The Pirates of Diesel Bay – Part Three (The End)
The wind caught the sails and the ship lurched. Cyril scrambled to the railing in order to steady himself. He regained his footing and looked back at their pursuers. Sunlight glinted off four metal tubes as they cut through the water. They were about a mile behind and gaining fast. Cyril’s eyes widened when he saw the herculean vessel that trailed a few miles behind the strafers.
“What the bloody hell is that?” he yelled to no one in particular.
Slick looked back over his shoulder, “That’d be the frigate? Were ya not payin attention a moment ago?”
The strafers had closed the gap to about half a mile. Just then, Lug appeared at Cyril’s side holding the strangest rifle he’d ever seen. The barrel was easily three times the diameter of a standard Pattern model. There were two handles: one with a trigger situated in the usual position, and another was set further forward for the off hand. A leather strap ran from the stock around Lug’s shoulder, securing the weapon in place. Lug peered through a miniature spyglass mounted on top of the barrel.
The strafers had moved close enough for them to make out some features. Lug took aim and pulled the trigger. There was sound of a gear clicking, followed by a metallic ‘thunk’. Cyril watched as the glass of the closest strafer exploded inward, causing the vessel to veer left, nearly colliding with its allies.
“Sigr! Victory!” cried Lug. He reached into a pouch that hung at his side, and pulled out a round the size of a shot glass. He loaded it into the rifle and once more took aim. The remaining three strafers had learned their lesson, however, and they quickly fanned out. Two were making their way towards the ship’s right flank, one had gone left.
Lug cursed, “Shit!”
He dropped the rifle and the ammo pouch and raced back towards the main deck. Cyril watched him sprint to the mounted gun from before, where Izel was waiting. He began turning the weapons crank and the barrels began to spin. On the horizon in front of them, Cyril could see the outline of a low mountain range prying through the mist.
He hung his head over the railing and saw that one of the strafers was just along side the ship. He realized why they’d been trying to get so close when something shot out of the horizontal cylinder attached to the strafer’s rear. It looked like a small anchor on the end of a chain. The anchor bounced off the brass piping that coated the ship’s hull, and the chain started to reel it in for another shot.
Lug and Izel felt the impact, and unleashed a hail of gunfire. The strafer swerved at the last second, dodging the shots. Cyril saw the other one running parallel to them, but at a much greater distance. It seemed to be trying to get towards the front of their ship. Then Izel and Lug spun on their heels and sprinted across the deck to the ship’s left side, where an identical rail gun sat to begin the assault on the atrafer that had gone to the left. Cyril ran the port side railing, and saw the strafer getting into position. Izel and Lug were able to let off a shot in time to make the strafer swerve, but once again, they were unable to hit the mark. Without hesitation, they sprinted back across the defend the starboard side.
Cyril looked up; the ship was drawing closer to the cliffs. The land stretched for miles in every direction, and Cyril saw no conceivable path for an aquatic vessel. A flash of motion drew his eye down; the lone strafer was quickly getting back into position. He looked to Lug and Izel; they’d never hear him over the gunfire. Lug’s oversized rifle, lying on the deck, caught his eye. Cyril bounded over and grunted as he hoisted the weapon. He was grateful for the shoulder strap which did much to alleviate the gun’s considerable heft. He propped the barrel on the ship railing, and took aim downward. He tried to use the spyglass but the target was too close. He’d have to do this the old-fashioned way. He lined up his shot, held his breath, and squeezed the trigger.
There was a low click, followed by a thunderous pop, and the strafer’s glass canopy shattered. Cyril thought he saw a splatter of red before the remains of the metal tube fell away behind them. He hollered in celebration, and almost fell from the weight of the rifle. Emboldened by his achievement, he snatched up the ammo pouch, hopped down the stairs from the helm, and ran to the starboard railing.
Cyril’s approach went unnoticed by Lug and Izel. The Nordic giant let out a jubilous roar as Izel’s latest barrage shred the armor of the closest strafer. He pumped his fists as the scout ship’s remains were pulled down by the sea. The celebration would be short lived, however, as a smoke began to shoot out from their rail gun’s engine.
Izel cursed. Lug scooped up a wrench and frantically went to work. He popped the engine casing and saw the jam. There was no way he’d fix the damage in time. They stared hopelessly as the last strafer sidled up next to their ship’s prow. Its chain anchor would soon fire out, latching on to their hull. It didn’t matter how much more powerful the Dancing Devil was; the strafer would slow them just enough for the frigate to catch up.
A thundering pop echoed from behind them. Izel and Lug gawked as the strafer’s motor exploded in a shower of metal and water. Its metallic carcass skipped along the surface for a few seconds before sinking into the deep.
Izel and Lug whipped their heads around to find the source of their salvation. The sight of the thin pale man wielding the large rifle was incredibly shocking and eternally amusing. They couldn’t help themselves, and burst out laughing.
“Yer quite welcome!” spat Cyril.
Lug stopped laughing and placed his hand on Cyril’s shoulder, “Well done, Irishman.”
“Lucky shot,” snorted Izel. Lug gave her a look and she added, “Thank you.”
Captain Slick hollered from the helm, “If yer all done bein’ polite, we still ‘ave a frigate on our tails!”
As if on cue, the bellowing crack of a rifle tore through the air, and a small hole suddenly appeared in the main sail. Cyril, Lug, and Izel raced up to the helm. The frigate had covered considerable ground during the strafer fight. They could make out figures standing along the railing. Cyril saw a flash of light, which was followed by another loud crack. A piece of railing to his left exploded in a spray of splinters.
“Keep ya head down!” Shouted Slick, “Lug! Izel! Make ready!”
They were already running about the deck, tying tarps to anything that wasn’t nailed down. Cyril wondered why they would waste time with the tarps, when his attention was drawn to the cliffs, now looming barely a half mile ahead. Cyril’s suspicions were confirmed; there was no inlet in sight. He glanced back, the massive frigate was gaining more ground.
He heard Slick shout, “Ay, Irishman! Get over ‘ere!”
Cyril hustled over to find the Captain sporting a new accessory: industrial goggles. He was holding another pair in an outstretched hand.
“Put these on.”
Cyril took them, “What’re these for?”
Slick grinned mischievously, “Ya shall see, mon ami.”
Cyril wiped the lenses, and donned the goggles. He blinked and took in his new yellow-tinted perspective. He was surprised to see that the twin masts were suddenly bare, the sails having apparently disappeared.
Slick gave him a thumbs up, “Tres bon!”
He yanked as lever and hollered, ” ‘old on!”
Cyril’s eyes bulged at the scene unfolding before his eyes. Seams appeared along the top half of the two masts. Two long blades, hinged at the top, began to extend up and out. They locked into place, and then the masts began to spin. Cyril had never seen anything like this. The rotating masts picked up speed. The ship lilted, and then lifted up out of the water. Cyril risked a look over the railing. The blue canvas of the sea was falling away from them.
The frigate had given up the chase. They weren’t even firing anymore. They could only watch as the Dancing Devil cut through the air, threaded a gap in the cliffs, and disappeared into the mist. Had they been pursuing ordinary pirates, the sailors of the imperial frigate would have likely secured their prey. But these were not ordinary pirates.
These were the Pirates of Diesel Bay.
A little different from my usual fare, but I hope you enjoyed that! Thank you so much for reading!
previous chapter: The Pirates of Diesel Bay – Part One
all chapters: The Pirates of Diesel Bay
more by PATRICK EDWARDS
photograph by Nick Kane