Part the One Hundred Forty Ninth: The Storm Before the Calm
The tension on the deck of the Raging Gale made the air feel heavy, as though a storm were about to break. And with voices raised and shouting after Osei came down hard on Herbert, it felt like the storm would be a full-on hurricane.
“So what do we do?” Soubise asked, trying to fight the uncertainty creeping into his voice. “Did we just get our supplies and start repairs on our ship, only to find that we have nowhere to go?”
“Are we that hopeless,” retorted van Herck, “that this company, who have faced death so oft before, now fears one man?”
“Aye,” added Zoutman. “We’ve met the Casa more than once, and come through that storm again and again.”
“By running from it,” noted Goor. “We all know that were we both to take the line against each other, the Casa would turn us to flotsam after making quick work of us.”
“Are you saying you’re not willing to fight this enemy?” asked Campbell.
“Only fools pick fights with long odds a’fore them,” noted Collins. “We’re not damned Cavaliers going with our pomp into battle because we look good dying.”
“Ye leave yer Roundhead sympathies behind, sir,” said Garland as he stood. “Lest ye want to take issue with me here.”
“You whelp!” Collins said as he too started to rise, and the parley separated out to give the men a chance to tussle…
Osei rose quickly, and just by placing himself between the men becalmed them without touching either. A quick gaze at each kept them in their place.
“If we be reduced to fighting amongst ourselves,” said Sanders, “then De Colera has already won, whether he be taking us down in his own name or the king of Spain’s.”
Her cold observation kept the crew’s passions in check, allowing the men to separate and take seats.
“It’s his royal license,” sighed Hope. “Because he has one and we don’t, he thinks himself better than us. That has to be it.”
It took Hope a few moments before she realized that everyone on the crew was now staring at her. She looked down to make sure she was not exposing something she should not have.
“Well,” she said when she found her voice, “it’s just a thought-”
“Aye,” said Sanders, “and not a bad one at all. That may do, indeed.”
“So long as we be pirates, he’d have us at his mercy before any port from here to Plymouth. And if he claimed to be hunting us, every one of them would all turn us over, thankful for relief from sea brigands.”
The crew assented with grunts and murmurs while Hope tried to see where Abigail was going with this.
“But, were we also licensed as is he, then there be ports we could pull in to should De Colera be upon us, havens to protect us and keep him at bay.”
The men murmured as they considered that, although Collins got up and asked, “And how much would we owe were we to accept?”
“From the right man, we’d have writ to proceed with no need to deliver. And I know the right man for it.”
“For what?” Hope asked.
“For a letter of marque,” said Abigail. “We’re going to get a license!”
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