Samson, the Pirate Lupe: Lost Memories - Part Three
Samson slipped down into the deeper parts of the ship later that day. There Fox, the red Lutari who helped to carry both Hailey and Darius down to the sick bay, met him at the bottom of the stairs, as did a huge ruckus.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to get used to it,” he said in a thin voice. “You won’t get much peace and quiet down here.”
“I can tell,” said Samson, scratching one of his ears.
They began to walk up the deck. The rowdy crewmembers were sitting side by side on long tables and were taking double takes and murmuring as the two passed.
“I’m Fox, by the way. Fox Arks. What’s your name?” asked the Lutari. He had bright crimson fur and a long bushy tail that swept across the ground like a brush as they walked. He was a shabby old vest with several dark patches and had a belt with a scabbard and a sword.
“Samson Swiftpaw,” Samson replied.
“Nice to meet you, Samson. Has the Captain assigned you a job yet?”
“No. I can’t remember what I’m good at. So he told me just to try my best at anything. I am good at sword fighting, though.”
“Yeah! I saw you take out that Skeith! That thing was huge! I would turn tail and jump back in the water if I had to fight a thing like that.”
“I didn’t have a choice,” said Samson. “It came too fast. I wasn’t prepared for it.”
“Ah well. At least you survived! I can teach you a few things.” He placed his clawed fingers on his chest dramatically. “Aside from the Lieutenants, the Commander, and the Captain, I am the best sword fighter on this ship!”
“Too bad you’re too much of a coward to go into action!” a voice jeered from the background.
It was the Darigan Kougra.
“Back off, Dagoon!” snarled Fox. “You know when you're not wanted!”
The Kougra cracked a vicious smile. “Swiftpaw! Get over here!”
Samson was too scared to hesitate. He began to move forward, but Fox placed a paw on his shoulder, stopping him.
“Be careful, Sam,” he whispered. “That’s Dagoon Burnteye. He’s the nastiest brute on the crewmember’s list. Give him nothing to work with. If you show any weakness at all, he will get you and make your life here miserable!”
His roar rattled the ship and Fox flinched badly. He let Samson go.
Those few, short steps felt like a death march. Because of what Samson felt on the mast and what he saw on the enemy boat, he was very cautious.
“So, Swiftpaw, let me lay down a few ground rules. A: I get the best food. That means one quarter off of everyone’s rations, B: No one does any game or activity down here without my permission and C: I regularly need a wrestling partner. Today, it's you!”
He rose and grabbed Samson by the neck with his huge paws. He then threw the Lupe onto the table, scattering everyone’s lunch. They began to shout and jeer at Samson, who was now covered in gruel.
“You’re a bad crewmember, Swiftpaw! You have to go and waste everyone’s food! Let me show you what I do to bullies!” Dagoon jumped onto the table and pushed his paw close to Samson’s neck.
“Leave him alone!” shouted Fox, drawing his sword. “Unless you want to fight me?”
Dagoon turned his head and growled, “Is that a challenge?”
“You could call it that!”
The Darigan Kougra laughed. “If I wanted a challenge, I would have caught and played with a petpet!” Many other crewmembers laughed at the brute's humor. “Fine then!” Dagoon jumped off of Samson and down from the table, standing upright, to tower over Fox. His eyes blazed and he raised his claws.
Samson knew that voice. It was Darius! The Uni had his sword aimed at Dagoon’s neck and had his other arm around Matron Cardinal who was supporting him. His entire midsection had a clean bandage wrapped tightly around it.
“A little bit of respect for those who are resting, please!” he ordered. “Get back to work! I’m sure one of the Lieutenants can make you useful for something! Fox, put your sword down, and Samson, get yourself off of that table and cleaned up! I will not have the crewmembers looking so filthy...”
His voice faded for a moment and his sword dropped slightly. Beads of sweat rolled from his forehead.
Dagoon smiled at this. He saw weakness.
“Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir,” he muttered coldly as he backed away from Fox, who had by this time sheathed his sword. The Kougra turned and stalked off in a different direction, punching a crewmember that was laughing in the shoulder.
Lt. Darius let out a sigh of relief and let his sword drop. He leant on it for a moment, catching strained breaths. The Matron frowned.
“Come on, Sir,” she said. “You’ll make yourself worse doing stuff like this. Let's get you back to the sick bay.”
Samson jumped up and shook himself down, splattering gruel onto Fox’s fur.
“How’s Hailey? Is she okay?”
“Well, she’s no longer giggling and is having some lunch,” grunted the Matron, straining under Lt. Darius’s weight. “You can see her if you like. Just help me lift this brute back there.”
Samson agreed and together they carried the Lieutenant back to a room that smelt of herbs and was a calm cedar color.
Darius groaned as Cardinal laid him into one of the beds and tucked him in. He was barely conscious.
“Will he be alright?” asked Samson.
“Oh, don’t worry about him!” replied the Matron. “He’s just weakened. If he had just come to me earlier, this never would have been an issue. He’ll be fine in a few days... as long as he doesn’t do anything stupid.”
The Lupe whirled round and saw Hailey sitting upright on a bed with her arm in a sling and her wing in a cast. She had been cleaned of her layer of soot. She had several large bruises, however, and it pained Samson to look at them. A tray of food lay on her lap and she was eating awkwardly, but happily.
“How are you feeling?” Samson asked, bounding over.
“Sore,” Hailey replied, tilting her head. “But not even a cannon ball can stop me! I’m indestructible!”
“More like very lucky!” jeered Cardinal. “Anyway, visiting hours are over.” She pushed both Samson and Fox out of the sick bay. “Hailey has a voice that could break a thousand eardrums and Lt. Darius needs to rest if he is to recover at all. That wound was deep.” Hailey waved goodbye with her spoon as Cardinal shut the door in the boys’ faces.
“This way,” said Fox, looking back to make sure Dagoon wasn’t following them. “The hammocks are up here.” He indicated a long, wooden room with hammocks slung back and forth across the walls. Various forms of pillows and disorganized sheets were strewn across the hammocks and the floor. “You’ve got the one next to mine.”
Fire burned the ship around Samson as he struggled to breathe through the dark, billowing smoke. The cries of his shipmates swarmed around his ears like flies as parts of the ship collapsed, trapping them.
They shouted for help, but Samson was frozen with fear. He could help them. He could break down those barriers and free them, but the flames licked forward like the hungry tongues of a snake, threatening to devour him if he approached.
The ship shook with another impact and a large explosion knocked Samson to the floor. It lurched downwards and the wood creaked. There was a roar and Samson could feel himself sinking and the wood beneath him splintering. The Lupe slipped through the emerging crack of a ship split apart by the all-consuming fire. His body twisted as he struck beam after beam of the broken vessel and he landed on the cold, hard surface of the water before sinking into its dark depths.
He opened his eyes and grabbed hold to the ships side with his claws. The front half groaned as it began to flip over, pulling Samson up and out.
Spluttering, the Lupe cried out as he watched the devastated remains of his home be thrashed back and forth by the waves and its torn and blackened flag crushed by the claws of the sea. Wincing, he looked up and saw a shadowed object in the distance. His vision was blurred by water, but he just made out the enemy ship that had attacked them for no reason and its flag, bearing the symbol of a clawed Kougra paw and a wing over a red circle, fluttering triumphantly in the stormy wind.
He shouted at it uselessly, yelling at it in fear and hatred. There was a bang and a thin whirring flew closer and closer towards him. For a brief second, he saw a small black ball pierce into the wood under his chest.
Suddenly, there was a huge explosion and his vision went black with only the ringing in his ears to remember.
Samson twisted in terror upon the S.M.’s wooden floor. A pair of paws tried desperately to hold him still and a voice tried to wake him up. His eyes flew open and he screamed.
“Shut him up!” snapped a tired voice from above.
“I can’t!” another voice snapped back. “I don’t know what’s wrong! Get Matron Cardinal!”
“I remember!” whimpered Samson, his eyes glassy with fright. “We were attacked! There was a fire! The ship broke apart! Explosions! Water!” The Lupe screamed again. He was insane with terror.
“Sam! Nothing can hurt you! Don’t worry. The ship is fine.”
“Help! Help!” moaned Samson. “I can’t save you! The fire! It’ll hurt me!”
“He’s delirious!” Fox called.
“Fox?” Samson whispered. “Fox?”
“Oh! For the sake of Neopia! If you won’t make him silent, I will!”
“Don’t come near him, Dagoon!” Fox snarled, ready to leap to Samson’s defence.
Samson could hear heavy paw steps upon the ground in front of him. He looked up and could just make out Dagoon poised above him, holding a heavy bottle over the Lupe’s head. It came down with a bone-breaking force.
Samson had never seen so many stars.
“Samson? Samson, can you hear me?”
The Lupe awoke to the dim light of a candle and the feint scent of medicine. He groaned.
“He’s coming round!” It was that voice again. It was Hailey’s voice.
“Oh... My head.” Samson’s vision cleared and he tried to sit up. Immediately, Matron Cardinal pushed him back down.
“Don’t move a muscle,” she said calmly. “You have been pretty badly concussed, no thanks to Fox.”
“Hey! It wasn’t my fault! I was the one who sent someone to get you. Dagoon acted too quickly for any of us to stop him!”
“I’m sure you could have stopped him somehow. You could have tackled him!”
“He had a bottle! I was unarmed!”
“That hasn’t stopped you before.”
“Where am I?” asked Samson, weakly.
Cardinal turned to him. “Don’t worry. You’re in the sick bay, in Hailey’s old bed.”
“Right here!” said the Draik. Samson’s vision cleared and he looked up. Hailey was sitting on another bed that was chained to a wall above him. “It’s a spare bunk, in case a more urgent case comes in,” she laughed, reading his thoughts.
“It looks like you're becoming accident prone, Swiftpaw.”
Samson looked to his side and saw Lt. Darius sitting up in his bed looking at him with concern. “Let’s hope this doesn’t continue when you begin your duties.”
“What time is it?” groaned the Lupe, rubbing his face.
Fox turned to a half warped clock above a shelf of jars. “I think it's almost dawn. You only woke the whole ship up at around midnight and you’ve been out for a few hours.” The Lutari then gave a sigh of relief. “I thought he killed you.”
“Don’t worry, Fox. He’ll be punished for his actions,” growled Darius. “No-one on this ship gets away with something like that! And I’ll make a point of that when we do a public punishment tomorrow.”
“What do you mean we?” snapped Cardinal. “You, Lieutenant, are not going anywhere until I can be sure you are healed up properly.”
“It's only a scratch--”
“A deep cut--”
“And after breakfast, I’ll feel well enough to fight.”
They glared at each other for a moment before calling a mental truce.
“I remembered something,” Samson said weakly, sitting up.
Matron Cardinal looked up. “I told you to lie down--!”
“I’m fine now! My head’s clearing...”
Fox looked at his friend. “What do you remember?” he asked.
“I... I...” Samson stammered. “I’m not sure...”
“Don’t worry, Swiftpaw,” said Lt. Darius, encouragingly. “We’re here to talk to. I’m sure you can remember something.”
“Yes!” Samson said suddenly. His eyes gained a hazy glow as if fire burned within the pupils. “The ship... My ship... No! My parent’s ship burned!” His breath quickened and he slammed his paws round his ears. “We were attacked! They just attacked us out of the blue for no reason at all! Their ship came out of the fog too late for us to take action! They fired on us! The ship was blown apart!”
He stopped for a moment to take a shaky few breaths.
“I remember the cries of my friends, the pets I had grown up with. They were trapped on the boat, behind the flames while I was free. I could have saved them, but I didn’t. I don’t know why! I just didn’t! And now they’re gone!”
Samson sobbed into his sheets. His body shook with horror as the terrible memories flooded back into him. Memories of the fear that stopped him from rescuing the only family he had known.
Samson grunted through his tears.
“Swiftpaw, how did the ship catch fire?” It was Darius and his voice was serious. The kind of serious where one becomes worried and has an idea of what’s going on, but can’t bear to confirm it himself.
“The ship fired cannon balls that exploded.” There was a hiss of agitation and terrified excitement from the Lieutenant.
Darius gulped. “What did the ship look like?”
“I don’t know. There was too much fog.”
“Did you see its flag?”
“For the sake of Neopia, Swiftpaw! Did you see its flag or didn’t you?” Lt. Darius snapped.
Samson shivered and removed his covers only inches from his now red and wet eyes. He side-stared at the Lieutenant, barely turning his head. Darius was half out of bed, gripping the mattress with frustration and staring back at him with his one blue eye, glazed with fear and realization.
It was then when Samson whispered, “It had a silhouetted clawed paw and a bat’s wing crossing each other over a circle of red.”
Lt. Darius shivered and sprang from the bed, flipping the covers backwards. He stumbled into the wall, smashing medicine bottles, but continued to gallop out.
“Captain!” he cried as he ascended to the upper levels of the ship.
“Lt. Darius! What’s wrong?” Matron Cardinal called after him. Fox and Hailey pulled Samson out of bed and followed the rampant Uni to the deck.
“What the blazes is going on here!” yelled Commander Darkwing, watching the group scramble onto deck. “You can’t disturb the Captain! He’s asleep!”
“It’s urgent!” shouted Lt. Darius, gasping for air. He cantered up to the Commander and whispered something in his ear.
The Commander’s eyes widened. “We must inform him immediately!”
“I’ll inform him!” snapped Darius. “You get everyone up here! He’ll want to set off as soon as possible!” The Eyrie nodded.
“All hands on deck!” he bellowed as Samson, Hailey and Fox followed Lt. Darius to the Captain’s cabin.
“What is going on?” sputtered Lt. Draco sleepily, stumbling from his quarters in his dressing gown with his sword belt in his paw and his hat on backwards.
“Don’t ask us!” Fox answered. “He just flipped out. Something about a flag with a clawed paw and a bat’s wing over a red blob!”
Lt. Draco’s jaw dropped. “Oh, no!” he muttered, grabbing his coat. He pushed open the door to the deck at the end of the hallway, shouting, “All hands on deck!”
The three friends turned round to try and catch up to Lt. Darius. Everything was spinning round so fast that Samson had no clue whether he was coming or going.
The Uni sped into Silverfang’s chambers without knocking and slammed the door in the other pets’ faces.
For a moment there was silence, and then a roar of anger from the Captain. The roar was then stunted and turned into a pained cry. There was a smash of something fragile and then the door flew open. The Pirate Kougra ran out in his long, cream dressing gown, coat, sword belt and hat, quickly followed by Lt. Darius. Samson was pushed back into the wood of the small hallway with Hailey and Fox and had to regain their footing before they followed.
The view upon their exit was of sleepy chaos. Ship hands in their nightwear swayed subconsciously onto the deck to do their jobs. Some, such as Dagoon Burnteye, were more vocal about it than most.
“Set sail!” roared the Captain, running to the wheel, his coattails flapping behind him like a manic pair of wings. He gripped the handles of the wheel with his paws and twisted it round, glaring at the coming dawn with his indescribable eyes. It seemed to Samson that nothing more mattered to the Captain than his new goal. As to what that goal was, Samson could only speculate. The ship lurched against the tide, and they were suddenly heading back the way they had come.
To be continued...