Chapter Three: The Clouds

Carpet swiftly followed the trail of the flying pirate ship. With the use of a heating spell, Donald Duck was able to keep him and Princess Jasmine from freezing in the sky. While he was eager to fight Pete and his Heartless minions, Jasmine nervously gripped the stiff seams of the Carpet. She could not shake off the memories of the screaming fans. The dark energy that had consumed the stadium would not stop there. She had experience with sinister magic and its evil users. Without King Mickey to lead them both, it was up to her and Donald to stop the Heartless from reaching other lands.
"We're getting closer!" squawked Donald. He tugged the Carpet, gaining on the pirate ship. Jasmine looked ahead, steadying herself against the sudden changes in the wind.
A glowing streak of red shot across the sky. It passed Donald and Jasmine. It seemed to share the same interest in catching up to the pirate ship but with much greater speed. 
"What was that?!" cried Donald. Carpet drifted to the side, giving Donald and Jasmine another angle to view the unidentified flying object. It buzzed around the pirate ship like a bulbous, red beetle. Thunderous cannons filled the sky, aiming to rid itself of the pesky nuisance. Fortunately for Donald and Jasmine, this halted the ship, allowing Carpet to get closer and lurk underneath it.
*    *    *
The cantankerous captain of the flying pirate ship burst through the upper deck doors. He had been deeply disturbed during his afternoon nap. 
“MR. SMEEEEE!” yelled Captain Hook. His tense shoulders barely contained his desire to throw a tantrum. He waited for his pudgy first mate to stand before him and salute.
“Aye Cap’n?”
“What be making this blasted racket?!”
“We’re trying to knock down the bogey, Cap'n.”
“Why are you wasting me precious cannons on that silly carpet?” asked Captain Hook. "Send the Heartless after them if we must!"
"It's not them, Cap'n. Look!" Mr. Smee pointed to the red object, flying overhead. It then swerved, cast a harsh glare with its smooth, metal surface.
"Clear the skies! Fire the cannons!" barked Captain Hook.
“But you just said-” Mr. Smee could not finish his bumbling remark. Captain Hook had snatched him up to his beak-like nose.
"Blast the red bug and bring the pilot to me," instructed Captain Hook before inhaling, "UNDERSTAAAAAND!"
"Uh-huh! I mean-aye aye, Cap'n!" Mr. Smee stuttered, spewing a series of non-intelligent sounds. He finally managed to pass on the command to the Heartless, scattered over the ship. They assumed their roles, loaded up the cannons and adjusted the line of fire. Despite their terrible aim, Captain Hook found some pleasure in watching the red object dodging his cannon fire.
Meanwhile, Carpet snuck to the stern of the ship. Donald knocked off the flightless Heartless fiends on guard while Jasmine was the first to set foot onboard. Donald joined her while the Carpet dropped to the wooden floor. It lifted its back, as if exhausted from the flight. 
"You've earned yourself a good rest," praised Jasmine. She covered Donald from behind while he moved forward, waving his staff cautiously. Upon hearing cackling from the main deck, Jasmine pulled Donald behind two large barrels. They peeked through the thin gap and spotted Captain Hook and Mr. Smee. Both were infamous pirates that were often thwarted by the spunky leader of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan. Jasmine knew she and Donald could not face every single foe on the ship. She wanted to stay quiet and eavesdrop for any information on Queen Minnie's location. Donald wished to face Pete one last time and settle the score. 
"It won't be long now." Captain Hook grinned as he twisted his wiry mustache. "We rule the skies now, Smee. I think a part of me will almost miss that wretched boy."
"Peter Pan? It has been a while since we last dealt with him. I wonder whatever happened to him," said Mr. Smee.
"I, the clever Captain James Hook, tricked that red-headed brat into believing his beloved Tinker Bell was taken hostage at a faraway castle.”
"But she's with us. She's keeping this ship afloat."
"Aye. Peter Pan is a foolish lad. The owner of that castle is a vicious beast who despises 'uninvited guests'."
"Do you think this beast will finish Peter Pan for good?"
"I pray so. If not, the beast will keep the boy busy. Either way, it will work for our greater plan," boasted Captain Hook.
"What plan is that, Cap'n?” Mr. Smee gazed upon his marvelous leader. He longed to learn what schemes Captain Hook was concocting. Donald Duck and Jasmine were also keen on learning anything about his villainous affairs. Much to all of their disappointment, Captain Hook gave a haughty laugh.
“Nevermind that. Tis Captain's work. Make sure the Heartless hit that-
Neon green blasts pelted the side of the ship. Captain Hook let out a yelp while Mr. Smee tumbled and lost his balance. Donald Duck and Jasmine shrieked. Their cover was blown as the barrels were destroyed. Behind the plumes of smoke, they made a hasty retreat towards the mid-level stairway. Donald turned for a moment and caught a close view of the flying object. It was a scarlet space cruiser, equipped with plasma pistols and a blue cockpit. It rocketed far ahead, rotated its pistols, and attacked once again. This time, its green blasts struck the main deck, near the main mast.
"SMEEEE! What's taking us so long?!" shouted Captain Hook.
"We'll bring it down, Cap'n!" assured Mr. Smee. Distressed, He scurried to the antsy Heartless, who hissed him away. The panels to the mid-level cabin slid open. Pete emerged and slammed his feet on the main deck.
"Does a certain captain need help defending his ship?" mocked Pete.
"Shut your yap, you hooligan!" snapped Captain Hook. "We've got a red devil in the sky."
"A red devil?" Pete followed the sounds of the space cruiser, evading the cannon fire.
"Unless you've got another Heartless, hiding under your trousers, I suggest ye stay out of the way!" warned Captain Hook.
"I don't hand them out like free samples, Hooky. Why not let me use that 'ol Anchor Whip you got in the front?" Pete did not wait for an answer. Captain Hook hollered but Pete heaved the handles of the massive cannon-like device, holding the anchor. It was supposed to be used to bring the ship down for landing. Pete kept his beady eyes on his target. He rubbed his thumbs on the trigger. He squinted and watched how the red spaceship moved away from the cannons. 
CLICK! The anchor was launched and smacked into the hood of the red spaceship. In doing so, its drastic weight tossed the flying pirate ship on its port side. Everyone except Pete flung off their feet. Jasmine nearly toppled off the edge but Donald caught her wrist and pulled her back. The other Heartless bumped into each other and collided over Mr. Smee. Captain Hook held onto the starboard railing with his hook and climbed his way over to Pete's position at the front. He was ready to shout down his eardrums. Before he could begin to raise his voice, Captain Hook watched the red spaceship drop past the clouds in a trail of smoke. Pete grumbled as he reeled in the anchor back on board.
"There! Be grateful we're on the same team. Hehe!" said Pete.
"You could have flipped the entire ship, you fool!" scolded Captain Hook.
"And you could have lost your whole ship. Now what's a captain without a ship, hmmm?" Pete smirked as Captain Hook growled and glared. If it was not for Pete's weight, the pirate would have hurled him out to the clouds.  Before he could respond with a snarky retort, Mr. Smee cried out to him.
"Cap'n! We got stowaways!"
Both Captain Hook and Pete swung their faces around. They first looked at Mr. Smee wagging his pointed finger and then turned towards the two intruders of the Jolly Roger. Jasmine and Donald Duck sprinted fast, losing their breath.
"Grrrr! Get'em boys!" Pete signaled the Heartless to follow his command but Captain Hook swung his hook against his chubby chest.
"My ship, my authority! Get'em boys!" shouted Captain Hook in a shrill voice. The Shadows, the Sword Pirates, and the Air Pirates gathered on the main deck and chased Jasmine and Donald to the farthest point of the stern. Jasmine pleaded to the Carpet to take them out of the ship. It hovered and held her and Donald as it bounded upward. The screeching Shadows and the slashing Sword Pirates lost their prey. As for the three Air Pirates, they were still chasing their prey. 
The Carpet had not fully regained its strength and flew weakly. Donald tried to hit the swarming Air Pirates, swooping and dodging his magic attacks. Jasmine gripped onto the Carpet and glimpsed at the distant red blur, plummeting like a meteor. The view of vast forest lands grew with their imminent impact.
One daring Air Pirate narrowed its sharp wings and dived down quickly. It snatched Jasmine by her shoulders. She screamed, alerting Donald to help her.
"Get away!" shrieked Donald, blasting the Air Pirate with a Fire spell. Jasmine was released into the air where she fell several feet away from the Carpet. Donald furiously yanked the Carpet to steer over to her. One hand pulled its tassel while the other stuck out his staff to reach Jasmine's hand. The chirping of wild birds grew louder, creeping into their ears. Time was running out. 
Carpet exerted a spurt of energy, enough to pick up Jasmine and glide straight into the forest. Its body tried to shield her and Donald from hitting the thick branches and prickly twigs.
Jasmine and Donald Duck tumbled onto the ground, ridden with dirt and dead leaves. While the princess clenched her teeth from her bruised shoulder, the feathered mage stepped back to his webbed feet.
"Take THIS!" Donald cast a Thunder spell, shooting strings of electricity at the three Air Pirates. They burst into specks of darkness and disappeared. Donald hurried over to Jasmine and cast a Cure spell on her. Donald succumbed to his trembling knees and plopped to the ground. 
"That was close!" exclaimed Donald, panting.
"Are you okay, Donald? You should heal yourself," said Jasmine softly.
"I used up too much magic. I have wait a while," explained Donald. Magic had its limits, just like physical strength. In order for Donald to replenish his magical power, he needed to rest and refrain from spellcasting for about a half hour.
"It's too bad we couldn't save the Queen."
Jasmine frowned. She was disappointed in herself. All she and Donald could do was chase a flying pirate ship just to escape so quickly. When a passing breeze rustled the leaves above, Jasmine looked up and spotted a patch of the sky through the trees. An idea struck. She approached a tall tree and hoisted herself up to its lowest branch.
"What are you doing? Be careful!" cried Donald. Jasmine did not respond right away. She steadied her weight against a forked branch. Climbing the bony branches, Jasmine cleared the leaves and found a distant tail of rising smoke.
"What do you see?" hollered Donald. Jasmine took a quick, catlike path back to the ground. She was beaming brightly, despite the smudges and tears on her royal robe.
"That red spaceship. I know where it is." Jasmine scooped the Carpet into her arms and beckoned Donald to follow her past the tree she just climbed.
"Wait. Do you want to find the spaceship that almost killed us?" asked Donald skeptically. 
"It was trying to attack the pirate ship, not us. Besides, we won't get anywhere far on foot. Carpet's still too tired to fly us anywhere. We need his help and maybe we can help him too."
"Well...if we are on the same side, maybe he knows more about what Hook and Pete are up to."
"And maybe we can go looking for the King too!" shouted Donald in glee. He bounced on his flappy duck feet.
"That's the idea. I just hope the pilot turns out to be a friend and not another enemy," said Jasmine. It was her only plan. They were stuck, traversing the forest where they had to watch out for any wild Heartless. Every few moments, Jasmine would take the lead, climb up the trees, and confirm that they were on the right path. So much had happened in a single day. She and Donald may have to plan for shelter. She knew that her sweetheart, Aladdin, would stress if he knew about the devastating events that had transpired. He was a noble and clever young man who would put himself in harm's way to protect her. For now, Jasmine had to take care of herself. Both Donald and Carpet still needed to regain their strength. She was not a skilled fighter but she could motivate people to persevere past their own doubts. As to whether she could motivate the mysterious pilot of the red spaceship to assist them, Jasmine had no idea what to really expect.