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||You are on Week 536
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Five Hundred Thirty Six Ends Friday, December 16
|Avielle had never run so fast in her life.
It's hard to make those sort of generalizations when you don't remember anything about your life, of course. The life that the Gelert was aware of stretched a paltry grand total of fifteen minutes, give or take a few. Amidst her total, terrified confusion, however, she was fairly sure of two things -- that she had not suddenly sprung into existence a quarter of an hour ago, and nothing in whatever life she'd had leading up to this could have possibly incited her to run as desperately as she was running now.
Actually, she was sure of three things. If she faltered for even a moment, they would catch her.
She had no idea who they even were, beyond being blurry, faceless beings who she'd had no time to look over her shoulder and clarify. They wanted her. They were hunting her... and she had to get away.
There were a lot of things she didn't know. She wasn't even sure of her own name.
It sounded both familiar and alien. Or maybe it only sounded familiar because she felt she should know it, she knew she should know it -- and yet, she didn't. It rolled off her lolling, panting tongue with the distinct air of trying out a stranger's name for the first time. It navigated uncharted territory as it passed over her lips, striking no chord of acquaintance with her windstrewn ears.
It was her name, and somehow she didn't know it. She didn't know anything, and what frightened her more than the fact that where a lifetime's worth of experiences and memories should have been, there was a void, a blank slate, was the fact that she looked upon this gap in her memory -- her identity -- and didn't care.
Maybe she just didn't have the time to care. Desperate flights-for-life have a tendency to do that.
Avielle squinted -- it looked like there was a light ahead, different from the coruscating red alarms that flared to her sides in alternating bright and dull patterns in a dreamlike, dizzy cycle. This light was different, warmer. It looked like... a way out.
The question, feeling the bone-deep ache in her limbs and the purposeful pairs of footsteps close behind, was whether or not she could make it...
Date: Dec 12th
...Avielle gritted her teeth against the aching pain of her fatigued muscles, surging forward in one final effort to escape. All she could hear was the thundering of her own heartbeat, the drumming of her paws against the pavement, and then--
She burst into the light, the glass window she'd run through shattering around her as she tumbled to the ground. She was outside! Avielle squinted at the sheer brightness of it all, struggling to stand.
The grey sky stretched endlessly overhead, snowflakes drifting casually from smudges of clouds. The cold winter air was refreshing as the Gelert wheezed and panted, trembling from exhaustion. There were buildings here (had she been inside one?), as well as other Neopets, scattered amidst the open town square.
Instinctively, Avielle moved into the crowd, her mind telling her that she could blend in with them. She did not know what prompted her to do this, nor did she understand where the words in her thoughts kept surfacing from -- words like snowflakes, winter, buildings, and town. She just knew what they meant without any kind of personal experience or memories to explain why.
She was too nervous to make eye contact with any of the townspeople, so she kept her eyes on the ground as she milled about aimlessly, still trying to catch her breath and calm her jangling nerves. She did not feel safe here. She did not know who was hunting her or why, but she felt the pressing need to put distance between herself and this place.
"Avielle," a voice hissed, barely above a whisper.
The Gelert flinched, hearing her name spoken aloud by another voice for the first time. It still did not strike a chord with her. Her mind struggled to process what it meant -- someone knew her? Did they know where she came from, why she was here? Should she flee? What if she was a criminal and they wanted to arrest her? Criminal... another word she inexplicably knew.
"Avielle, it's me," the voice hissed again, as a hand clamped firmly on her wrist. She whipped around, confusion and terror in her wide eyes. A tall white Lutari stood there, gripping her arm and pulling her closer as he swung his trenchcoat over her, shielding her from view.
"Come on, we haven't got a moment to lose..."
Date: Dec 12th
..."Who?" Avielle asked him, desperate for at least one answer to the myriad of questions flooding her mind.
This Lutari knew her, somehow. He was a link; surely he could fill in the blanks.
The Lutari shook his head, silencing Avielle's questions.
"There will be time for answers later," he whispered as they moved forward through the crowd. "Right now we have to keep moving. In the meantime, keep quiet."
The Lutari guided her by the arm, silently passing between the chilled townspeople. They didn't pay them a second glance, too busy with their own thoughts and problems.
Then, suddenly, a horn rang out. It came from the direction of the building that Avielle had fled. The sound seemed to act like a signal for the townspeople, so as one they stopped dead in their tracks, making the Lutari's fluid movement almost impossible.
Avielle stared into the face of the nearest local, an Acara. She stared straight ahead, not even acknowledging her. It was if she were sleeping with her eyes open, completely unaware of her surroundings.
Panic, for some reason, filled Avielle's mind. This was wrong... this was so wrong -- and dangerous, too. They, whoever they were, would be looking for them in the crowd: the only two Neopets who were still moving.
The Lutari clearly felt the same way, for his eyes were darting about the immediate area, trying to locate gaps between the paralysed townsfolk. They had stopped so closely to each other, however, that there were no longer any gaps to slip through. What had been a means of escape had, instead, become a prison.
Letting out a little snarl, the Lutari turned to Avielle.
"So much for the easy way," he told her. "Time to run."
Run. It was a word Avielle seemed to know more than any other, since she'd spent so much of the time that she could actually remember running.
The Lutari's free hand pushed forward on a few of the townsfolk in front, sending them toppling to the floor. He then resumed running with Avielle, as behind them whistles sounded in the cold air. They had been spotted...
Date: Dec 13th
...the chase was on again.
The Lutari's claw wrapped around Avielle's hand in a vice grip, as if he were afraid of losing her in the motionless crowd. It was so strange, running past townsfolk who stood as statues did.
They ran through the village, not daring to dart down the narrow alleyways in fear they'd meet a dead end. The chorus of whistles snapped at their heels like impatient Doglefoxes, and Avielle tried not to think of teeth and acid eyes. They ran together and even though their arms were linked it didn't slow them down at all. Avielle wondered whether it was him pulling her, or she, him. His grip around her wrist was as unflinching as glass. There was something almost desperate in her eyes, as well as the set of his jaw and the tightness of his knuckles. It almost looked as if he were afraid he might lose her again.
Again. What a funny thing to think.
Suddenly, the Lutari turned a sharp left, dragging her along with him. Avielle ignored the pain in her shoulder and followed, noticing that the path was dwindling from cobblestone to dirt the farther that they traveled. The houses grew smaller and smaller and the gardens grew larger until, eventually, there was hardly a trace of civilization around them. Still they ran, however, even though the whistling sounds were now distant.
The Lutari chuckled slightly, and his laugh rolled into a cough as he slowed his pace, but only slightly. "I can't believe we outran them," he said, his eyes a little wild as he scanned the trees. "Of course, the fact that you could was no surprise..." He was breathing heavily now, his giant strides fading into a light jog.
Avielle moved beside him, matching his pace. Somehow she both was and wasn't surprised to find that her breathing was perfectly normal.
"What are you looking for?" she asked suddenly.
"A place to hide," he responded.
He gave her a glance, breaking his sharp gaze away from the forest. Avielle frowned, suddenly aware that she must've said something wrong. She had no idea what that was, though.
But then, a memory -- maybe hers, although by the way it moved, in almost a dreamlike manner, it could've been something stolen.
(There it was, that feeling again. Steal. Thief. Criminal.)
The memory that could've been hers was shaped like two children playing a game. One hid in places where no one could find him, while the other ran and ran like something uncatchable.
"Come on," the Lutari said, shaking Avielle from her reverie. "I think I've found a spot. Follow me."
"Okay," she said.
They started to climb...
Date: Dec 13th
...Up a large cliff that was the eastern boarder of the forest. It looked to be a hard climb. In fact, it looked to be a climb that should have been impossible without any sort of climbing gear. Granted, it wasn't a mountain in Shenkuu, but it was still a fairly steep cliff.
Then came the strange part. It should have been a hard climb, but for some reason Avielle wasn't having any problem with it at all. It was as if she had done this several times before. She couldn't remember doing anything like this previously, but it was almost a reflex, like her body was moving on its own, as though she had done this constantly.
It didn't take long before she had a good lead on the Lutari, who was having a hard time getting up the cliff. Avielle was at least twenty feet ahead of him before she even looked back to see how he was doing. He was struggling with a particularly tricky part of the cliff face, appearing as though he was about to lose his grip several times as he tried to continue the climb.
"What is it that we're climbing toward?" Avielle finally asked.
"I saw a cave a bit further up the cliff," the Lutari replied, "I didn't see any other way to it, other than climbing up or down this cliff, so it should be safe -- at least for the time being."
"How much further?" she asked.
"Not too much," he replied. "Maybe about another thirty feet for you. It'll probably take me a while, though. After all, we Lutaris are more used to water than climbing."
Avielle nodded and continued to climb up the cliff, reaching a ledge that jutted out of the rock wall and was large enough to rest on for a moment. Buried in the cliff face was the cave that the Lutari had seen. It was big enough for both of them to enter, yet it also appeared to go deeply into the cliff, as she couldn't see the back of the cave in the darkness.
Before going in, though, she stopped suddenly. A memory was returning. She remembered this cave...
Date: Dec 14th
"...Finnian," she said haltingly, trying out the name aloud. "Your name is... Finn."
Moments later, the Lutari's whiskery face appeared above the ledge, smiling brightly. "I knew you'd start to remember! The further you get from the compound, the more you should recall -- and the more your strength will return to you." He laboriously pulled himself up onto the cold stone ledge, laying there to catch his breath.
Avielle frowned, trying to conjure the dim memory tugging at the edges of her conscience. It was as though she had been dreaming, and was just now starting to wake and remember where she was. This cave, she had been here before, along with... Finnian. He had brought her here. Just like this time, she had been exhausted trying to flee... them, whoever they were... but once she got outside and started running, her fatigue was gone...
"Tell me who I am," she said, still staring into the darkness of the cave. Finn pulled himself upright, brushing snow from his white fur. He wordlessly took her hand -- gently this time, not like the vice grip from before -- and led her inside.
The cavern got colder as they walked deeper into the inky shadows. It was silent except for their soft footsteps against the stone floor. Avielle remembered the layout of this cave, knew each step without being able to see it. The last time they had been here... it had been raining, she recalled. A different season, a different time. Had Finn rescued her that time, too? And... the time before that?
With a small scratching noise, Finnian struck a match and moved it to light a torch that had been mounted on one of the cave's walls. The warm firelight filled the chamber, illuminating some sparse furnishings that included a shabby table, a rug, a dented stool, and a heap of quilts. There was a small wooden chest tucked in the corner, next to a stack of canned foods.
(Refuge... asylum... hiding place. The words made her think of criminal again -- skulking, sneaking... sanctuary against the law.)
"We should be safe here for a while, Avielle. It worked in the past, and this time I saved up more food, so we don't have to sneak into town again. I also got us disguises, so we won't be recognized so easily." Finn sat on the threadbare rug, patting the space next to him.
The Gelert stood, still feeling uneasy with her ignorance. Why couldn't she remember all of it? Also, why was Finn so intent on protecting her, hiding her away? Who was he...
Date: Dec 14th
Avielle sat down beside him. "Please," she repeated. "Tell me who I am."
Finn looked at her for a few seconds. He appeared as though he were trying to make up his mind. Finally, he asked, "How much do you remember?
"All I know is... my name. And yours."
"It's... kind of a long story," Finn sighed. "Therefore, we don't have much time to go into detail.
That town we were just in -- that's the town we used to live in together. We grew up together in that town. It was a happy and friendly place, until... they came.
They came from somewhere far away, with new and advanced technology. With it, they captured the town. Using their weapons, they threatened us if we didn't obey them. Meanwhile, they used these drills that they had to dig into the ground around the area, searching for precious metals.
Nearly everyone was too scared to do anything about it, except for a handful of us. We plotted with a few others to try and sneak into their headquarters, with hopes of stealing their plans and stopping them. Unfortunately, we failed many times. All of the others were caught, except for you and me. They're being held in the lower floors of their headquarters. On the last mission, they managed to hit you with a mind-erasing beam, while I barely escaped. I came back to get you, but I guess you managed to escape on your own. So... that's what happened." He looked cautiously at Avielle to see her reaction.
She didn't know what to think. He seemed to be telling the truth, but... she had the feeling he was leaving something out. Something important.
They suddenly heard footsteps coming up toward the cave. Big ones. Finn's eyes widened. "Oh no," he whispered. "They've found us!" A bright light shone on their faces...
Date: Dec 15th
Rough voices shouted at them from every direction.
"We see you in there! Come out!"
"There's no use hiding! Get out of there!"
Frozen with fear, Avielle got to her feet. The Lutari did the same. There was no use fighting, not when the hunters had such a large advantage over their prey. With their technology, what else could she do? Avielle slowly raised both hands in a gesture of surrender.
"Them again?" the first hunter said, turning up his nose in disgust. "How many times has this been, five?"
"Two," Finn corrected.
Someone grabbed her hands and slid a pair of metal shackles on. There was a click, and Avielle found her arms being weighed down by heavy chains and handcuffs.
"We'll need a much better place to hold you two," a third chimed in. "Those repairs cost us a fortune," he muttered, yanking on the chain to get Avielle and Finn moving. They awkwardly stumbled forward, almost falling over.
Together, they headed for the mouth of the cave. Avielle, however, barely noticed -- she was going to escape, and she had a plan...
Date: Dec 15th
Avielle, the swift runner that she was, could still sprint quickly despite the added weight. "Finn," she shouted to the Lutari as she began her flee to the cave's mouth, "Let's escape."
After a brief pause, Finn uttered a curt, "No."
No? "What do you mean no?" Avielle stopped running and faced in the direction of her supposed pal. Had she kept running, she would have been at the mouth of the cave now, though still a fifty foot drop from the ground.
"I mean, you're under arrest."
What? This Lutari was not her friend after all, after all the two had recently been through?
One of the masked "they" took the stunned Avielle and held her by her handcuffs. Another one took Finn and held his.
"Alright, now get these handcuffs off me," Finn said harshly to the "they" member holding the cuffs. "I held up my end of the bargain. I told you I was a good guy."
"No, you're scum," the Neopet said as he wrestled Finn to the floor. Finn was totally surprised and down quickly because of it. Soon, he was on the cold rocky ground, breathing heavily and badly hurt.
The members supposedly sent to arrest the two took off their masks, the faces underneath prompting another memory for the Gelert -- her past was shaping together like two separate puzzles combined... both completable, but all-the-more difficult.
Going momentarily cross-eyed, Avielle spoke in a tone so soft and comforting that the others couldn't help but cheer.
"Michael? Elizabeth? Rico?"
"She's back," Michael said, overjoyed as Avielle's puzzle nearly completed itself.
She now remembered it all. She had been the leader of the resistance, the counter to the terrible organization that sprang up seemingly overnight in their quaint little town. The company was in the field of mining, and to help its efforts enslaved the nearby civilians -- all but a select few that were too smart for the effects of their weaponry.
The resistance did numerous things that upset this grand company, from breaking their many machines that controlled those with weaker minds, to destroying their plans for construction, to stealing their many precious metals and donating them under the Money Tree, or to other down-and-out Neopians.
Thief. THIEF. "Stop, thief," the phrase uttered many times by countless guards as she did that, her agility advancing with every heist. Avielle was a thief, the thief that plagued her memories, even if her intentions for thieving were good.
She remembered more than just thieving, however. She recalled the group - herself, Michael, Elizabeth, Rico, Finn - sitting many times in this exact cave, their headquarters. Wait, Finn? Finn was a member of the resistance? Finn, the Lutari who'd tried to sell her out minutes before?
Yes, she said to herself as one of the last pieces fell into place. Finn was here. Finn was the best shot in the entire group, 98% accuracy. Finn was the one with the mind erasing ray, the one Avielle had attempted to flee from in "their" headquarters. Finn was the reason for Avielle's amnesia. That didn't make sense, though -- why would he go after her?
Posing the question to Elizabeth, who had served as the group's temporary leader, she got an answer. "The whole plot was an elaborate scheme thought up by the mining company. You were their greatest threat, their worst enemy. They had to get rid of you. They approached Finn, one of your most loyal allies, because of his great shooting accuracy, and told him that he would get to lead the more than successful company one day if he would aid in your capture. The thought of such wealth was too much for him, so he decided to do it."
Another awkward silence. Avielle stared at Finn's crumpled body and kicked it for good measure.
Elizabeth continued. "The plan was for Finn to shoot you with a mind erasing beam, something the guards could never do, take the amnesia-effected you to a secret location -- our old HQ was chosen -- allowing 'them' to silence you once and for all."
"How did you guys escape?" Avielle asked her new-found companions.
"That's not important right now," Rico said hastily. "But, following that magnificent story, of which I played a major role," he declared, smiling with self-satisfaction, "we found the plans regarding you and Finn. Thank Fyora we got here before the real 'they' did..."
Date: Dec 16th
She was thankful, but she couldn't shake the feeling that something was not right. Avielle looked at Finn, unsure of what she felt. He couldn't have sold her out, could he?
She hauled the Lutari up to his feet. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?" she asked. She felt the anger bubbling up within her. She could have lost entire parts of her memory because of him, because he sold her out.
Finn coughed, and his head lolled until he looked her in the eyes. He whispered something too soft to hear. "What?" Avielle growled.
"What?" she repeated. Avielle had no idea what Finn meant, but she had no time to find out, as one of her comrades let loose a desperate cry.
At the bottom of the cliff was a line of "them." They threw dark, mechanical ropes into the air and sharp metal hooks penetrated the rock wall with a sickening sound. They began a quick ascent, moving faster than Avielle had climbed minutes before. She looked around to Rico, Elizabeth, and Michael, but they stared blankly back at her. She was the leader, but she had no idea what to do. She couldn't remember any places to run or ways to fight them off. She didn't know what to do.
"Duck." Finn rasped again. Avielle heard him and a memory came back to her mind. That same word meant something more.
"Duck!" Avielle yelled and her team followed her order, diving into the cave. Avielle grabbed Finn and dragged him with them. She collapsed into the cave, sprawling onto her back. From where she lay, she could see a stick of lit dynamite wedged in a crack near the mouth of the cave.
The rock shattered with a deafening sound that vibrated Avielle's teeth so hard her vision blurred. When the dust cleared, Avielle saw a hand offering to help her up.
Together they found the rest of the team and pulled themselves through the jagged tunnel of light that the mouth of the cave had become.
The explosion had caused a rock slide that broke away most of the cliff face. Looking down, Avielle could see the ropes and hooks, but no "them." It was as if they had vanished into thin air.
She turned to Finn and saw the wide grin across his face and she remembered. She remembered how they'd infiltrated the headquarters of "them" together and how Finn had carried with him a stolen mind-erasing beam. They were to find the leader and erase his memory, in the hope that they would leave if they no longer knew of the town's precious metals. They had found the leader and Finn took aim, but he had 98% percent accuracy... and Avielle just happened to be part of the other 2%. She remembered the last word he had said before the beam hit her:
Avielle smiled at him. "I knew you couldn't be bad."
He smiled back and put his arm around her shoulders. "I knew you'd start to remember."
Note: due to the short week coming up and the office closure the following week, there will be no Storytelling Contest for the next two weeks. The contest will return with another adventure on Monday, January 2nd. Have a happy holiday; see you next year!
Date: Dec 16th
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