Chapter 2: The Map says 'Go Here'
Location: Sky Tiger
Timeline: 12 years ago
"All hands on deck!" The order spread through the crew of the Sky Tiger and everyone started to make their way up top.
The young Daenelia Bradley walked with a confidence in her stride, just knowing that this was the day that things would be set right. Captain Dubois would be removed from behind the wheel of the ship, and her Jack Stallion would take his place.
On deck, Daenelia pushed arrogantly through the crowd in order to stand by Jack's side. The first mate was standing with his arms tightly folded and with a neutral expression on his face. Through the open door to the captain's quarters she could see Dubois chatting with the navigator. He was probably waiting for everyone to finish assembling outside before walking out and making whatever speech he had planned.
Daenelia caught the eye of Dieter, the engineer who had been planning the mutiny ever since he and his friends had joined the crew. The scruffy blonde-haired man was squinting at her again. He did this every time he had doubts about Daenelia's trustworthyness. She had sworn to him that Jack was ready and able to take the captain's role, that he and the rest of the crew definitely wouldn't turn on Dieter's gang after they dealt with Dubois.
"Men! Women!" came the came the captain's call, snapping Daenelia to attention. The grey-haired captain strode onto the deck wearing his usual tricorner hat. The crew parted as the captain stepped into the centre of the crowd. This was his trademark way of telling his crew the latest plans, or handing out orders. He believed it showed trust and comradery, he was one of them, even if he was wearing a captain's hat.
As the captain walked passed Dieter, the scruffy man slowly pulled back the hammer of the revolver tucked into his belt. He cocked his head inquisitively at Daenelia. She pulled on Jack's arm to get his attention. "Well?" she whispered into his ear. In return, Daenelia received a wink and a smile, which definitely had nothing to do with the amount of cleavage her blouse was displaying. She turned to Dieter and gave him a nod of approval. Jack was in agreement, now was the time.
The captain spoke. "I know you're expecting to make landfall in two days," he paused as cheers and laughs rose up from the crowd. "But it has come to my attention," and he looked at Jack, "that we can make good time if we pass Seaport to the north and try to catch up with the luxury liner we saw not 5 days ago, heading in the direction of the Old West."
The crew sounded confused. "Captain?" a man asked. The Captain nodded. "Will we not have to take in water at Seaport, and get some shore leave?"
"No." said the Captain with determination. As he turned around, Dieter took one step towards the captain.
Daenelia tensed up and pulled on Jack's arm. "Get ready" she said to him. "For what?" he asked her with genuine confusion. She stared at him with wide eyes. He read the panic on her face.
Dieter held his gun against the side of the captain's head and pulled the trigger.
Jack Stallion's involuntary shout of "NO!" was almost as loud as the gunshot. Two pirates reacted faster than the others and barrelled into Dieter, pulling him away from the captain and knocking the revolver from his hands.
Every pirate on the deck drew his or her weapons, but nobody was quite sure who they should be pointing them at. People were crashing into each other, and some of the crew even dove off the edge of the ship in confusion.
Captain Dubois was dead in Jack's arms, whose face was turning the colour of crimson. The long-haired first mate lowered the body slowly to the floor, ritually drawing the Dubois' sword and placing the grip between the dead man's fingers. "No true pirate should die without his weapon in his hands" he said. His voice sounded like rocks grinding together. The dark-skinned man stood bolt upright, and swung around to look in the direction of Dieter. Daenelia had never seen such a dark expression on her lover's face.
Dieter was clearly in a lot of pain being held so roughly by the two large pirates. The look he was giving Daenelia was full of contempt. How could she have been so ignorant?
Jack Stallion strode across the deck and scooped Dieter's revolver off the floor. Within two strides he was in front of the traitor, and wasted no time shooting him between the eyes. Dieter fell limp in the pirates' arms, and Jack dropped the man's gun to the floor. "Drop this piece of filth off the side of the ship. And as for the rest of you..." he swept around as the two pirates carried out his order. "Who else planned this mutiny? Who else gets to die today?"
"Master Stallion sir..." began the terrified navigator. "Dieter Bauer served aboard the Black Rose before it went down. We picked up the survivors last year and most of them are still on the crew. It's a sure bet they are behind this."
"Very well young mister Farlow." Jack nodded and turned to face the rest of the crew, drawing his vicious looking sword. "You heard the man! Kill them all!" he screamed.
Daenelia was immediately knocked flying by a muscular, bald man barging past her trying to escape. She fell down with the sounds of chaos echoing in her ears. It was one of Dieter's gang, and she watched from her position on the floor as the man was shot several times in the back. He span around as he fell. Daenelia was sure the dead man's wide open eyes were looking at her.
A pair of kitlings crashed into a barrel next to Daenelia and went tumbling head over heels, locked in a fight to the death. Claws and bits of fur were flying, and then blood was spraying. Daenelia looked on horrified at two crewmates, friends, she had assumed, trying to kill each other so violently.
A handful of Dieter's gang were going toe-to-toe with some of the veteran crewmembers. Two of the mutineers broke free from the fight and sprinted towards the hatch leading below decks. But Jack Stallion was waiting for them. He took both of their heads off with a single swing of his blade.
And then everything was quiet.
"That's the last of them sir."
Daenelia's legs weren't working, so she just laid there and watched Jack walking towards her, the blood dripping from his sword. He reached out his hand and plucked Daenelia from the floor as if she weighed nothing. Jack looked deep into Daenelia's eyes and for a moment she believed everything would be okay.
"You told me to get ready. You knew this was going to happen" he spoke without emotion.
Jack backhanded Daenelia across face. The force of the blow sent her to the deck again. She tasted blood. "Jack! Stop!" She held one hand to her mouth and another reached out to block another fist flying her way. But it was a boot which found its way to her ribs. Something cracked. She coughed.
Blood on the deck. She saw it, and knew it was hers, but she could not really grasp what was happening. Two hands pulled her upright, shooting pains up her side, her lungs, her face. Something hard hit her knees and she yelled out. Her leg gave way, pain distant now. Jack grabbed her chin, really gripped hard, her loose teeth being pushed into her tongue, blood from the inside of her cheek almost choking her. She tried to speak.
"Jack... Jack... I thought you loved me..?"
"Loved you? I can barely stand you! You're only good for one thing and that's not steering a ship!"
Jack scooped up Dubois' tricorner hat and placed it atop his own head. "How far away are we from land, mister Farlow?"
"About thirty miles master Sta... Captain Stallion sir!"
"Throw her over the side."
And so they did.