Jim knew how he got to where he was. He had attended the Interstellar Academy. He had been the top of his class. He revolutionized the solar engine making it twice as efficient and cheaper to make. He broke the highest athletic records and went down in the history books before he even graduated. It took him less than a year to become a Star Fleet Captain. He was the youngest man in history to achieve such a feat. Only twenty five years old and he had fifty men under his command. It was after reviewing his various achievements that Jim continued to wonder how he ended up prisoner aboard a pirate ship.
"It's because you leapt before you looked, you jackass." He thought as he sulked. There wasn't much else to do in his tiny cell, except retrace his steps as he waited for his eventual grizzly death at the hands of the captain. The whole thing actually started twenty four hours ago, on Montressor:
Jim sat in one of the many bars that littered 'down town' Benbow. Earlier that day he had visited his mother and bragged about how much he loved his great life as a Captain. She was so proud. He could see it on her face every time he came through the door in his uniform. Her only hope was that he would make something of himself. She had never dreamed it would come true and in such a lucrative way. His salary allowed him to send her enough money to hire staff for the inn. Sarah never had to bus another table or work another day in her life. She missed him of course but she knew he had to live his own life. Jim promised to visit more often before he left. His smile disappeared as soon as he was out of sight of the inn.
He didn't have the heart to tell his mother his great new life left him feeling hollow. Like, despite all his responsibilities and privileges he still craved something else. Was it freedom? The navy kept him on a tight schedule. Patrolling the various star systems and arresting pirates. Every now and then a noblemen would hire him and a few of his men to escort them safely across the galaxy. The fifteen year old boy in him was dying a slow, painful death. But Jim knew he had to grow up. Wistfully thinking he could live a carefree life, riding his old surfer and doing what he wanted seemed so juvenile to him now. He had to do what was expected of him. The next logical step was to get married and start a family. More than a few women threw themselves at his feet. He'd have to stop stepping over them and get to know one if he ever hoped to--
Jim was jarred from his thoughts when his communicator suddenly blared to life. The constabulary ordered a dispatch of all available units. There was a civilian ship under attack just North of the space port. Jim hastily paid his tab before he ran out to his solar cycle. Though not as agile as his surfer it was faster. He reached the ship in just under five minutes. It was still engaged in battle with the smaller pirate ship. When he boarded the vessel he was greeted by several fleet men. By the looks of them they had been through one hell of a fight already. There was blood and soot smeared over their uniforms.
"Captain." They saluted him when they saw the rank badge on his jacket.
"What is the situation?" he asked quickly.
"We have them cornered in the cargo hold. But...they have hostages." one explained as Jim charged his laser pistol. Jim sighed and rolled his eyes. It was always a Captain's job to negotiate high stakes situations like this.
"Of course they do. How many?" he asked. He jumped when he felt the barrel of a gun press to the back of his head.
"Nine, plus you." Jim mentally kicked himself as the imposters took his gun from him. He should've seen that coming. No way the pirates would've left the deck and their ship unguarded. "Get moving." They ordered. They pushed Jim down into the cargo hold where the rest of the pirates and the nine hostages were. Most of the pirates were busy loading the ships goods on to their transport. There were only three guarding two fleet officers and the seven passengers.
"One more officer heard the call before we could jam the signal, Rocco." The pirate that held the gun to Jim's head informed their captain. Or who Jim could only assume was their captain. He walked up to Jim and eyed him. His serpentine pupil widening for a moment. He lifted one scaly hand and flicked the rank badge on Jim's shoulder.
"The fleet's got a dumb fuck for a captain." He hissed as he got in Jim's face. He frowned when Jim held his ground. "Clearly you've come across my kind before or you'd be pissin' yourself like them." He gestured towards the passengers. Jim had seen 'his kind' before. He was an alien akin to Billy Bones. Only younger, thinner and much taller. "Put him in the brig with that 'other' asshole. The fleet will pay big doubloons to get a captain back."
"And the others?" Rocco looked at one of his crew mates when they approached him. He was a very large, muscular Felinoid with short, black hair and a dark complexion. Rocco just smiled - a wicked grin that spread across his snout and revealed his gnarled yellow teeth.
"I'm handling it." Rocco said before he pushed Jim into the large Felinoid. Running into the massive alien was like hitting a brick wall. "Get moving!" he yelled. The Felinoid grabbed Jim by the arm and hauled him up to the deck. Jim struggled against the iron grip he was held in. He looked back at the passengers for a moment. They just stared back, their eyes begging him to do something. He tried, but the Animalian holding him was more than twice his size. And when Jim tried harder the Felinoid grabbed him by the hair and nearly lifted him up the stairs by it. As they exited the cargo hold, the pirates sealed the passengers in - blocking the door with several barrels. Jim also noticed several crew members pouring rum and other alcohol all over the deck.
"What are they doing?" He asked.
"Shut up." Was the answer he got. He noticed the captain as he stood on the railing of their ship.
"Make it fast ladies." He said as he lit a cigarette with a match. Jim watched in horror as he carelessly flicked the lit match onto the deck of the passenger ship as they made their departure.
"NO!!" Jim yelled. The deck burst into flames, quickly spreading to the cargo door. "You son of a bitch!" The captain just ignored him as he was pulled down into the brig. He was carelessly tossed into a cell and locked in. The burly alien's steps faltered for a moment before he stomped away. Jim tried to right himself as the ship jerked into full throttle. He could hear the crew going about their tasks as they sped away. Jim put his hands to his ears and closed his eyes. "Oh god....those people." They were dead because he jumped the gun. Because he fell for their trap. And now that bastard captain of theirs was going to ransom him off to the Fleet and probably kill him once they got their money. He began to think of what the reports would say. How his mother would handle the news. "No." He said as he looked up. He was not about to just accept this. He wasn't some rich noblemen captive by pirates. He was a Captain. He was Jim Hawkins. They wouldn't get away with this. Not without one hell of a fight.
Jim took in his surroundings for a moment, looking for any means of escape. The brig was lit by a single lantern the flickered on and off randomly. The only other light came from cracks in the boards above. It was damp and smelt of mildew. The cells were made of old, rusted cast iron. Jim knew if he found a weak enough point he'd be able to break out with a hard kick or two. The Animalian had taken him far below deck. The bigger challenge would be getting to their long boats unnoticed and getting away without drawing fire from any one of the laser canons he had spotted earlier. Jim jumped when he thoughts were interrupted by a faint groan. He noticed a body across from him, half hidden by shadows. The man's arms were chained above his head. His blond hair and tan skin was filthy with soot and who knows what else. The only clothing left on his lithe frame were a pair of dirty trousers. Jim thought he was dead until he groaned again.
"Hey....Hey." Jim called.
"What?" he rasped out. His deep voice was hoarse like he hadn't talked or had anything to drink in days.
"What's your name?" Jim asked as he gripped the bars of his cell. "Did they capture you too?" The other man snorted.
"My name is Brice. And this is my ship." He said as he lifted his head. He opened his eyes a sliver to look at Jim. "I'm afraid you've been brought aboard at a most unfortunate time."
After an hour or so Brice straightened his posture and stretched. When he relaxed he easily slipped his hands out of his restraints and stood up. He stretched again, popping his neck from side to side before he rotated his shoulders. "If this is your ship then you must know a way out." Jim said as he gestured to the shackles that used to hold him captive. "Why are you still down here?"
"I've been the victim of a mutiny." Brice explained. "I was bidding my time. Waiting for the perfect time to make my escape. This is where you end up when you jump the gun." Jim looked down for a moment. The young captain's words ringing too true at the moment. "Why did they take you? You some kind of heir to a fortune?" he asked as he started fiddling with the lock on his cell.
"No. I'm a Star Fleet Captain. They want to ransom me to the fleet." Jim answered. Brice stared at him for a moment.
"No really. Who are you? Son of a politician? A scholar--
"I'm Jim Hawkins!" He yelled. A person would have to have been living under a rock not to know his name. He was annoyed that Brice wasn't taking him seriously. The blond just shrugged and went back to his task. "Hey, you're a captain too and you're down here. So don't judge me."
"Fine." Brice said. "I'll take all the help I can get."
"What makes you think--
"I find ransom a waste of time and effort. If you help me take back my ship I'll see to it you get a safe passage back home." Brice interrupted. "Last thing I need is the fleet on my ass."
"You're a pirate. I can't make any deals with you. How can I be sure you'll make good on them?"
"You can't." Brice chuckled. "But let me tell you a little about Rocco - the reptilian that has taken command. I'm very sure that he brought you aboard for more than one reason."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, do you really think he's just going to leave you alone down here? It'll take days for him to contact the fleet and probably more time for them to respond and that's even if he does plan to ransom you. In the mean time he's got a new play thing to torture." His eyes darted to Jim for a second. "The stories he's told in the galley are enough to make the hardest man's skin crawl. He gets off on the helplessness of others and right now you're just an orgasm in a can for him." Jim made a face at the statement. "But he's a coward. Take away his gun and his followers and a five year old girl having a temper tantrum could take him out. He only got the guts to mutiny from his lackeys. Luckily, together there's only five of them. The others just as spineless as him."
"Well, if the rest of the men on this ship are loyal to you why did they allow the mutiny?" Jim asked.
"Because I told my first mate to surrender. And if there's anyone they listen to more than me it's Wren." Brice answered. "He's the Felinoid that brought you down here. I knew Rocco wouldn't hesitate to kill him should he put up a fight. And I couldn't let that happen. So I told him to do nothing to save me. That I would deal with it."
"You look like you've been down here for weeks. How well do you think you're doing so far?" Jim asked sarcastically. His blond hair looked like it had grown out from what used to be a short haircut. And his jaw had a nearly full beard growing on it. Brice glanced at him for a moment. When he turned his eyes back to his task his cell door opened with a quiet creak.
"Look, I'll explain everything later but right now we need to get moving. After he eats, Rocco will come down here and....well it's probably best that you not know what he does to the pretty ones like you." Jim swallowed hard and took a step back as Brice went about picking the lock on his cell. He managed to get it open quicker that his own. "Stay low. Take even breathes through your mouth and be as quiet as you can while we move. Do you have any hidden weapons on you?"
"No, I was off duty when I got the APB. All I had was my pistol and they took it." Jim answered.
"Just a well. It'll be too loud. Do you know how to fight at all?"
"Yes. I didn't buy my way into becoming a captain. I literally kicked ass and took names to get that title." Jim answered in a hushed tone as they slowly climbed the stairs. Brice smiled back at him for a second.
"Good." Brice said. He suddenly stopped short and pressed himself to the wall. Jim did as well and got low to the ground. He could hear someone approaching, their boots thunking down the hall. The person came around the corner and in the blink of an eye Brice had him pinned to the wall. The reptilian gasped for air as Brice's hand squeezed his throat. "Get his gun." He ordered. Jim realized Brice was talking to him and quickly took the Animalian's gun from it's holster.
"You'll be dead before you get to Captain Rocco." He rasped out. "You are just a human." Brice suddenly grabbed his snout and jerked it to the side. Jim's stomach jumped when he heard the reptilian's neck snap. Brice dropped him to the ground and Jim just stared at the body. In his journeys he had seen men die before. He was once in a gun fight and the man next to him got shot in the head. But what Brice just did was different. He had never killed anyone. Especially not with his bare hands.
"What are you doing?" When Jim looked up Brice was already ten feet away. "Come on." Jim ran after him, not wanting to get left behind in the maze of halls that made up the bowels of the ship. As they continued Brice stopped for a moment when he spotted something. He bent over and picked up a discarded wrench.
"Hey! How did you get out!!" They both jumped and turned around when someone called to them. The pirate turned to a communication pipe. "Brice has escaped! Tell Rocco!" Jim fired the gun at him but the Animalian dodged it. Jim didn't realize he was a Flatula until he jumped and clung to the ceiling. He was quick. He slid across the ceiling and Jim only got two more shots in before the pirate pounced on him. He was halted when Brice kicked him in the face. He tumbled backwards and before he could get up Brice brought his heel down on the Flatula's temple. He went limp. They both looked up when an alarm suddenly sounded through the ship. The halls were suddenly bathed in red light.
"There goes our element of surprise." Brice said and sucked his teeth. He took the flatula's gun and turned to Jim. "When we get to the top of these stairs stay low and out of the way."
"I told you I could--
"Just do it." Brice barked. He took the gun Jim had, too before he ran off without him.
"Wait!" Jim called and went after him. He went up a flight of stairs and found they led right to the deck. He ducked down, narrowly missing being hit in the head by a 2x4 with nails in it. The large pirate raised his weapon again and was about to take another swing when a laser bullet pierced his chest. Jim moved out the way as his body fell down the stairs. Jim peeked up again and looked over the deck. He looked up when a frantic yelp came from the shrouds. He looked up to find Brice currently fighting off two pirates on the center mast. He kicked one in the chest, sending him right off the rigging and used the leverage to propel himself backwards into the other. The skinny Ursid lost his footing and fell off the side. Brice grabbed a line of rope to keep from plummeting over the side of the ship as well. "Wow...."
"Look out!" Brice called to him. Jim winced when someone grabbed him by the hair. He was hauled up the stairs and shoved to the floor.
"You wanna add an innocent life to your death tally, Brice!" The pirate yelled. Jim looked up to find it was Rocco. He looked back at Brice when he landed on the deck. He stayed in a crouching position for a moment. The look in his eyes reminded Jim of a feral animal on the prowl. The dirt on him was now smeared with blood. His blond hair was nearly standing on end as he glared at the reptilian. "You've always been so foolish."
"If I'm foolish for fighting for what's rightfully mine, then so be it." Brice said, cool as can be. He stood up.
"You know if you hadn't pulled this little stunt I would've eventually let you out." Rocco said, feigning confidence. He grabbed Jim by the arm and pulled him up. He made sure to keep Jim between them, nearly hiding behind the man as he pointed his gun at Brice. "And if you had been extra good I'd even let you sleep at the foot of my bed. Now be a good boy and go back to your cell."
"Fuck you." Brice said and raised his middle finger to further illustrate his lack of respect for the Animalian.
"Fine, then I'll just kill you and keep your little friend here." Rocco said. When he moved his hand down Jim's side Jim baulked.
"Don't touch me!" He yelled before he thrust his elbow back into Rocco's gut.
"Duck!" Brice said. Jim rolled out of the way just as Brice threw a dagger at Rocco. The pirate straightened up just in time for it to pierce his shoulder. The sudden pain made him drop his gun. Jim kicked back into Rocco's knees. With a sickening snap the reptilian fell to the floor with a howl. "Nice." he complimented Jim as he walked over with some rope. Jim got ready for another fight as more of the crew members gathered around them.
"Sir." Wren addressed Brice as he walked up. "What are your orders?"
"Gather up the trash. Bring up one of the skiffs and a bottle of tequila and some kerosene." Brice said as he finished tying up Rocco.
"You heard him! Get moving!" Wren roared to the other pirates. They scrambled into action. Jim just stood back as they did what they were told. Rocco was thrown into the waiting long boat along with the dead body of the other reptilian, the large pirate that had been shot in the chest, the somewhat conscious Flatula and two Ursids. Jim was curious to see what Brice would do to them.
"You all have ten seconds...." Brice began as he poured some of the kerosene on to the little boat. ".....to give me a good reason why I shouldn't throw a match on you." He held out his hand and his first mate placed a small book of matches in his palm.
"You don't have the balls to--
"Five seconds." Brice interrupted as he tore off a match.
"You're just a gutless, daddy's boy who was handed everything. You couldn't 'captain' your way out of a wet paper bag. I took this ship, it's mine! You had better kill me or I will not rest until I have your heart on a stake!" Rocco said. Brice lit the match. "You wouldn't dare you little shit--" Brice suddenly threw the bottle of kerosene in Rocco's face. It shattered, spilling glass and petroleum in his eyes. Without a second thought Brice tossed the match in the little boat and Wren kicked it away as it caught fire. Jim put his hand over his mouth as the men screamed in agony. The smell of their burning flesh was too much for him. He gagged before he turned and vomited over the side of the ship.
"Blow it up." Brice said. The pirate next to him went to a nearby laser canon and shot down the flaming ship. Blowing it and it's contents to a fine mist. "Let's get to Kinapis."
"To your stations." Wren ordered. "Helmsmen! To Kinapis!"
Brice stared out at the etherium for a moment. He took a deep breath before he glanced over at Jim. He was still heaving slightly. "I'm sorry you had to see that. But I told you stay downstairs until it was over." He said. Jim just glanced at him. Brice knew his civil words were lost on Jim right now. He was still covered in blood and the smell of burned skin still hung in the air. "Wren."
"Sir?" The Felinoid answered readily. Brice sighed.
"I'm taking a shower. Bring him to my cabin when he's done." He ordered before he walked off.
"Brice." Wren stopped him for a moment. "Rocco has been....nesting in your cabin for the past few weeks. He didn't allowed me or anyone else in. Brace yourself."
"Right." Brice said as he climbed the stairs to his quarters. He opened the door and was met with the distinct smell of b.o. "Eggth." he grimaced and moved to the windows. He avoided broken glass and scattered papers and sighed when he finally reached the window the lined the back wall behind his desk. He opened them all before he turned around to assess the damage. When he moved to pick up a discarded map, the blood on his fingers smudged on it. "First things first." he said to himself. He moved past his desk and into his private bathroom. He spared himself the horror of looking in the toilet and moved right to the shower stall. It was the only place he didn't find Rocco's mess. "That explains the smell." He turned on the faucet as hot as it would go and stood under the spray of water.