The seas were tame as Mariqah and Jaq set their course for Maritinique, a fleet of ships thirsty for blood following after them. The Southern Wolf was a swift frigate, quick and powerful with its twenty-odd guns.
"Will we need to resupply?" Mariqah asked Jaq.
Jaq shook her head, "I shouldn't think so."
"What about the other ships? Are they well-stocked with gunpowder, food and water enough?" Mariqah queried.
Jaq slapped her on the back, "Don't worry so much, we'll be fine!"
"We are talking about the British Royal Navy," Mariqah said, "There isn't a more formidable opponent on the seas - there's no such thing as worrying too much."
"It's only going to be a few vessels, Mariqah," Jaq assured her.
"How can you be so sure? You don't think the bastards'll be prepared?" Mariqah asked her, "If I were you, I wouldn't take the risk of leaving my stores unchecked."
"Aye, but you aren't me," Jaq reminded her.
"Perhaps not, though that wasn't my point."
"So what was your point? That I should rough and check every single man and woman upon these vessels, to see if he's fit and prepared to fight and die for our freedoms?" Jaq said, "They're pirates, aren't they?"
Mariqah gave Jaq a hard look, "Don't waste lives where they'd be better spent elsewhere," she whispered, her voice dangerously low and silent, "Are all these ships well supplied, Captain Black Jaq?"
Jaq narrowed her eyes at Mariqah, "I assure you, Ms de Saint-Omer - we'll come out of this mess unscathed."
Mariqah didn't linger, she went down into the captain's cabin and stood by the desk littered with loose sheets and letters. She placed her palms down upon the desk and shut her eyes.
"So far you're right, uncle," she muttered, "so far, I'm entirely different, but in jarringly similar straits," Mariqah stood straight, hands through her hair - balling her fists to tug it at the roots, "Why me? Why am I this way? So bothersomely... powerful. I never wanted it, so why has it been given to me?" she asked, "Hello...?" Mariqah sighed, took a step back and held her face, "Of course. Of fucking course, you can't bloody hear me! Nobody's ever listening up there, are they?"
Mariqah heard the door open and flinched.
"Mariqah?" Jaq asked.
"You could hear me?" Mariqah asked.
Jaq put her hands on her hips and leaned against the doorframe, "The whole flipping crew could here you," she laughed, "What's the matter with you?"
Mariqah placed her hands back on the desk and bowed her head, "What happened to you, Jaq?" she turned and stomped right up to the woman who looked just like her, "What happened to you? And what happened to me? Why are we this way? Why are we given this power?" she held Jaq's collar, "Why couldn't we lead normal, oblivious lives like normal, oblivious people? Why didn't we stay like we goddamn meant to!"
Jaq put her hands to Mariqah's and gently pulled them away, "Would you like me to answer all of those questions? Because I can safely say - I can't."
Mariqah put her face in her hands, "Just... what happened to you after you spoke to the old naval officer by the lake in East London? After he told you all that shite about the 'the grass is never green enough'?"
"You'll have your answer," Jaq said, smiling at Mariqah, "I swear it, but after we beat the British at Martinique."
Mariqah growled as Jaq began walking away. She marched her way, grabbed the other woman and yanked her around to face her. Mariqah picked her up and held against a wall, "That is an unfair price for what I am doing for you," Mariqah snarled, "I deserve answers."
Jaq smiled at Mariqah - a wicked, patronising smile - and said, "And what do you intend to do?" she murmured, "You intend to... withhold your generous offering in the hope that I'll beg? I'm a pirate," Jaq reminded her, "I take what I like, be who I fancy and do as I please. I don't beg for anything," slowly, she was lowered to the ground, "You might be stronger than me in body, smarter than me in wit, you can leave if you please. But if you do this, you'll never get you're answers."
Mariqah scoffed, frowning, and whispered, "Without me, your Brethren of the Coast faces utter annihilation."
"I know the British force better than you know the folds of your own cunt," Mariqah warned her, "I know exactly what you're up against, and your syphilitic mind can't even begin to comprehend the kind of hell you're in for. You can choose to believe what you like, but we are at an impasse. The difference is, if I stand down - I only lose answers. Answers I don't really need - I doubt I can soothe my mind, the way that it is, even if I do uncover anything. You, on the other hand, will lose your entire empire. Piece by piece, ship by ship, pirate by pirate," Mariqah went over to the desk and leaned against it, "In case you still fail to see it, you and yours at the disadvantage here. Therefore, you and yours are in no position to dictate terms."
Jaq scowled in her silence, her fingers cracking as they balled into fists, "And I suppose you are in such a position?" she asked.
Mariqah laughed, bowing her head in a manic manner, "Don't make me repeat myself," she panted, still bawling in laughter, "I'm sure it was painful enough for you to hear the first time around."
Jaq shut her eyes, trying to be patient, "Fine. What are your terms?"
Mariqah let her air of power linger, before she said, "I want all your rat-infested vessels to land on the nearest uninhabited island and account for their food, their drink and their ammunition. I want an audience with all your able-bodied captains and notable persons. But most of all," Mariqah said.
Jaq nodded, "You want answers," she sighed.
"No," Mariqah said, "There will be time enough later for that. Most of all, I want your trust. That whatever I say, whatever I command, whatever I might take and whatever I might give - you will obey and trust until the storm, this blight that follows you like a shadow on a bright day, has passed."
Jaq gave Mariqah a disgusted look. She, indeed, could not believe her ears, "You're asking me to serve you?"
"I'm sure you are a powerful leader in your own right," Mariqah told her, "But now is not the time for you to lead. Now is not the time for talk of freedom, when the Devil is chopping away at your weakest link to enslave you."
"So I am to choose between two masters," Jaq smiled, the sardonic manner thick, "you and the British."
Mariqah scoffed, "Indeed."