#11 Barging into Battle
Satnav Steven

Ahoy there, story-seekers! It’s me again, Satnav Steven, reporting from the observation deck of the Prattleship-class Narrative Ark, the Ever After.

What would you know?!? Just after I was put on deck-mopping duty as punishment for accidentally turning the ship and all our crew into cartoons, we’ve had another close shave, and… THIS TIME IT WASN’T MY FAULT!!

Haha! That’ll show Captain Jones that it’s not only me who occasionally muddles up our destinations.

I’ll explain…

As you may or may not know, the Ever After is fast approaching the end of her BRILLIANT story-seeking voyage and In-The-Know-Joe felt certain we needed to land the ship and do some last minute maintenance before setting off on the long journey home across the Story Universe.

Everyone agreed we could do with a bit of a break and a spot of lunch, so Captain Jones guided the vessel down on a seemingly never-ending grassland we’d been crossing for ages at the edge of vast city.

In no time, everyone was taking it easy and tinkering about in the sunshine with a few jobs that needed seeing to. Cook Conomos lit a fire to barbecue some food, In-The-Know-Joe repaired one of the narrative thrusts, Lookout Kate went to explore a stream a little way off, and the Captain sat down for a snooze in her favourite deckchair. Sounds perfect, right?

WRONG!!

Just when things looked like they couldn’t be calmer, distant horns suddenly sounded and clouds of arrows filled the sky, slamming into the side of the Ever After.

‘We’re under attack!’ Captain Jones shouted, practically flying out of her chair.   ‘All crew, take cover!’

The Captain grabbed me by the arm and yanked me up the gangplank to the observation deck.

‘Where are we?’ she whispered. ‘Where have I landed us?’

I jumped to the navigational controls, found our coordinates and gasped. In her dozy state, Captain Jones hand set the ship down in the Fields of Epic Battle, and in case you hadn’t already guessed… THAT’S NOT A SAFE PLACE TO BE!

Lookout Kate, Cook Conomos and In-The-Know-Joe were soon onboard and huddled on the observation deck with us as another storm of arrows hit the side of the ship. We all stared through the round window, gawping with wide eyes as two ferocious armies clashed in front of us. One army was led by a lion, and the other was commanded by a tall and terribly pale woman dressed in white and silver. She kept pointing her wand at rival soldiers and turning them into… were my eyes playing tricks on me?? SHE WAS TURNING THEM TO STONE!

‘We have to get out of here,’ Captain Jones said, and fired up the engines. It wasn’t a moment too soon. The White Witch spotted the Ever After in all the commotion and started casting her spells at us.

“ZAP!” One of the yarn spinners turned to stone.

“ZING!’ Then another… and another.

The ship lurched off the ground, leaving the Fields of Epic Battle out of sight beneath us for a moment. Captain Jones steered the Ever After straight up towards the darkening sky. We whirled higher and higher before setting our course for a castle-like building near the edge of the great city.

I could almost have cried with relief. It looked like we may just be out of trouble… well… it did until strange shapes appeared, swirling down from above the castle.

‘What are they?’ Cook Conomos asked. We all pressed our noses to the glass. As the shapes got nearer we saw they had arms, and were shrouded in long, floating rags.

‘DEMENTORS!’ Lookout Kate screamed. ‘WE HAVE TO ESCAPE!’

With that, Captain Jones activated the ship’s mightiest narrative thrust and rocketed straight past the skeletal monsters. One of those horrible things bounced right off the front window and I got a glimpse of a grotesque, sucking mouth beneath its hood. GROSS!

We needed an escape route from this place, and we needed one fast. I grabbed the nearest map from my navigator’s desk and looked for somewhere safe.

‘A-HA!’ I shouted when I spotted it. The city at the edge of the Fields of Epic Battle was Superhero City. We’d definitely be able to find help there.

‘That way,’ I yelled. ‘We’ll be safe in there!’

Captain Jones cranked up the power so high, the lever snapped off, and we hurtled towards Superhero City like a comet.

Whizzing below us, I spotted orcs firing their catapults at battalions of elves and dwarves, Titans fleeing from a young Greek demigod, and a one-eared rabbit prince fighting the metal-clad Gorm.

Then WHOOOOOOOOSH!

The Ever After was suddenly amongst tall skyscrapers and gigantic palaces. I have to admit, it didn’t seem a whole lot better than the battles we’d just left behind. Everywhere we looked there were superheroes fighting super-villains across the rooftops, through the air, and racing along the streets in their hero-mobiles.

But that wasn’t all.

‘Oh no!’ Captain Jones gasped. She gripped the wheel until her knuckles turned white. ‘The Narrative Thrust! It’s gone wild! It won’t stop!!’

Everybody screamed. The Ever After was heading straight for The Daily Bugle newspaper building. We were doomed to crash and we’d probably all be blown to pieces… CRASH, BANG, KA-BOOM… the end.

Haha! You know I wouldn’t finish the story like that. Don’t forget where we were when the ship lost control.

Before we even had time to wet our pants with fear, Spiderman swung into view. He darted this way and that between the street signs and skyscrapers, firing ropes of web in all directions until a giant net formed in front of The Daily Bugle.

Needless to say I’m still alive, so it won’t surprise you to hear that clever Peter Parker saved us all, and just in the nick of time.

Phew… we were all so shocked from everything that had happened, we just let the Ever After dangle there for a good hour while we caught our breaths and ate a snack. Captain Jones even took that nap she missed out on.

I’ll be curious to see if she puts herself on deck-mopping duty, HAHA!

Who knows where we’ll end up next? I hope it’s someplace quiet…

Ever After.