Captain Skyheart in: Race to the Riches of Baleful Bay – Chapter 03
The experienced captain gave her dilemma a little more thought. Ultimately, she reasoned, even if she did find the treasure immediately, she had no plan of escape yet. “Even if I could carry the treasure without so much as a saddlebag I can’t just swim across the ocean. Or fly, no matter what shape my wing’s in.” Skyheart swore under her breath, but was resolute in her decision: Gather her bearings at the beach, and take her next steps from there. She took off at a steady trot, leaving the unexplored jungle behind for the moment and following her ears to the sounds of the beach and ocean ahead.
Skyheart had to fight the urge to push leaves and other foliage out of the way with her wings, as instincts dictated. The first time she used her wings without thinking resulted in a loud swear that scattered birds away. “Damn that Seras, slicing my wing like that,” she muttered, gingerly folding it back against herself. “The nerve of that traitor. My own first mate.” The mutters continued as the pegasus filtered her way through tropical trees. The flora thinned out after a short trek, the pirate pegasus following her nose more than anything else to lead her way back to water. She emerged not too long after, hooves squishing into hot beach sand and the ocean roaring before her. The beach was beautiful and clear, perfect for scouting, no obvious signs of life nearby. Skyheart allowed herself a moment to breathe in the salty air, relaxing, before starting to survey what she could of the bay and surroundings.
The first thing Skyheart did was peer up into the blue sky above. She’d inadvertently ended up on the opposite end of the bay after her impromptu escape and landing, her airship right where it was on the other side, largely obscured by the trees and hills of the bay. “Better to be over here until I get something to defend myself with.” Not that she couldn’t take on a pirate in hoof-to-hoof combat, but Skyheart was more worried about getting shot than fights coming to melee blows. Alas, there was naught but seashells to fight with from the beach. The downside to nopony having yet breached the shores of Baleful Bay was that there were no supplies left behind or abandoned for Skyheart to pilfer. Nor was there much to eat. Skyheart had eaten her usual big breakfast that morning, but she knew she’d have to find something, or someone, sooner or later.
The rest of the copper pony’s scouting proved more fruitful. Gathering her bearings, even when anchored to land instead of being able to fly, proved elementary for the experienced pirate. Skyheart mentally mapped out several possible paths of ingress into the island that seemed more open and safe. Or, at least, would help prevent her former mates from ambushing her unexpectedly. But the pirate pony did not expect just how large Baleful Bay was. There were no charts or records of it, of course, and Skyheart hadn’t had any time to properly discern its size while up on the Wind Runner. “Really could use a crew of my own again, damn it,” she cursed. “Searching this entire rock on my own’ll take days at least. And that’s assuming I don’t run into any trouble.” She shot a glance up at her idling airship. “Fat chance of that happening.” The chubby pegasus sat and sighed, lips pursing, deep in thought, mentally plotting her route through Baleful Bay.
The day wore on. Though the jungle humidity was worse for Skyheart, the copper-colored captain was sweating quite a bit from her plotting, planning and pacing. After a while she perched under the shade of a palm tree and wiped her brow, foreleg glistening from the act. She fanned herself with her one good wing and stared out into the ocean, listening to the waves, mane billowing in the sea breeze. “You know, a swim is starting to sound pretty good,” she found herself uttering. The survivor knew better than that though: The last thing one should do when stranded was to expend so much energy taking a dip. The sun provided a good objection to the rationality, however, palm tree doing little to actually shield the plump mare from the heat and the light. Skyheart groaned. “It wouldn’t be a race. Just gently floating along with the current. Then when I’m cool and refreshed and none the worse.”
Skyheart stood and started for the water, only to pause halfway in indecision, biting her lip. Then she blinked, and rolled her eyes. “You’re overthinking this, Skyheart!” she exclaimed to nopony in particular. The pegasus found herself pacing back and forth, from the edge of the water lapping at her hooves, back to where grass struggled to grow against sand. “You know the only reason you’re such a good swimmer is because of your wings,” she debated, “and one’s down for the count. The other blasted thing can’t carry you on its own.”
“Yeah but it’s real hot and I really gotta soak all this heat and sweat off!” she self-countered. “I’m roasting like a hog on a spit.” Skyheart’s belly, at the mention of food, uttered a small growl. “You stay out of this!” she demanded, flumping onto the sand and blowing her dangling mane out of her face. Some sand clung to her underside from the sweat, the mare flicking her tail irritably behind her, resolving to doing something within the next few minutes.
Should Skyheart succumb and go for a quick dip in the ocean? It won’t quench her thirst but it would certainly make her feel better. Or should she stay out of the water and resume her plans to acquire the treasure from Baleful Bay find a way to escape once she’s done so? There was still plenty of work to be done, particularly since the pony is currently without a vessel.