Read Vampirates 3: Blood Captain Online

Authors: Justin Somper

Tags: #Action & Adventure - General, #Ghost Stories, #Pirates, #Action & Adventure, #Healers, #Juvenile Fiction, #Seafaring life, #Children's Books, #Fantasy & Magic, #General, #Juvenile Horror, #Horror & Ghost Stories, #Action & Adventure - Pirates, #Children: Grades 4-6, #Ages 9-12 Fiction

Vampirates 3: Blood Captain

Vampirates 3: Blood Captain

Book Jacket

Series:
Vampirates [3]

Rating:

Tags:
General, Action & Adventure - General, Children's Books, Action & Adventure, Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy & Magic, Pirates, Horror & Ghost Stories, Ages 9-12 Fiction, Children: Grades 4-6, Juvenile Horror, Ghost Stories, Seafaring life, Action & Adventure - Pirates, Healers

As fans of the Vampirates series know, nothing is quite as it seems when Vampirates and pirates are involved, so twins Connor and Grace have to keep up their guards. But with every new challenge pulling them farther apart, it seems that the time has finally come for the twins to explore their separate fates.Grace, unable to forget the blindness she caused her Vampirate friend Lorcan, chooses to journey with him to see if his sight can be restored. As for Connor, he must endure the latest addition to the Diablo crew: Captain Wrathe's awful nephew, who seems to dislike him from the very start. Will both twins find success, and what will it take to bring them back together?
SUMMARY:
As fans of the Vampirates series know, nothing is quite as it seems when Vampirates and pirates are involved, so twins Connor and Grace have to keep up their guards. But with every new challenge pulling them farther apart, it seems that the time has finally come for the twins to explore their separate fates.Grace, unable to forget the blindness she caused her Vampirate friend Lorcan, chooses to journey with him to see if his sight can be restored. As for Connor, he must endure the latest addition to the Diablo crew: Captain Wrathe's awful nephew, who seems to dislike him from the very start. Will both twins find success, and what will it take to bring them back together?

Text copyright © 2007 by Justin Somper

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Little, Brown and Company

Hachette Book Group USA

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at
www.lb-kids.com

First eBook Edition: June 2008

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

ISBN: 978-0-316-03997-0

Contents

THE YEAR 2512

Chapter 1: THE CROW’S NEST

Chapter 2: THE EXPEDITION PARTY

Chapter 3: BROTHERS

Chapter 4: DARK JOURNEY

Chapter 5: ANOTHER KIND OF DANCE

Chapter 6: ARRIVAL

Chapter 7: NIGHT WATCH

Chapter 8: THE HEALER’S ART

Chapter 9: STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

Chapter 10: THE LOST BUCCANEER

Chapter 11: SNOW

Chapter 12: SEVEN WORDS

Chapter 13: THE IN-BETWEENS

Chapter 14: THE TYPHON

Chapter 15: EXEUNT

Chapter 16: THE EMPEROR

Chapter 17: THE WELCOME

Chapter 18: MOONSHINE’S LAIR

Chapter 19: THE RIBBON

Chapter 20: NIGHT MISSION

Chapter 21: THE RIBBON CEREMONY

Chapter 22: BLOOD TAVERN

Chapter 23: AN ALTERNATIVE TO BLOOD

Chapter 24: ROOM FOUR

Chapter 25: THE REC ROOM

Chapter 26: LOST

Chapter 27: THE VAQUERO

Chapter 28: THE PLEA

Chapter 29: LORCAN’S RIBBON

Chapter 30: THE GUILTY PARTY

Chapter 31: THE BLOCK

Chapter 32: THE PASSAGE TO INDIA

Chapter 33: THE BERRY PICKERS

Chapter 34: NO HEROES

Chapter 35: GIRL TALK

Chapter 36: COMPLICATIONS

Chapter 37: STUKELEY’S FEAST

Chapter 38: HERO OF THE HOUR

Chapter 39: THE BLOOD CAPTAIN

Chapter 40: TWO LETTERS

Chapter 41: THE BOAT ON THE WATER

Chapter 42: MAGIC NIGHT

Chapter 43: RETURN TO PIRATE ACADEMY

Chapter 44: COLLAPSE

Chapter 45: THE MENTOR

Chapter 46: EYES WIDE OPEN

Chapter 47: TO LANTAO

Chapter 48: THE LARIAT

Chapter 49: THE SWORDSMITH AND HIS DAUGHTER

Chapter 50: THE DANGER ZONE

Chapter 51: THE JOURNEY ON

Chapter 52: THE STORMING OF THE CITADEL

Chapter 53: THE TIES THAT BIND

Chapter 54: THE LIBERATOR

Chapter 55: THE COLLECTOR OF SOULS

Chapter 56: BEHIND THE MASK

Chapter 57: REUNION

Also by Justin Somper

VAMPIRATES: Demons of the Ocean

VAMPIRATES: Tide of Terror

To Jenny, Jo, and Jonathan.

Blood is thicker than water!

1

THE CROW’S NEST

“Come on, Connor. You can do it!”

“Come on, buddy! Keep climbing!”

Connor Tempest grimaced. His legs felt simultaneously as heavy as lead and uncontrollable as jelly. It was a mistake to have paused halfway up. He’d been doing so well. He wanted to conquer this fear. It was time. Way past time. But the fear was deep inside him, weighty and immovable as an anchor caught beneath a rock.

He wanted to look down. He struggled to keep his head straight, knowing that looking down was the worst thing he could do. He felt his eyes being pulled like magnets down to the deck, many feet —
too
many feet! — below. And then down the side of
The Diablo
and deep into the ocean. When you stopped to think about it — and you should
never
stop to think about it — there was a very long way to fall.

“Don’t look down!” Cate’s voice sailed through the air, strong and certain. If only he could be as confident as the deputy captain always sounded.

“Come on, lad!” Captain Wrathe called to him. “You’ve taken on worse foes than a few feet of rigging!”

This was certainly true, thought Connor, his mind flashing with dark snapshots of the past three months. His dad’s funeral. Nearly drowning before he was rescued by Cheng Li. Being separated from Grace. The death of his dear comrade Jez. His betrayal by Cheng Li, Commodore Kuo, and Jacoby Blunt. The terrible night when he’d led the attack on Sidorio and Jez . . . no,
not
Jez, but the thing Jez had become. The memory of that night burned in him like a fire, as hot as the torches he had sent across the water to the deck of the other ship. As consuming as the flames which had engulfed his friend . . . the
echo
of his friend . . .

“Come on, Connor!”

It was Grace! Even though she was back on the Vampirate ship, it
was
her voice — as clear as anything. It gave Connor the extra fortitude he needed. After everything they had been through, he could no longer be defeated by this one remaining fear. This
ridiculous
fear of heights.

Carefully, he removed his right hand from the rigging. It came away with the indentation of rope deeply imprinted, red and raw, across his palm. He realized how tightly he’d been clinging. The ship’s bell rang. The surprise of it made him lose his balance for a moment but it was only the bell announcing the changeover of shifts. He steadied himself. It was now or never. He reached up to the next square of rigging and took a deep breath.

He didn’t look down. He didn’t look up either. He just kept his eyes focused on his hands and the squares of rope. Each square was the same as the last — a rope window framing a patch of sky. If he just focused on this, it was as if he wasn’t climbing at all.

Suddenly, he realized that his legs were no longer shaking. Instead, they were moving steadily, seeking out the next foothold, finding their rhythm. His breathing had settled, too. He was calm. He was doing this. Conquering the fear. It felt good. It felt
so
good.

He lost himself in the movement and it was only when he heard the sound of cheering from below that he realized he’d reached his goal. He looked up and his hand touched not rope but the wooden frame of the crow’s nest. All that remained was to haul himself up onto the lookout point.

A coldness sliced through him. There was no ignoring the sense of how high he was above the deck. With no harness to protect him. It was madness to be up here. At the mercy of the swell of the waves far below. Once more, an icy wave of fear tore through his insides. He gritted his teeth, waiting for it to pass. The fear clung to him, but Connor was not about to be defeated. Not now.

There was good reason to be up here. Someone had to man the crow’s nest — to keep a lookout and give early warning of attack, or opportunities
to
attack! Coming up here was about protecting your mates. And in the three months since he’d joined
The Diablo,
these guys had become more than mates. Bart, Cate, and Captain Wrathe were his new family. They’d never replace Grace, of course, but Grace had had to embark on her own journey. Besides her, everyone he cared about in the world was aboard this ship. When you looked at it like that, it made absolute sense to be up here, in a position to safeguard them. Effortlessly, he climbed up into the crow’s nest.

As he planted his feet on the wooden platform, he heard a fresh round of cheers from below. The temptation to glance down was strong now. Resisting it, he looked straight ahead. As far as the eye could see, there was the endless sprawl of glittering blue ocean. His new home.

In the distance, he saw the outline of a ship, silhouetted against the afternoon sun. Attached to the crow’s nest was a small telescope. Connor reached for it and looked through the glass out to the horizon. It took him a moment to find the ship but then he caught it in the circle of his vision. It was a galleon, not dissimilar to
The Diablo
. A pirate ship, perhaps. He zoomed in still further and raised the telescope to get a better look at the flag. Yes, another pirate ship for sure! It seemed to be heading around the bay, the bay that could be seen curving into the horizon behind the vessel. Connor grinned. He knew
exactly
where that ship was heading. To every pirate’s favorite watering hole — Ma Kettle’s Tavern.

As Connor replaced the telescope in its clip, a small bird came to rest on the crow’s nest. From its forked tail, Connor recognized it as a sooty tern. It gave Connor a quick glance then flapped its wings and took off again, soaring away into the blue. Connor watched the bird until it lost its distinctive shape, contracted to a black speck, then disappeared entirely. He smiled to himself. That’s my fear, he thought. Gone now.

“Good goin’, buddy!” Bart high-fived Connor as he jumped down the last foot onto the deck.

“Very impressive,” said the pirate at Bart’s side.

“Thanks, Gonzalez.”

“No, I mean it,” the pirate replied. “Half an hour to get up there and straight down in thirty seconds!” He grinned.

Connor shook his head. He’d only started to know Brenden Gonzalez since Jez Stukeley’s death. Gonzalez could never take Jez’s place but he shared a similarly dry sense of humor.

“I’m really proud of you!” Cate said, stepping forward and — most uncharacteristically — hugging him. “I know how hard that was for you,” she whispered in his ear.

“An excellent effort!” said Captain Wrathe, beaming at him. Scrimshaw, the captain’s pet snake, was coiled about his wrist, and even he seemed to be looking at Connor with fresh admiration.

“Well, gather ’round, everyone,” called Captain Wrathe. “I think Mister Tempest’s accomplishment is cause for celebration, don’t you?”

There was a rousing chorus of “Aye, Captain!” from up and down the deck. Once more, Connor had a sense of belonging to a vast, extended ocean-faring family.

“Tonight, we shall visit an establishment by the name of Ma Kettle’s!” cried Captain Wrathe.

There was much cheering. Bart and Gonzalez hoisted Connor up onto their shoulders.

“Put me down!” he cried.

“Oh, dear!” said Bart. “You haven’t got a fresh attack of vertigo, have you?” He and Gonzalez laughed good and hard at that.

“No,” said Connor. “Put me down! I have news for the captain.”

“A likely tale!” cried Bart.

“It’s true!” Connor persisted. “Put me down!”

“If you’ve news for the captain,” cried Molucco Wrathe, “you may tell him from up there on your perch.”

“All right,” Connor said, still balancing on his mates’ shoulders. “It’s probably nothing to worry about. Just that when I was up in the crow’s nest, I saw another pirate ship.”

“In our sea-lane?” boomed Molucco. The irony of his comment was not lost on the crew, who greeted his indignation with hearty laughter. They all knew that Captain Wrathe had little — or rather, no — respect for the system of sea-lanes mandated by the Pirate Federation.

Connor nodded. “It’s in our lane, but I don’t think it’s going to cause us any bother. It looked to me like it was just taking a shortcut to Ma Kettle’s.”

“I see,” Molucco said. He reached into his blue velvet coat and retrieved his own silver retractable telescope. He extended it fully, then raised it to one eye, closing the other eye tight. “Which direction was it coming from?” he asked.

“North-northwest,” Connor said.

One eye attached to the telescope, the other still closed, Molucco swung around and narrowly missed whacking Cate in the nose. Fortunately, the deputy captain had quick reflexes.

“Ah, yes! I see.” He fiddled with the telescope lens. “Let me get a better look.”

For a moment, the captain was silent.

“Do you see it now?” Connor asked.

There was a pause and Connor was about to repeat his question. But then the captain spoke. “Yes, lad. Yes, I see it.”

They could tell from his voice that something wasn’t right. Cate stepped closer to the captain’s side. Bart and Gonzalez eased Connor from their shoulders and returned him gently to the deck.

“What’s wrong, Captain?” Cate asked.

He seemed too lost in his own thoughts to answer. As if in slow motion, he dropped the telescope from his eye and compacted it once more. He looked dazed.

“The day has come,” he announced.

“What do you mean?” Cate asked. “Is there something we should know about that ship?”

“You’ll find out soon enough,” Molucco said. “Cate, I’m going to my cabin. Make sail for Ma Kettle’s.”

“But Captain,” said Cate. “If there’s something wrong, I’d really like to know . . .”

“Just do it,” Molucco said wearily, striding away across the deck.

“What’s eating him, I wonder?” Bart said, when the captain had disappeared below deck.

Cate shrugged. “Like he says, we’ll find out soon enough.” She sighed. “Of course, it might be nice to get a heads-up once in a while. I
am
deputy captain of this ship . . . in name, at least.”

“Chin up, Cate,” Bart said, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “Don’t take it personally.”

Cate lifted her hand and removed Bart’s from her shoulder. “That,” she said, “is a highly inappropriate”—she dropped her voice—“but much-appreciated show of support.” Smiling, she turned to address the crew. “Chop chop! Change tack for Ma Kettle’s. Now!”

Connor headed off along the deck.

“Where are you going at such a stride, buddy?” Bart called after him.

“I’m going to grab a shower,” Connor said. “I’m all grimy after my climb and I want to freshen up for Ma Kettle’s.”

Bart gave him a knowing glance. “Freshen up, eh? That wouldn’t be to impress any particular lady who might happen to work at Ma’s, would it?” He grinned at Connor. “Hey, are you
blushing
?”

“No!” Connor said. “I must have gotten sunburned up on the crow’s nest, is all.”

“Aw,” said Bart, “our boy sure is growing up fast!” He and Gonzalez grabbed Connor and ruffled his hair.

“Stop it!” cried Connor, breaking free from their clutches and darting inside to get ready.

It was always reassuring entering the familiar terrain of Ma Kettle’s. If
The Diablo
felt like Connor’s home these days, then Ma’s ran a close second. Connor always felt a sense of expectation as he heard the great waterwheel sloshing overhead and made his way with his comrades across the threshold.

Connor, Bart, and Gonzalez strode into the main bar. Several faces turned as they did so. Connor noticed that a couple of the serving girls gave him a smile. Blushing, he smiled back. He was still unused to the growing amount of attention he had been receiving of late. Being one of Molucco Wrathe’s crew gave you instant celebrity status in the pirate world. Love Molucco or loathe him, it seemed you just couldn’t help talking about him.

The bar was bustling with activity, as always. Crews from numerous pirate ships spilled out across the main bar area. Some were lucky enough to be welcomed beyond the velvet rope into the VIP area. Others sought out the private curtained booths up above. Connor saw Cate standing at the bar. She gave him a wave and beckoned the three of them over to join her.

“So did ya find out what’s eating the captain?” Bart asked Cate as he, Connor, and Gonzalez caught up with her.

“No.” She shook her head. “No, he’s barely said a word to me since he saw that ship.”

“Where is he now?”

“Over there.” She pointed. “No doubt telling Ma everything he doesn’t see fit to tell me.”

They looked over to a roped-off section of the tavern, where Molucco was sitting with Ma Kettle. She was nodding sympathetically, rubbing his shoulder with one hand and pouring him a hefty drink with the other.

“They
are
old friends,” Bart said to Cate.

“Yes,” Cate said. “But I’m the deputy captain. I’m supposed to know some of what’s going on in his head.” She sighed. “Of course, you know what this is really about, don’t you? He blames me for what went down on
The Albatross
. It’s fair enough. Lord knows, I blame myself.”

Connor hung his head. It was hard for all of them to move on from that fateful day — from the apparently easy victory that had turned into a nightmare for them all. It was the day that had ended with the death of their friend and comrade, Jez.

“Hey,” Bart said. “We were all caught unaware by that.”

“Yes,” Cate said. “But
I’m
—”

“We know,” said Bart. “You’re
deputy captain
!”

Cate shook her head. “I was going to say that I’m not supposed to be caught unaware by anything.”

Connor could see the hurt in her face. He wished he could say something to make her feel better but he felt a little out of his depth.

“Now, look,” Bart said. “Young Tempest here conquered a major fear today and we’re supposed to be celebrating. So can we all put a smile on our faces and get a bit merry?”

“Amen to that,” said Gonzalez, grabbing some drinks from a passing serving girl.

“My, but you’re pretty!” Gonzalez said. “Are you new?”

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