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TOC FIles 3: Time and Tide

Title: 3. Time and Tide
Series: The TOC Files
Word Count 8160
Summary Alan's plans to create a safe-house fall apart when Camerons finds him
Author's NoteTwo time periods in this one. Oh, and written way before "Pirates of the Caribbean"!



III Time and Tide

Time and tide wait for no man
Proverb

After bidding the Hunter household good-bye, Alan Kelly walked down the Harley Street of Victorian London and disappeared around the corner. "Dematerialised" would have been the technical term since he no longer existed in that time, but travelled the space-time continuum. Kelly, a retired captain from the 23rd century, had begun his time-travelling by accident, and, because of a murder, he could not go back. What he needed, he decided, was a safehouse, a time and place to go in order to relax when things got bad. He chose the later years of the 20th century.

* * * *

He arrived in the city of Dublin in January 1989 and wrapped himself tighter in the wool coat Dr. Hunter had given him. He looked at the timepiece on his wrist. Its digital face made it appear as an ordinary watch, but in reality it was the time machine. From his belt he pulled a long wand and with his other hand, withdrew Victorian coins. When the two touched, they money turned into Irish coins of the time, even taking inflation into account.

Alan walked down a main street and into a men's store where he bought a suit, two dress shirts, two pairs of blue jeans and three T-shirts He then went into a cafe to grab a quick bite and to look in the newspapers for an apartment. There was a loft for rent in a converted Victorian townhouse that looked just right. He asked the woman at the register for directions and she told him it was only a few blocks away.

He stopped in front of the townhouse and looked it over. He smiled at what he saw. he then went up the steps and rang the bell. A middle-aged woman answered it. "I'm here about the loft. My name's Alan Kelly."

"Come in, let me show it to you. I'm Mrs. Nolan." She then told him the asking price.

They climbed up three flights of stairs. "Are there any others in the building?"

"There's Mr. Milton in number 2 and Shannon Flynn in number 3. They are nice and quiet, no loud parties," she said with a smile. "The flat is partially furnished." She took out her keys. "Here we are."

The loft was large and spacious with a high ceiling. There were windows that looked towards O'Connell Street. There were no true room divisions, yet they could be seen. A couch and chair were in the living room; a refrigerator and oven in the kitchen; and a bed and bureau in the bedroom. "This is perfect, Mrs. Nolan. I can even pay you now."

"Mr. Kelly, this is highly irregular," she hesitated. "But not unheard of," she finished as Alan paid her. "I'm sure you will enjoy living here." She left, counting the money.

Alan shut the door behind her and heaved a sigh. He decided to take stock of what was needed. Food, of course, was the topmost necessity, then came sheets, toiletries, and miscellaneous cleaners. He was going to make this place shine! He put his list in his pocket with the keys Mrs. Nolan had given him. He locked the door and made his way downstairs and out into the city.

Upon his return, he put away the food and opened all the windows then began to clean. After two hours, he stopped and had a beer. There was a knock on the door. "Come in!"

A young woman in her mid-twenties standing 5'6" with red hair entered. "Hi, I'm Shannon Flynn from downstairs. I thought I'd welcome you to the house." She showed him pizza and beer.

He laughed. "Alan Kelly." He took the pizza from her and set it on the counter. He then shook her hand. "Excuse the mess. I was just doing some cleaning."

"That's okay. The last tenant let this place go to hell." She went into the living room. "May I?"

"Sure. Go ahead." He turned over a packing crate and dusted it off for her to use as a seat. He then brought the pizza over. He had had pizza in his own time but it paled in comparison to that of the 20th century. He savoured every bite. "Every pizza I've had before tasted like cardboard."

"I know. It took me ages to find this little Italian restaurant." She drank her beer. "You're not from around here, are you?"

"No. I live in London when I'm not travelling."

"So what brings you to Dublin, if you don't mind my asking?"

"I've never been here before."

As Shannon was getting ready to leave, she said, "Since tomorrow is Saturday, I can help you."

"You'd do that for me?"

"Sure. I'll see you tomorrow at 11:00." She left.

Alan smiled. This was turning out to be better than he thought.

* * * *

Shannon arrived at 11: 00 with a six-pack of soda and a portable cassette player. "I always find it easier to work with music, don't you?"

"Yeah, sure," Alan said, not knowing what type of music she meant. "I decided to work in the living room today since I tackled the kitchen last night."

"It looks great. Okay, lead me to those rags!"

Alan pointed to the bucket of water. "There's cleanser diluted in it already."

Shannon plugged in her tape-player. A song came on that Alan immediately recognised as a classic. "These guys are one of the hottest groups going."

"They'll certainly make a name for themselves," he said with a knowing smile.

"It's kinda neat to be in on the beginnings of a supergroup, eh?" She tossed her rag into the bucket then started on the wall. "Are you going to re-paint?"

"I was thinking of white to brighten the place up. What do you think?"

"Great choice. If you want, we can hit a few street markets and thrift shops for inexpensive furniture."

As promised, Shannon took Alan shopping for furnishing. She also helped paint the loft when she wasn't at work and they were done in two weeks. Alan's wardrobe increased, but he made a definite point about natural materials. He never knew when he would have to leave.

* * * *

Two weeks later, Shannon invited him down for Chinese food. "I've finally bought a VCR and rented the best sci-fi trilogy ever: Star Wars."

"Okay. I'll be down in a few minutes. I have a few things to straighten up." Alan thought that watching this famed movie series with its intended audience would be a nice change from his military history course.

She had ordered a bit of everything and had it laid out on the coffee table. "I couldn't remember what you like, but I hope it's there."

"This is just fine. How about a beer?"

"I was just going to ask you. Go on, dig in." She came back with two bottles and sat on the couch, her left leg tucked underneath her. "You ready?"

"Sure," Alan said, dishing out some low mein. "I've never seen them all back-to-back."

Shannon turned on the TV then used the remote to speed over the copyright warning. As soon as it started, she became engrossed, only making comments like "Watch this bit" or "This part is great" and "Isn't this fantastic". Alan's attention was split between the screen and Shannon's intent eyes. Some of the techniques--special effects and military--were commonplace to him as he was a first-class pilot in his own time. Even before the ending credits started, Shannon switched tapes. It was in the second instalment that the hero discovered that the villain was actually his father. Alan's eyes began to droop and he fell asleep halfway through the final movie.

The films had rekindled old memories and Alan dreamed that he was back in his own time leading a battle. He had the opposition's leader in his sights and the face looked incredibly like that of Cameron James, the man he had sworn to kill. He fired his laser, and, at the instant it struck, the face changed to Shannon's. Alan shouted and woke.
.
"What's the matter?" Shannon asked. "You were sleeping quietly, then you started shouting orders, yelled, and woke up."

"I guess I got too involved in the movies," he said nervously.

"The movies had nothing to do with it. I want the truth."

"The truth?" She nodded. Alan felt that if she liked science fiction, she might just accept the truth. "My name is Captain Alan Kelly, once of the Star One Rangers, one of the most decorated fighting forces in the galaxy." Shannon pouted. "Without being smug, I was the best officer they had. Yes, had. I was forced into early retirement due to a 'misunderstanding'. There was graft and corruption in the upper echelons, not to mention bribery. Anyway, I found out about it but the Government wouldn't listen because I didn't have any concrete proof. You see, the man behind it all, a rich egotistical paranoid, had locked everything away in a hidden safe. They couldn't keep me hanging around, so it was either retire or be court-martialed."

"So, how did you get here?"

"A year later, I got a call from a friend who was an inventor. I went to see him and he showed me his time machine. He also notified a powerful man who wanted to buy it--the same man who caused my retirement--Cameron James. Gil changed his mind and Cameron had him beaten. I escaped with the prototype to England during the Wars of the Roses. Cameron followed me--the newer machine has the ability to track down anachronisms. I eluded him and went back to my own time to find Gil dying. Then and there I promised to bring Cameron to justice or kill him."

Shannon was quiet. After a few minutes, she asked, "Why can't you go back and ask for help? Surely now you have proof."

"To incriminate myself. For all purposes, I was the last one to see Gil alive. I have no proof that Cameron was there. I'd be arrested on sight. That's why I have to bring him back with me."

"That's why you wear natural fabrics, so he can't track you."

"You believe me, then?"

"I believe in the possibility that you're telling the truth."

"It is the truth, m'dear," a syrupy voice stated. "An officer and a gentleman never lies." Cameron James had arrived.

"Leave it to you to spoil a vacation."

"Vacations, Captain, were meant to come to an end." He walked over to Shannon. "You always seem to be in the company of beautiful women." Shannon hid behind Alan.

"Some of us have it, some of us don't." He placed a protective hand on her arm. "How did you find me?"

"A medieval sword is not a common private decoration." He advanced on Alan. "Now, give me what I want and I'll leave you alone."

"Yeah, you'll go off killing people, or stealing, taking advantage of foreknowledge--"

"I was going to let you live. This time isn't so bad. Insults, however, make me change my mind."

Shannon unknowingly gripped Alan's wrist that held the machine and the two disappeared.

* * * *

Alan looked about him at the sand, sky, sea, and palm trees. Shannon's fingers were cutting into his arm. He gave her a comforting hug. Out on the water he could see a galleon just like one out of an old Hollywood movie starring Errol Flynn.

"Where are we, Alan? It looks so tropical."

"I'm not sure." He looked at the time machine. "It says we're in Port Royal Jamaica in 1665. The first thing we have to do is get some proper clothes."

"But how? We have no acceptable money and people will stare."

"Take out your money and hold it in your hand. Here's mine." He then took out the wand. "Okay, here we go." He gently touched the money and it turned into miscellaneous coins of the realm. "I want to try an experiment." He turned the wand to his shirt sleeve and it turned into a loose-fitting linen shirt. "It works!" He touched his pants and they turned into tan brushed cotton trousers.

Shannon stared at him. "What is that thing?" she asked as the time machine turned into a pocket watch.

"A transmuter. It's the last thing Gil gave me. It's your turn." The transmuter gave her an identical outfit except that her trousers were dark brown. "It's a good thing your hair is short, otherwise you'd cause trouble." The wand turned into a cutlass and Alan placed it in his belt. "Off we go."

They walked into town and headed for the first tavern they saw. The man behind the counter barely looked at them and just poured two liberal tankards of rum. When Alan asked for food, he gave them bread and ham. Alan deposited some coins on the counter then he and Shannon took their meal to a rickety table in a corner.

"What now?" asked Shannon. "Why don't we just go back?"

"Impossible. That's the first place James will look. Besides, aren't you the least bit curious?"

"In shock is more like it, though I will admit there is a certain romance about pirates."

"Just as long as you're aware of the dangers." He stifled a yawn. "I didn't think I was this tired."

"Your nap was interrupted." She yawned herself.

His lids began to droop. He realised too late. "The rum. There's something in the rum." He passed out and Shannon wasn't far behind.

* * * *

"Get up, you louts!" Alan was kicked in his side and immediately rose, fists at the ready. "We have a tough one here, Jacko. Thinks he can fight his way off."

Alan's vision cleared and he saw a large, burly man with a pistol aimed at him. Keeping one eye on the man, Alan looked around the cabin and saw Shannon lying on the floor among the other bodies. He lowered his hands and the big man smiled. The others were waking up. The big man had them follow Jacko--a rail of a man--onto the deck. Shannon stood next to Alan.

They were facing the quarter-deck where the burly man made his speech. "I am Mr. Fleet, quarter-master and second-in-command. All remarks are to be told to me and I will relay them to the Captain. You are all here for the duration of the voyage since it is too late to get off now." He snickered. "Discipline is severe. No exceptions as Jacko and myself are included. Just do as you're told and you just might live."

"Mr. Fleet," called a voice from the aft cabin, "are you talking to the new recruits?"

"Yes, Cap'n." Fleet stood beside the door as a man stepped out. He wore an indigo coat, white pantaloons, and calfskin boots. He had a round face with a bushy brown mustache and a trim beard. His hair fell to just above his shoulders and was covered by a wide-brimmed hat with a red plume.

"Cor," one of the men whispered, "it's Morgan!"

Captain Henry Morgan walked the quarter-deck and looked down at the men. "For some of you, this is your first time sailing with me. As the others can tell you, failure to carry out an order is the worst you can do aboard my ship. I will not have my orders questioned. Mr. Fleet, will you give them their chores?"

"Aye, aye, Cap'n." Fleet, having an immediate dislike for Alan gave him the most tedious detail he could think of. "You and your mate," he said, nodding towards Shannon, "swab the deck. I want every plank spotless."

"Yes, Mr. Fleet," Alan said, knowing that he was not the sort to cross. They took the brushes, mops, and soap. Shannon tied rope to a bucket and tossed it over the side, pulling it up full of water. Both got on their hands and knees and scrubbed until their hands were raw.

"That certainly takes the romance out of it," Shannon remarked.

* * * *

Four days later, the Satisfaction was chased by a Spanish man-of-war. The Satisfaction slowed and the Spanish pulled alongside it and Morgan ordered a broadside. The top of the mainmast fell and a hole was made in the hull. The Spanish immediately returned fire, but the Satisfaction outmanoeuvred the more damaging shots. The man-of-war was soon crippled and the pirates prepared to board her.

Jacko took Alan to a plank and had him wait with the others. Shannon was told to just wait. Alan drew his cutlass and gripped it in his hand. If possible, he told himself, he would only wound. This wasn't a war or a battle, it was a take-over. A fire had broken out in the hull and the crew of the Satisfaction took advantage of the confusion and boarded. Alan's promise was forgotten as his soldiering instincts took over. While half the crew fought, the rest went below to scavenge all the gold they could find before the ship went down. Alan and Fleet were the last to leave the ship. Jacko praised his swordsmanship which angered Fleet even more.

"You may have been impressed, Jacko, but I saw nothing spectacular."

"One with such a brash approach wouldn't," said Alan, forgetting himself.

"You want a chance to prove yourself, boy? I'll fight you now."

Alan rolled up his sleeves and smiled.

"Go tell Morgan," Jacko told Shannon. "In his cabin."

Shannon ran down the steps leading below and knocked on the captain's door. "If you please, Captain."

"Who is it?"

"It's Shane, Captain," she replied, using her nickname. "Mr. Jacko sent me to tell you that Mr. Fleet is fighting Kelly."

"Fisticuffs never hurt anyone."

"They're using cutlasses, sir."

"Why didn't you say so before, lad? I can't have them fighting amongst themselves." He grabbed his coat and ran out with Shannon following.

They reached the deck in time to see Fleet fall for Alan's feint, and leave himself open for Alan's sword to reach his throat. "Are you satisfied, Mr. Fleet?" asked Morgan. "That's what you get for letting your emotions take over. You are lucky that Kelly only proved his point and did not test it on your throat."

"Aye, Captain." Fleet mumbled before he went below.

"As for you, Jacko, why didn't you try to stop it?"

"Mr. Fleet seemed a man possessed, Captain. He would have gladly killed me if I got in the way. So I sent for you."

"Very well, Mr. Jacko. Carry on. Kelly, that was a clever piece of fighting, but an unwise choice for an enemy."

"He challenged me, Captain. I had to fight him." Alan replaced his cutlass.

"For the rest of the voyage, stay out of his way as much as possible."

"Aye, aye, Captain." Morgan strolled away.

Shannon went up to Alan. "What're you trying to prove? Fleet could kill you anytime. If not him, I'm sure there are other members of the crew who would."

"I stood up to him. I don't think any other raw recruits have. Besides," he added, "I don't plan to be around much longer."

"What are you planning?"

"Nothing," he smiled. "Nothing at all."

"Quit acting so smug then and keep an eye out for Fleet."

Alan walked to the bow and sat down as far forward as he possibly could. He stared out at the horizon and prayed for a landfall so he and Shannon could disappear without causing any trouble.

* * * *

"Sail to port!" came the cry from the rigging a week after leaving Jamaica. "French passenger by the look of her!"

"Right mates, prepare the guns," Morgan called out. "Raise the Roger!" The Union Jack was pulled down and the infamous Jolly Roger hoisted in its place.

Shannon and Alan were posted at a port cannon. I can't do it, he thought. Warring Spaniards are one thing, but these are innocent civilians. A soldier is nothing more than a butcher when he kills non-combatants. Then he had a plan. They were within sight of Andros Island and once in the water, he and Shannon could leave and the pirates would think they swam to the island. "Stay close to me and when the time comes, jump," he told her.

"Don't fire until I say so!" came Morgan's command.

They waited until the ship came within range. Alan knew he couldn't kill them. He fired too early and the French were warned. "You're for it, Kelly," Fleet said, advancing, pistol cocked. Alan had no time to draw his sword. He was at Fleet's mercy. Shannon grabbed Fleet's wrist and flipped him over with a karate move. Alan reached for her hand but Fleet pulled her back by the ankle. She fought him and he retrained her by putting his arm about her chest. "Christ!" he swore, "it's a bloody girl!"

Alan tried to go help her, but a shot from the French ship, now in range, splintered the deck and rail where he was standing and he plummeted into the water. Shannon cried out and unsuccessfully tried to hold back the tears. "If the water doesn't get him, the sharks will. Take her below, Jacko." With rejuvenated confidence, Fleet joined the attack.

* * * *

Alan didn't know how long he was out, but coming-to seemed like forever. He was expecting grains of sand digging into his skin, but, instead, his head was resting on a soft, down pillow. He carefully opened one eye and found himself in a cozy little room. Beyond the mosquito netting he could see the sun rising over the Caribbean through the window.

A man in his mid-fifties entered the room. "So, you're awake. That's good." He sat down in a chair and looked at Alan. "My daughter was the one who wanted to help you. I thought the Navy should be notified. She insisted it was my duty as a Christian to take you in." He stopped, noticing Alan's confusion. "We saw what happened out there. We saw you fall off the Satisfaction--the ship that belongs to Morgan the pirate. That makes you one as well. You have a slight reprieve. Tomorrow I send for the Navy." With that he strode out of the room, leaving Alan numb and speechless.

There was a polite knock on the door and a young woman near Shannon's age entered. Her hair was a lustrous dark brown that was pulled back in a loose bun with ringlets framing her face. Her eyes were also brown and very large and innocent. She wore a very simple gown of indigo. "I hope you don't mind," she said in a soft voice, "but I took the liberty of ordering a bath for you." Two islanders followed carrying a large tin tub and were in turn followed by two women carrying steaming buckets. "Here are your clothes. We had them cleaned while you slept."

Alan self-consciously wrapped the sheets closer to his waist. "Um, thank you."

She blushed. "When you're done, you can join us for breakfast on the veranda." She left the room.

Alan wrapped himself in the bedspread and crossed the room to the tub. After the islanders had left, he dropped the spread and stepped into the bath. Oh, it was delicious! He scrubbed himself raw and even washed his hair and shaved.

After putting on his clean clothes, he walked onto the veranda and found father and daughter breakfasting at the table. The father looked up from his work and frowned. "Must you invite him to meals, Amanda?"

"Yes, Father. It is our Christian duty." She smiled as Alan sat opposite her father and began to help himself to eggs and bacon.

"The man is a pirate!"

"All the more reason to show him kindness." Her father gave up and left. "I hope Father did not embarrass you."

"No." Alan sipped his fresh coffee. "You're not afraid to be alone with me?"

"We are not alone. There are servants watching from the kitchen. Besides, you don't strike me as a pirate."

"I'm not. I was pressed into service about a week ago. All the same, I have to get back to that ship."

"But why?" Amanda was curious. "You now have freedom."

"There is someone on that ship I have to rescue."

"A beautiful lady?"

"You could say that. She's my...sister," Alan lied.

"What kind of man are you to let your sister be taken by pirates?"

"She was dressed as a boy. We felt that it would be safer for her that way. We were both going to jump ship, but she was caught and they discovered her true gender. I felt I had a better chance to save her if I left." He stared at Amanda. "I can't do that if I'm locked up."

Amanda looked in his green eyes. He had better be telling the truth. "We can talk to the Navy."

"Like they'll really believe me."

"One of the captains has the Governor's ear. He also," she blushed, "has intentions for me."

"Do you think he'll help? I'll need a Navy ship both to catch the Satisfaction and to beat Morgan and his crew."

"I'll send one of the servants to fetch him. Hopefully, you can leave this afternoon." She waved a hand and a young boy came out. She told him to go to the Navy's headquarters and fetch Captain Hargraves.

Within the half hour, a young British naval officer was shown to the veranda. He cut quite a figure in his blue coat with shiny brass buttons. He removed his hat and bowed, greeting her as Lady Amanda. "I came as soon as I received your message. What do you want of me?"

"I would like you to listen to this man's story and help him."

Hargraves finally noticed Alan standing by the telescope. "This is the pirate your father came to us about. He's quite convinced a hanging is in order."

"He's been to see you already? Oh, dear, we haven't much time, then."

The captain was at a loss. "Time for what?" Alan told Hargraves his story and how he had to rescue Shannon. "Why should I believe you? It does seem fantastic. It could be part of a plan to attack the Navy."

"Those men would gladly kill me because I ruined their chances of gettin booty."

Amanda continued, "He fired early on the ship, giving it warning. When the crew turned against him, he jumped ship, but not before trying to help someone--presumably his sister."

"And how do you know these things?"

"Father and I saw everything through the spyglass."

"I don't know whether or not to believe you." He looked at Alan. "Yet, you have the look of an officer about you."

"I was--once. If you're thinking of how to ask permission for the ship, say you're going after Morgan."

"What about yourself?"

"I'm taking you to him in exchange for amnesty." Alan smiled. "What's the problem in that?"

"My father. How are we going to get you off the plantation?"

"We tell him that I'm taking the 'prisoner' in for questioning and that you," he turned to Kelly, "plan to turn Crown's Evidence. Since we are telling the Governor the same, there will be no confusion." He took Amanda's hand and kissed it. "Thank you, milady. for this opportunity. I wish we could stay longer, but we must prepare to sail on the afternoon tide." He called to the servants to have them bring out his horse and another for Alan.

Alan thanked Amanda as well, though he did not take the familiarity of kissing her hand. "You'll find out what happens either way, m'lady. Again, my thanks for taking me in and saving my neck from being stretched." He gave her a quick bow, then he left with Captain Hargraves.

After some persuasion, the Governor allowed them to leave. Alan's sword was returned to him and he felt much more comfortable. The crew of the Navy's ship, however, felt just the opposite. They could not accept the fact that a pirate was sailing with them. They whispered every time he passed by, but Alan ignored them and spent most of his time up on the forecastle. Hargraves joined him that evening. "Are you sure this is where he was heading?"

"The Bahamas, I'm positive." Alan looked at the young officer. "I wouldn't lie."

"I know, you showed me, but which island? There's a whole chain of them."

"New Providence." Alan kept staring ahead.

"They've a day's lead. We have to sail day and night to catch up with them." Alan didn't reply and Hargraves left him alone.

* * * *

Shannon was locked in Fleet's cabin on Morgan's orders. Fleet was relegated to the crew's quarters. They had given her a pastel green gown to change into and she didn't ask any questions as to its origins. A guard had been posted outside her door. Whether it was to keep her in or the pirates out, she wasn't sure.

After Alan had fallen overboard, Fleet fired his pistol at Alan's recently emerged head and it sank into the water. With it sank her hopes as she realised she was at the mercy of ruthless pirates three hundred years before she was born. Never again would she see her family or friends; never have the luxury of hot and cold running water or electricity; never play her Beatles, U2, or Clannad albums; and never ever taste a Hershey bar again.

She resigned herself to this fate and that night, and all consecutive nights, dreamt of marrying either a naval officer or a titled man. What turned them into nightmares was that each face changed into Alan's.

Two days after the skirmish with the French ship, Shannon looked out the porthole and saw a ship on the horizon. She thought it was the Navy ship coming to take the pirates, then saw it flew no flag. The pirates saw it as well and there was a great rush above-decks. "You'd best stay in 'ere, miss," said her guard. "I don't know what's goin' on up there, but I'm 'ere to 'elp you."

Shannon took comfort in that, especially when she heard the fighting that went on. The death cries lingered in her ears. "God, if only I weren't so helpless!" She heard footsteps coming down the stairs outside her door. A scuffle followed and she heard a moan. "Is everything okay out there?" There was no answer. "Are you all right?" She looked around for some type of weapon and grabbed a stout club and slowly unlocked the door.

A man burst in. "Just the one I'm lookin' for," he said. He wore lose pants tied with a rope, a dirty linen shirt open in the front, and was barefoot.

"Stand back or you'll be seein' stars!" She held the club menacingly.

"Come now, missy. I don't want to hurt you, women bein' rare in these parts." He walked towards her. "Put down the club."

She made an attempt to strike him but he grabbed her wrist and, with his other hand, removed the club. "Lemme go! You can't do this to me, I've got connections!" She struggled but he only held her tighter. She simultaneously kicked him in the shin and bit his arm. Once he let go, she ran up the companionway and saw her guard lying on the floor face-up, his unseeing eyes staring up at her. She fainted.

The pirate carried her over his shoulder to the other ship. When the captain saw her, he smiled. "Halfway there," he whispered.

* * * *

The next day while sitting at the bow with a borrowed telescope, Alan saw the Satisfaction. Something was wrong; she wasn't sailing as fast as she should have been. He walked to Hargraves on the quarter-deck. "Be careful, something isn't right. They're not moving too fast."

"Easier for us to catch them, then. I will take what you say into consideration. We will give them a warning before we board." He waved to one of his mates. "Bring the signal flags." He chose the simple message of "Surrender your ship". Alan doubted whether or not it would work and stood on the starboard side as they pulled up close to the Satisfaction.

He saw Fleet yelling orders from the quarter-deck. "Prepare you cannons, Captain. They're getting ready to fire." Hargraves acknowledged it with a shout. Alan turned to the ship. He could see no sign of Shannon, but they probably had her hidden below-decks.

He eyed the ropes hanging from the sails. Those old vids made it look so easy. The hero would swing over to the enemy ship and fight his way to the lady's side. Well, he was going to try it. The mainmast seemed the best choice. He untied a rope and waited until they were close enough. The Satisfaction fired its cannons but they were overpowered. Alan remembered a quote from American history about not shooting until seeing the whites of the eyes of the enemy. Now he knew what it meant. Once he saw Fleet's manic eyes, he swung over, cutlass in hand.

Some of the navy men followed his lead, swinging over on ropes. Alan tried to make his way towards Morgan. Some of the pirates tried to block his way, remembering that he had cheated them out of prizes from the French ship. He sent a few to meet their Maker before Fleet blocked his path. "Good day. Mr. Fleet. How nice to see you again."

"Kelly. Once I saw the Jack flying from the mast, I had the feeling you were behind it all." He smiled. "Shall we get on to the matter at hand?"

"Oh, so sorry." He made a lunge but Fleet easily blocked and parried. "You seem to have had an earlier encounter. The ship is in shoddy condition and you only have half your men."

"A minor disturbance, but the Captain handled it well. We're still here." He tried for Alan's side, but Alan side-stepped him.

"Of course. My apologies." He feinted left, then right, and struck left, his blade moving too fat for Fleet to stop. His cutlass made a gash in Fleet's side. "Where's the girl?" Fleet said nothing. "C'mon, where is she?"

"Gone," he whispered. "Gone." He stopped breathing.

Alan couldn't believe it! She was gone! After battling his guilt, he ran for Morgan. Hargraves was also making his way to the captain. Alan reached him first and attacked him, but without the finesse he had used on Fleet. "Where the hell is the girl? Dammit, Morgan, I want to know!"

"Your girl is gone, Kelly. You can always get yourself another." The captain was calm as he fought off Alan's angered rushes.

"She was my sister!" Alan broke through his defences and his sword point found Morgan's neck. "Who did it?"

Morgan didn't say a word, but Jacko came forward. "We don't know. He came up all of a sudden yesterday morning." He looked nervously at Morgan who only kept his eyes on Kelly. "His pistol was like none I had ever seen before. It shot a beam of fire! Once he had taken the girl and some of our booty, he left."

"What did he look like, Jacko?"

He hesitated. "Tell him, man," Morgan ordered, Alan's sword still at his throat.

"Um, he was the Captain's height but your build. His black hair was tied back, and his eyes," Jacko shuddered, "his eyes were black and they went right through me."

Alan slowly let the sword point drop. Cameron James was loose in the Caribbean and he had a laser pistol. "Where were they heading?"

"I can't tell you for certain, Mr. Kelly, but they were going west, towards Florida."

Alan stood still beside the most-feared pirate in the Caribbean. He began to form an idea in his mind, one that would help him and Hargraves. He vaulted onto the poop-deck and faced the pirates. "How would you men like a chance to get back at the swine who stole your treasure?" This brought a loud cheer from the crew. "Sail with me and Captain Hargraves to Florida and we'll get him!"

Hargraves whispered to him, "This is highly irregular, Kelly, using one crew of pirates to catch another."

"You don't have to join me. After all, you've already caught Morgan. I'll go on without you."

"You know I'd like to go with you, but I can't risk losing Morgan to go off after another."

"Fine. Take Morgan on your ship and my 'friends' and I will take the Satisfaction and go to Florida." He smiled. "I'll be okay. We'll come back and see you and Lady Amanda before we leave."

"I wish you the best of luck, Mr. Kelly. God go with you." Hargraves and his men shackled Morgan and escorted him to the hold of their ship. Once the Navy was gone, Alan had the pirates change course for Florida, Shannon, and Cameron.

* * * *

Shannon sat on the edge of the bed and looked around the cabin. The floor was covered with Persian rugs; Turners and Picassos hung on the wall; a pitcher and basin of stainless steel rested on the bureau. She opened a closet and saw a battery-operated tape recorder and TV.

There was a knock on the door. "Are you decent, m'dear?" asked a rich, cynical voice.

"I'm sure if I said no, you'd come in anyway," Shannon told him.

The door opened and a well-dressed man of medium height in his early thirties entered. "You seem to be back to your old self, my girl." He smiled. "I'm glad you're not faint-hearted."

"You're really something, you know that? I mean, parading all this stuff here where your men can see it."

"Oh, they never come in here without giving me fair warning."

"But why? What did Morgan have to do with it?"

"You can't be that dense. It was Kelly I was after. I thought he was with you, but he wasn't. Taking you will bring him to me and I will get his time machine, leaving him in this desolate place."

"God, you're a cold-hearted one. No wonder Alan wants to see you dead. You'll let nothing stand in your way of personal gain."

"You would do best to remember that, girl," he said with a sneer. "You could easily be left with him." He slammed the door behind him.

"The next time I see Captain Alan Kelly, I'll punch the living daylights out of him!"

* * * *

The unofficial captain of the Satisfaction, knowing that the reason he was still alive was the crew's need for revenge, directed--not ordered--them to sail all night in order to catch Captain Wildfire--as they called Cameron. Alan found their drive amazing. They had their own kind of honour. He vaguely knew that there was a Brotherhood and that there were rules to live up to. He also realised that he was tolerated because he had his own reasons for catching "Wildfire" and would leave them once it was done.

The crew sang as they set the sails for the night. Jacko, who stayed on as quarter-master, explained to Alan that it helped them keep their minds off what might happen. "These men have seen what Wildfire can do. You weren't there. You didn't see. It's not often that someone gets the best of Morgan, now it's happened two days in a row."

"You're wrong, Jacko. I've seen. Granted, I wasn't on the ship, but I've seen him kill two friends and now he's kidnapped my sister. The man is ruthless, Jacko, and I plan to see he doesn't do anymore damage." He began to pace the deck.

"Why don't you go to the cabin and try to rest. You can't do anything now. I promise to call you when we spot sail."

Alan stopped, realising that Jacko was making sense. He could do nothing until they came to the ship, and, when that happened, he had to be rested. What was the use of encountering Cameron if he was too tired to fight? "Okay, Jacko, you win. I want to be told if anything, I repeat, anything happens. Understand?"

"Aye, aye," he smiled, "Cap'n." Alan patted him on the back and went below-decks

In his cabin, Alan began to think of a plan of attack. He knew Cameron would be expecting him, that was why he had Shannon. What he wouldn't expect was the pirate ship he had looted. He also didn't know that Alan was with them. Alan decided that his best option was when the ships were close enough, to dive overboard, swim to Cameron's ship, then climb the stern to the captain's cabin. He guessed that Shannon would be there and she'd let him in through the window. With his plan settled, he went to sleep.

* * * *

He was awakened by a knock on the cabin door. He buckled his sword belt and rushed to the door. "What is it?" he asked the man waiting for him in the companionway.

"Mr. Jacko sent me down. We've spotted sail off starboard bow. 'E said you was to be told right 'way."

"Great." He climbed onto the poop-deck and Jacko gave him the spyglass. "Is that the same ship?"

"Yes, that's the one. That flag he's flying, I've never seen it's like before." Alan recognised the flag from his childhood. "The crew is ready. What's your plan?"

"Don't fire until we get close enough and try not to damage the ship much, I might need it. You're going to be in charge during the attack since you have the experience."

"What about you?"

"I'm going to jump ship and swim to the enemy and attack from within. All I ask is that when the time comes, you leave Wildfire to me." Alan stayed on the deck for as long as he could . He went to the port side and prepared to dive. He had no pistol so he didn't have to worry about the powder getting wet. He secured his knife and sword, saluted Jacko, and jumped.

The water was warm and clear and he had no problem seeing where he was going. He raised his face to the surface, took a deep breath, then went under again. The hull of Cameron's ship appeared in front of him. A cannonball hit the water beside him. They were getting careless. He rose at the base of the stern and looked up. It would be a hard start, but he could do it. He reached for a low outcrop of wood and pulled himself up. From there he reached for the windowsill. He peered into the cabin and saw Shannon surrounded by futuristic luxuries. He heard the sound of battle and knew it was safe to approach. He tapped on the window. She didn't hear so he tapped louder. She turned around and smiled as she saw him.

She ran to the window and let him in. "Alan! My God, I'm so glad to see you!" She hugged him. "When Fleet shot at you, I thought you were dead! Then, when Cameron came, I thought I'd be here forever."

"My first thought was to find you." He gently unhooked her arms from his waist. "That's quite a dress you've got," he said admiringly.

Shannon blushed. "Morgan gave it to me saying that I shouldn't hide myself in men's clothes."

"Looks like you can hide weapons under those petticoats. We'll be needing that." He began to search the cabin for weapons to use against James. He found two laser pistols, tucked one in his sash, and gave the other to Shannon. "Now, we fight."

They walked up the steps to the deck and Alan peeked through the door. The fight was well underway. He could hear Cameron bawling out orders, but couldn't see him. He whispered to Shannon to be careful. "If anything happens to me, I want you to use this to go home then destroy it," he said giving her the time machine.

"Alan, nothing's going to happen. It can't."

"Can't be too sure." He decided his best bet was the direct approach. He burst through the door, sword at the ready, and was immediately set upon by Cameron's pirates. They were no match for his anger and determination. He could see James and every time he reached the spot, James was gone.

Soon, they had crossed the ship and were on the bow. "Coming after the girl, Captain? You are predictable."

"And you're not? C'mon, Cameron, using women as bait is so passé." He smiled. "But you were never original."

"This coming from a man who lives for his glorious past!" He laughed. "When I've gotten rid of you, I shall take your machine and your Irish colleen."

"I don't plan to die right now, especially by your hands. Let's finish this once and for all."

"As you wish. You know I hate to discuss when a physical solution is so much better." He slashed his sword through the air.

Alan watched him show-off. He tossed his sword from hand to hand. He nodded when he was ready. At least Cameron was being gentlemanly about it. They started fighting like mirror-images, one blocking the other's parry. They were each experienced fencers, each anticipating the moves of the other. Alan decided to change the pace of the fight and lunged. James side-stepped and Alan landed on the deck. James brought the hilt of his sword down on Alan's head. Temporarily blinded, Alan lay still. He shook himself to clear his head. Cameron raised his sword to finish him off. His head still foggy, Alan didn't move.

Cameron's sword broke in half. Surprised, he looked around and saw Shannon flourishing a laser pistol. "Move away from him , or next time I won't miss." Cameron did as he was told and Alan rose and came over to her. "I thought you might need a little help."

"Thanks. Perfect timing." She looked quite amazing in her gown, holding a pistol. He turned to Cameron. "Never underestimate the Irish. They always fight back." He reached out with his sword. "Give it here." Cameron didn't move. "You heard me! Hand it over!"

"Hand it over now or you'll have absolutely no say in the matter."

Cameron's hand moved to the time machine on his wrist. "No tricks, now."

"Cap'n! Irish!" came the call. In the instant their attention was elsewhere, Cameron disappeared, his laugh echoing on the water. "There you are," said Jacko. "The ship is ours. What do you want us to do?"

"Whatever you want. Just have someone take us to Andros."

"We have to go there ourselves. I'm sure we can fit you both in."

"What about this ship? Surely Morgan would appreciate a new one."

"The mainmast was damaged beyond repair. There are also a few holes in the side. I guess you'll have to travel with us." He turned to Shannon. "You'll be treated well this trip. If not, they'll answer to me."

"Thank you very much, Mr. Jacko, but I think I can handle myself."

That's for sure," said Alan as he gave her a brotherly kiss on the cheek.

* * * *

They arrived in Andros four days later. The Satisfaction anchored offshore and put a skiff over the side. Alan and Shannon climbed aboard and waited to be rowed ashore by two of the crew. Alan looked up at the deck and saluted. It was returned by all those on deck and he smiled.

On the beach, Alan helped push the boat away and waved good-by to the men. He then led Shannon along the path to town. "We have to stop and see my captain friend. Maybe he'll give us a ride to the plantation."

"Plantation? What plantation?"

"The one belonging to Lady Amanda and her father. She saved me from a hanging."

"Ah."

Hargraves was glad to see Alan and welcomed Shannon. He then took them to see Amanda.

After thanking the both of them for their help and hospitality, they went to a secluded beach and Alan set their destination. "I'll take you home, get a few things, then be on my way."

"I'm going with you. There will be times when you'll need help, Captain Kelly. You're not invincible."

Alan knew she was telling the truth. "Okay. Just do what I say when things get tough. Agreed?"

"Aye, aye, Cap'n."


4. March of Time

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