My Year in Shenkuu: Part Six
Also by heeken
Everything seemed to quiet down when Aceliane said that. The whistling of the wind past their ears seemed to soften. After a while, the silence became deafening, and as Aceliane daringly glanced backwards again, she saw the Skeiths advancing on them. They were coming closer and closer, despite the fact that they were already too near for her liking.
“Fly faster!” yelled the Acara desperately, subconsciously pulling out Tanny’s feathers. As soon as the silence was broken, the world did not seem so quiet any more. The whistling of the wind became more and more prominent until it was just as loud as the silence had been.
“You silly spoilt Neopet, it’s good enough that I can keep flying!” replied Tanny, shouting, but it was not met with some insult or otherwise from Aceliane. Even after repeating it a few more times, her passenger seemed to have no reaction. She concluded that the Acara could not hear her at all.
Soon, Aceliane grew desperate. There was only a small distance of about twenty feet between them. Ignoring Tanny’s cries of protest, she began rocking on the poor Pteri as if she was riding on a Uni.
“Hey, hey, easy on my back!” yelled Tanny between painful cries. “We’re nearly in town.”
Without any warnings, Tanny streamlined herself, tilted at an angle too steep to be pleasant for her passenger, and shot down like an arrow. The town grew bigger and bigger, and luckily for them, the Skeiths got slightly smaller due to their body shape disadvantage.
“Yay!” cheered Aceliane and Tanny together, but their joy was short-lived. Tanny was getting more and more tired, and unfortunately, the Skeiths seemed to be motivated to fly faster for some unknown reason that they probably would never find out.
“Faster!” urged Aceliane, and began rocking on Tanny more violently than before. However, this time, Tanny had not the strength to resist the rocking. She screamed an insult at the Acara, who screamed one back, and received a similar reply. Their bickering continued on.
And neither of them noticed that they were flying in the wrong direction until they crashed through a sign and into a tree. Luckily, it was only the crown, not the trunk. Rapidly, they fell down, until Aceliane managed to grab a branch with one front paw and Tanny with the other. They puffed and panted and watched the Skeiths trying to find which way their prisoners went.
“That was funny,” commented Tanny.
“Yeah, it was, wasn’t it,” replied Aceliane. “You know, I think this branch might snap with the weight of both of us. Why don’t you just grab another—”
The branch snapped.
Aceliane and Tanny screamed as they fell and broke a few more branches, destroyed another sign, and through the roof of some building that just happened to be there. As they stood up shakily, they found many armed Neopets surrounding them, and instinctively held up their paws and wings.
“Who are you?” asked Tanny timidly. “Please don’t attack us.”
Sensing that the two tatty-looking Neopets in front of them probably were in trouble, they slowly lowered their weapons.
Meanwhile, outside, one of the Skeiths had heard the snapping of the branch and random screams, and investigated in that direction. Seeing a large hole in the roof of a nearby building, he guessed that two Neopets must have fallen through, and called over all his friends. One by one, they all crashed through the roof. Luckily for Aceliane and Tanny, they had already smashed both of the ‘Defenders of Neopia – Shenkese Headquarters’ signs, meaning the Skeiths had no idea which Neopets exactly were in the building.
They found out, eventually. As they dusted themselves, they found themselves surrounded by many armed Neopets, just as Tanny and Aceliane had. Figuring that it meant they were supposed to stick up their arms, they did.
“Who are you?” asked one. “Please don’t attack us.”
Slowly, the Defenders lowered their weapons.
“That’s the lot! One of them raided my home!” cried Aceliane somewhere in the background.
Before the Skeiths could do anything, they found the Defenders had already raised their weapons again and were firing. As they shrunk back into a small compacted ball of meat in the centre of the room, Defenders hiding in the roof had leapt out and threw a large net over them. They struggled as hard as they could, but found that the net only tightened when they did. They tried to bite through the material, except they gave up on that idea when a green one soon found his teeth worn right down to the gum.
After an afternoon of paperwork, Tanny and Aceliane were finally allowed to leave.
“You still didn’t get your things back,” said Tanny sullenly as they walked out the Defenders Headquarters.
“That’s okay. At least I still have my precious wind-up Zytch,” replied Aceliane happily as she reached into her pocket to take it out. Tanny looked at it in disgust. “And I also found someone to do my homework for me.”
Despite their tiredness, hand in hand, the new friends skipped back home.
The doorbell rang.
“Coming!” said Aceliane as she ran to open the door. Tanny beamed as she was admitted into the house, but the Acara took no notice. She gestured roughly towards the sofa and the little plate of snacks on the coffee table.
“Is that how you treat a new friend’s first time over?” asked Tanny irritably, but was ignored. Her companion was too absorbed in the front page article of the Neopian Times’ to care.
Deciding nothing would happen until Aceliane finished it, Tanny sat there patiently. After what seemed like eternity, she was silently handed the newspaper, and immediately understood why the Acara was so interested. There, in bold, capitalised words, read:
A New Species of Kadoaties!
“Please don’t tell me you were thinking about getting one of these things...”
“Read on!” said Aceliane excitedly, clapping her paws.
The article went as following:
On the Sunday afternoon, the Shenkese Defenders of Neopia arrested nine Skeiths which had fallen through the roof of the headquarters.
They were being chased by their own victims - a purple Pteri, Citanula, and a royal Acara, Aceliane.
Those nine Skeiths had tried to rob Aceliane of ten million Neopoints, but were caught by Citanula, her neighbour.
"We chased them... but then they were armed with bin lids and nets which really stank!" she says.
"They imprisoned us, but we broke free. Helps when your captors are thick-headed." Aceliane remarks.
The two brave neopets performed a daring aerial escape, and were followed closely by the Skeiths.
Before long, both parties fell headlong into the Shenkese Headquarters of the Defenders of Neopia.
The Skeiths were dealt with in the proper manner. After interrogation, they were sent off to prison. However, since the cells were all occupied, there was no other alternative than to lock them up in the Kadoatery.
Unfortunately, the cage-makers employed at the Shenkese Kadoatery refuse to do more than they were employed to. However, because prisoners are not, by the Shenkese law, allowed to wander freely, the Skeiths meanwhile will have to adapt to their new, slightly smaller homes.
Story continued on page 12...
Both Aceliane and Tanny rolling on the floor laughing by the time they reached the last line.
Life at school became much better for everyone. Tanny still remained the nerd, being the slightly antisocial Neopet that had come first in the grade, but all her stolen belongings were returned, and she also gained herself a close group of friends, one of which was Aceliane.
The Queen Buzz had both lost and gained. After giving up her spoilt and snobby cover, she noticed that her overall popularity seemed to decrease, and many of her other ‘popular’ friends had moved on without her. However, what she did not know was that, behind her back, much fewer of the other, less ‘popular’ students backstabbed her. As for the bullies which came back... Tanny fixed them.
Tanny was walking contently down the corridor one day, when she found many people crowding around the noticeboard. Curiously, she tried to push in for a closer look, but someone pulled her out.
“Hey, Tanny!” said Aceliane excitedly, “It’s another singing competition! What about we do a duet? I mean, with our voices together, I’m sure we’ll win twenty thousand Neopoints.”
Instead of the smile Aceliane expected, a frown crossed Tanny’s face. “Last time, altogether, we got thirty-five thousand Neopoints...”
Aceliane took the hint, and explained. “No, if groups come first, the prize money is multiplied to the amount of Neopets in the group. The only problem is that the entry fee is also that many times as expensive.”
Tanny smiled confidently. “I don’t mind. Forty thousand Neopoints sounds good to me.”
“Contestant number eight!” Just like last time, the Kiko and his JubJub friend hosted the singing competition. The JubJub hopped around excitedly as Aceliane and Tanny gracefully walked up the steps and onto the stage and bowed.
“You walk very well,” whispered Aceliane. “My lessons on elegance paid off, didn’t they?”
Tanny was not in the least concerned about that. “We aren’t even honoured with two numbers,” she commented grumpily. Then, seeing the whole school cheering as they walked onto stage, she forced a smile and lifted the microphone to her beak.
“This is a special song we wrote for everyone,” said Aceliane as sincerely as she could, smiling as she did so. This was followed by loud cheers.
“We hope you’ll like it,” continued Tanny.
Patiently, they waited for the cheers to die down. Then, Aceliane moved over to the grand piano, where she sat down and adjusted the microphone. After many tense moments, she began playing the introduction, and the rest of the talking died down.
Confidently, Tanny sang the first verse as softly and emotionally as she could. This was followed by a much stronger chorus sung by both of them. Aceliane sung the next verse, slightly more powerfully, building up the story. This was followed by two choruses, which they sang together.
So far so good, thought Tanny happily, and only three more lines left...
She sang the first.
Aceliane sang the next.
And then there was a melodious bridge which Aceliane liked so much she could not resist putting in. The piano music finally died down, and Tanny got ready to sing the last line as powerfully as she could. From the corner of her eye, she saw Aceliane turn around and smile at her. She smiled back, but froze when she saw what sat next to the microphone. It was a Zytch. She stiffened involuntarily.
“And... err... um...” she mumbled nervously into the microphone.
A few more tense seconds passed, until Aceliane obviously got impatient, and sang the last line for Tanny. Just then, the Pteri remembered the Acara had a strange liking for her wind-up Zytch.
The crowd did not clap. They burst into whispers, until they suddenly realised that the performance was over. When Aceliane and Tanny bowed, they started clapping.
All the other contestants came up to the stage to await the announcement of the results. Tanny and Aceliane stared at the judges’ table tensely. After a while, a little yellow Bruce ran from their table up to the stage, and handed a small card to the Kiko-JubJub pair.
“Fifth place – Contestant number fifteen!” they announced in unison.
The crowd cheered as a faerie Peophin, one of the competitors last time, walked up to receive her prizes.
Aceliane and Tanny both sighed as fourth and third place were announced. Now, only they and the new Queen Buzz, Skrylix the blue Aisha, were left.
“Second place – Contestant number eight!”
Neither Aceliane nor Tanny looked at each other as they received their prizes. They avoided each other until they were back down in the waiting room, when all others had gone.
“You should have sung the last line. Then we would have gotten a whole ten thousand Neopoints more.”
“It was your fault for putting the Zytch up there.”
“You knew it was my best friend and lucky charm!”
“You knew I can’t stand weird bugs!”
“Don’t push the blame onto me.”
“As if you aren’t doing the same to me!”
They gave up playing their game of avoidance.
When their eyes met, they exchanged murderous glares. It was quite lucky no one else saw it, or else they might have been sued for causing unnecessary harm to others. Of course, no one would have really wanted that.