Iago sputtered and spit as he slowly swam his way to the docks. His hands were of little help and the hooks weren’t made for swimming. He reached up with one hook, burying it into the planks and tried to orient himself to pull his body out of the drink when a rope looped under the hook and began to lift him to the dock.
Once sitting on the timbers, the man holding the rope dropped it and stepped aside, revealing a tall, slender woman in a black coat and red sash sitting on a crate.
“I’m Vow. Sorry about all of that up there.” she said nodding toward the Pole. “I wasn’t real clear on the whole pomp and circumstances that came along with the bounty.”
“You fucking bitch!” he said as he scrambled to his feet. “I can’t get away from you fucking quims always wanting to fuck with me. First it was that Waverider bitch and now you.”
Vow held up her hand as she stood, a slight smile crossing her face.
“Please, don’t embarrass yourself any more tonight, Iago. Your crew and your conduct have done plenty of that. I’m not here to ridicule you more. It is much worse than that. When my crew was on your ship, in your cabin, we saw the map. We saw the equipment.” she said nodding lightly as she stepped towards Iago. " We saw the girl."
Iago bared his teeth and snarled a bit.
“She’s mine. I bought her. I bought her fair and square. The flag is part of the game, that wasn’t the first time it was taken and it won’t be the last, but she is mine. I saved for years to buy that one.” he hissed.
“Oh. You bought her fairly and squarely. Oh well in that case, all is forgiven. Right fellas?” she laughed to her crew. “Jerrick, you were a slave, right? It’s all fine as long as he bought her fairish and squarish, right”
The man to her right snorted and spat on the Iago’s seasoaked shirt.
“Huh, I guess I don’t think Jerrick forgives you.” she said with a caricaturish look of confusion.
“Look, Iago. I’m not in the game of ruining lives or killing weak and crippled old men. So I’m going to make you a deal. I’m going to offer you the best deal you’ve heard today. I will let you live your life without ever having to see me again. You can live your life away from all of this hatred and embarrassment.” she said as she leaned against a stack of hogsheads.
“Here are my conditions: First, you never set foot on a boat again. Learn to fish, learn to farm, learn to shovel shit. I don’t much care what you do as long as it doesn’t include being a sailor. Second, you never buy another slave. Period. Third, your “retirement plan”, and everything in it, belongs to me and my friends, and you will never speak of it in front of ANYONE ELSE for all of your days."
She paused and observed his sneering face growing angrier.
“Lastly, you never tell anyone that you made this deal, just that you decided that your seafaring days were done. In exchange, you get this.” she said holding the Ensign Bounty, obviously a touch lighter. “And you get to see the next sunrise and as many as you can manage after that.”
Tossing the bag’s tie string over one of his hooks, she stepped forward. She leaned forward and pressed the tip of her dirk against his other wrist.
“The alternative is that you get to try to convince Jerrick to let you live.” she said as she put her mouth aside his ear.
“His former owner cut his tongue out, so he isn’t much of a conversationalist.”
Iago Brinetooth sighed and his look of anger faded from his face. Resignation took its place as Vow stepped back, snapping her heels together and extending her free hand.
“So, do we have a Deal?”
A feint glow bathed the end of the dock for a moment and faded. Moments later, Vow emerged from behind the stacks of barrels and crates. She stopped and handed a small handful of shells to Jerrick with a nod.
“Have a round on me. And after that round, I need you all to go back to the ship and secure the standard. These fuckers are ruthless.” she laughed as she headed back to the Pole of the West.