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Vampirate by Christian James

The sun began melting into the ocean as three British battleships pursued a small pirate ship, the Blood Wing, over the hills of water.  The forward cannons roared and spat their shots at the tiny vessel ahead of them. Blood Wing’s crew scurried like rats up and down the main masts, following the bellowed orders of the distraught first mate below.

A cannonball smashed through the rear main mast, sending the massive pole toppling over like a tree at the hands of a woodcutter’s axe.  Those that were low enough on the mast jumped to the safety of the deck below, while the others floundered in the icy waters, crying for help.The first mate ordered his men to cut the mast free before quickly descending below deck into the dark, damp confines of the ship’s haul. He squeezed his way past countless men hurrying to amass a collection of small arms on the top deck in preparation for the inevitable boarding party.

Another volley from the prow of the enemy vessels rattled Blood Wing. It moaned under the stress of the beating, several ropes could be heard snapping from their anchors as another mast fell. The first mate heaved himself over toppled crates as he cursed the skill of the British gunners relentlessly tormenting them with their long forward cannons.  He heard cries of agony from the deck above and wondered, in passing, who had been hit.

His pace quickened as he scurried into the foremost room of the ship. Normally reserved as a medical bay, aboard this particular ship, the forward room served as the captain’s personal quarters.

“Captain! The British dogs are on top of us!” cried the first mate. “What are your orders?”

The thin, pale figure lounged in the darkness of the unusual chamber upon a red velvet sofa. A large brimmed, black leather hat was carelessly placed over his face and a jug of rum swayed back and forth from his dangling arm. “Has the sun set?” the man asked with a bored cadence, as if there was not a care in the world.

“No, but if you do not do something—”

“Lieutenant Parker, you know better than to wake me before sun set.”

“But you are already awake!  Captain, please.”

The roaring of cannons only briefly announced the careening cannonballs that ripped through the side of the ship. As Parker hit the deck, a hurricane-like ruckus thundered overhead, as a round tore through one wall and out the other. When he looked up, Parker realized the shot had impaled the wall where the captain had just been laying.

The captain, still lying on the sofa, turned his head and spat a mouthful of blood to the ground. He now had several large wood splinters protruding from his shoulders and neck; a particularly fat one shot out from the back of his skull.

Vampirate

“Captain!” Parker cried.

“Bloody hell, I just had this thing mended,” cursed the wounded captain as he reached down to pick up his blood-spattered hat. He carefully sat up, pulled the larger splinters from his skull, and placed his hat back on his head. Then the pallid captain glanced outside through the gaping hole in the side of his ship. “The sun is going down,” he sighed.

Stretching his arms over his head, and making sure that he got most of the shrapnel, the captain stood up. Straightening his jacket, he said matter-of-factly, “I suppose I should deal with this rival. Come on, Parker; get up.” 

The captain offered his right hand his first mate as Parker stood and dusted himself off. The pair methodically walked through the wreckage of the bowels of the ship, and up the steps to the top deck. Blood Wing was completely torn to pieces.

The captain shook his head as he placed his hands on his hips. “This is going to cost a pretty piece of silver to put this thing back together.” He looked up and noticed the British warships surrounded Blood Wing, the boarding parties preparing to take the small crippled vessel.

A voice could be heard over the din of the British regulars. “Captain Drake! By order of the Queen, lay down your arms and prepare to be boarded!”

The other surviving pirates around Captain Drake looked grimly at the opposing force, but not because it was hopeless. Rather, most of the men did not look forward to the next part of the conflict. A look of amusement spread across the captain's face and the crew knew it was coming. Those that survived crossed their hearts as they looked away.

“It’s show time,” Captain Drake sneered. And then he smiled wide. It was a menacing look, for the man’s teeth were razor-sharp. His devilish looking eyes began glowing a dark shade of red.

The captain of the British vessel called out, “This is your final warning—” But he was cut short as Captain Drake vanished in a cloud of smoke.

And so it was that yet another three vessels where claimed by the legend.

 

 

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