by Lady Laura

Where we last left our heroes(and heroine), Horatio was in a prison cell in Jamaica, telling Commodore Pellew about how they came to face the charge of mutiny. I know how to spell fire, but I put it in this story to how it sounded, to give a more accurate view of what's going on in the fort scene.

Horatio and Buckland were in court, listening to Pellew announce what the charge was, and the penalty for it. Horatio thought back to the end of the battle that Sawyer had dragged them into.

"Mr. Matthews, how's it coming?" Horatio asked. Matthews and Styles were sewing up corpses in canvas to be buried at sea.

" Seven down with 4 to go." Matthews reported.

" You'd think we were stitching his bride's wedding dress." Styles remarked.

" It's a decent sendoff. I hope someone does it for me, when me time comes." Matthews bent down over his work.

" Horatio, everything going along?" Mary asked him, wiping someone else's blood off her arm.

" Yes, Mary. How did you like your first taste of battle?"

" Well, I imagined it a bit more than a ship getting hard aground with a loony captain." Mary complained.

" What's with him? He thinks his worst fears have come true or something."

" Well, he is just unusual. Make yourself useful, go and see if there's anything you can do for Mr. Bush."

" Aye aye, Horatio." Mary went off in search of Mr. Bush.

In the captain's cabin, Sawyer repeatedly ordered Dr. Clive to untie him.

" You're not well, sir." Dr. Clive was saying before the door opened.

" Well come in or go out Mr. Wellard, don't just stand there like a startled rabbit." Dr. Clive admonished.

" Mr. Buckland's compliments sir-"

" Very well." Dr. Clive left. Sawyer stared at Wellard for a moment. Wellard glared back at him.

" Another dozen and a crew like a dove." he remembered.

" I'm not your whipping boy anymore sir." Wellard began.

" Wellard!" Dr. Clive called. Wellard left.
They held a funeral service for all who died in the battle.

". . Our vile body like his glorious body. We commit these men to the deep." Buckland said.

" James McNeil. . Matthew Chandler." Matthews said as the canvas encased corpses slid off the platform, and into the deep.

" We pray for a safe passage to Jamaica, and for the recovery of our captain, James Sawyer."

" Mutinous dogs." Hobbs muttered.

" Who said that?" Horatio's voice was sharp.

" Who said that?!" Matthews repeated, whipping out his cane, ready to give whoever said that the ass-smacking of a lifetime.

" Amen." Buckland ended the service. Archie and Horatio glanced at each other, exchanging looks with Bush and Mary. They went to the captain's cabin to discuss attacking the fort.

" Here, we will sail around the bay, and get to the back of the fort." Horatio gestured to a map.

" I just want to get to Kingston." Buckland said.

" While we're here, we might as well." Mary glared at Buckland.

" When should we start this attack?" Buckland asked.

" Tonight sir. Under the cover of darkness." Horatio added

" The element of surprise, sir." Archie grinned a bit.

" When we get to Kingston, we'll have to face trial." Horatio remembered.

" For what? We've got the good doctor's endorsement: Unfit for command." Buckland reminded them.

Just then Sawyer awakened.

" So. . so so. A little cabal." he muttered. All the officers turned to face him.

" Pass the word for Dr. Clive!" Buckland barked.

" One of you had his dirty hands on my back. I'll remember. . . I'll remember." Sawyer said.

" Can you do nothing for him?" Buckland asked as Dr. Clive strode in.

" Exactly what did you have in mind?" Dr. Clive inquired.

" Was the captain well or no?" Pellew asked, bringing Horatio back to the present.

" Yes." Dr. Clive was taking the stand now.

" Which?"

" He was well. My decision was made under duress."

" My god, he's killed us all." Buckland whispered.

" Duress?" Captain Hammond intervened.

" What did they do, put a gun to your head?" Captain Collins asked Dr. Clive.

" Well not a gun."

" Who asked you to declare him unfit for command?" Pellew demanded.

" It was lieutenant Hornblower, sir." Pellew's eyes closed for a moment.

" Surely Mr. Buckland was senior officer, why did he not ask you?"

" With all due respect sir, that is a question for Mr. Buckland." Clive stepped down, Horatio's thoughts drifted back to the day Sawyer was declared unfit.
" Acting captain. I tell you Horatio, never was a man more aptly named." Archie said, sitting down beside Horatio. Mary had asked to go on the mission, permission was reluctantly obtained, and she was sleeping then, resting up for the mission ashore at midnight.

" Evening gentlemen." Bush came in, startling Archie.

" The virtue of surprise, Mr. Kennedy." Bush grinned a little.

" Where is Ms. Driskell, Mr. Hornblower?"

" Sleeping while she can." Horatio turned his attention to his book.

" While we have time, I'd be interested to know how she came to know you."

" Certainly Mr. Bush." Bush sat down at the table, preparing to hear Horatio and Archie's story.

" It all started about a year ago, Mary took a shine to Archie before she got to know me. We had recovered from out fool's mission to Muzillac, but that's a whole other story. . "

Bush listened, intrigued.

Unbeknowst to them, more than half the ship's crew was deserting as Horatio spoke. Randal was the leader, talking to Hobbs as he stold some marine's gun, and prepared to leave.

" I can't leave Captain Sawyer."

" The man can't even pronounce his own name!" Randal scoffed.

" I haven't served with him all these years to desert him now. I'll get to Kingston, and I'll see those leftenants hang for what they did."

" Guess this is good-bye." Randal said. Without warninig, he knocked Hobbs senseless with the butt end of the musket.

" Something to remember me by." Randal grinned and left.

" The captain injured, the crew deserting in droves, and yet Mr. Buckland chose to press on." Pellew stated. Horatio jolted out of his memory.

" Yes sir."

" Why?"

" It was our duty, sir." that answer satisfied Pellew, but Hammond wasn't convinced.

" Duty to whom?"

" Our captain, sir."

" A happy day for James Sawyer when you four came on board." Collins remarked.

" Thank you, sir."

" Duty Mr. Hornblower, but I would speak of ambition." Hammond declared.

" I don't follow you, sir."

" I think you do." Hammond withdrew a sheet of paper, and proceeded to skim through it.

" Foolhardy actions, rash judgments, is this to be your career Mr. Hornblower? And I will have my answer." he added.

Back in the past, Matthews was rousing the men for their night attack.

" Come on!" they he came to the hammocks of the deserters.

" The buggars have run! Styles!" he barked, dashing for him.

" . . . . . And what happened most recently was Mary's two jealous sisters burned her farmhouse to the ground. Mary was badly burnt, and she had a infection develop. She spend about a week between life and death." Horatio finished up.

" That's quite a saga." Bush said, nearly speechless. Just then, Mary came in, dressed in a shirt and pants, her vest unbuttoned.

" Mary, you're awake already?" Archie was astounded. Mary was a late sleeper, and hated to get up in the mornings.

" Yes, how observant of you, Archie." she brushed her hair back into a ponytail.

There was a knock at the door, causing all of them to jump.

" Enter." Mary commanded. Wellard entered.

" Half the crew has deserted." they left with Wellard.
" Anyone looking at the water will be shot!" Buckland announced.

" A battle would brighten their spirits, sir." Mary said. Buckland had to admit she was right.

" We attack the fort!" he shouted, bringing a cheer from the men. They all lined up, and went into the boats.

Once they were onshore, Horatio was leading, when he saw someone in the grass, and ducked down. Archie followed, Mr. Bush signaled to the rest of the men to get down also.

" Horatiio?" Archie asked.

" What is it?" Bush looked wary.

" Randal and the deserters." Horatio answered. Mary stood up and looked at Randal.

" They're dead, Horatio." she reported.

" How do you know?" Bush stepped beside Mary.

" There's no pulse." she explained.

The court-martial had adjourned for the day, and the captains met to discuss what happened.

" Gentlemen, I think we need to preserve Captain Sawyer's good name." Hammond declared.

" Of course." Collins concurred.

" Good, yes. . but with the lives of those other officers with a situation . . . . not up to their making." Pellew was staring into space.

" We need a guilty party. Someone jealous. . " Hammond rattled off a list of adjectives that would describe a guilty party, while rolling up a newspaper.

" A scapegoat." Pellew observed.

" Who did you have in mind?" Collins asked.

" In time, the party will reveal itself." Hammond turned, and whacked the bug on the window with the newspaper, symbolizing how he would treat the guilty party.

They lined up the dead, and Mary stood beside Archie and Bush while Horatio paced, mulling over the situation they were faced with.

" Turns out the Dons were more vigilent than we thought they were." Bush remarked,

" So much for the virtue of surprise." Archie assumed.

" You think this is the work of the Spanish? No signs of struggle, looks like they were taken in their sleep." Horatio turned forward.

" Permission to bury the dead, sir." Hobbs said to Bush.

" We haven't got time. WIth any luck, they won't be expecting us at the fort." Bush, Horatio, Mary and Archie took the lead.

" Hey, Hobbs." said Styles.

" If you weren't such a decent upstanding sot, you'd be lying there with Randal."

" Styles, if you raise your voice one more time, I swear if the Dons don't get to you first, I'll kill you with my bare hands, you understand me?" Bush whispered.

" Yes sir." Styles waited until Bush was out of earshot, and then said,

" And I thought Sawyer was a bastard."

" Word of advice Styles, shut it! Quiet as you can!" Matthews told the crew.

Back on the Renown,, Dr. Clive was leaving when Buckland came in.

" Sawyer asleep?"

" Looks like it." Dr. Clive took a swig from the flask he had with him. Buckland had some papers, which he sat down at the table, preparing to skim through them.

" Burden of rank." he said ruefully.

" This always helps me." Dr. Clive motioned to the flask. Buckland refused it.

" And easy lies the head that wears the crown." Sawyer remarked, opening his eyes.

" I'll work in the wardroom." Buckland got up.

" That's right, run away." Sawyer taunted.

" Captain, be still." Clive admonished.

" Dr. Clive, more laudanum."

" He has enough in him to fill a ox." Clive told Buckland.

" Oh, my ancient leftenant. Release me, and I'll speak for you in Kingston. You're too young for the noose, but too old for anything else."

" Captain, with respect-"

" They all say the same: Captain can't decide, can't control, no authority, dither dither dither." a knock on the door.

" Come!" Buckland barked. Sergeant Whiting stepped in.

" You're needed up on deck, sir." Buckland left withe the sergeant. He saw a black man with a crew of eight, holding two of the Renown's crewman hostage.

" I am Francois Le Fanu, of the free army. I say to you sir, this is not your fight!" the black man shouted.

" Release my men at once!" Buckland ordered.

" Recall the rest of your men, and there will be no more bloodshed!"

" What's bloodshed?"

" Randal and the deserters, sir!" cried out the crewman.

" We believed they were Spanish!" Froswar retorted.

" We could fire, sir." Whiting said.

" Fire?" Buckland was mistaken. The marines mistook his question for a command.

Up near the fort, Archie was leading the men to where Bush, Horatio, and Mary were crouched.

" I think we have the advantage over them." Bush remarked.

" What news?" Archie asked. Mary stifled a smile.

" Perhaps you'd like to observe the enemy, Mr. Kennedy." Bush handed him the telescope.

Archie looked, and found a young couple on the fort's rooftop making out.

" Well well well." he grinned.

" You'll have to show me how to do that, Horatio." Mary slyly remarked, making Horatio blush to the roots of his hair.
Just then, a commotion to where the Renown was startled the attention of the Spanish couple. The man rang a bell, forcing Bush to yell,
" Renowns charge!"

They made it to the door of the Spanish fort, where they pressed up against the walls, where Horatio happened to glance up and see a soldier that was down on the ground, but now up high.

" Archie, look!" Archie followed his gaze.

" What's he doing up there?"

" Exactly. Matthews, come with me."

" Will you be needing me, Horatio?" Mary asked.

" Yes! We could use you." Horatio grabbed Mary's arm, and they hightailed it around the back way of the fort.

" We must find Hobbs and that gunpowder!" Horatio declared, running with Wellard at his heels.

Bush made sure Styles was with him, yelling, " Marines to me!"

Horatio, Matthews, Hobbs, Wellard, Archie and Mary went to the back of the fort, everyone but Mary was carrying a case of gunpowder.

" Anything that's not brush. Mortar, pipe, anything!" Horatio yelled.

" Horatio, what the hell are we doing?" Archie asked.

" How could that guard have made his way up to the top of the fort? He must have come by his own route."

" Sir!" Matthews spied the entrance. They lifted up the cover, and glanced inside.

" This Matthews, is our back door." Horatio observed.

" Not a very big one, sir." Matthews said. Everyone glanced at Wellard.

" What?" he asked innocently. They lowered him into the hole.

" Everything all right, Mr. Wellard?" Archie inquired.

" Fine." his voice echoed through the tunnel.

" What do you see, Mr. Wellard?" Horatio asked him as Mary came by his side.

" Nothing yet. Looks clear."

" All right, let him down. Easy." Archie directed. A sudden shot caused them to look up, and drop Wellard onto the tunnel floor. Archie saw a Spanish guard hurrying to reload his gun, crouched on the fort's rooftop. Archie quickly aimed and fired. The guard fell off the rooftop.

" You're a crack shot, Archie!" Mary grinned. She tossed Wellard a gun, and he awkwardly fired at a Spanish guard. Hobbs yelled a warning to him, and ignited a gunpowder barrel. They ran out of the way as the powder blew a hole big enough for all to enter.

" Mr. Wellard?" Mary shouted as Horatio helped her off the rope she had climbed down on. Wellard approached.

" Ms. Driskell." he said. Just then, they were attacked by guards. Mary yelled a nasty phrase in Spanish, and fired on them with the help of Archie and Matthews.

They ran through the tunnel like rats in a maze. Mr. Bush was apparently forced to surrender when a huge blast obscured the Spaniard force.

" Garrison is safe, Mr. Bush." Horatio announced, waving the smoke away from him. Bush was amazed. After a second, he yelled,
" Renowns to me!" they all charged the fort, getting the Spaniards to surrender.

" SIR!!" Matthews and Styled yelled, alerting them to the three Spanish ships in the bay.

" Still no sign of the Renown. Damn. If those ships get out to sea, we might as well not have bothered with the fort." Bush acknowledged.

" Hot shot, sir. Nothing like it." he said.
Heated shot, or "hot shot" as Horatio called it, was getting made, and Styles put a new one onto a platform with the help of Horatio, and yelled, " Haul away!" the shot was put into a special holder, and the man loaded the cannon with it.

Horatio came running up with Matthews and Styles, Mary and Archie were observing the ships through telescopes.

" May I, sir?" he asked Bush.

" Be my guest." Bush gestured. Horatio nodded.

" Run her out." the cannon was aimed in the direction of the 3 ships.

" Fiyah!" Horatio yelled. The cannon fired.

" Mr. Kennedy?" Bush inquired.

" 20 yards short. The sea boils, Mr. Bush." he reported.

" We want burning ships, not boiling seas!" Bush barked.

" Sir!" Matthews called. He was standing on the edge of the fort's wall, trying to put shot in the cannon.

" This shot won't go in, sir! It's too big! And I don't like the look of this!" he ran to the next gun. Mary was on the wall beside him.

" She's gonna blow!" Hobbs yelled.

" Leave the gun! Run!" Bush turned tail and ran, followed by everyone. The cannon blew up.

" I know what happens when metal overheats. My uncle was a blacksmith." Bush said.

" I believe they call it the coefficent of heat expansion." Horatio put his hands behind his back.

" Well I call it bloody dangerous." Archie smirked at Bush's remark.

" I'm glad you fine something amusing in my elementary mistake, Archie." Horatio retorted as Mary took his arm.

" Come gentlemen and lady, there's no time for soul-searching. The furnace awaits." Bush turned back.

The cannon was loaded and aimed properly. Mary hopped off the cannon into Horatio's arms that helped her down.

" May I?"

" Of course, Mr. Bush." Horatio grinned.

" Run 'er out!"

" Ready, aim, fahre!"

" Mr. Kennedy?" Horatio asked him.

" A hit! A palpable hit!' the hot shot had hit the topmast on the lead ship, setting it aflame.

" Congragulations, sir." Horatio said sincerly.

" Beginners luck, I'm sure." Bush looked through the telescope as they saw another ship in view.

" It's the Renown, sir!" Wellard exclaimed. Everyone beamed.
" Ingenious plan, Mr. Hornblower. Highly original." Hammond commented.

" Thank you, sir."

" Hoisting the Spaniards with their own fort, and attacking the ships. A double triumph." Collins remarked

" This enterprise Mr. Hornblower, was your idea?" Pellew asked.

" It was authorized by the acting captain."

" And concieved by the third leftenant." Collins stated.

" I only endeavored to do my duty, sir." Horatio added.
Buckland came ashore in his boat, and congragulated the lieutenants on their fine job.

" Ms. Driskell, I expected to find you dead. You truly are a survivor." he said to her.

She did not respond, just stared him down.

" Sir, Spanish boat approaching, under flag of truce." Sergeant Whiting announced. Buckland glanced over to see it.

" I arrived just in time to greet him." he looked back at his lieutenants and Mary.

" I daresay you heard about our spot of trouble on the Renown." he said.

" Yes, sir." Archie mentioned.

" I doubt they'll be back in a hurry." Buckland grinned.

" I hope not, sir." Horatio said. Buckland greeted the Spaniard.

" Colonel Juan Ortega of His Most Catholic Majesty."

" Captain Buckland of His Majesty's Ship Renown."
On board the Renown, the colonel presented his plan to Buckland.

" You wish to leave the island?"

" I want to see the women and children safe, especially my own wife."

" I expect you'll hear from us within the hour, sir." Horatio spoke up. Buckland merely brushed him off.

" Thank you, Mr. Hornblower!"

" Mr. Hornblower. You were the one who led the attack through the tunnel?"

" Yes sir."

" Is this young lady your wife?"

" No, sir. I just insist on being present for the action." Mary blushed.

" You must watch this man and lady, sir." Ortega remarked.

" I do, closely." Buckland glanced at Mary and Horatio.

" Within the hour, Colonel." Buckland and his lieutenants left.

They went ashore to check out the fort. Horatio was arguing with Buckland over their visitor.

" If the colonel holds this island so dear to him, why is he so keen to quit it?"

" Because that man knows when he has lost!" they came up to Mary, who was speaking Spanish to a local man.

" Well?" Buckland said when she finished. Mary was growing tired of Buckland, and his voice was starting to sound like Sawyer's: fingernails on a blackboard.

" The supplies are in here, sir." Mary withdrew a gun, put it up to the lock, and blasted it off.

" This is all they have." Mary walked inside with the leftenants and acting captain. She quickly surveyed the area, and turned back to Buckland. Horatio stood beside her, taking her hand, knowing she had a short fuse with Buckland.

" The colonel did not speak plainly, the Spaniards are starving, and the fort's under siege."

" From whom?"

" Rebel slaves, sir." Horatio answered.

" Then we must leave this place with all speed!"

" Maybe we can turn the tables on them." Mary pondered aloud.

" Yes, we could turn this to our advantage." Bush was already thinking up something.

Later, on the Renown, the lieutenants got busy hoisting up a cannon. Bush was picking on Styles a bit, and made sure everything was set to go.

Sergeant Whiting told Horatio Sawyer was out of his straitjacket. Horatio went down to the captain's cabin. Mary followed him.

" Up on deck, Hobbs." Hobbs didn't react. Mary stepped forward.

Sawyer threw off the straitjacket, and threatened her with a open blade razor. He put the blade inches from her neck.

" Sir, at least you can preserve your name." Horatio said desparetly, wanting Mary unharmed.

" What do you know of my name?" Sawyer demanded. Horatio told him what he knew of the time Sawyer overcame 3 French frigates in one morning.

Mary tried to pull away from Sawyer, resulting in a slim gash on her neck. She put her hand up to it, but backed to Horatio, who put his protective arm around her.

" Damn you all." Sawyer muttered. Sergeant Whiting put Sawyer in the straitjacket, and everyone left.
The three lieutenants were up on the clifftop, suspending a rig that will pull the ship's cannon up the cliff. Mary was climbing up the cliff, wanting a little adventure.

" Mr. Wellard! We need a man to fend the gun up the cliff!" Archie yelled.

About halfway there, the rope started splitting. Wellard noticed, and yelled out,

" Stop! Stop!"

" What's the matter, Mr. Wellard?"

" The rope, sir! It's parting!"

" Horatio will be there with the rope, Mr. Wellard!" Archie yelled. Horatio swung down the rope to the side of the cannon with the frayed rope, and began to fix the problem.

" I'd go down to do it, but my left wrist it still broken." Mary said ruefully.

On the Renown, Buckland, Ortega, and Senora Ortega were having dinner.

" How long have you been in command, Captain Buckland?" Senora Ortega asked.

" Actually, I am the 1st leftenant. Captain Sawyer is indisposed." Buckland felt himself blush when Senora Ortega called him captain, but he had to tell the truth.

" Captain James Sawyer. I had no idea we were fighting so distinguished a adversary." Ortega remarked.

" Yes. I'm afraid he's not quite himself."

Meanwhile, Horatio had finished the sling, and sawed through the damaged rope.

" No, miss!" Wellard cried out. When the rope snapped, Wellard had a sudden flashback of then Sawyer fell into the hold.

" There. I told you, we won't let you down." Horatio admonished.

" Sir?"

" Yes?"

" Have you ever done something, and forgot you did it?"

" Who doesn't?" Horatio looked up to the anxious lieutenants above him and Wellard.

" Haul away!" he cried out.

" Are you still afraid of heights, Horatio?" Archie teased.

" A little." he admitted.

Buckland and Ortega were in the middle of a argument, Ortega sensed the British were decieving him, Buckland was in the middle of a speech about British navy personnel being honorable, when they were interrupted by a cannon blast.

" What was that?"

" Ranging shot."

" On whose ships?"

" Yours, sir." Ortega and his wife visibly jumped.

" What?" they left to see.

" You know Dr. Clive, I think I might be winning." Buckland coyly said to the surgeon.

Horatio, Mary, Archie, Bush, and fourteen others waged a good battle on the three Spanish ships. Their colonel was occupied, so there never was a better chance. It was a short fight, but the vessels were soon British prizes of war.

" Let's get the hell out of here-" Mary was saying, when a sudden shrapnel shot slammed into her arm.

" Shit!" Mary cried out, seeing bright red gush out of her arm.

" Are you hurt, Ms. Driskell?" Bush took her arm.

" Call me Mary, Mr. Bush. Yes I am hurt a bit. Let's get outta here!" Hobbs spiked the gun, seeing the black rebel army, and they all ran to the shore of the bay to get the Spaniards off of the island.

" I need a man to lay the charges." Buckland announced upon his arrival.

" Are you hurt, Ms. Driskell?" he took her arm gently. Mary tried not to cry out.

" If you consider a bullet in your arm hurt, then yes."

" I will lay the charges, sir." Horatio bid farewell to Archie, Bush and Buckland. He turned to Mary.

" I should come with you." she protested. Horatio could see she was in alot of pain, so he gently dissuaded her.

" I will see you on board the ship." Horatio kissed her good-bye, and ran into the fort.
Matthews had tried to talk Buckland into rowing back and picking up Horatio, but Buckland denied him that, and insisted they set sail, asking where Kennedy and Bush were. Mary was down in the sick berth, letting Dr. Clive tend to her bullet injury.

" It looks deep, but I think it'll heal without infection." he told her.

" Just to be safe, I want you to spend the night here." Mary reluctantly agreed, and took laudanum to dull the pain. She fell asleep, and did not notice the atmosphere that had settled over the ship.

Horatio was pounding in a fuse for the explosives, when he saw Archie and Bush coming for him .

" Archie! Are you mad?!" he exclaimed, hammering on the barrel, getting the fuse in.

" Quite possibly, but we thought you could use the company!" Archie joked, picking off a black rebel.

" You've clearly lost your wits, both of you." Horatio lit the fuse.

" Come along gentlemen, it's getting rather warm down here." Bush reloaded his gun, and led the others to the clifftops.

They saw the Renown sailing away, and thought they were stuck. Horatio glanced down at the water.

" We're gonna jump!" he announced gleefully. Archie took off his jacket and sword, Horatio did the same. Bush was very reluctant, but they took him by the arms, and made him jump with them, they had linked arms, so they wouldn't get lost.

" I can't swwwiiiiiiiiiiiiimmm!" Bush yelled as they were arcing down to the water below.

Matthews piloted a boat to get the lieutenants, and gave them three cheers when they reboarded the Renown.

" I don't think you're very happy to se me, Styles." Bush remembered how hard he'd been on Styles. Styles merely grinned.

" Look sir, he's lost for words, he's that chuffed!" Matthews joked.

" Mr. Hornblower, I put you in charge of the Gaditano and the other prize vessels." Buckland assigned him.

" Aye sir. Where's Ms. Driskell? Is she all right?"

" She's in the sick berth. Go and see her."

" Thank you, sir." Horatio left. Bush apologized to Buckland for disobeying his orders.

" Dr. Clive, is Mary awake?"

" She is, sir." Clive pointed him in the direction of where she rested, and Horatio went to see her.

" Mary?" he drew his hand alongside her face slowly. She roused, and focused on who was talking to her.

" Horatio!" she exclaimed.

" Why are you so wet?" Horatio grinned, and told her the story. Mary started laughing.

" Mr. Hornblower, afraid of heights, Mr. Bush, who can't swim! What was Archie thinking when you three jumped?! He must have thought you two were complete loons!" she observed.

" Well, I have command of the prize vessels. I'll see you in Kingston."

" Farewell my gallant knight. I'll look after Archie and Bush."

" I've no doubt they'd look after you too." Horatio obtained permission to walk with Mary, and went to the Gaditano, after recieving his farewell kiss from Mary.
" Ms. Driskell, I have need of you." Buckland announced. Mary shot him a dirty look for interrupting her reading.

" What for?"

" To interview some prisoners."

" Aye aye." Mary spoke Spanish to some prisoners, obtaining information, and translating it for Buckland.

She came upon Senora Ortega, whom spoke to her in Spanish.

" What did she say?" Buckland inquired.

" She says I'm very fortunate to have landed on this ship."

" Anything else?"

" No, sir. I take my leave now."

" Yes. Rest up after getting hurt." he told her.

" It's hardly anything worth a fathom, sir." she left. Senora Ortega watched her go, with a funny little smile on her face.

Down in the ship, Archie and Wellard looked at Hobbs and Sawyer's receding backs. Archie sighed.

" You have nothing to fear from the noose, Mr. Wellard."

" No fears on my account, sir. But I owe a debt to two officers on this ship, and I would do anything to repay it."

" What are you implying?"

" I cannot tell wo pushed the captain sir, but there were three of us who were here, it could have been any of us."

Later that night, Archie was sound asleep in his bed, Mary was in the sick berth, Bush and Buckland in their beds, when Senora Ortega, who had been charmingly seducing a young marine guard, killed him and freed her friends. She went to her husband, the colonel, and freed them.

They took up guns, and tied up Buckland. Bush was awake, shot two guards, and yelled out, " Renowns, we're taken!" Archie had left a little earlier, and was unable to get back to Mary.

She heard Bush announce that they were taken, jumped out of bed, and went to fight.

Horatio had been awakened by Matthews on the Gaditano, ordered her to go up to the Renown, and had climbed aboard.

Mary was battling a Spaniard when he dealt her a blow to the back of her head, knocking her out. She was right beside Bush, whom was kicking ass when a Spaniard slashed his front with a sword, and knocked him down. Styles saved him. Ortega had shot Archie in his chest, Bush had shot and killed Ortega from where he was lying. Styles propped up Bush's head.

The Renown was retaken back by the British, and Horatio responded to Styles's

" Sir! Mr. Bush!" Horatio dashed over.

" How is he?" Bush was senseless.

" He doesn't need any help from you. Out of my way. You did your work, let me do mine." Clive declared.

" Mary." Horatio propped up her head.

" She recieved a blow to the back of her head. She'll wake up in a few hours with a headache." Dr. Clive assessed.

" Right, come on, Styles." Horatio freed Buckland.

Horatio went to find Archie first. He sat next to him for a moment.

" Is that your blood?"

" It's just a scratch."

" I said is that your blood?" Horatio opened Archie's jacket.

" Archie. . " he said, embracing his friend.

In the sick berth later on, Mary blinked, and woke up fully. She looked over to her right, seeing Bush watching Horatio sleep.

" Mr. Bush." she said.

" Mary. How are you?"

" Tired. Did we win?"

" Yes."

" Good." Mary closed her eyes.

" I'll tell Mr. Hornblower you awakened." Bush leaned over to Horatio.
After that day in the court-martial, Horatio went to the hospital to see his wounded friends.

They had been put in a cell, Horatio was admitted, and he sat down beside Archie's form.

" How is he?"

" As well as can be expected." Clive answered. He continued tending to Bush.

Horatio saw he was right. Archie was cold, and his breathing came shallowly. He studied him, oblivious to Bush watching him. Mary walked in, seeing Horatio by Archie's side. She reminded Horatio of her testimony, and he escorted her out. She asked to testify privately with Pellew, Collins, and Hammond.

" It's good to see you again, Edward." she commented. Pellew had been promoted to commodore, and she was proud of him.

" Do you wish Mr. Hornblower to be present?" Pellew asked.

" Yes. He can back me up if Hammond tears into me." Mary grinned.

So her private testimony began. She outlined everything that had happened to her.

" What of you and Captain Sawyer?" Hammond asked her.

" What of it, sir?"

" Surely you were with the lieutenants that Sawyer had to be taken down."

" I was, sir."

" And afterwards?"

" Sir, I cannot read your mind, please specify." Mary retorted. Pellew hid a smile.

" Did you think he was unfit to command?"

" Yes, I did. Before he threatened Horatio with my life."

" What?"

" Capt. Sawyer, in his deranged state of mind, had gotten free of his straitjacket, had a open razor, and tried to hold me hostage. I got a nasty cut on my neck when I escaped."

" Show me." Mary pulled her collar down, and showed the captains where she was hurt by Sawyer.

" Nonetheless, when you were with him, you thought he was mad?" Hammond persisted.

" For the last time, yes! What is with you, Captain Hammond? Is it so unbelieveable that a captain could be mad! Set aside his good name, and think about what has happened in the present for a change!" Mary said, losing her temper rapidly with Hammond.

Hammond didn't look angry at all. He looked rather pleased that Mary had yelled at him. Pellew knew it was coming, Mary was tolerant, but people like Hammond set her off big time.

" I do want to preserve his good name." Hammond protested.

" Then preserve it! But by god, if you ask me another question about whether I thought the captain was mad, sir, I swear that I will really loose my temper. You haven't seen me when I get angry, sir. This is just a taste of it." Mary glared him down.

" Point taken, Ms. Driskell. I have no further questions." Hammond backed off.

Horatio had to stifle a smile, and so did Pellew. They both knew Hammond was just dangling on the edge of Mary's temper with those questions, and she let him know.
The next day in the court-martial, Buckland was questioned. He answered, but then grew furious when Pellew remarked that Horatio was paying attention to what had happened.

" You speak of Mr. Hornblower! I'll tell you something, Commodore!" Buckland fumed.

" Have a care, sir." Hammond said.

" I warn you, sir, do not blacken the name of one of Nelson's own!" Pellew admonished.

" Damnit Commodore, I will speak!"

" SIR!" Pellew snapped.

" Captain Sawyer was mentally incapable of handling a ship! He put the lives of every man on board in serious danger!"

" That's enough!" Collins demanded.

" He didn't fall in that hold, he was pushed!"

" By whom, sir?" Pellew's eyes seemed to burn holes into Buckland's head.

" By leftenant Horatio Hornblower!"

" Is there anyone else who can support this claim?" Hammond asked.

" Yes." he looked pointedly at Hobbs. Hobbs had refused to divulge the secret Wellard had told him on his deathbed, after being brought down by a Spanish musket.

Afterwards, Pellew tried to end the court-martial.

" Gentlemen, I am asking you to halt this court-martial, and save the life of a man whom others would gladly give their lives for. We should promote him." he declared.

" But Mr. Buckland has slandered him. We shall put the question to him, did he push the captain into the hold? As a man of honor, he will answer."

That night, Horatio and Mary paid a visit to Bush and Archie. Mary talked to Bush, while Horatio talked to Archie.

" Horatio." Archie grinned when he saw him.

" Archie. The court adjourned for today to give me time to consider my testimony."

" I heard Mary blew up at Hammond." Archie smiled again.

" Yes. Nobody but the captains and I witnessed it." Horatio glanced at Mary, who was describing her blowup to Bush.

" . . I basically told Hammond that I was irked because he asked me the same question, over and over. . " Bush had clasped her hand, and was grinning as she was talking.

" Horatio, will they ask you if you pushed that lunatic into the hold?"

" Are you asking me that now?"

" No."

" Then I will answer that when necessary." Horatio and Mary left awhile later, to try to get some rest.

That night, Horatio was having trouble sleeping. He was riddled with nightmares, Archie dying, Mary looking like she was dead, Buckland's stupid jealous feelings towards him, and Sawyer, reliving that moment when he was pushed into the hold over and over.

" Horatio! You're dreaming, wake up!" Mary shook him awake. He wrapped his arms around her tightly.

" You're safe with me, Horatio. I won't let anything happen to you." Mary soothed him. Just then, the cell door opened up.

" Edward!" Mary greeted him. Pellew stepped in.

" Something wrong?"

" I'm helping him through a nightmare, Edward. He's had alot of them recently." Mary eased him back into his bed.

" I wanted to wish him good luck, I sincerly hope he does not hang."

" He makes his own luck, Edward. You would do well to remember that." she teased gently.

Horatio went to see Archie, knowing that Mary had gone ahead of him to see Archie and Bush. He was astounded to see that Mary and Bush were talking, but Archie's cot was empty. Horatio immediately turned, and dashed to the court.

" I alone pushed Captain Sawyer into the hold." he heard.

" Take this man down!" Pellew announced. The matter was settled. Horatio thought. Now Archie can die in disgrace.

Back in the infirmary, Mary was talking to Archie, with Bush and Horatio by her side.

" I had to do it. I'm dying anyway, and it makes sense." Archie answered.

" It was a brave and noble thing you did, Archie." Mary comforted him.

" Yes, I know. Mary?"

" Yes, Archie?"

" There's something I have always wanted from you. I've seen you kiss Horatio, and I've always wanted to kiss you."

" Horatio?" Mary asked. Horatio nodded. So, Mary and Archie kissed, so Archie could know what it was like to be kissed by her.

" I've prepared a letter to Lily. Please give it to her for me." Archie gave Mary a envelope, " Ms. Lily Brown." was scrawled on it.

" I'll see she gets it." Mary shoved it into her pocket.

" It was wonderful knowing you, Marion Driskell." Archie gave her his smile, one she knew she'd remember forever.

" It was a honor to serve with you, Mr. Bush."

" The honor was all mine, Mr. Kennedy." Bush took Mary's hand, and led her out of the infirmary.

" Good bye, Archie." she told him, and left.

Horatio and Archie talked until the pain was unbearable, and Archie died.

" My dear friend." Horatio whispered.

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