This being my first time on Krawk Island, I had never seen a pirate Wocky before. Yet there she was, standing in front of me in all her glory, the new leader of Krawk training academy.
“As you all are aware,” she began, in a voice much unexpected for a pirate, “Captain Threelegs is currently away and until he returns, I am your captain. You obey me and I will teach you how to be a real pirate. Piracy is very useful to improve your fighting abilities.”
I peered around at the other budding young pirates. Including me there was eight of them. Me (a red Shoyru), a red Korbat, a Maraquan Cybunny, a purple spotted Grundo, a green Poogle, a yellow Bori, a green Skeith (who looked very miserable) and a desert Aisha, all of them standing in a line, with their heads up in the air, trying to make a good impression, (all that is except the Skeith, who was just looking sad and staring at the ground). The Korbat standing next to me in the line smiled at me.
“Pay attention,” said the Wocky in a way that frightened me, even though she said it softly, “for everything I say is important.” She paced up and down a little. “I can only hope you all survive this training course. It is rather difficult and only the strongest shall complete it.”
I gulped; I was beginning to feel slightly sick.
“This is an endurance course and so you must be able to endure what lies ahead. If you cannot do this and you know it, I suggest you leave now.” Her eyes flickered to the Skeith, who was now lying on the floor, fiddling with his fingers and not paying attention. He looked up, as if he could sense her eyes looking at him. He hung his head in apology but for some reason she smiled. It was a strange smile, I noticed, like a half smile, practically friendly compared to her hard tone. “Good luck, Spike,” she said softly, in a far kinder way than before. Next I expected her to say something like: “You’re going to need it,” but instead she simply said, “I think you’re going to do very well on this course.”
Then she left, turning around and heading off into the building. As soon as she did a pirate Quiggle dressed in traditional Quartermaster clothes stood in front of us.
“I am the quartermaster,” he said in an expressionless yet hard voice. “That is my name and that is what you shall call me.” His eyes looked us all up and down and then, nodding he said, “Girls, follow me to your sleeping quarters. Boys, go inside the building and the first left is your room. There are five beds, which is right. Any complaints you have, tell me, but beware; the last boy who complained about his sleeping quarters got thrown in the ocean. It is my favourite punishment, so like I say, beware.”
Frightened murmurs spread around the line.
“Silence past 10. Dinner is at 6,” he muttered as he left, the Cybunny, the Poogle and the Aisha following him in silence. Then the rest of us filed into the building, turned left and found our room.
“I heard the Quartermaster hasn’t smiled for 30 years!” whispered the Grundo, whose name turned out to be Grunt.
“37, actually,” said Horntail the Korbat. I decided I liked him. I was sharing a bunk with him so it was just as well. “My dad was here at the time it happened.”
“At the time what happened?” asked Borija the Bori.
Horntail leaned closer to us all. I hung my head down from my bunk so that I could hear better. “The last time he smiled was while he was punishing a student for rude remarks,” he whispered. “My dad said that the Quartermaster said: “This’ll teach ye to call me names!” Then he smiled and threw the student into the ocean. That student was never seen again. My dad was friends with the boy.”
“But why didn’t he get fired?” asked Grunt curiously pushing himself up on his green hands.
Horntail lay back on his bed and shrugged.
“Maybe they knew that if they did he’d throw them into the ocean too!” exclaimed Borija.
Grunt laughed. “Don’t be stupid, I bet he’d only do that to a student.”
“So, Wings,” began Horntail, changing the subject and beginning to talk to me, “why did you come to the academy?”
I pondered on the question a while before saying, “Well, I always wanted to be a Veteran.”
There was silence around the room; everyone stared at me.
“You know,” I said nervously, “the Veterans; they’re good pirates. They explore and save us neopets. Surely you’ve heard of them? Lucas Lupe is one of them and Ringhorn. Have you heard of them? The Winged Wonder? Bluecoat?”
“We’ve heard of them, Wings,” said Grundo softly.
“Talk about them here by all means, but nowhere else in the academy,” said Horntail, “The academy has a long-lasting grudge against the Veterans. My dad says they despise them.”
“Your dad sure says a lot, doesn’t he?” said Spike half meaningfully, half jokingly. Horntail ignored him but didn’t carry on.
We heard the clock strike 6 and then we left for dinner.
Tough Tusk (a pirate Tuskaninny) took our morning session the next day. We did assault courses, running and jumping and crawling under things. All eight of us had to work as a team. We all had to finish the course. If one of us didn’t get to the end then we all had to do it again, so it was important that we helped each other out.
After that session we were told to go straight to lunch, but trying to avoid the queue I’d had to endure last night, I hung around for a little while outside. I walked slowly toward the gate, as I could see someone standing there. I walked toward him and decided to challenge him.
“Who are you?” I said. Now nearer to him, I saw that he was a pirate Kougra. He was wearing a royal blue jacket with gold trim and in his ear was a deep wound, almost like a bite. I recognised him immediately. He was one of the Veterans. “Bluecoat?”
The Kougra laughed. “Well there’s someone who knows me. I must have built up quite a reputation! Say kid, do you attend this academy?”
“Yes,” I said, still unable to believe it was really him. “My name’s Wings. I’ve heard about you. I came here to train as a pirate because I’ve always wanted to join the Veterans.”
He laughed again. “Well, then young Veteran, I’ve just the job for you.” He reached in his pocket with his front paw and handed me a small white envelope. “Give this to Captain Wock. Say a man at the gate gave it to you but don’t mention my name. You never know who’s listening. Don’t tell anyone and keep it hidden. I’m relying on you. Her office is on the top floor. It says her name on the door, so it is not too hard to find. Good luck.”
Then he left quickly, leaving me bewildered with a letter in my hand. I knew that the right thing to do was to do what he said and quickly, so I carefully placed it my pocket and made my way upstairs.
For some reason I didn’t encounter anyone on the way to Captain Wock’s office. All the students were in lunch and all the staff had just disappeared. Walking down the corridor to her office I heard voices coming from her room. I bent down and listened through the keyhole. The staff were having a meeting.
“But how would they know so much?” I could hear an unfamiliar voice saying, “I can only think that one of the students is a spy and is reporting to the Veterans!”
The Veterans? I listened harder.
“Or a member of staff,” commented Captain Wock thoughtfully.
“Don’t be silly–”
“I’m sorry, Hal,” interrupted the captain, “but think of it. It could be you, it could be the Quartermaster, it could even be me. The perfect way to gain trust as a spy. Become a member of staff!”
“I don’t believe this is necessary, Captain.”
“Then you are not fulfilling our role. The fact you are so hesitant to take up this solution does not help your reputation.”
“You’re not saying–”
“Well, you never know. Dismissed.”
I heard people begin to get up. I looked for somewhere to hide. Desperately I positioned myself in a way that I would be behind the door when it was opened. It worked and I was not seen as the staff left and went down the stairs. Once they were all gone, the captain got up to close the door. As she did she noticed me and looked me up and down.
“I have something for you,” I said bravely.
She nodded and lead me into her office, closing the door behind us.
I handed her the letter and she opened in suspiciously. She skimmed through the first few lines and then looked up sharply.
“Who gave you this?”
“A man at the gate,” I said truthfully.
“Do you know who?”
“Yes,” I said, careful to use the right words, “But he said not to say. Walls have ears, you know.”
She laughed and then smiled at me. “You’d make a good pirate, you know, Wings, but you’d make an even better Veteran.”
After that I kept a look out at the gate for Bluecoat but I didn’t see him again. Now when I saw the captain she smiled at me and in the lessons she took she helped me and seemed to favour me slightly. Yet that was all. It was getting nearer and nearer to when I had to leave and nothing more exciting happed, or was going to happen. Yet.
I awoke to find Horntail shaking me and shouting in my ear. “We’ve got to get out of here! We’re being invaded!”
There was a lot of noise from outside. Everyone else in our room was already awake and were grabbing what things of theirs they could and running out the door. I grabbed my backpack and stood up.
“What’s going on?”
“The Veterans, the ones you are so obsessed with, are invading! The Quartermaster told us all to evacuate, so come on!”
We ran out of the building and met the others outside. All the staff were fighting off about 40 neopets, all wearing the same blue jackets with gold trim. Veterans.
“What’s going on?” screamed Cy the Cybunny.
I could just see Bluecoat within the fray. He winked at me and I smiled.
“STOP!” We turned to see Captain Wock, walking toward the battle, which had frozen at her words. Both the staff and the Veterans seemed to obey her.
“But they’re attacking us!” yelled Hobble Foot Hal furiously.
“So? You are attacking them as well,” she pointed out.
She went and stood in front of the Veterans and began to speak to one of them who I recognised to be Lucas Lupe. “Fellow Veteran, retreat your troops but you Bluecoat, Ringhorn and Wonder may stand.”
“Fellow Veteran?” Hobble Foot Hal the pirate Techo was finding it hard to control his anger. “So you are one of them? I don’t believe what I’m hearing. We trusted you.”
“No, you didn’t,” pointed out the captain, “Besides, we wish you no harm; just let us have the Quartermaster and we shall leave.”
Why the Quartermaster? I was soon to find out.
“Your Quartermaster, formally known as the Master, is due to be arrested.”
Everybody gasped. The Master was a thief who had been believed dead 40 years, ago. He was famous and very evil.
Ringhorn and Lucas Lupe grabbed the Quartermaster by his arms. He didn’t struggle; he didn’t even seem surprised.
“This is not your job! This job belongs to the Defenders of Neopia!” Hobble Foot Hal was not impressed.
“We are working in partnership with them,” explained the Winged Wonder. He was even more wondrous than I had expected.
“Wait ‘til Cap'n Threelegs hears about this! He’ll punish you!”
“He knows already, don’t worry. We work in partnership with him as well. He allowed me to come here.” Captain Wock spoke calmly, almost laughing at his anger. Then she turned to the rest of the Veterans. “Take him away.” She watched them lead the Quartermaster away. Then she turned to us students. “Go home; the course is over and you’ve all completed it!”
Hobble Foot Hal tried to argue but Captain Wock wouldn’t let him. Him and the rest of the staff were sent back inside.
All the students began to leave, but I waited, still stunned by what had happened.
Bluecoat noticed me standing at the side and came over to me.
“Well done, Wings. You were a good help. Thank you.”
I smiled. “Thank you for letting me help. It was a pleasure.”
Bluecoat fished around in his pocket – which I have now decided must have been everlasting – and pulled out a small blue jacket with gold edges, a Veteran jacket. He draped it over my small shoulders and smiled.
“There, now you’re a real Veteran!”
Then he walked off into the distance.
I smiled, my dream had come true. I was a Veteran.