AAA and Abigails Astounding Race: Part Two
"Maraqua!" said Abigail.
"Underwater?" asked AAA at the same moment.
"That’s right!" replied the king. These racers can convert to boats, as well as submarines! And they can even fly a little." He chuckled, and pointed to Faerieland on the map. You’ll start here, at the Wheel of Excitement. Appropriate, don’t you think? He traced a line with his finger to Maraqua. "Then across the water, through Maraqua, over to Mystery Island, and finally, to Moltara. The finish line will be at the end of the Dark Cave. Underground caverns always make great racetracks in my book! Your racers have a map of the track on a screen inside them, so you’ll know exactly where you need to go. And you’ll notice checkpoints along the track. These are red lights on poles that will turn green as you pass them. So if your opponent has passed first, the light will already be green! But at least you’ll know you’re going the right direction. We wouldn’t want you getting lost! Now I’ll show you how to operate the racers. It’s very simple," he said, walking over to AAA’s vehicle. "This big green button starts the engine. This peddle on the right will speed you up, and the one on the left will slow you down. The wheel is for steering, obviously. Pull this lever in the middle back to go in reverse, or as a throttle while flying. And…" he said as he pointed to three buttons just behind the lever, "these buttons are the fun part. This blue one closest to the seat – it shows a submarine, see? – will cause the racer to transform into a submarine. While it’s doing that, please keeps your arms and legs inside the vehicle!" he said with a laugh. "This yellow one in the middle will…"
"Turn it into a boat!" interrupted Abigail, seeing the boat icon next to the button.
"That’s right. And the red one will turn it into a plane! But I’ve got to warn you, try not to use the plane too much."
"Why not?" asked AAA. He thought it sounded like the best mode to race in!
"Well, it gives you an unfair advantage," replied the King. "For that reason, I’ve had the racers programmed to only do a limited amount of flying. After a certain amount of use, you won’t be able to fly any longer. Anyway, as you can see, the buttons have this protective lid over them which you’ll have to lift before you change modes. I wouldn’t want you accidentally hitting one! And to change back to a regular ground vehicle, just hold down the last button you pressed. I think that’s everything… any questions?"
AAA and Abigail shook their heads. Enough talking – they were ready to start! The Bori mechanic walked over and helped them get situated in their vehicles. "Ok… close your eyes!" said King Roo. They did, and heard what sounded like a large laser getting ready to fire. Then they saw a flash on the back of their eyelids, and felt tingly all over. "Open!" said King Roo. They did… and saw that they were in Faerieland! "Teleporter!" said the king. "But it’s top secret, of course, so I can’t let anyone see it. I’ve sent us a little ways away from the Wheel of Excitement so you two can practice with the vehicles before we start the race. Ready? Let’s go!" AAA started his racer and headed for the Wheel. Abigail did too, or at least she tried to. She kept swerving, her vehicle weaving as if it were seasick. AAA made it to the Wheel of Excitement a full five minutes before her. "Great," he thought. "She’s even worse of a driver than I thought she’d be. Oh well. At least I’ll deliver a stunning victory!" He smirked, adjusting the racing goggles the mechanic had given him.
Abigail looked over at him and adjusted her goggles, too. "Why does he always have to be so smug?" she thought. "Oh well. At least I’ll have fun!"
King Roo stepped up beside the starting line, rubbing his forepaws together. "Ok, this is it!" he said. "On your marks?" The siblings nodded. "Wonderful! In that case… Ready… Set…" The light faerie at the Wheel of Excitement raised her arms, then she lowered them with a jerk (which was basically what she did all day anyway) when he shouted, "Go!"
AAA tore off instantaneously, literally leaving Abigail in his trail of dust. She couldn’t see anything, and on top of that, she was coughing. As the dust subsided, she tried to go as fast as he was, but almost immediately started to skid. "Ok… I’ll just start off slowly," she thought. "After all, it won’t help me any if I crash!"
AAA laughed with glee. Why had he been so cross earlier? This was going to be great! He was already so far ahead of Abigail that he couldn’t even see her. "Piece of cake," he thought. It may have been true that he was going to beat his sister by a huge margin, but so what? The more he thought about it, the less he cared. He didn’t need stiff competition. He rarely found it anymore, anyway. His sister probably wouldn’t even be able to finish the race! But the point was that he was going to win – and winning was what he liked more than anything.
"Going slow isn’t so bad," thought Abigail. "At least I can look around!" And look around she did. The first thing that came to her attention was a small Blue Grundo Plushie that appeared to be stuck in a tree. "Oh no!" she thought. It looked so sad… she had to see if she could help it! She pulled over and stopped her vehicle. She walked up to the plushie, and tried to pull it off the branch. It wouldn’t budge. "I’m sorry," she said. "Maybe I can come back later. Hang in there!" She realized the irony of this last statement as she turned back to her racer. She laughed, and thought, "I guess I really should be more concerned about catching up to AAA!" When she reached the vehicle, she noticed that there was a small sack of Neopoints in it. "That’s odd!" she thought. "I didn’t think I left any Neopoints here…" She shrugged, starting up the vehicle again.
Passing the Healing Springs, AAA found himself headed straight into a cavern he had never noticed before. Just as he was starting to wonder where it led, it ended, and he found himself on top of Jhudora’s Bluff. Green smoke was everywhere, clouding his vision, and he was forced to slow down. A small Kacheek who had been hiding nearby saw that he was slowing nearly to a crawl, and took the opportunity to approach him, running alongside the vehicle. "Hey!" he yelled. "Help me, please! I was supposed to get an item for Jhudora, and…"
"Great!" thought AAA. "Just what I need, another distraction! As if this nasty fog weren’t enough…" He sped up, blasting through the fog. He nearly hit a tree, which he managed to avoid by swerving at the last second.
A few minutes later, Abigail found herself emerging from the same cavern into the same smoke, or fog, or whatever it was. She slowed down, too, which meant that she was barely moving at all. The same Kacheek ran up to her. "Hey! Can you help me? Please!" She stopped. "I was supposed to get an item for Jhudora, but I couldn’t find it! She said she’d turn me into a Blechy if I didn’t bring it to her! I want to run away, but I’ve been wandering around lost in this fog…" He looked like he was very young, and he must have been quite upset, because he started to cry.
"Oh!" exclaimed Abigail. "Don’t worry; it’s ok! I don’t think she’ll actually turn you into anything! She probably just says things like that to make sure she gets her items. But you know what? I have a map that shows me where to go to get out of here. Hop in, you can ride with me!" Still sniffling, the small pet climbed into her vehicle. "Thank you! I was getting really scared!" Abigail’s map showed that she needed to go to Faerie City next, so she headed that way, dropping off the Kacheek as she entered the city. He waved, then ran off toward his home.
AAA had raced through the city at record speed, he was sure. "I’ll bet those Faerie Racers wouldn’t even be able to keep up with me!" he thought. He took a turnoff behind the buildings – a small path which led him to the top of a waterfall. There was a star marked there on his map, so he knew that was his destination. At the top there was a red light on top of a pole. "Yes, the first checkpoint!" thought AAA. It had an arrow on it pointing out toward the sea. The light turned green as AAA passed it, and he stopped as he reached the water’s edge. "Here goes!" he said as he pressed the yellow button. The racer began to shake and creak as it transformed into a seagoing vessel.
Abigail could hardly contain her excitement. Faerie City! She had always wanted to visit here! She heard a "whoosh" above her, and looked up just in time to see two Faerie Racers speed by. Wow! And here she was, just like one of them! Well, close enough, anyway. She looked back down at the road only to realize that in her moment of distraction, she had gotten off the intended path. "Time to turn around," she thought.
CRASH! It was a good thing she had been going slow, because she had just run right into something solid. But she didn’t see anything! She sat there for a moment, confused. Then she realized – the Hidden Tower! She had actually found it – by running into it. Great.
She stepped out of the vehicle to inspect the damage. The front of it was smashed, and of course she couldn’t tell what condition the wall was in. Putting her hand on the invisible wall in front of her, she felt for a crack. Yep! There was one, right where she had hit it. Not only was that Bori mechanic going to be mad at her, but so was the Faerie Queen! She sighed in dismay. Keeping her hand against the wall, she walked around what must have been the back of the building until she found what felt like a door. She turned the knob, opened it, and stepped into the stairwell that had seemed to appear out of nowhere. Closing the door behind her, she made her way up the steps – it seemed like hundreds. All she could keep thinking was, "I can’t believe it! I’m actually going to meet Queen Fyora! And I’ll have to tell her I just crashed into her tower…" She finally reached the top of the stairs, and stepped into a room that was magnificent beyond her wildest imaginings.
Beautiful artifacts beyond description lined the shelves, and the air itself seemed to glow with a golden luminescence. Abigail realized that she was standing stupefied with her mouth hanging open, and that Queen Fyora was looking right at her. She abruptly snapped her mouth shut. Then she realized she was staring at the queen! "How rude of me!" she thought, and quickly curtsied. "Welcome! I see you’ve found my Hidden Tower," said Fyora. "Is there something you’re interested in?"
"Your highness!" said Abigail. "No… I’m so sorry!" she paused, not quite sure how she should phrase the problem.
The queen smiled. "There is no need to apologize! You are not required to buy anything."
Abigail shook her head. "No, I know… I mean… well, what happened is…" she gulped, and closed her eyes. "I was racing and I got lost and ran into your tower!"
To be continued…