Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 124,395,024 Issue: 250 | 28th day of Swimming, Y8
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The Day 250 Struck: Part One


by puppy200010

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Also by plutoplus1

"I have been looking forward to this vacation for weeks, and nothing is going to stop me from enjoying it!" Kori said. Determined to enjoy the sights around her, she focused her eyes up ahead of the long train of tourists huddling under a shared umbrella, and she glared at the rain.

     This was not how she imagined her first visit to Mystery Island to turn out. Kori was just like your average Poogle, because... well, because she happened to be a Poogle. A red one, in fact. At any rate, however, what made her ordinary was that she had your typical, boring desk job back on the Space Station, and when not at work, she lived in a boring, white-walled home.

     After what seemed like months of stacking paper and doing random things with it, she decided she could not work another day in that ordinary gray building without going insane. Unless she was already insane and was just in a perpetual mode of denial, she thought to herself wryly.

     Shaking herself back into reality, she tried to tune out the endless droning of the guide, but it was impossible. He kept raving about the beautiful scenery, the great weather and fantastic food the island offered its visitors.

     Yeah right! she thought to herself. If that were so, why is it raining right now, without a speck of blue visible ANYWHERE?! And that green scenery looks more like a moldy gray instead.

     As she walked across the slippery wooden deck where the ferry had dropped her, she looked for her bags. They ought to be somewhere around here, Kori thought, carefully examining the deck to see where the luggage from the boat had been dropped. She had just spotted a large pile of baggage, which was just now being taken off the boat. Wanting to beat the crowd to the pile, she started to run. Unfortunately for her, she promptly tripped flat on her face.

     "Something has happened!" a loud, booming voice proclaimed.

     "What now?" she mumbled, annoyed. Usually she enjoyed getting random events, but this one had horrible timing.

     "You have just found 250 Neopoints on the floor!"

     "Oh, joy." She rolled her eyes. "I'll make sure to go crazy spending all those Neopoints!" she said sarcastically. Again, she tried to make a beeline for her suitcase. By this time a small crowd surrounded the baggage, and Kori had to carefully weave her way through the pets to get to the front of it. Groaning slightly, she hoisted her bag off the pile. Now, where did that brochure say my hotel was supposed to be? she wondered to herself, digging around for the paper. "Oh, there it is!" she said aloud while looking at her map. It was just down the main path, and once she got there all she'd have to do was find room 250.

     Kori had to admit that she was slightly disappointed with the scenery she had so far seen on Mystery Island, but she convinced herself that it was simply the horrible weather that made it look drab and boring. The buildings, at least, she thought, give this place some atmosphere, even in the rain. She glanced up from the wet, muddy ground, and she could see that the lodge was directly ahead, on the right side of the path. Once she got there, she spent five minutes looking for the hotel's office, and she went inside.

     "Hello!" greeted an Island Aisha sitting at a desk in front of a wall of keys. "Sorry the weather's so bad. How can I help you?"

     "Well, my name is Kori, and I'm supposed to be staying in room 250."

     "Oh, of course!" the receptionist replied, getting up from her chair and walking over to a set of keys on the wall, which she took off the hook and handed to Kori. "The room should be down the hallway to your left." The Aisha pointed, and Kori started walking in that direction.

     "What beautiful decorations!" exclaimed Kori while walking down the hallway. She glanced at the numbers on the doors. Hmm, she thought. These are all low numbers! And they were. At the beginning of the hallway, she had seen room numbers starting at 2. As she walked down the hallway, the numbers had gone up. Room 2, room 4, room 6... wait? Room 250?! "Who organized the room numbers in this hallway?" mumbled Kori, sliding her key into the lock and unlocking her door.

     After her long day of traveling, she would have loved to go and take a nap, but she suddenly heard the sound of glass breaking, so she dropped her bags and took off in the direction of the noise. It appeared to be coming from the direction of the gift shop in the lobby. Inside the store was a young Gelert who was crying. "All the Neopoints!" she sobbed. "They're gone! All 250,000 of them!" The small crowd of people in the store all gasped.

     "Who could have done this?" cried a Flotsam in the corner of the room.

     "Are my belongings in my room going to be safe?" fretted a blue Draik, who was about ready to run back to his room.

     "I'm sure they'll be fine," assured the receptionist Kori had seen at the desk. It was obvious that she was frantically trying to shoo the pets out of the store so that she could talk to the Gelert, so the crowd slowly dispersed. Kori, however, decided to stick around, so she walked out of the store and hid just behind the shop's door. She put one of her floppy ears up against the door to eavesdrop.

     Through the door the voices sounded muffled, but she could just barely make out their conversation. "Who could have done this?!" the Aisha demanded to know.

     "I don't know!" replied the Gelert, obviously still shaken up from the event. "I just walked out of the store to get a quick drink of water, and when I came back, the window was smashed, and the cash box was open and empty!"

     "Well, make sure to clean up all the glass, and make sure from now on that you keep an eye on the box! We have more Neopoints in the safe, but I'd rather not get them all out if we don't need them..."

     "Okay," the Gelert agreed, and the Aisha started to walk back out of the store. Kori, of course, took off running towards her room as fast as she could when she heard the footsteps, not wanting to be caught in the act of eavesdropping.

     Once back in her room, she flopped onto the bed to catch her breath. After laying on the bed for a few minutes, she unintentionally fell asleep, exhausted.

     The voice of the lodge's maid banging on the door was the sound that awoke her the next morning. "Hellooooo!" the maid yelled, knocking loudly on the door. "I've come to change your sheets made with 250 count thread!"

     "Wait a second," mumbled Kori sleepily as she lazily rolled off the bed to get to the door.

     "Nevermind," the maid replied, hearing Kori's response. "I'll just come back later!"

     Kori couldn't believe how overly cheerful the maid seemed for such an early hour, and she replied, "whatever," in an indifferent tone. Slowly she shuffled into the hotel room's bathroom to change her clothes, and then she went down to breakfast.

     "Good morning!" exclaimed yet another overly cheerful pet when Kori went down to breakfast. The pet, who was a waitress, shoved a plate of food at Kori, and she took it and went to sit down.

     "How many different kinds of grains are in this toast?" Kori asked, eyeing the multi-colored piece of toast on her plate.

     "Oh, 250. It's a new recipe, and extremely healthy." The waitress leaned closer and whispered, "Unfortunately, it tastes like sand."

     "Great," Kori said sarcastically, shoving the toast aside to eat the rest of her meal.

     While the toast might not have been so great, the rest of the food really was good. Sometimes tour guides really know what they are talking about, Kori thought. She left a tip for the waitress and was standing up to head back to her room when she overheard the conversation at the table next to hers.

     "Did you read this?!" exclaimed a pink Lenny, gesturing to the Neopian Times that lay spread before her. "It says that 250 zeenanas were stolen from the local island market here in this town!"

     The orange Grundo sitting across from the Lenny gasped in shock. "Mystery Island is supposed to have the lowest crime rate anywhere! Less than 0%, if such a thing is possible! My, my, what is Neopia coming to?"

     "Indeed, this is shocking news! First the gift shop gets robbed, now an innocent grocer." She paused in reflection, and then perked up. "Oh, Penny, did you see that cute scarf I bought? It will be so grand with that gown I bought last week! Remember when I wore... "

     Kori had heard enough, and slowly made her way back to her room. Another stealing? This is quite strange. I wonder what the locals are thinking about this. She pulled out her key as she approached her room, and while opening it started to make a mental check list of things to bring for the day's adventure. Once inside, she grabbed all of the things she thought she might use that day, threw them in her bag and left her room for the lobby.

     Looking out the windows in the lobby, she saw the blue sky patched with big white, fluffy clouds. Placing her hat on her head to protect against the sun, she started out of the hotel to her first destination, the Tigerbuggle Farm.

     She had read in the brochure that this was one spot she really couldn't afford to miss. They were reputed to have an amazing garden out in front of the farm and an incredible maze in the back. The maze was supposedly so difficult that some pets never came out. Kori didn't buy that, though.

     As she walked along, she started to realize that most of the natives passing her were mumbling something. Forgetting her own thoughts for a moment, she concentrated on those around her. It sounded like... She stopped walking. No, that can't be what they are saying! Listening harder, though, produced the same results. Every native walking past was mumbling 250!

     This vacation is getting very strange, she thought to herself, finally continuing down the path. As she walked down the path, the foliage that had been on either side of the path slowly thinned out, and the first sights of the Tigerbuggle Farm reached her eyes. From the brochure, she had expected a vast farm, surrounded by a beautiful garden which would stretch out on the lawn in front of a large red barn. When she caught a glimpse of the farm, she did see a vast farm and she assumed that there was also a garden, but she was unable to see for sure, since there was an enormous crowd in front of her destination. The barn she had expected was there too, of course, but it wasn't red... it was... black?!

     Kori assumed that the crowds were simply due to the fact that the Tigerbuggle Farm was a very popular tourist destination, but she soon found out otherwise.

     "Did you hear?" asked a green Kacheek near the back of the crowd.

     "No... hear about what?" she responded, slightly suspicious.

     "Someone vandalized the barn here! It used to be red, but someone apparently came along and slapped some black paint onto most of the building!"

     The crowd gasped at the sight of the vandalized building. Nearly the entire front side of the barn had been covered with thick, black paint. George, the greatest mathematician in all of Neopia Central, was there to announce that he had counted, and exactly 250 of the wooden boards on the barn's exterior had been covered by the paint. "What difference does that make?" several pets mumbled, and several turned to leave, because it was obviously that they wouldn't be able to get into the farm that day.

     Through the slightly dispersed crowd, Kori was able to spot Bob, one of Neopia's more scatterbrained citizens, standing at the edge of the crowd thinking. Or, at least, trying to think. Suddenly, an acorn came plummeting down and hit him on the head. He looked up, dazed, and Kori glanced upwards as well, and she noticed that the tree branch which had dropped the acorn seemed to look strangely like the number 250, but she dismissed the notion for the moment and said nothing to the green Kacheek, who was still standing beside her.

     After perhaps ten minutes, only a few pets were still standing on the lawn of the Tigerbuggle Farm, and Kori was finally able to see its amazing garden. Unfortunately, the crowd had left some trash behind, so the farm was now a mess! Looking down at the ground, Kori found a section of the day's Neopian Times, and she decided to kill some time and read it while she waited for the farm's staff to sort out their problems and get ready to admit people into the farm.

     The section of the paper was about the Haunted Woods, and on the front page was an article about recent crimes. Not entirely to Kori's surprise, they all concerned the number 250. "Why, these crimes related to the number 250 must be sweeping Neopia!" she exclaimed as she read through the article. The crimes included in the article included the destruction of 250 spellbooks in the Haunted Woods's main library and 250 gallons of water which had recently flooded a nearby neoschool. "Something must be done!" she said, throwing the newspaper back down onto the lawn and storming in the direction of town.

To be continued...

 
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