Part the Two Hundred Ninety Ninth: She Goes Down
“Right,” Hope nearly spat in rage as the crew of the Casa shot at her again.
She straightened up as the fuse placed on the charge sputtered down, hissing like a pit of vipers ready to strike.
She looked hard at the Casa, at the faces of the men on her decks, some of whom seemed surprised at her defiant glare.
She gave them the English two-finger salute, then continued the motion up and followed her raised hand over the stern into the water…
Down she went, making the long breath she drew before diving count for as much as she could. The water she swam towards was dark, the light behind her barely making its way thr-
She barely held the air that was in her lungs with her locked jaw as the shock of the explosion petrified her.
It took deep concentration to get her fingers to flex, to get her elbows and knees to bend.
She rolled over to face up, to see how far she had gotten below the explosion.
And managed to see and get out of the way of the six pounder sinking above her before it dragged her to the bottom…
From above, the bright light from the Casa’s burning hull backlit the debris the sea was receiving: guns, masts, rigging and men were falling in her direction as the galleon started to slide beneath the surface.
Like a bird flapping her wings, Hope stroked her arms to move both away from the wreckage and towards the surface, ascending at an angle to clear the inferno.
When she broke the surface she floated on her back, kicking herself away from the sinking Casa while she refilled her lungs with air.
It took a moment following her surfacing for the cries of the Casa to reach her ears. What human voices she could make out above the burning of wood and explosions from cannon charges being consumed in the flames were only the final cries of pain, more like the cries of animals in snares as they came to their ends.
Hope continued to stroke on her back away from the Casa. She only looked up when she heard a loud crack from the wreck, to see the cabins astern collapse upon each other in a ball of fire.
She treaded water for a moment to watch the hated galleon die before she spun around to find the Black Swallow. To her relief, the sloop was on a heading towards her and closing fast under sail. She started to swim towards the ship, trying to cut the waves like a dolphin to get aboard her faster.
The moments at sea passed quickly for Hope, and in no time at all she had her hands on a line over the Swallow’s side. She was surprised that the crew was not more ecstatic that the plan had worked, that the little launch sent a galleon down to the bottom.
“Did you not see it?” Hope asked, excited. “What did Abigail think?”
The silence was uncomfortable.
She spied her captain against the cabin and started to approach her.
Samuel and Charity stepped in front of her.
“Please, Hop-” Charity said before Hope burst past them.
“We did it!” she said to Abigail. “It was glorious, and we’re free! We’ve nothing to fear anymore, from de Colera, the Casa, anyone! We did it!” she nearly squealed as she hugged her captain.
“Hope, don’t-” Samuel tried to say…
Only as she hugged her did Hope notice how cold Abigail was, how her captain did not draw a breath, how her head snapped back with her jaw slackened…
Hope started to screech and shake as her grief shattered her…
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