The Undiscovered Spiral by Merciless Olivia Roberts
The last thing Olivia Roberts wanted was to wake up with a nosebleed and a pounding headache. She sat up in bed, then immediately fell over. “Ooowww...” She blinked, rubbed her eyes, then stood up. Oh, there’s my first bad idea of the day! She swayed a little before grabbing her bedpost. Her head pounded. Yellow spots were dancing in front of her eyes. That can’t be good...hey, my nose hurts.
A few painful minutes later she was standing in the bathroom, sun streaming in like swashbuckler’s blades. She looked in the mirror and saw she had, along with a bloody nose, a small burn mark on her cheek. What the heck happened to me last night!?
The unsteady pirate walked back into her bedroom, threw on her jacket, tied her white hair in a black bandana, then began to walk downstairs. Her un-clad feet were cold, and the stairs of her Skullrock Stronghold were unwelcome.
As Olivia walked down the narrow spiral stairwell, she could hear snippets of her companions’ conversation. She stopped on the cold stairway, closed her gold eyes and listened to their chatter. El Toro, Barnabus, Jack Russell, and her Cutthroat, Old Art Harker, were playing cards under the hydra wall mounts by the fire, Nadya was chopping something for breakfast (she was an amazing cook, like the mother Olivia never had), Bonnie Anne was filling her powder case, Lucy Sterling was sharpening her swords, Taro Moomori was covering his hands in chalk; Ratbeard was sneaking food, and Old Scratch was levitating an armchair. Home, sweet home. Olivia thought with a sigh.
“Hey, yer up!”
“What took you so long?”
“Don’t ask her that! She has been through so much!” Nadya came over to Olivia and pulled her into a big hug. The buccaneer inhaled Nadya’s weird gypsy perfume, which actually smelled pretty good (to the nostril that could smell), and closed her eyes and enjoyed the moment. But then she realized the burn on her face hurt. A lot.
She pulled herself out of Nadya’s arms, then told her to work more on breakfast; she was hungry.
She managed to pull Bonnie and Lucy away from their tasks, and met with them in her office. (She liked to think of it that way; she kept her favorite weapons and random objects in that room, along with a desk.)
“So, fine ladies, girl talk. Are ya ready?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Couldn’t be better, cap’n.”
“ Alrighty then. WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT!?”
The mouse and fox were momentarily stunned, but recovered quickly. Olivia had her outbursts, and these two had been on her crew for a while.
“Well, are you sure you want to know?” Lucy began.
“So, if you remember, we were in Khotan Skyway,trying to figure out who killed Wan Mo, and we were in bad shape, so we teleported back to Skull Island, we met up with your friend Max Silver, where we find some new Armada bilge rats picking on some new pirates.”
Lucy took over from Bonnie:
“So you stepped in, told the newbies to step back, and you started to beat up the Armada goons, but then when you had one more to go (you had quite the crowd surrounding you, I know you like that), the last guy snuck up behind you and tackled you to the ground. The two of you wrestled for a while, but finally, after you’d torn off one of his arms, he punched you really, really hard in the nose. It looked like it hurt.”
“So we took you back here, and you’ve been out since he whacked you.”
Olivia was stunned. She’d been defeated by a clockwork?
“You said the Metal Monkees were new models. What’d they look like?”
“Well, they looked like... uhh..”
“They looked like you, captain.”
“That’s not the half. They were unarmed as far as we could see, but then one shoved out his hand, and from it sprang several wires, that came in contact with your arm, and electric charges went up your arm. It was awful.”
“That’s why my arm is all black.”
“Oh yes, we forgot something!” Bonnie Anne’s face became grave. “When we saw them bullying the little guys, they looked like ordinary pirates. Fresh into Cool Ranch, it looked like. But when your friend Max went to stop them, one turned to him, and his eyes were pale. He shed the pirate disguise like scales, then zapped Max hard. He was on the ground, and you were mad. You ran over to stop them while we got Max out of the scene.”
“Hold on. Is he okay?” There was a new note of concern and distress that was not heard often in Olivia’s voice, she had known Max since her first day on Skull Island.
“We don’t know. You should go see.”
“Alright. I will. But first, I think breakfast is ready, and you know how much Ratbeard can eat.”
After breakfast, Olivia ran upstairs, changed her clothes, then rallied her crew. “HEY! WAKE UP! So, we’re going on a brief trip to Skull Island, and I’m taking Bonnie to go see Max. The rest of you can do whatever, but don’t use the Transportalater. Meet at the life fountain in an hour.”
Merciless Olivia Roberts and Bonnie Anne walked into the Outlaw’s Outfitter, crept into the back room, and saw something awful.
Ruthless Max Silver, swashbuckler extrodinaire, was lying on a bedroll, looking terrible. There was a burn mark on his chest, and he was covered in bandages. His green eyes rolled back in his skull.
Olivia bit back her tears, then turned up to the healer. “Will he be okay?”
“We will do our best.”
Don’t die, Max. Olivia stood up and walked out, trying to get rid of the tears, but they trickled down her face. Bonnie Anne hugged her, and Olivia wept silently into her orange fur. The buccaneer who was usually so powerful and strong now seemed small and vulnerable.
Once the crew had rendezvoused, Olivia gave a small pep rally: “So we have the rest of the day to kill. Let’s go get these clockworks. Oh, and not a word to Avery about this. We’ll show him once we have one. Now come on! We’ve got clockworks to catch!”
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