Some time ago there was a discussion that Riker would make a good pirate. I've taken a few liberties, but I hope it turns out all right.

*Seven Seas part one - Between Queen and Country*

Captain William Riker strode the deck of his wooden ship. His boots thudding comfortably on the smooth wood of the Gregory Hood. His small merchant crew flitted around the ship and the rigging, making the sails fast in the warm sunshine. They were only a day out of London now, and soon his ship would be emptied of his cargo of tobacco and cotton from the new world. His financial backers would be pleased that he had completed his voyage well within his timetable. The profit margins on this trip would again be high and his reward would most likely be another trip from New York to London. Yet another dull ocean trip that would bring in the wealth his father had come to expect, bu be devoid of the adventure he craved. Harry, his somewhat over enthusiastic quartermaster, bounded up next to him, his bare feet slapping against the deck.

"We've a sail sighted off starboard Captain." He handed Will the telescope and pointed, "By her colors she a french merchant, but she's running to quickly to be one of those cows." Will took the telescope up to his eye and watched the bright sail advance over the dark blue water.

Captain Riker grinned rakishly. "That's the Stargazer Harry, look to the little pennant on her stern." He handed the telescope back to his mate and slapped him on the back. "Tell the men to fire a welcome shot and run up our colors. We shouldn't let that old rascal catch us offguard." Harry saluted briskly and dashed to the gunner. One of the Hood's four cannons was ran out and a crisp shot echoed over the water. Immediately in response the Stargazer fired two shots in quick succession and the French banner lower in favor of the flag of Picard.

Jean-Luc Picard was a rogue of the highest order and charm. His flag was a rapier on a black background, draped with a green vine and purple grapes and it flew from the topmast with ease in the slight breeze. Some kind of French folk song seemed to be the order of the day and the cheerful voices of the crew were soon audible over the water. Unlike the tiny crew of Riker's heavy cargo vessel, Picard's deck was covered with men, most of them lounging about while they took turns at the work. The Stargazer was a three-masted sloop, quick and clean through the water. She easily came to alongside the Hood, and Will thought of a racehorse sidling up to a dairy cow. He took a few steps down to the maindeck and the frenchmen started to board them. Swinging effortlessly across, Jean-Luc landed gracefully just behind him.

"Allo mon cher, it has been too long." Picard's words tumbled from a brilliant white grin. "Although, I was not sure if I could bring my ship up to speed with such a demon as yours." William wasn't sure to defend his ship or to just let himself turn scarlet in goodnatured disgust.

"It is a lumbering snail over the water, my Hood." Will replied with a twinkle in his eye. "But what brings you to these waters? Don't you worry for the British Navy?"

Picard sneered confidently. "Those dogs will never even get a glimpse of my vessel. She is too quick for the great Rhinos of the British fleet." He wound an arm around Riker's shoulders. "But let us not talk of such things, we have words of far greater importance." He dug an elegantly folded and sealed letter out of the edge of his vest. "This, my poor bored sailor, is for you." He dropped it neatly into Will's surprised hand. "It appears someone has noticed your talents after all."

They headed for the Captain's cabin, a bottle of wine tucked beneath Jean-Luc's arm. Will's boredom with the hard life of a merchant sailor was well known to Picard. He had hoped to make captain of a battleship by now, but times called for more trade and less ac

tion, and more trade meant less excitement. Will had joined the Navy to find excitement, to get some space away from the stuffy Admiral Kyle Riker who had wanted him to make a proud career as a merchant sailor. His father had wanted certain things for his son's life, wealth, prestige and a stuffy family to go along with it. Some proper English lady who would hate life in the colonies and expect to have her wigs powdered twice a day. The Admiral would turn a deep shade of burgundy if he could see his son toasting the freedom of the sea with the infamous jackal, Jean-Luc Picard.

After the first glass was empty, Picard filled their goblets again and indicated the unopened letter on the table in front of them. "From the hand of a great beauty, directly to my own poor paw." He winked, "You can still smell the hint of her perfume." Will lifted it to his face. The frenchman was right, the letter smelled exotic, like the farthest reaches of the world.

"Who is the author?" Will asked finally. "You haven't told me anything about-"

Jean-Luc waved a goblet cheerfully. "Just open the seal. Her story is there, in finer words that could hope to grace my own crude lips." He teased melodramatically as Will drew a tiny dagger from his boot and slit the wax seal. The letter unfolded neatly, revealing script of a delicate and careful hand.

To the Esteemed William Riker, Captain in the British Fleet and of the Gregory Hood,

I come to you at a time most dire in my life. You William, who receive such praise from a messenger dear to my heart. Jean-Luc assures me that I may trust you with my life, and as you read this I am afraid I shall have to impose upon your good graces. Pray do not let this letter fall into any hands that may wish me harm, for I know not where I have left to turn. I come to you, a stranger of another land in hopes that you will be my salvation. I dare not say who I am, but know that I am a woman of some importance in my own country, but little in any other. I am in great danger and in desperate need. Jean-Luc tells me you are a man of honor, and that is something I need more then all the riches of my homeland. I know I have given you little on which to place your faith, but please allow me to put myself in your hands.

I will be in an inn in a tiny city north of London a fortnight from when I write this letter. If you will come, this good man will lead you hence to me.

I dare not sign this letter in the name my parents gave me, but know that I end it most sincerely yours.

Will lifted the letter again to his face, inhaling the deep scent of night-blooming flowers. Already he was invisioning the exotic beauty who must have written this letter. Her hands trembling as she sealed away all her hopes in the kindness of a stranger. The look of overwhelming pity on his face must have been priceless because Jean-Luc was chuckling wildly. "The night she mentions is a tomorrow night. Allow me to stay on your ship and drink your wine for a day, and tomorrow you will meet your destiny." Will nodded and started to reread the letter. Jean-Luc drank the untounched wine goblet in front of Riker and set it down with a flourish.

"I'll need to inform my crew. However, it is my duty as a pirate of honor to inform you that we are removing you from your cargo. Your Hood will limp into port tomorrow, empty and bedraggled, with a skeleton crew."

Will gave him a quizical look. "My cargo isn't worth enough to attack me for, besides, I would be expected to fight back."

Jean-Luc winked. "That's the beauty of it. If you sail into port tomorrow, rich with spoils from the New World, everyone will be watching you. All of the port of London will have their eyes on the promising young captain who again escaped pirates the likes of me."

Will's blue eyes lit with excitement. "But If I sail in in disgrace, with my ship barely afloat, everyone will expect me to slink off into the walls of London so my financiers can't find me."

The frenchman patted him again on the back. "Precisely Will, precisely." His twinkled smile faded into a serious look. "But, you must know what you are getting yourself into. Helping this mystery woman will make you a traitor to the British Crown and everything you hold dear."

The voice he had given her rang in Will's head. ((I come to you, a stranger of another land in hopes that you will be my salvation.)) "Not everything." He paused for a moment. Piracy was a crime for which a man was hanged by the neck until dead. Even for all of Jean-Luc's joviality, it was a choice he could never go back from. Whatever it was he was about to do would make him a wanted man in England and all of her empire. He thought only for a moment and then removed his Naval uniform jacket, using the same dagger he had used for her letter he freed himself from the richness of his office. Removing the gold decorations and dropping them to the deck and Jean-Luc's feet symbolized his ending of his relationship with the British Empire. He tucked the letter into the his shirt and matched Picard's wild grin. "This is all that is dear to me now."

There was a rousing cheer from his crew. Even Harry looked more cheerful then usual. Picard began to yell orders to his crew. "Let's get every hand over here to take our bounty. Since Captain Riker has graciously agreed to surrender to us-" The Picard's pirate crew roared with laughter. "We'll be taking their cargo. As soon as it's all aboard, prepare to fire on the ship."

Will Riker, former captain of the British Navy crossed over a plank of wood to the Stargazer's deck. This would be his new life. Jean-Luc drove three pigs onto the deck and three of his crew threw their jackets around them. When the cannons started to fire, blood of the animals soon soaked the deck and the Gregory Hood looked like the scene of a great massacre. Will watched the fat cargo vessel as shot tore into her sides. The ship had been good to him, but it was time to move on. The Hood lurched and groaned as some water started to seep into her haul. Jean-Luc, five crewmen and himself crossed back to the wounded vessel. Jean-Luc yelled a few orders in French to the Stargazer and her sails were up in a moment. Harry saluted across the water between the vessels and the Stargazer flew away over the waves with him watching his captain with a smile. Will turned his face to London and his new life. The wind was behind them and they would make the dock just before dusk. In a day she would be sitting across from him. He smiled out over the water, now the wind smelled only of adventure.


*Seven Seas part two- Song and Fire*

The British countryside was dark and damp as he snuck through the bracken behind Picard. True to his nickname, the jackal cut through the back roads with unnatural ease. They were well outside of London now, the Gregory Hood had been listed as a terrible tragedy. William Riker had been branded at best extremely unlucky and at worst a terrible coward. His career was over and that brought an odd smile to his face. Since he had met the Frenchman he had known that there was adventure and excitement out of the merchant corp, but now he was living it.

Jean-Luc brushed his arm and they pressed against a large oak. A company of the King’s men marched down the thin cobblestones toward the city. Will felt his heart skip, but the jackal was smiling. His white teeth glinting in the night as he lead him further into the night. They were reaching the coast now and he could smell the sea. The sea was his home and the breath of it in the air comforted him. A single spot of gold glowed through the misty night and they headed for it. Soon they dropped again onto a road, and judging by the small hovels that started to line the road. They were out of the range of the King’s Men. Unfortunates were always ignored.

His companion’s step quickened and Will found the energy to speed his own stride. Tonight he would meet her. The woman who’s mere traces of scent on a piece of parchment had stirred his soul. He wondered if she was just part of the surrealism his life had become, but his picture of her insisted that she was more real then anything else in this world. Jean-Luc strode up the wooden steps of a what seemed to be a decaying church with the authority of a duke entering his castle, and even more swagger. Will looked up at the moldering stones and the ivy the entwined itself over them and grinned in spite of himself. This was the place of which he had heard so many tales from Picard’s crew. This was the liar of the jackal.

The antechamber was dark except for a single candle burning in an old iron hook on the wall. Jean-Luc gestured for him to take it. “I can find my way Will.” Without a care in his head, Picard started down an impossibly dark passage. There was no sign of the warm golden light that they had caught sight of across the moor. Instead, there was music. Music that echoed eeirely off of the walls around him and whistled with the wind. Will found himself wondering if this was all just an elaborate betrayal. His hands started to sweat cold. He wiped them on the rough cloth os his breeches. The the wall in front of him opened into a world he had never seen before.

Fires burned in the center of the courtyard. People flitted around them like gaily colored moths. Men laughing and drinking. Surrounded by women of the evening. Women who seemed to belong to the night more then they to his race, as if they were an extension of the velvety darkness around them. Women with wicked, teasing smiles. All of their dresses were made up of half the fabirc it took to make that of any woman his father would have liked. Corsets forced up their breasts into pale balconies of flesh that quivered as they laughed and sang with the men.

One woman was the center of a large group of the pirates. Their bright silks and mismatched clothing paling in comparison to her bright blue silk clinging in luscious decadence to her body. Her long red hair fell in cascades of ringlets to her breasts, and one foot was propped up on the bench next to one of the men. Tucked into a sleeve bound over her ruffles was a dagger and it glinted in the firelight. She tossed her head and her hair took on the light of the flames. The music raised in excitement, filling the air like the sound of cannon fire.

The siren, because that was the only being such a woman could possibly be, was dancing with one of the pirates. They whirled around the fire like a four-legged dervish. As Will watched from the rampart another pirate approached them and tapped the man on the back. He hesitated, and then quickly backed away, leading her to the new man. The brilliant siren was facing him and smiling at the new man. She turned around once and started to advance on him slowly. Taking each step cautiously and thereby proving she was the predator in this couple.

She passed by on his left, divesting him of sword and tossing it to the laughing crowd. William felt the heat of the fire even from their perch on the wall, and someone passed him up a mug of something warm and fragrant. It tickled his nose and teased his mouth as he sipped it carefully. One lone violin was the the only melody now, but it suited the two dancers who continued to circle each other, teasing each other as they passed within a finger's breadth but stubbornly refused to make contact. The man managed to steal a curling blue ribbon from her hair, forcing it loose and tumbling across the distracting vista of her heaving breasts. Her skin glowed in the moonlight and Will found himself wondering if he had ever before seen a woman.

He had visited his share of brothels and he had known a few of the unfortunates of London. Will had heard the stories of pirate lairs full of wenches and depravity, but this was beautiful. He swished the last of the liquid in the bottom of his tankard and turned finally to the man who had brought him here. The Jackal was gone. Will's look of confusion brought a laugh from his new drinking companion. The man who refilled his tankard continued to chuckle and winked a bizarre yellow eye in his direction. "Jean-Luc likes to dance. Especially with her."

Will's eyes widened. "Dance?" Across the courtyard one leg in ruffled pantaloons was around Jean-Luc's lower back as the other of hers slid between his as he dipped her head back. Will was certain she had noticed his open-mouthed staring when she caught his eye and winked at him as Jean-Luc tipped her back up. "I didn't know anyone danced like that. Even in private rooms."

His yellow-eyed guide patted him on the back heartily. "Not anyone can." They started down a winding damp stairway into the courtyard. "But even the Jackal has his mate."

Will stumbled into the open night of the yard. The pirates around him eyed him up as the seamen had watched the newest whelp recruits back in New York. The woman in blue was wrapped smoothly around Jean-Luc's arm. She placed a finger on her full bottom lip and the corners of her mouth tilted up in teasing good humor. The man with yellow eyes took her hand and kissed it, and then she offered it to him. Will kissed it reverently, feeling her blue eyes run through his mind as her skin warmed his lips. Jean-Luc whispered something in her ear and she nodded. Her voice was deeper then he expected.

"You must be William." He knew he had blushed as the laughter around him increased.

"I'm afraid so lady." Jean-Luc roared with laughter and gestured for the music to begin again. His woman wound herself around Will's arm and she guided him to a table in the corner.

"Jean-Luc did say that your advantage was not your mind." She ran an appraising hand over the opening in his undershirt and smiled at Picard. "She will find him suitable mon amie. I certainly do."

Yellow eyes sat on the reddening Will's elbow. "If not, I can put him out to stud, no?" The blue lady curled into his lap.

"I don't think the girls would complain." She agreed and her hand ventured to his knee. Will jumped and looked helplessly to Jean-Luc.

His benefactor shrugged. "We should all be so lucky. They take only the best." The nameless woman nibbled his earlobe and started to make advances on his neck.

Will put both hands in the air and looked pleadingly again at Jean-Luc. The jackal relented slightly and set his mug down long enough to provide his poor friend with introductions. Indicating the yellow-eyed man Jean-Luc explained, "This is Data, my spy, my thinker and my intellect." Data lifted his glass and waved his hand with a nonchlant air.

"Jean-Luc means that without me, your Navy would have caught him years ago." Data translated calmly as he took a long draught of mead. The woman in blue crawled daintily across the table to perch comfortably in Jean-Luc's lap. He immediately leaned down and lost himself in the richness of her mouth. Cheers erupted from the brigands around them and Data leaned in conspiratorially in a whisper. "The 'lady' is Beverly. She is the vixen to our jackal."

Jean-Luc broke his kiss and added "She is the heart of my operation. The soul of my days and the light of my life." He wrapped an open palm around the fullness of her bottom through the blue silk. "Even if she is a whore."

Her blue eyes roared with mirth as she took a long drink from Jean-Luc's stolen mug. "At least I'm a damn fine one." She leaned in to kiss the tip of his nose beofre jumping to her feet on the table. "And far too good for you." The camp resounded in catcalls of agreement. Jean-Luc looked up at her piteously. He reached into the unseen pocket of his vest and pulled forth a sparkling gold chain. He laid it carefully at her feet. She leaned down to pick it up. Hitting his face with the flounce of her dress as she slid the expensive metal over her neck. She called to the crowd of pirates.

"Anyone who can beat this bauble can take me for the night." She crooned sensuously. As the laughter again rang through the camp Jean-Luc tripped her back into his arms.

"You would be worth it mi amie, only you could so sweeten a man's last night." She rewarded him with a kiss that threatened to knock him from the bench. Will wanted to throw back his head and roar with joy. He was free. Will took another draught of mead and smiled as though his lips would split his face.

"To freedom." He toasted finally. A group of mugs joined his above the table and his new friends joined his toast.

"To freedom!"


*Seven Seas part three- Smoke*

The logs of the fire burned upward into gray smoke that curled over the keep. As smoke escaped, mist seeped in from the hills to fil the air. Will watched as the torchlight grew brighter in contrast to the steadily deepening night. The music slowed as the revelers spent their energy. Data had been filling his head with tales of the Jackal’s men, but a devastating blonde had materialized to take the spy away.

Will couldn’t blame him. Natasha was the kind of woman men killed for, if she didn’t kill them first. The two of them whirled around the fire as part of the smoke that licked upwards to the sky. Will sighed into an empty glass, wondering what had been so different in the lives of the others to lead them here. What had been so stunted in his life that he had never found such blissful excess? To be so enraptured with someone that the mere brush of their skin drives to distraction.

Setting down his mug, he traded it from a torch from an iron bracket on the wall. As his fingers closed around it, for a moment his skin prickled. As if a cold wind had torn across his grave and was reaching out to grasp at him. Imnvoluntarily he shuddered, realizing suddenly that he would have no grave. Will’s throat grew tight as he thought of the rope that would squeeze all the life from it if he was captured. As if it were some kind of prophecy, the lone violin across the courtyard struck up a slow, lingering waltz that echoed of sorrow and death.

He gulped down sudden nervousness and concentrated on the etheral beauty of the mist as it seeped from the stones of the Jackal’s keep. He whispered the pirate’s motto to himself, “A short life, but a merry one.” Will smiled to himself sardonically. It was worth it. The tightness of the a noose around his neck beat the slow tightness of his belt after years of idle life.

And then there was her. The dammed mystery woman who’s desperate plea echoed in his mind. When he closed his eyes, he could still smell the perfume of the letter. The memory of the exotic hint of it filling the air as if the letter was again in his hand. Will opened his eyes and expected the smell to vanish into the depths of his imagination, but the perfume remained. He looked around wondering if the ale was affecting his judgement and bringing his fantasies above the surface of his mind. He ran a hand across his forehead, hoping to clear his mind.

Will’s eyes cleared it for him. Up ahead a light from beneath a doorway cut a golden swath through the black hallway. Burning away the mist in the shadows of the stone, but something curled from the side of the door. Crawled around the oak to cling to the ceiling. Entranced, he let his feet take him to the door. The perfume was in the smoke and it told tales of sunrises so beautiful they destroyed the sky with wonder. Calling forth visions of a land where the bone-chilling nights of the moor were replaced by fragrant blossoms spilling their nectar to the dark sky.

He meant to knock. To announce his presence with a polite rap on the thick wood, but the wood fled from his hand. Cursing, blinking and trying to find his feet, William Riker stumbled into a tall unmoving mass. Thinking it must be the door, he reached out a hand to push it aside and his fingers closed around an arm like the branch of an ancient tree. A huge hand close around his arm in an ion grip. Effortlessly that grip turned to a twist and Riker found himself hard on his knees on the rough stone floor. His right arm was tight against his back and a line of pain ran up to his shoulder.

“Uteme esie aride?” A deep voice rumbled somewhere from high above his head.

“I don’t understand.” Will replied quickly and the pressure on his arm increased.

“Uteme esie aride?” This time the voice held disgust. A foot as heavy as an anvil descended on to his back, driving his knees into the cold stone floor. “Eriken useme mordueran?”

A female voice surprised him from behind the beast. Her english was halting, thickly accented in a voice unused to the clumsiness of his language. “Please forgive me. I- we did not trust you not to mean us harm.” Will was allowed to gain his feet and the pressure lifted from his back. He kept his head lowered for a moment and apologized ruefully.

“The offense was mine lady. I had no right to intrude.” He slowly followed the hulking silhouette up to it’s face. A glowering expression burned down at him from the giant who blocked his view. The golden light and the woman’s voice were behind him the dark giant. The giant crossed his arms across a heavily muscled chest and continued to block the way.

“An accident.” She agreed quietlyfrom her hiding place. “I will take your apology. Please except mine on behalf of my bodyguard. Worf can be very protective of me.” She addressed her bodyguard in the smoothly flowing tones of her native tongue and Will caught the sneer on the dark face as Worf silently exited the room.

Just as if the sun had broken through a cloudbank, the rays of the candle lamp behind her stung at his eyes. His vision started to coalesce on the edges of her shadow first. She was wrapped in some type of ornate dress completely unlike anything had ever seen before and that was covered with a long cape of some translucent black silk that shimmered in the golden light. Her hair was covered with another shawl, but even the drapings clung to the curves of her figure. Will blinked, feeling the words dry in his mouth as he looked into her eyes and found his heart looking out at him. Her eyes were the deepest black of hundreds of fathoms beneath the sea and held just as much mystery. He mumbled something and swallowed quickly. Vainly hoping that his throat would relax enough for him to say something to her as he stood there dumbly watching her eyes. Her face was covered, so he couldn’t be distracted by the movement of her lips as she laughed at him.

“Please, sit.” She indicated a chair but his legs refused to move him to it. She turned her back to him and removed the shawl from her head. As she worked the silk free her hair tumbled loose in a glorious ebony mass of curls they slipped easily aside and out of his mind as she smiled at him. Full lips the color of rich wine turned upwards in patience amusement. “I know how startling this must be. I had hoped to meet under better circumstances Captain.”

His knees gave out and Will collapsed into the chair. Trying to recover whatever remained of his composure as those eyes studied him. She looked at him as if she knew exactly what he was thinking. She had known who he was without a second thought, and she seemed so damingly calm. “I- uh- It’s my fault lady. Truly all my fault-”

She shook her head and there was regret in her eyes as she read his soul. “I am the supplicant, and I allow my saviour to be caught so off guard. It really is terrible Captain.” She handed him a tiny cup with a gilded rim. “Since I already know your name, William Riker. Drink and allow me to introduce myself.” Again the sorrow touched her lovely face and without his consent, his right hand brushed across hers, comforting her with a touch. Her skin was the same temperature as his own. Her flesh seemed like an extension of his hand and in the instant they touched something passed between them. The hot flush that flew through his beard echoed in her face.

To Will’s surprise she squeezed his hand. Taking his roughened palm in her smooth one and smiling at him as her blush faded from her face. “I will one day be the Maharanee of Troi. We are a sovereign nation with a rich history of many of your centuries, but we fear we will soon become a British colony. My people will loose themselves in the empire of your world. Everything that we are will be lost as we are made to conform to your rules. Even now the British ambassadors only respect my mother for her great wealth, though none of them believe a woman could rule a nation.” She took a slow sip from her cup and he wondered what his contained. He smelled it and realizing it was tea, downed it quickly. Hoping that the hot liquid would calm the fog of the ale in his mind.

“I can not let my people be lost. My duty is to them, and the preservation of their way of life and has been since my birth.” She added her other hand to his, her delicate fingers completely entwining his. “I need a Captain, a man of the British empire who I can trust with my life. Jean-Luc assured me you could help. It pains me to ask this of you, I know how hard it is to leave your home and everything you know behind you. My world will be as alien to you as this England is to me but I must beg you to come with me.”

He lifted her hands to his mouth and kissed them. Slowly taking in the scent of her and commiting it to memory. “I would go across the world for you.”

A single tear glistened in the dark lashes of her left eye. “Jean-Luc was right about you. Without knowing my name you’ve pledged yourself to me.” She dabbed at her eye with the corner of her scarf. “You’ve given me hope Captain. You could save my people.”

Riker’s heart skipped in his chest. The organ fighting with the confines of his ribs as he tried to breath. “Names don’t matter to a pirate mi’lady.” She was maddenly close to him. He didn’t remember when she had stood and moved so close to him. The scent of her filled his mind, and she pressed her lips to his. Fire shot through his body and consumed his heart. In that instant of madness his heart rose like a phoenix for her as she whispered in his ear.

“Deanna. My name is Deanna.”


*Seven Seas part 4 – Desert Rose*

= Two years previous =

The heiress of the imperial house of Troi stood on the balcony overlooking the expanse of sand stretching to the sea. The wind poured out from the desert. Carrying the heat and the spice of the land out over the water. The moon was mostly dark and only lent a few silver glints to the sea beneath it. The silken drapes of the alcove blew outward with the wind, as if they were silently wishing to join its journey over the sea. Out on the water a lone set of sails were a tiny relfecting spot of white against the sea. That would be pirates, merchants usually avoided the troubled waters around her home.

Pirates were no threat however and Deanna relaxed into the night. Temporarily losing the responsibilities of her life in the bliss that only came with being alone. The eleventh suitor for her hand had arrived and tried to work his way into her heart. Shuddering even in the heat of her homeland she breathed a silent sigh of relief that her mother had seen through his facade. The Maharanee of Troi, the ancestral ruler who was as bonded to her country as a mother was to her child, had an instinctual understanding of the thoughts of others that had proven itself invaluable through her reign. Since the death of her mother almost thirty years previous, Lwaxana had been the sole ruler of Troi and the embodiment of the strength of the country all of Deanna's life. She burned so brightly in the eyes of her people that her father used to tell her stories where Lwaxana fell from the sky to rule the country.

Ian had always been content to stand in her shadow. A British soldier, he had been seperated from his unit in a sandstorm and stumbled into Lwaxana's oasis gardens, nearly dead of thirst. Even in his weakened state he had been handsome, with his dark hair and beautiful cheekbones. Deanna leaned into the warm stone railing and lost herself in the old stories. Lwaxana had nursed him to health, showing him the wonders of her world until he forgot the desire to return to his own. After his first parade aboard an elephant through the streets of cheering crowds, Ian Andrew came to understand that he wasn't the only person to believe that the sun rose when Lwaxana smiled.

Deanna sighed again as she watched the sliver of moon disappear behind the clouds. Love like her parents had shared came along so rarely outside of stories and it seemed fruitless to wait for lightning to strike in her heart. The blackness of the now empty sea seemed to echo the emptiness that consumed her. She turned away from the balcony, closing the drapes and leaving the sea behind her.

A gentle thud brought her attention back to the view of the ocean. Nothing was there, but the drapes were disturbed. Deanna was about to call for Worf when a hand closed around her mouth.

"Do not scream my beauty. I will not hurt you." The voice was male, and a beard tickled the back of her neck as he leaned in to whisper to her in his native French. "I require my hand, and I give you my word as a rogue that you will not be harmed if you will not betray me." She nodded, glad she had been encouraged to learn the languages of Europe. The hand disappeared from her mouth. The self-proclaimed rogue winked at her as she turned to face him.

His head was bald, his beard peppered lightly with gray. He wore clothes that would have been cheerful in daylight and a bright metal rapier hung loosely from his left hip. Deanna's hand went immediately to the dagger tucked into a ribbon around her thigh, but the bundle in his arms made her pause. A second pirate lay unconscious in his arms, blood caked on his left shoulder through a crude bandage. Silently Deanna pointed to her bed. "There. I will call for my healer."

Tenderly the bald pirate laid his companion on the bed. Deanna crossed the room and pulled twice on a slender cord. Her healer would arrive shortly after the summons. She turned back to her strange visitors and watched as the conscious one kissed the hand of his wounded friend. For a moment, Deanna thought it was a trick of the light, but the pirate on the bed was definetely a woman. A scarf covered her head, but Deanna reached for it, smoothing it back to reveal a tumbled of red hair. The man tried to stay her hand, but it was too late. He shook his head with deep regret. "I never should have brought her on board."

Deanna smiled slyly as she pulled him aside to let the healer work. "But she insisted."

He managed a amile and nodded. "And when she insists, I cannot do anything against her." He bowed elegantly and rose with a hand extended to her. "I am Jean-Luc Picard, noble rose of the desert, and for your help I am forever in your debt."

She touched her hands to her forehead and then bowed to him in the manner of her people. "It is truly an honor to meet so eloquent a rogue, Jean-Luc. You may call me Deanna and call yourself welcome in my home."

Picard seemed properly awed by her grasp of his tongue. "Well met Lady Deanna, I shall count myself lucky that it was your window I had to depend on."

Nodding gravely she offered him a chair near the window. “Merchants usually avoid these waters. That doesn’t leave you much quarry.”

“Sometimes it’s not about the money.” The tea she handed him was rich with spices. It would have cost a fortune in Europe and he appreciated the gesture of trust she was showing. “It’s about the challenge.”

“Allow me, Captain.” She closed her eyes and reopened the black pools, slowly letting him lose his way in the depths of her mind. “You came to rob the fabled British treasure fleets carying the tithes of Troi.”
He blinked several times, trying to break the spell she held over him. “Actually Beverly wanted to see the Orient.” Picard admitted sheepishly. “She’s been bothering me about it for months. We thought we’d attract less attention if she dressed as a man.” He glanced aside as the healer quietly removed his lover’s clothing. “But she never could stay out of trouble.” One of the two servants assisting the healer crossed quietly to Deanna and reported in the tongue of the Persians. Jean-Luc’s politeness barely veiled the deep concern on his face as Deanna conversed in words completely alien to him.

She dismissed the servant back to her work with a quick wave. “No bones are broken, but it may take weeks to fight off the infection. You may remain here, or return with your ship at the dark moon. I give my word to you that no harm will come to her.” Deanna left him to remove an amulet from a hook above the bed. “I will give you this. The seal of the Imperial house of Troi. This will protect you as long as you are within my borders, and prevent you from having to drop in through my window a second time.” Indescision still echoed in his hazel eyes and she smiled and clapped her hands once. “Because you will be leaving someone precious to your heart to me, I will send my bodyguard with you. Worf has been with me since I was a baby, and he will see that you return safely for your Beverly.”

He took the amulet and inclined his head once in thanks. “You know that the British would kill her on sight.”

A voice rumbled down from near the stone ceiling. “In the desert, many things remain hidden from the British. Your lover will be among them.” Jean-Luc whirled in his chair, his face white with shock. The movement of so large a man should have been easy for him to discern, but he had heard nothing. He looked up at Worf with unveiled awe.

“I seem constantly to be surprised by the desert.” A cannon shot rang out over the water and he jumped uneasily in his chair. “That’s the Stargazer.”

Without a word Deanna took his hand and led him to the bed. The healer and her assistants moved back from the bed, giving him some space to say goodbye. Beverly had been stripped, and her clothes taken away to be cleaned. With the sheets pulled just over her chest it was obvious now that she was a woman, and a woman with few equals. The ugly wound in her shoulder was the only slight on her beautyThe gash in her shoulder was clean but the skin around the wound was shot with an angry red infection. Her eyes were closed and the worrisome beads of perspiration had started to gather on her forehead. Jean-Luc leaned down to kiss her chin and rested his forehead against hers. “I will return to you mi amie. I promise you.” Closing his eyes slowly, he seared her image in his mind and finally looked up to Deanna.

Jean-Luc stripped a chain from his neck and pressed it into her hand. “Give this to her when she wakes up. Tell her she better behave herself.” He had one leg over the balcony rail when he leaned in and kissed Deanna once for each cheek. “She taught me herself never to trust a beautiful woman, but I think I’ll make an exception for you princess,” Then he droppped from the balcony on a single length of rope and disappeared into the night.

= Present =

Deanna’s hair tickled his face as she pulled back from her whisper. “Now that we have met, I will bid you goodnight Captain. Pleasant dreams Will.” Riker fled her presence, unable to find suitable words to reply. He stopped in the hallway, leaning against the damp stone and praying that his heartbeat would slow. He took in the damp night air and willed it to cool the heat rushing through his body. His feet led him down and back to the courtyard. He stumbled dumbly to the ale barrel and lost himself in the bitter brew.

A friendly arm flew around his back and he realized Jean-Luc was laughing. Picard was laughing at him, as Will tried not to choke on his ale. “Ahh my friend… she’s quite the woman isn’t she?” Will’s only reply was to refill his mug and allow himself to be led to the table.

While Picard and Data helped Will deal with women in the age old method of the pirates, drink and song, Beverly slipped away. Throwing a cloak over her dress, she crept to Deanna’s room and Worf nodded her in. He stood imposingly in the hallway and left them alone. As soon as the door closed Beverly enfolded the smaller woman in an almost violent hug. Giggling in a manner that was quite unfit to her station, Deanna returned her enthusiasm. In their excitement blue silk had slipped free from her shoulder and the spidery scar was pink against the smooth flesh.

“I am sorry we were not able to hide it better Beverly.” Deanna ran a cool hand over it lightly. “Does it hurt?”

Beverly shook her head and took Deanna’s hand. “A great deal less then it did, and certainly less then being dead.” Though she smiled gently, Deanna watched as the teasing light come into her eyes. “Forget that princess. I want to hear your opinion of your pirate.”

Deanna smoothed Beverly’s dress back into place, covering the scar and banishing the sorrow from her face. Turning to her trunk, Deanna removed an embroidered blue silk. “I brought this for you. It was a gift, but now I see it will have to be a bribe.”

The redhead dropped on the bed and stretched a hand towards the silk. “You would try to coerce me?” She winked and patted the bed beside her. “Be the affairs of a princess state secrets?”

Deanna handed her the silk. “What about the affairs of a woman?”

Beverly fussed with the georgeous present for a few moments, and her voice took on a guarded tone. “Are you asking my advice?” Reflexively, Beverly’s face flushed. “I didn’t think you-“

“Would want the advice of a whore?” Deanna finished softly as she drew stength from the cold stone. “What about the words of a wise friend?”

The question hung for a moment, and Beverly folded the silk into her lap, smiling ruefully. “Wise?”

“Most certainly in the ways of men.” Deanna insisted and she broke into a return smile. “You have kept Jean-Luc many years.”

“Some would argue that he keeps me and my girls.” She retorted lightly.

Deanna winked and fingered the golden necklace that Jean-Luc had bestowed on Beverly just a few hours ago. “I know better.”

Beverly pulled up her legs and settled in. “Did you kiss him?”

Deanna’s eyes lit from behind. “Scared him is more accurate.”

Giggling again, Beverly closed her eyes and imagined the feel of Will’s lips. “You’ve mesmerized him. I couldn’t be more proud.”

“Has he taken advantage of his new life?” It was a sly question, and Beverly caught her meaning immediately.

“He only just got here. Jean-Luc says he took a long look in my direction, but he’s smart enough to value his life.” She ended with a sparkle in her eye. “You should kiss him again. I think he could learn from you.”

Deanna raised her eyebrows. “You do not think he’s naïve to women?”

Impish in her amusement, Beverly leaned in closer. “Not wholly, but- there’s a certain innocence there.” She traced Deanna’s chin with a finger. “He’d be lucky to learn from you.”

Deanna surprised her by kissing the wandering finger. “I had a good teacher.” Laughing, Beverly nodded.
“And you were an excellent student.” Beverly reached into her corset and removed a small iron key. “Will’s quarters, courtesy of Jean-Luc.”

“He is becoming quite the matchmaker.” Deanna mused.

“The Jackal’s heart is often larger then he would care to admit.” Softly, Beverly leaned down to kiss the forehead of the younger woman. “Be gentle.”


*Seven Seas part 5- Fever*

= past =

In Beverly’s memory the alley argument spiraled out of control. Jean-Luc stood in front of her, but she had pushed him aside, taking the dagger meant for his heart in her shoulder. Blood poured from her shoulder, red and quick and leaving a heat behind it that chilled the core of her body as life slipped away to the dirty flagstones of the street. She had heard the sickening thud of bodies somewhere nearby even as her vision darkened. Jean-Luc dispatched the unruly merchant who had begun their quarrel. His arms were strong around her, but her consciousness had faded.

Her perception reawakened into a nightmare of half-heard voices in an etheral language she had no knowledge of. Beverly heard Jean-Luc, but she could no longer sense his presence. She couldn’t feel his hands. Her shoulder burned dully and the growing heat radiated through her body. The wound must be worse then she expected. Voices and hands brought terror, both disembodied and completely alien to her. For years she seemed to live in the quiet nothingness of her mind, completely impotent and incapable of speech. She didn’t even have to strength to move her good arm, even if she had known where to reach.

Beverly knew she was abandoned in the hands of strangers. Her mind was too crowded with the pain of her shoulder to have peace. Some moments she was aware of the screaming and the insensible moaning, but most of the time her brain raged with lost dreams and fever. Her awareness seemed to only extend in a skintight shell around her body, but her terror broke the barrier and oozed out around it to fill the room. Except for the knot of calm that sat with her, her terror was winning.

In the encroaching darkness of death, a being held her to the light. She spoke in a language Beverly had never heard, a melodious tongue that had to be some sort of angelic speech. She didn’t know what to believe, and when a second light joined the barrier between her and death, she realized they must be angels. Beverly sat up in bed, the sheets clinging to the sweat of her nude form like a draping of chains. She spoke in French and managed to form words through her haze for the first time since she arrived. “Laissez-moi soit des anges, vous ne devrait pas venir pour moi.” Something icy hit her in the center of her chest as one of the beings reached out with a tendril of light that grew bright enough to threaten all of the darkness. It struck her and exploded cold within her. Tortured consciousness faded into the peace of sleep.

Lwaxana removed her hand, but left the amulet of her station on the chest of the sleeping woman. “I thought I was the only one who saw you as an angel, little one.” Deanna sat back and placed a grateful hand on her mother’s shoulder.

“I think that was your work more then mine.” She insisted as she watched the power of the ancient amulet of the Empress keep life in her visitor’s body. Lwaxana smiled softly as she always did. The secrets of her mind playing out in a way invisible even to her daughter.

“Someday it will be your responsibility Deanna. I wonder how it will sit with you.” She pried into her daughter’s eyes, and nodded in silent consent. She knew Deanna would live for her people, just as she had. Lwaxana closed her eyes and rested a hand on Beverly’s arm. “The fever is banished, she will sleep until morning.” Sighing because she knew the moment she had with Deanna was over, Lwaxana stood and regained her robes of office. In treating the sick woman she had stripped down to only a plain silk sari, and her nearly forgotten pile of silks in the corner were enough wealth to buy Jean-Luc’s ship. She donned shawl, cape and cowl, covering her head and adding another shawl to mask the empty place on her breast where the amulet lived. Jeweled bracelets covered her hands, and the golden headress was heavy over her black hair. When she turned back to her daughter she was the Maharanee of Troi again. No longer the woman who was her mother, but the gilded matriarch of a nation. She jingled the bells of her bracelet once and four of her bodyguards entered from the hallway.

Deanna knelt on the floor, politely examining her mother’s sandals instead of looking at her, as was proper in the presence of others. “Thank you Maharanee, you honor me wih your assistance.” Lwaxana rested her hand for a moment on her daughter’s head, and Deanna felt her reply through her fingertips before she swept out of the room to meet the Farisae ambassador.

Deanna’s heart lightened with her mother’s silent praise. She had been afraid that her mother would not be able to help Beverly. The fever was advanced, but her mother had only once failed to heal one on the brink of death. She left the room for the bathing pool, shivering even in the night heat as she remembered the wailing of the country as it mourned her sister. Kestra had been the first born, she should have ruled and left Deanna to a quiet life in the palace, but the ocean had called to her. The blue body that washed up on the sand was beyond even the strength of the Maharanee to call back from death.

She knew little of Kestra beyond the whispers of baby memories in her mind and as she sank into the scented water of the bathing pool she wondered what her mother had seen in the mind of her unknown Beverly. The moonlight reflecting in the still waters lit them a bright silver. The pirate would be back for his lover in two weeks, but until then she had the time to learn the ways of European ladies. She washed the nervous sweat of the two days she had spent over the redhead out of her hair and stepped nude into the warm night breeze. She let it dry her skin as she watched the sea. Somewhere the mysterious ocean had a gift for the Troi family that would make up for Kestra’s loss. The ocean had taken from them, but in the circular ways of the world it would return to them something equally as great.

= present =

Will stumbled into his stone room of the keep. The floor had a single dull rug and the walls were bare, but it was the bed in the corner that drew his attention. Still chuckling with the joviality of his new companions, he removed his boots one at a time and nearly fell headlong into bed. He dropped his belt and was about the drop his knickers to the floor when he heard an unexpected noise. He whirled to a corner that had been empty a second earlier and was confronted with the slim body of the princess, dressed only in some sort of filmy shealth that left nothing to his inebriated imagination.

“How did you?” He stammered as he kept one hand firmly on the waist of his pants. She advanced on him slowly, and he was reminded of the movements of a tiger he had seen in London as a child. She advanced up to a mere handspan and lowered her hands to the one of his that held up his knickers.

“I was not quite done with you, Captain.” She purred in the back of her throat as her hands toyed with his wrist mercilessly.
His entire body vibrated with the sensation of her touch. “I thought,” he swallowed, “I was dismissed.”

She slid her hands around to run them up his back, pressing her breasts to his chest with only a thin layer of fabric between them. He gulped and starred down at Deanna’s teasing eyes. “I have changed my mind.” She took a step towards him and he retreated towards the bed. “I still have use for you.”

His retreated stopped when he tripped on the edge of the bed and fel to a sitting position. “We’ve only just met.” He protested, but his nervousness was starting to make way for his insistant desire for her. Drink held no sway over the power coursing between them. Deanna was simply the most exotic thing he had ever come in to contact with. The lingering blackness of her eyes and hair, the tailing scent of faraway that exuded from her, and even the sound of her voice were of another world. A world that intrigued him beyond his good senses.

Deanna had kissed him. She had pressed her lips against his and reached into his soul, and it was hers now. William Riker was not a religious man, but in the softness of her lips he had tasted heaven. Heaven had searched the deepths of his soul and by some miraculous stroke of luck Deanna had found him worthy. Worthy of the sweetness that awoke such insatiable desire within him. She took another step towards him and started to slip out of the etheral shealth of cloth. Her fingers toying with the fabric as his eyes were unable to watch anything but the her movements. Taking his next breath was not as important as the final destination of the black silk. She reached for his hand and hyponotized, he watched his fingers trace the curve of her left breast, then her right. She licked her lips slowly, pink tongue moistening the sensitive skin of her burgundy lips. Every inch of his body that was not in direct contact with her hurt with the distance.

This time his second hand needed no guidance as it found the softness of her flesh. Touching her made everything outside of her darken as the light of her gained in strength. Deanna was the beginning, his own personal genesis as something unbelievably warm ran up his hands and pulsed into his chest and Will knew he had to touch more. He had to be closer to her.

Deanna laughed as he tore a long gash down the silk hiding her body. Something in this man was awake now, as it had never been before in his life. Will turned her around and became the predator as he lowered her to the bed. Stepping out of his knickers and further divesting her of the silk between them. Now she rolled above him, her nude form glorious in the weak light of the torch. Her skin was fire in his hands, fire racing across his legs as her foot brushed the bare skin of his thigh.

Deanna was burning something away as she ran hands and tongue across his chest, and he consumed more then just her lips as he discovered the warmth of her mouth. Heat lanced through him conquering as he sought more of her, more of her skin against his, more of her flesh that he had not yet sampled with tongue or hand. She led him, showing the young captain the secrets of her body. The constrasts between hard and soft flesh. The sweetness, the salt of sweat, his own sweat, still fresh on her tongue. She ran across his trembling flesh with unbridled pleasure at his arousal.

He fought for a pause in their voratious study of each other. “I’ve been so lost-“ He whispered as he pushed the waves of hair out of her face. Cupping her beauty to draw it closer to him. Her hand was wrapped firmly around his erection, and his eyes widened as he realized her fingers were damp with her own arousal.

She kissed him again, sliding her hips so he ran through the soft hair just above his goal. “Find yourself captain.” She ordered in a breathly whisper as she allowed him into her body. The heat of her skin was only a preamble to the inferno inside of her. She rode him the a schooner in the worst storm of the Atlantic, bobbing with his breath, writhing as she worked his body for her pleasure. His entire being was burning within her. Will was eaten alive by the fire she held for him in her center. She moaned, the sound became a wordless chant as he led her to the pinnacle of this life. Music between them was part of the stones of the keep, part of the earth on the floor, but wholy their own. Deanna sensed his release, his inability to continue at their current level of pleasure and she accepted his climax.

Smiling gently, she stroked his face, curling on her side around him. “Tommorow captain, we’ll find our future together.” A single knock on the door came before it opened on the hulking giant of her bodyguard entered with a bundle of clothing. Wordlessly he set it on a crude chair in the corner and exited the room. She kissed him lightly as he stared at her in confusion. “Tommorrow, Will.” She stood, allowing him the beauty of the curve of her naked back as she pulled on the layers of silk that hid her olive skin from view.

She turned to him, and covered her face with a traditional shawl. Deanna nodded to him and disappeared into the foggy hallway. After it finally found him, Will’s dreams held a color and a life they had never had before.


*Seven Seas Part 6- Swordplay*

Jean-Luc preferred to meet his mornings with closed eyes, the sun high in the sky and his arm around a beautiful woman. This morning he met only one of his criteria. His Beverly was already gone, as was her way most mornings. There was some secretive she liked about the morning sunshine. He was fond of teasing her that it ruined her image as a creature of the night. This morning the sun had barely crept over the land behind his castle. Beverly had taken the blanket they shared when she exited his arms and the chill of the morning woke him far earlier then he should have stirred.

Annoyed by the air, and frusterated by the needs of his body once the cold air embraced him fully out of sleep, the Jackal relieved himself in a wooden bucket in the corner. His room of the keep was the most luxurious. Furs covered his abandoned bed and tapestries from many periods and styles covered the dull stone walls. The legs of his bed were carved darkwood of the tropics. He washed his face in a basin of painted oriental china, running the still cool water across his bald head and drying it with a cloth tossed lazily over a bedpost. His clothes from the journey across the moor were heaped on the floor, and he ignored them as he opened the chest that held his real costumes. A silk shirt, stolen from an Italian merchant, in the deepest shade of crimson topped a pair of gray knickers. His favorite boots, French riding boots in chocolate leather, rose to his knees and he topped them with bright garters and crimson ribbons.

Picard toyed with his rapier, using it to delicately lift his sash from the chest. He slid the rapier into the sash and rested his hand on the hilt, feeling the safety of the smooth steel in his hand. The heavy oak door opened into the hallway and he went in search of his woman. Much as his canine counterpart would search for the scent of it’s mate, he followed the imaginary scent of Beverly down the stone hallway. He had a hunch where he would find her, and his lip curled in amusement when he proved himself correct.

She was perched on the edge of the far eastern rampart, watching the hills as if she could leap out and fly over them. The missing blanket was wrapped around her shoulders, and she didn’t even notice his presence until he buried his hand in her hair. “Ah cherie what troubles you?” He threw his feet over the edge, and enjoyed the thrill of the open air beneath the heels of his boots. “You leave the warmth of our bed for the cold of this morning?”

Beverly snuggled to him, beneath her blanket she was still in her nightdress, and the morning was always cold in this part of Britain. “Have you heard news of my son?”

He sighed, and buried his head in the sweetness of her hair. “Worf tells me he is a distinguished son of the desert. He has learned much in his time away from us.” Jean-Luc won no reply and he continued in a harsher tone. “You’d rather he was here?”

She tossed a stray pebble out across the void before the ramparts. “What future would a whoreson have here?”

Picard lept down, and bowed neatly to her. “He’d have a future as a pirate, as do all nameless men.”

Sighing, she left her perch and leaned to the cold stone. “You know what he’d meet out there.”

“You know my feelings on cowardice.” His knuckles whitened around the hilt of his sword.

“Could you face down your father over a sword and flintlock?” The Jackal’s deep laughter added a touch of warmth to the chill of morning.

“My father has never touched a sword.” He continued to chuckle, tears coming to his eyes. “I’d have to stare him down over a pair of pruning shears.” He drew his sword and mimed the meeting. That brought finally a smile to her face.

“He would provide a bit of a challenge then?” Beverly teased as he traced the lines of her gown with the tip of his sword.

“Perhaps.” His eyes twinkled as Jean-Luc winked at her. “It would have to be on a day he had not sampled much of his wine, and those are hard to come by.” Though she was not wholly comforted, she was smiling and Picard took heart in that. “Are you packed cherie?”

Clutching her blanket like a cape, she nodded. “I didn’t need much.”

“The girls will be all right?” He wondered, and she squeezed his arm wickedly.

“As long as your little boys behave themselves.”

The Jackal shrugged. “Do not your people say, boys will be boys?”

She snuck through the door of their room and locked it behind her. “If they are it will be a long, lonely winter.” He mocked bowed to the door, and muttered quiet obsenities as he walked away.

As he had requested, Will was waiting for him in the courtyard. Looking slightly chagrined by the pink marks on his chest, he nodded as Jean-Luc looked him over with an apraising eye. “I see she had her way with you.” He clucked his tongue in sympathy. “Poor little lamb.”

The pirates erupted in laughter, and for a moment Will’s temper flared in his chest. Data tossed him a wooden sword. It was light, bamboo by the feel of it. Picard set aside his rapier and drew an identical practice blade from a stand nearby. He tested it lightly aganst his arm, then he tossed it gracefully to his left hand. “Don’t want to wear him out too quickly now.” He called to his pirates, who jeered appreciatively.

Will looked helplessly at Data who was smearing his sword with blue paint. “We all survived. Once you touch him, it’s over.” Jean-Luc’s own blade was coated with black and he winked over it cheerfully.

“Mr. Data here finished in less then two hours. Quite an accomplishment.” Data bowed neatly, and gave Will another sympathetic nod.

“Good luck.”

Picard stomped impatiently, “Enough talk!” And then he was invisible until he showed at Will’s side just long enough to leave a long black mark that stung his pride as well as his skin. Wide eyed, Will tried to anticipate the Jackal’s next strike, but again he moved faster then seemed possible. He danced across the straw of the courtyard, feet hopping effortlessly from flagstone to flagstone.

Will’s breath quicken, but not happily as it had the previous evening, but instead with annoyance and the stinging of the marks covering his chest. Once or twice he managed to parry a blow, and sometimes he achieved a full rebuttal but his sword was nowhere near Picard’s flesh.

Chuckling, Jean-Luc called a halt and removed his own shirt. “All this chasing is making me break a sweat young William.”

Will’s current tactic was simply to not be where Picard expected him to be, and it was causing fewer welts. Data handed him a mug of water and Will dumped most of it over his head. “How does he do it?” He panted as Data took the mug back.

Again Data shrugged, “No one knows. Just keep your chin up.”

“Right.” Will finished with little faith. Picard’s sword slapped him across the cheek a heartbeat later.

“I have been meaning to ask you, just what must your face look like so that this excuse for a beard is better?” Will’s response was caught off as Picard feinted around him and felled him with a hilt to the side of his chest. Flushed with exertion he rolled clumsily to his feet, and found the tip of the Jackal’s blade mocking him at his throat. “Ah-ah-ah my little American. Fight from the ground.” Will’s lip curled in annoyance, and Jean-Luc answered seriously. “You think you will never be knocked to the deck of your ship and surrounded by those who wish to harm you?” With a twist of his wrist, Will’s sword flew across the courtyard.

Picard dropped a knee next to Will’s head. “If I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead a hundred times over William.” He lowered a hand to help him up. “Shall we try for twice that?” Standing again, Will looked for his lost weapon. The wooden rapier lay fifteen feet away, but he had little hope he would reach it. He kept his fists up and used the flat of his arm to catch the stinging bamboo blade. Picard nodded as they circled each other. “Good. Better to lose an arm then your head.” Jean-Luc was going to swing high, Will caught it in the set of his shoulder, and he ducked. He rolled, hitting the flagstones hard but landing with his hand around the hilt. He stumbled to his feet. His legs were wooden beneath him, but they slowly responded.

They circled, Picard gracefully, and Will on his last legs. He couldn’t hear the crowd anymore because only the sound of Picard’s feet and his even breathing mattered. Jean-Luc lunged simply, elegantly, but Will stumbled out of the way. Almost more by force of luck then by any bit of skill he dodged the blow and swung around, desperately he stretched out his arm and the tip glanced the inside of Picard’s forearm.

Will collapsed to the ground, wondering how long it would take for his heart to slow down. Deanna appeared in his vision, radiant in the morning sunshine and making trapping Will’s heart in it’s wild rythym.


*Seven Seas Part 7 - Reunion*

She reached down her arm and helped him to his feet. Deanna had
surprising strength, and he could guess by her bemused expression
that she had watched his entire performance. "Not bad." She
appraised softly. "Some people never touch him at all." She
inclined her head towards the Jackal who was showing the line of
paint on the inside of his forearm to a sympathetic Beverly. She
kissed his arm, and Will stopped watching them before jealousy
overtook him.

Deanna seemed unlikely to follow Beverly's example, and Will sighed
as his mind catalogued the injured places she could be kissing.
Someone handed him a towel and he patted the sweat from his body.
He was about to retreat to the relative safety of his room, but Data
stopped him. "The sparring isn't done yet."

Will shook his head. "I don't think I'm up to anymore."

Data chuckled and winked at him. "It'll hurt more tomorrow. Drink
up, forget your worries. It's not you who'll be fighting. They're
much too elegant for us poor bastards." He shared his ale and a
knowing smile. "Simply beautiful to watch-" Natasha, the blonde he
had met briefly the previous night, sauntered to Data and allowed
him to strip her of her cape. Beneath it she wore only the barest
of cloth and leather armor. She further favored Data with a nibble
along his earlobe and he drew Will back from the edge of the straw.
Data's gentle slap on his shoulder dragged Will's voice back from
the abyss generated by the smoothness of her skin. Her muscles were
tight beneath, and they moved her limbs with the evenness of an
ocean wave.

Will's words stumbled out dumbly. "I didn't know-"

Data laughed again and they walked to the open ale barrel as they
waited for Natasha's challenger. "Her people are better fighters
then most of England by age ten." The Jackal filled his own mug and
clapped Will on the back.

"Don't worry, I won't let you fight her for many months." Natasha
drew twin daggers from a rack on the wall. They flashed like
captive lightning in her hands as she continued her warm up

"I appreciate that." Will replied quickly as he gulped down the
contents of his cup. "I'm not even sure if I'll be able to move

"You will." Jean-Luc assured him in a steel voice. "You have much
to learn William." An eager silence came over those waiting around
them, and Will assumed Natasha's challenger had arrived. The
challenger had her back to him, but he knew her instantly from the
perfect curve of her spine. He had no time to speak before they

Jean-Luc had seemed to be the fastest human he had ever laid eyes
on, but the two women blew him away. Where he had danced, they
flew. Natasha's daggers were a silver blur at the ends of her
arms. Deanna's were nearly invisible as her hands moved as
unpredictably as desert sand. Jab, counter, block- the clink of
metal on metal was rhythmic and as primal as the battle between
them. Natasha kicked and Deanna flipped out of her way, landing in
a feint, then a lunge. Unlike his own battle with Picard this
battle drew no jeers from the crowd. Even the roughest of Picard's
crew was hypnotized into the poetry between them.

A dagger flew from a careful grip to stick in the ground a few feet
away. The other three followed in quick succession and they fought
hand to hand. Fists and palms seeking the enemy even as they
tumbled and flew from each other's reach. It was more complex then
the rigging of the flagship of the Royal Navy. His ale was
completely forgotten.

After an eternity had passed between them one of them called a
halt. They stood opposite each other, their skin glistening in the
afternoon sun. Deanna bowed and Natasha inclined her head. Jean-
Luc clucked his tongue and Beverly squeezed his arm as something
prive passed between them. Data whispered to him in a
conspiratorial tone. "Jean-Luc lost the bet. He thought Deanna
would take her this time."

Will swallowed and was unable to find his voice until Deanna's robe
obsecured the glorious skin of her stomach. "What did he lose?"

Beverly was leading the Jackal away with a beckoning finger and Data
sputtered ale into his mug as an inpromptu laugh caught him off
guard. "The top." He explained with amused patience. "Come along
William. It's time we talked about your mission." Data led him out
of the sunshine and into a stateroom filled with maps. "This is the
single most complete set of maps on the island of Britain. This is
the kingdom of Troi." He tapped a small nation on the edge of the
India coastline. Just next to it were a line of heavy black Xs.

Will gave him a quizzical look. "What are those?"

"The fleet of Admiral Quarrenworth. The most vicious servant of the
British crown." There was a darkness in Data's eyes that spoke of
his quiet fear.

"I've never heard the name." Will stared down at the map, the Xs
growing darker as he watched.

"Of course you haven't." Data explained in a soft tone. "He's a
dark secret. A naval man with a heart darker then the hide of the
most vicious seabeast. He's a monster known only as Q."

== past ==

Beverly buried her feet in the sand, relishing the heat of the
grains all around her. The sun was setting over the palace behind
her. Her shoulder was healed over, and it only pained her if she
moved her arm to quickly. Deanna, her caretaker, let roam freely
through the beautiful grounds of the palace Troi. The gardens were
full of plants she hadn't believed existed in the world. Purple
flowers as large as dinner plates that smelled like heaven, plants
covered with spines as long as her fingers, and sunsets that turned
the palace to gold.

The palace itself was as old as the sand around it. Graceful
arches, gilded torches, and stone floors that were always warm.
Even the bathing pools were lined with deep blue tile. It was a
heaven on Earth to the woman who had grown up in the back alleyways
of London. Two servants nodded to her as they gave her a bowl
full of golden rice with a delicious smell. She smiled to thank
them but she had yet to learn enough of their language to speak to
them. She ate it with her fingers. The intricacies of the foreign
cooking were still lost to her, but Beverly hadn't encountered
anything she didn't like. The sun was gone behind the palace, and
purple shadows ran across the sand towards her. The air was growing
cold and she folded the bowl under her arms and headed into the

A golden robed servant took the bowl from her at the door and
ushered her into a huge antechamber. A silken robe was laid out on
the bed and the smell of perfumed water wafted from the bath. The
dust of the desert clung to her feet and the thought of a warm bath
was a truly pleasant one. Before she had even slipped her arm free
from her linen shift, a servant appeared silently to assist her.
Protesting did no good, because she knew no words to dissaude the
serving woman. Together they divested her of her clothing, and the
servant bowed and disappeared as quietly as she had come.

The bathing chamber was dark and filled with sweet steam. She
dipped a foot into the water and let the rest of her body follow
slowly. Goosebumps ran up and over her arms as she dipped the tips
of her fingers. The hot water was divine after the dry sunlight.
Beverly had already lost track of the time that had passed while she
had been ashore. Her days ran together in a haze of sleepy
pleasures. Only Deanna, the guards and her mysterious queen mother
spoke any French or English and her conversations had been far

Though an excellent hostess, Deanna was deeply secretive and very
busy. Beverly knew there were suitors constantly visiting because
she watched their comings and goings from the guard tower. The
dark-skinned guards found a woman with ivory skin and crimson hair
an amusement and did nothing to discourage her curiousity. As far
as she could tell, there were three suitors who visited more often
then the rest. Of those she found only one attractive, he had a
short clipped goatee that remind her of her rogue, but Beverly knew
by the way he treated his horse he was a cruel man. She hoped
Deanna could read him as easily, and a touch to the scar on her
shoulder reminded her that Deanna had abilities she could not
comprehend. Perhaps even magicks.

She sighed and lowered herself up to her neck in the water. Beverly
didn't even know she had fallen asleep until the lips descended
hungrily on her neck. It must have been a dream, like the tens that
had invaded her sleep since he had sailed away in the night. The
body that settled itself over hers was warm and very much
real. "Tiens, mi amie. J'ai promis de retourner pour vous."

In case he was a dream she kept her eyes closed. "I've missed
you." His chest was hard against hers, the muscled skin tight over
his bones and his arms encircled her back. Pulling her tight
against him as his teeth toyed with her bottom lip. Her nibbled her
with the exaggerated care of a man long denied his favorite meal.
She bit him back when he loosed her hair. It would take hours to
dry after he pulled it under water one curl at a time. He lifted
her, so she sat on his lap, and Beverly decided if this was a dream,
she would watch it. She opened her eyes into the twinkling hazel of
the Jackal.

Jean-Luc's resolve melted into passion as she slid onto him.
Pulling her close enough so that even the water barely fit between
them. "Of course you've missed me." He lowered his head to the
water, and the sensitivity of her nipples. "I'm the only one." He
lifted her to the stone side of the bath, lying her back so he could
run his hands over her stomach and down to part her legs. He
invaded her with tongue and fingers, working in slow concert until
she screamed his name into the night. She took him into her,
feeding on the almost pain of the still trembling flesh within her.
He knew her body and worked it for his own pleasure. Worshiping her
with his devotion because they were forever intwined.

Drunken with their reunion, they collapsed to her bed. She snuggled
into the dampness still clinging to the hair of his chest. "What
did you loot for me?"

He chuckled as he toyed with her curls on the pillow. "Three
Spanish galleons. Almost 40 thousand pounds." He pulled the sheet
up to her neck and tucked it tightly. "But I spent all of it on rum
and ale."

She threw the pillow of his head and shrieked with laughter. "I'll
take my share from your hide!"

In the hallway, Deanna listened to them with a soft smile. Her
mother crossed behind her and lead her to a window to talk. "You're
sheltering pirates little one."

"We will have need of even pirates mother, if we cannot disaude
Admiral Q." Lwaxana nodded, and the amulet took on a purple hue in
the full moon.

"I see great danger in him Deanna. For all of us."


*Seven Seas Part Eight - Villains*

Admiral Quarrenworth was resplendent in his dress uniform. The
golden applets on his jacket gleamed in the light of early dawn, and
even the toes of his boots were perfect. He matched the glittering
paint of his ship. The H.M.S. Indomitable was the pride of the
British Navy and Quarrenworth kept her in mint condition. This
morning his silver telescope scanned the coastline of Troi. All the
shores were quiet this morning, as they had been for the last
weeks. Troi was a jewel of the Indian continent. A tiny nation
rich beyond the wealth of many of her neighbors and an insignificant
army was just asking for a position as a British Protectorate.
After all, who was better prepared to protect such riches?

Their ruler was a difficult woman. The Maharanee Lwaxana resisted
all contact, all negociations, all attempts at reason, just like a
woman. Quarrenworth collapsed his telescope and replaced it neatly
on his belt. Lwaxana disgusted him, just as every woman who rose
above her station. Women had a place in the order of life, as did
everything else.

One of his junior officers hurried up to him. The young man's hair
was rumpled underneath his crooked hat. The lieutenant was even
brash enough to start to speak before Quarrenworth stopped
him. "Salute, and only then may you address me." He sneered as the
young man gulped and saluted.

"Sir, Admiral, there's a woman here to see you sir." The lieutenant
was ramrod straight because he knew what he was facing.

"A woman?" Every inch of the Admiral's face was tight. "On my

"Not yet sir, we wanted to wait and ask your permission sir."

A tiny note of approval drifted into the Admiral's voice. "Good.
Allow on her on board, usher her to my stateroom and ask her to
wait." His subourdinate disappeared to deal with the woman. The
Admiral ran a gloved hand along each brass rail between the bow and
his stateroom, at the door he delicately removed the glove and
handed it to the abused lieutenant. "See that the rails are
cleaned. This level of dirt is completely unacceptable. What do
you think this is? A filthy pirate ship?"

Again, he saluted. "Yes sir, I mean no sir. It will be cleaned at
once sir."

"Good." Admiral Quarrenworth didn't deem him worthy of eye contact
as he disappeared into his stateroom.

Will sat with his feet crossed beneath him. The ground was cold on
the sides of his bare feet, and his knees were starting to become
sore. Behind him Deanna's voice droned on. He was supposed to be
listening, and she was even sitting behind him, out of his view to
prevent distraction. However, closed eyes did not prevent him from
vision. He knew enough of Deanna to block his concentration with

She smacked the back of his head roughly with the flat of her
hand. "If that is the level of self-control you can muster, she
will take you."

Will groaned and sat up, staring at her with apologetically. "I
will try harder." Deanna leaned back against the wall and muttered
something to herself in the language of home. "What are you doing?"

She ignored him and closed her eyes, leaving him to watch in awe as
a light shone through from her chest and filled the room. As it
faded back to shadow, Will was home again. He sat on his heels on a
rug before a fire. Above him his mother hummed to herself as she
tended to the fire. He was warm and safe, and his mother was there
above him.

Cold metal pricked at his throat, and he snapped back to the cold
stone numbing his legs, and Deanna's hands holding a dagger to his
skin. "She will take you, and you will know fear as you have never
known it. I showed you a happy memory, a beautiful illusion. She
will show no mercy." She relaxed her fingers and the dagger
disappeared into her robes. "She can make you see things no man
should ever see. She can make you beg for death if only you will be
finally allowed to die." She crossed to kneel in front of him,
pleading in her dark eyes. "You must learn this for me."

Will kissed her hand gently and nodded. "For you."

Beverly slammed the trunk shut and turned on him. "That woman.
That thing is going to be there and you weren't going to tell me
until we were on board!"

Jean-Luc threw his hands up in self-defense. "I am but a poor weak
man." He took a step towards her pouting just a bit with his lower

A dagger lodged itself in the doorframe behind his head. "You're a
dead man if you take another step towards me."

He held his ground. "Beverly-"

She smashed her arm across the top of his table of riches. Golden
goblets, trinkets and porceline from the far east clinked and
shattered on the floor. She hissed and gestured with the dagger's
mate. "Don't Beverly me." Twirling the dagger in her fingertips
she advanced on him one step at a time. "The last time you met this
woman you betrayed your crew, and let them be slaughtered. You even
gave her your heart." She sank the dagger back into it's sheath
around her thigh and sank to the hard stone floor. "How can I trust

He turned and pulled her dagger from the oak behind him. Holding
the handle towards her as a peace offering as he knelt. "You can't
trust me. I love you, but I am weak and mortal. I fall prey easily
to the charms of that woman. I wish it were different, but I don't
stand a chance."

Beverly sighed and replaced her other dagger. "That's why I'm going
isn't it? Not to see Wesley, or to visit the palace-"

He chuckled and started to clean up his surving treasures. "You're
going to remind me that she's no good for me."

She stood and brushed the porceline dust from her clothes. "No
woman is good for you."

Jean-Luc smiled and carefully balanced a golden tiara in her hair
and kissed her cheek. "You're my favorite evil."

Beverly ran a coy finger across his chin. "We should keep it that

The woman sat in the back of the cabin. For some reason the Admiral
couldn't fathom the cabin was chill, even in the midday heat of the
Indian coast. She extanded a hand out from the depths of her cloak
and he took the pale skin into his own and lowered his lips to kiss

That act of chivalry condemned him. As he turned his head up from
her hand, she removed her hood, the eyes that bored into him
devoured the mysteries of his life as simply as drawing a breath.
She rested her hands on his shoulders. "Rise, and pay tribute to
your new mistress."

The Admiral straightened his coat and nodded to her curtly. "I am
yours, Vash."

"Good." Vash called him to sit beside her with a curled
finger. "Now we talk of the conquest of Troi."


*Seven Seas part nine - Magick*

It was a cold night and everyone crowded around the bonfire. Pirates
languidly picked the meat from the bones of their meal. Will curled
into the gray blanket Deanna shared with him. The warmth of her form
eased some of his aching muscles. After a particularity long
silence, Data broke in.

"Cold nights need stories."

The jackal chuckled agreement. "Care to tuck us in Mr. Data?" A
general chuckle ran around the fire, and Data shook his head

"I am no teller of tales Captain, but Natasha will oblige us." The
blonde thunderchild who had beaten Deanna, nodded easily and began
to speak in a tongue truly foreign to Will. She paused at the end of
a phrase and Data translated.

"I tell you of a great sorceress, a womanly demon incarnate with
power beyond the conception of mortal men." The men sighed
appreciatively and all ears were for Data. He waited again and
sorted her words. "It is not in this tale where she was born. No one
has yet followed the path of wickedness to its source." Will found
the double narration added to the feel of the story. Sometimes Data
would have to ask for a section repeated, but slowly a rich legend
he had never heard before took shape.

"Many years ago, a great ship sailed from icy Gaul to the far
southern shores of ease and plenty. The ship was filled with
warriors, men of stout heart and limbs. Even their ship was clad in
shields along her sides. The bright metal gleamed over the ocean as
they made their journey. She has long been a legend in my people,
the witch who comes from water for she is as fickle as the waves.
But these were brave men, men of great deeds and strength and they
had nothing to fear from a story. One night their ship lay becalmed
in just off the shoreline and a tiny boat drifted along side their
hull. The tiny craft thumped twice against the side, and the watch
dropped to the deck to find what was amiss." Data paused to take a
long swing of ale while Tasha teased him until he laughed, ale
spewing from his mouth. Taking a hold of himself, they continued.

"The tiny dinghy was ancient, the wood almost splintered as they
hauled it on board. Inside, wrapped in a decrepit cloak, they found
the sleeping body of a woman. The captain himself lifted her up and
took her below deck. It was three days before any of them saw her
awake, for some time many of them thought she would die, but for
some creatures even death is but an illusion. For the whole three
days she wandered the ship. Unseen and silent as a ghost who slipped
between the men of the watch. She listened to their secrets and
their simple banter. She learned of their wives and their families.
By the time she opened her eyes to smile upon her rescuers, they
were all doomed." A chorus of muted gasping went around the circle.
Pirates repeating "doomed" like the very birds they often kept for

"She began with the captain, and the first mate. Playing to each of
them and drawing them steadily apart. Appearing to one in the
untouched glory of her flesh, and taunting the other dressed as his
wife. She played them as the point and counterpoint of a melody
until one day the crew woke to find both of their throats slit. Each
lay in his hammock his dagger in hand drenched in his own blood. The
mutters of witchcraft began, but only quietly among the lowest ranks
for she had already chosen her next targets. One morning two men
were just missing, the next two bodies were hanged from the
sailcloth. Once they were cooked in their beds, smelling horribly
like dead horseflesh, but by far her favorite trick was the remove
their living hearts and feel them cease to beat in her hands.
Finally only the demon remained, laughing over the ship of bodies as
she disappeared back into the darkness of the water where she had
emerged." Tasha bowed her head for a moment as the pirates cheered
raucously. Data smiled, well pleased. "I think they never tire of
that one love." Tasha flashed white teeth at him and the retreated
back a pace to confer in her language.

Deanna snuggled back into the hollow just beneath his
shoulder. "It's a northern language Will. Very difficult to learn,
it's an entirely different alphabet then you've grown up with."

Jean-Luc nodded. "It even took my Data a while to learn it, but-" He
paused to wink at them rakishly. "I think most men would go to those
lengths for a woman. Beverly, who looked oddly pale in the
firelight, nodded quickly.

"It's amazing the spells some women can put men under." She stood,
leaving her blanket behind. "If you'll be good enough to excuse me,
I've a lot to do before the morrow." A glance at the Jackal told his
tale of woe as he settled into her abandoned blanket will a full
flagon of spiced ale.

"I do not intend rudeness Princess, but sometimes I think all women
are demons of one type or another. Each has her own way to possess
your heart." He took a long draught from the mug. "Some of them even
worm into your very soul." Drearily he finished his ale and wandered
away from the fire. Drawing sword on the practice grounds and
attacking the air as if he could defeat his invisible enemy there
once and for all.

"He's crossed paths with Natasha's witch." Deanna explained quietly.

Will tried to chuckle, but it died in his throat and became a
cough. "I didn't know she was any more then a tale for a dark

Deanna turned to face him, the fire illuminating the curls that
surrounded her face and hollowing out her eyes in the
silhouette. "The woman who feeds on the souls of men is a myth
across cultures and oceans. Our Jackal blames himself for her
release from my lands, when she has been roaming the world longer
then any bard would dare put into a story. The truth of Vash is one
no one would believe."

Will slid a bit closer to the fire and waved for a hot mug. Somehow
even the warmth of the blaze had become cold.

== Past ==

She appeared on the top of the waterfall. Rising with the spray of
the water to stand above, as if she was composed from the droplets
hanging in the air. She wore only the lingering mist of her watery
birth, but she stood as noble as the very courts of Versei

Jean-Luc was a young man with a long untidy shock of red hair bound
carelessly at the nape of his neck. His crewmates were careening the
hull of the Beau Therese on the beach of this land and he was
searching for life. She shook out her dark hair in a wet arc around
her head. She was most definitely life. The nude woman waved at him
once, and to his great astonishment threw herself through the air so
she dove smoothly into the deep pool at the base of the falls. It
was a dizzying drop but she landed easily into the water below and
her head soon broke the surface, laughing gently in the rolling

Even over the pounding water, he could hear her voice. "The river's
really quite lovely this time of year. Won't you join me?"

He had barely time to respond before she was climbing out of the
water towards him, her wet hands caressing his chest as she lifted
his shirt up and over his head. She started to toss it away, but
Jean-Luc held it against his chest. "Who are you?"

She laughed, seeming greatly amused. "Few ever ask me that.
Sometimes they want my name, most of the time they'll settle for

"Even whores have the privilege of a name." Recklessly he winked at
her and dropped his shirt to the side of the bank. "Even if it's not
their own."

She traced a finger along the strong line of his jaw. "You may call
me Vash if you wish."

He lifted her hand, and instead of kissing it like a gentleman, he
kissed the inside of her arm just above the elbow. "I would be
honored to do so." Vash fastened her fingers around the tie of his
hair at the nape of his neck. "Though, I must add that it's an
interesting name."

She added her other arm to his shoulders and slowly drew them
closer. "It's been awhile since a man talked to me long enough to
call me interesting."

"Maybe the men you've been meeting don't have as much self control
as I do." She spun back from him, taking a step back towards the
water and leaving him with the view from her neck to her ankles.
Jean-Luc couldn't help being distracted by the dimples on either
side of the base of her spine. "Any woman who can easily and
shamelessly welcome a man as you've greeted me."

She knelt and wet her hair in the river. She wrung her hair in her
hands, allowing the water to drip back to the river. "Surely you
find no shame in a woman's body?"

Vash turned back around and found him smiling in a statisfied way,
hands clasped lightly in front of him and his clothes heaped at his
feet. "It just seemed unfair to me." He crossed to her, enjoying the
feeling of the warm air on his unadorned skin. "This is much better."

She began with her hand on the back of his neck and ran it down the
muscles of his back to cup the left cheek of his bottom. "I'll agree
with you. Jean-Luc Picard." He leaned over to kiss her collarbone.
Her skin was cool and damp from the water and tasted delicious to
the tip of his tongue.

"Just what are you doing here Vash? Someone like you with your
attributes-" She pursed her lips and smiled enticingly. "Is alone in
the middle of nowhere completely nude when there are pirates about."

She nodded lightly, unconcerned. "I've no fear of pirates. Not if
they are all like you."

Piard nibbled up the side of her neck to her ear and
whispered. "Some of them are taller or, ah, shorter." Her lips
closed over his and poured something consuming down his throat. Then
he stopped thinking about anything but her.


*Seven Seas part Ten - Titania*

"She's a fairy queen William, we're just helping her slip away into
the night." The Jackal assured him in a cheerful whisper. The fairy
queen was a British merchant vessel, sailing easily towards her home
in Bristol. Jean-Luc was mad to take her here. The Navy would be
onto both ships in a few minutes, and the Titania was larger then
the Stargazer almost by the full length of a longboat and she
carried four more guns.

"We won't be able to take it." Will insisted sadly shaking his head.

"Won't really isn't in the pirate vocabulary you know." A feminine
voice insisted behind him. He turned and caught a glimpse of her
just as the moon peaked from behind the cloud bank Beverly's long
red hair was up and tucked beneath a black wool hat that was a bit
knocked around the brim. She wore seaman's knickers that ended just
below the knee, and her ankles shone bare in the moonlight. She even
wore a seaman's jacket, stiff blue with a faded gold braid. One
shoulder was stained dull brown from old blood. Her sword belt went
around her waist, and a leather baldric over her clean shoulder. The
belt held three daggers, and the baldric supported a vicious looking
cutlass. Four pistols hung round her neck, braced on green ribbons.

The Jackal leapt down easily from his perch on the yardarm and
kissed her welcome. "You're dressed for the ball already my love?"

She leaned her forehead against his for a moment and smiled. "You'd
best put on your best suit milord. Don't want to keep the guests
waiting." He backed from her and bowed deeply.

"As you wish madam." He shot a wink towards Will and waved him
along. "Come on Nancy, let's get you a dancing dress." The men
ducked below to muted laughter from the deck. Beverly leaned against
the rail and watched the dark shadow that they were trying to take.
The pirates around her were filled with the reckless enthusiasm for
battle that made them so infamous. Swords were being sharpened,
pistols loaded and laughter hung just a breath away in the air.

"I believe one your English writers said death was the final joke."
Deanna piped up softly from behind her.

"They'd agree with him." Beverly replied as she leaned her arms into
the rail and thought for a long moment before speaking. "Does it
ever bother you that we take these men's lives?"

Deanna toyed with her two favorite kris knives before tucking them
into sleeves on her thighs. She wore all black and when she was
still she blended into the night. "The Jackal takes only what needs
to be taken. You know that as well as I do." She placed a hand on
Beverly's arm and stared into the water. "That is not what is
bothering you."

She shook the hand off in frustration. "Why didn't either of you
tell me Vash was in Troi?"

Deanna removed a throwing dagger from her waist and sharpened it
against a stone as they spoke. "We wanted to be sure it was her."
She replied simply. "It would not be right to arose suspicious on a

"But-" Beverly prodded anxiously.

The eastern woman sighed. "Word arrived from my mother this morning.
Vash has Admiral Quarrenworth and the Indomitable in the bay of
Riix. The Admiral has sent demands for my mother's immediate
surrender to the British Empire."

Beverly's breath came sharply. "I'm sorry Deanna."

For her part, Deanna seemed unruffled. "My mother can defend herself
for some time with the magick of the land."

"Vash has terrifying powers." Beverly replied darkly.

"Some time, but not forever." She agreed as she moved on to the the
next dagger. They stood in silence, just the sound of metal on stone
as they waited. Finally an uproar of muted chuckles, and laughter
stuffed behind sleeves and hands they both turned around to watch.

The Jackal was as elegant as a fine gentleman. Black boots, white
stockings, glistening green garters that tucked into his black
velvet knickers. He wore a ruffled lace collar under a close fitting
green velvet jacket, edged with silver braiding. His baldric was
etched black leather with designs of grapevines. His rapier was an
elegant weapon that hung ready n his left hip. He had eight pistols
on bright green ribbons hanging over his neck and the clinked
together as he took a step. His hat was black and topped with a
emerald ostrich plume that brushed the deck as he tipped his hat to
his lady. "I hope this is sufficient my dear." Nodding quickly
Beverly came to his arms for a long kiss that Deanna declined to
watch because Will was sheepishly exiting the Captain's cabin.

In contrast to the elegant dandy the Jackal posed, Will was all
business. He wore the gray blue of a naval dress jacket, stiff with
gold braid and hammered gold medallions. His boots were black and
clung to his calves and his black knickers were a close-fitting
broadcloth instead of velvet. His pistols braces hung on gold
ribbons, and he had passed up the rapier for the simple cutlass.
Jean-Luc had given him his old hat, black with lace edging and a
single gold hoop earring. Deanna crossed to him and touched in
gingerly. "To pay the reaper." He explained with a smile. "Do you
like it?" She nodded and entwined her arm around the back of his
neck to kiss him properly.

It was Data who brought the crew to business. "We're pulling
alongside Titania. Be ready to take her before her guns can fire."
The entire crew manned the deck and the rigging and the Stargazer
bristled with armed men. As the Jackal had been teaching him, half
the battle was in the first look. Merchants were cowards and pirates
needed to be as terrifying as possible.

The Jackal's plan was to run alongside Titania, flying the French
flag and masquerading as a simple scout vessel. When the Titania
ignored them as no possible threat, they quietly pulled closer and
closer in the darkness until the ships were only a single length
apart from each other. The Stargazer was completely dark, the crew
completely still against deck or rope. Just beneath the mast, the
Jackal lit the first torch and threw it in the direction of the
unsuspecting Titania. As the torch gutted out in the water a hundred
more were lit in unison and the Stargazer blazed with light. Blinded
by the sudden lights the Titania only heard the cannon shots as they
tore cross her rigging. As the smoke rose, and his cannons reloaded
Jean-Luc called out in the sudden silence-

"If ye surrender now to the Jackal, he may spare yer filthy lives.
If not-" Data ran a blood red flag up the mainmast to fly just
beneath the colors of the Jackal. "I trust ye to read the colors."
The crew cheer raucously and then paused, waiting the Titania's

Confused, Will looked to Beverly who smiled as she pulled her
throwing daggers from her belt. "The red means no quarter. No
survivors. Most merchants surrender just when he runs it up, if they
haven't already when they see his flag." He thin smile was a look of
pride and Will turned his head back to the enemy.

"We will not acquiesce to pirates and brigands." Came back the
foolhardy call from the merchants. Jean-Luc tipped his hat a bit and
placed it confidently on his head. Turning to his crew he gave them
a bloodthirsty grin.

"We were hopin' they'd say that, weren't we boys?" The answering
cheers of the pirates were lost in the din of cannon fire. Will
stopped thinking as a barrel of grapeshot flew past his head and
slammed into the mast behind him. Splinters of wood bounced off his
coat, and he grasped his first pistol and fired it across the water.
The ships were drawing closer, grappling hooks sunk deeply into
Titania's guard rail pulled her closer heave by heave. A pirate
above him lowered a rope and at the Jackal's wave he swung across to
land on the deck. He fired the pistol in his left hand and grabbed
another as soon as his feet clunked down. His cutlass clashed on
steel as a merchant resisted. He pushed, finding the growl in the
back of his throat to shove the cutlass into the flesh of the
merchant. Blood ran hot along his sword and the body fell lifeless
to the deck. He had a single moment to see the dead eyes of his
victim before there was another man with a pistol pointed at him.
Will's left hand was quicker and the sailor fell with a smoking hole
in his chest. A torch sizzled just past his ear and he turned to
take on the next. He parried the burning pitch with his left forearm
and slit the torchman's throat. This time the blood sprayed out
across his face, it stung metallic in his mouth, and Will rubbed his
lips clean on his sleeve before continuing his run along the deck.
If this would be his vessel, he would have to kill the captain.

Will jumped to the rail, running quickly on the thin plank to the
stern and the neat red uniform of the merchant captain. Dropping to
the deck beside him Will grinned wolfishly. He could feel his heart
pumping his life's blood. In this moment the other captain stared at
him in terror and he felt the power of his own limbs in a way he had
never before understood. He had strength. The merchant's sword was
still as he drew it, even though his face was pale. Will teased the
tip of his opponent's blade, testing the strength behind it. They
would have been matched, but this night belonged to Will Riker.
Torches lit their blades to a gleaming fury as every other sound on
the ship faded out of Will's notice. All that mattered was the steel
between him and victory. Thrust, parry, step forward, shuffle
backwards, duck, weave left, feint- it was a dance as ingrained in
his mind as the motions of the bedroom.

He had the merchant cornered in the rear of the stern. He had one
hand on the rail to hold himself up and his sword was wavering, Will
drew back for the killing blow- The waver was a feint, the
merchant's steel came at him from high and Will felt it scrape
across the leather baldric on his back. He brought his cutlass
around, hacking into the hard flesh of the merchant . He felt the
blow up his arm and into his shoulder and he howled in emotion. It
wouldn't have been accurate to call it fury or disdain, this was
primal, predatory. He was the victor and his prey slumped to the
deck, gasping his own blood through what was left of his throat.
Will lifted the dead man's hat, its former glory reduced by the
blood marring it and the crumpling from where it had hit between the
rail and the captain's head.

Impaling it on the point of his sword Will lifted his trophy and
cheered his victory over the mass of men beneath him. He watched as
the Jackal felled two men with his rapier and one of the dying men's
blades. Will saw Beverly sink cutlass into the stomach of a man who
grabbed her from behind. Deanna was moving almost too quickly for
him to see, but she left a trail of death behind her. Data had the
helm of Will's new ship and Natasha brought lightning death to
anyone who challenged him. The trophy brought the fighting to a slow
halt. Ordinarily the men would have been allowed a surrender, but
they had ignored the red flag at their own peril. Will swaggered
down to the deck and personally helped dispatch the last few
survivors. Then the night was silent. Blood dripped silently from
the gunnels into the water and the ship was his. From the helm her
lines were perfect, bow ducking easily into a deck bristling with
cannons. This was his now, and this ship was no Hood with a flat
bottom and high profile, the Titania was a woman of beauty.

Much like the woman who was sneaking into his arms and pressing her
lips against his. Her bodysuit was drenched in the gore of combat,
as were his own clothes. Her hair had come free and it was wild
around her face but Will had been in the presence of anything more
beautiful the this Indian princess catching her breath on the deck
of his ship. His home.

"Drink! We need to properly christen Will's new vessel." Jean-Luc
had removed his glorious coat, and his lace shirt was lose with one
of Beverly's hands sliding beneath it to rest on his chest. His eyes
twinkled with the residual fire of battle. Beverly's girls, dressed
in their best emerged from the hold of the Stargazer, arms full of
barrels and mugs. The Jackal buried his face in Beverly's long neck
and chuckled with barely contained lust. "You have done well my
darling, but how could you know we would win?"

She slid another hand into the lace of the neck of his shirt. "When
do you lose?" Overcome Jean-Luc backed her to the rail and pulled
her to him. The two of them were lost for the evening. As was
everyone else on board. Instead of the din of battle, now there was
music as the pirates made merry on the bloodstained deck. Will
watched and nursed his drink until Deanna backed him against the

"You've done all of this because of my letter?" She asked softly,
taking his cup from him and draining the last of it before setting
it on the deck.

Will placed his empty hand on the roundness of her butt. "I would
have, but you've given me other options."

In response, Deanna dug her fingers into his back as he pulled her
daggers from the holsters on her thighs and dropped them to the
deck. "What would those be?" She purred.

"I could do it because I find you the most attractive woman I've
ever laid eyes on." He kissed her neck. "I could do it because
you're persuasive, because you're lovely, because you're powerful."
He kissed her breasts through the silk of her suit. "Because I love

His reward for that was the single most passionate kiss of his life.
The kind of kiss that reached into his soul and knotted it around
the owner of the lips pressed against his. It continued until he
could barely breath, until Deanna was panting and staring into his
eyes. "I think you should keep the name 'Titania'. I like how it
sounds." Will's knees were floating somewhere above his head and he
clung to the wheel behind him to keep him standing. "It has a lovely
ring to it, and someone like you should have a ship named for the
queen of fairies."

He gulped and found some of his voice. "I should? - Someone like me?"

Deanna nodded, whispering so close to his neck that he could feel
her lips move. "Someone I love."


*Seven Seas part 11- History*

"You need a name, something exotic enough to strike fear into the
hearts of your victims." The Jackal's tin goblet slammed down to the
talbe for emphasis. "Riker's just no good."

Beverly delicately stole a morsel from Jean-Luc's play. "I thought
Wil Riker was sweet, old-fashioned." Jean-Luc slapped her hand away
and started with mock begrudgement to feed her.

"Yes, and we know William is as sweet and innocent and his name
makes him out to be." The goateed Captain, terror of the Spanish
Main, reached for a roll and buttered it to feed to his cocubine.

Will was barely containing his laughter in cheek long enough to
finish his wine. "What do you suggest I call myself?" He asked
humbly as he downed the last of the spiced liquid.

Jean-Luc spent a long moment earnestly caressing Beverly's neck and
collarbone and finally Data ansered. "Do not worry too much sweet
Wiliam, all things come."

"Titles often come from the enemy." Beverly explained as she licked
the traces of wine from her lips. "Jean-Luc's did."

The Jackal doffed an imaginary hat to his lady. "That it did,
however, it does him little good until we begin our battles in

"Who called you the Jackal?" Will asked with great curiosity as he
stood to refill the goblets around the Jackal's table.

"The good Admiral himself." Jean-Luc replied cheerily. "I stole
something very precious from him one night, and he has yet to
forgive me." Deep emotion flashed quickly Beverly's eyes and she
looked down at her plate.

Will had a question on his lips, but Jean-Luc stopped him with a
brief shake of his head. Catching Will's eyes only he
mouthed, "Later" and allowed Data to continue the conversation away.

"For a few years to make sure he got noticed, the captain and I
raided together from different ships. My Santa Juliane and the
Stargazer raided under the Jackal's colors until the bounty was
seven hundred pieces of eight. By then My Juliane was in dire
straights so we sailed her aflame into Port Georgia for a lark and
headed seaward on the Stargazer for Haven." Data finished with a
lusty blech and a reach for more wine.

Deanna had entered silently during Data's explaination, and now she
left the wall and slipped on to the benchnext to Will. He snuck an
arm around her waist, which was readiy accessible through the bright
sari she wore. "Haven?" she asked gently. "What is Haven?"

The three long time buccaniers smiled with a wistful joy that could
only be found discussing home. Instead of explaining, Jean-Luc
lifted his goblet. "To Haven!" Data and Beverly quickly joined the
enthosias, and Will gave Deanna a shrug before filling her glass so
they could join in.

The wine at supper was strong and Will's feet were a bit unsteady as
he crossed the planking between the two vessels. Deanna, who drank
lightly, had chosen instead to swing from the high stern of the
Stargazer. She landed easily on the lower midships of the Titania.
She was waited for him, stretching her muscles in the quiet night.

"Tasha's agreed to spar with me in the rigging." Her eyes were
flashing with anticipation.

Will titled his head back in tipsy terror. "All the way up there?"
He teased in a child's voice, and won himself a gracious kiss on the

"I'll see you later." Deanna assured him easily as she stripped off
her dress and started her climb in only the barests of black silk
shifts. "Provided that your still awake." She called down with a
smile before she disappeared into the cloudy sky.

"For you darling, anything is possible..." Will muttered to himself
as he headed for the bow of his ship. His ship, Titania was
beautiful in the dark ocean. Her bow slicing easily through the calm
seas. He leaned out along the railing to rub the figurehead's wooden
curls. He had already decided to turn her into a statue of Deanna,
as soon as he could get her to pose for the carpenters. Maybe at
this 'Haven' they were headed to when the wind came.

"Nothing quite like it." The Jackal whispered into the air. "The
smell of the sea, the air on your face, the moon just cutting
through the clouds to light the waves..." He dropped to the deck
right behind Will and settled neatly on the railing. "Once you've
had a taste of this life, it's near impossible to go back."

Will would have argued, but he had no words that tok from the
majesty of the seas at night. "Tell me about your theft."

Jean-Luc chuckled merrily. "You would cut right to the quick
William. All right, if it's a tale you be wanting, you'll have it."
Will pulled himself up to lean back into the rigging and found it
quite comfortable. The Jackal uncapped his wineskin and passed it
over as he began.

"Many years ago, the admiral I told you of was just a captain with a
little ship. He was a good captain, brave and true to his duties. He
spent many weeks at sea, but he had a lovely, charming wife and son
to come home to." Jean-Luc's face took one a rare serious cast in
the moonlight. "When this captain was just a young seaman he took a
wife. A beautiful girl, by name of Beverly Howard, whom you have met
many times."

Will grinned easily. "She must have been a lovely girl."

The Jackal nodded with a proud smile. "Aye, that she was. Spirited
too. The seaman's name is Jack Crusher, he was a small man with
small ambitions when he married her and soon after the wedding they
were blessed with a son who the named Wesley." Will took a long sip
and watched the glimmers of torchlight from the deck glance across
his companion's face. "Wesley was a bright boy and his father could
not have been more proud of him. But Jack was moving up the ranks.
He had a commision now, and soon he was a Lieutenant. There was even
talk of him getting his own ship, but he had a problem."

The Jackal ran a hand over the smooth skin of his head and
sighed. "As it often becomes with young ambitious men, he outgrew
his wife's capacity to be useful. Over the next few years when other
men, noble men, were promoted quickly and given their own vessels
Jack began to realize that he needed nobility. Nobility cannot be
bought into, but it can be married. He already had a wife, but she
had given him a fine son and she showed no signs of giving him

"That's not honorable!" Will cried somewhat louder then he
intended. "A man doesn't abandon the woman who loves him."

The Jackal grinned and shook his head. "Sweet William, sometimes a
man thinks of only himself and sets his own course. Beverly
remembers going to sleep in her bed next to Jack and waking up in
the darkest, foulest back alleys of London. She had no money, no
jewelry and no way to explain that she was the wife of a soldier.
She wandered the streets until she stumbled half-starved and crazed
with illness over the threshold of a whorehouse."

"Yours?" Will asked curiously.

The Jackal laughed softly, with a strange glint in his eye. "My
mother's. Yvette took her in and bathed her, cured her ills and gave
her a home." His eyes grew soft with naked love. "Beverly still had
spirit. She learned from my mother. She learned to control men so
that no one ever controled her again. She became quite god at it.
Over time I came to know her, ma mere was a romantic and she
encouraged us along until I was caught. As hopelessly snared as I am

Will chuckled heartily. "Snared and growing fat in the wires."

Jean-Luc caught the winskin and took a long draught with a sheepish
grin. "That I am boy, but you look nearly as snared as I."

Will nodded with an unapologetic smile. "It's a good life, if you
can get it."

"I agree wholeheartedly, but allow me to finish my story." Nodding,
Will put a hand over his mouth. "Good boy. When she grew to trust
me, Beverly told me of her origins, of her life in Scotland and the
husband who abandoned her. As well as the deep love for a son she
might never see again." Jean-Luc tilted his head back to the
forgiving sky and sighed. "I'm a romantic Will, I couldn't bear her
to miss him as she did, so I went to the city. I was just a whelp
and a thief then myself, Data was my only companion but with his
mind we contrived a plan."

"A new minted Captain, Jack Crusher who had just married a
governor's daughter to replace his own 'dead' wife, was sailing away
in a brand new vessel, The Stargazer." Will snorted wine through his
nostrils and while coughing, agreed to keep quiet. "Data and I
realize we could slip the ship away. Few knew what this new captain
looked like, so I knocked him out, stole his colors and Data took
the place of his first mate. We sailed the ship out from London, and
just around the point we turned pistols on the crew, shot the
British Lieutenants and gave the crew the choice. They could take to
the longboats now and return to the servitude of Britain, or they
could live free men with us and call no man master."

Shaking his head at his own good fortune the Jackal continued. "They
all turned. Who wanted to slave in the cold when they could live
free in the sunshine? We even had the luckiest of all boons, Wesley
had been along for the madien voyage. He was a brave boy, only
crying when his mother held him again."

Jean-Luc met his eyes with a somber view. "I didn't know then how
much it meant to have him back. Beverly told me that night of the
child she lost wandering the streets of London and how she feared
she'd never carry another. Not that I minded, I had a ship of sons,
but women worry of foolish things. The lamb had Wesley, and as
trapped as I was, I had no hope of leaving her. She trusts me, and
that's a thing most precious in a woman."

Will raised the wineskin high. "I'll drink to that!" After a long
swig, he realized the point of the story had not yet been
made. "When did he call you the Jackal?"

Chuckling in old glee, Jean-Luc took an equal swig of wine. "That
afternoon as he raced to the edge of the dock in his underthings,
watching me sail away in his ship." He paused at the thought
happily. "It seemed fair to me at the time. Now I have his ship, his
wife and his son. He's has an admiralty, but what good is that
really? I've already sworn to steal his ship if we ever meet again."

"Will you?"

"He's probably waiting for us in Troi."

"Oh, I think I'll drink to that too." The winskin passed merrily
between them until both captains were snoring in the rigging as the
sun came over the horizon.


*Seven Seas part 12- Haven*

Will's feet sunk into the warm white sand of the beach. At the
Jackal's urging both ships were pull up so they nearly scraped the
bottom. The hot white sun of the Caribbean beat down on his bare back
as he reached for another barrel as the crew rolled it down to the
beach. Rum, flour, cotton, salted meat, spices- of the many things it
could have been, Will guess it was cotton. The barrel rolled easily,
leaving a light trail up the sand to the green wilderness. At the
forest's edge, small creatures swarmed out to take it as they had the
last barrel.

Laughing and smiling four children ran to take the barrel from him to
roll it up and out of sight. Will chuckled after them for a moment and
turned back to Titania. Everything aboard her was coming ashore, even
the rum. His next barrel hit the water hard and rolled up the sand
with a deep swath behind it. He watched with silent surprise as Data
reached the forest's edge and was overrun with four golden-headed
children who swarmed over him like rats. Data went down beneath
giggling bodies and came up with one in each arm, and the smallest
balanced carefully on his shoulders. It seemed that the largest would
run alongside as Data trudged in mocking difficulty up to the forest.
Will let the barrel roll up against his legs as he watched the spectacle.

It was the whooping of the crowd that made him turn from watching
Data's valiant struggle. Deanna stood on the deck, wearing only the a
long sash of sailcloth wrapped around her hips. She was breathtaking
as the sun glinted off the water to reflect further on her nearly
naked form. She picked up a basket and walked easily down the ramp to
the beach. Stopping beside Will and laughing as he continued to stare
at her openmouthed.

"It is too hot to be clothed," She explained calmly to his frozen

"You live in the desert!" Will stuttered back. "Isn't it cooler here?"

Shaking her head so her long dark hair rippled across her back, she
walked away. Still staring after her, Will's arms clutched tight
instinctually as Data tossed a toddler of two or three years at him.
The little girl wrapped chubby arms around his neck and squealed with
laughter. "She loves that trick." Data explained as he helped Will
push the barrel with his feet, "The wee ones always do. Toss them
here, throw them in the ocean there, they just love it." The two wee
ones in his arms dropped to the sand and ran off after a passing
pirate with a bucket full of brown sugar.

"And as for the lady there-" He paused in admiration until Will had to
kick his shin to get him to finish his thought. "'Tis the humidity.
Desert heat is hot, don't be thinking elsewise, but 'tis a dry place.
A land of sand and sun where the sweat bakes off you as soon as it
forms. Here-" He held up an arm for reference. "Here the sweat beads
up on you until it drops to the ground in a salty shower. And if I
were you, sweet William, I'd not be complaining."

"Women do not..." He was unable to finish the thought through Data's
bellowing laughter.

"That one does. And you're a luckier man for it, believe me." Still
chuckling Data helped ease the barrel through the green barrier into
the deep jungle. Snaking leaves and branches met to form a deep
emerald tunnel that led away into unknown darkness. The little girl
around his neck seemed unconcerned so Will steeled himself that he had
nothing to fear. Finally the tunnel opened into a clearing surrounding
a deep rocky pool of water. To the left were a long line of high crags
that protected the camp from view. To the right was a sheer cliff that
continued hundreds of feet into the air. Between those extremes was
paradise. Houses on stilts with strange roofs of leaves and grasses
surrounding on large stone building that emerged from the very rock
itself. All the barrels were heading that way, so Will and Data
continued their trek until a crewman took the barrel and disappeared
into a gaping hole in the very back of the building.

"The caves fill this entire cliffside," Data told him. "There's no
better place to have a home then here. The bugs bite some, but the
smoke helps chase them away. Sometimes the ocean comes up and swallows
our homes, but we hide in the rocks like rats until they go away. This
is our Haven." He proclaimed with a proud wave of his hand. "A land
where no man is king, where no one minds that we're thieves and whores
and we're men on the same footing. The captain's Beverly even fights
for her girls. I daresay that they've more freedom here then in any of
the British isles. The Jackal strung up the last man who touched a
woman against her choosing, but he's always been the protective sort."

"And your children live here," Will added, watching the youngsters
dash around from the new adults to the trees. "I didn't know you had

"Brigands and ruffians have children too. Usually they dump them at
convents and go on with their lives. We're a sentimental group here.
It's all really Jean-Luc's doing. As rough as he pretends to be, he's
an old softy for the little ones. Always has been."

The Jackal perched high in the cliff and watched the movements of his
crew. The supplies were unloaded and stored away, happy reunions
awaited many families. Only two babies had died of fever and there was
little doubt that their parents wouldn't soon be at work on another
few. Data was guiding Will around, showing him the ways of their
Haven. Will found find much happiness here, it was apparent in his
honest smile. Jean-Luc almost wished they could remain safe between
the rocks and the sea, but Troi was waiting for them.

Lwaxana would be able to hold the Admiral at bay with sandstorms, and
she would fight the witch with every breath in her body. A fight with
Vash was always a loosing battle. Like water you tried to crush with a
rock, she ran away from your fingertips and sank into oblivion. In the
oppressive heat of the Caribbean, Jean-Luc shivered at the thought of
her. Some nights he could still see her eyes watching him from the
shadows and in the heat of passion he sometimes took Beverly's hands
for hers. Vash still held him as helpless as a tidelocked jellyfish
after all the years they had put between them.

When his thoughts grew too dark to fathom, he dropped to hang from his
ledge. Feet finding worn places in the rock as he scrambled down to
the sand. His Beverly found him almost immediately and he buried his
sorrows in the softness of her lips. Somehow she knew when his demons
rose up against the chains he bound them in. Though both knew they
could not fight them, they retreated down the tunnel to a distant part
of the beach. Perhaps the demons would again bow to distraction.

* * * * *

Admiral Jack Crusher had a reputation for cruelty. Since his
first-born son had been stolen with the H.M.S. Stargazer, so many
years ago that the son was in all likelihood a man and a pirate, that
self-titled Jackal had been the only quarry he sought. There was no
man alive with more knowledge of his movements, no man who knew more
history of his spoils, but that had not brought him his head. The
Jackal disappeared into the night and the sea told no tales. British
Intelligence knew that the Jackal had ties to Troi. His ship had been
seen in the vicinity more times then required counting in the few
years, but that meant little. Perhaps the monarch was so desperate
that she was appealing to pirates for succor. Jack couldn't believe
that would be the case. What would that do to her respect among her
subjects? How could they continue to follow a woman who had dealings
with the least trustworthy of men? After all, even the barbarians of
the desert should know that pirates were beneath trust.

The Admiral professed his deep hatred of pirates at every turn. He
hung those he captured, and tortured them all before they danced from
the yardarm. His new knew better then to believe it was only the
pirates he hated. His new wife, the demure and proper Christine, had
yet to give him a son. The Jackal had his and was raising him as his
own. The Crusher boy could easily have been the cabin boy he had
keelhauled a fortnight ago for refusing to give up the location of the
mythical 'Haven'. The Jackal's den of rogues and unfortunates was
rumored to exist somewhere in the ocean, but no one had laid eyes on
it and told the tale. It was well known that the Admiral talked to
himself at night in his cabin. Always speaking of the Jackal, cursing
his children and his children's children to the dawn of time for
taking his first ship.

He had been forced to serve as mate for years while he waited for the
next ship. Every year beneath Quarrenworth had hardened him. Every
'aye sir' had brought more lead into his heart. Quarrenworth was a
scullery maid compared to the well of resentment that dwelled beneath
the handsome breast of Jack Crusher.

That cold destruction called to Vash across the waters as she perched
daintily on the very bow of the Indomitable. She had left her cloak
off, but the sun did little for the blue-white of her shoulders. She
knew of Jack's approach before the glint of a sail even peaked over
the horizon. Admiral Quarrenworth was a tool, something to used and
cast aside at the end when it grew to worn and rusty to be any good.
Admiral Crusher was fuel. He had let his revenge become the blood of
his veins. He would be the Jackal's undoing. She could smell it in the