[Author's Note: I don't usually like using bad language, but it just fit in with a new character. If you want me to make it more child-friendly, please just say so.]
Say 'fine' three times in the same sentence.
That was Dad's bright idea for a distress signal. It was all well and good that he didn't want to worry Mum, but when we need help, dammit, we need help!
"Acting" Captain Patrick Reilly had been trying to land on Tortuga for days now, but it was clear it was a lost cause. I asked him why he was so obsessed with it and told him we could easily resupply on Nassau or New Inagua or any of the other islands that made up New Providence.
I got a response, alright.
“Because, you furry knob-end, this is where Cortés is holed-up!” he spat, trying to steer the ship away from the mortar fire emerging from the cannons of a fort.
The El Tívu was far too slow for that.
We braced for impact, watched as the flaming balls of fire rained down on us and hoped that it wouldn't hit, it wouldn't hit, it wouldn't hit!
“Are you sure?” I asked Patrick.
“Am I sure?” Patrick responded, shouting an order to fire at the fort, “Do you really think I would risk sinking your father's ship, if I wasn't sure?”
“From what I've been through this last month, actually-”
“You need to surrender!”
“To Cortés? Are you mad?”
“It's either surrender or sink to the bottom of the sea!”
Patrick sighed and stamped one of his feet, “Fine, pup. Raise a white sail.”
The firing stopped as soon as I'd raised a white sail on the El Tívu's main-mast. A ship came over and hustled us aboard - tying each of us in coarse rope.
“Patrick told me this was your idea,” Bex muttered through her teeth, while we were being escorted ashore.
“'Idea' might be stretching it...” I murmured back.
“Aldrin? You better come up with something.”
“This is hardly my fault, Bex,” I protested.
“Well, everybody else is blaming you, so-”
“Oh, keep quiet!” I snapped.
I looked around at the men who had captured us. They looked Spanish enough, but they weren't dressed as Spanish soldiers. Their clothing was rough, like it had seen much wear and tear and never been washed. As we neared the island and the fort, my suspicions were confirmed - this land wasn't being held by the Spanish. The black flag fluttering from the highest tower of the fort indicated that these were pirates.
Oh, God. More pirates.
When the pirate schooner docked, we were all hauled to our feet and dragged to the port, our feet plonking on the wooden boards heavily as we were coerced.
“Imperialists!” a man shouted, “Colonialists! Fucks!”
We were put on our knees in straight line and made to watch as this man yelled obscenities and flung foul accusations in our faces. He looked wild and unkempt, and unlike his men, he definitely wore the battered garbs of a Spanish naval officer. His head was shaven clean of hair and a scar cut through his left eye. He yelled at Patrick Reilly and the man could do nothing but take it.
I guess that's the difference between Captain and Acting Captain - a Captain would always know what to do. My father - though he did have the irritating quirk of calling me Simon - would never have shown fear to a man like this even if he felt it. At least, I couldn't imagine it.
The madman grabbed Bex by the arm and hoisted her up, “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
She spat in his face and he headbutted her in the nose in response.
Bex gasped, the hit had managed to disfigure her nose but - given her nature - she never bled. While it managed to gain a number of murmurs from the madman's men, the madman himself remained unfazed.
“You?” he smiled and said in an almost joking way, “Spit on my face?”
“Leave me-” Bex protested.
He slapped her, “Talking out of turn is very rude,” he raised his brows, “Okay? When you want to speak, you raise your hand like a good little girl.”
He slapped her again, harder, so that she stumbled back a little, “Let's try that again. You raise your hand, like so,” he raised his hand to demonstrate.
“What is happening? What are you?” Bex shouted.
The madman laughed, “You just don't learn, do you? It's like you're not even listening,” he curled his hand into a fist and was about to hit her.
“Oi, stop it! Leave her alone!” I barked.
He turned, as if moved by my voice alone, “And what do we have here?” he walked towards me as two of his men took Bex by her arms. The madman knelt down in front of me and scratched me behind the ear, “What happened to you, eh? Your mama fuck a dog, hermano?”
I snapped my jaws at his hand, “We're pirates, like you.”
He laughed, “And I'm the dog your mama fucked,” he became angry and loud in an instant, “How stupid do you think I am? Hey,” he slapped my face with the back of his hand, “look at me when I'm talking to you. That ship is El Tívu, correct?”
I furrowed my brows at him.
He cocked a gun at Bex, “You give me an answer, or going to blow that pretty little head off your girlfriend's shoulders.”
“Yes, it's the El Tívu.”
“No, it's El Tívu. Not the El Tívu, just El Tívu - language is very important, mi amigo,” he said, “and do you think I don't know that El Tívu belongs to that fucking cock-sucker, Cortés? That asshole who's been pillaging my island for supplies and bleeding my stores dry?”
“It doesn't belong to Cortés anymore,” I said.
“Hermano, lying is very bad.”
“I'm not lying. On my life, my father and mother captured that vessel a few months back when they came into contact with it.”
“Your mama and papa? What? The Lady and the Tramp?”
“No,” I said, on the brink of losing my patience, “Captain Thomas Rogue and Midnight Shadownight. They were out here looking for something, and they came into contact with Cortés and they took th- they took El Tívu.”
The madman sucked in his cheeks, “How can you be the... child of Midnight Shadownight?”
“So you know her?”
“Answer my question.”
“She adopted me in Rome. Years ago,” I gestured to Bex with my head, “And if you don't believe me, ask her. That's Bex Shadownight, my mother's niece.”
“If you're pirates, why did you attack us?” the madman asked.
I so wanted to throw Patrick to the dogs (in a manner of speaking), but I said, “Well, if your flag didn't just blend into everything, we wouldn't have. We thought Tortuga was being held by Cortés.”
“Release them!” the madman said, and I felt the rope holding my hands back become loose, “My apologies, hermano,” the madman helped me up, “I am Estaban Vasquez. And you are?”
“Aldrin Rogue,” I said, “And I think you ought to direct your apologies to my cousin.”
“Oh, piss off, the lot of you!” Bex said, brushed off her coat and stomped away.
I had to force myself not to laugh.
“So, Cortés has been bothering you?” I asked Vasquez.
“Bothering? If I didn't know any better, I'd say he was trying to take Tortuga for Isabella,” Vasquez said, watching as the men of the El Tívu tried to salvage the battered man-of-war and bring her ashore, “Are you looking for him?”
“My mother sent us out to find him. She needs him for something,” I explained and then repeated, “Did you know her?”
Vasquez scoffed and smiled, “That's... one way of putting it,” he turned back, “If you're looking for Cortés, you were right to steer this way. Partially, of course. The part where I almost sunk you and then scared the shit out of you aside, he's on this island somewhere. If you help me get rid of the Spanish from these isles, you can have Cortés.”
“You're just going to give us Cortés? What about all the damage to our vessel?”
“What about my fort?”
“You shot first!”
“You didn't change the name of your ship!”
“You didn't do your research! And your flag is stupid! And you jumped to conclusions and abused my cousin!”
“You are just like your mother!” he barked, “Fine. I'll see what I can do about El Tívu - for the sake of Midnight's fuzzy bambino - and then we hunt the Spanish. I get my island, you get Cortés for your mother like a good little boy.”