Show Me the Horizon

Chapter 1

Disclaimer - These characters do not belong to me, and I'm not making any money at this.

"Ah, here's a sight fer sore eyes!" chuckled the grizzled old man at the helm. Captain Tracy was about fifty or so and had been a sea going man all his life. "How are you enjoying the voyage, lass?" he asked the young woman who had just climbed to the quarterdeck to join him.

"Very much, father," replied Gwen. "I'm glad I finally persuaded you to bring me along. The sea is incredible. I can't get over the horizon, stretching forever."

"Aye, lassie," said Captain Tracy with a smile. "It's why I've never been at home on land. Much as I loved your mother, I could never be happy on land for long."

Gwen smiled gently. "She knew that. When you were at sea she went about her business, happy and content. But when your ship was sighted on its way in, she lit up like the sun coming out from behind a cloud."

"I miss her still," said Captain Tracy. "I always will." Gwen smiled again and squeezed her father's shoulder.

"Sails off the starboard!" called the lookout.

"Hmmmmm," mused Captain Tracy. "I wonder who that is." The ship came closer until she could be clearly identified. "It's the Banshee," he said. Turning to Gwen he explained. "She's an English privateer. You can see she's flying English colors. Wonder why she's coming so close? Can't think of what business she might have with us."

A cannon shot rang out, and a ball whizzed across the bow of the Jamaica Star. "She wants us to stop," said Captain Tracy in puzzlement. "I wonder why? Heave to!" he bellowed. "Take in sail." He took out his spyglass and looked toward the Banshee. "Perhaps Captain LeSerre is in some difficulty?"

Several longboats were launched from the Banshee and rowed over to the Jamaica Star. The crew of the Star began to get visibly nervous. Captain LeSerre was the first man up the rope ladder onto the deck of the Star. "Captain Tracy!" he called genially. "What a happy meeting this is!"

Captain Tracy went up to him. "What be the trouble, lad?"

"Oh, not my trouble," said LeSerre, pulling out a pistol and leveling it at Captain Tracy. "Your trouble." The crew of the Banshee pulled out pistols and swords. "Round up all hands!" shouted LeSerre. "Bring everyone here!"

"You've turned pirate!" gasped Tracy. "Sailing under false colors, you filthy bastard!"

LeSerre laughed and turned toward Gwen. "What do we have here?" he purred, reaching out and running a finger down her cheek. "I don't believe we're acquainted." Gwen backed up until she was up against the rail.

Captain Tracy sputtered, "Take your dirty hands off her, you dog!"

LeSerre laughed in his face and turned to Gwen again. "Well, my pretty, what have you to say to me?"

Tracy pulled a dagger from inside his coat and flung himself on the other man, holding the dagger to his throat. "Don't move, LeSerre, or I'll slit your gizzard from one side to the other."

LeSerre froze, but spoke. "Don't be ridiculous, Tracy. You can't win free and you know it. My men have control of your ship. If you kill me you'll only follow within moments."

Tracy hissed, "Ye think I don't know that? I just want one promise from you before I die. Ye'll not harm my daughter in any way, nor will any member of your crew. Ye'll not maroon her alone on an island either. Swear it by whatever god you believe in, LeSerre, or ye'll precede me into hell!" The dagger bit into LeSerre's neck and a rivulet of blood snaked down his neck. "Swear, damn you!"

"I swear," muttered LeSerre.

"Louder!" sneered Tracy. "Loud enough for your whole crew to hear ye."

"I swear the girl shall not be harmed!" shouted LeSerre, "Nor marooned alone. Satisfied now?"

Tracy backed off and dropped the knife to the deck. "Aye," he stated looking defiantly at LeSerre. "Aye."

"Good," snapped LeSerre. He brought his pistol up and fired.

---

Gwen sat at the table in the Captain's cabin of the Banshee. A sailor stood just inside the door as a guard. The door opened, and LeSerre came in. "So, Miss Tracy, what shall I do with you?"

Without turning to face him, Gwen spoke, "What have you done with the Jamaica Star?"

LeSerre poured himself a goblet of rum and leaned against the wall of the cabin. "Set fire to the powder magazine. You should hear the explosion any moment." A loud roar is heard. "There you go."

Gwen said, "And the crew?"

"I can't afford to have any survivors tell the tale that an English privateer is sinking English ships, can I?" LeSerre said casually as he sipped his drink.

Gwen looked at LeSerre. "And what of me?" she asked.

LeSerre smiled. "You're my problem, my sweet. I swore to your father that you'd not be harmed. Yet I can't allow you to go around talking either. I'm not sure yet what to do with you." He reached out again and lifted a lock of her hair, rubbing it between his fingers. "I wonder how broad is the definition of harm?"

Gwen stared him down icily. "I think forcing yourself on an unwilling woman comes under the definition of harm."

LeSerre grinned evilly. "Perhaps. Perhaps not." He pulled her from her chair and kissed her. Gwen struggled free and grabbed the rum bottle of the table. Smashing it on the edge, she swung the broken bottle at him, catching the edge of it on his cheek, slashing it open.

LeSerre put a hand to his cheek and swore. Drawing his sword he used the flat of the blade to slap the bottle out of her hands, and then put the point to her throat. Opening the door with his left hand, he bellowed for the guard. When the man came to the door, LeSerre sheathed his sword "Lock her up," he snarled.