The year was 2026 in late June on the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The morning weather was breezy. Six men and one woman aboard a giant, 70m Navy blue and white luxury yacht called El Viator. They were dressed casually in jeans and polo shirts. The yacht’s name was written in golden letters with an anchor sign next to it. The passengers handed in their green tickets to an elderly, wealthy Spanish man with ALS. They all won their tickets through charity fundraisers. The purpose of this trip was to sail across the Atlantic Ocean and back.
The elderly man was holding an Xpress Handheld communication device. A computer screen was held up in front of his face. He resembled Stephen Hawking. He pressed the speaking button. The words “¡TODOS A BORDO! ALL ABOARD!” appeared on his computer screen. The old man pressed his speaking button again.
“Lady and gentlemen, stand up straight like soldiers! Get in line!” Immediately, everyone obliged. The man pressed his speaking button again. “Bienvenidos! Welcome to El Viator! My name is Captain Juan Carlos Navarro. I have ALS. It has been plaguing my body for ten years. I have been sailing this yacht for thirty-six years with a few modifications along the way. But, enough about me. Introductions! You say your names, ages, where you from, what do you do, if you have ever been on a yacht before or not. You, redhead,…you first,” said Navarro.
The next person to step up was an obese man with hazel eyes and messy blond hair in a brown hat. He was Dietrich ‘Dieter’ Eisenbarth, a twenty-eight year old astronomer and physicist from Lübbenau, Germany, but he lived in Ottawa, Canada. This was his first time on a yacht. The wind blew off his hat, but he caught it.
The third person was David Johnson, a 35-year-old African–American average, bald man with green eyes in dark, oval-shaped thick glasses, a thin mustache, and a goatee. He wore a blue medical bracelet on his left wrist and a pump on his waist. He was a substitute teacher for all grades from Boston. He went on a yacht once for a party ten years ago. Before that, he was in the U.S. Coast Guard in Iraq. Unfortunately, after two years of service, he was medically discharged due to Type 1 diabetes.
The next person was a good-looking, young thin man with brown hair, grassy green eyes, a scruffy beard, and a prosthetic leg. He wore an Army necklace and a black medical bracelet on his right wrist. He was Antonio ‘Tony’ Martinez, a twenty-three year old culinary student at San Diego Mesa College and a part-time waiter at Chili’s restaurant. Born in Seattle to a Spanish family, but raised in Portland, Oregon and San Diego. He has been on a yacht a couple of times leisurely. Some pleasant, one time was not. Originally, his sister won the ticket from the Chili’s fundraiser, but she was seasick.
“Speaking of seasickness, if you are seasick, step off the yacht,” said Navarro.
No one obliged. “To be continued.”
Navarro asked Tony about his medical bracelet. Tony said it stated his Type 1 diabetes. After two years in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, he was medically discharged due to injuries. His diagnosis with diabetes was a few months later.
The next man was Javier Ortiz, a handsome, thirty-year-old Puerto Rican firefighter with brown eyes and curly black hair in a black cap with the word ‘firefighter’ on it. He showed his two tattoos to everyone. A small, red AA tattoo on his upper left shoulder and a huge blue firefighter’s hat on his back. Everyone was perplexed at those tattoos. Javier was from San Juan. His father won the ticket from the fire station’s fundraiser. Unfortunately, he was seasick, so Javier took the ticket instead. He has been on a yacht a couple of times. They were mediocre experiences.
The next person was a young, skinny woman with auburn hair in a braided ponytail, blue eyes, and a red medical bracelet on her left wrist. She seemed to be daydreaming. The other men were like, ‘What’s wrong with her?’
“Hello? Señorita? Hola?” asked Navarro. “Are you deaf?”
The short-statured Vietnamese man tugged on her pants leg. That snapped her out of her daydream. The girl was embarrassed.
“Sorry, I’m in my world. I, uh, I have autism spectrum disorder, but high-functioning. Additionally, I’m also a type 1 diabetic. That’s what my bracelet says,” said the young woman in a Southern accent. “I’m Peanut Dalton. Nurse Peanut Dalton. I’m also a freelance artist. I’m from Savannah, Georgia. Never been on a yacht before. First-timer.” She clapped her hands in excitement. She added, “Go ahead. Laugh. Joke. Peanut Butter. Peanut IS my real name.” No one laughed at her.
“That’s a unique name,” said Navarro.
The other men agreed with him.
“Oh, and I’m twenty-one going on twenty-two,” added Peanut.
The last person who introduced himself was the Vietnamese man, Hoang Nguyen, a 24-year-old electrical engineer who lived in Toronto. Dieter thought it was a coincidence. Hoang was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, but he lived in Manila, Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Seoul because of his father’s job. He went on a yacht once for a party. It was quite an enriching experience.
Navarro said, “Well, since you’re all here, why don’t we—?”
They heard a loud screech. Peanut covered her ears.
“What the bloody hell is that?” asked Colin.
A parrot landed on its head on the deck. The magical rainbow powers came from her feet like dust.
“Sunny! Ay, dios mios! How many times have I told you? No tomfoolery! No going out without telling me!” snapped Navarro. “We have guests!” He asked where she was in Spanish.
“Estaba saltando en las nubes,” replied Sunny.
“En ingles!” said Navarro.
“I know what she said,” said Javier.
“Me too,” said Tony. “She was jumping on the clouds.”
On his device, Navarro sent a message to his caretaker telling her to honk the horn. The horn was honked. Peanut covered ears again because the noise bothered her. The yacht started to move. Navarro gave everyone a tour around the yacht. The sun deck was the uppermost deck. It had a Jacuzzi and a glass-enclosed gym as part of Navarro’s suite. Everyone was allowed to use those rooms whenever they wanted. The upper deck was used for outdoor dining. There was also the sky lounge, the bowling alley, Navarro’s cabin, and a stateroom for his caretaker/co-captain. In his cabin, he introduced the passengers to Isabella Cruz, his beautiful Spanish caretaker/co-captain who was driving the yacht. She’s been his caretaker since his diagnosis. She had large breasts, black mascara, bright red lipstick, red long fingernails, and golden square earrings. Her main languages were English, Spanish, and French. She brushed off the sexual remarks of Colin, Javier, and Dieter.
“Don’t mind them. You look um…lovely today, señorita,” said David.
Isabella smiled. “Gracías.”
Furthermore, the main deck was the sheltered exterior deck aft leading into the salon; dining room and galley; entrance amidships and Navarro’s suite forward including a study. The last stop was the lower deck. It had exterior swimming platform at the stern; five guest cabins with en-suite bath aft; engine room amidships, and crew quarters; even though, there was no actual crew, just machines. Navarro apologized for the lack of wifi and the cabin limitation. He let everyone settle down and returned to the upper deck for a nap. Peanut got her own cabin. So did Tony and Javier. David had no problem sharing his cabin with Colin. Hoang didn’t mind bunking with Dieter either.
At 1 p.m., Navarro had Sunny call everyone for lunch. He pressed the meal button on his device for three automatic cooking machines to make lunch. Unfortunately, two of them did not function properly. It caused a fire which Javier put out with the extinguisher. The only machine that worked made salads (tomato/mozzarella/lettuce pileups). Navarro said that there was a utility room with an automatic fridge/freezer and a microwave and oven. Sometimes, Isabella uses them as a back-up. He was very grateful when Tony volunteered to make lunch in the utility room. Tony found salmon, shrimp, squid, crab cakes, and a platter of cheese and crackers in the automatic fridge/freezer.
“Looks like I have bigger fish to fry,” said Tony.
He shoved all of them in the oven.
A small, gray, armless and legless, robot with green eyes named XD91 approached Tony. It beeped. Tony was startled and turned around. “You startled me.” The robot’s feet were wheels.
“Forgive me. I am XD91. Captain Navarro sent me to help you, Master Tony,” said XD91. He was programmed to speak in a British accent.
“Well, thanks. Can you serve the appetizers and the salads while I deal with the meat?”
“Certainly. I also make drinks,” said XD91. His stomach opened a hole. He made water, soda (both regular and diet), and Spanish wine. Tony was utterly impressed.
“Hey, uh, where were you earlier? I didn’t see you when the captain showed us around,” said Tony.
“I was in his his cabin charging myself,” replied XD91.
“Not surprised,” said Tony sarcastically.
Everyone gathered together at a large table in the dining room. XD91 set the platter on the table and returned to the kitchen.
“Would anyone like a cheese or a cracker?” asked Navarro. Sunny squawked.
“No, no, Sunny, guests first,” said Navarro.
Some of the passengers helped themselves. Dieter fed Sunny one cracker.
“Go to your perch. Isabella has more food for you,” commanded Navarro. Sunny flew to her perch at the captain’s cabin.
Tony and XD91 served lunch. XD91 returned to the kitchen to make Isabella lunch, delivered it to her in the captains’ cabin, and headed to Navarro’s cabin to make himself a metal meal.
David, Tony, and Peanut each only drank one glass of wine. Wine was too sugary for them. In Tony’s opinion, the wine tasted like salted watermelon. Isabella assisted Navarro with his feeding tube. He asked the passengers about themselves. Each one discussed careers, hobbies, and family back home and joked around about previous experiences. Tony showed his sarcastic side during the discussion. Peanut pretended she understood some of the jokes and the sarcasm. As part of autism, humor and sarcasm were not her strongest points. She did the best she can to understand.
Is he being sarcastic? He’s so rude! thought Peanut.
Colin asked David, “What do you teach, David?”
“English literature, math, science, and social studies. All grades,” replied David.
“Are some of your students in special-ed?” asked Peanut.
“Yes, some mixed with the non-disabled kids,” said David.
Tony pointed out that Javier, Hoang, and Dieter spoke English fluently. Javier studied it in college. Dieter and Hoang studied the language when they moved to Toronto. Javier secretly poured himself five glasses of wine under the table. He climbed on another table and danced while singing Spanish songs loudly. Some of the passengers laughed and cheered and threw money (both Euros and American dollars) at him.
“Stop that. It only encourages him,” warned David. “He’s not a stripper.”
Annoyed and intolerant of Javier’s intoxication, Navarro demanded that get down from the table. When Javier ignored him, Navarro became more indignant. Colin and Dieter pulled Javier off the table and carried him to his cabin.
After lunch, Tony headed to the kitchen to put away his dishes and silverware when he felt dizzy and shaky. He dropped his stuff and collapsed on the floor. David, Peanut, and Hoang jumped out of their seats and rushed to him. Hoang lifted his head up.
“Are you ok? What happened?” asked Hoang.
“Everyone, stand back! Room, please!” demanded Peanut. David and Hoang stepped aside. She checked Tony’s pulse and figured his symptoms.
“I think he has hypoglycemia,” said Peanut.
“Hypo-what?” asked Hoang.
“Low blood sugar,” said David.
Peanut used her meter to check to check Tony’s blood sugar. The result was 27.
“27 is an extremely low reading,” said Peanut.
David and Hoang were astonished. They helped Peanut carry Tony to a chair. She asked, “Tony, do you have anything carby or sweet? Anything to bring up your glucose?” Tony pulled his glucose tablet out of his jeans pocket. Peanut opened the bottle and fed him a tablet. Hoang went to fetch a glass of water and handed it to Tony. Tony drank the tablet with water and stopped shaking.
“Are you all right?” asked David.
“What happened?” asked David.
“I took a little too much insulin earlier. I was in the 300s,” said Tony.
“You shouldn’t have done that! It’s extremely dangerous! I almost died from overmedicating once after my diagnosis. Ironic, huh? I always tell my diabetic and nondiabetic patients to care for themselves properly. Some of my patients hoarded their pills, for God’s sake!” lectured Peanut. “Not that it’s your business, but a big breakfast caused me to be in the 200s earlier. I took a proper amount of insulin for lunch.”
“I did the same thing. My reading earlier was 250,” said David. “Stupidly, I skipped breakfast because I was in a hurry to get to Cape Cod after oversleeping. I’ve been diabetic since I was 19 or 20.”
“I don’t know why I got carried away. I’ve been diabetic for a few years,” said Tony. “Maybe I didn’t like being in the 300s.”
“Tony, I’m a nurse who has been diabetic since the age of 18. There are better ways to deal with hyperglycemia than overmedicating. A positive attitude, low-carb stuff, and taking the proper amount of medication are the keys to proper health management. Let your body work itself out. Once in a while, it’s better to be high than low. That’s my motto, even when autism causes me stress,” said Peanut.
“She’s right, you know. Improper management equals coma or death. So, do NOT ever ever ever do this to yourself again. Is that understood?” said David.
Tony took all of this in. They did have a point. He thanked David, Peanut, and Hoang for their help.
Navarro was grateful when Hoang volunteered to fix the kitchen machines. As soon as Javier sobered up, he apologized to Navarro about the table incident. He couldn’t help himself. He hasn’t drank for a long time. Navarro accepted his apology on the condition that this does not happen again. In the kitchen, Javier called himself a hypocrite when he secretly filled up his flask with whiskey. He thought, En caso, necesito beber otra vez. He glanced at his tattoo as a reminder.
Meanwhile, on the deck, it was a beautiful, sunny day. The sun was shining on the ocean. At the end of the deck, Peanut sets up her easel and painting supplies. It took her forty-five minutes to paint a beautiful picture of the entire yacht. She was proud of herself. Desiring to feel the wind, she climbed on the rail and let her arms out like a butterfly. She breathed through fresh air. She felt like she was flying. Free as a bird. Tony came to the deck and watched her, admiring her. Peanut opened her eyes when she slipped. Luckily, Tony caught her in time.
“Gotcha!” said Tony. “You know, you ought to be careful.” He released her.
“I was touching the wind! I can handle myself! Thank you!” said Peanut rudely.
“Ok, ok. Sorry for being so helpful,” said Tony sarcastically.
Damn it, Peanut. You didn’t have to be so rude. He just saved you. Don’t get mad at other people helping you. thought Peanut.
“Hey, wait! WAIT! WAIT!” called Peanut.
Tony stopped on tracks. Peanut beckoned him to come back.
“I’m sorry. I think we got off on the wrong foot. I know, not literally. I have trouble reading social cues. You were right about being careful. Thanks again for catching me,” said Peanut.
“Apology accepted and you’re welcome,” said Tony.
“It’s Tony, isn’t it?” asked Peanut.
“Good memory, Nurse Dalton,” said Tony.
“Do you uh…would you like to see my painting?” asked Peanut.
Peanut took him back to the end of the deck to show him the painting. He was impressed. “Wow. That’s beautiful, Ms. Picasso.”
“Thank you,” said Peanut. “I painted the entire city of Savannah once.”
Tony and Peanut got to know each other a bit while she painted another portrait of the sea. She tried a sample of his low-carb mini quesadilla. He snuck a few out of the kitchen after lunch. She thought it was scrumptious.
“I enjoy eating more than cooking,” said Peanut.
She thought, He’s not so bad after all. He’s cute and charming. There’s something mysterious about him. I don’t know what. The inside is more important than the outside. Tony thought, She’s not weird. She’s actually sweet and cute.
That evening after dinner, Peanut and Hoang bowled while pop music was playing. She figured out Hoang was gay when he acted feminine. They giggled and gossiped about the other men a little. Another thing, Peanut didn’t understand some of Hoang’s jokes.
“You should’ve seen your face! I’m joking!” said Hoang.
Peanut laughed, wryly. “I knew that!.”
Dieter joined them.
“Dieter, since you live in Toronto, how come we never met?” asked Hoang.
“I’m not sure. Toronto is a large city,” said Dieter. He said he moved there two years ago to start fresh. He went to prison in Germany for three years for robbing a bank. He needed the money to fund his lab. Unfortunately, the lab shut down while he was in prison. Peanut and Hoang were not surprised. They already knew because they found out online. They also looked up everyone else on the yacht online.
“I thought you didn’t seem like the criminal type,” said Hoang.
Dieter assured them that he’s not going to steal their money or do anything illegal. It’s not like he was crazy or dangerous or something. Peanut and Hoang agreed to keep it between them. They didn’t realize that XD91 was there.
“How long were you here?” asked Dieter.
“The part about robbing the bank,” said XD91. “What I heard does not leave this room. But, be careful with Sunny, she’s a blabbermouth and repeats things often.”
Meanwhile, outside of the lounge, Navarro used an antique telescope to look at the stars and the crescent moon.
“La luna se ve como un plátano,” said Navarro. “The night is young.”
“BRAACK! The night is young,” repeated Sunny.
Meanwhile, in the galaxy, inside a huge purple spaceship, a one-eyed greenish-bluish alien named Queen Valencia, in a purple robe, sat on her throne. She made a deal with a pirate captain, Fergus and his wife, Xenia to search for the rainbow treasure on the Valencio Island, even if it means getting rid of Navarro and his new team. Valencia wants to use its powers, not only to rule the galaxy, but the whole world. Fergus and Xenia wanted to sell the gemstones to Valencia for 10,000 golden coins. It was non-negotiable. Valencia succumbed to the price. In 1976, the treasure magically disappeared after a young, pre-ALS Navarro killed her father, King Valencio, the creator of the treasure. The island magically disappeared. The treasure returned when Valencia revived the island an hour earlier.
“Why can’t you find the treasure yourself?” asked Xenia.
“I’m the Queen, remember? I have a galaxy to rule. Besides, most Earthlings hate aliens,” said Valencia.
The deal was on. The Queen mentioned that she will create a robotic creature to help the pirates get rid of Navarro and the others. She sent them back to their pirate ship on the sea, but not before handing them the treasure map. Valencia headed to the control room, targeted Atlantic Ocean from the satellite maps, and pressed the rain button.
At midnight, torrential rain hit the water. Lightning and thunder followed the rain. El Viator was a little wobbly. In the captain’s cabin, Isabella tried to do the best she can to control the yacht. Navarro tried to help her. Unfortunately, the lightning struck Isabella. Sunny screamed loudly.
“NOOOOOOOOOO!” yelled Navarro. He was utterly shocked and distraught. He announced over the intercom that Isabella was dead. He demanded the passengers would either go to the salon or help him wrap up her dead body ASAP. Like horses, David, Colin, Tony, and Dieter ran to the captain’s cabin as fast as they can. Javier, Peanut, Hoang, and XD91 headed to the salon. In Isabella’s stateroom, David wheeled Navarro to the salon. Sunny followed them. The other men used the blankets from her bed to wrap up her body and buried her under her bed. Not a decent burial, but it was for the best for now. They headed to the salon quickly.
“What do we do now?” asked Hoang.
“We must stay here until the weather clears up. Rest assure, El Viator is on auto drive. If it’s damaged, we fix it. If it’s filled with water like a glass, we have to get on the rowboats,” replied Navarro. “If we have signal, we’ll call for help.”
Unfortunately, there were no signals on the passengers’ phones.
Don’t panic, girl, don’t panic. It’s just rain and thunder. The weather is not a monster. thought Peanut.
When the thunder hit, she plugged in her ears and rocked back and forth a little. XD91 wheeled around in frenzied panic. At the same time, two of the men tried to calm them down. Dieter tried to leave, but David and Colin prevented him.
“No, Dieter, stop, you heard the captain! We have to stay here until he says so!” snapped David.
“I’m going to check outside,” said Dieter.
“No, that’s too dangerous!” exclaimed Colin.
Tony looked out the window and gasped at the sight of a pirate ship behind the fog.
“Holy shit…Look out the window!” exclaimed Tony.
Everyone was stunned when they looked out the window. Javier secretly drank from his flask to calm down.
“Bloody hell,” said Colin.
“Ay, dios mios,” mumbled Navarro.
The pirate ship appeared out of the fog. A cannonball hit El Viator. It caused a hole at the bottom of the yacht.
“EVERYONE, HOLD ON TIGHT!” yelled David. He shielded Navarro.
Everyone else held onto the rest of the furniture, the lamps, the coffee table, the TV, and the DVD player. The plants fell from the coffee table. Unfortunately, El Viator capsized. Meanwhile, on the pirate ship, Fergus and Xenia studied the map which showed where the treasure was. They panicked when the wind blew the map out of Fergus’s hands.
“Forget the map, we’ll find a way,” said Xenia.
The next morning, El Viator was washed ashore on an island. It was slightly damaged at the bottom. Navarro, Sunny, XD91, and the passengers woke up on the sand. XD91’s battery was nearly low. He recharged himself with his outlet.
“Where are we? What time is it?” asked Peanut.
“Everyone all right? Everybody here?” asked David.
Everyone was fine and dandy. No injuries, no wounds, nothing. They gathered their backpacks and satchel bags that were washed ashore. Some of their electronics were broken. Much to the relief of the diabetics, they still had their medical supplies. Peanut also had a nursing kit to help the others. Tony and Javier found Navarro on the edge of the sea. They lifted him up and put him back in his wheelchair. Luckily for him, his equipment was unbreakable. Navarro was disappointed at the damage to his beloved yacht. More importantly, he was more concerned about the well-being of the others. Everyone assembled in a group.
“Where exactly are we?” asked Tony. “Looks like some sort of…island.”
“Ay, dios mios! I thought it was gone forever,” said Navarro. The island seemed familiar to him. It had palm trees and plain sand.
“BRAAACK! It’s back! It’s back! BRAAACK!” said Sunny.
“What do you mean?” asked Tony.
“This is Valencio Island,” said Navarro.
“Valencio Island? That can’t be,” said David. “It’s not on any map.”
“Perdón?” asked Navarro.
“I teach social studies. It’s one of my subjects,” said David.
“Then, you must know about it,” said Navarro. “And what a strange island it is.”
In 1976, before Navarro had ALS, he and Sunny were on a solo sailing trip on a sailboat, not a yacht, when a stormy wave brought him to Valencio Island. He found the magical rainbow treasure in a coconut and a magical sword called the Vanquisher. As soon as he read the treasure’s inscriptions, he flew to the galaxy. A mysterious, deep voice (he assumed it was another alien) told him to pick up the rocks from each planet of the solar system. Pluto existed back then. Unfortunately, when he returned to the island, the alien king, Valencio flew down from space and tried to kill Navarro because he wanted the treasure’s powers to rule the galaxy and the world. Navarro stabbed him in the heart with the Vanquisher. When it began to rain, the magic of the treasure and the planet rocks fixed his sailboat. Then, they vanished in thin air. So did the island and the sword. Sunny whisked him away and they sailed back to Spain. No one else knew the story because Navarro didn’t think anyone would believe him. They would think he was mad.
“How magical was the treasure and the planet rocks? Like good magic or bad magic?” asked Javier.
“There was no sorcery,” replied Navarro.
Dieter and Hoang were fascinated, especially by the term “aliens.”
“The treasure has returned,” said Navarro. “Their magic is going to fix the yacht. History is repeating.”
“Why not regular tools to fix El Viator?” asked David.
“None around here. Not strong enough either,” said Navarro. “There weren’t any tools around to fix my boat either.”
“Pardon me, Herr, this just occured to me. As a scientist, it is not possible to carry a rock from one planet to the other,” said Dieter. “Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are solid. They contain common minerals such as feldspars and metals like magnesium and aluminum. So was Pluto. The other planets are not solid. Jupiter is mostly made up helium, hydrogen, and water. The other planets are gaseous.” He said all of this was impossible in German.
“I thought so too many years ago. Whoever it was—the aliens or not—must have made each rock from the planet magical. Magical enough to survive from one planet to another,” said Navarro.
“With all due respect captain, Neil DeGrasse Tyson would disagree with you,” said Dieter.
On the other hand, Peanut spotted a dead sea turtle with a huge shell, washed up on the other side of the shore. She approached it. Everyone followed her.
“Don’t get too close. You can get exposed to toxic pathogens,” warned Colin. “And don’t feed it. It’ll bite you.”
There were also turtle eggs on the shore. Everyone was starving. Everyone except Peanut, Hoang, and Navarro lifted the turtle up and set it down on the middle of the sand. Hoang fixed the electronics quickly. To him, it was a piece of cake.
Tony and Javier found a few sticks to make fire. Sunny helped them with her fire breathing powers. While the turtle and the eggs was were heating up, the diabetics checked their blood sugar levels. They were in the normal range. As soon as the turtle food was ready, they did their insulin shots privately. Tony found a knife under the stand to cut the turtle. Everyone except XD91 had turtle food sans shell. Peanut fed Navarro only cooked turtle eggs via his feeding tube. XD91 ate one metal snack while recharging himself with an outlet. Afterwards, he made water bottles, caffeinated diet soda, and coffee for everyone. He gave Peanut a bottle of water to put in Navarro’s feeding tube. Javier (or Dieter) asked XD91 if he wanted the rest of the turtle food.
“Robots don’t eat food, đồ ngốc,” said Hoang.
Luckily, one of the men didn’t know what Hoang meant by the last part. He handed everyone’s electronics back. Tony was surprised when he received wifi on his iPhone. “Holy shit! You can get wifi here!”
“Braaack! Holy shit! Braaack!” said Sunny.
“Language, Martinez,” warned Navarro.
Tony apologized. “Sorry.”
After breakfast, Navarro said they have to stick together unless they have to split up for some reason. He warned them that danger awaits them. They explored the forest. David’s compass stopped working. XD91 repaired it with his mouth.
“I bet they are tall and green and they have weird shapes of bodies. Maybe they have powers,” said Dieter. He was speaking of the aliens.
“I wonder what planet they’re from,” asked Hoang. “None from the solar system.”
Dieter and Hoang prated on about aliens—-half in German and half in Vietnamese.
“I bet some of the aliens are horny,” said Dieter.
“Braack! Aliens are horny,” repeated Sunny.
“Ahhh!” yelped Peanut.
She jumped into Tony’s arms. She thought it was a snake, but it was only a stick. They laughed when they realized that. Tony lets her go. They move on as if nothing happened.
“I hate snakes,” said Peanut. “They creep me out. I’ve been afraid of them as long as I can remember.”
“Me too and spiders except Spider-Man,” said Tony.
Tony gasped when a tiny, black spider jumped on his shoulder. He swiped it away. Before diabetes, he was poisoned by a black widow spider as a child. Suddenly, everyone stopped walking when they heard stomping like a herd of elephants. That woke Navarro up.
“What the hell is that?” asked David.
A giant shadow creeped up behind them. The explorers turned around to find a huge black, robotic spider with red diamond shaped eyes that were crossed vertically. It looked extremely furious. Fergus and Xenia were on top of the spider controlling its movements.
Everyone was appalled. XD91 released a little oil in fear.
“Ay, díos míos!” exclaimed Tony. “I hate spiders! Except Spider-Man.”
Fergus and Xenia introduced themselves and said they were working for Queen Valencia.
Fergus said over the microphone, “Intruders, leave this island immediately or you die! Aarrrghh!” He and Xenia laughed evilly as they blasted at Navarro and the others, but they ducked. The passengers ran as fast as they can like rabbits. David wheeled Navarro. Sunny flew ahead of them. Because of Hoang’s little legs, he was falling behind. Tony stopped to pick Hoang up and kept up with the others with Hoang on his back. The pirates pursued for them. They blasted the plants and trees, nearly hitting Navarro and the others. Afar, Sunny used her feet to make them and herself invisible. They remained quiet. Fergus and Xenia searched around and shrugged.
“We’ll get ‘em, next time,” said Xenia.
“Next time, they won’t be so lucky,” said Fergus. “They will melt like butter. Arrgghh!”
They turned the spider around and moved on.
Sunny made the explorers and herself visible with her feet.
“What the bloody hell was that? Who were those pirates?” asked Colin. “Captain, they said they knew you. How?”
Navarro pressed his speaking button on his device.
“Well, uh…they stole El Viator a few times, but I managed to obtain it,” said Navarro. He pressed the Spanish speaking button. “La avaricia es una de las puertas del infierno.”
“What?” asked Colin.
Javier translated. “He said greediness is one of the gates of hell.”
“Let’s keep looking and watch our step, amigos,” said Navarro.
They walked further more searching for the treasure, but to no avail. They settled down and drank the water from a clean, little lake. Behind a tree, David and Javier change Navarro’s adult diaper. It was a little awkward for them, but not to Navarro. He was accustomed to that. Isabella has done this a dozen times. David cleaned Navarro’s hands with his wipes. He cleaned his own hands and loaned Javier some more wipes. While Navarro was waiting, Sunny and XD91 relieved themselves behind a bush. All of the passengers peed and defecated on opposite sides of the palm trees. Colin said he has done it a dozen times whenever he visited the wild. They cleaned their hands with Peanut’s disinfectant wipes. XD91 changed his oil.
Suddenly, a stone hit Dieter on the head.
“OWWWW!” yelled Dieter, rubbing his head. He cursed in German. He looked up. It was a bunch of wild, rambunctious monkeys. They ran and jumped around in trees. Tony and Javier cursed in Spanish when they got hit. The monkeys kept throwing stones at everyone. Dieter, Hoang, and Javier tried to throw the stones back at the monkeys, but Colin prevented them from doing so. He said provoking or killing the monkeys would worsen the situation. Sunny flew up to stop them, but she got hit. Tony caught her.
“Come on, little birdie,” said Tony. He wrapped her up with his camouflage vest. The monkeys threw more stones.
“EVERYONE, QUICK! BEHIND THE BUSHES!” yelled David. He, Navarro, Tony, and Peanut hid behind a bush that looked like a tower. The latter half hid behind bush’s identical twin. Navarro was concerned when Tony showed him the injured Sunny. Sunny moans and groans.
“Normally, I nurse people, not animals, but…what’s the difference? Give her to me,” said Peanut. Tony carefully handed the bird to Peanut.
“Now, don’t distract me. Let me concentrate,” said Peanut.
She tended to Sunny. Sunny was back to normal and flew again. Suddenly, it became quiet. The coast was clear. Everyone left their hiding places. They stopped on tracks when they discovered an injured monkey lying down in front of a tree. The monkey had a broken leg. Colin figured out the monkey was female due to her privates.
“Oh, you poor little monkey. What happened? Did the other monkeys hurt you?” said Colin. He sighed. “We can’t just leave you like that, girl.”
“Help her,” said Navarro.
Peanut handed Colin some bandages for the poor monkey. Colin bandaged her. “There, all better. By the way, what should we call her?” Everyone made suggestions.
“Jade will do,” said Navarro.
Jade was extremely pleased. And so, the jungle trek continued. Jade knocked on XD91 to hear beats.
“Please, do not do that. I am not a toy,” snapped XD91.
Above them, Fergus and Xenia were spying on them in a coconut tree. They already opened a few coconuts to find the gemstones, but to no avail. The robotic spider’s battery died. Xenia sighed exasperatedly.
“God! I am so f—–’ bored already! The spider’s dead. Those damn monkeys except one didn’t kill them when the Queen controlled their minds. And the treasure is not even in those coconuts.” She threw a coconut shell away in a fit of rage.
“Arrghh. Calm down, my dear,” said Fergus. “We will wait and see. We’ll find the treasure before they do. And after that…we’re stinkin’ RICH!” He kissed her on the cheek. She smiled a little. An idea popped in Xenia’s mind. “You know, I have an idea. Arrghh!”
Much to their relief, Navarro and the voyagers were out of the jungle. They stopped at a wide river. How will they get there? There was no bridge. Suddenly, three mermaids popped out of the river. The mermaids hypnotized the men except Hoang with their crooning singing. Peanut was infuriated when one of the mermaids flirted with Tony. Colin dropped Jade. Her casted leg didn’t break again.
Meanwhile, on the top of a palm tree, Fergus and Xenia watched the scenario with their telescopes.
“You sure this is working?” asked Fergus.
“Positive. Give it time,” said Xenia. “Why isn’t it working with the little Asian man?”
“He’s probably a homo,” said Fergus. “Magic determines one’s sexuality.”
Three mermen popped out of the river and did the same thing to Peanut and Hoang.
Sunny screamed. “BRAAACKKK! OH NO! OH NO! OH NO! NOT THEM TOO! IT”S VALENCIA!” Jade and XD91 panicked.
“No one, panic. You two snap them out of it!” commanded XD91. Sunny and Jade slapped each of the humans, but that didn’t work. XD91 suggested the animals scare the merpeople. Sunny attacked the mermaids with her powers. Jade found a few stones and at the edge and threw them at the mermen. The merpeople swam back in the river. XD91’s electric shock methods unhypnotized everyone.
“Wh-what happened?” asked David. “I had a dream about mermaids or something. And there was singing.”
“I had a dream about hot mermen singing,” said Hoang.
Sunny and XD91 explained about the merpeople’s hypnosis. Navarro was not surprised.
“That happened to me last time I was here,” said Navarro. “Except there were no mermen. I thank Sunny, Jade, and XD91 for breaking the spell.”
“We are flattered, captain,” said XD91.
Three pink elephants popped out of the river. Nobody could imagine swimming elephants. Peanut thought they were cute. She snapped a picture of the elephants with her phone. The amiable elephants nodded at them, signaling them to hop on their backs. David and Colin lifted Navarro out of his wheelchair and gently set him on the first elephant. Sunny magically flew Navarro’s equipment over the river while Jade, XD91, the captain, and the passengers rode on the elephants to the other side of the river. The elephants emerged out of the river and continued to move forward in the jungle. Riding the elephants delighted everyone.
Meanwhile, on the palm tree, Xenia was outraged.
“DAMN! SHIT! MOTHERF—–! We were so close!” said Xenia.
Fergus shushed her. “Calm down, my dear. No need to fret. This calls for drastic measures.”
“What do you mean?” asked Xenia.
“Something that we can do, something that the Queen cannot do,” said Fergus. “You stay here with the spider. I will return to the galaxy.”
Meanwhile, Navarro commanded the elephants to stop. He thought he and his team should continue the journey on their own. He thanked the elephants for the ride and they turned back. Navarro and the passengers found broccoli and tomatoes from a large vegetable plant. Sunny’s the only who had broccoli. XD91 ate some of his metal food and made more for the future. Javier and Hoang made selfies with XD91 and the animals. Colin caught the treasure map from the wind and studied it. “Hmmmmm.” It showed where each gemstone was located including the red one on a large tomato plant. When he looked at his half-eaten tomato on his hand, there was the red gemstone. “Holy shit!” He shoved the map in his jeans back pocket and pulled the gemstone out of the tomato. Curiously, he stared at it. Inscriptions appeared magically. He read them out loud, “El fuego es su elemento. Su naturaleza es caliente y seco.”
Suddenly, a flash of light took him to outer space. He landed on the planet, Mars. He put the gemstone in his pocket. A deep, unfamiliar voice ordered him to pick up a rock from Mars. He heard the voice, but he couldn’t see who it was. After he picked up a huge rock, a flash of light returned him to Earth.
“What the bloody hell happened?” asked Colin. He thought, This island is stranger than any other place I’ve visited. Something unusual is going on.”
“Colin! Where’ve you been? We’ve been looking for you! We thought you disappeared or something.”
He noticed Colin’s expression. He asked, “What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost. What are you carrying?”
“Sorry, I’ve gotta report this to Navarro,” said Colin.
Colin showed the gemstone, the Mars rock, and the treasure map to Navarro and everyone else. He explained what happened.
“What does the inscription mean in Spanish?” asked Colin.
“‘Fire is his element. His nature is hot and dry. He rules Aries, and he is in exaltation in Capricorn,’” translated Navarro. The captain told Collin to keep them safe. “This is what the pirates are after. Well, so far, we have the first one. Show me the map, please.” Colin put them away in his knapsack and showed Navarro the map.
He’s no Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Guion Bluford or those astronauts on Apollo 13. This is plain too weird. thought David.
Navarro and the group set off to find the orange tree near a huge bat rock. According to the map, it was a few miles away.
“Stop,” said Navarro.
“What’s wrong?” asked David.
“Nothing’s wrong. I need to speak with some of you privately. The rest of you go on. We’ll catch up,” said Navarro.
Navarro had Peanut, Hoang, Dieter, and the animals continue the path without them. On the other hand, because of their military backgrounds and Javier’s firefighting background, Navarro asked David, Colin, Javier, and Tony about their fighting skills and strategies. They would be useful against the spider or whatever will try to interfere in their quest. They will all pass the fighting skills onto Peanut, Hoang, and Dieter. Navarro ignored Tony’s sarcastic comment about the spider.
“Captain, don’t you think it’s too risky and dangerous for some of us to fight? I mean, some of us are diabetic and Tony only has one leg. No offense, Tony,” said David.
“None taken,” said Tony. He added, “He does a point, sir.”
“You don’t have to feel obligated to be in combat. Your choice: run or hide,” said Navarro.
“What about the sword? You mentioned a sword earlier?” asked Tony.
“If we can find it,” said Navarro.
Meanwhile, the other explorers stopped at an orange tree. Peanut’s stomach growled. Her blood sugar levels were stable. Jade climbed up the tree and threw a few oranges down. Dieter and Hoang peeled a few. Nothing. When Peanut peeled one, there was the orange gemstone. She gasped. “Hmmm.” She studied it.
“Does it say anything?” asked Hoang.
Inscriptions magically appeared. She read them out. “El aire es su elemento. Su naturaleza es caliente y húmedo. Él gobierna Sagitario y Piscis, junto con Neptuno, y él está en la exaltación en Cáncer.”
Suddenly, a flash of light took her to outer space. She landed on the planet, Jupiter. Peanut was appalled. The same mysterious voice ordered her to pick up a rock. She didn’t hear that. Autism compromised her hearing.
“Pick…up…a…rock,” said the voice slowly.
“But I don’t see any rocks around here! Jupiter’s liquified and gaseous!” said Peanut.
“On the edge,” said the mysterious voice.
She walked to the edge and picked up a tiny orange and white rock from the planet. Then, a flash of light returned her to the island. Navarro and the other men were present.
“Look who’s back from outer space,” said Dieter.
“Braack, outer space, outer space, braaack,” said Sunny.
Peanut showed everyone the gemstone and the rock.
“Can one of y’all translate this? My Spanish is a little rusty,” said Peanut. “It means something about air, hot, moist, and cancer, right?”
“Claro que si. Air is his element. His nature is hot and moist. He rules Sagittarius and Pisces, along with Neptune, and he is in exaltation in Cancer,” said Navarro. He told her to keep them safe.
The journey continued while they were eating lunch. Peanut, Hoang, and Dieter shared their oranges with the others. Jade found nonperishable bread and roast beef from a hole on the orange tree. David, Tony, and Peanut did their shots before eating the sandwiches. By the time lunch was finished, the voyagers stopped at a blue mountain. It looked more like a hill than a mountain.
“Dead end,” said Dieter.
“Not necessarily,” said Navarro. “This is Mount Valencio.”
David glanced at the map. “According to the map, the yellow, green, and blue gemstones are behind the mountain.”
“Are you sure?” asked Colin. David showed him the map.
Sunny magically flew Navarro’s wheelchair to the top while while the others climbed. XD91 wheeled on the mountain. Navarro was on Colin’s back. They sang Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Jade clapped a few times. Navarro was amused.
Listen, baby, ain’t no mountain high,
Ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough baby
If you need me call me, no matter where you are,
No matter how far
Don’t worry baby.
Just call my name; I’ll be there in a hurry.
You don’t have to worry. Oh baby, there…
ALL (including David, Colin, and Dieter):
Ain’t no mountain high enough.
Ain’t no valley low enough.
Ain’t no river wide enough.
To keep me from getting to you babe.
Remember the day I set you free.
I told you you could always count on me darling.
From that day on, I made a vow,
I’ll be there when you want me,
Some way, some how. Oh, baby, there…
Ain’t no mountain high enough.
Ain’t no valley low enough.
Ain’t no river wide enough.
To keep me from getting to you babe.
Oh, no, darling.
No wind, no rain.
Or winter’s cold can stop me baby, na na baby
‘Cause you are my goal
If you’re ever in trouble;
I’ll be there on the double
Just send for me, oh baby, ha
My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand,
I’ll be there on the double
Just as fast as I can
Don’t you know that there
Ain’t no mountain high enough,
Ain’t no valley low enough,
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe
They made it to the top. David pulled out a sword from a hole called Vanquisher. Navarro confirmed that this was the exact sword. David carried the sword. They slid down the mountain, but not before Navarro went first.
Suddenly, a volcano erupted, spitting out lava. Everyone ran and crossed the rope bridge to an red half-house. Hoang tripped on the middle of the bridge. Peanut stopped to carry him and caught up with the others. Just as the lava drew near to their feet, Navarro commanded that someone use the Vanquisher to freeze the lava. David obliged. The bridge was dismantled. Navarro praised his actions and said that the sword does more than just freezing stuff and killing evil people.
David studied the map. The yellow and green gemstones were in a banana and lime tree that was standing next to the half-house. and the blue gemstone was in a blueberry bush. Javier was standing next to the bush. He said that it was impossible for a tree to grow both fruits.
“Anything is impossible on Valencio,” said Navarro.
Jade climbed on the tree and threw down a few bananas and limes. The passengers caught them. Hoang peeled his banana. There was the yellow gemstone. Hoang studied it. Inscriptions magically appeared. He struggled to read the Spanish, mispronouncing some of the words. The inscriptions said:
Tony found the green gemstone when he peeled the lime and read out loud the inscriptions: “El fuego es su elemento. Su naturaleza es seco. Él gobierna Aquarius y se encuentra en la exaltación en Escorpio.”
David and XD91 searched for the blue gemstone in a blueberry bush. He found it lying on the ground under the bush. He read out loud the words, “El agua es su elemento. Su naturaleza es húmedo. Se rige Piscis y él está en la exaltación en Cáncer.” A flash of light took Hoang to the planet, Venus; Tony to Uranus, and David to Neptune. Subsequently, the exact same mysterious voice commanded them to pick up rocks. Hoang picked up a yellow one on Venus. The wind flew him to Saturn. He picked up another yellow rock. Tony picked up a greenish-bluish rock on Uranus and David picked up a blue one on Neptune.
Simultaneously, a flash of light brought all three men back to Earth. Tony translated all gemstones in English. “The yellow one says: Air is her element. Her nature is moist. She rules Taurus and Libra, and she is in exaltation in Pisces. Earth is his element. His nature is cold and dry. He rules Capricorn and Aquarius (along with Uranus), and he is in his exaltation in Libra.’ The green one says: ‘Fire is his element. His nature is dry. He rules Aquarius and he is in exaltation in Scorpio.’ And the blue one means: ‘Water is his element. His nature is humid. He rules Pisces and he is in exaltation in Cancer.’”
The three men showed Navarro the gemstones and the rocks. Navarro advised them to keep them safe. Hoang question of why he was taken two planets. Navarro guessed that it was probably the color, yellow.
Inside the half-house, Navarro taught all the passengers how to fight with the sword and use its powers responsibly.
Later, Javier and the military veterans taught the latter half some useful survival skills.
“Learn something new every day,” said Navarro.
Some of the passengers messed up.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again,” said XD91.
In the middle of the rigorous training, Peanut was so bored that she wandered off. No one even noticed she disappeared except Tony and Jade who followed her. She drew random pictures on her notepad.
“Whatcha drawing?” asked Tony.
She was so wrapped up in her own world that she didn’t respond. Tony repeated his question. Peanut was startled. “Nothing, just random drawings. Sometimes, I do that when I’m bored. Are y’all following me?” Tony glanced at Jade. “We’re no stalkers or spies, but yeah, we’re following you.” Peanut was a little wobbly and ate a granola bar rapidly.
Concerned, Tony asked, “You okay? You seemed a little wobbly.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” said Peanut. “I can handle myself.”
“It’s ok to ask for help, sometimes. Everyone does that,” said Tony.
Peanut had Tony and Jade listen to a song on her iPod, but it was passing gas noises. They laughed like hyenas. Tony, Peanut, and Jade swung at the vine ropes. Tony and Peanut were close to kissing. Peanut and Jade fell into the quicksand. Tony swung off the vine ropes and grabbed a long stick. He pulled them out. By the time they were out of the quicksand, Peanut and Jade were a little dirty. Tony threw the stick away. Peanut threw her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.
“Thank god for you, Tony! You saved us! We nearly drowned!” exclaimed Peanut.
Tony blushed. “You’re welcome.” Peanut released him.
Jade could tell that there was a spark between them. She persuaded them to kiss by making smooching noises with her hands.
“Not helping,” said Tony sarcastically.
Jade turned around. Tony and Peanut chuckled. They were about to kiss, but Navarro showed up. He demanded of their whereabouts and what happened. Everybody was searching for them. Peanut took the blame for everything.
“We will discuss the punishment later. Right now, Nurse Dalton, you and Jade need to be cleaned up,” commanded Navarro. “That’s an order.”
At the little lake near the half-house, Dieter gave Jade a bath while Peanut cleaned herself up quickly. Afterwards, she and Tony were lectured by Navarro on the dangers of wandering off, especially when they’re on Valencio. He was glad about the rescue when they explained the quicksand incident. Again, they apologized for wandering off.
“Apology accepted. However, we will put this behind after us after the punishment,” said Navarro.
“What?” asked Tony, bewildered.
“Colin, let’s get on with it.”
“Get on with what?” asked Peanut.
Colin sat on a tree stump. “Ladies, first.” He patted his knee and crooked his finger.
Peanut walked closer to him. He pulled her over his knees. Tony wanted to leave, but Navarro insisted that he stay and watch. He left to check on Sunny and the others.
Peanut thought, No way! He’s not gonna—
“I’m sorry,” said Colin. “It’s the captain’s idea, not mine.” He spanked her rear end, lecturing her on how unacceptable her behavior was. She sobbed loudly. She felt awkward and humiliated due to Tony’s presence. Tony felt sorry for her. Colin stopped after the twentieth smack. He lifted her up, calmed her down, and dried her tears with a tissue. “Blow.” She blew her nose loudly. He told her to wait by the bamboo tree while he deals with Tony. Peanut obliged.
Colin crooked his finger at Tony. “Come over here.” Tony walked closer to him at a snail’s pace. Peanut watched Colin spanking Tony and lecturing him about his behavior. She felt sorry for him. Tony cried a little. After the twentieth smack, Colin lifted Tony up, calmed him down, and beckoned Peanut over. She approached him. She and Tony apologized profusely for their previous behaviors.
“It’s water under the bridge,” said Colin. “Luckily, nobody got hurt. Tony, I applaud for your bravery. Next time, be careful, ok? If this happens again, I’ll spank you two on my own terms. Or there’ll be a lecture time with David or the captain.”
Tony and Peanut nodded in agreement as one. Peanut made a mental note of not to obsess or overanalyze this. Beforehand, Navarro asked David first to be the disciplinarian, but he declined. David didn’t believe in corporal punishment for personal reasons, so Navarro picked Colin instead. He was a believer in corporal punishment.
Meanwhile, on the Queen’s spaceship, Valencia called off the pirates’ mission in order to move forward with the treasure plan quickly in another away. She rewarded Fergus and Xenia the money they were promised for their effort. Valencia ordered the Queen’s pet, Zelroth, a red and black snake with glowing, vicious yellow eyes, to kill Navarro and his team in order to obtain the treasure.
“Yesssss, your majesty,” said the snake.
During sunset, everyone except Jade bathed and cleaned their clothes at a little lake near the half house. They smelled like skunks earlier. Jade helped Sunny bathe. XD91 automatically cleaned himself which impressed Peanut. Colin, Javier, Peanut, Jade, and XD91 screamed at the sight of roaring greenish-purple aliens. Tony, Dieter, and Hoang took their masks off. Sunny made the costumes disappear magically. The pranksters were in their clothes. Furiously, Peanut hit their upper shoulders. She yelled, “YOU IDIOTS! Y’ALL ALMOST GAVE ME A HEART ATTACK!”
“We’re sorry, we were only kidding around,” apologized Tony.
“Although, that was a good one,” said Peanut. She giggled. She calmed down a frightened Jade.
“I agree,” said Javier, laughing.
“I disagree,” said Colin. “On account of you three foul gits, I could’ve died of a heart attack! You’ve earned a trip to my knee!”
“Lighten up, Colin, where is your sense of humor?” asked Dieter. “We were just having fun!”
David popped in, half-dressed, concerned. “What’s going on? What was all the screaming?”
“Those idiots here scared us half to death in those bloody magical alien costumes,” said Colin.
“It was a joke,” said Hoang. “His idea.” He pointed at Dieter.
“No, I believe it was his idea,” said Dieter pointing at Hoang.
“I just went along with this,” said Tony, shrugging.
David shook his head. “Quit screwing around. The captain wants some of us to build a fire. We found wood and more food. And Colin, let it slide. I don’t think spanking them is necessary.”
Sunny helped some of the men make fire with the wood that Navarro found. The captain also found more roast beef, bread, and eggs for the humans and guavas for the animals. The roast beef and bread were found in a tree hole and the eggs were in a bird’s nest. Tony cooked the roast beef and eggs. XD91 decided to make himself more metal food. Dinner began as soon as the food was ready.
David, Tony, and Peanut were running low on their diabetic supplies. They thought about reusing some of the needles or skipping a few shots without endangering their health. Behind them, XD91 accidentally trips over a small rock which causes his head to be unattached from his body. Jade picked the head up, tossed it up like ball, and ran around with it for fun. XD91’s body chased her around in circles.
“Put me down! Put me down! PUT ME DOWN! I’m not a toy!” shouted XD91.
Jade ignored him and laughed, tauntingly. Sunny watched the chase from the roof, laughing like a hyena. Navarro commanded Jade to put XD91’s head back on the robot improperly. The head was still a little loose. Hoang attached the head back to the body properly and tightly.
Out of curiosity, David asked the captain of where Sunny and XD91 came from. Back in the ‘70s, before he stumbled upon the Valencio Island, Navarro found Sunny in the Amazon. Sunny was born to be immortal with powers. As for XD91, after the captain’s ALS diagnosis, he built the robot to save money from hiring people except Isabella. Jade played with a stick. Suddenly, Navarro had an idea. He suggested that the passengers take a turn passing the stick around to open up about their lives. He wanted to more about them without being pushy. First, Peanut opened up about her hardships of being both autistic and diabetic.
“Right now, I feel like I’ve known y’all already,” said Peanut. “Friendships are hard for me to maintain.”
She passed it to Hoang who spoke about being discriminated against for his stature and his homosexuality. “I learned a long time ago not to let anything get to me and move forward.”
He passed it to David who spoke about the hardships being diabetic, searching for a qualified, paying substitute teaching job, being racially discriminated against, and his ex-wife left him for his ex-best friend. He passed it to Tony who opened up about his past—-how he lost his leg and the hardships of being diabetic. He passed it to Colin who didn’t have much to say except his divorce. He passed it to Javier who opened up about his alcoholism. He drank heavily a few years ago due to job stress and his ex-fiancée dumping him. Lastly, Dieter mentioned his checkered past.
“The past does not define you. You must live in the present. Life is about moving forward, not going backward. Everybody has struggles. That’s the way things are. That’s part of life. You can’t let them interfere your happiness. Life is map or a compass. You navigate through it. Unwise choices are like the wrong directions. They lead to consequences. The world is not perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect life,” said Navarro. “Today, we are halfway through of finding the treasure. But this mission is more than just finding the treasure. There is pride, justice, and courage.”
Peanut figured that he was being metaphorical. A moment of silence. All smiles with pats on the backs or shoulders. Wanting to fill the silence, Navarro played the O’Jays ‘Love Train’ on his Xpress device. Everyone sang and danced and took selfies with their phones. Peanut walked a few steps away from them to be in her space bubble. She heard Navarro switching to Spanish music. Peanut sat down staring at the moon. She drew a picture of the island. Colin came up behind Peanut. He tapped her on the shoulder.
“Oh! You scared me!” said Peanut.
“Sorry,” apologized Colin.
“Lovely night, isn’t it?” asked Colin.
“Mmmmmhmmm,” said Peanut.
Colin made some flirty comments to Peanut. She doesn’t realize that he was hitting on her. Unaware to them, Tony was watching them like a hawk. A little bit of jealousy ate him up. Javier snuck up behind Tony and saw the look on his face.
“I can see that,” whispered Javier.
“What?” whispered Tony.
“You like her, don’t you? She’s supposed to be with you, not him, no?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, hombre.”
Javier shook his head. “Yeah, right. Go for her, hombre. Cupid just shot an arrow at you.”
He went to rejoin the others at the campfire.
Inevitably, Colin tried to kiss Peanut, but she rejected him.
“Look, I’m sorry, but I’m not into you,” said Peanut. “The spanking has nothing to do with it. I see you as a friend. Besides, we’re too different and you’re a little…um…not that I’m an ageist—”
Colin put his hand up. “You don’t have to explain. I understand.” His eyes rolled over to Tony who hid away. He focused back on Peanut. “We never would’ve worked out anyway. No future. What with the age difference and the long-distance. I travel all the time. You deserve a better bloke like um….maybe Tony.”
Colin left and patted Peanut on the back, Tony approached Peanut, nonchalantly.
“Were you listening or watching that?” asked Peanut.
“No!…Not exactly,” stuttered Tony.
Tony and Peanut watched the moon and discussed about the mission and what would happen afterwards.
“When we get outta here, maybe we can visit each other or do Facetime,” suggested Peanut.
“I’d like that,” said Tony.
They gazed into each other’s eyes. Tony gently touched Peanut’s chin.
“Long-distance relationships end, but I don’t care,” said Peanut.
They kissed on the lips passionately.
In front of the half-house, out of curiosity, Dieter and Hoang searched for Queen Valencia’s spaceship in the sky with their binoculars. They wanted to meet her in person and ask her about her motives. Annoyed, Javier shook his head. There was a shooting star.
“Did you see that?” asked Hoang.
“Think it was Valencia?” said Dieter.
“That was a shooting star,” corrected Javier.
“If we are lucky, she will come,” said Dieter.
“I like to learn more about alien life,” said Hoang. “Not when aliens do terrible things.” He turned to Dieter. “Dieter, do you think the aliens will like me?”
“Ja, I think so. What about me?” said Dieter.
“Probably,” said Hoang.
All that alien talk was getting unbearable to Javier. He left their sight, shaking his head and muttering in Spanish to himself. He took off his shirt to air his tattoos.
David sat on a whoopee cushion on the ground. Sunny, Hoang, and Dieter laughed like hyenas.
“Ahhh, you guys got me,” said David sheepishly.
“It was for anyone, not just you,” said Hoang.
The campfire went out as soon as everyone except Sunny and Navarro fell asleep on the hay and leaves. David, Tony, and Peanut did their lantus shots before hitting the hay. Dieter passed gas for real loudly. Some of the passengers scooched away from him. Peanut dreamt about her and Tony dancing and flying on the nightly sky peacefully. They were truly and utterly happy. They kissed passionately.
Back to reality, a short distance away from the half-house, Navarro gazed at the moon, praying silently. The Vanquisher was on his lap. Sunny exercised her wings. When he heard a hissing, he turned around, and gasped at the presence of the snake.
“Stay back, stay back,” said Navarro. He also said it in Spanish. He used the sword’s powers to kill Zelforth, but he missed the snake. Zelroth leapt up and bit him in the chest. His wheelchair fell on the ground. Sunny screamed loudly as a whale. She furiously attacked the snake giving him a mark. The snake magically disappeared. A concerned Peanut appeared, yawning.
“Sunny, what’s going on? What’s all the commotion?” she asked. She was horrified when she saw Navarro. Peanut ran back to get her nursing kit. When she returned, she kneeled down and proceeded to do the proper medical procedures. Sunny explained about the snake.
Navarro was so pale, white as a ghost. His eyes closed slowly. Peanut stopped what she was doing. Tears filled her eyes. “Captain, no, no, no, no, no! Please, no! Por favor! Wake up! Wake up!” Tears fell down her face like waterfalls as she tired to revive him. “DAMN IT!”
The next morning, Capt. Navarro was buried under the ground inside the half-house. David addressed the group.
“Capt. Navarro was a prodigious and courageous man. He was a wise mentor and a fierce friend. No one took him as a coward. It was very tragic of him to leave the face of the Earth unexpectedly. Juan Carlos Navarro will always be terribly missed. He would want us to finish the mission.”
The passengers moved forward, entering another jungle. To deal with the grief, Javier secretly drank half of the flask. Jade pilfered it from his hand and drank the rest.
Peanut stopped on her tracks. “You know what? F— this! I’m leaving!”
Dieter and Hoang followed her.
“Where are you guys going?” asked David, chasing after them. “What about the treasure?”
“Forget the treasure! Navarro’s dead!” said Peanut. “Every time, we find a gemstone, we end up on a planet and retrieve a rock. Poof! We come back here! Sometimes, we get nearly killed or hypnotized by Queen Valencia’s mind-controlled creatures and volcano and all! I can’t take anymore chances! I’m sick and tired of this bull—-!”
“I agree! I’m not taking any more risks either! You can stick to the mission if you want, but it’s over, for us,” said Hoang.
“But we’re making progress!” said Colin. “How are you gonna get home? Without the treasures’ powers to fix the yacht, we can’t go home! You’re all just upset because Navarro died.”
Javier and Jade swung around the tree singing “Hallelujah” in both English and Spanish. That annoyed David.
“For God’s sake, somebody help those inebriates!” snapped David.
Colin and XD91 helped the inebriates settle down.
“Let Queen Valencia and the pirates find the purple gemstones. Let them have the treasure!” said Dieter, sarcastically. “Let the alien murderess take over the world!”
Peanut, Hoang, and Dieter took off hastily. Uncertain of who to go with, Sunny followed them.
“Fine, go ahead! We’ll finish this mission without you,” said David.
“I’ll go find them and talk to them,” said Tony, going after Peanut and the boys.
Peanut, Hoang, Dieter, and Sunny hiked in the jungle with no idea where to go.
“I assume that y’all lost your weird interest in aliens?” asked Peanut.
“Not any alien who sent a snake to kill our friend,” said Hoang.
“It was a weird fetish, anyway,” said Dieter. “No offense, Hoang.”
Hoang wasn’t offended at all.
“Braaack! Weird fetish, weird fetish, braaaack!” repeated Sunny. The humans ignored her.
Twenty minutes later, Tony found Peanut sitting on a rock in front a cave. She was fiddling with the sword while internet surfing on her phone.
“You on a break?” asked Tony, sarcastically.
Peanut was startled. “Basically, yeah. I needed to be in my space bubble.”
“Where are Sunny and the boys?” asked Tony.
“They’re doing yoga behind the bat-shaped bushes,” said Peanut. “I think Sunny said she was also gonna exercise her wings later.”
“Have you figured out how to get off this island yet?” asked Tony.
Peanut shook her head. “We got lost on the way back to the beach where we came from. This is a huge island.”
Tony kneeled down and grabbed Peanut by the shoulders. “Peanut, listen to me, this is useless. It’s hopeless. We have no choice. Nothing else is gonna help you get off this island. You can’t give up on the mission. You can’t give up hope!” said Tony. “What would Navarro say if he saw you giving up?”
Peanut processed all that. “He would’ve want me to be persevered.” The next thing, Tony and Peanut confessed their romantic feelings to each other. They leaned toward the kiss and end up having sex in the cave.
Meanwhile, as soon as Javier and Jade sobered up, they received a firm lecture from David about their reckless drinking and short spankings from Colin. Javier apologized and promised not to drink again and return to rehab when he returns home. He felt guilty when recalled his promise with Navarro, but that guilt was washed away. He glanced at his tattoo. The incident was swept under the rug. They continued the mission.
According to the map, the indigo gemstone should be in the onion plant. Javier picked out an onion that was already cut in half out of an onion plant. Inside was the indigo gemstone. He read out loud the inscriptions: “‘La tierra es su elemento. Su naturaleza es fría y seca . Él gobierna Virgo y Géminis, y él está en la exaltación en Virgo también.’” It meant that Earth is his element. His nature is cold and dry. He rules Virgo and Gemini, and he is in exaltation in Virgo also.
In the meantime, after yoga, Dieter found a grapevine. He saved some grapes for his friends and gobbled up some for himself. He felt something crunchy inside his mouth. He spit it out. The crunchy items turned out to be the purple gemstone. Dieter had trouble reading the inscriptions in Spanish, mispronouncing some of the words.
Simultaneously, the flash of light brought both Javier and Dieter to the galaxy. Javier was quite overwhelmed when he landed on Mercury. The wind swirled Dieter around the planets.
“WHOAAA! Das ist so cool!” exclaimed Dieter.
Back on Valencio, David collapsed due to hypoglycemia caused by all that hiking. Colin lifted his head up and mopped his sweaty head with a cleaning cloth. XD91 quickly made orange juice. Colin grabbed it and gave the drink to David who quickly drank it up.
Meanwhile, Javier and Dieter were brought back to Earth after they were ordered to pick up the gray rocks from Mercury and one of the Pluto’s moons. Tony translated Dieter’s gemstone. “It means: “Element is undefined. His nature is burning, similar to molten lava. He rules Scorpio and he is in exaltation in Pisces.” Hoang quietly assumed that Tony and Peanut had sex because they were half-dressed.
“So, what do we do now?” asked Dieter.
“Let’s look for David and Colin and the others. Maybe they found the indigo gemstone by now before the pirates did,” said Peanut. “If you’re still in, I’m still in.”
Hoang noticed that Sunny was missing. “Where’s Sunny?”
“Oh, great, we lost that copycat parrot!” said Tony, sarcastically.
“Probably exercising her wings in the sky or jumping on the clouds,” said Dieter.
On the other hand, David, Colin, Javier, XD91, and Jade were back at the beach where they came from. Jade was excited as a dog when she saw a bunch of bananas on a mat. She went for them! She didn’t notice that the pirate ship and the wrecked El Viator were on the shore.
“No, Jade, no! It’s a trap!” said David. “Don’t go bananas!”
“Jade, stop! Stop!” said Colin.
Jade ignored them. The next thing they knew, a huge cage fell from the sky. They were trapped like mice.
“Nice going, Jade, you think with your stomach,” said Colin, sarcastically.
They heard evil, familiar pirate laughter in the air, but the pirates were nowhere to be seen.
“Javier, XD, go find the others! Get help!” shouted David.
Javier and XD91 turned and ran into Sunny who finished exercising and playing in the sky. As soon as they explained the capture, Sunny helped them look for Tony and the others. Ten minutes later, they bumped into Tony and the others. When Javier and XD91 explained the capture, Dieter and Hoang panicked.
“It’s over! Pretty soon, the pirates are going to force them to surrender the treasure!” said Hoang.
“If that happens, we will be defeated! Valencia’s going to take over the world!” said Dieter.
“Hold on a sec, I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. Dieter, you still have the purple gemstone, so Valencia’s not gonna take over the world without the last gemstone,” said Peanut.
“That makes sense,” said Dieter.
“Come on, y’all, we are not giving up without a fight! We can still win this! Valencia and the pirates are no threat to us! Running away from our fears is never the answer. David, Colin, and Jade are our friends and they need our help. We must be stronger than our enemies,” said Peanut. “Who’s with me?”
Everyone wholly agreed with her.
“Ok, let’s come up with a plan,” said Tony.
Everyone gathered in a circle. And so the battle plan began.
In the study room on the pirates’ ship, David and Colin were tied on chairs with rope. Jade was extremely upset that she was trapped in a small cage. Fergus showed them family pictures to prove that Navarro was his uncle from his late mother’s side.
“No! I don’t believe this! Captain Navarro was a pirate?!” exclaimed David.
“You better believe it,” said Fergus.
Navarro lied about his past because he was ashamed of himself for piracy.
“What a loving idiot,” said Fergus.
“Hey, your uncle was not an idiot! He was a courageous man! A hero! A wise mentor. You’re a f—–’ greedy, manipulative, son of b—-!” said David. “That goes to your wife and the alien queen as well.”
Fergus was furious at the insults.
“You won’t get always with this!” exclaimed Colin.
“Technically, I’m halfway through,” said Fergus. He shut the door.
Meanwhile, Javier, Tony, Peanut, Hoang, and Dieter climbed on the pirates’ ship’s metal ladder and hid behind a stack of barrels on the deck. Sunny magically flew XD91 with her star powers quietly and hid behind the same barrels. Fergus’s and Xenia’s backs were turned. Obviously, she enjoyed his arm kisses. When the coast was clear, Dieter, Hoang, Sunny, and XD91 surprised the pirates with their presence.
On the deck, Dieter said, “Why can’t an 11-year-old go see a pirate movie?”
“Why?” asked Fergus.
“It’s rated ARRRRGGGHHH!” The pirates laughed like hyenas. Then, Dieter, Hoang, Sunny, and XD91 put on a weird show to “Baby Got Back.”
While the pirates were being distracted, Peanut found keys on the floor. She assumed they were for a cage or something. She, Javier, and Tony rescued David, Colin, and Jade in the study. Javier showed them the purple gemstone that Dieter found and the grey rock that Dieter picked up from one of Pluto’s moons. Tony retrieved the rest of the treasure inside the globe. While sneaking out, Colin accidentally knocked down a barrel. Unfortunately, they were busted.
A physical fight between Fergus, Xenia, the pirates, and Viator’s crew ensued. Jade and the humans took turns using the Vanquisher’s magical powers including fire and ice against the pirates’ swords. Peanut and Xenia fought physically. Zelforth appeared magically on the deck and two sharks appeared magically on the water. They were mind-controlled by Valencia. Sunny dealt with Zelforth while Dieter, Hoang, and XD91 take care of the sharks. XD91 killed one shark with his laser vision powers while Dieter and Hoang kill the other shark with a cannon and its balls. Fergus cut Tony on the upper arm with his sword. He was about to kill Tony, but Javier blocked him. Peanut pushed Xenia off the ship and used the Vanquisher to chop the snake in half. Unfortunately, the snake was still alive, sort of. Sunny froze Zelforth to death and burned the ice with her fire powers. Zelforth melted like ice cream. David, Colin, Javier, and Tony threw Fergus overboard. They drowned, unable to swim.
Concurrently, in the galaxy, the voice belonged to the spirit of Valencia’s paternal grandmother. She made Valencia realize that her revenge over her father’s death wasn’t worth it. There was no good coming out of it. The treasure was meant to be with Navarro and the others, not Valencia. When Valencia saw the fight on her TV screen, she felt guilty for what she had done. She let vendetta consume her.
After Fergus and Xenia drowned, everyone cheered, high-fived, and shouted, “GOOOOAALLLL!” Unexpectedly, Valencia landed her spaceship on the pirates’ ship. When Valencia met with the passengers of El Viator, she apologized for all the trouble she caused and rewarded them with the treasure. She renamed the island “Navarro” in honor of the late captain. She will use her magic to make sure the island does not disappear again. Everyone forgave the alien queen. Valencia magically brought amiable monkey, parrot, and elephant families on the island. Sunny was amazed that the other parrots had the same powers as she did. Valencia bid farewell and returned to the galaxy.
The animals offered Sunny and Jade their home. Sunny and Jade were uncertain of their choice. Either live on Navarro Island or go to the mainland with their human and robot friends.
“Sunny, Jade, whatever your decide, you have our support,” said David.
“Braaack. You know, I’ve been the captain’s pet for so long. Since he passed, it’s time to go back to my natural habitat. Spread my wings! Braack!” said Sunny. She said to Jade, “And you’re better off in the wild too, Jade. The mainland is no place for a pet monkey. Zoos don’t count. Braack.” Jade nodded in agreement.
“Braack, I’ll miss you all, braack!” said Sunny.
She and Jade bid farewell with XD91 and the humans with hugs. Jade nearly cried. She and Sunny disembarked from the pirates’ ship. Colin said that Sunny and Jade were better off in the wild, their natural habitat, than the human world.
When it began to rain, not under Valencia’s control, the gemstones and the rocks magically formed a diamond. Its powers fixed El Viator. Everyone was astounded, witnessing all this. When the rain ended, the diamond created a rainbow. Navarro’s spirit visited the passengers. He smiled, told them how proud he was of them, and disappeared in thin air. Everyone disembarked from the pirate ship and returned to El Viator.
David and Colin set the yacht to sail under autopilot and put the Vanquisher in Navarro’s cabin. They threw Isabella’s dead body in the water. Craving for a drink, Javier went to the kitchen to open a champagne bottle and put it away. It was not worth drinking it. Dieter and XD91 accepted Hoang’s offer to be his new roommates in Toronto. Dieter recalled that he was evicted due to late payments in rent.
Tony and Peanut held hands, walking at the same deck where he saved her life the other day.
“I know it’s only been a couple of days, but I’ll miss you,” said Tony.
“I’ll miss you too,” said Peanut. “I don’t believe in long-distance relationships, but…I don’t care. I love you!”
She flung her arms around him.
“I love you too, cariño. We’ll figure things out,” said Tony.
They kissed passionately for ten seconds and had sex in her cabin.
Later, David and Colin summoned everyone for dinner. Tony’s services were not needed in the kitchen. The automatic kitchen machines made salads, roast beef and tomato sandwiches, onion soup, fruit platters that consisted of the island’s fruit, and low-sugar, Spanish custard ice cream.
On the other hand, Navarro’s past baffled Javier, XD91, and the others, but they understood why he lied about it.
David asked XD91 to make champagne for everyone except Javier. Javier will have non-alcoholic champagne. Only David, Tony, and Peanut can drink champagne combined with sprite zero. XD91 obliged. He ate some metal food. David stood up and clinked his glass with a fork to get attention. Everyone stopped chatting and eating.
“Now, that I have your undivided attention, the ending of our story…mission accomplished! You know what I realized? I realized that this adventure wasn’t just about searching for the magical rainbow treasure, collecting those rocks from the planets, or fighting against the pirates and creatures. It’s about an adventure between friends who worked together as a team,” said David. “And looking out for each other and finding ourselves. We may have reached the finish line, but this friendship is not gone forever. So, I propose a toast to Capt. Navarro, our friendship, and the accomplished mission that began as a vacation.”
“Hear, hear!” said Colin.
Everyone clinked their glasses of champagne and drank up. Javier was the only one who drank non-alcoholic champagne. The diabetics had their champagne combined with sprite zero. Even XD91 can drink champagne. Tony and Peanut pecked on the lips.
“Wait a minute! What about the yacht? What should we do with it when we return home?” asked Colin.
“We can donate it to charity under the names of Navarro and his caretaker,” suggested Javier.
“Along with the Vanquisher,” suggested Tony.
“Another thing, we can never tell anyone about this. They’ll think we’re crazy. Nobody would believe us,” said David. “We’ll tell them that we were in the Canary Islands.”
Everyone was on the same page. They all started a group hug saying how much they’ll miss each other and promised to keep in touch via phone calls, texting, email, or social media. They might cross paths again someday. They broke up the hug. After dinner, they went outside to watch the sunset. Peanut planned to paint a portrait of everyone including herself later.
“We’re homeward bound,” said David.
This adventure was their destiny.
Pictures related to Valencio are on my Facebook author page, K.R. Murphy.
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