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by Scott Henning

Kate Bluewater surveyed the stretches of the endless sea before her eyes. The sunset glinted off the surface of the water like tiny specks of gold. Gold! And what a glorious sight it was. The pirate captain turned her head, tossing her great mane of sandy blond hair behind her as she feasted her eyes on an even more beautiful sight - 2,500 pounds of pure gold bullion.
The raid had gone down without a hitch. The shipment came into Shanghai to a small English dock, an entire squad of idiot docking crewmen unloaded the gold and dumped it all into a small cart. Before the cart could leave, the crewmen suddenly found themselves literally dead in the water, and that ... fabulous bullion was left unprotected.
It was hers now, and she was home free. Ah, what a life it was! Living by your own rules, not having to worry about those stuffy politicians and which one's going to make your horribly boring life slightly less miserable. There was no better place to be in 1782 than on the open sea. England was too busy worrying about their pet project in the Americas to bother with their own troubles. In the last two years, the notorious captain and her crew of anarchists had stolen over 120,000 in gold, jewels, or hard currency. Her crew was fantastic, and fanatically loyal. They had no reason not to be; she paid them better than fat bank executives in London.
Her great warship, the Behemoth, had been in her possession the better part of three years, since she had traded in a smaller craft, and hired new crewmen. The great ship appeared as nothing more than piles and piles of wood and metal jumbled together, but on closer inspection, you could see that it had more armor and firepower than the biggest and most expensive ships in the English Navy.
As she headed for her cabin, a shout from the Crow's Nest startled her. "Ship off the the port bow!"
As she rushed to the railing she brought up her spyglass. Before anyone else could tell, she shouted to her crew, "It's English Navy! All hands to battle stations!"
The crew rushed about with an admirable calm at the order, and Kate managed a devilish smile. But then, at a second glance, she saw five, six, no, seven more ships following the first. They were all Victory-Class warships, some of the strongest in the whole Navy, and this was certainly no routine. Kate ordered the lifeboats lowered and all unoccupied crewman to pass out pistols, rifles and cutlasses. She knew the English, they would give her an ultimatum, sure there was no possible way anyone would defy them; but she wouldn't give them that chance. She had to strike first, that was the only way to beat such an opponent, but eight warships?! She had fought entire towns to the last man, cities, even! But never had she encountered more than one or two warships in a single battle.
As soon as the lead ship was in range, she fired all of her 38 cannons before they could even raise their megaphone. The first ship went down in less than a minute, and every man to Davy Jones' Locker. The second and third ships were hit lightly, and began to sink more slowly. The rest of the ships began firing a volley of cannonballs as men in the water were hit by the cross-fire.
Kate grimaced as she saw her own crewman dying in pain. Yelling her bloodcurdling battle cry, she cocked her two pistols and let fire a brilliant fury of fire and lead. Men on the English ships dropped like flies. Her crew was well trained, they methodically picked off the sailors, not wasting any powder. By now the cannons had fired again, and six of the eight warships were now sunk or sinking, as was the Behemoth. Even with its custom armoring, Kate realized her ship was doomed and had not an hour before it was fully submerged. Quickly she ordered all her crew, or what was left of them, to hold their cannon fire on the furthest ship. In a minute, the seventh ship sank. Kate valiantly drew her ship up to the eighth, and took her crew, a mere 10 or 11 men and women, to board the great ship.
Kate's men were outnumbered, but better trained. One by one, men fell, until the smoke was so thick Kate could not see five feet in front of her. From an earlier mental image of the ship, Kate made her way over to where she thought the ship's steering wheel was. She found it, but also an Englishman steering. She silently crept up behind him and stuck her pistol in the man's pudgy back.
"Steer this boat to land," she said in as menacing a voice as possible. The ship sailed smoothly for several minutes until the pilot glanced back at the pirate captain.
"Hey, you're a woman!" he exclaimed.
"It's a very big gun," Kate said coldly as she jammed the pistol harder into his back. "Steer the boat."
"Not on your life! No matter what happens to me, I stick by my country, and I stick by my morals, and I ain't takin' no orders from no w--."
The man never got the word out of his mouth, a hail of blood came first. Kate shoved the body out of her way, and wiped off her pistol where the man's blood had sprayed from such close range.
She gripped the steering wheel with clammy hands and set in a course for what she thought should be the coast of India. Then she set off across the deck to search for any survivors. Finding none of her own crew alive, she found the supply room and got herself some stale meat to chew on. Back on the bridge, she looked out across the sea, her eternal home.
She had lost her ship, her crew, and a wealth of stolen goods, but she would live to fight another day. She had a new ship, which she thought suited her nicely. And so she sailed to what adventures lay ahead for her in other days, in other lands.

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