Sailing the Stars: Part Eight
The whole crew buzzed with anticipation as their borrowed spaceship sailed further and further away from the battle. Sloth’s escape shuttle was still in sight and they were just catching up when all of a sudden, the communicator began to whine and buzz with static before dying out altogether.
“We’re going out of range!” reported Shadow. “From this point on, we’re on our own.”
“Perfect,” replied Bugsy. She turned to Buckbeak. “Cannon status report?”
“Charged and ready, captain,” Buckbeak replied, “target position of Sloth’s escape shuttle is locked!”
The crew watched as two deadly pink balls of energy flew out from the cannons and headed straight for Sloth’s ship. The two balls both hit it square in the engines, followed by two loud BANGS! The ship slowed down and turned to face them.
“Hold up a minute,” Bugsy ordered, and their ship came to a stop, hovering in mid-space. For a moment, the two ships just stood there, facing each other, before the communicator buzzed again.
“Ylana!” came Sloth’s booming voice. “What in Neopia are you doing?! You’re supposed to be rounding up Captain Bugsy!”
“Don’t mind if she’s already tried and failed!” replied Bugsy, and they all heard Sloth gasp in a breath on the other end. “That was a very dangerous move, Sloth,” Bugsy continued, “and now you’re going to pay for it, along with everything else you’ve done!”
“Oh really?!” Sloth challenged, in a drawling tone.
“Let’s do this,” replied Bugsy, slowly. The two ships began to circle each other.
“Take this!” Sloth yelled and they saw two large missiles launch from his ship, heading straight for them! Bugsy grabbed the crossbar and tilted it sharply to the left, but the rockets just turned around and came at Ylana’s ship again! They were homing missiles!
“Quick! Activate deflector shields!” yelled Bugsy. Nikolikan darted for the control panel and jammed her finger down on a button. A bubble of translucent blue energy instantly surrounded their ship. The homing missiles came in once again and collided with the bubble, exploding instantly. The bubble flickered dangerously.
“Buckbeak, any damage?!” asked Bugsy.
“No,” replied Buckbeak, scanning the monitor, “but shields are down to 65 percent capacity!”
“All right, Sloth,” Bugsy growled into the communicator, “how about this?!”
She pushed several more buttons and pulled a lever. Once again, their ship’s energy cannons began to charge. In almost no time at all, they were ready. Bugsy pushed another button and two more deadly pink balls flew at Sloth’s shuttle, hitting it right in the same place as before!
“Ha!” laughed ZoshiDevil. “How do you like them app-” But he froze mid-sentence as they saw what looked like a large laser cannon emerge from the top of Sloth’s ship! The whole crew watched in horror as the weapon, even more deadly-looking than their own cannons, began to charge.
“You’re good...” they heard Sloth drawl, “...but I’m better!”
The laser cannon fired. A huge white beam of light shot out of it and hit the shields, setting off an explosion so intense that the whole ship shook left, right, up and down! The bubble shield flickered wildly and disappeared!
“Shields are completely depleted!” yelled Buckbeak.
“Oh great,” Bugsy snapped. The laser cannon was about to fire again. They all could see it recharging through the hatch. From the communicator, they could hear Sloth’s cruel, thunderous laugh. “End of the line, Bugsy,” he sneered, “everybody off my trail! End of the line!”
“The line...” Bugsy murmured, tiredness leaking into her voice. The line... the line! That was it! “Pteri, fire tow rope!” Bugsy yelled.
“But, Captain Bugsy-”
“Just do it!”
Pteri pushed yet another button. There was a BANG and a thin rope attached to a suction holder flew out from the ship. It hit Sloth’s shuttle and took hold instantly, attaching itself to the window. The laser cannon stopped charging. “What...?” they heard Sloth murmur.
“Now!” yelled Bugsy. “Switch to reverse boosters and increase speed to maximum. Let’s really take this thing for a spin!”
Slowly at first, then steadily faster, Ylana’s borrowed spaceship began to spin backwards rapidly in a circle, spinning Sloth’s shuttle around with it like something on a string. The ship spun faster and faster until all of time and space seemed to become a blur before the crew’s eyes!
And then something began to go very wrong. Sloth seemed to regain control of his shuttle. It was now pulling on the rope too, instead of being pulled by Ylana’s ship. Eventually, it became almost impossible to tell just who was spinning who!
“Come on...” Bugsy murmured, trying to ignore the whirling in her stomach, “think! Come on, think!”
Sloth laughed again. “Did you really think you could try and outsmart me?!”
“...Maybe you aren’t so smart after all!” yelled Bugsy. And she slammed her fist down on the big red button right in the centre of the control panel.
All at once, the ship stopped spinning. It froze right there in its position, and half the crew fell to the floor, as a result of the heavy force. At the same time, the tow rope joining Ylana’s ship and Sloth’s shuttle together was released and sprang back to Sloth’s shuttle. It hit both the laser cannon and the shuttle’s engine boosters, wrapping them together so tightly that the shuttle could no longer move or fire back!
But most of all, without another ship to hold it in place as it spun, Sloth’s shuttle was flung far out into space at a terrific speed! On the communicator, the crew could hear Sloth’s yells of rage as the shuttle zoomed tumbling away, out of control.... out of sight.
“....Whoa,” gasped Buckbeak, “how did you know that would work?”
“He’s not the only one who knows a thing or two about science,” replied Bugsy, smiling at him even though she felt absolutely exhausted. She turned to the rest of the crew. “Is everyone all right?”
“...Yep, we’re good,” replied ZoshiDevil shakily, while the other Lieutenants moaned and tried not to fall over.
“...Don’t worry, guys,” said Bugsy comfortingly, as she turned the ship around and they all headed back to the battlefield, “it’s over. Sloth’s gone again. We can all relax now.”
“Huzzah...” cried Nikolikan, weakly.
The communicator buzzed once again. “BP-9,” came Commander Kommet’s voice, “come in, BP-9! Over.”
“This is BP-9 and crew standing by,” replied Bugsy.
“Confirm Dr Frank Sloth’s demise, over.”
“Confirmed!” said Bugsy, as tears came to her eyes in pride. “This battle is finished! The day is ours!”
“The day is ours, ladies and gentlemen,” they heard Commander Kommet repeat to the other fighters, and there came a loud background stream of yells, cheers of triumph and sighs of relief. The crew all smiled at each other inside the cramped spaceship. This was fast becoming even more exciting than after Jhudora’s defeat; the greatest day of all their lives!
Just then, another voice was heard over the communicator. A kind, tender female voice which Bugsy recognised instantly. “Captain Bugsy,” it said, “can you hear me?”
“Loud and clear, your highness!” replied Bugsy, happily.
“Well done,” said Queen Fyora, “well done, all of you. We saw it all on the monitor. Most ingenious! Well done!”
“Oh, nothing to it really,” said Bugsy, smiling. She was just about to add more when Commander Kommet spoke up again.
“Captain, the team are regrouping back at base. If you could be so kind as to report back there immediately, we can proceed to the debriefing.”
“Yes sir!” replied Bugsy happily, saluting. And all the crew began to cheer.
There was an enormous crowd waiting for them as they landed in the Virtupets Hanger. All of the Virtupets troops and Faeries who had survived the battle were there, as well as Commander Kommet and the Battle Faerie. Queen Fyora herself was there too, waiting with more words of praise and a big hug for everyone, not to mention a big cheer as Bugsy and the crew stepped off Ylana’s ship onto the Hanger floor.
Even the Sweet Fyora was there, hovering in a corner after being flown back by Pteri’s gang. To say that it hadn’t a speck of damage would be untrue; but luckily, the wings hadn’t been affected at all. It could soon fly again with ease, once the Virtupets technicians had patched up the holes in its hull.
A medical team from the Sick Bay was dispatched to take care of Ylana; and the day ended on a note of true celebration as the Sweet Fyora, its crew and all the Faeries of Faerieland sailed back home to Neopia.
Then came the news reel. Tyrannia had been successfully liberated from Sloth’s invading forces during the battle, with all residents fully accounted for. Shenkuu, Kiko Lake and Meridell had also successfully defended themselves, thanks to back-up from the Faerieland troops. And best of all, all of the Kreludan Mining Corp slaves that Bugsy and the crew had rescued had been re-coloured and were ready to be sent back to their homes. In Bugsy’s opinion, things could not have turned out better!
Pteri’s gang all became official crewmembers of the Sweet Fyora, while Pteri himself became both a Lieutenant and the Crew Manager, on condition that they be allowed to return to their beloved Krawk Island whenever the ship was not currently on a voyage. Bugsy happily accepted. With all of them living on board all the time, she was sure things would start to get claustrophobic after a while.
Ylana Skyfire was rewarded with a total sum of 2.5 billion Neopoints for her services to Captain Bugsy during the battle, a sum which Queen Fyora was all too happy to provide using funding from the Hidden Tower. It was almost twice the amount Sloth had offered Ylana for Bugsy, bonus included. And so, of course, she accepted.
“There, I think that’s the last of it,” said Bugsy as she placed the last pair of moneybags inside Ylana’s ship. “What are you going to do now?” she asked.
“Same thing I do every time I pull off a big job like this,” said Ylana as she prepared the ship for take-off, “go off holidaying for a week to a little place I know. You should try that one day. Then I guess I’m going to have to find a new client.”
She looked at Bugsy for a moment before handing her a plain white card with an address on it. “Here, wing me a Neomail if you ever need me to... take care of something for you,” she said. “Farewell... my worthy opponent.”
“Uhh... sure,” replied Bugsy as she stepped off the ship and retreated a safe distance. The engines roared and Ylana’s ship shot off into the sky. And that was the last time Bugsy ever saw her.
Of course, Queen Fyora was willing to give Bugsy and her crew a reward too, for all they had done. After a quick team discussion, however, they decided that no reward was necessary. Sloth was gone, the Sweet Fyora had been recovered and all of Neopia was back to normal. That was all they’d hoped to ask for. Fyora smiled at them all and said she fully understood.
Which is why a few days later, Bugsy and the crew were to be found sitting in the VIP section of the Tyrannian Concert Hall, watching Yes Boy Ice Cream perform their latest no.1 single, ‘Sundae Best’.
“Gimme three scoops of chocolate with a cherry on top,” sang Nikolikan as she clapped, waved and swished her tail to the music.
“Dinner and a show on me!” said Bugsy happily as she, Buckbeak and the other two lieutenants sat down to eat the big ice-cream sundaes Bugsy had bought them all at the entrance.
“Yeah,” replied Shadow as he tucked in, “it’s just too bad, though...”
“Though what?” said Bugsy.
“...Aren’t you going to go away again?” asked Shadow, nervously.
“Me? No. Absolutely not!” replied Bugsy. “I missed you guys way too much while I was gone. Besides, why leave now when it feels like I’ve only just got here?!”
“Why indeed?” replied Shadow.
“So what are we going to do now, captain?” asked ZoshiDevil.
“I’ve been thinking about that,” replied Bugsy, “what do you say we all go on vacation? Somewhere we can all go and relax a bit.”
“Yeah, a vacation!” said Buckbeak. “But... where are we going to go back to afterwards? We don’t have a Neohome anymore. Sloth burnt it down, remember?”
“Who says it ever has to end?!” said Bugsy happily. “And remember, we have something even better than a Neohome. With a ship like the Sweet Fyora, who needs Neohomes?!”
“Hooray, a vacation!” cheered ZoshiDevil. “Somewhere warm, somewhere sunny, like Mystery Island or Moltara. Maybe even Altador to see the Cup Final!”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” remarked Bugsy.
“My taste-buds are going on vacation!” sang Nikolikan loudly. The four other crewmembers glanced at her. Then they all looked at each other... and burst out laughing!