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Chapter I: Signing the Articles - With a Black Flag.... [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
With a Black Flag....

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Chapter I: Signing the Articles [Oct. 12th, 2008|11:46 am]
With a Black Flag....



The somber crew sat as comfortably as they could, some on coils of hawse, others up in the rigging and finally some sprawled on the deck itself.
The last of the old sea salts said, "Aye," reluctantly and at that instant the fate of the ship was sealed.

In good spirits some six months back, the ship Pilgrim's Progress had sailed from Boston ever southward with the goal of salvaging the mountains of gold that had sunk with a Spanish treasure fleet off the coast of Florida the previous year. Unfortunately they were not the only ones with this idea, and had found an ocean of competition circling above the Spanish wrecks.

Too many of the money-hungry crews of these other ships had been turned away from the great treasure, and now they plied the sea lanes in search of fresh prey, perhaps less rich but certainly more available than the undersea wonders of the Spanish Flote. The Pilgrim's Progress, though she carried nothing more than supplies for meager survival had been attacked twice by even more desperate men, some of whom had given up dreams of gold and now wanted more for food and clothing.

She had survived the two pirate attacks, but of her 6 cannon she had but 5 left and in a fire that broke out in the last combat, half the ship's stores had been destroyed. Most tragic of ll though, was the loss of the Progress's original captain -- a firm but good-hearted man, who had been struck in the chest by a splinter from an exploding yardarm.

Hungry, angry, dispirited and with no strong leadership the crew had begun to grumble and to rumble. The question of Piracy was raised by one particularly odious sea-lawyer... and at first, no man supported it, but no one spoke against it.
Back home in Boston, Salem, the Cape, many of these men had families whose survival relied on a successful voyage. Returning home empty-handed would be a death sentence for these men and their loved ones.

The day of the vote the ship lay becalmed off the coast of the Carolinas.

"Aye," repeated the sea salt. His was the final vote, the last agreement to "going on the account" a popular euphemism for turning pirate. They had all voted the same, as was to be expected -- they would all hang together.
Each man knew in his heart that there was no going back. The vote had made them an enemy of all nations -- subject to torture, murder, mutilation and shameful execution by any that might catch them.

Following quickly came more votes.
A thick set and terrible fellow famous for his strength and his anger had been named captain -- Captain Beckett. He had single-handedly brained a pirate to death by smashing his skull against the mainmast in the last attack... something that stood out in the mind of the crew.

Mister Ustartes, a reliable fellow, much liked by the crew was chosen as the Quartermaster. Quartermaster, as the crew's representative would follow their will and make all the daily decisions for the ship, in contrast to the captain who became the sole authority in time of combat.

Daégon was named ship's gunner - a valuable position... even if most gunners seemed to be deaf by the end of a voyage.
And little Claude remained, as always, the cabin boy.

Now that they were all officially pirates there was but one step left to take: the signing of the articles.

The articles read as follows...

Every Man Sworne by Book & Mirror to be true to these Articles, & to his Ship Mates, is to have a Vote in Matters of Importance. He who is not Sworne, shall not Vote.

Every Man to have Equal Right to ye Provisions or Liquors at any time & to use them at Pleasure, unless Scarcity makes a Restriction necessary for ye Good of All.

Every Man to be called ffairly a Board Prizes in turn by the List of ye Company. Every Boarder is to have a Suit of Cloaths from ye Prize.

The Captain & Officers are to be chosen on Commencement of a Voyage, & on any other Occasion as ye Company shall deeme fit.

The Power of ye Captain is Supream in Chace or Battle. He may beat, cut, or shoot any who dares Deny his Command on such Occasions. In all other Matters whatsoever he is to be Governed by the Will of ye Company.

Every Man shall obey Civill Command.

He who first sees a Sail, shall have ye best Pistol, or Small Arm, from a Board her.

Ye QuarterMaster shall be first a Board any Prize. He is to separate for ye Company’s Use what he sees fit & shall have Trust of ye Common Stock & Treasurey until it be Shared. He shall Keep a Book shewing each Man’s Share, & each Man may draw from ye Common Stock & Treasurey against his Share upon Request.

Any Man who should Defraud ye Company, or another, to ye Vallew of a Dollar, he shall suffer Punishment as ye Company deeme ffit.

Each Man to keep his Musket, Pistolls, & Cutlass cleane & ffit for Service, upon Inspection by ye QuarterMaster.

Good Quarters to be Granted when Called for.

Any Man who Deserts ye Company, keeps any Secret, or Deserts his Station in Time of Battle, shall be punished by Death, Marooning, or Whipping, as ye Company shall deeme ffit & Just.

Not a Word shall be Written by any Man unless it be nailed Publickly to ye Mast.

Any Man who Strikes or Abuses another of our Company shall suffer such Punishment as ye Company shall deeme ffit & Just. Every Man’s Quarrel to be settled a Shoar with Sword & Pistol & be Adjudged Fair Fight by ye QuarterMaster.

All Lights & Candles to be put out before 8 a Clock at night. If any Man continues Drinking after that Hour, he must do it on ye open Deck. That Man who shall Smoak Tobacko in ye Hold without a Cap on his Pipe, or carry a lit Candle without a Lanthorn, shall suffer Moses Law (40 Stripes less one) on his bare Back.

No Man to talk of breaking up our Way of Living until Each has Shared a Thousand Pounds.

If any Man should lose a Limb, or become a Cripple, he is to have 800 Dollars out of ye Common Stock, & for lesser hurts, Proportionably.

Ye Captain & QuarterMaster are to have two Shares of a Prize, the Sailing Master, Boatswain, Gunner & Surgeon, One Share & a Half. Other Officers One & a Quarter Share. Each Man shall share Plunder Equally. Boys shall have a Half Share.

After a quick review of the articles, Captain Beckett took up the quill and scrawled his name.


[User Picture]From: fbi_serenity
2008-10-13 03:46 am (UTC)
Daégon was leaning against the mast of the ship, her arms crossed at her chest. She had been the main supporter of the piracy in the first place. After all, she'd done it before. She wasn't afraid to do it again. She was fairly apprehensive about the crew that had gathered, but if they signed, she knew that they had no choice but to trust one another. After all, who else could they trust if not their shipmates?

The wind picked up, causing her hair to swirl around her face. She brushed it back, pulling her coat a little tighter around her shoulders. The day hadn't been too warm in the past few days, and she just hoped it was a sign of bad things to come. She didn't want to stand up on deck much longer. There was a cannon underneath waiting to be repaired, and she was going to try and salvage it as much as she could. But even if she couldn't, then they'd have parts for the others, or a good bartering tool for later on.

She didn't move forward to sign. Instead, she let her hand fall to her cutlass, waiting for the quartermaster to sign his name. After all, it wasn't her place as the gunner to sign next. She would wait her turn. Instead, she played with the soft leather that hung from the hilt of her sword.

And didn't speak, looking around at the gathered crew.
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[User Picture]From: ibe_ustartes
2008-10-13 11:16 am (UTC)
Ustartes had been sitting on an upturned barrel rolling a thin filling his pipe with fresh tobacco listening to the vote. He had raised his hand and given his "Aye" without hesitation when his turn came.

Rising to his feet he looked around him, he was to be Quartermaster to these people. People who up to know had merely been his shipmates, now he was to hold authority. Stepping up the the Captain he took the quill in his hand and gave his signature in looped handwriting. Giving the Captain a quick respectful nod and moved over to sit on a ledge at his right hand side A place he would need to grow comfortable with.

The position of Quartermaster carried a lot of unspoken duties not illustrated in the contract. He had been on ships his whole life, albeit this the first time he did so as a pirate, the quartermaster was the route for the mutineer and traitor if he so chose. Ustartes knew he would never chose it. In a world of shifting values there was only ever one constant and that was loyalty.

Throwing his eyes around him again each crew member in turn. There was a few born pirates standing on this deck. Some that would have to learn fast. Little Claude would find his education far more vast a varied from now on. For the briefest of moments his eyes came to rest upon Daegon, she was beautiful and brave yet Ustartes had had some trouble with women on a ship before. As the months at sea stretched out men lost the ties of morality and a woman was a distraction. He was sure she could take care of herself but still it was something he would keep an eye on. Pirate he ma be but still he was a man of integrity.

Drawing his saber from his scabbard he passed it from hand to hand. He had had a new wrap applied to the hilt and his hand was not yet fully in tune with it. AS he tossed it from hand to hand he sucked at the pipe in his mouth. Who would be next to sign, it was one thing to say aye but quill to paper made it official.
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[User Picture]From: fbi_serenity
2008-10-13 01:24 pm (UTC)
She had known Ustartes from the beginning, and she could tell that he didn't trust her being on the ship. Blasted superstition about women and luck. She was one of the best gunners this ship would see. She stepped forward, her eyes meeting the quartermaster's as she took the quill, creating the curvy loops of her name. Setting down the quill, she gave the captain a subtle bow with her head, moving to the stairs to go below the ship. She didn't really care who else signed the articles. She knew who her captain and quartermaster was, she had signed, so nothing else really mattered to her. Her loyalty was in place, and it wouldn't be shaken.

She ripped off her coat, tossing it across one of the working cannons. The cannon was as close to beyond repair as she could have imagined, but she was good at what she did. Within 5 minutes, her arms were covered with gun powder, finding a well shot ball had melted onto the unshot ball in the cannon.

This was going to take longer then she thought.
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From: claude_raine
2008-10-14 10:37 am (UTC)
As soon as Beckett had passed by the table, the crew filed past the ruffled papers in a slow-moving procession, the line of dirty men rocking back and forth slightly with the ship's measured movements. Claude brought up the rear of the line, as always, and he had no complaints in that fact - he knew his place. Ustartes was second of course, and Claude found himself staring at the man’s wide muscular shoulders, bulging beneath his tight-fitting coat, as he leaned down over the papers. How many times had he seen his father’s pudgy shoulders and thought them the shoulders of a true man? He wondered how he could have ever been so wrong. The gorgeous Daégon was next, her long hair gently whipping around her face in the wind as she signed her name. Claude had no patience for women like her, women that tramped around in men’s clothing and called themselves equals amongst them. Her attitude upset him deeply, especially she had been pro-piracy since the very beginning. She swung her red curls around as she walked off like the queen of the ship, the sight of her almost luminous locks in the sun reminding Claude of the stories he’d read of sirens. And indeed, as she left, it was obvious that she had the same affect on the crew as the creatures of legend, each of their heads craning around to get a better look. Disgusting.

The rest of the crew passed by, and it was a wonder to Claude that half of them could even spell their names. Finally, it came to him and as he read over the red scribbles he couldn’t help be scowl at the last of their new “laws,” though it wasn’t a surprise to him. Why would they give the cabin boy anything? He didn’t really need it anyways, not with a family like his. Although, no one had said it was going to be money they were going to be plundering. He signed his name quickly anyways and backed away from the paper so that either Beckett or Ustartes could get collect the document. He was the only man that lingered after he had signed his name, though he kept his distance from the two older men.
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[User Picture]From: obi_wan
2008-10-14 10:37 pm (UTC)
With the final signature a ragged cheer rose up from the crew. For a moment these hardened men were able to forget the self-imposed death sentence that now hung over them and think only of the chance for riches to come.

Almost at the same time, a wind from the north grew stronger, setting the sheets flapping.
Captain Beckett cleared his throat," Shipmates, this wind has given me an idea and I suggest we make sail for Cartagena, taking any such plum prizes as we might pass on the way. What say you all?"

The crew nodded and murmured among itself. None has a better destination in mind, but they turned to the Quartermaster for guidance.
Beckett too, turned his eyes on the younger man and a cruel smile played on his lips.
"Mr. Quartermaster?"
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