Author's Note: Wow. This was actually suppose to be a one-shot originally, I figured I should go ahead and split it up into two parts. Anyways, enjoy!
There was a somber stillness pervading the air that day. Sailing across the motionless ocean rested a ship, tall and proud, holding its place on the horizon. Gathered around the starboard edge of the vessel stood a clump of morose crew members, all of them staring down at the sea below them. For a moment, complete silence echoed throughout the Great Sea. Quiet tears slowly fell upon the deck of the ship. The moment seemed to stretch on forever, with no one daring to disrupt reality. There was nothing except ironic peacefulness.
"...I'm done with this," Senza muttered as he trudged towards the cabin. Mako looked up as if to say something to him, but faltered and his head fell back towards the ground. Placidity once again befell the ship. Time slipped past the shipmates like water escaping through a minute crack. One by one, each crewman retired to the cabin until everyone had left except a young girl, still clinging to the guardrail. Bright yellow hair was thrown into a circular bun; she was wearing her mother's jacket. Tears continued to ceaselessly stream down her face and dripped down into the vast ocean. The occasional sniffle would escape her mouth before she fell silent again. The girl on the guardrail was completely forgotten, left to fend off her emotions alone.
Under her tiny feet, the cabin was a smidge livelier. Mako had already buried himself in a book, unfortunately struggling over every word. The previous night's struggle had cracked the right lens of his glasses, leaving that eye practically blind. Next to the spectacled boatswain sat Nugde, engrossed in stitching together a small, dark blue vest. He had emerged virtually unscathed from yesterday. Gonzo isolated himself in the far corner of the room, hopelessly holding his head in his hands. He grimaced as a wave of pain over swept the laceration embedded on his cheek. Cursing under his breath, Gonzo endured the flare up until it subsided minutes later. That dirty scoundrel! Having the pluck to adorn his face with a cut deep enough to last a lifetime. But, like she always said, one can't become a good pirate without a good battle scar. A smile swept his face at the thought of it. Those were the days he would miss. The days that were nothing but a memory now…
Past the cabin, further down the hall, was the captain's study. At least, it used to be. Now it was just the study. Once, the room was a place where strategy was planned against rival pirates and raids were planned on local islands. She, along with her most trusted crewmates, would consult the wondrous map of the Great Sea sprawled across the center of the circular table. Routes were made, battles were planned, and all of it was done with their captain leading. With her no longer there, the chamber was but an ordinary study, lined with bookshelves on every wall and papers haphazardly strewn in no particular pattern. A desk hosting a variety of stationary and other trinkets sat in front of a small window.
At that precise moment, however, it was a study filled with insurmountable tension. Zuko stood unyieldingly in front of a bookcase, furious and frustrated. Senza was leaning on the desk, arms folded stubbornly.
"No," the shorter of the two pirates said. "I've told you. I won't do it!"
"You must! Who else is going to then? I'm certainly not capable, else I wouldn't be asking you," Senza barked. A sneer was written on his face as he stared down his ship mate.
"I'm a lookout, Senza! I'm just as unable to take this position as you. What am I gonna do? Spot islands to strategize and lead?" It was an intense battle of sheer willpower at this point, as neither of the two would voluntarily step down.
"You're more than competent to be captain of this ship and you know it. Zuko, look at ya'! You got smarts, strength, and a good hold over the crew. Alesta would have chosen you as her successor in an instant."
"No, she wouldn't," Zuko snapped, swiveling around to face Senza. "If you want a captain with smarts, then go bug Mako. Strength? Nudge. And you, with your talking skills can convince nearly anyone on this ship to do anything. Except me. I'm not gonna do it, Senza. Nothing you say can change that. My mind is made up."
The recipient of the speech was flabbergasted. "I daresay that's the most I've ever heard you say, ever," Zuko raised an eyebrow and rolled his eyes as he turned back towards the bookcase. "Alright, I get it. I'll…stop pesterin' you to become captain. But, I am gonna make ya' pick who your choice would be."
He pondered for only a second. "...Gonzo. We saw the bravery he had shown out in battle last night. If I were to choose anyone to lead me, anyone to trust with my life, it would be him."
With that, Zuko silently strode out of the study and into the cabin with the rest of the pirates. After a quick contemplation, Senza followed close behind. He agreed wholeheartedly. Gonzo would make an excellent captain.
A quick survey of the cabin and its inhabitants sent Zuko into panic. Every crew member was present, sans a certain little girl.
"Where's Tetra?" he shouted.
"She's not with you?" Nudge asked, looking up from his sewing. Senza and Zuko instantaneously glanced at each other with a look of fear scrawled on their faces. The unspoken message spread to each pirate like wildfire as each man sprang up and began searching. They scattered throughout the ship every which way, calling her name periodically. She wasn't in the cabin, or the study. Not in her room or anyone else's. And she wasn't responding to her name. As time passed, everyone was becoming more frantic.
As soon as the hullaballoo began, Gonzo immediately jumped up the ladder, knowing exactly where she was. Up on the deck, it took Gonzo less than a second to locate her. The little girl with the bright yellow circular bun was right where she was when they left her. Wind came blowing towards the ship like a great wave, tugging at her hair and blowing her coat behind her back. Small hands held tightly onto the railing while petite feet stood firm on the deck. She removed the grip of one hand and clawed her bun out, leaving her long hair flowing like water in the breeze.
Gonzo took a step forward. "Missy Tetra," he softly spoke, calling her by the same nickname he's used for years. She quickly turned around, no doubt startled, and a wavering smile appeared. Abandoning her place, the young child ran towards her friend, tears streaming once more down her cheeks. The two met in a heartfelt hug in the center of the ship, near the mast. Choked sniffles erupted from the newly-orphaned pirate and a tear or two even formed in Gonzo's eye. He stroked her head comfortingly during the embrace, doing everything he could to calm her down.
"You've been so strong through all of this, missy," he whispered, pulling her head up to make eye contact. "And we've been worried sick about you, up here on the deck all day long,"
"I miss her, Gonzo..." was her only response.
"I know, missy. We…we all do... But now we need you to come back inside. It's starting to get chilly and we can't have you getting sick. Come on," he started to stand up, and Tetra nodded her head in agreement as she copied the action. Reaching his hand out to escort her, the two strode back into the cabin.
Arriving, the crew breathed a collective sigh of relief knowing the captain's daughter was safe and sound. None of their searches warranted any results, so the majority of the group assumed she was fine with Gonzo. The two had always possessed a strong, sibling like relationship. Ever since she was little, Tetra had looked up to Gonzo. And Gonzo had always been there to protect Tetra, no matter the circumstances.
During the battle last night, she had been cornered by a group of the enemy's crew. A high pitched screech pleading for aid rang out across the ship. The sound struck Gonzo's ears clearly, and he abandoned the duel he was currently engaged in, harshly kicking his foe to the ground. Sprinting from the aft of the ship towards the bow where she was, he weaved in between and around the numerous struggles strewn about the vessel. He pushed his way through the throngs of pirates until he reached the source of the shriek. Cutlass at the ready, he dashed in front of the defenseless child and pursued her assailants. The task was no easy feat—having to be attuned to the actions of three opponents in addition to fending off any potential attacks to Tetra.
Parrying the attack of one pirate's blade, he practically left himself open to blows from the opposite side. With a twist of his arm, Gonzo aimed to knock the sword out of his opponent's hand, but was not successful in the attempt. Consequently, the maneuver only resulted in Gonzo losing his own blade. Instinct promptly led Gonzo into stealing someone else's weapon. And as a pirate, the best way to do that was to play dirty and cheat. But, instead of a foolhardy attempt at thievery, he did the opposite of what they would have expected. Scooping Tetra up in one arm, he jumped down the top of the boat to retrieve his misplaced cutlass. Before returning to the skirmish, however, Gonzo set Tetra down and managed to get a stern word into her.
"Didn't we tell you to stay deep in the cabin where you couldn't get hurt?" he chastised. Tetra merely smiled that wry grin of hers she wore whenever she deliberately disobeyed a direct order. It was a trait that was annoying now, but would contribute to a great pirate later. Rolling his eyes and softly chuckling, Gonzo sprang back to his feet and reentered combat, this time with a firm grip on his sword.
"Hide somewhere. Stay safe!" he bellowed. He approached the location of his three targets from behind as he leapt back to the upper portion of the ship. Sliding his foot under the legs of one opponent, Gonzo caused him to crash to the ground, head hitting the deck with a painful thud of unconsciousness. The sudden noise alerted the now-comatose marauder's allies to face Gonzo and begin their attack. From the start, it was obvious that one of his enemies was an amateur swordsman, fumbling with the handle and nearly dropping it. Taking advantage of the lad's lack of experience, Gonzo instigated a sparring match. The difficult part wouldn't necessarily be besting him, but defeating him while being preoccupied with the other rival at hand. But perhaps, this time, he could actually accomplish the trick he attempted before. Clanging swords together, the novice sword fighter and Gonzo met with their blades in mid-air. Swiftly, in one fluid motion, he forced his foe's sword down towards the wooden plank flooring. At the last moment, he spun it around and the sword went flying through the skies, landing with a satisfying plunk near the mast. Now, struck with newfound fear, both of the cowardly pirates hastily fled to the aft of the ship. Gonzo gave chase, pursuing his enemies to finish what he started.
That is, he would have, if not stumbling into the last person he would have ever wanted to face. A blunt blow to his chest caused the air in his lungs to rush out with a sickening whoosh. Suddenly, he found himself lying down on the deck with a foot forcefully resting on his torso. Thoughts of dread drifted through his mind as he came to the realization of who this person was. The ornate, sturdy boot currently planted on his chest belonged to none other than the captain of their opposing crew—a man who went by the name of Captain Forsaken. It was a fitting title, really. Forsaken was one of the most feared men of the seas, claiming the majority of the northwestern waters to himself. The arrogant pirate had power to match his words, however. Numerous well-built ships, loyal crewmates to run them, and a colossal stone fortress that stands at the edge of the Great Sea. Their captain, Alesta, had been eyeing the castle for quite some time, and she had finally decided to plan an attack to take it, once and for all to prove her worth. Although Forsaken was the fiercest captain, Alesta undoubtedly followed right behind him in that ranking. Unlike Forsaken, though, Alesta was a captain of cunning, strategy and tactics, whereas Forsaken was more or less a brawny berserker. They had gone into this battle absolutely certain of gaining control of the fortress, for every one of their crew knew of her plan to take it, and every one unanimously agreed that it was foolproof.
There is a definite distinction between foolproof and Forsaken-proof, sadly. He had achieved the upper hand quite easily in a—rather concerning, albeit—concise manner. Quickly, Alesta altered their plan of attack to better suit the rapidly declining situation, and the scales seemed to even themselves out, nearly tipping in her favor.
Gonzo knew that Forsaken was present during the battle, but he would have never imagined having to face him. Now, here he was, trapped between the sturdy deck and a very intimidating man with his sword drawn and pointed at his face. Gonzo's blade was practically useless at this point—a short, somewhat dull cutlass against Forsaken's long, elegantly sharp rapier
"Tell me where Alesta is hiding," he demanded in a deep, rumbling voice.
Gonzo spat. "She's not. Our captain isn't a coward, she's fighting alongside us!"
"But nowhere to be seen," he said, smirking with a disconcerting smugness. Gonzo's eyes frantically scaled the ship looking for her, only to find the captain's words were correct. His heart sank.
"I…don't know where she is," Gonzo admitted. Somehow, the statement was damaging to his pride. Forsaken's face contorted into one of simmering anger.
"You lie. Where is she, boy? You have three seconds until I strike,"
"I-it's the truth! I haven't seen her!" Slight panic aroused in his voice and Gonzo noticed that he was quivering. Struggling to resist, he slashed his sword at his oppressor's leg, despite the fact that he would not land a blow. Just as so, Forsaken blocked it with a slight flick of his wrist. Spite would not have the upper hand in this conflict.
"I warn you. My patience begins to waver," The fresh touch of steel kissed his left cheek, resting there without cutting into his skin. No sound escaped Gonzo's mouth, as he could find no words that would redeem the truth of his statements.
"Stop this stubborn behavior now! You have nothing to gain from it!" Forsaken shouted, his calm forcefulness evolving into a towering rage.
His rapier left Gonzo's cheek as he lifted it up. It came down in one seamless motion, slicing a perfect arc below his left eye on the cheekbone. Pain ceaselessly radiated from the location as the sharp steel made its' mark.
"No more," Forsaken yelled as he raised his blade once more, higher this time, and angled to kill. So this is it. Gonzo thought. He braced himself for the impact and muttered a few last words under his breath. The sword came swooping down towards his neck, when Forsaken suddenly dropped his sword and gagged.
Behind him stood a little girl with a circular yellow bun, removing the dagger she held in her tiny hand from his back.
It came to his realization that Gonzo was, in fact, not dead, and owed his life to the nine-year-old daughter of his captain. It also came to his realization that Forsaken was not dead either. The third realization he came across was the outstanding, intolerable pain erupting from his face. Exchanging a quick glance with Tetra, he grinned as he retrieved the wounded captain's sword along with his sturdy cutlass. Wielding the dual weapons, Gonzo continued fighting once more with new vigor, little girl standing behind him the whole time.
Gonzo forced himself to stop reliving the experience there, as to not have to endure the emotional pain of losing her once again. While he had drifted off into the excitement of the battle, they had come upon Tetra's bedroom. Like a gentleman, Gonzo took her smooth hand in his calloused one and gracefully led the princess to her throne. Right before reaching her bed, however, Gonzo twirled the young girl around with a flourish and knelt on one knee like a knight reporting to his liege lord.
"M'lady," he said, feigning a dignified accent. Tetra spontaneously fell into a bout of uncontrolled giggling and flopped down onto her bed, just like she did every time Gonzo performed the charade. Knowing that the game still made her happy, despite all the hardships and pain faced, managed to somewhat cheer him up.
"Goodnight, Tetra," he mumbled on his way out.
"'Night, Gonzo," Tetra meekly replied from underneath the covers.
A few quick notes:
1. If you're expecting to see Niko in this story, I'm sorry to say he won't be making an appearance. Since he's the bottom rung of the ladder, he had to have joined the crew last, and in my opinion, he was welcomed aboard after Tetra's ascension to captain. Meaning that he has no place in this story. My deepest apologizes if that saddens you.
2. Why name Tetra's mom Alesta? Because I like to dabble in lame, somewhat sciency reasons. The actual tetra fish belongs to three scientific families: the Alestidae, the Characidae, and the Lebiasinidae. I thought that I should derive it from one of these three, and "Alesta" seemed more appealing to me. Thus, the name was created.
3. There's a part in Wind Waker when Tetra mentions that the Forsaken Fortress used to be run by a group of rival pirates. It seemed only fitting to integrate them into the crew's back story.
I'll try to have the next chapter up soon! It'll contain the actual "rising of the captain." How will Tetra come to take her mother's place after most of the crew is set on Gonzo filling that role?
Wow. That was a really lame cliffhanger. I'm so sorry... In the meantime, please rate and review! It means a lot!