Part 185

Part the One Hundred Eighty Fifth:  Into the Heart of the Darkness

The thinnest sliver of sun was above the horizon when the Raging Gale turned to port.

The galleons were in a cluster directly off the bow to the west, their masts barely discernable in what little light there was.  The only lights Hope could see were from the coals in the brazier on deck that they used to quickly light the slow matches for the guns.

“How will we see them?” she asked Abigail in hushed tones.

“Speak up, will ye?” her captain replied aloud.  “We’re not creeping up on them on land like brigands, they can’t hear us this far out.”

“I said, how will we see them?”

“Dead reckoning, through close passage and seeing their outlines against the gloaming and the stars.  And if our luck holds the way it has so far, we’ll see them well before they know we’re on them and wound the rear one to take aside from the others.”

“And you don’t think they’ll try to save the straggler?” Hope asked as she peered towards the darkened horizon.

“If they are tied down with treasure, they’ll be less likely to change course in the dark.  And if we get her unloaded and ready to go before dawn, we’ll have a head start over them before they can come back for her.”

“With luck like ours, we should be done well before they come for us.”

“Aye, now that’s the spirit,” said Abigail.  “Ye finally got into the swing of it.”

“Maybe it just took me this long to really appreciate all this.  I’m finally starting to do it.”

“Do what, now?”

“To enjoy my life,” Hope answered after a pause, allowing for the sea air to fill her lungs.  “Back in the Cay, you made me rethink everything, to open my mind to things beyond the few choices I had thrust upon me.”

“And these choices, they be to your liking then?”

“Truth be told, it’s having the choices that were most to my liking.  The fact that I’m here, and that I want to be here; that’s a treasure that can’t be bested.”

“Ye think so?”  asked Abigail.  “I’ll remind ye of these words once you have your share of the Little Plate Fleet; then tell me which is worth more!”

At that moment, the stars before the Gale started to disappear.  A few on the horizon went out, then more faded from the sky, leaving behind a set of dark empty spots.

“Now we need quiet,” Abigail said softly.  “Pass up the line to be ready to fire on my command,” she said to Osei, who nodded and signaled down to the main deck her orders.

The encroaching dark took the shape of the galleons of the Little Plate Fleet, coming into view by removing parts of the sky.  Hope could now make out the outlines of the ships; she wasn’t sure if the terror she felt was because of what little she could see of them or how much of them she could not-

She caught herself; no, it wasn’t terror.

It was excitement, the thrill of the engagement.

She actually felt herself looking forward to this battle…

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All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan

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