This was not how her triumphant return was supposed to go. When The Woman With Two Names set out for the Old World with a ticking biological clock hanging over her head like an ax and the intent to return with an army, she hadn't expected her return home to be marred by violent storms. Long stretches of boredom? Seemed likely. Battles against rival seadogs? Sure. Yellow fever and scurvy? With her near-comically weak constitution it would almost be a miracle if she didn't catch something. But storms had somehow slipped her mind. it was stupid of her, of course. Unlike her crew-mates Kiááyo had grown up taking cover from shards of hail and freezing gales churned into a frenzy of whips so cold they burned by some hateful god or spirit of ice. She should have been expecting this.
Maybe it was because she had been so focused on what was new she had neglected to think of her past. There was likely a message in that, a moral to take to heart and keep hold of for the remainder of her likely short life. But the call for all hands left no time or room for such heady self-reflection. The Cotsch had swaddled herself in the heavy bearskin ostensibly earmarked for special occasions but serving as little more than a way to preserve body heat and ran out from the cramped and musty antechamber to the underworld that was the below decks and out into a violent blizzard that coated ship in snow and shrouded the sea in white. It was cold enough freeze the blood in her body, gales strong enough to blast her from the ship into the bottomless depths of the ocean. It was so inhospitable that Nature itself could easily kill a person in minutes and hide their frozen corpse under a snowdrift to be found later by some hungry animal.
It was home.
"Welcome to the fucking New World! she shouted over the ice storm at Charlotte in response to to her indignation. "This happens here." The native-born woman wore a sardonic smile as she spoke, laying her accent on just a bit thicker than it was naturally to play up her persona as the rough tribeswoman. The thunder of cannons jostled her bones, shaking back into the mind of the sickly little girl who watched her father practice with his guns. How wondrous they seemed! Barrels of cast iron loaded powder and shot, capable of shredding ships and tearing men in half. They were the future, her people could not cling on to their swords and bows and expect to last against the invaders.
The enemy's store of powder went up in a violent maelstrom of flaming wood and smoking steel, a glorious celebration of the power of modern weaponry. The Royal crewmen were now nothing more than sacrificial lambs slaughtered at the alter of Ca'tek, her people's god of war and bloodshed. A good victory, but a short lived one.A dry chuckle had barely escaped her lips when the ship was reduced to timbers by a unyielding iceberg, an impenetrable wall placed there by Yiama, mother of the sea. Clearly she was upset with them for one reason or another. Maybe Kiááyo was being punished for abandoning her homeland and people, and her crew were simply caught in the crossfire.
The reason didn't matter to her, what mattered was getting herself back below deck before she could be thrown from the deck. The markswoman managed to throw her body down the stairs in the darkness, managing to find her bunk in the dim light of the lanterns and holding on for dear life. The timbers shrieked in agony and cracked, icy water spilling into the hold to douse the sources of light. Kiááyo was left in pitch blackness, all noise drowned out by the roar of the storm and the sound of shattering wood as she fought to keep from from being torn from her post and slammed into a wall. Fate had a cruel sense of humor it seemed. Her final moments weren't going to be spent cough up blackened blood as her body succumbed to the poison within, she would wondering whether she would freeze or drown first. The violent motions of the crumbling ship spun her thoughts into a sickening blur, Kiááyo resigning herself to her fate. Her mission had failed before it had even really begun.
So it was a pleasant surprise when she came to and realized that she wasn't dead yet. The half-breed was splayed out on a piece of flooring that had been torn loose in front of her bunk, gripping the now freed bed so tightly her knuckles were white. Considering she couldn't feel any head injury (her body was a different story, the bruises left from being slammed around the sinking ship would hurt for a while.)she hadn’t been knocked unconscious, just blacked out sometime during the madness and terror of being caught on a sinking ship. "Back to work then." she muttered, checking her weapons before standing up and taking stock of her surroundings. The ship was sinking, their food and wealth with it. They had lost crew and their means of transportation and were currently under attack. But at least her bags weren't lost sticking out of a snowdrift a hundred yards or so away, so they still had her Medicines. Her weapons were all on her and she had targets in range.
Things were better than they had any right to be.
One of her fellow survivors was calling for help, Kiááyo sprinting as fast as her legs could carry her through the snow, slipping and sliding all the way. She managed to fumble her way into cover next to Horus and Enzio, checking priming her musket and propping it on the rock. "And this is why we use guns" she explained in greeting, lining up her shot as enemy bullets ricocheted off the snow covered boulder and buried themselves in the piles around them. The trained shooter took a breath and held it, barrel hovering in front of a pirate hunter on the ridge. A pull of the trigger and her musket spat a cloud of smoke and ball of lead, the bullet tearing through skin bone and organs alike in it's path through the hunter's ribs and through his lungs. One down and more to go.
She didn't bother reloading, letting the long arm rest on the rocks and drawing her twin turnover pistols as began to line up new targets. Eight more bullets, eight more kills.