Recognition: Part One
Part One – The Plan
Kreludor, Neopia’s well-beloved moon, boasts of many features which make it as special as any land in Neopia. Consequently most citizens of the planet which this moon circles, tend to consider Kreludor more like a land equal to Terror Mountain or Maraqua than a distinctly separate orbital companion of the planet. In many ways Kreludor is even closer to Neopia than the other orbital feature – the Virtupets Space Station. Not only has Kreludor a very successful Yooyuball-Team, it takes part in the ever prominent pastimes of decorating neohomes with their own brand of furniture, as well as providing a multitude of books for those Neopets who seek to broaden their mind by extensive reading, and for which there even exists an independent Book Award. So it can be honestly said that Kreludor, since gaining its ultimate independence after the defeat of Dr. Sloth, truly became an equal member of the Neopian landscape. That is in all parts of life except one: One of the most prominent inhabitants of Kreludor is not getting the recognition he deserves!
Back in the month of Swimming
Yanno was sitting in his favourite booth at the Café Kreludor, enjoying a nice lunch of Orange Moon Rock Pie, while at the same time contemplating how to rectify the situation regarding the lacking recognition of his skills. Thing was that Yanno was none other than The Grundo Thief, who made his living by stealing those lovely colourful Neopets figurines which Krelufun Industries produced and selling them in secret for his own profit. Of course Krelufun Industries was no longer in any way connected to Virtupets or Dr. Sloth but owned by an independent board of Kreludan Grundos, but as everybody knew the brand, they had decided to keep the name. It had also made it easier to have all the previously signed contracts remain in operation, since only the ownership of the company had changed. Consequently Yanno had kept his source of income without having to scout new factories like the furniture factory or the book printing facilities in order to secure his living as he might have had to do had Krelufun Industries been closed down.
Of course nobody at the Café Kreludor was able to identify him as The Grundo Thief since he was at that moment naturally dressed in a casual Grundo fashion rather than his work outfit of dark turtle-neck sweater and steel enforced woollen cap of similar colour. Only an amateur thief would be so stupid as to appear in a fashion that would allow any Neopet to connect him with his recent thefts. Yanno, of course, was no such amateur; he rather considered himself a master of his trade, thus allowing him to rightfully claim the title of The Grundo Thief (including the fine distinction of having the article written with a capital T). During the hassle with Dr. Sloth, quite a few innocent, ignorant or even naïve Grundos on Kreludor had believed him to be a saboteur rather than a simple thief, stealing the figurines in order to hamper Sloth’s endeavours, thus becoming some kind of hero or picture Grundo for the resistance. By now of course everybody knew that these conclusions had been mere delusions and that he was nothing other than a thief. And as master thief, as The Grundo Thief, Yanno had expected to be approached by the Thieves Guild, once the dust after the defeat of Dr. Sloth had properly settled, with the invitation to found the Kreludan branch of this exclusive guild. He felt that this was simply his due. But no such invitation came, no such approach happened.
The longer he waited, the more Yanno became convinced that Kanrik and his buddies were purposely ignoring him and his skills. Perhaps they thought that stealing cute figurines from a conveyor belt was not comparable to stealing magical artefacts but resembled more pick-pocketing and therefore did not qualify for the guild. As if those once-in-a-while thieves had any idea about the piecework this job really was. It was all about speed, ducking, appearing, snatching a figurine and disappearing again without getting caught or without sporting a disastrous headache at the end of the day. It was much more demanding than the occasional robbing a wannabe hero of their key to fame or even more seldom breaking into a mansion and stealing something valuable from there.
But the longer the invitation was missing, the more convinced Yanno became that he simply had to land one really big coup which would force the guild to acknowledge his mastery. The question of what this big coup should be was the reason for Yanno's thoughtfulness while eating the previously mentioned pie. It had to be grand, it had to be startling; something which affected all of Neopia and most importantly it had to be something which only he could do. Something none of the guild could repeat. But what was unique about his thieveries which would make certain that none of the other thieves could claim the responsibility for the coup? Obviously he was the only thief who had developed a certain immunity against the side-effects of kreludite. There was a reason why the blobs were being transported on wires to the vats rather than having the Grundo workers of Krelufun carrying them in buckets. Because splashing the skin with liquid kreludite resulted in nasty spots resembling Hoochie Coochies, but itched more like Itchy Scratchies. But after having been hit by ever so many blobs of kreludite, his body had developed a nice resistance to the side-effects, which not even the employees of Krelufun could boast of, much less a petty thief of the guild. Yet Yanno knew that however nice this ability was, it was not likely to help him with his big coup. Simply because kreludite was only available on Kreludor and in order for his coup to be startling, news-breaking even, it had to happen on Neopia itself, as being The Grundo Thief on Kreludor obviously had not been enough to catch the guild's attention.
The moment Yanno had thought the word 'news-breaking' a fantastic idea flashed his mind. News! The Neopian Times, Neopia's main newspaper, sported a feature which was unique to Yanno's style of theft and consequently would leave all other thieves behind. Because when printed, the newspaper would, in the final step before distribution, be transported on a conveyor belt. Which meant piecework stealing, something only he specialised in. So if he managed to steal the special issue printed in honour of the Independence of all Grundos, all of Neopia would notice it. Including the guild, who would instantly know whose mastermind and master skills had done this.
It sounded like a great plan, so Yanno decided that The Grundo Thief would steal the special Independence issue of the Neopian Times. Of course this required some preparation, as first of all the conveyor belt at the printing house would be much more densely packed than the conveyor belt at Krelufun, so he'd have to practice. Then he'd have to find some way to discard the newspapers rapidly or else there would perhaps be no newspapers on the belt but all around him which still made it possible for them to be delivered to the distribution points. Simply not being on the conveyor belt did not mean that the issues were really stolen. He had to either find a way to transport them away as fast as a bag or cardboard box was filled or to destroy the papers as soon as they were off the belt. Simply burning them right on the spot was out of the question as any fire would bring attention to the area he was working on. Perhaps he could burn them later, once he finished his task. Save one copy to prove that the issue had been printed. Maybe he would even agree to give this copy to the Neopian Times Archives once he got his recognition.
The transportation of all the printed newspaper copies proved to be a bigger issue than Yanno had anticipated. There were no portable black holes or vanishing solutions available and even if Kauvara, as master magician, might be able to create such a solution, it would take too long. The Independence Issue was a mere few weeks away and Yanno was not willing to wait a whole year for a vanishing solution to be developed. Besides, asking for such a solution might raise suspicion and lead to the Neopian Times’ staff being warned in advance, thus foiling his plan.
All day Yanno contemplated the possible options for transporting the stolen newspaper copies, but to no avail. He was so distracted, that when at work in the factory, he missed more figurines than even on his very first day as The Grundo Thief, which was quite embarrassing to him. But as his daily attendance in the factory was not mandatory and as he had managed to get a good deal on the figurines he had stolen the previous week, he decided that he could afford to stay at home for a few days in the hopes of solving the question of transportation in the meantime.
What followed were long days of taking strolls to nearly every Kreludan site. His first stroll led him to the now abandoned mines of the Kreludor Mining Corporation, another enterprise of Dr. Sloth. Apparently the mines had been reopened since the fall of Dr. Sloth and were now used as a kind of Adventure Park with the famous heroine Hannah helping to chart the yet unknown parts of the mines to make them safe for visiting adventurers. It sounded like a good concept to Yanno, a sure way of increasing Kreludor’s attractiveness for tourists as well as strengthening the moon’s economy, but he was not keen on trying the offered adventure right now. He was too busy with his problem and the caves would not help him find the solution. Another stroll led him to the site of a crashed meteorite, but this was not productive either. On his third day off work, Yanno once more decided to stop for lunch at the Café Kreludor. However, this day fate smiled upon him, because as soon as he entered the shopping district which housed the café, he spotted a rather large advertisement of the Kreludan furniture store, announcing a special offer for hover furniture. The sight of the pictured Hover Wardrobe triggered something in his mind and Yanno felt that he was close to finding the solution. Quickly he entered the café to enjoy his lunch, determined to ponder the possibility of using hover furniture for transportation.
Hover furniture came with the obvious advantage of being easy to move. By tying several wardrobes together with a rope, he would be able to pull them along and each wardrobe was sure to hold a fair quantity of copies. But the wardrobes were quite large, so he would not be able to move a lot of them at once and still be able to manoeuvre effortlessly through the most likely tightly packed printing area. Also the wardrobes were visible, but that, Yanno figured, was no real problem. He could simply paste them with a coat of invisible sand and voilà he had invisible hover wardrobes.
In the end it all boiled down to the question of how many wardrobes he’d need, which depended on how many newspaper copies each wardrobe could hold. Doing some quick calculations based on the average size of a Neopian Times copy and the available space in a hover wardrobe, he was pleased to find that each wardrobe could hold as fantastic a number as 10,000 copies. Yet when comparing this with the circulation of the latest issue of the Neopian Times, he visibly paled. Over 186 million copies! So even with each wardrobe holding 10,000 copies, he’d still need more than 18,000 wardrobes to move all the copies. Not only could he not afford buying so many wardrobes, it was likewise impossible to move such a huge number at the same time. This led to the only conclusion possible: He would need help for this coup. If he bought, for example, nine wardrobes, he could assemble them in sets of three. Then he could fill those three at the conveyor belt, a partner in crime would remove the filled wardrobes and replace them with empty ones while another partner in crime emptied the filled wardrobes in a secure place to make the wardrobes available again. So he would need at least two partners in crime and a secure place for the millions of copies to be hidden or burned.
Burning them became more and more inviting, which made Yanno eventually reconsider the idea of stealing the Grundo Independence Issue. It would be much more convenient to steal the Bonfire Issue as then another bonfire used to burn the copies would not gain that much attention. But then again, Bonfire Issue was ever so far away. Waiting that long to gain recognition, now that he had the perfect idea, was not really enticing. So if he found a way to make a bonfire at the time of the Grundo Independence Issue less suspicious it would be preferable to stealing the Bonfire Issue. Slurping a bit of his grape drink, he considered his options for making a giant fire at the end of the Month of Hiding less noticeable. What if...
It took him three more Grape Slurpships and a lot more ‘what ifs' before Yanno finally came up with the most brilliant idea for his plan. What if he managed to convince the Kreludan Culture Committee to organise a Grundo Independence Parade in Central Neopia (where the Neopian Times had their office and printing facilities) to show Neopia what a great place Kreludor was and that Grundos were about the most fantastic Neopets imaginable? Such a parade was sure to end in a large fairground where all kinds of Grundo festivities would be held. To have a bonfire somewhere on the grounds, perhaps even an orange and purple bonfire in honour of Kreludor would not be suspicious at all. Yanno was sure that this idea would work out well. All Kreludans who knew him as Yanno and did not know about his secret identity saw him as upstanding citizen, so if he approached the Kreludan Culture Committee, he would be listened to. And since he would propose to take care of the coloured bonfire, it would show that he was not simply suggesting something but that he was willing to contribute as well.
What remained was finding suitable partners in crime. They had to be idealistic and they had to be Grundos, because only idealistic Grundos would be willing to enter into a scheme which would not lead to any material gain but only to recognition – well deserved and long overdue recognition for Kreludor - which only Grundos as the native Kreludan Neopets species, even if they lived elsewhere in Neopia, could feel properly. But how to find those Grundos? He could not simply go around asking random Grundos. Better advertise and set up a kind of clandestine meeting where he could judge the applicants ahead of time and only contact them when he deemed them suitable...
The rest of the meal Yanno spent coming up with an enticing yet vague ad he would put up on the notice board for the customers of the café.
To be continued...