Setting Up Camp

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It took me a while to get used to the fact that we were at the Isle. I kept insisting that we explore the area, and Mal kept following me to make sure I didn't run into any unsavory characters. Finally, my friends were able to convince me to get back inside the limo. Our quest wasn't over yet. We still had to find Uma's ship, find out what she wanted, trick her, and get Ben back. Pretty foolproof plan, right?

Anyway, once we were all back inside the limo, Jay drove on, past a few run-down buildings and in between a few alleyways until we finally stopped in front of what looked like a large pipe sticking out of one of the walls. Peering through it, I saw it was a tunnel, leading out onto a dock. Past the dock, I saw an enormous ocean. Mal had told me that Uma was now the captain of a gang of pirates, which explained why she had told Mal to meet her on a ship. Uma and her gang were probably somewhere past the dock, farther along the shore. Who was part of her crew, anyway? Mal had mentioned some guy named Gil, son of Gaston, and another dude, Harry, son of Captain Hook. Probably a bunch of freaks. I mean, it was Uma, after all. From what I was told about her, she probably didn't have any decent people working for her.

Mal got out of the limo first, stepping over to the pipe-tunnel, and waited for the rest of us to get out. Once we were all gathered around the opening, Mal filled me in.

"Ok, so past this tunnel, near the shore, is Uma with her pirate ship. Remember, she isn't expecting us until tomorrow, so we have to sneak past the dock until we're farther past the shore, and we'll set up camp there. Be careful, got it? We can't afford to be caught. Uma will never let Ben live if she finds out we've been scheming against her."

"Ok, got it," I said. "We can't let anyone see us until tomorrow."

"Perfect," Mal agreed. "We all know the plan. Ok, are we all ready to do some sneaking?" Everyone nodded in agreement. We were ready to do this.

"Then let's get going!" Evie said enthusiastically.

Walking through the tunnel wasn't hard. We easily tiptoed over to the very end, where the edge of the dock was waiting right outside. Mal poked her head out slightly and peeked around. Ducking back in, she informed us that she had seen the ship a few meters away. It was facing in the opposite direction, and most of the pirates were on lunch break. Hearing that, I looked at my watch and saw that it was already 11:30. Wow, time goes by fast when you're having fun! Or, more accurately, scheming against an evil pirate crew.

Since no one was really looking in our direction, we were able to come out of the pipe, and then go back a few meters to an ideal spot on the shore that wasn't too close to the ship, but close enough to observe them with out being seen. Once we were all ready, Mal pulled a small foldable tent from her bag. When she tossed it on the ground, it unfolded and turned into a tent large enough to hold all five of us. Wow. Pretty cool.

"Wouldn't Uma see a tent from here?" I asked nervously.

"Nah, I don't think so," answered Mal. "It's pretty far past the dock, so the dock blocks their view of the tent. Don't worry, Sheena, I spent all last night planning this. Everything is all under control."

"That's a relief."

Climbing into the tent, we all unpacked the few belongings we had brought, then each chose the spots where we were going to sleep. It was a pretty tight squeeze, but thankfully the tent was just big enough to fit us all. Once that was done, all we had to do was sit and wait. That's all we could do. The plan of attacking Uma's ship wouldn't happen for another two days.

A few minutes later, I soon realized that this part of our trip was not fun at all! Ok, let me just say, I thought this trip was going to be easy! It's not! With five other people clustered around me, it was extremely cramped in there. And no one moved. No one talked or said anything! We all just sat there, waiting for something to happen, I guess. I thought this quest would be nothing but excitement, but I guess I never thought about how much waiting would be involved.

"Ok, guys," Mal announced after what seemed like an eternity. "I'm gonna go on outside and see if I can get closer to the ship. It's already 1:00, I need to find out as much as possible about what we're up against before today ends. Uma will be expecting me tomorrow."

I stood up as well and stepped toward Mal. "Let me come with you!" I had only been in that tent for about 30 minutes and I was already feeling claustrophobic. I needed to get out!

Mal hesitated. I could tell she was still having a hard time trusting my limited VK skills.

"Well..."

"Please!" I begged. "I promise I won't get caught or expose us or anything! I just want to step outside and observe from right outside the tent. That's all."

Mal sighed. "Ok, Sheena. Wow, you really don't know how to take no for an answer."

I laughed. "Yup, that's me!"

Stepping outside the tent, I sighed in relief. Much better. The fresh salty breeze coming off the ocean calmed my nerves and relaxed me. Irritation gone, I sat down in front of the tent, hugging my knees to my chest. Mal sat down next to me.

"I think I'll watch the ship from here for now," she said. "I'll go closer in a little bit."

Hearing something different in my friend's voice, I turned to look at her. "What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing," Mal replied, but I heard the tremor in her voice. Then, it hit me. Mal was scared!

"Mal, are you afraid?" I asked.

She shook her head, but I wasn't fooled.

"M, you're worried for Ben, aren't you?" I asked. "It's ok. We're all in this together. If you need help, you can just ask us. You know that, right?"

Mal kicked the sand with the tip of her boot.

"I'm just so scared I won't be able to do this. I have such a big responsibility, leading this quest and watching all you guys. Especially you. You may be a VK, but you haven't exactly learned to be like us yet. And- I'm just worried one of you guys will get hurt, or I'll screw up and Ben will die. I can't let Uma win. I just can't!"

I put my arm around her shoulders. "Mal, it's ok. You're not alone. You don't have to lead this, you know. You have us. And no matter what happens, we got your back. And besides, when have I ever been careless and screwed something up for you?"

Mal raised an eyebrow. "You really want me to answer that?"

I chuckled. "Actually, not really."

Mal became serious again. "Thanks, S. I'm so lucky to have friends like you, Evie, Jay, and Carlos."

I patted her hand. "You got this, girl."

Rising to her feet and stretching, Mal positioned herself toward the giant ship. "Well, better get going. We can't afford to fail this. I'm gonna go check out the ship and see if there's any weak points we can attack from."

I nodded. "Good luck."

"And, Sheena?"

"Yes?"

"Do not, by any means, leave this spot. Ok? We can't risk any of us being seen."

I nodded. "You can trust me, M."

As Mal walked away, I took another look at the giant ship we would be attacking in a matter of days. I couldn't help but feel a little nervous, but I was also excited. Soon, we would have Ben back. I didn't doubt it. Mal was the best VK around. I didn't think Uma could even compare to Mal.

I stood back up to head back inside the tent. Taking one final glance over to the massive ship, I turned around and walked back into the tent, wondering how exactly this whole thing would turn out in the end.

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