*Wordcount: 943 words.

The seas were choppy, stirred into a frenzy by the winds and rain. The clouds blocked out the midday sun, leaving the world dark. A ship rocked on the waves, the crew scurrying throughout securing ropes and cargo.
The ship belonged to that of the imperial English navy, and was a fine vessel. Boasting 21 broadsides as well as front and rear swivel cannons. It was a force to be reckoned with, and crewed with seasoned sailors to boot.
Of course, in this kind of weather, all manner of ships could get the drop on them.
Like the pirates that were slowly closing in on them.

“This doesn’t feel right!”
“The storm?”
“No, there’s something else! I can feel it in the air, captain.”
“Now isn’t the time for feelings Adrien, we have a storm to weather!” The Captain needed his crew focused.
“Aye aye!”
The first mate was a reliable man, as hard and rough as the sea, but he had steered the captain well with his ‘feelings’ before; his intuition was top-notch.
The Captain had much to be concerned about, both the storm and Adrien’s sense of foreboding. Something felt off, and the Captain had seen many terrible things happen in a storm like this. He couldn’t do much about it, save think of home. His wife was waiting for him, and two troublesome boys, just like their father. If they could, he would lief go home immediately.
But he was a naval man, and he was at home well enough on the sea.
That being said, the home with the family didn’t flood nearly as much.

The call came only briefly before the impact.
“Rocks! Right, go right! The rocks!”
The shuddering, splintering impact knocked them all off balance and more than a few off their feet. These conditions made visibility nigh impossible, and the jagged rocks had seemingly come out of nowhere.
“God damn it!”
“They rose from the sea!”
“God save us!”
“We’re stranded! Sinking!”
“Alright enough! Quiet!”
The Captain had to shout this more than a few times before everyone heard, and once everyone had their bearings, and some orders, things smoothed out.
They weren’t sinking, luckily enough, but they were wedged in the rocks. The lower most deck was flooding, but they were able to patch up the holes and save some cargo.
Things were looking grim, and it might be days before another ship took this route. Weeks, if they were unlucky.
Then came the second call, and it chilled the Captain to the bone.

“Pirates! God save us, there’s pirates!”
Like this, there was little they could do. They couldn’t manoeuvre away, and a number of their cannons had been damaged. Of course, they could still open fire. The ship was approaching off a broadside, but after their first shot it was unlikely they could land another.
Well, the Captain would be damned if he just let the pirates take them.
“What’re your orders, captain?”
“Load the cannons and prepare to fire on my command, and tell the men to arm themselves. We will fight to the last.”
The first mate gave him a knowing look. “Aye aye, captain. It’s been an honour. Men!”
While Adrien gave the orders, the Captain fetched his arms from his private cabin.
A sterling rapier, and a pair of gilded flintlocks. They had been a gift, on the occasion of his promotion to captain.
For a moment, his eyes misted. If this was to be his last stand, it was a damn honour to make it with these fine weapons.
He stepped out of the cabin, and saw the men were ready. Adrien told him as much. The pirates were close, and he waited to give the command.

The pirates clearly thought the ship was fully out of commission, and they were approaching carelessly. This would be their best chance, and the Captain prepared to give the command to fire.
Not yet…
Not yet…

The crack of the cannons cut through the sounds of the storm, and the cannon balls hurled themselves at dizzying speed. He saw them hit their mark, though he couldn’t say how many. Only a few moments would tell if it had been enough.
The longer they watched, the more the Captain’s heart sunk. They were turning, to return fire.
“Hit the deck!”
The cannonballs ripped into their ship, and a few of the men were injured. Fewer were killed, but the loss was felt deeply.
The pirates approached, preparing to board.
“Men, ready yourselves! Let’s show them the full might of the royal navy!”
A roar sounded from each man, willing to fight and die for their crew and their queen.

They clashed viciously, and steel bit into steel while flintlock fire lit up the dark deck. Men cried and bled, and the Captain could not tell if it was his crew or the pirates.
The Captain himself fought well, his years of practice and experience showing in how he parried and cut down his foes.
After minutes of fighting, the Captain could see they were losing. Everywhere he looked, he saw his crew being slain. He saw Adrien impaled on a pirate’s sword.
His heart wept, and still he fought on.
They would fight to the last, in the name of the queen.

“Cap’n, that’s all of ‘em.”
“Well check again, ye can never be sure with these naval dogs.”
“Aye cap’n”.
“We have their captain, he fought like a demon!”
“Throw ‘im overboard. Let the sea take him.”
“Aye, cap’n.”

As the cold seawater filled his lungs, and the burning spread through his chest, the Captain’s last thoughts were of home.


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