THE RUNAWAYS

the sequel nobody's been waiting for

NB: So... welcome to the sequel of the Islanders! If you haven't read that one, you just might want to--otherwise this story wont make a lot of sense to you. For those of you who have read the story, this is a sequel to the original ending; obviously. There isn't much I can do for the other ending. (Due to an unprofessional botch-up on my part, the story ended up with two different endings. Aargh!) Anyway--I hope you enjoy! I know that these sequels are never as good as the originals... but hey, plot bunnies can be vicious.


ONE: Discovery

Midshipman Kelley was content. Not only was he clawing his way to the top of the naval ranks—for the second time—at an impressive pace (soon he was hoping for a promotion to Purser, or even Boatswain; then he'd have his own men), but it seemed that he had gotten away with everything he'd ever done; he was clean. His old life was gone, washed away.

Or so he thought. But these things can come back to haunt you.

He went about on his usual duties, smiling and nodding at various men whilst thinking about how much of an ingrate they were, and generally keeping an eye out for any opportunities that may arise. After all, he needed every chance he could get to prove himself 'worthy', didn't he? Though it was rather annoying, having to do all of this work again. And even then, he'd really have to work hard to even get invited to stand outside of an upper-class gala. But he was certain that he could find a way.

The sun warmed his face as he stepped up onto the deck. He smiled to himself, striding across the wooden planks, ready to put some poor new recruit in place about their rope-tying skills, when suddenly the door to the captain's cabin creaked open, and a voice called out behind him.

"Oy, Beckett!" Without really thinking, he spun around to face Lieutenant-Commander Dawkins.

I just fell for the oldest trick in the book, he realized, as several men jumped on him.

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"But this is just... ridiculous," Hunter protested, carefully putting the two letters down. Captain Williams was looking at him disapprovingly over his desk. "There's no way to link this letter to me... do you listen to all anonymous advice sent to you, then, sir?" Hunter tried his best to sound respectful, but he was never the sort for that. He looked down at the letter, knowing exactly who it was that had sent it.

Here's a hint for you—you might want to watch that Hunter Kelley. He looks a lot like Cutler Beckett doesn't he? Here's a recent letter, including his plans and his signature... showing him to be very much alive. But how did Cutler Beckett survive a supposed failure on his part, to rejoin the navy? How could he allow an entire fleet as large as his to be defeated by two ships alone? Makes you think of conspiracy, doesn't it?

Signed, King.

King. King Elizabeth. Pirate King Elizabeth Swann—the little brat! He hadn't expected her to actually send in the letter; though, admittedly, the comment about her eating it to get rid of the evidence had been a joke. He'd presumed that she was too... well, nice. He knew her well enough, and though she swanned around haughtily and looked down on everyone, she was soft. Still, there was no way that this letter could prove anything.

"We know that it's out of order to follow the advice from an anonymous letter found in the naval recruitment station in Amion, but... you do look like him," Captain Williams squinted, and Hunter shrugged, "And we have reasons to believe that your past is purely fabrication."

"What do you mean?" Hunter asked, coolly adjusting a cuff.

"For a start, we could find no family to vouch for you..." The captain said smoothly. Hunter stiffened.

"You went looking?" He asked, surprised that they would put so much effort into finding him. That simple letter must have begun making people think. He supposed it was a little suspicious, him failing to give one simple order and thus dooming his crew, and then being discovered very much alive. If it weren't him in the position, he'd be suspicious. But this was ridiculous! Why wasn't it simply thrown in the bin?

Still, there was no proof of who he was. Certainly, he had vaguely considered the fact that Elizabeth could use the letter against him, but he had lots of arguments at his whim, and after returning her boat and giving her a head start, he figured that she would be... indebted to him.

"Yes. A few people said that they remembered seeing you around, but there was no 'Kelley' family there to speak of." The captain narrowed his eyes, and Hunter shrugged.

"We lived a little bit out of the village," He said, remembering the town that he and Elizabeth had gone to visit often. That was where Mrs Dawson had lived, and the Carrot girl. He squashed the memories as soon as they arrived—they had no place in his head at the moment. He needed his wits about him.

"Why did you turn, when the Lieutenant-Commander called out 'Beckett', then, eh?" Captain Williams raised an eyebrow.

"When the Lieutentant-Commander calls out anything, it is our place to turn to attention, is it not?" Hunter shrugged. "And the letter from 'Cutler Beckett' could be forged," he insisted.

"Yes. But the signature is very accurate," Captain Williams took the time to glare at him at this point, "And the handwriting is very similar to yours."

"That's not proof, sir," Hunter said, tagging the last word on for the sake of respect, "I have similar handwriting to Beckett... so I must be him?" He raised an eyebrow, "I don't think that's very fair."

"You're extraordinarily well-spoken for a farmers boy," the captain said, pulling a smug expression. Hunter looked at the men standing guard next to him.

"I learned," He shrugged, "To get far in life, you have to take on the airs and graces of the pale folk—you understand, don't you?" Hunter asked, with an airy wave of the hand. Captain Williams raised an eyebrow. Not convinced.

"No."

"It was a rhetorical question," Hunter said—and then bit his lip.

"Listen, Midshipman," Captain Williams said, staring at him distrustfully, "You are to be kept down in the brig until the recently widowed Lady Audrey Beckett arrives."

"Who's she?" Hunter asked, stonily.

"She's your mother," Captain Williams hissed, and then all Hunter saw was black.

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Well, wasn't that just bloody rude of them? There was no need to knock him out—he would have come down here on his own. Well, perhaps. Midshipman Kelley was musing his chances of getting out of this one, a couple of days later, nursing a blow to his eye, when suddenly Lieutenant-Commander Dawkins arrived in the brig, jangling a pair of keys. Hunter Kelley held his breath—he'd been having nightmarish fantasies of dying by the hangman's noose. He couldn't let that happen—that would be ridiculous.

"Lady Beckett is here, Kelley," Lieutenant-Commander Dawkins said stiffly. Hunter stood up, spreading his arms out.

"Allan," Hunter used his first name, trying for a sense of camaraderie. Hunter had always been a charming chap—witty and smooth enough to gain the friendship of many, many men. He could, perhaps, use this to his advantage. "This is all... well, rubbish. I'm not Cutler Beckett! This is ludicrous!"

"I have my orders, Kelley, and you have yours," Dawkins said, though he sounded slightly uncertain as he held a pair of shackles aloft.

Hunter was insulted.

"I'm insulted," He said.

"I'm sorry, Midshipman. Ex-Midshipman." Hunter opened and closed his mouth, and then frowned.

"So this little accusation has cost me my position. Fairly well," He said, darkly. Oh, would Elizabeth pay for this little stunt. But right now, he had to forget Elizabeth. He didn't know Elizabeth.

"Alright, I'll spare you the shackles," Dawkins leaned closer, "But don't try anything, Kelley. There are men with rifles up there. They're taking this very seriously." Hunter furrowed his brow. He was a little surprised, to be honest. Why all of this madness? He sighed and walked up, out of the darkness of the brig, and then noticed that the sun was setting. It was getting late.

"Where are we?" He asked, looking around. He could see a port, not so far away. I could probably swim that, he mused. Dawkins gripped his shoulder tightly, and did not answer.

As he was marched into the middle of the cabin, Hunter saw a lady standing, looking out of a window. He looked at her blankly. Blonde hair was swept up, piled onto her head, and coming down in tight, artificial ringlets. Her face was white, with garishly bright makeup spread over it, practically an inch thick. She turned, and stood still for a moment, her head slightly tilted.

"Is this him?" She asked, in a faint voice. Always the drama-queen, Hunter thought to himself. She stepped towards him, cautiously, as if afraid he would bite her. Hunter couldn't help but wonder at how old she looked, no matter how hard she tried to disguise it.

"Yes," Captain Williams said from somewhere behind Hunter. He spun around to look at him, and a soldier quickly nudged him, making him face the woman in front of him again.

"I... I'm not... I'm not sure..." Lady Audrey squinted, and then walked around him slightly, looking at him in profile. Hunter kept himself calm, and just stared ahead, even folding his arms. He slouched slightly—wondering if a woman like Lady Audrey Beckett would even notice a detail like that. She wasn't the most observant of women, and they weren't the closest of families.

"Say something," Snapped Captain Williams, though his venom was leaving. If even his own mother was unconvinced, then perhaps the letter was nothing more then a simple lie. Hunter was faintly thinking about how he had changed in looks rather a lot since the last time he had seen his mother—he had a nice bruise on his face from being knocked out, too.

"My name is Hunter Kelley," He said, adding a slight roughness to his voice. Lady Audrey frowned.

"I don't think this is him," She said, finally, "He just isn't... I don't know. I just don't think this is my son," She gave a sad sigh, and an odd expression crossed Hunter's face, for just a moment. Then he turned towards the captain triumphantly.

"May I have my position as midshipman back, then?" He asked, "All of this has been... insulting." The captain was about to speak, when he was interrupted.

"Cutler," Lady Audrey blurted, looking at the man who could be her son, "Cutler... is it...? It's you. It really is you..." She stepped forwards, and Hunter smartly stepped back. Then, he noticed the men on either side of him staring at him in surprise, and the captain smiling smugly. It was over. All over.

"Hello, mother," Beckett said, as brightly as he could manage, "Father's finally kicked the bucket then, hmm?"


NB: ...I decided that this was going to be one of those stories that got straight to it. ; More Elizabeth next chapter.