The three men were set to die. Their faces froze forever in agony, eyes crazed with fear. Each prisoner stood before a cannon, limbs bound behind their backs like Prometheus upon the rock. Three cannons, three men set to die, and the officer, clad in primal red, stood ready to give the order. All the horrors of war captured forever, but oil and canvas could never surpass the memory.
He closed his eyes. The hum of the ship’s engines fell away. He could still hear the officer give the count, pleas for mercy, unanswered prayers, and then the roaring explosion. Bitter rage mingled with burnt blood and spent powder.
Blown From the Cannon read the painting’s title. He grimaced. The prisoners had supposedly been rebels, dubbed traitors, and put to the English custom. Their families were made to watch. The sentence passed, the prisoners executed, and a year later? An artist made his money.
How very proper, he mused. How very English.
The First Mate came over the communicator ordering all hands to brace. The darkness beyond the oblong windows churned into an otherworldly blue as the ice drew near. He gripped the nearby rail and with his other hand he clutched a worn oilskin journal. Like every other book in his study, it was rarer than rare. Breaking ice screamed and then there was land.
Footsteps filled the corridor as the crew rushed about their tasks. A new ship, still plenty of things for the crew to work out. He looked over the oilskin journal, then back to the painting. The journal’s author, another captain, once had a crew. And the dead sepoys in the painting? Where was their leader? Was he bound among them?
Three short raps on the cabin door.
“Captain Nemo, the away team is ready.”