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||You are on Week 541
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 Forty One Ends Friday, February 3
|The best night of my life had started out ordinarily enough. I found myself sitting at Grundos Cafe again, where I always came after a hard day of working as a janitor on the Virtupets Space Station. As I morosely picked at my Chicken Cordon Bleu, I wondered if I was the most miserable Grundo in all of Neopia. I had to be.
Sure, you could say that I was just one of millions of little green Grundos trying to live their lives after the defeat of Dr. Sloth. I didn't want that, though. I wanted to be special. I wanted to make something of myself. I wanted to get out of this Space Station and see the world! This meaningless job couldn't possibly be all that I'm meant for.
I watched as Gargarox, the Grundo Chef, handed a hot plate of food to the Kacheek sitting next to me. I envied that large Grundo a lot. He was famous. He got to do the things that he loved! Why couldn't I be like that?
As I mulled all this over, pushing the food around on my plate, I heard a shout from behind me.
"Max!" my friend Zordon yelled, who was running toward me as quick as lightning.
"What is it?" I asked, getting up and leaving my untouched food.
"Oh, Max, I'm glad I found you!" Zordon said, talking very quickly, "You've got to come to the Grundo Warehouse right away!"
"Why? Is there a spill?" I asked, "You know I'm off duty."
"No!" Zordon said, grabbing my arm and dragging me along, "It's not that! Just hurry!"
I began to run after him, wondering what I would find when we got there...
Date: Jan 30th
...We gathered a few odd stares from some of the Space Station's other visitors as Max practically dragged me across the Recreation Deck toward the Supply Deck.
"Watch where you're going!" an Aisha shouted out after we nearly ran her over.
"Sorry!" I shouted back, still being pulled and unable to properly apologize. "Goodness, Zordon!" I said, turning back to him. "What's so important that we're nearly running over everyone?"
"You'll soon find out," he said with a grin as the lock opened, leading us to the Supply Deck.
There was a flurry of work going on, with several Grundos carrying out various jobs as their shifts started. A few I recognized, but with as many visitors on the station as there were, most were just faces in the crowd.
Moments later, we were overlooking the Grundo Warehouse, watching as a collection of crates and boxes was being moved about.
"Okay," I said, "So what is so drastically important?"
"Check out who's here!" he shot back, pointing toward the back part of the warehouse.
I had to squint to see that far, but I looked in the direction that he was pointing. At first I only saw boxes and more Grundos working, but then I saw what -- or rather, who -- he wanted me to see.
Anyone who had been on the Space Station in recent years would have been able to spot that blue Acara anywhere, just from reputation alone. "No way..." I started, "It's..."
"Ylana Skyfire!" Zordon finished for me. "I know. I couldn't believe it at first, but that's definitely her!"
"What's she doing back here, though?" I asked.
"I don't know," Zordon replied. "I came to get you as soon as I saw her."
"Ylana Skyfire..." I thought. Another one who got to go out beyond the station. Another one who lived their life the way they wanted. Meanwhile, here I was, having had to clean up a spill of Garthroxian Goo not more then an hour ago.
"To live a life like hers..." I mumbled, when another thought suddenly struck my mind.
"Hey..." I said softly, "If she's here, then who do you think is watching her ship?"
Zordon looked over at me. "I don't know," he said. "Why? What are you suggesting?"
I grinned at the thought. This might be my ticket off of the Space Station. "Wanna check it out?" I asked.
Zordon seemed surprised by my sudden assertiveness. "Why?" he asked.
"Come on," I said, grabbing his arm. It was now my turn to drag him across the Space Station. "What's the worst that could happen?"
Little did I know that we would soon find out...
Date: Jan 30th
...To be honest, I can't claim that I had truly thought this matter through as I rushed toward the docking bay with Zordon in tow. Even the youngest child upon the Space Station knew of Ylana. Her tales were legendary, and only a fool would do anything to incur her wrath.
Yet, here I was, running to her ship as if I was hurrying to my destiny.
The docking bay wasn't busy at the moment I arrived, and it only took me a second to find Ylana's ship. Just as I had suspected, it was left unguarded and alone -- shimmering in the cold lights of the bay like a lost jewel of a forgotten treasure. Slowly, as if in a dream, I brought my hand up to touch the smooth surface of the exterior as I gazed at my reflection in the shiny metal. The eyes of the Grundo looking back at me sparkled with excitement, and the look upon his face was one of joyful disbelief.
"What are we doing?" Zordon asked, his voice briefly bringing me back to reality. "If Ylana catches us--"
"She's not going to catch us," I interrupted, "Don't you see? This is our chance! Haven't you ever dreamed of what life is like beyond the Space Station?"
He looked at me oddly. "Not really," he admitted.
"Well I have," I said, "And I'm not going to let this opportunity pass me up." Without another word, I walked around to the side of the ship and opened the door.
Inside, there were multiple lights that seemed to blink in a rhythmic, calming manner. For the first time since this insane plan had hatched within my mind, I felt just a touch of hesitation. I had never flown any sort of ship before, and this one seemed to be a custom job. Frowning slightly, I began to examine one of the control panels.
The door that I had just shut suddenly opened. I jumped at first, but saw it was only Zordon. "Changed your mind?" I asked.
He shook his head, and that's when I noticed how pale he was. "Ylana's coming this way," he whispered...
Date: Jan 31st
..."Well, how close is she?" I asked Zordon, now as pale white with fear as a marshmallow Grundo.
Zordon did not have to respond for my question to be answered, however, as at that moment the famous figure of Ylana Skyfire turned around the corner.
As soon as my eyes met her, I ducked, shoving Zordon down with me.
"Do you think she saw us?" I asked my companion in a whisper.
"I hope not," he responded back sheepishly. "The windows are tinted and the light isn't good, so--"
"So probably not then," I interrupted.
There was a hesitation from Zordon. "How are we going to leave here?"
"Are you serious?" I hissed at him, though in retrospect I was likely the one who wasn't thinking straight. "If we leave now, there's no chance we'll make it out without Ylana catching us. There's only one way out."
Zordon looked at me with a mixture of disgust and disbelief. "Do you mean we're going to steal this ship?"
I shrugged and smiled weakly. "Got a better idea?" I asked him. Without waiting for a response, I hastily uttered, "No. This is the only way out that won't ensure our demise, and even then it's unlikely we'll come out of this in one piece."
Still crouched in an awkward position, I lifted my arm above to the control panels. "Which one is the on button?" I inquired.
"Look," Zordon responded slowly, his voice thick with irritation, "neither you nor I have ever been in a craft as complex as this. Neither you nor I have ever driven a craft as complex as this. Neither you nor I have ever been out of the Space Station, for that matter."
I realized that he had been right, and that the likelihood of us being able to successfully fly the ship out of here was virtually zero. I sighed and agreed with him. Together, still huddled beneath the control deck, we waited in silence for our inevitable doom...
Until a thought struck me.
"Zordon!" I exclaimed in an excited whisper. "Follow me!"
I started crawling around the seats and toward the back of the ship where cargo was typically held. After a few feet of crawling I realized that Zordon wasn't behind me.
"Zordon!" I hissed at him. "Hurry up!"
He had been reluctant to go, as he thought the notion of hiding in the cargo bay even more ludicrous than piloting the ship itself. "You want to be in the back of a ship belonging to Ylana Skyfire with the Acara herself at the helm?"
"Just come!" I shot back as I continued my traverse to the back. I smiled when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Zordon following just as I entered the back storage area.
I frowned, frightened out of my wits when I heard the door open.
"Well, what's this?" the familiar voice of Ylana rang out as she grabbed hold of something and lifted it up by its collar. "And who might you be?"
She had gotten Zordon. Oh dear, she had Zordon.
"Zordon?" Zordon said sheepishly.
"Well, Zordon," Ylana continued, "I've got a place for conniving little snoops like you." She threw my companion onto the adjacent seat, pressing a button on a control panel on her wrist. Peeking out from under the back seat, I saw a force-field materialize around Zordon; he was trapped, his only way out requiring the pressing of that button again, I presumed.
The ship started when Ylana pressed a different button on her wrist panel. I carefully noted it, should I have needed to start the vehicle in the future.
So then, just like that, we were off... Ylana at the controls, Zordon trapped in the passenger seat, and I in the back, hoping that -- wherever we were headed -- I could somehow figure out a way to save my friend from his otherwise certain doom...
Date: Jan 31st
..."You're lucky I have things to do," Ylana said. "Otherwise I would not be so courteous."
She shot Zordon a glare that could wilt Starflowers. He seemed to shrink in his cage of light, his eyes as wide as saucers. Even I, safe and out of sight in my hiding spot, could not help but wither at the intensity of her gaze.
Even so, my heart was pounding, my breathing was light and quick, and I could not deny the exhilaration racing through my veins. This was it. This was my adventure.
Ylana pressed several more buttons, then placed her hands on the wheel and proceeded to steer the ship. I tried to memorize her movements as best as I could, but from this distance I could not see everything, and I dared not draw any closer.
Eventually, hours passed. Time became heavy. Ylana's movements faded into predictable sequences and I lost interest in studying her. Zordon appeared to be sleeping, although for all I knew he could've been pretending.
I tried my best not to be bored. Believe me, I did, but my gaze caved toward wandering, and I found myself intrigued by the boxes stacked in storage area. Some carried food and water, but there were other crates that gave no indication of what they were holding. I entertained myself by imagining what was inside them. Weapons, perchance. Maybe she was smuggling Petpets to distant planets, or perhaps these boxes contained a sort of space treasure...
All ridiculous ideas, of course, but what else is one to do while waiting for things to happen? My nerves were wired, and I threw myself into whatever distraction I could find before I succumbed to the finger-tapping tic of tedium.
But then, as if answering my need for something -- anything -- to happen, I heard...
Date: Feb 1st
...an incoming transmission through the ship's loudspeaker. "Ylana, I need a status update on the shipment."
Something about the voice really struck a chord with me. I knew for certain that I had heard the voice somewhere before; I just couldn't quite put my finger on it.
"I've got the package," Ylana responded as she felt around her neck and produced a small amulet. "Are you sure this is what we've been looking for? It wasn't even well guarded like you said it would be."
The familiar voice continued, "We will know soon enough. How close are you?"
At that moment, there was a sudden, terrible explosion that violently shook the ship. The cargo area quickly became a chaotic mess. A heavy crate fell on my foot, and it took everything in me to keep from yelling out.
"I've gotta go," Ylana said calmly before ending the transmission. She then flipped a switch and punched the accelerator. The ship went flying at warp speed, adding to the fury of the cargo hull. I tumbled among broken boxes and spilled equipment like the well-mixed contents of a blender, until coming to a hard stop against the back wall.
A flash of light caught my peripheral vision and, as I turned to see what it was, I noticed a small viewing porthole. The light was coming from outside. I peeked through the window and saw, to my dismay, the cause of the sudden disturbance...
Date: Feb 1st
..."What in the name of Dr. Sloth was that?" Ylana muttered as she got up from her seat and opened the doors. "Who was that blasting at me?!?"
Through the window, I could see a very large, very intimidating mutant Grundo. He was dressed in an official-looking uniform, shiny shoes and all, and seemed to yell his words.
"What are you doing?" he demanded. "Who are you?"
Ylana feigned innocence. "Who, me?" She gave a small laugh.
"There doesn't appear to be anyone else here," the Grundo said.
I smiled to myself. Oh, if only he knew.
"What do you have in your ship?"
"Deliveries," Ylana answered. "I'm bringing a few things to a friend on Kreludor."
"I'm afraid we'll have to inspect your cargo hold," he said. "New regulations."
My previous dismay now turned into panic. If he caught me... I tried not to think of what would happen if he did.
"Why have I not heard of these... 'new regulations?'" A hint of anger had crept into Ylana's voice.
"They're new regulations," the Grundo said. "Now, if you'll open the hatch, I'll need to do a thorough search of your--"
"Just let me clean up a bit," Ylana said. "It's a wreck in there, thanks to you and your explosions..."
As she left, though, I saw the Grundo reach into his pocket and bring out a transmitting device, which he spoke through...
"Yeah, I have her. She's carrying suspicious cargo... no, I don't know what it is..."
A plot against Ylana Skyfire, maybe?
I didn't have time to think about it too much, as her footsteps were growing louder...
Date: Feb 2nd
...Glancing frantically around, I spotted an overhead locker and quickly climbed into it. Being a rather dexterous Grundo since my youth, it was no problem for me to make the quick getaway.
To my surprise, I found it to actually be quite roomy. Taking care not to make any noise, I shifted some items around and accidentally stuck my hand in an opened Can of Pickled Spinach. Grimacing at the goo coating my fingers, I suddenly caught sight of the same blank, unmarked boxes.
Once again my curiosity had been piqued. Just as I had crawled toward the boxes, however, the door suddenly opened with a bang. I felt my heart leap to my throat and, startled, I fell to the side.
Thanking Sloth that I had moved far enough away from the door, I heard that voice yell out, "What's in here Ylana?"
Quite calmly, I heard her reply. "Just some luggage. Are you quite done with your search?"
Suddenly I heard the hacking of a cough coming from the Grundo. I'd forgotten! Mutant Neopets absolutely hated pickled spinach; the smell was enough to make them nauseous, and even cause some of them to faint.
Ylana must have known that she would be searched. I guessed that some of the boxes were filled with that rancid Gross Food item.
"Yes, well, everything seems to be in order," the Grundo said with another cough. He slowly backed out of the ship, dazed and preoccupied with his sudden wheezing.
I suddenly knew what that amulet was and the voice that had come from the transmission. Breathing out a gasp, I realized it was Grimilix. They must be trying to quietly plan a revolt!
Grimilix's Amulet was the rather unremarkable piece that Ylana wore around her neck. A rather nice defensive piece of magic, us Grundos had thought it lost since the defeat of Dr. Sloth.
Finally opening a box, I saw multitudes of space weaponry. Grabbing a Virtublaster 5000 and a couple of Meteor Bombs, I crept back to the locker door and slipped out to the main ship, where Ylana was busy with her controls again. "Yes I'm here, you oaf," she was saying impatiently. "That idiotic Grundo wouldn't leave the ship. Landing. Over."
She slipped Grimilix's Amulet off her neck and, with a pneumatic "hissss," the ship's door opened. Her eyes widened.
Ylana Skyfire had walked straight into a trap. The Grundo official must've been a stand over to the real officials that awaited her and held Grimilix hostage. She gasped as they rushed at her.
Thinking quickly, I threw a Meteor Bomb at the fleet. In a quick flash, the Grundo army was thrown back and immobilized. Ylana grabbed Grimilix and rushed back into the ship.
By that point, I had taken over the controls with dexterity and launched the ship back off the ground before those officials had had time to fire at us.
The Acara and Grimilix turned to stare at me. "Who in Sloth's name are you?" Ylana asked.
I grinned. "I believe I'm the one that just rescued you both from capture and trial."
I felt elated. This was exactly the kind of adventure I had wanted. Frowning, Ylana opened her mouth and said...
Date: Feb 2nd
..."Yes, but WHO ARE YOU?!?"
"My name's Max. I'm here to rescue you," I said, hoping she would believe me. The idea had suddenly dawned on me. My chances of not being thrown off the ship would greatly increase if I pretended to be from her side.
"You were sent by Abrielle?" she asked questioningly.
"Yes. She had information that you were going to be ambushed, so she sent me to rescue you," I said. So, it wasn't Grimilix that was behind all of this, but rather someone named Abrielle I deduced.
"I don't suppose that Grundo over there has anything to do with you..." she said, pointing toward Zordon.
"Yes, he's here to help me." I said. This was my chance to save Zordon and I wasn't going to let it go.
"Well, then, why didn't he just say so? Free him, Grimilix," she ordered while moving to take back the ship's controls.
"I suppose he's just new to this, I guess... he'll catch on," I said. Zordon soon joined me; he was still shivering. The others, presuming it to be from nerves because he was new at the job, just ignored him.
Ylana took her amulet again and began speaking through it. "Hello, Abrielle? We have the package. Thank you for sending the Grundo."
My heart beat fast. What was going to happen if Abrielle said that she hadn't sent any Grundo? Zordon looked at me with a scared face. I waited for a reply.
Abrielle then spoke...
Date: Feb 3rd
…and, immediately, my heart sunk. Past my stomach, past my boots, down to the deckplates and beyond; if I lived long enough, this would teach me not to make assumptions.
Abrielle wasn't a she.
"Grundo, eh?" came the gruff voice over the speaker.
My face must have reflected just how horrified I felt; Ylana laughed.
"Don’t worry boss, bringing him in now. I have a pair of them actually, but don’t judge yet. If it weren't for them we'd be toast right now," she said, smirking at me. My face felt ashen and my hands were cold; at her words, I released a deep breath that I hadn't even realized I was holding.
The Acara ended the conversation with a click. "All right, so now that we clearly know where we stand..." she trailed off, smirking at me.
I gulped, the sound echoing ridiculously in the small space. For his part, Zordon looked as if he might faint.
Grimilix, silent until then, rolled his eyes at both of us. "So, who are you really?" he asked drolly. Whereas humour sparkled in Ylana's eyes, he looked decidedly unamused.
Now breathing regularly, I struggled to regain my composure for a moment before answering. I stared at her a moment, trying to decide what to say. Surprisingly, though, it was Zordon who spoke up first.
"He's someone who has idolised you for as long as I can remember," he told her quietly, truth ringing in his sincerity.
"Idolised me, so... he stowed away on my ship?" she asked, still smirking.
As if her statement had removed a barrier from my throat, I found words pouring out faster than I could contain them, overflowing until I could barely pause for breath -- the urge to explain was all-consuming. I found myself telling her about how dull my life had been, how unfulfilled I felt. I confessed the horror of an aimless life and the drudgery of janitorial work. Without stopping to think, I professed the conviction that I had the ability to do more than clean up spills and mop floors, that I had something more to contribute to the world than following behind to deal with messes.
At the last, Ylana smirked again. "Well, you cleaned up that one pretty well," she murmured, humour still sparkling in her eyes. Grimilix rolled his eyes again.
Finally, the words stopped and I took a deep breath. I looked down at my hands, now contritely folded on my lap, as I endured the stare of the legendary Acara in front of me. My life -- and Zordon’s, to my chagrin -- were in her hands now. It was unnerving to realise that she could throw us out the airlock and it might be weeks before anyone thought to look for us... even not showing up for work would earn annoyance and no more.
Fortunately, as the old Shenkuu saying went, fortune favours the bold (or possibly the stupid -- I never was good at foreign studies), and it wasn't long before Ylana Skyfire favoured me with a wry smile.
"You've got guts, kid. I'll give you that. C'mon, I think you need to meet Abrielle. He," she said, smiling and emphasising his name just slightly, "Will be very interested in meeting you."
My insides turned icy again, and panic must have shown on my face, because she laughed again. "Don't worry. You saved my skin tonight... I'm sure I can return the favour."
She was right, of course. Abrielle had turned out to be an unassuming little Aisha. He didn't have a whole lot to say, but he listened attentively as my unexpected benefactor relayed the account of our adventure. At the end, he simply asked if she'd stake her reputation on me. When she nodded, he shrugged.
"So be it, Skyfire. You've got yourself a rookie," he said, and then glanced at Zordon.
"A pair," she corrected him, sticking up for my buddy, too.
He shrugged again. "Whatever. Get them outfitted. Now," he said, turning his attention away from us and toward Grimilix, "Tell me about the next step with the medallion."
Clearly, we'd been dismissed. We weren't going to get to hear about the epic medallion Ylana and Grimilix had, uh... liberated... but I was okay with that. It was the best night of my life, but even I knew they weren't going to trust me completely yet. Everybody started somewhere; after all, hadn't I been a janitor only the day before? This, I knew, was only the beginning, and I could not have been happier.
As for Zordon, well... he won't admit it, but I'm pretty sure he's happier, too.
Date: Feb 3rd
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