I Don't Want to Be a Pirate: Part Four
Gerald awoke early the next morning, his back aching from a night of restless sleep on his totally uncomfortable cot. If he weren’t so afraid of the captain right now, he might have asked for an upgrade.
At the thought of the captain, the vents from the night before rushed back into his mind. The entire crew had been sent to bed early, some without finishing their dinners because of the questions that Gerald had asked. He would have to learn to control his curiosity a lot better than he had been. And if he must ask a question, he was going to make sure he asked Pella when no one else was around.
Thinking of Pella, Gerald wondered if she was ever able to sleep. If she was truly up in the ship’s crow’s nest all night, when was she supposed to catch some shut-eye?
Still wondering about Pella and pirates (and completely oblivious to the fact that his curiosity hadn’t shrunk in the least), Gerald cracked open his trusty notebook and scanned for a breakfast item he could begin cooking. He settled on a recipe for tuna porridge. Sounds gross, but he had the feeling that these pirates would eat anything put in front of them. And he was right.
An hour later, the crew was munching on the porridge like it was the sweetest faerie food in all of Neopia. They were all their usual selves in the morning as they jabbered, joked, and laughed all while sloshing porridge into the back of their throats. Perhaps this was because his porridge was just so good, but Gerald knew the real reason. The captain was not in the mess hall this morning. By listening to the chattering of the crew, he learned that Captain Bloodscar was still on deck, steering the ship ever closer to Maraqua.
In fact, according to a nearby Skeith (most definitely the loudest of the whole crew), the pirate ship was less than half a day from Maraqua. As soon as he said this, the mood in the mess hall quieted a bit. Apparently, everyone was anxious about their destination. It seemed everyone had taken into consideration how dangerous this trip could really be.
“Morning, Gerry.” Pella had come into the mess hall and grabbed herself a bowl of Gerald’s porridge.
“Hi there,” he responded. “Do you get any sleep at all?”
Pella laughed heartily at the question while she started slurping porridge into her mouth. “You never stop asking questions, do you? Well, I do get some sleep for your information. I sleep every day for one hour at noon.”
“One hour? That can’t possibly be true.”
“It is, Gerry. I wouldn’t lie to you even though we are pirates.”
“But that can’t possibly be enough. Hours are needed for a healthy sleep.”
Pella seemed amused at the conversation, though it was obvious she had talked about this before. Gerald had to agree that this was pretty interesting. “I only need one hour for a restful sleep,” she said. “I have developed a special technique which allows me to cram eight hours of glorious rest into one hour of actual sleep. I call it ‘Pella’s Secret Sleeping Technique’. Catchy name, huh? I’m thinking of writing a book about it. Anyways, it’s why I was selected as the lookout. Only needing one hour of sleep looks great on a resume.”
Gerald shook his head, unable to fathom what he would do with the extra time received from needing only one hour of sleep. He continued to eat his porridge as crew members slowly departed the mess hall for the upper deck. Everyone was getting ready for their destination.
Pella finally finished her breakfast and stood as well. “Come above deck, Gerry. I want you to see my nook.”
Gerald simply nodded as he followed Pella out of the mess hall, up the stairs, and onto the deck of the Silver Spectre. As he exited the cabin, he suddenly became amazed at the behavior of everyone aboard. They were running this way and that, pulling ropes, preparing cannons, swinging from the masts, and all sorts of activities he had only dreamed about while reading storybooks.
Pella led him to the tallest mast. Gerald looked up and saw a wooden bucket at the very top of it. “That’s my nook,” she said as she began to climb a long ladder going all the way to the top of the mast. Gerald followed her and soon they both stood in the bucket known as the crow’s nest.
He took a gasp as he looked around at the blue waters surrounding the pirate ship. Every member of the crew below vanished from Gerald’s mind as he watched the waves billowing around them all. The sun was still rising to his right as they were obviously headed north. In the distance, he saw a plot of land on his left, but he had no clue what was there. He wasn’t even sure that anyone was there. But it didn’t matter. Because directly ahead of them was nothing but water for as far as the eye could see.
“Oh, drat,” he heard Pella say as he stared out into the blue wonder.
“What is it?” he asked, not taking his eyes from the water.
Pella ignored his questions and reached for a bronze bell hanging behind the crow’s nest. She loudly rang the bell, swinging a small rope side to side as a metallic gong sounded inside the underbelly of the bell. Gerald had to hold his ears as he felt his eardrums nearly explode from the deafening noise.
“Approaching Maraqua, Captain!” she screamed to the ship deck down below the crow’s nest.
Gerald’s eyes searched the water for any sign of their approaching destination, but he saw nothing. “Where is it?” he asked.
Pella looked back towards the water as well. “When you’ve been sailing as long as I have, Gerry, you just know.”
Gerald looked over the edge of the crow’s nest at the crew scrambling on deck. For the first time that morning, he spied Captain Bloodscar, who was at the steering wheel of the ship. He could see the captain bellowing orders to the crew, no doubt telling them to lower the sails and prepare the anchor.
“C’mon, Gerry. Let’s head down and help out.”
Pella and Gerald hurried down the ladder and landed on the ship’s deck. If Gerald had thought the crew was scrambling around before, now they were positively bustling. The Krawk captain was indeed barking orders to the crew. The sails had already been pulled down, and Gerald could hear the metal sound of the anchor’s chain being released from the ship into the depths below them all.
“Cook! Head below deck and pull the switch on the wall next to the stairs.” The captain was giving Gerald a direct order!
Without hesitation, Gerald ran to the cabin and hurried down the stairs to the interior of the ship. As soon as his feet hit the deck, his eyes searched for a switch to pull. It took him nearly three seconds. The switch was rather hard to miss (though he had every other time he came down these stairs) as it was large, red, and the only metallic object decorating the otherwise wooden walls.
He wondered in the back of his mind if this was the switch the captain had been talking about, but he pushed the thought away. Of course it was. There were no other switches in the vicinity. He quickly pulled the metal switch and suddenly the ship gave a huge jolt.
A siren began to sound loudly, and voices could be heard screaming from above deck. Gerald’s eyes widened. He had pulled the wrong switch!
Within seconds, however, pirates began streaming down the stairs, headed straight for the hallway. After nearly everyone had entered, the Captain and Pella made their way down the stairs as well, though not nearly as quickly as the others had.
“What’s happening?” Gerald asked. He knew that his questions were becoming tiresome, but he had just pulled a switch that had startled every pirate onboard.
“Did I not say that I had taken every precaution necessary?” Captain Bloodscar was announcing this quite loudly as if speaking to everyone below deck even though he was answering Gerald’s question. “The Silver Spectre added a new feature when it was at Krawk Island this last time. We are now completely submergible.”
Gerald was confused and by looking around, he saw that he was not the only one. Several crew members were scratching their head, though Gerald thought this was due to their lack of knowledge of the word ‘submergible’.
“I was well aware that we needed to be at the bottom of the ocean to attain the Maraquan treasure. I had the ship fully caulked. And I had work done. With a pull of this switch,” he said, pointing at the metal switch Gerald had just pulled, “we can transform our everyday pirate ship into a fully-fledged submarine.”
Pella nodded as if she had known this already. “Captain, I’m heading to the control room.” She pulled on Gerald’s sleeve, silently beckoning him to join her in this mysterious control room. He obeyed. The rest of the crew kept their eyes on the captain as Gerald and Pella pushed through them on their way to one of the doors on the far side of the hall, leading into the bow of the ship.
“Surprised much?” Pella asked as soon as they were comfortably alone in the room.
Gerald looked around as he nodded. The control room was nothing but glass and computer panels. This was the craziest pirate ship he had ever seen. “What’s going on?”
Pella let out a chuckle. “Always the curious one, Gerry. The captain is not stupid. He knew we needed to get down into the depths of the ocean, and there’s not enough oxygen in a diving tank for each of us. So, he had the Silver Spectre turned into a submarine so we could all get to Maraqua without problems. The cool thing is that no creature except maybe a giant squid is going to bother a huge pirate ship turned submarine, right? Peril avoided.” She looked rather pleased with herself as if the pirate chip conversion had been her idea in the first place.
“You sure do know a lot about the captain’s actions,” Gerry said. “You were the only one who didn’t look surprised at the whole submarine thing.”
“I am privileged with certain information, Gerry. I’ve been working with Bloodscar for a long time. Crew members come and go, but I’ve stayed and outlasted all of them. The captain trusts me to a degree, though I have to admit that he hasn’t even let me know about this source of his.”
“Gerry, come on now. The source we talked about last night at the dinner table. The source who informed him about the treasure down in the depths of Maraqua.”
“Oh, yeah.” Gerald suddenly remembered. “It must be pretty definite proof, huh?”
“Yes, I believe so. The captain never ventures out on a whim. It’s a dangerous thing to do for a pirate captain, to lead your crew to their deaths over a silly hunch. I’m sure his source is concrete.”
The door to the control room opened behind them, and Captain Bloodscar entered the room. “Are we pointed in the right direction?” he asked, barely noticing Gerald at all.
“Yes, sir,” replied Pella. She was sitting at the control panel, pressing all sorts of buttons. In front of her, the glass front and bottom of the ship showed that they were headed into the darkest depths of the water. Before now, Gerald had failed to realize that they were even headed downwards. Made aware of their direction, he could feel his body leaning forward towards the front of the ship since they were pointed downwards.
“Good. What is our estimated time of arrival?”
Pella looked at some mysterious dial on the side of the control panel. “Approximately one hour, sir.”
“Good. Tell me if we see King Kelpbeard’s forces. We may have to fight our way past them if they detect where we are headed.”
“Aye, aye captain.”
“And, cook, if Pella needs anything, be sure to help her. I would hate to have to throw you out of the ship now.”
Gerald gulped as Bloodscar left the control room in the capable hands of Pella.
To be continued...