Messenger: Just Another Pirate Tale - Part Six
Waves tossed me back and forth, flinging me into the cold salty night air, then tossing me down into the murky depths below. I gave up trying to control my movements, gave up struggling against the water. Gave up trying to live. I was sure to drown, anyway. There was nothing in sight, no ship, not Maractites, no captain, no Bluecloud, no Pecan. Not even a chunk of driftwood to grab onto. I was alone. Again.
“Well, well, well, what have we here?” A strong hand gripped my shoulder and drew me up out of the water, and onto a boat. I tried to sigh, but it ended up sounding more like a strangled cough. Was my life flashing before my eyes? Was I simply replaying, in my mind, being pulled back aboard the Waverider? If so, I was dead. Drowned. Finally.
“So you survived?” The voice was more like a snarl now. The unseen hands flung me away, across the deck of a ship. Only this ship was different. It was clean, new, and freshly painted, not like the Captain’s ship, which was old, creaking, and rotted. This boat, hopefully, would not be destroyed. Hopefully.
“Is it the Wocky again?” drawled a slow, careless voice, most likely feminine. “Well, Dole, this one certainly is durable. I’ve never known a pet to survive two such desperate attempts on her life.”
Dole! I would have sat up straight and drawn my cutlass--my broken, useless cutlass--if it had not been that I was hungry, tired, most likely sick, and soaked through. All I could do was lie there and listen to two people argue about how to kill me.
“I thought for sure those pirates would take care of her,” snapped Dole. “You know they’re hostile to sea-dwellers.”
“Come on, Dole, do you really think that they would do that? She doesn’t even look like a Maractite. Or Maraquan. Whatever. Which one is it?”
“I have no idea,” snarled Dole. “You should know.”
“Now, don’t you get snappish at me. None of this would ever have happened without--hmm, let’s see--me.”
“You should have just left her to die when I pushed her off the dock. Tell me why we rescued her again?”
“How should I know? You’re the one who told me to rescue her in the first place.”
Rescue me? A thought nagged at my mind. Only two people had really rescued me so far today, and only one of them had a voice like this...
“Come now, Dole,” the female voice purred. “Shouldn’t we at least wake her?”
“You’re right,” Dole’s voice purred back. Yuck. They sounded like two Angelpi on Valentine’s Day. I was jolted out of my thoughts as suddenly Dole seized my shoulder and heaved me upright so that I was facing him. A coy face poked over his shoulder. Those kind, loving features had been pulled back into a malicious smirk. Ana.
“You betrayed me!” I sputtered, pointing at Ana. Her wide smirk got even wider.
“I never betrayed you, dear,” she crooned. “To truly betray someone, you have to have been on their side. And I was never on your side.”
“So you tricked me!”
“It’s not my fault you weren’t smart enough to find me out.”
“He wants to exterminate the Maractites!” I yelled. “Don’t you care at all for your own people?”
“A minor side effect of war,” said Ana, waving her delicate blue fin dismissively. Suddenly she turned, her eyes narrowed, staring at the waves. “It seems we have a visitor, Dole.”
“Sheesh,” I muttered, under my breath.
“Hellooooo!” screeched Bluecloud, as she landed face down on the deck at my feet. “I came! That huge wave catapulted me over here! It was awesome! Whatcha gotta say to that, eh?”
“*Facepalm*,” I muttered. “*Headdesk.* Or would that be *headdeck*? I don’t think they have desks on pirate ships.”
“So they both survived,” said Dole darkly, twirling his cutlass. He turned to Ana. “This is bad.”
“At least the Gallion didn’t survive,” stuttered Ana nervously.
“Oh, Pecan?” asked Bluecloud, rising to an unsteady stand. “He’s right here.” She reached her hand into her pocket and withdrew a rather disgruntled looking Tyrannian Gallion. He gave a pitiful cry when he saw Dole and limped into my arms. The spearhead had been long since pulled out of his wing by the waves, but he was still bleeding profusely. Crooning to him, I cradled my petpet in my arms, attempting to stop the blood flow. Boy, did I wish that Mom was here. Or Rooli. They were both certified petpet doctors--or in Rooli’s case, certified petpet doctor trainees. What had Mom said about stopping blood? Apply pressure to the wound. Okay, I could try that. Hopefully.
“This is bad,” muttered Dole, beginning to pace around the deck. “Very bad.”
“Why have you captured us?” I shouted at him. “We’re of no use to you!”
“You’re heroes,” said Dole bluntly, “and those are highly dangerous to the bad guys--although, from my perspective, I’m not the bad guy. You two are.”
“We’re trying to stop you!” yelled Bluecloud. “We’re the good guys!”
“Really?” questioned Dole. “And how can you possibly have any hope of stopping me? I have a fully armed ship of about thirty or so pirates, not to mention that we’re miles away from any land, which means that your--ahem--disappearances would go unnoticed. Oh, your families might search for a while, but they’d never find you. I can assure that.” Smirking, he casually flipped his cutlass in the air, caught it with his teeth, and balanced in on his pinky. All in a matter of seconds. Yep, that was Dole all right. Show-off.
“We’ll beat you... we’ll beat you by... we’ll beat you with luck!” said Bluecloud brightly.
Dole snorted. “How can you, if you don’t even know why you’re trying to stop me? What am I doing that is so--as you say--bad?”
“You’re... um... trying to take over the world.”
“Too general.” Dole yawned.
“You’re trying to... take over the world using an army of trained Gruslens wearing armor of Skeem skin, and the first squadron has blue eyes, but their secret weakness is that they’re terrified of bubbles, so they can’t really swim, but the ninth platoon has a specialty of swimming, so they will be used to guard the secret base under water, which holds the Lost Diadem of Juliana, which was lost when Juliana was eating breakfast (Swiss cheese on toast with green pepper enchiladas), because her mother always told her that you can’t wear diadems while eating cheese, so her stepbrother’s cousin’s grocer’s butler’s aunt stole and put it under water because she doesn’t like cheese anyway, but that’s okay because she makes really great applesauce.”
“Why does the grocer have a butler?” Ana asked.
“It’s all in my book,” said Bluecloud professionally. “Bluecloud vs. Dole’s Army of Trained Gruslens Wearing Skeem Skin Armor, or Why Jeran Refuses to Eat Dairy Products Even Though His Uncle Owns a Cheese Factory. I can’t decide which.”
“The second title has nothing to do with the actual book,” Ana pointed out.
“And anyways, I didn’t know you had a book.”
“I soon will.”
“Is this supposed to be nonfiction?”
“Of course. It’s an autobiography.”
“...but none of those events actually happened in real life.”
“That’s the whole point.”
“Moving on,” said Dole firmly. “So... yes, I am trying to take over the world, but my plan has absolutely nothing to do with cheese.”
“Or enchiladas,” added Bluecloud.
Dole rolled his eyes and sighed. “Anyways... here’s my plan.”
“Why are you telling us?” I asked. “Isn’t it bad that we know your whole secret plan?”
“Not if I plan to dispose of you afterwards.”
A sudden flash under water caught my eye. As Bluecloud and Dole droned on about how taking over Neopia had nothing to do with cheese (or enchiladas), I was listening in on my own conversation. I only heard snatches of it, but it was enough to give me an idea.
“...so, Tisu, it’s another pirate ship... we do?”
“... when... it now?”
“...no... could be... wait... for them... attack first...”
“...don’t even know we’re here...”
“wait... they will... attack first...”
“So what is your plan?” I asked, whirling around. Dole drew himself up haughtily, glaring at Bluecloud, and began.
“You see, the laws of the Maractite throne are very complicated. Whoever sits upon the throne rules the sea.”
“So you plan to sit on the throne?” interrupted Bluecloud.
“Correct,” purred Dole. “Once I am in control of the sea, I will be able to easily pick off the land one by one, as it is surrounded by the sea. The islands will be easiest, starting with Krawk Island, of course, the land of fools. And how do I plan to take over Maraqua? Simple. Once the war starts, a full-fledged war, not a simple, small battle, all of Maraqua’s troops will be drawn out into the battlefield. The palace will be nearly unguarded. A select few soldiers and I will arrive and dispose of the guards, before I take the throne. I will then withdraw all of my troops, pirates and Maractites alike, and we will begin taking the rest of Neopia. Good, is it not?”
“A master plan,” I agreed.
“So simple,” said Bluecloud grudgingly.
“I see but one flaw,” I said, not missing a beat.
“And what is that, my dear Wocky?”
“Your idea about taking the islands first, since they are surrounded by the enemy without any chance of getting help, is pure genius,” I explained. He nodded. “But I am afraid that we, or rather, you, are at the moment in the same situation.”
“Why, we are on the open sea! Miles from any land! Am I correct?”
“Yes. Exactly one mile from Maraqua, to be exact.”
“So, and I am sure you will all agree with me, we are, at the moment, surrounded by our enemy. Your enemy. The Maractites.”
Dole’s smile was frozen on his face. He stood there, stock still, staring at me. I looked at Bluecloud, and our eyes met. She nodded, and began creeping up behind Ana.
“Help! The Acara has attacked me!” Ana yelped, floundering on the deck. Dole whipped around quickly, and, while he was distracted, I ran over and grabbed his cutlass. He turned to me, snarling, as I faced him, sword raised. Then he laughed.
“Well, well, Emma,” he said, smiling. “Do you plan to take on my entire crew with a single sword?” With that, he snapped his fingers, and immediately pirates began filing out onto the deck, their teeth drawn back in a snarl, sharp, gleaming cutlasses held out in front of them. I smiled back at Dole and casually tossed the sword over board.
“Wha-” Dole started, but he never got to finish his sentence. From below, there were shouts of “The pirates have attacked us!” and “Don’t just stand there, fools, go get them!” and “I heard their plan! Attack them before they take the throne!” The pirates whirled around as scores of Maractites leaped onto the deck and began a fierce battle, cutlasses, spears, daggers, and hammers clashing and clanging as the bitter enemies dueled.
“Bluecloud! Emma! Down here!” Bluecloud and I rushed to the railing and looked down at the waters below, where the Captain floated in the water, clutching a large piece of driftwood. Together we pulled him back up where he thanked us and leaped into the battle, fighting alongside the Maractites with his cutlass.
Suddenly Pecan gave a shrill warning squeal, and I whipped around to see Dole reaching into one of the wooden barrels on the deck. She shoved a large orb onto his head and leaped into the water.
“After him!” I shouted, grabbing three breathing orbs and handing them out to myself, Bluecloud, and Pecan. Thankfully there were different sizes, and Pecan was able to fit into the smallest one quite nicely. Together, we dove into the raging waves, after Dole’s swiftly retreating tail, and toward Maraqua--to stop an evil cheese-hating genius from taking over the world.
To be continued...