Damn, I miss this project, even though I couldn't write for crap when I was working on it.
When she reached the narrow plank set between the two ships, she paused, reconsidering her decision. She glanced back; the man whose only hobby seemed to be chasing her across the universe was right on her heels.
Screw it! she thought, and mounted the plank.
As she crossed, she saw the sea so far, far, far below her -- and tripped. She managed to correct her balance just in time; those precious moments, however, closed the gap between her and her pursuer. His fingers grabbed her by the throat.
"And now you are finished," he said as he drew the tip of the sword to her chest.
The air was filled with the noises of battle; of screams, and clanging, and breaking, and smashing. One would think a single sound would not be discernable amongst all the chaos, yet Brynn heard through all the ruckus a quiet click by her ear. Her eyes rolled sideways to see what it was just as the man holding her looked over her shoulder, having also heard the sound.
The Captain's peculiar gun was cocked and pointed at the head of Brynn's enemy.
"Shit," the man said, hatred rushing into his eyes.
The Captain fired. The bullet burst through the man's skull. His body swayed, and then fell over the side of the plank. His fingers still wrapped around her throat, he took Brynn with him.
As the corpse pulled her over the edge, the Captain reached out and grabbed her hand. She held on to him with every bit of strength contained in her body as the dead man's rigid grip threatened to tear her away. The corpse was at last ripped from her throat by gravity, and he fell alone into the tumultuous waves below. As his body sank to invisible depths, Brynn glimpsed a silver fin slipping toward it through the water.
The Captain's hand recoiled, pulling her back with it, up over the side of the plank, and straight into his arms. She stood there, involuntarily pressed against him, staring at the thin thread of smoke streaming from his gun, and trembled with terror and warmth.
"Were you going to leave me?" he asked.
She opened her mouth to reply, and he kissed her.
There was a violence in his lips that was so intense, she feared its power even as his mouth caressed her tenderly. But it was the tenderness that she was having a harder time with, because it defied everything she thought of him as being, and made her determination to resist him crumble away as easily as a burnt log that is nothing more than dust. She could feel her own body betraying her as it leaned into his embrace, and she tried to tell it to stand fast, not to give in to the ravaging temptations of so cruel a man, even if he had just saved her life. But her own flesh refused to obey her. Her body relaxed into his kiss, and he responded by pressing her harder against him.
The voice startled Brynn enough that she regained some of her composure, and managed to look for its owner.
It was Alexander. He stood at the end of the plank. He had spoken in a quiet voice, one that could easily be ignored if his captain did not wish to acknowledge it.
The Captain chose to withdraw from Brynn, just enough to speak. "What?"
"We have the warship's captain, sir."
"Bring him to me."
"Yes, sir," Alexander said, and left at once.
"Is the fighting over?" Brynn whispered.
"No," he said, his voice aching. His expression wavered a moment between conscious thought and sensuous oblivion. Then he took a deep breath, and some slight change came over his features. "Yes. When a captain falls, his ship falls." He wrapped an arm around her, and led her carefully back to his ship.
"Why was that man after you?" he asked when they were safely off the plank.
"I don't know," she said. It was the truth; it just wasn't the whole truth. She was trembling. He slid his arms around her from behind. Her trembling increased.
"What aren't you telling me?" he wondered.
Alexander and several other members of the crew brought forward a man with his hands bound behind him. He looked the same as all the other king's men in his humble clothes and sheltered head, except that he had a jeweled medallion hanging from his neck. He was forced to kneel before the Captain. He kept his eyes on the floor, and never once glanced up at his captor.
The Captain turned his attention to prisoner. "You have lost."
"Yes, Master. I surrender my ship to you."
"Do not call me master. I am not the one who owns you," the Captain said, his words sharp.
"Yes, noble sir."
"Yours is a warship of the king?"
"Yes, the bless...the king, noble sir."
"Why was there an assassin on it?"
"I know of no assassin."
Brynn felt the Captain's arms tighten around her. "You will tell me what he was doing on your ship, or I will hang you from the yardarm by your intestines."
"He appeared aboard --"
"It was a miracle, sir. We were three days out to sea. There was no land, no other boats. He came into my cabin through a glowing light. He could only have been from..." The man hesitated.
"You are afraid to speak of the celestial before a demon," the Captain said dryly.
"I know nothing of demons, good sir," the man said quickly.
"What did he say to you?"
"That I should do as I was told, for the glory of the king, and to fulfill the will of the Protector."
That elicited a brief growl from deep in the Captain's throat. "Continue."
"We changed our course. It took us to you. All I was told, was to engage you. That was all. Anything that may have happened beyond that, was not my planning."
"To the slaughter," his captor murmured, "for a girl."
Brynn flinched. He felt it. He looked at her. "I think the man has told us all he can."
"But I haven't?" Brynn retorted. She could feel her defenses rising.
He released her. She moved away, wrapping her arms around her chest as she did so. He drew a hand-rolled cigarette from his pocket and brought it to his lips; this one was longer and blacker than the previous kind he had smoked. The Captain brought out his enigmatic lighter. "Tell your king..." he said to the man, and as he said it, he flicked the lighter so that a small flame sprang up from it. At the same instant that the flame came to life, the king's warship exploded into a ball of fire. The force of the blast threw Brynn and the others to the floor, but the Captain remained where he was, only his hair ruffled a bit by the explosion. As smoke poured out from the flaming warship and coiled around the pirate vessel, the Captain returned the lighter to his pocket. "...that if he touches even a hair on this girl's head, I will exterminate him."
Brynn curled up in a fetal position, and watched the fire as it raged. Dear God, what else is he capable of?