Broker Red


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1. Broker Red

Crystal water lapped up against the side of the Broker Red. She bounced up and down in the water, splitting the sea with her bow. The pristine sails billowed forward in the perfect breeze, as the crew's footsteps pattered against the cedar. The water was calm—more so than expected—and it was making the captain uneasy. Laney's eyes flicked between him and the deck, where the men scurried back and forth, ensuring that everything was properly secured and functioning. The quartermaster climbed the small staircase to the quarterdeck and looked up at Ashburn. "Everything's running smoothly, sir."

The captain's gaze didn't budge from the endless, watery horizon in front of the Broker, as if he was waiting for something. It was making Laney uncomfortable. "Sir?" the quartermaster asked. A pause. "Sir?"

Finally, Ashburn broke his silence. His eyes didn't move, but he spoke nonetheless. "Lower the topsail and check our speed."

"Captain, I don't think that's necessary. We're moving at a nice, steady—"

"Lower the topsails, and check out speed, Mr. Forger."

The silence between the two men returned for a moment before the quartermaster Bonner, mumbled a, "Yes, sir," and called for the heaving log. Laney turned to Ashburn. "What's wrong?"

The captain didn't answer. He was distant, and she didn't like it. "Captain, tell me what is wrong." He turned, obviously agitated, and furious at the challenge to his authority, and opened his mouth to answer. Before he could, a long and terrifying scraping sound shook the ship, as though they had sailed over a rock. The entire deck fell quiet, and the men stopped moving. The water was too deep for them to have hit anything, and they knew it. Then, just like that, the wind stopped blowing. Everything fell silent; everything stopped. No one dared to move, fear grasping them with an impenetrable grip. Ashburn slammed his hands down on the railing, and began screaming at his crew. "Ready the ca—"

The ship shook with a deafening noise as grey, bony spikes punctured holes in the port side, and dozens of long, slender tentacles slipped up the side of the ship. They began dragging the crew into the water and pulling the wooden planks apart. Two wrapped around the main mast and cracked it in half, as cool water began to flood the deck. Men ran, screaming and bleeding. Small cracks rang out as muskets and flintlocks fired at the pink and purple arms. Slowly and meticulously, the Broker Red began to crumble. Another crash rang out as a second creature rammed into the starboard side, laying siege to the galleon.

Ashburn shoved Laney to the side and drew his sword. He sliced at one of the tentacles as it slithered towards him. Grey blood sprayed across the quarterdeck. Laney lay stunned in the deck, unable to move out of pure shock. Something grey slid down her forehead and dripped over her left eye. The captain let out a howl as the Broker Red gave away with a groans and a snap, breaking down in the middle. He readied his sword for another attack, but was instead overwhelmed by several of the monster's limbs until two held him by his neck and legs. With a tug, Captain Ashburn ceased to be.

Laney sat horrified at the scene unfolding before her. One of the creature's arms reached up, wrapped itself around the helm, and tore it from the quarterdeck like paper. She crawled towards the limp, torn corpse of Ashburn and tried to pull his pistol from the thick, leather belt. Gravity began to tug on her as the stern began to rise. The horrid, bloodcurdling screams continued from the main deck. She freed the pistol, her hands shake too much to properly hold the massive weapon. She scooted back from Ashburn's remains and pushed herself against the railing. Her chest heaving, she lifted the barrel of the pistol to point at the nearest tentacle, and fired.

It seized and slithered back into the water. For a moment, everything was silent for Laney. She began to wonder, completely irrationally, if she had killed it. If it was over. Instead, a much larger tentacle rose up on the starboard side, and came crashing down on her.

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