I better get going."
-"Hold on just a second," she said, walking back into her cabin, over to the weapon closet.
The heiress wasn't convinced. "Umm, Captain, do we have time for this? Plus, remember what happened the last time you gave me a pistol?"
-"Of course I do, which is why you aren't getting a pistol again." She turned around, this time holding a brown leather belt with a sheathed dagger on it. "This is much easier to use. Come here."
A little reluctantly, Asami let her clasp the broad belt low around her waist, with the brass buckle in the middle. It actually looked pretty good. "Alright, now I really have to go," she said. "But thanks."
-"I'll walk you out, I actually have something to ask Bolin." When they got outside again, Korra soon pulled him aside, and just before Asami went over the railing and into the longboat, she saw how the captain whispered a few things into his ear. He was clearly surprised by it but did agree after she gave him an enticing look.
The bosun soon climbed into the longboat as well and took an awe, just like his brother. "What was that about?" Asami asked, quite curious.
-"Oh, she just wanted me to do her a small favor."
-"Relax, it's no biggie," Korra called down from the railing with a big smile on her face. "And Sato, remember: if it all goes to hell again, stab 'em with the pointy end."
"Yeah, thanks," Asami replied. Not something she really wanted to be reminded of.
The journey over to the shore was quick enough, and stepping back onto dry land was weird at first. She'd become so used to the floor rocking a little bit that her head started spinning when the ground suddenly stopped moving. "Whoa."
-"Still gets me everytime," Bolin chuckled. "Don't worry, it's not something you'll ever get used to."
"Hardly comforting," the heiress remarked while leaning against a post. Very kindly, the brothers gave her a minute to get her equilibrium going again, and it soon felt great to be back on dry land.
Mako was the first one to speak up. "Alright, couple of things to do here, and I think it's best if we split up. Bo, I'm guessing you want the whorehouse."
-"Well, since you're offering..."
They both chuckled, and Asami suddenly felt a little worried. She'd been pretty unomfortable there last time around and got confronted by Korra about her 'preferences' directly after stepping inside. (In fairness, Mako and Bolin were less likely to notice by virtue of being men, but still.) "Sato, which would you rather do: messenger post or whorehouse?"
"Definitely messenger post," she said without hesitation.
-"Your call," Mako shrugged. "Bo, we'll pick you up there when we're done for the supplies. Let's go." They went their seperate ways, and Asami noticed that walking around Omashu with Mako wasn't quite the same as with Korra. Still, he was big and broad and they were both armed, so no one would dare to do something. On the other hand, everyone here was armed, so that advantage was gone.
They reached the messenger hawk post without any trouble though, and Mako went for it. "Any messages for the Aurora?"
-"Yes, a couple," the man behind the desk said while eyeing them both up. "Wait a minute..." he mumbled, looking at the heiress. "Are you Asami Sato?"
She suddenly felt a little nervous. "I am, why?" From the corner of her eye, she could see Mako's hand inconspicuously resting on the handle of his own dagger.
-"Because there's a message for you among them. I thought it was strange, seeing such a high-profile name on them, but that explains." He turned to the rack behind him, pulled out a stack of letters, and handed a rolled up one to Asami. "This came in just yesterday, so you haven't missed anything."
She smiled. "Thank you."
Mako placed two gold pieces on the counter. "Yes, thank you."
When she took a close look, she recognized her father's seal in the wax rolling the paper up, so it was definitely from him.
"It's from my father," she said in amazement.
-"Well, go on then, read it," Mako egged her on, almost just as curious as she was.
With shaking hands, she broke the seal and unrolled the letter.
Please let your captors know that I have found the slave they asked for and the money they asked me to bring. I am currently on my way to the port of Omashu on a merchant ship with everything. I am sorry that I couldn't send a message to you sooner, but the captain told me to wait because we weren't within the range of a messenger hawk. He also told me that we are about three weeks sailing from Omashu, so it won't be too long now. I hope that you are well and that they treat you fairly, and that you can hold on for these last few weeks.
It was finally tangible. Her father was coming, and she was going to go home again. It made Asami go entirely lightheaded, and she staggered over to a nearby box to sit down on.
-"You okay there, Asami?" Mako asked.
"Yeah..." she muttered after a while. "He's finally coming. We got to get back to the ship and tell Korra."
He didn't seem convinced. "Wait, how long does he say?"
"Three weeks sailing."
-"Then we have absolutely no rush, we still have to get some supplies. Don't worry about telling the captain just yet, it'll still be news tonight." He held out his hand and pulled Asami back to her feet. "Come on. We have to get Bolin first, then we can do the rest."
Asami raised an eyebrow. "I thought he went to the whores? Is he really that fast?"
Mako chuckled. "No, he's not, but his visits there are of a more... personal nature. You'll catch on. Let's go."
Soon enough, they came up to what Asami recognized as Kya's brothel, and much to her chagrin, they had to go inside. She was kind of expecting them to have to go around knocking on the doors in the hope to find Bolin, but it was much easier than that. As it turned out, he was simply sitting in a corner with one of the girls on his lap, while he was caressing her and exchanging sweet little kisses. Were it not for their surroundings, Asami might have found it endearing.
Mako, however, didn't seem to have time for this. He paced over to his brother and abruptly cut him off. "Let's go, loverboy," he said. "Asami and I got the mail, now we just have to go get supplies."
Bolin groaned. "Fine... Just give me a minute, okay?"
-"Make it quick."
Asami followed Mako, Bolin, and much to her surprise, the whore out onto the streets, who, on closer inspection, was probably a few years younger than she was. Definitely cute, with her short hair, big green eyes and small build, but her profession was unmistakable, given how low her cleavage was going, her shoulders were exposed by her dress, which was only being held up by her corset, and most scandalous of all, the fact that the front of her dress was raised high enough to expose her bare thighs over her garters. If she was in the Fire Nation, she'd probably be arrested for indecent exposure.
She and Bolin walked a few paces away, while Mako and Asami hung back. "Say, what is the deal between them? They seem so...clingy."
The first mate rolled his eyes. "Bolin is probably not the only sailor here stupid enough to fall in love with a whore. However, he is the only one stupid enough to actually follow it through. So they are in a 'relationship'," he said, making air quotations, "but she is still whoring herself out in order to make some money because Bolin is out at sea with us most of the time. But they claim it's true love," Mako said, looking ready to throw up as he concluded his story.
Actually, the heiress found it a little sweet. Naïve, sure, but the way they looked right now, they still had an air of innocence about them. Soon though, they split, and again, the whore surprised Asami, because she walked away from the brothel rather than inside. "Where is she going?"
-"Errand," Bolin shrugged. "Speaking of which, any mail for me?"
-"Nope," Mako answered. "And we should get going if we want to collect all the supplies and make it back to the Aurora in time."
This actually went down fairly smoothly. The brothers knew exactly what they needed and where to buy everything, leaving them with enough time to do some shopping for Asami. She kind of wanted to buy a replacement for her burgundy waistcoat, as it was getting kind of rancid. In the end, they came across a leather shop, and she bought herself a leather corset that went under her breasts, but straps that went over her shoulders. It looked good on her and would probably be much easier to wash grime off when it would get on. There wasn't really an 'if' to that one.
After a few hours though, Mako and Bolin decided to get a quick drink in one of the taverns, where Asami actually joined them for a small ale.
Since they had spent the past few months in quite close quarters, Asami had learnt to appreciate the brothers. They were nice and polite enough that having a normal conversation with them was possible. Of course, she did mention to Bolin as well that her father had finally written to them, but what she didn't know was how she would approach him after everything Korra had shown her. She decided to keep this concern to herself for now, but it was definitely something to think about.
Soon though, it was time to go back to the ship, because dinner would soon be starting. Asami had smoothed things over with Bato for the night, because most men wouldn't eat on the ship anyway, so there was no guilt there. She'd still be there to help him clean up, which was for the best.
Strangely enough, she wasn't dreading to get back aboard the Aurora. It had sort of become her home over the past few months. She knew what the structure was like, the weak spots, the best spots to relax, where the good shade was, all that stuff. Even so, she had picked up quite a tan over the past few months, in spite of Korra's clothing tips with hats and full sleeves. That would take a while to get rid of again.
When Asami stepped back onto the deck, she offered to help Mako and Bolin haul the longboat back on board, but they waved her off. "We got this," Mako said. "You go find Korra and inform her of the letter."
"Right, thanks for the ride." She did as he said and decided to start her search in the Captain's cabin, which was the most likely place for Korra to be.
But when she swung the door open, the heiress got the shock of her life. "Captain, I... What the fuck?!"
Laying before her on her cot, was the captain, stark naked, with a woman between her legs, currently pleasuring her, even though she pulled away when she heard Asami.
Korra groaned as she let her head fall back on the pillow. "Christ, Sato, never heard of knocking?"
"I've been living in here for the past two months! Who the fuck is that?!"
The captain sighed. "Asami, Opal, Opal, Asami." Opal rolled over, caring even less about her full nudity than Korra did. "Hey," she waved.
It took the heiress a moment to realize it, but Opal was the whore Bolin had been talking to earlier. That's when the penny dropped. "Since when are you fucking whores? I thought you were busy! And where is your modesty?!" she yelled, turning around again so she wouldn't have to face the two naked (and absolutely gorgeous) women.
-"I was busy," Korra defended herself. "Spent all day hard at work and figured I deserved a little something for my efforts. Besides, you know I have no modesty and I'm paying her to be naked," she remarked, gesturing to Opal. "Now, we were kind of in the middle of something, so either join in or get out."
Asami could hardly believe the shamelessness of the captain's words. If there was anything Korra knew, it was how to get her riled up. With a sigh, she left, because the cabin suddenly felt far too small. Her head was swimming with emotions right now, and most worrying of all, not all of them were bad.
Korra smiled as she watched the heiress stomp out of her cabin, slamming the door shut behind her. An unwelcome interruption, and definitely at a time when she didn't need something like that.
-"What's her problem?" Opal asked as she watched her leave as well.
The captain shrugged. "She's a little tense, that's all." Understatement of the century, really, but it was the best she could come up with without being flat-out mean.
The whore chuckled. "Does she need to have her pussy eaten out as well?"
"Needs to? Absolutely. Wants to? Probably not," Korra laughed. "Don't think you're gonna have much business with her."
Opal crawled her way back up the captain's body, tracing circles around her nipple and pressing a quick kiss on her lips. "Well, in that case... Shall I just continue here?"
"Aye, good idea." Korra really tried not to think too much about it and just enjoy the moment, but something was stopping her. Here she was, a naked girl, cute as a button, between her legs, and yet her mind was outside. Asami hadn't just looked angry, she was also hurt, and if her people skills were any good, Korra thought there may have even been a hint of jealousy in there.
She gasped at the sensation of Opal slipping a couple of fingers inside her, but it was a physical reaction, not an emotional one. Korra couldn't help but wonder if it would feel better if it were Asami's long, slender fingers instead of Opal's shorter ones. Asami's lips instead of Opal's. Asami's silky smooth skin against her own. Asami, Asami, Asami.
With a loud groan, Korra sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed, ripping herself free from Opal. "Korra? Are you okay?"
"Get out," she bluntly said.
-"Captain?" Opal actually looked a little hurt by this.
"I'm sorry," Korra quickly apologized as she realized her mistake. "We can't do this now. You just get dressed again. Money is on the table."
The whore visibly hesitated, and she lingered on the bed. "What's going on with you?"
This wasn't working. Opal clearly wasn't in a rush to get out, so Korra decided to do it herself. "Nothing that concerns you." Not feeling like taking her time dressing, she quickly slipped into a loose tunic she had laying around, a pair of pants, and her boots. "Take your time with Bolin, he's back on the ship."
She walked back onto the deck, blinking from the bright sunlight. Her first thought was looking around until she found Asami, but when she did, she immediately turned away again. The heiress was standing on the forecastle, staring out over the bay. Deciding it would be best to let the emotions die down for a bit, Korra took it upon herself to climb into the rigging and check the fixes of the new gaff.
It was the biggest lie of them all, of course. She just needed something to keep herself occupied with until Asami was ready to talk.
Asami's head was reeling with conflicting thoughts. Walking in on Korra like that was unexpected to say the least but not entirely unsurprising. She knew the captain was sharing her bed with whores, the stories told by the crew had made that abundantly clear. Still not something she needed to see for herself though.
It also brought up questions about Bolin. It was fairly obvious Korra had asked him to send Opal over, but why? Was it to rub his nose in it? Sharing is caring? Bolin may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but even he would be smart enough to figure out that Korra wouldn't send for a whore to come out onto the ship to play a really exciting game of Pai Sho.
Of course, most of these musings were to drown out the most obvious one: the fact that very deep down, she was attracted to Korra. And while Asami had seen her in the nude before at the springs, she'd never quite seen her like this. Laid back, hair tousled, powerful muscles rippling under dark skin covered in a thin sheen of sweat... If Asami could think of any sight more appealing than that, she'd have to get quite creative.
But even admitting that to just herself was practically unthinkable, let alone admit it to anyone else, especially Korra herself. Besides, when she would inevitably ask Asami about it, there were still plenty of other reasons to be angry about this.
Still, it was probably best to get this out of the way sooner rather than later. They were still in the harbor, meaning that most of the crew wasn't on board and they'd have some relative privacy to discuss such a delicate matter, even if Korra didn't seem to care all that much. She was more annoyed than embarrassed, if Asami's estimate was anything to go by.
With a sigh, Asami got up and headed for the quarterdeck, where she'd seen Korra climb up the mast to inspect the new gaff. When she got there, Korra was still way up in the rigging. "Captain!" she called up.
-"What is it?"
"Get down here, we need to talk." Asami threw her a pointed look, and she could hear Korra sigh from all the way down here. Albeit reluctantly, the captain did start making her way down to the deck.
-"So what's on your mind?" Korra asked once she was back down.
"What do you think? You were screwing a whore in our shared cabin, a whore who one of your most trusted crewmember cares a lot for."
The captain smiled. "On that last part, Bolin knows. Hell, he was the one who sent her over here. Conditions over in the brothel are... risky, to say the least. He'd rather have her be with me, someone he knows is trustworthy, won't hurt her, and will pay properly, rather than have her take her chances with whomever decides to come by. Everybody wins. Besides, they aren't exactly 'exclusive', as they say," Korra remarked, making airquotations as she said that. "You may have noticed him spending a considerable amount of time in the fuck-tent when the Aurora was tipped."
Asami had to think on that for a minute, because the captain did have a point there. There were few jobs for women that were riskier than being a whore, even in a brothel with a good name. And while Korra may not hesitate to kill someone who crossed her, she also wouldn't hurt an innocent bystander if it could be avoided at all. There probably was some merit to her notion of Opal being safer with her than she was with any other client. "Still, that doesn't excuse you... having sex with someone in the cabin we share."
Korra sighed. "Alright, that one is on me. I thought I had more time before you came back. By the way, new clothes look good on you."
"You're not going to get out of this one with a cheap compliment."
-"I mean it, the look suits you. Look, I'd say I'm sorry for what I did, but I'm not. I'm only sorry I got caught. And hell, most of that is because I didn't get to finish."
"Thank you, I don't need to know the details," Asami said in annoyance, holding up her hand to emphasize her words. It still amazed her just how casual Korra was being about this whole thing.
-"You know, I think you're not just angry," Korra said with a hint of a smile on her face.
"Oh really?" Asami threw back, raising an unconvinced eyebrow. "What makes you say that?"
Korra's smile grew. "Well, I'm fairly certain you're also jealous, but that also makes me wonder of whom. Are you jealous of me, for caring so little after being caught while having sex with a woman, or are you jealous of Opal, for getting with me?"
Once again, the heiress was amazed at just how accurately Korra was able to read her. In fact, it only made it more amazing that no one else had figured her out before now. "You flatter yourself," Asami sneered, trying to cover up her earlier thoughts.
The captain's smile just kept on growing and getting more confident. "That's not an answer, it's a deflection."
"Well, the answer is neither," the heiress lied, because she knew damn well it was actually both. Of course, she'd never hear the end of it if she'd actually admit that, so this was a perfect example of a white lie.
Asami thought about it for a while and decided it was probably best to let the issue rest here. They weren't going to get anywhere, and in truth, it wasn't that bad now that Korra had explained the situation with Opal. The heiress was about to tell her about the letter from her father, but before she could speak up, something else happened.
-"Captain!" A loud voice broke the fragile silence between them. Asami knew it was Lao, one of their sailors, and he seemed out of breath.
Korra let her head hang as she sighed. "This better be important, Mr. Lao."
-"It is, Captain. I came as quick as I could."
This seemed to catch Korra's curiosity. "Well, what is it?"
-"It's the Equalist. She's coming."
Tun tun tuuunnnn.
Chapter 9: The Battle
Korra took a deep breath of the fresh sea air, which was nice. After Lao had come back with the news of the Equalist, everything happened at once. Korra went over to the Rhino to secure an alliance with their newly chosen captain Bahlo, provided that they would get half of the treasure in the hold and the ship itself, should she not be too badly damaged. The captain had promised not to use the great guns too much, but it would be necessary to gain the upper hand. Even with help from the Rhino and the 50 plus men and women aboard, mostly fighters, it wasn't a guaranteed victory for them.
Her only hope was that since Asami was still aboard the Aurora, Amon might hesitate to use his own great guns against them. Then again, he hadn't last time, so what's to say this one would be any different?
That did bring her to a thorny issue: why was the Equalist still coming for them? Hiroshi Sato was on his way with the gold and her mother. He had no reason to lie to Asami other than to give her a false sense of hope. And while the heiress was getting to the point where Korra couldn't possibly kill someone that close to her anymore, he didn't know that.
The only thing she could figure was that it was some sort of dick-measuring. If they really would hand over Asami and make the exchange, maybe he'd send Amon after them then to kill them all, giving him the money in reward. That way, he'd create a sort of precedent, a 'don't fuck with me or you get fucked with'-thing, but it's a lot of effort for 50.000 gold pieces, something Asami had assured her would barely make so much as a dent in their family fortune.
Still, couldn't hurt to try and get ahead on them. The one advantage Korra had was that neither Amon nor Hiroshi Sato knew that she had heard of their plan. That was something that she'd have to press.
But there was also something that really didn't sit well with her. Because of how casually Amon had opened fire at them, something told her if they were going into battle again, Asami wasn't safe by default. It was more of a gut feeling, really, and Korra knew it was her responsibility to make sure nothing bad befell her.
That was also a problem, as the heiress had been more shut-in since she walked in on Korra and Opal. The cold-shoulder treatment, but fortunately, the captain knew just the thing to break her out of it, that, for once, didn't involve liquor.
"Mako, could you take the helm for a while? Asami and I have some unfinished business to talk about."
Her first mate smiled. "She still angry about you and the whore?"
"Aye, and it's up to me to fix it."
-"It was your fault to begin with," Mako smirked.
"You're not helping. Just take the helm and keep an eye out."
He failed miserably trying to reign in his grin, so Korra just shook her head as she went below decks.
When she came back up again with what she needed, she already knew that Asami was reading in the shadow of the foremast. "Sato," Korra said, getting her attention. "Hi."
-"Captain," came her cold response.
"Can we talk or are you... busy?" Korra smirked, looking at her book.
The heiress marked the page she was on and looked up. "You want to talk, then go ahead."
"Look, I know it's not ideal, but for better and for worse, I do feel like we've become friends over the past couple of months, and this isn't how I want our last few weeks to be. You acting all cold."
Asami scoffed. "Neither did I, but then again, I didn't want to catch you fucking whores in the cabin that we share. Guess we're both disappointed."
It made Korra smile. "You need to get rid of some frustrations, and what better way to do that than with one of these," she said, holding up the cutlass she fetched from down below.
-"You've got to be kidding me. Captain, I've never even touched one of those, let alone know how to use one."
"I know, but that's what I'm here for. I'm gonna teach you how to use it."
Hesitantly, Asami stood up and took it. When she pulled the sword out of the scabbard, her already skeptical eyebrow only raised further. "Steel? I thought people always practiced with wood?"
"Where's the fun in that?" Korra smirked. "Besides, we only have about a week before we should run into Amon, you need to know your basics by then. If you also have to make the switch from wood to steel you'll never learn in time."
With a sigh, the heiress had the sword at attention, upon which Korra drew her own. "Amon is working for my father to get me back. Why would he want to hurt me?"
"No idea, but I trust that man about as far as I can throw him, and I can't throw a 200-pound man very far. Now pay attention. Elbow closer to your torso, and keep your feet a bit wider apart. You want a firm footing. Your free arm acts as counterbalance. So when I do this..." Korra slowly moved her own sword in, giving Asami all the time in the world to block it.
"Good. Now this..." Another move, this time a little faster, and followed by a second move, which Asami also managed to block. Just. What did make Korra smile was that the heiress was pretty natural with her feet, already trying to shift her weight to counter incoming swings.
-"Damn, this thing is heavy," Asami said, briefly pausing. "Don't you have anything lighter? I don't have your arms."
The captain chuckled and caught herself flexing her biceps, probably in a weak attempt at trying to impress the heiress. "No, I don't. That's a cutlass, which is about as short as you can go with a sword before it becomes a dagger. You have long arms to give you reach, but that's why you need to keep your elbow closer to your chest. Shortens the lever and makes the sword feel lighter. You attack this time."
She did, and just like Korra expected, it wasn't hard to block. There was an unexpected amount of ferocity in Asami's strikes, which means the captain's earlier thoughts were working.
On the technical side of things, Asami showed some real potential, but it would take a lot more coaching to bring it out. Korra decided the best way to demonstrate this was to easily knock her blade aside and put her own up to the heiress' neck.
"How did I beat you?"
-"Oh, I dunno, maybe because you're stronger, had more and better training, plenty of experience, need I go on?"
Korra smiled. "No. Well, yes, all of the above, but none of those are the main reason. You were watching my face. What you really should be watching is my hand."
This seemed to have her confused. "Your hand?"
"Yes. My face, good-looking as it is, doesn't tell you much. You don't really want to know what I'm looking at, you want to know what I'm going to hit next. Best case scenario, he's distracted by your tits and not paying attention to what you're doing." A slight smile played over her lips as she saw Asami flush. Some habits die harder than others. "The hand is where the action comes from. That tells you where the sword is going to be, and thus, where yours should be to block it." Korra took a step back, raising her own sword back up. "Again."
Korra's training was hard but satisfying. That was probably the best way Asami could describe it, because even though her arms were killing her and she smelled worse than most of the crew (which is really saying something), she did feel content, like she actually achieved something.
Sure, her skills with a sword were nowhere near the captain's level, but one could hardly expect that in a week. It was definitely better than when she started, and that really was all that mattered. Progress.
Of course, part of actually agreeing to more than just that one lesson in the first place was the fact that halfway through, Korra shrugged out of her long waistcoat, leaving her just in her bindings for the remainder of the practice. Damn those abs. If it hadn't been for those, it would have been so much easier to refuse.
Worst of all, Asami knew that it was only two weeks or so more. Korra's earlier warning rung true in her head again. After the exchange would take place, she would be married off to Iroh, and then she'd have his kids, end of discussion. Heck, especially now that she had been captured for three months, her chances of ever getting out of the estate on her own merits again were virtually zero.
There was the other option, namely staying here aboard the Aurora, but that was ridiculous. Korra was getting nicer to her, sure, but that was hardly enough to sway her. She had a name to think about, a reputation, and that was bigger than just her secretly being liking women. It was better that way. And even if it wasn't, she missed her father. Asami had never left the Sato Estate for more than two weeks at a time, and that was usually while traveling with her father.
It was ironic, really, because if it hadn't been for Korra, she'd be long back on Ember Island by now. She chuckled to herself, which got the captain's attention. "What's so funny?"
"Oh, I was just thinking. Everything you've shown me about my father's trade, stuff I'd have never know, and yet, when you captured my ship, I was out to prove to him that there were trades that didn't involve slaves that could be profitable."
Korra raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
-"I pleaded with him that it could be lucrative to do something else, so I finally managed to peel off a ship to try and trade for spices and silk, which you found aboard. That's why I was there, because I wanted to see it for myself how and what. And that's when you captured me."
The captain laughed as well. "Guess I screwed that one up, huh?"
Asami smiled. "Well, you gave me something far more valuable than goods: perspective. You showed me the reality of the slave trade, and for that, I am very grateful, even if the circumstances are less than ideal."
-"You are welcome, Sato."
After this, it fell silent for a bit. Asami walked over to the railing and stared out over the vast ocean. Maybe she would sail again a couple of times, but never this frequently again. And truth be told, she did like it. She enjoyed watching how the ship worked, the crew managing her, the people doing everything. It all fit together perfectly. She enjoyed the freedom, the ability to go as far as the ocean went on.
But that's when she noticed something. "Captain, could you come over here for a second?"
Korra stood next to her in an instant. "What do you see?"
"Over there, what does it look like to you?"
The captain followed Asami's outstretched arm, and the longer they were staring, the more apparent it became.
-"SAIL!" the lookout yelled. "Northwest of us!"
-"I can see that," Korra muttered why pulling out her spyglass.
"You think it's the Equalist?" the heiress asked, nerves starting to seep through her voice. If it was, it would most certainly end in a fight."
Korra said nothing at first, just looked closer. "Well, she is coming the direction we'd expect her to. Mako!" she yelled, making the first mate turn around. "Come and have a look at this." She handed him the spyglass and he looked long and hard, thinking carefully about it. "Think it's her?"
-"Red spot on the sail. It's definitely her."
Asami was really surprised to see a small smile play over Korra's lips, almost as if she was looking forward to this. "Signal the Rhino that we have a hit on the Equalist. Tell her to prepare for battle." She then turned to her crew. "All hands to your stations! Prepare to engage!"
Amidst all this, the heiress sighed. "Cry 'havoc', and let slip the dogs of war..." she muttered.
-"What was that?"
"It's from a play," she said. "Doesn't really matter now. Where do you want me?"
-"In the hold," the captain said definitively. "We don't know why Amon is hunting us, but I'd bet you any money it's not good for either one of us. And not to be rude, but your week of sword practice is nowhere near enough to stand a chance against any of his men."
Asami scoffed. "No, it's true. I should probably get out of your way."
Korra nodded. "Take your sword, a pistol, and a dagger with you, might come in handy if things go bad."
With a sigh, the heiress prepared to go down, when Korra stopped her again. "Sato," she said, but then hesitated. "Remember to keep your head down."
She smiled. "Good luck, Captain."
Korra knew this was going to be a hard fight, probably one of the hardest of her life.
But if there ever was a time to fight it, it was now. Her crew was ready, the Rhino had just fanned out so that they would keep the Equalist between them, and was preparing to board as well. They wanted the ship as intact as possible, but on the other hand, she needed to be softened up. Korra's main goal was taking out Amon, and if they'd have to go through a hundred men for that, they'd need every edge they could get.
The guns aboard the Equalist were already rolled out, both sides, so they would definitely be hit.
"Ready on the guns!" she called out. They were all loaded, and were now just waiting on the order. Even from here, she could see the bustle aboard the other ship, which was closing in quickly. Fire too soon, and the guns wouldn't inflict any damage. Too late, and the Equalist would fire first.
Only a couple of yards left. The men were yelling over to the other ship who were yelling back in an effort to intimidate them. A quick glance over to captain Bahlo on the Rhino revealed that he looked quite nervous, and rightfully so. Tackling a powerful ship on his first outing as captain was a big risk, but it could also give him a big reward, especially with Korra having his back.
"Ready!" Only a few seconds left, and they'd be side by side entirely. "FIRE! FIRE ALL!"
With a deafening roar, the guns opened fire, luckily right before the same order was given aboard the Equalist. Through the thick white smoke, Korra could barely see, but it was clear that they'd given her a good shakedown. The Aurora had been hit as well, but most of the damage looked like a minor patch job, not major structural damage. "Muskets in the riggings! Suppress their fire!" Several men had climbed up the masts with rifles, picking off targets, or at least trying to.
Unfortunately, Amon had the same idea. Korra heard a bullet whizzing by her head, causing her to duck. That had been close. "Grappling hooks at the ready! Prepare to board!" The hooks were thrown, making it very difficult to sail away should the need arise. It really was now or never. Korra decided it would be best for her to stay aboard her own ship to repel boarders, because she didn't want anyone get close to Asami.
She went down to the upper deck, sword in her right hand, pistol in her left. There were five more tucked into various belts, and Korra was pretty certain she'd have to use all of them.
The first sight she got from one through the smoke was someone already swinging towards the Aurora, so she took aim and shot him, making him fall into the sea. If that hadn't killed him, he would probably be crushed between the ships.
But she didn't have long to think about this, as more were already on their way. Before she could draw another pistol, someone came up on her, wildly swinging an axe around. He wanted to keep her ducking, which she did, but the captain was quick. As she was crouched, he tried a vertical swing to crush her, but instead she rolled to the side while he lodged his axe deep into the floorboards. Before he even had the chance to turn around, Korra had plunged her sword into his side, definitively killing him.
A quick look around showed utter chaos. She saw Mako dueling with someone on the quarterdeck, and there were plenty of her own crew aboard the Equalist. There were a few familiar faces on there from the Rhino, but Korra didn't really have the time to think about it, as someone else was charging at her, this one with a normal sword.
She quickly parried his initial blow, and internally cursed as she quickly learned that he was much better trained than the last guy. His movements were deliberate, more calculated.
Still, Korra had plenty of experience with swordfights, and she had fought people better than him. Even though he was good at blocking her sword, she quickly started to notice that he wasn't very agile and that he was limping with his right leg. This provided her with an advantage, and in this situation, she needed to exploit that.
All she needed was a mistake, and he made one. He made a stabbing motion, and with her free left hand, she grabbed his wrist and tried keeping it in place over her shoulder just long enough for her to give a mighty good kick to the side of his knee on his already injured leg. He let out a massive cry of pain, which told Korra it had worked.
Because he was actually quite strong, she had to let him go and back away a bit, but he was not out yet. Down on one knee, yes, but still swinging his sword around. Korra just smiled and drew a pistol, definitively killing him.
Three for three, and she hadn't taken a hit yet. Getting cocky was a bad idea though, so she focused on who was going to be her next opponent. The people in the rigging were still working overtime trying to keep people from boarding the Aurora, but then again, the same was true on the Equalist.
But something caught her eye. A small group of men wasn't exactly looking for people to fight, they were very deliberately heading for the stairs to take them below. "Sweep the hold! Find Sato!"
Korra knew she couldn't let them. "Fuck."
The sounds of battle were bad. On the one hand, Asami was glad that Korra had told her to hide down here, because she would be useless on deck, and she was a lot safer here. A couple of cannonballs had torn through the hull, but nothing that was threatening either her or the ship.
Still, now that it was clear that they were being boarded, Asami would love to know what was going on, if only for peace of mind.
That actually had an underlying reason: she didn't know how safe Korra was. As much as it annoyed her, the heiress wouldn't know what to do if something happened to the captain. It wasn't even her own safety that she was concerned about, it really was Korra's. Even if she didn't meet someone who could best her in combat, a stray cannonball or bullet could easily take her out.
But then she heard someone rattle the door to the hold, which she had bolted shut. It couldn't be Korra, the fighting on deck was still far too intense for that. Whoever that was, they were looking for trouble.
Asami decided to draw her pistol, so that she could at least get the drop of them when they kicked it down. That bolt wasn't going to hold it forever, hopefully just long enough that someone would hear it.
Unfortunately, that hope was quickly dashed when the door flew open, and three men poured into the room. Instinctively, Asami pulled the trigger, but while doing so, the pistol moved, and she instead hit the doorframe. The three coming in ducked, but soon realized that she didn't have any more shots, so they just kept advancing.
Asami drew her sword, but she knew it was pointless. No way would she be able to hold her own against three men. She peeked out from her place behind a crate, which was when everything happened very quickly.
-"There she is!" one of them yelled, and they instantly paced towards her, but at the same time, Korra came through the door.
-"Hey!" she yelled, getting their attention. She already had a pistol in her hand, and did what Asami couldn't do: shoot one of them. He went down immediately, but another was still coming towards the heiress.
Fortunately, Korra didn't hesitate and threw her sword all the way across the room, right into his back. The heiress looked him right in the eyes as it hit him, his eyes going wide as he stopped, before his knees finally gave in and he collapsed on the spot. It was really off-putting to see him with the sword standing up straight in his back, but Asami had to resist the urge to throw up, because right now, the third guy was smiling at the captain.
-"Brave thing to do, little lady, but now you don't have a weapon." He was quick to charge at Korra, who used the only thing at her disposal: her pistol. She deflected swing after swing, but he definitely had the upper hand. He had two feet of range on her, and was good enough that he didn't give her a chance to draw another.
Asami knew she had to act, because Korra was losing. Then, she watched in horror as her captain stumbled backwards over a loose piece of rope, and landed on her back. In an instant, he was on top of her, raising his sword to go in for the kill, and Asami didn't wait any longer. She charged forward, pretty much with her sword held out, driving it through his back. There wasn't as much resistance as she expected, and it went straight through, coming out his chest with a significant of blood on it.
In shock, she let go of her sword, staggering back to support herself on a couple of barrels. "I... I just killed him..."
Korra pushed him off of her and got up. "Don't worry about too much, if you hadn't, he would have killed me." The captain put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay, Sato?"
"I... I'm fine, I think," she managed to stammer out. "But you're bleeding!" she yelled out, seeing the big stain on Korra's clothes.
-"I'm fine, it's not my blood." The captain walked over to the guy who went after Asami, and pulled her sword out of his back with a sickening sound. "Asami, I'm really sorry, but you have to stay down here. I'll say you're dead, that way Amon won't come after you again. I have to beat this guy."
The heiress was too dazed to protest, but there was the elephant in the room: Korra just risked her life to save her and didn't even hesitate to do it. And now she was about to go face one of the most dangerous men on the sea. No time to think now. "Korra!" Asami stopped her.
Korra turned around in the doorframe. "What?"
In a rush, Asami was right in front of her, and before she even realized what she was doing, pressed their lips together. She knew she was a bad kisser, but it didn't matter. Korra's lips felt glorious against her own, and Asami threw in all the petty jealousy, anger, frustration, passion, and gratitude in there.
When they finally broke away, the captain was completely speechless. She just stared at Asami, almost unable to comprehend what just happened, even if their faces were still mere inches apart.
"Go kick his ass," Asami said.
This slapped Korra back into it. "Right."
This is obviously gonna be followed by Korra's fight with Amon, but because it was already turning monsterously large and because I suck at writing fightscenes, I'm basically turning this into a Part 1.
Chapter 10: The Showdown
When Korra came back on deck, the chaos showed no sign of slowing down. Her men were still busy repelling the boarders, even if the influx looked to be coming to a halt.
Trying not to waste any more time, she grabbed a rope herself and swung over to the Equalist, making a surprisingly graceful landing. What was even more surprising was that the chaos seemed to be less here than aboard her own ship, but that was only because her own crew and the crew of the Rhino had the upper hand.
She quickly spied around and spotted Amon on the quarterdeck, winning a duel with someone Korra recognized but didn't know by name, probably someone from the Rhino. Much to her dismay, Korra saw Amon slice his sword across his opponent's chest.
At first, she decided to forego her ego, and took aim with a pistol, but it didn't work. He was moving around and she was far away, so when she pulled the trigger, it wasn't really a big surprise that she missed.
That wasn't gonna work, so instead, it had to be the old-fashioned way. As quickly as she could, Korra made her way over to the quarterdeck as well, just as Amon finished off his opponent. "Amon!"
He looked up, the mask making his expression unreadable. "Well, well, well. Captain Korra."
"You had her killed!" Of course this was a flat-out lie, and Korra just hoped her acting was convincing enough to trick him.
-"And now I get to finish the job." Without any wasted movement, he leapt forward before Korra had a chance to attack herself. She narrowly managed to block his attack, and put her knee in his chest to try and put some distance between them.
This worked, but only briefly. Because Korra had the initiative this time around, she was better prepared, knowing that he would probably block her swing, so she could quickly move her sword around and go for a second attack.
But Amon was agile as well. It almost felt like he knew what was coming, like he could feel her movements before they happened. Everywhere her sword went, his was there to block it.
And then he managed to catch her off guard. As Korra just swung, he handily deflected her sword away, but then he kept on turning, and because Korra hadn't managed to raise her sword back up, Amon scored a hit. In his left hand, he had a small knife, something obviously made for concealed carry, but plenty long enough to do significant damage. Korra saw that it was coming, so she tried to duck, but he still managed to hit her, cutting right across her eyebrow.
Korra stumbled back a few paces, grimacing from the pain. She could feel the blood seeping down her cheek, which was not good.
Even through the mask, she could swear she saw Amon smile. There was a twinkle in his eyes, a cruel grin, as if he was pleased with the way the fight was going. Then again, Korra could hardly blame him, she'd be pleased as well if it was her in that position.
-"You see, Korra, you can't beat me. I'm always one step ahead."
A slight smile played over her lips. "We'll see about that." With her free hand, she drew her last loaded pistol, determined to make it count. She quickly spied around, taking note of her surroundings. As it turned out, both of their second-in-commands had come to their respective captains' aid, with Mako dueling The Lieutenant at the base of the stairs to the quarterdeck, stopping him from getting up there and stabbing Korra in the back.
Using this minute moment of distraction, Amon charged, but Korra was prepared for him. He was set on not giving her enough room to shoot, using the weapons he had in both hands to keep her too busy to take aim.
But she knew how pistols worked. She'd used enough and been on the receiving end enough times to know all about them. So instead of trying to shoot him with it, Korra saw a quick opening and smacked him in the face with the pistol, which only had a limited effect because of the mask. Amon was able to regain himself quickly enough that he was able to hold her pistol off just as Korra was preparing to pull the trigger, but that was the point.
It was right next to his head when it went off, which probably would cause some hearing problem, but more to the point, it had gone off. Now Amon was focusing back on Korra's sword, but there was more than one way to use a pistol. Because of the shot, she knew the barrel would be hot.
She quickly brought it down and pushed it against the back of Amon's hand, the one that was holding the knife, causing him some serious pain. He didn't cry out, but did let go of his small knife and backed up a few paces.
Korra smiled as she kicked the knife away. "Looks like we're even again."
This time around, Amon said nothing, and just attacked again. His attacks were still focused, precise, no wasted movement. Every time Korra swung, he was there to block it. He definitely had experience on his side, but Korra had youth on hers. She was more prone to dodging, which did work. After another one of his swings, Korra rolled out of the way, but kept her sword up, putting a nasty cut on Amon's leg.
Even though it was obvious that he was trying to bite down the pain, it still put him at a significant disadvantage, and Korra knew she could exploit that.
His attacks kept coming, but now she noticed that they were less about technique and more Amon trying to use the advantage he had of simply being bigger than Korra. He had more reach and more mass, even if they were evenly matched on stamina. But Korra kept her eyes open, always watching what he was doing with his sword, when she spotted an opening.
She just deflected another swing, and because of his injured leg, Amon had to compensate his balance with his free arm. This left him open, and Korra drew a knife from the back of her belt and sliced up right over his sword arm, cutting through all the tendons in one go and making him drop his weapon.
She knew she had won, all that was left to do was finish the job. Amon had fallen down on his good knee, and Korra knew that he was too dangerous to be shown mercy. She spun around, slicing his neck open with her knife.
Without a word or even a cry of pain, Amon fell down on the deck of his own ship, the pool of blood under his body growing quickly.
Korra stumbled back to seek balance on the helm, her breathing heavy and labored. It was only now that she realized her muscles burning from the effort it had taken her, but she won. She was exhausted from the intense fight with Amon, but now that he was no longer of this world, it was worth it.
She hoped this was enough to end the fight entirely. Most of these men were loyal to Amon, but now that he was dead, there was no point to fight for him anymore. Korra took off his mask, revealing that he was horribly scarred on his face, what looked like burns. It's a miracle he survived that.
That just left the issue of how to get everyone's attention. She decided to use the alarm bell of the Equalist, which was only a few steps away. She sounded it as hard as she could, and held up the mask. "Amon is dead! Drop your weapons!"
-"Belay that!" the Lieutenant yelled, but in his moment of distraction, Mako and Bolin were both capable of putting the tips of their swords up to his neck.
"Are you really gonna sacrifice all your men in a battle you can't possibly win?" Korra smugly asked, even though there was hardly any point. The crew of the Equalist had already given up.
Finally, the Lieutenant dropped his sword as well, making Korra smile. "Mako, Bolin, secure the crew. Chain this one up. Hakoda!" she yelled over to the Aurora where he still was. "Take care of the wounded. Everyone gets equal treatment. Captain Bahlo," Korra continued. "I trust you can manage things aboard the Rhino for now? We'll sort out the details later, there are more pressing matters."
The former slave nodded. "I agree. Wounded first. Niyok!" he turned to his female first mate, and starting issueing her similar orders as Korra did with her own crew.
Korra knew that now was a good moment to go get Asami and talk a few things over, but when she wanted to walk back over to the Aurora, Mako stopped her. "Where are you off to in such a hurry?"
"Sato and I have some unfinished business."
This confused him. "Wait, Sato? I heard you tell Amon she's dead."
Korra grinned. "I lied so that he wouldn't send anyone else. She's alive and still in the hold, so I'm gonna go get her."
Mako chuckled, and the captain decided to leave him to his assigned task.
The smell in the hold was blood mixed with gunpowder, which made sense. Even though the damage to the hull was relatively minimal because the boarding had quickly begun, it was still unmistakable. "Sato?" Korra said out loud, clearly announcing herself.
-"Korra? Oh my God, Korra!" Asami came running out, and before the captain realized it, had flown her around the neck, pulling her into a tight hug. "I thought you'd be dead!"
"I'm not that easy to kill," she smirked.
-"But you're bleeding!" The heiress pointed out, a look of concern growing in her eyes.
Of course, Korra dismissed it. "Just a fleshwound."
Asami raised an unconvinced eyebrow. "I'm patching you up, end of discussion."
They went up to the sick bay, where there were a lot of men with cuts and gunshot wounds. Most of them were Korra's men, but there were a few of the Equalist as well, who were getting hateful looks from the crew of the Aurora. Some of them exchanged weird looks with each other as they saw Asami, but no one really dared to comment on it.
Of course, there was no privacy there, which wasn't exactly ideal. "Say, why don't we take that stuff to my cabin? We still have something to discuss."
Asami sighed. "I guess we do." They took their supplies to Korra's cabin, who ignored Asami's instruction to sit down and instead went to her desk to take out a bottle of rum. "Oh for crying out loud."
"What?" Korra smiled while taking a sip. "We won, a little bit of celebration is in order."
The heiress rolled her eyes and took the bottle, doused a rag in rum and started cleaning Korra's wound with it. A tense silence fell while she was binding it, making sure it would actually heal, but Korra knew a wound like that would probably scar. "We have to talk about what happened in the hold," she said when Asami finally stepped back to examine her work.
-"Do we really?" Asami groaned, her cheeks already turning a little pink.
"Yes, we do. Sato, you kissed me, so I think I can ask why."
Again, Asami sighed. "I guess... I think I just wanted to know what it's like. Kissing you, I mean."
Korra raised an eyebrow. "'Me' as in 'a woman' or as in..."
-"No, as in 'you'."
In all honesty, Korra didn't really know what to do with that. It was incredibly tempting to give in and take her, right here, right now, but she couldn't do that. It would only make things way more complicated. "Asami..." she weakly started. "I know what it feels like, but you know we can't. You have two weeks left here, and if we get involved, saying goodbye will only be so much harder."
-"I know," the heiress sighed. "But if it feels right to you as well, why not enjoy it? Since when do you care about consequences?"
"Because in this case, the consequences would hurt you." Korra took Asami's soft hand in her own. "At first, you were just a prissy daddy's girl to me, but you have proven me so wrong on that. You mean more to me than anyone has in a long time, and I don't want to make ending that harder than it's already going to be. I can't offer you a future, or even a guarantee that you'll live to see tomorrow. And I've seen you. You've read your father's note a thousand times, and it's not that complicated. You want to go home again."
-"It's true," Asami softly admitted. "I do miss him. He's the only family I have left, and even though he is misguided with his business, I know that he is a good person. It's hard to explain, but I don't believe he is evil all the way through. And I want to see him again, and go home. And not because of the luxuries, I could forego those, I mean because it's home."
Korra nodded understandingly. "I get it. And that is exactly why we cannot become an item."
The heiress chuckled as she dropped into a chair. "I guess it was doomed from the start."
It fell silent again, but it was a lot less tense this time around. They said what needed to be said, even if it sucked. Korra looked down to their still linked hands, unwilling to let go and get back to work, almost as if that would make it definitive, though it already was.
-"You know what I've been thinking about?" Asami thought out loud. "Why were those three down there to get me in the first place? They could have waited until after the battle, it would have been a lot easier for them to get me without the risk of anyone interfering."
"I've been thinking the same thing," Korra said. "Amon is dead, so we're not going to get any answers out of him, but his second-in-command is still alive. We can try to get the information out of him."
Asami looked skeptical. "Aren't there a few more pressing matters?"
After a few moments of thought, the captain nodded. "I guess so. Let's get back to work."
Working with the crew of the Rhino was surprisingly effective. For Korra, it was incredibly refreshing to work with someone who'll throw a saddle on a gift horse rather than look it in the mouth.
The treasure in the hold of the Equalist was considerable, which already put the men in a good mood. They made a fair division, but because captain Bahlo would get to keep the ship, Korra did get the slightly better deal. Still, they parted ways on good terms, and now it was time to head back to Omashu. The Equalist and its new crew decided to head back to the Northern Water Tribe, where some wanted to restart their old lives.
But that wasn't for the Aurora. As far as they knew, Hiroshi Sato was still en route to meet them in the port of Omashu, even if Korra was starting to have her doubts about the sincerity of his letter.
The losses to her crew had been pretty minimal, much to Korra's surprise. They were down to 34, which, considering the bounty they gained, was a good score. The losses aboard the Equalist had been far greater, though the captain suspected that might have been down to slow medical care afterwards.
Most importantly to her, Amon's Lieutenant was still alive, and Korra had insisted that they would take him with them. Bahlo didn't have much reason to refuse, so it was an easy agreement. Now that they were out at sea again and most of the boring details had been taken care of, Korra felt like she could finally get some answers.
Even though it had been a busy day, dinner was now over and they had a moment to ask a few questions. The Lieutenant was on deck, bound in chains, and Korra knew that he wasn't telling them something. "Now, I am going to give you one more chance. Talk, or we'll make you talk."
He looked up with nothing but disdain in his eyes. "Fuck you."
The captain smiled. "I was hoping you'd say that." She nodded at Mako, who tied a rope around his restraints, both his ankles and wrists, after which he was suspended over the side of the Aurora, hanging upside down and facing away from the ship.
-"What are you going to do to him?" Asami piped up, not sure what was about to happen.
"Keelhauling," Korra clarified. "Simple but effective."
The heiress raised an eyebrow. "I thought that was a punishment? You think it'll get him to talk?"
Korra laughed at this. "Trust me, Sato, it'll get him to sing." She nodded to Mako again, and then the Lieutenant was dropped into the water, pulled flush against the hull of the ship, and then yanked back up on the other end. It was incredibly painful, because the hull is rough, and he was even in luck that it hadn't been very long since she was careened.
Still, even after just the first go, he spent nearly a minute underwater, and was pulled up again with a bleeding back, thrown roughly onto the deck, that'll break a man quickly.
Korra walked over to the other side of the ship and kneeled next to him. "Ready to talk or should we do it again?"
-"Go to hell," he spat, though it wasn't nearly as convincing as the first time around.
"Trust me, there's already a seat reserved for me there. But fine, have it your way. Again," she told Mako. The process was repeated, and when he was pulled up on the other side, his back was badly bleeding. "We can do this as many times as is necessary, I have all the time in the world."
-"Stop..." he groaned, partially out of breath and partially in massive pain.
Korra smiled. "You can make it stop. Tell me why Amon wanted to kill Asami, and it stops."
He looked up, and it was pretty clear that he knew his body couldn't take much more of this. "It wasn't Amon. It came down from Mr. Sato himself."
The captain looked up in shock, facing Asami. The look of horror on her face was indescribable to Korra. "What are you talking about?" she quickly asked him.
-"Sato, he said that he'd rather see his daughter dead than having to deal with the likes of you. He told us that if we couldn't win the day, we should kill her. Amon realized we were losing, so he sent three men to your ship to find and kill her."
Korra wished she didn't know this. If anything, she wished she hadn't gotten this information out of him in front of Asami, whose expression of disbelief was slowly turning into one of rage. Out of nowhere, the heiress suddenly jumped forward, grabbing the Lieutenant by his collar. "You lying son of a bitch! Tell me it's not true!" she yelled at him. Tears of rage were flowing down her cheeks, and Korra had to use all her strength to pry them apart.
When they weren't connected anymore, Asami stumbled away into Korra's cabin, clearly not wanting to be around the whole thing any longer.
"Take him to the sick bay to get his wounds treated, then put him in the brig," the captain told Bolin, before she quickly followed Asami. They may not be together, but right now, the heiress needed her.
When she went into her own cabin, Asami was sitting on her bed with her knees tucked up to her chest. Tears were flowing down her cheeks and her shoulders were moving up and down as she was sobbing. Korra sat down next to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder.
Whether it was because she wanted to be with Korra or because she just needed some reassurance, the captain didn't know, but Asami leaned into her touch anyway.
-"How - how could he do this to me, Korra? He couldn't have!"
Above all else, Korra wished she had answers to comfort Asami, but she didn't. It wasn't likely that the Lieutenant was lying, he had no reason to. Those three in the hold were determined to kill her, and it was unlikely that Amon would have made that call on his own. Not unless he wanted the wrath of Hiroshi Sato over him, but that would be an expensive relationship to break.
And yet... Eight years of experiences with the way Hiroshi Sato did business told Korra he would be capable of something like this. Asami always maintained that he was a good man, but every action the captain had been subjected to at his hands proved otherwise.
"It'll be okay, you hear me?"
Asami didn't seem convinced. "How? The only way it's going to be okay is if it isn't true! Do you think he's lying?"
Korra sighed. "No, I don't think he is. What does he have to gain?"
-"A final 'fuck you' to us for killing Amon?"
The captain knew Asami was clutching up straws right now. "You know that's unlikely." A silence fell. "I'm sorry, Asami. I truly am."
The heiress leaned into Korra a little more, seeking some modicum of comfort in her arms. She didn't say anything, because there was nothing to say anymore. Asami knew damn well that as improbable as this seemed earlier, it was the most likely explanation there was.
"Asami..." Korra cautiously started, already hating herself for what she was about to say. "I have to go prepare the ship for the night. I'll be back soon, okay?" She pulled out of holding the heiress and was already walking away when she felt Asami's hand around her wrist.
When Korra turned around, she was met with tear-filled eyes, pleading her to stay. "Korra... Please don't go," Asami said, her voice quivering the entire time.
Korra had no chance of resisting those massive green eyes, especially when there were tears in them. "Okay, I won't. Just..." She stepped to the door, but stopped after opening it. "MAKO!" she yelled through the entire ship. No way would he miss that. Korra quickly sat down again next to Asami, taking her hand again and ran her thumb over her knuckles. "I'm not going anywhere."
Mako soon stepped in, and even though he probably had questions about the scene in front of him, he decided to zip it. "You called for me, Captain?"
"I did. Prepare the ship for the night, you're in charge. No one disturbs us."
He nodded, and left in the same silent manner as he came in with.
When Asami had calmed down a little bit, Korra stood up again and walked to her table, pulling a bottle of rum out of the drawer. "Might make it a little easier." She took one gulp before holding it out to the heiress.
She didn't question her, she didn't even hesitate, she just took it and started chugging it back like it was water and she just trekked through the desert. "Whoa, easy there, you don't want to kill your liver just yet," Korra said as she had to take the bottle from Asami again. "You're not me."
Asami let out a dry chuckle. "I guess..." She fell silent for a moment. "How do you do it, Korra?"
-"Not caring. Everything just bounces off you, and that makes me wonder."
Korra sat there for a moment. "Years of practice I didn't want. People called me bitch and cunt and all kinds of nasty things, but those are just words. This... This is nothing like that at all. Betrayal is an awful thing, and I wouldn't be able to let that slide either."
-"Hmm..." The heiress wasn't very impressed by that answer, but didn't press on.
If Korra were to have a guess, it would be that she just didn't have the energy right now to worry about something so trivial. "Why don't we get some sleep? It'll be dark soon, then we can start fresh in the morning."
-"Okay," Asami agreed in a soft voice, but when Korra got up to undress and go to her own bunk, she was once again stopped. "Wait... Will you sleep with me?" she asked, a bashful blush on her face.
To say that Korra was shocked would be an understatement. "What?"
-"I mean, hold me. I... I don't want to be alone right now."
An understanding smile crept over Korra's face. "Ah. Of course I will. Just gotta undress, okay?"
Asami nodded and got up herself as well, once again slipping out of her boots, leather corset, and, kind of to Korra's surprise, pants. The captain herself normally slept only in her bindings, but now, that felt wrong, so she didn't take off her sleeveless tunic.
Soon enough, they were lying in the bunk that was actually already on the small side for one, but for two was a real squeeze. Their only option was for both of them to lie on their sides, with Korra's arms wrapped around Asami's waist. It was snug and pretty warm, but there was no way in hell that Korra would let her go.
Short but sweet, I know. Some of you correctly guessed the surprise, so kudos to you.
Chapter 12: The Story
Asami woke up from the light shining through the high windows of Korra's cabin, and part of her hoped that everything had been a dream. Soon enough though, she felt the captain's arm wrapped around her waist and realized that it wasn't. This was real, and her father had tried to have her killed.
She tried to move away and get up, but as she did that, Korra's arm held on to her a little tighter, preventing her from getting up. It did make the heiress smile, feeling that strong arm and the sense of security that it brought with it.
In fact, now that she thought about it, Asami didn't know what to think anymore. She had been terrified when her own ship was boarded, rightfully so, at first, but then Korra stepped in, and everything changed. She was rude, sure, but she also cared for Asami. It was crazy. A pirate captain had to protect her from her own father, whom she had trusted her entire life. Hell, Korra hadn't even hesitated to do so, even when she was practically unarmed.
Asami's thoughts of home suddenly felt a lot more distant. There had been this pit in her stomach, growing slowly ever since she got that letter from her father. Going home again would mean leaving the Aurora behind and everything that came with it. The rough-around-the-edges crew, most of whom were still good people underneath. The adventure, not knowing what they were going to run into when they left the relative safety of the port of Omashu. The swordsmanship, that she surprisingly enjoyed. The freedom of being able to think and say and do whatever she damn-well pleased. Sleeping and rising with the sun, instead of rigid times enforced by their butler.
The heiress wasn't about to fool herself, Korra was no small part of why she liked it here so much. There had never been someone in her life as down-to-earth as Korra. Sure, she was rude, but that was also part of her charm. She did show a little more restraint around Asami than she had when they first met, which was a good thing. The threats had stopped after their first encounter with Amon, because they both knew Korra wasn't going to do anything. They had a connection.
And yet... She was still an enigma. The longer she thought about it, the more Asami realized she knew very little about Korra before she became captain of the Aurora. From the stories she'd heard going around the ship, Hakoda was one of the few men who knew more, but kept his cards close to his chest on that matter, saying it was not his place to share. That, and the fact that he'd be cleaning the head for the rest of the year if he would do that was a pretty good motivation to zip it.
Asami relaxed into Korra's grip again. It was a little warm, especially given that it was summer, but that hardly mattered to her. She was from the tropics anyway, she was used to being warm. And it felt safe here. No one could touch her when she was like this, least of all her father.
God. Her father. What would he think about all of this? Not that it really mattered, he'd already written her off. As far as he was concerned, she'd be resting in peace by now. Asami owed him nothing anymore. Hell, even the money wasn't really a concern to her. The walls of the Sato Estate back on Ember Island were there as much to keep her in as to keep unwanted visitors out.
She let out a dry chuckle. Asami realized that she'd had more freedom as a prisoner on this ship than she did back home. It was just like Korra had said back at the springs. No one cared that she drank rum, let slip a few swear words every now and then, disregarded table etiquette at dinner. Korra hadn't even been angry when Asami kissed her, she was more surprised than anything else. Their current position was nothing if not indicative of this.
The captain stirred in her sleep, and Asami felt the arm around her vanish. She rolled over, seeing that Korra was actually waking up and stretching. "Morning," she said.
-"Morning. How long have you been awake?" Korra asked.
"Not very long."
Korra took a deep breath. "And how are you holding up?"
Asami sighed and sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. "I don't want to think about it right now." As she actually stood up, she realized that she wasn't exactly decent right now, so she quickly picked up her pants and slipped them on.
The captain followed suit, got out of bed and took off her tunic, before throwing it on the bed before walking over to the closet for a fresh one. It revealed almost all of her scars again to Asami, but for once, her eyes lingered on the brand. Her brand. The crest of the Sato family, burned into someone's chest.
Without really even thinking about it, Asami reached out and was about to put her fingers on Korra's skin, but was stopped when the captain grabbed her wrist just before she actually got there.
"Sorry," she said while quickly pulling her hand back.
-"It... It's okay," Korra mumbled. "It's just a very bad reminder of everything that happened."
The heiress sat down on the bed. "Will you tell me?"
Korra looked up, raising an eyebrow. "You really want to hear it? It's not exactly going to lift your spirits."
"I know. Doesn't really matter, I'm in a bad mood anyway," Asami morbidly said. "Please? At least it'll take my mind off of my father."
At first, the captain didn't say anything. She just pulled a pair of pants out of her closet and slipped into them, clearly sunken in thought. After a moment though, she sat down next to Asami and took her hand. "I wasn't born into slavery, Asami. I was born a free girl in the Southern Water Tribe. When I was thirteen, my village was attacked. Contrary to what they say, slaves aren't being captured by the slavers themselves, they'd never stand a chance. Instead, we were raided by a neighboring tribe, who'd struck a deal with your father. Iron-forged weapons, guns, things they couldn't get on their own. In return, they'd conquer us and we'd become slaves."
She took a deep breath, clearly struggling as she remembered it all. "We put up a fight. As you know, there's no rigid division between men and women fighting, so I tried, but they were too strong. We had whale-bone clubs and spears, they had swords and muskets. We never even stood a chance. They figured out quickly enough that it was my father who was leading the fight, so they singled him out and beheaded him to make an example. After that, it wasn't long before we were forced to surrender." Korra morbidly chuckled. "If I'd have known back then what would become of us, I'd have rather fought myself to death."
Asami didn't really know what to say to that. From what she'd seen, that wasn't hyperbole.
-"Anyway, both me and my mother were captured, stripped naked, chained up, and forced to march 20 miles through the melting snow of early spring. When we saw the ships lying there, we knew exactly what was coming. We'd heard the stories. Every one of us was branded, and me and my mother had the sense not to resist too much. Some did, and they'd put the brand on their face. If you worked with them, they'd at least place it somewhere on your body. Hardly a comfort, but still."
Korra guided Asami's hand up, putting it on her brand. The heiress could feel the rough skin in the shape of a cog, deep enough to make out even if it had been dark. She let her fingers glide over it, familiarizing herself with it, and then she traced around it, surprised by how smooth Korra's skin actually was.
-"After that, me and my mother were separated. I was a virgin, so they wanted to sell me separately, because virgin girls are worth a lot more than everyone else. I was taken to Ba Sing Se, where I was sold to a nobleman who preferred young girls. He fucked me twice a week, sometimes more, and also made me 'available' to his guests when he had them."
What amazed Asami was just how little emotion Korra was showing right now. She'd lived through it, and even though she was recounting everything, it wasn't affecting her the same way. Suddenly, it made sense that she seemed so detached when the heiress first came aboard. It's because circumstances had forced her to become so. "So how'd you become a captain from there?" Asami asked, because it still seemed like a long way to go.
-"Well, after about two years of that, the nobleman thought I was too old." Korra chuckled. "Too old. I was fifteen, and too old for his taste. He better hope we never meet again. Anyway, I was sold off, and those years could be worse. I became a house slave, but because I had a mouth on me, was sold off several times more, never really sticking around long enough anywhere to leave an impact. Eventually, I ended up on a big slave auction where I was sold in a large group. Some guy had bought a plantation in the Fire Nation and needed slaves to work the land, ergo, us. So me and about 100 other slaves were bought and put in a ship, pretty much exactly like what you saw on the Rhino."
"Is that where the manacle scars came from?" Asami asked, very much intrigued in Korra's story.
-"Not exactly, I already had those at that point. I was seventeen by then, and by some stroke of luck, was the youngest and the prettiest. The captain of that ship didn't give a fuck about rules with slaves, he knew that 20 of us would be dead anyway by the time we hit the Fire Nation, so he and his officers used me again as a fuck toy. Aboard that ship, it was every day instead of twice a week."
Asami had her hand in front of her mouth. "My God..." she breathed.
Korra chuckled again. "I could have used God on my side, but as usual, He was too busy judging gay people to care. Anyway, that was also my luck, because when all you have is pain, after a while, you start to become numb to it. It becomes normal, and you're capable of taking in your surroundings, looking around for ways out. And I saw mine in the boot of the first officer, who had a knife it in. All I had to do was wait for the opportune moment, and that came soon enough. He forced me onto my knees, making me suck his dick. But because it was just the two of us in the room at that time, I could reach down and draw his knife, cut off his dick and ram it through his heart. The bosun heard the ruckus and came in to check what was going on, but I had just enough time to hide, catch him by surprise, and slit his throat. I managed to take his keys and made my way down to the slave hold, where I freed and rallied them all to take over the ship."
"Just like that? I mean, weren't you practically unarmed and malnourished and everything?"
Korra nodded. "We were, but you are forgetting two things: we had the numbers advantage, there were about 70 sailors and 100 slaves, and we had nothing to lose. When you're in chains headed for a life of labor on the fields, things can only get better. We put up a hell of a fight, and by the time the dust settled, there were only about 50 of us left. I had managed to single out the captain and stole his sword, putting it through his chest where everyone could see it. That, paired with the fact that I was the one who freed everyone, made me the de facto new captain. I knew we couldn't go to any regular port, because we'd be back in chains before we could say 'we're free'. Instead, I took us to the place the rumors even reached the South Pole about: Omashu."
She took a moment to organize her thoughts again. "The ship we had wasn't brilliant, but we managed to retrofit it with a few more cannons, and then the first place I headed was back home. When we got there though, there was nothing left. The raiders had burned my village and everything was gone. I didn't have a home left, so I made one. That ship was called the Avatar, but it was impractical, and when it was heavily damaged in a fight, me and the crew decided to trade up to the Aurora. And for winning that fight, Hakoda gave me this," she said, gesturing to her tattoo. "In the south, it's the mark of a warrior. He's from the south as well, and thought I was more than worthy of it. After that, the only thing I could do was try and stop slavers as often as I could. And finally, three years later, I ran into you."
After this, it fell silent. Asami didn't need confirmation from Korra to realize that she was one of few who actually knew her full story. Her hand had long been pulled back from the brand, but the captain was still holding it.
-"So now you know," Korra ultimately said.
The heiress nodded. "I never imagined it'd be that bad. I mean, I knew life was bad for slaves, but not that it was to that extent. It's amazing you have any faith left in humanity."
Korra scoffed. "It's the other slaves that kept that alive in me. But what was also made abundantly clear to me was that there were good and bad people everywhere, through all layers of society. Some are worth saving, like you."
Asami looked up and smiled, suddenly feeling a lot lighter that she said that. "That might just be the sweetest thing you've ever said to me."
They were interrupted by a knock on the door, but Korra wasn't done yet. "That's because it's true."
For a moment, they locked eyes, and Asami pressed a quick kiss on her cheek. "I believe that's for you," she said, nodding to the door.
Korra chuckled as she stood up to open up. It was Hakoda.
-"Morning, Captain. Brought some breakfast for you and Sato, you missed it. Thought you might want some after all."
The captain stepped aside and opened the door for him, and he walked in with the tray. Simple but nutritious food, and even though Asami wasn't very hungry right now, it did look pretty good.
-"How are you holding up?" Hakoda asked her.
Asami smiled again. She could see why Korra liked him so much. "I'll be fine, Hakoda. Thank you."
He nodded and went back outside but turned back to the captain before leaving. "By the way, Captain, you can take as long as you want. Mako is doing a fine job whipping the men into shape."
Korra chuckled. "I knew he could, but..." She looked over to Asami, and the two came to a wordless agreement. "We'll be out later."
The two women sat down at the table, and Asami couldn't help but smile. "Thank you."
Korra chuckled. "You are welcome, Sato."
I've been sitting on this story for a long time now, you can probably tell from the detail. Backstories are fun to write, even if it does mean putting characters through hardships like Korra here. But... No, I don't really have anything else, hope it lived up to what you were expecting it was.
Chapter 13: The Exchange
-"Keep your feet wide!" Korra yelled.
Asami had thrown herself head-first into her swordsmanship, which was mostly a way to keep herself occupied. She knew they were closing in on Omashu and that she would have to make a decision sooner rather than later. And the weird thing was, Korra was not pushing her either way. If she really wanted Asami to stay, she sure wasn't showing it. She'd have thought that after their kiss and the night they spent in bed together, things would be rather obvious, but they weren't.
It was more like they were right back to where they were after they went to the springs together. The captain was slowly letting her guard down but at the same time keeping her an arm's length away.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the sword training. Korra had gone back to overseeing more than actual hands-on training. Right now, Asami was sparring with Mako, who was proving a formidable opponent, even though she could sense he was going easy on her.
Asami parried his strikes, one after the other hitting her steel. She was still using the cutlass Korra had given her, because two weeks of training can only gain you so much muscle and longer swords were still a bit heavy for her.
Trying not to let him push her back to much was difficult enough without having Korra yelling at her, even though she meant well.
-"You're not going down easy, are you, Sato?" Mako smirked.
She chuckled. "And here I was thinking you didn't like girls for that," she replied, but soft enough that only he could hear it.
At this, he actually laughed, which was a strange thing to hear. Mako did not laugh often. "Good point."
He left himself open to an attack for a moment, and Asami decided to seize it. But with a swordsman as experienced as him, she barely stood a chance, no matter how distracted he was. It was easy enough for him to deflect her blows, but he did briefly let down his guard, which was enough for the heiress to put her sword up to his neck. "Gotcha."
-"No, you didn't," Korra piped up behind her.
This had Asami confused. "What do you mean? My sword is up to his neck."
The captain just smiled. "Mako?"
He gave her a soft tap on her leg, which Asami already knew wasn't terrible well-footed, but not that a soft kick like that was enough to send her falling towards the deck. Korra caught her by the arm though, preventing her from making a nasty smack. "This is what I mean. First thing to watch is your opponent's hand, the second thing is your footing, which you neglected here. If this had been a real fight, he would have killed you." With this, the captain dropped her the last couple of inches onto her back.
"Ow," Asami dryly commented.
Korra chuckled, but also realized they needed to get back to business. "Alright, that's enough practice for now. We're coming up on port, so we need to start preparing."
-"Right." Mako quickly threw his shirt back on while Asami made her way up to the quarterdeck standing next to the captain, who was yelling various orders at her men.
After making sure that everyone was busy, the captain turned around and noticed Asami standing right behind her. "What is it?"
Blushing, she said, "Oh, well, nothing. I just wanted you to know that you were right."
At that, the captain raised an eyebrow. "Oh? About what?"
"My father," Asami sighed, finally putting it out there. "You opened my eyes about him. I was holding on to the image he presented of himself rather than seeing what actually lies behind it. I guess I did it because he is my only family, and..." She paused for a moment, because this wasn't going to be an easy admission. Korra stayed patient though, waiting for her to finish. "And I didn't want it to be true."
-"Hey, I get it," Korra said with a genuine smile. "Like I said, betrayal is an awful thing."
The heiress nodded. "It is, but it also gave me clarity on what I should do."
Asami took a deep breath, because this really was it. She hadn't been able to think about anything else since she heard the admission of Amon's Lieutenant, but there was no putting it off any longer. "Korra, I want to stay. I don't want to go back with a man who tried to have me killed because it's expected of me. I want to choose for myself."
Korra smiled and put a hand on her shoulder. "You are always welcome here, and I am glad you decided to stay."
"Really? Because it doesn't feel that way. It felt more like you were keeping me at a distance."
-"That's because I wanted you to make the decision for yourself. It is a big decision, and even though I was hoping for this outcome, I couldn't steer you towards it. I don't want you to regret this."
"I won't. Like you said: you're free above all else, and now I am too."
Korra's smile grew. "Glad to hear that. Now to be rude, but you do smell quite bad, and coming from me, you know that means something."
Asami chuckled. "I do. Doesn't matter, you have a ship to moor anyway. I'll go and clean up."
-"You do that, Sato."
Pulling the ship into the port of Omashu was more satisfying than normal. Korra had quickly made the announcement to the crew that Asami was staying, which was met with plenty of enthusiasm. The crew liked her, even if they knew very well to keep it polite with Korra's rules and all.
More importantly, Asami had grown fond of a lot of crewmembers. Sure, there were people like Tahno, but for every one of them, there were also people like Mako and Bolin, who treated her like one of their own. It made Korra smile, to see Asami grow into the crew so seamlessly.
Of course, this did put the captain in a precarious position. On one hand, Hiroshi would probably show up, because even if he didn't expect to meet her here for the exchange, he would still need to pay Amon. He wouldn't be dumb enough to go here, but since Amon wouldn't show up anywhere else, Hiroshi would reach the conclusion soon enough that this was where he needed to go.
On the other hand was the issue of them. Korra had dismissed it because it would only make saying goodbye harder, but now that notion was off the table, it didn't matter so much anymore. It wasn't even that Korra didn't want it, God, she wanted it more than anything, and yet, it felt wrong to just waltz into her cabin and take Asami right now, if she wanted to, of course.
The heiress had just made a momentous decision that would likely change her life forever, she didn't need that right now. What she really needed was a friend, so Korra would be that for her, however long was necessary.
As they weighed the anchor, the crew quickly started to disperse to spend their shares of the Equalist's treasure on drink and whores, which always made Korra shake her head. It was amazing how they cared so little for the value of money. Then again, most of them were here because they were outcasts where they came from, and this was their chance to pretend living the high life.
She watched another boat leave from the quarterdeck when Mako joined her. "Captain," he said.
"Mako. Not that eager to get ashore?"
-"No, not per se. I could ask you the same thing."
Korra chuckled. "Don't have anything there worth doing. Besides, we just have to wait and see if Hiroshi Sato will actually show up here. Someone has to be ready for him."
He nodded. "And that person is going to be you."
"Have to think up a way to get a sit-down with him, because a sword to Asami's neck just isn't going to cut it. We'll have to be smarter than that." It briefly fell silent between them, and Korra smiled at him. "Go catch the next longboat, Mako. I'm sure Wu is waiting for you."
Mako chuckled. "Aye, Captain."
The next week passed in a haze. With a lot of effort, Korra managed to span the main course sail over the deck, providing it with a lot of shade, which was very comfortable.
Both she and Asami had settled into a routine, where they spent most of the day lounging around with the occasional hour of sword practice, but no more than that, with the risk of overheating, even under the shadow of their sail. The crew occasionally came back aboard, and Korra had ordered them to get some more supplies, partly in case they needed to sail out, but mostly so that she could continue to live here.
-"Whoa, since when do warships make port here?" Korra overheard one of her crewmen asking.
-"Over there," he pointed at a ship slowly making its way towards the port of Omashu. "Looks like a man-of-war to me."
Korra quickly fetched a spyglass, and saw that he wasn't kidding. "Fuck me..." she whispered to herself, but Asami heard it.
-"Are those Fire Nation colors?"
"They are," the captain affirmed. "I'm more worried about... at least 80 guns spread across two decks. She's a beast, and I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of that."
Asami still wasn't convinced though. "Can I have that for a moment?" she asked, referring to Korra's spyglass. The captain handed it over, not sure what she was expecting to happen. "Oh wow, are we screwed."
This actually instilled a bit of fear in Korra, a feeling she wasn't used to. "Care to explain?"
-"That's the Sea Dragon, one of the most powerful ships in the Fire Navy. They wouldn't be here unless it was for a very good reason, so it's highly likely that my father is aboard her."
Korra nodded. "Okay, it's only one ship, so their plan probably isn't to make us all eat lead. That being said, I also don't want to be around here if they change their minds. Mr. Lao, you are going to go ashore with and find the crew. I want everyone back aboard here in an hour. Asami, you're coming with me, we're going to get some insurance."
She raised an eyebrow. "Insurance?"
The captain let a sly smile creep across her face. "You think it's a coincidence I moored us so close to the fort? Let's go."
Soon enough, Korra was knocking on the door of the fort, and naturally, she was let in, as she was a regular here, and a good friend. "Bumi!" she bellowed at seeing him again.
-"A warship shows up in my harbor, so I guess I should have known you weren't far away," he said with a smirk while shaking her hand. "And who's your lovely friend here?"
"Bumi, this is Asami Sato, the reason that ship is here, and Asami, this is Commander Bumi," she said, rolling her eyes. Bumi was the captain of a pirate ship after having fallen from grace in the navy, and managed to put himself and his crew on top of the fort. He took a bite out of most business in exchange for protection from anything that came close, and he was good at that. Ever since then, he insisted that everyone calls him 'commander' as he wasn't a captain when he wasn't on a ship.
-"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss," he said and promptly kissed Asami's hand. She exchanged a confused look with Korra, who rolled her eyes again.
The heiress still didn't know what to think. "Pleasure is mine... I suppose..."
Korra chuckled. "Look, Bumi, I'd love to exchange pleasantries all day long, but we have some business we need to get to. That warship carries her father, and he's going to pay her ransom. Now, Asami here doesn't actually want to go back, so we might just need some cover. Do you still have those 36-pounders here?"
Bumi laughed at this question. "Aye, of course we do. Those aren't going anywhere, even if we wanted to."
That was a good point. Those guns were heavy beyond belief, and were easily capable of firing all the way across the bay if they had to. Korra put a pouch of coins on the table. "I hope that covers any expenses. If we do get trouble from them and you help us out, there'll be another one of those."
The commander picked it up and smiled. "Oh, this'll buy you all the protection you need. Consider it done."
"Thank you." Bumi started to stand, but Korra stopped him. "One more thing," she said, and turned to Asami. "Mind staying here for a couple of hours? I'll come get you before the exchange, I promise. I just want a word with your father beforehand, and the key is that you aren't there."
Asami looked a little confused. "What are you going to do?"
Korra took her hand. "Do you trust me?"
This made Asami think for a moment, but she nodded. "I do."
"Then trust me now. It's gonna be fine." Korra gave her one last squeeze of her hand and then made for the gate, but Asami caught up with her before she actually got out.
-"Korra, wait." She lowered her voice a little before continuing. "I trust you, but can we trust Bumi? I mean, my father can easily outbid you. How do we know he won't sell us out?"
The captain smiled. "Don't worry. To Bumi, loyalty is not for sale, at least not the kind we're talking about here. You can buy his favors, but loyalty, like there is between him and me, that has to be earned."
Asami chuckled. "Okay. Guess I'll just wait here."
"Bumi will take care of you, don't worry. I'll be back soon enough, okay?"
-"Okay. And be careful with my father. He's dangerous."
Korra smiled. "So am I."
The plan was pretty simple, really. Korra had sent a boy to run over to the Sea Dragon to find Hiroshi Sato and give him a note, saying to meet her here, because she had something far better for him than Asami.
She was sitting at a table in the tavern, two ales in front of her. The least she could do was placate him, and if nothing else, piss him off even more.
It was obvious when he came in. There were at least five guards, and Korra suspected a few more outside, but Hiroshi Sato himself was kind of disappointing. He was a bit on the fat side, with a big mustache and gold spectacles perched on his nose. Definitely a wealthy man, judging by his neatly combed hair and expensive suit, but Korra couldn't help but think that he was shorter than her.
The runner came up to Korra, and she smiled. "Good job, kid," she said, flicking a second coin at him. "Now beat it." After this, the captain turned to the actual reason she was here. "Mr. Sato."
He raised an eyebrow. "You have my daughter?"
-"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't have my men kill you right here and now."
"Because you wouldn't walk away from this alive either." Korra pulled down the neck of her sleeveless tunic, revealing the brand on her chest. "I'm not the only one in here with one of these, and there are plenty of people without who'd like to see you pushing up daisies. Sit down, please."
He didn't. "So you're a slave."
"Do I look like a slave to you?" He said nothing, making Korra smile. "Mr. Sato, you are a despicable human being. I could reach over this table right now and choke the life out of you without ever changing a shade, but in the interest of business, I'm not going to. Now sit down."
Reluctantly, Hiroshi took a seat across from the pirate captain, who pushed the second drink over to him. He eyed it up with disgust. "You'd think I'd be stupid enough to drink that? I'd be dead before my body hits the floor."
"There's no point in killing you. You still have something I want, I still have something you want. Least we can do is talk like civilized people." Korra smiled as he still didn't take it, so instead, she just pulled the cup towards her and took a sip herself. "Oh, one thing I should mention: I can see you're wondering why you're talking to me and not to your dog. Simple, really." She threw Amon's mask on the table, and the look of shock on Hiroshi's face was priceless. "Of course, that's what any caring father would do: give everything to get his daughter back, even hire mercenaries. But imagine what her reaction would be if she heard that you hired Amon to kill her instead."
-"So you figured that out," he scoffed. "Why are we still talking? You said you had something better."
"Mr. Sato, I don't care that you've written off your own daughter like she was a broken cup. She, however, doesn't know that." Of course it was a blatant lie, but one that was needed for him to play ball. Besides, Korra had very little trouble lying to a man like him. "Imagine the scandal, your daughter telling everyone that her own father ordered a hit on her to avoid paying her ransom... The damage it would cause your name..."
This last bit was what put a look of fear in his eyes. It would tear down his entire good name, doing something that cold to his own family. "Fine," he gave in. "What's your price?"
"You know my price. 50,000 gold pieces, delivered to my ship in one hour. You and four guards, or we sail away. That, and the slave I asked you for in my ransom note."
-"I don't have her."
"You didn't even look for her, did you?"
-"I don't care about your slave, I care about my name."
"60,000," Korra continued with a smile.
He scoffed. "You bitch. You think you can get away with this?"
"Yes. Mr. Sato, if you keep arguing, the price will keep going up." His expression only became angrier at this, and the captain knew she had him by the balls. "One hour, aboard my ship, with the treasure, four guards and no more. If you don't agree to that, we're going to give some reporter the best day of his life. We both know how the newspapers love a juicy scandal." Korra chugged the remainder of her drink and stood up while she not-so-subtly adjusted her sword belt. "One hour, Mr. Sato," she repeated, and then finally left.
During the hour and a half that Asami had to wait in the fort, a terrible thought came to her.
What would happen to her father?
There was so much pain and suffering at his hands from Korra's end, and she had this one chance to get her revenge. Knowing her, she wouldn't want to let this one slip away.
And honestly, Asami didn't know how to feel about that. Ever since she learned how her father had sent Amon to kill her, everything about her father had been conflicting, and she didn't know how to feel about any of it. He was a terrible human being with more blood on his hands than the entire crew of the Aurora combined, he always tried to cover that up with a mountain of decency and good manners, but it was all just a smokescreen.
But he was still her father. The man who raised her, her only family.
And the man who sent a pirate after his only daughter to kill her.
Even after Korra came back to get her and they were on their way back to the ship, the captain picked up on Asami being distant. "Is something bothering you?"
The heiress sighed. "What is going to happen to my father after the deal? He's not going to be happy when he finds out you lied to him."
-"No, he won't be." Korra thought for a moment. "You know what I'm going to do, but I don't think you want to know. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss."
Asami was silent for a while after this. "You're going to kill him, aren't you?" she softly asked.
Korra didn't immediately answer. It looked like she was choosing her words very carefully. "I certainly want to. But what would you want?"
"I don't know," she said. "How is it that to a question like that, all I can say is 'I don't know'?"
-"Because it's one with an impossible answer," Korra offered. There was a look of understanding in her eyes, but right now, that did little to help Asami figure out what to say. "Do you think he is beyond redemption?" the captain asked.
"Don't know that either. Korra, I don't know what to think about anything anymore, especially my father. Can I talk to him before I give you an answer?"
Korra smiled. "I'll make sure you do."
Even though Korra had done hostage exchanges before, she was nervous about this one. She could feel the 80 guns of the Sea Dragon, all probably primed and ready to fire at the Aurora, but at the same time, her guns were loaded too, not to mention the guns on Bumi's fort to have her back. It would be a slaughter of epic proportions.
Not to mention what Asami would choose to do. Korra certainly didn't expect much of him, but she didn't want to say that out loud.
The crew was restless, anxious to see what would happen, and partly because they wanted to see if they would actually get paid.
-"Captain," Mako said, getting her attention. "We have incoming."
Korra looked out over the bay, seeing a long boat with only a handful of people in it, but it looked like Hiroshi Sato was one of them. "Tell the men to prepare the winch. We have something heavy to lift."
Soon, the longboat was alongside the Aurora, and Hiroshi Sato and two men climbed aboard. They were met with a heavily armed crew standing all around them, and the man in what looked like the highest ranking uniform got visibly nervous.
"Relax," Korra said. "They won't harm you unless you do something very stupid. Did you bring the treasure?"
-"In the boat," the officer immediately answered.
-"Hold on." It was Hiroshi who intervened. "I want to see my daughter first."
Korra nodded. "Or course. Go get her," she told Bolin.
Soon enough, she appeared on deck as well, and her father was clearly struggling to stay in character. "Asami, are you okay? Did they harm you?"
-"I'm fine," she curtly answered.
The captain clapped her hands. "Good. Now that we have the family reunion out of the way, let's see some money." A rope was lowered into the longboat, where the remaining two guards tied it around the chest, and Korra smiled when she saw how hard her men had to work to bring it aboard the Aurora.
Though it should be noted that the tension on deck could be cut with a knife. Neither Asami nor Hiroshi spoke up, and the pirates all stayed quiet too. This gave Korra a chance to eye up the officer, who looked a bit young for his rank, and way too nervous. He probably got where he was because of his lineage instead of merit of any kind.
The chest was put down on the deck with a heavy thud, breaking Korra out of her thoughts. "Hakoda, do a quick count of that, tell me if it's real."
He knelt next to the chest, and when he opened it, the pirate captain smiled. A large chest full of coins, the golden shimmer coming off of them practically making her men salivate. The looks in their eye betrayed a desire to jump on the chest and stuff their pocket with as much as they could grab.
None of them did though, and patiently waited for Hakoda to finish his assessment. "It's all here."
"Good, then we can close the deal," Korra nodded, and stepped aside to let Asami step into the opening that had formed between the semi circle of pirates and Hiroshi with his men.
-"It's time to go home, Asami," he said, clearly with a fake smile. "We'll get you some decent clothes on the way, but you should be around this lot any longer."
-"How could you, Dad?" she asked, remaining stoic.
It confused him. "Do what?"
-"You tried to have me killed!"
His eyes grew wide with fear as he realized what had happened. "You lied to me!" he yelled at Korra, who simply kept on smiling.
"Oops. Must have slipped my mind."
This did very little to calm Hiroshi's anger, who reached for a pistol on the belt of one of his guards, but Korra and the other pirates were quick. She pulled out her own pistol and leapt forward, putting it right on his cheek. "Mr. Sato, you want to think very carefully about your next move. You are outgunned, outnumbered, and if you make one wrong move now, you'll be the first one to die."
He thought about it for a moment, but soon enough realized that his chances of success were virtually nil, so he let go of the pistol while it was still on the officer's belt and took a step back.
"Good," Korra nodded, lowering her own pistol again. The crew however, kept them all pointed at the five men who didn't belong here.
-"I knew I couldn't trust you. Never could trust a Water Triber. Liars and thieves, all of you."
"And yet you let me play you like a fucking fiddle."
Hiroshi ignored this comment to the best of his ability, trying to turn back to Asami. "Where are you going to go? Stay here? Be a pirate? Throw away everything our name stands for?"
Asami scoffed. "'Our name'? Our name stands for nothing but misery and oppression outside of the Fire Nation. It is branded on her fucking chest!"
-"She..." Hiroshi stopped. "We are better than them, Asami. And yet you are willing to just give that up and join this savage?"
-"We are not better than them. Korra is a better person than both of us put together. She showed me what you really do, the lies you fed me my entire life. What I've been letting you do, without ever protesting or even questioning you!" She scoffed. "She's not the savage here, Dad. You are."
Asami turned around, and with the entire crew pretty much holding their breath, she closed in on Korra, stopping only when their faces were nearly touching. "Please don't hate me for this," the heiress whispered, and gently pressed their lips together.
Of course, no way could Korra hate her for that. In fact, she surrendered fully, even forgetting that she was doing this in front of Hiroshi Sato, because by God, was this worth it. It was nothing like their incredibly rushed and clumsy kiss during the battle with the Equalist. Instead, it was passionate, with neither of them being afraid of anything. It was like the rest of the world just stopped existing for a moment, and Korra felt like she was flying. Unfortunately, not even the best moments can last forever, and when they broke apart again, Asami rested her forehead against Korra's. "You can do that any time you want, I'll never hate you for that," the captain breathlessly chuckled.
Asami chuckled too, but soon lowered her voice. "I'm not going anywhere, Korra."
"I know," she breathed. They finally created some more room between them, and turned to look at Hiroshi, who had gone red with anger, and was unable to form any words.
-"He's all yours," Asami said. "There's no redeeming him."
Korra nodded. "Aye. Go back inside, Asami. You don't want to see this."
She did, and Korra watched as Hiroshi Sato's expression slowly turned from anger to fear. "What are you going to do to me?"
"Well, you took my family and marked me for life. Since we're now even on that first part, it only stands to reason we work on the second part next." She turned to Mako. "Bring it."
He nodded and quickly went below deck, only to come back up again a minute later, now holding a small object.
-"What is that?" Hiroshi asked, now slowly panicking.
Korra's smile grew. "A few weeks ago, we captured the Rhino, one of your ships, and I found this aboard. Figured I'd keep it, because a souvenir like this would come in handy in case our meeting would take place." She finally held it where Hiroshi could see it.
It was the brand used on his slaves, heated up in the galley furnace until it was red-hot.
The captain nodded to the two men standing behind him, and they kicked him in the back of his knees, forcing him onto the deck.
"Mr. Sato," Korra whispered while she was closing in on him. "Consider us even." With this, she pushed the brand into his forehead, making him scream in pain as his flesh seared.
She held it there for a few seconds, before pulling back entirely. The same cog on Korra's chest was now on his head for the entire world to see. "Now you know what you do to people," she said. With that, Korra put the brand in a bucket of water, making sure it wouldn't burn her ship down.
Korra decided the right thing to do now was to let him suffer for a bit, so she turned to the officer of the Sea Dragon. "Are you in charge of that ship?
-"I - I am..." he hesitantly answered, clearly terrified by what he just witnessed.
"Good. You are going to go back there, and tell them exactly what happened here. Then your captain will probably tell you to ready the guns, but before that happens, you should remember this: the only reason nobody has blown you out of the water yet is because I don't want them to. We have an alliance with the fort on the hill, and any move against us will mean they let loose with everything they have. So the only thing you're going to do is raise your anchor, put Omashu to your rudder and don't stop until you hit Fire Nation shores. Do we have an agreement?"
He looked around to his men enthusiastically nodding, rather inclined to accept Korra's proposal, as it would keep them alive. "Alright," he cautiously agreed.
He moved to take Hiroshi by the arm, but soon found his way blocked by Korra. "What do you think you're doing?"
-"Taking him with me, of course."
"He's staying here." Her tone left nothing to the imagination: there was no room for discussion there.
-"That wasn't part of the deal," the officer tried.
Korra just scoffed. "Deal has changed. Now you better take this one before it changes again." This time around, he actually got the message, and he and his men worked their way back down to their longboat, where the crew watched them row away, back to the Sea Dragon.
-"You think they'll actually leave?" Mako asked when he stood beside his captain.
"Probably. Picking a fight here is suicide, and they know it. Half a dozen pirate ships in here, and the fort? Not even the best man-of-war can take on a fleet like that."
-"And what are we going to do about him?" he continued, pointing to Hiroshi.
Korra smiled. "Well... Hakoda," she said, turning to her quartermaster. "Would you do the honors? You have the same brand as I do, after all."
Hakoda smiled. "My pleasure, Captain." He pulled out a knife and slowly stalked over to Hiroshi. "Mr. Sato... I hope you burn in hell." With that, he stuck a knife between his ribs, making sure he'd bleed out sooner rather than later.
He struggled to hang on to life a little longer, but soon his lifeless body soon fell flat on the deck.
Korra just watched it all happen. "Take his body to the shore. Make sure everyone can see him."
Hakoda and a few men took care of that, while Korra decided to go back to her cabin, where Asami was nervously pacing around. She looked up when the captain entered, a questioning look in her eyes. "Is it done?"
"Yes," Korra simply answered.
Asami nodded. "Then I don't want to know any more."
It sounded a little detached, but Korra understood. It's not every day that you basically sentence your own father to die.
"Hey," she said, taking Asami's hand in her own and pulling her in for a hug. "I'm glad you've decided to stay." She pressed a slow and gentle kiss on the heiress' lips. "I really am."
Asami smiled. "So am I."
Well folks, we are nearing the end of She's a Pirate. Only the epilogue left from here, but don't worry, I have been having some thoughts of a sequel.
When she woke up in the faint light of the rising sun seeping in through the cabin windows, Asami was momentarily a little confused.
It wasn't that she woke up pressed against the strong body of her captain, it was the lack of clothing that really threw her off. They had been sleeping in the same bed for the past week since the exchange with her father, gradually building trust and comfort in their relationship. Korra's legs were intertwined with her own and their breasts were pressing together, and the further Asami looked the less clothes she discovered. There was no getting around the fact that they were both as naked as the day they were born.
But then the heiress felt a pleasant burning sensation in her muscles, and she suddenly remembered why: last night, she had finally dared to give Korra her virginity.
And it had been a truly amazing experience. As rough and rude as Korra could be, she was so tender and gentle when they were in bed together, most of the time pressing soft kisses on every inch of Asami's skin. Her hands were skilled, and in spite of the fact that they had been roughed up by years of fighting and seafaring, still had the power to make Asami feel safe, even when she was at her most vulnerable.
Nowhere was this more apparent than their current predicament, because Asami didn't feel the least bit frightened. A little nervous, maybe, because she had eased her nerves with a single glass of rum, but she hadn't been fully drunk. Neither of them had been, because Korra was almost just as nervous for this as Asami was, which was weird, considering her experience.
But it also made sense, since Korra was not used to sharing her bed with someone she actually trusted and cared for, normally only with whores or other women who just wanted a quick screw. And of course Asami was well-aware of that, but it was just pretty hard to care now that they were together at last.
Korra suddenly began stirring, stretching some of her muscles that hadn't fully committed to waking up yet.
"That tickles, you know," Asami giggled at the sensation of Korra's pubic hair brushing on her thigh.
The captain chuckled. "Sorry. Guess I should shave a bit more often now, shouldn't I?"
Asami shrugged. "I don't care. It's a part of you, and I love it all." Korra smiled and rolled forward a little, pressing a soft kiss on her lips. "Okay, maybe not the morning breath," the heiress added.
At this, Korra laughed and gave her a shove, finally splitting them. The captain had rolled back, now on full display, while Asami was at least still partially covered by the single sheet they had slept under.
Knowing that they were in absolutely no rush to go anywhere, the heiress traced her finger over the multitude of Korra's scars, trying to memorize all of them.
As Asami was doing that, she shifted in the bed a little, and two things happened: first of all, the sheet slipped off her hips but stayed on her torso, not that she cared much, and second, the edge of the bed started poking her in the hips. "Hmm, if I'm going to be sleeping in this bed, we definitely need to do some remodeling," she chuckled.
Korra chuckled and rolled her head, facing Asami again. "I guess... Though I wouldn't rush it, because this one means I get to play with you some more..." She ran her fingers over Asami's arm, down to her side, finally to her hips. "Hold on," she suddenly said, and pushed herself up in bed. "How did I not notice this last night?" Korra was clearly staring at Asami's new tattoo, that she got over the week on her hip.
"Maybe because you were a little busy? It was also dark, I'm not surprised you missed a few things," the heiress answered.
The captain raised an eyebrow as she ran her fingers over it, trying to get aquainted with the light scarring a tattoo would give her for the time being. "Why did you get it?"
Asami sighed. "Because of you." It was a compass rose, with the four cardinal directions marked. Not that that answered much to Korra, she still looked confused. "You gave my moral compass a good whack, and now because of you, it's pointing north again. Hakoda did it, and I asked him not to tell you. I wanted it to be a surprise."
Korra smiled. "Well, I love it." She pressed a gentle kiss on it, and then continued to kiss her way up, slowly letting the sheet slip off Asami's body. When they were face to face again, the heiress had rolled onto her back again, and Korra was right on top of her. "Ready for round two?"
Asami's smile grew. "Definitely."
It was practically noon by the time Korra and Asami emerged from the captain's cabin, mostly because none of the crew had had the gall to disturb them. Probably because they weren't exactly being quiet and none of them would want to face the wrath of Korra if they interrupted her private time with Asami.
But as they walked to the quarterdeck, Korra couldn't help but shake her head at a coy smiles being thrown her way. Of course, she wasn't really pertubed by them as much as Asami was, who was slowly turning pretty darn red.
-"Captain," Mako greeted her. "Been busy?"
"Christ, not you too. It's not like we were the only ones fucking last night."
He nodded, but didn't seem convinced. "Be that as it may, everyone aboard couldn't hear them go at it."
Korra looked over to Asami, who had resorted to burying her face in her hands from the shame, and decided to put an end to it. "Alright, that's enough about our nighttime activities. How are we looking?"
-"Right. Well, the crew is antsy and excited to raid the Sato Manor, so we're ready for a long journey."
The captain turned to Asami. "You sure you want to let this lot in there?"
-"I am. That place was a prison. All I want out of it are my mother's things."
"And I'll make sure those are off limits," Korra nodded. "Well, Mako, it looks like we're ready. Weigh the anchor, drop the sails, we go full canvas. Winds are good, and she's ready."
Mako smiled. "Aye, Captain." He repeated her orders, and before long, they were out at full sea again, headed for the Fire Nation.
After everything was set, she looked up Asami again, who was in the galley, making initial preparations for dinner. "Hey, Sato."
-"Captain," she replied with a grin. They'd been calling each other that for so long that it almost felt unnatural to be doing it differently.
"Do you really think we can find information on my mother at your house?" This was information that Asami had shared after the exchange, and Korra realized it would be a pretty good reason to go there for her. The crew got excited at the prospect of more gold locked in Hiroshi's vault, right up for the taking. It was a risk going to the Fire Nation, but if Kora could get a lead on her mother, it would be worth it.
Asami nodded. "If you can find it anywhere, it'll be there. We're going to find her. After everything you've done for me, that's one thing I can help you do."
Korra chuckled. "I suppose that's fair enough."
-"Captain!" someone called from the stairs. "We need you up on deck."
"Aye, I'll be right there." She turned back to Asami. "Come on, one more kiss, and then I'll let you get back to it."
The heiress happily obliged, laughing as Korra made her way back on deck.
It turned out to be only a small thing, and soon enough, Korra and Mako were back on the quarterdeck when they saw Asami emerge from the lower deck to announce dinner was ready.
Mako chuckled and shook his head. "You really hit a bullseye with this one, you know that, right?"
Kora smiled. "Of course I do. I'm pretty much the luckiest asshole on the planet."
"Very true. And yet, I keep wondering, how is it that you, of all people, managed to hook a noblewoman?"
Korra smiled. "Mostly my rugged charms. Besides, she's not a noblewoman," she continued, turning to face Asami, who joined them on the quarterdeck and pressed a quick kiss on her lips. "She's a pirate."
Well everyone, this is finally it. What started as a fun little one-shot ended up as a 40.000 word story, but hey, that's life sometimes. All of you have been absolutely wonderful, I have gotten so many great reviews for this story, it's just amazing. Thank you, all of you.
As for the sequel, well, I do have some ideas for that, and some of you correctly guessed what that is about, and I'm hoping to get started on that not too long from now. Before that though, there is Korrasami Week on the horizon, and I do want to address that briefly. In short, I won't be following the prompts set on Tumblr, mostly because I think they're just a little dull, and for a more detailed explanation, go here.
That's all for now folks, I hope to see you there, and also at the sequel. Take care!