The corridor was unearthly still. Two of the Fomorian sailors looked uncomfortable, though the man calling himself Dr. Hardy maintained a superior look on his face, even if panic shone for a moment in his eyes. “I … I am a fraud?” Hardy said in tight, thin voice. “Where is your proof?”
Hunter nodded, folding his arms over his chest, accepting the challenge, “simple enough, really. You worked your way onto this ship to gain a Senior Lieutenant’s position. That takes time and dedication. Something that would never allow you the opportunity to gain access to the items stolen from the Fair Winds, nor to examine them, let alone appear on Port Signal to sell them. Or, specifically, in a stroke of sheer idiocy, sell the very formula you’re hunting. No matter who or what else you are right now, you are not this ‘Dr. Hardy’.”
The gunman’s hands shook with anger, knuckles turning white as he gripped the revolver. He forced a thin smile upon his face. “Bravo, Captain. Excellent deduction. My real name is Brin Nash. However, I am the one with the weapon, yes? So who here is the fool?”
Captain Hunter smiled, “the man who employs a crew incapable of properly searching a captive!”
Anthony yanked a small dagger free of the sheath hidden up his sleeve. Quick as a blink, the captain flipped the knife over in his hand and hurled it at the false ‘Dr. Hardy’, then spun to square off against the nearby Fomorian sailor.
At the first glint of the knife, Nash jerked to his right, but only a fraction of a second too slow. The knife slammed into the man’s left arm, just below the shoulder. He glared hellish daggers at Hunter.
“An eye for an eye, Captain!” Suddenly, Nash turned again and squeezed the trigger. His revolver bucked in his hand, and a bullet slammed into another helpless sailor, killing him instantly.
“No!” Hunter shouted, too late, as he sidestepped his Fomorian guard and surged towards Nash. However, before he was out of reach, the Fomorian hammered a hard right fist into the captain’s mid-section, which dropped Hunter to his knees.
Dr. Llwellyn also tried to rush the lunatic, but was bodily slammed against the wall for his trouble. Waves of pain shot through him, radiating from raw wound in his side.
Angela jerked wide-eyed at the shock of the noise, then squeezed her eyes shut, desperately concentrating. She turned even more pale as she shuddered, trying to force herself to change. Despite her best efforts, she failed.
Behind Nash, Captain Clark dove at the gunman with a snarl, bound hands outstretched for the killer’s throat. The young man managed only two steps before one of the Fomorian sailors rammed a strong, calloused fist across his mouth, splitting his lip. Clark staggered forward, falling face first onto the deck.
Nash immediately turned his revolver back on Hunter, allowing the captain only a moment to take just one more step closer. “I will kill as many as it takes!” The gunman yelled, reaching up to slowly, painfully pull the knife from his shoulder. “You, your doctor, the girl! Anyone! Now the formula, if you please!”
Hunter exchanged a glance with Thorias. The elven doctor’s face was conflicted mix of rage and pain.
Nash grimaced as the knife worked its way free. He slammed the blade to the floor, then started to turn his pistol towards Captain Clark, who had just rolled over onto his back, dazed and unaware of the risk to his life.
“Stop!” Thorias exclaimed. “Enough!” His voice cracked with stress and exhaustion, “for Heaven’s sake, enough butchery … you won’t find it in the infirmary. I keep it on me at all times.” As Dr. Llwellyn explained this, he slowly withdrew a small sheaf of papers covered with calculations from his vest pocket.
Angela reached over, clutching at his sleeve. “Doctor, no, please don’t!” she begged in a hushed tone.
Thorias gave the girl a sad glance, then looked away, “I have to,” he replied quietly, “I won’t risk any more lives over it. As long as there is life, there is hope. If he kills us all for it, then there’s no hope.”
“Bloody sweet sentiment, Doctor, now give me those!” Nash said as he rushed over and snatched the notes away from Thorias.
“Choke on them,” Thorias growled.
Nash ignored the comment, instead greedily sifting through them. “Excellent,” he purred, “you made a wise choice, Doctor, most wise. We’ll be leaving all of you now to your ‘hope’ and ‘life’.” Nash stuffed the papers into a pocket, then waved a hand idly in the air as he walked away down the corridor. “Take the girl. We’ll need to examine her more closely.”
“No!” Dr. Llwellyn roared, lunging forward while Angela yelped, backing away as far as the wall would allow. All around the corridor, everyone moved at once.
One sailor grabbed Angela and hauled her, along with her blanket, over next to him. The girl’s legs collapsed, as she was still suffering from the after-effects of the elixir. She frowned in hard concentration and clawed at the Fomorian, but with little effect as her strength – and her ability to change shape – had not quite returned.
Another Fomorian henchman turned on the doctor, intent on slamming the irritating Welsh elf into the wall again. He swung and missed as Thorias, in a burst of anger-fueled adrenaline, ducked low, then hammered a hard right fist into the side of the sailor’s knee!
Howling in pain, the man fell forward, grasping for the doctor as he easily slipped past to charge at the man holding Angela. A few steps away from the young girl, Nash turned at the commotion, holding his wounded shoulder and glowering toward Thorias.
“Deal with him already!” Nash ordered sharply.
Captain Clark shook his head, quickly rolling over and unsteadily scrambling to his feet. Beside him, two of the remaining sailors loyal to him climbed to their feet, rushing at another Fomorian who had turned towards Thorias with a drawn knife! The two seamen slammed the Fomorian into a wall, knocking the wind out of him.
Hunter, meanwhile, took the opportunity to ram his artificial fist across the jaw of the Fomorian closest to him. The sailor staggered back, shook his head, then lunged for Anthony. However, Captain Hunter was ready.
As the Fomorian stepped in close, Hunter moved to the guard’s left, ramming a punch into Fomorian’s stomach, followed by a hard right to the point of the guard’s chin. The Fomorian swayed on his feet, his eyes slowly crossing.
“Fragile as glass without your little concoction,” Hunter said with a smirk to the dazed sailor. “Let’s keep it that way, shall we?” Reaching into the sailor’s uniform, Hunter pulled out a now familiar vial of elixir, then shoved the Fomorian away.
The guard fell like a tree, collapsing to the floor, then groaned in pain. Hunter smashed the vial to the deck at the Fomorian’s feet, the yellow liquid, pooling uselessly on the floor.
Watching the fight, Nash’s left eye twitched with barely suppressed rage. He stepped back as Thorias collided with the Fomorian holding Angela. The doctor knocked the guard against the wall, nearly knocking the wind from him.
Angela immediately squirmed, clawing furiously at the guard, but with little result. The Fomorian simply tightened his grip on the girl, determined to keep her captive. With the other hand, he swung to block a punch from Thorias. Immediately, Thorias redoubled his efforts, smashing a fist across the point of the guards jaw!
“I hate Tuatha Dé Danann! I should’ve killed you the moment I saw you!” Nash snarled. He quickly stepped over and hammered the barrel of his pistol across Dr. Llwellyn’s head, instantly knocking him unconscious.
“Idiot!” Nash roared to the surprised Fomorian, shoving the papers at him. “Get these and her out of here! Now! I’ll tidy up this mess.”
“Aye,” the sailor replied, tossing a shivering, weak Angela over his shoulder like a sack of flour before racing away down the corridor.
Nash raised a hand to his coat just as Captain Thomas Clark shoved a shoulder into the gunman’s ribs, bending the man sideways!
“Not bloody likely!” Clark roared, jamming a knee into Nash’s midsection and ripping the wind from him. Despite the rope still binding Thomas’ hands, he balled his fists and swung, but missed as Nash managed to just dodge aside while wheezing for air.
The gunman immediately replied to the captain’s assault by smashing an elbow into Clark’s face, breaking his nose with a sickening crunch! Clark’s knees buckled as he dropped to the floor.
“Where’s the captain?” A muffled voice shouted from another corridor away. “Captain Clark?” Running footsteps immediately followed, heading towards the infirmary.
Standing over Clark’s battered form, Nash pulled back the hammer on his revolver, “yes, it’s past time to tidy up!” Then squeezed the trigger.