Written by: Adrian Mata and Emma Lupin
"Are you sure about this, Captain?"
The sea otter, a cadet in training, was unsure of the setting around him for his exercise of the day. Above the ocean, the waves were choppy and were starting to grow bigger and bigger by the minute. But this was a part of his training to become a full-fledged, full-time Octonaut, Captain Barnacles stressed. At least his otter-ly brother Shellington was there to help out with the proceedings. Surely that brought some comfort to him.
Sachairi had to learn how to swim under rough conditions, trying to figure out how he could be able to make it back to his designated spot or Gup whenever a storm was coming his way. And the environment that the three of them were in was the perfect place for him to practice under this scenario.
"Do you want to become an Octonaut, Sach?" Barnacles sternly asked.
"I really want to, Captain," Sachairi told him. "But I'm not sure if it's safe to train out here right now, with these... conditions and all that."
"At some point, we will have to do missions like this, Sach," his brother then informed him. "Inevitably, the oceans won't always treat us very nicely, so it's important you know what to do when it behaves like this."
"You sure I can do this, Shel?"
"I know you can do it. Believe me, I know you'll be a great asset to the team."
Sach nodded. After the Captain gave him instructions on how to approach this exercise, the currents began to pick up, signaling its start. Barnacles and Shellington immediately swam back to the Gup-A to watch from behind, looking at and following where the Octo-Cadet was beginning to swim, with various checkpoints along the way that he needed to pass through. He had gone through this before, except the seas were much calmer and it was just basic training to make sure he held the basic physical qualifications to make the team. But this was a challenge - no, a quest - one of the first few exercises he was expected to tackle during a month-long period, that tested his skills, brains, and stamina.
"How am I doing so far, Captain?" Sachairi then radioed to him on his progress.
"You're doing fine, Sachairi," reassured Barnacles.
"Just remember to focus on your task at hand," Shellington advised him, "and don't worry. Stay calm, brother. You can do this."
Just then, Dashi had radioed in from the Octopod. "Dashi to Barnacles," she began. "There's a really big storm heading your way, Captain."
"We'll be fine, Dashi," Barnacles replied, "we're just doing a training exercise right now with Sachairi."
"I understand that, but at the speed and rate this one's going through, it's far too dangerous right now to train under these conditions - especially for an Octo-Cadet like him!"
The polar bear sighed in disappointment. "Understood. Barnacles out."
As the underwater currents began to pick up at a faster rate, Sach continued to concentrate on the checkpoints in front of him. "Sach," he called, "abort! Abort now! There's a huge storm heading our way!"
Sachairi's radio was turned off by that point. "Barnacles to Sach, can you hear me?"
"I think he disabled his radio," Shellington worriedly told the Captain as the other otter began to swim more fervently. "I need to get him."
"If you must..." he could only reply. Shel then grabbed his oxygen tanks, activated his helmet, and soon went out of the Gup-A's hatch. But by that point, Sach was getting pretty far ahead, and the marine biologist had a long way to go before he could get him to safety. The seas, however, got even rougher by that point... one of the waves could sweep one of the Octonauts away.
Unfortunately, it did.
Shellington was almost within arm's reach of his brother when a nasty underwater current snatched Sach away from the rest of the crew. He tried to swim faster so that he could catch up to him, but his legs soon became worn out, and Sach then went out of the picture. Panting, Shel ruefully retreated back to the Gup-A, ashamed he wasn't able to get his brother to safety.
"Captain... I lost him."
The currents got faster and faster by the second and it made it almost impossible to escape its mighty force, yet it still did not stop Sachairi from trying to escape and return to the Captain and his beloved brother. As the Gup-A became nothing more than an amorphous, black blob in the distance, he continued to kick and pump his legs and pulled and pushed back the waters in order to change direction.I... I must return to the Octonauts. I can't just give up now!
he thought to himself as he reached out into the inky blackness surrounding him, trying to find something to hold onto for dear life. He continued to swim upstream, though his legs were tired and felt as if they were about to fall off, and even though it became harder and harder to breathe, he continued to fight his way through. However, as soon as he thought he had made some progress, the waters became furious and roared with mighty rage, sending currents that sent Sach into a backwards spiral and causing his helmet to shatter and puncturing his oxygen tank.
He gasped for air, trying to savor every last bit of it that remained in his tank as the waters closed around him. Though death's cold fingers seemed to have a grip on him, he still could not be stopped. With every dying breath, he began swimming through the currents once again. He accepted the last bit of air from his tank and removed it from his aching back, letting it drop into the seemingly never-ending darkness below him and continued his quest to return to the ones he loved the most. The ocean put up quite a fight, sending anything and everything it possibly could into his path to stop him from continuing, yet it did not stop the young otter and though he himself was dying, his determination was still very much alive and well. Though the ocean was using all of its might to stop him, Sachairi was still winning the battle. But it was still certain it had the vantage point: the ability to win this fight.
It opened its powerful jaws and let loose a final, powerful roar, sending the injured sea otter flying backwards once again and causing him to hit his head - knocking him unconscious. He let loose of his final breath as tendrils of water pulled him downward, into the abyss... the eternal darkness.
After the storm had ended and the waters of the ocean had quieted down, at the edge of a sleepy, shore-side village, the golden sun began to show its radiant face to everyone who longed to see it once again. It awoke in the forest of tall, snow-capped trees and made its way into the village through the small path to the cemetery, whispering softly the names of the dead. It climbed up slowly over the trees and illuminated the wooden rooftops of the many shops and dwellings present there on the main stretch of the town and out into the beyond. It smiled over the fields of grain, giving each strand its attention and care and causing it as a whole to glow as bright as pure gold. It then traveled up the cliffs of Mortal's Point, stepping over every rock and every crack and crevice in them, and to conclude its remarkable journey, into the cave that sat atop of them all. It slipped through the mouth as quiet as a fox under a hen-house door that was left slightly ajar from the night before and made its grand presence known all throughout. Its job was almost done, but there was still one more chore left to do. It tiptoed softly over to the wall where the mats were positioned and jumped atop of the crudely-stitched red blanket covering them... and then onto, soft, pale flesh and into a single eye.
Kubo groaned a little and turned away to try and escape the burning light, but it was no use - the sun was an omnipresent being and its light filled the entire room, so there was no possible way of escaping it. He sighed a little and picked up his seemingly heavy body up off of his comfortable mat and pushed away the blanket that covered his legs and feet. He slowly traveled over to the front of the cave, passing his sleeping grandfather in the process and reached into a small hole in the cave's wall where the paper was kept. He grabbed at least ten to twenty sheets with him, took a seat on the floor by the hole and slowly but surely began folding them into powerful warriors and beasts of many shapes and sizes: a blue shark, a snow monkey, a black spider, a white wolf, a yellow fire-breathing chicken (everybody's favorite), a great orange tiger, and finally, the hero of the story, his late father, Hanzo himself. He put each of his creations into a little fabric tote bag carefully, stood up again and headed towards the cave entrance. Finally, he ran over to the wall closest to the mouth, picked up his magic shamisen, slung it over his shoulder and headed down the cliff and into the town.
The village was bustling and full of life as usual. The stores were open and large crowds lined up outside to take a look at today's merchandise. The artists were out as well, carving lanterns and making costumes in honor of the upcoming festival. Along with this, beggars and street performers began making their way into town, in hope for someone to be generous enough to spare them a few coins. Yet as the activity of the town began to skyrocket, all seemed to stop when Kubo dropped his bag, readied his shamisen and shouted his most iconic show-starting phrase...
"If you must blink, do it now!" he yelled over the noise of the crowds as he strummed a single chord on his three-stringed guitar. For the next few hours, the young boy, a year older than when he finished his quest, told his stories of the legendary samurai warrior, who went with him on his adventure (albeit in the form of a beetle). The banjo-like instrument Kubo was expertly playing with gusto brought his origami creations to life as he explained each event and the intricately-folded pieces of paper moved along to his music, with his audience holding onto every single word and trying not to take their eyes off of the action that unfolded in front of them.
As he was about to tell another one of his father's quests, a certain villager urgently ran into the crowd, heavily panting, presumably after running for a few miles or so. "Kubo!" this elderly woman interrupted.
"What is it?" he asked.
"I just saw this poor, cute, furry creature that's washed up on shore! I think you'd better come and see it."
The other villagers gasped after they had heard about this piece of news. Kubo had stopped playing and his creations had gone inactive by that point. "Where'd you find it?" the storyteller said.
"Right near Mortal's Point," Kameyo informed him.
Murmurs had begun to spread around the village. Kubo then slung his shamisen onto his back, and then picked up his origami creations and other paper that he was set to use for his other stories. "I'll be right back," he then announced to the villagers, "don't worry."
The boy and his grandmother figure then began running towards the shore nearby his home.
Sachairi's eyes had begun to open after a period of unconsciousness. At first, the image that registered in his brain was blurry - just a very light color. He then wondered if he had survived the storm when two brown blotches began to form; the images then refocused to show that they were two people, one who looked very youthful who seemed to be wearing a kind of a big, red cloth throughout his upper body, and another who looked well beyond her years with white and grey hairs on her head and a blue and gray dress.
"Look, he's waking up," the older woman whispered to the younger person next to her.
"What is it?" he quietly asked her.
"Looks like a... a sea otter, I think."
"W-where am I?" Sach found himself asking, groaning as he felt that the pain from last night's events beginning to reoccur in his body.
"Are... you alright?" the young boy to his right asked him.
The injured otter still groaned in pain for a bit. The woman and boy knew by that point that he wasn't feeling okay, then taking notice of the scrapes and cuts the Octonaut had sustained.
"What should we do?"
"I think we need to take care of him..."
His vision then began to fade to black.