Searching For Paradise: Part Seven
Tye's parents began searching for their youngest daughter
the next day. They woke at their usual time, ate breakfast, and dropped Jeralyn
and Ellen at their friends' houses. Ricki and Jack were forced to come, and the
four began looking for the faerie Ixi.
Tye's father was especially angry. He muttered
and complained so often that it became a noise as background as the singing
birds. He slammed his thick, shiny hooves into the sidewalk with resounding
THUMPS that made Jack's tail twitch.
Tye's mother kept slipping in puddles and tripping
over sidewalk cracks. She squealed like a Snorkle every time this happened,
and at last Ricki had to go walk next to her, and catch the Ixi when she slipped.
This put Ricki in a very bad mood, especially because she needed to focus on
finding Tye and her shadow Kougra friend.
Ricki had just helped Tye's mother back to her
hooves for the tenth time, when Jack stopped and stared at something. The four
pets were by a large space reserved for forest. The area was entirely fenced
off, but the fence was climbable.
Thinking quickly, the Zafara said to Tye's dad,
"Uh, sir? I think I see a sack over in the bushes. It looks like one of yours.
Would you like Ricki and me to get it?"
The purple Ixi frowned. "Yes, go get it. Let
me know if you finds anything else."
Ricki and Jack clambered over the chain link
fence, and Jack led the way into the trees, so the two Ixis couldn't see them.
Jack looked around, then found the tree. A parchment colored sheet of paper
was tacked to the tree's bark. It read "WANTED FOR THE THEFT OF THE AIR FAERIE
ORB: One shadow Kougra with green eyes and golden bands on front paws. One faerie
Ixi. One yellow Kau with scar over left eye. 50,000 NP reward for each."
Ricki's mouth fell open. "Tye and the stray,"
she whispered. "Wanted for stealing something?"
Jack frowned. "I heard from a messenger that
the robbery was in the gang neighborhood. Tye wouldn't go there. Besides, she's
not the type to steal."
"So where are they?" Ricki demanded, staring
at the sign.
"I think," Jack said quietly, "the police were
after them, so they ran."
"Where to? They're only fifteen, they can't-"
"Okay, who's in here?" A bossy voice cut Ricki
off. A moment later, a shadow Lupe walked into view. Ricki recognized him as
the Lupe who guarded the gates leading out of the subdivision.
The Lupe studied Jack and Ricki carefully. "Wait,
aren't you two the ones who work in that Ixi house?"
Jack nodded. "You're the Lupe who guards the
gate, I believe?"
The Lupe nodded. "So what're you doing here?"
"Looking for our employers' daughter."
"A Faerie Ixi?"
"That's her. How did you know?"
The guard frowned, his tail swishing worriedly.
"I saw an Ixi the night of the robbery," he confessed in a whisper. "She was
with the shadow Kougra, the one they say stole the Orb." He pointed toward the
fence ahead. "They leapt right over that removed spike, and went into the forest
on the other side."
Jack and Ricki exchanged excited looks. "Thank
you, sir," Ricki said, nodding politely, then she and Jack turned and headed
back toward the fence.
The shadow Lupe, mystified, watched them clamber
up the chain link, then turned around with a shrug and went back to the iron
Tye's parents were still there, both looking
bored. Tye's mother was sitting down, examining her chipped hooves, and her
father was glaring at the trees around him, muttering angrily.
When he saw Jack and Ricki emerge from the forest,
he stood and grunted, "See anything?"
Jack shook his head. "No. It was just a piece
of an old satchel."
Tye's father shook his head and muttered, "More
trouble than she's worth, that one."
Ricki glared at him. "What's your problem?" she
The Ixi whirled around, his teeth bared angrily.
"What was that?" he snarled, pawing the ground slightly.
The Bori returned his angry glare, her voice
cold and unafraid. "I said, what's your problem? You don't even care that your
youngest daughter is missing and could be hurt or lost somewhere! All you're
worried about is how that's going to affect your reputation! And if it was Jeralyn
or Ellen, you'd be at the police station in a heartbeat, demanding that they
find your daughter now."
"Shut up!" the purple Ixi roared, his head rolling
forward as if he was about to charge.
"But when it comes to Tye, all you care about
is her faults!" Ricki barreled on, her voice getting louder and angrier "Jeralyn
and Ellen are two of the snootiest, rudest, meanest pets I have ever had the
displeasure of meeting, and being a servant to them is nothing short of torture!
Tye is never like that! She cares about other Neopians and she understands that
a pet is more than just their looks or their color, that there are more important
things in the world than having a fancy tablecloth!"
Tye's mother had dropped her hoof, and she was
staring at Ricki with her mouth wide open. Jack was watching her with surprise
Ricki went on, ignoring her employer's obvious
rage. "I'm tired of you! I'm tired of you, of her," she pointed to the white
Ixi, "of Jeralyn and Ellen, of you all acting so high and mighty because you've
got a bunch of Neopoints!"
Tye's father reared up angrily, then fell back
to the ground, his sides heaving. "All right then," he growled, teeth clenched.
"If you're so tired of us, then you're fired!"
Ricki glared at him. "Good!" she snarled. "I've
been waiting for years for you to say that." And the Bori turned around and
walked towards the iron gate, head held high.
Tye's father glared after her a moment, then
turned around. "Come on, Jack," he said. "Let's get out of here."
But Jack didn't move. "I'm not going with you,"
he said quietly.
Tye's father froze, then turned to glare at the
Zafara. Jack stood up a little straighter and narrowed his eyes.
"I'm not going back," he said, louder this time.
"I agree with Ricki; you and your oldest daughters are spoiled rotten, and I
refuse to work for you anymore."
This time, Tye's father could only watch with
his mouth hanging open as Jack turned around and walked after Ricki, his tail
swishing confidently. At last, the Ixi turned and stomped down the sidewalk.
"What'll we do without Ricey and Jock?" Tye's
mother said worriedly, walking beside her husband.
"Give them a few days," the purple Ixi growled.
"There's no other work around here. They'll be back soon."
Ricki and Jack stared at the iron gate from behind
a large tree. "How're we going to get past the guard?" Ricki asked. "We don't
have our IDs."
Jack narrowed his eyes. "Didn't the guard say
they got out without IDs?"
Ricki nodded. "By jumping over a missing spike."
Her eyes widened, and she scanned the top of the fence. She pointed one long
black claw at a spot in the fence where there was a large space between two
"They still didn't replace it?" Jack said, surprised.
Ricki shrugged. "Doesn't matter. Look, we have
to go over that fence and find them!"
Jack looked at the space and shook his head.
"I don't see how they got so high up. Especially Tye, since she can't climb."
Ricki looked around, but not at the fence. "I
don't think she climbed the fence," she said slowly. "I think she climbed
to the roof of a building."
"But a building would be even harder to climb!"
Jack exclaimed, looking puzzled.
"They didn't climb they building," Ricki said
quickly, "They used the fire escape! That would've gotten them to the roof of
that building," she pointed to a tall, red brick office building, "And leapt
between the two spikes!"
Jack studied the distance. "That's a long way
to fall," he remarked.
"Ixi can handle it," Ricki said. "And so can
Bori and Zafaras. Come on!"
Ricki and Jack left the tree and stepped casually
onto the opposite sidewalk. They walked until they reached the office building's
alleyway, and paused, moving so it looked like they were just talking to each
Ricki cast a sideways glance into the dark alley.
Jack gave it a half glance too, but couldn't make anything out.
"It's deep in," Ricki whispered. "Painted brown,
I think. We should be able to climb it without anybody seeing us."
Jack nodded, and the two former servants waited
until the guard looked away, then ducked into the dark alleyway and began climbing
They had to move slowly, or they knew they'd
make too much noise on the metal. Ricki especially was in danger of being heard
because of her claws, which were liable to clang against the metal stairs if
she wasn't careful enough.
The top of the roof was bathed in sunlight. Ricki
descended to all fours, and Jack crouched so the pets on the street wouldn't
"Okay, so we're on the roof," Jack whispered,
inching toward the edge of the roof "Now how do we distract the guar-ouch!"
The Zafara drew back his foot, and beneath it was a rock. Jack picked it up,
glaring at its sharp surface.
Ricki smiled. "We should use the rock!" she hissed.
Jack continued to study it. "Odd," he muttered.
"How does a rock end up on a roof?"
"Who cares?" Ricki whispered. "Just throw the
rock in the alley across from us, he'll definitely-" She paused suddenly, her
eyes on the rock.
"What?" Jack asked.
"Tye and the Kougra must've left it," she said
slowly. "They probably threw the rock in the opposite alley when they escaped!"
"So it works," Jack said. "Alright then." He
bent his arm back to throw, but Ricki hissed, "Don't!"
Jack dropped his arm, looking puzzled. "What
now?" he asked.
"Drop it into the alley over here," Ricki said.
"The guard'll think that someone threw the stone to distract him from the other
side. If we drop it on our alley, he'll probably go to the other one."
"And if he doesn't?"
"We'll still have enough time to clear the fence,
as long as he's not on the other side."
Jack sighed, but crept toward the side of the
roof. He raised the rock over the side, then let it drop.
With a loud CLANG, the rock hit a trash can.
The guard whirled around, opening the gate. He paused for a moment, thinking,
and Ricki and Jack watched anxiously.
Finally, the Shadow Lupe ran toward the opposite
alley. Ricki charged forward, and leapt like a Kougra over the gate. Jack stood
up and followed, leaping so his feet hit the section of clear fence. He used
the fence beneath him to launch into the forest below, where he and Ricki ran
as fast as they could, away from the gate.
The shadow Lupe returned to the fence, and saw
the rustling bushes. "They're going to fire me for sure," he moaned, leaning
against the cool iron bars.
To be continued...