Part the One Hundred Eighty Seventh: The Grapplers and the Surge
The Spaniards’ response to the Gale’s volley surprised Hope.
Their guns gave a haphazard response, no more than two of them firing at once, with long seconds between each volley. She could not tell whether the fire threatening to consume the galleon distracted the gunners; she could only be grateful that they did not bring their full weight to bear on the brigantine.
Only two shots found their marks. One splintered off a piece of the yard of the fore sail, leaving a lower corner flapping. The other struck the hull with a glancing blow well above the water line; the Gale still shuddered under the impact, but everyone kept on their feet.
“Ready grape!” Abigail cried before she embraced the tiller to spur her ship to starboard. “Muskets to bear at will!”
As the galleon slowly edged her bow to starboard, the Gale continued to make her turn, closing in on her prey as she loaded her guns. Hope noticed the flames on deck were shorter now; the fires seemed contained, though much of the galleon’s compliment kept looking over their shoulders to make sure they would not suddenly be alight.
She got off one last shot as the Gale closed, a single gun with round shot that sent her ball within a few yards of Hope, just an arm’s length over her head and close enough to see the shot as it went past. It flew over the decks and missed the sails, producing nothing but an angry whistle through the air and a brief moment of panic.
“It’ll take more than that to keep us from coming for ye!” shouted Abigail before she nudged the tiller to bring the Gale in closer for the boarding.
Whatever reservations Hope felt from the cannon ball coming close died as her captain inspired her and the rest of the crew to go for the treasure. For the first time, she really felt the urge to add her voice-
No, her growl, for no human sounds emanated from the crew as they girded themselves for the battle to come. Like dogs ready to fight for their meal, they made the sounds of beasts; growls, roars, howls and even barks came from them as they summoned the frenzy, giving their minds and spirits to the chaos to come in the melee.
The only ones on the Gale not letting their inner animals run wild were those working with gunpowder. Each man with a musket who found his mark aimed and fired; Hope watched some of the targets fall when hit.
The guns took their toll when a good shot came to them. The height of the galleon’s mid deck put the cannons at a disadvantage, but those that got the best of the up roll cleared two lines of repelling Spaniards before the Gale got close enough to throw grapples and lay gangways.
For a brief moment, Hope hesitated. Up until then, she wanted to join with them and actually rush the galleon’s decks, but the sudden prospect of being in the midst of the fight gave her doubts. For that brief moment, the old uncertainties were back-
Until she heard the fierce cries of the Spaniards as they rushed the gangways and leapt down from the galleon onto the Gale’s deck…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan