Saints & Sinners

NaNoWriMo 2015, here I come :P


12. Ten

It was an interesting thing for the fleet to witness - these two look-alikes at each other's throats. Mariqah insisted that they both dress exactly the same so that the command of one didn't belay the other (but moreso because when Mariqah gave a command, Jaq's objection wasn't weighty enough to overrule it). The entire fleet had never seen Jaq (or so they assumed it was her) so aggravated in all her time as a pirate - for she was not a woman accustomed to being maintained under the bootheel of another: even if said 'another' was her demon spirit. That night, Jaq called a meeting with all her captains and any notable persons aboard the ships - and they were all to meet in the captain's cabin of the Southern Wolf. 

"What will you tell them?" Jaq asked Mariqah, "To bow down and worship you?"
Mariqah sighed, "I will discuss the offensive with them, see how many of your captains are willing to fight. Pirates aren't known as the bravest of men, after all."
"Oh?" Jaq said, taking offense and shoving her face into Mariqah's, "And I suppose mercenaries, men who are hired to fight in a battle that they don't believe in, are?"
Mariqah was unmoved, "I've never seen a mercenary run from a fight. Not once in my life," Mariqah stood to her full height, "I've seen mercenaries fight and die, even after a retreat is called. It's not the money they're after, 'least not the ones I know. So, yes - I dare say, they are."
"They just sound stupid," Jaq dared to say.
"Well," Mariqah murmured in cold tones, "Bravery would sound foolish to a coward, now, wouldn't it?"

Jaq growled and was about to land a blow, when a knock came at the door of the cabin. She gave Mariqah a snarl. Mariqah kept her face bored and emotionless, unmoved and unchanged since the beginning of the exchange, and went to get the door. As she did so, several pirates stared in at her. They looked from Mariqah to Jaq, having heard stories of the two, but not actually having seen them. 
"Holy Father in Heaven," said one of them, muttering it as if it was involuntary, "it really is true. But which is real."
"I am Captain Black Jaq, at your service," Jaq called from the back of the cabin, arms folded, "That there is the devil."
Mariqah rolled her eyes and let the pirates in, who tottered through the entrance all staring at her like a sudden movement might make her explode and kill everyone from here to Singapore. Mariqah gestured to a table and they all stood around it. Jaq watched as Mariqah spoke to them, her face turning green with envy. She hated that this woman had suddenly appeared and assumed her role, but she said nothing and held her peace. Even if she really didn't want to. None of these pirates had met this woman, never, not once. They had met her lookalike only. Then how was it that these pirates hung on every single word that passed from Mariqah's lips and looked upon her with such dumbfounded awe? How did she command such intense power and captivated all in her presence? Even Jaq - though he was loathe to admit it - felt it when Mariqah was in the room. She might not like her, but for some inexplicable, unconscious reason: she had to listen. 

How, indeed, did she do it?

The gears in Jaq's mind begn turning and she began asking the same questions Mariqah sought answers to. What had happened to make her so powerful? What had Jaq done differently? Why was the outcome so similar that Mariqah could command both mercenary and pirate, but somehow different in manner and bearing that she was just that much more powerful than Jaq and perhaps somewhat frightening? She had no reputation here... except... that of a Devil. But Jaq didn't believe this. She knew what Mariqah was, Vasquez had confirmed it. So what was it? What about Mariqah frightened her? Watching from her place, Jaq watched Mariqah speak to those men and woman, argue with them and win every time - perhaps alter the plan every now and again by way of compromise. Jaq couldn't put her finger on it. There was just something incredibly... hellish about Mariqah that Jaq did not and could not understand - and yet, she had done nothing hellish since she had arrived. She had abstained from pirate custom - indulged in no drinking or whoring of any sort - and refused any chance to steal a ship for sport. 
Jaq didn't know what it was - if it was anything at all.
But afraid she was.

"Black Jaq," Mariqah called her. 
Jaq broke out of her trance and looked up at Mariqah. All the pirates were looking at her.
"Sorry," Jaq said, red flushing her cheeks, "What?"
Mariqah dismissed the meeting and let the pirates return to their ships. She stood by Jaq and said, "A plan has been agreed," Mariqah told her, "We strike at dawn. The Southern Wolf will be responsible for leading the offensive, with you at its head."
"Me?" Jaq asked, her brows raised, "You've restored my position."
Mariqah smiled, "I've given you a promotion," Mariqah turned back to the desk and rearranged the notes and maps so that she could examine them more clearly, "It's as you've said, I am not you. You are a Pirate Lord, and though I've commanded my fair share of naval battles, I command far better with solid ground beneath my boots."
"P... promotion?" Jaq wondered.
Mariqah took off her pirate garbs - which she always thought looked quite silly - and wiped her face with the sleeve of her tunic, "From this point forth, we are not equal or doubles. We are each our own person," Mariqah said, "though, I'll keep the hat, if you don't mind," she cocked her hat on her head a little.
"Mariqah?" Jaq asked.
"What's this about a promotion?"
"Oh," Mariqah said, whipping her head out of a wardrobe, "I hadn't told you that?" she took off her hat and courtsied, "Hail, Black Jaq - Pirate King!" Mariqah stood properly, "You should pay more heed to your subjects, they just named you their sovereign."

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