Part 283

Part the Two Hundred Eighty Third: Making a Run For It

And it all came back to Hope.

The rush of fear.  The looming threat from the pursuit.

The fire, the sinking-

“How long do we have?” Hope asked aloud as she watched the Casa del Sol unfurl her sails.

“We run better with this wind than she does,” said Samuel, “so we may have a chance of outrunning her before she gets to us.”

“She’s also confined by this channel,” said Osei.  “She’ll be more of a threat to us once she gets to open water, but right now we have the advantage.”

Hope gave a sigh of relief.  “By then we should be leagues ahead of her and well on our way.  Wherever we are heading,” she added quickly to head off the destination debate, “we’ll be too far ahead of her by then.”

“I would hope so,” said Jukes.  “Looking at the guns on her, she seems far more ready for a fight than we are.”

“The Raging Gale was not a match for her in a straight fight.  I have no illusions that we’d be able to fare better against her with this ship.”

“So what keeps her from simply turning her guns on us now?”

“She does that, she’d be heading straight for shore in the channel,” said Osei.  “She might get at best a few shots before she ran aground.”

“Such questions make me believe you’d suggest we try and stand and fight,” said Hope.

“Oh no, not I,” Jukes replied.  “I always approach every moment of my life keenly analyzing the likely outcome of what I am about to meet.”

“And your thoughts regarding this moment?”

“That we are very likely to die shortly.”

“Ever the optimist,” Hope muttered.  “Anything we can do to put as much distance between us and the Casa,” she announced, “now is the time to do it.”

“Short of throwing everything in the hold overboard,” said Mullins, “we could let loose the launch.”

“Would it make that much of a difference if we let her go?”

He looked at her intently, as though trying to read her tone like a chart.  “Not by all that much, I wager,” he finally replied.  “But keeping her’s not something I’d take a chance on.”

“If it will make a difference, by all means cut her loose.  My hope is that it won’t come to that, but if need be, then let it be done.”

“We’re opening up some distance with her,” said Goddard from atop the mast.  “Ja, we are putting a greater distance between us now.”

“Keep an eye on them!  They might try something!”

“Hold on…  They’ve hoisted a pennant.”

“What kind?” Hope asked as she looked over at the Casa, which unfurled from atop the mainmast a long red streaming banner.

“I can’t quite make it-  Hold on, the fortress is raising a standard as well.”

“That sounds dire,” said Jukes.

“Don’t tell me how bad our situation is!” Hope snapped.  “I don’t want to hear that we’re in trouble until there’s a clear danger upon us!”

With that, a soft thump came from the fortress, followed by a whistling that grew louder…

…before a shot ripped a hole in the forward jib.

Now you can tell me things are dire,” said Hope…

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All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan

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