Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 127,792,023 Issue: 260 | 6th day of Collecting, Y8
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At the AstroVilla: Part One


by kemppotatoe

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"Now stopping at Neopia Central Port! All passengers for Neopia Central, please gather your belongings and depart the ferry."

      A little white Cybunny slid off the bench and stood on her tiptoes to reach the luggage rack above the seats. She pulled off a Pink Kadoatie Back Pack and a now empty lunch box. Her name was Cypher.

      "Last call, passengers for Neopia Central, please gather your belongings and depart the ferry!"

      Cypher slung the heavy backpack over one shoulder and made her way to gangplank. As a thick crowd of pets began to momentarily block her way down, Cypher gazed out at Neopia Central anxiously.

      It was completely flat, unlike her homeland, with funny shaped houses and shops scattered here and there. In the distance, she could make out a huge cauldron, an awfully large overturned book, and a rather enormous hamburger.

      "Hey, Cybunny, move it!"

      Cypher jumped and noticed that the path down the gangplank was now unblocked. She muttered a hushed 'sorry' and quickly scampered down into the fresh, salty air of the Neopia Central Port.

 ***

      "Excuse me, Miss, but are you Cypher?"

      Cypher jumped when she heard her own name and turned around. A blue Techo was turned to a different Cybunny asking the question, and she had shaken her head. Cypher noticed that the Techo was wearing a red suit jacket with gold lining and a matching hat. There were gold letters, AV, written in a fancy print on one side of the jacket.

      "AstroVilla..." Cypher muttered to herself. She reached back into her backpack to retrieve a piece of paper. It was elegant, fancy stationary with the word 'AstroVilla' written across the top in gold. It had folds, dividing it into three sections, where it had been fit into an envelope. Cypher silently read the typed letters, as she had when the received the paper.

     Dear Guest,

     We are sending this letter to confirm your stay at the AstroVilla for the next twenty-eight days. Your suite will be fully prepared for you upon your arrival. Since you will be an unaccompanied pet, it is hotel policy that a staff member of the hotel comes to pick you up at the Neopia Central Port.

     You will recognize this staff member by his AstroVilla uniform. He will be waiting for you near the ticket booth.

     We hope you will enjoy your stay at the AstroVilla.

     Signed,

     Griptor, AV Manager

      Cypher turned and noticed that the ticket booth was only a few feet away. "I'm Cypher!" she called to the Techo, pushing through pets to get to him.

      The Techo looked at her with a relieved expression. "Cypher? Good. I am Torington, an AstroVilla bell-Techo. Pleased to meet you. Right this way, please."

      Cypher followed Torington through the crowd, pushing through pets and owners to keep up. After retrieving Cypher's single suitcase from the baggage claim, Torington led the Cybunny to the Neopia Central Port exit on Main Street.

      "Wow... " Cypher muttered to herself. Most pets had been to Neopia Central... it seemed that was where a lot were born, but not Cypher. Many of her friends back home thought she was insane when she said it would be her first time here.

      After a short five-minute walk, Cypher found herself facing the most amazing building she had ever seen. It was so tall, she couldn't even guess how many floors there were! It had a large fountain with crystal blue water in front of a gold set of revolving doors. Every window Cypher could see had red velvet curtains with gold detail.

      Seeing the awed look on Cypher's face, Torington the bell-Techo said, "Welcome to the AstroVilla, Ms. Cypher."

***

      The lobby of the hotel was even more impressive.

      It was a large circular room full of dark wood, red velvet, diamond chandeliers, and anything that was at all expensive. A small hallway on the right led to elevators, another on the right led to bathrooms, a gift shop, and the pool. On the far right of the circular lobby, just before the hall to the gift shop, was the check-in desk. It was an elaborately detailed crescent shape with a white marble top.

      "Ah! You must be Cypher!"

      Cypher found herself facing a checkered Kyrii wearing a fancy suit. He had sharp eyes and she could tell he was one not to cross.

      "I am Mr. Griptor, the manager here at the AstroVilla. I am so glad you have come to stay with us for the next twenty-eight days!" Griptor smiled and turned to Torington. "Thank you for the help, Torington."

      Cypher smiled at the Techo to say thanks, but he just nodded in the manager's direction and walked away with Cypher's suitcase.

      Mr. Griptor took Cypher to the front desk, where a brown Acara wearing a AstroVilla uniform sat.

      "Miss Laurel," Griptor said as the Acara looked up, "the key to Suite 650, please?"

      The Acara smiled and nodded, handing a small gold key to the Kyrii. "Ah, the Luxury Suite on floor 26! Enjoy your stay at the AstroVilla, Miss."

      Cypher smiled and accepted a blueberry candy cane that Miss Laurel was handing her. Turning around, she saw Mr. Griptor was already on his way to the elevator hallway, the key to her suite in his hand. She quickly stuck the candy cane in her backpack and scampered after him, passing a Blumaroo in a hotel uniform who offered her a purple teacup of Banana Cream Coffee.

      "No thank you!" Cypher said, rushing towards the elevators. Mr. Griptor was already standing inside, pressing the 'open door' button. When Cypher was inside, he released the button and the doors closed. As soon as they were fully shut, the Kyrii pressed the button for the twenty-sixth floor.

      "I've never been in an elevator before," Cypher said after a few moments, breaking an uneasy silence.

      Mr. Griptor continued to stare straight forward. "These were designed by the pet who does the machinery for the Space Station. As you probably know, very few machines exist anywhere but the Space Station. We are proud to be an exception."

      "How many floors are there in all?" Cypher asked.

      "Twenty-eight," Mr. Griptor said, "and that's including the lobby, where you can also find the gift shop and the indoor and outdoor pools. There is a water ballet class on Saturdays, but mostly our older guests participate in that activity. On the fourteenth floor is the coffee shop, the five-star restaurant, and the bakery. On the roof you can rent or buy telescopes, and on every Tuesday night there is an astronomy class from eleven to midnight. There are gardens in the back of the hotel, where you can buy or rent scooters or bikes to travel through the city. All this information is also in a pamphlet in your suite."

      Cypher was impressed; it seemed Mr. Griptor had memorized the entirety of that analysis of the hotel. "This sounds like a very fun place," she stated, unsure of what else to say.

      "Keep in mind, Miss," Mr. Griptor continued, "that since you are an unaccompanied pet, whenever you plan on leaving the hotel for touring and shopping purposes only, you must inform Miss Laurel at the front desk of your departure. You must return every day by eight o'clock. This is hotel policy and is enforced for the safety of our unaccompanied guests."

      Cypher stared at him for a moment and gave a weak smile. "Uh... right! Okay then!"

      The elevator dinged, signaling that they had reached their destination: floor 26. As the doors moved aside, Mr. Griptor handed Cypher the little gold key and began to walk into the hallway.

      "For your convenience, an AstroVilla keyring with your suite number is on the counter of your kitchen. If you could please attach it to your key, so if you lose it we can return it to you. You may keep the keyring as a souvenir."

      Cypher nodded, accepting the key. "Thanks."

      "Your suite is number 650. It's at the end of this hallway, the very last one. Just follow the numbers on the doors. If you'll please excuse me, I have some visiting Tyrannian cryptologists I need to attend to. Good day, Miss, and enjoy your stay."

      With that, Mr. Griptor stepped back into the elevator and pressed the button to return to the lobby. Cypher smiled at him as the doors shut, although he did not return it.

      The Cybunny turned to face the length of the incredibly long hallway, eyeing the fancy and curly gold numbers on each door. She slowly began her way down the extensive hall.

      It seemed that there were twelve doors on each side of the hall, each with a lengthy interval between them and the next door. Cypher could tell that these suites had to be huge to need that much space. She examined each door number as she passed, realizing that if there were twenty-four suites on this floor, suite 650 would be on the next story! She was about to turn back to the elevator when she noticed what had to be her room.

      It was on the far end of the hall, by itself, with a good three feet of wall on either side of the door. Speaking of the door, it was a dark stained wood and the golden numbers across the middle, 650.

      "This is it," she muttered to herself, looking at the key. She began to reach it out towards the lock in the doorknob.

      "Who do we have here?"

      Cypher jumped and dropped the key. She spun around to see who had spoken.

      It was a skunk Kougra, male by his voice, with a devilish smirk.

      "I'm Cypher. You?"

      "The name's Luther," he said walking towards her, "AstroVilla kitchen-Kougra."

      "Ah," Cypher said, unsure of how to respond. "Pleased to meet you, Luther." She picked up her room key and turned back around.

      "Mystery Islander, are you?"

      Cypher turned her head back and saw that Luther was eyeing the coconut keyring that hung off her backpack. "Oh... no. This is from vacation. I'm from Happy Valley."

      Luther raised his eyebrows. "Ah. So, what brings you to the AstroVilla? And all by yourself, too? No siblings?"

      "No, I'm an only-pet. My owner is going away from Neopia for a while."

      Luther seemed quite interested. "How long are you here?"

      "Almost a month. Twenty-eight days."

      "Well! An entire four weeks! I'm assuming you have all twelve extras, right? You must be very rich to pay that many Neopoints a night for so long."

      Cypher frowned at the Kougra. Why was he asking about her? Who was he to stereotype her as 'rich' while barely knowing her? Well, she could play that game.

      Cypher put on a very pompous and elegant face. "As a matter of fact, I am quite wealthy. And you should do your very best to please me."

      Luther looked shocked as Cypher turned the key and opened the door to her suite. She turned away from him and looked into the place she'd call home for the next twenty-eight days.

      It was the most amazing suite, Cypher had to admit, with plush red velvet curtains, forest green carpet, and a small wall made completely of glass.

      Cypher took a few steps in, her mouth open wide in awe. To her right she saw a master bathroom, the tub being the size of a small swimming pool. To her left was a grand, ornate fireplace, flames already crackling within. And right in front of Cypher was a humongous king-sized bed, complete with a red velvet duvet and a gold canopy.

      "For someone so rich, you seem surprised by all this."

      Cypher turned around and stared at Luther, who was standing in the doorway. "Well, since I am so darn rich, I could see to it that you are escorted from the premises of this hotel in an instant." Cypher gave him a snobby smile. "It's been a lovely conversation with you, but I'm sure you're needed in the kitchens."

      Luther gave her a look of dislike. "Maybe I am. I'll go put in a good day's work while you sit here in your luxurious quarters, basking like a lazy snob. Which you are!"

      Cypher glared at him. "Am not! I, actually, am quite polite... but not to rude little servants."

      "Oh please!" Luther said rather loudly. "You were being perfectly polite only a moment ago! And I was being kind to you as well!"

      "You get back what you give," Cypher said coldly.

      Luther looked offended by this. He rolled his eyes at her and said, "I'll go be a rude little servant elsewhere, shall I?"

      "Yes, maybe you should!" Cypher threw her backpack onto the huge bed. "And some advice... don't stereotype pets when you barely know them."

      Luther opened his mouth in disbelief. "You're kidding, right! I'm the stereotypical one? According to you, I'm just rude because I work in a hotel kitchen!"

      With that, the Kougra pursed his lips and slammed the door. A nearby painting of a happy Kau rolling in the grass fell from the wall and landed with a clatter on the carpeted floor.

      Cypher sighed and hung it back on the wall, relieved at the least that it wasn't broken. Walking back to the bed, she pushed her backpack onto the floor and collapsed onto the silky covers.

      It was going to be a long twenty-eight days.

To be continued...

 
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