There was a loud crash as Mariqah was tossed into the captain's cabin of a ship. She hit the side side of a table that held maps and books, trinkets and navigational tools - and Mariqah dragged the entire table down when she hit it, the rich red table-cloth draping over her like a cape.
"Who are you, impostor!" Jaq cried, striding in and shutting the door behind her, "and why have you got my face?"
Mariqah stood up, her legs shaking as she tried to, not facing Jaq. She spat off to her left, wiped blood from her mouth with the back of her sleeve. She said nothing to Jaq.
Jaq grabbed a wooden chair and placed it down in the centre of the cabin. She grabbed Mariqah by the shoulder and threw her into the chair. Mariqah's left eye was cut and closed, swollen and painful looking. Blood trickled out of the corner of her mouth. Jaq's face was no less beaten, and both would be black and blue come the morning. Jaq sat on Mariqah's lap, facing her, and pointed a curved dagger to her throat.
"Tell me!" Jaq insisted.
Mariqah snarled at her, "I can tell you, but it's a long story. You're going to have to let me explain."
Jaq lowered the blade, but only by so much, "Keep talking," she said.
"I wasn't lying," Mariqah said, "I really am you, but a different you. From a different place."
Jaq narrowed her eyes, "What's your name?"
"I'm called Mariqah de Saint-Omer," Mariqah replied.
"No, what's your real name?"
Mariqah said, "Firdous Khanom."
Jaq dropped her dagger.
"I'm the bastard daughter of Dolli Khanom, now deceased, and Robert Hammond Maxwell," Mariqah continued, "I ran away from home."
"You're a British ploy," Jaq said, shaking her head, "You have to be."
Mariqah looked at her, "Why would I have approached you if that was true?" she asked, "I know how stupid my story sounds, but even if the British could reproduce a replica of us, they wouldn't just throw it at you."
"You still have not answered my query," Jaq said, folding her arms and remaining seated on Mariqah's lap, "We might look alike, but it's clear we're not identical. Who are you, where did you come from, and why?"
"I'm a soldier for hire, a mercenary. I have my own army, albeit on the other side of the world. My world. I can't quite explain it, but it seems I've managed to travel through time and space..." Mariqah paused, "I completely understand the strangeness of all this."
Jaq moved herself closer to Mariqah, in such a way that it made Mariqah uncomfortable, "I'm Black Jacqueline - Captain Black Jaq to most - at your service," she said, "and what enabled you to travel in this way, Mariqah?"
"A stone, with strange markings on it," Mariqah said. She didn't like the way Jaq was talking to her or touching her but, for her own safety, Mariqah decided to play along. She stroked Jaq's thigh with the back of her hand.
Jaq brushed a finger over Mariqah's bottom lip, tracing over her scar, "And how came you by this... stone?" Jaq asked.
Mariqah licked her lips so that it wet Jaq's fingertip, "A man named Captain Estaban Vasquez gave it to me," she replied, holding Jaq's hips, "Since you have a Callum in your world, I assume you also have a Vasquez."
"Indeed we do," Jaq said, kissing Mariqah's lips, "Know where he stays?"
"Tortuga," Mariqah said.
Jaq leaned forward, holding Mariqah crotch, and whispered, "I fucking knew it."
In one swift motion, she tore open Mariqah's pants. Jaq paused. Mariqah gave her a strange look.
"Huh," Jaq murmured, "Well, would you look at that..."
Mariqah smiled at her, confused for good measure, and asked, "What where you hoping to find?"
"A snake," Jaq said, getting off of Mariqah, "But instead, all I see is a goat's beard. And yet... you played along."
"You would have cut me, if i hadn't," Mariqah said.
"Scary," Jaq commented, "You really must be me."
"Oh, and how'd you figure that?" Mariqah asked.
Jaq scoffed, "I recognise my own lady parts," she said, "Why are you here, Mariqah? Why have you come?"
"To see you," Mariqah said, "I wanted to know the outcome of life if I had decided on something different for myself."
"Why would you wanna do that?" Jaq asked.
Mariqah rose from her seat and went over to a wardrobe, "Have you never wondered, Jaq?" she asked, taking off her coat and tunic and ruined breeches.
"Of course," Jaq said, watching her double undress - raising a brow at the many scars on her back, "But I'm happy with my lot. Aren't you happy with yours?"
Mariqah picked out a corselet, a loose white tunic that was frilled at the neck line and a pair of dark breeches, "Define 'happy'," she said, putting on the clothes. She saw a black hat with white trimmings - no feathers - and placed it on her head.
"So you aren't happy then?" Jaq said to her.
Mariqah strapped on her belts and put on her boots, "To be frank, Jaq - I just wanted to know," she picked out a black, sleeveless leather jacket from the wardrobe and put it on, "So, tell me - who are you? Just a regular pirate captain?"
Jaq smirked, "Yes," she said, striding by Mariqah and holding her hips. She looked into the other woman's face, "No. Maybe. Maybe not. Does it matter? Aren't the answers you have enough?"
Mariqah felt Jaq's hands slowly sliding down the waistband of her breeches, "What do you think, Black Jaq?"
"Then what will you do to get them?" Jaq asked her, "Play along, soldier."
Mariqah moved away from Jaq. Once was more than enough, "What would you have me do?"
Jaq laughed, "I haven't decided, yet," she said, "But it's becoming clear to me that you're a lot less comfortable with yourself than I am."