Chapter 2: Stowed Away on the Wrong Ship
The young man watched Cory’s expressions change like he was reenacting a blockbuster film in two seconds, an amused smile on his face.
‘Did the fever fry your brain so bad you don’t remember what’s going on, lad?’
Cory stared at him blankly, still stunned.
The young man crossed his arms and leaned against a nearby pillar that survived the blast of the cannonball.
He was dressed in a sloppy white shirt that was mostly unbuttoned, exposing a large portion of sun-tanned skin. His legs were shod in a pair of brown pants held firmly in place by a thick belt with all sorts of accessories hanging from it—most notably, a sheathed cutlass.
An irrelevant thought crossed his mind as he was trying to remember which character from Questasis stood before him at this moment, ‘Going to the toilet with all those gadgets must be a real pain in the…’
Cory started. Wait, that’s not the problem right now!
The NEET’s wary eyes wandered up to the shoddy tricon hat sitting on top of the young man’s head. A hand-painted white skull and a squashed ‘X’ was drawn on one side of it—also a symbol he recognised immediately.
‘You’re a pirate?!’ he exclaimed in disbelief.
The Hiddel Navy’s greatest arch-enemies were the pirates.
As a decadent trade centre frequented by wealthy businessman, it was a shining beacon of light for any sea-robber looking to make a quick buck.
The most annoying of which was one particular group of pirates that appeared early in the game should the player choose the class of a thief.
They could easily be identified by the childish skull-and-bones drawing on their tricon hats.
The young man below said tricon hat grinned at him with yellowed teeth. ‘Welcome aboard! You’ve got spotty luck choosing The Wingless as your stowaway ship.’
Cory’s eyes darted around him.
The low-ceilinged deck was decrepit and dull. It didn’t look anything like the beautiful animated 2D interior featured in the MMORPG.
Not to mention, there was now a giant hole in the wall and a layer of dirty seawater over the shiny wood deck.
Flotsam bumped into his bare ankles like unwanted solicitors selling overpriced knick-knacks he didn’t want.
‘Would have been the best decision you’ve ever made, if not for the Cap’n choosing Port Hiddel for her next heist.’
That’s right. Her.
The captain of The Wingless, the greatest arch-enemy of the Hiddel Navy, was a her.
‘Captain Regi,’ Cory said instinctively.
The young man blinked in surprise. ‘You know her?’
Cory started again. Anyone who played Questasis when it first came out would know about Captain Regi, but he couldn’t exactly tell the pirate before him that.
The feisty amber-haired pirate captain was an iconic character of the game that was always featured in its advertisements.
She had been the centre of a controversy when the game first launched because players loved her character design, but the thief class was so underdeveloped, it didn’t do her character justice.
Cory himself only played as a thief once, just to playthrough Captain Regi’s story.
And like most players, he had been disappointed by the shoddy storytelling and the lack of development.
It was as if the developers created an appealing character to attract attention and nothing else.
‘I…eh, I’ve heard of her,’ he ended up saying vaguely.
The young man nodded thoughtfully. ‘She is quite famous around these parts.’ His blue eyes gleamed. ‘Do you know about me?’
Cory stared at him blankly. There had been little to no mention of The Wingless crew in the game.
The young man shrugged and wriggled his eyebrows playfully. ‘It was worth an ask,’ he said. ‘I’d be surprised if you did know who I am. The name’s Lightning. I’m Cap’n Regi’s first mate.’
Lightning seemed like an appropriate name for him.
With his hat removed, a shock of blonde hair was revealed. Although it had been wrestled into a decent ponytail at the nape of his neck, loose strands of shaggy yellow framed his face like streaks of lightning.
‘I’m…’ He had no idea who he had transmigrated into, so he hesitated for a moment before saying, ‘Cory.’
At that moment, another cannonball slammed into the hull of The Wingless, cracking the wall of the cabin next to the one they were in.
The whole ship shuddered. Cory, who had never been on a ship once in his entire life, lost his footing and toppled clumsily into the dirty seawater again.
Lightning shifted his feet and kept his balance, splashing saltwater everywhere. ‘Blasted navy,’ he muttered to himself.
At this moment, a pleasant female voice pierced through the chaos above, ‘Have you found the saw, Lightning? Butcha and the rest have started hacking at it with their swords!’
His expression turned serious. ‘Right, I almost forgot why I came down here.’
The young man waded nimbly through the flotsam towards the wall of chests at the back of the hold.
Cory coughed and spluttered, wiping the slimy water from his face with equally slimy hands. His face paled as the hole in the wall began to darken with the looming hull of the Navy’s ship.
Why did they need a saw?