Eye of the Needle

Part IV

Lara looked up to see Mary rush down from the crow's nest. 
"I can see it, captain. We're nearing Botany Bay." The sailor informed her as she dropped down onto the deck. 
"Excellent." Lara nodded. "We'll anchor off near the end of the peninsula. Signal the English."
"Aye aye:" Mary saluted then rushed off, ordering some of the other sailors to join her. 

Lara walked to the bough, staring ahead of her. In the distance she could faintly make out the land, the shimmer of daylight accentuating the edges. They'd made good time, reaching the Bay in only two days and nights. Lara let her eyes drift across the horizon for another moment, then walked back towards the stern, taking the helm from one of the other sailors. 

"OK, listen up." Kennard walked into the full room with confident strides, then settled at the head of the table. "I've just send a messenger towards Port Jackson to demand they surrender and return to London at once." 
Matthew snorted. "Yeah right, like that's gonna happen."
"Probably not." The admiral agreed, settling back in his chair. "But this is a official mission by the Britsh empire against some of it's citizens, so we have to stick to the rules, Mr. Matthew."
Lara's second in command nodded "Of course."
"But as I don't expect any co-operation on their part either, we have to prepare for battle. William, I want you to take 3 ships under your command and head for the mainland as soon as we get near the Jackson Harbour. I want you to get on land and find the former governor, Mr. Ward, and arrest him. If he's captured the city will be ours. Understood?"
"Yes, sir." The older officer nodded in consent. 
"Very well. Christopher, I want you to accompany miss Dean and her ship. You'll sail in front of the three ships led by William and take care of any ships that might try to launch an attack at them, so they have clear passage towards land." Kennard let his eyes trail down to meet Lara's who nodded calmly. 
"Good. The rest of you will split into two groups. One will attack the fortress island in the middle of the harbour, the other will take out any remaining ships and cover the other groups from any attacks from behind." Nods from around the table. "OK. Dismissed."
The lieutenants left the room , filing out one by one. 

"Miss Dean!"
Lara turned around, letting Matthew and Mary pass her, to see the young Christopher run up to her. "Yes?"
"I just wanted to say…" He pulled in a breath and straightened. "It'll be an honour to fight beside you, miss."
Dark eyebrows lifted. "An honour?" She chuckled. "I don't mean to be offensive or anything, but as an English officer you are supposed to hate my guts…"
"No, no…" The young lieutenant hastily informed her. "I don't." He leaned closer. "Just between you and me, I hate this convict deportation business. The only reason I am where I am is because my mother is ill and I need money to treat her. There aren't that many good jobs in England these days, you see…." He straightened, then gave her a polite nod. "Well, I just wanted to have that said. Good luck tomorrow, captain. May God watch over you."
"Oh, he doesn't have to. I watch over myself just fine." Lara grinned. "But I appreciate the sentiment, Mr. Christopher. Good luck to you and your men as well." She friendly inclined her head towards him, then turned and walked towards the small rope ladder that was dangling down into a small rowboat.

"What did he want?" Mary asked, not so friendly, as she pulled on the oars and set the boat into motion. 
"To sing my praise and wish us well."
Matthew laughed. "Excuse me? Sing your what?"
Lara smiled. "He said he was honoured to fight beside us and all that… Well, at least we won't have 2 enemy's to fight tomorrow, that's good." 
"Hmm" Matthew nodded in agreement, watching the movement on the deck of their ship quietly. "Do you want me to make the normal preparations?"
"Yes." Lara informed him quietly, lying back and looking up at the now bright blue sky. "I want everybody to be well prepared for this. It's gonna be a lot bigger than we've been in before. I want as many cannon's operational as you can manage. I want to do some training this afternoon, get everybody fighting as well as they can…"
"Gotcha." Matthew nodded, storing this in his memory. "I'll get everything done. If we hurry we can have the ship prepared by midday."
"Good…" Lara nodded pensively. "I need everybody to get lots of rest today."
"You gonna get some sleep?" Matthew asked as their rowboat neared the hull of their ship and a rope ladder was lowered down to them. 
"Yeah, just for a moment." Lara yawned. "It's been a long night… But I'll be up around midday, so we can do those drills and double check everything. 
Matthew nodded before he pulled himself up the rope ladder. On deck he waited for Lara to climb onboard. "I'll get everything done for you. You just get some rest."
"Thanks Matt" Lara smiled at him, then walked towards the door to her cabin, pushing it open. 

She chuckled as she spotted the foodplate standing in the centre of her desk. She circled her table and settled in her chair, picking up the small note lying beside the plate. `Brekfast.´ it said, in shaky letters. Lara smiled, then picked up a fork and stuck it into a piece of potato. "We have to work on your spelling, Catherine."
"Why, what's wrong with it?" Cathy asked, as she pushed open the door, walking into the room. 
"You forgot an 'a'." 
"There's another 'a' in breakfast?" The girl asked in disbelief as she rummaged between some of her things, then pulled out a ribbon and tied her hair back with it. 
"Yup, there is." Lara informed her cheerfully, swallowing down another bit of food. 
"Why do they say 'e' but spell 'a' ? Really, Lara, that's stupid, you should change that."
The captain chuckled. "Unfortunately I'm not really in a position to do that, Catherine. But if I ever am, I'll make them spell breakfast with just an 'e', I promise."
"Good." Cathy said, leaning her hands on the back of the chair across from Lara's. "So what did Mr Steward say?"
"That we should prepare for battle." Lara stated simply, then pointed a fork at her. "Remember rule number two!"
"Cooks stay out of fights, I know, I know." Cathy sighed, rolling her eyes. "Is there.. Is there anything I need to do, before then?"
Lara shook her head. "Not really. Give 'm food, maybe help Matthew a bit if he wants you to." She finished the last bit of her breakfast, then stood and stretched, suppressing another yawn. "I'm gonna get some sleep until this afternoon."
"I'll go and take care of lunch in that case." Cathy stated, heading towards the door. "Sleep well."
"Thanks. And thanks for breakfast." Lara added, seating herself on her bed and pulling off her boots.
"You're welcome." Cathy smiled back at her, then exited, closing the door behind her.

Cathy watched interestedly as one of the younger men carried a large cannonball acros deck and placed it on top of a pyramid shaped pile. "Aren't those heavy?" 
"Quite." Ben stated, wiping the sweat off his forehead as he straightened. "Try lifting one."
"Won't they explode?" Cathy asked, watching the metal balls suspiciously. 
The sailor chuckled. "No way, here..:" He picked the piece of ammunition up and handed it to Catherine who took it, then staggered back, trying to regain her balance. "Holy mother of…" She handed the ball back to Ben, who chuckled and placed it back where it belonged. "That really is heavy. How do you shoot such a heavy thing so far?"
Ben shrugged. "Gunpowder. And please don't ask how that works miss, cause I have no idea. I just light it and it goes 'bang'."
Cathy chuckled. "Sorry, I didn't mean to bug you… I just like knowing things."
"That's orright" Ben smiled at her, then he looked up and his smile grew wider. "G'day capt'n"
"Hi Ben." Lara smiled at him as she sauntered over. "Is she bugging you?"
Ben shook his head. "No, captain, not at all." He turned to Cathy and gave her a polite nod. "See you later miss." He said politely, before walking off. 

Catherine smiled after him. "Nice boy."
"Ben used to be a shoe polisher in London. Some guy lost his watch and blamed it on him." Lara sated, watching the boy walk across deck. 
"That's horrible." Cathy shook her head. "Poor Ben."
"He's happy where he is now, so it turned out OK in the end." Lara shrugged, then turned towards Catherine. "Are you busy with something?"
"That depends on why you're asking?" Cathy replied with a grin. 
"I need you to go down to the hull, where the supplies are stored and get some of the blankets from there and put them in my room."
"Why's that?" Cathy asked curiously.
"That's because we only have one bed and two people who want to sleep in it." Lara stated, giving the girl a look. "So I'll need to make an extra bed for me to sleep in."
"For me to sleep in." Catherine corrected, getting a look from Lara, but ignoring it. "Don't argue with me. You need to fight tomorrow and all that, so you get the bed… Cook's orders."
Lara rolled her eyes at the girl, but didn't argue any further. "All right, all right… you just go and get those blankets."
"Aye aye." Cathy grinned, then trotted off towards the door leading into the hull. 

"OK guys." Lara raised her voice. "Oh, and Mary." She grinned at the woman who crossed her arms and gave the captain a look. "We're gonna practise a bit for tomorrow. All of you are up against me. If you manage to hit me with the edge of your sabre or whatever other weapon you might have, you win. If I disarm you, you're out of the game. Oh, and guns are not allowed, of course." She grinned at her crew. "Got it?"
"You bet." Matthew grinned, unsheathing his sabre. "Bring it on, oh great Torment of the Southern Seas."
Lara chuckled, then pushed off and grabbed onto one of the ropes angling down from the mast, climbing up easily. "Give it your best shot." She grinned down, watching Matthew run forward, and grabbing onto the rope himself, starting to climb up after her. She chuckled, now seeing members of her crew climbing up the ropes on her left.

Catherine tried to find her way up the stairs as she balanced the pile of blankets on her outstretched arms. Clumsily she fumbled at the doorhandle, managing to push it down without dropping her blankets and then pushing open the door with her foot. She stepped up on deck, managed to close the door behind her, then…. got knocked off her feet by a running sailor. "Ouch!" She harshly fell back and was dropped on her butt ungracefully, the blankets scattering around her "What the…!" Her words trailed off as she spotted movement high above.

Lara was nearly near the crow's nest now and Matthew and a dozen other's were in pursuit, closing in on her fast. "Come on Matt You're not getting old, are you?" She yelled down at her second in command, who shot her a angry look, then pulled himself closer towards her. 
"You just wait and see. You've got nowhere to run to Lara." A few more feet and he reached out of the wooden platform and pulled himself up. "Ha, gotcha!"
Lara gave him a charming smile, then wiggled her fingers at him before hopping off the platform. Matthew watched her fall several feet before she grabbed onto a rope, swung off towards the stern, let go, flipped twice, then landed neatly on deck, looking back to flash a smile at him. "God, I hate it when she does that." Matthew muttered with a sigh, then he let himself slide off the platform again, starting his way down. 

"Wow." Cathy watched the captain fly off in amazement. "I really have to get her to show me how she does that…" She muttered, watching Mary rush up the steps towards Lara and strike out at her, but the sabre was easily blocked. With a sigh Cathy got up and started to gather her blankets again. She straightened, then continued on her way towards Lara's room, carefully staying out of the way of racing sailors. But she won't have time to teach me, will she…? Cathy sighed, pulling open the door to the captain's quarters and walking in, placing the blanket's on the captain's bed and sitting down. Lara wouldn't stay in Sydney, Cathy realised that all too well. She'd though about asking the captain to let her come with her… But that was stupid, really, wasn't it…? They'd only known each other for 11 days or so… And besides, she hated the sea, right? What would she be doing on board a ship then? She'd just get in the way… 

Cathy shook her head at herself, rolling out the blankets and placed them beside Lara's bed. She was thinking ahead of things again… First they should just manage to survive the oncoming battle… Then after that.. who knew what would happen. She straightened the blankets one last time, then stood and exited the room, heading towards the galley. Lara cartwheeled past, flashing a grin at her before running off towards the bough, followed by a few dozen of yelling sailors and a heavily breathing Matthew. 
Cathy chuckled in spite of herself, watching the captain jump around the ship cheerfully for another moment, before she ducked into the galley and returned to her work.

"How can you do what you do?"
Lara opened her eyes and sat up on her bed, looking at the girl, sitting behind her desk. "Excuse me?"
"Well…" Cathy started, biting her lip as she concentrated on writing her next letter. "Today you were jumping and fighting and flying… You had a few dozen people running after you trying to catch you and they didn't even lay a hand on you… How can you do what you do?"
Lara considered this a moment, then shrugged. "I don't know… I just do things because I have to…" She fell back on the bed again, placing her hands behind her head. "My daddy taught me to climb and I was always hanging around the docks and on the ship he served on when he was home." She smiled to the ceiling, closing her eyes and seeing her home again, the boats, her father smiling at her. "And one day we were in a fight and Mary was up at the stern fighting and was about to get her head cut off…" Another shrug. "The only way to get to her in time was jump, so I did… Came pretty naturally actually…"
Cathy looked up and stared at the captain for a moment. "Just like that?"
The girl shook her head. "That's pretty amazing though… I mean, if I tried jumping from the crow's nest I'd be in serious trouble."
Lara chuckled, sitting up again. "You are always in serious trouble."
Cathy narrowed her eyes at the captain and pointed the pencil she was writing with at her. "You keep implying that I'm a troublemaker."
"Well, you are..." Lara grinned back, swinging her legs out of bed and standing. "But that's OK. I like you that way. Keeps me busy."
Cathy sighed and rolled her eyes at the captain, who just grinned back deviously as she stepped closer. 
"How's the writing going?" She asked, leaning her hands on the table
"Ugh." Cathy sighed as she turned back to her piece of paper. "This is so hard Lara, but it seems so easy when you do it…"
"It just takes lots of practice." Lara informed her, looking at the alphabet the girl had written. "Well, that isn't too bad at all." The captain then stated, impressed. 
"Really?" Cathy asked incredulously. "I thought the 'k' was a bit off..."
Lara turned and gave her a look. "Catherine, this is writing, not painting… it doesn't have to be perfect, just readable…"
"Oh…" Cathy muttered, looking at her letters before looking back up into blue eyes. "So their OK?"
"Near to perfect." Lara said simply, straightening. "You've got a knack for this…Maybe you were a scribe in a past life, huh?"
"Past life?" Cathy frowned at her. 
Lara chuckled, shaking her head. "Nevermind, just something I picked up in India…"
"You were in India?" Cathy asked incredulously. 
"Yeah, just once… We sometimes get spices for some of the colonies when there aren't any convict ships coming in." Lara stated, pulling a chair closer and sitting down herself, before starting to rummage in one of her deskdrawers. "It's a very strange country, different customs and people, but nice…" She pulled out another sheet of paper and placed it on the desk. "Try copying this."
Cathy peered at the page with interest. "What does it say?"
"It's just a bunch of short words. I thought this might be easier to start on then all those big words from my books."
The girl let her eyes glance down the list, then pointed. "Fish." She informed the captain proudly.
Lara chuckled, patting her shoulder. "Excellent. You know, you're a pretty fast learner…"
"Thank you." Cathy smiled up at her, then continued on with her task. 
Lara watched her for a moment, then looked up as a knock sounded. "Come in."

Kennard stepped in, giving the captain a small bow. "Good evening." Then he spotted Catherine and bowed for her as well. "My lady."
Cathy smiled back at him. "Mr Steward."
"Oh, just Kennard, please." He waved her off, giving her a charming smile before returned his attention to the captain. "I wanted to have a word with you."
Lara regarded him for a moment, then nodded. "Sure." She then stated, motioning him in. 
"I 'd better leave you alone." Cathy said, standing up. 
"No, please.." Kennard waved his hand at her. "Please stay. I don't want to keep you from your work. This will only take a moment."
"My work really isn't that important." Cathy chuckled, then she cast a glance at Lara, who just nodded and motioned her back down, informing her she could stick around. 
"So." The captain then said, sitting on the edge of her desk. "What do you wanna talk about?"
"I just came here to wish you well tomorrow and inform you that I've spoken with my lieutenants and warned them they should not dare lay a hand on you or your crew. I know you were worried about this."
"Worried's a big word, but I was concerned, yes." Lara admitted, watching the young admiral. "But I trust you as being a man of your word, Kennard."
"I am." The admiral stated simply. "I also wanted to ask if there is anything else you need. More ammunition, more weapons?" 
Lara considered this for a moment then shook her head. "I think we've got everything we need, butyou'll have to check with my weapon's master on that one. Mary counts guns, I just use 'm."
Kennard chuckled. "Very well, I'll have a word with her then." He stood, bowing politely to both women. "Thanks for your time, Miss Dean. And thank you for your company miss…" He gave Cathy an inquiring look. 
She smiled back at him "Just Catherine."
"Miss Catherine, it was a pleasure meeting you."
"The pleasure was all mine." Catherine smiled at him, then watched him turn and walk out the room. 

"Suck up." Lara muttered as the door closed. 
Cathy chuckled. "It's always good to suck up to people in high places, Lara. It comes in handy some times…"
"Hmm…" Lara muttered. "Probably true… I'm just used to cutting guys like him into pieces… Old habits die hard, I guess…"
"You are so bad…" Cathy sighed, giving the taller woman a look. 
Lara just grinned back at her. "Thank you." 
Cathy tossed up her hands. "Nevermind." She finished another letter, then yawned. "Guess it's time for bed." She managed, suppressing another yawn. "Or better said, time for a pile of blankets."
"We can still switch, you know? If you…"
"Lara, don't be absurd. Until a couple of days ago I was lucky if I even had a blanket. I can manage." Catherine informed the captain sternly, pulling on a sleepshirt before crawling under one of her blankets. 
Lara did the same, blowing out the candle, before turning to lie on her side. 
There was a moment of silence, then a soft voice drifted up from the edge of the bed. "Hey Lara?"
"Are you scared, about tomorrow?"
Lara balanced her head on a hand and considered this for a moment. "I'm putting my crew in a risky situation. I'm scared someone will die." 
Cathy bit her lip, staring up at the patterns the waves were drawing on the wooden ceiling. "So am I."
Lara shook her head and rolled closer, so her head was near the edge of the bed. "Things will work out all right. Somehow, they always do."
Cathy nodded at the darkness. "OK."
Lara pulled her pillow closer, hen pulled the covers tighter around herself, closing her eyes. "Good night, Catherine."
"Good night." Cathy whispered back, staring up at the ceiling quietly, listening to the soft hissing of the waves mixing with the sound of Lara's rhythmic breathing.

Sunlight peeked through the window and stirred Lara awake. The captain yawned, then pushed herself upright, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
"Hey, Ca…" Her sentence stopped as she spotted the empty bed on the floor beside her. "Hmm…" Lara raised an eyebrow at the girl's absence, and dragged herself out of bed. She stripped out of her sleepshirt and dressed, then
walked to the glass cabinet hanging off the far wall and opened it, puling out her sabre and strapping it across her back. She tucked a pistol on the inside of her belt. 
A soft knock on the door sounded and Cathy stepped in, gazing at her weaponry for a moment, before managing a smile. "Hi."
"You're up early…" Lara commented after returning the smile, as she checked a second weapon for ammunition.
"Well, I wanted to get you all a healthy breakfast and all…" Catherine shrugged, placing the plate on the captain's table. "Here…"
"Thanks." Lara smiled, walking over to her desk and fishing off a slice of warm white bread, taking a bite. "Hmmm…" She swallowed happily. "You're a saint."
Cathy chuckled. "Wouldn't go that far…"
Lara smiled at her, then frowned. "You look a little tired. You sleep OK?" 
Cathy shrugged. "I… I didn't get that much sleep…" 
"Why didn't you say anything? If you were uncomfortable, I could've…"
"No, no…" Cathy hastily interrupted. "It wasn't the bed, I just… I couldn't sleep…" She shrugged. "I used to have trouble with that all the time back home. It's OK…"
Lara gave her another look, then shrugged. "You can get some sleep this afternoon."
"Oh right, like I'm gonna sleep in the middle of a big sea battle." Cathy muttered and shook her head at the captain.
Lara chuckled, then straightened and stretched. "Well, I'd better start making preparations." Cathy nodded. "OK… Anything I can do?"
Lara considered this for a moment. There really wasn't anything the girl could help her with… Not really… She should tell her to just relax and stay out of the way… Yeah… "Sure." Lara mentally shook her head at herself. "You can… uhm… help me with the sails… or something… C'mon…"
Catherine beamed a smile up at her. "Really? Can we go up to the crow's nest again?"
"You gonna teach me to jump ropes?"
"Then could you…"
Cathy scowled as she followed the captain up on deck. "You're no fun."

Matthew cheerfully whistled his way down the stairs. "Yo Mary?"
"Hmmm?" A voice sounded. "What ya want?"
"Captain needs to know if those cannon's are ready yet. We've just set sail."
Mary shook her head at the second in command. "I told Lara I'd be ready in time, so I'll be ready. Now scram and leave me be…"
"You're in an off mood." Matt muttered as he took a seat on one of the barrels, watching Mary load up the one next to him. "What's been up with you these last few days, huh?"
Mary gave him a look, then returned to her work. "Nothing."
"Yeah right." Matthew chuckled. "Come on, speak up… you know you wanna tell me…"
Mary rolled her eyes at him, then sighed. "It's that girl. She gets on my nerves…"
"Catherine?" Matt looked at her in disbelief. "What don't you like about her…? She's a sweet kid, I think…"
"See, I shouldn't have told you…." Mary muttered, turning away from him and moving on to the next cannon. "I hate to remind you, but we used to agree that she was a bad influence on the captain."
"Yeah…" Matt waved her off. "But that was before…" 
"Before what?" Brown eyes looked up at him. "Before she became some saint and rescued us all? Come on, Matt, tell me your not that naïve…"
"Well, I guess I am." Matthew tossed up his hands, then stood and walked closer. "She's a good kid, Mary."
"She's got all of you wrapped around her little finger, that's for sure…"
Mary muttered, shaking her head at him. "The captain could have died saving her neck all those times Matt. She gets into way too much trouble… I don't trust her…"
"She's brought around a change… To Lara, to this whole ship…" Matthew gazed at her. "Now I think that's a change for the better,…"
Mary lifted her hands in defence. "Fine. If that's what you wanna believe…"
She leaned in closer, dropping her voice. "But I'm not trusting her, Matt, and if she gets one step too close to the captain in the battle…" She pointed her gun at him and pulled the trigger, the mechanism making a soft
click. "I'm gonna make sure she has no chance to hurt Lara in any way ever again…"

"Capt'n!" Ben scrambled down from the crow's nest hastily. "The Port's in sight, capt'n! Ships up ahead!"
Lara nodded. "All right people, you heard the boy, let's get ready for some action." The deck was full of activity as everyone went to their posts hastily.
"Catherine!" Lara motioned the girl closer. "C'mon." She waited for the girl to finish her conversation with Richard and John, then she walked into her room, followed by Cathy. "Now, you stay in my room, OK? And don't come out until someone comes for you. Remember,.."
"...rule number two, yes, I know all ready…" Cathy finished for her, then fell silent, staring at her feet for a moment. "Be careful…" Green eyes peeked up at the captain. "Please…?"
Lara smiled. "Don't you worry about me. A couple of stupid ships won't get the great Torment of the Southern seas down." She joked, the touched the girl's shoulder. "You just keep yourself out of trouble, OK?"
Catherine nodded softly. "OK."
Lara gave her a smile, then patted her shoulder and turned, stepping out of the room, closing the door behind her.

"All right guys." Lara grinned at her crew, all armed and ready for battle. "This is our last chance to kick some English butt. I suggest you all enjoy it. We ready?" Cheers went up around her and she gave a nod to Ben, who was
standing on the stern, now waving to the English ships behind them that they were ready. Lara took a few steps up the stairs and walked towards her skipper. "Tommy, try to drive those ships away from the coast, so our friends back there can pass… But stay away from those cannons, all right?"
"Gotcha cap… You just go kick them sailors around a bit, I'll keep this bunch of planks moving for ya…"
Lara chuckled, then patted him on the shoulder. "Watch yourself, Tommy."
"You just be careful cap, them men don't like you much…" The skipper stated, nodding towards the English ships in the distance. 
"The feeling's mutual." Lara grinned over her shoulder as she made her way down the stairs. "Mary! Are those cannon's ready?"
"Aye captain…" Mary nodded.
"Perfect…" The captain unsheathed her sabre in a smooth motion, watching as they sailed into the Sydney Harbour. "When ever you're ready…"
Mary grinned and immediately reached down, turning one of the cannon's towards the hull of the first ship, lighting the fuse. The nodded to the men beside her to follow her example.

With a loud explosion the first cannon shot back, launching the cannonball forward, followed by another, and another. 

The governor's ships reacted instantly, returning fire as they tried to avoid shots fired in their direction. One ship failed miserably and had a huge hole blasted into it's side. Lara ran up the stairs to the bough, two steps at a time, searching the deck of the first ship heading towards them. It took a few moments, but then she spotted the captain and she lifted her pistol, closing an eye and aiming. Moments later the captain doubled over and fell down on the deck. "Mary! Blast a hole in that first one… nice and low…."
"You got it capt'n..." Mary stated cheerfully, aiming the cannon for the ship's hull.
"Tom…" Lara bounded up the stairs, casting a glance at the ships behind her. "Just sail past that one, head for the next one and try to push it to the left. That way we can let our ships get to shore."
"If we get too close they can board us…" The skipper informed her, getting a raised eyebrow in reply. "You got it." He shrugged, turning the wheel and heading for the second ship.

The captain walked back down the stairs calmly, watching as the ships came closer and closer. "Ready, Matt?"
"You betcha…" Her second in command flexed his hands. "Loving every minute of this…"
Lara chuckled. "I don't think were gonna be cut out for the quiet life, Matt… What are we gonna do when this is over, huh?"
Matthew grinned. "We'll go looking for trouble elsewhere… There's lots out there, and if there's anybody who can find it, it'll be you…"
"You think?" The captain lifted her gun, aiming quickly and blasting the first three sailors that attempted to swing on board off the deck. "Really?"
Matthew chuckled. "You're so bad…"
Lara just grinned wickedly, twisting her sabre in her hand. "You ain't seen nothing yet…"

Cathy paced across the room. This sucked…. She sighed. Outside gunfire was sounding and metal was clashing and she was in here doing nothing… She let out a breath and leaned her palms on the edge of Lara's table. She could see the great English ships through the window, moving up and circle around them, each of them going in their own direction. She spotted Kennard on the bough of one, pointing in several directions as his ship sailed past.

A loud crash shook the ship and Cathy held on to the table, finding her balance. With a sigh she turned back… She wasn't supposed to go outside… but Lara hadn't ordered her not to look… Right? Right… She stepped closer to the door, pulling the handle down and peering out.

The battle was raging full out now. Another ship had pulled up on the other side and more soldiers were flooding in, racing towards her. Lara lashed out and pushed her sabre into her first attacker's stomach, then turned and
slashed a hole into the next one. A look up showed one of her crew in trouble and she reached down between parries, pulling a dagger from her boot and launching it at the sailor's attacker, seeing it thump in the soldier's
chest before returning her attention fully to her own problems. 

Cathy searched the commotion below restlessly, taking a deep breath in relief as she spotted Lara, kicking her boot into some officer's face. The captain moved in a blur of motion. It seemed that she could sense her attackers before she could even see them, always managing to parry a blow or duck just in time. If this hadn't been a big gory battle, the movements would be close to… poetic… She'd never actually read poetry of course, but she was sure that if she ever would, it would be something like this… 

She reached over and grabbed onto a piece of paper, picking up a pencil from the wooden desk. She bit her lip in concentration. It was hard to draw moving things, especially if they were going this fast… Cathy concentrating
on the lines, the boat, the dozen heads moving forward, some guy holding a gun and pointing it at…

Her heart stopped, then doubled it's pace. A look at Lara's face showed the captain had no idea, that… Without a second though she dropped her work and pushed the door open, racing forward towards the captain. "Lara!"

Mary heard the sudden movement, elbowing a soldier in the face before looking up. Catherine was running forward, straight towards Lara. I knew it… Mary growled, then reached for her pistol, reloading it quickly, then pointing it at the girl's back…

But someone beat her to it, the girl's shoulder jerking back harshly as she jumped in front of the captain. "What the…?" Mary's eyes searched the deck hastily, finding the gunman reloading his weapon. "You're dead." Mary
informed him, before turning her pistol and aiming at him. 

Lara's head shot up as she heard the shot, then the thud as a body fell to the ground in front of her. Her eyes tracked to the still figure at her feet. "God, no… Catherine…" She dropped down beside the girl, slamming her
fist backwards as another soldier tried to sneak up behind her. "Catherine… Hey..." She turned the girl so she came to lie on her back. 
Wide open green eyes blinked back at her. "Ouch…" Cathy swallowed, pushing back the searing pain that raced through her shoulder. "That hurt…"
"Of course it hurts, you idiot! You jumped in front of a bullet…" Lara sighed in frustration, before kicking back a booted foot and swiping the legs out of under another onrusher. "I told you to stay put!"
"You're welcome..." Cathy muttered, touching her own shoulder, feeling a warm fluid cover her fingertips.
Lara glanced around, seeing more and more soldiers rush towards her. "Stick with me OK? Keep pressure on this…" She took Cathy's hands and pressed them against the girl's shoulder. "I'm gonna get you out of this… Just…" Movement behind her and she jumped back to her feet, turning, intent on slamming the next person she saw into tomorrow.

She reconsidered however when she saw Mary move in front of her, kicking harshly against an unprepared kneecap. "Mary!" She stepped up beside the woman, her eyes flicking across the deck. "Get her out of here…"
The brunette's face turned to doubt for a moment, then she nodded, giving Lara a pat on the shoulder before kneeling down and wrapping an arm around Cathy's shoulders. "C'mon kid. We gotta get you outta here…"

Cathy bit her lip to try to push back the pain as she managed to make her way back to Lara's room, supported by Mary. She wobbled over to the bed, lying back in relief. "Remind me not to do that again…" She muttered, getting a chuckle out of Mary.
"Taking a bullet is generally not a pleasant experience, no." The brunette stated, sorting through some of Lara's stuff and finally pulling out some bandages. "I'm a lousy healer, but I'll just put some pressure on this so you don't bleed to death."
"That would be nice…" Cathy clenched her teeth as she pushed herself up slightly, loosening the top buttons on her shirt and pulling the fabric off her shoulder to make it easier for Mary to wrap the bandage around.
Mary regarded the wound for a moment, looking at the back of the girl's shoulder. "You were lucky. Bullet went straight through…"
"That's a good thing?" Cathy asked, insecure about whether she liked having a hole in her body. 
"Well, this means we don't have to prod and pull to get the bullet out of ya, so I'd say that's pretty good, yeah…" The brunette stated, rolling some bandages tightly around the girl's shoulder.
Cathy flinched.
The girl shook her head. "Nah, it's OK. I know this has to be nice and tight, so…"
"That's not what I meant…" Mary interrupted, glancing up at her before continuing her work. "About distrusting you, and all… You know, if that soldier guy hadn't shot you first, I would've…"
Green eyes peered up at her. "Really?"
"You were running at my captain. I'd go to great lengths to protect Lara. I owe her big time…" Mary stated simply. "But I was wrong …" 
"Apology accepted" Cathy smiled at the brunette as she looked up. "Thanks for helping me in here…"
"Anytime." Mary managed a smile back, then continued her work, ripping the last bit of bandage in half and tying the ends together to secure the wrapping. "Lara'll do a better job of it, but this'll just have to do for now…"
Cathy flexed her shoulder experimentally, wincing as she did so. "How long is this gonna hurt?"
Mary chuckled. "A while. It'll hurt less with every day though…" 
"Hmmm." Cathy mumbled, displeased at the prospect. 
"Here…" Mary handed the girl a wet cloth. "You can clean the blood off you a bit." The woman's head cocked, then she turned and tucked Lara's healing kit away again. "Battle's over."
Cathy was quiet, listening to the silence out side. Some shots were still being fired in the distance, but on the deck all seemed quiet.

The door launched open and Lara rushed in. "What did you think you were doing?!"
Mary rolled her eyes at the captain behind Lara's back, getting a chuckle from Cathy.
The captain turned and looked at her, but Mary simply stared back innocently. Lara sighed. "Tom's getting the boat to shore. Get off board and help Kennard's men round up the governor's soldiers.
"Gotcha." Mary grinned, then exited.

Lara, watched her leave, then seated herself on the bed beside Cathy, fluffing her pillow's a bit. "You're an idiot."
Cathy chuckled. "Normally, people say thank you after someone saves their life, you know?"
Lara rolled her eyes and sighed. "Thank you. But don't you ever do it again, OK? I had my brother die on my behalf and I don't want anybody to ever do that again." The captain muttered, taking the wet cloth from Cathy's hands and starting to clean splatters of blood from her face, focusing all her attention on the work.
Cathy watched her affectionately. "I couldn't just let this guy shoot you Lara, no way…" A smile. "And besides, you saved me, what..? Three times now? I thought it was about time I returned the favour."
"Hmm..." Lara frowned, irritated to not be able to find a snappy retort to that and sighing as she realised the girl had won again.
Cathy chuckled, leaning over and ruffling the captain's hair, getting an outraged stare in return.
"What was that for?"
"Just because I can." Cathy smiled at her. "I'm sorry if I reminded you of your brother though… I didn't mean to bring back painful memories or…"
Lara shook her head. "It didn't really remind me of Mark, it just..." Lara closed her eyes, letting out a breath. "I was afraid you'd die…" Blue eyes peeked up at her. "I don't want you to die…."
"I should hope not…" Catherine smiled not breaking eyecontact, then reached out with her good arm and touched the captain's cheek. "Lara, I…"

With a thud the door swayed open and a fancily dressed, chubby, sweating man, rushed into the room, hastily closing the door behind him. He turned, then spotted them, his face creasing into a wicked smile as he lifted a
pistol and pointed it at Lara. "Well well, if it isn't my favourite Torment…"
"Ward." Lara's eyes narrowed as she straightened to her full height, stepping forward and blocking Catherine's body. "It's over, man, give it up…" She informed the former governor.
"Like Hell!" Ward snapped back. "No, no, no…" He smiled. "You, dear Curse, have just turned into a blessing." He laughed, then motioned her forward with his free hand. "C'mon. Move it. Or the girl ends up having an untimely death…"
Lara spared a glance for Cathy. Green eyes stared back at and the girl shook her head. "Lara, don't…"
"Shut it, bitch!" Ward snapped, pointing the gun at her. 
Lara jumped in between, eyes going an icy blue as they regarded him. "Leave her out of this."
"It's you I want. All you have to do is co-operate…" He hissed, then stepped back. "Move."
"All right…" Lara stated slowly, watching him from the corner of her eye as she stepped towards the door.
"No, Lara, you can't…"
Blue eyes turned and met hers. "Hush. Stay." The captain simply informed her, then stepped outside.
Ward cast another glance into her direction, seemingly in doubt for a moment, before her followed Lara outside.

A few seconds of silence, then a loud bang echoed across the harbour, fading slowly.

Cathy pushed herself up, ignoring the pain and running towards the door, jerking it open. She sucked in a deep breath as she saw Lara dusting of her hands, watching the now unconscious Ward lying helplessly on the wooden
Blue eyes tracked up en met green. "I thought I told you to stay put?" 
Cathy ignored her and rushed closer, wrapping her good arm around the captain's waist and burying her face in her shoulder. "Don't ever scare me like that again."
Lara smiled down at her. "Sorry. .." She patted the girl's back. "Come on, let's get you wrapped up, then take this piece of dirt to Kennard."

Kennard stepped into the governor's office, glancing at the extravagant display of glass and gold decorations. A large wooden desk stood in the centre of the room, a comfortable chair behind it. Kennard circled the desk, then seated himself, closing his eyes as his body relaxed in cushioned comfort. They'd done it… And with a limited amount of casualties too… Kennard smiled to himself. Good day, definitely a nice day… Would've been
nicer if his men would catch the ex-Governor, but that would be done in time, so…

Kennard glanced up to see one of his lieutenant standing in the dooropening. "Yes?"
"Lara Dean's here to see you, sir."
"Well, send her in." Kennard stated, frowning at the lieutenant's confused behaviour.
The lieutenant nodded, then stepped aside.

Moments later a limp body was thumped on his carpet. "Got you a little present." Lara stated, crossing her arms
Kennard stood, circling the desk and walking up to the body, nudging it with the tip of his boot to turn him on his back. "Ward?"
"Jerkenstein wanted to use me and my ship to go a sailing. I objected."
Kennard's smile grew. "Nice." He glanced into blue eyes. "He's still alive, I presume?"
"Quite. I realised he'd be more valuable that way…"
The Admiral chuckled. "You'll get your reward, miss Dean, don't you worry. I 'll order my men to have it send to your ship."
"Perfect." Lara nodded, then straightened. "I assume then that our business is done and my presence no longer needed?"
Kennard nodded. "You're a free woman, miss Dean and so is your friend." He smiled at Catherine, who was standing behind the captain. "You're free to
leave. However, I'd like to invite you and your crew to a party tonight, to celebrate our victory." He straightened, placing his hands behind his back. "I realise I owe you a great debt. You have made this victory much easier. I
would really appreciate it if you were able to come." 
Lara considered the offer for a moment. She hated parties, especially those pretentious English ones, but… But the crew could use a break, right? And they'd get some free food and drink, and… and it would give her an excuse to
spend a few more moments in Sydney… The captain nodded. "Thanks. I'm sure my crew will appreciate some shore leave. We'll be there…"
"Perfect." Kennard smiled, sparing a smile for Catherine.. "I'll look forward to seeing you both there."
Lara nodded, then turned, walking out of the office, hastily followed by a bouncing Catherine?

"A party! That's so great! You know the last time I went to a party was…." Cathy stopped her babbling and considered this. "Actually, I never went to a party before." She looked up at Lara as they paced along the Sydney streets. "What are you supposed to wear and do and stuff?"
"You're asking me?" Lara chuckled. "Catherine, I've spend five years non stop on a ship. We had some parties, but I don't think this is gonna be anything like that…" She glanced at her ship, where the men were busy
loading and unloading, then turned to the girl. "Tell you what, I have to go help the guys out,…" She dug in her pocket, then placed some coins in her palm and folded the girl's fingers over them. "…but you go and find yourself
a room to freshen up and whatever you need for the party, OK?" 
Cathy blinked up at her, then glanced at the pounds and shillings in her hand. "But…"
"Don't argue. It's your cut for helping me capture Ward."
Cathy raised an eyebrow at her. "Lara, you captured Ward single handedly…"
"Yes, but if you hadn't been shot, I wouldn't have stayed on the ship and I
wouldn't have run into him."
Lara shook her head. "No buts. You just go, have some fun. Take someone with you though, I don't want you roaming around here wounded without an escort…" The captain then warned, pointing a finger at her.
Catherine gazed back at her. "Can't you come?"
The captain managed a smile. "I'd love to, but I can't, I have to go help. You just go on, I'll see you at the party, OK?"
"OK." The girl nodded, then trotted off towards John and Richard, who were standing talking a little way off.

"So what do you think?"
Richard looked down. "Bout this town?"
Cathy nodded. "Yeah."
The older man shrugged. " 's Okay. …"
"You think?"
"Yeah. Unfortunately capitals eventually turn into dirty big city's with loads of unemployment. " He glanced into a small alleyway. "But this place ain't too bad just yet… Might have some fun here… Sure beats London."
"I'll second that." John muttered. "So, what do ya think about yer new home, Cat?"
Cathy watched her feet kick up some dust and shrugged. "'s Okay."
"Don't seem too excited." John muttered.
Cathy glanced up at him. "It's just…" A shake of the blond head. "I don't know… It's just not where I wanna be…"
Richard raised an eyebrow. "I don't know Cat, but I reckon you're loads better off here than back home. I mean, you'll miss your family probably, but…"
"Oh, I don't wanna go back to London…" Cathy interrupted him.
John tossed up his hands. "Well, where…?" A moment of silence. "Oh… right…" He touched the girl's shoulder. "Cathy, I hate to remind you of this, but yer not quite sailing material, ya know what I mean?"
"I know…" Catherine sighed. "And it stupid, but…" She glanced up at John. "I 've felt useful during this last week, at least part of the time and…" A shake of the blond head. "Well, it doesn't really matter, does it?" She
managed a smile for both men. "So, what do we need for a party, huh?" She then tried, attempting to lighten the mood.
"Don't know." Richard shrugged, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Never been to one before. Ya really did pick the wrong people to go shopping with, ya know?"
Cathy chuckled. "Nah. You two are good company, that's all that matters… And besides, for all you've done for me, I have to buy you two a drink or something."
"Ya don't need to get us nothing." John said, shaking his head at her. "We didn't do nothing you wouldn't have done for us."
"John, I've never had a penny before and now I've got so much money I don't even know what to do with it… She grinned up at him. "Humour me, will ya?"
Both men chuckled. "Well, if ya insist… " John grinned widely, getting a smile from Cathy as he steered them toward the nearest pub.

Lara let her eyes slide across the room as she entered. It was a large ballroom, music being produced by a small orchestra in the far corner. A few pairs were dancing in the centre of the room and tables stood on the sides.
"This looks just like your kinda party, Lara."
The captain rolled her eyes at her second in command. "Shut it, Matt."
Matthew chuckled. "Come on, let's find you a chair way in the back of the room so you can glare at everybody."
Lara growled at him, but followed nevertheless.

They found a large round table and seated themselves, most of her crew pulling up a chair beside them. Matthew walked off to get them all some refreshments.
"Ya know, this really is quite bizarre." Tom stated, looking around the room. "We just did what we've been doing for five blasted years, which is beat the pulp out of some governor's soldiers. Before we never got nothing for it but trouble, and now all of a sudden we're heroes and stuck at one of them fancy parties… What's up with that, huh?"
Lara chuckled. "We legally beat people up today, Tommy, that's the difference."
"Right…" The skipper frowned. "That makes sense… Not." Tom leaned back with a sigh. "Ya know, I'm glad to be a sailor and just be able to get away from all this political crap … It's way beyond me…"
The captain chuckled. "You're better off for it Tommy, really you are…" She reached out and took one of the glasses Matthew was balancing on a tray. "Thanks Matt."
"No worries…" Matthew stated, then raised his glass. "Here's to freedom". 
"Freedom!" Was the shouted reply before everybody took a gulp of their beer.
Tom followed suit. "And here's to the best capt'n any sailor could hope for."
"Lara!" And another gulp went down as Lara rolled her eyes at her crew. 
Matthew wiped some foam from his moustache, then grinned as the doors opened and three more people entered the room. "And there's to the girl who changed our lives for the better."

Lara eyes trailed up to watch Catherine step closer. The girl had found herself a plain black dress, reaching all the way to the ground, the white sling her right arm was resting in standing out sharply against the dark material. She smiled as green eyes met hers and motioned the girl over. 
"To Catherine." Matthew stated, raising his glass as she got closer. "The woman who nearly starved on a convict ship, picked a fight with Lara, got washed off board in the middle of a storm, travelled the rugged lands of Australia, got face to face with a squadron of the governor's men, jumped in front of a bullet and STILL managed to stay alive."
Laughs went up around the table. Cathy seated herself, then stuck her tongue out at Matthew, who chuckled in response, then raised his glass even higher. "To Catherine."
"Catherine!" Was the yelled response before glasses were emptied.
Cathy blushed slightly, hiding her face in a mug and taking a sip as conversations started to buzz around the table.
"Don't drink too much of that." A voice beside her burred. "If I have to carry you out of here you're never gonna live that down."
Cathy chuckled. "No, I don't think I would."
Lara grinned back at her, then touched her shoulder, fingering a bit of the black fabric. "Nice."
"Thanks." The girl smiled, before quickly hiding her face in her mug again.
"How's your shoulder doing?"
"What sh…? Oh yeah, no, it's OK." Cathy babbled. "It still hurts a bit though. Mary said it was gonna take a while to heal."
Lara nodded, leaning back in her chair. "Probably." She took a sip of her drink, letting her eyes roam across the room, gazes dropping hastily as she met them. "Bullets are nasty thinks. That'll teach you to stay out of the
way next time."
Cathy smiled. "Maybe… But I think misfortune does have some way of tracking me down Lara…" The girl shook her head. "I mean, Matthew just summed it up quite well, didn't he? I've gotten into more trouble in a week then a normal person gets into in a lifetime."
Lara grinned. "Can't argue with that…"
"On the other hand, I did have the best time I've ever had in my life this last week, so I guess that sort of compensates for the bad luck, right?"
Lara watched the quiet profile silently for a moment. "Right." She smiled as green eyes tracked up and met hers. "We… we make a pretty good team, you and I…"
"Yeah, we do." Cathy smiled back, not breaking eyecontact.
Lara's eyes were so blue… just like the ocean on a bright sunny day, when the light was sparkling off it. She'd never seen eyes quite like that before… And yet… Yet she felt like she'd known them all her life… Longer than that even…

A throat cleared behind her and her head shot back, to find Kennard standing by her side. "Oh, sorry, Mr. Steward… Kennard, I mean… I didn't see you…" 
"Obviously." He gave her a polite nod. "It's good to see you again, Miss Catherine. You look beautiful."
"Thank you." The girl managed softly, dropping her eyes.
"I was hoping you would accompany me on the dancefloor…"
Green eyes darted up. "You mean to dance?"
Kennard frowned. "Well, that's usually what you do on a dancefloor, yes, but if you want me to get you a chair so you can sit in the middle of the room, that can be arranged."
Cathy chuckled. "That's not what I mean, but… I've never actually danced before… like that… I mean…"
"Oh, right I see…" Kennard nodded. "That's OK. I can teach you. It's really quite simple…" He extended his hand towards her, raising his eyebrow.
Cathy blinked at him, then looked back over her shoulder at Lara. The captain managed a smile, waving her hand at the girl. "Go, I'll just start some boring chat with Matthew about sails or something while you're gone."
The girl smiled at her, then turned back, taking the Admiral's hand and standing.

Lara watched them walk to the centre of the room. What's that Lara? Her mind shook it's head at her. Jealousy? Come on… Her eyes followed Catherine's first tentative steps across the dancefloor. You should be
happy for her. He'll be good for her… She'll have a decent life. A good future… 

Wood scratched as Matthew pulled up a chair beside her, placing the back so it was facing forward before sitting down and leaning his arms on the backrest. "He's pretty hung up on her…"
"Apparently…" Lara commented, before looking up at him. "That's good."
"Is it?" Matthew raised an eyebrow at her.
Lara shrugged. "He's OK, for an English admiral… He's got money, friends in high places… He'll take care of her…"
"I guess…" Matthew nodded, reaching over and picking up his glass, draining the last bit of liquid from it. "I'll miss her though…"
"Yeah…" Lara let her eyes track back to the dancefloor, where Cathy was quickly getting the hang of the steps and the rhythm. "Yeah… me too…"

"Hey…" Catherine sagged back in her chair. 
Lara smiled at her. "Did you have fun?"
Cathy let out a breath, taking a sip of the water she'd brought with her, before nodding. "Yeah. I think I like dancing. It's not that hard, if you get the hang of it…"
"Probably not…" Lara agreed calmly, letting her eyes track through the room. 
"Yeah, I…" The girl yawned, blinking her eyes to keep them from fogging over.
A dark eyebrow raised. "Tired?"
A nod.
"How long has it been since you got some sleep?"
Cathy looked up at her and smiled sheepishly. "48 hours?"
Lara rolled her eyes, then stood. "Come on. It's bedtime for little blond troublemakers."
"Hey!" Another yawn. "I resent that…"
Lara chuckled, extending her hand down to the girl and pulling her to her feet. "Don't start complaining. If I have to, I can just toss you over my shoulder and walk out of here…"
Blond eyebrows frowned. "You wouldn't…"
Lara raised an eyebrow and smirked.
"Ugh…" Cathy shook her head, then decided to make her way towards the exit on her own two feet.

The streets were quiet, except for the fading noises from the party. The air was pleasantly cold and refreshing and Cathy took a deep breath, clearing her mind.
"Where are you staying?" Lara's low voice drifted in.
"Lord Nelson's." Cathy answered, pointing towards the pub's lights, dimly shining in the distance.
"That's a good place." Lara stated, kicking against a pebble, which skirted down the street. "Been there a few times."
"I liked it. The owner is very friendly."
Silence fell and lasted for several moments as they walked along beside each other. Cathy glared up at the dark face above her, hidden in shadows. "It's nice out tonight." She commented, to break the silence more than anything else.
"Yeah." Lara nodded, letting her eyes gaze at the water she could just see at the end of the street, glittering in the moonlight.
Another moment of silence fell, the only sound the echoing of their footsteps on the cobble roads. Cathy took a breath. "Kennard offered me a job."
Lara bit her lip, then pushed a smile onto her face and looked down at Catherine. "That's great." She stated, managing to put a hint of enthusiasm in her reply.
"Yeah…" Cathy nodded.
Another moment filled with echoing paces. "We… We'll probably set sail tomorrow…."
Cathy glanced up at her, then back down. "Oh…"
"Our job here is done, you know… We have to move on and all…" Lara explained faintly, fumbling with the edge of her sleeve.
"I know…" Cathy nodded. "I guess I was just hoping… Well…" She shrugged it off. "When will you leave? I'll come and wave you off…"
"Real early tomorrow morning. And you don't have to come... I mean, you need to get your sleep and all…"
The girl nodded. "Probably…" She looked up at the sign dangling from the wall of the building they were standing next to, before taking in a deep breath and turning to face the captain. "I guess… I guess this is it then…"
Lara nodded, glancing down. "I guess it is…" She looked up, meeting quiet green eyes, and more on instinct than anything else, she pulled Cathy into a hug, carefully avoiding her injured shoulder. "Thanks." She leaned her chin
on the girl's head, closing her eyes. "For changing me."
Cathy buried her head into the captain's shoulder. "Thanks for saving my life a zillion times." Came the muffled reply.
Lara smiled. "Anytime."
A sob shook the girl's body and Lara leaned back to study the young face. "Hey… Don't… Don't cry…" She managed, wiping a tear off the girl's cheek with the back of her hand.
"Sorry…" Cathy sniffled. "I just…" She gazed up into blue eyes. "I'll miss you…"
Lara took a breath. "I'll miss you too…" She managed a smile as she cleaned another tear off the girl's face.
Cathy closed her eyes, then patted the captain's side and reluctantly stepped back a pace. "Come see me when you get back to Sydney?"
Lara smiled. "You bet." She squeezed Cathy's shoulder gently. "Fare well, Catherine." And with that she straightened and turned, starting to walk down the street.
Cathy watched her go, fading into the shadows. "Bye." She managed in a tiny voice, as the darkness finally swallowed the receding figure.

"Sails are checked, ropes are sturdy." Matthew stepped up the stairs towards the stern. "We're ready when you are…"
Lara's eyes tracked from the shore to Matthew's face. "Right…" Her hands clenched on the railing. "Let's get on our way then…"
She pushed off from the side, wanting to move down the stairs, but a hand against her shoulder stopped her. Blue eyes turned and met deep brown ones.
"Lara…" Her second in command took a breath. "We… if you want, we could stick around for a bit longer, you know… just to…"
"No." The captain interrupted him, shaking her head. "It's…" She managed a smile, looking up at Matthew. "This is over, Matt. We've got new adventures to find." A breath. "It's time to make some new beginnings."
Matthew nodded quietly. "All right." He patted her shoulder, then trotted down the stairs. "OK people. Let's get this ship moving. Mary! Help me with these sails…"

Lara stood quietly, watching the commotion below. The anchor was lifted, the sails raised. A gush of air shifted past her and got caught in the sails, pushing the ship forward calmly. Beside her Tom turned the wheel sharply,
steering his way out of Sydney Cove. "Any particular way you wanna be heading Cap?"
Lara looked at him. "Any way will do, Tommy." She stated, patting him on the shoulder as she passed by and resumed her spot on the back of the stern, looking out over the town lying behind them.

The sun was rising, casting a rich golden layer of light over the houses and the dock. Soft sparkles skittered across the harbour. But they faded from view as her eyes fell on a single figure, standing silently on the empty
dockside. Even though the distance was too great and the form was no more then an outline in the distance, she simply knew… She stared back quietly, watching the figure as long as she could, until finally the harbour in the
distance disappeared from view all together, the empty horizon sadly reflecting the emptiness of her soul. She closed her eyes, tucking her memories away deep down inside of her, before taking a deep breath and looking ahead, wide open seas greeting her in the early dawn.

The End

<Annie does little bard dance> I finished a story! I actually FINISHED a story! OK, so the end really sucks... <chuckle> I'm quite sorry I had to split them up. I had a really tough time at the end there sticking to my storyline... But, unfortunately, I need this ending to link up with my sequel. And the good thing about goodbye's is you can have great reunion scenes <G>

Return to Main Page