The Meerca Chase Secret
"My knees hurt," moaned Sophie, but kept following her siblings.
"Everything hurts," Lalisana added angrily. "I must have bumped my ears at least a hundred times. A Cybunny's ears weren't meant for narrow tunnels."
Mickey glanced in the direction of his sisters' voices and continued crawling forward. "Don't Cybunnies burrow?"
"What would a... wait, I forget, what did the lab turn you in last? Oh yes! A Meerca! Which is why we had to play Meerca Chase until we had no feeling left in our legs." Lalisana could feel her way perfectly through the dark passage but she was not about to let Mickey know. This was all his idea. As usual. No amount of adventure seem to ever satisfy him. She could be at home right now, comfortably reading a book. "And when we are all completely exhausted from Meerca Chase, what does Mr. Genius suggest? Let's go down the hole in the secret level! There must be something exciting down there!"
"Everyone else avoids the hole," pouted Sophie.
Then they all went quiet.
"Whoooooooaaaaaaa! What is this place?" was the general kind of comment being whispered between the three Neopets as they poured out of the passage and into a huge room. They walked slowly across the cool floor and amongst the vast machinery, strong mechanical arms hanging high above their heads. For once the siblings were all hushed, as if knowing they were not meant to be there, admiring the spotless, reflective steel surfaces. Sophie grabbed an opportunity smooth out her fur, examining her reflection carefully for any blemishes to her carefully tended brown coat, when something caught her eye.
"Hey, that conveyor belt is moving!" Sophie discovered. They had not noticed before as it was so quiet, just a soft whirring accompanied the smooth motion of the conveyor they could barely see.
"Maybe we've ended up in the Freaky Factory," Lalisana mused, though the usual controls were not immediately visible.
Mickey looked around and stopped gloating about the grand discovery for a second. "Naaah, it's too clean. The Freaky Factory has giant vats and paint everywhere, not to mention that we have not yet been attacked by that Ninja Grundo demanding more plushies." Everyone rolled their eyes at the thought of the purple clad Grundo, but the smile was soon back on Mickey's face as he finally managed to get a better view. "Guys, you won't believe what's on that conveyor belt..."
Lalisana and Sophie quickly followed their brother to a higher vantage point and gasped in unison "Neggs!" and, indeed, there were rows and rows of neggs on conveyor belts, always at the same distance from each other, all rushing somewhere, stretching out into the distance in an expanse of space that seemed to have no beginning and no end. Neggs! Neggs were awesome! They tasted good, sold well and the Negg Faerie praised you if you fetched some. Neggs were what Meerca Chase was all about!
Lalisana managed to worry a little, despite the fantastic sight. "I can't see where we came from."
"It doesn't matter." Mickey shrugged. "We couldn't have gone back that way anyway. But just look at all these neggs. Too bad they're all ordinary, yellow ones."
"Maybe they have a special store of the better neggs."
"I want a Smiley one."
"A Rainbow Negg would match my fur very nicely."
"But I want a Smiley one!"
Further bickering about their favourite type of negg ensued and generally prevented them from having any idea where they were going as all around the conveyor belts moved silently, indifferently carrying their neggy payload along.
Lalisana wiggled her nose thoughtfully. "You know, these are probably all the neggs we chase after in Meerca Chase."
Mickey stopped in shock and stared at her - she could be so clever some times, it just had to be all those books she read. "You know, I bet you're right! This is a giant negg factory for Meerca Chase. Why did we never wonder where all those neggs all came from?"
"I'm too tired after Meerca Chase to wonder," Sophie muttered.
"And if this is the Meerca Chase negg factory, and in Meerca Chase we get all kinds of neggs, then there should be colours other than yellow here," Lalisana completed her thought triumphantly. "Though yellow is the most common one, so the really good ones are probably few and far between."
It seemed a reasonable assumption and a good negg was worth looking for, however several hours of further investigation revealed nothing more than the same machinery filled with yellow neggs. "Now that we've found this, how do we get out of here to tell anyone," Sophie whined. "We're going to be stuck here forever. We're never going to get home. They will find us one day and sweep us out with the other rotten neggs!"
"Well, maybe if you were a Faerie Xweetok you could fly around and find the way out, but you're not!"
"Don't yell at her, Mickey. She's much younger than us and she's very tired, as am I."
"Fine, fine. Well, I guess if we climb up over there and then I stand on your head, propped up by my tail maybe I can see a bit further."
"I don't like you standing on my head."
"Do you have a better idea?"
As it turned out balancing a Meerca on a Cybunny wasn't very successful, or at least not for very long. Mickey picked himself up from the ground and tried to straighten his tail out a bit but his frown also contained excitement. "I saw something different in the distance, maybe a way out, over in that direction."
"Something different? Like what? We are looking for an exit, you know."
Mickey gave his sister a look and kept pointing. "Just... different."
"Well, that really fills me with hope," Lalisana commented sarcastically but headed the way he had indicated. Half a dozen biting comments later she began to reconsider. "The place does look different, you know," she had to admit, looking around at the rusty equipment and noticing the cracks on the floor. The longer they walked, the worse everything seemed to become. They started finding machine bits scattered around and the light seemed to flicker from time to time.
"I don't like it," Sophie grimaced. "It's not as shiny as before; it's more creepy now."
"Doesn't look like anyone cares about this bit," Mickey exclaimed, partly because he had to talk quite loudly over the various metallic creaks and groans surrounding them..
"Yeah, it seems virtually run down now. I would say they don't use this part of the factory any more, except I can still see and hear the machinery moving." Lalisana's gaze followed a hook bouncing along worryingly towards a large gap in the metal.
"You can see the neggs from underneath here." They all gathered under the exposed conveyor and spent some time just looking at the neggs go by. They were all getting quite hungry.
"Maybe we can reach one of those neggs or maybe one of them will fall down, they don't look too stable," Mickey said hopefully.
"Yes, or maybe some giant cog will fall down and squish us," Lalisana muttered, eyeing the whole thing suspiciously.
Suddenly, it was as if her words had provoked the automated processes. The entire machine paused its work with a mechanical cough, shook violently, let out a screech louder than anything they'd heard before, for a second seemed to be preparing to explode and finally decided to catch up to its normal operations by shooting forward. Alarmingly, this meant that the belt jumped right off its tracks in a big wave, but it quickly settled down after piling three yellow neggs onto each other. The three Neopets had already covered their heads and were scrambling about for cover when an amazing sight rendered them frozen, unable to look away. For then, right before their eyes, the three yellow neggs were swirling together in a slow and elegant dance, gently illuminated by a light that didn't seem to be coming from anywhere at all. Soon you couldn't tell where one negg ended and the next one began, until finally all three neggs had become one. Most fascinating of all this negg was no longer yellow, it was blue! Mickey reached out for it, but the moment had passed, the flow of time returned to normal and the conveyor belt was speedily taking the neggs away through a maze of further machines, then vanishing out of sight. They all sat down and looked at each other, allowing themselves slowly to realize what it all meant.
Lalisana was the first to pull herself together and apply cold logic to it. "Well, if three yellow neggs make a blue negg, this corresponds with the value they have in Meerca Chase. Which means.."
"...that we need fifty yellow neggs to make a fish negg," Mickey interrupted.
Lalisana gave him a small nod and continued her calculations. "However, 50 neggs cost around one hundred thousand neopoints..."
"...while a fish negg sells for millions!" squealed Sophie.
"We'll be rich," whispered Mickey.
"Only if we can get out of here." Lalisana's words ended the discussion and the three Neopets determinedly set about looking for an exit.
So that's where differently coloured neggs come from.
Or so my Neopets told me when they came home very, very late one night, stumbling around in the dark. A very large pile of smashed yellow neggs later, they're still grounded in their room. As I had to clean up the neggy mess, which remained distinctly yellow throughout, I don't particularly believe them. Do you?