The airship’s passengers were fast asleep in their cabins when the pirates attacked. Taken entirely by surprise, the crew were unable to offer much resistance and soon the passengers were being woken roughly and dragged into the dining hall.
Little Genevieve was woken by her mother just moments before the invaders reached their cabin.
“Hide under the bed, Gené,” her mother said, sitting on the bed with her skirts spread out to hide her daughter. “Stay quiet.”
From her hiding place, Genevieve peeped around her mother’s skirts, watching as heavy boots marched in. The bed above her rose slightly as her mother was lifted to her feet. She could see another pair of boots in the doorway- women’s boots, with sharp, tall heels. They were bright red, and Genevieve could hardly take her eyes off them.
Genevieve’s mother gasped. “Lucy Marlborough! What are you doing with these ruffians? Unhand me at once, don’t you know who I am?”
The woman in red boots stood directly in front of her. “We know precisely who you are, Mrs Moore,” she said in a voice that almost rivalled her captive’s for culture and precision. “That’s exactly why we’re here. Take her to the dining room with the others.”
Mrs Moore was dragged away by the two men, but the woman with the red boots stayed in the room. Genevieve watched the boots wander around the room, heard the cupboards open and close again, before the boots came back to the bed. The springs creaked as the woman sat down.
“Are you comfortable down there, Genevieve?”
Genevieve didn’t say anything. Mother had told her to be quiet.
“You shouldn’t be afraid,” the woman said. “I won’t do anything to hurt you. None of my men will, either.”
Her mother’s warnings were overcome by her curiosity. “But aren’t you pirates?”
The woman laughed. “Yes, yes we are.”
Genevieve crawled forward a little, just far enough to peep up at her, simply because it seemed rude to talk to somebody without looking at them. “Mama said that pirates shoot people and set bombs on airships and make people walk the plank and fall to their deaths.”
There was a pause. “Some of that is true. Some of it isn’t.”
“Mama doesn’t lie.”
“No, but sometimes she tells you things that other people told her, and those other people, they might just be lying. Would you like to come out and talk to me properly?”
Genevieve thought about it for a moment, then crawled out and stood up. The pirate woman had long, curly red hair falling around her shoulders, with a triangular hat pinned on the back and goggles pushed up onto her forehead. Her jacket looked like a man’s, and she wore trousers. She was smiling in a friendly manner.
“Hello, Genevieve,” the pirate woman said.
Genevieve regarded her solemnly. “How do you know my name?”
“Well, that’s a complicated story. We’ve met before, in a manner of speaking, but you won’t remember it. You must be, what, seven years old right now?”
The little girl nodded. She was used to meeting old acquaintances of her parents who knew her from when she was a baby. “So what parts are not true?”
The pirate laughed. “Well. I’ve never shot anyone, but some pirates do, so I’ll allow that. We only make very bad people walk the plank. But I have never, ever set a bomb on an airship.”
Genevieve folded her arms. “Are you sure? I have heard my daddy talking about protecting ships from pirates because of their bombs and things.”
The lady nodded. “Absolutely sure. There are people who set those bombs, but it’s not pirates. We just want the money and jewels and fancy things that people carry on the ships. There’s no reason for us to blow them up.”
“So who does?”
“Political enemies, usually,” the pirate said. “Does that mean anything to you?”
Genevieve shook her head.
“Well, when you’re a bit older it will. You’ll know a lot more about bombs, too, such as how to disarm them.”
There was a knock at the door, and the pirate lady stood up. “Come,” she said.
A dirty looking man in typical pirate clothes opened the door, tugging the front of his hat respectfully. “We found t’bomb, Cap’n Marlborough, just where t’funny white haired gent said it’d be. Disarmed as instructed.”
The pirate lady smiled. “Excellent. Good job, Atwood. Gather the men and get ready to leave.”
She bowed towards Genevieve. “You’ll have a safe journey, now, Miss Moore. Please pass on my apologies to your mother. And my regards to Mr Manning, when you eventually meet him.”
She left with a wink, leaving Genevieve staring after her in some confusion.
© Kari Fay
(Author’s Note: Something of a two-parter, this- a sequel/prequel to Wednesday’s story “One Night On An Airship” and connected to an increasing number of other stories! I should really get a page up to link them up properly.)