He waved to get the attention of his men at the ropes… 


            Heart soaring, he whipped his gaze to an alley and saw Andrea and Gillian burst out of it, sprinting at top speed towards the ramp and Andrea yelling bloody murder. 

"Where the hell have you been, you crazy bitch?!  We're in deep shit because of you!!!" he bellowed at her, half furious and half overjoyed. 

"Idon'tcareI'mgonnakillyouanyway!" she screamed back, dragging a frantic Gillian along by the hand.  Just as they cleared the final stretch to the ramp, the first dozen soldiers thundered onto the wooden dock.  The very second the girls' feet touched the deck, the two gypsies at the ramp hauled it in as quickly as they could.  One and then two more soldiers leaped at it, the first landing halfway and the others catching on by their fingernails.  The gypsies staggered from the weight. 

"No, no, drop it!  Drop it, you idiots!" Gabriel yelled, running down to the main deck, "Everybody slice the ropes!"  With mischievous, apologetic grins at the soldiers, the two gypsies let go of the wooden ramp, dumping it (and the three soldiers) into the harbor.  The moorings were severed in a few slashes, and the soldiers tying to climb them were also dropped in. 

            Two of the younger gypsies, twins named Shane and Seamus, put an arm on each other's shoulder and danced in mockery of the floundering soldiers.  The said flounderers shouted curses at them and got red in the face, desperately clinging to the wooden ramp so as not to sink in their armor. 

"Thieving witch!!!  I'll have you arrested and hanged!!!"  Gillian curiously looked back at the dock and saw the man that had lost at Andrea's game. 

"Hey look, it's your friend!" she laughed, pointing at the angry man, "He must've told the soldiers on you for making him lose!"  Andrea snorted in humorous disdain. 

"Ha!  What a moron, getting all sore over a few coins.  He was cheap, too!"  Having reached the main deck, Gabriel paused in front of Andrea.  She looked right back at him, a guilty half-smirk on her face. 

"So… are you mad at me?"  Gabriel blinked a few times before speaking. 

"Yes, for getting Gillian in danger.  You are the craziest woman I've ever met!"  Gabriel hugged Andrea hard and shamelessly kissed her.  Gillian rolled her eyes and went to join the twins, trying not to listen to their argument-that-wasn't-really-an-argument. 

"If I'm crazy for that then you dumb for not casting off!" 

"If I'm dumb for not casting off then you're stupid for making me!"  Tuning out the lovebirds entirely, Gillian carefully stood on tiptoe and put a hand over each of the twins' eyes. 

"Guess who!" she giggled. 

"Hm… Napoleon Bonaparte?" Shane wondered aloud.  Seamus elbowed him in the ribs. 

"No, you twit, it's the god Bacchus, here with that wine he promised!" 

"Oh no, no, I think it's Leonardo da Vinci!" 

"Or the Empress of China, perhaps?"  Gillian laughed and took her hands off their eyes, and they turned and hugged her at the same time. 

"You guys!" 

"Ah, we were both wrong!  It's Gillie the Pirate Queen!" Seamus exclaimed, spinning her around.  Shane snatched her from his brother by the waist, making her shriek with laughter. 

"Moron!  Can't you see this is Her Highness the Princess of Rouges?" 

"Come on guys, that's enough!  I'm getting dizzy, let me go!"  Shane put her down and both of them quickly kissed her on opposite cheeks. 

"See, we told you to let us go find Andrea!" Seamus insisted.  Shane nodded in agreement.  Gillian briefly looked back at the enraged man on the docks, who had now become a tiny jumping speck.  They'd made it out of the harbor. 

"Yeah?  Well I can handle anything you two can!" she said in a singsong voice, heading for the stairs below deck. 

"Yeah, just barely!" they yelled after her in unison.