"You're just going to let him die?" Robby nearly screamed at him while the two men stripped him of his diving gear. Though, he hoped they hadn't seen Irene, and that she noticed their absence and would save him. But right now, there was still a chance he could save him. "Besides, didn't you want me dead?"
"I actually didn't. That was the foolish move of one of my men trying to impress me. His good fortune worked once and tried to work it again, but as you can see, it didn't. I had to come and capture you myself."
"But how did you know that I would even be here? And why did you want me prisoner?"
Vandal waved his hand. "Save the questions for later, Mr. Hoenig, I will explain when we are not fighting the noise of the boat." With that being said, he put the boat into high speed and they took off. Robby tried to twist and turn to see if he could tell if Irene got to Harry, but they were putting distance between themselves and Harry's location rather quickly. He did try to keep his eye on the spot for as long as he could, hoping to see some kind of movement, but before long, the spot was out of his sight. He turned, fuming, every fiber of his being hating this man who had no concern for anyone or anything else but himself.
The boat ride was otherwise quiet, besides the sounds of the boat that Vandal said they would have to fight to be heard. The two men held onto Robby firmly, making sure he didn't try to jump overboard, equipment or not. But he did keep his eyes open. Based on what he could see in the darkening shadows, he saw that they were basically heading out to sea. But he had yet to see any boat on the horizon. He knew he was expecting, imagining, an old-fashioned pirate ship on the horizon, but he remembered what Lillibularo said and was basically looking for any kind of ship at that point. But where they went completely took him by surprise.
Vandal slowed the boat down to a stop. The next second, a submarine rose up out of the sea to meet them. Two pairs of hands pulled Robby up onto the sub roughly before pushing him towards the door. Vandal led the way through the maze of corridors on the sub with Robby behind him and his two guards close behind him, so close he could almost feel them breathing down his back. Robby passed dozens of crew men, each one eyeing him with a cold eye but looked at Vandal the way a boy would at his hero. Robby felt sick. Vandal paused in front of a door.
He turned to Robby as he opened it. "We can talk more in here, Mr. Hoenig." He turned to the two guards. "Take him to the brig when we're done."
The two men saluted. "Yes sir!"
Vandal glanced at Robby, who had yet to move an inch. "Aren't you at least somewhat interested in knowing my plan?"
"Why would you tell me?"
Vandal smirked. "I can tell a smart person when I see one, Mr. Hoenig. Besides, everyone else on the boat knows. I get to tell it to someone new." He then smirked. "And I can tell you are just dying with curiosity."
Robby gritted his teeth. "Like you let my friend die back there?"
"Oh, I'm sure he'll get out of it just fine. Your other friend is a mermaid, isn't she?" Robby kept glaring at him and said nothing. "You don't have to affirm or deny it, Mr. Hoenig, we already knew of their existence. It's just a matter of proving it to the rest of the world. I only need one to find the remains of the Hawaiian Heist. If your pretty little friend won't help us, I'm sure someone else will." There was another pause. "Come now, don't you want to know it?"
"But are you telling me only because you think I'm dying to know?" snapped Robby. "Or is it because you're dying to tell it?"
"You see? I could tell you were smart." Vandal grabbed Robby's arm and pulled him into the room. He closed the door behind him before turning and pointing to a chair. "Sit." Robby didn't move. Vandal grabbed him by the arm and pulled him towards the chair before pushing him into it. "You are a smart lad, but I can see now you are very stubborn as well."
"Better get used to it," mumbled Robby.
Vandal smirked. "I think I will, and I think I will enjoy pitting myself against this new challenge you've presented me with."
Robby blinked. "My stubborness is a new challenge to you?"
"Of course," said Vandal as he poured himself a glass of alcohol. He sat down in the chair opposite Robby. "Because I was hoping to have you on my crew." He took a sip as he watched Robby's reaction.
Robby's eyes bulged and his face felt hot. "S-say what? You dare ask me to join your crew when you've left my best friend to die back there?"
Vandal put the cup down on a table next to the chair and pressed his fingers together. "Ah, I see, you are still loyal to your friends."
"Yeah, I guess you didn't even think that Harry was smart enough to join, now did you?"
"He wasn't looking at me at the restaurant."
"That's because he was intentionally avoiding looking at you," said Robby with a growl. "And he was being polite by joining in the conversation between my grandfather and Mr. Iona. But that's not the real reason why you captured me, is it? It's because my grandfather is one of the head scientists at ICS, isn't it?"
Vandal grinned and clapped his hands. "I think I must only give you a few clues and you'll piece them together just fine. But I do wish to tell you."
Robby crossed his arms and spoke with as much venom as he could. "Then why don't you go ahead and spill it, Captain."
"But first, why don't you tell me what you have already figured out?"
"You mean besides the obvious facts that your man kidnapped Jack Storm, harmed a dolphin in the process, nearly killed me twice, all just to impress you while you searched for the Hawaiian Heist and a mermaid to lead you to it, or in the meantime, Jack Storm and now Uncle Billy? Oh, and you kidnapped Dr. Finski because you knew he was searching to prove the existence of mermaids. All of which just to revive what you call the glory days of pirates."
"Very good, so far. But that's only part of it. You wouldn't know some of this information, so it makes sense why you wouldn't have thought of it. But, you see, legend states that one of the jewels, or more, unlocks certain gates to the mermaid kingdoms to humans, Atlantis in particular."
Robby's eyes widened. "At-Atlantis?"
Vandal smirked at Robby's surprised expression. "Yes, Robby, Atlantis, the Atlantis. Can you just imagine the possibilities?"
"That, that would be the archeological find of the century!"
"I'm glad you're interested."
"I didn't say I was interested, but it certainly has made things a little more clearer."
"Only a little, Mr. Hoenig?" Vandal tsked. "Well, allow me to continue explaining things and maybe you'll understand more." He paused and took a sip from his glass before continuing. ""Yes, finding Atlantis will be the archeological find of the century. But more than that, revealing the existence of mermaids will also help in my goals of living the best pirate life. Pirates and mermaids have been intertwined for a very long time. Why not again?"
Robby's eyes narrowed. "You're insane," he whispered.
Vandal's nostrils flared. "I can see that stubbornness of yours will have to take some time breaking." A smirk spread on his face. "But this should be fun. And I haven't even gotten to the best part yet. The Fountain of Youth."
Robby's eyes widened. "Wait, what?"
Vandal smiled. "Oh yes, it's real. All of it's real, Mr. Hoenig, every myth and legend you've ever heard of."
Robby blinnked, thinking back to Nereau's words about the absence of one such legend in the world, the kraken. "But, are you sure? What if some legends really were just misrepresented tales and there isn't an ounce of truth to them at all?"
"Well of course they are! Mermaids are real, right? Why not everything else?"
"Well for one thing, I wouldn't want everything to be real," said Robby matter-factly. "And two, you'd be very disappointed to find out if they weren't this whole time."
"Concerned about me becoming disappointed?" asked Vandal. "Now don't make this challenge too easy for me, Mr. Hoenig."
Robby rolled his eyes. "I'm not concerned about you getting disappointed, more just to let you know you should lower your expectations."
"But Mr. Hoenig, if aliens, by way of the Venusians and the Martians, and now merfolk are real, who's to say that other such creatures, like vampires, elves, werewolves, wizards, fairies, and the like, are real too?"
"But what if they aren't? What will you do then?"
Vandal shrugged. "Nothing, it's the pirate's life for me, and merfolk are the only creatures we really interact with. Both as part of the sea as the dolphin and the shark."
"Speaking of dolphins," said Robby, "what do you want from my grandfather?"
"To either get rid of the ICS completely, or have one of my men be in charge of it."
"Well come now, Mr. Hoenig, I thought you were smarter than that. Because Devil's Hat is the main entrance to the mermaid city here. Your grandfather will probably do everything in his power to see that they are shown as graceful and good, to hide the monsters that they really are."
"Oh I see," said Robby, his eyes widening with horror, "you're trying to control the narrative, you want people to believe they sing people to their deaths, like in the old stories. The type of mermaid a pirate had to deal with."
"I'm not trying to control anything, Mr. Hoenig, I just want the truth to come out."
"You haven't even met a mermaid," snapped Robby. "How can you know what they're really like?"
Vandal tsked. "I can see they've already put their spell on you. Don't worry, it wears off. I think some time in the brig will do just the trick." Vandal rose, went to the door, and opened it. "It's time."
The two guards nodded as they walked in and grabbed Robby by the arms, pulling him harshly to his feet. "Move it," said one, pushing Robby towards the door.
"There's nothing you can say or do that will ever convince me that you're doing the right thing," said Robby. The guards pushed him through the doorway. "You won't get away with this!" he shouted as Vandal closed the door. Vandal made no comment, and Robby was pushed towards the brig.
The three went through several corridors, and Robby tried to look for a way out. But keeping track of the twists and turns they were taking seemed easier than finding a means of escape. Finally, they made it to the brig. Robby saw two other people in two of the cells and gasped when he recognized them both.
"Uncle Billy! Where's Mr. Lillibulero?"
Billy blinked. "Wasn't he with you?"
"He was! But then we found Dr. Finski was missing and he went to escort you to the Marshall's house!" Robby was pushed into an empty cell.
One of the guards scoffed. "Oh, we got him not long after we got Finski."
"But we should have nabbed him earlier," said the other guard. "It's going to take longer for the siren's song to wear off of him. He's been listening to it for the past thirty years, after all." The two left, chuckling.
"Robby, are you alright?" asked Billy.
"I'm fine, but Harry . . ." Robby let the tears fall. Sure, he hoped Irene would save Harry, Vandal seemed sure of it, but the idea that his best friend was fighting for air, fighting for his life, and the mere fact that he could still die, got to him.
"What about Harry, lad?" Robby quickly wiped off his tears and explained what had happened. "Don't worry, Irene will save him. Merfolk are really fast."
"Remind me again why you and this Vandal guy aren't on the same side?" asked the third person in the brig. "You've both been talking about mermaids like they're real!"
Billy sighed. "Robby, this is Jack Storm. Jack, this is Robby Hoenig, he helped Kalea rescue Poipu."
Jack turned to Robby with nervous expectation. "What? Is Poipu alright?"
Robby nodded. "He's healing up just fine."
Jack sighed with relief. "That's good to hear." He paused and blinked. "Wait, Robby Hoenig? Where have I heard that name before?"
"Probably because my grandfather, Jacob Von Hoffer, said it on several occasions."
Jack's eyes widened. "Oh! You're Dr. Von Hoffer's grandson? Are your parents here too?"
Robby nodded. "Yes, Maggie told me you wanted to meet them."
Jack grinned. "Boy, do I ever!" He glanced around at their cells. "As soon as we get out of here that is." He glanced at Billy. "And when we do, you're getting psychiatric help."
"Oh, but Uncle Billy and Vandal are telling the truth! Merfolk are real, and the Marshalls are merfolk!"
Jack's mouth dropped before throwing up his hands. "Great! Now you're talking crazy too!"
Robby sighed. "I guess my dad's philosophy rubbed off on you too, huh? Guess we'll just have to show you."
Billy nodded. "Yes siree, that's all we can do right now." He let out a huff. "Especially since we haven't found a way out yet."
"Oh, don't worry, Mr. Lillibulero will get us out of here, as soon as he finds the sub."
"You put a lot of faith in that little man, don't you?"
Robby smiled. "Yes, he's good at his job." He glanced around. "Oh, where's Dr. Finski?"
Billy pointed at the door to the brig. "They took him somewhere some time ago. Haven't seen him since. Vandal's probably trying to get him on his side."
"Yeah, he tried to get me on his side too. I'd rather walk the plank."
"Good lad!" said Billy with a broad grin.
"I'm glad we're all in agreement on that part, at least," said Jack. "Just the mermaids and the getting out, not so much."
"Oh, don't worry, Mr. Lillibulero will get us out." Robby tilted his wrist so he could kind of see underneath his watch. A soft blue light flickered on and off. "Just give him some time."
(Author's Note: Ooh, yay! Soon you will see what Harry and Robby are talking about when it comes to Lillibulero being the best! And we are coming up on the major part of what I remember from my dream concerning this story. Hope you like it! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day! God bless!)