A brutal fantasy tale of piracy, friendship, romance and revenge on the high seas…
“Well now,” Jack said mildly. “That proves the theory.”
Gobshite appeared at his elbow. “What theory Cap’n Jack?”
“The one that says you can’t get a big fat galleon through the same gap as a slim fast clipper.”
Gobshite spat into the water. “We gonna scoop up the survivors?”
“Nah. Let ‘em swim. The sharks are the other side of the reef.” Then he looked at the face of the rat beside him and shrugged. “Well. Most of ‘em anyway. Drop anchor and put a couple of longboats in the water.”
Jack turned away from the rat and looked towards Hell’s Maw, where the Pink Pig was just inching out of concealment. Mary waved one arm and he waved back before searching the waves for the dark head of his avowed enemy. There was no sign in the lagoon, or, as far as he could see, on the broken hull of the ship. Which meant that the hidalgo was probably in the waves outside the reef. Well, Mary was on her way and, if the sharks didn’t get him first, she’d drag him aboard the Pig and bring him to face his nemesis.
Those few swimmers who made it to the beach were pounced on by Jack’s crew and tied hand and foot. Jack himself remained on the Runner, paying little attention to what was going on in the lagoon, instead, he watched Mary’s ship making its cautious way towards the stricken Spanish galleon. Her girls had pulled two sailors out of the waves, before Jack spied the Don himself with his long black hair streaming out behind him as he swam strongly towards the Pig.
“Careful Mary,” he murmured. “Be careful of him. He isn’t sane. I can smell it from here.”
He watched intently as the swimmer reached his goal. Mary herself stretched out an arm and the man grabbed for her hand. She grasped his wrist and began to pull him aboard. Jack had a very bad feeling, and wished he was closer. The hidalgo was halfway onto the deck when Mary cold cocked him with her free hand. He appeared to go limp in her grasp and she dragged him onto the deck. Jack breathed easier.
Dragging his attention back to the goings in inside the reef he saw that half of his crew were on the beach dealing with Spanish sailors and mercenaries. Most of the other half were quietly busy making the Runner fast. The next job would be to clear the reef so that Mary could bring her ship and its cargo into the lagoon. He was about to give the order when he noticed that Gobshite, and six brawny sailors, had dropped a third longboat into the water and were pulling strongly for the breach in the reef. Jack beckoned his boatswain, Os.
“Who’s idea was that? And don’t be telling me it was Gobby. He doesn’t have ideas.”
“No sir, cap’n. I thought that there gap wants clearing so the mistress can come through.”
Although more than two feet taller than his captain the beefy boatswain looked uncomfortable and a little worried. Jack punched him in a congratulatory manner.
“Good thinking Os. But. How do you reckon six men and a maniac are going to do the trick?”
“I been having a good look, and the ship ain’t stuck that fast. She broke herself pretty good because she hit so fast, but I reckon that if they chop through two sets of ribs each side they can push her free.” He counted on a set of fingers that were as thick and red as raw sausages. “That’s two big sailors with axes. Four to guard their backs. And a maniac. Just because he was getting on my tits.”
The longboat reached the wreck and was immediately mobbed by those Spaniards who had no desire for a swim. Gobshite stood in the bow of the boat with a thick cudgel in his claw and systematically beat back anyone foolish enough to come within his not inconsiderable reach.
“There now,” Os said with some satisfaction, “I knew there was a reason I sent the mad bugger with the boat.”
Leaving Gobby on guard the six brawny sailors leapt ashore. Two began chopping away at the wreckage while the other four threw anyone who objected into the water on the seaward side of the reef – where black triangular fins were beginning to appear in the water. This tactic nipped the idea of interference firmly in the bud, and the Spaniards remaining in the ankle-deep water atop the reef retreated to a safe distance and waited quietly. Of course there was one more attempt to appropriate the longboat, but even a dozen Spanish mercenaries were no match for an undead rat in a mood.
There will be more from Bony Mary and her crew next week…
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