D. Paul Angel
Llewelen walked around the large crate lashed down between the Main and Fore masts with his gait matching the Ocean's easy rolls. The air had a crisp saltiness to it, and the tropical Sun hung just above a quickly fading mist. The breeze was picking up, and Llewelen inspected the taught sails on either side of the crate. As he was looking up, a lithe man dressed in ill-fitting black clothes walked up to him.
"Are ye sure today is it?" asked Llewelen without looking away from the rippling canvas. The stranger, who gave only the name Stanton and had paid handsomely for the voyage with him and his crate, seemed both familiar to the sea and yet a stranger to sailing. He had promised much, subtly threatened more, but was nothing if not assured of himself. He had been adamant that his crate stay above deck, and had spoken to the crew in superstitious tones of what would happen were anything placed on or near it.
"Yes, Captain Llewelen," Stanton replied through an exaggerated yawn, "Just as sure as when I told you this time was coming some days hence."
Llewelen grunted and continued his walk. He opened his mouth to speak but a flash of light to the Northeast caught everyone's eye. Moments later a resounding craaack pulsed over the ship. Thus far, the stranger had been right in his predictions, but bets had been made about this particular one. Money and prayers were soon abounding around the ship.
Llewelen moved aft to the quarter deck, and felt his neck prickle. He had taken part in his share of combat, ordered his share of discipline, and personally carried out the harshest of penalties; that he was particularly adept at any or all within the realm of violent conflict, however, had not yet made him actually enjoy the craft. He turned and regarded Stanton smugly standing at his side
"And now gun boats that aren't?" He asked Stanton in as matter of fact tone as he could muster.
"Yes, and I would remind you again that it would be best for your crew to show as little resolve against them as possible. Resistance would be... futile at best," he finished with a wry smile.
Llewelen held an ancient spyglass to his eye and saw four grey shapes, low in the water, and moving far faster than any ship of sail could hope to. They crisscrossed and began firing guns that sounded like booming, ripping canvas, with one shot flowing after the other. They truly were, Llewelen realized, no match for the half dozen 24 pounders the ship carried, let alone the score of cannonades.
The shells quickly tore through his sails until the wind leaked through like a sieve, and the ship slowly eased to, until it was drifting with the current. The four grey boats came to a stop almost as readily as they had sped in circles around the much larger brig. They each had a low rumbling sound and a cloud of black smoke following them around.
The Stanger sidled up next to Llewelen, "Now you believe me? The whole British Navy is no match for them."
"We know you carry pieces of eight," came a voice amplified somehow from across the waves, "You will bring them to us or we will kill you all and take them."
"What is your decision Captain?" asked Stanton, "Either way, they will kill you. And you cannot fight."
"Aye," said Llewelen, turning to look into the Stranger's eye, "Let's see if you can really protect us.
The Stranger's hand went into his breast pocket. As the announcement began to repeat itself, the huge crate in the middle of the ship disintegrated in a cloud of smoke. Almost as quickly, trails of green smoke arced across the sky from the box to the four boats. In an instant the rockets had fired, found their targets, and each boat had been hit multiple times. When it was over, only one grey hull remained afloat, burning and slowly breaking apart. Two others were merely odd bits of grey flotsam, and the fourth was little more than an oil stain shimmering across the waves.
"I think, Captain, that I have quite lived up to my end of the bargain. A tenth of your doubloons, if you please."
"Aye, but, how would you be taking them?"
"Yes, that." The stranger reached in his pocket again and a ripple rose next to the ship. A black shape emerged from under the water and a small submarine was soon bobbing next to the ship.
"Now. My reward Captain," Stanton said insistently.
"Certainly Mr. Stanton, You'll be getting what ye earned, but tell me, don't ye worry about hurting Time? What will the men say when they get back to port?"
"I didn't tell them anything about Time, Captain, that way if you say anything, no one will believe you. As for the men, well it was green smoke for a reason. Hold a mass tonight and thank God for calling forth a Kraken to kill thy enemies. Say it enough and they'll believe you."
Llewelen regarded Stanton's arrogance and asked, "Will ye be back?"
"Yeah, probably. I'll check on what they try next," he nodded towards the wrecks for emphasis, "and just get here first. Again.
"And now Captain enough. My doubloons."
Llewelen responded by pulling a pistol out of his belt and aimed it at Stanton. Stanton no longer deigned politeness and sneered at Llewelen. "My clothes may not look it, Captain, but they are more than sufficient armor for any 18th century weapon."
The condescending smile remained frozen on his face as his body was torn in half underneath it by the plasma pistol's discharge.
Llewelen squatted next to Stanton's body, "True, lad, true. But how's it do against 28th century weapons?"