AAA and Abigails Astounding Race:Part Four
Finally, she saw the last Mystery Island checkpoint just ahead! She was almost there when… was that AAA?!? She came abruptly to a halt, and backed up so she could see better. It was! She couldn’t believe her eyes -- he was sleeping in the middle of a race! She moved forward slowly, not wanting to wake him. Maybe now she could actually have a chance at winning! She kept going until she was far along the beach; after all, she didn’t want the noise to wake AAA when she turned her vehicle back into a boat.
She finally made the switch, then sped along in her boat toward the entrance to Moltara, and even when she was nearly there, AAA was nowhere in sight. "Yes! I can’t believe it!" she thought. She could never have dreamed she’d beat AAA at anything, let alone a racing game. He was the Games Master, after all! She changed her racer back to a car and carefully made her way along the crumbly path that led down into the depths of Moltara. The first checkpoint was right next to Town Hall – and it was red, yes! It turned green as she passed it. She drove carefully toward the caves, trying to avoid the strange, brightly colored worms in her path, as well as the many pets carrying metal and stone back and forth among the buildings.
When she reached the caves, she found them sealed off. Confused, she stopped. Looking around, she noticed a very distinguished Chomby nearby, whom she assumed was the mayor. He saw her questioning look and approached her.
"Hello, young lady. Did you come to tour the caves?"
"Yes, I thought that was likely the case. I’m sorry, but they’re temporarily closed off. The magma flows seem to be particularly active today, and I wouldn’t want any injuries!"
Abigail was crestfallen. "Oh… I see…" Confused and disappointed by this development, her mind seemed blank, and she didn’t know what else to say.
The Mayor could see that she was upset. "You’ll be able to come back another day, as soon as it calms down in there," he said soothingly.
By now, Abigail had managed to collect her thoughts somewhat. "Thank you, sir; it’s just that I needed to go in today. I’m in a race with my brother. King Roo set it up, and we have to go through the caves to reach the finish line!"
"I see," said the Mayor thoughtfully. "I notice you’re wearing a very special medallion. I’m sure I recognize it – did Queen Fyora give it to you?"
Abigail brightened noticeably from the change of subject. "Oh, yes! She gave it to me this morning! Isn’t it lovely?"
The Mayor smiled. "Yes, and I happen to know she only gives those out to Neopets whom she believes are particularly trustworthy. I’ll tell you what. If you’ll agree to let Tangor go with you to make sure you stay safe, and to drive very carefully, of course, I’ll let you go through the tunnels."
Abigail beamed. "I will be careful! Thank you so much! …Who’s Tangor?"
The Mayor asked Abigail to wait a few minutes while he went to Tangor’s workshop to ask for his help. "After all, he owes me a favor," he said. Tangor arrived, and managed to fit in the back of the racer, behind Abigail’s seat.
"All right, miss, I hope you know what you’re doing!" he said.
"Me too!" said Abigail, which made the Mynci just a little nervous.
They headed slowly through the caves, magma spewing up in high fountains on each side of the path. In some places, the flowing magma completely covered the trail, but it didn’t seem to hurt the racer’s tires. "It’s a good thing they built this to be so sturdy," thought Abigail. "And at least if something does go wrong, I have a mechanic with me!" She was anxious about the treacherous path but hoped her caution would prevent anything bad from happening. "No more distractions!" she thought.
Back on Mystery Island, AAA awoke with a start. How long had he been sleeping?!? A wave of panic flooded over him as he realized that the sun was setting. He ran to his racer, jumped in, and started it, immediately pressing the button to transform it to a boat. Hopefully Abigail was still behind him, but there was no guarantee of that. "Drat, just my luck!" he thought. He would have to push extra hard now in order to win.
The plane! He had almost forgotten about it! He had only just left the shore, so he turned back and beached the racer. Pushing the button to change the vehicle to a plane, he felt a thrill of exhilaration and triumph. This would definitely put him ahead of Abigail! He knew she was too much of a fraidy-Aisha to attempt flying a plane. He cruised along the beach for a minute, then achieved a perfect liftoff. He headed straight for the entrance to Moltara. Moltara… Hmm, now that presented a problem. There was a chance that Abigail had made it there ahead of him. If only he could fly the plane there! But of course, he couldn’t fly a plane underground. Or could he?
He landed at the entrance to Moltara, wrenching open the large door. He peered down. Although it was dark, he could just make out a narrowly winding path clinging to the wall, leading steeply down to the city. "Don’t need that," thought AAA.
He pushed his plane through the entrance and started it up. He did a nosedive straight down into the middle of the town. There wasn’t a runway to speak of, and when he landed he careened about the city wildly, narrowly missing various buildings, Neopets, and some glowing blobs that he couldn’t quite make out. When he finally came to a stop, he immediately pressed the button to transform the plane back into a land vehicle. As he drove past the city hall, he noticed that the checkpoint was green – meaning his sister had already passed it. This revelation only increased AAA’s determination.
After nearly an hour of navigating harrowing passageways, Abigail had finally emerged from the tunnels into the large, main cavern beyond Moltara City. Here the magma was slightly calmer, although not by much. At least she had more room and didn’t constantly have to worry that she was going to fall in! She drove slightly faster until she was stopped by a wise-looking Magma Gnorbu. He held up his hand, and she stopped to see what he wanted. "I see you are heading for the Dark Cave," he said.
"Yes!" replied Abigail. "How did you know?"
He smiled mysteriously. "I have my ways. Before you enter the cave, I must warn you that it is extremely dark, darker than the blackest night. But even more important is this – there is a monster who lives within the caves, destroying all who cross his path."
Abigail gasped. "A monster?! What should I do?"
The Gnorbu smiled again. "Like the darkness, this can be overcome. The solution lies within your hands." With that mysterious advice (if you could even call it advice, thought Abigail), the Gnorbu turned and left.
"Great, now what do I do?" she asked.
"Beats me," said Tangor. "’Within your hands’… You holding anything?"
Abigail opened her hands. Nope. "I have no idea what he was talking about!" she said. "He’s not crazy or something, is he?"
Tangor laughed. "No, I think he just enjoys being mysterious. We Moltarans are always careful to follow his advice, though… when we can make out what he’s telling us, that is! He usually knows what he’s talking about."
Abigail was suddenly struck with an idea. "Hey! What about you? Do you have anything in your hands?"
Tangor looked down at his hands. "Mmm… Nope! Just the back of your seat." He laughed.
"Darn. Let’s see… I was holding the steering wheel before, but I don’t see how that helps. I guess he wasn’t being literal," said Abigail, and sighed.
Tangor snapped his fingers. "I know! It’s those silly worms!"
"Yeah, yeah. I remember Lampwyck was telling me that you can actually put those glowing worms in a lantern. Fancy that, a worm lantern! But I guess it’s what pets usually do to light their way in the Dark Cave."
"But we can’t go back to Lampwyck to get a lantern! He’s in the city, and that would take too long," Abigail said.
"True," replied the Mynci. "But I am good with this sort of thing," he said, smiling. "You go out and collect the worms, and I’ll see if I can’t rig us up a makeshift lantern."
Abigail managed to collect several of the glowing worms, and when she returned, Tangor had indeed managed to cobble together what Abigail assumed was supposed to be a lantern.
"Like I always say, never go anywhere without scrap metal in your pockets!" said the craftsman.
Abigail almost laughed, but then she realized that he was serious. "I guess I’ll have to keep that advice in mind!" she thought whimsically.
"I’ll stay in back and hold the lantern," said Tangor.
"Oh, thank you so much! Everyone’s been so kind to me today, especially you," said Abigail.
"You’re very welcome, little lady. And I’d say you’re one who deserves it. In my experience, what goes around comes around, and you seem like the helpful sort yourself."
To Be Continued...