Part the Thirteenth: The Contested Boarding
The Raging Gail‘s swivel gun’s yelling boom startled Hope, a small tongue of fire from the barrel licking the smoke that followed. As the smoke dissipated, the flyut came closer into view; Hope guessed from the symbols on the standard that she was a Dutch vessel, a much larger ship than the one on which she had been traveling to Carolina.
The flyut responded with a single cannon, a larger gun with a deeper tone that threatened far more menacingly than the swivel gun.
An angry murmur came from the pirate crew like bees from a disturbed colony, and Hope worried that this day might be her last…
“Ready the grape!” cried Captain Sanders as she put her whole self into the tiller, forcing the Raging Gale to go hard to port.
“Grape! Grape!” Collins called to the men at the guns. The crews took buckets of small metal balls and stuffed them down the barrels of the canons to follow the gunpowder they had stuffed in before.
Around her the crew massed on deck with ready implements. As the Gale went into her turn, Hope could now see men on the deck of the flyut, as determined to keep the pirates off their deck as the pirates were to get on.
Hope heard calls of “Ready grape!” from the crew, which Collins relayed to Osei, who passed word to Sanders.
“Be ready for it!” the captain called out as she and two men lurched for the tiller, making the Gale take a turn to starboard, bearing down of the flyut. Hope could sympathize with the men on the Dutch ship, remembering how threatening the pirates had seemed as they closed in.
The flyut started to turn to port, though it was more of an announcement of intent when her rudder flapped against the stern without the vessel starting its course change. Slowly, so slowly, did the Dutch ship start to change course.
The Raging Gale would not allow her prey the dignity of finishing the turn. Captain Sanders and her tillers again lunged, and the brigantine rolled to port again, bearing her starboard side to her prey.
The captain’s order was more of a war cry than an actual word, but the crew carried the cry to the decks below, and the command was acted upon. Hope saw bright flashes off the side and watched smoke billow up onto the deck as though Hell had been opened overboard.
On the flyut, men who had been readied to repel the invaders were going down like ninepins as the small round pellets swarmed the ship, lead bees with stings more painful than those of real ones.
Hope did not understand why the Gale continued to turn away from her prey. It became clear when despite the volley, one cannon on the Dutch vessel did go off. Her solid ball struck a glancing blow off the hull; Hope felt the impact through her legs as she heard cries from below; how much distress the ship was under she could not tell, though Hope quickly imagined the Gale was going to certainly sink from that…
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