All I can say is...brace yerselves, ya' landlubbers, for the next few chapters...arrgghh!
Enjoy, and don't forget, I always like to leave Easter eggs for you guys to find.
Zane slept well enough, working on the ship was more exhausting than he thought it would be. The kitten had curled up on his stomach, staying with him at all times. The hammock was comfortable too; it swayed with the ship as it gently rocked, preventing seasickness during the night. His dreams were mostly pleasant, but a little sad at times; he was already missing home having only been gone a day now.
Waking up was interesting enough, a man came in ringing a triangle. “Alright, ya’ slackers, time to get up!”
The cat on Zane’s belly freaked out for a second and jumped in the air at the sudden noise; then shook its head and jumped down. The teen sat up and rubbed his eyes a bit before standing up. He grabbed his shirt to put it on then figured that would be pointless since he’d just be sweating in it after breakfast. He did, however, want to wear his coat to keep the sun off his back, plus he didn’t want to leave it lying around.
He reached down to grab it where he dropped it underneath his hammock last night, but didn’t feel anything. He looked to see, and found that it wasn’t there at all. Slightly panicked, he whipped his head around the room to check for it, even seeing if Brailen grabbed it for a blanket or something, but it wasn’t to be found.
That was it, now he was officially mad. “Who stole my coat?!” He demanded to know, looking in the eyes of everyone around as they were waking up. “Who was it?!”
They all seemed to just look at him like they didn’t know what he was talking about. At that moment he felt very much alone; he had been teased all day yesterday, and just about everything he did wasn’t good enough; now it was personal. A wiry looking crewman almost his height of six feet, sporting a five O’clock shadow and several scars across his chest from a blade of some sort, stepped towards him, concealing a smirk.
“Are you calling one of us a thief?” He asked in a low tone.
“Damn right I am!” Zane said without hesitation.
That cracked an evil grin on the sailor who looked menacing enough as it was. The rest of the crew showed signs of offence at that statement.
“Hey, we’ll find your coat, okay? Just let this go for now.” Brailen told his cousin.
“No, I think he knows something.” Zane said.
“Do I now…” the man replied. “Ya’ here that, boys? He thinks I had somethin’ to do with it.”
“I told you to keep a close eye on it, didn’t I?” Layla said. “Driggs, give it back to him.”
“Shut up, *****.” The man told her.
That caused a stir in the other beast tamers. It was quickly turning into trainers verse crewmen.
“Whatcha’ just call me?”
“Layla, stay out of it, let’s just drop this for now.” Brailen said, trying to keep things from escalating.
Zane wasn’t about to let it go though, he wanted his property back. “Where is it?!” He said, giving the man a shove.
“Don’t you touch me, boy!”
“You mean like this?!” Zane said, pushing him a little harder the second time.
Suddenly he was reeling backwards. His face was throbbing as he barely managed to keep from falling. He put a hand up where the man had punched him, and his fingers came away with a red liquid. Blood dripped from his nose and ran down to his chin. His vision blurred for a moment as the sting and shock affected him. His eyes watering a bit, he took a moment to let them clear.
Brailen had managed to keep the other trainers from charging in after that, he didn’t want this to turn into a war between the two sides. Clearly the crew wanted to fight however, and a few grins from them were very taunting. Zane had never been hit before, so this was a new sensation entirely for him. He did know his blood was boiling at this point though. That coat was not only a sentimental gift from his grandfather; it was now a gift from his sister as well since she patched it up for him. Plus it was the only thing he owned that he actually cared about.
He took a few steps closer to the man and looked at him for a moment. His eyes were showing a desire to rip him apart. Someone had reported a fight stirring, and the first mate quickly appeared to see what was happening.
“What’s going on down here?!” He asked.
“Sir, this man is a thief!” Zane answered.
“And this boy is accusing me of being a thief.” Driggs said.
Such things were taken rather seriously. There was still a protocol for dealing with these disputes however. “If you want to settle this with fists, then take it up on deck and keep it a fair fight. I’ll have no brawling in here. Anyone that wants to watch is free to do so as long as you stay out of it.”
“Well, you heard ‘em, care to take this outside?” The sailor asked.
“After you,” Zane answered.
“This isn’t going to end well,” Brailen muttered to himself. He knew he couldn’t stop it at this point though, if the boy didn’t fight, he’d be a target in the future. Win or lose, at least people would know they’d have to fight him.
Everyone followed them out, even the twins showed up to support Zane in this. The crewmen gathered on the starboard side and the beast tamers on port with the two contestants in the middle. Even the women were there after Driggs said what he did to Layla; it wasn’t so much what he said though, it was how he said it.
When the captain heard there was going to be a fight, he couldn’t help but watch from outside his cabin door.
“Seawater, there’s gonna’ be a fight!” A crewman said, running down to the kitchen.
“There’s always a fight, nothing special.” He remarked.
“Hey, wait, who’s fighting?” Trent asked.
“That uh, kid. Zane or somethin’. He’s going up against Driggs.”
“Well I’ll be damned. Lads got some stones after all.” Seawater plunged his knife into some beef he was carving up. “This I gotta’ see.”
The crowd on both sides seemed excited, but for the crew, fights were one of the best forms of entertainment to be had out here. They watched carefully as the two sized each other up. Since the teen had never fought anyone before he really didn’t know what to expect.
“Alright, here’s the rules,” the first mate said. “Keep it above the belt and fists only. That means no weapons and no feet. First man who either can’t continue or gives up, loses, and let that be the end of it. You may begin when ready.”
“You’re going to give it back.” Zane told him.
Driggs just sneered at him. “Better put your dukes up, laddie.”
The teen just had his hands down by his side, but the man was already starting a classic bob and weave dance while shadow boxing just out of range. Zane kept his feet planted, not even bothering to move at all.
“Hey, put your fists up! Don’t stand still!” Brailen said, trying to offer some advice to save the boy a bit of embarrassment.
“Why?...” He asked, and then suddenly received a blow to the face.
“Get yer’ hands up, lad!” Seawater shouted.
“Hey, whose side are you on, anyway?” A crewman asked.
“None of yer’ damn business, that’s who.” Trent replied.
Zane took another blow, this one made him stagger back a bit too. He lashed out with a few random swings that were not only poorly aimed, but didn’t have the proper weight behind them. He might have had strength, but he didn’t know how to use it.
“Wow, he’s never done this before, has he…” Layla said to Brailen.
“Obviously not. I figured he’d have a general idea though, but this is just sad.”
Driggs landed a couple more, and at this point Zane’s face was covered in blood. He was starting to get dizzy too, but he knew he needed a plan. A punch to the stomach made him double over, and now he was looking at the deck instead of his opponent.
“I came to watch a fight, not a beating!” Trent called out.
An uppercut changed his view to the sky as he went sprawling on his back. He managed to get up, but still didn’t have a clue as to what he should do. They kept coming; one, two, three. He was in a daze, and knew he was losing terribly at this point. He tried a tactic he thought might work and started charging Driggs like a bull.
That failed as well since each attempt was merely dodged, and he couldn’t even see straight to make a good effort. It was just wearing him out even more, and on one pass he caught a hook from the man which laid him down again. There weren’t any cheers from the other trainers anymore, just laughs from the crew.
The captain turned to go back in his cabin. “Call it off, Hughes.” He said to his first mate.
“Alright, that’s enough, break it up!”
Seawater gave a sigh and headed back himself. In fact, everyone except Brailen started to leave since it had been stopped.
“No!” Zane shouted, slowly picking himself up. “This isn’t over yet, not by a longshot!”
“Just give it up.” Brailen told him. “This was stupid to begin with.”
“No! I said no!”
“Lad, it’s over, fights called off.” Seawater told him.
“Are you listening to me?” Zane’s voice turned to a growl, “I said no.”
“What, you really want some more?” Driggs asked, “Hear that, mates? He wants more!”
Zane managed to right himself again. “You’re gonna’ tell me where my coat is.”
“Sorry, son, you ain’t man enough to make me.” Driggs whispered to him.
That word started something. For an instant he heard is father’s voice saying it to him. It rang in his ears like a bell. It made its way into his body and he felt it coursing through his veins. As blood, sweat and tears mingled together on the floorboards beneath him, there was only one thing going in to replace them. Those three words: be a man.
Everyone decided to watch a little more. Even the captain hesitated to return just yet. Seawater figured he’d at least see what the kid had left in him. Brailen was still standing there watching. Layla grabbed hold of the rigging as she passed under it. For a moment, no one moved.
“Well, you gonna’ do somethin’?” Driggs taunted.
Zane’s eyes narrowed and his fists clenched. His heart rate slowed to a calm level, but every beat was fueled with pure rage. He could see a little better too, and the dizziness died off. He wiped the blood on his arm and planted his feet again.
“Go ahead. You seem to like hitting me.” He told the man in a deep, gravelly tone that surprised a part of him; a part that wasn’t in control anymore.
His voice made Driggs pause, but the sailor knew there wasn’t anything the kid could do. “Alright then, have it your way.”
He sent a blow straight for Zane’s head one more time, grinning as he did so. As it neared, the teen’s hand shot up in the air, catching the man’s fist. That sent a surprise to the crowd, but especially to Driggs. He didn’t know what to do exactly; it wasn’t a typical strategy, so he was sort of confused as to how to respond. He tried pulling his arm back, but the boy wouldn’t let go.
He swung his other hand up, but it was caught too. Zane was stronger overall, and his grip was like steel. He kept squeezing and refused to let go. In his anger, his strength only increased. His fingernails dug into the man’s flesh, and he continued to increase the pressure. Driggs’ knuckles popped a few times, and blood started seeping out.
“Tell me where my coat is,” he said again.
“I don’t know!” Was the response, but the teen knew better than to trust him.
“Oh, you’ll remember…” Zane told him, bearing down harder.
“I said I don’t know!”
“If you ever want to use these hands again, you’ll tell me.”
The man’s bones were in danger now, much more and they’d snap. Driggs decided to break the rules and tried to kick, but Zane saw that coming and stomped his foot.
“Okay, okay, it’s down underneath my bunk!”
The teen made sure he was telling the truth this time by exerting more force.
“I promise, I swear!” Driggs said, dropping to a knee from the pain.
He held on for a moment, then released. “It better be there.”
Zane turned to go back down and search for it. Driggs held his hands while the beast tamers clapped for the winner. The sailor had been humiliated though. He reached behind his back and started walking toward the lad. The small blade he pulled out flashed in the sunlight as he began to make his move. He didn’t get far though; Brailen drew his sword and held it to the man’s throat.
“I really don’t think you want to do that.”
For a second, all that could be heard was the water gently splashing against the ship’s hull. Then Driggs dropped the knife, not wanting to move any more than necessary. Zane came back up from below, putting his coat on.
“Put this man in irons,” Captain Roberts ordered. “Thievery will not be tolerated on my vessel.”
Driggs was taken below, all the way down to the only cell on board. The crew had lost respect for him entirely, not only because he was a thief either. Seawater didn’t say anything, but he didn’t need to. He was just as impressed as everyone else. Zane cleaned himself up and returned to his chores as did the rest.
“Captain, it’s just sitting out there, has been all day.” First mate Hughes said as he stood in Roberts’ cabin later that evening.
“Could be anything, doesn’t mean it’s hostile.”
“That’s true, sir, and it does seem a bit early for anyone to target us.”
“Still, it’s best to keep watch. If they’re pirates, I doubt they’ll attack tonight.” The skipper said, examining his maps. “No, they’d want to survey their prey first before making a move, and right now it’s just a ship on the horizon, we can barely tell what it even is. No way for them to know what we are yet.”
“If they were merchants, there’d be more than one.”
“That’s true, however, there’s nothing we can do for now. Tell the men to keep watch through the night.”
I really do believe if you can place together a whole book you should go for a published work. I think you might have a shot if you play your cards right. Just remember to always keep looking for ways to improve it. All in the drive; you should know it's good. Now learn how to make it great.