Part the Two Hundred Ninety Seventh: Hope Comes Under Fire
“Not unexpected,” Hope managed to say aloud as she watched the crew of the Casa del Sol mount three swivel guns along the forecastle and main deck.
With every second she spent in the launch as it sailed towards the galleon, the ship loomed larger before her, the crew on deck and in the rigging becoming more distinct. Also noticeable were details of the Casa’s armaments, the carving on the rims of her six pounders and the muskets being hoisted aloft to the men in the rigging.
“It’s time to hope that some of the luck of Abigail Sanders is with me,” she said, not caring that she said it aloud, nor willing to admit the desire to have her last utterances be something memorable.
Even if no one were around to hear her, she thought it best to make an effort regardless…
She picked up the paddle and went back between rowing and using it as a rudder to give the launch a few course corrections. She tried to change tack as quickly as she could, never deviating off her true heading towards the Casa but giving her course enough twists to make it harder to draw a bead on her.
At first, her progress was slow. The bow of the launch looked to her as though every furious effort at rowing and guiding gave her craft only a few inches’ movement to either side, and that shifting her weight from port to starboard and back seemed to affect the craft more than anything else she did.
A few moments of this effort were met by a barrage of grape that came within yards of her to starboard. The fusillade of small shots produced a pattern of splashes that reminded her of a fountain.
Desperate, Hope stood up astern, spread her legs apart wide and started to shift her weight between her feet. The concentration of extra pressure from side to side working with the ballast gave the launch the ability to turn a lot more quickly, and soon the straight course Hope had been taking to the galleon was more serpentine.
Just as she executed another tight turn to port, she noticed a puff rising from the walls of the fortress. She pounded her right foot hard into the bottom of the boat and corrected hard back to starboard; on instinct she got to her knees after making the turn-
The splash from the shot created a wave that pitched the launch forward. Hope could feel the nose threatening to go under the water line, taking her and the charge with it to the bottom of the bay…
She violently snapped her torso back from the waist up, her hair and the back of her head going into the water to save her craft and mission. She stayed bent backwards until the water started to lap her ears.
As she got up and shook her head like a dog to dry, she could hear loud cries of, “Conseguir que deje de!” and “Hijos de puta estúpida!” rising from the decks. She stood again as the Casa’s crew desperately signaled the castle to stop shelling.
She corrected course again, this time taking dead aim for the galleon…
Right before she was struck by a musket ball…
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