"Feed her to the sky!" Lang shouted.
"Chain her to a bed in the brig!" Someone called and the rest cheered on. Arabella stood aloof in the corner with her eyes fixed on shadows cast from lamp light that moved to voices on the walls of the galley. David was in the middle of the crowd, writing down brainstormed ideas.
"Maybe get her a maid uniform!"
So far, nothing sounded particularly nice. It wasn't that she expected them to vote for Charlotte Bennet's safe return home to ship and crew but, well, she wasn't quite sure what she was hoping for. No matter what, a bad end was inevitable and all Ara wanted to do was block out the nasty suggestions made by her crew mates so she could think of a way around her former captain's death or sex slavery.
"We could get nice and kinky with her too; maybe keep her on a leash."
"We would never have to pay another whore ever again!" The men cheered at this comment from Laz.
"Well, unless we get bored of her."
Not if you're up for a fight.
"Then we'd kill her."
There had to be something.
"Or we could hire whores for garnish! You know, mix things up a bit."
"What about me?" Ara chimed in. The male crew turned in silence.
"No offense," David said, "but I think I speak for all of us when I say that no one's interested in using you for sex garnish. "
"No, arsehole, I mean what do I get out of this?" There were various whispers and confused looks from around the galley. "For a captain who prides himself on being fair with his crew, this seems a bit inconsistent." She and David locked eyes. shit. There was something in his expression that made Ara feel like she was going downhill in a stray cart.
"Don't worry, Porter, you can watch." Someone shouted but she had to ignore the sneers and snickers because to her, with his knowing stare and lowered brow, David was the only one in the room and what he knew, was a lot.
"I guess we'll just have to kill her then." He smiled, "We can't split out new loot unevenly." She glared and his smile grew in response and nodded his head toward the door. She closed her eyes in defeat and then slammed open the door. The whole crowd watched as David followed her. Once they were alone and outside, he grabbed her neck. Choking, Ara felt her back slam against the wall next to the Galley door. She gasped for air and fought back, clawing at his hands but he had her locked and put his face in close. "You think I'm stupid?" she shook her head in a tortured grimace. "Give me one reason why I shouldn't lock you in the brig with Bennet, huh?" His hand grasped tighter and Ara could feel the blood in her brain pulse against the inside of her temples. "You can either rot with Charlotte Bennet in hell, or you can stick with us, you got it?" She opened her mouth to say something but his grip blocked her words. "What?" He asked as air rushed to her lungs. She huffed.
"I'm loyal to this crew." she said between deep breaths, "Just because I'm worried about-"
"Her? You're worried about that bitch? she doesn't seem to worried about you."
"What would she have to be worried about with me?"
"Ask her!" He motioned his hand behind him towards a hatch near the mast that would lead her eventually to the brig of the Nyctimene. "We're leaving you out of the vote, Porter." He pulled her and then pushed her in the direction of the hatch before shaking his head and disappearing back into the galley. She first stumbled, regaining her balance, and then stood, the wind wisping cooly against her ear as she looked towards the hatch and then back to the galley where distant laughter ghosted in the air. It got warmer as she climbed down the ladder to lower deck, then downstairs to the deck below that and so on until she reached the storage deck where the brig awaited her at the end of a long hallway. She stopped in front of the door. How long had it been, a month? Ara hadn't been away from her captain, wait -former captain- for that long since they first met. It certainly wasn't as long as a year, but a lot could happen in a month and a lot could change. Everything was silent when she pushed the door open, save for the creaking sounds of a flying ship and a distant drip from a leak in one of the pipes that had not yet been patched up.
"How ironic that they would send you to tell me my fate." The young voice echoed around the room but Ara couldn't quite make out which cell it was coming from.
"You always did have a disturbing sense of humor." She called around her, peering for any shape other than those of the bars that lined the brig cells.
"I didn't say it was funny. I said it was ironic." Charlotte's voice responded.
"I was just remembering."
"Nostalgia disgusts me. Those who dwell and try to relive their past are those who don't have anything interesting to say in the present. It always made me head ache how you would beam over that dead boyfriend of yours as if you were waiting for a second chance to go and grab the dumb life you could have had. No one comes back from the dead so you better not beam about me after you push me into the clouds." Ara remained silent without a response. She just moved towards the voice. "Yeah, I always hated that nostalgic little look in your eye when I knew you were thinking about your lavish little Boston flat and daddy's forensics notes." Ara slammed her hands against the bars of the cell.
"You shut the fuck up." She burst to Charlotte who sat torn and tattered and beaten, like a rag doll in the corner of the cell. "You've said enough."
"And I suppose then that you haven't. Come on, Arabella, what sort of fun is in store for me?" Charlotte bended her knees and stood slowly with the eyes of a rabid dog. "Are you going to flick the lights out? That's only effective on little eight year old American girls." Arabella drew her gun.
"They haven't decided whether you're going to live or die yet but I can narrow their choices down if it'll help." There was a sharp click.
"You won't shoot." A sudden blast went off and smoke drifted from a hole in the wall next to Charlotte's head.
"You haven't shown this side in a long time."
"You wouldn't know anything about it."
"How did you like Meiling?" charlotte asked, pointing to the scar on Ara's cheek. Ara covered it with her free hand, still aiming her revolver.
"She's a bitch."
"We're pirates. Calling us bitches is redundant. You're a bitch. It comes with the territory." The pirate captain smirked but Ara just rolled her eyes. "You know what your problem is?"
"Please, enlighten me." the former fist mate sighed.
"You used to have this fun attitude that you brought to my ship. You had no limits or rules. Then you grew up and learned to complain. Poor Arabella Porter. The world is after you." Charlotte drifted slowly toward the front of the cell with her head tilted to one side, as if she were analyzing a painting. "Do you know why the world is after you?"
"I don't want to hear about it."
"Exactly. You let them talk and you let them chase you. You cause little pranks and political statements but you hide and whine and call yourself a rebel." No response. "You know why Meiling is a pirate lord? Because she's strong, not safe. You were entertaining for a while but since you left-"
"You mean since I was traded for gold?" Ara interrupted her. Charlotte's smile grew.
"I'm sorry, did I hurt your feelings?"
"I must have been stupid to think that I had earned your respect."
"You earned my trust. But you never earned my respect. I kept hoping but I gave up the moment you got soft."
"Porter!" David called as the door to the brig creaked open. "Gen your gun ready. We want you to do the honors." Ara's heart stopped and somehow, she could feel Charlotte's stop too, even through her broken laughter. The two young women exchanged glances and Ara left like a lifeless robot, not sure how to feel. David and Lang guided Charlotte up through the hatch and pushed her to where a short wooden plank had been situated off the starboard side. "Alright Ara, you want to prove loyalty to your crew? This is where you begin." She took a deep breath but couldn't seem to fully exhale as Charlotte stared at her from the edge of the board. A cloud drifted through her, leaving stray water drops on her hair. Ara lifted her gun and aimed for a long time.
"Feeling sentimental Porter?" Someone asked and the rest laughed.
"Are you going to shoot or not?" Charlotte asked, her eyes challenging like Chanter before he died. Ara thought about that night in Whitechapel. She thought about the Captain's last birthday and she thought about the rest of the crew on the Widow. Somehow, it felt as though she were wiping those memories away. There was so much to ask. "Fucking shoot." Charlotte pressed. But then, a sort of feeling rose in Ara's chest. An she aimed once more. "SHOOT ME!" Charlotte yelled and the blast went off. Everyone stared at Charlotte Bennett's bloody leg as the pirate captain wobbled back and disappeared into the sky. exhale. A word came out of her mouth but it was nothing from any language anyone had heard before.
"Ah..." Ara fell to her knees.
"Well that about wraps things up. You didn't exactly kill her but the sky will do that for you. A nice slow death for Captain Charlotte Bennet." David patted Arabella on the back.
"Ahhh." That was the only sound she could make. Charlotte Bennet...dead....gone....