10. Ocean and Freedom
The Calliope gathered speed, passing ten-knots and they turned south. Following the shore with the land on the right, they sailed into the gathering darkness.
Captain Roberts sat back and sighed contentedly.
“We are clear. Radar shows us with no traffic near and sonar shows that the water depth is increasing nicely. We are in the channel.” The Captain nodded. “Now… I have something to celebrate our escape.”
Hopping off his seat Captain A. J. Roberts opened up a trunk he had lugged from Maribella without a word on what he had inside.
Bottles and bottles of exotic liquors. The largest of which he pulled up.
“RHUM!” He laughed. “All the way from the Caribbean! I bet you have not seen the likes.”
The Archer laughed.
“Actually,” Archer said softly to Rachel, “I have drunk that brand for years.”
Rachel laughed. “I have a bottle of that in my house now.”
The drinking went on for some minutes, The Archer was working on his second cup over ice to the Captains third. The two were seemingly getting into a race.
Suddenly the radio crackled and the Captain choked on his fourth cup of the dark liquor.
“Emergency channel is working! Huzzah!” He grabbed the microphone and called.
“Emergency caller, this is the Calliope out of Brisbane bound for Sydney. Go ahead with your traffic.”
“This is Royal Australian Navy Destroyer Guardsman. Reverse your direction and return the way you came.”
“Negative, Guardsman, we are out of Brisbane, all on board are healthy and are seeking asylum from the chaos of the area.”
“Calliope, this is your last warning, the quarantine now extends to Brisbane, come about now and return to your point of departure.”
“Guardsman, we have women and children on board, we cannot return. Do you wish to condemn them to deal with the collapse of government there?”
“This is Captain Monroe of the RAS Guardsman. Calliope, please reverse your course, I do not wish to fire upon you. Heave to and prepare to be boarded.”
“We are making our way to Sydney. Board us there.” The Captain Roberts replied to Captain Monroe.
“Heave to, or we will fire.”
“Captain.” The Archer was looking out a window. “We have a problem.”
In the air, a heavily armed helicopter suddenly lit up with navigation lights in the failing twilight of the coming evening. Already airborne, missile pods were visible on the sides of the rotary-winged gunship.
Captain Roberts looked out.
“Oh f’kn’ bloody brass nuts.” The Captain said loudly. “If you folks believe in a hell, you might wish to call ‘em an’ ask if they have exchange programs, it is about to become worse than that here. Guardsman is a Hobart Class ship, that there bird be one o’ its hammers.”
“What are those?” Stormy asked as two, then four pinpoint lights seem to move towards them from a mile out.
“Archer?” Andrea asked, pointing out at what Stormy saw.
“Incoming! They’ve opened fire!” The Archer yelled. He reached down to his quiver and pulled out a rolled up plastic bag. Holding two locks of hair close to his heart, he watched the missiles track towards them at unimaginable speed.
“I”m sorry.” He whispered to the last remains of his family as he dropped the baggie over the rail of the yacht. “I’m so sorry I failed.”
“OUT! Abandon ship!” Al was like a bull shoving everyone he could reach towards the railing. The only time in his life he used his hand to hand training to shove a group.
“Abort! ABORT! Do not fire! ABORT! ABORTABORT! We are…” The Captain screamed into the microphone.
It was his last conscious thought as the missiles impacted into the bridge of the Calliope. High explosive warheads sent shockwaves through the vessel. Compressed air heated to thousands of degrees shattered doors and bulkheads as the yacht disappeared in a fireball of continuing weapons fire as the helicopter crew their weapons repeatedly into the remains of the Calliope.
Only after the shattered, burning hull slipped beneath the surface of the water did the gunship return to the Guardsman while the haze and smoke slowly dissipated.
There would be no rescue boats launched as the Guardsman followed orders to set course back to its assigned patrol.