Her mother tells her that when she was born the first thing she did was lunge with sharp baby fangs at her sire’s throat. Her mother says that she was half-tempted to keep her even if she had been a boy. Of course, the bright red scales along her tail had made it abundantly clear her mother had born a beautiful new girl but the ferocity made for an interesting addition to the first of her Soul Song.
The Motherhood is full of mothers and their young girls – her future Sisterhood – and she is the deadliest of the lot. They keep to the shallows until they grow their first real set of teeth but her first solo kill is a striped young shark that thrashes for an hour before it succumbs. She is perhaps in deeper water than her mother should have allowed but even as a young girl she was deadly enough that mother felt comfortable merely supervising.
With their growth and increasingly voracious appetites, the Mothers teach them how to quiet their Soul Songs so they aren’t broadcasting for everyone to hear. Their Brothers are still too stupid to know better than to leave them alone and while she finds it mildly interesting how the Brothers don’t have proper songs the way they do, she still doesn’t want them chasing after her bright tail and nearly stripping soft young scales off.
The shallows afford them the opportunity to learn how to Sing to the Winds and the birds and those other half-sea creatures. It’s also the perfect place to learn how to use their Glamours.
Humans are strange things with no ability whatsoever to survive the Sea but they are ridiculously susceptible to even a Song sung with purely a Sister’s voice and no magic whatsoever added. They walk with legs and so their Mothers laugh and watch her and her sisters toddle around and snarl at each other until they can master both walking the land and casting a believable Glamour to hide their tails and the other bits that humans don’t have.
Easy prey, even ones so strange as humans, should not be discounted.
When her Sisterhood has one and all grown to their full lengths and can all hunt for themselves, the Mothers gather them together and tell them the last thing they need to know about the humans.
You can sing a human’s Song into a Sister’s. Humans are not like their Brothers with a song quiet and uninteresting – theirs are layered and changeable and so fascinating. Their lives are so short compared to a Sister’s that whatever first birthed them gave them no ability to shape their Songs themselves. A Sister can do it, if she chooses, but they may become so attached to the human that they abandon the sea to stay near and protect the song which becomes a part of theirs.
There is no shame in doing so – their Sisters will always welcome them back – but it will change their Soul Songs irreparably and there’s no telling in what way. Perhaps the Sister will like the change or perhaps she will spend the rest of her life trying to counter the new melodies and create a discordant mess. Either way, they must be careful.
She thinks the Mothers are being ridiculous and overcautious but her Sisterhood accepts the warning knowledge with thanks and then take off down the coast to forge their own hunting grounds.
She joins them – of course she does – and they spend a great many years chasing sharks and dolphins and various other fish and half-sea creatures. They learn to lure human ships and what that sort of easy feast tastes like. Some of her sisters break off and travel to the depths only to return to the shallows as a new Motherhood of their own. The remaining Sisters continue their games and test their strengths at Calling Krakens and finding the fun in hunting alongside the other predators rather than marking them as prey themselves.
She develops a fondness for the sharks that start their lives covered in stripes. They are fierce and fast and will eat just about anything so she can afford to pick only the bits of their kills that she actually wants.
Eventually though, the rest of her sisters grow bored of the shores and wish to turn the Sisterhood to the depths. There are bigger and better hunting grounds there and some wish to join the Motherhoods and will need a Brother to birth a youngling.
She is not ready for such things and so bids them farewell. They Sing her departure and their well-wishes into their Songs and she carefully threads a new harmony into her Song in return – promises to remember and love them always.
She finds a human port and makes the surrounding sea her territory. It affords her the ability to go to land and satisfy her curiosity about them whenever she wants and still return to the sea to hunt. Sometimes she hunts the humans when they encroach on the parts of her territory she wants to hold for herself but mostly the humans learn where she will not Sing them into falling prey and avoid such places.
The day she meets Jack is one of the days she has gone ashore to sit in one of their Taverns and drink their rum and get spectacularly drunk (and perhaps decide if she wants to cull any of their number).
It’s not the first time she’s gone ashore to their taverns. Humans are a delicacy she only rarely indulges in - being so few upon the sea as they are and generally smart enough not to encroach horribly on her territory. They ride the waves in ships made of wood and rope and sail.
The sail has been a more recent addition that both intrigues and vexes her. As a child, her Sisterhood’s first taste of human came from a Calling Song to set the men to rowing wildly toward rocky shores and shallow waters where they could tear the ship apart and drag men to their feasts.
The sail leaves much to chance – the Winds can be called upon to play but the fickle things do so enjoy the charms and prayers they are offered by the men. There is magic in devotion offered and the humans – deaf as they are to their own songs – can still recognize this at least. There are times when even a Sisterhood will not be able to Sing the Winds to help them.
Most of her sisters will not hunt the humans anymore – there are far more interesting things in the depths to hunt and far more challenging – but she has always liked the more subtle game. Finding the right tune, the right smile, the right look to lure a man close enough for claw and teeth has become, in recent years, a favourite pastime even if she doesn’t always kill them.
Men cannot speak her Name – their useless tongues and throats are not enough to sing the merry high whistles and the low crooning depths in harmony – so ashore she goes by Anne Bonny and laughs with them when men tell her she is very bonny indeed.
She meets Jack Rackham when the man she is Playing with in the way humans Play is too deep in his cups to recognize a Sister in human guise. She likes fucking and all the interesting ways men make themselves vulnerable so willingly just to stick their funny human cocks in the place between her legs they call a cunt.
Their Brothers are not so stupid as to stay so close to a Sister for much longer than the brief joining necessary and never without luring the Sister into a long exhausting chase first. A tired and playful Sister is far less likely to consider her mate a particularly easy snack after a joining.
Her human glamour is good but she still has her claws and her teeth are still just a tad too sharp and she can’t quite bring herself to give up the delicate ruffling of gills along her throat or the poisonous frills hidden in her hair.
The tavern is full of human sailors – they smell of salt and sweat – and they are each humming with violence in the back of her mind. She has learned that there are navy-men and then there are pirates. Both sound of violence but while one is constrained by duty the other is bound only to his fellows the way she is bound to her sisters.
She’s distracted by Jack when he brushes past her to the long counter of the bar. The brief touch of skin against hers brings his Song into sudden loudness above the background hum of the others. She has to pause to admire the way he has his facial hair trimmed into long knife-like points that remind her fondly of the stripes on some of the younger sharks that frequent this area of the sea. She takes a little too long for her current human’s liking because he lifts a belligerent hand and slaps her clean off her stool.
He’s yelping and howling a second later, screaming “Fucking fish whore,” at her and holding his hand where the long angry red lines her mostly hidden frills have left are starting to sluggishly bleed.
She’s used to men being cruel and rough with human women. There is some sort of insanity that convinces them they are somehow more than important, more powerful…just more than the women. To Anne, coming from the sea where the Sisters are both respected and feared in equal measure to reverence from their Brothers, is seems a ridiculous notion. But the human women indulge this, it seems, to their misfortune and folly.
Most men who go upon the sea know a Sister when they see them and know that their glamours are little more in the way of clothes the way the humans clothes are. It is not about modesty or strange notions about which bits of skin are allowed – it is about looking human when they are not human.
There is usually a fascination, of course, and since the Sisters who go ashore are either out hunting or satisfying a curiosity there are usually only two varying reactions. Either they are appropriately feared and avoided or they are trailed about like infants to their mothers. Drawn and fascinated and usually humming with desire.
Very rarely do Sisters encounter violence – which is not to say that it does not happen – but the threat of a Sisterhood out for vengeance is the bloody screaming that nightmares are made of.
So the bar is mostly silent but for his screaming as she lays sprawled on her side upon the ground because the rest of the men aren’t nearly so stupid as to not realize what this idiot human has done.
But Jack. Lovely Jack leans over and slits the man’s throat for her with barely a second glance. The blood that splashes her face is warm and fresh and makes her very tempted to take the fresh corpse as meal, compensation, and warning all.
Jack offers a hand with a little bow and a lively, “I’m terribly sorry for the trouble dear Lady. I trust you aren’t horribly offended because of the idiocy of that horrendous excuse for a man?” which thoroughly distracts her from her contemplations as to whether she would take the body to the sea or just make the other humans carry him to the room she is using.
She takes his hand and hums a little as she licks her lips free of the other man’s blood. It’s warm and delicious but not so delicious as the way lovely Jack’s soul sings back to her in response to the prurient bit of Call too low for human ears. She can hear blood and hunger and delight in his soul’s song and it makes her frills tremble and her spines quiver under the glamour.
It is the first time she has found a song that is so complementary to her own. It is the sea and the striped sharks and her first kill, the way the sunlight dapples the shallows and flashes off her scales where gold and white highlight the deep red, the way her sisters sang their love into their songs so they would always know. He is thrilled and respectful and while there is desire there too it is tempered by the quietest notes that hint at a devotion hers for the taking if she were to offer it in return.
“No trouble,” she purrs at him and lets a hint of her delight and only partially sated hunger Sing into the trill of her tongue against the roof of her mouth, “buy me a drink?”
He grins and it wrinkles the skin around his eyes. The bartender – cleverer than to comment and quick enough to act – tops up her mug silently and pours a second for, “Jack Rackham, at your service.”
Yes, she thinks, at my service.
“Anne Bonny,” she says and drains half the mug in one go without stopping her long perusal of his face. The bartender tops her up again and accepts the coin Jack slides him while keeping his eyes trained on hers.
At her feet and with the quick and efficient manners she has come to enjoy of this particular tavern, the other men haul the body out of the common area. She shoots a brief look at them to be sure they are headed toward her room.
She has come here long enough and often enough with enough shining bits of gold that they know better than to throw a body that will not be missed out to the back to be buried.
Jack spends the long evening with her, telling her about the ship he sails with and the places he has been. She is pleased when he provides useful markers - there are porpoises that look like this and fish that look like that – so she can follow his journeys in her mind’s eye. She doesn’t tell him where her Sisterhood’s shallows are but she tells him how she likes the striped sharks best as prey and hunting partner both and compliments his attempts at mimicry with his own striped face.
He grins and touches the hair near her frills without fear. “I’ve seen fish with colours like yours and frills too. They’re poisonous?”
She smiles too sharp and doesn’t answer and he doesn’t stop reaching out to touch every now and then.
They go to his room where his touch grows bolder and their clothes scarcer.
She fucks him and he lets her trace careful lines into his chest with her claws. His hands brush her frills and she is soothes the red lines with her tongue and savours the taste of his blood. His lips trail every bit of her skin he comes across – scale and human alike – and she returns the favour with the occasional scrape of too-sharp teeth that makes him shiver delightfully. She relishes the slide of their joining and is thrilled when he presses his hands there just so.
When she rides the mounting pleasure to completion for the third time that night – chest heaving for air and gills pressed so flat to her neck they’re little more than lines – she nearly screams. There is a pulsing pressure inside her – a twitch away because it’s too much but she wants more – so she bears down and draws such a strangled moan from his throat. When she lets him spill his seed inside her finally she croons “lovely Jack,” and Sings Mine, my Jack to his soul until she can hear his song in harmony with her own.
She lays beside him in the bed as he drifts into slumber and continues to murmur soft melodies, layering bits her with bits of him, creating a refrain to capture this night and use to build future nights.
She slips away to her own room eventually and there will be naught but some blood upon the floor as evidence of her meal come morning. Full and pleased she turns to the harbour and sheds her glamour with only the barest of ripples.
The Ranger isn’t his ship but it’s the ship he calls home. She trails her claws along the wooden boards – etching magic in delicate lines along its length – she lets her Soul Song swell in her mind from start to finish and when the spell bubbles and bursts on her tongue and she cannot remain silent any longer she Sings until the wood shifts and creaks, until her likeness curls languid and beautiful at its stern as if it has always been there.
She returns to Jack’s bed and he curls around her reflexively without waking.
The Captain’s shouts wake them in the morning – he’d clearly found the new addition to his ship – and the thudding of his boots on the stairs make Jack startle and wince and recoil with a groan. She can hear the man being directed to them and stares at the door until he appears.
He slams the door open with the beginnings of “What the buggering fuck did you-” and comes face to face with Anne as she rises from the bed with all the predatory swiftness at her disposal. She curls her lips to bare her teeth and lets her frills flare up in her hair as he backs away cursing and muttering prayers.
Wisely, the Captain doesn’t say a word when she shadows Jack aboard later that day. She doesn’t need it, but she plays with a knife taken from last night’s meal perched above her Figurehead anyway just to savour the fear in his scent and the horrified awe quivering in the crew’s darted half-glances.