Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)
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||You are on Week 830
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 eight Hundred Thirty Ends Tuesday, March 17th
The cafe on Kreludor used to be a local favorite and a sanctuary for weary travellers in need of rest and refuel. In its heyday, the cafe was a family-friendly spot with a line out the hatch full of customers that have come from far and wide to taste the otherworldly delights. Over the years, however, the clientele has shifted toward shifty company. Bounty hunters, thieves, and crooked little spies have noticed the benefit of having such a remote location to hide and plot. The bandits have pushed out the locals, and now even travellers don’t dare approach. Cafe Kreludor, once cheery and bright, is now referred to as a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Kreludia doesn’t typically visit the cafe, but tonight she attends out of necessity. While chasing a lead in her space cruiser, the ship’s propulsion engine malfunctioned and Kreludia found herself making an emergency landing on Kreludor for maintenance. In her line of work it isn’t uncommon to find herself surrounded by unsavory characters. Kreludia is a hired collector (as she would prefer to call it) with no loyalties. For the right price, she will collect anything from small trinkets, objects of great power, and even procurement of certain high-profile people. Adjusting her hood over her four alien ears, the Aisha entered the cafe with one objective: don’t get spotted.
At a darkened corner-table, Kreludia peers out across the room and immediately recognizes a few rough faces. It is hard to keep track of those she has good favor with and those she has crossed, but it was immediately clear to her that she had no friends here. It was in her best interest to avoid being seen, so she bowed her head.
Not a moment later, Kreludia was addressed by a raspy whisper, “Collector…”
Kreludia looked up, and to her surprise was unable to recognise the cloaked face that stood before her. “You’ve got the wrong--” she began.
“It is really such a blessing that your ship would mysteriously malfunction on the evening you came upon the greatest job offer of your lifetime,” the mysterious voice interrupted.
“How do you know about my ship? And who--”
“Who and how are not important. WHAT! That is the only thing that matters. You see, there is something I must have. Something that belongs to me. Something you must… collect… for me. I require your services…”
Date: Mar 2nd
Kreludia decides it isn't worth protesting. Casting a furtive glance towards the entrance
of the cafe she inclines her head slightly to the left, indicating the empty chair there.
"Sit there, friend" she murmurs softly. "Prying eyes are everywhere."
The stranger sits beside her. Kreludia catches the eye of the waitress who is circling the room and holds up 2 fingers. The waitress nods and turns to the bar. She returns in a minute with two fruity star juices and places them on the table. Kreludia tosses her ten thousand neopoints and tells her to keep the change. The waitress pockets the money without a word and moves away, leaving Kreludia and the stranger alone.
Kreludia casually runs a finger through the moisture ring her drink has left on the table.
"You have me at a bit of a disadvantage stranger," she says quietly. "You know me - I don't know you. Perhaps an introduction is in order? I don't like working for shadow figures, it always seems to get me in trouble."
In response to her query, the stranger slightly pulls back the cowl of their hood. Kreludia's eyes widen a fraction in mixed recognition and shock. She's too much of a professional to make any audible sound but it's obvious she knows who is sitting with her.
"What could the famous Sergeant Zarex possibly need my help with?" She asks lightly.
Zarex replies tersely.
"The item I seek is buried deep within the mines of Kreludor. It is imperative that it be returned to me quickly. I am not the only one looking for it - and if it falls into the hands of the other then the fate of all Neopia is in peril." He rises to his feet, and Kreludia does the same.
"We'd best make our way to my ship, stranger." She pats the blaster carried on her hip. "My friend and I are not in a mood to make the acquaintance of any...undesirables... before we leave this rock. The sooner we leave, the better."
Kreludia moved unhurriedly toward the entrance of the cafe, her client in tow. Just as she reaches it a figure comes rudely pushing through the door. His gaze is fortunately fixed on the bar ahead; he fails to notice the two figures slipping past him into the night. Kreludia could not shake the feeling he was looking for her companion...
Date: Mar 5th
"Attention, lowlings of the lowest order," was all Kreludia heard of the imposing Peophin's speech from his uniformed back. The cafe door muffled the rest.
Zarex was as swift on his feet as she was, and in no time they reached the spaceship garage. Kreludia had chosen this particular franchise for their discretion and general lack of customers, but she frowned at the sight of the unlit premises. It was too quiet.
"Hey, I'm back for the X22 Cruiser," she called out as they stepped into the near-darkness. "Has it been fixed, or?"
"The X22 again?" A sharp voice answered while coming closer. "I don't know what you're pullin', ma'am, but we still charge for services requested, even if you don't let us render 'em. Charlie told you when you picked it up." The speaker was a thin Eyrie in a mechanic's jumpsuit.
"Picked it up? My Cruiser? You've repaired it and it's ready for pick-up?"
"Yes ma'am. Fixed 'n' picked up no more than 20 minutes ago." The mechanic peered closer at Kreludia. "You were still in uniform under that cloak."
The Aisha broke out in a cold sweat. "I've never worn--" She thought of the Peophin's uniform back at the cafe.
"Was it a black uniform with orange stripes?" Zarax interrupted.
"Possibly. Yeah, I guess it was black and orange," replied the mechanic. "You tellin' me that wasn't--"
"They have your ship," the Grundo turned to Kreludia. "My ship is far from here. We must travel to the mines another way. Quickly."
"Well y'can't get there walkin'," said the mechanic. "Tell you what. I'll lend you this Model K Tumbler here if you forget the whole mistaken-identity-pick-up business. It moves fast, lightweight, and quiet." He pointed.
"It is a buggy," said Zarax.
"We'll take it," said Kreludia. "I'll drive."
"And I'll navigate," said the mechanic.
"You are not coming--" said Zarax.
"Certainly am." The mechanic tossed Kreludia a helmet and put one on himself. "Tumbler's my private vehicle. Besides, the Neopet who picked up the Cruiser was muttering something about fetchin' something important from the mines. I know these mines better than you tourists."
"We'll keep an eye on him," Kreludia whispered to Zarax as she climbed into the buggy. "If he tries anything, I'll give him the boot."
The Grundo looked grim, but got into the backseat without protest.
"That way, friends!" The Eyrie indicated the direction.
Kreludia stepped on the pedal hard. Soon they approached the edge of the seedy town, with the foreboding grey structures of the industrial sector looming ahead.
Something large darted before the buggy's path...
Date: Mar 6th
...Kreludia felt her paws tighten around the sticks she was gripping. Ahead of them was the X22 Cruiser. HER ship. She'd recognize it anywhere. The Aisha's eyes narrowed and she felt herself pushing the Tumbler to go faster, trying to keep up with her stolen ship.
"Slow down!" barked the Eyrie mechanic.
"That's the person who stole my ship," Kreludia protested. "And he's going to steal my client's property if we don't beat him to the mines. You don't GET to worry about whether I break your ship by pushing it too hard after you gave mine away!"
"This ain't about my ship! First of all, didn't I tell you that I know the mines better'n any tourist?" the Eyrie said shortly. "Second of all, lotsa mechanics drive these Tumbler-types. If you play your cards right, he won't know how close we are to catchin' him. He'll just see a mechanic goin' to pick up a part. Element of surprise, I thought you'd know that!"
Kreludia huffed, but she eased up on the throttle and brought the ship back to normal cruising speeds. "You'd better be right," she seethed.
"I am right," the Eyrie said, pointing at the course Kreludia's ship was taking. "Look. You off-mooners' nav systems are a little off. He'll be driving himself into some pretty nasty traffic this time of day by going that route. Take a right up here between these two buildings. It'll lead to some back alleys we can use to bypass the traffic."
With a few more instructions from the mechanic, Kreludia was able to navigate her way through the back roads of Kreludor, and the mines were in sight. No other ships were ahead of them, no other ships were behind them. As Kreludia brought the buggy to a stop, Zarex was on his feet instantly. "Excellent, we beat him here after all," the Grundo said. "Let's get in and out before he knows what hit him."
Kreludia unhooked herself and followed after the Grundo Sergeant, but he had come to a stop in the doorway of the ship. Peering over his shoulder, Kreludia was able to see what had given him pause...
Date: Mar 9th
Before their eyes lay a truly disturbing sight. Half a dozen Kreludan Defender Robots that must have been guarding the mines had been blasted to pieces. Someone else had arrived before them after all, perhaps another party entirely. And the horrific sight before them proved these new foes to be of a very unfriendly variety.
"Oh goodness, I shouldn't have come here!" the Eyrie Mechanic was shaking uncontrollably. This was proving more dangerous than he initially thought it would be.
"I told you he shouldn't have come," Zarex said condescendingly.
Kreludia sighed. "It's too late now. And besides, he knows these mines better than anyone. He said so himself." She placed a hand on the mechanic's shoulder and smiled at him. "Come. They'll be no match for us." The Eyrie nodded and followed her out of the buggy, Zarex leading the way.
There proved to be no trouble as they walked towards the dark entryway of the mine. They had only taken a few steps inside when the sound of an engine roared outside the cave, before being turned off. Once again, Kreludia knew what it was. Her X22 Cruiser. She clenched her teeth and clenched her blaster. "Those thieving rogues! I'll make them pay." She turned to the entrance of the cave, but Zarex grabbed her shoulder, stopping her. "We don't have time!" he hissed. "We'll deal with them later. If someone else is after this thing and they arrived here first, time is truly our enemy. We must continue!" Still furious, Kreludia relaxed and accepted the Grundo was right.
Very quickly the mines turned into a labyrinth of tunnels. Sure enough, the Eyrie seemed to know them like the back of his hand. As they walked hurriedly, he had told the others how he often sneaked in here as a kid to explore. It sure was paying off now. Eventually, the tunnels began to expand, growing wider and wider, until they came to a cavern that was easily the size of Meridell Castle. They heard footsteps ahead, but it was too dark to see anything. "We'd better get over there!" Kreludia could see that Zarex knew something terrible would happen should someone else succeed in retrieving the item.
As they sprinted ahead of them their foes could be seen now, but it was too dark to make out any features. Suddenly a thunderous laugh bellowed out from behind them. "Well, well, Kreludia. You've done well making it this far. You certainly live up to your reputation. But you'll see that I live up to MINE as well!" The speaker began walking towards her, deep, heavy footsteps. Kreludia gasped... |
How does this story end?
Date: Mar 11th
...That Peophin from the Cafe -- her ship thief -- had found her!
"And no, that's not a mine pun!" he boomed, his voice echoing off the caverns.
At once, the shadowy figures in front of them turned around and started to come closer, effectively encircling Kreludia's party and leaving them with no means of escape. Clearly the team that had come earlier and destroyed the Kreludan Defender Robots were in cahootz with that Peophin.
Zarex recognized the voice. "Cyndane," he scowled as the Peophin neared the Grundo and Aisha.
"Biggest Warlord this side of the galaxy -- the one and only," Cyndane said smoothly. Another Peophin was behind him.
Kreludia looked to the other side. There were more than a few Neopets -- their species was not clear, but their allegiance certainly was. She was sure some of them had been in the cafe.
She also noticed that the Eyrie seemed to have slipped away. Something felt very wrong.
"You were so naive, thinking you could traipse in here and take what is mine," said Cyndane as two of his goons tied up Kreludia and Zarex. "I really should have had you killed during the Civil War," he said to the Grundo.
"You certainly tried," the sergeant replied. "And it doesn't belong to you. It belongs to all the citizens of Kreludor. You know very well it stabilizes--"
"You know very well that I designed the weapon and that you stole it from me!" the Peophin roared.
"You wanted to use it against us all!" Zarex responded.
"And now I understand how puny and pathetic you people are! Not worth my destruction. I want to use it for another purpose, now, Zarex!"
"I will never let you! We from Kreludor will still suffer!"
The shouting match between Zarex and Cyndane intensified. Kreludia does nothing but watch, her stomach becoming heavier -- all her usual tricks are in her ship.
At last, there is a blaster pointed to the Sergeant's head. "You wouldn't dare," he said.
"If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself." Cyndane grinned darkly and takes off its safety.
"I am sorry for shooting down your ship, Kreludia," Zarex said with a deep sigh. "I should never have brought you here."
The Aisha wanted to seethe at him, to yell at him, perhaps even to see him destroyed -- but somehow, deep down, she already knew this. "I forgive you," she spoke but her words felt empty. Even though she did not want to forgive him -- she also did not want him to die with a guilty conscience.
Cyndane laughs as pulls the trigger. Zarex goes down.
Suddenly, the Eyrie appeared. "Boss!" he said as he ran up to Cyndane.
Kreludia did a double-take -- this she did not expect.
"I found it, it's over here!" He pointed to a cavern nearby.
"Very good," the Peophin commended.
"You work for HIM!?" she growled at the Eyrie, who cowers.
"Not for very long," he admitted, hidden behind some others. "He came by the Cafe the other day and asked for anyone who knew the mines to help him locate an object therein. I volunteered -- well, less so volunteered than offered my paid services. And earlier today he paid an awful lot to buy your ship." Kreludia tried to lash out at the Eyrie, but was too restrained to reach him; he jumped back. "Hey, we're not loyal to anyone either, you know!"
Cyndane smiled almost flatly. "Don't worry about her, she can't do a thing." He gestured to some of his other subordinates. "Go off with the others and find it. Now."
He looks at Kreludia. "And for you..." He narrowed his eyes. "I've heard tales throughout this side of the galaxy that you are quite the thief. Not as good at evading capture as I thought -- you should never trust someone you just met, you know -- but an excellent procurer of goods nevertheless." He raised his blaster to her head. "Let's say we can cut a deal?"
Kreludia pilots her X22 Cruiser en route to her next location.
The alien Aisha is a hired collector (as she would prefer to call it), loyal only to Cyndane, the greatest warlord of this side of the galaxy. For him and his army, she will collect anything from small trinkets, to objects of great power, and even assist with the procurement of certain high-profile people.
Of course, her loyalty runs thin. Not that she would ever say it out loud.
One day she will regain her independence.
Or she will end up like poor Sergeant Zarex trying.
Date: Mar 17th
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