Cunning Jack has always been an exceptional boy. He has always been extremely smart for his age, whatever it may be, and he’s always possessed a hunger for more knowledge. He also has always been extremely light-fingered. Once, as a toddler, he managed to somehow steal every last cent his own father, the infamous Bloody Benjamin, had on his person. This is saying something, as Bloody Ben was one of the most respected and feared pirates in the Spiral, able to rob an entire Monquistan galleon with one hand tied behind his back. But old Ben had a soft side as well, and was an enormously caring father. When he found out his son had took the money, he just chuckled and congratulated Jack on a job well done. “You will make a fine pirate one day, lad!” he would often say.
Bloody Ben was not Jack’s only family. His mother, Perilous Pearl, was a very infamous pirate of her own account. Some even say that, between the couple, she was the more dangerous individual. Jack also had an identical twin, Cowan, who was a lot more bookish than his brother. Do not be fooled, though. The two brothers were as close as they could possibly be, and managed to get into plenty of trouble together.
One day, Jack’s parents came home to Skull Island, saying they had found something. Cowan and Jack, then aged 4, wanted to know what they had found, but couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Their parents were too busy preparing for a long journey. Eventually, Pearl came over to her sons.
“Mummy ‘n Daddy have to go away for a while, boys. Listen – Cowan, our first mate, Lucky Jack – yes, Jack, he has your name – he’s going to take you to my mum’s for a while. Jack, we are taking you to our friend’s in Scrimshaw – Mum can’t take you both right now. Remember, Mummy ‘n Daddy love you, and we’ll be back before you know it.”
As soon as the last words slipped out of her mouth, she was gone, along with Ben. A tall dog pirate with a kindly glint in his eyes came over to them.
“We need to leave, Cowan,” he said in a faint Marleybone accent, “You’ll be back here before you know it.”
Jack watched the dog start walking away. Cowan turned to Jack and opened his mouth as if to say something, but no words came out. Cowan quickly shut his mouth and turned about, running to catch up to Lucky Jack.
Neither of them knew it, but that would be the last time they would ever see their parents alive, nor did they know that they wouldn’t see each other for a long time…
Part 1: Captured
Cunning Jack awoke to the sound of footsteps. He was immediately on his feet, reaching for his swords – but they weren’t there. What the…? As he forced his muscles to relax, he took a look around, and wasn’t all that surprised to find himself in the brig of a ship. Of course I am, he thought, I never leave my swords out of reach – unless I’m forced to. From the looks of it, he was in an Armada ship. But how did I get here?
Closing his eyes, Jack tried to recall his last memories. He remembered a crowd of people watching, the clash of sword on sword, his old friend Michael lying in the dirt… and the white mask of an Armada officer. That’s right, Jack realized, I was dueling him, he insulted Michael’s honor or something. He must have pulled a sparkshooter on me – almost no one can best me in a fair duel.
Suddenly, the footsteps stopped. Jack opened his eyes to see an Armada soldier standing off to the side of his cell. Thinking quickly, he decided he needed a little more information about where he was.
“Hey clockwork! You have any food around here?”
The soldier stopped what he was doing and looked up at Jack.
“Pris-o-ners are not allowed to speak unless spoken to.”
“Well, you’re speaking to me now, so I‘m free to talk now, from the looks of it.”
“Wise-cracks are not going to get you anywhere, Pirate. Cease your vocal communication before I punish you severely.”
Jack chuckled. “You’ve already got me locked up, presumably on your way to Valencia, where you’re gonna execute me anyways. What more could you do to me?”
From the cell across from Jack, there was a low chuckle. The Armada goon straightened up, pulled out his sparkshooter, and shot Jack.
“OW! Be more careful where you point that thing, would ya?”
“Silence, Pirate. We shall finish passing through Skull Island Skyway tomorrow, and we will arrive at Valencia soon afterwards, where, yes, you and the other pris-o-nor will be executed.” And with that, the clockwork turned on his heels and marched away.
After a short silence, the prisoner in the other cell muttered, “Perhaps that was not the smartest thing to do, young pirate.”
Jack smiled. “On the contrary, now I know where we are. Now I can plan our escape.”
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