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Of Sirens and Saltwater
Hi! I'm a junior in highschool who loves to read and write! I'm newer to writing, having just expanded out into writing actual stories and trying to submit them. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
The waves splashed against the sides of the boat. The figure of a woman with a tail melted beneath the water when it sank down, only to reappear again as the ship bobbed up and down. A torn black flag flapped uselessly in the wind, the image of a golden fish strewn across it.
A pirate ship.
Pirate ships were notorious in the Caribbean Sea, and they often sailed up to the North American seaboard. But pirates were not known for silence; people don’t come across quiet vessels of any kind. The only quiet pirate ship was if all the sailors were gone or asleep, but in midday? Missing sailors were the only possible reason why no shouting, no raising of flags, or even the sound of swords against swords could be heard.
This particular pirate ship sported a golden fish, or the dorado, the flag of Captain Knox and his ship the Golden Carnage. They were a rambunctious bunch, cruel, always on the prowl, and never quiet. So how could it be, that Captain Knox’s crew of one-hundred-and-ninety-seven could not be heard, and could not be seen? The ship was seemingly abandoned.
A fog crept across the sea, a common occurrence with the rise of temperatures. It was billowing and thick, hiding everything it came across. And as the ship drifted uselessly without a sailor to guide it, the Golden Carnage disappeared into the fog. The existence of the Golden Carnage and it’s crew taken with it.
Life on the ship already seemed to have begun the moment I woke up. My eyes blinked slowly, as if stuck in mud. A hand clapped me on the shoulder.
“Up and at em’ boy!”
Right. I was on Neptune's Wrath. A rather famous group of pirates. Right! My mind seemed to shout at me. I jumped out of my cot with a jolt. I am on a pirate ship. Which means I needed to get going for the day.
I ran to the bathroom to change and use the restroom. I slammed the door behind me, making sure to lock it. The Neptune’s Wrath was a ship with an all males crew, which means I didn’t belong here. A female. The crew didn’t seem to have the slightest clue. A good thing if you’re asking me. Traitors and liars are forced to walk the plank, and that wasn’t something I planned to do. I was here for a reason, and I wasn’t about to let a ship full of disgusting men get in the way.
I pulled my shirt off, a binder appearing underneath. It hurt, but I did what I had to. I checked it, making sure it covered everything and made my chest appear flat.
The door rattled as some of the crew cackled, their footsteps disappearing. When I first arrived here they bombarded me about changing in private.
“Innit quicker to change here?”
“Buck down boy! Don’ be a baby!”
“What’s got your breeches ina knot?”
Men. The word crossed my mind. Ignorant and dumb, a chuckle escaped my lips. I pulled my pants up, finished dressing for the day. I’d always just told them I sported a rather nasty wart and that it oozed sometimes. They didn’t question me after that.
I unlocked and opened the door, peeking outside. Everyone seemed to already be up and on deck. Good, exactly what I wanted. I walked over to the beds, stashing a knife from under my pillow in my pants. My mentor’s voice echoed in my head.
“Always be prepared. The world will work against you, use that as leverage to fight back.”
A sigh left my lips; what a woman.
I shielded my eyes from the bright sun as I stepped on deck. It was already bustling with life. The energy the crew had in the morning always astonished me. The crew just patted my back and told me I’d get used to it. The wind picked up, my hair smacking me in the face. My hair was longer, but I’d cut it shorter before arriving on the Golden Carnage. My beautiful brown locks, and I had to cut it above my shoulder to fit in.
A shout came from the right of me, “Your name’s Runi eh?” I turned my head to the voice. A tall, fit man was walking towards me. His skin was sun-kissed, a nice tan from sailing on the open seas. Cyrus was his name. He was easy on the eyes with his wavy dark brown hair, smirk ever present, and rippling abs always on show. Not to mention he’s a flirt, or so the crew says. Good thing I’m a guy for a bit, I’d rather not deal with that.
“Yea, that’s me. Nice to meet you,” I extended my hand out to him. A smile crept upon his face. He slapped his hand down in mine, before patting my shoulder and pulling me along with him across the deck.
“The name’s Cyrus, but you already know that. I’ll be overseeing you today, so you better have this deck shining like a pearl, Runi,” the tease ever present in his voice. “First you’ll scrub the deck, then mop. After that you’ll go help clean the cabins below deck, then clean the bathrooms; this should usually all be done before midday, so you can eat. After that I’ll teach you how to help man all the sails and tie the knots. Got it? Good, all the supplies are in that closet over there.”
And with a pat to my back, he walked away. This was going to be a very tiresome day.
I wiped the sweat dripping down my forehead, it was so hot. I wish the sun would just take a break, but at least I’m about done cleaning. Then I can go eat and drink some water. I scrubbed at the last corner with newfound energy. Done. Finally!
I jumped up, and went to put the mop away. At the cleaning supply closet stood that same tanned man. Cyrus. At the first meeting it’s difficult to accept that he’s the first mate, the captain’s right hand man. But he uses his flirtiness and playful attitude to hide his real self. In truth, he’s an intelligent man, and he’s built so well because he’s a fighter. His skills in sword combat are almost unmatched. The captain is probably a bit better. They might even rival my true captain, but I doubt anyone could handle that woman. It’s like she’s got the body of a sea serpent with the mind of a siren.
“Hey, Runi!” he jogged over. “Glad to see you’ve finished. You’re a smart boy, learn quick. We like that ‘round here.”
“Of course Cyrus, sir. Thank you,” came my reply.
“Oh, don’t be so bashful. And don’t call me sir, it’s weird,” he pats me on the back again, he seems to do that a lot. “Now let’s go get something to eat.”
He led me down the stairs to the kitchen quarters. Now most pirate ships don’t have a place where you can cook meals, but the smartest have figured it out. Just have to have the common sense not to catch the ship on fire. Most ships have the food all dried and stored, that way it’ll last weeks across the moving waves. Seems the captain and his first mate are more intelligent than me and the girls gave them credit for.
A couple men stood in the kitchen, a giant tray full of cooked fish sat in front of them. Some were cutting them into pieces while others seemed to be trying to scavenge the last of the good vegetables that were edible.
“There ya are, Cyrus!” a rather tall and muscular man shouted. An apron full of food stains adorned his waist. In his hands was a rather big cleaver, but this guy had big hands.
“Ah! Good noon, Richie! This is the new boy, his name’s Runi,” he bumped me with his shoulder, “go on!”
“Uh, hello. The name’s Runi, I just got here about two days ago.”
“Rather skinny, innit he? Kinda short too . . . No matter, soon we’ll have you as big as me!” Chef Richie said, a big booming laugh chasing his words.
Cyrus laughed with him. Well, I thought, It’s cause I’m a girl. Most girls are short and skinny! Now wasn’t the time to be a sensitive damsel. I wasn’t here for that. I was here to study the crew, find the weak spots of Neptune's Wrath. So, with a smile on my face, I laughed along, shrugging my shoulders at them.
Cyrus and Richie talked for a while. They seemed to be good friends. From what I’ve observed so far, the crew is rather close. But, I’ve also noticed a riff between some of the crew. The big members of the crew, the important figures, were all really close. I could tell they’ve been together awhile. The rest of the crew, the small figures, like me and the others who just helped the people in charge, were kind of separated from the big boss men. There was a split, and whether they knew that or not, I was going to exploit it.
“Captain Eden, the letter from Belladonna is here, or should I say Runi?” A laugh escaped the girl's mouth. She was a rather beautiful woman: curly brown hair, innocent brown eyes, and to top it off she was rather short. As innocent as a girl could get, but she was the Captain’s first mate, and not one to be trifled with. Her skills with a gun were unmatched, one of the best sharpshooters on the seven seas.
In her hands was a letter, the paper was rather worn, but the neat handwriting could still be seen. The name Runi was spelled out across the front, and it was addressed to a mother. A mother who didn’t exist, but the captain of the Neptune’s Wrath didn’t know that. It was how Belladonna sent them letters, a code that no one else knew of.
A voice as soft as silk, but with the authority of Queen spoke up, “Oh? She’s got more information already? Alright, give it here, Anastasia.”
“Sure thing, Cap’n Eden!”
The bubbly girl handed it off to her straight faced captain. She also seemed rather short and petite, but the ankle length, dark blue coat covered her figure, hiding the muscles on her arms and legs. A white tunic was tucked into some dark blue trousers. Her feet were covered by black boots. She was rather beautiful, with her dark brown hair and dark green eyes; the scar that stretched from her left eyebrow to the bottom of her nose only seemed to enhance that further.
Eden, or the Captain, took the letter and carefully opened it. Her eyes seemed to fly across the paper. A smart woman, actually all the women on board were rather smart. Rather, they were educated, as Eden helped teach all her crew members to read and write. A smirk slowly stretched across Eden’s face.
“Girls, man the sails! Looks like we’ll be moving soon. Belladonna says they’re heading for the Caribbean islands to restock,” she handed the letter to Anastasia. “I want to be one step ahead of them at all times.”
Belladonna stared out at the open sea, a wanting look in her gaze. She sighed, leaning onto the sides of the boat. It was the third week of her mission to infiltrate Neptune's Wrath, but she missed the other girls. Anastasia with her bubbly attitude and cunning personality, Celia with her take-no-nonsense attitude, and finally her Captain. Her Captain was something else. She was like the older sister figure that Bella had never had. A female figure in her life that she had desperately needed. Eden taught her how to read and write, how to appreciate herself, and most importantly, how to succeed in this man filled world. Her Captain truly was Eden, a human paradise in her own right.
“Hey! Runi!” A figure came up behind her, the familiar wavy brown hair swept across his forehead. “What are you doing by yourself over here? Missing the family?”
Bella sighed. In a way, she was missing her family. The crew on The Savage Sirens was her family, and she desperately wanted to get back to the girls.
“I’ve got to admit, a little, Cyrus. Does that make me weak?”
Over the past three weeks, Bella had been ‘being more open’ with the Captain and Cyrus. Her plan was to convince them she was opening up to the crew, and embracing her new family. They fell for it of course, probably because she made herself seem like a weak little boy.
“Of course not, my friend! Family is all that we have in this world, whether they be blood related or not. You said that you left your mother and brother behind? That can always be difficult, but we all sacrifice something for the sake of freedom.”
Although Bella knew he thought he was giving advice to a young boy missing his family, it resonated within her. Her situation was a bit different with her family though. Belladonna didn’t miss her family one bit. Her father was abusive, and her mother did nothing about it. She was more an acquaintance than a mother. Both of her parents let people walk all over her, using her for their own needs to cook, clean, and provide for them. Then, one day, her parents sold her off to some old man in his fifties. She despised them for it, for throwing her away like an item. When the man began trying his disgusting advantages on her, she fought back! Admittedly, killing him was not the brightest, and she could never go back, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to. And now, the girls on The Savage Sirens were her new family.
“Thanks, Cyrus. You know, you’re a great friend! I’m glad I joined this crew, even if I am a bit more prone to clumsiness than most.”
Cyrus let out a laugh in reply, and Bella found herself smiling too. She felt bad at that moment, to trick such an honest man. But men were men, they would always fall to their innermost revolting urges. It’s why she usually felt no remorse, she had already suffered to the hand of these men. If God wasn’t going to stop that guy back then, then she wasn’t going to let him do anything to stop her now. She lived for her new family now, girls who had gone through similar situations. Hell, the Captain sported a scar across her mesmerizing features because of it.
“Use it to fight back.”
Eden’s words echoed in her head. She would do what she needed to do.
A month had passed since Belladonna had started her mission. Things were beginning to fall into place, and it was only a matter of time now.
Groans filled the ship, the crew on the Neptune’s Wrath didn’t exactly enjoy losing to their Captain in poker for the fifth time in a row. Captain Pluto is what they called him. He was a fit man, standing about six foot, three inches. A sword was at his side at all times, his narrow brown orbs always on the prowl. His skin was tanned and filled with scars that cut across his body like a child’s drawing. He had straight black hair, and sported a stubble. And, rather obnoxiously Bella thought, he always wore a big red hat.
“Now, don’t be salty boys,” the Captain’s deep voice rang out. “It’s only normal that I’m better than all of you.”
Shouts came from the crew at his comment; he just chuckled at them. Bella laughed along with them, they were so bad at poker.
About an hour of messing around went by before the Captain got serious, “Okay, we’ve had our fun, but I have real information to discuss. I know we said we were gonna just make a quick pit stop in the Caribbean islands, but some other ships contacted me. The Golden Dorado hasn’t been seen in a while, last anyone heard they were supposed to be heading North.”
He sighed, dragging a hand across his face, “Captain Jason and his crew just said to keep a lookout, so night shifts are going to have more people, just to keep a better eye out. I don’t fancy putting any holes in my ship, that crew on the Dorado are vicious. Alright, that’s all I had boys. No go do your chores, I need this boat in top shape.”
Muttering came from the crew as they picked up the mess of booze and cards, most likely discussing the recent news of the Golden Dorado. It was the name of a ship. They were known to be ruthless and heartless, just not as bad as Edward Low and whatever crew he commanded. Most, if not all, pirate crews were awful. They pillaged, burned towns, stole, and killed people. Some did it to survive, the Golden Dorado did it because it was fun.
“Cyrus!” Belladonna called out, waving her hand at him as he looked over. “Can I talk to you?”
He jogged on over, “Didja need anything Runi?”
She pretended to be nervous, twisting her hands together, “I’ve heard of those big name pirates and, well, would you perhaps be able to train me on both the pistol and sword? I’ve had some experience with both, but I’m not sure if I’m good enough is all.”
“Of course, Runi! Though, you could have just asked our weapons master, he don’t bite,” Cyrus replied with a chuckle. Belladonna nodded, her short dirty blonde hair fluttering in the wind.
Cyrus took ‘Runi’ down to their weapons area, explaining how their ship had all their weapons there, and as well as giving an explanation on how to use the cannons.
“Well, I think that’s all you need to know. But Runi, I need to ask you a question. You ever killed anybody?”
Bella froze, remembering that man,”Uhm, no, not really. I know I’m going to have to if I’m on a pirate ship though.”
“Good,” Cyrus patted her back,”because pirates aren’t nice people, and we are no different. We kill as we see fit, Runi. So, man up now, or die by another man’s sword.”
Eden pulled her sword from the man's back, his body falling limply over. A look of disgust flashed over her face as she wiped the blood on the still man.
“Are you girls good?”
Anastasia signaled she was good, the various women from the crew heading over to their Captain, having finished off the job.
“Excellent. As long as all the women and kids on the island are safe, there seems to be no issues.”
Celia snorted, her grey eyes cold, “Yea, except for the issue that Captain Jason and his crew are dead. Not our problem though, he should’ve known better than to confront us.” Eden nodded along, the women around her laughing or making jokes.
The Savage Sirens had docked at a small island in the Caribbean, the exact one that Belladonna had claimed the Neptune’s Wrath was headed for as it was the closest to them. Unfortunately, Captain Jason and his crew had seen them arrive, and had gone to confront them. He threatened Eden, yelling about how he wasn’t going to fall for the innocent act. Then, he had made the claim that he knew The Savage Sirens had something to do with the disappearance of the Golden Dorado. After that, Eden hadn’t let them live.
“Such a shame,” Eden smirked. “Well, set up perimeter for when the boys arrive. Evacuate the citizens, and make sure they’re safely hidden away. Bella hinted at the boys needing ‘cool down time’, and you know what that means. Captain Pluto and his crew are known for taking and raping women, then pillaging the town. I intend to make this their last stop.”
Night fell as the silhouette of a pirate ship drifted across the horizon. The silver sheen of the words ‘Neptune’s Wrath’ could be seen far and wide. It was quiet, but the shadows of various figures stood out against the moonlight. Captain Knox and Cyrus were in the Captain’s quarters, discussing their next move,
“Captain, we’re about an hour out from the island. We can pick up most of our food supplies there,” Cyrus poured some beer into two mugs, handing one to his Captain. “Captain Jason’s letter stated he should be arriving around the same time as us as well, but no one aboard has spotted their ship yet. They may already be at the island.”
“Good, we can enjoy ourselves while we’re there. My men need to relax. Maybe, you can find a girl as well, eh?”
Cyrus shifted in his seat, “You know I prefer not to Captain, but I won’t stop you guys.” His face became stone cold, ”But, if I hear of anyone raping women again, I’ll kill them on the spot, whether you approve or not.”
Captain Knox sat up, meeting eyes with Cyrus, “Of course, we killed the last man who was convincing members of my crew to. But, now we have that reputation.” He angrily hit his desk.
“Well, I’ll just use the fear of the civilians against them, force them to hand over whatever we want. Remember Cyrus, we aren’t good people. Quiet acting like one.”
“ . . . Yes sir.”
Shouts from up top startled both of them up. They glanced at each other before running out the door. They were met with the sight of five dead bodies and a shaking Runi holding a sword.
He looked over to them, seemingly in shock, ”He . . . he was throwing our weapons overboard, and he stabbed the Weapons Master. I didn’t know what to do.”
Captain Knox walked over to him, power in his steps. He grabbed the front of his shirt, his teeth barred, “Who?”
Runi shakingly pointed at two other men, one face down, blood gushing from his throat. The other was clutching his side, grasping onto the side of the ship as he tried to stand.
“You lying b*tch! This was all you! Captain, you gotta believe me.”
He was a man in his mid thirties, he arrived about a week before Runi did. He wasn’t the biggest socializer, and Knox and Cyrus didn’t talk to him much.
Cyrus and the Captain turned to each other, a silent conversation. Cyrus nodded before unsheathing his sword and making his way towards the man.
“No! Please, I swear on my life! I would never Captain Knox.”
Their expressions didn’t change as they both moved towards him.
The man sneered, standing up, ”Fine, then I’m taking him with me.”
He moved to jump Runi, but Cyrus was faster. The blade went through the man like butter. His body fell forward onto him, blood splattering across the tan man’s shirt. Cyrus hauled the man to the edge of the boat, tossing him over for the creatures hidden in its depths.
“I’m so sorry Captain,” tears fell from Runi’s eyes as they turned towards him. “He was just so much stronger than me, and he tried to tell the other’s it was me throwing our stuff overboard!”
Captain Knox stepped to him, grasping his shoulder, “Some men aren’t men at all. I reckon he was sent here to infiltrate and sabotage our supplies.” He turned towards the men watching the show down, “Get back to it! I want everything accounted for. Somebody go check on our Weapons Master.”
The men shuffled around, cleaning up the bodies and shoving them into the waters. Cyrus joined Knox and Runi.
“You don’t reckon it was one of the Golden Dorado’s men do ya?” Cyrus questioned.
The Captain seemed to ponder his question, but the shout of land being spotted interrupted him.
“I can’t be certain, Cyrus, but I’m not taking any chances. We dock here for the night and then move on. No messing around, I’m not losing anymore men tonight.”
Belladonna couldn’t believe how naive they were. They knew her for a month and they trust her? Pathetic. No one had seen her stab the Weapons Master through before knocking him out, but that man had seen her throwing their weapons overboard. They were defenseless without them, and it was all a part of Captain Eden’s plans.
Bella couldn’t help but laugh internally. She was such a good actor, even the tears she conjured up were real! All you needed was a bit of salt water in the eyes to make it realistic, and then she looked like a prepubescent boy knocking his knees in fright.
“I can’t be certain, Cyrus, but I’m not taking any chances. We dock here for the night and then move on. No messing around, I’m not losing anymore men tonight.”
She scoffed to herself. They were killing all of them tonight.
The closer the Neptune’s Wrath got to the island, the more the crew began to wonder. The island was quiet and dark, it seemed abandoned. The ship docked, but no one got off, they merely peered into the dark, searching for any life.
“Captain, somethings not right I-”
Screams broke out against the crew as figures dressed all in black attacked them. Within seconds blood was being shed as one by one the men were slaughtered. Cyrus and the Captain immediately began attacking the mysterious figures, but they were overrun. The Neptune’s Wrath didn’t stand a chance.
The figures came from all sides of the boat, crawling up the sides like parasites. The men struggled, but most of their weapons were at the bottom of the sea. Soon it was only Captain Knox and Cyrus left standing back to back, chests heaving as they searched for a way out.
“Captain! Help me!” a voice rang out.
Their heads whipped around to the young boy they had gotten to know. A figure dark as night held a dagger to his throat, as tears streamed down his face.
“Let him go!” screamed the Captain, rage in his voice.
The figures began to chuckle, and that’s when the two men realized they were surrounded by women.
“Now, why would they do that?” the fake horror in Runi’s voice seemed to drop, his expression did as well. He reached up to his shirt and began to undo the buttons. The shirt fell to the floor as a binder was unveiled, revealing the true nature of their fellow crew member.
Captain Knox and Cyrus could only stare, confusion and betrayal across their faces. They had lived with this man, no woman, for a month! They never noticed or suspected anything. They cared for each other! They cared for Runi!
“You backstabbing traitor! Who are you people?!” came the angered shout of Cyrus, his Captain’s face twisted into a snarl.
A shadowed figure stepped forth, their hood pulled back as they met the bright green eyes of a woman. “The name’s Captain Eden,” she spread her arms out to the people around her,” and this is my crew. Meet the Savage Sirens, boys.”
Chuckles and cheers rang out across the shadowed figures as many of them took their hoods off. One figure bounced forward, way too much energy present within her for the stiff air around them.
The excited figure stepped forward, standing beside Captain Eden, giggles left her mouth as she threw the head of a blonde-haired male at the men’s feet.
“Here, your friend Jason can join you two!”
Captain Knox and Cyrus were horrified, their friend that they were supposed to meet, his head lied at their feet.
“We’ll give you two options,” Eden’s voice snapped the men from their stupor, “we take Cyrus and kill Knox, or I let your friend ‘Runi’ slaughter both of you at my feet. What’s your choice?”
To be continued . . .