All Just a Little Bit of History Repeating: Part One
Sometimes Mr. Jennings liked to walk at night.
Neopia Central as a city never really slept; there was always a steady stream of night workers or midnight food vendors travelling the streets, but there was something so peaceful about dark hours. The cold smog of the streets pressed against the green Krawk’s face as he made his way out of the Docklands and into the more respectable areas of the city.
For a time, there was only the sound of his cane striking the pavement with rhythmic precision, intermixed with the odd cry of joy or fear in the distance. The Krawk breathed in the city air – the air of his city. Jennings controlled these streets – a criminal, for those to whom details are important, but a businessman to the public.
Jennings had gotten to this position by being acutely aware of every single thing happening in the city. He’d spent years carefully removing evidence from the eyes of Judge Hog, and dealing with his competitors in secret before they had a chance to deal with him.
But something that caught Jennings entirely by surprise loomed out of the darkness on that particular night. Atop a house he was passing, a Techo was standing on the roof.
Through the smog Jennings could only make out the creature’s outline, but he seemed to be messing with some sort of metal pole.
“Are you alright up there?” Jennings called out.
The Techo stumbled backwards in shock, and would have fallen from the roof had he not grabbed onto the pole.
“Err... yes, thank you!” the Techo called down in a worn but somehow excited voice.
“What are you doing?” Jennings pressed.
Thieves of course were common in the city, but thieves that didn’t have Jennings’s express permission were less common – because they didn’t last long.
“Just a meteorological experiment,” the Techo called down.
“You’re a man of science?”
“Oh yes,” the Techo chuckled. “I’m from the Museum... head of the Magical Research Department, don’t you know.”
“No,” Jennings confessed. “I did not know... in fact, I didn’t even know there was a Magical Research Department.”
Not that it meant a lot, as the National Neopian Museum was so large that it had hundreds of individual research sections in the endless corridors of rooms.
“We don’t get out much,” the Techo admitted, before standing back from the metal pole. “There, that should do.”
The Techo turned to a ladder and with some difficulty made his way back to ground level. With the smog no longer blocking his view, Jennings could see that he was a green Techo of considerable age, with a white beard that almost touched the floor.
The researcher held out his hand. “Professor Moriarty Bungle, Head of Academic Techomancy, to give my official title.”
Jennings shook the hand. “Mr. Jennings.”
The Krawk noticed with some curiosity that the name did not ring any bells with the Professor. When he said he didn’t get out much, he really meant it.
“Are you a man of science yourself, Mr. Jennings?” Moriarty asked.
“I certainly try to keep abreast of all modern theories, yes,” Jennings told him.
“Excellent!” The Professor beamed beneath the beard. “This is an experiment investigating the effects of High Level Electromagnetic Stimulation on the Magical Properties of Neopian Life in terms of a Temporal Wormhole utilising Bronheim’s Theory of Temporal Conduction and the Thornpipe Infinity Formula.”
“I see,” Jennings lied. “Is it... dangerous?”
“Oh, not to the general population... I wouldn’t think,” Moriarty considered.
Jennings sighed internally. This man appeared to be a wizard, which meant his estimates were largely to be ignored.
“To this little critter, though... that’s another matter,” Moriarty said.
He bent down to a small cage on the street, attached to a wire that seemed to lead up to the metal pole. A Snowbunny was shivering inside.
Above them, the sky began to rumble.
“A storm?” Jennings questioned. “There wasn’t one forecast.”
Moriarty smiled. “My immediate predecessor at the Museum, Professor Volgan, spent his career experimenting into divining the future. One of the events he predicted was one of lightning hitting this particular house on this particular night. I had thought it might turn out to be inaccurate, but it appears for once he was actually right.”
“Oh, sadly it turned out most of his life’s work was without merit – during his final experiment, he evaporated,” Moriarty explained, before adding, “He didn’t see that coming.”
The rumble in the sky continued, louder than before.
“Do I understand that you intend to electrocute this Snowbunny?” Jennings asked.
“Only in a three dimensional sense,” Moriarty replied dismissively, before noticing something atop the roof. “The Flux Capacitor is out of alignment!”
He dashed, for an old man at least, up the ladder and began messing with the pole madly.
Jennings meanwhile picked up the Petpet’s box. A nametag hung around the little Snowbunny’s neck.
“Hello, Quantum,” Jennings greeted it. “Such a waste, really. I shall never understand wizards.”
Jennings moved to place the box back on the floor, but at that moment, a bolt of lightning streaked down from the sky, connecting with the metal pole and causing the Professor to topple backwards off the roof.
The electricity travelled down the wire, passing through a strange device on the wall that Jennings had not noticed, before connecting with the box he was holding.
Instead of the large shock Jennings was expecting, instead there was a strange tingling feeling all over his body. The world seemed to swirl slightly around him, and then as expected, he was blown clean off his feet.
Jennings woke slowly, light flooding his eyes and forcing him to squint. He groaned slightly as he got to his feet and held his head until the world came into focus. It was daylight, though thankfully he didn’t appear to have been blown into the next street.
The Petpet cage was lying open nearby, the Snowbunny appeared to have escaped.
“’Ere mister!” an Aisha nearby shouted, alerting Jennings to the presence of the hustle and bustle of city life. “Ee’s just nicked your cane!”
The Aisha pointed off into the distance, where a Lupe was disappearing round a corner leading to the Docklands.
Jennings rubbed his temple; he would have to make a note to have the Lupe found and brought to his particular form of justice.
Jennings glanced up to the roof, Professor Moriarty was gone.
“Did you happen to see an old Techo?” Jennings asked the Aisha.
“No mister,” the Aisha replied. “I ain’t seen nothin’.”
Grumbling slightly at his growing headache, Jennings stumbled his way back to the Docklands. At this time of day, Mr. Black would be waiting at Jennings’s tower, and they would be able to resume their business. Jennings’s first stop would be the Museum – to give the Professor a lecture on proper use of magical equipment.
Jennings rounded the corner to the street his tower was on and stopped dead.
It wasn’t there.
Instead, a run down old shack of a building stood in its place. It was the building that had been there before he began construction.
Jennings stood there for a few moments as his mind worked through the situation.
Was it Brodman again? He had managed to trap Jennings inside a fictional Neopia Central once before... but that had been deserted, and there were people here.
Eventually, Jennings grabbed a passing local by the arm.
“Where’s the tower that used to be there?” he asked.
The Acara stared at him. “You feeling alright? That house has been there for decades!”
The Acara shook himself free and continued on his way, while Jennings backed away, heading back out of the Docklands. Something was very wrong.
Jennings had to think, he had to find something familiar, someone he recognised. Strangely, his first thought was of Judge Hog.
Making his way across the Marketplace, Jennings headed towards the Defenders of Neopia Headquarters, a building he essentially owned along with the rest of the law enforcers in the city.
Again, Jennings stopped in his tracks.
Although the Headquarters was, in a way, still there, it was not in a form he remembered. Where there was once a shining white building, there was now a construction site. The skeleton of the skyscraper was still there, but it was surrounded by scaffolding, and the sounds of construction reached Jennings’s ears.
Once more, Jennings stood perfectly still for a few moments as he processed the new information. Eventually, he turned and made his way to the nearest newspaper vendor. He bought himself a copy of the Neopian Times and began to read. The headline immediately caught his attention.
‘JUDGE IRONS ARRESTS TEN THIEVES GUILD MEMBERS’
Judge Irons... now Jennings was really beginning to worry. Irons, as far as Jennings knew, was the name of a rather hard line Defender of Neopia – the previous commander to Judge Hog.
Jennings glanced up to the date of publication, and his heart skipped a beat.
Judging from his surroundings, there was no way this was the Neopia Central of 950 years in the future, and the letters after the date confirmed that... AA, After Altador.
It was the dating system they used to use, formed after the Darkest Faerie’s betrayal and the disappearance of Altador. Some brief calculations in Jennings’s mind revealed it was the equivalent of Y17 Before Neopia...
Jennings glanced up at the city in front of him. Somehow, the Professor’s experiment had sent him thirty years into the past.
He was trapped, alone in the past. With no way back.
To be continued...