The burning hull they came up on was bright enough to make the rest of the pre-dawn sky around it appear pitch black.
She was slightly longer than Jenny’s boat, with a wider beam and a cabin that was losing its cover to the flames. There were a few fixtures that shone from the light of the fires, their features appearing to melt as the smoke and flickers of flame danced amid the destruction.
“Ahoy!” Jenny cried. “Anyone requiring assistance?”
The only sound to come from the craft were two pops as containers in the hull expanded and opened from the heat.
“Everyone keep an eye open,” she said as she turned the boat to port with the motor on low.
Slowly the boat circled the craft, keeping a wide berth as she cleared the burning stern.
The boat jostled as Jenny and her crew hit the deck quickly, the sound of popping from the fire on the craft coming over as loud incoming fire.
“So how cold’s the water?” Tia asked.
“You don’t want to find out the hard way, do you?” Georgie asked.
“Just want to be ready for it, that’s all.”
“OK,” said Jenny, “let’s not do that again. We don’t want to end up-”
“Off the port side!” Charlie called, pointing. “Closing in on us.”
Jenny looked over and cut the motor.
The craft Charlie spied came closer, but also cut her motor.
At the bow stood a broad-shouldered man, his dark arms bulging like pylons, almost as dark as his scraggly beard and the machine gun pistol he gripped in his left hand.
“Aw crap,” said Jenny.
“That you, DiNapoli?” the man bellowed.
“F’n’ crap,” she muttered and stood amidships on the midrow seat.
“Aw no,” said Tomo. “Can’t we just-”
“No we can’t just,” Jenny said to her before returning the hail. “Ahoy there.”
The man on the other craft started to laugh. “Well, well,” he said with menacing joviality, “look who’s here. My personal bitches.”
“So much for being ‘Brethren of the Lake,’ I guess.”
“How ‘brotherly’ are we being? Is he with you?”
Jenny kept herself in check. “Shaun’s not, Big Bobby. He sends his best, though.”
“If he did, it wouldn’t be you lot.”
“And your ‘New Haradhere’ are the best you can find to speak for Cleveland?”
“Girl, you do not want to mess with the mood I’m in,” said Big Bobby. “It’s good enough that I’m willing to just laugh at your sorry asses and let you go without taking you back with me all tied up as a present to Abe Harker.”
“Your handiwork, ain’t it?” Jenny asked while pointing to the burning boat.
“Real good night for me. Want to try to make it my best ever?”
Big Bobby moved closer as the two craft drifted towards each other, close enough that his menacing smile was now visible from Jenny’s boat…
All content Copyright © 2011 James Ryan