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Author Topic: All Aboard! [Chapter 26! --sorry for the wait]  (Read 49924 times)

Offline glcorps2002

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« Reply #40 on: March 11, 2007, 11:07:13 PM »
This is one hell of a great story. It seems that Miki has some repressed memories there, am I right?

Offline chera

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« Reply #41 on: March 11, 2007, 11:55:16 PM »
I must say, this is the best pervy fanfic in the forum.  The first two chapters were difficult to write due to the action and the need to introduce the characters but Estrea did it wonderfully.  I especially loved the beginning of the two chapters.  Having Reina literally give a bird's eye view of all the main characters was a very good idea.  The action scene was excellent: I could imagine the exactly how the fight scene actually went.

All the characters are complex, and the plot is like an iceberg: lots of detail, but you know that there's even more underneath the water.  It's also very well paced.  Nothing seems rushed or contrived.  I really hope this continues until Reina becomes legal!  Hopefully, by that time the wound on her thigh (ouch!) will have healed... (nix those last two sentences... I just remembered this wasn't in the Perv....)

One nice historical detail I'd like to see eventually (after they've fought each other, of course) is the pirates and the Royal Navy combining forces to fight off the slavers.  How's that song go?  "Britons never, never, never shall be slaves..."  

Seeing good fanfic like this makes me want to write a Morning Musume version of Master and the Commander, which I think was the best movie ever made about the age of sail.  With Yossie as Aubrey and Miki as Maturin.  Or even better, with Miki as Aubrey and Aichan as Maturin...
« Last Edit: March 11, 2007, 11:57:46 PM by chera »

Offline rndmnwierd

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« Reply #42 on: March 12, 2007, 12:36:45 AM »
Quote
Aibon made a funny noise and snuggled her face deeper in Nono's chest, eliciting a surprised yelp and a faint blush

Quote
Nono did have backache at first, but after Aibon noticed and decided to do an inpromptu massage, Nono ended up in bed with a worried Aibon cuddling close to her and apologising profusely.


I love these two.

And lol at the Reina Miki interaction. It was happy. :D

Offline Estrea

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« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2007, 01:36:26 PM »
Haha, I'm about halfway through Chapter 5 now, so expect it in a few more hours because it's kinda slow going at the moment. Meh, I keep getting distracted by shiny things. :S

And yesh, Miki groping Reina was fun. I just threw that in because I realised I was short of one aspect of Miki's personality XD And besides, she was feeling bored, so that's all the excuse I needed. :P

Miki is getting quite a bit of development, yes. But I'm not going to neglect the rest too. Planning to throw in some time for a few others eventually (not telling who though :P). The time isn't quite right yet. *nods* Timing is very important. :)

And to glcorps, yeah Miki does have some repressed memories. Can't blame her, she did spend some time as a slave. As to what memories she repressed and why...well, you gotta wait like everyone else to find out. XD

Welcome aboard chera! XD Glad you think highly of my fic. :) *doesn't have access to the Perv anyway* T_T But anyway, pirates + navy vs slavers? Well, I already decided to ________ , because _______ is doing something to _____ because of _____, and hence there is a ______ at the end. :P Blanks are deliberate. XD Happy guessing everyone! :P *is evil*

I know you love the twins rndmn, and I love putting sweet moments for them together, so it all works out. XD

Ok back to work. It's going to be another Navy chapter, so yeah. :P Does anyone think that I'm going too slow or fast with the story? Just checking. :)

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
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Offline Estrea

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« Reply #44 on: March 12, 2007, 04:45:06 PM »
Back with Chapter 5. Mostly plot-heavy with a certain setting up for the next scene. I tried my best to retain spots of humor though. XD

Hope you guys will like this!

---------------------------------------------------

Chapter 5


The men had protested strenuously, and her officers (well, Nacchi mostly) had been appalled, but Aya was adamant. They would listen to her, whether they liked it or not.

Besides, it was a good idea. Flying the naval flags ostentatiously might have been a good way to intimidate people and build confidence for the merchant fleets sailing along the trade routes, but it didn't accomplish as much as Aya would have liked. For one thing, pirate vessels might be less in evidence whenever they were in the region, but the Defiance was only one ship, and she couldn't cover the whole expanse of the eastern seas. Chasing down stray and not-very-intelligent pirates who were stupid enough to be openly active didn't solve the problem at all. It only forced the pirates to be more cautious, but it didn't eradicate their presence.

It was an unconventional idea that Aya had come up with. It probably broke a dozen or more of rules written and unwritten, but the youthful captain didn't really care. She wanted to get her job done in the most efficient way possible, and besides, a naval captain out at sea was subject to their own discretion when handling matters. She couldn't care less if she was breaking sacred navy traditions with her bold idea, especially if it bore fruit.

The flags had been lowered, and they had spent a night anchored at some out of the way cove removing the most obvious signs of the Defiance being a vessel of the Royal Navy. The fact that it was a galleon, a class of ship usually used in battle, couldn't be changed, but that couldn't be helped. After all, it wasn't exclusive to the Royal Navy, some privateers used it, as well as some of the pirates.

Next came the disguise for her crew. The regular sailors who actually did most of the work sailing the ship were already dressed down for their usual labor, but the militia that was on board had to be divested of their uniforms. There was a nearly mutinous rumble when she had made them wear clothes that didn't bear any official insignia, but they did as they were told. Aya really didn't know what their problem was, really. The uniforms might look impressive, but it was still more comfortable to be in regular and more casual clothes. She didn't say it of course, but she thought that the men were being silly.

Inspecting her crew, the captain prodigy ruefully admitted to herself that while one could take the man out of the uniform, they couldn't take the uniform out of the man. Their military training and discipline showed through clearly when she told them to assemble themselves, and everyone was standing at attention in straight lines. Oh well, at least their dressing now wouldn't give them away at first sight. She resolved to make them loosen up a little in the course of their duty, if only to better camouflage themselves in accordance with her plans.

The idea was mainly to masquerade as privateers, and this was the part where Nacchi had objected quite strenuously at, since they didn't have a letter of marque to pose as it for one thing, and thus Aya had been planning to forge it, which had nearly sent the First Mate into catatonic shock upon first hearing of it in the captain's cabin. Aya had to explain at length that she didn't plan on preying on merchant vessels from enemy states like other privateers did, but only to use it as a way to answer any awkward questions at port as to what they were doing with a battle-grade galleon on the high seas.

It would deflect suspicion too, if they were to sail into unfriendly ports that had reputations as pirate hangouts. After all, any Navy vessel that went anywhere near those places usually didn't come back out. Privateers were generally tolerated in those "black" ports though, and Aya fully intended to exploit that. What better way to learn about enemy movements than to go right to them in the first place?

It was risky, it was bold, and it had never been tried before. Aya was determined to fufill her mission to crack down on piracy in the eastern seas. To that end, she would pull out all stops to achieve it. Nothing was going to prevent her from doing her duty.

~*~*~

Eri dutifully followed behind her highborn charge at a respectful distance, carefully keeping an eye on the lady in front of her, as well as on the other men who often paused in their work to stare appreciatively (read: leer) at the woman she was supposed to be protecting. Eri was just personally glad that those looks weren't directed at herself, she didn't need the extra pressure on top of her special "assignment".

Rika stopped, leaning against the rail of the ship and staring at the wide expanse of sea and sky. She was frankly, still bored out of her mind. The opportunity to walk around was much appreciated, but the ship wasn't all that big, and there really wasn't much to do. Everyone appeared to be either busy or unapproachable. The guard, a girl that was only a few years younger than herself, was rather shy, and stayed behind her as a proper bodyguard would. Well, Rika had just about had enough of boredom.

"Hey." Eri blinked. Was she being addressed? She shifted unconsciously to a corner by the barrels. "Come nearer." Oh, right. Eri walked forward hesitantly, uncertain of what she had done. Rika smiled at the nervous-looking girl in front of her, trying to calm her down.

"You know, I don't bite." Rika joked. Eri was still naturally wary of the smiling noblewoman. Risa's paranoia and impassioned declarations of the various exaggerated faults of the nobility earlier didn't help at all either.

"What if she turns out to be this total bitch? You know how all those nobles are, fat and lazy...unless they're in the corps of course!" Risa hastily amended the last part when Maki gave her the evil eye as she passed by, obviously having picked up the end of the sentence.

Eri progressively paled as Risa went on, gesticulating wildly and just short of being completely hysterical over the whole situation. The whole "OMG what if this woman turns out to be a soul-eating demonness in disguise?" vibe was central in Risa's rant. Poor Eri was sent to see Rika for the first with the Risa-painted impression of a self-indulgent, petty, rude, lazy and arrogant heartless bitch who treated commoners like dirt under their feet.


And the first thing she had thought when she first saw Rika was "well I have to tell Risa that she's not fat and ugly", but you couldn't blame the poor girl for being terrified of Rika the whole time during that first meeting.

It had been a few days since the assignment started, and thus far Eri couldn't see anything wrong with the lady she was supposed to protect. The lady Ishikawa was a bit aloof and quiet, but had been unfailingly polite as far as she could tell, and she definitely didn't seem like the kind of lazy degenerate that Risa had tarred with the same brush as she did with most of the nobility. Maybe her friend was overreacting again, Eri decided. Risa did tend to do that every once in awhile.

Now they were speaking, cautiously on Eri's part, since she didn't want to give offense even by accident. She had heard of the Ishikawa family even back when she was still in training. They were influential in the empire, one of the major contending powers amidst the ranking noble families at the royal court. They were one of the more powerful factions apparently, and had many holdings within the Empire itself, as well as beyond it.

The Ishikawa name was not an easy one to bear in the least, and even dressed in the garb of a common sailor, Eri could see that the way Rika held herself was vastly different from most normal people. If one could tell that a person had military or warrior training by the way they moved, then one could do the same for those who were born and bred into a noble family of the highest rank. Eri had to fight the urge to lower her head and bow down before the easy grace and noble bearing of Ishikawa Rika. She could easily have been mistaken for a princess, Eri thought to herself.

But for a "princess", Rika was remarkably personable and easy to talk with. An easy explanation would have been that as a daughter of a noble house, she was used to socialising at all sorts of events, so holding a conversation was never a chore for her. This time though, she was genuinely interested in coaxing her bodyguard to start speaking with her, not only to alleviate her own boredom, but also to learn more about her surroundings. For all of the fact that she was nobility and well educated in many areas such as art and other forms of higher culture, Rika knew next to nothing about the sea and the corps, and even less about the life of common folk. Her upbringing didn't lay quite as much emphasis on those things. Unleashing her full arsenal of charm and persuasion, she set about to put her youthful bodyguard at enough ease to start speaking.

Before she even knew it, Eri practically started telling her whole life story after some skillful prodding from the crafty noblewoman. She spoke of life on the streets, of the drafting of the homeless into the corps, her own fascination with the sea when she had first seen it, the training, the hardships, all that and more.

Above all, Eri spoke of the sea, vast and boundless, so very different from the narrow, dirty alleys of her earliest memories. The reverence in the young sailor's tone moved Rika deeply, even as with the description of the suffering and deprivation that Eri had faced as a child. It had horrified her at first, her own privileged upbringing making it difficult to comprehend how it was like to go hungry for days on end, or to shiver in huddled masses of dirty, unwashed children to conserve warmth, as they didn't have any fuel to light a fire to warm themselves. Eri had been patient though, with Rika willingly listening and learning about real life, beyond her wealth and luxury, her pomp and parties where every day was an endless circus of ball after ball, of intrigue and politely vicious social games.

It had been a humbling experience for the young noblewoman. Of course, all of that conversation didn't happen in a single day. It had taken place over the course of the next few days, and Rika had in turn spoken a little of her own life, but not much, since she felt ashamed of telling Eri about the luxurious decadence in which she had been raised in, compared to the filth and poverty the younger girl had had to suffer.

Rika found the other girl's story a powerfully influencing force on her own mindset. She had always been only vaguely aware of the poverty that seethed in the bowels of society, but somehow it had never really registered with her. Now, as she pored back within her own memories, she could finally pick out faint images of beggars by the wayside when she was out on a rare trip to town, but nothing more than that. Her mind back then had simply not taken those others into account, and a part of her felt ashamed of that fact. How could she have not seen all those people who had needed help?

Her morose thoughts were broken by the arrival of the First Mate, Abe Natsumi, to the tiny cabin she currently occupied. It had originally been Natsumi's, but she had given it up to Rika, and bunked in with Maki instead.

Natsumi had had a brief acquaintance with Rika before, having met briefly at one of the many official events that the nobility attended. Natsumi had gone along as part of Admiral Matsuura's entourage, being one of his most trusted lieutenants. It had been one of those obligatory events that the Admiral himself hated for the whole pointlessness of it, so he had dragged along his family and trusted retainers. No sense in suffering alone.

Aya had been there at that particular ball too, but she had stubbornly worn her uniform instead of a dress that time. Natsumi had been tasked with keeping an eye on the eldest of the Matsuura daughters, but that sneaky girl had slipped off with Maki halfway somehow. The two were resourceful, Natsumi had to give them that. It was in an exasperated mood that she had encountered the radiant Ishikawa Rika, and exchanged a few polite pleasantries. Though brief an encounter, the impression had stuck with the naval officer. Rika was not an easy person to forget, after all.

The First Mate had taken it onto herself to be an unofficial liaison between the busy Captain and their guest, reasoning that had she left it to Maki, that girl would probably take every opportunity to hit on their guest. And so every day, without fail, she would show up at least twice to check on their passenger. Once in the morning, and once before she went to bed. It was a polite gesture, and Rika appreciated Natsumi's sense of decorum in these matters. Besides, the First Mate was a personable character to speak with as well, so the company was much appreciated.

The young Captain of the ship intrigued the lady, frankly. After all, it was a sort of a scandal of the time when the news had come out that Lord Matsuura's daughter had run off and joined the naval academy, even graduating as the best of the officer cadets. She had heard plenty of less than complimentary remarks about "that half wild Matsuura girl", and how it had been "a disgrace" that a lady actually stooped so low as to join the corps. However, upon meeting this Matsuura Aya, she had not seen a rebellious brat that the rumors had painted. In its place was an incredibly self-possessed young woman who carried herself with a proud sense of duty and honor, radiating an air of confidence and control. There was definitely a stubborn glint in those fiery eyes, but whatever she was, Matsuura Aya was not some ill-bred vagrant with absolutely no sense of decorum. That much she had at least surmised from their first few conversations.

Rika respected that. In a way, she was not very different from Aya, both caught up in the call of duty to their family honor, except that Aya had had to take a different route in order to fufill that duty. Similarly, too, neither of them had completely lost that spark of youth and the rebellion it naturally bred. Aya had run away from home, Rika away from her arranged marriage. But at the very least, Captain Matsuura had done it to fufill her duty. Rika did it to escape hers.

After exchanging the customary lines of conversation, Natsumi politely excused herself, leaving Rika to her own thoughts, which, inevitably, turned to a certain portion of a long buried part of her past. Rika closed her eyes, clutching almost painfully at the necklace she wore, engraved with a coat-of-arms that no longer existed. It was her last remaining link to that person, long ago when they had still been children...

I want to see you again...even just once...I need to see you...

Where are you?


~*~*~

Niigaki Risa yawned as she looked around from the top of the crow's nest. Night watch was boring, and she usually ended up with it since she had the best eyes on the crew. Actually, she did a lot of watch duty. As that meddlesome Second Mate had told her, it only made sense that her talents were used to their fullest. And with eyesight rivaling a hawk's, Risa often ended up stuck on watch, or used to confirm if that dot of a ship in the distance was a merchant vessel or a pirate ship. They had spyglasses of course, but whenever they needed a second or third opinion, Risa usually got hauled in to check.

Well, she couldn't really complain. It was easier than scrubbing the deck, or taking a turn at the oars. Sure, it got really hot up there during certain times of the day, but she had gotten somewhat used to it. At least she tanned well, instead of peeling like a lizard in molt. That would have been bad.

The moon was almost completely gone, just a sliver of it hanging in the night sky, barely putting out enough light to see much of anything. Not that Risa was using moonlight to search for other vessels on the horizon. She was simply looking out for the telltale sign of firelight on the darkness of the sea. After all, only other ships would have lamps on them, making them fairly easy to spot.

However, most ships also didn't travel at night, especially when the moon was almost gone like this. If it were a full moon, there would at least be sufficient illumination to sail at night, but it wasn't common to do so. More prudent captains chose to drop anchor and wait until morning, since sailing at night could be hazardous as it made it difficult to identify dangers. Unless one was intimately familiar with the waters they were sailing in, most ships didn't take that risk. The time made wasn't worth it.

And so Risa hadn't been expecting to see anything. Which was why, as she had said earlier, night watch was boring. It was merely a formality to post someone on watch, but Risa respected that. Constant vigilance was a good thing at sea, however pointless it might seem sometimes.

Stretching absently, she gave another cursory glance all around from her perch. Nothing but black, black and more black...movement? Risa snapped to attention immediately, her eyes alert.

Where was it? It was uniformly dark all around, almost completely indistinguishable. The only reliable source of light were the lamps on the Defiance itself, but a fat lot of good they would do in identifying any ship beyond the very limited radius of the light they put out. Risa had to rely on the keenness of her own eyesight, and whatever limited help the paltry light from the moon and stars could give.

If there was a ship moving out there right now, it was sailing with all its lamps extinguished. Which automatically made it suspicious, Risa concluded. What did they have to hide? Straining her eyes, she watched carefully for that flicker of movement, of shadow against shadow shifting...

There! It was moving slowly, but now that Risa had locked onto it, the dark shape was just vaguely distinct against the shadowy backdrop. It was moving very slowly, cautiously, it seemed. There was time then, for her to shimmy down and report to someone. Probably the First Mate. Risa nodded to herself. She had a great amount of respect for the older officer, almost in a form of awe at times. The First Mate would know what to do,  especially as to whether or not they should inform the Captain and go on the pursuit.

Making a final mental note of the mystery ship's location and its general heading, Risa practically slithered down from her perch and ran straight to report.

It was probably not going to be a quiet night, after all.

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
- Lilium-related things. God save my soul.

On Hold:
- Everything Else. Too many to list.

I'm also on AO3!
http://archiveofourown.org/users/Estrea

Offline len.chan

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« Reply #45 on: March 12, 2007, 05:11:43 PM »
Quote
Rika closed her eyes, clutching almost painfully at the necklace she wore, engraved with a coat-of-arms that no longer existed. It was her last remaining link to that person, long ago when they had still been children...

ehem.. first Yossi with a sword as the last remain of her family and now Rika searching for someone who's noble family no longer exist?... I won't say anything more 'cause maybe I'm wrong.. XDXD
I want to see Captain VS THE pirate!
you're doing a great job ^^

Offline glcorps2002

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« Reply #46 on: March 12, 2007, 05:14:35 PM »
Excellent description of Eri's and Rika's pasts. I'm betting that's Yossie's coat of arms.

Offline rndmnwierd

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« Reply #47 on: March 12, 2007, 05:51:37 PM »
Yay! I love how the plot is coming along, I can't wait to see how you develope the characters.

Offline Blizzard

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« Reply #48 on: March 12, 2007, 08:12:45 PM »
Quote from: Estrea;327520
Maybe her friend was overreacting again, Eri decided. Risa did tend to do that every once in awhile.

That got a few chuckles out of me!

Do I sense some Ishiyoshi coming up?  Oh, I sure hope so!  I'm really curious now as to why Yossui became a pirate.  I hope you are planning on telling us!  

I can't wait for more!  Keep up the great work!

Offline Yuuyami

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« Reply #49 on: March 12, 2007, 08:36:52 PM »
I am definitely looking forward to a certain masochist pirate's interaction with a certain crossdressing captain >:]

I, like others, get the feeling that Yossie has definite involvement with Rika's life <3! ! !

The other two of Nochiura Natsumi will get along great with the twins /sarcasm.

Nevertheless, it's great to dive into Eri and Rika's pasts a bit. Can't wait to see how the Ayaya posse met eachother and their pasts; I also can't wait to see how Yuko formed her posse and their lovely pasts <3!

PS. Almost done with drawing the crew. I just need to draw the twins and the 'sane' people xD (Kei, Kaori, Mako, Mari) xD!

Hmm... Now that I really think about it... We haven't seen Ayaya's crew's choice of weaponry... Have we? :]

Offline JFC

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« Reply #50 on: March 13, 2007, 04:33:45 AM »
Passing themselves off as privateers? That sure is an ambitious plan Aya came up with. I mean, what if they run into another fleet ship? How far will they maintain the act?

Quote
Rika closed her eyes, clutching almost painfully at the necklace she wore, engraved with a coat-of-arms that no longer existed. It was her last remaining link to that person, long ago when they had still been children...

I want to see you again...even just once...I need to see you...

Where are you?
Aw, it's gotta be Yossi, it's gotta be Yossi, it's GOT to be Yossi. :heart: Watch they knew each other as kids amongst the nobles but something happend that caused the fall of Yossi's house, which then caused Yossi to flee in shame, abandoning the friend she cherished so much (Rika).


:o


...



Fuck that's so sappy. :P

JPH!P :heart:'s Fushigidane, ChrNo, Jab & marimari. Always.

Offline Estrea

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« Reply #51 on: March 13, 2007, 08:01:06 PM »
Mmm all the speculation. :) I won't confirm or deny anything, just have fun guessing. XD

Yuuyami: Awesome, I would love to see the pirates living large soon! XD And oh yes, you got your wish with Ayaya's weapon. :P I didn't have much of a chance to give it more action-time though, but I'll rectify that in the future *coughnextchaptercough* XD I gave the rest of her crew rather varied weapons though, for various reasons. >_>

Hmm this chapter turned out pretty hard to write. Took me longer than usual. Heh. Hope you guys like.

------------------------------------------

Chapter 6


Aya paced around endlessly in circles within her cabin, her forehead creased with thought as her hands wrung each other out behind her back.

It was late. Or specifically, it was early. Only an hour or two before dawn, by her estimation.

She had not had much sleep that night, having been roused from bed after a mere hour or two of shuteye, to deal with an unexpected incident.

Urgent knocks at the door, a painfully loud staccato that woke the young captain. Before she could even sit up properly, the door swung in to reveal her two officers with concerned expressions. Their looks immediately clued her in to the severity of the situation, and she was alert instantly, the last of her fatigue slipping away as she heard her officers out.


News of the 'mystery ship' had immediately gotten her full attention, of course. It had definitely been suspicious enough to warrant an investigation. Aya paced some more, this time coming closer to her desk, her lips drawn in a thin line as she considered the situation that now lay before her.

It was a matter of some delicacy. Boarding another ship, especially in the dead of the night, was always considered a hostile move. If the other ship turned out to be innocent of any wrongdoing, there would be trouble for them. The only bright spot of the whole situation was that since they were ostensibly not part of the Navy now, so any actions wouldn't reflect on the official record. Aya just had to make sure no one figured out their real identities.

Nacchi had been called upon to steer the ship, as she knew the waters around the area better than anyone else did. The lamps had all been extinguished, her men roused and ready, their muskets all ready to fire. Aya believed in preparing for the worst, and the precious seconds taken to cock and load their weapons could place them at a disadvantage. Other sailors manned the cannons, and a few more of the sharpshooters among her troops had already readied their long rifles...just in case.


Aya drummed the top of her desk with her fingers, her eyes distant as she ran through the earlier events in her mind. She felt like she was missing something from the encounter...as if she had overlooked some miniscule detail that would help her to solve the many questions she had running through her head. Something felt off about the whole thing, and she was determined to figure out just what, even if that meant forgoing her sleep. Aya hated having these things hanging over her head.

The Defiance had eased closer silently, almost invisible in the dark. Risa was by Natsumi's side, acting as the First Mate's eyes to keep a lock on their quarry. They had not been noticed just yet, or so it seemed.

500 yards...450...400...350...


It had seemed as if they were going to successfully launch a sneak attack on the ship. Aya had been watching the outline of the other ship carefully as they had approached, noting the slant of the masts and build of the ship, trying to classify what kind of vessel it was. It felt...foreign, just a little. But then again, it had been too dark to make out any details.

There was a startled cry. "Look out!" It was Risa. The young soldier quickly tugged at Natsumi's arm, sending the older woman stumbling towards her, even as the sharp crack of a shot hit the deck where the First Mate would have been standing. Reacting on instinct, Risa shouldered her own long rifle, already cocked and loaded, all too aware at the same time that she had to be quick to pick out the enemy sniper, who had to be busily reloading his own weapon at that very same moment.

In the space of the 5 seconds after the first shot had been fired from the enemy side, Risa had picked up her weapon, aiming it at the place where she had seen the brief flicker of ignited gunpowder which had initially alerted her to the presence of a gunman, and took a deep breath. She had only one shot before the other man would return fire.

6, 7, 8, 9... Risa was unusually calm as she banished all other thought, except to count the ticking seconds in her head as she waited, rifle ready. 12, 13, 14, 15...

There. She let out the breath she couldn't even remember holding as she fired, 200 yards away from the enemy ship in the dark of the night.

Aya smiled to herself when she remembered that heartstopping moment. The subsequent outcry on the other ship, bringing with it the illumination of lamps as the other side roused to action, had shown that Risa's shot had been true. The girl had known, or at least estimated the time needed to reload the weapon, and waited till the very last moment, when the other party had had to come out of cover to shoot her, before dispatching him...and with a head shot, no less.

The resulting battle had been short-lived. The enemy ship had been aware of them, but this was the Royal Navy, and Aya had personally handpicked every single man on the ship. They had closed in easily, even as volley after volley of shots sprayed over the other ship. When they had gotten close enough, the grappling hooks were thrown to pull them the two ships together, and Aya had risen easily to the lead (somewhat to Gocchin's irritation, since captains weren't traditionally supposed to risk themselves in battle, at least not this early), her specially customised gunblade cutting down any and all resistance, the integrated revolver surprising and then dispatching of those who had managed to block her sword strikes.

It had been, as mentioned, a laughably easy fight as they had been the advantage and training and equipment. Aya had been surprised though, in retrospect, by the willingness of the other ship to start firing unprovoked at them first, even when they had not stated their intentions. But then again, the Defiance had been sneaking up on them, and they did have a right to be paranoid.

It was what they had discovered though, that had Aya concerned, and unable to sleep. Crates of firearms, bearing the mark of the royal armories. An illegal arms trade with stock from the royal armory? Shock could not even begin to cover her reaction. Military supplies were usually very strictly regulated, especially those for use by the corps. Individual noble clans might have their own supply of arms from their own forges, and the regulation within those clans were not as strict, so the probability of arms smuggling from that avenue might not have been that much of a surprise. But the stamp on those crates had been unmistakable...

Who then, had the temerity, the authority even, to access the royal armories and be trading them this way? Aya had questioned the master of that ship closely, but had been unable to get anything of worth. Not even under torture, which Maki had gleefully attended to, had managed to make him divulge anything, which left only the option that the man really didn't know the big picture of what was going on. Nothing more than a pawn to transport the goods, she concluded. Whoever was masterminding the operation was certainly a smooth operator.

The young captain had then given orders to seize the arms, and imprisoning those who were still alive. She had also confiscated all the papers in the captain's cabin, intending to pore through them for clues to the severity of the problem. She had gone through all of them in the last 3 hours, and what little she had been able to glean from them had been profoundly disturbing. The goods had been bound for a pirate haven, and other records showed that earlier shipments had been going to assorted other pirate havens, or "black" ports, as well as to enemies of the Empire, the target consumer presumably being brigands and pirates, as well as the barbarian nations outside of the Empire. Worse yet, Aya had gotten the distinct impression that it had been going on for years. How could this have gone unnoticed for so long?

And that would certainly explain why the tradition of of piracy had been so strong in this region. Even when she was training in the academy, older seamen and officers had spoken of how well-armed and dangerous the pirates in the eastern seas had been. The area had traditionally been on the fringes of the Empire, so it wasn't as well-regulated, and being assigned there was usually considered a hazardous duty. "Someone must really hate you if they sent you to the east," or so the saying went at the academy.

Aya hadn't seen it that way of course. In fact, she had volunteered to come out to help suppress the pirates. Nowadays, the Royal Navy usually spent most of its resources guarding the western trade routes that were considered to be more "valuable", and neglecting the eastern frontier, since the barbarian nations that resided beyond the ocean there were loosely organised and were more inclined to fight each other than to band together to pose much of a threat to the Empire. The only real hazard in that area had been piracy, which targeted the gemstone trade between the core of the Empire and its vassal states in that region. Aya had simply felt that she should go where her help would have been more needed, and considering how under-patrolled the largely lawless outlying sea routes were, she had not had any reason to alter her initial opinion that she had been needed here.

Now, this. As if piracy wasn't a big enough headache to deal with in the first place. Now she had to deal with arms smuggling on top of it as well. Aya felt the throbbing in her head grow worse. She had to report her findings to someone, that's for sure. But to whom? The very fact that someone had been trading royal arms illegally for years and not get caught implied that whoever was at the top of the food chain was high up indeed, in a position to smuggle large shipments of arms without being noticed, and sneaky enough to cover their tracks to avoid anyone noticing the discrepancy back home. There was no guarantee that her report would make a difference, especially if the perpetrator was powerful and influential enough to intercept it before it could be made known to someone who could do something about it.

There was only one person she could trust. Her father. He was definitely incorruptible, his honor and integrity being his shield. She had to relay the information back to him somehow, and ask for his assistance to investigate matters back at the capital. Yes, that was the best course of action that was currently available to her.

Her decision made, Aya sat down at her cluttered desk, reaching for ink and paper to begin a letter detailing her discovery. By fast ship, the message would reach her father within 2 to 3 weeks. She would have to stop by at one of the Imperial-garrisoned ports to ask them to deliver the letter for her via courier ship. Mentally making a note to send someone along to guard the letter, she got down to work, ignoring the fact that it was already dawn and that she had had no sleep for the whole night, the only thought on her mind being that she had to do her duty. Nothing less than that.

~*~*~

The Red Dawn eased into the port town of Klashnik, one of the many pirate havens along the eastern rim of islands. It was a familiar place to Yuko's crew, since they usually stopped by here for repairs and resupply purposes. And as usual, whenever they made port, Yuko would pay them...or rather, Kaori did, since she was the one who handled the accounts. With their money on hand, the crew would all go off to find entertainment (read: get drunk) at the taverns, leaving behind Kei and Kaori to do the actual work of resupplying the ship and all the boring details. It was a pretty much time-honored ritual for the past few years.

Inevitably also, the majority of them ended up at the Sea Coconut tavern, since it was the only female-run tavern in town, and the crew of the Red Dawn felt perfectly at home there. For one thing, the rowdier crowds didn't bother to come in there. Well actually, they didn't dare to, at least not after the "demonstration" Yuko and her pirates had given to them about how dangerous it was to mess with their friends. From then onwards, the Sea Coconut was pretty much trouble-free, well at least as trouble-free as a tavern in a pirate haven could ever get. There were always fights between drunk patrons of course, but none of the all-out brawls that occurred so often at the seedier places.

The owner was grateful, naturally. Whenever the crew dropped by, she would usually close doors to other patrons and let them have the place to themselves. Not that she would be missing out on much business doing that, since Yuko alone could probably finish half her stock, and her crew would polish up the rest. They were good on their payments too, so they were excellent customers in Ayaka's view.

Today was almost no different. Yuko, Mari, Yossi, Reina and Makoto had banded together to drop by at the Sea Coconut, injuries be damned. Rum was the universal cure for all ailments anyway, according to Yuko. The twins had skipped off somewhere immediately after receiving their pay, no doubt up to some mischief again. They had a fearsome reputation in that town, those two. They could make grown men and hardened pirates quake in fear at the thought of being targeted by the devil twins. Innate sadism, fiendish creativity, and sheer resourcefulness made the two almost unstoppable when it came to picking on random victims whenever they made port.

As for Miki, she had defied all advice from Kei and snuck off the ship anyway, but instead of joining her shipmates for a drink, she decided to wander down the waterfront for a while first, just to see if any suckers would try and mug her. Miki loved the look on those pathetic men's faces when they realise that they had picked someone who was far from being helpless and vulnerable. She enjoyed turning the tables on other people, just to see their horror when she did it.

The Sea Coconut was bustling as usual when Yuko banged the doors open with excessive force, as she always did. The others fell in behind their captain, although Makoto cut forward when she saw a good friend of hers passing out alcohol to a ragtag group of sailors, one of them smirking up at the pretty barmaid and saying something that made her companion next to her laugh and slap her arm playfully.

"Ai-chan!" Makoto waved to the barmaid, who turned to her with a broad smile. "Mako-chan!" The two exchanged a brief hug, glad to see each other, before the other girl had to go back to work. Makoto beamed as she went back to rejoin her shipmates, happy to be back on shore for once. After all, Makoto loved the sea, but one of the few things that drew her back to land was the fact that she still had good friends who were onshore.

Kimura Ayaka, the operator of the Sea Coconut, came over personally to attend to her "special" customers. They were acquainted for several years by now, and were fairly familiar with each other. After chatting amiably with the group for a while, Ayaka decided to close early for the evening to let her favorite pirates have the place to themselves.

After personally informing most of the regular patrons of her decision, most of them left without a fight, since they knew the traditions of the place. Besides, no one wanted to pick a fight with Yuko and her crew, injured or not.

There was just one group left, an oddly assorted bunch of mostly female sailors, people that Ayaka had never seen before. She had had the nagging feeling that they were different somehow, but couldn't quite put a finger on what exactly. Shrugging inwardly, since it really wasn't any of her business who they were, she moved towards them to tell them to leave.

"Excuse me, but why should we leave? We only just got here." One of the women asked, not without justification. There were murmurs of assent from her companions.

"We're closing early for the evening, that's why." Ayaka explained patiently.

"Then what about them? Aren't you going to ask them to leave too?" Another young woman, the one who had made a pass at Ai earlier, pointed to Yuko's group.

Ayaka was beginning to feel mildly irritated, although she didn't show it. Running a tavern in a place such as this had taught her patience and tact. "They are friends of mine. Please understand. There are many other taverns out there, you can always move on to another place."

"But what if we don't want to?" The same young woman pressed, sounding rather belligerent as she stood up to glare at the slightly taller Ayaka. It was evident that she was slightly tipsy, which was fueling her aggressiveness.

Sensing trouble, Yossi stood up. Her ankle was mostly healed by now, although she still walked with a slight limp. Mari got up as well, as did Makoto and Reina, ready to throw out the new troublemakers, injury or no, if the chance presented itself. Yuko, in the meantime, was chugging down rum like nobody's business, completely ignoring the rising tensions in the tavern.

"Hey sis, cool it..." The only male in the group tugged at his sister's arm, hoping to get her to back down. As usual, he was ignored.

The rest of the newcomers stood up as well, probably also sensing the tension in the air as the pirates came closer. The two groups eyed each other, at a standoff with Ayaka standing awkwardly in the middle.

With a sigh, she declared, "If you people want to fight, please take it outside," before stepping out from between the two groups.

The tension was unbearable. The two groups stared at each other for a long, unbroken moment, neither side giving way in the glaring contest. The silence was broken when the tallest among the newcomers smirked and said in a highly offensive tone.

"That's all you got? A couple of cripples and a midget?"

That did it. Mari was the first to act, drawing her cutlass before anyone could even blink and rushing forward. The scene erupted into chaos, with Ayaka yelling "Outside, people! OUTSIDE!!!", but the proprietress was largely being ignored by the enthusiastic brawlers.

It got worse when Yuko decided to charge in halfway, breaking tables in her path as she swung her sword around erratically. Friend and foe alike got out of her way, trying not to have their head taken off by the huge broadsword. It added a whole new level of challenge to the fight, since while Yuko was capable of targeting the other side, her slashes were so unpredictable that her own crew had to give her a wide berth in order not to get hit themselves.

15 minutes later, they had managed to trash about half the tavern, and Ayaka and her workers were huddled behind the bar, the proprietress wanting to cry as the brawlers happily wrecked her place of business while fighting each other.

Yossi ended up fighting the tall female sailor who had instigated the fight. They were evenly matched, and both had a handicap which evened the odds out: Yossi was limping, while her opponent was tipsy (not everyone could fight drunk like Yuko). Even then, they put up a decent display of skill, each admiring the other's technique as they crossed swords.

The Second Mate of the Red Dawn couldn't help but feel a surge of excitement as she fought. Finally, a worthy opponent in battle! It had been a long time since she had found someone worth fighting at all. In fact, with the level of skill her opponent was displaying with her twin falcatas, quite the unlikely weapon a common sailor would use, Yossi was beginning to suspect that this was no ordinary sailor.

A startled male cry off to the side distracted her opponent, who turned slightly to see her younger brother being disarmed of his longsword by a grinning Reina. The boyish pirate took advantage of the momentary distraction and pressed the attack, catching her opponent offguard and managing to get a slash in across the left upper arm of the other woman, making her hiss in pain and loosening her grip on one of her swords.

However, it was Yossi's turn to be caught offguard when her opponent dropped her weapons and charged under the arc of Yossi's slash, tackling the startled pirate to the ground, her sabre knocked out of her hand. Before she knew it, the pirate found herself pinned down with a drawn dirk held across her throat.

Everyone froze in midstance at the turn in events. Reina had her harpoon to the male's throat, Makoto was brandishing her cleaver, Mari had locked weapons with her opponent, and Yuko was drinking in the corner again. There was a long moment of silence as each side considered the person who was being held hostage by the other group.

Yossi was looking up at the narrowed eyes of her captor. Neither of them said anything. One could practically hear a pin drop in the suddenly hushed tavern.

Then, unexpectedly, Yossi's captor began to laugh, as did Yossi herself. Everyone else gaped at the two, who had rolled apart and were laughing as if at some great joke. Were they mad or something?

Yossi looked over at her opponent, who grinned irreverently back. "Nice fight. You're good." The pirate remarked, smiling slightly.

"So are you." Was the quick reply, and the two laughed together some more. The rest of their friends lowered their weapons hesitantly and backed off, staring curiously at them.

"My name's Yossi." The boyish pirate introduced herself even as they both rolled up to a sitting position.

"Name's Maki. Just call me Gocchin." Maki got up to her feet, offering a hand to Yossi, hauling the pirate up as well.

"Thanks for the fight, haven't had so much fun for awhile." Maki commented, looking approvingly at Yossi, who smirked back. "My pleasure."

"Gocchin, really, I can't believe you. You picked a fight just for fun?" Natsumi complained, sheathing her falchion as she walked over to their side. "Aya-chan will kill you when she hears about it."

"Well we just have to make sure she doesn't then, isn't that so?" Maki winked at the older woman, who just sighed in exasperation, rolling her eyes even as Risa and Yuuki came to stand beside her.

Mari was looking apologetically at Ayaka, who had finally risen from her hiding place behind the bar. "Sorry about this Ayaka, we'll pay for the damages."

"Us too." Natsumi said. "Least we could do after this mess."

Ayaka took a deep breath before speaking. "I'll live." She said just a tad ironically. "Seen worse."

Yuko stumbled to the fore, smiling drunkenly. "Who's up for a drink then?"

The navy people-in-disguise looked at each other, then at the expectant pirates, before shrugging in unison. "Why not?"

And so, in the aftermath of a tavern brawl, two groups of people who should have been mortal enemies started drinking together in the middle of a wrecked tavern, laughing and making merry far into the night.

---------------------------------------

Tavern brawl yay. xD I've been dying to put that in for a while haha.

...and I just turned Takahashi Ai into a barmaid. XD I planned it right from the start, and was laughing like crazy when I first thought of it...can you imagine Miki happily trying to grope her whenever the pirates came ashore to the tavern? Maybe I'll write a sidestory on that...hehe.

Well, this chapter came out half-serious and half-silly. I must have been deranged when I wrote it. Meh. Haha. Sleepy...

Credits to Yuuyami for Aya's gunblade. I'm tired now. Bedtime! :D Hope you guys liked.

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
- Lilium-related things. God save my soul.

On Hold:
- Everything Else. Too many to list.

I'm also on AO3!
http://archiveofourown.org/users/Estrea

Offline Yuuyami

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« Reply #52 on: March 13, 2007, 08:27:49 PM »
Tavern brawl was awesome, and funny because Yuko is so ADD in your story xD (Fighting like crazy, but then turning to drink for the rest of the brawl, ROFFLE!)

Hawt damn the two crews finally meet! Now let's see that Mashochist pirate and Royal Navy Captain interact like many of us are hoping for! <3

I look forward to Miki groping the barmaid as well :]!

I see many directions that this story is taking, really. One could be that the Nochiura crew might end up befriending the Groping crew and later be torn between friendships and jobs? :0... But I doubt that's the major route of the story... I do have more speculations, but I might ruin the story for others, since that's what I have a habit of doing nowadays o_o;

Write more <3

Offline len.chan

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« Reply #53 on: March 13, 2007, 08:41:33 PM »
amazing, really, I can't stop laughing whit Yuko XDXD
and Maki picking up the fight just for fun LOL
so.. neither Miki or Aya were at tavern... can we expect a meet at the waterfront?

Offline Amarghetta

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« Reply #54 on: March 13, 2007, 09:11:39 PM »
Quote from: Estrea;328472
can you imagine Miki happily trying to grope her whenever the pirates came ashore to the tavern?

I bet it'll be fun to read... XD

Offline C60533

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« Reply #55 on: March 13, 2007, 10:35:29 PM »
Yuko has the ability to fight drunk...and then leaving the fight to go drink again. And lol at Maki starting fights just cause she was bored. So...who from the navy is in the tavern? There's Maki and her bro, Natsumi...and Aya...will she and Miki meet? Soon?

Offline katatsumuri

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« Reply #56 on: March 14, 2007, 12:04:30 AM »
Quote from: Estrea;328472

Kimura Ayaka, the operator of the Sea Coconut...
XD XD

Dunno why... I find this line to be the funniest.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2007, 12:05:11 AM by katatsumuri »

Offline ferrar1

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« Reply #57 on: March 14, 2007, 02:38:36 AM »
Quote from: Estrea
Sea Coconut tavern,

i was wondering who could be the owner till the next line lol-ed me. Nice little references :lol:

Quote from: Estrea
can you imagine Miki happily trying to grope her whenever the pirates came ashore to the tavern? Maybe I'll write a sidestory on that...hehe.

Imagining imagining imagining :ROFL

Please do, Miki had nothing much to grope in the past few episodes
« Last Edit: March 14, 2007, 02:45:20 AM by ferrar1 »

4th Pic of Eri courtesy of t-motion's gallery ~ Sangokushi Taisen anyone ? http://sangokutaisen.blogspot.com/ ~ Lame attempt at a personal blog ~

Offline cheesesticks

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« Reply #58 on: March 14, 2007, 03:23:38 AM »
WhoooooooT for the gunblade. XD
I can just imagine: "oh shit I missed. Oh well. *bang*" XD

lol miki groping aichan the barmaid? Absolutely must need its side story! XD
J'aime le fromage.

Offline coachie

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« Reply #59 on: March 14, 2007, 03:58:11 AM »
Yay for Ayaka!

Hope there's gonna be some more "guest" appearences.

Aya with a gunblade was f**king cool!
All the other weapons I've never heard before... this story has kind of an educational side effect XD

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