Chapter One : Sleeping on the Job
The storm had passed in the night, revealing a gorgeous day on the open seas. The wind was brisk across the foredeck, so the rabbits were mostly pretending to work below decks while the humans did the grunt work of sailing. Every so often, a rabbit would appear, pretend to polish something, get underfoot and then claim their work meant they'd earned a treat of some sort. The treats inevitably were papaya or naps or both.
Captain Renee Miller, known as Cap'n Ren to most, stood at the wheel, watched her ship and the horizon with a weather eye. She wasn't a tall woman, one might even say short, but she filled out her clothes nicely and was fit from doing as much work as her crew. She wasn't a captain to not do her fair share. Blonde hair kept escaping her kerchief, getting in mouth and eyes. Profanity that no lady would confess to know would fill the air shortly after each hair attack. Even outside her misbehaving locks, Ren was in a good mood. Their holds were full, the wind was strong, and they were on their way to profit and an extended vacation in the Caribbean seas. The master of the Rum Rabbit, a trim and swift ship, rarely had trouble on the waves that they couldn't outrun or avoid.
Sage, Dutch Diva extreme, thumped from the crow's nest. Cap'n Ren had yet to work out how the rabbits even got up there without their mysterious closet system or thumbs. Maybe they'd put in a closet when she wasn't looking. She wouldn't put it past them, but it was nice of the furfoots to let the humans think they were in command. The silver and white rabbit was most insistent about getting attention. She sat with forepaws on the basket and pointed nose towards the horizon.
"Sails on the horizon!" called Patricia Pearl.
Ren pulled her spyglass from one of the pockets hanging from her belt and held it to an eye. A scamper of paws on the stairs announced the arrival of her first mate, Cindy bunny. Cindy was a small white rabbit with dark marks around her eyes and an attitude to rival a bear's. The rabbit periscoped up on hind feet, and Ren held the spyglass down to her. It took a bit of coordination to get the instrument adjusted to the first mate's far sight, but she perked right up when it worked.
Black sails on the horizon indicated The Black Pearl was heading their way.
Usually, a ship would turn and flee at the sight of the black ship, but the Rum Rabbit's captain had a strange relationship of one-upmanship with the Pearl's captain. Flirting, general mayhem and chaos inevitably followed. Chances were, the Pearl had been searching for them to assist in one of Captain Jack's latest madcap adventures. Ren's eyes narrowed at the thought. She still hadn't quite forgiven him for the outcome of the Monkey's Brass Balls.
On the one hand, the payouts when they happened were high. On the other hand, the risks were typically even more. Ren supposed she better hear him out and let the crew have a vote on what to do. She had a sneaking suspicion the rabbits alone would back Jack; they were always up for mayhem.
* * *
The crew of the Rum rabbit watched the sails grow closer. "They have catapults on the fore and aft castles. That's new." Janice observed from where she was leaning against the gunwale. A large white New Zealand rabbit propped his chin over the edge to have his look. He tilted his head to the side and looked thoughtful.
"Cap'n, should we crew battle stations?" Barb asked from behind Janice, fingers drilling against her hip.
Cap'n Ren wanted to say they had nothing to fear, but Captain Jack Sparrow HAD lost the Black Pearl before. "Man stations! Prepare for defence and flight!" she called, eyeing the sails. They were a bit worn and patched from a storm on their way up to Nova Scotia, but they should be enough to escape from most ships. Unfortunately, the supernatural Pearl was far from most ships. If Barbarossa had reclaimed the ship, would he come chasing them? Barb was known for sending letters back and forth. Perhaps it was some lucky crew member who had waited until Barbarossa and Jack were arguing and tossed them both overboard? Although his crew seemed more honourable than all that. She also doubted that anyone could forcibly take the ship, so chances were they had nothing to worry about.
"It's Cap'n Jack at the helm!" Janice yelled from where she'd been watching. Ren couldn't see Sage's eyes up in the Crow's Nest, but she could have sworn the rabbit had just rolled her eyes. Of course, the rabbit already knew that. Of course, the rabbit hadn't bothered to tell them.
"Relax the sails and stand ready." As much as Captain Jack Sparrow was an ally, in theory, she still wanted the option to shoot him if necessary.
The Pearl was within hailing range when she turned to show her broadsides. "What is that sluglicking, rum-soaked, good for nothing, bilge rat doing?!" Called Captain Ren at near top volume. She knew the crew on both ships could hear her.
"Tally-ho!" called Captain Jack Sparrow.
He was standing easy at the wheel and had the nerve to wave his hat at her. Cindy, at Ren's feet, growled.
"I know how you feel, mate." Ren agreed, plenty of growl in her voice. "Raise all sails, turn to the wind and fire on our depart!"
As fast as the Rum Rabbit was, the Black Pearl was already too close, and the catapults were firing. Ceramic jars peppered the deck of the Rum Rabbit as the women and rabbits of the ship loaded sails and readied the canons to be in position to fire.
"They're launching fire pots!" Barb yelled, picking up one of the smoking devices and hurling it back. Even those of a well-fed and exercised sailor, human arms weren't strong enough to get grenade back to the Pearl, but it was the principal of the matter.
The woman frowned and grabbed another as the crew scrambled to toss the smoking pots over the edge. "They're not hot, and they don't smell right," Barb said as she took a sniff. "Oh." she managed before she crumpled to the deck.
"Barb!" Janice yelled as Ren continued to haul on the wheel, turning the ship. Turning the ship had the advantage of getting the cannons towards the Pearl and rolling some of the pots through the drainage ports. Unfortunately, plenty still littered the deck and fallen into the hold.
"What are those things?" Red yelled down to where a bunny had collapsed beside one. "Poison?"
Janice started to answer, hand went to forehead, and she collapsed on the deck. Ren decided if they survived this, she would never let Janice forget she'd fainted in the middle of battle.
One lone cannon from the Rum Rabbit managed to fire, it's aim askew.
The smoke was getting thick on deck, and Ren was feeling woozy herself. The sky was getting dark, and the deck seemed to be spinning without the aid of a whirlpool. "Captain Jack Sparrow," she growled, as she fell to her knees, still trying to hold onto the wheel while trying not to fall on top of Cindy. The rabbit was out cold, but at least she was breathing. "I am going to rip his spleen out through his nose." the captain managed before she too succumbed.
Chapter Two : Why is the Rum Gone?
Captain Ren woke with a screaming headache and a rabbit nibbling on her nose. She let out a long groan, confused why she was lying on the deck. At least there was no vomit. At least, none of her own that she could smell. She couldn't remember a deck party. She managed to sit up, clutching her head while Cindy nudged her. "Nuuurgh." was the most eloquent words she managed.
Cindy's foot thump was much gentler than usual but still expressive.
Ren managed to open one eye to look at her first mate. "Unless ye have coffee, I'm not interested." She then closed her eye again. It was rather bright out, but at least she hadn't seen any vomit.
Cindy let out a huff and bonked her Captain's head with her forehead.
"Damn rabbits." Muttered Ren and opened her eyes. The sun was still quite bright. The sails were hanging loose as the wind had dropped, and the Rum Rabbit was becalmed. Her crew was starting to wake up with encouragement from their furry crewmates. Whatever Jack and his crew had thrown at their ship had hit the rabbits firstbut not as hard as it had their human brethren. "What the hell was that?" she asked no one in particular.
"Sleeping gas?" Pearl groaned from the main deck. Mr Mick, a brown lo,p grunted and thumped his displeasure. The human sailors around him groaned at the noise and reverberation.
"Go make yer scurvy laggard selves useful and go make coffee," she told the rabbits on deck. Of the seven present, three turned tail and headed down to the galley. Cap'n Ren would one day figure out how they communicated with each other to assign duties, but today she and her headache didn't care.
"I am going to send Jack to the bottom of the seas to have tea with Davy Jones," Ren muttered as she got to her feet.
"I've got some bad news, Cap'n," Janice said, appearing from below decks. She looked remarkably perky. Ren considered tossing her over the side.
"If it's we're out of coffee; I don't want to hear it." She'd had the beans imported from Java especially. And by imported, she'd had the rabbits steal them from an East Indian Company vessel.
"Worse," Janice said, looking grim.
"What's worse than no coffee?!" Ren asked, heading down the stairs. She stopped one foot hanging in the air, dread filling her heart. "Not the rum?"
"The rum," Janice confirmed. "The rum is gone."
"Why is the rum gone?" Ren asked no one absently, her face then darkening to anger as realization sunk in, "That liver sucking, drink addled, sun-baked, slug licking, turtle riding, son of a squid!" Ren swore, hand going to the hilt of her cutlass. "I'll gut him. I'll pull his spleen out through his nose. I'll put leeches on his privates!"
The crew, lagomorphic and human alike, stood around, heads bowed, in mourning at the loss of the rum. Even the sun felt the moment and hid behind a few wisps of cloud.
After several long moments, Cap'n Ren shook herself off. "Right then. Rabbits, you will take one messenger to the distillery to order a new batch, another'll head to Tortuga to warn Diesel to keep an ear out for the Pearl and then notify the taverns their deliveries are going to be late. The rest of us are gonna start getting this ship to Tortuga and getting our rum back from those scurvy bastards, savvy?"
"AYE!" came an enthusiastic chorus accompanied by rabbit thumps.
Shortly after that, there were many groans of pain as headaches said loud noises were a bad idea.
Coffee first, sailing after.
Chapter Three : Tortuga Charming as Always
It almost seemed like one smelled Tortuga long before you could see it. The pirate haven wasn't known for its sewers and litter laws, after all. Mostly the plan seemed to be dump all sewage in the current and hope it went away quickly. Ren was always paid extra for a berth that was not only upwind by the farthest from the bilge that one could get. As they approached the upper port, Ren guessed rates had gone up again as she had her choice of docks. She knew they were about to get robbed a second time.
"Cindy, get down there and negotiate with that greedy pirate," Ren ordered as they started throwing lines down. The anchor quickly fell to the bottom, gripping against the remains of cannons, ships, and whatever other debris had been thrown in.
Cindy snapped her teeth, gleefully turning on one heel and hopped off. She got as far as mid-deck to wait expectantly for the gangplank, tapping her fore-paw impatiently. Cindy could easily hop from ship to dock, but it didn't do to rush when you didn't have to. She saved such maneuvers for when she really needed to impress someone or steal their hat.
Once the walkway was in place, Cindy hopped down and looked up at the dockmaster who had been coming up to the ship. He looked at her. She sniffed at him and tried not to gag. The man smelled like he'd been swimming backwards through a whale's gullet.
"Oh, it's you." He managed.
Cindy sat up on her hind feet and tapped a fore-paw against the wood of the dock.
The dockmaster cleared his throat, "Well, right, well, right.. See, docking fees have gone up twelve percent and.."
He stopped because the small white rabbit had lept almost five feet straight up to grab his clipboard, twist in mid-air, and land with her hindquarters facing him. She turned to look at him, holding the clipboard in the middle of its length. Cindy blinked once and then bit down, snapping the clipboard in half and sending papers fluttering into the breeze. She then pointedly looked at his midsection.
"Uh." he stared at her wide-eyed.
Cindy snapped her teeth.
"Yes, right, previous rates are fine," he assured her before trying to grab as many of the papers as he could before the wind sent them too far to catch.
Cindy sighed and displayed a few more acrobatics, grabbing most of them. Humans were just so slow and clumsy. She hopped over to him and periscoped for him to take them.
"Yes, thank you first-mate rabbit, rum Cindy, uh, just .. Send your payment to the office then?" " he took the papers and backed away before turning tail and fleeing.
Cindy snorted her amusement before hopping back up the gangplank. You'd think the humans would learn not to mess with rabbits.
While Cindy was gone, Captain Ren set her women about. They had supplies to top up, repairs to perform, and weather to figure out for their trip back up north this late in the season. She would feed Jack's gizzard to the gulls if they didn't get their rum back. She expected half of it had been drunk, and they'd have to make the trip anyway.
Once the ship's tasks were set in motion, Ren got changed into her visiting gear. A light weave, white, linen blouse that flapped over to reveal generous cleavage, a dark blue bustier to hold it closed and push up her assets, and black breeches made of thick cotton. She supposed she could put on the fancy boots, but really, it was hot, and she didn't like sweaty feet. It was time to visit the Pearl.
Chapter Four : On Board The Pearl
The Black Pearl wasn't far down the harbour, but it certainly wasn't in one of the more luxurious locations. The smell of bilge wafted from down the beach, but at least the Pearl itself smelled clean. Bright sun and cooling breeze at her back, Captain Ren marched up the gangplank of the Pearl.
The pirate who stood guard looked like he was perhaps old enough to shave, which would explain why he was on such a dirt duty. "You can let me by, or you can go for a swim, savvy?" Cap'n Ren told him, hand against his chest. He'd tried pushing against it, but she'd refused to be budged. At twice her height and probably half again her breadth, this confused him to no end. Sometimes having a ship full of rabbits who taught you exciting things about physics was worth all the headaches. Did the average sailor appreciate how hard it was to keep cilantro fresh on the open seas?
"I can't just let anyone aboard," came the spluttering reply as the young man reached for the cutlass tucked into his rope belt.
"Idiot," Ren muttered and shoved him into the harbour. He went into the drink, windmilling his hands. She stuck around long enough to make sure he could swim. She never quite understood the idiocy of sailors and anglers who went to boats without knowing how to survive in the water. If you were going take to the seas for your livelihood, you should probably learn how to swim.
She sashayed her way up onto the Pearl. "Your watchman's in the water." She told the nearest crew member who happened to be Mr Gibbs.
The pirate in question looked at her and then looked over the gunwale to the water below. "Moron overboard!" he called, with more sigh than enthusiasm. He turned back to Ren. "Apologies, Cap'n Ren, he's new."
"Well, he got baptized," Ren replied. "Now, tell me, Mr. Gibbs, where is my rum?"
"Turn the sails! Turn the sails!" a golden and blue macaw called from the rigging.
"Well, that's a bit complicated, Miss Captain, Ma'am," Gibbs said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Y'see, I uh, well.."
Ren rolled her eyes and waited.
"Storm ahead!" reported the parrot.
"Yes, I'm aware, Mister Cotton's Parrot." The sailor agreed.
Ren looked between parrot and pirate. "You gave him a rank but not a name?"
"Well, it's not right to name another man's parrot." She was informed.
Ren let out a long-suffering sigh. "Fine, you can't or won't tell me where my rum is. What about your no good, stinking, would sell his mother for some rum, Captain?"
"Uh, well, he's not here at the moment." Mr Gibbs was slowly inching away from her. "Although, I don't think he'd sell his MUTHER for rum, but certainly his father."
Ren gritted her teeth, "Where. Is. Jack? Don't make me send this garbage scow to the bottom of the seas."
"No offence, Miss Cap'n Ren ma'am, but the Pearls been there before and survived fine." the pirate wiped his brow.
Ren's eyes narrowed dangerously, and she took a step closer to her rapidly-becoming-foe.
"Turbulent waters, pull in the rigging!" The parrot warned.
Mister Gibbs again cleared his throat, "Right, well, he went ashore hours ago. He's probably two taverns down by now."
Ren wondered if it would be bad manners to gut him. A sopping wet guard came up the plank and went widely around her, making sure to stay out of reach of her cutlass and fists. Unfortunately, Ren was pretty sure it would be rude to hold the crew responsible for the captain's actions, no matter how traitorous they were.
"Fine." Ren turned on her heel and marched back down the gang planet.
"Safe harbour again!" called the parrot.
"Yeah, yeah. Mouthy chicken," Ren grumbled, wishing she had worn her boots after all. Stomping down didn't have much effect when you made faint thumps instead of rolling thunder. And if nothing else, she could have thrown a boot at the parrot.
Chapter Five : The rum is Really Gone
Once she had a building between her and the Pearl, Captain Ren took a deep breath, regretting it instantly. She'd exchanged the smell of sewage for the smell of sewage and severe body odour. You'd think with a warm ocean nearby the locals would clean up more often. Maybe they believed the afternoon showers of rain would clean them sufficiently. If that's what they thought, they were wrong.
It seemed only the painted ladies kept themselves clean and tidy, and there weren't a lot of them out this early. You could pretty much tell a whore's standing by how early she was forced to wake up to try and get some customers. Ren had nothing but sympathy for them and tried to get the ones who wanted to escape work elsewhere. Women who reached retirement ages were happy to learn a new trade and find a new home either in the colonies or the old world. There weren't a lot of glory boys here and they, being in demand and well treasured, rarely woke up before three in the afternoon.
The most surprising thing Ren found about Tortuga is how well the buildings were built. When she'd first washed up on the dock, she'd expected ramshackle huts that were falling apart. It made sense, however, that if the pirates could perform carpentry on a ship, they could certainly build a shop or tavern.
Squaring her shoulders, Ren adjusted her tricorner hat, that hopefully showed her rank so she wouldn't have to throw fists, and headed into the tavern closest to the docks. She didn't think she'd find Jack here as he liked to wander and wrack up bills in as many taverns as he could get away with, but it was as good a place as any to start. Besides, she needed the rum.
It didn't take long to flag down the bartender and get a shot as the place was next to empty. The taproom also smelled a lot better than outside as a couple of staff were busy washing the floors, and the very large and dark bartender was polishing the brass. She very carefully didn't lean down on his hard work. She'd discovered long ago that the price of rum was in direct proportion to how much of a pain in the ass you were.
"Captain Sparrow been through?" She asked the bartender when he was at her end of the bar again to see if she wanted another shot.
After receiving a 'well, duh' look, the bartender poured her a second shot. "That be why we're washin' the floor." the bartender told her. "Threw him out. Last I saw 'em he was staggerin' up to The Dirty Shank."
Ren downed the shot in a gulp and saluted the man before putting some coins on the counter. "Thanks."
The next three taverns went about the same, and Cap'n Ren had to admit she was starting to feel the rum. A few of Jack's crew had seen her, her expression, how she was walking and quickly spluttered their best guesses on where to find their Captain. She was also feeling angrier and angrier as she was failing to find the thief of her cargo.
The fifth tavern, "The Wagon's Flagon," had a scattering of Jack's crew and the Captain himself. By this time of day, the tavern was starting to fill up with pirates standing around the bar, looking to waste their money and brag about their stolen cargoes. The locals were happy to relieve them of their money and pretend to care about their stories and bragging.
Captain Ren pushed through the crowd to where she could hear Jack holding court. Her lot in life was that everyone was taller than her. She managed not to succumb to temptation and kick everyone who shoved her.
When she found Captain Jack regaling two pirates with his supposed accomplishment over women, she stalked right up to him.
"Captain Ren, darling!" he said, arms wide, a delighted grin on his face.
"Where is my rum?" She asked tersely.
Jack pulled his hat from his head and held it over his heart. "Oh, your rum is gone, lass." He told her solemnly.
Ren wasn't particularly surprised when her fist developed a mind of its own and landed a solid punch to Jack's jaw, sending him spinning out of his chair and to the floor. He managed a groan before his eyes rolled up, and seemed to pass out.
Ren prodded him with her toe and looked at his two companions. Said companions immediately declared they had other places to be and fled. So much for defending the Captain of their ship. She turned on her heel, shoving back through the crowd and grabbed a bucket of seawater, and who knew what and went back to Jack to dump it over his face and chest.
The Captain of the Black Pearl came to with a splutter. "What was that for?"
"I wasn't sure you were shamming or not," Ren answered sweetly as he tried to get to his feet. "We were discussing what you've done with my cargo."
He rubbed his jaw and looked at her thoughtfully. "The rum is gone. Paid some bills, paid some pirates, got ingested, had a great party, got something or other somewhere or other."
Ren growled and grabbed his shirt. It was, as usual, loose and undone. However, she was more than happy to bunch up one half and yank him towards her. "And why shouldn't I do very unpleasant things to your cursed carcass?"
"Because I know the truth about you, Captain Ren, darlin'." He smirked and disengaged her fingers. "You're not a pirate."
Her eyes narrowed, and she debated hitting him again.
"Your cannons don't fire much at all, love." He leaned back in the chair he'd clambered back onto, rocking it back onto its hind legs. He seemed to realize his rum-soaked reflexes weren't up to that and leaned forward again in a hurry, waving his arms for balance. "Though, you do have lovely cannons."
"We are not talking about my cannons. We're talking about my rum!" Ren shot back, really not trying to think about the way Jack was admiring her cannons. She refused to get distracted.
"You are, in fact, a rum runner, not a pirate. Smuggler, if you will. Fast ship, secret routes, lovely, lovely routes, and while smuggling rum is a fine job choice, I'm not sure that's allowed access to pirates coves and uh.. Other piratey pirate things." He looked smug.
"Keep it up, and I'll show you pirate," she growled. Was it her fault she and her crew weren't big on killing? Well, she wasn't sure about the rabbits. For vegetarians, rabbits were awfully bloodthirsty.
"The fact of the matter is, darlin', you have a secret and no rum. I have your secret and no rum. The Crown does not have your secret or your rum. So askin' for the rum back is pointless, so you might as well go find more rum." He leaned forward, looking from side to side as if this was all a great conspiracy. Ren really wanted to hit him again, or maybe kiss him. No, hitting him seemed more tempting at the moment. "Besides, I did you a favour relieving you of your rum."
"How in the seven hells did you do me a favour?!" Ren spluttered. Would he really rat her and her ship out to the Crown?
"Are there seven hells? I thought there were nine. I didn't think to count when I was there. Did you know I died? I don't think there was a very nice funeral." He looked down at the empty bottle of rum before him. Well, there was probably a mouthful left in it.
Before Jack could finish the rum off, Ren grabbed the bottle, swallowed the rum that was left and stood up. Obviously, this was pointless, the drunken bum had pissed away her rum, and there was nothing she could collect. "We will have an accounting, Jack Sparrow."
"CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow. Not a fan of accounting, too much math and work. I let Mr Gibbs worry about that. He's quite good at that sort of --" he trailed off because the Captain of the Rum Rabbit had stomped off. He watched her behind until she was lost in the crowd.
Chapter Six : Visiting with Diesel
Captain Ren would be the first to admit she wasn't in a particularly good mood. She wound her way through the growing crowds as clouds started to gather for the afternoon deluge. Soon enough, the crowds would move from the streets and into the bars and brothels. It wouldn't be soon enough for her tastes, just wasn't in the mood for the pushing crowds and stench of body odour. When she felt like retiring, she would open a brothel-baths. The baths and soap would be free, the brother not so much. Alas, who was she kidding? She could never exploit other women like that, but it was sometimes entertaining to think about. She'd open a bar, but there were already more of those than there were customers.
She stomped up to one of two stables on the pirate-infested town. It's not as if there were a lot of places that required transportation, so it was another business that barely stayed afloat. However, this is where Diesel wanted to be and who was she to argue with the most stubborn horse she'd ever met? She was generally the first in line to argue, but she lost more arguments than she won.
Her horse was standing, swaying a little, in the sun. His trough looked delightfully cool. She stuck her throbbing hand into the liquid and then pulled it out to give it a sniff. "Do I even know where you got the rum?" It was mostly water, but there was definitely rum in there.
Diesel looked as innocent as he possibly could. Considering his mane was currently in braids with beads, and he wore a kerchief with holes for his ears, he wasn't looking very innocent. He was looking rather piratical. Ren sighed and stuck her hand back in the trough. Diesel flicked his ears back and looked offended.
"Oh, relax, the alcohol content is high enough to clean whatever dirt I may have." She told him.
He gave a deep sigh as if he were the most put upon soul in the entire Caribbean.
"Drama queen," Ren muttered. Her horse took a few steps forward, well, mostly forward, and gave her a nudge with her nose. "Oh. That. I punched Mr Jack Sparrow."
Diesel's head pulled back in obvious surprise.
"Well, he raided my ship, stole my rum, and then had the nerve to tell me he was doing me a favour!" Had she punched him before that last part? She couldn't remember. "THEN, the lout had the nerve to threaten me!"
Diesel nodded along in sympathy before nudging her free hand. She took the hint and gave him forelock scritches. His tail swooshed happily.
"I can't even get my rum back because that barnacle loving bilge sucker has sold it all! Or so he claims, he probably drank it all himself." Ren grumbled. This got a few more sympathetic nods from the horse. She pulled her hand out of the trough and dried it on the bottom of her shirt.
Diesel shifted, so his side was presented to her.
"As if I could mount you without a ladder," Ren grumbled. She should have rescued a smaller horse, like a pony.
Diesel flicked his ears before looking about and turning a walking over to a tiered mounting block to give her a pointed look.
"Fine," Ren grumbled before climbing the block and clambering onto her horse's back. She rode waves, not horses. She was glad Diesel didn't give her forcible dismounts very often, mostly when he was feeling puckish. It would probably start bucketing rain shortly, and Diesel would blame her for his getting wet. For a horse that liked to jump off ships into the harbour, he was awfully prim.
Diesel nodded happily once she'd mounted and meandered out of the stable towards what passed for the town square. Several of the ladies of the night cooed when they saw him. He tended to give rides to the ladies when he was bored. It was probably them who had donated the rum and braided his mane. He hadn't allowed tail braiding ever since he'd lashed himself with the beads trying to get rid of irritating flies. He'd scared himself silly with the sudden pain, not that he was about to admit it.
Once the duo arrived in the square, Diesel turned sideways so Ren could see the board with the Crown's announcements. Typically it was just stolen newspapers tacked up where the Crown had bragged about what pirates they'd caught and hung. Amongst the mess of paper were warnings and bills. "What am I doing here?" She asked Diesel. He just rolled his eyes. Ren sighed; animals that weren't supposed to be able to speak sure managed to make their attitude spoke volumes.
No pirates she knew of had been hung, the ones that had seemed to have done stupid things like brag about who and what they were in bars. However, a notice that the Crown's blockade had recovered a great deal of stolen goods caught her attention. "Ah." She said. Apparently, Captain Jack Drinks-a-lot HAD done her a favour. By stalling their ship, he'd preventing the Rum Rabbit from being caught by the blockade. However, he could have just told her and not stolen her rum!
Diesel looked at her pointedly.
"He still stole my rum!' she told the horse.
Diesel humphed and turned to walk them back to the stable.
They reentered the yard, and Ren slid down to the ground, a ground that seemed further away every year. She tapped her foot impatiently as she thought. "Well, the rum is gone, and we have little in our purses. I suppose it's time to come up with a plan to get some rum and some coin."
Diesel nodded and then shoved his nose under her hand to get petted some more.
Ren suddenly grinned as she stroked his nose, "And Baby D, do I have the best idea of how to get some rum."
Diesel thought she looked particularly piratical at that moment.
The skies, of course, opened and started pouring rain as she made her way back to her ship.
Chapter Seven : Plans and Schemes
As soon as the deluge of rain let up, the crew gathered on the main deck, looking up at their Captain. Ren was standing three stairs up to make this happen. It wasn't fair the only ones on her crew that were shorter than her was the rabbits, and they refused to acknowledge that they were short. Bloody Napoleans, the lot of them. "As you all know, we were pirated by that no-good-stinking-outta-take-a-bath Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew of misfits. What you may not know yet is his excuse was that there was a blockade that would catch us, and the rum was payment." She'd rather have given him their cash on hand, but the lout hasn't asked, had he?
Cindy was lounging in a hat that looked like one of Jack's. The first mate had her own ideas of revenge. She'd probably snipped one of his braids while she was at it.
"So ladies, rabbits, what we're going to do is get us some rum and some revenge," Ren said with a piratical gleam in her eye. "First up, we need some spies." She looked at the rabbits, "Then we'll need some thieves." She nodded to the ladies, "And we'll need some distraction. If all goes according to plan, we'll have some rum, some goods and be back in the black."
"When do things go to plan?" Janice asked.
"Almost never," Ren admitted, especially when rabbits were involved. "But it's a good outline."
The crew exchanged looks. Ren sighed. "Let's get on with this, shall we?"
It didn't take long to convince three rabbits to hop over to Captain Jack's ship to lay in wait for him to catch a fat merchant from one of his favourite trade routes. The man seemed to know everything the East Indian Trade company was up to alongside the French and Dutch versions. He didn't seem to like any of them for their habits of slavery and exploitation of people. The rabbits would probably be drunk for their entire tour of duty, but at least they were reliable. Ish.
Waiting in dock for the Black Pearl to depart was tedious, but many games of cards were won, lost, and eaten. Ren practically kept Hewson in business with the amount of playing cards they had to buy; rabbits were sore losers. When the Pearl finally disappeared over the horizon, Ren found herself owing Miss Lola Bunny two foot rubs and a scarf. She'd one day figure out how a creature with no thumbs was so good at cheating.
"Haul anchor and booty!" Ren called as she headed up to the wheel. They had to keep in range of whatever method the rabbits used to transport their fuzzy tails around as well as out of sight of the Pearl. It sounded easier than it was. If she was lucky, they'd get a few mild squalls to shorten the horizon.
It took three days of nerve-wracking sailing before the spies returned to announce the Pearl engaged in combat against a couple of traders. The rabbits had refused to stay aboard during combat, so Ren was forced to guess when it was safe to send them back. It also took a while to bribe the rabbits enough for hard work done and hard work to come. Not that she was sure what was so hard about lounging around in the hold.
Several hours later, the spies returned to report that the raiding was successful and the pirated of the Pearl were sufficiently soused. "Right then, raise all sails!" Ren called to her crew. Her trio of spies yawned and headed below decks for a nap. As Ren was pretty sure they'd spent the last three days drinking and sleeping, she wasn't quite sure what they were so tired about.
The Pearl's sails were lax, and her rabbits reported even the lookout was drooling on the side of the crow's nest. Jack was going to be quite cranky with his on-duty crew.
The Rum Rabbit managed to get within cannon range before the alert was even called. "Latch on and prepare to board!" Ren called to her crew. The cackling wenches were happy to comply, and in a short time, she was casually strolling onto the deck of the Black Pearl yet again. It was pure coincidence she'd went and found her boots so she had a few extra inches of height and the heels rang nicely as she strode.
The Pearl's crew was stumbling to their feet and consciousness. Jack appeared out of his cabin. "OI! What're you doing here?"
"You left harbour without saying goodbye or let me return Cindy's hat collection" Ren may have put an extra roll to her hips as she approached Jack before running her forefinger down his chest.
"Are ye here to hit me again? Seems an awful long way just for that." He was looking at her suspiciously. "And never in the history of rabbitdom has a rabbit given up a hat with rabbity chewed holes without a fight. A fight you leave to others because you don't fight with a rabbit."
"I feel just terrible. I misjudged you!" Ren said, wide-eyed. She batted her baby-blues for extra oomph. She sidled up and wrapped her arm around his waist, resting her cheek against his shirt. "Can you ever forgive me?" Bat-bat-bat of eyelashes.
"Ah." Jack managed. "We got rum, and you gave no broken bones. It could have been a worse row." His arm, the one not attached to a mostly empty bottle of rum, snaked around her waist. "But, truly, you hurt me heart and damaged the crew's view." He looked at the nearest sailors who were eyeing the ladies of the Rum Rabbit suspiciously.
"Oh, Aye." several of them agreed.
"Terribly damaged." a sailor added, taking his beaten hat off his head to hold it over his chest and stare at his dirty feet.
"Oh, no!" Ren replied, trying to look as guilty and shocked as possible, "However can I make it up to you? Should we go to your cabin and discuss it.. In detail?"
"Yes, in detail. Extensive detail. Very much detail. I like detail." Jack agreed, turning himself and her back towards his cabin.
"Janice! Perhaps the lads would like to play some hands while you await the end of the Captain's, er," she jumped because Jack's hand had just grabbed her bottom. "Conference. Yes, captain's conference."
Janice managed not to roll her eyes. "Oh, I don't know, Cap'n, the boys have so much more experience than us! I'm not sure if we could keep our purses!"
The ladies were assured that the Pearl's crew would take it easy on them and not steal all their money at once.
Pearl, fortunately, was looking away when she rolled her eyes. She couldn't believe that not only did Jack's crew fall for this, but some of them had fallen for this multiple times. Show a bit of cleavage and their brains promptly jumped ship.
Chapter Eight : Rabbitus Interuptus
Captain Ren looked around Jack's cabin with open curiosity. As he minced around, already undoing his own shirt, she ignored him in favour of taking a peek at his charts. The room was remarkably organized and didn't show the chaos of Jack's mind in the least. She once again wondered how much was act and how much was fact.
"Quite the collection," Ren observed.
"Oh yes, I steal charts of ships we find, look at them, see what they got wrong and then sell them back. Can't know where they're going if they aren't going wrong. Can't be wrong without the right maps."
As with most things, Jack, it made an odd sort of sense.
"Shall we conference?" Jack asked, approaching her sans hat, bandana, and shirt.
Captain Ren admired the view. For all his idiosyncrasies, he wasn't bad scenery, even if he did get her horse drunk and steal all her rum.
He leaned in, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulled her up against him.
"Eeep!" she managed. She was then startled to find his breath minty and not it's usual rotten rum scent. In fact, it actually smelled like the pirate had even bathed recently. Maybe someone had opened a brothel-bath house in Tortuga while she wasn't paying attention.
He pressed his lips against her, stepping forward to push her back against his desk, tongue licking her lips as one handheld her back and forced him against her, the other tangling in her hair.
Ren opened her lips against his, his tongues intertwining. Her breasts pressed against his chest, Ren had a hand against the back of his neck, the other wriggled free to grab his butt and caused him to jump against her, a pleasing noise in the back of his throat. His attention was clear and pressed up against her, firm and obvious.
He lifted her up onto his desk, shoving maps and charts aside, her legs wrapping around his waist. His hand on her back moved up her side before going back down to slip under her blouse, dancing lightly across her skin. He pulled back enough to be able to run a finger along the boning of her half-stays. "Love, this has got to go," he murmured against her lips right before there was a pounding against the door.
"BUSY!" both Captains yelled at the door.
"Sails on the horizon, Cap'n.. Er, Cap'ns!" was the retort, muffled.
Jack rested his forehead against Ren's for a moment, both attempting to get breathing under control. She unwrapped her legs from his. "We shall continue this later. For later, it must be continued." He grabbed his hat and ignored his shirt that was lying on the deck, and dashed out of his cabin.
Ren slid off the desk and was tempted to steal the charts, but in all honesty, she had no idea which were the real charts and which were Jack's fixed wrong ones and the fixed right ones to be wrong. Great, swap a little saliva, and suddenly she was even thinking like him.
Cindy stuck her head around the open door and twitched an ear.
"I know, I know, time to go," Ren muttered, adjusting her stays and blouse. She sighed, one step forward, two steps behind. She picked up the bottle Jack had somehow left behind and sniffed it. She should have known. He'd somehow added mint flavouring to his rum. She drank the dribble that was left and followed Cindy out onto deck.
The Black Pearl was hopping. "Excuse me, Cap'n Ren, if you, perhaps wish to be deboarding, you may wish to hurry." Mr Gibbs told her.
"Hurry hard, hurry hard." the parrot reported from overhead.
Captain Ren knew when to exit, and she did it in a hurry, Janice already unhooking from the Pearl as Ren stepped onto her own ship. "Distraction achieved?" Janice asked slyly.
"Oh, shush," Ren grumbled. She was distracted, alright. Maybe she'd have to find some time alone in her bunk later. "Mission accomplished?"
Cindy gave her captain a disgusted look.
"Oh right, never doubt the ladies or the bunnies," Ren grumbled. Janice snorted her amusement.
Ren ignored the thump from her first mate and hauled herself up to the wheel. "Cast off and move out!"
Wasn't it just so convenient that the Dutch Tea Company had had a report of a slaver in distress and needing to unload its cargo? Ren was happy to leave Jack to his fun while she also left with his rum.
"Full speed ahead, let's get while the getting is good!"
Chapter Nine : Beach Blankets and Rum It had been another sunny day in the Caribbean. The crew of the Rum Rabbit were sprawled out on the beach, shaded by palms, enjoying the breeze and wind. All bills were paid, cargo delivered, and still there was rum leftover. In fact, there'd been enough rum leftover that Cap'n Ren had sold a chunk of it to pay off the Pearl's tavern and docking fees before leaving the rest in trust. She had a sneaking suspicion that when Speedy had returned from the Dutch East India Company vessel, he and a few of his fellow four feet had gone across and stolen all the rum from that ship as well. Rabbits may be high maintenance, but when you put them to work with their strengths, they sure did pay out. Cindy was lying on her back on one of Jack's bandanas. "Comfortable?" Ren asked wryly. Rabbit paws weren't flexible enough to make the actual rude gestures that humans favoured, but they a one eared salute got the message across.
The human half of the crew were busy trying to see if they could out-swim the tide. Ren was exhausted just watching them. Besides, any time she went into the water, Diesel tried to get her on his back so he could dunk her. She wasn't falling for that a fifteenth time. The sun was starting to set, and it was probably more than time to relieve the crew they'd left on the Rum Rabbit. "C'mon, you louts, time to get back to the ship!" With grumbles and mutters, the crew picked up the empty bottles and a mostly empty half-keg of rum and staggered their way back towards the port. The rabbits seemed quite happy to nap on the beach with Diesal keeping guard. Ren just hoped the horse didn't fall over on top of them. The Captain of the Rum Rabbit looked out to see. "You'll always remember this as the day you almost captured Captain Ren's rum!" she told the waves.