Three pirate books and one maritime history book later, this huge, Monty Python-esque plotbunny of DOOM lumbers up calmly and latches its sharp pointy teeth onto my head. Thus, this odd little AU fic was born.
Title: Untitled as of yet
Characters: Um... pretty much everybody
Warnings: Little known terminology (that I will define at the bottom), Unbeta'd, written and typed two seperate days from about 3 to 4 am, violence planned for later chapters
The engagement had been short and successful, Hughes mused to himself. The men were getting better. The massive square-rigger they had looted was surprisingly undermanned, and when the crew had descended upon it most of its men, including their coward of a captain, had taken to the lifeboats rather than fight, leaving only a few men to defend the ship, most of which now either lay dead or mortally wounded on the now sinking boat, save for two young men, which, judging by their remotely similar appearances, Hughes guessed, had to be brothers or family of some sort. He watched the captain look over the two prisoners as he counted and divided up the booty for distribution among the crew later.
The taller of the two boys looked calm, but not subdued. Bronze-gold eyes followed the captain’s every move from behind a shock of light brown hair with mild interest and a sort of detached curiosity. Hughes nodded to himself. The boy obviously had no doubts about his strength, which he had shown in his ability to fight, but he also knew how to choose his battles, which Hughes had also seen when the boy had almost nonchalantly tossed his gulley to the deck after wounding and even downing a couple men only to find many more taking their place. This boy was smart, knowing when to fight and when to surrender, and had even calmly held his hands out to Jean Havoc, one of the ship’s boatswains, when he had approached the boy with shackles and manacles, calmly resigning himself to the fact that, for the moment at least, he was a prisoner of the pirates that had attacked his ship, and he now sat calmly on the deck with his shackled hands folded in his lap, gazing up at the captain with what now seemed almost to be a reserved indifference.
Not so the other boy. Fiery bright gold eyes glared up at the captain from behind a mussed curtain of bangs nearly the same shade of gold as those eyes. This one had no doubts about his strength either, but unlike the taller of the two, he wasn’t afraid to show it. At first glance his fighting style had been wild and reckless, but he had severely injured several men, appropriating for himself three full brace of pistols and even a cutlass in addition to the gulley he already had, all without suffering a scratch. The boy was dangerous in a fight, and a good one to have on one’s side, but his will was as wild as his fight, and they had had to go so far as to drop a heavy boarding net over him before he could even be approached. He had continued to fight even after they had shackled him and confiscated his weapons, and one man was still nursing a nasty bump on his head from when the boy had swung a chain that they had tried to bind him with, and he now sat before the captain appearing to be more a pile of ropes and chains with a head than a bound man.
The captain calmly spared his less cooperative prisoner a glance, who returned the stare with a look so full of hatred and defiance that some of the men behind the captain took a fearful step back and even Hughes caught himself flinching at his gaze. If looks could kill, they’d all be throwing their lifeless captain overboard to his final rest if he were a lesser man. But Roy Mustang was no such man. He held the boy’s gaze with such indifference it only seemed to serve to anger the boy further. Finally Mustang scoffed, tossing his head to remove a stray lock of his short black hair from his eyes before shifting his glance to the calmer boy, then back to the other again.
“Your names,” he calmly stated. The calm boy blinked, while the other one offered no reaction at all. Mustang glared at them both. “Answer a man! Your names!”
“Alphonse,” the calm one replied quietly. “Alphonse Elric.”
Mustang nodded once, then turned to the other boy. “And you?”
His only response was another glare, then he lowered his head and stared resolutely at the deck.
Mustang’s eyes narrowed. “You a mute, boy?”
Slowly he raised his head and turned his piercing gold eyes back up to the captain. “No,” he growled, so low that everyone near him but Mustang and Alphonse shrank back. Hughes raised an eyebrow. This boy wasn’t much physically, as he was rather small, but his strength and aura appeared frightening enough for even some of the bravest men on board. He couldn’t help but notice that while he hadn’t expected Mustang to be rattled, the boy who identified himself as Alphonse made no reaction whatsoever to the boy beside him.
“Your name, then,” Mustang replied. “Out with it.”
The boy’s eyes, which had sense lowered back to the deck again, raised back up to the captain, and for a moment it looked like he was going to answer. Until he spat on Mustang’s boot.
The entire ship went silent. Roy Mustang, like any other pirate captain, was a man that demanded respect, and something like this would get any member of his crew in serious danger. Mustang raised an eyebrow at the boy, who responded with an almost feral grin.
Alphonse sighed. “Brother…”
Mustang’s attention turned to Alphonse. “Your brother, is he?” He asked calmly, and Hughes could have sworn he heard a touch of amusement in the captain’s voice. “His name, then? Since he was so kind as to give one of my boots a much-needed spit shine?”
Alphonse would have responded, but his reply broke into another exasperated sigh when his brother spat on Mustang’s other boot.
Mustang calmly spared the boy, whose grin had grown wider, a glance before turning back to Alphonse. “Well now both boots, it seems. But I digress. Your brother’s name, what be it?”
“Al…” the boy growled warningly.
Alphonse gave his brother a look that clearly told him to shut up before turning back to Mustang. “His name is Edward, sir. Edward Elric.”
Edward’s head jerked to his brother and offered a slightly less powerful glare, which Alphonse promptly ignored.
Mustang smiled slightly. “Sir? A prisoner on my ship already addressing me as if I were his captain?”
Alphonse cocked his head at Mustang. “Well, you haven’t killed us like the rest of the crew, you brought us off a sinking ship, and we seem to be the only two spared, and you haven’t thrown us into the hold, so it doesn’t seem you’re going to sell us, so one would assume you have a use for us. Sir.”
Mustang laughed out loud. “Well, now. What use do you think we could have for you? I doubt your young brother here would willingly do anything other than sit in chains.”
Alphonse looked genuinely confused at this “Young brother?”
Mustang blinked. “Is he not your younger brother?”
Edward’s head slowly rose, stopping halfway up to the captain. Only Alphonse noted the venomous expression now on his brother’s face.
Alphonse shook his head. “No, sir. I’m the younger brother.”
Mustang looked from Alphonse, to Edward, then back to Alphonse. “Certainly doesn’t seem like it. You seem to be the mature one, and you’re taller than he is by at least a head.”
Edward’s head snapped up the rest of the way, his eyes now flashing in a barely contained rage. He lunged towards Mustang, momentarily forgetting the heavy chains and ropes he was bound in, which only earned him a small rise off the floor and then a quick collapse as he landed hard on his shoulder about six inches from where he had been sitting, screaming oath after oath and if one would listen over his screams of rage, they could hear the words small, tiny, short, and other similar words here and there.
Mustang calmly waited until the boy settled down, and stopped screaming, then turned to Alphonse with a questioning eyebrow raised.
Alphonse, who had kept his head lowered in apparent embarrassment of his brother’s behavior until the screaming had stopped, looked back up at the captain. “You’ll have to excuse him sir, but he IS my older brother, and he’s… rather sensitive about his height.”
“So I see,” Mustang replied, glancing down at Edward, who was still muttering curses under his breath. “Well now, young Alphonse,” he continued, turning his attention back to the younger boy. “We do in fact have a use for you. As you’ve likely noticed, my crew is rather small. You have both shown excellent fighting capability, and you, especially, the ability to keep your head in extremely dangerous situations. What say you, then, to joining us in the Sweet Trade?”
Alphonse shrugged. “I don’t see how we’re really in a position to have a choice, sir.”
“Very well. Mister Havoc, release young Mister Elric here.”
Havoc did as he was told, cautiously overstepping Edward, and Alphonse stood to his full height, shaking out his cramped legs. Hughes stepped forward then, looking him up and down before calling for the ship’s gunner, whom Alphonse was surprised to see was a woman. She examined him the same way Hughes had, then nodded before turning to Mustang.
“He should make a good powder monkey, sir. I’ll take him and see if he has any potential for a gunner as well.”
Mustang nodded. “You have your job before you, Mister Elric. Miss Hawkeye will show you the ropes and see how you do. Everyone pulls their weight on this ship, you understand?”
“Good. Now what of your brother?”
Edward, who stopped muttering when Alphonse had been released, glared up at Mustang
“Little rat needs a bloody attitude adjustment before we do anything with him,” a voice rang out from the crew.
Hughes grinned at Mustang. “Didn’t the surgeon and carpenter want an assistant?”
A loud guffaw rose from the men who had heard the first mate’s comment.
“Yeah, that’ll do!”
“Give ‘im to Winry!”
“Winry’ll straighten him out good!”
Mustang nodded. “Winry it is, then.” He knelt down to look a now livid Edward in the face. “Looks like the crew has unanimously voted you to be Winry’s new assistant. May God have mercy on your poor soul.” He patted Edward on the shoulder twice before rising and ordering Edward released. No one moved. Mustang glared at Havoc. “Mister Havoc, I gave an order!”
Havoc nervously approached Edward and unlocked the heaviest chain that weighed him down. As soon as it was off, Edward sprang to his feet, still shackled, manacled, and tied, but able to move, and with a yell, charged Mustang, who sidestepped the enraged boy and kicked him in the small of the back, collapsing him to the deck once more. He dragged himself back to his feet, but a jerk of the rope around his knee by a man in the crowd behind him sent him back to the ground. Many of the men had drawn their weapons, still somewhat afraid of the boy, but a cry from Alphonse stopped them.
Alphonse stepped forward and knelt beside Edward. A few words were exchanged between the brothers, Edward’s replies beginning as growled curses, but eventually quieting to words before Edward relaxed and Alphonse stood. “May I have the keys?”
Havoc hesitated, and looked to Mustang, who looked to Alphonse.
“He won’t resist, but he won’t let anyone but me unchain him.”
Mustang nodded to Havoc, who tossed the keys to Alphonse. He knelt down and released his brother, who stood, tossed his hair from his face, and tied it back with a string he pulled from his shirt before turning to Mustang. “So which one of you is this bastard I’m supposed to report to?”
“Winry’s below decks, patching up from the cannon fire from your ship.” Hughes replied. “Follow me.”
Edward spared a glance to Mustang, and with a final look to his brother, followed the first mate, glaring at any of the pirates who stood in his way, who quickly moved from his path.
Once they were below, Hughes led Edward through a maze of wood and… pipes? On a ship like this? Edward frowned in confusion before Hughes spoke up. “I’ll warn you now, Winry doesn’t take anything from anyone. Might not take very kindly to your attitude.”
Edward scoffed. “I’m sure I can take anything he can dish out.”
Hughes chuckled softly at Edward’s reply. Edward glared at the first mate’s back.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing, nothing,” Hughes replied, still shaking with silent laughter. “You’ll see when you meet Winry.”
He opened a door and the noise level instantly increased. Edward could tell there had been a leak or two in the ship by the humidity, but since he heard no rushing water, assumed the leaks to be patched. He glanced at a patch in the hull near where he stood. It was obviously done in a hurry, as every patch job at sea was, but the craftsmanship and attention to detail were very nice. That patch wasn’t going to give any time soon. He had to admit that Winry was very good at what he did.
“Winry!” Hughes called. “You down here?”
A gloved hand slipped through a hole in the wood paneling above Hughes’s head and tapped him on the shoulder. He glanced up and grinned. “We found you an assistant.”
The hand withdrew and Winry’s head poked through the hole the hand had came through and looked at Edward, who froze, now understanding why Hughes had laughed at his first response. Wide blue eyes stared at him from under a red bandanna that bound back some very long blond hair, save two locks that framed her face.
Winry was a woman.
She frowned, scrutinizing him. He glared back.
Finally, she shrugged and her head withdrew back up into the ceiling. “Guess he’ll have to do. Put him to work pitching over the patches I made. And tell the captain to stop going after ships with so many cannons! I can’t hold this ship together on patches alone. If he keeps this up, we’re going to have to go into port and get the whole bloody hull replaced!”
“Yes ma’am,” Hughes replied, and with a muttered “good luck” to Edward, took his leave.
Edward sighed. Alphonse had made him promise to at least TRY to work with these pirates, but to work under a woman? He growled to himself before glaring back up at the hole Winry was behind. “So where’s the damn pitch at?”
An annoyed sigh. “Right behind you, you bean.”
Edward froze. “What was that?”
“Winry’s head popped through the hole again and regarded him with annoyance. “Bean. Sprout. Shrimp. Take your pick. I’ve got more.”
Edward snapped. “WHO ARE YOU CALLING A TINY BARNACLE YOU’D LIKE TO SCRAPE OFF THE SHIP!?”
Winry slid back up into the ceiling. “YOU, NOW GET TO WORK!”
A hammer flew through another hole near Edward and hit him square on the back of the head. He picked it back up and threw it back through the hole it came from, and was disappointed to hear only a hollow thump as it only hit the wood of the ship instead of his intended target. Growling more to himself, he grabbed the bucket of pitch and a brush and headed for the patches that weren’t already pitched over, grumbling the whole way and feeling a large bump forming where the hammer had hit him.
“And shut up, will you?” Winry called from where she was. Edward whirled, but clenched his teeth, took a deep breath, and went back to the patch he was working on.
Alphonse was going to get a very thorough complaining out of Edward the next time he saw him.
Terms an' stuff...
Engagement: In the written articles (rules) of many pirate crews, an attack on another ship is commonly referred to as an engagement.
Square-Rigger: Some of the largest ships afloat during the time period this story is supposed to take place, a square-rigger is a huge three-masted ship that is pretty slow, but supports a LOT of firepower and could hold a crew much larger than many other ships. They were usually used by merchants and were common targets for pirate attacks.
Gulley: A common-issue short sword, with a blade about as long as from your elbow to your wrist. Used by pirates and common seamen alike
Boatswain: An officer of sorts. Pirate crews had more than one usually; they rank just below the first mate, and their job is to keep the decks clean and maintain the sails and rigging.
Brace: I'm still a little confused on the term "brace of pistol," but I think it just refers to a loaded pistol in its holdster.
Cutlass: Weapon of choice for the pirate that could get one. A long, single edged and slightly curved sword designed for hacking at an opponent rather than fencing with him.
Boarding Net: Simply a large net made of heavy ropes and weighted down on the edges that pirates often dropped on the crews of ships they attacked to spread confusion.
Throwing a dead captain overboard: When a pirate was captured by the law, they were often hanged by thier neck until they died, then their bodies were hung above the sea in chains and a custom made iron cage they were measured for before their deaths, until their bodies rotted away, a process that usually took two to three years. No pirate ever wanted to suffer such an indignity, and many captains ordered thier crew to throw them overboard if they were ever killed in battle to avoid being hanged in chains.
"...it doesn't seem you're going to sell us.": Pirates often didn't take prisoners, but if they did, they were usually sold off somewhere as slaves.
The "Sweet Trade": Pirate slang for a life of piracy.
Gunner: Thier position on the crew should be fairly obvious, and they were often the most prized members of a pirate crew.
Powder Monkey: Basically, someone who loads, primes, cleans, and pretty much takes care of all the guns and cannons on board. They're about the same rank and status as a cabin boy. Al's got his work cut out for him.
Carpenter: Usually a rather unsung member of the crew, but every crew had one. They had to. Carpenters quite literally kept the ship afloat.
Surgeon: Not every ship had one, but sometimes one was captured and put (sometimes forcefully) to service. They didn't perform very major surgery, but they would remove shrapnel, bullet holes, grapeshot (small cannon shot, basically buck shot for a cannon), etc.
Why Ed assumes Winry to be a man: A rather well-known fact even now was that it was considered bad luck for a woman to be on board a ship, let alone hold a position on one.
Pitch: Basically tar. Used to fill the cracks between the planks the ship is made of.
... what have I gotten myself into??