Having raided the impossible-to-raid Harshtree Prison and freed Fezzik, the intrepid pirates of the Revenge escape into the night, their legend even greater. Captain Montoya promised them that when Fezzik was safely aboard ship, that they all would learn to swim. It wasn't acceptable that half of them, including the captain himself, didn't know! They just need to escape the Florin navy, hot on their heels, and find a friendly, hidden cove somewhere so that the captain can begin lessons. Read on!
Adventure One: Freeing Fezzik
Adventure One: Freeing Fezzik
I stepped forward.
“My name is Duncan Paloni. I am First Mate on the pirate ship Revenge. We are here to save you, not harm you.”
I motioned to Fan to free them. He was the natural choice. His martial skills would protect him should one of them decide that pirates coming to rescue them were still pirates and therefore worthy of death. I told them because I knew they’d find out soon enough, and we didn’t have time to argue about the morality of it all.
The men stared. None tried to attack. Stacie and our tag-along, a strong-looking bloke by the name of Artemus, stood ready, weapons drawn. One of the men spoke.
“I’m the navigator. Where’s the captain?”
“Your captain is dead,” I informed him. “Your first officer is a mutineer who is working with the marauders, as are a handful more of your crew and the so-called military. Are you aware of that?”
The color left the men’s faces. “No,” murmured the navigator.
“They’re dead men!” growled another. Several nodded vigorously in agreement.
Another gesticulated at me. “He’s a pirate too! Why aren’t we taking him down?”
“I’m with the Revenge too,” announced Stacie, shifting her sword in a not-so-subtle fashion.
“Me, too,” said Fan as he released the final prisoner. He flashed that deadly Asian rictus.
That quieted them down.
“We’ve got minutes at most to stop them,” I said. “After that this ship is going to be blown out of the water. Now get off your asses and let’s go!”
This they did. To a man, they were infuriated and ready to fight. I was impressed by that, because in my experience half of any bound and gagged group released to freedom can’t find the backbone to confront their perpetrators, even if they were trained in the military or were on active duty.
They hurried into the armory and returned moments later armed to the teeth. At that point we heard yelling below us, and shots being fired.
With the snipers dead, we only had to deal with shooters from the pirate ship sailing parallel off port. Still very dangerous—but it was a risk we’d have to take.
The navigator glanced at me. It was a look that clearly conveyed that I was leading everyone, so I ordered, “Stay down and take positions at the stairs to the lower decks! The pirates are after the green sugar—”
More shots rang out, and more yells.
“—and they can’t get that off board without using the stairs!”
I readied myself. Stacie and Fan nodded. Artemus looked like he wanted all sorts of revenge. I worried about my compatriots as more shots sounded out. I heard several women scream. I shouted:
“Three, two, one—go! go! go!”
The Rolot’s once-bound crew followed me to the opening where the dead snipers lay. Crouching, we scurried down the stairs to the topdeck.
Shots immediately sounded out from the pirate ship. A bullet zinged by my ear and ricocheted off the wood just behind me. We bustled down the stairs as fast as we could, and got to the stairs that would lead us below decks. Another bullet whizzed by. Men aboard the pirate ship were now yelling, trying to get their compatriots’ attention, who couldn’t possibly hear them. What sounded like a full-on firefight was now taking place beyond where our bunks were, possibly at the bottom of the stairs leading to deck three.
We managed to get off the topdeck without being shot. The day’s bright sunlight made it hard to see until my eyes adjusted.
Just like that, the shooting stopped.
Captain Montoya was suddenly at the top of the stairs leading down to third class. He carried a pistol, which smoked from the barrel. He scanned around, his eyes fierce. He hadn’t seen me or my team (we were hiding in the shadows of the stairwell itself), but must have heard the shots from the scalawag as we came barreling down from the topdeck.
I yelled “Captain!” and emerged from the shadows, as did Fan and Stacie. He jerked his head my way, raising the musket to fire, but then, recognizing my voice, called out, “Paloni?”
I ran to him, followed by my team. “What’s going on?”
He eyed the following crewmen, who were to a man staring in awe. This was the Dread Pirate Roberts—aboard their ship!
He glanced past my shoulder at them. “The marauders are dead. The scalawag is about to fire on us! To the cannons! To the cannons!”
The men didn’t hesitate; nor did they question Captain Montoya’s orders or his leadership. With a yell they ran to the port shell doors and yanked them open, revealing the narrow corridor where the cannons waited in darkness.
(What are shell doors? Aboard merchant and passenger vessels, particularly ones this large, the ship’s inner hull is often built as a “shell” that can be breached through watertight doors to the outer hull, where cannons wait. Not many navies employed shells due to their enormous expense, but they should have, for such ships often survived attack where few others did.)
The Admiral Rolot was much larger than the scalawag, whose crew now fired indiscriminately at us. I hurried to a cannon and pulled the shutter open. Across the thirty or so yards of water between us, I could see their shutters being pulled open as fast as possible as well.
Artemus was my firing partner. The cannons had already been pre-loaded.
The scalawag beat us to the attack with a broadside. The roar was deafening. Cannonshot slammed against the Rolot, shaking her. I could hear screams echo distantly throughout the ship.
“Prepare to fire!” bellowed Captain Montoya. He held his hand up.
The pirates on that ship didn’t have a death wish, and so their ship immediately turned away in order to present its back side to us—a much smaller target.
Artemus and the crew yanked their firing nooses, which would ignite the powder for the first blast.
The mighty Admiral Rolot roared as the cannons bounced back all at once as their muzzles flashed a violent yellow-white: “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!”
The smoke cleared. My ears rang. We looked.
The scalawag’s stern was heavily damaged, its stern sheets on fire. It was still floating, but now was presenting too small a target to waste more cannonshot on.
We cheered and yelled curses at them as they sailed as fast as they could away.
The Admiral Rolot was safe.
None of the “military” or “royals” or whatever you might call them actually were. Or, more precisely, they were part of the Bavus-Naguty Navy, but the military that Navy was part of had long ago been seriously corrupted by wealthy native interests. All of them, in other words, were mercenaries. That’s what we learned as we interviewed passengers. It kept coming up again and again.
We had always known that Bavus-Naguty, as a whole, was a nation rife with corruption. We just didn’t realize it had gotten so bad.
All but six of them were dead. The survivors were handcuffed and thrown into the brig, which the Admiral Rolot actually had, and was located, ironically enough, right next to the big white bags of green sugar in the bowels of the ship. We stripped them to their underwear and put them three to a cage. Several Portuguese had been slain during the attempted piracy, which would very much interest the authorities in
once we landed there.
Once we learned about those “military,” we decided (we meaning the captain and the rest of the Bandileros) to skip sailing into High Tanes altogether. It was clear that Bavus-Naguty’s officials could not be trusted, and a dozen of the Revenge’s finest were now in charge of one of their largest and most modern flagships. That wouldn’t go well with any government.
How we came to be in charge of it all came down to simple gratitude, I suppose, and not just a little inexperience. In Bavus-Naguty’s chain of command, the navigator was third in line to the captaincy. The problem was, he was a first-year officer still learning the ropes and honest enough to admit it. Having the actual Dread Pirate Roberts on board would be intimidating to even the most seasoned officer; to this navigator, his continual expressions of jaw-dropping overwhelm were enough to clearly convey his feelings.
“You saved us, Captain,” he said for the third time. “This ship is yours by rights.”
“I will deliver the passengers safely to
Porto,” Captain Montoya
responded with a reassuring smile and a hand on the navigator’s shoulder. “But
you will be responsible for getting them back to High Tanes. You can understand
why we can’t make port there.”
“Of course, of course,” said the navigator, whose name was Adona Mirt. “If you don’t mind, sir, would you mind sharing how you overcame the pirates?”
“See to the passengers—especially the third-class passengers—and have the crew meet me on the bridge. Let everyone know the change of itinerary. I’ll let the crew know how to protect themselves against another pirate attack—or from their own government. It may be difficult to tell which is which judging from what happened today. The scalawags may be gone, but I assure you,” he added ominously, “they will return, and they may come with actual Bavus-Naguty warships. You need to be ready. After that I will share how we vanquished the marauders.”
“Yes, sir,” said Mr. Mirt with a nervous nod. “I will talk to the crew now and see to the passengers.”
So how did the captain and five of the Bandileros hiding with him overcome the pirates? Apparently, the credit for it went to Chevor Zov. While huddled in a dark corner behind empty crates with the rest of them, he noticed something odd with the hullwood. Being a master carpenter, he uncrouched and went to the wall and began tracing his finger around what was a nearly invisible seam.
“Captain!” he whispered.
Captain Montoya turned his head to look, as did the others.
Chevor fingered a corner for a moment, and a light click sounded out. A moment later the wall pushed out a couple inches. Domingo was right there and pulled the hidden door open all the way.
A hidden weapons stash!
Such stashes were common on merchant ships sailing dangerous waters around the world, especially ones ferrying important politicians or expensive cargo. This one was brimming with muskets, rifles, and bayonets. All were clean and ready to go. As the pirates made their way to third class and the green sugar, the Bandileros were arming up and taking aim. It was by the sheerest, luckiest coincidence that the hidden door was where it was.
What was even luckier were the Bandileros themselves—or, rather, I should say, our particular selection of those we selected as Bandileros. Chevor Zov had been a decorated sniper in the Russian Army. Aledar Alemore had training in sniping as well. Angus Quaid used to win quick-draw contests in
apparently, and Domingo’s father had seen to it that his son could hunt, and
was quite stern in training him. As for Captain Montoya ...
“He was just like Domingo’s father,” he said, clapping a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I had to learn to shoot and reload a weapon with speed and silence, or our dinner would slip away. He also didn’t trust the government, and made sure his son was able to defend his family, and not just with the long blade.”
“They had no idea what hit them,” declared Alemore. “We took half of them down before they even knew what was going on. They lost the head and went crazy, firing at everything and every shadow.”
“Which isn’t good news,” said Fan, who had just returned.
“How many?” asked Captain Montoya, his face furrowing with concern.
“Five, and fifteen injured, two seriously,” reported Fan somberly.
“Five ... third-class passengers?” asked Stacie, aghast. “Dead?”
“One of them was a boy,” said Fan. “He was nine, according to his mother.”
Our victory was suddenly muted by its bloody cost. None of us knew what to say. There really was nothing to say.
“Let’s figure out what kind of damage we’ve sustained,” said the captain quietly, “and let’s get the crew up to speed and help them get this big boat back on its way.” He gazed at Fan. “See to the injured.”
Fan was as close to a physician as the Rolot now had. He had extensive training in Chinese herbal medicine and was quite skilled with injuries. The Rolot’s physician was one of the crew the pirates had executed.