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N for Zurroball?


by hanlb

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SPACE STATION - It was an ordinary day and as your average unpublished freelance journalist, I was strolling Neopia, hoping for a story to spring itself across my path... It had been four hours, and NOTHING. These kind of nonevents kill off morale and so for a bit of a boost and some neopoints, I went to play Zurroball. After clicking around like a mad man, minimal scoring and a wave of defeatism starting to kick in, I decided to perhaps look for a guide to aid me. A certain Neopian has a page full of them, and so I headed straight there. After scrolling to nearly the bottom of the page, I found what I was looking for: Zurroball guides. I was about to click on the first one when I noticed something; there was a code for Zurroball. I glanced at it and read: “Code: Click on the N to gain access to a secret level.”

Usually, this would mean nothing. I’d take the code and run off and play with an extra life, or twenty seconds on the clock or... But wait, click the N?! N?! Surely this Neopian meant Z. The Z on the Purple Grundo’s space suit. It was a Z. Zs and Ns look similar when rotating, but how could he have made this mistake? Z for Zurroball. It’s common sense. I was in the process of writing a “corrective” neomail, when something crossed my mind. What if it WAS an N? Then I was going to get a (no doubt polite) neomail back correcting my incorrect correction or just be flat out ignored AND one of Neopia’s elite was going to think I was,

1. An insane n00b

2. An extraordinarily unintelligent n00b.

So, I decided to check it out for myself. About four seconds later, my face was maroon with embarrassment; it was indeed an N and I was thanking the Meepits that I had thought to check before sending that Neomail.

But now I had a new dilemma on my hands: N for Zurroball? Something was amiss here. I had some investigating to do. With my trusty journalist notepad on hand, I was determined to crack the case and find out just what that N stood for. Maybe it was a relic of a lost world of Neopia, maybe it was the initial of the mysterious Purple Grundo, maybe it was... I had to find out!

First stop: The Virtupets station. After a rather uncomfortable journey, I explored the Supply Deck. After stopping in Space Petpets to “stroke” i.e. graze knuckles with, some of the robotic petpets, I wandered first to the Recreation Deck and then the Hangar. Zurroball was nowhere to be found. I stopped at Grundos Café for some Cherry Yoghurt and made conversation with the massive Grundo Chef that stood before me.

“Zurroball?” he said. “Oh yes, it was never based here because of its involvement with Neopian Protection Zone 6b.”

“What’s that?!” I asked. The Grundo looked me up and down.

“Well, I shouldn’t really tell you, but you don’t look like that much of a threat.” I felt mildly insulted. “Basically, Neopia was under attack from these strange bug things, and Zurroball was the number one recreational game for the agents involved in stopping the attack. So it was never based here. But listen, that’s classified eyes and ears only information; you can’t ever write down anything about Neopian Protection Zone 6b.”

“Ha, me, write?!” I said, pushing my notebook farther into my bag with my foot. “Do I look like I write much to you?”

“Obviously not, but I’m just saying.” This Grundo was obviously hot on the insults today. I guess I’d set myself up for that one, though. “Don’t ever put any knowledge of Neopian Protection Zone 6b into written form.”

“Oh, I certainly won’t,” I lied.

Solution One: N for Neopian Protection Zone 6b.

Next stop was... Well, I had no idea. To try and get some inspiration, I stopped off in Neopia Central at the Food Shop. It briefly crossed my mind that I shouldn’t always stop for food. Too bad, a larger part of my brain stated. I strolled towards the Rainbow Pool with a slice of Cherry Pie in my hand. Maybe I should stop eating so many cherry related products as well, I thought, and then stopped in my tracks. The N-N-National Neopian! Of course! I ran inside and spoke to the Skeith at the cash desk.

“What do you know about Zurroball?” I asked.

“It’s a wonderful game!” he said. “It’s the number eighteen top neopoint earning game; many Neopians drop off three thousand NP a day from it!”

“Really?! But how can they click and concentrate and...” I stopped myself. Gaming tips was not why I was here. “Okay, thanks a lot,” I said and strolled outside.

Solution Two: N for National Neopian.

I thought next about the Purple Grundo. After having drawn blanks at Virtupets and not up for a trip to Kreludor, I thought about famous Grundos. The Grundo Chef I had met. The Spider Grundo was creepy and I couldn’t bear to think about it. Zygorax was all about Evil Fuzzles from the Stars and not Zurroball. Truggadon was a legend because he liked Cherries Jubalee but that was all I knew. Zarex was concentred on the Last Blast. The Plot Grundos were... Plot Grundos. I doubted they had much time for Zurroball. The only other that crossed my mind was the bandit leader, Farvor. But how could that possibly be related to... I thought suddenly of the mysterious Niten Hiroru. He was the hero that had kept Farvor in place! A few cogs began to move in my head...

Solution Three: N for Niten Hiroru.

I was completely out of ideas, but I thought that the three that I had were extraordinarily perceptive and one of them was probably correct. I headed back to Zurroball. Nothing. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this freelance stuff after all... I had zilch. As a very last resort I headed to Kreludor. It always makes me feel a bit ill there, and there’s so little to do... There was also nothing on Zurroball. As I sat in Kreludor Café, eating an Orange Chocolate Bar because they had nothing with cherries, I looked out at the sky. WAIT A MINUTE!! Sky, stars... NOVAS. Now it made sense. I was getting good at this.

Solution Four: N for Nova.

I went back to my Neohome to sit down and write my article on the mysterious N. On my way there, I thought I’d stop by the chat boards to boost my mood and maybe “lurknlaugh” on a few threads. I noticed a topic about Plot Prizes. Ah yes, the Return of Sloth... I wanted to see what my 3mod calculating would earn me. I got in the mood and contributed a few ideas, before noticing one weapon that another Neopian hoped we might receive: The Neutralising Ray. Perhaps the N on the spacesuit was a cry for help! The poor Grundo was being controlled by a Neutralising Ray! It was hoping that this subtle hint that Sloth would miss, but an astute individual such as myself would pick up on it!

Solution Five: N for Neutralising Ray.

I met a dear friend in the Slushie Shop to share my revelatory article with and to get her to look over it.

“N for Zurroball,” she read out loud.

“Give it a read and let me know what you think,” I said. I finished my Black Cherry Slushie and waited for the utmost praise of my literary skills and observant eye. I was expecting gushing, sonnets, maybe even the proposal of a statue made in my honour. I knew I had cracked it. One of the options in my article had to be correct. I would be hailed as,

1. A journalistic genius

2. Incredible investigator.

I knew a wonderful career lay ahead of me regardless.

“You idiot,” my friend said with a slight smirk. “How about... N for Neopets?”

Oh.

 
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