“Those pale-skinned boy-buggers!” Captain Leweston breathed. “Kayruthers, take a look at this and tell me what y’all see!” He thrust the far-lookers into his first mate’s hands abruptly. He stood confused only a moment, blinking before he held them up to his face, twisting the focusing wheels.
Leweston stared at the red blotch on the sea that had so suddenly changed. The sailors at the stern rail were still standing but they’d quit posturing as cheers floated on the wind behind them. Cheers and laughter. The fellow with his banner just let it go to sink or float as it would and the man next to him clutched his genitals with both hands. “Glitch take it!” someone exclaimed.
“GET ME A SPEED ON THAT BOAT!” Leweston yelled out of a sudden tight and aching throat. “NOW!”
“Sweet, suffering, left-handed dog-bitch swimmin’ up shit creek,” Kayruthers breathed. “Did they… are they makin’ that pork-bitch FLY?”
“SPEED!” Leweston roared at the hapless sailor trying to get a sight on the Arkan ship. It was visibly bigger behind, visibly gaining on them.
“Suh, Cap’n, I can’t.” The man shouted from below. “It’s changing too fast. It was twenty knots last time I thought I had it but that’s crazy. It’s changin’ e’ry tick!”
“TRY HARDER! Kayruthers can we cram on any more sail? Rig a spinnaker? Something?”
“Aye’ll try, Cap.” The man slid down the gang ladder and bellowed assistance from the now staring sailors at the rail. “Paint my dick green and call me a fuken pickle! Did y’all forget how to sail?” His rope end caught one unfortunate sailor, loincloth pulled aside, across the head and knocked her tumbling. She scrambled up her station, blood streaming from her scalp.
“Smaiters! Load up the carrons! We still have a surprise for those persistant dick-suckers!”
“Cap’n, we got powder fur two loads!”
“Twenty-eight knots! Twenty-nine knots, Cap! Twenty-nine maybe thirty!”
Cap’n Leweston lowered the far-lookers he'd grabbed back from Kayruthers when he'd scrambled and glared at the monster bearing down on his precious Dixabelle. The jeers weren’t understandable, but the tone was unmistakeable. He could guess what the clenched gauntlets vigorously pumped in the air meant, even without the exaggerated hip thrusts. “Your mammas raised rude boys. I’ll just have to see if we can punch a hole in that magic main hull of yours.” He didn’t have a hope in Hina of smashing one of those spars that they seemed to be floating on. Not at this distance.
“Smaithers! Hold your fire until my word!”
“Yassuh! Spinnaker being set.”
“Hope we don’t split a seam then. Do you think we can get four more knots out of the old girl?”
“Unlikely, Cap. Mebee two.”
“We’ll hold our fire and on my command they’ll get a carronade in the face and then I’ll need you to be sprightly on the shrouds, to turn. We can surely turn while they’re still sorting themselves out, lose their wind and hopefully have to fall back to rowing speed.”
Below, the stench was growing stronger as more and more girls heaved, sea-sickness catching them hard. Babies were too tired to do more than whimper, screamed out beads ago.
Alfalaria Isen, fessas, cuddled the Haian baby and tried to make out what was happening. They haven’t given up chasing us. Risae, Goddess, please don’t let them ram us. That’ll kill us all… though maybe it would be better than being a slave to these awful people.
The prissy faced ‘strawboss’ who claimed the status of ‘house-slave’ not ‘field-hand’, had both hands on his cheeks, listening. She smiled to herself, but carefully didn’t let it show. Her lip was still swollen from his last slap. Things are not as you expected. You expected to lose our would-be rescuers and get called back up on deck. Risae blight your children.
Up above she could hear someone saying “’S’not possible. Thirty-knots, Cap’n. Holding at thirty!”
And Kaylebuh said the best this ship could do was sixteen.