Deception, Suspicion, Alliance and Missions: Part One
Pacing his office, Lunor pondered over the recent events. How was he going to pull this one off? If he didn't do it, he risked being struck off and he knew what that meant. He gulped at the very thought.
Going to his wardrobe, Lunor pulled out some black clothes and a balaclava, which were carelessly thrown onto the desk, shortly followed by a black, leather rucksack.
All of a sudden, the door burst open and in strolled a blue Lupe.
"Still here, Lunor? I would have thought the Big Cheese would have given you the sack by now!" snarled the Lupe, chuckling to himself.
"Now, why would he do that, Blint? Besides, I've got the biggest mission in five months!" Blint's smirk was wiped off his face by this statement, clearly gutted this opportunity had bypassed him.
"Humph! Well, um, don't be so cocky! You haven't successfully completed it yet, have you? I'll see you around then, Luney!" Blint turned abruptly and left the office, head held high.
Lunor cursed him under his breath; he hated being called 'Luney'. Noticing the time, he hastily changed and, backpack in hand, left the room.
Three hours later
Following the long walk from the Ice Caves to Neopia Central, Lunor prepared himself. It was a situation of all or nothing; this was the biggest mission of his life and, should he mess up, the Boss would be eating fried purple Kougra on toast for dinner.
As he approached his final destination, Lunor felt butterflies in his stomach. He tried to rid himself of these pests, yet they only grew worse.
Looking up, Lunor gasped at the site that stood before him. A massive flashing sign proclaimed the location for any Neopian dumb enough not to know where they were.
"Wingoball!" it exclaimed in big, fluorescent letters.
In the blackness of the night, Lunor was invisible to the naked eye. Flat against the building, he crept around its perimeter, wary of people that might recognise him from previous missions. Glancing from side to side in true commando style, Lunor entered the game...
He was immediately confronted by a cheery receptionist – the type that get irritating beyond belief.
"Hi there! If you want to play Wingoball, please take the first door. If you have an enquiry about Wingoball, take the second door. To play a different game, take the third door. If you don't know where you are, take the fourth door and, should your issue not be any of these, take the fifth door. Good day, sir!"
Lunor smiled weakly at this obviously revised speech although his insides were rolling around in laughter.
Taking the first door, he strolled into the first level of Wingoball. No gnomes, red hatted or green hatted, were present as yet.
Clearing this level with huge skill and accuracy, Lunor continued.
The second level was very much the same and Lunor had no difficulty in passing it.
However, on the third level, Lunor came face to face with what would become his arch-nemesis, in due course. The green hat wearing gnomes, walking at a tenna's pace up and down the level, stood before Lunor. He had realised, way back in the planning stage of this mission that, should these miniscule beings catch wind of what he was doing, they would do all within their power to protect their brothers.
Deliberately firing a few stray balls in order to appear as a newbie with no advanced level of skill, Lunor traipsed past the third level, receiving many evil glares from the gnomes as he did so.
Level four presented Lunor with yet more of the creatures Lunor had begun to hate. Their number was many more than the previous level, there could have possibly been as many as twenty gnomes, all with the same goal: to stop Lunor progressing through the game at any cost. Yet, once again, Lunor proved himself and the gnomes did not emerge victorious. Lunor continued.
Level five! This was where the last stage of his plan would be put into practice.
It seemed simple as he went through it in his head, yet Lunor knew he would not succeed with such ease.
The expressions on the red hatted gnomes were horrifying. Their glaring eyes seemed sharp enough to pierce even the strongest armour.
Taking his first step cautiously, Lunor approached one of the gnomes, the smallest and weakest looking one.
"Well? Are you going to play or not?" The squeaky voice was easily two octaves higher than Lunor's.
"Where I come from, good manners and courtesy are immensely important. We must show each other our meaning of good will before the level commences," Lunor replied calmly, although his insides were raging with nerves. A few snickers were heard from the gnomes.
"Very well then," the reply from the impatient gnome was.
Gracefully, with both feet together and paws wither side of their bodies, the gnome and Lunor bent into bows.
However, Lunor's good manners and elegance disappeared in a fraction of a second and, while the gnome's face was pointed towards the floor, Lunor's paw swiped the hat clean off the gnome's head.
"Why you little..." the gnome began and gave chase after the Kougra which had already sprinted off in the opposite direction.
After a slightly delayed reaction, the other gnomes ran to the aid of their comrade.
Lunor knew that he only had to keep his lead over the gnomes for thirty seconds before his time would be up and he would be immediately pulled out of the game.
Panting, Lunor continued his frantic dash. Extra gnomes had joined the chase as word of what had happened had reached adjacent levels.
10... The babbling of gnomes grew so loud that Lunor could barely hear himself think. Their number was spirally towards a hundred at an alarming pace.
9... Lunor, anxiously looking behind him, did not see the garden ornament which was strewn across the lawn in front of him. He tripped over it clumsily, painfully bashing his chin on the hard stone as he did so.
8... In a mad frenzy to get up, Lunor pulled a muscle in his left leg. His pace was slowing significantly as he half ran, half limped further.
7... Panicking at the amount of agony he was in, Lunor unthinkingly glanced over his shoulder although he was immediately faced with regret at this action. The gnomes were but five metres behind him and the gap between them was decreasing fast!
6... Unable to keep up the activity and drained of energy, Lunor collapsed to the floor. He was swarmed upon by millions of gnomes. That was when it all went black.
Lunor's eyes flickered open. A bright light blinded him. Was this heaven, where good, angelic Kougras lived in peace and harmony for all eternity? If so, what in Neopia was he doing here? Surely he was completely unworthy of such a place?
Lunor's vision cleared and he became aware that he was not, in fact, in heaven. Instead he was within an office, sitting on a chair.
"Hang on a minute, this is my office!" Lunor thought to himself. Sensing somebody nearby, Lunor swung out violently, expecting it to be a gnome seeking revenge. However, it was Blint.
"What are you doing here?" Lunor growled, trying to sound threatening.
"Well, I could have left you at the mercy of the gnomes. Fyora knows what would have become of you had I not intervened and rescued you!" Blint replied, obviously rather offended at Lunor's tone of voice.
"What? You saved me? How? Why?" Lunor was deeply confused. Surely Blint would do whatever he could to be rid of Lunor? What had Blint been doing there anyway?
"Okay, I admit it! I followed you there. I was jealous of your mission and planned to sabotage it," a gloomy Blint reluctantly admitted, obviously sensing Lunor's quizzical mind. "I might have come across as though I've got it in for you, but I couldn't just leave you out there in that state!"
An awkward silence followed this revelation. It was Lunor who finally chose to break it.
"We're friends now, right?"
"Yeah, I suppose you could say that."
"Blint, I really need to tell you something."
"Sure, what is it? If it's about how that large fishy smoothie got in your wardrobe last week, I admit it was me."
"No, it's not about that. It's just that, earlier, the incident with the gnomes went a bit too wrong."
"Well, isn't that pretty obvious. We've already established that you mucked up big time, Lunor."
"Yes, I know that! But, I can't help wondering what went wrong. I planned perfectly down to every last detail! But those gnomes! How did they multiply so quickly! They must have had other help, I reckon they were warned."
"Lunor, do you know what you are saying? This could be a huge scandal if it gets out!"
"Yes, Blint, in fact, I've never been surer of anything in my life..."
Meanwhile, in another room, a shadowy figure observed Lunor and Blint's conversation on a bizarre pyramid-shaped device.
"So, you've finally worked it out, Lunor, you clever little Kougra. But that's just the start of what I've got in store for you..."
To be continued...