48 Hours a Day
Chapter 208 - Contest
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Both the Jackdaw and Swordfish raised their black flags at the same time, racing to the Spanish treasure ship as fast as their sails could carry them. Although the Jackdaw was closer to the Spanish ship, the Swordfish caught up to the Jackdaw in no time. The moment their ships were aligned, Brook slowed down and moved at the Jackdaw’s speed. He did this knowing that the enemies will focus their fire on the Swordfish if Brook overtook the Jackdaw.
There was a 200-meter gap between the Jackdaw and the Swordfish. Being this close to each other, they could quickly help the other if necessary. At the same time, they hadn’t gotten too close to the point where they would lose their agility as well.
The Spanish convoy finally saw their enemies. Immediately, they slowed down and maneuvered their ship so that their side cannons pointed at the enemies. They were at the ready to get into a battle with Zhang Heng and Brook.
On the other side of things, Billy and Anne were standing on the deck, having their eyes fixed on their prey. They couldn’t help but feel a little worried. The intel that Black Prince Sam acquired earlier was extremely accurate. However, as opposed to what he heard, things were different when he saw the vessel with his own eyes. This was Zhang Heng’s second encounter with such a massive ship, its size only slightly smaller in comparison with the pride of the Royal Navy and the king of the Caribbean Sea, the Scarborough.
Originally, the Jackdaw was a corvette. When put beside an ordinary merchant ship, the Jackdaw was large enough to terrify most of them. However, when compared to the Spanish treasure ship, the Jackdaw appeared to be on the losing side.
“Are we going to fight this monster later?” asked a newly recruited cannoneer.
“We are not going to fight them. All we need to do is to draw their attention. We’ll need to lure them to the back of Parrot Island. Once they get there, the other four pirate ships will fire at them simultaneously,” explained Dufresne.
Unfortunately, the explanation did little to calm the nerves of all the pirates on board. After looking at the tremendous number of cannons on the Spanish ship, they began second-guessing their own capabilities. Thankfully, they were calmer in a situation like this when compared to the older pirates that participated in taking down the Scarborough. Fifteen minutes later, the Jackdaw had officially entered the shooting range of their enemies. Surprisingly, they weren’t greeted by the enemy’s cannons.
Zhang Heng and Billy had a bad feeling, anxious that things might not go according to plan. This could only mean one thing. This wasn’t going to be an easy enemy. Usually, amateurs would attack the moment their enemies entered their range of fire, believing that they would be able to drop in a couple of rounds before their enemies got close. Sadly, they didn’t consider the fact that the cannons would overheat from the continuous shooting. Once the cannons overheated, the crew would have to cool them down before they could use it again. This meant they would become sitting ducks.
During the initial rounds of shooting, it was usually tough to accurately land cannonballs on the enemies. Even if they did somehow manage to land a couple of lucky shots, the damage to their ship would be minimal. Truly experienced commanders would wait for the enemies to enter their effecting shooting range before firing their cannons at them. In other words, there was a greater chance of inflicting serious damage if they fired all their cannons on a target close enough.
“Are we going forward?” asked Billy.
Every step that the Jackdaw took would only increase their risk of being annihilated. A calculated approach was essential in this situation.
“Not yet. They can’t damage us effectively with this distance. At the same time, it’s going to be hard for us to create problems for them as well. Once they fire their cannons at us, it would be impossible for us to get close to them again. Now that they are allowing us to get closer to them, we should do that.”
Brook shared the same thoughts with Zhang Heng and hence, didn’t slow his vessel down. Seeing two pirate ships charging at them, the three Spanish boats still refused to fire their cannons. However, once the two pirate vessels were close enough to the point where the Spanish sailors could be seen with the naked eye, Zhang Heng and Brook quickly turned their ships in different directions and, at the same time, ordered their pirates to prepare for battle.
The commanders of the three Spanish ships were taken by surprise, frustrated by the fact that the two pirate ships did not get closer to them. Though both parties hadn’t fired at each other yet, a competition of strategies had now commenced. The Spanish commander controlled his urge to fire at them, hoping to trick the two pirate ships into coming closer. His plan would be successful if they were just a hundred yards closer. The commander was also confident that he would be able to sink the Jackdaw and Swordfish with three consecutive attacks.
However, Zhang Heng and Brook sensed that something wasn’t right. Hence, they instantly stopped their ships at a critical moment, causing the Spanish commander to miss the perfect window of attack. Seeing that the two pirate ships were in the process of turning to different directions again, he was done with playing games and ordered his sailors to fire at them.
“Fire all cannons!”
At the command, the three Spanish ships fired everything they had at the same time. The boom it produced was so deafening, it was as if thunder had stuck that very spot. Some pirates were so terrified that they lost their balance and fell onto the deck.
“Incoming!!! Everyone! Brace yourselves!” shouted Zhang Heng.
The moment he gave the order, flying cannonballs rained down on them. At least a quarter landed on the Jackdaw and the Swordfish. Even without firing a test round to gauge the accuracy of their shots, they still managed to inflict considerable damage. This proved that the cannoneers on the Spanish ships were exceptionally skillful.
As compared to the sailors on Scarborough, the sailors on the three Spanish ships were more a lot more experienced. At least seven or eight cannonballs landed on the Jackdaw’s deck. It was not a pretty scene to behold, as the unlucky pirate acting as the helmsman had a piece of wood penetrating his neck and killing him instantly. Without the helmsman, the Jackdaw began free sailing and was now headed toward the Spanish ships. Luckily, Zhang Heng was right beside the dead helmsman. He quickly pushed the body away and attempted to turn the ship around.
The second round of attacks came right after the first ended. This time, the Jackdaw was hit by even more cannonballs. Not only was their deck severely damaged, but their hull began to suffer as well from the continuous onslaught. Immediately, the carpenters jumped into action, fixing the damage as fast and as best as they could. Zhang Heng swept the dust off himself, breathed a sigh, and continued to maneuver the ship. At the same time, he turned around to check the condition of the deck.
It appeared that the firepower of the Spanish vessels wasn’t as powerful as Zhang Heng thought it would be. The scary thing about them, however, was their pinpoint accuracy. If this went on, he might have to consider expediting their retreat. When the third round of attacks commenced, only a few cannonballs landed on the Jackdaw. This wasn’t the result that Billy and the rest of the pirates expected. Their accuracy couldn’t have dropped so dramatically after witnessing their first two rounds of sharp firing.
Nevertheless, their faces changed when they saw what had become of the Swordfish. The Spaniards were focusing their fire on them. Thanks to Brook’s excellent maneuvering skills, he managed to dodge several attacks. However, flying cannonballs from three ships were one too many to emerge unscathed. Besides, the Swordfish had been modified for optimum speed, significantly sacrificing their defensive abilities. When the third round of attack was over, two of their masts had fallen, and their bow was severely damaged.