Samson, the Pirate Lupe: Lost Memories - Part Four
The S.M. had been sailing at a constant pace for the rest of the night and continued past dawn. The crew was tired and irritable. There was no singing, no conversation, and no cheery moods during work.
Samson had been recruited to the menial task of re-tying the loose rope under the masts along with Fox. The Lupe now wore a clean, more or less white shirt Fox had let him borrow, grey pants, torn at the cuffs, and a tattered red bandanna tied behind his ears. He looked pretty good for a pet who had escaped a sinking ship, realized he had amnesia, been beaten up, dreamt a traumatic dream, and caused mass chaos aboard a ship in the first few days. He was pretty proud of himself.
“Do you remember how to do this?” asked Fox as he watched Samson stare blankly at the rope.
“I think I do,” the Lupe replied. “I just need to know what the knot is called and then I’ll probably be able to do it.”
Fox thought for a moment. “Well... I don’t know what the knot is called, but...” He began to indicate with the rope. “It's like this... this and this.”
There was a pause.
“That’s very descriptive of you, Fox. I now know exactly what I’m doing,” growled Samson, sarcastically.
Fox frowned. “Well, you just have to teach yourself then!” he snapped and threw the rope at Samson’s face, knocking him over.
“Hey!” Samson laughed as he struggled with the rope that was coiled about him like a snake. For a moment, the Lupe glanced to the wheel of the ship where Captain Silverfang had been self-posted all night and morning. He wore the exact same expression as he had when Lt. Darius had told him about the flag. Darius was standing next to him, proudly, if wearily, watching the decks and the ocean surrounding the S.M. His wound didn’t even seem to faze him.
Samson looked up at the bird’s nest, the small open compartment at the tip of the highest mast on the ship. Hailey sat on its edge, her legs and tail swinging rhythmically over the side. In her good paw was a silver spyglass placed against her eye as she eagerly watched the oceans.
The Lupe thought the entire affair was strange. All of the Lieutenants seemed to be on edge and the oldest of the crewmembers kept flinching in fear.
“Fox?” said Samson. The red Lutari grunted in response. “What’s so special about the flag that I mentioned last night? Why did all of the senior ship pets flip out?”
“It's because of the stories!” shouted a voice from above. Hailey came sliding down the mast with one paw clamped to the old wood and her two back legs and her good wing helping her descent. Her silver spyglass swung loosely on her belt along with a short sword and a small purse of valuables. She still looked battered from her ordeal, but she had the highest spirits of any ship hand.
“What stories?” asked Samson.
“Hey! He asked me!” snapped Fox.
“Do you know the answer?”
Fox met the question with silence and a cold stare.
Hailey stepped in between Fox and Samson and sat down on another pile of rope. “I’ve heard from my grandfather that the symbol of a clawed paw and a bat’s wing crossing over a red circle is the sign of the demon ship. It’s called the Mist Hunter and always attacks when there is a thick fog and its prey can’t see it.”
“That’s what happened to my ship!” cried Samson. “We were stuck in a thick fog and suddenly we were attacked!”
“Keep your voice down!” snapped Fox. “They’ll hear you!” He glanced at Lt. Servill, who was now turning his gaze away from them.
Hailey sighed. “Anyway,” she growled. “It is said that ever since Captain Tactrick Silverfang took over the ship, the Mist Hunter has been hunting us. The Sea Monster has survived many battles with it and has been hit more than once by its exploding cannon balls.”
“Pardon me, but what did you say?” Samson interrupted. “Who’s the Sea Monster?”
“The S.M.!” huffed Fox. “S.M. stands for Sea Monster!”
Hailey shrugged it off. “But the worst attack came when there was a fog followed by an icy chill. This ship suddenly found itself in peril with no idea where the next attack would come from. I wasn’t there, but Grandpa says my mom and dad were. My mom was the first to spot the M.H. coming up on our bow. They had only just managed to prepare themselves when the crew of the M.H. boarded the ship. They attacked viciously. They threw many of the crew off the ship and stole a large amount of treasure and food. They also stole,” Hailey paused for effect, “Captain Silverfang’s only daughter.”
Samson’s eyes widened while Fox gasped.
“I never knew that!” the Lutari said.
“So that’s why he was so concerned. That’s why he’s been getting us to power this ship non-stop for the past night and morning. He wants revenge.”
“I think it’s a bit deeper than that,” said Hailey. “I think he hopes his daughter is still alive.”
The friends looked around, just in case anyone was listening.
“Is she?” asked Fox.
Hailey shrugged. “How am I meant to know? The Captain never talks about it and I wasn’t even born when it happened. I learned everything from my Grandpa.”
“You told the story just like he would too,” complimented Samson.
Hailey blushed. She leant forward a bit more. “I know one more thing,” she whispered. “It is said that when Silverfang and his daughter were attacked, the Captain fought bravely, but the invader made a low blow, scarred his knee, and knocked him out. By the time he woke up, the M.H. crew were gone and his daughter was missing. We only know that he hopes that his daughter was taken and not thrown overboard.”
“Hey! Slackers!” snarled a voice. The friends jumped out of the skin and looked down. It was Dagoon. “Get back to work!” he snarled, flapping his wings irritably.
Snorting with contempt for the nefarious ship hand, Samson looked back at the wheel. Silverfang was staring to the side, but his eyes were red and glazed with fresh tears. It was then that the Lupe realized that the old Kougra’s hearing was much better than what he expected. Silverfang must have heard every word they said.
It was nearing the end of a work heavy day and the crew were exhausted. They had come back to the place where Samson was found, but could see no trace of the Mist Hunter. The Captain, worn out himself, allowed most of the crew to retire for the night.
Even though it was almost silent on deck, below it a riot seemed to be going on. Dagoon was shouting loudly with his brutish followers with no respect for any other ship hand on the S.M. They were in the middle of an obviously unfair game of Neopoker when Hailey summoned up the courage to approach. She was tired, sore and infuriated by the company’s behaviour and she would not rest until she told them about it. Samson and Fox chased her from behind, trying to convince her to stop and not bother and that she was going to get hurt, but she didn’t listen.
“Hey! Burnteye!” she snapped. When he ignored her, she insulted him further. “Tatter wings! Why don’t you listen to someone with a brain for once?”
Dagoon’s eyes flicked dangerously up at the Draik.
“Hailey, stop! Do you have a death wish?” Fox whispered from behind her shoulder.
“Some of us are trying to sleep! If you’re so energetic, why don’t you get one of the Lieutenants to have you scrub the ship’s kitchen?”
“Hold your tongue, girl! Unless you want to spend the rest of your life muted?” Samson noticed the knuckles of Dagoon’s paws tensing and growing white.
“Why not? I would still be able to accomplish more then you with my life!” Hailey taunted. Dagoon’s short temper snapped. He snarled and flew across the table, ramming into her. He took her by her broken arm and squeezed it.
Hailey cried out in pain.
“Do you want me to re-break this, kid? Huh? Is that what you want?” His roar was loud and manic. He grabbed Hailey’s bruised face as he pushed her against the wall and made her stare into his cruel red eyes.
“Hey, Burnteye, maybe you should-.” His fellow’s meek protest was cut short as Dagoon whirled his head, baring his teeth. The follower sat down and cowered under his paws.
“How about I just take your arm.” He tore the sling away with one claw and took her arm in his paws. “And then I can twist...” He began to wring her arm in his grip. She was silent, but began to cry. “And I can snap!” He made the motion that he was going to break it like a twig. Hailey screamed before the damage was done. Dagoon stopped and laughed. He pushed her to the ground, where she sat, shivering.
“See, friends!” he hollered. “That’s called psychological torment! As soon as you’ve mastered that, then you can get anything you want!”
“Then... Why are you a brutish, starving, lowly ship hand on a ship that steals for a living?” Hailey’s voice was meek, but she said it and took pride in that it made Dagoon physically flinch.
“You little brat!” he snarled turning around. “The foolish Granddaughter of the joke of a Lieutenant!”
“Don’t you dare call him a joke, Dagoon! At least I have family on this ship. Yours probably jumped the plank long ago to get away from you!”
That was the last straw. Dagoon jumped at her, his claws unsheathed and his teeth bared. Hailey shielded herself with her wing. There was a roar, but Dagoon’s attack never hit its mark. Hailey opened her eyes to find Samson, lying on the ground with his grey fur slashed from his shoulder.
“Don’t touch her!” he growled threateningly, standing back up. The crew formed a circle around the two as they stalked each other, waiting for the moment to spring. Dagoon went first. He charged and grabbed hold of Samson’s leg, trying to flip him over, but Samson jumped up and clamped his jaws onto the Kougra’s wing. Dagoon cried out and wheeled on the spot, smacking Samson on the hip with his sharp claws. Samson let out a howl and let go of the wing. Dagoon took his chance to kick him across the face and send him flying to the floor. Before Samson’s vision could focus, Dagoon ran at him again and grabbed the scruff of his neck with his huge paws. The beast began to shake the Lupe out of consciousness. Dissatisfied, the Kougra threw him to the ground, flipped him over and placed a paw on his chest.
Panting, he said, “What’s the matter, Swiftpaw? Are you tired? Tough!” Snarling, Dagoon grabbed him again and cuffed him several times across the face.
Yelping, Samson lurched his head forwards and head butted Dagoon in the stomach. The Kougra gasped, winded. Dagoon keeled over, rasping for air. Samson staggered back to his paws and ran forward ready to hit the Darigan Kougra again.
“Sam! Sam!” shouted a familiar voice. “You can stop now! I think he has the message.” It was Fox. Samson stopped in his tracks and backed off sluggishly from Dagoon, who shook and spluttered in anger and fear. The Lupe took several slow breaths before returning to his senses and walking back to bed.
“Swiftpaw!” called a pained voice. Samson turned around and received a direct punch in the stomach. Dagoon’s paw had become a fist and struck home. The Lupe was knocked to the ground, gasping in surprise.
“Stop!” yelled a commanding voice, as Dagoon was about to charge again. It was Darius, flanked by Lt. Draco. The Uni galloped in between the pair as Draco restrained Dagoon.
“It's her fault!” snapped the Darigan Kougra, nodding his head to Hailey. “She attacked me first!”
There was a moment of tense silence as the unoffending pets backed away, including Fox. Lt. Darius looked from Dagoon, to Hailey and to Samson. A hint of disappointment crossed his eye.
“All three of you will be taken to see the Captain right now! He is awake and was calling for all hands to be on deck. But now I realise that there was a spectator sport more important than getting to the place we need to be! Now, I suggest that every single one of you obeys his command before you all walk the plank! Now, MOVE!”
The pets had no hesitation and swarmed out onto the deck while Samson, Hailey and Dagoon were lead out as if they were a funeral procession. They were marked with the disgrace of the meaningless fight. And now they were going to pay for it.
“What did you think you were doing?” snarled Captain Silverfang as he glared at the trio of ship hands. Samson and Hailey looked solemn while Dagoon stared coldly at the Captain, his claws twitching. The large pirate Kougra walked back and forth between them. Lt Draco stood next to Darius who was by the door, leaning lightly against the wall.
“I am ashamed of you!” the Captain yowled. “How dare you try to fight each other upon this ship! We are a Pirate ship! Our job is to hunt down other ships and loot them! If we attack and kill each other, there will not be enough of us to run the S.M., let alone take anything without being slaughtered in the process!” The Captain snorted and slumped back behind his desk. Samson, for the first time, had noticed how weary he looked. He must have not slept for over two days.
Silverfang folded his paws beneath his grey chin. “Now,” he growled. “Explain yourselves. I want to hear the full story.”
The three offenders were silent for a moment. Dagoon rubbed his neck while Samson dabbed at his lip, which he had bitten in the fight. They were not about to say anything. Hailey was the first to speak.
“I apologize, Sir,” she said. “Dagoon and his friends were making a beyond reasonable racket while the rest of us were trying to sleep.” She inclined her head slightly. “I got upset and argued with him. I insulted him enough for him to grab my broken arm and ram me against the wall-.”
“Liar!” snarled Dagoon. He turned to the Captain. “I would never harm a wounded crew mate!” He turned his head sharply to Hailey. “Let alone a girl!”
Hailey responded with a warning growl.
Silverfang slammed his paw on the table, claws unsheathed.
“I do not like liars!” he snapped. “Especially not those who have lied to me before.” He shifted his eyes to Dagoon. “Hailey has never lied to me and, obviously, as she was harmed or about to be harmed, Samson jumped up and fought to defend her. Why else would he have so many small injuries?” The Captain sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
“As punishment, Dagoon Burnteye, you will be flogged a dozen times tonight by Lt. Draco.” Draco cracked his knuckles eagerly behind the door, his eyes fiery with rage. “Samson Swiftpaw, you will be flogged only six times tomorrow morning as you acted in defence to another crewmember. Hailey Shock, as you were the only one to tell me the truth and did not physically fight, you will keep watch of the ocean for the rest of tonight and tomorrow morning until noon. Now, is that understood?”
The three nodded slowly.
“You are dismissed.”
They were lead out by Draco who left Samson and Hailey to their own devices while he continued down to the depths of the ship with Dagoon’s scruff under his claws.
Samson stamped his paw on the ground angrily and padded to the side of the ship.
Hailey sighed. “Now he’s going to make our lives miserable without beating us up,” she said. “At least we beat him this time.”
Samson grumbled and rubbed the wound on the back of his neck. Hailey joined him at the ship’s side. “Here,” she said, tearing off some of the fabric from her shirt and handing it to the Lupe. “This will stop the bleeding.”
“Thanks,” said Samson, sadly. He took the cloth and placed it on the wound. He hissed as it stung him slightly.
They sat in silence for a while and listened to the gentle brush of the waves against the ship and the sails flap in the cool night breeze.
“Thanks for defending me,” Hailey said to break the tension. “Dagoon probably would have really hurt me if you didn’t jump in front just in time.”
“You don’t have to thank me,” Samson growled, setting his head on the thick, wooden railing. “It was just an open opportunity. I was waiting for him to do something like that. He’s such a jerk. I wanted him to suffer.”
“Did you factor in that you would be hurt too?”
Samson snorted. “Of course!” he laughed. “It was pretty obvious that he would kick the snot out of me; he’s almost twice my size. But one day, he’s going to attack one of us again. He could even kill one of us, whether he got away with it or not. I don’t want to let that happen. Lt. Darius and Draco won’t always be there to stop the fight. Some day Dagoon could corner us and tear us limb from limb. What scares me is that he wouldn’t care if the consequences of his actions cost him his life. He would just continue until we were dead or someone kills him.”
“That’s a pretty morbid thought,” said Hailey, jokingly.
“But it's true.” Samson turned his head to her and looked her in the eyes. He was serious. “I don’t want to see you get hurt like that again, Hailey,” he said. “I want to be able to fight him till the end without being beaten or scared. I want some excuse to throw him overboard and the strength to do it.”
Hailey snarled. “Don’t treat me like a little kid, Swiftpaw! You’ve only been here a couple of days while I was born here and have lived my whole life on this ship! As soon as I’m better, I won’t need protecting from you or anybody else!”
Samson recoiled. “Sorry, Hailey. I was just trying to-.”
“I know what you were trying to do, so stop it!” She pointed to her mouth. “Read my lips! I. Don’t. Need. Protecting!”
At that moment, there was a yelp from below the decks. Dagoon was being flogged. Hailey laughed. “My Grandpa does not take kindly to people who hurt me. I already have one protector, so I don’t need another.” Her voice was cold and her tone was vicious.
Samson sighed. Their friendship had just been battered.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “All the same, I really want to be able to defend myself if we get into another fight... for any reason.”
Their conversation was interrupted by another cry of pain from Dagoon. Samson flinched slightly.
“Do you think Lt. Draco will be that hard on me?” he asked. Hailey shrugged.
“He will be hard, but he won’t enjoy it. You defended me from Dagoon, so he won’t smile when he hits you.”
“Great,” Samson said half-heartedly. He lay his head back down on the railing. He was tired and the warm wood acted as a comfortable substitute for a pillow. The soft hum of the sea and the slow, rocking motion of the ship began to make him nod off.
He was suddenly woken up only a few minutes into his nap. Hailey was shouting madly, looking through her spyglass and pointing at the open ocean.
Samson rubbed his eyes and blinked violently. He glanced around him and saw a small crowed of bleary-eyed Lieutenants and the Commander. Lt. Draco and Dagoon had also come back up.
“What is going on?” snapped the Captain, exiting his cabin as he struggled to put on his coat over his nightgown. “What is the meaning of this?”
Samson looked up to see Hailey dancing excitedly up and down on the railing, still pointing at what looked like a small orange blur bobbing up and down on the dancing blue sea.
“What is it, Hailey?” asked Captain Silverfang.
Hailey leaned further forward on the ship banister. Samson feared she would fall off.
“I... I think it’s a neopet, Sir. An orange neopet... But I can’t make out what it is.”
The Captain drew his sword for safety and indicated to Commander Darkwing and Lt. Draco. “Bring it on board!” he ordered. The Erie and the Draik jumped from the deck and flew off towards the floating figure. Silverfang turned to Samson. “Not all your shipmates may have died,” he said, gleefully.
The Lupe tensed. Could that be true? Eagerly, Samson grabbed Hailey’s spyglass, despite the shout of protest, and peered out towards the mystery pet.
No wonder Hailey couldn’t make out what it was! The glass was smeared with water and grit and it was too dark to see anything clearly. The best Samson could make out was an orange smudge being lifted into the air by Darkwing and Draco.
It wasn’t long before an orange Kougra was dumped onto the deck, spluttering water, wearing black, leather pants and carrying a damp, long sword. The Kougra was young, only about Samson’s age and had a long tail, a torn ear and a set of dark stripes.
Gasping and shaking down his fur, the Kougra opened his eyes. Samson and some of the Lieutenants jerked in surprise. His eyes were the same incredible and indescribable, piercing blue as Captain Silverfang’s.
The Kougra staggered to his paws, leaning against the banister of the ship for a moment. He looked up at the Captain and smiled, regaining his posture. He said with a thin, almost musical voice,
To be continued...