At that point, sense, logic, and sanity abandoned ship. Seven times. The bloody bastards had found them seven times. That was not skill, or coincidence, or careful planning. Fate was having a good laugh and throwing all the rules out the window. No wonder sense, logic, and sanity followed them. Good thing the captain wasn’t chained to them at the ankle. That would be a sad way to go. In fact, the whole ship felt lighter. The sails coming toward them in defiance of all odds seemed ethereal. The captain laughed. The crew all swiveled to look at their captain. None of them abandoned their posts as the light delighted laughter danced across the deck.
The captain scanned the crowd and picked out the skeleton crew. Barked out merry orders for the helmsman to head for the channel and prepare for a spin, sent her first mate and bosun out to man vital sails, and selected three young sailors as their relief. The captain waved the second mate and the rest of the sailors over. “Everyone prep your weapons, get aloft, and find a good line.” The captain’s grin was nothing short of lunatic. “We’re going to board.”
“Captain?” The second mate asked. “Engaging the enemy is not going to get us out of this particular trap. We’re not fast enough.”
“You’re right, Mathews. We’re not getting out of this. If we listen to all the wonderful theories of sane people, we are right and royally sunk. So, what becomes important?”
“If it’s all the same to you, Captain, I would rather not die at all, but if I’m going to die… well, I’m glad it is with all of you. I wish…” he looked at the deck below his feet.
“Right you are, Mathews.”
Mathews looked at the captain suspiciously.
“The lot of us aren’t getting out of this, but she is.” The captain looked around at the ship. Home for over ten years, carrying as much soul and hope as sail and wood could carry over water. “When it comes down to it, we don’t really matter. This ship needs to get out. So we’re going to buy her that time.”
“Flagship closing in fast, Captain.” Called down from the lookout.
The captain barked understanding, and then looked back at the crew. Most of them had been with the ship from the beginning. Knew the risks. And the guarded desperate hope that it might somehow survive them shimmered between them.
“That ship,” the captain pointed at the incoming flagship. “Is the fastest, the most important and the most proud. Likely there will be someone, hopefully many someones, aboard that are very important. So we all go aloft, and we go take their heart.”
A moment of relative quiet amid the shriek of the wind and the echo of a ranging shot. “That’s suicide Captain.”
“Most likely. But if we can cause enough damage or take someone important, it might slow them down enough for our lady to get away. We won’t know until we get there. And we’ll surprise them. After all,” the captain grinned. “What sane person abandons a perfectly sound ship to board their enemies – they wouldn’t have a place to go.”
It held for a breath and then the second mate, Mathews laughed. “Pity they still think we’re sane.” And the captain watched the weight slip away. Some of it found its way to the shoulders of those who would be sailing the ship away. But most of it just sank into the waves, sounding out of sight.
“All hands aloft!” The captain cried and swarmed up the ratlines with the crew. Most of them weren’t getting through this storm. But damn if they weren’t going to ride it to the end. And the men in the lethal flagship behind them had no idea the ship they’d just cornered was full of the desperate and the mad. Well, not yet.
Some bloody pirates wandered by and pillaged the first line of this piece to write their own fiction. Check out the irrational plunder here. [There might be a slight delay in the court records as the thief lord is abroad. Sailing who knows where. To steal who knows what…]