The entire battle lasted around twenty minutes. Zhang Heng managed to deal a massive blow to the enemy by taking out their entire gunmen brigade. As it was, Jackdaw’s pirates were determined to avenge their dead. Still, invading another ship had its costs. A bullet grazed Billy amid the battle, hitting his arm and causing a chunk of flesh to tear off. Thankfully, he was alive.

Once both ships were connected, Zhang Heng instantly joined the fight. The first thing he did after boarding Kent was to look for their commander. However, Worden was hidden securely behind an army of heavily armed navy sailors. At the same time, the men were looking for Zhang Heng as well, intending to kill Jackdaw’s captain and demoralize their crew.

As the two sides clashed, everyone began treading lightly. Zhang Heng relied on his masterful marksmanship to open a path for himself. Worden, on the other hand, had more men than Jackdaw, not to mention that they were extremely well-trained as well. It soon appeared that neither side was gaining the upper hand in the battle.

However, little by little, Jackdaw’s men managed to overwhelm Kent’s crew. It would seem that the navy had lost their edge, and was actually losing to the pirates. Worden had no other choice. He got a few men and hastily retreated to the lower decks. Both sides exchanged fire on the stairs, where a heavy gunfight ensued. In the end, after a good ten minutes, Anne and her team managed to take control of Kent, most of it anyway.

Worden and his men retreated to the ship’s belly, where the captain’s quarters were. Knowing that they had no place to hide, they became like mice in a trap and were extremely sharp at the moment. Naturally, Billy and his men would go after the remaining sailors. However, they were no match for the desperate navy and some were instantly gunned down. Having lost a few good men today, Billy felt dejected and sorrowful.

Nevertheless, Jackdaw managed to take over Kent. In raising the white flag, all their sailors had put down their weapons and began surrendering to the pirates. All that was left was Worden and his merry men, still hiding out in the captain’s quarters.

Billy shouted at them from the outside and urged them to surrender, telling them that it was all over. Unironically, the navy replied in kind by shooting at him. Billy ducked as bullets whizzed past his head. He had already been shot once. Luckily, he wasn’t too close to the entrance. This deadlock had the pirates very impatient. Thankfully, not too long after that, Zhang Heng appeared.

“So. What’s the situation?”

“Initially, I wanted to deplete their ammunition and rush into the quarters. However, it seems like they are holding up real good in there,” said Billy.

Zhang Heng waved his hand, and a young and terrified navy officer was brought to him.

“I want you to talk to him.”

“Captain Worden asked me to drag twelve barrels of gunpowder to the captain’s quarters when they went in just now. He told me that the gunpowder is only to be used for the worst-case scenario,” stuttered the young man, obviously scared out of his living daylights.

“Why does he need so much gunpowder?!” asked Billy.

“Isn’t it obvious? Although he lost the battle, he has no intention to give us the ship!” said a frowning Zhang Heng.

“Worden is waiting for the rest of our men from Jackdaw. Once everyone is here, he will blow everyone to hell. It appears he is about to destroy his Kent and kill most of our men. I think we should give up on taking their ship. Call all of our men to retreat! Only leave a few here to deal with them. Before all of you get off, go to the cargo hold and take everything they have, especially the food and water.

“Once we rescue the pirates from Parrot Island, all these will be essential on the ship. We need to move everything back before this ship sinks. Don’t leave behind their gunpowder and ammunition as well. These are the things we need most right now. We have fifteen minutes to do it.

“Once the fifteen minutes are up, I want everyone back on Jackdaw, even if we fail to move everything. Drop whatever you have in your hands and return to our ship. I also want all our cannons aimed at the captain’s quarters. Once everybody is back on Jackdaw, we will fire at them immediately. Since Worden wants to go down with his ship, we shall grant him some assistance!”

The pirates followed Zhang Heng’s orders by the dot, returning to Jackdaw once the fifteen minutes were up. The moment everyone on board, they swiftly retrieved the grappling hooks and started pulling away from Kent.

Once they were far enough, Jackdaw fired all their cannons at them. The captain’s quarters exploded with a massive boom, breaking Kent into half. The blast instantly disintegrated Worden and his men, with nothing left of them except burnt flesh and cinders. Putting aside the fact that they were enemies, Zhang Heng was actually impressed by Worden’s spirit. Both sides knew that this was the battle that would determine their fate. From the start till the end, Worden had brilliantly strategized his attacks, barely making any mistakes as he went along.

He was simply unfortunate that Zhang Heng knew him well enough to win this fight. Earlier, Zhang Heng squeezed out every last drop of information he could about Worden. Armed with new knowledge about his adversary, Zhang Heng came up with an effective plan to defeat him. As for Worden, he never expected that to fight Jackdaw again. Hence, he spent no effort whatsoever to delve into Zhang Heng. Other than that, his previous victories and vast combat experience had turned him arrogant. Such costly errors eventually drove him to lose the battle, eventually paying the ultimate price with his life.

……..

Though the battle was over, Zhang Heng and his men had a shipload of things to deal with, no pun intended. Doctor Vincent faithfully treated the wounded in the infirmary. Gale, the carpenter, was scurrying about the decks with his other carpenters trying to fix all the damage they could find. As for Dufresne, he was counting the goods that they plundered from Kent, and, at the same time, figuring out a way to move all the gold bars from the bottom of the ocean. As the crew busied themselves with their seemingly neverending tasks, Zhang Heng brought some food and drinking water to the Parrot Island survivors.

While Jackdaw was fighting Kent, Erik and Brook had gathered the remaining pirates on the beach. Unfortunately, their guns wouldn’t shoot that far, and they could only stand ashore and watch the battle unfold before them.

They burst into loud cheers the moment they saw Jackdaw claiming the final victory. Zhang Heng figured there would be a handful of survivors on the island but didn’t expect to see so few actually survived. As he passed the rations to the famished pirates, he got to know that Black Prince Sam was killed in action.

“My deepest condolences. So, what’s your plan after this, Eric?”

“Initially, I wanted to destroy Kent to avenge him. Destroying Kent… this is what kept me alive on this island. But then again, I didn’t expect you guys to solve my problem so quickly. Luckily, they have six more ships for me to destroy!”

“Erm… technically, there are only five ships left. We destroyed the Miranda a few days ago.”

“Thank you so much. We are only alive now thanks to you and your Jackdaw. I plan to look for a ship to avenge Sam when I return to Nassau. I will make everyone involved in this scheme pay dearly!” Erik roared furiously.

“However, I won’t force anybody to ride my path of revenge. The Quidah is gone, so is Sam. My life as a pirate is over. If possible, I’m hoping that you can take in the rest who are still alive.”

“No problem. You can always come back when you’ve settled your unfinished business.”

Zhang Heng shook Eric’s hand warmly.

There were less than twenty survivors from Quidah. Half of them wanted to avenge Sam with Eric. The other half wanted to join Jackdaw. Whichever ship they chose to board, though, these men were all experienced pirates, an invaluable asset to any pirate ship of this era.

Most importantly, Zhang Heng was willing to absorb those wanting to join Jackdaw. Now that a wide range of talents was part of his crew, Zhang Heng was glad to know that the next challenge would certainly be met with a little more tenacity and valor. Owing to the unexpected ‘enlistment,’ pirates from the other two pirate vessels were quickly interested to join Jackdaw as well.

As for Swordfish, Brook was still alive. Hence, nobody there was interested to hop over.

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