Lady in Red Pt. 02 Ch. 24byHarddaysknight©
Gwen had an uneasy feeling after finishing her conversation with Steve. She knew he wasn't the type to overreact, and he seemed genuinely concerned about the ship sailing near the coast of Somalia. With that in mind, she made her way to the bridge. The captain greeted the beautiful young doctor warmly.
"Captain, I was just speaking with my fiancé and he's concerned about pirates along the coast of Somalia. He suggested that we sail farther out, rather than hug the coast."
"Ms. Anderson, I have been assured by both the U.N. and the government of Somalia that we would be absolutely safe in these waters. We're on a humanitarian effort and even lowly pirates respect that," reasoned the Captain.
"There's another reason we will not be sailing to deeper waters. We've had a small fire in the engine room and repairs need to be made before we can continue. We should be back under power by daylight, or shortly thereafter. There's no need for alarm," assured the Captain.
Gwen headed back to the room she shared with Charlotte and Cheryl, feeling no better about the situation. She had learned to totally trust Steve's assessment of every situation. He always seemed to understand what had to be done and how to do it. Charlotte and Cheryl were already asleep when Gwen slid under her covers, still troubled by her conversation with Steve.
Gwen awakened to the sounds of gunfire. She sat up in bed to see that Charlotte and Cheryl were also awake and as concerned as she was.
"It must be pirates!" exclaimed Gwen. "Steve was worried about them. We should have never come this close to the coast."
"Let's get dressed, and keep the door locked. Maybe there aren't too many and the crew will fight them off," reasoned Charlotte as Gwen hit the speed dial on her phone while Cheryl picked up her camera.
"Steve doesn't answer!" cried Gwen. "I'll call Mom and see if she knows where he is."
As Paula watched the attack with her family in real time at Marsh's Landing, her phone rang. The ID showed it was Gwen calling!
"Mom! I can't reach Steve! Our ship is under attack, probably by pirates. Is he there?" blurted Gwen as soon as her mother answered the call.
"Steve's preparing to board your ship right now," responded Paula as calmly as she could. "He, your father, and the other men are on helicopters not far from your ship. We're watching it on TV. Just stay hidden and wait for the men to reach you."
"Steve's here? With Dad? Thank God!" replied Gwen. "We'll keep the door locked and wait. Oh, no! The pirates have opened our door. They're....."
Paula had put her phone on speaker so everyone could hear the conversation. When the call suddenly went silent, tears began trickling down numerous cheeks. They waited to see if Gwen would resume the conversation, but she never returned to the phone.
"Steve's getting ready to board that ship, and there are a lot of guys with guns waiting for him!" worried Kate. "They're going real fast and the damn pirates are shooting at him. How's he going to manage it without getting killed?"
The women were still in their pajamas, with Gwen speaking to her mother, when the locked door suddenly clicked and several men with guns strode into the room. They looked at Gwen and grinned knowingly. The largest of the men grabbed Gwen's arm and hauled her from the room as the other men did the same with Charlotte and Cheryl, but not before Cheryl had managed to turn on her video camera to record whatever she could.
The women were pushed onto the main deck where a huge man stood waiting. Gwen was used to being around large men. Jared was over six feet six and extremely powerful, but the man standing before Gwen was much larger!
Looking past the man, Gwen could see armed men going through the pockets of dead crew members strewn about the deck. Pirates were everywhere she looked, although many of them carried no modern weapons. Those without guns waved knives and machetes as they searched the vessel for more victims.
The huge man was bare-chested and his amazingly toned body glistened in the morning light. He saw Gwen's disgust at the actions of his men and he laughed.
"Even us poor, lowly pirates have internet," he chuckled. "We've been waiting for the Lady in Red to arrive in our waters. You are to be married shortly. My gift to you will be a strong son."
As he spoke he extended his hands and ripped Gwen's pajama top from her body. Then he squeezed Gwen's breasts as his men held her arms so she was unable to cover herself. Without conscious thought, Gwen spat into the man's face.
The giant instantly backhanded Gwen and then brought his hand back across her face so his palm spun her head with the force of his second blow. Blood began flowing from Gwen's split lip and from a nasty cut on her cheek.
Reeling from the blows, but still defiant, Gwen again spat blood on the man, this time hitting his chest. "Steve Hammer will kill you for that!"
"The famous Steve Hammer? I only wish he were here so he could watch me breed his woman, just before I killed him with my bare hands," stated the giant confidently. "You would see which one of us is the better man."
Suddenly a U.S. Navy jet roared overhead. It was so low that the deck vibrated as the aircraft began climbing rapidly. Once the decibel level dropped, the unmistakable sound of helicopters became clear. Men in a helicopter to Gwen's left began firing into the teaming mass of pirates on the main deck.
Gwen noticed quite a few pirates had gathered on the other side of the ship and were firing at something not yet in her line of vision. Suddenly another helicopter came into view as it swung in a tight arc toward the ship. Two men on that craft opened fire at the pirates that had congregated on that side of the vessel. As the helicopter completed its turn, Gwen saw a rope ladder was extended almost horizontally from the craft. At the end of that ladder was a man! He held to the bottom rung with one hand as he fired an assault rifle into the pirate hoard with the other!
The momentum of the helicopter turning had been imparted to the figure on the ladder. He travelled very rapidly as he was whipped toward the ship by the turn of the helicopter. Suddenly, he released his hold on the ladder and was propelled feet-first into a large group of pirates. Men were sent flying backward as the human cannonball crashed into them. In a matter of seconds the man's speed had been drastically reduced. He rolled over several times before he came to his feet. As he stood, he pulled two handguns and began a withering assault on the pirate ranks.
The stunned pirates finally regained their bearings and those with firearms began shooting back. That was when Gwen saw more boots hit the deck as men began dropping from the ladders lowered by the two helicopters as they hovered just above the ship. Gwen saw the last man to drop to the deck very awkwardly and smash into a life boat near the railing. She recognized that the man as her father! Meanwhile Steve, joined by his friends, was decimating the pirate ranks.
"It looks like you'll meet Steve pretty soon," yelled Gwen to the pirate leader over the din. "But I guarantee he won't be friendly!"
Steve and his friends had quickly developed their plan of attack as they approached the stalled hospital ship. The helicopter with Jason, Jared, Billy, and Pete was to make a pass over one side of the ship, shooting as they went. It was hoped that it would distract the pirates enough that Steve wouldn't be shot to ribbons as he attempted to board the ship.
Steve was to climb down to the end of the rope ladder. The helicopters had no winches and no ropes for rappelling, so the ladder would have to do. The pilot was to go in low and suddenly turn into the ship while Charlie and Chip fired at the pirates closest to the side. The quick turn would not only accelerate Steve, but cause him to suddenly gain altitude to clear the side of the ship. That would reduce the amount of time he would be in the sights of the pirates as he rapidly rose from just above the water to the height of the deck.
Steve had been surprised at the speed he gained as he arced around and headed toward the deck. He gritted his teeth as he forced himself to maintain his grip on the ladder with one hand while he fired into the pirates with the rifle in his right hand. He released the ladder when he was certain that his momentum would carry him over the side of the ship and into the pirates.
He bent his knees as he hurtled feet-first toward his surprised adversary. He kept firing his rifle until it was jarred from his hand when he began making contact with the bodies of the men in front of him. He heard, and even felt bone and cartilage breaking and separating as his boots hit man after man, some in the torso, and some in the head. Slowed by the humanity he had crashed into, Steve rolled over several times and came to his feet. As he stood, he pulled his handguns and began firing. He felt bullets strike his vest. It quickly became obvious that there were more pirates than his group had anticipated. Steve knew he could never kill them all before they would shoot him down. Suddenly, he heard Chip's voice behind him.
"You get the fuckers in front and I'll take these bastards!"
Then within a few seconds Jason, Charlie, Jared and Pete were on the deck, firing steadily into the rapidly decreasing number of pirates. Steve flinched when he saw Ted hit the deck hard and bang into a nearby lifeboat. Billy moved next to Ted to help him stand. Steve returned his concentration to the men he was fighting. Many of the pirates still standing were coming at him with knives and machetes. Steve found himself wondering if that was better, or worse than having firearms.
Steve felt the presence of a man behind him. He turned to see a man about to bring his machete down on his head when he heard a loud roar from a short distance away. The man with the machete flew off to the side, blood seeping from numerous wounds. Ted was standing a short distance away with a shotgun, the barrel still smoking, clutched in his left hand. Steve nodded as he quickly replaced the magazines in his guns.
The deck was littered with dead and dying pirates. Those that were still standing suddenly decided the fight was not going the way they had hoped. They began dropping their weapons and raising their hands. Jason and Jared began directing those that could still walk to form a group by the railings.
Steve searched the ship with his eyes and finally saw a bloodied Gwen. A giant of a man held her by a handful of hair. In his other hand, he held a large knife, which he had placed against Gwen's throat! Steve felt both rage and fear well up and churn inside his gut.
Considering what he had been told about 'The Butcher', Steve dropped his guns to the deck and pulled his vest over his head and dropped it near his guns. Unarmed and shirtless, he strode toward the huge man.
"I've heard you've never lost a fight," declared Steve in the sudden stillness of the morning. "I'm here to put an end to that claim. Are you man enough to face me?"
The giant grinned broadly as he simply shoved Gwen away, dropped the knife, and strode toward Steve. "This is going to be fun. I'm going to kill you with my bare hands, and then take your woman."
"Butch!" spoke Chip from behind Steve. "Make sure you get the rules straight before you start the fight!"
At first, Steve was confused by Chip's reference to Butch. Then he remembered how he and Chip had watched 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' on several Saturday nights while stationed on the base in Cuba.
"Right! What are the rules of the fight?" asked Steve as the big man stopped a few feet in front of Steve.
"There's only one rule," laughed 'The Butcher'. "The first man to die, loses."
As the pirate leader finished his statement, Steve kicked him in the groin as hard as he could. When the man brought his hands down to his crotch, Steve moved in and began whipping punches into his midsection and chest. Steve had spent a lot of time on the heavy bag during his workouts with Jared and was confident that no one could long endure the punches he was throwing.
That was when the man backhanded Steve so hard that he fell backward and to the deck. 'Big Ben' moved forward to kick Steve, but he rolled over and quickly jumped to his feet. The two men circled for a short time before Steve moved in and again delivered hard punches to Chancellor's midsection. Steve knew that staying close prevented his opponent from getting his full strength and momentum into a punch.
Steve had seen the blood and bruises on Gwen's face. His anger consumed him as he swung his fists into the bigger man. He had never wanted to hurt a man like he wanted to hurt this one. He channeled his anger, rather than let it control him. He fed off it, and used it fuel his efforts.
He remembered his father teaching him as a teen that when he was up against an opponent of superior strength, he had to be smart. "Hit him where he lives", was the expression his father had always used. "Don't break your hands on a man's head. If he can take a punch, you'll be dooming yourself by hitting him in the face. Work on his heart, stomach, kidneys, and lungs; where he lives!"
Suddenly 'The Butcher' managed to land a blow that staggered Steve. Sensing Steve was in trouble, Chancellor lumbered after him. Somehow, Steve managed to stay away from the bigger man long enough to shake the cobwebs from his head. Once again, Steve moved in, pummeling the larger man's torso and chest with punches thrown as hard as Steve was able.
"Why doesn't Steve hit the guy in the jaw?" asked Ted through clenched teeth as he held his aching arm.
"Because it would only hurt Steve's hand," responded Chip. "He knows that he has to wear the guy down. I just hope he does it before the bastard takes Steve's head off.
Ted was in pain from his obviously broken arm, but he couldn't stop watching the battle between the two powerful men. He had never witnessed such savagery and brutality. The sounds of flesh being viciously and repeatedly struck were something he'd never forget.
The cameraman in the helicopter above had zoomed in on the two combatants and the world watched in horror and amazement.
"Jesus! Is he going to fight that monster?" wondered President Rosen aloud as Steve and 'Big Ben' squared off on the deck of the ship. His question was quickly answered when Steve kicked the larger man and moved in to begin pummeling his midsection. The President of the United States watched the battle in stunned amazement, along with millions of people around the globe.
Those watching from Marsh's Landing were literally on the edge of their seats as the battle raged on the screen. Groans filled the room whenever Steve hit the deck. Sybil sat next to her mother in silence as she watched Steve battle the much larger man, before finally speaking.
"He's doing this for her, you know," stated Sybil softly, but loud enough for all of the others to hear. "That brute hurt Gwen, and now Steve has it to do. He'll never allow another man to touch her like that as long as he lives. He'll kill that damn stupid pirate. Just watch.
"But it isn't enough to just kill him. The world has to see and learn what happens to any man, no matter how big and strong he is, that harms Gwen. Steve will kill him with his bare hands! He's the Warrior and he's fighting for his Queen!"
Once again, Chancellor managed to land a haymaker to Steve's face. Steve stumbled backward as he wiped the blood from his eyes. His head ached and his ears had a constant ring. He had never fought a man as tough as 'The Butcher'. Realizing that he couldn't allow the pirate to catch his breath, Steve moved back in and once again began hammering Chancellor in the torso.
As he watched his best friend battle his huge foe, Chip contemplated simply shooting the man in the head to prevent Steve from suffering any further injury. The only thing that stopped him was the knowledge that Steve would never forgive him. Chip was beginning to worry about the outcome of the fight. He had never seen Steve defeated. When the battle had begun, Chip was confident that Steve would destroy the larger man quickly. That hadn't happened and now Steve was beginning to tire. Chip promised himself that if Chancellor managed to get Steve down and in a position to kill him, he would shoot the big man and apologize to Steve later.
Steve suddenly changed tactics and struck 'Big Ben' in the knee with a vicious kick, forcing the big man to limp backward. Steve lashed out again and struck the same knee. The impact jarred Steve's leg, but the pirate remained standing. Once again, Steve moved under the wild swings of his opponent and launched another series of body punches.
Steve was as surprised as anyone when Chancellor suddenly dropped to his knees with his head hanging down against his chest. His breathing was extremely ragged as he gasped for air. Steve immediately brought his right foot around and struck the larger man squarely on the chin, turning the brute's head. Seeing his opening, Steve stepped in behind the kneeling pirate, grabbed his hair with one hand and his chin with the other. Then he intentionally, and brutally, snapped the huge man's neck!
"You lose, Mother Fucker!" rasped Steve as Chancellor's body dropped to the deck. Steve proceeded to grab a hand full of the dead man's hair and drag the inert body toward the railing. Everyone watched in amazement as Steve grabbed the man's belt with one hand, a fistful of hair with the other, lifted the body chest high, and threw it overboard!
Steve slowly turned; staring at the rest of the pirate crew as he painfully walked toward them. Jason quickly spoke to his captives. "You men grab your friends' bodies and toss them over the side. Then jump over after them. If any of you are still here one minute from now, you'll be shot where you stand."
Enough of the men understood English to translate for their comrades that didn't. There was immediate activity as pirate bodies were tossed into the ocean. A pirate stood looking at a badly wounded fellow pirate, unsure of what to do when Jared walked over, lifted the wounded pirate and proceeded to fling him over the side. The pirates understood the message and began removing the wounded. Within two minutes, there was no sign of any pirate presence on the ship, except for numerous blood stains scattered about the deck. Jason counted 15 bodies of crew members
Steve had staggered past the stunned pirates and up to Gwen, who was being supported by Charlotte. As he drew near, Gwen sobbed and wrapped her arms around Steve's bloodied body as they both slowly collapsed to their knees.
Seeing that Steve was in no condition to make decisions, Jason signaled for one of the helicopters to land on the deck. The sea was calm and it had no difficulty touching down.
"Jared, get Gwen on that chopper. Chip, help me load Steve. Once we get those two in, Ted and Pete need to climb in. They're both hurt. Chip, you ride with them. The rest of us will take the second helicopter. They must be getting low on fuel, so let's get moving!"
"I should stay and help the injured," protested Charlotte weakly.
"We're going home now, Charlotte. You're going with me right now," stated Billy emphatically. "Besides, I need you to take care of my arm." Charlotte nodded meekly in agreement.
"What are the ramifications of Hammer killing that big son-of-a-bitch?" asked Rosen as he watched the second helicopter lift off the hospital ship. "What kind of fallout will there be?"
"Sir, if I may speak?" asked a crusty Marine General who had witnessed the entire battle with President Rosen. "He's added to his legend. I wish to hell he was a Marine. The world just saw the very best America has and now they know just how goddamn good our best is!"