Swabby to the Stars
Squeak, squeak. “A few more scrubs and you’ll be able to see your reflection in this deck!”
A tiny voice started to giggle.
The giggle belonged to the young daughter of the pirate ship captain. The squeaks belonged to her best friend and petpet, a Faerie Swabby. Petpets aren’t usually allowed on pirate ships, but considering how much his daughter loved the Swabby, the crusty old Krawk made an exception. Besides, Swabbies are well-known for their cleanliness, and everyone on a pirate ship has to earn their own keep.
The little Swabby wasn’t unhappy on the pirate ship – he loved a good day’s work, and he enjoyed the company of pirates. He especially loved to hear their stories. There were tales of adventure, sword-play, and buried treasure, but most of all, the Swabby loved to hear the bits of wisdom passed on from the old pirate Krawk to his eager young daughter.
On one such occasion, it was a clear, cool night, and the captain was on deck with the little girl. He pointed up at the sky and spoke about the stars.
“A real pirate can navigate anywhere on the high seas by the stars alone, but only old-timers like me know the real secret. There are special stars, called Novas, who are playful beings that like to peek through the clouds and follow the ships on their long voyages. They prefer the comfort of our atmosphere, so they are close at hand in the event of a storm that blocks out our ability to see the stars farther away. If you stay in their favor, Novas will guide you to safety when all other lights go out.”
“Look Daddy!” squealed the captain’s daughter. “There’s a shooting Nova!”
“Close your eyes and make a wish,” the Krawk said with a smile. The girl squeezed her eyes shut, and a wide grin spread across her face.
The little Faerie Swabby looked up in wonder. The Nova was stunning as it streaked through the sky, leaving a trail of glittery dust in its wake. He couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes, but he couldn’t help but make a wish too. He wished for an adventure of his own.
With sudden and unexpected wrath, a dark storm blew in from the east. The pirates sprang into action to secure the ship, and the captain’s daughter with her trusty petpet hunkered down to brace against the gale. The winds blew, the thunder rumbled, and the lightening flashed bright. Then the lights went out.
Before long, the crew began to lose their bearings, and with the blackest clouds they’d ever seen darkening the sky, they could not find the stars. The ship was tossed back and forth on the raging seas, and the hours crawled by. The old Pirate Krawk looked to the sky, looked for even one Nova to lead their way to safety, but even the Novas couldn’t shine through this gloom. Their cause seemed hopeless, but the crew clung to their duties. Disoriented and disheartened, they kept their eyes down and their legs steady.
Confident that the captain’s daughter was as safe as she could be down below, the Faerie Swabby went up on deck to see how he could help. Tiring quickly from trying to mop the torrential downpour back into the ocean, the brave little petpet tipped himself against the side of the ship to catch his breath. He let his eyes lift up to the sky, and they got lost in the darkness on the horizon. Where were the Novas? Could it be that they were out there somewhere? Were they just not bright enough?
The Swabby was struck with sudden inspiration. He remembered the long trail of dust that followed the Nova he had wished on, and he knew what he had to do. The Novas were covered in so much dust that their shine couldn’t break through the storm. What they needed was a good, thorough cleaning.
As if an arrow shot from a giant bow, the Faerie Swabby took off into the night. He pierced the clouds with his sturdy body, and he twirled and swirled to absorb as much of the rainwater as he could in his mop. At first he saw nothing, but before long, he caught the faintest glimmer of yellow amidst the darkness. Making for the light with all the speed he could muster, the Swabby felt a rush of excitement. He reached his target and proceeded to do what he did best – he scrubbed, polished, and shined until he could see his reflection on the surface of the plucky little Nova.
“My ship needs help! My crew is disoriented and lost. They need guidance,” the Swabby shouted as he indicated their direction. The Nova winked and shot off towards the ship, leaving the Swabby to continue with his own search. He found one after another Nova, and he worked tirelessly to shine the dust off of them so they could be seen by the ship. After he had sent about 2 dozen Novas to the captain’s aid, the Swabby was spent, and his wings were unable to fight against the strong winds any longer. He closed his eyes, slumped against a cloud, and let himself be blown wherever the wind wished.
“Starduster. Wake up little Starduster.” The voice that wafted into his thoughts was unfamiliar, but not unkind. The Faerie Swabby let his eyes flutter open, and before him, he saw a friendly, clean cut Eventide Grundo peering cheerily down at him.
“Welcome back,” the Grundo quipped. “You’ve had quite the adventure, haven’t you? My name is Stardate, and I am friend to the Novas. You did a mighty service to your crew last night during that storm, and your quick thinking earned you the respect of the stars. How do you feel?” A flicker of concern crept into the eyes of the Grundo when the Swabby didn’t respond.
“Where am I?” the Swabby asked wearily.
“You are aboard a space station. My space station,” Stardate said proudly. “The Novas brought you here after they rescued your pirate ship. As I said, you earned their respect. They are the ones who gave you the name Starduster. Fitting, wouldn’t you say?” The Grundo chuckled.
“Starduster…” the Faerie Swabby tried out his new name. He liked the sound of that. “What happens now? Can you bring me back to my ship? To my friends?”
“I can, if you wish it,” Stardate replied, “but I have another offer for you to consider as well. The Novas and I would like to give you a place here in the stars – a permanent place helping the Novas shine as bright as they can and continue to guide wayward ships on a safe path. You can even have your quarters right here on my station, and you can travel with me on my ship.” The Grundo’s eyes sparkled, “So what do you say…Starduster?”
The Swabby hesitated. “I would like to speak with someone first. I have a friend – a little girl – who loves me very much, and I her. I want to know that she’ll be ok.”
Stardate took Swabby on his ship and returned him to the pirate crew. They received him with cheers and a hero’s welcome. The captain’s daughter was especially proud, and she beamed when she heard the Grundo refer to Starduster by his new name.
When the time came and Starduster asked the little girl how she would feel about him taking a permanent place with the Novas, she didn’t hesitate. “Nothing would make me feel safer or more proud than knowing that you were up there looking down on us all.”
Wringing tears of happiness from his eyes, Starduster waved his goodbyes to his friends and embarked on his greatest adventure yet.