The terminal was not a unique building. With its brick and slate and meaningless belfry it blended into Breeze Harbour perfectly, but what it lacked in originality it made up for in size. Spyro and Sparx couldn't help but crane their necks as they wound their way up towards it, tilting their eyes back to glance the gleaming tip of its spire as it speared the night.
"Woah," Spyro said. Sparx buzzed in agreement.
They reached the top of the hill and stepped into a plaza. There were many gathered around its fountain and perusing its market stalls, but around one side curved the entrance to the terminal, and beside its doorway curved an equally wide line of travellers.
"Great," Spyro moaned, but his whines were lost on Sparx's frustrated ear. He fluttered across the yard and over to the line, taking his place at the back of it and nodding firmly to Spyro. He opened his mouth to argue, but a furious buzz from the dragonfly snatched away his words, and reluctantly he scuttled to join him in the queue.
"Can't you wait…"
"I can get you…"
"I won't be long…"
"You're better with…"
Spyro sighed and looked out longingly to the plaza. He couldn't see a miserable face in sight. People enjoying rare delicacies at specialist stalls; couples canoodling by the fountain; a busker drawing in a crowd with her velvet voice, it was all in stark contrast to the queue he was stood in. He had long ago forgotten how long they'd been in line, but it had clearly been a while, and he was irked. Sparx was irked, and judging by the body language of the pelican in front he was irked too. He needed a break from standing on sore feet, but Sparx wasn't going to let him go anywhere. After the trouble he had caused they would both suffer if it killed him.
"I'll bring you back a jar of butterflies," he said hopefully, but Sparx didn't rise to his bait.
"A candy apple?"
"Come on, will you just let me have a look?"
"Kid, will you just shut up?"
Spyro recoiled as the pelican in front spun around and glared at him through bloodshot eyes.
"You aren't going into the market, so put a lid on it!" he ordered, "All you've done for the last hour is moan and whine, and I and everyone else in this queue is sick of it! We're all in the same boat, but none of us are moaning about it, so shut up, wait your turn and give us some peace!"
A few cheers of support rose into the air, and as Spyro stood silently a few people clapped. A blush tinted his cheeks and he looked to the ground, scratching the brick with a sullen claw.
"Sorry," he whispered. Sparx buzzed approvingly.
He lost track of time again. People came and went, the fountain bubbled and the market hissed, and slowly the queue shuffled forward. The moon rose higher and higher into the night and he watched it as his feet went from sore to agonising to numb, but eventually it disappeared as the terminal's wall covered his head and pushed him towards a disgruntled pelican sat behind a desk.
"Next," she said. Spyro stole a quick glance around to check if what was happening was real. It was, and with a smile he approached the desk. "What d'you need?" she asked.
"Erm…tickets to Autumn Plains."
"Do dragonflies get a discount?"
"One way or return?"
Spyro bit his lip.
"How much do we have?" he asked Sparx. The dragonfly shook his head. Nervously, he retrieved his wallet and emptied it onto the desk. The pelican looked at him contemptuously, then sifted through the pile. They watched as she separated the gems into quantities and tallied them up, and to their relief she pushed five back towards them and ripped two tickets from a reel.
"Lucky boys," she grunted, "You've just enough, so don't expect to have a coffee on the journey."
"Okay," Spyro nodded, taking his change and the tickets, "Thanks. What time does the boat depart?"
"Scheduled nine-thirty, but it's been delayed by an hour due to technical problems."
Spyro was halfway around her desk by the time he realised what she had said, and as her words sunk in he froze solid.
"Delayed?" He scuttled back around to face her, "You wait until you've sold me the tickets to tell me that?"
"Company policy," she shrugged.
"That's a disgrace!"
"You're not the first person to tell me that tonight," she sighed, "So that isn't going to change anything. You've bought the tickets, bud, so if you want to go home then get into the terminal and sit it out like everyone else."
Spyro glared at her for a moment longer, but then a furious buzz and a prod in the back saw him slink away.
The terminal's interior was a glowing tribute to conformity. Identical rows of identical chairs occupied by people with identical expressions. Creatures of all kind reclined into the wafer-thin cushions, mostly pelicans with a handful of hippos and fauns thrown in for good measure, but all carried the same look of discontent on their lips, and as Spyro settled himself into a chair he instinctively joined them.
"Sorry," he said again as Sparx settled himself on the armrest.
"I know," he said. He glanced hopefully at the station clock. 40 seconds had passed. "I want to go home," he whined.
"Bzz bzz bz bzzbz."
"Please don't start on that again."
"Well what do you want me to do about it?"
"Bzz bz bzzz!"
"Well I've learned my lesson," Spyro huffed, "Now can you just leave it? I made a mistake and I know it, so stop bringing it up."
Time slowed again. He watched fellow disgruntled passengers scuttle around through increasingly sleepy eyes and managed to strike up the briefest of conversations with a faun, but when he turned his eyes up to the clock it had ticked not much closer to its departure time. He groaned and peered across the terminal, out to the arched glass doors that opened onto the pier where the boat nestled. The damn thing looked fine! Wings primed, bow sturdy, its roof a sea of completed tile. What on Earth was wrong with it? Something, evidently, as at that moment he saw a pinprick walk along its deck. He strained his eyes but saw no more detail, but guessed it to be a maintenance worker, and he grunted. For someone assigned to fix the ship he didn't appear very industrious. He merely walked from aft to stern over and over again, going nowhere near the ship's cabins or buildings or even its wings.
"Typical," he muttered to himself, "We're all stuck in here and he doesn't care. If I could I'd give him some motivation..."
The gears in his brain whirred, and a thin smile spread across his lips. He looked down to Sparx. He was fast asleep, snoring into his hands. He gently leaned into his ears and whispered,
"Don't worry, buddy, I'll do something about it."
He crept down from his seat and scuttled across the terminal, keeping himself low until he approached the doors. They squeaked slightly as he nudged them with his shoulder, but everyone was too enveloped in their own misery to notice him slip out onto the pier.
Screwy glanced over his checklist again, then looked back at the boat. He shook his head. What a sorry state it was in, but he was hardly surprised. They worked the poor machine far too hard with too little maintenance in order to keep the costs down, and finally it had caved and completely malfunctioned. He didn't know where to begin with it, and he certainly didn't know how he'd clean up all that mess in an hour, but if he wanted to go home with a wage he was going to have to find a way.
He made his way over to the bow and opened a hatch to reveal the stabiliser beneath, its numerous cogs worn and striped. He sighed once again, then reached into his overalls and pulled out a small can of oil. He tore it open and tilted it towards the cogs, his brow hardening in concentration. It was vital he poured just the right amount. Too little meant poor steering; too much meant over-sensitive steering. Both carried disastrous consequences. He could live with docked wages, but his wife couldn't, and her shrill whine in his ear was far worse than any accident report. He bit his beak tightly together, and tilted a little further. A droplet spilled over and dangled off the edge of the can. Perfect. He smiled and tilted a little more.
The shock jerked his arm, and he watched helplessly as the gears were drenched in oil. He knelt there frowning, then rammed his wings to push himself upright and stormed in the direction of the voice. He leaned over the boat and down onto the pier below, where a little blot of purple stood.
"Hello," it said.
"What?" Screwy barked. He could already hear his wife in his ears.
"I was just wondering how you're doing fixing this boat."
"What's it to you?"
"Well, I'm really keen to get home..."
Another fuse in Screwy's head blew.
"You're a passenger?" he snapped.
"Yes I am."
Screwy slapped the wood with a fierce blow of his wing.
"Are you alright?" the blot said. Screwy glared at him for a moment, then stomped over to the gangplank and descended onto the pier. On the same level he saw the wings and horns of a dragon, but his brain was engorged on anger and unable to register any fear he should have felt.
"No, I'm not," Screwy said. He approached Spyro and knelt down, leaning into his face. "And do you know why?"
"Because once again I've been interrupted by another damn passenger," he snarled, "I've told them over and over again to fit a lock on that door, but they never listen, and as a result I'm harassed by idiots like you who think they know better than I do every time something goes wrong."
"All I wanted to say was..."
"Why say when you can do?" He plucked a spanner from his belt and pushed it into Spyro's paws, "Come on, wiseguy, seeing as you think I can't do it go and fix that boat. I'm sure you can do it twice as fast."
"Look, all I was going to say is that you could try and be a bit more hands-on, you know? It's just all I've seen you do is walk up and down..."
"You know why I'm doing that? To check the ship's balance so that you don't plummet to your death while it's in flight. I'm surprised you didn't know that, considering your superior technical knowledge. Anyway, people are waiting, so go up there and fix that ship."
He gestured to the gangplank. Spyro looked at it, then back to Screwy's leer, and his face flushed. Screwy nodded knowingly.
"You can't fix it, can you?"
"I thought so," he said, snatching the spanner back, "Just like every other dope who comes out here. Look kid, the world doesn't revolve around you, so get back in there; drink a coffee, read a book, shout abuse at customer service if you really want, but don't you dare come out here and tell me how to do my job! Understand?"
"Yes," Spyro whispered.
"What was that?"
"Yes," Spyro said louder. Screwy nodded.
"Good," he said. He stood up and started to walk, "And thanks to you, I've lost five minutes of working time. Congrats, kid, you've delayed your departure even longer."
Spyro frowned at him as he walked away, but he only moved when Screwy saw him again and jabbed at the terminal doors. With a sullen look on his face he turned and began to slink towards the terminal, but behind it burned a growing contempt.
"What a jerk," he said, pushing the doors open with his snout. Thirty metres away, Screwy said exactly the same thing.
So, now we get to the 'Delayed' part of the story! :D I thought I'd give Breeze Harbour something a bit less industrial as that's all it seems to be in the game. In a way it makes me think of NCL, what with the whole port town thing and all, only the key difference is that Breeze Harbour actually has industry. :(
Anyway, *adopts whimsical storyteller voice* Spyro's stuck and now he's made an enemy of Screwy the mechanic! Whatever will happen next? *normal* you'll find out when I can be bothered. :D
Reviews are, as always, appreciated.