Shipless and Sober
The salty spray of the sea cooled Anamaria's face as she made her way down the ship's ramp to shore. The frantic calls of excited seagulls welcomed her to every pirate's favorite port. Some buccaneers relished the thrill of a fight, while others cared only for the gold that awaited at the end of each adventure; but for Anamaria, the sole reason for turning pirate—for living—was to feel the wind on her back and hear the call of the gulls, as she gripped the helm of a ship, her ship, sailing to wherever the wind might take her.
Unfortunately, she'd need a ship for that. Or at least a boat.
She bid a quick farewell to the captain of the Portuguese pirates she'd bought passage with, and then continued down the crumbling road, tucking her long damp locks into her hat.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, Anamaria supposed she should be grateful to that drunken imbecile Jack Sparrow, for offering her one adventure after the next. After all, this was why she had pursued a life of sailing—for freedom, adventure, and the unpredictable. But Jack Sparrow had become all too predictable. And now he was going to pay. Again.
She swaggered into Tortuga, shipless and sober, in the male disguise she and most other female pirates donned when on land. Her attire had changed significantly since serving aboard the Black Pearl; she now hid her female form beneath a battered frock coat, her black hair bound up under a triangular hat. She relished the feeling of the pistol swinging on her hip under the coat, and Anamaria would savor her chance to use it against that bilge rat Jack.
But before she could begin tracking him, she would need information, and she knew where to get it. Jack Sparrow had upset more women around the world than any man could count, but on the island of Tortuga, two above all were known for harboring a special contempt for the infamous pirate. Anamaria normally had some amount of disdain for women of their profession; after all, she'd become a pirate in part to avoid that degrading role. But she had to tip her had to Scarlett and Giselle, for their enthusiasm in putting Jack, along with men in general, in their place.
She found the two whores socializing outside their usual brothel. Putting on her most masculine voice, Anamaria called to the blonde and the redhead, "I'm looking for Jack Sparrow."
Giselle's face brightened. "Anamaria, darling! It's been ages!"
"How long?" Scarlett asked.
"Not long enough," Anamaria said, dropping her male act. "That bastard cheated me again. Where is he?"
"Down at the Admiral Benbow." Giselle didn't even need to ask what "bastard" Anamaria was referring to. "Hiring hands for a crew, they say."
"Would you like us to hit him for you?" Scarlett offered.
"Thanks," Anamaria said. "I've got this handled." She patted the flintlock pistol tucked into her belt, and moved on down the street.
The inn, like most, was dimly lit and crowded with scum. Reasserting her male persona, she asked the bartender about Jack Sparrow, and was directed to a group of musicians in the corner, playing an English sailing tune. She strode through the unruly crowd and stopped in front of the lead musician, a young doughy Englishman with thin locks hanging around his face. He paused strumming his instrument to gaze up at her through small, squinty eyes.
In her best male voice, she said, "I'm looking to join Jack Sparrow's crew."
The man stared at her, and then his gaze moved up towards a crowded overhead balcony. "Oy, Captain!" he shouted. "New hire! It's another one of them lasses-dressed-as-lads types!"
Anamaria felt her jaw tighten, and she looked away whit irritated embarrassment. Well, she was a sailor, not an actress.
Her eyes wandered up to the balcony, where residents spending the night lingered outside their rooms. Surely enough, there was Jack, peering down at her from a crowd of drunken pirates. He hadn't changed his hair or attire since she'd last seen him, two or more years ago. She was hardly surprised. Jack lingered long enough for Anamaria to lock eyes with him. He gave her a graceful two-fingered salute, and vanished into the crowd. It was as if he hadn't even recognized her. Like he were just welcoming another new shipmate aboard.
Her adrenaline surging, Anamaria bounded up the stairs.
"Hey," the Brit called after her, "You need to buy yourself a room before goin' up there!"
Anamaria shoved her way past disgruntled pirates and wenches, until she found Jack's jingling back. Something about his locks seemed different; maybe he'd changed something in his style after all. Jack's pace quickened and Anamaria matched it, drawing her pistol. He slipped into a room, pulling the door shut just a moment too late, the lock clanging against the barrel of Anamaria's gun. With her pistol she shoved the door back opened and forced her way in, stomping into the room as the door slammed shut behind her. Jack simply stood there, frozen in his famous swagger, framed by the room's opened window. Across the street, an identical window in an identical building displayed a group of pirates swaying their flasks to some French tune, oblivious to the violence that was about to go down next door.
"Jack Sparrow!" Anamaria spat, in her natural voice.
She yanked off her hat, allowing her black locks to tumble to her shoulders. Jack's petrified eyes were much larger than she remembered. And the rest of him seemed smaller. Perhaps it was simply the raging confidence that flowed through Anamaria like a hurricane, now. When Jack finally spoke, barely above a whisper, even his voice seemed weaker and more slurred than she remembered.
"I've upset my unfair share of women Luv, you'll have to refresh my memory."
Anamaria stopped with her face inches from Jack's. "You stole my boat! And sank it!"
"And the boat you got me to replace it exploded!"
Jack cocked his head, almost as if this was news to him. As if he hadn't been there.
"And the boat you got me after that was marked by the Spanish law, in connection to you!" she pointed accusingly, her finger centimeters from his bulging eyes. "I was almost sold back into slavery because of you, you sod!"
Jack's finger came up, as if to parry hers. "Now, now just a moment," he floundered.
Drunker and weaker, he also almost sounded feminine. Perhaps he'd become a eunuch somewhere along the away.
"Then," Anamaria hissed, "I finally find myself captaining a decent ship, with a decent crew, what happens next? Why the whole bloody thing gets swallowed up, by an unidentifiable animal that for all the world looks like the legendary Davey Jones' kraken!"
"And what man do all the rumors credit for upsetting Davey Jones enough to unleash his 'terrible beastie' onto the Caribbean? Why, Jack Sparrow!"
The other pirate muttered, "I think he would prefer Captain Jack Sparrow."
"I don't care what that drunken—" Anamaria froze. "'He?'"
"Jack's" eyes bulged, realizing his mistake. Anamaria seized the impostor's hat and tore it off. A mane of dark brunette hair, far more feminine and luxurious than Giselle's and Scarlett's put together, tumbled around a face that was clearly not Jack's. Anamaria could only stare as the woman peeled off her mock facial hair.
"So," the other woman's accent was thick and Spanish. "Yet another woman who has been used by the infamous Jack Sparrow."
"Who are you?" Anamaria demanded, lowering her pistol.
"That does not concern you."
"You're protecting Jack," Anamaria accused.
"Hardly," the Spanish woman said darkly. "I've waited far too long for my revenge on that dog. He destroyed my marriage to the Lord."
Anamaria felt her face relax along with her temperament. "You were a nun."
"I was ready to take my vows. You asked my name. It's Angelica. So named because my mother hoped to raise me in the ways of God, not to be like my father. I'll not tell you who he is, as you wouldn't believe me anyway."
"Likely not," Anamaria said dryly.
"So Jack betrayed you too then," Angelica straightened, began to turn away. "I'll send him your regards, when I catch him up."
"You're not going to catch him up," Anamaria said forcefully, "because I'll have killed him already."
Angelica laughed. "It seems you haven't had the best of luck out-clevering Jack Sparrow. But if you think you can get past me," she turned back to face Anamaria, and with a metallic swish, drew her sword, "I do need practice."
Without any change in expression, Anamaria drew her pistol.
Angelica's black eyes fell to the gun. "A pirate who fears a sword fight is hardly a pirate."
"I didn't become a pirate to be a pirate. I became a pirate so I could have a boat."
"So get yourself a boat," Angelica said simply.
Anamaria felt her eye twitch slightly. "I suppose you think I'll show mercy, because you're a fellow woman." She cracked her gun. "I didn't hesitate to suggest throwing that spoiled governor's daughter back to the ghost pirates. And I won't hesitate to shoot a Conquistador, whatever her sex."
Angelica's face changed. "You think I see myself above you, because you're Mulatto?" she almost sounded offended. "I was taught that all are equal in the eyes of the Lord. But if you think you can stop me by waving this silly pistol in my face, then go ahead and shoot."
"Don't think I won't!"
"Don't think I don't think you won't!"
Something must've shown in Anamaria's face, or maybe the movement of her hand, because the moment her finger closed on the trigger, Angelica's sword parried the gun's barrel, sending the shot into the floor. Cries of terror and annoyance could be heard from below, where the bullet had probably caused a leak in someone's bottle of rum, or perhaps found a home in some unlucky scallywag's head.
Angelica's sword expertly flew back up, cutting one fine button off Anamaria's coat. For a moment Anamaria just stood in affronted shock, while Angelica turned and dove for the opened window. Anamaria took aim again, just missing the Spanish pirate's backside (which she noticed, not without envy, was perfectly sculpted). Roaring through her teeth, Anamaria charged to the window and took a look out. The window overlooked an unkempt garden within the walls of the inn. The door to the next building over was swinging back and forth.
She glanced up to the window opposite hers.
Anamaria sheathed her gun, took a few steps back, and ran into a leap, kicking off the windowsill. She faltered, just barely getting a hold of the other window's frame in time to stop herself falling. On the other side of the glass, a group of French pirates stood huddled around their drinks like ravens. A few of them were still sober enough to notice the noise, and glance at the Mulatto woman hanging outside their window like a massive spider. Anamaria hoisted herself fully over the window, standing on the sill and gripping the roof, and gave its lock a kick. It took two more tries to have it opened, all while the Frenchmen stared at her in drunken bafflement. She hopped down into the room and tore through the group of angry pirates, dodging a swinging sword and a storm of French insults, and turned down the hall.
She found herself on a balcony almost identical to the one in the last building. Surveying the crowd below, she easily found Angelica, attempting to push her way through to the door. Anamaria's gun came back up. She wasn't exactly positive she wanted to kill this woman; perhaps just put a ball in one of her ankles, to teach her a lesson. In any case, the Spanish woman saw Anamaria, and instantly took a few awkward leaps to the right. Without thinking, Anamaria copied her move. Then Angelica brought her sword into a tight rope along the wall. Anamaria realized the Spaniard had just positioned her for the old chandelier trick. Without even wasting time to look up, Anamaria rolled out of the way, just before the tiny chandelier crashed down into the spot of the railing she'd been leaning over moments before.
When Anamaria rolled back up, the chandelier was tumbling off the railing, down onto the gasping crowd below. And going with it was a long chord of rope. Anamaria bounded up onto the railing and seized the rope with both hands, awkwardly holding her pistol in just a few fingers. She rode the chandelier's rope down to the floor, softly landing feet-first on top of a drunken Scotsman. Discarding the rope, she took aim once more at Angelica, who was nearing the garden door, and succeeded only in putting a hole in the wood. She cursed harshly; this flintlock pistol contained only three shots. She was out of bullets.
Now would be a good time to forfeit the fight. But Anamaria was not one to back down when someone fed her temper. She tore back into the garden, with her empty pistol raised. Not surprisingly, Angelica was waiting for her just outside the doorway. Her blade nearly swung into Anamaria's throat; this time it was Anamaria who parried Angelica's move with her pistol's barrel.
Angelica grinned coyly. "You're out of bullets."
Anamaria's other hand was already prepared to pull out her hidden curved knife, and bring it to Angelica's throat. The Spanish woman's eyes flicked from the knife to Anamaria, her face falling into irritated defeat. Anamaria's deadpan stare was unmoving.
With impeccable timing, the door from the other building burst opened, and the British musician gripped the wall urgently. "Captain! Yer old Scrum's just heard some most distressing news about Jack Sparrow! Word is he's been captured out in the Atlantic, taken back to London to stand trial!"
The two women looked at each other.
"It seems justice moves more swiftly than scorned women," Anamaria said dryly.
Angelica's face melted into a disdain that put Anamaria's to shame. "You obviously don't know Jack Sparrow as well as some people, if you think he'll be caught that easily."
"Orders, Captain?" Scrum pressed.
Angelica's eyes remained on Anamaria. "Rally the crew we've hired, and return to ship. We set sail as soon as possible; after all, if one wants to slip out of the shipyard unseen, it should best be done before dawn." She gave Anamaria a long, meaningful look.
Her temper finally cooling, Anamaria lowered her knife away from Angelica's throat. Angelica's sword gracefully swung away from Anamaria.
Keeping her voice hard, Anamaria demanded, "Make sure Sparrow pays."
Angelica grinned. "He will." She twirled her sword back into its sheath. "When he meets my father."
Anamaria raised her eyebrows, silently urging the Spaniard on.
Anamaria slumped where she stood, unimpressed. "Pull the other one."
"I told you you wouldn't believe me."
The Spanish woman vanished back into the other building before Anamaria had time to reconsider her response. She stood for a few moments in the alley, pondering the possibility. Could that Spanish woman be related to Blackbeard? Her fighting skills certainly seemed to support the claim. But on the other hand, the woman was a master of deception. Anamaria shook her head, deciding that she didn't care anymore.
She jabbed her knife back into place under her belt, and tucked her useless pistol away, as she swaggered towards the shipyard.
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