All about on the decks of the Queen’s Dirk, the crew were running and screaming. There were too many dead and wounded to count, and the Chiurgeons had elves spread out over the tables in the mess, the garden, even the Captain’s bed.
Shaundar sensed Lieutenant Sylria on the remains of the fo’c’sle, now mostly a debris field, commanding the mages to ready spells and the weapons crews to continue their attack. He could also see the gravity well of the Vengeance, just now coming about on their starboard side, though he was certain that it had been much longer than they needed.
“I have the helm!” Shaundar cried.
“Get us out of here, Shaundar!”
He turned his head and studied the rapidly oncoming Balorian ship through both the hole in the starboard wall, and Queenie’s senses. Even with Sylria’s magical boost, he knew this to be hopeless.
“I can’t do it, Sylria,” he said in a hollow voice. “They’re just too fast.”
Sylria looked down at her feet for a long moment. She squared her shoulders. “Then we shall die with honour.”
Shaundar nodded. Amazingly, there was no fear, just sadness, that he would not see his family or Narissa again. “Sails, evasive manoeuvres!” Shaundar commanded. “Hard down!”
As the insectoid ship neared, it closed those claw-like limbs to grapple them. But under Shaundar’s power and direction, they dodged the attempt. Shaundar saw a whole army of armoured Balorian warriors pour out onto the deck and stand to the rails.
Sylria shrieked, “Mages, fire!” and she let off a lightning bolt herself. There were only a couple of elves left alive topside to obey Sylria’s command, but they responded. Flames and electricity washed over the orcs, enough that it stopped them in their tracks and aborted their boarding attempt.
“Bring ‘er about,” Shaundar ordered. “Hard astarboard!”
Queenie answered sluggishly with all the shorn rigging and shorthanded crew, but she came back around. As they swooped back towards each other, Sylria’s command rang out. Defiantly, the Queen’s Dirk fired another volley.
The Balorians greeted it with a broadside of their own as they both swung starboard at the last moment. The larboard ballistae both missed, but two of the three others dented the hull. The third pierced it once more on their larboard side with a ringing tear of sheet metal.
Their catapult did not fire at all. Whether it was because it was damaged, or because there were too few crew left to man it, Shaundar would never know.
The decapitated Vengeance had only one gun it could bring to bear on the pass, but it fired that larboards bombard at point blank range. The fo’c’sle simply collapsed like a sandcastle. Sylria was swallowed into the sinkhole. Shaundar roared in horror and pain but could not hear his own voice in the overwhelming noise.
There was no sail crew left to command, but hoping against hope, Shaundar bellowed anyway,
“Hard aport!” The mizzenmast was shorn away, and he knew it, but knowing there was nothing else to be done, he yelled out, “Prepare to ram! All hands brace for impact!” just as Garan had attempted.
He didn’t flinch as the Queen’s Dirk collided head-on with her foe.
Meet the Author:
Diane Morrison lives with her partners in the Okanagan Valley, BC, where she was born and raised. She has been published in SFF markets such as Terra! Tara! Terror!, Air & Nothingness Press, and Cossmass Infinities. Under her pen name “Sable Aradia” she is a successful Pagan author, a musician, and a Twitch streamer and podcaster. She likes pickles and bluegrass, and hates talking about herself.
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