Legal Theft Project: Making a Name

She had only heard gunshots at a distance. Nice polite cracks, like the gentlemen who fired them at shooting parties. She’d never been inclined toward shooting. She’d held a gun before, to admire the inlay or the artistry of decorative carvings, and then she set them back in their velvet boxes and passed them back to their owners. When she was tired of her own velvet box, she packed her trunks, bid her husband adieu, and booked passage on the first ship heading to France. She passed through France, visiting friends, cutting her hair scandalously short, drifting further south and east. Passing through Monaco, trying her hand at the gambling tables, consenting to go out on a mutual friend’s yacht for a jaunt over to Italy. Only she never made it to Italy.

White sails astern. No one thought anything of it. Plenty of people in the Mediterranean enjoying the water and the pleasant weather. The warning shot from the approaching vessel’s leading gun shattered that illusion and sent the other passengers screaming if they didn’t simply freeze in shock. She had a moment of shock. The cannon was so, honest. The rifles and other guns she’d heard made popping sounds, or cracks. Like holiday crackers or enormous flower urns being thrown off a balcony in a fit of temper. The cannon boomed and broadly declared its intent to kill you. Messily and immediately if you did not listen. It was honest and brash and utterly rude. She adored it.

The other ship was closing in despite the yachts frantic efforts at evasive patterns. After a good look about and sidestepping to avoid some hysterical fellow passengers, she stepped over to the buffet and tested a tray for heft. The other ship was closing, and the bright garb of the people aboard the larger and armed craft rioted in a kaleidoscope of shapes. Lines and grapples soon secured the two vessels, and her ship was boarded. As the, she supposed they were pirates, surged across the deck, she hefted her platter, and scattered its contents into the faces of the leading wave. No stunned moments for shock, apparently civilians had resisted them before, but they weren’t going to use lethal force. She dived behind the buffet table just in case, and scrambled back up to her feet, looking for more ammunition. One pirate leapt over their compatriot who was wiping the remains of the blini and caviar off his face. She reached for another tray and the pirate lunged for the buffet and grabbed the closest item which happened to be the punch bowl. The pirate then flung the contents of the punch bowl all over her. Which was the first thing that shocked her in this entire escapade. There was a hush around them, punctuated by a few whimpers from frightened passengers and few commands from the pirates. She wiped the scatter of lemon from her face and stared at the pirate. “That was… rude. And opportunistic. I have half a mind to toss the mousse at you, but I fear your head would break the glass.” The pirate laughed, merry and admiring. She smiled back at the pirate.

“You didn’t panic at all, did you?” The pirate asked.

“No, though your cannon gave me a bit of a start. Rather exhilarating really. I can only imagine what more than one shot sounds like.” She answered.

“Didn’t seem to trip you up any. Sorry about your dress.” The pirate did not look sorry at all. More sort of offhandedly apologetic and more than a bit interested.

She shrugged and returned the pirate’s interest. “I’ve been getting tired of velvet skirts. Perhaps you could offer me a change.”

“I believe I rather like you, miss…?” The pirate walked around the buffet table and gave a brief bow as her breeches would have made a curtsy rather ridiculous.

She waved her hand in dismissal. “I don’t believe I’ll be going by my old name any more. Rather like these clothes, they just don’t seem to suit.” She looked directly into the pirate’s eyes and saw an answering wicked and delighted amusement.

“Lady Brandy then, for your potency.”

Brandy grinned. “You have name then, pirate?”

“Bernardetta but I prefer Burns.”

Brandy held out both her hands to Burns. “Well then, I am quite afraid, Burns, that I make a terrible lady.”

“That’s all right, it looks like you might make a passable pirate.”

“I hope so. I would dearly like to learn how to fire a cannon.”

“Wouldn’t you rather start with a gun?”

“No,” Brandy said. “Guns can be quite deceptive. There is nothing quiet or impersonal about a cannon.”

And Burns swept Brandy off her feet and carried her over to the pirate’s ship. The yacht was left in their wake after the other passengers had been relieved of their valuables. Burns and Brandy began a career of piracy that spanned a decade and several fortunes worth in jewels which were never recovered. Brandy did indeed learn how to shoot cannon and was in charge of the ships guns for most of their career and never herself wielded a personal fire arm. Occasionally the couple would, seemingly randomly, throw a handy bit of fruit or other edible at the other which led to a bout of laughing and a bit of concern from the crew. Neither of them were ever apprehended.


The first line of this piece was looted from Kathryn over at Nine Pages. Click here to see who else heard gunshots.

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