Title: Captain's Cross
Author: Mike Fuller
Genre: Historical, Adventure
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2
Ben Deland has survived pirates and near death from the deadly cannons of a French warship but now must trek deep into the hostile wilderness to save a young colonial officer from French and Indian treachery.
The French are out and causing havoc. Along the western colonial frontier in 1753 Ben Deland is on the edge of the conflict and finds himself in a life and death struggle to survive Indians, pirates and murderers. This young hunter, scout and ship’s captain has assembled a crew of loyal and capable men to help him face the perils of wilderness mountains and the dangers of the high seas. Ben foils an Indian attack and rescues victims of French Indian terror in the New York wooded hills. He then brings his sleek Bermuda sloop and crew down the Hudson to sea only to fall in love with a surprise passenger and be forced to defend his ship and true love from a deadly pirate attack and a pitched battle with French warships.
Suzanne stayed only for a little while and returned to the cabin for the night. The gentle movement of the ship seemed to ease her into sleep. In the deep night, she awoke in the dark cabin thinking her father was getting out of the hammock. But the noise now sounded different and wasn't like the sound of the creaking ropes holding up his hammock at the other side of the cabin. She heard it again and the rattling and thumping seemed to be coming from the stern windows.
The noise stopped, but her father did not answer. It was so dark she could barely even see across the cabin to his hammock and she wasn't sure he was even there.
Suddenly the window exploded inward in a crashing shower of glass and wooden splinters. Bits of it struck her hair and her arm. The window was smashed a second time and she heard a grunting groan and the clump of a heavy boot hitting the deck.
She shouted, "Father!"
"Quiet, you, 'er I'll slit yer troat ear ta ear!" a low voice growled into her face. She could smell the foulness of stale rum and rotten teeth. The deck thumped again as her father was struck then rolled out of his hammock. She caught the shadow of another figure climbing into the cabin from the window and she screamed louder than she had ever before in her short life.
Ben heard the first crash and was out of his hammock in the cargo hold. The second crash and scream came as he passed the galley, pistol and hawk in hand and was about to put his shoulder into the cabin door.
On deck, Hans was struggling to keep the knife from parting his Adam's Apple and get out from underneath the large angry fellow on top of him. His coach gun was stabbing into his back where it had fallen under him when this lug dropped onto him from the rail.
Thomas woke from having an awful dream in his bunk just as Ben swooped past.
Bear surprised the small man in the darkness of the deck and killed him with a silent blow from his knife, then turned on the other who was moving on him from behind. The pistol in the intruder's hand flashed and the ball went through Bear's collar and out toward the Hudson. Bear roared and buried his hawk into the man's left eye, splitting his skull. The left side of the man's head fell to the deck followed by the rest of his dead body.
Mr. Wills chased one of the intruders forward to the bowsprit where the limping form got caught up in a loose line, dropped his musket and tripped onto the wooden spar. Wills was on him in a moment and sunk his big knife deep into the man's upper back. The man expelled a rush of air, but still managed to turn on Wills and cut his right forearm to the bone. Wills moaned and let go of the knife in his left hand and dropped to his knees. The man raised his knife again to strike at Wills, but shuddered and collapsed before the blow could fall.
Hans managed to keep his attacker occupied just long enough for Bear to arrive and lift the man up off from Hans and throw him hard onto the deck. The knife clattered next to the man's leg and Bear plunged his big right hand down onto the man's nose, landing with an audible crunch.
Ben hit the cabin door hard and as it gave way and sliced inward it caught the attacker holding the latch on the other side, about to drag Suzanne through, in the forehead. The man let go of Suzanne and stumbled backward, tripping over Jovalle lying unconscious on the deck. The other one was bending over pulling open the storage under the cot and looked up to see the ball from Ben's pistol streaking toward his eyes.
Suzanne fell away to his left, but Ben wasn't real sure which of the figures sprawled on the cabin deck was friendly or not. His question was soon answered when one of them scrambled to his knees and made for the smashed stern windows. He made it to the bench below the windows where Ben threw the hawk left handed and caught the bugger low in the backside.
Stepping to Suzanne, Ben pulled her behind him as he moved across the cabin and pounced on the moaning man now half out the window. Ben dragged him back inside, but stumbled over the fat body on the deck and the man fell on top of Ben. The blade of the knife in the attacker's hand glinted in the dim starlight from the open windows and as it came around, Ben didn't have a hand free to stop it. His thought at that moment was for the girl's escape and accepted that he was about to feel the knife strike somewhere on his face or head. He was surprised when he saw the hand and the knife in it fall away and hit the floor. The weight of the man on top of him increased for just a moment as the body then slumped and rolled away. Ben could just see in the backlight of the cabin door, Thomas standing right behind him in his nightshirt holding the cut down sword to the throat of the now one handed man.