When they had finally landed in Tortuga, Mariqah stepped onto the wooden harbour and took in the scene - the combination of jungle and sand just as contrasted and formidable as it was in her own world. Jaq tapped her on her arm and Mariqah followed her to Vasquez's fortress.
"Aren't your men asking about me?" Mariqah asked her.
Jaq smiled, "They don't ask much, Ms de Saint-Omer. But, aye, there's been some speculations amongst them. Interesting ones at that."
"Oh?" Mariqah said.
"They think I've spawned a second," Jaq laughed, "That I bred another version of myself. You're an accursed apparition, Mariqah."
This made Mariqah scoff, "Sailors and their superstition."
"Indeed," Jaq nodded.
The doors of the vast fortress burst wide open and out strode Vasquez.
"Well, if it isn't Black Jaq! Come to visit me at last!" he said, with his arms spread wide. His eyes fell on Mariqah, "Oh, and... what's this? A sister I've never heard about?"
"Demon spirit, actually," Mariqah said, putting out her hand.
Vasquez gestured up with his hands, "Of course, guapa," he said, taking her hand and kissing it, "Charmed. Come in, I'm sure you've come to discuss private affairs."
He put an arm around each double and walked them into his fortress. He led them through the halls and corridors until they came upon his private study (which happened to reek of stale rum). As soon as the door shut behind them, Jaq grabbed Vasquez by the collar and kissed him with such a ferocity that Mariqah thought she meant to devour him. She walked away from them, looking at the items and maps on his desk - as Vasquez and Jaq did their own thing.
"I've missed you," Jaq whispered to him.
"And I, you, princesa," Vasquez whispered back.
"Much as I'd love to have a little fun," Jaq said, "I have something of a situation on my hands," she gestured to Mariqah.
Vasquez looked at Mariqah, "She can join us if she likes," he said, "If she's anything like you, it would be interesting."
"That's the thing, Estaban - she's exactly like me, except in one detail," Jaq said, "She's a soldier from another world. Would you mind explaining to me how that's possible?"
"Why would you think I'd know?" Vasquez asked, gesturing to himself, "She's probably a long lost twin of yours that your mother gave to the church or some shit."
"Firdous Khanom never had a twin," Mariqah said, reading a letter on Vasquez's desk, "Though she always wished she had one so that she'd have someone other than herself to speak to throughout her childhood," she put down the letter, "Hello, Estaban. I know a man who has your name and looks exactly like you and lives on the same island. A man who ran away from Spain many, many years ago because of an incident with a particularly ruthless and caniving sweetheart of his. He's never been back since."
Vasquez stared at her with hostility, "I'm beginning to believe the demon spirit story."
"He gave me a peculiar stone that was in his possession and told me it had endless healing power and could transport me to other worlds," Mariqah said, "Does my story check out, Estaban?"
Vasquez cast a wary eye over her, "I see more differences than one between you and Jaq," he muttered, "What are you doing here, disturbing our peace, our lives, our world?"
"I came seeking answers, and I feel I will not leave until I have them," Mariqah replied.
"Is this true, Estaban?" Jaq asked, "Is all of this the truth?"
Vasquez nodded, bewildered, "Si. Your demon is speaking the truth."
"My name is Mariqah de Saint-Omer," Mariqah said, "Good to see you don't change much between worlds."
"So, you're real," Jaq said, "There's a version of me that holds an army at me command, that doesn't drink and doesn't sleep around," she looked over at Mariqah with wonder, "No surprise you're not happy."
Mariqah scoffed, "I've tried to lead a life like yours, I wasn't happy with it either," she turned back to the letters on the desk, "Are these effects you've intercepted from enemy vessels?" she asked Vasquez.
"Si, quite recent," Vasquez replied.
"Have you read them?" Mariqah asked.
"No, not yet."
"Then you'll be saddened to hear this: There's a traitor among you," Mariqah said passing the letter to Jaq, "and that traitor is plotting to deliver you straight into British hands - bloody and burning."
Jaq and Vasquez looked at each other, and then read the letter together.
"This is outrageous!" Vasquez barked, "I'll kill the fucker."
"You haven't the time for that," Mariqah said, looking back at the map and beckoning them towards her, "The letter details an attack very soon," she gestured to the map of the West Indies, "Neither of you know who the traitor is, so don't know the manner of information that they divulged to the British. So let's err on the side of caution, shall we? The British Navy is the most elite fleet of ships to sail the seas, but they're also the most stingy - they'll want to lay siege to one of your strongholds, get an easy victory in."
"Aye, that's the truth of it," Jaq said, brushing shoulders with Mariqah, "So, army general - what do we do?"
"Which is your weakest stronghold?" Mariqah asked, "Least defenses, least supplies, least likely to survive a siege?"
"Martinique," Jaq said.
Vasquez got up, "I'll set a course immediately."
"Wait," Mariqah said, "The besieged never have the upper-hand. We have to let the British lay their siege-"
"Are you mad!" Vasquez shouted.
"And then," Mariqah continued, "We attack them from the rear. They'll be dead in the water the same night. But that will only be the beginning. The naval force will want to attack Nassau, if that's where your headquarters are. Estaban, take two-thirds of the fleet to Nassau and supply the island with food and water enough to last them a few months. Jaq and I with manage the situation in Martinique with the remaining third of the fleet. Take Callum with you."
Jaq gave Mariqah a look, "What do you think you're doing?"
"Do you have any better ideas?" Mariqah asked her.
"This is not your world."
"But it is my area of expertise," Mariqah told her, "Besides, it doesn't need to be my world. I'm just doing my job."