A Second Chance: Part Nine
Several minutes passed by, and already the battle on board of the Black Pawkeet had become brutal. Jane managed to conceal her presence by ducking behind barrels and other objects on the deck, carefully studying the pirates battling—their clashing cutlasses, their gritting teeth, the magnitude of each sides' motivation. However, Jane could see very clearly that Garin's crew was a small one, but brave and fierce, while their opponents, frighteningly huge and burly pirates with brute strength, attacked with ruthlessness. Despite her mounting fear, she searched for the ship's doctor, Gwen, who cared for her when she was ill. Jane dreaded to call her name and be found out by the cruel pirates.
Oh, Abigail, what I wouldn't give if I could see you right now, Jane thought to herself.
Quickly the long-legged Aisha slinked across the deck and climbed her way up to the helm where Captain Garin fought multiplying foes when Malcolm appeared climbing atop the Black Pawkeet's railing, his black cloak soaking wet and clinging to his fur as he hoisted Abigail, who climbed up behind him, to the deck. Both of them were breathing heavily from the horrifying swim of dodging cannonballs and fighting against the tide.
Abigail collapsed in exhaustion to the deck as she coughed up salt water from her lungs. Malcolm glanced around the battlefield, automatically noticing how small the Black Pawkeet's crew was. He shook his head in shock and pity. "My crew was just about the same size... they'll never drive them off," he muttered.
"Then... what was the point to come aboard the Pawkeet if they're doomed?" Abigail asked after a shaky heavy breath.
"There's only one way for victory," Malcolm replied and slowly produced a long, sharp dagger. "It's to take revenge... on the captain."
Abigail's eyes widened as she staggered to her feet and grabbed Malcolm's arm. "Malcolm, you can't be serious to taking on Gunpowder!"
"Abigail, that heartless, bloodthirsty pirate stripped everything away from me! This crew will die just like mine did if I don't try to do something!" Malcolm replied, gazing into Abigail's eyes. "I need you to head below where you'll be safe."
Abigail gazed at him in disappointment. "You care more about seeking revenge than finding my Jane, don't you?"
"No," Malcolm insisted, raising his voice above the battle and dragging her to the cabin door that was ajar slightly. "This is no place to argue! Just go, please!"
"Fine," Abigail spat with an angry look. And with that, she pried the door open and vanished.
Malcolm shut his eyes for a moment angrily, questioning himself if what he was doing was right. Nevertheless, a sea battle wasn't a time or place to contemplate deeply, for a member of Gunpowder's crew attacked him fiercely as he blocked with his sword.
Jane stumbled, startled from sudden cannon fire nearby as her ear throbbed. A few frustrated tears had streamed down her dirty face.
"Gwen!" she screamed hopefully, but her strained voice was drowned out by the metallic ring of cutlasses, the boom of cannons, and the fall of wounded pirates. She could see Jacques lying on the floor in pain, in need of Gwen's care, for she could not forsake him now! Jane surveyed the view of the Black Pawkeet's deck from the towering helm crowded ever inch by fighting pirates. Her sharp eyes began to scan for the female yellow Acara when she was suddenly grabbed by the collar from behind. A scream escaped from her lungs.
"What are you doing here?!" a voice inquired furiously.
Jane fought against her capturer restlessly, believing it to be one of the enemy pirates. She glanced over her shoulder in surprise, however, for her thought was wrong. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Garin himself holding her captive.
"Let me go, Garin!" Jane cried resentfully.
"Why in Fyora's name are you out here?! You could be killed!" Garin asked as he faced her to him, trying hard to ignore her defiance. Jane gazed up fearfully at the Usul captain: his blue eyes were burning in fury, his face drenched with sweat; he also had a couple of bleeding battle wounds in various places as he tightly gripped the maractite sword in his paw.
"Where's Gwen? I need to find her!" Jane asked desperately, paying no heed to Garin's question.
"What for?" he questioned irritably.
Jane frowned. "For your information, Jacques is injured! He needs her!"
Garin's expression automatically changed to concern when he heard his best friend's name. "How!? Where is he?? Why--"
"Did someone call my name?" a female's voice interrupted him. Garin and Jane gazed up to see Gwen the Acara approach after assisting one of Garin's crew members.
"Gwen!" Jane cried in happy relief. "Jacques is below with a broken leg!"
Abigail entered the disarranged cabin, wearied and still damp. All she could smell was salt water on her clothes and the acrid smell of smoke from the cannons. She coughed miserably as a shiver shook her body. A suffering groan sidetracked her from her own woes when she spotted a red Kyrii in severe pain on the floor among broken wood and debris.
She collapsed to the deck and crawled over to the Kyrii, gasping over his open fracture.
"Oh my..." Abigail murmured.
"Who're you? And how did you get here?" Jacques demanded with clenched teeth.
"My name is Abigail," the human girl replied. "I've been searching for my pet, Jane..."
"Jane...?" Jacques gasped, briefly forgetting about his serious wound. His eyes widened in abrupt realization. "You're Abigail!"
Abigail arched her eyebrow for a moment, "Yes... I am Abigail..."
"Your lost pet Jane is here! Aboard the Black Pawkeet!"
"What?" Abigail breathed in shock, placing a hand over her heart. "That's impossible! We must be talking about two different Janes!"
"No, it's her! She's a blue Aisha with blonde hair... she's spoken of you and—''
Suddenly there was a crashing noise as Abigail and Jacques looked up to see Gwen and Garin enter the chaotic, nearly destroyed cabin along with a young blue Aisha leading them in. For the first time in over a year, Abigail and Jane met eyes, both in amazement and disbelief.
Jane stared into Abigail's widened blue eyes as her jaw dropped. "Abigail...?"
"Jane..." Abigail managed to whisper. She got to her feet in a wobbly manner as her eyes stung with tears. "Jane!!"
Abigail scooped her little Aisha in her arms like a babe despite she had grown since the last time they had met. The girl sobbed on Jane's shoulder, overjoyed to have finally found her in such an unexpected, bizarre place and time.
"Jane I have missed you so," Abigail spoke through her tears.
"I missed you too, Abbie," Jane replied as her owner clutched her closer. "But... h-how did you find me? How in Fyora's name did you get here??"
"That's a long story, dearie," Abigail answered. "But there are more important matters to attend to right now."
"Jacques," Jane said and turned about in Abigail's arms to see the Kyrii grimace in upcoming pain as Gwen kneeled down next to him. Abigail looked at Jane in confusion.
"I led the doctor to him," Jane spoke softly.
"You can do this, mate," Garin said encouragingly, undoing his belt and placing it between Jacques' teeth to give him something to bite on. The Kyrii nodded.
Gwen still gazed in horror at Jacques' critical, wide open gash. She looked up at him.
"Jacques, this is going to hurt, and you know I don't lie," Gwen advised.
Jacques nodded. "Do it quickly," he said with Garin's belt in his mouth.
The first step for Jacques' broken leg to heal was to push the protruding bone back into his flesh. Gwen did so as Jacques' teeth gnashed down on the leather belt in his mouth. He shut his eyes and growled aloud in agony, perspiring considerably from the strain. Jane began to softly cry as Abigail clenched her shoulder and turned her away so she faced her chest.
Eventually, Gwen had successfully wrapped Jacques' broken leg with bandages dipped in a healing potion, after meticulous stitching. She brushed a few fallen strands of her hair from her face with her wrist, taking a deep breath.
"Jacques, you can forget fighting, much less standing," the doctor spoke.
The Kyrii nodded, gritting his teeth. But the pirates of the Salty Gale still fought with the same unharmed ruthlessness; it was apparent from the battle noises crisp and clear through the broken windows of the cabin. Garin watched the appalling battle, but could not bear to leave his best friend's sight in his critical condition.
Gwen let out a sigh, "Jane, you and your owner must leave. And we should too."
Garin's head shot up as his blue eyes widened, knowing she meant abandoning the Black Pawkeet. "Over my dead body would I leave the Pawkeet in the hands of another pirate!"
"Garin, we might not have a choice! It's either surrender or watch the Pawkeet sink to the depths!" Gwen exclaimed. "Look at this cabin!"
"There's a way," Abigail spoke up. All eyes landed on her, making her feel quite awkward in the conversation.
"Pray tell," Garin inquired curiously with a hint of desperation and suspicion. "Because I'm itching to know."
"I don't know if he's alive now, but my friend that came aboard with me set out to find Gunpowder George, the captain of the Salty Gale," she said,"and defeat him."
"What friend?" Jane questioned in puzzlement.
"His name is Malcolm, and he is also a victim of Gunpowder George's cruelty. He lost his ship and entire crew, and was forced to join them and also kidnap me," Abigail explained. "The Salty Gale's weakness would be the death of their captain and most likely they will surrender."
"It's well worth a shot," Garin said with renewed hope. "Come on!"
Malcolm brandished his sword viciously at Gunpowder George despite his muscles screamed and throbbed and various bruises and cuts were visible on his face. Even his left eye was swollen from a brutal boot kicked from the harsh Pirate Gnorbu. Gunpowder's men were finishing tying Garin's crew up to the main mast pole. Jane and Abigail emerged from the cabin. The Aisha was appalled at the sight of the captive crew, and her first thought was to aid them, but before Jane could think, Abigail pulled her back to the threshold.
"Jane, what do you think you're doing!?" Abigail hissed, grabbing Jane's arm.
"Someone needs to free Garin's crew!" Jane argued. "Gwen is with Jacques and I don't think you have the nerve to do it!"
Abigail's mouth dropped in utter disbelief. "How dare you speak to me in that attitude...!"
Garin's crystal blue eyes scanned the deck in a panic. "Where's my crew? What's going on?"
Abigail pointed at the main mast pole where Gunpowder's men clapped their hands at their victory, sneering at the helpless crew of the Black Pawkeet. Garin's teeth gnashed angrily.
"That sea dog is not getting away with this! Where's that barbaric captain?!" the Usul barked.
Abigail looked up, hardly distracted by the young captain's furious shouts. She gasped and clapped her hand over her mouth. "Malcolm...!"
Garin and Jane looked up to discover a burly Pirate Gnorbu and a tall Shadow Gelert exchanging feverish, swift blows near the edge of the helm. Jane glanced down at the crew tied to the main mast and darted bravely toward them with Jacques' short dagger gripped in her paw.
"Jane!" Abigail screamed quietly. "Jane, no!" Out of natural reaction, Abigail started after her, but Garin held her back.
"Let her go," Garin said seriously. "She knows what she's doing."
Abigail's jaw gaped open. "Are you crazy? Torture is an understatement compared to what I've gone through to find Jane!"
Garin grasped her shoulder and stared her in her eyes. "So has Jane. She's small, quick, and smart. She's learned a lot from a life at sea."
Abigail's eyes widened in surprise, oblivious of knowing she was mistaking Garin's words.
My Jane... turned to piracy? she thought to herself in horror. She tried to speak, but Garin interposed.
"Now, your friend needs you."
Abigail's stomach flipped to see Gunpowder fiercely pin Malcolm helplessly to the deck.
Jane darted from barrel and barrel, crate to crate, avoiding the eyes of the enemy pirates as they looted cargo off of the Black Pawkeet, when she, hidden, knelt a few feet from the crew.
Talak turned restlessly in his bonds, growling angrily. "Any of you lads can reach yer knife?"
"Your wish has been granted!" Jane whispered from behind a barrel. Talak stopped and turned his head painfully to see Jane quietly emerge and reveal her knife. "Jane!" the crew exclaimed and instantly came alive. Jane immediately began sawing away at the ropes at Talak's paws (with the dagger Jacques gave her) when suddenly a pirate grabbed her collar and yanked her away. She screamed as the knife dropped.
"What'd ya think yer doin, lil girl?" he asked as Jane winced at his rum breath.
Talak, whose bonds were halfway cut, broke free and kicked the large pirate in his leg. Jane was released as the orange Wocky grabbed her. "Thanks!" Jane smiled.
"No, thank you," Talak replied and clenched the knife to free his crew.
Malcolm wrestled against Gunpowder's brute strength until the cold edge of his cutlass touched his neck. Sweat ran down his face as he masked his fear with an intense glare at Gunpowder's eyes.
"I should have killed you long ago, along with your pathetic crew."
"We were innocent of your devilish ways! You murdered them all in cold blood!" Malcolm spat.
He scowled up at the Pirate Gnorbu's red face bravely.
Gunpowder, filled with rage, struck Malcolm so hard that he fell off of the Black Pawkeet's helm that they battled on and crashed to the first deck with a groan.
"Malcolm!" Abigail cried and started running up the helm stairs toward him. Garin reached out to grab her arm, but missed and felt the empty air.
"Abigail, no! Not yet!" Garin growled with a curse under his breath.
Gunpowder George hovered over a defenseless Malcolm like an intimidating bully, smirking grimly and rotating his blade in his large palm with sinister joy gleaming in his eyes. Malcolm forced himself up, blood on the corner of his mouth, but he was weak and near defeat. His eyes grew wide to see Abigail rush to his side as Gunpowder silently produced a weapon from his belt...
To be continued...