Heeheehee! sings Master & Commander ate my brain, ate my brain...lalalaaaa! Well, this is only a prologue, but let me know what y'all think otherwise I'll just be like...screw it. Yeah it's like 2 in the morning, sorry I'm so crazy. By the way, I don't own these dudes. I'm pretty sure that's why they call it fan fiction....

Broken Chord

On the first day, the officers of the H.M.S. Surprise looked at one another in shock, fear lurking sinisterly behind.

The next morning, Lieutenant Tom Pullings stood helplessly in charge of the quarterdeck in the midst of a miserable fog. Spirits bogged under the low, grim clouds, not lifted by the bell signaling change of the watch.

On the sixth day, Stephen Maturin entered the Great Cabin, which he immediately regretted. Despite Killick's efforts with the candles, the room was lifeless and taunting without the bellow of Jack Aubrey's hearty laugh. Even his beloved 'cello was clammy to the touch, like a pale ghost of memory.

After fifteen days, the crew shuffled aimlessly around the decks. Most even ignored their grog to stare out across the monotone sea. Killick was himself so troubled that he vocalized, much louder than usual, how he "would blast the bloody frigate to damnation" the next time he laid eyes upon it.

And on the 28th day, as Stephen stared at the ship's log in disbelief that it had been nearly a month, the familiar voice of Lord Blakeney declared "Ship, ho!" She displayed a white flag.

Despite the newly born thunder, Stephen hurried to the deck, carrying a blanket and a bottle of laudanum, should the situation prove dire. But the real storm was on deck, as Pullings and Mr. Allen snapped at one another in a fury.

"You forget your place, Mr. Allen, it is my decision."

"No, sir! No—you are suggesting opening cannon fire on a ship running white. Not only is it dishonorable, but it would be against the Captain's judgment."

"You fret over honor, sir, at a moment such as this? Do their actions appear honorable to you?"

"This is prisoner exchange, sir! Not an open invitation to start a battle."

"No, Mr. Allen, this was a prisoner exchange. They have clearly violated the rules of war. What I see on that deck is as much of an invitation as we could hope to get."

"Tom—"broke in Allen, dropping formalities and his tone. Pullings straightened at this, seething. Yet Allen was his elder seaman, and commanded respect. "Tom, if you beat to quarters now, you'll kill him for sure."

"T'would be better than letting them slink away unpunished." Both men swiveled 'round as a bottle shattered behind them. The laudanum snaked out around the doctor's feet as he saw, on the deck of the approaching boat, what was left of Captain Jack Aubrey.