Eliana tugged at the collar of her shirt… the dress uniform wasn’t hers, and it hadn’t been tailored to fit perfectly. It was slightly too small for the woman, a fact that she was uncomfortably aware drew attention to her breasts that she would rather stayed off of her entirely. She pulled her collar away from her throat again, trying not to think about how it felt almost like hands around her neck again. None of the clerks in the lounge were looking at her, but she felt like they all were… ever since she had made landfall, she had felt like everyone was staring at her all the time, like they all knew what had happened to her, what kind of failure she was.
Forcibly, the disgraced captain turned her gaze away from the room, looking out the window as she folded her arms over her chest, hiding her breasts behind them… and locking them in place so she couldn’t fidget anymore. Otherwise, she would probably start rubbing at the makeup on her brow again, and the last thing she wanted was to reveal the scar beneath it and have people stare at that as well. She turned her green eyes on the harbor below, watching the dozens of ships in armor with jealous eyes.
It had been almost two years since the last time she had stepped foot in the city of Felarin, and that had only been one time since three more years before that… since she had graduated the naval academy as the youngest officer in its illustrious history. Eliana could see from here where the ceremony had been held, where Imperial Minister Gideon had congratulated her in person… she could still remember the look on his face as he told her that he had been there when her father had graduated from that very spot, and that she looked so much like him.
It was funny how she could remember it like it was yesterday, but it felt like a hundred years ago. Had she really once been a promising naval officer in this very city? Eliana could scarcely imagine herself that way anymore. Now she was a disgrace… her ship at the bottom of the sea, much of her crew dead or scattered, the island she was assigned to protect sacked by the very pirates she was supposed to be protecting it from, and the island’s marine commander was still a captive in their hands. She could scarcely think of a way her failure could be more complete other than that she was still alive… and Eliana wasn’t even sure how she had managed that.
When her dingy had disappeared into the storm, Eliana hadn’t really had time to mourn for Celia’s loss… she hadn’t expected to live herself, not once she had seen the size of the swells. She had been on the seas through enough storms to know that her tiny boat was all but certain to be swallowed by the sea… but somehow, it hadn’t. She couldn’t really remember much of those three days of the storm… she hadn’t slept, she hadn’t eaten, she didn’t drink anything but what she had swallowed from the unceasing rain. By the end she was delirious and had passed out the moment the rain had stopped… but when she woke, the sky was clear and the seas relatively calm. She had torn into the supplies they had pilfered, eating enough for three men, then broke out the charts again, setting sail as near as she could determine back to the nearest clump of settled island, the Keystone Archipelago.
She had sailed for eight days of trackless seas… Eliana had been forced to take off much of the clothing that she had hard won and turn it into a mere cloak over her shoulder and a headwrap against the scorching heat, hoping against hope that her position was what she thought it was… her heading was correct, but she lacked the tools to figure out her exact latitude and longitude on the charts… it could lead to her missing the archipelago completely, a death sentence.
Then, on the eighth day, she had seen sails on the horizon. Not crimson sails either, but blessed, white sheets, full of the wind. Celia had thought of everything when she had been stealing supplies… there were a pair of alchemical smoke flares, and Eliana held one in her hand for nearly ten minutes before her desperation outweighed her fear of an unknown ship and she cracked it open, letting the thick black smoke fill the air and attracting the ship’s attention.
Slipstream was a behemoth of a galleon… a merchant ship, sitting low in the water with heavy cargo. Eliana took time to put clothing back on, as much as she could, but the red-haired woman knew she didn’t look respectable… more like a whore had just crawled out of bed after too little sleep, and somehow managed to get sunburned in the process, but she couldn’t really do anything more about it. Still, as the galleon pulled up alongside her small boat, tossing a rope ladder down to her. Making sure she had the bag she had stolen with her, Eliana moved up the swaying rope, feeling more like herself with every upward pull.
Eliana stole a glance over at the clerks working at their desks. They were paying her no attention… but the disgraced captain still felt like they knew what had happened next, were her memories were going. Her face was read when she considered it. She had pulled herself up onto the deck, already decided what she would say. She couldn’t take the risk of telling the captain who she really was, of course… she didn’t know if she could trust him, and the last thing she needed was to be turned into the pirates for a ransom. Instead, she told him that she was the survivor of a ship lost in the storm… one of the vessels that she knew had been taken by pirates, one of the reasons the Sacred Star had be sent hunting. It wasn’t common knowledge, and probably never would be, but without knowing that the ship had been sunk by pirates her story seemed plausible…
But… how had the disgusting pig phrased it? ‘He wasn’t in the business of giving a free voyage.’
Even as she tried to explain to him that she lost of all of her possessions, she knew what he wanted. His lusty stare as he looked on the parts of her body uncovered by her ruined clothing, told her all she wanted to know. Still he took some sadistic pleasure in her helplessness. Apparently he was waiting for Eliana to offer him her charms on her own but even though she knew she didn’t have much choice, the words just couldn’t come out of her mouth. Not after the things those brutes on the ship did to her body, not after the ways they made her serve them.
The man became impatient. They went to his cabin so no one was there to see how he slapped her. “Listen… maritime law may state that I can’t just dump you overboard but there are some places on our route Felarin where I could sell your cute body to some underground brothel.” he said, his meaty lips forming into a self-satisfied grin. “Can you imagine that? I am sure people there would think of interesting way to use your body.”
Eliana could remember shivering as his meaty hands touched her cheek and then traveled downward, touching her neck and then traveling even lower to touch her breasts through the fabric. “See, that would bring me some nice – if slightly illegal – profit,” he said. “There is always risk that someone begins asking questions but I can always say that we just dropped you off. I am not one to discard the possibility of profit… unless I have good motivation. Do you understand what I am saying or am I being too subtle?”
Eliana looked at him, fire for a moment appearing in her emerald eyes. For a second she thought she would just kill him. She promised herself when she escaped that no one else would ever, ever, ever touch her in such way… but it seemed Fate decided to test her promise early. She knew that killing him would almost certainly forfeit her life… and dead, she couldn’t get back to Celia to save her.
So this choice was no choice at all.
“Yes, I understand,” she had said flatly.
“Good,” the trader said pulling out his cock – thick and swollen with veins. “Wrap your lips around it and start sucking.”
This time Eliana hesitated for a heartbeat before she finally sighed and leaned forward. She parted her lips and wrapped them around the head of the cock. In the ship’s conditions the trader definitely didn’t pay a lot of attention to washing regularly as she could clearly the taste of his sweat and unwashed skin… still, after all those cocks she was forced to suck on the pirate ship, she barely noticed.
“Oh yes… make it good” the had man said, sighing in pleasure. Eliana had made it good for him too. She began to expertly run her tongue in circles around the head, teasing it until it began oozing pre-cum. “You ARE good. I bet you really are a whore!” the captain had muttered, mocking her, and Eliana could remember the heat of her blush, her face for a moment almost matching the color of her hair. In a way, the pirates had made her whore on the ship… and despite herself she had been forced to learn a lot about sucking and fucking to survive.
She leaned forward, taking more of the cock inside her wet mouth, slurping and sucking on it almost lovingly as if it was the best thing she ever had in her mouth, the grandest delicacy, just like she had so many times when she had let herself slip into mindless oblivion on Banshee’s Wail. While many of those rapes she couldn’t remember, having failed to make an impression through the fog of misery she had surrounded herself with, this one she remembered perfectly. Wet noises escaped her mouth as she kept working on the tool in her mouth, each move of her tongue, each inch more of the cock taken deeper, bringing another moan of pleasure from the man’s mouth as she was bringing him closer and closer to orgasm. He had started rocking his hips, pushing his dick a bit deeper and deeper into her mouth. She could feel the cock throbbing, more and more pre-cum landing on her tongue as it lapped at his shaft.
“Oh yes… oh yes…” The captain had moaned and his cock began spraying cum directly into her mouth, making her almost retch at the unwanted taste. Then the pig had finally he removed his dick, allowing her to swallow the disgusting load. The merchant captain had smiled at her then. “You can stay on the ship,” he had told her. “But you need to be sucking me every day to keep me convinced not to sell you.“
Eliana blushed again, hiding her face so no one in the room could see her. She damn well wasn’t about to do that. She had sneaked around the ship for a few days, finding places to sleep where she wasn’t obvious, hiding food. After the captain had agreed to shelter her, he couldn’t send his crew to hunt her down, not without being obvious, so all he could do was seethe and plot. Perhaps he really would have sold her to a brothel… she wasn’t about to wait around and find out. After escaping from Banshee’s Wail as an actual prison, this shipw as no challenge. When they approached the next civilized island that the ship wasn’t planning to stop at, she stole back onto her towed dingy and made for shore. There, it had been easy enough to find some navy personnel, identify herself, and wait for her to be summoned back to Felarin.
Which had, of course, led her right here. Where she was going to have to explain how she had disgraced the navy, allowed the island she was assigned to to be sacked, had her ship sent to the bottom of the bay, and left her commander… and lover… as a captive of pirate rapists. Where she was going to lose her commission and disgrace her father’s memory, and become the laughing stock of the entire Imperial Navy… many of whom had been rooting for her to fail from the very beginning.
Not for the first time, Eliana considered just throwing herself out the window. As far as she could tell, none of the clerks in the room had so much as looked at her yet… likely knowing that she was on the way out, and wanting to avoid having their own careers tainted. If she leaped, it would probably be quite a while before anyone noticed. Certainly no one in this room would notice until someone from the streets below came up to find where she had jumped from…
Eliana ripped her gaze from the window over to the clerk who was speaking to her… a slightly older woman, her face and tone that of a woman who had already had to repeat herself and didn’t look forward to doing it again. “Sorry,” Eliana mumbled. “Yes?”
“He’s ready to see you, captain,” the woman said, glancing at the door.
Eliana sighed. Too late to jump now. Picking up her jacket and folding it over her arm like the proper office she felt nothing like, the scarlet haired captain strode forward into the room to face her fate. The office on the other side of the doors was an ornate one, dominated by a single, painted table… a sea chart, divided into four sections. The Golden Islands that made up the Empire’s main body were in the very center of the map, and around it the seas were divided into the Four Seas, one to each cardinal direction.
Fleet Admiral Holt stood by the South Seas section of the map his side to her. He was a handsome man… only about fifteen years older than her, he was by far the youngest man who had ever been appointed to his position. He wore the same white uniform she did, but that was where the simularity ended… where she had blue trim, his uniform was decorated in gold, actual gold. His hair was short, seasoned with a tiny amount of white, and he had a small, neat goatee rather than a clean shaven face… the benefits of rank and having no one left to tell him what he was permitted to do with his appearance. She had seen him once before, from a distance… he had been an admiral then, giving a commencement speech at her graduation from the academy. He had risen high since then. She stopped and saluted, looking straight forward without really looking at him. “Sir,” she said flatly.
The Fleet Admiral turned and returned her salute. “Captain,” he said, a small smile on his face. “At ease. I’ve read your report. I’m sorry.”
Eliana wanted to grimace, but kept her face calm. She had needed to write a thorough report of her failing and the events of her captivity, which she had of course not done honestly. She had left out all of the rape, the torture, the debasement… she had left out the merchant, how she had broken, how she had tried to kill the pirates in her sleep. She had kept only to the facts of the attack and how she had escaped… and how she had needed to leave Celia behind. The report felt like a lie… but even with the most gruesome parts left out, it contained more than enough damning evidence of her failure to doom her career. “Yes sir,” she said, in the same monotone.
“You are to be congratulated in your resourcefulness in escaping.”
Eliana had not been expecting to hear that. Was she being toyed with? She flicked her eyes more closely over Fleet Admiral Holt, trying to take in his gaze and intent. Was he trying to find a way into her pants as well? She could think of no other reason why someone would look at her object failure in any positive light. “Commander Celia was far more important to the escape attempt than I, sir…” she said slowly, trying to gauge his reaction.
Holt shrugged. “Perhaps… and its a tragedy she is still a captive, one I mean to remedy. But according to your report, you stole the charts you brought back, correct? They made a few copies when you made landfall on Meridian, I have one in front of me right now.” He lifted a ream of parchment from the table, showing it to her briefly before setting it back down. “You needed them to escape, of course… but did you really look at them?”
She shrugged. She had, of course, but not in detail, not for anything but her location. “A bunch of marks. Looked like treasure or good caches. I didn’t assume much of them, sir.” Eliana paused for a moment, her curiosity getting the better of her. “Are they? Do you know what they are?”
“I think your guess is good,” Holt admitted. “Probably just pirate treasure. Moderately interesting, but nowhere near as much as some of the other marks on the chest… like where they were making sail for.” He stuck out one finger and pressed it down on the painted map. “Like right here.” Eliana hesitated, but he had told her to be at ease… she took a few steps forward to see more clearly. He was putting his finger down on an island, small enough that it had no name on the chart, and no permanent civilization. “Based on your report, I am confident that this,” he said with evident satisfaction, “is were Banshee’s Wail was sailing for… thanks to you, we’ve found the secret port where Pirate Queen Kiera operates out of.”
She needed to take a moment to absorb that. The Pirate Kings and Queens were no true nobility, of course… rather, they were more like a mix between a crime boss and an admiral, powerful pirate captains with numerous ships sailing under their command. They protected their territory like reef sharks, destroying any other vessel that didn’t sail under their command, so they tended to gather all pirates in their territory to their banner. Pirate Queen Kiera and Pirate King Tevin ruled the South Seas as far as outlaws were concerned… there wasn’t too much competition in pirates since the South Seas were poor waters compared to the North Seas and the infamous Burning Seas to the west. Of the two Pirate fleets, Kiera’s was by far the larger and more powerful… if it were taken out, it would cripple pirating in the South Seas for a long, long time.
Holt hadn’t stopped talking. “I have found you not at fault for the fall of Constantos. We have no ship available for you at this time, but you are going to be next in time to receive a ship when it comes out of the yards. In the meantime, I am going to be sailing personally with a punitary fleet to take the so called Queen Kiera to meet Jack Catch, and…”
“Sir, I’d like to be on that fleet.” Elianna interrupted… quite inappropriately, but at the moment she didn’t care. “Please sir… I’ll serve as an officer aboard another ship temporarily with your leave. I promised Commander Celia I’d be back for her… I beg you to let me keep my promise.”
Holt smiled. “Of course. I’m lead to understand you received top commendations for your swordplay in the academy. As it turns out, one of my ships is missing a boarding officer to command the marines. I want you to take command of them, with the mission to find and board Banshee’s Wail during the attack. Find our missing commander, and bring her home.”
Eliana didn’t know what to say. She wanted to cry. She doubted she would ever had interest in men again after what had happened to her, but she still felt the mad urge to kiss her commanding officer at that moment. “Thank you sir!” she said, throwing a crisp salute. “I won’t fail you.”
Celia… I’m coming… Hold on.