Devil of the Sea
An X-Men Evolution Fanfic by Quill N. Inque
I do not own X-Men.
"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."- H.L. Mencken
Chapter 1: Pirates!
The Caribbean Sea, 1702
Catherine Pryde sighed quietly to herself, running her fingers in her bangs as the salty wind blew them across her eyes. The bustling activity around the young heiress was lost upon her; men scurried about the deck and in the rigging while she was absorbed in her thoughts. The vessel that carried Miss Pryde, the Neptune, was typical of merchant ships in that day and age. She was as plain as a mug of tea, three-masted and square-rigged, easy to turn in a breeze but slow when weighed down with goods.
And weighed down she was. The Neptune was packed with tea and tobacco, sopped with rum and stuffed with grain. She was bound for Boston by way of the Bahamas and the Western Antilles, but Catherine was in no hurry to get there.
Miss Pryde's father had built a rather prosperous shipping business some years back, and as his only daughter and heiress, Catherine was expected to marry someone wealthy so as to increase the Pryde family's coffers. The marriage had been arranged for her, and her new fiancée, Squire Lawrence, was indeed quite wealthy. But Catherine found her husband-to-be utterly detestable; Lawrence cared for no one but himself, and cared for his finances better than anyone in his household. He was pompous, arrogant, domineering and vain, and the thought of spending a mere moment in Lawrence's company made Catherine's skin crawl.
She gripped the taffrail angrily. Before the Neptune had left her hometown of Bristol, Catherine had pleaded with her father to call the marriage off. But the obstinate old man had flatly refused, for his daughter was a woman and therefore had no idea about what was best for her. So it was that poor Catherine had been traded like a cow at the farmer's market, trapped in between the machinations of two heartless men.
And to be honest, the seasickness wasn't helping either. Catherine had never been to sea before, and she had spent most of the voyage so far with her head in a bucket.
But unbeknownst to her, a little nausea was the least of Catherine Pryde's worries…
Through the lens of his spyglass, another watched, unseen, as the Neptune's keel left a frothy wake behind her. A blue, furry finger tapped thoughtfully on his chin, and a pair of golden eyes narrowed in thought. The words that issued from between his elongated fangs had a playful air to them, as if this were a dance he had performed many times.
"She certainly seems to drawing a lot of weight. Don't you think so, Mr. Summers?"
A tall, handsome man with brown hair and an eyepatch grinned back at him. "Aye, sir. And that can only mean one thing…"
"She's packed to the gunwales," the other man finished, his tail swishing as if it had a mind of its own.
Once again, Mr. Summers found himself staring at the bizarre figure of his Captain. No other man on land or sea ever looked so strange and frightening, but how he got that way was a total mystery. Tales of his rumored origin abounded in the taverns of New Providence: some said that he had once resided in Cuba, and had warped his body through voodoo rituals deep in its murky swamps. Others claimed that he had been cursed by God for some heinous sin, while still others were convinced that he was the Devil himself.
Captain Wagner certainly looked the part: a blue, spaded tail lashed around his ankles, and the pirate leader's feet and hands were warped and disfigured. Each foot possessed only two toes, and his hands were crowned with only two fingers and a thumb. Unlike other pirates, Wagner wore no elaborate captain's garb: a red scarf was wrapped around his skull, and he wore a plain leather vest over his bare, blue torso. His breeches were tattered at the ends, brown in color and worn by exposure to the elements. And like all pirates, the Captain was well-armed. A broadly curved cutlass was thrust into his scarlet sash, and the butt of a pistol could be seen from behind his right hip. All in all, Wagner cut a dashing and fearsome figure.
Summers glanced at his Captain. "Orders, sir?"
Kurt nodded. "We give chase," he said firmly before raising his voice. "Ready the guns and bring her about! Make sail and tack on south by southeast! And ready your weapons!"
A mighty cheer erupted by the assorted rabble, and Kurt flashed his teeth in a predatory grin. "Run up a flag, Mr. Daniels. Let's be English for a while."
A darker-skinned pirate nodded, and moments later the Union Jack fluttered in the breeze…
Aboard the Neptune…
"Sail ho! And moving at a timely clip, sir!" High up in the rigging, a sailor's shout got every man's attention.
"Colors?" An officer replied.
"She looks to be English! A sloop, sir! I count eight guns, perhaps ten!"
"No merchant vessels run that heavily armed," another tar muttered to himself. "Something ain't right about all-"
Abruptly, the entire world exploded in a shower of wooden splinters and iron cannon shot. Without any warning or prior provocation, the pirate sloop Sally Anne let off a devastating broadside just after it got within cannon range. Pandemonium reigned on Neptune, which was now belching smoke and sported several lovely breaches in her hull just above the waterline.
Captain Wagner, the man known the world over as the "Devil of the Sea", clapped his hands lightly..
"Well done, gentlemen! Now I would have some music, if you please, Mr. Labeau. And run up our flag! Let's see those prissy bluebloods shake with fear!"
"Oui, mon Capitaine!" A tall, gangly man with a heavy French accent sped below deck, emerging moments later with a rather obese drum and mallet. The drum in question had been stolen some months ago in the North Atlantic, and now its deep tones made the air thrum as the Jolly Roger took the Union Jack's place. It was a banner of Kurt's own design: a red skull on crossbones on a black flag, flanked on either side by a crimson hourglass. The death's head seemed to be laughing as it rose in the air, and the pirates gathered at the railing to strike the fear of God into the Neptune's crew.
BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.
The drum beat slowly, deliberately, and the Jolly Roger fluttered in the breeze as the pirates thrust their weapons into the air in time to its beat.
BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.
Like a swift bird of prey, the Sally Anne came alongside the Neptune, and Kurt Wagner felt a shiver of excitement as he stood on the quarterdeck in all his glory. With a leap and a bound, he perched himself on the Sally Anne's taffrail, and the startled shouts of the merchantmen were music to his ears.
BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.
With a flourish, Kurt drew his pistol and fired it toward the heavens. His tail lashed and writhed like an agonized snake as he hailed his latest prize.
"Good morrow to you, gentlemen," he roared. "AND WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD!"
As if on cue, the pirates began working themselves into a frenzy, brandishing their weapons and describing tortures in lurid detail so as to coerce the Neptune's crew into submission.
"String 'em up by the yardarm!"
"Throw 'em to the sharks!"
"Use 'em fer target practice!"
The strategy of intimidation worked. The sight of fifty drunken, jeering pirates led by the Devil incarnate took all the fight out of any who thought of resisting. What could earthly weapons do against such a creature?
The whole thing was over in a trice. A volley of iron grapnels sailed through the air, tangling with the Neptune's sails and rigging and lashing the two vessels together. Like a plague of locusts, the pirates stormed onto the stricken Neptune, and the passengers and crew were herded onto the deck like sheep in a pen. Catherine Pryde had taken refuge in the cabin when the fighting had started, and now she trembled with fear beneath her bunk. The door splintered, then broke in two as Mr. Summers and several of his mates barged inside. The pirates stripped the cabin of everything they thought worth taking, and Summers grabbed a handful of dusty sea charts in his arm.
The resulting dust storm made Kitty sneeze.
Almost instantly, a pair of hairy, brawny hands seized her by the waist, and Kitty screamed in terror as the pirates leered at her.
"Well, well, well," a particularly nasty-looking fellow grinned. "What 'ave we 'ere, eh? I do believe we've found a…pleasurable diversion, mates!"
Summers drew his sword and leveled it at the speaker. "Belay that, Mr. Terrance!" he ordered. "The Captain will be the one to decide what to do with the lady! Bring her!"
Manhandled once again, Kitty was hustled roughly from the cabin and out onto the open deck, where Kurt Wagner was entertaining himself with his victims. He spoke rather casually and amiably with his terrified captives, as though he were merely on a social call.
He clapped a blue hand on a grizzled man's shoulder. "Where is it?" he asked simply.
The sailor, who was not a particularly bright spark, scratched his beard. "What?"
Kurt sighed. "Don't try to play dumb, sir," he stated flatly without a trace of his former cheeriness. "I know all ships bound for the colonies have specie on board, and if you surrender what you have, you may continue on your way unharmed."
The Neptune's captain scoffed. "We do not make deal with thieves!"
One of the pirates piped up hopefully. "Can we kill 'im, then?"
Kurt turned his gaze skyward, as if seeking patience. "I fear that would make him…slightly less prone to talk, mate. Dead men are a notoriously unreliable source of information." He turned to continue his interrogation-
"Captain! Lookit wot we found!"
Kurt and everyone else turned around at the sudden shout, and the pirates shook with barely concealed glee at the lovely young lady who'd been bound at the wrists with a length of rope. Kurt arched a thick, furry eyebrow. "What's all this, then?" he asked, directing the inquiry at Mr. Summers.
But it was the Neptune's master who unwittingly supplied the answer. "Ma'am!" he exclaimed. "Get out of here! Get below deck this instant!"
Kurt's eyes seemed to drill into Kitty as he studied her. "I must admit, I wasn't expecting such…privileged company," he said. "Hmm…she is fine, isn't she?" There were hoots of laughter as Kitty turned scarlet, and Kurt smiled playfully at her. "What's your name, Missy?"
"I will tell you nothing." Kitty tried to put on a brave face, but failed.
"Well, suit yourself," Kurt shrugged. "In any case, I can see that you're worth far more than a few doubloons. Of course we're going to take those doubloons anyway, but even so, I imagine your kinfolk would pay handsomely to have you returned, eh?"
Kitty's voice shook. "What makes you so sure?"
Kurt snorted. "Please. Your dress is made of fine linen and elaborately embroidered. That necklace you sport is made of pearls, and your shoes have what I suspect are real silver buckles. Only a person of means and money could afford such things. No, I believe that whoever you are, your parents will bury us in gold to have you back."
The unscrupulous Mr. Terrence piped up disappointedly. "Who cares about that? Why can't we 'ave some fun wid 'er?"
Kurt pinched the fur in between his eyebrows. "Mr. Terrence," he said with a sigh. "Try to follow me here, okay? This young lady will be a guest of ours for the foreseeable future. In layman's terms, Mr. Terrence, we are going to hold her for ransom." Ignoring the horror on Kitty's face, he continued. "And in my experience, holding someone for ransom tends to work best when that someone is still alive. I hardly think Miss- what was your name again?" Kurt glanced at her.
Kitty glared right back at him.
"No matter," Kurt picked up where he'd left off. "But I don't think this young lady's relations would be willing to pay for a corpse."
"Aye, but why can't we-"
"Am I clear, Mr. Terrence?" Kurt narrowed his eyes dangerously, and the other man looked away.
"Excellent! Then bring the lady aboard along with everything else, and we'll be on our merry way!" Kurt flapped a hand comically at the stunned crew of the Neptune. "We simply must do this again some time. Ta!"
"Wait! You can't do this! Let me go!" Kitty struggled vainly as two salty pirates seized her arms. "I'll see you all hang!" she shouted with a confidence she didn't feel.
Kurt ticked off the answers to her declarations on his fingers. "First off, in point of fact, I can do this," he said with a wink. "I'm doing it right now. Secondly, letting you go is really not an option at this point. And last of all, the finest navies in the world have tried to bring about my demise, and all of them have failed. Welcome aboard the Sally Anne!"
With an expert grip and judicious application of pressure on Kitty's shoulder, Kurt knocked her unconscious instantly. He then nodded to Mr. Summers. "Take her below and let no one approach her but me. Feed her well and see to her interests."
Summers tugged his eyepatch in salute. "Aye, aye, Captain."
And so it was that Catherine Pryde came into the clutches of the most infamous pirate in all the world…
A/N: Well, you asked for it and here it is! The first chapter of "Devil of the Sea!" What will become of Kitty on the Sally Anne? Will she ever make it home? And what adventures lay in store for her? Find out in coming chapters! And as always, PLEASE REVIEW! If you have ANY ideas or constructive criticism, I would LOVE to hear it! ^^
Your humble servant,
-Quill N. Inque
P.S. There ARE AU versions of the X-Men in this story: Mr. Summers=Cyclops, Mr. Labeau= Gambit, Mr. Daniels=Spyke, and Mr. Drake= Iceman