Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 03 - "Shipwrecked"

Tradewinds 03 - "Shipwrecked"

by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Wherein Max gets an unexpected visitor, and word of the outside world, an account of smuggling, harrowing chases and treachery…

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Fantasy,Sci-fi - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2008-09-26 - Updated: 2008-09-26 - 1786 words - Complete

3 years later...

The dawning of another day in Paradise: the sun shining, birds chirping, the eternal tide washing on the beach, as countless days before it had begun.

Only today there was something new under the sun in Paradise, something new for the waves to break against. Last night’s storm had dragged in what was perhaps not a true first, but was at least a second in the island’s known history. For stranded on the sand was the wreck of a small vessel. It was somewhat larger than the boat that washed up some five years ago, yet was of similar design, sleek and swift-looking. But no more, for the storm had hurled it against some of the rocks that peppered the beach near the cliff line. Now there was a gaping rip in the hull.

Painted above the gash was a symbol that Max had only seen in his elders’ descriptions, a symbol for which he had maintained a great deal of vigilance over the years.

The symbol of the Triangle State Authority.

This particular vessel was no derelict, though; its sole occupant had washed up a short distance away. Already he stood on shaky legs, staggering through the wet sand toward what remained of his ship. He was short and wiry, clothed in the ragged-out remains of light blue coveralls that bore the same insignia as the boat. A steel circlet and a length of chain dangled from each wrist.

His short black hair stood in sand-caked disarray as he scratched his head at the sheer misfortune of his wreck’s location. If it had only washed up farther down the beach, it might still be intact. Beached, no doubt, but almost certainly intact. His green eyes stared intently at the wreck, as if his gaze could somehow undo the damage, betraying ever greater dismay as it dawned on him that the ship that had carried him this far would never sail again.

Damn…” he croaked.

Wasting no time, he climbed aboard the wreck, which wobbled back and forth in its landlocked final resting place. He was very glad to see the standard-issue power rifle still in its compartment, as well as a med-kit he knew he could find uses for. Otherwise, all he could find was a few odds and ends that were either broken or of dubious use; just a mostly empty canteen, for whatever ration packs he had had been washed overboard in the storm. The boat clearly hadn’t been very well stocked when it came into his possession, but he had been hoping he had overlooked something before.

No such luck.

Now that he was armed, the young man turned more of his attention to his surroundings. He could see no immediate threat, but naturally wanted to be as well equipped as possible before exploring. After all, he was in unfamiliar territory, and very ill at ease with the knowledge that he couldn’t leave this place. That, and he had his own dark suspicions as to who he might find here.

He then set out. As he continued down the beach, he gradually regained his land-legs, and some of his strength, even as he adjusted to the shifting sand. At this point he wasn’t entirely sure where he had landed since he had deliberately sailed right off the Authority’s maps, or what he remembered of them. How he had made a point of going the “wrong way” for the Cyexian islands, as he sought to avoid them altogether. (Not that he was complaining about it) but as far out as he had been, he knew of no place the storm could have deposited him.


No. He waved that thought aside. The mysterious island of Layosha was just a rumor, and even if it were real, it was said to lie beyond Cyexian waters. Unsure of what kind of welcoming committee he might encounter, he decided to keep his guard up. If nothing else, he had no idea who or what might live on this island.

He honestly hoped there was someone here who could help him repair his ship (if that was even possible without resources he doubted this place had), Layoshan or otherwise. Though he suspected that a helping hand— or even a friendly welcome— was more than he had a right to expect. As for where he was, there were rumors of uncharted islands, but he really didn’t believe there were any. Between the Cyexians and the Triangle State Authority, these waters had been very thoroughly explored.

But the Ocean beyond had not. Not by any means. Surely I’ve gone off the map… That thought intrigued him, as he had always wondered where all those travelers and traders came from (hell, where he originally came from, for that matter), but shed little light on his present situation.

Mostly he wondered at the sheer coincidence of this island being exactly where it was at the time.

At first, there seemed to be no signs of habitation, but as he crossed the beach, the young man found the watered-down remains of a campfire. If no one was currently here, then the area had only recently been departed, most likely because of the storm. Though it was so badly damaged that he couldn’t tell how old it was.

He suspected that there were others on the island, and he knew there might be other islands in these waters. Only a further search would reveal if the island was inhabited, or at least frequently visited.

Now certain that he was not alone, he hauled out the power rifle and kept it handy as he explored. He knew it wasn’t a very friendly gesture, but to him it was better than being defenseless, so he set it for stun, figuring that would be sufficient for self-defense. In unknown territory, no one could be sure what kind of welcome they might receive. He started thinking more and more about the possibilities he now faced. If he had truly broken free of the Triangle State and its ruthless Authority, and the feuding Cyexian clans, and he hadn’t stumbled upon legendary Layosha…

If I keep going this way… he finished aloud, “I’d never have to deal with any of those assholes again…”

I’d be free…

That thought stirred a mixed bag of emotions. If nothing else, no one knew him in the outside world, or knew that he was supposed to be executed. Or at least no one would know now.

About time I did something about these damn chains, he decided. He had had no time in his hasty departure from Pullman Island to work on them, and that tiny vessel rocked too much for him to even try it. Then that storm came up. The one thing that burned him now was that this mine camp uniform was the only scrap of clothing he had to his name. The Authority can still screw me over, even here…

But first things first. These chains were driving him nuts. That, and he was sick of being reminded of his captivity. On that note, he checked his right boot, relieved to see his secret weapon was still there, chalking his negligence up to disorientation. He wandered into some trees, looking for a sheltered place to work while he was so vulnerable—

His search was interrupted by a short yelp, followed by what sounded like laughter.

His chains forgotten for now, he took off in the direction of that sound, nearly falling flat on his face in the shifting sand. The laughter had ceased, and was quickly replaced with the sounds of an ensuing struggle. As he drew nearer to the source, he could hear low growling noises, that caused him to slow down as he approached.

He came around a dense growth of foliage and was brought to a halt at what he saw.

There on the ground lay a young man, and on top of him sat an enormous black-and-white cat. The largest he had ever seen; so large he nearly fumbled his power rifle at the sight of it. The young man appeared to be grappling with the creature, struggling to get out from under it. There was something he didn’t quite understand about this scene, mostly the young man’s lack of urgency, as if this were some kind of game or something, but it was his philosophy to shoot first and ask questions later.

So, not wanting to see what the big cat might do next, he shot it.

There were three reactions, in rapid succession, and only the first one was what he expected. That being that the cat, hit bang-on, reeled away from the young man and fell over with a shocked snarl. At the same time, the young man leaped to his feet, staring at the other in stark disbelief, gasping, “You killed Bandit…” The final reaction in this sequence happened too fast for the stranger to even keep up with.

Max sprang at him in a rage, kicking the stranger’s rifle out of his grasp before he could even think to fire a shot. In a blur of motion, Max’s foot arced back the other way, knocking the stranger flat on his ass. He barely rolled out from under his fierce opponent, but even as he was getting back up, Max kicked him upside the head, knocking him down again.

“So much for gratitude…” the stranger muttered, taking the fight back to Max with a charging uppercut. But Max held his ground, blocking the stranger’s attack and digging his heels into the dirt as his opponent ran into him. It was just beginning to dawn on the stranger just how much taller Max was than he when he was grabbed by his coveralls and kicked straight up into the air as Max rolled on his back.

Max rolled out from under the stranger as he hit the ground. Hard. He was still dazed by Max’s heavy-duty move as he struggled to his feet. Max, however, wasted no time in scrambling after the fallen power rifle.

As Max picked up the rifle, the stranger reached into his tall right work boot, desperate to out-match his foe’s unexpected swiftness. He pulled out something that looked like a longer version of Max’s laser sword, firing up a short blue blade at either end as Max raised his new weapon. At which point the stranger knew he had lost the race.

“The hell—?” was all the farther he had time to blurt out before Max shot him with his own gun.
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