Author: A couple of things before this story gets underway. The main character in this story is NOT in anyway a self-insertion of myself, but he is a very special character, like a good number of those I write about are. Been working on him for a few years now, creating and sanding down the rough patches to make him a good character. I may still have some work to do, but this is a CHARACTER, not MYSELF. The only reason the name is nearly identical to my pen name, is that I needed one for this site and I couldn't think of anything else.
Also, while this is a one-shot, I do have more planned for him in the future, so if you guys like him in this, then I know the other stories will be enjoyed as well! Hopefully, anyway, LOL. Remember to leave a review, but no flames! Lastly, took me FOREVER to think of a title, and if I come up with a better one, then I'll change it.
The island had always been the base of operations to the infamous pirate crew of Captain Thunder. It was small and remote, so hardly anyone could find it even with the help of a map, and it had bountiful food and space to live on. It was an island with a heavy jungle surrounding most of the island's outer perimeter and a single mountain sitting in the middle of said jungle, stretching along most of the length of the island. Anchored on one side of the island, in the shallow waters and the white sandy beach in sight, sat the Phoenix, a four-masted galleon armed with demi-culverin cannons and carrying the figurehead of a beautiful maiden on it's bow. One of the masts flew two black flags: one that carried a skull and crossbones, the mark of The Brotherhood and one that carried a mark that resembled a bird's head, painted white; the personal mark of Captain Thunder.
Captain Thunder was an older man, past the beginning of middle-age, with a head of silvery white hair and a rugged, weathered face. He was getting on in his years, but people who knew of him knew that he was a mighty force regardless of his age. He had been captain of the Phoenix for decades and had seen much on the Seven Seas; the steel prostheses he wore on his left leg and his right arm were proof of that. His left leg, specifically the part below his knee, had been gone for years now, and in it's place he wore a shining device that resembled a peg-leg. His right arm, from the elbow down, had been lost at the same time as his leg, but instead of a simple replacement, he carried a more complex device; a prosthesis that resembled a gauntlet that he wore strapped to his torso to help counter the heavy weight. It and the leg were creations of one of his more loyal and gifted underlings. Amazingly, he could use the metal hand he wore almost as well as a real hand, with moving fingers and everything.
Old Thunder stood on the beach, watching his crew resupply the ship as they prepared to ship off for another voyage while a light wind blew his hair about his face. He brushed away the locks with his artificial hand and looked at the sky. They had been blessed with good weather lately; no sign of storm clouds anywhere on the horizon, the winds were fair and the waters seemed serene. He nodded at the conditions and looked forward to a fine trip. If things kept up, they would be able to leave in a few days time, given that they would have no trouble.
Thunder turned slightly to a tall man that was making his way towards him. It was another one of his more loyal subordinates. "Mr. Adams, what's yer trouble?"
Bishop Adams was a terrifying brute with a terrifying appearance. He was a figure whose visage had been horribly burned in an incident years past and although he was lucky enough to have survived, he was now forced to carry the scars of the flames that nearly took his life. His face was hairless, another result of the fire, and his mouth, though burned, was still capable of speaking understandable words. However, his appearance was not the only reason why people feared him. The other and more honest reason why he was so feared was the cat o'nine tails whip that he wore on his waist. He was the boatswain of the Phoenix.
"It's the whelp, Cap'n," Bishop said coldly.
Thunder sighed. "What's he done now?" he asked calmly.
"He's out of control!" the boatswain exclaimed. "He doesn't obey orders, he's ignoring his duties and he's showing total disrespect to the rest of the crew, especially ye, Cap'n!"
"Where is he now?"
"I haven't seen him around, but I heard that he's gone off to the range."
Thunder nodded. "That makes sense. That boy always did find some comfort down there. Is he alone?"
"No sir. Benor's with him, as ye ordered."
"Cap'n, if ye plan on going to collect him," Bishop's hand moved for his whip, "I'll come with ye, so that I can-"
"No, Mr. Adams, that won't be necessary," Thunder said dismissively. "Let him blow off that steam of his and wait for him to return. He's angry and he thinks he has a right to be, so we'll just wait and when he does return, then we'll punish him."
Bishop scowled. "Beggin' yer pardon, Cap'n, but ye're too soft on the whelp."
Thunder merely shrugged. "If ye don't agree with my decision, Mr. Adams, then feel free to use that anger ye're not using on him and use it on the rest of the crew. I'm sure that they could use the extra motivation."
As his boatswain stormed to the rest of the crew, pulling the whip from his waist and barking orders, Thunder stayed in his spot on the beach. Over the wind and the sound of waves crashing, he could just hear the sound of gunshots in the distance.
The range was a stretch of land inside the jungle of the island where the crew would go and practice their marksmanship. Here, fruit, empty bottles, unused pots and metal cans would be either strung up on rope to hang from trees or placed on a long wooden post to be used as targets. Some targets were made up of heavy sacks filled with sand tied to standing posts with faces drawn on them to represent living targets.
A small man sat on the side of the range. He was a very small, stocky man with a bare scalp and a bushy beard, dressed in a grubby shirt, equally grubby trousers that were held up by a pair of suspenders and a pair of leather boots that were caked with sand. He had a pipe between his lips, and every few seconds, he'd take a puff of the tobacco inside and exhale great blue smoke through his nostrils. He was watching the boy who was firing off round after round into the targets.
The boy, a young man of eighteen or nineteen years of age, was a handsome figure with a tanned complexion and a head of dark red hair. He was slender, but had a muscular build, and a wicked scar over his left eye. It was a souvenir of his younger years, which ran from his eyebrow down to his cheek. He was dressed similarly to the little man, minus the suspenders over his sun bleached trousers and instead wore a vest over his light cotton shirt. In his hands, he carried a pair of strange pistols. Like many pirates and sailors, they were in the style of flintlocks, but unlike the standard flintlocks, these carried large chambers that could each carry six shots instead of just one. They were also silver-toned and they shined in the sunlight when they moved.
The gunshots that Thunder were hearing on the beach were coming from this young gunslinger. Scowling, the boy fired shot after shot at different targets. He had hoped to knock cans off the post, to shatter both fruit and bottles and to put so many holes into the sack dummy that all the sand would come pouring out, emptying it in less than a minute. However, he only got one or two hits; the other ten shots had sailed by or come short of their intended targets.
The tiny man lowered his pipe when the boy was beginning to reload. "Ye shouldn't really be shooting when ye're angry, lad," he warned very casually. "It'll mess with yer aim."
"I don't need shooting advice from ye, Bolk!" the boy snapped before raising the gun in his right hand, aiming at the targets. "I'm the damn Silver Slinger, I can shoot just fine without advice from a gnome!"
Bolk Benor shook his head. "I don't see why ye keep calling yerself 'The Silver Slinger', Linc, no one else calls ye that."
Lincoln Roc, or Linc as he preferred because he hated his full name, kept his eyes focused on the remaining targets ahead of him. "Every major pirate in the Brotherhood has a nickname, Benor, an epithet to which they are associated with. I like the Silver Slinger and I want it to catch on. I want people to call me that when I get famous."
The gnome snorted and began to laugh. "Ye? Become famous, lad?"
Linc lowered the pistol and turned to him. "Is that so hard to believe, Bolk?"
"Nay," Bolk replied, shaking his head. "I just don't see how ye would make it in this world with yer current attitude."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
The little man looked at him coolly. "Lad, why are ye so angry right now?"
"Ye know why."
"Aye, but I want ye to say it."
Linc took a look at the targets downrange, then holstered his weapons. "I'm angry because we were robbed of something precious, but no one's doing a damn thing about it!"
Bolk smiled beneath his beard. The boy was only half-right; something was stolen, but it was only Linc who had been robbed, not the whole crew. It was true, however, that Thunder wasn't doing anything about it, and that just added fuel to the fire. The gnome took his pipe into his mouth and began to smoke again. "Ye were the one who has lost something, lad, don't ye go and rope us all into the same lot as ye."
"I don't understand this!" the boy cried. "We're pirates, aren't we? Aren't we, Bolk?"
"Aye, lad, we are," he said calmly, nodding.
"Then why in blazes aren't we going out, hunting down those who wronged us?" Linc demanded. "We're pirates! Thieves! Sea-wolves! People warn other people not to cross us. If someone does something against all of us or even one of us, we should go after them! But no, Old Thunder won't have it. He doesn't give a damn about it, he'd just try and keep me on a short leash in the aftermath!"
Bolk shook his. "Ye're not an animal, lad."
"I certainly feel like one!" Linc exploded. "Ever since that bastard, who we decided to show pity on after he had been stranded, made off with my treasure, Thunder's been keeping me under watch! What's he afraid of?" He pulled one of his guns back out and emptied the chamber in a rapid-fire succession, but again, none of his bullets hit their mark. "DAMMIT!"
Bolk merely puffed smoke as he watched the boy vent his frustration. "I can't imagine, lad," he lied. "I really can't."
When Linc returned to the Phoenix, Bishop was the one to greet him and Bolk on the gangplank. He had a grim smile on his face, which didn't exactly improve his appearance. He looked down at Bolk, jerked his head backward and said, "Benor, why don't ye join the others in their workload?" He looked back at Linc. "The boy and I have business to attend to."
Bolk glanced up at the young pirate. "Lad-"
"Now, Benor," Bishop snapped.
The gnome murmured something, patted Linc on the leg and waddled away to join the others.
"Well!" Linc crossed his arms and his own smile crossed his face. He and Bishop had a long, unique history on the crew; Bishop was one of the few people on the Phoenix that Linc actually feared, especially since it was because of Linc that the boatswain was scarred for life and hairless. However, with recent events and the anger inside, Linc didn't give a damn about Bishop. "What business are we talking about?"
"Ye know exactly what business, ye little cuss." Bishop's hand shot outward and locked the back of Linc's neck into a vice-grip. Linc gave a small cry from the hold. "Ye've pissed off a lot of people here, boy and it's about damn time ye paid yer dues!" He began to drag Linc along the length of the ship, disarming him of his pistols as they walked.
As Bishop escorted Linc around the ship, Bolk approached Thunder. The pirate captain was watching from a higher level on the deck, just outside of his quarters. Thunder didn't even turn to face the gnome as the little man hurried towards him.
"I know what ye're going to try and do, Bolk, but I'm not going to call him off." Thunder's voice was slow and stony. "The boy needs to learn."
Bolk sighed. "I'm not disagreeing with ye, Captain, but-"
"If ye're not disagreeing with me, Mr. Benor, then what, pray tell, are ye here to do exactly?" Thunder asked.
"I'm here to watch."
"Is that so?" Thunder reached down, plucked the gnome by the back of his shirt with his mechanical hand and hoisted him onto the railing next to him, granting him a good view of Bishop strapping Linc to one of the masts with thick rope. "Then enjoy the show."
Linc tested his bondage. He had been tied to this same mast time and time again in the past when he first joined the crew and he carried the scars of those times on his back. They had healed over the years, but he knew that Bishop was about to give him a new set. "Alright, Adams, let's get this over with."
Bishop unhinged his whip from his waistline. "Yer awfully eager to get hit by the cat, boy."
"The sooner we can take care of this, the sooner we can get just back to work."
"Work?" Bishop gave a short, dry laugh. "Boy, ye haven't done any work in days, not since ye let that thief steal yer precious little-"
"I didn't let him do anything!" Linc hissed angrily. "He came, he stole, and he got away, that's it! I didn't let him do one damn thing!"
"No, ye let him do plenty." Bishop's rough hand connected with the back of his head, forcing the boy's head to go forward and smack against the mast. Linc was barely able to stifle the painful cry. Bishop only smiled and grabbed his hair, forcing his head back so that he would be forced to look up at the sky. "Ye let down yer guard around him. Ye showed him yer favorite thing and where ye kept it and ye didn't even bother to hide it from him when ye slept!"
"Mr. Bishop!" Thunder called from above. "Are ye going to carry out the punishment, or are we going to have time for afternoon tea and cakes while we wait?"
The men standing around the two of them laughed at their captain.
Bishop took a practice swing or two with his whip. "Starting now, Cap'n! Fifty lashes before the mast."
Linc craned his neck back. The arrogant look was gone and had been replaced by disbelief and fear. "Fifty for not doing work? Isn't that a little extreme?!"
"It's not just the slacking off that ye're guilty of, boy," Bishop said casually, walking to what his whipping spot. "Ye've done a lot more than ignore labor."
"Like what?" Linc demanded just before Bishop threw the first lashing. The youth snapped his jaws shut and pressed himself against the mast. He couldn't remember the last time he had felt the sting of Bishop's whip, but the familiar pain came back right then.
"Like what, ye ask?" Bishop inquired. He looked to the others. "Gentlemen, why don't ye all speak of yer complaints towards the pup?" As the other shipmates began to call out other crimes that earned him fifty lashings, Bishop continued his beating.
"He's out of control!" shouted one.
Another one yelled: "He's like a wild dog!"
A third one: "Bastard broke my nose!"
A fourth: "I still can't see straight out of my eye!"
Thunder and Bolk listened to both the crew's shouts and the cracks of Bishop's whip as it cut into Linc's back. The boy's shirt had been pulled down so he could feel the pain raw, so that the cloth wouldn't slow down or absorb the force of the whip. The two of them watched as, gradually, over the punishment given to him, Linc began to show signs of being broken. The boy had been angry for days now, but now, under the pain of Bishop's favorite toy, the anger was slipping away and being replaced with agony.
Eyes burning and watering, Linc slumped against the mast, listening to each grievance aimed towards him. So what if everyone had a problem with him lately? He had problems with the whole damn lot of them: constant insults, his meals (which had recently become much smaller in proportions) had been stolen from him by the others as they mocked him for losing his treasure to some no-name thief, these were just to name a few.
He suffered all kinds of abuse, but what happened? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. While he was ridiculed and pushed about, Thunder and the senior officers did nothing about it. It made him so angry that not only was he denied a chance to avenge himself and to regain his pride, but he was put through Hell and no one came to his aide. Not even Bolk, who he could see out of the corner of his eye, had stepped in and helped him. He wasn't a crewmate to these people anymore, he was a prisoner. He was a jester, a fool that people could target and make life miserable for them so they could suffer in silence. Yes, he brawled, but they deserved it. They all deserved it after all of that.
When the punishment was over, he was close to crying, but he wouldn't give them, Bishop especially, the satisfaction. Bishop rubbed his shoulder and grunted, "Fifty lashes in all." He turned and looked up at Thunder. "Cap'n, with yer permission, I'd like to keep going. I don't think he's learned!"
Thunder raised an eyebrow. "Fifty lashes isn't enough, Mr. Adams? What do ye propose? A hundred? Two hundred?"
"No, Cap'n, I don't think lashes are going to get the point across. I think he needs an extra push."
Bolk looked to Thunder, who was scratching his chin. "I think he's learned," he said quietly.
"Perhaps," Thunder murmured, "but that boy's stubborn as an ass, tough like one, too." He lowered his hand and cleared his throat loudly, drawing the attention of everyone who weren't already looking up at him. "Boy! Can ye hear me?" he called out.
Linc held his tongue, but he turned his head to him and nodded.
"Good, because I have something that needs to be said." Thunder focused his gaze on the boy and the boy alone. "I know what ye're thinking now and what ye've been thinking these past days. Ye were a victim of robbery and ye wish to hunt down the thief who stole from ye and make him pay for what he did. Normally, I would have no quarrel with that, after all we of The Brotherhood are known for committing acts of vengeance.
"Ye're angry that I have denied ye this opportunity, as well as forcing ye to be in the company of at least one other person. Do ye know why I do that?"
Linc only glared hatred at the man.
"Ye are angry, but ye are also young and foolish. Ye are the youngest member of my crew and also have the least amount of experience. What ye do know is only a small amount of what it means to be a pirate. A pirate must be smart," he reached up and tapped his temple with a metal finger, "meaning that they must think carefully. Anger clouds judgment and prohibits clear thinking. If ye were to go off by yerself, angry as ye are now, ye would no doubt do something incredibly foolish and either find yerself with either a bullet in yer head, a blade in yer chest, or beaten to death and left to float in the seas.
"I know what has been happening to ye as a result of the robbery. The food, the theft of yer food, the insults and what not. Do ye know why I haven't done anything about these things or why I never sent Mr. Adams or Mr. Benor to help ye?" He leaned forward. "It is because they are yer problems, boy! To live a pirate's life is to face all kinds of problems on a daily basis, so ye must deal with them! Men have acted wild like ye have, but it has never really amounted to anything more than reputations of being butchers or violent scoundrels.
"I will not tolerate that sort of uncontrolled behavior on my crew!" he bellowed. "We are pirates, but unlike most of our brethren on the seas, we have rules! A code of honor! We do what we must to survive, to help one another, but we do not act as wild animals. Now, since I have spoken my piece on these matters, I have only one question for ye now, boy: will ye leave this matter with this man Axe and his crime against ye be?"
"Never!" Linc shouted to him. "I'll never let that go, Captain! Do to me what ye will, but I am going to hunt that bastard down and I will make him pay!"
Thunder sighed heavily and turned away from the sight and his men. "Mr. Adams, do what ye wish." He walked away and headed into his quarters.
Bolk did not follow. He stayed on his spot on the railing and watched as Bishop ordered two deckhands to bring a large barrel of something towards him and Linc. He didn't need to actually see what was inside to know what was about to happen; he had seen Bishop use this advanced punishment before after he had whipped certain troublemakers on the ship. The barrel was full of vinegar and aside from the lingering odor, vinegar wasn't really something to worry about. However, when poured onto fresh and open wounds...
The order was given and the entire barrel was dumped onto Linc's bare back. The boy who had used every bit of strength and willpower he had to keep from screaming out and crying like mad, screamed at the top of his lungs when the wave of liquid crashed against his bare and bloody back. He collapsed and writhed, screaming curses and crying rivers as his back was engulfed with agonizing pain.
Bishop came in quickly and swiftly kicked him in the side. "Feels like yer on fire, doesn't it, boy?" Linc recoiled from the blow and hugged the mast, as if he were trying to find safety in the piece of lumber. "This is what happens to pups who don't do as their told and who don't obey their elders!" He gave him another kick, this one earning a pitiful whimper. The grim smile returned to his face before he looked up at the crew. "Someone drag this jackass down below so he can suffer through this and be out of our way. No one and I mean no one," he turned and looked up at Bolk, "is to help him. No food and no bandages until he decides to smarten up and try to make amends for his crimes against the crew."
That night, his back burning, Linc lay in the dark belly of the Phoenix. Alone, hidden away from the eyes of the crew, Linc broke down completely. He cried not just because of the pain he felt on his back, but because of the pain he felt inside. He had done what he can to keep it together on deck, but even the crying he did now was nothing like he had before. The crying from earlier was because of the pain of his punishment, it was natural to show that weakness when great pain entered one's body, but his crying now was the full force of the misery he felt. He was hurt, left alone to suffer, and he was still under the control of Thunder and his men. He had gone through all of that, shown them what he believed and how he felt, and they still treated him like that. He cried himself to sleep that night.
The next day, his tears had dried and the anger had subsided, and soon enough, he would apologize to Thunder and the others and get back to working. However, that would not be the end of it; after he had woken up and calmed down, a plan had began to form in Linc's mind. He was going to escape this hell that kept him prisoner, because even if he apologized, he knew that they would keep him here. He'd bide his time and when the right opportunity came, he would execute his plan. Soon, he was going to be a free man and able to track down the man who robbed him.
All he had to do was wait.