Flying High: Part Two
Now that Bugsypal9 and her pets were going on a voyage, there was ever so much to do to get ready. Bugsy had to work five times as hard at the Games Room so that they could afford everything they needed (and all the things they needed to get in order to get what they needed). Food and water supplies, plus equipment, weapons and ammunition. All the pets could do was search around extra-vigilantly for items Bugsy could sell in her shop.
Then it was everybody down to Cap’n Threelegs Swashbucklin’ Academy for ship training. Bugsy had been firm.
“All your fighting skills have to be 100% tip-top if we’re going to be facing the unknown out there! Besides, you’ll be learning from the best professional in Neopia.” she’d said. Even Bugsy herself took a course or two; in sword-fighting, navigation, ship maintenance and sailor jargon.
The whole training period was very long and hard and took weeks and weeks to complete until finally, they were all fully trained and ready to fight.
“Thank you so much for your help,” said Bugsy, as they left through the academy doors.
“Yarr,” replied the old captain, “me pleasure. Anythin’ ta help out a soon-ta-be fellow sea-rover.”
It was actually ‘sky-rover’, but Bugsy couldn’t quite bring herself to correct him.
At last, after months of training and gathering supplies, everything was finally ready. All they needed to do now was load all the stuff they’d collected onto the ship. Bugsy groaned as she tried to push a wooden barrel full of apples up the gangplank. Try as she might, she couldn’t seem to get it anywhere; and twice, it slid out of her grip and rolled all the way back down to the bottom, running painfully over her foot.
Suddenly, the weight lessened. Bugsy looked to her right and saw Shadow standing there, his paw supporting the barrel too. “Need a hand?” he asked, smiling. Bugsy smiled back. Together, they managed to heave the apple barrel up onto the main deck and down to the galley. In almost no time at all, everything had been successfully loaded. Unfortunately, the sun was setting and it was growing dark.
Bugsy gathered everyone round on the ground.
“Everyone,” she said loudly, “I’m proud to announce that, although they took very long and were quite hard, all our preparations have paid off and we’re finally ready. Tomorrow, we set sail!” The pets immediately started whooping and cheering and clapping.
“But first, we all need a good night sleep. Goodnight, everyone, I’ll see you all at dawn tomorrow!” she added. They all started to walk down the path, back to the house.
That night, while everyone else was asleep, Nikolikan was still laying awake. She just couldn’t sleep; there were less than 24 hours to go before her dream came true. Maybe that’s why she kept staring out of the window, at the exact same star she’d wished on not so long ago.
Suddenly, a weird feeling hit her. A feeling that there was something she and the other pets had forgotten to do, something important. And then... it hit her! She threw her quilt off herself, crawled over to ZoshiDevil and started shaking him vigorously. There wasn’t much time!
The morning sun shone over Neopia Central. Bugsy walked down the stone path to the front door, opened it and went inside. None of the pets were there!
“Calm down, calm down,” she muttered to herself. “They’ve probably already gone down to the ship and are waiting for me.” Suddenly, she froze. Had someone just called her name? It had barely been more than a whisper, but still she’d heard it. Or had she just imagined it... There it was again! Bugsy whirled around to face the direction the sound had come from and saw a tiny light faerie in the window, beckoning her to come outside.
Bugsy ran outside and over to the faerie.
“Are you Bugsypal9?” it whispered, in a tinkly sort of voice.
“Yes?” replied Bugsy, suspicious.
“Come with me,” said the faerie. Before Bugsy had time to think, it flew off into the forest. Bugsy wasn’t entirely sure what made her do it, but she suddenly found herself following the faerie’s every move.
It led her left, right, right again, middle fork, left, right, in between two trees very close together, left again. She tried to keep track but soon gave up as the faerie led her deeper and deeper into the forest. Soon they came to a clearing, the exact same one that the ship had been kept in. Only here, they were on top of a hill at the edge, not at ground level so Bugsy could see everything... and she couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
A huge crowd of Neopets and Faeries alike were gathered around the ship. Her own pets, she could see, were onboard; doing what looked like pre-flight checks. And who was that standing on a platform next to the gangplank?! It looked like... No, it couldn’t be! Not... Fyora the Faerie Queen! Part of Bugsy wanted to run. In fact, all of her did! So she took a step back.
Suddenly Fyora looked up and saw her. “Why, if it isn’t Bugsypal9!” she said, in a loud voice. The whole crowd turned, saw Bugsy and started cheering.
“How about coming down here and starting the take-off ceremony?” asked Fyora, happily. But Bugsy didn’t move. She just shook her head and took another step back.
Seeing the expression on Bugsy’s face, Nikolikan frowned and turned to the other pets. They all nodded, took off and flew towards Bugsy (ZoshiDevil riding on Buckbeak’s back) with Nikolikan in front. They landed and Nikolikan went up to Bugsy.
“You see, Bugsy,” she said “after you left last night, we all had a little talk and... well... we’ve elected YOU captain!”
“C... c... captain?!” stammered Bugsy. “I’m... really not worthy of this honour,” she said.
“Of course you are!” said Shadow. “You organised us while we were doing all the preparations.”
“You helped us do all the work needed to make this happen,” said ZoshiDevil.
“And don’t forget, it was because of you that we were given this magnificent ship,” reminded Buckbeak.
“So you see,” said Nikolikan, finally, “we’d really like you to be our captain.”
“Well, if you put it like that...” said Bugsy, shyly. She turned to the crowd. “I’ll do it!” she said, so that everyone could hear. The crowd roared with whoops and cheers and whistles and claps.
Fyora smiled. “Perfect,” she said, “now how about you come down here and let’s get this thing off the ground.”
“Yes, your majesty!” called Bugsy.
Bugsy walked slowly down the hill and up to the platform, a new spring in her step and her crew following behind her. The crowd parted to let them through. They all walked up the steps, onto the platform. The pets stood at the end, near the end of the gangplank and Bugsy stood next to Fyora, the crowd whooping and cheering. Fyora and Bugsy turned to face each other, Bugsy kneeling down. Fyora raised her staff and the whole crowd fell silent. Fyora rested the top of her staff on Bugsy’s shoulder.
“By the power vested in me by the Neopian Land of the Faeries,” Fyora said loudly, “I appoint you Captain Bugsypal9.” She took her staff off Bugsy’s shoulder and the crowd started cheering again. “You may stand,” she added and Bugsy did.
Fyora turned to a water faerie that was standing beside her, holding a small box. Fyora took the box, removed the lid and brought out a navy blue captain’s hat with golden lining. She turned to Bugsy. “Here, captain,” she said, holding it out to her, “a badge of your title and respectability. Wear it, and it will come to your aid whenever you need it.”
Bugsy took the hat and placed it on her head. Immediately, the hat began to glow brightly. There was a flash of bright light and a long, slightly curved sword was suddenly hanging from Bugsy’s belt in a scabbard. Bugsy was amazed. Surprisingly, it was as light as a feather. She slid the sword out of its scabbard and held it high in the air by the handle, silencing the crowd.
“And by the power vested in me by Fyora, Queen of the Faeries,” she cried out, “I now christen this ship ‘The Sweet Fyora’ after her majesty the Queen herself!” All of the pets burst into roars of cheers, including Nikolikan and the crew. A few pink and purple sparks shot out of the tip of Captain Bugsy’s sword and the instant they did, the great wings either side of the ship magically unfolded and spread out, ready for flight.
Captain Bugsy lowered her sword, but she didn’t put it away just yet. “All aboard!” she called, and the crew started to walk up the gangplank, signing their names in a red, leather-bound book another faerie was holding before heading up. Captain Bugsy put her sword away and started up the gangplank herself. “Your ship’s log book,” said the faerie, handing it to Bugsy. She took it, closed it with a snap and thanked the faerie with a nod before continuing.
“Welcome aboard, Captain Bugsy!” said Nikolikan cheerily, as Bugsypal hopped off the gangplank and stepped onto the main deck.
“The same to you,” replied Bugsy. She wet her finger and raised it in the air. A strong gust was blowing. “Ahhh, the wind is with us,” she remarked. “Crew, this voyage has begun!” All the Neopets on the ground below started cheering again.
“Raise the gangplank!” Bugsy called. Some faeries on the ground helped Buckbeak to hoist the gangplank up onto the ship. “Release mooring lines!” Bugsy ordered. More faeries on the ground untied the ropes pinning the ship to the ground and threw them up to Nikolikan who caught them and tied them to the main mast.
“ZoshiDevil, system report!” Bugsy called to ZoshiDevil who’d just come up from below deck.
“All systems are go down here, captain!” he called back.
“Excellent,” said Bugsy. “Prepare for take off!”
The whole crew, including Captain Bugsy, hurriedly tied themselves to the deck using the ropes on the mast. Down on the ground, Fyora and the crowd hastily backed away from the ship. “Crew, final report!” ordered Bugsy.
“All mooring lines released!” shouted Buckbeak.
“All supplies ready!” called Shadow.
“All systems are good to go!” replied ZoshiDevil
“Surrounding area cleared!” called Nikolikan.
“All pre-flight objectives cleared,” said Captain Bugsy. “Let’s ride! SET THE SAILS!”
At Captain Bugsy’s words, two magnificent sails unrolled themselves from the top half of the rigging on the main mast and attached themselves to the bottom half. In seconds, they’d caught the wind at maximum effectiveness. The great wings spread out on either side of the ship started to flap, slowly at first then faster and faster until The Sweet Fyora steadily began to rise high into the air and start flying through the clouds, to the cheers of the crowd.
Captain Bugsy went to the side of the ship and leaned over.
“So long, everyone!” she called out to the crowd, waving, “We’re off on a trip around Neopia and we’ll be back in the wink of an eye. So goodbye, everyone! Farewell, your highness!” She kept her eyes on Fyora until the very last second, when the countryside of Neopia Central was spread out beneath them like a blanket and their forest was just another patch of dark green-ness.
The ship rose higher and higher into the sky. Captain Bugsy turned to look at her crew, who were scurrying all over the deck, making themselves busy. Suddenly, her chest heaved and began to feel painful. She bent over and began to cough and splutter and choke, her body not used to the high altitude and the low oxygen levels that came with it. Not to mention the pressure, or rather, lack of it.
All of a sudden, Bugsy’s hat started glowing again and she found herself able to breathe and support herself normally again.
“Phew!” She sighed. “That was a close call. This thing really does work.” She casually flicked the tip of her hat because it seemed a cool thing to do.
“Ok, everyone, roll call!” Bugsy shouted. Instantly, all the pets stopped what they were doing and started to line up alphabetically in front of her. “ZoshiDevil,” she called, “put us into Still Mode!”
“Aye, captain!” replied ZoshiDevil.
Bugsypal and her pets had made a few modifications to the ship’s controls. Now there was a small crank on the main mast that the helmsman could use to roll up the sails so that they couldn’t catch the wind. This meant that the ship just hovered up and down in the air without actually going anywhere. Bugsypal had nicknamed this ship status: Still Mode.
Bugsy opened the log book and took a pen from out of her pocket, ticking off the names as she called them out and the pets responded. “Alright, everyone,” she said as she finished, “while we’re assembled here, I’d just like to say a few things.
“Now then,” said Captain Bugsy, pacing left and right as she looked at them all, “as captain, I feel it is my duty to lay down a few... regulations around here, right at the start. First one’s pretty obvious. As you all know, I am your captain, and therefore, when I give any of you an order, I expect it to be carried out on the double! Is that clear?!”
“Aye, captain,” the pets all said, saluting.
“Next,” continued Bugsy, “and this is something I’d really like you all to get into your heads and keep it there. We... are... NOT... pirates.” She said the words slowly and deliberately to emphasize their importance, especially the word ‘not’.
“We do not pillage, we do not plunder, and if we encounter another ship while we’re over the open ocean, we do not fire on them unless they attack us first,” said Bugsy. “Let me remind you, we started this voyage to seek out adventure and excitement, discovering new worlds and fighting any evil that comes our way, writing our own legacy. Not to wander about the open skies for no reason, attacking and robbing any fine vessel that crosses our path! Got it?!”
“Aye... captain,” the pets all said again, slightly slower.
“And finally, I ask you to remember,” Bugsy continued, “we are adventurers, we are explorers, we are discoverers, but most of all, we are a team. Therefore, we all have to pull our fair share of weight in order to keep this thing running, which is why I’m now going to assign you all a specific duty to perform at all appropriate times during our voyage. Buckbeak!”
“Oh, yes, captain!” said Buckbeak, saluting with his tail.
Bugsy studied him for a while before responding. “Hmm... I think I’ll make you responsible for keeping the ship clean and tidy at all times. This ship’s going to be our home for the next few weeks, or months, and so I won’t have my crew sailing the skies in a flying Snorkle-pen. Understand?”
“Yes, m’am,” said Buckbeak.
“Nikolikan,” said Bugsy, and Nikolikan snapped to attention. “You can be lookout. It’ll be your job to fly around the ship, scanning the skies around us and below us. If you see any thing important, say... a Neopian World we’re sailing to or a potential danger etc, alert me immediately!”
“Aye, aye, captain,” said Nikolikan, saluting.
“Shadow,” Bugsy continued, “you’ll be the ship’s cook. It’ll be your duty to prepare all the hot food at meal times. When you’re not doing that, you can help Buckbeak with the cleaning.”
“Uh, yes, captain,” said Shadow, uncertainly, “but... why do I have to be the chef?”
“With your powerful flame-breath, we won’t need a stove.”
“And ZoshiDevil...” Bugsy said, pausing for a moment. ZoshiDevil stared up at her with his big, yellow eyes and wished she wouldn’t give him anything too unpleasant or low in importance. There was a role he had always wanted to be, but why should Captain Bugsy give it to him? He wasn’t anything special. She’d most likely take it for herself.
“I’d like you to be our helmsman! You shall steer us from place to place, directed of course by me,” said Bugsy.
“YES!!!” yelled ZoshiDevil, leaping about a metre into the air. He ran up to Bugsy and started licking her hand. “Oh thank you, thank you!” he cried in between licks. Then he stopped as though he’d suddenly realised what he was doing. “Uh... I mean... yes, yes, my captain,” he stammered, saluting as he slowly moved back to his place in the line.
Bugsy gave a slight chuckle. “Great,” she said with a smile. “I think that’s everything. Meeting adjourned. Everyone to their posts! ZoshiDevil, I’ll come and point you in the right direction in a minute.”
Everyone rushed off to do their jobs. Nikolikan flew high up into The Crow’s Nest, taking a spyglass from her pocket as she went. Buckbeak and Shadow disappeared below deck. ZoshiDevil put the ship back into Normal Mode and took up his position at the helm, as they started moving again.
“So, what direction are we going in, captain?” he said, as Bugsy joined him. Bugsy took a compass from the pocket of her coat and held it up. “Due east,” she replied, “exactly where we want to be heading.”
“Really?” asked ZoshiDevil.
“Why, yes,” replied Bugsy. “We’re going to Faerieland so we can say hi to all the faeries and humans there. First we head east, exactly as we’re doing now, until we hit Meridell. Then we go south until we come to Faerieland.”
“Aye-aye,” said ZoshiDevil, snapping a salute to her.
“Hey! Nikolikan!” shouted Bugsy, calling up to The Crow’s Nest.
“Yes, captain?!” replied Nikolikan.
“We’re heading for Meridell! As soon as we’re there, tell ZoshiDevil and then come and find me! That is all!”
Bugsy turned back to ZoshiDevil. “If you need me, I’ll be in my cabin,” she said, and walked down the steps.
Meanwhile, as The Sweet Fyora sailed through the open sky, a shadowy figure watched it from a nearby cloud. It wasn’t an ordinary cloud, all white and fluffy. It was an evil shade of dark purple with streaks of green, and was quite smoky. A pirate Pteri was standing next to the figure.
“This could be a problem,” said the figure, with an evil, witchy cackle. It turned to the Pteri.
“Do gather your forces throughout Neopia and take care of it for me, won’t you?”
“A... at once, your l... l... ladyship.”
To be continued...