48 Hours a Day
Chapter 127 - Compromise
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Even after he had taken care of the young officer whose name he did not know, Zhang Heng did not have to relax, because almost immediately after, two other men came charging at him. He only had time to take a few breaths before having to jump into the fight again.
The pirates’ first wave of attack was very fierce. They followed the group of scattered British sailors onto the Scarborough so that the ninety cannons of the Scarborough were completely useless. Soon, however, they were left in a bitter fight.
No matter how you put it, there were nearly 700 men on the Scarborough, whereas the pirates only had less than 200 men. Because they were so short-handed, even Marvin, a cook, had to participate in the battle. Marvin, still trembling, armed with a boarding axe, and charged with the group of pirates. But only halfway forward, he was already regretting it. Bullets were flying everywhere, and there was smoke all around him. The cries of pain, and the bodies sprawled all over the floor, the gushing blood—it was all a torture to his mind.
He wanted to turn around and bolt but there were people all everywhere. He was so overwhelmed with fear that his mind froze. By the time he snapped back to reality, he was already standing on the deck of the Scarborough. Once on the ship, the pirates around him dispersed, searching for a prey. A moment after, something grabbed his leg and when he looked down, the farmer’s son realized that the hand belonged to a British sailor with a bullet in his chest. The man’s hand was covered in his own blood, and he was muttering something. Marvin fell to the ground, his boarding axe landed right next to him. He rolled and crawled to escape the hand; the only thought in his mind was to escape this purgatory.
All around him people were fighting. Less than five feet away from him, a pirate who was shot six times, refused to go down. He waved the cutlass in his hand, an angry determination in his eyes, until someone stabbed him in the abdomen. On the other side, an overwrought attempting to reload his gun had his hand cut off as he was reaching for the gunpower.
Marvin could not look anymore. He lowered his head and continued to move on his hands and knees. He had only crawled a few steps when a hand grabbed him by the throat and lifted him off the ground. It was an extremely Herculean sailor. From the bloodstains on his uniform, Marvin could tell that he had fought pretty well today. The sailor looked up and grinned at the Marvin who was desperately trying to kick his way out with his short, chubby legs.
The sailor pointed his saber at Marvin’s back, ready to go for the kill when blood suddenly exploded from his forehead. His towering body swayed and then finally dropped to the ground with a loud thud, motionless.
Zhang Heng withdrew his pistol. He had just gotten rid of two enemies when he turned around and saw that Marvin was in trouble. He rescued the farmer’s son, and then quickly moved on to another side.
The pirates had the absolute upper hand in the first round of melee combat. The musketeers had barely performed their duties when the enemies rushed in and slaughtered them. The new recruits’ performance was especially terrible. They held the fort for only a while and already they began to flee, breaking the formation.
Of course, the pirates took this opportunity to advance and butcher the enemy. In five minutes, the navy had suffered over a hundred casualties. But Zhang Heng knew that this was just a veneer. With Scarborough’s number, once they were able to secure their positions, it was only a matter of time before the pirates were defeated.
Winning this uphill battle was going to be very difficult. The only way to do it was to kill the commander of the ship.
The morale of low-level sailors, especially the new recruits, were very unstable. Without someone directing them, they would easily crumble in the face of death.
The person who shared Zhang Heng’s view was the man with a black beard, who also happened to be the pirate who terrified the British sailors the most. The way he fought them, one too many, throwing himself into the enemy cluster to slaughter them, spilling blood everywhere. Most impressive yet, all that killing did not seem to tire him at all. Later on, before he even made move, the sailors would flee at the sight of him. Many of them were so petrified by his violent demeanor that they abandoned their weapons and ran for their lives.
Both Zhang Heng and Black Beard had their eyes on Elmer who was standing not far away, urging his men to bring him his saber. When the captain saw how bad the situation was, he said no more about rushing into the battle to fight the enemy but began to survey his surroundings, looking for a way to retreat to the level below and give up the deck.
However, that would be an embarrassing to say aloud, and he had not made up his mind.
The chief officer next to him who had been his partner for so long knew what he was thinking, of course. Elmer was hoping that the chief officer would take the initiative to make the proposal so that he could then reluctantly agree to the plan. Frankly, the chief officer was just as shocked by the pirate’s performance. But, he was an experienced old man in Admiralty who had participated in the Battle of Vigo Bay and had fought hand-to-hand against the French—he was not going to be that easily frightened by a bunch of ferocious pirates.
To him, even though the current situation did not look good for them, it was not exactly detrimental. He had already sent some men down to deploy the staff. They just had to hold out for a little while longer until the fresh troop comes. Conversely, if they were to lose the deck before that, it was not going to be easy to get it back.
In the end, he decided to say nothing.
Next to him, Elmer was growing increasingly anxious. When he saw pirates coming in their direction, he gave up saving his face, and said, “I have to admit that we really underestimated the barbarians this time. We have a lot of casualties—we cannot continue like that. Does anyone have any ideas?”
He said this while looking at the chief officer next to him. The latter felt bitter inside but since the captain had spoken, he could not remain silent.
This Lord Elmer before him might not be best person for his current position, and was lavish in his lifestyle. He was born of a distinguished family, and had good connections and resources. He was promoted quickly in the navy and was married to an even more powerful wife who was said to have friendly relations with many powerful people—it would be no better to offend him than to be killed by a pirate.
The chief mate weighed his options and decided that to compromise. “The situation is unfavorable to us. We need more manpower. We need someone down there to regulate the navy…”
Before he could even finish speaking, Elmer interrupted him. “You’re right. Let’s not delay the matter. I’ll go down. You hold down the fort. I’ll bring come back with reinforcements as soon as possible.”
With that, he hurried to the gangway with a team escorting him. Just as that was happening, a group of pirates came running towards them. Fortunately, the officers guarding Elmer were very experienced sailors. They reacted quickly, raised their guns and perforated the bodies of the two pirates in the front of the group with bullets. But it was during this delay that the most vicious killer caught up with Elmer and his men.