Sailing across what would in time become commonly known as the Tyrrhenian Sea, about fifty miles of the coast of the town that would eventually be known as Arbatax the crew of the Revenge sailed. They were on a mission of mercy to rescue the Princess of Iceland who had been captured and kidnapped by the evil dictator and ruler of Nuoro a small town, on a small island, trying to prove to the rest of the world they should be taken seriously.
Captain Bildgepoole and his men had conducted a successful ground campaign which saw more than a hundred men storm the land battle ready and without out mercy. The small town stood little chance, the army of two thousand men were unprepared for a fight, the training their overlord had offered them too little too late and they dropped like flies. The only survivor was the evil dictator himself who had safely fled the town before the attack leaving his men for dead and sailing towards the coast of Italy.
With the Princess rescued and aboard the Revenge the crew cleaned up dead, washed the streets free of blood and declared the town reopen for new settlers. They then retreated to their ship to return the Princess to her home and family. But they had been sailing for less than an hour when they knew things were about to change.
“Navy off the stern!” called Eagle Eyed Eddie from the crows nest.
Such a call was not usually met with concern, especially not to a pirate crew like those of the Revenge or Privateer who no longer spent their days looting, pillaging and killing, so Captain Bildgepoole was not immediately alarmed.
“Keep an eye on them ‘n where they be headed.” Captain Bildgepoole replied, thankful that the seas were flat and quiet.
“Direct course Captain ‘n I see men on th’ bow mannin’ th’ cannons.” Eddie called.
“Warn me if they still look hostile when they be within range.” Captain Bildgepoole called out to Eddie, then turning towards the wheel of the ship he said, “Helmsman change course but nah speed ‘n be ready t’ change again should they be hostile.”
“Aye Captain,” came the reply from both pirates.
The helmsman knew that in such a situation the idea was not to change course dramatically and make it appear like they were running, but to change course slightly every minute or so to make it harder for the enemy to get a clear range on them. With such a big ship the tacking across the sea was a little more obvious to the trailing ship but without the speed increase it was often just looked upon as a ship trying to catch a breeze.
Captain Bildgepoole didn’t need to see the ship that was behind them to know that they could outrun the Revenge. Although the Revenge was fast for her size she was still a hulking pirate ship, heavy in the water and slow even with a tail wind. The Italian naval force on the other hand, like so many navies of the world had armed ships that could open an attack quickly and hold their own until the slower destroyers caught up.
The Revenge tacked southward towards the point of Chia, their aim to round the point and make for the Straight of Gibralter then out into the open oceans and northward to the Princess’ homeland but before Chia was in sight it was clear that their plan was going to be hampered.
“Cap’n.” Eagle Eyed Eddie called down from the crows nest to get the attention of Captain Bildgepoole
“Aye pirate, ‘ave ye got news.” Captain Bildgepoole replied. He’d been waiting for an update from the crows nest.
“Th’ navy, they be a gainin’ on us.” When Eagle Eyed Eddie finished speaking he raised his eye glass up to his eye again began judging the distance between the two ships. “Less than three hundred yards cap’n.”
Captain Bildgepoole turned around to the stern of the ship and looked at the distance for himself. “Aye pirate, thar be wee nuthin’ we can do about that, bu’ keep me updated.”
“Aye Captain,” Eagale Eyed Eddies voice floated down from the crows nest again. “Thar be a destroyer followin’ th’ cruiser. Three hundred yards maybe four hundred.”
Captain Bildgepoole knew that the range of a destroyer, even an Italian naval destroyer that had the reputation of not being the most defensive ship on the sea, was in excess of three hundred yards. The range of the Revenge was indeed greater than the destroyer but in a two against one situation where they could only out run one of the ships range was not a guarantee of success.
“Thank you pirate.” Captain Bildgepoole called.
Then as if he was waiting for the reply Eagle Eyed Eddie spoke again as soon as the captain had finished. “Aboard th’ cruiser th’ cap’n has readied th’ canon men ‘n standin’ beside th’ cap’n pointin’ at our ship be th’ evil Nuoroian leech who was last seen fleein’ th’ main land ‘n across th’ sea.”
Captain Bildgepoole thought about it for a few moments. It was the last piece of information that told the story, it may not have told the full story but it told enough for Captain Bildgepoole to piece together what was happening. The Italian Navy had been convinced the Revenge had done one of it’s neighbours wrong and with the Italian Navy more corrupt than some of the pirates that sailed the seven seas it was an easy sell for them to chase down the Revenge.
“Then me crew.” Captain Bildgepoole said in a loud voice for all to hear. “I fear that we ‘ave no choice. Make sure th’ Princess be safe fer if th’ navy be readyin’ themselves fer a fight they will indeed get one. Helmsman ye know wha’ t’ do!”
A collective call went up across the deck of the ship. “Aye cap’n!”
Previous pirate story here.