Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Enjoy Chapter Eight of the Second Adventure of The Many Adventures of the Dread Pirate Roberts--a Fan-Fiction Tribute to The Princess Bride!



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!


8.
Battle!
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We dropped all canvas as crew scrambled in preparation for battle. The passengers, bless them, were in a full panic. Domingo, Aledar, and Fan were trying to corral them into their quarters or belowdecks. A child, in a screaming panic looking for his mother, ran straight into Captain Montoya’s leg as he came down the stairs from the bridgedeck. He collapsed at his feet sobbing. The captain knelt and helped him stand. The boy’s nose was bleeding.

   I retrieved a handkerchief and gave it to the captain, who dabbed up the blood and tears.

   “Hey, hey ...” he said consolingly. “Are you okay?” He gently reached and touched the bridge of the boy’s nose. “Nothing broken. Just your pride, eh? What’s your name?”

   “Ch-Ch-Chas,” the boy blubbered.

   “Chas,” he said, wiping up more blood, “where is your mother and father?”

   “I don’t know!” he cried. “I don’t know!”

   “Tell you what, Chas,” he said, “we’ll find them together. Let’s go.”

   He took Chas’ hand and stood. To me he quietly asked, “So what do you suggest, Duncan?”

   The Bavus-Naguty ships were an hour away yet. It was clear they were beelining directly for us.

   “This is a big ship, Captain. We’re easily as large as that destroyer, and probably twice as big as its companion—a bilander, if it’s anything. I don’t think we can outrun them. They have the weather gauge and the angle on us. So ...”

   He nodded. “I think I know where you’re going. Keep the crew cracking. I’ll be right back.”

   He emerged ten minutes later. I was at the bow by that point, scope in hand. “Back with Mom,” he announced. “Even got a smile out of him.” He gazed out at the warships. “Bilander, you say?”

   I’d been watching the ships and assisting the bosun. All were anxious for a plan, which I believed I had formulated.

   “Captain Cummerbund,” I began, “faced a similar predicament. Let’s change course, Captain. When we’re ready, let’s head directly for those boats—the bilander in particular. They’ve got all the advantages, so let’s head right at them. A game of chicken, as it were. We are as armed up as that destroyer. We have to be with all that green sugar below us! They won’t expect a fight. They expect us to run. They expect us to be confused and frightened and ignorant as to what we should do. Let’s see how badly they want to die for God and country.”

   He glanced out at the ships for a considered moment, then back at me. “The bilander is a couple hundred yards ahead. The big boat will struggle not to shoot across its bow.”

   I gave a dark grin. “Exactly.”






Twenty minutes to battle. We had turned hard to port, aimed right at the warships, the bilander in particular.

   “Ahoy!” called out the crow after his whistle. “Third ship on the horizon! Approaching fast!”

   “Son of a bitch!” I murmured.

   The wind, which had since kicked up, was at our backs. Gun crews were ready. The passengers were as safe as they were going to get.

   “Pirate flag!” bellowed the crow. “Pirate flag on the horizon!”

   “What the—?” I hurried to the mizzenmast and began climbing it for the crow’s nest. Captain Montoya, Stacie, Fan, Rynag, and Aledar had all crowded against the port railing, scopes extended. Down there, there was nothing to see. They hurriedly turned to watch as I gained the nest and extended my scope.

   “Well, cleave me to the brisket! It’s ... the Revenge! The Revenge!”

   It was a strange but wonderful thing watching Bavus-Naguty sailors, and the Rolot’s new bosun, cheering. But they were, along with the Bandileros. The passengers were stowed in their bunks and cabins, but I’m sure they would have cheered too.

   “Are you sure, Paloni?” demanded the captain.

   “I’m sure, sir!” I shouted back. “Woohooo!”

   Captain Montoya bounded up to the bridgedeck where the navigator manned the wheel. I was busy clambering back down the mast. The bosun, ready to put our plan in action, shouted out, “Prepare for battle!”

   The Revenge was sailing straight for us!

   How did they know we were in trouble? How did they find us?

   It didn’t matter. The Bavus-Naguty warships bearing down on us now had two real problems to contend with, not one.

   I rushed up to the bridgedeck. Bandileros were up here, or at the bow, or busy helping sailors with the sheets. More sailors were belowdecks at the cannons. We may have been a hodge-podge crew, but we were crackerjack in that moment, ready for anything, and working together like we had been crewmates for years.

   “Ever done this before, sailor?” I asked the navigator.

   “Never, sir!” he returned.

   I forced a grin. “Neither have I.”

   At that moment the big warship opened fire. The cannonshot zoomed and struck open water well away from us. The splash skied high in a thin column and dissipated a moment later.

   “What the hell are they doing?” yelled the navigator, hanging tight to the wheel.

   “They’re trying to scare us,” I answered, unsure but confident. “They’re bloody well trying to scare us!”

   The big boat opened fire again. Again—water splashed well away from us. The warship and its smaller companion were still a good ten minutes out of range. The Revenge, in the meantime, was growing visibly closer, swiftly so.

   “Keep a bead on the bilander,” I ordered the navigator.

   “Yes, sir!” he shouted.

   Captain Montoya, who had since left the deck, returned, bounding up the stairs.

   “Bilander adjusting course!” shouted the helmsman along with Angus, who was helping him.

   “Adjust with him!” ordered the captain. “Stay aimed right at his bowsprit!”

   The destroyer sent another booming round at us.

   “At this rate,” shouted Quaid, “they’ll be out of ammunition before they even get to us!”

   “Who’s manning the cannons?” I asked.

   “Hindy, Stacie, and plenty of Rolot’s finest,” replied the captain. “We’re as ready as we’re ever going to get.”

   “Prepare to fire!” I called.

   “Preparing to fire!” came the answer from around the deck.

   “Keep us aimed at that bilander and fire when ready!” yelled Captain Montoya.

   The bow cannons lit up with a deafening double-BOOM! that shook the deck.

   The first cannonball struck water just a few yards from the bilander’s bow. The other slammed dead center into it. Wood splinters exploded from it; but it appeared the shot didn’t pierce it. We were still a couple minutes away from being able to do that. Still, it sent a clear message, and the bilander’s crew did as we wanted them to do: they adjusted course to slow down and hug up close to the destroyer.

   “Adjusting course!” yelled the navigator.

   The big destroyer let out another volley. The splashing water was much closer, no more than a hundred yards out. They were taking real chances, almost shooting across the bilander’s bow. Just as we wanted.

   The Rolot’s big bow cannons fired. Both shots this time struck dead-center in the smaller ship’s bow. Exploding wood and smoke obscured the view through my scope.

   “Double-time on the sheets, boys!” yelled the bosun. “Let’s make ‘em huddle in the shadow of their big brother!”

   The destroyer fired again. But this time it wasn’t at us—but the Revenge!

   We sent another volley at the bilander. The shots tore through their sheets, leaving perfectly round holes in them. Their sailors crouched with each blast. They came up increasingly panicked as they worked to get their boat closer to that big destroyer, which fired again at the Revenge.

   The destroyer opened fire—at us. One of the shots slammed into our hull. The entire ship jolted. From belowdecks I could hear passengers shout and scream.

   “Straight on!” I yelled.

   Captain Montoya had gone silent. I gazed at him.

   He looked like he did when facing down Rugen and his men outside Harshtree prison. Controlled, ready rage. I think he was taking it quite personally that the Bavus-Naguty Navy was firing at the Revenge. He looked ready to board both ships and gore each and every sailor.

   The Revenge was catching up to the big destroyer very quickly. Its reputation for being one of the fastest ships in the Seven Seas was well deserved. I felt great pride at seeing its full sails taking up more and more of the horizon, watching the ocean break white against its sharp bow. They had a bead on the destroyer and weren’t going to let it go.

   The destroyer released another volley at them—at the same moment that Revenge’s bow cannon lit up. The shot was true, slamming against the big boat’s stern and sending up an angry mist of wood. It fired again—my guess was that Ryan Ymoro and probably Kalvban were manning the cannons—and again the stern of the destroyer was briefly shadowed by pieces of its hull. Revenge released yet another volley just as the destroyer fired back—at the same time we did.

   Both our shots were true, slamming into the bow. More of its stern blew into the air.

   “We’ve punched a hole in both ends of her!” yelled the bosun as the bilander finally decided to get into the fight, firing at us. Both shots tore into our sheets, one no more than seven feet above me. I could hear the damn thing coming.

   “They want a fight, we’ll give ‘em a fight!” yelled Aledar.

   “Keep the bead on the bilander!” Captain Montoya shouted just as it fired again. One of the shots struck our bow; the other sailed portside, touching nothing. We fired back, and the bilander had new problems, because a small explosion rocked the vessel, a big ball of flame catching its foremast. Rolot’s crew, and the Bandileros, let out a yell. The bilander’s bow cannons were out of commission.

   It was no more than a couple hundred yards out now. We fired again, and another explosion sent another billowing ball of flame into the air. The boat shuddered, angry smoke tailing from its quarterdeck, and turned hard to starboard to escape, exposing its side. We fired again—so did the big boat at us—and the bilander seemed to cave in on itself just before exploding in a titanic fireball that knocked several of us off our feet, me included. We had hit their portside; their own destroyer had struck their starboard. I heard the Revenge open fire again, but couldn’t tell if it struck paydirt or not.

   “New heading!” I yelled over the cheering. “Straight at the destroyer!”

   “Answering new heading!” returned the helmsman. The Rolot turned to face its similarly sized enemy. The bilander was sinking, survivors unknown.

   But the big Bavus-Naguty warship had lost its will to fight. It turned hard to starboard, exposing itself to both us and the Revenge, but the captain stayed his hand. The Bandileros and Rolot’s crew cheered loudly, pumping their fists in the air and hugging. Revenge sent on more volley at them, striking paydirt, but then let them sail away.

   I watched Captain Montoya embrace Aledar, then Fan, then Stacie, who had rushed up to the topdeck, and knew another chapter had been added to the Dread Pirate’s legend.


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