A boat was lowered down from the attacking ship, and a score of cutthroats piled into it, along with their captain. They motored alongside Caribe, and not expecting accommodations, threw a rope ladder with grapnels up over the bulwark. Several pirates swarmed up the ladder, pistols in their teeth, before the captain followed them up the side. One of Caribe’s crew spat on a pirate as he gained the deck, and the pirate put a bullet through the man’s head, spraying his brain and blood across the oak planks. In their horror, the rest of the crew drew back to the opposite rail. Only Jack and Vasiliy stood their ground, to face the invaders.
“I hope the rest of your crew shows proper respect” the pirate captain spewed in a venomous tone.
Jack and Vasiliy only glared as he gained the deck; neither commented, nor gave anything away by their stoic expressions.
“You’ve got our ship, you bastard. Name your terms and get this shit over with” Jack said, with no lack of venom himself.
“Ah, straight to the point are we?” the pirate captain hissed. “Good. I like things to be straight forward.”
Jack’s glare would have burned holes through that piratical bastard if there were any justice in the world. But the captain merely turned about to survey the deck, the masts, and the rigging. Once satisfied, he sent half a dozen of his men to scour the ship for whatever they might find. While they were heading below deck, the captain turned back to Jack and Vasiliy, and asked “Which of you is captain of this ship?”
Vasiliy answered “I am captain, you son of an infested yak!”
The pirate captain struck Vasiliy across his face with the butt of his pistol, then screamed “You will show me proper respect, prisoner!”
Vasiliy straightened, nose bleeding, then lunged at the pirate. He shoved the pistol into Vasiliy’s chest and pulled the trigger. For a moment, Vasiliy stood there with his hands around the pirate’s throat, a bewildered look on his broad face. Then his head flinched to one side, his grasp loosened, and he slid down the pirate’s body to lie limp on the deck. A pool of blood oozed out from beneath his twitching corpse.
“Would anyone else like to offer resistance?” the pirate growled, glaring first at Jack, then at the crew along the far bulwark. “I didn’t think so” he said after a long pause. “You” he directed at Jack. “You are second in command?”
Jack merely gave him a vicious look, but said nothing. The pirate raised his pistol to strike Jack as he did Vasiliy, but Jack lunged at his middle; down low like a linebacker set for a tackle. The pirate was driven against the rail with such force that the pistol flew from his hand into the sea. Seeing this, the Caribes rushed the other pirates on deck in a fit of inspired rebellion. The startled pirates were taken aback, and faltered in their surprise. Many were pummeled by whatever blunt objects were handy, their skulls beat in for good measure. Several shots rang out across the deck; some killing Caribe’s crew, some killing the pirates with their own captured weapons.
Then gunfire brought those pirates that had gone below back topside, and as the ship’s crew put down the last of the pirates on deck, the rest emerged in a hail of gunfire from the aft companionway. And then, to Jack’s horror, one of them shoved Linda on to the deck with a knife at her throat. She shot him a look of utter despair, then hardened her eyes into a look of defiance. As if to tell him “my life be damned, save the ship.”
Jack grabbed the still befuddled pirate captain by his hair and pulled him upright, a pocket knife pressing into his jugular. “If you God damned cockroaches want to see this piece of human shit live another day, you turn her loose!” A volley of shots rang out from the ship across the way, and Jack plunged the blade deep into the captain’s neck before flinging his body over the rail. More gunfire erupted from the pirate ship. Caribes and pirates both scattered for cover, and Jack took his chance in the confusion to make a dash for Linda, whose captor had ducked for cover. He kicked the knife from the rogue’s hand as he sent a fist into the bugger’s gaping jaw, then grabbed Linda’s arm and pulled her behind the bar which stood amidship. Having recovered a rifle one of the pirates dropped on deck in his haste to take cover, Jack returned fire on the ship, killing one of their crew on the first shot.
The Caribes used the opportunity to attack the remaining pirates on deck with whatever weapons they could find. Some crafty hand had made a giant Molotov Cocktail from a five gallon water container during the melee, and launched it on to the pirate ship’s deck with a makeshift “slingshot” hastily crafted from the bungee cords that secured the tarps over the lifeboats, strung out between the fore and mainmast pinrails. It struck the pirate ship and spread fire over the whole foredeck, which raised a cheer from the tall ship’s crew. Jack took that opportunity to send a dozen men below, to the steering compartment, there to heave what was left of the tiller hard over to port. To ram the pirate ship!
Jack ran down to the engine room himself, while the crew disposed of the remaining pirates. Through the open door to the steering compartment, he screamed “Hard to port!” over the growl of the generator and the rumble of the still idling main engine. He heard them grunt as they shoved the remnant of the tiller over, then Jack throttled the main engine up to full.
Caribe shuddered with the impact. Steel groaned against steel, and her rigging could be heard to snap down below. Jack ran up to the deck, and he saw Caribe’s bowsprit had stove the pirate ship right in her middle before it broke off. Some of the foremast shrouds and backstays had parted, as well as some of the main’s. As the ship ground down the other vessel’s side, opening a great gash in the rusted and thinned hull with the stub of her bowsprit, the foremast came down with a great crash, right across the pirate ship’s deck. The shock, weight, and leverage caused her to list hard to starboard, and the sea rushed in through the gaping hole. The ship began to settle in the increasing swell, and many pirates tried to climb across the mast to Caribe, only to be repelled back to their own ship, or into the sea.
Jack watched with grim satisfaction as the pirate’s ship dipped beneath the waves, and Caribe’s crew cut the last of the rigging from the foremast to let it slide down to the depths. Next, they tossed the pirates’ bodies which littered the deck overboard. When that grim task was done, they shuffled their way toward Jack, who stood holding Linda in the cover of the aft bulwark. They stood before him with questioning looks in their eyes, almost pleading for direction. He took this in, and considered for a moment. Vasiliy had been their leader until today, their captain. Now he was gone. Jack had been right by Vasiliy’s side since he came aboard, and the crew looked to him as second in command ever since his short stay began. He took in the scene as the last gush of air and debris rose from the sinking pirate ship, then addressed the crew.
“First thing’s first I guess, let’s give Vasiliy and the other dead a proper burial.”
They wrapped Vasiliy’s body in a sheet, weighted down with scrap metal that littered the deck, as well as four more Caribes who died in the bloody exchange. Jack said some solemn words over the dead, and after a long moment of silence, their bodies were committed to the deep. Jack then asked the crew if they chose him to command. No one said a word in protest as the crew all solemnly nodded their heads in agreement.
“Alright then” Jack said. “I need a repair party to the steering room.”