The Taming of Giant's Pit
I landed in the front yard of my owner's Neohome feeling kind of grumpy. I had spent the whole day hunting, as I often did, and found no prey whatsoever.
But when I went into the house, and my owner BG scooped me up for a hug, all my grumpy thoughts dissipated.
"You always know how to cheer a girl up, BG," I murmured, snuggling down in his embrace.
"Another empty day out there?" he asked.
"Yes, another one," I sighed. "I flew the length and breadth of Giant's Pit at least ten times, dropped half a dozen bait or sentry traps, and got nothing. The only reason I wasn't home earlier is because I went down into the Scamander burrows, and you know the hunting is bad when I go down there."
Giant's Pit is virtually unknown outside my homeland of the Lost Desert. But ask any of the merchants in Sakhmet, and you'll hear horror stories. It's a massive pit about five miles across, where a strange substance has formed beneath the sand. It escapes into the air as a bluish, weird-smelling vapor. It does nothing to humans and Neopets, but if a Petpet get even two breaths of the stuff, it turns into a gigantic, mindless, raging monster that only knows how to kill.
I am Urasina, a Speckled Uni mare with the unusual "gift" of large, draconic wings, and I'm a huntress. I am the only Neopian who can successfully go down into Giant's Pit, fight and defeat the monsters there, and come home safely, every time. I have hunted in the pit for years, but now it seemed that Petpets were avoiding the place.
While that was a good thing, it also reduced the income I got from taking contracts to go hunt in the pit. Merchants would pay top Neopoint for me to go down there and retrieve things they lost traveling through the area, and researchers paid even higher for parts of the monstrous Petpets' bodies for research purposes.
"I may have to give up hunting and focus more on my mercenary work if this keeps up," I said to BG later that night as we got ready for bed.
"Giant's Pit will remain a threat, though," he responded. "If there was only some way to neutralize that substance that forms the vapor."
"We know it's not from Neopia, but that's all we know," I commented.
Then I got an idea.
"Hey, if the pit is cleared out... what's stopping me from guiding a research team into the area to do some REAL scientific work?" I asked, getting eager.
"Nothing is," my owner replied. "Maybe you should look into that."
I did look into it. Through a variety of channels, I got in touch with some of the foremost chemists in Neopia, and they agreed to put together an expedition to enter Giant's Pit and do some tests. It took a month to get everything together, and while I waited, I kept hunting. In that month, I only found about 4 giant Petpets. The pit really was cleared out now.
Finally, the expedition was ready. There were two teams involved. The first team would go into Giant's Pit with me, and find a suitable location to set up camp. The second team would come later, bringing the key piece of the expedition: a giant modified mining drill that some members of the group jokingly nicknamed "Largemouth" because of how big it was. Largemouth would bore down into the sand and hopefully hit that weird substance, allowing extremely pure samples to be collected.
So one morning, I met with the expedition on the ridge above the pit. Along with me was my gigantic brother Titance, a Tyrannian Uni stallion.
"I already scouted the pit," I told the expedition leader, a Kyrii chemist. "It's empty."
"OK, good," he replied. "You're more familiar with the area than we are, Urasina, so we'll need you to find an ideal place to set up camp. Specifically, we want to be near a source of water, and possibly one of the geysers."
I thought for a while.
"There's one location that fits," I said. "It's on the far side of the pit, though, a good three miles in."
"We've got the supplies for a long trip, so that will be fine," the chemist responded.
With that settled, I took to the skies and flew overhead as the first team moved into the pit. It didn't take very long to reach the site I mentioned. There was a small oasis there, and about a quarter mile away was a geyser, where the mysterious substance had built up into a high concentration and was basically erupting into the atmosphere.
I kept a keen eye on everything as the expedition pitched tents and brought out their equipment. Then I accepted a load of sentry beacons and dropped them all around the camp. With any luck, they would warn the researchers should a Petpet enter the pit, become a giant, and go on a rampage.
As I returned from dropping the beacons, one of the scientists fired a bright red flare. That was the signal for the second team to get moving and bring in Largemouth.
It took a much longer time for the second team to arrive. There had been three Lost Desert Unis on the team, to pull the drill, but as the group approached, I saw that Titance was pulling it instead.
"Are you OK?" I asked, flying down to him.
"I'm fine," he responded, snorting quietly at me. "Those three barely made it half a mile before they had to quit."
The Lost Desert Unis did look a bit ashamed.
"Eh, that's to be expected," I remarked playfully. "Not everyone's as big and strong as you."
Titance pulled the sled carrying the drill into the position the Kyrii chemist wanted it, then stepped away to let the others work on unpacking it. Once it was fully unpacked, the three Lost Desert Unis took to the sky, each grabbing a rope that had been attached to the drill shaft. They were going to pull it upright, while Titance pushed. But even with all four of them working, Largemouth didn't budge.
"Toss me a rope," I called down, and the technicians hastily tied another one around the drill shaft and threw it up to me.
Using my Light magic to boost all five of us Unis, we slowly hauled Largemouth upright and dropped its head into the sand. Then we all stood way back as the technicians turned on the monster of a machine. With a roar of spinning parts, the drill head began to bore down.
"Where did they get a drill that huge?" I asked Titance.
"They took one of the mining drills from the mines north of Sakhmet and modified it, apparently," he replied.
"Good call on their parts," I said with an approving nod. "Those drills are built to bore through sand."
I spent the next week flying sentry duty over the camp during the day. Since Titance doesn't need to sleep, he stood watch at night. On the sixth day, Largemouth hit pay dirt: the sand being thrown up around the drill head turned bright blue. The technicians shut it down and backed it up, revealing a shaft about 10 feet in diameter and maybe 60 feet deep. The Lost Desert Unis and I took turns flying the researchers down to the strange, glowing, blue, paste-like substance they had found. Other researchers took water samples, sand samples, and vapor samples. They even took samples from the cacti growing around the oasis.
After another two days, the expedition packed up, and Titance and I helped them leave Giant's Pit.
"These samples will be a huge help," the Kyrii told us. "If we find anything out, we'll let you know immediately."
Two weeks of fruitless hunting later, the Kyrii showed up at BG's Neohome.
"We haven't been able to identify the substance, but we DID create a counter," he said. "If we drop this counter on the sands of the pit, it'll seep down and neutralize the problematic substance. Giant's Pit will be normal again, and no longer a threat."
This was interesting, and rather exciting, news.
"Can you create enough of this stuff to do that?" I asked.
"We're already in the process of doing just that," he responded. "When the time comes, we'll need you to dispense it."
"Let me know when you're ready," I told him.
It took another week to get the counter ready, and in that time I still found no prey in Giant's Pit. One morning, Titance, the Kyrii, and I gathered on the ridge again. The Kyrii had six large sprayer devices.
"So how do these things work?" I asked.
"I'll strap one to your back, then you fly low over the sand and pull the trigger as you do," the Kyrii answered. "There's enough counter here to cover the entire pit, and then some. Then we wait a few days and see what happens."
Titance helped the chemist load the sprayer onto my back and secure it.
"Be careful, this stuff could be dangerous if it gets on your fur," the Kyrii warned me.
"Heh, that's what magic shields are for!" I laughed, summoning one as I took off.
The sprayer wasn't very heavy for a well-trained battle-mare like me, but I had to be thorough in my work. It took about five hours to empty all six of them.
"I'm staying in Sakhmet for the next few days," the Kyrii said as he took the last one off my back. "If you can keep me updated on what happens, I'd appreciate it."
The counter worked. Each day that I visited the pit, the air was clearer and the smell of the vapor weaker. Finally, on the fourth day, it was completely gone. On a total whim, Titance chased a Seti into the pit, while I watched from above.
The Seti was unaffected. And when a Horus flew overhead, then dove to land by one of the oases, I knew Giant's Pit was neutralized at last.
There was a celebration in Sakhmet that night. The Kyrii chemist had contacted the other members of the expedition, and all of them had come to celebrate their success. Many of the merchants were there too, as were Titance and I. But while I was happy that the pit was no longer a threat, and that I had done my part, I was also a bit sad.
Titance noticed this, and gently herded me aside.
"You're going to miss hunting there, aren't you?" he asked with concern in his voice.
I nodded slowly.
"I learned so much, and made so much money, and helped so many Neopians," I sighed sadly. "But it's all over."
I looked up at my big brother.
"Titance... what am I going to do with myself now?"