One pirate walked towards me. He stopped a little distance from where I stood. Figuring he was their leader, I sized him up quickly. He had a sword at his side, a dagger in his hand. His clothes looked like a mad man’s, the black hat on his head covered the top of the mess that was his beaded dreadlock-hair.
“Hey, ho, matey,” he said, with a thick accent, from between yellow teeth, “We are a calm lot, just hand over your food supplies and weapons, we dont want your ship”.
“You know I cannot do that.” I said, drawing my sword.
“Well then, we will have to kill you all and take your ship.”
He shouted something that must have meant “fight” to the pirates, because they came at us, teeths baring, eyes shining like the devil’s. They were screaming profanities as they raised their swords.
Blades flashed around me. I stalled strikes as I lunged at the chief pirate. Our weapons clashed, my sword dancing with his dagger until he lost his grip and his dagger fell. He yanked his sword out and came at me again, cutting my arm. My sword fell and he pushed me to the ground, but a kick to his leg unbalanced him before he could sink his sword into me. The pirate squealed in pain as he fell on an anchor pulley, blood gushing from his neck. I spat on his body, my saliva mixed with blood.
The pain in my arm was searing, but the battle was just starting. Around me, my men were fighting with all the vallur they could muster, but there were more pirates than there were crew-men. Many of my men lay on the deck dying. Others were writhing and screaming in mortal pain. The air smelled of blood, vomit, and shit.
I saw Lieutenant William was choking and coughing-up blood on the deck soaked with blood. Bright red blood flowed from the gash in his abdomen, soaking up his white uniform. The Chaplain sat at the far end of the stern, moving his hands, making frantic signs of the cross. Under different circumstances, I might find it funny. Some crew-men were abandoning ship, diving into the sea, swimming toward the little pirate boat. The surgeon was kneeling down, pleading for mercy, surrendering. Who could blame him? He was but a surgeon.
Then, I saw Doug, the 22 year old yeoman whose mother had made me promise to bring him home to her. He was lying lifeless, his eyes wide open, his intestines kissing the slimy deck.
I failed. But, even though I was defeated, I could not let the uncultured pirates take Salamander.
“Number 3, have a plan” We had a plan. We fought. The plan failed.
“Number 4, have a back up plan…,” I damn sure had a back-up plan. My mind was made up, there was no going back.
The pirates poured rambunctiously into the store room and became quiet as the darkness accosted them. I put on the light and they saw me at the far end sitting behind the quartermaster’s desk. They also saw the several boxes lying about, all connected to the lever on the desk. I hoped this weapon the military physicists called grenades were as deadly as they had promised. They had promised the much I had was enough to tear down the Londinum Palace.
“What in the devil’s blue hell are these?” One of the pirates breathed through missing front teeth.
I was certain he wouldn’t find out as I pushed the lever.
“A good sailor goes down with his ship” was my last thought.