Chapter 2

Upon arriving on the main deck, Rose was met immediately by Chull. "Captain, we are pulling the longboats in, there were no other survivors."

Rose was followed up the stairs by a still very confused and shaken Joseph Climmber. Chull noticed him and looked at the captain confusedly. She silenced him with a wave of her hand. "He has some use after all," she said quietly. Chull shrugged as he turned to face the same direction as Rose. Crewmen dashed past as they went about their many duties. Rat passed by looking at Joseph with astonishment, but said nothing. After thinking for a moment, Rose turned to Joseph.

"Joseph, if you are to remain on this ship you are going to need to learn to pull your own weight around here. You can temporarily be exempt from certain duties, but you are going to learn to sail."

Joseph nodded dumbly and swallowed hard.

"By day," Rose continued, "you will learn sailing skills and how to fight. Once dusk arrives you may write the task you have given yourself. If you being to neglect this task, there will be no warning, I will simply do with you what I had planned to do with you in the first place. Do I make myself clear?" She asked him, raising and eyebrow. Joseph nodded again and put his notebook and pencil into his jacket pocket. "Good." She said, turning back to the mass of sailors rushing about. Searching for a moment she found who she was looking for.

"Collins!" She shouted. A slender, but nevertheless well-built young man spun on his heels to see who had called him. Realizing it was Rose he saluted.

"Yes ma'am?" He asked.

As he was currently on the other side of the deck, Rose motioned for him to come over. He swiftly navigated his way through the crowd and stood before her.

"Ma'am?" he repeated with another salute.

"Collins, this is Joseph Climmber. He is new on board. Take him below, get him a proper bunk. Be back up here in ten minutes for further orders. He is your new apprentice. Any skill you know, you teach him, is that clear?" she asked.

Collins looked from her to Joseph and back, "yes ma'am, understood," he replied.

"Good. Go," she said nodding her head in the direction of the hatch and then looking past him. Collins threw a salute that Chull returned with only a wave of his hand. Collins looked at Joseph and nodded.

"Right, let's be off then. Only got ten minutes you know!" He said turning and bounding down the stairs followed by Joseph.

Rose turned to Chull, "Our current coordinates are lucky," she told him. Chull looked confused.

"Why?" He asked.

Rose turned to look out to the sea, "We need to go back." She replied. Chull still looked extremely confused but then it donned on him.

"Already? But we…" he as cut short by a wave of Rose's hand.

"It needs to happen. We need more crew, more rations, some reserve guns wouldn't hurt either. Supplies in general; something major is happening and we need to be ready." She said taking another look at the vast expanse of ocean in front of her.

Chull nodded, "Yes, ma'am," he said then turned to go have a word with the helmsman.

"Chull!" Rose called out, turning just her head.

He froze and turned around, "Yes ma'am?"

"Tonight, after dinner, please send master Climmber to my cabin," she said.

Chull nodded, "Yes ma'am." He said as he turned back to what he was about to do. Rose stood, looking thoughtfully over the sea.

Somewhere, she thought to herself, out there is a man who thinks he can defeat me. He has no idea what he is up against. She took a deep breath and smirked before returning to the lower decks and headed to her cabin.

After Joseph had gotten his hammock set up and everything was in order he went with Collins to start work. They started with what Joseph thought were menial tasks.

Joseph plopped his mop back into his bucket as he looked around at the numerous cannon on either side of him as he continued to mop the floor around them. He was only half listening to the story Collins was telling him of one of their many victories.

"So they could only sit there, defenseless in the water and wait as we boarded their sinking ship. She was getting visibly lower in the water as we set the planks across. We had no troubles at all making short work of the crew and passengers," Collins finished with a chuckle. Something from this story caught Joseph's attention.

"Passengers?" Joseph asked.

"Oh, aye, it was a passenger ship that we attacked. They have wonderful plunder, and the provisions are the finest on the seas!" Collins responded with a strange gleam in his eye.

"A passenger ship? You are telling me that you 'made short work' of unarmed passengers? That's horrible!" Joseph said rather appalled.

Collins looked at him for a moment then chuckled and motioned to the whole ship and looked back at Joseph. "Pirates!" was all he said with the same gleam in his eye and a smirk.

Joseph frowned for a moment, and then went back to mopping. After a minute he began nodding his head and said "Fair enough." Collins chuckled heartily and went back to mopping as well.

As Joseph mopped he noticed two open spaces. The groves on the floor indicated that there were, at one point, cannon there as well. He noticed char marks around one of the cannon doors and the other looked like it had been heavily repaired. Collins noticed what Joseph was looking at.

"Barrel burst," he said. Joseph looked at him, puzzled.

"I'm sorry, what?" He asked.

Collins pointed to the cannon port with the char marks. "That gun suffered a barrel burst. It blew up, you see. The poor blighters that ran that gun were too lazy to clean it after a battle, two days later we fought again and boom! Exploded, killing the whole gun crew and half the one next to it. Not even five minutes later the crew next to it suffered a direct hit, killing whoever was left. We lost many good men that day, but we made the enemy pay with their blood and their ship." He said attempting to suppress a chuckle with a cough.

As they continued mopping there were heavy footsteps on the stairs behind Collins.

"That would be mister Chull." Collins said quietly.

Sure enough, Chull walked to where they were. "Master Climmber, the captain would like to speak with you in her cabin," he said.

This made Joseph extremely nervous. He looked at Collins, who looked back at him.

"Now," Chull said.

"Yes sir!" Joseph said, leaning his mop against the wall and walking past Chull.

Upon reaching the captain's cabin, Chull knocked on the door and opened it, motioning for Joseph to enter.

Rose was standing over her table looking at the many charts and maps in front of her. Upon his entrance she looked up.

"Master Climmber, we need to have a word." She said nodding to Chull, who returned the nod and shut the door as he left. She then turned her attention back to Joseph. "How are you adjusting to the ship?" She asked.

"Quite well, actually. My seasickness was overcome during my weeks before my charter ship was attacked, so it is not difficult to work," Joseph said.

"Very good," she said as she organized the papers in front of her. Once everything was straightened on her desk she looked at Joseph sternly. "And how goes your project?" she asked.

Joseph looked confused, "Ma'am?" he started. "I haven't had any time yet. It was just this morning that we decided that I should write. I have been working the rest of the day," he finished.

"Good," she said as she nodded. "Joseph, there are certain things that cannot appear in your writings." She said. Joseph looked at her slightly puzzled. "For example, we are currently en route to the island." Joseph looked even more confused, but before he could ask a question Rose continued. "the name of this island differs from ship to ship and it isn't on any maps or charts. For now, its name aboard this ship is not important. What is important is that no mention of this island, or its location can make it into your manuscript, is that clear?" She asked.

Joseph thought for a moment, then realized Rose was staring at him expectedly. "Um, what purpose does this island serve, exactly?" He asked.

Rose tapped her finger on the desk looking un-amused.

Joseph cocked an eyebrow. "Master Climmber, when we arrive there you may go ashore and see for yourself; however its existence must never be alluded to in your writings for the safety of every ship sailing under the black flag. Is that clear?" Rose asked sternly.

Joseph could tell there was no use arguing this point, but before he could respond she added "If you push your luck and keep asking questions, you may wear out your usefulness. Tread lightly." She gave him a look of 'are we clear?'

Joseph nodded and managed to stutter out a 'yes ma'am' before being dismissed to return to his duties.