Sailing the Stars: Part Six
Bugsy watched as the strange ship’s cannons began to charge. Deadly pink balls of energy began to form and grow at the ends of the barrels. There was no way she could escape. If she tried to run, the ship would surely intercept her before she’d taken two steps. And with no way of propelling herself through space effectively, she couldn’t jump for it either. This was the end.
Then her hat began to glow again, and Bugsy knew what to do! She drew her sword and held it to one side with both hands like a sports bat, a determined look on her face. She braced herself.
One of the ship’s cannons fired, and the pink energy ball shot straight at Bugsy. She waited until the very last second... and swung at it with her sword! The ball hit the shiny, reflective side of the blade and got sent zooming off to the right, out of sight.
The ship fired again. Bugsy swung, hit the second ball and this time, her aim was true. The ball shot right back at the new ship and hit it square in the left side! A vital component began to spark with electricity and send out smoke. The ship tilted to the left and dropped until it too hit the asteroid, smoking and sparking all over. Bugsy lowered her sword but didn’t put it away.
The glass hatch on the front of the ship opened suddenly, releasing a lot of smoke. A tall blue Acara, dressed in space-armour with a laser blaster on its belt, stood up inside it, coughing and spluttering. She stepped hurriedly out of the ship and briefly examined the broken part before turning to Bugsy.
“You fried my left engine!” she yelled, shaking her fist.
“Well, you snuck up on me!” replied Bugsy. “That’s always a mistake. Who are you anyway?”
“Hmph!” snapped the Acara, not answering. She turned and bent down next to the damaged spaceship, taking a tool pack from her utility belt. “Bounties...” she muttered crossly as she began to work, “they just don’t stand still and let themselves be taken out anymore...”
“Bounties?” asked Bugsy, still keeping a tight grip on her sword.
“That’s right!” said the Acara, turning her head sharply towards her. “Folks like you who people will pay good money to get their paws on. I hunt those folks down, or perform other services to the Neopian with the highest bid. That’s my job; a bounty hunter.”
“I know what a bounty hunter is!” snapped Bugsy. “I just want-” And then she stopped. “Folks like me?” she asked.
“Didn’t you know?” said the Acara. “You’re on my target list. And I was just about to take you down when you had to pull that stunt on me.”
“Who...?” whispered Bugsy, unable to finish.
“Oh, Dr. Frank Sloth, of course,” replied the Acara, “and as soon as I fix my ship, you’re going straight to his place and I’ll be collecting the reward. So enjoy this next hour or so of your life while you can. It’ll be the last one you’ll ever have.”
Bugsy’s heart gave a jolt as the Acara continued working. She needed to get off this rock, now! They needed her back on the Sweet Fyora, and her life was still in danger. But this Acara, and her ship, were the only possible means of escaping. What to do?! What to do?! Suddenly, a thought entered her head.
“Hey, did you say you perform services to the Neopian with the highest bid?” asked Bugsy, desperate hope pulsing through her.
“Yes?” snapped the Acara, “what’s it to you?”
“...Would you be willing to ignore Sloth’s request and give me a lift back to my ship?” replied Bugsy, gaining confidence. “I too have a job to do, you know, and I can make it worth your while.”
“Unless you have half a billion Neopoints stashed away in that jacket, I sincerely doubt it!”
“I’m afraid I don’t,” replied Bugsy, “but I do have a friend who happens to be Queen of Faerieland. She’s exceedingly rich, what with the Hidden Tower and all. And if you agree to help me, we could work something out...”
The Acara stood up and turned to her. Sheraised a paw to her face in thought. “...If you double-cross me,” she said, “you’re Florg food. You know that?”
The Acara thought some more. After about a minute, she walked up to Bugsy and held out a gloved paw for her to shake. “Ylana Skyfire, professional bounty hunter,” she said. “Consider my services at your command. We have a deal.”
“Bugsypal9, captain of the Sweet Fyora,” replied Bugsy, shaking Ylana’s paw. “Pleasure to meet you.”
“Hang on,” said Ylana from behind the control panel as the spaceship dove down into the fray of battleships, “it’s going to be a bumpy ride!”
“Bring it on!” replied Bugsy confidently as she stood behind her, to the left. The ship shook furiously as it rocketed along, narrowly avoiding any obstacle that entered its path.
“Look out!” yelled Bugsy suddenly. A Sloth fighter was headed straight for them, shooting wildly. Ylana grabbed the crossbar in both paws and tilted it sharply. The ship swerved sideways and the fighter disappeared from view. The ship then swerved the other way as Ylana spotted a missile, followed by a wave of purple energy from a dark faerie. Eventually, after several rocky minutes, the Sweet Fyora came into view.
“We made it!” yelled Bugsy, her face lighting up.
“Just call me one of the fanciest flyers in Neopi – AHHHHHHH!”
Ylana yelled out as a huge missile came into view. She scrambled for the controls... but it was too late! There was a loud BANG and the whole ship tilted and shook, spiralling wildly out of control! Ylana got swept right out of her seat and Bugsy started being thrown around like a sock in a tumble-drier.
There was another BANG and the ship stabilised. Something hit Ylana on the back of the head and she collapsed to the floor with a groan, her eyes shut. Bugsy gasped and dived at her.
“Ylana?! Ylana!!” yelled Bugsy as she shook Ylana furiously, trying to get her to wake up. But it was no use! Ylana wouldn’t stir. Suddenly, a warning light on the control panel started flashing, followed by an alarm siren. Bugsy looked up and the bottom dropped out of her stomach! There was a large asteroid straight ahead... and they were about to collide with it!
“Oh double-double chocolate chip fudge!” Bugsy yelled. Stepping over Ylana, she darted to the controls and sat down. So many buttons, switches and levers. Which was the one that made the ship go the other way?! Hurriedly, she grabbed the crossbar and turned it, pulling it towards her at the same time. The ship rose sharply, turning away from the asteroid. Bugsy pulled a lever and the ship slowed down, peacefully gliding through space.
“Ok, calm down,” Bugsy told herself, “you’ve seen space-battle cartoons. You can do this!”
Bugsy turned the crossbar again and the ship turned, heading for the Sweet Fyora. It had almost reached Sloth’s star-ship. Bugsy could actually see the big grey piece of metal through the mass of fighter ships, with Sloth’s ugly face printed on the side. Suddenly Buckbeak’s voice was audible on the communicator.
“We’re surrounded... we’re managing but... still tight,” said Buckbeak, his voice fading in and out through the static. He was right. Bugsy could still see several Sloth fighters swarming around the Sweet Fyora, bombarding it with heavy fire. A burst of rage flared through her. It was time to end this! She swooped downwards and was about to eject onto the Sweet Fyora’s deck, when Buckbeak’s voice came through again!
“There’s another one, starboard bow, elevated 35 degrees, coming in fast.... not one of ours but not one of Sloth’s... could be an ally.... ready cannons! Open fire!”
“Wait a minute...” said Bugsy to herself, “that’s my position-”
There was a bang, and a cannonball from the Sweet Fyora’s cannons came flying towards the borrowed ship, followed by another one. Bugsy had to swerve sharply to avoid it, and then climb slightly to dodge the other one.
“Stop it! Stop it!” Bugsy blurted into the communicator as she did so, “Cut that out! IT’S ME!!”
The communicator fell silent for a few seconds. “...Captain?” came Shadow’s voice this time. “Is that you?! How did you get in there?! And since when could you fly a spaceship?! Over.”
“Since just now,” replied Bugsy, “and it’s a long story, but we have a job to do! Focus on reaching the star-ship! I’ll cover you. Over and out.”
Making progress became a lot easier after that. With Bugsy now helping to defend the ship, taking out Sloth’s fighter ships whenever they came too close, the Sweet Fyora was soon within boarding range of Sloth’s star-ship.
“Captain,” came Nikolikan’s voice through the communicator, “we’re ready to commence infiltration. Some of Pteri’s crew are staying behind to keep an eye on the ship. Recommend you patrol the outside, ready to provide assistance if needed.”
“Rodger,” replied Bugsy, “proceed.” She watched from up above as a swarm of Neopets leapt off the Sweet Fyora and headed for the star-ship’s landing bay. A few minutes later, they had all vanished inside. Bugsy smiled. Now they had him!
“Commander Kommet,” said Bugsy, holding down a button on the communicator, “this is BP-9. Stage 1 has been completed and my crew have infiltrated the star-ship. Sloth is within our grasp. Over.”
To be continued...