Well, whaddaya know? I'm finally updating! Er, sort of. More like deleting and rethinking my storyline. I'm so terribly sorry. Just in case you didn't know, I changed a few bits in the first chapter. Not much, though. I think you'll be okay reading this chapter without the help of the last. But I'm warning you, this one is significantly different than last time. If there was something you like that's missing (and DON'T tell me Jack Sparrow-- he's coming, he's coming!), tell me in a review, and I'll see if I can work it in. I'm also open to suggestions. I'm going to need all the help I can get.
I don't own Pirates Of The Caribbean. However, I pride myself on owning the two main characters of this story. See? I can be original!
And by the way, the chapter title is a play on the name of a Beatles song called 'Happiness is a Warm Gun,' for all of you that aren't a Beatles freak/haven't seen Across the Universe.
Daughter of Pirates: Chapter Two
Friendship is a Warm Gun
Neggie was running, faster than she had run all week. In her fleeing state of mind, she liked to think that it was faster than she had ever run in her life, but after stealing a whole bundle of jerky last Wednesday, she had to make quite an escape. At the moment, the sixteen year old girl didn't remember this, as she picked her way through the twisting, confusing streets and alleys that made up the common city of Port Royal.
In a moment of stupidity, Neggie looked behind her, to see how fast the fruit peddler was pursuing her for just three apples. Not paying attention to where she was going sent her careening into another merchant, a friend of the fruit seller's. Must've seen me running past and went around, Neggie's panicked brain thought as the man gripped her hair and dragged her head back, knife in his free hand.
"You've stolen your last meal, girl," he growled, pressing the knife to her throat. "Is your death wish to eat it?" His eyes were angry and mocking, bulging out of their sockets in order to express his emotions more clearly.
Neggie forced herself to quickly calm down. Her hands were free; the man didn't think of that, or didn't think she could do him much damage. Immediately she grabbed the hilt of her dagger, whipping it under his arm so she could push his knife away from her exposed neck. He was so surprised at her quick movements his grip on his weapon slackened; she knocked it out of his hand. She twisted his arms behind his back and held her knife to his throat now. "Tell anyone what went on just now, and I'll kill you, understand?" If anyone knew she was armed, she was in big trouble. Urchins weren't allowed to own daggers.
He struggled wildly, and she fought to keep her grip on him. Pressing the blade harder, so that she drew a few drops of blood, she repeated, "Understand?"
The mad nodded, and she let him go. He collapsed in relief. Cursing, she realized how much time had been wasted. The fruit seller was nearly on her. He had turned a corner, and was running right at her.
Neggie spun and flew, dodging people and carts easily, never losing a hair's worth of speed. She smiled to herself: now she was running faster than last week.
She heard a roar behind her: the peddler. Another warlike cry followed: he had friends.
Reaching a house, she ran over to the far side, trying to catch her breath.
The men on the other side, assorted shopkeepers and street sellers, grinned. They had her. This was a dead end. They split up and went around the house. When they peered around the corner, all they saw was each other. Neglana was nowhere in sight.
Swearing fluently, the fruit peddler scanned all around. He even looked up to the balcony of the house she'd hidden behind.
Spewing more foul language, each of the men grumpily returned to their wares, disappointed that they weren't able to catch the girl that had been a thorn in their sides for nearly seven years.
About ten feet above them, a young man was holding his big hand over Neggie's mouth to keep her quiet, while her shoulders shook with laughter. Once Chris was sure that every last one was gone, he dragged Neggie out onto the balcony and shut the door, so his parents wouldn't hear him conversing with a criminal.
"Neggie!" he hissed, still keeping his voice quiet, fearing someone listening below.
The girl shrugged, still giggling. "I needed to make some escape, Chris. This place is very convenient."
"If somebody sees you here-"
"They won't. I make sure of that. I know how to work the streets; I've been doing it half a decade already. You learn fast, or you wash out, that's the deal with being a thief! I know it all!"
"Couldn't you stay out of trouble for one-"
Her stomach interrupted. "Breakfast!" she said cheerily. She pulled out two apples, and offered one to Chris. He waved his hand, shooing the fruit away, muttering, "I don't eat stolen goods."
Neggie shrugged, as if to say 'More for me', and dug in. That was always his excuse. She knew it was really because he could afford to eat- she could not.
There was silence as she took her first few bites of the fruit.
"Anyway," she said, steering both of their minds off the subject, words slightly muffled by apple, "why would you care if they found out you were friends with me? We could steal a ship and sail out of here, like we always dreamed."
Chris rolled his eyes. "Stop living in the dream, Neggie. Get used to reality."
She raised her eyebrows at him. That had been a thoughtless remark. Of the two of them, she knew the cruelties of reality more than he did. He only knew about how life was for the lowest of the low through her. Had they never met, he'd likely never have the sympathy for the city's urchins that he did now.
He looked down, sheepish, but Neggie ducked her head in order to meet his eyes. "That dream is really all that keeps me going. What's the point of living if there's nothing to live for? So I have that, and I have you." She smiled up at him. "The worst part about death is that I'd have to wait a good long time to ever see you again."
Pleased and embarrassed, Chris looked away, and this time, Neggie let him.
Silence stretched between them for a few moments, until Chris broke it. "My father wants to take me with him on a voyage."
Neggie's heart sank, but she kept it from her face. This was what her friend had been hoping for since he'd been old enough to dream, and she'd be happy for him if it killed her.
"Chris, that's wonderful."
He smiled at her, but it looked forced, which puzzled her.
"Did he finally decide that you're 'older'?" He smiled a little wider at the old joke.
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Chris, what's wrong with you? When we were younger this is all you'd talk about! If you were still thirteen, you'd be jumping for joy!"
"That was before I worried so much about you."
"Oh, Chris… Don't let me be the one to get in your way. I can take care of myself, remember?"
"Not as well as I can."
Neggie rolled her eyes.
"And didn't we always dream of sailing the seas together? Side by side, the wind in our hair, no cares, no responsibilities?"
"Well, technically, I promised to take you with me if I ever got away from here, never the other way around."
"Because I always thought that of the two of us, you'd be the one to escape first. I figured that if father hadn't taken me by twelve, I'd never be going… but here I am."
Neggie looked at the floor for a moment, then asked, "When do you set sail?"
"In two days. First light."
There was a longer pause. "How long?"
"A month. Father didn't want to take me on too long of a voyage for my first time."
Neggie pushed herself off from the railing on which she'd been leaning. "So I'll see you in two days, at first light." Grinning wickedly, she made to jump down, but a hand on her arm stopped her.
"Don't see me off. It's too dangerous."
When she didn't say anything, just smiled innocently, he sighed and said, "Take care of yourself. And try to stay out of trouble for a while, all right?"
She gave him a cocky salute. "Aye-aye, cap'n!" Then she tossed her apple core and swung over the side of the railing, landing catlike on her feet in the alley below. Then she strolled off, munching on the other apple, taking care to avoid being seen. Shaking his head, Chris finished getting ready.
Sunrise two days later found Chris on Port Royal's main dock getting ready to board his father's vessel. He paced, waiting for all the other men to board before him. He knew that he was dawdling, but he was reluctant to leave Neggie all alone.
A shady figure, hooded and cloaked, caught his eye. Praying that it wasn't who he thought it was, he made excuses to his father and strode toward it.
The rising sun's rays hit Neggie's tanned, dirty face, with wickedly glittering dark eyes to match the grin.
He pulled her into a hug. "You're an idiot," Chris said softly, but he held her tightly nonetheless.
"I couldn't let my best friend go off for a month without saying goodbye, now could I?"
"If you'd wanted to keep your head attached to your body, you could've."
She laughed and let go. After hesitating for a second, she kissed him on the cheek and said, "Bon voyage, monsieur."
He grinned while resisting the urge to rub the spot where she'd kissed him. "I'll miss you, Neggie."
She waved the comment away. "You'll be back before you know it." Giving him one last, quick hug, she turned and walked back towards land.
Shaking his head at his friend's abruptness, he turned and began to walk towards the ship with a lighter heart than he'd had before. Never mind what he had told Neggie-- he was glad she came.
A gunshot rang through the still air, making Chris whip around to see what the trouble was.
Blood was oozing out of a fleeing Neggie's arm, which dropped the cloak it had been holding. Chris silently cursed his friend for stealing the thing and inflicting someone's wrath upon herself.
While most men would have let her go, this man would not. Yelling something along the lines of "I'm going to rid Port Royal of your thieving hands," he tore after her, determined to catch her.
Fearing for Neggie's life and not caring anymore about his reputation, Chris sprinted after the two, ignoring his father's calls.
Neggie quickly evaluated the situation. She couldn't run back into the city: too much of a chance of being caught. So she turned and headed up the beach towards the rocks, hoping to gain some cover there. Meanwhile, the man was gaining on her.
Her feet led her up the familiar rock that was the favorite of her and Chris. Her hands and feet got her to the top easily. There, she turned and pulled out her sword in the same movement, and waited.
The man's head topped the rise, and with a roar he put up the pistol. Instinctively, Neggie took a step back. The rock crumbled at the edge, and she lost her footing and fell.
The distance from the top to the water had been a thrill when she was younger, the water a scare. Not enough to harm her, but enough to make her feel brave. She had never actually thought she'd fall, so she had failed to take into account the jagged edges of the boulders in the water below. She hit her head and was immediately unconscious and under, blood dying the water red.
Her pursuer, seeing this as an easy solution to the problem, smiled and put his gun away. He thought he would go home free and clear, but his pursuer had other ideas. As he jumped off the face of the rock, he was met by a young man crazy with anger, who punched him in the face, knocking him unconscious.
Chris shoved his way desperately through the water to her lifeless body. He pulled her from the water that only reached his stomach. Not even bothering to haul himself from the ocean, he shook his friend, whispering nonsense that wouldn't bring her back.
He didn't notice the ship pull itself from the waves, nor the rowboat that was lowered off of it that started towards them. He did notice when someone tried to pry Neggie from his grip. He noticed, and fought off the man trying to do it. Looking at the man, Chris was filled with a blind fury as he tried once again to pry Chris's fingers away from the girl who meant so much to him. "No! You can't have her!" The words were torn from his lips before he realized he meant to say them. Never mind what he was taking her for. He was trying to part Chris from Neggie. And that would just not do.
"Let go, boy!" the man yelled, "Let her go!"
"No!" The man's fingers found a spot on Chris's wrist and pressed hard. Pain seared up his arm, making him drop Neggie. The man pulled her into the boat, and rowed away. Chris didn't hesitate for a second. He swam after the rowboat, catching up just as it came alongside its mother ship. He scrambled up the ladder in time to see a man kneel beside a gasping, miraculously awake Neglana, who was bleeding heavily from her head and arm.
The only woman in the crew saw him first. "What're you doing here?"
Chris held his head high. "I want to know what you're doing with her." He nodded towards Neggie. "I'm not leaving without her."
The woman smiled a little, lighting up her already beautiful features. Then it slid slowly off her face, and she shook her head. "I'm sorry. You're going to have to."
That's when Neggie spotted him. "Chris!" She jumped up and ran to him, where he hugged her with all his might. She hugged him, but it felt halfhearted. He realized how fast she was losing blood.
The man who'd been beside Neggie stood and came closer to the pair. "You, boy!" He said, putting off Chris a bit, because this man couldn't have been more than five years to Chris's senior. "You can't be here."
He let go of Neggie but stayed next to her. Inclining his head towards her, he asked, "What about her?"
"The girl stays. This ship is known as the Flying Dutchman. I am William Turner, her captain. We ferry souls that die at sea to the world beyond this one. You're dying, girl. You have a choice: to pass on, or join the crew and serve for one hundred years of mortal time."
Neggie raised an eyebrow. "And why in the name of high heaven would I want to do that?" Chris suppressed a chuckle. For a girl who was dying, she put up a very strong front.
"To postpone judgment. If you have done evil in your life, doing a good deed for one hundred years could help tip the scale in your favor." Neggie's face darkened, and Chris knew exactly what she was thinking. For more than six years, she had been one of the worst thieves in Port Royal, stealing every day, sometimes several times a day. Atonement would sound appealing.
"Nothing is certain," Turner said, "but it can't hurt. If you are at peace with yourself, by all means, let us take you to the land of the dead. If not..."
Neggie looked from face to face, trying to find an answer. Everyone's face was unhelpful, including Chris's. Even he realized no one could make this decision but her.
Trying to buy herself time to think, she asked, "What about Chris?"
"He returns to whatever he'd been doing before you died. He cannot come. By rights he shouldn't even be on this ship." Chris recognized the speaker as the man who'd rowed away with Neggie.
"Because he's still alive."
Tears welled in her eyes. That startled Chris: Neggie never cried. Fighting to keep her voice even, she said, "I guess this is goodbye, then."
"I won't leave you."
A single tear made its way down her face, cleaning her skin a little as it went. "We don't have a choice."
His eyes hardened. "There is always a choice," he said quietly. Louder, he said, "What if I refuse to leave?"
"You'll be forced," replied the captain calmly.
"And what if I still try to follow you then?"
A few of the crewmembers glanced knowingly at one another. Chris and Turner both ignored them. "You'll probably die."
Chris smiled. "Die at sea. Then you'll have to come back for me. Won't you?"
Captain Turner could not be fooled. Neither could the rest of the crew. The woman's eyes were wide with horror, shaking her head slowly. Many were having similar reactions. Some were just staring dumbly at the boy before them, unable to believe anyone would do such a thing. Turner simply said, "Yes, I suppose so."
Smiling recklessly, Chris spread his arms wide. "Why don't you save yourself the trouble, and just shoot me now?"
Before anyone could respond, Neggie shouted, "Chris, no!" She looked like she was trying to reason with a madman. "Don't throw away your life like this. Think of what you'd be missing. Your mum, dad, friends--"
"You're the best friend I have." He took a step away from her and looked the captain squarely in the eye. His heart was pounding, as if it knew it didn't have much time left and was squeezing in a few hundred extra beats before the end.
William Turner took his time with the pistol, giving the boy time to back out if he needed to. He pulled it out, cocked it, raised it, aimed…
Fire. Neggie couldn't keep from screaming as the bullet slammed into Chris, sending him overboard. Turner himself pulled him from the water. The younger man was bleeding heavily from a wound in his stomach, which would kill him soon.
"Do you fear death?"
Chris's dull eyes found Neggie's. The truth was no, he didn't. But in death, she would not be with him. "Yes."
"Will you serve?"
"I will serve," two voices said in unison. The captain turned to Neggie. "I will serve," she repeated.
Silence reigned for several long moments. All of a sudden it was broken by Turner's voice. "Back to work!"
There was a flurry of activity as everyone returned to the tasks they'd been doing before these two strange, desperate adolescents disturbed their lives.
William Turner himself did not move. He stayed, crouched by Chris, looking between the boy and the girl, both of whom unsure of what to do. He finally gave them their first orders. "For today, watch. Learn all you can. I'm tolerant of mistakes, but only if those mistakes are learned from and never made again.
"I don't want these next hundred years to be unpleasant, but there are some things that need to be done before we can enjoy ourselves. Disrupt the work, and you'll find that I can be… unpleasant. Do you understand?"
Both of them nodded, a little frightened.
"What are you known as?"
Chris answered first. "Christopher James. Most just call me Chris, though."
The captain looked at the girl. She felt uncomfortable under that stare. "Neglana."
Turner gave a small start; so small, in fact, that barely anyone noticed it. However, he spoke as if nothing had upset him at all. "That's an interesting name."
"If by interesting, you mean strange, then yes, it is. You can call me Neggie, though. It's not much better, but it's a nickname."
"You don't have a last name?"
"No, sir. I was found on the steps of an orphanage in Port Royal, with nothing but my first name and birthday."
"I see." He paused for a moment. "Well, what are you standing around for? Go."
As they left, Will stood and walked to the railing, and gazed out to sea. That girl was something to think about…
I hope that this is better than last time. Tell me what you think!