The Storm
by Jamie

The sea was calm, the skies were white, and anyone who looked
at the sky would think it was going to be a delightful night. What
they didn't know, was that it was a prelude to a storm.

The Retribution was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Newly commissioned Commander Horatio Hornblower was happy to be going
home. His First Lieutenant, William Bush, was by his side and down
in the sick berth was his Second Lieutenant.

"I don't know why I have to stay down here, I am fine! I
haven't felt better in a long time." The Second Lieutenant grumbled.

Dr. Andrew Graham was frustrated that his patient was
impatient and not staying in bed.

"Lieutenant, you may have all but recovered, but the term is
BUT. You need your rest and unless the Commander says you are needed
on deck, I want you to STAY IN BED!" The doctor reprimanded the
lieutenant.

Hornblower came down to see the patient. His huge smile
quickly turned to a frown when he came into the room.

"ARRCHIE, get in bed." Horatio told the patient, his Second
Lieutenant.

"Good Afternoon to you, Horatio, or is evening now? You
won't let me on deck, how should I know?" He asked with an impish
grin.

"You are not going to get better if you don't get your rest.
You need to re-cooperate."

"It was just a scratch, see?" Archie said as he took off his
shirt to show Horatio and the doctor the scar on his muscular
chest. "Dr. Clive was good for something, but I give all the credit
to Dr. Graham." Archie said as his sapphire eyes twinkled as bright
as his smile.

Horatio shook his head. He wasn't impressed with his
friend's attributes. He quickly looked at his friend's chest with
its peach like covering of blond hair, Archie got shot in the chest
and from the looks of the scar and his friend's health, you would
have never known that two months ago, he was on death's door. Maybe
Luis Sebastian and that God he prayed to were something after all.
Maybe this divine being kept his friend from pre-maturely going to
his grave.

The last thing Horatio was going to do was to give in to
Archie's vanity. He told him, "Put your shirt on, Mr. Kennedy. Show
your chest off to those who care."

Archie's spirits were sky high as he put his shirt back on,
though he implored Horatio to let him on the deck.

"I feel like I have a new life, Horatio. I want to explore
this life. How can I do that from down here?"

"By helping Dr. Graham. There is no enemy in sight and the
sea is calm. Please stay in bed, I promise you, if you are needed,
I will call you."

When Horatio came back to the quarterdeck, he noticed that
the sky and seas had changed. The sea was rougher and the skies had
grown dark.

Will approached his Commander and said, "Looks like a storm
is about to brew. Should we do something to prepare, sir?"

"Yes, we are carrying too much sail. Tell the men to tack
sail." Hornblower told Bush.

Will growled to the men, "TACK THE SAIL!"

Will turned to Horatio and a normal voice asked, "How is Mr.
Kennedy? Is he better?"

"He is doing fine and itching for something to do. I told
him that we would come and get him if anything went wrong."

"We may need him sooner than later. Look at the skies,
Horatio." Will told his Commander.

Horatio knew something had to be done. "Just as a
precaution, I am going to make sure that all the fires are out and
that we put a tarp on the hatch. At least it will be dry below
decks."

"You are a Commander now, you can assign that duty, let me do
that, sir."

"All right, the job is yours. Bring up our rain coats, while
you are at it."

Will went below. Horatio wanted to turn the Retribution
around and sail away from the oncoming storm. But, he knew that to
be fruitless, the storm would catch up with them eventually. It was
best to be prepared and face the tempest.

Horatio listened to the wind and the waves. The ship seemed
to be crashing and bobbing through the swells of the ocean. He
thought of the storms that were on the Indefatigable and the Renown.
Those were bigger ships and he seemed more in control. Would there
be more or less danger of a smaller ship in the massive ocean, than a
massive ship in a massive ocean?

The rain began to fall. Horatio expected it to start out
slowly and then slowly begin momentum. Instead, the skies opened up
wide and dumped bucket after bucket of water and wind onto his modest
vessel.

Horatio tried to speak, but the wind had taken his breath.
Styles came up to him and called out to him, "Mr. Hornblower, Sir?
Commander Hornblower, shall we secure everything on deck, sir?"

"Yes! Please Do!" Hornblower called back as a wave crashed
to the deck, tossing the ship from side to side.

Down below, Archie picked himself off the floor. "What was
that?" He exclaimed.

Will Bush came into the sick berth and threw a rain jacket at
Kennedy.

"Put that on, you are needed on deck."

"Action at last!" Kennedy said joyously.

"You may not think so soon. On a ship, such as the Renown,
we could stay down here and stay dry, while the crew does all the
work. On a ship such as this, we are the crew." Will told Archie as
Archie put on his rain gear.

Together they went to battle Mother Nature. Will and Archie
were on deck with Styles, Matthews and a new crewman, Tommy Shanahan,
while Horatio was on the quarterdeck with Helmsman Ward.

"I want you men to tie yourselves to the ship. If you get
blown off or a waves knocks you over, you will not be thrown from the
ship." Will shouted.

Tommy mumbled to Matthews and said, "I ain't gonna put on no
rope. I won't be able to get me work done."

Matthews didn't reply to him. He tried his rope around his
waist and went about his work.

The ship dipped deeply into the water as if it was a
surfboard riding the waves. Horatio's stomach could not take it
anymore. He threw up on the Helmsman's feet.

Will stood next to Archie and asked, "So, are you enjoying
yourself yet?"

"This is better than facing the enemy!" Archie replied.

"In this case, the enemy is nature."

"Yes, and isn't she a mother." Archie joked. As the two of
them were laughing, Matthews shouted,

"LOOK OUT!"

A wave came up and everything that was not secured when
overboard -- that included Tommy Shanahan.

Matthews, Bush and Kennedy were stunned to see Tommy get
washed away. Then a voice rang out, "HELP! HELP ME!"

The three of them looked around and didn't see Styles. They
saw his rope and pulled him to safety.

Styles gave everyone a big hug. He looked at Bush in
admiration and said, "I thought it was a dumb idea, but I am so glad
I did what you told me."

"Glad to have you back, Styles. We would have missed you."
Bush said as he patted him on the back.

"I would have missed me, too!" Styles said with a big grin.

The storm raged all night long. It was daylight when the
rain slowed to a trickle.

"Do you see what I see?" Matthews said as he pointed to the
sky.

"I see it." Styles said.

"So do I." Archie said.

"It's a rainbow!" Bush exclaimed.

"We made it through the rain. The sun is shining, the sea is
calm and you, how are you feeling, Mr. Kennedy?" Horatio asked.

"Better than ever. It is great to be alive, isn't it?"
Archie remarked.

"That is it. It is a beautiful morning and it is going to be
a beautiful day!" Horatio said with a beaming smile.

It was a wonderful day, the Retribution had weathered the
storm and were on their way home to England.