I held on to Zoe tightly as the world around me shook. Only when the tremors started to slow down did my fear begin to subside. I wasn’t dead. My eyes slowly opened, and I could see a lot of the lights in the bridge had gone out, returning to the emergency lighting it had been in when Zoe first started working on the ship. The girl herself was looking down at me, an unamused look on her face.
She had returned into the shape of a girl, but she hadn’t made her clothing reappear yet. Perhaps she couldn’t do so quickly. This meant my arms were wrapped around a soft, naked girl. As for my head, it was face to face with a bare, hairless crotch. She had managed to develop those organs, which instantly caused me to wonder if they were fully functioning. Without thinking, I reached out a finger and stuck it in.
I woke up to a throbbing headache. Looking around, It was brighter now. The lights had returned. I was lying on the ground in the corner of the bridge. As for Zoe, she was standing at a control panel, hitting buttons. She was fully dressed now. Did I? Earlier? I looked at my finger. The tight feeling of her insides was still in my memory, but so was a throbbing on the back of my head. I rubbed my fingers together and smiled bitterly.
“Alice… Report.” I said with a croaking voice as I worked my way back to my feet.
“The Dreadcannon has successfully fired. Dreadcannon recharge… failure. Secondary system failure. The Fission engine is unable to recharge Dreadcannon. Suggestion, use solar sails to collect sunlight.”
“How do you collect the sun?”
“The sun releases photons which strike photovoltaic cells embedded in the-“
“Stop! I was speaking rhetorically.” I coughed as I got to my feet. “How about, how will we collect sunlight when we’re trapped in a cave?”
At this point, Zoe glanced at me. Her face didn’t hold any anger or indication about what I had done earlier. She simply pointed out the window in front of us. I walked forward, realizing that there was light coming through the window. My eyes widened as I realized I was looking out into the cove. The slime tunnel, the avalanche of rocks, they were all gone now. We were floating in the very back of a cove, with water stretching out in front of us. The dock was now obliterated, as were most of the stalactites and stalagmites on the beach floor. It was a clear path to the sea.
“Can we go?” I asked.
The slime shook its head, but it was Alice who answered. “Infinity is currently caught on under rock. I calculate the Infinity will be able to move during the next high tide. Based on current calculations of the moon and planet rotation, a tide high enough to escape our current restraints will only occur in three days.
“Three days?” I couldn’t help but laugh. “In three days… we’ll have a ship! And you’re certain it will sail?”
This question was asked of Zoe. She glanced at me, her expression indescribable, but she gave a short nod.
After everything I had done, it didn’t really matter. In three days, I could end my restriction on the island. We could take this old bucket to the Citadel. I could tell them what happened. They’d probably thank me for bringing them the ancient technology, and be so thankful that they’d give me an armada to go get my family back. After weeks of struggle and worry, a single hasty decision had fixed everything.
Feeling excited, I went out onto the deck of the ship. It was at that point I realized that the attack had also caused a lot of damage to the supplies I had collected. There were still tons of rocks on the deck of the ship, and they had fallen and crushed various supplies I had carefully collected. Others had been knocked off the ship and fallen into the churning water below.
I also realized that any route back to the rest of the island was now gone. In short, I was stuck on this boat. That didn’t make me feel any less excited. I had never imagined I’d end up being able to sail away in this ship, but now that I knew it, then all of my actions that last week really had been for the best.
With that, while Zoe continued to play with wires and work on the ship, I began the task of cleaning the deck of the ship. It wasn’t easy with one hand and a stump, but I made do. I tossed rocks over the side, sending them down to the ground. When I got tired of that, I started moving the stuff on the deck into the ship. Now that I had been made Captain, I had access to the rest of the ship. There were four levels in all beyond the deck. The bridge took up the first level.
The second level was made of quarters for people to live. There was also a kitchen and a mess hall and a room labeled with the letters REC. It had a strange table in it and various balls. Other than plates and cups, the kitchen was empty of any food, not that I wanted to deal with ancient decayed food, but it looked like whoever abandoned this ship at least cleaned it out first.
The third level appeared to be a storage area. It also
seemed to include the weapons and a place for a smaller boat to be deployed,
although it was empty. The room had some supplies in it, although they looked
like replacement parts for the ship. I mentioned this to Zoe, who seemed to
grow excited and came down with me to take inventory. I couldn’t tell her what
a single thing on the ship did. However, with some looking, I found a rack of
ten tube-shaped devices. I looked at a name written above them. I was just able
to make out what it said.
I was able to read it with some effort. It looked like the cylinders went into these long holes that you could close. Well, that was as much as I could understand of that. I knew it was a weapon too, that needed to be loaded. It reminded me a bit of the flintlock, so I imagined it was a similar concept.
The final floor consisted of whatever gave this thing power and whatever moves this thing. It was the power generator and the engine room. I didn’t stay on this floor long since it was all foreign to me, but everything seemed to be working with a quiet hum that could be felt throughout the ship.
While Zoe looked at the rest of the ship, I began to move items from the deck down to the storage area. I worked on putting things into their proper place. I tried to fill the kitchen with food, the storage with treasures and supplies, and my own room with the comfort of home.
With Zoe distracted, I picked the biggest room, the Captain’s quarters. The bed was rather large and lavish compared to the crew. There was a large desk and also a private bathroom. The rest of the deck had small rooms with two beds per room and a single shared bathroom. By the look of the crew quarters, it can house a max of about thirty people, a bit more than the twenty are needed to pilot it. Well, since so much of this ship was automated, it probably got away with a lot fewer people. That was my thought, anyway.
That night, after a long day of carrying stuff until I felt like jelly, I slept the most comfortable sleep I had since my family was taken. The bed was very comfortable. Rather than be made with stuffing and springs, it appeared to be made of some kind of foam that retained its shape. Despite all the years, the rooms had been sealed airtight, and everything had held up ridiculously well.
The next day, I finished up moving everything and was done around lunchtime. Feeling it was about time, I decided I’d give Zoe her present. I came up to the bridge and ordered her to sit. Then, pulling out a bag filled with various things, I started having her try on hats and wigs.
Mrs. Conner was a balding lady, and she had managed to collect nearly a dozen wigs of her own. My father’s powdered wig wasn’t the only one this island had. All of Mrs. Conner’s were made of authentic human hair, so I thought it’d be perfect for Zoe. She eventually settled on the most modest one. It was black hair, which was completely combed and was tied in the back in a tight braid which ran down to the small of her back.
It made her look much more feminine. Realizing there was still something missing, I started pulling out the second gift I had brought her, makeup!
“Quit it… I’m doing this for you!” I said as she uncomfortably kept fidgeting.
I was trying to paint eyebrows back on to her face. I had tried three different types which ranged from making her look permanently surprised to forever angry, and finally came up with a look that was natural. With a sigh, I brought up the mirror and showed her. She glanced at it, touching her face carefully. After a moment, she nodded and even allowed a small smile to form on her face.
“Now, I suppose I should give you some hair down there. You don’t want to look like a small chil-geh!”
I got punched in the stomach and collapsed to the ground. For a slime, I thought she would have been completely uncaring when it came to that sexual organ. Well, it wasn’t like I wanted to bang a slime anyway, but it had been weeks since I had any and she was the closest thing to a woman I had. On top of that, she had the appearance of the governess, a beautiful woman who I had lost my chance to bed.
It seemed only natural to me that the pair of us could have fun, but any time I even mentioned the prospect, she responded violently. As I dealt with the pain in my gut, I might have remained laid out for another ten minutes except that in the intervening silence, I heard the sound of a whistle, followed by a pop. A memory from the night of the attack came flooding back to me, and I jumped up and ran to the window.
Zoe was already looking out of it with a worried look. I grabbed the pair of binoculars I had found from the wreckage of my home and used it to look into the distance. I saw a ship sailing far out there.
“Is it someone out there to save us?”
Zoe’s mouth opened, but she didn’t say anything and ended with a shrug.
No… that was just wishful thinking. That whistle and pop was a signal that pirates had used the night they attacked. It was their way of signaling allies. The woman dressed as my cousin had done such a thing to lead the pirates here. Now… it was done again from a ship that just happened to be passing this cove. I couldn’t believe in so many chances.
“We were seen.” I passed the binocular over to Zoe, who glanced through it as well.
She put them back down and looked over at me. It was as if she was asking what we should do next. Why did Zoe suddenly decide now that I was the leader? I mean, sure, I’m the reason the ship can be seen. In fact, I was probably the cause of all of this. I was far too naïve thinking we could launch such a powerful weapon and for it to go noticed.
If a small firework could be seen in the dark, then that weapon would have been like a blazing torch. The ship out there appeared small. They also weren’t getting any closer. That meant that they were likely a scout. However, whoever they signaled had to be able to see that signal. There were supposedly eleven other ships in this fleet according to that woman. Any number of them could attack at any moment now. This was as bad of a situation as any.
“Alice, the Dreadcannon, how close is it to charging?”
“The solar sails have not been released. If you choose to release them, in our current lighting, it will take ten days to fully charge. Under best lighting, this can be reduced to two days.”
“Two days!” I cursed.
My mind was starting to move a mile a minute. The ship was leaving now, but she’d be back with more. This was an ancient ship. We couldn’t allow it to fall into their hands. Worst case, they weaponize the ship and use it against the Citadel. Two days may be too long for me, but for this fleet invading out archipelago, they could wipe out every city and even break the Citadel.
It was no longer just me I was worried about. It was the fate of everyone in the archipelago and the Citadel too. I only now started to realize what the governess had been so worried about when she let me go. She had been thinking about everyone while I had only been thinking of myself. I couldn’t say I understood the true power of this vessel at the moment, but I had seen the results of that terrifying weapon. A weapon that could reshape the landscape of the island was a weapon no one should have.
“Is there any way to launch earlier?” I demanded.
“A tug ship could pull the ship from its confines…”
How would that work? I had no other ships, let alone something called a tug ship.
“Timber could be used to roll the ship-“
“Forget it.” I sighed.
All of the timber had burned down when they set the fires. Even if I could get them, which I couldn’t because I was stuck down here, but even if I could, it still wouldn’t work. We had to wait until the tide rose to the point we could move. I heard another whistle and a pop, farther away now. My face started to go white. Were they that close? I supposed that since it wasn’t dark yet, the only way that firework could have been seen was if they were within sight of the scout ship. Now I had two ships to worry about.
“They’re already here!” I bit my lip.
In the end, activating that weapon had freed us, but it also brought our enemies back before I was prepared. They may not know the extent of this ship, as buried back into the cove as it is, but they would definitely be curious about such an anomaly. Once they knew more, they’d stop at nothing to capture this ship.
Even if we did have everything on the ship working, we were just two people. We couldn’t pilot the ship fully, and all they needed to do was get close enough to board, and no amount of regeneration would save us from the pirate’s wrath.
Just as I was starting to lose all hope, Zoe stepped forward. She suddenly made a noise from her throat, but it sounded nothing like her voice. In fact, it didn’t sound like anything human at all. It sounded like a strange chiming thrum. She made the noise once, and then twice, and then a third time.
It was about ten minutes later when I noticed something strange. The slimes were all moving. They were rapidly scooting on desperately, and their direction was toward the ship. The walls of the cove were surrounded with slime, and it was only then as I looked through the shallow water that I saw countless squirming as hundreds of slimes moved along the ocean floor. Their direction was extremely clear, our ship.
I watched anxiously as the number of slimes continued to build up, all heading under our ship. Hundreds upon hundreds of slimes ended up under the ship. Like that, I began to feel the ship seriously shift and move for the first time. I ran up to the deck and looked over to the edge, only to see hundreds of slimes propping the ship up. Suddenly, the tone from Zoe’s chime changed, and the ship lurched forward. Carried by slimes, the ship made it over the rock in short order. I watched as we pulled away from the back wall we were jammed up against as we finally progressed through the cavern.
At some point, we slammed down into the water, causing a giant wave to rise up and splash me with spray. I looked behind to see thousands of slimes falling back into the briny sea. I couldn’t help but wonder how many orbs Zoe could have gotten if she had dedicated herself to eating all of these slimes. It was too late now to worry about such a thing.
Our boat was in the water now. I could feel it floating. We had made it. Better than that, we were moving forward, and we started to exit the cove. At the moment, my eyes fell on a rather large ship about half a kilometer off of our starboard. Although the other ship had been distant and I couldn’t see it, this one was up close.
Through my good eye, I could just make out the familiar insignia. It was a picture of a bare-chested woman before a skull and crossbones. I had only seen it once before, the night our city was attacked. This was definitely our enemy, and they were getting closer by the second. I glanced over at Zoe, but she was looking to me for the next command. I supposed the ship ended up making me captain after all. I hadn’t thought the day I would leave North Island would come so soon, but it looked like we had no choice now.
“Alice… turn the ship away. Full speed! We’re running!”
Although I dreamed of vengeance, the two ships had at least a hundred pirates between them, and there was no way the pair of us could face it alone. We only had one choice. We had to run!