The story continues
|The unknown opponent closed the gap at a remarkable speed, and as the whole ship crossed over the horizon McWhyte saw a gigantic blood red flag with two black cutlasses in the center. The ship appeared to be a frigate equal to the Clash. The upper portion of her hull was painted black with white gun ports, and she cut threw the choppy seas with amazing ease. The ship was dressed out with every sail flying from the forward most stay sail to her mizzen.
“Pirates?” said McWhyte to no one in particular. “What are they doing this far out to sea.” Had the Clash strayed that far off course in the storm he wondered. They were still a week or more away from their post in Port Royal. The dark opponent was closing the gap fast and McWhyte knew his ship, dead in the water, was doomed before the battle even started. By the time he made sail the pirate would already be within firing range. It would be better to sit and try to fight it out. There was no way he was going to lose his ship to a pirate. This was the menace he was sent here to fight and so he would.
“What are we to do? Sir” asked lieutenant Sands. “We fight it out, that’s what we do,” said McWhyte. “We were sent here to protect shipping and we will start right here, right now with this filth.”
The young lieutenant stood bravely with his captain on the quarterdeck. He knew as well that the Clash was doomed. Standing just over six feet tall lieutenant Henry Sands was one of the tallest men on the ship. As the ships first lieutenant he was responsible for the crew and the day to day running of the ship. He was well liked by the men, even though he was very hard on them. All he asked from any man was that he pulled his weight, and if they didn’t he had no problem putting them in their place. Fearless in a fight, the lieutenant had risen from midshipman when he led a boarding party aboard a French 74-gun ship of the line. With only 50 men the lieutenant had managed to light off the French magazine and blew the ship to pieces.
As the pirates closed to within 2000 yards McWhyte knew he had to act first. “Ok men,” yelled Mcwhyte. “All I ask is that you fight with me today, not for England, or for your miserable lives, but for the lives of the men on your left and your right. You men have served together for over two years. You know each others families and have shared pain and triumph. This is why we came here. It is time to do our duty and rid the sea of this pirate filth. God bless you all and an extra pint of grog for the man to bring me he pirate ensign.”
“Turn us into them” McWhyte said to the helmsman. “We are going to ram her and fight man for man. We will never out run her or out maneuver her so we will ram her and get this business over with. One volley with the great guns lieutenant then all men on deck and prepare to board her. You will take command of the Clash, Mr. Sands and I will lead the assault on the criminals.”
The first salvo from the pirates came with the thunder of forty guns and had a devastating effect on the already damaged Clash. Round shot tore the bow sprint off and turned to Clashes deck into deadly shrapnel against her crew. McWhyte paced the quarterdeck waiting for his turn to strike back. Shot passed all around him tearing his precious ship to pieces. It was quite surprising how fast the criminals were firing their cannon. They were a well trained crew to say the least, averaging at least 3 salvos a minute. As a captain McWhyte had to give the pirate crew quite praise for their fine seamanship and gunnery. The crew of the Clash was having other thoughts as shots passed through the hull. The sweet smell of death had started to fill the gun room as shot after shot tore into the hull taking lives and limbs with deadly precision.
“Sir” cried lieutenant Sands, “there is a—“his words were never finished as a shot separated his head from his body. McWhyte surprised at the sudden and violent loss of his lieutenant didn’t hear the warning about the fire below deck in the galley. A shot had passed through the ships stove, and sent embers, which were never put out, down into the rear magazine.
This was the critical moment when the Clash would fire her only salvo into the enemy before boarding her. The ship and crew had endured a full thirty minutes of fire as she made her dash at the pirate ship.
Suddenly McWhyte was lifted from the deck. He felt the heat and pressure as a huge explosion blew the Clash to pieces. Pain shot immediately through his whole body. He felt as if he would never come down as he splashed head first into the water. Then nothing complete silence engulfed him as he drifted into the depths. His lungs burned as the air in them turned stale. He clawed for the surface trying desperately to get there. Pain shot through his left arm, he trailed a maroon streak of blood behind him as he kicked with everything he was worth for the surface. Once there however, he wished he had been killed pain filled his chest and his eyes welled with tears, as he saw only wreckage where his ship had once been. Pieces of wood and bodies floated smoldering on the water. His ship had been completely destroyed with out firing a shot.