A/N: Dedicated to my friend Don't ask-It's bad on fan fiction dot net, and the storyline based off a role play we do together. :) Just as a note, this is not really being written for the sake of historical correctness. It's really just for fun, so if I mess something up historically, feel free to point it out, as I'm not really looking things up as I go. XD Also, please pardon the language used (not meaning the cursing, although there is some of that- this is rated T, people!) since the modern style I used is, in my opinion, easier to understand than "Dis 'ere pirate accent dat most o' de pirates 'ave in de role play an' used ta 'ave in de original version o' de story."

Disclaimer-y type device: A few of Tolkien's languages (mainly Sindarin, Quenya and the Black Speech) will be used in this story. I do not claim to own them, nor am I earning any money off this story, so please don't sue me. O_o

Corinthia Gallagher leaned up against the mast of the enormous black brigantine, staring disdainfully at the work being carried out below her. A pair of filthy, ragged pirates were rolling a large barrel up a ramp, moving it slowly towards the hold.

"Hurry up, lazy bums! The captain wants to be outta here by sundown- unless you want to face the marines, that is." At the mention of the royal military, the two moved faster. It wasn't so much the military itself that concerned them- it was Cori's mention of it that was concerning. The brutal first mate was known for her aggressive demeanor and short temper. One wrong move could send her into a rage, and often times send crew members into the ocean with a cannon ball tied to their leg. Tossing slow workers to the marines would not be the worst of her infamous punishments.

Her ferocity was mainly based off of her gender- had she been a male, making it to first mate would have been far easier. As the only woman aboard the Black Phoenix, she was forced to work twice as hard as every man to gain even the slightest scrap of respect. It probably helped that Captain Walker had adopted her, raising the fiery young girl as his own daughter, but Cori refused to believe the rumor, insisting that it had all been due to her hard work- and especially her seemingly natural skill with a cutlass.

It had taken many, many years of practice, of course. Cutlass fighting was not a skill that one was born with. For her first three years aboard the ship, she had begged Captain Walker for lessons, and he finally agreed when she was eleven years old. The girl had trained for hours every single day, determined to be the best there was. At age 26- almost 27, as she would insist, as it was only one month until her birthday- Corinthia Gallagher was known for being the best cutlass fighter in the Caribbean- besides her teacher, Captain Walker. Grudging respect had been gained for the notorious first mate, despite her gender, and she was determined to keep it that way.

"Miss Cori! Miss Cori! Hurry; there's something down here ya need to see!" Instantly alert, the first mate's sharp gray eyes scanned the busy decks, searching for the source of the call. She finally recognized it as a tall, thin pirate named Rob. He was waving frantically at her from the top step that led to the hold. Cori leaped down from her spot, landing on the deck with a thud.

"What's going on?" She demanded, taking the steps two at a time.

"There's- well, it's sort of a situation in the hold, Miss Cori," he told her hesitantly. "You should see it for yourself." She made a disgusted sound in the back of her throat, shoving Rob aside as she strode through the hold. A small group of men were clustered around a pile of flour sacks.

"Move aside!" She ordered, pushing past a few of the pirates. She stared down at the sight, frowning at first, and then grinning in a sort of strange amusement. "Well, well. What have we here? A stowaway, it would seem." The petite young girl stared at her in terror, her brown eyes going wide.

"We found her asleep on the flour sacks, Miss Cori," a fat man named Mr. Gable informed her. She nodded.

"Well, obviously you found her on the flour sacks. She wouldn't have moved much, now would she? You, girl! What's your name?" The girl didn't speak.

"Answer the first mate!" Gable growled, jabbing at her with the mop he held.

"Hey! Don't touch her!" Cori snapped, shoving the broom into Gable's chest. He grunted in pain and stumbled backwards. "I do the interrogating on this ship, not you. All of you, get back to work! That cargo had all better be loaded by the time the sun sets, otherwise you're all getting fed to the sharks!" The crew hurried from the hold.

Cori turned back to the girl. "I asked you a question, girl. Answer me. What is your name?" No response. "What, can't talk?" No response. The woman threw her hands up in exasperation. "Can you understand me at all?" She got a tiny nod from the girl. "Well … that's a start, I guess … you get to make a choice now. Either you get off my ship, or- well, okay then." The girl had shaken her head furiously at the mention of returning to shore. "You'll have to come with me, then. No, I won't really feed you to the sharks," she added in annoyance. "It's just to my room, which is probably the only safe place for females aboard this thrice damned ship. Every male here's insistent that they can do better than I can … pfft, if I was captain, this'd be a crew entirely of females, and we'd be the most notorious ship on the sea."

The young girl had merely stared at her throughout the entire rambling "speech," and Cori suddenly snapped back to reality. "I shouldn't have told you that. Come on, let's get going." Roughly, she pulled the girl to her feet. "Welcome aboard the Black Phoenix, kid. This pirate ship is the most notorious in the world. I think you'd better stick with me; the rest of the crew'd probably tear you to pieces." The girl's expression was one of pure terror, and Cori laughed. "I'm kidding! No one does any tearing to pieces without my say-so aboard here. Being first mate does have its perks." The woman laughed loudly as she climbed up the stairs, pulling the girl with her.

The child was beginning to really wish she'd hid on another ship.