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There was a cutlass at Gem's throat and a gun pointed at her head, but still she refused to yield.

The pirates, Reyna, Hylla, and several other attendants were gathered in a large circle on the deck, watching the duel. The pirates were jeering and yelling.

Gem gazed calmly at her challenger. She wasn't going tom lose. That would not go well. What if they made her walk the plank?

She tried not to let her panic show on her face. Bonemeal would be no help on this ship.

"Come on," the pirate growled. "Don't make this any longer than it has to be. There be no shame in being beaten by a man."

"You're not a man, you're pond scum," Gem spat, trying to sound intimidating. From the pirates' roaring laughter, it probably hadn't worked very well.

The one she was dueling was laughing as well. Gem took the opportunity to close her empty sword hand into a fist and punch him as hard as she could.

The pirate dropped his gun and brought his hand up to the spot on his face that was quickly turning purple. Gem hadn't been aware that she could punch that hard. As the weapon clattered to the ground, Gem dove for her own, which was still behind the pirate where she had been disarmed.

She grabbed her Celestial Bronze sword and scrambled back to her feet, not particularly graceful. But it got the job done, and she was able to meet the pirate's attack mid-blow.

She started losing ground again. If she went much further, she would be trapped against the railing. Desperately, Gem ducked around to the pirate's left side and stabbed at his shoulder. He batted her blade aside. Gem dodged his next hit, which would have killed her had it struck.

Gem had to admit the pirate was better than most of his comrades. Sweat dripped into her eyes, but there was no time to wipe it away now. She did her best to blink it away, which just made her eyes sting. She dealt with the pain and blocked another swipe.

Gem found herself backed against a railing again. She had no space. She was going to have to walk the plank. She'd never earn her freedom, she'd never get back to Camp Half-Blood or Hermitcraft. There would be the empty outline of an elf palace on top of Impulse's hill forever, or at least until he and Pearl decided it was too much of an eyesore and removed it.

Her breath trembled. Her knuckles were white on the railing behind her. The ship rocked gently, and the water lapped at the side of it. A glimpse of purple scales surfacing above the waves told Gem that some sea monster was following the ship, waiting for the inevitable tasty morsels that were forced to walk the plank.

The pirate dug his cutlass into her throat, drawing blood. Gem cried out, tears jumping to her eyes. It took all her willpower not to cry. That would be humiliating.

The pirate let the moment drag on. Gem whimpered. The pirate grinned. His breath smelled like spinach; Gem was pretty sure most of them had gone vegetarian from their time as guinea pigs.

Gem opened her mouth to surrender.

And then the pirate yelped and toppled to the ground, the shiny tip of a cutlass protruding from his stomach.

Reyna, her weapon jerked out of her hand by the falling enemy, grinned. "There's no shame in bring beaten by a girl, pond scum."

Gem didn't move from her position by the railing. "Is he dead?" she gasped.

"Don't know, don't particularly care," Reyna replied, shrugging.

"Reyna!" Gem yelled.

"Come on!" Hylla said, flashing past with her own blade as the pirates roared with anger and surged forward to attack.

Gem immediately had her sword knocked out of her hand by a stray cutlass. It tumbled over the railing. "No!" Gem cried, and reached for it, but the sword that had carried her through two and a half years of monsters and magic was gone.

Gem gripped the railing and stared at the spot where it had spashed into the water. The sounds of attendants and pirates fighting with both metal and magic were loud behind her. The sea monster slithered away, probably because it saw the Celestial Bronze.

Gem turned and picked up the cutlass that belonged to the pirate Reyna had killed. It looked like it was made of gold. Why gold? Gem had never seen a golden weapon in this world before. But it was pretty cool, so she joined the fight.

However, before she could get far, she felt strong hands pick her up like a sack of potatoes and dump her into a rowboat.

Hylla ran back into the scuffle. "Stay there, Gem!"

Gem started to protest, but then stopped as Reyna stumbled into the boat to join her. She had a nasty gash on her leg. There was red dripping down her leg and soaking into her sock. She walked with a limp.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

Gem gave the older girl a look. "I should be the one asking that question."

She winced. It hurt to talk because of the cut on her neck.

"I'm fine," Reyna said as Hylla jumped into the rowboat with a couple of oars. Reyna slashed the ropes suspending them above the water. As they plunged, Gem couldn't help but remember the story Bdubs had told her about something very similar to this, on a cruise ship. Gem made sure that both of her friends were there. They were.

"Hold on!" Hylla yelled.

Gem grabbed onto the bench she was sitting on with one hand, her new sword in the other. They splashed down in the water. Miraculously, the rowboat didn't shatter.

Reyna put pressure on the slit on her leg. Gem tried to do the same with her neck, but ended up choking herself and stopped.

Hylla had somehow escaped unscathed.

"You did pretty good back there," Hylla said to Gem. "With the duels and stuff."

Gem really hadn't, but she was suddenly too tired to protest. "I need sleep," she announced.

Reyna and Hylla nodded.

Gem lied down on her bench and stared up at the sky. The sun was warm on her face, even though the air was freezing cold.

Reyna found a blanket, a broken lantern, and an empty satchel in the bottom of the boat. She gave the blanket to Gem, who took it gratefully. Now that they were away from the warm torches of the ship, winter was catching up to them.

Gem started to drift off.

They weren't safe yet, but they were one step closer.


HOORAYYY ITS HERE hope you enjoyed the first chapter, it was fun to write but no matter what sira and jj say I'm not good at fight scenes


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