A Hero's Journey:Part Four
The pirates had reached Rupert's tiny transport boat. There were about twenty other passengers on board, now all crammed and huddled together underneath the deck in a small chamber. The pirates had just announced their arrival via megaphone and the entire group of travelers were terrified speechless. Things were looking bleak, they were sure to be seized. It seemed as though the best they could hope for at this point was a merciful capture and being held hostage until the rescue ship arrived.
The Ixi, the one holding the magical gem that the pirates were after, seemed more scared than the rest. If she were to turn over this gem, it could cause such chaos on Mystery Island. This gem was meant for the volcano that is in the middle of the island, and without it the volcano may act out of anger and cause an eruption large enough to cover the small, peaceful island in hot lava. Homes would be destroyed at best, and at worst the whole island would be destroyed forever, buried under molten lava hotter than Moltara.
"Surrender your treasure." The voice over the megaphone rang through louder this time, they were clearly getting closer.
Rupert scrambled to look through a crack in the wall between planks of wood, he could see out across the ocean and saw just how close the pirates have gotten. They were very clearly close enough to fire and sink their ship just like they did to the police ship.
Rupert was shocked. Everyone on the boat was shocked. Nate was shocked.
"I will go out and talk to them."
The voice that had shocked everyone, even the person speaking, was Rupert's. It was like something switched inside his head, he had suddenly mustered up some sort of courage and knew that something had to be done. The Draik who had never left Neopia Central, had never left the safety of his library, had now announced that he would be going to face the pirates head on.
"No, Rupert, you don't have to. It's too dangerous out there. I'll go, I have some experience with boats...though none with facing pirates," Nate spoke assuredly, confident.
"We can go together." Rupert remained firm in his stance. He had amassed a bit of knowledge about pirates through all his reading and he was sure that he could maybe somehow convince them not to attack. If anything, maybe they'd pity him for even trying and laugh until help arrived.
Nate nodded to Rupert and the both of them got up from their positions and maneuvered across the room towards the door that leads to the deck. What am I doing, Rupert thought to himself, trying to comprehend what he had just volunteered himself to do. I could get hurt. I could get killed. Realization started setting in for the Draik adventurer. But the heroes I admire so much...they put everything on the line to help. And this is bigger than me, this is bigger than this ship, all of Mystery Island is on the line here. Thousands of citizens, and their friends and family who care about them. This is big, I need to stop these pirates. But how?
As Rupert and Nate started up the staircase towards the deck, Rupert's mind began racing through all the knowledge he had gained of pirates. He remembered the many books he read about their strengths and weaknesses, about the battles they have fought before and which ones they've won and which they have lost. And then one book stuck out in his mind...Pirates vs. Ninjas: The Novel.
He also remembered that years prior, during the Games Master Challenger, there was a split where people were choosing sides between Pirates and Ninjas. Foes since the beginning of time, pirates and ninjas have battled furiously against each other to prove who is the top dog. Ninjas, typically a more heroic stance, use stealth and precision to create effective sneak attacks. They tend to be more logical and methodical than their enemy, the pirates. Pirates use brute force, intimidation, and aggression to steal and plunder from those with wealth, they are villainous and without morals. Rupert had always favored ninjas...
"Nate, what do you know about Ninjas," Rupert asked as they were nearing the top of the steps. Nate stopped and turned around.
"What?" The Kougra was confused.
"Well, pirates have historically struggled against ninjas. Pirates have a lot of strength and can cause fear in their opponents, but ninjas are great at outwitting them," Rupert began to explain what he was thinking. "If we use ninja tactics against the pirates to stop them, maybe we'll be able to get the upper hand."
"Are you CRAZY? They have CANNONS. They can blow us to smithereens in the blink of an eye."
"Yes, I know, but then they'd be blowing up the gem too. I think they are trying to threaten us with an attack like that, but they wouldn't want to lose the treasure they are seeking. They are too greedy to do that." Rupert was working hard to convince his new friend to try out this plan.
"Okay, what are you thinking?" Nate was still skeptical of all this, but knew the Draik was well read and had a good grasp on the history of these types of altercations. He was willing to hear Rupert out.
"Alright, here is the plan," Rupert pulled Nate into a small huddle, whispering his plan. As Rupert explained all the details, you could see the worried Kougra sighing, then nodding, then sighing again. Clearly, he wasn't convinced but he also knew they didn't have many options. They may as well make an attempt to rescue everyone, as any outcome seemed equally as bad.
"If you really think we can pull this off, your plan sounds as good as any other," Nate said after Rupert finished his detailed explanation. "Shall we do this thing?"
"Yes," Rupert said.
Rupert, at this point, has been overcome with an extremely bizarre feeling. He hasn't felt like this very often in his life, he felt prepared and confident. He was feeling fairly sure of himself, and that even if it didn't quite succeed, it would still open options to him when it came to negotiating with the pirates. I'm tired of being scared, his exasperated thoughts worked their way across his brain. I'm tired of not standing up and taking a chance, and now is the time. The people on this boat are terrified, no one else is stepping up to help them and I have to. I have to do this and I know I can. Rupert took a deep breath as Nate pushed opened the door, sunlight flooding in, and Nate took the first step out onto the deck.
But Rupert stayed behind. The door shut behind Nate and left Rupert in the darkness. It was part of the plan though, Rupert had work to do behind the scenes.
Nate walked carefully across the deck, and into the sights of the pirate ship. They were close now, almost close enough to get on board if they wanted.
"Please, listen," Nate shouted across to the pirates standing across the gap between the ships. "We are just traveling from Kiko Lake to Mystery Island, we are just travelers and tourists trying to make our commute. We have three families on board, and a few other passengers, but nothing of value to you."
"Lies," said a voice from the opposing ship. An intimidating presence emerged from the pirate crew, a female Bruce sporting an eye patch and a cap with the jolly roger emblem on it. "We know what you have on your boat, and we want it. We came for the Alien Aisha's gem, it's worth hundreds of millions and will fund my crew for the rest of our lives. Hand it over peacefully, or we will take it by any means necessary."
As the pirate captain spoke, her crew of five all broke off into various positions. Some wielding swords, ready for battle, while a Peophin moved over to the sole cannon on the ship, pointing it straight at Nate.
"Let's not get hasty!! I'm sure we can talk this out," Nate was terrified. He was all alone here, Rupert was nowhere to be found and he was scared that their plans were falling through and that the Draik had abandoned him and was swimming away in the ocean somewhere. The Faerie Kougra was facing off solo against this pirate ship, nearly twice the size of the boat he was on, and scared that he was now all alone in the fight.
"No, we can't talk this out," said the Bruce, her voice showing frustration. "You either hand over the gem, or I blow you and your dinky ship to pieces. You have til the count of 10."
"Hey, hey," Nate started to panic, backing away.
"Look, I'll do what I can to find it...I don't know where it is."
The pirate captain's expression didn't change. She was not phased, keeping the same demanding look on her face.
Nate turned to run towards the door, to try to get the gem from the Ixi.
Just before Nate could reach the door or scream for the Ixi to bring the gem, he heard an explosion...he felt his ship shake violently and he his whole body hit the deck...
To be continued…