3 - Pirate Academy
“Wait here, I think I’d better do this alone.” Connor said, kissing Kaiya once before he left to enter the large academy doors.
He paused before opening them, knowing that despite the fact that he now had the beginnings of a curly brown beard, he looked no different than he had when he’d died seven years ago, and that this fact would attract the attention of anyone who may be wandering the halls of the academy.
Taking in a breath, he pushed open the doors and walked inside, walking with a purpose with one hand on the hilt of the sword he’d had since he first became a pirate, given to him by Cutlass Cate Morgan – more commonly known as Cate – who was, in fact, his old teacher. He was amazed at all the memories that were now flooding back to him.
As he walked into the center of the rotunda of the academy, he looked up at the hundreds and hundreds of swords hanging from the ceiling. The first time he’d looked up at these beautiful pieces of metal he’d had a vision of himself, dying as a captain. He had no vision this time and took it as a good sign.
As he walked through the familiar halls he had a sense of peace and purpose. He was just starting to relax when he walked down a hallway with classrooms, and saw teachers – most of whom he knew – stopping their classes to come into the hall and stare at him. He heard whispers among teachers he knew – Captain Quivers, Captain Salamos – all his old teachers from the few weeks he’d spent studying at the academy.
“Just a doppelganger.” He heard Captain Salamos say to Lizabeth Quivers.
“He has the same sword as the boy did!” He heard Captain Quivers answer, but he walked on, faster now, before he could hear any more replies.
As he turned the corner he felt a tug near the bottom of his coat. He turned and looked down. Staring up at him in awe was a child no more than eight years old.
“Can I help you?” Connor asked, not loving the attention.
“The stories said you died, seven years ago a week ago.” The little boy said in wonder. Connor knelt down to the boy’s level and whispered in his ear.
“Sometimes, death isn’t the end.” Connor stood back up and looked along the crowd at the faces of legendary captains and awe-struck seven and eight year olds. He turned on his heel and continued walking, faster than ever.
He was somewhat relieved when he walked through a corridor of older students, the sixteen and seventeen year old students who he’d known from his short time at the academy.
He saw Captain Platonov’s eyes widen at the sight of him, and thought she might faint. One of the girls in the class – he couldn’t remember her name but he recognized her from one of the classes he’d sat in on the first time he was here.
“Yes?” He asked her.
“I remember you. I think I was probably nine years old. You taught me how to tie a proper rigging knot when you sat in on my knot class with Captain Quivers. You died. Everybody saw the sword go through your heart. And those who didn’t heard about it from everyone who did. If you’re not a ghost, let me touch you. You were the reason I stayed in this school and decided to aim for captain.” The girl said, reaching out her hand. Connor didn’t move. When her hand make contact with his shoulder she gasped, relieved, and sank to the floor. “Thank you.” She said and a few tears fell down her cheeks. Connor nodded and continued on through the school and ultimately to Captain Grammont’s office – the headmaster.
When he finally got to the doors of the headmaster’s office he had the sudden urge to turn around and leave, forget everything that had happened since he’d entered the academy and go back to being dead. He looked out the window over-looking the harbor and saw Kaiya waiting at the tree-bench for him, reading a picture book to a young boy, probably one of the youngest in the school. He took a deep breath and knocked on Captain Grammont’s door.
“Come in.” Came the reply.
Connor pushed open the door and stepped inside. He said nothing and waited for the old captain to say something first.
Looking around he noticed that they were not alone in the office, the door to the adjoining bathroom was closed and there was definitely a light on inside. He heard the toilet flush and a tap turn on.
“What do you want?” Captain Grammont asked, before whoever was in the bathroom could come out. The bathroom door opened revealing Commodore Black, almost at the same exact time as Captain Grammont finally looked up.
Both of the men before him stood in shock, as if they were looking at a ghost. Captain Grammont dropped his fountain pen and stood up with mock terror as he asked, “Are you a vampirate then?”
“Nothing so fancy.” Connor laughed a little.
“How on oceans are you standing here then?” Commodore Black seemed to regain his composure as he said this.
“It’s a long story, perhaps you’d both like to sit down. Maybe we could have some tea, or better some rum.” Connor said, trying to lighten the mood. Neither of the men made to sit down or find some beverages.
“I think I’d prefer to stand, thank you.” Commodore Black said icily, “Easier to defend myself if you turn out not to be on our side.”
“And your sword, if you please.” Captain Grammont said.
“Well I don’t please. I came back to explain why and how I faked my death, and to discuss my return. And I would prefer to do that with my sword by my side.” Connor answered. There was a chill in the air that had not been caused by the open window or the cold weather. Neither Commodore Black nor Captain Grammont trusted this man, they didn’t like his story. And Connor was worried that their understandable mistrust would lead them to attack him.
“If you don’t lay down your sword, we will have no choice but to question you under lock and key, in the presence of as many captains as can join us.” Commodore Black told him, sure that this would be the winning argument.
“Please do summon the other captains. And Lorcan Furey and my sister, and Obsidian Darke. I should like them all to hear my story as well. And it would of course be much easier than having to explain it to everyone separately.” Connor said, knowing that Commodore Black would have no choice but to oblige to his request.
“Very well.” Commodore Black answered, obviously upset that he had been tricked into offering exactly what Connor wanted.
“I’ll be downstairs, should we call the meeting in room number thirteen?” Connor asked.
“Of course.” Captain Grammont answered.
“Then I shall be there, waiting.” Connor said. He turned on his heel to leave the office.
“You’ll understand of course, that we would like to have you escorted to room number thirteen.” Commodore Black said.
“Of course.” Connor said, leaving the office.
He went straight out to the tree-bench, where he knew he and Kaiya could be seen from the headmaster’s office, but he didn’t know what would happen. The only captain he thought would fully understand would have been Cheng Li, or even Molucco Wrathe, but they had both died during the war, and Connor couldn’t help but fear what might happen. He knew he could count on Grace, Lorcan and Obsidian to take his side, but there were no guarantees with the rest of them.
“Kaiya.” He smiled and hugged her as she rushed towards him.
“How did it go?” She asked, pulling him onto the bench beside her.
“It didn’t. We have a meeting in a little while. That’s why I don’t want to sit here. I’m scared, Kaiya. My biggest allies in this world are all dead, and the rest of them didn’t really like me all that much. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I know one thing. I love you, and I don’t know why because we just met, but whatever happens I don’t want to lose you. So, Kaiya Nilson of southern Sweden, will you do me the incredible honor of becoming my wife?” Connor pulled a ring out of a coat pocket as he finished his speech. Kaiya gasped at the question. The ring was not what she was used to, coming from a rich background she was used to expensive, exquisitely carved jewels and diamonds, but she didn’t care at the moment. All she really cared about for now was that a wonderful man was handing her a beautiful ring, despite its simplicity. It was a simple silver band with one tiny diamond on it, but it was beautiful, and she assumed that pirates wouldn’t be wearing anything fancier anyway.
“Yes!” She nodded, tears falling down her face as she grinned. Connor put the ring on the third finger of her left hand, and kissed her. “I love you.” She whispered in his ear.
“I love you too.” He said, savouring her deliciousness.
“Now what?” She asked.
“Now we go wait in room number thirteen.” Connor answered, grabbing her hand.
“Is that a dorm?” Kaiya asked, following him back to the doors of the academy.
“Not exactly. It’s a high security vault underneath the academy. They use it to hide in when there’s an attack or for important meetings.” Connor answered, opening the doors again. He saw his escort already standing on the elevator.
“Captain Platonov.” Connor nodded at the captain sent to escort him into the vault.
“Hello.” The captain nodded and the elevator began its descent.
“Come on.” Connor said, jumping onto the platform and helping Kaiya to join him.
“Who’s the woman?” Captain Platonov asked, looking skeptical.
“My fiancé, Kaiya Nilson.” Connor answered, trying to read Patel Platonov’s face.
“She’s very pretty.” Captain Platonov said, her face twitching just a little.
“I understand your mistrust right now, Captain. But I am Connor Tempest.” Connor took a step towards Captain Platonov as he said this.
“I was there when you died. There was absolutely no way you could’ve survived that. Unless you were turned. Is that what happened? Did Lola get to you? Some kind of revenge on us for killing Sidorio? Did she send you here today? With another one of her minions? Get as many of us together as you can and massacre us all while we don’t have an easy escape? Was that the plan?” Captain Platonov finished just as the platform clicked into its final resting spot underneath to school.
“I’m not a vampirate, in fact I was gone so I could stop being a half of one!” Connor said. Captain Platonov remained unconvinced. “I don’t even have fangs!” Connor said, showing as many of his teeth as he could. Captain Platonov blinked and seemed to do a double take.
“What about her?” Captain Platonov asked, nodding towards Kaiya.
“I’m Swedish. I’ve never met a pirate before Connor and the only vampire I’ve ever met was my dead dad but here.” She obediently showed all her teeth, revealing no fangs.
“We should get to room number thirteen.” Captain Platonov walked quickly down the hallway towards room number thirteen.
Connor and Kaiya followed behind her in silence.
When they were at the door to room number thirteen they heard Commodore Black’s voice on the platform, “The earliest any of the captains can be here is tomorrow around lunch. And then we’ll still have to wait until nightfall if you really want the Nocturnals to be here.”
“So can I get a room until then? So that I don’t have to sleep on a chair in room thirteen?” Connor asked.
“There are three bunks in room six. I suggest you make use of them.” Commodore Black answered. He beckoned Captain Platonov to join him and they made their ascent.
“Don’t we at least get supper?” Connor yelled after them. “At least don’t bring her into this!” He said, gesturing to Kaiya. “Dammit!” Connor said, turning and punching one of the stone walls, breaking open his knuckles. “Dammit!” He said again, cupping his right hand into his coat.
“What happened?” Kaiya asked, rushing over to him. He showed her his hand.
“I haven’t really punched any walls in general, but the last time I did I had super strength and my knuckles didn’t break open.” Connor answered, obviously frustrated.
“It’s okay. Just relax. It’ll be fine.” Kaiya said, rubbing his arm and kissing his knuckle.
“Kaiya, I used to know these people. I fought alongside them. I mean I wasn’t exactly hoping for cookies and milk and tea by the fire and forgetting that seven years have gone by, but I was at least hoping they’d be a little bit pleased to find out that I’m alive!” Connor said, ripping a piece of his sleeve off and wrapping his fist.
“It’ll be okay, I promise. Whatever happens-”
“Connor!” Kaiya was cut off by Grace’s voice across the tunnel.
“Grace!” Connor ran towards her and went in for a hug before stopping abruptly, asking, “You’re here on an astral visit, aren’t you?”
“Yes. But I couldn’t wait until tomorrow night to see you! It’s been seven years! There’s so much catching up we have to-” Grace stopped short when she saw Kaiya standing there looking at them. “Who’s this?” Grace asked, smiling at her.
“Grace, I’d like you to meet Kaiya Nilson. She’s my fiancé.” Connor smiled, taking Kaiya’s hand and pulling her closer.
“It’s so nice to meet you! I’m so happy Connor finally found someone to make him happy! You’re very lucky. Connor’s amazing.” Grace said, “I wish I could shake your hand, or hug you!”
“It’s nice to meet you too. Connor’s told me so much about you. You two seem close.” Kaiya tried to smile, but she faltered a couple of times, and Grace noticed.
“Uh, look I have to go. Connor’s um – another Connor, my son actually. Well anyway he’s only six, well he’s just turned seven – on our birthday, actually - but he’s been acting up lately and now he’s destroying his room trying to decide what to wear to meet you tomorrow night. Anyway I’ll see you tomorrow Connor. I’m glad you’re back.” Grace smiled and put her hand up to Connor’s cheek before fading away.
“You seem markedly happier than you were before your sister showed up.” Kaiya said pointedly. Connor entirely missed the faint sound of hurt in her voice.
“Yes. I’ve missed my sister. She’s one of the most important people in my life.” Connor spoke with a smile. “Come on. The sooner we get to bed the sooner Grace will get here and we can get out of this nightmare.” He walked towards room six and dropped onto the closest bunk. He closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep, which he managed after a few minutes.“I know you’ve missed her, but isn’t she the same thing that you were gone for seven years to try to stop being?” Kaiya whispered, kissing Connor’s forehead and laying down next to him. She realized then that it was the first time they’d slept together, without sleeping together.
“Connor,” Grace whispered in his ear, trying to wake him up without waking Kaiya up. “Connor!” Grace whispered a little louder. She remembered that this never did work, even when they were children. She stood up and said, in a very childish voice, “Dad said that if you don’t get out of bed right now you’re not going to go see the game!” Connor jerked upright immediately and turned to look at her.
“You really here this time?” He asked when he saw his sister.
“You must have been really tired yesterday. It’ll be dark in a few hours.” She said, throwing things out of the small trunk he had under the bed. “Where is it?” She asked, turning the trunk over and letting all its contents fall to the floor. “Connor I told you to keep it safe! Where is my book?”
“Relax. I don’t keep it in that thing. I got it off some pawn store owner. I wouldn’t keep something that important in a trunk. I keep it on me at all times.” He pulled the book out from a hidden pocket in the back of his coat, on the inside.
“I thought that coat looked a little big for you.” Grace smiled, taking the book back as if it had been torture for her to be apart from it.
“Missed the book did you?” Connor asked, jokingly.
“Not until our birthday.” Grace answered, putting the book in her satchel. At this point Connor got up and gave his sister a much-anticipated hug.
“Happy birthday, by the way.” Connor said.
“I stopped aging five years ago Connor.” Grace answered, stepping away from Connor and smiling at him. “I never thought you’d ever grow a beard.” She said, rubbing his curly, rugged, brown beard.
“Neither did I. But someone decided that the only thing I owned that was worth stealing would be my shaver. Besides, I kind of like it. And so does Kaiya.” Connor answered, rubbing it himself.
“You grew a beard because someone stole your shaver? When he could have tried for your sword or boots, or book?” Grace asked.
“More or less.” Connor answered. Grace shook her head and rolled her eyes. There was silence for a few seconds before they heard the click of the platform. Connor left the room to see who it was.
“Jacoby!” Connor said, smiling, forgetting that even though Jacoby Blunt was now technically a Nocturnal he was still part of the crew of the Tiger.
“Connor.” It was not Jacoby who answered, but Jasmine Peacock. “You know, when they told us they were summoning us for a meeting about you I figured, ‘why would they do that, he’s dead.’ Then of course I was told that you were apparently still alive and I couldn’t say no.” She didn’t smile, she just stood with her arms crossed on her chest, staring at him. He noticed that she was wearing Cheng Li’s captain’s hat and figured this would be a safer choice of conversation than following what she had said.
“So I see they made you captain after Cheng Li’s death.” Connor said, nodding towards her hat.
“They would’ve asked Jacoby, but the fact that he can’t go out in the sun ruins his chance of ever being a captain now.” Jasmine said icily.
“Grace! It’s good to see you again.” Jacoby said, smiling when Grace finally came out of room six.
“You too Jacoby.” Grace smiled, giving him a hug.
“Hello, Grace.” Jasmine said, a hint of a smile playing at her lips.
“Jasmine. How are you making out as captain?” Grace asked, shaking Jasmine’s hand. Connor thought it was odd that they were still friends.
“About as well as can be expected, considering my deputy has to stay indoors during the day.” Jasmine answered, with more laughter in her voice then malcontent.
“How did you get into the academy in broad daylight?” Grace asked, looking again at Jacoby.
“Black tarps go a long way if you’re sprinting towards a dark underground vault.” Jacoby laughed, holding up a black piece of material which Grace had previously thought was a coat.
“So you just ran to the academy?” Grace asked.
“Couldn’t wait to see you.” Jacoby said jokingly, flashing his perfect smile, which Grace thought had only improved since he’d added fangs to the perfect picture.
“I see. And don’t you already have a beautiful girl you get to see all the time?” Grace laughed.
“A guy can never have too many beautiful girls in his life.” Jacoby smiled again.
“And a girl can never have too many handsome men in her life.” Jacoby, Jasmine, Grace and Connor all looked towards the platform again as they heard the voice of Trophie Wrathe, Barbarro Wrathe’s beautiful wife.
“Hello Connor.” Barbarro nodded at Connor.
“Hello Barbarro. Trophie.” Connor nodded at each of them in turn. Things stayed quiet for a while until Connor went back into room six to check on Kaiya. He heard the others start talking once he was gone.
The chatter started out friendly enough, “hello’s,” and “how are you’s,” but with pirate’s who hadn’t seen each other in years all in the same place to discuss the fate of someone they had once considered friend, lover, brother – in more than just Grace’s case – things got heated quickly.
“So how many of you knew – about Connor, I mean?” Jasmine whispered. Everybody shrugged, except Grace.
“You knew?” They all seemed thoroughly offended, but it was Jacoby who spoke. “You knew that he was alive and you never told us?” Jacoby sounded more hurt than even Lorcan had.
“I couldn’t tell you. He’ll explain better than I will, but it wasn’t my secret to share, and I couldn’t risk letting anyone go looking for him.” Grace explained, keeping her voice down.
“You should have told someone.” Barbarro barked.
“I told you I couldn’t.” Grace countered.
“That shouldn’t have stopped you.” Trophie said, with a wave of her golden hand.
“And if I had and you’d organized a search party and screwed things up for him?” Grace pushed back.
“If you’d explained we wouldn’t have!” Jasmine said, raising her voice, sounding more angry than hurt.
“You would have and you know it. No matter how much explaining I’d done. It was better to keep the secret.” Grace said.
“It would have made the past seven years a lot easier.” Jacoby pressed on.
“How so? You think it wasn’t hard for me? Knowing that my brother was out there and I wasn’t allowed to see him or tell anyone that he was alive?” Grace demanded, forgetting to keep her voice low.
“At least you knew he was alive, and that he would come back.” Jasmine said, with an icy tint in her voice.
“Let’s not get too angry, Grace thought she was doing the right thing.” Jacoby said, pushing Jasmine’s long hair off her face, revealing a scar across her left cheek.
“I’m not angry, Jacoby. I’m furious. There is no excuse to keep from everyone a secret like this.” Jasmine answered, turning her hard eyes on Jacoby.
“Jasmine, if I could have told you I would have.” Grace said, before taking her leave.
“Where are you going?” Trophie demanded after her.
“To check on my son.” Grace answered.“She has a son?” Jacoby asked. Everyone in the room looked just as shocked as he was. Connor, on the other hand – who had been listening in on the whole conversation – was pleased that he knew all about Grace’s son.