Chet Flash wuz here Circulation: 142,862,738 Issue: 176 | 4th day of Awakening, Y7
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The Great Gelert Hype: Part One


by the_wanderer128

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"So, everyone knows what to do, right?" a burly red Grarrl said, as he and three other Neopets stood in an offset alleyway. A young green Wocky, named Elian nodded his head. "I create the diversion…"

     "… I keep a look-out for trouble…" a female blue Uni, known as Alissa, added.

      The Grarrl leader, known by many, as 'Bones', glared at the yellow Gelert that was sitting there, silently. "Ahem…" Bones prompted him. But the Gelert simply ignored him.

      "Answer me, Tak!" he roared.

      "Huh…?" Tak answered in a groggy voice.

      This Grarrl had little, to no patience whatsoever. "You're drifting! You're with me! Unless… you think you can't handle it."

      Tak stood up on his feet, and began to perk up a little. "Yeah, yeah. I'm good. Let's do this."

      The small, mismatched little band made their way to the Neopian Central Marketplace. This was their weekly routine; and this is how they made a living. Even though they did this many times, Tak was unsure about what they were about to do this time around. But it was not the job they were about to pull off. It was doubt about why he was living this type of life. Somewhere deep down inside him, he felt as if this was not what he was supposed to do.

      Taking cover at the back of the Food Shop, the Bones nodded his head towards Elian. He nodded back, and snuck towards the front of the shop. Then, taking out an old Chia plushie, he began to whip up some fake tears.

      "Sissy! Where are you?!" he screamed, in a high-pitched voice. Tak winced when he heard him scream. But it wasn't because he was really annoying. It was because this Wocky was so young. And there he was, willfully aiding Bones, who was dragging him into a life of thievery.

      At the same time, one of the Chia clerks ran out of the shop to see if he could help the poor kid in any way. "What's wrong, son? Are you lost?" But his voice was almost drowned out by the loud wailing that young Wockies are notorious for.

      "Clyde!" the clerk yelled into the shop. "Come out here and give me a hand!" At those words, Bones winked at Alissa, and she immediately began looking around to the front of the store, to make sure no one was coming.

      "Ready?" Bones said, as he prepared to open the back door to the shop. Tak reluctantly nodded. Both of them went inside, and found themselves in the shop's stock room. "It's all clear. You know what do, so get to it!" Bones whispered. Tak said not a word, as he grabbed boxes of food, and slid them out the back door, as quietly as possible. As soon as they were close to getting everything they needed, both Tak and Bones heard voices coming from the shop front.

      "Ah great… It doesn't look like all the shopkeepers are out of here," he whispered, carrying the last big box out of the store. Tak prepared to follow after him, but then, he looked out into the shop front, through the open door, and saw… the most beautiful Faerie Lupe standing out there, quietly conversing with a shop clerk.

      "So do you have any banana-nut bread?" the Faerie Lupe asked.

     The Chia clerk scratched his head. "Not out here… but I'll check in the storage room," he replied, as he made his way right to where Tak was standing, staring at that Lupe from the back.

     Bones had heard the clerk's voice, and knew it was time to leave. "Let's get out of here!" But to his shock, Tak still stood in place, even as the clerk's footsteps were beginning to draw closer. "What are you doing?!" he growled.

     It was too late. The clerk entered the stock room, and saw a Gelert that was not supposed to be in there. "Thief!" he cried. Tak finally snapped out of it, and made a mad dash out the back door. Even though Bones was none-too-pleased with Tak's carelessness, he knew there was no time to waste. "Split up, and get out of here! We'll meet up at our usual place!" he shouted to Tak and Alissa, while running away.

     "Don't get caught," Alissa warned, as she departed the scene.

     Unfortunately, the heat was already on. A Skeith police officer just happened to be at the front of the store, comforting Elian, still vainly trying to continue the diversion. He heard the clerk's cries, and immediately took off after Bones. The Skeith immediately blew his whistle, calling for back-up from other cops. Tak was running as fast as his four paws could carry him, down behind the row of shops. Luckily for him, all the police officers on the scene were pursuing Bones, only because a Neopet of his stature is difficult to miss.

     Tearing blindly around the corner, and out onto the street, Tak ran as fast as he could towards a local neighborhood, hoping to lose his pursuers. Scanning his surroundings, he saw no police officers in the vicinity, and began to relax a little. He was so busy looking over his shoulder, in fact, that he bumped into another Neopet going in the same direction. Looking up, Tak immediately recognized that it was the same Faerie Lupe from the store.

     "Excuse me…" Tak apologized. The Lupe stared at him for a moment, and smiled.

     "That's quite alright. I haven't seen your face around here before. Are you new here?" she questioned.

     "You could say that…" Tak started to say, "or, you could say I'm just passin' through," he added with cool assertion.

     The Lupe chuckled a little. "Okay… So where do you live?"

     "What? Did this become an interrogation?" Tak crossly contended.

     The Lupe backed off a little when he said this. "Sorry. Didn't realize that was such a touchy subject…" she trailed.

     Tak realized he wasn't talking to his band of thieves that he'd become accustomed to carrying a no-holds-barred conversation with. So he quickly retracted himself.

     "Sorry myself. I could've put it a little more delicately than that," Tak solemnly replied. "To answer your question, let's just say that I… live here and there…" He stopped.

     "So do you have anywhere to live?" she asked. Tak couldn't answer that. He knew he couldn't. To tell her where he lived, was to reveal that he was lowly criminal living wherever Bones told where he and his fellow thieves' would live.

     Think Tak, think! he frantically thought, trying to come up with an alibi. Finally, he said "Nowhere. I have nowhere to live."

     The Lupe's face changed from a scowl to a sympathetic look. "Oh… you poor thing…"

     "Oh, it's no big deal. I grab a few scraps here or there, I have a nice cardboard box to sleep in. It's great!" Tak fibbed, trying not to make it sound like a big deal. But Tak's little white lie quickly began to spiral out of control…

     "No, it's not great," she interjected. "No one should have to live out here, where it rains, sleets, snows, and occasionally smells of old asparagus."

      Tak, gaining the impression that she was taking this too seriously quickly countered with another excuse. "But there are plenty of others out there who don't have a home. They are okay with it, and so am I."

     The Lupe didn't look at all like she was buying it. "Well not you. You're coming home with me." Before Tak could react in any way, the Lupe had him firmly in her grip by his paw. "Ow! Lemme go!" Tak yelled. But the Lupe ignored him, as she whisked him away to her Neohome.

     "My name's Fortuna by the way," the Lupe, finally breaking her silence, said. Then looking towards Tak, she asked him for his. "My name is Taekush. But I prefer being called 'Tak'," Tak replied.

     "Okay then, Tak. Pleased to meet you," Fortuna grinned, as she continued pulling him to her NeoHome.

     It was beginning to get late, and the sun was beginning to sink below the horizon, as the night sky began to succeed the light. Tak, being dragged along by Fortuna, could only imagine what was in store for him. And even more, it bothered him that someone could actually show so much pity for one Neopet.

     "Why are you doing this?" Tak asked her. "You know you don't have to…" he insisted.

     "It's what I do," she replied. "My brother and I made a pact to help anyone whomsoever needed it…" she paused, "so just consider this as me upholding that pact."

     "Her brother..." Tak muttered. Suddenly, he began to feel very uncomfortable about what he should do to get out of this. Things were happening so fast, that he barely had time to dwell on one thought. He was supposed to be meeting up with his comrades-not being dragged into a strange Neopets' home for afternoon tea. His mind was racing with such a great torrent of wonder, that he almost missed Fortuna saying "We're here."

      Departing his gaze from the ground, Tak looked up to see a modest NeoHome sitting there, in the midst of this small neighborhood. Seeing this warm and inviting NeoHome made Tak rethink his strategy a little. "Maybe I could take advantage of her hospitality for a little while…" he thought, as he walked up to the front door alongside Fortuna.

To be continued…

 
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