Friday, July 17, 2015

164 - A Sound Like a Drowning Man

His ship sank as fast as it burned as Kupepah stood up and bellowed ‘ABANDON SHIP!”  He turned to his First and saluted and then waved him away, thrusting his sword and his farlookers into the Lieutenant’s hands.  “Go! There’s no saving her!  To the boats.  Tell mah wife that her fortune did us proud!”

“Sah!” Lieutenant Zekayah bellowed on the ‘to the boats’ order, clutching the Captain’s sword, then as Kupepah turned away to go down with his ship, smashed his captain in the back of the head with the hilt, knocking him down. He hoisted him up and threw him over his back as another flight of catapult bolts and canisters howled by, some hitting and adding to the flames and confusion, some missing by the splashes. “CAPTAIN’S DOWN! Coming through!”

Those who could swim were already obeying the order, jumping from their posts as the schooner groaned and settled, wallowing. They wouldn’t be able to launch but one of the boats, but perhaps the swimmers might be close enough to the shore that they could make it, supported by that one boat.

In the distance the barqantine disappeared as she fell over the horizon, fleeing and a new command rapped out of the monster Arkan ship.

The charred and still burning remains of the Sathrise, with a noise like a drowning man but a half-hundred times bigger, gurgled under the surface, throwing up belches of melted tar and pitch.  The bosun had managed to launch the pinnace before the flaming mains’l dragged it under, so they had two small boats to save swimmers, or those who’d grabbed casks or planks and floated.

Lieutenant Zekayah settled the unconscious captain onto the floorboards, sword and farlookers on his chest, as a handful of boats dropped like water-spiders from the Arkan ship, their pale oars cutting into the swirls of oily seawater, spreading from the wreckage.

“Damn that fool, Aymberkromy.” He said to the air.  “I’ll say it out loud. With two we’d a had a chancet.”

The Arkan boats were hauling survivors out of the water like so many mangy drowning pups and the Lieutenant relaxed, seeing that.  He’d feared, hearing how fierce the Arkans and other Alliance forces were, that they’d just spear people where they swam.

He stood up, waving his filthy white neck-cloth in the air over his head. “Surrender! We surrender!”

“I hope they understand us’all, L’tenant,” one of the midshipmen said quietly.

“It seems that some do.”

No comments:

Post a Comment