Wannabe Pirates: Part Four
After the feast, Jaeger staggered to his room, full of delicious food and thornberry grog. As he opened the door to the crew’s quarters, he examined his room for the first time. The night before, he had been too tired to even notice who was sharing his room. Now, though, he saw that the room was cluttered with items. A punchbag Bob, weapons, and clothes were scattered on the floor and overflowing from the dresser.
These things didn’t belong to him -- the only material goods Jaeger brought along were the clothes on his back -- or, in his case, cut-off shorts and a pirate bandana.
The green Lupe thumbed the sword hanging from his belt idly, and immediately whipped it out on reflex as someone snuck up behind him. Holding it ready, he saw that it was Triton, the fire Eyrie.
“That was a pretty nasty stunt you pulled, squealing on me to give up the Ring of the Lost,” Triton snarled, and then snickered slightly as he saw Jaeger’s sword drawn.
Jaeger stared up at the huge Eyrie fearlessly as Triton loomed over him. Suddenly, Triton attacked. The two tumbled into a violent blur, knocking the cluttered items around in the room and overall making a racket. The Eyrie was amazingly powerful, with great strength, and Jaeger didn’t doubt that he had been highly trained by his human owner. As they fought, Jaeger couldn’t help but wishing his own owner was wealthier and able to train him to such a high degree. His only chance in fighting the massive fire Eyrie was using speed to dodge him and get in a blow where he could.
Captain Fansworth burst through the door, firing a round into the air from a pistol that Jaeger didn’t even know he carried. Bits of wood fell to the floor from the ceiling hole Fansworth made.
“What in the great sea monsters is goin’ on here?” the Kau captain boomed, looking angry as ever. Behind him an audience formed as every crew member came to check out the commotion.
Jaeger and Triton let go of each other, Jaeger squinting out of one badly bruised eye and Triton’s hands trembling from the adrenaline. They were both quiet for a moment, until Jaeger spoke up.
“Cap’n, requesting permission to bunk in a different room.”
“Request denied.” Fansworth glared between Jaeger and Triton for a moment before continuing. “The two of ye are gonna have to learn to get along, one way or the other. I won’t have any more o’ this nonsense on me ship. Now get some rest. Early in the morn I’ll be waking ye to fix up this here hole in the roof.” The yellow Kau then turned to the entire crew. “All of ye best be getting some rest. We’ve made some progress today, but we’ve still a long ways to go if ye want to be pirates.”
The neopets all turned, each going to their assigned bunks. Everybody had to share a room, but Jaeger would have far preferred one of the other crew members as a roommate; just anybody but Triton.
“I guess we’ll be bunkin’ together for the journey, eh then, me bucko?” Triton said the last words sarcastically with a strange grin. He hadn’t been raised around Krawk Island, so he didn’t have the typical accent. Jaeger just viewed him as a spoiled neopet, with all the training and gadgets that he wanted and a hugely inflated ego.
“Just keep to yourself.” Jaeger looked at Triton through squinted, hateful eyes. His head throbbed and his left eye was swollen and purple. He was growing to despise the way the Triton always used smiles and grins as a sign of maniacal aggression.
The two went to bed, Triton on the bottom bunk, Jaeger on the top bunk, and Claude the cloud Cybunny sleeping on the hammock. Despite his anger and frustration towards Triton, Jaeger managed to fall asleep the instant his head hit the pillow.
* * *
Loud cracking noises woke Jaeger from his sleep. He opened his swollen eyes and groggily looked around the room. At first he wondered if Captain Fansworth was employing some method to wake up the crew, but then he noticed there wasn’t a light on anywhere. It was still the dead of night.
Barely even awake, Jaeger dropped his head back on his pillow and ignored the fleeting noise. He started to drift back into sleep...
The ship tossed so violently that Jaeger was thrown from his top bunk and collided with Claude on the hammock. The Cybunny struggled underneath Jaeger, obviously surprised that the Lupe was on top of him. Kar, Jaeger’s Quetzal, dashed into the room and wrapped his big petpet body around Jaeger, only confusing the Cybunny more. A big struggle ensued between the two neopets and petpet, as they were barely able to see in the dark. They all froze, though, when a terrible noise was heard from the water. A distant shriek emanated through the ship’s walls. There was a creature in the water.
“What was that?” Claude whispered. There was fear evident in the stocky Cybunny’s shaking voice.
Kar hissed fiercely, his blue feathers pinned back against his body in a defensive posture. Jaeger patted his Quetzal reassuringly, although Jaeger himself was nervous. He was no longer groggy or tired -- adrenaline was now pumping through his veins, fuelling his entire system.
The entire ship rocked spontaneously, as if something huge just created a wave near it. Kar’s powerful serpentine body contracted around Jaeger’s arm, cutting off its circulation. Wincing, the Lupe gently pried his petpet’s body loose so the blood could once again flow. He then turned to Claude.
“Let’s go take a look,” he whispered.
The Cybunny nodded stiffly, swallowing his fear as he got to his feet and followed Jaeger. The wooden floorboards creaked as the two of them tip-toed down the hall and up the stairs above deck. There was a nice, sweet smell in the ship that Jaeger hadn’t noticed before. The faint odour seemed to be coming right off from the wood. It was surprisingly light and calm out for being midnight. Looking up to the sky, it was easy to tell why. A full moon shone overhead.
Claude’s arm shot out to point at something silently. Jaeger noticed that the cloud neopet’s face was branded with dread. As he looked at the water, he saw why. A huge curved tail disappeared into the water silently, the light of the moon reflecting off its glistening skin.
“Call the captain,” Jaeger uttered, unable to tear his wide eyes away from the ocean. “CALL THE CAPTAIN!”
* * *
“ALL HANDS ON DECK! EMERGENCY SITUATION, GET OFF YER BEHINDS!” Captain Fansworth roared, putting on his coat as he ran down the hallway. Neopets came out from the crew’s quarters all at once, some of them with frightened expressions.
A terrible shriek sounded through the ship, coming from the gigantic sea creature. Jaeger rushed to his duty at one of the starboard cannons, rubbing it with gunpowder and then having Claude help him load it with a cannonball.
The sea creature burst out of the water, coming up to be as high as the tallest mast. Jaeger stared in horror. It was dark jade green in colour, legless, and slimy. He recognized it instantly to be a giant Eelika, easily longer than their ship. The creature came smashing down on the water, nearly knocking the ship over.
“Jaeger!” Captain Fansworth bawled furiously. “What are ye doin’ standing there, ye scurvy dog!? That was our chance to kill the beast!”
Before Jaeger could reply, the creature crashed directly into the starboard side of the ship. Crew members tumbled along the deck from the impact, scared for their lives.
“It’s breached the hull, Cap’n!” First Mate Cal yelled.
“Jaeger, Triton! Get below deck and work on it!”
Jaeger normally hated being paired with Triton, but the urgency was so intense that he didn’t have time to think. The two of them raced down the ramp below deck to find the breach near the kitchen. Water spurted rapidly through small cracks in the wood, pelting persistently against them, and Jaeger and Triton became soaking wet as they tried to hold it back. Jaeger ran and grabbed a piece of plywood from the storage room while Triton attempted to keep back the leakage with the bulk of his own body.
The two of them held up the plywood and began to briskly hammer it in place, tight against the wall to stop the leaking. Their solution seemed to work, since water stopped coming in. Triton and Jaeger stopped and stared at the wall. For the first time since the giant Eelika attacked, there seemed to be a quiet. But it didn’t last.
The monster’s massive head burst through the wall and into the ship, lashing around in what looked like either madness or confusion. Sooner than either of them could react, its gaping jaws wrapped around Triton and yanked him out of the ship into the shadowy water. The Eyrie’s screams grew fainter and fainter as he was carried away, while water began to gush through the ship’s wall from the newly formed rupture. The hole from the Eelika’s head was huge, as big as Jaeger in diameter. Water poured in, and Jaeger knew it was only a matter of time until the ship sank if the leak was allowed to continue.
But Jaeger didn’t think about how quickly the ship would sink. Without hesitating, the Lupe dove through the hole in the wall and into the murky deep, swimming for his life towards the gigantic Eelika. It was dark and his vision was blurred, but the Lupe had a look of determination as he stroked swiftly through the water.
Suddenly, a cannonball shot past him, leaving a trail of bubbles just inches from his leg. Ahead, another cannonball was hurled into the water. This was dangerous. The crew didn’t realize that he was in the water.
The Eelika turned and came towards him, the screaming Triton still held helplessly between the sea monster’s jaws. Jaeger reached for his sword, but it seemed to be stuck in the scabbard. Unable to draw his only weapon, Jaeger snatched a floating potato that must have escaped from the kitchen and threw it as hard as he could into the Eelika’s open mouth.
Strangely, the potato had an effect on the overgrown petpet. Its jaws went slack, and Jaeger managed to pull Triton free, both swimming like mad to safety. The Eelika didn’t pursue them -- it just remained motionless in the water. The potato must have acted like some sort of tranquilizer on the great beast.
Jaeger and Triton finally swam back through the hole in the ship, and were shocked to find that the water level was already up to their knees. The sea monster had been taken care of, but that was the least of their problems. If they couldn’t patch the leak quickly, they would sink to the bottom of the sea.
“Wood! Get more wood!” Triton bawled, pressing his injured body against the wide hole in an attempt to slow down the water intake.
Jaeger sloshed through the knee-deep water and grabbed the biggest piece of plywood he could find from the storage room. He carried it back and tried to press it against the hole, but the water was pouring through with tremendous strength. Triton helped Jaeger try to cover the hole, but it was a gruelling task. Suddenly Claude came running down the stairs, and taken aback by the gaping break in the ship’s wall, rushed in and threw his bulk against the plywood. The water was now waist level, so movement was difficult. But determinedly together, the three of them pressed it back against the wall and blocked up the hole, quickly hammering the wood in place.
Claude ran and got some tar from the storage room, and began smothering the black substance over the edges to stop all seeping through. Jaeger was impressed with the Cybunny. Claude obviously was a regular pampered pet before this experience, but now he had proven his worth in Jaeger’s mind. The cloud neopet was short and somewhat stout, but incredibly stocky. Since he had joined the crew, he no longer wore a shirt and he was developing a bit of a beard.
The three new sailors stood in the waist deep water and stared at the patchwork they had just done. The water intake had ceased -- they had done their job. The three smiled wide grins of relief and satisfaction at each other. Jaeger’s former feelings for his two crewmates had completely reversed. After the dilemma, he felt like he had gained two new friends; and by the expressions on their faces, it seemed they felt the same way.
“Well, let’s head above deck. We’re going to have to get this water out of here somehow,” Claude said finally.
The three moved forward, but Triton stumbled from his injury and splashed into the water. The adrenaline from the excitement had finally worn off, and he was now feeling the brunt of his wound.
“Triton! You’re injured!” Claude exclaimed in surprise, rushing to aid the fire Eyrie. Jaeger waded back to the Eyrie as well, putting himself under one of Triton’s shoulders and assisting him up the stairs to go above deck.
Captain Fansworth came up with an anxious expression, and Jaeger quickly gave him the full report. He told him of how the giant Eelika tore a hole through the ship’s hull and carried Triton off into the water, and then how Jaeger rescued him and how the potato seemed to work as an anaesthetic, and finally how they patched up the immense rupture.
“First Mate Cal,” Fansworth ordered after listening to the report, “see to it that Triton’s wounds are healed.” The Kau stood with his typical brooding expression and hands folded behind his back. “And Jaeger,” he added, “meet me in my cabin.”
After drying off with a towel and waiting around while Triton drank a healing potion to accelerate the process, Jaeger made his way below deck. The crew members were busy bailing out the water, and it was now down to about ankle level due to their fast work. The sky was already lightening with the sunrise, and Jaeger knew that he wouldn’t be allowed any more sleep for this day.
The green Lupe rapped lightly on the door marked “Captain’s Quarters”. He walked in to find Captain Fansworth leaning back in his chair with his hooves up on the table. A closed journal lay on the table labelled “Captain’s Log”. The yellow Kau stared at the table with his usual thoughtful expression before turning his gaze upward to Jaeger.
“That was a good thing ye did tonight, lad. Well done.”
Jaeger appreciated the compliment, but Fansworth had a deeper expression on his face, as if that wasn’t really what was on his mind. Jaeger wanted to know more.
“Thank you, Cap’n.” The Lupe hesitated before saying the next part. “But I have a feeling ye know a little more about this supposed curse than yer letting on.”
“Knowledge? Lad, I have no real knowledge of what this ‘ere dinghy’s been through. Stories is all I’ve heard. I just thought it’d be interesting separating fact from fiction.”
“Well, what have ye separated so far?” At the back of his mind, Jaeger knew he might be asking too many blunt questions for any captain to put up with. But Fansworth seemed to appreciate his openness, or at least tolerate it.
The Kau put his hooves down on the floor. Upon ordering Jaeger to take a seat, Fansworth leaned forward onto the table and his voice became low and gruff, as if he didn’t want everyone to hear.
“Legends tell of a sea monster that targets this very ship. No one knows quite what attracts the beast, but it was first discovered by the unfortunate sailors who first built the ship, supposedly from Mystery Island. Many a seaman went missing or came back injured after bein’ employed on this ‘ere craft. Naturally, rumours grew about a curse. What is a curse, after all, than just a bad reputation?” Fansworth paused, as if to think about his statement, and then continued. “The ship went missing for a long time, actually anchored on some little isle out in the middle of nowhere. Pirates eventually found the isle and took the ship, already dubbed with the name Eelikabyss, and sailed her to Krawk Island. She’s gone from owner to owner, each finding out the hard way why every other cap’n abandoned her. Because of her long absence on the little island, few regular people actually have heard of the curse.”
Fansworth took a flask and swigged from it. Jaeger didn’t like the interruption -- he was desperate to hear more -- but he didn’t want to throw off the Kau’s wavelength. He sat in his seat impatiently clenching his knees until Fansworth continued.
“From all the studying I’ve done on this ship, I’ve come to conclude that the beast comes every full moon. And have you noticed a rather sweet smell on this ship?” The Kau waited for Jaeger to nod, then went on. “The Eelikabyss was made from a very rare wood only found in the jungle around Geraptiku. When in contact with the full moon, it causes it to give off a strange, sweet smell that has been known to attract certain creatures. Long ago, old medicine men in Geraptiku thought that it was magical. I think that special smell is what attracts the giant Eelika to this ship every full moon and drives it mad to do strange things, like head butt into the ship.”
Jaeger sat back in his chair as Fansworth finished. Captain Fansworth had obviously been holding back information this whole time. He seemed to know just about everything there was to know about the vessel. Jaeger felt almost overloaded with information, but it all made sense now. He now understood that the so-called “curse” was no curse at all, but just an attraction that a great sea monster had to the materials the ship was made out of. There was no more mystery.
“And the raw potatoes -- they act as a tranquilizer on this beast. Ye may not have realized it, but ye just solved our entire problem.” The Captain tilted his black leather pirate hat back on his head and gave Jaeger a small smile.
The green Lupe bestowed a wide grin in return. He had wanted adventure, and he had gotten it. And the best part was, their journey wasn’t over yet. Working as a pirating sailor on this ship was fulfilling and exciting. They’d have a lot of hard work to do yet if they wanted to be considered experienced pirates.
“Ye best get out to work, now, me bucko. Don’t expect me compliments to make ye a target o’ favouritism.” Fansworth stood up and Jaeger headed for the door.
Suddenly, the sound of a cannon was heard. But the cannon wasn’t coming from the Eelikabyss. Jaeger burst open the door in alarm. He could hear Jan, the speckled Ruki in the crow’s nest, hollering an alert.
“Ship ho! HOSTILE SHIP APPROACHING!”
To be continued...