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Fair Trade

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"This is intolerable!" Byron screams, fondling the scroll in a tight fist while his other hand slaps the surface of the table with enough force to make his council flinch aggressively in their seats. "This is the third ship we've lost this month and I specifically requested that my navy be taught how to win every battle, I don't care how it get's done but I can't be having anymore ships lost, this kingdom won't last another year if we don't solve this problem!"

His voice echos through the large council room and there is not a man shaking in his freshly-shined boots. A Small, timid-looking man speaks up when nobody else dares to, "If I may, Your Majesty?" Upon a small nod granting his request he stands and continues. "We have tried everything to stop these Savages and nothing has worked so maybe it's time to try and find a new approach."

Byron takes a few seconds to think over the proposition, his hand running up and down the scroll in his hand idly. "And what do you have in mind counsilor?"

"P-perhaps a deal of sorts, not an alliance but we could find a way to use them to our advantage, direct them to our enemies and give them things we want to get rid of, peasants for labour and excess crops, anything we can think of that we don't want in trade for peace." His hat is withdrawn from his head half way through his speech and his hands fiddle with the edges nervously as he awaits a response.

"Deals with savages never go well, you imbecile!" Byron roars until his right-hand man and his adviser Tom Marin places a hand on his arm and whispers something into his ear. A Slow, menacing smile spreads across his face leaving the councillors left feeling uneasy. He clears his throat before standing. "We are going to propose a deal then, I need you to send a message to these pirates, I want them docked on that port by noon tomorrow, failure to do this will be an immediate suspension from my council and each and every one of you will be replaced." With that he turns and tugs on the lapels of his jacket with finality.

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Well-worn boots click across the deck slowly as the infamous Captain Lopez strolls around the deck, surveying the work her crew have been doing- immaculate as always.

"Santana! Santana, wait up!"

"Berry, if you don't shut your trap in the next thirty seconds then I'm going to shove my fist sown your throat and give the title of Quartermaster to Mercedes like I had initially planned."

"My apologies, Captain." Rachel straitens her hat and jacket. "I came to ask we are going back in land to Sartania soon? Some of the crew are getting restless since we've never been out for this long before."

Santana sighs, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand. "Alright, spread the news, we turn around once the seas have calmed from that storm we had last night."

"Aye aye Captain."

"Oh and Rach-"

"Ship-ho!" Both Santana and Rachel rush to the side of the ship in an instant, peering out into the glistening blue in search of the oncoming ship.

The ship is clearly that of Montgomery origin, however the the thing that surprised Santana is the huge white flag that is raised as it nears. "Ready the cannons, the flag could be a trap."

Santana draws her sword and a pistol as the ship nears and drops its anchor near-by. They must really be coming in peace if they are dropping their anchor, it will delay a quick getaway should they need it. A young man in disgustingly clean clothes and wrapped in a cloak of ego and entitlement steps forward to the edge of his own ship.

"We come in peace to offer you a deal."

"We're pirates, we don't do deals." Santana snarls.

"We are unable to give you the details at this time so we will grant you access and you are to come to our port tomorrow at noon."

"First of all, we do not answer to demands and second, why would we come to your kingdom, to a place where we will most likely be ambushed and killed. If this deal you speak of is true then we will meet again right here instead. One ship only or we will attack. Now leave before we kill you all."

Santana turns away after her short debate before looking back to make sure that they are leaving. Once she sees the anchor be lifted and the ship turn away she calls an emergency meeting in the cabin.

With the crew seated Santana begins her speech. "By now you will all know of the deal. We have a few options and we will take a vote on our next course of action. We can remain and hear out what they have to say, take the offer which will most likely be gold in trade for our peace but we take the gold and then carry on with out looting anyway. We could stay and fight, loot the ship they send. Or we can forget the deal and simply head back to Sartania at dawn."

The crew look around at each other, satisfied with the options they have. "All in favour for taking the deal?" Rachel counts the hands as they go up.

"All in favour of looting the ship?" Rachel counts once again.

"All in favour of going home a day early?" Once the final count has been done Rachel clears her throat.

"Looks like we're taking the deal."

FT-FT-FT-FT-FT-FT-FT-FT-FT-FT-FT-FT-FT

The crew is nervous, it's clear to see. There are people pacing and feet tapping. Everyone is on edge, checking the canons and reloading their pistols at regular intervals as they await on the Montgomery ship. The anchor is up and they are ready to flee should more than two ships approach, that's as many as they are certain they could win a battle against with their supplies of ammunition.

Kurt rolls his eyes as he sees Santana adjust her bandanna for the third time in under a minute. "If you're going to keep messing with that then at least let me sort it so you look somewhat frightening instead of just-got-out-of-bed-moody-scary." Santana sighs as she rolls her eyes and throws her hands up in the air inviting him to sort out her outfit. He rolls his eyes back at her before setting to work on her outfit, straightening everything up, buttoning and unbuttoning her jacket to perfection before tapping her on her shoulders lightly. "Where would you be without me, huh?"

"Heaven."

Kurt is about to come back with a witty retort but gives up in favour of alerting everyone of the ship on the horizon. The crew searches the horizon for more ships but there is only one and it once again holds a large white flag.

"Alright, get ready mates." Santana yells out as the ship approaches and drops its anchor, not dissimilar to last time.

Once the ships are lines up next to each other a short man wearing fancy looking clothes steps forward. Santana rolls her eyes at the way he juts his chin up in the air as a sigh of showing that he believes that he is superior to her.

"I wish to speak to Captain Lopez." His words are punctuated sharply as he looks around, brushing his eyes over Santana before settling on Blaine. "As you know kind sir, I have a deal for you."

"No, you don't. You have a deal for the Captain." Blaine raises his eyebrows as his hand drifts down onto his pistol, which is fastened securely at his side, loaded.

"You are not the Captain? Where is he then? Tell me savage!"

"I'm here ya ignorant bastard." Santana steps forward, her voice monotonous, overflowing with boredom.

"B-but you're a woman." Santana wants to laugh at the flabbergasted look on his face.

"I'm aware. Now, how about ya introduce yourself so we can all stop calling you 'Sir Little Prick' in our minds." Santana raises an eyebrow and smirks.

"How dare you speak to me like that! I am Lord Byron. Ruler of Montgomery."

"I like my name for ya better, now tell me about this deal before I put a couple holes in your boat." His jaw is practically on the ground at this point and it's clear that he has never been spoken to in this manner before.

"With a woman for a captain, we could sink your ship in a matter of minutes, there is clearly no need for a deal." This clearly offends some of her crew and many step forward but are halted by a tanned hand raised silently.

"My crew decide who is captain based on skill, not gender. You see all of my men here, they are some of the best, but me, I'm the best of the best. You will die if ya so much as look at me the wrong way again." He gulps as her hand finds her sword.

"The-the deal is- you need to stop looting our ships. In trade we will give you any materials we can spare, I can assure you that what we will give you is more than what you would be looting if you turn down the deal."

"We're pirates, looting is what we do, we wouldn't be pirates if we didn't do it." Santana feels like if she rolls her eyes one more time they will be permanently trapped in the back of her head.

"We will give you directions to our enemies, you can have all the information we have on them and you can loot their ships, you will get double the materials, two incomes for the price of one whilst we weaken our enemies. It's a win-win."

"We want more."

Byron's smirk drops, he had expected them to take the deal immediately.

"There is one more thing I can offer you but since you're a woman I doubt you will have need for it."Santana's interest peaks and everyone can see it. "I offer my only daughter. I don't want her to succeed in my place as my son is a much better fit, a male air is better for everyone."

"Your daughter? Ya truly are evil aren't ya? And to think that you call us savages, that's your own flesh and blood." Byron is taken aback by her anger as is everyone, her crew rarely see her lose her temper but it appears that this sexist pig pushes her buttons.

"If you'll excuse me for a few moments while I discuss this with my peers?" Santana takes a breath and pulls a few of her crew over to the side of her ship. "What do ya think?"

Rachel -as per usual- is the first to speak up. "It's a good deal and if we don't like the shit they give us then we can go back to looting their ships as well as the other snob's ships he mentioned."

"Yeah, but what about his daughter? Can we really take her if she is our enemy?" Kurt jumps in.

"But is she really our enemy if her own father is trading her away simply because he prefers his son? She could know valuable information." Blaine always has been the brains.

"So we take the deal?" Everyone in the huddle nods their heads in approval.

Santana steps back into view of the Montgomery ship slowly, her face giving nothing away. "Alright Montgomery, the crew of the Border Crusher accept ya deal."

A wide, arrogant smile spreads over his face. "Excellent, men, fetch the girl and the documents." Four men scurry below deck to retrieve them. "Captain, we will have ships meet you once a week with supplies right here. Everything you will need to know about out enemies are in the files we will be supplying you now along with the girl."

Santana nods in acceptance and clasps her hands behind her back as she awaits her booty. She can hear items smashing and banging from what is clearly the girl struggling against the men and she smirks when she sees blood pouring out the nose of one of the men when they emerge from the lower deck. The girl in question has her arms bound tightly behind her and is gagged but somehow managed to injure both of the men that were sent to retrieve her.

Following the girl is two more men carrying a large chest, which is opened slightly to show the documentation inside to the pirates before it's closed and loaded onto a small wooden rowboat. The girl is also dragged towards the boat but is stopped by Byron as he whispers into his daughter's ear causing her eyes to go wide before she is also forced into the boat. Just as the boat is about to be lowered Tom Marin once again whispers in Byron's ear as he had done in the council meeting. The boat gets halted and another girl is hauled from the lower deck.

"This is her handmaiden. We won't be needing her so you can take her." Byron shouts across to the pirates.

Many of the crew step forward to reject the motion but Santana once again raises a hand. "She's going to have a hard time adjustin', we can at least let her have one person she recognises." She justifies leading the crew to nod their agreement.

The handmaiden isn't tied and climbs into the boat without question, hugging Byron's daughter to her as the boat is lowered into the water and the rope attached to the boat is tossed onto the Border Crusher. The crew quickly pull the boat closer to their ship as the Montgomery ship gets ready to set sail. "Nice doing business with you Captain." Byron shouts before making his way below deck as the ship begins to turn back towards the kingdom.

The crew of the Border Crusher - or as they call her 'Brittany' for short - watch the ship until it's out of sight before working on bringing the girls and the chest up on board, leaving the boat before setting their own course back to Sartania.

David and Sam take the chest to the hold to be reviewed back in Sartania as the rest of the crew watch as the handmaiden unties the cloth gagging the girl with shaky fingers before moving around to untie her wrists, which are now bloody and chaffed from the rope.

Nobody knows where to look as the two girls stand in a tight embrace, unwilling to let go of one another until Rachel steps forward. "Hello." The girls look up without letting go of one another.

"Hello." The handmaiden replies quietly.

"Welcome aboard the Border Crusher ladies." Blaine smiles warmly. Santana watches as the smaller girl pulls away from her handmaiden slightly but still keeps their hands entwined together with enough force that their fingertips are white.

"Hi,I-I'm Aria and this is S-Spencer." She talks quietly but everyone hears clearly since nobody else was talking at the time.

Santana steps forward and offers Aria her hand which she shakes hesitantly. "I'm Captain Lopez, also known as Santana. Rachel over there's my quartermaster, she'll find ya somewhere to sleep tonight and some clothes to wear. Neither of you will get very far in what you're wearing right now." She gestures to Rachel before pointing at their now dirty dresses and Aria's heels causing Aria to blush and tuck her chin down into her chest. Even though they are pirates, the crew can't help but find her cute.

"Alright ladies, we'll go get you changed and then we'll go to the Captain's quarters for a little chat about what we're going to do next. Alright?" Rachel begins to guide them below deck into a large room which houses close to twenty bunks.

"We have a few empty ones but you can take the ones by the wall if you like, everyone has been asking for those ones but you can take them." Rachel smiles.

"Thank you." Spencer replies before turning to Aria. "Do you want the top or the bottom bunk? Never mind, you're too short to get up to the top so take the bottom." She teases even though she knows that Aria would find a way up one way or another.

"You girls wait here, I'll find some clothes for you." She scurries off to ask the crew for any donations of clothes.

The second Rachel closes the door behind her Aria launches herself back into Spencer's arms, tears welling up in her arms.

Spencer buries her face into Aria's hair, breathing in her comforting scent. "We're going to be alright Ar."

"I can't believe he did it Spence. I don't know what to do." Spencer rubs her hands over Aria's back in the same way she had learned to years ago when she first figured out that it calms Aria in the quickest way possible.

"What we do is keep our heads down, we do our best to fit in and find new lives, better ones. It may be tough but we can be happy and we're not alone."

"Okay Spence." Aria wipes her cheeks with her hands but more tears keep coming in their place. "We can do this. Pirates-piece of cake, right?"

A chuckle from the door cuts them off. "Piece of cake? I don't know if I should be offended or laugh hysterically."

"Well for both of our sake's Captain, we better hope it's the latter." Spencer tries to joke.

"Rachel asked me to tell ya that it might take a while to gather some clothes so we're goin' straight up to my quarters now." Both girls nod and walk towards the door. "But I'm going to warn ya. Ya not tryin' to get on my good side, you've got to win everyone over on this ship." She sees the girl's scared faces and pats her hand on Aria's shoulder lightly. "Ya doin' great so far, ya lucky you're a cute one."

The tips of Aria's ears grow red with her cheeks but Santana doesn't see because she has already begun to stride out towards the captain's quarters. Aria would be lying if she said she wasn't disappointed that the Captain didn't touch her again, she finds it strangely soothing.

Spencer is quick to pull Aria out of the door with a skinny arm wrapped loosely around her shoulder. In return Aria's arm snakes around Spencer's waist and her fingers grasp the material of her dress tightly.

Together they follow the Captain through a thin wooden corridor, flinching when wooden boards above then creak and watching their steps as they avoid the soggiest floorboards in fear of slipping. It's a relatively short trip so quickly find themselves in a large room that holds a curtained off area and a table that seats around ten people.

There are several people already inside the room, including Rachel, Kurt, Blaine, Sam and David. "Take a seat ladies." Blaine instructs as he gestures to the seats between him and a blonde girl.

They don't waste time doing as he says in fear of what could happen to them if they anger the pirates.

Santana finds her seat at the head of the table, now holding metal cup full of rum. "First of all we'd like to know where ya loyalty lies." Santana states.

To Spencer's surprise she is cut off by Aria before she even had a chance to open her mouth, she had expected to be handling this one since Aria is usually more submissive in potential threatening situations, willing to do anything to keep both her and the people she cares about safe. "Byron Montgomery hasn't been my father for many years, he's a terrible man. I'll tell you anything you want to know about him and the kingdom."

"An' why would ya do that lass?" A tall, tanned man with a Mohawk steps out of the shadows in the corner of the room.

"I have conditions."

Santana is most definitely impressed, particularly because it was only a few minutes ago when she had witnessed the short brunette break down in her friend's arms. "We're listenin'."

"No harm should come to me or Spencer whilst we are on board."

"Is that it? No demands for ships or treasure?" The Mohawked man speaks again.

"Ships and treasure are useless once you're dead." Spencer cuts in.

"There's more." She waits for the crew to give her their full attention before continuing. "If you attack the kingdom, I have some friends and my brother within their walls, no harm is to come to them."

Santana smirks at the bravery the girl is showing, so much unused potential. Byron really was stupid if he thought that this girl isn't good enough to rule a kingdom. She shows the correct levels of compassion, mercy and ruthlessness. She will definitely have to keep this girl around for a while longer, she intrigues her like only one girl ever has before - Brittany. Her first love, killed in the midst of battle but never forgotten, living encompassed in the hearts of her friends that will keep her memory alive until they are all but dust in the wind.

The feelings she has towards the girl she has known for a matter of minutes terrify her. She cannot risk growing attached to anyone as she did Brittany. The pain was too much and affected her judgement, poor judgement puts her crew at risk and without her crew there is no ship, with no ship there is no booty and with no booty their families on Sartania stand no chance of surviving. They depend on trade to survive.

"Sounds like a mighty fine deal to me." A crippled man smiles, wheeling his chair closer to the girls. "Artie Abrams at ya service."

"Ya conditions will be discussed but in the meantime we need to decide what tasks you'll be assigned whilst aboard." Rachel speaks out.

"I'll take the tall one, she can help me in the kitchen, I've been needin' assistance for a while." The blonde next to the girls offers.

"Then it's settled that Quinn gets Spencer. Aria can come with me and Artie for now so we can gather information and go through documentation." Santana can't help but feel like her decision to take Aria under her wing isn't totally for the good of the crew but also for her own selfish desire to be close to the girl that she hardly knows. "My crew will teach ya the ropes and look out for ya until you've learned. We won't push ya too hard but we don't tolerate slack."

"Does anyone else have anything else they would like to discuss at this meeting?" Rachel calls out.

"Actually, yes, If I may?" Aria delays the end of the meeting. She receives a few head-nods in reply. "Where are we currently headed?"

"Sartania. You won't have heard of it, it's our home. We're only telling you because you'd be killed before you even got the chance to think of crossing us- and you seem trustworthy, I know that I wouldn't mind keeping you around." Quinn answers with a scowl that morphs into a teasing smile.

"In that case, you can trust us, right Ar?" Spencer smiles as she links her fingers with Aria's as the shorter girl nods her head.

Santana's eyes are practically glued to their hands, watching Spencer's thumb brush over the ivory skin rhythmically is causing an unexpected wave of anger to wash over her as she grips onto the edge of the table tightly. A hand on her shoulder breaks her trance and she meets the eyes of Kurt, who is looking down at her knowingly so she glares at him before clearing her throat.

"Ya begin tomorrow so you can go back to your bunk and change into the clothes Rachel brings ya until dinner. Today has been rough for ya so take it easy, talk to my crew if ya like, just don't distract them from their jobs." The girls nod their understanding. "In that case, meeting adjourned mates, get back to work."

The girls are led back to their bunk where they promptly spend the rest of the evening curled up together after being redressed by Rachel and Kurt, since her insisted he has the best fashion sense. They sleep through dinner and long into the night, wrapped in their warm embrace.