Mission: Chapter 9: Steam City
The black kitling was prowling the courtyard at the back of the dormitory. "Why am I even here...," she muttered under her breath. The crew had been mostly ignoring her, thinking her as a sort of extension of Blazingtail and equally useless to them. She had tried to run away, which was easier than she thought. She walked out of the dormitory and into the town. No one had tried to stop her. She felt free and exhilarated. But after two hours of walking around a town that was spiraling into crisis, she found that it was better to return to the pirates. At least Blazingtail would provide her with a meal. And there were plenty of warm places to sleep in the dormitory.
The captain had been looking at Catscratch for a while, from her window. She had been thrilled to hire yet another kitling as lookout. Even if, as McGinty kept pointing out, there was no ship. In her mind, Daenelia was still sailing the skies. It kept her from getting jittery. The town and the recent events had made her want to run away screaming, with her guns blazing.
But the kitling's constant pacing was irritating. She had to give her something to do, she realised. Daenelia looked at the floor. Maybe she should have found good homes for them, she mused. The kitlings really were not suited to this life. She shrugged, as she realised that the pirate lifestyle was not really suited for many of her crew.
"You!" Catscratch jumped when she heard the stern voice behind her. The captain was standing right behind her and looked angry.
"Yes?" Catscratch did her best to sound indifferent.
"You look like you're not doing anything, so...," Daenelia began her command.
"Actually, I am doing something," Catscratch said. She had to think fast. What was the captain obsessing about? The treasure!
Daenelia was taken aback by the kitling's response. "Oh?" was all she managed to say.
"Yes. I was thinking," Catscratch' mind raced. "Quazlatah. Don't the stories say it's in the south?"
Daenelia narrowed her eyes. "Why do you ask?"
"I dunno," the kitling said. "I just heard... stories. Everyone talks about the treasure." That was not exactly true. Only Dottie had been talking about the treasure, when Catscratch was trying to find out what kind of group she had been forced to join. Pirates. She didn't want to be a pirate.
Daenelia nodded. "Stories. You like stories?" Catscratch nodded timidly.
"Then listen." The Captain got down on one knee so she was face to face with the kitling. "There is a treasure. Blue Barry, the pirate king, lived more than 100 years ago and he found lots of treasure. He collected so much gold, jewels, coins, valuable things, that his ship was sinking into the sea when he came ashore to bury it. There were no sky ships then, not for pirates."
Catscratch blinked at the word 'pirates'.
"Blue Barry was a pirate king. He ruled the seas, and all the pirates listened to him. But when sky ships started to fly, he was left behind. His grandson, also called Barry took his grandfather's map and treasure and stole it from him, and from his brother Peter. Barry the younger was the one who found Quazlatah, a cave with fabled treasures, and added his own to it."
Daenelia shifted on her knee. "Now, a few years later, the stories of Blue Barry's treasure made the sky captains think, they should have part of the treasure. So they put their case to Barry the younger. They expected him to be harsh but fair, like his grandfather. Instead, he had all the old captains executed!" Daenelia made a slashing movement with her hand across her throat.
"There were some captains who had picked Barry's side, knowing his ways. My first captain, Dubois, was one of them. He stood by Blue Barry the younger, who was by then getting older, but was still a force to be reckoned with."
Daenelia grinned at the memory of Dubois. She'd once been in awe of him, until she saw how old and useless he had become. But the stories she had been told had created an image of Dubois and Blue Barry the Younger as strong men, with authority and cunning. "There was a war, a great, big pirate war. On one side the men who sided with Barry, on the other the upstart pirates, young and rash. They were certain they could beat Barry and were ready to split the spoils between them."
The Captain's mouth tightened as she recounted the events of the war. "The Brittish Navy took advantage of it, of course. They picked pirate ships out the sky after long battles. There were often no survivors. If there were, they'd betray each other so as not to have to split the loot. In the end the Great Pirate Wars destroyed all major pirate fleets in sky. What was left, were single pirate ships, with pirate captains who trusted no one. No more fleets, not more grand schemes, with many pirates banding together to pick off full merchant ships."
Catscratch pulled back but couldn't stop Daenelia from patting her shoulder. "There's just us and a couple of pirate ships out there now. We're a dying breed," she sighed melodramatically.
"And the treasure?" Catscratch asked.
"Ah," Daenelia said as she straightened up. "It's out there. The pirates never claimed it. Until now. I will claim it. And then,... we'll be the last. We'll split the loot and go our separate ways. Live a quiet life, in luxury."
The kitling scratched behind her ear to hide her expression. She doubted the stories, she doubted the treasure existed. And she did not want to be the last pirate; she wanted to be on the other side of the law. She said: "If you say so, Captain."
"I do say so," Daenelia said and ended the conversation by walking away.