The Dread Pirate Sawyer, Part V


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Scene Title The Dread Pirate Sawyer, Part V
Synopsis The Travelers face a dire threat aboard No Strings Attached.
Date December 23, 2018

Just a few feet short of the largest ship in this tiny fleet, No Strings Attached was at one point a literal party boat. It was probably a Ferry back in the 1980s when it was constructed, may have even serviced the route between Manhattan and Staten Island. But before the flood it was the Econolounge Atlantic Caravan, a booze cruise that would go up one side of Long Island and back down to Manhattan in summer months. These days, it serves as a home away from home for children with none to call their own.

Today, it is a warm bastion against the relentless cold.

Situated within the windowed above-deck cabin level of the ship, the first mate of No Strings Attached sits at the middle table in a galley style mess hall. Palpable heat radiates out from the lightly dressed figure of Meredith Gordon, causing thermal breeze to ruffle the hem of her thin sweater. Her hair is likewise tossed in that warm breeze, expelling heat like a tiny blonde furnace. “We may not be the fastest ship,” Meredith says to the two children seated with her at the table, “but we might well be the funnest.”

Set out on the table is a mostly complete board game of Monopoly. Most of the game pieces were replaced with odds and ends found around the Pelago — a real thimble, a metal button with a crescent moon on it, a ceramic rose, a baby silver spoon, and a 1997 High School class ring — but the money and most of the houses and hotels remain. Dice were easier to make from scratch with salvaged plastic reshaped by intense heat in warm hands.

Outside this warm enclave, a storm is brewing. On the gray horizon a snow squall has come to stay. Howling winds buffet the enclosed space, rattling the glass windows and creaking the hull. The ship pitches and yaws with the crash of the surf outside, and sometimes the sail of the much smaller Sayonara can be seen flagging left and right with the same motions.

They’d been told over the radio that there was just a few more hours until they reach their destination, a landmark of a radio tower looming to the north. But the squall was a sign of things to come, the periphery of the Stormfront, and the harsh weather battering down on Eric Doyle’s ship now was only a fraction of what was to come. But they had already come so far, for something that’s hard to believe.

The threat of the Sentinel bearing down upon them was too much to risk, however, and Eric Doyle’s first instinct in the face of overpowering danger has always been to run. It may be a slim chance, but he’s seen enough impossibilities in his life… and a story like this has to have a happy ending.

Just like the ones he tells the children.

“I’ve got some warm cider,” he declares cheerfully as he hustles onto the main deck, cradling a pitcher in one hand and a stack of non-matching cups in the other, a broad smile on his lips. The apples weren’t the best in the world, purchased from one of the skyscraper-gardens at high prices, but it’s warm, non-alcoholic, and better than unfiltered water. “Going to need to get up on the bridge soon, as we get in closer to the— “ The deck lists, and he nearly spills the pitcher before catching himself with a stumble, smile fading briefly for a worried expression as he glances to the windows and growls out the last word, “— storm.”

One hand shoots out instinctively as Doyle starts to lose his balance. Odessa catches herself, as does he, and lowers it to her lap again. A display of power just to save some cider seems a little excessive. And, ultimately, unnecessary. But it is better than unfiltered water.

“Thank you, E- Eric.” The name is awkward on her tongue. He was always Doyle, or just a number when she knew him. Where she knew him. That Eric Doyle wouldn’t have let her step one foot aboard his ship. Unless it was to march her right off the side and into the ocean.

She’s still not convinced that isn’t what her ultimate fate will be, but she has hopes it won’t happen in front of the girls. Which is why she’s here. Watching over her younger self seemed a little… weird. And the potential clash of their abilities… But Doyle’s crew are young - excepting Meredith (what even the hell) - and Odessa wants to look out for them. So she’s here, holding tightly to the side of the table with one hand as everything pitches in the waves. “If there’s anything I can do to help, please tell me.” Can she hold back a storm? That’d be a hell of a trick.

One of those youngsters nearby, though not at the table, leans against one of the walls with her dark hair hanging around her shoulders. Mala’s breathing in the atmosphere. The kids don’t seem scared. Most of them don’t. And the board game is a good distraction. It’s helping her recharge, because she wants to be sure she has the strength to help when the time comes. Odessa recognizes her, too. She’d met Mala in her home timeline, whether the girl had been from that timeline or not. She had been so happy to see Odessa, even if it hadn’t been the one who’d taught her how to play the piano. She had baby sat the woman’s nephew and niece, she had been rather friendly. She’d not met the girl’s adoptive father, though, cause he had trusted her to visit the Ruizes.

This one is not only older, but fuller. It’s as if all the weaknesses in that young fragile body of the girl she’d met had never existed. This Mala had never starved near to death on the streets, she’d never lived off garbage at a young age. She’d had meals and warmth and had grown up healthy. It changed a lot of things.

And she keeps looking at Odessa as if she were a curiosity. They all knew about the travellers now, more or less.

“Since we’re almost there,” Meredith says with a thin smile that is politely applied, rather than reflecting any true happiness in this specific moment, “maybe we could talk about where it is you’re going?” Meredith’s blue eyes alight to Odessa, and she picks up the dice from the board game and rolls them in one hand. “I know you’re all looking for the Commonwealth, and that’s well and good, but I know there’s more to it than that.”

The dice bounce across the board, it’s a six.

“I may not have ever had any children of my own,” Meredith continues, moving her embossed metal button across the board, landing on the electric company, “but I have enough now t’know when somebody’s fibbing me.” She looks down to the board, then down to her money tucked under her side of it, water-damaged and wrinkled things. “Or avoiding an uncomfortable discussion,” is said before she looks up slowly to Eric.

The chipped cups are set down, and Doyle concerns himself with pouring cups carefully out for people and handing them out. Probably best not to set them down with the ship listing like this when they’re full. He avoids Meredith’s gaze for a few moments as he cheerfully insists, “A bit of warm cider’ll make us all feel better…”

He can’t avoid it forever, though, and so he clears his throat and straightens. “So— apparently— Mad Eve found a bunch of people who’d fallen in from Wonderland, stepped through the Looking Glass and gotten lost, and apparently this ‘Commonwealth’ should help them get home? It’s a great story, really— “ He sweeps one big hand towards Odessa, flashing a broad smile with just a hint of oh-god-someone-else-explain edge to it, “She can probably explain. She’s Alice for today.”

Odessa blinks in surprise as the buck is passed to her. “Actually, that’s not a bad way of explaining it, if you can go in for fairy story metaphors.” A quick glance to Meredith tells her that maybe she should be a little more frank.

Cradling the warm cider to her breastbone, she frowns thoughtfully. “There’s someone we have to find in the Commonwealth. We can’t find our way to the next world without them.” Or shouldn’t, maybe. Whether or not the others are strictly needed is a matter of opinion, as far as Odessa’s concerned. Not that she’s opposed to saving lives, just not at the expense of those she’s protecting.

“There’s a certain kind of energy there that I think will make our transition easier. I don’t know how else to explain that.” The cider is tested, sipped at, and lowered again. “We’re trying to find my brother’s son.” She expects that angle will most appeal to those aboard this ship. “That’s why we need to move from this world to the next.”

It doesn’t look like the young Indian woman is even going to pretend she wasn’t listening in, but she does wave away any offer of a drink. Mala had been giving Odessa those strange looks the whole time that she’s been aboard. She’d even cast one during the Captain’s meeting when she did a double take on her. Odessa had no doubt noticed, and now that she’s explained the other world thing, she just looks like she doesn’t believe.

Almost. With a shift she moves away from the windows, toward the table so she doesn’t have to raise her voice too much as she finally says the things she’s wanted to say for days. Honestly the other world business explains one thing that’s been bothering her.

“Even if you are from another world…” It sounds doubtful, but for a different reason that one might think. “You do look like her, but how are you so old? Did what happened to Mad Eve happen to you too?” Cause everyone knew Mad Eve hadn’t always been that old. She’d once told the kids that she’d ran into a Kraken that ate her youth but spit her back out once she started to taste sour.

That had no doubt been a lie. But it was a fun story for the children.

Meredith’s expression is a flat line at the explanation, looking down to the board game and up to Doyle then with a mild but appreciative smile. She takes a cup and the pitcher of cider and pours a glass and hands it down to Mala, then continues den-mothering and handing out cider as she contemplates what she's been told.

“Everyone at the Pelago is afraid of the Sentinel coming back,” Meredith says in a small voice, putting a juxtaposition to their journey. “The street preacher, Else, is hawking fire and doomsday and promising that some hippy Mother Goddess will protect everyone if they just clap their hands and believe in fairies.” Meredith isn't particularly religious, which is made abundantly clear. “I'm worried they might’ve needed us, Eric. T’get people to safety.”

“You shouldn’t dismiss Else so much,” Eric gently rebukes with a shake of his head, “Her stories aren’t mind, but they’re still important. People believe in stories.”

He eases himself into a rickety seat with a sigh and a creak of protesting plastic, rubbing a hand over his face and scalp and looking for a moment as old as he actually is. “They might’ve needed us, yeah. If we did, though, we’d… I mean, we’d be letting the Sentinel get closer to us the longer we waited. This way, if they do, at least the kids are safe.”

He’s not being heroic, he’s running away with everything he cares about in the face of possible extinction.

“I’m exactly as old as I should be,” Odessa responds to Mala’s question, defensive in tone. She’s not old. “In my world,” she begins to explain, “I was taken from my mother as a child by someone who can travel through time. Maybe the same thing happened to Destiny, but she wasn’t taken back as far as I was.” Leaving her 17 to Odessa’s 34.

If the story she was told is the truth. The longer she doesn’t have Arthur around to reinforce it, the less Odessa is certain of her own origins. Fortunately, Doyle’s cowardice makes for an excellent distraction from elaborating or dwelling. “You’re doing what you think is right,” she tells the man, holding an empathy with which she’s surprised herself. “And you’re helping us in the process. Thank you.”

Odessa rises from her seat and meanders to look out on the horizon, stopping where her sword sits propped up against a wall of the cabin.

At the explanation, Mala wrinkles her nose a little as if she doesn’t quite believe that. “Well, I guess Destiny will know what she’s going to look like… eventually.” There’s some things that Mala might know, but she still thinks it’s weird, seeing her young friend looking so much older. And the time travel story? Well, that seemed a little far-fetched too. And not the leek carrying duck kind.

Taking the juice she nods. “It’s better if we’re out here if what they were talking about is actually going to happen.” She agrees with Doyle on that. “I might be able to throw a few anchors at them or something, but…” Most the kids on the boat can’t do anything at all, and she’s not sure how much help Denisa would be. She had a plan to deal with pirates, sure, but big ships? It would be more difficult.

They were better here, she thought.

“We need to settle on what we’re going to do after we drop our passengers off,” Meredith explains in a quiet tone to the table, looking at the Monopoly board with a crease of her brows. “We can't head back south, not right away. Not after we left them. It's too…” She makes a noise in the back of her throat, running one hand through her hair. She's torn.

Looking up to Denisa, Meredith manages something of a mild smile and a strong face, then decides there's time enough later to plan. Motioning to the board, she seems inclined to continue the game now that Eric's back in his seat. “How about we— ”

Not far off the port side there's a reverberating sound of splitting wood. The Sayonara, just barely visible through the squall pitches to one side and then jerks to another. Meredith’s breath hitches in the back of her throat. “Did they hit someth— ”

A pop, and a red flare shoots up from the ship. It's meaning crystal clear.


“Oh my god,” Meredith gasps, the heat rising around her, “Eric— Eric get— oh my god.” Three deep breaths, she allows herself a moment of panic, hold the breath. Exhale. You can do this Meredith.

Slowly creeping into view, another ship has joined the seascape in the far off horizon. The rusted cargo ship is a giant compared to most of the travelers’ hodgepodge fleet of motley ships, though not in much better shape than the smaller boats. Still, what it lacks in finesse or beauty, it makes up for in size — even as far off as this, looking like a tiny toy boat, it’s easy to see it’s hundreds of feet long.

It keeps back, thousands of yards — perhaps it’s not a threat.
But then the sound of mortar shells popping and whistling through the air can be heard, and a look through binoculars will reveal three mortars on the starboard side of the rusted giant, with men loading more. Nearby they hear the fallout — cracks of wood and metal as two shells find their targets.

And then their own hit comes — not in the form of the mortar shell, but instead a grenade that breaks one of the windows of the upper cabin, then begins to whistle and hiss as it spews out tear gas.

“Oh, no,” Doyle breathes out as the red light fills the sky like a dreadful firework, the color draining from his face and the hand holding the cider lowering downwards, “Oh, no, oh— “

The whistle that cuts through the air has him bracing, and as they hit the Sayonara — hopefully not aptly named — he’s stumbling to his feet, the cracked cup in his hand falling to splash onto the floorboards and roll away. “We need— “

He doesn’t get words out before that tear gas canister crashes through the window, and then he’s stumbling away from it, grabbing a handful of his shirt and pulling it up to shield his mouth so he doesn’t breathe it in. He doesn’t know enough about tear gas to cover his eyes as well, which are already watering as he lunges for the door, “Get everyone belowdecks—!”

Not him, of course. He’s heading for the bridge. If he can get there alive and conscious.

“Shit!” Odessa disappears from where she was standing, reappearing outside for a better look at what they’re up against, sword strapped to her back and cup of cider abandoned. When the tear gas canister crashes through the window, she curses again under her breath and runs back inside to grab Doyle and haul him through the smoke and into the open air. She doesn’t open her eyes again until they’re stumbling into the rail together.

Who ever thought this day would come? Not her, certainly.

“Alright, that’s the curtain up. Show time, puppet master.” Odessa lifts her head and looks around wildly for signs of a boarding party.

Mala didn’t even wait for the hissing of the grenade. She was heading above deck as soon as the first sign of commotion happened, but she caught the tail end of the smoke spewing into the cabin, it made her cough and wave her hand as she got up into the open air, grabbing the harpoon-spears that were resting in a stack where she left them. That big ship she definitely can’t do anything about. Much too far away, even with her strength, but if they threw in a smoke grenade there were probably more, a boarding party, and she had fishing spears to work with.

And strength.

“Denisa! They lobbed in some kind of smoke thing. Go get rid of it and make sure everyone gets below deck,” she calls out to the young woman who’s also up on deck— but Denisa is garbed completely differently than usual. She’s wearing what looks like a slick surfer suit. The cold of the water wouldn’t bother her, and she had been one of their plans in case they needed an underwater surprise.

They had hoped they wouldn’t get pirates, didn’t mean they didn’t prepare for it.

At the word of smoke, she pulls the swimming goggles down and grabs the portable oxygen tank and sticks it in her mouth before she’s heading back the way Mala went, to get the grenade and throw it right back out. Or so she plans.

Flashes of heat and glowing metal come from the direction of the Sayonara, but the plight of that small ship is less immediate than the one of Doyle’s. Meredith is up and on her feet when the call to get below decks is made. Meredith fires a look at Odessa and Doyle as they’re moving out of the cabin, and she turns to watch Mala and Denisa taking charge of the situation with a momentary gleam of confidence. As she starts to turn toward the stairs, though, she catches sight of something coming out of the snow.

Doyle and Odessa hear it on the opposite side of the ship, a heavy motor amd the sloshing of ocean water cutting in a wake. An old Coast Guard patrol boat comes up alongside No Strings Attached and slams its port side against the larger and sturdier ship. No Strings rocks a little from the hit, but a half dozen men in ratty, grimy clothes with fire axes, tire irons, harpoons, and chains disembark from the patrol boat. It starts to pull away after that, and the ship’s pilot is nervously eyeing Meredith as wisps of fire start to rise off of her shoulders and arms.

Another man on the patrol boat — short, dark hair, loose clothing — motions to the pilot to cut around the bigger vessel. “Wǒ yǒu zhège,” he says to the pilot before hustling to the side of the Coast Guard boat and leaping in what is not even remotely far enough of a distance to reach Doyle’s ship. Except that when he disappears out of sight he quickly re-emerges thrust upward on a spout of water.

Liu Ye was once a triad enforcer before the flood, but now he and his sister carve out a living for themselves here on the open waters. “You have a nice ship,” Liu calls out as a coil of water rolls down his right arm, “we have need of it. Surrender yourselves.” A cascading wave swirls at Liu’s feet as water from the deck collects in a spiral beneath him. “Or die, I suppose.”

At the other side of the ship, Eric Doyle could feasibly find somewhere to hide from the pirates, or a number of other cowardly tactics, no doubt. Instead, he stops in his tracks, rubbing stinging from his eyes as he twists to look towards the cabin to hear the words called out on the other side.

Meredith,” he hisses out, eyes bulging-wide in the shadows of snow and wave, “Oh, no.. oh, no you don’t…”

A sharp look’s shot to Odessa, “If things go bad, make sure the kids are safe.” Then he’s moving to circle the cabin and come out into the open, pulling up the fisherman-yellow rain hood of his coat in an attempt to obscure his identity in case anyone’s been doing some intel work.

“H-hey,” he calls out, both hands up, “No need to get violent, hey, we’re a civilian ship…” Despite the quavering notes of his voice— acting— his gaze flickers from face to face, and then up to the hydrokinetic showing off his power.

It’s hard not to smile. The arrogant always show off what they can do.

Odessa nods her head with a brief upward tick of the corners of her mouth in a shaky smirk. “You got it.” Her plan is to keep things from getting so bad in the first place, but with the inclusion of the hydrokinetic in this fight, this might be a bit more of an uphill climb than she initially expected.

Still, she’s officially off the leash, and as she presses her back against the wall, listening to Doyle’s performance, she has to bite back a grin herself.

Ignoring the intruders on the boat, Denisa runs down to the below deck with the oxygen tank protecting her breathable air and the goggles protecting her eyes mostly and does what she was told. The hissing helps her find it, though it’s definitely hot to the touch. It might even leave a burn from the way she grimaces before she tosses it right back out the window it came in. It won’t clear the air immediately, but it will at least keep it from building up again.

Mala shifts her grouping of harpoons in her hands and looks at them. She isn’t smelling anywhere near as much positive emotions in the air anymore, but she’s still stronger. It lingers, it holds.

And at the threat she looks toward Meredith and Doyle, one of the harpoons coming up as if she wants to throw it, but will wait for their nod before she does anything. The look might even appear to be one of fear, the way her hands seem to be gripping the spear until the knuckles are white.

Out in the water, now a battlefield, the sound of other mortars whistling through the air can be heard, as well as their collisions with wood and steel and ocean. It’s hard to tell which boats have been hit, with the haze of smoke adding to the already cloudy sky.

As if to answer Denisa’s actions, another grenade crashes through another window, emitting more of the caustic plumes of tear gas to make eyes tear, noses run, and breathing painful. A moment later, one of the mortar shells lands just yards from their ship’s port side, as if to punctuate the ominous words of Liu Ye. The water rocks the boat violently, making it hard for those without sea legs to keep upright.

Given the fact that Ye said they want the boat, perhaps the miss was deliberate.

The water coiling around Liu Ye’s feet begins to rise and fall like a crashing tide. He looks through the window to Meredith’s flame-wreathed form and cracks a crooked half-smile when the the tear gas grenade crashes inside of the ship, causing her to break into fitful and sharp coughing as her eyes and nose begin to flow with mucus. Concentration on her flames ebbs, and Meredith goes out like a snuffed candle. She stumbles, gripping at the wall for support, calling out for someone to get the grenade as flames flicker and lap over her back and arms, expressing her turbulent emotional state.

With Meredith snuffed out, the other pirates seem emboldened by her defeat, Liu Ye among them. “You have some balls leading the Sentinel up here,” Liu says with a sneer to Eric, “they’re going to chase you down like rats. Honestly, we’re doing you a favor.” He raises one hand and the tide of water around his feat slithers up his body like a snake, hovering one end over his palm. “Tell your men to stand down,” Liu demands, followed by a massive explosion nearby that nearly rocks Liu off of his feet.

The Sayonara, visible nearby engaged with a small whaling ship, erupts in a plume of water and wood flinders from contact with what must have been a sea mine. The ship it was engaged with is aflame and its hull glowing white-hot where it boils the water around it. Liu, on seeing this, drains of color and lets out a horrified scream as the whaling ship begins to rapidly sink into steaming water.

Song!” Liu cries, looking back at Doyle with fury. “They all die!” Liu howls, pointing toward Doyle as his pirate crew begins to charge the puppeteer.

As the mortar shell crashes into the water nearby, Doyle's thick hand drops heavily to the rail on the side of the ship, his other lifting to hold a scarf to his mouth as he coughs violently; tears streaming down his cheeks from brief exposure to the tear gas, though the spray of the water and the lashing winds outside have saved him the worst of its effects. Fingers pull the scarf down as the ship's rocking eases, and he spits a gobbet of phlegm off the ship, grimacing as he turns back to those who've boarded his ship.

He brings his free hand up shakily, fingers wavering in the air as if to offer surrender to the demanding pirate— curling in slowly as they do, and as they do strings unseen to all but the mind of the puppeteer descend from nowhere at all, coiling themselves unfelt around arms and legs, around a neck like a noose, and through flesh and bone to coil into the sparking neural flares of the human mind. "L-look, we're civilians," he calls, "You don't have to— "

Liu Ye's attention is grabbed by the eruption of the Sayonara into a watery grave, but Doyle's? Eric Doyle's attention is drawn by the cry for help from Meredith inside the cabin. His eyes narrow to dangerous beads, lips curling in a mirthless and cruel-half smile as his natural cowardice is replaced by one of his other instincts in a heartbeat.

Nobody hurts what's his but him.

The pirates rush forward, and his hand pulls back and up, those unseen threads drawing taut— and Liu Ye does as well, his back jerked straight, head lifted, eyes widening in startlement as his agency is suddenly taken away by the puppeteer. The crashing waves around his feet roar upwards in a rush of hydrokinetic power, sweeping along the wall of the outer cabin and around the crew wielding brutish weapons scavenged from piracy. Then the waves crash into the pirates rather than Doyle in a frothing mass, tidal forces rushing and pulling as they drag them towards the edge of the ship and the abyssal dark of the waters below.

The grenade is caught on the second bounce. Odessa appears from seemingly nowhere with her sheathed sword held like a baseball bat. With one swing, she sends the tear gas canister careening off the side of the boat, smoke pirouetting through the air in its wake. With the sheath strapped to her back again as though there were frames missing from her film reel, the sword remains in her hands as she stands between the pirates and Meredith.

A grin spreads over her face as she watches Doyle work. There is such an appreciation for his work when it's directly benefiting, rather than being turned against her. There's little similarities in how they perform. "You okay?" Odessa asks the pyrokinetic without looking back over her shoulder.

They all die. It wasn’t the cue that Mala had been waiting for, but it will do. She doesn’t move until Doyle does, but once he’s moving she reaches her arm back and throws the spear like a javelin, with a lot of strength behind it right at one of the pirates. Not the main one, she’s letting Doyle handle that one, but one of the others. From the bundle she holds in her other hand she grabs another and throws again, not even waiting to see how well they connect quite yet. Each throw has a little less strength behind it, as she pulls on her stored energy.

On the inside Denisa makes a sound around the oxygen tank hanging out of her mouth. If someone could read minds they would be hearing oh come on coming from her as another smoke grenade falls in. Or perhaps the same exact one. What is this a game of freaking hot potato!? The rocking of the boat might have knocked her off her feet, but she’s been living on boats for years now. She catches herself without really falling. Though she does end up pushing on the burn on her hand. Smoke grenades were hot, hotter than her ability could keep up with.

But that didn’t stop her from reaching and grabbing it again. She’s definitely going to need to bandage a hand. They hadn’t thought she would need hand protection when she suited up.

Screams of panic and confusion are the only tools the pirates have left at their disposal. What ones aren't impaled by the javelin-toss of fishing and blasted overboard by the strength behind the throw are swept off the ship like so much garbage once Doyle has control of Liu Ye’s power. The torrents of water on the sea are nigh unstoppable and Liu’s crew is helpless to defend against it.

As the pirates are pushed back and into the icy water, Meredith is coughing and gagging and stumbling out of the cabin, wiping at her eyes and barely maintaining her footing. The gas got her bad, and she can barely concentrate enough to keep her ability in check let alone bring it to near.

“Eric, we— ” Whatever Meredith was going to say is cut off by a strange, deep burst of subsonic energy that ripples like a shockwave through the ship. It vibrates the deck, rattles what windows aren't broken, and is felt bone-deep. It sounded like it came from somewhere in the storm, from where the Featherweight’s floodlight shines as a beacon.

Then, the ocean explodes.

The sound of the explosion is tremendous, as all of the sea mines detonate at once. A white plume of water blasts into the air and a sea swell from it strikes No Strings Attached from the side and rocks it until it is nearly capsized. Doyle is among those who fall with the rock, smacking into the cabin wall and loosing his tether on Liu.

The hydrokinetic pirate, once freed, immediately raises a hand to Doyle and envelopes him in a swirling mass of water that bubbles up around his neck and shoulders. Liu howls like a wounded animal, flexing his hand open and closed as he tries to force the water up Doyle’s nose and down his throat; not just simulating drowning, but literally trying to drown the puppeteer.

Eric!” Meredith screams in horror, unable to help as the blasted seawater begins to fall like rain.

“Now that we’re alone,” Eric exaggerates with a broad and unpleasant smile, stepping forward slowly over the wet deck where the pirates were mere moments ago, “I can have a talk with you about threatening Meredith. It’s going to be a very short ta- “

Then there’s that deep-felt vibration, and he blinks around— and then his entire world is rocked with that nearby explosion, crashing in against the cabin wall with a grunt, his concentration broken. He shakes his head to clear it, but before he can the water has swirled up around him and crashed into his face, and even as he tries to keep his mouth closed, his nose has no such mechanism. Thrashing helplessly in the grasp of the hydrokinetic, eyes bulging as the seawater washes into his belly and lungs.

"What the fuck was—" Everything suddenly pitches as the ocean explodes around them. Odessa is knocked off her feet and manages to catch hold of a guardrail before she can slide off the deck of the ship and into the freezing water below.

When the ship rights itself, Doyle's control is broken and the tables have turned on the puppet master. Anger flares in Odessa's eyes as she pulls herself to her feet. "Oh no you fucking don't!" With one hand still wrapped around her sword, knuckles white from the vice-like grip, she reaches out with her other hand. Feeling through the air for invisible strings that represent Liu's place in the stream of time, she pulls with a growl of effort, isolating him and bringing his assault to a halt.

"I know you like to play with your food as much as I do," Odessa muses as she stalks across the deck toward her prey, "but I think we've had enough of this one, don't you?"

When the boat seized under the explosions this time, neither Mala nor Denisa are able to keep their feet. Denisa loses the oxygen tank from her mouth and slams into the side of the passenger cabin, the wind knocked out of her. She’s also seeing spots for a few moments, but she isn’t overly injured as she works to get herself to her feet. Below deck some frighten screams could be heard, the others who had come with them, the orphans, throw about.

Mala’s able to catch herself before, but she still hits the deck hard, landing on her bundle of spears. One of them rips through her clothes and into her arm, drawing blood and a soft sound of pain, before she looks toward the hydrokinetic and what he’s doing. She starts to move, to scramble, scrambling towards one of the spears that she dropped. She only had a few left, most where in pirates that she’d knocked off and out of sight. She might have felt bad about that if not for the whole… they all die thing.

The spears roll out of her reach, so she abandons them, moving toward Doyle instead, held in the water, reaching into to grab him, pull him out of the water if needed, and to make sure he was breathing if the older version of one of her closest friends had already managed to get the water out of the way.

It's an insane thing, temporal manipulation. One moment Liu Ye is exacting his suffocating revenge on Doyle, the next he is frozen like a snowflake on a glass pane. While Liu is isolated in time his effect on water is terminated, and as Mala hauls Eric out of the watery mass it collapses harmlessly down to the deck in a sudden splash. The water in Doyle’s lungs, however, has nowhere else to go.

Meredith comes stumbling out of the cabin, hurrying over to Doyle’s side with a look at Mala that implores her help, even if she needn't ask. “On his side, on his side!” She says as she struggles to flip Eric over with the icy seawater on the deck making everything so slick. The snow is sizzling on her skin, steam rising up off of her shoulders, and when she looks over at Odessa there is rage in her eyes.

She doesn't say it, but her expression screams kill him in all the ways she can't vocalize.

Given his personality and history, it’s likely that Doyle would be encouraging the same thing. However, he’s instead floundering like a fish on the deck, eventually— with the help of others— getting rolled to his side as he gags and spits up seawater, spilling from his lips and nose.

Wet, unpleasant coughing brings a worrisome reddish cloudiness to the contents of the sea as he vomits them up, stringy black sea-weed and bits of shell and sand grit coming up with the salty water. Shuddering, bracing himself on the deck as he gasps for breath desperately between spitting up more water. Liu Ye’s assault was a vicious one, and a few moments more and the puppeteer would probably have been with Davy Jones.

Odessa spares only the briefest moment on worry. Once she hears the reassuring sound of Doyle clearing his lungs — coughing means he can breathe, even if it’s strained — she’s back into action.

Sprinting forward, once she reaches the edge of the deck, she lashes out, seeming unnaturally fast. Her blade flashes and once time resumes — for all of them — there’s a darkening around Liu’s midsection. A flick of her arm sends droplets of blood scattering from the edge of the Kensei sword down into the water and onto the deck.

Having pushed him onto his side, Mala doesn’t even attempt to hide the relief when he empties the ocean onto the deck. And really, the sheer pleasure emanating off of woman making a final end of the man who’d nearly killed the closest thing she has to a father would be enough to make her lift the bigger man up and hug him bodily— if she didn’t settle for just wrapping her arms around him.

From where she is inside the cabin, Denisa gets fully back onto her feet and, since it doesn’t seem there’s any more smoke grenades to take care of, she hurries down below deck, to make sure that the other kids were safe and secure, and no one broke anything when the boat got rocked about by explosions— and whatever else all that was. But she retrieves the oxygen bottle on the way. Just in case.

Liu Ye drops to the deck with a wet slap, his eyes still wide but unfocused and doll-like in death. In his passing, in the blood pooling out from beneath him, there is silence. The wind howls, bites, cuts through clothing with wet winter chill, but it's now that the passengers of Doyle’s ship notice that there is no more fighting happening. A dim glow of fire from one ship, clearly destroyed, but no cries of battle.

Meredith hurries over to Eric’s side, taking a knee and brushing one warm hand over his brow. “You big, dumb, idiot,” Meredith hisses with as much affection as she can manage. Her attention turns up to Odessa, then over to Denisa and Mala. “What’s— ” Her voice is cut off by the sound of a mortar launcher firing. Frozen in horror, Meredith ducks her head, waiting for the whistle and the bang.

It doesn't come.

For a terrifying moment there is not but silence. Then, softly, a pop from the air above the pirate flagship followed by the bloom of green through the clouds from a signal flare. The symbolism of the flare is lost on Odessa, but Meredith vocalizes it clearly in her shock.

Cease Fire?” Her eyes grow wide. “They're withdrawing.

The retching of seawater finally stops, vomit mingled with salty water spilt upon the deck, and Eric’s head tilts into the touch of the hand on his clammy brow; shaking, he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, hoarsely getting out, “Guess we… put a scare into ‘em?” A weak attempt at a smile, followed by some more pained coughing, face screwing up into a grimace.

And yet, he’s alive, and so is everyone else on board who’s supposed to be. A better track record than most who face Sawyer’s fleet.

At the sound of the mortar, Odessa immediately brings a hand up, prepared to stop some incoming threat, but it never happens. She stares up at the green tinged clouds in confusion, uncertain to what it means until Meredith elucidates the situation.

Shoulders sag with relief and Odessa’s aggressive posture lowers. She stares down at the corpse at her feet for a moment before turning back to where Doyle is regaining his senses. “You definitely spooked them,” she says with a smirk.

Up on deck, Mala doesn’t even try to hide her relief, sagging against the arm of the big man who was her father in more ways than just about anyone she had in her life. They put the scare in them, certainly. “That was definitely a surprise.” For all of them, really. She wasn’t sure what she had expected when they boarded, but she hadn’t expected…

“We should go check for survivors.” They were one of the few ships with extra room, even with their precious cargo (in the form of children).

Children that Denisa was calming with gentle words and reassurances down below deck. A few bruises from getting thrown about, but nothing that needed immediate attention. Not even the burn on her hand. “We’re all going to be okay.”

They didn’t exactly win, but they didn’t lose, either. At least not their ship.

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