"Alright, it's gonna be a bloodbath in there." Thomas spoke to the crowd, who all stood, nervous, but attentive. "Fight like you never have before. Fight like you have to be the one to make your tomorrow happen."
"Be careful. Don't die." Minho added.
"Great. We're all bloody inspired." Newt scoffed beside Maya. Minho elbowed him.
"Maya? Any words?" Thomas looked to Maya, who just clenched her jaw and shook her head. For once, Maya was speechless. Defeating Margrath had been Maya's goal for a long time, and now that she was so close to that goal, to him, she had no words. Only adrenaline.
"Alright. Let's go!" Thomas shouted, raising his sword in the air. The others followed suit, shouting out different pitches of war cries. Thomas and Maya led, charging into the cave entrance. A minute of running later opened them up to a massive cave that was hollowed out by water that had come and gone, leaving only a few feet of red-stained water on the cave's ground.
Maya stood side-by-side with Harriet as they fought pirates from all around the globe. Everyone knew Thomas and Maya's faces from the wanted posters, and they all wanted that reward.
Newt separated from Thomas and Minho to help Maya and Harriet, limping as fast as he could over to the girls. Across the room, standing beside Margrath, was Teresa. Maya saw her staring at Thomas, who seemed torn between having a fluttering heart or a shattered one. Teresa seemed to mouth what looked like "I'm sorry", but it was cut off by Margrath grabbing her by the forearm and dragging her off into the fight. Thomas snarled and charged after the two, leaving Minho.
"Oh, shuck no." Minho shook his head as he watched Thomas run off, leaving him fighting all of the men. He turned and ran, stopping to help Harriet, who had been pushed away from Maya while fighting some of Margrath's crew.
Maya and Newt were slowly being backed up into a corner. A pirate from some Spanish ship made a gash in Maya's arm, triggering something in Newt, who leapt forward and stabbed the man in the left eye.
"Thanks." Maya breathed, pushing her mind past the pain and the blood that stained her shirt.
"Yeah." Newt replied, grunting as he sliced the neck of a man to his left. Maya saw Harriet and Minho kill all of their opponents and rest behind a natural rock pillar made smooth from water. The two just had their hands on their knees and were panting before they looked at one another in sync. And, looking like starving lions, they leaped at each other and started kissing in the most disgusting way.
"Come on, guys! Is this the right time?" Maya shouted at the couple as she fought. Harriet and Minho broke away, glared but smiled at Maya and Newt, who were laughing, and got back into the fight. Them helping took out the pirates at double the speed, making them fall left and right. Still, more kept coming.
"How did all these people get the code?" Harriet asked, her voice high as she rested for a few seconds, preparing for the next wave.
"Word spreads on the seas like flame does in a dry forest." Was all Newt said as he fought beside Maya.
"Spiritual. Nice." Minho laughed. He helped Harriet get ready again and soon they were all back in the thick of it.
Maya glanced up to see Thomas making his way toward Teresa, who was tied with a rope to a pole surrounded by gunpowder. Margrath was nowhere to be seen. "Cover me. I'm gonna help Thomas get Teresa."
"Absolutely not." Newt said, repeating Maya's words from earlier in almost the exact same context.
"Newt, I can do it." Maya complained, seeing Thomas struggle to who was probably the love of his life at the moment.
"Maya, I will not let you get killed." Newt snapped, turning from the fight and to Maya as Harriet and Minho took over to let the two argue.
"Who said I'm gonna get killed?" Maya crossed her arms, glaring. "You know I can take this."
"I know that you can, but-"
"I just can't risk it!"
"And why is that?" Maya shouted. Their voices where bouncing off the walls and back to them now, ringing over the roar of the crowd. Newt groaned, rolled his eyes, and met Maya's lips with his own.
"That's why." Newt said after he pulled away.
Maya smiled a sad smile, reached up and kissed Newt back briefly. "I can do this. Love ya." She joked, her smile not going away but becoming less watery. Newt seemed stunned before he replied, his voice quiet.
"Love you, too."
Maya turned and darted into the crowd, her sword drawn and ready. She stabbed some people in the back as she went. Every once in a while she would get held up with a pirate of some sort, but they either ended up dead or tricked long enough for Maya to get away.
Maya popped up beside Thomas and helped him clear the way to Teresa. A greasy man with an unfortunate amount of warts on his face saw the two making their way toward his captive and sneered, lighting a match.
"They're gonna light it!" Maya shouted to Thomas, who nodded and fought harder. "You get to Teresa, I'll hold them off."
"You sure?" Thomas turned to Maya briefly, concern etching across his features.
"Positive. Now go!" Maya ordered, taking the load of pirates herself and shoving Thomas back toward Teresa. Maya heard Thomas tackle the man, and she heard female screams, but what happened next was drowned out.
Maya had seven men swinging at her at once. She could hardly keep up and she was preparing to just surrender when all of their heads fell off their shoulders in rapid succession. Maya prepared to stab but lowered her sword when she saw the man before her.
"Francis Jing. Interesting seein' you here." Maya greeted, a smile overcoming her face as she shook hands with the man who she had met in jail all those nights ago.
"Captain Maya Bartman. Survived yer hangin', I see?" Francis flashed a toothy grin and dropped his hand.
"Yeah. Hey, how did you know 'bout my hanging anyway?" Maya asked.
"Same way I know about everyone's sentence." Francis shrugged before unsheathing his sword and driving it through his stomach. He seemed unaffected by it, and the blade came out clean.
"The people who sneak people out of their cells!" Maya started to put the pieces together. "You meant the Ghosts of Blue Waves! I can't believe I didn't catch on b'fore. The old legend is true, huh?"
"Sure is. Pleasure to see ya again, Captain." Francis saluted Maya before running back off into the fight, beheading soldiers the same way he had been decades ago. Maya put three fingers to her temple, removing her hat, and saluted him back.
Teresa's legs had been burned slightly, making it hard for her to walk, but she still fought. Even if she had to lean against a wall with Thomas making all of the mobile moves. Newt, Minho, and Harriet stood by them, too, and Maya made her way back over to her friends.
Maya fought back-to-back with Thomas, Teresa, and Newt, but her focus was somewhere else. "He's right there. I can get 'im." Maya said, thrusting her blade through the pirate's chest.
"Maya, if you go, I'm going." Newt turned from the battle to face the girl. They just looked into each other's eyes before Maya chuckled a little and shook her head.
"Newt, I don't want to risk your life." Maya tried to move past him, but Newt blocked her path.
"Newt. Just... Just let me do this. Please." Maya looked into Newt's warm chocolate brown eyes, her own filling with tears a little. "I'll be right back. I promise." Maya smiled and straightened up, placing a delicate kiss on Newt's cheek. Newt nodded and turned back to help Thomas and Teresa.
Maya walked up to Margrath just as he yanked his sword from one of Thomas' boys, adding to the pile of dead bodies by his feet.
"Margrath." Maya snarled. Margrath turned slowly and, at the sight of Maya, contorted his mouth into a disgusting smirk.
"Maya Bartman. It's been too long." Margrath and Maya both drew their swords at once, moving to square off in a proper battle. "Tell me, Miss Bartman, what makes you think you can beat me?"
Maya shrugged at this. "I don't know. Lucky guess?" With that, they began to duel. Every slash was met with a block and a counterattack.
"I must be honest, you have improved." Margrath stated casually, yet his tone was mocking. "It is a shame such a good pirate will go to waste." Margrath lashed out and Maya's shoulder split open into a thin yet bloody line.
"I won't be goin' to waste, mate." Maya sheathed her sword and smiled at the man. Margrath was obviously shocked at Maya's actions, allowing her to pick up a stick near the still-burning fire around the pole Teresa once was and throw it at Margrath. He shouted and fell backward as the heat scorched his face. He struggled with the log, his sword getting in the way and stabbing him in the cheek, but he eventually got it off of him. Yet his body laid there, unmoving.
"I know you're not dead." She said, smirking. Margrath jumped up, obviously upset his trick hadn't worked, and the duel began again, Margrath trying to shake the flames on his coat in the process.
"Get the bloody flames off of me." He grunted, fumbling with his clothing. Maya used his confusion as an advantage and ran forward, tripping him. His body tumbled backward and he landed on the pile of corpses he created. An upright sword clutched by a dead, clammy hand impaled the former captain right through the throat, creating a rather gruesome sight. Maya smirked in victory and rushed back over to her friends.
"You did it?" Teresa asked, slicing a man's throat.
"I didn't do is so much as karma did." Maya answered, taking a pirate to battle herself. Newt and Thomas had finished off all of the pirates on their side and rushed over to help Maya and Teresa. Harriet and Minho slashed at pirates, too. Eventually, every enemy had fallen. The Trigger and The Candidate could celebrate victory together, at peace for good.
That's how it should have gone.
Instead, while Newt and Thomas fought beside Teresa and Maya, a once-considered dead pirate rose from the blood-stained cave floor. He stumbled about, no one aware of his presence yet, and searched for something to do. Seeing all of his crew mates dead at his feet, the man's confusion quickly turned to rage. He whipped around and shoved out his bloody sword, waiting for it to make contact with someone.
The blade penetrated Maya right through the center just as she and Teresa killed the last pirate. Maya gasped and slowly looked down at the red spreading all across her body and at the sword breaking through her skin. Maya crumpled onto her knees and watched as her crew scurried toward her. Harriet got there first and lifted Maya into her arms, working around the sword.
"Maya. Maya, no." Harriet sobbed, publicly crying for the first time anyone had ever seen. "Maya, why? How did it... Maya..."
Maya just smiled up at her old friend though, completely at peace. "Every great tale has an ending, mate." Maya coughed and watched as blood spat from her mouth. "his is merely my final chapter."
"Maya, please don't. Don't say that." Harriet sobbed, trying to stop the rapid bleeding without removing the blade.
"Maya-" Newt breathed, at a loss for words. He, too, had tear trails streaking down his face. He cradled Maya's bloody and dirty face, watching her eyes flutter. One of the girls had slain the pirate who had stabbed Maya, who now laid most certainly dead behind them all, having been kicked until he was far away.
Maya reached a shaky hand up and removed the hat she always wore, moving it over to Harriet's head. Harriet whispered "No, no, no, no." While shaking her head as Maya did it.
"Harriet, first mate of The Trigger, I hereby promote you, with the power of captain invested in me, as the captain of The Trigger." Maya smiled as she spoke before jerking into another coughing fit.
"Maya, no. No, I can't-"
"Yes, you can." Maya assured her friend as her eyes dimmed.
Maya moved her gaze around the crowd surrounding her, her tears mixing with her blood. "Thank you, all of you. I'll be here, always. G'bye, mates." Maya's words faded into nothing but a bloody silence as she took her final breath. Harriet wailed, moving her gaze away from her fallen best friend so fast it appeared she would break her neck.
Newt lunged forward and gripped Maya by the shoulders, shaking her as he sobbed. "No! Maya, come back! MAYA! MAYA, COME BACK!" He screamed. Thomas and Minho moved forward to try and pull him away, but Newt scrambled out of their grasp and clawed over to Maya again, his screaming dissolving into gibberish.
* * *
The surviving crew members of both The Trigger and The Candidate held Maya a proper funeral. Gally constructed a podium made from the wood of the door leading to Maya's quarters where everyone said their goodbyes. Some, from people who had barely spoken to Maya, were short and sweet. Mostly "You did us a great service." And, "Thank you, Maya."
Others were longer and more heartfelt. Thomas went first.
"I remember the first time I had actually spoken with Maya, she had introduced herself as Captain Maya Bartman. I believe that Maya truly lived up to that title through her life, but especially tonight. I came up here to say my goodbyes to a dear friend and a truly amazing pirate." Thomas raised a glass filled with rum, discolored from his tears, "To Maya." The crowd chanted "To Maya!" And drank.
"Maya-" Newt hardly got past the first word before he choked up, but he continued on. Newt's gaze never left the sky, his eyes fixated on it as if it were a rare treasure. "Maya is up there, watching us all right now. If she could come down from her place above and speak with us one last time, I am sure that she would say how incredibly proud she is of all of you. I know I am." Newt lowered his head to look at the people he had risked so much with. "Maya was not only an incredible pirate, friend, person in general, but she was an incredible motivationalist. So tonight, I wish to continue her legacy by spreading her thoughts, opinions, and personal battles through the Caribbean. I hope we can all promise that, through us, Maya will live on!" This was met with roars and sobs from everyone. Newt broke down behind the podium but regained his posture, looking down at Maya's covered body resting upon a pile of wood. "I love you." He whispered before walking back toward Thomas and Minho, both embracing him in a brotherly hug.
Finally, Harriet stepped up. She stood tall, her eyes filled with determination and sadness, but mostly pride. "Maya has done us all a great honor just by being in our presence. She has granted me to be captain of The Trigger, and I am announcing now that I accept and I will try to fill the shoes Maya left me. I promise you this: The Trigger will not stop sailing. That ship will live on through generations and centuries, protected by Maya's mighty spirit. And, if you will allow me, I will speak with Maya for a moment." Harriet stepped from the podium and stood before the wood pile, looking down at the tarp covering the former captain of The Trigger.
"Maya," Harriet's voice cracked and she wiped away tears, "Maya, we have known each other since what feels like the beginning of time. I remember how we met. You came up to me with the biggest, happiest grin on your face and asked if I wanted to see a ship. Of course I said yes to you, you were such an adorable little thing. On our way there, you talked about how the other kids had denied you because you were interested in pirates. From that day on, I knew I would follow you anywhere. Maya, you have outdone us all on so many fronts, I don't know how I will compete. But I promise you this, I swear on my life, I will not let your memory die."
"Nor will I." Sonya said.
"Nor will I." Teresa and Ximena chimed in.
"We won't." Thomas nodded to his crew behind him.
"I swear on the air that keeps me breathing." Newt choked out, his voice weak yet determined.
Harriet broke open a lamp and lit an alcohol-doused torch, igniting it instantly. "May you rest with the gods, Captain Maya Bartman." Harriet dropped the torch and the woodpile burst into flames.
The pirates around stood silently, watching the orange and yellow wisps of light twist and stretch with one another, slowly delivering Maya's soul to whatever rest in the afterlife. The night was filled with sorrow, comforting and compassion for others, all what Maya tried to express in her short lifetime.
Maybe someday, Maya will return. She may be in a different form, but one can always recognize Captain Maya Bartman.