"Nearly Bankrupt" is a story written by Loco123456.
The Zero Marine Company wasn't have much luck with contracts. The only one they had secured was the munitions contract from the factory up river. Otherwise, they were looking for ways to beat the Star Tug and Marine Company. "Listen up everyone, we've got to win the contract for hauling longs to the sawmills at Mittsville. I want Zak and Zebedee on this job. Now get going!" The two tugs arrived and saw logs waiting to be taken away. They also saw Top Hat and OJ were competing against them. "Let's show those rotten Stars how logs should be delivered to UpTown," whispered Zak. The tugs took dangerous short=cuts between the two towns, and neither of them were aware of the sharp rocks close by. "Zak! Slow down!" "I'm n-" CRASH! That evening Captain Zero found out about the incident. "You stupid tugs! I might as well be blunt with you. We're not making much money." "But what about the munition deliveries?" asked Zorran. "They don't do much to help us. We need to win the next contract, or else..." "Or else what?" asked Zebedee worriedly. "You'll either be sold off or scrapped." The tugs all shivered. They didn't want to leave each other behind. Surely they disliked each other for a habit of each member, but they all cared very much for everyone in the fleet. "Messenger, go and find another contract for us."
The Zero's Messenger spent the night looking for clients around the harbor, which there were none. He then went to UpTown, where there was no luck, along with Mittsville. Although he had no luck elsewhere, he decided to visit Top Town. "Anyone here who needs a Tug Fleet to help with their business?" "Business? Who's there?" shouted a voice from a nearby warehouse. "The Zero's Messenger. We're looking for a contract." "The Zero Marines eh? I've never had you help me. Listen, the Star Tug and Marine Company are competing to deliver farm machinery and the crops to and from here. Want to join?" "Yes please. When does this start?" "Leave that to me. My friends have told me where you Zeros live."
The client was as good as his word; he went to see Captain Zero the next morning. In the evening the Zero Messenger was waiting for Zip and Zug, who were chosen to represent the Zeros. "Listen, I've found a short cut." "Rubbish! You know what happened the last time we tried that!" protested Zug. "Hear me out. It isn't dangerous; you know where the entrance to go up river is, right?" "Right." "Once you get there, make a left, there'll be a buoy a mile and a half away. Go straight pass it and you'll find yourselves in Top Town." "How much time will be cut off?" asked Zip. "A good hour. You know how long it takes in the summertime."
The next morning both the Star Tugs Ten Cents and Sunshine, along with Zip and Zug, left the Cargo Yard with barrages loaded with tractors, hay, and many other supplies; each tug pulled two barrages each. "You'll never win this time," called Ten Cents. "There is always a first," said Sunshine politely. "The Zeros? Rubbish! Every time there's a contract and we're competing against them, our chances of earning more money for Captain Star are high." But Ten Cents spoke too soon; he saw the Z-Stacks go to the left. "They'll soon find themselves damaged or breaking something!" But when the Star Tugs arrived the Z-Stacks were refueling and getting their barrages reloaded. "Hello Star Tugs! Looks like we've damaged ourselves this time!" mocked Zip. "And we've broken a few things too," added Zug. The Star Tugs watched in amazement as the Z-Stacks left with loaded barrages of crops. "Better get reloaded and quickly." The Star Tugs used their whistle signal, 1-1-5, two short, five long. It meant "Get out of my way!" The whistling did the trick; they arrived baack in Bigg City Port to see Zip and Zug nearing the Cargo Yard. "This isn't happening. It won't happen," said Ten Cents, going crazy. "Ten Cents!" Ten Cents caught up with Zug and cut one of his barrages loose. "Zip! Get the Coast Guard! The Stars have cut one of my barrages loose!" "I'll go and get this contract. We'll stay in business Zug!" Zip sped up and arrived first in the yard, where the Coast Guard met him. Ten Cents cruised in just as Zip was telling the Coast Guard about the incident. "Is this true?" asked the Coast Guard. "No Sir." "it is true. Witnessed it with my own eyes," said Sunshine. Zip bit his tongue and kept quiet, resisting the urge to tease. "You lot have cheated. Therefore you've lost the contract. This one goes to the Zero Marine Company!" Zug had reattached his loose barrage and was sadly making his way to the yard when Zip returned looking cheerful. "We did it Zug! We've won! We'll be able to stay together."
The Zero Marine Company made loads of money in June, so much that there was plenty to pay off debt, and repair Zak, who returned in mid August. As the Star Tugs, they learned that they can't always win, and that cheating gets you nowhere, but only in trouble.