Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 191,030,080 Issue: 594 | 10th day of Hunting, Y15
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A Bruce with a Contract


by sirr1ch1

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The Bruce sat in the darkest corner, of the darkest inn Mystery Island had to offer. The air was stifling. Being a Bruce, he was more suited for the cooler climate of Terror Mountain, but he always went to wherever his contracts sent him.

     The door to the inn opened, letting in a slight breeze that the Bruce barely noticed. A nervous Acara stood in the doorway looking around uncertainly. Ah, thought the Bruce, she must be my next customer.

     The Acara cautiously approached. "Hello," she said, the nervousness in her voice was clear, and the sweat on her forehead had nothing to do with the heat. "I understand you are the Neopet to come to if someone wants to get a little... revenge."

     The Bruce gave a slight nod. "Who's the target?" he asked smiling, a smile that never reached his eyes.

     The Acara licked her lips. "Reginard, he's a Lenny," she said with a venomous tone. "Let's just say he's a little too lucky, always winning prizes. He won the jackpot on the Wheel of Extravagance twice last week and Coltzan gave him a blessing. But to top it all Naia the Fountain Faerie gave him a quest, she only wanted Blumaroo General Trousers and Boots. Reginard painted himself Eventide and thinks he's the Buzzers Knees now."

     The Bruce sighed, Why do they always feel the need to justify what they are asking me to do? he thought. To the Acara he said, "From what you said, I take it Reginard is in—"

     "The Lost Desert, yes," she finished for him, placing a bag of Neopoints on the table between them. "It's all there," she added, her eyes looking everywhere but at him.

     "I hope it is," he replied, causally picking up his weapon and carefully pointing it in her general direction. "I would hate to have to find you to collect... extra payment," he added.

     The Acara gulped. "I erm... think I forgot to include the travel expenses," she mumbled, pulling out a second slightly smaller bag of Neopoints.

     The Bruce sighed deeply, they always tried to rip him off, he might look young but he had a warrior's heart. He sighed again, The Lost Desert is even hotter than here, he thought bitterly. "Travel fees are double for the Lost Desert," he growled.

     A flash of anger swept across the Acara's face for a moment before she remembered the weapon still in the Bruce's hand. She pulled out a third bag and dropped it onto the table. "Are we done?" she asked a hint of anger still in her voice.

     He gathered up the three bags. "I think so," he muttered.

     ********

     The Bruce walked the length of the harbour, he had already spoken to the dock master, a large Green Nimmo who went by the name Jeff, and found out the next ship heading to The Lost Desert. The Flotsam's Tail, as it was called, was a cargo ship built for speed rather than comfort. It transported fruits and vegetables from one continent to the next. The speed of the vessel would lessen spoilage of the delicate cargo before they reached their destination, and speed is precisely what he wanted right now.

     He walked up to a rough looking Jetsam, the captain, who was shouting at his crew as they were loading packed crates into the hold. "Jenkins, you drop one more crate and I'll drop you when we're half way across the sea. I'm sure my family will give you a warm welcome," he snarled.

     "Excuse me," the Bruce said cheerfully, "I am looking to book passage on your fine vessel. You're going to The Lost Desert I hear, and I've always wanted to go there"

     The Jetsam turned around, gave a laugh and said, "Beat it, kid. I don't take no sniffling landlubbers." He went back to yelling at his crew.

     Undaunted, the Bruce continued, "It's just me and my little friend here." He pulled out his weapon seemingly from nowhere.

     "Look, kid, why don't you just..." the captain began as he turned, his eyes grew as big as saucers when he saw what "the kid" was holding. "I'm sorry, sir," he stammered, "I didn't realise it was you. Of course we will take you. You can have my quarters and pay whatever you think is fair."

     The Bruce smiled inwardly, he could of course said who he was right away, but he did enjoy making grown Neopets feel like fools, especially mean ones like the captain was. He handed over a very small bag of Neopoints; the captain was pretty sure he had picked up more off the ground.

     "Icaiar," the captain called out to his second in command, "move your stuff in with the rest of the crew. I'm taking your quarters; we have a passenger that will be taking mine."

     "But Cap..." Icaiar began before seeing the Bruce standing by the captain, a sweet smile that contradicted the weapon he handled. He slumped his shoulders before heading to his cabin.

     ********

     The Flotsam's Tail sped into the harbour at the Lost Desert three days later. From there it was a simple matter of taking one of the river barges over to the twin cities of Sakhmet and Qasala.

     The Bruce stepped off the barge, the gentle sea breeze that had been the only good thing since his arrival was replaced by a harsh desert wind, full of sand and heat. He blinked away as much sand as he could before heading to Qasala. He knew Reginard played the Wheel of Extravagance there and the Bruce might get lucky and find him there. If not, he would speak to his contact in the city.

     The Bruce arrived at the Wheel of Extravagance, wondering why it was so hidden away. Not seeing Reginard there, he decided to place a bet and handed over a whopping 100,000 Neopoints to the Red Tonu. He spun the wheel with all his might, his excitement grew as the wheel slowed down, but disappointment sunk in when it finished on the large X which meant no prize. He causally stretched, revealing his weapon that until then he had kept hidden.

     The Tonu almost jumped out his skin when he saw what the Bruce was carrying. He gave the wheel a swift kick, sending it forward a couple more clicks, now the arrow was pointing to a prize. He smiled as he handed over a Glittery Scorchstone. "Congratulations," he said with forced enthusiasm, "between you and that Eventide Lenny I hardly make any money and all."

     The Bruce's head snapped around, suddenly the Glittery Scorchstone didn't seem important, he still slipped it into his bag however. "Tell me about this Lenny. When does he come here? And where is he now?"

     The Tonu was momentarily shocked, realising what he thought was an innocuous statement may just land someone in a whole load of trouble. He didn't really care if that someone was that Lenny however, as he really had been winning a little too much. "He won the jackpot just this morning," the Tonu stated. "So I won't be seeing him for a few days. He likes reading though, so he might be at the Words of Antiquity, or Sutek's Scrolls over at Sakhmet."

     The Bruce moved as swiftly as he could, considering the heat in the narrow streets. He slowed as he climbed the large steps leading to the main door to the Words of Antiquity. He marched straight up to the owner, a Yellow Nimmo who had an open sack of scrolls on his back, which he was carefully placing out on display, all the while haggling prices with customers. As they spotted the Bruce entering, the customers began to quickly gather up their purchases, dropping their Neopoints onto the counter, most of them overpaying in their haste to get out.

     All that remained was the owner and a Gold Meerca haggling over the price of some parchment. "I paid four hundred Neopoints for this myself. I can't sell it to you for less or I'll be losing money!" the shop owner yelled with feigned hurt.

     "Four hundred and fifty, that's my last offer," the Meerca replied, knowing full well the scroll was worth twice that.

     The Nimmo was suddenly aware how quiet his store was. Looking over the tables he saw who had walked in and nearly dropped his sack of scrolls. "Ddddddd.. done," he stammered, handing the scroll over to the Meerca, taking his money without even bothering to check it. The Meerca was clutching the scroll and grinning triumphantly as he turned to leave. But as he spotted the Bruce, he let out something like a squeak and darted quickly for the door.

     "Uhmm.... uh, how can I help you?" the Nimmo asked, his eyes flickering toward the closing door as the Gold Meerca slipped out.

     "I'm looking for a Lenny named Reginard. I was told he shops here," the Bruce said, with that smile that never quite reached his eyes.

     "Reg? I've never known such a rich Neopet to haggle so hard. Despite his wealth I barely make any money from him," the Nimmo blurted out, clearly relieved he wasn't the Bruce's target. "He left about half an hour ago, said he was headed to Sutek's Scrolls to see what he could get there."

     The Bruce made straight for the rickshaw bay, he climbed into one of the two-wheeled carts. This one had a Blue Shoyru standing by it. "Where to?" it asked.

     "Sutek's Scrolls," the Bruce said, as he tossed the Shoyru a generous amount of Neopoints. "You can double that if you get there in record time."

     The cart took off. The Bruce smiled as the breeze from the speed washed over him, giving some thankful relief. He was nearing the target, he could feel it.

     ********

     As the cart approached the tent that housed Sutek's Scrolls, the Bruce spotted an Eventide Lenny exiting the shop, his colourful winged arms cradling a huge stack of scrolls. "Stop," the Bruce said in a whispered yell. The Shoyru dug his feet into the sand stopping the cart abruptly. The Bruce jumped down, handing over the promised Neopoints, the Shoyru had certainly earned them.

     He carefully followed the Lenny, stealth is what was called for now, he really didn't feel up to a chase through Sakhmet. The Lenny headed for the Scratch Card Kiosk, purchased one ticket, which turned out to be a Sandtravaganza Scratchcard, which of course he won the Jackpot with. The owner muttered something about the Lenny always winning. He handed over a huge bag of Neopoints.

     The Bruce then tailed the Lenny as he moved down the narrow streets, finally stopping at what appeared to be the front door to his Neohome. Overloaded with Neopoints and scrolls he was unable to open it.

     "Let me help you with that," the Bruce offered, striding up to him.

     "Thank you, young man," the Lenny said, barely able to see over his considerable mound of winnings and purchases. As he bent over, so the Bruce could take items from the stack he felt something hard press into his belly. Looking down he saw a strange looking ray gun, he looked back at the Bruce. His face turned white as realisation dawned on him. "AHHHHHHH!!! Not Boochi!" he cried.

     Boochi raised an eyebrow, smiled slyly and calmly said, "Zap." He pulled the trigger of his ray gun. It was all over in a flash, the once beautiful Eventide Lenny was now a Baby.

     "Bwahahaaa," cackled Boochi, with a glint in his eye.

     Reginard scrambled to pick up his bag of Neopoints with his now too short arms. "Who did this?" he asked. "The Tonu at the Wheel of Extravagance? The owner of the Words of Antiquity? Or Sutek's Scrolls? Was it the guy at the Scratchcard Kiosk? Or that pesky Acara who is always giving me funny looks?"

     "I'm afraid I never give out the identities of my clients," Boochi replied, handing over one of his business cards. "But if you would like, you can always hire me to target any of them. If you're lucky, maybe you will guess right."

The End

 
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