Bird Of The Sea

20 Raise The Black Flag

As the tower exploded, the crew cheered, watching as shards of stone and brick peppered the water.

"We should get closer, Captain." Adé suggested. "Finish the job."

Kenway nodded and brought the Jackdaw into shore, docking her by the war zone.

He leapt off first, the rest of the crew in his wake as they tore up the burning ruins, rubble and flames decorating the scene. The crew engaged in battle, swinging their cutlasses at the opposing force as Kenway hunted down the officer.

Jemima swung her cutlass, growling under her breath with every cut she made. Fighting with the crew was one thing, but this was something new. This was life threatening. These soldiers weren't going to stop just because her father was Edward Thatch. They were going to kill her.

But she fought on with a vicious brutality and cut down all that stood in her way. She took a breath, pausing and looking around her. A figure sprinted across the battle.

Kenway.

"Jack, get down!" He roared, a panicked expression on his face.

She turned to see who he was running for, but the bullet struck her chest just as she spotted the officer. Kenway tackled him to the ground and brought his blade through his neck. Jemima wobbled for a moment, her hand curiously feeling the warm blood trickling down her front. Then, her eyes glazed over and she fell.

"Jack!" Kenway called and hearing the name, Thomas spun around.

"Kenway! What happened!" Thomas shouted pushing aside anyone who stood between them.

"He was shot. Quick, get him to one side while I finish off these bastards."

Thomas gathered her up in his arms and rushed to a secluded area, hid from the battle.

"Jack, Jack!" He called, setting her down gently. "Listen to me! Hold on!"

Thomas pulled off his shirt, tearing strips from it for makeshift bandages. His hands shook as he neared the blood, but as he undid her shirt, he stopped.

"Thomas...?" Jemima weakly murmured as she opened her eyes to see him sitting beside her.

"You're... A woman..." He muttered.

The fabric straps that held usually her chest were torn and fell loose, revealing the anatomy that was uncommon among men. Jemima raised her head to see the wound, the bloody straps uncovering what she had hid for so long. With strained effort, she lifted her arm to remove her hat. Placing it beside her, she untied the bandana around her head and let her hair down.

"Aye." She whispered. "I'm a woman."

"What's your name, if it's not Jack?"

"Jemima."

Thomas took a moment to recover then shook his head. He lifted her back up, gently as she groaned with the movement.

"Do you, er, do you mind..." He asked tentatively, moving to take off her shirt.

"If it means I don't bleed to death, then no, I don't mind." She said abruptly.

He carefully pulled her shirt off and unravelled the remaining chest straps. He supported her back by sitting behind her as he snatched up his makeshift bandages and wrapped them around her wound.

"Thank you." She whispered as he tied the last bandage.

"It's fine. I would have done it for anyone. And besides," he said with a faint smile, "your father would kill me if I let you die."

He pulled her up to her feet and helped to dress her. He tied her hair up and placed the hat back on her head.

"I won't tell anyone, don't worry." Thomas smiled as he helped her limp back out into the opening.

"Hey! You!" Thomas called at one of the Jackdaw's crew. "Help Jack! Take him back to the ship and wait there for me!"

"Aye!" The sailor nodded, took Jemima's weight and carried her away from the fight.

Before she vanished from sight, Jemima looked back over her shoulder and gave Thomas a weak smile. As she turned back, a weight smacked into him. He recognised her.

The mermaid by the waterfall.

It was her.

"Thomas!'

He snapped back to reality as he heard Adé call his name.

"Edward's heading for Torres! Come on!"

The clash of blades, the boom of gun fire and the crackle of flames couldn't drown out the dying breath of the fort's officer and as he fell, his soldiers fell to their knees in surrender. Kenway bolted to the war room, the crew in his wake as he pushed open the door, smiling wickedly to Torres who sat timidily behind his desk.

"Well, hello, your Excellency." Kenway greeted as the guards either side of the governor drew their swords. "I'd got word you might be here."

"I know your face, pirate." He replied. "But your name was borrowed the last time we spoke."

"Ah, yes, I recall... Mister Duncan Walpole, I miss that one. So... What's a Templar Grand Master doing so far from his Castillo?" He mused, running his fingers along the desk, knocking gold coins to the floor.

"I'd rather not say."

"And I'd rather not cut your lips off and feed 'em to you."

Torres sat back.

"Two years ago we offered a reward for the Sage's recapture." He told the pirate. "Today someone claims to have found him. This gold is his ransom."

"Who found him?" Kenway demanded.

Torres said nothing and Adé and Thomas stepped forward, one with his hand on his sword, the other raising his wrist blade. The guards made a move to draw their weapons as well but Torres signalled for them to stop, as did Kenway.

"A slaver by the name of Laurens Prins. He lives in Kingston."

Kenway smiled.

"We like this story, Torres. And we want to help you finish it." He sat down on the desk and snatched up a cup and teapot, pouring himself a drink. "But we're going to do it our way. Using you and your gold."

The pirate grinned, a wicked sparkle in his eyes as he sipped tea mockingly and placed it back down.

"Would love to stay, but places to go, people to see, you know?" He said and shepherded the crew out of the war room, closing the door behind him.

"We can't let the slaver sell the Sage to the Templars!" Thomas exclaimed.

"Relax, lad." Kenway patted his shoulder. "We won't."

Kenway left him, jogging away further into the maze of the fort. Suddenly, with a cheer, Thomas looked up to see the Spanish flag disappear and replaced by the pirate's own black flag. He smiled. Maybe it was going to take more than assassins to take down the Templars. Maybe, it was going to take pirates.

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