A mysterious ship being pursued loops back in the darkness fora night attack.
|In the night air a steady breeze blew from the tropical continent out into the cool sea. The sails were full and taking them with a direct gale out further past the forbidden coastal waters. In the crows nest an eagle eye polished off his ration of rum and spit over the rails to bombard the deck below. His target had long ago disappeared in the sights of the heavy scope mounted to crows nest rail.
Relief came an hour after dusk. The owlman scurried up over the side of the basket to join his companion, who gave him a quick briefing of the days events. The eagle eye had little to report to the owl that day, little that the man hadn’t already been aware of at least.
“It’s hopeless tonight. In this darkness that ship will never be seen again. I’ve never seen sails so black in all my life. Like a fabric of the void, and in the full light and glory of the sun.”
The owlman nodded. Losing ships in the darkness was not an uncommon enough occurrence, certainly nothing new even for the fleet patrol ship. Typically they caught any would-be smugglers by day, or if it were particularly fast, shortly after dusk. But the ship today must have been fleet and of a skilled crew, for hardly a knot had been gained on it in all the hours of pursuit.
But it had been black. Few understood the words of the spotter when he said that, for only the first mate himself had been familiar with any material that so stole any light to fall on it.
“Vanta.” He had muttered to himself when called up to confirm the spotting. “A whole ship of Vanta.”
The spotter knew nothing of vanta, or fanta, or phanta. He only knew that the first mate felt compelled to go directly to the captain, and a state of high alert had been posted as the night fell.
That high alert did not apply to the spotter, however, and he soon found himself below decks in his cot after a quick meal. As usual, the smooth rocking that he had become accustomed to after living at sea for years put him into a quiet sleep. When he awoke, night still hung black and heavy outside the porthole.
Something else hung in the air as well. The spotter could not place it, but immediately he felt himself sitting upright on his cot, ears cocked to the slightest sound. Not a moment later a great scraping sound ripped its way through the ship, followed by shouting and an explosion of splintering wood.
The spotter jumped up and made for his locker, grabbing frantically at his equipment. When he emerged from his barrack, harpoon in hand, he found the below decks whirling with men rushing up in a stream before him. He followed, watching in a daze as a man busted through the narrow stair and cut his way through several sailors before being pinned to the wall by a well placed shot. The man still squirmed and writhed on the end of the harpoon as the rest of the defenders tripped over the bodies and scrambled out to the top deck. The spotter followed some distance behind, the men of the skirmish all dead by the time of his passage, including the black armored attacker.
Any touch of sleep still on him evaporated as he emerged to the melee above. Men screamed and were cut down, pursued and slayed against the banisters like cornered rats by void shaped men. The fresh sailors who came up in front of the spotter did little to change the tide. Spotlights from a vessel beside them painted a threatening portrait on the slaughter.
The spotter went towards the front of the deck, where the fighting was much less intense. As he fled for cover he spotted his owlman being cornered by a man in black. The owlman thrust with his harpoon, pulling back and parrying a slash. The man in black moved impossibly fast, and with a brilliant savagery moved past the point of the spear and cut the owlman down with steel buried deep into his shoulder.
The black soldier put a foot on the dead mans chest and pulled his sword out, wiping it across his thigh. As he turned a foot of barbed steel erupted from his chest, blood and bone spraying out in a cone of gore from the blackness of his armor. He clutched at the thick steel shaft for a moment before collapsing limply to the deck.
The spotter relieved him of the crossbow strapped to his side and made for a small alcove of barrels, ducking down low and looking for an easy target. From his position he could see the fight being pushed to the pilot deck, where the Captain stood rallying men to defend the wheel. Soldiers in black probed the railing, and bowstrings snapped bolts that disabled or killed anything they touched.
He raised the crossbow and spotted a soldier making for the rigging, hoping to find a position to shoot down at the defenders. His finger tensed on the trigger, but a loud whistle stopped him cold. From below a woman stormed onto the deck with two other men. Long blonde hair was tucked into the back of her cuirass, and her well fitting armor, impossibly black as the rest of the men, bristled with dagger sheaths.
She called a stop to her men and stepped towards the pilot deck.
“Captain of the Trade Winds. You will surrender your ship to me and provide all codes to your computers. Then you may well live as my prisoner.”
The Captain stepped forward and waved his sword. “Who are you, pirate? I know an enhanced when I see one, but I would be beside myself to believe the Pantheon had grown so bold as to attack us in the open.”
The woman laughed and gestured to the men around us. “Bold? We lose one man to every one of your ten, and you are the defenders. Is that bold enough for you, captain-who-lost-his-ship?”
“Arrogant raider, you don’t know what beast you’ve awakened. I will not surrender, and if you think I haven’t already wiped everything clean at the first sign of you, you’ll be disappointed to inspect our stores.”
The woman nodded to the man beside her and bowstrings thumbed. She charged the stair leading to the pilot deck, dodging to the side of a man who lunged and taking the steel spear up under her arm. With a power beyond any woman the spotter had ever seen she pulled the sailor forward and off his feet, slashing his throat open and leaving him to fall down the stairs behind her like a sack of rice.
Voids of black scrambled up over the railings and made quick work of the defenders. The spotter could not summon the will to look away before the slaughter ended, the woman dragging the Captain down to the main deck by his throat. She dropped him at the feet of her circling men and took a wicked knife from the small of her back. The spotter could not hear her from his hiding place, only needing to see her take the Captain’s hand and sever a finger. The Captain cried out and held his hand to his chest, before being held down by one of the soldiers.
The spotter could watch no more. This far from land, and with the likely fate of the ship, he saw little hope of surviving. Resigned in that, he checked the crossbow once more. To kill an enhanced of the Pantheon would be a fine final deed.
He crouch-stepped out from his hiding place, stepping slowly out wide to get a better shot. When he reached the rail, he leaned against it and lifted the bow to his shoulder. The slightest rock of the ship caught him at just the wrong point of adjusting, and in his rush the spotter stumbled slightly to catch himself. He made but the slightest sound, scuffing the boards of below the rail.
The woman whirled around, the gaze of her icy eyes pinning him where he stood like an insect specimen. His blood ran cold, but he squeezed the trigger. Golden hair followed over her body as she dropped to the deck and rolled over. The bolt tore through her hair like a sheet of silk, missing high. In a moment the woman regained her feet and tore across the deck, falling on him like a furious bear and throttling him across the deck. His head smashed the banister, and a kick knocked the air from his body. He covered his head and tried to block what he could.
His throat was caught in a crushing vice grip and he felt himself yanked to his knees. Though his vision was blurry the sight made him almost faint, for the face of the blonde devil was the most beautiful he had ever laid eyes on. Beauty only an enhanced could have, beauty beyond that of mere mortals and reserved only for the Greek gods of ancient time.
She stared at him as one would at a large ant found in their sock or a particularly ugly vegetable growing in a garden. Though he was well aware of the gleaming razors edge floating to the left of his throat he could not look away from the mystical depths of her blue eyes. He awaited an eternity of death stuck in a purgatory of her beauty.
“Commander Myrelia, wait!” The woman looked away, and the spotter followed her eyes slowly. She cursed and released her grip on his throat, and he saw the source of his salvation. The Captain lay on the deck, his hands wrapped around a thick bolt buried in his chest. Blood ran from his hands to pool on the deck around him.
The woman cursed again and looked down at the spotter collapsed below her. When she spoke it was the only sound in the world. Commanding and cruel, but with an abnormal melody. “A lucky shot.” She gave the compliment with a hideous humor. “Let’s see what you can tell us, then.”
A sack went over the spotters head and he fell into a world of black armor and piercing blue eyes.