A/N: So, I'm off my rocker, and I started another story. This one will not be updated like The Amateur and The Expert have been. I'm thinking this will be a weekly one. So, a little bit of background. This is a pirate story. I'm using a bit of pirate language, but I'm not using old English. I don't have the patience to learn it. The pirate information will be as historical though, as the internet can provide. This story takes place in, oh, lets say, the late 18th century. Sookie is a telepath, Eric and everyone else is human, for the most part. If you have questions, let me know.
This story deals with mature themes. I've handled them with maturity, in my opinion, but they are still there. If you are bothered by any of the events in the SVM books, to the point where you wish you hadn't read them, then maybe stop reading now. Otherwise, enjoy!
I awoke, frantic, terrified, on a hard, unfamiliar bunk, the smell of salt air and wooden planks in my lungs. My head was pounding, I hurt everywhere, and I could smell a tinge of blood in the air, metallic and putrid. And there was rum, or alcohol of some sort nearby. The garment on my body was soft, well worn, and most definitely not mine. I was certain of that. I looked around, my eyes trying to adjust to the light, rather unsuccessfully. I reached up to touch my head, and felt the stiffness of a cut that was just starting to heal. I had been stitched up.
One might ask, how did I, Susannah Stackhouse, end up beaten and bloody, lying in the hull of a ship whose name I did not know? It all started about 6 months ago, when my cousin Amelia received a marriage proposal from a wealthy plantation owner in the Americas, with a cousin who was also looking for a wife of childbearing age. Amelia was a woman of ill repute, so this proposal from abroad appealed to her father, who was having a hard time marrying her off and obtaining a dowry. Tray Dawson, the son of a former Carmichael business associate, who owned a large plantation in Virginia had heard nothing of Amelia's scandalous affairs, so he paid a handsome sum to have her, and by proxy me, brought by ship across the Atlantic.
I had had my share of troubles finding a suitor as well. I was born with a disability, or a shine, as my mother affectionately referred to it as. I could read the minds of those around me. It made finding someone willing to take me on difficult. As I grew older, I learned to better control it, but for my formidable years, I'd been known as Crazy Sookie by my classmates, because I often had a hard time distinguishing between the thoughts and words of those around me. No one who knew Crazy Sookie wanted to marry her. Amelia was my best friend, she never judged me, so I didn't judge her. When the chance came to go off and marry in the Americas, we were both thrilled at the idea of starting fresh.
So, about a month ago, we set sail for Virginia, on the Hummingbird, a beautiful ship captained by Bill Compton, a seasoned seaman. Bill had a gruff exterior, but Amelia's charms broke him down quickly, and the three of us would often play cards in his quarters late into the evening. As I stated before, Amelia had no concerns about behavior appropriate for a lady of her standing. On this particular evening, halfway through a game of rummy, Amelia excused herself, leaving Bill and I to finish the game. She'd been teasing me about liking him, even though I'd given her no indications that this was true, so I knew she was trying to get me to spend time alone with him. What she hadn't taken into account though, was that I was not her, and completely ill equipped to deal with a man's advances.
He smiled at me over his hand of cards, and then set them down. "Ms. Stackhouse, I must say, you are a lovely young woman. How is it that you don't have suitors knocking down your door? You must go to the Americas to find a husband? Amelia is lucky that you are so loyal to her."
He was thinking about my breasts, I heard his thoughts loud and clear. More often than not, I hated being telepathic. "I will be married to a blacksmith, Alcide Herveaux in Virginia."
"Well, I think you will make a wonderful companion." He smiled at me, wondering if it would be possible to seduce me into his bunk. Not tonight, not ever, was that going to happen.
"Well thank you for saying so." I stood up. "I should take my leave. It's not proper for a lady to be alone with an unmarried man."
"You will find that the laws of the sea are quite different." He wrapped his arms around me, kissing me deeply. I returned the kiss for a second out of shock, then pulled away and slapped him. The images flowing through his mind were repulsive. I felt ill.
"Captain Compton. That is not appropriate."
I was sure Amelia would have thought I should go for it; sow my wild oats she called it, before I settled down. That's why she left me alone, thinking that she was doing me a favour. I'd seen inside Bill's head though, and his thoughts were lewd. He was never going to want me for anything more than a romp, and intrigued as I was about sex, about love, my heart said no. I was a lady; it was not my lot in life to have flings with powerful men, and certainly not powerful men that thought of me like that. That was Amelia's life, not mine.
He grabbed me roughly by the arms. "As I said Ms. Stackhouse, the laws of the sea are different." He forced his tongue inside my mouth again, pulling me closer as I tried to pull away.
"No." I sobbed, as he tore the back of my dress. "Please." I couldn't imagine that the laws of the sea allowed this, but what did I know?
"This will be more pleasant for you if you are compliant." He bypassed all the buttons I'd worked so hard to do up this morning, forcing my dress down to my waist, and pushed me into his bunk. The smell of liquor was strong on his breath.
"Please don't do this. I've never..." I choked, as he roughly threw my dress to the side, and pulled off my undergarments, leaving me exposed. Amelia had given him the wrong idea.
"You're as beautiful as I anticipated." He licked his lips, as I struggled to get away. "You aren't going anywhere."
"Please, let me go. I won't tell anyone, if you let me go."
He laughed. "Who are you going to tell? This is my ship, and no one will help you here."
I took myself somewhere else, somewhere far away, to escape the indignities that I was being subjected to. I cried, but it was as though I had left my body. What I couldn't ignore, though, was the searing pain I felt a few minutes later, as my core, which had remained untouched for so long, was savagely ripped apart.
When I assumed he had finished, he lay beside me, softly stroking my hair. "Now there, that wasn't so bad." He leaned over to kiss my mouth, but I didn't respond, I felt numb. "Don't worry, Susannah. No one will know." His name on my lips made me never want to hear it spoken again.
"I have to go. Amelia will wonder where I am." I choked, pulling myself out of his grasp.
"Yes, you should go." He lay there, naked. Repulsive. "I'll see you tomorrow." And every day for the next month, I thought to myself. More tears. I was holding back a floodgate.
I hurriedly dressed myself, under his watchful eye, doing my best to reattach the articles of clothing that he had so carelessly ripped. I left, silently, feeling his gaze on me, as I slipped out into the night.
I returned to my room and was relieved that Amelia had blown out the lamps. "You're back early." She called out, suggestively, in the dark.
"Yeah." I choked out. "I'm just going to go to bed. Can we talk tomorrow?"
"Sure Sook. Sweet dreams." I wouldn't be having sweet dreams. Not anytime soon anyway. I cried, silently, as I undressed and pulled on my nightgown, making sure that every button was fastened. I cleaned myself up, the best I could, trying to wash the scent of rum and Compton off of me. I'd always done what was expected of me, saving myself for a suitor that may or may not have come. Now I had one, and all my efforts had been for nothing.
I had just tucked myself into my bunk, numb, in a way I never thought possible, when an earth shattering thud knocked us both out of our berths.
"What the hell was that?" Amelia cocked her head, listening to the ruckus that was ensuing.
"I don't know. Do you think we should go and see?"
"It's probably just those stupid goons wrestling." This time, we were jarred out of our berths by a loud bang.
In minutes, everything fell apart, we heard the crew scrambling and yelling that we were under attack. Amelia and I rushed up to deck, in our nightgowns, just in time to see another ship firing on the Hummingbird.
"This isn't good." Amelia grabbed my hand.
"No, it's certainly not." I ducked instinctively, as a large wooden board came crashing down. It hit Amelia, knocking her onto the deck, unconscious. I tried to shake her, rouse her, but to no avail. Moments later, everything went black.
Something felt different. I realized after a few minutes of hunting for something, anything in the dark, that not only was there nothing to see in the pitch black, but there was nothing to hear. Everything was silent. I couldn't hear anyone. I could always hear a persistent humming, deep in the back of my brain, even when I was alone, but there was nothing, except pain, probably from a combination of the stitches and my head wound.
"Is there anyone here?"
"Oh, you're awake." A female voice with a lower class accent answered, and an oil lamp was lit. A grey cat wound itself around her legs. "The Captain will be pleased." I couldn't hear a thing besides her voice. It was off-putting, but soothing, at the same time. Maybe my knock on the noggin had shook my shine up a bit. After everything that had happened this evening, at least I thought it was this evening, at any rate, I was grateful for the break, no matter how temporary.
A tear escaped my eye. "Captain Compton?" My voice wavered and cracked, as I was taken back to earlier events.
She gave me a knowing look and shook her head. "No. Captain Northman. He's been waiting to talk to you." She got up and came and sat beside me. "He has a few questions, about Compton."
The pieces of the last few days were coming together. I frantically realized that I'd lost Amelia. "Where's Amelia, my cousin? I was with her."
"She's been injured, more gravely than you. She's over there." She nodded towards a bunk across from us. "I stitched your head up, but you'll probably have a small scar. I poured grog down your throat so you'd sleep through it. You've been out for two days."
Two days? I felt my head, counting six stitches. "Thank you. What's your name?"
"Pam. I'm the first mate of the Moonlight."
"What happened?" I rubbed my eyes.
"Captain Northman would like to ask you the same question. We sunk your ship, pillaged its cargo, and killed most of the crew. The only three we took on board were the two of you and Compton. We set the rest adrift, as we didn't have enough food for them. The food from the Hummingbird will feed us until we hit land. Compton and the Northman have history, and you two looked like the type of people that you can fetch a ransom for."
"Yep. We used to be privateers, but we gave that up a year or so ago. Too many rules."
"Why does the Captain want to ask me about Captain Compton?" Pam noticed I was visibly upset. "What's going to happen to us?"
"We're trying to determine your worth, currently. Then we will decide. I examined you, when we brought you on board, and I think you can figure out why he wants to talk to you." She looked me right in the eye. "If our suspicions are correct, Compton defied article 7 of our code, which applies to him now that he's on our ship. The issue we are facing, well, never mind, I'll let the captain talk to you. You're on our ship, so its our issue to deal with now."
Article 7? What? "Do you have any water?" I was parched. Beyond parched.
She tossed me some sort of leather jug. "Drink up. You're probably dehydrated. We'll be putting into port in a few of days to pick up supplies. Food is in short supply until then, but we set some aside for you and her." she nodded at Amelia. "If she wakes up."
I looked over at her, all bruised and battered, not unlike myself. She had to wake up. I didn't know what I'd do if she didn't. No one was going to pay ransom for me without her. I hoped we'd be a package deal. Two cousins for two cousins. Her father was the one who had brokered the deal.
I'd heard of things like this happening, but never imagined it would happen to me. Pirates were merciless swine, robbing from unsuspecting ships and murdering. To say I was terrified would be an understatement, yet I somehow managed to retain a calm demeanor.
I chugged the water, relishing every drop. What I really wanted was a bath. I wanted, needed to wash the last few days off of me. I felt disgusting, in every sense of the word. I felt sick at the thought of what had happened. Pam handed me a piece of dry bread. I realized that I was also famished, as the list of things that I was, grew. I devoured it.
"Are you ready to talk?"
I sighed. "Can you bring me a proper gown, if I'm meeting your captain?"
She laughed. "That won't be necessary. He's seen much more of you than what's covered in his sleep shirt now."
"He checked on you a couple of times, while you were out. Your clothes were totally destroyed in the fight, and to be honest, the dress in your quarters wasn't in good shape either. He interrupted me putting you in the gown, after I stitched up your head. We both liked what we saw." She grinned.
I instinctively crossed my arms over my chest. "You are so uncivilized."
She raised an eyebrow. "At least we follow Article 7. Here's a pair of long johns. You need to come to his quarters, as that's where Captain Compton is being held, at least between floggings." She threw me a pair of itchy grey pants. I pulled them on. "Follow me." I stood up, trying to find my balance, and she hooked her arm through mine. She was a couple of inches shorter than me, and dressed in men's clothing.
"How did you become first mate? You're a woman."
"I'm glad you noticed." She winked. "Pirating is one of the few professions where women can outrank men, based on skill and intelligence, which I have in spades. I led a mutiny a few years ago, and earned my rank, beside the captain."
We walked above deck, and I looked into the night sky, taking in the stars above. Despite all the things I'd been through in the last few days, it was encouraging to see that even though my world had quickly fallen apart, they were constant.
Moving along the deck, quickly, I kept my head down, as we passed the sailors keeping watch on deck. A couple of them whistled at me. Pam picked her head up and shoot them a look that shut them up. "We don't tolerate that on this ship."
She led me down a narrow set of stairs at the aft of the ship, and into the most affluent space I'd ever seen on a ship. It made Captain Compton's quarters look like somewhere you'd keep livestock. I once again felt nauseous at the thought of him and his quarters. He was the last person I wanted to see, ever.
She sat me down, on a plush red chaise. The room was very red. Red curtains opening onto the transom of the ship, red bedding on the bunk, even red candles lighting the lamp on the table. "The Northman will be right with us. He just needed to fetch the prisoner."
"Captain Compton is being held prisoner? You aren't planning on holding him for ransom?"
She shook her head. "Bill's not worth anything. Don't call him Captain Compton in front of the Northman, it'll just make him angry. I'm surprised anyone even gave him a ship. Not that it was a great ship, but he's really not worthy of captaining anything."
I concurred. "How do you know him?"
"He and I, and Captain Northman used to sail on this ship, when I was a lass. He violated our current article 3, which was article 2 under Captain Ocella. The Northman almost sent him to Davey Jones' locker, but our old Captain stopped him, and marooned Bill on an island in the South Atlantic instead. But that was years ago."
She kept mentioning articles as if I knew what they were, but I had no idea. "What are all the articles?" Was I violating any? What were the consequences? I had so many questions, but not enough guts to ask any of them. Not right now.
"I'll have Sam write you up a list. He's the boatswain. Most of the rest of us don't write so well. We keep the code up here." She tapped on her head. I glanced at a wide wall of books on one side of the captain's quarters. "Northman and I both read though. We pillaged some new ones from your ship."
"They were probably mine." My book collection was most prized. I'd brought everyone I could, at the expense of other things.
"Well, we'll enjoy them." She grinned, running her hand along the spines on a shelf of books. She moved to sit down beside me. "Now, you need to be honest here. You don't want to violate article 2. That's one of Northman's favourites."
The door to the captain's quarters opened, and Captain Compton was thrown on the floor in front of Pam and me, by a tall man with a mess of blond hair and the most brilliant blue eyes I'd ever seen.
He looked at me, and I was trapped in his gaze. "You're awake. Good. I have some questions for you."
I nodded my head, unable to speak.
He kicked Captain Compton. "Now, when we pulled you and your friend from the deck, you were both in pretty rough shape. I know a number of those injuries were created when we attacked and conquered your ship, but Pam informed me of some further injuries, which are in a direct violation of article 7. At first, we were confused as to their origins, but when I mentioned that we had retrieved the two of you for ransom, Billy here, happened to get quite worked up and mention that you were 'his'? Is this true? He's already violated article 2 in my opinion, and I'd love to punish him for two violations. Article 7 is much more serious."
I managed to pull my eyes out of his orbit, long enough to look at Bill, who had clearly taken a beating. "What's the punishment?" I managed to squeak out.
He thought about it. "Well, if it's just article 2, he's already been punished, but not severely enough in my opinion, and I'm the captain now, isn't that right, Bill?" He kicked him again. "That would mean a flogging with the cat o nine tails, which we've already done, but I'd do it again. I'd like to do it again. Now, if he violated article 7, then the punishment is much worse."
"What is article 7?" I wanted to be clear that we were talking about the same thing. All these articles were messing with my head, well that and the lack of telepathy, and the rather large, surprisingly well sewn wound.
"Pam, would you like to tell her what article 7 is?" He grinned at Pam.
Pam glared at Bill. "As soon as he said you were his and I examined your injuries, we pretty much decided he was guilty. Article 7 states that if at any time you meet with a prudent woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her consent, shall suffer death. You look pretty prudent to us."
"So, lass, did he meddle with you? Because someone certainly did." He stood over Bill, kicking him once more, and then staring deep into my eyes. I didn't need my shine to know what he was thinking. He was furious.
"Are you really going to kill him, if he did?" I hated Bill, more than anything. I was sure I'd hate him further when I had time to really process what had happened, but I wasn't sure I could be responsible for his death. I wondered what article 2 was.
"Are you his? That's really the only question we need answered, because if the answer is no, then we have already decided his guilt. If the answer is yes, he's still getting extra floggings for his brutality."
"I am no ones. I am engaged to be married to a suitor in Virginia." If I was anyone's, I was Amelia's, and I didn't count myself as hers. We were family, and I hadn't even met Alcide. I wasn't going to lie and say I was Bill's. The thought of being his made me choke up. I tried desperately to stop the tears from streaming down my cheeks, but I was unsuccessful. Pam gave me a strong smile.
"Well, that's it then, Billy. I guess your fate's been decided. I will leave you the option to decide your end. Personally, I would recommend keelhauling, because we had the bottom cleaned a couple of months ago and spent some time up north recently, so the barnacles shouldn't be too bad. So, you son of a bitch, make your choice. We could just strap an anchor to you and send you to Davey Jones' locker, which is what I should have done years ago, if that fool Appius hadn't stopped me."
That must have been the former captain that Pam had mentioned. Captain Northman's eyes had a certain light in them. Something I used to recognize in my own. I knew one day I'd get it back. "Do you have to kill him?" I didn't know why I was pleading. I felt like it would be ineffective, and, to be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted it to be effective.
"Yes we do. This is the second time he's committed this offense, to our knowledge. The first was many years ago, on this very ship. This cannot stand. It's against the code."
"Why is the code so important?" I had to ask.
Pam and Captain Northman looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "The code is everything. We need some structure to our existence."
"You rob, rape, and pillage, but you need a code?"
Captain Northman and Pam looked at each other. "We do not rape. Do we look like we need to rape anyone?" Pam answered, grinning at me broadly. "We do quite well, I'll have you know. The articles apply to our interactions with each other, except for code 7, which applies to all women. And wherever we are, there are always women, so it's quite important."
So Pam and Eric both shared a taste for women. That was good to know. My head was throbbing, but not with their thoughts, for a change.
Captain Northman sat down in a throne like chair, which overlooked the transom, and tented his fingers. "Billy, I believe we are waiting."
Compton, or Billy, as he was being referred to, sat up, wiping blood from his mouth. He glared at me, as if somehow this was my fault.
"Do not look at her." Pam kicked him. "I think you've done enough. Make your choice. Now."
"I do not care. It's not as though you haven't already decided anyway."
"Davey Jones' locker it is. We don't practice brutality, unlike you. You left your handprints in her flesh." I felt my arms, which were sore. I hadn't even looked for bruises. Captain Northman grabbed him by the collar, and looked at Pam and I. "Are you coming?"
"You're doing it now?" I gasped; my mind unable to keep up with what was happening.
"We aren't going to feed him for another night, and we don't believe in starvation." He pulled him to the deck and shouted for someone named Sam. A shorter, scruffy man, with an eye-patch joined him. Pam held my arm, as I watched in horror.
"So we're finally doing it. Who knew when we saw that ship that it would be his?" Sam looked at Bill, unaffected by his injuries.
"Good luck I guess; maybe a bit of help from beyond." Eric winked at Sam. "Grab an anchor; the old rusty one."
He returned a few minutes later, and I watched in horror, as the two of them chained Bill up, attaching the anchor to his feet. "Any last words Compton?"
"Your woman screamed my name Northman. She couldn't get enough." Eric's eyes darkened, as he picked him up, chains and all, and threw him over the side.
I screamed, and then everything was black once again.
"You're quite delicate, aren't you." I awoke on the deck, to Pam kneeling over me. "Come on now, let's get you back to your friend." I looked around. Sam and Captain Northman were gone. A couple of men I hadn't seen before were walking the decks.
She grabbed my arm, and we went below deck. I crouched down beside Amelia, and she moved a little.
"I think she'll recover. She needs to wake up and have some water though."
"What happened up there?"
"With Billy? That was a long time coming. Almost five years."
"What do you mean?"
"We don't talk about it. Needless to say, he had it coming. Here's some more water, and I'll come check on you in the morning. Try and get her to drink." Pam made her leave.
I got Amelia to choke down a mouthful of water, and she was moving and groaning more, which I took to be a good sign. After a couple of hours of trying to process the days events, I decided to go above deck and get some fresh air.
When I made my way above deck, I saw the sun beginning to peek over the horizon, bathing the endless sea in an orange glow. I made my way to the side, looking over into the black sea below me.
"I hope you aren't planning on joining him." I turned to see Captain Northman, leaning on a mast. He was the only one on deck.
"No. I just couldn't sleep."
He walked over, and stood beside me. "I didn't do that because of what he did to you. He had it coming; long before you stepped foot on his boat, or rather Sam dragged you." He raised an eyebrow.
"What do you mean?" I cocked my head and looked at him. Those eyes, they matched the Atlantic in the afternoon. Dark, and tumultuous under the surface. He looked scruffy, but I had the feeling he didn't always look like that. He had about three days growth.
"We don't talk about what he did. How are you feeling?" I got a name from his head. Aude. My shine was returning, as my headache dwindled.
"You know, I don't know. The last few days, I don't know what to think."
"Well, if all goes according to plan, we'll have you both on route to your suitors in Virginia shortly."
"I don't..." I stopped myself. "Is there anyone that can look at Amelia?"
"Pam's your best bet. What's your name?"
"Suz...Sookie. Sookie Stackhouse." I was done with Susannah. I decided right then and there.
"Interesting name. I'll send Pam down to your berth when we switch lookouts in a little while, once the sun comes up." We stood there, in comfortable silence, leaning on the rail, watching the sun peek over the eastern horizon.
So, a bit of piratey background:
Not all pirate ships were rough-and-tumble. Pirates often operated under a document that had some similarity to a constitution. Here are a few of the articles from an agreement drawn up by the crew of Captain John Phillips in 1723. I'll be using them throughout the story.
1. Every man shall obey civil Command; the Captain shall have one full Share and a half in all prizes; the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain, and Gunner shall have one share and a quarter.
2. If any man shall offer to run away, or keep any Secret from the Company, he shall be maroon'd with one Bottle of Powder, one Bottle of Water, one small Arm, and Shot.
3. If any Man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or game, to the Value of a Piece of Eight, he shall be maroon'd or shot.
4. That Man that shall strike another whilst those Articles are in force, shall receive Moses's Law (that is 40 stripes lacking one) on the bare Back.
5. That Man that shall not keep his Arms clean, fit for an Engagement, or neglect his Business, shall be cut off from his Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Captain and the Company shall think fit.
6. If any Man shall lose a Joint in time of an Engagement, shall have 400 Pieces of Eight; if a limb 800.
7. If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer Death.
Keelhauling is when someone is tied up and dragged along the keel of the ship. Its unpleasant. Google it for more info, if you want.
*Waves* Bye for now...
Note: I've relocated the rest of this story to my blog. You can read it at seastarr08 dot wordpress dot com