Now with 50% more useless text Circulation: 91,831,644 Issue: 177 | 11th day of Awakening, Y7
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The Great Gelert Hype: Part Two


by the_wanderer128

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Meanwhile, over at a small campsite, out in a wooded area, the other three thieves Alissa, Elian, and their leader Bones, who had managed to evade capture, began to express their concern over Tak's unusual absence.

     "Where is he?" Alissa wondered. "I hope nothing happened to him…"

      "Yeah…" little Elian sighed, "he said he would read me a bedtime story tonight…"

      Bones, who wasn't the type to visibly show his anxieties, simply muttered "He'll be here. If I know Tak, he'll probably have some heroic tale of him evading capture upon his return."

     Alissa and Elian couldn't really share that kind of confidence, but they also figured it was too early to start worrying. What if he'd been caught? What if he was in serious trouble, and needed their help? It was feelings like these that made them feel as though they needed to take action.

     "No!" Bones growled, "If he was caught, then the same will happen to us if we go charging out there so soon after a pull." He sat down by the fire, and grumbled "Let's not forget that he slipped up big today. We had to leave the food we grabbed, and remember: he was also the reason the cops were after us in the first place. If he did get caught, it's not our problem, got it?"

     Alissa looked at him with disgust. "How can you abandon your friend like that?"

     "He's not my friend. He's my partner in this little operation of ours," Bones countered.

     "So… we're not your friends then? We're just pawns to be thrown around, so that if one of us goes down, you pretend like it never happened? Is that what you're saying Bones?!" Alissa hissed.

     "I didn't mean it like-"

     "No. I'm right, and you know it Bones," Alissa interrupted. "If you don't go out and look for him, then you can find yourself some other 'partners' for you to use."

     Defeated, Bones decided that there was no use in losing his gang over Tak's mishap. "Fine… But I ain't doin' this alone."

     Alissa sighed. "Of course. I wasn't about to let you do this alone. Remember, we're in this together."

     "Yeah, yeah, yeah…" Bones muttered, as he walked over to the napping Elian. "Hey. Wake up, kid!"

     Alissa ran up to stop him. "Shhh! Can't you see he's asleep?"

     "Yeah? So?"

     "So… let him sleep. The two of us would be enough anyway," she whispered.

     "And he'd probably whine non-stop…" Bones started to say, but halted when he saw the glare in Alissa's eyes. "Let's go…" he squeaked.

***

      Back over in front of the Neohome where Fortuna lived, she and Tak sat out on the porch gazing up to the night sky. "Sorry…" Fortuna sighed, "I could've sworn I had my key when I left…"

     "Ah, it's alright. I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning," Tak admitted.

     Fortuna laughed. "You're pretty funny. I bet they really love it when you're the one dishing soup out at the soup kitchen." Tak reflected on how big his lie had gotten, and realized he was getting in over his head.

     "Um… Yeah! Yeah, they really do! In fact, there's this cute little Wocky with a slight limp drew me a cute picture of us holding hands on a sunny field," Tak continuing to lie to her, said. "If only I could remember where I put it…" he added.

     "Oh that's so sweet…" Fortuna gushed. "That settles it. I don't care what Dad and Lupo say. Why don't you stay with us? Dad is very kind to us, and my brother Lupo couldn't care less about another addition to our family-especially one as caring and compassionate as you."

     Tak began to realize that this was too much for him. She's too kind to be fooled like this. You've got to tell her the truth. Tak opened his mouth, and tried to say it-that he is really a thief, but couldn't get the words out. "Fortuna… I uh…" he started to say.

     Just then, a blue Lupe, and a human proceeded down the front walk towards them. "Hey sis," the Lupe said. Then, looking over at Tak, the Lupe asked "Friend of yours?"

     "That depends. Although he's definitely got a high rating in my book," she replied. Then, nudging the Lupe towards Tak, she smiled and said, "This is my brother, Lupo. Lupo, this is Tak. He's a homeless Neopet/soup kitchen volunteer/Defender of Neopia."

     Lupo examined Tak head-to-toe. "Sounds like you're quite the Gelert," he complimented. "If what my sister said is true, then you should be honored in the Neopian Times."

     "Oh, it's true. Why would anyone lie about those sorts of things?" Fortuna defended.

     "Why me?" Tak thought to himself, as he clutched his head, and gritted his teeth. "Why?" Fortuna noticed this. "Are you okay? You look like you're in pain"

     "Ah… It's nothing. I was just thinking of a good way to repay you for your generosity," Tak explained.

     "Tak, you're like the brother I never had!" Fortuna cried, not realizing the terrible flaw in her praise. "Ahem," Lupo coughed. "Well… non-related brother, anyway," she corrected.

     "Well the more, the merrier," Dad said. "Welcome to our home." He walked up to the door, and unlocked it. "Forget your key again, Fortuna?" he said with a smirk. Fortuna glanced over at Tak, who stared at her silently. "Well maybe this isn't the first time this has happened…"

     Walking into the living room, Tak first noticed "A real fireplace!" he cried, as he rushed over to examine it closer. "Oh. Do they not have them in the soup kitchen?" Fortuna wondered.

     "They do, but they're not really 'fireplaces' per se… More like wood-fired stoves that provide heat. Not exactly the same as good ol' fashioned roaring fires within a brick hearth," Tak casually explained. He was becoming so accustomed to his fake cover that even he was beginning to believe it. Though in reality, laying in front of a fireplace, in a cozy Neohome, was something Tak had always dreamed of, and wanted, more than anything. Lupo quietly grinned at Tak, while Fortuna laughed to herself about Tak's simple mind.

      "I made some hot cocoa for you guys. You too, Tak," the human called. Soon, Tak found himself in the kitchen, sitting at a round table, drinking a nice frothy mug of rich, hot cocoa. Without even realizing it, Tak began to forget all about Bones, Alissa, and young Elian. He began to feel he really was a caring community servant, dedicated to helping the underprivileged, and being an all-around good Neopet.

      "We have an extra room with your name on it, Tak," the human invited. "Please make yourself at home, and don't be afraid to use any of our facilities."

     "Thank you kindly, um… Dad."

     Tak's mind was made up. This was the life for him, and there would be nothing that could change that otherwise. At least, that was his hopeful desire.

     Meanwhile, outside, little Elian, who had finished his nap, was sniffing around beneath a large bush. To his delight, he found 10 NP on the ground, and picked it up.

     "Hehe. Now I can buy that plushie I always wanted." He began to prance around the yard, in celebration over his good fortune. As he did so, his eyes caught a glance of a familiar yellow shape inside a Neohome…

     Elian walked up closer to the window, and peered inside. To his shock, he saw Tak sitting there with two Lupes and a human drinking hot cocoa, and having a good time. With a surprised gasp, Elian lurched backward, and said "Tak? He has a family?" With those words, he ran off to find the others, and tell them of what he had seen.

     Back inside, Lupo, who had become interested in Tak's character, began to ask him of what he did BEFORE all those other things he said he did.

     "What do you mean by that?" a puzzled Tak asked.

     "You know… what did you do before you first volunteered for the soup kitchen?" Lupo clarified.

     Tak thought for a moment. He began to think real hard of what life was like before he settled into a lifetime of thievery. Suddenly, he remembered something he wished he hadn't. It was a memory of pain, and heartache, and despair. It began to tear at him as if it was ripping him apart from the inside-out. Whatever it was, he wanted to stop remembering at once.

     "That's… That's not a happy subject for me…" Tak trailed.

     "Are you sure? Maybe it's not as bad as you think," Fortuna comforted.

     "I'm… feeling a little tired…" Tak softly spoke, his words carrying a distressed inflection. "I think I'll hit the sack for the night…" he sighed, as he walked off without saying good night.

     "Tak…" Fortuna called.

     "Leave him be," Lupo said, gently holding her back, "He may not want to talk about it. After all, it could have to do with him being homeless in the first place."

     Fortuna found no sense in arguing against that assumption. "I suppose you're right…"

     As the hour grew late, everyone else went to bed, leaving the serene Neohome dark, and silent. But Tak laid in his bed wide-awake. Reflecting on what all went on that day he began to wonder if it was possible to work his reality into this fantasy he'd created, without hurting this kind group that had graciously taken him in. Even more so, another feeling was eating him: his memory before he'd joined up with Bones was completely blank. He remembered bits and pieces of it, although they didn't seem comprehensible enough to draw any conclusions upon their meaning. One thing he knew for sure, they were not good memories. If anything, it was something he'd be better off never remembering.

     To take his mind off the growing unease of his past, he decided he would tell Fortuna and Lupo the truth in the morning.

     "It's the only way… The only way I'll be able to look at myself after this…" he muttered, as he drifted off to sleep at last.

To be continued…

 
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Other Episodes


» The Great Gelert Hype: Part One
» The Great Gelert Hype: Part Three



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