You can read Part 1 here.
Michael started the message down the ship, through each of the slaves, convicts, fighters. Within the hour, he told me I had every man’s allegiance.
“Perfect. Now, how to get the keys? None of us can do anything against George and the rest of my crew in these chains.”
Michael thought for a minute. “Leave that to me, sir.” The next time we pushed our oar forward, he reached out and tapped the man in front of him on the back. The man nodded, seeming to keep with the beat of the drum. A moment later, he collapsed off of his bench, into the center of the ship.
The same voice that had ordered me to row shouted for him to get up, get back to work. He lay still. The man stormed forward and I recognized him as Howard, one of the lesser of my crewmen. He began beating the man on the floor with both his fists and his whip. The man cried out, but didn’t get up.
Michael jumped to his feet, stepping as far as the chain on his ankle would allow, and delivered a sound blow to the back of Howard’s head. He froze and swayed a little. Michael hit him one more time and Howard fell, the sound muffled as he landed on the slave he had been beating.
The slave wormed his way out from under the man and fished around in his pockets for a moment before pulling something out. He held his findings out to me. “Your keys, sir.”
I blinked, still taking in what had happened. But no time for that. Already, some of the slaves had stopped rowing and the voices above deck told me that George had noticed. Someone would be down to check on that soon.
I accepted the ring of keys and unlocked my own chains, and Michael’s. Then I passed them forward. I addressed the slaves as if for battle as they took turns unlocking themselves, all down the ship.
“The crew is armed. We are not. However, we outnumber them. And do not forget that for which you fight: your freedom!” Eighty or so fists raised in the air in silent celebration. “Follow me, men. Today, we fight to regain this ship.”
I led the way up the ladder to the next deck, where a few crew members snored in their hammocks. We crept by, unwilling to waken any extra enemies. I did, however, snatch a stray sword leaning against the wall on the way through.
The moment I reached the deck, I ran for the wheel. That was where George Mullins gleefully reigned. The smile fell from his face at the sight of me and my following of haphazardly armed slaves charging the deck.
As the slaves engaged with various members of the crew, I fought my way to George. It wasn’t difficult, considering how we outnumbered them. Every time a man attacked me, two slaves closed in on him and I moved on, nearer to my first mate.
“Captain.” He breathed the word. “How…”
“That’s not your concern, George. You have two choices: hand back my ship, or have it taken by force.”
“Do your worst.” He slid his own blade from its sheath and I raised mine, striking immediately.
The fight was short – George was not very good with a sword, and I had mine at his throat in less than a minute. “Care to give me back control, now, Mullins?”
He swallowed hard, sheer hatred in his eyes. He ground his teeth together and dropped his sword.
“Order the men to do the same.”
“Drop your weapons.”
I shook my head. “I don’t think they heard you.”
“Drop your weapons!” he screamed.
I smiled. “Better.” I turned to face a deck full of sailors surrendering to galley slaves. “Lock them up, men. We’ll need someone to row the Golden Shark to the islands.”
My new crew cheered and hurried to gather their prisoners. I handed George over to Michael, who prodded him below deck with a rather sharp looking shard of glass.
I gripped the smooth spokes on the wheel of my ship. “And now,” I whispered, “we sail.”