Prologue

Moxie

The name's Moxie.

Welcome to The Phoenix. This is my dad's ship. My twin sister Roxie and I live here.

We have our own room here, between our parents' and the sailors bedrooms. Our quarters are large, with two rope hammocks. The blankets and pillows are velvet, the highest luxury we can afford.

It's a nice ship, but a pirate can't keep on sailing her father's boat. It's unprofessional. On me and Roxie's twelfth birthday, our father will retire from the pirate business and The Phoenix will be ours.

But why wait until we're twelve? Roxie and I have been famous across the seven seas since we were five, stole our first treasure and broke the record for world's youngest pirates. That being the polite term for "youngest people to attempt piracy and come back alive."

What can I say? We've have been training for piracy since day one. We were even born on The Phoenix.

Of course, even the fiercest pirates have homes other than their ships. Our home is an little island on the coast. We have a little hut there, and Roxie and I can go to school.

The Academy for Learning Pirates (ALP) is a good school, if a bit easy. Our friend Max goes there, too- he's a pirate in training. He isn't advanced enough to go on real missions yet, but he will be someday. Rox and I help him train.

Rox and I are top of our class, but we wouldn't be if we didn't work together. Roxie is the ambition of our duo- she has a photographic memory, and if we find a treasure map, she will know which sea, which island, and which tree the buried the treasure in, even if it doesn't clearly state it on the map.

I'm the cunning of our team- I can be very persuasive when I want to be.

So it's my job to get whoever is guarding the treasure away (or else steal it from under their nose). Because who in their right mind would bury treasure and leave it unguarded?

But Rox and I don't do it alone. When we were five, six, and seven, our Yellow Lab- a pup named Scurvy- helped us on our missions. On our eighth birthday we had a celebratory heist. Scurvy came along and lost his leg. Now Scurvy has a peg leg and does his work more undercover.

For our ninth birthday we each got a pet parrot- mine red, Roxie's purple. They act as carrier pigeons- sometimes sending letters to Max about our journeys, sometimes delivering spooky messages to our enemies. Oh, and they're good for shouting, "Marina stinks!" at our rival from the Academy. We named them Ruby and Amethyst.

Life was going fine for us- two eleven-year-olds, famous pirates. We hadn't been on a heist in a long time. We were having fun at the Academy. But one day our life took an unexpected turn in the wrong direction.

Don't say I didn't warn you…