Word spread of a new flag making rounds across the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas fast.
A jolly roger never seen before with a cracked skull and silhouette of a shark, mouth wide and ready for the attack just appeared one day and over night became a ship to be feared. No one knew of where they came from or who they were, but one thing rang true to all those that witnessed it.
They were untouchable.
Expertly aimed canons and mortars took out most ships before they were even within range to return fire. If they were to get close enough, all those aboard would suddenly stop everything and leap overboard. There wasn’t a single scratch on it’s hull.
A few random smaller sunken ships under the belt later, a pattern began.
All vessels under the Silas flag were destroyed on sight. Not a single survivor left to tell the tale. For all the company knew, they had disappeared completely.
“An outrage!” he screamed, pounding his old fist on the desk,”Wretched plague of the sea I shall tear down that blasted ship plank by plank!”
With sword and pistol strapped to his chest, and walking cane, he called forth his mightiest ship and set sail for the single flag that was destroying his company.
He didn’t have to search long, out of the safety of the harbor, they were waiting for him.
A flash of explosives from the deck of the pirate vessel sent the navy men into a frenzy as fire and metal rained from the sky, setting their sails ablaze and bow to pieces. Perfectly timed and pinpoint accurate mortar canons already shifted the tide of this battle and they had yet to fire a single shot.
“Feiglinge! Return Fire!” he screamed, walking cane and sword shaking up at the offending vessel now finally approaching.
Another volley of canon fire exploded into the air, tearing apart what was left of their mast and sails with a set of canon balls attached with heavy chains, wrapping around the rigging and tearing straight through beams.
Seasoned navy men, just moments ago full of pride and strength having their commander on board were either injured, dead or on fire. Chucks of wood, metal and fiery sails fell around him and yet he continued to scream out.
“Cowards! Is that the best you’ve got?!”
An ungodly hiss and snarl responded, a beautiful golden engraved blade fell from his hand as he watched a blur of grey and spots leap out of the ocean and tackled a sailor straight off of the ship. Then another, brown with stripes, jumped up and latched onto a man’s neck knocking him back with it’s massive jaws. Pitch black eyes making sure he was watching as it dragged the screaming man, choking on his own blood, off the port bow and back into the sea. The very thing he had heard stories and knew of and there it was in the flesh and after him.
Between the splitting wood and canon fire, he spun around as a splash accompanied a sick snarl, a flash of grey and black knocked the wind right out of him and off his feet. What was left of the railing still held strong as he collided into it, slamming his back against it with a thick crack.
And there it was. The thing all men feared and saw before they met their maker.
She clawed at the deck, her long tail lashing out and pushing herself forward towards him, fangs barred and eyes as deep and dark as the pit. His back most likely broken in several places and unable to move, he pushed himself up further against the rail in a futile attempt to get away.
“Bring him to me” a voice called out, just inches from nails reaching his skin.
He looked up and past the snarling mershark not realizing the canon fire had ceased and the vessel he had every intention of destroying that day was calmly turning to its side, ready to dock his ship.
The shark immediately responded with a hiss and grabbed the old man by the collar before leaping up and over the rail with him in tow into the ocean. He struggled in vain, clawing at it’s wrist to be free, but it was too fast, pushing through the current as if it were nothing. Water pressure forcibly pushing against his face and chest he could do nothing but let himself be dragged underneath both ships.
Another pair of hands dug into his arm, and from the depths of the ocean, he found himself thrown up and out of the water and into the air, landing flat on his back on the deck of the pirate ship.
The old man cough and sputtered water and blood, heaving and groaning in pain he curled up, attempting to stand but was promptly kicked in the chest back to lie flat.
Furiously wiping his face of water he finally cracked an eye open to find a dirty boot on his chest and a shadow kneeling above him. Needless to say he was quite shocked to find a familiar face, smiling down at him like she did so every morning for years.
“Guten morgan herr Vordenburg”
“….Hollis…?” he sputtered, those innocent brown eyes that anxiously awaited to take his coat and hat at the office. Eager to please but was often ignored now looking down at him with a smile, and yet he had never felt more unease at those dimples.
A silent fury resided behind them.
“Welcome aboard The Haifischzahn” she smiled, standing up as a set of hands grabbed him by the shirt and yanked him up to his knees,”My ship”
Strong arms held him by the shoulders as he looked around in utter horror, familiar faces though he never bothered to learn their names, faces he had hoped to never see again as they set sail in search for their lost Captain.
Yet there she stood, proud and tall in clothes that actually fit her frame with her hand on her hips, casually stroking the shark tooth that hung around her neck.
“You….all of you?! I shall have you all hung for this!” he growled though was stifled as the strong arms squeezed down on him.
“What should we do with him Captain?”
She poked her chin in thought as she looked him up and down,“Vordenburg isn’t enough to feed three sharks”
The crew let out a hearty laughed as he gulped, struggling against the pair of arms that forced him to his feet.
“Find three of the biggest men they have and take them with us, kill the rest”
In an instant, her loyal crew set out to complete their task, taking ropes and planks to board his ship, cutting down anyone that stood in their way.
“HOLLIS. LAURA HOLLIS HAVE YOU GONE MAD?!” he screamed, thrashing and kicking the entire way down to being dragged to the hold of the ship.
“No” she mumbled under her breath, watching the organize chaos unfold before her with a small smile,”…just…done…”
The sun had set on the horizon not too long ago now, leaving a gentle brush of orange and red as a final goodbye to the sky before setting the stage for the stars and moon.
Laura knew what she wanted from the moment she decided to doom herself to this life. From the moment she watched her flag be raised above her ship. After months of the thoughts and fantasizing of it, it was finally happening. Her hands began to sweat as she gripped her blade tight and stepped forward.
“Baron Vordenburg” she started, the crew behind her screaming and shouting obscenities at the old man who could only stare back in disgust and terror.
“You stand accused of the following”
Laura waited until Vordenburg’s ship was nothing but a shadow in the depths before setting sail towards the very island she was stranded on.
“Withholding important information, allowing me to send three ships out to sea in dangerous territory”
The cliff side that hung over the crashing waves against sharp and jagged rocks where she met her savior for the first time made for an excellent plank for her prisoner.
“Thus responsible for sending the men and women of the ships: The Sarah Jane, Betty and The Natalie to their deaths under my name”
A set of small bonfires with food and drink were at the ready on the beach for their celebration of freedom.
“And knowingly sending out a weakened vessel to sea, endangering the lives of my crew”
They jeered and booed, clearly some of them had already cracked open a bottle or two as they screamed.
“How do you plea?”
“This is insanity!”
Laura’s blade dug into his chest, forcing him back three steps closer to the edge, “ANSWER ME”
Vordenburg glanced over his shoulder, just another step away from plunging into the depths and what was lurking beneath it. Three dorsal fins circled anxiously below, waiting for their snack.
“L-laura, you poor confused girl. Look at yourself and what you’re doing, why if your father were-”
“DO NOT SPEAK OF MY FATHER” she snapped, the tip of her blade now dug into the curve of his neck underneath his chin, thin lines of blood slowly trickled onto his cravat, “I am sick and tired of people telling me what I can and cannot do” she was shaking, her knuckles white from gripping her blade so tight she could no longer feel her hand.
“I’m still here, I will always be here. No storm or sharks or idiotic man who thinks he knows better will ever change that”
One step forward and her blade thrust straight through his neck.
“You are hear by guilty and I sentence you to suffer the fate of the men and women whose blood is on your hands”
Her sword slipped out of his neck with ease, his eyes wide and mouth agape but no noise came as red streams spilled from the hole in throat.
She calmly placed a hand on his shoulder and gave him a gentle push off the edge, keeping eye contact as he fell into the abyss, insuring her blade was not what killed him, but the ripping of limbs and tearing of flesh as three sharks pounced on him before he even hit the water.
Blood and gurgling screams splashed across the rocks but were quickly wiped away by thrashing tails and the ocean waves.
Laura remained still, watching the explosion of splashing water now temporarily red beneath her. She was still shaking, not even realizing the soft footsteps behind her.
“You alright Cap?” Laf asked gently, placing a hand on her shoulder, gently shaking her out of her trace.
Tearing away her gaze as the thrashing slowly quieted she turned around and mumbled,”We did it”
She blinked and found a very full bottle of rum and a clean cloth offered to her by Danny and Perry respectively with a smile.
“No, this one is yers. Ye did it Laura”
She turned around as her crew exploded into cheers, swords and bottles thrust into the air and they chanted her name.
“Yes yes you’re victorious we get it”
They turned around to find the Mattie with her arms crossed patiently waiting with Will and Carmilla looking up expectantly, their mouths covered in blood and chunks of clothes being fished out between teeth.
“That poor excuse for a meat bag didn’t even make a dent” she growled, pointing to her stomach.
Laura rolled her eyes and began her march down the hill of the cliff, cleaning her blade with the offered napkin before sheathing it.
“Someone get the remaining prisoners to appease the sea goddess down there” she laughed, grabbing the bottle to take a long swig as she passed by the crowd of eager pirates who parted a way for her.
“I heard that Hollis!”
Distant screams, snarling, thrashing water and screaming crew members filled their night. Bottles clinked, songs were sung and food devoured on the beach, they felt like kings.
A wave of relief and excitement swept through their camp.
“Whatever tha ‘ell we want! Right Cap?”
“Pretty much, I’m sure at some point the navy will be after us but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” she shrugged, knocking her head back and taking a long drink.
“So I’ve got a question” Danny mumbled, quietly placing an empty bottle beside her before grabbing another,”How the hell did you convince those sharks to help you? Carmilla I get, but the other two?”
Laura stopped herself from shoving a mouth full of bread in her face,“That’s….a funny story now that you ask”
“Oh…this is just rich”
Laura narrowly escaped a hurricane that tore her ship to pieces, and nearly died at the hands of a terrible fever. Yet here, standing alone on a small dingy boat in the middle of the ocean with a pair of soulless black eyes did she feel true fear.
“Carmilla darling, is this the reason you’ve been disappearing?” she looked back up at Laura and scoffed, dismissing her as she looked over the boat where the black tip rested behind it, ”Visiting your pet?”
“She’s not my pet!” her voice low, teetering on the edge of growling deeply.
Will laughed,”You literally just told us you’ve been taking fish and trinkets to her for weeks”
A silent exchange of glances from Laura to Carmilla was answer enough.
“Ugh…alright darling, sweet heart, I don’t even know what to say” she sighed, one more her eyes scaled the girl up and down before shaking her head,”I mean…really?”
Laura was not for feeling ignored, she had enough of that at home,”Do you want a free meal or not?!”
Mattie’s coy smile evaporated immediately.
In the time it took Laura to blink once, her massive tail smacked the underside of the boat, nearly flipping her and the tiny toy of a boat right over. Laura yelped, loosing her balance she fell forward, scrambling to catch herself but Mattie beat her to it.
On her knees and torso hanging over the edge as Mattie tightened her grip on Laura’s shirt, slowly pulled her closer with each word, insuring that she was towering over her as she spoke in a low tone.
“Do.Not. Speak over me”
Laura understood very clearly why Carmilla was so nervous about this plan.
Not once did Mattie expose her rows of sharp fangs to intimidate or let out an inhuman noise or growl.
Her voice was powerful and eyes bore into her soul.
Laura’s heart slammed against her rib cage as the tiger shark stared down at her like she were the scum beneath the sea rocks.
And yet, despite the fear in her chest swelling at her very core, her face burned. Maybe it was the storm, seeing death in the form of being engulfed in a cold embrace. Or the illness that sent her mind into the abyss. But most likely, it was the identical look of every man that told her she wasn’t good enough everyday.
Laura grabbed the shark’s wrist and pushed herself up to be eye level as she hissed under her breath.
“I am not afraid of you”
Carmilla found it difficult to breathe all of a sudden, unable to move as it happened so quickly but feeling as if any movement would disturb Mattie’s decision on whether or not to kill this human. Even Will refused to move.
But instead, she smiled.
“How cute” her lips peeled back into a grin, Laura then realized that she had far more teeth than Carmilla.
Laura fought past her fear and glared at the shark, ripping her hand away from her shirt, the boat rocked to regain it’s balance, sending Laura flat on her behind as Mattie let out a hearty laugh.
“I shall listen to what you have to say” she says, finally looking the human in the eyes,” For now”
“Laura I told you to sleep that night!”
“You could have been shark food are you insane?!”
“Are ye honestly willing to trust Carmilla ta’ save ye from somethin’ like that?”
Captain of a pirate ship or not, the three of them stared her down like a misbehaving child. Not that she minded having three strange parents, she laughed and continued to devour her meal as they struggled to comprehend how she was not dead. Which should be the title of her autobiography at this point.
“Oh come off it, we need them and they just want to eat without getting shot at. It’s a win for everyone, besides, there is no way we could have taken the ship without them”
The second order of business was to secure another vessel. Even with underwater back up, the navy’s advanced ships were made for battle. They would be at the bottom of the ocean before the smoke from their canon’s dissipated.
Finding a suitable ship was simple enough, their current vessel’s worn out hull could be seen for smiles, while bearing an English flag and brand that was known for carrying goods across the sea, they were a floating a target.
“What do you think?”
Danny bit her lip as she peered through the spyglass, inspecting the oncoming ship sailing straight for them.
“Man-of-War. Eighteen canons, four mortar canons, two hand canons on the stern and bow, iron ramming, reinforced hull…” she placed the scope down, there was a twinkle in her eye and smile on her face.
“I want that one”
With a nod, Laura hopped down the stairs and leaned over the railing, casually looking below,”Carm?”
Several seconds passed before a splash was heard and their new unofficial crew member hopped up, pulling herself up by the railing immediately capturing the captain’s lips in a quick kiss.
Laura nodded her head towards the ship in the distance.
“No survivors. No damage to the ship. Now go have fun”
Carmilla’s smile could not get any wider, she laughed and placed a quick peck on her cheek, “You’re so good to me”
With that, she dropped back into the sea, joining two other dorsal fins. They sped across the waves, disappearing beneath the endless blue and out of sight. It was over in a matter of minutes.
Carmilla sang a beautiful wordless melody and one by one, every man on board fell into the depths who Mattie and Will disposed of fairly quickly. Laura leaned against the railing, watching the madness unfold with a small smile on her face. She would have never noticed someone walking up behind her had they not coughed.
“So…uh Cap I gotta ask…”
Laura glanced over her shoulder to find Laf approaching, curiosity and hesitation in their eyes which was never a good thing.
“You been kissin that shark for awhile aye?”
She did not like where this was going.
“So how do ye…ye know?”
Laura did her best to keep a straight face as they made lewd gestures with their hands and fingers.
“Actually, interesting thing, they don’t mate for pleasure so that’s not even a thing”
Laf’s brows perked up, she could see them mentally taking notes,”Blimey, ya don’t say”
She nodded, turning back to the screaming and shark attack in the distance. In a way it was nice to know what they had was not hormones on overload. It was one hundred percent mutual respect and affection.
“Oh mah poor Cap’n she has no idea what she’s doin to ya does she?”
Laura buried her face in her hands as flash of memories sent her stomach on fire. The times she held on too tight, accidentally applying pressure in the right places or when Carmilla ran her rough fingers across her bare skin out of genuine curiosity, having no idea of the chills slipping down her spine.
“Not a clue…”
Laf could only pay their fearless and frustrated captain on the back in pity.
Before long, the pirate ship was all but a ghost ship, not a single soul on board. Danny and a few others swung across ropes to reach it and take the helm before it crashed into them. Within the hour, Laura’s crew was moving in.
A single plank bridged between the two vessels, each sailor with a crate or barrel in hand. There wasn’t much to add to their new home, they barely had under a week’s worth of supplies.
However, this new ship was loaded. Weapons, treasure, rum and foods for days, enough for nearly twice as many as they current had on crew. They were like children, exploring each and every crevice of the massive vessel.
The Captain’s quarters was something else.
Easily twice the size of the last two she had in her life time, the walls were covered in maps from places she had never heard of in various languages, intricate and decorated weapons on racks in the corner, treasure chests overflowing with gold, a massive bed that could fit several people if she wanted and a beautiful view of the ocean from the stern of the ship.
Besides the smell and occasional slime, it was perfect.
“What do you all think? she asked, finding the kitchen easily as something was already being cooked by the pair of excited gingers.
“I just found a book on how to cook monkey…let’s try it!” Perry was already skinning one while Laf shifted through exotic fruits, poking and prodding the various colors and pointed ends.
“Please by all means, let’s find out” Danny laughed, joining up with the happy bunch.
Laura almost wanted to laugh, the tall woman stood with a massive grin on her face. She was always meant to have three guns and two blades strapped to her belt and chest.
“What’s next Captain?”
“Food, drink and causing some havoc”
“Alright ya bilge rats” she could barely finish her sentence before erupting into laughter along with the others,”Do pirates actually talk like that?”
“Not while sober Capn!”
“I thought as much, anyway!” she slapped her knees and stood up, stretching as she did so,”I am off for the rest of the evening, First Mate Danny is in charge until I return. Try not to get yourselves into any trouble”
At this, Perry laughed, “Three crew members passed out in a tree while another almost suffocated after blacking out face first in the sand. How much more trouble can we get into?” Perry shook her head but smiled regardless, putting her medical kit back together after wrapping a poor girl’s head after falling out of said tree.
“Yes well don’t surprise me”
Laf wiggled their brows, “Off to see the missus?”
Danny snorted,”What ever tickles your fancy Hollis” she shrugged, taking a long drink. Most never mentioned or brought it up, despite how strange it was at first. Mainly the crew didn’t care so long as they were not on the other end of the shark.
“Don’t stay out too late little lady!” Perry teased, shaking a finger up at the Captain as she dropped her coat and weapons on her log of a seat.
She waved them off as she turned her heel and walked away, ignoring the cheers and whistles from her drunken crew. Their shanties and general ruckus they caused slowly faded away as she walked along the coast line. The sweet sound of the high tide rushing up onto the sand and pulling back into the sea in a beautiful calming rhythm cleared her mind and senses.
How she managed to be so lucky, to be alive, to fall in love, to find a perfect ship to call home for herself and loyal crew. If it all ended tonight there wouldn’t be a single ounce of regret. Because now she was free.
They made no previous plans to meet. Too busy sailing, fighting and a rather savage form of a trial kept them apart.
Yet unknown to her crew, Laura’s ears had become attuned to Carmilla’s song no matter how faint or soft. As if the spell of the siren finally began working on her alone, for her voice alone.
Laura followed the melody to another very familiar sight, the song echoed gently out of the very cave she hid in during the storm. Where she taught Carmilla how to draw and bandaged her wounds, slowly gaining her trust. She shook her head and picked up the pace, for a man eating mythical creature, she sure knew how to tug at the heart strings.
She slipped inside to find the shark sitting at the edge of the rocks, humming to herself while playing with her hair in between her fingers, twisting strands together but to end up with a tangled mess.
“Now what exactly are you trying to do there?”
Carmilla’s humming ceased as she spotted the human approaching, she huffed, dropping her hands from her hair.
“What was that thing you did? When you drank one too many of those awful smelling bottles? You did something to my hair then. It was nice”
Laura kicked off her boots and paused in mid removal of her shirt, it was hazy but she did recall weaving an impressive looking braid that night.
“Would you like me to do it again?”
“Before I continue to make a mess of myself, yes”
Stripping down to nothing but the treasured tooth hanging from her neck, Laura took a seat at the edge, waterline hitting her knee as Carmilla hopped down from her perch to sit in between her legs. Like they had many time before, she crossed her arms on her lap and placed her chin there, watching Laura’s fingers brush and de-tangle strands of her hair.
“You’ve been quite busy Captain Hollis” she grinned,noticing the difficult time Laura was having between braiding her hair and staring at the shark in her lap.
“That I have been” she sighed, separating the black locks into threes,”You and your siblings were wonderful today. Thank you”
“We should be thanking you. We like easy food as much as anyone else would”
She laughed, happy with the threes sections, her hands began to weave,“Where is Mattie and Will anyway?”
“Sleeping. I know it doesn’t look it, but they really don’t mind the ‘following you around for a free meal and intimidation purposes’ deal”
“Well that’s good” she smiled, finding a smooth rhythm with each section a simple braid was beginning to take shape,”Can’t say I’m very scary on my own”
”…I wouldn’t say that”
Carmilla’s hand gently captured hers, stopping her from braiding to gain her attention,”Are you alright?”
Laura’s shouts of anger sent her heart to her stomach, Carmilla could only sit back and watch the girl shake and spout out words she had been holding in finally erupt in one go. She would make it her life goal to never hear Laura scream out her hurt ever again.
She reached up to brush away her brown locks from her eyes that glazed over ,“That could not have been easy for you”
“….it was scary just how easy it was” she mumbled, offering a small smile she placed a kiss over the mershark’s rough knuckles,”But I’m alright now…thank you”
Laura resumed her braiding as they caught up with the day’s events, she described in detail her beautiful new ship and all of the things inside it. Her plans to explore the Mediterranean and finally do something about the slave trading route.
“What is your vessel called? It’s in another human language?”
“The Haifischzahn? It means Shark Tooth”
Carmilla slowly raised her head to stare up at the girl,”…you’re joking”
“Don’t judge! The crew called me out and I didn’t think of one so I panicked” she pouted, reaching the ends of her hair with a beautiful but simple braid.
“You like it, don’t hide your feelings”
She rolled her eyes, her fingers idly tracing circles across her bare stomach, watching in mild amusment at the goosebumps slowly forming.
“What ever you say love” she hummed, leaning forward to place a small peck just below her belly button immediately sending a gasp right out of Laura’s mouth. She coughed past it, quickly looking away as her face burned red but it was too late.
That was more than enough of motivation to continue. Her arms unfolded from her lap and wrapped around her waist, pulling herself closer to trail small kisses upwards.
And up and up and up, then left.
“Ah, C-carm…what are yo-…” her hands clutched the rock beneath her, biting down on her lip to hold in a sharp gasp.
“Hm. That little red head was right” she mumbled, lips brushing against her breast as she spoke softly,”What cute noises you make”
She will decide later whether to give Laf a raise or throw them overboard. No one would find the body.
Her skin pricked with chills and gentle bites but her insides were on fire,”C…Carm you don’t have to…” she whimpered, barely able to make a comprehensible sentence as her lips found a particular spot under her jaw that made her toes curl.
“I want to” she purred, slipping a sprawled out hand at the center of her back to pull her closer, encouraging her to arch up and be flush against her chest. Laura gasped at the full contact, struggling to keep herself up as the gentle touches on her neck and a curious hand trailing over her legs became more heated made her arms weak.
Words were incomprehensible, she let out soft moans, clinging to her as she pulled her up from the edge and into the water with her.
“You alright there?” she laughed, holding onto the small human as she leaned forward to rest her head against hers. She was a panting mess, legs and arms wrapped around her tight, cheek flush and eyes half lidded and heavy.
“Just…dandy…” she purred, her hands finding their way into her thick black mane while stroking her cheeks. She couldn’t do much to return what she was doing to her but she could do what she can.
“Good. Let’s see what other noises you make”
She grinned, leaning up to capture her lips with her own finally. The crashing waves and drunken celebration on the beach were enough to muffle out the new song Laura found herself singing that night.
That next morning, Laura returned to Danny screaming and shouting orders to clean up their mess and carry the terribly hungover back to the ship.
“Good morning Captai- holy hell are you…are those…what”
Laura however, couldn’t wipe the smile from her face, she made no motion to hide the dark marks on her neck and chest. She swiped her belts and coat from the log she had left it on the night before and swinging with over her shoulder.
“Shall we shove off then?” she grinned, walking off with a hop in her step she pat Lafontaine on the shoulder as she brushed past them carrying sacks of whatever food they had left after their party, “Laf you’re a getting a raise” she laughed before trotting on the plank to board the ship, leaving her crew wide eyed.
“…whut? Why…oh…OH….!” they nearly dropped the sacks in realization.
Hungover and ill crew lay in bed while others worked on tightening and loosening rigging and preparing the sails.
“Ready to shove off mates?!”
The anchor was weighed, a beautiful breeze brought life to their sails, instantly pushing the vessel out into the blue. Men and women ran about the deck, doing their designated work with a smile on every face.
Laf perched themselves in the crows nest while Danny took the helm and Perry gave every male on board a set of ear plugs made of cotton and wax, in case of emergency mershark singing were to occur.
Laura jumped up onto the railing on port side, grasping the net and staring out into the ocean as they flew across the sea. As if a wave of deja vu swept over her, three dorsal fins peaked out of the surface, swinging alongside them.
A smile not once left her face, she wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, feeling an overwhelming sense of relief and freedom. The world was at her fingertips.
“Let’s have us a shanty eh?”
Now we are ready to sail for the Horn,
Weigh hey, roll and go!
Our boots and our clothes, boys, are all in the pawn,
To be rollicking randy dandy-O!