This is my entry for the El Dorado Fleet Challenge.
*clack* *clack* *clack*
Thomas Gunn pored over the map one more time, going back and forth between it and the communique he had received less than one hour ago. It was now clear to him that the Spanish were making for South America, and probably the mouth of the Orinoco. And it would not be long before others joined him – the French and the Americans for sure, not to mention several Pirate factions. He wanted to shout to the heavens – he had been right - yet again. Morgan had laughed at him, but he had seen what was going to happen. If he hadn’t acted when he did, the Crown would be totally out of position. He would prove this was not just a story. Legends were told for a reason.
*clack* *clack* *clack*
He rubbed his head, trying to chase away the throbbing pain. Despite how sure he was of what he was doing, the way he had to do it still gave Gunn a strange empty feeling. Despite his efforts, the King drug his feet, and now Gunn had to rely on purchased information, and worse purchased assistance. The King didn’t see this as a priority, and the resources Gunn had showed that. One ship. ONE. But, the means didn’t matter, he told himself. The Spanish would be stopped, the Crown would prevail, and England would gain another foothold in this blasted hemisphere. He would do whatever he had to do…
*clack* *clack* *clack* *dink*
For the fourth time, Gunn’s pencil rolled to the ground. This desk, he cursed yet again. This room… it was … new… but nothing like his quarters in his ship. I hope every one of those Yankee traitors met their end, he thought again, not for the first time. The Apollo did not have time to make sure their opponent had truly sunk – she was taking on water badly and needed to retreat. And now, he thought, I am stuck in this ship. With him, and his blasted pacing.
The other man in the room sighed again, his whole body creaking despite the support of his metal cane, and picked up the pencil for the fourth time. His pasty white face turned to Gunn, “You seem agitated. I will remind you, this was your idea – if anyone should be agitated, it should be me.”
Gunn took the pencil without saying another word, and returned his attention to his navigational charts. The other man continued, “Do you think we will beat them there?”
“Yes, and even if we don’t, we will stop them before they can find it.” Gunn turned his attention to the other man with a smirk. “Are you sweating, Mr. Bratley? Are you worried we are chasing ghosts?”
Bratley frowned. “We are here on this ship because of my influence and your name. You would not be here if I did not believe in our mission and its importance to England’s power in this hemisphere. I would just be more comfortable if we were not alone out here.”
Gunn matched Bratley's frown. “We will not be alone for long.... and beside, given the circumstances, I don’t think anyone will have much out here. This happened too fast, and no one will sit on this information. Even our reticent King acted, albeit not the way I hoped.
A third man entered the room, his clothes far more disheveled than his counterparts. “Captain, Stonebottom thinks he set eyes on her, coming fast from the northwest. What ye orders, Cap?”
“Drop Anchor, Chris, and tell the men to prepare to receive our… guest.”
Minutes later, Gunn stood at the helm, eyeing the mangy ship coming fast to the London’s starboard. While he knew the Scorn would not be here, he was hoping for a more fearsome ship than the Bonnie Liz, a ship he immediately recognized from his reports. He turned and couldn’t help but notice that Bratley was again pacing, and fidgeting with the top of his cane. He couldn’t help but grin at Chris, who had changed his shirt and combed his hair. He shook his head. He is old enough to be her father…
Gunn checked his sword and gun, and made his way toward starboard. Despite the mental preparation, doubts suddenly came crashing down, nearly stopping him in his tracks. Was this really the best way? Was he chasing ghosts? Was he a fool to trust her? Wasn’t she worse than the Spanish? This may be the end of my career…
Two bulky men climbed over the side from the ladder, and stood menacingly. Soon a mop of hair made its way to the top, and with more grace than he had seen in quite some time, the woman attached to it leaped off the ladder on deck. She looked around, and fixed her gaze on Gunn. “Hello Tommy. How’s Dad?”
Calico smiled. “Down t’ business I see. Very well. As promised, I have the information – direct copies of the originals. This is it Tom – the one find that will make us so rich we will never have to set foot on a ship again! English cannons will get us there, and then we will split the riches! Now, I am sure you know the godforsaken Spanish are sending people, so we best get moving. I am sure the Frenchies aren’t too far behind.”
“And your kind?”
Calico’s smile shifted, twisted, as she stepped toward Gunn, her teeth whiter than any Pirate Bratley had ever seen. The administrator was both transfixed and horrified. “My … kind, Tom? You say that as if you are ashamed of who I am, Tom. You say that as if you think you are better than me, my dear... dear.... brother.”
She was now close enough to Gunn that he could whisper. “You could have come back…”
“I am happy with who I am – ever since I flayed the last Spaniard on that ship,” she rasped. And after this little happy family reunion operation? I will be even happier. We all will be.”
“Remember our deal, Catherine. Do not double cross us.”
“You? Or your blasted king? You forget that I am also not here with full support, otherwise the Scorn would be off you starboard bow. The Bonnie Liz was the only ship I could get to work with you. I need success here just as much as you do. And don’t worry, you obviously have a fine piece of modern vessel her, brother. I wouldn’t dream of making her messy. Now, should we be off? Why I would love to execute some Spanish today in memory of mother, I do think we should be going.”
Gunn held her stare for a few more moments. “Sir Myngs! See our guest back to her ship, and get the crew ready to follow the Bonnie Liz.”
Myngs, smile too wide, takes her hand and walks her back to the ladder.
*Clack* *clack* *clack*
Bratley limps up to Gunn, and whispers, “My dear boy, I do think you are the one sweating now.”
Gunn watches as Calico disembarks, and then turns to Bratley, “Only because I anticipate the many gifts I intend to bring back to the King. My sister will be coming back with us… in one way or another, Administrator.”
Calico Cat boards the Bonnie Liz, and motions to her first mate to start moving. “So tha plan be good, Cap’n? Even better for us, only one of their ships.”
Calico sighs. “Yes. The English are too blind to see us using them. The gold will be ours, and hopefully we will come out of this with a couple more crew for this ship of yours.”
This fleet is pretty straightforward - the London is the brawn, and the Bonnie Liz will run gold. I had a lot of other ideas here - too many in fact - but I really wanted the story of Gunn and Cat. I purposefully used the London instead of her better RtSS counterpart because for once the London's ability makes sense for the story I weaved, as does Bonnie Liz's ability. I did desperately try to fit in the Apollo, but just couldn't fit her with using both Gunn/Myngs and Cat. I toyed with a Dover/Longshanks combo, and almost went with both of them together on the Grand Temple, but wanted to stay away from that ship.
Thanks for the challenge!