The El Tívu was a large vessel, a man-of-war with at least thirty-eight guns. The man who owned it was a famous Spanish conquistador named Cortés. Anyone who was anyone has heard about him, and Queen Isabella of Spain often commissioned him to find certain lost treasures and places. Granted, he was famous for looking for said treasures and places, not for actually discovering them. From what I had heard, though, Cortés was also a military man - and pirates were clearly not to his liking. By the way he was heading for us, Thomas seemed to be his favourite.
“What's he after?” I asked Thomas.
“The map,” he mumbled.
I turned the wheel, furrowing my brows at him, “The m- I thought we agreed to throw that thing away! How does he know you have it?”
“The Caribbean's a compact place,” Thomas said, “News travels fast.”
“We can talk about the map later, what are we going to do about this?”
“That ship is too big and well-armed t'take on headlong,” Thomas said, and gestured towards an island, “Head for that river, the El Tívu won't be able to follow.”
“You're going to run away?”
“We aren't armed well-enough, and I'd like a floatin' vessel to sail home in!”
“And that's exactly why the armed forces mock the navy,” I steered the ship around to face the El Tívu and barked, “To arms, lads! Every last hand on those cannons!”
“Are you mad, Midnight? There's a fine line 'twixt fearless and foolhardy! They'll sink us!”
“No, they won't.”
“If they're after your map, Thomas, they won't. They'll board us,” I explained, “And then we'll take their ship.”
“You're goin' to sink my ship?”
“This... canoe? Yes. That one's bigger and better armed.”
“But it's slower!”
“Excuse me, but go say that to her face,” I said pointing at the El Tívu, “Go get what we'll need from the cabin. Your boat isn't going down without a fight whichever way this plays out.”
The waves churned beneath us as our ship turned to meet a far bigger foe.
“Loose the sails,” I cried, as Thomas came up beside me, “Your orders, captain.”
He observed the approaching war-vessel through his spyglass and called, “Make it rain mortar, boys!”
The guns fired, and I watches as the flaming balls of steel literally rained down on the El Tívu.
“Don't damage her too much,” I scoffed, “we are supposed to steal her.”
“Ye've offended my ship constantly, but you'll call Cortés's old mule a 'her'?”
“I told you. His one is better.”
“Get down!” Thomas said, pulling me out of the way and crying, “Brace!” as cannon-fire sailed past us, cutting through the air and damaging the ship. I heard a man scream when a ball hit him in the chest. The war vessel ran adjacent to us.
“Cannon's ready?” I cried, “Fire!”
The ship thundered with booming and cracking, fire engulfing wood. When the sails came into range, I pointed them out to a sailor managing a swivel gun. He fired with accuracy, crippling the weaker masts. Both ships passed each other by, and I turned ours to face the El Tívu again.
The captain aboard the war vessel was howling something - probably about the speed of their ship - and I took the chance, “Fire!”
Cannons boomed again and cracked against the rudder.
“Don't have too much fun,” Thomas laughed, “watch out, there!” he gestured to a barrel floating in the water, probably filled with burning pitch. If we ran into those, they could damage our hull and sink us. On Thomas's order, the swivel gunners took them out, blasting them like fireworks in the ocean. The distraction had given the El Tívu time to turn.
“Get down, boys!” Thomas called, as the war vessel fired a chain-shot - balls of steel strung together by a chain, used to tear through and dismantle masts.
“Still think fightin' her was a good idea?” Thomas asked, over the sound of explosions.
I looked at the man-of-war, the sailors swinging chained-hooks in the air to draw us close.
“You tell me,” I said, drawing my sword, “Make ready, boys, to send them to hell!”
As the ships drew closer, the wait was silent and steady - as if to make room for a quick prayer of some sort - but as soon as the ships were close enough, the Spanish leapt aboard and met swords. Not me though, no. I jumped onto the man-of-war and climbed up. The remaining men there, startled by the course of action and probably because I was a woman, paused before they engaged me in battle. I shot two of them where they stood before they could make a move (courtesy of Thomas's fiery pistols). I dodged the blow of one sailor and side-stepped another, flinging a third overboard. I watched as some of our sailors followed my lead and hopped onto the larger vessel. Only then did the bloodbath escalate. I sliced through the throat of one yellow-coated sailor and parried another blow. Everything was a blur, but my instincts were trustworthy and I managed to throw off most of the damage. I got hacked in the shoulder once, however, and the same man punched me across the face. I grabbed a banister, feeling the sting of the impact and spat blood into the raging ocean. I turned to attack the man, but he grabbed my arms at the last moment. I struggled against him.
“Such a pretty face,” he smirked, “what're you doing so far out at sea, lass?”
“Good heavens, what is that smell?” I gagged.
I bashed my forehead into his nose and he howled back, “Mystery solved - it's your breath,” and I stabbed him in his gullet before he could recover.
“Thomas!” I called frantically, shooting another man who was making for me, “Thomas, where are you!”
“Midnight!” I heard him call, but I didn't know from where.
“Look'ee what I found!” he laughed, bursting out from below decks, “The gardener!”
“Queenie?” I stared at her through the chaos, “What are you doing, hanging around the Spanish?”
“What the hell have you two been using?” she said, also staring at me, “Am I drunk? Why are you both so... pretty?”
“Ladies? This is the wrong time for a reunion!” Thomas passed Queenie a cutlass and we continued to slice and hack all the Spanish sailors on board. I sliced the ropes tied to our old ship to stop the Spanish soldiers who had already boarded it from coming back.
“Raise the black flag!” I heard Thomas declare. I looked up and saw him swinging from the top of the main mast.
He cut down the Spanish flag in one swing.