Chapter One: Say My Name
The crew of the merchant vessel Enchanted Island had quickly surrendered as the pirate ship approached swiftly and stealthily out of the fog on the starboard side. There was no way to outrun her and the ship's captain knew he was outgunned and outmanned well before the first warning shot across the bow and the sight of the crimson flag. Quickly hoisting a white flag of surrender, the pirates swarmed over the side, rounding up prisoners and ransacking the hold for treasure, which they found in abundance. The Island appeared to be carrying extremely expensive luxury goods and other commodities and had been heading northeast when it was attacked.
The pirate crew was a rough and fearsome lot, many wearing dreadful face paint and bearing hideous scars and markings meant to intimidate their foes. They roughly shoved the captive crewmen onto the pirate ship where they stood, huddled together and awaiting their fate.
A tall burly man who appeared to be in charge bawled out a single command: "On your knees for the Captain!" At that, the other pirates began roughly pushing the terrified crew to their knees. All of them cowered, heads lowered, most visibly shaking and moaning prayers to their various gods for mercy. One of the smaller boys, dressed in a rough, knitted seaman's cap pulled down low over his face, knelt silently, with his dirty, grime-smeared face lowered respectfully. His rough breeches and tunic shirt were torn in places and covered in filth. He was obviously the lowest of a low bunch of total scum.
A tall, elegant man dressed from head to toe in black leather descended languidly down the stairs to the lower deck and began to walk – ever so slowly - down the line of cowed prisoners. Each deliberate step, each footfall, seemed more menacing than the last. The ominous tread was like the tolling of a bell, dreadful in its inexorable quality. As the tension mounted, the gibbering cries for mercy ascended and a few men pissed themselves in fear.
"Which one of you is the former captain of that ship?" he asked in a quiet voice.
"I am," said Atkins, clearing his throat nervously.
"And do you know who I am?' the man in black asked softly.
"Y-y-yes sir," stammered Atkins, sweat beginning to pour down his face.
"Then say it."
"You know. SAY IT," hissed the Captain in a voice so filled with barely contained violence that the praying and gibbering crewmembers lapsed into total, stunned silence.
"Hook," whispered Atkins, his knees finally giving way and collapsing beneath him.
"You're goddamn right!"
"Good," he said, in a more cordial tone. "That's very, very good. Now, here is how it's going to be. I will spare your miserable lives because and only because you surrendered. Any skilled sailor willing and able to join my crew and work for his own benefit instead of some rich ignorant lord or greedy merchant will be welcome. You'll get your fair share of every haul, and it should pay for all the rum and whores you require, maybe a nice little retirement after a while. The rest of you can work off your debt to me for the rest of the voyage and we will put you off at the next port. Is that clear?"
He pointed at one of the more rotund crewmen. "You there – what's your job?"
"I'm the cook, sir."
"Are you any bloody good at it?"
"Well, that's fine then. We lost our cook recently in an…unfortunate accident. We'll give you a go, just try not to poison anybody."
"Thankee, sir, mos kinley fer sparin' me life."
"Anyone else with any useful skills? Carpentry? Sail making? Clerk?" He walked up and down the line, his long black leather coat swirling theatrically around him, regarding each of the crewmen to assess their skill level. By now, most of them had dared to raise their eyes, not only relieved but morbidly curious to behold the legendarily murderous and dreadful Captain Hook.
The boy in the seaman's hat, however, kept his eyes respectfully lowered, evidently too frightened to raise his eyes. But something about him caught the Captain's eye and he paused midstride, turning on his heel and stepping closer to look down at the cowering boy. "You there, boy, what's your job?"
"Scullery boy," he said hoarsely, in a barely audible whisper.
"Look at me when I address you boy!" roared the Captain.
The boy slowly raised his eyes, from the pointy, shiny leather boots, up to the muscular, leather clad thighs, then to the shirt and bejeweled waistcoat, open to reveal a mass of dark chest hair, sea talismen hanging from his neck. He was a fine figure of a man, strapping, lean, and toned from the rigors of fighting and life at sea. The sun was behind the Captain's head and blinded him for a moment until his eyes adjusted, and then he saw the sharp metal hook where the left hand should be, the sunlight glinting off its sharp point. The other hand was whole and sported a series of large rings that looked like they could do serious damage should one have the misfortune to be struck in any area of soft tissue. Finally, his eyes rose sufficiently to rest on the Captain's face itself. He was by far the handsomest man the boy had ever seen, with a fine bone structure, nearly black hair and closely trimmed facial scruff. For him, the saying "handsome as the Devil" might have been coined. He looked magnificent and terrifying all at the same time. When the boy's eyes finally reached the Captain's kohl-rimmed eyes, a dazzling color of blue like the sea and the sky combined into one, the boy gasped sharply and froze.
Quick as a flash, the captain reached down and hauled the boy to his feet. He leaned in close as he held the boy's eyes with his piercing blue stare in a manner not unlike an Eastern snake charmer holding a cobra immobilized by the sheer force of his gaze.
"You!" the boy whispered involuntarily.
At this, the Captain tightened his grip on the boy's shoulder and began to lean in closer. Bringing his lips down to the boy's ear, he whispered, so softly none could hear but they, "Did you miss me, darling?"