I look behind me, out the window. Out to the cove where the bulk of the battle has been going on.

Four pirate frigates against one pirate cruiser. Both fly the same flag, but the gunfire indicates the opposite. Brother against sibling, sister against brother.

That is the state of the Kingdom of Santa Barbara right now. My first act as its ruler is to lead a battle against a rebellion that could tear it apart. An attempted coup that would ruin its only change of becoming a legitimately recognized sovereign nation.

The frigates are sinking. Two of them are already half underwater, and a third looks to have been fully captured by allies of the crown. The battle is almost over, just as long as this former cruise line carrier, the capital ship known as the MS Zaandam, falls soon.

But until the allied cruiser, the S.B.S.S. Princess Nabila, can reach striking distance for close-range attacks, it’s useless. The Zaandam’s defenses are far too powerful, deflecting everything that comes at it.

Everything, that is, except for two lone surf masters who have already infiltrated the ship and have taken down countless mooks all over the place.

Now, Abby is hacking into the mainframe, or so she says. I have no Earthly idea what that even means, so I cannot judge its accuracy.

Suddenly, she turns around with bright eyes on her face. A sense of hope that has erased all her hardened determination. “He’s here. I’ve located Francis.”

She points to a position on a map screen, right at the top of the cruise ship in an isolated room.


“Yes, Eryk? I mean, my King?”

“I sense Brett is aboard on that location.”

Abby nods. “And I sense a trap.”

“Next move?”

“Spring the trap.” She smiles, and so do I.

We make our way through this labyrinthine ship of endless corridors and winding hallways. It’s almost as if some designer intentionally created a place no human could reasonably navigate, for some mysterious purpose.

We pass a few treasure chests, but ignore them. Abby says that the loot within is not worth our time and that we should continue climbing this tower-like structure.

There is, of course, a lot of fighting. Too much fighting to even describe. But it’s all mundane. No challenge, no real threat. I’m not even forced to use any Destiny Cards to get my way. It’s as if there are no true challenges on Earth, even when I seek them out. I’m outright overpowered, and if it were not for the loose definition of certain Class Actions in my [Adventurer] class, I’d probably be deemed over-leveled for this region and would slowly die as my Life Points sapped away with no way to heal. Fortunately, and even unfortunately in some ways, that does not apply here whatsoever.

Especially with Abby Faulkner by my side, there is not a moment at all where I fear for my health.

Even after all this fighting and all the damage I’ve ostensibly taken, by the time we reach the top floor of the cruise ship, my Life Points are still [10,084/20,000.] A pathetic turn of events, to be sure.

Still, I’ll level up one more time for good measure, to Level 2 of Rank C:

[-30 DP.] It used to be a mere 25, but C-Rank heroes must pay a higher price.

And here are my Level 2 stats...


47 (+9)


4 (-1)




8 (+2)


19 (+5)






18 (+1)


7 (+1)


25 (-6)


61 (+2)


1 (+1)

Well, that’s mildly impressive, I guess.

I’m bothered by how much my [Manners] stat has decreased in the time since I ranked up. This feels like it means something, but I don’t have time to figure out what.

We kick the door down and enter the grand room where Francis is supposedly being—

He’s not here.

Instead, there’s two hundred pirates surrounding all sides of the room, holding spears and guns and sharp-edged surfboards.

And right in the center of the room is...

“Brett,” Abby snarls.

The shirtless economic advisor who is responsible for all this chaos.

“My dear King Bodhi,” says Brett, with an unusually posh accent all of a sudden. “What brings you to my domain?”

“Stop talking like that.”

He giggles. “Right, bruh. Whatever you say.”

“And I am no longer King Bodhi,” she says. “I am Abby Faulkner. Just a surf ronin seeking justice.”

“I am your rightful ruler now,” I say. “Bow before King Solbourne, you traitorous cretin, and I might spare your life. But I cannot promise mercy even then.”

Brett shrugs. “Aight. Dude, you’re, like, way not cool, but I got you.” He drops down on one knee and then bows as deeply as he can. All of the pirates around the room stand down as well.

Abby raises her boomerang scythe into the air. “I’ll finish him.”

Then I beckon her away. “No. It’s not worth it.”

“Wait, why not?”

“He clearly has a trap set for us that we have sprung, and killing him will only ensure it happens.”

Brett laughs softly. “Smart fucker.” Then Brett stands up of his own accord, an offense that would mark death in many cultures on Mystix. “I have a dead man’s switch. Off me, and the entire in-app blockchain system in Santa Barbara will collapse. All Barb Bucks will be destroyed instantly, rendered completely useless forever.”

“The ultimate farewell gift,” Abby says. “So you’ve been planning this for some time, haven’t you?”

“Can’t let a teen rule a kingdom. Or a shoobie, for that matter.”

I backhand him. “A shoobie... I am NOT.”

“Very well then. Wanna see Francis, then?”

“You will be brutalized if you do not.”

“Fine, fine. Let’s go see him.”

Some of the pirates in the room stand aside and reveal a door that was not previously visible.

We step through the door, into a small cabin, a captain’s quarters, perhaps.

And what we find within is...


Francis, no!

What are you doing?!

(He’s playing Fortnite.)

A note from B. A. Baker (Thedude3445)

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About the author

B. A. Baker (Thedude3445)

Bio: I like to watch movies.

Avatar art by Bryan Lee O'Malley.

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