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Nocturna league (episode.., p.8
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       Nocturna League (Episode 2: The Mist Hour), p.8

           Kell Inkston
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  Chapter 7: The Captain and the Jobber Named Colette Have a Physical Dispute in Which the Victor is not Clearly Decided “Or” The Captain Dies

  The wind is high as a burdened Colette steps along the trail to the highest point of the island. The chills racing about her spine won’t stop, and she feels sick to her stomach. The pain from where she shot herself in the hand is not punishment enough for her foolishness, she feels- but she refuses to turn over and give up. Though the fire in her eyes have burnt its fuel, there’s a persistent spark that continues the blaze. She’s confused. She doesn’t know who’s on whose side, or where the lies end and the truth begins, but she is certain of some things.

  Colette is damn certain she will win the duel with The Captain, get Grancis back and shoot whoever is responsible for this madness. She’s been a toy in the hands of professional players all this time and now it will end. This time, she knows their tricks- she’s certain.

  At the top of the point, The Captain, his rifle holstered around him as if he were dressed for an inspection, peers out over the wide forests of the island. It’s obvious he’s already lost a good deal of sand from the knot she tied into him- he’s drooping a bit.

  “Looking for me?” Colette asks, pulling something from her pockets.

  “No, actually,” he says as he continues to look out. “Just wondering where they could be hiding now that they have all four gauntlets.”

  Colette sighs. “You know about that?” She asks over the gusting breeze.

  “I do indeed. You’ve placed this island in quite the matter. Perhaps you’re not ready to be a captain at all,” he says as he slowly turns from the cliff. Instantly, he’s met with a box of crackers striking his face.

  “Well it’s not like you helped. I don’t even care what you think!” she says as she throws the bar of cheese as well, which also hits The Captain square in the face.

  “More than you know, my oatmeal.”

  “That’s not even a pastry.”

  The Captain shrugs. “Well perhaps I don’t even care what you think,” he says, pointing thoughtfully as he crouches to the ground.

  She steels herself in frustration. “If you knew about the plot, why didn’t you tell me?”

  “Because I had to learn this on my own, and so do you- thinking on things creates valuable self-reflection… Besides, I didn’t know,” he says as he reaches down and picks up the cheese and crackers. He unwraps the packaging and begins stuffing bits of each in between his bandages. “Oh, this is delicious!”

  Colette scowls. “Why are you so cryptic all the time?! You could have been like ‘Oh, I actually already knew the Kalamests were evil and trying to revive this ancient warlock the whole time.’ But noooo! You had to teach me a lesson! Does it ever occur to you that I’ll learn this stuff just by watching you do your work? Do you really have to make me shoot myself in the hand to get the point across?”

  “Yes,” The Captain says, his body making a very strange, inhuman grinding sound as he devours the food. “You see, dearest Miss Ketiere, the best teacher of the captain is often pain more than anything else. While you did complicate this considerably, I still have this completely under my control- and you are under my control as well.”

  “No, Captain. I’m not. I’m myself. I make my own decisions. You can try to manipulate and trick me all you like, but you’ll never have me do something I didn’t intend to. I’m not a crook like you.”

  The Captain laughs. “My dearest Ketiere, manipulating people isn’t necessarily wrong. Rulers, leaders, employers, even captains are manipulators of other humans. The difference in skill is whether or not the people being manipulated notice or mind that they are being controlled.”

  “Then you must be pretty shitty at manipulating people, Salt, ‘cuz I mind a lot.”

  “The minding and noticing parts are interchangeable, but enough of that- you’ll learn it all in time. I’m actually quite confident that you’ll do the right thing, simply because I’m confident in my ability to train upstanding humans like yourself. I think it’s time for you to try and take the reins of the Nocturna from me.”

  Colette’s quiet and slowly places her hand upon her revolver inside her coat. “What do you mean?”

  The Captain nods. “Just as I said. Miss Ketiere. You seem ready to kill me,” The Captain says, taking up his rifle, and then placing it on the ground. “If you kill me, you get my ship, my gun, and of course, my beloved hat. An exciting proposition, no?”

  She squints at her commander. “You’re joking, right? I don’t actually want to kill you. You might be a major saltass, but I’m not just going to kill someone who’s unarmed.”

  The Captain laughs, a very unnerving sound for Colette. “Yes, I imagined such, which is why I prepared a countermeasure.” Colette squints in uncertainty, and The Captain takes that as cue to continue. “Just two meters below us, is an unconscious Miss Vereyrty. And I’m going to try to kill you,” he says, placing the cheese and crackers aside on a rock.

  Colette smirks with a gaze that oozes sarcasm. “Yeah, cool. Don’t lie to me, Captain.”

  “And after I kill you, I’m going to force myself upon your best friend- and she’ll be helpless to resist,” The Captain says in a completely serious way.

  A distant memory flashes in the back of Colette’s mind, before she joined The Captain’s crew, before she knew how to fight, of that one time Grancis and herself were cornered in an alleyway by a group of drunk men, right when The Captain appeared. There’s a part of her that knows he’s lying, but the rest of her is crying out for action. “That’s not even remotely funny, Captain,” she says, hair raising to their ends as she tightly grips the handle of her gun as if it were Grancis.

  He leans his head forward in the most thug-like way Colette’s seen him. “Who the hell’s joking, ship hand?”

  “You’re… You’re nuts. You can’t even physically do that. You’re just a bunch of stupid damn sand!”

  The Captain draws out a knife, and runs it across his bandaged face. “You think I was talking about sex? Oh no- I just like slicing people up.”

  Her entirety’s shaking now as she draws her gun. “You… you wouldn’t!”

  “Why else would I take up two useless girls on my ship like you two?”

  “T-… to make us better! To teach us!”

  The Captain laughs. “You idiot. I adore seeing people crushed. I saw the sparks in your eyes, the innocence. I just knew I had to save you both and then take it away. To nurture it for a time, and once I saw the childhood in your eyes being revealed to me, the trust, I’d crush it completely. I’m going to kill you like one captain to another, but little Grancis, I’m going to take my time with her. I heard her cry out in pain once in the kitchen when a pot fell on her foot, I could hardly keep myself from bursting in there and vivisecting her while telling her that everything was going to be okay. I wouldn’t have told you, and I was going to cook her up and serve her to you, only to have you connect the dots later that night.”

  A few seconds pass as Colette struggles to stand her ground. “You… you bastard!”

  A grin forms under The Captain’s bandages. “Oh, yes. This is going to be good!” He says as he cracks his knuckles. Colette feels the brain-etched fear overcome her, hearing those black sand knuckles somehow crack, but she can’t be his pawn. She’s not going to let him do as he pleases to Grancis. Colette aims her gun at the approaching Captain, and shoots him square in the head. It tugs his full wrapping of bandages as the hole spews black sand, every grain blowing away on the high, direction-changing wind.

  “Is that all, my little fruit? Is that all you can do to save poor little Grancis?”
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