Come dance with the Wanderers... Circulation: 181,925,343 Issue: 317 | 9th day of Storing, Y9
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Wannabe Pirates: Part One

by steelseatimber


I would like to thank several members of my guild who inspired this story.

A tall young green Lupe peered eagerly out from the ship, the White Weewoo, his hands on the rail and his muscular upper body leaning over the edge. He stood on two legs most of the time and wore simple, ragged shorts with an old rope for a belt. The only thing he wore on his upper half was a lucky bone necklace, which he wore at all times. The Lupe’s chest heaved as he breathed in the salty ocean air, closing his intense yellow eyes to better appreciate the feeling. He listened to the sea water splash rhythmically against the ship’s massive wooden body, felt the warm breeze that brought to him a cool mist.

     “So, Jaeger, you ready to go off on your own?”

     The sudden voice snapped the Lupe, Jaeger, back to his senses. The inquiry came from his human owner, Steel. Jaeger smiled at the human briefly.

     “Yeah, of course I’m ready,” Jaeger replied.

     “And you’re sure you don’t want me with you?” Steel tested, hoping to worm his way into his neopet’s adventures.

     “Please, Steel,” Jaeger griped, “you don’t have to follow me everywhere. Especially on Krawk Island -- you should know that pirates and sailors treat neopets differently when they have their humans tagging behind them and constantly telling them what to do.”

     “Yeah, yeah, I get it.” Steel let out a sigh. It wasn’t that he wanted to baby the Lupe, it was just that he enjoyed Jaeger’s company.

     As if to break the silence, a Quetzal slithered up to his Lupe owner, wearing a little smile in greeting. The petpet was large and snake-like, and very exotic in appearance. Its face and underbelly were yellow, while its back was deep orange with blood red saddles all the way down the back. To top it off, sprouting from the creature’s head were several large brilliant blue feathers. The Quetzal had grown a lot since Jaeger had first acquired him -- the petpet was now several feet long and very thick and muscular in appearance.

     “Kar, how you doin’, little mate?” Jaeger said to his petpet happily. The title “little mate” was no longer very appropriate to the big serpent, but Jaeger had been calling the Quetzal “little” ever since he got him. The actual size of the petpet had nothing to do with it.

     Kar took Jaeger’s words as an invitation to climb up the Lupe’s body. The Quetzal settled himself on Jaeger’s shoulders, his long body wrapped around one arm of Jaeger’s and partly the neck. Kar flicked his forked tongue, looking out from his higher vantage point with an inquisitive expression on his face. Being comprised of mostly muscle, Kar was very heavy -- but Jaeger was long used to carrying around the extra weight.

     “Look, Krawk Island! We’re almost there!” Jaeger said enthusiastically. While a lot of the time the young green Lupe acted cool and confident, occasionally a sort of young eagerness would shine through.

     “Land ho!” the slim Usul in the crows nest bellowed in a surprisingly deep voice.

     Jaeger and Steel both stifled a laugh as he heard the pretty boy Usul give the announcement. They waited the rest of the trip in silence.

     Finally, the White Weewoo hove into the Krawk Island harbour. Steel stood on the deck of the ship, watching forlornly as his Lupe walked down the plank with his Quetzal.

     “Bye, Jaeger! Are you sure you don’t want me to come?” Steel yelled over the edge of the ship.

     “Yeah, Steel, I’ll be fine,” Jaeger yelled back.

     “And why are you going here again?” Steel shouted.

     “To have an adventure!”

     * * *

     It had been a month. Jaeger sat slumped over on a bar stool in a small tavern near the harbour, his big green paw wrapped around a pint of sardplant grog. The green Lupe was looking much like a typical citizen of the island, although substantially cleaner. He even sounded like a pirate, since he picked up accents very quickly. One who met him would seriously question the fact that he had only been residing there a month.

     It was early morning, but Jaeger had picked up the habit of drinking grog at any time of the day. He never really had fulfilled his goal of having an adventure -- rather, he’d been doing odd jobs for various ship captains as they lay anchor in the harbour for repairs and supplies. Jaeger longed to actually get out on the ocean, to sail the vast glassy expanse. But he knew that patience would be needed.

     The young Lupe took a swig from his grog, and looked out the window casually. An interesting sight caught his eye. A two-masted ship in decent condition was tied to the docks, and in front of it there seemed to be some sort of commotion going on. Several neopets stood talking to each other, and it was hard to tell whether it was friendly chat or bickering. Then he sighted the source of the commotion. A female rainbow Kougra stood next to a large, messily painted sign that read: “CREW WANTED, NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY”.

     Jaeger grunted a surprised laugh. A painted Kougra looking for a crew with no experience? The very fact that she was painted showed that she was evidently not a Krawk Island native. As Jaeger looked at the other pets in the crowd, it came to his attention that most of them were painted, also. A speckled Ruki, a fire Eyrie, a cloud Cybunny, and a starry Gnorbu all were gathered around. The only pet that wasn’t painted was a yellow Kau in a pirate-style trench coat and black leather pirate hat. The Kau had a stern, dark look on his face, with hooves buried in his pockets. Out of all of them, he looked like the only one with a trace of sailing experience.

     The green Lupe turned back to his grog, trying to abandon the idea of joining them. ‘It’s absurd,’ Jaeger thought to himself. ‘Just to think, a crew with little, if any, experience going out on the waters of Krawk Island? It’s dangerous, foolish, and it could be... an adventure.’

     Jaeger slapped himself in the face for thinking that last word. But despite the pain he had just caused himself, his eyes wandered back to the docked ship with neopets around. He had come to Krawk Island for an adventure, and this could be his chance. It was almost like it was staring him in the face and daring him to come aboard.

     He had had enough. Jaeger swigged down the last of his sardplant grog and slammed the mug on the counter. He got up from his stool and walked out the door of the little café. The young green Lupe strode confidently towards the crowd, and shoved his way past a large fire Eyrie with true Krawk Island manners.

     “Excuse me, mate,” Jaeger said politely to the rainbow Kougra with the sign, quite unlike the shoving behaviour he had just showed, “name’s Jaeger. I’m willing to join yer crew if you’re looking for any extra help.”

     “Sure, if you’re willing to sail on an apparently cursed ship. I‘m Cal,” the rainbow Kougra responded without much concern. She wore a black bandana over her head like a pirate might, and a fake gold earring glinted in the sun from one of her big round ears.

     Cursed ship? Before Jaeger could respond, he received a terrible shove from behind, knocking him forward into full barrel of tar. His arms, face, and chest were covered in the black, sticky substance. The Lupe turned slowly, filled with shocked rage, to look at his attacker.

     A very large fire Eyrie stood before him, wearing a demented smile, with his big fists clenched and his massive chest heaving with every breath. It was then that Jaeger remembered he had shoved his way past this neopet when coming to see Cal. Perhaps he didn’t really know how to pick his fights.

     Undaunted, Jaeger’s chest jutted forward as he looked up and stared skyward at the Eyrie.

     “Dude, ye covered me with tar!” Jaeger yelled, mixing up his modern way of speech with his newly acquired pirate accent.

     “Triton, Jaeger, break it up!” Cal shouted at Jaeger and the fire Eyrie. The rainbow Kougra reached up and grabbed the Lupe and Eyrie’s shoulders.

     “Now, we have a lot of work to do before we can set sail, and I’m hoping to get everything done today. So you two better learn to get along,” Cal said sternly. It was obvious she lacked experience, but Jaeger was impressed at her determination and method of handling matters. The Kougra suddenly pulled her paw off of Jaeger’s shoulder, realizing that it was now covered in tar.

     “And you might want to wash up, Jaeger,” Cal said, looking at her sticky paw in disgust.

     Jaeger only glared at Triton, the fire Eyrie, as Cal walked up the plank of the ship and stood on deck to address her new crew. Triton smirked at Jaeger, which made Jaeger more angry.

     “Alright, crew,” Cal called out from the deck of the ship, “the work starts now. I am the owner, and until further notice, the captain of this ship, so you will report to me. There is lots to be done before we can set sail, which I’m hoping to do tomorrow. You’ll find repair work that needs done, sorting of items, as well as purchasing needed goods and selling unwanted items. So come aboard, and we’ll assign jobs.”

     Jaeger walked up the plank along with the cloud Cybunny, speckled Ruki, yellow Kau, starry Gnorbu, and Triton. He couldn’t help but admire the ship -- the first ship that he would be a crew member on. It had two full masts with the square sails rolled up, and jutting forward from its prow was a handsome bowsprit. Its exterior colour was a faded maroon, and though he looked, Jaeger couldn’t find a name on it.

     As he came aboard, Cal stopped him immediately.

     “Jaeger, first job: go get cleaned up,” the rainbow Kougra ordered, pointing to a staircase that led below deck. “The privy is below deck, down the hall.”

     The green Lupe growled under his breath as he walked off. How could he have forgotten -- he was covered in tar. He had a loathing for that maniacal Eyrie. Jaeger found his way to the ship’s privy and washed himself off, though it was no easy feat rubbing thick tar away from fur.

     When he finally finished, he took a look around below deck. The privy, crew’s quarters, and storage rooms were all located below deck. Jaeger was surprised as Cal was already down there to meet him.

     “Jobs have been assigned. You can come with me and start sorting out the items in the storage rooms,” Cal said.

     “Aye, Cap’n,” was Jaeger’s quick response. He needed to show a little more of a willing spirit if he was to be valued as a good crew member. The Lupe followed the Kougra into a cluttered storage room and began to sort items, making a “keep” pile and a “get rid of” pile.

     A little ways off, a large snake-like creature was making his way through the crowd of the Krawk Island harbour. Pirates, sailors, and tourists all made way for the determined petpet, as most of them had never seen anything like it. Its body had fiery colouring, with a yellow underbelly and a red and orange backside. Perhaps the most exotic part of it, though, were the long, vibrant blue feathers sticking out of its head.

     The Quetzal slithered up to the faded maroon ship, flicking its forked tongue to get a better taste of the salty air. It had a very keen sense of smell, and was relying on this sense to find someone. Confident that its target was on this ship, the Quetzal shot up the ship’s plank and onto the main deck, following the scent trail all the way down below deck.

     Triton and the cloud Cybunny were working on cleaning up weaponry above deck when they saw the serpent creature slither past with a determined look imprinted on its face.

     “Should we tell someone about that?” the Cybunny asked with concern.

     “Nah, a petpet that big can’t stay hidden for long. If something goes wrong, we’ll just follow the screams,” Triton replied sarcastically.

     The Quetzal found its target in one of the storage rooms below deck. He slithered up to the green Lupe and began to climb its body, elated to have found his master.

     Jaeger let out a little yell in surprise, but then laughed, seeing it was his petpet.

     “Kar, how you doin’, little mate?”

     The Quetzal ruffled his head feathers contentedly, letting out a small crackly gurgle noise.

     Cal jumped back in surprise as she saw the big exotic petpet resting on Jaeger’s shoulders. Jaeger forgot -- it might be hard to convince the captain to allow a petpet on board.

     “Sorry, Cap’n, but I almost forgot. Requesting permission to bring my Quetzal, Kar, along on the voyage.”

     Cal seemed to hesitate at the thought. Jaeger wondered what was going through her mind, when finally she responded.

     “I suppose he could come along. But he’s your responsibility,” the Kougra replied. With that, she turned and went back to sorting items.

     Jaeger grinned happily. He couldn’t imagine leaving his Quetzal alone to fend for himself on Krawk Island, so it was great that he would be able to bring him along. But Jaeger also knew Kar to be extremely curious, and that curiosity was what so often got him into trouble. Jaeger hoped the Quetzal would behave himself, at least a little bit.

     As Jaeger worked, thoughts ran through his mind. He wondered how well an inexperienced crew would fare out on the briny deep of the hazardous Krawk Island. He wondered about how difficult the other crew members would be to get along with. And what did Cal mean when she made mention of a curse?

To be continued...

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