Whew! I’m cutting it close to the deadline with this day 3 post! But it’s before midnight, so I made it!
Without further ado, here’s a tale set in the Golden Age of Piracy. This is fairly poorly researched—just a quick read over Wikipedia—but I think since this is highly romanticized, we all should be okay!
CALICO JACK MEETS HIS MATCH
The year is 1720.
Calico Jack Rackham lies back on the sand of an island beach, a small fire crackling nearby. He listens to the sounds of his crew, arguing, drinking, laughing. They are a coarse lot, but he could ask for no better from a bunch of thieving oathbreakers. They have just stolen a ship from its berth in port and he has just stolen Ann Bonny from her husband.
His gaze finds her moving through the shadows on the other side of the fire. The orange light catches on the copper in her hair, and for an instant it looks as though her head is wreathed in flames. My lass, he thinks. Mine before she even knew it herself. Ann catches him staring and frowns, though her eyes betray her. A corner of his mouth lifts and he chuckles, knowing full well she likes to be looked upon. Calico Jack likes his women like he takes his liquor: strong and fiery, with one hell of a kick.
As she moves closer to him, some of the crew catch sight of her. She had dressed herself in a linen shirt and britches when she came aboard. Despite her manly garb, Ann made no pretense about her sex when she came aboard, save for the concession of binding up her long red hair. Her small breasts had been unbound, and she had not tried to disguise her voice. Now the slender man they had taken her to be has dissolved, and in the low light of the night she is unmistakably female.
“Eh, what’s this?” one of them calls, rising to his feet. He is not alone. Several others have also risen, some with their hands resting on the butts of their guns, the hilts of their swords.
“A woman,” someone says. Mutters spread around the campfire. Women at sea were thought to bring the storms down from the sky, calling the ocean waters in rebel. Calico Jack is well aware of this. He also puts little stock in superstition, regarding it as folly for the weak-minded. He is a man who makes his own fate.
“We’ll not be sailin’ with a wench aboard.” This time the speaker steps forward, his fist tight on the pommel of his scimitar. He is not an attractive man, even to Jack’s decidedly uninterested eyes. The man’s face seems to be more beard than anything else, and he stoops to one side. But his arms are thickly muscled, as any sailor’s should be, and the scowl crinkling what little can be seen of his brow looks fearsome. “Captain,” he continues, “we should get rid o’ her now.”
“I’d like to see ye try.” Ann herself responds, as Jack half-suspected she would. He feels a smile creep across his face as she yanks her sword from its scabbard with a ringing scrape of metal on metal. “C’mon, man,” she says. “Let’s see how this wench can fence.”
“I’ll not be crossin’ blades with a woman,” the man scoffs. “It wouldn’t be fair, seein’ as I have twice as many swords as ye!” He grabs his crotch, laughing loudly at his own joke. Some of the crew join in, and Calico Jack makes note of who they are. He wants to know how many fools he’s brought along to sail his ship.
Ann looks the man up and down. “Sword? More like a table knife, if ye ask me!”
His laughter stops abruptly and he draws his own blade. Jack shifts, moving to one knee should he need to intervene. He is the captain, and he will not have mutiny on his vessel, especially if Ann is not up to handle the trouble she seems to be creating. Saucy wench, he thinks to himself. I should have known ye’d be a firecracker.
“Well?” Ann asks. “Are ye afraid, wee lad? Afraid to lose to a girl?”
With a bellow of rage, the man charges forward, but Ann steps neatly to one side. The drink has made him unsteady on his feet, Jack sees. There is nothing but pleasure on Ann’s face as she raises her blade to engage her opponent. She handles the weapon clumsily, but her speed is what saves her. Ann is everywhere at once, slashing and smacking at the man’s sword. It is not long before she lands a solid blow and he loses his grip, the scimitar spinning away into the darkness.
Ann rests the tip of her sword in the hollow of his throat. The man is angry and panting, but he does not move. He knows he is beaten. Calico Jack smiles and settles back on his haunches. Ann was wasted on her husband, James Bonny.
“Do ye yield, sir?” she asks, breathless. Her hair is half over her face, making her look like a wild thing. Jack has never wanted a woman more.
“I yield,” he mumbles, and Ann lowers her blade but does not sheath it.
“Well?” She turns, addressing the rest of the crew. “Anyone else want a go? Any man here think I’m not as good as any o’ ye?” When no one moves, Calico Jack knows that Ann has earned her place. He will have no more trouble from this crew.
After another moment, Ann slips her weapon back into its scabbard. The quiet murmur of talk picks up again as she approaches him. The fire is at her back, outlining the silhouette of her body through the thin linen of her shirt. Jack takes her hand and pulls her down on the sand beside him, wrapping one arm securely around her waist. He tries to slip his hand up to cup her breast, but she slaps him away.
“That was well done, lass.”
“I know. Would ye have done it better yourself?”
“Nay,” he replies, and kisses the side of her neck. “Barely out of port and it looks like we’ve already made a pirate out o’ ye.”
Ann smiles, and with a wicked gleam in her eye, covers his mouth with her own.