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||You are on Week 608
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 Six Hundred Eight Ends Friday, May 31
|Dusk fell upon the marble building as the security guards clanked the steel doors shut. The lights inside the windows dimmed. Burly guards stood attentively at the cream white columns, batons ready and weapons a finger's width away.
The National Neopian Bank was closing for the evening.
As the last orange-red rays of the setting sun peeked across the cityscape, a bulgy shadow darted into an alleyway across the street, unnoticed.
The Yurble's red eyes narrowed as he peered from behind the abandoned trashcans in the alley. Even in the night, the majestic bank stood like a block of pearl. Its stately presence seemed to taunt him, as it had for the last 10 years.
He remembered the days when he had his own office within the stately building. Leather seat, ornate writing desk, and fountain pens. The managers had all liked him, and the bank owner had respected him deeply. However, his one trait soon steered them away: his domineering thirst for justice.
The Yurble shook his head angrily as he recalled the dozens of clients who had cleverly evaded taxes throughout the years. Loopholes, evasion, and pure wit had freed them from their obligatory dues while others paid the fees. The Yurble couldn't stand it. He resorted to taking justice into his own paws, earning himself a notorious nickname... the Tax Beast.
Now he crouched gazing at the marble estate where he'd once worked. The bank had fired him for his actions, but now... "They will pay," he growled to himself. "They will all pay..."
Date: May 28th
"Okay, give me a chance. I bet I can win."
"We're supposed to be guarding the bank, Garrh."
"Yeah, I know, but it's getting boring, and we're only the back-ups. We don't even do anything important. Right, Lou?" the burly Grarrl asked. The blue Hissi, Lou, who was nowhere near as intimidating as his companions Garrh and Rodge, startled at the question.
"Huh? Right. Important," he said, nodding to himself.
"No, nothing important," the red Grarrl repeated. "So 'I Spy' is a go, right?"
"No," Rodge said. The camouflage Lupe glared at him. "Could you take this seriously for once? Security jobs are important, especially for the bank. NO MATTER if we're only back-ups."
Distraught, Garrh waved his hand around. "Yeah yeah yeah..."
"Do you hear something?" Lou asked suddenly. Rodge's ears twitched -- he had the best hearing of the three, and could easily tell if something was, indeed, occurring.
"It sounds like the turning of screws," he finally said. He huffed. "Odd. I'll go check it out."
"Nothing is the matter! Nothing is ever the matter," Garrh lamented, looking to the ceiling in boredom. "All work and no play makes me a dull Grarrl!"
"Quiet," Rodge said, heading out. "I'll go see if I can find what's making that sound. Stay here, alright?"
"Rodger dodger, Rodge," Lou said, a tad nervously.
Rodge let his ears guide him as he carefully tiptoed through the dark halls of the bank. After hours, with the lights out and no one in sight, it almost reminded him of a haunted house.
He heard a sharp clang as something metal dropped. Looking up, he'd barely had a second to notice that someone had, in fact, entered the bank before he blacked out from a massive punch to the face...
Date: May 28th
...The gigantic Chia attached to the fist that had encountered Rodge's face took a step back and beamed expectantly.
"Tuborr do good?" he asked.
"Yes," a silky voice answered as an Acara stepped out from behind Tuborr. "Tuborr did very good. There are two more guards, I think. Once we deal with them, the bank will be ours!"
"Masila give Tuborr Chia pop then?" Tuborr asked.
"Yes," the Acara answered with a sigh. "Then you can have a Chia pop."
It had been a stroke of luck, encountering the lumbering Chia. He was one of the few members of the Thieves Guild stupid enough to think she was still a member. With his help, Masila would be able to pull off the greatest heist of all time.
A list. That was all he needed. Just a little list of names.
Only it wouldn't be so little. The years the Tax Beast had spent away from the bank had led to tax evasion becoming commonplace. The bank held records on every transaction. There, in the manager's office, would be a master list.
The name of every single victim the Tax Beast would ever need.
If he remembered correctly, there was a loose window clasp on the third floor... silently he began to climb, his claws digging deep into the masonry to give him purchase. Reaching the third floor, he opened the window and squeezed himself inside.
There, in the darkness, he breathed in the smell of the bank. The stench of money, the smell he missed so dearly, assaulted him.
Something was wrong, though. There were new smells in the bank...
Date: May 29th
...The Yurble then heard noises coming from a nearby distance and slowly crept his way closer and closer to the ruckus.
"Put him with the others," Masila ordered as she lit a candle, illuminating the hallway of vaults in front of her. "First, though, throw me his keys."
Tuborr reached for the keys from Rodge's belt. As he picked them up they made a jingle, putting a smile on the Chia's horribly mutated face. He continued to rattle the keys as loudly as he could while excitedly stomping around, doing so in such a triumphant manner that the entire floor shook.
"Tuborr, you fool!" the Acara shouted. "Stop that now! Toss those keys to me this instant or no Chia pop for you!"
The Chia immediately sulked, but obeyed his orders almost without another thought. He threw her the keys as he grabbed the security guard and dragged him away down a dark corridor.
With the keys finally in hand, Masila began to walk to the first vault at the other end of the hallway. Just as she reached the vault, she shifted her eyes toward the corner on her left.
As she turned herself toward the vault door in the opposite direction, she whispered to herself, "Amateur." The Acara then ambiguously spoke aloud. "You know, if you're trying to sneak up on someone, the goal is to not be seen."
Startled, the Tax Beast slowly came out of lurking from behind the shadowy corner. Masila gave the stern-faced Yurble a smirk of self-satisfaction as the two partook in a stare down of authority.
"So, what brings you here?" Masila slyly asked.
"I should be asking you the same question," the Tax Beast said. "Who are you? Why are you here?"
"Does it really matter? I mean, we both just broke into a bank."
"It does matter, because I am here for justice. What are you trying to do here?"
Masila paused as she collected her thoughts for a moment. "Listen," she said. "I know who you are. I know what you do, and if you're willing to cooperate, I think I can help you."
Although still uneasy, the Tax Beast was reluctantly intrigued. "What do you mean?"
"You said you're here for justice. What do you mean by that?" she asked.
"I'm here to find a list of everyone that has evaded taxes, so I can find them and punish them," he replied.
"Well, I can tell you that there is an entire group missing from that list that is probably more deserving of being punished than anyone you have ever caught -- a group that handles more money than you could imagine, which is so far off the radar that even the bank can't track their transactions," she said.
The Yurble's interest was piqued to the extreme. The idea that an underground group like this could exist drove him mad. Evading taxes, avoiding fees, all without penalty... what had this world come to? However, he was plagued with the dilemma of having to decide if this Acara was to be trusted...
Date: May 29th
..."So, how about we make a deal?" Masila said. "We both finish up here, each accomplishing what we have in mind, and once we're done, I give you the group and you go about on your merry way. I get the Neopoints, you get justice."
The Tax Beast growled a bit. He didn't like how she was trying to take charge of things like that. "And if I refuse?" he asked.
"We all know you won't," Masila sneered, "but if you're that foolish, then Tuborr here will make sure you won't talk."
The Tax Beast looked over to the large Chia. He still seemed to be sulking, but getting into a fight with the dumb muscle did not seem like his idea of a good time. It would only slow down his quest for justice.
"Fine," the Tax Beast said, "just don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
"I knew you'd see things my way," Masila said. "Alright, first things first. You and Tuborr here, start clearing out this vault. I'm not really built for manual labor, so I'll go hunt down this list you're looking for."
"Fine, but how do I know I can trust you?" The Tax Beast said.
"Easy. You can't. You're just going to have to take my word for it."
She gave a quick smile and nodded to her hulking Chia henchman and headed back to the vault, unlocking the massive metal door. Tuborr took a few lumbering steps toward it and pulled the vault door open. Millions upon millions of Neopoints shone like the sun, even in the low light of the bank vault.
"Alright, you two," the Acara thief said. "Get as much as you can. In the meantime, I'll go get that list you want."
Masila snuck off into the shadows, a grin on her face. Perfect... she thought to herself. This is the best revenge against the Thieves Guild...
Rodge slowly started to regain consciousness. It felt like he had Novas circling his head. He shook his head for a moment to clear out some of the cobwebs, and then he realized what had happened.
Robbers! he thought to himself. I need to warn the others...
Date: May 30th
Masila's forces had taken out Rodge, by far the most powerful and courageous of the three bumbling guards.
Now that Tuborr and the Tax Beast were harvesting bank funds, the Acara had time to... investigate. Yes, the extra cash would be nice, but housed deep within the bank's interior was a room filled with what she intended to steal.
She practically drooled over the room's contents. Priceless paintings, stacks of bullion... and, perhaps most importantly, a ring of unholy power once in possession by none other than the infamous Sway.
There was just a small matter she had to deal with first... well, two small matters.
Rodge tiptoed through the empty corridors. His fellow guards seemed to have abandoned him... or had they succumbed to a worse fate?
His eyes darted nervously through what had become a dark battlefield. "Hello?" he sheepishly whispered. "Is anyone there?"
The Lupe had become a bank guard for the excitement, for the glory -- but oh, what he wouldn't give at that moment to be laying in his warm bed, totally unconnected to the situation.
Masila had fled down numerous flights of stairs to reach the sacred room.
She endeavored to open it...
Rodge turned a corner and heard a muffled cry. Running into one of the side rooms, he was relieved to find the other two.
That's when fear gripped him as he realized they were tied up and gagged.
Hurriedly, he freed them.
"Thanks," Garrh said. "Now," he continued, "we didn't see who tied us up -- we were surprised attacked and immediately blindfolded -- but we heard the perp's voice."
"Yeah," Lou agreed. "That voice. I would swear it belonged to..."
Date: May 30th
Rodge frowned. "Tuborr? I remember him. Not the brightest guard around, but he was a nice guy. He loved his Chia Pops. I haven't seen him in a long time, not since he got fired. Do you really think it could have been him?"
Garrh looked grim. "More likely than not, he got tricked into whatever this is. He was always a bit soft in the head, bless his heart... but yeah, it was definitely him."
The three guards shared a long look.
"Come on," Lou said. "We've got to go catch these robbers before anything else happens."
"They could be anywhere," Garrh lamented.
Rodge grinned. "Come on, Garrh. Where else would a thief be headed? They're going to the vaults. Let's go."
"Rodger dodger, Rodge."
The Tax Beast frowned as he shoveled Neopoints into a sack. This was just... wrong, all kinds of wrong. Theft and tax evasion were not precisely the same things, maybe, but tax evasion was a form of theft, and he felt like he was going against everything he stood for, the precious justice he strove for, by playing along with the Acara's plan. Those who operated outside the system, who claimed riches that weren't theirs -- they were all scum. What had he sunk to by doing this? An uneasy feeling clawed at his gut.
But the authorities were there to stop thieves -- and return wealth to corrupt officials, who would then continue to evade the fees they were sworn to pay. He punished tax evaders because nobody else would.
This Acara had promised him a list that would further his advances... although, how did she know where it was? It was awfully convenient. He glanced at the hulking Chia, who was happily hefting armfuls of Neopoints into a bag.
"What does your master want?" he asked the Chia. Tuborr didn't seem like the sharpest marble in the socket, and he might be able to get some information out of him.
"Masila good friend!" the Chia said happily. "Tuborr help Masila, get Chia pop!"
The Tax Beast froze. Masila! How had he not recognized her? The Acara was positively infamous among the right circles... and she was on his list.
This changed things.
Masila smiled to herself as she removed her lockpick from the vault's keyhole. Slowly, almost prophetically, the door swung open before her.
Gems. Thousands upon thousands of gleaming gems. Gold bars, stacked high to the ceiling. Priceless paintings -- originals, no doubt -- stacked against each other like a child's Neoschool art projects. Rare and treasured items -- morphing potions, a few pieces of Battledome gear, artifacts even she didn't recognize.
All of these would have been enough to bring a tear to her eye on any other day (followed by indiscriminate looting), but for now, she only had eyes for one thing -- the small, almost innocuous ring that rested upon a tiny table.
The Tax Beast had been an unexpected hitch in the plan, but he would be dealt with easily. She’d just write down a few of the prominent Thieves Guild members on a sheet of paper on her way out -- Kanrik would be at the top of the list -- and that would be enough to placate him. Then she could take Tuborr and go.
Masila reached out to take her target. She'd pocket a few of the smaller things, too, but mostly she'd have to be pleased with Tuborr's haul. There just wasn't enough time.
Unfortunately, in her eagerness, Masila made one dire, amateur mistake. The sort of mistake only the youngest and most unseasoned of thieves commit.
Always check for booby traps...
Date: May 31st
There was no way he would work with Masila now. No, she probably would have just given him a list of random Thieves Guild members -- he knew of all these names, yet it would not help, ultimately. That was just the thing -- he KNEW OF them, yet did not know anything about them.
He stared emptily at the coins.
The Tax Beast then told Tuborr he was going for a small walk.
Upon his exit, he reflected... was Masila really that bad? She was a tax evader, yes, but so were the corrupt -- which, really, was all of the -- officials. The more Masila took, the less these officials would be left with -- could this, in a strange, roundabout way, be seen kind of like... taxing them?
He shook himself.
Staring at the sacks full of Neopoints in hand, he walked away.
So, he had the big executives covered, but what about the lesser evaders?
He continued toward his old cubicle, whereupon he rifled through a file cabinet until he found a list of names. The Tax Beast grinned.
Unnoticed, he slipped through the window.
Alarms sounded. Bells rang.
"What's going on?" Lou inquired nervously. Robbers had been caught before around important sections of the bank -- especially the main vaults -- but never before had an alarm signaled their entry.
"I have no idea," Garrh agreed. His eyes then widened. "Unless... the legends are true."
"Of course they're true!" Rodge exclaimed. "Maybe a bit exaggerated, but the rare artifacts room was definitely constructed as part of the original bank." Despite being a mere "back-up," the Lupe had been a quick study, whose knowledge of the interior was rapidly gaining respect -- he'd even gone so far as to carefully study the building's blueprints, and was confident that knew the place better than anyone... well, save maybe this robber. "Still, its contents are far more valuable than all of the Neopoints in the vaults."
Shortly thereafter, they agreed to split up. Rodge would pursue the legendary room, and the others would enter the vaults -- just to make sure nothing terrible was occurring there.
How could I have been so stupid? Masila asked herself.
The Acara had thought everything out so well. Masila had gone back to Tuborr and ensured he would go and knock out the other guards before returning to the vault unnoticed. She had located a piece of paper and a writing utensil to create the eventual list... her "two small matters"... yet it was something completely trivial that made the largest dent in her plan.
She had to flee, didn't she? Yet there was the ring... the powerful, majestic piece of jewelry so sought after.
Masila scowled. She had already set the alarms -- she might as well take what she could and run... and hope a guard wasn't already hot on her trail.
Garrh entered the vaults first. There Tuborr was, randomly filling sacks with Neopoints. "Hi!" he called out to his former teammates. "I fill sacks. Masila give me Chia pop."
The two guards exchanged smiles.
"Thanks, Tuborr, but you can stop now," Lou started. "Then, we'll give you all the Chia Pops you could want..."
Masila dashed up the staircase, ring on her finger and a sack of assorted treasure in her hand.
That's when she heard a voice coming from someone descending the stairs.
"I wonder if the others found anything in the vaults," the voice mused aloud.
She froze. Taking out the ring, she mentally commanded it to... do anything!
She then saw the Lupe approach her... and casually walk by her.
Masila then realized that it had turned her invisible.
Smirking, she ran up the rest of the stairs.
The Tax Beast was nowhere to be found. Neither was Tuborr. The alarms had put the place on lockdown, and there was police outside.
Masila wondered how long the ancient ring's power would last...
The Tax Beast walked away happily.
A shady figure passed by him.
His grin widened as he checked the list, and he casually followed the stranger.
"EXCUSE ME," the Yurble yelled at him, "but I do believe you've not been paying your taxes..."
Date: Jun 1st
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