Act III: The Destiny of the Black Betty

Music by Larry Nybo; lyrics by Craig Nybo

Twas a dreary eve when Stark first lay eye on the Cassandra. She was nothing more than a spec on the horizon, but every pirate knew her. She was a fully square rigged frigate with a sleek, shallow hull. No other ship matched her in beauty, speed or mobility. Every pirate also knew that with the Cassandra came Captain Henry Ramos, the most notorious pirate hunter to ever weigh anchor in all of the Mediterranean.

Only once had Stark met Ramos face to face. It had happened in a squalid, Barcelonan Tavern called the Angry Red. Their exchange had been brief, but prophetic. Ramos had promised, with a flagon full of the strongest ale in one fist, that he would scuttle the Black Betty send Stark straight to Davy Jones’s Locker in her heart. Stark had scoffed, haughty and stiff as always.

As Stark lowered the copper telescope, he knew that the Black Betty could never outpace the Cassandra. It would come down to iron and powder. He turned to Jax and uttered almost under his breath, “prepare for battle.”

The Cassandra intercepted the Black Betty shortly after noon the following day. She fired a single warning shot from a bow chaser, the ball souring like a dark angel over the beam of the Black Betty. Jax kept his sober eyes on Stark, waiting for the captain’s order. When the order came, it came without ceremony or passion–just one simple word, “broadside.”

Eighteen starboard gun crews opened up on the Cassandra with 12-pounders. The Black Betty rocked in her birth like the balance of justice. Men cheered as the Cassandra’s mizzenmast was sheered by a whistling length of chain-shot.

But the celebration was short lived. The Cassandra returned fire on the Black Betty. Balls and grape cut through her hold as if she was made of soft pine. Blades of wood flew, cutting through skin and bone. In an instant, the Black Betty was transformed into a wailing din of pain and fury.

The battle raged for no longer than half of an hour. Tongues of flame licked through gun-ports followed by plumes of black smoke and soot as the two ships exchanged fire–broadside after broadside. A fateful ball hit the Black Betty under the waterline and, in that moment, her doom was sworn. She was cracked beyond the help of the pumps. After years of service under Stark’s captainship, the work of a few fateful seconds had sealed her fate.

Stark stood on her quarterdeck as she sank. He eyed the intrepid captain Ramos, who sneered back from the poop of the Cassandra. The look in Ramos’s eye taunted Stark as water filled in around his ankles then his knees. Within the hour, the Black Betty had sunk along with her swag and all hands. The promise of Captain Ramos had been fulfilled.

Thus ended the life of yet another pirate. There is no moral in the story of Stark and The Black Betty; for the life of a pirate is only driven by blood, gold and death. In a pirate’s heart, there is no quarter for the innocent and no love for the virgin. In the end, the legend is all that he leaves behind.

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