Samson, the Pirate Lupe: Lost Memories - Part One
The waves lapped up against his thrashing grey paws and the salty water sloshed within his mouth. He had lost the strength to keep it out.
For days now Samson had been paddling. It seemed like years. He was soaked to the bone and his eyelids were heavy with exhaustion. The Lupe had carried on swimming in the oceans of Neopia since his ship had caught on fire and sunk. As far as he knew, he was the only survivor, but he was fading fast. His old, yellowed shirt clung uncomfortably to his starved body as he tried to keep his head above water.
He despaired. He knew now that there would be no rescue. Even if he saw a boat or a ship, he was too weak to shout for help.
His vision began to fade. Before he finally closed his eyes, he heard a noise like a great mass sliding on the ocean’s surface. He didn’t care what it was. Either it was rescue, or a beast about to eat him. He was dead anyway.
“Take him aboard!” a gruff voice shouted.
“Aye, aye, Captain!” It was the most beautiful reply Samson had ever heard. He wished he could hear more, but as soon as his back paws touched the smooth, varnished wood of a ship from flight, he completely lost consciousness.
Samson woke to the soothing rock of a hammock within a ship’s hold. Bleary-eyed, he groaned and felt the dry, slightly irritating sheets under his damp paws. This was strange. Feeling an itch in his throat, he coughed viciously.
“Hey! He’s awake!”
It was the same voice that he heard just before he passed out. He rubbed his eyes and took in his surroundings. He was in a hammock slung between two thick wooden beams. The hold was the color of maroon and auburn tinged red and yellow by candle light. Old hay and dark stains littered the rough floorboards and miles of rope was slung over every hook and railing. Large barrels were stacked at either side, some dusty from neglect, and a squat, round table sat at the back with a pile of battered books supporting one much shorter leg. Around that table sat a group of neopets on makeshift chairs playing cards. One was a tall pirate Uni with one keen but kind blue eye; a scar covered the other. He wore a torn, blue suit with golden edges and a small golden ringlet was pierced through one ear.
To his right was an old pirate Draik with a dark coat, eye patch and a hook in the place of a hand. His slightly bloodshot eyes glanced up at Samson before returning to his cards.
On the opposite side of the table sat a well decorated Hissi with a feather in his hat and a cunning grin and a tall, female shadow Gelert wearing a long, dirty white trench coat and a red glove on one paw.
“Are you okay?” asked the voice to Samson’s left. Rubbing his eyes, he looked. Before him sat a female, electric Draik with a concerned smile. There was a small crescent scar under her eye and she wore a clean white shirt. A small locket that was draped across her neck with a chain glistened beautifully in the candlelight.
“Its from my mother,” she said softly. She caught Samson’s puzzled expression. “You were looking at it,” she giggled.
“Oh! Uh... Sorry, but where am I?” the Lupe whispered.
“You’re on the S.M., sweetheart,” replied the Draik. “You have been for two days. We didn’t think you would make it at first. Your fever was really bad.”
Samson contemplated this for a moment. He still couldn’t believe that he was alive.
“So, what’s your name?” the Draik coaxed.
“Uh,” the Lupe stammered. “Samson. Samson Swiftpaw.” He was about to ask hers, but she saved him the trouble.
“Mine’s Hailey. Hailey Shock. How are you feeling?”
“I... I don’t know yet.”
“Do you think you can walk?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Well, let’s try.” She flapped away from him for a moment so that he could sit up in his hammock. When it was in danger of flipping over, she rushed over and steadied it. He nodded gratefully and wrapped himself in the sheet. He slid off and wobbled, almost falling. Hailey flapped over and grabbed him by his thin shoulders. Again, he nodded in thanks as she guided him to the table and sat him between herself and the Uni.
“This is Samson Swiftpaw, everyone,” she said. “He’s the Lupe we saved two--”
“Yes, we did hear you, crewmember!” snapped the Hissi. “And we were there. Let’s stop repeating ourselves and finish this game before midnight!”
The Uni glared at him with his one good eye and then leant over to Samson and Hailey.
“Don’t mind Lt. Servill,” he said. His voice was gentle and deep, and load enough for the Hissi to hear. “He’s just grumpy because he has the late night shift tonight.”
“Who wouldn’t be?” growled the old Draik. “It’s raining! Poor Servill will have to hide under a mast!” The neopet’s voice was like a harsh bark. It was nothing like the voice that had commanded Samson to board the ship.
“This is Lt. Darius,” said Hailey motioning her claws at the Uni. Darius nodded back. “That old Draik is Lt. Draco, my Grandfather.” She said it very proudly, causing Draco to roll his eyes. “As you have heard, that is Lt. Servill.” The Hissi grunted in recognition. “And finally, to my left is Lt. Clara.” The Gelert made a salute with a reassuring wink.
They played cards for a while and allowed Samson to join in. The game only lasted a few minutes before they became bored and descended into conversation.
“So I jumped onto the Crusader and threw my sword at the guard!” Lt. Draco snarled, planting his clawed foot upon the table and swung his actual sword into the air, almost slicing the tips of Clara’s ears. Samson was transfixed by the old pirate’s story.
“Of course I missed and he swung back and hit me on the head with a club.” Everyone, especially Darius, met this with a round of laughter.
“And then, I had to drag you off the ship while the rest of the crew tied up the Crusader’s crew and looted its wealth! You’re getting old, friend. It’ll either be retirement or a swift sword that gets you in the end. Most likely the latter!”
“True, Darius!” Draco growled with a smile. “But I’m going to enjoy myself while I still have breath in my body and loot to take!”
The door swung open and a mutant Xweetok bearing a tray of food. His skinny tail dragged on the ground behind him and his yellow eyes flicked back and forth to each neopet in the room.
“Here’s some food, Sirs! Straight from the loot locker!” He dropped a large tray of the finest cuts of Tyrannian steak before them.
“Magnificent!” snarled Draco, swinging his claws for the best cut. A sword sweeping down upon the table, just missing his hand, blocked his claws.
“I wouldn’t dare if I were you!” hissed Lt. Servill. “That cut's mine!”
“You’re on dangerous ground, snake!” snarled Draco. Samson sucked in a breath. The moment was tense. He quickly glanced at Hailey and Lt. Clara. The young Draik was nervous while the Gelert seemed to enjoy every moment of it. He looked to the cook who seemed very concerned, but it was apparent from his manner that this was a regular occurrence. His final, fleeting glance was of Lt. Darius. His demeanour had completely changed. His eye was cold instead of kind and his posture was tense with fury.
“At least I’m young enough to be able to fight for my food!” A spark of hatred lit in Draco’s eyes.
“What competition you must have had, fighting for scraps with the petpets in the gutter where we found you! You’re too far out of your league!”
“I’ll cut out your tongue!” Lt. Servill spat leaping at Lt. Draco. Darius reacted with lighting speed and stuck his sword between the neopets, resting the fine blade on the Hissi’s throat.
“Stand down, Lieutenant!” The Uni’s words were slow and deliberate and he emphasized every word, making it very clear that he would not hesitate to kill Servill if he made one more adverse move.
The Hissi smiled and lapped his forked tongue over his teeth. He slowly lowered his blade and made a short bow.
“I apologize, Lt. Draco. I was too hasty and foolish in my response.”
There was a seemingly long silence.
Darius looked sternly at Draco. The Draik grunted.
“And I apologize for goading you on, Lt. Servill.” He said the words as if they tasted bitter on his tongue.
“Besides,” said Darius, withdrawing his sword and returning to his normal self, “we have a guest and it is impolite to fight before someone so new to our table. Rattigen! Give young Samson some food.”
“Yeah, try some of the meat. You need your strength,” said Hailey calmly.
“I think it is only fair that the one most in need should have the best cut,” said Darius. “Wouldn’t you agree, Lieutenants?” Draco and Servill’s eyes simultaneously twitched.
“Yes, Sir,” both said venomously.
Samson hesitantly took the largest slice of steak in case he would have to bring back his hand at lightning speed. The Lupe could feel Servill and Draco’s burning gaze upon him with every bite he made.
“Oh well,” said Lt. Clara. That was the first dialogue she had spoken all night. “At least you boys won’t have to worry about giving the cut to Swiftpaw every night. The Captain's bound to put him into ship maintenance or something low. Little Hailey here insisted that you stayed in this hold for the past two days, and quite rightly too. The crew down below devour the weak!”
Samson choked slightly.
“Was it the Captain who ordered me aboard?” the Lupe asked when he could speak again.
“Indeed it was,” chuckled Darius. “But it was Hailey who spotted you. She was keeping watch on the starboard bow when she saw a tail sinking into the water. She sounded the alarm, flew off of the deck and dived into the water to save you.”
Samson turned to the young Draik. “Then, I have you to thank?”
Hailey laughed and shrugged. “I was acting on instinct,” she said. “Who wouldn’t have?”
“Someone with a bit more sense of hypothermic conditions,” growled her grandfather playfully.
They ate in silence for a while. Samson couldn’t help but notice the staring competition Lt. Darius and Draco seemed to be having.
“Who is the Captain?” the Lupe asked suddenly.
Darius turned to him and smiled.
“He is Captain Tactrick Silverfang. A large Kougra with a keen mind and swift claws.”
“It’s a mystery how he came to this ship,” added Clara. “It was during a mutiny with the old Captain, a vicious tyrant that led many of us into impossible battles just for fun. He had no value for any life accept his own.”
“We had been planning to mutiny for some time,” said Lt. Draco. “We just never had the opportunity or the backing of every crew member. It was when he cut our rations for no other purpose than to increase his that we decided to attack!”
“Who were the original planners?” inquired Samson. Draco smiled.
“Myself, Lt. Clara, Lt. Darius, the new second in command, Medallion Darkwing and some of the easily angered shipmates. The Hissi here was one of the enemy, but his cowardice made him jump ship at our first attack.”
“Mind your tongue, fossil!” snarled Servill.
“Anyway,” growled Darius. “Lt. Draco was meant to be our next Captain. He had suffered the worst treatment from the Captain out of any of us.”
“I wouldn’t say I had the worst deal, friend,” Draco muttered sympathetically. Darius shot him a look of contempt before his eye lost its glow and he fell silent.
“The attack went well,” Draco continued. “We had forced many of the loyal ones back and threw them off the port bow. We suffered heavy losses, though. The loyals weren’t close to the Captain just for being loyal. They were his elite squad. One managed to half blind Darius before falling off the side. And he didn’t even have a weapon!
“We finally made it to the Captain’s cabin. Shouting our battle cry, we broke down the door and charged in. We were shocked to find that the Captain was lying comatose on the floor and a tall Kougra with a distinctive scar across his right eye stood over him, his claws unsheathed and his sword down.”
“You should have seen Lt. Draco’s face!” laughed Clara. “I’ve never seen it so beetroot color in my life!”
“What do you expect!” snapped Draco. “It was meant to be me! I wanted to take control!”
“Why didn’t you?”
The hold went silent. It was Samson who asked the question. Lt. Draco seemed lost for words and struggled to speak.
“Because he was a coward!” snarled Lt. Servill. Samson heard Hailey take in a breath as she expected her Grandfather to leap to a defence. “He could have attacked. But Silverfang’s eyes were so frightening and unusual that they stopped the mutineers in their tracks. To this day, we still don’t know how to describe them.”
“I’m glad I didn’t,” said Draco darkly. “He has made a much better Captain than I could ever be. He has made harder choices and has taken us on many successful treasure quests. He values life, but is not afraid to kill if the need arises, and he takes good care of us.”
“When Silverfang took over,” said Darius in a raspier and worn tone, as if his voice was haggard by an injury, “he made sure he had the support of the mutineers. He made the surviving leaders Lieutenants and took the one he thought to be the most trustworthy as his second. He also enforced order onto the ship. We are still pirates, but pirates who obey laws and show respect and good judgement in many cases. We try not to kill when we attack and pillage. We just sneak up behind them and tie up the crew. Knock out a few if we’re lucky. We take what we can get and go. We always leave at least one crewmember untied, so that when he wakes up, he can free his friends.”
There was a murmur of laughter before Lt. Clara looked at her watch.
“Come on, Lt. Servill. Old Silverfang won’t like it if you’re late for your watch.” The Hissi grumbled in response, taking a large gulp of water from a flagon. Clara sighed, rising from the table.
“Don’t worry. I’ll come with you.”
With a chuckle, Servill left the table, following Clara up the rope ladder to the deck.
“How big is this ship... Sir?” Samson hastened to add. As he was probably going to be here for some time, he would have to get used to treating his superiors like superiors.
“Pretty big,” replied Lt. Draco. “Above this hold is the deck and below us is the crewmember’s hold and below that is the brig. Beside us are the infirmary, the food locker and the treasure room. It has forty-five cannons on either side. It also has two tall masts with nearly untearable sails. It’s just your basic war ship in a sense.”
“So, will I be able to meet Captain Silver-?”
There was a rumble and the hold gave a sudden lurch. The tray of meat slid from the table and crashed into the wall.
“By the ocean! What was that?” cried Lt. Draco.
“I think we’ve been hit!” yelled Darius, galloping from his seat. A large Eyrie made his way down into the hold.
“We are under fire!” it shouted in a deep voice. “Battle stations!”
“Aye, aye, Sir!” responded Darius. “Lt. Draco! Join the others bellow! Samson! Hailey! Come with me! You’ll be more useful on the deck! Samson!”
“Do you know how to fire a cannon, or climb the rigging?”
“I can learn, Sir.”
Darius smiled. “Lucky you, Swiftpaw. You may meet the Captain sooner than you thought.”
Darius galloped up the stairs and onto the deck. “Lt. Servill! Report!” he shouted. Rain splattered across the fine wood and the ship rocked back and forth against the waves.
“Another ship, Sir!” hissed Servill loudly. “Port bow! It fired at us without warning!”
“Where is the Captain?” Darius asked.
“He’s at the wheel, Sir! He’s trying to steer the ship closer! We can’t see much this far away in this gale!”
Another blast from the enemy ship slashed across the mast, ripping through the damp sail, slowing the ship down.
“Repair that damage!” yelled a voice. It was the same voice Samson had heard before! The Captain’s voice! The Lupe turned his head to see him but the rain clouded his vision. He could only make out a shadow of a standing Kougra in a long coat with a three-pronged pirate’s hat and a long tail.
“Samson! Hailey! Climb up there! Now!” cried Darius, running to a cannon.
“Come on!” shouted Hailey, yanking Samson by the paw. They grabbed hold of the slippery rope and began to scale their way up to the tear. Hailey Shock had the advantage of flight, but it was no use to her in such heavy rain.
There were shouts from bellow as a cannon ball careened right into the side of the ship, smashing into a cannon and flinging it across the deck.
“Fire!” yelled Darius. His voice was followed by the bang of a cannon. Samson turned to see the Lieutenant’s shot strike home. The tallest mast of the enemy ship collapsed and the ship came to a shuddering halt, thrashing about uselessly in the high waves.
“They’re sitting ducks now!” called the Captain. “We can catch up to them as long as we get that sail repaired!”
“Hurry up, you dogs!” yelled Lt. Clara from below.
Samson tried to keep a tight hold on the rigging. He had never done this before or, at least he didn’t remember doing this before, and was struggling to keep his grip. He was almost at the tear now. Rain lashed at his face as he moved his paw towards it.
“Get out of my way!” A force almost threw Samson from the ropes. Swinging around frantically, he turned and faced a large Darigan Kougra with fearsome red eyes who grabbed for the flapping tear at an unnatural speed and pulled it back up.
“Don’t just sit there drinking the rain!” he shouted at Samson. “Help me!”
The Lupe pushed his fury behind him and jumped up onto the mast, his paws slipped out from under him and he fell with his stomach across the giant beam of wood. Winded, he reached for the loose flap.
“I can’t reach!” he cried.
“Either grow longer legs or get out of my way!” snapped the Kougra. He lifted his leg and was preparing to kick him off the mast.
“Don’t you dare!” snapped Hailey. She sluggishly flew down and grabbed the flap, swinging slightly. She then flapped desperately to lift it up close enough for Samson to grab it.
The wind took hold and Hailey grasped tightly to the mast.
“Whatever you do, don’t let go!” she ordered.
“We have speed, Sir!” shouted Darius.
No sooner had he said that the ship lurched dangerously with a heavy impact. There were a hundred cries of horror and Lt. Draco came staggering out shouting: “We’re gaining water!”
“There must be a hole in the ship!” the Captain replied. Darius took action.
“Minnie! Coral! Dive in and repair!”
“Yes, Sir!” Two female neopets, a Maraquan Mynci and a Tyrannian Peophin, dashed across the deck, carrying a large amount of bunched up cloth each. They leapt over the side and dived into the chaotic water.
The ship rose slightly and water was thrown from the bottom row of cannon doors using buckets.
“Throw a line! Pull them back up!” ordered Darius. Some more neopets ran to the side of the ship carrying a pair of long, thick ropes and threw them over the rail.
Samson did not have time to watch. He strained against the weight of the torn sail, his paws growing numb with the wet and icing over with the cold.
“I can’t hold on!” he cried.
“Shut up!” snapped the Darigan Kougra.
“I’ll help!” shouted Hailey. She grabbed hold of the sail next to his paw with one of hers and they kept a tight grip as the wind pushed forward.
“We’re coming to its side!” called Darius. “All hands on deck! Prepare for attack! Swiftpaw, Shock, Burnteye! Let go!”
Relieved, Samson let his paws lose their grip, releasing the sail. Suddenly, something pushed against him and he fell forward towards the deck at least two hundred paw steps below! Something grabbed him by the tail and sent him sliding safely across the hard surface just before he landed.
He opened his eyes and saw Hailey flying towards him and handing him a sword.
“Come on!” she ordered. “This ship should have some good treasure. Compensation for firing on us!”
Samson nodded and grabbed the sword. Unsteadily, he joined the others swinging by the soaked and slippery ropes across the ships and landing onto the unknown deck.
There was a sudden explosion and a shriek. Samson looked behind him, expecting to see Hailey. She wasn’t there and all he saw was a mist of cannon smoke and wood dust. Frantically, he tried to call for her in the chaos, but couldn’t find her. When the rain cleared away the dust and debris, he saw that an enemy cannon had ripped a hole in the ship where the pair had been standing a moment before.
“Swiftpaw! Behind you!” Samson turned and saw a huge pirate Skeith bearing down on him with a heavy looking club. He parried it just in time, but the force sent him staggering back into a thick mast. Angrily, the Lupe made a bluff swing which the Skeith fell for, brought his sword back up and smashed him across the head with the handle. The Skeith toppled over, groaning.
Samson nodded gratefully at the neopet that warned him. Lt. Draco nodded back, forcing a Maraquan Acara with two obsidian daggers to a wall.
Second in Command, Medallion Darkwing swooped down and fired a snowball cannon at a red Lenny pursuing him through the stormy air and Lt. Clara and Servill fought side by side against two large, green Grarrls.
Samson ran forward to try and take out one of them when the swift tail of a Zafara caught him on the side. Winded, Samson fell over, slid across the rain sodden wood and dropped his sword. He cried out in horror as the Zafara saw its chance and made a sweeping dive with its blade. Samson closed his eyes. Nothing happened.
There was a ferocious roar and a scream of pain and shock. The Lupe looked up and saw the Darigan Kougra who had tried to kick him off the mast fighting like a wild animal. He charged into the Zafara and threw it overboard into the stormy waves.
Samson couldn’t hold in a gasp. He thought the Captain had ordered his crew not to do anything like that! He stared in terror as the fiendish Kougra licked his jaws like a hungry monster. A maddened Grundo leapt upon his back and caused the Kougra alarm. His red eyes blazed as he whirled round and took flight with the Grundo still clinging on. Samson then saw the silhouette of the Grundo whimper as the Kougra unsheathed his claws, but a bolt of lightning and the roar of the following thunder masked any noise.
Samson winced against the light and heard a crash. When his vision came back, there was a gaping hole in the ships floorboards. Shivering, he peered in.
The Grundo lay comatose under the hole, surrounded with shattered wooden planks. His shirt was torn and his eyes seemed to jump around as if he had taken a dizzying attack.
Snarling, Samson looked back up. The Kougra had gone.
There was a yelp of pain from near the wheel of the enemy ship. Lt. Darius had been fighting the ship’s Captain, a Scorchio with a brown, torn cloak and a fire-blackened hat. Samson watched as Darius stumbled forward, holding his side. The Scorchio leapt up for another attack, swinging his blade down for a killing blow. The Lupe was about to run forward, but Darius’s eye opened wide and the Uni jumped up, head butting the Captain under the jaw. Sputtering in surprise, the Scorchio lost his footing and fell over.
Darius held the sword point at the Captain’s neck.
“Do you surrender?” he snarled louder than the chorus of thunder around the ships. The fighting came to a halt as all eyes turned to the enemy Captain.
Scowling, the Captain flipped his sword around and handed it, handle first, to Darius.
To be continued...