The Legend of Premium Bat: Part One
Also by jair_lorce
Battius Battington sat at the spacious dining room table of his AstroVilla suite. The large windows provided a nice view of the town square of Premium. The townsfolk hurried through sheets of icy rain heading home for the evening. Battius sat quietly, a bite of stew still in his spoon; his attention focused on the scene of the street below. A frown marred his handsome face as he noticed the somber expressions of the people. The eerie silence disturbed him. There were none of the familiar greetings called back and forth to each other. Gone were the usual pleasant exchanges between neighbors. Even the dreary weather could not explain it.
The very last time he'd sat here to watch the evening bustle of people going home for the night, he'd been struck by the kindness he'd witnessed. He remembered watching two young Meercas assisting an elderly Ogrin as she crossed the street, arms laden with shopping. He recalled the pleasant personality of the Skeith bank manager he had met when he'd stopped in to transfer funds between his accounts. It was the general sense of good cheer that had made this community one of his very favorite places to visit. The sharp difference between those pleasant memories and what he'd witnessed today unsettled him. People didn't spare a breath to greet their neighbors. They moved quickly and vanished behind swiftly-closed doors. What had happened here?
As he sat watching, his attention was drawn to a group of masked individuals appearing from an alleyway. Looking furtively about them, they vanished into one of the stores across the street. His meal forgotten, Battius dropped his spoon in his bowl. He quickly flitted to the window and opened it, leaning out into the rain. The clear sounds of screams and breaking glass carried across the street, even over the pelting rain. Moments later, the masked figures reappeared, carrying an unconscious Aisha between them. The sight of the helpless Aisha's ears dragging in the mud caused something inside Battius to snap, righteous fury quickly bubbling to the surface.
Something must be done! He would not stand for this! Premium was supposed to be a safe haven from acts such as this taking place. He could not stand idly by as the very hope of the people was drained from them, and from this community. Wasn't the Space Faerie supposed to have Premium under her personal protection? He was sure he'd seen something to that regard engraved at the base of the beautiful statue standing in the middle of the town square. What could have possibly happened?
Snatching up his walking stick, he leapt out of the window, his wings quivering in the fierce winds. Diving sharply, he flew rapidly after the group vanishing down the shadowy alley. Flying right at the figures carrying the young Aisha, he struck them across their heads with his walking stick. Then he landed between them and the cart they were running toward. Crying out at the pain of the unexpected blow to his head, one of the masked figures lost his hold on the Aisha, dropping the unconscious Neopet to the ground. Glaring at Battius he rushed toward him, fists clenched. He realized then that his friends had abandoned him, leaving their loot on the ground near the cart.
His own features set in a menacing snarl, Battius stood his ground. He raised his walking stick in warning, fully prepared to strike the ruffian again. Seeing that the Korbat was not going to run, the masked bandit ducked past him, running away down the alley. Battius whirled, quickly flinging his walking stick at the feet of the fleeing figure. The stick tangled in his feet and the thief went flying. Striking the brick wall of the alley with a loud thud, he slid to the ground, unconscious. Battius quickly ripped several strips of fabric from one of the bags the intruders had left behind and used them to bind the hands and feet of the fallen thief. He then strode immediately to the still form of the Aisha.
Turning her over gently, he brushed her hair away from her face. He was relieved to see her eyes flickering open. Awareness returning, the confusion on her face was quickly being replaced with fear.
"Shhh," Battius soothed her. "You're all right now. It's all over."
Tears filled her eyes, and she sat up. She smoothed her skirts, trying to make sense of all that had happened.
"They took all of my Neopoints! They took... what happened?" Her voice faltered as she noticed the bags on the ground, as well as the unconscious thief.
"Your property is safe. I'll assist you in getting it back into your store," Battius said as he helped her to her feet. He kept a wing under her arm until he was sure she could stand unassisted.
People began to gather in the street, attracted by the commotion. Battius assisted the Aisha, carrying her things inside the store. Several townspeople stopped to help, showing the compassion for which the town of Premium was best known. The tale was later passed around from citizen to citizen, how a brave Korbat had stopped a guild of robbers single-wingedly, armed only with a gentleman's walking stick and the courage of a hero.
And so the legend of the Premium Bat was born...
After dragging the unconscious thief into the store, Battius checked his bonds to make sure they were tightly secured. He questioned the young Aisha about what had happened in her store and in the rest of the town. She told him about the frequent robberies and other illegal acts committed by this mysterious guild of wicked Neopets. She also mentioned that the first incident occurred almost a month ago. When Battius inquired about the whereabouts of the Space Faerie, everyone agreed that they hadn't seen or heard from her in several weeks. This worried him very much. Something was terribly wrong here.
When the thief finally began to stir, Battius sat down beside him and explained that there were limited options available to him. If the thief cooperated and provided information about his role in the events occurring in Premium and gave his word not to repeat his crimes, he would be allowed to go free. If he refused to cooperate, he would be transported to an icy prison, exiled for the rest of his life.
The thief knew he was on his own and agreed to cooperate. He told Battius about a shadowy being that called himself The Bruce. He stated that The Bruce had hired him and his companions to collect valuables. To spread fear and intimidate the townspeople on his behalf.
"When I asked him if he was going to protect us when the Space Faerie found out, he told me not to worry about that silly Faerie, that he'd taken care of her. Then he laughed," the thief told Battius, shivering. "It scared me, that laugh."
"How were you planning on delivering the stolen items to this individual?" Battius asked.
"We was to meet him at the beach on Mystery Island in two days. On Friday at midnight," said the thief. "Fair warning to ye, Korbat. He has a wicked big weapon he carries with him all the time. I wouldn't want to get in front of it."
"Thank you for your cooperation," Battius said. "You've been given a chance to start over and make changes in your life – don't waste it."
"I won't," the thief replied. Slipping on his coat, he left the shop.
Checking to make sure the young Aisha didn't require any further assistance from him, Battius modestly shook his head at her heartfelt thanks and bid her good evening.
As he made his way back to the AstroVilla, Battius thought long and carefully about what to do next. He decided the only thing he could do was try to find out who this "Bruce" was, and how he had "taken care of" the Space Faerie. Speed was of the essence. He could not waste time on a leisurely flight. His own wings were not suited for rapid flight. They were also unsuitable for long-distance flying. He would need to depend on a stronger flyer. Returning to his suite, he packed his things and called his travel agency. He instructed them to book him air passage to Mystery Island immediately.
The next day he took an Eyrie Enterprises flight to Mystery Island. He relaxed on the comfortable seat, enjoying the rush of the wind over his face as his powerful carrier transported him smoothly to his destination. After a perfect landing, he thanked the Eyrie that had carried him. Retrieving his luggage, he made his way to Starberry Suites, his preferred accommodation on Mystery Island. Leaving his things for the steward to unpack, he stopped by Tiki Tours and got a map of the Island. He decided the next logical step would be to familiarize himself with his surroundings, so he wandered down the beach, taking note of the lay of the land.
A pair of young Kougras who were building sand castles smiled at him as he walked toward them. He visited with them briefly, passing on some of his knowledge about sandcastle architecture in exchange for some information from them about the island. When he asked them about activity on the beach at night, their smiles quickly faltered. They told him they weren't allowed there after dark. In hushed tones, they quickly explained that they overheard their parents discussing a "rough element" being around after dark lately. Thanking them for the information, he continued down the beach.
Toward the far end of the crescent-shaped beach, Battius noticed deep drag marks in the sand and evidence of wood fires scattered about. Overlooking this deserted section of beach were a few straggly palm trees and one of the giant wooden heads commonly found on Mystery Island. A faint sound caught his attention and Battius cocked his head, listening hard. He didn't hear the sound again and finally turned back toward his hotel, ready for a cool drink and time to think.
The next night Battius once again walked down the beach, staying in the line of trees that edged the sand. Settling himself comfortably, leaning back against a rock outcropping, he waited. The moon rose brilliantly over the sea, and the air cooled around him. He continued to wait patiently, running through possible scenarios in his mind. He firmly controlled the fear that sometimes took over, and led him to wild imaginings of how this night might end. Finally, he came to the conclusion that no matter the outcome, he couldn't sit by and do nothing. He had to try.
His attention was captured by the sound of wood on wood, then the swishing of displaced water. Suddenly, rough voices could be heard and over them, a high-pitched voice, almost like that of a child. Battius sat quietly and watched. Within a few minutes, a boat came into his view. He watched as men jumped from it, dragging it onto the beach. Figures of various sizes made their way ashore, vanishing behind the vast wooden head he had noticed the day before. The voices were muffled now, but it sounded as if they were arguing. Several hours later, he watched as the figures went back to the boat. He sat unmoving as they dragged it back into the water and hopped inside. The sounds of their oars gradually faded away.
Waiting until he was sure they were well gone, Battius walked over to the wooden idol. He inspected it as closely as the surrounding darkness allowed. Finding an odd depression in the wood, he pressed it in, and a concealed panel slid open to reveal a narrow doorway. A torch was left burning on the wall just inside the doorway, and he took it down to help light his way. A few feet inside the entrance, a crudely-made staircase descended into the earth. He could see no light nor hear any sound coming from the lower level, but he was still extremely nervous. Suddenly, he heard what sounded like a distant cry from an infant. His hesitation quickly faded. He had to see what was going on and determine why a baby was somehow involved with thieves.
To be continued...