In a secure location in the English countryside stands the MI13 academy. Its large campus provides training to its agents in various fields and disciplines, such as the sciences or operations. Its American equivalent is more blunt and brutal, killing effectively and efficiently yet without remorse. Morality is seen in shades of black and white, with no questions that are uncomfortable to answer ever posed.
"Deviances," a leading scientist at MI13 said clearly, clicking to advance to the next slide in her presentation. The auditorium was silent aside from her voice and a thousand students quickly typing notes onto their various devices. "First discovered in 1719, deviances were often explained as gifts from the Christian God. No studies, however, have made any such connection between these gifts and divine powers."
"It was not until last week that we came closer to understanding where these extraordinary abilities originate from. The shipwreck of the Bellona, a vessel used for piracy, was found off the coast of Puerto Rico. While this is United States territory, we were fortunate enough to have been granted permission to examine the wreck."
"Inside the ship, we found something remarkable. Glass shards were reconstructed by our forensics team, forming the shape of a flask," Abney paused, as if expecting a stunned gasp from the students. "Contact with the glass shards has lead to the development of extreme deviances by members of our team: Roscoe Connor, Dae-Ho Vong, and Kaseem Siddiqui. It is believed that the flask contained some sort of chemical substance that interacts with human biology in such a way as to induce terrific and terrifying abilities."
"What sort of abilities?" a student in the front asked, her hand high as to gain attention.
"Abilities that, back in 1719, would bring armies to their knees," Abney responded. "The powers of gods."
The Port of Tortuga: April 4th, 1719 - 12:49 PM Local Time
Tortuga. Named for its turtle like appearance by the Spanish, this island is a pirate's idea of paradise. The port itself may be dirty and foul, but such are the conditions preferred by those who wish to escape the notice of the East India Company and the various European navies prowling the seven seas. It has been less than six months since Blackbeard himself was killed by the Royal Navy, and yet, perhaps the English are not the largest threat facing the Caribbean.
Rumors have been flying around the most boisterous pirate ports of special dispensations--of pardons in return for services. Captain Benjamin Hornigold, Blackbeard's old captain, took up the bargain. More and more pirates are clamoring for pardons, claiming that they can see a change in the winds and that the age of piracy is coming to an end.
The atmosphere in the Twelve Daggers Tavern, however, didn't reflect such somber revelations. Men and women alike, intoxicated on whatever liquor was to be found, danced and screamed and shouted and fought all at once. Stools were thrown, glasses smashed, loves lost, and battles won. In short, it was complete and utter chaos. The barkeep, of course, was hardly phased, even chuckling and grinning as a pair of young lads fell out the door and into the street, screaming and cursing in Spanish.
One man, seated in the back corner of the establishment, seemed oblivious to the world around him. With a cane resting gently against his hand, he tapped his fingers almost menacingly against the table. There was a certain weariness to his eyes as he regarded his companion. A young man, his eyes covered by cloth bandages, and his entire body shaking.
"Please sir, ye be havin' t' help me," the boy pleaded, setting his hands down on the table. His hands were stained from what appeared to be soot, yet his companion showed him no sympathy. "Mr. Alucard, you're a physician, aren't ye? You can save me."
"Lad, there isn't anything that can help you," Mr. Alucard sighed, shaking his head. "I'm a man of science, nothing more."
"I canna live like this, sir. I canna be seein'..." the boy choked out, reaching up for his bandages. He tapped his fingers delicately against them, as if to remind Mr. Alucard of his plight. But Mr. Alucard rose from his chair, the wood legs scrapping against the ground, as the boy cried out in terror, latching onto Mr. Alucard's hand.
"There's nothing that can be done," Mr. Alucard repeated, looking down at the boy with pity. "Go home, lad. You'll be joining Captain Swale soon enough."
Location: Main Deck of the Bellona - Port of Tortuga Docks
To say that the Bellona had a skeleton crew was an understatement. Harlianne had only two others with her on the ship at the moment, but to be fair, she had only recently acquired the vessel. It hadn't ever left the docks of Tortuga under her command, and with only Anna and Sirena to help her, it certainly wasn't going to any time soon. She had met with Alucard just two days prior about the job. Things were going too slowly for her taste.
"Anna! Sirena!" Harlianne called out, taking a swig of rum before setting the bottle aside. She was plenty brave, but even Harlianne wouldn't turn down liquid courage. "We need ter find a crew, i'n it? Anyone will do, right, as long as they ain't wiv the bloomin' Company." It wasn't uncommon for pirates to recruit out of Tortuga, making their way through the pubs to find a few able bodies. Some of the spots would be harder to fill--jobs like physician. Those tended to require more extreme measures to find.
"And Sirena," Harlianne added, "spot if yor French mate 'as any more information on the bleedin' flask worth nicking."
She pushed her hair out of her face, but it quickly fell back in front. There were some days when she wanted nothing more than to chop it all off, but it was good protection from the sun. Smirking at her crew of two, she couldn't help but feel confident they'd have a full ship by the end of the day. And then, then they could hoist the colors and sail for the Devil's Triangle. The job was simple enough, with all the idiots before dying because they were just that--idiots.
As to whether she had any intention of returning the flask to Alucard once they found it, well, that was anyone's guess.
Location: Outside the King's Arm - Port of Tortuga
The King's Arm wasn't named for a king, as the name would suggest, but for a pirate. It was as rowdy as any pub on the island, never a place for a quiet drink. Though Tortuga itself was never incredibly quiet. The only place where silence reigned was in the jungle, where most were too afraid to tread. Stories were often swapped about the ghosts of the people native to the island running through the terrain, killing any that crossed their path.
But Aravis, of course, was not at the tavern to drink. She played slightly with her necklace, a Christian cross, as she kept her wits about her and a wary eye on all those who passed her. A thief by trade, it was a poor reflection on her skills if she was to allow herself to be robbed. It'd be a cruel and twisted irony.
"Chalo, Elissa. Aap let hai," Aravis muttered in her native Hindi, releasing the necklace from her grasp. Her friend's last ship had been ransacked and raided, with the survivors hardly making it to Tortuga. She had made arrangements to meet up with Elissa as soon as the woman was able to. Whenever the two of them met up, it was always here, just outside of the King's Arm. It was a point of tradition.
"Bah! Filthy halfbreed!" a drunken man sneered, as he brushed past Aravis and fell into the tavern. She rolled her eyes and then shot him a bit of a glare, her hand on the handle of her cutlass. She didn't enjoy violence, but she hated the blatant racism even more. Still, the drunk had left her line of sight and she relaxed slightly, hoping to see Elissa come into view shortly enough.
She was getting tired of waiting.
Location: Twelve Daggers Tavern - Port of Tortuga
Édouard had had a brilliant morning so far. He woke up in bed with a rather delightful fair maiden, all to the jealousy of his mates. His fiancée had sent word that she was stuck in Port Royal for another few days, as her father had taken ill. And for the young Frenchman, that was another positive. More time for him to mess around and relax, after all.
Unbeknownst to him, his crew had held a vote as to whether or not to hold a mutiny against him. They narrowly decided against it, but to him, there was never a question of their loyalty. They were his crew. How could they not love him? And what, pray tell, was there not to love about Édouard Gautier Riviere, future leader of La Fraternité du Sang?
"Bonjour, tout le monde!" Édouard cried out in the tavern, striking a bit of a pose with his arms held out wide. There was a stupidly smug grin on his face as he sat down, one of his men bringing over a pint and a hunk of bread. The perfect lunch. They'd be setting sail that day, he figured, as soon as his men finished gathering the supplies and enjoying the pleasures that Tortuga had to offer.
"Le pouvoir des dieux," Édouard whispered to himself, taking a sip from the pint and imagining that it was the cursed flask he had been sent to collect. It was at least an interesting task, compared to the things his parents usually tried to put him up to. They never seemed to hold his attention. But power that would boggle the mind and the senses? That he could understand.
"Édouard, regarde!" his best mate chuckled, sitting down next to him and motioning to a man whose eyes were concealed by bandages. "L'erreur de la nature!"
Édouard took another swig from his pint before looking over and laughing proudly. "Oui, Félix, c'est un monstre...Monstre! Retirez les bandages!" Édouard goaded, attempting to get the poor man to remove the bandages. The man, unfortunately for Édouard, did not even look in his direction.
"Quel dommage," Félix muttered, before taking a sip of his own pint.