She went over and grabbed her pants, putting them back on. As for why she wasn’t wearing them, I could only assume it was a slime thing. Perhaps clothing felt too restricting. If I got up in the middle of the night, would I see her prancing around in her underwear? Well, that was probably too much to hope. When she had finished, she grabbed my arm and I turned around to look at her again.
She was back in the wig and pants. After doing up her makeup the one time, she had continued to maintain her eyebrows as well as lipstick, blush, and eyeshadow to enhance her beauty. Even without, she was a stunning woman, but with it, she looked extremely tempting. Did she do it for my sake? I had to wonder. Although, I wouldn’t ask, because I was pretty sure the answer I would get would be stony silence if not another kick in the balls.
She reached out and grabbed my hand, squeezing it as she pulled me over to a giant yellow object that seemed to be made out of some kind of rubbery material. She had laid it out on the deck and was pointing to it as if it was something I had been wanting.
“What is this?” I asked.
“Boat.” She responded, her voice improving from what she could manage in the past.
I wondered just a bit if her voice was improving from practice, or if it came from eating more people. Perhaps, the more people she ate, the more human she could act. It was a slightly chilling thought, but since I wasn’t on the menu, I didn’t worry about it. I noticed she was giving me an irritated look, which meant that she wanted a response immediately. I shook my head, focusing instead on what she was trying to tell me.
I looked down at the item she was gesturing toward and then back at her. “I’m sorry, I’ve seen boats, this is no boat.”
She rolled her eyes and then pick up what looked like a nozzle. She put her mouth on it and blew. Since her tempting, pink lips wrapped around the tip shouldn’t have been erotic, but I had just woken up and I also had just seen her without her pants on. Who could blame me if my mind started to wonder about such things? I didn’t let it distract me, and instead I watched as she puffed out her cheeks and began to exhale.
I could hear the air move on the inside of the material. It had a strange, hollow sound of wind moving. She then handed me the nozzle. I looked over the entire structure, my brow still slightly furrowed. I slowly put my lips on the same nozzle and similarly blew air into it. If we kept doing it, this would become a boat? How would the air not escape? I saw a cap, but I wasn’t entirely sure how it worked. Zoe certainly had some odd ideas sometimes. However, she had knowledge I didn’t, so I decided to trust her.
I began to blow into it, however, after a few puffs, I spit it out of my mouth. “This is going to take all morning. Why can’t you do this?”
She shot me an angry look and then pointed at her chest. I had a feeling she would only get more annoyed if I pressed further. My guess was that since she was a slime, she didn’t really have lungs. In order to push air, she had to create something like lungs, but there was some problem with them. Either they weren’t comfortable, or they were too weak, or perhaps even painful. Either way, the raft would have been made by a human, so a human’s lungs should be able to blow it up.
While I was supposed to be blowing up the boat, Zoe had begun to release the golden sails. It seemed like she agreed with my idea to charge our weapon when we had the chance. Regrettably, that left me with this obnoxious task. I really didn’t want to kill my lungs trying to inflate this. I was already looking around for some other solution. There had to be a way they did this without the crew having to slave themselves over it.
At that point, I noticed a certain slave peeking out below deck and an idea struck me. Kate must have realized that no one was down below and came up to investigate. She seemed to be passed the scare from earlier. Kate seemed shockingly lonely, and although she was skittish, she tended to gravitate toward wherever I happened to be. Even if she didn’t seem to want to interact with me, she would always stay nearby. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about her being on board, but I had decided I wasn’t just going to sell her.
“You… come here… I’ll give you fish if you do this. Ah… Zoe?”
Zoe sighed, and then three green tentacles shot from her arms, left the side of the ship, and plunged into the sea. A moment later, she pulled up three skewered fish. She tossed them my way without bothering to acid wash them. Three blood fish landed at my feet and I jumped back as one of them was still flopping around in its last throws of death.
“Ah, th-thank you!” I said with an awkward cough.
She had also grown a lot more dangerous too. Zoe had managed to do that with seeming ease, and the distance wasn’t short either. That had to be because she had eaten a bunch of humans. That was the only explanation that I had. Was she keeping skills from me, or was this just a natural evolution of her form? I realized I didn’t have the right to even ask that.
Before I could dwell on things further, I noticed that Kate was eyeing the fish while on all fours and making a coeing sound. I snatched them all up in my hands before she could snatch them. Since she’s cat, she’s probably fine with raw things, anyway. Her eyes followed the fish from the ground to my hand. She was now staring at me like she wanted to pounce.
“You, blow this!” I made puffing noises while holding the nozzle with one hand, then wave the three fish in the other hand.
“Raaaaawr…” She let out another noise and then started approaching.
I watched her carefully, half expecting her to lunge for the fish and run. However, to my surprise, she seemed to understand the order and take the nozzle instead. She began to blow on it. I nodded encouragingly and stood back. This was natural for a captain! How would I be expected to do all the busy work? I gave the orders and my crew carried them out. With Zoe opening the sail and Kate blowing up the boat, I felt a bit like a real captain for once. If only I had managed to land a crew on west island. Unfortunately, my uncle was betrayed, and likely anyone who conspired with him was removed. Now, these two were the only crew I had.
I stood at the bow, my hands behind my back, feeling somewhat proud of myself. Soon, I would be able to get some revenge, killing more of the pirates who had hurt my family. However, this was only the start. I had once been happy with the thought of being the governor of North island. As my mind expanded, so did my ambition. The governor of this island said it best. Why not rule all the islands? That’s when I heard a thump behind me, followed by a rock hitting my back. I turned around to see Zoe glaring at me, her hands on her hips.
“What?” I asked.
She nodded down. I looked at the floor to see a red-faced Kate collapsed on the deck. Her face was red, and she was breathing hard, and her eyes looked unfocused.
“She passed out!” Apparently, a girl her size really didn’t have the required lung capacity.
Zoe pointed down at the nozzle. “You… do it!”
“What?” I responded, crossing my arms. “I’m the captain! Who do you think you are, bossing me around? I’m the boss!”
“Do it! Or… no orbs!”
An hour later, I grumbled under my breath. My cheeks hurt most of all, but the giant yellow thing was almost full. It made me nervous. Kate had woken back up, and was now sitting on the deck, nibbling on a fish, while watching me work. I had only given her one fish. The second I cooked up and ate for my lunch, and the third I tossed overboard. I had to teach her a lesson. I was going to toss both of them away, but the way she whined, you’d think I had tossed away her soul. I didn’t have the heart, so I tossed her the last one.
However, I suspected that Zoe had sent a tentacle out and recovered the fish I discarded or caught a new one, because I swore Kate had been working on that fish for an hour. I was certain that fish went from two-thirds eaten to one-half when I looked away for a bit. I decided to pretend I didn’t notice. Once Zoe had the sail up, I thought she would have ran back to her alcove downstairs, but surprisingly, she laid out on the deck under the sun with her eyes closed and remained motionless. She seemed to suntanning, except I didn’t think slimes could suntan.
Actually, now that I thought about it, slimes were often found on the beach on sunny days. It seemed like they liked to warm themselves under the sun. It was the first time I had ever seen Zoe with anything close to a hobby. Watching her there, her shirt slightly open, her flawless skin not with not even a drop or hair, blemish, or sweat under the noon sun, she was truly a beauty. I had to force myself to look away and concentrate on the boat.
It looked like a boat now, and I believed it would float, but I felt like the second I got into it, it would fold up and I would sink into the watery depths. Without the support of wood or metal, I just didn’t understand how this could support a man’s weight. However, I had wasted my entire morning filling up this boat, so I was going to make it work if I could. However, if Zoe was wrong, I would definitely rub her nose in it.
Rubbing my jaw, I finally pulled away from the complete job. “Hey, Zoe, we’re done. Help me get this in the water.”
“Not you! In fact, you’re staying on board and keeping watch.”
“Mraw?” She cocked her head.
“Do you see those claws you call hands? All you need is to put a hole in this boat, and we’d be sinking!”
This was purely because I didn’t want to end up sinking. I wasn’t still trying to punish her for being of no help. Although, since she didn’t blow the boat up herself, and would serve no advantage on shore, I was quite happy leaving her on the boat. Kate glanced over at Zoe, but in a rare twist she gave a nod, agreeing with my words. Kate looked at her hands and feet, made a low growling sound, and then ran off down stairs. I guess she was angry. I really needed some crew that actually could use their words and carry a conversation.
With a sigh, I grabbed the large boat and dragged it to the side of the ship. With Zoe’s help, I managed to toss it over the edge. Of course, I had made sure to tie a rope to it first so that it wouldn’t drift away. Pulling out a rope ladder the West Island thankfully hadn’t repossessed when ransacking out storage, I tossed it over the side of the ship near the boat. Then I stepped aside.
She didn’t have to give me such a look. This was her idea! Besides, she’s a slime. She could easily get out from under the water intact. I’d likely get eaten by one of those Tortites if I ended up in the water for more than a minute. I had already seen a few of them coming to investigate the ship. Thankfully, they didn’t seem interested in taking a bite out of the metal hull. The same might not be said about this rubber boat, which was why it left me even more worried. I was eager to get in and go before any creature even noticed it was there.
Even though she was grumbling about it, Zoe still ended up going first. She was holding a boat oar that must have come from wherever she found the boat in storage. She climbed into the boat and jumped down in a single motion. I gave an alarmed sound as she landed into the flat section that didn’t include any of the air, expecting her to get hurt. I narrowed my eye as I watched the boat indent to her step. But the collapse I was expecting didn’t happen. The boat jiggled a bit, and that was it.
Taking a deep breath, I tossed a couple backpacks down. Some contained supplies we might need on shore. The others were empty, with my intent of loading them up with supplies before heading back. Zoe caught them gracefully and then sat down in the boat, waiting for me. She seemed to move around with ease and comfort. With a breath, I swung over the edge and started climbing down.
I entered the boat far more carefully than she did. The ground of the boat was like jelly, and it made me intensely uncomfortable to walk. I sat as quickly as possible, feeling like every jiggle was a Tortite coming to finish me off. I didn’t know how Zoe managed to move around so easily. Then again, wasn’t she basically made of jelly? Perhaps she was used to this kind of jiggling because she was a slime. I had a feeling if I said something like that, she’d definitely kick me, so I wisely remained silent.
When the boat stopped jiggling, she pulled out the oar and pushed off from the ship. Looking at it from this little boat on the surface of the water, it truly was a tall and impressive looking vesicle. Although, I had only taken control of it a short time ago, after having someone try to take it from me, I was starting to feel a sense of pride over being in command of it. Although I spoke of ruling over the four islands, for some reason, I imagined doing it from the deck of this ship. Something about staying as the captain felt right to me. Maybe sea travel was in my blood.
Splash! A Tortite’s head came over the edge of the boat, threatening to sink part of the boat. It took a bite, its jaws snapping with a resounding crack. It was trying to buy Zoe, who had shifted out of the way before it bit her. I hadn’t been paying attention, so had it come in on my side, I definitely might have lost the rest of my arm.
“Shit!” I cried out, trying to stand up only to nearly fall out of the boat.
This was exactly what I feared would happen. We were slightly lucky though. If it had attacked the boat directly, we’d already be sinking in the water. I supposed the bright yellow color didn’t attract the Tortites. However, they were smart enough to see the tasty morsels sitting above the yellow boat. There was just a flood of water into the basin as it tried to grab one of us and yank us off the side.
Before I could even grasp my sword, Zoe’s hand turned green and flashed out like a spear. It hit the Tortite’s weakspot. He was powerless to dodge, as she’d be able to reach it at any angle. Blood spurted out, partially in the boat, but mostly in the water. I heard splashes as two other Tortites turned tail and left. They weren’t like sharks where blood would throw them into a frenzy. Rather, they could tell one of their kind died and knew they didn’t have a chance.
Worried that in its death throes, the Tortite would claw a whole in our boat. I grabbed it from the back and heaved. Although it was close to four hundred pounds, I had Zoe’s help and we managed to flip it over into our boat. The Tortite took up the majority of the space, forcing us to be squeezed into the edges. I avoided the claws, which could have shredded me up as it made its last few thrashes just as easily as it’s horrific jaw.
Thankfully, when a Tortite was turned upside down, it stopped struggling. This was a fact I had suddenly remembered at the last minute. With the Tortite immobilized, it died quickly. Once it stopped moving, I started feeling along the edge, looking for any holes in the rubber. It seemed to be a bit more resilient than I had given it credit for and hadn’t ripped. Only once I was certain we weren’t sinking did I let out a breath of relief. I also kept an eye on the water, but it looked like the commotion had scared off the rest of the Tortites.
I glanced over at Zoe, who started to turn back into her slime form. I held my hand out before her head dissolved.
“Leave some meat. I’d like to have Tortite soup tonight. And don’t eat the shell. I have an idea for it.”
She looked at me curiously for a moment and then handed me the oar with a tentacle-like slime hand. She was growing more powerful every day. I was just thankful she was on my side. While she ate the Tortite, I paddled us to the edge of the waterline where it wasn’t too rocky. I tied the boat up to a rocky outcropping. Around this time, Zoe had finished her meal. After a moment, she made a gagging motion, and a skill orb fell from her mouth.
She immediately handed it to me. I didn’t even hesitate to consume it at this point, although I wouldn’t know what ability I got until I could get back to the Infinity.
“Thank you, Zoe. I couldn’t do this without you.”
It was the first time she had ever verbally acknowledged a compliment like that.