In the two weeks since Johnny Cuba's demise, what had remained of winter had quickly disappeared. Temperatures were rising up into the tens, there was no longer any snow visible and the sea got much warmer in the mornings. The railway bridge was being repaired, the naval had done their test successfully and everything was back to normal. Morale in the city was high, and everyone from lowly shrimpers to mighty tram steamers were pleased with this.
But none of these things could cheer up Ten Cents.
The switcher had been struck the hardest by Sea Rogue's death, and had been depressed since then. The whole fleet had been given several days off after defeating Johnny Cuba, but Ten Cents had refused to work after then for nearly a week. Captain Starr had to have a harsh talk with him, and only then did Ten Cents reluctantly go back to work. Everyone had tried consoling him, but they only got ignored and eventually they all began to give up. Ten Cents was left to do simple jobs, like taking loads from one dock to the next. The tugs were afraid that if he didn't cheer up soon, Ten Cents would be stuck like this forever.
February 16th 1924
Hermes raced through the water, his propeller sending huge ripples behind him. The Coast Guard had always warned him that if he went too fast, he could have an accident, and Hermes was going well over the speed limit. But he had never been given such an important piece of information to relay, and Hermes presumed it would be allowed. He swerved away from a dock, rushed past an old schooner and sped underneath Sally as she took off. He cut his engine and skidded into Star Dock. No one noticed Hermes though as all eyes were on Captain Starr.
"Today is the day we are helping out the Navy." The Captain was saying. "Hercules, Big Mac and Warrior will take Old Rusty and the supplies, and then- Oh hello Hermes, what brings you here?" Everyone then looked around at the speedboat, who quickly began to tell his facts.
"The cruise ship Venice has sent a telegram urgently requesting help." Hermes said. "Sudden waves caused the ship to be pushed and smash into several rocks. There is minimal damage, but she needs repairs before it gets worse." Everyone except for Ten Cents began to talk about this information.
"SILENCE!" Captain Starr boomed. "We have a contract with Venice that pays more than the naval contract. Hercules, Big Mac, Warrior and Top Hatt, you four will go out and take Venice to the cruise ship repair docks for urgent work."
"What about the navy?" Warrior asked.
"How cares about that lot." Top Hatt scoffed. "Old Bluenose can go float off a waterfall for all I care!"
"Calm down Top Hatt!" Captain Starr warned. "Ten Cents, Sunshine and Grampus can take Old Rusty to the navy."
"M-m-m-me sir?" Grampus stuttered. The midget submarine had not gone near the naval base since he had nearly been blown up, and didn't particularly want to go back.
"I believe you would be suitable for pulling some barges." Captain Starr said.
"But what about OJ?" Grampus said.
"I need him to take up the workload inside the city while everyone else is busy." Captain Starr said. Grampus tried to think of something else to argue, but he failed miserably and looked down at the ocean, thinking sadly about the navy.
"Unless anyone else has any complaints, head off for work!" Captain Starr said happily. "OJ, please go and take any empty barges from the railway dock and have them refilled with wood and supplies for the bridge. And all the naval supplies were sent to Lucky's Yard for our convenience." Everyone nodded and began to head off, but Ten Cents didn't budge. Sunshine was tying up to Old Rusty when he realised his friend hadn't moved.
"Come on Ten Cents, don't you want to get this job out of the way?" The switcher said brightly. Ten Cents simply looked at him darkly.
"I don't want to go. Junior was involved in Sea Rogue's death; I don't want to see him." He hissed. Sunshine, Old Rusty and Grampus all exchanged looks of worry and concern.
"Can you please just pull some barges Ten Cents?" Old Rusty asked. "I can't carry all the loads on my own."
"Besides, you don't even have to come in, you could head back afterwards." Sunshine suggested. Ten Cents let out a deep sigh and began to move forwards.
"Let's just get this down, quickly." He snapped, and moved towards Lucky's Yard. The other three simply sighed and followed behind him without a word.
The Bigg City Naval Base and Reserve was close to the surrounding cliffs and forests of Bigg City. It was hidden from private eye by high stone breakwaters with trees on them. As the Star Tugs approached the expansive area, they saw three naval speedboats and two harbour tugs watch them from certain points around the breakwaters, each one equipped with a gun barge. At the entrance, an aging harbour tug stood there, looking very grand.
"What is your purpose?" He boomed, causing the Stars to stop in surprise.
"We're bringing some supplies in to fix up after the bombing." Sunshine explained.
"We've been waiting, come in." The harbour tug said, and moved aside so they could pass. They all mumbled thanks except for Ten Cents and entered.
Before the bomb, the reserve had been fairly simple. There were four small grey warehouses were the tugs, speedboats and tram steamers lived, along with one for weaponry, one for barges, and one were the large warship Aquarius was stored. There was also a blue, two storey administration building with several blue megaphones alongside, and a small dock which had railway tracks and two small cranes.
But that had all changed. The bomb had destroyed half of the dock, two of the warehouses and the majority of the administration building, destroying half the speedboats and a third of the tugs. Other warehouses had been damaged minimally but the navy was still unimpressed. The Stars had to bring in bricks, wood, paint, corrugated iron, railway tracks and parts for the new cranes. There was a lot to be done, and the Stars were hoping to get it out of the way.
Inside the spacious field of water, Bluenose and Junior were side-by-side, with five submarines in front of them: Pacifica, Atlantic, Indiana, Southren and Arctic. These five were the main submarines of this branch of the navy, and they did lots of reconnaissance work, travelling all over the oceans they were named after. They were back in Bigg City for their bi-annual tests to ensure they were in perfect working order.
"Today you will be put to a number of tests. Mainly, these will test your speed, aim and how far you can descend." Bluenose was saying. He heard the water swishing behind him and turned around. The submarines all looked around as well, and Pacifica, the darkest painted submarine, muttered something to the others, who all laughed and stared pointedly at Grampus.
"Hello there Stars, what exactly are you doing here?" Bluenose huffed.
"We're here to bring your supplies." Old Rusty explained. There was silence, and then Bluenose burst out laughing. Junior forced out laughter, and the submarines did the same. Old Rusty seemed appalled by this cruel laughter, but Sunshine and Grampus had come to expect and accept it.
"I was told that Hercules, Big Mac and the Dunce would be bringing the supplies." Bluenose said once he had gotten control of himself.
"They had to go and deal with a cruise ship." Grampus explained.
"And they just abandoned their work with the navy?" Bluenose said angrily.
"Disgraceful!" Indiana proclaimed.
"Absolutely horrible!" Southren added.
"They should be punished severely!" Atlantic boomed.
"And they will be." Bluenose said, and looked back at the Stars. "Take your first load of barges over to the docks and start unloading." Sunshine nodded, and the four all began to move forwards. But as they passed, Junior realised something and turned excitedly towards Bluenose.
"They didn't bring a crane with them!" The speedboat said happily, and the submarines all chuckled in their booming voices. Sunshine, Grampus and Old Rusty froze and gasped at their stupidity in missing this major thing. But Ten Cents turned angrily towards Junior and sped forwards. Junior squeaked and tried to move away, but Ten Cents got up into his face faster.
"I didn't see any cranes on our way here." Ten Cents said angrily. "Maybe they are all at the bottom of the ocean with Sea Rogue? Maybe they all got shot and sank? Maybe you are just such a vile, worthless machine that-"
"CUT THAT OUT!" Bluenose boomed, and moved forwards so that Junior could duck behind him. Everyone in the area was staring at Ten Cents with great shock, but the switcher merely smirked and backed away. A smile was on his face for the first time in weeks, and he looked brightly over at Sunshine.
"I'll just go and fetch a crane then, shall I?" He said, and turned and headed towards the entrance. All the naval boats and submarines were stunned, but Sunshine, Grampus and Old Rusty were trying hard not laugh.
"That is the funniest thing to ever happen in the navy." Grampus mumbled. He couldn't contain his laughter anymore and descended, his laughter rising up as bubbles. Sunshine and Old Rusty laughed as well and headed towards the damaged dock, angry scowls coming their way from Bluenose.
"At least he isn't moody anymore." Sunshine said, and Old Rusty nodded in agreement. It seemed that their horrible job wouldn't be so bad after all.
Now that Bigg City had gotten back into its usual routine, OJ found the journey towards the railway yard rather quiet. He could hear steam engines rattling in over their rails in the distance, and the sloshing of the water behind him, but no gunshots, explosions or shouts of terror. The most exciting thing that OJ heard or saw was a speedboat narrowly avoiding hitting a barge. OJ watched the speedboat and the tugboat pulling the barge sort things out and sighed. The paddle tug was getting old: his paddles ached, his hull felt bruised and he wasn't building up the proper steam. OJ had always been a relatively simple, peaceful tugboat, but he enjoyed being able to do grand jobs. He enjoyed pulling in cruise ships, he enjoyed helping to win contracts and outsmart the Z-Stacks, and he mostly loved all of their clients. But OJ didn't enjoy being shafted asides for small work and giving all his favourite jobs to his younger friends. As he neared the railway dock, OJ put the bad thoughts out of his mind and put on a smile.
"Can't be sad, everyone will start questioning me." He muttered to himself. He peered around the spacious dock and hooted to the familiar faces. Puffa and Huffa were on the docks having their trucks loaded up, and Archer was nearby as well, several barges tied around here.
"Hello there OJ." Archer said brightly.
"Hello Archer. Is Admiral not back yet?" OJ asked.
"He came back two days ago, but is still resting so I brought some barges along to collect our fruit supplies." Archer explained. OJ nodded and looked around for the empty barges.
'They are by the bridge." Puffa pointed out.
"Ah yes, I can see them now, thank you." OJ said and moved towards them. The bridge had had its supports repaired, and several cranes were lowering in the sections the tracks would run along. OJ took his time tying himself to them, his thoughts unfortunately drifting back towards his sadness. Once the paddle tug had finished tying himself off, he turned around and began to head off.
"Don't we get a goodbye?" Huffa yelled. OJ froze and looked over.
"Sorry, I am bit distracted this morning." OJ called back.
"That's pretty obvious." Puffa said. "Look at the barges: you left two behind and the others are tied loosely." OJ gasped and looked around, confirming that he had made this mistake. He mumbled to himself and rushed towards them.
"Poor OJ, he is losing his marbles." Puffa muttered.
"I'll go and see if he is alright." Archer said.
"Good idea." Huffa nodded, and Archer quickly moved away.
But the switcher had other motives for approaching OJ.
Archer had been having lots of troubles with her conscience lately. There had been rumours that Burke and Blair had been involved in the Johnny Cuba incident, but as there was no actual proof aside from Scuttlebutt Pete's gossip, the Coast Guard hadn't arrested them. But Archer had, of course, seen the two with the mysterious shrimpers, and she had heard from many boats that shrimpers had been involved in the bomb planting. Archer wanted to come forwards, but she didn't want to go to the police unless she absolutely had to. She and Admiral didn't have the best history when it came to coast guards and police, and Archer knew their record would be brought up if they reported any information. She loved her new life here, and couldn't let that stop her. But Archer had also heard from other boats that Burke and Blair were always trying to scrap OJ. This meant the old paddle tug would be more than willing to help take the two down.
"Oh hello Archer, I didn't see you approaching." OJ chuckled. But his smile faded as she saw the serious look on her face. "What is it, has something bad happened?"
"I'll help you take those to the yard." Archer said. "I need to discuss an idea I had with you."
It had been nearly a month since Venice had last visited Bigg City, and it was a month too soon for Lillie.
"Why does that obnoxious cow have to come back?" The lightship fumed to Hercules, causing the ocean goer to laugh.
"She is in danger of sinking darling, I have already explained that." He said.
"Good riddance!" Lillie snorted.
"Do you think her passengers should drown as well, just because she was a bit rude to you?" Hercules said, peering over his glasses. Lillie gasped and suddenly felt very guilty, and stared down towards the ocean. Hercules smiled and nudged her affectionately, but was interrupted as Top Hatt, Big Mac and Warrior pulled up alongside.
"The cruise ship docks have been cleared and Chuffa II is bringing the engineers." Top Hatt said.
"Excellent." Hercules said happily. "Now all we have to do is wait until she is close enough." Everyone nodded and stared out towards the ocean. They could make out a speck coming closer and closer, but Hercules wouldn't go and assist her coming in just yet. Lillie simply sat their scowling, while the tugs all waited in anticipation. After about five minutes, a loud horn boomed, followed by two more.
"That's her alright, and she must be stressed." Big Mac said.
"Be ready to start towing as soon as we get here." Hercules said. "I'll blow my hooter three times rapidly if there is a major problem."
"Got it boss." Warrior said happily, and Hercules blew his hooter in farewell before racing as fast as possible towards the cruise ship. Lillie watched him go with a sad sigh, and the others moved around so that they would be in the right positions to tie on.
As everyone's eyes were focused upon the incoming cruise ship, no one was noticing what was happening behind them. Behind the sand dunes were one of their plans had been foiled weeks ago, Zorran, Zebedee and Zak peered over at the Stars. Zorran and Zak were greedily staring over at them, silently thinking of a plan, while Zebedee floated behind them, rather bored with the proceedings. He would have been doing a simple scrap collection job right now if Captain Zero hadn't overheard Hermes that morning. Now he was going to be stuck behind the sandbanks for the rest of the day.
"Why are we even trying to take this one again?" Zebedee said.
"That's rather weak talk there, Zebedee!" Zak sneered. Zebedee rolled his eyes and backed away, but Zorran turned around.
"Why are you getting weak on us?" Zorran snapped.
"I just don't like how we, instead of running our current contracts, focus on trying to steal the Stars all the time and practically always fail!" Zebedee growled back. Zorran blew his hooter angrily and advanced towards his team mate, stopping only a few feet away.
"Venice is injured and we can easily exploit that and blame the Stars." Zorran snapped. "I can guarantee that this one will go in our favour. Now, if you don't shut up, I'll shove you up onto a sand bank!" Zebedee nodded, but he remained away from the other two as Zorran went back into position. Big Mac was looking curiously around for the source of the hooter, but wasn't guessing it was them. Zorran looked over at the incoming cruise ship, and then his eyes lit up and he looked back at the city. Zak noticed his boss's hat fly up, and turned to look at him.
"What are you thinking?" Zak asked, and Zorran looked at him, a wicked smile upon his face.
"I am thinking I know just how to end this spectacularly."
While Ten Cents went to collect a crane, Sunshine, Grampus and Old Rusty couldn't do much. Sunshine towed Old Rusty into an appropriate position, and then helped Grampus tow barges to where they should be. This would make things go quicker when they began to unload. After that was sorted, Grampus chatted to several old friends, Old Rusty reminisced about the navy, while Sunshine pretended to listen as he watched the submarines. The switcher had met a lot of the navy over his few years at Bigg City, but had not come across the submarines except for seeing Arctic submerging once. They all seemed very unpleasant, and acted cold and bitter towards everyone else. Even Bluenose seemed to get a bit nervous if one of them looked at him funny, and Sunshine didn't think that he should be running the test. All five of the submarines kept staring over at Grampus, especially Pacifica. Grampus didn't notice as he talked to the other midget submarines and naval tugboats, but Sunshine was feeling a bit worried by their nasty looks.
"Old Rusty, do you know much about submarines?" Sunshine said, looking up at the tram steamer. He hadn't realised he was in the middle of a story, and Old Rusty looked very upset.
"I was just getting to the thrilling conclusion!" He huffed, but let out a sigh and nodded. "Yes, I did know a few in my time."
"Were they all a bit, um, nasty?" Sunshine asked, looking pointedly over at the submarines in front of them.
"Oh yes, they can get a bit nasty." Old Rusty said quietly. "They don't have very good social skills after spending all that time underwater, with no friends to keep them company. They stick together in their packs and act hostile towards other."
"What about Grampus, he was always friendly."
"Midget submarines are different: they only do small jobs inside harbours, occasionally going to other nearby ports." Old Rusty explained. "They surface more often and meet more boats, so they are much friendlier." Sunshine nodded and went to ask another question, but he felt eyes on the back of his cab, and peered over to see Indiana and Southren staring towards him. Sunshine was saved by Ten Cents return, who blew his hooter happily as he tugged Little Ditcher in. Bluenose and the submarines stared towards him, while Junior scampered to hide by Aquarius' shed. Grampus bid farewell to his friends and rushed over towards the others.
"Hello everyone." Little Ditcher said, waving his hook in greeting. "Where should I start?"
"I think that getting this dock fixed would be the highest priority." Ten Cents said.
"That dock has been here since before my time, and it has always been a busy place." Old Rusty said. Little Ditcher seemed to find this acceptable, and Sunshine showed him and Ten Cents where the right barges were.
"Oi midget!" Grampus looked around, and found Pacifica very close to his face. He laughed loudly and cruelly at Grampus turning around, and he moved even closer. "I haven't seen you around here lately, I thought they'd sunk ya!" Grampus was intimidated, but couldn't let it show.
"Well I obviously haven't been sunk, so you obviously heard wrong." He retorted.
"Don't try and be smart with me, midget!" Pacifica snarled. "I could blow you into a million pieces before you can even blink! And what can you do, set a flare up in my face?" And Pacifica laughed at this, and the other submarines had overheard and laughed as well. Grampus tried to think of a comeback, but was saved by Bluenose, who blew his hooter loudly.
"SUBMARINES, we have a very important job to do, so will you please follow me?" The harbour tug huffed, disgusted by the lack of order. The submarines all muttered curses and insults as they turned to follow him, but Pacifica continued to stare at Grampus.
"See you around, midget." He snapped, and followed after his siblings. Grampus watched him leave, before shutting his eyes and turning away. Old Rusty could see his sadness, but couldn't move to consult him.
"It'll be alright." The tram steamer said, trying to keep his voice as low as possible. Grampus looked up at him and sniffed.
"You don't know submarines like I do." He said, and descended below the water. Old Rusty watched the ripples, trying to think of something helpful to yell out. But he realised Grampus needed some space to himself, and looked towards the others, leaving Grampus in peace.
Archer hadn't been sure how OJ would have reacted when she decided to tell him, but wasn't expecting the paddle tug to freeze in his tracks, right between two buildings.
"Are you alright?" Archer asked nervously, not sure what OJ would do. OJ looked towards Archer, his eyes bulging in shock.
"How can you expect me to help you bring down those two?" He said. "They've wanted to scrap me ever since they set eyes upon me!"
"Then this is your perfect opportunity to get revenge." Archer said. "You could have been sunk by Johnny Cuba, and it was partially their fault." OJ gasped and fell silent. He had been trying to forget about his traumatic kidnapping, but it was now all flooding back to him: the cold, dark warehouse, Johnny Cuba's evil laugh, Gareth's wicked smirk. Archer realised she had touched a sore spot and felt guilty.
"I am sorry for bringing that up." She whispered. "But I need your expertise and skills to help take them down. They practically sold out this entire city when they made their deal with Q, and-"
"That's another thing, why haven't you gone to the police yet?" OJ growled. This time Archer froze, but her eyes didn't meet OJ's.
"I have my reasons, and they are too complicated to explain."
"I can't work with someone that doesn't trust me enough, even if they did save my life!" OJ said. Archer went to reply, but suddenly the Fire Tug appeared at the end of the alleyway.
"OJ, you are needed Up River." The tug boomed.
"What has happened?" OJ said, taking the opportunity to get away from Archer.
"One of Lord Lucky's passengers dropped a cigarette into a pot plant. It caught on fire and spread without any noticing." The Fire Tug explained. "It turned into a blaze when it hit the passenger's luggage. I just put it out, and they need you to tow him to Lucky's Yard for emergency repairs."
"I'll be on my way after I drop these off. Can you tell the bridge crew I'll be back later?" The Fire Tug nodded and headed off. OJ moved after him, but Archer raced alongside.
"Will you at least think about it?" She asked desperately. OJ glanced at her for a moment, before racing out of the alleyway. Archer sighed and went off in the opposite direction. She didn't notice Zip and Zug at the other end of the alleyway, exchanging looks of delight.
After nearly forty five minutes, Hercules arrived back with a distressed Venice following him in.
"It was just so frightening Hercules!" Venice was saying, her Italian accent getting thicker and thicker as she got more and more distressed. "These waves just suddenly appeared. The whole ocean was shaking, and there was no explanation!"
"It's alright darling, you are in a safer territory now." Hercules called up. Big Mac, Warrior and Top Hatt moved out to help her.
"Is she alright?" Warrior asked.
"Does she sound alright?" Top Hatt scoffed. Hercules gave him a look to make him be quiet, and then began to talk in a low voice.
"The leak in Venice is much more serious than Hermes said." Hercules whispered. "When I was tying up to here, I looked at the hole and realised it is breaking up."
"How serious is it?" Big Mac inquired.
"If she isn't docked and repaired soon, then it will be the size of my cab soon." Hercules said seriously. "And it will soon expand to about the length of a switcher." Everyone was surprised at this, but Venice realised no one was listening to her story and was getting worried.
"What is going on?" She called.
"We are just sorting out our positions." Hercules yelled back. Everyone took this as a sign, and they moved off: Big Mac taking the front with Hercules, Top Hat and Warrior on either side behind them. Top Hatt eyed the hole suspiciously through his monocle, and realised it was getting bigger quicker. It took a minute for the three tugs to tie themselves up, and Venice got very desperate and wailed on several occasions.
"If everyone is ready, than let's go!" Hercules boomed, and the Stars surged forwards. They focused on the path ahead of them, ignoring anything else and charging into port limits. Lillie smiled at them as they passed, but they didn't notice her, or the three silhouettes following them from behind the sandbanks.
Ten Cents, Sunshine, Grampus, Little Ditcher and Old Rusty were hard at work, making sure that there would be no reason for Bluenose to snap at them. Little Ditcher quickly but carefully placed the loads in their right spots, making sure nothing spilled over. As soon as one barge was empty, Grampus or Ten Cents would move it to the side by the administration building, while Sunshine brought the next one over or moved Little Ditcher. Old Rusty had been unloaded first, and was no moored to an area of the dock, waiting for the others.
After half an hour of work, all of the dock supplies were unloaded, and Little Ditcher had nearly finished heaving the corrugated iron for the warehouses onto dry dock. Everyone was waiting for the next barge switch, and no one noticed the submarines returning. They were talking loudly to each other, trying to attract attention with insults and slandering. But none of the naval boats were paying any attention to them. Bluenose and Junior rushed in behind them, trying to talk over their comments.
"You have all passed the first lot of tests." Bluenose called. "You are allowed a fifteen minute break before we move onto the weaponry based portion." But it seemed that only Junior could hear him over the shouts of the submarines.
"Rowdy bunch." Little Ditcher sighed.
"They have been louder than that before." Grampus sighed.
"How is that possible?" Ten Cents smirked. However, they were unaware that the submarines could hear them, and their shouting began to die down.
"How dare that switcher insult us?" Atlantic fumed.
"It is an absolute disgrace, those filthy city goers waltzing in here and mocking our social attitude!" Arctic added, to gurgled mumblings. Pacifica was eyeing towards them, his big, goggled eyes focusing entirely on Grampus and Little Ditcher.
"I have an idea." He smirked. "If old Bluenose wants to test our weaponry, he is about to get an unexpected showcase." The other submarines were curious, but gasped in shock as Pacifica opened up his torpedo holds. Southren rushed forwards to stop him, but smacked into Indiana, who cried out. Several heads turned, and they all gasped and cried out in shock. Old Rusty could see and recognise the torpedo, and he pulled at his moorings. The ropes had been done tightly, but the wooden pole had been damaged by the bomb, and it snapped easily.
"WATCH OUT!" He boomed. The other Stars and Little Ditcher turned, and then saw Pacifica's wicked smile as he aimed at them.
"Move Move MOVE!" Ten Cents said, and pulled them. Pacifica laughed and fired: one small grey rocket sped through the air at lightning speed. Grampus dived underwater, and Ten Cents and Sunshine dragged Little Ditcher and the barge out of the way. The torpedo hit the corner of the warehouse and exploded into a ball of orange, yellow and grey, the shockwave sending everyone flying.
"PACIFICA!" Bluenose roared. Pacifica was grinning and turning, aiming towards the retreating Stars. But his siblings all opened up their torpedo holds as well, and two dozen tugboats and speedboats rushed forwards with gun barges. The warehouse had been a storage facility, and thankfully it had already been damaged by the bomb. The torpedo had simply destroyed a small section, though the roof was now in danger of collapsing.
"I didn't do anything wrong, I was just teaching the vermin a lesson." Pacifica snarled, and pointed his torpedos towards the dock. Sunshine and Little Ditcher cowered, but suddenly Old Rusty barged through. There was a loud clang, and two small guns opened up from the tram steamer's sides.
"Oh my goodness!" Grampus gasped.
"I didn't know you had guns!" Ten Cents cried.
"Captain Starr had my old protection ones from the navy restored after Johnny Cuba." Old Rusty replied. "He didn't want any of his team to fall into this sort of danger again." He added foully, and stared angrily down at Pacifica. The submarine had realised he was at fault, and watched as his siblings enclosed, him, with the naval boats taking up defensive positions behind.
"Pacifica, if you just stand down, we can sort this out diplomatically." Bluenose said. Pacifica snorted loudly and stared at the tugboat.
"Not bloody likely!" He snarled, and fired a second torpedo before descending. Unfortunately, the rocket smashed into Southren's face, blowing the front halve of his body to pieces. The other three submarines descended to chase after him, while the naval boats all fired their guns into the water. Southren began to sink to the bottom of the harbour, right in front of Bluenose and Junior.
"Get into the dock, there is going to be chaos." Old Rusty said, and nudged the four behind him. The tugboats and speedboats began to blabber, some heading randomly out to sea, others screaming and moving like mad men. Bluenose boomed orders, but no one heard him.
"SIIIIIII-LEEEEEENCEEEEE!" A loud, thundering boom roared. Everyone froze and stared towards Aquarius' shed. The roof tiles and the wooden doors were still shaking from the war ships cry.
"THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR CHAOS!" Aquarius yelled. "THE NAVAL COMMANDER IS OUT AT THE TIME BEING, SO BLUENOSE IS IN CHARGE. LISTEN TO HIS ORDERS AND CALM DOWN." Dozens of boats shivered as the speech ended, but no one spoke a word.
"Come over here for jobs!" Junior said after a few minutes, and the tugs and speedboats slowly made their way over.
"Well that was interesting." Sunshine said, and the Stars and Little Ditcher chuckled. Old Rusty moved aside to let them out, and the entire navy froze as the tram steamer brought his guns back with a clang.
Lord Lucky had not been inside the actual port for many years, and was intrigued by all the different sounds and smells as OJ towed the steamship towards Lucky's Yard.
"It's a lot noisier here than it is Up River." Lord Lucky said in his thick Irish accent. "And it smells like petrol and garbage."
"That hardly surprises me, we just passed the garbage dump." OJ laughed, and Lord Lucky chortled.
"I hope they get someone to do my runs for me while I am away." He said. "I wouldn't want my passengers to go without."
"One of the steam engines will probably do some work." OJ suggested.
"I would prefer if it was a boat. Steam engines steal away my passengers, and I don't want to be out of work." Lord Lucky said sadly. OJ was unaware of this, and went to say something supportive when he saw Archer and Admiral up ahead. OJ and Archer's eyes briefly met, before OJ turned away.
"We are nearly there, but let's try a shortcut." The paddle tug suggested, and veered off down a different path. Archer cursed under her breath, and continued to tow Admiral.
"Try again in a few days, leave him to calm down." Admiral suggested. He was grumpy about being taken out to collect the fruit Archer had forgotten, and didn't want to have to put up with her moody attitude.
"It isn't about him calming down, it is about him trusting us!" Archer huffed as she headed down a canal. "He thinks that we should have gone to the police, but he doesn't understand our situation!"
"How are we meant to get him to trust us?" Admiral asked.
"I have just the idea!" Archer came to a halt, causing Admiral to bump into her. But neither of them noticed as Zug and Zip appeared from behind a dock, grinning broadly.
"Shove over you scum." Archer huffed.
"No need for rudeness!" Zug said. "Just hear me out, one switcher to another." Archer and Admiral exchanged looks.
"You have one minute." Archer snapped. Zug smiled at Zip before continuing.
"We also saw Blair and Burke talking to the suspicious shrimper, and we also saw the scrap dealers heading to the old Coastal Crusaders dock."
"That was Cuba got killed." Archer gasped.
"That's right, they were bringing scrap to be used to help burn the docks down." Zug said. "We can't go to the cops because those two are sadly our major client, but us two would gladly help you bring them down."
"How exactly?" Archer asked suspiciously.
"We may be the lowest of the Z-Stacks, but we do know what they are up to." Zug said.
"They are going to destroy that cruise ship." Zip said, and Zug had to shush him. Archer and Admiral were shocked, and Zug moved even closer.
"If you want to get OJ to trust you, you'd better go save that cruise ship." Archer nodded, and sped off to see what was going on.
It was taking a while to get the cruise ship in, but Venice was enjoying the company and didn't notice. But the Stars weren't enjoying themselves as much. Venice was starting to tilt to the side a bit, making it hard for Big Mac and Warrior to control her on the other side. And she was unintentionally going slower and slower.
"If don't get to dry dock within the next ten minutes, she could soon begin to capsize!" Big Mac whispered to Hercules.
"You don't think I haven't already noticed that one, darling?" Hercules said through clenched teeth. His glasses were askew and his eyes burned with determination. They could make out the cruise ship dock in the distance. A single railway line had been put on the dock, making it easier for people to travel from one place to the next. Chuffa II sat there, shimmering quietly and puffing smoke into the air.
"We're almost home boys!" Big Mac roared, and Warrior cheered loudly.
To the side of this canal, Scuttlebutt Pete was watching the scene quietly. He was dredging in the area, but had no one to talk to or move him, so he remained still.
"Keep up the good work!" He yelled as the tugs approached him. Top Hatt blew his hooter in thanks, but they were too busy to work to have a shouting conversation. Scuttlebutt sighed and continued to dredge. He heard water moving behind him, and turned around curiously to see what was happening. Suddenly, five barges fill of coal were rammed into him, the shadows of office building near him masking the assailant.
"Stop this at once!" Scuttlebutt exclaimed, and tried to turn, but the barges were forcing him out into open waters. Hercules could see him coming, and blew his hooter angrily.
"SCUTTLEBUTT, MOVE!" He roared.
"HOW?" Scuttlebutt yelled back, before slowly coming to a stop: right in the middle of the channel.
Back in the shadows, Zorran and Zak laughed to themselves, pleased with how their plan was going.
"Are you ready?" Zorran asked.
"Yes." Zak replied, and he moved slightly forwards. He breathed in, held for a few seconds, and then let out a big puff from his funnel. Filthy black smoke rose up, sending sparks flying. The wind blew one several metres away, and it landed on the closet coal barge. The black minerals burst into flames, and the Stars all yelled out. They were heading straight for it, and there was no way around. All of a sudden, Archer and Admiral appeared in the distance. Archer was going as fast as possible, with Admiral being wildly thrown around behind her.
"Don't worry, I'll save you!" She screamed, blowing her hooter furiously.
"There isn't any time!" Top Hatt gasped. Hercules and Big Mac exchanged looks: if they stopped or even slowed down, Venice would take on more water. But if they kept going ahead, they would have to pull off an impossible swerve, and any one of them could get damaged.
"What is going on?" Venice yelled.
"We're going to hit it!" Warrior yelled. Archer and Admiral could both see that there was little chance of making it in time.
"I am pulling myself free Archer, my weight is dragging you behind." Admiral said.
"You can't!" Archer said, but Admiral was pulling behind her. Suddenly, Archer had a brilliant idea. She came to a halt and spun around, causing the speeding Admiral to be pulled with her. The tram steamer yelled out as he was spun, and his stern smashed into the coal barges. Zorran and Zak growled as Admiral pushed the barges to the side, giving more room in the canal.
"We did it!" Archer yelled happily.
"Move to the left!" Hercules said, and he and Top Hatt pulled Venice over. There was a cracking sound, and Venice let out a cry of pain. Top Hatt looked over and gasped.
"Hercules, we have a problem." The railway tug said. The swift moment had caused Venice's cracking hull to become damaged: a big piece had broken off, and now more water was gushing in. Hercules looked around and gasped as well.
"Move quickly, she is taking on more water!" Hercules cried. Venice heard it and let out a wail, and began to squirm.
"What do you mean more water, why haven't I been docked yet, CAN'T YOU GO FASTER?" She screeched. Zorran and Zak felt happier as Venice's wailing and shaking damaged her hull more.
"Wait until they are nearer to the dock, then we strike." Zorran whispered. Zak nodded, and the two waited to act. Archer watched what was happening, while Admiral untied himself and the coal barges burned. Warrior looked over at Archer desperately.
"Help us!" He called. Archer was surprised, but Admiral nudged her forwards.
"It's the only way to earn OJ's trust." The tram steamer said, and pushed her forwards. Archer nodded and raced over behind Warrior.
"Need an extra hand?" She called, and hurriedly tied herself up using a loose rope. Big Mac blew his hooter in thanks, and the five tugs moved quickly to tow Venice towards the cruise ship dock. They passed the last of the buildings, giving them open waters towards the docks. Chuffa II blew his hooter to cheer them on, and Admiral followed behind in case they needed help.
"Nearly there darlings, nearly there!" Hercules said.
"Hurry, hurry, hurry!" Venice whimpered, and she shook some more. The tugboats struggled to keep her under control, but their ropes were coming loose from all her shaking. All five struggled onwards, and they could soon make out individual bricks on the dock, and see each of Chuffa II's wheels.
"Now!" Zorran hissed, and he raced out from their hiding place. Scuttlebutt cried out, and Admiral turned around as Zak followed after.
"STOP!" The tram steamer yelled.
"Make us." Zak snapped, and the two Z's slammed into him. Admiral hit Venice's stern, narrowly avoiding her rudder. But the cruise ship felt the pain and wailed.
"Why is this all happening to ME?" She cried, and let out a horn wail of distress. She shook, and suddenly Top Hatt's rope broke.
"There's no control on this side!" He yelled. Hercules turned to examine, and his rope snapped as well. Big Mac, Warrior and Archer began to accidentally pull Venice towards them, and only the water in her hull stopped her tipping. But she was on a collision course towards the dock.
"BUGGER!" Chuffa II wailed, and wheeshed steam and began to move.
"ABANDON SHIP!" Big Mac yelled, and the three tugs pulled their ropes free. Venice screamed as her bow drove through the dock, and she carried on moving. Everyone watched in horror as the first quarter of Venice's hull ended up destroyed, the cruise ship perched on the dock.
"Oops." Zorran sneered, and he and Zak turned and fled.
"ZORRAN!" Top Hatt yelled, and he and Warrior chased after.
In the distance, OJ rushed forwards, followed closely by Zug and Zip. Zebedee was watching from the edge of a canal, and OJ stopped alongside. He looked at Venice and let out a gasp.
"Sorry to disappoint you three." Zebedee sighed. "But it looks like you just missed the show." The four all looked at Venice, who let out continuous wails through her horn.
"Sounds like Venice just docked." Sunshine said, as the sounds of foghorns reached the naval base. Little Ditcher had just unloaded the last supplies, and now an empty line of barges were tied between Ten Cents and Sunshine, with a rope between Grampus and Old Rusty. Sunshine finished tying Little Ditcher to himself, and then the pack moved forwards. The reserve was empty, and it felt eerie leaving.
"That Venice sure loves to use her horn." Old Rusty growled, as more horn blasts sounded in the distance.
"Leave her to it, she's had a rough day." Ten Cents said. Suddenly, Bluenose appeared at the entrance. Everyone froze, and a lot of tension suddenly appeared.
"Good work today." Bluenose said quietly.
"What was that?" Grampus said brightly, causing the others to smirk.
"Good work today." Bluenose said a bit louder.
"Cheers." Ten Cents said, and they began to move forwards, forcing Bluenose to let them pass.
"Wait…" He said, and they all froze again. "Grampus and Old Rusty, we are a bit short staffed at the moment, and you both showed courage by standing up to Pacifica in your own ways. Would you like to return to the navy?" Grampus and Old Rusty were stunned, but exchanged looks with each other before roaring with laughter.
"Not in your wildest dreams." Old Rusty scoffed.
"We are loyal to one team, and they are stronger, braver and friendlier than you lot will ever be!" Grampus snapped, and they all moved off again, leaving Bluenose at a loss for words.
"Thanks for that." Sunshine smiled.
"Any time." Grampus nodded.
"We have to go and return these barges and collect Pearl and a fuel barge." Ten Cents said. "Can you guys wait for us here?"
"Of course." Old Rusty said. Ten Cents and Sunshine smiled, and they headed off towards the city, while their true friends waited behind.
A number of tugs, cranes, barges, tram steamers, schooners, shrimpers, speedboats and steam engines arrived into the harbour. The waters around the dock were soon crowded, and it was a struggle trying to get Venice's rescue operation under way. Barges were placed in appropriate places, and the Fire Tug, his team, Hercules, Big Mac, Warrior, Top Hatt, Admiral, Zebedee and other boats were tied up, preparing to heave her onto the barges. OJ was too old to be of any use, and he watched from a distance. Zip and Zug were jabbering behind him, but the paddle tug was by himself, trying to block out his kidnapping.
"Hey there." OJ looked up, and found Archer smiling warmly at him.
"Hello." He said, before an awkward silence. "Zebedee told me how you saved the day and helped out."
"I did what I had to do." Archer replied simply, but was waiting for what she was hoping he would say. But OJ simply stared out into the crowd, his eyes narrowing. Archer realised he was looking at someone, and examined the crowd as well. Burke and Blair were in the distance, obviously discussing scrapping the cruise ship. Archer could feel the hatred emitting from OJ, and knew he wouldn't turn her down know.
"I will help you in whatever way possible." OJ whispered. "But as long as you can guarantee they will go down."
"I promise." Archer said softly. She looked over at Zug and winked at him, and he nodded back at her.
"CLEAR THE AREA, CLEAR THE AREA!" There were numerous curious mumblings, and over a hundred sets of eyes looked to the skies. Sally Seaplane was flying frantically, shouting the same three words over and over. She dived downwards, and boats moved asides to give her a water runway.
"Sally, what's going on?" Hercules said. The seaplane was shaking in fear.
"The waves that hit Venice, they weren't normal waves." Sally said. "There was an earthquake this morning, right in the middle of the ocean." There was a collective gasp, leading to mutterings.
"But if it happened this morning, why do we have to clear the area?" Top Hatt asked.
"Because, the earthquake caused more than just a few waves." Sally said.
"It caused one big wave." Hercules said as he realised what was happening. "Sally, did you see it?"
"Yes, I did." Sally replied, shaking more and more.
"See what?" Big Mac asked. Hercules took a deep breath before addressing everyone.
"A tsunami is about to hit Bigg City."
Pearl and the fuel barge had been nearby, so, it was only ten minutes before Ten Cents and Sunshine returned. The two, Grampus, Old Rusty, Little Ditcher and Pearl headed out towards Dender Rocks and the estuaries.
"Pearl, do you know why Venice was making so much noise?" Old Rusty asked, causing groans from the others.
"Give it a rest." Ten Cents scoffed.
"I don't know the exact reason, but I heard a lot of noise and saw many boats going towards the cruise ship dock." Pearl replied, confused about the groans of complaint.
"Let's just put the topic aside, alright Old Rusty?" Little Ditcher chuckled. Old Rusty huffed and the others laughed.
"Uh-oh, there's trouble." Sunshine growled. Up ahead, Izzy Gomez was beside Lillie Lightship, the two bellowing at each other.
"What is going on here?" Ten Cents cried. Lillie froze and looked them.
"What are you doing here, get away!" Lillie screamed.
"Why, don't you want your fuel?" Grampus said curiously.
"Can't you see the bloody tsunami heading our way?" Lillie growled. Everyone gasped and looked in the distance.
A huge wall of water was speeding towards the city. It was twice the height of a cruise ship, and it looked five times as powerful. The loudest rumbling, sloshing sound they had ever heard was coming from it, and no one wanted to be around.
"We have to go, and quickly!" Izzy said, and he turned to flee.
"The filthy foreigner wouldn't give me a tow." Lillie snapped.
"Don't worry, we're here." Ten Cents said, and he quickly tied up.
"The water is coming, it will kill you all." Izzy said, before racing towards the safety of the port. Ten Cents and Lillie were quickly tied up, but they realised that the tsunami was beginning to descend and crash towards them.
"EVERYONE RUN!" Ten Cents yelled, and everyone screamed as they ploughed forwards. Sunshine let the fuel barge loose, focusing on keeping Pearl and Little Ditcher tied to him. Old Rusty was in the middle of the two tugs, while Ten Cents pulled Lillie.
"Grampus, get under the water and save yourself." Sunshine said.
"No, I am not leaving any of you!" Grampus roared over the wave that was getting closer and closer.
"Forget us, SAVE YOURSELF!" Ten Cents said, and they picked up speed.
"TEN CENTS, SUNSHINE, OLD RUSTY!" Grampus screamed. He tried to follow, but suddenly hundreds of litres of waters smashed down upon him. The submarine was forced underwater, spinning 360 degrees both directions. He made out the hulls of his friends in the distance, but he smashed into the bottom of Dender Rocks and fainted. And the thousand gallon wave roared over him, heading straight towards his home and friends, destruction the only thing on its mind.
That was the final: I hope the last scene shocked you all :D Look out for the new season coming around the end of the year: Secrets from Oceans Deep: (If you enjoyed this series, please post a review to tell me what you liked)
- Will the city be able to recover from the tsunami?
- Can OJ and Archer prove Burke and Blair to be evil?
- Why are Archer and Admiral afraid of the police?
- What happened to Pacifica, Gareth and Q?
- And look out for new friends, new enemies, new loves, and a new storyline that will blow your stacks off!
(If you enjoyed this series, please post a review to tell me what you liked)