Misadventures of a Neopian Times Reporter XI
Also by birdinggal
On that day, I was lounging around in my room with my friend Birdy. Birdy was a fellow reporter, though she worked for the Neopian Times. She was lying on her stomach on the floor, giggling at my sketchbook of doodles. I was sitting in my super plush writer's chair, my lap desk propped up on my knees, a piece of paper in front of me.
I was supposed to be working on comics, but instead I was doodling whatever Birdy told me to, which happened to be Parlax, Gorix, and a blender.
"So," Birdy said after she recovered from her latest giggle fit. "What are you currently working on?"
"Well, my boss wants me to interview someone famous, or infamous, for the paper. Someone not current, exactly. Just to see what they are up to now, what they have planned, all the usual junk. I'm out of ideas though. There are only so many times I can pester Dr. Sloth, and other types like him tend to be less accessible," I rambled.
Birdy squealed so loudly with glee that I heard things crash below, dropped by my startled Neopets. She bounced up onto her knees and spun around, with slightly more grace than I probably could have managed with that move. At least she managed to catch the arm of my chair to keep herself from falling.
"Parlax!" she squealed. "Do Parlax!"
I grinned; Parlax seemed like a great idea. But, my spirits quickly dropped.
"Birdy, I don't know how to find Parlax," I said.
"But, I do!" Birdy reminded me. "Or, kinda. It'll take some work, but I'm confident that I can help you find him, and then you can write the best article about him ever!"
I felt my spirits rising. It was great, Birdy and I always had the best adventures, and this one would help me get a great article. It would be work, but it would be so much fun it wouldn't be like work! I jumped out of my chair.
"What are we waiting for?" I asked.
Birdy picked up my doodle off my lap desk and examined it, giggling happily. She folded the picture and carefully put it in her pocket before saying, "Let's go!"
We ran out of the room. She raced down the stairs, I tripped down them, and we were off.
We reached the Eyrie Taxi stand before I thought to ask where were going.
"Terror Mountain!" Birdy told me excitedly.
"Why Terror Mountain?" I asked
"There is a scary old castle up there they say is haunted! They say members of TNT went missing up there, never to be heard from again. We should go check it out," Birdy told me.
Of course, this wasn't exactly what we had set out to do, but when Birdy gets excited things tend to go out the window. Unfortunately, when I'm with Birdy, the same thing happens to me. I was so gung-ho to take on this new adventure I totally forgot I was supposed to be working.
However, it only took five minutes of trudging through the snow on the Peak of Terror Mountain to crush my enthusiasm.
"Birrrrrrrrrdy!" I whined. "I'm cold! How much further?"
"I see a house up ahead!" she cried excitedly, seizing me by the wrist and hurrying me along. "That must be it!"
We crashed through the door into a warm, well-lit sitting room. I instantly recognized it as a place I shouldn't be. Taelia's house.
Taelia was sitting near the fire, and rose glowering when she saw us.
"Yeah, this is probably the right place," I told Birdy.
"What are you doing here?" Taelia demanded. I think my audacity at coming back to her house, even all these years later, surprised her. Sure, she had never let up on pranking me while I was on the Mountain, but I hadn't come near her place since the disastrous interview.
"We're here to investigate the disappearance of TNT staffers. Come clean, you dastardly villain!" Birdy cried heroically.
Taelia rolled her eyes. "You're only about a decade too late for that. That happened up at the Ski lodge, which was demolished a few years ago."
"But, you were behind it, weren't you?" Birdy demanded.
Taelia looked at me. "Kristy, if you and your demented friend don't get out of here right now, it will take Moltara a year to thaw you out."
I gently took Birdy's arm. "Hey, Birdy, why don't we get back to the search for Parlax, huh?"
Birdy's eyes lit up. "Yeah! Hey, Taelia, you don't happen to know where Parlax is, do you?"
"Why would I know where Parlax is?" Taelia screeched.
We rushed out of Taelia's house, dodging the snowballs she started hurling at us. Once we were a safe distance from the house, I asked Birdy where we were going next.
"To Meridell!" she declared.
"Are we on the hunt for Parlax there?" I asked, trying not to get sidetracked again.
"Of course we are!"
So, we got into the Eyrie Taxi and set off.
I grinned and spun around to take in the view as we walked up the hill towards Illusen's Glade. Meridell never failed to fill me with awe.
"That's my castle over there, Birdy. Have I ever invited you to see it? Elise has done wonders with the courtyards. I don't know where she gets all her talents. They certainly didn't come from me," I rambled, not really giving Birdy a chance to get a word in edgewise.
I turned my eyes back to the road leading into the forest. "So, we're going to see Illusen? How come?"
"Is that where this leads?" Birdy asked. "I thought this went to the Castle Town."
"Uh, but didn't you do an article on Illusen with Christos awhile back?" I asked.
"Oh, yeah, maybe we did," Birdy said, thinking. "Christos keeps the map. He claims I'm directionally challenged."
Something unpleasant was tingling in the back of my mind, but it was eluding me. We hadn't stopped walking while we talked, and whatever it was that was bothering me was still just out of reach. We walked through the gates of the Glade.
Illusen was stooped over a flowerbed, weeding it. She looked up and at first she smiled at me. I smiled back and started to wave when she frowned. She had shifted her gaze to Birdy. Suddenly I remembered what it was that had been bothering me. Birdy and Christos' article had hardly been flattering. They'd accused Illusen of having a secret evil gallery in her house, among other things. Which also meant they had snuck into her house, uninvited.
"Oh, Borovan," I moaned as Illusen rose, her face had an angry flush to it.
"You! How dare you come back here after the things you wrote about me?" Illusen demanded.
I looked between Illusen and Birdy. Illusen was fuming, Birdy was grinning complacently, and I didn't know what I looked like, but I'm sure it wasn't a flattering look.
"Oh, hi," Birdy said cheerily. "We're looking for Parlax."
"We?" Illusen rounded on me. "Kristy, you're with her?"
"We've been friends for a long time now. We're both reporters. She's helping me on a job," I said aloud, mentally adding, "Or at least I thought she was. Could we mess this day up any worse?"
"Do you have any cookies? I love those cream cookies you give out for quests," Birdy said.
"Out, both of you, before I do something I'm going to regret later," Illusen ordered.
I grabbed Birdy's arm and jogged us out of the glade and down the hill, while Birdy complained about not getting cookies.
"I'll get you some cookies later, Birdy, I swear. Just please, can we find Parlax? I thought we were looking for him, and you knew how to find him," I gasped out once we were a safe distance from the second Faerie we'd managed to tick off that day.
Birdy's eyes lit up. "I've got it!"
"Yes?" I asked hopefully.
"The Bakery in Neopia Central has cookies!" Birdy cried triumphantly.
"No, Birdy, not cookies. Parlax!" Suddenly I had a thought. "I'll bet Parlax has cookies."
Her eyes grew wide at the thought of Parlax and cookies.
"You know, Parlax keeps quarters up on the Space Station," Birdy told me.
I could have cried. It was just like Birdy to remember the place we should have started at last. Instead I grinned and said, "Ready?"
"Let's do this!" Birdy cried.
With a cheer we took off running for the Eyrie Taxi. It was back to Neopia Central to catch a shuttle to the Space Station.
I awoke with a start as the shuttle docked at the Space Station. It was now about three a.m., and the nap I'd taken on the trip up really hadn't done much more than to make me groggy. I poked Birdy awake, no easy task with how deeply she can sleep, and we departed the shuttle. She was perky and ready to go.
"Lead the way, Birdy," I yawned.
She skipped along and I trailed behind, combing my now very disheveled curls with my fingers and hoping I didn't look too undignified when we found Parlax. I wanted him to take me seriously so I'd get a good interview for the article. Birdy led be to the lower decks, places I hadn't really realized existed. As we wound our way through the lower decks I mentally composed what questions I would ask Parlax when we found him.
Suddenly, Birdy stopped and held out an arm to stop me. Ahead of us was Parlax. I started to squeal with delight, glad our search was finally over, but Birdy slapped a hand over my mouth.
"Shhhhh," Birdy hissed in my ear. "You'll give us away."
"What?" I tried to say around her hand.
"If Parlax sees us he'll try to flee," Birdy said. "We have to capture him."
My heart sunk. Birdy and Parlax had a 'bizarre' relationship, that I knew. She had chased him for years, trying to make him hang out with her, and sometimes he actually did. But, she was right, if he saw her he'd probably expect she had some crazy tea party planned and take off.
"Well, this is grand," I whispered back. "What do you have in mind?"
Birdy pulled a length of rope from her backpack. She grinned wildly at me. I covered my eyes; I couldn't watch what was coming next. I heard Parlax's startled cry as she pounced on him.
"This is so unprofessional!" I whined.
"Hello, Parry!" Birdy cried exuberantly. "Miss me? I've missed you."
"Oh, yes; I've missed you more than a Meepit misses the Sway."
I uncovered my eyes and saw Parlax sitting on the ground, tied securely with the rope. Birdy was hugging him, her grin stretching so far it was threatening to tear her face. I pulled out my notepad and pencil.
"Okay," I started.
"No, not here!" Birdy cried.
"Why not?" I asked, mentally cringing.
"They could come at any time! We need to get Parlax out of here, for his own safety," Birdy said.
I could see Parlax wanted to facepalm, and I decided I didn't want to ask who 'they' were. It would probably turn out to be MAGAX and a Blender. I decided I needed to limit the number of things I learned today, since none of it could be unlearned.
"Okay, let's do whatever has to be done as fast as possible," I said.
She got to her feet and lifted Parlax, handing him to me.
"I'll scout ahead, you follow," Birdy said, pulling an Asparagus Powered Ray Gun from her backpack.
I whispered an apology to Parlax as I followed my friend, our captive slung over my shoulder. Birdy led the way to the shuttle hangar. I looked around.
"Birdy, what are we doing in here?" I asked.
"We need to take a shuttle out," Birdy said.
Of course, I assumed that Birdy could fly a shuttle, if that was her escape plan. Parlax started to squirm wildly, protesting and calling for help. That should have been a warning to me. Birdy picked a shuttle and we got on. I put Parlax in the back and he looked imploringly at me.
"Blondie, please, she's crazy," Parlax implored.
"Yeah, she is, but I've been told I'm crazy too," I said with a shrug. "Don't worry, I promise we'll release you once Birdy is satisfied you're 'safe'."
"No, you don't understand-" Parlax started.
"Hey, co-pilot, get up here!" Birdy called gleefully.
I hurried up to the front of the shuttle and buckled into the copilot's chair. Birdy was randomly mashing buttons, or it at least it appeared that way to me. I wished I'd paid attention when Chloe told me about her spaceship piloting lessons. The ship she learned on was much bigger than a shuttle, but I might have some clue about what Birdy was doing right now.
Suddenly the ship started moving, colliding with the hangar doors.
"So, that's what that one does," Birdy said triumphantly.
"Birdy, don't we need to get the doors open?" I asked, starting to realize why Parlax was so nervous.
"That would be a good idea! Help me find the button," Birdy cried.
I looked into the back, Parlax looked sick. I had one of my rare lucid moments. "Birdy, why don't we let Parlax pilot the shuttle? He can fly it fastest, and then we can get down to Neopia Central and buy cookies."
Birdy must have agreed with the soundness of the idea, because before the final syllable had left my mouth she was in the back untying Parlax. She dragged him to the front, and he sat down in the captain's chair. In a few short seconds he had the ship ready and the hangar doors opening. I mentally sighed with relief, we weren't about to crash into Neopia Central or something like that.
"Parlax," I said with trepidation, expecting a swift rejection after this escapade. "I came here to do an article on you for the paper The Weekly World. Would you mind answering a few questions?"
Parlax glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. "Yeah, why not?"
I suppose he figured that the best way to make sure we'd leave him alone was to do it. During the flight to Neopia Central he answered my questions, and the ones posed by Birdy. I had comprehensive notes that would ensure for a decent article by the time he landed in an open field on the edge of Uni meadows.
It was now almost five a.m. and the sun was starting to color the sky. Birdy and I got out, calling our goodbyes to Parlax. He took off, and we stood watching the ship as it disappeared into the sky.
"We should do this again sometime," Birdy said.
I hesitated only a moment. Then, I started to laugh. I leaned on my friend as I choked out, "Yes, yes we should. Life is never boring with you around, Birdy. Now, let's go get those cookies. My treat."