The Voyager's Aide
Chapter 1: Seaport Rescue
"Yuck! Gross! Bogg, what did we land in now? Nothing could have been worse than that dung heap!"
"Well, like the dung it's soft, squishy, and stinks! Blech! Fish guts!"
Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey Jones slid off the pile to observe their current surroundings. The air was damp and chilly and the sky hung low with threatening gray clouds. Giant stacks of crates surrounded them, creating the illusion of a maze. Loud boat horns blared from across the harbor.
"Looks like a dock of some sort kid, hey, are those what they call skyscrapers? Like your building, the one that could've killed me?"
Jeffrey's eyes lit up and he grabbed Phineas' arm.
"You bet! Bogg, look, it's the Statue of Liberty! This is South Street Seaport, and we're in New York again. But…where is everybody? Where are all the tourists and gift shops?" Jeffrey paced around; He was familiar with this particular spot. "Hey, you know right here is where they put a huge sailing ship that you could walk on and tour. You should have seen it! It was so fun, Bogg."
Jeffrey's excitement dimmed and he lowered his head as memories of his family outings came flooding back to him. By now Phineas could read Jeffrey like a book, and in moments like these the boy always needed reassurance. Phineas put an arm over his shoulders and hugged him to his side.
"I'm sure it was, going on ships is always fun. Let's see what the omni says, Jeff."
To their pleasant surprise, it rang on the green light.
"New York City, February 17th 1941. Date mean anything to you?"
"Nothing I know of in New York, but that explains why South Street Seaport is missing, it hasn't been designed yet. My dad said they opened for business in the nineteen sixties or something."
"Well, there's no sense hanging around here and freezing our tubas off. Let's head for warmer pastures."
Phineas tried re-setting the omni dials, but found that they wouldn't turn in either direction. He pulled harder and banged it against his palm annoyed. Phineas caught Jeffrey's eye and gave him his trademark sheepish laugh.
"Heh! All right! Darn thing must be stuck in automatic again, dirty gears is my guess. There's no need for us to be…"
Phineas' excuses were cut off by the piercing screams of a frightened child. Jeffrey pointed to a loading area nearby and they saw a small figure running for their life. Two churlish looking men hopped out of a black automobile and made chase. Before Jeffrey could say anything, Phineas sprinted towards them.
"We gotta help that kid!"
"Right behind you, Bogg!"
The child skidded to a halt and crawled among a tower of crates, keeping low.
"We're going to find you, you little rat! We want that omni!"
Phineas overheard them and nearly stopped short. They had to be Voyagers. The child could have stolen the omni from them. There was no time to ponder. If they were Voyagers, they weren't good ones. He waved at Jeffrey to find the child and took a flying leap into the taller of the two men. They tumbled to the ground and the man rolled over and grabbed Phineas' vest, shaking him.
"So! They sent you to protect the child? Stay out of this, Voyager! You have no business here!"
The would-be captor was solidly built, wearing a long nineteenth-century mustache and had half-moon shaped scars across his pointy chin. He and his bald partner looked twenty years out of place in ill-fitting, black zoot suits. Phineas was not intimidated and yelled back at him.
"It became my business when you decided to attack an innocent child! Who are you? What kind of Voyagers are you?"
The man didn't reply, he jumped up and grabbed a crate to fling in his direction. Phineas leaped to his right, and it smashed against drum canisters. The man grew more enraged and ran at him waving his fists. Phineas clutched his arms and swung him around, tossing him into a large pile of broken crates and hay.
"And stay down!"
Jeffrey found the child trembling in a dark corner behind a large crate marked Singapore. The child had a brown news-cap pulled low over his face, a shabby wool gray coat, and patched blue corduroys. When he saw Jeffrey he curled further into a ball.
"Hey, it's okay! I'm one of the good guys! My name is Jeffrey, but there's no time to chat. We gotta get you out of here."
Jeffrey spotted the other attacker shifting his stout, bull-like body through the crate maze.
"Come out child, you cannot hide forever! Just give us what we want!"
Jeffrey pulled the child to his feet. "Quick! Start climbing this!"
The child obeyed and Jeffrey followed up the stacks. The brute spotted them and narrowly missed yanking Jeffrey's ankle. After a few daring moments they were on the top, but their safety was short-lived. From his vantage point, Jeffrey saw Phineas resume his battle with the other attacker. It was only a matter of seconds for Phineas to give him the knock out punch with his licensed weapons, otherwise known as his fists. The man spun and landed on the fish guts unconscious.
"Bogg! Help! Up here!" Jeffrey waved.
The brute laughed. He hoisted himself on the Singapore crate and shook the whole mass. Jeffrey grabbed the child's hand and they both gripped the sides. The wood splintered into his skin.
"Hold on tight!" Jeffrey cried, wincing.
Phineas seized the brute by his hefty shoulders just as he was about to use all his force to knock the scared children down.
"You get away from those kids!"
The brute turned and shoved him backwards. He flung Phineas over his back. Phineas landed on the dock so hard, it knocked the wind out of him. Jeffrey tried to help the child climb down the other side, but it was too late for escape. The brute turned back to the crates and pushed harder. Jeffrey was caught unaware and staggered.
Phineas groaned and pulled himself up. He rubbed his head and lower back, and gasped at the scene. It was too late to get to Jeffrey.
"Ahhh! Help me! Bogg!"
The child reacted quickly and tugged on Jeffrey's shirt. Jeffrey toppled forward to safety, but the child lost his footing. With a shriek, he plunged into the rough, dark waters. The bearded Voyager awoke and staggered from the fish pile. He turned bright red in anger. He grabbed his partner's jacket and opened his omni.
"We will be back for the child, Voyager! You can't stop us forever!" The two disappeared.
Phineas sprinted to the edge of the dock and dove into the freezing water. Jeffrey ran to the edge as he surfaced, but he was empty handed.
"I don't see him!" Phineas shouted.
Jeffrey was near tears, if anything happened to the child, he would blame himself. "Please Bogg! You gotta try!"
Phineas took a deep breath and plunged under again. The Voyager Training Unit at Headquarters had taught recruits various swimming and breath-holding techniques, which he had mastered. If absolutely necessary, he could hold his breath upwards to five minutes. Phineas noticed a floating piece of dark fabric and recognized it as a hat. He swam down further and was able to take hold of the child's arms. He was still conscious. Phineas swam up gently, but fast. The child sobbed between breaths and clung to him for dear life.
Phineas took a closer look at him. Long blondish-brown hair hung soaked around her tiny shoulders, Phineas felt his heart give way as she looked at him imploringly with wide set turquoise eyes. Her full lips were tinged purple from cold and her teeth chattered. She whimpered and Phineas hugged her close.
"It's gonna be okay, sweetheart. They're gone. I have you. Hold on tight." He whispered.
They waded to the pier. Jeffrey helped her onto the dock and Phineas climbed up and wrung out his clothing. A tiny fish popped out of his shirt and floundered until he threw it back in. He pulled off the seaweed stuck to his shoulders and shivered.
"Bat's breath! It's as cold as the ocean on Shackleton's voyage!"
"Alright, Bogg! You got…her? Wow, I thought he looked a little small…and screamed like a girl."
Phineas crouched alongside her, and grasped her hands. "Quick, we have to warm her up! She'll freeze."
Phineas removed her soaking coat, sweater and boots, leaving her chilled in a white undershirt. He decided to remove her pants because she could easily catch hypothermia. Jeffrey found a large torn canvas covering and raced to get it. He dragged it to Phineas with some struggling.
"This should help for now, boy it weighs a ton!"
"Just get it over here fast, kid."
Phineas vigorously rubbed her hands and feet to keep her from losing more body heat. He grabbed the canvas and tore off a section to wrap her in. Jeffrey stood at a distance with his back to them. He didn't want her to feel uncomfortable as Phineas figured out a way to cover her. All the while the child kept silent, but she never removed her eyes from Phineas. After being covered warmed, she spoke up in a sweet voice.
"My…My name is Kayla Sheppard. Who are you? Where did you come from?"
"My name is Phineas Bogg, you already met Jeffrey Jones. We…ahh…we were taking in the sights of New York and saw that you needed our help."
"Yeah, Bogg's a tourist, he's my uncle! I was showing him around the City." Jeffrey chimed in. He often knew just what to say to keep suspicions at a minimum.
Kayla tilted her head in disbelief, and then she noticed the round brass object on Phineas' belt. She gazed at it startled and her entire face lit up with a sincere, beautiful smile. She jumped up and hugged them both. Phineas and Jeffrey laughed. They were very relieved she wasn't traumatized.
"Did you fall from the sky? I know who you are! You're Voyagers! Did you come to help me?"
They glanced at each other; both realizing that despite the green light on the omni, they would be sticking around for a while. Phineas also knew it would be a killer to field strip the instrument. He needed a few hours time and full concentration for the task…he also didn't want to tell Jeffrey he just plain forgot how to do it. The instructions were in the Guidebook.
Kayla looked on earnestly, so Phineas kept hold of her tiny hands and winked. "Yes, we are here to help you. But you have to do something for us. Can you tell us how you know about Voyagers? And, maybe you can help us find someplace to get clothes and warm up?"
Kayla agreed happily. Phineas picked her up and the trio headed out of the loading area. As they approached the entrance he saw the black Ford the cruel Voyagers left behind, with the doors opened. He grinned at the kids.
"Hey! We have a ride. Those two bullies left their car."
Jeffrey ran ahead and hopped in the front. "This sure beats walking. I don't think you wanna in those soggy pants, Bogg."
"No way! I also hate wet boots…and underwear! It just get so itch…"
Kayla giggled and Phineas turned red and dropped his sentence. "Err, it's just uncomfortable."
Phineas put Kayla in the back seat and sat behind the wheel. He peeked at Kayla. She looked adorable all bundled up inside the canvas and just stared at him full of curiosity. Phineas crossed his eyes and made silly faces at her in the mirror. She laughed cheerfully.
"I need you to tell me where to go, Kayla. I'm the driver, you're the navigator."
Kayla leaned forward excited. She rested her arms on their seat between him and Jeffrey. Phineas thought she was a real trooper, bouncing back from near death quickly and in good spirits.
"Please, you hafta take me to Artie! He would want to meet you too, he's always meeting people like you. They come in with the little compass and he fixes them and puts in new parts. He has all kinds of stuff in his pawnshop. Just go to 34th St. and Sixth Ave. He's down a side street in a basement. Not many people know he's there. They bring him jewelry and furniture and trinkets, and he has a story for everything and everybody! He's so kind, I wish he could take care of me, but he's a little old now and real busy. I told him I could help him. I'm eight years old. I could do it! I want to, I really do."
Jeffrey sighed. "First things, first, Kayla. It takes time to learn all that stuff, you don't just fall into these things."
Phineas glanced at him and smirked. "I seem to recall someone literally falling into the job of being a Voyager not too long ago."
Jeffrey sank into the seat. "Alright ya got me there! I guess everyone's gotta start somewhere."