I used to hate taking hostages. It felt so cruel and in the very early days, I thought I could relate to them at the time, being forced into service and all. I had no idea how different it was until I started being behind bars myself on occasion.
“Hostages are profit,” The captain used to say and when they were from air patrol, it was always, “This is what they signed up for,” and then the crew would laugh.
After a few years, I found keeping captives very enjoyable. They’re always more talkative when they’re bored and you get to have wonderful conversation. Then, there was this one hostage,
You see, I was down in the brig, to look for Zachary who had stayed on board to make sure none of our captives would escape. There are two brigs, one was added the year I joined the Widow with more room. The other was from when the Widow was first built by my Captain’s great grandmother or something like that…or was it just her mother? Either way, we had put the captured crew in the bigger brig and in the smaller one, sat their captain. Zachary was having a good time chatting in the more populated one so I took the liberty of walking into the smaller.
“Hey, you’re the one who let all of those barn animals loose through parliament, aren’t you?” A man with a scrunched smile had his arms through the bars of his cell and had weaved his arms and wrists through the cell door as he peered out at me. His trimmed hair was a light brown and his face was boxy with a wide forehead while his eyes, a darker shade of brown than his hair, were narrow like his nose.
“Yeah, you recognize me?” I asked, feeling a bit cocky. He responded with another question,
“White chapel girl, huh?”
“Boston,” I corrected.
“Sure, but you grew up in white chapel. I hear it in your voice.” He argued matter-of-factly, “I remember chasing you and lost you at Commercial and Fourier. You didn’t take long to lose me. No real foreigner knows the East End labyrinth that well. Annabelle Potter, right?”
“Arabella Porter,” I corrected him again, grabbing a bucket and taking a seat in front of the cell. “Ah yes," His face seemed to click in my memory, "I remember you now. So you’re the captain of the vessel we just took.” I said.
“Took it?” The man scoffed, “We practically gave it to you.”
“I’m not daft. No one gives up their ship to pirates.” I laughed.
“No, I mean I was outwitted by your captain.” He explained. I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms as I crossed my right leg over my left.
“Now listen,” I began, “all my captain told me to do was make sure to capture the air patrol ship that stopped us.” Their ship had been faster than ours and as my captain always said, “If you can’t run, fight.” I continued, “She’s brilliant but she lets me plan the attacks on the light stuff. All she told me was to make sure-“
“It didn’t get us arrested,” He finished my sentence, “Yeah, I got it. Shall I leave you alone to bask in your credit?” His arms loosened themselves from the bars as he pushed his sleeves up to his elbows, walked to the back of the small cell and sat against the wooden wall.
“I wouldn’t get snippy if I were you; you’re like a target range right now.” I stood up and slipped one arm through the bars, the other reaching for my revolver, slowly. The man grinned with closed eyes and let out an exhausted sigh,
“You’re not going to shoot me if you’ve taken me hostage, stupid girl,” He rang mockingly. “Try the intimidation tactic on my men though and they’ll cry like dogs,” He laughed folding his arms behind his head with one leg bent up and another stretching out straight. He was right, I was just intimidating him. My captain would make me walk the plank if I shot this man.
“You’re getting on my last nerve,” I warned him.
“Sniff some lavender and take a deep breath, Arabella Porter. Would you like to join me in my cell?” He opened one eye.
“Stop testing my intelligence,” I sat cross legged in front of his cell and slipped my hands through the bars again, holding onto them. “Sniff some lavender?” I asked. Closing his open eye and raising his eyebrows he explained,
“Lavender is a calming scent. If that doesn’t work on you then there’s always vanilla and-“
“Work on me?” I interrupted.
“Not you specifically. Some people take the scent of lavender as an energizer like lemon than a calmer like vanilla. I think it’s calming though. Please excuse me; I’m fascinated by aroma therapy.” There was a long moment of silence before he must have noticed the blank look painted across my face, “Do you have something to say?” the man asked.
“You’re strange…in a pathetic kind of way.” I said in thought. The sky captain scrunched his brow, sat up and rested his wrists on his now crossed legs.
“I beg your pardon?”
“What’s your name?”
“Thomas Dunning. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Porter,”
“Do me a favor Thomas Dunning and never call me that again.”
Two months later:
Dear Miss Porter,
I received your note in the office about the recent string of murders in Kensington. I want you to know that as much as I appreciate the help, I don’t think it appropriate for a pirate to be assisting our forensics department.
One month after that:
Police report number 26a: Buckingham Vandalism
A messy red painting has been found on the left wall of the hallways leading into the throne room of Buckingham palace of her majesty the queen committing what appears to be sodomy on what is labeled to be Captain Thomas Dunning. There is a message painted in red paint underneath reading,
"p.s Don’t call me miss porter.
See you in the sky,
Further investigations are to be continued...