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Æ Firestone's Crimea: Chapter 9


                           
                                                                        HMS Prince in the storm.


November 14th, 1854, 

Five O'Clock in the Morning


"The storm, it's getting closer."


Said Niko, standing on top of the Irenæus' cathedral

looking at the great dark clouds across the ocean.


He thought he'd never seen such a wonderful morning,

It was warm and starlight and the moon shining beautifully, 

soon the sun rose amid a bank of red, blood-red clouds.


The winds were picking up faster every hour.

The waves of the Black Sea were getting more intense.


Outside of Selvastapol at Balakava,

British troops were preparing for what's to come,

Berry and his company were on board the 

HMS Prince after Hatman's subornation 

after he fought with his high commanding 

officer and his comrades try to stop the fight, 

but the officer was so furious 

he abused his power and got all five in trouble.


Hatman was heavily drinking whisky

due to his depression from the last battle he fought.


As a consequence, the officer sent the five to

the HMS Prince to do dirty work and help with

maintaining cargo caring immense supplies 

of winter clothing and hospital stores

that all of the allied soldiers desperately need.


McCloy saw Hatman at the edge of the boat

on the dock feeling nauseated and regorging. 

He almost feels sorry for him, 

but he thought Hatman got karma for what he did.


"Why is Karma hell?" Hatman asked.


"Reap what one sows," McCloy replied.


"Hysterical."  Hatman laughed.


They both looked at the ocean and

saw the fierce storm miles ahead.


"Who opened the gates?" Hatman asked.


"I don't know, but I do know we got to 

delver that cargo as soon as possible 

before we reach Balaklava."


Downstairs in the ship,

Temples and Chips were in their guest quarters

playing cards of a simple game of War.

Berry had a headache and was lying 

down in a bed across from them.


"You're going to beat me again, Chips," said Temples.


"Come on, Temples,

don't give up, mate.

It's just a game." Chip's replied.


"Ya, but you win every time."


"It doesn't mean you should give up, 

at least try, especially for a challenge

to test your skills."


Hatman and McCloy came downstairs

and saw the others boys.


"You're still playing that silly game?" Hatman asked Temples.


"Yeah, there's nothing wrong being a gamester." 


Chip's added.

"Everyone's a gamester 'til Hatman goes full house."


"Every time," said Hatman.


Like a wrath from God,

Waves were getting stronger

that some ships could bear no longer.


Commander Bayntoun, the Prince's commander officer

was observing the storm being concerned with the weather.


A second commander approached and said.


"The storm intensifies, sir."


"Indeed."


"Should we turn around, sir?"


"No, the cargo must be delivered to the Crimea;

we must move forward!

 

We cannot delay.


Cutaway her masts, the storm is too powerful for them.

Rely on the steam engine."


The second commander didn't like the idea 

but orders were orders.


"Yes, Commander," he replied.


Half an hour later, it was raining more heavily than ever 

and by six o'clock, the sound of the downpour 

and its heavy beating on the earth had 

become gradually swallowed up by the noise 

of the rushing of the wind and by the flapping of the tents.


Of wind, rain, and snow, 

the storm was giving everyone

a taste of what the winter will be.


At Balaklava, Tents leaped into the air 

and went flying over the plateau, like bits of paper; 

stones were lifted from the ground 

and crashed into many obstacles in their path,

debris cutting men's faces, tearing into the sailing canvas, 

smashing bottles, ringing against cans. 


The camp was torn down along with everything moveable, 

continuing throwing down the tents 

and leaving the poor soldiers exposed 

to the bitter blasts of a winter's anger, 

with rain and sleet abated not for one moment 

from early dawn till nightfall.


Heavy wagons were thrown headlong.

Great barrels could be seen bounding along like cricket balls.

There was no shelter as men huddled behind walls.


The waves were shaking the Prince,

the mizzen mast rigging fouled her propeller,

rendering her steam power useless.

They were sitting ducks.


"Steady my lads, steady!"


The storm tore the Prince from her anchorage 

and violently smashed her onto rocks.


It quickly made the boys awake 

from their sleep with an unstable shake.


The boys were all in nightclothes

and they were highly concerned 

about what was going on.


"What was that?" said Temples.


"I don't know," said Berry.


They felt something cold and wet on their feet

and it was the seawater leaking in the boat.


"We need to move now!" said Berry.


"Move, move, move!" said Hatman.


They all moved upstairs as quickly as possible to the hull

with their jackets and pants on.


Wind, rain, and sleet poured heavily on the surface

and the boys couldn't stand it.


McCroy saw the Second Commander, he yelled and asked him.


"What happened here, sir?!"


"We crashed into the rocks, 

we can't go anywhere in this hell of a mess!"


McCroy thought about the cargo 

of the forty thousand of warm greatcoats and boots,

it was everything that the entire army most desperately needed.


"What about the cargo?" McCroy asked.


"It too dangerous to get them up here; we don't have the time!" 


McCroy looked at Berry, and Berry shook his head no at him,

thinking it wasn't worth risking his life.


McCroy went back downstairs to get at least some of the cargo.

The Second commander yelled.


"Get back here, Fusilier! Those are direct orders!"


Berry yelled to him too.


"McCroy, don't be a fool!"


Hatman said to Berry.


"Just let the twit go; he ain't worth it," said Hatman.


Berry ran after him downstairs. 

Hatman thought he was a fool too,

but felt something deep down in his heart that he should help

Berry and McCroy, even though he never liked them.


"Temples, Chips, you two stay here. 

I don't want any more heroes today."


Hatman ran downstairs after Berry and Hatman, 

but they were running out of time as the ship was splitting apart.


Hatman was downstairs with his knees getting wet

from the freezing cold water, making him shiver.

He finally found Berry and McCroy struggling, 

holding a big box of winter clothes.


"You two are bloody crazy; ya know that?"


Hatman helped them carry the box through the small hall.


"Yeah, well, we're all crazy, eh, mate?"


They carried the box upstairs to the hull and

the strong wind didn't help them much. 

Chips and Temples saw them, came to help,

and finally carried the box to one of the lifeboats



                                          HMS Danube being wrecked by the the storm.


The Prince was very unstable and was halfway sinking down.


McCroy went downstairs again without everyone noticing, 

Berry went after him thinking he was crazy, but this time it wasn't worth it.


"McCroy, get back here!" Berry yelled.


"We got to get another box!" 


"You're not crazy; you're insane! It's not worth it, McCroy!"


The ceiling collapsed with huge debris,

separating Berry and McCroy.


And the boat was turning over, 

more water was coming in and 

Berry holds McCroy's hand across from each other.


"McCroy, you fool!" said Berry.


McCroy knew there wasn't enough time 

and he said to Berry calmly and smiled.


"Don't worry about me. 

I see you on the other side.

We'll see each other again."


Water was almost filling up and Berry cried.


"No, no, no. Please don't die." 


"Tell my wife I love her."


He let go of Berry's arm 

and McCroy was under the water.


Berry swam to the stairs, 

got out of the water 

and quickly ran upstairs.


All hail breaks loose with 

heavy rain and coldness

making Berry shiver.


He couldn't see anyone but one man, 

it was Commander Baytoun,

standing soak 'n wet in the rain.


"Commander Baytoun, sir, come with me

we must leave the ship; it's falling apart!"


He was standing there and didn't anything like a statue.


"Please, sir, we must evacuate!"


The commander looked at Berry at the eye

and said his last words.


"The captain must go down with his ship."


Berry knew what he meant and it was the Commander's

ultimate responsibility for both his ship and everyone embarked on it.


The ship was almost overboard 

and he didn't have time to find his fellow mates

and most of the lifeboats were missing or damaged, 

so he bravely jumps to the ocean.


The HMS Prince finally sank to the ocean along with 144 crew members

and her captain, full cargo of supplies, including over forty thousand greatcoats, boots for almost the entire army, and everything that was most needed, that cost over £500,000 was severely lost.


At Selvstapol in Ireanus' church,

Irenaeus and Niko were warm, safe, and sound

sitting on a round table across from each other 

playing a game of chess beside the window hearing the rain.


Niko heard something and looked through the window and seen the rain.


"Mabey Its just a wisty wind," said Niko.



It was eight o'clock at night,

Berry was alone in the ocean, 

holding on to a peace a wood 

that came off from the ship.


He said to himself. 

"Has it come to this?"


"Berry!" said a voice.


Berry heard it but didn't know where it came from.


He finally found the source. It was Berry's mates on a damaged lifeboat, Hatman, Temples, and Chips, along with the Second commander and another officer.


Berry swam to them as quickly as possible, 

as he was cold from the water.

He finally got on the boat, trying to produce heat by shaking his hand

and Chips was rubbing his back arms to keep his friend warm.


Hatman asked Berry.


"Did McCroy?..."


Berry, with his two green eyes. 

looked at Hatman directly at his blue eyes

and shook his head no.


"That stupid Scot, why did he go in do that? 

That's what he gets for being ignorant."

said Hatman.


No one in the boat said nothing and stayed silent.

Berry realized there was no cargo box on the boat.


"What happened to the cargo?" asked Berry.


Everyone looked at each other and Temples said.


"We lost it, the storm, the wind was too much 

and the box fell in the water."


Berry was disheartened by what he heard, 

and felt that all of that work for nothing, 

and McCroy died for nothing.


"It was all just a bloody waste of time," said Hatman.


The hospital marquees collapsed, 

their poles were torn out of the ground, 

and the sick were tossed in their muddy blankets 

helplessly across the ground. 

Men huddled behind walls in holes in the ground.

They tied themselves together, clawing at the greasy slippery earth 

as they tried to resist the force of the hurricane.

Trees were uprooted and flung across the streets of the town.

All morning the torrent raged, the rain poured down through the howling wind, and then by two o'clock, the force of it slackened. 

The men got up from their hiding-places, 

all covered in mud, their eyes were streaming from the cold of the sleet, 

and looked at each other in despair, shivering like wet rags.`


The ground was covered in cold mud, 

littered with damp and dew, 

sprawling canvas of the tents, 

smashed boxes, broken lengths of rope, 

torn blankets, furniture, pots, pans 

and, against the windward side of the walls 

and protecting banks, it was all muddled piles 

of unrecognizable mud-splashed debris. 


As the hospital tents were blown down, the sick and dying, 

nearly a third of the regiment in the hospital were lying 

on the freezing mud under the falling snow,

making the men shivering, apathetic, and miserable,

it made their movement slow and their fingers numb cold.

They sheltered themselves as best they could 

under the wet canvas, but it wasn't enough.


One of the most important things 

they've lost from the storm was, coffee.



To be Continued...


©2021 Æ Firestone


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