It was a ship full of murderers. One-Eyed Kent, who killed ten women and fled the country before he could be caught; Shiny Penny, who looks fifteen but claims to be twenty, murdered her father.; Al, who hangs rats by their tails and drinks poison to build up his(more) immunity. The only thing that held his violent bunch together was the promise of gold.
The New World would have gold, they all knew. They had heard the stories that trickled back over the long months between expeditions. The dark-skinned barbarians who bathed in the blood of white men and wore gold shoes and hats. They knew they would have what it took to kill and steal. Shiny Penny already had a bit of gold that she took from her father--a gold coin. After supper, when the moon reflected on the water and the boat rocked steadily like a long-forgotten cradle, she would take it out and toss it in the air over and over. The men would watch entranced, falling asleep to the lullaby of gold.
But storms came and went, and the ship wanders, lost. The gold seems far away now, and large sections of the map are left blank. As priorities shift from gold and glory to food and water, relationships begin to form among the killers. The cook gives Al extra water every day, thanking him for keeping the ship free of rats. Thomas the Mute grew up by the sea and can catch fish. Shiny Penny is learning from him. One-Eyed Kent tells stories of beautiful women. He doesn't name them, but everyone knows that he killed them.
They also know that once land is sighted, the friendships will dissolve. Al will poison the cook, Shiny Penny will stab grown men. They only thirst for gold.(less)
Dawn arrives infused with liminality. Streets, lamp posts, cars, trees, early risers all shed the cloak of darkness, the frost of a world asleep, to become... what? Faint outlines thrust against the more-blue-now-than-indigo sky, silhouettes that have not quite taken shape, and so could take any shape. Is that(more) a tree top, or a steeple? A yearning, or an itch? Love, or idolization? Was it born of compatibility or loneliness?
Stillness stretches her arms around the city and touches each thing in turn. The sun climbs. Forms solidify. Flowers, who held so tightly to themselves before the sun answered their thirst for gold light, begin to relax and wake. Possibilities shrink back into the shadows and river bottoms and unmarked doors and other places that hold fast to the in-between during the day. When the hours turn, twilight invites them out to play once more.(less)
"Nah, we're not really strapped for money." Yasha wiped her brow, sweat sliding down her fingers before she flicked it away. "Damnit all it's hot..." Just looking at Sai made them groan.
"The captain goes on a lot of solo 'missions' or whatever." Quinn added, fanning himself to(more) Yves' left. "And Katsu's master generously donates to our 'cause'."
"Katsu's master?" Yves' brow quirked. Katsu answered to someone besides the captain?
"His cooking teacher. He sends us supplies and ingredients, you know." Oh yeah. That would explain how Katsu could make them bi-monthly feasts. "Plus, big brother Belle has been able to tap into his kingdom's treasury."
"And his status in some regions still wins him hefty favors, since they don't acknowledge or know about his exile." Yasha rested her head on the wheel between the handles, still steering like normal. "The doctor collects tabs, too, at basically any place we dock..."
'Extortion...!' Yves thought with a shiver, remembering the last time he went with Shinmaru to look in on a 'patient'. "So then, why... piracy?"
"Why not?" Quinn and Yasha echoed each other. They blinked, then grinned. Yasha continued, "A lot of us just don't have the motivation to try anything else. This is easy to us. Some of us would be a lot worse off if we weren't here."
"Well, we wouldn't be out in the heat if we were somewhere else." Yves joked. Quinn and Yasha shared a laugh with him, then all three simultaneously groaned.
"Thanks for remind us."
Sai scoffed down at them from the upper bridge rail, where she sat in her full skirts as usual.
"Weaklings." It was too hot for a retort. "Although I'll give you credit for lasting this long."