It was a calm evening as Captain Starling looked over his boats before heading home for the night. He ran his Marina with benevolence and grace, defending the land from any rogue vessels or fleets of pirate ships. His men were constantly building new ships, experimenting with new techniques and designs, and he would test them out, choosing the fastest, strongest ships to be part of his fleet, the Marines. These Marines were the most revered of the ships, looked up to by the other ships and constantly improving themselves as well. The other ships would be rented or sold, occasionally returning to the Marina briefly with lots of stories to share. All, except his prized show boat, Marie Anna. She was the jewel of his collection, the most beautiful ship he'd ever seen. He had used to take her out for joyrides, or sail with her when giving his friends and family a taste of the Marina. But lately he had hardly had time to visit the Marina at all, and when he did, it was usually to train his Marines. Not a problem, he assumed, as they'll just be here when I get back, just as I've left them.
Or so he thought. For what Captain Starling didn't know was that when he left the Marina, his many boats had a life perhaps even more vibrant than his own. The Marines, and their bold leader Geroni, went from a respected upper class to a pushy, exclusive gang. And LeFaye went from an unusual but quickly overlooked boat, to FailBoat. For LeFaye, unlike the other boats in the Marina, could not sail. Maybe his hull was too thick or his sails too small, but for whatever reason, no matter what the wind was like, soon after he set sail, he'd soon begin to descend into the water and his sails would deflate.
He was given the nickname long ago, when one of Geroni's subordinates, Rassi, had teased him after a run-in with the gang. LeFaye had tried to quickly slink away, hoping the encounter would be breif, but Rassi had goaded him on. "What about a sail, LeFaye?" To this, LeFaye only sped away quicker. But before he could escape, Rassi had shouted, "You know, I think you should rearrange the letters in your name. It would fit you much better if your name was FAIL!" He had considered for a moment a retort that the letters in his name were not the same ones in the word 'fail', but before he could, another goon joined in. "Yeah, you're not a sailboat, you're a FAILboat!" And they had all chanted "FailBoat! FailBoat!" until unfortunately it had stuck.
And so that was how he was known when not in the Captain's presence, as it seemed the name preceded him; boats whom he had never spoken to already knew him as FailBoat. Except to Marie Anna. For Marie Anna was not docked with the other boats, she was kept at the captain's private dock, and would visit the Marina only when the Captain would. And when that happened, all eyes would be on her. Sometimes she would choose a ship to sail with, and they'd dash through the waves together. LeFaye hoped incessantly during each of her visits that she would pick him. Of course, that was quite a longshot as she had never actually spoken to her before.
But on this visit, something felt a little different. Something seemed strange. The Captain stood at the center dock, addressing every boat. "I've come to tell you all that you won't be seeing me any more," he began. Gasps penetrated the air as he continued, "...because I'll be retiring. But I am leaving everything in the capable young hands of Captain Jade." And that was how it came to be that he sold the Marina to Captain Jade, everything, including his own Marie Anna, and Captain Jade decided he'd make some changes. He wanted to downsize. Fewer and fewer boats were made, and those that were became standardized, each one a copy of the last. He focused on selling a lot of the boats, and those he didn't sell or use in his fleet, he planned on scrapping.
It seemed only the Marines profited from this change of management. The others were quickly shipped out or lived in fear of being scrapped if they did not leave soon. Marie Anna seemed to be taking it the worst of all. No longer her Captain's prized pet, she too now lived in the Marina, and had to endure constant stares and passes and catcalls until she eventually spent her days hiding, trying to avoid the other boats altogether. But her nature could not keep her at the shores for long, and so she would come out at night, sailing (slowly, for there was no wind) alone by moonlight. And it was there that for the first time, she ran into LeFaye.
He had not expected to see anyone else out there, that was why he'd chosen the dark of the night as his cover. And so it surprised him when he heard the sound of himself crashing into another boat, though that couldn't compare to the surprise when he found that this boat was Marie Anna. "I'm so... so sorry!" he stammered, but she just laughed politely. "It's nothing at all! But you must have been going pretty fast, I'm surprised you didn't leave a dent!" And then they both laughed, and LeFaye finally relaxed as she said, "I'm Marie Anna." "I know," he replied. "Oh," she said, realizing that everyone else probably did too, "Well what is your name?" And he paused only for a moment before responding, "LeFaye."
And that was how they became friends, meeting covertly, but with increasing regularity, to play in the moonlight. They could not truly sail, as there was no wind, but they could still dash through the rippling waves near the shore, jumping slightly when they passed through each other's wake. Marie Anna thought nothing of the times when LeFaye would descend into the water, on the contrary, she was always enthralled when he'd dip below the surface and come back unscathed, holding smooth rocks or pretty shells he'd found for her at the ocean's floor.
And so this continued until the night Marie Anna told him something unfortunate. "I'm going to be sold tomorrow," she said. LeFaye was hopeful for a moment before she continued, "...to a junkyard." "No!" he said, genuinely disbelieving, "Not you!" "I guess it's a time of war, no one wants a pretty ship. They only want battleships." The sat quietly close together for a moment before she continued, "I want to escape. To sail away from here! And I want you to come with me." And LeFaye was speechless. Not, as Marie Anna surely assumed, thinking over whether he would be willing to run away with her- he'd do it in a heartbeat- but realizing the fact that Marie Anna never knew he couldn't sail. He couldn't bring himself to allow her to learn that.
"Come! Sail away! Come sail away, with me," she persuaded. But he was frozen. "I can't," he said. "But... but why?" she asked, dismayed. "Because I'm not meant to sail," he said, the tears already forming, "I'm a FailBoat!" And he sped off, as fast as he could, eventually dipping under the surface, and was gone before Marie Anna could give the matter another thought.
But neither of them would sail away the next morning, for when they awoke, they saw that the Marina was under attack! A fleet of pirate ships had appeared, attempting to take over the Marina. The Captain's fleet, of course was sent out immediately to fight. The others were herded to a corner in the back, told to allow the Marines to take care of it. And so it seemed as if it would be just like any fight, until there was a shout from the crowd. "Look! Over there! It's Marie Anna!" And sure enough, it was. They had taken her hostage, severely tilting the tables in their favor.
As the pirates edged dangerously close, Geroni commanded his boats, "They're too close. We have to take chances and attack, even if it means hitting our own ship." And at that LeFaye jolted to attention. Surely he couldn't compete with the Marines, but he couldn't let them hurt Marie Anna! "I want to help!" he told Geroni, resolutely, but he was only met with laughter. And, of course, Rassi's wit. "You couldn't be a Marine! You're so subordinate that even if you *were* a Marine, you'd be a Sub-Marine!" And the Marines laughed, as LeFaye slunk back toward the others. But their spirits were short-lived, as the pirates had sent floating, burning barges in their direction, effectively forming a barrier, shielding them from attack.
But it wasn't in retreat that LeFaye slunk away this time. He was on a mission. He went back to the shed, where boat parts were housed. It was rarely used since Captain Starling's day. And he gritted his teeth as he ripped off his worn, misshapen mast, and strapped to himself more of the heavy metal that made his hull, until it covered him completely, and then dove off toward the battle. He submerged before anyone could see him, from either fleet, and swam under the barges. He rammed their floors as hard as he could, again and again, until they splintered and broke apart, the fire slowly dissipating. But before the pirates could figure out what was happening he continued swiftly, ramming now into their own hulls, continuing until the pirates' screams filled the air, until he had no energy at all left.
It wasn't until the battle was nearly over that Marie Anna could glean the identity of her savior. And when she did, she took his hand, helping him back to the docks amid cheers and shouts. When he awoke, Captain Jade had declared him a hero. He had stopped selling his boats, and disbanded the Marines, admitting that he didn't yet know what truly made a good fighter. Still, he had appointed LeFaye in charge of the fleet, and so LeFaye spent his days training boats of all shapes and sizes to be ready for any other attacks. And with all the newfound popularity, the world's first submarine hardly had a free moment all day. But the night was a different story. He spent his nights with Marie Anna, dancing in the waves by moonlight as they always had.
LJ Contest Update: Last week's winners are... Nikhil and Hilary again!! Which puts Hilary at first place right now. But don't worry guys, it's still anyone's game. Even those who've barely made it on the board are still in second place. And I know this entry's long, but you can do it. The songline is in the later half of the story. But you should read the whole thing anyway, and besides, you just might enjoy it! :) The current contest standings are... Jaymes:1, Hilary:2, AlexJeffery:1, Nikhil:1.